Wednesday 30 June 2021

The deeply "problematic" spectacle of Batley & Spen (2)

Following on my first set of observations from the ever-worsening disgrace that is the Batley & Spen by-election, Kev suggested BTL: "... the Labour movement (and nearly all left wing institutions) control the agenda..." and I replied that it could be argued differently.  That's very specifically as regards Labour qua political party, but more widely as well.  Let's take the first of these, and start with ...

Caution: pick your words carefully when commenting on this BTL - particularly to the extent you agree with Kev's point above - because (consistent with what he says) Social Meejah are wont to close accounts down these days.

In fact, this is a post I could have written more than a year ago, but have held back from doing so for that very reason.  Why has my "discretion" been shaken off now?  Because B&S provides at least some topcover.

*   *   *   *   *

After their 2019 GE debacle there were several post mortems coming out of Labour, some of them lengthy and produced after much deliberation.  They mostly all said this was no time for taboos / sacred cows / mincing words etc; and they fearlessly (more or less) debated the impact both the personality of Corbyn and the shifting Brexit stances with which they'd tied themselves up in knots.  Antisemitism came up a bit too - although at the time they they were fairly hamstrung by the pending EHRC thing and legal considerations around that.  They even touched on some culture-war aspects, although that wasn't quite the term of art it's become over the past 12 months.

But there was one aspect potentially having some explanatory value, that I didn't see any of them daring to broach (just like me, in fact).  It's been well and truly aired now, however.  How might a party fare with the electorate as a whole, if it was perceived to be The Party of The Muslim Vote? 

Now because the ranks of the Voluble Left are stuffed with very clever, analytic people, it's inconceivable they hadn't mulled this one over: they must therefore have decided it was off-limits.  In many respects it's the same issue as the one that had everyone running for cover when the paramilitary uniforms came out in Brixton last summer, which we discussed along similar lines at the time.  The Labour leadership knows it cannot be even loosely associated with that stuff in the public's mind and will take pains to put great distance between themselves and whatever is out there: an absolute strategic imperative.   

But Batley & Spen has unleashed every sordid aspect of this in 3D technicolour, complete with highly plausible accusations that "Labour is ashamed of these voters": and (from Li'l Owen Jones) that the Labour leadership is willing to "throw [the Muslim community] under a bus" (sic).

Problematic, or what?  And the consequences have also now been explicated by the Left.  In sum: Labour needs the Muslim block vote in seat after seat: but it just can't be seen doing what might be needed in order to retain it.  A dilemma for Labour as acute and as existential as (with different dynamics) Scotland is for them.  I can't imagine the LibDems or the Greens are exactly comfortable right now, either.  

And they're all faced with an opponent - the Tory Party - that needs do nothing but remain silent which, in the rancid circumstances of B&S, looks like the dignified position anyhow.  When they've finished shedding each other's blood (and that might not be for a good while yet) the Left won't be slow to complain loudly about that, too.  Look look: the Tories are not saying anything!

This is an issue of far more import than just the tactical party politics of 2021. Also, to my mind, none of it speaks to the Left having a particularly firm grip on The Agenda, even if there's a strong argument to say they once did - at least up until 2016-ish.  Looks more to me like the bar of soap is squirming in their unsteady hands, fit to shoot out of their grasp.  There's another hot example offering more evidence for this, which I'll float in the next few days.  

Having said that, B&S might continue to be a wholly diverting spectacle for some time to come - for those who don't stay with the altogether healthier option of the footy ...


Footnote after polling day: 

Labour Batley campaign source says: “Basically built a new electoral coalition in six weeks. Lost the conservative Muslim vote over gay rights and Palestine, and won back a lot of 2019 Tory voters” “This result shows we’re reconnecting with the wider electorate again” 


PS: this is a great essay on the overall mess Labour is in.  Some very well-crafted writing within.

Tuesday 29 June 2021

France vs Switzerland and the limits of the power of money

 I don't normally write about the Football here (despite being one of my main real life hobbies), but it got me thinking last night about the meaning of money and wages. The reason for this was the performance of the French team against Switzerland. Both sides full of highly paid footballers - albeit not playing for money in an international tournament. 

One of the main and best players on the French team was Paul Pogba, he even scored a sumptuous goal to put France up 3-1. However, even though he played quite well, he was very fitful. Indeed the last Swiss goal was caused by him losing the ball. 

The whole French team could only really be bothered to try for a few minutes in the second half, they went 3-1 up but it was not enough in the end. The Swiss soldiered on. 

The reason I mention wages is this is also, for Paul Pogba, the same criticism he gets at Manchester united, in that he rarely plays to his potential. No matter how much money, or in international matches, fame and reputation, is at stake, he can't motivate himself. 

For businesses, this is a sound reason not to overpay salaries or to expect people to transform themselves into better workers because of pay rises. Much better is performance based pay that might impact behaviours, but the Euro's show us that even this is a very hard thing to achieve. 

Sunday 27 June 2021

In defence of Hancock: details, details ...

There's no handier scapegoat than a figure of fun - though clearly Johnson has no moral standing whatever in such matters.  But let it be said in Hancock's defence: he was fully engaged with his responsibilities at a level of considerable detail.

I am reliably told that when specific ministerial decisions were required, region by region, he would always call for the full stats down to the level of individual second-tier local authorities - the smallest level of granularity dealt with by Whitehall - and consider them in detail (where most politicians would pretend to cast a quick eye, and go with whatever the functionaries were proposing).

I realise some of you may respond - so HE'S the bastard responsible!  And he had to go.  But he has my respect on these grounds.  The Napoleons and Wellingtons of this world did not achieve what they did by idly accepting the plans of others and taking the detail on trust.  We have too many lazy f*****s "at the Top" in public life who want to be everything but are content to do nothing.  "King of the World", my arse.


Friday 25 June 2021

The spectacle of Batley & Spen, pt 1

Oh this is interesting, with many facets.  Today I'm just picking up on the Labour leadership thing.  Occasioned by Hartlepool, a few weeks ago we mused over how Starmer's Red Wall travails play with Khan, Burnham and (as a bit of an afterthought) Rayner.  

Within hours of posting I ran across some indications that Rayner's personal ambitions were every bit the equal of the others, and her manoeuverings much the more active - she, unlike the two quite hardworking mayors, has no other serious responsibilities (despite her risible list of "official" appointments in the wake of her botched demotion by Starmer) and seems to be on the leadership trail 24/7, with the surreptitious funding to match.

So, two by-elections and a heap of bad-news-for-Starmer later, we come to the next bear trap for the People's Party:  courtesy of George "Spoiler" Galloway, there appears to be every chance the Tories take the seat.  That's what he hopes, anyway.  Anticipating a big opportunity for change within the party hierarchy, knives are out in every corner and neither Rayner nor Burnham are particularly shy of reminding people they exist as alternatives.

You can trawl this stuff all over the place (indeed, troll it too if the mood takes you) but for those who don't choose to sully their browers, as a service to readers let me summarise how many on the left see this falling:

  • there's a very good chance of humiliation for Labour at the poll
  • Starmer has taken some rather lame preemptive measures to bolster his position, but will find the consequent crescendo of hostility hard to manage
  • the Blairite Right, having installed him and propped him up, will tell him at gunpoint he must on no account resign, for a very technical reason: only 20 nominations are required for a leadership bid if the incumbent resigns (the Parliamentary Left can muster that), but it'd be 40 if he's challenged while in post (which they probably can't)
  • having thus strapped Ed Cid to his horse, they will send him out of the castle gates for one last battle - to change the leadership election rules to turn it back into a parliament-only electoral college, thus slamming the door on the Left forever
  • in the meantime, it's no-holds-barred infighting all the way, blood everywhere and serious collateral damage done, all the while trying to figure out a plausible candidate for whatever faction you support - which ain't easy, see the Left's turmoil over selecting a candidate to replace McCluskey ...
  • ... and how to promote them into the Top Job because (as it's reckoned Rayner knows only too well), (s)he who wields the knife ...  At this rate, they'll get Miliband E back.  (Well, it won't be a women - will it?)

This student-politics stuff is the very essence of Labour and they are welcome to it.  Live by the sword, die by the sword - and great spectator sport it is, too.  For Part 1 of my armchair analysis, I conclude by taking the story-so-far full circle, and musing once more upon Sadiq Khan's approach to all this.  He has absolutely no locus that I can see - far less, anyhow, than Burnham - and it all comes far, far too early for him.  What does he do?  I am guessing there's only one solid strategy: work for (or even just hope for) as messy an outcome as possible, so that it can only possibly be an interim state of affairs, with the can bouncing far enough down the road that he'll be able to pick it up in due course.  

Part 2 before polling day itself.  Have a great weekend!  The soccer is a much healthier pastime ...


Wednesday 23 June 2021

Hitting back at China - imports ban and trade war?

 Following on from the last post, suggesting we try a worldwide bond default to de-stabilise China if it continues to deny its involvement in allowing Corona to escape into the global population, another way would be trade sanctions. 

China thrives on trade, this is why it invests so much in its Belt and Road programme to connect it to the world to allow its goods to flow. These goods generate the hard currency needed to keep improving its economy. 

Of course, China produces a huge amount of the key goods for the world and even though is viewed as short of commodities, has a strong market on key elements such as rare earths - hence dominating mobile phone production for example. 

But we could also use our 'Green Agenda" to stop say importing hard plastic products or things like steel that we know are produce using high energy processes. This may hurt the UK economy in some ways, but there are other suppliers and some domestic businesses could step in. 

China's reaction is unlikely to hurt us more, we export so little to them really. Burberry might not like it. However, US and Germany may not be so supportive of this stance as it is a bigger proportion of their GDP in exports. 

China won't like the 'war' that occurs as it will deeply damage its image so it still remains a good shout, not like hitting them in their pocket directly though perhaps.  

Monday 21 June 2021

How do we retaliate for China's release of coronavirus - hit them in their bonds

 President Biden has quickly caught up with the former President in deciding China is the new bogeyman, as Nick Drew wrote so eloquently last week. 

The big issue raised is what does the world do if China is found, either through malice or incompetence, to have released Covid-19 on the rest of us?

One idea might be to hit them where it hurts. The Chinese take much pleasure in selling the West goods and lending us the money to buy, all created out of the hidden Central Bank of China. No one really knows if the Chinese accounts all add up - for China, as Communists, what so they care, the Capitalist system was there to be used against it. 

But since they have adopted State Capitalism in China, we could en masse potentially exploit this position. If China refused reparations, the West and indeed practically every Country in the world could cancel bonds to the tune of the reparations demanded. 

Normally, this wholesale abuse of the rules would be heavily punished by the markets, but if all Countries did it, investors might well believe this was a one off - plus in this scenario China is guilty and  refusing any other punishments under international law or protocols. 

Hitting China's debt would be a doubly beneficial punishment, it would reduce the Chinese appetite for lending at crazy rates around the world to further political ends. it would help the rest of the world cope with the debts of the covid crisis, meanwhile hitting the founder of it and causing them the pain which they had inflicted economically. 

I know the Governments are busy working up their ideas for retaliation,  I wonder if this might be one.

Friday 18 June 2021

Jonathan Sumption, Planet-sized Brain? Hmm

Many years ago I was involved in a truly massive litigation.  Both sides were desperate to get Sumption on the case, such was the awe in which he was held.  I heard it from enough lawyers that I'm inclined to believe it.  Now, of course, he's retired (from the Supreme Court) and is making a name for himself on the libertarian side of the debate over Covid lockdown etc.  Several of our BTL readers have warmly advocated reading his works; and we should all be glad of brainpower and general firepower on the side of anti statism and wokery - Heaven knows, there may be enough need of it in the years to come.


I have just read one of his DTel pieces; and if that brain really is as big as claimed, well, it's being deployed for partisan sophistry here - hardly unknown in the legal profession, of course, but not at all becoming.  

Here's one of the offending passages.

There were only ever two rational choices [back in Feb-March 2020].  One was a total lockdown until all vulnerable groups had been vaccinated, which would have been politically impossible if the Government had been upfront about it.  The other was a voluntary system under which people were allowed to take responsibility for their own risks assessments.

That statement of the range of possibilities open to the government at that time is wholly lacking in merit as a piece of analysis - a classic trial-lawyer's contrived framing of the kind "if the glove don't fit, you must acquit".  It can be contested on almost every phrase (particularly since "only ever" is so strong) and is self-evidently a grotesque over-simplification on a massive issue.  To fall for it is to be a putty-in-his-hands member of the gullible OJ Simpson jury.  Maybe that's your average DTel reader.  

But for a man as rich as Croesus with the fine reputation he built, he should be above that kind of stuff at this point in his 'career'.


Tuesday 15 June 2021

Ian Botham - Who'd Have Thought?

Here's something that surprised me greatly: the Thoughts of Ian Botham in the DTel (paywall) on those persons deserving plaudits for having the "biggest impact on climate change".  The runner-up in his caustic awards is Chris Packham, "Travel Hero", for his paid promotion of costly & exotic holidays in faraway places - holidays with large carbon footprints, naturally.  Turns out Botham has a longstanding feud (or 'beef', we might say ...) going with Packham - I didn't know about that, either.

But Botham's top award goes to Drax, as well it may, for its extraordinary and deeply counterproductive consumption of trees in its furnaces - subsidised royally by ourselves at around a billion £££ a year.  He even quotes - near enough - from a C@W of 4 years ago ...

This is a man after my own heart.  Top bloke, Botham!


Saturday 12 June 2021

OK: Cold War It Is - weekend essay

It's been said by various commentators recently that Joe Biden is in town looking for recruits for a new Cold War - against China this time, natch.  I have reluctantly concluded that he's exactly right.

*   *   *   *   *

Way back in the 1980s I wrote an article for a long-forgotten magazine (no, not the St Custard's School Review) lauding the upside of the then-prevailing Cold War with the Soviet Union.  We in the West benefitted from the basic background discipline of potential life-and-death conflict.  It kept us sharp, broadly united, unlikely to be at each others' throats over trivia; justified a capable military, resilience and general preparedness; provided a salutary reminder to our own lefties that they were essentially leaning the wrong way towards a world of patent nastiness and economic failure that we confidently rejected.  FWIIW I also suggested that, were this state of affairs to end, we would lapse into a flabby state of complacency and corruption.

At the time of writing this stuff, I had no inkling it was all coming to an end quite as soon as it did.  But what happened next?  Not quite the End of History, of course, nor indeed the end of communism, of which more later.  But, over the years, a trend that had already started in the '80s, towards economic liberalism and the dynamic globalisation of open markets, really took off in a big way.  I don't think we can be quite sure whether it would have been so dramatically successful had the Sovs managed to hang on: aside from eastern Europe, their writ never ran in most of the places where markets opened; though I suppose you could argue that Cold War disciplines also suppressed animal spirits in the commercial sphere.  But boy, market opening really worked.

And so, far from sitting around worrying about complacency, corruption and loss of discipline, I blasted around the world doing free-market energy business (that being my line) from Houston to Hong Kong, Stockholm to Senegal.  I was never remotely motivated ideologically by "neo-liberalism" - just Better Business: you could always undercut a bloated former monopoly!  Of course, there was a bit of free-market proseltysing, often tongue-in-cheek to annoy the incumbents: in France - "monsieur, vous ne comprenez pas le service publique"; in Germany - "vee don't do sings like zat here: now get back to ze airport or vee vill buy your leedle company!"; and of course the Tennessee Valley Authority - "we're Number One, and that's how it's goan stay: giddouda here, boy!"  They were all wrong, and we were right.  I really had a great time in that period; it was constructive, productive, win-win, profitable - and it felt right, by a range of not-particularly-ideological** criteria.

Well, none of that logic has changed (and, FWIIW, it's still rolling out into places where open markets have somehow passed by, or been resisted: the Chinese electricity sector is next.  Politicians everywhere have spotted that it really works by the standards that matter: absolute efficiency and, if done right, greater resilience.)  And it's not just energy, of course.  But.  It's hard not to agree with some on the left that Open Markets are not the last word in what makes society economically healthy for the long term.  Complacency, corruption and loss of discipline are just the start.  Ignore the benefits of free trade at your peril; but the more fanciful dreams of the wilder advocates of total laissez-faire are pretty juvenile.  And they look even sillier when operating in the same global commercial space as the Chinese state-capitalist juggernaut, the new and very dark cloud on the horizon we haven't alluded to yet, and which wasn't really foreseen by Mr End-of-History Fukuyama.  It's been clear for a while now that the challenge is not just "they produce everything much cheaper than we can" - I hardly need to go any further on the multi-dimensional threat they pose.

And such is the confidence of the CPC, they evidently ain't planning on doing anything other than doubling down in all of those dimensions, having been rewarded mightily so far and seeing no reason to anything other than put a slightly softer gloss on their official PR.  Where they're at right now can barely be tolerated - although Heaven knows, unprincipled western politicians everywhere, thinking only of the $$$, will try to find reasons to do just that.  And all of that doubled-down?  Unless the Chinese make the most extraordinary and tangible offer to the entire world at COP-26, I can't see the status quo lasting much beyond a frosty Winter Olympics next year: something is going to break.

And it needs to.  So Joe: looks like it falls to you and your supposed diplomatic skills, to circle the wagons and (switching idioms) put down some lines in the sand.  That's the sand of Taiwan and many other Pacific Islands for starters, and a host of metaphoric beaches across the planet.  Then settle down for the long haul.  We have a precedent, 1945-1990.  It wasn't entirely a happy state of affairs.  It took confidence and realism and stamina.  And leadership: without that, everyone starts looking at their shoes and shuffling off to make private accommodations with the new Power In The Land.

None of this is because I enjoyed being a 1970s-80s cold-war warrior in the Army (though, to be fair, I did).  I really bought off on that peace dividend - I really believed we were making a go of it, and for 30 years have been enjoying that, too.  Lots of us have.  Remember also: the point of waging a cold war is to minimise the chances of a hot one which, in a world of bio and cyber threats, is as pressing an imperative as when it was basically only nukes that really troubled us.

Let's finish with some practical points.  Joe, you and your new posse gotta rescue already-subborned New Zealand, and make Australia feel a lot more comfortable with its situation.  Fast.  Otherwise it'll be clear that your reach is only to those lazy countries that are a comfortable distance away from the coming action in the Far East.  And even they will still be defending their precious Sino-exports and graduate-student fee income, hoping nobody will notice or mind too much.



** I realise, of course, that this can be disputed ...

Friday 11 June 2021

El Salvador goes crypto

 Already a shady place, El Salvador has decided to go all out and embrace its heritage. Rather than be a dollarised economy, it is the first large economy to declare bitcoin as its main currency. No longer will Uncle Sam's interest rate changes or weak dollar games impac El Salvador. 

So on one level this makes sense, many Central and South American countries are stuck in the dollarised trap after managing their own currencies proved too much for them and the markets. This on paper is a way out to freedom and stability. 

But Bitcoin is traded for huge gains and losses every day, it is not stable at all. So I do sense a fault in this scheme. There are still many who think it will all collapse tomorrow (then again, this is true of the Greenback too). 

El Salvador is going to be in for a helluva ride....certainly more than England, Scottish or Welsh fans over the next few weeks!

Thursday 10 June 2021

Family Life At The Top

So, starting with the Sussex brood: how felicitous a name is Lilibet Diana?  Imagine the Team Sussex PR people salivating over that.  Oh, the subliminals, the baggage it carries: so much to be unpacked!  On one reading - a very charitable reading - we might even speculate that the poor child's third and fourth names were Olive Branch.

Except no: it turns out there's no persuasive charitable reading, it's the usual MM tricky, sniping politics all the way.

Ho hum: but here's a thought.  Since we now know this was all plotted before Lily was born, it means the Sussex's were assigning gender based solely on sex.  Outrageous!  Before they'd even asked the child what it identifies as!   A few lost woke-votes there, I'd say.  Oh Harry, how could you?

Which brings us to the other Happy News of the month, the new Mrs Johnson.  The MSM are full of stories of how she's going to be a prominent hostess at the G7.  What I haven't seen in the MSM - but I can assure you it's the case - is the reason they were married this month was exactly that: Carrie would have had no standing at the G7 without The Ring - mere "girlfriend" doesn't get to queen it around Cornwall in charge of The Other Wives.  Couldn't have that, could we?

Pip pip!


Tuesday 8 June 2021

A welcome back to Brexit and an EU sausage story

 Om my how much Covid-19 changed the world. For five years, the UK national conversation was nothing but the screeches of Brexit from all sides and endless comment and opinion pieces (I offer no defence, m'lud). Covid put a stop to all of that, we have heard little of Brexit since it was done.

Pre-dating even that, were the horror stories, originally more or less invented by one B. Johnson when the Telegraph's EU correspondent, about 'bendy bananas' and other such hilarious single market rules and regulations. This was a 20 year feast for British newspapers so to speak. 

And lo, here we are in 2021 and we get a perfect marrying of the two old trends. Firstly, the Northern Ireland compromise, never really a compromise and designed solely to get Brexit done as per instructions from the British electorate is coming unstuck. The EU have decided that the main reason for this is the importation of British sausages (and mince) to Northern Ireland that now require health certificates for Export to the EU - certificates which, um, don't exist in the EU.

This has long been a simmering issue and it a classic of its kind. The UK, on doing Brexit, knew there was this risk as the Industry bodies have highlighted it for ages. In a typical fudge, the UK extended a grace period whilst negotiations were ongoing. However, the EU does not have to budge and it has not. It will simply insist Northern Ireland imports from Ireland and the EU itself - after all that is the point of their closed single market! The Eu commissioner is wallowing in joy at being seen to be fair, yet beastly to the Brits. 

Meanwhile, the UK side can't believe the EU will be so intransigent and ignore all efforts to make exceptions for the UK. Lord Frost in particular, can't seem to understand the EU does not care about playing fair and sees the UK as a third country. 

In fact, the situation is about to get worse,  as for less high-risk meats such as frozen produce, the non-EU country of origin must be authorised for imports into the EU, and establishments that produce the meat must also be approved to follow EU standards. The UK has yet to be listed as such a country, which is cause of concern to British meat producers, some of which are heavily reliant on exports to the EU.

Brexit is back and back for good, I hope no one thought it would ever go away. Perhaps at the G7 meeting compromise will be reached, but it seems unlikely, the EU is being very tough, but is on solid legal ground on these issues and as we know, has past form for insisting on bizarre terms for food import and export. 

Friday 4 June 2021

The Hinkley Point TV Drama

Did anyone see the extravagent airtime awarded by the Beeb to EDF's PR department in its Hinkley Point "documentary"?   Obviously we've been here before with the Beeb's "Powering Britain" (Energy is Big and Sexy) series: but that was fairly spread among a group of different assets that have "truly-massive-engineering / nice-photography-on-a-sunny-day" TV appeal.  But this one is all for EDF.

How much did EDF have to pay them?

Only three more episodes to marvel at.   Given that there's nothing yet to see at Hinkley except vast civil engineering, it's just "Watching Concrete Dry".  A prime comedy slot.


Thursday 3 June 2021

COP-26: Fiasco Foretold

I'm not sure what coincidence has the UK hosting both the G7 and COP-26 within months of each other, but there we are: two rather visible "opportunities" for Boris to go grandstanding on the world stage and promote whatever vision he has of post-Brexit Britain.  And he's already decided they must go ahead in the flesh, carbon footprint and all.  What could go wrong?

It's COP-26 that could go wrong: but the G7 may play a role in this too.

G7 itself will always be relatively straightforward: it's a meeting of friends (more or less), all fairly united against, *ahem*, China & Russia & general global wickedness, all happy to subscribe to a self-congratulatory closing communiqué.  It's being held in sunny Cornwall with the usual excellent preparations (we are still very good at this kind of thing).  Local businesses and residents that might be adversely impacted have been given a bung to holiday somewhere else for the duration.  There's a big local RAF station (with one of the world's longest runways) nearby for security, and making Biden's people feel comfortable.  (Check it out on google earth - there's a baseball diamond right in the middle ...)  Many of the entourages will be housed on a cruise ship offshore Falmouth, nicely out of harm's way.

BUT.  The protesters are massing.  Us all being democracies, like, this is to be, errr, accepted if not really encouraged.  OK, it's quite hard for XR to intercept VIPs who are being helicoptered in from very secure locations ... but hey, it's summertime; some of these nutters like to spend their summers stoned and causing trouble on the beaches around Newquay anyway; they've become pretty adept at making spectacles of themselves; and the media love a good visual ...

Hopefully not: but I think we may foresee some bother.  But that could be quite domestic in scale (and easy to contain) compared with what might happen in Glasgow in November when something like 30,000 delegates show up.  Some of those will essentially be protesters themselves - and try keeping them all out of harm's way.  Does Boris have a plan that ends triumphantly for him?  It doesn't seem that there could be any certainty about that in advance.

  • the protesters will have had a dry run at G7, and will potentially have some scores to settle with Plod.  There's many a conference in the past that is mostly known for the fisticuffs.
  • the EU won't exactly be cheering Boris on.
  • so many countries now have "legally binding" zero-carbon targets, there's loads of scope for legalistic nit-picking about whether Enough Is Being Done - quite sufficient to derail a grandiose closing statement of the kind the hosts always want to make.

After herculean diplomatic efforts before and during, the French only just pulled this off at COP-21 in 2015, and then, only by a sleight of hand - Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, hahah! - that everyone's rumbled now.  Indeed, it was widely pilloried for its emptiness almost immediately afterwards.

We may be sure the NGOs will be after something as lot more tangible this time.  Sadly, I fear this means Boris will promise something Green, unilateral and tremendously stupid on our behalves to get his headlines.  Oh dear.


Tuesday 1 June 2021

Economics is B.S., and Clever People Haven't a Clue

I'm sorry, but macro economics just ain't a respectable discipline.

Read this long piece from the highly regarded Chris Dillow - manifestly a very smart guy** and admirably balanced in his pronouncements - and tell me any politician has a hope in Hell of figuring out from it what to do next, by way of some kind of logical conclusion.  One the one hand.  On the other.  Maybe.  But, but, but.  Maybe not.

Nope, there's no chance that intelligent people can be expected to agree on how to interpret a given set of facts by the lights of macro economics.

The human condition.  Outside of the hard sciences, smart people see no reason to agree on very much at all.  And then they wonder why people like Corbyn and Johnson get to the top.



**OK, he says he's a marxist, I know.