Tuesday 31 August 2021

Inflation Edges Ahead. Or Not

We keep having this debate, don't we?  Raging inflation just around the corner - or merely a knee-jerk reaction based on misinterpreting various straws in the wind?

Well, today we learn that Eurozone CPI has hit 3%, a ten-year high.  Aluminium is way up, along with most of the supply chain for building stuff (notably, 'green' stuff).  Oil has come off its July peak, but natural gas is actually quite scary.

Then again ... we seem set to be importing a whole new wave of cheap labour.  The day that the Unions long for, when the Brexit / Covid labour shortage** really kicks in and transforms the relationship between capital and labour, never quite seems to arrive.

And people are repaying their mortgages.  And CU is away, so we can't even ask him.

Maybe we should have a compo:  UK CPI for December 2021, anybody?



** Earlier this month we did a short west-country tour, during which we patronised 7 establishments (hotels, restaurants).  Didn't hear a single non-Brit voice amongst any of the staff.  Wouldn't have been able to say that three years ago.

Thursday 26 August 2021

Wind Your Neck In, Tony Blair

Blast from the past ...

We're hearing too much from that man.  Originally penned with Iraq in mind, but the song remains the same.  The usual apologies to Edward Lear. 

They went to war in a Sieve, they did, 
In a Sieve they went to war: 
In spite of all Hans Blix could say, 
At Bush’s command on that fateful day 
In a Sieve they went to war! 
But when no weapons were found in the place 
And everyone cried, “You have no case” 
Said Tony Blair “we’re trusting to luck” 
We don’t care a button! we don’t give a f***! 
In a Sieve we’ll go to war!’
Far and few, far and few, 
Are the scruples of Tony Blair; 
His lies are bold and he’s shameless too, 
And they went to war in a Sieve. 
They went to war in a Sieve, they did 
And totally unprepared 
With not enough armour for soldiers to don 
With too few choppers – the list it goes on 
But Blair, he never cared. 
And every one said, who saw them go, 
“O won’t they be soon undone, you know! 
For the list of shortcomings is terribly long, 
And happen what may, it’s extremely wrong 
To send our boys unprepared!”
Far and few, far and few, Are the scruples of Tony Blair… 
The casualty figures soon started to rise, 
The coffins they soon came in; 
So to cover their arses they lied and lied 
(No sign of remorse for the many who died) 
And they gave the order to spin! 
And they hunkered down at Number 10 
And they lied and they spun and they lied again 
"Though the charges against us be ever so long 
Yet we’ll never admit we were rash or wrong. 
While we have breath, we spin!”
Far and few, far and few, Are the scruples of Tony Blair …

Wednesday 25 August 2021

"Unite the Union": made me laugh, anway

On the subject of what about the workers  ...  C@W readers are forgiven for not following every cut & thrust of trade union electoral matters: but Unite have been choosing a successor to 'Red' Len McCluskey.  The story so far: there were initially 4 candidates, 3 from the left plus Gerard Coyne, Starmer's man. This throws the left into disarray - Coyne will win if the other three can't settle their differences and choose a single candidate!  Well, to echoing cries of 'careerist', 'splitter', 'traitor' etc, they couldn't.  Everyone hates each other much more than they want anything constructive.

Eventually one did drop out, to back the strongman leftie Steve Turner; and the Left solemnly pile in behind him, telling #4 (one Sharon Graham) in the time-honoured fashion of macho lefties - sorry love, not this time

Then on Monday, lefties started posting - you know what, that Sharon might actually win ...

Haha!  And so she has.  (Presumably someone leaked something from the counting office.)  Now everyone from Starmer's office to the assorted lefties are rushing around saying this is a great result.  I believe this is technically known as "accommodate yourself to the new reality, comrade".

More popcorn!


Sunday 22 August 2021

What About the Workers? - weekend reading

An interesting development in leftie thinking about the Labour Party is that it has moved on from the Corbynite framing "we are the 99%, against the 1%",  to a new formulation:  "we are the progressive, 'values-based' urban coalition and we rather hope we might muster 50.1%".

Who gets sidelined in this switcheroo?  Why, the white working class, that's who.  There's many an old-school workerist-marxist who doesn't like the sound of that, and here's a good essay along those lines.  Exerpt (my emphasis): 

... any political platform based on a shared set of “values” rather than a shared economic interest risks turning the actually existing working class into a problematic minority partner in a coalition of do-gooders.  We have already seen the dangers of this kind of liberal condescension, handing the Conservatives endless opportunities to ideologically consolidate their grip on previously Labour voting strongholds with a heady brew of right-wing culture war and strategically targeted public spending.


Footnote[1]:  BTL, decnine & Elby mused on the new 'values' orientation.  On that theme, there's another good article here:

"Labour’s preoccupation with ‘values’ is a basic political error ..."

[2]  Rulings on the bot-naming compo appear at the foot of the previous post.

Friday 20 August 2021

Weekend: Name That Tesla-Bot!

Elon Musk said he would probably launch a humanoid robot prototype next year, dubbed the “Tesla Bot”, which is designed to do “boring, repetitious and dangerous” work. The billionaire chief executive of the electric carmaker Tesla said the robot, which would be about 5ft 8in tall and weigh 125 pounds, would be able to handle tasks such as attaching bolts to cars with a spanner or picking up groceries at stores ...  Musk said the robot could have “profound implications for the economy” 

So: name that bot!

My proposal?  Why, Botty McBottface! 



Judge's rulings: 

1) Mr BQ wins the compo - perfect! 

2) Andrew (The robot does not exist. It is literally a powerpoint and nothing else) has the solid truth of the matter 

3) E-K is to fill us all in on his evidently excellent news

Monday 16 August 2021

Nation-building: Blame The Germans

No apologies for returning to Afghanistan on a day like this.  Over the weekend I was chatting to a diplomat who offered the following suggestion.

After 9/11 the US was all for a crash-bang-wallop intervention in Afghanistan to nail OSB, nothing more.  This is indeed how it started: US + UK special forces, linking up with the Northern Warlords.  The shellshock induced in the whole world by 9/11 (Putin was giving a lot of help, and Pakistan could be leaned upon heavily) meant that a lightning campaign was eminently plausible.

Enter the Germans, with the enticing prospect that it could become a NATO mission ... but their price was the Liberal Meddler Overseas Agenda: schools for girls etc etc  Despite his own Defense establishment's opposition, somehow Bush Jnr swallowed this - and thus it became Policy.

So there's a thought.

There are plenty of liberals / progressives (and Paul Mason) wringing their hands over the thwarting of this agenda as I write, even as they despise the USA and (most of) its works.  Well, maybe in 2001 they all swallowed the End of History yarn, and thought America could impose anything on anyone.



' “Saving women” was the reason so many of us backed the invasion'
Polly Toynbee, of course.

[1] it would probably have included Trans Rights today

[2] perhaps dreaming to go one better than his father's epic Coalition during Gulf War One (see this lengthy thread)

Saturday 14 August 2021

Weekend listening: 'Revenge of the Real'

This, I reckon, is worth 60 minutes of your listening-time.  The import of the pandemic for all our futures is indeed a very big issue, and all thoughtful contributions are welcome.  More interesting ideas in here than you'll encounter in the average hour of your life.

(Sorry it's from a leftie podcast, but there we go.  Nothing if not broad-minded here at C@W ...)

Actually, it's also interesting in a mild sort of way that it should be hosted by a leftie like Bastani.  Anytime the Real intrudes on wrong-headed thinking is helpful; but surely this'll have given him a few things to ponder quite close to home ...


Thursday 12 August 2021

Afghanistan: why history is really important

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains
And the women come out to cut up what remains
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains ...

When we last briefly looked at this, Don Cox BTL offered a link to a piece that suggested the Afghans would surprise us all in combatting the Taliban effectively  (Taliban on the Way to Kabul? Not so Fast…)  Hmmm.  Looks more like a re-run of Vietnam on fast-forward; quicker even than the major ISIS surge in Iraq before external parties intervened.

There's an excellent book, Afghantsy, on the Russian's decade of direct intervention in that benighted land 1979-89 by Rodric Braithwaite, a former UK ambassador to Moscow who (though not a military expert) seriously knows his stuff.   Even the Russians - a bordering nation, prepared to commit a large number of boots on the ground and be quite brutal themselves - couldn't achieve anything, as Braithwaite recounts.   Obviously, we couldn't either - in the 19th century or the 21st.

The book's early chapters cover two centuries of relevant history very well: history that anyone proposing to get involved should have acquainted themselves with before making any decisions at all.  The uncompromising facts about this brutal land and its endlessly turbulent, factional and belligerent people make one wonder if anyone thus historically equipped, Russian or in turn American, would ever have committed their infantry to the place.  Blair?  Just tagging along, as ever.  Which brings us back to the Americans ...

Biden's irresponsible closing contribution on this has been extraordinary - the TV clip being shown yesterday surely confirms him as utterly senile.  He seems capable of dropping any ball and the world once again depends desperately upon the 'checks and balances' of the American system - much under strain during the Trump regime, and to be sorely tested now, it seems.  With its more-or-less unilateral command of US foreign policy (where political 'lines of logistics' are shortest), I ask again: what other half-baked nonsense will the White House perpetrate?


Tuesday 10 August 2021

A*++ results day

It is that time of year where I do the appraisals of staff and colleagues, this year in the spirit of transparency and honesty, I thought it best to be public with my comments about Mr Drew.

"It has been a fantastic year for you, whilst the pandemic has meant we have not actually met or spoken, your output has been such that has rightly eclipsed both Plato and Aristotle as go to guides for wisdom in the modern age. With this in mind and recognising your needs to be rightly admired amongst your peer group of course to please your dear old mum too, I can say you have indeed earned fully the special A*++ rating, created in fact just for you."

* 360 review feedback welcome in the comments

* Appraisal grades are in no way linked to the pay round later in the year. 

* White males in receipt of any appraisal grades above fail will be marked down by a minimum 5 levels during the equalisation meetings in September. Sorry old fruit. 

Monday 9 August 2021

Reality closing in on 'decarbonisation'

Returning from the annual Drew westwards foray - having gloriously reunited with C@W stalwarts from that neck of the (rather damp) woods - I find the wonderful story circulating of Wee Nicola being put on the spot by 'climate protesters' who'd like her support for their opposition to the Cambo oilfield development.

Her turn, then, to be skewered in the run-up to COP26.  Boris has of course already backed off fracking and that Cumbrian coalfield for reason of adverse green COPtics, but those English would-be developments have rather limited** strategic impact on the economy.  Rather different in the case of Cambo, because of course Wee Nicola wants the Scots to believe in oil revenues as the underpinning of their economy post IndyRef2.    To come out now as being opposed to all future oil & gas developments (and somewhat surprisingly, in Scottish waters there are plenty of those 'in the pipeline', so to say) is to slit her own throat.  They don't come much more strategic than that.

Haha!  The SNP spin-merchants will need to be pretty creative on this one, given that there's no end of troublesome leftie-greens lined up to needle her relentlessly.  What price a new SNP "green future" policy that will conjure 100,000 new jobs out of thin air, all faithfully promised to materialise starting, errr, 2024...



**Though not zero ...

Friday 6 August 2021

Normality beckons - Tube Strikes ahoy

 Cancelled this week but threatened again for the August Bank Holiday, Tube Strikes are back!

I am not sure I can be sure the RMT are on a strong wicket here, the Government are going to have to fill  TfL with a £500 million shortfall again this year due to Covid. This means they have the Mayor over a barrel and many of the long sores that have been welling can be lanced. 

One of them is the pensions for TfL staff, the final salary scheme is very generous. Staff retire at 65 on nearly 50% full salary if they have been employed long-enough. The cost of this is eye-watering for the Government and no wonder, with the private sector having ended these schemes 20 years ago now, that the Government wants to manage this for new starters at least. 

It does not surprise me the RMT want to strike over this, it is the right thing to do to protect their members from their perspective. I just don't think they can win when the Government is already having to subsidise their wages directly to say they should also keep their superior pension benefits.

However this makes a strike quite likely, but having been up to London a bit of late, I doubt too many people will notice and all the buses are empty anyway!

Tuesday 3 August 2021

100,000 cases a day and the end is nigh

The "Johnson" Variant indeed. 

By now, 2 weeks are opening up the Country, the group of assorted communists and losers who call themselves Isage (Iceage would be better, given the historic nature of their views) had managed to get Keir Starmer to say the Government were being reckless, that cases would soar and we would be in a new wave of terrible pandemic - and lo the Johnson variant was born. 

The thing that gets me is no one calls all this rubbish out enough. For the whole pandemic the downsides, which in reality have been bad enough, has been really skewed to the downside. 

As if life has not been bad enough, the Government, Labour Party and general media are always willing to give a voice to someone who fears the worst. As a kid I recall people walking around London with the signs above - they were not routinely given any credit and endless media interviews. 

The bug to me about this is it means the pandemic psychosis is going to on for a long time if the media insists on listening to every Cassandra going. The current one they are going to start on is vaccine escape of a new variant, something the drugs companies are happy about because they have easily tweakable vaccines to sell us - not because it means back to square one.

Oh for a summer silly season!

Monday 2 August 2021

Dominic Cummings: The Silly Season

Sorry about the lack of posting: in my case, two deals to close before 31 July.  And hols soon!  

Anyhow, in the meantime one of our regular anons offered us this BTL yesterday, on the subject of Dom  - Dom Cummings, that is!

"Dom is a tragic case, very bright and driven guy, could have been a real asset to the UK, who gets shafted (like pretty much everyone who works long enough alongside Boris, he's not special), takes it personally and proceeds to make himself unemployable by not just spilling beans but pouring them on the floor and rolling round in them naked. Even I'd think twice about employing him. Real waste of talent. 'Great wits are sure to madness near allied, and thin partitions do their bounds divide' "

(We like the cultured stuff so thanks for that, anon.)

So: by way of a silly-season potboiler  -   would DC have survived at all in former ages, or suffered the fate of Savaranola?  Have his revelations already been priced into Boris' reputation?  Does he have anything more to offer, or is he beyond polite society's pale, a broken reed?   Discuss!

But do remember - the laws of libel apply online ...