Friday, 24 March 2017

London attack not a terror attack?

As much as many people want to, I can't see the terrorism really in the London attack this week.

I found myself not too far away at all at the time (I have a long, dull anecdote about how many times I have been at the scene of terrorism, which in précis, means don't be friends with me).

But thinking about this idiot who committed this atrocity, I can't see the real radicalisation here that is terror related.

This looks more, sadly, like the American school massacres. A certain kind of drop-out of society wants to make a name for themselves and off they go on a death-spree.

We don't label the American school attacks terrorism (or Dunblane, here). They are acts of individual madmen, they are copy-cat ways of committing suicide by harming others.

Because of ISIS there is a section of muslim society motivated to commit atrocities, but without ISIS would they be doing equally as crazy things - after all in this case, as with many before, there does not seem to be much planning or any kind of political statement made.

With no political statement, it is not a political act- and therefore not really terrorism.

Of course, if it were me, I would be closing Wahabi mosques down in the Country as they enable this kind of atrocity - but the Government is too weak for this. Preferring to hope the security forces are up to it rather than making difficult political choices.

What do you think Terrorism or not?

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

So: Farewell Martin McGuinness

In his fighting prime Martin McGuinness was a seriously professional urban guerilla - and ruthless with it, not least in the business of enforcing discipline within his own ranks.  Many a Brit had reason to view him as the personification of the foe.

But the great genius of the British people is to be pragmatic to the point of magnanimity.  In the aftermath of the brutally-fought Boer Wars Britain's prompt practical and financial support for reconstruction in South Africa led to that new nation being a material contributor to our efforts in both World Wars.  Not for us the old, ahem, Irish game of bitterly nurturing grudges down the centuries.  Settle up and move on.

So when McGuinness converted to the cause of the Peace Process (and peace, too, after a fashion) he was welcomed on board as a constructive actor.  Doubtless it served his political purposes - which is fine: it was a settlement, and politics is generally better than fighting.  

We won't find out what position he'd have taken in the forthcoming argy-bargy arising from the implications of Brexit on British-Irish dealings (although Gerry Adams is clearly much enthused by the opportunities it presents).  What we can say - from across the water - is that he seems to have played the power-sharing game in a fair spirit, right to the end.

So, one way and another: fair play to Martin McGuinness, serious opponent and notable representative of Irish nationalism.


Monday, 20 March 2017

SNP - Get yor act together at once and stop being such scaredy cats

Here we were last week, all* cheering on St Nicola and her handbagging of the evil Thatcher Prime Minister May. Everything was so good, it was even sunny and spring like in London.

What do we get just a few days later?

A wretched, confused and frankly useless diatribe at the SNP conference where no effort was made to guild the lily at all. Apparently there will be no challenge to a Second Project Fear and Scotland, if ever granted a second referendum will go straight into a terminal economic decline. Plus there will be no security or army and there will also be no currency - or at least none that can be guaranteed.

It is almost as if the SNP don't really want there to be a second referendum - as if instead this was some kind of Machiavellian attempt to wage an endless war of grievance on England.

No, I say, No -

1) Look to Brexit - PROJECT FEAR FAILED - there won't be an economic crash. The more one is confidently predicted, the less chance of this occurring.

2) Currency - pah - just use the Pound, it is not like you have any control of the Bank of England anyway. This is all deflection as the reality is no change.

3) Don't forget to threaten to welch on the debt, I recall they did actually scare the establishment last time.

4) Keep reminding Scots they have a Tory Government, it is a surefire winner in the long-run.

There is no chance of the SNP losing the next referendum, I just hope they can keep the courage of their convictions to push for one in 2021. Scotland declaring independence to rejoin the EU would surely be the cherry on the rather delicious cake of Brexit.

*(OK, this maybe a minority view)

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Some Weekend Reading

(... as a distraction from the subdued performance by England in Dublin yesterday.)  This interesting essay from the LRB is broadly about the Trumpy thing, in wide-ranging aspects.  Some extracts:
"In Leviathan Hobbes said that what we call the ‘deliberation’ of the will is nothing but ‘the last appetite, or aversion, immediately adhering to’ an action. Whatever the general truth of the analysis, Trump’s process of thought works like that. If Obama often seemed an image of deliberation without appetite, Trump has always been the reverse. For him, there is no time to linger: from the first thought to the first motion is a matter of seconds; the last aversion or appetite triggers the jump to the deed. And if along the way he speaks false words? Well, words are of limited consequence. What people want is a spectacle; they will attend to what you do, not what you say; and to the extent that words themselves are a spectacle, they add to the show. The great thing about words, Trump believes, is that they are disposable...
"Post-election, the liberal argument veered away from Trump and turned to the important question of whom to blame. The initial target was the director of the FBI ... A more popular and reliable target was Vladimir Putin ... It is possible that Trump’s defiance of this multifarious establishment actually helped his popularity with non-political voters. Damage more telling than any emanation from the FBI or Russia probably came from Hillary Clinton’s remark that half of Trump’s supporters were ‘a basket of deplorables’ – an unforced error that was rightly read as an expression of contempt.
"The national security state that Obama inherited and broadened, and has now passed on to Trump, is so thoroughly protected by secrecy that on most occasions concealment will be an available alternative to lying. Components of the Obama legacy that Trump will draw on include the curtailment of the habeas corpus rights of prisoners in the War on Terror; the creation of a legal category of permanent detainees who are judged at once impossible to put on trial and too dangerous to release; the expanded use of the state secrets privilege to deny legal process to abused prisoners; the denial of legal standing to American citizens who contest warrantless searches and seizures; the allocation of billions of dollars by the Department of Homeland Security to supply state and local police with helicopters, heavy artillery, state-of-the-art surveillance equipment and armoured vehicles; precedent for the violent overthrow of a sovereign government without consultation and approval by Congress; precedent for the subsidy, training and provision of arms to foreign rebel forces to procure the overthrow of a sovereign government without consultation and approval by Congress; the prosecution of domestic whistleblowers as enemy agents under the Foreign Espionage Act of 1917; the use of executive authority to order the assassination of persons – including US citizens – who by secret process have been determined to pose an imminent threat to American interests at home or abroad; the executive approval given to a nuclear modernisation programme, at an estimated cost of $1 trillion, to streamline, adapt and miniaturise nuclear weapons for up to date practical use; the increased availability – when requested of the NSA by any of the other 16 US intelligence agencies – of private internet and phone data on foreign persons or US citizens under suspicion... Obama’s awareness of this frightening legacy accounts for the unpredictable urgency with which he campaigned for Hillary Clinton – an almost unseemly display of partisan energy by a sitting president.
"How did America pass so quickly from Obama to Trump?  The glib left-wing answer, that the country is deeply racist, is half-true but explains too much and too little. This racist country voted for Obama twice. A fairer explanation might go back to the financial collapse of 2008 when Americans had a general fear and were shocked by what the banks and financial firms had done to us. ‘In an atmosphere primed for a populist backlash’, as John Judis wrote, Obama ‘allowed the right to define the terms’. The revolt of 2008-9 was against the financial community and anyone in cahoots with them, but the new president declined to name a villain: when he invited 13 CEOs to the White House in April 2009, he began by saying he was the only thing standing between them and the pitchforks, and ended by reassuring them that they would all work together. No culprit would be named and no sacrifice called for. Trump emerged early as an impresario of the anger, a plutocrat leading the people’s revolt against plutocracy.


Friday, 17 March 2017

Discussion thread: Impact of immigration on UK wages

Interesting comments yesterday sparked by BE, so more on the topic for today is in order.

Economics is hard and open to interpretation. However, since 2010 there have been around1.5 million new UK jobs created. At around 250,000 a year, more than the EU combined, albeit less than Germany and but Spain and Greece have seen big declines to the net is greater in the UK. Osborne's boast was technically true.

During that time the population has increased by just over 2.4 million (crazy eh!).

A proportion of the population 'growth' is really due to ageing of the population over pure immigration.

According to ONS date, net migration has been just over 1.25 million during this time. Which is why overall the UK unemployment rate has fallen - as job growth has been stronger than immigration (some immigration is for students too rather than pure job-seeking immigration, then again, official stats do not account for the black economy, which probably invalidates much of the data!)

Of course, immigrants doing jobs adds to GDP, so more jobs will beget more jobs to some extent. Economists calculations around this concept though are a severe overstretch of credibility however and they arrive a wildly varying conclusions, unsurprisingly aligned on the starting political viewpoint.

As ever though, nobody accounts for the fact that new jobs are increasingly lower paying than previously - this is the car washer effect. At the bottom of the wage stack, study after study shows wages being held down, even when the gaurdianistas are trying to prove otherwise.

Still too nobody has worked out how to account for the impact on the welfare state. As a proxy I can see the NHS spending is going up over 8% and yet the whole service is in crisis and the social welfare bill goes up even as the Tories are accused of hideous bedroom taxes etc.

Additionally, the tax income for the Government has grown at a far slower rate than the economic expansion would expect (i.e. below the expected net increase in GDP).

All this circumstantially points to the conclusion that overly open borders promote low-wage immigration which on balance detracts more than benefits the country as a whole; this is before we get to any social cohesion aspects.

Where the balance is, is hard to know and worse, because we can only ever look at historical data, we will never be able to get it right, Brexit or no Brexit.

What do you think?