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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Replay!

3.9 million sign petition to replay England vs Iceland

It makes just as much sense as this:

Petition for EU referendum re-run hits 3.7 million as David Lammy MP calls for parliament to block Brexit

A source of satisfaction

When surveyed about what aspects of their lives give them happiness most people cite such reasons as family and friends, a decently paid job, or interesting hobbies. Sorin Hershko may have some or all of those. I don’t know. But in addition to any other sources of satisfaction he also has this:

40 years on, child hostages look back on Entebbe raid.

But the most emotional part of the day at the Peres Center, for most of the former hostages, came from the chance to reunite with Sorin Hershko, the IDF soldier who became a quadriplegic from an injury sustained during the operation and who was on hand to witness the celebration and receive an honorary certificate from the Peres Center for his bravery and heroism.

“After 40 years to see the children, to see the kids…”

Hershko said, trailing off, a broad smile on his face.

“I still them call children, despite the fact that they are all grown up and have families and their own children.

For me it is very important to see them and I am very satisfied that they are all here and well.”

Free space

1GBfree

(I do not know who made this image. If you are the creator, let me know and I will be happy to give credit.)

Well, well, well

It is not over, but things are looking good for Leave.

Update: Some internet sites where you can watch what is turning out to be a political earthquake.

The Guardian‘s live blog. Hats off to them, this is the obvious first place to go.

EU referendum rolling forecasts by Chris Hanretty, Reader in Politics University of East Anglia

Political Betting.com. Sample headline “The results so far have developed not necessarily to Remain’s advantage”. A student of history, then.

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First thoughts:

– THE UNITED KINGDOM WILL LEAVE THE EUROPEAN UNION.

The working class did it. The issue was immigration. It wouldn’t have been my choice for main issue, but I am not ashamed to have been in a broad alliance. I’ll gladly bear the next election being won by a party I don’t like in exchange for elections mattering again.

– Talking of which, who will win the next election? Which parties will fight it? When will it be? No idea.

Shy Leavers. And I hesitate to say this, but the atmosphere of blame following the murder of Jo Cox will have been perceived by many as moral blackmail.

The EU is holed beneath the waterline. People worldwide have seen that impossible things can happen.

President Trump? His visit to these shores is spookily well timed.

Prime Minister Cameron? – 2010-2016

Don’t assume that the SNP actually wants another Scottish independence referendum. Right now a second indyref would have the same result as the first.

Well, I dunno

The pro-Remain Daily Mirror has an odd choice for its front page:

Mirror front page referendum

Update: Mr Ed has suggested the following caption:

“THIS IS WHERE THE MONEY GOES”

I know what the Mirror is trying to say, but what with “REMAIN” being in capitals and larger type, the instant impression that it gives to me is that REMAIN is a deep dark hole sucking the hapless voter inwards to destruction. A valiant effort by the Leave mole in the Mirror graphics department, but judging by the final polls, it may not be enough. But don’t let the polls cause you to give up and not bother voting: the pattern has been that phone polls tended towards Remain and online polls towards Leave. I attribute this to “Shy Leavers” being put off from disclosing their true intentions to a possibly disapproving human being, particularly since the murder of Jo Cox. I could, of course, be wrong in this supposition. But it is worth a go.

My final Referendum thought? It’s one you could share with undecided left-wingers. A Leave win would increase the chance of Labour winning the next election, an outcome I do not want. But better a thousand times a party with the wrong policies in power for a few years in a system where we retain the power to throw them out next time than being sucked past the event horizon of the European Union, where all votes are votes for ever closer union.

In partial defence of two Red Princes

Over the last two days two scions of notable political families have attracted controversy related to the referendum.

In a leaked telephone call, Will Straw, Remain campaign director and son of Jack Straw, said the following:

“We need to recognise that people have been pulled up short by Jo Cox’s death and it is now time to make a very positive case for why we want to be in the European Union… to call out the other side for what they have done to stir division and resentment in the UK. That is something we must all do… This is what we think is the closing argument of the campaign, reflecting all the arguments that we have been setting out for many months but also the new context that we’re in. What we want to say is people should vote Remain on Thursday for more jobs, lower prices, workers’ rights, stronger public services and a decent, tolerant United Kingdom.”

I see little to condemn there. He is a political campaign manager: deciding how to adapt his campaign message to best take advantage of recent events is what he is paid for. I do resent how the Remain side has smeared the Leavers as somehow responsible for the doings of a deranged neo-Nazi, but what was Straw meant to do, ignore it? Does anyone think his counterpart on the Leave side was not similarly briefing his team on how to minimize the fallout?

Stephen Kinnock MP, son of Neil Kinnock, has also been the subject of angry comment. At the ceremony – basically a secular memorial service – held in Parliament to honour Jo Cox he was one of very few MPs to depart from the consciously bipartisan tone. While wearing (unless my eyes deceive me) an “In” campaign badge, he said,

“I can only imagine Jo’s reaction had she seen the poster unveiled hours before her death – a poster on the streets of Britain that demonised hundreds of desperate refugees, including hungry terrified children fleeing from the terror of Isis and Russian bombs. She would have responded with outrage and a robust rejection of the calculated narrative of cynicism, division and despair that it represents.”

That catch in his voice was not faked. Jo Cox was his personal friend. It seems probable that she was murdered for political reasons. (The likelihood that the killer had mental problems makes that no less true.) It must have seemed urgent to speak for her when she could no longer speak for herself. He still should have stood firm against the temptation to make a political point at that time and place. To do so struck in its own way at the very thing he said he wanted to preserve: the sense across all parties that, as Jo Cox herself said, “We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.”

Mr Kinnock’s speech did not play well among the Independent‘s commenters.

Jeremy Corbyn’s heart really is not in this Remain business, is it?

Jeremy Corbyn admits Britain cannot put a ceiling on immigration while in the EU

Asked on BBC One’s Andrew Marr show if there was any kind of upper limit to the numbers coming into Britain, he said: “I don’t think you can have one while you have a free movement of labour – and I think the free movement of labour means that you have to balance the economy so you have to improve living standards and conditions.

“And so that means the EU’s appalling treatment of Greece… that is a problem. If you deliberately lower living standards and increase poverty in certain countries in south-east or eastern Europe then you’re bound to have a flow of people looking for somewhere else to go.”

I do not know what “balance the economy” means and I doubt Mr Corbyn does either. But at least he is not a weasel like Cameron. In a TV appearance allegedly aimed at persuading us to vote to stay in the European Union he resignedly says that the main claim of the other side regarding the most hotly contested issue, immigration, is correct. Then he says that the EU’s treatment of one of its member states is “appalling” and deliberately aimed at lowering living standards. Why he wants to stay in a union that wants to impoverish people is a mystery… or it would be, if he did.

My sunken hopes rise a little, given added lift by the fact that the dear old Guardian had this story on the front page for about a minute and a half before someone realised. It now can only be found if you already know it is there. For its part the BBC has clipped the key words off the beginning of the relevant clip from its own programme. Mr Corbyn answered a straightforward question in a straightforward fashion. That media organizations in favour of Remain seek to hide this rather than boast of it speaks volumes.

Quick arguments for voting Leave

Why do you want to leave the EU? Because I think it’s vital that you are able to vote out a government. The EU has a façade of democracy but do you ever remember it making a difference who you voted for in EU elections?

Are you hostile to foreigners? You can be friends with someone without wanting to live in the same house as them. Actually many people in Europe are hoping for Brexit so that their countries can be encouraged to become independent as well.

The EU has prevented war. No, that was NATO. The EU’s arrogance has increased tensions. A few years back the scars of WWII were almost healed. Now look at the hostility between Greece and Germany.

Farage / Boris / Gove will do awful things. Farage isn’t even an MP. The Tories will still be in government if we vote Leave. The difference is that they can be voted out at the next election, unlike the EU.

Economic experts say “Remain”. Many of the same ones said that we would be left isolated if we didn’t join the Euro. The EU’s own experts said the Euro was a great idea. Now look at Greece with 50% youth unemployment. The best economic experts in the European Union were spectacularly wrong. Stay in the EU, and we will be bailing out their next mistake.

We can reform the EU from within. There is a saying, “The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same things and expect a different result.” How well did we do at reform for the last 40 years? How well did Cameron do when he negotiated with Angela Merkel even with the threat of Brexit? Once we vote Remain we will have demonstrated that when it comes down to it, we will back down.

The Leave campaign has no plan for what to do next. Since a vote for Leave will make it start mattering again who wins the next UK election, we can’t say exactly what the plan is because that depends on what the British people vote for. In contrast we can say what the plan is if we remain: “Ever closer union”.

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I have not mentioned immigration because this is a post about quick arguments and I cannot think how to edit my own rather complicated views down. I suppose I could remind people that opposing the EU does not have to be about immigrants.

What are your quick arguments for wanting to leave the EU? Or for staying?

Drug legalization is becoming an acceptable view among the elite

Amid the blanket news coverage of the EU referendum and the murder of Jo Cox, it went almost unnoticed that a major report from the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and the Faculty of Public Health (FPH) called for drug decriminalization in the UK.

The Times, still seen as the Voice of the Establishment, came out in support:

Breaking Good

Would it ever make sense to jail a chain-smoker for smoking or an alcoholic for touching drink? On the basis that the answer is no, the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) is urging the government to decriminalise the personal possession and use of all illegal drugs. This is radical advice, but also sound. Ministers should give it serious consideration.

Not that long ago Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general, said it was time to legalize drugs. I hope this trend continues.

Jo Cox, RIP

This morning I was joking about how gloriously dotty yet reassuring yesterday’s “naval battle” between rival Leave and Remain flotillas on the Thames outside the Houses of Parliament was. This afternoon I learned that one of those on the Remain boat, Jo Cox, Labour MP for Batley and Spen, was murdered just outside her constituency surgery. She leaves behind a husband and two young children.

I am too depressed to make a post with links. There is no shortage of commentary and speculation on the internet. A man has been arrested and no other suspects are being sought.

May she rest in peace.

British aid money goes as a reward to a killer of children

This is no flight of rhetoric. It is literally true. British aid money also goes to reward the killer of a British woman. These payments aren’t incidental: their purpose is to reward the killers for the killing.

Ian Austin, Labour MP for Dudley North (undeclared on the Brexit issue, in case you’re interested) has written an article for Labour List about some of what Britain’s foreign aid is actually spent on.

British aid feeds 25 million under-fives. It supports midwives, nurses and doctors so 4.3 million babies can be born safely.
Our aid spending helped tackle Ebola in Africa. It feeds the starving, helps refugees and provides jobs.
It builds stronger economies around the world. It helps the poorest countries tackle the most desperate poverty.

It does all that and so much more. And we should be very proud of it.

But it also funds terrorists. And that obscures and undermines all the good work it does.

That’s why this week Parliament debated whether Britain should have an international aid budget at all. You might not be aware of it, since it was prompted by a petition in the Daily Mail, which is hardly the in-house reading of choice around these parts.

Like other Labour MPs, I’ll be speaking up in support of our aid budget, but I’ll also be calling for our money to be used to promote peace, not reward terrorism.

Last week four people were murdered when terrorists opened fire in a Tel Aviv cafe.

People in Britain will be horrified by the deliberate, indiscriminate murder of civilians. There can be no justification. But they will be appalled that the two murderers could now be eligible for government salaries – paid for by international aid money from Britain.

Mary Gardner, a Scottish visitor to Israel, died five years ago when terrorists bombed a bus stop. Hassin Qawasme, who led the attack, has been paid almost £14,000 since his arrest.

Amjad and Hakim Awad, killed Ehud and Ruth Fogel and their three children aged 11, four and just three months in 2011. Since then it’s estimated that Amjad alone has been paid up to £16,000 from PA funds.

Emphasis added. A Guardian article by Edwin Black from November 2013 has more about these payments:

When a Palestinian is convicted of an act of terror against the Israeli government or innocent civilians, such as a bombing or a murder, that convicted terrorist automatically receives a generous salary from the Palestinian Authority.

For the second time in history, a surgical operation with a 300% mortality rate

Robert Liston was a nineteenth century Scottish surgeon known as “the fastest knife in the West End … at a time when speed was essential to reduce pain and improve the odds of survival of a patient; he is said to have been able to perform the removal of a limb in an amputation in 28 seconds.” A man of strong character and ethics, who did not hesitate to help render his own rare skill obsolete by performing the first operation under anaesthesia in Europe, over his entire career he saved many lives. But sometimes things didn’t work out so well. As recorded by the deadpan Richard Gordon in Great Medical Disasters:

Amputated the leg in under 2 1⁄2 minutes (the patient died afterwards in the ward from hospital gangrene; they usually did in those pre-Listerian days). He amputated in addition the fingers of his young assistant (who died afterwards in the ward from hospital gangrene). He also slashed through the coat tails of a distinguished surgical spectator, who was so terrified that the knife had pierced his vitals he dropped dead from fright. That was the only operation in history with a 300 percent mortality.

Now to our own times. Whatever the result of the EU referendum, George Osborne has in one swift operation destroyed his own career, made the split in his own Conservative party irrevocable, and stuck a knife in the vitals of the Labour party and left it there for anyone to twist.

One down:

Osborne warns of Brexit budget cuts

George Osborne says he will have to slash public spending and increase taxes in an emergency Budget to tackle a £30bn “black hole” if the UK votes to leave the European Union.
The chancellor will say this could include raising income and inheritance taxes and cutting the NHS budget.

Two down:

Tory MPs threaten to block Osborne’s post-Brexit budget

George Osborne is facing an extraordinary challenge to his authority as chancellor from 57 Conservative MPs, who are threatening to block his emergency budget of tax rises and spending cuts if Britain votes to leave the EU.

Three down:

The Labour Party, officially for Remain, will be asked to state whether it will support or oppose George Osbourne’s proposed austerity-plus budget. How will it answer?

Over his entire career Liston did far more good than harm. Desperate people camped out in his waiting room because however great the danger of going under his knife it was safer than going under anyone else’s. I wonder what will be said of Osbourne.

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Update: According to Guido, Corbyn will oppose Osbourne’s proposed post-Brexit austerity budget. Labour has kept its anti-austerity credibility at the cost of effectively making a public statement that Brexit wouldn’t be so bad. With opposition from Labour plus the 57 Tory MPs plus those in other parties who would also oppose, Osborne’s budget is stillborn. As you were, folks. Which for both parties means bitterly divided. To have made a threat and have it shown to be empty within hours will not help the Remain campaign – or the Conservative Party.