We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

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

Speech codes

EU mulls legislation in the fight against online hate speech, reports Reuters.

Glad we’re leaving. But do not expect our current prime minister to fight for free speech. That would violate her programming.

Added later: Posterity, and one or two bewildered humans, demanded that I explain the foregoing. Our revered Foreign Secretary, Boris de Pfeffel Johnson in a recent column for the Sun called Jeremy Corbyn “that mutton-headed old mugwump”. The Sun helpfully provided a glossary for its readers, defining the terms “mugwump” and “revanchist”, though not “glossary”. Mind you, it got the Harry Potter reference wrong; it’s International Confederation of Wizards, not Internal. What do they teach them in these schools? Soon the whole country was googling “mugwump”.

When all they really had to do was ask Theresa May. She has the answer to all our questions.

The costs and benefits of Brexit

Andrew Lilico, who in my view is one of the sharpest and sanest commentators on issues such as Brexit (he is for it) has this to say about the benefits not just to the UK of leaving the EU behemoth, but arguably, to the remaining members of said behemoth:

We’ll also be able to do new trade deals with non-EU countries, which by 2030 will constitute around two thirds of our trade. The eurozone will grow faster, because by leaving the EU we will allow it to function better, enabling the euro to work. And future UK regulation can involve more experiments, where we try something, get it wrong and u-turn, rather than all our regulation being subject to the EU’s “ratchet” whereby once any measure in place it is almost impossible to undo. The ratchet works well when the best thing to do is obvious — cut tariffs, strip away non-tariff barriers. When it is not obvious — e.g. how best to regulate the sharing economy, the commercial exploitation of space, vaping, or green technologies — being able to experiment and u-turn is valuable. The UK can become an international leader the regulation of these new sectors by being able to experiment.

Of course at present many, if not all, EU member states will see the UK’s departure in these terms. They might suspect (as libertarians such as I hope) that the UK will head down a less regulated path, although it is worth noting that UK politicians are quite as capable of coming up with dotty rules as any Brussels civil servant (but at least those politicians can be voted out of office, which is the key thing). It bemuses me when I hear people wail that the UK is trying to become a tax haven. If only.

But it is an interesting observation that with the UK out of the EU, the eurozone (the UK is not a member of it) will “work”. Maybe it might. Maybe Germany, France and the others will, without those pesky Anglo-Saxons carping about regulations of carrots, vitamins and light bulbs, be able to create some sort of federal European entity where policy is in sync with the demands of a single currency. The UK gets to break free of an arrangement that has become increasingly vexatious, and the Continentals can make their vision (well, that of their political class) come true.

It might just be that the best thing for the Continentals is to get shot of we Brits and push ahead. Of course, if or when the dream of a European federal union turns out to be the authortarian clusterfuck of Biblical proportions that some expect, the UK will be in the beneficial position, hopefully, if having insulated itself from this by bringing up plenty of new trading relations with non-EU nations near and far. And it will be able to give the ultimate “I told you so” to the continent on the follies of transnational progressivism.

 

 

On free trade after the UK leaves the EU’s customs union

I liked this statement by Julian Jessop, chief economist (recently appointed) of the Institute of Economic Affairs, the classical liberal think tank in the UK:

“It’s disappointing that the decision to convert existing EU laws is again being justified in terms of continuity and certainty. Instead, Brexit should provide an opportunity to reduce the burden of regulation on UK households and firms alike.

“It’s also disappointing that the default option in the event of no agreement is being framed in terms of the most pessimistic WTO scenario, ignoring any benefits that might come from unilateral free trade. The UK will have the opportunity to lower barriers that prevent our consumers and businesses from accessing the best and cheapest goods and services, wherever they come from. What’s more, we should consider doing so even if other countries – including the rest of the EU – continue to embrace protectionism.

“However, it’s welcome the commitment to a quick agreement on reciprocal rights for people from the rest of the EU already living and working here and for UK citizens on the continent. Now that Article 50 has been triggered there is no longer any excuse for either side to delay. Indeed, this will be an early test of the willingness of politicians in the rest of the EU to put the interests of ordinary people above their own narrow political projects.”

 

Getting out of the EU

Surely now, no-one can doubt that the EU is so much more than a set of laws regulating trade and commerce?  Why did so many UK politicians try and pretend this was just a business or commercial arrangement? As this declaration reminds us in a timely way, at the heart of the EU is the strong desire to create a single country. It will have common borders, one currency, one foreign policy and one social policy. It will have its own energy policy, its own transport policy. Indeed, it has much of that already. It is only those who refuse to read EU documents who can think otherwise.

John Redwood MP, referring to “The Rome Declaration” of EU states drawn up a week ago, which he says shows a clear intent to create a single European state, from which the UK has today, via the Article 50 process, begun to extricate itself.

Samizdata quote of the day

Of course, England has been here before. The EU (that’s the Pope and the whole of Catholic Europe) excommunicated Queen Elizabeth and barred all trade with us; not even a WTO-terms deal, only a bit of state-sanctioned piracy and smuggling kept us going. In reaction we went further afield to find new trade partners and accidentally founded the British Empire, established dominance of the seas and oceans and led the world in trade and commerce. They did us a favour, really.

Raedwald, taking a few liberties but making a great point 😀

Samizdata quote of the day

A lot of strange stuff has been written about the referendum and its aftermath, so a writer really has to go some to stand out from the crowd. As was highlighted today by Walter Ellis (brilliant Reaction Remainer, who shows we are a broad church while generally being for enthusiastically getting on with Brexit), the case of Christopher Booker is most strange. Booker was, along with his associates, a robust voice for leaving the EU for many years. Now he writes it will be a disaster because we are leaving the customs union and because NO-ONE WILL LISTEN TO HIM AND HIS FRIENDS, or something. Let’s face it. There is a strand in the Eurosceptic movement that liked being a minority interest. There is a similarity there with music fans who like showing their alleged superiority by being into an obscure act. What they hate most is when other people start buying the records of their hitherto little-known favourites.

Iain Martin

How dare the U.S. demand NATO states have the means to defend themselves!

If you needed yet another reason to reject the EU as an utterly toxic organisation, here is an absolute corker:

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Thursday that Europe must not cave in to U.S demands to raise military spending, arguing that development and humanitarian aid could also count as security.

No doubt Jean-Claude Juncker feels that NATO should deploy Oxfam, Save the Children & Charlotte Church to Riga, Vilnius and Tallinn in order to deter any Russian incursions into the Baltic states.

Brexit has unified the Conservative Party and divided Labour

In a recent posting here, which I called How Brexit has unified the Conservative Party, and which I might have called (as I said in it (but never mind, I can use that title for this)) “Brexit has unified the Conservative Party and divided Labour”, I explained how Brexit had unified the Conservatives and had divided Labour.

Last night there was a vote in the House of Commons about whether Britain should proceed with what its voters had voted for.

Total number of Conservative MPs who voted against the bill, despite Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May commanding them to vote for it: 1.

Total number of Labour MPs who voted against the bill, despite Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn commanding them to vote for it: 47.

See what I mean.

The irony being that the demand that the House of Commons have its own vote on the matter has only served to highlight this Conservative Leave-inspired unanimity and Labour Remain-inspired division.

For how long will EUrope divide the political left in Britain? From where I sit, the longer the better.

An EU memory

Ever since digital photography became something I could afford, I have been wandering around London, digitally photographing it. I show a few of these photos here from time to time, and more frequently at my personal blog.

I have learned, as many photographers do, that the ephemeral is more likely to be significant than the fixed. Yet another picture of Big Ben to add to the billions of such pictures already taken is of zero interest. But something like this, on the other hand, becomes, I think, more interesting as time goes by:

That photo was taken in December 2003. Tony Blair, the man in the posters, was Prime Minister and still riding quite high, and Britain seemed doomed to EU-ness for ever.

The words on these posters help to confirm, for me, what a very wise decision we Brits made, narrowly yet decisively, to get out of this fatuous and delusional enterprise.

I say delusional, because the defining quality of the EU, for me, was the way that it encouraged all manner of people to say and to think things that were nonsensical.

BLAIR! GIVE US A VOTE ON EUROPE’S FUTURE
BLAIR! GIVE US A VOTE ON EUROPE’S FUTURE

Where to start? The “us” doing the voting would be British voters, and yet these British voters would be deciding – deciding “on” – the future of the whole of EUrope. Which these voters plainly could not determine. All that this British decision “on” EUrope could ever amount to would be either a mere protest vote (or more likely: a vote in the EU’s favour) in our Parliament, or else an official and very expensive public opinion poll.

Yet such was the pervasive unreality of all thoughts concerning the EU, and Britain’s membership of it, that this poster was considered worth printing and worth sticking up.

You may be saying to yourself that this is only some permanently delusional left-wing splinter group, consisting of a combination of dysfunctional permanent students of nothing, and trainee MI5 agents, and you would almost certainly be right. Yet numerous votes and numerous referenda of exactly this delusional sort did actually happen in the EU, and continue to happen. Most recently, I believe, there was just such a vote in Italy, although I could be wrong about that and I don’t care if I am because it really did not and does not matter. Time and again, individual EUro-nations choose or are invited, in one way or another, to pass their mere judgement on this or that aspect of the EU as a whole, and there then follows: nothing.

I think it was the sheer bloody confusion that I most hated about the EU, caused by the fact that the EU is in no way a real community, merely a gaggle of communities brought together and ruled by another community. No “decision” was ever what it seemed. Even those decisions that we Brits often thought we were making entirely for ourselves had at least two faces to them, the public face, which concerned what seemed to be the actual decision, and the less obvious face, which concerned whether and how this decision assisted the EU in becoming more EU-ish. In the end, no amount of voice was worth a damn. Only the threat, and in due course the reality, of exit counted.

Thank goodness that this ghastly episode is, for Britain, now coming to its end. Thank goodness we recently had a big old vote, a vote that actually decided something that we Brits were able to decide for ourselves, following something resembling a single mega-argument in which all who wished to could participate, and could hear all the micro-arguments, for or against, that they wanted to hear. And thank goodness we decided to get shot of this great big confusion machine. No matter how much of a mess us leaving the EU turns out to be, this process cannot in my eyes rival the relentless mess that remaining in the EU would have condemned us to. It’s the difference between a mess that will eventually end, and a mess that would have gone on until the entire EU itself finally fell to pieces.

For the rest of the EU, the delusions and confusions persist.

One (rubbish) reason why Wales voted Leave

From Wales Online:

Burning rubbish, begging neighbours and driving miles to a tip – how families are dealing with monthly bin collections

Families are being forced to burn rubbish in one of the first areas to move to once-a-month waste collections.

People living in Conwy have spoken of their four-weekly collection “nightmare”.

While all the recycling, food waste and nappy bins are collected weekly the black bin is only taken once a month.

Even after a month, any black bags that won’t fit in residents’ wheelie bins will not be taken away.

Residents, in particular those with children, say they have to beg older neighbours to take their waste and even have to burn their rubbish to get rid of it or stand in the wheelie bin to help create room for more waste.

Other areas are also moving to a longer period between each bin collection, including Anglesey which will see their waste collection stretched to three weeks.

The very unpopular reduction in frequency of bin collections is widely seen as being a result of an EU target that 50% of household waste must be recycled by 2020. It is actually more complicated than that because the good boys and girls in the Welsh and Scottish governments had separately set their own “more ambitious” reycling targets. But those targets aren’t popular either, certainly not in Wales as their practical effects begin to show.

As reported by today’s Daily Mail,

Councils dealt with nearly 900,000 incidents of illegal dumping in 2014/15, with nearly two thirds of cases involving household waste. In Bury, Greater Manchester, where three-weekly collections were introduced two years ago, fly-tipping rose by 53 per cent in 2014/15 – compared to an average increase in England of 6 per cent.

Janet Finch-Saunders, Conservative assembly member for Aberconwy, north Wales, said: ‘There is a fly-tipping epidemic looming – it is only going to get worse if this four-weekly collection continues. North Wales is an area with seaside resorts and towns that rely on tourism.

Nor did it make the EU target any more beloved when it was reported that, perversely, the UK could face millions of pounds in EU recycling fines because it has reduced consumption of paper and cardboard and so produces less paper waste to recycle.

Samizdata quote of the day

By definition, a customs union is an agreement between countries to embrace tariff-free trade between members but impose common tariffs on goods imported from non-members. At an EU-level, this means a Common External Tariff (CET), a dizzying array of over 12,651 different taxes (and some quotas to boot) imposed on goods from the rest of the world. The long and short of it is that the EU is internally trade liberating but outwardly protectionist.

Ryan Bourne

That’s how the cookie warning crumbles

KitGuru reports:

The European Union proposes law to stop browser cookie pop-ups

Back in 2012, the European Union passed a law requiring websites to give visitors a warning regarding browser cookies. These pop-ups or banner warnings are now common place across the web and were initially intended to protect user privacy but for the most part, they are just seen as an annoying box getting in the way of whatever content you are trying to access. It seems the European Union now also agrees with that and has proposed new regulations to do away with cookie pop-up warnings.

We initially saw a drafted version of the proposed law back in December but this week, the European Commission officially unveiled its proposal. The plan is to essentially remove website banners that provide disclaimers on browser cookies. A user’s browser preference in regards to cookies will automatically apply to sites they visit instead.

See, Brexit is doing them good already.