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]

“Don’t mourn, organize!”

Such were the last words attributed to doomed American labor activist Joe Hill.

The British Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn decided to refresh his message for the new century. Rather than refraining from mourning and going into organization it refrained from organizing and went into mourning.

Labour left humiliated after G4S turns down last ditch plea to provide conference security despite boycott

Labour has been left humiliated after being forced to ask a security company it had pledged to boycott to help police its annual conference – only to be rejected.

G4S, which has provided security at the event for 20 years, is understood to be concerned about staff safety after Labour voted for a boycott over its prison contracts and links to Israel.

It follows a warning from Len McCluskey, the Unite boss, that the conference could be cancelled unless a provider is found urgently.

Sources close to the company warned that the short notice it was given and previous incidents at the event, including staff being spat at and verbally abused, made it impossible for G4S to accept the offer.

Jeremy Corbyn floored!

The Guardian, 16th August:

Corbyn joins seatless commuters on floor for three-hour train journey

Labour leader is filmed during trip from London to Newcastle, on his way to meet Owen Smith for leadership hustings

[…]

Later, Corbyn said: “Is it fair that I should upgrade my ticket whilst others who might not be able to afford such a luxury should have to sit on the floor? It’s their money I would be spending after all.”

The Guardian, 23rd August:

Virgin Trains disputes Jeremy Corbyn claim over lack of seats

Film of Labour leader sitting on floor of ‘ram-packed’ train countered by CCTV footage of him walking past empty seats

Guido Fawkes’ blog, 23rd August:

Owen Smith tweets a nice kick to a man when he is on the floor (unnecessarily):

“My campaign remains on track. Proud to be genuinely standing up for ordinary people.”

Samizdata quote of the day

Whenever dismal scientists agree so passionately about the impact of a complex, one-off and multi-faceted event, alarm bells deserve to go off

Allister Heath

Bloody Poles

This was on twitter and it is just too good not to repost:

bloody-poles

Twitter caption: Still our allies in NATO. We could have lost the Battle of Britain without them. I voted out I didn’t vote for hate

Sums up my views perfectly.

British government makes it illegal to tell a person how tax law actually works

Tax evasion is illegal. Tax avoidance is finding ways within the rules to arrange your affairs to minimise the tax you pay. So by saying advisers who tell you how to actually do that will be fined, the British government is prohibiting people from being told how existing tax laws work.

Unless there is something I am misunderstanding, this appears to be completely insane. It seems to now be illegal to, er, legally arrange your affairs in such a manner as to inconvenience HMG.

Samizdata quote of the day

If that sounds familiar, it’s because this amounts to Mr. Corbyn’s People’s Quantitative Easing concept in all but name. The idea much derided last year is becoming so mainstream that even a leadership candidate for Britain’s Conservative Party, Stephen Crabb, could recently propose a £100 billion ($130 billion) public-works investment fund that wasn’t so different from PQE. Mr. Corbyn’s PQE is essentially indistinguishable from the suggested 50-year Japanese bonds.

This probably says more about the central bankers’ desperation than Mr. Corbyn’s prescience. With government spending and borrowing constrained by slow growth and high debt, and supply-side reforms still politically far off in many economies, the pressure is mounting on central bankers to act as magicians pulling rabbits out of their hats. The longer this continues, the deeper they’ll have to rummage around for the next rabbit. It’s enough to make one wonder what will be the next extreme idea to follow the journey from crank to orthodoxy.

John Phelan

As time goes by

People vote for socialist policies. Time goes by. Things get worse. Time goes by. People vote out the socialist policies. Time goes by. Things get better. Time goes by. People forget what it was like before. Time goes by. People vote for socialist policies. The fundamental things apply…

Here’s why renationalisation won’t make the trains run on time

When Owen Smith was asked at his Labour leadership launch about his stance on railways, he replied, “I would re-nationalise our railways tomorrow.” Needless to say, this went down well. In August last year, a YouGov poll found that 58% of the British public support renationalising the railways compared to just 17% who oppose it. The irony will not be lost on followers of the Labour party who may remember that renationalisation of the railways was Corbyn’s first official policy as Labour leader. Recently, Corbyn has thrust this issue back into the spotlight, jumping on the recent troubles of Southern Rail.

To set the scene, until 1994, the railway network in the UK was operated by the Government-controlled and owned British Rail. The Railways Act 1993 started the break-up of British Rail and the privatisation process concluded in 1997. The operation of passenger services is now contracted out under a system of franchising.

Samizdata quote of the day

It is widely recognised that today’s generation of so-called snowflakes – with their Safe Spaces, microaggressions and ‘that’s offensive!’ tantrums – has its roots in an educational system governed by therapeutic norms. The same was true of the London riots. They emerged from the same assertive grievance culture, the same well of victimhood and entitlement, the same sense that it’s all someone else’s fault. One young rioter even justified his trashing of a local branch of Comet on the grounds he didn’t get a job there. Other kids gloated about how ‘we can do what we want’, a dismissive attitude to adult authority they no doubt picked up at school.

Now, five years on from the London riots, some commentators argue that welfare cuts and widening inequality mean that ‘many of the conditions that created the riots are still in place’. London’s Time Out magazine went further by arguing that the Brexit vote means that racism has acquired a new-found respectability, which will lead to greater poverty for, and ill-treament of, London’s ethnic minorities.

These cheap anti-Brexit jibes raise a question: why are marginalised rioters viewed with sympathy, while poor, marginalised Brexit voters are viewed with contempt? Why are the violent actions of looters and arsonists interpreted as a legitimate protest, while voting to leave the EU is seen as an exercise in brainwashed stupidity?

Neil Davenport

Samizdata quote of the day

For those that already have, Mark Carney is the gift that keeps on giving. Borrowed imprudently and struggling to make those interest payments ? Worry not; the Bank of England has your back. For those that don’t have, the Bank of England is taking away your chance of ever realistically saving anything, now that interest rates have been driven down to new historic lows of 0.25%, and may go lower yet. For the asset-rich, for the 1%, for property speculators, and for zombie companies and banks, Carney is your man. For the asset poor, or for savers, or pensioners, or insurance companies, or pension funds, the Bank of England has morphed from being anti-inflationary fireman to monetary arsonist.

Tim Price

So the Somali who murdered a woman in London might be a jihadi after all…

Gosh who ever would have thought? Trouble is, as the authorities pretty much everywhere seem so keen to banish the very notion that any Muslim who murders someone is motivated by Islam, it is now impossible to believe anything the police say. Yes he may be a nutter, but that does not actually change anything if said nutter was motivated to act on his nuttiness by Islamic notions.

This now means any genuine non-sectarian violence by a Muslim will be assumed to be sectarian by the general public regardless of the facts, and regardless of that the authorities say. And those authorities have only themselves to blame, because they have been misleading or just outright lied so often nothing they they say is credible any more. And that is a great pity. Maybe he was indeed just a common or garden variety nutter (the linked article is hardly conclusive), but I doubt many people actually think that is the case, and that includes me.

Macroeconomics Today

The Bank of England just cut interest rates to 0.25%, announced it will buy 60bn government bonds and 10bn corporate bonds, and reduced its growth predictions (for what they are worth) from 2.3% to 0.8%. There is talk of reducing the rate of VAT. There is talk of reducing corporation tax, which incidentally worries Northern Ireland pundits because a plan to do the same thing there might lose some of its advantage.

I am not sure whether to be happy or sad. I will stick to happy for now, because I am an unrelenting optimist. Could Brexit panic the establishment into turning Britain into Chris Patten’s Hong Kong to save the economy?

Edit: I should have said John Copperthwaite, not Chris Patten.

House Of Lords to overturn referendum?

Over on Facebook, where I occasionally joust with Remainers who are still in shock and anger at the impertinence and evil of their fellows in voting to leave the EU, a person applauded an apparent suggestion that the result could be blocked, by the House of Lords, the upper chamber of the UK political system. I wrote this, and decided I might as well put it on Samizdata as well:

The original post applauded the fact that the House of Lords, which is not elected by anyone, but composed of inheritors and favourites of governments, is to try and block the result of a democratic referendum in which more people voted than in any election since 1992. The enormity of this should give us pause. I find it mind-boggling that it is being contemplated.

The post claimed the referendum is illegal. No grounds are given as to what supposed laws were broken by holding this referendum. None. I’d be grateful if someone could give a law that was broken to justify the claim.

One can argue that the Leave side told lies (the same applies with some of the Remain side, by the way, as they often exaggerated the effects of Leave), but disliking the conduct of those in a referendum does not invalidate the result or render it void. Some Leavers may indeed be bigots, fools, or whatever. Quite a few Remainers are hardly models of logical thought, either, from my experience. If you claim that people voted without full knowledge of the consequences, that could be used to invalidate all elections, and be an excuse for dictatorship of supposed Platonic philosopher kings.

It is quite obvious to me that, when stripped of any flimflam, that a lot of those who wanted to stay in the EU have a low view of most of their fellow citizens, and wish they should be prevented from voting on anything of significance. There are uncertainties ahead; there are also uncertainties of remaining in the EU, particularly given the weak nature of the eurozone and the continued terrible economic and financial problems of Southern Europe.

The House of Lords is an anachronism, but it is at least easier for the UK to reform such a chamber, as it should, than for 28 members of the EU to change the structures of the EU. (I think the HoL should be an elected chamber, maybe by PR, or some other approach.) I think it is good to have an upper chamber to act as a brake on the Commons; all good political systems of ordered liberty need checks and balances. (The US Founding Fathers understood this.) Blocking the results of a referendum, however, is not a step to be taken lightly.

The European Union has been a collection of nation states, but is clearly moving towards full statehood, and the eurozone cannot really work without this to make fiscal transfers, etc, acceptable (consider the rows between Greece and Germany, etc). Such an outcome is not what most Britons want, including, I imagine, some of those who voted Remain. There is no broad mandate for the UK to become part of a European state.

The UK is a parliamentary democracy, and referendums should be used sparingly, and only on matters of overwhelming constitutional importance. The fine details must remain with parliament. The fact remains, however, that the outcome of the referendum, while not overwhelming, is clear enough: Leave.

I may be informed mostly about investment and financial issues in the EU, rather than politics, (I used to be a full-teim political correspondent) but my reporting on the EU and its financial regulations gives me a good vantage point on seeing how the EU works on a daily basis – I have covered the creation of god-knows how many directives over the past 20-plus years (gulps!) and it is clear that despite some good points, it is a centralising, bureaucratic and in too many cases, unaccountable body. It is not, I believe, reformable because too many countries want to keep it as it is. Cameron tried to get concessions and he failed.