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Mercedes, cladding and what Brian Micklethwait would say

Lewis Hamilton says he had ‘nothing to do’ with Mercedes deal with Grenfell firm

A little bit of background. A company called Kingspan sold some of the cladding that was largely responsible for the ferocity of the Grenfell Tower fire that killed 70 or so people. That same company now sponsors the Mercedes Formula 1 racing team. Kingspan themselves claim that their product was used illegally and without their knowledge.

There’s more. The government, unusefully, is poking its oar in:

Meanwhile, Communities Secretary Michael Gove said the government could amend advertising rules on racing cars if Mercedes does not pull the partnership with Kingspan.

The apparent rule being invoked here is that you should not receive money from a company that has supplied a product where the misuse of that product has led to someone’s death.

Oddly enough there is another company whose name appears on Mercedes’s cars that falls into the same category. That company is Mercedes. Mercedes makes cars. Rather a lot of people have misused Mercedes cars (and lorries) over the years and – guess what – lots of people have died.

It’s actually a bit worse than that. Mercedes is the result of a merger between Daimler and Benz. It is not entirely clear to me who invented the car but the choice comes down to one of those two. So – you could argue – not only are Mercedes responsible for Mercedes car deaths but every other car death as well. That’s millions of people (I think). So, if Mercedes should stop receiving sponsorship from Kingspan it should certainly stop receiving sponsorship from Mercedes. And probably from all its other sponsors. I am sure you could make an argument.

That is, of course, if the world wished to be consistent. But of course it doesn’t. Why not? We all know why. Well, if we don’t here’s a clue: a large proportion of the people killed in Grenfell Tower were black.

While I was imagining writing this – it sounded a lot better in my imagination than it looks on the screen – I had an uneasy thought: the late Brian Micklethwait would not pen a post like this. I wondered why. I told myself that Brian would continue to ask “Why?” “Why do we get this very apparent hypocrisy?” To which I suppose the answer is that in anything involving black people a different standard is applied. “Why is that?” I imagined Brian asking. At which point I started to come to some rather dark conclusions. Which is something Brian liked to avoid. “Optimism is a tactic.” as he once said.

On reflection, I don’t think he would tackle this subject at all. He didn’t particularly like discussing identity politics even if he did once use the phrase, “woke nonsense.” He also didn’t tend to accuse people of hypocrisy. Well, at least not strangers. So, I don’t think he would have written about this even if there hadn’t been an identitarian dimension. If he had I think the title would have been something along the lines of “Why black people (and everybody else) should want freedom for themselves (and everybody else).”

20 comments to Mercedes, cladding and what Brian Micklethwait would say

  • John B

    “Optimism is a tactic.”

    Optimism is for those who can’t face reality… a forlorn hope.

  • Pessimism is for people who want an excuse to surrender

  • Stephen William Houghton II

    As Robert Heinlein wrote, “a pessimist is correct oftener than an optimist, but an optimist has more fun, and neither can stop the march of events.”

    But Perry is right that to often pessimism is but an excuse to give up.

  • staghounds

    “rather dark conclusions.”????

  • John

    On the subject of hypocrisy I laughed at Hamilton’s ostentatious rainbow helmet.

    This is the “man” who only a couple of years ago made the sensible observation that little boys should not wear princess dresses.

    I say “man” because rather than stand by his own words he immediately turned into a chicken.

  • Tim the Coder

    The Grenfell fire was started by a fridge. Therefore all fridges should be banned…

    Look on the bright side. If the journos and lobbyists weren’t writing this sort of nonsense, they might be doing something else far more damaging, like blocking fossil fuel usage, for instance…

  • Paul Marks

    The cladding on Glenfell Tower was not needed – nor was the communal heating system (the ducts). The building had stood for many years without either one.

    Both the cladding and the internal duct system were added as “Green” moves – pushed by the Blair government. The building as it was originally designed would not have burned – no cladding to burn and no internal duct system (instead each flat dealing with heating as an individual unit).

    So the burning was due to the “Green” policy of the British government (under both Labour and the Conservatives).

    As for the government telling people who can they accept sponsorship from and threating people with changes in the law if they do not do what it wants.

    Classic “projection” – the bureaucracy (using the minister, Mr Gove, as its puppet) is trying to divert attention from the consequences of its own “Green” policies.

    No one in this country (at least no one in a position of power) seems to understand the concepts of the Rule of Law and LIMITED Government.

    Contrary to Thomas Hobbes the “Rule of Law” is NOT supposed to mean the commands (whims) of the ruler or rulers.

    However, as none of the fashionable philosophers (Hobbes, Rousseau, Hume, Bentham…..) believed in individual rights AGAINST the Collective (“the people” – the state), we are where we are.

  • Paul Marks

    I should point out that Dr Sean Gabb noticed the utter disregard, perhaps even lack of knowledge of, the principles of the Common Law long before I did.

    It was as if the ruling establishment had read Sir Francis Bacon, Thomas Hobbes, Jeremy Bentham and so on and has said to themselves “I see – so law is just the commands of the ruler or rulers, O.K. then we will order whatever we feel is for the greatest good of the greatest number”.

    Indeed forget “as if” – as that is what has happened to the education system, and (consequently) to the future officials, lawyers and politicians.

    No principles of law, no limits to state power, no natural justice – just arbitrary commands supposedly for the general good.

    “Why do you not respect the law?” – I do respect the law, what no one can respect is arbitrary commands (whims) supposedly for the general good, that is NOT “the law”. Contrary to Sir William Blackstone (who replaced the Divine Right of Kings with the Divine Right of Parliament) – Parliament passing a statute saying “all redheads must be killed” does NOT make it lawful (let alone compulsory) to kill redheads – it remains a crime to murder people. “I was only obeying orders” does not change this, regardless of whether it is King, Parliament or officials giving these orders.

  • “Why black people (and everybody else) should want freedom for themselves (and everybody else).”

    If all the woke white intellectuals who “lust after dominion for themselves and slavery for others” were to turn towards “freedom for themselves (and everybody else)”, the problem here in Britain would be greatly reduced. Conversely, black people who denounce the woke project instead of echoing it have a hard time being heard over the woke white intellectuals speaking “for” them in the media and dismissing their “false consciousness” whenever they speak for themselves. In its current form, the woke project will always want both house negroes to front it and violent negroes as cannon-fodder, and will pursue policies that reward the complicit element and expand the criminal element (that’s as old as ‘helter-skelter’). While it has those two kinds of black confederates, it needs no more. So while the hypothetical ‘Title of Brian’ is to be desired as as a good thing in itself, it would have to grow a lot (in the remaining part of the Black community, where alone it could grow) before such blacks felt free to speak, let alone act.

    This does indeed offer some “rather dark conclusions” – but also the conclusion that for woke-statement-making PoC Lewis Hamilton to find himself tripped up by the absurdities of wokism may be educational to him or others. There is also Churchill’s wise adage:

    For myself, I am an optimist. There does not seem much point in being anything else.

    For myself, I love the truth. To me, the OP’s remark (that he thought “sounded a lot better in my imagination than it looks on the screen“) looked pertinent to explaining the difference – though we should not overlook the mere need to distract from how the desire to be ‘green’ caused the expensive, pointless and in the event deadly cladding in the first place. So it looked OK to me.

  • Bruce

    @John B and Perry:

    I remember when the slogan of the times was:

    “Reality is for people who can’t handle drugs!”

    That worked well, didn’t it?

  • Paul Marks

    It should be pointed out that the Divine Right of Kings, contrary to to Sir Francis Bacon and his followers Thomas Hobbes and Sir William Petty (the 17th century founder of Econometrics, the-FALSE-mathematical-approach-to-economics, and the man who wanted to plan everything and EVERYONE in Ireland) was never a principle of English law.

    Chief Justice Sir Edward Coke and (a century later) Chief Justice Sir John Holt (Chief Justice from 1689 to 1710) were clear that neither King nor Parliament, nor both, can make a crime (such as murder) a non crime – let alone make crime compulsory.

    What Sir William Blackstone did was not really so much as to change the Divine Right of Kings to the Divine Right of Parliament – as,rather, introduce a new principle (the Divine Right of Parliament) and DISGUISE it with many pages of writings on the principles of the Common Law and the Natural Law (Natural Justice) which it tries to apply in the circumstances of time and place.

    As the American Founding Fathers pointed out – if Parliament can do anything it feels like (the position of Sir William Blackstone) then Blackstone’s writings on the principles of the Common Law and natural law and natural justice are POINTLESS, as Parliament can violate all this whenever it feels like it. Chief Justice Hewart pointed out in his “The New Despotism” (1929) that Parliament had, via vague Enabling Acts, passed on this power to rip up the principles of the Common Law (and of natural law – natural justice) to OFFICIALS.

    Nor is all this about long ago – take, for example, the Constitution of Florida, which was only written in 1968.

    The basic principles of the 1968 Constitution of Florida are totally incompatible with the philosophy and legal thought found in Sir Francis Bacon, Thomas Hobbes, Sir William Petty, Sir William Blackstone, David Hume (you CAN NOT get to the principles of the Bill of Rights from the philosophy of David Hume), Jeremy Bentham and-so-on.

    One simply can not be a loyal person, loyal to the Bill of Rights – Federal or State, and follow the fashionable philosophers and legal thinkers – in short when Professor (later President) Woodrow Wilson said that the purpose of education was to make “young men as unlike their fathers as possible” what he was really saying was that the purpose of “education” (when under the control of evil men, such as himself) was to make young men (and now young women) BAD CITIZENS – hostile to the basic limited government, individual rights, principles.

    Please note – in the above I have NOT mentioned the Marxists, or the followers of the French Collectivists such as Saint-Simon. The fashionable British philosophers and legal thinkers are quite bad enough.

    I repeat – the purpose of “education” even in the time of Woodrow Wilson (and Richard Ely), was to make people BAD CITIZENS, people who were NOT LOYAL to the basic principles of limited government and individual rights AGAINST the Collective.

  • Paul Marks

    British people used to know the above (natural law – natural justice) – via the philosophy of people such as Harold Prichard and Sir William David Ross, and the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis – and (very important indeed) the ordinary traditions of their local communities.

    Ordinary people such as Alfred Roberts (the father of Margaret Thatcher) did not need to read the works of F.A. Hayek to understand the importance of struggling against the forces of the totalitarians (yes Mr Roberts used the words “totalitarianism” and “totalitarians”) – indeed ordinary people understood the basic philosophical issues rather BETTER than Professor Hayek did (as Hayek was mislead by false philosophy – specifically false philosophy on the nature-of-man). Such things as the Constitutional Club Network and the British National Rifle Association (in 1914 this was millions of people) never accepted the philosophy (political or general philosophy) of Thomas Hobbes and David Hume.

    Sadly the British public seem to have lost their way – as have the people in so many nations.

  • Prof Paz

    I had thought the claim was, or at least people are talking and acting as if the claim was: Kingspan lied about their product and are therefore directly responsible for some of what happened. Also the CEO said some mean things in private.

    In politics, everything is a popularity contest. So by talking about rules to prevent unpopular people from doing things, politicians hope to gain popularity. (Consistency and avoiding accusations of hypocrisy are not really a consideration.)

    Also there are other categories the Grenfell residents fit into that mean different standards are applied, such as poor and downtrodden.

  • Sam Duncan

    Well, if we don’t here’s a clue: a large proportion of the people killed in Grenfell Tower were black.

    I’m not sure that’s really it. I can easily imagine similar mawkish idiocy if they hadn’t been. The reason is that they were poor Council tenants during a period of Tory government.

    But yes, the “controversy” itself is absurd. As is Hamilton “expressing concern” over the human rights record in Qatar and Saudi Arabia (although, as far as I’m aware, never Red China or Malaysia, whose state oil company is the title sponsor of his team), but doing nothing other than wear a silly helmet.

  • Paul Marks

    Prof Paz – the product did exactly what it was supposed to do. The point is that the “Green” agenda was considered more important than the safety of the building. It was the same with the internal ducts – the communal heating system (another “Green” move).

    The building, as originally built, would not have burned – I am sorry that this was not mentioned in the post, but I did point it out in my first comment.

    “In politics, everything is a popularity contest”.

    Even John Locke (indeed Fortescue a couple of centuries before Locke) assumed that Parliament “made” the law – rather than the High Court of the Monarch in Parliament FINDING the law – i.e. deciding what the law (the effort to apply the principle of justice, to each their own, in the circumstances of time and place) is.

    Parliament (let alone officials) should NOT “make” law. And nor should judges “make” law – it is the job of judges to FIND the law, to apply the principle of Justice (to each their own) in the circumstances of time and place.

    If the law is a “popularity contest” – then you have MOB RULE. Not democracy (not individuals exercising their private moral judgement, their Free Will, in deciding who to vote for) – but “law” as a matter of appeasing whatever mob shouts the loudest.

    For a minster to say “we may pass a law if you do not do what we want you to do” to try and interfere with Freedom of Speech (sponsorship is a form of speech) is not compatible with Civil Association.

  • Paul Marks

    It is very bad that even John Locke (let alone vermin such as Hobbes) is not clear that it is the role of Parliament NOT to “make law” – but to find the law, to apply the principle of justice (to each their own – do not aggress against the persons or property of others) in circumstances where judges have failed to do so.

    Of course such “statutes” should be very rare – and should be a matter of correcting bad judgements, such as the 19th century statute that forbad judges interfering in the wholesale trade, so called “engrossing” and “forstalling”.

    The main role of Parliament is to act as a check on the Executive – no taxes laid or money spent without the consent of Parliament.

    Gough (Oxford – some 70 years ago now) pointed out that John Locke rather glosses over the distinction between individual consent and majority consent (implying that they are the same thing) – whereas in the Middle Ages the difference between individual consent and majority consent was better understood.

    Another problem is that Members of Parliament stated to be appointed ministers without resigning their seats in Parliament – which led to a confusion of Parliament and the Executive, and undermined the role of Parliament as a check upon the Executive.

    However, American practice shows that even if no member of Congress is in the Executive (not strictly true in the United States – as the Vice President also has a vote in the Senate), does not mean that the Congress will act as an effective check upon the Executive.

    Since the growth of the “Administrative State” since the “New Deal” the role of Congress in acting as an effective check upon the Executive (the bureaucracy) has been undermined.

    It should also be borne in the mind that “the Executive” no longer really means the Monarch (in Britain – gradually replaced by the Prime Minister) or the President (the United States) – since the growth of the power and independence of OFFICIALS (unelected) since the late 19th century.

  • Prof Paz

    Paul Marks, you are right. I was not talking about how things should be, but how they are: people think wrongly Kingspan are to blame and politicians want to do what people wrongly think is right. There’s no hypocrisy or inconsistency because there is no pretense at finding the law or being just. The consistent guiding principle is: we do what you want. It is indeed mob rule.

  • Fraser Orr

    If historical associations are the standard you’d think they would be more concerned with the fact that Mercedes was a major supplier of military equipment to Hitler during the second world war. Or perhaps focus on Mitsubishi’s participation in the world rally championship, the same Mitsubishi who made the Kamikaze planes that killed thousands of American sailors during the same war. Oh, and just to add to things, during the war the materiel was produced by slave laborers for both companies.

    But it is not about logic, it is about politics, posturing, optics, outrage, feelz. So what do you expect?

  • Paul Marks

    Yes Pro Paz – it is not good.