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Sir Charles Trevelyan, the Irish Potato Famine and the inversion of reality. Not laissez-faire in Ireland under Trevelyan – the opposite of laissez-faire.

This post is written by Paul Marks and is posted on his behalf as he is not in a position to post.

Part of the story of Sir Charles Trevelyan is fairly well known and accurately told. Charles Trevelyan was head of the relief efforts in Ireland under Russell’s government in the late 1840s – on his watch about a million Irish people died and millions more fled the country. But rather than being punished, or even dismissed in disgrace, Trevelyan was granted honours, made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) and later made a Baronet, not bad for the son of the Cornishman clergyman. He went on to the create the modern British Civil Service – which dominates modern life in in the United Kingdom.

With Sir Edwin Chadwick (the early 19th century follower of Jeremy Bentham who wrote many reports on local and national problems in Britain – with the recommended solution always being more local or central government officials, spending and regulations), Sir Charles Trevelyan could well be described as one of the key creators of modern government. If, for example, one wonders why General Douglas Haig was not dismissed in disgrace after July 1st 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme when twenty thousand British soldiers were killed and thirty thousand wounded for no real gain (the only officers being sent home in disgrace being those officers who had saved some of them men by ordering them stop attacking – against the orders of General Haig), then the case of Sir Charles Trevelyan is key – the results of his decisions were awful, but his paperwork was always perfect (as was the paperwork of Haig and his staff). The United Kingdom had ceased to be a society that always judged someone on their success or failure in their task – it had become, at least partly, a bureaucratic society where people were judged on their words and their paperwork. A General, in order to be great, did not need to win battles or capture important cities – what they needed to do was write official reports in the correct administrative manner, and a famine relief administrator did not have to actually save the population he was in charge of saving – what he had to do was follow (and, in the case of Sir Charles, actually invent) the correct administrative procedures.

But here is where the story gets strange – every source I have ever seen in my life, has described Sir Charles Trevelyan as a supporter of “Laissez Faire” (French for, basically, “leave alone”) “non-interventionist” “minimal government” and his policies are described in like manner. I must stress that I do not just mean sources such as “Wikipedia” (according to which the economic polices of General Perón were good for Argentina, and the failed communist, from each according to their ability – to each according to their need, experiment in the Plymouth colony in North America, in the early 17th century, never happened, despite Thanksgiving), I mean every source I have seen. Here is a quote from an article on the BBC website:

Laissez-faire, the reigning economic orthodoxy of the day, held that there should be as little government interference with the economy as possible. Under this doctrine, stopping the export of Irish grain was an unacceptable policy alternative, and it was therefore firmly rejected in London, though there were some British relief officials in Ireland who gave contrary advice.

It would seem odd for the creator of the modern Civil Service to be a roll-back-the-government person – but let us examine the theory in relation to what actually happened.

Let us test the theory that Ireland under Charles Trevelyan was a “laissez faire” place. Under this doctrine taxes would be very low – well were taxes very low? No, taxes were crushingly high – under the slogan of “Irish property must pay for Irish poverty” Irish Poor Law taxes, under the Act of 1838, (which had not even existed in the 18th century – the time of Edmund Burke) were pushed higher and higher – and the taxes were spread, although you wouldn’t know that from Wikipedia. As various “Poor Law Unions” went bankrupt the British government insisted that other Poor Law Unions that had not gone bankrupt, for example in the Province of Ulster, come to their aid – by pushing up their taxes. Thus taxes everywhere in Ireland became crushing. Taxes in Ireland had not been low before – indeed Edmund Burke had calculated that, relative to the wealth of the people, taxes in 18th century Ireland were much higher than taxes in England and Wales – but in the late 1840s under “laissez faire” Trevelyan taxes became much higher than they had been. The armed Royal Irish Constabulary, a national police force, perhaps more like a Gendarmerie, which had not existed in the 18th century, had its work cut out making sure these taxes were collected. And Charles Trevelyan insisted that the government education system, which also had not existed in the 18th century, not be neglected. The idea of perhaps spending the money devoted to the government schools on famine relief – well perhaps best not to mention that to him, even though Ireland had existed for many centuries without these government schools. Well, to a bureaucrat, children must be educated, even as they starved and died, just as dead men must be sent formal letters of complaint that they had not filled in government forms (no, I am not making that up) in relation to their relief work (even if they had not been paid – due to not filling in the correct forms).

Ah yes, the relief work. The endless “roads to nowhere” and other such schemes, Keynes did not invent these, but multiplier there was none. Charles Trevelyan was very determined that none of his relief projects should benefit the Irish economy (yes – you did read that correctly, NOT benefiting the Irish economy was his aim), that is why the roads tended to go from “nowhere to nowhere” and the other projects were of much the same “digging holes and filling them in again” type (much like the mad projects in France after the Revolution of 1848 – and yet no one calls them “laissez faire“). This was due to Trevelyan’s hatred, and hatred is not too strong a word, for Irish landowners – most of the anti-Irish comments that Irish Nationalists gleefully quote were actually directed at Irish landowners (most of whom were Protestants); Trevelyan hated them with a passion and attributed all the problems of Ireland to them (rather than to the Penal Laws, undermining the property rights of Roman Catholics and Dissenting Protestants, which had actually created the Irish “Peasant Plot” system over so many years – the Penal Laws had been repealed. but the system they created remained), no scheme must in-any-way benefit the accursed “gentry” (who Sir Charles seems to have regarded as close to being spawn of Satan). That the Whig Party itself was the creation of the aristocratic landowners does not seem to have carried much weight with Trevelyan – after all he was not working for the landowners, he was, at least in his own mind, on a mission from God (yes – God Himself) to set the world to rights. A Philosopher King – or rather a Philosopher Civil Servant, who treated the forms and regulations he created as Holy Texts.

None of the above is anything to do with “laissez faire” it is, basically, the opposite. Reality is being inverted by the claim that a laissez faire policy was followed in Ireland. A possible counter argument to all this would go as follows – “Sir Charles Trevelyan was a supporter of laissez faire – he did not follow laissez faire in the case of Ireland, but because he was so famous for rolling back the state elsewhere (whilst spawning the modern Civil Service) – it was assumed that he must have done so in the case of Ireland”, but does even that argument stand up? I do not believe it does. Certainly Sir Charles Trevelyan could talk in a pro free market way (just as General Haig could talk about military tactics – and sound every inch the “educated soldier”), but what did he actually do when he was NOT in Ireland?

I cannot think of any aspect of government in the bigger island of the then UK (Britain) that Sir Charles Trevelyan rolled back. And in India (no surprise – the man was part of “the Raj”) he is most associated with government road building (although at least the roads went to actual places in India – they were not “from nowhere to nowhere”) and other government “infrastructure”, and also with the spread of government schools in India. Trevelyan was passionately devoted to the spread of government schools in India – this may be a noble aim, but it is not exactly a roll-back-the-state aim. Still less a “radical”, “fanatical” devotion to “laissez faire“.

Paul Marks.

Our ‘Stasi’ face a legal challenge – ‘The right to be offended does not exist’ says a High Court Judge.

A Lincolnshire businessman (and former police officer), Mr Harry Miller, has sought a judicial review of one of the more sinister aspects of current policing, the recording of ‘hate incidents’ by the police even when there is no offence (on their own admission). The case is ongoing, and a report in The Telegraph (paywall of sorts) indicates that the judge made a remark that might indicate that he was surprised at the position of the ‘College of Policing’, one of those quangos that isn’t needed and might even have been invented to hammer nails in to the coffin of the liberties of Englishmen.

The “right to be offended” does not exist, a judge has said, as the High Court hears that British police forces are recording hate incidents even if there is no evidence that they took place.

The College of Policing, the professional body which delivers training for all officers in England and Wales, issued their Hate Crime Operational Guidance (HCOG) in 2014, which states that a comment reported as hateful by a victim must be recorded “irrespective of whether there is any evidence to identify the hate element”.

Mr Justice Knowles expressed surprise at the rule, asking the court: “That doesn’t make sense to me. How can it be a hate incident if there is no evidence of the hate element?”. Mr Justice Knowles made the remark on the first day of a landmark legal challenge against guidelines issued to police forces across the country on how to record “non-crime hate incidents”.

He added: “We live in a pluralistic society where none of us have a right to be offended by something that they hear.

“Freedom of expression laws are not there to protect statements such as ‘kittens are cute’ – but they are there to protect unpleasant things.

“Its utility lies in exposing people to things that they do not want to hear.”

I note that the BBC takes a different line on the case, highlighting the following:

He (Mr Miller) previously described police as using George Orwell’s novel 1984 as an “operating manual”.

His barrister, Ian Wise QC, told the court his client was “deeply concerned” about proposed reforms to the law on gender recognition and had used Twitter to “engage in debate about transgender issues”.

Mr Wise said Humberside Police had also sought to “dissuade him from expressing himself on such issues in the future”.

This, he said, was “contrary to his fundamental right to freedom of expression”.
Mr Miller has “never expressed hatred towards the transgender community”, he said.

“He has simply questioned the belief that trans women are women and should be treated as such for all purposes.”
His views, he added, “form part of a legitimate public debate and cannot sensibly be regarded as ‘hate speech'”.

In response, Jonathan Auburn, for the College of Policing, said: “While the claimant now expressly disavows having any personal hostility or prejudice towards transgender people, his social media messages speak for themselves.”

In one tweet, he said Mr Miller posted: “I was assigned mammal at birth, but my orientation is fish. Don’t mis-species me.”

It strikes me that Counsel for the ‘College’ is not making a legal point there, but is trying to stretch a factual one, and conflating incredulity with hostility.

At last, someone is taking on the PC State. The case continues. It could set a most welcome precedent on this issue, but it would need the Court of Appeal to rule on the issue to make a generally-binding precedent for England and Wales.

Goats save the Reagan library

News comes to us that creatures more commonly associated with destruction, a herd of goats in California, have helped to preserve the Reagan Presidential Library by the simple act of eating scrub, thereby clearing brushwood, as the BBC put it:

In May, the library hired the goats to clear flammable scrub surrounding the complex as a preventative measure.
The goats ate the brush, creating a fire break that slowed the flames and gave firefighters extra time to react.
The library near Los Angeles was threatened by the Easy Fire, the latest in a spate of fires causing evacuations and power cuts across the state.
The caprine contractors included Vincent van Goat, Selena Goatmez and Goatzart. They helped save exhibits including an Air Force One jet and a piece of the Berlin Wall.
We were told by one of the firefighters that they believe that fire break made their job easier,” Melissa Giller, a library spokeswoman, told Reuters.

Well at least the firemen in California recognise the worth of a fire break, and some act prudently to preserve property using forward planning.

Perhaps these caprine fire fighters will become the go-to contractors for those Californians who don’t wish to be incinerated? How long before Sacramento regulates goat use (more than it probably already does, I have no idea?) lest something be left of the Goaten State?

Personally, I’d put them in the State Legislature with some statute books and whatever laws they eat are repealed, surely that would be an improvement? Then they could move on the State Supreme Court.

Have we vanished into the night?

The good folk at Lawyers for Britain have published a short paper by an eminent QC, recently retired, on whether or not the latest ‘extension’ of the ‘Article 50’ 2 year period for making arrangements to leave the EU is valid, if it is not, the upshot of this would be that the UK left the EU at 23.00 hours on 29th March 2019 (without anyone realising it).

The author of the piece, Stanley Brodie QC, puts his argument around the way in which Article 50 is worded, and suggests that there was only power within Article 50 for one extension to the negotiation period, which the hapless Mrs May used up in her botched attempts at getting an extension to ram through Parliament her ‘Withdrawal Agreement’.

Our learned friend’s view of the proviso for an extension of Article 50 includes:

The proviso could not be used to reopen, or continue, never ending debate. Nor can it be used as a general power to extend time.

One might hope, but this is the EU. He also says that when the EU made a counter-proposal for extension of the negotiation period with the UK, this was not lawfully done.

On 25th March 2019, the UK government set out its plans for delaying departure, in brief, there was this announcement:

“3. However, the agreement reached with the EU provides for two possible durations:
a. An extension to 11pm on 22 May 2019 if the House of Commons approves the Withdrawal Agreement by 29 March; or
b. An extension to 11pm on 12 April 2019 if it does not, before which the UK would need to put forward an alternative plan on decide to leave without a deal.
4. The Government has therefore laid today, Monday 25 March, a draft SI under Section 20(4) that provides for both these possibilities; …”

Mr Brodie’s view includes the following:

The Agreement provides for two possible durations; whereas the proviso to paragraph 3 provides for a unanimous decision “to extend this period”. The two concepts are wholly different. Extending “this period” is one outcome; two possible durations, without any certainty, are certainly something else, not authorised anywhere in Article 50. If one can have two hypothetical durations, can one make an Agreement under Article 50 which includes more than two durations – a kind of take your pick deal? It is obvious that such an arrangement would be incompatible with the need for an orderly, or credible exit from the EU. The conclusion, I would suggest, is that the Agreement used and implemented by the Prime Minister, Mr Barnier and President Tusk was unlawful and ultra vires Article 50. It was without any legal foundation in accordance with Article 50. Purporting to use their Agreement as compliance with the requirements of Article 50, paragraph 3, and in particular its proviso, was unsustainable. That meant that the illegal nature and purpose of the Agreement invalidated it; there was no unanimous decision to “extend this period”. The requirements of Article 50 were ignored. It was not an application to extend this period as required by the proviso.

Our learned friend also takes issue with the advice given by Civil Servants to Parliament (well, the House of Commons iuam) about what was going on around the various extensions, I have added some emphasis:

5.2 Next, on or about the 14th March the Government issued a note entitled Parameters of Extending Article 50. It contained inter alia the following statement:
What are the legal requirements for an Article 50 Extension set out in the EU Treaties?
The Article 50 period is set at 2 years unless, as provided for in Article 50 “the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend [it]”. Article 50 does not establish any upper limit on the length of an extension. However, given the Article 50 period is explicitly time-limited, any extension would have to set a specific end date, because it is necessary for reasons of legal certainty to be clear on the date on which the UK will leave the EU.”

5.3 It is at this point that there occurs a curious mishap. The first and second lines of the quotation purport to be an accurate reproduction of Article 50. They are not. If one looks at Article 50, it is apparent that the last three words of paragraph 3 are “extend this period”; but in the quotation the last two words are “extend [it]”. So the version put out by the civil servants was false. The differences in meaning between the two versions were considerable.

(a) The true version
Under this version the EC and the Member State can agree to extend “this period”. This period is the two year period after which the Member State ceases to be a member of the EU automatically. But it would appear that the power to extend Article 50 can only be used once; “this period” appears to be limited to the two year period, making it clear that no further extensions to Article 50 could be made. That would certainly curtail any power to make any further extension.

(b) The false version
The last four words of this version of Article 50 now read “decides to extend it”. The wording of this version is apt to enable the Prime Minister to seek as many extensions to the Article 50 process as she wishes; she is no longer inhibited by the restrictions contained in Article 50. It is relevant to point out that in the Parameters paper there appears this statement at paragraph 2:
“This paper provides a factual summary to inform parliament’s debate on that motion”.
5.4 So the civil servants responsible for briefing parliament to enable an informed debate to take place, themselves were misleading it. The alteration of the text of Article 50, and of the proviso to paragraph 3, must have been deliberate.

The beneficiary of this misconduct was the Prime Minister, who could and did arrange for extensions of time without hindrance. The text of the Parameters paper makes it clear that the civil servants had no qualms about extensions or their supposed length and legal foundation. October 31st 2019 is the latest.
This is a truly alarming state of affairs; it should be exposed sooner rather than later.

In summary, he includes the following:

(i) The application by the Prime Minister for an extension of time until June 30th under the proviso to Article 50, made on or about the 14th March 2019, was legally valid, but was rejected by the EU.

(ii) This was followed by the Agreement proposed by the EU. It did not comply with the terms of the proviso; nor was Article 50 referred to or relied on by the EU. It was not effective to stop the Article 50 process running up to and including the 29th March at 11 p.m. Whichever way one looks at it, the Agreement was either unlawful or made for an unlawful purpose or ultra vires .That means that the UK left the EU on the 29th March 2019 by default as there was no valid or lawful impediment to prevent it.

I am not aware of any proposals to test these arguments by seeking a declaration from the High Court, which would be the usual method for deciding a question of law regarding the UK’s affairs. I would say that even if these arguments have merit, I am afraid that I doubt that any application would get a fair hearing in the UK.

However, wouldn’t it be a superb outcome for Mrs May to have taken us out of the EU by accident without realising, and therefore to have resigned by mistake, should she carry out that avowed intent? She would become the ultimate, Universal Champion clusterf*ck politician of all time, although she’s probably made that podium already.

ADDENDUM: APL points out that there is apparently a legal case brought by Robin Tilbrook of the English Democrats. The most that I can find about his case, which appears to rely on some other matters, is here.

The fall of the Temple of Reason

Terrible news from Paris of the fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral. As I write, I understand that not all is lost of this masterpiece. The collapsed spire was a 19th Century addition, but the damage must be immense.

When I was last in Paris, over a decade ago, I recall looking at Notre-Dame and shuddering as I thought of it as ‘destroyed’ (not that I believe that there are ‘holy’ places), as, during the French Revolution, it was closed as a cathedral and was declared a Temple of Reason. When egalitarians appeal to reason, you know heads will roll.

There followed years of neglect, before, AIUI, in 1905, the French State (which had assumed ownership), effectively provided the cathedral to the Catholic Church as a permanent ‘tenant’. The cause of the fire may well be nothing more sinister than incompetence, perhaps we will never know. I would like to think that commercial aviation levels of caution would go into fire precautions in such a building, (perhaps they did) which, whatever your view of the use or purpose of it, is surely one of the great buildings on Earth. However, the neglect under State ownership has continued, and yesterday’s cathedral was a revived corpse of the pre-Revolutionary building.

It is pretty shameful that neither Hitler nor the Kaiser managed to do as much damage to Notre Dame as the fire. It had survived them, and rioting Hugenots. In WW2, it was relatively unscathed. Some lost mediaeval glass was, I understand, replaced by abstract crap in the post-War period, so the scoundrels were already circling.

Perhaps the fire is a Randian moment, wasn’t there a train crash in a tunnel for which ‘no one is responsible’? Is the burning down of a ‘temple of reason’ an allegory for France after its great economists are all-but forgotten?

Does it matter if, in rebuilding Notre-Dame, stone that is geologically ancient is replaced by other just as ancient stone, carved a few mere centuries later? Should, as with the Campanile in Venice, the order be: ‘Com’era, Dov’era.‘. ‘How it was, where it was.‘?

Or will something more ‘inclusive’ replace it or be grated on to it?

The King of Spain is belatedly singeing many a landlord’s beard…

Mr Ed: This post is made on behalf of Paul Marks, the Sage of Kettering, as he appears to have some issues with posting. I have put my pennyworth in.

Centuries ago the Kings of Spain forbad landlords to remove tenants at the end of their tenancy contract (at least in Castile) – the Kings wanted to be seen as the “friends of the poor”. This was the true start of the decline of Castile and it spread to Latin America – where landlords just became interested in collecting-the-rent rather than improving their estates (as it was not lawful for them to remove tenants). Soon rents became “customary” – fixed under the “just price” doctrine, close kin of the “fair wage” doctrine.

Spain and Latin America lagged behind the Common Law world not because Spanish is somehow an inferior language to English – but because Spanish law became inferior to the Common Law which was based upon Freedom-of-Contract not “Social Justice” with its “just price”, “fair wage” and “security of tenure” (regardless of contract). The government of British Prime Minister Theresa May now seeks to copy the “Spanish Practices” of centuries ago – by making contracts meaningless. For example, if a tenant can not be removed after the term of their contract (their tenancy) is over then only a fool would let out a property in the first place. What is intended to “reduce homelessness” will end up increasing it.

Mr Ed: This piece on Conservativehome sets out the aptly-named Secretary of State’s view, Mr Brokenshire, he is indeed going to scour the Shires, and the towns and cities too. Someone said rent control was the second-surest way to destroy a city after carpet bombing.

James Brokenshire: Why we have decided to abolish no fault evictions

The legal position (England and, I think, Wales but it may be devolved) is not set out very well in the piece, so the explanation on the government’s website is here. Basically, the legal mechanism is a Section 21 notice, whereby a property owner can evict a tenant after a 6-month tenancy has ended, i.e. it has run its minimum term, or when it is of indefinite duration. This is to be abolished, leaving in place the much less effective Section 8 Notice, whereby tenants can play cat-and-mouse by not paying rent, then paying arrears and stopping an eviction, amongst other things.

Bastiat’s ‘What is seen and what is not seen’ might seem to be the issue here, but I fear that there are those who will not ‘see’ when it does not suit them, and unlike Nelson, it is from cowardice and calculation.

Of course, if the Sage is right, Mrs May is making England that little bit more like Venezuela, singeing Mr Corbyn’s beard and stealing his clothes.

Her Britannic Majesty’s Government should do something….

British woman faces Dubai jail over Facebook ‘horse’ insult

Shocking news from Dubai, a British woman, formerly an expat in Dubai, has been arrested there and is facing up to 2 years in jail, after travelling to her ex-husband’s funeral. This is an ex-husband whose new wife she had allegedly rudely deprecated on Facebook (whilst in the UK).

Ms Shahravesh was married to her ex-husband for 18 years, during which time she lived in the United Arab Emirates for eight months, according to the campaign group Detained in Dubai.
While she returned to the UK with her daughter, her husband stayed in the United Arab Emirates, and the couple got divorced.
Ms Sharavesh discovered her ex-husband was remarrying when she saw photos of the new couple on Facebook.
She posted two comments in Farsi, including one that said: “I hope you go under the ground you idiot. Damn you. You left me for this horse”.

Sadly, her ‘wish’ came true. The target of her ire reported the comments and is refusing to drop the case, it seems.

The Foreign Office said it was supporting the mother-of-one.

Well that is reassuring, the same Foreign Office that is campaigning for freedom of speech in the media by appointing a relatively low profile barrister with a rather more well-known husband as its special envoy on media freedom.

Whilst at the same time, social media freedom in the UK is coming under attack from the UK’s government.

Websites to be fined over ‘online harms’ under new proposals

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has proposed an independent watchdog that will write a “code of practice” for tech companies.
Senior managers could be held liable for breaches, with a possible levy on the industry to fund the regulator.

Discussing financial penalties on BBC Breakfast, he (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Jeremy Wright) said: “If you look at the fines available to the Information Commissioner around the GDPR rules, that could be up to 4% of company’s turnover… we think we should be looking at something comparable here.”

Well, a proposal for yet another self-financing regulatory agency, (the business model of the Spanish Inquisition, I understand). What will they do with all the surplus funds? What of Dr. Bonham’s Case, all fines belong to the King?

Just out of interest, what exactly might HM Government be complaining about to Dubai when certain social media postings in the UK can get you fined or jailed for 2 years anyway?

A draft speech for Mrs May’s approval

After pondering deeply the general trends of the world and the actual conditions obtaining in Our Empire today, We have decided to effect a settlement of the present situation by resorting to an extraordinary measure.

We have ordered Our Government to communicate to the Governments of the European Union and its Member States that Our Empire accepts the provisions of their Political Declaration.

To strive for the common prosperity and happiness of all nations as well as the security and well-being of Our subjects is the solemn obligation which has been handed down by Our Imperial Ancestors and which lies close to Our heart.

Indeed, We declared our intention to leave Europe’s Union out of Our sincere desire to ensure the United Kingdom’s self-preservation and the stabilization of Gibraltar, it being far from Our thought either to infringe upon the sovereignty of other nations or to embark upon territorial aggrandizement.

But now the Brexit row has lasted for nearly four years. Despite the best that has been done by everyone — the gallant fighting of the diplomatic forces, the diligence and assiduity of Our servants of the State, and the devoted service of Our sixty million people — the Brexit situation has developed not necessarily to the United Kingdom’s advantage, while the general trends of the world have all turned against her interest.

Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel £39,000,000,000* divorce bill, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent businesses. Should we continue to fight, not only would it result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the British nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization.

Such being the case, how are We to save the millions of Our subjects, or to atone Ourselves before the hallowed spirits of Our Imperial Ancestors? This is the reason why We have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the Political Declaration of the Powers.

The hardships and sufferings to which Our nation is to be subjected hereafter will be certainly great. We are keenly aware of the inmost feelings of all of you, Our subjects. However, it is according to the dictates of time and fate that We have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is unsufferable.

* it could be a lot more.

Leaving the EU – a Jersey jaunt and a Guernsey gallivant

Rightly not trusting our leaders to deliver on their statements (there were, IFUC, no promises about leaving the EU from Mrs May), the Sage of Kettering and I have left the EU in that recently, we have visited our nearest escape hole, the Channel Islands. A fleeting visit, one day in each, but we have seen a future, and it works, more or less. For our more distant readers, Jersey and Guernsey are ‘Crown Dependencies’, historically part of the Duchy of Normandy, owing allegiance to the British Crown but not part of the UK. The UK government has arrogated to itself the overlordship of the islands, holding responsibility for foreign affairs and defence (well, sort of, as we shall see), but the two Bailiwicks are otherwise independent jurisdictions with autonomy in most areas, crucially taxation, and are outside of the European Union, albeit within EU Customs arrangements, allowing them to trade with the EU. Here, they say, the Queen is the Duke of Normandy, although monuments refer to ‘la Reine’. She is the only Duke I can think of married to a Duke. Whether or not they can simply declare independence is constitutionally unclear, but with Labour dangerously close to power, they might be advised to make some plans.

→ Continue reading: Leaving the EU – a Jersey jaunt and a Guernsey gallivant

Lawyers for Britain on the poisonous choices ahead

Martin Howe QC has written an article on the choices facing Parliament with regard to ratifying Mrs May’s agreement (as amended) or extending the Article 50 deadline, the Trojan ass beloved of Remainiacs.

Essentially, he sees the worst option as approving Mrs May deal with its indefinite nature, subjugation to the ECJ as an arbitration mechanism and no exit clause (but I think a suitably-phrased Act of Parliament and, in the event of any nonsense from over the water, a few well-aimed cruise missiles as an ultimate fallback would do). I fail to see the disadvantage of breaching such a bad treaty, President Trump is a great one for saying that this arrangement is screwing us, so screw it and if you don’t like it, tough.

A short extension would be a nonsense as the European ‘Parliament’ will take a break from rubber-stamping or worse, gilding (never ‘gelding’ it seems) the legislation put before it so that elections may be held, and it is needed to ratify the final Withdrawal Agreement. It would give three weeks for more procrastination and delay (which is the whole point of Mrs May’s premiership, in case anyone hasn’t noticed).

As Mr Howe notes of the FFC:

The Prime Minister’s statement to the House of Commons on 26 February 2019 opened the door to a “short, limited extension to Article 50 not beyond the end of June” if the House again rejects her deal on 12 March. She thereby abandoned her commitment, repeated in the Commons more than 100 times, that the UK will leave the European Union on 29 March 2019.

Without any apparent consciousness of the irony, she told the House that she would stick by her commitment to hold a vote on extending Article 50 “as I have [stuck by my] previous commitments”.

Mr Howe sums up the advantage of a 21 month extension over Mrs May’s ‘deal’.

A long extension of 21 months would have the same practical result as the “implementation” period in the deal, except the UK would be much better off than under the deal because we would still have a vote and representation in EU institutions and the European Parliament.
Unlike the deal, we would be free to leave on 1 January 2021 without being trapped in the “backstop” Protocol.
Our financial liabilities during the 21 month extension would be the same as under the deal, but unlike the deal, we would have no obligations afterwards.
Unlike under the deal, we would not be subject to indefinite ECJ jurisdiction after 2020.

As Mr Howe notes:

When you want to get someone to do something by threatening them, the normal protocol is that you threaten them with something which is worse than the thing you want them to do. However, in this case, it is the other way round. The ‘threat’ is manifestly more advantageous in every way than the thing the threatener wants the threatened to do (vote for the Theresa May deal).

Would an extension be granted by the EU?

… there are severe difficulties in the way of getting such an extension in the first place. The EU is wary of the problems which would be created by holding the European Parliament elections in the UK. The Conservative Party should be not simply wary, but alarmed across the board, at such a prospect, since a decimation of the Conservative vote in the face of Nigel Farage’s reinvigorated Brexit party cannot be ruled out. And if the Brexit party establishes itself with a big vote in the European Parliament elections, it will not go away and will be a real vote-splitting problem for the Conservatives in by-elections and at the next general election – an even greater problem than UKIP was in the past.

The EU may well not be willing to agree to an extension. It only takes one member state to veto it.

So this is where the Conservative Party has taken the country, to a point where threats of something better that a final outcome are being deployed with a view to getting the worst possible deal for the UK? And our best hope may well be another EU member government deciding to put a stick in the spokes of the extension? Could, say, nice Mr Orban be our saviour? We might see just how far the euroscepticism of some European politicians will take them.

‘…If there are not… …great private fortresses… …to which you can flee from the State, …’ . And then the Patreon/Mastercard question….

The words of economist and philosopher Anthony de Jasay, in a long interview on YT. The full quote, as I transcribe it:

‘…The State can starve you if it has sufficient power over the economy. If there are not (as Schumpeter put it) great private fortresses in the economy to which you can flee from the State, when all these private fortresses are demolished, then you are utterly delivered to the State….’.

. He also said

‘…the State can starve you if it has sufficient power over jobs, over the economy, because it can decide that you will not get a job…’

But with the Patreon and Mastercard blacklisting of certain ‘right wing’ voices on YT, such as the brave Robert Spencer and where no state appears to have done anything, we have a situation where private companies are choosing to end contracts with individuals on what can only sensibly be termed political grounds. This might be the thin end of a very broad wedge. In a cashless society, it could make like very difficult indeed for certain individuals.

Now a libertarian might say that this is unfortunate but simply the choice of a business whether or not it wishes to do business with any particular person, and is not a matter for any form of legal regulation. Furthermore, if there is a breach of contract (e.g. a bogus justification for not processing payments), then damages are limited to the losses that flow from the breach and would cease at the point at which the contract could lawfully have been ended.

A counter argument might be that if it is to do this, a business (assuming that we are talking about the legal fiction of a body corporate) which seeks to refuse custom on political grounds (rather than on grounds of breaching the law), then it should be open about its aims, and be specifically empowered to pick and choose customers in its terms of service and in its company rules. So if Mastercard advertise to me that I can use my card for payment, without qualification, then it has fraudulently mis-represented to me what it will do since in an objective reality, making payment to Mr Robert Spencer, (pbuh) is perfectly innocuous, and my custom has been obtained by deceit, and Mastercard has in fact a general obligation to process payments made by me to whomever I choose, except where an illegality issue arises, where it need not advertise the fact.

And of course, a company does nothing, it has the legal fiction of a corporate personality, whereby it is supposedly liable for its acts, not always those who work for it. But if those who work for a company are not acting in its best interests, but in the interest of their own malevolence, can that company claim against them? Should the ‘veil of incorporation’ be pierced?

And what sort of a weapon might that be in certain judicial circuits in the United States, or other jurisdictions, where ‘social justice’ might be deemed a requisite corporate objective?

So, what would those who tend towards libertarianism, and some around here may be 0.999 (recurring) in the direction, others not so close to being an integer, say could or should be done about the situation, if anything?

And does the State (from its own pov) need to do anything more to restrict the internet if there is a ‘private’ solution to undesirable speech on the internet?

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the Kitchener?

The British Army continues to morph into the Blairmacht, it seems. Its new recruitment posters had me thinking that I had fallen into a coma and woken up a few days after our glorious independence due on 29th March. Here is what I mean: ‘The Army targets ‘snowflake’ millennials‘ (as recruits, not legitimate uses for ammo).

The posters, taken as fair use:

and this:

Now there are two possibilities I see here, not mutually exclusive, the less likely that someone is trolling the MoD and being paid for it, and the other is that someone is being paid for it.

Still, as posters go, I would grant that it is better than this blatant mickey-take.

And in terms of assuring the civil population that the Army is no threat, it doesn’t really beat this, but I do wonder if the thinking behind the current Army it is more similar to what produced this.

And we should remember that for some British Army recruits, the heat is not the problem, but the cold may be:

A soldier from Africa is suing the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for £150,000, claiming they failed to protect him from cold weather conditions.

“Mr Asiamah told the High Court his superiors had neglected to warn him to bring warm kit such as gloves, socks, and boots ahead of the exercise, which he said took place one week after he was forced to spend five hours listening to lectures in cold weather while dressed in civilian clothing in Naseby, Northamptonshire.”

Naseby, the Civil War, what would Prince Rupert or Halifax say?

But, may I remind you, it is the law of England that the categories of negligence are never closed…

His legal team argues officers exposed Mr Asiamah to the uncomfortable conditions despite knowing Africans are more susceptible to cold-related conditions, according to court papers which quote a 2009 military study which found soldiers of African origin were 30 times more likely to suffer cold-related injuries than indigenous Europeans.

AFAIK, the case continues… What would Field Marshal the Earl (Horatio Herbert) Kitchener say were he spinning in his cold, watery grave? That Wing Cdr Ken Gatward DSO DFC* AE was named for him, and lived up to it, might give one pause for thought.