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]

Leadership in Elizabeth’s Britain

Recent testimony from a former Acting Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Sir Craig Mackey indicates that he was present as one of his officers was stabbed to death during the Westminster Bridge attack, and sat in his car and locked the doors, and took advice from his subordinates as to what, if anything, to do. Holding, in an acting capacity, the most important policing role in the UK, he did not get out of the car, in which he was a passenger, to intervene, nor, AFAIK, did he suggest that the car be used as a weapon. Of course, it is much easier for any one of us to sit as armchair strategists as to what we might have done, but would we continue in office and look forward to collecting pensions had we been in Sir Craig’s unscuffed shoes?

Sir Craig told jurors it was his ‘instinct’ to get out of the car, but was in a short-sleeved shirt with no equipment following (a) ministerial meeting. ‘I was conscious my two colleagues were not police officers. If anyone had got out, the way this Masood was looking, anyone who got in his way would have been a target,’ he said. ‘I think anyone who came up against that individual would have faced serious, serious injury, if not death.’

He is right, PC Keith Palmer, an unarmed police officer, was murdered in front of the eyes of his then ultimate commander. An armed officer who was co-incidentally nearby was then able to shoot and kill the terrorist Khalid Masood. Presumably Sir Craig did not see it, on balance, as his responsibility to intervene.

The inquest… …heard that Sir Craig, then acting Scotland Yard chief, and his colleagues locked the car doors because they had ‘no protective equipment and no radio’.

Some have criticised Sir Craig, alleging cowardice. The Daily Mail highlights the contrast with a junior Transport Police officer who fought the London Bridge attackers.

So it’s not impossible these days to find brave people in public service, but what rises to the top? Is the process like flatulence in a bath?

In the last summer of George VI’s reign, a relatively junior RAF officer, Flt-Lt John Quinton DFC gave away the only parachute he had to save a young Air Cadet he was training at the cost of his life: The ultimate zenith of courage and leadership. I am reminded of a quote I read about being a Lieutenant in the (IIRC Imperial) German Army.

To live your life as a Lieutenant is to life your life as an example to your men. Dying as an example is thus part of it‘.

Grim, but accurate. In living memory, examples such as the Royal Navy destroyer Acasta, turning to face the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau in June 1940, and earlier HMS Rawalpindi, whose Captain Kennedy reportedly announced, in the hope of delaying his attackers to let a larger force get them’We shall stand and fight them both, and we shall be sunk, and that will be that. Goodbye.‘. Chilling, but, in the overall scheme of things, better than surrendering and strengthening the enemy.

Sir Craig did what was, to him, undoubtedly the right thing, all his years of service and significant salary did not come with a payback clause, or if they did, it was binding in honour only. He did not breach health and safety law for himself or his companions.

Sir Craig did not take the substantive job of Commissioner, that went to the officer who managed the hunt for a terrorist that turned into the shooting of an innocent Brazilian electrician. This was found to be a crime, in terms of a breach of Health and Safety, but this was no bar to getting the top job, after all, it was a corporate failing, not anything that anyone was to be held responsible for.

Of course, in WW1, we had epic failures on land and sea that seemed to go unpunished. It’s just that these days, it seems almost to be too much to expect leadership by example from our public ‘servants’. What sort of descent has it been for the UK, when the Queen’s first Prime Minister was Churchill, and now it is May, with Corbyn waiting in the wings? Has this pattern set, or followed, the trend? If this trend is irreversible, surely the only answer is that this is yet another reason to reduce the public sector.

Film Review – Hurricane

Hurricane opened recently, I went to see it with the Sage of Kettering. The film tells the story of the Polish 303 Squadron in the Battle of Britain. The film starts with Polish pilots working their way to England in the chaos of falling France. One pilot, with some Swiss ancestry, pretends to be a Swiss Swiss watch salesman, another steals a biplane from a French airforce aerodrome, a fine Czech pilot is also in the Squadron. They end up at RAF Northolt, sharing the base with a plotting station and hence a large number of WAAF personnel, with predictable consequences.

The Poles appear to be a ramshackle lot, lacking the discipline and bearing that the RAF expects. A Canadian officer is given the apparently thankless task of knocking them into what the RAF would recognise as ‘shape’, the pilots (many very experienced and some aces) are frustrated as they are kept back from action whilst they learn English and how to manage their fine steeds. There is some humour as a truculent Warrant Officer is brilliantly mis-translated by one of the pilots as he barks to his colleagues.

It should be said that whilst the Hurricane, Sir Sydney Camm’s wonderful, chubby little puncher is the nominal star of the film, with it featuring in all the fighting and airfield scenes, it hardly gets any mentions, except a passing comment that a pilot thinks it is wonderful. They start off with training flights and escorting Blenheim bombers (There is still one flying in the UK, for what those guys went through, here is a 1989 documentary). Some of the Polish pilots are sent off to bombers, despite their experience. From what I have read, at the time, RAF training didn’t include simulating combat or even gun firing for some pilots. The Poles harmonise their guns at around 150 yards, because they like to get close before firing.

After a bit of indisciplined flying (breaking mission orders by going to attack German aircraft), the squadron is declared operational and success starts to come, one pilot has the foresight to make a rudimentary chapel in an old hut. News of their success spreads, Air Chief Marshal Dowding and Sir Keith Park discuss the squadron and are pleased with it (there are no politicians in this film). They are not introduced, and the actor playing Dowding looks a bit more like Park than he does Dowding imho, but you eventually find out who they are).

The Poles have a constant awareness of the horrors being visited on their homeland, going to the Polish government-in-exile offices for invariably bad news of relatives executed, which the film shows in grim ‘flashback’, one shot by firing squad, another NKVD-style, another hanged. The contrast with the attitude of the British, who seem to regard the war almost as an unpleasantness is brought out with a trip to the Dorchester where Society ladies treat the pilots to a reception in their honour, which turns out to be an awkward occasion. A press visit to the Squadron ends with one reporter getting punched for ghoulishness. The generally good publicity leads Dowding to hope out loud that it might induce friendly volunteer pilots from overseas to turn up and help. Relations with the Poles and British crews aren’t good at the start, but they improve. May I digress? There is a little bit of a sub-plot with a passing incident of ‘domestic violence’ towards a WAAF, which may explain why there was an advert in the trailers for Women’s Aid, which to me gave the misleading impression that only men commit domestic violence, the man in the trailer hits the woman, but he vapes rather than smokes, you can’t show really bad things you know. In the film, everyone seems to smoke, well, not when refuelling.

The film suffers a bit in the depiction of aerial combat, the CGI has an old video game feel to it at times, and we appear to be seeing the same scenes over and over again. As the film goes on, they start to take casualties, some get horribly burned, some crack up and can’t get themselves to kill Germans. The film does not pretty-fy the war, it does get across the burning hatred that the pilots had for those who had destroyed their homeland. At one point, a British officer says that they will be back in Warsaw soon, and the Sage and I muttered ‘1989’ and ‘1990’.

The film skips forward to the end of the War once the Battle of Britain concludes, the characters not apparently any older 5 years on, and the Poles are excluded from Victory Parade, and they are fully aware of what Stalin is doing to Poland, and they are told that they are to be booted out and sent home, one of the Attlee government’s choicer crimes, but it turned out that many were allowed to stay or emigrate to a third country. Some of the pilots are seen in Civvy Street, one a newspaper vendor (apparently people used to buy newspapers). It cites an opinion poll stating that 56% of the British population wanted the Poles to be sent back to Stalin’s new Poland.

The film is a great tribute to those fine men and their ground crews and it’s well worth seeing if you get the chance. It’s better than Dunkirk, with its wet Bank Holiday at the seaside feel, if not as tense as Darkest Hour.

And we saw the film in Corby, after a fine carvery in Rockingham. Corby is perhaps a strong contender for the most soulless town in Britain, a riot of 1960s and newer architecture, complete with its own ‘mass hero’, the Steelworker. We go there, so you don’t have to. It does however, name a square for James Ashworth VC.

“I’ve long said that capitalism without bankruptcy is like Christianity without Hell.”

A quote attributed to USAF Colonel Frank Borman, the oldest living astronaut, businessman, one of the first men to orbit the Moon. He sounds like a splendid chap. This ‘b’ word is of course, is anathema to many in the political elite, as RBS limps on after a decade of State support, and many of the forecasting errors of a decade ago remain unliquidated. As others have noted, just as when a tree falls the light let in through the canopy allows new blooms.

But coming back to our hero, he has recently given an interview on his impressions of his time as an astronaut. He seems to be have set a high bar to be impressed.

“When asked if it was ‘cool’ to fly around weightless, Colonel Borman replied: ‘No.’

He said it was interesting to watch ‘maybe for the first 30 seconds, then it became accepted.’

And Colonel Borman denied ever saying he thought a poet should have been on board.

He said: ‘No, I didn’t- if I did, I didn’t- the last thing I would have wanted on our crew was a poet.’

Mr Cassius Clay, you were not the Greatest. As for the Moon:

He described the Moon as ‘devastation’ and said it was: ‘Meteor craters, no color at all. Just different shades of gray.’

And Colonel Borman revealed he had no desire to step foot on the Moon, as Buzz Aldrin did seven months later.

He said: ‘I would have not accepted the risk involved to go pick up rocks. It doesn’t mean that much to me.’

‘Somebody else wanted to do it. Let them take my place. I love my family more than anything in the world.’

Well, perhaps NASA could ask him to compare the Moon with Detroit?

As he said, he loved his family.

‘The dearest things in life that were back on the Earth- my family, my wife, my parents.’

‘They were still alive then. That was, for me, the high point of the flight from an emotional standpoint.’

‘The dearest things in life that were back on the Earth- my family, my wife, my parents.’

‘They were still alive then. That was, for me, the high point of the flight from an emotional standpoint.’

And the mission itself?

Lovell was mesmerized by space and exploration, and wanted desperately to explore the moon. I was there because it was a battle in the Cold War.

‘I wanted to participate in this American adventure of beating the Soviets. But that’s the only thing that motivated me- beat the damn Russians.’

Would he run in 2020?

An astonishingly ignorant Cabinet Minister?

Mrs May’s Northern Ireland Secretary, The Rt. Hon. Karen Bradley MP, has given a candid interview in which she volunteered her (to some astounding) ignorance of Northern Ireland when she took the job of Northern Ireland Secretary in January this year.

Ms Bradley said she was surprised by the politics of the region upon her appointment.

“I freely admit that when I started this job, I didn’t understand some of the deep-seated and deep-rooted issues that there are in Northern Ireland,” she said.

“I didn’t understand things like when elections are fought for example in Northern Ireland – people who are nationalists don’t vote for unionist parties and vice-versa.

“So, the parties fight for the election within their own community. Actually, the unionist parties fight the elections against each other in unionist communities and nationalists in nationalist communities.

I do wonder what sort of conversation and with whom led to the penny dropping…

The post of Northern Ireland Secretary, whose function is to act more or less like a colonial governor eager to let the natives manage themselves, is one that has, in my imagination, been given by the Prime Minister to an MP who is (a) tough enough to face up to the job and (b) disposable enough for the Prime Minister to miss the least from those in category (a) should the assassins strike. Nowadays, (b) is less of a concern.

A brief bio, Ms Bradley appears to be 48, a Maths graduate, an MP since 2010 and a former tax manager (whatever that is), a former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (in the UK, not in East Germany) and a Remainer. Per the article, by 1979, aged 9, politics were an issue in her household, and she has long known that there was terrorism in Northern Ireland.

Of course, who people vote for in Northern Ireland is determined, in every case, by the decisions of the individuals concerned, just like anywhere else, well unless they are dead Democrats, or North Koreans etc. But it seems a fair assessment of the situation that members of one community won’t vote for candidates from parties representing the other (although in some areas, tactical voting for the least bad major candidate might be a good idea).

What astounds me about this MP’s revelation is not that she made it, there’s no reason why the odd frank politician might not make it, but rather that she has spent over 2 years in the Cabinet of Her Britannic Majesty’s government without her ignorance coming to light. Frankly, I would have expected to find this sort of ignorance about Northern Ireland in a farmer in Bhutan, not an MP for 8 years in the Conservative and Unionist Party. I would expect most socialists to be positively and wilfully mis-informed about Northern Ireland.

But someone politically active might have noticed, in no particular order, the Hunger Strikes, the Warrington bomb, the IRA mortar attack on Downing Street, the Marching Season issue, and thought “What is this all about?“.

To me this situation begs (edit: poses) a number of questions:

1.How do you go through life in the UK, with an interest in politics, without finding out anything, anything at all, about the fundamentals in one part of the UK, where the news has, for decades, been mostly about violence and terror? Is it that a Comprehensive education positively blocks the mind from seeking explanations or causes?

2. Does it matter if a politician knows nothing at all, about the area they ‘manage’? Is such a politician in a position to judge when being played by their civil servants or others, like a fiddle?

3. How do you become an MP and Cabinet Minister without anyone rumbling your ignorance?

4. How many more MPs are there out there with this sort of perspective? (And can we honestly expect any principled opposition to government from our MPs?)

I would of course, contrast this ignorance to the cultivated ignorance of the British official in colonial Hong Kong who said that he had no need of statistics to tell him how many people lived in any particular area; he knew such information would be used for statist mischief.

On a positive note, the good Secretary of State has cut spending ever so slightly.

Earlier today Ms Bradley announced that members of the legislative assembly in Northern Ireland would have their pay cut from £49,500 to £35,888 and then by a further £6,187 amid an ongoing stalemate at Stormont.

This is after them doing no work at Stormont for over 18 months.

The UK imitates Red China’s ‘Social Credit’ with the ‘Honours’ system

Red China has, like the mature totalitarian society that it is, a system of ‘Social Credit‘, as Wikipedia puts it neatly:

The system is a form of mass surveillance which uses big data analysis technology.

The excellent YT channel, China Uncensored, has a video on this system.

Of course, the UK has nothing like this yet, everything with the State is a little bit feeble and almost useless, for now. But a little chink in the armour of our free society has appeared. The UK ‘Honours System’, we now know, depends on you not being in the ‘bad books’ of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (which combines the Inland Revenue – personal and corporate taxation, with Customs and Excise). Note that it is not that you have to commit a criminal offence or even a civil transgression with your taxes, it is enough that you be under suspicion of avoiding paying tax lawfully.

HM Revenue and Customs’ reported policy of advising against giving honours to tax-avoiding celebrities has been backed by Sir Vince Cable.
Celebrities who use lawful but controversial schemes are being “blacklisted” to protect the reputation of the honours list, says the Times.
A Freedom of Information request showed a traffic light system was used to identify an individual’s suitability.
The Liberal Democrat leader said HMRC’s tough stance was perfectly reasonable.
“The principle is right, I think the public is fed up with abusive tax avoidance by individuals and companies,” Sir Vince told the BBC.
He said: “It seems perfectly reasonable to me that the Inland Revenue should be taking a tough line on tax avoidance.”
Sir Vince, a former business secretary, added that some celebrities may “wonder why they’ve been caught up in it” as they may be unaware they have been involved in “aggressive tax avoidance” because accountants handle their affairs.

And how does this work?

HMRC analyses nominees for honours to check the risk of them being exposed over their tax affairs.
The FOI response revealed that people are categorised as green if they are low risk, amber for medium risk and red for high risk.

My first objection to this is that ‘Honours’ don’t exist, except as bits of ribbon, metal and enamel etc. There is the ludicrous fantasy that the Sovereign can spot ‘worthy’ individuals and somehow bestow ‘honours’ on them. What happens is, of course, that some people write someone’s name on a list, hand over a bit of painted metal and a ribbon and that person becomes honoured. If there is a scientific test that can tell me how someone changes when they receive an ‘honour’, and that this is not a voluntaristic fantasy, I’d be happy to hear about it.

My second objection to this is that is the law of England (and indeed the UK) that no one is obliged to pay more tax than that properly due. Unless I am very much mistaken, this is the law of the land still (edit See Mary C’s helpful comment); the case of The Commissioners of Inland Revenue v The Duke of Westminster established, in 1935, under George V, the following from Lord Tomlin’s speech in the majority:

Apart, however, from the question of contract with which I have dealt, it is said that in revenue cases there is a doctrine that the Court may ignore the legal position and regard what is called “the substance of the matter,” and that here the substance of the matter is that the annuitant was serving the Duke for something equal to his former salary or wages, and that therefore, while he is so serving, the annuity must be treated as salary or wages. This supposed doctrine (upon which the Commissioners apparently acted) seems to rest for its support upon a misunderstanding of language used in some earlier cases. The sooner this misunderstanding is dispelled, and the supposed doctrine given its quietus, the better it will be for all concerned, for the doctrine seems to involve substituting “the incertain and crooked cord of discretion” for “the golden and streight metwand of the law.” 4 Inst 41 Every man is entitled if he can to order his affairs so as that the tax attaching under the appropriate Acts is less than it otherwise would be. If he succeeds in ordering them so as to secure this result, then, however unappreciative the Commissioners of Inland Revenue or his fellow taxpayers may be of his ingenuity, he cannot be compelled to pay an increased tax. This so-called doctrine of “the substance” seems to me to be nothing more than an attempt to make a man pay notwithstanding that he has so ordered his affairs that the amount of tax sought from him is not legally claimable.

So even if you pay all taxes properly due under the law, you (or your accountant) might have been too clever by half, and you might have kept some of your own money, how is that wrong? I’m sorry, but I thought that King John no longer reigned. After all, if people pay more tax than they are due as a condition of getting an honour, isn’t that paying for them? Wasn’t Maundy Gregory put in jail for that?

My third objection to this is that an individual’s tax affairs are private, here is the declaration that Revenue Officers and Inspectors are required to make on taking up their positions:

Part III
Inspectors, Collectors and other Officers

” I, A.B., do solemnly declare that I will not disclose any information received by me in the execution of the duties which may from time to time be assigned to me by the Board of Inland Revenue except for the purposes of my duties, or to the Board of Inland Revenue or in accordance with their instructions, or for the purposes of any prosecution for an offence relating to inland revenue, or in such other cases as may be required by law.”

I fail to see how giving a nudge or a wink about someone’s affairs can be reconciled with this requirement, especially when it’s about them having followed the law all and having been smarter than the politicians and tax bureaucrats.

It has long been the case that the rule of law has died in this country, and some of our politicians have even boasted about it.

Isn’t it time to stick a fork in the ludicrous Honours system, and stop pretending? Most are not even decided on by the Queen, but by bureaucrats, at your expense. Even better, stick a fork in our tax system and acknowledge that paying as little tax as possible the honourable thing to do.

A brash, native New Yorker commits the most heinous of crimes, refusing to apologise

The man is a politician known for his implausible hair, and has certainly made some outrageous remarks about a certain foreign politician, which was no bar to high office. I refer of course to the (part-Turkish) Right Honourable Boris Johnson MP. He has made, in passing, remarks against a burka ban, with, I’m told, an allusion to it making the wearer resemble a letter box. His Party Chairman called on him to apologise, but, so far, he has not done so.

He is also, we hear, accused of breaching the Conservative Party’s Code of Conduct:

lead by example to encourage and foster respect and tolerance;

So give him some respect and tolerate his use of language. Is he not fostering tolerance by showing the Conservative Party’s leadership up for the intolerant, virtue-signalling, Lib Dem prigs that they are?

not use their position to bully, abuse, victimise, harass or unlawfully discriminate against others (see further the interpretation annex);

He wrote a newspaper article, whilst an MP, but not as an MP.

The annex to the Code defines discrimination etc.

Discrimination includes victimising or harassing any other person because of race (including colour, ethnic or national origin, nationality, citizenship), sex, gender re-assignment, sexual orientation, marital or civil partnership status, disability, age, religion or belief [which should be interpreted as fully adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism], pregnancy and maternity status.

Harassment is any unwanted physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct that has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive situation or environment for them. A single incident can amount to harassment. Harassment may involve conduct of a sexual nature (sexual harassment), or it may be related to age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partner status, pregnancy or maternity, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation. Harassment is unacceptable even if it does not fall within any of these categories. Victimisation provisions protect certain individuals who do (or might do) acts such as bringing discrimination claims, complaining about harassment, or getting involved in some way with another complaint (such as giving evidence).

Victimisation may therefore occur where a person subjects another person to a detriment because either that person has acted in such a way and/or is believed to have acted in such a way, or may act in such a way.

Bullying is offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour involving the misuse of power that can make a person feel vulnerable, upset, humiliated, undermined or threatened. Power does not always mean being in a position of authority, but can include both personal strength, influence and the power to coerce through fear or intimidation. Bullying can take the form of physical, verbal and non-verbal conduct.

It seems to me that an actual person is required to be on the receiving end here, and although Mr Johnson’s article is behind a paywall at the Telegraph, I don’t think it would have mentioned any particular person as being the ringer for a letter box.

So the case against him is crock. He is of course, a ‘renegade’ having resigned over Mrs May’s Munich, and a possible threat to the FFC. And whatever the ‘crime’ is , the one thing that is expected by the media and, it seems, most of the political class, is the ritual apology for ‘offence’ found. If he can hold out, he will show himself to have considerable political courage, just what is needed these days.

And if he can face down the PC-boo-hiss crowd and sit out the storm, the curtain hiding the impotent media/politico Wizard of Oz may start to fall, and truth may flourish, like flowers in a woodland glade, just cleared by a storm.

There never was a man so hated, as he who told the truth.

Is it time for Parliament to dust off impeachment?

Our friends in the rebellious Colonies have the still active remedy of impeachment for those in office who, one might say, go off the rails, and other remedies as well. In the UK, impeachment is now considered ‘obsolete’ as a means of removing Crown officials, but ‘obsolete’ does not mean ‘defunct’:

As a House of Commons Paper puts it (in the link at the bottom to the pdf.):

It was a medieval means of removing the protection given to a royal servant whom the Commons found objectionable but could not otherwise persuade the Crown to dismiss.

Of course, different parts of the Commons may find the current First Lord of the Treasury ‘objectionable’ for widely varying reasons, either that she is not an avowed openly Marxist destroyer, or that she is simply a ‘Tory’, or that she is far from satisfactory in terms of her integrity.

But we appear for now to be in a situation where neither a vote of no confidence in the House of Commons on Mrs May’s government, nor a vote in her Party via the 1922 Committee in her as a leader, appear to be imminent or practicable.

As the Commons briefing paper notes:

No Prime Minister has ever been impeached. Ministers have been impeached, but those instances occurred before the modern concept of the Cabinet was established.

The first edition of Erskine May, published in 1844, describes impeachment as: “the commons, as a great representative inquest of the nation, first find the crime and then, as prosecutors, support their charge before the lords; while the lords exercising at once the functions of a high court of justice and of a jury, try and also adjudicate upon the charge preferred”.

Let us look at some of the criticisms of impeachment:

Impeachment operated in an era when Parliament and the courts had very limited oversight of government power. Different mechanisms have developed in modern politics to allow for the scrutiny of the executive. These include parliamentary questions, inquiries by select committees and independent committees of inquiry. The growth of the doctrine of collective cabinet responsibility, and the use of confidence motions have both contributed to the disuse of impeachments in modern times. Judicial review also now provides an effective check on the legality of the actions of public officials and government ministers. The impeachment process, last attempted in 1806, has not been revised to reflect the fundamental changes that have occurred in Parliament.

What use is a Parliamentary Question when the Prime Minister has misled the House and the Country for over 2 years? Who would trust an answer now?

Select Committees? All very well for getting some MPs to look at something in-depth, but when there is a cowpat in the Ballroom of State, the answer is steaming away in front of you for you and all your guests to see.

Collective Cabinet responsibility? The Cabinet largely remains in place, happy for this farce to carry on. They are not acting responsibly.

Confidence motions? As noted, there is a confidence motion procedure for the government, which due to the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act now has a cooling-off period, and it is not the government that is the major problem (although it is a big problem generally), but the leader of it.

Party confidence motions are internal matters, nothing to do with Parliament.

Judicial review: Sir Edward Coke left the Bench long ago. Judicial Review is not applicable to this sort of situation.

The beauty of impeaching the Prime Minister would be:

1. It would enjoy cross-party support, helping to ‘heal the wounds’ caused by the contentious issues we face 😉 .

2. It would leave the current Parliamentary composition intact. After all, it is removing a Crown Servant, not a Member of the House. Mrs May would remain an MP.

3. It would leave Mrs May as the unelected Leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party, and put her in the same situation as another notorious appeaser, Neville Chamberlain as leader of the Party and an MP but not Prime Minister. Not quite following the Joseph Chamberlain that she aspires to emulate, but as close as we can manage for now.

4. It would revive the prestige of Parliament, at a time when Mrs Battenberg’s presumed function of ‘to advise, encourage and to warn’ appears to be obsolete. After all, it has recently (in Constitutional timeframes) been used in the United States, an offspring jurisdiction of England, so why should it be ‘obsolete’? We may have reached the lacuna where the remedy has some use.

5. It would (or should) save us paying Mrs May a Prime Ministerial pension later on in a richly-deserved retirement. That will help to reduce our ballooning public sector pensions liabilities.

6 It would cement Mrs May’s place in history, whether or not the Lords were to convict.

A Lusitanian* adventure

Last month, the Sage of Kettering and I went on another trip, this time to England’s oldest ally, Portugal. *It involved brief excursions into Spain over a raia (‘the stripe’ as it is called), one of Europe’s oldest borders, almost unchanged but still disputed many centuries after delineation in 1297, so it was an Iberian adventure. We focused on the north of Portugal, and then Lisbon.

We flew to Porto, with the least user-friendly tram system I have yet used, and made our way up north by noisy Diesel train through pleasant farmland, brushing the Atlantic coast on the way to our first stage, the fine fortress town of Valença on the Minho river, which here forms the border with Spain. Valença has a striking fortress citadel as its old town, with many layers of defences. The scale of the walls can be judged by the horses in the pictures. A drone video of the fortress, a 17th Century construction on an older 13th Century construction, is here.

→ Continue reading: A Lusitanian* adventure

Mrs May’s ‘Brexit’ means ‘Anschluss’, if what Lawyers for Britain are saying is correct.

The good folk at Lawyers for Britain, (all donations welcome) led by Martin Howe QC, a nephew of Sir Geoffrey but we probably all have embarrassing uncles somewhere, have done a thorough preliminary analysis of Mrs May (the FFC)’s recent ‘Chequers’ Brexit proposals, the Chequers proposals are here. My summary (not Lawyers for Britain’s) is that, like Austria relegated to becoming the ‘Ostmark’ in 1938 in the Anschluss, it is more like becoming a Nazgûl in thrall to the Dark Lord than any form of independence. At least the Anschluss of 1938 was a blatant take-over, when this is meant to be independence.

Here are some key points, square brackets my addition:

the UK would be obliged to interpret these rules [for goods and agri-foods] in accordance with rulings of the ECJ under a system which would (whether directly or indirectly) bind UK courts to follow ECJ rulings. In areas where rules relating to goods are applied in a discretionary way under the control of EU regulatory bodies, it is inevitable that the application of the rules in the UK and UK regulatory bodies would continue to be bound by the decisions of EU bodies in the same way as if the UK were still a member state but without a vote or voice within those institutions. This would amount to a permanent vassal relationship in the area covered by the ‘common’ rulebook.

On changing our laws post-independence:

There is no indication in the text of the statement that the UK would have any ability to change any of the existing body of EU laws, however damaging they may be or become in the future – for example where restrictive EU laws block the development or deployment of new technology, such as in the biotech area where the UK has a huge opportunity to develop its leading industry and to sell its expertise and products around the world. In order supposedly to benefit the 12% of our economy which consists of exports to the EU, we would accept a binding obligation to freeze the laws which cover 100% of our economy consisting of domestic production and also imports from third countries

And this means of course, implementing EU law or face the consequences. “Fax Democracy” as it is called, yet so in effect independence is being transformed into loss of (pretty worthless) EU voting rights.

We also could not offer to recognise other countries’ systems for, e.g. food or drug safety, if importing from them, we’d have to apply EU rules to such products.

And of course, Mrs May commits us to maintain EU regulation, regardless of absurdity or impact, and perhaps letting the ECJ have the final say in UK law, a so-called ‘red line’.

Of even more concern is that the UK would agree “to maintain high regulatory standards for the environment, climate change, social and employment, and consumer protection – meaning we would not let standards fall below the current levels.” (Emphasis added). The problem with this is not a general requirement to maintain high standards, which we would want to do anyway, but the commitment not to let standards in these areas “fall below” current levels. Any changes to our rules in these areas which improve the competitiveness of UK industry would almost certainly be interpreted by the EU as allowing our standards to “fall below” current standards. This commitment is therefore an extremely dangerous one to undertake, particularly if it were linked to a binding enforcement mechanism and even more so if that binding mechanism ultimately becomes the ECJ

And for interpreting agreements, Mrs May puts us on a par with Moldova (but they generally have better wine).

Para 4(c): “consistent interpretation and application of UK-EU agreements” – putting the UK on a par with Moldova
12. This paragraph first states that the interpretation and application of UK- EU agreements would be done “in the UK by UK courts, and in the EU by EU courts.” This is what one would expect with any treaty arrangement.

But this comes with a grave note of caution:

13. However, it is important that this process should be mutually balanced (i.e that the ECJ and Member State courts should pay just as much attention to judgments of UK courts as vice versa), and absolutely essential that it be non-binding. Para 4(c) indicates that “due regard” will be paid to EU case law in “common rulebook” areas. This lacks mutuality – there is no suggestion that EU courts should pay “due regard” to UK courts, immediately unbalancing the relationship and placing UK courts in an inferior position.

Note that I am only summarising this piece, but it does look as if the Chequers document is either deluded or dishonest as to the extent to which the UK will have independence under this deal, which is, imposing on an independent country, a subordination to a foreign bureaucracy, without any mandate for taking such a step whatsoever. There is no mandate for any deal with the EU to make the UK subordinate to it, there is only a mandate for independence from the EU.

And finally, on the FCA ‘Facilitated Customs Arrangement’ for UK-EU trade (‘FCA’ – pronounced ‘FuCA’, rhymes with ‘Theresa’).

Para 4(d): “Facilitated Customs Arrangement”
22. This paragraph is very difficult to understand in the absence of any detail. However, the first and most obvious and indeed important point is that the attempted introduction of the “FCA” would cause significant delay before the UK can leave the EU customs union and choose to set its own tariffs, whether by unilaterally changing them or abolishing them against free trade partners. We are now already over two years after the referendum. It beggars belief that it should be contemplated that administrative issues about customs processes could be allowed to dictate the whole trading future of the UK by preventing us from implementing tariff changes even after the end of the implementation period (31 Dec 2020 – 41⁄2 years after the referendum). Yet this seems to be the message of this paragraph. This would be severely damaging to the political prospects of the government and of the Conservative Party, since it would remove the chance of giving tangible benefits of Brexit before the next general election to low income families by removing or lowering tariffs on goods, particularly those where the UK has no or limited producer interests to protect.

Quite.

Culture ‘War’ – in the Lebanon – Mayor hires ‘sexy’ police officers

News reaches us, via the BBC, of a small-town Mayor in the Lebanese town of Broummana, where the Mayor has hired traffic police, who appear to be only young women in shorts. This seems to have gone down fairly well, but not all are happy, as one vox pop showed. Some of the quotes ‘It’s a free country‘, ‘Everything is allowed in Lebanon, why not?‘ do make me wonder. Closer examination suggests that this is a marketing stunt involving hiring University students. And the blatant discrimination against men would not be allowed anywhere in the EU.

As the Mayor said ‘Do you want them ugly?.

Now, we are not told if this is a Christian locality, but the Wiki page above suggests that it is predominantly Christian.The BBC found one woman who objected, but didn’t want to show her face, and she had covered her legs. I feel her pain.

Everything is allowed in the Lebanon, why not?‘. You can’t imagine a British politician saying something like that any time soon. You can almost hear the feminist cogs turning, thinking of air strikes.

The Prince of Prosperity and Secession

Here is a fascinating YT documentary on Liechtenstein, that remote Elysium high on the young Rhine, with a long interview with the Prince himself, starting just before 6 minutes in, and running mostly to the end, in all 38 minutes. Some fascinating commentary from him on his policies and his country’s history, including the slightly farcical Nazi ‘March on Vaduz’ of 1938. Having started as a ‘rotten borough’ in the Holy Roman Empire, the first Prince to live there moved in as late as 1938. He is a fan of being in the EEA, unlike the Swiss, but he got it through via direct democracy. Every village has the right to leave the nation. He found inspiration for local democracy from Switzerland and the United States (at the State level one can infer).

They have a system where 11 municipalities (villages) engage in tax and regulatory competition with each other. He says that he is trying to make government work. (He’s not done badly). He wants them to deliver services with low cost and therefore low taxation.

Are you listening Mrs May, or are you changing your slogan to ‘Brexit means Anschluß’?

There is direct democracy, where you have to explain your policies. That actually means that people discuss government proposals and it provides stability despite the low threshold for proposing changes. He also has his royal veto power, last used in 1961 for a hunting law. The only law he can’t veto would be the abolition of the monarchy. Some less ‘royalist’ politicians note with almost heart-breaking sadness in their faces that by popular vote, the royal veto was retained, so they cannot prevail.

“…One kept taxation as low as possible so as to attract business…”

He asks why should taxes support banks. He notes that people are getting detached from governments, and states can get over-centralised.

GDP per capita: $139,000 (USA $59,000).

Of course, the people and what they do are what make Liechtenstein what it is. By God, it looks like a decent place.

‘It’s not illegal, but we must find a way to stop it’.

Is a fair summary of the antics of a bunch of Cornish bureaucrats in Padstow, (a harbour and tourist attraction on Cornwall’s north coast) supported by the local MP Scott Mann, in a battle against street traders, who are within the law. And we have that bureaucrats favourite concept, a ‘multi-agency approach’, (which I first heard in the early 1990s), with the following wastes of public money involved: Cornwall Council, Devon & Cornwall Police, Padstow Town Council, Padstow Harbour Commissioners (the Harbour is established by law with government oversight).

Scott Mann discusses Padstow street trader complaints with multi-agency group

It is rather concerning that the local Police are getting involved in a matter that is not illegal, street trading by selling services is not, well, according to Cornwall Council’s legal advice.

Following a number of complaints in 2017 regarding hair braiders and henna tattooists providing services on the quay at Padstow, partners have been working together to consider options for controlling these traders. In recent meetings, each agency or representative has discussed the concerns being brought to their attention by local residents and businesses, what solutions may or may not be available to them, and what options there are going forward.

Independent legal advice has been obtained by Cornwall Council which confirms that the provision of services does not fall within the definition of street trading as prescribed under the relevant legislation.

Or as the bureaucrats find to their evident dismay.

The current street trading legislation under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 creates a loophole whereby people deemed to be providing a service are exempt from having to obtain a street trading licence or adhere to street trading regulations. In practice, this means individuals who are sat around the harbour braiding hair or applying henna tattoos do not have to obtain a licence because they are deemed to be providing a service, rather than selling tangible objects such as toys, clothes, jewellery or food.

Yes, Parliament never regulated this, so why don’t you all eff off back to your desks, submit your resignations, and ask for your jobs not to be replaced? It’s freedom that upsets you, isn’t it? No one is getting their hair braided without consent, no one is getting tattooed by force, just don’t buy it. There is no trespass, no obstruction, no nuisance, no wrong done, it’s just something that you can’t (yet) licence. A chink of light through the curtain of licensing darkness. It is not a loophole, it is simply not banned. A loophole would be making it legal to sell goods on the street without a licence only if you wore a red hat.

It is for Parliament to propose changes in the law, not bureaucrats, who are paid to do their jobs, and Councillors are, really, paid bureaucrats. Let the public pester the MP, and let him propose what he might, so that her Majesty, with the Advice of the Commons and the Lords Temporal and Spiritual, may so enact if it please her. To be fair to him, this appears to be what he has in mind. It is a symptom of the political culture in Britain, even far from London, that this is something for bureaucrats to fret about, all mask of neutrality has fallen here.

The attitude of the police officer involved is particularly dismaying:

Sgt Andy Stewart said:

“The Police are actively working with other agencies in an attempt to resolve the issues being caused to some people by the street traders. A balanced approached will be maintained, and it is important that each case is considered individually and there is ongoing monitoring of any changing circumstances.”

Why didn’t he say something like:

‘No offences are being committed, this is as lawful as breathing, it’s got nothing to do with me, stop wasting my time. I’m going to look for some hate speech on Twitter instead to boost my stats.

OK, the last sentence is perhaps a little unkind.