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]

Discussion point: the Brexit deal

Brexit: ‘Breakthrough’ deal paves way for future trade talks

In the spirit of 1066 And All That, is this a Good Thing or a Bad Thing?

N.B. Do not attempt to answer more than one question at a time. (An exception may be made for the Irish Question.)

This is why we can’t have nice things

To be precise this is why we can’t have politicians who try to explain concepts from economics in a relatively grown up manner. When they give the more highminded strategy a go, along comes the Daily Mirror and the “pan-disability charity” Scope – whose Wikipedia entry is graced by one of those template messages saying, “This article contains content that is written like an advertisement” – to remind them why when attempting to discuss economics with the Great British Public the wiser course is to mindlessly repeat one pre-prepared soundbite. Daring to suggest that some groups might be on average be less productive than others, even in the context of saying that their participation in the labour force is a good thing, only brings on another mass bout of indignation dysentery. All one can do then is try not to breathe in too deeply until people have got it out of their system.

Quoth the Mirror:

Philip Hammond blames Britain’s low economic productivity on working disabled people

“The consequences of high levels of unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, will be felt for many, many years to come.

“It is almost certainly the case that by increasing participation in the workforce, including far higher levels of participation by marginal groups and very high levels of engagement in the workforce, for example of disabled people – something we should be extremely proud of – may have had an impact on overall productivity measurements.”

Quoth Scope:

Anna Bird, Director of Policy and Research at disability charity Scope, said: “These comments are totally unacceptable and derogatory. They fundamentally undermine the Government’s policy to get more disabled people into work, and the ambition set out by the Prime Minister just a week ago.

“The Chancellor must urgently withdraw them and offer a full apology.”

Quoth Mirror commenter “DiAne”:

Didn’t Hitler say something similar?

Never mind Damian Green, do you want the cops to have this power over you?

David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union has threatened to resign if Damian Green (the First Secretary of State, effectively Deputy Prime Minister) is sacked unfairly. Why, you may ask, is Davis – a Brexiteer – willing to put Theresa May’s already shaky government at risk for the sake of a Remainer like Green?

The Guardian link above explains it better than I can:

The Brexit secretary believes his cabinet colleague is the victim of a police vendetta and made it clear to Theresa May that he would be willing to leave the government if he felt Green had been unfairly treated.

The threat emerged only hours after a former Metropolitan police detective came forward with fresh claims implying that Green himself had been viewing pornography found on his workplace computer when police raided his Commons office in November 2008.

Green was a shadow Home Office minister at the time and was under investigation because he had received a series of sensitive Home Office leaks. He denies viewing pornography on his parliamentary computer.

At the time, the Conservatives were fighting some of the Labour government’s law and order measures on libertarian grounds and Davis was a strong backer of Green’s work.

Mark Wallace of Conservative Home writes,

Whether Green did what is alleged or not, the behaviour of the police in his case is appalling

Lewis is speaking out because he disapproves of what he claims he found. But on what authority is that his job, his responsibility, or his right? He gained access to that computer as a police officer, not as a self-appointed moral arbiter. The powers granted to police officers are given on the condition that they use them for specific purposes only. He was meant to be looking for evidence of crimes, not legal things which he could tut about. Separate to whether the Cabinet Office finds his or Green’s account to be true, is this really how we want former police officers to behave? If the police were to search your home or office or person, but fail to find evidence of any crime, is it acceptable that years down the line the officers involved could publicly embarrass you by claiming they found legal pornography, or anything else legal that they personally find morally icky? That’s an awful precedent, which would harm trust in the police and worry a lot of innocent people that private information might be being held over them. In a society under the rule of law we should all have a right to expect that the police do their job, but do not exploit their professional positions for personal grandstanding or moralising at a later date.

I took a look inside the College of Policing Code of Ethics: A Code of Practice for the Principles and Standards of Professional Behaviour for the Policing Profession of England and Wales.

Under “Standard of Professional Behaviour” section 3.1.7, “Confidentiality”, it said:

I will treat information with respect, and access or disclose it only in the proper course of my duties.

7.1
According to this standard you must:
• be familiar with and abide by the data protection principles described in the Data Protection Act 1998
• access police-held information for a legitimate or authorised policing purpose only
• not disclose information, on or off duty, to unauthorised recipients
• understand that by accessing personal data without authorisation you could be
committing a criminal offence, regardless of whether you then disclose that personal data.

Do we want to set the precedent that if in the course of a search a police officer finds evidence of behaviour that is legal but frowned upon they can make it public?

Exposing your children to peril: then and now

Children in peril! Save them!

Children in poor areas exposed to five times as many fast food takeaways,

reports the Guardian, not that you needed to be told that. (Fun fact: the Guardian‘s name was originally understood to mean “Guardian of our liberties”.)

Increasing numbers of fast food take­aways are springing up close to schools in England, with pupils in the most socially deprived areas exposed to five times as many outlets as their richest peers.

Data provided to the Guardian by Cambridge University’s Centre for Diet and Activity Research (Cedar) shows more than 400 schools across England have 20 or more fast food takeaways within a 400-metre radius, while a further 1,400 have between 10 and 19 outlets within the same distance.

Public health experts have warned that heavy exposure of children to fast food outlets and increased consumption of high-fat nutrient-poor food leads to greater risk of childhood obesity, as well as heart disease and stroke in later life.

Read it in conjunction with an essay by Lenore Skenazy and Jonathan Haidt that I found via Instapundit called “The Fragile Generation: Bad policy and paranoid parenting are making kids too safe to succeed”.

Having saved the children from the perils of walking to school and active play we are surprised that they are fat. In fact I suspect that half the appeal of fast food joints to schoolchildren is not the food per se; rather it is the chance to hang out with their friends and make minor decisions about what they want to do next without adults looming over them.

Naming no names for the present

The Telegraph reports that the inexorable progress of the Scottish National Party’s “Named Person” scheme has proved exorable after all. That’s two pieces of good news. One, with any luck its opponents will now be able to wear away at this horrible scheme until it falls apart. Two, there is such a word as “exorable”.

SNP ‘state guardian’ plan delayed for months after Holyrood committee withholds approval

The SNP’s controversial plans to assign every child a ‘state guardian’ have descended into chaos again after a cross-party Holyrood inquiry concluded that it could not recommend that MSPs give their approval.

The Scottish Parliament’s education committee said it was impossible to scrutinise how the Named Person scheme would work in practice until John Swinney, the SNP Education Minister, provides an “authoritative” code of practice for those filling the role.

In a move that threatens to delay its implementation by at least six months, its members said the code should reflect changes in data protection law being made by the UK Government in April or May next year.

Some things look better in hindsight

Back in March US Vice-President Mike Pence was mocked from all sides. According to Olga Khazan in the Atlantic:

In a recent, in-depth Washington Post profile of Karen Pence, Vice President Mike Pence’s wife, a small detail is drawing most of the attention: “In 2002, Mike Pence told The Hill that he never eats alone with a woman other than his wife and that he won’t attend events featuring alcohol without her by his side, either.”

The article went on to say that:

Pence is not the only powerful man in Washington who goes to great lengths to avoid the appearance of impropriety with the opposite sex. An anonymous survey of female Capitol Hill staffers conducted by National Journal in 2015 found that “several female aides reported that they have been barred from staffing their male bosses at evening events, driving alone with their congressman or senator, or even sitting down one-on-one in his office for fear that others would get the wrong impression.” One told the reporter Sarah Mimms that in 12 years working for her previous boss, he “never took a closed door meeting with me. … This made sensitive and strategic discussions extremely difficult.”

In conclusion, Ms Khazan argued that:

Without access to beneficial friendships and mentor relationships with executive men, women won’t be able to close the gender gap that exists in most professions.

I am not convinced that there is a gender gap, but that is a subject for another post. Ms Khazan made a fair point about mentoring, and her tone was reasonable. Ashley Csanady of Canada’s National Post, not so much:

Ashley Csanady: Mike Pence’s evangelical refusal to lunch with ladies is easy to mock. It’s also rape culture at work

At its core, Pence’s self-imposed ban is rape culture.

Nor is that a label I assign lightly. “Rape culture” is a phrase so overused it’s become almost meaningless, like calling someone a Nazi on the internet. But it has a very clear meaning: the notion, whether conscious or unconscious, that men can’t control themselves around women because “boys will be boys.”

The explicit reasons for Pence’s restriction are religion and family, but the implicit reason is that he must avoid alone-time with women lest his stringent religious moral code fall apart in the presence of a little lipstick and décolletage. That is rape culture.

Given that the list of men accused of sexual misconduct since Harvey Weinstein is growing like a beanstalk, and a great many of these men were loud in their scorn for the “puritanism” of Pence and all like him, Ms Csanady and a few others might like to re-evaluate their earlier remarks. I am not saying it is necessary to behave like Pence in order to avoid behaving like Weinstein. But it does seem that Ms Csanady might have been looking in the wrong place for rape culture.

To be given in marriage

What would be the point of a royal engagement without a Guardian article to miss it?

In celebration of the forthcoming nuptials of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Afua Hirsch writes,

Almost two decades ago, during the heady first months of the new millennium, an unruly baroness named Kate Gavron made a shocking suggestion. Prince Charles, she said, should have married someone black. It would be, she imagined, a powerful symbol of the monarchy’s commitment to racial integration and multiculturalism.

Gavron’s comments were not well received at the time. As is so often the case with race and the royals, far more interesting than these remarks themselves, were the media reactions to them. Some suspected this was merely a clandestine attempt at “getting rid” of the monarchy, erasing their heritage through interracial marriages. Not so much revolution, as racial dilution.

Others assumed that for the Prince of Wales to marry a “black girl” – as the hypothetical person was described – would be to return to the loveless, strategic marriages the royals were once so famous for. It was obvious to commentators at the time that marrying a black girl, and marrying someone you actually loved, were both antithetical and mutually exclusive. After all, you couldn’t expect an heir to the throne to actually be attracted to such a person.

Ever charitable, I had initially assumed that Ms Hirsch was too young to personally remember this furore, by which I actually mean briefly successful effort on the part of a few journalists to keep each other in work by pretending to be outraged at each other’s stories, and that was why she portrayed something that happened in the year 2000 as if it happened in the 1960s. But that cannot be the case. She was nineteen at the time it was published. Perhaps her observations were tinged with a wistful desire to re-enact the heroic days of the Civil Rights era. If so, perhaps I should be more charitable after all; seventeen years ago that sort of playacting was not less common than it is now but was more excusable.

Whatever. I too remember Baroness Gavron’s remarks and the reaction to them. The previous week a report had been released by the Runnymede Trust called The Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain. Lady Gavron was one of the authors. Unfortunately but inevitably the authors had received abusive hate mail from the sort of embittered nobodies who used to send hate mail to people they read about in the papers. (Nowadays we have Twitter for that.) But no, the reaction of the mainstream media to Lady Gavron’s remarks did not include talk of “racial dilution”. Note the absence of any names. All Ms Hirsch tells us is that “Some suspected” a clandestine attempt at getting rid of the monarchy through interracial marriages. Well, yeah, in a population of 56 million as it then was, some will suspect almost anything. But if a journalist on any publication other than National Front News had said any such thing they would have been out of a job the same day.

At this point the reader might be asking themselves why if it was all so trivial I am claiming to remember Lady Gavron’s remarks across seventeen years? To answer that let’s look again at this passage from Ms Hirsch’s article:

Others assumed that for the Prince of Wales to marry a “black girl” – as the hypothetical person was described – would be to return to the loveless, strategic marriages the royals were once so famous for. It was obvious to commentators at the time that marrying a black girl, and marrying someone you actually loved, were both antithetical and mutually exclusive.

As I remembered it the reason so many had assumed that Lady Gavron was advocating that Charles enter a loveless strategic marriage was not at all that they found the idea of a love match between two people of different race inconceivable. It was because Lady Gavron had advocated exactly that: a strategic royal marriage not for love but in order to send a message. Worse, she had said that it would have been “great” if Prince Charles had been told to marry someone for political reasons, with the assumption that once he had been given his orders on whom to marry he should obey them.

To be fair to her, Ms Hirsch does supply a link to a Telegraph article from October 2000 so that one can see Lady Gavron’s exact words. Here is the link again:

Prince Charles ‘should have married black woman’

THE Prince of Wales should have married a black woman as a symbol of his support for multi-cultural Britain, according to a member of the race relations think tank the Runnymede Trust.

Lady Gavron, vice-chairman of the commission that produced last week’s controversial report on the future of multi-ethnic Britain, said the Royal Family should take a lead in promoting racial integration.

“It would have been great if Prince Charles had been told to marry someone black. Imagine what message that would have sent out,” she said yesterday.

It wasn’t someone black, and it may not have been phrased as a command, but Charles probably was pretty much told who to marry, and for reasons to do with what “message” his marriage would send. It did not work out well. One ancient royal tradition that all should be glad to see extinct is that of marriage as a tool of policy.

Of course no one in their right minds would insert such a mad device as the monarchy if they were designing a nation from scratch. It is a historical relic. But history is a powerful force, and this nation is not being started from scratch. I hope and believe the monarchy does still have a role, so long as people can be found willing to play it. I hope the whole royal wedding shebang goes off well and a good time is had by all. If Ms Markle being mixed race makes more people feel included in the celebration, that’s great. More importantly I wish Harry and Meghan a long and loving life together.

Early Day Motion 392

From Hansard:

Early Day Motion 392

JOHN PILGER AND KOSOVO

Session: 2004-05
Date tabled: 14.12.2004
Primary sponsor: Smith, Llew
Sponsors:

That this House welcomes John Pilger’s column for the New Statesman issue of 13th December, reminding readers of the devastating human cost of the so-termed ‘humanitarian’ invasion of Kosovo, led by NATO and the United States in the Spring of 1999, without any sanction of the United Nations Security Council; congratulates John Pilger on his expose of the fraudulent justifications for intervening in a ‘genocide’ that never really existed in Kosovo; recalls President Clinton’s Secretary of Defense William Cohen claimed, entirely without foundation, that ‘we’ve now seen about 100,000 military-aged [Albanian] men missing…..they may have been murdered’ and that David Scheffer, the US ambassador-at-large for war crimes, announced with equal inaccuracy that as many as ‘225,000 ethnic Albanian men aged between 14 and 59’ may have been killed; recalls that the leader of a Spanish forensic team sent to Kosovo returned home, complaining angrily that he and his colleagues had become part of ‘a semantic pirouette by the war propaganda machines, because we did not find one mass grave’; further recalls that one year later, the International War Crimes Tribunal, a body de facto set up by NATO, announced that the final count of bodies found in Kosovo’s ‘mass graves’ was 2,788; believes the pollution impact of the bombing of Kosovo is still emerging, including the impact of the use of depleted uranium munitions; and calls on the Government to provide full assistance in the clean up of Kosovo.

(Emphasis added.)

Signatures include:

Name: Corbyn, Jeremy. Party: Labour Party. Constituency: Islington North. Date Signed: 15.12.2004.

Name: McDonnell, John. Party: Labour Party. Constituency: Hayes & Harlington. Date Signed:
15.12.2004.

From yesterday’s Guardian:

Ratko Mladić convicted of war crimes and genocide at UN tribunal

The former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladić, nicknamed the ‘butcher of Bosnia’, has been sentenced to life imprisonment after being convicted of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

More than 20 years after the Srebrenica massacre, Mladic was found guilty at the United Nations-backed international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague of 10 offences involving extermination, murder and persecution of civilian populations.

Edit: In the comments Jacob asks, “I was wondering what the massacre perpetrated by a Bosnian Serb in Bosnia had to do with Kosovo…” Fair point; in my efforts to make a Drudge-style snarky juxtaposition I failed to make the link clear. Given that we are talking about mass murders rather than day-to-day political point-scoring, I should have done so.

The link is that Mladic’s war crimes in Bosnia were part of the Yugoslav War(s), in which Slobodan Milosevic played a notorious role, which included egging on the Bosnian Serbs as well as his own crimes in Kosovo. The British Hard Left turned a blind eye to it all.

My intention was to point up how tawdry EDM 392, and by extension the whole business of soft-pedalling the crimes in former Yugoslavia, looks now in the light of yesterday’s conviction of Mladic.

Under socialism, the crows will not fly away

In the comments to my earlier post about the West Indies Federation, Bruce relayed something his schoolteacher once told him:

Question to the class:

There are ten crows sitting on a wire.

You shoot one. (This was back when guns, shooters and shooting had not been totally criminalized by the ruling-class sociopaths).

How many are left?

Nine?

That would be the answer expected from most kids.

Correct answer?

NONE!

Crows, unlike most of the lamestream media, academics and politicians, are NOT STUPID.

To which Niall Kilmartin replied:

Bruce (November 23, 2017 at 8:11 am), there is a socialist version of your ‘crows’ story.

At one of the glumly festive parties Stalin used to inflict on his politburo cronies, he told the story of how, while he was in exile in Siberia under Tsarism, he was out skiing and saw several crows perched on a branch. He shot a couple then skied back for more ammunition, returned and shot the rest. After he left the room, Beria said, “He’s lying” (understandably the others were cautious in responding, fearing a provocation). Conquest, in his biography of Stalin, charitably suggests the story may have been just a Siberian version of the old US Western “tall tale’, told for entertainment as a whopper not intended to be believed. It has also been suggested that the crows’ feet were frozen to the branch and Stalin for once in his life was telling the truth.

Whatever the truth of it, the moral is clear: under socialism, the crows will not fly away.

Far be it for me to say that our Shadow Chancellor is taking tips from Stalin, but that line did remind me of what I heard him saying on an audio clip posted last week by Guido Fawkes:

McDonnell now sure there won’t be a run on the pound.

John McDonnell has changed his tune from Labour conference […] Now he insists “there’s never going to be a run on the pound” and “of course” he isn’t planning capital controls if it happens. Only a few years ago McDonnell used to openly threaten the City with capital controls if they opposed his policies.

“One from ten leaves nought”

In writing this post I do not attempt to draw any particular moral, merely to share an episode of history I found out about by chance which has some incongruous parallels with the present day.

Quoting the Wikipedia article on the West Indies Federation:

Three member states were proposed as hosts for the capital city of the federation: Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. Earlier in the federal negotiations the general opinion had been that the capital should be one of the smaller islands so that the capital would be in a neutral position to the larger territories and it would be able to inject some buoyancy into one of the (then) poorer economies.

The West Indies Federation had an unusually weak federal structure. For instance, its provinces were not contained in a single customs union. Thus, each province functioned as a separate economy, complete with tariffs, largely because the smaller provinces were afraid of being overwhelmed by the large islands’ economies. Also, complete freedom of movement within the Federation was not implemented, as the larger provinces were worried about mass migration from the smaller islands. In this sense, the current European Union can be said to have implemented a more unified economic space than the West Indian attempt.

Nor could the federal government take its component states to task. The initial federal budget was quite small, limiting the federal government’s ability to use its financial largesse as a carrot. It was dependent upon grants from the United Kingdom and from its member states. The provincial budgets of Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago were both larger than the federal budget. This led to repeated requests for those states to provide greater financing to the federal government. These requests were not well received, as Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago together already contributed 85 percent of the federal revenue, in roughly equal portions.

For many Jamaicans it appeared that the Federation would then just hamper their development and movement towards independence.

As a result, the Bustamante-led Jamaica Labour Party (the local component of the West Indian DLP) successfully forced Manley to hold a referendum in September 1961 on political secession from the Federation. It passed, with 54% of the vote, despite the opposition of Manley, the province’s Chief Minister at the time.

On January 14, 1962, the People’s National Movement (the Williams-led Trinidad component of the WIFLP) passed a resolution rejecting any further involvement with the Federation. Williams himself stated that “one from ten leaves nought”—in other words, without Jamaica, no Federation was possible. Trinidad and Tobago became independent on August 31, 1962.

Without Trinidad and Jamaica, the remaining “Little Eight” attempted to salvage some form of a West Indian Federation, this time centred on Barbados. However, these negotiations ultimately proved fruitless. Without its two largest states, the Federation was doomed to financial insolvency.

We are so happy in Taxlandia

Via Andy Silvester and Guido Fawkes, I have discovered the hottest new thing. From the people who gave you EURODAME, HELP! comes…

Taxlandia!

Does tax build YOUR future? Try it and see!

No, it is not a wind-up. Although from the time it takes to load, you might think it was powered by clockwork.

Later: I set the age level to 9-12 and gave it a trial commensurate with my attention span. Honestly, compared to Eurodame, it ain’t bad. They acknowledge the existence of the Laffer curve, how’s that? Peaks at 50%. Maybe the rampaging kaiju came after I got bored and left.

You say that like it’s a bad thing, Mr Barnier

The Times tells us that a moment of decision approaches. “EU nations will block Brexit deal if Britain ditches Brussels regulations, warns Michel Barnier”:

National parliaments or regional assemblies across the European Union will block a future trade deal if Britain tears up Brussels regulations on competition, food safety, social standards or environmental protection, Michel Barnier warned today.

The EU was alarmed a fortnight ago when Liam Fox, the secretary of state for trade, hinted that after Brexit Britain would ditch regulations on health and the environment to secure new trading deals with countries such as the United States.

In a stark warning to Conservatives and Brexit supporters, Mr Barnier, the European chief negotiator on Brexit, warned that Britain’s choice between Donald Trump’s vision of a deregulated laissez-faire economy

Are we talking about the same Donald Trump here? Swanky hotels, reality TV, funny hair, President of the United States of America? ‘Cos that guy’s a protectionist. Like you.

or the “European model” of social and environmental protection will determine the shape of a final Brexit deal.

“The UK has chosen to leave the EU. Does it want to stay close to the European model or does it want to gradually move away from it?” he said at the Centre for European Reform in Brussels.

Any preference?