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]

You go, Jezza!

Apparently Jeremy Corbyn has “stomped out” of a meeting of party leaders called by Theresa May to discuss the latest Brexit developments. The old boy left in high dudgeon when he saw that Chuka Umunna was there representing the Independent Group of MPs. Mr Corbyn didn’t think Mr Umunna should have been allowed in because TIG is not yet a proper party. Which it isn’t, but one cannot help finding it odd that after seeing fit to meet the IRA, Hezbollah and Hamas in the name of “dialogue” Mr Corbyn should cavil at a few minutes sharing the same air as a former member of the Labour party.

No skin off my nose, tho’. It all makes sense if we assume that he still is the Brexiteer he was for forty years. A stopped clock is right twice a day. He wants No Deal but with May taking the blame if it goes wrong.

Meanwhile Whatsername is due to address the nation. Overdue. You can look at some nice wood panelling on the YouTube livefeed here or the Reuters one here.

Ooh, noises! I just heard noises!

Update: Steps! She’s here… she’s boring.

“You’re tired of the infighting, tired of the political games…”

Not to mention tired of you.

OK, some quite good sense on the damage to trust if Brexit stopped.

Not prepared to delay Brexit past 30 June. Nothing new.

Wha… what? She’s gone away. Was that it?

No Deal would be the best option for Theresa May

I agree with Ross Clark of the Spectator who says, “John Bercow is right to block a third vote on May’s deal”. I have no idea why the Speaker has suddenly decided he cares about Erskine May after all. I doubt the reason for his change of heart is a good one, but he is right to say that repeatedly bringing the same question to the House after it has been rejected violates the letter and spirit of the rules. The EU’s fondness for playing the same trick when it came to referendums was one of the things that first turned me against it.

(By the way, the Wikipedia entry for Erskine May the person rather than the book is currently rather amusing:

Thomas Erskine May, 1st Baron Farnborough, KCB, PC (8 February 1815 – 17 May 1886) was a British constitutional theorist. This derived from his career at the House of Commons.

Erskine May much like Lord Voldermort (Tom Riddle) concealed part of his soul into a book this was later found by the current Speaker of The House Commons John Bercow who upon opening the book was taken back to the past to observe both Theresa Mays twice failing ‘Meaningful Votes’ Bercow received the message and realised it was Theresa May all along who opened The Chamber of Lies, though this time it wasn’t follow the spiders, it was follow democracy.

Not done by me, but I like the style of this unknown Wikipedia editor.)

It seems that the effect of this decision by the Speaker is to make it harder for May to kick the can down the road. Deprived of the option for more back and forth over the ill-named Meaningful Votes her remaining options are: to ask the EU for an extension of the withdrawal period (which would only be granted if something significant like a general election or another referendum were put in place), to revoke Article 50, to do some blatant procedural trick like proroguing Parliament and immediately recalling it – basically pressing the “restart” button on the House of Commons – or to throw up her hands, say “**** it, I tried”, and to go for No Deal.

As far as I can see the best option for her personally, never mind the country, is No Deal.

Whatever she does will make many people angry. The question is which set of people’s anger would it be the best strategy for her to avoid?

If she revokes Article 50 the fact of doing it will delight Remainers. But the sort of people for whom that matters most now are also the sort of people who are committed anti-Tories. They won’t be delighted with her – nor with her party. They will judiciously register their opinion that at least the sorry cow did the right thing in the end and then vote Labour or Lib Dem or for the Independent Group if it stands.

The same goes in diluted form if she goes for more extensions and delaying tactics. They may frustrate Brexit in the end, or result in Brexit in name only, but the sort of people who will be happy about that won’t thank Theresa May or switch to voting Tory. But the sort of people who will be utterly infuriated by either the revocation of Article 50 or the death of Brexit by a thousand cuts very much will blame Theresa May and very much will switch from voting Tory. A substantial majority of Conservative voters are pro-Leave. Members of local Conservative Parties are overwhelmingly pro-Leave. Potential Labour-to-Conservative swing voters are also very much pro-Leave and are swing voters because of that very issue.

I do not know if May has any last scraps of ambition to continue as an MP. I would guess that all that matters to her now is her legacy. But whether she sticks around for the voters of Maidenhead or not, if she fails to deliver Brexit her legacy will be the destruction of the Conservative party. Its most committed supporters are exactly the group who care about Brexit most. If she does deliver it these people will still not think much of her but they will judiciously register their opinion that at least the sorry cow did the right thing in the end and then continue to vote Conservative.

I have not so far discussed how the predicted awful effects of No Deal would affect Theresa May’s calculations of her own interests. I have said here that failure to deliver Brexit would destroy the Conservative Party. Many of the comments I read on the internet take a completely different view. They say that the economic harm inflicted by No Deal would be the thing that destroys the Tories for a generation. This prospect is seen as the silver lining to the dark cloud of No Deal by many Remainers. But would it? I mean, even if we accept for purposes of argument that the effect of No Deal would be to mess up the economy, a thing I very much doubt, would the economic mess destroy the Tories? I do not see that as likely. When Labour mess up the economy the usual effect is to make people vote Conservative to repair the damage. In any case no one can accuse Theresa May personally of having wanted a No Deal. Like most Conservative MPs (as opposed to party members), she has possibly gone beyond the call of duty in avoiding one.

Samizdata quote of the day

Forty-one were killed at the Dean Ave. mosque, the first one that was targeted, where the murderer had plenty of time and at one point returned to his vehicle to reload. There were only seven killed at the Linwood mosque because one of the worshippers was armed.

– John Hinderaker, Observations on Christchurch, referencing this article in the New Zealand Herald. (Via Instapundit.)

Edit: When I read the NZ Herald report quoted by John Hinderaker it said the following:

A second shooting happened at a mosque in the Linwood area of the city.

One Friday prayer goer returned fire with a rifle or shotgun.

Witnesses said they heard multiple gunshots around 1.45 pm.

A well known Muslim local chased the shooters and fired two shots at them as they sped off.

He was heard telling police officers he was firing in “self defence”.

However as Hinderaker said in his very next sentence, “Early reports of catastrophic events like these always turn out to be wrong in some respects” and several later accounts such as this one in the UK Telegraph say that a worshipper, Abdul Aziz, grabbed one of the killer’s own abandoned weapons, tried to fire it but found it empty, but then used it to smash Tarrant’s windscreen. (Tarrant had gone back to his car to get more weapons or ammunition.) The Telegraph and other sources quote Mr Aziz as saying that it was because the windscreen shattered that Tarrant got scared. I presume Tarrant thought the gun had been fired and could be used against him, since I cannot see why the threat of being hit with a blunt object would cause an armed man in the middle of a murder spree to break it off and flee.

Thanks to SkippyTony and John Galt for pointing this out. As John Galt says, “Presumably the now disarmed New Zealand public should go looking for guns dropped by active shooters in future events.”

Please, EU whatever you do, don’t get tough

“I’ve got you this time, Brer Rabbit,” said Brer Fox, jumping up and shaking off the dust. “You’ve sassed me for the very last time. Now I wonder what I should do with you?”

Brer Rabbit’s eyes got very large. “Oh please Brer Fox, whatever you do, please don’t throw me into the briar patch.”

“The briar patch, eh?” said Brer Fox. “What a wonderful idea! You’ll be torn into little pieces!”

Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby, A Georgia Folktale, retold by S.E. Schlosser

*

Brexit: Brussels gets tough with ‘disruptive child’ UK, writes Andrew Byrne in the Sunday Times:

The EU’s latest thinking is contained in a document circulated among ambassadors on Friday night. It confirms legal advice that the UK must hold European parliament elections in May if it wishes to remain beyond that point. It also contains the starkest warning yet of the threat to the EU’s legal order if this requirement isn’t met.

In essence, the paper identifies a July 1 tripwire that would automatically terminate the UK’s membership and trigger a no-deal expulsion. Unless the UK had taken part in Euro elections or approved May’s deal by that time, both sides would be powerless to prevent it.

That sharpens a three-way choice for MPs: back May’s deal this month and seek a short two-month extension, opt for a long-term extension and organise European elections in May or face a no-deal exit.

This analysis piles yet more pressure on both Eurosceptic and pro-EU MPs to back May’s deal this month. That outcome is favoured by Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator. He fears that anything longer than a couple of months risks unravelling the 585-page withdrawal agreement his team spent two years working on.

Hardline Brexiteer MPs will be pressed to approve the deal to avoid Euro elections and stop Brexit slipping from their grasp. Other MPs will come under pressure to back the deal early to avoid the tripwire. EU officials hope a parliamentary majority can be cobbled together – perhaps through a series of indicative votes – by late May.

While some European leaders still toy with the idea of reversing Brexit in a second referendum, the risks of a rogue UK remaining in the EU after June and disrupting its agenda alarms others. The latest advice argues that the EU cannot impose restrictions on UK involvement in EU decision-making if it extends article 50.

Officials also fear a prolonged UK membership could see dozens of British Eurosceptic MEPs descend on the European parliament. That has added to a broader exasperation among officials who want the UK to leave quickly.

Brexit: what happens now?

I went to the Mail for a simple explanation, but they didn’t seem to know.

What happens now May’s deal has FAILED? Brexit could be delayed or ‘cancelled’, Remainers might trigger a second referendum… and the PM could be forced to QUIT

Do you?

The suffering of being voluntary

“National service should be compulsory for the young, says Chuka Umunna”

Coming out can be a stressful process. All should have sympathy with Mr Umunna’s personal struggle to accept his inner Tory.

Young Britons should do a form of ‘national service’ to end the current ‘social apartheid,’ according to Chuka Umunna. The Independent Group frontman has unveiled a list of policies, including on tuition fees, education grants and how to fund the health service. The former Labour MP has suggested that youngsters be forced to carry out work to break down barriers within society.

Because nothing builds unity in a society like some of its members using force on others. Both sides are participating, right?

The TIG spokesman stressed the plan would not be a return to compulsory military service but would help people meet other Britons from different social backgrounds.

Mr Umunna said his proposal could build on the National Citizen Service scheme introduced by David Cameron, which ‘has suffered by being voluntary’. It could also draw on evidence from France, where Emmanuel Macron made a national service requirement for 16-year-olds a key policy, with trials beginning this year.

Will no one think of the National Citizen Service scheme? We cannot leave it to suffer this way.

True but not the point

“Police waste too much time over silly spats”, writes Clare Foges in the Times. (Paywalled, but I will quote all the bits that matter.)

But perhaps the most time-sucking of new developments has been the resources spent on hate incidents and online crime. Last year it was reported that in 2015-16, 30 police forces dealt with 11,236 hate incidents which were too trivial to be classed as crimes; one every half hour. Among those lodging complaints were a man who claimed a tennis umpire had made racist line-calls against his daughter, a woman who was told that she looked like Peter Griffin from the cartoon Family Guy, and a person who felt a man had stood “intimidatingly” close because she was “a non-conforming gender-specific lesbian in a wheelchair”.

Instead of realising the folly of all this, the National Police Chiefs’ Council responded by restating that “those feeling vulnerable should report any incident of hate crime to the police”. The trouble is that hate crime is astonishingly subjective. The official definition is “any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice”.

The College of Policing states that “for recording purposes, the perception of the victim, or any other person, is the defining factor in determining whether an incident is a hate incident . . . Evidence of the hostility is not required.” In other words, any crackpot or attention seeker who feels victimised, regardless of the “offence”, may go to the police.

Sucking up police time on “hate” incidents in the offline world is bad enough, but in the past couple of years the police have been expected to protect us online too. In 2017 the Crown Prosecution Service announced that online hate crimes should be treated as seriously as those committed face to face. This has led us to ludicrous cases like that of Kate Scottow, who last December was arrested in front of her children by three police officers and detained for seven hours. Her crime? Calling a transgender woman on Twitter a man.

In 2017 this paper reported that police were arresting nine people a day in the fight against web trolls, a rise of nearly 50 per cent in just three years. The arrests were made under the Communications Act 2003, which makes it illegal to intentionally “cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another” with online posts. Annoyance? Inconvenience? Given the cesspit of spite that social media has become, we can only imagine how many are being arrested today.

Commissioner Dick was criticised when she said that focusing on violent crime must be the over-riding priority for police, over misogynistic abuse, over fraud, even over catching those who view indecent material online. “We can’t go on increasing the scale of the mission, unless we are given more resources, or the public is prepared for us to do some things not very well.” No one wants to give a free ride to certain offenders. But in a world of finite resources there cannot be a bobby on every corner as well as bobbies to guard the good name of the Duchess of Sussex and bobbies to police every spat on social media. There aren’t enough resources for this and never will be.

I do not disagree with any of the arguments Ms Foges makes. But I think she is missing something rather important…

Update: I have decided to stop being coy and just say what I think the problem with Clare Foges’ piece is. She talks as if the main thing wrong with the police “increasing the scale of the mission” (as Commissioner Cressida Dick puts it) to encompass the policing of spats on social media is that it wastes police time. So it does, but the scandal of the arrest of Kate Scottow for calling a transgender woman a man on Twitter did not lie in the time wasted by the three officers who bravely took on that mission. It lay in the violation of Kate Scottow’s liberty.

The Art of (No) Deal

Via Instapundit I came across this fine editorial from the New York Sun:

“Sometimes You Have To Walk”

The collapse of President Trump’s summit with the North Korean party boss, Kim Jong Un, certainly takes us back — to October 12, 1986. That’s when President Reagan stood up and walked out of the Reykjavik summit with another party boss, Mikhail Gorbachev, of the Soviet Union. We can remember it like it was yesterday. The long faces, the dire predictions, the Left’s instinct to blame the Americans.

“What appears to have happened in Iceland is this,” the New York Times editorialized. “Mr. Reagan had the chance to eliminate Soviet and U.S. medium-range nuclear weapons in Europe, to work toward a test ban on his terms, to halve nuclear arsenals in five years and to agree on huge reductions later. He said no.” The Times just didn’t see that the Hollywood actor turned president had just won the Cold War.

It’s too early in the morning — this editorial is being written at 3 a.m. at New York — to know whether that’s the kind of thing that just happened at Hanoi, whence news reports are just coming in. Messrs. Trump and Kim were supposed to have a working lunch, to be followed by the signing of some sort of agreement. The next thing you know, Mr. Trump is heading home.

It’s not too early, though, to caution against over-reacting to this development. What appears to have happened is that the Korean Reds wouldn’t agree to the complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization that we seek. Absent that, we wouldn’t agree to the dismantling of all the sanctions the North Koreans seek. “Sometimes you have to walk,” Mr. Trump told the press.

Good for him, we say. It would be a fitting epitaph for any statesman.

The tags I chose for this post will serve as my only further comment.

Deleted by the PC Media, and about time too

Matt Kilcoyne of the Adam Smith Institute writes,

The Guardian’s anti-Brexit fake news

An article, since deleted, made nonsense claims about the treatment of EU migrants.

and

When you try to find the article now you get a page that says it has been removed (rather amusingly, the related stories are eight other removed articles). The Guardian, unwilling to admit to its failures, claims that the piece was ‘taken down because it was found to have been based, in good faith, on outdated information’. This was after 16,000 people had shared it.

What happens when a stab in the back myth isn’t a myth?

In the light of Theresa May offering MPs a vote on delaying Brexit, which is being joyfully and rationally welcomed by Remainers as the crack into which can be inserted the political lever to renege on delivering the referendum vote entirely, this twitter thread from Matthew Goodwin is timely:

One critical point about vote for #Brexit is that it marked the first moment when a majority of British people formally asked for something that a majority of their elected representatives did not want to give. It was always destined to lead us here

Contrary to popular claims, we now know from a dozen + studies that Leavers knew what they were voting for. They had a clear sense about how they wanted to change the settlement; they wanted powers returned from the EU & to slow the pace of immigration

We also know that for large chunks of the Leave electorate this vote -a rejection of the status quo- was anchored in high levels of political distrust, exasperation with an unfair economic settlement & a strong desire to be heard & respected

I do not think that it is hard to imagine what could happen if Brexit is delayed, taken off the shelf altogether or evolves into a second referendum that offers Remain vs May’s deal, which Leavers would view as an illegitimate ‘democratic’ exercise

We have evidence. (1) Professor Lauren McLaren has already shown that even before the first referendum people who wanted to reform the existing settlement but who felt politicians were unresponsive became significantly more distrustful of the entire political system

(2) Professor Oliver Heath (& others) have found that as British politics gradually converged on the middle-class at the expense of the working-class the latter gradually withdrew from politics, hunkering down and becoming more apathetic

This is partly why the first referendum was so important, where we saw surprisingly high rates of turnout in blue-collar seats. Because for the first time in years many of these voters felt that they could, finally, bring about change.

And we’d already seen an alliance between middle-class conservatives and blue-collar workers to try and bring about this change when they decamped from mainstream politics in 2012-2015 to vote for a populist outsider

So I think that we do know what the effects of a long/indefinite delay to Brexit, or taking it off the table altogether, will be. Either we will see a return to apathy & ever-rising levels of distrust which will erode our democracy and the social contract from below, or …

Another populist backlash, anchored in the same alliance of disillusioned Tories & angry workers who -as we’ve learned- are very unlikely to just walk quietly into the night. If anything, this will just exacerbate the deeper currents we discuss here

I have one thing to add: if the establishment (which includes MPs of all parties) demonstrates that campaigning for forty years for a referendum and finally winning it does not work, it will not only be the populist Right who learn the lesson. The radical Left and the Irish, Scottish, Welsh and English Nationalists will also learn that the strategy of peacefully winning consent from voters is a mug’s game.

A cursory search of the soul

“France has an antisemitism problem – and not just from the gilets jaunes”, writes Cécile Guerin in the Guardian.

With a headline like that the obvious next question is where else is France’s anti-semitism coming from, besides the gilets jaunes?

France, like every nation in Christendom, has a long history of Christian hatred of Jews on religious grounds, which gradually morphed into the “traditional” anti-semitism of the far right, exemplified by Jean-Marie Le Pen. That tendency is by no means extinct. I had forgotten that despite his expulsion from the le Front National by his daughter, Le Pen père remains a serving Member of the European Parliament. But though it still has venom, that style of anti-semitism is clearly in decline and is not the source of the upsurge in recent years. So where is it coming from? To answer this question, it surely makes sense to look at the most serious manifestation of Jew-hatred: the murder of Jews. The following is a list of Jews who were killed for being Jews in France this century:

– In 2006 Ilan Halimi, 23, a Jewish mobile phone salesman, was kidnapped and tortured to death over a period of three weeks. The leader of the gang that killed him, Youssouf Fofana, arrived in court shouting, “Allah will be victorious”.

– In 2012 Mohammed Merah, shot and killed three French soldiers, two of whom were, like him, Muslims. He then moved on to the Ozar Hatorah Jewish day school in Toulouse. The Wikipedia article records that “Four people were killed at the school: 30-year-old Rabbi Jonathan (Yonatan) Sandler; his two oldest (out of three) children, Aryeh, aged 6, and Gabriel, aged 3; and eight-year-old Miriam Monsonego, daughter of the head teacher.” Merah said in a call to a TV station that the killings were done “to uphold the honour of Islam”.

– In 2015 Amedy Coulibaly, a supporter of ISIS and associate of the two brothers who had carried out the Charlie Hebdo massacre two days earlier, and who had himself killed a policewoman the previous day, entered a kosher supermarket in Paris and took hostages. He murdered four of them, all Jews. According to Wikipedia, “Coulibaly stated that he targeted the Jews at the Kosher grocery to defend Muslims, notably Palestinians”. It should be noted that during the seige a Muslim employee of the supermarket, Lassana Bathily, courageously hid people from Coulibaly in a cold storage room.

– In 2017 Sarah Halimi was killed by Kobili Traoré, a native of Mali “who shouted about religious ideas in Arabic during the murder”. One could argue that since her killer was not a French citizen her murder is not relevant to a discussion of French anti-semitism. But it is certainly relevant to anti-semitism in France, and by a cruel irony, Sarah Halimi was a relative of Ilan Halimi, the first entry on this list.

– In 2018 an 85 year old Holocaust survivor, Mireille Knolle, was murdered. The authorities have arrested Yacine Mihoub, a Muslim neighbour of Ms Knoll who she had known since he was a child and Alex Carrimbacus whom Mihoub had met in prison. Carrimbacus has claimed that Mihoub called out “Allah Akbar” after killing her.

My list was compiled from memory, backed up by the Wikipedia article on antisemitism in 21st century France. It may contain mistakes or omissions; if you see any please let me know in the comments. But whatever its deficiencies, it is doing better than the Guardian article on anti-semitism in France that I linked to at the start of this post. That has plenty about the far right and a little about the far left but omits mention of Islam entirely.

Cécile Guerin’s article ends with the words, “More soul-searching and longer-term solutions are needed”, but if she cannot bring herself to say the words “Islam” or “Muslim” in an article about French anti-semitism, when so far as I can judge every single anti-semitic murder in France during the 21st century had a Muslim as the sole or leading perpetrator and was proclaimed by the killers themselves to have been done in the name of Islam, then she is not serious about seeking a long term solution. Perhaps she should search her own soul a little harder.

A humbling must come to pass

It is rare that I agree so strongly with a fervent supporter of the European Union. Nesrine Malik of the Guardian argues that “the Brexit reckoning must happen” on the grounds that

A humbling must come to pass. From the beginning, Brexit created its own momentum. Once the question was asked – in or out? – all the grievances, justified or not, could be projected on it, with “in” being widely seen as a vote for the status quo. Within this frame, nothing else matters – not economic predictions, not warnings about medicines running out, nor threats of the need to stockpile foods. The remain campaign could not have done anything differently: it lost the moment the question was asked.

And so, maybe, in the end, we will finally believe that immigration is necessary for an economy and an NHS to function, that the inequality between the south-east and the rest of Britain is unsustainable, that our political class is over-pedigreed and under-principled. We might even believe that other crises, such as climate change, are real, too.

Maybe, in the end, the country outside Europe will find its stride by confronting its issues rather than blaming them on others, and forging its own way. But there is only one way to find out. What a shame Brexit is that path – but better to have a path than none at all.

She is right about our political class being over-pedigreed and under-principled, right that unless Brexit happens the country will be torn apart by claim and counter-claim as to what would have happened, and right that a humbling must come to pass. Let us go forward together and find out whose.