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]

South Yorkshire Police hard at work

“In addition to reporting hate crime, please report non-crime hate incidents, which can include things like offensive or insulting comments, online, in person or in writing. Hate will not be tolerated in South Yorkshire. Report it and put a stop to it.#HateHurtsSY”

– a tweet from South Yorkshire Police yesterday, as reported by Westmonster.

Well, what are you waiting for? Here is the South Yorkshire Police contact form. It is interesting to see the sort of wrongdoing that has finally prompted South Yorkshire Police to take action. Lesser crimes such as these did not merit such proactive treatment.

Rowan Atkinson hits the nail on the head yet again

These remarks are as apposite today as when they were first delivered in 2012. The Boris Johnson ‘burqa’ furore is actually not about burqas at all (nothing happened when Ken Clarke made very similar remarks in 2013), it is a nakedly obvious ploy to bring down the main political threat to Theresa May, by using profoundly illiberal notions that politically designated groups are beyond ridicule or criticism.

The shambles of the European Arrest Warrant system

Damien Phillips, a friend of mine, has an excellent article on why Theresa May’s “Brexit-in-name-only” stance is so bad. One reason, he states, is that it keeps the UK within the odious embrace of the European Arrest Warrant system. So far, the EAW hasn’t been the kind of issue to get most people, even most Brexiteers, exercised. But in many ways it represents some of the worst features of what the EU now is.

As the Daily Telegraph is behind a paywall, here are a few choice paragraphs:

The Prime Minister and the British establishment are simply unwilling to recognise the risks that ‘close cooperation’ on security with the European Union poses for the United Kingdom. Such is the desperate desire to maintain close ties, they are blind to the gathering storm in key parts of Continental Europe.

Due Process, a cross-party campaign group launched by, amongst others, the Chairman of the 1922 Committee Graham Brady MP in late 2017, has been fighting an uphill battle to highlight the serious abuses and injustices being perpetrated by EU member states against both their own citizens and ours. Their latest report explodes the presumption, alarmingly pervasive amongst the British judiciary, that EU member states will comply with their obligations under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the European Court of Human Rights.

This idea underpins the entire EU project and in particular the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) system of extradition, based on the ludicrous proposition that all EU member states have legal systems of equivalent probity and repute.

These damning findings are echoed by Fair Trials International, whose recent review of the operation of the EAW uncovers a Kafka-esque nightmare for ordinary citizens. Reviewing over 220 extradition case files and interviewing more than 250 legal experts, they find the EAW being used disproportionately to force people into lengthy pre-trial detention away from home, exposing them to appalling prison conditions, leading to job losses and separation from their families, and putting them at the manifest risk of having an unfair trial.

Both reports should be alarming for anyone who can see the security implications of a collapse of basic legal standards in countries that Britain is sharing intelligence, security and law enforcement information with. States without effective legal institutions are highly vulnerable to corruption, making them prime targets for Russian infiltration and destabilisation. Combine this with the EAW which allows any British citizen or resident to be directly targeted by any EU state they draw the ire of and you have a recipe for “lawfare” on a grand scale. Once a legal system resembles that of the Russian Federation, there is nothing to stop authoritarian politicians or rapacious intelligence services operating with impunity and exploiting the judiciary for their own wicked ends.

It is in light of this crisis that the Irish High Court recently issued a landmark judgement to halt all extraditions to Poland because they can no longer trust the Polish judiciary to deliver a fair trial. Likewise, German courts have blocked politically motivated attempts to extradite the Catalan leader, and even Costa Rica and Serbia have granted political ‘refugee status’ to what are now recognised as being Romanian dissidents.

In the face of the mounting evidence, our Prime Minister continues with her reckless desire to keep our membership of the EAW intact and to cooperate unconditionally with states whose judicial and state machinery are plumbing the depths of Russia, Romania and Turkey.

Instead, the PM should proactively shun the EU’s one-size-fits-all security and legal architecture. She should name and shame those EU member states that don’t fulfil the high standards required for a security partnership with the UK, while calling out the European Commission for its total failure to ensure respect for the rule of law and human rights across the EU. She should reject any form of jurisdiction by the European Court of Justice which has done a parlous job of preventing abuse of an increasingly toxic and politicised EAW system.

In this new age of lawfare, the PM must implement an immediate review of Britain’s extradition treaties, where necessary imposing interim measures to halt all extraditions to those countries that are so clearly falling short of the basics of due process and human rights. The government should enable a “prima facie” evidence test on those governments suspected of foul play or with potentially corrupt legal institutions. Under such a system the burden of proof would be placed on the prosecuting authority and a case would have to be proved to have sufficient evidence to justify a trial – standard practice under English common law.

This new system would have the granular flexibility not just to treat all other states on the basis of equality and reciprocity. It would avoid the wishful, fantasy land thinking of Brussels, and instead rely on the hard-headed reality and principles that have evolved through English common law over many centuries.

Samizdata quote of the day

And then there’s that rather larger point that if the censor gets to decide what can appear on Facebook then what about claims in the wider media? The opinion pages of all newspapers carry pieces which at least some, on any particular point, will claim is fake including – oft with respect to Oliver Kamm – the use of and and/or or. That a genetic male claiming they are female is correct or not? Which answer – no they ain’t, only if they have surgery or whatever they say – is fake news or not?

To give anyone the power to decide upon fake news on any part of the media is to give the same prodnoses and authoritarians the power to censor it all.

Well, except the Guardian, obviously – “It accuses them of profiting” – if you’ve not made a profit in a decade then you can’t be accused of that now, can you?

Tim Worstall

Samizdata quote of the day

Imagine that we did have some arbiter of what was true, what was not. Then the definition of truth will be whatever the consensus is, wouldn’t it? Something which might well benefit those who agree with that status quo in beliefs but does rather militate against the basic ideas of either free speech or a free press.

Yes, of course, actual free speech and press is messy, chaotic and not as many would like. But that’s rather the point, so is liberty those three things. Trying to limit that press and speech will be a constraint upon that liberty too.

Tim Worstall

EU plunders Google

Google worked with others to make software for phones. They did not have to do this, and nobody had to use their software. People just found it useful enough that they agreed to use Google’s software with certain conditions attached that they found agreeable. The EU, under the guise of arbitrary rules limiting voluntary interactions, is going to plunder 5 billion Euros from Google.

A friend on Facebook writes, “No! Fuck off fuck off fuck off! This money will get pissed away and squandered (probably on drink by Jean-Claude Juncker) […] their view seems to be: ‘If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidise it.'” (I think Ronald Reagan would agree with that last part.)

The CEO of Google points out that Android has created more choice, not less.

Samizdata quote of the day

As a woman, I am much more interested in protecting the right to free speech than I am in catering to the possibly-offended. If we are raising girls to feel damaged by a photo of a woman in a bikini, my goodness we need to do better.

Kate Andrews

Branding as a service

In discussions about the necessity of regulations to protect consumers, I have argued that brands can fulfill the same role. In order to maintain a good reputation they need to provide reliability of service. For small businesses, branding can be licensed or franchised. If your small business injures customers it will lose the right to use the brand. All these things can happen through voluntary interactions.

This happens all the time. Owners of burger restaurants use the McDonald’s brand. People who want to drive people around for money use the Uber brand.

So I find it perplexing that lawyers are arguing that paying for the right to use branding can turn a person into an employee.

Jolyon Maugham, a barrister, said that there was an “unresolvable tension” between Uber’s claimed status as a intermediary and the fact that it has built a brand so powerful that it has entered our lexicon. “Uber is trying to enjoy the legal benefits of being a broker on the one hand, and establish themselves as a massive customer-facing brand,” says Mr Maugham, who is taking action against Uber to establish that it should be paying VAT.

There may well be legal technicalities around this, but the idea that there is any tension between being a broker and having a customer-facing brand is bizarre. For one thing I recently bought car insurance from a well-known broker and would have to look at the paperwork to see who the insurer is; it is of little consequence to me.

The Independent has some more details about a related court case involving a company who introduce people to plumbers.

Rebecca Hilsenrath, chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, hailed the judgment as “one of the biggest decisions ever made by the courts on workers’ rights”.

“If you wear the uniform, if you drive the branded vehicle, if you only work for one business, you are employed. That means you are entitled to the appropriate protections and adjustments which go with the job, to enable you to work safely and productively. Everyone has the right to a healthy working environment, and to that end businesses need to recognise their duties to their workers.”

Alternatively, millions of people will be poorer because the state is arbitrarily limiting the types of business model and voluntary interaction it will allow; preventing innovation.

In an amusing Twitter thread, Aemilius Josephus points out to Jolyon Maugham, “self-employed barristers market under shared brands by being in chambers”.

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.

Samizdata quote of the day

Congratulations Mr. Brokenshire, you’ve just killed every buy-to-let mortgage. of which there were 1.8 million even back in 2015. It’s a standard clause in every single one of those mortgages that they be rented out on a six or 12-month shorthold assured tenancy. The reason being that in the event of default the bank or building society understandably wants to be able to sell the place without having to deal with an immovable sitting tenant.

No one has any problem with increasing the choices available in terms of types and terms of tenancies. But imposing new terms on all landlords and tenants either means that 1.8 million rental dwellings are off the market, or we’ve got to persuade every bank and building society in the country to alter their existing contracts. For a price, of course.

We might, then, politely suggest that this hasn’t been properly thought through. Although of course we’d never compare James Brokenshire to Tony Blair, I’m not too clear who that would be unfair to.

Tim Worstall

The 20th century saw the state getting bigger and bigger, and thus the citizen getting smaller and smaller

In NZ, the UK or Australia, one may own a rifle or shotgun, but it has to be locked in a cabinet when not in use. Thus, it is of no use for a sudden life or death situation. A twelve bore which is locked in a steel cabinet will not save you when you need it.

I must say I find it odd that in the UK, NZ and Oz it is legal to own guns for all reasons except self-defence, which is the most basic and obvious reason to own one. It was not always like this, but the 20th century saw the state getting bigger and bigger, and thus the citizen getting smaller and smaller.

The one part of the UK where ownership of a pistol for self-defence is still legal is Northern Ireland, but even that is for the convenience of the state. They found that builders, contractors and other suppliers of goods and services to the state were refusing to work for them any more, as they were targetted by the IRA. The only way the state could get its jobs done was to allow these people to own a pistol and a small amount of ammunition (25 rounds I believe). So there is no general right to be armed in self-defence even in NI, it is just something the state had to allow for its own survival.

The NI situation is something which is never talked about, however. About 10,000 people in a population of 1.5 million carry a pistol for self-defence. Carried across to the mainland, that would be 400,000 armed citizens. The powers that be don’t want the peons getting any ideas above their station.

JohnK making some very cogent points on Natalie’s article here on Samizdata.

Samizdata quote of the day

Meet the new face of Ukip: The free speech extremists who could make Ukip dangerous again

Mikey Smith‘s headline of a Mirror article about UKIP. Now it does not matter a damn what you think of UKIP, but the idea that supporting free speech itself can make you an ‘extremist’ is breathtaking and frankly absurd: you either support free speech or you support state approved speech, there is no middle ground.