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]

Why is Russia trying to influence other countries’ elections by means of targeted advertising wrong?

“Nick Clegg denies misuse of Facebook influenced Brexit vote”, reports the Guardian.

Umm, okay. A lot of people are saying “Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?”.

Sir Nick Clegg, for those readers who have forgotten this rather forgettable chap, used to be leader of the Liberal Democrats and was Deputy Prime Minister for a while, back when the Lib Dems were in coalition with the Conservatives. He lost his seat in the 2017 election, which made him sad. Then he got a “communications” job with Facebook at a salary that probably made him feel better.

So nine years after Cleggmania, here he is back on our TV screens again. The Times report on the same story says,

The former Liberal Democrat leader said that social media could not be blamed for the vote to leave the European Union.

He said: “Much though I understand why people want to reduce that eruption in British politics to some kind of plot or conspiracy — or some use of new social media through opaque means — I’m afraid the roots to British Euroscepticism go very, very deep.”

Sir Nick added: “Yes, Facebook has a heavy responsibility to protect the integrity of elections from outside interference. I also think we have a duty to explain fact from some of the allegations that have been made.”

Calling for greater regulation of the internet, he said: “We forget that though these companies are huge and affect every aspect of our lives — our social lives, our business lives — nonetheless it has all happened in such a short period of time.

It is no surprise to find Nick Clegg “calling for “greater regulation of the internet”. Not only was more regulation of corporations his schtick when he was a politico, it also suits his current employers very well. Facebook can buy another twenty floors of lawyers whenever it needs them; struggling new startups cannot.

But to hear such a lifelong Europhile admit that the roots of British Euroscepticism go deep was a surprise. He is right. Russia’s puny efforts to interfere in the EU referendum were the equivalent of the eternally slandered King Canute calling the tide forward.

But in all this debate about how effective or ineffective Russia’s “outside interference” in the referendum was I have not yet heard a convincing explanation of what exactly is wrong with “outside interference” anyway.

I need not list the real crimes – waging unjust wars, murders, domestic repression – that can be laid at Putin’s door. On an infinitely smaller scale, making use of harvested data that people did not agree to make available is a bad if commonplace thing. But what is bad in principle about Russia trying to persuade British people to vote a particular way by advertising? Where did this idea come from that only British ideas are allowed to enter British brains during an election or referendum campaign? In a democracy you are allowed to vote on any criteria you like. You can vote for a candidate because you carefully researched his or her voting record and found that it best aligned with your political beliefs, or because your family has always voted for the Reds or the Blues, or because you think the candidate has nice eyes, or because your imam told you which way to vote, or because Vladimir Putin did. They all count equally. If we were to operate a system of Juche when it comes to political thought, would that not also exclude political ideas originating in the European Union?

The real fix facing Boris

I am going to assume for the purposes of argument that Boris Johnson will shortly become leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister.

I am also going to assume that Parliament will prevent Boris from taking the UK out of the European Union. Even if he makes it a matter of confidence.

At this point the usual response would be to call a general election.

B-B-But… Nige. And his Brexit Party. Nige is not going to go away. Nige doesn’t want to go away. He did that once and it didn’t go well. And he has won a national election. And he beat the Conservatives into third place in a recent by-election.

All things being equal if a general election is called, the Brexit Party will stand and split the Conservative vote while the Conservative Party will stand and split the Brexit vote. Yeah, I know the Brexit Party will get some votes from former Labour supporters but mostly it will come from the Conservatives. So, the vote will be split, Labour will win and we’re all off to the Gulag.

Boris knows this, Nige knows this. Or, at least I hope they do. Therefore, they must avoid splitting the vote and they must make a deal (with one another, not the EU, that is).

B-B-But… I can’t think of two people less likely to make a deal. They are both political entrepreneurs. They are both outsiders who have achieved their position on their own terms and they like being in charge. They are NOT team players and yet a deal requires team playing. This is not looking good.

Britain this time next year

Esprit d’escalier: it occurs to me that the Queen might ask someone else to form a government rather than dissolving Parliament and holding a general election. Ach! Scrub that. There is no one else who could come even remotely close to commanding a majority. Ooh hang about! What about Cooper or Grieve or both? A sort of Chuk 2? Is it a possibility? Would it make any difference?

An intersection

When I watched the by now viral video of a mob jeering at and throwing a milkshake over an elderly British Trump supporter, led by a screaming feminist called Siobhan Prigent, a number of lines of thoughts got like Ms Prigent, intersectional.

– Watching the video made me angry. A year or so ago my son asked me an interesting question, “Are you still a feminist?” He knew that I had previously described myself as one. Eventually I answered that yes, I was, but that my understanding of what being a feminist entails seems to have been abandoned by most of those who describe themselves as feminists. Is Siobhan Prigent what a feminist looks like now? I’m still holding on to the idea that “what a feminist looks like” can include what I see in the mirror. But it is getting harder.

– Talk of feminism leads me to the next thought. What did that frail-looking female police officer do that was any more use than a chocolate teapot? Would a more physically imposing male officer have been more useful, or was the lack of police action when the old man was assaulted a matter of policy and nothing to do with whether the presiding teapot was male or female?

The man also claimed he was kicked in the legs, and attacked with a banner with a stick on the end. The demonstrators also attempted to remove his Make America Great Again hat – which he eventually got back.

The Londoner told how police officers removed him from the protest on Parliament Square for his own safety.

He told police that he didn’t want to officially report what had happened as he knew ‘nothing would come of it’.

“Removed for his own safety”. “He knew ‘nothing would come of it'”. Modern policing in a nutshell.

– Intersectional feminist Ms Prigent has now intersected with the consequences of her actions. She has been forced to quit her job. She says that her friends and family have been threatened and abused alongside her. If the part about her family is true that is very bad. As for Ms Prigent herself, while she certainly deserves to suffer some public scorn for her bad behaviour, doxxing someone is like breaching a dam: once the wall breaks the situation is out of anyone’s control.

There was another feminist in the news today. The Scotsman reports that “Feminist speaker Julie Bindel ‘attacked by transgender person’ at Edinburgh University after talk”

“We had had a very positive meeting – I was speaking about male violence against women and never even mentioned transgender people – and when I came out this person was waiting.

“There had been a protest outside earlier, but that had gone so he was obviously waiting for me.

“He was shouting and ranting and raving, ‘you’re a f***** c***, you’re a f****** bitch, a f****** Terf” and the rest of it. We were trying to walk to the cab to take us to the airport, and then he just lunged at me and almost punched me in the face, but a security guard pulled him away.

“I got my phone out to film him to get evidence and he went for me again. It took three security guys at the stage to deal with him.

And

After the attack, it was revealed on social media platform Twitter that her attacker was a transwoman called Cathy Brennan, who it has been reported has previously advocated violence against women.

At this point I tried to research a little more about Cathy Brennan, but I’ve deleted what I said on the grounds of complete confusion. It seems that there are two people with the same name prominent on opposite sides of the debate. At least two. It doesn’t help in determining who’s who that half of the relevant Twitter accounts have now been deleted.

The Scotsman article continues,

“Brennan has previously tweeted in support of violence against women who believe that changing the Gender Recognition Act to allow people to self-identify as any gender, rather than needing a medical diagnosis, would endanger women’s rights to safety, privacy and dignity by doing away with single-sex spaces. One tweet read: “Any trans allies at #PrideLondon right now need to step the f**kup and take out the terf trash. Get in their faces. Make them afraid. Debate never works so f**k them up”

I have borne a grudge against Julie Bindel since she called me a rape defender about ten years ago. In the comments to an article she wrote for the Guardian I had brought up the possibility that not every claimed rape had actually occurred. Since then Ms Bindel’s version of radical feminism has been overtaken by another strand and she now finds herself on the receiving end of the denunciations she once handed out so freely. Still, I never heard she attacked anyone with anything other than words.

Have we vanished into the night?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr Brodie’s view includes the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In summary, he includes the following:

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

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

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

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

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

The trouble with “political theatre” is that life imitates art

“This Milkshake Spring isn’t political violence – it’s political theatre”, wrote Aditya Chakrabortty in the Guardian the day before yesterday.

From Nigel Farage to Tommy Robinson and Carl Benjamin, dangerous figures on the right are being reduced to ridicule

Today’s “dangerous figure on the right” was an elderly Brexit Party teller called Don:

Brexit Party teller attacked by milkshake

Don, A Brexit Party teller and 22 year army veteran in Aldershot described as a “popular man with the local community,” has been attacked by a man on a bike with a milkshake. Former Army Major Dominic Farrell described the scene…

“Bloke on a cycle passed by, saw his rosette, gave him the finger and abuse, then went to a shop, bought the milkshake and attacked him.”

How do people think this is acceptable..?

A foretaste

Over the last two days there has been a spate of milkshakes being thrown at UKIP and Brexit party candidates. It has become a meme. Many Remainers have spoken out against this, but others are loving it. For instance the Independent‘s political sketchwriter Tom Peck writes, “Nigel Farage getting hit by a milkshake isn’t funny, it’s absolutely hilarious”. The restaurant chain Burger King has got in on the act, tweeting:

Dear people of Scotland.

We’re selling milkshakes all weekend.

Have fun.

Love BK

Burger King evidently believed that this tweet would make their brand more popular with Remainers and Scots. Were they right? I know members of both groups who are insulted by that assumption, but we shall see.

Whoever sold the eggs to those among the Muslim protesters at Anderton Park Primary School (where there have been demonstrations and counter-demonstrations about LGBT education) who then went on to throw the eggs at the LGBT protesters could have taken their tone from Burger King and used it as a springboard to sell more some more eggs, but didn’t.

Why not, you ask? Would not being known as the go-to place for getting eggs to throw at protesters add to their cachet among cool young readers of the Independent? Oddly, no. You just have to understand that for some categories of person to have food thrown over them while they peacefully advocate for their cause puts them in the same bracket as those who endured this in order to desegregate lunch counters in the US. But for other categories of person, to have food thrown over them makes the thrower into the equivalent of a heroic Civil Rights protester. Best find out which category you are in before you next go to Burger King.

Of all the chucklesome reactions to the great milkshake fight of 2019 there was one in particular that struck me as promising even more fun for the future. All we have to do to get that future is vote correctly.

Before I get to that, let’s have a break from all this laughing and read a line or two from the Labour manifesto from 2017:

Labour will set out to make Britain a fair society with liberties for all, governed by the rule of law, and in which the law is enforced equally

– From page 80 of For the Many, Not the Few: The Labour Party Manifesto 2017.

Fine words. Karl Turner MP may well be the one tasked to bring them to reality should Labour form our next government. He was at one time Shadow Attorney General. That is, he was lined up to be chief legal adviser to the Crown and Government. Given the lack of legal talent in the Labour Party he may yet be the next Attorney General.

This is what Karl Turner MP (Lab) said on Twitter today:

Another truly vile ⁦@UKIP⁩ candidate gets a milkshake for lunch. 👍

Putting names to the faces of a parcel of rogues

A month late, I found this video by “Change Britain”, a pressure group founded by leaders of the Vote Leave campaign:

Brexit Betrayal montage: “2 minutes of broken promises!”

The montage consists of politician after politician saying that the government would do whatever people voted for in the referendum, that there would be no second referendum, that the UK would leave the European Union on March 29th 2019, and so on and so forth, liars that they are.

It is very effective… if you know your politicians by sight. When it comes to spotting the Lesser British Politician in its natural habitat I would get my Brownie badge, but even I could not name all the distinguished lawmakers shown in this montage.

This matters. That effective video would be twice as effective at naming and shaming lying politicians if it, er, named them. This ties in to what I said in my earlier post, “Some examples of promises that Remainer MPs made to get elected and then broke” about the importance of having the damning quotes in written as well as video form:

I thought it was very useful that he [Tom Harwood] added subtitles to the videos, as that makes it easier to find and cite the most strikingly dishonest passages in the MPs’ speeches. By writing out the speeches and the contents of the election flyers and leaflets here in this Samizdata post I hope to make it still easier to spread the word of how these Remainer Members of Parliament are not to be trusted.

To that end, here are the names that I could provide, together with party and role:

0:01 David Cameron, Conservative, Prime Minister at the time of the broadcast
0:02 Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat, then leader of that party
0:06 George Osborne, Conservative, then Chancellor of the Exchequer
0:09 Peter Mandelson (Baron Mandelson), Labour peer and former cabinet minister, prince of darkness
0:17 John Major, Conservative, former Prime Minister
0:22 Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party
0:25 Sadiq Khan, Labour, Mayor of London
0:30 George Osborne again
0:32 Philip Hammond, Conservative, Chancellor of the Exchequer
0:34 Anna Soubry, formerly Conservative now Change UK
0:36 Sir Keir Starmer, Labour, Shadow Secretary for Exiting the EU
0:43 Peter Mandelson again
0:50 Cameron
0:53 Is that Nick Boles? Assuming it’s him, he’s ex-Tory, now “Independent Progressive Conservative” Peter Kyle, Labour
0:55 A bloke. Labour from his red tie. Hilary Benn, Labour.
0:58 Chuka Umunna, formerly Labour now Change UK
1:01 Damn, I know who she is but the name won’t come to me Justine Greening, Conservative.
1:03 John McDonnell, Labour, Shadow Chancellor
1:11 Sarah Wollaston, formerly Conservative now Change UK
1:12 Is that worried looking woman Labour’s Yvette Cooper? She looks different without her lipstick on. General opinion is yes, it is Yvette Cooper.
1:17 Identified in the comments as Dr Phillip Lee, Conservative. He does resemble the former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, but it isn’t him.
1:22 Heidi Allen, formerly Conservative, now Change UK
1:27 Theresa May again
1:31 Osborne again
1:32 Now identified as Sir Oliver Letwin, Conservative
1:36 May
1:43 Cameron
1:50 May
1:54 Cameron
1:57 May

If you can supply the missing names, please let me know in the comments.

Besides naming the parcel of rogues, the other point of this post is that, while a video is better than text for making your point with emotional force, if you want to make that point spread far and wide, it pays to back the video up with writing. Subtitle it, caption it with the names of speakers, and write down significant timestamps as the “sticky” maker’s comment to the video so people can search for the clip most relevant to them.

For instance I was particularly interested in the words of Sir Keir Starmer that “The referendum is clear and has to be accepted. We can’t have a re-run of the question which was put to the country”. Sir Keir Starmer KCB QC (he got the knighthood before becoming a Labour MP and would probably now prefer it not to be mentioned) is the Great White Hope of the anti-Corbynite, Europhile section of the Labour Party. Sir Keir is spoken of as the next leader, and he is certainly more intelligent and in most matters less fanatical than its current leader. Even some socialists would prefer their party be led by a member of the Order of the Bath than by a man who looks like he needs one.

Do not welcome Sir Keir into your hearts just yet.

He was the Director of Public Prosecutions at the time of the Twitter Joke Trial. And, of course, a man who first said that “The referendum is clear and has to be accepted. We can’t have a re-run of the question which was put to the country” but weaselled out of that as soon as the wind changed.

Sir Keir Starmer’s weaselling should be widely known. I am grateful to Change Britain for bringing it to my attention. However I was only able to find out that Starmer had once said that “the referendum is clear and has to be accepted” because (a) I am the sort of person who watches two minute montages of politicians lying about Brexit, (b) I already knew that Sir Keir is currently one of the Labour party’s leading advocates of a second referendum, and (c) I am one of the 5% – make that 1% – of British people who can put a name to his suspiciously handsome face.

The remark in question is thirty-six seconds in if you want to check it for yourself without watching the whole montage. Seeing a certain short extract from a montage video is a thing people might often wish to do, so, makers of montages, make it easy for them. If someone reading this wants to send a Starmer-struck friend a clip of that video starting at that very moment, pause the video, right click, and select “Copy video URL at current time”.

Update: Thank you Alex, Mr Ed, Peter Briffa and Martin Keegan for all the names you have supplied. The one remaining name that I am not sure about is the chap at 0:53 (actually 0:52) who I tentatively ID’d as ex-Tory now-Independent Nick Boles. The name of Ed Balls of Labour has been suggested (he of the sacred Day) – unless I’m mixed up about which talking head Peter Briffa was indicating. But while I’ve lost confidence in naming the mystery man as Nick Boles, he doesn’t look like Ed Balls to me either.

Another update: Martin Keegan has identified him as Peter Kyle, Labour.

I created a YouTube channel for myself specifically in order to add this list of names to the Brexit Betrayal montage. If you are on YouTube and agree that putting names to faces for this montage of dishonest MPs is a useful thing to do, please consider liking my comment. It’s currently the most recent one.

A final thought: the only MP or ex-MP there whom I would exempt from the charge of dishonesty is David Cameron. He has many faults, including dishonesty on other matters, but so far as I know he has not tried to backtrack on the commitment to adhere to the result of the referendum he himself called, little though he liked the result.

I seek a software or sporting metaphor to explain why a second referendum would be wrong

When discussing Brexit I am often asked, not always disingenuously, “What is so wrong with having another referendum? Is not another vote more democratic by definition? Now that we know more, isn’t a good idea to check if people really do want to leave the European Union?”

I have been trying to think of a metaphor to explain what my objection to a second referendum is. The non-metaphorical explanation is that the government solemnly promised in the pamphlet sent to every household that whatever people voted for in the referendum of 23rd June 2016, “the government will implement what you decide”. A so-called democracy that will not allow certain results is a sham democracy.

(“Buuut,” comes the cry, “we aren’t disallowing any results. We’re just checking.”)

It was the European Union’s habit of ignoring or repeating referendums that gave the “wrong answer” which more than anything else turned me against it. I can truly say that even when it was in its infancy I foresaw that the trick of making a few cosmetic changes then running the referendum again would work devilishly well because it is difficult to describe in one sentence what is wrong with it. One can point out that it only ever seems to work one way: results of which the EU approves never seem to need to be confirmed. But to do that requires that you recite a whole chunk of history about Denmark and Ireland and the difference (clue: there wasn’t one) between the European Constitution and the Lisbon Treaty. If your interlocutor is young, as a lot of Europhiles are, then this is a lot to take in and a lot to take on trust.

I wish there were a quick, engaging story I could tell to show what I mean. Two possible types of anecdote occur to me, one from the world of sport and one from the world of computers. Being ignorant of both fields, I would like to ask readers if they know of anecdotes or examples from sporting history or computery stuff which would fit the bill.

Computers first: it infuriates me when the efforts of Microsoft or Samsung to get me to adopt their proprietary software seem almost to amount to harassment. I have a Samsung phone. One day this crappy thing called “Samsung internet” appeared on the front screen or whatever it’s called. I don’t recall that I ever asked for it but I cannot make it go away. To be honest I probably did ask for it in the sense that I once, once, failed to reject it on some occasion when some damn prompt asking me to take it popped up and I had to get rid of the pop-up quickly in order to get on with whatever I wanted to do.

That anecdote is probably wrong in its terminology. I may have been overly harsh to Samsung or its internet. The point is that this type of situation, where the user has to keep rejecting something that the software company is pushing, and if they slip up just once they are deemed to have accepted it, is widely recognized to be a right pain. Can anyone give me the words to make this a metaphor for why “neverendums” are a bad thing?

Or what about an example from the history of sport? Little though I know about sports, even I can see that there can be few things more frustrating for an athlete than to run the race of your life – and then have it announced that, “Oh, sorry, old chap, that was a false start. We’ll have to run it again.” This would be even worse if it were suspected that the sporting authorities had applied the rules in a partial manner. For instance there may have been times when white athletics officials were more prone to declare that a re-run was necessary if a black athlete won than if a white athlete did.

I may have described a similar situation regarding football in an earlier post I cannot find now.

Has this scenario actually happened? Dates, names and places please!

And if you know as little as I do of those two fields, how do you make the argument against a second referendum?

Or, if you prefer, what stories, anecdotes or metaphors do you use to argue in favour of a second referendum?

“Added impotence …”

Tweet of the day. That’s what Julia Hartley-Brewer says. She’s Tweeting about this Tweet:

Theresa May’s spokesman says the local election results “have given added impotence… I mean impetus,” to Brexit talks with Labour.

My position on Brexit is: I want it. As in: national legislative independence, no customs union, etc. I want Brexit in the way that the Brexit Party wants Brexit. As smooth as it can be but as unsmooth as it has to be.

But, my position on a Corbyn government is: I don’t want it. The second sentiment may well trump the first, for me, come the next general election. I don’t believe I’m the only one thinking like this. How odd that Corbyn and his pals, who have always wanted Britain out of the EU, may be the ones who end up keeping us in.

My hope is, if the Conservatives do now – to coin a phrase – succeed in failing to deliver the Brexit that they promised, that the Brexit Party will actually be a better bet than the Conservatives, come the next general election, to stop a Corbyn government. This because so many disappointed Labour Brexiters will be voting for the Brexit Party along with most of the formerly Conservative vote. So: No Corbyn government, actual Brexit. Two for two. I can hope.

Also: What if you are strongly pro-EU, but even more strongly anti-Corbyn. Might you also, in the circumstances just described, vote in a general election for the Brexit Party, if they looked like a better bet than the Conservatives to stop a Corbyn government? There presumably won’t be many such people, but maybe enough to make a difference.

Weird times.

A distant mirror

“Turkey officials order re-run of Istanbul election, voiding win for Erdogan opposition”, reports the Independent:

Turkish authorities on Monday ordered a redo of an election won by an opponent of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s political party, snatching away a major victory from the country’s opposition.

Under heavy pressure by Mr Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) Turkey’s High Election Commission (YSK), which is described as packed with the president’s loyalists, cancelled the results of 31 March Istanbul mayoral elections narrowly won by Ekrem Imamoglu, a rising star in the Turkish opposition.

The news was reported by Turkey’s state-run Anatolia News Agency. It sent the Turkish lira, already battered by inflation and high borrowing costs, tumbling.

Mr Imamoglu appearing before a crowd of supporters struck a defiant tone.
“We won this election by the hard work of millions of people; they attempted to steal our rightfully won elections,” he said. “We are thirsty for justice. The decision-makers in this country may be in a state unawareness, error or even treason, but we will never give up.”

The Times has also reported on this story: “Election chiefs order re-run of Istanbul poll Erdogan lost”.

Imamoglu, the secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate who won the March 31 poll by 14,000 votes, of the office and duties that he had already assumed.

In a statement to crowds waving Turkish flags in the city’s Beylikduzu district hours after the announcement was made, Mr Imamoglu, 48, urged his supporters to “stand up against what you know to be immoral”.

Street protests broke out across the middle-class, secular neighbourhoods of Istanbul where support for Mr Imamoglu and his party runs highest.

The Guardian has followed Mr Imamoglu’s rise closely in recent months, not surprising given that Mr Imamoglu is a liberal secularist standing up for democracy against the Islamist demagagogue Erdoğan. For instance this admiring profile of Mr Imamoglu by Bethan McKernan appeared last month: “Ekrem İmamoğlu: a unifying political force to take on Erdoğan”. As it usually is, the Guardian‘s straight reporting of the story that the election is to be run again is fair enough: “Outcry as Turkey orders rerun of Istanbul mayoral election”. But something tells me that the newspaper’s liberal, secularist columnists may not leap with their customary vigour to defend Mr Imamoglu’s hard-won democratic victory against those in power who would use their control of procedure to make him fight it again. On the other hand, perhaps I am too pessimistic. They are all devotedly pro-EU, after all, and the left-wing MEP who might be thought of as the European Union’s spokesperson on Turkish affairs has spoken clearly and well:

Kati Piri, the European parliament’s Turkey rapporteur, said the decision “ends the credibility of democratic transition of power through elections” in the country.

Chinese tech, Five Eyes, and The British Establishment

The UK government led by Theresa May really is quite something, is it not?

Huawei is already embedded in Britain’s elite: in 2015 it appointed to head its UK board Lord Browne, the former chair of BP, who was ennobled by Tony Blair’s administration and served David Cameron too. At the same time, it appointed to its UK board as non-executive dierectors Dame Helen Alexander, formerly leader of the EU-loving Economist Group and Confederation of British Industry (now deceased), and Sir Andrew Cahn, a former civil servant who resigned from Cameron’s Trade and Investment Department in 2011 in order to chair Huawei’s new British advisory board.

May’s government is sacrificing national security, the special relationship, and Brexit in favour of Chinese money and EU integration.

The article is written by some chap called Bruce Newsome, and it makes a good deal of sense. Even if you are sceptical of some of his points about how accountable US intelligence operations are (not very, judging by what has been going on vis a vis Mr Trump) its contention that it makes more sense to trust the US rather than China seems correct to me. This current government is endangering the UK’s long-standing intelligence co-operation under the “Five Eyes” pact with the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. And it is being done by a government that failed to deliver on taking the UK out of the EU by 29 March, giving comfort to those who still dream of taking the UK more fully into a developing European state with its own military command structure, at odds, as it will inevitably be, with NATO.

The rollout of a 5-G network in the UK will, hopefully, bring major benefits to users, but you don’t need to watch a lot of scary thrillers to understand the risks in getting a firm involved that is so closely embedded with the Chinese state. (Sure, many Western firms are also embedded in their respective states, so it comes down to a judgement call on which states are less evil, and I think I know the answer to that).

Even those of an anarchist/minarchist turn of mind when it comes to intra-government intelligence sharing processes ought to worry that the UK seems keener to do deals with Chinese state-backed tech firms than protect an alliance that helped to win the Cold War. Such matters should not be discussed behind closed doors of government, but be out in the open.

As far as Theresa May is concerned, my contempt for this individual has gone from gale warning to hurricane-force levels, with no signs of improvement soon.

A prominent Remainer from the media world gives of his wisdom

David Yelland is a public relations consultant and former editor of the Sun newspaper.

He blesses us with this tweet:

@davidyelland

So many, but not all, the leading Brexiters are unhealthy and don’t seem to care for themselves. So many, but not all, the leading Remainers are healthy in body, mind and soul. It applies right across the country. We smile, they are angry. #PeoplesVote

12:45 AM – 6 Apr 2019

Edit: And it’s gone. Because of Mr Yelland’s kindness:

Have deleted a Tweet earlier which was a tad unkind to some Brexiters. I do think there is a deep unhappiness in the country which fed the Leave campaign but there’s enough conflict out there without me adding to it.

Someone called “Techboy” ensured that Mr Yelland’s original words were preserved for posterity.