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]

Suicidal logic

Theresa May said the appointment of Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price to the new role [Minister for Suicide Prevention] will help tackle the stigma surrounding suicide. While suicide rates are falling, 4500 people commit suicide every year. (BBC Text News this morning)

Creating a new role to solve a problem that is diminishing anyway may seem like a clever move to a politician, but I’m not so sure. If Minister Jackie Doyle-Price removes enough of the ‘stigma’ surrounding suicide, might the rate start rising again?

Of course, that might not be so much of a problem, politically. Back in the 70s Labour appointed a Minister for Drought after a long spell of dry weather. The heavens then opened – and he was reappointed Minister for Floods. When Jackie Doyle-Price has removed enough of the stigma surrounding suicide that you can get euthanasia on the NHS, perhaps she’ll be reappointed the Minister for Assisted Suicide.

Meanwhile, what does one make of Theresa May saying that there are too many suicides so we must remove the ‘stigma’ surrounding it. Should I assume that in the past, when I thought she was “thick as a brick”, I really hadn’t grasped how stupid she was. Or should I, more charitably, assume the PM reads (and signs?) whatever her civil servants put in front of her without thinking about it, while worrying every day “How long have I yet to live?” (politically).

Thinking outside the box

According to its website the responsibilities of the Scottish government include the economy, education, health, justice, rural affairs, housing, environment, equal opportunities, consumer advocacy and advice, transport, taxation, and ensuring that Shetland only appears on maps of Scotland as an indecipherably tiny smudge in the top right corner.

Ban on putting Shetland in a box on maps comes into force

New rules barring public bodies from putting Shetland in a box on official documents have come into force.

Islands MSP Tavish Scott had sought to change the law to ban the “geographical mistake” which “irks” locals, by amending the Islands (Scotland) Bill.

The bill’s “mapping requirement” has now come into force, although it does give bodies a get-out clause if they provide reasons why a box must be used.

Mapmakers argue that boxes help avoid “publishing maps which are mostly sea”.

A couple of points: (1) Tavish Scott MSP is a Lib Dem, proof that the Scottish National Party is not the only one in contention for a Holyrood Comedy Award. (2) the “ban” only applies to public bodies, so no need to get outraged about free speech. Yet. These “bans” do have a way of being trialled in the public sector before being unleashed on the actual public. For now, however, I think a more appropriate reaction is gratitude for the good laugh Mr Scott is giving us. And his comedy routine is not over yet:

Mr Scott said it was “ridiculous” that he had to change the law to close the box

True, but not in the way that he means.

He said: “There is no excuse now for the Scottish government, its agencies or others to put Shetland in a box. The box is closed. It doesn’t exist, whether that be in the Moray Firth or east of Orkney. Shetland is now in the right place.

This box is no more. It has ceased to be. It is … an ex-box.

Samizdata quote of the day

To take an example, many students in universities and employees at Google take bias training courses that tell them “white privilege” and “systemic racism” explain disparities in outcomes between groups, despite the fact that—to take one example—Asian Americans from China and India (‘people of color’) make more money and are incarcerated at lower rates than whites. According to the conspiratorial worldview of many faculty in grievance studies departments, citing statistics and making arguments that go against the privilege narrative proves that you have an unconscious bias against minorities, and that you’re probably a white supremacist.

Jonathan Anomaly, who is not only a smart chap but has quite possibly the greatest name ever.

In order of priority

“Comicsgate is the latest front in the ongoing culture wars”, writes J A Micheline in the… I don’t really need to say it, do I?

The results of both the Brexit referendum and the 2016 US presidential election relied heavily (if not, solely) on the narrative of white loss and the tears of the white working class – while conveniently eliding the needs of working-class people of colour and what they stood to lose.

How can such events be combated? How can they be undone? But these are the wrong questions. Merely combating or undoing Comicsgate, Brexit, and the flourishing of American fascism is not enough.

The great battles of our time.

An astonishingly ignorant Cabinet Minister?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What could have caused the crisis in Venezuela? It is a total mystery

It was tides. No, chemtrails. Or Trump? No, Jews, you can never go wrong blaming Jews. Or maybe it was just ‘bad luck‘. Or perhaps Brexit? Ah, it was global warming! Yes, global warming is what stymied the wise policies of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela. For sure.

Perry de Havilland, helpfully providing feedback when a thoughtful fellow on Twitter suggested we need to figure out what caused the crisis in Venezuela.

Conservation of prohibitionism

July 1st 2018:

Jeremy Corbyn backs calls to decriminalise possession of cannabis

Jeremy Corbyn said he would like to see the possession of cannabis to be decriminalised as he backed calls for the drug to be used for medicinal purposes.

July 10th 2018:

Corbyn backs Nordic Model to tackle sexual exploitation

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn declared his full support for Britain to look at changing our prostitution laws by criminalising the purchase of sex, also referred to as the ‘Nordic model’.

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.

Tomorrow the People go forth

If you find yourself in London tomorrow, you can go on the March for a People’s Vote.

On the 23rd of June, we will march to Parliament Square to demand a vote on the final Brexit deal. Join us, for this historic event!

Remember this is the march for a People‘s Vote. The last one didn’t have enough proper people taking part.

Not enough people to exploit too much

Thanks to Brexit fruit is going to be left to rot in the fields. How can we cope without a reliable supply of cheap foreign labour and zero-hours contracts to cover the seasonal summer work? All this will push the cost onto society in the form of more expensive grocery bills.

Meanwhile, those evil Capitalists at Amazon are exploiting cheap labour and forcing people to work zero-hours contracts to cover the seasonal winter work, pushing the cost onto society in the form of tax credits.

This 1 weird trick will solve your crime problem

Knives are too sharp and filing them down is solution to soaring violent crime, judge says.

Sage advice…

I have discovered a source of wisdom on the internet (no, really 😉 ) and I am reliably informed that the blessed Theresa herself has been known to solicit advice from the famed Agatha Antigone.