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]

Calm down, dear

I had planned a day of rest with perhaps a little light blogging about kittens. You’re all probably sick of me going on about Brexit. I’m sick of me going on about Brexit. But the latest article from our old friend Baron Heseltine, Companion of Honour, Member of the Privy Council and Lord of the Jungle, is something you need to hear.

But it is in the next phase of negotiations that the details of the UK’s future relationship with the EU will be fleshed out. Depending on what happens in those negotiations, either we will see virtually no change to our current status – in which case, what is the point of leaving? Or, as is much more likely, the Brexiteers will demand significant changes to reflect their own views – views that will appal and frighten much of the electorate when they realise the enormity of what is being done. In essence, Brexiteers want to dismantle much of what we regard as the underpinning of civilised life in the modern world.

He is but the latest prophet to issue this warning. The prophet Tusk spoke thus before the referendum, but the people heeded him not.

Samizdata misheard remark of the year

Venue: a very noisy Adam Smith Institute gathering at the House of Lord a few days ago.

Her: Putin and Trump are in favour of Brexit, does that make you question your support?
Me: Hitler liked dogs, should that make dog owners question their choice of pets?
Her: Fair point, like me Hitler was a libertarian.
Me: Um… what? Hitler was a… libertarian?
Her: Vegetarian!
Me: Ah. It is rather noisy here.

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?

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the Kitchener?

The British Army continues to morph into the Blairmacht, it seems. Its new recruitment posters had me thinking that I had fallen into a coma and woken up a few days after our glorious independence due on 29th March. Here is what I mean: ‘The Army targets ‘snowflake’ millennials‘ (as recruits, not legitimate uses for ammo).

The posters, taken as fair use:

and this:

Now there are two possibilities I see here, not mutually exclusive, the less likely that someone is trolling the MoD and being paid for it, and the other is that someone is being paid for it.

Still, as posters go, I would grant that it is better than this blatant mickey-take.

And in terms of assuring the civil population that the Army is no threat, it doesn’t really beat this, but I do wonder if the thinking behind the current Army it is more similar to what produced this.

And we should remember that for some British Army recruits, the heat is not the problem, but the cold may be:

A soldier from Africa is suing the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for £150,000, claiming they failed to protect him from cold weather conditions.

“Mr Asiamah told the High Court his superiors had neglected to warn him to bring warm kit such as gloves, socks, and boots ahead of the exercise, which he said took place one week after he was forced to spend five hours listening to lectures in cold weather while dressed in civilian clothing in Naseby, Northamptonshire.”

Naseby, the Civil War, what would Prince Rupert or Halifax say?

But, may I remind you, it is the law of England that the categories of negligence are never closed…

His legal team argues officers exposed Mr Asiamah to the uncomfortable conditions despite knowing Africans are more susceptible to cold-related conditions, according to court papers which quote a 2009 military study which found soldiers of African origin were 30 times more likely to suffer cold-related injuries than indigenous Europeans.

AFAIK, the case continues… What would Field Marshal the Earl (Horatio Herbert) Kitchener say were he spinning in his cold, watery grave? That Wing Cdr Ken Gatward DSO DFC* AE was named for him, and lived up to it, might give one pause for thought.

Glory be, the solution is found!

“A citizens’ assembly could break the politicians’ Brexit deadlock”, says a bevy of the great and good.

Remainer strategy:

1) Campaign for a REAL referendum on Europe.

2) When you lose the referendum, spend two and a half years complaining that it was nothing but a “glorified opinion poll.”

3) Campaign for a REAL glorified opinion poll.

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’.