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]

Grooming gangs In Rochdale and Rotherham raped with impunity and you won’t believe why!

I really should not have laughed out loud when reading an article by regular Times columnist Jenni Russell entitled “Women victims still can’t get a fair hearing”. These are serious matters. Judge me not; this bit would get a laugh out of a stone:

Even men without high standing tend to be seen as more credible than the women they attack. That’s why grooming gangs in Rochdale, Rotherham and many other towns could rape girls with impunity over years, as police and social services dismissed it. “Believe the men,” has always been the instinctive, effective, protective response of the male-dominated power structure.

The grooming gangs in Rochdale and Rotherham had an “identity” trump card all right, one that sent the police and social services scurrying away with their tails between their legs. And it did begin with M. Perhaps Ms Russell could ask her Times colleague Andrew Norfolk what the following letters were?

The rest of the article is about US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, recently accused of attempting to rape Christine Blasey Ford thirty-six years ago when he was seventeen and she was fifteen. She made this claim a couple of months ago in a letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein (D). However it seems to have slipped Senator Feinstein’s mind to bring the issue up during the weeks of nomination hearings convened for the express purpose of assessing Kavanaugh’s suitability to be a Supreme Court judge. As this letter (Hat tip: Instapundit) from the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Chuck Grassley, says,

There were numerous opportunities to raise the serious allegations made in the letter during the course of this nomination process.They could have been raised in your closed-door meeting with Judge Kavanaugh on August 20.Sixty-four other senators also met with Judge Kavanaugh prior to his confirmation hearing. These senators could have asked Judge Kavanaugh about these allegations if you had shared the letter.

Your staff could have raised these allegations during routine background investigation phone calls in late-August. Questions about these allegations could have been asked of Judge Kavanaugh during his more than 32 hours of testimony before the Committee over the course of three days. You could have asked him about these allegations during the closed session of his confirmation hearing, where sensitive material can be discussed. But you did not attend the closed session. Finally, these allegations could have been addressed in one of the nearly 1,300 written questions issued to him after the hearing-more written questions to any Supreme Court nominee than all prior Supreme Court nominees combined.

Fortunately Senator Feinstein did eventually remember to bring up this allegation, just in time. Funny how that happens, isn’t it? It’s like the way I only just remembered to tell you about the rest of Jenni Russell’s article in the Times for the benefit of those who don’t have a subscription. It did make one point with which all should agree. Professor Ford has been subjected to harassment and threats. These should be treated like the crimes they are. Apart from that, well, let us say that the evidence for Jenni Russell’s instinctive, effective, protective response being “Believe the women” is a great deal stronger than the evidence that the Muslim grooming gangs in Rochdale and Rotherham raped with impunity because they were men. Russell writes,

Dr Ford’s life has been shipwrecked. She has had so many death threats that she has had to go into hiding, take leave of absence from work, send her children away and employ security guards. No such danger has troubled Kavanaugh, who has a security detail provided by the state and whose wife has been giving out cupcakes to the camera crews outside their house.

No such danger has troubled Kavaugh? Given how close left winger James T. Hodgkinson came to killing House Majority Whip Steve Scalise in his attempt to massacre as many Republicans as he could at a charity baseball game between politicians, I would not dismiss the danger so lightly. And of course, Kavanaugh’s wife handing out cupcakes shows how untroubled she is at having her husband accused of rape. Why should that trouble her? Why should it trouble him? How can they be treated unjustly? They’re Republicans!

Samizdata quote of the day

The correct answer is that the BBC can go boil their heads.

Tim Worstall

“The European Commission only has to win once”

Following on from Johnathan Pearce’s recent post about the EU Copyright Directive, I found this comment by a user called Ask_Me_Who in Reddit Europe. It dates from the first turn of the ratchet, back in June, but in the light of what has happened since it is more relevant than ever:

MEP’s can not create, amend, or reject proposals. They can act as a method of slowing them, requesting changes or rethinks of proposed policies, but if the other (unelected) parts of the EU want to force through a proposal they can just keep pushing it until it gets through in the knowledge that elected MEP’s will not have the power to propose future updates, changes, or abolition of legislation.

The European Commission only has to win once and it can never be repealed without the European Commission wishing it so. The people, as represented by elected MEP officials, have to win every time as they do not even have the option to vote in representatives to reverse a decision. This is the ‘democratic deficit’ that even pro-EU supporters widely acknowledge when they call for democratic reforms to the MEP system.

If you want to bring up the UK, the European Parliament works similarly to the House of Lords. The difference being that the Lord’s have been deliberately striped of much of their power specifically because they do not represent the people, while the MEP’s have never been given the power needed to actually represent the people.

EDIT- And if you think that’s depressing, since the Treaty of Lisbon (2007) lobbying has been an officially recognised and encouraged part of MEP’s decision process under the re-brand “European interest representation”. 30% of former MEP’s go on to work as lobbyists for major industries. Yeah, the people who only have to slip up once can accept weekly fancy dinners and then go on to make €€€ working for companies who give zero shits about what general public’s well-being.

Another example of the EU ratchet in action. No wonder they adopted the use of the neverendum so readily.

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.

A Labour MP who won’t let Theresa May beat her on authoritarianism

Lucy Powell MP has taken to the pages of the Guardian to tell us “Why I am seeking to stamp out online echo chambers of hate”.

She writes,

Closed forums on Facebook allow hateful views to spread unchallenged among terrifyingly large groups. My bill would change that.

and

Because these closed forums can be given a “secret” setting, they can be hidden away from everyone but their members. This locks out the police, intelligence services and charities that could otherwise engage with the groups and correct disinformation. This could be particularly crucial with groups where parents are told not to vaccinate their children against diseases.

Here is a video of Powell talking about her proposal.

Her Private Member’s Bill, like all Private Member’s Bills, has very little chance of passing. But it has cross-party support. Nicky Morgan, Anna Soubry and David Lammy all count as members of the permanent ruling coalition, but I had thought better of Jacob Rees-Mogg.

If it did pass, I can see no logical reason not to extend its provisions to ban private face-to-face conversations. Why should the mere fact that the hate speech is conveyed by sound rather than text make any difference? Dangerous physical proximity allows the doings of these groups to be even more effectively hidden away from anyone but their members. These groups meeting in people’s living rooms literally lock out the police, intelligence services and charities that could otherwise engage with them and correct disinformation.

Moderation is often not the best policy

“It’s a crowded space, this search for the so called moderate centre ground. It is defined as going back to Brussels, saying we are sorry for ever thinking of leaving, and accepting the full swathe of laws, taxes, budgets and common policies that characterise the modern EU. What ever is either moderate or democratic about such an agenda? How is it democratic for more and more laws to be made behind closed doors, drafted by officials we cannot sack or make accountable, and approved by Ministers from 27 countries under pressure not to rock the boat? What is liberal about the austerity policies of the EU’s budget controls, requiring higher taxes, lower spending and lower deficits from countries mired in unemployment in the south and west of the EU? How is the EU’s policy of helping pay for Turkey’s heavily defended borders with the Middle East moderate? What is green about the fishing discard policy or the dash for diesel and the reliance on coal for power by Germany? Why does everything proposed by the EU get through without a whisper of criticism? When will they apologise for the huge damage the Exchange Rate Mechanism did to the livelihoods and businesses of many in the UK, or for the revenge the Euro crisis visited on Cyprus, Greece, Ireland and Spain?”

John Redwood.

A very good article, even if you might not agree with all of Mr Redwood’s politics. His observation that “moderate” Labour MPs (they still want to seize private property, tax us up to the neck and so on) are caught between understandable loathing of Mr Corbyn, and their own foolish Europhilia, is very well made.

As Mr Redwood said, there’s nothing “moderate” about defending a creaking customs union, unaccountable bureaucracy, etc. But then what really does this sort of “moderation” really mean? I’m reminded of Ayn Rand’s excellent essay, The Wreckage of the Consensus, where she pointed to the foolishness of imagining that wisdom is to be found in some sort of “middle” between some sort of polar opposites.

Take another case: We are sometimes told to take “a moderate amount of exercise” when, in fact, what we might want to do for better health is high intensity interval training, for instance, or heavy lifting with barbells, rather than messing around by jogging a short distance (and buggering up one’s knees and back, by the way). Sometimes the “moderate” course isn’t really a course at all, but a sort of cop-out.

Back to the subject of Mr Redwood’s post, it reminds me that the voice of genuine political liberalism, to use that fine old word, has been quiet for a very long time in the UK. There appears zero chance of it being encouraged by the current Liberal Democrat Party, which even before its demise, was scarcely connected to the great traditions of Cobden, Gladstone or, even in a more recent example, the late Jo Grimmond.

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.

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.

Samizdata quote of the day

Leave means leave

Marina Wheeler

Strange companions on the boat to Canada

ITV’s Political Editor Robert Peston says,

David Davis may win his Canada-style Brexit deal

David Davis may have won.

What do I mean?

Well I am hearing from multiple sources that the only trade deal the EU’s lead negotiator Michel Barnier will countenance is Davis’s cherished Free Trade Agreement, what he called Canada Plus, rather than any version of May’s Chequers plan.

Here for example is the debrief of an MP on the Brexit select committee chaired by Hilary Benn, who met Barnier yesterday in Brussels:

“Remarkable how dismissive Barnier was of the two central pillars of Chequers – customs and common rule book for goods. It’s not a matter of how it will fare in Parliament. It won’t be agreed by the EU. We are back to Canada-style FTA”.

The Brexiters on the select committee are ecstatic; the Remainers are in abject despair. And to be clear, Barnier was not putting on a special act for British MPs. I am hearing exactly the same about him from Brussels and EU sources.

Now when he was Brexit secretary, Davis came in for a lot of stick, not least from his own ministerial and civil-servant colleagues, for not being ambitious or diligent enough when negotiating with Barnier – and in the end May and her senior Whitehall adviser on Brexit Olly Robbins went round the back of him and came up with their own Brexit plan. Which prompted David to quit.

But for more than two years he told me a Canada-style arrangement was the only realistic proposition. And it looks as though he was right.

Another well-placed source sees what is happening as an extraordinary but powerful alliance between the EU purists and zealots represented by Barnier and the Tories’ True Brexiters of Davis, Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and the European Research Group.

Odd bedfellows and strange alliances have always fascinated me. Tell me your tales of them, from history, fiction, politics or your own lives. Oh, and if you want to, talk about how or if Brexit is gonna happen, too.

The UK imitates Red China’s ‘Social Credit’ with the ‘Honours’ system

Red China has, like the mature totalitarian society that it is, a system of ‘Social Credit‘, as Wikipedia puts it neatly:

The system is a form of mass surveillance which uses big data analysis technology.

The excellent YT channel, China Uncensored, has a video on this system.

Of course, the UK has nothing like this yet, everything with the State is a little bit feeble and almost useless, for now. But a little chink in the armour of our free society has appeared. The UK ‘Honours System’, we now know, depends on you not being in the ‘bad books’ of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (which combines the Inland Revenue – personal and corporate taxation, with Customs and Excise). Note that it is not that you have to commit a criminal offence or even a civil transgression with your taxes, it is enough that you be under suspicion of avoiding paying tax lawfully.

HM Revenue and Customs’ reported policy of advising against giving honours to tax-avoiding celebrities has been backed by Sir Vince Cable.
Celebrities who use lawful but controversial schemes are being “blacklisted” to protect the reputation of the honours list, says the Times.
A Freedom of Information request showed a traffic light system was used to identify an individual’s suitability.
The Liberal Democrat leader said HMRC’s tough stance was perfectly reasonable.
“The principle is right, I think the public is fed up with abusive tax avoidance by individuals and companies,” Sir Vince told the BBC.
He said: “It seems perfectly reasonable to me that the Inland Revenue should be taking a tough line on tax avoidance.”
Sir Vince, a former business secretary, added that some celebrities may “wonder why they’ve been caught up in it” as they may be unaware they have been involved in “aggressive tax avoidance” because accountants handle their affairs.

And how does this work?

HMRC analyses nominees for honours to check the risk of them being exposed over their tax affairs.
The FOI response revealed that people are categorised as green if they are low risk, amber for medium risk and red for high risk.

My first objection to this is that ‘Honours’ don’t exist, except as bits of ribbon, metal and enamel etc. There is the ludicrous fantasy that the Sovereign can spot ‘worthy’ individuals and somehow bestow ‘honours’ on them. What happens is, of course, that some people write someone’s name on a list, hand over a bit of painted metal and a ribbon and that person becomes honoured. If there is a scientific test that can tell me how someone changes when they receive an ‘honour’, and that this is not a voluntaristic fantasy, I’d be happy to hear about it.

My second objection to this is that is the law of England (and indeed the UK) that no one is obliged to pay more tax than that properly due. Unless I am very much mistaken, this is the law of the land still (edit See Mary C’s helpful comment); the case of The Commissioners of Inland Revenue v The Duke of Westminster established, in 1935, under George V, the following from Lord Tomlin’s speech in the majority:

Apart, however, from the question of contract with which I have dealt, it is said that in revenue cases there is a doctrine that the Court may ignore the legal position and regard what is called “the substance of the matter,” and that here the substance of the matter is that the annuitant was serving the Duke for something equal to his former salary or wages, and that therefore, while he is so serving, the annuity must be treated as salary or wages. This supposed doctrine (upon which the Commissioners apparently acted) seems to rest for its support upon a misunderstanding of language used in some earlier cases. The sooner this misunderstanding is dispelled, and the supposed doctrine given its quietus, the better it will be for all concerned, for the doctrine seems to involve substituting “the incertain and crooked cord of discretion” for “the golden and streight metwand of the law.” 4 Inst 41 Every man is entitled if he can to order his affairs so as that the tax attaching under the appropriate Acts is less than it otherwise would be. If he succeeds in ordering them so as to secure this result, then, however unappreciative the Commissioners of Inland Revenue or his fellow taxpayers may be of his ingenuity, he cannot be compelled to pay an increased tax. This so-called doctrine of “the substance” seems to me to be nothing more than an attempt to make a man pay notwithstanding that he has so ordered his affairs that the amount of tax sought from him is not legally claimable.

So even if you pay all taxes properly due under the law, you (or your accountant) might have been too clever by half, and you might have kept some of your own money, how is that wrong? I’m sorry, but I thought that King John no longer reigned. After all, if people pay more tax than they are due as a condition of getting an honour, isn’t that paying for them? Wasn’t Maundy Gregory put in jail for that?

My third objection to this is that an individual’s tax affairs are private, here is the declaration that Revenue Officers and Inspectors are required to make on taking up their positions:

Part III
Inspectors, Collectors and other Officers

” I, A.B., do solemnly declare that I will not disclose any information received by me in the execution of the duties which may from time to time be assigned to me by the Board of Inland Revenue except for the purposes of my duties, or to the Board of Inland Revenue or in accordance with their instructions, or for the purposes of any prosecution for an offence relating to inland revenue, or in such other cases as may be required by law.”

I fail to see how giving a nudge or a wink about someone’s affairs can be reconciled with this requirement, especially when it’s about them having followed the law all and having been smarter than the politicians and tax bureaucrats.

It has long been the case that the rule of law has died in this country, and some of our politicians have even boasted about it.

Isn’t it time to stick a fork in the ludicrous Honours system, and stop pretending? Most are not even decided on by the Queen, but by bureaucrats, at your expense. Even better, stick a fork in our tax system and acknowledge that paying as little tax as possible the honourable thing to do.

Samizdata quote of the day

We’ve a new little report, piece of scientific research, telling us that cheese and red meat are good for us. This in entire opposition to everything governments have been telling us about diet for decades now. This telling us that government is a seriously bad way of doing anything.

Sure, of course, humans are wrong, most humans are wrong a lot of the time. The problem with government being that when that wrongness gets propagated by our rulers it becomes the established fact. Meaning that we’re all affected by it, there is none of that natural variability of error which protects some and harms others. We all become subject to the error that is

Tim Worstall