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]

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’.

Get them while they’re young

The Courier reports:

Scottish Government asks eight-year-olds to reveal their Brexit views

The Scottish Government is appealing to children as young as eight to share their views on Brexit.

Critics branded the Twitter plea for youngsters to “work with” the government on a Europe panel “creepy”.

But the SNP administration defended the move as giving those who will be most affected by leaving the EU a “voice in the Brexit negotiations”.

The call by the Twitter account ScotGovEurope said: “Are you aged 8 – 18? Children and young people in Scotland are going to be affected by #Brexit, so we want your views!

“Apply to join the @cisweb Children & Young People’s Panel on Europe to work with @scotgov.”

It sparked claims that SNP ministers are trying to indoctrinate children on the constitution.

The charity says that young people have a “right to be heard in the discussions about Brexit”, which they say is backed up by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Brexit is the single biggest threat to our economy and future prosperity, and children and young people will be most affected in the coming years.

“We are therefore supporting Children in Scotland to establish the children and young people’s panel on Europe and enable them to have a voice in the Brexit negotiations.”

Here’s where you can apply to join the Panel, but first they recommend that you ask yourself

Is the project for me?

This project might be for you if you like standing up for the things you believe in, and
talking about:
• What Brexit might mean for your family and friends
• What people in charge should be doing to help children
• What rules people in charge should follow when they make
decisions about Brexit

I think we can safely say that most Samizdata readers qualify. However this one might be more tricky:

• Why children should have their say on Brexit

The question of whether those who think that children should not have their say on Brexit could or should join the Panel is left for the reader. Oh, I nearly forgot, to be eligible you do have to be aged between eight and eighteen. Reassuringly,

You don’t need to know much about Brexit to apply. We will share information with you to
help you to take part.

Samizdata quote of the day

“What all of this points to is a new kind of protest. There is a new generation for whom protesting is largely indistinguishable from a music festival. It has the same vibe, the same style, and the same constituency: the non-working classes, who define themselves through culture rather than labour, and who see themselves as having more in common with global technocratic institutions like the EU than they do with some of the people who live in their own towns (but on the other side of the tracks). If this is radicalism – which it isn’t – then it is passive radicalism. It is an entirely contradictory phenomenon, where on the one hand protesters are telling us actual Nazism is making a comeback, but on the other hand they’re not going to do anything about it except chill out in Trafalgar Square and post to Instagram a photo of them and their friends holding a ‘FUCK TRUMP’ placard.”

Brendan O’Neill

I avoided all this dreck by spending the weekend in South Devon, drinking local beer, swimming in the sea and walking on the hills above, with no internet access, no TV (which meant not watching the World Cup final). Heaven.

Elon Musk just made a lot of enemies in Britain

There is a lot to admire about Elon Musk. I thought the space car was glorious. The whimsicality of it, which so many objected to, delighted me.

It is sad that Mr Musk has now shown that his whims can take a nastier turn.

British cave diver considering legal action over Elon Musk’s ‘pedo’ attack

A British cave diver who was instrumental in the rescue of 12 children trapped in a northern Thailand cave says he is considering legal action after the inventor Elon Musk called him a “pedo” on Twitter.

Vernon Unsworth told the Guardian on Monday he was “astonished and very angry” at the attack, for which Musk offered no evidence or basis. The billionaire initially doubled down on the comments made on social media, but has since deleted them.

Apparently it started when Mr Unsworth was rude about Mr Musk’s offer of his mini-submarine to help in the rescue:

Previously, Unsworth had described Musk’s offer to help the rescue effort as a “PR stunt”, and had told CNN Musk could “stick his submarine where it hurts”.

If nothing else had been said, my sympathies would have been with Mr Musk. Even if it was something of PR stunt, I am sure Musk did genuinely want to help save lives. Still, I dare say tempers often flare in these high pressure situations. One man’s praiseworthy offer of aid can be another’s dangerous distraction from an urgent task.

However then Mr Musk went on to call Mr Unsworth a “pedo”, not just once – in which case it might have been written off as a random zero-content insult like calling someone a “bastard” when you neither know nor care whether their parents were legally married – but repeatedly. Mr Musk’s “evidence” for this allegation out a blue sky was that Mr Unsworth is a white guy living in Thailand. Musk said that that in itself was “sus”, meaning suspicious.

Angry comments are coming thick and fast to the Times article “Thai boys’ rescuer Vern Unsworth could sue Elon Musk over paedophile smear”. If even a fraction of those commenting on the Times website and those of other British newspapers who have said that they are about to cancel their Tesla order follow through with it, Musk’s UK operation could be in real trouble. That comes on top of the doubts already raised about the company by Tesla’s failure to live up to some of Musk’s earlier extravagant promises. For all the fame of the brand, the number of Tesla electric cars in the UK is still only in the low thousands, and Times subscribers are exactly the sort of people who would be most likely to buy them.

Charismatic individuals can push forward scientific innovation. They can also screw up big time.

Is it time for Parliament to dust off impeachment?

Our friends in the rebellious Colonies have the still active remedy of impeachment for those in office who, one might say, go off the rails, and other remedies as well. In the UK, impeachment is now considered ‘obsolete’ as a means of removing Crown officials, but ‘obsolete’ does not mean ‘defunct’:

As a House of Commons Paper puts it (in the link at the bottom to the pdf.):

It was a medieval means of removing the protection given to a royal servant whom the Commons found objectionable but could not otherwise persuade the Crown to dismiss.

Of course, different parts of the Commons may find the current First Lord of the Treasury ‘objectionable’ for widely varying reasons, either that she is not an avowed openly Marxist destroyer, or that she is simply a ‘Tory’, or that she is far from satisfactory in terms of her integrity.

But we appear for now to be in a situation where neither a vote of no confidence in the House of Commons on Mrs May’s government, nor a vote in her Party via the 1922 Committee in her as a leader, appear to be imminent or practicable.

As the Commons briefing paper notes:

No Prime Minister has ever been impeached. Ministers have been impeached, but those instances occurred before the modern concept of the Cabinet was established.

The first edition of Erskine May, published in 1844, describes impeachment as: “the commons, as a great representative inquest of the nation, first find the crime and then, as prosecutors, support their charge before the lords; while the lords exercising at once the functions of a high court of justice and of a jury, try and also adjudicate upon the charge preferred”.

Let us look at some of the criticisms of impeachment:

Impeachment operated in an era when Parliament and the courts had very limited oversight of government power. Different mechanisms have developed in modern politics to allow for the scrutiny of the executive. These include parliamentary questions, inquiries by select committees and independent committees of inquiry. The growth of the doctrine of collective cabinet responsibility, and the use of confidence motions have both contributed to the disuse of impeachments in modern times. Judicial review also now provides an effective check on the legality of the actions of public officials and government ministers. The impeachment process, last attempted in 1806, has not been revised to reflect the fundamental changes that have occurred in Parliament.

What use is a Parliamentary Question when the Prime Minister has misled the House and the Country for over 2 years? Who would trust an answer now?

Select Committees? All very well for getting some MPs to look at something in-depth, but when there is a cowpat in the Ballroom of State, the answer is steaming away in front of you for you and all your guests to see.

Collective Cabinet responsibility? The Cabinet largely remains in place, happy for this farce to carry on. They are not acting responsibly.

Confidence motions? As noted, there is a confidence motion procedure for the government, which due to the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act now has a cooling-off period, and it is not the government that is the major problem (although it is a big problem generally), but the leader of it.

Party confidence motions are internal matters, nothing to do with Parliament.

Judicial review: Sir Edward Coke left the Bench long ago. Judicial Review is not applicable to this sort of situation.

The beauty of impeaching the Prime Minister would be:

1. It would enjoy cross-party support, helping to ‘heal the wounds’ caused by the contentious issues we face 😉 .

2. It would leave the current Parliamentary composition intact. After all, it is removing a Crown Servant, not a Member of the House. Mrs May would remain an MP.

3. It would leave Mrs May as the unelected Leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party, and put her in the same situation as another notorious appeaser, Neville Chamberlain as leader of the Party and an MP but not Prime Minister. Not quite following the Joseph Chamberlain that she aspires to emulate, but as close as we can manage for now.

4. It would revive the prestige of Parliament, at a time when Mrs Battenberg’s presumed function of ‘to advise, encourage and to warn’ appears to be obsolete. After all, it has recently (in Constitutional timeframes) been used in the United States, an offspring jurisdiction of England, so why should it be ‘obsolete’? We may have reached the lacuna where the remedy has some use.

5. It would (or should) save us paying Mrs May a Prime Ministerial pension later on in a richly-deserved retirement. That will help to reduce our ballooning public sector pensions liabilities.

6 It would cement Mrs May’s place in history, whether or not the Lords were to convict.

Samizdata quote of the day

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

Kate Andrews

Samizdata quote of the day

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable

John F. Kennedy

I am not exactly a fan of the late JFK but I find this quote timely.

What Paddy Ashdown said when he thought Remain would win

Given the recent Brexit-related shenanigans, it seems appropriate to post this video showing what the former leader of the Liberal Democrats, Paddy Ashdown, said as the referendum votes were being counted but before the result was known.

“I will forgive no one who does not accept the sovereign voice of the British people once it has spoken, whether it is by one percent or twenty percent.”

Update: Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray very reasonably asked what Baron Ashdown is saying now. When he was asked last December if he remembered saying the words above, this was his response:

“The UK people voted for Brexit – but not this Brexit. Their vote has been hijacked by the extreme Brexiteers to support their own prejudices. This is not respecting the vote it is abusing the vote for extremist nonsense which damages the UK.”

The ‘Baby Trump over London’ balloon is being hailed as a triumph of freedom of expression…

And I agree, it is.

And so…

Let’s make ‘Giant Sadiq Khan ‘baby balloon to fly over London’ happen.

Works for me. I gave them some money.

This is how I see it…

The future in Britain is actually quite clear: either Theresa May gets deposed and we get a meaningful Brexit of some kind, or we get Prime Minister Corbyn by a big margin in the next election. It doesn’t matter if you think Brexit is good or bad, or want it to happen or not happen, the Referendum vote was what it was, and that is where we are now.

Corbyn cannot win on his own merits, but Theresa May can hand him victory by making the Tory vote largely implode. Only May can deliver the UK to Corbyn.

The government did not have to hold a referendum, it chose to for several reasons more to do with internal Tory politics than anything else. But it did hold one, and having done so whilst being really quite unambiguous about what the issue was…

… it cannot then effectively ignore the result without delegitimizing not just the party but the British state itself, with serious long term consequences for the very stability of our culture. May must go or a great many even worse things are going to happen, and I hope that is obvious to dispassionate observers on both sides of the actual vote.

Discussion point: what do the Tory resignations portend?

Boris Johnson quits to add to pressure on May over Brexit

David Davis and Steve Baker had resigned earlier.

What will happen with Brexit? Will May hold on?

Don’t ask me, ‘cos I’m asking you.

Mrs May’s ‘Brexit’ means ‘Anschluss’, if what Lawyers for Britain are saying is correct.

The good folk at Lawyers for Britain, (all donations welcome) led by Martin Howe QC, a nephew of Sir Geoffrey but we probably all have embarrassing uncles somewhere, have done a thorough preliminary analysis of Mrs May (the FFC)’s recent ‘Chequers’ Brexit proposals, the Chequers proposals are here. My summary (not Lawyers for Britain’s) is that, like Austria relegated to becoming the ‘Ostmark’ in 1938 in the Anschluss, it is more like becoming a Nazgûl in thrall to the Dark Lord than any form of independence. At least the Anschluss of 1938 was a blatant take-over, when this is meant to be independence.

Here are some key points, square brackets my addition:

the UK would be obliged to interpret these rules [for goods and agri-foods] in accordance with rulings of the ECJ under a system which would (whether directly or indirectly) bind UK courts to follow ECJ rulings. In areas where rules relating to goods are applied in a discretionary way under the control of EU regulatory bodies, it is inevitable that the application of the rules in the UK and UK regulatory bodies would continue to be bound by the decisions of EU bodies in the same way as if the UK were still a member state but without a vote or voice within those institutions. This would amount to a permanent vassal relationship in the area covered by the ‘common’ rulebook.

On changing our laws post-independence:

There is no indication in the text of the statement that the UK would have any ability to change any of the existing body of EU laws, however damaging they may be or become in the future – for example where restrictive EU laws block the development or deployment of new technology, such as in the biotech area where the UK has a huge opportunity to develop its leading industry and to sell its expertise and products around the world. In order supposedly to benefit the 12% of our economy which consists of exports to the EU, we would accept a binding obligation to freeze the laws which cover 100% of our economy consisting of domestic production and also imports from third countries

And this means of course, implementing EU law or face the consequences. “Fax Democracy” as it is called, yet so in effect independence is being transformed into loss of (pretty worthless) EU voting rights.

We also could not offer to recognise other countries’ systems for, e.g. food or drug safety, if importing from them, we’d have to apply EU rules to such products.

And of course, Mrs May commits us to maintain EU regulation, regardless of absurdity or impact, and perhaps letting the ECJ have the final say in UK law, a so-called ‘red line’.

Of even more concern is that the UK would agree “to maintain high regulatory standards for the environment, climate change, social and employment, and consumer protection – meaning we would not let standards fall below the current levels.” (Emphasis added). The problem with this is not a general requirement to maintain high standards, which we would want to do anyway, but the commitment not to let standards in these areas “fall below” current levels. Any changes to our rules in these areas which improve the competitiveness of UK industry would almost certainly be interpreted by the EU as allowing our standards to “fall below” current standards. This commitment is therefore an extremely dangerous one to undertake, particularly if it were linked to a binding enforcement mechanism and even more so if that binding mechanism ultimately becomes the ECJ

And for interpreting agreements, Mrs May puts us on a par with Moldova (but they generally have better wine).

Para 4(c): “consistent interpretation and application of UK-EU agreements” – putting the UK on a par with Moldova
12. This paragraph first states that the interpretation and application of UK- EU agreements would be done “in the UK by UK courts, and in the EU by EU courts.” This is what one would expect with any treaty arrangement.

But this comes with a grave note of caution:

13. However, it is important that this process should be mutually balanced (i.e that the ECJ and Member State courts should pay just as much attention to judgments of UK courts as vice versa), and absolutely essential that it be non-binding. Para 4(c) indicates that “due regard” will be paid to EU case law in “common rulebook” areas. This lacks mutuality – there is no suggestion that EU courts should pay “due regard” to UK courts, immediately unbalancing the relationship and placing UK courts in an inferior position.

Note that I am only summarising this piece, but it does look as if the Chequers document is either deluded or dishonest as to the extent to which the UK will have independence under this deal, which is, imposing on an independent country, a subordination to a foreign bureaucracy, without any mandate for taking such a step whatsoever. There is no mandate for any deal with the EU to make the UK subordinate to it, there is only a mandate for independence from the EU.

And finally, on the FCA ‘Facilitated Customs Arrangement’ for UK-EU trade (‘FCA’ – pronounced ‘FuCA’, rhymes with ‘Theresa’).

Para 4(d): “Facilitated Customs Arrangement”
22. This paragraph is very difficult to understand in the absence of any detail. However, the first and most obvious and indeed important point is that the attempted introduction of the “FCA” would cause significant delay before the UK can leave the EU customs union and choose to set its own tariffs, whether by unilaterally changing them or abolishing them against free trade partners. We are now already over two years after the referendum. It beggars belief that it should be contemplated that administrative issues about customs processes could be allowed to dictate the whole trading future of the UK by preventing us from implementing tariff changes even after the end of the implementation period (31 Dec 2020 – 41⁄2 years after the referendum). Yet this seems to be the message of this paragraph. This would be severely damaging to the political prospects of the government and of the Conservative Party, since it would remove the chance of giving tangible benefits of Brexit before the next general election to low income families by removing or lowering tariffs on goods, particularly those where the UK has no or limited producer interests to protect.

Quite.