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]

Samizdata quote of the day

Happy City UK are one of a whole host of astroturf groups supported by government in order to lobby government for more government.

– Perry de Havilland

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. 👍

“It was billed as the climate change election, and the climate lost.”

So says the first line of the Guardian‘s report on the unexpected victory of Scott Morrison’s Liberal-National Coalition party in the Australian federal election.

The election was framed as a great climate showdown. The Coalition has held power over a tumultuous six years, which has seen it topple two prime ministers and suffer from catastrophic infighting, largely over energy policy, as the party has been unable to agree on taking action on the climate crisis, or even agree as to its reality.

The Labor party, which proposed introducing a target of reducing emissions by 45% by 2030, said the difference between the parties’ policies on the climate crisis was “night and day, black and white”.

As I have said once or twice before, my level of belief in CAGW is two-and-a-half letters to the left of most people here. If you are curious, “CAGW” stands for Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming, though as of yesterday the Guardian‘s style guide has changed “Global warming” to “Global heating”. Yes, a rebranding exercise. All that is needed now is a shiny new logo and twitter handle and success is assured. After all it worked for The Independent Group Change UK The Remain Alliance For Change UK.

What with this result in Australia and the French gilets jaunes movement born out of anger at a carbon tax on fuel, does anyone else get the impression that the latest burst of upping the political ante on climate change works splendidly right up to the moment when it meets the voters?

For those who do truly believe that the peril of global warm.. heating is imminent and severe, it is time to get real. It is time to face the fact that drastic changes in lifestyle are necessary; that sacrifices are going to have to be made.

Yes, it is time to drop your enjoyable revolutionary delusions and face the fact that if climate change mitigation is to happen at all it will be done within the capitalist system.

A very British attitude to tax

Here is very British YouTuber Dr Jake explaining the tax implications of monetising a YouTube channel:

On having to pay an accountant, file paperwork for self-employment, spend hours finding and filing receipts, throw himself on the mercy of a Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs amnesty, pay hundreds of pounds in back-dated tax and spend hours every year filing paperwork so he can pay a large proportion of the small income he gets from his hobby business to the state, he says:

isn’t a huge amount of money […] not brilliant […] now I’m a law-abiding citizen […] at least I can sleep at night

I would go on an extended rant about the unseen consequences of all this, but as usual, even thinking about tax and its complications has sucked out all my enthusiasm for anything. I think I will go and have a cup of tea instead.

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.

Samizdata quote of the day

Stephen Fry isn’t part of the alt-right. Nobody in their right mind believes he is. Anybody who says something this stupid is just virtue-signaling, performatively reminding the other members of their tribe that they don’t belong to the other tribe. Their eagerness to be more #woke than the next guy and/or gal drives them to say idiotic things like, “Stephen Fry is a racist.”

Jim Treacher

Samizdata quote of the day

BBC should be abolished, not because of blatant bias but because the whole idea of a state broadcaster was a terrible idea on day 1 of the BBC’s existence. And in the internet age, it is now an anachronistic bad idea. Bin it entirely or at least make it voluntary subscription

– Perry de Havilland

Dominic Frisby needs another week to get the video up

I did the blogging equivalent of buying shares in Dominic Frisby quite a while ago now. More significantly, from Frisby’s point of view, Guido Fawkes has been boosting him, most recently by remembering this heartfelt ode to Nigel Farage. See also this other Brexit-related song by Frisby.

Now, it seems that another Frisby comic song is in the pipeline. Concerning this, Frisby tweets:

I’m now in the situation where I desperately don’t want Theresa May to resign because I have written a really funny song about it, and I need at least another week before I can get the video up.

Theresa, are you reading this? Of course you are. I know that you are planning to step down as Prime Minister any hour now, because you have been listening carefully to what people like this have been saying. But I urge you, Theresa, for the sake of your country’s Comedic Future (see above), to hang on in there for another week. Force yourself.

(Delingpole agrees.)

(This bloke, on the other hand …)

Samizdata quote of the day

In between the torturous Brexit process, May’s government has been busy implementing her interventionist vision. Take the minimum wage, first introduced by the Blair government in 1999, which the Tory party long ago dropped opposition to. But now, Chancellor Philip Hammond, supposedly a member of the more free-market wing of the party, is considering hiking the minimum wage from 59% to 66% of median earnings, which would make it the highest in the world and mean that a quarter of British workers would be paid a government mandated wage.
[…]
The rest of the supposedly Conservative Party has seemingly given up on these values, more concerned with virtue signalling and kowtowing to the latest politically correct fad.

– ‘Creative Destruction’ on The looming death of the Tory Party

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?

Moral blindness

“Danny Baker’s excuses don’t cut it – the impact of racism is inseparable from the intent”, writes Kuba Shand-Baptiste in the Independent. Or rather her headline writer does, since the headline claims that intentions matter deeply and the article claims they matter not at all. No, I’m wrong; on closer reading, the headline-writer took the headline from the penultimate line of Ms Shand-Baptiste’s article. But that line contradicts everything that went before. Oh, I give up. You can read it yourselves.

For context, Ms Shand-Baptiste’s article is about the sacking of the DJ Danny Baker for tweeting an old black and white picture that showed a very posh couple with a dressed-up chimpanzee, to which Baker added the caption “Royal baby leaves hospital”. Given that baby Archie is mixed race (a touching photo of him surrounded by beaming relatives from both sides of his multi-racial family went round the world in an instant), and there is a long history of racist depictions of black people as being apes or monkeys, Baker was a fool not to see how his tweet could be misread. But he says it was misread. He says he was jokingly making a left-wing point to the effect that all the royals are in a sense performing animals, dressed up for the cameras. I see no reason to disbelieve him. Neither does Kuba Shand-Baptiste in the Independent, she just thinks innocent intent does not matter:

When it comes to racism in Britain, naivety has long been key to pushing the harmful messages we accept as inadvertent or good natured. But there’s no excuse. Whether or not these acts are accidental, the impact is almost always inseparable from the intent. You don’t have to have a “diseased mind” to be part of the problem, but blind belief in your own sense of decency in the face of facts that suggest otherwise, definitely helps.

Wait a minute, “blind belief”? Kuba Shand-Baptiste just used the word “blind” as a metaphor for a moral failing!

When it comes to ableism in Britain, naivety has long been key to pushing the harmful messages we accept as inadvertent or good natured. But there’s no excuse.

Never mind the context, never mind her intention, the Independent must fire her now.

Added 10.20pm, 10/05/19: Good grief: Danny Baker being investigated by police over ‘stupid’ royal baby tweet that saw him sacked by BBC.

To be fair to the police this looks like a case of “someone has made a complaint so it must be investigated”. Welcome to the world you made, lefties.

What answer were you expecting?

Diana Darke, writing in the Guardian, asks,

Britain used to ask Muslims to move here. What happened to us?

In the current climate of Islamophobia, I wonder how many British people are aware of a series of films made in the early 1960s, which were expressly designed to encourage people from Arab countries to come to Britain to work or study. The four films, all in Arabic, were made on behalf of the Foreign Office, and all begin with a mosque skyline and melodic chants of “Allahu Akbar”, the start of the Muslim call to prayer. They are unapologetically religious, eager to show Arabic-speaking Muslims how welcoming Britain is, how Islamic institutions exist in Britain to cater to their cultural and religious traditions, as a friendly home from home.

I truly, literally hesitated to post this Guardian article that purports to combat hostility to Muslims because it is so obviously certain to infuriate people against them. In the end I did post it because the phenomenon of its existence is worthy of examination. Why do the writers of such pieces do it? Why does the Guardian facilitate them? What answer were they expecting?