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

The ability of the ‘sensible centre’ to define other people’s labels is rapidly decaying as they are mid-suicide collectively & are unaware their sense of rapture is a lack of oxygen to the brain. A Great Realignment is coming & we’ll see some very strange alliances until the new normal emerges.

– Perry de Havilland

The Joke and the Reality

April Fool’s day is the day to tell a story that seems real but is in fact a joke. Yesterday was the day when a joke became astonishingly real for me.

Sunday morning, I was casually shown this picture on a friend’s phone. On a brexitter’s blog, it would be no surprise. On that friend’s phone, sent her by her children, it told me the joke was going viral. I laughed appreciatively – and reflected that whatever diminishes the respect anyone still feels for “Parliament knows best what to do on Brexit” was good.

QueenInstructs00onParliamentMission

Just what her majesty has told James Bond 007 (licensed to kill) to do with all members of parliament is not explicitly stated – appeal to their (very) latent honesty as regards keeping promises, perhaps? But I saw that it was of course a joke, utterly unreal – the Queen is portrayed uttering a swearword!

That afternoon I saw the Sunday Times. The Times is the ultimate establishment remainer newspaper. It is Sir Humphrey Appleby’s newspaper. Imagine my shock when I read on the front page, illustrated with a picture of her, that

“The Queen has a constitutional role to play in Brexit … The Queen may block a soft Brexit …”

Were parliament to seize control of Brexit, then (this establishment remainer paper stated – in more or less the words I am writing here) Mrs May could well advise the Queen to withhold assent. As the private chats between her majesty and her prime minister are confidential, it did not say – nor would we perhaps know – whether that would be the result of Mrs May begging the use of every lever at her disposal or of the Queen pointedly advising Mrs May to advise her so. Far more important to me was this explicit statement that, in our current state, when Parliament cannot or will not act, or not within the rules, the Queen can – not by invoking any extraordinary prerogative power but as an ordinary constitutional act. I saw that last week but I was very surprised to see an establishment endorsement of it over the weekend.

Like everyone else – like Theresa May, Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel and Etc. Etc. – like everyone in the UK and the EU, with the possible exception of Elizabeth R – I don’t know what is going to happen next. But beware making a joke. The papers may report it for real that afternoon.

In other news, while many marched in London, some acquaintances marked the absence-of-Brexit day by climbing the Cumbrian hill called ‘Great Cockup’. It is next to ‘Little Cockup’ but they felt the latter summit was not so appropriate a destination.

Leaving the EU – a Jersey jaunt and a Guernsey gallivant

Rightly not trusting our leaders to deliver on their statements (there were, IFUC, no promises about leaving the EU from Mrs May), the Sage of Kettering and I have left the EU in that recently, we have visited our nearest escape hole, the Channel Islands. A fleeting visit, one day in each, but we have seen a future, and it works, more or less. For our more distant readers, Jersey and Guernsey are ‘Crown Dependencies’, historically part of the Duchy of Normandy, owing allegiance to the British Crown but not part of the UK. The UK government has arrogated to itself the overlordship of the islands, holding responsibility for foreign affairs and defence (well, sort of, as we shall see), but the two Bailiwicks are otherwise independent jurisdictions with autonomy in most areas, crucially taxation, and are outside of the European Union, albeit within EU Customs arrangements, allowing them to trade with the EU. Here, they say, the Queen is the Duke of Normandy, although monuments refer to ‘la Reine’. She is the only Duke I can think of married to a Duke. Whether or not they can simply declare independence is constitutionally unclear, but with Labour dangerously close to power, they might be advised to make some plans.

→ Continue reading: Leaving the EU – a Jersey jaunt and a Guernsey gallivant

Oh, beware my Country

Build on the flanks of Etna where the sullen smoke-puffs float —
Or bathe in tropic waters where the lean fin dogs the boat —
Cock the gun that is not loaded, cook the frozen dynamite —
But oh, beware my Country, when my Country grows polite!

Thus ends Kipling’s poem on our national habit of becoming very polite when we are about to lose our temper.

Yesterday’s ‘March of Enraged Brexitters’ was polite. ‘Cheerfully furious’, was how someone described the chairman of one Tory constituency association who was there. Reports agree the rage was very real – and self-controlled.

Over in the US a few years ago, Tea Party marches made a similar contrast to left-wing protests (‘left areas tidier than when they arrived’ versus ‘vandalism and arson’) – which did not in the least stop politicians and the media inventing lies against the Tea Party and shrugging it off when caught. When it was clear the PC would report polite dissenters as if they were were rioting racist thugs, they did not (fortunately) get rioting racist thugs (because their understanding of their opponents was zero) but they did get something a little less restrained: Trump and his supporters were not so polite to them.

On our side of the pond, Parliament (Labour and Tory alike) promised us something very specific, as formally and solemnly as possible, in speech, proclamation and manifesto, before the referendum (if we voted for it) and before the election (unconditionally). Promising something and then taking it away is a great way to get people angry.

So, I admire the restraint of “cheerful fury”, but, between the lessons of our national character and the lessons of the Tea Party evolving into the Trump coalition, I think Parliament unwise to go on provoking it. But I also think that if Parliament were wise, we were not be where we are now.

She falsely accused nine men of rape and six of sexual assault on four separate occasions but still the BBC puts scare quotes around the word ‘liar’.

Jemma Beale’s repeated lies caused an innocent man to spend two years in jail, and untold anxiety to many others. Part of Beale’s motive appears to have been to make her lover jealous, but she told a former girlfriend that she did it in order to get compensation money from the government. She was tried and convicted for her crimes and is now in jail.

You’d think that after all that her guilt would have been established beyond reasonable doubt. Yet with what strange new respect for the presumption of innocence (even after conviction!) does the BBC report her case:

Jemma Beale: Rape claim ‘liar’ loses conviction appeal

A “serial liar” who invented false rape and sexual assault allegations has failed in a bid to clear her name.

Jemma Beale, 27, from Hounslow, west London, was jailed for 10 years in August 2017 after claiming she was sexually assaulted by six men and raped by nine over the space of three years.

She challenged her convictions for perjury and perverting the course of justice and her sentence.

Her bid was rejected by three judges at the Court of Appeal.

Beale’s lawyer Gillian Jones QC argued the trial judge should have given the jury directions about the “danger of assumptions, myths and stereotypes” relating to victims of sexual offences.

I agree with Beale’s lawyer. The trial judge should have warned about the danger of the currently fashionable assumption, myth and stereotype that “women never lie about rape”. Fortunately the jury saw through Beale anyway.

Agreeing to disagree

Inevitably, a parliament that can agree on nothing can agree on a two-week delay. Hilariously, it’s the EU that protects us from longer delay – they disliked the last time Brits voted on them too much to want a repetition in the EUro-elections two months hence. Admirably, the DUP refuse to panic (I thought they were a luck from the start.)

Labour was whipped to vote for a second referendum (kudos to their shadow minister who resigned) whereas the Tories were not whipped, but it still failed. The idea will be debated again on April Fool’s day but the omens (not least that one 🙂 ) seem good.

May’s offers to resign get steadily more precise and shorter term. Each one brings the series nearer its end. Each one reduces her authority while she remains.

As for me, I still like deadlock. If ever there was a time for a monarch to say that, as parliament is unable to act, “we” will be its regent and just do it, now is that time, but perhaps the decision of making no decision at all would be most convincing of all. We on this blog want less government; here’s a chance to experience it

Comment away – you know you want to. 🙂

Noooooooo!

Gender pay gap expert among top professors quitting Brexit Britain

Leading academics in climate policy and economics have also had enough of hostility – and funding goes with them.

(I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it all right.)

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.

What should we be doing while they make art?

Let’s be honest, the huge size of the People’s Vote demonstration and the huge number of signatories on the petition to revoke Article 50 are both very impressive. They show that millions of people want very strongly to remain in the European Union.

But of course they will have very little effect on whether Brexit actually happens or not. Don’t mistake me, I am seriously afraid that it will not happen – which will send a signal to every supporter of every cause, whether related to Brexit or not, that trying to gain their objectives by democratic means is pointless. However the million marchers and four million signers are not the reason for my fear. They are not doing anything significant to stop Brexit. They are performing for each other. We should rejoice that they thus distract each other from actions that might have more effect.

Why do I think these great manifestations of opposition to Brexit do so little to stop it? Because the people who can stop Brexit know that the marchers and signers can do and will do nothing for them. Those people are MPs, mostly but not entirely Conservative MPs.

Not one Conservative MP stands in danger of losing their seat because four million people who would never vote Tory anyway sign a petition. Quite a few Labour MPs do stand in danger of losing their seat because it is beginning to dawn on habitual Labour voters who voted for Leave in the referendum, who disproportionately live in marginal seats, that their victory in the referendum might be stolen from them. John McDonnell can work this out, and he can tell Jeremy Corbyn. This is why both of them were conspicuously absent from the People’s Vote march. Meanwhile I do find something ironic in all these “Revoke Article 50” petition-signers thinking that the government should do something just because a lot of people have said that they want it.

I said on the 18th that No Deal would be the best option for Theresa May. I am no longer sure that May will be in power long enough to get to choose her best option, but the same calculation applies to her successor as Conservative leader and (possibly interim) Prime Minister. As I said in that post, the most committed supporters of the Conservative party are exactly the group who want Brexit most. Their anger is to be feared by the people with whom power to stop Brexit rests. It is scant reassurance to worried Tory MPs to say that Tory Brexiteers are scarcely likely to vote for Corbyn the extreme left-winger or for the Europhile Liberal Democrats or Independent Group. In fact Tory Brexiteers don’t even have to vote for UKIP or Nigel Farage’s new Brexit party in order to punish Conservative MPs for failing to honour the referendum result. All they have to do is slack off. The Conservative party is desperately short of active members, particularly young active members who are physically capable of going house to house delivering leaflets and talking to potential voters.

Which brings me to the question I asked as the title of this post. I have thought of one suggestion for something Conservative Leavers can do to secure Brexit: tell your MPs and your local Party chairmen and chairwomen that the Tories had one job, as the meme goes, and if they cannot bring themselves to do that then you cannot bring yourself to pound the streets on the Party’s behalf in the coming General Election.

Note the mildness of this threat. That, I believe, is what makes it effective. It is literally no effort for you to carry it out. It is less effort than not carrying it out.

I know that many local Conservative Associations have been working to deselect overly pro-Remain MPs. I think it is too late for that strategy. Brexit does not need more formerly-Conservative Independent Group MPs, it needs scared Conservative MPs.

There is my suggestion. But it only applies to members of the Conservative party, which I’m not. I honestly wish I had joined months ago so I could credibly make this threat now.

I throw the question out to you, dear readers. During WWII Churchill used to write “Action this day” in his own hand on documents. What action can we take today that will make betrayal of the referendum result less likely? I do not exclude performative art of our own, such as this petition to honour the referendum result, but in the end such things do not apply any new incentives to those who have power. What would? What should we be doing?

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.

Lord Heseltine forgets to mention a detail

Lord Heseltine, writing in the Telegraph today, explains “Why I am joining the People’s Vote march on Saturday”.

Of course I argued from the beginning that we were better off in the EU than out of it. Better off resolving our differences from within the European family than as an isolated onlooker chipping in from the side-lines.

It is indeed the case that Mr Heseltine has used that line of argument before. Perhaps the passage of seventeen years has dimmed his memory of the exact context in which he did it. But the internet remembers:

Tony Blair came under growing pressure last night to declare that Britain is to join the European single currency as the clock ticked towards tonight’s historic launch of the new money.

The increasing impatience of pro-euro campaigners at No 10’s fence sitting exploded as Lord Heseltine, the former Tory deputy prime minister, joined Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy and the head of Labour’s MEPs, Simon Murphy, to urge the prime minister to take a lead and call an early referendum.

Lord Heseltine effectively accused Mr Blair of a lack of nerve as he dismissed the government’s five economic tests as a “protective barrier” behind which it could “cower in order to have apparently intellectually defensible reasons for putting things off”.

the Guardian, 31 December 2001

Mr Frisby and the rats of IN

Guido gleefully points out that this song by Dominic Frisby is currently the second best selling album on Amazon music. Presumably he just means UK Amazon, but that is quite an achievement. I am getting automatically generated adverts for it. Yours for a quid! However please note before you serenade the street with your new purchase that it is a tad sweary. Honestly, there’s about seventeen million F*** O**s in it.

It will not be news to regular readers of Samizdata that Mr Frisby is both a respected financial writer and an entertainer so good that he can make it despite being an open libertarian. Brian Micklethwait (repeatedly), Johnathan Pearce, Patrick Crozier and Rob Fisher have all posted about him. My finally joining the club to say he has a nice voice and a cool hat is something of an anti-climax. But he does have both of those things. And I get the feeling he’s a sporting bloke who will forgive me for being the millionth-and-first person to make irrelevant mention of this book just because it has the name “Frisby” in it. I also recommend the book, which I loved as a child and now I come to think about it as an adult has an almost John Galt vibe to it.