News roundup

Republican racism

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If the GOP convention had a motto it would be “make America hate again”. The theme of the convention was that of a broken America (actually the economy is doing well, a lot better than before Obama took over), where crime is on the rise (actually violent crime is down….and anyway won’t gun control be a better way of tackling gun violence?) and migrants are streaming across the border (migration into the US has been falling for sometime, more are going back to Mexico than are arriving, indeed a recent spike in arrivals is being blamed (ironically enough) on Trump’s talk of building a wall).

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Why do Republicans hate America so much? Fact checkers have had to go into overdrive trying to debunk much of what was said at the convention, notably by Trump himself. Even the Wall Street Journal (hardly a bastion of left wing sentiment) has dismissed Trump’s posturings as a recipe for a recession, that would hit low income workers that hardest.

Of course the problem is that Trump’s supporters long ago traded in the truth for comforting lies. Many actually acknowledge that they know he’s lying but they still don’t care, as they put his lies above someone else’s facts. If there was one thing that died in Cleveland it was any connection between Republicans and this little thing the rest of us call “reality”.

Perhaps most worrying of all is that it is now okay to be openly racist in the US. For years the GOP practised a system of dog whistle politics, whereby they would say certain things that at face value didn’t sound racist, but were in fact a nod and a wink to racist bigots along the lines of we know what you’re thinking and we dress up in hoods and burn crosses too.

Well now, many feel free enough to pull off their hoods and come out of the closet, resulting in a rise in hate crime. Of course, this is hardly a surprise given that it was a wave of hate that propelled Trump towards the nomination in the first place. For example, the old “Obama is a Kenyan and a Muslim” card was played by one of the speakers at the GOP convention (ignoring the fact that even if it was true Obama is from Kenya, the country is 82.5% Christian, i.e. he’d be more likely to be Christian than an American!). And David Duke, the KKK leader whom Trump was slow to disavow after he endorsed Trump, is now planning to run for office on the Republican ticket. This would be simply unthinkable a few years ago.

Fortunately, the polls do put Hillary still ahead of Trump, although perhaps not far enough. The current consensus is that she will probably carry most of the major swing states. She may struggle in Florida or Nevada, although if she captures all of the rest (where she is well ahead in the polls) it won’t matter. In congressional polls, the democrats are now also ahead.

One part of me wants Trump to lose narrowly, as this one mean his supporters don’t get the message, they’ll turn inward and tear the party apart – guaranteeing Hillary gets 8 years in charge, with control of both houses and the Supreme court. However, on the other hand, it would be much better for the GOP, and democracy itself in America, for the Trump camp to lose this election and lose big. I mean mass defections to the libertarian party, enough of a lead to Hillary that she sweeps the board in the electoral college, even in traditional GOP voting states. That might be enough of a shock to the system to scare the GOP party straight and make them realise they need to modernise as a party if they want to ever win an election again.

Oh how it Bernies

And worryingly there isn’t exactly a lot of unity on display at the Democratic convention. Firstly e-mails were leaked (fortunately this time nothing to do with Hillary) which showed how the DNC was conspiring against Bernie Sanders. Now this is not exactly a surprise, welcome to the messy world of politics! Indeed Bernie himself seemed to brush it off, endorsing Hillaryagain…. on the first day.

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However, he was met by boo’s and chanting from his own supporters (prompting one Hillary supporter to quib “this is what losers look like”). They don’t seem to get the message that they’ve lost, its a choice between Trump and Hillary now. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of Hillary but I can tell the difference between two, admittedly unpleasant, but distinctly different post-election scenarios. One where we get Hilary, and she strengthens Obama care and implements one or two other left wing policies, but otherwise its business as usual. Or we get Trump…..and probably totalitarian rule and world war 3 shortly there after.

So the Bernie or bust brigade can’t dodge the question, are you happy for Trump to be president? Because voting for anyone other than Hillary or sitting out the election means you are essentially endorsing Trump. But Bernie can do very little about this. He’s no longer in control of his own revolution, nobody is.

Bears and guns

Speaking of Republicans and dumb animals, there’s the issue of bears and what to do if you meet a bear in the woods (well don’t disturb them if they are going to the toilet anyway, we all know what bears definitely do in the woods!). This was of interest to me as over the summer I was hiking in Sweden, where there are some bears (not many, but it is one of the few places in Europe where you might encounter a bear in the wild).

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Well the general advice is to avoid such encounters. Above all else you don’t want to surprise the bear (so make some noise and watch out near streams and waterfalls), as this would be interpreted as predator like behaviour by the bear. Equally you don’t want to soil your trousers and run away (this is prey like behaviour and even then it may follow as its curious as to why you are running). If all else fails, there’s bear spray. This is not a new brand of deodorant, but a very strong form of pepper spray.

Now gun nuts would say, well this is why I carry my 45 around with me. But the official advice is no, guns don’t help. A little 10g bullet ain’t going to stop 700 lbs of angry bear. Yes he might bleed to death or die of an infection several days afterwards, but that’s still going to leave him more than enough time to rip your head off. Making an already angry bear even angrier isn’t exactly helping.

So yet another of these gun myths is debunked. Guns don’t make you safer. Indeed, by luring people into a false sense of security they likely make the situation worse.

The unacceptable face of capitalism

Another big hairy beast is that of Phil Green Greed, the former owner of the now bankrupt BHS chain. He was slammed in a government report, which placed the blame for the collapse of the company on him, branding Mr Greed Green as “the unacceptable face of capitalism”. They also suggested that if he has any morals he should get out his cheque book and write out a cheque for £570 million to pay off the pensioners.

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Is he likely to do this? Like fuck he will! We are talking about one of the UK’s most prolific tax dodgers. He was relaxing on his new £100 million yacht while his minimum wage workers got sacked. Indeed, his response has been to demand an apology from the authors of this report. This is the problem with arseholes like this, or Mike Scrooge Mac Ashley over at Sports Workhouse Direct, they are so deluded and full of their own ego that they don’t see anything wrong with what they are doing.

Furthermore, this saga also debunks one of the central myths of capitalism – that it is always in the interest of a boss to run his company well. In truth it can often be easier to make money by deliberately steering it onto the rocks, milking the company dry, not investing in new products or infrastructure (just look at the railways), all while awarding yourself a massive salary. Then in the end, you burn it down for the insurance money, or dump the whole sorry mess on the taxpayer.

This is in fact a classic mafia trick. They’ll buy up a struggling (but on paper successful) business and run it into the ground, buy stuff on credit in one door and sell it out the back for half price. Then when the banks about to foreclose, they burn it down. The Kray twins used to pull this one all the time. The only difference is that they worked on a much smaller scale. So while they got a life sentence…..Mr Greed Green got a knighthood and a £100m yacht!

The IOC – More corrupt than FIFA

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The IOC, to the shock of many, decided not to issue a blanket ban on Russian athletes at the Rio Olympics, despite numerous and quite serious doping allegations, including evidence of systematic doping at the Sochi games. This passes the buck on to the individual sporting federations. However with just 10 days to go to the start of the Olympics it is extremely doubtful that they will be able to go through the process of banning athletes.

And the Russian whistleblower who risked her career and possibly her life to expose all of this? She’s been thrown under the bus. They were supposed to let her compete as a neutral but they’ve pulled back from that one.

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It is very difficult to avoid the conclusion that all of this was deliberate and planned. Anyone who thinks corruption in sport begins and ends with FIFA, I’m afraid not. The IOC president is known to be very friendly with Putin. And no doubt the IOC’s decision to hold the Sochi games in a Black Sea coastal resort miles from any snow was influenced by the decision of Putin to invite along his buddy Mr brown envelope, along with Mr ruble and his millions of friends. Naturally fearful that the Russians might expose this fact, the IOC deliberately dithered on this decision and waited until they knew it would be more or less too late for many of the sporting bodies to act.

Certainly it is true that doping is not just a Russian problem. If you believe that all Western athletes are clean, you are very naïve. However, we have evidence of blatant politically motivated interference here. I mean the evidence would seem to be that Russian athletes do train in a lab, wired up to a computer, surrounded by scientists injecting them with this or that, not unlike the training scene from the Rocky movie. Recent Russian sporting success is in fact more a success in pharmaceuticals and chemistry. And the message the IOC is sending is that even all of this can be ignored, if you pay us enough money. And to any whistle blowers the message is clearly a case of don’t even think about it.

One can only hope that hitting the IOC where it hurts, a vigorous boycott of their sponsors perhaps, will bring them to heel, although likely too late for this Olympics.

The labour civil war

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The labour civil war continues, both sides appear to be digging in. Corbyn says he ain’t going anywhere, even though it means he’s having to put up with cold silence from his side during PMQ’s. The PLP are also ignoring polls showing he’ll win by a landslide. And in retaliation, Corbyn is threatening nearly all of his own party with deselection before the next election. And in other developments, the party is threatening to block members from voting who are accused of “threatening behaviour, with party members asked to report such people – which will likely result in paranoia. Lawsuits are being filed by those barred from voting, and its likely the post of labour leader could ultimately be decided in court.

The likely sequence of events is therefore, Corbyn will almost certainly win the leadership challenge and starts a purge of his own party. The PLP will all defect to some new party, or the lib dems, Corbyn is left with a handful of hangers on (to the point where he can’t claim to be the official opposition anymore). In the next election the labour vote is split between the two factions. And the Tories, despite the economic woes of Brexit, still end up winning (presumably then going into power as a minority government or in coalition with New labour or the lib dems).

Could someone explain to me how this is helping anyone? Well anyone other than the Tories or UKIP! The fact is that Corbyn has lost the support of his own MP’s, I don’t see how he can lead the party now. Equally, the PLP need to realise there’s a grass roots push for real change (more old labour, less Tony Blair new labour) in the party and they need to listen to that.

Post coup Turkey

Last week some elements of the Turkish army, alarmed by the growing authoritarianism of President Erdogan, launched a coup. It was clearly half baked and not very well thought out. For starters they failed to capture him and his cabinet straight away. They didn’t even seem to be aware he wasn’t in the capital but away on holiday. Rule one of coups, get the guy you are trying to overthrow first. Every minute he’s free is a minute he’s mustering support in his favour. And clearly not all of the military went along with this. While Erdogan was becoming increasingly unpopular, there was no public appetite for a coup.

There is no worse case scenario for a coup plotter than launching one and failing. Its often said that if the US bid for independence failed then George Washington and all of those who signed the declaration would have been hung as traitors. The British colonies to this day would celebrate their own form of Guy Fawkes night, where effigies of the traitors of Philly are annually burned. Consider that Hugo Chavez regime is still in power in Venezuela, despite the fact he’s been dead for several years now, because despite the country’s many economic woes, no one wants to be associated with those who supported the US backed coup against him.

And so predictably, far from sending the message to Erdogan that he needs to tone things down a notch, instead its led to little short of a massive political purge. Tens of thousands have been arrested or sacked, including teachers. Several ships of the Turkish navy are still apparently missing. The US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, a critic of Erdogan’s regime has been blamed by the Turkish government for the coup, although there is very little evidence to support this notion. Even so they have used it as an excuse to round up his supporters, who along with other opposition groups make up the bulk of those arrested (and no doubt some tortured confession will quickly emerge to retrospectively justify all of this).

There is even talk of bringing back the death penalty. This would of course invalidate Turkey’s application for EU membership. In short Erdogan is emerging as even more authoritarian that before. No doubt there will be another spike in asylum seekers fleeing Turkey, this time Turks rather than Syrians. Europe’s main ally in the region now threatens to become a source of instability and mass migration itself.

The Panama papers – an update

Finally, if you thought that whole Mossack Fonseca business had just blown over, well no. More revelations are being made every day. The latest releases relate to Africa and they reveal a fairly dirty web, showing how tax havens are used to rob the continent of its vast mineral wealth. This matters a great deal. Its often said, that on paper, if you add up the mineral resources, the population and the assets at Africa’s disposal, it should be the wealthiest continent on earth, not the poorest.

But for years Western corporations (and increasingly Chinese ones) have co-operated with corrupt local rulers to plunder Africa, lining one another’s pockets in the process, while the locals are stuck with the mess left over afterwards.

The economic impact of Brexit…..the story so far

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The Brexit brigade are still trying to delude themselves that everything is hunky dory. However, the reality is that it has dented growth and there are growing signs of an economic slowdown, if not a recession.

Easyjet are blaming Brexit for a fall in profits . And Ryanair, whose also felt the pinch, is now planning to cut back on flights to the UK and move some of its hubs out of he country. Meanwhile the Polish airline Wizz Air plan to roll back from a planned expansion of services operating out of Britain (damn foreigners staying at home and giving jobs to Polish in Warsaw instead!). Meanwhile a travel agent, which collapsed over the last month (leaving a number of tourists stranded and others out of pocket), has blamed Brexit and the drop in value of the pound for pushing the company over the edge.

A weak pound is also expected to push up petrol prices (and thus pretty much everything else gets more expensive), make holidays more expensive, mortgage costs may well rise and pensions will be worth a lot less. Indeed, I won’t advise retiring anytime soon, as annuities are taking a hammering. And spare a thought for pensioners living overseas. Quite apart from Theresa May’s plan to basically use them as pawns in her negotiations with Brussels, a weak pound is making living abroad suddenly very expensive.

A weak pound, does help exporters, such as the UK’s car industry. However, they will be anxious about the possible long term impacts on trade. If the EU brings in any kind of tarrif on them, that’s pretty much their business model gone. Also the manufacturing of most goods these days takes place over multiple countries, many of the parts on UK cars are imported from the continent (so Brexit just made those parts more expensive). So any sort of a trade barrier at Dover, will make it awfully tempting to simply move production to the other side of the channel.

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Already Renault is contemplating a rise in car prices sold in the UK, while the word round the camp fire is that there’s at least “a 75% chance” of lay off’s in Japanese owned UK based car companies.

Academia enters recession

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In my line of work we are starting to see the effects, as this article discusses academics report that they are now being frozen out of EU grant funding applications. Funding opportunities are drying up and layoffs are now probably inevitable. And note it will generally be the non-academic support staff who will get the chop. Many leading academics are already contemplating moving to other EU countries. And recall, as I pointed out in a prior post, if an academic walks, the grant money follows him, as its always attached to the academic, not the university. In my own uni we’ve already lost two professors. Now in truth they were thinking of retiring anyway, but clearly Brexit has pushed that decision forward as they no doubt realise that they will struggle to get funding in future.

And its not just academics that suffer. As I’ve pointed out before, clustered around the UK’s universities are many small high tech firms who rely on this research funding and collaboration through the EU to establish themselves and develop new products. A number of them are already starting to scout out locations in the EU in which to move too. Its ironic given how many complain about immigration that one of the effects of Brexit could be Britain’s best and brightest moving abroad to set up companies overseas and create jobs for people outside of the UK. In short, the UK could very well be in the process of of burning an entire generation of entrepreneurs and innovators.

And already we have the Tories subsidy cuts to renewables to contend with. This is believed to have cost at least 12,000 jobs over the last year, with no doubt more redundancies in the pipeline.

The impact on the construction industry

Meanwhile house prices are now expected to level off, perhaps even drop. Already there’s been a slight drop this month in some London districts. And this is not good news for first time buyers, as the likely trigger event for this is a reluctance of banks to lend money, particularly to first time buyers. By contrast, foreign investors will now find it easier to buy property in the UK,given the weak pound (damn foreigners coming over here and investing their money in the country!).

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This of course means that those in the construction industry are probably the most vulnerable to the immediate effects of Brexit. I’ve heard tales of emergency board meetings at many leading construction firms with said firms deciding to now cancel certain projects now deemed too risky, a hiring freeze in the short term and an orderly downsizing with lay-off’s longer term.

Indeed, already some senior members of staff are loosing their jobs. One funny story I heard, a newly hired exec got the sack days after Brexit, as it meant the cancellation of projects he was supposed to be in charge of. Apparently he voted leave, so he literally voted to be sacked. The only thing he’s “taking control” of is his application down at the jobs centre. I’d laugh, only I’m aware of how many others in the industry have also lost their jobs, or are about too.

Trouble at the border

And of course custom delays in France which is causing traffic chaos in Southern England gives us a taster for how nasty things could get post-Brexit.

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Basically if the French at any point decide to get arsy because they feel the UK with a weak pound is undercutting their economy, all they need to do so restrict traffic at Calais, which is easily achieved under the guise of anti-terrorism checks or customs checks that they are just very slow to carry out, quickly causing traffic to grind to a halt. In the mean time they simply wave trucks going the other way straight through.

They won’t have to do that very often to quickly make it all but impossible for British companies to export to the continent. And keep in mind this was a quite normal thing back in the bad old days prior to the EU. Any time people went to France (or visa versa) they’d be asked by relatives and friends to get this and that for them. My own memories of family holidays was of us driving back in a car loaded down with hidden contraband. Is this really an improvement?

Over a barrel

All in all you’d have to be incredibly naïve to believe that Brexit isn’t going to have any impact of future trade. And keep in mind that the UK now needs to not just negotiate with the EU, but with the other major trading blocks as well. Many expect the Chinese will do rather well out of this , as they will essentially have the UK over a barrel.

The US too has previously warned of the UK “going to the back of the queue”. While its not clear if they will follow through with this, but certainly if the UK wants a deal quickly they will have to concede a lot. The US is locked in a serious of talks with the EU over the controversial TTIP’s trade deal, something Brexit might well have now derailed. Needless to say, while the EU can haggle, or even walk away from such a deal, the UK can’t. For the UK it will be take it or leave it when it comes to TTIP.

Like a Victorian workhouse

One of the areas where we could see some major changes post-Brexit is when it comes to workers rights, as it is widely expected that the Tories will now use this as an opportunity to gut the protections UK workers have long enjoyed. So I hope every doesn’t mind working on weekends or Christmas, an end to overtime, not to mention it being made easier for bosses to fire workers with little or no notice.

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And we have a taster for what’s in store given recent reports from Sports Direct. Its boss Mike scrooge Mac Ashley is accused of running a Victorian style workhouse. With workers being paid below the minimum wage, arbitrary punishments for minor infractions, female staff being solicited for sexual favours, children being forced to go to school ill because parents could not take a day off work. We even have one story of a mother giving birth in the toilet at work (and I hope she clocked off for that that one!).

Well you have to give him credit for being ahead of the curve here. As this is likely to be the model upon which many UK firms are run post-Brexit.

Saving face

We were promised by Theresa May that she’d get some concession on immigration as part of Brexit negotiations. However, it is privately accepted that this will be impossible. So officials in Whitehall and Brussels are looking at ways of trying to make it look like she’s gotten something, when in fact she hasn’t.

One proposal is to dust off the very “emergency brake” measures Cameron managed to get. Of course as I pointed out this was mere window dressing. It would only restrict migrant benefits, which is less of a concern to those who are coming over to work and then plan to go home (which of course applies to the vast majority of them). Government in some parts of the EU will be less than keen on this (in effect they are being asked to subsidise the UK welfare state by their citizens paying taxes towards it but not claim any benefits), which means they will either veto such a proposal or insist on some sort of sharing of NI contributions (i.e. some portion of their citizens NI contributions will be passed on to their home state if they leave or return from the UK and start to claim benefits). Existing arrangement along these lines already exist between the UK and Ireland.

So its likely to be just window dressing, that doesn’t actually change anything (other than draining the government’s coffers), but hopefully it will take the Brexit bigot brigade sometime to work that one out.

Department of Energy & Climate Change axed

Updated this one and realised that I forgot to post it here too!

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I’ve been warning for quite sometime that a Brexit vote would be a disaster for the environment. By and large there is a strong correlation with voting leave and climate change denial and other anti-scientific beliefs. Of course others, such as Monbiot, say its not so bad (then again he said the same thing about Hinkley C).

Well we now have proof of just why we had every reason to be concerned. The new UK PM Theresa May has axed the entire department of energy & climate change. I mean we are talking Trump level of political vandalism here.

Oh, and this was straight after appointing Boris Johnson as foreign secretary, a gaffe prone liar (according to the French minster) who has managed to insult both Hilary and Trump as well as President Obama and many other world leaders. As the Swedish PM concluded, this is clearly some…

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News roundup

The 2nd longest suicide note in history

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The Republican national convention is currently kicking off and things aren’t off to a great start. The cops are calling for the state’s open carry law to be suspended (after recent police shootings they’ve come to realise that the solution to a bad guy with a gun is and making sure he’s not armed, and not hiding in a crowd of 100 other armed nutters). And with the cult of Trump in town and lots of angry anti-Trump protesters, trouble is all but guaranteed.

Many leading republicans are skipping the convention (and probably with all the guns are very glad to do so!) as they want to stay well away from the train wreck otherwise known as Trump. As a result the roster of speakers at the convention is a little thin, even Trump’s wife and daughter is having to speak, oh and the boss of the Trump winery (presumably to help push Trump’s merchandise). About the only senior republicans speaking are Paul Ryan (who has to speak, someone from congress had to show up and he drew the short straw), Chris Christie (aka, Trump’s official sidekick) and Newt Gingrich (Trump’s wannabe sidekick).

Meanwhile the policy agenda that will be endorsed at the convention includes a number of extremely conservative positions. For example porn is labelled a “public health crisis, they want to crack down of gays, introduce “gay conversion therapy” (I don’t know either, maybe get them to watch porn…oh no wait didn’t we just ban that?), banning abortion, etc. They’ve even managed to piss off the ADL. Although to be fair, as Israel is not a US state and both Trump and his supporters are clueless to anything outside the US, it would have to be pointed out to them on a map.

The GOP has avoided including such toxic policies in the past, because they know they would never get through congress (even some Republicans would vote against them!) and even then they would likely be struck down by the the Supreme court. All you’re doing is loading a gun with ammo for the democrats to blast away at them with for the next four months. Trump’s manifesto could well go down as the 2nd longest political suicide note in history.

Already comparisons are being drawn to the disastrous convention of 1992. Back then the GOP had spent several years trying to woo white evangelicals such as Jerry Farwell’s “moral majority” into the big GOP tent. Up till then many christian conservatives had not voted because the party of Lincoln was after all the party that freed the slaves, while the democrats had decided that minorities had all sorts of “rights” and you couldn’t like lynch em or burn crosses on their lawns no more (bloody liberals!).

Anyway this plan backfired with the Christian conservatives effectively hijacking the GOP policy committee and forced it to adopt various right wing policies, not unlike those Trump is now endorsing. This appalled many moderate Republicans, who took the view that the GOP was supposed to be the party of small government, not the party that advocates an authoritarian state that dictates what people do in the privacy of their own homes.

Consequently G. W. Bush, whose campaign was already behind due to a struggling economy, was from this point on all but guaranteed to lose to rank outsider Bill Clinton (whom most people had never heard of at the time). And lose by a significant margin he did, becoming one of the few US presidents in recent times not to win a 2nd term in office.

And to make matters worse for the GOP, the fall out from the convention led to a resurgence in support towards the third party campaign of Ross Perot’s. Now while this took as many votes away from Clinton as it did Bush, the fallout carried over into the 1996 election, where again Perot ran on a ticket appealing to small government moderate Republicans, the people edged out or booed off stage in the 1992 convention. And again, he cost the GOP precious votes all but guaranteeing Clinton a 2nd term.

So while this will be an awful sickening coronation of Trump, it also could well be a funeral of sorts for any hope of the Republicans winning diddly squat for a good few years.

Police shootings
Recent police shootings in America are cause for concern, although statistics do suggest that the overall situation isn’t quite as bad as might be thought. Cop killings have been steadily falling for sometime now.

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However, certainly the toxic atmosphere of recent months means that the police forces in America are loosing public support. It is argued that the police are only police because we the public consent to them their authority to uphold the law. If this consent is withdrawn, well they ain’t much more than a rent-a-cop mall guard. And should any cops be wondering how to tell if you’ve lost the support of the community, well when they start shooting you just for being cops, that’s probably it!

But getting shot at is only the start. And to be honest tighter gun control would solve that problem. Its the inability for police to do their job that’s the danger. If the public don’t trust the police, they won’t rely on them in a crisis, they’ll turn to someone else, likely the local Mr Big. The rise of the Mafia in America, first the Irish mob, then the Italian mob, was borne out of the fact that these immigrant communities did not trust the cops. History is in effect repeating itself.

Trident vote

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The UK is voting on Trident renewal. The Tories have been accused of only holding it now to help destabilise the labour party. And the price tag? A snip at £205 billion, or to put it in Brexit bus terms that’s £569 million a month for the next 30 years.

However, I cannot help but notice that if the vote were being held north of the border, the result would be very difference. Only one MP is planning on vote for Trident, (David Mundell, the only Tory MP in Scotland), all the rest are either abstaining or voting against it. Is this because the missiles are based in Scotland, while the armchair chicken hawks chatter about it in Westminster, or is it because Scot’s can add and subtract and realise its a complete waste of money?

Indy Ref2 next year?
Theresa May met with Nicola Sturgeon last week to discuss the consequences of Brexit and the possiblity of a further referendum (on the EU or Scottish independence). I assume it didn’t go so well, because within hours of it ending we were hearing murmurings of a possible 2nd Scottish independence referendum in early 2017.

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Let us be clear about what is going on here. Yes the SNP want Scottish independence, but unlike Cameron they aren’t morons. Yes, the polls do show that the ground has shifted, with several polls now showing a clear (but sometimes narrow) lead for independence. But you can never guarantee anything leading into a referendum, not unless you are well ahead (and recall remain had a ten point lead at the start of the EU referendum). It would make sense for the SNP to wait as long as possible before calling a referendum. And they also realise that they have to explore every possible alternative before committing to one.

On the other hand, the Tories attempt to stonewall the Scot’s is making it very easy for the SNP. The Tories are trying to ignore this shift in the polls, ignoring the very narrow majority in the EU referendum, not to mention the fact that only 37% of the electorate actually voted for Brexit and many millions (EU citizens and British citizens abroad) were denied the right to vote, as were students not at their term time addresses. And of course an overwhelming proportion of Scot’s voted against leaving the EU.

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Of course there’s an obvious horse trade here. The Tories allow the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish assemblies some input to the terms of Brexit. And furthermore, a requirement it is ratified either by all four parliaments, or via another referendum. However, the Tories seem to be ignoring this, same way they are ignoring the fact that the EU referendum result is not legally binding and that they may face obstacles getting it through Westminster. As a result the same Tory arrogance that led them into the first inde-ref (and the EU referendum) could well be their undoing this time around.

Vote leave bus rebranded by Greenpeace
Greenpeace have somehow managed to get their hands on the infamous Brexit bus with all of the misleading slogans on it. I was surprised by this, as I assumed that, like the Edstone, it would have been destroyed….ritually burned….presumably with Gove still inside!

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Anyway, it would appear Greenpeace plan to “correct” the messages on it and drive around with it as a “vehicle for truth”.

The Tories thought that they could tell a few lies to the public, so that Boris could get to be PM, but what harm could it do, I mean who remembers politician’s promises? I mean remember when that Clegg fellow made that promise to students about fees, why they forgot about that within a week. No way this £350 million claim will come back to haunt them, next election, would it?….ah no!

The Brexit camp have created a enormous level of distrust by their actions. And yes, this £350 million claim did sway voters, and yes they expect it to be honoured, I had a conversation with someone who repeated the claim a few days ago (he seemed to think taxes were about to go down after Boris told em we’ll not be paying the £350 million anymore). Couple that with the fact that there will be little if any change to immigration rules and you could argue the Tories have made life very tough for themselves. Ironically there are worries for the future of NHS funding post-Brexit.

And if there is another indy-ref next year and project fear is resurrected, what’s the bet that the SNP counter is, these are the same people who told us we could save £350 million a week by leaving the EU. If you could write anything on the Tories party’s tombstone (well aside from ding dong the witch is dead!) it would be this £350 million a week claim.

Mrs Fracking
There are growing concerns about the axing of the DECC, which I discussed in a prior post. But worse the decision to hand over part of its responsibilities to Andrea “Fruitcake” Landsom has been called into question. She’s a pro-Fracking, climate Skeptic known for her extreme views. I could argue that its putting the fox in charge of the hen house, but actually she’d shoot the fox (she’s pro-fox hunting) and burn down the hen house to save it. She’s also on record as arguing against farm subsidies, which is obviously very worrying for farmers, who are already anxious over the consequences of Brexit.

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I mean Tim Peake got back from Space, learnt about Brexit, Trump and all that’s happened since he left and tried to rush back into the capsule (okay, not quite!).

The beast that will not die

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650 Figure 1: Is Hinkley C really Brexit proof?

Often a big news event is the time people try to bury bad news. Here’s a few you might have missed. However another story that some may have missed is that the DECC has raised its estimate for the cost of Hinkley C to be just short of £37 billion. This is more than double their previous estimate. Hinkley C is in fact now on course to become the most expensive object on earth.

It means that the installed kW cost of Hinkley C is now likely to exceed £11,000 per kW against £1,250 for solar. Yes Hinkley is now 9 times more expensive than a similar installed capacity of solar (and yes the capacity factor of solar is lower, but its not going to be 9 times lower!). Hinkley is now almost certainly going to be…

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A very British Coup

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I speculated prior to the EU referendum that one possible outcome in the event of a leave vote could be a technocratic takeover of the UK government, where the Whitehall bureaucrats would step in to limit the resulting damage. I assumed it would be the civil servants who made the move, as politicians have to face the electorate at some point. Well it seems, not so.

Teresa May is now on course to be the next PM without a single vote cast in her name (by anyone outside the Tory Parliamentary party). Her last opponent, Andrea “fruitcake” Leadsom, withdrew after controversy regarding some (entirely accurate) comments she made in the Times news paper (which is owned by, guess who?). Clearly this was a not to subtle “well come to hell” signal from the establishment to Andrea that if she stayed in the race, she would be subjecting herself to 3 months of this….and then they’d make sure she lost anyway. So falling on her own sword became the obvious way out.

Now I was led to believe that once the Tory membership had their vote, the 1922 committee had to endorse the result for May to become the official party. This should take a few days. However, Andrea had barely finished her speech and we were getting tweets from the chairman of the 1922 committee confirming May in place. It seems dubious at best that such a key decision could be taken so quickly if they were caught unaware. Clearly there was a stitch up here. Gove, knifed Boris, Andrea knifed Gove, May knifes Andrea. And people say politics is boring!

The Eagle has landed

Meanwhile across town, Andrea “The Thrush” Eagle is attempting to become labour leader. But, you say, its a waste of time why the labour membership will just vote for him again. Well not if he’s not on the ballot paper they won’t. The PLP is trying to exclude Corbyn from the ballot papers. And of course if Corbyn gets the boot and nobody else steps forward, then “the Thrush” becomes leader of the opposition by default without a single vote cast in her name (and if he wins, the PLP split and pick a leader without any vote!).

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The launch of a new brand of perfume…which comes with a hint of new labour

In short, it would appear that post-Brexit the establishment now has such utter contempt and lack of faith in the electorate that the two main parties don’t even trust their own party members to vote in a party leadership election. I recall some Brexiters trying to justify voting leave on the back of “voter fatigue”. Well I’ve got great news for you, don’t expect to be voting much from now on, it will be a very long time before any British government holds another referendum on anything (even the question as to what age we impose compulsory euthanasia).

2nd Class status for the UK

And naturally one can predict that the establishment’s plan will be either to simply ignore the referendum result (as I outlined, there’s various ways it could be thrown out and blocked) or they will push for the so called “Norway model”. As I mentioned before, this would arguably leave the UK much worse off than it currently is. We’d be paying 94% per capita of what we currently pay, there will be few if any new immigration controls (bit more paper work, bit easier to restrict benefits until they start working, but that’s about it) and the vast bulk of EU trade rules will stay in place, its just that the UK will lose the right to veto any change to those rules.

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In effect if you voted leave in order to “take control”, the only thing the UK will be taking control of is the fax machine in Whitehall through which the EU will issue future instructions and dictates. I’m reminded of a slightly mad uncle who refused to drive any German made car after what they did during the war and he also boycotted anything American after Vietnam….so he drove around in a Vaxuhall, i.e. a German made Opel (owned by a US firm) with a British badge on the front. That’s pretty much what the UK post-Brexit will amount too. We’ll still be under the dominion of Brussels, its just it will be hidden under a cheap bit of plastic and we’ll have no say in how things are run.

Now okay, the civil service and establishment don’t like the idea of this any more than we do, but its the least worse option compared to what would happen if we tried to follow through on the plans of the brexit bigot brigade. In short, the establishment post-referendum now trusts EU bureaucrats in Brussels more than it trusts its own citizens.

Wildcards

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Of course the establishment isn’t going to have everything its own way, there’s a few wild cards waiting in the wings. The SNP have clearly not gotten the same memo as New labour or Tory MP’s. They will be wanting a referendum on Scottish independence. Its possible the establishment can stop this by offering Scotland new powers, perhaps even a fully federal UK, in which for example all powers other than foreign affairs and defence are devolved. In theory with EU support the Scots could then apply for EU membership in their own right.

However, I’m doubtful the SNP would go for this, nor that the EU would play ball (it would be a bridge too far for them I suspect). So a 2nd independence referendum is very likely. Now the establishment will fight this one every step of the way. They may even get quite nasty. But given the growing momentum in Scotland, I don’t see how it can be stopped. And trying to stop it makes a Yes vote more likely.

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So if in the end it goes ahead, and its a clear vote to leave, with a high enough turn out to make it credible, they’ll have to accept it. The UK is now leaving the EU on the basis of a non-legally binding referendum in which only 37% of the electorate (52% times the turnout of 72%) voted leave. If the SNP can equal or exceed this threshold, it becomes very difficult to argue against them. A precedence has been set (ironically mostly by opponents of Scottish independence!).

And in some respects a scenario where Scotland is an EU member, rUK is not but with free travel between the two countries and both part of the EEA, is a very neat and cosy settlement. The EU would find the Scots a much more proactive partner than the Westminster government. The Scots would indirectly voice concerns on behalf of the whole Island (and be able to veto or block certain red line issues). Its not the outcome the establishment wants (particularly if you are a Whitehall bureaucrat), but if it happens anyway, I can see them pushing back from the table and considering it as a least worse option.

Election 2020

Of course there will have to be an election in 2020 and there’s a very strong possibility of an economic downturn between now and then. Its likely the government will also run up a fairly large deficit, with serious implications for the UK’s economic future (doubly so if Scotland leaves and takes its oil, renewables and high value exports with it). But the establishment now has the perfect go-to excuse for every occasion – Brexit (i.e. you morons not voting the way we told you too). So they will be able to deflect blame away from themselves and point the finger back at the parties of the far right and far left.

So while one assumes there will be a lot of angry voters in 2020, the Brexit bigot brigade in particular will be hopping mad by then, realising nothing has changed, indeed they will be worse off. And while I would predict that UKIP’s voter share will increase in 2020 (demonstrating that Cameron should never have held the referendum in the first place) it won’t matter. By then it will be too late for them to stop anything, and in any event they are unlikely to get a majority.

On the left a labour party split is now very likely. The Corbyn wing may split off and form their own party. Or the PLP will all leave and either merge with the lib dems or form a new independent party. So come the next election there will either be an enlarged lib dem’s or a new labour party as well as a anti-establishment hard left labour party of some shape or form. But again unless Corbyn can get a majority (and of course he would would never work with UKIP) it will make little difference. The likelihood is that in 2020 the establishment candidates in new labour, the Tories and lib dems will prevail, they’ll lose a good few seats yes, but it will be a coalition of some form out of those three parties.

And, as noted, it will become increasingly obvious that the Norway model is a crap deal. Its like paying for a first class ticket and sitting in the economy section. If there is another EU referendum, it will be at some distant date regarding rejoining the EU (under the terms of a new member, i.e. not as generous terms as the UK now enjoys).

Be careful what you wish for…..

The cold hard realities for the Brexit brigade is that, much as I predicted would happen several years back, they are likely to find that by voting leave they have achieved the complete opposite of what they set out to get. Less control, they are even more ignored by the politicians, and they will be considerably worse off financially. Even though, on paper, the Brexiters are getting what they asked for.

I’m reminded of that bit in Forest Gump where Robin Wright’s character says her dream is to sit with a guitar and sing songs to a crowd. Later on in the movie she gets to do this  ….in a strip club while naked! That’s about where the leave voters will be in a few years time. Your wish will be fulfilled, but in a cruel twisted and ironic way. Be careful what you wish for, it might just come true.

Why it might be time for Corbyn to go

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I’ve long argued that Jeremy Corbyn need to be given the chance to make his case for an alternative to the Tweedledum and Tweedledee of Tories and New Labour. However, the current circumstances have changed things. The country is in a crisis, there’s too much at stake now.

The labour party needs to unite behind a leader who can either try to block the Brexit process or alternatively at least put pressure on the Tories to make sure any such Brexit vote will guarantee the rights of EU citizens (and thus protect the rights of UK citizens in Europe) and ensure open borders as well as free trade. Given the likelihood that the Tories will now try to gut environmental legislation as well as the rights of workers, the labour party needs to act fast to stop a historic unravelling of many of the things the party has spent the bulk of its history fighting for. If Corbyn can’t supply this leadership, then he has to go.

And yes, I know, the media have never given him a chance. I’ve highlighted such silliness on this blog on many occasions. I’ve said it before, but if he ran into a burning building and rescued a baby the media would accuse him of taking jobs away from hard working firemen. The PLP have never rallied around him either, they’ve been against him from day one. But a leader leads from the front. If the troops don’t respect their commander, they ain’t going to follow him over the top (instead they’ll wait till he goes over the top, send up flares to draw the attention of enemy gunners, then hit the deck!).

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One rumour I’ve been hearing from pro-Corbyn supporters, has been that the real reason for this push against him was the impending release of the Chilcot report. Well that storm has passed and it hasn’t revealed anything we didn’t already know (Blair lied, he worked against efforts to stop the war, tell me something I didn’t know!). Indeed Alastair Campbell even went to far as to say that Chilcot proves that they didn’t sex up the dodgy dossier….so in essence what he’s saying is “We shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot his deputy” 

But I digress! The truth is that Corbyn’s muted performance in the EU referendum has given his enemies the chance to try and oust him. And yes, I know, the person most responsible for this mess is the “pig appreciating” Bullingdon boy. But Corbyn didn’t exactly put up much of a fight. This naturally led some to question whether his own prior commitment to euroscepticism meant he wasn’t committed to the leave campaign.

He’s also refused to confirm which way he voted himself. And his recent open letter in the Guardian, raises more questions than it answers, as he again fails to clarify his position. Indeed, as his article seems to be an apology for those on the left who voted leave, one is forced to conclude it confirms what his critics have claimed. This puts him at odds not just with the PLP (96% in favour of remain) but with the vast majority of labour voters (66% support for remain).

Certainly a UK not in the EU does push up Corbyn’s stock. It would make it easier for example to renationalise core industries (its still possible to do that in the EU, many of the UK’s public services are owned by the state owned public service companies of other nations, but its not as easy). And an economy in chaos, the inevitable recriminations when the Tory party betray the Brexit bigot brigade, it would be the sort of climate where an anti-establishment type like Corbyn could win .

But he has to get his party to that election intact for that plan to work. And between now and then, as noted, the Tories will be gutting many of the laws that protect the rights of UK workers. In short, Corbyn’s position seems to be that he’s happy to leave the fox in charge of the hen house, in the hope that he gets to have a go himself later.

And ultimately his performance at the dispatch box has been lack lustre at best. Bottom line, putting him in charge was a noble experiment, but its run its course. Events have taken precedence. And furthermore, if he leaves now it means getting some compromise candidate in place whom the party can unite around (Tom Watson? Andy Burnham?).

If Corbyn doesn’t go the likelihood is that either the party will split (as happened during the Micheal Foot days). Or worse a certain Eagle (or “the Thrush” as I prefer to call her) will end up in charge. So reluctantly I’d argue, the time has come for Corbyn to step aside.

And if he is to stay on, he must nail his colours to the mast. The Tories are clearly in the Brexit camp (some reluctantly perhaps). The lib dems, Greens and the SNP have all been very clear, they speak for the 48%. They will try to block Brexit if they can. And if not, they will campaign on a ticket of re-entry into the EU at the earliest opportunity. With a surge in people joining the labour party, likely including many remain voters, it is simply not acceptable for Corbyn to be a closet leave voter. If he campaigns on a similar ticket to the other parties of the left and then betrays them afterwards (i.e. refuses to rejoin the EU), this will make him as bad as the liars in the leave camp, if not worse.

So if labour is now a pro-Brexit party he needs to say that and give the PLP and the rank and file party supporters the chance to decide if they want to stay in the labour party under such circumstances or not. Or indeed, if they want someone else as leader.

Where have all the Brexiters gone?

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The EU president Junker recently mocked Farage and Boris Johnson for being unpatriotic quitters, deserting the field straight after victory. Naturally it is baffling to the Europeans how they could campaign for a leave vote and then have no coherent plan for what to do next. It is certainly strange to see someone fight that hard for something, lying, cheating and generally selling their soul to the devil, only to walk away after they’ve won. And already there seems to be many who regret voting leave or campaigning for it.

Some leaver’s (and they better get use to hearing that, likely we’ll be putting it on their tombstones, here lies Joe Blogg’s, racist, bigot, leave voter) are trying to plug their ears and think happy happy thoughts. Why oh why doesn’t the EU just get a move on and offer us the obvious deal? after all it would be irrational for them not too….or in other words everyone else should keep their heads, despite the fact we just did something insane!

It all raises the question, why did they do it? which itself raises some disturbing answers:

1) Ego’s

In essence they broke the UK’s relationship with the EU and the rest of its trading partners around the world, because they could. The leave camp were too busy thinking could we, when they should have been asking should we? They just wanted to win the big argument for the sake of winning. Naturally one has to question the wisdom of electing any of these egomaniacs to any position of importance in future.

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2) Scenario fulfilment

The swivel eyed loons of the Brexit camp have followed a formula of blaming Europe and migrants for everything for many years now.

Can’t get a council house? no its not because Thatcher sold them off and stopped building any new ones, its migrants from the EU. NHS hospitals at breaking point? must be EU migrants fault (ignoring the fact that they tend to be younger and statistically less likely to be in hospital, plus many work in the NHS). Heavy traffic makes you late for work? no its not the fact we have a crap public transport system, it must be foreigners (i.e. at most 11% of the population) clogging up the roads. Health n’ Safety gone mad, no its not because the rat race mentality of Thatcherism has made the UK a more litigious society, its the EU’s fault for bringing in laws that stop household products from killing us like back in the good old days.

Voting Brexit was an act of scenario fulfillment. Now like a serial killer who has finally acted out his twisted fantasy they are horrified at what they’ve done. This provokes a classic fight or flight response and many of them have run.

3) Means to an end

Another consideration was that many of those in the leave campaign saw it as a means to an end. Let’s face it Gove (who has now achieved his dream of not becoming PM) or Andrea Leadsom (whose a bit of a fruitcake if we are honest) had almost no chance of serious career advancement. So, along with Boris, they saw backing leave as a means of clawing their way to the top. The damage that their actions did to the country (potentially the UK might now actually break up if Scotland leaves) was of little consequence to them.

Its ironic how many of the leave voters complain that politicians are too self serving, yet they just voted for one of the most blatant acts of political skulduggery in history. Frank Underwood is a complete amateur next to this lot!

4) Its a scam

Then there is the most disturbing theory, it was all a giant money making opportunity.

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Its no secret that a number in the leave camp had links to various hedge funds. Farage for example is well known for his connections with various shady offshore companies (he’s repeatedly refused to reveal his tax returns, suggesting he’s a lot to hide). Landsom used to work for various hedge funds and Barclay’s (enough said!). Boris too has some connections to the so-called “Mayfair set”, who donated money to his election campaigns.

Yes $2 trillion has been wiped off the global economy. But some of these hedge funds are known to have been shorting the market in anticipation of Brexit and are likely to have profited handsomely from it. So one possibility is that many in the Brexit camp were hired out to make sure Brexit happened, regardless of what sort of outrageous lies they had to tell to get it done.

So no wonder some of them are retiring. Having made off like bandits, they have no reason to stay. It makes sense to quietly retire somewhere….preferably in an offshore tax haven with no extradition treaties!

5) Quitters

Or it could just be that in his bluster, Juncker has hit the nail on the head. The fact is that many Brexiters are just lazy quitters. The sort of people who avoid responsibility. If someone collapsed in the street, they are the sort who’d keep going and pretend not to notice.

Its interesting to note how the first thing Brexiter’s want is a deal with the EU guaranteeing them all the benefits of EU membership, but without the responsibility. Or put another way, they want someone else to do all the hard thankless work of holding Europe together, while they milk the benefits. And what would happen if everyone took that same attitude?

6) Morons

Let’s face it, if you were dumb enough to believe all of the leave camp BS you are not exactly smarter than the average bear, are you? Its also worth noting that those lacking a degree were far more likely to vote leaveOkay there are some dumb uni graduates (presumably the graduates who voted leave!) and smart people who don’t have degrees, let’s not make unfair generalisations. But there does seem to be something of a correlation between intelligence and willingness to vote remain. Its also worth noting that many leave voters have a tendency towards climate change denial, which doesn’t exactly suggest we’re dealing with a bunch of Einstein’s.

It would also seem that quite a number of people voted leave only did so as a sort of protest vote. You know, stick it to the man….oh wait! shit! we actually won, that wasn’t supposed to happen! Apparently some have been ringing election officials to try and change their vote. Ah, sorry, no tap-backs! I mean how stupid are these people?

As one American commented, Brit’s no longer get to claim than Americans are dumb. The UK just did something far worse than electing G. W. Bush for 4 more years.

Either way, the fact is that leave campaigners have committed an act of national self harm on the UK.

EU citizens, or British ones, are not Tory pawns

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Teresa “I see Jihadi’s” May as well as Michael Jar, Jar” Gove and the government itself have all refused to guarantee the rights of EU citizens in the UK post-Brexit. In effect both she and a number of the others in the Tory race seem determined to use them as pawns and bargaining chips in any dealings with Brussels. Oddly enough this was originally a suggestion of UKIP, which just goes to show how its increasingly difficult to tell the difference between UKIP and the Tories.

Naturally this is both unnecessary and hugely distressing to many EU nationals. I mean there are reports of kids getting quite distressed about the possibility of being deported. And naturally what the UK does to EU citizens, the EU will respond in kind to UK citizens in the EU.

We also have stories of EU citizens rushing to apply for dual nationality, as well as UK citizens seeking EU citizenship. I mean take this one from the beeb where the descendant of a Jewish escapee from nazi Germany is trying to get a German passport to escape that now neo-fascist policies of the UK Tory party. How low have the leave voters dragged the country?

EU citizens are an important part of the UK economy, they pay taxes, work in the NHS, invest in the UK, many of the premiership’s footballers are EU citizens (I would hate to be a leave voter at the start of next season….you might want to keep that to yourself). Many UK citizens are married to EU citizens, even Farage. The government is in effect proposing to tear apart families and undermine the UK economy.

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A two year old hurls xenophobic abuse at a passing German pensioner, telling her to “go home”

Fallout of Brexit on third level education

In my sector of third level education, this failure to reassure on the rights of EU citizens is causing serious problems and anxiety for students . Universities have been fielding calls from EU citizens (some already here, some planning to come and study) who are naturally worried about the implications.

This is already have a measurable impact on the third level sector. Universities are reporting a drop in students already (in my department our first year intake is already down). Fearful of the impact of Brexit, research projects are being put on hold and UK academics are being pressured to withdraw from any grant applications (I have first hand accounts of grant applications with many months of work put into them that went into the bin this week). Academics in other EU states are also indicating that they are pulling back from collaboration with UK universities or academics (most grant applications require collaboration to be successful). And some uni’s are also reporting that Professors are either quitting or indicating they plan to quit the UK unless some sort of guarantee on their rights, or those of their research students and support staff, is issued soon.

And incidentally, if a Professor is the PI (principle investigator) on a research project, the money follows him out the door, as its always attached to the academic, not the university. Yes, if a professor is in receipt of say £1 million in EU grant money per year, and he decides to leave the UK and move to Germany or Ireland (how hard do you think he’ll have to look to find a new uni?), that £1 million/year follows him. Indeed, any equipment he’s bought as part of that project also follows him out the door. We had something like this happen a few years ago, when some professor got the hump (nothing to do with the EU, some sort of falling out) and left, taking his grant money, much of his support staff and his lab equipment with him.

So you can imagine the impact this will have. And its worth noting that this paralysis on collaboration, will have a knock effect for private companies (many of them small high tech start up firms), as they often provide matching funds for said research projects. Many of these firms are only in the UK to take advantage of UK’s academia, its diverse portfolio of experts from around the world and its access to EU research funding. They leave and many of the UK’s high tech firms leave, taking a large chuck of venture capital with them.

And yes, I am aware that the UK could negotiate access to EU research funding (but we’ll have to pay for that, so where’s your £350 million a week going to come from?), but that’s not going to matter if academics lose freedom of movement. Without some sort of a cast iron guarantee soon, the damage will already have been done.

Market Jitters continue

And its understandable that the economy continues to be jittery. I’ve seen some leave voters trying to delude themselves that the FTSE 100 has been recovering for the last few days (I assume they’re not familiar with the term “dead cat bounce”), so it can’t be that bad.

Well, no the FTSE 100 is 80% based on foreign stocks, the FTSE 250, which represent more British stocks has been falling the last few days, now down a full 10% in just two weeks. Some individual shares are down by much more than this (e.g. Aviva, has fallen by 25%, Barratts is down 35%). The pound has slid by 20% v’s the dollar, hitting rates unseen since 1980’s.

A falling pound, falling FTSE 250 yet a slight rise in the FTSE 100 (particularly mining stocks) tends to suggest that money is starting to flow out of the country in search of safe havens (read anywhere not run by a bunch of dopey racist bigots). And perhaps most worrying of all several large property investment firms have now moved to stop investors withdrawing cash from the funds. The last time they had to do that was back during the financial crisis. So lets be clear this is bad news….unless you don’t plan to retire….ever!

Oh, and as I hinted might happen a few days ago, the Bank of England has now allowed banks to relax capital rules (in order to stop a freeze on lending), a key post financial crisis measure designed to prevent the banks needing a bailout. So in essence the BoE is telling banks – be as reckless as you like boy’s, we’ll bail you out with taxpayers money.

Horse Trading

But I digress, clearly the economic effects are starting to be felt and this unwillingness to commit to being in the single market and guarantee the rights of EU citizens is not helping matters. If the government does not get a handle on the situation, events may spiral beyond their control. Already several financial firms seem to be drawing up relocation plans as too is Easyjet.

And there is a very simple horse trade here that will solve everything. As I mentioned in a prior post, they government will at some point have to get parliament to approve Brexit. It would make sense to do this before talking to the Europeans, as trying to do it afterwards could get very messy. So in return for pro-remain MP’s either voting for article 50 (or abstaining) we stick a rider on that bill that guarantee’s all EU citizens their rights within the UK and commits the UK to remain part of the single market (in essence the UK…or at least England & Wales…ends up like Norway…but without the fish!).

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Yes, this would tie the hands of the PM when negotiating with Brussels, but to be honest he or she’s not going to have a lot of wriggle room anyway on these matters. Yes, as I discussed before even the Norwegians will tell you EEA membership without being an EU member represents very poor value for money (its like being a Mighty Morph Power Ranger, but ending up as the pink one who is constantly having to be rescued by the others). And yes, it would be a betrayal of every promise made during the referendum campaign by the leave camp. But given that they seem to have deserted the field, its up to the grown ups to try and fix the mess. So if such measures are seen as going too far the obvious alternative is another referendum or a general election.

Playing the biggest con of all time

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I’m increasingly of the view that Trump’s motives for running my not be simply to inflate his own ego, but more likely to inflate his bank balance.

His campaign appears to be in trouble…and he’s not even the official nominee yet. Indeed, there’s still a quiet campaign to turn the convention into a sort of red wedding, deny him a majority on the first count (by getting delegates to abstain and deny him a majority) then fight a contested convention that could see Mitt Romney anyone elected as the nominee.

Unlikely to succeed, but it shows the uphill struggle he’s got within his own party. And nationally? well a recent poll, this one a state by state breakdown, suggests he is struggling in nearly all of the swing states and Hilary will likely win the presidency 347 to 191 in the electoral college. And any swing towards her could see him lose in states like Georgia or Arizona, normally considered safe Republican states.

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Oh, and he’s caught up in another storm over racism. He tweeted an image the other day, which the media then traced back to a white supremacist site. Implying that either Trump, or whoever manages his twitter feed likes to hang out on white supremacist websites.

Meanwhile, he’s also trailing in the vital money race. While Hilary is blazing out TV ads every night Trump is spending nothing…..largely because he has nothing to spend. Latest figures show he has just $1.3 million on hand in cash against the $42 million Hilary has in her war chest.

Indeed so desperate for cash is his campaign, he’s been sending out the begging bowl to anyone he can. Over the week he was caught spamming UK MP’s (amongst others) for contributions. This naturally resulted in an angry response. Furthermore it is illegal under US election law to knowingly solicit and accept campaign contributions from foreign donors. An investigation is already underway.

But what’s that you say, he’s a billionaire (maybe!), why isn’t he spending some of his own money on the campaign? Well actually, the opposite is happening. He’s been funnelling money from campaign contributions (i.e. donated by all those coal miners and the veterans who showed up to Trump rallies) and putting it straight in his own pocket. One fifth of all of his campaign spending has found its way into his own businesses. He even charges his campaign for use of his own private jet and the rent on his Trump tower apartment when he’s living there. He might actually finish the election with more money in his pocket than when he started.

And Trump’s campaign is anything but fugal. While his campaign staff is just a tenth the size of Hilary’s team, he’s spending about the same amount on hotel rooms. So either Hilary has her lot sleeping ten to a bed in a Motel 6, or Trump is hiring out the ritziest hotels he can and ordering room service.

In short Trump’s chances of being president are diminishing fast, although not fast enough I’d say. And if his current campaign financing is any clue as to how he’d run the economy it would appear his plan would be to milk the country dry. Trump has shown himself to be little short of a sleazy con artist, a country golf club hustler, just one who appears to be trying to pull off the biggest con in history.