Brexit reality bites


So before the referendum we were told that there would be no exit bill when the UK left the EU. We won’t be paying a penny. As Boris Johnson put it the EU would be told to “go whistle” for its money. We’d stare Fritz straight in the eye and say nien…..

…….of course what the brexiters didn’t mention is that we weren’t hearing them right. Rather than saying “nein” what they actually planned to say to the EU was “nine“, as in “is ninety billion euro’s ok?“.Once Britain’s rebate on EU assets is taken into account, this will result in a net payment by the UK of £50-60 billion, depending on the breaks…paid in euros btw!

We were told the PM could never agree to this. That there would be rioting in the streets, the tabloids would abandon her (what and throw their lot in with Corbyn?) and the cabinet would resign en-mass. And this morning…..nothing. Largely because the brexiters want the news cycle to move on. They were warned repeatedly that this day would come, before and after the referendum and I mean years before. The truth is most of them merely see brexit as a ladder to further their careers and they understand full well it is an act of national self harm. No matter what happens the UK will be worse off after brexit, that is the unescapable truth.

In these “talks” Brussels holds all the cards. The EU doesn’t have to be nasty about it. As Donald Tusk advised at the start of this process, the mere act of brexit will be punishment enough on Britain (a punishment that was self inflicted by the UK on itself). Sixty million do not dictate terms to a trade block of 500 million, especially when the leadership of said 60 million can’t even agree what it is that they want. Expect similar climb downs on the Irish border and the ECJ in the coming weeks.

And the EU was very clear that this money is not buying the UK a trade deal. What the UK is buying is a choice between a Norway plus model that will grant free access to EU markets, but at the expense of surrendering sovereignty to Brussels, paying about 90% of what the UK currently pays into the EU budget and only very limited changes to freedom of movement. Or a Canadian style arrangement, although that will be incompatible with an open border in Ireland, so some compromise will be needed here, likely by throwing the unionists under the bus.

Its worth nothing that there are two unionist parties in the Northern Ireland, the DUP and the UUP. The UUP campaigned for a remain vote, not because they are a bunch of hummus eating europhiles. But because, unlike the DUP, they aren’t moronically stupid. They understood all too well that Westminster will prioritise English interests over the interests of a couple of bigoted creationists in Northern Ireland. If that means effectively paving the way to a united Ireland, well so be it. So before Arelene Foster has a tissy, keep in mind she is in a mess of her making.

Now a word from the UK’s greatest ally

Indeed there were question marks about who tweeted those 3 racist videos to Trump. I’d guess that would be Trump’s British drinking buddy, Nigel Farage (who has well known associations with the UK far right). He correctly guessed that Trump would re-tweet them, burying the brexit divorce bill story and taking it off the front pages. However Trump’s outbursts and his rebuke to Theresa May should underline the other problem with brexit. In effect, if we follow through with the brexiters plan, the UK is trading sovereignty it shares with EU states and handing that sovereignty into the sweaty palms of Donald Trump. Its not so much a case of the UK becoming the 51st state (that would give the UK voting rights in US elections), its the UK becoming another Puerto Rico.


Again as always, the brexiters are poor students of history. If they’d paid more attention, they’d know the period from the end of World War 2 to the UK joining the EU was a frustrating time for the UK. Time and again, the UK found its interests being trampled on by a now dominant US. The Suez crisis, numerous proxy wars fought out in commonwealth countries during the cold war and the Skybolt crisis to name a few. The Skybolt crisis did work out rather well for the UK in the end, but it so frustrated them that, according to De Gaulle, this was one of the reasons why the UK wanted to join the EU in the first place.

After the UK joined, the relationship improved, simply because the US needed an ally in the EU clubhouse. Now that the UK is leaving, that abusive relationship of the past is going to resume (much as I predicted would happen back in 2011). I mean can you imagine any past UK PM (assuming the UK voted remain) putting up with Donald Trump in the way Theresa May has had too? The UK has no choice now but to put up with whatever abuse they get from the US, regardless of who is in charge. Meanwhile the French are already positioning themselves to be America’s new best buddy inside the EU.

But we’re going to at least get a great trade deal off the US aren’t we? Well when Trump says it will be “great”, he means for the US. The UK, notably UK farmers and manufacturers are going to get screwed six ways.

So the can anyone who voted leave please explain to me how paying £50-60 billion to get the crap beaten out of us by both the EU and US, risking the peace of the good Friday agreement and ultimately becoming a vassal state of the US, is a good idea. I mean if the brexiters want to get robbed and beaten up that badly, just go to into any pub in Glasgow and tell em how great it is to be in jolly old England….


Brexiters want to build a wall at the Irish border and make the Irish pay for it

An extraordinary extract from a radio interview with brexier Kate Hoey, in which she suggested that not only was a hard border a swell idea but that the Irish should pay for it. Many were quick to draw parallels to Donald Trump’s comments as regards the Mexican border.


Needless to say her words have been noted in Dublin, and like Trump’s, they have simply enraged politicians there and confirmed for them why the British can’t be trusted any more (hence why the EU must insist they pay their bills first and give written guarantees on the Irish border question). It looked like we were going to get an election in Ireland, but the resignation of a key politician means its been deferred for now. My guess is that they want to keep the government going for at least the rest of the year so they can maintain a strong line on brexit.

Now the funny thing here is, Kate Hoey is from the labour party. Like Corbyn she’s from the hard left and sees the EU as an impediment to his/her socialist workers paradise. This is why I’m as skeptical of left wing populists as the right wing ones. Both live in a fantasy world divorced from reality.

For example, Corbyn’s key reason for leaving the EU is that he thinks EU law prevents the re-nationalisation of the railways or power companies. Of course this ignores the reality that most of the UK’s privatised public services are owned by state run quango’s from across Europe. EDF energy for example, is owned by the French government, ScotRail is owned by Abellio (which isn’t a stomach complaint, but a Dutch government owned train company), who also own West Midlands trains. Of course in of itself, this merely makes a mockery of Thatcher’s policy of privatisation. It simply betray’s the fact that what’s actually happening is we are paying other European governments to own our public services for us, because its against the Tories free market religion to do so. But either way, clearly Corbyn and the hard left of the labour party, are as deluded on this issue as the Tories.

As for the Irish border, I heard it suggested by another brexiter how we could have a “seamless” border just like that between Canada and the US. You’ll first notice how they’re no longer holding up Switzerland or Norway as examples (which shows how their position has shifted from the one they took during the referendum), as they understand that given the likely direction of brexit (with the UK outside of the single market and travel area), its simply not possible to have customs arrangements similar to these two countries. However, the Canadian/US border is certainly not “seamless” or unguarded.

For example, consult the train timetable for the Amtrak Maple leaf, and you’ll notice how its held up for an hour to an hour and a half each way at the US/Canadian border. Well having been on that train before, I can tell you that’s about as long as it takes for the border guards to work their way through the train, stamp everyone’s passports and check everyone’s luggage. And that’s actually a fairly efficiently run border crossing, an hour hold up is small compared to the several hours you might spend at some other border crossing’s around the world (for people, it can take days for goods and cargo to clear customs). And this is only because the US and Canada have existing agreements on trade and travel of the very sort that will expire on brexit.

Bottom line, as I’ve discussed previously, if there’s any sort of difference in tariff’s one side of the border or another, the smugglers will try to exploit that (with most of the proceeds going into the pockets of terrorist groups both sides of the border). It is logically impossible for the UK to have a different immigration policy to Ireland (and thus the EU) if we share an open border, as there’s no way for us to stop EU citizens crossing it (we have this thing in Ireland called “a constitution” which gives people all of these “rights“…the brexiters might want to google those terms some time). And a hard border would violate the good Friday agreement, potentially leading to the troubles reigniting (try building up the UK economy post-brexit while London’s under siege again from IRA bombers).

This is what worries the Irish about brexit and why the Irish government is taking such a strong line on this issue. We can see the brexiters, both the Tories and Corbyn, are deluded. They have no clue about the history of the region or the long term implications of what they are doing. They reckon everything’s going to go their way and they can improvise a solution to the Irish border on the back of a fag packet the night before the UK leaves.

Of course, we know that won’t work. We know that tax revenue will take a hit, businesses in the UK will be driven to the wall and the Irish won’t be able to export anymore. And migrants will be crossing over laughing all the way, sharing their experiences on social media as they do so, leaving the tabloid bigot brigade foaming at the mouth. In reaction to these tabloid headlines, the UK government will hastily bring in border controls, no doubt they will claim as a “temporary” measure, that will essentially become permanent….and pretty soon after that the British and Irish army are back to refereeing roadside bombing competitions.


….and just so we are are clear, no we won’t be paying for your fu*king wall. I’ll let former Mexican President Vicente Fox summarise for me on this issue….

Changing times…or not!

So prince Harry is going to marry American catholic divorcee Meghan Markle….much to the horror of the Daily Mail readers one assumes. I was delighted….until I realised we aren’t going to get a bank holiday for it! Damn! 😦


Some examples of the tabloid’s fair and balanced reporting on this story….not that they’re racist or anything!

Naturally many have pointed out how they are a mixed race couple (ya I wonder how her family feels about her marrying a ginger 🙂 ). How this is very much this is a sign of the times, how much things have changed. Recall how back in the 1930’s King Edward was forced to abdicate because he wanted to marry another American Divorcee Wallis Simpson.

Well, as I seemed to remember pointing out in a prior post, while the British establishment certainly cringed at the thought of an American as a royal, this was a minor concern. The real reason why Edward was forced out was because he was a goose stepping nazi sympathiser (much like the Daily Mail!). And the British couldn’t very well have one of them on the throne, when it looked like they might be fighting his buddies on the continent in a few years time. That is the real reason why he was forced out, the whole Wallis Simpson affair was really just an excuse.

Yet now today, we have a US ally who is run by a racist puppet of the Kremlin. While the UK government now openly advocates racism and xenophobia towards foreigners. Brexit amounts to undoing many of the things a previous generation fought for. Recall the European court of human rights was Churchill’s idea, and generally considered a key part of his legacy. And he also argued in favour of a European union in some way shape or form.

So really the only thing that’s changed is that the racists and bigots have gotten smarter at hiding their views.


The height of hypocrisy

Dave Granlund /

The sex abuse allegations against numerous individuals, most notably Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and senate candidate Roy Moore are very worrying, not least because of how long its taken for these allegations to surface and the manner in which they came out via social media. It is difficult to believe that nobody knew what was going on, it seems to have been a known fact for sometime which nobody thought to like maybe report to someone….such as the police.

This also means that we’ve ended up in a situation where its a bit of a witch hunt, a trial by media (and worst still social media!). There is perhaps a risk of things snowballing with people who are guilty of nothing being swept up in the witch hunt. Hence why I’d take some of these allegations with a pinch of salt. Now that said, one has to acknowledge that the scale and the depth of the allegations against the aforementioned three at the centre of this scandal (notably Harvey Weinstein) does lend one to conclude there’s no smoke without fire.

Even so, given the numerous allegations surrounding Roy Moore, one has to question why is he still in the senate race? Particularly given the massive big deal the republicans made about Bill Clinton’s behaviour. It stinks of hypocrisy. I mean firstly, didn’t the GOP think to vet him before they allowed him to run as a candidate?


General protocol for political parties is to vet potential candidates, and anyone who even wants to work for a politician, to make sure there’s no skeletons in their closet. And the general protocol upon finding anything like this would be to disqualify said candidate (for the time being at the very least) and tell him to go hire a lawyer and sort this out. Its better for him, and better for his alleged victims, to have this dealt with via the courts, rather than it being aired publicly on the 24 hr news cycle.

And speaking of trial by media, for some elements of the media, notably Fox News (an organisation battling its own sexual harassment allegations), we are seeing the opposite with Roy Moore. With them acting as apologists for a potential sex offender and going after his accusers.

But even so, one has to question how is it that nobody in the Alabama republican party knew about these allegations. I mean he was banned from a mall at one point because he kept creeping school girls out. How did they not know this! One has to conclude they did, but didn’t see it as reason enough to disqualify him. But okay, people screw up, Hollywood definitely screwed up with Harvey Weinstein et al, but at least they’ve taken some action now.

Which brings me to the next point, why is he still on the ballot? Why is the party still backing him? It would make sense for him to withdraw, deal with these allegations and if there’s any substance to them, let him be punished accordingly. If not, well there’s another senate race coming up in the mid-terms in a years time.

Now the GOP will probably claim, oh but we can’t exclude him from the ballot, same way we couldn’t stop Trump (who has spent millions covering up his sexual misconduct). To which my response is bunk. There are rules and by-laws within all political parties through which a candidate can be forced out (rule 9 of the republican party for example). Quite apart from the obvious nuclear option – cut off his funding, refuse to co-operate with him, endorse his opponent and make it clear that if he is elected he will be bared from joining the republican caucus in the senate. The very fact that they aren’t doing any of this (nor did they do it to Trump) suggests that republicans are okay with a potential paedophile as a senator.

And the fact Roy Moore’s polling numbers haven’t dipped suggests that pedo’s are welcome in Alabama. Again, as with Trump, evangelicals are making a mockery of their own supposed belief’s.

But to be honest, I’m not really that surprised. For it just goes to prove that republicans don’t believe in anything, not god, not conservatism, not free markets (given how they’ve crapped on all of these principles over the last twelve months). In truth the GOP and its supporters are now simply a tribe, a cargo cult.

Their only goal is to win and win by any means necessary. Not because they want to do anything positive. They just want to win so they can satisfy their own warped egos. They have no big ideas, no plans to change anything, other than to pass a few bills favourable to those who will bankroll their campaigns. And if winning means electing a sex offender as president, or as a senator, then so be it.

Brexit….or how to lose friends and alienate allies


After six rounds the brexit talks are stalled. The Irish, frustrated with hearing Theresa May say one thing, Dave2 another and Boris something else, are threatening to veto any attempt to move onto trade talks unless they get a written guarantee of no hard border. Donald Tusk has given May a two week ultimatum to get Dave2 to pull his finger out of his butt and make some meaningful offer on the three core issues, citizens rights, trade and the divorce bill. Dave2 however argues that its all the EU’s fault. The EU he says is putting politics over prosperity, the UK has compromised enough now its the EU’s turn.

Well the thing is that the entire brexit enterprise amounts to putting politics over prosperity. And furthermore, the EU’s counter argument is that they have to stick to their guns, the short term hit they’d take from the UK leaving without a deal, would pale in comparison to the long term implications, both economic and political, of allowing the UK to gain an unfair advantage over its former EU partners. Never mind the political implications of failing to get an agreement on citizens rights and the Irish border.

And ultimately an uncontrolled brexit without a deal would hurt the UK more than the EU. A Dutch parliamentary investigation (and the Dutch have been among the most pro-UK of the EU nations) put this at a cost of up to 4% of GDP for the EU….although they also said the UK would take a +18% GDP wallop (ouch!).

I think there’s a failure of the brexiters to realise what sort of damage this whole process is doing to the UK’s reputation as an honest broker. Some of those who you would normally count as the UK’s friends in the room (such as the Irish and the Dutch) are becoming increasingly sceptical and critical. And this is all a consequence of broken promises, magical thinkingfrom the brexiters and unguarded comments from unruly ministers (given May’s complete lack of control over her own government). And from what I’m hearing from those abroad, they are looking on with increasing scepticism and are rapidly losing respect for the UK and its citizens.


How the Brexiters see themselves…..

For example, this week a Tory minister stated that the Irish were only making a big issue about the border because the Taoiseach was coming under pressure from Sinn Fein (thus trying to make a dog whistle connecting the Irish government to terrorists). Suffice to say this went down like a lead balloon in Dublin. Varadkar despises Sinn Fein and won’t go near them with a barge pole (well other that to whack them over the head with it). And frankly with his Jerryness set to retire soon, I don’t think Varadkar could care less what a soon-to-be-pensioner thinks. So if you’re wondering why the Irish came out of the boxes fighting this week, this is what happens when a PM loses control of her ministers and they start making off the cuff the remarks to keep the tabloids happy.

And the message from the brexiters is hardly consistent. They’ve flip flopped more than John Kerry at a beach footwear convention. As James O’Brien at LBC has pointed out the message from the brexiters has constantly shifted and contradicted itself. For example, one of their core mantra’s going right back to the referendum itself was that they could rely on the Germans and Angela Merkel to pressure the EU to grant the UK a favourable trade deal for the sake of German industry. But this week they’ve turned a full 180 degrees and been arguing that Merkel’s difficulty is the UK’s opportunity. Sufficient to say, if you think such lunacy is going unnoticed around the world, think again.


…….How the rest of the world sees them now

Let me put it this way, suppose a used car salesman sold you a motor, offered you a guarantee, but then when the car broke down after just a few days and he refused to pay you back, how would you feel? If a fed days later he offered to do you a great deal on an nice little runner, would you take him up on it? Probably not. The brexiters seem to think they can screw the EU over, refuse to pay their bills, make unreasonable demands. Then the day after brexit expect to be able to do business with the EU as if nothing has happened.

And they seem to be assuming that the rest of the world don’t have access to this thing called “the internet” and thus won’t realise what sort of incompetent arseholes they behaved like while negotiating with the EU, how they reneged on past UK commitments and promises. And that these other states (Canada, China, Australia, etc.) will then trust the British at their word and lavish them with gifts and a trade deal that puts them at a disadvantage too. Well no, that’s not how the world works. You develop a reputation for being disingenuous, as the UK is doing, then that label tends to stick. You’ll be lucky if anyone offers you any sort of deal at all.

I used to work in an engineering consultancy and there were some potential clients we won’t work for. Why? Surely the customers always right? Well not when he’s a pain to work with and keeps sending you bouncy cheques. And similarly there were contractors in the city whom we would never give work too. And I mean we’d ship people in from overseas or even get someone from Dublin to do it, rather than give the job to them. Why? Because they made such an awful mess of a previous job that frankly even if they offered to do the work for free, it still wouldn’t be worth our while having them on site. This is the consequences of developing a bad reputation. Nobody will do business with you, not at any price.

As a result, the UK is increasingly coming across as a nation of spiv’s and Arthur Daley types. In fact that’s not even accurate. Arthur Daley was at least street wise, what we’d call a cute hoor back in Ireland. The brexiters are not. They are a bunch of out of touch, upper class twits who have lived their entire lives in a home counties bubble. They are the sort of people who go to Paris or Rome and get conned by a street grifter (hate to break it to you Boris, but there’s no such thing as a wallet inspector, I don’t think he’s coming back)….which probably explains their hatred of everything European.

You do wonder if they should slip a line in the great repeal plagiarise EU law bill to change the national anthem of the UK to either the theme song from Minder or only fools and horses. It would be a more accurate representation of how the rest of the world sees the UK post-brexit.

News roundup

I have been away on business for a couple of weeks. I thought it would be useful to do an update.

Bloody pathetic woman


Prior to the election Theresa May promised to be “a bloody difficult woman” in pursuit of brexit negotiations. I recall joking that given her behaviour during the election (basically hiding from public appearances and avoiding TV debates), her strategy would probably actually involve locking herself in the loo for the duration of talks and waiting for the EU to push a favourable agreement under the door.

Well I was sort of right. Her solution to dealing with the EU was to go to Brussels and turn on the water works. And the EU “conceded” something to her, just to get this blubbering wailing mess out of the room. Of course they didn’t really concede anything, they simply agreed to talk privately among themselves about what a potential transitional trade deal would look like, which they’d already agreed to do prior to the summit, the only difference was they made this public, giving May the illusion of having won some concession when in truth she’d won nothing.

And the early results of those talks aren’t encouraging for the brexiters. It pretty much states what we’ve long been telling them. You’ll have to pay the exit bill. A trade deal will take a considerable period of time to negotiate, not only long after March 2019 but probably extending past the next general election (leaving the country in economic limbo for a considerable period of time). Access to the EU market in any form will mean accepting all of those pesky EU rules they despise on the UK statute books. Plus we’ll either need to hire several thousand new civil servants to administer and regulate those rules or pay the EU a few billion to do it all for us….oh and you’ve a month to make a decision, so no pressure!

Oh and the latest word from the WTO regarding the UK’s future trading relationship isn’t positive either. The UK could face charges as high as 10-50% hit on the cost of its exports after March 2019, not just to the EU but to a host of other countries the EU has existing trade deals with. Yes, we could do a deal with the US, ditch EU rules. But you’re assuming that all the companies who are trading with the EU, who will then instantly lose access to their customers in the EU (as they will no longer be in compliance with EU rules and thus their products will be banned from the EU), can simply wave a magic wand and find new customers in the US and establish a supply chain to those customers on the other side of the Atlantic…and do all of that over night.

Of course the problem for the UK is that there is now an open civil war ongoing in the Tory party. Micheal Fallon, a May supporter has just got taken out, so in return she took the opportunity to take out leave supporter Priti Patel (although to be fair, suggesting international development aid should be given to the Israeli army for use in occupied territories the UK doesn’t recognise Israeli control over is a sackable offence for a minister in any circumstances).

In order to get the compromises the EU wants one or both of the main leadership candidates, Dave2 (the person whom the media tycoons have chosen to lead the party) or Boris have to basically take a big bite out of a shit sandwich (if you’ll pardon the bluntness of my language), because May’s already eaten all the crusts. They would have to sign off on paying the EU tens of billions of pounds (having promised in the referendum the UK would be £350 million a week richer), they’d have to accept some level of freedom of movement, recognition of the ECJ and likely leave northern Ireland half in and half out of the rest of the UK. Either of them does any of this and they can rule out wining the post-May leadership contest. And yet she can’t sack them and put someone more complaint into their jobs. So in short, the UK has become ungovernable .

Hindu fascism

Should you wonder what possessed Mrs Patel to go to Israel without authorisation, try to overturn a long standing UK (as well as US, EU and UN) backed position on the occupied territories and then propose her department give UK development aid money to the Israeli army. Well we need to get past the idea that racism and bigotry is something that only white men are responsible for. The crisis in Myanmar and the persecution of a Muslim minority (by Buddhists under Aung San Suu Kyi) being a case in point. Unfortunately a significant number of Hindu’s, such as Mrs Patel are also fanatically islamophobic to an extend that makes Nigel Farage sound like a moderate.

Now naturally I’m not saying all Hindu’s are bigots, but certainly some are. And while I’d like to say its few on the fringes (who’ve probably made the mistake of reading the Daily Mail), in truth were are talking a fairly significant number of them. The BJP, the ruling party in India, at present, is very much anti-Muslim and more than a little racist. Indeed they are basically an Indian version of UKIP.

Their policies have included such highlights as knocking down Muslim temples (leading to massive riots that killed thousands), trying to introduce astrology as a university degree, arguing that some ancient Hindu civilisation we’ve never heard of once existed (and even conducted nuclear tests) and professing a belief that cow dung can cure cancer. They also want to stop tourists visiting the Taj Mahal, which they argue is a Shiva temple (its a mausoleum for a Muslim emperor’s wife)…..Just to reiterate, these nutters are running India and have access to nuclear weapons (well if they put the astrologers in charge of missile guidance we’ve nothing to worry about I suppose!).

And Hindu fascists have also been very quick to find common cause with other similar groups around the world. More than a few thought that India was on the wrong side during World War II, notably Savitri Devi a British fascist and Hindu convert, who is revered by both Hindu extremists and the alt-right to this day. I’m going to take a wild guess and assume Mrs Patel kept didn’t mention this little fact of history to her Israeli hosts.



The Catalan crisis is a crisis not so much due to the Catalan’s pursuit of a referendum (assuming any referendum had the proper checks and balances, e.g. the need for a full majority, i.e. 50% of the voters to back it, they’d have probably lost it), but the conservative government in Madrid’s refusal to allow it and the brutal crack down before and after.

They’ve now likely just succeeded in convincing many Catalan’s that Madrid can’t be trusted to stay out of the regions affairs. By suspending the regional government they’ve left Catalonia with two choices, full independence, or direct rule from Madrid. And by making martyrs of the leadership, they’re just going to provide a totem for independence supporters to rally around.

And there is history here. The reason why Ireland isn’t part of the UK is because of events during world war one (a war which had nothing to do with Ireland, yet we got dragged into it) and the crackdown by the British after the Easter rising. Both events convinced the Irish that even with the proposed home rule we’d been promised London simply couldn’t be trusted not to meddle in Irish affairs. And hence we were better off outside of the UK, regardless of what economic price we had to pay to get that independence. This is not far from were Catalonia is now.

Hence while the sensible solution would be to hold a proper poll on the matter, something the left wing parties in Madrid have been proposing for sometime I might add, the window of opportunity where that could settle the matter has probably now passed. Up until recently the assumption was that (as noted) such a poll would go against the Catalan independence movement, while now its 50/50 either way. Also even if such a poll were held and even if it was a firm No vote, I don’t think the Catalan independence movement will pack up and go home. Having been beaten up by the cop’s they aren’t going to give up until they get what they want, so in essence Madrid has radicalised them. And its only a matter of time before some hot head starts setting off bombs. As JFK said “those who make political change impossible make violent revolution inevitable”.

And some of those bombs will be going off in Brussels, for the EU very firmly backed Madrid when they should have stayed neutral. This pro-Madrid stance was probably what emboldened Madrid enough that they felt comfortable sending in the riot squads. The EU’s reasoning has been that they don’t want to encourage other separatist movements. However my suspicion is that all they’ve succeeded in doing is guaranteeing that if Catalonia does separate from Spain it will be a messy breakup of Spain and that the other independence movements around Europe will now be emboldened to carry on regardless. In short the EU has made life more difficult for itself not less.

So clear the solution here, given the impossibility of a pig headed Spanish PM changing course, is for the EU to act. They should put in place a contingency plan for what to do if a country who is an EU member breaks up. If Catalonia must leave the EU (as suggested) then so too must Spain (as the conditions on which it entered the EU have now changed as well). Or both are allowed to transition into EU members. If that offends Madrid, then tough. Otherwise Brussels could find itself facing violent attack from separatists from across the continent, which would create a crisis that makes brexit look like a storm in a tea cup.

Not so Trumped up charges


The first charges in the Mueller investigation into Trump’s Russia connections have been made and needless to say the reaction from him and his supporters has been similar to the reaction you’d get from a toddler whose hand you caught in the cookie jar, a combination of bawling and counter claims against his sister, or in this case Hilary.

There are allegations made that suggest Hilary may have gotten funds from a pro-Putin source and certainly there’s some smoke here, but not necessarily a fire. It should be noted that it is a known tactic of Putin to secretly give money to his political opponents, usually through back channels and anonymous allies, such that the opposition don’t realise what’s going on, only to then to allow this bombshell to be leaked to the media at a time when it is most inconvenient to those opponents. That he would play the same trick with Hilary would hardly be a surprise.

However, even if the worse case scenario was true, Hilary knew about this money, well two wrongs don’t make a right. Trump’s still in trouble, he can have the cell next to her. It is deeply ironic how everything he’s accused Hilary of, Trump and his administration have now also done. He’s had his own email scandal, his own Benghazi. Yet the GOP have launched no investigation, they are too busy investigating Hilary.

To draw an analogy, its like seeing a mafia don being dragged into court and on the way in he passes a hot dog stand and randomly accuses the owner of that stand of not paying his taxes. And as a response the federal grand jury suspends his case while they launch an investigation into the hot dog stand owner’s tax affairs. And again, its the sort of behaviour that one regularly sees play out in corrupt African dictatorships.

Perhaps more worryingly is Trump’s warmongering towards Iran and North Korea. Its been suggested that he might launch some sort of attack against these countries in order to deflect attention from the Russia investigation, which does actually sound plausible. And that’s very worrying because the likely consequences of such an intervention are unlikely to be pretty serious. Tens of thousands of dead and the destabilisation of the world, probably leading to a stand off between the US on one side and China and Russia and their allies on the other sort of serious. All to massage the ego of one guy.

Paradise papers


The latest paradise paper leaks are oh so predictable. Some time ago I read a book called Treasure Islands about the offshore industry and many of the very mechanisms discussed in the book are identical to what these leaks reveal. I’m sorry but this is news only to the blind and naïve.

It also explains why when the brexiters threaten to turn the UK into a tax haven post-brexit, the response from Brussels is to start howling with laughter. As author Nicholas Shaxson puts it “the largest tax haven in the world is in London”. Most of the dirty work of tax avoidance actually takes place in offices within London itself. Offshore on the tax havens, they’ll have a few lawyers and officials to sign documents and that’s it. And to be fair to the UK, Delware in the US and Luxembourg in the EU means there are equivalent operations within both the US and EU.

It would be all too easy for the EU, UK and US to simply ban all financial trade with this regions, or slap some sort of financial transaction tax on all such activity. Or worse, adopt tax and salary transparency laws (meaning everybody’s earnings and tax payment records become public, meaning it’s very easy to work out who is paying their taxes and who is on the fiddle allowing tax dodgers to be easily caught). The fact is that it is an open secret that, as one billionaire put it “only the little people pay taxes”. The rich can avoid them not because there’s no way to shut down tax havens, but because the politicians are too scared to open that can of worms and try to do something about it.

Sparkling hypocrisy

In the US, the land of the free ain’t so free. You can’t for example buy Haggis, because the FDA says its unsafe (and if the brexiters have their way, those FDA rules might well apply in the UK too). Nor can you buy a kinder surprise. And fireworks are banned in some US states. Okay, fireworks are actually dangerous, but even in elf n’safety obsessed UK we’ve seemed to find a way of regulating that to a point that’s acceptable. But no so US states still say, no fireworks, they’re too dangerous, even sparklers are banned…..But a semi automatic rifle, oh they are perfectly safe! Go figure!

A matter of education

Before the EU referendum farmers were warned that subsidies would likely go, that they’d face the risk of rising costs, being cut off from the EU markets and losing access to seasonal workers from the EU. Well now we’ve seen how a cliff edge hard brexit and a sudden imposition of high tariffs could cut off that market access (and as noted earlier its not as if they can just pick up the phone and find someone else on April 1st 2019 who wants to buy several hundred tons of cheese). Farmers costs have risen rapidly and they are worrying signs that immigration controls could cut off access to seasonal workers, raising questions as to how they are going to harvest their crops post-brexit. And this is not just a problem for farmers, it will impact on food prices as well.

And inevitably a report has now come out suggesting farm subsidies should be scraped. They point to New Zealand as a model for British farming, ignoring the fact that New Zealand has a tiny population where their costs are lower and their farms are massive. The small holdings of the type we see in the UK either don’t exist or don’t produce the same things as we do (most smaller farms are vineyards producing wine or grow fruits….not a really an option for UK farmers!). The NHS was also warned that it would face staffing shortages, which again predictably are starting to come true.


One has to question where brexiters are maybe a little thick. And actually since you mention it, polls do show a link between education and which way people voted in the referendum. Those with a high level of education voting largely remain, those with no education beyond GCSE’s were the most likely to vote leave.

So now you know what happened to the farmer who didn’t pay attention at school. He voted for brexit, lost his farm and ended up as a poor cotter on the estate of some laird with no healthcare or pension in his old age.

The centenary of violence celebrated

The wheel of violence that has ground over the middle east for decades rolls on. While ISIS looks like its now more or less beaten, fighting has broken out between the Kurds and the Iraqi government forces around the oil rich town of Kirkuk. The Kurds (some 30 million strong) are the largest ethnic group in the world without a homeland of their own.

So we can see how this cycle of violence will just continue, the Kurds get radicalised, they start a four way war with Turkey, Iran, Iraq and what’s left of Syria, who btw are also starting to turn on the US backed free Syrian forces. 5,306 days since G. W. Bush declared mission accomplished, the fire he lit in the middle east continues to burn and it will likely continue to do so for decades more.

Indeed, strictly speaking it wasn’t G. W. Bush who lit the fire in the middle east, but the British. One hundred years ago a UK diplomat made the Balfour declaration, something that was recently celebrated in Israel, as they see it as the first acceptance of Israeli statehood. To be honest, its not the sort of thing I’d celebrate. As you are celebrating a hundred years of violence, which has seen more than a few Jews as well as Muslim’s killed btw.

And the thing is that what the British were proposing to do was use the Jews as their colonial stooges. A long standing British policy of colonisation was to drive out any disloyal locals, steal their land and “plant” some convenient lackies on that land, who were generally people they wanted out of the UK for some reason or another (the convicts sent to Australia, the Presbyterian’s in Northern Ireland, the Puritans in North America).

And it wasn’t even the local Muslims whom the British were worried about. At the time they were fighting world war one (where Germany was backed by the Turks and a number of other actors in the region) and the middle east was a key battle ground, given the Royal Navy’s dependence on oil. The first unit of British troops deployed overseas during world war one went not to Belgium but Basra to defend the oil fields. And the British, all too aware that post-war they’d face competition from their long standing rivals the French, wanted someone in the region loyal to them, rather than the French. So in essence Israel is celebrating how they became pawns of the British Empire.

And there is a further cruel irony to the Balfour deceleration. This British policy of both divide and rule (which one of the reasons for the violence and bigotry in India I referred too earlier) and planting of loyal supporters on someone else’s land was greatly admired by the nazi’s. In essence what they were doing in Eastern Europe was simply trying to copy what the British had been doing for centuries in other parts of the world (in a slightly crueller way, but same basic principle). So that’s hardly the sort of thing we should be celebrating, least of all the Israeli’s.

And so this wheel of violence will not only roll onwards, but we literally have some in the region celebrating its centenary.