Brexiter pissing contest to be televised

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So Theresa May and comrade general Corbyn are to have a TV debate about brexit and May’s deal, for some reason, even thought they could just as easily have it in the house of commons (where it would also be televised). In effect both are going to rub in each others faces the short comings of their respective brexit policies. And on an issue both plan to deny the public a vote on (so why have the debate in the first place?). In short, its going to be a televised pissing contest….which Corbyn will probably lose.

Is May’s deal a bad deal? Well obviously yes, you’d struggle to find anyone who thinks it isn’t. Even she seems to accept its a crap deal, but at least its better than a no deal dive off a cliff. The official word from the treasury and the BoE is that it will dent the economy. Inevitably May’s deal is the consequences of her setting red lines to appease the hard right of her party. But like Cameron, appeasing the right just makes them demand more and nothing short of a nuclear strike on Brussels would appease them. So it was a pointless task from day one and this is the consequences.

On the other hand, Corbyn’s plan of making him PM and he’ll negotiate a better deal would only work if he has access to a time machine (anyone got doc Brown or Marty McFly’s number?). The EU have said there will be no re-negotiation. I suspect that’s not entirely true, they’ve said the same in the past and then allowed negotiations to go right down to the wire. But equally you’ve got to be realistic as to what can be negotiated in such a short period of time.

In other words, they’d probably insist the starting point would be either May’s deal or some generic off the shelf option, such as the Norway model. Between now and March 29th and perhaps into the transition period, the UK would be negotiating some variations on this basic frame work. Which means on day one Corbyn would, with parliamentary support, be signing up to said deal before he even has a chance to speak to the EU. And both the Norway model and May’s deal would violate his own red lines. And he’d need to get such a deal through parliament first.

So realistically Corbyn has only three options, a 2nd referendum, cancel brexit or support May’s deal. The first two would require the availability of a team of wild horses to drag Corbyn over the dead bodies of Hoey, Fields and several others in his front bench. And needless to say he’s going to look like a right tit going on national television arguing against May’s deal only to back it in the end.

Which is why what this debate is really about trapping Corbyn, sowing dissent within his own party (to match the infighting in the Tory party) and help the Tories shift some of the blame for brexit onto Corbyn’s shoulders. In other words, he’s being set up, but is too dumb to realise it.

Brexit means hypocrisy overload

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I’ve mentioned before the phenomenon of right wing flip flop syndrome, but brexit just takes the biscuit. Its hypocrisy overload.

So let me get this straight. Theresa May wants the public to back her brexit deal (she’s writing a begging letter to us all apparently…I’ll be returning it to sender, as I’m just a filthy queue jumper anyway). But she’s still not going to give us a vote on her deal. The brexiters now admit that the UK will be better off in the EU, than accept the brexit deal that May negotiated. They campaigned for this on the slogan “take control” and now worry post-brexit the UK will be a vassal state. But we should trust them none the less that a leap off a cliff into the dark would be so much better.

Meanwhile the DUP, who also campaigned for brexit, want the laws in NI to closely match those in Britain as possible, even if it puts NI economy at a massive disadvantage by doing so. But they don’t want any of the civil rights or anti-discrimination laws (which would ban them and the Orange order) or legalised abortion in NI. They also want the billion or so in structural funds from the EU to continue to flow into NI, with the rest of the UK making up the difference after brexit.

Corbyn wants to respect the original decision of the referendum two years ago (during which he campaigned for remain, LOL, from the confines of his garden shed for three months!), despite opinion polls showing a shift in public opinion against brexit. But he’s going to ignore the decision of voters last year (to back May over him), push for an early election, and presumably make them vote over and over again until he wins.

He argues also that a second vote would be a bad idea because it would be disenfranchising to brexit voters. Ignoring the fact that the brexit vote along with all lies and allegations of vote rigging and Facebook data mining has left many feeling hugely disenfranchised about politics (I know people who literally haven’t listened to a news bulletin since the referendum result).

The reality is that brexit is being cynically exploited by many, not because they “respect the decision” of voters , but to further their own selfish goals. May wants the deal to go ahead, not because she thinks its a good idea, but because if it doesn’t she’s out of office. The brexiters (Boris, Mogg, et al) want brexit to go ahead, because that increases their chances of becoming PM. They just can’t be seen to vote for May’s deal, otherwise they’ll have the lies they told in the referendum spat in their faces next election. Equally they have to pander to the bigot brigade in their own party (who can’t understand why we haven’t turn the channel tunnel into a giant gun to shoot at France). So they both want someone else to do their dirty work for them….

….Which is where Corbyn comes in. He’ll claim he’s trying to outmanoeuvre the Tories and get into power. But he couldn’t outmanoeuvre a snail. He say’s he’ll get an early election. I’ll assume he’s not familiar with the terms of the fixed term parliament act then (no doubt he was attending a teach-in or a sit-in protest or maybe putting flowers on a terrorists grave the day it got voted in). The only way he’s getting that is if turkey’s vote for Christmas (literally!). He can’t get Brussels to extend the article 50 deadline either (all 27 EU countries would have to agree and there’s enough populist jokers in the pack, you just know one will say no).

In reality Corbyn’s only real alternatives are a 2nd referendum or possibly to cancel brexit altogether (legal advice on that is due out this week sometime). Or go along with May’s deal. Of course the Tories, are aware that Corbyn is a brexiter, who chose to support brexit over becoming PM at the last election (by refusing to do an election deal with pro-EU parties). So they reason that he’ll blink first, support May’s deal and they can then blame him for all the chaos that follows (and if he doesn’t and there’s a no deal brexit, the same applies again).

The DUP are basically Trump’s republican party, but with more bible bashing and more cronyism and corruption. They just want the gravy train to continue and someone to keep sending money their way so they can putter in their cesspool.

So this is what brexit means, politics at its very worst.

Brexit reality bites – May’s deal or remain

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So we now know what brexit means. And for once I’m forced to agree with the brexiters “this is not what was promised in the referendum” Boris and Mogg are saying. Agreed. However I would note that it should read “this is not what YOU promised in the referendum”. What they promised in the referendum was “the easiest deal in history”, along with free milk, honey and unicorns for all. That was never achievable. To draw an analogy, the brexiters set out to climb the distant Himalayan peak Rum doodle, without any Sherpa support, no experience and no mountaineering gear. So instead their mum (May) has suggested they make base camp at the back of the garden and pretend to be in the Himalaya. That way they can come back in the house when they get cold.

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But having gotten the country into this mess the brexiters are now anxious to avoid the blame and instead shift it onto the shoulders of Theresa May (who was in full submarine mode during the referendum). The brexiter baby’s having screamed about how we should all go for ice-cream are now crying because its not right flavour and they don’t want ice-cream any more. Like General Luddendorf (the German World War I commander in chief) they led the country into a ludicrous campaign for no good reason. And with their lines collapsing, they’ve sent out a naïve lackey (May) to negotiate their surrender (to reality) and pull their ass out of the fire. Now with the deal done they’re trying to claim they were “stabbed in the back” by May and the EU. Not that playing that card has had serious consequences throughout history.

Theresa May is framing it as her deal or no deal, but this isn’t accurate. In truth its her deal or remain. I won’t go so far as to call this the best deal the UK could get. There’s the Norway or Swiss model. However, once you drink the brexiter kool aid and go the full unicorn (and you feel the need to appease the brexit bigot brigade), then you’ve got to do things like pretending to do something about immigration (truth is it won’t change much, in fact the UK will be struggling to bring in talent to fill job vacancies) and you’ve got to leave the ECJ for no apparent reason. And just for good measure, the Tories have undertaken the negotiations in bad faith, threatening not to pay your bills or renege on international treaties. In that context May’s deal is the best deal the brexiters are going to get. If you don’t like it, you probably should have voted remain.

No deal brexit? It would be a disaster. If you’ve been paying attention to the notices coming out of the UK government, the EU, the noises being made from business, or the Three-blokes in a pub podcasts, you’ll know it amounts to trying to turn the UK into Venezuela under Maduro. Do the maths and you’ll see that Dover would be swamped within days and shut down, there would be shortages of food, medicine and possibly energy supplies. All meaningful economic activity would stop.

Now to the brexiters that’s a price worth paying, but they don’t really live in the real world (and have all their money stashed either offshore, or somewhat ironically, in an EU based bank). What they don’t understand is that the rest of the country won’t be okay with it. Once people start dying (and inevitably they will, any interruption to NHS services or medical supplies will have an immediate effect) you’ll convert every soft leaver and timid releaver into hard core remainers. Very quickly there will be another referendum, except this will likely be a choice between some generic soft brexit option (likely the Norway model) and rejoining the EU (under the terms of a new member state, i.e. you lose your rebate and have to join the Euro). So that’s what going down the no deal route will amount too. And no matter how little you like May’s deal, its still better than these options.

So why then is May framing it as her deal or no deal? Because there’s not much point in her trying to appeal to the brexiter’s better nature. They have none. They are a bunch of Empire 2.0 fanatics and littlefingers, so engrossed in their game of thrones that they’d burn the country down just to slightly increase their odds of winning the top job. She’s hoping to scare enough remainers within her own party and labour to back the plan. But Jo Johnson’s resignation (Boris Johnson’s non-so-evil twin) suggests they smell a rat. The dirty tricks she pulled in the summer to get the withdrawal bill through inflamed the remainers and now they don’t trust her. What goes around, comes around.

Its possible they’ll hold their nose, close their eyes and think of Britain (or more precisely PM Boris!) and back her anyway. They may decide that they need to respect the referendum (ironic it would be if May’s brexit passed thanks to the votes of remain voting MP’s when those who campaigned for leave vote against it) but I’m doubting it. Aware that rejecting the deal means another referendum sooner or later, they might play hard ball. And if you’ve been following the polls you’ll know that a 2nd referendum will likely be remain, in which case they’ll have killed off the brexit question once and for all. And the brexiters in both labour and the Tory party will go down with the ship. So its hard to say how this will pan out.

But if the government collapses Corbyn will get a better deal, won’t he? Well possibly. He’s not as constrained by brexiters, or the the DUP, as May is. He’s also unlikely to undertake the negotiations in bad faith like the Tories did. A lot of the sticking points boil down to the fact that the EU stopped trusting the UK after awhile and hence we have a 600 page document, with backstops to the backstop. But Corbyn still has to contend with one ardent brexiter – himself. Unless he could be persuaded to adopt the Norway or Swiss model, then their isn’t a lot else he can get from the EU. He can make a few more concessions as regards the ECJ and the Irish border and get concessions back from the EU in return. But fundamentally, it will be the same deal as May has now got, just with a few extra bells and whistles.

To return to my analogy earlier, Corbyn will move his base camp from the foot of the garden to the foot of the local crag. Better, but still a long way from the Himalayas. The UK will still be opting to become a rule taker, rather than a rule maker. So 6 months on, we’ll be right back where we are now, with a PM trying to sell a deal that everyone hates and trying to get it through parliament.

So its reality bites time for the brexiters and leave voters (again!). They need to accept that in the context of what was promised in the referendum, give May some credit, she’s got a deal and its the best one you are going to get. If you don’t like, they maybe you don’t actually want to leave the EU. You might want to join the people’s vote campaign and vote remain next time.

Nuclear Requiem

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Infographic-2 Infographic charting the rise and fall of nuclear energy [Wired, 2017]

As we know the nuclear industry is on life support right now. Globally we are seeing a trend whereby reactors are being turned off quicker than they can be replaced. And even those few reactor projects in play rarely extend beyond Photoshopped art work. Just recently the Moorside plant was cancelled in the UK.

The anti-nuke brigade seem to think that the kindest thing to do is hold a pillow over the nuclear industry’s head and send nuclear power on its way. While the nuclear chearleaders ignore all negative news and claim a new dawn is just around the corner. Well an interesting article which I recently stumbled up from Vox news kind of highlights the situation. It argues that the outlook for nuclear energy is grim and its unlikely to get better any time…

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News roundup

Back from an overseas business trip, thought it would be time for a catchup…

The not so big blue wave

So the results of the US mid terms are in and it turned out much as predicted. The democrats took control of the house, but the GOP still hold the senate and hence can block impeachment and keep nominating supreme court justices.

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Missing big blue wave, if found please forward to the DNC

While one has to call it a victory for the democrats, not that you’ll ever get Trump to admit to that. But at the same time, its pretty clear that any idea that the GOP voters will rebel against their party was wishful thinking. The fact is that the Republicans are less a political party and more of a cult, a cult of anti-liberalism. They don’t have any real policies, other than to opposite whatever it is the left are calling for….and of course doing some favours for their corporate donors along the way.

What is clear from this election is that republicans know exactly what they were voting for back in 2016. They know Trump is incompetent and not fit for the job, but they’d rather have an incompetent fascist than a competent democrat. They don’t support him despite his racism, his unchristian like behaviour and the fact he stands for everything the GOP has opposed since the civil war, but because of it.

Thus the democrats need to quit taking the moral high ground and grow a spine. My advice would be to pull every dirty mean trick they can to now shut down Trump’s and wait out the rest of his time in office. Its basically what the GOP did to Obama, so its only fair the democrats do the same.

And when they get back into power, then what goes around comes around. He’s going to appoint a couple of pro-lifers to the supreme court, we’ll just appoint a dozen 20 something members of the ACLU and the Brady foundation (then make any further changes to the structure illegal without the unanimous approval of every member of Congress).

Similarly if the GOP are going to cut welfare programmes, then once in power the democrats need to make clear they’ll be doing the same. An end to farm subsidies (which predominantly benefit republican voters), reforms to military spending and government contracts (which benefit the 1%) and ending the practice of democrat voting states effectively subsidizing republican voting states all needs to be on the table.

Only when confronted with the threat of such measures will the republicans be brought to heel.

 

The not surprising October surprise

The election also included the usual “October surprise, which is basically something completely irrelevant to the campaign (e.g. Hilary’s e-mails) which the right wing media will blow out of all proportion. In this case it was a immigrant caravan…which is still hundreds of miles away from the country.

And you’ll notice how they only started talking about it to deflect attention from right wing terror attacks…sorry I mean a Trump supporter getting a little too carried away. Because when a white guy goes and shoots people (or mails bombs) that’s not terrorism apparently. And the immediate aftermath of such an attack is not the time to talk about new gun legislation, or the remarks made by Trump that inspired such an attack. But if a Muslim doesn’t anything…..

 

Wheels coming off in Italy

For me it was always a case of how long before the wheels started to come off the populist 5S/league horseshoe government rather that if. And it looks like we’ve not had to wait long.

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In Rome (under the control of a 5S for several years now) there’s been protests as regards the collapse in public services, notably public transport (with bus fires still a major problem) and rubbish collection. The irony is that one of those stars of the party is access to good public transport and public services. So they can’t even get this right!

Now it has to be acknowledged that one of the difficulties that 5S faces is the enormous levels of corruption that exists within Italy, notably the public sector. However, the fact that 5S has gone into coalition with the very people behind that corruption (the league and their ally Berlusconi, not to mention members of 5S itself) doesn’t exactly help. And it highlights just how naive and inept 5S actually are that they didn’t anticipate that this would be a problem.

Meanwhile 5S’s fascist allies have been busy, well, doing fascist things. For example, one of them recently compared a black politician to a monkey. And not only did he not face any sanction over this, but when she called him out over it, he sued her. Yes this is Italy under a horseshoe government, its okay for politicians to be racist, but its illegal to criticise them over it.

You go into power with fascists, they’ll do fascist stuff, shock horror. I mean did any supporters of 5S really think this won’t happen? You did at lest google the term “Liga Nordbefore voting to approve this coalition?

About the only thing that unites the two parties is their hatred of the EU. And inevitably their budget proposals have been rejected by the EU (in part because they know most of the extra cash will simply go straight into the pockets of the mafia). So it looks like they’re going to fight city hall and inevitably lose.

 

A sign of the times

The other week some racist brexiter nutter was caught on a Ryanair flight making racist remarks to a fellow passenger (an African granny). What I thought was interesting was how the Irish media made a federal case out of it (which seemed to be more along the lines of why didn’t Ryanair land immediately and sling Mr Gammon straight off the plane).

However, the British media (and it was a brit involved) largely ignored it. Post-brexit, racists making racist comments in public falls into the “dog bites man” category and just isn’t news worthy. Which I thought was an interesting contrast with the Irish media’s response.

 

Leave means LEAVE!!!!

The British, with just months to go, still don’t seem to understand the consequences of brexit. There’s even an organisation with the passive aggressive name leave means leave (or presumably that should be leave means LEAVE!!!!), which it will come as little surprise to learn is almost entirely made up of greyhaired old white men with sweaty red faces (like our racist in the previous story). But the thing is they don’t seem to grasp what leave actually means.

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Spot the leave voter…..

For example one of the more serious consequences of leaving, as I mentioned before, is the UK’s decision to leave the ECJ at the same time. There have been test cases in Ireland which have seen people getting away with crimes, even in one case murder. It would appear that what leave means is that if you break British law and make a break for the border you can literally get away with murder.

And the British solution? Refer the matter to the ECJ! Yes the very body they are now leaving is being asked to pull their ass out of the fire. It would appear that the British think that just because they are pals with the Irish they can have some sort of associate membership of the ECJ (which presumably they aren’t going to pay for). And is not as if giving the Irish (or any other EU state) that sort of leverage over the UK won’t come back to haunt them later.

The real world consequences of this are not good. Basically if you live in the UK and someone from the EU owes you money, after March 2019, you’re stuffed. You’ll have to go to a European court, which means hiring an English speaking lawyer in the relevant country (which won’t be cheap) and waiting a long time, as the wheels of justice in some EU states are very slow to turn (as in years), especially when it comes to civil cases (they prioritise criminal cases, assuming that the longer they leave a civil case, the more likely the parties will settle out of court).

Should you be wondering at this point, why isn’t their a body to get around all of these problems? Well there is. Its called the ECJ! And it was set up because the British and Germans were sick of having to deal with the courts in countries like Italy or Spain (oh and in some EU states the law often varies depending on the region, a court in Catalonia cannot command local officials in Andalusia).

And this brings up the political fallout too. Take the position of the DUP. While one understands their opposition to the EU’s proposed backstop (that Northern Ireland remains part of the customs union), it at least settles the issue. That’s a far better alternative, where there’s a hard border that cripples the Northern Irish economy. The more people effected by brexit, the more will vote in a border poll to join the south. While previously you’d struggle to get a majority of Catholics to support a united Ireland in the North, now the polls show an overall figure with a margin of just 3%. Some that a bit of economic disruption will easily overturn. In short, if there’s ever a united Ireland, we’ll have the DUP to thank for it, rather than Sinn Fein.

I’m reminded of an ex-flat mate of mine. He decided he was spending too much money on nights out, so his solution was to cut back on expenses….which didn’t include his nights out. Instead he decided he didn’t need to pay his share of the gas bill any more (because he never turned on the heating), nor the TV license (ditto). He was also a member of a sports club and cancelled his membership. But given that all his friends were members he kept sneaking in and using the facilities, or going to social events.

That’s kind of where the brexiters are with the EU. They want out, but they still want all the benefits of being a members, just without paying for it. In short, it seems to me that many brexiters don’t seem to realise that leave actually does mean leave.

 

News flash – the UK is an Island

Dominc Raab gets a lot of stick for being…well a little bit thick. But to be fair he’s only been in the job as brexit secretary a few months and he’s doing better than his predecessor, who spent a grand total of 4 hours negotiating with the EU in the space of a year and a half. Then again, part of the price we pay for brexit is that fact that a lot of idiots have jobs in cabinet, simply to maintain the delicate balance that props up the PM.

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Well anyway, Raab’s returned to the UK with news of an important revelation that he was unaware of. Apparently Britain is an “Island and therefore needs these things called “ships” to trade with the rest of the world. This means Dover getting clogged up due to a no deal brexit might be kind of bad.

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Dominic Raab…life is like a box of chocolates and he certainly doesn’t know what he’s going to get!

I mean who could of known. I remember going to Dover once and thinking I might walk to France, but then I my feet got wet. Well now I know why. Expect the Daily Mail to claim that the English Channel is moat dug by the French to punish the UK for brexit.

And if you think that’s a joke, consider that the head of HMRC (a lowly customs official) received death threats from angry Gammon’s when he pointed out the potential costs of leaving the customs union would cost businesses £20 billion a year.

 

So long and thanks for all the fish

But at least brexit will benefit the fishermen. That the one line you keep on hearing, the fishermen, the fishermen, deer god will someone think of the poor fishermen….who are going to get royally shafted by brexit.

Of course the people who own the fishing boats and fish quota’s, well that’s a different story. And who are these people? well a recent survey discovered that a small group of wealthy families control much of the UK’s fishing quota’s.

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The UK takes control and goes from being able to fish in all of these waters, to just some of them

Just five families on the Sunday Times Rich List hold or control 29% of the UK’s fishing quota. More than two-thirds is controlled by just 25 businesses or families (half of whom are linked to criminal activities). And in England alone nearly 80% of fishing quota’s is held by foreign owners or domestic Rich List families. Half of Northern Ireland’s quota is held by just a single trawler.

This is the reality of brexit, the only real winners will be a handful of the very wealthiest, whose wealth and offshore assets leave them immune to the negative effects of brexit.

 

Trust gone

Another brexit related story was that of a phone conversation between the Irish PM and the British one. Almost as soon as he put the phone down, the Irish PM rushed out a media statement explaining what was said. Why? Because he’s all too aware that he’s dealing with a bunch of deluded manics back in London, who will have only heard what they wanted to hear and that the UK media will just make stuff up about what was actually said.

And the EU is now saying they won’t even consider holding a summit until the UK has basically decided what they want, written it down on paper and signed. That’s how low the trust between the UK and the EU is now. They don’t even trust the British to remember what was said over the phone a few minutes before and report that honestly.

 

The people’s will

Universities minster (and Boris Johnson own brother) Jo Johnson has just resigned, calling for another referendum. Which of course ain’t going to happen.

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I mean consider that for months now, you even remotely question the wisdom of brexit, you’ll be told its “the will of the people”, ignoring recent polls suggesting the people are rather sick of it and would rather call the whole thing off.

In short, the “will of the peoplehas become the people’s last will and testament. A national suicide pact that only about a quarter  of the country voted for, without knowing that this was what they were voting for.

 

University bankruptcies loom

Brexit has made for choppy waters in universities. We lost a number of staff, through either redundancies or the fact they decided to tunnel out of the lunatic asylum and escaped back to Europe. Research funding has been cut and EU student numbers are down. But the thing is my uni don’t have it that bad. A recent report suggests that several of the UK’s universities are “one policy change away from collapse”.

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Some have lost hundreds of staff through redundancies and the non-renewal of rolling contracts. And while the loss of a few students and a bit of research funding hasn’t exactly helped our situation, spare a thought for some other uni’s in receipt of hundreds of millions a year of EU R&D money, with courses almost entirely made up of fee paying foreign students. And remember we’ve not actually even left the EU yet, the real bad news is yet to arrive.

So with several universities literally circling the drain, it is time to address the question I asked sometime ago, what happens when a UK university actually goes bankrupt? The government seems to think, it won’t matter, it will serve to scare the rest straight, the magic of the market will fix everything. My fear is that opposite will happen.

Overseas students (from the EU or further a field) will flee the country (taking their money with them), R&D money (from the private & public sector) will disappear and banks will start cutting off lines of credit. So one collapse will probably be followed by several more. And in the context of brexit, its the larger more prestigious uni’s (basically any dependant on large EU research grants or with a large intake of foreign students), which are potentially in the firing line, not just the ex-polytechnics.

In many cases the local uni is the main local employer in its area and supports many tens of thousands of jobs (those student take-away meals don’t cook themselves!) and props up local property prices. So the political fallout of such a bankruptcy is going to be massive. And once one goes down, and others looking wobbly, this impact won’t be restricted to that constituency.

So the political price the Tories will pay if they allow such a thing to happen is going to be massive, more than enough to potentially swing an election Corbyn’s way. Hence why the question is are they actually prepared to pay that price? Or will they, as has happened so often when a privatised company gets in trouble, just be forced to step in and prop the universities up, same way public money is being used to prop up the failings of the privatised energy, water and rail industry?

Because that’s the reality of Thatcherism, make a mess of a perfectly functioning public service, let the private sector run it into the ground, then skip town with all the money, forcing the government to step in and pick up the pieces.

 

Moorside nuclear plant cancelled

Meanwhile, back in the real world, Hinkley C is increasingly looking like the hill and which the UK nuclear lobby are going to die on. This ridiculous boondoggle has so poisoned the well, that it could well be the last nuclear power station ever built in the UK.

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Case in point, we now have news that the proposed Moorside nuclear project in Cumbria has been cancelled. This shouldn’t come as a huge shock. As I reported before, the bankruptcy of Westinghouse last year meant this was probably inevitable. However, it does highlight how bad the situation is for nuclear energy.

Consider that Toshiba would not have taken this decision lightly, its going to cost them about £125 million just to walk away with nothing to show for it. And there were efforts to try and get someone else (notably a South Korean firm) in to take over the project, but inevitably they weren’t interested in polishing a turd. Of course this highlights all the problems with the Tories unhealthy obsession with nuclear, lavishing money on expensive boondoogles that the private sector won’t touch with a barge pole, while punishing renewables for their successes.

 

Mars colonisation nixed

Elon Musk’s plans to colonise Mars may have taken a bit of dent due to a recent study published in Nature. Its behind a paywall, but the gist of the report is that in order to terraform Mars, you’d need to heat the planet up. That would involve releasing lots of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere to bring up the atmospheric pressure and temperatures. Well the researchers did an inventory of available CO2 resources on Mars and concluded there isn’t nearly enough of it available to do the job.

And since we’re talking about it, the “heat the planet up” part of terraforming would be the easy part. Creating a stable oxygen rich atmosphere would be the harder part (this process took billions of years on earth). Along with stopping the solar wind eroding away the atmosphere again, much as happened to the original Martian atmosphere. And as Mars lacks a magnetosphere, colonists would still be vulnerable to things like solar flares even with an atmosphere.

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So this seems to suggest terraforming Mars might well be impossible. However, it doesn’t rule out the option of para-terraforming, whereby you build a large dome over a deep Martian valley or crater and terraform the atmosphere within that dome.

 

No dogs, disabled or poor

A survey by the housing charity Shelter has revealed that 10% of rental property ads in the UK include the phrase “No DSS (this is the scheme through which disabled and the unemployed get their housing benefit). In essence its the equivalent of putting up a sign saying “no working class scum need apply” or including a skin colour chart saying you must be this white to get a flat.

Now the only thing I find surprising about this is that its only 10%. I suspect its in truth a lot higher than that. Under UK law it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, religion or economic background. But the shocking thing is that while you could probably pull some of these landlords up for putting such a thing in their ad, under the current law prosecuting them for actually discriminating against people (even racial discrimination) is nearly impossible.

This is the problem with the UK, its property laws are like something out of a Dickensian novel. For too long UK law has favoured landlords over tenants, which is perhaps not surprising in a country where parliament is made up of the landlords rather than renters.