Brexit reality bites – May’s deal or remain

20170722_LDD001_0.jpg

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.

DNy1YQyVwAImQ5A

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.

Advertisements

Nuclear Requiem

daryanenergyblog

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…

View original post 844 more words

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.

mimg_1_m

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.

_104059772_tv050221292

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.

Df9-KPvW4AED9Ob

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.

dave2_4hrs

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.

NINTCHDBPICT000443337538

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.

fishing_rights_brexit

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.

2016-11-07_brexit-vote

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”.

-1524837526

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.

moorside-nuclear-plant

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.

aak1n

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.

Why the millennium bug didn’t bite

daryanenergyblog

_102848143_mediaitem102846512

When discussing things like climate change, brexit, nuclear waste et al, you’ll often hear the response, oh it will all work itself out in the end. After all, remember that millennium bug which was supposed to cause Armageddon and then nothing happened. Surely this is more of the same? Well yes and no. Because the truth is that the millennium bug is something that is often misunderstood, and hence worth discussing in a bit more detail.

Firstly, things DID fail as a result of the millennium bug, causing some minor disruption. The reason why this disruption wasn’t more widespread was because of all the preparation work undertaken in the lead up to the millennium. Indeed, most of the systems that failed turned out to be things that were overlooked during those preparations.

A few years prior to the millennium I was working in an office over the…

View original post 1,003 more words

News roundup

The Pedo party

Is it just me or does it appear like the major qualification you need to get ahead in the Republican party is to be a pedo, kiddy fiddler or sex offender of some form or another? Since Trump took over we’ve seen a long line of dirty old men going into the white house. I mean they even set up a dating site (for straight blue blooded republicans) and the male model they chose in the ads turned out to be a sex offender. Its like Trump is some sort of magnet for this sort of thing.

WW-KavanaughProtest_TT-23

Consider that evangelicals, who overwhelmingly vote GOP, have gone from being 80% likely to say that a president should resign for having an affair (and quote a bible verse), to being 80% likely to say, ah it doesn’t matter, the bible? Well that says lots of things, I mean its not as if we have to take it literary!

At least it does go to prove my theory of conservative flip flop syndrome. In essence the Republicans, much like the UK Tories, aren’t really a political party anymore. They have no actual policies, no direction. They are just a cult devoted to follow which ever random nutty sex offender/tax cheat happens to be in charge at the time. And once he loses power in disgrace, they’ll shrug their shoulders and say so what, then forget about him. Recall how back in the Bush days, or Romney in 2008, they were the true messiah, failing to support them was treason again the US….until they criticised Trump! Of course, like any cult, the GOP needs funding, so they’ll happily sell their services to whichever random billionaire can afford to bribe them.

What this shows is that the democrats need to take the gloves off. The GOP won’t fight fair and you won’t win a fair fight when they’ve stacked the system against you. I’d propose that as soon as they get power back, prioritise shoring up the checks and balances. I’d federally mandate how electoral districts are organised (the states draw the line, but according to rules set by the federal government, overseen by non-partisan officials) and introduce proportional representation. Both would guarantee that the party that wins the most votes gets the most seats (the only reason why the GOP get so many seats is gerrymandering). It would also open up the possibility of smaller parties getting representation.

As for this Brett guy, once a democratic president is in charge, I’d give him and any other Trump justices a choice, resign or we stack the supreme court. There’s nothing in the constitution that stops a democratic president/congress either setting term limits on supreme court justices (which would force all but two to resign and be immediately replaced) or say appointing a few dozen twenty something women (and card carrying members of the ACLU) to the supreme court (this incidentally is what FDR threatened to do). Suddenly its likely he’ll remember some important yard work in needs to catch up on and retire.

Jacinda and the peacocks

At the UN there was controversy when some delegations showed up with babies, but at least the NZ PM’s baby didn’t make a speech and crap all over the place….unlike America’s baby (who got laughed out of the room).

8aaeac1257c66d88e91e863fbc24c042

Much was made of the NZ PM’s speech and the contrast between it and Trump’s. She spoke of unity and fixing global problems, he spoke mostly about himself and blaming others for his problems. I was reminded of something a military officer once told me about the traits that the military look for in a good officer (good judgement, leadership, team player, etc.) and there are red flags which signal that this guy should never be given command, as he’s likely to become a dangerous liability (who’ll march his unit into a minefield and get them all killed).

Well we see a lot of those red flags on display at the UN summit. Selfishness and putting oneself first is always a worry (note to Trump, there’s no “i” in team….although there is a “u” in c*nt!). An officer like this is likely to send in his boys, then take off in the other direction when the shooting starts. I recall Oliver Stone once mentioning that on his first day in Vietnam his officer put him out on point!

Dgk4vpyUcAI30N9

Other worrying red flags include impulsive behaviour (Trump again, he who dares….usually walks straight into an ambush), or equally bad, indecisiveness (Theresa May). Its important for a commander to be aware of what’s going on around them, so a detachment from reality (Trump or the brexiters) is very dangerous. And a good commander needs to listen, a bad one ignores advice (Trump again) or even punishes (Corbyn) those who offer it.

However of all of the traits you want to avoid in a commander, its one who blames others for his misfortune (such as foreigners). He berates his own men for disloyalty (have you given them reasons to be loyal, or plenty of reasons to question everything you say?). Or worse, blaming the enemy (if the enemy isn’t co-operating with your plans, well that’s kind of supposed to happen!). In short, the buck stops with the commander and any who is unwilling or unable to accept that is unfit for command.

All in all, this populist wave has left us a world led by strutting chest puffing peacocks, all of whom won’t be so much as put in charge of anything more dangerous than a stapler if they joined the military. All we can do is hope there isn’t some sort of crisis in the next few years, because I have very little faith in the majority of the world’s leaders. And its no wonder NZ is becoming the bolt hole of choice.

Hilary would have been worse

How different it would have been if the person who got the most votes had won. Mention this of course to Trump voters (or the Bernie or bust brigade) and they’ll mumble something about “Hilary would have been worse”. Really?

Would Hilary have appointed a long list of sex offenders to senior positions? (granted she’d have had to lock Bill in the basement or put him in a chastity belt). Would she have appointed a bunch of incompetents (purely on the basis of loyalty rather than ability to do the job) to senior government positions? Would she have left hundreds of important posts vacant? Would her aides have to brief her using cue cards and take stuff of her desk in case she did something stupid? Would she have gone to Russia and buried her tongue up Putin’s a*s?. Would she have started rolling back environmental protections and workers rights, or given a massive tax cut to the super rich? Would she have started a trade war for no good reason? Would Chelsea Clinton be jetting around the world acting as the defacto foreign secretary? Would she have started to use the US treasury as her own personal piggy bank, striking deals with countries on the basis of what most benefited her personal businesses? Would America have fallen from the world’s most respected nation to the butt of the world’s jokes?

The_Republican_Platform_Capture.png

As I said from the beginning, Hilary would not have been my first choice as President. But in the election you had a choice between her and the pus*y grabber in chief. I know which of those two is the lest worse scenario. This is why I do worry about the mid terms. The democrats seem to be at war with themselves. The only condition that should apply is are you willing to oppose Trump and if possible get him impeached? Anyone who meets that criteria gets my vote.

On which point btw, I strongly advise voting for republicans, even the moderate ones critical of Trump. As recent events have shown, they can be leaned on by the party and made to toe the line (probably because having had their snout in the feeding trough for so long the GOP and its donors have a lot dirt on them that they could easily leak to the media).

To draw an analogy its like the US was this town out in the old west and the position for sheriff was open. The choice was some guy in a black hat, who had a English accent (despite being German), a large scar and an evil laugh (and when he laughs birds drop dead out of the sky). Or some other guy (the man with no name), who while not being necessarily a good guy, he clearly ain’t the baddie. But no, some of the town want to vote for old man Bernie, despite the fact he’s been pushing up the daises up on boothill for the last couple of months. Well now they’re getting bull whipped by the black hat, while he burns down the church (with the preacher inside) and they are trying to console themselves that might have been worse.

Musk out at Tesla

180907100732-elon-musk-smokes-marijuana-podcast-1-large-169

So Musk managed to get himself banned from running his own company. Well to be honest this was a train wreck that was going to happen sooner or later. There’s a certain discipline that comes with being a CEO, not unlike some of those qualities I mentioned earlier. However, they are really only optional. There is in fact one key skill which a CEO must have above all else – keeping your big mouth shut!

A CEO is the face of his company. Anything he says is going to have an impact on the share price. This is why most tend to be fairly guarded about what they say, often taking the view that if you don’t have anything good to say, then don’t say anything. Hence why some of the statements from CEO’s regarding brexit should be setting off alarm bells.

Musk got himself in trouble thanks to his efforts to stop short sellers driving down Tesla’s share price. Yes, this was unfair, but on the other hand, he was kind of making it easy for them. What with calling a British diver a pedo, refusing to answer questions at a press conference because “they weren’t cool” or smoking pot live on the internet. As his downfall should show, the markets are decidedly unfair. They are a bit of a wild west. Yes the corrupt sheriff can send out his one spurs to rob your farm. Yet when you set out to take revenge its you who ends up swinging from a rope, regardless of whether or not you shot the deputy.

Which is slightly ironic given his, and other tech billionaires, affinity for libertarianism. In a libertarian world it would be even worse. Ford and GM would in fact have likely crushed him along time ago, same as Standard oil would destroy its competitors. So I suppose what goes around comes around.

Minister for starvation

DjBZ5NxWsAAuohp.png

Its difficult to avoid talking about brexit. Firstly we have the story than given the difference between where the UK would be if we hadn’t voted for brexit and where we are now, the UK is now 500 million a week worse off (you’ll recall those ridiculous promises of an extra 350 million a week!). The UK has been forced to appoint a minster of starvation supply (for the first time outside of a war).

5b7d5cdd200000430034aee0

Meanwhile, back in fantasy land, at the Tory party conference, they were trying to outdo each other with their different brexit fantasies. It was less a conference and more of a unicorn horn measuring contest. Brexit to the Tories is more about who they want to be the captain of the Titanic as it sinks and whether or not they should burn the lifeboats before anyone can use them. Meanwhile, a bunch of young Tory activists got caught with racist and classist slogans on their T-shirts, but of course that’s allowed, yet a labour supporter did it, the newspapers would be wanting Corbyn to be hung.

On a positive note, it was noted that Theresa May never mentioned her Chequers plan in her speech, which could hint that she’s going to roll over and accept whatever the EU offers her….Or it could be because she knows that if she so much as mentioned that word, it would be like playing the rains of Castamere at a wedding. Within seconds they’ve have all started stabbing one another. So probably more of a survival instinct than anything.

Increasingly it looks like we’ll just have to wait for all the brexiters to die off and vote to re-join the EU….which probably won’t take too long, ironically thanks to brexit. The NHS (which again the bus ads promised would be better off) is already in crisis, with a Breixtus of EU staff leaving, not surprising when brexit threatens to turn them into 2nd class citizens. The government’s solution? Oh, we’ll just have the nurses train as doctors or shorten their training time. I mean its not as if people die if hospitals make a mistake or something.

Making rent

Housing The Homeless

I’ve come across quite a few stories over the last few months about homelessness in California, one of the largest concentrations of wealth in the world. And we’re in many cases talking about people with jobs who are homeless, as its become difficult if not impossible to make rent in California, to the point where some are sleeping in their cars or living out of campervans. Let me repeat that, we’re talking about people with jobs, who work hard, who have kids and a family living in their cars. Welcome to Trump’s America.

Now too be fair, this is part of the hangover from the financial crisis. And we really have to pin the blame for that on past US presidents (notably G. W. Bush). And of course Obama’s recovery was a rising tide that didn’t lift all ships. Governors of California (who have come from both parties since the crash) also have to take some share of the blame. That said, Trump has cut federal housing aid, and who did he appoint in charge of housing? Ben Carson (the first person to conduct brain surgery on himself).

So there’s plenty blame to share out, the question is how to fix it. Well clearly a lack of rent control is part of the problem. If you let landlords charge $2000 a month for a flat (with a two month deposit on top), then nobody except the better off will be able to pay that. And there’s a lack of good affordable social housing. In Europe for example, try to get planning permission for a hundred luxury condos and you’ll be told nope, not going to happen, unless you add in a few dozen affordable homes or council houses.

Of course there’s an elephant in the room here we’re ignoring, one you can clearly see if you’ve ever flown over California and looked out of a window – urban sprawl and low density housing. While we’ve got problems with urban sprawl in Europe yes, but never to the same extend as it occurs in the US. Developments that would be refused in Europe are routinely approved in the US.

6a0105372158ac970b013483816376970c-500pi.jpg

In fact, government policies intended to promote car ownership are a major contributory factor, by for example legally requiring large parking lots everywhere. By contrast, getting planning permission for car parks in Europe is tricky and will often be refused (we’ve a long standing issue in my block with parking, long story but the bottom line is the council will routinely turn down applications for parking lots, unless you’ve got a damn good reason for having one and even then they’ll insist its underground).

The end consequence of this is vast spread out cities where you need a car to just get around. Case in point, the population density of LA is around 1,000 per sq km, while in London is closer to 5,000 and Paris 21,000. If the oil ever runs out LA is going to starve to death, given in some LA neighbourhoods you can literally get picked up by the cops for just walking. The US has legally mandated a country full of vast parking lots, now its got them filled with homeless people rather than apartment blocks.

revised_petrol_use_urban_density.jpg

And, as always, this highlights the shortcomings of the libertarian politics of the tech billionaires. Their lassie-faire approach amounts to them amassing vast fortunes and living in huge mansions, while the serf’s who toil away making all that money have to steal food from work, then find a quiet parking lot to catch some sleep in and hope they don’t get mugged. This is what a libertarian world looks like.

A real magic money tree, scientific publishing

zhrxbdsm-1379916057

An interesting article here from George Monbiot about the racket of scientific publishing. If you are an academic, in almost all cases you have to publish your research in a peer reviewed journal. Many academics will in fact have it in their contract of employment that they must publish a certain number each year, often in specific journals.

However these journals are owned by private companies, notably Elsevier, which was the brain child of Robert Maxwell. So in essence we academics use public funds to generate intellectual property that we are then obliged to hand over to a private company, who then charge our own university library a small fortune to be able to access it. In essence we are being contractually obliged to participate in a wealth transfer scam from the public sector into the pockets of media billionaires.

This situation could be solved relatively simply. Either the government just nationalises these firms and makes their data publicly accessible free of charge. Or it puts in place a rule prohibiting uni’s from setting targets for staff based on for-profit journals. This would mean we publish in open access journals more frequently. Faced with the risk that the intellectual property they own would quickly become worthless (scientific data tends to get obsolete pretty quickly), the private publishing houses would then likely be forced to go open access themselves……

Comcast buys Sky, Murdoch on suicide watch

.So why you may ask, aren’t governments trying to move towards open access journals? Well because they don’t want to upset media tycoons like Rupert Murdoch of course. The media is something of a closed shop, a forbidden lawn onto which politicians dare not tread….or the Sun will publish an article calling them gay.

However, in amongst all the other stories recently, a little story slipped through that’s actually of significant importance. For many years now Rupert Murdoch has sought to take full control of UK broadcaster Sky. However, while the UK’s politicians are a spineless lot, they ain’t stupid enough not to see the danger with letting him have full control of all the newspapers and half the TV audience. So they’ve been obstructing that process, although more about going through the motions than any real opposition.

49A0328E00000578-5439247-image-a-3_1519728442077

Well the phone hacking scandal forced those plans to be kicked into the long grass for a while. Brexit provided good cover to resume the process, but the chaos it unleashed slowed things down somewhat. However now at the moment of truth, what’s gone and happened? A rival firm, Comcast, has swooped in and bought Sky right out from under Murdoch’s nose. And if to make matters worse, its CEO while republican, is more of a moderate (read a greedy rich as*hole, but at least one whose vaguely sane). So its likely he’ll start to shift Sky more towards the centre ground of politics, rather than constantly supporting the Tories.

Keep in mind that for much of recent UK politics this has been going on in the background. Murdoch has supported this candidate or that and got his newspapers to sing their praises regardless of how nutty or ludicrous what they were proposing was. He’s more responsible for brexit or Trump than probably anything else. And now suddenly, in no small part thanks to Trump and brexit, he’s been pipped at the finishing post. Well, what goes around, sooner or later, it comes around. Karma can be a bitch!

Not so cool news

the-title-is-dumb-1445871757

I had a bit of a rant before about Game of Thrones season 7. However my main bone of contention was with I’d call the “cool dude” school of film making, that seems to have taken over. This brand of film making views the plot and the script as secondary and merely a way of stitching together various epilepsy inducing CGI sequences (the point of which seems to be to get the audience to say “this is cool dude”).

The trouble is that this is a style of film making that gets boring very quickly. And as its necessary to throw away much of what makes any particular genre appealing to its fan base, it tends to piss off the fans. A situation not helped by hiring directors or producers whose knowledge of say, star wars/trek is limited to whatever they managed to google while in the cab on the way to the studio.

Well it would appear the wheels are starting to come off. On the back of poor box office and bad reviews several leading actors in the latest Star trek film have quit, reportedly over pay disputes (if the film ain’t making as much they need more of those dollars for the CGI budget, which the actors seem unwilling to accept). Its possible the next star trek film might be cancelled. There’s even a crazy rumour going around that the studio is so desperate they’re going to hand it over to Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Romulans? The hateful Klingons? Vulcan fiction? Kill Kirk?).

Also on their way to the job centre are the actors playing superman, batman and Cpt. America. Meanwhile, the star wars franchise is in such disarray after the Solo movie flop (that was a train wreck you could just see coming!), that it looks like any further movies (bar the ones too far into production to halt) are also going to get canned.

In short, the customer is always right. Piss off your fans, they’ll vote with their feet. I mean I’ve not been to say very many of these movies recently because, to be blunt I’d be as well off shining a strobe light in my eye for two hours.

Ultimately the problem is these major studios have a monopoly on the story lines, nobody else can make a star trek film without the risk of being sued, even though its a genre that’s over fifty years old and its original creator has been dead for twenty years. If you left any other company (cars, laptops, washing machines, etc.) with the exclusive rights to produce a product and they’d never innovate, their products would become increasingly bloated and over priced.

So this is probably one situation where we should let the markets sort it out. Let anyone who wants to make a superhero/sci-fi movie do so. Yes some will be dire and laughably bad (the Russian film Guardians for example), but others might well be much better than anything the mainstream studios can come up with.

Katla is isn’t going to blow….for now!

41908891

If you are a tabloid reader, you might have heard that the Icelandic volcano Katla was about to erupt. For those who don’t know, Katlia is the bigger brother of the big E volcano (I ain’t even going to try and get its spelling right!) that erupted in 2010 and disrupted all of those flights. Well Katla is many times larger (with a Caldera 10km’s across) and it erupts about every 100 years. When was the last eruption? About 100 years ago! So an eruption from Katla would be far worse and could last for much longer (possibly months).

However, before you start digging a shelter or stockpiling food (a sensible idea perhaps, but for other reasons!) no, that’s not what the scientists studying the volcano actually said. In fact they pointed out they could see no signs the volcano was in imminent danger of eruption. The study did reveal a lot more about the potential impact of its eruptions. For example, in one past eruption it created a flash flood with a flow rate the Nile, Mississippi, Amazon, and Yangtze combined.

So while its unlikely to go off tomorrow, the warning is that we probably won’t get a huge amount of warning prior to any future eruption. Which given how disruptive this could be, it would seem to make sense to put in place some contingency plans for how we are going to cope, if say transatlantic flights had to stop for a few months…..so not really something the British have to worry about after March 2019 then!

Countering anti-2nd vote arguments

3035.jpg

So Corbyn & co have rightly stitched up the remainers within the labour party. They’ve watered it down to a vague commitment to a people’s vote, which may or may not include a remain option, but even that will only happen if there’s a general election, or maybe not. And it won’t be in the party’s election manifesto even if there is an election.

And of course the gang of four pro-brexit MP’s will be free to prop up Theresa May and keep their boss from power without any blow back from the party leadership. As I’ve said before, supporting labour with Corbyn in charge means supporting leave and leave at any cost, as he’s arguably a more committed leaver than many in the Tory party.

And as a result if you support Corbyn let’s be clear, you don’t really support social justice in any way shape or form. Brexit is turning upside down the lives of millions of people in the UK. The 3-blokes-in-a-pub were recently talking to EU citizens about what they’ve been through. In effect Corbyn believes its okay to turn millions of people into 2nd class citizens, on an issue which they were never allowed to vote on. Explain to me, how that’s any different from the Tories at their worst? And the EU has pointed out that what goes around comes around, anything the UK applies against EU citizens will be reciprocated by the EU.

Furthermore, if brexit goes ahead it makes everything labour committed to at conference impossible to deliver. To implement his policies, Corbyn will need money. But brexit is going to raise living costs, lower tax revenue and drive up borrowing costs. In short, there won’t be much wriggle room for him to put up taxes or borrow to fund anything. He’ll be spending most if not all of his premiership just putting out fires.

Hell he may as well have promised to give everyone houses made of gold bricks and keep the rich in a cage outside Downing Street, which he’ll occasionally poke with a stick. Its about as likely to happen as anything else in labour’s manifesto, so long as they ignore the brexit elephant. Labour under Corbyn isn’t a political party, its the cult of the one true Corbyn. And they will deliver dilly squat.

It is for these reasons I thought I’d debunk a few of the main arguments against having a 2nd vote:

A people’s vote won’t be democratic”

The definition of the word democracy is “a system of government by the people for the people, typically through voting….”. The word breaks down into dêmos (which means “people“) and krátos (which means “force” or “power“). So a “people’s vote” won’t be a “people’s vote” WTF !?! I know all these posh boys who went to boarding schools speak Latin, but you really need to brush up on your language skills.

 

We need to respect the original decision

Okay so labour under Corbyn believes that the brexit vote was a sacred act, which cannot ever be voted on again, now and until the end of days. While the decision the electorate made just over a year ago to put the Tories in charge was a mistake and the public should be made to have another go, under threat of a general strike. And presumably they should keep voting until Corbyn wins!

Electorates change their minds. Especially when they learn that they’ve been conned, or that one side or another has been found guilty of electoral fraud. If you believe we should “respect the original decision” then you don’t believe in democracy. By that same logic MP’s should be voted into power once and for life, regardless of what crimes they commit or how crap they are at the job or how many lies they told to get elected.

 

Twenty million/62% of consistences — insert massively over inflated figure — voted for leave….

Brexit was only supported by 37% of the electorate, or only about a quarter of the current adult population (when we include those excluded from the poll). So it is stretching things to suggest it had actual majority support. And there’s polling evidence to suggest attitudes have changed.

Given the gravity of its potential impact it really does require some sort of 2nd vote in some form or another, preferably with a rule requiring support from 50% of the electorate or a two thirds majority in every region of the UK. Otherwise odds are, once Corbyn and May have both succeeded in screwing things up, there will be another referendum anyway, this one aimed at getting back into the EU (which btw will come with accepting the euro, proportional representation a proper constitution, etc.).

Furthermore, surely if you are that confident that leave is the “will of the people” surely you’d WANT a 2nd vote to kill off the issue for a generation. I mean if those numbers are correct, you’re going to win anyway, let the baby have his bottle.

 

Remain lied too

Given that Cameron Sir Pigalot and Osborne the slimy one were leading the remain vote, that’s probably true. I mean part of the reason he had to go is that he’d told so many porkies since getting elected it was getting hard to keep up. Recall Cameron’s problems remembering which football team he’s supposed to be a supporter of.

However, two wrongs do not make a right. This is not some sort of game we’re playing. If remain lied, that still makes the vote invalid and means the referendum should be re-run. In most other countries it would be. Indeed, it is this moral hazard aspect of the brexit vote that worries me. Letting the leave campaign get away with electoral fraud is opening a massive can of worms. It means that if you can bully and lie your way towards something, with the support of just a quarter of the people, then anything’s possible. Just read UKIP’s manifesto and imagine what sort of a bus they could drive through the country with this precedence on the books.

 

In Greece/Ireland/—insert random EU country you know nothing about — they make you vote over and over until the EU wins

By which they are referring to the fact that in some cases there’s been more than one referendum in these countries on the same issue. Ya, because we’re grown ups who realise that people make mistakes and need to be given the opportunity to think again. And also it has to be pointed out that in these referendums the no camp represented the status quo (we were voting on changing how the EU worked, not on leaving it and some didn’t want it to change, hence they voted to keep things the same, the opposite of the leave vote position).

Furthermore, there were specific problems with these past referendums, which is why they really had to be re-run. For example, in the lead up to the Nice Treaty vote in Ireland one politician even said he hadn’t bothered to read the treaty and you’d be mad to try. While Sinn Fein claimed that the minimum wage would fall to about 2 euro and Irish would be conscripted into the new European army.

So prior to the 2nd vote the government got “clarification” from the EU on various issues (i.e. that Sinn Fein are a bunch of lying ba$tards), they actually bothered to read it this time and even got some minor changes to the text approved. If anything, this makes the case for a 2nd referendum in the UK along similar lines.

 

The unspoken truth

Of course the real reason for not supporting a 2nd vote, which no leaver will ever admit to, is that they know they got lucky last time and fear that won’t happen again. A combination of Cameron being in charge (encouraging a protest leave vote), leave’s milk and honey lies, election fraud, a refugee crisis in Europe, Russian trolls and the mass surveillance and manipulation of millions via facebook, all served to tip the balance. I recall a pollster suggesting that there was only a one in four chance of leave winning the last time, so the odds of that happening again aren’t great.

And ultimately, the chaos of brexit won’t effect brexiters, with their gold plated pension and in many cases an EU passport and an offshore bank account. Instead, it presents them with an opportunity. While you’ll find nobody in labour who’ll admit it, they secretly hope brexit will go ahead and be a disaster as this increases the odds of Corbyn winning a future election. So in other words, they are happy to help the Tories burn the house down, in the hope they’ll be able to have a go at burning down the garage later. Its sadopopulism at its very worst.

Salzburg and the sound of brexit madness

6a00d8341d417153ef01bb096e83f4970d-800wi.png

Theresa May went to Salzburg this week….without watching the sound of music first (which is practically a crime in Salzburg, the hostel I stayed at showed the film every day!). She was hoping to get the EU to endorse her dead parrot chequers plan….that everyone in the UK (other than her) has already rejected. Inevitably it fell to Donald Tusk to point out to her that it was bleeding demised and was now a late plan, bereft of life that rests in peace. This threw May into a tizzy, claiming that the EU weren’t showing her respect (she’d been told many times before that the plan would be rejected, it could hardly come as a surprise) and if they don’t like it what’s the alternative.

Well the problem with this statement is it shows two years in and the UK still hasn’t got a clue what its doing. And that the PM, like so many brexiters, has a disturbing lack of knowledge about the EU and its institutions. The UK is the one who is leaving, it is up to the UK to come up with an acceptable plan. And the EU has hinted at options it considers acceptable (Norway model, Canada plus, Swiss model, reverse Greenland, etc.). In fact they’ve practically rubbed them in the UK’s face! You can lead a horse to water….but if its a brexiter its going to demand Bollinger champagne and caviar…..which it sees no need to pay for.

The EU commission has to stick to this policy because, contrary to what the Daily Mail will tell you, its not a political organisation. Its an executive body charged with implementing policy as opposed to setting policy (that’s up to the EU parliament and the 27 EU member states). Thus its treating the UK’s exit as a legal process, as outlined by article 50 (which its clear nobody in government bothered to actually read before triggering it). While there is some leeway and wriggle room, they can’t change the rules of the EU to accommodate the UK. Why? Because that would require all of the EU member states to agree to it. In other words all of the national governments and parliaments would have to approve such a change (whereas some fudge on the terms of article 50 only requires a qualified majority, 60% of them, to approve). Some countries would even have to have a referendum (including Ireland). And there’s no way all of that can get done in 6 months.

In short, Theresa May should have done her home work and decided on a brexit plan, before invoking article 50. Its a bit late now for tears and prima donna theatrics. As is so often the case, the Tories will use an incident like this to bury bad news. And while their boss was in meltdown mode, they were having a field day.

For example, some members of the Windrush are to be refused citizenship, as the Tories have clearly judged that the media storm over this has died down enough that they can go back to being racists. Oh and EU migrants will receive no particularly special treatment post-brexit, so expect history to repeat itself soon enough. At least until it causes enough chaos (i.e. enough crops rot in the field and enough old gits die on dirty hospital floors) for them to realise its unworkable. But I mean come on, when the British give their word, it clearly doesn’t count when it comes to foreigners or plebs (the 17th rule of acquisition).

Meanwhile, Liam Fox quietly revealed to parliament exactly what remainers had told him prior to the referendum – that all the BS about how easy it would be to trade under WTO rules was a big fat lie. Far from the UK winning concessions off other countries outside the EU, its likely to have to make concessions of its own as a condition for continued trade (under WTO rules, which will be much harsher than under the EU’s free trade agreements).

Under WTO rules if a country changes its trade rules this presents other WTO members with the option of triggering a trade dispute. And by leaving the EU and single market (oh and changing your immigration laws also counts), this means the UK is changing its trading rules for every country in the WTO. And needless to say, the sharks are starting to circle the UK.

Across town, Michael Gove of house Slytherin the environment secretary was also confirming for farmers what they were warned about prior to brexit is going to happen – that there will be no farm subsidies anymore. Yes, there will be a transition period of a few years and the government is promising some subsidies for environmentally beneficial activities but that’s it. However, these reforms do look kind of suspiciously like the ones the EU has previously proposed and guess who was the main objector to them? So again, why are we leaving the EU, just to plagiarise its policies that we are ourselves objected too?

Furthermore, EU’s CAP reform comes with a few key caveats. Notably they want to do away with so-called “slipper farmers(city types who buy up land and pretend to be farmers just to collect subsidy money). The UK government’s proposals mention nothing about that. Which again, should hardly come as a surprise, hazard a guess who objected to the EU’s attempts to crack down on slipper farmers last time?

There also seems to be no support for small holdings, notably hill farmers or crofters. These are vital industries, not least because in order to manage the land you need to pay someone to live out in the middle of nowhere, half way up a mountain, surrounded by midges. The EU, as well as the Scottish and Welsh governments, have long recognised that pushing a bit of money their way to keep the wolf from the door makes more sense than hiring someone in to do the land management for them. But it appears the Tories plan a repeat of the highland clearances.

And of course we need to consider the impact of the supposed post-brexit trade deals the UK is proposing to sign. These will force UK farmers to compete against cheap foreign imports, which will often have been produced at a lower environmental standard. Plus there’s issues such as the risk of diseases prevalent in these countries spreading to UK farms (most notably foot and mouth disease).

This is why the EU is very selective about who it signs trades with and on what terms for which products. There is little point in them enforcing strict food safety and environmental standards on European producers, if we are just going to let every jackass in the world sell into the trading block without any standards at all. Furthermore, under WTO trade rules, farm subsidies could be seen as giving UK farmers an unfair advantage, hence they might be subject to a trade dispute post-brexit.

And to say the least I’m a little suspicious of this road to Damascus conversion of Gove and the Tories towards the environment. I suspect the real reason behind this announcement is party politics. If May gets ousted, the party will split into two factions, one behind Boris or the monocled mutineer Mogg, the other behind Hammond or Soubry. If either faction wins, the Tory party will probably split. So the odds are good in favour of a compromise candidate, such as Gove. So this announcement is probably more about him making peace with the moderate wing of the Tory party than anything.

Of course once the leadership contest is over and the incompatibility of such measures with the Tories post-brexit plans becomes obvious, even these subsidies will probably be jettisoned and the farmers will be hung out to dry.

The three blokes in a pub vloggers have recently been to Geneva and they’ve been told by WTO officials there that UK farming has two good years left post-brexit, then its lights out. I suspect that might be a bit off, there is (as noted) a transition period, it will take far longer for the brexiters to sign the trade deals than they think. But certainly yes, when the dust settles, UK farmers, like the fishermen, or the factory workers, are going to find they’ve been conned and betrayed. Much as they were warned would happen many years ago. They were just too caught up in the nationalistic xenophobic rhetoric of the brexiters to bother to listen.

leaver-lemmings-brexit-cartoon

As President Marcon rightly pointed out the brexiters sold the country brexit on a torrent of lies. Not the chickens are coming home to roost and those lies are being exposed. But, as the brexiters value their careers more than their country, they’d rather drive the nation off the cliff than admit to these lies.

Sweden and the incineration dilemma

daryanenergyblog

waste-incineration-plant-Sweden.jpg

An interesting video here from Journeyman pictures about Sweden and its policy of incineration. The Swedish banned landfills on environmental grounds back in 2005 and took to adopting stricter recycling policies, with the idea being that anything that couldn’t be recycled would instead be incinerated. Those incinerators not only generating electricity but also providing winter heating for towns and cities.

However, like everywhere else, Sweden has problems with its plastic waste. And while some portion is being recycled, quite a lot is finding its way into incinerators. The Swede’s claim that this counts as “recycling”. However, burning plastics is basically burning low grade fossil fuels. And as your supply of fuel is tied to the availability of fossil fuels, as well as all of the downstream carbon emissions associated with fossil fuel production, its not a practice that’s sustainable.

On the other hand, before we start…

View original post 524 more words

TSR2 – the (not so) little plane that couldn’t

e529491ce86f003d65d9d53fe3c58d60

Get any British aviation enthusiast drunk and they’ll inevitably bring up the TSR-2. This you will be told was a “world beating” British plane design of the 60’s that would have put British aviation on the map, if it hadn’t been shot down by its own government.

However in truth, had the TSR-2 programme not been cancelled in 1965, it would have probably crippled the UK aviation industry, becoming the hill on which it would have died on. As one aviation blogger contemplates, the likely outcome, if the programme had continued, would have been an RAF in the 2000’s entirely equipped with US made aircraft, with no indigenous aircraft manufacturing industry left in the UK.

The TSR-2 is merely an example of everything that was wrong with the UK, both in terms of its industry and politics, in the pre-EU days. Given that we’re on the verge of returning to those days it might be worth reviewing the project’s history, as it represents one of the founding myths of those prompting British Empire 2.0.

Certainly it is true that the proposed TSR-2 design was pretty innovative when it was first proposed…..in the 1950’s! However, over a decade later, with the first flights underway, it was a design that was already showing its age. Case in point, right behind the cockpit was an avionics bay which included a fridge freezer sized compartment for all of the planes electronics. Necessary, given how bulky electronic components were in the 1950’s.

Cosford1

But of course by the 1960’s it was a different story, as they’re been major advances in the miniaturisation of electronic components. And the aircraft’s overall performance was by now barely equal to that of a number of competitor aircraft that were either already in service or on the verge of entering service in the 1960’s, such as the F-111, Mirage IV or the Su-24.

And contrary to the myths, no the TSR-2 was nowhere near entering service in 1965. Only two prototypes had actually been completed and only one of them had actually flown by the time of cancellation. And those early flights had revealed a number of technical problems, ranging from dangerous vibrations, engine problems, landing gear issues (multiple issues actually), etc.

1969 is probably a more realistic date for entry into service, although it won’t be entirely delivering as promised by that date. One of the key elements of the TSR-2 was going to be its advanced terrain following radar system. But they never really got this to work properly. Indeed, they eventually used a Texas Instruments supplied set in the first generation of Tornado’s (its likely the TSR-2 would have had to do the same in the end). Meaning it won’t be until the mid-1970’s before it was in a position to deliver on its original design spec. At which point all TSR-2’s would have been completely obsolete and probably not really fit for purpose.

By contrast over the same period the Americans developed the aforementioned F-111, a similar but arguably more innovative aircraft (given its variable geometry wings and Crew escape capsule). It went from a sketch on the back of an envelope in 1961 to first flight in 1964 and an entry into service in 1967. This means the Americans (despite all the issues with US military procurement I highlighted in a prior post) were able to develop the F-111 about three times faster than the British could manage with the TSR-2.

The message was clear, there was no way the UK aviation industry could compete with the American aviation industry (or the Soviets for that matter). And this is merely one of dozens of examples one could point too. The failure of the Bristol Britannia against the Boeing 707, or the Blue streak missile program being others. All pointed to the fact that the one small island couldn’t take on the world. If Britain was to have any future making planes, it had to pool its resources with its European partners and work with them.

And in the wake of the TSR-2 cancellation that’s what happened. Firstly with the Jaguar, then with the Tornado, which is still in service to this day. Both not only ended up in the service of European air forces, but were sold to a number of foreign buyers (one of the reasons for cancelling TSR-2 was a lack of foreign orders). And more recently has come the Eurofighter. And on the civilian front co-operation with Europe led to Concorde and later on Airbus. One could argue that the cancellation of TSR-2 give the UK aviation industry the nudge it needed to modernise and thus in effect saved it from itself.

But was there a certain level of skulduggery by the 1965 labour government in the process of cancelling the TSR-2? Probably yes, that’s kind of how politics works! It is an unfortunate fact of history that British governments have a tendency to flog dead horses and pursue projects (defence projects in particular), well beyond the point where other governments would see sense and cancel them. And they also have a habit of then mishandling the cancellation badly. Often because one side or the other in parliament is trying to save face….or jam the knife in the back of the opposition, with the long term interests of the country coming pretty low on the list of priorities. The cancellation of the RAF Nimrod aircraft, which I previously covered, being a good example of this.

So TSR-2 is not an example of “world-beating” British innovation, but a cautionary tale of what happens when a small country gets in way over its head. The truth is the TSR-2 should have been cancelled much earlier and its cancellation probably saved thousands of aviation jobs in the UK, because it led to greater co-operation with Europe.

The inevitability of a 2nd referendum

anti-brexit-pro-eu-protester-holding-second-referendum-banner

I discussed before the difficulties that would arise in implementing a 2nd EU referendum. It is now fairly unlikely that will happen prior to the UK leaving. However, my warning to leaver’s is that a 2nd referendum, likely on the UK’s re-entry into the EU is all but an inevitability over a long enough time period. And likely a 3rd or a 4th until the question is settled for good. So if there are hoping that remainers will just shut up and go away, then think again.

Its important to remember how we got here. The UK had its recent referendum because of a small party on the fringes of UK politics of angry Daily Mail readers. In addition the leadership of both the Tories and labour were under pressure from a small but vocal minority of pro-brexit MP’s and party activists. This eventually forced Cameron into a referendum as a way of getting them all to shut up, so he could get on with being PM.

Well we now have a not-so small (as in millions!) and vocal group of remainers, many of whom are (or will shortly) be able to show real and significant loss and how brexit has had a direct impact on their lives. We have not one but several pro-remain parties (the lib dems, SNP, Greens, etc.) and we have a large number of pro-remain rebels within both the Tory and labour party who are prepared to vote against the party line to stop brexit, or who would back a 2nd vote.

Inevitably, what’s going to happen is this lot are going to keep banging on about Europe, disrupting the political process. At some point a future PM (or possibly even May when it comes to the crunch vote on the brexit deal) will need their support to get things done (e.g. a future election with a hung parliament, with the lib dems as king makers, whose price becomes a 2nd vote) and like Cameron he or she is forced to cave in and call a 2nd vote. So there’s going to be a 2nd referendum sooner or later. Ask anyone who lives in an EEA but non-EU country and they’ll tell you that every decade or two the question comes up, there’s some sort of vote in parliament or an actual referendum.

This presents a problem for the brexiters. Their strategy was to beg, lie, cheat, bully and steal their way to victory, then never have another referendum on anything ever again (and likely afterwards deny there ever was one, or blame the EU for forcing them out). However, those lies will likely come back to haunt them if there is ever a 2nd vote. And a vote after leaving will be worse, as we’ll then be able to see they led us not to a land of milk and honey, but one of deficits, job losses and empty supermarket shelves.

DJCC9t7XYAAeQJs.jpg

While you’ll find few brexiters who will admit it, the reality is that one of reasons why they want a hard brexit is that the harder the brexit the harder it is to unpick later and reverse. However that line of reasoning doesn’t account for the way politics works. The harder the brexit the more people will be affected by it, the greater will be the support for a 2nd referendum. They aren’t going to care how difficult or expensive it is, if that were the case nobody in their right mind would have voted leave in the first place. The seeds of brexit’s reversal could well be sown in how it is implemented.

Which brings us to the question of the labour party. Because let’s be honest the main obstacle to a 2nd referendum isn’t May, nor Boris nor the monocled mutineer (Rees Mogg), its Corbyn. Labour party activists are trying to get the party to back a 2nd referendum (which given the divisions in the Tory party would pretty much guarantee one) and can’t understand why Corbyn is objecting to it. I mean didn’t he vote remain? Hasn’t he seen the latest polling data, which shows most labour constituencies have flipped and would now vote remain (eliminating his argument for supporting brexit). Well all I can say is dream on! Corbyn voted leave, same why he voted in the last EU referendum in the 60’s and he’s not changed his mind about anything since the 60’s, so fat chance you’ll get him to back a 2nd vote. Hell, remain might win this time and we can’t have that!

brexit_poll_aug_2018

The latest polling data shows a major shift towards remain, most notably in labour voting districts

The recent anti-Semitism row confirmed all of my worse fears about labour under Corbyn. He could have ended the controversy over a year ago, but instead ignored all advice to the contrary and had to be dragged kicking and screaming to make the decision. Same way he had to be dragged to the podium to support staying in the customs union. And in the interim any who disputed the great leader’s views on either matter, or spoke out, even if they did so off the record, were punished, harassed by Corbyn’s red shirts or sacked from their jobs and threatened with deselection.

methodesundaytimesprodwebbind899ece6-197a-11e8-8b99-c63bf3915a3e

Now in any normal political party, this autocratic behaviour would make a U-turn like this a resigning matter for Corbyn (he sacked and punished party members for backing a position he now agrees with). But think again. And of course the 4 pro-UKIP MP’s have been free to prop up May and keep their boss from number 10 without fear of any backlash, forcing local party activists to take action.

The labour party isn’t a political party any more its the cult of the one true Corbyn. And so long as so many left wingers back Corbyn and labour, the longer it will take before we get a 2nd referendum. Assuming of course, that the UK doesn’t break up in the meantime. So remainers need to understand that your views are now unwelcome and incompatible with a labour party under Corbyn. Labour under Corbyn is about as welcoming of dissenting opinions as the Trump white house, or the presidential palace in Pyongyang. Until Corbyn is removed, all you are doing by supporting labour is  helping him to enable the Tories to push through the hardest of hard brexits.

And leavers need to understand that enforcing a hard brexit that nobody voted for will have grave political consequences. As I’ve said before I cannot see the Tory party surviving in scenario where the drive through a damaging brexit (nor a labour party under Corbyn since we are talking about it), then lose a 2nd referendum and are forced to reverse it. The brexiters will have merely wasted a lot of time, billions of pounds, put millions through hell, only to end up worse off than we were when they started.