Tuesday, 28 March 2017

"I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too"

An early post for Brexit Day as I've got a chocca full day's graft from first light tomorrow. 

Of course, England has been here before. The EU (that's the Pope and the whole of Catholic Europe) excommunicated Queen Elizabeth and barred all trade with us; not even a WTO-terms deal, only a bit of state-sanctioned piracy and smuggling kept us going. In reaction we went further afield to find new trade partners and accidentally founded the British Empire, established dominance of the seas and oceans and led the world in trade and commerce. They did us a favour, really.  

Anyway, if you fancy a rollocking good yarn with your celebratory tipple on B-day, rent Cate Blanchett's Elizabeth - The Golden Age; it's really rather appropriate.

Theresa May reads the draft of the Article 50 letter one last time before it is carried to Brussels. This is it!

In Brussels, Herr Juncker and Commissioner Mogherini discuss their reaction to the notification
PM May has a problem - half the country are still Remainians, committed to the 'old ways' and the sinister Tim Farron is doing his best to sow dissent in the realm
The Labour Party NEC meets to discuss the implications of Brexit. Mr Corbyn is misplaced and found later in a store cupboard. 

Meanwhile Brexit Secretary David Davis sets out to 'singe the King of Brussel's beard' before negotiations start, and is ably partnered by ...

Boris 'spuds and tobacco' Johnson, just back from exploring Washington and meeting Mr Trump, the chief of the indiginous tribes in the New World

At home Nicola Sturgeon, Queen of Scots, is caught by GCHQ plotting with Remainians to betray Brexit. 'We know the contents of every secret letter you sent' the head of MI5 tells her.

Herr Juncker's chief negotiator, Herr Barnier and Herr Verhofstadt discuss destroying the British negotiating position 'We vill crush dem and stomp dem into ze eart! No trade deal for dem!'
Mrs May makes her final speech to Conservative Party Conference before the climax of the Brexit talks. "I may have the stomach of a feeble woman, but my legs are rather good and I have the heart of a Lion"

The EU main negotiating team arrives, stunning the Brits by the size and scale 'Crikey!' exclaims Boris, and takes up smoking again, thanking providence he remembered to bring tobacco back from his US trip.

That night, Mrs May smells smoke and wakes to see the entire EU negotiating team on fire. She summons Boris, but he's nowhere to be found
Herr Juncker and the Commissioners have to explain to Europe that they've screwed up, and that all their homework got burnt in an accidental cigarette fire; Britain wins the talks
Boris turns up from the direction of the ashes of the EU team clutching a baked potato 'You see I knew there was a reason I brought these back from the new world; just the thing to keep you going when you're looking for a dropped fag ..'

Demonstrations don't count half as much as votes

Paul Mason reprises a Remoanian whine in the Guardian today; they may have lost the vote, our Article 50 letter is good to go, our negotiating teams are primed but still he clutches at the most feeble of straws. Demonstrations matter, he says, because they lay the ground for future electoral victories. Thus NHS and pro-EU protesters will see no easy victory now, but will score unexpected wins in the future.

To a point, Lord Copper. Was the Brexit vote then a delayed effect of the Countryside march, the first I ever attended? It was as much a protest about the disregard of the elite Metropolis for the rurality as about hunting, and until the Iraq march was the biggest ever seen in London, dwarfing the recent piddling little NHS and pro-EU huddles. And what of the anti-Blair march, the second of my lifetime (and probably the last)? Did the size and scale of this presage the overwhelming destruction of the Labour Party, it's utter unelectability for all time? 

Yes, the pendulum will swing back again. It always does. But not because of enfeebled radicals such as Mason calling fewer and fewer ageing followers onto the streets. Generational change will drive a future political rebalance. Demonstrations are really no more influential than a successful pop song or blockbuster TV series. It's universal suffrage and the secret ballot that really bring change - both of them striking fear into the hearts of the Illiberals. 

Let me fix that strapline for you, Paul ..

Monday, 27 March 2017

Britain needs a new people's Party - What should it stand for?

There seems a degree of agreement that the nation needs a new party of the people that transcends the left - right political axis; what ten key aims would such a party stand FOR? Over to you, but here are my starting suggestions -

- Small state and the rule of law; a balance between central and local control
- Greater democratic control by a variety of democratic forms for each democratic tier, as appropriate
- Patriotic, not nationalistic; A Britain Internationalist in trade and outlook, but not subservient to Globalism
- A focus on the little platoons that will help build a strong and congruent British national identity  
- Fairness, justice and equity both within and between the generations
- Pride in our values, confidence in our cause
- Sustainable and practical use of our land, seas and assets
- A nation slow to rouse, but strong to bite 

NB being clear about what a party stands for implies those things it is against - they need never be stated explicitly. Negative aims turn people off. 

(Uhm, I'm not volunteering to start one.)

Sunday, 26 March 2017

I always thought Carswell was a bit of a cad

Not saying I told you so, but this post from 29th August 2014;

Carswell - A bit of a mess
Oh dear Oh dear. Where to start. Mr Carswell.

1. He's undoubtedly right in believing that Cameron will flunk any reform negotiations - Dave has all the negotiating ability of a collapsed soufflĂ© and about as much real commitment to fundamental reform as a nun writing a condom ad. Many Tories are exhibiting the triumph of hope over experience on this, convincing themselves that Dave will somehow behave completely differently to the way he has for the last ten years. There's no hope I'm afraid - he will flunk it, and be wholly humiliated, and will then flunk the Brexit referendum, leaving the UK as weak losers. 

2. A minor but nonetheless niggling point - he's stolen Nigel's thunder as the first elected UKIP MP (or will do if he succeeds in the by election). While the gain to UKIP outweighs the stolen prize, it's a bit caddish.  

3. Carswell is an unlikely hero. Committed to the privileges of the political class, he led moves to make the home addresses of MPs secret on election applications. Neither was his Localism book (with Dan Hannan) entirely original, owing much to both Simon Jenkins and Helena Kennedy, sometimes without attribution. If I met him in the pub, I wouldn't like him. 

4. However, at least few care personally what happens to him. His move is useful in gaining UKIP air-time and in forcing Tory MPs to realise that Cameron's emollient charms are unsuited to the job in hand. It also brings back into discussion a Tory - UKIP election pact for 2015; if a worried party forces Cameron into this, Carswell's actions will be justified.    

Back to today ...and apropos of nothing

Apropos of nothing, you may not be aware that the EU Commission actually has its own FOI system, application form HERE.

I've already submitted two - 
- (1)Inventory and valuation of the Commission's cellar stocks of wine, beers and spirits (2) Inventory and valuation of the Commission's cutlery, crockery, napery, cruets, condiments, candelabra, candle holders and all other equipment and table decoration held for official Commission dining and events

- A complete inventory and valuation of all works of art valued each at over €1.000 (one thousand Euros) held by the Commission to include paintings, sculpture, prints and drawings, installation works and all other objects held for artistic and / or cultural reasons

Well, if we're entitled to 10% of the CDs in this divorce, we don't want to be stuck with the Spice Girls and Robbie Williams, do we? 

Friday, 24 March 2017

Facial Asymmetry - Mayor of London

Just one more photography post and I'm done ...

A game we used to play when bored was to 'split' on Photoshop the full face photographs of convicts in US jails (many American states publish mugshots of their jailbirds on the web) to find the greatest degree of asymmetry. Convicts gave good results because they generally have the most asymmetric faces - balanced, sober, law abiding college football players tend to have very symmetrical faces.

Watching London's Mayor yesterday I was struck by the thought that he would also give a good result. Of course there's absolutely no suggestion whatever that Mr Khan is criminally inclined, but the two composites perhaps suggest that there is more than one side to the Mayor. 

Thursday, 23 March 2017

This picture is genuine

This picture is credited to Jamie Lorriman. It is genuine. Jamie is a professional photographer. It appears, credited to Jamie, in the Standard

Islamist killers are just pathetic failures

Hate-bearded Islamist killers in Britain will all end up as cold lumps of bullet-torn meat in the common morgue. No glory, no martyrdom, just squalid deaths shot down like dogs. And no burial the following day - we'll keep the bodies in the fridge for weeks, or what's left of it after Heckler & Koch and the pathologist have finished. They will lose the humanity we grant them the moment they raise a weapon in anger against us. 

There are no good Islamists (using the former PM's definition of Islamism). Non-Islamist Moslems can live amongst us in peace so long as their true allegiance is to our realm and not to their faith. And Moslems cannot just walk by and pretend that they and their faith are not the root of the problem. Unless Moslems here are now active in helping destroy Islamism in Britain, they are also part of the problem.   

NB If anyone has evidence that this picture is a fake, I'll happily remove it. I've carried out an image-match search and it doesn't appear on the internet before yesterday early evening. Light and weather conditions are right, for yesterday, as is clothing. Could be a photoshop - please alert me if someone has done a pixel analysis.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

EU's Brexit talks strategy - Hire Raging Ronnie

It happens from time that time that contractors lose big money on a construction job. Either they won the work with a loss-leading bid, hoping in vain to make it up on variations and instructions, or they mis-valued risk, or they simply badly mismanaged the process. Often, they simply don't figure the P&L on a job until site work has finished, get a shock and submit a claim for an outrageous sum to get them out of trouble. Usually a firm and very chilly meeting with full forces assembled was enough to see off trouble, but when senior jobs were at risk they would hire Raging Ronnie. 

Raging Ronnie was himself chartered in three professions, with an array of post-nominals that exceeded his own name in length. One of his professions was as an Adjudicator, but he was rarely appointed in that role. Mostly he worked as muscle for contractors. The first Raging Ronnie letter would come in, with copies to the Chairman and Secretary, expressing outrage and shock that we had refused his client's eminently reasonable claim, and demanding that we paid up straight away. The second would come a week later, expressing outrage and shock that we had not yet agreed to his demands, and threatening immediate Arbitration. The third would go just to the Chairman, as between equals, a reasonable and calm appeal over the heads of we stubborn underlings to intervene and pay, and the fourth would be the formal notice to seek Adjudication if the claim was not met. 

Our strategy was always the same. Ignore all demands and keep twitchy board members calm, stiffen their backbones and prepare for a hearing. 

Of course all Raging Ronnie's bluster, hubris, outrage, anger and threats would vanish in the case made. Adjudicators don't like intemperate parties. Then it was just a calm and patient slog to demolish their claims. We'd always have to pay something, of course; the Adjudicator will make an award to a contractor just for spelling their own name correctly, but usually it was peanuts.   

And so it is with this oh-so-carefully 'leaked' EU negotiating strategy document that threatens taking the UK to the Hague if we don't meet their demands. I'm beginning to think that Raging Ronnie has found a new client ..

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

When Guardian comrades fall out

The disintegration of the left is the gift that goes on giving; hardly a day passes without one fraternal comrade thrusting a knife into the back of another. Honestly. The Tories just don't have to bother - the brothers are doing it themselves.

Now two of the Guardian's foremost cis-scribblers are at eachother's throats; Nick Cohen and trainee welder Owen Jones. I don't know whether Cohen backs Fatboy or some fourth party but the handbags are definitely unsheathed.

"This is the final word on the matter" declares Jones optimistically on Medium, then goes on to write
The response to the current terrible political situation by Nick Cohen is as follows: “I Told You So You Fucking Fools!” In a profanity-ridden rant, he says supporting Corbyn in the first place was a colossal misjudgement despite all the warnings about what would happen. Let me be polite about this. Cohen was a passionate and unapologetic supporter of the Iraq war, one of the greatest calamities of our time, a ‘misjudgement’ (I’d prefer ‘crime’) so colossal that ‘catastrophic’ doesn’t even begin to cover it, a war waged on a false pretext which led to the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people, countless others maimed and traumatised, millions driven from their homes, Iraq turned into a hunting ground for sectarian murderers and Islamist fanatics, which played a critical role in violently destabilising the Middle East. Cohen demands penitence for those who backed someone who will lead Labour to defeat. That’s not quite on the scale of noisily backing a calamity that slaughtered hundreds of thousands of people. Imagine being unrepentant about backing one of the worst disasters of the post-war era and then abusively attacking others for failures of judgement.