I don’t think so really, no

Jun. 26th, 2016 06:04 am
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Posted by Tim Worstall

“Today’s a good day to say I’m in a happy same-sex relationship, I campaigned for Stronger In but sometimes you’re better off out! #Pride2016,” Greening, 47, said on her official Twitter account @JustineGreening.

She is the first openly gay woman, and second openly gay Conservative, to hold cabinet office after Scottish secretary David Mundell came out in January.

Pretty sure that Labour has had a lesbian cabinet minister. Angela Eagle? Ah, maybe no,t junior minister and now Shadow cabinet.

Ho hum, so much for memory.

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Posted by Andrew Rawnsley

David Cameron has just become one of those leaders who will be defined in history by a single enormous mistake

In the speech announcing his resignation, David Cameron included a list of the things he was proud to have done as prime minister. I suspect you glazed over at that point. So will future biographers of his premiership. He has just become one of those leaders who will be remembered for a single enormous mistake. Neville Chamberlain had achievements to his name before appeasement. There was more to Anthony Eden than the Suez debacle. Lord North had a career before he lost America. But each of those premiers is defined by their one towering disaster. So it will be with David Cameron, the prime minister who accidentally ruptured more than four decades of his country’s economic, security and foreign policy by losing the referendum on Europe. That will be the inscription etched deep on his tombstone.

He staked his reputation and gambled his country’s place in the world on a referendum for which his party ached but the public hardly clamoured. He timed the vote and chose a moment that has proved to be a calamity for the cause to which he became a belated, and thus not very convincing, champion. He destroyed his premiership because he misjudged the politics and mishandled his enemies. The man who arrived as leader of his party pledging to purge its obsession with “banging on about Europe” has blown himself up over Europe. And potentially much else besides. With Nicola Sturgeon seizing on the perfect rationale for another attempt to gain independence for Scotland, he may also be remembered as the man who unravelled the United Kingdom, achieving the double whammy of expelling his country from one union and breaking an even older one.

Continue reading...
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Posted by TSE

From this I’m concluding a coup is being implemented by the opponents of Corbyn and how long will the reshuffle take ?

TSE

andrewducker: (Default)
[personal profile] andrewducker
You can't fix a problem if you don't really understand it, and you can't get somewhere unless you know where you're starting from. So in order to try and work out some steps towards a better future, I've been thinking about _why_ people voted to Leave Europe (And also why people vote for Donald Trump, which I think is related).

It's far too easy to look at the demographics of the different voters and say "They're less educated, and older, and poorer, of course they voted against their best interests." - but it's (a) not as simple as that and (b) that doesn't explain _why_ those factors would lead to people voting themselves out of the EU. After all, if what we were talking about was simple ignorance then the results should be random at lower levels of education, not anti-Europe.

The problem as I see it is that there are groups of people who believe they have either gained nothing from the changes in society over the last few decades, or have actively lost out. Those people are now a large enough proportion of the population that their angry lashing out is capable of tipping the scales of power.

There were less of the disenfranchised during the Blair years because the economy was constantly growing, and therefore (nearly) everyone felt a little bit better off, and even if things weren't better _now_ there would clearly be opportunities in the future. But when the growth stops then you're either in a worse state than before, or suddenly realising that the current shitty situation is one you're stuck with.

And the problem is that nobody ever told them the truth. Nobody ever said that if we wanted Europe to be a success then everyone would have to pay for it, and that would mean us paying more than we got back - but it would be worth it for the peace and the possibilities it opened up. Instead we were told that everything we did would benefit us directly.

When, of course, we were told at all. If you weren't paying attention then it would be hard to tell that New Labour were working to improve poverty at all. They were - but it was all being done in such a hush-hush, don't let the Daily Mail find out that we're actually left-wing manner, that when they finally ended their winning streak it was remarkably easy for the Conservatives to roll things back, because almost nobody could see what we were losing. Unless they were directly affected, of course.

And, of course, they didn't sell the benefits of Europe either. Labour have been pretty content to just let Europe slide by in the background, not worrying about it. And, frankly, so was I. Because it felt remote, and had been around since before I was born, it was something I didn't really think about. Like, say, oxygen.

The problem with that, is that when it comes to taking a vote on whether we should have oxygen any more, I haven't actually thought much about why I care about it, and what it means to me. And when the anti-oxygen side keep pointing out that without it we'd have a lot less forest fires, you can't actually get the general population up to speed on why they should vote to keep it.

As usual, I see this at least partially as a democracy/voting issue. With the system we have it's easiest for Labour (for instance) to take anywhere that doesn't vote Conservative for granted, and not mention any policies/areas that might upset people. So even though the poorest people in rural areas might actually be doing badly, nobody is going and talking to them, and the resentment festers until it explodes when given a chance to "Teach them all a lesson". Given a system where people can vote for what they see as their self-interest, we might actually see parties working harder to include everyone, and to listen to people's problems. And a system that doesn't assume that because it works for the majority it can ignore those on the fringes.

You will, of course, always have some really racist people. But the majority, in my opinion, are going along with self-interest, wanting to protect themselves because they don't feel protected by the people who claim to represent them. If we want to defang the awfulness that we're seeing at the moment then we need a better understanding of the real reasons why they don't feel like the system works for them, and to improve the system so that it works for everyone, and is seen to work for them.

(For another take on this, see this article, which I found fascinating.)
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Posted by Mark Pack

Tim Farron on European Union

That’s the message from Lib Dem leader Tim Farron in an email to party members this evening, following a meeting of the party’s Federal Executive earlier today. The idea of sticking with the Lib Dem pro-European policy in the face of the the referendum result is easier in the light of comments since the result from leading Brexit campaigners such as Dan Hannan saying he doesn’t think Brexit will reduce immigration and Nigel Farage discarding the ‘£350m a week for the NHS’ line. Both of those were key parts of the Brexit case which, without the negotiation team having even yet been formed, are now being rapidly repudiated even by the campaign’s own leading figures.

Would an early general election stop Brexit?

Immediate political punditry in the aftermath of traumatic events tends to age about as well as a four week old banana left on a beach in the south of France. more

Whether the policy will be brought forward, as it were, to call for a second referendum once the exact terms of Britain’s exit from the EU have been negotiated and are therefore actually known, is something to keep a close eye on. Following a referendum on the broad question in abstract with a second referendum on the exact details would end up being not a bad process, and indeed such two-referendum processes have often been used on a variety of issues in other countries.

Tim Farron’s email also, I’m glad to say, also makes supportive reference to the many people living in Britain who are currently worried and afraid that they will lose their rights to live here:

Liberal Democrats have always believed that Britain should be outward facing, collaborating with other countries to tackle global challenges. Our membership of the European Union allows us to do that.

Britain has now voted to leave. The margin of victory was small and risks dividing our country. We must respect the outcome of the referendum in how we talk about moving forward.

We also have to understand that for many people this was not just a vote about Europe. It was also a howl of anger at politicians and institutions who they feel are out of touch and have let them down.  Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove won this campaign by deliberately deceiving voters. They offered cheap slogans and easy answers that they knew they could never keep. Their hollow pledge of £350 million for the NHS has already unravelled and people will be right to feel angry that they have been let down again.

We must also remember that there are many, many European citizens who have made Britain their home. We are immensely grateful for the contribution they make to our country and we are committed to ensuring they can remain here and feel safe here.

I believe our country’s future is still best served by our membership of the European Union, despite its flaws. Millions of our fellow citizens believe that. I also believe many of those people share our vision of a country that is tolerant, compassionate and positive about Britain’s role for good in the world. They share our vision of a country that wants to repair its divisions by working hard together, not by offering cheap slogans.

That is why I want to make clear that the Liberal Democrats will fight the next election on a clear and unequivocal promise to restore Britain’s prosperity and role in the world, with the United Kingdom in the European Union, not outside it.

At the same time, we must address the difficult issues that this referendum has raised about Europe and our country – but with real answers, not cheap slogans.

Since the result of the referendum became known, thousands of new members have joined our party. I encourage you all to reach out to family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances and encourage them to join us to build that Britain together.

Here is that Nigel Farage comment on NHS funding in his own words:

A message from Tim Farron

Jun. 25th, 2016 09:29 pm
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Posted by The Voice

Tim Farron has sent this message to members this evening:

Liberal Democrats have always believed that Britain should be outward facing, collaborating with other countries to tackle global challenges. Our membership of the European Union allows us to do that.

Britain has now voted to leave. The margin of victory was small and risks dividing our country. We must respect the outcome of the referendum in how we talk about moving forward.

We also have to understand that for many people this was not just a vote about Europe. It was also a howl of anger at politicians and institutions who they feel are out of touch and have let them down.  Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove won this campaign by deliberately deceiving voters. They offered cheap slogans and easy answers that they knew they could never keep. Their hollow pledge of £350 million for the NHS has already unravelled and people will be right to feel angry that they have been let down again.

We must also remember that there are many, many European citizens who have made Britain their home. We are immensely grateful for the contribution they make to our country and we are committed to ensuring they can remain here and feel safe here.

I believe our country’s future is still best served by our membership of the European Union, despite its flaws. Millions of our fellow citizens believe that. I also believe many of those people share our vision of a country that is tolerant, compassionate and positive about Britain’s role for good in the world. They share our vision of a country that wants to repair its divisions by working hard together, not by offering cheap slogans.

That is why I want to make clear that the Liberal Democrats will fight the next election on a clear and unequivocal promise to restore Britain’s prosperity and role in the world, with the United Kingdom in the European Union, not outside it.

At the same time, we must address the difficult issues that this referendum has raised about Europe and our country – but with real answers, not cheap slogans.

Since the result of the referendum became known, thousands of new members have joined our party. I encourage you all to reach out to family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances and encourage them to join us to build that Britain together.

If you feel inspired to join us, then you can do so here.

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Posted by Tim Worstall

One of the odder effects of last Thursday’s vote by my fellow Britons to leave the European Union (Yay!) is to delay any future Federal Reserve interest rate rise in the United States. This isn’t quite what you would expect from a standing start analysis of the global economy. Britain no longer gets ruled by Brussels, why should this change American interest rates? But a side effect of this is that both the pound and the euro have fallen in value against the US dollar. Just as this is stimulatory to the British and European economies this is (marginally) contractionary for the US economy. Thus there’s little point, even it is contra-indicated, that the Fed should apply yet more contractionary monetary policy by raising interest rates. And thus the reason that a political decision thousands of miles away leads to an economic decision in the US.

As is said:

Market mayhem and the strengthening dollar following Britain’s decision to leave the European Union make it increasingly likely the Federal Reserve will delay plans to raise short-term interest rates.

Officials just a few weeks ago were looking at a move by their July 26-27 policy meeting. That now looks highly unlikely and a move at subsequent meetings becomes less likely, too, at least until it becomes clearer how events in Europe will affect the U.S. economic outlook.

The market mayhem part isn’t the important bit. That European markets go wild really isn’t something that the Federal Reserve is supposed to worry about all that much. It is, after all, part of the US system of governance, not the European nor global:

Britain’s shock vote to leave the European Union may tie the U.S. Federal Reserve to near zero interest rates for far longer than expected, according to new research indicating the U.S. central bank is now tightly bound to international economic conditions.

Over the past 18 months the Fed has blinked more than once, and refrained from raising interest rates when global market volatility has darkened the economic outlook, but the Fed has still maintained that U.S. monetary policy could ultimately “diverge” toward higher rates even in a weakened world economy.

Again, it’s not market volatility that is the point. It’s the movement of the dollar:

The severity of the fallout will become clear over three time horizons. On Friday, the Fed said it’s ready to act with its global central bank partners to shore up liquidity in markets, if needed. In the medium term, the post-Brexit market turmoil could delay a rate increase, while in the longer term, secondhand effects could bleed into U.S.

The point is, quite simply, that a rise in US interest rates is contractionary on the US economy. It is also true that a rise in the US dollar exchange rate is contractionary on the US economy. These do not have equal effects of course. A 1% rise (that is, a rise of 1%, not a 1% of current interest rates rise) does not have the same effect as a 1% rise in the exchange rate. But they are both moves in the same direction.

An interest rate rise will , other things being equal (or ceteris paribus as the jargon goes) reduce investment in the US just at the same time as it increases savings. This will reduce aggregate demand. The exchange rate works differently, imports become cheaper, exports more expensive and these two also reduce aggregate demand. The size of the effects from an equal percentage change are different but they both work in that same direction.

So, if the exchange rate is already rising then one doesn’t raise the interest rate in order to achieve the desired or required amount of reduction of demand. This is before we consider the idea that a higher US interest rate will lead, again ceteris paribus, to more capital entering the US and thus pushing that exchange rate higher again.

This really isn’t about market mania, nor volatility nor even risk. It’s just standard macroeconomics. If the currency rate is rising then that is already contractionary upon the economy. And thus that other contractionary policy, raising interest rates, should be put to one side for the moment.

Brexit makes the Fed rate rise later and, when it comes, possibly lower. Rightly so.

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Posted by loveandgarbage

“Don’t use pencils,” they started to blubber,

“Because the state has a giant rubber.

They’ll erase the votes. They must think we’re thick.

So when you head to vote, best take a Bic.”

But strangely enough that the nation’s spies

Would spend time doing this turned out to be lies.


jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

I met Ambelin Kwaymullina in 2014 at Continuum. Later that year, I read and talked about the first two books in her young adult Tribe series. At the time, only the first book was available in the U.S.

As of today, the second book is out in the U.S. as well, but the third is only available through the Australian publisher, as far as I can tell. Fortunately, I have connections down under, and was able to get my hands on the final volume of the trilogy 🙂

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf Cover The Disappearance of Ember Crow Cover The Foretelling of Georgie Spider Cover

Kwaymullina describes the series as:

…a three-book dystopian series set on a future earth where the world was ripped apart by an environmental cataclysm known as ‘the Reckoning’. The survivors of the Reckoning live in an ecotopia where they strive to protect the Balance of the world, the inherent harmony between all life. But anyone born with an ability – Firestarters who control fire, Rumblers who can cause quakes, Boomers who make things explode – is viewed as a threat to the Balance. Any child or teenager found to have such a power is labeled an ‘Illegal’ and locked away in detention centres by the government.

Except for the ones who run.

Sixteen year old Ashala Wolf leads a band of rebels who she names her Tribe. Sheltered by the mighty tuart trees of the Firstwood and the legendary saurs who inhabit the grasslands at the forest’s edge, the Tribe has been left alone – until now. A new detention centre is being built near the forest, and when The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf begins, Ashala has been captured by the government and is on her way to interrogation…

I really enjoyed these books, set in a world of powers and politics and love and cruelty. Georgie Spider was a particularly good PoV character for the final book. She’s trying so hard to understand the various futures she sees, searching so hard for the best path that she sometimes loses herself. She’s so dedicated, and you just want to give her a hug and take her out for ice cream and tell her it’s going to be okay, but they don’t actually need you to do that because they have each other. The family bond connecting the Tribe is so powerful, and so wonderful…even though the events that made the Tribe necessary are so horrible.

This book does a nice job of bringing things to a head. We learn more about the history of various characters and what happened after the Reckoning. A lot of powerful people want to reshape the world, but Ashala Wolf is the only one with the power to do literally that. Which means a lot of people want her dead, and Georgie is desperately trying to keep her alive.

I appreciate the parallels to the real world. Kwaymullina talks about this a bit in the author’s note to book three:

The Citizenship Accords … are based upon legislation that applied to Aboriginal people here in Australia, and particularly on the Western Australian Natives (Citizenship Rights) Act 1944 (which was finally repealed in 1971. This legislation offered a strange kind of citizenship, if it could be called that, because what it did was exempt Aboriginal people who obtained a citizenship certificate from the discriminatory restrictions which only applied to them in the first place because they were Aboriginal. These restrictions included being unable to marry without the government’s permission, or even to move around the State. Citizenship could be easily lost, for example, by associating with Aboriginal friends or relatives who did not have citizenship. Many Aboriginal people referred to citizenship papers as dog licenses or dog tags — a license to be Australian in the land that Aboriginal people had occupied for over sixty thousand years.

She also talks about the connection between the conflicts of the books and the battles of today. Battles between fear and hope, between hate and acceptance, between greed and balance.

They’re good books, and I recommend them. If you’re in the U.S., you can use the following links:

I’m really hoping the U.S. publisher will pick up the third book soon…

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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Posted by Mark Valladares

It seems fair to suggest that we've just experienced one of the most depressing and disturbing campaigns in our nation's history. Ironically, the result is one of the least of my concerns in that sense, grim though it is if you're a liberal, internationalist sort of person.

No, with a 52-48 split, you can at least hold on to the possibility of 'buyer's remorse', although I personally wouldn't count on it. You can even entertain the hope that, when push comes to shove, either the European Union will panic and offer the United Kingdom concessions, or that the prime movers of Brexit will blink. Frankly, I'm not getting my hopes up there either. Gove and Johnson have painted themselves into a corner here, and whilst they may think that they can intellectualise their way out, the people they've persuaded aren't likely to be as forgiving, especially with Farage goading them to go further, move faster.

For me, there are worse developments from this campaign.
  1. Migration and the re-emergence of 'acceptable racism'
Is migration an unalloyed good thing? Probably not, if you live in, say, Wisbech. Probably yes, if you live in a multicultural society where there is rather more opportunity, mobility and education. However, the political debate has been couched in terms of dealing with a problem, rather than taking a holistic view of the pluses and minuses. It was understandable that the Conservatives would treat it that way, after all, there has always been a minority in their ranks who see outsiders as the enemy. And, of course, they've spent more and more time trying to fend off the UKIP threat, perhaps not understanding that, by pandering to the extremists, you merely legitimise them.

But, increasingly, Labour have gone the same way. And yes, they risk losing a chunk of their support to UKIP too, given that they've similarly pandered, as the likes of Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham have demonstrated in their responses to yesterday's result. The old Labour Party might have seen it as an opportunity to call for an expansion of council house building, or for higher taxes to build new facilities, or a redistribution of public spending to achieve the same ends. But oh no, it's talking about 'what we do about migration'.

Nobody, well nobody relevant anyway, is talking about unrestricted migration. They never did, which is why we have immigration rules, vast swathes of them, that impact on individuals, on families, on business. Heavens, there are times when it seems like Parliament talks of little else.

But the whole idea of freedom of movement within the European Union was that it would be multi-directional, that economies that were doing well would be able to attract people from across Europe to do jobs that needed doing, skilled or unskilled. The expectation was that, as the emerging European economies grew through access to this huge market, their standards of living would improve making it less likely that they would travel and more likely that they could afford to buy our goods and services. A rising tide lifting all boats, if you like. It was about removing barriers and increasing freedom, something that liberals across Europe could support.

The British people have indicated what they think of that as a concept, one must assume. But then, they were given every reason to look darkly upon the idea, by the media, by politicians looking for popular support at the cost of their principles. In that sense, it feels good to be a Liberal Democrat this morning.

It doesn't feel anywhere near as good to be a foreigner in the United Kingdom this morning, I suspect. On my flight to Luxembourg this morning, one young woman said that she'd already been told to go home, doubtless related to her darker skin. And, whilst not all Leave supporters are racist, the ones that are have been emboldened by the result of the referendum to believe that their view is mainstream and, accordingly, acceptable. Outside of our urban centres, there will be a sense of unease amongst our minority communities, and even where voters opted to remain, there will still be an undercurrent of tension. And, for all of Boris's talk of confronting racism, he is a poster child for the easy option, and has to accept his share of the blame for what happens next in terms of community relations.

2. The Advertising Standards Authority isn't going to help you here...

£350 million per week for the NHS? No, that was never promised, says Nigel Farage, confronted with a picture of Boris Johnson standing next to a poster saying that, if you voted to leave, that's what you'd get. And, of course, Nigel never did promise that. He was happy not to deny it until after the vote, but then he wasn't part of the official Vote Leave campaign. It was Boris and Michael who promised that, even though they knew it not to be true.

Heavy restrictions on immigration? No, that isn't going to happen, says Dan Hannan. And, after all, he was promising the Asian community that it would be easier for family members in India, or Pakistan, or Bangladesh, to come here to visit them. Dan believes that. Strange that he's a member of a political party that doesn't, but nonetheless, he does believe that. Nigel doesn't. He wants you to be scared of them, millions, billions of them coming here, taking your jobs, that sort of thing. He was, of course, lying about that. There is no credible prospect of Turkey joining the European Union, and given developments in Ankara, what prospects there ever were are diminishing fast.

No, we've learnt a valuable lesson here. If you tell enough lies, and you can find enough people willing to believe them, you can win an election, even when it is demonstrated that you've lied. And it's not because people are stupid, it's more that they're ill-informed or, more likely, uninformed. After all, who knew that this stuff mattered?

And how could you campaign against such seductive lies? The truth was multi-layered, complex, not conducive to Twitter-sized rebuttal. Let's be clear here, many pro-Europeans support the concept, not necessarily the actuality. Many of us wanted more democracy, more transparency, more accountability. Ironically, it was British Prime Ministers, amongst others, lest it be forgotten, who stood in the way of a more credible European body politic - subsidiarity was only ever words for too many national leaders. No, the lies, so easily told, were most effective. Winning mattered, apparently, rather more than what might happen next.

So, we are where we are. It's not necessarily where we thought we'd be, and one has a growing sense that it isn't where the Vote Leave leadership thought they would be either. The calls for informal talks (with whom exactly, over what precisely?) prior to submitting an Article 50 request, smack of bet hedging. Perhaps they always meant to use a Leave vote as a bargaining chip? But did those who voted Leave see it the same way? You'll pardon me if I'm unconvinced...

I'm a long marcher. I didn't join the Liberal Party in the expectation that it would sweep to power, nor do I expect the liberal cause to sweep the country in response to this referendum result. But change is often not what those driving it intend, so I'm going to wait and see how this plays out. And when the dust clears, we can start to fight for what we believe in.

In the meantime, we need some core principles to articulate. Here are my thoughts.

1. We believe that the United Kingdom is better off working with others to solve our common problems. That means being part of multinational groupings and, as necessary, pooling sovereignty to do so.

2. We believe in opportunity and freedom, and that in order to advance that, we may have to offer the same to others.

3. We believe that change has to come with consent, and that this means properly explaining what is being done in the name of the people.

I'm sure that other, cleverer, people can come up with something better, more thorough. But it feels right to me at this point, and it offers something for most people, which is better than the Punch and Judy stuff that seems so prevalent at the moment.

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Posted by Mike Smithson

Liz Truss

She’s behind you! Boris needs to look over his shoulder

A couple of months ago I promised OGH that I’d write a piece on why I thought Liz Truss would be the next Prime Minister. With other things to do and three years to 2019, I put it on the back burner but events mean I need to nail my colours to the mast.

She’s not an obvious choice and certainly not in the front runners but we need to remember that, in the Conservative Party, he who wields the knife never wears the crown. So we need to look in the second rank and Truss ranks alongside Crabb, Hammond, Morgan, Harper, Soubry, Stewart, Truss, & Fallon for the longer-shot who may offer value at the bookmakers.

Back in 2009 when PB had a Channel Two, I wrote a series of guest articles over three weeks about how she was selected from my ringside seat with direct access to the participants.These were: All Trussed Up and Nowhere to Go; We’re Going Into Extra Time; and Cinders Shall Go to the Ball

The circumstances of her selection in South West Norfolk were a torrid and bruising time played out in the national media complete with snidey remarks on Have I Got News For You. Playing to metropolitan prejudice about life in Norfolk, the selection got caught up in a national controversy about All Women Shortlists, Cameron Cuties & Open Primaries as a method of doing away with the smoke-filled-room appointment of Parliamentary candidates. The old buffers and blue-rinses hated the modernisation.

The media lapped up each new twist and turn raking over details of her private life characterising the debate as one between the Cameron modernisers and the Golf Club Turnip Taliban with Jeremy Paxman’s credibility as a neutral commentator on Newsnight was undermined when it was revealed that he was a regular *SHOOTING PARTY* guest on ‘Turnip Taliban’ Leader Sir Jeremy Bagge’s estate near Downham Market.”

A lesser person would have walked away. But she didn’t and insodoing has since won the admiration of local people for her grit, determination and plain talking. It was no surprise to those who saw her at first hand when she became one of the first 2010 intake to reach Cabinet rank, albeit to the poisoned chalice of DEFRA, the graveyard of many political careers

But why does this qualify Liz to be leader?

Her selection demonstrated her personal and mental toughness. Her background growing up in in Paisley and in Leeds, attending a Comprehensive before carving a career as an economist is as much a story of ‘The British Dream’ as the untried Stephen Crabb’s rags-to-riches tale.

DEFRA is the department with most contact with Brussels so she has more experience at dealing with the EU at first hand and has developed an enviable reputation for getting the British view accepted from an evidence-based perspective, which hasn’t always endeared her to the pressure groups, who prefer to make emotional arguments unsupported by fact. Brexit is going to require experience and guile if we’re to get the best deal and she’s served her apprenticeship here.

She founded the Free Enterprise Group of Conservative MPs and is soundly ideologically on the right, which will play well with the members and, whilst being a Remainer, has been measured in her interventions during the EUDebate and has avoided the vitriolic and divisive mud-slinging indulged in by others. She’s had a good war even if she ended up on the losing side.

She’s a woman and many in the party think that the Conservatives need to change the perception that the party is all about men of a certain age. And the party needs to look forward to 2020 and beyond. That she is from a Northern left-wing household and has made her own way can only help the Party shake-off the Bullingdon labels.

So for me, Liz Truss should be more widely considered. I don’t know whether she’ll put her name forward. But I hope she will. The combination of Northern Grit, Economic Soundness and experience in hand-to-hand fighting in Brussels ticks all the boxes. That she is a deep political thinker is the icing on the cake.

Bunnco – Your Man on the Spot

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Posted by Tim Worstall

Looking in from outside the American political process it does look a little odd that the person losing the primary election gets to mould and in places dictate what the party election platform should be. My assumption is that Hillary Clinton’s team has been surprised by the vehemence of those further left and feel that they need to accommodate them. Despite the standard political practice of veering towards the base in the primaries and then swinging back centrist again for the actual election itself. On the rather sound basis that the partisan base is quite clearly rather more extreme than the general population whose votes need to be won. The specific point upon which the Sanders supporters seem to be winning is the idea of the $15 minimum wage. One that I consider to be ruinous for large parts of the country and one which even Hillary Clinton (and a very large number of economists indeed) thinks is not a good idea. We even have proof from reports supposedly supporting that higher minimum wage that it’s not a good idea.

The news:

Democrats’ platform drafting committee took a first step toward giving Bernie Sanders a major concession, voting to adopt language in support of a $15 minimum wage.

In more detail:

Reflecting Sanders’ advocacy, the platform also calls for the expansion of Social Security and says Americans should earn at least a $15 an hour, referring to the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour as a “starvation wage,” a phrase the Vermont senator often uses. Sanders has pushed for a $15-an-hour minimum wage, while Clinton has supported efforts to raise the minimum wage to that level but has said states and cities should raise the bar as high as possible.

There’s good reason for Clinton’s hesitancy here.

A draft of the Democratic Party’s policy positions reflects the influence of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign: endorsing steps to break up large Wall Street banks, advocating a $15 hourly wage, urging an end to the death penalty.

I’ve no objection at all to and end to the death penalty, think it’s a rather good idea. And I agree that something needs to change on Wall Street although I’d prefer to tax (as Obama has suggested and as my native Britain has already done) the banks into our preferred behaviour. But that minimum wage idea really is simply a bad one.

To give you the standard economics here, shorn of all of the political rhetoric (and the more absurd economic ideas about it). Low minimum wages make very little difference to anything at all. Modest minimum wages have modest effects. These two are simply because not all that many people receive “low” wages, nor even modest ones. The current minimum wage, for example, affects 2 or 4% only of the working population (it depends whether you include tipped jobs or not, not giving you that lower number). The general economic agreement is that not modest minimum wages will have not modest effects. The two basic effects we’re talking about are that, obviously, those who keep their jobs will get higher incomes and also that higher labour costs will lead to less labour being employed.

No, really, this is the standard economics. Even such as Jared Bernstein will agree that some people will lose out as a result of a wage rise. The question is not whether this is so but at what point do we say that the balance is right? The gains from those higher incomes are greater than the losses from those zero incomes? This is rather a matter of opinion. I tend to think that involuntary unemployment is an appalling thing to do to someone. It’s one of the greatest causes of unhappiness for example. Actually worse than divorce or even the loss of a limb. Those two we find that happiness gets back to “normal” levels after about 6 months. This is not so with involuntary unemployment, those loss of utility persists as long as the unemployment does.

Do note that’s my opinion, that the extra incomes do not outweigh this. You can use your own moral calculus to come to any result you desire here. But do note that there’s no serious economics at all which is not stating that those are the two effects and the sweet spot is where you think they balance. This is what leads to Larry Mishel and friends at the EPI arguing for $12 an hour (as Hillary does), what leads Alan Krueger to so argue. Even Arindrajit Dube thinks that $15 in a high wage state like California is a very brave experiment but not one that is certain of success.

OK, so, this just pushes along to having to consider what is “modest” and what is “not modest”. The general rule of thumb here being that 45-50% of median wage is modest and over that is not modest. And this depends upon the local labour market as well. So a high wage market might well be able to deal with $15 an hour (say, SF, NYC) while other areas would not (say, Mississippi, upstate NY, inland CA). All of this really is just the standard economic analysis. I really am a zealot insisting that the correct minimum wage is $0 an hour but leaving aside my opinions here the above is the standard state of play on the subject. Too high is bad, what is too high depends upon the local labour market and over some 50% or so of median wage is too high. That sentence is the standard research in a nutshell.

We even have detailed research on this point. Michael Reich and colleagues at Berkeley have modelled the effect of $15 an hour in LA City. They find that it leads to jobs losses. And Reich and colleagues are in favour of such wage rises even given this result. I regard their research as really very shoddy as they very much overuse the idea of the greater marginal propensity to spend of those on lower incomes. But even after they’ve done that they still find that a $15 minimum wage costs jobs.

The LA City report:

These effects on the level of economic activity correspond to a cumulative net reduction in employment in Los Angeles City of 1,552 jobs by 2017 and 3,472 jobs by 2019, or 0.1 and 0.2 percent of all employment, respectively.

You can say that that is a small effect and you’d be right. But it is also a negative effect. And LA is a high wage place by the standards of the US. A national minimum wage at that rate is obviously going to have much higher effects in lower wage places.

The reality is that a $15 minimum wage, on a national basis, will wreak havoc in currently low wage places. All of which is a bit of a blow to those progressives who seem to think that raising it will benefit the poor really. But such is the influence of the Bernie Sanders campaign upon the Democratic platform. They’re planning to put some goodly portion of the young, the untrained and the poor out of work entirely. Myself I don’t think this is a good piece of economic policy as I simply don’t think that deliberately creating unemployment is good economic policy. Therefore we shouldn’t be doing it, right?

And please do note, that Reich result is achieved after including the extra spending by those poor people now getting higher wages. A $15 minimum wage nationally is just one of these things that isn’t going to work.

[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_forbes_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

I have to admit that I find this absolutely fascinating. Media Matters has decided to do an explainer on the minimum wage. And of course all those horrible free market types like myself must be refuted. Yes Siree! the minimum wage at $15 an hour is going to be just peachy and don’t let those nasties like Worstall tell you any different.

In order to refute my contention they quote the same part of the same report that I did. The same part of the same report which states, just as I did, that the $15 an hour wage in LA City would reduce both the GDP of the city and also the number of jobs in the city. Not only does saying the same thing I did apparently refute me but I am cherry picking when I quote a document correctly in support of my contention.

Clearly, we have rather different ideas about what can or should be used as evidence.

Here’s what they say:

Myth: Minimum Wage Increases Will Result In Job Losses

That’s their headline of the section. Referring directly to me they say:

Forbes Contributor Cherry-Picks From Reports To Claim Raising The Minimum Wage Will Increase Unemployment. Forbes contributor Tim Worstall cherry-picked parts of a report to the Los Angeles City Council from University of California, Berkeley, economist Michael Reich on the effects of raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour in Los Angeles to claim it showed raising wages does more harm than good, “making us all poorer in the aggregate.” Worstall failed to mention that the report also found that raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour would lead to higher wages for over 40 percent of workers in Los Angeles.

The post in which I did so is here.

They then expand with this:

Michael Reich: Raising Minimum Wage To $15 Lifts Pay For At Least 40 Percent Of Workers, Resulting In A Net Increase In Jobs. In a March 2015 report, economist Michael Reich and a team of researchers from the University of California, Berkeley found that over 40 percent of workers in Los Angeles would receive a direct or indirect pay increase if the city’s minimum wage were set at $15 per hour.Forbes cited the report as proof that increasing the minimum wage to $15 would destroy thousands of low-wage jobs, but its actual finding was that the overall “employment changes” would be “quite small when compared to projected job growth of 2.5 percent a year in the city,” and it estimated that the cumulative effect would be an increase of “5,262 jobs by 2019 at the county level”:

The proposed policy would result in significant benefits to workers and their families. By 2017, we estimate that 542,000 workers in Los Angeles, or 37.8 percent of the covered workforce, will receive a wage increase from the proposed law. These estimates include a ripple effect in which some workers who earn above the new minimum wage also receive an increase. Average annual earnings will increase by 20.4 percent, or $3,200 (in 2014 dollars).
By 2019, we estimate that 609,000, or 41.3 percent of the covered workforce, will receive a wage increase from the proposed law. Average annual earnings will increase by 30.2 percent, or $4,800 (in 2014 dollars).
The large majority of affected workers will be adults with a median age of 33 (only 3 percent are teens).
[…]

The costs of the proposed minimum wage law will be concentrated in Los Angeles City, but the full benefits will be realized throughout [entity display="Los Angeles County" type="organization" subtype="company" key="los-angeles-county" natural_id="fred/company/102595Los Angeles County[/entity], because more than half of the affected workers live, and therefore spend most of their increased earnings, outside the city.
Los Angeles City: Combining costs and benefits and taking into account multiplier effects, we estimate a cumulative net reduction in GDP of $135 million by 2017 and $315 million by 2019, or 0.1 percent compared to a scenario with no city minimum wage increase. These effects on the level of economic activity correspond to a cumulative net reduction in employment in Los Angeles City of 1,552 jobs by 2017 and 3,472 jobs by 2019, or 0.1 and 0.2 percent of all employment, respectively. These employment changes are quite small when compared to projected job growth of 2.5 percent a year in the city.

What I quoted from this same report was this:

Los Angeles City: Combining costs and benefits and taking into account multiplier effects,
we estimate a cumulative net reduction in GDP of $135 million by 2017 and $315 million
by 2019, or 0.1 percent compared to a scenario with no city minimum wage increase.

These effects on the level of economic activity correspond to a cumulative net reduction in
employment in Los Angeles City of 1,552 jobs by 2017 and 3,472 jobs by 2019, or 0.1 and
0.2 percent of all employment, respectively.

As you will note I have simply quoted that part of the report which states that I am right. A smaller economy does mean that we are all poorer. An action which reduces the number of jobs is one that destroys jobs. It’s really very difficult indeed to see how what I said is wrong. Nor how what I’ve said is refuted by their quoting the very thing that proves my assertion.

I don’t know, perhaps facts and logic work differently over there on the left?

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Rewatcher’s note: Back in 1987, one of the best reference works of its kind, Mr. Scott’s Guide to the Enterprise, was published, and it is one beloved by many Star Trek fans. Its author, Shane Johnson, has since transitioned and is now Lora Johnson, and she’s having some major medical issues relating to a heart defect, and needs help. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help her with the massive medical bills. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Lora's Medical and Surgery Fund

Brexit and Scotland

Jun. 25th, 2016 04:15 pm
[syndicated profile] amused_cynicism_feed

Posted by cabalamat

Scotland voted to remain in the EU. It also voted, two years ago, to remain in the UK. Clearly Scots believe that we’re better off as part of a larger entity.

Scottish-Independence-flag2

But which one? Some reasons why Scotland should choose the EU over the UK:

1. The “better together” argument is that we are better off as part of something bigger. The EU is bigger than the UK.

2. The converse of being part of something bigger is that you lose some independence. The EU will give us more autonomy than the UK.

3. If the UK economy tanks post-Brexit, there are economic reasons for Scotland to stay in the EU. During the 2014 referendum, a strong argument against independence was that it would create economic uncertainty and that Scotland may well be worse off; that no longer applies.

4. Scotland voted to stay in the EU by a larger margin than it voted to stay in the UK.

Scottish independence

What Scotland should do, therefore, is leave the UK in order to stay in the EU. Since the rump state will be the England-dominated former United Kingdom I suggest we call it FUKED (Former United Kingdom, England-Dominated).

At the same time Scots should acknowledge that many south of the border, particularly the young and educated, voted remain. These people are the most productive part of society and should be encouraged to remain in the EU by moving to Scotland. An independent Scotland with a million or two of the most productive English Remainers would be an economic powerhouse.

Scotland should provide incentives for the best people in FUKED to join us. Young people have been screwed by high house prices and exorbitant student loans, so Independent Scotland should attract them with a policy of affordable housing for all. The Scots government would also not do anything to enforce payment of student loan debt.

Scotland should acknowledge that most of the UK’s national debt was incurred by the post 2010 Tory government which Scotland didn’t vote for, so Scotland will only be paying its share of Britain’s 2010 national debt. If FUKED doesn’t agree to this, we pay nothing — FUKED would be unable to start a trade war against us over this because we’d be in the EU and them out. In order to deter them from a real war, maybe we could have an alliance with France? There are precedents…

Parts of London’s financial services industry may wish to relocate in the EU — we should make it easy for them to do so in Scotland.

Looking at how England voted, two areas that voted heavily for Remain were Cambridge (73.8%) and Oxford (70.3%). If those universities want to relocate to Scotland, they should be encouraged to do so.


Constitutional crisis ahoy!

Jun. 25th, 2016 05:13 pm
[syndicated profile] charlie_stross_diary_feed

Contrary to popular belief, the UK does have a written constitution—it's just scattered across roughly 25 different pieces of legislation, subject to amendment on the fly whenever Parliament damn well pleases.

And since devolution came in, more than one parliament has to be convinced to amend the constitutional framework before it can be changed.

It is becoming apparent that The Scottish Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly may have veto power over BRexit per the House of Lords European Union Committee (11th Report of Session 2015-16,
"The process of withdrawing from the European Union"). See paras 70-71, "The role of the devolved legislatures in implementing the withdrawal agreement" -- section 29 of the Scotland Act 1998 binds the Scottish Parliament to act in a manner compatible with EU law, and Scottish parliamentary consent would be required to amend this. (A similar provision underpins the devolution settlements of Wales—which voted for Brexit—and Northern Ireland—which voted against it.)

So we have a royal mess coming down the pipeline.

Firstly, the referendum is non-binding on parliament. Voting "leave" did not automatically trigger UK departure from the EU, it just sent the sitting parliament a strong demand signal. It's up to them to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, or not, in a monumentally stupid game of international diplomatic chicken. (Also, a large majority of MPs in the House of Commons are actively opposed to Brexit. Absent the referendum, a free vote on Brexit in the Commons would have been defeated by a 2:1 majority.)

Secondly, both Scotland and NI voted to stay: in the case of Scotland by a stomping 62/38 margin. The European Communities Act 1972 is effectively baked into Scottish constitutional law, per the House of Lords report, and can't be amended without the active cooperation of the Scottish parliament. Trying to override this in Westminster would trigger a new and excitingly different constitutional crisis and almost certainly lead to Scottish secession on the fast track.

Meanwhile, Scotland is already lobbying the European Commission to protect Scotland's EU membership, and it looks likely that right now the final say in whether Brexit happens lies with Nicola Sturgeon, who is First Minister of a nation that voted to stay (and leads a strongly pro-European government). Taking Scotland out of the EU against the will of the voters and their elected government would also put Scottish independence back on the fast track—and this time previously staunch supporters of the union such as J. K. Rowling are already changing their tune.

I now confess to having run out of clues. I have got no idea where this is all going to end up. If the next leader of the Conservative Party in Westminster (presumptively Bojo, although I am having nightmares about Theresa May getting the job) wants a fig-leaf for switching to "remain", Oor Nicola is about the best that they could hope for. On the other hand, if the Commission are serious about wanting the UK out, they could insist on keeping Scotland as a separate member state, just to add to the pain. The possibilities are endless, within limits. I do not expect the Queen to stick her finger in the buzzing, sparking, shorting constitutional mains socket: she's not that stupid. But that's about all I can rule out at this point.

[syndicated profile] badastronomy_feed

Posted by Phil Plait

Sometimes you just need to look at pretty stars.

That image was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope back in 2009 (but just released recently), using the Advanced Camera for Surveys. It shows a region of the sky very near the center of the Milky Way galaxy, where stars are packed pretty closely together—think of them as city lights, and you see more when you look downtown*.

Interestingly, the stars are displayed pretty close to their natural colors. Hubble cameras are equipped with a wide variety of filters that let through light of not just various colors, but also various bandpasses; that is, the range of colors. A narrow bandpass means you’re seeing a very thin slice of colors (say, centered in red), whereas a wide passband lets through light at a bunch of different colors. These filters have various uses; looking at gas clouds, for example, is usually better using narrow bandpasses to isolate the light emitted by specific elements.

In this case though, wide bandpasses were used. Specifically what you see displayed as blue is centered at 435 nanometers, which really is blue. Green is actually from a filter at 606 nm, which is closer to yellow-orange, and red is from 814 nm which is very red (technically I’d say it’s near-infrared). But when combined all together, the image is not a bad representation of the actual colors the stars emit.

And look at the variety! Blue, yellow, red… the color of a star is due to its temperature. Blue means hot, red means cool. In general you can’t tell the mass of the star without more info; a red star might means it’s a dim red dwarf that’s close by, or a mighty red giant blazing much farther away.

There’s something I want you to note, though. The stars seem more or less evenly distributed throughout the image, but you can still see some patches where stars appear somewhat less frequent. There’s a band of lower density running from the lower left to the upper right in the shot, which is subtle but definitely there. Here’s a close-up of a region near the lower left side of the big picture:

Notice anything? Ignore the brighter stars, and concentrate on the fainter ones. Can you see they’re mostly red? Now some of that is real; faint red dwarfs are the most common stars in the galaxy. But I have to think that we’re also seeing the effects of dust here. Dust is made up of tiny grains of silicates (like rock) or complex carbon-based molecules called polycyclic aromatic compounds, or PAHs—essentially soot.

Both tend to absorb visible light, but not only that, they scatter it. When light hits a teeny grain it bounces off in a random direction. Blue light scatters way better than red light; a star behind some dust will appear red because the blue light is absorbed or scattered away, while the redder light goes straight through. I strongly suspect that’s why so many of those fainter stars look red. They’re almost certainly brighter, bluer stars being affected by dust.

This is very common in photos taken of the sky near the galactic center; dust is strewn liberally throughout that region. It’s commonly made in older stars, and stars that explode, and those are more populous toward the heart of the Milky Way. My favorite example of this is the dark cloud Barnard 68, where the material is thin near the edge and thicker toward the center; you can actually see stars getting redder as you look from the edge toward the middle. I talked about this in my Crash Course Astronomy episode about nebulae, too (start at about 3:23 for the whole explanation).

As always, I love how astronomy provides both brain candy —beautiful pictures just for looking at— and brain nutrition—science that provides a better understanding of what you’re seeing. Art and science are two sides of the same coin.

* These images were not taken primarily for science; while another camera was investigating a cluster of stars nearby, this camera just happened to be pointed at this star field. Scientists don’t like wasting opportunities, so the camera was turned on to see what it could see. This is called taking “parallels”, and when I worked on Hubble I was fascinated by them; I wound up writing a short paper on an object we found in one.

EU Referendum: What do we do now?

Jun. 25th, 2016 03:45 pm
[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Mark Goodrich

I can’t be the only person who is asking that question and I see that Alisdair Calder McGregor was posing it yesterday.

However, a lot of the responses seem to miss the point. We have not left the EU.  What a small majority of the country has voted for is for us to withdraw. That can only be done by triggering Article 50 and beginning discussions on the terms of exit (as even Leave recognises).

Only one country has ever left the EU – Greenland. Their Article 50 negotiations took 3 years and they only really had to discuss fish. Nobody seriously expects we can do it in less time than them and most experts think it could take 4 or 5 years. Even if Gove et al continue to ignore experts, they will need to come back to the Houses of Parliament with their deal and get it passed.

And what will that deal look like? It is hard to see how they could ever come back with a deal which allows EU citizens free movement. It is equally hard to see that the EU would ever allow access to the single market without such free movement. So, the deal presented would likely be a full exit which they would have to get through a parliament where the overwhelming majority of parliamentarians voted for Remain. 

In mv view, Parliament would be completely entitled to reject such a deal since there was never any clarity on what Leave looked like. The actual deal negotiated could then be put to the people either in another referendum or in a general election.

That is the only way to ensure that there is genuinely a stable majority for exit and that the vote is on a real alternative rather than a fantasy island. I hope the Liberal Democrats will led that fightback and represent the 48% who are our natural voters.

* Mark Goodrich is a long-standing member of the Liberal Democrats, currently based in Twickenham after spending a number of years in Japan

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Stuff and nonsense

I'm the Chair of the Brighouse branch of the Liberal Democrats & the membership secretary for Calderdale Lib Dems and run the web campaign for the local candidates. I have a job, a stepdaughter and a life.

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