In praise of tribalism

Jan. 19th, 2017 02:09 pm
[syndicated profile] chris_dillow_feed

Posted by chris

Tribalism in politics isn’t always a bad thing.

I’m prompted to say this by the fact that at least one decent Leaver thinks May’s Brexit strategy is wrong. Pete North calls it “unhinged lunacy” and a “clueless gamble.”

Some of us, though, had an inkling of this months ago. This wasn’t because we had greater powers of foresight. Instead, what strengthened my antipathy to Brexit was simply that many of the people who supported it were racists and charlatans. Of course, not all Leavers were by any means. And they had some good arguments, not least about the sclerotic nature of EU institutions. But the fact was that pretty much all racists favoured Brexit. For some of us, this set off the klaxons.

May is interpreting the leave vote as a vote against immigration because that’s what it was for many of the noisiest Leavers. And for some of us, this was precisely the reason to vote remain.

I don’t think that in thinking this way I was committing the “poisoning the well” fallacy. The fact that so many Brexiters were racists and buffoons was, to me, indicative of the sort of Brexit we’d get.

Instead, I was being tribal: I didn’t want to be part of a tribe that had a disproportionate number of people I despised. I was using a form of the social proof rule of thumb. I was allowing the numbers of others making their choices to guide mine. The fact that decent people tended to favour remain (with of course counter-examples on both sides) strengthened by support for the cause.

Sometimes, this rule of thumb is good. For example, if you are in a strange city wondering where to eat, the fact that one restaurant is full whilst another is empty might well be a decent guide to their relative merits. In other cases, though, it can be dangerous: asset price bubbles can occur because of the mistaken belief that other people know what they’re doing.

Social proof is an unreliable rule of thumb. What we have in this case, however, might be another example of how biases can cancel out. Had Pete, and other decent Leavers, used this rule of thumb in the way I did, it might have offset their wishful thinking – the belief that Brexit would turn out as they hoped. As Gerd Gigerenzer has shown, apparently irrational rules of thumb often lead to the right decisions (pdf).

My point here is of course not about Brexit at all but about the nature of decision-making. In a complex world, our individual rationality can be unreliable. To paraphrase Burke, rather than trade upon our own private stock of reason, we should sometimes avail ourselves of the general bank and capital of nations and of ages. When rid of the toxic assets of racism and dishonesty, that bank and capital told me to favour remain.

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Posted by Bernard Aris

Despite all the sugar-coating in her speech, the “Hard Brexit” announced by prime minister May didn’t go down well with Dutch businesses, many of whom have done business with Britain for decades.

The combination of the threats uttered alongside the Hard Brexit option, and a series of recent stories in Dutch newspapers about extradition letters being sent to Dutch housewives by Tory immigration ministers, seriously changed the way many UK-loving Dutch think about being in Britain, and British policy attitudes.

That point was today brought home to me, when I met a friend whose family had been visiting the Lake District every summer for decades. He told me that he didn’t feel as welcome in England as he used to, seeing the way the May government is treating our mixed-married compatriots who also love Britain. He pointed out that May’s “walk away” threat puts British-Dutch couples in complete limbo. 

The treatment of British-Dutch couples is a sore point  among my friends with many asking me what Liberal Democrats are doing about it.

After  Mrs May’s tough talk, his daughter decided that instead of studying in England, she rather would apply in Paris. She too felt insecure at the end of a three-year curriculum, besides losing the ERASMUS subsidies.  The prospect of a hard Brexit won’t diminish the fears of being separated by insensitive bureaucracies already felt by Dutch citizens married to British citizens living in Britain with jobs. Don’t be self-employed, you won’t be able to apply. Don’t expect the Dutch media to stop paying attention.

In its Brexit speech analysis, the Economist states that WTO rules forbid cherrypicking sectors after a hard Brexit. Trade deals like CETA take many years, having to be ratified by national and regional parliaments. I’m certain the leftwing majority in the Walloon parliament in Belgium which held up CETA, would love to sabotage such a “Neoliberal plot” again.

Dutch business/finance circles are also worried. The Financieel Dagblad, equivalent of the Financial Times, in its analysis today  says that Dutch business is especially worried because in specific sectors, Dutch exports to the UK provide for 300.000 Dutch jobs as our government accounting chamber CPB concluded recently. This is reiterated in the liberal quality newspaper NRC Handelsblad, a must-read for everybody in Dutch politics.

Business sources of Handelsblad and FD fear Mrs. May’s “broad” trade deal won’t be all-encompassing, leaving outside sectors important to smaller countries like us and the same goes for her new-style Tariff Union.

If May walks away from a deal; the (Dutch) ING Bank  reckons that WTO rules would add a 10.7 to 17.5% tariff on Dutch meat, flowers and fruit export; and dairy exports (our national identity emblem at international fairs) being hit by a 42% tariff.

The FD quotes experts from three influential EU think tanks: Open Europe (OE) and the Center for European Reform (CER) in London, and Bruegel in Brussels. Mrs. Demertzis (Bruegel) says May’s “walk away” threat is hollow, seeing the mutual interests in the Dutch-British trade, going back to the medieval wool/cloth trade. Mr. Korteweg (CER) points to the equivalent of Irish-British trade: being very near has bred great, longstanding interdependence. If Mrs. May doesn’t put a “hard border” between Ulster and Ireland, the Dutch will feel especially aggrieved if they’re treated harsher.  Demertzis and Mr. Cleppe (OE) agree that the WTO option or selective-treaty tariff walls would hit both the EU (especially the Netherlands) and the UK.

The Dutch CBI equivalents, VNO-NCW (all business) and MKB (small & medium enterprises) have called on Dutch government to defend all Dutch interests.

The Dutch have always been very friendly with the UK as good trading partners and political soulmates. The blunt Dutch and reserved British can get along famously. For the first time in my life, I see tensions pop up in these relationships. Dutch citizens’ and business worries can harden the Dutch government stance in Brexit negotiations. Don’t let that grow.

* Bernard Aris is a Dutch historian (university of Leiden), and Documentation assistant to the D66 parliamentary Party. He is a member of the Brussels/EU branch of the LibDems.

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Posted by Clodagh Doyle

Fearless Flatley flouts inauguration boycott

Fears that Donald Trump inauguration will be more winalot than Camelot have abated, with the news that renowned trad Irish hoofer Michael Flatley will parachute in his Lord of the Dance troupe to Friday’s virtually celeb-free inauguration.…

[syndicated profile] badastronomy_feed

Posted by Phil Plait

When I saw the image above, I literally gasped. It’s an amazing photo, showing the small moon Daphnis inside a gap in Saturn’s rings. The beauty of this shot is apparent, but the science behind it is even cooler.

Allow me to explain.

On Nov. 30 of 2016, the Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn took on a new and risky mission. It began a series of orbits that are taking it over the planet’s north pole and then down just outside the main rings.

In mid-January 2017 it dipped through the ring plane on one of these orbits, passing a mere 28,000 kilometers from the tiny moon Daphnis when it took that shot with its narrow-angle (i.e. high-magnification) camera.

That’s the highest-resolution image of Daphnis ever taken; for scale, the flying-saucer-shaped moon is about 8 x 8 x 6 km in size. Measured from sea level, Mount Everest is roughly the same size. You can see some structure to Daphnis; there’s a ridge around its equator that’s probably due to ring particles that have piled up there, and a second ridge at higher latitude. The soft appearance to the moon is probably due to the accumulation of small grains of ice from the rings that have coated it, filling in the craters and other features.

That gap in the rings is real. It’s called the Keeler Gap, and it’s about 30-40 km wide. The width of the gap appears foreshortened because Cassini was just above the ring plane when it took the shot; it’s actually several times wider than the moon is long.

But, oh, those ripples! That, my friends, is the result of gravity. It’s a complicated and intricate dance between moon and rings, but it’s worth learning the moves.

Saturn’s rings are composed of countless tiny particles of ice, each in its own separate orbit around Saturn. They’re tremendously wide —the main rings are 300,000 km across, and would stretch 3/4 of the way from the Earth to our own Moon— but are astonishingly flat. In some places they are only 10 meters high from top to bottom, the height of a three-story house. To scale, this makes them far thinner than a piece of paper.

There are several subdivisions of rings, given letter designations in order of discovery. The broad A ring has distinct two gaps in it, carved by moons orbiting Saturn embedded in the ring. The Encke gap is 325 km wide, and is from the moon Pan. The much narrower Keeler Gap is due to Daphnis.

If you plunk a small moon down in a ring, it will of course carve a gap as it plows through material. Its gravity will attract more material as well, so particles just inside and outside the moon will, over time, fall onto it. The gap grows, but the width of the gap depends on the strength of the moon’s gravity. At some distance, the gravity is too feeble to pull particles all the way out of the ring and onto the moon. Pan has nearly 100 times the mass of Daphnis, so its gravity is stronger, and the gap it carves wider.

What causes those ripples? The orbit of Daphnis is not a perfect circle, but instead is very slightly elliptical. That means it’s sometimes closer to the inner edge of the Keeler gap, and sometimes closer to the outer one. The change is small, only about nine km, but that’s enough. When it’s closer to one edge it pulls on the ring particles a bit harder, creating the wave.

But there’s more to it. The orbit of Daphnis is also tipped a bit to the ring plane, a mere 0.0036° from being exactly aligned. That means it bobs up and down out of the ring plane by about 17 km. When it does it drags the ring particles at the gap edges as well. Those waves you see in the image go in and out of the gap, but also up and down by a kilometer or so.

Perspective makes that hard to see here, but twice every time Saturn orbits the Sun, the rings are edge-on to the Sun, and any vertical excursion can cast long shadows.

That image was taken at Saturn’s northern hemisphere spring equinox in 2009. It’s incredible! You can see Daphnis and the long shadow it casts on the ring. You can also see the vertical waves caused by the moon’s feeble pull. Each wave corresponds to one up-and-down bob of the moon relative to the rings. Eventually, tides from Saturn pull the particles back down, but that takes a while, and the ripples extend for a long way around the ring.

How about that? But wait! There’s more!

Look again at the first picture. You can see the ripple to the left of Daphnis is fuzzier than the others. That may be due to very tiny grains being pulled out (that ripple is on the outside of Daphnis, so was created the last time Daphnis passed those particles). The particles are brighter there than on the ripple right next to Daphnis, which is interesting; that may be due to the Sun’s illumination on the wave.

That’s a closer look at the top photo. You can see a very thin ribbon of material to the left of Daphnis. That may be due to a clump of material in the ring that was pulled apart by the moon! Note the shape, too; it mimics the ripple but looks like it goes deeper into the gap. Amazing. When I saw that I had to sit back and stare in awe. I don’t think anything like that has ever been seen before.

Also in that shot you can see the rings look grainy. That may very well be a hint of the actual grainy particulate nature of the rings, where material has clumped up! Cassini is getting closer to the rings than it ever has before, so we see them in more resolution. I hope we get even better shots of them over the next few months.

We’d better, because time is running out. Cassini’s end-of-mission is in September of this year, and when it’s done engineers will command it to plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere, where it will burn up and be crushed. This is done to prevent any possible contamination of the moons in case Cassini might impact them in the future after fuel has run out. Instead, the remaining wisps of fuel will be used to send the probe into the planet itself.

I’ll hate to see Cassini go. But images like the ones of Daphnis make me glad we had Cassini for as long as we did. It’s a truly historic mission, and its legacy will live on for a long, long time.

Tip o’ the RTG to Ian Regan.

Not sure what to do with myself today

Jan. 19th, 2017 12:54 pm
hollymath: drawing in black of owl wearing big red glasses.Words on its belly:"it's not about how you look, it's about how you see" (Default)
[personal profile] hollymath
Restless sleep -- the nightmares have already started -- though at least my sleep schedule is back to something approaching normal.

Normally I'd be in Brighouse on a Thursday but since I'm not today I haven't planned anything else. I've been so busy lately you'd think this would be a good thing, but it's just reminded me why I've been keeping myself so busy: in utterly miserable when I'm not.

Andrew's day started with some sad family news so things feel a bit subdued anyway. Our weekend plans are up in the air but definitely won't be as nice as we'd been planning.

I'm not sure what to do with myself tomorrow either. I've said I'm "interested" to all the Trump-related protests on Facebook but I honestly can't tell whether I'll feel better if I get out and join in or whether I need to just hide from everything.

The latter seems tempting (much as I appreciate the solidarity of a mostly-foreign crowd resulting the Orange Fascist, it feels different showing up as an American, thinking of the direct impact this will have on my aging parents, my terrified friends, and my own experience of juggling Trump’s America and Brexit Britain) but the problem with that is that I've no other plans and without some I know I'll just overdose on social media and end up in new depths of anxiety and depression.

And I just can't summon the resources to clean the house, work on my book, go to the gym, finish my citizenship application so that can be sent off... none of the ways I could be useful seem at all possible right now.
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Posted by Caron Lindsay

It’s time for the Scottish Parliament to debate the Government’s budget plans for the coming year. It’s particularly interesting this year as the SNP no longer has a majority and must secure the backing, or at least the abstention, of others in order for the budget to pass.

Willie Rennie has written to Derek Mackay, the SNP’s Finance Minister, to set out the changes that the Liberal Democrats wish to see before they could consider supporting the budget.

It will come as no surprise to anyone that he is sticking to the priorities we outlined in our manifesto for the Scottish elections last year – more money for disadvantaged kids in schools as we implemented successfully south of the border, an expansion of mental health services, particularly for young people, and more funding for the Police who are struggling to cope with the SNP’s disastrous centralisation.

It’s quite important that we have all this in mind in everything that we do during this Parliament. We need to think about what we want to achieve and what we will have to say to voters in 2021 about what we have fought for and where we are not prepared to settle for tepid, unambitious half-measures. In the last Parliament, where the SNP had a majority, we still made issues like early years education, colleges, the Police, civil liberties and mental health our own and won significant concessions from the SNP in budget discussions. Now that there is no majority, we need to push for more.

Derek Mackay should not under-estimate the pressures that Willie Rennie is under from within the party. Activists and councillors across Scotland would take some convincing before they would be happy with our MSPs supporting the SNP’s budget. There would have to be some pretty significant changes in line with the priorities Willie has set out. Window dressing will simply not do. This is what he has to say on the subject:

The SNP have no majority for their draft budget.  If they want a majority they will need to agree to this comprehensive but necessary plan.

The intention is to secure substantial changes to the budget which will set Scotland on a stronger, more liberal path, giving people the chance to succeed and reach their potential whatever their background.

Liberal Democrats will not agree to the draft budget as it stands and will need these substantial changes. If we don’t get what the country needs then we will walk away.

Our plan invests for a step change in mental health and a transformation in education that will help in the road to a liberal Scotland.

A properly funded pupil premium and more money for colleges will create that opportunity and boost jobs and the economy.

New investment in mental health services will boost this Cinderella service and make the whole NHS more sustainable in the future.

We have also included support for alcohol and drug services, a higher budget for the police and lower cost transport for the Northern Isles.

I have had a number of meetings and discussions with the Finance Secretary so far and looking forward to receiving his response to our plan.

His full letter to Derek Mackay is below:


We have had meetings on the 2017-18 Scottish Budget prior to publication and since then, most recently last week. I want to use this letter to set out the position of the Scottish Liberal Democrats in advance of the Stage 1 vote on the Budget Bill.

The result of the election has left you as a minority.

I have looked at the priorities and proposals made by my party in the election. I want to be clear with you about what my colleagues and I believe needs to be changed in the Draft Budget. In short we will need new measures on mental health, restored college funding, a fully supported pupil premium, new money to support the police, together with less costly transport links to the northern isles.

Given the turbulence that has affected the Scottish economy, and the weekly warnings about skills shortages, business confidence and educational attainment the Scottish Liberal Democrats are right to prioritise a strong long-term economy for Scotland. It remains our belief that the range of issues we have discussed with you remain important to develop a strong, diverse economy with increased economic participation.

You have explained to me how you have adapted and structured your Draft Budget to meet some of those priorities. This note sets out where we accept elements of that but I need to be completely clear with you where the Budget continues to fall substantially short.

The centrepiece of our election campaign was a £500m annual investment in education. As you will have heard me say on many occasions, Scotland used to rank amongst the best in the world for education, now we are average. The decline will have a real effect, when the lack of investment in education reduces the number of high-skill and high-wage jobs in Scotland. My party’s proposals invest in education and learning from childcare, to the pupil premium, to restoration of funding to colleges. We showed in May that this could be paid for by our Penny for Education proposal, not through the withdrawal of funding to other services.

Our proposal for a pupil premium will give schools the resources to raise attainment by children from disadvantaged backgrounds. We allocated £190m in our manifesto to allow additional funding of £1400 for eligible primary school pupils and £900 for secondary.  This was on top of the Attainment Fund that existed at the time of the election. Since the election you have announced a welcome change of policy away from your previous position of limiting funding to only certain local authorities and towards our idea of an entitlement that reaches right across Scotland.  The amount of your proposed investment still falls short of the amount that would match the similar pupil premium operating in England. The outcomes from the investment in England have been substantial and worthwhile. It doesn’t seem right to us to underfund the provision in Scotland and risk not achieving the gains. This £70 million shortfall will need to be addressed if the Budget is to gain our support.

On colleges, we remain seriously concerned at the shortages of skills in important sectors. College funding next year will be £93m below the peak funding achieved in 2010-11 under the terms of your Draft Budget. The erosion of the college sector should not be allowed to stand next year. The decline has impacted on women and older students disproportionately. We believe that it is important to return investment back to former funding levels and meet future skills needs. Improved college funding will need to be part of the final Budget.

On childcare, at our discussion in December you set out how the Scottish Government will be piloting different models for implementing its policy of additional free childcare provision from the age of 2. My party supports your overall aim. We believe that the policy will be difficult to deliver. We are very concerned about the reports of the difficulty of accessing current provision in some parts of Scotland. I am prepared to accept your assurance that the policy is being implemented in a phased way to allow for proper evaluation of the best way to bring it in. This is a different route to that proposed by my party in May. We felt that much more investment would be needed earlier. I am prepared to accept that your route does not need that particular slice of our additional funding for the year 2017-18.

The Scottish Government has failed to meet the challenge of mental ill health. The government’s strategy expired more than a year ago. The proposals in the Draft Budget do not get anywhere near meeting the need.  This is a big issue for the economy and employers, who lose millions of days from staff absences. It is serious and heart-breaking for individuals and families. In May we proposed to increase the mental health budget line for 2017-18 to allow for the expansion of provision of services.

Given the daily reports of immediate problems in the Scottish NHS, together with concerns about its long term sustainability, our proposed investment in mental health is essential. Changing the way we deal with mental health will take the pressure off GPs, A&E and the police who are left, too often, as the only point of call for mental health.

Our mental health plan would double CAMHS spend to match England.  We would also invest in dedicated mental health professionals in A&E departments, GP surgeries and in police divisions. These are substantial new services that signal a transformation in the seriousness with which mental ill health is treated.

I met SAMH last week and they too believe that doubling the CAMHS budget will allow for more Tier 1 and Tier 2 treatment for young people, and this has also been endorsed by the Parliament’s health committee.

In short, we cannot support a Budget that does not deliver substantial additional resources for mental health, above the resources identified in the Draft Budget. It will need investment of at least £1.2bn in mental health next year together with a mental health strategy that develops the new services I have mentioned.

For the wider economy we do need to insist that the Scottish Government honours its commitments on ferry fares to the northern isles. We believe that fares can and should be halved in order to support the economy of the northern isles and to match the increase subsidies given to west coast routes in recent times. The reinstatement of the business use of the Air Discount Scheme is also essential.

We are also concerned at the provision of Alcohol and Drug Partnerships. Their budget was cut and then funding amalgamated into the overall health board budgets a year ago. Services are falling short in many areas. As part of the budget process we would want to gain some assurance and certainty that health boards will provide the right investment in these important services.

I should also report that we have looked at the points you made to me when we met last week on the police budget. I would wish to place on record that the Scottish Liberal Democrat manifesto retained the £55m change fund and added a further £20m to the indexed police budget. This is because we do not believe the change programme has succeeded. So your present Draft Budget is at least £20m short of what we think is important to promote a successful police service.

What I have set out above is not a long list of every item that would benefit from more spending. It is a tight and prioritised list that has the long term future of the Scottish economy at its heart.

This list is smaller than that which we proposed in our manifesto but the challenge for you remains substantial. I have indicated where we have accepted your reasoning on childcare. I believe that the proposals I have made here are ones that can be accepted by the Scottish Government and, given the economic challenges ahead, should be incorporated into a revised Scottish Budget.

I stand ready to discuss these matters with you further. I have been clear in this letter that our support for the Budget can only be considered if significant and substantial change is included for colleges, the pupil premium, mental health, the police and the island economies.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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Posted by Tim Worstall

The Modi government is pushing the “Make in India” campaign and they’re quite right to do so of course. Industrialising is the way that the people and the country will become richer. A part of this is the temptation of gaining Apple as a domestic manufacturer. However, this should not be done by offering Apple any special deal. If there are rules and laws concerning the Indian economy which make Apple less likely to assemble inside India then sure, those rules and laws could usefully be changed. But they must be changed for all, not Apple given some special dispensation from them.

Which is, by good fortune, apparently what the government is saying:

The government won’t offer any special concessions to Apple but is reviewing its entire policy on mobile phone manufacturing as part of an effort to promote the ‘Make in India’ initiative, officials said. This could meet some of the demands that Apple has made apart from benefitting other phone makers as well.

Apple is of course a most tempting prize. Not just the size of the company but the marquee strength of the brand. But it is still true that there should be no special deal:

“Apple has been looking for several duty and tax incentives for manufacturing handsets in India, but the government is unlikely to make any exception for one company,” said a top official in one of the departments mentioned above. Speaking to HT on condition of anonymity, the official said that any exception for the iPhone manufacturer will defeat the purpose of an integrated policy such as Make-in-India.

If tax incentives (for which read, not being charged certain taxes) make Apple more likely to assemble in India then that’s fine. But the same incentives will also make other people more likely to assemble in India. And thus whatever the rules are they should be the same for each potential assembler.

Top executives of the US-based company will be meeting government officials on January 22 about its plans to kick-off manufacturing in India for which it has sought a slew of incentives including a 15-year holiday on customs duty.

If a customs duty holiday would tempt Apple then it would also tempt other people. And the aim is not to just attract Apple but to tempt many people.

The useful manner in which to view Apple’s requests is as a guide to where the problems are. But to also view them as a guide to where the problems are for everyone, not just Apple. So, if Apple thinks that a customs holiday would be good for it then we can safely assume that such would be good for other manufacturers. We thus have a guide to what might attract other such manufacturers. Say, instead of a customs holiday for Apple, an abolition of the customs charges which are the problem? And then in that manner, no special deal for Apple, just a better environment for all potential manufacturers.

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Posted by Tim Worstall

That the robots are going to come and take all our jobs is something that appears to concern a lot of people. If they’re doing all the work then what are we going to do to earn our income? We’ll all end up starving in the gutters, right? To which the standard response from journalists like me has been that’s just not how it will work out at all. The robots will be doing all the grunt work and we humans can go off and do the stuff that only humans can do. So, now that a Chinese robot has written its first article am I as a journalist worried rather more?

No, not at all, because this is still a robot doing the grunt work and not the interesting stuff that humans can do.

A robot journalist made its debut in a Chinese daily on Thursday with a 300 characters-long article written in just a second, scientists say. The article, published in the Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis Daily, focused on the Spring Festival travel rush. Its author, Xiao Nan, took only a second to finish writing the piece and is able to write both short stories and longer reports, according to Wan Xiaojun, a professor at Peking University who leads the team studying and developing such robots.

This sort of piece is indeed the grunt work of journalism. And there’s rather a lot that a robot can’t do:

“But it does not mean intelligent robots will soon be able to completely replace reporters,” China Daily quoted Xiaojun as saying.

At present, robots are unable to conduct face-to-face interviews, cannot respond intuitively with follow-up questions and do not have the ability to select the news angle from an interview or conversation, Xiaojun said.

“But robots will be able to act as a supplement, helping newspapers and related media, as well as editors and reporters,” he said.

The really important part being that someone, somewhere, has to decide what a report is going to be written about. And that does still require human attention.

It should also be noted that this isn’t, by a long shot, the first algorithm written article. It’s perhaps the first piece of a certain sort, but not the first, not at all. If you look at the pages here at Forbes concerning corporate results those are largely algorithm written and have been for some time now. Leaving journalists to do the interesting stuff like interview someone, consider the implications of a piece of news and so on, the things that you do need a human to do.

And of course the end limit of this process will be that robots get good enough to do everything that humans do. At which point we really will have no jobs left, right? Ah, true, but at the same time we’ll also have everything we want without anyone needing a job. And it’s very difficult indeed to think that living a life of luxury, with every desire catered to, without having to work at all is going to be a bad thing.

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Posted by Claire Tyler

Too often, success in accessing our top professions is down to the lucky accident of birth. Too often, structural inequalities mean that young children find themselves imprisoned on an inescapable path. By the age of five, there is a clear academic attainment gap between children from rich and poor families. This increases throughout school. The benefits of being born to wealthy parents do not just accrue to the talented – in fact, less-able, better-off kids are 35% more likely to become high earners than bright poor youngsters. The resultant domination of our top professions like medicine, law, finance and the arts by the elite and independently educated is staggering.

The case for social mobility is not just a moral one. It also makes business sense. The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in 2010 found that failing to improve low levels of social mobility will cost the UK economy up to £140 billion a year by 2050. Some top businesses understand this, and are working hard to widen access.

More must be done to widen access to elite professions; on the part of schools, universities, businesses and the government. This is the conclusion of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Social Mobility, of which I am co-Chair, and which released its report this week. Titled ‘The Class Ceiling’, the report is the culmination of a detailed inquiry, with the help of the Sutton Trust, over the last year. The inquiry looked at the causes and extent of the problem, investigated what is currently being done, and recommended tangible policy actions.

The report has six broad areas of recommendations, and can be found in full here.

Three recommendations I will focus on here speak to three gaps visible between young people from rich and poor families: in academic attainment, in life skills, and in aspiration. Children eligible for free school meals achieve grades 20-30% lower at GCSE. The odds are stacked against youngsters in underperforming schools from disadvantaged neighbourhoods achieving well at school. Universities and firms should take this into account when reviewing applicants, by using contextualised recruitment. This isn’t about penalising young people from wealthy backgrounds. It’s about taking all the relevant factors into account when evaluating a job application. If an applicant from the worst school in the country achieves the same grades as one from the best school in the country, they have proved a greater level of self-motivation and resilience – character traits valued by employers. Looking at academic attainment in context allows firms to hire applicants with the greatest potential.

Second, the gap in outcomes between children from rich and poor families can’t entirely be explained by the gap in academic attainment. Having graduated from university, students from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to go into professional jobs and, if they do, they are likely to be paid less. Character traits such as confidence, leadership and adaptability are highly sought after, and are not innate. Encouraging and facilitating work experience, volunteering and extra-curricular activities will help to develop the soft skills in which disadvantaged young people often lag behind their more affluent peers.

Third, as the inquiry repeatedly heard, firms can only recruit those who apply. Too often talented applicants are not aware that they could enter the top professions. Half of state schools in England have not had a single pupil that has even applied for medical school. Schools, universities and employers all have a role to play in challenging assumptions and raising aspirations. This can come through good careers advice and mentoring schemes, which can be transformative for young people.

The report draws many more conclusions about the challenges involved in widening access to professions, and recommendations to overcome them. I urge you to read it in full. When we allow the lottery of birth to determine young people’s life chances we fail them. When we allow disadvantaged kids’ potential to go untapped we fail ourselves.

* Claire Tyler, Baroness Tyler of Enfield, has been in the House of Lords since 2011, taking an active role in the areas of health and social care, welfare reform, social mobility, well-being, children and family policy, machinery of government and the voluntary sector. She is the Liberal Democrat member of the Lords Select Committee on Social Mobility, and co-chair of the APPG on Social Mobility

[syndicated profile] political_betting_feed

Posted by TSE


There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, 218–224

Whatever else you think of Brexit, we are being led by powerful currents taking us far from familiar shores. Whether we find safe harbour or end up washed up on the rocks is yet to be seen.

Theresa May has grasped this. After months of silence and having insisted that she would not give a running commentary, she has delivered a speech which offers as much clarity as anyone could have wished for about Britain’s negotiating strategy. Her government is to prioritise controlling immigration and as a result she is not going to attempt to keep Britain in the single market. In her words, the future relationship between Britain and the EU will be “Not partial membership of the European Union, associate membership of the European Union, or anything that leaves us half-in, half-out.”

Presented as a strategy, this is in reality an admission of defeat. Some Leaver ministers have spent the last six months skipping like Julie Andrews enumerating some of their favourite things about the EU that they intended Britain to continue to benefit from. The Prime Minister is obviously more securely tethered to reality and has recognised that the EU’s many statements that it would not allow Britain to cherry-pick are not bluffs. She has concluded that controlling immigration is a non-negotiable component of Brexit and is proceeding accordingly. Rather than spend months pursuing the impossible, she isn’t going to make the attempt. Instead, she’s going to cut her losses now.

While this is an admission of defeat, it is also politically sensible. The Prime Minister has called this “Clean Brexit” and a more precise turn of phrase would be “Cauterised Brexit”, burning off some tissue in order to seal the wound. This was for centuries standard medical practice after amputation and entirely applicable here.

The domestic reaction came in two stages. That night, the tabloids were ecstatic. And the next day, HSBC and UBS announced their plans to relocate jobs from London – an early illustration of how Cauterised Brexit may have major costs.

For the first time, the Prime Minister also offered some olive twigs to the rest of the EU. She proclaimed her belief that the vote was not a rejection of shared values or to do harm to the EU itself (she would do well to slap down publicly some of her more excitable backbenchers on this last point). She stated that other Europeans would still be welcome in this country.

Despite the clumsy attempts at veiled threats that Theresa May dropped about how Britain could act in a hostile manner if a deal wasn’t reached, the speech received a moderate reception in the chancelleries of Europe (less so in the European press). The sense of realism and the dialling down of the rhetoric has undoubtedly helped. While there is still an enormous amount of work still to be done even to realise the very restricted Brexit that Theresa May is imagining, the risk of a chaotic Brexit has receded quite a way as a result of this speech being delivered.

The whole effort, however, has been undermined by a major flaw that is potentially very damaging indeed. Quite simply, this speech was far too late. The timetable for Brexit is demanding and Theresa May had long ago committed herself to triggering Article 50 in the early part of 2017. There is nothing that she said this week that could not have been said at the Conservative party conference. It would certainly have been a far better conference speech than the one that she actually delivered. Three precious months have been lost.

And it’s not as though those three months have been valuably or even neutrally spent. In the meantime, the British government has been burning its remaining capital with other European nations, insulting them, belittling them and threatening them. The mood is icy.

Brexit was always going to be a brutally difficult course to navigate. But by her delay, Theresa May might well find that the flood tide has been missed. Shallows and miseries might well be impossible to avoid now.

Alastair Meeks

[syndicated profile] uk_polling_report_feed

Posted by Anthony Wells

The Times have a new YouGov poll this morning, carried out after Theresa May’s Brexit speech. Overall, it looks as if the PM has passed her first Brexit test – a majority of the public support the sort of Brexit she is seeking to achieve. Whether they support the sort of Brexit she actually manages to get other EU countries to agree to once negotiations are complete is, of course, a different matter.

YouGov asked respondents if they agreed with some of the key negotiation points May set out: many of these were uncontroversial (an overwhelming majority of people wanted UK control of immigration, an open border with Ireland, the rights of existing immigrations to be protected and continued co-operation on security). Most of these are obvious though – the two more controversial points were the confirmation that Britain would leave the single market and the customs union. A majority of people supported both, but it was split very much among pro-EU and anti-EU lines: a huge majority of Leave voters thought it was the right thing to do, but Remain voters tended to think it was wrong to leave the single market and were split over the customs union.

Looking at a list of specific measures is not necessarily a good way of measuring support for May’s stance anyway. Most of us won’t tot up the individual details, people tend to judge the overall package. Asked about May’s Brexit plan as a whole, there was a clear thumbs up. 55% think it would be good for Britain; only 19% think it would be bad. 62% think it would respect the referendum result and by 53% to 26% people say that they would be happy with the outcome.

While people like what May is seeking, that doesn’t mean they think it is actually achievable. While the public do express confidence in May’s negotiating ability (by 47% to 38%), only 20% of people think that other EU countries will agree to what she wants. Only time will tell how the public react to whatever EU deal May actually manages to get.

The poll also asked voting intention. Topline figures were CON 42%, LAB 25%, LDEM 11%, UKIP 12%, putting the Tories back up to a seventeen point lead. As ever it is only one poll, so don’t read too much into that huge lead: it may be that May setting out a clearer route forward for Brexit (and the good press she got yesterday) has given the Tories a boost… or it may just be normal random variation. Full tabs are here

Interesting Links for 19-01-2017

Jan. 19th, 2017 12:00 pm
[syndicated profile] bloggerheads_feed

Posted by Tim Ireland

If you’ve ever watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, you may have wondered how Ferris financed his adventure (including fuel, tips, tickets to the baseball game and a very expensive lunch at a posh restaurant). Well, the original script and cut of the movie included scenes of Ferris searching the couch for change and stealing money from his sister’s room before calling his father and conning him into revealing the location of saving bonds… that he then takes without permission and converts to cash at a local bank.

(Search for ‘bond’ on this page and you’ll see what I mean; Ferris even brags to camera about how easy it was to fool his father by saying: “the guy gave it up faster than a drunk Catholic girl”!)

All of this was cut out of the movie because it made Ferris much less likeable. Similarly, a certain Mr Harris has chosen to omit and even erase a few juicy details from his own adventure, and I am here today to share those details with you.

There’s been a lot of misuse of the term ‘fake news’ of late, but it is utterly clear that Cameron Harris has been caught bang to rights producing entirely false and inflammatory stories (see earlier on Bloggerheads) that he specifically invented to appeal to a target audience in pursuit of profit and the advancement of a political agenda. You are encouraged to read the interview with Cameron Harris by Scott Shane of the New York Times, but for the purposes of this article, you really only need to see this later tweet by that same journalist:

Cameron Harris has since published the following statement on Twitter:

While the initial motivation behind launching a fake news site was financially-based, the lesson I learned from the experience is far more important — and it’s one that can’t be covered in a tweet or even a NYT article.

There are large-scale changes occurring in America, from where we live and where we work to the people with whom we interact and the lens through which we see the world. America has responded to these changes poorly. Instead of engaging one another we have withdrawn into the ideological and cultural circles that support the belief systems to which we subscribe.

Fake news flourished in this election cycle because it served the purpose of reinforcing these biases, and it occurred on both sides. It catered to predispositions that Americans already held, and while fake news has been widely discussed, the dynamics behind it have been largely ignored. Whether fake news remains prevalent or not (and I hope that it doesn’t), our nation cannot move forward from such a divisive election cycle if we continue to seek comfort in our own beliefs and refuse to challenge our personal world views.

I apologize to those I disappointed by my actions, and my wish is that I will be allowed to contribute my informed experience to a larger dialogue about how Americans approach the media, tough issues, and the manner in which we, collectively, will inform our decisions going forward.

Cameron Harris

In short: it’s all your fault, America, and you need to take a long, hard look at yourselves.

The psychological projection may seem mind-boggling to you, but it’s to be expected from Mr Harris, who repeatedly and falsely accused others of producing fake news before, during and after the election, knowing that he was a producer of genuinely fake news. Further, the assertion that it happened on both sides is as misleading as it is self-serving: there may have been inaccuracies on both sides, distortions on both sides, and even a few latecomers trying to fight fire with fire, but the fake news phenomenon was closely tied to the Trump campaign and Trump’s own loose relationship with the truth, and every reasonable and informed person acknowledges that.

As for unhealthy divisions and what dialogue may lead to positive change, I would dare to suggest that some actual regret on Mr Harris’ part will go some way to taking us forward.

On that note…

This Twitter exchange between myself and Cameron Harris includes an example of his inventing people who don’t exist and writing dialogue on their behalf. This particular example includes his pretending to be a Black Panther intending to target “white women” on polling day:

Mr Harris also actively contributed to false allegations of child rape (which regular readers will know is one of my least favourite things):

Screen capture from 'Christian Times', 2 days before the election

Cam Harris has since been fired from his job working for Republican politician David E. Vogt III, but despite some clumsy attempts to cover his tracks, it can be demonstrated that Mr Harris listed Mr Vogt not as an employer but a client on a website touting professional campaign services under the name ‘Chesapeake Strategy Partners’ (

Chesapeake Strategy Partners screen capture

Mr Harris also listed many other people/organisations as present and previous clients, and I am right now in the process of determining the truth of his assertions in this respect. As regulars will know, I often put trackers on my outgoing emails when I suspect I am about to be lied to or stonewalled, and I can tell you for a fact that there are many Republicans in Maryland who are fully aware of Cameron Harris, his admission of making fake news for profit, and his claim that they are clients of his organisation ‘Chesapeake Strategy Partners’… but they are very busy hiding under their beds at the moment.

At the time of writing, only Mr Vogt has taken any action and/or issued any statement. So when you read the following list, do so knowing that near to everybody* on the ‘current’ set of alleged clients (other than Mr Vogt) has been asked about this and decided to keep their mouths shut for now. I can say with certainty that these people/organisations and/or associated staff have received and read questions about their alleged involvement with Mr Harris, and even engaged in internal conversations about it… but so far, no-one is talking.

You should expect more from your representatives and/or those who campaign on their behalf, which is why I have added hyperlinks to every name to include contact details for every individual/organisation on the ‘current’ list where I can demonstrate that they have been informed of claims by Mr Harris that they are a client of his, but decided not to respond. If you live in Maryland, or even the good ol’ US of A generally, you might want to have a word with some or all of these people about their alleged involvement with Mr Harris and their silence to date.

(*If anything changes, this article will be updated to reflect any belated cooperation/transparency. If there is a hyperlink on their name… they still have questions to answer, and you’re invited to ask them yourself. If the link has been removed, as it has been for Mr Vogt, then they have issued a statement. There is at present one exception, a Haven Shoemaker who has not yet received the relevant email as far as I know.)

Chesapeake Strategy Partners

Our clients

Maryland State Delegate Jason Buckel
Maryland State Delegate Brett Wilson
Maryland State Delegate Deb Rey
Maryland State Delegate Haven Shoemaker
(may or may not have received my email, so gets a break for now)
Maryland State Delegate David Vogt
(has issued a statement)
Maryland State Delegate Robin Grammer
Maryland State Delegate Kevin Hornberger
Change Annapolis PAC
Dave Gyles for US Congress, AZ-9

We have also worked with…

Kathy Szeliga for US Senate
Congresswoman Katherine Harris
Republican Party of Florida
Florida House Speaker Pro-Tempore Leslie Waters
Vogt for Congress, MD CD-6
Wasserman for Congress, NY CD-18
Allegretti for Congress, NY CD-13
Gallagher for US Senate, FL
Katherine Harris for US Senate, FL
Assemblyman John DiMaio, NJ-23
Assemblyman Erik Peterson, NJ-23

To close, mainly to avoid anyone rushing to assumptions, I will add that I have asked Mr Harris directly if Katherine Harris is a relation, and I am awaiting a reply.

Updates to follow.


[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Geoff Payne

Happy new Year!  The most recent meeting of the Federal Policy Committee took place on 18th January 2016 in Portcullis House, Westminster.  This was a very well attended meeting indeed, it being the first of a new cycle of Federal Policy Committee meetings.  This committee has a three-year term.

We welcomed a large number of new members the committee.  There had been a substantial change in committee membership following the elections.  They included Elizabeth Jewkes, Alisdair McGregor, Chris White, Paul Tilsley, Qurban Hussain, Christine Chueng, Jim Williams, Sally Burnell, Catherine Royce, David Weston, Susan Juned, Jonny Oates, Tony Greaves, Kamran Hussain and Heather Kidd.  Andrew Wiseman attended to represent the Federal Conference Committee and Richard Cole represent the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors.

Composition of Federal Policy Committee and Committee Elections

Tim Farron MP remains as the chair of the committee.

There were elections for the post of Vice-Chair.  There were three vacancies; one of them was reserved for a Parliamentarian (the old M.P. Vice-Chair).  The contenders were Duncan Brack, Jeremy Hargreaves and Sarah Ludford and they were all elected without opposition.

Lizzy Jewkes and Alisdair McGregor were appointed to the Policy Equalities Impact Assessment Group.  That group conducts an audit of each policy paper to ensure that the authors have thought through and considered the equalities aspect of their work.

Paul Tilsley, Susan Juned and Alisdair McGregor put themselves forward for the two places on the Federal Conference Committee (FCC).  There was therefore an election.  The winners were Susan Juned and Paul Tilsley and they will attend FCC to represent the committee.

Peter Price and Alisdair McGregor stood for the new Federal International Relations Committee.  were duly elected.

Sarah Ludford was elected to the ALDE Congress Delegation.  Belinda Brooks-Gordon was elected to the Liberal International Conference Delegation.

Two co-optees were appointed to the committee.  They were the representatives from Young Liberals and Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats.  The identity of those representatives will by decided by the Federal Policy Committee.  There is a position reserved also for the Chair of any Manifesto Writing Group.  None of them have voting rights.  The Chair of the International Relations Committee was appointed as an observer.

The committee is presently going through the process of appointing Regional Representatives and people to liaise with the Specified Associated Organisations.

Committee members also completed a Declaration of Interests form.

Standing Orders

For the first time in twenty-nine years, the committee had to adopt its own Standing Orders.  That was done at this meeting.  The draft that was adopted concerned the constitutional role of the committee, the calling and administration of meetings, the quorum, the number and nature of the officers of the committee and their term lengths.  There are also sections on conflicts of interests, disclosure and transparency.

One of the requirements of those new Standing Orders is for the committee to produce a written report after each meeting.  I am delighted to say that these reports are being used as the template for those official FPC reports!

Nuclear Weapons Policy Paper

The first policy-related item of business for this new committee was the small matter of the Nuclear Weapons Policy Paper.   Neil Stockley, the chair of the group, attended to talk about that item.  He talked about the proposals in the paper, the escalating costs of Trident and the background to the formation of the group.  He strongly advocated the position that his group had taken in its paper.

This issue featured on the agenda of the last meetingof the commottee

As I have set out before, the remit of the group noted that the world had changed profoundly since the United Kingdom became one of the five declared nuclear powers in the 1950s.  Britain’s nuclear posture has, however, not kept up.  Following the Cold War position of mutually assured destruction, the post-Cold War era led to improved security but Britain nonetheless retained its nuclear deterrent.  Many questioned the need but successive governments rejected the idea of giving up nuclear weapons.  In this changed landscape, the group was charged with looking again at the case for Britain being a nuclear power.

As I said in my last report, I cannot re-produce the conclusions of the group here as they will be debated at conference in due course and there is an embargo upon them until they are announced.  The preliminary report does, however, make it clear that we want to see a world free of nuclear weapons.  The question is how we get there.

The full debate will take place at Spring Conference in 2017.  There is likely to be a range of views coalescing around a few discrete positions.  Ultimately it will come down to a vote on the floor of conference.

There was a lengthy discussion at the Federal Policy Committee.  Many people welcomed the paper but there were a number of dissenting voices.  There were contributions about the deterrent effect of nuclear weapons, our previous positions on the issue, the role of Russia, Donald Trump’s likely actions as President, the costings for Trident, the present threat to N.A.T.O., the impact of nuclear weapons within Europe, a ‘no first use policy’ for nuclear weapons and the positions that other parties are taking or are likely to take.  There was also a discussion over whether the paper is likely to become out of date in due course or whether it will endure.

The paper was agreed for submission to conference, as was its accompanying motion with some editing suggested.

Faith Schools Conference Motion

As regular readers of these reports will know, there is presently an Education Working Group in train.  It is going to consult at the Spring Conference 2017 in York and its final paper will be submitted to the Autumn Conference in Bournemouth.  Its remit is wide but one thing that it does not consider is that of faith schools.  That is a highly contentious issue in the party and one that has been debated at conference before.  For that reason, a deliberate decision was taken to address the issue of faith schools individually at conference and not part of a wider working group; if it was not dealt with in that manner, it would only be the subject of an amendment in any event.

Jeremy Hargreaves had been asked before Christmas to put together a motion on the topic that could be considered at Spring Conference.  A motion was duly drafted and placed before the committee.  It contained four options and the committee was asked to choose between them.  For this discussion, we were joined by a representative from the Liberal Democrat Humanist Association (Toby Keynes) and from a Catholic Education Trust (Peter Taylor).

Again, the discussion was very wide-ranging.  It focused around whether options should be offered to conference and, if so, what they should be.  There were also a number of contributions made about the validity of the various positions.

As with nuclear weapons, I am not going to set out the text of what was selected.  Whether this motion appears on the agenda for conference is ultimately a matter for the Federal Conference Committee and not for the policy committee.  Suffice it to say that, if the motion is selected, there will be a full debate at conference, doubtless with amendments from a number of sources!

Immigration and Identity Working Group Remit and Chair

The outgoing committee had agreed to set up a working group on immigration.  This is clearly one of the most important political issues that the country faces and it is time that party policy on this question is updated, especially in the light of the outcome of the referendum.

The Federal Policy Committee agreed the remit of the group.  That remit starts with a very clear statement that we believe that immigration has made Britain stronger, more welcoming and more prosperous.    It goes on to require the group to consider the outcome of the referendum, freedom of movement throughout the European Union, the status of E.U. migrants here and U.K. migrants living elsewhere.  It must also address immigration from outside the E.U., public attitudes to migration and the effect of that migration on our community relations and culture, abuse of the immigration system and how best to protect asylum seekers and refugees given the significant problems that many countries face throughout Europe.

There were many people on the committee who wanted to make sure the remit was positive about migration and that we made a strong case in favour of it.

The group will report to the Spring Conference in 2018 and consult at Autumn Conference in 2017.

Adam Pritchard has been appointed as chair of the group.

People and Power Working Group Remit and Chair

The remit for this group, and the selection of its chair, appeared on the agenda for this meeting but was deferred.  It is to return to a future meeting.  That is because no chair has been selected yet and we ran out of time!

Committee Business

The committee noted its work programme going forward.  The policy working groups that we have coming up are as follows:

Spring Conference 2017: Nuclear Weapons Sex Work

Autumn Conference 2017: Britain in the World 21st Century Economy

Rural Communities Education

Spring Conference 2018: Power to the People Immigration and Identity

Yet to be allocated: Health & Social Care Crime, Policing & Justice Taxation

We were going to consider this further but we ran out of time!


This was a very lengthy meeting, reflected in the length of this report.  We did not conclude the meeting until after 21:30.  The next time the Federal Policy Committee meets is on 15th February 2017.

* Geoff Payne represents the English Party on the Federal Policy Committee. He is also one of the Vice-Chairs of Federal Conference Committee. He chaired the Criminal Justice Working Group.

The terrors of fuel poverty

Jan. 19th, 2017 08:48 am
[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

There are now more than 2.3 million families living in fuel poverty in England – that’s the equivalent of 10% of all households. “Fuel poverty” is in many ways a political euphemism for desperation; for worrying that your children are cold in their beds, or having to skip meals to stay warm. One in six people are cutting back on food to pay their energy bills, according to the charity Turn2Us. One in six disabled people have to wear coats inside to keep warm.

One obvious point is that perhaps we shouldn’t be making energy more expensive through greenery.

The other might be, well, when wasn’t it true that poor people were cold in winter? Actually, when weren’t rich people cold in winter? Extensive central heating really only became common in the 1980s, didn’t it? So everyone before that lived in fuel poverty, no?

This is rather good

Jan. 19th, 2017 08:33 am
[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

Yes, it’s in The Guardian and it’s on economics. But it’s also rather good.

The one addition I would have made is to point out that Hayes was unimportant but bad. Sure, he fiddled Libor. But so were many others and the cumulative effect largely cancelled out.

The other fiddling, all the banks grossly under reporting in the crisis, was very important and good. Still fiddling of course, but who really would have wanted to see 14 day Libor being quoted as infinite?

Err, yes Jean, this is how it works

Jan. 19th, 2017 08:29 am
[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

Thus far, we get it: the UK will be treated like any other third country – Zimbabwe, for instance. That’s clear and “clean”. But after that it gets complicated, at least for a continental mind that lacks the subtleties of reflection of a product of Oxbridge. Because May considers it possible for British companies to retain the greatest possible access to the single market, in particular to negotiate sectoral customs agreements with the union. And that’s where things get interesting. Because customs duty or no, importing goods into a market presupposes compliance with local norms and standards: to be clear, if the British want to export their cars (which are in fact German or Japanese cars) to the continent, they need to respect European laws. That means submitting (I know, what an awful word) to those laws. So in reality, the clear, “clean break” could only concern one part of UK industry – the part that manufactures for the local market.

And British cars that go to the US meet US standards, and British cars that go to South Africa meet Jaapie standards and so on and on. That’s just how local standards work you see?

Why Oxbridge is necessary to understand this remains unexplained.

Hang all councillors

Jan. 19th, 2017 07:56 am
[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

Look , local government really is about making sure that the bins are collected:

In Conwy, recycling, food waste and nappy bins are collected every week, but the general waste bins are only taken once every four weeks.

This is, of course, because of EU targets about recycling. Targets which we can dump rather shortly.

But seriously folks, this is government failure on a grand scale.

Tee hee

Jan. 19th, 2017 07:51 am
[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

Mr Johnson’s comments came during a visit to India, when he was asked about a reported comment from one of Mr Hollande’s aides, who said Britain should not expect a better trading relationship with Europe from outside the EU.

The Foreign Secretary responded: “If Monsieur Hollande wants to administer punishment beatings to anyone who chooses to escape, rather in the manner of some World War Two movie, then I don’t think that’s the way forward.

“It’s not in the interests of our friends or our partners.”

The joy of such comments is that they annoy all the right people. Spudmonster, for example, has apologised to the French on behalf of us all.


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Mat Bowles

October 2015


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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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