Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Berlin

A terrorist attack on a Christmas market in Berlin has left a dozen people dead, and many more seriously injured. A 'Pakistani migrant' who arrived in Germany 10 months ago murdered a lorry driver and then deliberately drove the vehicle into a crowd. ISIS have claimed responsibility for the attack and the radicalisation of the young man in question.

The typical response to this has been, 'but he's a refugee! Why would you attack the very people who have offered you refuge? I just don't understand!'

Allow me to explain.

He wasn't a refugee. He was not fleeing persecution or war. He did not need refuge. He was a criminal - a terrorist, a murderer, a psychopath, waiting for his chance to strike. He coldly manipulated Western sentimentality about 'helping the poor refugees' to bypass border controls and get into Germany. He emotionally blackmailed us into letting him in. He then committed an atrocity that has resulted in the deaths of nearly a dozen people.

These people DO NOT CARE about your compassion, or your sentimentality, or your virtue-signalling. They don't want your help, or your tolerance, or your diversity. They want to KILL YOU. And the only way we can sensibly filter these bastards out is by scrupulously checking EVERY SINGLE PERSON who tries to claim asylum in Europe.

That means that many of them will be turned away. Some of them may die. It's a hard choice to make. But people are dying now. People get shot in theatres, ran over in markets, and blown up on buses and trains. Your Facebook filters and hashtags and candles and vigils aren't going to stop it. Islamism is hell-bent on our utter destruction. They are at war with us, and if we're going to win, then we need to start FIGHTING BACK.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

The State of the Left

Fidel Castro, the brutal, repressive, psychopathic, murderous Communist dictator of Cuba, is dead. His death has, like the deaths of other public figures, thrown the Left into sharp and sudden light, in the typical response arising from them, which can be pretty much summed up as, 'those human rights abuses were a bit nasty, but Cuba's got a great healthcare system!'

I would invite anyone thinking along those lines to stop and think very carefully about what you're doing. By making such blithe statements, you are effectively saying that the oppression, torture and murder of nearly 100,000 people is justified because the end result is a State-owned healthcare system. Which, according to the World Health Organisation, isn't even all that great.

This attitude typifies the present state of Left-wing politics, and neatly explains why they are on the run. A Tory majority in the UK. Brexit. Right-wing, even far-right parties on the rise across Europe. Donald Trump. A cultural fightback against Social Justice Warriors and Generation Snowflake. All of this points to an ideological movement which is totally disconnected from the inbuilt sense of morality that most people feel.

The Left in Britain, at the moment, can be grouped into several tribes:
  • Cultural Totalitarians - these are the radical feminists, the Social Justice Warriors and the Perpetually Offended Brigade. They claim to be culturally liberal, but they are actually precisely the opposite. Their hierarchy is organised by a structure of grievance based on how much discrimination they each receive from the Patriarchy (tm), an imagined international conspiracy of white men who seek to control them. They organise themselves based on skin colour, gender (of which they have invented approximately 23), sexual orientation (behold the multitudes which overlap with gender) and disability. They are very diverse in appearance, but are fundamentally intolerant of diversity in the only way that it actually matters - diversity of thought. Their entire ideology stems from the assumptions that all men, particularly white men, are evil, and that society is controlled by men for the benefit of men, and they absolutely despise having those assumptions challenged. They are enthusiastic about immigration because they see it as a method of diluting the authority of the White Man (tm);
  • Hard Left - these are the likes of John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn. They're usually quite privileged in terms of background, well-educated and reasonably wealthy, and see themselves as champions of 'the poor'. Their entire worldview is focused by the lens through which they view it - and that lens is a pure, unqualified hatred of capitalism, Western foreign policy and in particular, the United States. They are, in effect, socialists and communists - they detest the idea of markets, and prefer State command economies. They despise Western foreign interventions, claiming it to be imperialism or quasi-fascism, but won't shirk from lending their support to actual fascists, as long as they are anti-West. They'll support Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Vladimir Putin's Russia, the IRA, Cuba, Venezuela and North Korea, as long as they are anti-America and anti-West;
  • Nationalist Left - these are working class voters, living mainly in the North of England, who have historically voted Labour but are now increasingly moving across to UKIP. They are culturally conservative, being either disapproving or ambivalent about things like immigration, gay marriage and international institutions. They believe in a redistributive State, and think that punitive taxation is appropriate for high earners. They think that the State should have a role in organising industry, and lament de-industrialisation and globalisation, which have robbed them of their livelihoods. They tend to be passionate about nationalism, be it either British (they may obsess about wearing poppies, 'supporting our troops' etc.) or potentially Scottish. The only thing that has historically caused them to vote Labour is an ingrained hatred of the Tories, a toxic legacy left over from the closure of coal mines and other economically non-viable industries. In Scotland, one of the greatest insults that can be deployed by them is 'Red Tory';
  • Bleeding-Heart Liberals - a better name might be 'soft left', these are a cross between the Hard Left and the Pragmatic Left. They usually arise from the same social class, i.e. reasonably well-off, maybe privately educated, tend to work in the public sector and think with their hearts, rather than their heads. They're not necessarily opposed to military action if it's for a good cause, and generally oppose benefits cuts, because they like the idea of a system that sets out to help the poor. Note that they're not usually concerned with the detail of whether it actually helps the poor or not, but they like the idea. They are the hand-wringers, the 'think-of-the-children'-ers, the petitioners, the people who demand that 'something must be done', which usually means they think that the Government ought to do something about it. They're more likely to be vegan, spiritualist but not religious (whatever that means), and like peace, harmony and the avoidance of most nastiness;
  • Pragmatic Left - a centrist group of moderates that generally believe in things like free trade, cultural liberalism, international institutions like the UN and the EU, and fiscal pragmatism. They're not averse to borrowing money to invest, but are also reasonably aware of the need for states to balance the books once in a while. National borders are irrelevant to them, and they find nationalist sentiment is distasteful. They tend to be quite individualist, probably went to university, and don't live anywhere near their parents. In Britain, they could easily be at home in David Cameron's Conservatives, or Tony Blair's Labour. They're probably atheist, and don't like football. They are unconcerned about immigration.
Up until Tony Blair's resignation in 2007, the British Left were pretty much governed by the Pragmatists, but they only held high office because they could put together a big enough coalition of voters, i.e. most of the above, plus a few Centre-Rights who held their noses. The problem the Left has is that, over the last 10 years, they have allowed their centre of gravity to drift further up this spectrum, to the extent that it is now an alliance of Cultural Totalitarians and Hard Left fruitcakes who are in charge. This mix proves utterly toxic to the general public.

To be fair, some of the Pragmatists and Liberals are confronting this, but with very little success. The attempted coup against Corbyn was a disaster - he was re-elected with a greater share of the Labour membership's vote than before. The Nationalist Left have drifted across to UKIP or the SNP. The remaining Leftists have tolerated (and continue to tolerate) the vacuous blatherings of these extreme nutcases. And therein lies the problem.

Throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s, the Right were the authoritarians. They were the ones who were telling people what music they couldn't listen to, what films they shouldn't watch, what opinions they ought to hold, what books they shouldn't read. The response was a counter-cultural revolution, with its roots in Left-wing activism and a rejection of Establishment authority. The Left won the culture war. Except they didn't. Libertarianism, in the cultural sense, won it. The Left were simply hanging onto its coat-tails.

Now, the Left is the Establishment. It is the Left telling people what they shouldn't say, or read, or watch, or listen to, for fear of it being 'offensive', or 'problematic', or any other such bollocks. They are the ones demanding books be banned from university campuses. They are the ones silencing dissent online. And Libertarianism is on the march, again. Only this time, it is the Right which is having it's own counter-cultural insurgency.

The problem with Leftism at the moment is that it has a tendency to shout people down and try to dictate what opinions they ought to have, branding people racists, sexists, homophobes, misogynists and every other -ist or -phobe they can think of. They'll insult people to close them down, rather than confronting their ideas, because they are afraid that in a fair debate, they'll lose. Deep down, they know that their ideology is on it's arse. But their magic insults have lost their power. The Right are pushing back. The response to the shrieking, 'I'm offended!' is now biscuits and laughter.

The other problem that they face is moral blindness. They allow their ideology in terms of how resources should be distributed or how society should be organised, to blind them to obvious and universal evils. They support Fidel Castro, because he adopted their preferred school of economic thought. Never mind the fact that he murdered thousands. They suggest that Mao 'did more good than bad', even though he was responsible for the deaths of millions. They support the IRA, because they wanted to bring down the British State, even though their modus operandi is the terrorising of innocent civilians. They support Hamas and Hezbollah, because they oppose the Israeli occupation of Palestine, even though they use human shields and try to blow up Jewish schools.

Put simply, the Left are currently on the side of people who condone murder, terrorism, censorship, stifling debate and elevating certain groups through special privileges. And that's why they're losing. And they will never gain power again, until they accept that they have lost those arguments.

Friday, 25 November 2016

There Isn't a Case for a 2nd Brexit Referendum

Both Tony Blair and Sir John Major have said that there is a case for a second referendum on whether we should leave the EU. Their reasons are:
  • We are sovereign people, and so we could change our mind;
  • We only voted on the principle, and not on the detail;
  • Government should not be organised on the tyranny of the majority;
  • There's no difference between a 'Soft Brexit' and staying in anyway.

This has been wildly leapt upon by Remoaners who are desperate to keep us in the EU at any cost as sure-fire reasons for a second vote. Here's my reasons why we shouldn't.

1. The EU and its supporters have past form on making countries hold referenda until they come to the right decision. Refusing to acknowledge the decision of the people is profoundly undemocratic. We could 'change our minds', but to be honest, it'd take a pretty seismic shift in public opinion to justify holding a second referendum. Anything else would look like naked political opportunism, which of course, it would be.

2. Many EU supporters claimed that we shouldn't be having a referendum in the first place, because it was too complicated an issue to be decided by ordinary people (translation: the plebs are too thick to vote the right way). So if a referendum on a general statement of direction (i.e. whether to stay in a quasi-federal union or not) is too complex, how on earth are us plebs going to cope with making a decision on a complex international treaty, which is the likely form that the Brexit deal will take? This position holds no logic whatsoever.

Referenda are useful democratic tools for providing direction, i.e. should Scotland stay in the UK, should the UK stay in the EU, should we change the voting system etc. What they are not very good for is working out fine details. That is better left to elected representatives. We had a referendum on the direction, and the direction was given. It is now up to Government and Parliament to work out the details. That's what we pay them for.

3. True, Government should not be based on the tyranny of the majority. However, neither should it be based on the tyranny of the minority, which is decidedly worse. However, the Government's approach is not majoritarian tyranny - it is actually attempting to build in the views of those who voted to Remain, by setting out its intention to either remain a member of, or retain access to, the single market. Concessions are being offered in the light of the fact that, although the Leave campaign won, it was a narrow victory. Similar efforts were made after the Scottish independence referendum. The No campaign won, but a sizeable portion of the Scottish electorate voted Yes. The consolation was a significant extension of devolutionary powers to the Scottish Parliament.

We aren't running the Government on majoritarian tyranny - if anything, the Government is trying to accommodate the views everyone. If anyone is being intransigent, it is the hard core Remoaners.

4. Whether there is a difference between 'Soft Brexit' and staying in the EU, is very much open for debate. It depends entirely on the detail, and there is not a simple binary option between 'hard' and 'soft' as many seem to play it. It depends on the outcomes of the negotiations, which are in the hands of our elected representatives.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

SNP Going for Independence... Again

Nicola Sturgeon has once more demonstrated that her petty, nationalistic separatist party is nothing more than that, by declaring her intention to consult on a second referendum on Scottish independence. The implied threat is that, if the UK leaves the single market, the SNP will press ahead with Referendum 2: The Revenge. The media are duly spinning this as a choice between 'Hard Brexit' and 'preserving the Union'.

This is a false premise, for several reasons:
  • Neither the Scottish Government, nor the Scottish Parliament, has sufficient power to authorise a referendum. Only the Westminster Parliament can grant one. If the SNP do try to hold one, it will be unlawful and can be ignored;
  • The Westminster Parliament has no political or moral reason to authorise such a referendum. The SNP do not hold a majority in the Scottish Parliament, the referendum was not in their manifesto, and the recency of the last plebiscite are all good reasons to deny one;
  • Most opinion polls in Scotland indicate that the Scots don't want another referendum, which is unsurprising, given that the last one on this subject was held only 2 years ago, and was the most divisive event in Scottish political history;
  • Most opinion polls in Scotland indicate that the majority of Scots would vote to remain in the UK, which is unsurprising, given that an independent Scotland post-Brexit still wouldn't be in the EU, would have a higher public deficit & cut off from its largest trading partner (England);
  • It's highly likely that the Brexit negotiations will result in, if not continued membership of the single market, preferential access to it. EU ministers are making noises about it, but at the end of the day, there will be concessions on both sides and a deal will be done.

In other words, the premise for the referendum is on shaky ground, it's outside the SNP's authority to call a referendum, there's no advantage to Westminster in permitting one, and even if they did, the SNP would probably lose.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Xenophobia? Don't Be Daft

Jeremy Corbyn has criticised Theresa May in Prime Ministers Questions today, accusing her government of 'xenophobia' for wanting to compile details of foreign workers, and asserted that the British people are 'disgusted' by it.

So disgusted that the Conservatives have a 17-point lead in the polls, and Labour are on course to lose over 50 seats at the next election. Personally, I'm hoping it'll be over a hundred.

Of course, there is a grain of truth in what Corbyn says. The British people probably are disgusted by xenophobia. We have long history and tradition of welcoming refugees from war zones throughout the world, not the least of which being a significant wave of Jewish immigration in the aftermath of the Second World War. So why do the Tories command such a massive lead?

Because the Government's policy is not xenophobic.

It is not xenophobic to monitor the conditions of the labour market to establish what skills we need. It is not xenophobic to limit immigration from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands, to prevent increasing strain on the health service, schools, housing and other services. It is not xenophobic to ensure that, if you are using the health service for free, you are entitled to do so. This is not xenophobia. It is putting the interests of the British people first. Which is, you know, kind of what the Government was elected to do.

Brexit and All That

The BBC, putting a wholly negative spin on it, are reporting this morning that the UK may still have to pay into the EU budget after Brexit in order to secure access to the single market, to the tune of £5billion.

'Oh, that's terrible!' say imbeciles with the intellectual capacity of squashed apricots. 'Vote Leave said we could have our cake and eat it! Waaaah! Told you so!'

So let me get this straight. A potential Brexit deal means that we:

  • Repatriate powers on trade, agriculture, fisheries, security, tax and benefits;
  • Regain control of our borders, so we can decide who we let in and when;
  • Restore the supremacy of the British Courts and end the interference of European judges;
  • Ensure that our nation is completely sovereign once again;
  • Have very low-tariff or tariff-free access to the single market; and
  • It costs up £4.6billion a year less than what we're paying now?

Am I missing something here? Surely this is good news?

Friday, 22 July 2016

Feminist Films

After the all-female reboot of Ghostbusters opened with a modest starting weekend of $46million, its crazed cheerleaders have hailed it as a wild success. It was reasonably warmly received by critics, but seems to be decidedly lukewarm with actual viewers. Not to mention the fact that it actually seems to be a pretty low start for a film with a production budget of $144million and a further marketing budget of another $100million. The general response, far from the glorious triumph that the wannabes try to portray it as, seems to be: MEH. It is neither a runaway success, nor a flat-out failure.

Still, this hasn't stopped some over-exuberant third-wave feminists from listing which franchises they would like to feminise next. And it just makes me weep with laughter at some of them:
  • Indiana Jones. Yep, that's it - they want a female archaeologist to go around the world, having adventures in deep crypts and fighting bad guys. Apparently, because this hasn't been done before *cough cough* LARA CROFT *cough cough*;
  • Lord of the Rings. Clearly it isn't sufficient to just dick about with popular culture and try to foist feminised comic books on people, feminism now has it in for arguably the greatest work of fiction in the English language, possibly of all time. This would be cultural vandalism;
  • Star Wars. Even though Padme and Leia are two of the most influential and instrumental characters in the entire saga. I mean, come on. Daisy Ridley's acting in Episode VII was good - but the limitation was her character, which showed far too many parallels with Luke;
  • James Bond. Why? Why take an iconic character, whose brutal, borderline psychopathic disdain for just about everyone is his trademark, echoing back to a savage, primal masculinity, and feminise him? You kill everything about the character by turning him into a girl;
  • The Godfather. Again, Mario Puzo's definitive crime drama is made gritty and realistic, dark and foreboding by the unrelenting savagery and cold, calculating murderousness of the Corleone clan. An all-girl cast would lack the intensity, and look like a playground scrap.

I mean, seriously. I genuinely have no problem with films marketed at women - it'd be a stupid film studio who refused to appeal to 50% of all consumers. And if a film studio feels there's a market for women-only action films, then I'm generally minded to shrug my shoulders and think, 'well, let them get on with it.' I mean, it's not like I'm actually going to part with my hard-earned cash to see such things.

But what does piss me off is cultural Marxism - taking films, literature and other media which are well-loved, cornerstone lynchpins of popular culture, and then inverting them simply to make a political point. Okay, I'm not being frog-marched into the cinema to watch the damn things, but it casts a pall over the original, and is accompanied by a constant drip-drip of sly innuendo: you've got to agree with these things or you're a misogynist/racist/homophobe/whatever. It's just so fucking ludicrous that it makes your head spin.

To those who would make some such bleating about 'fragile masculinity', i.e. I'm just a cry-baby because my toys are being taken away, I'd respond as follows:
  1. I am allowed to complain about whatever the fuck I like. That's what living in a free society means. So I won't shut up, I'll moan all I like. Deal with it;
  2. My masculinity is actually none of your business, and I don't care about your wretched opinion. Maybe masculinity is being redefined, but it's not up to you to do it - it's up to us;
  3. Making new things for women doesn't mean you have to piss all over things that men like. By all means, make more women superheroes, spies, fantasy & sci-fi stars. But leave ours alone;
  4. Are you so devoid of creativity that the only thing you can come up with is endless reboots? All you're demonstrating is how utterly bankrupt you are in the marketplace of ideas;
  5. Think about how pathetic these things are. I mean, seriously - imagine there was an all-male reboot of Bridget Jones's Diary. Or a white remake of Roots. You're laughable.
The more you try to jam this shit down men's throats, the more we'll baulk at it. The more we'll disengage from your nonsense. This is a culture war, and you're losing.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Democracy

Since the Referendum on June 23rd, when the UK voted to leave the European Union, British politics has been in a state of upheaval. David Cameron announced his intention to resign, triggering a Tory leadership contest. Boris Johnson was positioned to be the frontrunner, but when Michael Gove failed to support him and instead announced his own leadership bid, Boris stood down. Gove was, in turn, defeated at the second-round vote, and today, Angela Leadsom has pulled out, leaving Theresa May as the only remaining candidate.

Labour MPs passed a motion of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn, which has set the Labour Party on a path to civil war and possible break-up. Angela Eagle has announced her intention to run against Corbyn in a leadership contest - she commands enough support amongst Labour MPs, but possibly not within the wider Labour Party membership, which elected Corbyn with a big majority only 9 months ago.

And this has all been happening against the backdrop of people protesting against the result of the Referendum, and continuing to campaign to remain in the EU. One word seems to fill the air more than any other: democracy.

Remain campaigners say that it's not democratic for us the leave the EU, because less than 50% of the overall population voted for it. This is a fairly bizarre argument, because it seems to imply they favour giving the vote to children, criminals, the clinically insane and the peerage.

Now that Theresa May is set to be the next Prime Minister, people are arguing that she will be 'unelected'. This argument is even more ridiculous, because:

  • In the first two rounds of the Tory leadership contest, she had the overwhelming support of Tory MPs, who are ultimately the ones who will have to work with her on a day-to-day basis;
  • She will have to be confirmed by Parliament - the overriding qualification for being Prime Minister is that you have to command the confidence of the House of Commons. Obviously, as the Tories have a majority, it is highly likely that this will happen;
  • We do not directly elect the Prime Minister. We never have. Each constituency elects an individual MP, who then goes on to elect the PM. Most countries do not directly elect their head of state or government;
  • Once May is PM, there is very little to stop her from calling a General Election. OK, there's the issue of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, which technically stops her from doing it, but there is provision in the Act for an election to be called early. Or, with the aforementioned Tory majority, she could simply repeal it.

What's the solution? You want to see Theresa May leading a united Tory Party into a General Election on a ticket to leave the EU (given that Leave just won a referendum on it - May backed Remain, but she has said that she's committed to Brexit) against a Labour Party which is bitterly divided on ideological fault lines, whose voters just ignored the party line and sided with UKIP?

In the last 2 years, we've voted for a majority Tory Government, and voted to Leave the EU. Nothing in the polls suggests that public opinion has shifted much on either of those 2 points (as far as you can trust the polls, anyway). That is the will of the people - that's what they want. And that, barring something highly unusual, is what they're going to get.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Online 'Misogyny'

This has become the latest cry of the politically-correct regressive Left. Don't like what someone has to say? It must be either -ist or -phobic. Homophobic, Islamophobic, xenophobic, racist, ableist, sexist, etc. etc. 'Misogyny' is just the latest buzzword for them.

But what does it actually mean? What is misogyny? Misogyny is the hatred of women or girls, and is usually distinguished by a pattern of behaviour which is discriminative, abusive or pejorative towards them. Now, I'm not saying misogyny isn't real - quite clearly, it is. We all have experienced or witnessed some example of it in the past. It's also fair to say that it is more prevalent online - the anonymous and unaccountable nature of the Internet means that people can get away with saying things there that they would suffer social consequences for in real life.

My problem is not with highlighting people who are genuinely misogynistic and calling them out for it, because that sounds like tremendous fun. Nothing makes bullies and idiots wibble than being humiliated. My problem is the hijacking of the situation by people who we ought to be treating in the same way as misogynists, and allowing them to equate any criticism of a woman with misogyny.

Criticising a woman's opinion because she's wrong is not misogyny. It is criticising her opinion. We are allowed to criticise each other's opinion - indeed, it's what's great about free speech. So if a mad frothing feminist tells me that all men are potential rapists and should be licensed to have children, I'll happily tell her that she's fucking crazy and full of shit. What I won't do is call her a 'stupid whore' or 'nasty slut', because that would be attacking her gender, not her opinion.

The problem is that the aforementioned mad frothing feminists are starting to realise that their stupid infantile opinions don't stand up to proper scrutiny or criticism. So their solution is not to change their ideas, because that would require them to abandon their entire ideology, but to try to stifle such criticism by attacking the people it comes from. This has a delicious irony to it, because they are basically accusing people of stereotyping them, whilst in fact, they are stereotyping their own critics. Don't like what I have to say? You must be a misogynist!

The truth of the matter is that most men are not misogynists. Even most men online are not. A few are, for sure. A few women are psychopathic nutbags with serious Daddy issues and major penis envy, but I don't attribute all of womankind to this neurosis. I don't despise feminists because they're women. I despise them because they are trying to construct a world where my daughter will grow up to feel like a perpetual victim, and my son will grow up to actually be a perpetual victim.

Ultimately, this boils down to equality. I'm fine with equality. Not a problem. Women should earn the same as men (for the same work), should have the same rights and enjoy the same freedoms. The inverse is also true - men should have the same rights as women. Especially parental. But I digress. If men and women are to have equal rights and equal opportunities, then I will also hold them to equal standards. I wouldn't shirk from criticising a man with an idiotic opinion, so why should I shirk from criticising a woman spouting equally ridiculous bullshit? Unless, of course, you think that women are precious little snowflakes who just aren't enough for the cut and thrust of debate. That they get offended too easily, and therefore special concessions should be made for them, because they're delicate little wallflowers.

But I don't think like that, because it's a bit patronising, and... well... sexist. Even misogynistic.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Taxation and Fairness

Now that the furore about David Cameron's tax arrangements are dying down (primarily because they are perfectly legal and above-board), the usual gang of useless Lefties are attempting to stoke the argument. The most oft-repeated whinge is that 'it doesn't matter whether it was legal or not - it's about fairness!'

Ah, fairness. What is fairness, exactly? What do you define as fair? Oh, that person ought to pay more tax, because that's fair. Really? Fairness is a subjective term. I, for example, do not consider it to be fair that anyone, no matter how much they earn, should have nearly half of their income confiscated by the State. I don't consider it fair that someone who is prepared to save up, put their money at risk and stand any potential losses, should have to hand over nearly a third of their profits to the Government. I don't think it's fair that people who have worked hard all their lives, paid tax on all of their income and capital and determined to leave money to their kids should be taxed again when they die.

Taxation and fairness go together like oil and water. Taxes aren't fucking fair - it's the Government demanding that you pay money over to them, otherwise they'll throw you in prison. What taxes are is necessary - there are some things that realistically need providing by the State. The dispensation of justice, defence of the realm, upholding property rights, that sort of thing. And there's reasonable arguments for State involvement in education and healthcare.

But all of these are effectively facets of the one unifying aspect of Statehood which is the rule of law. It is the law which determines everything, including how much tax a person has to pay, and in what circumstances. Rule of law is really good, because it's certain. It's not always fair, but at least you know where you stand. Fairness is subjective - what I consider fair is different to what other people may consider to be. They're usually wrong if they disagree with me, obviously.

Tax isn't fair, and the reason why is because fairness is a daft, woolly concept which is no basis for policy. We don't have rule of fairness, because that's just a euphemism for making it up as we go along. We have rule of law.

So, actually, the only issue at all was whether it was legal or not. If it was legal, then it's fine. If you think it should be illegal, then that's a different debate entirely.

Friday, 8 April 2016

The Panama Papers

The leak of the so-called 'Panama Papers', have implicated a number of high-profile global politicians in tax avoidance. The firm in question is now also implicated in tax evasion, money laundering and breach of international sanctions. It all looks a bit nasty, and is the subject of several official investigations in various jurisdictions.

One of the things that seems to be implied is that 'tax havens' - jurisdictions with particularly opaque or relaxed tax regimes - have been involved. Various tax havens around the world are British Overseas Territories or Crown Dependencies - places like the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Channel Islands etc. It's also been confirmed that David Cameron owned holdings in a Panama-based Investment Trust, a type of offshore collective investment. Panama itself is a 'tax haven' - it has a very low tax regime, and so companies or investment funds based there enjoy low tax rates on their profits.

Now, it is important to remember the difference here between tax avoidance and tax evasion:

  • Tax Avoidance - arranging your financial affairs to as to minimise any tax due, either by using legally permissible reliefs and expenses to offset against the tax due, or by timing or framing transactions. Tax avoidance is perfectly legal and above board;
  • Tax Evasion - misinforming or not informing the authorities about funds and/or transactions in order to mask the true extent of a tax liability. Effectively, not paying tax which is owed. Tax evasion is illegal. By law, that tax is due and belongs to the State.
The two ludicrous suggestions from the Left so far on this story is that:
  1. Direct rule should be imposed on the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies; and
  2. David Cameron should resign.
Let's deal with them in turn.

Imposing direct rule on the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies (let's call them offshore territories) is laughable. Firstly, they have their own democratically elected assemblies, and do not elect members to the House of Commons. Having our Government muscle in on them just because a bunch of basket-weaving Lefties want it would be basically imperialist. Our Government has no accountability at all to the people that live there.

Secondly, many of the offshore territories are pretty small places, usually remote islands with low populations and tiny economies. The only thing that makes these places viable in their own right at all is the fact that their low-tax regimes attract international finance. If we imposed direct rule, you would get huge amounts of capital flight as all that lovely international money scrambled to avoid Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, and buggered off to other tax havens outside our jurisdiction. This would result in at least half of their tax revenue drying up, and the only way that they could continue to fund their public services is by a UK bailout. And we're still borrowing about £75billion a year.

Not to mention the fact that having an unaccountable government, no representation and de facto rule by decree would represent a significant change in the constitutional relationship between the offshore territories and the UK, and with no mandate from the people living there. Indeed, all the evidence (including recent referenda in Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands) suggests that the locals are happy with the status quo. Direct rule would revert them to the status of colonies, whereas they are at the moment self-governing territories in free association with the UK.

So whilst imposing direct rule is technically and constitutionally possible, it is undemocratic, imperialist, unaffordable, economically ignorant, divisive and regressive.

Next is the suggestion that David Cameron should resign.

For what, exactly? What great misdemeanour has he conducted which warrants his resignation? Let's look at the facts, shall we? He and his wife invested about £30,000 in an offshore Investment Trust run by his father and domiciled in Panama. The reason it was domiciled in Panama was because of the comparatively low tax rates on company profits, which means that its investors can receive higher returns. There is nothing illegal about moving your money out of the UK to pursue better returns. This fund was legitimately established and commercially available.

Shortly before he became Prime Minister, he and his wife sold their holdings and repatriated the cash. When they did so, they paid Income Tax on the share dividends, and the capital gains they had made were within the annual Capital Gains Tax allowance. In other words, they paid all the taxes they were required to by law. David Cameron's 'crime' seems to have been seeking better returns on his money.

It's got sod-all to do with tax, and everything to do with jealousy. Most people calling for his resignation are just pissed that they don't have £30,000 to play with in offshore funds. If they did, they'd probably do the same. He made a bit of profit for himself through intelligent and legitimate investment. Good for him. If you're arguing that the UK should have a bigger slice of revenue from international finance, I agree. What attracts international finance to tax havens is their low tax rates. So if we cut our taxes, we'll get more foreign investment, and therefore more revenue.

Excellent, let's abolish Corporation Tax and introduce a flat Income Tax rate of 20%.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Ghostbusters 3

So I decided to watch the trailer for the new Ghostbusters film. Against my better judgement. I have to admit, I was concerned when they announced a remake of the original, which was one of the favourite films of my childhood. I was even more concerned when they announced that it would be an all-female cast, without any stipulation as to why that creative decision was made.

But I thought, hey, don't just jump to conclusions. At least give the trailer a shot. So I did. And duly regretted it.

The trailer showcases a film which appears to be straight remake of the 1980s original. Ghost in library: check. Ectoplasm gags: check. Inappropriate Cadillac: check. Slimer: check. Disused fire station: check. Proton packs & grey uniforms: check. Token black character: check. The only thing missing was the Staypuft Marshmallow Man. I even caught a glimpse of Goza's gate.

The only thing that seemed substantively different was that the gender roles have been inverted from the original. The Ghostbusters are all women (men in the original), and their secretary is a man. A feminised Chris Hemsworth, by the looks of things. There doesn't appear to be any particular reason for this, other than so we can get a few shots of women doing 'science'. It feels clumsy, contrived and pointless.

The implied racism was cringeworthy. All the white girls do the science, but the black girl knows 'New York'. She knows the street. For FUCK'S sake. Talk about racial typecasting. Even the original didn't go that far... at least they actually played on Winston being black to humorous effect, most memorably when he says to the Italian mayor 'I've seen shit that'll turn you WHITE!'

Now, I'm not a film snob. I mean, generally I like films to have an intelligent, original plot, interesting characters, perhaps subversive themes, philosophical questioning, good dialogue and an engaging narrative. But in the absence of those things, I'll settle for cheap thrills like tits and violence. I like the Transformers films because of that. They are not works of high art - but they're mildly entertaining, and you don't have to concentrate too much on them.

The original Ghostbusters was well-written, funny, with exceptional deadpan delivery from Bill Murray. The chemistry between the entire cast was perfect - Sigourney Weaver was excellent, Rick Moranis was just annoying enough, and the special effects were good enough to convince, even now. This remake looks like it's heavily redoing plot elements, inverting gender roles simply to make a political point and at the same time dropping the ball on race, and doesn't even provide me with any cheap thrills.

I thought Chris Hemsworth being a secretary would piss me off, but it doesn't - his purpose is eye candy for the ladies. And that's fine. That's OK. That's pretty much the basis of Hugh Grant's entire career. Cheap thrills for the ladies is perfectly fine. But it seems that, in the absence of an original plot, the creators couldn't bring themselves to even throw in some cheap thrills for the men.

So it appears that Ghostbusters has been re-made as a chick flick. That's fine - perfectly valid direction for the franchise to take, and I am sure one that will reap financial rewards. The film-makers will very likely line the pockets with the hard-earned dollars of many people.

But they won't be with mine. I will be spending my money on products that cater to my tastes. So please don't try to dress this film up as modern, or innovative, or interesting, or different. Because it's not. It's a chick flick. It's light entertainment for women. That's fine - women deserve light entertainment as well. But I think I'll stick with Transformers for my low-brow needs - huge fuck-off robots, explosions and Megan Fox's arse.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

#EUReferendum - Why I'm Voting #Leave

I have finally decided. The truth is, in my heart, I'd decided a while back, but I was prepared to change my mind. I can't see that anything much will change it now. I will vote to Leave the EU in the forthcoming referendum. My reasons for doing so are summarised as follows.

Cameron's 'Renegotiation'
I have sung the praises of the PM since he attained that office, and have generally considered him to be doing a pretty good job under fairly unpleasant circumstances. It was always going to be difficult for him to try and reduce public expenditure and balance the books with a Labour Party sore from election defeat and retreating loudly into its comfort zone. It was difficult for him to fend off Alex Salmond's SNP in the march for Scottish independence. It was difficult for him to stay in coalition for 5 years with the Liberal Democrats, who have more in common with Labour than the Tories. It was difficult for him to win a Parliamentary majority fighting against a stacked electoral system. But he managed it all.

However, on the subject of his 'renegotiation' with the EU, I have to say he has disappointed me. Cameron's problem is that he has never really hidden the fact that he is a Europhile. He believes in the EU, he thinks the UK should be a member, and there aren't really any circumstances under which he would recommend leaving. Everyone in this country knows it, and everyone in Brussels knows it.

Consequently, he had no leverage in the negotiations. He had no threat to bring to bear on them, no consequences that he could make them suffer. No Ace in the hole, no King up his sleeve. He went in from a weak position, prepared to accept almost anything the EU offered him.

The Not-So-'Special Status' Deal
Because of this, the so-called 'special status' that we have been offered by the EU is no such thing. It is weak, changes virtually nothing, and is little more than window-dressing. It doesn't address the problems of immigration from the EU bloc, it doesn't address better border controls, it doesn't restore sovereignty over taxation, benefits, agriculture, fisheries, working time regulations and the other myriad areas of policy where the EU has influence or even veto. What little it does offer is not guaranteed - it must be approved by the European Parliament after a 'Remain' vote, and Brussels have undertaken to work it into the next Treaty, whenever that comes along.

Lack of Trust
Quite simply, I do not trust either the European Parliament, nor the other heads of state/government in the other EU states, to approve our so-called 'special status'. The EU dealt with referenda in Ireland, France and the Netherlands, which rejected the EU Constitution, by ignoring them, and putting the Constitution into effect via the Lisbon Treaty anyway. It dealt with Greece's attempt to relieve the country from penury by withdrawing liquidity funding, threatening ejection from the Eurozone and finally forcing it to accept yet more crushing austerity which the Greeks have not voted for, but which the Germans deem necessary.

I wouldn't trust the EU and its elite clique of Commissioners and officials as far as I could throw them, precisely because they have proven themselves to be untrustworthy in the past.

Sovereignty
This is the biggie, really. The elephant in the room which no one wants to talk about. Sovereignty is thus: the concept that a free people ought be able to govern their own nation in their own interest. The EU has changed so dramatically over the years, has expanded its influence so far beyond its original mandate, that the United Kingdom is no longer a sovereign entity. We can no longer govern our own nation without the permission of the EU.

We require the EU's permission before we levy taxes (or not), before we change benefits payments, before we sign trade agreements, before we modify farming and fisheries regulations, before we modify financial services regulations. In huge areas of policy, the EU holds sway. It is utterly ridiculous that we need the consent of the Polish Government before we change our benefits system. We would not expect the Poles, or the Romanians, or the French, or the Germans, or the Italians, to seek our permission on what they ought to spend their taxpayers' money.

I would have been prepared to vote to Remain, if Cameron had managed the repatriation of significant powers from the EU: to allow us to introduce or abolish whatever taxes we see fit, and at whatever level, and to spend such revenue on what we consider without their approval, subject only to necessary contributions to fund EU institutions. However, we have nothing resembling that.

Identity
I suspect that this will chime with many, the issue of identity. Humans are tribal creatures at heart: we are not solitary animals, but prefer to live in groups. Most of us cling to a common identity because we need a sense of belonging to something greater than ourselves: a group, a football team, and especially a nation.

The word that rolls off my lips when someone asks where I am from is, of course, England. It is a deep, instinctive, primal feeling, and I am happiest in the world when returning back to my homeland. There is nothing that compares to seeing the white cliffs of Dover, stark against the morning sky, the waves of the Channel crashing at their base, or the rolling fields of the shires stretching into the far distance, etched with silver rivers gleaming in sunlight, or the mysterious snow-topped caps of the Pennines and the Lakeland fells. England is my home, and my land.

But there is another identity which is a second love, a comforting warmth in a lonely world, and that is that England is part of a greater union of nations with whom it shares a common history, language, culture and ancestry. I am speaking, of course, about the United Kingdom.

That is my Union. The English have far more in common with the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish (even the Southerners!) than we ever will with the French, the Germans and the Italians. That isn't to say those nations are alien to us - they are still part of the same Western civilisation, but they are sufficiently different for me to be suspicious about a political union with, or between, them. I don't think us being in an artificially constructed and centrally imposed union benefits either the British, or the French, or any of the other nations of the EU.

Lack of Solidarity
The EU is a dysfunctional construct. It's not just imperfect, it is, in its current form, conceptually and fatally flawed. It was constructed based on the premise that the peoples of Europe would, given sufficient prodding by their lords and masters, abandon their national identities in favour of a common European identity and progress seamlessly to a federal United States of Europe.

Except this hasn't happened, because when it really comes to the crunch, neither the peoples of Europe, nor their masters, are really prepared to ditch national identities which have been bred into them over generations.

Consider when the Berlin Wall came down. Germany had been torn in twain at the end of World War II, the Eastern half occupied by the USSR, the Western half by the Americans, French and British. The Western half was, over a period of decades, rebuilt into a functional, free democracy. The Eastern half was imprisoned in poverty, a satellite state of a Communist dictatorship. When the Wall came down, East Germany was facing abject ruin - as a separate nation, it would have been all but bankrupt, needing huge international state aid and significant debt relief.

West Germany then did something utterly remarkable which transformed the fate of the former Soviet vassal - it unilaterally declared that it would treat the value of an East German Mark as the same as a West German Mark. In so doing, it instigated the most massive, comprehensive international bailout in history. East Germany was basically pulled from the edge of the abyss, because West Germany effectively guaranteed all of their debts and obligations. There was no referendum or debate over such an enormous measure, and the West Germans accepted this colossal burden without so much as a whimper. Conversely, when the East Germans received Western delegations to help organise their economy and harmonise it, implementing new rules, they did not demand new elections and veto rights. So why did two nations, separated by two massively different political ideologies and economic theories, suddenly put their differences aside and agree to get on?

Because they were both German.

The West had no problem in bailing out other Germans, because it felt a sense of kinship and solidarity with them, and likewise the East had no problem accepting instructions from other Germans, even though they arguably had no democratic accountability to the Eastern population. They were German, and that was enough.

Contrast this with the German treatment of Greece during its recent Eurozone crisis, and the Greek treatment of Germany. Did the Germans offer debt relief? No - they demanded austerity, for which the Greeks had not voted. Did the Greeks try to get their house in order? No - they demanded money from the Germans, with no control over how it was spent. On either side, there was no solidarity, no common spirit, no sense of joint enterprise. Just Germans on one side, and Greeks on the other. It demonstrated, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the peoples of Europe hold their national identity far dearer than any concept of European solidarity.

That is why the EU, in its current form, will ultimately fail.

Intransigence and Irrelevance
This state of affairs has long been foreseen by British politicians, who have tried to steer the EU away from the centralised, top-down, quasi-Imperialist approach it takes. Margaret Thatcher argued for a Europe of nations, not a federal union. British opposition to the Exchange Rate Mechanism, the Eurozone, the EU Constitution, the principles of 'ever closer union', and the constant ratchet of power transference to Brussels have been continuously ignored and overruled.

The UK has been overruled more times than any other two European nations put together during our membership of the EU. Those who wish to Remain speak of our 'influence' at the top table... I can see very little influence. It seems that they ignore us, preferring a road to deeper integration which will only lead them to failure. The EU has demonstrated that it is unwilling to listen to us, and unwilling to change, even if such change would be to its own advantage.

Summary
I have had enough of the EU. My belly is full of their nonsense, and I can take no more of it. This Referendum is the first chance we have had in over 40 years to say whether we consider that this great folly should continue. We may never get another chance. There are risks to Brexit: a resurgent Russia would no doubt be pleased, we may strain our relations with our military allies at a time when we face a myriad challenges, and there are no guarantees that we could renegotiate favourable trading deals with either the EU or other countries such as China, the US and India.

To those fears I can only say that leaving the EU does not mean that we are abandoning our defence and security obligations, which would continue, and that we should make a concerted diplomatic effort to reassure our allies that we are not retreating from the world. As far as trade goes, I see no reason why we could not sign trade deals in our own right: we are the 5th largest economy in the world, and if current trends continue, we may soon become the 4th, or even the 3rd.

Now may not be the best time to leave the EU, but it may be the only chance we get. The risks of staying in exceed those of leaving. I'm out.

Final Point
As I have said, I intend to vote Leave. However, I would ask all my fellow Brits to consider that this referendum is shaping up to be a straight re-run of the Scottish Independence vote. I would therefore implore two things:
  • Don't make it personal. Most people in this country will come to an entirely logical, consistent, principled view that we should Remain in the EU, or that we should Leave. Having a different opinion does not make them a traitor, or a bigot. Regardless of the outcome of the vote, we will have to live together in the same land afterwards. Let's keep it clean;
  • Respect the outcome. One way or another, a lot of people will be incredibly upset with the outcome of the vote. If we find ourselves on the losing side, we must not throw our toys out of the pram, like the SNP are doing. They had their vote, they lost, but they will not give up on it. Let's let the referendum settle the issue, not prolong it indefinitely.

EU Mythbusting

So the date of the EU referendum has been set at June 23rd. And with a load of nonsense already starting to be spouted by various people, I thought it's time to apply the wrecking ball of logic to some of their statements.

1. If we leave, we'll have trade tariffs with Europe again - everything will be more expensive. Lots of jobs depend on the common market - they'll all be lost.
These arguments are both predicated on the assumption that if we leave the European Union, then we will also leave the European Economic Area (EEA), commonly known as the 'single market'. This is not the case. Our membership of the EU stems from us being signatories to the Treaties of Rome, Maastricht, Amsterdam and Nice, which have now been effectively superseded by the Treaty of Lisbon. Our membership of the single market stems from us being signatories of the EEA Agreement, which is a completely separate Treaty. If we leave the European Union, it does not affect our membership of the EEA, which means there wouldn't be any tariffs, and our exports to the EU would not be affected.

The idea that we'll have capital flight because big manufacturers only base themselves here to access the single market is also nullified. We won't be leaving the single market - we'll be leaving the political union that sits on top of it.

2. Over 50% of our exports go to the EU - they'll be lost if we leave.
As discussed, our European exports are related to our membership of the EEA, not the EU - they are 2 different legal structures established by separate agreements. Our exports to the EEA would be unaffected if we left the EU. Furthermore, the 50% figure is somewhat misleading - 50% of our exports are routed through EU ports such as Rotterdam, but their ultimate destination is not the EU. These are often forwarded on to end destinations outside the EU. It is not fully clear what proportion of our exports are actually consumed within the EU.

Again, we could carry on using European ports by virtue of our continued membership of the EEA, or we could regenerate some of our own ports such as Hull, Liverpool, Glasgow, Middlesborough, Bristol and Grimsby - which were thriving port cities once, and could be again.

Finally, on the subject of exports, it is worth noting that we import far more from Europe than we export - in other words, even if the EU nations were minded to throw their dummies out of the pram and stop buying British goods (which would probably be illegal under international law anyway), their exports would be hurt more than ours.

Conversely, we export far more to non-European countries than we import. In actual fact, it would make more sense for us to be in a common market with the United States and the Commonwealth nations than it does with Europe.

3. Human rights laws come from Europe - if we leave, then those laws will disappear.
This is utter nonsense - England has human rights laws going back 800 years. The Magna Carta guaranteed basic rights, as did the Bill of Rights, and the concept of Parliamentary Sovereignty has limited the State's power to interfere with the individual's rights, except by the express permission of Parliament, chosen by the people. We have a long tradition of human rights laws which pre-date the EU by many centuries.

Furthermore, the current implementation of human rights law is in the form of the Human Rights Act 1998. Contrary to popular belief, this Act did not stem from legislation instigated by the EU, but is a domestic implementation of the UK's obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. The Convention is a Treaty - the EU is a political union. If we leave the EU, we are not leaving the Convention.

The UK was a major contributor towards drafting the Convention, and was the first state to ratify it in 1951, 23 years before we joined the European Economic Community (EEC), the forerunner to the modern EU. Our obligations under the Convention will not cease simply because we have elected to leave a political union bolted on top of it. To further highlight its difference, Russia is a signatory to the Convention, but is not a member of the EU, as with many other states.

4. The UK will break apart if we leave the EU.
This is based on the threat by the SNP to hold another referendum on Scottish independence if, in an EU vote, England voted to leave and Scotland voted to stay.

Firstly, it is worth noting that social attitudes in Scotland are far closer to those in England than the SNP would care to admit. True, Scottish support for the EU is higher than English, but the Scots are a sceptical folk as well. It wouldn't surprise me if Scotland voted to leave the EU as well.

Secondly, the SNP can make threats about another referendum as much as they like - and are likely to continue to do so, as Scottish independence is their sole reason for existence. However, the fact of the matter is this - the Scottish Parliament does not have the legal authority to hold a referendum in Scotland. That can only be granted by the Westminster Parliament. If they wanted another referendum, they would need to force a majority vote in the House of Commons. They would need Tory support for this, which is unlikely.

Thirdly, their demands for yet another referendum are unlikely to go down well in Scotland. Most opinion polls show little support for another bruising and divisive referendum - unsurprisingly, most Scots just want to get on with their lives.

Finally, even the UK voted to leave (it probably won't), another Scottish referendum was granted (highly unlikely) and then the Scots voted to leave the UK (also unlikely), Scotland would face the same situation as it would have faced post-secession before. It would no longer be a member of the EU, and highly unlikely to be welcomed into the fold under the same terms they currently have. They would have to go through a formal application process, be required to join the Euro and Schengen zones and have approximately the same representation in the EU Parliament as Malta. It would be required to maintain border controls with England, face a situation where its financial services industry has 80% of its customers living in a foreign country using a completely different currency, and be living through a period of very low oil prices at a time when its public finances would be heavily dependent on oil revenue.

Scotland leaving a UK outside the EU makes even less sense than Scotland leaving a UK inside the EU.

5. Cameron's renegotiation is a better deal.
Only by the narrowest of margins. The Prime Minister's 'renegotiation' allows 15 national parliaments to club together to block legislative proposals from the European Commission, allows us to reduce the level of benefits payments we make to foreign nationals, places an arbitrary and slight braking mechanism on the EU's profligacy and won't be written into Treaty. In other words, it's window-dressing.

The European Commission is the executive wing of the EU Government which is unelected and unaccountable. It shouldn't be allowed to propose legislation at all - better yet, it shouldn't even exist. Allowing 15 Parliaments to club together to defeat it simply reinforces our status as a federal province within a political union. National parliaments are little better than glorified local councils under EU rule.

Next is the proposal to reduce benefits. Ahem. Why do we have to pay benefits to foreign nationals at all? Why do we need the consent of the Polish Government before we change what British taxpayers' money is spent on? We wouldn't expect them to clear their spending plans with London, so why should we clear it with Brussels, Paris, Berlin or Warsaw?

The proposed brake on spending is fractional - the EU is highly profligate and this is unlikely to change. The best way of reducing our exposure to this profligacy is to leave it. Let the Europeans waste their own money if they want to, but they shouldn't be wasting ours.

And as the final insult, as trivial as these changes are, the EU isn't even prepared to codify them in a Treaty - which means that we just have a 'promise' from them. Like the 'promise' that no Eurozone state would ever have a deficit greater than 3%? Or the 'promise' that British taxpayers' money wouldn't be used to bail-out Eurozone states in trouble? Or the 'promise' that we would have a veto over deeper integration? Or the 'promise' that the EU wouldn't get a formal written constitution? Or the 'promise' that immigration would only be in the tens of thousands? In Britain, we have a word for 'promises' from the EU - we call them 'lies'.

Cameron's renegotiation is marginally better than our current position, but the difference is so slight as to be almost imperceptible, and the EU's leaders cannot be trusted to keep to their word.

6. If we leave the EU, France will change border controls back to Dover. 
Currently, we have an arrangement with France where UK Border Police are able to deploy to Calais, to prevent illegal immigrants entering the UK through the Channel Tunnel. However, this arrangement is not contingent on EU membership - it is a private bilateral arrangement between the UK and France. France's interior minister has also stated that the arrangement would not be affected if we left the EU.

The factor that is most likely to affect our border arrangements with France is a change of government in France, not our membership (or not) of the EU.

7. Leaving the EU will devalue the Pound!
In the short term, this is quite likely - but currencies fluctuate every day. In the event of Brexit, the currency markets would no doubt be a bit spooked, and we'd probably see a fall in the value of the Pound. However, we'd probably also see a similar fall in the value of the Euro, as the EU's second largest economy and largest military power (that's us) decides to go it's own way.

Either way, a drop in the value of the Pound would likely only be a temporary issue, and may actually work to our advantage. Part of our problem in exporting goods and services is that we have a strong currency, and therefore our exports are relatively expensive compared to competitors. A short term drop would probably be a welcome boost to UK exporters.

8. All of our European flights will get more expensive!
Difficult to say either way on this one. As discussed, there is no reason why leaving the EU should entail leaving the EEA, which is primarily responsible for the harmonisation of duties and tariffs on airline tickets. A temporary drop in the Pound could see overseas holidays spike, but the Euro would most likely suffer similar falls, so the exchange rate between the two may not be affected.

Either way, it doesn't make a huge difference. If people don't go to Europe on their jollies, they'll go somewhere else in the UK, and that's more money being spent at home. So the country as a whole would benefit. The only people that would lose out is the EU - as discussed, we're a huge export market for them. It would be irrational in the extreme for them to fall out with us.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Jeremy Corbyn: More Idiocy on Trident and the Falklands

Corbyn is definitely cementing his reputation as a complete fruitcake. In an interview with Andrew Marr, he suggested that we should scrap the Trident nuclear missile system, but... get this... retain the actual submarines on patrol, to preserve jobs.

The Vanguard-class nuclear submarines which we use as a platform for Trident were specifically designed and built with the Trident system in mind. It is, in effect, their only reason for deployment. Of course, they could be retro-fitted with other weaponry, but at significant cost, and we would probably be better off by using smaller vessels like our current Astute-class attack submarines. So there is very little point in retaining the Vanguard-class vessels if the Trident system, or a comparable nuclear deterrent, were not renewed.

Corbyn is therefore proposing that HM Government incur significant costs which confer very little military advantage simply to preserve the jobs of a few hundred workers on the Clyde. So he's a fucking twat.

Next, Corbyn argues that we don't need a nuclear deterrent anymore, because the Cold War is over. Really? He might want to tell Vladimir Putin that - the Russian President obviously didn't get that memo. Russian annexation of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in Georgia, and more recently Crimea in Ukraine go some way to demonstrating that. Russia is a resurgent threat to the West.

We are entering a new period of threats to the West. Furthermore, those threats are manifold - we don't just face challenges from Russia, but Iran (it remains to be seen whether Obama's so-called diplomatic victory will actually dissuade the Iranians from pursuing weaponisation) and North Korea (who have made no small affair of their attempts to develop a nuclear bomb). Never has a deterrent been so needed.

Next, El Corbyno has indicated that he would seek an 'arrangement' with Argentina over the Falkland Islands.

Let's spell this out, shall we? Argentina claim sovereignty over the Islands - they maintain that our 'colonisation' of them breaches their territorial integrity. Never mind the fact that English explorers landed on the Islands before Argentina even existed. Never mind the fact that the Islanders themselves have been continuously living on the Islands for about 300 years, when we booted out a mutinous Spanish garrison in the pay of an American pirate. Never mind that the Falklands have never been under any kind of administration by Argentina or its colonial predecessors. Never mind that. They want them, because they're close. It's like us saying that we have a claim over Normandy, Brittany and Calais because they're nearby.

Argentina tried to enforce their ludicrous and spurious territorial claim in a 1982 war, when their thuggish fascist government invaded and occupied the Islands in an unprovoked attack. In response, we sent a substantial task force to relieve the Islands, and at the cost of hundreds of lives, we succeeded.

Argentina have continued to press their claim through diplomatic means ever since. They still dispute British sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, refusing to recognise the results to two internationally-observed referenda of the Islanders. So to put it simply, there is no arrangement to be made with Argentina over the Falklands. The British position is that they are ours, they always have been and that their status will not change until the Islanders themselves, under the UN doctrine of self-determination, wish to change it. They are, in effect, a self-governing overseas territory in free association with the United Kingdom.

Argentina's position is that the Falkland Islanders are an artificially planted population which breaches their territorial integrity. They do not recognise the Islanders' rights to self-determination, they do not recognise British sovereignty and they accuse us of imperialism for daring to defend our own territory. These positions are diametrically opposite. It is highly unlikely that any Argentine government will change their position, as it would be electoral suicide at home. And it would be morally reprehensible for HM Government to abandon the Islanders.

So Corbyn is wrong on Trident, wrong on retaining the Vanguards and completely, utterly, disastrously wrong on the Falkland Islands.