Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Baroness Scotland: a retrospective

Ah, Baroness Scotland—how we have missed your peculiar and brazen brand of corruption and general troughing! Truly, you are a paragon of the political class—utterly corrupt, but possessed of such a reassuring self-righteousness...

In a series tagged as the Scotland Files, Guido has been unveiling some of the recent financial excesses of this Peer of the Realm—and, now, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth. Highlights include:
Whilst Guido delves further into this horrid harpy's venality, Baroness Scotland continues to lie...
Scotland said it is “untrue” she demanded £4,000 for a mirror-lined cupboard. Here is the cost plan showing her demand for a £4,000 mirror-lined cupboard.

She said there is “no chandelier”. Read the emails where her staff complain about her demands over an “extremely expensive chandelier” here.

She said the total cost would be the original budget “plus the fees plus things that would come up”. Read her staff complaining about how expensive those “things that would come up” are here.

Scotland said she followed all procurement rules to hire her friend Lord Patel on £30,000-a-month. Here is a memo showing procurement practices were waived.

She said her team she denied this all to journalists “again and again and again” before publication. Guido was in regular conversation with her press office until we asked about her Mayfair home. As soon as we started asking about this, they stopped replying. Given multiple opportunities, they did not deny any of these stories…
Now, we have found out that Patricia Scotland claimed "an educational allowance" for her grown-up children too (an obvious way in which to slip her more cash without having to justify it to the taxpayers).

Naturally, all of this has led to complaints from politicians in India and Antigua—countries in which £450,000 would be unimaginable wealth and whose taxpayers are, alongside you and I, paying for her posh paint and fancy chandeliers.

Whilst Guido is doing sterling work on this latest scandal, I thought that readers of The Kitchen might like to be reminded of the last time that we turned the spotlight onto Baroness Scotland—lest we forget...
So, the question needs to be asked—who the fuck decided that Patricia Scotland should be appointed to the important post of Secretary-General of the Commonwealth?—always an important position, and even more so in these days of Brexit...

Bueller? Bueller...?

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Wrong, but right

I happened to be watching a wee compendium of Peter Hitchens' prognostications on YouTube the other day. Now, I don't happen to agree with Mr Hitchens on... well... almost any issue.

However...

If you scroll through that video to about 5 minutes and 15 seconds, he responds to Will Self (who is also an utter cunt), with the following words...
... the time is coming when people who have conservative christian opinions will actually face persecution of one kind or another.
As Mr Self intimates, the idea that conservative Christians will get persecuted for their views is, of course, patently ridiculous.

Oh. Wait. What...?

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Re-joining the Libertarian Party

With our political choices narrowed so much—to, essentially, three main parties who all believe in collectivism (the only variation being in whether they take their inspiration from communism or fascism)—I have, after conversations, with other freedom-minded people, decided to rejoin the Libertarian Party UK.

I have paid very little attention to the party since I left, some years ago (2010?), although I have bumped into supporters at think tank parties. As such, I look forward to finding out how things have progressed...

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

The sky has fallen in...

... or it must have, because I agree with something that Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett has written in the Grauniad!
When it comes to stumbling blocks, women’s experiences vary. Perhaps the pharmacist has invoked the right to refuse you the morning-after pill, on “moral” grounds. The fact that religious beliefs continue to trump a woman’s reproductive rights in this country is an outrage, though hardly surprising.
Personally, I do find it surprising.

So, let me spell this out for any hard-of-thinking, sky-fairy-worshipping morons out there: the morning after pill prevents conception—it does not induce abortion.

Are we sorted? Do you understand this basic biological fact? Excellent.

Warning: by all accounts, the morning after pill does, however, make you feel like absolute shit.

"Arbeit macht frei"—May doubles down on the fascist state

I see that Mrs May is determined to double down on the fascist inclinations she displayed so shamelessly in the Home Office...
The Conservatives will use the power of government to "restore fairness" in Britain and spread prosperity more widely, Theresa May has said.
Well, that doesn't sound like a recipe for disaster at all, eh? Higher taxes and more interference in business all round then. And note the use of the word "power" here.
The prime minister told the party's conference the UK must change after the "quiet revolution" of the Brexit vote, urging people to "seize the day".

Labour were now seen as the "nasty party" and only the Tories would "stand up for the weak... up to the powerful".
It seems to me, Mrs May, that the entity that is most "powerful" is the state—it certainly has the monopoly on violence.

So, Mrs May, who is going to stand up to you and your ilk, I wonder...?
The state should be a "force for good" to help working people, she argued.
Fucking hellski.

The Glorious Leader goes on...
"If you're one of those people who lost their job, who stayed in work but on reduced hours, took a pay cut as household bills rocketed, or—and I know a lot of people don't like to admit this—someone who finds themselves out of work or on lower wages because of low-skilled immigration, life simply doesn't seem fair."
Hmmmm. What about if you are—and I know a lot of people don't like to admit this—someone who finds themselves out of work because of the National Minimum Wage (or National Living Wage, or whatever the hell it's called these days), Mrs May?

You know, the kind of person whose human capital is so low, that they will never get a job? Like, I don't know, a young person with few qualifications?

How will you use the "power of the state" to "restore fairness" in the face of this particular piece of government stupidity? Will your government stand against the power of your government...?

What's next—compulsory National Service for all citizens?
She stressed the importance of the role of the state, the need for government to be a force for good. She promised a new industrial strategy and enhanced workers rights. It was a very different message from that of previous Tory leaders who have sought to reduce state intervention and roll back the size of government.
So, if I think that reducing state intervention and rolling back the size of government is a good idea, who the fuck do I vote for?

Political choice in this country just became even narrower.

UPDATE: the ASI peeps have responded rather more coherently...
"If only Theresa May was serious about ditching ideology in favour of pragmatism and evidence – she’d have to abandon most of her main policy planks.

"Take energy price caps. We have evidence that these will lead to lower investment [PDF], lower production and more brownouts or even blackouts. Eventually, these policies may lead to electricity rationing [PDF] and nationalisation. High energy prices are mostly caused by high wholesale prices, and energy firms are not generally more profitable than other large firms.

"Or look at the employee representation on company boards – which is better described as union representation. Here, the evidence is that giving unions this sort of power can turn boards toxic, as happened to Volkswagen, and these rules have reduced the value of German firms by 26%. Other academic evidence suggests that board representation is just about the only bad way of giving workers more say in how their firms are run. So why on earth is this the policy that supposedly-pragmatic May is proposing?"

[...]
Ah yes—I had forgotten about May's lunatic idea for energy price caps. Once again, a government wants to intervene and disrupt the market—in order to fix a problem that the government has created. For fuck's sake...

I can only assume that Mrs May is planning to "restore fairness" in the Venezuelan way—by making everyone equally poor and deprived.

The motto of Mrs May's government must surely be Forwards to Fascism!

Monday, June 27, 2016

We won—now stop being a fucking racist cunt

Look at all the fucking sea.

A number of people have been crowdsourcing links about racist incidents following the referendum vote to Leave.

Whilst I suspect that there is a certain amount of finding facts to fit the narrative going on here (these kinds of things are, alas, rather widespread across this country—we are not nearly as progressive as Londoners like to think), I would just like to issue the following message...
If you are one of the cunts who are now telling Polish folk—or anyone else—to "fuck off home", get in the fucking sea.
There's plenty of it, you know. Well, you probably don't because you are a thick-as-shit moron (although that's not entirely your fault given our shitty education system) who lacks—and this is what I really cannot stand—basic manners.

Either engage in a rational, civilised debate or fuck off and become a mercenary for hire in some fucking hell-hole like DR Congo.

Or, as I said, get in the fucking sea.

The EU is not "outward-looking"...

Many Remain campaigners have lashed out, describing the vote to Leave the EU as being somehow "unprogressive". As usual with these types of people, for all that they claim to be progressive, global, and non-racist, their views are hopelessly parochial.

The simple truth is, as anti-EU campaigners have been pointing out for years, that the European Union is itself "fortress Europe"—a inward-looking customs union, designed as a protectionist barrier to trade, in order to protect big businesses based within it.

Anna Racoon helpfully provides some examples of how the EU's tariff barriers do this.
Enjoy your morning coffee today? Kenyan was it? ‘Fairtrade’ even? The EU is quite happy to see Kenyans out in the boiling hot fields harvesting coffee beans, but they are not so happy seeing them do something mechanised and clever with the beans, like roasting and packaging them. Any upstart Kenyan with fancy ideas like that will quickly find that the EU has slapped a 7.5% tax on them – not to protect the EU’s coffee bean growers, we don’t have any, but to protect the mainly German coffee bean processors.
...

How do the cocoa farmers in Nigeria fare? The EU allows them to earn a subsistence living so long as they leave their cocoa beans well alone. We have no plans to set up cocoa farms in Northumbria, so are quite content to let the Nigerians do it for us – but anything easy and profitable, like using machinery to process the beans and turn them into luxury bars of Chocolate…well can’t let them do that. Then the EU fines them 8.30%, and throws in an agricultural tariff of 18.70 % not to mention their latest wonder, the ‘sugar tax’. Why? Well there’s the American owned Cadbury’s for a start.

The Kenyans turned their hands to growing roses, that other European luxury staple. Since it had never occurred to anybody that they would do that – there was no tariff on fresh cut flowers. The industry thrived. Every night plane loads of beautiful roses arrived in Amsterdam and were sent out to flower shops across Europe. The EU demanded the right to flood the Kenyan market with tariff free EU goods in return. Can’t have Kenya developing its own mobile phone manufacturers can we. When the Kenyans refused to agree to this – the EU promptly slapped an 8.5% tax on those cut flowers; they only removed it when the Kenyans agreed not to try to make anything complicated and let the Europeans do it for them.

Back in 2009, the Archbishop of Canterbury was on the fashionable ‘carbon footprint’ bandwagon and urged us all not to buy Kenyan green beans – the following year, the UK’s Department for International Development gave Waitrose, yes Waitrose, £200,000 to swallow their fear of angering the Archbishop – and put Kenyan green beans on their shelves!

The beans are sent to Europe in 5kg boxes; once in Europe, they are repackaged in 120gm cardboard slips, given the names of fictitious farms where they have been grown, and sold onto the supermarket customers. Tescos undertake to send any ‘substandard beans’ onto frozen food manufacturers for inclusion in ready meals – good of them really, ‘cos if the Kenyans had any uppity ideas about canning their beans, the EU is ready with a tax of 12.8% to discourage them.
This is the organisation that we have just voted to leave.

So, now that we are out of this shitty protectionist block, can we start helping the poorest people in the world now?

You know, by promising no tariff barriers against anybody, and thus enhancing the lives of millions of the world's poorest citizens...?

Sunday, June 26, 2016

It's Brexit—so what now?

It is very difficult to write about this subject objectively. I have been waiting, and agitating, for a referendum on the EU for more than twenty years now—and I never dared to believe, even once it was achieved, that the UK would actually vote to leave the EU.

But we have. So, please indulge this humble Devil whilst he expresses his considered and thought out opinion on the matter.

YEEEEEEEEEEEES! FUCKING GET IN! HOORAY! FUCKING ACES...

Ahem.

So.

What now? A very good question to raise, and one that will be consuming us for a good few years to come, I suspect. As EU Referendum has consistently stated, Brexit is a process and not an event.

Speaking of which, Pete and Richard North are at times utterly infuriating in terms of messaging—but they are also far better versed in the actual knowledge and understanding of this process than anyone else that I know. As such, their Flexcit document has to be the blueprint for the extraction of the UK from the European Union. I am glad to hear that this document has become required reading for some Civil Service members—they will need it.

Personally, your humble Devil has never been much good at the detail of things—I prefer to engage in strategy. This is what I do in business, and in the little that I have been involved in politics. So, what follows are a few random comments from that perspective.
  • I would have said that Cameron had to go, but he has already fallen on his sword. Unfortunately, because his blade is as soft and shit at its job as he is, it has bent and is only very gently impaling its master over the course of months. Cameron has decided that he will only utter the fatal words when he is too dead to have to bear the shame of capitulation: to that end, he is willing to screw the British people in some desperate attempt to delay the inevitable. He is a cunt—teasing with his lips whilst attempting to prevent the painful penetration of his ego as long as possible—and should be pushed down to full penetration right to the hilt as soon as possible.
  • Osborne seems to have disappeared: his promise to wreak revenge on the British people should they have the temerity to vote the wrong way has put him in something of a quandary—or "right in the shit", as we might say. Ludicrously, he is apparently ringing around to gather soundings as to his viability for Tory leadership. Due to the shortness of these conversations, I don't see his phone bill being particularly high this month.
  • Michael Gove has always been a canny—and, dare I say it, honourable—politician. As such, he has ruled himself out of running for the leadership. I like to think that it is because he is well aware that, having told some outrageous lies, he cannot in all conscience lead the party to a victory. I sympathise: like Gove, I have accepted that, in this most important of votes, the end does justify the means. But just because we have won, that doesn't mean that we are not tainted.
  • Boris. Well, what can one say...? Boris is entertaining, and seems to be able to laugh off any embarrassment. I wouldn't write him off (although I wouldn't endorse him either).
  • A lot of people have opined that Farage's mission is now over, and he should fuck off into the middle distance—as should UKIP. Surely, they say, UKIP only existed to drive a referendum on the EU—having won it, that party has no reason to exist.

    That is not true: the reason for that is the group of libertarian bloggers—including myself and Tim Worstall (and many others)—who, back in the mid-2000s—persuaded Nigel that UKIP needed to have a truly national manifesto. This manifesto should be a blueprint for what Britain should look like if freed from the EU (and we thought that this event would take decades—not a decade). We then helped to build a libertarian manifesto, and to persuade people that it was a relevant addition to the national conversation. We failed.

    UKIP adopted the anti-immigration manifesto that so many of us found... er... problematic. But most of our effort remains at its core and, as a result, UKIP is not now neutered by a successful Leave vote.

    Importantly, UKIP has captured huge swathes of the traditionally Labour heartlands—and it won't give up these voters without a fight. And nor will those voters swiftly return to Labour (but more on that later).
There is a huge problem here. The problem is this: vast swathes of Britain are deeply moribund economically, and these people are poor (by a Western way of thinking). Right now, they might blame the EU—but once that excuse has been removed, we are still left with a severely divided country. We need to find a way to fix this.

The great thing about Brexit is that is gives us a strategic decision by, as it were, our shareholders. Now the managers of the company need to be able to work out how to enact that decision in the best interest of the shareholders. And I am far from certain that any of them know how to do it.

Your humble Devil will write more on this—alas, I have to satisfy my own shareholders, and have no more time at this stage. But I shall be back...

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Lord Butler is not a very nice man

According to PoliticsHome [is that still going?—Ed], Lord Butler has advised that, in the event of a Brexit vote, Parliament could use its Remain majority to force another referendum.
Former Cabinet Secretary Lord Butler has suggested the House of Commons could use its pro-EU majority to trigger a second referendum if there is a vote for Brexit next week.
Ah, the famous EU-style tactics of "ask them again till they give the right answer" from Lord Butler here.
The crossbench peer warned that any push for a re-run or attempt to stop withdrawal would trigger a “major political crisis”, but said it was “paradoxical” to prevent Parliament acting as it sees fit.

"The referendum is merely advisory, and Parliament and the Government do maintain their sovereignty in law,” he told The House magazine.
Yes, Lord Butler—we know that the referendum is advisory. But Parliament has taken the decision to ask the people what their opinion is on this issue.

If the people vote for Brexit, and Parliament ignores the result, it would be acting explicitly and purposely against the will of the people on a subject that it expressly asked them to decide on.

It would be the final confirmation that this is not a democracy that we live in: it would be a very dangerous and explicit admission of what, currently, we only suspect to be true.
“One argument of the Brexiteers is that they want to restore powers and sovereignty to our Parliament – but all three main UK parties officially favour Remain. So it seems paradoxical to give powers back to Parliament to do something it does not want to. There might be pressure on parties to hold a second referendum.”
My dear Lord Butler, Brexiteers want to restore powers and sovereignty to our Parliament, so that we, the people—not Brussels technocrats—call the shots. We want to repatriate powers so that Parliament has no choice but to listen to us—because it is our power, not yours.

So what if all three parties officially favour Remain? If the people that the parties' MPs represent do not want to remain in the EU, it is not Parliament's place to dictate to the people who elect it. That is the main fucking point about democracy.

I know that you—having smoothly made the transition from civil servant to Lord—have not had to answer to the electorate for anything at all, and that's just fine and dandy for you. However, in this country, we do like our leaders to at least retain the fig leaf of accountability—to, at the very least, pretend that this is a democracy.

I know that you probably don't like the electors very much. In which case, I suggest that you go and work for the EU—that would be right up your street.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

The height of naivety

The Very British Dude has, in recent months, written some of the best Remain arguments I have seen—they were not convincing enough to make me change my mind, but they have been eloquent enough to make me, at least, consider my premises.

However, his open letter to Junker is—whilst the sentiment is spot-on—I'm afraid to say, incredibly naive and, worse, just plain silly.
If, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland votes as expected to remain in the European Union, you should not take it as an endorsement.

Britain is a great nation, once the hub of the greatest Empire the world has ever seen, a victor at the centre of alliances, in three centuries of conflict, and the mother of Parliaments.
...

We expect the European Union to realise that we on these islands will not ever be part of some 'United States of Europe', and we don't think France, Poland, Italy or Germany, or any other great nation of Europe should be expected to either.
Why am I irresistibly reminded of this chap...?
Oh yes—it's because the Black Knight shouted out a challenge, lost the fight catastrophically, and then remained shouting impotently from the sidelines.

It's fucking pathetic.
We, if forced to choose, will never choose Europe.
Don't be ridiculous, Dude. We are being forced to choose—you do recall that we're having a referendum, right? And if, as you fucking recommend, we choose to Remain then we will, indeed, be choosing Europe.
We expect the European Union to realise that we on these islands will not ever be part of some 'United States of Europe', and we don't think France, Poland, Italy or Germany, or any other great nation of Europe should be expected to either.

The European Union exists to facilitate trade between free peoples, and to solve problems best dealt with at an international level.
Yes. And you know how you can best solve Europe's current problems?—with a sodding United States of Europe!

As I have recently highlighted, you cannot solve the Euro problem without a unified political policy and a central European Treasury.

If you vote Remain, you are voting to become part of a United States of Europe (USE). Yes, Liar Cameron's fabled "renegotiation" might have slowed the pace of the UK's integration into this entity, but that's all it is—a delay.

In general, the polls show that younger people are far more likely to embrace the Remain side. So all that the political Establishment—both our own, and the EU's—have to do is wait another decade or so, and resistance to the UK being part of this USE will be weakened. If they decide to play the long game—something that the EU political Establishment is very good at—and wait for 20 years, then there will be no criticism whatsoever.

This is the last plausible chance, that I can see, to stick two fingers up at this project. If we don't, then we are shackled to this project for as long as it lasts—and the EU elites have shown us that they will do anything (currently politically possible) to realise this USE vision.

In twenty years, if we vote Remain, Britain's youth will be urging them on.

Friday, June 03, 2016

This is a lie

We learn from the BBC that David Cameron is a filthy liar.
David Cameron has said migration can be managed if the UK remains inside the EU...
No, it can't.

A fundamental part of the Single Market is the free movement of people. You do understand what "free movement" means, you dish-faced bastard?

What it means is that any citizen of the EU can settle in any other country within the EU. One can argue the rights or wrongs of this policy, but it is a central tenet of the EU Single Market.

Equally, it means that you cannot control the influx of people into this country. Therefore, the statement above is a lie.

You fucking lying bastard.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Again, voting Remain is not voting for the status quo

In your humble Devil's last post, I pointed out that a vote to Remain in the EU is, in fact, not a vote for the current situation.

As a swift adjunct to that, I find this July 2015 article, from Andrew Lilico, which neatly reinforces the economic problems within the Euro area.
So when British politicians propose that EU political integration should slow or that the EU should prioritize some other objective (e.g. the Single Market), that is not merely seen as unattractive—it is impossible.

The reasons why are economic. As was widely discussed in the UK debate about the euro in the 1990s and early 2000s, to make a single currency such as the euro work, one needs an adequate combination of trade integration, similarity of economic cycles (so that one size fits all interest rate and exchange rate policies do indeed fit all), capital and labour mobility (to offset any “asymmetries” in economic shocks – that is, economic shocks hitting some parts of the Eurozone harder than others) and fiscal transfers (to compensate for any large or long-term differential performance that is not offset by capital and labour mobility).

The Eurozone has fairly good trade integration, some material differences in economic cycles (though not especially larger than the differences between regions within the UK or US), and fairly high capital mobility. But even when they occur at around the same time (so cycles are not out), economic shocks affect some parts of the Eurozone much worse than others (as we have seen in the Eurozone crisis). And, Ireland excepted, labour mobility is not particularly high (despite all the complaints about immigration in some Member States).
That means—as has been argued all along—that for the Eurozone to work over the longer term there will need to be much more significant fiscal transfers between regions.
Which is precisely what I articulated a few days ago. And, of course, in order for the economic scenario to work, there must be more political union.
If adequate economic mechanisms and political union are not introduced, it is believed that the Eurozone crisis will return and anti-European sentiment will (rightly) increase, ultimately destroying the Eurozone and the EU project as a whole. Banking union and constraints upon Member State budgets have been introduced. Even more political integration is on the way.

So in the Eurozone, the answer to increased Euroscepticism is not seen as any form of rowing back on integration. Quite the opposite — Euroscepticism has arisen because political integration had not proceeded rapidly enough.

For the Eurozone and EU to survive at all, deeper political integration, including Eurozone-level tax and spending decisions and democratic mechanisms to oversee them plus reduced control over tax and spending decisions for Member State, are an existential necessity.
Quite so. Lilico's conclusion implies that the current referendum may be very far from being the last turning point for the UK in its relationship with the EU.
This all means current debates about whether the UK will have a referendum and how folk will vote is of only passing significance. What counts fundamentally to whether the UK stays in the EU after about 2020 is whether there are any non-euro members of the EU at all, given the existential economic necessity of the Eurozone forming into a deeper political union. At present that seems highly unlikely.
It may be that, regardless of the result of the referendum on July 23, the UK will have another chance to choose its destiny within the European Union. That is the optimistic view.

The less optimistic view—at least, for those of us who have no interest in being swallowed up by a European super-state based on Napoleonic Law (rather than the Common Law)—is this: that our leaders will view any vote against leaving the current arrangement as an affirmative decision to enter into this superstate.

That must not be allowed to happen. For all that the Leave campaign have been incompetent in being able to articulate this unpleasant future, the Remain campaign have expressly avoided telling the British people the inevitable future of political and economic integration.

If the British do not vote to Leave the status quo, only the extremely dishonest would take that to mean that they have signed up to a federalist future.