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Catching Up

Sorry about the quiet around here. I'm stuck dealing with a couple of parallel deadlines, and I'm about to take a week out for U-Con in Dortmund, the Eurocon (next weekend).

Meanwhile the UK has just gone through another surreal eruption of politics—and it's too early to say that it's over.

To recap quickly:

Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap general election to try and expand her death-grip on parliament. Starting with a 24% lead in the opinion polls, and facing an opposition in disarray led by a guy who can best be described as resembling your tweed jacket wearing Geography teacher, she managed to totally mess up her campaign and came within a whisker (about 3000 votes, nationally) of losing to Labour; as it is, she's lost her majority in Parliament, had to go to the Northern Irish Handmaid's Tale Party for a Confidence and Supply arrangement, has pissed off numerous factions within her own party by so doing, and had to go hat-in-hand to the 1922 Committee to apologize. Nor is it over yet: the Queen's Speech has been delayed (presumably while she works out what bits of red meat she can throw the DUP to keep their votes), and Brexit negotiations are due to start in earnest in the next few weeks (which is my personal betting for when the wheels come off her little blue wagon, and the engine catches fire, the fuel tank explodes, and it all goes Horribly Wrong as civil war breaks out between the Hard Brexit lunatic fringe and the realists in the Conservative party who don't want to be out of power for a generation). Meanwhile Jeremy Corbyn delivered the biggest swing to Labour since 1945, his rebellious right-wing Blairite back-benchers are publicly recanting and swearing allegiance, and everybody woke up blinking to discover that (a) the 18-24 demographic turn out to vote in large numbers and vote overwhelmingly for socialist policies if you run a manifesto that doesn't prioritize the interests of pensioners, and (b) the UK still has a broad base of support for honest left-wing policies. Oh, and Labour is now leading the Conservative party by 5% in post-election polling and Corbyn (who started out with a huge credibility gap) is now polling as a more trustworthy Prime Ministerial figure than May. (Greg: shut up.)

(Scotland is a side-show in a Westminster election. The SNP retained 59% of the Westminster seats sent down from Scotland; this looks like a huge drop from their previous record 94%, but the 94% was a high water mark reached in 2015 in the wake of Labour's disastrous self-destruction and a backlash against the Independence referendum result. This time around Labour managed to staunch the bleeding, and the Conservatives under Ruth Davidson—a charismatic and effective leader—made in-roads in former Liberal Democrat territory, aided by a huge influx of campaigning funds from the national (UK) level party. Main side-effect: the SNP are back-pedaling on demands for a new independence referendum ... at least until they see which way the fallout plume from Brexit is drifting.)

Meanwhile, the DUP deal opens some interesting questions about foreign intelligence services meddling in democratic elections—and not the usual ones (about Russia); this time Saudi money funnelled into support for Brexit via the DUP is a bone of contention. (There are also allegations about Saudi money backing opposition to Scottish independence.) Issues of electoral spending crimes aside (and in the UK it is a criminal offense to spend money from undeclared sources on your election campaign, or to exceed strict spending limits), what does Saudi Arabia have in common with Russia? Large oil and gas exports, obviously! If one asks why Russia might want to promote Brexit and destabilize the EU there are a range of possible answers, but with Saudi military intelligence there are only two: to push fossil fuel exports, and (a long way behind) mutual back-scratching with the folks who sell them the missiles and jet fighters they're pointing at their regional rivals.

Final note: the DUP are violently homophobic (and opposed to abortion, which is illegal under all circumstances in Northern Ireland: it's a dead issue elsewhere in the UK, wheresupport for abortion on demand is over 80%). They have 10 MPs to bring to Theresa May's side of the table. But there are rather more out LGBT Conservative MPs, and Ruth Davidson has a cohort of 14 Scottish Conservative MPs under her authority (and she is very out indeed). The DUP are pro-Brexit but oppose a hard land border with the Republic of Ireland. This has huge implications for Brexit because the Republic is a euro-zone EU member state and currently part of a customs union with the UK. If the hardline Brexiteers push for the UK to leave the European customs union, they'll implicitly rupture the agreement with the DUP. (They'd also trash the Good Friday agreement, but that's such a horrendous can of worms it justifies an entire separate blog post; indeed, so does the cash for ash scandal that has currently cost Northern Ireland it's government, thanks to DUP corruption and incompetence. But I'm not a local and I don't feel competent to do the subject justice. Let's just say Martin McGuinness died at almost the worst possible time for Northern Irish politics and move swiftly on.)

If the DUP try to meddle in UK LGBT politics again they may piss off the Scottish, LGBT, or both divisions within the Conservative party enough to wreck the agreement. And this is before we get into the fault line between the Brexit fanatics like Michael Gove and the Brexit realists. It would be incredibly rash to predict the imminent downfall of this government ... but I'd be astonished if it lasts out the next five years, and quite surprised if it makes it through the next twelve months.

Oh, and finally-finally: Donald Trump has noticed that All Is Not Well in the kingdom, and has chickened out of his proposed state visit out of fear of demonstrations. Then the election happened and Downing Street and the White House denied that there was going to be a delay. Watch this one: it's going to run. Because of course he's wildly popular over here and there couldn't possibly be any scenes like this.



It's notable that although the Tories were "cleared" of the Battle Bus spending scandal from 2015 (sending busloads of supporters around to marginal constituencies but claiming it as national expenses), they didn't dare try it again and they were comprehensively outgunned by Labour in getting feet on the ground. The clever Tory "local newspaper wraparound" trick worked somewhat for the local elections, but even that feels like a one-shot that may struggle to work again. Meanwhile, those new Labour people (especially the 18-24 yr olds who were galvanised by the referendum result) are very likely to stay with the party for at least one more election.

Oh, and those boundary changes are going to struggle to be implemented too, now. And there's probably a good case for asking the Electoral Commission to review them again anyway, after the huge shift in registration followed by actual increased turnout. (Plus I think they proposed reducing the NI presence, and the DUP won't be keen on that.)

And the other bonus was to watch the flailing around of the right-wing print media, which clearly genuinely struggled to get anywhere this time out. It's perhaps too soon to write their obituaries, but their desperation was clear to see.


It's a bit of mess.

As Jacob Rees-Mogg might say, a bit of shambles.

I think the best outcome likely is a series of small, containable constitutional crises arriving all at once.

The DUP being deployed to vote on English matters through some misapplication of the EVEL process. Difficulites with the Northern Ireland assembly restarting and perhaps another election there. Craig Mackinley being convicted. Division between the various parts of the Tory Party. All leading to the government facing a vote of no confidence.

Which they might win because experience teaches not to underestimate the abiltiy of the Tory party to be pragmatic and ruthless when holding on to power.

The worst outcome is a series of very large constittuional crises - up to and including a resumption of terrorism in Ireland and a complete failure of the Brexit talks.

I think you are right, the trigger for things to start going publically wrong is going to one of the early sticking points in the Brexit negotiations when e.g. the DUP find out you can't leave the Single Market and have a frictionless border with the Republic at the same time or one of the many other contradictions we have brewing.

Plus I think they proposed reducing the NI presence, and the DUP won't be keen on that.

I suspect more to the forefront of the DUP mind is that if this election had run under the proposed changes Sinn Féin would be the largest Northern party "in" Westminster. Not going to ping anxieties running back to the creation of Northern Ireland at all, that...


(I know this is a side show, but pretty much everyone except the Unionists that it suits to portray the Scottish result as "a defeat for the ebil SNP" expected at least some SNP losses (although I didn't expect some of the individual seats that were lost)).


The amusing thing about the insane turnout is that it's the first general election to follow the switch in voter registration from per-household to per-person (with an online option).

This was widely denounced at the time as a Tory attempt to disenfranchise students, the young, and the poor. Turns out that combining online registration with voter registration drives on campus is an effective way to tip the see-saw the other way.


I was talking to my daughter about this before the election. She's in first year at uni. Lots and lots of effort to get students to register and who knew that "the kids" would be all over online registration and social media drives to get them to register.

Another consideration with student voters is that they can be registered in two constitutencies, their university residence and their family home.

I suggested to her that, if we have a second election she should organise bands of students to turn up at marginal Tory MP's offices with a copy of Pepper vs Hart and their postal ballot application form and threaten them with an organised campaign to locate student voters in which ever constituency is most marginal. I'm not sure I was joking.


In my view, the major mistake made in the campaign was May not agreeing to a direct head-to-head debate with Corbyn. In amongst his many faults, Corbyn is a man who speaking in a long-winded and rambling manner, which on a TV debate is the wrong way to go about things where short, snappy answers with a bit of humour work best.

A TV debate involving Corbyn is therefore a really good idea because as long as whoever is opposing him plays ball with the TV interviewers and sticks to short, to the point answers plus the occasional joke and dig at their opponents, the TV host isn't going to be worried about them.

Poor old Corbyn, on the other hand, will naturally want to launch into a long-winded explanation of whatever the topic is, which is unfair to his opponents in terms of airtime, and tends to turn off TV viewers. So, any good host will aggressively interrupt, tell him to get to the point and generally harass the poor old buffer to speed him up a bit.

Getting both barrels from the likes of Paxman is very upsetting and generally only flusters most politicians and makes their performance even worse, and as most of his successors are trying to emulate the great man's delivery and technique by upping the aggression, Corbyn is going to get hounded by the TV people along with his political opponents.

So, for May, something like this would have been a two for one victory: she gets to promote her version, and Corbyn gets a kicking for being a bore. Silly old May forewent this golden opportunity for a spot of Corbyn-bashing, and look where it got her!


They should do what we did in Finland. Last weekend Finns Party elected racist leader and other coalition parties announced that they cannot continue co-operation. So, today majority of Finns Party MPs quit the party and formed their own group. Most likely to continue in government. Are there over 10 Blairites in Labour MPs who could either form their own party to replace DUP in coalition government or join straight to Conservative Party?


A minor correction, abortion is permitted on medical grounds in NI though it is very limited compared to the rest of the UK. Marie Stopes


I agree with a lot of your post, but now May has placated the 1922 committee for a while, unless she totally fucks up the DUP negotiations and pisses off the redoubtable Ms. Davidson and the other LGBT MPs, and the 200+ women MPs over abortion rights my guess is they'll leave her in place for Brexit and then the knives will come out.

No one really wants to negotiate Brexit after all, so whatever deal we get, they'll blame it on Davis and May, and then stand on a platform of a new direction for a new Britain. Who that will be, I'm not sure at this point, Amber Rudd would have been my guess before Hastings turned into a real marginal seat.

But, there's a lot of things that have to go right for that scenario. The Northern Ireland situation has to move forward with Sinn Fein and the SDLIP members of the Assembly not crying foul for favouritism to the Westminster alliance partners and the DUP not leaving the Confidence and Supply alliance. There's got to be a budget and a Brexit plan that will get through - and the DUP and various Tory backbenchers are on all kinds of different pages, and the various opposition parties will all vote against the budget and will vote against all kinds of parts of the Brexit plan.

I have very little good will towards the Tories and I imagine they'll peer into the abyss a number of times but I think they're too scared to jump without replacing May first and they won't want to do that until after Brexit. As long as they can balance the DUP against their own internal politics they'll keep it together until after some form of Brexit is a done deal.


No worries here in Finland, even the division of one party in the cabinet and the expulsion of half of them is not enough to trigger the disbanding of the cabinet - so no new elections, just some minister rearrangements and everything can continue as it was. Though I'm happy that the blatant racists, at least the most vocal about it, got thrown out.

The Finnish politics is truly on a strange curve, too...


I seriously cannot see the current arrangement lasting until 2019. As to the 1922 Committee, in order to stab someone in the back, one first needs to get behind them...


"if you run a manifesto that doesn't prioritize the interests of pensioners"

The issue there was more that the Tories appeared to declare war on the elderly in their manifesto with the 'dementia tax', ending the triple lock on pensions and means-testing winter fuel payments. Labour didn't do the first, and promised to keep the latter two, so while they didn't go out of their way to prioritise pensioners, they weren't doing anything negative to them.

Alongside that, Labour are still committed to pandering to ageing racists by opposing freedom of movement, and I can see a disillusionment that'll make Clegg look popular when a future PM Corbyn tries to present that as a result of the Brexit deal.


What strange times these are when the French have the most surprisingly rational electoral response to extremism over the past year! Bravo to the UK for pulling back the reins on the Tory runaway wagon; let's hope they can get that stagecoach stopped before it goes over the cliff.


I was a huge skeptic of both Corbyn and Momentum for a long time. I'm on the right of the Labour party. But his performance improved and I started to think he might not be so bad. Then about three weeks ago I began to think he could actually do something useful.

Labour's polling numbers improved, but don't forget, this was still supposed to be the election that delivered not just a huge Tory majority, but which would potentially be the death of the Labour party. It really looked that dire.

As it turns out, Corbyn is a huge vote winner. His supposedly crazy left wing team can deliver a costed, sensible, mainstream Labour manifesto. And together with a measurably significant on-the-ground movement, they can mobilise a serious campaign. (Newsflash: Momentum aren't just clicktivists who don't door-knock - they do serious canvassing.)

I was against Corbyn not for policy reasons, but because I thought he couldn't win. In reality he's a huge vote winner. COnsider this. Blair won big in 97 - on the back of years of terrible polling for the Tory party, and with a huge amount of press support. Corbyn managed a bigger vote swing, against a background of terrible polling and the most vituperative attacks ever on a party leader. Who looks like the bigger vote winner now?

There's still a mountain to climb. But the Corbynites were right: Corbyn, and his movement, can revitalise Labour, and make it an electable force. Noone else in Labour party could have done this. There's something big happening and I'm excited.


It never fails to amaze me how consistently May does precisely the wrong thing.

Allying with the DUP is both stupid and unnecessary. Stupid, because (AIUI) tensions in Northern Ireland are running high, and this cannot fail to inflame things - even if the DUP ask only for money, and much more so if they start asking for NI intervention from the UK govt over things like marches. Unnecessary, because there is no way in hell the DUP are going to bring down a Conservative government when the IRA-linked Corbyn is leading the opposition.

Much better would have been to announce immediately after the election "Clearly neither we nor Labour won the election; we're establishing a Brexit Commission for the negotiations, with the top people from all parties, answerable only to Parliament itself." Not only does this demonstrate competence, confidence, and humility (which both the electorate and the EU would welcome) - but it also serves to spread the blame if Brexit goes wrong. Meanwhile, a Conservative minority government can work on widely-accepted consensus policies, for example increasing NHS funding, with crossbench support - keeping the country ticking over until the Brexit negotiations are finished, when we can call another election and sort it out.

Really, it's so obvious, I genuinely can't imagine why they're not doing it. Good for the country, good for the Conservatives, and good for May herself. I must be missing something.


You're brighter than Mayfly?


Corbyn may be a huge vote winner amongst the youngest voters (i.e. those who cannot remember the incredible damage a high-tax hard-core Socialist government can inflict), but his economic policies are completely barking mad, and on a par with his previous antics of publicly sympathising with known terrorists.

We can but hope that someone works out how to effectively oppose him before a collection of the young and the easily misled elect him into power.


Because sharing the blame for Brexit in exchange for gaining precisely no power to shape it isn't an attractive proposition for anyone? Remember that "answerable only to Parliament itself" means "answerable to the Tory/DUP majority", nothing else.


I think the bigger picture here is that the traditional workers parties, Labour in UK, Social Democrats in most of Europe and so on, have drifted seriously right during the last 20 years.

If you had shown Blair to a 1980'es audience, they would tag him a Conservative, same thing for Helle Thorning-Schmidt in Denmark etc.

A time traveller with a bad memory for names would also have a hard time not tagging Hillary as republican.

The youth rallying behind Sanders and Corbyn are precisely where they have always been: Left of center, for a kinder roomier world.

As for the youth-vote attraction to ruffled tweeds like Sanders and Corbyn:

It is almost a given that most young voters got to know and love a crumbled teacher exactly like that during their high-school/college years. Often a teacher who opened their eyes and exploded the narrow views they didn't know they had, a teacher who made them think about who they were, who they want to be - and why.


Silly question from the other side of the ocean: Does anyone know what the Queen's* personal politics actually are?

WRT DUP; I described it elsewhere as Imagine if Westboro Baptist were a political party that The Rump had to ally with to get enough votes to pass anything in Congress. Sound right?

*the Queen's Speech link goes to Confidence and Supply.


"Oh, and those boundary changes are going to struggle to be implemented too, now. And there's probably a good case for asking the Electoral Commission to review them again anyway, after the huge shift in registration followed by actual increased turnout."

As a non-UK person, I had a question on this. A quick look at the results show some pretty wide variation in number of votes cast in each constituency. There's certainly going to be some variation (given turnout differences), but is there really that much variation in population by constituency? Do rotten boroughs (or at least "smelling a bit dodgy" boroughs) still exist?


It is a tenet of the UK constitution that the Queen does not have personal political opinions.

Even asking the question would be approaching a constitutional crisis. (See Charles and his letters.)


There is quite a variation in turnout by constitutency.

2015 figures range from East Dunbartonshire at 81.93% to Stoke on Trent at 51.26.


Me: Politicians are not your friends, it is their job to get you to like them. They are nothing but vessels for policies and should be discarded as soon as they falter in that regard.

Also Me: You keep Jezza's good name out of you FUCKING mouth! I will fight all of you, he's the ABSOLUTE BOY!


Speaking from the American left, I'm pretty stoked about this for a lot of reasons. Firstly a bunch of New Hampshire for Bernie veterans shuttled over to help. Kicking Messina's ass in the rematch is good, international left solidarity is better (though to be honest I'm a small enough man to say beating Messina when he couldn't have a thumb on the scale feels better than the solidarity). It is pretty great to see the point hammered home to the Dems in about the most dramatic way possible that yes, left policies can build a multiracial coalition of the young and working class, despite the Clintonites insisting that any economic regulation or universal health care is racism. It would be nice if they took that lesson to heart, but given the word about senate actions today, I doubt it.

But it is great to see the international march of the hard right stopped in its tracks, even if we haven't started rolling it back yet.

Also, there is a certain psychological salve in knowing that there in in fact a "lifeboat". That I could (in theory, I know it wouldn't actually happen) emigrate to the UK if the merger of open militias, republican politicians, and neo-nazis continues.

I will say that from facetiming with some folks working for Labour last night, don't count the Blairites out yet. Apparently they are making nice in public and going hard in local CLP elections to take back the party from the ground up. Time will tell if they do.

Remember that "answerable only to Parliament itself" means "answerable to the Tory/DUP majority", nothing else.

Not at all! The Tories (and Labour) are extremely split on the specifics of Brexit. What's the best outcome - single market in or out, customs union in or out, what level of free movement is acceptable? And that's before you get into the question of compromise - is it worth accepting slightly more freedom of movement to get the customs union? If a bespoke free-trade agreement either keeps us in the EFTA with financial services, or has neither, what's the better trade-off? The DUP are particularly pathetic on this count - they want no land border (so in the customs union) but outside free movement of people, which are totally incompatible on the grounds of logic, let alone political necessity.

Allowing parliament to vote (or at least speak) on these questions is the only way I can see May's wafer-thin majority managing to negotiate Brexit. There's no way that she'll be able to whip everyone to vote the same way on every question (just look at Anna Soubry) and if they get left out of the negotiations then it's trivially easy for them to cause utter chaos, particularly if Labour are feeling mischievous. Ruth Davidson is already threatening rebellions.

There are now quite a few politicians calling for such a cross-party compromise, not least Yvette Cooper.


"(i.e. those who cannot remember the incredible damage a high-tax hard-core Socialist government can inflict)" As opposed to the incredible damage a hard-core austerity Neoliberal government has inflicted? That game can be played both ways, you know. I'd rather we looked ahead instead of backwards. (From this, you may infer that I'm not a supporter of any of the main parties right now. Except possibly the Greens who at least attempted to bring some new ideas to the table.)


Did a bit of quick math, and it looks like, if 75 voters (the right 75 voters) had changed their votes to the Conservatives, then they would have ended up with 322 seats and a working majority. Conversely, a switch in voting intentions by 319 Conservative voters would have given Labour+SNP+LD (assuming you could make such a coalition functional) a 322 seat majority.


It's not like the Conservative economic policies were any better - continuing austerity, pissing off our largest trading partners, annoying our other trade partners (who saw us as a good way to access the EU), and reducing police funding in the face of a claimed massive terrorist threat, then getting upset that the police weren't able to do as much as she wanted them to do.

Combine that with other authoritarian views, and the Conservatives are neither better economically than Labour, nor offer a smaller state. Given that I'm going to end up with an economically illiterate government that's hell bent on increasing the size of the state, should I vote for the lot who view me with distrust, and who wish to expand the state until it's spying on everyone, or the lot who are planning to expand the state to the benefit of the lower income end of society, with a view to investing in future economic growth?


Yes, marching for the release of the terrorist Nelson Mandela was a sticky point in his history.

(The problem with meaningless guff like "publicly sympathising with known terrorists" meant to be read into so that you don't have to say "the IRA," (because then you might have to back the accusation) is it can be gleefully misinterpreted.)


The worst outcome is a series of very large constittuional crises - up to and including a resumption of terrorism in Ireland and a complete failure of the Brexit talks.

I would think that the EU strategy would be to stall until the clock runs out while giving the appearance of negotiating in good faith; certainly that seems the obvious conclusion from Article 50 itself. Given that, it probably doesn't matter much who (if anyone) is leading the negotiations on the UK side, how much mandate they have or if they can get anything through Parliament?


Thanks for that. Interesting. Looking at the electorate statistics from the electoral commission, there does seem to be a really wide range for the size of the electorate by constituency, from about 22k (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) to 109k (Isle of Wight), although 564 of the 650 total are between 61k and 84k. I guess it's a prioritization of common interests/geography, over maximum balance of population?


Yes, but that's Parliament's role not some "sharing the blame but none of the power" committee.


There is quite a bit of variation in constituency voter count, yes. The smallest constituencies (in terms of eligible voters) are various Scottish island groups - I think the very smallest is Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Western Isles/Outer Hebrides in English) at just over 21,000 voters, but there are others (Orkney and Shetland is ~35k, IIRC). On the mainland, the smallest constituencies are around 50,000, and mostly in rural areas. At the other end, the Isle of Wight (~110,000 voters) is the largest constituency by some margin; there are quite a few around the 90,000 mark, but no others near 100k, never mind over it.

This isn't ideal, obviously. Some of the more extreme-sized constituencies are delimited by unarguable boundries (see Isle of Wight and Na h-Eileanan an Iar[1]), but there is a fairly general feeling that it's a bit of a mess and unfair. But quite a few constituencies are also based to a fair extent on areas that thought of themselves as a community, and either splitting them up or squeezing in "outsiders" would be locally unpopular. So trying to even things out becomes a weird task of juggling contradictory expectations.

[1] or try suggesting that there should be constituencies that cross the Scottish border


Well, since it's my constituency, "Na h-Eileanan an Iar" (Western Isles) consists of ~22k registered voters spread out over 169 road miles in a straightish line, 2 x 1 hour ferry crossings, and 10 main inhabited islands from Butt of Lewis in the North to Vatersay. Bing estimates the journey down that spinal route as "5hr32 min in light traffic".


On the subject of lifeboats, my suggestion is New Zealand. Liberal, democratic, not going to get nuked, speaks English, less mosquitoes (I think)... Plus, if you're a LOTR fan, it's literally the Shire.


The EU neither needs to stall (the UK is transparently quite capable of stalling ourselves at this point), nor does it have any desire to do so. All the wavering and uncertainty is bad for everyone; they'd like to know what's going to happen so they can get on with implementing it.

Article 50 was explicitly written as an exit clause no-one would ever use, because the assumption was that its mere presence would calm down the hot-heads enough that it never got triggered by anyone.


I'm still really intrigued to see how the support of Davidson and Scotland with the DUP comes up against the EVEL bill from last year.

Has anyone seen a breakdown of numbers between the Tories and Labour for England alone?


Yes, the Conservatives have 297 of 533 seats on 45.6% of the vote:


The new proposed constituency boundaries are supposed to roughly equalise the size of constituencies to within +/- 5% and with fewer exceptions for geographical and community boundaries.

Which is not crazy.

There are two practical concerns with the proposals. The first is that they use registered voters rather than citizens (potential voters) as the basis of constituency boundaries and the second is that the boudaries have been set based on voter rolls taken in the slump of voter registration between elections. It is feared that the practical effect of this is that students, poor people, people who live in rented accomodation and several other groups who tend not to keep up a current registration will not be counted. As these people tend to vote Labour and not Conservative there are accusations of gerrymandering.


The French elections suggest to me there must be a finite supply of political craziness available at any one time and Trump & May have gobbled up more than their fair share.


Two rounds of voting allows people to see a preview of the results of their protest votes or apathy and give them a chance to rectify matters.


Which is a majority of 61 in England.

Also EVEL is not quite the barrier it appears.

For starters it's only a House of Commons standing order and secondly it only give English MP's a negative veto - they can avoid things they don't like, they can't approve things they do like which are not supported by the whole UK Parliament.


,,,...numbers and vote overwhelmingly for socialistsuicidal policies Look at Hollande's ratings in froggie-land, also Corbyn/Ncdonnels policies would result in the £ going to $0.50 the complete not only collapse ( which might be a good thing) but also total freezing of the property market & people like me, terrified that we would be thrown out of our lifelong homes. [ Mcdonnel's proposed property tax, which is open theft &U yes, it would screw me beyonnd belief. ] HOW MANY TIMES: Marxism does not work, any more than christianity, islam or libertarianism. Corbyn/Mcdonnell are to the left of Anuerin Bevan & their so-called socialism is more akin to Marx's than Attlee's. Remember, too, that I voted for a social-democrat/Co-operative Labour MP - returned with a very silly majority, OK?

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ which way the fallout plume from Brexit is drifting THAT is the really big question & one that both May & Corbyn ( what a surprise - not ) are avoiding & fudging. Brexit defines all of this & it's a total fuck-up. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

polling as a more trustworthy Prime Ministerial figure than May. (Greg: shut up.) Given that I wouldn't trust either of them further than I can spit, I might agree with you! ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

the UK still has a broad base of support for honest left-wing policies Yes, & what is this to do with Corbyn? Nothing at all, actually.


Things get even more extreme.

I can't find the article now (and I'm not sure it's legit), but perhaps Robert Mercer has given the DUP a huge amount of money? This would explain the following

Basically, the DUP are insisting that Farage either becomes a lord or be given a government role in regards to Brexit.


Corbyn may be a huge vote winner amongst the youngest voters (i.e. those who cannot remember the incredible damage a high-tax hard-core Socialist government can inflict)


I'm 42 and I don't remember such a government in my teenage-or-older lifetime. That argument isn't going to fly with anyone except the pensioner demographic.

Moreover, regardless of how on the mark Corbyn's economic policies are, the conservative platform is grotesque: sell of the state assets and rent them back (while tying future taxpayers to pay interest to foreign investors), actively try to kill off the disabled ("have you thought about suicide?" is one of the questions at the work assessments they're required to do), the "known terrorists" you link Corbyn to are just as much mainstream politicians these days as the DUP, and so on.


t never fails to amaze me how consistently May does precisely the wrong thing.

Yes, this, correct.

For all the burbling about wonderful Mr C HE LOST, as did May. What we need is a centrist politician, from any party at all, who could lead a national government. Any suggestions? Ruth Davidson? Caroline Pidgeon? M Portillo? [ Brain gone: long-time Labour female shadow cabinet - very out of favour with C ... dammit ] - or my own MP, Ms Creasy?


Although there is a big variation in population, and turnout, of voters across constituencies there aren't really rotten boroughs any more.

We changed from a "head of household" registers all the eligible voters to individual voters are responsible for registering themselves system a few years ago. Cunningly this disenfranchised younger voters who couldn't be bothered, at least until the Brexit referendum and this general election when lots of people registered for the first time and turned up to vote. But it may have won Callmedave the 2015 election.

Demographically, more or less, our system is pretty crap at giving good representation for various reasons. In my teens I lived in a shire for example, where spoiled ballot papers regularly polled higher than Labour. In my first vote, at 18, that was still the case. That's changed in the 34 years since then, Labour were second with a +7% swing from the Tories (basically they gained from UKIP's collapse in a first order look at the results) but Labour still lost by 25% of the votes cast. Where I live now is technically not in the shires, although every seat around me is Tory, but this seat is Labour through and through, with over 65% of the votes cast being for Labour, the Tories a dismal second with only 30% of the votes. Basically everyone else went away in this constituency and Labour gained nearly 23% of the votes, from UKIP and the Greens.

But both those seats were fairly predictable - my current one perhaps less so, if all the UKIP voters last time had voted Tory we could have gone Tory this time, but anyone with half a brain could have told you we had a lot of Labour voters voting UKIP last time too - what was shocking was places like Kensington and Canterbury, both of which have been Tory since they were created (in the case of Canterbury in 1918) going to Labour.

What the boundary commission were told to do was try to equalise, as much as possible, the number of voters per constituency and reduce the number of MPs to some lower target (600 I think). The fact they were instructed to do this by a Tory government and it hits Labour MPs harder than Tory MPs is just a coincidence...

[In fairness to the boundary commission, I don't think they're politically biased, they did the job they were asked to do as fairly as possible. However, the selection of 600 seats is politically motivated, there's no special reason to pick on that number and it's quite likely a briefing document was internally prepared to say 'this is what fucks Labour over most compared to us' before the instruction was given.]


Yep. The Overton window shifted a long way right since roughly 1989 (or, arguably, 1979 or earlier).

Corbyn, by the standards of Labour when he was first elected, appears boringly middle-of-the-road or even a closet right-winger.


It is almost a given that most young voters got to know and love a crumbled teacher exactly like that during their high-school/college years. Often a teacher who opened their eyes and exploded the narrow views they didn't know they had, a teacher who made them think about who they were, who they want to be - and why. Oh dear, you do know I taught, for about 3 years, don't you - & I still occasionally get greeted by very friendly ex=pupils. Oh dear.


THANK You Yvette Cooper was the missing name in my wishlist of PM's in # 47


In any other year (more accurately two years) I would agree with you.

But I really think the Tories will want to blame May (and Davies) for the cock-up over Brexit and will stay, notionally at least, in line as long as the DUP aren't too stupid and don't gouge them too hard. Now, I'm not an expert on Cash for Ash but it seems to suggest Arlene Foster might have really big eyes and it could all go horribly wrong. But if they can keep their eye on the prize they can win some nice concessions for Northern Ireland so they'll want to keep it going too.

But sometime around 17th June 2019 I can imagine a new Tory leader calling for a new election.

I don't make a living doing this prediction lark but unless Brexit really blows up massively before then or the DUP are just as insane as they could be it could stagger along.

Oh, or if enough Tory MPs quit or die to change the arithmetic of course.


And some of the proposed new constituencies have the locals foaming at the mouth & running shrieking in the street. This applies to where I live, in Spades, incidentally. A N Other great British fuck-Up


Also, there is a certain psychological salve in knowing that there in in fact a "lifeboat". That I could (in theory, I know it wouldn't actually happen) emigrate to the UK if

Stop right there: you almost certainly can't immigrate to the UK, unless you have a few million dollars sitting in your back pocket to qualify for an investor's visa. Otherwise you need tiresome things like a job offer, sponsors, an earned income over £32,000 a year, family ties, or a British passport (about as easy and time consuming to obtain as a US passport).

In large part the blame for this is down to one Theresa May, who hates immigrants and devoted her life in office to making it harder for them to get in. In smaller part, blame the right wing tabloids for generating scare after scare during the 1990s and 2000s over Eastern European immigration (I looked for those millions of Turkish immigrants under my bed: funnily enough, they're not hiding there).


When did you rejuvenate Charlie? Or are you really 52?


I am 69, and I don't, either. In the days when Labour was the nasty party (and disastrous for the country), it was little more socialist (even in the modern senses) than the Conservatives were then. What it was, was tribal, protectionist, almost corruptly self-benefitting and vindictive. Much like the recent Conservatives, in fact, but with a different beneficial tribe.

McDonnell seems to want to bring back those days, as does that (obscenity deleted) Owen Jones, but I don't see it in Corbyn. I don't think that his plans are viable, still less what the country needs, but that's a different matter.


Ahh, that was where it was. I knew the breakdown had to be somewhere.
So a clear majority then. Damn, was quietly hoping for more drama on that front.

My honest expectation at this point is for JC to sit back and wait for the inevitable collapse, which I'm expecting in less than six months, along with a fair bit of quiet horse trading on the ground between LD and Labour in a bunch of very tight marginals now that they know who is most likely to win in any area.

The real shift of Labour from a right wing conservative movement back to a slightly left of centre position is what delights me - I'm sick to death of rightwing authoritarian dogma being treated as gospel. I'm also highly jealous of all the talent that Scotland appears to have in its political class at the moment - pretty much every party has someone intelligent in charge at the moment, compared with a bunch of godawful types in Westminster. Although I do have a soft spot for Corbyn on the basis that he's an honest politician - he was bought decades ago and has stayed that way ever since, with a hint of compromise emerging in the latest campaign.


Now we'll have to see if Mutti can keep CDU leadership here in Germany.


Arlene Foster falling on her sword might be the price the DUP have to pay for a resumption of devolved guvmint in NI. See also Charlie's comment about McGuiness dying at exactly the wrong moment!


It goes back further, actually. Mr "something of the night" and even back to Wilson. But, yes, May took it several steps further.


The politicians you name are all right-wingers.

Interesting, Greg: your political compass seems to skew in one particular direction.


I'm also highly jealous of all the talent that Scotland appears to have in its political class at the moment - pretty much every party has someone intelligent in charge at the moment, compared with a bunch of godawful types in Westminster.

Holyrood's political culture skews young and there are virtually no coat-tails to climb. Until 2000, any Scottish politician with any ambition at all headed off to London. Then in the wake of the devolution referendum we got a parliament. It was initially populated by ex town council types and a handful of ex-MPs who couldn't cut it in Westminster — notable exceptions: Alex Salmond (Donald Dewar would have been another but for his untimely death). After the first election the seat-warmers were pushed out of the way and a new generation of energetic national-level politicians chose to climb the ladder in Scotland rather than London, which is why the oldest major Scottish party leader is 49 and both Labour and the Conservatives have energetic 30-something leaders. (Kezia Dugdale looks like an also-ran ... up against Ruth Davidson and Nichola Sturgeon. In reality, she'd be a solid contender in Westminster and probably a candidate for a shadow cabinet post before she hit 40 ... if she was there, rather than in a leadership role at 36 and struggling to turn around Scottish Labour.)


Right of Corbyn, yes. Not that that's difficult. So? See also Elderly Cynic, with whom I am in profound agreement. But two are Labour party MP's & I said: a centrist politician, from any party at all... ... didn't I?


HERE WE GO As I suggested ... Await the rabid Brexiteer's heads to explode ... We could, just could/might get lucky. In fact the worse the Brexi prospect & negotiations get, the more likely this seems. It just needs the right excuse - & I hate to say it, a second Referendum. Opinions?


Greg, take a look at The Political Compass for 2015 and look at the difference between Labour and the Conservatives. Then look at 2010, and do the same.

Now look at 2017.

All of the Blairite labour governments and their successors in any other country would be viewed as right wing authoritarian, "tory lite".

Corbyn is halfway between the centre and your average Green party in most countries, hardly the extreme left wing nutjob he's painted as.

Based on their manifesto, the Labour party at present is just below and left of centre, roughly similar to the SDLP and Plaid Cymru.


Some thoughts from this side of the Atlantic:

  • No Russian interference? How refreshing. I infer from this that they assumed May would win handily, and that she was their preferred candidate.

  • UK conservatives just had their own Mitt Romney moment of receiving a hardly believable election result. They should learn the same lesson from that the U.S. conservatives have learned since trying to govern with Rs in control of the Congress and White House: don't believe your own hype. No, we don't really want Obamacare repealed, and no, Jeremy Corbyn is not a baby-eating terrorist. Spending all your time in the conservative information bubble makes you underestimate the effectiveness of your liberal opponents. Yes, Corbyn endorsed leftist policies, but he also ran a reasonably well-organized campaign and (unlike May) seemed to actually be able to talk to real people.

  • If you took office by relying on the support of burn-it-all-down nationalists, you're going to have a hard time governing. This allows your opponents to run against you just by portraying themselves as being pragmatists (while perhaps paying lip service to he far left, which the pragmatists know will be ignored after the election). I wouldn't be surprised to see the tweed-wearing professor develop a sudden interest in making the trains run on time.

  • As a specific example of point (3) above, it's hard to run on economic issues when you just caused the value of your currency to crash by double digit percentages.

  • 69:

    I've wondered about the possibility of a second referendum, too. It seems like there is real and widespread regret over the results of the first one, and that might just be what it would take to get the EU to agree to allow a withdrawal of the Article 50 notice. Plus it might giver May some political cover either way.


    In that case, why does Mcdonnel want to steal my house through his proposed property tax based on nominal average-sale-price value? I admit that there are alternative proposals, like the value at the last point of sale, which would let me off entirely ..... Though the latter would crash the housing market, by freezing it rigid. Anyway "property" taxes simply don't work, as the French found out - they abolished theirs some time in the 1970's I think, but you'd have to look that one up, as I'm hazy on the details.

    You've just given a really good reason not to vote so-called "Green" incidentally. Load of lying posers the lot of them. If you want proper, sustainable power generation, especially for baseload ... we all know the answer to that one, but they won't touch it, because its "evil" the prats.

    Several threads ago, I pleaded for a proper Social Democratic party in this country, bu non-one, not even Charlie seems in favour of the idea, which strikes me as odd.


    It's your fault for living in London.

    And for priotizing your personal well-being ahead of the national interest as a whole.

    /nose tweak

    Anyway, the London property market is already plummeting. Thank Brexit.


    You have one. It's the SNP.

    A time traveller with a bad memory for names would also have a hard time not tagging Hillary as republican.

    I'm sorry, but as a pretty die-hard Sandernista, please let me say that this just ain't true. Especially not to a time-traveller from the 80s.

    Clinton's 2000 Senate platform, her 2008 primary platform, and her 2016 presidential platform would immediately mark her out as very clearly a Democrat if you showed them to someone from the 60s, 70s, or 80s with all party-identifying markers removed. Indeed, in some ways they would mark her out as a loony Democrat; even her 2000 level of support for LGBT+ rights would have had trouble getting a foothold among Democrats of earlier eras and would have been utterly anathema to most Republicans.

    The closest convergence you can make between Clinton (and her husband, for that matter) and Republicans is this: in the 90s, they had political positions that overlapped with some Republicans. Those Republicans, however, were the last tattered remnants of the liberal Republican wing of the party, people who were far to the left of their party, were already irrelevant, and would soon pass into history, such as John Chafee. Drawing a line from Clinton to "Republicans" on that basis is about as accurate as using Zell Miller as a baseline Democrat.

    Now, that's all still not, you know, good. Her policies are insufficient to the needs of the country. It's why I've never voted for her in a primary the four times I've had a chance to do so. (That said, it isn't like Obama's policies were sufficient to the needs of the country either. But he didn't have Iraq on his hands.) But she's not a quasi-Republican, not even historically.


    When it comes to Brexit, we see Russian involvement throughout, (as well as throughout Europe) Saudi involvement, possibly some violations of U.K. election laws, doubtless similar levels of "fake news" and/or propaganda to that which got Trump elected, and a very narrow majority. By now it is obvious to everyone that Brexit is a thoroughly rotten idea.

    Furthermore, I don't doubt that intelligence proving what a swamp the whole thing was is available to someone - GBCU monitors just as much as the NSA - so why hasn't the intelligence been released, and why is anyone taking the idea of Brexit seriously anymore?

    I get that there is a deranged fringe of racists involved, but they can Lasky-Perlmanned and sent scuttling back to their holes (it needs to be done once a generation regardless) and the whole thing paved over. So why isn't it happening?

    Here in the U.S. we've at least sicced a special prosecutor on Trump, so why aren't I hearing of similar action across the pond?


    I think what it comes down to is that socialism is very good at taking care of people (and possibly making sure they are unaffected by prejudice.) But socialism is also very bad at making business predictions (and socialism thinks it's very good at making business predictions.) Thus socialists tend to set up useful systems (NHS, for example) for taking care of people, then mess up the tax base because they don't understand the limits of their philosophy.


    Re 20:, 25 and others: I am beyond bloody tired of the right describing what, 40 years ago, would have been called centrist or moderate as equivalent to Bolshevik revolutionaries.

    In the US, Barry Goldwater, "extreme right-wing" GOP candidate who ran against LBJ in '64, gave an interview in the late '80's, before he died, and he was horrified by how far right the GOP had gone. Neoliberalism, both Blairites on your side of the Pond, and Clintonites, if I may use that, on my side, are what I've been calling Eisenhower Republicans (Ike, US President, '52-'60), We've had NO LEFT in the US since the sixties and early seventies. Until Bernie ran, what 80% or 90% of Americans knew of socialism was EXACTLY IDENTICAL to what a "Good German" knew of Jews in the late 30's.

    "Extreme taxes", ahh, yeah. In the US, we have multiple federal income tax rates, based on income. JFK got the top bracket dropped from 90%, yes, I said 90% for millionaires, though none of them paid near that, to 72%. It was that in the 70's, when USans had the highest purchasing power ever. Oh, and at that point, something like 24% of the workforce was unionized.

    Now, it's about 10% unioniszed, incomes have been stagnant, and the only thing we have to protect ourselves against Big Corp Brother is the government.

    Lower tax rates, really means the billionaires get to play Ponzi schemes with their money, and create sweatshop, near slave labor jobs elsewhere in the world.

    I, and every other supporter of Bernie that I spoke to, consider him an FDR Democrat, rather than a real socialist. I consider Corbyn an actual real-world socialist (as opposed to the self-proclaimed socialist parties here, who have the same relation to an actual political party, ready to run and govern, as a fantasy sportsball league does to actual going out and playing a game and getting hot and sweaty and off their couches).

    I'll stop here. I don't have anyone/thing I can go out and beat the everloving shit out of (stress: that condition when you can't beat the shit out of someone who truly deserves it). Can't get near the Orange Doodie, and the Universe doesn't give a shit.


    I voted for the main Brexit-opposing party in last week's GE, which means I completely wasted my vote, living as I do in an area that voted 69% leave, but used to have a Labour MP prior to 2010.

    Regrets: none.

    The election result was the ideal outcome for me, the Tories nearly lost and Labour didn't win, and Labour recovered enough ground NOT to trigger another internecine leadership battle, which Corbyn would have probably won (again).

    There was a tweet from Theresa May, or CCHQPress saying "I could lose only six seats and Corbyn could be negotiating Brexit" and the electorate obviously thought: CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

    If the Tories can't hold Kensington, Crewe & Nantwich, Canterbury and Ipswich....:O

    Nearly 50% of the 25-44 age group voted Labour this time, according to polling figures.

    Future political suicide for the right, as is Brexit, as is a confidence-and-supply arrangement with the Department of Ultraconservative Protestants


    Yay! Someone has a clue!


    The "deal" offered by U.S. Democrats goes something like this: We will vote for everything that looks like it ends some kind of prejudice. And we will vote for everything a corporation likes, however badly conceived, (with a couple minor exceptions that cross the line between the corporations/prejudice.)

    This is the "triangulation" real Democrats in the U.S. despise. Yeah, she's a DINO (Democrat In Name Only for our non-US friends) and she would have broken a fair number of those promises.


    Property taxes of the form McDonnell proposes have always done more harm than good. As an example of their sloppy (to be polite) thinking, why did they not propose restoring capital gains tax to the level of income tax? There are VERY good reasons and a LOT of experience showing that is the only sane approach.

    And, yes, that would hit me. Tough.


    This is exactly why I tagged Clinton as a DINO. If you've abandoned the principals of FDR you're not a Democrat.



    This is not a thread about American politics.


    (Polite reminder triggered when the American political commentary hit 50% on a British political thread, before the traditional comment 300 marker.)


    Sorry. I should have been more sensitive.


    I realize this is a difficult issue, but: can someone please give me a concise summary of Northern Ireland as it stands now (specifically the attitudes of Sinn Fein and the DUP)? I understand that the DUP is basically if Mike Pence ran an active militia, but I don't have much context in the grand scheme of things.


    In the nicest possible way, piss right off. I realise you are snarking purely for effect to get a rise out of me, but I can do without it thank you very much, Charlie!

    Also wait until they come for your nice little double apartment in Dunedin!

    And, I'm a lifelong Londoner, where else would I go & all my books & the kitty ( Ratatosk ) wouldn't like it either.


    @77, von hitchofen: Hey, I live in Jeremy Corbyn's constituency. So I've got an MP that some people think voted Leave in an area that was one of the highest Remain voting areas of the country. Personally, I don't think he did vote Leave, actually - he's made it clear that he's part of the "Reform from the inside" bloc that I am part of too. If the Brexit vote had gone 52/48 the other way, the EU would have been really up against it. As it is, they can just watch us squirm and avoid any of their own difficult questions. So my vote was entirely wasted too. (Actually, that's not quite true, because of the arcane "saving the deposit" ritual, in which candidates need to get >5% to not be considered frivolous. Apparently, lost deposit money goes to the Crown, which is surreal. It must have made a bundle this year...)

    However, on the subject of Brexit, I find this particular quote amazing (from the Guardian): “A broader backing for Brexit has to be built and I think she (May) recognises that,” one former minister said. “She was clear she was responsible. She agreed on the need to listen to all the wings of the party on Brexit.”

    Not the country. Not even the other 300+ MPs in the House of Commons. Just "all the wings of the party". We're screwed.


    You too? ONE: That's deliberate trolling & I'm not going to bite TWO: You already know my unprintable reply to that one, you & the "wee fishwife", both.


    VERY very good. Almost spot on.

    Remember many threads back we came to a thread-consensus that an overall tax rate of over 50% was a really bad thing, because people would either cheat or stop working or otherwise screw with the system? Corbyn & especially McDonnel simply don't get this & want to "soak the rich" - whereas what they will actually do is soak & piss off the percentage between the top 10% & the top 1% The latter, will of course, escape..... Thus rendering the whole thing pointless.

    See also Elderly Cynic @ 80 - in reply to Charlie - & my counter-snark @ 85 was written before I saw it .....


    To elaborate one the answer in 23, while the Queen's speech is delivered by the Queen it is written by the Prime Minister and the cabinet.

    Better wiki link here



    There are at least three "sides" involved & possibly 4 or 5, all jockeying for position & no-one, except a very few ultra-nutters on both the Repub ( Contnuity IRA ) & "Prod" "sides ( UVF - continuity equivalent ) want to go anywhere near another set of tTroubles. But no-one has the faintest idea how to proceed. As usual there are massive amounts of corruption & cash involved as well, plus the usual religious insanity. If you start to think about any of it, I promise you your brain will hurt.


    The former leader of the DUP, Peter Robinson, lead a mob of 'protesters' into a village over the border into a village called Clontibret, where they beat up fellow EU citizens in 'protest' at the Anglo-Irish agreement between Thatcher and the then taoiseach Garrett Fitzgerald.

    Eventually the Gardai arrested him, and drove his band of loons back over the border.

    The party was founded by 'Dr' Ian Paisley (doctorate from Bob Jones University), who ought not need any introduction.

    The DUP makes the term 'paleoconservative' look positively modern and radical.

    There is a geographic feature called the Giant's Causeway, volcanic basalt columns connecting Ireland and Scotland, and the DUP got young earth creationist viewpoint on display next to the scientific explanation at the visitor centre.

    And that's before any gets to "save Ulster from sodomy".

    So yeah, pleistoconservative


    When the likes of John Redwood and Jacob Really-Smug find the DUP are quite keen on freedom of movement and cross-border trade (considering the huge number of applications for Irish passports post 23rd June 2016 even from Unionists) they will most likely shit themselves.


    Greg, one of the big problems I've seen in London in the last decade is the hollowing out of the core by foreign money. Effectively foreign capital buys the super expensive houses as a means of getting dodgy money out of autocratic regimes and don't care about the cost or any losses in the process. The owners of those houses buy in the next ring out, and so on and so forth. I've been in and out of a lot of 1% properties in the past two years installing and reinstalling stuff for new owners.

    I'm in West Hampstead. We had a flat sell out from under us in 2011 for 750k, in 2014 despite the various financial woes it resold for 1.2m and was up again this year for 1.4.

    That sort of inflation deserves heavy taxation - there is no way I could make that sort of money legitimately in the same time period, and I have a good salary.
    But as EC points out, flipping like that is Capital Gains and should be taxed as such.

    Actually I'd be strongly in favour of a serious rewrite of the tax statutes in a great many countries - the multinational world order has really messed with most of the western world to the detriment of the resident nationals due to being able to buy the policies they need. High tax rates are the norm in Scandinavia for example, and many successful companies were founded and are still based there. The difference though is cultural, not physical.

    Also btw the SNP is legitimately a centrist (slightly authoritarian) party, just one with a third axis of "wants an independent Scotland". I agree with a surprisingly large amount of their policies, though I expect they'll hit a brick wall soon.


    At this point I'd be happy to "soak the rich" for a few years; take the money off their books and turn the billionaires back into millionaires (as they should be.)

    They'd also get to stop preparing for the apocalypse; billionaires are hated and millionaires are respected. There's a reason for that.


    So's the cat I haven't got.


    I find the thought of Jacob Really-Smug shitting himself strangely attractive! He's a really nasty piece of work, makes even Chris Grayling look nice ... Redwood is simply well past Upney - somewhere about Upminster Bridge by now, totally woof-woof & erm "mostly harmless".

    As noted elsewhere, nOw Macron has joined in saying that "you don't actually have to leave". All May needs to do now is to find an excuse to U-turn, seal the deal & then exit gracefully .....


    It's worth noting that there are demographic issues in train as well. Loosely: after the civil war, a lot of Protestants moved north from the Republic, and a fair number of Catholics moved south — ethnic cleansing in action. Both sets of migrants held grudges against the folks who'd driven them off their land (i.e. the former neighbours). The Protestant north took steps to put the boot-heel on the neck of the Catholic minority that remained up there, while the South became a rather unpleasant Catholic theocracy for some decades (and didn't have a Protestant minority to speak of).

    Over time, the Protestant community began to undergo demographic transition to low death rate/low birth rate. The Catholic community in the north is also undergoing DT, but didn't start as early. So the ratio of Protestants to Catholics in the north is dropping and is either below or close to dipping below parity.

    Any supremacist group that sees its numbers falling and thinks its going to be out-bred by the underdogs is going to double down on the oppression savagely, as we've seen in places like Israel/Palestine and Apartheid-era South Africa. Hence the lousy reception the [Catholic] civil rights movement got in the North in the sixties and seventies, culminating in the ignition of an actual mass-backed insurgency campaign. However, after about 20 years of this shit everyone was sick of it (except the hard men who had a nice profitable line in smuggling, drug dealing, and bank robbery) and once there was a clean-sheet government in the mainland for the first time in 18 years (cough, Tony Blair) it was just about possible for the tribal elders to haggle over a peace deal ... albeit as tenuous as the post-civil-war arrangement in the Lebanon. Aided by a Northern Ireland Secretary who was dying of a brain tumour and willing to go kamikaze to get a peace settlement (unafraid of the risk of assassination), republican tribal elders who'd seen the example of Nelson Mandela and wanted to get a statesmanlike obituary (Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness), unionist elders who were willing to STFU and take the EU development money (Ian Paisley), and by the most persistent angry and violent hotheads scoring a series of own goals that cost them their base of support.

    Cash helped reconcile the unionists to (eventual) catholic demographic dominance in the North. In addition, the Catholic church's reputation and ability to run a theocracy in the south imploded under the strain of a series of child abuse scandals. This probably helped reassure the unionists: they were already convinced the Catholic clergy were agents of satan, seeing them lose their grip on power in the south cooled down their more fevered frightmares about papal dictatorship.

    But the key thing a lot of foreigners don't get is that "sectarian" identity is defined in terms of religion (presbyterian/catholic), but it's actually tribal allegiance: it's almost a caste system in the north (I have been assured that Jews are "protestant" for sectarian purposes). Oh, and the presbyterian, unionist, British-identifying sectarians? They're descended from settlers from the mainland, mostly Scotland, who arrived in Ireland before the Mayflower set sail for the New England colonies ... and the settlers were in turn descended from Irish invaders who colonized Scotland. The "Brits out" narrative that used to be prevalent in Boston in the 80s and 90s was a bad joke: the "Brits" (or unionists) had more claim to reside on the Emerald Isle than the blue-blood settlers of New England.


    All May needs to do now is to find an excuse to U-turn, seal the deal & then exit gracefully .....

    Yes, but May is a deeply stupid B-list Thatcher wannabe who isn't even as smart as Thatcher was, and who can't cope with disagreement at all. (Thatcher didn't like people who argued back with her, but she'd listen and try to come up with arguments that would change their minds or at least counteract their arguments in her own mind. May doesn't believe in listening, she believes Teacher Is Always Right (and shut up at the back, there).)


    At this point it sounds like everyone is beginning to figure out who/what's really behind Brexit, they don't like it, and the ugly consequences of letting Brexit go forward are beginning to be obvious. I hope (and suspect) that a year from now it will be "Brexit? Surely I have no idea what you're talking about?" on all sides, and if that means May gets the chop... she'll be on the farm fucking pigs with CallMeDave sometime very soon.


    so that you don't have to say "the IRA," (because then you might have to back the accusation)

    Whatever you feel about Guido Fawkes' allegiances, he did gather the following in support of that position... I'll admit the bulk of it is rubbish, and a lot of it can be argued down to "well, perhaps he was just trying to open a conversation". Memorialising the terrorists who were killed at Loughgall, however, goes beyond "pragmatic negotiation" and well into "sympathising with proven murderers" (the East Tyrone ASU had killed two policemen and murdered a building contractor).


    The demographics are generally shifting in Labour's favour as time goes on without any review. People are moving out of the cities to the country, and moving from the North to the South. Over time this produces smaller seats in Labour's heartland and larger ones in the natural Tory areas.

    As for the number of seats, that was bit of horse-trading by the Coalition. The 2010 Conservative Manifesto proposed a reduction by 10%, to 585. The LibDem one went further and suggested reducing to 500. I'm not sure how they ended up with 600.

    I'm not sure you can set out to pick a number of seats that screws over your opponents the most, there is some wiggle room with the Boundary Commission so you might not end up with exactly the seats you expect.


    But the key thing a lot of foreigners don't get is that "sectarian" identity is defined in terms of religion (presbyterian/catholic), but it's actually tribal allegiance: it's almost a caste system in the north (I have been assured that Jews are "protestant" for sectarian purposes).

    It's the classic joke:

    An American goes to Belfast for a business trip. At the airport he hails a cab. The taxi driver stops him before he can get in, and says "First, before I take you anywhere, I've got to know: Are you Protestant or are you Catholic?". Guy says "Well, I'm Jewish". The cab driver says "Aye, I see... but are you a Protestant Jew or a Catholic Jew?"


    As a small foray pre-300, it's worth noting the sheer scale of the "Ash for Cash" scandal, which hits levels of the Irish banking scandals:

    In a statement, a spokesperson for the DfE said: "In regard to the cost of the RHI scheme, the Comptroller & Auditor General's report estimated the 20-year costs of the scheme, if nothing is done, to be £1,150m.

    "C&AG stated this involves 'a number of uncertainties' and represents 'the best estimate of the worst case'.

    "Based on a forecasted 3% Barnett share of the allocation for the GB scheme, the projected available budget is £660m. Based on those published figures, the maximum burden on the Northern Ireland budget would be £490m. "

    RHI scandal: RHI 'cash for ash' scandal to cost NI taxpayers £490m BBC, 23rd December, 2016. Yes, NI is on the hook for ~£490mil, the UK taxpayer the other £600 or so.

    The population of NI is ~1.8 million and has such joys as a £59.5 million budget gap for education that they're slashing / cutting from a total of £1,967 mil.

    25. The Funding Gap of £59.5m has been addressed by identifying £25.1m of Budget re-allocations and £35.5m of 2016-17 Budget reductions, leaving a net balance of £1.1m, which the Minister has agreed to allocate as the 2016-17 Contingency Fund, in line with best practice. This represents 0.06% of the total Education 2016-17 Resource budget.

    (c.f. Budget 2016-17 Department of Education Northern Ireland Government, 9th March 2016.

    For reference: Birmingham (population 1.1 mil) hits roughly £1,139.94m (source:

    Oh, and the cash-for-ash has lead to:

    a) Political stalemate / refusal to convene a government by Sinn Fein and others b) Major losses in the more 'moderate' parties (General Election 2017: SDLP and UUP lose Westminster seats BBC, 9th June 2017 c) Absolute refusal to take responsibility by any of those in charge (in fact, proudly using Twitter etc to meme about it). d) The DUP (and others) all had family members / supporters / backers using the scheme to the maximal abuse levels.

    This is the backdrop to May putting Hunt / Gove back into old positions (c.f. Hunt and the NHS).

    In any sane environment, people would be asking serious questions about that promised £350 mil / week and so on.


    It's really hard to judge whether Brexit will go away.

    The rabid Brexiteers correctly point to the fact that the pro-Brexit (in some form) parties on the mainland (+15%), and in NI (+10.3%), increased their share of the vote while various flavours of Remainers, extra referendums, have another go Remoaners and so on, largely went down, although by some electoral wizardry the Green's sole MP got an increased share of the vote and the LibDems got more 4 MPs despite losing 0.5% of their overall vote proportion.

    Now, the counter argument to that is that no one actually campaigned on Brexit, or very little. Theresa May tried it a little at various points and while Greg may have a different view, it sounded rather like the bleating of "remember this?" from someone who was desperately trying to scramble anything from a disastrous campaign to me. (I am definitely biased though.) I didn't follow every second of the campaigning, I like to pretend I have a life, but I honestly don't remember Jeremy Corbyn voluntarily talking about Brexit, although he doubtless answered questions about it in one or more of the not-debates.

    So I'm sure there was a proportion of the electorate that decided on Brexit. But many more were decided on things like social care, funding the NHS, ending austerity, ending student loans, the "dementia tax", plans for renationalising public services, investing in the police for direct numbers of bobbies on the beat and so on. A lot of those could be (theoretically) vote winners, or losers, for either side, depending on your point of view. Those seem, from people I've talked to and polls I've heard reported, to be items that gained traction with quite a lot of people. Some of them more than Brexit, some of them less, but Brexit directly wasn't a direct factor or the main factor for most people's voting. It probably helped that we had really clear water between the two big parties. This wasn't Blair juggling against Major, Hague and then Brown against Cameron, with everyone contesting for "Middle England." This was a mostly left of centre manifesto against a really pretty right-wing one and a clear choice.


    However, after about 20 years of this shit everyone was sick of it (except the hard men who had a nice profitable line in smuggling, drug dealing, and bank robbery) and once there was a clean-sheet government in the mainland for the first time in 18 years (cough, Tony Blair) it was just about possible for the tribal elders to haggle over a peace deal

    To correct you on one point... it was actually the Tories who started the talking, and achieved the first ceasefire in the 90s.

    The early 1970s were extremely violent; more soldiers died in that period than died in Afghanistan in a decade. The talking was nothing new; there were meetings between PIRA and a Conservative Home Secretary in 1972, although I'm certainly not forgetting the 1975 IRA ceasefire (Labour).

    By the mid-1970s, however, PIRA was defeated militarily and the "armed struggle" was never going to result in victory. This was the time of the switch to a cell structure, the move to more carefully planned terrorist attacks (because Darwin had dealt with the careless planners), and shortly afterwards a PIRA growing emphasis towards political means (the Dirty Protest over the removal of "Special Category" status, the hunger strikes, and Sinn Fein standing in Westminster elections).

    There were still attacks, but more effort was put into "spectaculars", in the UK if possible - e.g. the murder of Lord Mountbatten (and his grandson, and a local child helping crew the boat); the Brighton bombing; Canary Wharf; Hyde Park; the Arndale centre; Warrington; Gibraltar. This lasted through the 1980s - but after the Brighton bombing, (as Mark Urban demonstrated) it was "bodies on slabs" time, and there was a definite trend of "anyone caught carrying gun or bomb doesn't get the benefit of a warning and a chance to surrender".

    So, exit Thatcher, enter Major. The opportunity opens for a new set of negotiations, long before Blair; after all, the first serious PIRA ceasefire was in 1994:


    Thanks I knew all this, of course,but others may not.

    Re, your last section, I've told several terminally-ignorant USians, on being asked "Why don't you give Ireland back to the Irish?" My answer comes in two parts: "Which Irish? The Prod N or the catholic S?" And .. certainly, good idea - one condition though - YOU give back most of the USA to the "Amerinds" since you stole their land later - last in first out!"

    The blank incomprehension would be amusing if it wasn't tragic.


    I think what it comes down to is that socialism is very good at taking care of people (and possibly making sure they are unaffected by prejudice.) long as they're the right people...

    I spent three years living in Eastern Europe in the 1970s. No, they weren't any better at "taking care" - but if you were Nomenklatura, Party Members, you'd cracked it. Orwell wasn't joking when he wrote "Animal Farm".

    Corruption exists independent of any particular system of government. What helps most, IMHO, is transparency and separation of powers, rather than an insistence that "our way is flawless, the others are worse, and any critics are heretical and must be arrested"...


    I'm 42 and I don't remember such a government in my teenage-or-older lifetime.

    ;) Sure you're not an actress? You appear to have lost a decade ;)


    That's funny, my version of socialism involves transparency and separation of powers. So just implement it instead of the dictatorships of eastern europe and everything will be fine.


    I have a mad theory that one reason labour won Kensington and suchlike in London is that all the dodgy foreign money is buying places and not renting them out. I think someone on here said a while back that they knew of many empty streets with nobody home. This naturally reduces the number of voters available to vote, and especially of rich people able to buy such houses, who mostly vote evil tory.

    Apparently, lost deposit money goes to the Crown, which is surreal. It must have made a bundle this year...)

    Crown as in central government treasury, and ha. Estimated cost of having the snap election was around GBP130 million, so to cover the cost from retained deposits, we'd need around four hundred joke candidates per constituency. Even Maidenhead[1] only had ten lost deposits.

    [1]The PM's constituency generally attracts rather more of the, um, special candidates than anywhere else.


    Tribal loyalties in Ulster politics in map form

    Immediately before and immediately after Good Friday Agreement

    After eighteen years of the Good Friday Agreement

    A five colour map becomes a three colour map.


    I thought your Trump comments might also mention Aotearoa's display of synchronised flipping-off to the Trumpian Secretion of State. Allegedly someone is encouraging the UK to display their bare bottoms should Trump actually turn up. Although the sight of a one-legged man in what's sure to end up as an arse-kicking contest might perhaps turn out humorous?


    May's Brexit strategy?

    Despite on-going news coverage,I'm still not clear on what May's strategy was going to be in getting a better deal for the UK from the EU. (Nor do the USian political satirists/comedians/late night talk show hosts, whose staffs have been doing more research than comedy writing lately.) I would welcome a clear explanation of her plan (apart from keeping those horrid dirty foreigners out of the UK), followed by an equally clear explanation of the other parties' plans.

    Housing cool-down ...

    BTW, the two hottest housing markets in Canada (Toronto and Vancouver) recently brought in legislation to cool things down a bit ... it's a tax on (mostly foreign) property owners who buy a property and then just leave it idle/unused. This has cooled both markets somewhat. (No idea how much additional tax revenue this has generated.)

    Religion and/or tribe ...

    Was of the impression that all parts of the UK were becoming increasingly secular and non-religious, although still lagging the other western European (key EU) nations. If this is so, then it's really class rather than religion that's the issue. The class thing is also being eroded as people continue moving around chasing jobs, and the jobs they're chasing are becoming more and more esoteric and specialized requiring grad degrees. My impression from history and life/work experience is that the very educated and top management types of major corps don't give a damn about their colleague's/employees' nationality or socioeconomic background. So maybe it's time to stop propagating this myth/untruth?

    BTW - Wikipedia shows 21.1% 'unaffiliated' religion for UK total.


    Wikipedia shows 21.1% 'unaffiliated' religion for UK total.

    Falkland Islands at 31.5% (all 945 of them). Interesting that Estonia and Czech Rep are so high up, and locally I note that NZ is on 36% to Australia's 24%. Weird, I wouldn't have picked that from living in both countries (although I note that minority and joke religions are much stronger in NZ, and of course New Zealand has a state Wizard while Australia has Cardinal Pell).

    Is Anglicanism still England's official state religion? Oooh, goggle gives me this amusing rant about how Christian conduct isn't necessarily legal just because of that fact (he doesn't mention ritual cannibalism, although that is more central to Catholicism so perhaps he avoids the topic for that reason).


    Ah so that is why F Hollande's socialist guvmint in France has been such a success, then?


    Cameron (!) Has now stepped in, strongly suggesting May needs "to consult more widely". Apart from May's gross incompetence, I also blame Corbyn, who rolled over & played dead, when the "Fixed-term" was shortened & who refused to campaign on a "remain" ticket. What a pair of tossers. Even so, I can see May being eased out of the door, sometime between now & the deadline & a second referendum, on withdrawing At50. [ From Macron & Shäuble's comments, it is obvious that, "rules" notwithstanding, a very quick fix would be organised & the status quo ante restored, to everyone's relief. ] Any thoughts on this?


    Yes, but purely for ceremonial purposes, these days - with one exception.

    Some higher-up Anglican Bishops still sit in the House of Peers. Getting rid of them would be a really good move ... as opposed to the other, revolting option, of having representatives of other deluded followers of different versions of the undetectable BigSkyFairy joining them I would love to know what wanker thought of that one.


    John McDonnell does not WANT to steal your house, he's a London MP: What he does however know is that to make his manifesto costings add up he needs some tax that does not discourage productive work. Hence a tax on wealth. Since the least avoidable tax on wealth is property labour looks in that direction. Since you mention the French as an example did they not do a wealth tax recently?

    As for Yvette Cooper she might be pretty good now she is not scared of policy. Her leadership bid was so policy free in most areas she was unvotable for. Interestingly what she did propose would not have been out of place on corbyn's manifesto.

    As for the manifesto being super left wing it really isn't. Many of the proposals look like 1970s style turns of the dials. But the dials are turned so far right the end result would be not too disimmilar to the end of the first Blair term. It would be 'genuinely progressive' and still looks like it could happen 'in your lifetime' though Charlie.

    In my opinion the manifesto reads like an actual fix for many of the issues that drove people to vote for brexit. And it's about time too.


    I believe there was a view high up in Labour/Momentum that campaigning on Remain post-referendum was political suicide because they would lose the "Labour Heartlands(tm)". Hence the attempt to soften the message and effectively say "Yes, Brexit should happen, but a Brexit so soft and sensible that it's barely visible" And that once "Brexit Means Brexit" turns into something real and horrible there should be some kind of vote on it.

    So for Remainers, the question becomes how bad does the Brexit chaos have to become before Labour strategists can feel comfortable moving from SoftBrexit to NoBrexit. And further how long does this take. 6 months of half-hearted and chaotic negotiation with an intransigent EU team, no overall majority in Government and a House of Commons overwhelmingly Remain might be enough to ask for a cancellation of Art50 without Ref2.


    Since you mention the French as an example did they not do a wealth tax recently? Yes & see my # 116 Didn't work & highly unpopular.


    THIS: So for Remainers, the question becomes how bad does the Brexit chaos have to become before Labour strategists can feel comfortable moving from SoftBrexit to NoBrexit ??

    Exactly what I'm expecting & certainly hoping for. We shall see, won't we?


    I find it darkly amusing that anyone believes that increased scrutiny, criticism and ridicule of the DUP at the national level will have any effect towards changing their behaviour and policy. Nothing that the media has so far dredged up is unknown to the electorate at large in NI, and the DUP are still elected. There is a single issue that determines election results in NI: Where the parties stand on the matter of the Union, everything else is window dressing (it's pretty indisputable at this point that DUP have cost the NI taxpayer half a billion pounds-- see the Many Naméd One's post @103 for links -- and they still increased their number of seats!). Unless the DUP radically alter their stance on the Union, or unless Sinn Fein radically alter their stance, it simply does not matter what else they say or do, or indeed how the negotiations go with May and the Tories -- they have a base of support that will still vote for them.

    Also factor in: 1. Only around 10% of the population identify as "not religious", and huge percentage of the remainder support social-conservative policies on par with those of the DUP (in fact, all parties have the same stance on abortion law). 2. NI is incredibly ghettoised and parochial -- it's normal to reach adulthood without ever having mixed with people outside your own religious tribe, and almost as easy to live your whole life without a meaningful interaction with someone who doesn't share your religious, social and political affiliations.

    Do not expect the DUP, or the NI electorate, to behave as "rational actors" by UK standards.


    but his economic policies are completely barking mad

    Compared with, say, continuing to increase national debt, and a vicious austerity program over the past 7 years, punishing and brutalising the disabled, and the poor, and bonus schemes for dwp's sanctioning claimants ?

    The Tories are cruel, greedy and completely without compassion, and I wish them every harm in the world. One knocks on my door, and patronises me and mine, and they might end up a few teeth short, and I am not generally prone to violence.


    Orly? :)

    I'm 52, a huge fan, brought up in Leeds, like you, and I'm damned sure you're about the same age as me!

    Typo, I am sure. Vanity never struck me as an asset of yours.


    Oh Charlie, you silly - they are under the spare bed.


    Oh dear. Even without supporting the tories economic supposed-policies, which are also erm, "not productive" .... it's just that I think McDonnell is worse, that's all. See my repeated pleas for a rational SDP in this country. Or even a Labour Party with policies aligned with those of my incredibly popular Labour MP.

    In fact, on might take the closing sentence of the previous post & alter it to: Do not expect the DUP, or the NI electorate, to behave as "rational actors" by UK standards. Do not expect the any fucking British party, or the electorate, to behave as "rational actors" by any normal standards, I'm afraid. But that attitude gets me labelled an intellectual snob, of course, so you can't win!


    Here's a question someone who knows about NI politics can hopefully answer: given the success of the peace process, why is it that voters are gravitating to the extreme ends of the spectrum (Sinn Féin and the DUP) rather than the moderates (SDLP and the UUP)? Particularly given the cash-for-ash scandal mainly affecting the DUP and not the UUP...


    Note: Not an expert on NI, this is simply from multiple commentary sources.

    I think what happened was this:

    DUP get hit in local council (or equiv) elections[1] Sinn Fein etc get gains[2] Which leads to more polarization as the Unionists really do not want even the chance of not having a majority, thus leading to the election split where the DUP gets 10, Sinn Fein gets 7 and Independent (but medium Unionist) gets 1.

    It's a Hegelian cluster-fuck.

    The question, of course, is if anyone was using this cluster-fuck to engineer a crisis.

    [1] e.g. Cash-for-ash scandal and the party’s attitude has created anti-DUP feeling in Antrim town DUP losing its grip on Ballymena ahead of North’s election Irish Times, Feb 13th 2017

    [2] e.g DUP’s advantage over Sinn Féin slashed to one seat as UUP leader steps down after party’s poor showing Sinn Féin makes major gains in Northern Ireland elections Guardian 4th March, 2017


    [Note: not backed by any actual proof, but it's awfully similar in nature to other things we've seen in the last two years]


    Yes, I have it in my memory that the start of the (quiet) peace negotiations and the beginning of the end of the Troubles was John Major. I am not a Tory by any means, and I disliked many of the things his government did, but his actions in this (and his fight against "those bastards" in his cabinet over europe) always softens my regard for him. Though his taste in women was somewhat dodgy!


    WHAT success? The IRA had lost the war of terror by 1998, because the Brits had killed or captured almost all of their bomb-makers etc., so they changed strategy. If bloody Blair hadn't been so determined to claim the mantle of NI peacemaker, there might have been a settlement that would last, but he sold out far too much to the terrorists (not just the IRA, and not excluding the security forces). Sinn Fein are merely pursuing the IRA's war, but using other means - and the DUP isn't much better, albeit different in type. I predicted exactly such a breakdown in 1998, and so far everything has been following path I predicted (though with differences of detail, like Brexit). If I am right, expect Irish unification in 2020-2025, and another civil war or Troubles shortly after that.


    The addition of the Brexit campaign "dark money" scandal (also under reported, should be front page news) makes me wonder who has recently noticed NI as an interesting back door to influence in UK politics.

    However, having lived here a long time, having more than a passing knowledge of the history (from street level up), and having watched the Clown Car Posse that run this place up close and personal, I would suggest that anyone trying to play games here is going to be in for unpleasant surprises and disappointment. NI's reputation for stubborn pig-headed contrary-ism is not undeserved (not to say that we can't be predictably played, but often only within certain boundaries, step outside those and the reaction is likely to be difficult to predict at best).


    You predict that the Republic of Ireland will suddenly welcome the festering mess of Northern Ireland with open arms within the next 10 years?

    I think your crystal ball needs a tune up.


    Note: given the alacrity with which the EU, Macron[1], Newscorp and most importantly the City[2] (who might have the best idea of the damage a hard Brexit could do to the economy) have immediately started mentioning 'No Brexit is entirely reasonable' and/or 'Brexit needs cross-party support / discussions' and the reports that May was advised by Junker[3] to call the snap election, as well as other interests, it's hard to tell if the meta3 game was a double-Hegelian (akin to a double Dutch sandwich).

    Parsing the extreme lengths Newscorp / Dacre went to (which couldn't help but produce some kind of backlash) is hard: they appeared to be genuine and then you've the actual Brexiteers (although, actors like Gove have their own ideological axis to swing along).

    So: either an immense fuck-up or an immensely high tension move. Depends on how genuinely you take the outcome to have been. It appears to have floored / shocked most of those involved, but... there's some smart bunnies out there.

    Still, betting with restarting the Troubles is high stakes.

    [1] Emmanuel Macron says door to remain in EU is open to Britain Guardian, 14th June, 2017 [2] City leaders seek cross-party team for Brexit talks FT, 13th June, 2017 - note HSBC in there [3] Theresa May was reportedly urged to call the general election by Jean-Claude Juncker Independent, 11th June 2017

    Note: The actual left / general public seem to have been genuinely shocked, even TV pundits. Witness Frankie Boyle's New World Order BBC iPlayer, 8th June, 2017 which had some stunningly brutal 'we're totally fucked' moments / soliloquies.


    Depends on how Matrix like you think Game Theory players get. #tinfoilhatsarenowmainstream


    And that's only from the Republic's perspective.

    I can tell you that the actual appetite for re-unification in NI, no matter what the support for Sinn Fein seems to be telling you, is small. Even if they, thought whatever mechanism, win a majority of seats in the next General Election and force a border poll, it (to paraphrase Gandalf) will not pass.

    The British government are probably the only ones with any real reason to want Irish reunification, up until the election result; and now, assuming a deal is reached with DUP, they have new reasons to keep subsidizing the place.

    @ElderlyCynic, can you lay out your logic for Irish re-unification, because I cannot see it from where I'm standing? (Genuine question.)


    As the Many Naméd One alludes to (I think) @135, Brexit was a big factor in the acceleration of NI political polarization.

    There has been a slow drift to extremes, which I think is actually in part because of the Peace Process, rather than in spite of it: The constant reminder of where the extremes lead is gone, memory of the bad times is fading, anyone under 20 years old has no memory at all of the worst of the Troubles, there is no pressure to move to the middle ground (see my comment @123 about the extreme ghettoization/segration of NI society -- sounds bonkers, but it's real and is self-imposed not externally forced). Also, the middle ground parties are struggling to differentiate themselves from the more extreme pparties, they are offering nothing that is going to entice people away from the extremes (and the extremes are offering nothing that is going to drive people to the middle). There are potentially a lot of other subtle reasons for the middle losing out the extremes, but it would a long long long time to go through them all.

    Then comes Brexit, and specifically Sinn Fein's reaction: They immediately jumped on the "border poll" hobby horse and flogged it for all it was worth. It gave the DUP the perfect excuse to play on all the old sectarian, "Papish plot", sold-out to the Irish fears that still lurk just below the surface for most Northern Unionists.

    Its is, as our Many Naméd friend says, an epic cluster-fuck.


    noticed NI as an interesting back door to influence in UK politics. Putin is merely using Imperial Germany's play-book, you mean? Could be?


    I meant a Double Irish With A Dutch Sandwich (Investopedia).

    Parse it out as the N.I crisis mapped onto a UK crisis, back to NI for another crisis with a synthesis that everyone gets the MAD shivers and backs down to REALITY WINNING levels. (And HSBC probably noted that Amber Rudd was very lucky, three recounts and some dodgy postals for a 346 win: General Election 2017: Conservative Amber Rudd hold Hastings but only by 346 votes The Argus. And yes, that's a Greek mythology joke: Argus Panoptes. Let's just say: Ms Rudd is/was fairly central to the Conservative Party and City interests, it was ever doubtful she'd be voted out. But it was whisker thin, whisker thin).

    Then again, who knows.

    M4 levels exist...


    Let's say that it's not out of the realms of possibility. But as noted by the Many Naméd One, if someone is trying this then they're gambling with restarting the Troubles, and dealing with a bunch of people to whom the normal political behaviour models simply don't apply.


    Logic? What on earth does logic have to do with it? The same applied to Brexit, which I was expecting for decades, though with little idea of when. But I agree that I should have been clearer - it would probably not be as simple plain reunification. And, as always, predictions are probabilistic - my guess is that this has a 60% chance of being right. Anyway, here goes with one scenario:

    The UK fails to get an act (ANY act) together, the rabid brexiteers win by default (because there have been no effective negotiations) and the UK's economy crashes. I could explain why and how, but it's a derail. Don't think Greece - it would be MUCH worse - third-world.

    Northern Ireland is cut off from both EU and UK subsidies, and is more-or-less told to sink or swim on its own - and, yes, that might well including restrictions on immigration to England from it. The chaos continues, but Sinn Fein's leftwash means that it reverses position with the DUP.

    Eire's economy tanks, as a consequence of the UK's collapse, and Sinn Fein do the same there, backed up by large quantities of USA money, and it gets into power there.

    Sinn Fein mounts a Brexitlike campaign for unification, backed by more USA money, promises of yet more, promises of a federal system, guaranteed power for the DUP etc. and wins. Well, you know what that sort of pre-election promises are worth, and the chaos proceeds from there.

    My point is that the Sinn Fein (as in "they haven't gone away, you know") are the ONLY party in the British Isles that plan over decade timescales. In 2005, I said that the IRA Army Council had reformed, not disbanded, and have seen official documents since saying the same. And Sinn Fein does NOT behave like a political party, but like a campaign tightly controlled by a hidden organisation. There's more evidence for that, but it's a derail, and I am pretty sure that is how it is structured.


    Final thought for now (relevant to the "gambling with the Troubles" line).

    Charlie noted @97 that "after about 20 years of this shit everyone was sick of it", and for a time that was perfectly correct (and remains correct for most of the generation born in the 70's and 80's); but there is now a generation of teenagers and twentysomethings who have grown up with no direct memory of the Troubles, and with being fed stories of the Glorious Fight, and how dad/granda "won the war" and/or "was betrayed just as victory was in sight". I'm still reasonably confident that a resurgence of violence remains a low probability, but it is no longer a given that there's no desire to go back there, and the outcome of the DUP deal will be instrumental in turning the tide one way or the other.


    That is precisely why my prediction includes a civil war or restart of the Troubles. But there is negligible evidence of Putin's involvement - even less than in the USA. It's not Imperial Russia, but Imperial America, that has been pushing us into this mess.


    Ah. I see where you're coming from, and yes, I would agree that in a scenario where the British government shoves NI overboard, then Irish re-unification may well become the only viable option.

    I wouldn't even know where to start with assigning a probability to that happening. I think your 60% is a stab in the dark, but I also agree that given the repeated disasters wrought by the British government over the last 12 months, and I can't discount it altogether.


    On the question of Sinn Fein, and how beholden to the IRA they are.

    There is little to no evidence that the IRA continue to puppet Sinn Fein from behind the scenes (do they have some measure of influence? Probably, but reduced to the level of a special interest group). I think what you mistake for "being controlled by a hidden organization", is the very thing that you've highlighted earlier: Sinn Fein are a rare beast, in that they plan across decades because they have, at core, a single clear purpose. How many other political parties have a goal that stretches beyond "winning the next election"? (Let's also not forget that they also have a multi-national agenda, as they exist in a unified sense in two distinct countries and parliaments.)

    I would add that should the IRA wish to reassert direct influence in Sinn Fein, then they could almost certainly do so. But I believe that they recognize it is not currently in their interest to do so.


    I wonder whether Corybn would want to bring down May's government in the near future or whether he thinks it would be better to let them take a battering in office for 2-3 years.

    I'm unsure if he, personally, actually fancies the job of Prime Minister. He might be content to beat up the Tories for a few years and then hand over to a favoured successor (if he's able to). I suspect being Leader of the Opposition is more fun than being PM.

    I think there's also a strategic question for the wider Labour Party. How do they balance an extra 3-4 years of Tory government against the downside possibility that they might be landed with sorting out Brexit and the upside possibilty that a full term Tory government might discredit the Tories so much that they spend another decade as unelectable as they were in the late 90's and 00's.


    [Note: off topic, but for M4 readers. Might want to do a GREP to see how long ago this was predicted. You might get a shiver...]

    To get a handle on just how complex / beneath the surface I suspect the entire NI saga is, Player Three just entered the American Game:

    Anbang has taken the money it raised from Chinese savers and invested much of it abroad. Last year, Anbang spent more than $6 billion for a collection of luxury hotels across the United States. The seller of those hotels was the Blackstone Group, whose chairman and chief executive, Mr. Schwarzman, is one of Mr. Trump’s closest business advisers.

    China Detains Chairman of Anbang, Which Sought Ties With Jared Kushner NYT 13th June 2017

    *wanders off like Pooh (.gif, SFW).

    Then again: what a world where (politically enemy) corruption gets punished.


    Wait till you get the Mad Max Mad Max (imgur, SFW) jokes.


    You are right that the 60% is a guess, but it's more than a stab in the dark. Making such guesses is one of my skills, and I am more often right than most people.

    But you have misread me. I agree that the IRA, as the paramilitary organisation, WAS disbanded, at least except for the plausibly deniable "dissidents". What I said was that the controlling organisation reformed, and Sinn Fein is NOT a political party controlled by its membership - even with your proviso, that's doesn't match their behaviour, not at all. Having a single purpose does NOT cause an organisation to plan decades ahead, nor plan campaigns like military strategy. The controlling organisation is almost certainly effectively internal to Sinn Fein nowadays, but that's irrelevant to my point, which is that it is effectively the descendent of the Army Council and behaves in a similar fashion.

    I accept that the death and retirement of the old guard may change things, and I am still watching to see how things proceed, but I haven't seen any evidence of change yet (except that O'Neill is not another McGuinness, thank God). Largely for the reason you give in #142 (and assuming that the DUP and May balls it up (*)), I am expecting Sinn Fein to restart more direct action - not paramilitary, but not purely political, either. Think strikes etc., though probably not those as such. Anyway, we live in interesting times, and shall see.

    (*) Of course, they might not balls it up, but ....


    The EU neither needs to stall (the UK is transparently quite capable of stalling ourselves at this point), nor does it have any desire to do so. All the wavering and uncertainty is bad for everyone; they'd like to know what's going to happen so they can get on with implementing it.

    Article 50 was explicitly written as an exit clause no-one would ever use, because the assumption was that its mere presence would calm down the hot-heads enough that it never got triggered by anyone.

    It is also written to give the exiting country zero negotiating power, again so that no-one would ever use it. It's in the EU interest to emphasise that aspect, rather than ameliorating it. There is a fixed clock, so any uncertainty has a sharp cut-off date; no matter what, it ends in two years (maximum). The UK being a self-stalling negotiating partner is saving them a little effort, true, but stalling wasn't going to be that much effort in the first place.

    The only way any real negotiation would take place would be if the UK wants to withdraw the Article 50 notice; presumably there would be conditions to negotiate, a couple of carve-outs to give up.


    " Marxism does not work, any more than christianity"

    Sometimes a little extra cash on the side makes all the difference. Take Marx himself for example, he never would have finished Das Kapital if he hadn't been moonlighting as accordion player with a polka band. "Thank you ladies and gentlemen we're taking a little break now, but till we get back let's give a real Covent Gardens welcome to our newest player, Karl 'Mr Squeezebox' Marx with his big hit 'From each accordion to his ability, to each accordion to his needs.' Hit it Karl, a one, a two. a you know what to do..."


    What success? ... If bloody Blair hadn't been so determined to claim the mantle of NI peacemaker, there might have been a settlement that would last, but he sold out far too much to the terrorists (not just the IRA, and not excluding the security forces). Sinn Fein are merely pursuing the IRA's war, but using other means

    So; the Provisional IRA announced a ceasefire, and placed their weapons, explosives, and ammunition beyond use (or at least, the vast majority of them). Absent a few nutters limited to home-made explosives, the terrorism has stopped (yes, I accept that "they haven't gone away, you know"). Sinn Fein have changed from being the political wing of a terrorist organisation, to being a political party like the SNP.

    Exactly how is that "sold out"? Yes, there are a couple of hundred murderers who aren't in prison - but it seems like an acceptable price[1] to pay for the demonstrable triumph of peace and democracy. The last few bombs that hit the mainland caused billions in damage, and that's before you count the cost of over ten thousand soldiers permanently deployed on security tasks.

    Compare the demands of the IRA in 1972, with what they settled for in 1996. Ireland is not united, except it be by the democratic will of both North and South. The terrorists have disarmed, and pursue democracy. In other words, they lost. The bigotry is diminished (not gone), power is shared (not held exclusively by one side), and the true-believer fanatics on either side appear to be shrinking [2][3].

    I'm curious as to how you believe the situation could have been solved with "less sellout". Correspondingly, I wonder how any resurgent armed struggle would actually arm itself - exactly which foreign government is going to send trawler-loads of guns and Semtex? Because RIRA and CIRA (as well as the obvious others) have been trying and largely failing for two decades...

    [1] PIRA did manage to sort out their pension fund, courtesy of that last big robbery...

    [2] To those who don't quite "get" the bigotry angle, search Youtube for "Mason Boyne" - Robbie Coltrane playing a Scottish Orangeman on a 1980s comedy sketch show. Needless to say, it was a bit too close to the bone to have commissioned it at Ulster TV...

    [3] Check out The Ulster Fry (link to satirical news site) - the Portadown News is sadly long gone...


    Additional point about extremism that I missed earlier: From an external stand point DUP and Sinn Fein appear extreme, within Northern Ireland politics they no longer occupy the extreme ends of the spectrum. So from an internal perspective the NI electorate may be more sharply divided, but they are not voting for "extremists".


    My experience is that there has been little reduction in bigotry, we have just got better at segregating ourselves (see my previous posts, also look up how "peace walls" have been erected/extended/enhanced since the GFA) and not putting ourselves in positions where it comes to the fore. Much of the institutionalized bigotry has been removed, but scratch the surface of the majority of NI residents (especially once you get outside the urban areas -- which basically means outside Belfast) and you'll find a deep distrust of "themmuns" in abundance.


    The loss of the Portadown News is lamentable (not just for the loss of satire, also because once it's author went mainstream it became apparent that he's a bit of a prick).

    If you enjoy the Ulster Fry, I'd also recommend looking up L.A.D. (Loyalists Against Democracy) Fleg and the Dundonald Liberation Army (DLA).


    The only thing that interests me about Callmedave's comment is that it pretty much echoes his former mate Gove's from yesterday. Given they fell out of bromance over Brexit it's interesting to hear them saying the same thing. But Cameron is probably not the person to say anything - the frothing Brexiteers more or less hate him as a wimpish Remoaner. The former Remainers largely hate him for having the referendum and landing us in this mess.

    As I've commented before, although I don't think it is the real reason for their voting, >82% of the electorate voted for parties standing on some flavour of a pro-Brexit ticket. As a Remain voter, I'm one of those that has switched to "get on with it, damn it!" But, I could be swayed by a political leader who stood up and said "Let's stuff the referendum, no deal is as good a remaining, lets remain!" I certainly can't see May, who hates the ECJ and the EHRA with a passion and seems to see this as a good wheeze to get out of them too although they're not tied up with EU membership, doing that. Although I like Corbyn a lot more than you, I can't see him doing it either. If May is pushed before March 2019, and a new Tory leader might do it, if the EU have made it clear just how crappy Brexit will be. His or her only hope will be to instantly go to the country and see what the fuck happens - but if Brexit is clearly going to be a disaster they could paint it as "I saved us from that mess May was going to get us into" and Corbyn is left in an awkward place (although not an impossible one necessarily).


    Anyway "property" taxes simply don't work, as the French found out - they abolished theirs some time in the 1970's I think,
    Did the heck as like. I, like every other property owner, including farmers, pay my "taxe foncier" every year. About 1,600 EUR for my ~500,000 EUR house.


    he's made it clear that he's part of the "Reform from the inside" bloc that I am part of too. If the Brexit vote had gone 52/48 the other way, the EU would have been really up against it. As it is, they can just watch us squirm and avoid any of their own difficult questions.
    Ah, I love the smell of EU reform in the morning.

    So, what are your proposals?


    Right. And that was an obvious result of bloody Blair's actions - whether the abscess could have been lanced effectively isn't clear, but he deliberately threw away the opportunity, and did almost the opposite of what was being called for by the genuine peacemakers (incidentally shafting them politically). I could respond to Martin, but I am sick and tired of his abusive misrepresentations - let me just say that what he posted in #151 is a little, er, rose-tinted as well as missing most of the main issues. I could expand if YOU want, but I suspect that you know the issues I mean.


    [ The French wealth tax ] Didn't work & highly unpopular.
    Greg, please stop pontificating about the French tax system, you obviously don't have a clue.

    The wealth tax (ISF -- "Impôt de solidarité sur la fortune") was put into place under Mitterand and is still in place. One candidate in the last elections proposed abolishing it and lost.

    It is a pain in the arse to calculate, and, obviously I'd rather not have to pay it, but "highly unpopular" is total bollocks.


    0.32% is less than I pay in rates, in a low-rate area. That's very different from what McDonnell seems to have been proposing, though the manifesto merely says that wealth taxes should be considered. Greg is old enough to remember the vindictive taxation schemes of the 1950s and 1960s.


    I could respond to Martin, but I am sick and tired of his abusive misrepresentations

    ?Eh? I'm genuinely surprised.

    You said he sold out too much, I suggested that this was arguable. I'm curious as to how quoting you and then politely addressing the point counts as "abusive misrepresentation"...

    Are you complaining that I discussed what you said, rather than what you meant?


    Every time I have responded to you on much matters, you have then misrepresented my replies, and used that to become abusive. Enough is enough.


    I certainly can't see May, who hates the ECJ and the EHRA with a passion and seems to see this as a good wheeze to get out of them too although they're not tied up with EU membership, doing that

    That's the main push behind her being pro Brexit I expect - in order to get out from under the ECJ you first have to leave the EU since the EU (and single market) is explicitly under the jurisdiction of the ECJ, so there is no way out while still being a member.

    Ironically the ECtHR has no jurisdiction over the EU per se as yet, it applies to the individual nations of the larger Council of Europe. In theory we could leave that without leaving the EU, in practice that would be extremely difficult.


    It's HER main reason, for sure. Would that Churchill were here today :-(


    Yeah, but I also pay "rates" (taxe d'habitation), about another 1,500 EUR. I was just pointing out that more or less anything Greg says about French taxation is wrong.

    (My commune imposes more or less exactly the average rate, the range is from 9% of some meaningless number to 52% of the meaningless number, we're at 26%. The advantages of 72 years of uninterrupted communist rule.)


    OK. I am not denying that :-) If I recall, I pay c. 3,300 quid (including water etc.) on a house which I speculate would go for about 500 grand - and, as I say, is a low-rate area.

    WHAT success?

    Well, the traditional metric for a "peace process" is peace, and Northern Ireland has been a lot quieter since the GFA. AFAIK, both sides seemed to be working together very productively at Stormont, old tensions were dying down, and when power-sharing collapsed recently it was due to a corruption scandal rather than anything Troubles-related.

    Given the Docklands and Manchester bombings were only a few years previously, I don't see your argument that the IRA was winding down or running out of nutters; everything seems consistent with the hypothesis that the peace process demonstrated to both sides that the violent cycle could be broken, and they seized the opportunity with both hands (and one eye on the perfidious foe, of course). Could you elaborate?


    There were plenty of nutters, but they were running out of experts. Look a bit deeper, including at the few official documents describing the situation in 1998 that are accessible. And, if you believe that the two sides were working together very productively and the cash for ash scandal was the only reason for the collapse of power sharing, I have this lough to sell you ....


    Given last night's tragedy in North Kensington (which the Guardian is going full bat for Liberal inanity by mislabeling "near Nottinghill"), things to note:

    .... for all the people involved.

    (You might note the slightly robotic style; coping mechanism).


    1 There's nothing more /latecapitalism than winning the long-term Conservative seat by a scant 20 votes for the very poorest in the catchment area to be killed en mass through bad materials and slack rules enforcement (which is what it looks increasingly like - the subcontractor for the job 'liquidated' very soon after the contract was done, to be reformed with the same guy leading it under a new LLC and the price tag is suspiciously low) with a fire service stripped to the bone. I'd give links (and can defend each statement with proof), but Host is Out-of-Town, so no potential libel suites. Let's just say: I'm not the only one out there sharing this view. 2 Mr George Osborne proves that not only is he not very good at the paper business, but is getting a massive drubbing on Twitter for it while he's apparently in Naples for something or other (you can look that one up for yourself): Here's our final edition @EveningStandard on this sad day George Osborne, Twitter, 14th June 2017. Let's just say the links are full of protests, links to how Conservatives voted on Landlord 2014 rules put forth by Labor etc. 3 Allegedly / Reportedly the Queen's speech has been delayed more by the disaster. Don't expect anything Government related (there might be a commiseration but that's different) until Ascot or after.


    So: I don't think this is going to be a pretty one, or avoidable since May, you know, already sacked the guy responsible for it. Oh, and I don't think Mr Osborne is looking too pretty to US assets. (Then again, the GOP just got shot up, so expect that to go bugshit insane and ignore the outside world for a few weeks anyhow).


    We also shouldn't forget the government of the day laundering over a billion in IRA funds, as pointed out by Charlie back in 2010.

    I'm fairly certain quite a bit of the pre-millennium boom was funded from dodgy cash while making the rest of it available for the senior nutters from both sides to have a steady income.


    There were plenty of nutters, but they were running out of experts.

    Not sure what "experts" you mean here.

    Anyway, a more relevant factor may be that by the mid-90s they were, in the words of one commentator, "touted to b*ggery". The Security Forces didn't know everything, couldn't stop everything, and couldn't predict everything in advance (the delights of the cell structure), but had some fairly high-level sources on the inside, and some pretty good intelligence-gathering capabilities on the outside.

    See "Stakeknife".


    "Working together very productively" seen as a relative measure compared to NI history, as opposed to objectively compared to a standard Western democracy (if such a beast exists), is not too far from accurate. They may not have been productive at every turn, but in having moved away from (literally) howling for each other's blood they had made strides that were almost unthinkable not that long ago.


    I have (elsewhere) compared the bigotry and sectarianism in Ni to an addiction, and it is of course almost impossible to help an addict until they want to be helped. I don't think that the majority of people in NI are yet willing to let go of the past enough to really "lance the abscess" -- it is too woven through cultural/tribal identities in NI to be solved on anything less than a generational time scale, and expecting politicians thinking no further than the next election cycle to invest in solving it (never mind the local NI pols who reliably ride to victory on a wave after waved of inflated sectarian tensions) is a fool's errand.

    I can't help but feel (as you say), that an opportunity to do better may have been lost for another generation.


    As I say, I'm certainly no expert on the situation!

    Why do you say that the GFA was too positive for the republican side? What further concessions should they have had to make? Or should it not have been signed at all - are you saying that the republicans had almost lost the war, and it was unnecessary to give them anything in return for their surrender?

    I'm just curious, because you're the first person I've met (other than DUP nutters) who has such a negative opinion of the GFA. And you seem to know what you're talking about :)

    (incidentally, has someone had a word with CiaD? They seem remarkably lucid & non-trollish in this thread, a marked improvement!)


    [Host is on business; people don't seem to understand it's mostly humor / pratting around anyhow (Just: very different style than you're used to, I suspect). And London (again) - so lucid straight talk with accurate data and no YT music videos. Shocking, I know. Go look at the .gif].


    I was afraid of the first - it's obviously true for a large number, but I didn't realise that it was still a majority - I remember Yugoslavia, which SEEMED calm :-( In #172, I agree, but I was/am using the measure of making actual progress in the direction of long-term improvement for "very productively"; I accept that even a crippled government is better than it could be.


    I did note the lack of the latest Bronto Skylifts, which can put a working rescue platform over 100m up, say about floor 33 of a building.


    I didn't say the repblican side - I said "the terrorists (not just the IRA, and not excluding the security forces)". If the negotiators had been left alone, it might have taken an extra year, but there is a chance that they could have produced an agreement that would have started to heal the rifts. Here are some of the points that were made at the time (NOT just by people like me):

    A peace and reconciliation mechanism with teeth or, at the VERY least, information on the fate of the disappeared and an admission that the security forces did exceed the law. This was probably blocked by Whitehall and the RUC as much as the IRA.

    Excluding those responsible for the violence (on all sides) or perhaps only the worst offenders from political and governmental positions. Again, that would have needed to apply to all parties, which would have been tricky.

    Tackling the segregation in housing and schooling head on, rather than sweeping it under the carpet.

    NOT conflating actions that would be illegal in warfare (under the Geneva convention) with merely breaking the law. And, God help us, Blair did that :-(



    I didn't mean to make it about US politics; apologies if it seemed that way.

    The reason I went on in 76 was a) to discuss varieties and realities of socialism, as opposed to Murdoch's media & libertarian view of it; and b) I spoke of US tax rates as evidence for my point of view, that soaking the rich does not result in bad economic results.

    Let me also note that we've seen hints that dark US money was funnelled into the Brexit campaign, and the racism in aid of the ultrawealthy (as it usually is) is starting to look too internationally tied-together.

    This is not my 21st Century....


    One has to make money to stay alive and functional, even if one is not living in the desired future yet.

    And Communism (tm) is, of course, secular millinarianism. Socialism is intended for the real world, to improve life for the 99% of us.

    For dissenters, kindly point, in the above statements, to where I even suggest it's The Perfection of Human Ordering.


    I agree with you on about half of your points... but have my doubts about how much was realistically achievable, and worth the risk of delay / risk of failure for any peace agreement. "Excellence is the enemy of Good Enough", and all that.

    Tackling the segregation in housing and schooling head on, rather than sweeping it under the carpet.

    This most of all. I agree heartily about the schools - but it's not in the gift of the terrorists, and would probably get classed as "out of scope" / "too difficult". We can't even solve it in Edinburgh, let alone Glasgow. It's up to parents, not terrorists, and would make an instant cause celebre for any political splinter-group on either side.

    A significant factor in where people choose to live is "near to a good school"; so the housing thing is both coupled and tricky - I'd suggest it could only be addressed within council housing as old stock was replaced with new. You can't force private sector customers to rent or buy houses in a particular location...

    Excluding those responsible for the violence (on all sides) or perhaps only the worst offenders from political and governmental positions. Again, that would have needed to apply to all parties, which would have been tricky.

    Difficult, because how do you define "those responsible"? They're the ones who are the natural leaders, who command the following. There's a tradition of terrorists/freedom fighters becoming political leaders - see Israel, Zimbabwe, Indonesia, Vietnam. If you bar them, they become puppet masters - at least by including them, they have to face the consequences of their actions. I'd suggest "leading the Education Department" was a damn sight harder than "leading the Army Council" (McGuiness).

    A peace and reconciliation mechanism with teeth or, at the VERY least, information on the fate of the disappeared and an admission that the security forces did exceed the law. This was probably blocked by Whitehall and the RUC as much as the IRA.

    I agree that "Peace and reconciliation with teeth" is likely the hardest to achieve. The South Africans appeared to get it to work, and they had BOSS doing stuff beyond any of the allegations against the the RUC (the SSU, while reprehensible, was extremely limited). However, the South Africans had their own issues - Winnie Mandela didn't exactly come clean about Mandela United, and it hasn't solved the accusations of corruption against Jacob Zuma.


    (Also partly in response to Martin @181)

    All of the issues you mention would have taken a long time to resolve (particularly the segregation issue -- see my previous comments, and also Some of the post nuts Martin makes), and pushing too far with them or taking too long to reach agreement would have had an excellent chance of re-igniting the violence. I think the GFA was the right thing to do, but what was bungled was the follow up -- Blair & Co pretty much dusted their hands off, patted each other on the back with a hearty "job well done lads", and then went back to ignoring NI.

    As a side note: One of the things that rankled with many parties and many NI citizens was the shoddy treatment and sidelining of Mo Mowlam.

    I'm probably painting things a little blacker than they really are, I don't think there's the level of animosity and hatred simmering below the surface to produce something on the scale of Yugoslavia, but there is still a lot of distrust, fear, and misunderstanding.


    "[NZ is] literally the Shire."

    No it bloody isn't! I should know, I live there. Bag End is about 5 miles away from me. I've also been up Weathertop sufficiently often to recognise the view from it on first reading, long before websites arose to provide confirmation. AFAIK Tolkien never even went to NZ.


    I read that entry all the way through to the end where OGH closed the topic. Did y'all eventually figure out what it was all about?

    Was there ever really a mysterious Foundation-X or had Lord James finally forgotten what the 'J' stood for?


    I spent three years living in Eastern Europe in the 1970s. No, they weren't any better at "taking care" - but if you were...

    I really meant more what the current crop of rightwinger call socialism; urges towards equality, single-payer health plans, a better gini-coefficient, etc., not Russian-style communism. However, even in that regard Communism made some real improvments in health care in Russia, at least up to the 1970s or so, when things started to ossify.


    Yes, that's very close to my view, though I would, just, have voted against the GFA. But several of the mistakes I mentioned were not part of the GFA but were later actions - e.g. my last point was entirely later. And I forgot to mention the way that the British government turned a blind eye to the Mafia-style activities.


    I remember there being a constant trickle of reports of Westerners arranging to be treated in the USSR because they were better at dealing with whatever the patient's condition was than the West. (Can't remember what sort of treatments were involved, but I think they were mainly, though not exclusively, various specialised surgical procedures.) I think health care in the region has not done all that well out of the wall coming down.


    Anecdotal quote from resident of former Yugoslavia: "In Yugoslavia everybody loved each other. We had to love each other because there was a policeman on every corner to make sure everybody loved each other very much."

    "Yugoslavia" seems to me a half-reasonable match for Ireland - different factions in comparable numbers, who hate each other, but who have never been able to do anything much about really dealing with the differences because of several centuries of imperialistic-type buggering around with their politics. Conditions which lift, weaken or profoundly alter that perennial distraction then result in "catching up for lost time" on the factional matters, and the surge expresses itself in guns. I think it's a closer match than South Africa (sort-of mentioned by Charlie earlier), where the principal factions were defined by race, one greatly outnumbered the other, and the change of regime brought about a great reduction in political violence because a huge majority were a lot better off for it.


    And ... if you thought the DUP were nutters. TRY THIS from the just-resigned "leader" of a mainstream Brit/UK political party And some people wonder why I'm an atheist ......


    Amendment: ..."Sometimes a little extra capitalist cash on the side makes all the difference. " Which is why marxism doesn't work, oops.


    And I forgot to mention the way that the British government turned a blind eye to the Mafia-style activities.

    Not sure about that... Slab Murphy isn't quite the property magnate he once was, courtesy of the Assets Recovery Agency in the UK and the Criminal Assets Bureau in the Republic (they waited until a whole ten days after the confirmation that decommissioning had been completed).

    The problem isn't knowing about it, it's being able to convict it in a court of law. It's a wicked problem to solve, just ask the French, Italians, USAians...

    Note that the whole "protection" thing meant that during the Troubles there weren't just back channels between PIRA and Westminster, they existed between organisations with the letter 'I' and the letter 'U' in their acronyms... divided it all up, wouldn't want a turf war. Or to bomb the geese laying golden eggs.

    We used to live just up the road from a garage that refused to pay protection. So it would get firebombed every so often, and the owner would rebuild from the insurance payout. Over a few years, it went from "garage forecourt" to "garage, restaurant, motel complex". Apparently, it got to the point where Brigade HQ would start wondering whether it was about time for the White Horse Inn to get bombed again...


    Corbyn hasn't been particularly impressive as opposition leader before the election, but then he was hamstrung by all the pillocks in his own party insisting that nobody would vote for him (apparently his candidacy for leadership inspiring lots of people to join the Labour party so that they could vote for him didn't count). Now that it has been demonstrated that people really do want to vote for him and in large numbers too, most of the pillocks seem to be shutting up, so hopefully now he'll be able to concentrate on attacking the Tories rather than defending himself against internal saboteurs.

    (Interesting to see how the pillock faction are so keen to dodge having to admit to themselves that they were wrong by putting it all down to "all the young voters voting for the first time". It would be healthier and more valuable for them (a) to just accept their mistake, and (b) acknowledge that there exist older voters (for I can't imagine I'm the only one) who (α) would not have voted Labour had Corbyn not been in charge (I'd probably have voted Green), but changed their minds once there was a decent left-wing mainstream choice, and (β) then when the manifesto came out, had some feeling akin to my own astonished delight at seeing for the first time ever a list of policies which were nearly all things I was between happy and eager to vote for, instead of the usual choice based on which party had the shortest list of things I was eager to vote against. Positivity replacing negativity must surely act as a great encouragement to vote.)

    Your third paragraph is probably not answerable yet. I was quite furious at May calling the election because I was looking forward to seeing the Tories having to call an election right around the point of maximum reaction to the maximal fuckup they were on course to make of leaving the EU, getting wiped out, and becoming unelectable for decades, and dodging that by calling an early one that everyone thought would be a Tory landslide - subverting her own party's fixed-term act to do so - was a distinct cheat. But now we are in the position where the Tories resemble a fissile nucleus that has absorbed a neutron and is still in the stage of having tummy-rumbles before the interesting bit happens. Until it becomes clearer whether that's inelastic scattering, absorption with gamma emission, or fission, and there's also some indication of what the emitted particles are likely to hit, I don't see any reasonable way to decide one's own response.


    and dodging that by calling an early one that everyone thought would be a Tory landslide - subverting her own party's fixed-term act to do so - was a distinct cheat.

    I though the Fixed Term Act was a LibDem coalition "partner" thing. It was pretty obviously written to have enough loopholes to allow the government of the day to dash for the polls at the most opportune time for themselves regardless. At worst they might have to call for a vote of no confidence in themselves with a three-line whip and dare the opposition to vote against, confirming they in fact had confidence in the Other Party's governmental chops, and still lose since they had a working majority at that point.


    Note: Not an expert on NI Hah, that just means you haven't done the 10000 subjective hours[1]. :-)

    [1] Highly variable actually (2014 paper): legal or researchgate, dunno

    p.s. interesting discussion here; staying out of it as a relatively ignorant American.


    In honesty, no. Suspicion is that it was genuine though, because that particular story died hard within a week. It just literally vanished, and I didn't think that was still possible in the modern world. When the Powers That Be really want something quashed, by god it gets quashed.


    "As it turns out, Corbyn is a huge vote winner. His supposedly crazy left wing team can deliver a costed, sensible, mainstream Labour manifesto."

    That word is probably the cause of more political sewage than anything else over the last several years, and apparently without valid justification. My own view on the matter has been along the lines of "it doesn't matter, it's all bollocks anyway, whether the money's "there" or not depends on how much the politicians want it to be "there", and the confirmation is simply in looking at what it does and doesn't get spent on and how." But it turns out that it's also bollocks according to the arbiters of bollocks, and what the problem really comes down to is that the mere dealers in bollocks are a nut short of a full sack.

    The real difficulty is trying to make people aware of this, partly because the contrary view is such a handy stick for the right to beat the left with that it's become ingrained, and partly because it involves dealing with concepts and arguments which are bollocks on acid, but nevertheless can and should be accepted as valid because the entire phase space is bounded by a scrotum. I think it was Charlie who posted a link to a page setting out the argument only the other day, and it was not the first such explanation I've seen, but it's so crazy it's actually painful to read, so I'll try to summarise it and put it in a framework intended to defuse the insanity. It goes something like this:

    Nobody actually runs this shit; the most they do is poke the blob to see it wobble while basically letting it run itself. They cite the USSR in justification, but the mistake there is that what the USSR (and regimes like it) were really doing was just not-actually-running it in a different way. The real reason nobody runs it is that it is hard; it would take effort, and also imagination, and they'd have to stop doing coke and smoke weed instead.

    Because nobody runs it, it doesn't run according to sensible rules. But that doesn't mean it runs to no rules; instead it runs to rules handed down by the fairies. These rules are barking mad and make no fucking sense at all, but it's so much easier just to go with the flow that people completely forget it's even possible to make up their own sensible rules instead, and end up according the fairy rules the status of natural laws, in full measure and without regard to its inappropriateness.

    Because the rules are barking mad, more or less nobody understands them. Note that, in this context, "understand" means some appreciation rather more abstract than it does in the phrase "understanding quantum mechanics". Such people do exist, but they aren't governments. They live in towers and talk to each other in a language that nobody outside the towers speaks. There's probably a better chance of any given parliament including a member who understands quantum mechanics.

    Because governments don't understand them, but still have to try and act as if they did, they make up their own simpler versions based on common sense. These, naturally, go like what anyone would come up with from their own experience. Things like if you pay for this you can't pay for that, and getting into debt is dead and chewed, so if you want to pay for this and that you have to get more money off people. After all, everyone knows that. As well as being easy to understand, this brings the additional advantage that they can stop voters wanting things by telling them they'd have to get more money off them.

    Because they make up their own rules to suit what they can understand (instead of asking the people in the towers what the rules are and not worrying about not understanding them), they miss out on the vital point that there is a whole different set of rules for governments.

    And the government rules say that if you are a government you get to do magic. You can do all the stuff you want to do and just magic up the money to pay for it. It's bonkers, but it's true. Just like everyone wishes they could do themselves but knows it can't happen. Just like all the fairy stories about bottomless purses and magic wallets. Because the rules are a fairy story. All you have to do is ask the fairy story experts.

    What it boils down to is that the government needs to really believe in fairies, instead of just saying that they do and editing the fairy stories to remove the magic bits.

    Now how do you put that over in a tweet?


    Sorry. I've watched the movies too much, I can't disassociate the two. I know Tolkien based the Shire on rural England before industrialization. Also, for the record, living next to Bag End would be amazing.

    On a side note, why oh why do people say they want to live in Middle-Earth (or similar worlds)? While I may enjoy reading/watching about it, I have no desire to live in a medieval world that just so happens to have orcs/dragons/trolls/angry fallen angels in addition to child mortality rates that make the Third World look good, no vaccines, no democracy, and rampant poverty.


    why oh why do people say they want to live in Middle-Earth (or similar worlds)?

    I believe it was Echo and the Bunnymen who observed that "people are strange".

    I can understand people who want to live in various science fiction universes because they are explicitly about "after we solve the obvious problems, what happens?". The Culture springs to mind as one obvious example. In some ways Heinlein's The Number of the Beast would be the best of the lot because of the ability to travel between fictional worlds - hit The Culture to tool up and you might even survive Middle Earth.

    But anyone who wants to live in the Atrocity Files is missing more than a sandwich.


    On a side note, why oh why do people say they want to live in Middle-Earth (or similar worlds)?

    Now that it's summer here on the Northern hemisphere and at least here people are going to summer cottages, I am of the opinion that we invented plumbing thousands of years ago, so why do we still have buildings where people spend days without it?

    In Finland, not all summer cottages have plumbing, or even running water. Some people like that, but I can spend at most a couple of days a year in such conditions and then realize that technology has its benefits.


    Obligatory Occam'ing

    Or nobody wanted that much Crazy on themselves.


    Now that it has been demonstrated that people really do want to vote for him ... Maybe, or maybe they were simply voting against May? Corbyn's pathetic performance over Brexit is ... unimpressive.


    At the very least, over 50% correct. That was one of the Madwomwan's great failings ... she believed that running a country's economy was no different to running a Grantham shop's economy ......


    RE: the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act.

    This was actually a noble effort on the part of the Lib Dems to fix one of the (literally hundreds of) things wrong with our "democracy". If the timing of the election is determined by the government then that's a big advantage to them - they can call one when they're doing well! - so we should take that advantage away to balance the playing field. Great idea!

    ... except not, for two reasons which seem obvious now. Firstly, one of the advantages of unpredictable elections was that it limited the campaign length; if you know there's an election five years away then you start campaigning from five years away (as the US does, albeit for 2 years due to midterms). In the worst case, you get what Osborne planned, where you hammer the economy with hugely damaging policies and cuts for the first three years, then spend a little in the last two - and lo & behold the economy is recovering and everyone only cares about the direction of travel.

    Secondly, the UK parliament is sovereign to an extent lots of people (particularly Brexiteers) don't seem to realise; it has absolute power, not bound by pathetic minutiae like time or space (Acts can be retroactive and apply outside the UK, for instance). Included in this is the ability to counteract itself; parliament is not bound by its own past actions, and this never requires more than a simple majority. So if the government wanted to call an election, rather than messing around with 2/3rds majorities or no-confidence votes, they could just use a 50%+1 majority to pass an act like:

    "Notwithstanding the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, an election will be held on the 5th of October, 2017."

    ... which will of course be easy, as they're the government, so already have a 50%+1 majority of the house.


    Actually, I'm more concerned about why, holding those views, he felt able to stand for the party leadership in the first place.


    The Doors ? I remember it in the soundtrack for The Lost Boys.


    But that's just common sense and applies to most Governments although I give you the retro-activity is particularly nasty. Why would anyone bind themselves 100% by past decisions regardless of circumstance.

    The point of legislation like the fixed term act is that it provides an explicit (if virtual) barrier to doing things without sufficient thought - it doesn't stop a parliament going against it but it does provide additional scrutiny.


    The YouGov poll released yesterday showed a very clear pattern of younger people voting Labour and older people Conservative. As expected. The trope is that people get less idealistic and more self-interested as they get older. Is that a fixed rule though? What will the pattern be in 10 years? Is there any reason to think that the younger lefties will shift right? Or will we get a bump in leftist voting that passes through the generations.

    In other words, could we be free forever of the neoliberal Tory wreckers once a few oldsters shuffle off?


    Many systems have it that laws amending the constitution require a supermajority; in the case of the US, they additionally have to be ratified by 75% of the states. The UK is unusual in having no separation between constitution-altering Acts and everyday nonsense like the Dangerous Dogs Act.


    Almost a shame - its the most interesting (in the chinese sense) thing he's said since he became Lib-Dem leader.

    Still not entirely sure if its a fig leaf for his total inability to engage with the public or former lib-dem supporters.

    Cable is probably a good interim choice who can actually engage (if polarise) with the public and media, needs to mentor/groom someone younger though as at 74 I don't believe he has more than 1 election left in him, and that's only if the Tories don't go full term. He'll be pushing 80 at the next scheduled election.


    Britain doesn't have a Constitution, it has a number of "it seemed like a good idea at the time" inherited principles and a lot more modern "make it up as we go along" fudges and handwaving going on. There are benefits to this approach -- watching the US run into the buffers because of the inflexibility of the Slaveholder's Wishlist after a couple of hundred years of progress shows the weakness of having the howto: "Nation-state for Dummies" text engraved in stone.

    The one principle that holds the hardest and is at the core of Britain's governance is that Parliament is supreme and any given Parliament cannot be constrained by any laws any other Parliament has passed before. Acts can be overturned or modified by the same or a successor Parliament. All else is dreams and whispers (and that includes the Judiciary, Supreme Court and all).


    I'm using "constitution" in the sense of "formal laws governing how the state is run". The UK certainly does have a constitution, it's just distributed across an enormous number of Acts of Parliament, judicial decisions, and royal proclamations. That it isn't written down in one place is immaterial.

    No constitution, whether UK-style or US-style, is free from fudges and handwaving; laws are always a long way from what a mathematician would call formal correctness, as society is much too complex and dynamic to permit loophole-free legislation. That's why we (both) have a Supreme Court.

    Adding a supermajority clause to the UK constitution would be virtually impossible, certainly, given the difficulty around the question "is this a constitutional matter or not". It would also be a long way down my list of priorities for fixing British democracy (#1: PR). But that doesn't mean such clauses don't exist elsewhere, nor that they are a bad idea.


    And people think that I am, er, eccentric for saying that we should abandon this pretence at representative democracy and go back to government by the Sovereign in Council - much cheaper, much more amusing, at least as effective, and at least as democratic (whatever that means).

    I have had to abandon the Nuke Whitehall party, because the last draconian Terrorism Act gives no leeway for satire. But I am also perfectly serious that much of the political harm in this country is down to the stranglehold of the mandarinate.


    And Osborne's. I compare it to running a business. If it starts to go into the red, it is catastrophic to cut out investment (i.e. R&D, upgrading equipment, pursuing new markets), because that will give a short-term benefit and a guaranteed long-term collapse, as can be seen from many, many examples. But that has been the policy of all UK governments for the past 30 years :-(


    Because he is an intellectual lightweight, and both a poor Christian and poor Liberal. There is no conflict in the Gospels (or relevant parts of the Acts) - in particular, Jesus said NOTHING about any form of non-adulterous sex, and was non-condemnatory about that (despite it being a breach of the Decalog).


    That's probably fair, particularly given that there seems to be some disconnect between whether a Christian should apply the entire Bible, only the New Testament, or cheery-pick.


    None of the previous Acts of Parliament, judicial decisions and Royal proclamations you mention constrain Parliament from doing what it wants when it wants. Parliament goes along with the gag that Supreme Court decisions and judicial reviews of legislation are to be taken into account but there is no solemn piece of paper anywhere that says they can't pass legislation to, say, order every left-handed person to be rounded up and shot. The courts might tut-tut but they have no actual power to do anything about that legislation other than habit and precedence. The legislators in Parliament have not sworn an oath to uphold a Slaver's Wishlist written on parchment and interpreted by the American Supreme Court, they have sworn an oath to the Crown as a nebulous concept representing Albion.


    It's not a fixed rule - not everyone gets more self-interested and shifts to the right politically as they get older. And some of them start on the right as youngsters.

    But there does seem to be a general trend that way. I think there's a "Maggie-generation" for want of a better word, and there will be an "austerity-generation" too. For all those that idolise Maggie, such as Callmedave and May, there are entire communities that were devastated by her governments and a decade's worth of young adults whose futures were heavily negatively affected in various ways. Austerity is having different, but fractally self-similar effects on quite a chunk of the populace - it's hard for me to judge but possibly a larger proportion this time.

    My guess would be that, although the impetuses that drive people to the right politically are still present for most of those bitten by Maggie (who are now, like Charlie and I, in their late-40's to late-50's) there's also a memory of how crappy it was being 18-25 under Maggie and a strong sense of "never voting for a damn Tory." Of course those who did well under her, and they exist too, will have different inclinations. If my impression of the size "austerity generation" is right then in 30 years time the Tories, if they're still around might just be totally screwed as their normal bulge of voters hitting 50+ will fail to manifest.


    There was a really crappy series of interviews on the Today programme this morning in which the interviewer seemed to advance the opinion that Christianity has a single view on homosexuality. The person he was interviewing very politely pointed out that the church in England won't marry gay people in church while the church in Scotland will, so the question was kind of stupid. As a non-Christian, my response was much ruder - and actually the CofE doesn't have an agreed position on homosexuality because although the Bishops and the Laity rubber-stamped something, the House of Clergy (probably quite politely) said "Fuck off, that's a waste of space." The fact that the consultation hadn't actually invited anyone gay to be involved in it really didn't endear it to anyone except the elderly homophobes at the helm...

    So Farron could attend a really quite homophobic sect of the anglican church. WTF he thinks he can do that and even join the LibDems I'm not sure but I guess he might intellectually agree with most of the rest of their policies. But he really shouldn't have tried to lead the party.


    Yeah. I voted Labour for the first time in my life, though it's not so much my shift as that of the parties (see this blog, passim), as Corbyn isn't all that much different from (say) Heath. What I have done, is to become much more radical, and to despair at the way that almost everybody takes up canned, often disproved, positions.


    "the (Christian) church in Scotland" =/= "The Church of Scotland"

    The former isn't an official body, but would have to include churches in the Anglican, Baptist, Catholic and Presbyterian communions for sure (and that's almost certainly not a complete list of Christian communions). It might also have to include religions other than Christianity.

    The later is a specific church in the Presbyterian communion.


    The Anglican one is the Scottish Episcopal Church.


    Sorry, I couldn't remember the specific term used, nor the organisation that has approved gay marriage. Honestly, except that they've approved gay marriage I'm not interested in the specifics of the organisational details of any church.


    Here's an interesting perspective on May from the Beeb:

    What do you all think; is she a dead duck walking?


    If this were politics as usual, she'd be facing a leadership challenge by now; there was no need to call an election shortly after triggering Article 50, and she threw away both a majority in the Commons and a strong lead in the polls in the process.All the leaks suggest that she took excessive control from the centre, and is thus culpable for the failure.

    However, there are a couple of things that protect her:

  • She's triggered Article 50 - if you don't think you can quickly turn the country around such that post-Brexit Britain is better for the voting public than pre-Brexit Britain, you don't want to take power right now. You can't simply waffle on and let Brexit disappear while you improve the country, as Article 50 has a built-in deadline; further, your idea of a good Brexit has to be something you can sell to MPs, as they're going to all be trying to put their pennyworth in, and you're out if you can't sell your idea (this covers everything from "reform and remain in the EU" to "go completely isolationist ASAP" - wherever you try to fall on that scale, you will face MPs who oppose you).

  • Once Brexit is finalised, it's possible to improve things as compared to the new status quo - it's therefore better to let May take the fall for the bad side of Brexit, while you go on about how you're making things better. This gives MPs an incentive to leave her alone until we get to a point where they can push a narrative of "all the mistakes are behind us - Ms May was a disaster for the country, and I will fix it!"

  • Personally, I can see one of two things happening (the first likely, the second improbable):

  • Ms May completes Brexit, gets her deal or no deal, and is quite thoroughly defenestrated afterwards. The new party leader does their best to win the next election.

  • Something happens to change the public mood on Brexit drastically. Standing up and saying "we're not going to exit the EU, we're going to give up our opt-outs and take a leadership role in making the EU better" becomes a stronger vote winner than "we're going to leave". At that point, a pro-EU or opportunist MP will knife Ms May in order to get the credit for the change in tack.

  • 225:

    The date on that piece is 12th June. A lot has changed since Monday.

    As I've commented above, I think there's no appetite to replace her until after Brexit, when they can blame her for it all going horribly wrong (Brexit that is), appoint someone new and shiny and hope to hell the electorate buy that it was May and Davies not the Tories.

    That relies on the Tory-DUP alliance not blowing up, not too many Tories dying and being replaced by other parties and so on between now and then.

    It's not that they've forgiven her for the massive fucking up of the last 7 weeks, it's more that everyone with half a brain is looking at being PM at the moment as being a very poisoned chalice. The last 7 years of Tory economics is really starting hurt everyone. At least one person on this list will argue we would be in a worse place if we'd not had Gideon and Callmedave, but we just won't know that and nearly every sane economist disagrees. (When they say things like 'why didn't the government borrow, when it could borrow for 0.5% interest, and buy its way out of recession?' I find it hard to see a non-ideological counter-argument.) It's really hard to see how Brexit won't end up with a number of fudges that look like a real fucking mess for at least one big sector of our life - the NHS, the building sector, the farming sector, the universities or more. Possibly all of them if "no deal is better than a bad deal" remains the negotiating line.

    So in 2019, 2020 at the latest, there will be a leadership challenge for sure. Until then, she's not a lame duck, she's stronger than that, because, unlike the USA we don't know when she's leaving nor who her replacement is. Much like the final year or so of the Major premiership everyone knows she'll be going but until someone pushes the button, she's in charge. Unlike JM, who was seemed conciliatory and able to work with others while delivering most of his agenda, TM seems to have the flexibility of a fasces, and the dictatorial bent that goes with it's derivative too, if not the genocidal bent.


    If she does everything exactly right, she may survive - but her record is that she won't. In addition to Simon Farnsworth's options, there are two other likely ones (which I think are more likely, actually):

    She gives way too much in the deal with the DUP, Sinn Fein cry foul, they start causing trouble, she then reneges on the spirit of the DUP deal to solve the situation, they then cry foul and back out, and she loses a critical vote.

    She fails to control the wings of her party and the Brexit negotiations are a complete fiasco, with Brussels being unable to determine whether the UK has a position (let alone what it is). In mid-2018, business etc. start to panic, the UK's finances start to slide, and she is pushed.

    "Yugoslavia" seems to me a half-reasonable match for Ireland - different factions in comparable numbers, who hate each other, but who have never been able to do anything much about really dealing with the differences because of several centuries of imperialistic-type buggering around with their politics. Conditions which lift, weaken or profoundly alter that perennial distraction then result in "catching up for lost time" on the factional matters, and the surge expresses itself in guns. I think it's a closer match than South Africa (sort-of mentioned by Charlie earlier), where the principal factions were defined by race, one greatly outnumbered the other, and the change of regime brought about a great reduction in political violence because a huge majority were a lot better off for it.

    ...I'm not even sure where to start. Maybe by asking you to define "Ireland" and what time period you're talking about, because I completely cannot recognise your comparison.


    What trouble could Sinn Fein cause that Theresa May would listen to? They won't take their Westminster seats, she doesn't listen to outside voices, and any violence would only trigger her "I must oppress harder" instincts. Am I missing something? Your second suggestion is sadly believable.


    I don't know UK political history, so I will use American history examples to disagree with you. Apologies to Charlie for this.

    Many of the WWII generation voted for FDR and the New Deal when they started voting. By the time they got to their 50's, they voted for Reagan, who wanted to destroy the New Deal.

    Many of the Baby Boomer generation voted for candidates who would end segregation and pull us out of Vietnam. Many of that generation also wanted less Christian influence in society when they were young. Technically, Boomers were also responsible for Carter getting into office.

    Once they began hitting 50, they voted for the Christian right and the Iraq War by electing and re-electing G.W. Bush.

    Gen-X is a lot more divided, because it's a younger generation overall. However, the older members did vote for Bill Clinton when they were younger, and now voted for Donald Trump.


    The trouble with both of those (which I expect to half-happen - I expect the crises you describe to occur, but I don't expect it to cost Ms May her Premiership) is that they don't fix the underlying problem of being committed to a potentially destructive action, but not yet feeling the full pain of that action.

    Thus, Teflon Theresa is likely to keep surviving until the full pain of Brexit is being felt - until that happens, no sane Conservative leadership candidate is going to push her out; similarly, the FTPA protects her from being forced to call an election after losing a critical vote. If a vote of no confidence happens, I'd expect the Tories to go all-out on preventing an election from happening, because until they can start the post-Brexit turn-around, they have very little chance of winning more seats than they currently have. Again, the calculus works in favour of keeping Ms May in place, getting battered on all sides for her missteps, then stepping in to kick her out ASAP once it's clear that you can blame her for the pain of Brexit.


    You missed out the fact that the first feelers towards talks between Westminster and the Army council started in 1987, during your "gloves are off" phase.


    Continuity IRA - or at least a faction thereof - announced a permanent cessation of armed activities a few days ago.

    All the dissident groups appear to be massively penetrated by state intelligence, also.


    The collapse of the Ulster Unionist Party involved, among other things, the defection of many of its rising leaders to the Democratic Unionist Party. So the rise of the two-colour map isn't as striking as it might look.


    "But you have misread me. I agree that the IRA, as the paramilitary organisation, WAS disbanded, at least except for the plausibly deniable "dissidents"."

    Are you implying that the dissidents were a 'false flag' all along? I've never heard anyone suggest this, outside the realms of the looniest DUPers.

    Seriously, a post like this suggests that you know little or nothing of the north of Ireland and its politics.


    Yes and no. It depends on whether they become serious enough, which will in turn depend on whether she turns a smouldering fire into an inferno. But I agree that none of this addresses the root problem, though it is JUST possible (i.e. extremely unlikely) that the consequences might do so.

    To anonemouse: they could easily force a resumption of direct rule and then mount a campaign of civil disobedience. Fine, while she can keep it as a UK matter, but all of Eire, the EU and (God help us all) the USA have an interest in Northern Ireland. If the Noraid bunch persuade Trump to put serious pressure on her, May is in real trouble.


    Ethnic cleansing in the 26 counties after 1922? My family are Catholic, but my mum comes from the one bit of the republic where there was a Protestant majority in 1922. And that area still has a Protestant majority today (and no one cares). Pretty pathetic, as attempts at ethnic cleansing go.

    The Irish Senate still has two seats elected by graduates of the National University, and Trinity College Dublin. This bizarre hangover from the 19th century is explained thusly: until the late 1960s, TCD was the Protestant university in Ireland, and its graduates were largely Protestant. Giving them a seat in the upper house meant there would always be Protestant representation in the Irish parliament (and the first president of Ireland, elected under the 1937 constitution was Professor Douglas Hyde, both a scholar of Gaelic literature and a Protestant).

    As for the south being a 'theocracy' - it's the other way around. The state used the church for its political purposes, rather than vice versa.

    And did someone really tell you NI's small Jewish community being de facto Protestants? That's not I've ever heard, I have to say.


    To a very limited extent, yes. The evidence for that is very strong, and I have seen it stated in official analyses.

    But ONLY to a limited extent - i.e. they were allowed to take a small amount of material and the main IRA wouldn't take action against them (i.e. take them out as renegades, or shop them to the security forces), provided that they didn't interfere with Sinn Fein's political campaign. There is no way that they could have got into action so fast, nor have survived so well, if that were not so - remember that the IRA's 'punishment' actions didn't stop in 1998. However, they were told to stop when Sinn Fein signed up to the policing, and that was when more of them started being arrested. McGuinness's words on the various terrorist incidents were very revealing, if you read them carefully.


    In other words, the real picture is considerably different from that implied in your original post, and particularly in your use of the phrase "plausible deniability".

    (Why TF am I doing this?)


    Argh, image scaling fail. Apologies.


    IIRC there was migration, but disentangling sectarian migration from loyalist migration (the Americans who migrated to Canada post-Treaty of Paris? That) would be... difficult. And fearing Those Raving Nationalists wouldn't be entirely irrational; Scullabogue did happen.


    Here's the question: Is this earlier or later than previous elections? When I have more time, I'll probably try and research this


    I am not responsible for your misunderstandings. I said what I meant and I meant what I said, and what you read into it was something else entirely. To quote me: "I agree that the IRA, as the paramilitary organisation, WAS disbanded, at least except for the plausibly deniable 'dissidents'." The simple fact is that they WERE the inheritors of the IRA's paramilitary organisation, and they WERE demonstrably plausibly deniable AS SUCH INHERITORS.

    I was extremely careful not to imply any direct association between post-1998 Sinn Fein and them, because I believe that it was very carefully and thoroughly broken at that point. The sole remaining link was whatever "dissolution agreement" the 1998 Army Council agreed - as I said, the gist of its contents is fairly clear, but I for one haven't a clue of the details.


    But ONLY to a limited extent - i.e. they were allowed to take a small amount of material

    Cell structure, remember... AIUI, when it's the PIRA Quartermaster who joins the splinter group, he's the one who knows where all the weaponry is - there doesn't have to be any "allowed" about it, the splitters just walk away with what they've got in their local weapon hide.

    NB. to me, the use of the word "allowed" implies consent to such acts on the part of PIRA; was that your intention?


    Since it's all wild speculation with no way to prove anything conclusively one way or the other, this seems like a fairly silly and circular discussion to me.

    (Unless some happens to have a tame IRA commander on hand ready to make a sworn statement...)


    Your second clause is true, but your first is bollocks - and offensive with it. I could explain the evidence in detail, and it is NOT compatible with the line that is officially touted to the public, but there is clearly no point. And, as I said, I have seen an admission of what I said in a couple of the official documents that have passed through the net. The political reasons not to admit it publicly, even now it is obsolete information, should be obvious.

    And, to Martin, yes, that is precisely what I did mean - but I should stress that it was clearly a limited consent, and consent is a much weaker word than permission.


    Because they're hoping for Adventurous lives, not remembering that the actual definition of "adventure" is, as Tolkien, I think, himself put it: sitting in a comfortable chair, with a warm drink and a fire nearby, reading about someone else risking their lives 1000 miles and 100 years away.

    And a government that actually cares about something other than the size of their accounts.

    What I want is the damn 21st Century we were promised.... I've apologized to my kids and a younger friend or two for dumping this on them.


    I've had a few friends over the years who I considered "followers of Yeshua ben Miryam", and they were pleased at that. They told me that the New Covenant completely replaced the Old Covenant, and therefore, no, you can't claim authority for your views from the OT if you're Christian.


    I'm sorry, but your statements are SO wrong.

    If they started by voting for FDR and the New Deal, in their 50's, they were voting for LBJ or Nixon.

    And a lot of the reason (sorry, Charlie, for US politics, but this does go into UK, as well, I think) is that a lot of Boomers didn't get into the habit of voting (and then there's the voter suppression efforts....)

    And, IMO, the wealthy buying the media, and using it for brainwashing "this is what Everyone Thinks, if you think differently, you're all alone!". And that latter is why large in the street demonstrations are so useful - not just for those there, but so that everyone who didn't realized that they're not alone and weird.


    OK. This is the final thing I will say on this subject.

    You're implying that the first splits in the IRA which led to the emergence of the dissident groups did not occur until the time of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, and after.

    In fact the first such split took place as early as 1986, when the O'Brádaigh faction split from Sinn Fein over that party's dropping of abstention from Dáil Eireann, the Dublin parliament.

    O'Brádaigh's faction then formed Republican Sinn Fein, which (we now know) immediately formed its own armed wing, Continuity IRA, which it kept under wraps for fear that it would be immediately targeted for elimination by their erstwhile 'friends' in mainstream SF.

    The Real IRA - the perpetrators of the Omagh bombing of 1998 - emerged in 1997, the year before that atrocity, and the year before the signing of the GFA.

    None of these groups ever showed the operational capacity of PIRA, even though they still attempted (and sometimes succeeded) in causing harm to people. This seems, to me, to be inconsistent with your implication that the SF/PIRA allowed them to walk off with the military wing's organization after 1998.

    In reality, they had to build their own organizations, and found it far more difficult to do so in a context where the GFA removed the threats to the minority community which had caused some members of that community (though never all of it) to give support to PIRA. Even if the DUP would like to tear up that agreement, and even though T. May is stupid and venal to help them if she thinks that she and the Tories could benefit from doing so, I think a return to the bad old days is improbable - and I also doubt that the dissidents are the ones to lead it.

    And - BREATH!

    Finally and in conclusion, and in a spirit of tolerance, reconciliation and goodwill, I offer you this humble gift:

    Good, isn't it?


    And, to Martin, yes, that is precisely what I did mean - but I should stress that it was clearly a limited consent, and consent is a much weaker word than permission.

    OK, for extra clarity - I take "allowed" (consented) to mean "we know in advance that this is going to happen, and we choose to allow it to go ahead" or even "we did not know in advance, but are physically present when it happens, and choose not to prevent it ". To me, it does not mean "retrospective permission". It means free will and informed consent, and does not involve any coercion.

    I'm stressing this seemingly pedantic point, because I really don't want to misunderstand or misrepresent you - and while it may seem minor, to me it's actually rather significant. Here's a sliding scale of seriousness, not an exclusive list :

  • 1. PIRA directed the formation of the splinter groups, and armed them as a policy choice
  • 2. PIRA foresaw (but did not direct) the formation of the splinter groups, but chose to arm them as a policy choice
  • 3. PIRA thought splinter groups might form, but hoped they wouldn't. They deliberately chose not to secure their weaponry, and "passively" allowed the splinter groups to take it
  • 4. PIRA foresaw (but did not direct) the formation of the splinter groups, but were unable to secure their weapons stocks before the splinter groups stole them.
  • 5. PIRA were surprised when splinter groups formed. They had believed their weaponry to be secure, but the splinter groups stole them
  • To me, "allowed" implies somewhere in the range of options 1 to 3 (and by implication, bad faith and malice aforethought on the part of PIRA) - the others don't really imply consent. Your comment about "permission" suggests to me that you might mean somewhere between options 2 and 3...

    I don't want to assume that this is what you mean, and hope you can clarify.


    In general I agree with you, there are whole groups of generations where that happens smoothly. The New Deal mostly worked, but they'd got their good stuff and didn't necessarily want to share it - they moved from sharing to selfish which is the predicted model.

    The difference is a lot of people here were hurt by the Tories in the 80's and are being hurt by them now. It's engendered a feeling in a lot of people in the right age bracket (but not all) of "Never vote for a Tory." It's possible I just know a lot of reactionary left-wingers but I lot of people I know of about my age look like they ought to vote Tory and just won't.

    The YouGov poll at 239, I think is broadly right, if there's an election in 10 years (which is when it should be) I think their nice straight lines will be not as easy to draw, the 30-40's will be more left-wing, and the 60-70's too. I suspect the 50-60's are a bit more left-wing than their nice regression line but they're not showing the raw data - you can be quite a long way off the graph and still fit a decent straight line after all.


    I don't want to get into a religious debate. Let's just say that your statement is held to be true by some, but not all, of the Christian church and leave it there?


    As with Simon, it's not only about her doing things right, it's about having someone that wants to replace her.

    She can certainly screw the pooch badly enough she has to be replaced, although I'm not sure Sinn Fein can actually force the issue. But however she manages she can still commit political suicide by one means or another. But unless she really, really screws up she'll only be replaced when it's advantageous to the person who replaces her. That really means a political scandal from which she just can't recover or Brexit being a total clusterfuck.

    The DUP alliance has the potential to being one such scandal. Rewriting the Barnett Formula too blatantly will draw the ire of the Scottish and Welsh Tories for example and could crash the government. Playing with LBGT+ rights or abortion rights will both do it with different subsets of the mainland MPs. But I'd imagine something more unpredictable coming up. One that's "fighting the last war" would be a second Tory expenses scandal and say 25 MPs in supposed battleground seats being investigated by the Electoral Commission but the CPS taking a much more aggressive view than they did this time around. That could crash the Tory Party but would probably crash her as PM since she called the election early too. But, I don't know, Gove, the new first Minister and a couple of her other recent appointments all getting stung in Cash for Questions in the same month and all resigning in disgrace en masse might be just enough. Hubby May in a sex-and-drugs orgy might do it. Could be just about anything.


    Consent does not imply foresight or even presence; it can include accepting something after the event. In particular, before 1998, any PIRA member who disobeyed orders and (especially) misappropriated material would have been jumped on. And, as I said, McGuinness's words were most instructive.


    "You're implying ...." Accepted. That was sloppy of me, and 1998 was downright wrong, now you remind me. I was referring to the political/military split that led to the Real IRA breaking off.

    My expectation is as I described in #235. God alone knows how that would pan out - it may depend on whether Trump has got the boot.


    However, my view is that anyone who claims that an Epistle (let alone the Old Testament) should override the Gospels cannot honestly be called a Christian.


    Yes and no. She might fuck it up enough (or get fucked up from outside) to have to resign, but where nobody else can get the support of Parliament. I posted in another blog entry that I won't be surprised if we have no prime minister for a period, for the first time since 1924.


    I repeat "I don't want to get into a religious debate".


    Consent does not imply foresight or even presence; it can include accepting something after the event.

    I should explain why I'm suddenly pedantic about the concept of "consent". It's because I got selected for the jury in a rape trial; and it was a tragic and depressing scenario, that circled around the differing claimed perceptions of consent by the two people involved.

    I do not believe that consent can be given retrospectively; it's not a boost::tribool, or a Schrodinger value. Acceptance, maybe forgiveness, but not consent.


    I was a sloppy. I'm not sure that the WWII generation converted to Conservative in their 50's? I wasn't using the age of 50 as a hard delimiter. I should have stated that to avoid confusion.

    Someone who was 18 in 1940 (when they would be voting more in regards to WWII) would be 50 in 1972 and 58 in 1980, when the majority of that age bracket voted for Ronald Reagan.

    Likewise, someone who was 18 in 1936 when the New Deal was the main political topic would be 62 in 1980. It is my understanding that this age bracket likewise voted for Reagan.

    I guess we'd better end this discussion to not annoy Charlie too much. I realize I'm already stretching the rules too much.


    They told me that the New Covenant completely replaced the Old Covenant, and therefore, no, you can't claim authority for your views from the OT if you're Christian.

    Not to get off topic or anything, but that view goes back at least to Marcion of Sinope in the mid-2nd century and was a major headache for his theological opponents. It was also an important impetus in getting the nascent Church to decide just which of the multiple Scriptures floating around at the time should be considered canonical. That, in turn, led after a while to the coalescence of what we now think of as the Bible(s).


    Neither someone who was 18 in 1936, nor someone who was 18 in 1940 would have been allowed to vote.

    The voting age set by the individual states was uniformly 21 years in that period. The State of Georgia extended the franchise to 18 year-olds in 1943 and Kentucky lowered their voting age to 18 in 1955.

    The rest of the 18 year-olds in the U.S. did not get the right to vote until July 1, 1971 when my home state of North Carolina became the 38th state (3/4 of the states) to ratify the 26 Amendment.


    One more problem for May. And under current circumstances, a big one.


    I have a question. I am still processing the result which was a surprise. Like many people I had assumed an increased Conservative majority, although not the wipe-out predicted at the start of the campaign.

    The assumption that I see now both in the press and in the response of Teresa May appears to be that the result was caused by:- - A very poor performance by Teresa May (I wasn't terribly surprise by this - she strikes me as rather narrow, inflexible and with a bunker mentality). - A reaction by the remainer young protesting brexit.

    My question is - do you believe in the second assertion? If so why would remainers vote for a leader who was conspicuous by his absence during the EU referendum?

    I am not trying to make a point with the second assertion - it's my conclusion from what I read during the EU referendum.

    My take is that I am not convinced of the second assertion. I believe that this has more to do with the first, some very poor voter-management tactics by the Conservative party in that they were still convinced that they were going to obtain a major win and neglected their own "marginal" seats, and some very impressive voter management by Momentum among those (my prejudices here) who weren't alive during the 1970's to experience first hand the results of policies now espoused by JC.

    I also note a number of references to JC delivering the largest swing to Labour since 1945. My understanding is that Tony Blair delivered a swing of more than 5 times the amount with a greater share of the vote and 1.6 times the number of seats. Is this wrong?


    A comment this time. I see some assumptions that President Toad will be impeached. This is highly unlikely.

    Toad retains significant support and will continue to do so since those following him believe that any criticism is partisan (which is partially true) and will dismiss it. It would take a major scandal to change this and I don't see it.

    If Toad's support remains at its current level (about 30%) then no Republican will break ranks since they will suffer if they do even to the extent of loosing their seats. It is also unlikely that the balance in the Senate will change until 2020 at the earliest - indeed the 2018 mid-term elections may well deliver a Republican super-majority.

    In any case, I doubt that he was directly involved in any corruption (technical definition - he has certainly done many dishonest and vile things). All current stuff is way too nebulous to count; for example, what he said to Comey could easily be interpreted as a suggestion rather than a command. Even if it is proved that Toad has been involved in something nefarious, he will claim that he was not and will be believed.

    If Clinton could not be impeached, with the direct evidence against him of lying in court, then I doubt Toad could be impeached with what I see so far.


    Indeed. The BoCP states: ( Article VII )

    The Old Testament is not contrary to the New: for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to Mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and Man, being both God and Man. Wherefore they are not to be heard, which feign that the old Fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the Law given from God by Moses, as touching Ceremonies and Rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the Civil precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet notwithstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the Commandments which are called Moral.

    So there - or something.


    This is an escalation of an already-known problem. I suspect that GCHQ/MI6 have someone inside the hit-squad, & don't want to jeopardise his/her position as an information feed. Going to be more difficult, now, unless they can extract their agent & then spill the beans?


    Second assertion? No. From a "remain" supporter perspective, in the referendum campaign everyone was shit, and whatever minor distinctions could be drawn between them on the basis of that performance are thoroughly overwhelmed by what we've seen since then of Theresa May's swivel-eyed-fanatic-mainlining-speed approach to the subject. So pre-referendum performance wasn't really a significant factor.

    I see that assertion as the media's attempt to explain the result without having to admit that large numbers of people are actually overjoyed at finally having a genuine mainstream left-wing choice to vote for for the first time in a quarter of a century.

    Concerning the swing vs. Blair, I think this explains that conclusion better than I could:


    Very slight correction: "A reaction by the remainers young protesting brexit."

    I was not canvassed by anyone during the recent campaign, probably because my soft-left/centrist Labour MP has one of the safest seats in the country, though it is very much for for her, not for Labour.

    But I had a loaded-&-ready hostile greeting for any canvasser from any of the major 4 parties (all of whom were standing here); Tory: You wankers were the idiots who got us into this mess with Brexit - wtf are you going to do about it, idiots? Lem-0-Crat: Ah, yes, vote for nice little christian Farron & crap on women is your message, isn't it? Momentum ( As opposed to "vote Stella" ) - Ah the party whose leader is stuck in 1934, with supporters like you stuck in 1917 - why are you so stupid? Green: Give actual REASONS why nuclear power is a bad idea, please?


    Maybe pertinent point. Heard on "Today" programme this AM. New biography of Clem Attlee out, author being interviewed.

    His comments on difference between Attlee & the Corbyn. "Attlee was a patriot, he was proud of going into coalition in 1940. and ... whatever Churchill said about Attlee in the House, he would not accept any personal criticism of him outside, or in private conversation ......

    This, of course, is my sticking point about the Corbyn ... see also the link pointed to by Troutwaxer @ 264.


    Vladimir Putin refers to 'territories now called Ukraine' Here Not good


    Cheers Greg, raised Scots Presbyterian, I could not have quoted from the CofE Book of Common Prayer! You still being willing to do so is appreciated.


    "He went on to say how much he values the views of Ukranians who remember the "common history" uniting Russia and Ukraine"

    OK, historically the Russian state was born around Kiev's Rus'(far away and long ago:

    But I suppose Ukrainians rememember better the Holodomor. Btw, I have a part time Ukrainian lady cleaner, whose mother was also the caretaker for my mother-in-law when she was suffering from Alzheimer's: let's say that they haven't a good view of Russia (big understatement...).

    re: 270, "Ah the party whose leader is stuck in 1934, with supporters like you stuck in 1917" LOL... I imagine something like the cruiser Avrora moored on the Thames firing on Buckingham Palace. Jokes aside, we in Italy had a true Communist party whose leadership was well aware of the Soviet history, and they evolved into reformism. Momentum seems closer to the far left of the post '68 early '70s (been there, done that). Romanticized wiev of the capital -R revolution, little skills in real world management and a nasty attitude about "The true enemy is the moderate left, not the loony right".


    Do not confuse the technical legal sense used for sexual relations with the normal meaning of the word. And, if somebody does something that you have the power to correct or reverse, and you choose not to, that IS consenting to the act - no matter how readily politicians claim that it isn't. If they had not had such power, I would accept your point, but they did (and used it, in other cases).


    Read the article. It says "territories that now belong to Ukraine". Very different. And, unfortunately, what he says about the Kiev regime is true, though glossed over by the western press :-( As he has repeatedly said, the mess in that region desperately needs a UN or similar body to produce a proper agreement and ensure that it is implemented.

    I am not convinced by the 'evil empire' conspiracy theory to do with the murders, not least because I cannot believe that the UK government would be so complaisant about it. Allowing a Putin-controlled hit squad to operate here is MOST unlikely. It's nearly as implausible as the CIA mounting a false-flag operation, to blacken Putin's reputation, which would at least explain why the UK would hush it up.

    From what I have read in the few informed and neutral sources, Russia is far less centrally-controlled than either Putin or the rabid anti-Russians claim, and it seems more likely that most of the murders were at the orders of the numerous gangsters, oops, sorry, oligarchs that infest Russia and have been given a welcome in the UK. Depending, of course, on their relations with Putin. I.e. I don't think that the people that ordered the murders take orders from Putin, though some may cooperate with him. Also, one of the more common reasons to murder someone involved in such activities is because they are playing a double game. So I simply don't know, and can think of several equally plausible explanations.


    I think this is the root of our disagreement - I don't think there are any circumstances where May would resign of her own accord, and given the ticking timebomb called Brexit, I don't see any circumstances in which the Conservative Party would force her to resign before Brexit is a done deal, or clearly safe to cancel without repercussions.

    Thus, for the near future, she's safe regardless of what happens externally; there's nothing so bad that it would cause her to resign of her own accord, and the people most likely to want to force her to resign would rather let the shitpile accumulate on her, so that they can emphasise that they're a new sort of leader, and a new Conservative Party, not the old sort you knew and hated.

    Further, this same motivation ensures that a no-confidence vote will not succeed - the potential Conservative leaders would much prefer to take the Premiership than to have to fight a new election against a resurgent Jeremy Corbyn, and a possible new Lib Dem leader who might turn things round, especially since whatever has happened is going to rebound badly against the Tories.


    Despite your overtly aggressive and condescending tone, I'm going to politely request that you provide some evidence for the speculations that you have made here.

    You appear to be mixing a lot of personal opinion, speculation (from the unfounded to the informed), and references to analyses/documents/statements that only you seem to have had access to.

    You are certainly entitled to believe that I am some uninformed and sheep-like member of the public, blindly swallowing the official version of events (I'm not, but there you go); but equally, until you provide something concrete to back up what you're saying, I am entitled to call what appear to be your personal opinions "wild speculation".


    I was thinking more of the acceptance of aid from the Imperial German guvmint in 1917 to Lenin ..... Apart form the utter failure of communism as a governing system ( with the possible exception, IIRC of Kerala, of all places )


    "with the possible exception, IIRC of Kerala, of all places"

    "communism" in Marx's proper meaning is what in scifi nerdspeak would be labeled "post-scarcity society with no coercion" (the Culture in Bank's novels). So it was never tried, given that we haven't yet the tech base. Government by Communist parties, usually in coalition, in democratic countries has worked fine: Emilia in Italy, the Communist mayors in Rome itself, municipal government in France. But where you have to manage things you have to fall back to run of the mill socialist reforms, not taking the Winter Palace. (OK, sometimes even to play loyal opposition it takes the equivalent of Cable Street battle, see Genoa riots in 1960:


    I did not say that about you and did not mean it. I was quite reasonably offended by what YOU said, and responded in kind. You can certainly request an explanation of the evidence and my reasoning, but I am off on holiday tomorrow and a system upgrade has just caused things to misbehave on my system, so I may not do so for a while. I am sorry if that is the case.


    "Romanticized wiev of the capital -R revolution, little skills in real world management and a nasty attitude about "The true enemy is the moderate left, not the loony right".

    Now, where did I see that attitude lately? Oh, yes, in 'Podemos'. If I can coin a pun 'Red minds think alike'.


    Do not confuse the technical legal sense used for sexual relations with the normal meaning of the word. And, if somebody does something that you have the power to correct or reverse, and you choose not to, that IS consenting to the act - no matter how readily politicians claim that it isn't. If they had not had such power, I would accept your point, but they did (and used it, in other cases).

    No, I'd suggest that the common understanding of "to allow" or "to give consent" is something that happens as or before an event, not afterwards - and that it's you who has the non-typical understanding. While interesting, and not saying that you're incorrect, it's a bit of a drift.

    Getting back to the main point, you have made the following statements on the subject of the Provisional IRA and the Real IRA:

  • @141 - In 2005, I said that the IRA Army Council had reformed, not disbanded, and have seen official documents since saying the same. And Sinn Fein does NOT behave like a political party, but like a campaign tightly controlled by a hidden organisation. There's more evidence for that, but it's a derail, and I am pretty sure that is how it is structured
  • @148 - I agree that the IRA, as the paramilitary organisation, WAS disbanded, at least except for the plausibly deniable "dissidents"
  • @237 (when challenged as to whether PIRA consented to arming the Real IRA) - To a very limited extent, yes. The evidence for that is very strong, and I have seen it stated in official analyses. But ONLY to a limited extent - i.e. they were allowed to take a small amount of material and the main IRA wouldn't take action against them
  • @256 - I was referring to the political/military split that led to the Real IRA breaking off
  • I would be genuinely interested to see this strong, official analysis that you insist to be in existence - because your interpretation is different from all of the others that I've seen or heard.

    I appreciate that you're leaving for your holidays, so for ease of response would ask which of my options in post @251 is closest to your belief as to what happened?


    If it's the accusation of "wild speculation" that offends you so, then you're going to have to understand that I am coming to that from a position of listening to decades of ill and misinformed opinion by people with little experience of NI. It has left me with something of a hair-trigger on the subject. I'm willing to upgrade to "informed speculation", but I really would like to see the evidence that you have alluded to in previous posts.

    In any case, I bear you no ill will either way, and hope that you have a pleasant vacation. Come to Ireland. It's much nicer than the politicians we keep electing! (Though I suspect you know that already.)


    The DUP are sounding worryingly statesmanlike (in a "cat that got the cream" sense) after today's meeting with the new Taoiseach.

    There's also much in the language coming from the DUP MPs (and definitively stated by some Tories -- see about half down the linked article) that a formal deal and additional concessions may not actually be a requirement in securing the DUP's support.

    Arlene Foster calls for 'sensible Brexit'

    I am unsure whether to be heartened by this as yet. (Also, whatever the Irish and NI pols think of the NI Brexit issues, ultimately Brussels and Westminster will have the final say.)


    The problem with putting any one reason as "This is THE reason why X happened" when you're talking about a demographic group like "young voters" is that you're talking about roughly, in the case of young voters, 2 million people of whom a pretty big majority voted Labour.

    For some, I suspect, it was a protest vote against Brexit. Although Labour is saying "The country voted for Brexit, we've got to deliver it" the core message is for a lot softer Brexit than the Tory's message under May and that's acceptable to lot of former Remain voters. For others there are little things like "we will abolish tuition fees at university" which are doubtless attractive. We're not at Blair's 50% of young people going to university target AFAIK, but it's something that affects a lot of young folks, and saying "boom, no £27k debt when you graduate" well that's going to attract a few votes. Support for the NHS and social care is something we tend to think of as winning votes in the older groups, but I wouldn't be surprised if that won traction with some - the NHS is very popular because we all have contact with it and social care for young people affects those who volunteer but it also directly affects granny and granddad so it has resonance. I'm not affected by the chaos in Southern Trains but May and Grayling haven't really presented anything to try and fix it and seem to be making it worse from my admittedly anti-Tory and Oop North bias. If you live somewhere that's affected and you see a plan to renationalise the railways it probably sounds like someone has a plan to actually do something. (It might not be the right thing for the next 100 years, but it's hard to see how it's worse than the current hand-washing from what I hear on the news and could be a good fix for the next 10+ years.) And, of course, young voters tend to be just more left-wing than older voters - there are exceptions to the group but as a rule that's how it goes.

    So while I'm sure that's true for some, it's not THE reason.

    All of the reasons I've given also miss out one rather important point. JC was elected as leader of the Labour Party and re-elected over Owen Smith because he got a massive increase in the cheaper membership who were eligible to vote and they were young. In the same way as May just can't connect to the public - witness her visit to the Grenfell fire site and not meeting anyone except firefighters, the next day we here there were 'security concerns' but it was OK for Corbyn to meet people, the next day it's OK for the Queen FFS, and also for Andrea Leadsom to meet the people (she did surprisingly well with coping with their anger) - Corbyn is incredibly effective at campaigning and a huge draw to younger people. No commentators, being the cynics that they are, and generally older as they are, believed he could do it in a general election, but the evidence seems to be he can. He might have been helped by May being a POS as a campaigner but the evidence suggests for whatever reason, Corbyn is just, to coin a phrase "down with da yoff."


    Ah like "true christianity" you mean? Snigger, or I would if it wasn't for the multiple body-piles


    ... and that's acceptable to lot of former Remain voters in the sense that we might be sufficiently stuffed that might be the least-worst deal we can get, maybe. I'm still hoping that it will be such a car-crash that a really good excuse is found to abrogate At50 ....

    Southern Trains Grayling, apart from personally being a turd with legs, has defintely made things worse ... see the "London Reconnections" website for more info, or this BBC2 programme Oh, & by the way the railways are already effectively renationalised, & the fuck-up is about 99% in the DfT's lap - it's a nasty little open secret.

    the next day it's OK for the Queen FFS Yes, well, why do you thing she is personally loved by so many? It's like Aberfan, where she told the officials to stuff the official schedule, she was going there ... & has been back several times.


    OTOH, if these allegations are true it shows that the Murdoch daily press are still unspeakable scum.


    Was there any other evidence they weren't unspeakable scum?


    Note OGH's Moderation Notice above. However, if you address the issue sometime after comment 300, I'll give you my opinion.


    So... Anyone want to guess how the still in-progress eruption of politics in Kensington is going to affect Mrs May's chances of retaining Number Ten, leadership of the Conservative party and indeed her life and bodily integrity?

    Because it seems she just had to rather hastily evacuate the vicinity of Grenfell Tower on account of the large and angry mob forming outside.


    There are certainly Remain voters who agree wholeheartedly with you but, while I'm not trusting of opinion polls in fine detail, they're suggesting something like 80% of Remain voters want them to get the heck on with it, and get a good deal. I wouldn't be surprised if the actual figure was as much as 10% lower than that nationally, maybe even 15% but that's still, as I said, "a lot of former Remain voters."

    And I wasn't surprised the Queen showed up, just contrasting it to May. I know they have very different job descriptions but (for better or worse) we, as a nation, expect our senior politicians to show up to the site of disasters and meet people and offer sympathy and shake hands and say "Something must be done." Corbyn managed it, Lizzie managed it, fucking Leadsom managed it. May bottled it.


    Oh poor baby. She got to learn all about how the "little people" feel... she's just bloody fucking lucky the tower didn't happen before the election!


    OTOH, the shiny new Labour MP for that division ... used to be a K&C Councillor ... And signed off on the tower. Oops, as the saying goes [ Will need checking for accuracy/consistency, though ]


    I take your point, but I have been watching this area closely since 1969, and my analyses and predictions have been borne out about twice as often as not.

    Also to Martin (#283): none of them, actually. There was SOME sort of 'understanding' about what would be regarded as treachery and what would not. I don't have time to describe the evidence in detail, but see below.

    I remembered one of the documents that supported my claim that the PIRA did NOT disband when it was claimed to by the UK politicians and chattering classes:

    One point was that the PIRA's cell structure did not extend to its strategic planning and orders, which is one reason that Stakeknife was so effective, and it handled anything that smacked of treachery very harshly indeed (see D.J.P. O'Kane's posting). But, after 1997/8, that stopped applying to the dissidents. Interesting. The unionists demanded that the PIRA / Sinn Fein shop the dissidents, which was obviously not going to happen, but why was no disciplinary action taken? The response by the people who swallowed the official line was that it no longer had the capacity or will, but that was complete nonsense (see that report). There's more on that, but enough for now.

    Another was that P.O'Neill's and McGuinness's (who I will bet was a P.O'Neill, previously) statements needed analysis and said EXACTLY what they meant to, but were misread by people who were accustomed to normal politicians. I am a programming language standards lawyer :-) McGuinness described Omagh as 'counterproductive' but described the first killing of a policeman after Sinn Fein had signed up to the policing as treachery. That's a very interesting choice of words. Again, there's more.

    My analysis (back in 1998) was that the four possibilities (disband/restructure and permitted/forbidden dissidents) would show up in different ways, and the events of the next decade came smack down on what I expected for restructure and permitted. My reading was that the PIRA was desperate to avoid another Official/Provisional war, and so permitted SOME level of continuing action and use of material provided that it didn't queer Sinn Fein's pitch. I could refresh my memory and mention other events that confirmed my belief, but don't have time. Sorry.

    However, I am NOT saying that the dissidents were allowed to stay in-house - merely that the arrangement was that they wouldn't be dealt with as traitors if they stuck to it. And, of course, I don't have a clue of the details. I could be wrong, but (even with hindsight) it's the only hypothesis that I can think of that doesn't conflict with known facts.

    And, lastly, that's all past history, as either that document or one like it said. My belief that, today, there is a cabal that controls Sinn Fein, but it is (either actually or effectively) part of Sinn Fein - i.e. political.


    Personally, I hope she invites the current US president over to help her out with her spot of trouble. After all, by his own admission, he's the greatest negotiator ever, and even wrote a best-selling book on the subject. I'd love to see the two of them go out to help the people affected by this tragedy, especially if both of their security details would just back off and give them a chance to do their jobs as politicians and work directly with the people for a change.


    Snork! I love the way you think!

    I'm on my bi-weekly visit to SD County today. Greetings from La Mesa!


    Can't help you out with Ronald Rump, but my sis and I think that the cops who protected Mayfly from the angry locals may have done the nation a disservice.


    Enjoy the weather!


    I think if anyone else wanted the job currently she'd have been packing her bags by now. It's looking like she's been told "You made this mess, you're sticking with it until it's fixed or we need a scapegoat".


    "My reading was that the PIRA was desperate to avoid another Official/Provisional war"

    This would be closest to my reading of the situation too, but I would put this as a kind with the PIRA lacking the will to confront the dissidents. I don't see strong evidence that the PIRA made a strategic decision to allow the existence of the dissidents, or to encourage or support them. Perhaps we are, in the end, in violent agreement and this is merely haggling over the use of specific phrase and terms. (I am interested in your analysis, it comes with a perspective often missing from those too close to the issues.)

    The only thing that I would caution against is overrstimating the competency and reach of the PIRA (and other NI paramilitaries) -- my, for want of a better term, "personal experience" is that most were good at making great propaganda from limited (to some extent) capability. To borrow and mangle a Pratchett quote well outside its original context: They magicked a little terrorist into everyone's head (which I suppose is much the point of terrorism).


    "in the sense that we might be sufficiently stuffed that might be the least-worst deal we can get, maybe. I'm still hoping that it will be such a car-crash that a really good excuse is found to abrogate At50 ...."

    I'm hoping that second one, but not considering it to be a significant possibility. I think that by the time the fuckup tsunami really hits, it will be too late to invoke the A0.02 option. If the statements from France and Germany are anything to go by, the best time for A0.02 is probably now, but May wouldn't take that hint even if it was delivered on the end of a chainsaw.


    "while I'm not trusting of opinion polls in fine detail, they're suggesting something like 80% of Remain voters want them to get the heck on with it"

    I wonder if the polls themselves go into enough detail to capture all the possible definitions of "it"? Certainly in my case, I can't say I want them to get on with getting out; I think the longer it is before the situation becomes truly irretrievable the more chance there is of managing to reverse it (not that I think that chance is ever very great, but still). What I do want them to get on with is coming up with something that gives us some sort of handle on what they think they're actually going to do - some definite target to fight against. The nebulous slash-and-burn jingoistic Fahne-waving bollocks we've had so far is, precisely because it's nebulous bollocks, next to impossible to oppose on anything higher than its own playground level; you can blow raspberries at it, but trying to hit it with reasoned argument is like punching fog. What I want them to hurry up and do is give us some clue what the fuck is going on already. At the moment I'm not even clear whether their failure to do so is a deliberate attempt to confuse opposition by exploiting the difficulty I describe, or simply that they really are as incapable of organising a piss-up in a brewery as they give the appearance of being.


    Greg, Kensington and Chelsea has been Conservative controlled since it was created in the mid 60's. How much power do opposition councillors have? Or is this just "I don't like Corbyn or his allies" trash talking?


    From the style in which that article is written, I'd have expected it to have a footer titled "Laughter, the Best Medicine" and containing four "jokes" that make you want to slit your wrists...

    I simply flat out don't accord it any credibility. Clickbait website achieves triumph of investigative journalism, succeeds where Scotland Yard and MI6 fail... pull the other one, it's got bells on. Rather a lot of the details ping the wrongness meter, and I agree with EC about the plausibility of the overall premise (also with the rest of the post).


    Apologies for breeching the moderators rules of engagement - it's just that I get a bit tired of reading the S.O.S about Toad. I don't like the man but the "European" (and Californian) perspective is so solipsistic that it annoys me. I don't like him, if you are European you will probably not like him but 30% of Americans do like him and will continue to do so. With that support he can tap-dance naked on the White House lawn whilst french kissing Vladimir Putin without facing a challenge. I will now, on this thread at least, shut up about Toad.

    Many thanks for those who responded to my questions. I had assumed that there was no one reason but wanted to hear about what were seen as the issues from those of you who took part so Pigeon @269 and El's @286 comments were interesting. It looks like some of the information I had re:vote were wrong - the percentage was correct (43% Blair to 40% JC) but the swing was incorrect (I had 2% for JC but the information from the BBC is the same as from the reference supplied by Pigeon - i.e. 10%). I am trying to find the source of my original value but I can't beyond a reference which doesn't itself give the source. Should have checked it before I quoted it.

    I was hugely amused by Greg Tingey's @270 proposed greetings. I can't disagree with any (although it was nice to see that in a single day a few weeks ago, arounf 25% of UK energy was generated by solar). There is a whole debate about safe fission (not least to ensure that the U.S. navy keep their sticky fingers out) but roll on fusion - PLEASE.


    "On a side note, why oh why..."

    Well, what we are shown consists of reasonably tightly focused scenes, and so gives us what may be a somewhat unrepresentative viewpoint. Obviously nobody's going to want to go and live in Mordor (apart from the occasional nutter). Rohan and Gondor you probably instinctively make allowances for on the grounds of them being war zones when we see them. (Personally I'd not be that keen on either of them in peacetime either.)

    But the Shire, well, that's rural England without the bad bits. There are rich hobbits and poor hobbits, but (except when Saruman fucks them up) they all enjoy life, live in peace, and are well fed. And Rivendell and Lorien have what hobbits refer to as "magic", in such measure as to make hobbits fall in love with them even while still homesick for the Shire. They're all places where if you're not happy the problem is almost certainly with you, and it doesn't puzzle me at all that people would want to live there.

    Rivendell in particular offers the additional attraction, for those of a martial disposition, of being a secure base from which to go off adventuring. And you have a decent degree of narrative confidence that as long as you don't harbour evil thoughts you'll probably come back in one piece.

    "Rampant poverty" - or indeed poverty rolling over to have its tummy tickled - doesn't seem to be a concept that has meaning in Rivendell or Lorien; and while there are poor hobbits they're not actually in poverty, they're still well-provisioned. They also seem to be a jolly healthy lot compared with England; nobody shits (except orcs and monsters), of course, and that must help a lot. Elves don't suffer from disease themselves, but they do have all the skill you could wish for at healing others.

    Hobbits are pretty democratic, in so far as they bother about politics at all. Elves, by the time of LOTR, seem to have settled on what are technically benevolent dictatorships but in practice are kind of Culture-socialist and rely on self-mediation through having a much higher Dunbar limit than humans.

    So while your summary of conditions would certainly be the expected situation for someone teleported into Middle-earth at random, there is a strong observation bias in favour of thinking it would actually be great.


    One significant development after the election is the sea change in the attitude of the PLP to the unbiddable hordes of Momentum supporters who turned out in large numbers to canvass the heck out of the marginal constituencies and return Labour MPs. They might not love them, but they know they need them


    I am reminded of an illustration in the old National Lampoon titled "The J.R.R. Tolkien Fan Club Called To The Last Need of Middle Earth". I'll visit Middle Earth by reading.


    Ha! Have you heard of the PPC?


    No I hadn't, thanks, that's funny. I'm imagining a fanfic Heinlein multiverse novel where every world is based on unfortunate fanfic...


    First read my last bracketed sentence in my previous post, which was: Will need checking for accuracy/consistency, though Then, AIUI, opposition councillors still get to sit on committees & may even chair them.

    And, whatever the political party, the local council ( K&C ) were ultimately the people in charge, & not national government. It is entirely possible that a megatonne of shit is going to come down on K&C's head, with its tory majority, but trying to blame National guvmint is a waste of time & space.


    but 30% of Americans do like him and will continue to do so Godwin warning About the same level of support Adolf had in January 1933, in other words? IIRC, only one region of Germany ( Schleswig-Holstein, actually ) had a support for the NSDAP above 40% in the relevant & last election. Disturbing, isn't it?

    { Note: I still have my father's copy of the 4-volume full analysis of Germany, published by Naval Intelligence in early 1944 - which was part of what I've seen described as "The best set of Geography ( & History ) texts ever published". Other very interesting insights are available in those pages, too. }


    RBK&C Council uses the Leader and Cabinet structure. Apparently it is "more democratic" to have a single cabinet member responsible for something than to have a committee, or so central government told us when they started mesing with things years ago.


    Hard to say. What they're reporting is there's something like 20% are what the gutter press would characterise as "Remoaners" and the rest of the remain voters want Brexit to proceed. I'm in that (putative) 80%.

    But I'm in that group because, certainly with the Tories in charge and even if we'd elected Corbyn et al., I couldn't see either party saying "stuff the result, can we pretend it never happened please?" All the platitudes and slogans like "Strong and Stable", I mean "Brexit means Brexit" are meaningless, but until we have details about wtf that means even medium term planning is pretty pointless. What I would like is pretty irrelevant, but I could really do with having an increasingly good idea of what we're going to get.

    Now, I have some very strong ideas (throwing things at the television in anger verging on rage when a certainly Vulcan is interviewed about how good a 'no deal' will be for us) about just how disastrous some of the outcomes might be but, assuming we avoid the worst of all possible outcomes knowing, working out wtf to do (and emigrating to New Zealand is still my fallback plan), and getting on with is a lot better than remaining in limbo.


    Sorry, got interrupted I meant to say... but that's just my take others will have their own reasons no doubt.


    Posted while sinking a beer in Lisbon. Yes. I suspect that there was a very loose, tacit agreement until Omagh - and then the godfathers stamped down relatively hard. That matches the events. On the matter of competence, yes, but think of the comparisons :-(


    Sorry about the late reply - out of town and afk for a bit.

    Thanks for your comments, but still have no clue as to what May's Brexit strategy is. All I recall reading/seeing/hearing is that she wanted to get more clout entering negotiations - but absolutely nil/zip/zero/nada on specifics. For all I know, May wants all good Brits to sell their vacation properties in Spain, Greece, Italy, etc. and instead buy up all the central London properties that current non-nationals will be forced to sell as they're forced to pack up and leave as undesirable foreigners.

    Hmmm ... maybe now's the time for Brits to scurry into the EU and stock up on crates of wines, rounds of cheeses, etc. before May enacts laws that criminalize bringing Brie or Champagne into the UK. (Foreign bacteria and 'cultures', you know.)

    Grenfell Tower (London) ... horrible news, tragic loss of life based on a decision to save $10K by using a material known to be a fire-accelerator on a $17M reno. Also, from the Wiki description, seems as though this material is better suited for sewage than cladding.

    Below is a PDF that looks at 6 EU (Uk included - for now) countries and their varying building codes including for fire protection. Most discussion is about residential (up to 4-storey) buildings. My last summer's reads included a book by an Irish academic/engineer who repeatedly mentioned the need for the UK to update its building codes to at least match those of the EU - so I was half-expecting to learn from the news that this fire might be building code related.

    Fire Safety Codes and Construction Products within the EU – An Evaluation of Harmonisation

    Johan Bergström, Louise Ericsäter Brandteknik, Lunds tekniska högskola, Lunds universitet Fire Safety Engineering, Lund University, Sweden Rapport 5502, Lund 2015 Examensarbete på brandingenjörsutbildningen


    A comment this time. I see some assumptions that President Toad will be impeached. This is highly unlikely.

    With a couple exceptions, I agree with you. Those exceptions are probably obvious, so I won't bore you with them.

    This being said, there are a ton of more subtle ways to lose power. Imagine what "Impeachment in Place" would look like as an unofficial policy and that's a much more probable outcome.


    Re: "Impeachment in Place"

    Think this is the worst possible outcome because it would establish precedent to ignore POTUS and/or amend this into a purely and very expensive ceremonial role. All the cost of a monarch with none of its good-for-tourism image.

    Historically, a good reason for 3 different levels of gov't, e.g., fewer tie votes, therefore more motivation for different levels of gov't to engage in discussion/negotiation to resolve differences. What screws this up is that there are only 2 parties running the system, therefore running any of the 3 levels.

    Wondering whether having a nutcase POTUS is providing Congress & Senate with a smokescreen to do whatever they want to a greater extent than ever before because who's got time to watch them and DT at the same time.

    May - her hubbie is with a major financial institution whose job is to keep that bank's customers happy. No info on who his major customers are or what would make them happy. (Surprised that he's allowed to keep his job - seriously, would have thought that this would be a security concern.)


    "...but still have no clue as to what May's Brexit strategy is."

    See comments from El and myself. Nobody has a clue what it is. It doesn't even look as if the Tories themselves know what it is. All we get is crap slogans like "no deal is better than a bad deal" (with its implication that they're not actually going to bother getting a deal), and a general sense that nothing matters, everything to do with the EU can get fucked, we don't need no Europe because we're Britain and we can do anything rah rah rah rule Britannia oi where's the fuckin' bar John? as if this was still the 19th century and the only voting segment that mattered was the UKIP-is-too-far-left football hooligan types. Then, rather less obviously, things show up in the background like the bill to lock British regulations in line with EU ones by default even when we're not in it any more, which seems contradictory on one level - rabid leavers ensuring the perpetuation of all the EU red tape - but on another looks like a further indication that they haven't got a clue how to approach the enormous task of Britishising 40 years of EU-based regulations, and are opting for the easy way out, ie. don't bother and leave the mess for later governments to sort out. Half the problem is that nobody can get a handle on how to approach the situation because there simply isn't anything concrete to get a handle on.


    "multiple body-piles " makes perfect sense if you are standing on top of a pile of the bodies of your enemies.

    Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius." was allegedly spoken by Papal legate and Cistercian abbot Arnaud Amalric prior to the massacre at Béziers, the first major military action of the Albigensian Crusade. A direct translation of the Latin phrase would be "Kill them. For the Lord knows those that are His own."


    May's husband - security not so much, conflict of interest certainly, but nobody cares. Cf. Marples and his shares and his wife.


    You are SO defeatist! Of course there is something to 'get a handle on how to approach the situation " Thus ... "We don't want to fight but by jingo if we do, We've got the ships, we've got the men, and got the money too! We've fought the Bear before and while we're Britons true The Russians shall not have Constantinople. " There ..solved it for you!


    Agreed, it's a terrible outcome. That being said, I don't find it possible to imagine Trump gaining power - and he doesn't have much power now - without some kind of extraordinary event. So Impeachment in Place is probably the best we can hope for.


    I did notice that you'd given yourself a get out, yes. Still thought it was worth calling you on it.


    I wouldn't be too sure Trump won't be impeached. Trump has been in office less than 150 days. Consider Watergate.

    It was 8 months after the Watergate break-in before the first hearings in the Senate began and another 3 months after that before the first special prosecutor was appointed. The "Saturday Night Massacre" that everyone compares the Comey firing to occurred 6 months later - almost a year and a half after the Watergate break-in.

    It was a whole year after the Senate hearings began before the House Judiciary Committee was voted authority to conduct impeachment hearings and it was March 1974, not quite two years after the Watergate break-in before the Watergate Grand Jury handed down its first indictments. It was May 1974, 1 year and 11 months before the House Judiciary Committee held its first impeachment hearings and 2 years, 1 month and 10 days after the Watergate break-in before the House Judiciary Committee voted on the first Article of Impeachment.

    Most of the talk of impeachment has been brought on by Trump's ego. If he'd just left it alone, it's likely the investigation into Russian interference would not have found enough evidence to implicate Trump himself. He'd have skated.

    It's almost a mantra, "It's not the crime that gets you, it's the coverup."


    They'll sue the local council and go after the Tories in other ways.


    Qui s'excuse s'accuse, en effet.


    This point has been made before, but it seems useful to point it out again occasionally: impeachment is a political process, not a legal one. Trump can be impeached at any time for (essentially) any reason. By the same token, he will never be impeached as long as his party sees it as sufficiently in their own political interests to keep him.

    The only thing that matters is whether his presidency is seen as more of a political liability than his impeachment. Since the Republicans rode into office on his coattails and, through gerrymandering and voter suppression, are typically in almost unloseable seats, they primarily only worry about an attack from the right. By turning on Trump, they're liable to lose the next primary election to their own hyper-fascist wing who are angry with them not being crazy enough.

    Whether the crimes he's committed reach some abstract level of badness to warrant impeachment is completely irrelevant: there's no legal standard to hold him to, and the process only superficially resembles a court proceeding.


    Worth reading the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich - William Shirer. Wonderfully written by someone who was their. I'll have to dig out the volumes you mention to take a look.



    From where I sit, it looks like Trump is guilty of all kinds of nasty stuff. But as long as Congress is Republican, it doesn't matter. A Republican Congress will back Trump. (For those who are thinking about how Watergate went down, note that the current Congress is not composed of Nixon's Republican peers, who were much saner and much more fundamentally decent than the current crop of Republicans.)

    There are obvious exceptions to the rule that a Republican Congress will back Trump, with the old saw about "a live boy or a dead girl" applying here. But if Trump turns out to be really foul, (but not so foul that the scared, white racists abandon him) I would look for a strategy of containment rather than impeachment. Meanwhile, look for Pence to quietly circulate among the Republican base, with his Christianity and his racism set to "polite-but-obvious" so the national base can get acquainted with him just in case it becomes necessary to impeach.

    The big unknown here is whether the intelligence services get impatient for some reason and start leaking the material we all suspect is hidden in their vaults.


    Another point that must be emphasized: Impeachment requires a majority of the House of Representatives

    Conviction requires 2/3 of the Senate


    On a conceptual level, I'm not entirely opposed to the Presidency becoming more ceremonial than it is today.

    If it does become more ceremonial, a lot more of the power would fall onto the Speaker of the House, who was intended to have the powers similar to that of the French prime minister. Actually, I'm not sure if the founders intended on this power falling to the Speaker of the House or the President of the Senate? Since the Vice President is the President of the Senate, I doubt he was expected to have that much power.


    Next year, I believe, lots of sitting GOP senators have midterm elections. If Trump is considered an electoral liability because of Russia and Comey and Pence (or a.n.other if Pence is too tainted by the investigation) a 2/3rd majority in the Senate is not impossible because they'll vote to keep their seats ahead of backing Trump personally.


    but still have no clue as to what May's Brexit strategy is. Nor does anyone else, including her ... Let's face it, it's a shitstorm & the rabid brexiteers will raise hell if any attempt is made to reverse this crap. Things have got to get worse, before any sort of excuse to stop the lunacy can be implemented.

    In the same way that Drumpf's antics & crimes have to get a lot worse (in public, that is) before he can be easily, as opposed to legitimately, removed.


    There are several versions of that, all with the same message though. Neca eos omnes. Deus suos agnoscet. Is one alternative.


    Which (get-out) looks to be half-true ... As I suggested, later, it now looks as though a megatonne-shitstorm is going to dump on K&C council. After all, they were the ultimate owners, through a supposedly "arms-length" management company. Yeah. Bastards ( probably )


    Well, of course, I have done that, I still have a copy somewhere... The one I want to read is his account of the fall of France, 1940 .....


    True as far as it goes, but I don't think that K&CC can be blamed for LFB not owning (or at least not deploying as first response vehicles) Brontos!


    " All we get is crap slogans like "no deal is better than a bad deal" (with its implication that they're not actually going to bother getting a deal), and a general sense that nothing matters, everything to do with the EU can get fucked, we don't need no Europe because we're Britain and we can do anything rah rah rah rule Britannia oi where's the fuckin' bar John?"

    My working assumption has always been that "No deal is better than a bad deal" was be the justification that whatever deal we do get was the best possible deal (and hence that TM was The Best Possible PM at the head of The Best Possible Government, and hence fully deserving of her portrait in Downing Street, page in the history texts, national treasure status, etc, etc, etc) on the basis that...

    A) It was a deal


    B) It was the only deal, with a complete lack of Parliamentary or public scrutiny/oversight/input meaning that there was no knowledge of what the potential alternatives were.


    Yeah, what passes for fire safety is rather shocking, You cannot do that sort of cladding in the USA or Germany, for example, and I'd expect sprinklers are a requirement on something like that here, and dedicated fire stairs (well, a second set of stairs, either outside, or in a fire resistant interior staircase) are an absolute requirement, and have been for a very long time. The whole thing is rather shocking, on the level of what they were allowed to get away with, only one entrance to the building!!! That's not allowed FOR A BEDROOM IN MY HOUSE!!! You can go out a window or a door (or two doors? I'm not sure), or it's not a bedroom, and of course everything has two exits, minimum (well, my office doesn't, but there is a limit as to how far you can go before having multiple escape choices, and we make that number).

    I'm in the USA, in California, San Francisco bay area, so we also have a bunch of rules regarding earthquakes. I'd think there has long been enough blood spilled for England to have written better safety rules.


    "Green: Give actual REASONS why nuclear power is a bad idea, please?"

    Poor bugger. Who'd want to be a Green canvasser at your door.

    You've had it explained several times on here why Nuclear's only actual uses are as a pork barrel to be rolled out when required or as a way for politicians to transfer vast quantities of public money into the hands of private industry (that they might later consult for).

    It's been water off a duck's back.

    BTW the solar system that I installed on my house 18 months ago, which provides more than enough power for me, my cooking, heating, cooling and electric vehicle, cost 12000 AUD. I saw one the same size advertised on TV yesterday for 3900 AUD. So 0.8 AUD (0.5 GBP) per installed watt, for a retail system, which includes profit for the retailer, getting permission from the network and having a new meter installed and a VAT like tax of 10%. So even if you only got a third of the output in the UK that I get here (You'd actually get about 80%), you'd be on par with what I paid just over a year ago. Of course none of those "extras" apply to government grid scale installs. So about 0.25 GBP per installed watt for grid scale. Compared to Hinkley Point at about 7.5 GBP per installed watt. So even the up front cost of solar is now a tiny fraction of the upfront cost of nuclear. Of course HPC would (when it's finally producing) be able to generate about 90% of it's nameplate on average, while solar only about 30%, so HPC is only about 10 times more expensive than solar up front, but... Then there's the running costs...


    All valid points, but I think you still miss my point.

    Trump has only been in office 150 days. It's much too soon to say whether he will or will not be impeached. It took 2 years with Nixon.

    It took the rabid right GOP SIX YEARS to impeach Clinton and even then they could only do so after they were lame ducks and couldn't lose anything else by doing so. And don't think the Democrats have forgotten that either.


    Yes, it's been explained, as a partisan argument- that has SOME truth in it. But: Nuclear power for base-loiad, the constant spprox 20-30% of power that you need all the time ... Nuclear is surely, still the best option? Not-so-hypothetical scenario. It's mid-January in the UK, there's a blocking high pressure over S Norway, resulting in very low air movement, the sun is "over the horizon" for approx 8.5 hours a day & the max/min temperatures are ( lets say just outside the London heat island ) +3 & -5 C respectively. Where is your power going to come from, without BURNING something?


    even if you only got a third of the output in the UK that I get here (You'd actually get about 80%),

    "Citation needed."

    COS(33.9 degrees = Sydney) / COS(51.5 degrees = London) = 0.75 and that is ignoring the increased thickness of the atmosphere that the sun's rays travel through (not to mention the infamous UK weather i.e. lots of clouds and rain, not to mention the UK air pollution which is very high).

    and of course COS(Edinburgh) / COS(Sydney) = 0.67 (and the thickness of the atmosphere is - if I calculate correctly - 1.5x there, bringing the effectiveness down to about 0.45 at best).

    So unless you live in the very far south (Hobart?) and Greg lives in London (which I think he might) your claim of 80% would be some way off. Even Hobart vs London, due to air pollution 80% would be pushing it I would think.

    PV solar has dramatically dropped in price over the last decade or so, but let's not exaggerate its viability in the UK, especially in the North thereof. Not to mention that unlike hotter places, electricity demand is not driven so much by aircon and there is more demand in winter (when the sun basically does not shine as far as PV solar is concerned!) than in summer.


    I might believe this is the EU side of things wasn't so open. We've got 27 member states, the EU parliament and the EU commission as interested parties on their side and so they're just being open about what's going on basically following the old adage that 2 people can keep a secret if one of them's dead. They can't kill all the people they have to tell, so they just publish it publicly.

    They might not publish every minute of every bit of every negotiation but they've got no particular reason to hide what deal was offered to the UK and what deal was reached. Their interested parties will be interested in the details and we'll be able to read them since they'll be published in English. TM can't just say "This is the best we could get" because, although I disagree with the EU's stance of negotiating it all piecemeal, we will be able to see the parts going through and what was offered.

    And one of the big "we're not going to offer rights to EU citizen's" brave stances has just been put on the table as a first up thing by the EU, alongside money as the most important thing. They're really doing a good job of ripping out a lot of the bluster we've seen from HMG.


    Since I've used this article to pitilessly whip SEMPRA over their proposal to route a new 36" gas main into San Diego, I'll post it here.

    The tl;dr version is that the Sempra is a big, for-profit energy company that runs a lot of local monopoly utilities, including SDG&E, and they're about to start selling a nifty new grid management software package through a new company. The VP in charge of that company was recorded at an energy industry conference as saying it was possible to run California on 100% renewable energy, that baseload generation wasn't the only option any more. Sempra has since walked back his comment to assure people that they're still in the natural gas game, just as all the environmentalists put on their hobnailed boots to polka on their proposals to build new gas lines in California.

    I'm honestly not sure how this will play out in the rest of the world, but if you believe what this dude said, the next generation of grid management software should be able to bring storage online much faster and handle widely swinging loads, to the point where you don't necessarily need a base load generator running all the time. I do hope it works as advertised. I also hope the dude didn't get fired for announcing it so publicly...

    Next year, I believe, lots of sitting GOP senators have midterm elections. If Trump is considered an electoral liability [...]

    It's exactly the opposite: 25 (including independents) of the seats are Democrats vs. 8 Republicans.

    In addition, about 8 of the Democrats' seats are in unsafe Republican-leaning states, while only 1 Republican is in an unsafe seat. The rest of the Republicans are in extremely right-wing states like Texas, Wyoming, Mississippi etc.


    My thumbnail on the current situation: Since the USSR collapsed, we've had this unipolar, English-speaking world. With Trump and Brexit, we're kind of seeing a hiatus in that, perhaps permanently. And the resulting multipolar world will be unstable, until the warmongers have figured out who's swinging the biggest set of weaponized ego-substitutes.

    We're also seeing the rise of informational warfare. Since warfare is the violent continuation of politics, and cyberwar is a form of non-violent warfare, it's....politics as run by the Military Industrial Complexes? Much of traditional non-violent warfare (cf Gandhi, labor strikes, the end of the Marcos regime in the Philippines, etc.) was mass organized protest, which needed the military-like organization of large numbers of people, without arming them to kill others. What we're seeing with cyberwarfare is a mechanization of that kind of warfare, so a single person with the right equipment can have as much impact as a whole march of protestors, a DDoS attack can instantly have the effect of months of traditional boycotts, and a hacking and propaganda campaign can do as much as a regiment of "friendly military advisors" stationed near the capitol of a client state.

    So yes, things have changed, and they'll keep changing, just as they did when machine guns and good repeating rifles came to dominate the battlefield. That led to WWI, and I suspect that we're going to keep underestimating the power of cyberwar and non-violent protest until we end up in Web War I, splinter the internet, and disable a bunch of communications and surveillance satellites (which won't be good for global commerce or climate change monitoring).

    Now getting back to Washington. The current president seems to be trying to run the US as if it was one of his son-in-law's tenements, where the goal is to maximize profits through not providing services and running a too-lean organization. Why doesn't the Congress impeach him? Here are some reasons: --They're so beholden to the billionaires that they'll just let this run. Either it will work, or it won't work and the party will be free of these leeches. Probably a lot of politicians figure they'll win as either the sock-puppets of the wealthy or born-again champions of the people if the billionaires continue to be as incompetent as they seem to be now.
    --It's not clear that Pence is free of this mess. If they impeach the President, we either get Pence or Ryan as US President. I don't think Ryan looks presidential to anyone (possibly including himself), so the critical question is whether Pence sufficiently isolated himself from the Russia mess or not. He's lawyering up too, so that's not a good sign. --They still think Libertarianism will work (as in running the country with a minimalist administration). This will be disproved by the first major crisis, in 3...2...1... --The Democrats can't do squat unless they take back the Congress in 2018, and then we'll have Pelosi as President, which means that we probably won't get stuff done until 2020 (I'm thinking about 2008, when she was in charge and not a lot changed). If we get a new, Democratic Speaker of the House in 2018, watch out.

    On the third hand, one of the things we're seeing die away is the notion of the Imperial US President, whose hand on the nuclear trigger makes him worth listening to. The US President still has the nukes, but it's quite clear he can't and won't nuke Pittsburgh. Since he also runs on a BS/Bully/Settle routine, quite a lot of leaders have figured out that all they have to do to deal with him is weather the bullying, and he'll roll over, even though he claims the imperial privilege of being above the law. The end of a presidential imperium is both good and bad. It played a huge role in Cold War politics with the whole nuclear standoff thing, but it also played a huge role in creating institutions like the CIA and Military Industrial Complex, that were beyond anyone's control. Those who want to see these institutions brought to heel should be thrilled by having the President's power curtailed. Unfortunately, there will be international ramifications, and that's probably going to be bloody. Add in increasing numbers of refugees, and it could get very, very messy.


    Pence ... He's lawyering up too, so that's not a good sign.

    This is just a practical matter. Anyone who's an employee of the White House really needs to have a lawyer at this point. And their own to boot. Now that there's a special prosecutor any tiny misstep can lead to an investigation of anyone and a legal bill for $100K or more.

    There's a lot of speculation about how the Trump administration may never fill lots of vacancies. Even the ones they want to fill. Because along with the pay and benefits all new hires get to look at spending $10K or more for legal help to start just to make sure they aren't swept up into the swamp.


    it was possible to run California on 100% renewable energy, that baseload generation wasn't the only option any more. In California, possibly, even probably. The northernmost edge of California is at 42 N London is at 51.30 N

    Try again, like I said, on a cold, still winter's day. Um.


    Wondering at what point the Supreme Court might be asked to step in to decide whether the spirit of democratic governance has been broken by DT.

    There's bound to be some legalism by which to unseat a POTUS, otherwise it's all left to the pols. Unlike elected pols who use 'rules' to explain away or hide behind when asked about their mischief, SCOTUS is bound to uphold foundational principles. If SCOTUS does get involved, maybe DT would step down faster esp. considering the straight streak of judges knocking down his targeted anti-majority Muslim state) immigration 'law'.


    Not Going To Happen. Do a GREP for "could literally shit on the white house desk". Hint: they stole a SCOTUS place and the Democratic Party did nothing because they imagined Hilary would win.


    You're not playing against rational actors nor are you playing against humans. Any pretense you are merely makes you Dog Food.

    While your (American Liberals in general) naivety is cute, it will get you killed. They're gunning for that 2/3rd Constitutional majority and ALEC and all that money will make it happen. Then FEMUR CAMPS but for realz.

    Pro-tip: Look @ the UK, notice anything recently? (We notice Murdoch jumping onto the flagging coat-tails of EU non-Brexit, but fails to see France 2018 really kicking off - dumb fucking Apes. He's Mine).

    You have to play hard or not play at all.


    GO. I always love 神の一手. And no, Neural Nets do not play GO, they miss the point. "Our Kind Play GO" means the Map is the Terrain. [So long for that punchline, you're welcome].


    All those Hexads, unfolding in a fractal pattern. It's beautiful.


    Citation Provided

    I dropped a pin on the UK at "Location: 51°47'58" North, 0°36'54" West, Elevation: 126 m a.s.l.,". That seemed to be about the middle of the population given about 3 seconds thought.

    It's just outside of Aylesbury (no, I'm not saying that we should bulldoze Aylesbury.

    The yearly average is 2.93 kWh per kW of installed PV, Facing north at the optimal angle. That's calculated with 14.2% system losses (which seems extraordinarily high).

    For Sydney (using the site you picked) the equivalent figure is 3.9 kWh/kWp


    Ok, that comes out to be 75% not 80%... Not far off as an estimate for a figure pulled off the top of my head. Note that this isn't the figure I used in my post, it's an aside. The figure I used to show that Nuclear was the clearly vastly more expensive was 33.3%.

    If you add adjustable tilt (common in grid scale PV) the figure for Aylesbury comes out at 3.63, but that's not exactly apples with apples.


    --The Democrats can't do squat unless they take back the Congress in 2018, and then we'll have Pelosi as President, which means that we probably won't get stuff done until 2020 (I'm thinking about 2008, when she was in charge and not a lot changed). If we get a new, Democratic Speaker of the House in 2018, watch out.


    So horribly, horribly wrong.

    How to tell you this: Your World is Fire and Blood [Yes: very unsubtle hints towards Deutschblütigkeitserklärung].

    Pelosi: Democrats are capitalists CNN, 2nd Feb, 2017

    Nancy Pelosi: "We're capitalists, and that's just the way it is" #PelosiTownHall CNN, Twitter, 31st Jan, 2017


    2017 is Wildhunt and Masque of the Red Death. The illusion is being shattered here boys, and the ones scrabbling around to preserve the illusion are not your friends.

    That's a strawman. And not a very good strawman.

    You point out that there may be periods where Solar and Wind are not producing. What are we going to do then? Eh? Eh? Bet you never thought of that you green scum.

    Well the longest period that Solar is out of action is about 16 hours. Pound for Pound, you can install 30 times more solar than Nuclear (that's a minimum, more on that in a second) so even at the winter solstice, on a cloudy day, solar will make more electricity, pound for pound, than nuclear.

    But wait, says your strawman, you've got to BURN something during those 16 hours. Well yeah, you've got to have something else. Maybe you pump hydro, maybe you exchange power with Norway. Your solar goes to them during the day, their hydro comes to you at night. Maybe you (gasp) BURN something. The implied idea is that Nuclear just runs forever producing limitless clean power... No


    Ignore the Blogspot does that. It's a blog from a pro nuclear mob.

    Nuclear plants need to be shut down for refuelling. Rather than this taking 16 hours, it takes on average 43 days. That's just the average. This happens every 18 months to 2 years IF you use highly enriched fuel. If you use normal fuel that's every 12 months. It takes about 2000 extra contract workers to do this. Being contract workers, they have to be trained specially for this role each time. I have no idea what that would cost, but the phrase "a lot" springs to mind. During that 43 days you either have to burn something, or you have to have a complete second reactor to provide power (this pushes nuclear upfront costs up to 60 times more than Solar)

    Ok, so I said 30 times was the minimum. I just said up to 60 times if you include the backup nuclear reactors to cover the month or more spent refuelling every year or two.

    But that's if the Government foots the whole bill as they are with Nuclear.

    Instead you could provide interest free loans to people to put solar on their rooves. Have them pay it back over 15 years as part of their power bill. In that case the government is really only picking up the interest, which for them is about 0.5%. (under 10% in total over 15 years) If instead of sending 24 billion pounds to France they could spend 24 billion pounds on interest in the UK and make 240 billion pounds available to home owners and investors to install PV. No, I'm not saying that the New Town needs to be carpeted with PV, nor that we need to convert all farming land to PV. Using that as a force multiplier, for the same cost as HPC to install 3.2 GW, you could install up to 480 GW of private PV. (In actual fact, the VAT would more than cover the interest cost, so if the offer was taken up fully, the Her Majesty's Government would make about 15 billion pounds profit). You'd also create thousands of jobs at the same time.


    Oh, and for scale, to get a grip on what 480 GW of PV means,

    UK Summer load is about 25 GW and Winter load is about 35 GW.



    .. Sigh. The way refueling actually works is that you have one crew servicing a rotation of nuke plants. This is all that crew ever does, it is their lifetime job. No extra training costs incurred, tough it is skilled labor.

    Anyway, there are two types of low carbon emission.

    One is a pr exercise, in which politicians want to show they are hip to the future and "Doing something to address global warming" This gets you white elephants, like solar in northern Germany, and plans to add one nuclear power plant to a grid measured in high double digits gigawatts. Both of which are plans custom designed to not actually disrupt the status quo in any shape way or form, while shoveling vast sums of tax payer money at whoever the politicians in charge want to bribe. - This does not necessarily mean "their corporate masters" - as far as I can work out, the primary beneficiaries if the German solar boondoggle are the upper reaches of the German middle class who get to not pay any taxes on a good chunk of their electricity and feel righteous about being the recipients of a huge transfer of wealth, and certain segments of the skilled labor workforce. It certainly isn't the environment - Germany still has horribly dirty electricity overall.

    Energy policies designed to actually do something do not look like this, and do not have cost structures like this. When the state is in earnest about transitioning to a new energy source, you get programs like the Swedish and French nuke build programs. High standardization, lots of beefing up of the grid, and cost controls with teeth.

    For solar, here is what that looks like: First, you notice that essentially all of north africa has

    a: Very expensive electricity. They are mostly burning oil for it. Not kidding.

    b: A very good solar resource.

    Then you send some nice negotiators to several of these nations with a very simple offer. You will modernize their grid and sell them electricity to their industry and citizens at a guaranteed and reasonable rate (underbidding their current grid is trivial. They are paying through the nose) as long as they also permit you to export electricity produced surplus to domestic requirements. Then you pave over however much of the sahara you have to in solar cells. There, done. HVDC lines have very low losses, even over thousands of kilometers, and with this setup the locals wont fuck with you, because they are also getting their electricity from you.

    And your costs in solar panels, land purchases, ect are a quarter or less of what they would be in europe. Your backup and load following requirements also fall of a cliff for the simple reason that the sun is just a lot more reliable source of power in an equatorial desert than it is in Hamburg. Seasonal variation, what seasonal variation?


    "the next generation of grid management software should be able to bring storage online much faster and handle widely swinging loads, to the point where you don't necessarily need a base load generator running all the time."

    Experienced network operators can do this already with no problems at all. This is their job, to manage wildly swinging loads and supplies. Big central generators can and do just drop off the network with no warning. The network ops guys keep the system humming along and unless you had test gear hooked up to the power and were watching it like a hawk, you'd never know.

    People who've never set foot in a control room act like this is something weird and impossible to manage. You hear the 40% renewable limit bandied about all the time. To the network, 40% renewables coming on line looks like a gradual 40% drop in demand. They manage this and more, every single night.

    Switching on and off storage is something they do every day in most networks. We have the Snowy Mountains pumped hydro, and I know the UK has something similar though smaller, to handle making tea. The network operators I've spoken to love storage. It makes their job super easy. No funny software breakthroughs are required.


    I've never set foot in a control room, but until recently, Sempra has acted very much like load balancing with lots of solar and wind is impossible to do, which is why they need all their shiny new natural gas plants. Formerly they ran San Onofre, but I'm not going to beat that undead pile of stored waste by the ocean.

    Are they being honest about things? There's a lot of reason to think not, but the one thing I haven't heard is that it's easy for grid operators to balance a lot of homes like mine, where power output may suddenly drop because I turn on the AC or plug in an electric car.

    That's why it was genuinely surprising to hear a Sempra VP say on the record that there's no technological reason they can't balance the load running with lots of renewables, and that furthermore they're planning to make money on it. For once, I hope that their scheme works out, especially because it means we don't have to deal with them adding a new gas line more than twice the diameter of the old one.


    I'm confused. How is this different than what I said? Nothing much will change if she's in power, particularly because she's hated as much as Hillary Clinton.


    Yes, that's exactly right.

    If you look at my previous comments in previous threads, you'll see that I've long proposed more or less exactly what you're proposing, but on a global scale, rather than a UK scale. The sun is shining on some near equatorial desert somewhere in the world all the time.

    Citation: Comment 257

    I've basically stopped presenting the best option as for some reason, putting solar in other countries seems to go against the grain. Only complete self sufficiency ever seems to be acceptable. Of course everyone seems to be happy to put any other kind of factory where the labour is cheap, and that's perfectly fine.

    People are weird.

    Of course the other thing is that solar is getting so cheap now that it's making some sense to put it where it's convenient, rather than efficient. Rather like computing in the 70's v 90's. Computers got so cheap that you may as well put one on every desk, where they do nothing 99% of the time because it's more convenient than one big computer that works 99% of the time.


    You misunderstand.

    Your Timeline no longer follows such possibilities.

    You're not in fucking Kansas anymore, Tonto.

    Your World IS GONE.

    How many more hints do you need to understand this?

    70%+ Obese / Morbidly Obese population.

    They're ramping up the genotyped bioweapons as we speak.


    Look: I'd bother to dump 100 cross-indexed links from this week on you, but it's clear your kind simply cannot process information properly (c.f. this entire thread with people arguing over Dead History and not actually grasping the important points put across, whoooo booooy, two days before the UK press (Times, Guardian) ran with them. You're fucking welcome).

    You're slow.

    You're annoying.

    You're fucking aggressive and petulant when beaten.

    You're genocidal when faced with a thing better than you.

    You're pathetic when actually challenged and then spam a la DOTA2 cyka blyat if you think you cannot win by legitimate means.

    Your World is dying and you're arguing over Orange tans, oil and religion.

    You're Fucked

    Hint: You're not the only self-aware species on the planet.

    Look @ Host's Twitter. There's a person there. Might be Баба-яга. Who links to another and so on, until you hit the message:

    "Post Hubris, Nemesis".

    We do love our fan-girls.


    "I haven't heard is that it's easy for grid operators to balance a lot of homes like mine"

    No you haven't. It's not the message that the press likes to spin. It's actually very easy. The key phrase is "a lot of homes". Balance one home, almost impossible. Two is easier. Two thousand and it's not hard. Two million and it's a doddle.

    Equally balancing one generator is actually impossible. Two is very hard. Twenty is ok if you have complete command over them in real time and lots of spinning reserve (that's like momentum that holds the frequency in the face of fluctuations in demand and supply). Two million and it's a doddle too.

    Any generator can go off line suddenly. Any load (think of it as a negative generator) can come on line suddenly. If you have two million, then they're going to be going off and coming on all the time in tiny amounts and balance is easy. Just command some of the larger ones (load or generator) to turn on or off as required, a bit of spinning reserve and Bob's your uncle, the Network Control guys get to drink coffee and play cards. Wind and sun is forecast days ahead. No-one is stressed, life is good. The legendary load in the industry is the UK tea kettle. Apparently when the ad break of a popular afternoon soap hits, everyone in the UK stands up together and puts on the kettle. I'm told the network guys actually get a forecast of ad breaks ahead of time, and have the TV going in the control room so they can meet that sudden load. There's a special pumped hydro set up pretty much just for that. Aussie controllers spoke about it in amazed tones.



    It's even worse in Australia, because 75% of the population lives 3000km from an amazing solar resource that's three hours behind them (the east coast of Australia where the people are and Western Australia where the iron ore comes from). So there's not even international borders to deal with, or storage - you can cover the afternoon/evening peak demand (which is in the summer) just by covering some old mine sites with PV. Mining in WA tends to be "remove this hill" because why dig a hole when there's iron ore everywhere?

    This is endlessly frustrating to Australians, because the coal lobby owns our Liberal (conservative) party, and they're in coalition with the agrarian socialists ("rural jobs are the only ones that matter"). GRRRRR.


    Oh, and we have had at least four reports into 100% renewables, all of which concluded that it's possible using current off the shelf technology. Even the one commissioned by the anti-renewable "conservative" government just concluded that it would be no cheaper than business as usual (the others ranged from "much cheaper" to "slightly cheaper" depending on their assumptions). None of those reports suggested nukes, except the government one which said they were too expensive.

    In shocking news the coal-fired luddites in parliament received that news without reaction and continued as though nothing had happened.


    Actually I'll also let you in on what makes a grid hard to balance, to the point that there's real fear of collapse.


    Everyone screams about how renewables will destablise the grid (which is complete bollocks). I've literally never heard anyone outside the industry say that privatisation may destablise the grid.

    A normal grid, as they were designed in proper countries, was a full on Marxist state. To each according to need, from each according to ability. They run swimmingly. Got a storage hot water system? You don't need power all day, we'll remotely turn it off in peak times, turn it on when there's spare capacity. Power station broken? No Worries, we'll just command this other, less efficient one to come on line. Normally it's ability isn't that great, but right now, when your ability is down, we'll get from them. Let us know when you're ready to come back on line. From each according to ability.

    Privatisation takes that great model and just sets it on fire. Now there's a "spot price"


    The price can be anything (even negative) up to 14 000 dollars per MWh (in normal retail prices that's 14 dollars (about 8 pounds) per unit of electricity. Instead of the generators being commanded centrally to turn on and off as required, the price goes up and down. Generators enter and leave the market as they see fit. Some commands can be issued when the operating reserve gets too low, and more forceful commands when the reserve gets really low.

    So imagine you're a company with 5 big generators. You're selling your electricity at 66.67 dollars per MWh (that's the price as I write this). If it's summer, record high temperatures, and the airconditioning demand is high, and some of the interconnectors are down, you might be seeing 120 dollars per MWh.

    The temperature is high, your 5 plants are running flat out. If one of them should overheat and drop say 2000 MW off the grid, you're going to lose 240 000 dollars an hour while it's down. So everyone agrees, that you'd take every possible step to keep them running. The invisible hand of the market saves the day, right? Even if that's not enough incentive, there's a fine, possibly hundreds of thousands per day that the plant isn't operating.

    But the other 4 plants keep going, producing 8000 MW. The spot price maxes out at 14 000 dollars per MWh. Your remaining 4 plants are making you 112 million dollars PER HOUR



    That's why it was genuinely surprising to hear a Sempra VP say on the record that there's no technological reason they can't balance the load running with lots of renewables, and that furthermore they're planning to make money on it. For once, I hope that their scheme works out, especially because it means we don't have to deal with them adding a new gas line more than twice the diameter of the old one.

    This IS old hat. The plant my dad worked at (nuclear gaseous diffusion) struck up a deal with TVA (federally chartered power system in southeastern US) to drop 300 to 400MW of load on less than 2 hours notice. This was to help the TVA keep meet expected short term demand. And balance the load through 3 feed lines with 2 switch yards. All in the later 70s / early 80s.


    I'm glad the Australian grid is so intelligently designed. The US is a bit more ad hoc and messy.

    As an example, the 2011 blackout I went through was caused by a single technician making a single mistake. It's worth looking at.


    Oh, we have our moments. A storm caused some lines to fail, and our extremely cost effective grid went into cascading failures across South Australia. The media fell wholesale for the coal-fired line that this was caused by "too many intermittent wind plants, not enough coal". Untrue, but who cares, they got the headlines on the day and then everyone moved on.

    Plus the "Finkel Report" into electricity supply which was designed to show that coal is the only option and... didn't do that. Oops.

    This stuff consistently makes me want to cry, mostly because it was all old news when I was studying electrical engineering in the 1980s. The only thing that has changed is the prices of the various options. Chemical batteries are somewhat cheaper per MWh, hydro is more expensive. Both are somewhat more efficient. PV is much cheaper and also more efficient. But there is no "OMG, that's new and radical" stuff in there.

    Admittedly when I was studying it was in a country where 90% renewable electricity was considered a bad thing that cost the country a lot of money because the other 10% mostly came from imported oil. The engineering focus was on avoiding that by getting renewables closer to 100%, allowing for a peaking gas plant or two. Yay NZ in the 1970s.

    As New Matilda said, this is not a technology or engineering discussion, it is politics. The technical questions have been answered so often it's got boring. Politically... we are in an energy supply Trump time. WTF do people keep voting for these idiots?


    I'm guessing the revelatory clue here is his phrase "there's no technological reason why not", implying by unspoken counter emphasis that of course there's economic, political and consumer preference reasons why not. There's been wireless thermostat attachments for over a decade letting utility companies shut off home air conditioners remotely during peak demand periods, eliminating their need to pay for peak load generation that sits idle 358 days a year. Only when installed in places like Bakersfield Cal. and Boulder Colorado, customers hated the gadgets so much they fought the program to a standstill. Boulder voted themselves out of utility control altogether and have their own municipally run power company now. Texas had incidents of homeowners chasing utility employees off with guns when they got pushy about it. What they should have promoted instead was a little meter showing the price per minute of what a kilowatt hour is going for, allowing people to ration out their own usage based on real time market information. Maybe they're afraid that then people would cut back too much at the times they make most profit. Until they figure a way that's acceptable they're stuck "wheeling" power from cheap areas to expensive areas over lines that were never built to handle that kind of extra trafficking. Maybe the next big nationwide blackout will focus the public's attention.


    Mostly political/(alternate reality) economics.

    Contact with the vast sums of money (by everyday standards) that are bandied about in the electricity game is for a certain class of people about the same as contact with an ungrounded summoning grid. That class of people is also strongly attracted to politics... What you end up with is politicians who's eyes are full of glowing worms.

    People not liking things is pretty much par for the course. When I worked for a fully state owned and run electricity company, less than a decade ago, electricity was 12 cents per kWh. Having workers chased off the property by gun wielding nutjobs wasn't a daily occurrence, but certainly once a month or so. Now it's fully privatised and electricity is 38 cents per kWh... Still we managed to have controlled load work well, you just offer it at a reduced rate and you make sure that you turn it off every day so people get used to it.

    Where it doesn't work well is when corporations are involved. We have a reasonable sized aluminium smelter on the network. They get a massively reduced rate on their electricity, but the deal is they shut down in times of emergency. In the situation I described above, where electricity hit 14 000 dollars per MWh, and despite several days notice, they point blank refused to shut down. Again, there appears to be no reasoning with people who's eyes are full of worms.

    Citation: (from the press who reported some of the facts, and faithfully reported some alternative facts as they were told, but spun it 180 degrees away from reality, eyes full of worms)

    How big are the discounts? "Discussions with industry experts indicate that aluminium smelters pay 1.5-2.5 c/kWh for delivered electricity. This compares with 5-6 c/kWh for other large industrial users operating in the competitive market" Citation:

    Given that electricity accounts for about 40% of the cost of making aluminium, that's a pretty huge discount. Citation:


    Aluminum smelters are a shitty load balancing customers. The deal is really tempting to them will - electricity costs are everything to alu production, but if they do, they are lying, because aluminum has a long-ass batch time, and sudden shut-down can damage their equipment. There is a reason so much of that industry is in Iceland. Iron smelting works better - much shorter batch time, indestructible furnaces.


    Sorry but emphatically NOT a "straw man" I would much like you predictions & suggestions to be true & feasible, but they are not. Let's try ;living in the real world, shall we? Where is the baseload power going to come from?

    [ I do have an alternative, mega-engineering solution to that, but I don't think anyone is listening. ]


    Oh dear, you've reverted....And, btw, a previous quote from # 355 nor are you playing against humans. Got ANY EVIDENCE FOR THAT AT ALL?

    Please produce it.


    You're dead right again. In the end, they caved in and shut off each of their 3 pots in rotation for an hour and a quarter each, taking 290 MW off the grid. Given that they had 3 days notice, it was still a pretty piss poor effort. I think they finally realised that it was a case of shut some stuff down semi gracefully or we're going to pull the pin from our end. I don't know how long a batch takes, but 3 days sounds like enough of a heads up time. If a batch is less than 3 days (I don't know) then they should have been able to shut down all 3 pots and there would have been no issue. Instead they played brinkmanship. If the system had collapsed (and it was pretty friggin close) then we'd have seen a few million people stuck in a city with no airconditioning in 46 degree heat. Citation:


    Here I would agree with you 150% A central grid for electricity, with no central control & power stations built for indovidual profit, rather than the need of the whole country? One, very small benefit of the latter though. The old power-boards refused point-blank to let niche / individual / experimental producers in & deliberately priced them out of the market, thuis totally stifling innovation. Now, we've gone to the opposite extreme, which is probably even worse.


    Ok, not a Strawman then...

    So let me ask you, where does the "baseload" (grrr, It's physically painful to type that word in that context. The press uses this term completely wrong.) come from when your nuclear plant is out of operation for an average of 1032 hours (compared to the maximum of 16 for solar)?

    I maintain that the pro nuclear guys make out that nuclear is a never interrupted stream of limitless nearly free power. You're not doing anything to dispel that stereotype.

    Both systems have regular outages that can be forecast. Solar's is 16 hours, nuclear is 1000. Solar's occurs at night, Nuclear's is day and night. Which one is harder to cover? I've already described how to cover solar's (which you've chosen to ignore and just keep asking the same question again and again). There are several other ways that would work because the time without supply is short. The only (low carbon) way to cover nuclear's is to build more nuclear or build the same backup as solar, but 100 times bigger.

    Both systems have irregular outages (fault conditions). Solar's widely distributed, with thousands, or even millions of small generators. No one outage makes any difference. Nuclear has a few generators that each contribute a large percentage of the total. Two unplanned outages at once could bring down the grid. (Or you keep an even bigger capacity reserve making nuclear even more expensive).


    We find ourselves in violent agreement. The old power boards/commissions weren't very open to innovation. Risk aversion went to new levels. It did make for a very stable network, but not a very modern one.


    "[ I do have an alternative, mega-engineering solution to that, but I don't think anyone is listening. ]"

    I'm listening... (we're well past 300, I try not to mention solar until we get to 300)

    So far in the "mega-engineering" category I've proposed a world spanning HVDC power grid, with countries trading power right across the world (It's always sunny somewhere), and for heat/energy storage across seasons in the UK, a cubic kilometre of melted salt. Slightly less mega, molten salt as an a zero carbon energy storage for shipping (Yay steam ships!)



    points at data centres and supercomputers

    You're really not good at metaphors.

    If anything this week in the UK has shown, it's that the bubble really exists and Power only counts if you're good at governance. Tick-Tock.


    Anyhow, if you want to get a handle on America at the moment, Catherine Malabou is an interesting one: Les nouveaux blessés : De Freud à la neurologie, penser les traumatismes contemporains AMZN 2007.

    The concept of destructive plasticity & trauma to the self in context to the "American Dream" is an interesting bit of pattern matching (Zizek touches upon her in "Living in the End Times", 291-314 in his own fashion). "...not so much figures of those who want to die as figures of those who are already dead, or, rather, to employ a strange and terrible grammatical twist, who have already been dead, who have 'experienced' death". *Points to Zombies as the fin de siècle horror of choice of the Western world.

    It all ties in.

    Les nouveaux blessés. Psychanalyse, neurologie et plasticité. Intro, 15 pages, French, PDF, legal. (Note: highly abstract and difficult French. Please do not bother with mewling engineers disease when reading / thinking about it. Deal with it or go watch Fox News).


    Noone has a grid that is one nuke plant. When advocating for nuclear as a grid solution, arguing about the "baseload" suitability of a single plant is arguing in bad, or at least, in unexamined faith. Nuclear as a solution to climate change means build projects on the scale of the French or Swedish grid transitions of oil. Including storage solutions to balance out the day to day fluctuations.

    As I said, there is a difference between an energy policy meant to actually solve a problem and one which is supposed to give good Public Relations. And comparing like for like, PR solar has every bit as lengthy outages as nuke plants do. Entire gigawatts of solar generating capacity do essentially nothing every single year in Germany for months on end because it was not built to work, it was built to give homeowners in north Germany warm fuzzies without any regard whatsoever for the physical geography and what it means for production. Building one nuke plant is an expensive non-solution to nothing - you have to train labor, you have to build infrastructure for waste disposal, you have to pay off the design costs from the output of a single plant ect. Building 80 is an entirely different matter.

    And it does have at least one thing going for it that Solar deployed in earnest does not - you can site all of it within your borders. To do solar right, at least in europe carries geopolitical risks, because it ties us to north africa in a very permanent way.


    Please do the RIGHT calculation. Aylesbury gets 2.2 MJ/m2/diem or 25 W/m2/diem in winter, so 35 GW at 10% efficiency (very high) is 14,000 km2. Which, of course, cannot be used for agriculture.


    Here we are again. Solar and wind can't possibly work, because. Except that they're being deployed at an accelerating rate and decreasing costs all round the world. So people with deep pockets disagree. Anyway, it's not Either/Or, it's Both/And. Solar AND Wind AND Nuclear AND Hydro AND Tidal AND Geothermal AND wide area HVDC AND cross border trading AND ... Because plentiful, cheap, low-carbon electricity does change the game a bit. It doesn't solve all the problems but it would help keep business as usual going a bit longer.

    I'm all for tying N Africa into Europe because IMHO we should be aiming for the EU to absorb MENA. Maybe not in the next decade or two but within the next half century. Hannibal was right; Carthage4EU!


    Politics seems to be going more Cato the Elder this century.


    Electricity question/request for clarification:

    Was of the impression that electric power has a very sharp loss over distance transported/traveled which is why more localized (closer to user) power sources don't need to generate as much power, i.e., less/no energy loss.


    It's one of the usual strange attractors. You'd think we'd just have someone link to the previous hashing out of all possible options each time, but no, we have to keep refighting the same war. I think the fun is in the fighting for most.


    Likewise, although some posters seem to be under the impression that HVDC doesn't suffer from this problem. Personally I still think that "ye cannae change the laws of physics".


    That has not been true for quite a while. High Voltage Direct Current lines can transport power with a loss of around 3.5 % per thousand kilometers. And if you have appropriate rights of way, like along a rail line or something, then they do not cost that much either. This means locality is not nearly as important as optimal physical geography for all renewable energy. Building locally is a crime against the planet, because it kills far more soil and requires far more material per megawatt production capacity realized.

    The real limit is political certainty - HVDC is very reliable, very effective, and affordable. It can also be disrupted by an asshole with a backhoe, so you need the entire route to be through at least not actively hostile territory.


    It is not a matter of opinion. HVDC lines are in widespread use, the quoted efficiencies are very real


    Yes and no.

    HVDC is the popular toy for that - they quote 3.5% losses/1000km, compared with AC being 10-20% for the same distance.
    Tradeoff - it's much more complex and due to volumes in use it is more expensive and more failure prone than HVAC. Those are getting better every year.

    A 2500km link from North Africa to the UK would be awkwardly long for HVAC, but is about a third of the max range for HVDC. Of course, any project that scale would be feeding half of Europe, so it's not like you have to run the power all the way to Edinburgh or Oslo, there would be other grid sources feeding in closer.


    My rule of thumb about arguments about nuclear power -- any argument that is based on the idea that France doesn't exist is crap.


    Re: electricity & location

    Thanks all for clarifying!

    So, why not just install all those oversized and ugly solar arrays in the Sahara or any other desert. (Heteromeles - perhaps you can come up with local ecological impact ... personally, not aware that such a move would spell disaster for as many species as locating such arrays in the middle of farm fields or forests.)


    Is there any prospect of a cite that can be followed with a bit more than high school physics but not requiring a BSc (Maths)?


    Four reasons for thinking carefully about locating huge solar farms in the Sahara:

  • Sand scour is a bitch, and so are haboobs. I've been out to the Algodones Dunes near the Arizona border. It's a park on dunes, and the sand blown on the wind has scoured all the paint off the buildings and every other structure. It's all sand blasted metal and concrete out there. Granted most of the Sahara isn't in sand dunes, but those haboobs aren't anything to mess with either, if your goal is to have square miles of dust free, unscratched solar panels, with nothing but bare ground around them. You'll have to use Mars Rover dust-clearance technology to clean the panels, because there certainly isn't enough water to keep all the panels clean by washing them. Oh, and sand dunes move, so putting a solar array in a sand sea pretty much guarantees it will be buried in a few years and won't keep the panels properly aligned for a few months, unless you put tracking motors on those babies.

  • Saharan politics are...unsettled. Look up the Western Sahara Conflict. Or Chad, Or Libya, or Boko Haram, or the Tuareg rebellion. It may be the back-end of nowhere to us, but the locals have rather different and conflicting opinions about who should tell them what to do, when, and where, and the stupidities of African colonialism have only intensified those conflicts.

  • Where are those power transmission lines going again? And how stable are the politics of the transmission routes? You want to use Gibraltar to access the European power grid? What a lovely thought. I'm sure the EU would so love to deal with that over the next two years.

  • Oh, and the Sahara is a growing "route" for climate refugees from western Africa to find work to feed their families, not that this is a problem for anyone in Europe...

  • 398:

    Here's a couple of links (now public, wee):

    The data leak contains a wealth of personal information on roughly 61 percent of the US population. Along with home addresses, birthdates, and phone numbers, the records include advanced sentiment analyses used by political groups to predict where individual voters fall on hot-button issues such as gun ownership, stem cell research, and the right to abortion, as well as suspected religious affiliation and ethnicity. The data was amassed from a variety of sources—from the banned subreddit r/fatpeoplehate to American Crossroads, the super PAC co-founded by former White House strategist Karl Rove.

    GOP Data Firm Accidentally Leaks Personal Details of Nearly 200 Million American Voters GIZMODO, 19th June 2017

    The RNC Files: Inside the Largest US Voter Data Leak UPGUARD (anti-virus company), 19th June, 2017 - they spotted the data while looking for threats (allegedly) so is a more indepth / mature look at the issue.

    cantgethackedbyRussiansifthedataispublic rollsafememe 2017.

    Now then: remind yourself about the data breaches and legal nature of genetic data from companies such as Ancestry .com (Spoilers: it's the Mormons, who have some interesting links: DNA testing made affordable for family history research Deseret News Faith, Sep 2012).

    So, that's a single data dump / aggregate from a single political entity that covers ~61% of Americans.

    You can bet a solid gold goose it's not the largest nor the most comprehensive.

    $8 billion on Blood, remember.

    I'll let you work out how badly this stew could get.


    Re: '... destructive plasticity & trauma to the self '

    My French is rusty, so not sure I understood much/correctly. However, got the impression that the lesson here is that physiological health/status of the brain impacts that individual's overall emotional, cognitive, behavioral health. And that this (the physiological brain) was what the Freudian psychoanalytic school persistently ignored. (Think I've previously mentioned that I'm not a Freud fan.)

    Okay, so far - but how this relates to power/politics is unclear to me unless, you feel that the pols/decision-makers are still stuck in Freudland.

    BTW - something that rarely gets talked about in reviews like this is drug addiction. The circuits tend to be the same, and recreational drug usage is relatively stable at about 0.6% worldwide (2014)*. This is important at every level ... because being able to mess about with a population's neuroplasticity is possible.

    Drug Addiction as a Pathology of Staged Neuroplasticity

    Peter W Kalivas1 and Charles O'Brien2


    'Using addictive drugs can evolve from controlled social use into the compulsive relapsing disorder that characterizes addiction. This transition to addiction results from genetic, developmental, and sociological vulnerabilities, combined with pharmacologically induced plasticity in brain circuitry that strengthens learned drug-associated behaviors at the expense of adaptive responding for natural rewards. Advances over the last decade have identified the brain circuits most vulnerable to drug-induced changes, as well as many associated molecular and morphological underpinnings. This growing knowledge has contributed to an expanded understanding of how drugs usurp normal learning circuitry to create the pathology of addiction, as evidenced by involuntary activation of reward circuits in response to drug-associated cues and simultaneous reports of drug craving. This new understanding provides unprecedented potential opportunities for novel pharmacotherapeutic targets in treating addiction. There appears to be plasticity associated with the addiction phenomenon in general as well as changes produced by addiction to a specific class of addicting drugs. These findings also provide the basis for the current understanding of addiction as a chronic, relapsing disease of the brain with changes that persist long after the last use of the drug. Here, we describe the neuroplasticity in brain circuits and cell function induced by addictive drugs that is thought to underlie the compulsions to resume drug-taking, and discuss how this knowledge is impelling exploration and testing of novel addiction therapies.'**

    *Key players are Afghanistan, Myanmar (Burma), Iran ... a familiar crowd. (Okay, China/PRC has become the leading manufacturer/exporter of the extremely dangerous and increasingly more popular synthetic opioids, i.e., carfentanyl.)

    **BTW, apparently grass/weed is showing good results in long-term pain management without the nasty opioid side effects (including addiction). And, as a bonus, grass/weed is being studied for safety/effectiveness re: weaning addicts off opioids.


    In the UK we have large numbers of wide, long & usually deep estuaries. If not a barrage right the way across, at least construct really large multiple "Tidal Ponds" in all of these: Severn Estuary, rivers Fal & Tamar parts of the Thame estuarine complex, the Wash, the Humber, the Forth, the Tay, the Ness, practically the entire W coast of Scotland, the Eden (Carlisle), Morecombe Bay, the Dee .... That would give you ridiculous amounts of permanent on-stream power, because it would onlyu be "slack tide at a maximum of two of them at any one time. Never mind really large totally-submerged turbines in the Englsih & other Channels - there's a good tide-run in St Georges ....


    points at data centres and supercomputers Yes, they exist, so? What is this to do with anything? Tick-Tock Uh?

    I didn't mention America, either, but you did.


    Solar and wind can't possibly work, because Emphatically NOT what I'm saying, actually. We need more wind & solar & especially in the UK - tidal see # 400 above. In the meantime, the next 50 years, we need nuclear, lots of it, French-style. OK?


    Speculating that the 'non-human' was meant to imply that more and more functions are being performed by AI/algos. And, since many/most are situated in the US and a lot of traffic goes through the USian AI hubs, this provides the US PTB the access and ability to mess about with the rest of the world.


    GOP Data Firm Accidentally Leaks Personal Details ... "Accidentally" ... yeah, right. Do we actually believe this?

    However: badly this stew could get. - there you will find me in complete agreement. Chinese-style "interesting" would be the appropriate descriptor, I think.


    Strongly agree about the deep-submerged turbines, but please can we learn from the PR failure of the Kylerhea scheme?


    My French is rusty, so not sure I understood much/correctly. However, got the impression that the lesson here is that physiological health/status of the brain impacts that individual's overall emotional, cognitive, behavioral health. And that this (the physiological brain) was what the Freudian psychoanalytic school persistently ignored. (Think I've previously mentioned that I'm not a Freud fan.)

    Well, not quite.

    A major theme is that the Freudian fear of castration is contained within the same self. i.e. the self (male) can imagine its wholeness being reduced to an emasculated eunuch and how this factors into hierarchical power structures and so forth. (Trump and his meat-loaf dinners). In contrast, the self cannot really imagine itself post trauma / damage as the very act of damage re-invents / creates a new self. Of course, this is all within French psychoanalytical philosophy, so expect lots of Lacanian terms and discussing "the death drive" seriously and so forth.

    English translation (via Zizek):

    the victims of socio-political traumas present today the same profile as the victims of natural catastrophes (tsunamis, earthquakes, floods) or grave accidents (serious domestic accidents, explosions, fires). We have entered a new era of political violence where politics draws all its resources from renunciation of the political sense of violence... All traumatizing events tend to neutralize their intention and to assume the lack of motivation proper to chance incidents, the feature of which is that they cannot be interpreted. Today, the enemy is hermeneutics.... this erasure of sense is not only discernible in countries at war, it is present everywhere, as the new face of the social which bears witness to an unprecedented psychic pathology, identical in all cases and in all contexts, globalized.

    She pairs this / contrasts this with the destructive plasticity of the Brain / Mind and how damage occurs (she focuses on Alzheimers / Parkinsons and degenerative neural diseases) with relation to memory and so on.

    It's a 'fun' exercise to model against the USA 2001-2016 and the lack of historical awareness and how the fears of the illusion faltering (simulacrum) are more damaging than the actuality (Flint, opiate abuse crisis, infrastructure) and how the response has been... well. Major brain damage is one way to put it.

    You'd have to throw in all other kinds of stuff to make it tasty though. e.g. Contrast Grenfell towers where (it looks like) social awakening is the outcome rather than forgetting, or how the last 2-3 years of Right wing populism has taken hold in some places (Turkey, USA and it appeared the UK until, well, almost two weeks ago) while being resisted by others (France, Ireland, but chose neoliberal hierarchies, unless Macron is really going to pull something different off: hint, he's manufactured, so nope).

    Which I can do, of course.

    Dr Who last night was passable (including staid old lesbian / bi joke reversal, but hey, pre-watershed viewing on BBC1, it's something at least) but...

    We're not locusts.


    Re: 'GOP data firm ...'

    This caught my eye:

    'However, FiveThirtyEight’s investigation doesn’t account for Deep Root’s collection of data from mountain-biking and Spanish-speaking subreddits that weren’t as popular with r/The_Donald members— ...'

    This makes absolute sense if you're trying to find key and currently unknown differences (factors) between likely voter segments: both the mountain-bikers and the Hispanics would be very unlikely to be DT supporters, therefore non-intersecting. All other areas/types of voter would be up for grabs. When segmenting a market it's easiest to start with the fewest possible segments and see what proportion of the total pop'n these tightly defined segments account for. Then you keep adding segments ... for commercial/consumer marketing research purposes, you stop once your segments account for 95% of the pop'n or your best (optimal) segment reaches a net positive pay-off size.


    Re: Hermeneutics


    I'm okay with the explanation (Trauma, regardless of the source/agency is trauma ... period!) apart from the hermeneutics bit. Not sure whether this is intended as interpretation of scripture or what.

    Agree that fear conditioning is very powerful with a large chunk of brain space allocated to it and highly conserved across species. Fear conditioning esp. thru media is also becoming more widespread who now know/are required to preface a graphic video/pix with a disclaimer that something might be upsetting yet have no compunction about twisting a story into its most appalling interpretation.

    Probably the worst part of this is that fear also undermines an individual's ability to learn including how to learn to get away from or manage the cause of their fear.


    Wikipedia for a general overview of HVDC, for data on the solar drive in Germany being a boondoogle, and compare all sources for winter months and summer months. The thing that makes that chart a disaster is the fact that German power consumption peaks in winter.

    I am not very fond of the very wide entry at the bottom labelled "Biomass". Tossing our ecosystem into the flames is not green. Also note the significance of coal. This is what things look like after an insanely high economic commitment on Germanys part - the locked in tariffs for solar represents a flow of money that would have paid for replacing every single coal plant in Germany with a reactor.


    Gee, i go away for a three-day weekend, and the posts...

    Sorry, but Trump is likely to be impeached, and for the first time, successfully.

    His popularity is down, on the right-leaning Quinnipac poll last week to 34% (Nixon was at 24% when he resigned).

    All the high-power DC lawyers who are familiar with federal investigations report they're washing their hair tonight, and every night until 2020. He's toxic, and the client from hell.

    Last week, Ryan, Speaker of the House, who I despise, said "let the Special Counsel do his job", and there was other GOP support There's no love lost between Trumpolini and the GOP - many of them despise him, too. My analysis is that they want Mueller to find charges, which will give them cover in next year's elections, after they agree to impeach.

    The papers have finally started reporting that Mueller is also following the money, and that will hit a good part of the White House... and I see, today, that Mueller brought in a lawyer who's really good at flipping witnesses.

    And ALL OF THE PRINCIPALS in the WH are getting their own lawyers, six months from the Inauguration.

    Oh, the really twisty thing is that Pence knew about Flynn and Russia, and did nothing...and that was from two weeks after the election.

    Interesting times. I'm waiting for the slasher flick as the GOP in Congress knife each other over who gets appointed as VP (even if it's only Trump who goes).

    And Thee of the Many Names, more Dems, esp. new people, are running then they've ever had. People came out of the woodwork to run, and they're getting city, county and state posts now.

    Please, Ms. May, do invite the Orange Thing over, so we can see how many more folks he can piss off...


    Well, the proof of the higher efficiency of HVDC (except in the case of underwater cables) is "proof by Wikipedia". The most noticable difference is that they quote the efficiency of HVAC as 3.5%*1.4, which is under 5%, not 10% to 20%.


    I have read that Marx never expected the Revolution in an agricultural country; he expected them in industrialized countries with democratic traditions. Russia was still something like 90% agricultural.

    On the other thread, it wasn't so much that folks got conservative after the War. Now, I simply don't know how strong it was in the UK, which had a Labour Party, but after the Russian Revolution, the rich went into very serious Red Scare mode, and kept it up until the Depression. Then, after the War, they went back to it... partly because the GOP is the party of the rich, and partly because it was their thing as to how to break the popularity of the Dems. A few years before Raygun, they added right-wing extremist "Christianity" as a base.

    In both the US, and the UK (though not quite, I think, as badly) they've achieved most of their goals. They do, of course, have no idea what to do beyond that. They believe that life is a zero-sum game, and it's all about "winning".


    Trump is likely to be impeached, and for the first time, successfully

    AIUI the only reason Tricky Dicky wasn't successfully impeached was that he managed to resign before the process was completed (started?).


    I hope some of you folks have read Mary Gentle's Grunts - it's from the Orcs point of view, and a wonderfully written and funny book


    the locked in tariffs for solar represents a flow of money that would have paid for replacing every single coal plant in Germany with a reactor. Ja, aber Nuklearenergie ist böse.


    Question: what does France do with all of its spent nuclear fuel?


    You'll have open airstrikes on Iran before you get impeachment going. (No, really: Russia to treat US jets in Syria as 'targets' after America guns down first regime warplane Independent 19th June 2017; US responds to Russian threat after shoot-down of Syrian jet FoxNews 19th June 2017)

    Oh, I'm sure you'll have all the trappings of it, and all the theatre and MSM breathlessly reporting the minutiae, but... Not happening. It's the Democratic Party wet dream that the machine / Game hasn't changed. Newsflash: it has, papering over the cracks is willful negligence at this point. It's called "psychological self-deception as coping mechanic".

    I'll spoil it a little more: Impeachment is the largest McGuffin you've ever seen, the stuff actually being planned is a little more drastic. (The Kochs have decided it's Time for Tea).

    (For non-American viewers, please remember how the TTP had to be viewed before getting too puffed up with schadenfreude - same hidden basements, same hoops, same lack of transparency).

    New Obamacare replacement bill is being hidden in a basement, out of view of public, and even this GOP senator can't see it CNBC 2nd Mar, 2017

    Senate GOP will keep its health care bill secret until the last possible minute Thinkprogress, 12th June, 2017


    Anyhow, now for something completely different:

    The Sea will claim everything is a fun / magical game made by a man called Jonas Kyratzes who is involved with writing the back story to the new project of XCOM maker Julian Gollop called Phoenix Point. The back-story is that a pandemic released by thawing permafrost has wiped out most of humanity and now there's horrifying sea-monster hybrids coming to kill off / eat / hybridize the remnants.

    Which is oddly enough also similar to Neill Blomkamp's new studio (Oats Films) Rakka YT: short film: 21:52 (Warning: slightly gory / triggering themes) which has actors such as Signorny Weaver in it. The aliens invade, proceed to wipe everyone out and set in motion a geoengineering project to pump methane into the air, warm the planet and revel in cruelty and horror. It's fairly hokey in terms of originality, but what isn't these days?

    As a commentary on America and Climate Change, subtle it is not. It even has a brain-controlled politician being wheeled out to 'convince' the humans to support their new over-lords.


    Back in the UK / EU? Well, the Swiss (having had their wrist slapped over boarder movements) have decided to strike back at the UK: Lachnummer Europas Der Bund, 17th June, 2017 (Reddit Translation) and Brexit talks start sooooon[tm].


    Oh, one last thing: consider yourselves appreciated, over the Pond: your gov't is saying about the right-wing scum who drove into Muslims coming out of a mosque as terrorism is terrorism.

    As opposed to here, where it's lone wolf crazies, unless they're Muslims.


    One more link (which no doubt will appear in the press in 3, 2, 1...) given the huge spats forming over Grenfell ex-residents being shipped off to Manchester etc.

    Empty Properties in Kensington Who-owns-England, blog - data is accurate and covers 10 years. (Those are the dark blue dots, cheeky bit of propaganda but funny).


    For the Nth time, solar is a damn-fool idea as a MAIN source IN THE UK; simple physics rules it out. But that doesn't apply in more equatorial or less densely populated locations (like the USA), or as an incidental or special purpose one in the UK.


    Re: 'Pence knew about Flynn and Russia, and did nothing.'

    So, Pence should also get tossed out because as an elected high gov't official and deemed to represent the highest moral standards, doing nothing to stop the law being broken is equivalent to abetting?

    So, why not just install all those oversized and ugly solar arrays in the Sahara or any other desert?

    A play for two actors:

    Us: "Hi! We're the EU. You might remember us as the people who brutally conquered and oppressed you and ran vicious resource extraction regimes. We're back for your sunshine." Them: [take a wild guess]

    Similar make-an-area-uninhabitable-and-export-all-the-electricity schemes have been accomplished, but they've been hydro and therefore inherently less smashable.


    Reprocess it. And they're digging a long-term depository, I think?


    Re "Les nouveaux blessés. Psychanalyse, neurologie et plasticité" intro pdf, thanks for that link, read, deliberately, with google-translate, several paragraphs at a time. So, with that limitation, a couple of things, also still playing with a few other thought [graphs] that that piece inspired. - Obliquely reminded of an old but good story, Vacuum Flowers (Michael Swanwick, 1987) where personality overlays are routine. - [not a criticism, just a scientifically-inclined reader] Perhaps her other work addresses this, but it would be nice to see a deeper reading of neuroscience and science in general in this sort of writing. e.g. a few months reading a full spectrum of science abstracts ( etc) might provide a very abundant supply of so-far-unused metaphors. Biology in particular. - Ah Phineas Gage. Trauma is a blunt method of transformation. I haven't reviewed the literature; have there been instances of this sort of trauma where the original state of [emotional calculus, I've referred to it after reading Damasio's books years ago. Often some stereotypy per culture] was (mostly) restored, or restored in a way arguably improved from the original state? - No discussion of transformative changes, arguably sometimes positive, that involve (perhaps through incremental transformation) the destruction(or suppression) of a previous mental schema, or a transformation of it such that the new persona overpowers the old. This seems possible. Transformative entheogenic experiences are a weak existence proof. Some religions also claim transformative powers. Childhood development might be another example. - Military basic training [seriously not trying to offend Martin] is in part intended to transform a soldier's [emotional calculus], in ways similar to what is described in the piece. (Similar active manipulations in civilian contexts.) Awareness of such manipulation is an extremely important skill that should be univerally and effectively taught IMO.


    That can be overcome - As I said, their current electricity grids are pitiful. Fixing that might not make you popular - who actually loves their electric utility? But it ought too make you respected and necessary enough that the locals do not fuck with you. Still one heck of a political entanglement, tough. You end up pretty darn committed to the military defense of your new... partner, because even if you successfully get the locals on board...


    Hmmm ... but it's okay for the Chinese to do this? Could make for an interesting bidding war.

  • What the hell has China got to do with this?
  • I didn't say that.
  • Equivalent Chinese projects have had their own problems.
  • 429:

    Re: 'What the hell has China got to do with this?'

    Was of the impression that China has been very active in selling, installing and financing such builds in Africa because Africa is perceived to be the next major emerging market. Plus, there's no old infrastructure to tear down which makes it much cheaper to install brand new tech. (Same reason smartphones grew so quickly in markets without pre-cabled TV/electricity.)

    Despite historical ties to Europe, China is Africa's largest trading partner.


    Sorry, but Trump is likely to be impeached, and for the first time, successfully.

    A Trump impeachment at this time would likely cost the R's the house. The 35%+ of support he has is almost 99.999% R and they will primary out any R who votes for impeachment.

    So while not impeaching him gives R's headaches in a general election, impeaching him will cause more than a few to not even get to the general election. Of course a few or more of the crazies that win the primary will likely loose the general. Unless Trump crosses the dead woman, live boy line in some way. Then it gets down right crazy.


    Hey everyone.

    Impeachment doesn't take out Trump. That's just tosses the ball to the Senate where 2/3s would have to agree to remove him from office.


    Imagine what "Impeachment in Place" would look like as an unofficial policy and that's a much more probable outcome.

    I'm assuming by this you mean that Congress and the various mid to low level staffers do their best to ignore him?

    This is just not going to work. There are all kinds of laws in place (plus Constitutional writ) that gives the President all kinds of power to do things without Congress. (And a lot of other things that can be done before Congress yells and gets it stopped.) And removing such without cooperation of the President would require 2/3s of both parts of Congress to agree, bill by bill, item by item. Not going to happen as impeachment is easier.

    One interesting point in all of this is the "Travel Ban" could have been put into place without T trying to issue some PR based executive order. Lots of details could have just been pushed down on how immigration folks and embassy staff would prioritize things and there would have occurred a "Travel Ban". But T went for the PR ego way and got it all caught up in the courts and media. He is his own worst enemy.



    Please note that her book is 350+ pages long and (hat tip to prior call out), I've really not read enough of it, let alone notated it and digested it yet to form an opinion. Since I read Zizek's take before hand, it'll need an extra fine comb to sort his bullshit from her intentions (And our French is rusty at least at the Lacanian end; it's almost as bad as parsing Ancient Sumerian in terms of relevance to the modern world).

    Also, everyone missing the joke in the AMZN link: Editorial Review: more or less unread, typical shelf war. They said that about Deleuze, you know, and Bergson.

    Oh, and ... well. I'll let Host enjoy the joke about Shelf Wars and AMZN rankings and 1 star review bombings and so on[1]. (None of her books have any reviews, perhaps showing just how valuable said reviews actually are; why they're on AMZN not a specialist publisher is something I'd have to look into - France is old-skool and certainly has the Oxford University Press thing down).

    Anyhow, she's worth parsing into your Mind, if nothing else but to help Narrative Vaccination.

    [1] Those innocent days when Puppies thought 1 star review bombs were radical. Let me show you how to do it, said the Spider to the Fly. GTA V's Steam reviews nosedive to 'Overwhelmingly Negative' following OpenIV closure NeoWin, 19th June, 2017. Ironic: Gamers actually learnt the lessons of "No Logo" better than expected and are like the Golden Horde. #HowtoWOKEeventhemogwais. We're really good at this btw, nose wiggle. 41k negative reviews in less than a week. And all to protest Capitalist scum-bags attempting to monopolize product. Oh, the heart sings.


    Re that image, at least one of these is affixed to at least one auto bumper in a workplace parking lot. ...Class Warfare... The employer is touchy about this sort of thing but it's been there for quite a while. These sentiments simmer, sometimes even low boil, even in the US.


    "There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning."

    Warren Buffet


    Oh, but it only took the free resources of three entire Earths to make that illusion work, didn't it?

    Crashing your system would take, oh, two weeks, tops. Typical Boomers, thinking that the Other Side not wanting to inflict The Road levels of pain is somehow a vindication of their brilliance.

    Gaze no more in the bitter glass The demons, with their subtle guile, Lift up before us when they pass, Or only gaze a little while; For there a fatal image grows That the stormy night receives, Roots half hidden under snows, Broken boughs and blackened leaves. For all things turn to barrenness In the dim glass the demons hold, The glass of outer weariness, Made when God slept in times of old. There, through the broken branches, go The ravens of unresting thought; Flying, crying, to and fro, Cruel claw and hungry throat, Or else they stand and sniff the wind, And shake their ragged wings; alas! Thy tender eyes grow all unkind: Gaze no more in the bitter glass.


    You're witnessing the shattering of a mirror. Pro-tip: like Monopoly, the chips only matter if you're playing the Game Wrong. That goes for Hilary R. Clinton and hawking her book as well.

    Shit's about to get REAL. More REAL than REALITY WINNER, my little pumpkins[1].

    [1] Probably should have watched the RAKKA film, part 1 for the teaser.

    [2] Yellowstone: hot hot hot right now. And you thought that one was a joke. Loki does not fuck around when he's pissed off.


    Military basic training [seriously not trying to offend Martin] is in part intended to transform a soldier's [emotional calculus], in ways similar to what is described in the piece. (Similar active manipulations in civilian contexts.) Awareness of such manipulation is an extremely important skill that should be universally and effectively taught IMO.

    Worry not, I think you're quite right. Although my French language skills are seriously rusty, it was interesting to read what appeared to be a philosophical debate without any attempts at statistical data in support, just quotes of other philosophers... (i.e. nice argument, not exactly measurable).

    Anyway, if you watch any of the recent "here's what we do with new recruits" reality TV / documentary series about the British armed forces, they often explain exactly what they are doing, and why they are doing it, to the recruits. The instructors are quite clear as to how they reinforce the training with positive worked examples; and correspondingly, at showing how incorrect behaviour leads to negative outcomes (no, not just random "you screwed up in a way we shall not explain, now we shall beast you", more "now can you see how you will die / be responsible for deaths if you do that?". When interviewed, most of said recruits are actually quite lucid in understanding exactly how they are being conditioned, and with what end in mind... be reassured, there is not the mistaken belief that before you "make" them, you must first "break" them. Ideally, you build on what you have by persuasion and demonstration through example.

    Take that forward a half-step, and there was a recent BBC documentary called "Warship", about HMS Ocean's recent deployment to the Gulf. Fascinating, and truly impressive in the quality of the young sailors on board for their first deployment. Not sure whether BBC America showed it, or whether you can see it on iPlayer, but it's worth a watch.

    That's not to say that all military training operates that way; if you've seen Fred Wiseman's famous 1971 documentary, "Basic Training" (taking place in a mass conscript army with rather limited training time available) there was little or no time for such dialogue.


    Isn't that Kernenergie? The Germans have atomic kernels.


    My rule of thumb about Solar/Nuclear arguments that cite France and their decision to build Nuclear in 1974, when solar cells cost 130 USD per watt, as still valid in 2017, when solar cells cost under 0.2 USD per watt, are crap.


    10% "Very high"

    10% hasn't been "very high" for 50 years grandpa. The first commercial cell that was 10% was in 1959.

    I'm also a grandpa, so I can use it as a pejorative and I wasn't even born when 10% was "very high". The cheap panels on my roof are 15.3% and in full sun I'm seeing their full rated capacity coming out the business end of the inverter.

    I specifically said that I wasn't suggesting that we convert Aylesbury to PV. I hoped that would head off the usual argument that it's a crime to convert farming land to PV. This is despite the fact that farming land is industrial land. For the farming industry. It's there to make money and if the farmers can make more money farming panels, than sheep, who are you to tell them that they must be poor because you enjoy 12th century bucolic? If I was a farmer and someone told me I couldn't exchange my 14h per day, 7 day a week stoop labour job for making more money sitting back and watching panels soak up the sun while I lived in Santorini I'd be somewhat pissed.


    Hughs point is that many, many arguments against nuclear.. and yes, that does include a couple of the ones you yourself have made in this very thread, are proven to be in error by the fact that France exists, and has highly reasonable electricity prices. Its not "too cheap to meter" no, but the metered rate is decent. So, for example, your concerns about the cost of refueling are demonstrably false.

    Clear reality trumps thought experiment in all arguments and cases, even ones you dislike, or you wind up with the kind of epistemic closure that gets people with orange hair elected.


    You mean my argument that Nuclear is subject to unexpected outages, and that due to the large size and low number of generators, such outages can have an adverse effect on grid stability (something normally and erroneously used as a point against renewables)?


    "...warning was issued on Tuesday by grid operator RTE, which said power supply had been hit by the closure of around a third of the country's ageing nuclear reactors...might also have to impose short, rolling power blackouts in parts of the country"

    I think you misunderstood my point about the refuelling, which was that there are regular outages. The cost was an aside, but relevant in that the discussion had focused on a comparison of upfront costs, ignoring running and decommisioning costs. (which for HPC roughly double the total cost bringing it to about 20 times the cost compared to PV rather than 10 times)

    France's nuclear electricity, despite the plants having been built on the public purse 40 years ago, still sells wholesale around 40 euro per MWh. Solar in sunny places is selling by contract at 27 euro. Projected electricity costs from the new Flamanville EPR is projected to be about 70-90 euro.

    So yeah, French nuclear is cheap. It's cheap because the government built it and that cost isn't factored into the price the consumer pays. If the government were to build solar and then not factor that cost into the cost of electricity then it really would be too cheap to meter. France's nuclear build cost an estimated (they won't say how much) 330 billion USD (a bit over 1.6 trillion USD in today's money). With a levelised cost of electricity of 5 cents per kWh (about 25 cents in today's money) or about twice what they retail it for...

    France is not a good guide to the real economics of energy unless you take these things into account. Citation:


    "proven to be in error by the fact that France exists, and has highly reasonable electricity prices"

    Grrr, I can't leave it there...

    Saying that is exactly equivalent to saying it's so cheap to fly to the moon that it's not even worth printing a ticket, based on the fact that Neil Armstrong exists and he didn't even get charged for the trip.

    The French Nuclear build out was as much a chest beating, dick swinging project as the Apollo mission. The fact that the user price charged is low in both cases is equally meaningless.


    Thy tender eyes grow all unkind: Gaze no more in the bitter glass. Good advice, OK. (American upbringing; we mostly didn't experience poetry.)

    More REAL than REALITY WINNER, my little pumpkins I promise to (try to) laugh out loud when Another thing Americans (and the Swiss :-) do well, enormous pumpkins; Rhode Island man’s giant pumpkin sets a North American record for massive gourds (Oct 2016). Over a ton, and that's a proper (metric) ton. The pasty, lopsided pumpkin on display in Rhode Island was not about to win any botanical beauty contests. But if its orange rind had an elephant-gray tinge, that was only fitting.

    Loki does not fuck around when he's pissed off. Loki's sense of humor is ... an acquired taste, says one who doesn't gamble for personal gain. (Temptations.)


    I also recall reading that France's nuclear industry is having financial troubles, which backs up your argument that the actual price of nuclear is heavily being subsidised (EDF facing bankruptcy as decommissioning time for France's ageing nuclear fleet nears). Thus my impression is that while it is nice that France has nuclear, all the number fudging makes it not so trustworthy.

    My opinion still is that things such as "downtime" and "base load" with regard to solar energy are quite irrelevant when compared to the costs (including all externalities) and issues with nuclear, oil, coal, gas, hydro, wind and tidal. To simplify: oil, coal and gas are straight out of the question because they involve spending a very limited supply of resources. Hydro is tricky because it requires a certain landscape and the rotting plant matter underneath the reservoire emits greenhouse gases. Wind is not as reliable as solar, requires a good location and lots of maintenance b/c moving parts. Not sure about tidal, but seems there's not enough of it to satisfy the need, and also will probably mess with marine biology. These are all gross simplifications I've made, I hope I'm not very off here.

    So the only real choice is nuclear or solar. Assuming that huge complexity and cost takes nuclear off the table, this leaves solar. And why I don't think things like "downtime" and "base load" matter at all is that there is no reason that human civilization absolutely requires 24/7 electricity other than that we've gotten used to it. This is purely a 1st world issue while India has scheduled blackouts every day and Africa runs on solar and generators. I admit this is kind of utopian handwaving, but unless we get a major energy breakthrough, climate change is going to bring on some changes.


    40 posts in and I haven't said it as well as that.


    So many things to unpack in that post, so please excuse me if I reply in several posts.

    "Which, of course, cannot be used for agriculture"

    OF COURSE... (Because a solar farm is just like a shiny Tesco carpark right?)

    Wait, what?

    If we're looking at setting up solar farms on existing agricultural land (which would be absurd when there's so much existing roof and disused heavy industrial land around, but whatever...) then is "of course" valid? Is that an assumption that we all agree on? 'Cause I don't.

    It's several decades since I did any trig and I didn't pay the slightest attention when I was taught it at school, so I'm open to being corrected here.

    If you're optimising for Winter (as you stated) and we're talking a solar farm, the panels are set at about 69 degrees from vertical. So compared to the height of the panel, how much area below the panel is covered? So setting the length of the panel to "1", it's 0.36 (I think). The height of the panel would be 0.934 (I think)

    The panels are not going to work if they shade each other, so they have to be spaced apart such that they don't. Now at first glance, you'd think that they have to be spaced so that at noon, the shadow of one row falls at the feet of the next. But that means all the rest of the day, the shadow of one row will fall somewhere on the next row. To work properly you'd probably want this self shadowing effect to stop when the Sun is no more than 10 degrees above the horizon. Probably less. Taking 10 degrees, with a height of 0.934, to not shadow each other they need to be spaced 5.29 units apart. That means the ratio of covered land to uncovered land is about 14.5 to one.

    You know the bucolic countryside better than me. Is there a patch of "killed soil" (as Thomas puts it) on the southern side of every stone wall, out to 5 times its height? Is agriculture impossible for 5 times the height of the trees, on the southern side of every row of trees?

    The photos in the travel brochures would indicate that isn't the case.

    Lets not forget that the panels must also be lifted off the ground a bit so mowers (or the sheep that of course can't exist) can trim the grass, so it doesn't shade the panels. Probably also high enough that the non existent sheep can't take an experimental nibble at the wires. There wouldn't be a square foot that doesn't ever see the sun.


    Not necessarily Persia (Iran) but Syria very likely. DT is probably calculating that, never mind "normal" impeachment, he is trying to stay ahead of serious corruption charges under the "Emoluments Cluse" See: HERE Here and here, too(!)

    So, he's after the usual & usually failing, trick of a "Short, Victorious war"


    Sorry, Northern side of stone walls and trees. I forgot you're upside down. I think of the North as the sunny side and the south as the shady.


    Sorry but bollocks. What it should have said was "Corruption & Incompetence memorial"

    K&C council are going to be royally screwed over this, I'm very glad to say. With any sort of luck several of them &/or the "arms-length" ( coughcough* ) management company will be going to jail.

    But, to all the idiots, calling for property to be "seized" or "used" or otherwise sequestered, I saw this comment: "Property rights are enshrined in the Human Rights Act and similar charters around the world. That's the Human Rights Act that Labour claim to be the guardians of."

    Um, err, & as someone else pointed out ...(my paraphrase) "Ooh, that house is empty, let's seize it for the Grenfell Homeless!" Right, the owner is: On a long holiday, working abroad, otherwise detained ( think N Korea or Iran ) ... several other legitimate reasons .... And comes home to find it full of other people. Perhaps not?


    Solar in sunny places is selling by contract at 27 euro. WHEN the sun is shining. Nuclear, assuming it is a normal power-station, like all the other non-nuclear ones, is on stream all the time, except for maintenance, including still, cold, hazy/overcast winters' days North of 52 degrees, OK?

    I repeat I am in favour of solar, & tidal & wind, but ... we still need baseload power, & btw, the current ridiculously-expensive French/Chinese "nukes" we are supposed to be getting are not the answer, either, for reasons discussed before.


    Reading the UK law, it seems manslaughter is when a "reasonable person" would foresee that the actions taken could result in death.

    One news report was that lawyers threatened tenants over continued safety complaints.


    I'd say that a reasonable person might feel that a solicitor who drafted such a letter had taken action that could lead to someone's death.


    There's about 5 miles of the M4 around Reading where you get to see a medium sized wind turbine (still big) over the Green Park (home of Ecotricity) and then a fairly large solar farm on flat land. I suspect both of these are part of the Green Marketing Board's activities. In the same way that hovering kestrels by the side of the road are sponsored by the RSPB and Tourist Boards. What I've yet to see is Solar panels over a pig farm rather than sheep grazing. Pigs are prone to sunburn so need a certain amount of shade which would seem to make them a natural fit. But maybe they're too destructive. The solar panel supports and cable would have to be as pig proof as a Pig Ark. Which means there's an obvious dual use case there. Solar Pig Arks! Which for some reason brought to mind those VIP coffin kennels that rich people hire at Glastonbury. Solar Pig Arks with built in USB chargers that can double as both upmarket festival shelters and refugee shelters for the coming crisis. There's money to be made here. Quick, check Alibaba!


    Not sure about tidal, but seems there's not enough of it to satisfy the need Planet-wide, probably not. But for the UK? Definitely.

    Solar: STORAGE Where? How?


    Yes, or rather the person who instructed the solicitor, who was but an agent. As I said, one would hope that the solicitor gets a slapped wrist, but the "controlling minds" - K&C Council & the management organisation ... err .. These utter bastards should be the ones doing serious time.


    But for the UK? Definitely.

    Well, the rest of the world also needs a workable strategy for dealing with energy needs in the face of global climate change.

    STORAGE Where? How?

    The point that I was trying to make is that ideally, there won't be a need to have storage. If I have to choose between climate hell and not having power for half a day, I will choose the latter. But, to answer your question: I guess flywheels, molten salt and batteries could be used for some storage needs.

    By the way, solar panels do still generate electricity even during cloudy days. I'm not sure what the actual efficiencies are, though.


    For a more handwavy and utopian solution it seems that we could build residential (meaning on top of private homes) and industrial (meaning solar arrays on top of otherwise useless wasteland) all over the EU and hook everything up with this HVDC transmission system to take advantage of the fact that it's not cloudy all over Europe at the same time.


    69deg!? I presume this figure is Lat + Orbital inclination.

    For where I live I make that 57.5 + 23.5, which is 81, and with your (self-imposed) "panel must be fully visible when Sun 10 deg above horizon" means that criterion is never met, and can never be met above Lat 56.5.

    It's accepted that some plants will grow whilst fully shaded, but cereals for example need sunlight to ripen properly.


    "I'm not sure what the actual efficiencies are, though."

    This is the classic piece of string question. It depends. Records on my 4.5 kW system show the lowest ever daily output was 0.35 kWh, but as that was nearly a year ago I don't know if that's an artifact of communication problems with the inverters (which has been an issue for a while). The lowest this week which has been solid cloud and mostly raining (to the point I had the lights on in the house during the day) was 2.46 kWh. Average over this very wet couple of weeks has been about 10 kWh or about half my consumption (Swimming pool pump, electric hot water, electric cooking, heater on, fridge, TV, electric vehicle). We're a week out from winter solstice here and my panels are pointed at the spot the sun would be in summer.


    I didn't know how it was calculated, I looked it up but I forgot to give the citation:


    I was taking 50 degrees as being "the UK". I know that's wrong but the Aylesbury pin I dropped was 51, so I went with that.

    Yeah, 10 degrees was what I said, simply because that painted it in the worst light. If you want to go to 5 degrees, then the panels have to be spaced more than ten times their height apart, which doubles the argument that you can do agriculture between them. Cereals do need sun to ripen, but they don't ripen in mid winter. At least according to my limited google skills. Most of the space between panels would have full sun all late spring/summer/early autumn


    I'm convinced that he knows what he's doing, but doesn't actually show any working. My presumptions seem to indicate that "ground-based PV" isn't a brilliant idea above Lat 56.5 because of "permanent shadowing" though.

    Further reasoning - Some 15 years ago part of my back (North-facing) garden was dug up by the water company installing a new domestic brownwater system. Grass has only just managed to recolonise that area. One of my friends (similar location but mid terrace of 6 houses rather than 3) had the same works done at the same time, and still has a "back moss" where his was dug up, which suggests that agriculture shaded by ground-based PV may not be easily possible.


    Central London Lat 51.5N.

    Detailed arguments about cereal ripening needs more specialist agricultural knowledge than I possess, but they seem to grow to $height, and then ripen given ~30 days of sunlight.


    I'd have to agree that in winter above 50 degrees, flat ground based PV probably isn't a great idea.


    While we continue to rant back and forth on Solar in the UK, the obvious idea is to look outside your own country. Spain was steadily increasing its buildout of solar power up until 2014, when they basically kicked their industry in the nuts by gutting all the subsidies and taxing what existed.

    I would expect the logical step would be for the EU as a whole to cross subsidise renewables in the most suitable areas and pay to build out large scale HVDC grid interconnects between countries to make the power more easily distributed.
    The UK of course would still be screwed, but at least the Germans and French would have access to it.


    We're talking about building power plants to generate electricity for export: if China has suggested building PV in the Sahara and exporting the power to Beijing, they've gotten pretty ambitious.


    I have replied to this comment, Greg.

    If you want to read it you'll have to ask OGH to approve it.


    Spain was steadily increasing its buildout of solar power up until 2014, when they basically kicked their industry in the nuts by gutting all the subsidies and taxing what existed.

    We have been told repeatedly over the past few years by press flacks and other interested parties that solar PV electricity is cheaper than anything else so why does it need to still be subsidised? surely given its cheapness people will be rushing to install more even wwithout government handouts and guaranteed high prices? No?

    Your solution of a (presumed high-capacity) large-scale HVDC distribution network across Europe involves spending a lot of money that doesn't add to the actual amount of electricity generated, it just moves it around. Generating that power costs extra. Storage costs extra too. Because of the annual swing in output lots more capacity over and above the lowest amount required needs to be built which costs extra.

    Fuel-derived electricity generating capacity has construction costs and running costs but the fuel plants can be shut down when there is lower demand such as in summer in Europe, saving money. Non-fuel solar and wind has to be over-built to meet that maximum demand because the installed plant doesn't always perform to dataplate specs (for example in the UK 10GW of dataplate wind turbine plant is currently producing 820MW or so. I've seen it as low as 50MW during winter).

    The cheaper non-carbon alternative is to build nuclear power plants close to the main consumer sinks in sufficient numbers to closely match the expected maximum demand -- no large amounts of storage needed, no intermittent blackouts due to instantaneous lack of capacity, no large expensive high-capacity distribution grid required, no CO2 additions to the atmosphere running "backup" CCGT to fill in the gaps in renewables (currently Britain is producing 18.5GW of CCGT electricity). Not going to happen though because gas is cheap and renewables are sexy.


    There's some projects already there:

    Small, eco-friendly, ones which Het / SF would be interested in (aka, look easy to self-build): Sunglacier harnesses solar power to harvest water in the Sahara Desert De Zeen (architecture and design blog, uplifting future, here's a puff / PR piece yadda yadda, but enough for the interested to get leads from) 19th June 2107

    For a massive, EU wide consortium with serious clout, try: DESERTEC wikipedia.

    A plan to power Europe from Saharan solar plants seems to have stalled, but several large North African solar projects are still going ahead despite local concerns. Hamza Hamouchene asks: where did the Desertec project go wrong, and can desert solar power yet play a role in a democratic and sustainable future?

    Desertec: the renewable energy grab? New Internationalist, March 2015. Has some nice pcitures of how the grid design was supposed to work.

    The bust-up appears (on the surface) to be a classic Capital vrs Social split (sigh):

    Desert solar power partners Desertec Foundation and Dii split up Guardian, July 2013.


    They're basically doing that HVDC network idea, but for China instead of Europe. They've got a lot of solar and wind in the west, and a lot of consumers in the East.together.


    URUMQI, Dec. 19 [2015] (Xinhua) -- Many wind farms and solar plants in far west China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region may not survive this year's harsh winter as they have been suspended due to overcapacity.

    Electricity demand drops during the colder months of the year as people turn off their air conditioning units in favor of the government managed, and coal-powered winter heating. Having a large number of alternate energy plants, Xinjiang lacks sufficient infrastructure to transfer power out of the region. As a result, the regional State Grid has ordered that all, bar a few, cease operation and hibernate for the winter.

    "The whole year's investment almost down the drain," said Cui Wei..."

    So they have decided to connect them.

    Citation from 6 months later:

    "July 21, 2016...The Changji-Guquan ultra high voltage DC (UHVDC) link will transmit power from the Xinjiang region in the Northwest, to Anhui province in eastern China, setting a new world record in terms of voltage level, transmission capacity and distance.

    It will be capable of transporting 12,000 megawatts of electricity - the equivalent of 12 large power plants - and is a 50 percent increase in transmission capacity compared to the 800 kV UHVDC links currently in operation. Using the higher voltage will also help extend the transmission distance from around 2,000 km to over 3,000 km."

    While Europe bickers with itself and pork-barrels installing PR PV (I love that term) China is getting on with installing this stuff. This line is longer than the distance from Lands End to Western Sahara, via the seafloor. The same distance as Ireland to Canada (should you want solar that covers your evening load). It's big enough to support 1/3 of the UK's peak winter load.


    Ooh, nice.

    Oxford Computational Propaganda research has launched with a (HollyWood / NCIS) aesthetic website.

    Lots of good papers, if a little slight / missing a load of data.

    As Figure 10 displays, we found that the largest botnet in the Trump network was almost 4 times larger than the largest botnet associated with the Clinton network. The Trump botnet consisted of 944 bots in total, whereas the Clinton botnet consisted of only 264 bots.

    Computational Propaganda in the United Statesof America:Manufacturing Consensus Online CPR(P?), PDF, legal, 29 pages - note page 21: both Political parties ran bot nets

    Interesting structural differences. cough Neither properly optimized, someone needs to study up on their slime moulds.

    William T Goodall