Friday 29 March 2019

What fresh Hell is this?

Email from our HR department:

Annual Employee Details Form & Right to Work Check

I haven’t yet received your annual employee details form and your right to work document.

Expired passports as well as current ones can be used for this as well as other forms of right to work documents, if you are unsure please ask me.

Annual? I've been here nearly twenty years and never shown them my passport. When did this crap come in? Does everybody else have to do this?

Thursday 28 March 2019

More Brexit bonkersness

Here are our MP's net votes against the eight options (the smaller the number, the more popular something is, or less unpopular at least):

Revoking Article 50 to avoid no deal - 109
Confirmatory referendum - 27
Malthouse Plan B - 283
Labour's Brexit plan - 70
Common Market 2.0 - 95
EFTA and EEA membership - 312
Customs union - 8
No-deal exit on 12 April - 240

That's not the same order as in the BBC article.

UPDATE, they removed the list from that article, try this instead.

I have ranked them in order from "Remain" (or Their best hope of somehow remaining) via the various actual Brexit options from "softest" to "hardest". This is subjective of course and feel free to disagree on rankings, maybe I'll reshuffle them.

There is no discernible pattern at all*. In a polarised situation, both extremes would be a small minus and the ones in the middle a huge minus. In a conciliatory situation, the extremes would be huge minuses and the middle ones smaller minuses or even positive.

But nope, it's completely higgeldy-piggeldy.

Why did the second-hardest Brexit get the smallest defeat of all options (it's one I could live with) and the ones either side of it (my favourite and second favourites) the largest and third largest defeats?

* The only two that match up are "Labour's Brexit Plan" and "Common Market 2.0" which are quite similar and got similar mildly negative ratings; the ones either side got the lowest and second-lowest ratings.

Tuesday 26 March 2019

"Legalise cannabis sales to tackle criminal gangs, says Tory MP"

From the Evening Standard:

Crispin Blunt, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform, is urging the Government to control sales as he claims that 50 years of “prohibition” has failed “lamentably”.

Go Crispin!

Do we benefit from low wages in other countries? Discuss!

TBH had a discussion with X (name escapes me) recently, which raises some interesting topics which we thought might be of interest. It went along the following lines:

X: "It is wrong for developing countries to subsidise their exports and dump cheap goods in developed countries. That hurts the non-subsidised businesses and their workers, as they are paying extra taxes to fund the subsidies which benefit exporters and overseas importers"

Non-contentious so far.

"This also unfair competition for businesses in developed countries, and business failures lead to unemployment. Therefore it is OK for developed countries to impose tariffs on such goods to cancel out the subsidies."

TBH, disagreeing: "Trade is always good, tariffs on trade are always bad. If we can buy cheap steel, cheap cars, short-term that is bad for our domestic steel or car makers and their workers; medium term it means we can move to producing higher value-added things instead, so overall is a win for us. Imposing tariffs does not help the people being oppressed in other countries, it just means that the benefit of the overseas subsidies goes to our government instead of to us as consumers."

In which I would agree with TBH. You can extend X's logic to any cheap imports from low wage countries, so it is clearly wrong. Who's going to make the decision whether
a) goods from a certain country are cheaper because workers are being exploited; or
b) goods from a certain country are cheaper because they are more efficient?
But something else I have been mulling over is the widely held assumption that we benefit from low wages in developing countries because we can buy cheap stuff. The price of clothing or bog standard new cars has not increased in nominal terms for decades.

Which looks like a very good thing to me. Some go further and 'worry' about the day a few decades hence when wages and prices in e.g. the Far East have risen to Western levels.

Why is that a bad thing? When that day arrives it will be because business and workers in those countries are producing more stuff, either more of the same stuff or more value-added stuff.

So there's more stuff to go round; Westerners will be getting a smaller share of a much larger pie. Overall, people in the new developed countries will be better off (clearly) and people in the old developed countries will also be better off (however marginally).

Therefore, the conclusion must be that while we benefit from low wages in developing countries (first discussion) and shouldn't impede that with tariffs and quotas, we'll benefit even more once their wages have risen to our levels (second train of thought).

Allowing free trade* with developing countries is the main thing we can do to help them develop; once they have developed, even X's weak argument for tariffs and quotas falls away, so it's game set and match for free trade, as far as I can see.
* "Free trade" does not mean developing countries should be forced to allow Western imperialist capitalists (mainly banks and miners), to steal assets, generally rent seek and wreck developing countries of course, quite the opposite.

Monday 25 March 2019

Killer Arguments Against LVT, Not (453)

From a recent Evening Standard, for "business rates" read "land value tax":

Labour needs to do more to help get rid of business rates

Rohan Silvas' comment article ("Government's refusal to help small businesses is destroying them", March 15) admirably reinforces the case against persisting with business rates.

In days of physical manufacturing, assessing rates in accordance with the rentable [sic] value of the premises may have had an approximate correspondence with the value of the businesses concerned.

Nowadays, when a hedge fund can operate from the same space as a corner shop, it makes no sense whatever. It is the enemy of the start-up and subsequent rate rises, as Silva illustrates, can suddenly destroy viable enterprises.

It is difficult to understand why Labour has not committed itself to abolishing this tax should it get into office and its replacement with one that is based on turnover and/or profit. Surely these are ostensibly Conservative clothes that are ready to be stolen?

There is a larger point that parliamentary initiatives on such matters should be easier to frame and pass in a way which binds the executive. The Brexit process has revealed how parliamentary scrutiny is trapped in critical mode.

Sue Broadhurst and Neil Harvey.

Reply by Jim Armitage, City Editor:

Dear Sue and Neil

You are right. Business Rates are holding back potentially great businesses.

The latest round of rises in London have [sic] left a clear mark on our high street as the numbers of vacant shops climb. The average business in the capital now has to find £33,000 a year just to cover its rates bill. That really hurts small operations that don't have the deep pockets of national chains.

Meanwhile, online retailers don't pay high-street business rates at all. They pay them on their warehouses but these are in out-of-town areas where charges are lower.

Politicians won't scrap rates because they bring in 4.5 per cent of the UK tax take. We need that cash for schools and hospitals...

See how many factual inaccuracies, misleading statements, crass generalisations and faulty leaps of logic you can spot, or the subtle contradictions between the two diatribes!!

Wednesday 20 March 2019

Make the punishment fit the, er...

From The Daily Mirror:

Helen May, 39, who initially got benefits due to a heart problem she had since the age of 10, failed to tell authorities that her health had improved so much between 2014 and 2017 that she was capable to work in three different places.

The woman was caught cheating the benefit's system when a co-worker at a cafe reported May had recorded 10,000 steps on a single day on her fitness watch.

Appearing at South Cumbria Magistrates Court this week, May was handed a community order and told she must wear an electronic tag for the next 10 weeks.

Sunday 17 March 2019

Lammy Dodgers

From the Daily Mail

Critics round on MP David Lammy as Comic Relief suffers £8MILLION drop in Red Nose Day donations amid fears public was put off by his bitter 'white saviour' row with Stacey Dooley over Strictly star's trip to Africa

Comic Relief raised a total of £63million - compared to £71.3million in 2018

I don't think so. I think Lammy's an arse and I think most people recognised that in this case.

Here's the real problem

This year's Comic Relief's Red Nose Day show was watched by 600,000 fewer people than in 2017.

Some 5.6 million people tuned in to watch the star-studded telethon on BBC One last night, but last time round the biennial fund-raiser was watched by 6.2 million viewers.

6.2 million down to 5.6 million is a drop of around 10.7%. 71.3 down to 63 is a drop of around 13%. Not an exact correlation, but probably close enough. People are finding something entertaining to watch on a Friday night on Netflix rather than a bunch of old has-beens doing the equivalent of a company Xmas show.

Highway Code question(s)

If you are turning left, you indicate left. If you are pulling in from a slip road, you indicate right.

Q1. Where is the tipping point between them - how small does the angle between the roads have to be before it flips from being 'indicate left' to 'indicate right'?

Q2. Does it make a difference if the road you are turning onto is one-way (i.e. actual one-way road, or half a dual carriageway?).

Here's the diagram I did in Excel:

Thursday 14 March 2019

Strange thought - maybe Jeremy Corbyn was right all along (on this particular issue)...

I've pretty much ignored Labour's wafflings about Brexit because they are woefully unclear and contradictory, all they do is trot out some gibberish and repeat the mantra "avoiding a damaging Tory Brexit".

In among the waffle however, Jeremy Corbyn himself has been consistent on two matters - he refuses to say how he voted in the Referendum and has always said that he thinks the UK should leave the EU but remain in the Customs Union. This always seemed like a daft idea to me, and I automatically assumed it was wrong because he said it.

This is a perfectly plausible outcome - Turkey is in the Customs Union (actually, it's in a customs union with the Customs Union as this lengthy but informative article explains) but not in the EU.

The (a typical) CU only applies to goods, not services; Turkey is not in CAP or CFP; there's no free movement between EU and Turkey; a lot of EU rules simply don't apply there; Turkey doesn't have to impose VAT; and so on.

At our last YPP meet-up, Mombers (a moderate Remain voter) asked me what was so bad about staying in the Customs Union, given that the average tariffs are only 1.5% (a drop in the ocean compared to the current UK domestic tariff of 20% on most goods and services).

And to be honest, I struggled to think of anything really bad. Even the hard Leaver present (see comments!) couldn't think of any fatal flaws. Which got me thinking. Clearly, it's not a one way bet and there are downsides, but it would fix a lot of actual problems (car manufacturer supply chains) and perceived problems (chlorinated chicken, Irish border).

So not much changes, nothing changes for the better (but those who would gain don't know it so aren't protesting) but nothing changes for the worse either and everybody knows what they are doing. A price worth paying to get out of the EU.

The Week has a nice short article on the pro's and con's of leaving it (so the con's are pro-CU etc).

The advantages (actual or perceived) of staying in the CU make sense to me.

What are the disadvantages of staying in the CU, do they outweigh the advantages?

The first linked article lists some downsides for Turkey of the EU-Turkey deal, but these are individually negotiated and we should be able to do better. Turkey made a lot of concessions being a much weaker partner and seeing this as a first step to full EU membership. The UK is going in the other direction. I've read other articles and all the disadvantages, while real, are fairly minor.

The second article lists the following:

Hard Brexiteers warn that staying in a customs deal with the EU will prevent the UK from negotiating future trade deals.

That is true, but we've not done very well so far, in two-and-a-half years, we've managed an FTA with Switzerland and that's it (which we'd have in the CU anyway). I'd rather have free trade with Europe than with America anyway.

May herself has been vehement in her desire for Brexit Britain to be a “global leader in free trade”, arguing in her Mansion House speech that it would be a “betrayal of the British people” to stymie its potential by joining a customs union.

Ignore the grandstanding crap about "global leader in free trade". What does that even mean? We should be doing things for our own benefit, not to impress or influence other people. The deal which May (a Remain fifth columnist) is pushing really is a "betrayal of the British people", so she can shut up.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove has tweeted that “the referendum vote was clear - we need to take back control of trade - that means leaving the protectionist customs union”.

The vote was to leave the EU, full stop. Everybody had their own reason why they voted Leave. I doubt that many Leave voters put "take back control of trade" right at the top of their list of reasons.

Arch Brexiteer and chair of the European Research Group Jacob Rees-Mogg has argued that staying within a customs union would leave the UK paying Brussels huge sums each year while having no say on rules and regulations imposed on business and commerce.

He can f--- right off. The first part is either a lie or evidence that he knows nothing about it. If we were in the Customs Union, we would have to impose EU mandated tariffs (about £3 - £4 billion a year) but would not need to hand them over to the EU any more, pretty much the opposite of what he said.

True, the EU will no doubt stiff us for an 'access fee', but such is life, it depends on the numbers. As long as it's less than £10 billion a year (or whatever our net payments are now), that's a win.

It is also true that the UK would have no say over the rules, but:
a) EU rules on quality of food and goods seem fair enough to me
b) the UK is a fairly typical European country. Measures that 'protect' French farmers would also 'protect' UK farmers; measures that harm UK potteries would also harm German potteries etc. The EU would have to pretty devious to think up things which only harm UK producers or consumers while benefiting them in EU Member States.
c) UK services would be entirely outside the system anyway.

Rees-Mogg believes that, after leaving the union, the UK should phase out all tariffs in order to reduce consumer prices and stimulate competition.

Oh does he now? The average EU tariff is only 1.5% for crying out loud, that is the least of our worries. I bet he loves VAT though.

Nobody move or the estate agents get hurt!

From the BBC:

Some 77% of members asked by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said that the Brexit impasse was holding back activity.

New buyer enquiries, sales, and homes being put on the market all fell in February, the survey said.

This would mean a "challenging spring" for housing and the economy, it said.

Tuesday 12 March 2019

Nobody move or lower ranked NHS managers will throw more sickies!

From The Daily Mirror:

Almost 11,000 doctors, nurses and support staff were off work daily with stress, anxiety and ­depression, the latest NHS Digital figures reveal.

The biggest proportion of sick days triggered by stress was among lower ranked managers for whom it was one in three.

Across the NHS stress now accounts for 24% of all days lost to sickness. Five years ago it was 19%.

Sara Gorton, of Unison, said: “The huge shortage of staff is the biggest problem and Brexit uncertainty isn’t helping."

France not entirely daft - shock

from Ecommerce News Europe:

The French Minister of Finance told newspaper Le Parisien that the proposed tax is aimed at companies with worldwide digital revenue of at least 750 million euros and a French revenue of more than 25 million euros.

He wants to target commission-based online platforms, like Amazon or Companies that sell their products on their own websites, like French ecommerce company Darty, wouldn’t be targeted.

Good start - the point about these platform/intermediary companies is that their value is in network effects aka rent, and rent is the main thing that governments should be taxing. You have to be able to distinguish it from true earnings, which is why companies like Darty are exempted. People only use Facebook, Twitter etc because everybody else does.

In total, there are about 30 companies that would be affected if the tax plan gets greenlighted. These companies are mostly American, but also German, Spanish and British, as well as one French company (Criteo) and several companies that are originally from France but have been bought by foreign players.

According to Le Maire, a taxation system for the 21st century has to be built on what has value today. “And that’s data”, he said. The minister also added it’s a matter of fiscal justice, with these companies paying some 14 percentage points less tax than small- and medium sized enterprises in Europe.

He misses two points. It's not so much control and ownership of "data" in itself that indicates a rentier status (some companies store lots of their own data, and good luck to them, that's not rent, that's good record-keeping), it's "other people's data" aka network effect etc. And how much tax other companies pay is irrelevant, if they are earned profits in a competitive market, then they should be taxed at lower rates (or not at all). But never mind.

Sunday 10 March 2019

Cattle news - sign the petition

Via @AmbushPredator, from The Daily Mail:

For decades, a farming family’s herd of long-horned highland cattle have been a Peak District tourist attraction. The ‘gentle’ beasts had roamed Baslow Edge in Derbyshire since being introduced by the family and were admired by photographers and ramblers alike.

But now farmer Alex Birch has been forced to sell or slaughter the herd of 27 after a dog owner complained he felt threatened by one of the animals. The 32-year-old said the dog owner made a complaint to the Health and Safety Executive after a cow ‘pinned him against a wall’.

He said: "They claimed the cow went for his dog and the dog went to the human who protected the dog. The cow never hurt anyone but just approached the man. Anyone who knows about these cattle will know that, if you get in that close, it’s going to hurt you."

Dog walkers are asking for trouble near cattle, doesn't everybody know that? Maybe they should start printing reminders on dog food packaging.

I also feel threatened by cattle, which is why I give them a wide berth, it never occurred to me to contact Health & Safety.

Here's a link to the petition, now up to 20,000 signatures - please add yours!

Friday 8 March 2019

Nobody move, or the expat pensioners get hurt!

Spotted by Physiocrat on

Will UK nationals continue to get their State Pension uprated under no deal?

The UK leaving the EU will not affect entitlement to continue receiving the UK State Pension if you live in the EU, and we are committed to uprate across the EU in 2019 to 2020. We would wish to continue uprating pensions beyond that but would take decisions in light of whether, as we would hope and expect, reciprocal arrangements with the EU are in place.

Physiocrat (himself an expat pensioner) adds:

My father emigrated to Australia to be with relatives and was swindled by the UK Government due to the non-uprating of pensions.

It seems as if the UK government is about to play the same dirty trick again. This is just using Brexit as an excuse. If the Spanish government decides not to uprate its citizens pensions living in the UK, why should the UK government punish UK citizens living in Spain by refusing to uprate theirs?

What is the connection? I understand that Norway has a reciprocal arrangement, but then the numbers involved as so small as to be insignificant.

Like so much that has been said about Brexit, it is a strange logic. The British pension is a contributions-based entitlement. What business is it of the government to restrict it if people choose not to live in the UK?

I smell foul play in the offing. A stink needs to be made.

Thursday 7 March 2019

If only...

From Sky News:

The Government will slash Britain's trade tariffs to more than at any point in history...


... if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal, Sky News has learnt.


Nobody move or the global economy gets hurt!

From City AM:

Global growth predictions were slashed today as a major economic body warned that a no-deal Brexit would see Britain return to recession...

The economy could contract by two per cent, plunging the country into recession, if Britain quits the EU without a deal and crashes out on World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, the OECD also warned.

Such an outcome, according to the report, “would add to the adverse effects on GDP and business investment already seen relative to expectations prior to the vote in 2016”.

The OECD cautioned that the effects of no-deal "could be stronger still if a lack of adequate border infrastructure and a loss of access to EU trade arrangements with third countries were to cause serious bottlenecks in integrated cross-border supply chains”.

Woulda coulda shoulda.

Wednesday 6 March 2019

Nobody move or the cancer patients get hurt!

From the BBC:

Hospitals are likely to experience delays to cancer testing and treatment regardless of the result of next week's Brexit vote, BBC Newsnight has learned.

The Royal College of Radiologists has told doctors to prepare for possible delays for some drugs used to detect cancer if there is a no-deal Brexit. It says clinicians should reduce their workload in the days after 29 March, when the UK is due to leave the EU...

The five-page guidance to doctors from the Royal College of Radiologists (RCR), seen by Newsnight, warns that some radiopharmaceutical suppliers "anticipate there may be some delay to their delivery times". It advises clinicians to: "Keep [your] workload lighter for the first week following a no-deal Brexit, in order to see more clearly what the impact is likely to be."

Likely to, possible delays, may be, in order to see more clearly.

If the lack of drugs doesn't kill them, the prevaricating and work-to-rule, go-slow will. Are NHS doctors allowed to do 'industrial action' to support a purely political agenda?

Film Review: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

One of the problems with Dreamworks animated movies is how inconsistent they've been on quality, which is why I missed the first How To Train Your Dragon (HTTYD) movie at the cinema and then kicked myself when I saw it on DVD. It's a really good family animated movie, and while it's about fights with dragons and things, it's also a movie about family.

The sequel was good too. So, I was looking forward to the 3rd film HTTYD: The Hidden World. And in general, it's pretty good. Not as good as the first two, but it does the job and also makes a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy.

"List of sovereign states in Europe by GDP (nominal) per capita 2017"

From Wiki.

1. Luxembourg
2. Switzerland
3. Norway
4. Ireland
5. Iceland
6. Denmark
7. Sweden
8. Netherlands
9. Austria
10. Finland

Can you spot the ones which are not Member States of the EU, and as a bonus, which ones don't use the Euro?

Click and highlight to reveal answers...

Not EU Member States:
2. Switzerland
3. Norway
5. Iceland

Don't use the Euro:
2. Switzerland
3. Norway
5. Iceland
6. Denmark
7. Sweden

Tuesday 5 March 2019

The funny things that the Warmenists say...

From The Royal Meteorological Society (in 2011):

If Earth’s atmosphere contained no GHGs, all the IR radiation would be propagated directly to space and would be ‘lost’. The world would be cooler than it is by around 33 degC, having an average temperature of around –18 °C instead of its present +15 °C, for reasons that will now be explained.

That is the most outrageous claim the Warmenists have ever advanced, it does not fit in with any of their other claims.

But let's  test the claim against "what we know" and, for sake of argument, allocate half that 33 degC to the effect of water vapour and half to CO2, 16C each. That means our current 400 ppm CO2 = extra 16C.

Assuming a linear relationship, when CO2 was only 300 ppm, the surface temperature would have been on average 4C lower, which it clearly wasn't, and to get the so-called 2C 'tipping point' increase, CO2 levels would only have to increase to 450 ppm (which they probably will in the next twenty years or so, in which case we'll find out one way or another).

Assuming a logarithmic relationship, it would have been 0.8C cooler with 300 ppm*, which is quite possibly true, but to get to the so-called 2C 'tipping point' increase, CO2 levels would have to increase to 846ppm**, which they simply will not do.

* Log(300) ÷ log(400) x 16C = 15.2C
** 10^(log(400) x 18C/16C) = 846

Or, they could just buy "male" razors...

From the BBC:

A Lib Dem MP wants to stop items such as razors or deodorants from being priced differently based on whether they are marketed at men or women.

On Tuesday Christine Jardine will introduce a bill to Parliament banning what she calls "a sexist tax"...

An investigation by The Times newspaper in 2016 found that women and girls were charged on average 37% more for clothes, beauty products and toys.

In the same year, a petition accused Boots of charging £2.29 for an eight-pack of women's razors compared to £1.49 for a 10-pack of male razors.

Monday 4 March 2019

Daily Mail on top form

From The Daily Mail:

Yousef Makki, 17, was stabbed to death on Saturday night in Greater Manchester... Yousef is thought to have received a scholarship to attend the school, where fees are in excess of £12,000 a year.

Two 17-year-old boys have been arrested on suspicion of murder. They are both also pupils at prestigious schools in the North West and are believed to live in multi-million pound homes in the area.

That really is a journalistic low, even by the Mail's (lack of) standards.

Because Northeners can't do maths?

From the BBC:

A £1.6bn government fund has been launched to boost less well-off towns in England after Brexit. The pot is split into £1bn, divided in England using a needs-based formula, and £600m communities can bid for. More than half of the money, to be spread over seven years, will go to the north of England and the Midlands.

£1.6 billion sound like a lot, but in national terms, that's fuck all divided by six and a complete insult.

Just in case that wasn't immediately obvious, BBC has done the numbers, it's about £30 per person in the most disadvantaged areas. Over seven bloody years.

Trolley conundrum

Sunday 3 March 2019

More exquisite Remainer logic.

From The Independent:

The English are blindly driving Northern Ireland to conflict – the fear is that they are too stupid to care. A return to violence is not a worst-case scenario but an inevitability if a hard border returns, as it will if there is a full Brexit.

OK, why's that then?

Focus is often placed on the sheer difficulty of policing the 310-mile border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland because there are at least 300 major and minor crossing points.

But the real problem is not geographic or military but political and demographic because almost all the border runs through country where Catholics greatly outnumber Protestants.

The Catholics will not accept, and are in a position to prevent, a hard border unless it is defended permanently by several thousand British troops in fortified positions.

Sounds like a terribly stupid idea to me, it fails for practicality, so whose idea is it?

The EU could never agree to a deal – and would be signing its own death warrant if it did – in which the customs union and the single market have a large unguarded hole in their tariff and regulatory walls.

Jolly good. Let Them sort it out then, not the UK's problem. What if the UK sensibly refuses to get involved with imposing a 'hard border'?
UPDATE, let's re-write this to state the actual position:

The EU is blindly driving Northern Ireland to conflict – the fear is that they are too stupid to care. A return to violence is not a worst-case scenario but an inevitability if a hard border returns, as it will if there is a full Brexit.

The EU could never agree to a deal – and would be signing its own death warrant if it did – in which the customs union and the single market have a large unguarded hole in their tariff and regulatory walls.

Focus is often placed on the sheer difficulty of policing the 310-mile border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland because there are at least 300 major and minor crossing points.

But the real problem is not geographic or military but political and demographic because almost all the border runs through country where Catholics greatly outnumber Protestants.

The Catholics will not accept, and are in a position to prevent, a hard border unless it is defended permanently by several thousand EU/Irish troops in fortified positions.

Saturday 2 March 2019

"Norway and Switzerland have to accept EU laws..."

I voted Leave and was vaguely hoping that the UK government would do the obvious thing and just rejoin EFTA (and stay in the EEA), which would give us most of the advantages of being in the EU as well as most of the advantages of not being in the EU, thereby "respecting the outcome of the Referendum" which was a score draw.

Leavers and Remainers both say that rejoining EFTA is a bad idea because "Norway and Switzerland have to accept EU laws despite not being members in order to trade with it".

FullFact comes to the conclusion that "This is about right. Both Norway and Switzerland keep out of some EU activities, such as the Common Agricultural Policy. But they bring many of their laws into line with EU rules, on the single market in particular. Norway incorporates single market rules as they’re made, while Switzerland accepts EU law from time to time in return for more market access."

There's a bit more to it than this, but it's partly a numbers thing.

The population of the EU (incl. UK) is 511 million against a total population in EFTA countries of just over 14 million, a ratio of 36:1.

Had the UK rejoined EFTA (I doubt that they'd still want us now), the numbers would be 445 million and 80 million, a ratio of 6:1. EFTA countries would still be outnumbered, but the imbalance would be considerably less and so the argument would have considerably less weight.

If then a couple of the less Europhile Member States follow the UK, the ratio would be lower still, once it drops below 3:1, the two blocs would be negotiating as equals.

Friday 1 March 2019

David Lammy is absolutely spot on (for once)

David Lammy is usually a source of lightweight PC-buffoonery, but this time he's absolutely spot on. From the BBC:

Stacey Dooley has challenged MP David Lammy after he said "the world does not need any more white saviours" following her Comic Relief posts from Africa.

Clearly, he used the word "white" to refer to Westerners generally i.e. non-Africans, it was not a comment about the actual skin colour of Bono, Bob Geldof and their imitators. But she deliberately misinterprets it anyway:

She tweeted: "David, is the issue with me being white? (Genuine question)... because if that's the case, you could always go over there and try raise awareness?"

She's [sic] posted images on Instagram of her holding a young Ugandan child.

OK, David Lammy is "black" in a racial/skin colour sense, as his parents (or grandparents?) came here from Africa. But he is as English/Western as she is (which makes her comment pretty racist, even by my non-PC standards), and he shouldn't be posing with African orphans any more than she should.

And you don't need to go there to "raise awareness", those suffering already know it.

The example I like to use is all these charities asking for money to help save Indian tigers from extinction. How is that any of their business? If I were an Indian with a few bob to spare, I'd round up the last few tigers, fly them over and let them loose in the Home Counties.

Mr Lammy said: "This isn't personal and I don't question your good motives."

Clearly it wasn't personal, he was using her as an example, here's what he meant:

The Labour MP for Tottenham added: "My problem with British celebrities being flown out by Comic Relief to make these films is that it sends a distorted image of Africa which perpetuates an old idea from the colonial era."

Just to reinforce how out of touch these celebs are...

Dooley, who recently won Strictly Come Dancing and has made documentaries for the BBC on topics including fast fashion and an Isis sex slave, said: "Comic Relief have raised over £1bn since they started. I saw projects that were saving lives with the money. Kids' lives."

BBC documentary maker wins BBC dance competition, shock. Guess whose side the BBC will take...

OK, £1 billion sounds like a lot of money doesn't it? Averaged over 34 years, it's £30 million a year. That's about one per cent of the BBC's staggeringly bloated annual budget; about the same as the total annual salaries of the dozen highest paid BBC employees; about 0.2% of UK official aid payments each year, funded by UK taxpayers and spent by the UK government; or about 2.5p per capita per annum for each African.

Naff all, in other words.

Particularly puke making is these people climbing up Kilimanjaro "for Comic Relief". What is the point of that? How does it have any relation to the specific problems that certain African countries are facing? How is that a sensible use of anybody's money?

They'd have done far more good just sending a few ordinary families on nice normal holidays in African countries, putting some money into the real local economies; and making a programme about it on the cheap and thereby encouraging other viewers to go there as well?