Wild Bill Pillock

A Tweet from the chief Brexit coordinator in the European Parliament Guy Verhofstadt:


A day or so earlier, French president Emmanuel Macron said Britain’s refusal to pay the £39bn negotiated by Theresa May would amount to a sovereign debt default.  Naturally, this has been held aloft by Remainers in the UK who for some reason want it paid even in the absence of a deal.

They’re wrong. One of the crucial elements of any negotiation is understanding who all the players are, particularly those who are not sat around the table. For instance, if you’re negotiating a large corporate takeover you don’t want to forget about the competition commission, who is not represented in the negotiations but who very much gets a say on the final outcome. Another golden rule is you must understand who is able to negotiate what. When Pirelli attempted a takeover of Continental in the early 1990s, they didn’t fully appreciate than even if they owned more than 50% of the stock, they wouldn’t have full control of the company thanks to German law stipulating employees must be represented on the board.

The £39bn “divorce bill” was agreed between Theresa May’s negotiating team and that of Michael Barnier, who leads the EU’s negotiation efforts. However, this is not a stand-alone agreement and instead is incorporated into the draft withdrawal bill which Theresa May failed to get ratified by parliament. No serious negotiator would believe the £39bn has been finalised while knowing full well the withdrawal agreement needs to be ratified by parliament. All they’ve done is negotiate a rough figure to move things forward and agreed some more stuff before May’s gone back to “ask her people”. This is the consensus approach to negotiation whereby you make sure everyone is on board with everything before celebrating an agreement. As the European Union itself has made clear “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”. I suspect the EU mouthpieces are trying to be clever here, hoping they can get Remainers to scupper Brexit altogether, but the more they cling to this approach the more amateur they look.

Nobody negotiating a future deal with Britain will take this divorce bill as a serious agreement which they’ve reneged on, and nor will it be viewed by ratings agencies as a debt default. Britain might owe the EU a sum of money, but it does not follow that they are legally obliged to pay this £39bn in the absence of any deal ratified by parliament. People are not stupid, and they will understand this was never a proper deal, more of an agreement drawn up between one negotiator and another that was never endorsed by the people who mattered. This is also why Trump’s scrapping of the Iranian deal and his withdrawal from the Paris Agreement didn’t matter. Despite all the howls that America was proving itself untrustworthy, people looking to do serious business with the US knew these two deals were unilaterally signed by Obama and never put before Congress. In other words, they were not proper, binding agreements at all.

The lesson here is if you wish to make a deal that sticks, make sure you secure the agreement of everyone that matters. Signing deals with emissaries with no lasting authority is something any half-decent negotiator knows to avoid. The EU might be simply trying it on here, but in doing so they’re making themselves look like rank amateurs. I’m starting to get the impression they are.

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Negotiated Stalemate

It speaks volumes about the state of Britain’s political leadership that it takes Trump to come over and state the obvious:

Nigel Farage should be involved in the government’s Brexit negotiations and the UK should be prepared to leave the EU with no deal, Donald Trump has said.

In a Sunday Times interview, the US president was critical of government’s Brexit negotiations, saying it left the EU “with all the cards.”

I think it’s pretty generous to describe what has taken place so far between May’s government and the EU as negotiations. It looks more akin to a conspiracy between both sides to hobble Brexit against the wishes of the majority who voted for it. The charitable view is May was too weak and incompetent to do anything else; the harsher view is she deliberately sidelined her Brexit minister and sent in the odious Olly Robbins who was working for the other side.

Thus far the EU hasn’t done anything irrational: if the May government is incompetent or willing to betray the British people, then why should they not go along with it? However, they ought to understand that the negotiations are not yet over and indeed might just be beginning. One of the basics of multicultural negotiations is to understand who all the players are, including those who might not be seated at the table. This is the basis of the consensus approach to negotiations, where all interested parties must be brought on board before a lasting deal can be struck. If the EU thinks agreeing a deal with May is the end of it, they don’t know much about negotiations.

They were clearly hoping May’s government would ram the Withdrawal Agreement down the throats of the British public, seemingly oblivious to the historical consequences of imposing deeply unpopular and humiliating conditions on whole nations. Not that I’d argue the Treaty of Versailles was unnecessarily harsh on Germany, but one cannot ignore the role the sense of betrayal had on the politics that followed. Now that has failed, the EU ought to understand that negotiations must continue. However, they are sticking with the line that there is nothing left to negotiate.

This might not be a bad move, given how feckless Britain’s political leadership is and how clueless they are at negotiation. They might as well chance their arm that the next prime minister will be a pathetic weasel willing to do their bidding, just as the last few have been. But if someone in the Tory party grows a pair, listens to Trump’s statement of the obvious, and starts preparing for No Deal the EU is going to have to shift position or end up with the dubious honour of being the worst negotiator in this entire clown show.

One of the principles of negotiation is you should focus on interests, not positions. The EU has an interest in stopping Britain’s exit from the EU, and if they can’t do that making it as painful as possible. But their member states – those who are not seated at the table – also have interests, which may differ from those of the EU. If the British want to negotiate a better agreement, they need to make proposals which serve those interests and force the EU to either listen to the member states (and their populations) or explain why they’ve been overridden. If Britain can find a prime minister which wants to leave and is prepared to weather the domestic turmoil of No Deal, they are in a strong bargaining position. If the EU refuses to negotiate further even in the face of sensible, realistic proposals from the British side, they’ll be making the next PM’s job of selling No Deal to the public a lot easier. Whether such a person exists in the British political establishment I don’t know; the fact that Trump has suggested Farage implies he doesn’t think much of the current mainstream party leadership and who can blame him? But if they do, we’re going to get a good look at just how good Barnier et al are at negotiations. Thus far they’ve not been tested, and it’s my guess they’ll be found as wanting as our own side have been. Like wars in which peacetime generals get swapped out in favour of more competent commanders after a series of reversals, negotiations often end up with completely different teams sat opposite each other than at the beginning. I think the phony war is drawing to a close and the real one just beginning. If Britain can find a proper leader, I’m betting the next major casualty will be on the EU side.

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Master and Apprentice

I don’t see what the problem is here, frankly:

Turkey’s electoral body has been condemned for ordering Istanbul’s local elections to be re-held after an opposition victory in March.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party had claimed there were “irregularities and corruption” behind the opposition CHP’s slim win.

But CHP’s Ekrem Imamoglu, who was confirmed as Istanbul’s mayor in April, called the decision “treacherous”.

The vote, which will be held on 23 June, has sparked protests in the city.

Maybe the good citizens of Istanbul didn’t really know what they were voting for? Or perhaps the election was merely advisory? Maybe people were lied to (was there a bus involved)? As Erdogan says, there were “irregularities” and now everyone is better informed, isn’t it only right they go back for another vote “just to be sure”? After all, it’s a big decision and people have a right to change their mind. That’s what democracy is all about, isn’t it?

The European Parliament also said the decision to re-run the election would end the credibility of democratic elections in Turkey.

The EU has always encouraged Turkey to catch up with the rest of Europe. Maybe this is what they’re doing?

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Nigel’s Main Sell

I’ve said before that the British right need to get a lot smarter if they’re to claw back any of the territory they’ve lost to the left in the past couple of decades, which is pretty much all of it. A few days ago Nigel Farage launched his Brexit party with a speech which immediately triggered outrage among establishment politicians and their lackeys in the media.

This was predictable, and a sign that those opposed to Brexit will do anything to shut down the debate especially if it’s headed by someone like Farage with the knack of drawing a crowd and getting them to vote. One hopes that those running the Brexit party knew this would happen and planned for it. The correct response to the faux outrage is not to highlight the many instances of racism, antisemitism, and incitements to violence on the part of the left, but to reframe every conversation, question, and remark back towards Brexit. As soon as they start explaining they’re playing the left’s game, and they’re not going to win by painting them as hypocrites. That only works with people who have shame and principles, and Farage’s opponents have none of either.

Rather than react to the media, Farage needs to take a leaf from Trump’s book and make them chase him. This means avoiding interviews and appearing on panel shows. Let’s be honest, nobody watching the BBC, Sky News, or Channel 4 is ever going to see something that makes them vote for Farage, so he has nothing to gain by cooperating with them. He needs to understand he’s not leading a normal party, so he can’t expect to behave like he is. He should let the mainstream media run with their lies and smears, because this will serve the dual purpose of keeping his name in the headlines and making them look ridiculous. Again, Trump has shown how this can be done. Instead, Farage should take to social media and podcasts to speak to his supporters, who will quickly learn where they can find him.

Most importantly, he needs to have one policy and one policy only: leave the European Union with a wholly new withdrawal agreement or no deal at all. Absolutely everything else should be ignored until this single, pressing issue is delivered. In fact, if it were me I’d say the party will disband once Britain has left the EU. This would serve to quell the bickering which has already started between his new party and UKIP. Nobody cares what UKIP’s policies are outside of Brexit, so they should agree to join forces until after the UK has left. Of course they won’t, which leaves Brexiteers with no choice but to abandon UKIP completely. By banging on about Brexit 24/7 to the exclusion of everything else, Farage also protects himself from the slings and arrows the ruling classes will throw at him:

“Racist? Why no, we welcome Leavers of all backgrounds. It’s Remainers who lie to the electorate that we object to. Next!”

Farage must not play their game, if he does he’s toast. He’s a smart chap when it comes to politics and he’s spent time around Trump. It’ll be interesting to see what he’s learned since June 2016.

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Kicking the can’t down the road

When I was working in Nigeria I knew a French manager who was, putting it charitably, rather weak and scared of his own shadow. As is common in oil companies, especially big French ones, he’d been made a manager largely due to his age and nationality. One day he decided to give one of his Nigerian subordinates a rather useless administrative task to do. The Nigerian was also a manager, and also useless, at least when it came to his job function. Apparently he ran a few other businesses on the side and was a chief somewhere, but these involved doing more than just showing up. Have a guess where his efforts went?

Anyway, the Nigerian said he’d do this task but never bothered. There then followed a pantomime whereby every few days the Frenchman would ask the Nigerian if he’d done it, and the Nigerian would say no but he’d do it today, and then he’d not do it. This went on for over a year and it became a running joke between me and a former colleague who witnessed it. The Frenchman seemed to think there were practical reasons why the Nigerian hadn’t done this task, whereas I knew after the second or third week it would never get done. The Nigerian didn’t want to do it, and he’d worked out the Frenchman would never compel him to.

Over the years I’ve formed a phrase which I like to deploy which says if something was going to get done, it would have been done by now. There comes a point beyond which it isn’t going to get done because someone either can’t do it, or doesn’t want to do it. Yesterday one of my professors asked me what was happening with Brexit, and I said I didn’t think it was going to happen. If those in charge wanted to leave the EU everything was in place for them to do so on 29th March. Legally and politically, it was all aligned for them, but they didn’t. Why not? Because they don’t want to, so they’ve come up with one fudge after so they don’t have to. Yesterday’s agreement to extend the deadline to 31st October keeps Britain in the EU another six months, after which another fudge will be found.

A lot of Brexiteers now find themselves in the position of the Frenchman, asking someone again and again to do something they long ago decided not to. They need to accept that the phase of Brexit which began with the 2016 referendum is over. If that was the route to Britain leaving the EU, we’d be out by now. A new route will have to be found.

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Paddy Feelz

I found this article illuminating:

The stampede for Irish passports since the UK voted to leave the EU has been widely interpreted as an effort by Britons to avoid hassle at airports. Produce proof of an Irish granny and voilà, no matter what happens with Brexit, you have a burgundy passport and can travel freely throughout the EU.

Applications for Irish passports have risen to record levels, with almost 250,000 requests since January, a 30% increase from the same period last year, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Of the 860,000 Irish passports issued last year, about 200,000 applications came from the UK.

The vast majority of those 200,000 British people applying for Irish passports haven’t the slightest interest in Ireland; they simply want the convenience of an EU passport. There was a time when citizenship actually meant something, and if you speak to Irish nationalists they insist it still does – although only in the very narrow sense of not being British. But now Irish citizenship is becoming something akin to a flag of convenience in the shipping world whereby the holder knows nothing about the country and cares even less. But whereas flags of convenience were sold as revenue-raisers by tax havens or failed states, Ireland seems almost proud to be handing out passports to those fleeing the horrors of non-Brexit Britain.

I supposed we shouldn’t be too surprised. Ireland sold its culture to corporations decades ago, proliferating around the world one fake pub with tin-whistle band at a time. I wrote about this here:

It’s interesting to note how St. Patrick’s day has become a meaningless excuse to get hammered while displaying just about every ignorant stereotype about Irish people you can imagine.

From what I can see, Ireland is fast becoming a meaningless blob of woke multiculturalism and supplicant internationalism with a fake green tinge. Their economy is based on giant foreign corporations paying little tax, and their prime minister is a gay man of Indian extraction. Their most important political decision in a generation, the lifting of the ban on abortions, had them throwing street parties. Not that there’s anything wrong with those per se –  it’s up to the Irish how they run their affairs – but it does indicate they’ve abandoned conservatism and gone full-on liberal in the American sense. I’m not convinced this is a path to success, longevity, and happiness for any society.

What’s ironic is the Irish hate the English, particularly the London-based elites who look down their noses at everyone else. They complain the media reports clumsily on Ireland, except for the BBC who still think it’s part of Britain. Most of all, they detest the arrogant political classes who ride roughshod over ordinary people and are never held accountable for their actions. Which is fine, but they’ve now added Brexit to their list of gripes, as if it were the Westminster ruling classes who voted Leave and the ex-miners in the provinces who voted Remain. It’s an odd thing to hate the English elites for Brexit when it is they who’ve done all they can to scupper it. Indeed, the way things are going Theresa May might well turn out to be the most pro-Irish British prime minister in history.

This contradiction is illustrated further in the examples The Guardian uses of Brits who are looking to flee non-Brexit and settle in Ireland:

“I’m building up to be an Irish citizen, that’s the long-term goal,” said Keith Donaldson, 37, an office manager from Jarrow in north-east England who moved to Dublin last year.

He has no Irish lineage but can apply for naturalisation after five years’ residency. “Some things you can’t do unless you’re a citizen,” Donaldson said. “I’ve started getting involved in various political groups. It’s about contributing, being a member of Irish society. I identify myself as being a Brexit refugee.”

Remarkably, the Irish seem happy to welcome Englishmen whose views are indistinguishable from those of the Westminster elites to come and meddle in their politics before he’s even got citizenship. This is quite some shift in attitudes.

“Moving here gave me the possibility to be here long enough and apply for citizenship. I have to be here for five out of nine years,” said Alexandre de Menezes, 39, a dual British-Brazilian national who teaches soil microbiology at National University of Ireland Galway. “Being half British was always important to my identity, but Brexit took some of the shine away.”

So he was already in Ireland.

Kate Ryan, 40, a food writer from Bristol, married an Irish man and lived in Clonakilty, County Cork, for more than a decade without thinking much about nationality. Then came the referendum.

“It was always in the back of my mind that I would go for citizenship, but Brexit has forced my hand,” she said. This week, Ryan lodged an application for naturalisation. In the absence of Irish lineage, it entailed reams of paperwork and will cost about €1,500 (£1,285). “I decided to crack on and get this thing done.”

This is a paperwork exercise which she probably should have done anyway.

Ryan is proud of her British heritage and regularly visits her parents – who voted for Brexit – in Wales. But she feels European. Becoming Irish would underline that identity: “I see it as an opportunity to redefine who I am and my place in the world.”

So she wants to become an Irish citizen in order that she identifies with something else, and her place in the world is defined by the paperwork she holds. Being a member of a modern, western society seems to have a lot to do with worshiping political institutions and little to do with shared history and culture.

Mike Clarke, who recently left Brighton to take up a post as director of campus infrastructure at Trinity College Dublin, envisages putting down roots. “I plan to stay in Ireland as long as I can. UK plc will take an awful long time to heal,” he said.

Clarke, who grew up in Croydon, south London, has an Irish grandparent, so has a smooth path to citizenship. “I’m a very proud Englishman and British citizen. But I think of myself as European,” he said.

I’m a very proud Englishman and British citizen but I’ll become Irish via bureaucratic fiat because I think of myself as European. Personally I have no problem with Ireland inviting in people who want to dine at the smorgasbord of multicultural identity, I’m just not sure their society will be strengthened by their doing so.

Bill Foster, the managing director of the Irish division of the immigration consultancy Fragomen, said he probably would not stay long enough to obtain citizenship. But for now, he is glad to have swapped London for Dublin.

“There’s a feeling here that we want to move forward and not hanker back to the past. Living here has made me feel more European in many ways,” he said.

I find it hard to believe he found London a hotbed of English nationalist Brexiteers, so what I think what he’s saying is, having moved from London to Dublin, he’s noticed he’s now living among a lot more Europeans.

What’s obvious from all this is the Irish professional classes have a lot more in common with the English professional classes than they think, and the Irish ruling classes aren’t a whole lot different from those who are squatting in Westminster. It’s only the fault lines of history that are preventing them seeing where the real divides are.

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The friend of my friend is my enemy

So while you have fake conservatives making sure nobody to the right of Tony Blair or George W. Bush can gain traction anywhere without being branded a racist and blocked from social media, the right also has another problem and that is an inability to pick its battles. Julia Hartley-Brewer is one of the leading advocates for Brexit, she rails against political correctness and argues in favour of free speech, and believes Britain’s immigration system needs a radical overhaul. All good, right?

Actually, no. Yesterday some hack in America posted on Twitter a short clip of a Trump speech in which he called asylum-seekers “animals”. Only Trump was specifically referring to MS-13 when he used that word, and the video had been edited to obscure that fact and the “asylum seekers” bit added by the hack. It was also not new; it dated back to May 2018 when the left pulled the same trick. In other words it was straight-up fake news. Here’s how Julia Hartley-Brewer responded:


When people called her out on it, she doubled down:


Actually, Trump doesn’t go around calling people animals. This is yet more fake news, but it’s also a sign of something more worrying, especially if you’re conservative. If you are pro-Brexit, anti-PC, and want stronger immigration policies I’d have thought Trump’s your man – especially if he’s specifically talking about keeping unspeakably violent criminals out of the country. If Britain does exit the EU, who do they think their biggest ally’s going to be? Who is their main target for a trade deal? Brexiteers should be doing everything they can to get Trump interested in their cause, and they should be thanking their lucky stars someone naturally sympathetic to them is in the White House instead of a wet globalist like Obama who detests Britain and loves the EU.

I’m going to be charitable and assume Hartley-Brewer is genuinely conservative and isn’t just saying this stuff to ensure the London liberal set keep inviting her to dinner parties, but what I’m going to say isn’t much better: she’s simply not very bright when it comes to politics. If conservatives and right wingers want any chance of clawing back lost ground in the culture war, they’re going to have to be an awful lot smarter than this. Firstly, that means being fully focussed on what you want. If Brexit is your priority, concentrate on that, and don’t concern yourself with matters unrelated to the task at hand. Otherwise there’s a good chance you’ll inadvertently strengthen your enemies and undermine your own cause. What did Hartley-Brewer expect to achieve by joining the left in bashing Trump? There’s simply no upside here, only downsides. And it’s not like Trump doesn’t use Twitter and has no idea who’s saying what. She’s blundered straight into a bear trap set by her enemies. If this were a real war, she’d be written off as a liability. Now I’m not saying Brexiteers and conservatives should agree with Trump or even like the man. But there is an option to, you know, just shut the f*** up. You don’t actually have to comment on everything; sometimes silence works wonders. If you don’t learn to pick your battles, don’t expect to win any.

Secondly, conservatives need to recognise who their true allies are. Churchill didn’t like Stalin very much, but realised he needed him to defeat Nazi Germany. There’s plenty of time for drawing up principles once the war is won, but while it’s ongoing you do whatever’s necessary to win. If British conservatives can’t stomach Trump as an ally, they’ve already lost (again). As I’ve said before, there are things to dislike about Tommy Robinson but if British conservatives find themselves unable to throw their weight behind him when he’s being hounded by the government for speaking his mind about immigration, they ought to get ready for another few decades of cultural Marxist domination. They also need to jettison the fake conservatives and those who lack the stomach for the fight. The sort of wet conservatives who appear in the mainstream media or in Parliament can be likened to America’s supposed allies in their mission to Afghanistan: the German military wouldn’t go out at night, the French complained the country was unsafe, and the Norwegians said they’d provide a medical tent. Only the English-speaking countries – the UK, Canada, and Australia – were prepared to get stuck in, kill some folk, and take casualties of their own. The rest are free-riders waiting to step in and take charge once the enemy is defeated, or simply carp from the sidelines.

If the culture wars were a boxing match, the referee would have stopped the fight years ago. Conservative fortunes won’t improve until they acknowledge this and change their approach entirely. They need to fight smarter. This means focusing on the handful of things they really want, seeking allies who want the same things, and getting rid of the grifters and hangers-on. Above all, it means shutting the f*** up for most of the time.

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Plodorian Guard

I’m fond of saying I don’t know whose side the British police are on, but I’m confident it’s not that of the general public. Yesterday the head of what looks like a police talking shop issued a helpful clarification:

Politicians and campaigners need to temper their language to avoid inciting disorder over Brexit, a senior police chief has warned, as it emerged more than 10,000 officers are on standby to tackle any unrest.

In what other country do policemen issue warnings to politicians over what language they may use? But yeah, our reputation is being damaged by Paras shooting at a poster.

Martin Hewitt, chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), said it was “incumbent” on anyone in a “position of responsibility” to express their views in a way that did not incite violent behaviour.

I wonder what he thinks he’s doing right now?

“I am thinking about disorder and people being responsible in the way they speak,” he said. “There’s a responsibility on those individuals that have a platform or voice to communicate in a way that is temperate and not in any way going to inflame people’s views.

In order that Plod’s life be made easier everyone should stop expressing strong feelings about Brexit. And that includes those charged with delivering it.

“All groups of people need to think carefully. We are in a febrile atmosphere. If people who are in a position that they are going to be listened to they need to think about the language they are using so they don’t end up with unintended consequences.”

Such as people filming policemen being battered by thugs instead of helping? Those sort of unintended consequences?

His comments came as the NPCC disclosed more than 10,000 officers from units in all 43 forces trained to combat riots, public disorder and looting, are on standby. Some 1,000 are ready to be deployed within an hour of any trouble.

It’s amazing how rapidly scarce resources can be mustered when the interests of the ruling class are threatened, isn’t it?

The numbers are larger than for the 2011 riots

Given the police stood around doing nothing during the 2011 riots, I hardly think numbers are the problem. But whereas it was just ordinary people having their lives destroyed by criminals back then, this time it’s important people who are being threatened. I expect their orders will be very different.

More than 1,000 officers are also available to be deployed from mainland Britain to Northern Ireland with armoured personnel carriers.

Allowing those who were too fat, lazy, and ill-disciplined to join the army to dress in full combat gear and play war for a weekend. Yet another nasty habit we’ve inherited from our American cousins.

He said: “We’ve been very clear that policing support should only really be called on if absolutely necessary in dealing with the wider civil contingencies.”

Mr Hall added: “Our push has been back to those sectors, those parts of government, the private sector, to say ‘it’s your responsibility to look at your individual supply chains and you should not be looking to police to come in to supplement and keep your supply chain running’.”

Translation: we are only interested in protecting our political masters, not you plebs, and not your property.

One thing is certain. When the cataclysmic realignment of British politics finally occurs and the incumbent parties and politicians are swept away, it is imperative the police are disbanded and reconstituted with wholly new personnel as part of the same movement. They are as much a part of the problem as those politicians who refuse to implement the results of the referendum.

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Change Management

An excellent article on Brexit by Theodore Dalrymple contains this paragraph:

Theresa May did not emerge from a social vacuum. She is typical of the class that has gradually attained power in Britain, from the lowest levels of the administration to the highest: unoriginal, vacillating, humorless, prey to the latest bad ideas, intellectually mediocre, believing in nothing very much, mistaking obstinacy for strength, timid but nevertheless avid for power. Thousands of minor Mays populate our institutions, as thousands of minor Blairs did before them.

The good doctor might not know this, but the rot isn’t just limited to the political classes and national institutions; it extends right through the corporate world too. The description of May could apply seamlessly to any number of managers I’ve encountered throughout my career, just as this could apply to several business units I’ve found myself working in:

Avidity for power is not the same as leadership, and Brexit required leadership.

In my 15 years in the international oil industry I came across very little actual leadership – there were some exceptions – and an awful lot of managers who took the post because it represented the next rung on the ladder and that’s where the system required them to stop for a while. The only thing they cared about was looking good in the eyes of their hierarchy and keeping their nose clean until the next promotion. Their department – its people, processes, and objectives – were seen as an inconvenience in exactly the same way May and the rest of the political classes see the population as an inconvenience.

Yesterday MPs voted to extend the deadline on Article 50 by 313 votes to 312, the winning margin provided by a convicted criminal who attended parliament wearing an ankle bracelet. To the ordinary citizen this is an abomination, but the political classes think they’ve done nothing wrong. I used to see this in the corporate world. We’d do some technical work and the results – usually technical or financial – would make the CEO unhappy, and therefore the middle management look bad. So management would demand the work be redone again and again, abandoning principles, processes, precedents, and best practices, in order to deliver the results they wanted. They’d shop around for whatever methodology would give them the outcome they desired from the beginning, yet convince themselves they were doing things properly. Not once would they reflect on the damage they’d caused to the integrity of their own organisation or the problems they’d encounter in the future. Convinced of their own propriety, they simply didn’t care.

They say politics is downstream of culture, and business is almost certainly downstream of both. The behaviour I describe is so widespread one can only assume it derives from the culture, and has probably always been there. The difference now is the incentives are so aligned that these people get rewarded before everyone else, whereas in previous eras they’d have been shoved to the sidelines by people who operate in a wholly different way. This isn’t just about politics, it’s about the direction the entire society has taken. If things are to change, the incentives to behave badly must be removed and replaced with those which reward different behaviours. Normally that takes both sticks and carrots. As far as I see it, we’re all out of carrots; it’s time to get a bigger stick. Change, in this case, will have to come from the bottom. That means you.

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Utrinque Paratus

A video has emerged of soldiers of the Parachute Regiment firing pistols at a picture of Jeremy Corbyn, causing the chattering classes to wring their hands:


What reputation would that be, then? I’ve written before about the habit of certain Brits to assume foreigners share their elevated opinion of themselves, and I suspect the same applies here. No foreigner other than Irish republicans will give a damn about this video, and if Peston thinks it undermines a reputation of Britain being a peace-loving country where things are settled by debate rather than violence, he might be surprised to learn the Iraq War put paid to that. As one of my followers on Twitter said:

Sometimes people high up in our society talk as if they are the adminstrators of the wayward province of an empire.

Certainly, their idea of what foreigners think of Britain appears to be uninformed by talking to any. Our media continually tell us we’re a laughing stock because of Brexit, but fail to appreciate it is not those who voted leave who are mocked but the incompetence of the political classes. And where do you think this video sits alongside politicians flatly refusing to honour the results of a referendum in a ranking of things which damage Britain’s reputation overseas? Old Robert Mugabe must be chuckling to himself as I type.

As another of my Twitter correspondents noted, the Mother of Parliaments is now a laughing stock; the Parachute Regiment isn’t. I find foreigners’ impressions of the UK vary greatly, but quite a few wonder why we appear to be committing suicide by opening the borders to all and sundry. Their tone suggests they used to believe Britain to be a serious country run by serious people, but no more. Our chattering classes would also be surprised to find what many foreigners – particularly those from the Middle East – think of London having a mayor named Sadiq Khan. While we insist it’s a sign of our tolerance, they see it as abject surrender. My point is if our reputation abroad mattered as much as people say it does, we’d be doing things very differently.

As for the video itself, well, what can I say? Jeremy Corbyn supported the IRA when they were murdering members of the Parachute Regiment in Northern Ireland, so what do you expect? Yes, we can talk about professionalism and worrying precedents but if these are the topics of the day, the Parachute Regiment can take their place a long way down a list which includes politicians, parliament, the police, the courts, the CPS, the immigration service, and pretty much every branch of government I can think of. Let’s talk about their professionalism and the precedents they’re setting before launching inquiries into what paras get up to when on the range. If they murder someone or commit atrocities then let me know, until then I’m content that single men in barracks don’t turn into plaster saints.

Of course, elements of the right have responded to the video by doing what they do best: talking earnestly about propriety and principles, as if these mean anything on a battlefield which the left hold every square inch of in large part because to them they don’t. So the MOD at the behest of a Tory government will identify and sack these soldiers, the right will refuse to defend them, the left will celebrate, and their Culture War trophy cabinet will groan a little more under the weight. I get that people on the right don’t want to defend the soldiers, but they could at least remain silent and not do the left’s job for them. I’ve written before about how the right needs to stop defending their enemies; they also need to stop punching right at every opportunity (as they do whenever Tommy Robinson’s name is mentioned). The country is dividing, old alliances are crumbling and new ones forming. If the centre right wants to wrest back control of the country, they’d better start demonstrating to potential allies they are serious about it. Right now, that means being on the side of these soldiers of the Parachute Regiment, or at the very least saying nothing.

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