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September 17, 2018

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the Brits can at least have the government say “we’re ignoring a tampered with vote”; we don’t have a way to do that.

SURE we do. It's called The Electoral College, and they had ONE JOB.

Sad.

The reason for the rash of scare stories about ‘no deal Brexit’ - aside from the fairly obvious point that there’s more than a degree of truth in them - is to persuade a majority of the House of Commons to vote in favour of the large helping of fudge which Theresaa May and Monsieur Barnier will likely concoct to ensure a slightly less than disastrous Brexit.

No one will be particularly happy, but that’s more or less politics as usual.

Nigel (and any other UK or Europe based regulars), a post with the view from where you are would be welcome. Alternatively, a post that details the disjunctions between how Brexit is reported where you are and how it filters into the US press would be interesting.

I will try to do that sometime in the next few days (I still have the skeleton of an article on cricket lying around...), but a couple of observations...

While there was almost certainly Russian intent to influence the debate, and quite likely some activity, the margin - 52/48 - was great enough for it to be unlikely that it tipped the balance. This was not a knife edge vote like that for the handful of states which tipped the electoral college to Trump. Moreover, polling since the vote has shown only a very gradual shift away from the Leave position.

Secondly, it’s quite possible that I could be wrong about a messy compromise solution being agreed. There are signs that the EU position could remain as intransigent as that of the right of the Tory party whose influence means that May with her extremely small parliamentary majority cannot compromise much further than she already has...
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/sep/17/uk-needs-darkest-hour-in-brexit-talks-before-giving-ground

I’ll happily agree that it’s an enormous mess. The political blame, as far as it can be ascribed, must lie to a large extent with the Tory party, but Labour is not in any way without fault - and even the strongly pro-European Lib Dems made serious miscalculations.

I don’t think there is any one view in the UK media - just a great deal more coverage. Indeed it has (fruitlessly) dominated political debate ever since the referendum.

"The political blame, as far as it can be ascribed, must lie to a large extent with the Tory party, but Labour is not in any way without fault - and even the strongly pro-European Lib Dems made serious miscalculations."

The political blame so far as I can see is a huge loss of trust in experts/elites. It is similar to the globalism problem in the Rust belt of the US. Huge portions of non-London have been promised for decades that the EU would be good for the gdp of the UK. Which it is, but it is essentially all captured by the rich in London. For the last 20 years there has been a choice between a massively pro-EU party and a kind of pro-EU party.

There wasn't a major party willing to say something like "deeper union only after we resolve the distribution of gains problem". So when finally these people were given a vote that let them vent their frustration about this, they took it. The experts and elites who predict disaster (almost certainly correctly) could be ignored, because they had been aggressively wrong for decades about the economic effects of the EU for the common populace.

Secondly, it’s quite possible that I could be wrong about a messy compromise solution being agreed

Nigel, yes...there may be the don't look here, we are making sausage compromise. It won't be pretty. On the other hand, the EU just might go all "let's teach them a lesson" and the sht will hit the fan.

They hold all the cards it would seem.

There wasn't a major party willing to say something like "deeper union only after we resolve the distribution of gains problem".

bobbyp...speechless.

Is that really a thing? ;)

I'm bemused by the thought process (obviously not logic) which says "This made a lot of money for the country, but it wasn't spread around. So rather than address the mal-distribution issue, we're going to reject the gains to the overall economy." I just don't see the sense. Even for those so ignorant of business and economics as to not realize how Brexit will mess up businesses generally.

"Even for those so ignorant of business and economics as to not realize how Brexit will mess up businesses generally."

I think they don't believe it.

Or rather they believe part of it. They believe the people who say that the way things have worked out with the EU is the way things have to work out. Pro-EU people have had decades to work on the issue, and have essentially ignored it. They just aren't going to be believed any more because the impression is that they've been lying thus far (if they weren't lying they would have shared in the wealth as was claimed). It is conspiritorial thinking fed by long festering resentment.

Huge portions of non-London have been promised for decades that the EU would be good for the gdp of the UK. Which it is, but it is essentially all captured by the rich in London.

Perhaps Nigel or GftNC can speak to this, but while this may be the impression (and it is certainly an viewpoint that Farage, Johnson, and the happy band of Brexiters were/are happy to push), not only EU subsidies of various kinds help areas outside of London (if you think about it, London doesn't have a lot of universities to speak of, so almost every college town in the UK is going to have problems) but the ability to have workers come in kept a lot of things afloat. It's a similar situation as with US immigration: the Right on both sides of the Atlantic can't admit how woven immigrants are into the fabric of the US or UK economy and using them as a scapegoat only works if there are adults in charge who they can run against. The fact that the Brexit post referendum press conference was the way it was is indicative of that.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/24/a-pyrrhic-victory-boris-johnson-wakes-up-to-the-costs-of-brexit

So it may be true that they had 'decades' to work this out (though the collapse of the Soviet Union, the influx of Eastern European countries, Lehman shock, Greek and Spanish insolvencies kind of make it clear that it wasn't like they had a couple of decades of undisturbed peace), I think it has not been that they were lying to people, they were unable to both rein in the worse excesses and were not able to point to the actual aspects of the EU that were keeping the British economy afloat. And they had an opposition that was actively lying (remember the £350m NHS lie on the side of the bus?). I don't believe those opinions about the EU emerged at the end of a thought process of 'ok, we've given you a fair chance to fix it'

Of course, this is three Americans opining on how another political system should deal with problems, so I would really welcome more informed viewpoints.

I just don't see the sense

It's called "flipping the bird"

This is rather bad timing for me, I can't give this proper attention probably til the end of the week, but (in no particular order, let alone of importance):

EU subsidies of various kinds help areas outside of London

Absolutely true, and as has been widely noted, some of the poorest regions of the UK, heavily dependent on EU subsidies, voted Leave by some of the widest margins. This is comparable to Trump support among the people who will suffer most from his policies.

if you think about it, London doesn't have a lot of universities to speak of

Not entirely true, as discussed with dr ngo in my past examination of the Sebastian Gorka phenomenon. It is true that degrees etc are issued in the name of London University, but to all practical intents and purposes the (18) colleges etc of London University function as separate universities. In dr ngo's day, he might have said his degree was from London University, not SOAS, but these days everyone would say their's was from e.g. UCL, Kings, Imperial, LSE, SOAS etc, to name only some of the most prominent.

Speaking of dr ngo, I'm obviously not alone in thinking of him, wishing him well, and hoping for news from him as soon as is convenient.

I don't feel particularly well informed about Brexit, and am still horrified by the prospect. I blame Corbyn for his duplicitous evasions, the Tories for their ghastly xenophobic right wing leading to the UKIP phenomenon, Russia for interference, Boris for unprincipled, opportunistic ambition, and Teresa May et al for incompetence. Blaming the EU comes at the very end of my list, despite their manifest faults.

I'm afraid I'm no use to you for the provision of thoughtful, properly informed analysis - Nigel and Pro Bono are much more likely to be able to give you what you need.


I'm curious if this study
https://theintercept.com/2018/09/18/2016-election-race-class-trump/

were replicated in the UK, we'd see a similar pattern.

It's called "flipping the bird"

This.

Also immigration - which is perhaps the single biggest issue which drove the Leave vote.

Although I know a Polish long-distance lorry driver who emigrated to Britain because he could not stand the far-right drift of Polish politics anymore, my personal impression on my last visit to England was that the overwhelming majority of immigrants are not from the EU but the Commonwealth, India and Pakistan most prominently. I wonder how the Brexit is supposed to 'help' with that.
Admittedly, a London airport* and Southampton may not be representative of England as a whole.

*every visible employee seemed to be a Sikh

Hartmut,

I think you are quite right. Great Britain has about three times as large a flow of third country immigrants than EU immigrants. So massively curtaining immigration would have been quite possible for the British even while staying in the EU had there been political will thereto.

On the whole, I think that the Brexit is a great sign of British political incompetence. They have not understood the nature of the Umion they are leaving. While they were a member, they could rely on intra-EU solidarity and seek political compromises. Now, as they are becoming a third country, our relationship to them is constrained by the treaties, which don't offer that much slack. In addition, it is a question of survival for the EU not to give them a better deal outside the EU than they already had. The Norway solution is the best they can be given: full mobility, EU jurisdiction, high payments and no say. Otherwise, it's gonna be a hard Brexit with - most likely - a Northern Irish civil war.

my personal impression on my last visit to England was that the overwhelming majority of immigrants are not from the EU but the Commonwealth, India and Pakistan most prominently. I wonder how the Brexit is supposed to 'help' with that.

That would be more or less correct (though the numbers from the EU since 2007 are significant)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_immigration_to_the_United_Kingdom#/media/File:UK_Migration_from_1970.svg
I didn't say there was any logic to it - and after all, xenophobia doesn't really admit to logic.

massively curtaining immigration would have been quite possible for the British even while staying in the EU had there been political will thereto.

Of course.
As far as the EU is concerned, the most contentious EU immigration came in 2007 with the accession of Bulgaria and Romania. We had the option back then to limit freedom of movement for a period and chose not to exercise it.

What turbocharged the debate was the huge influx of refugees into Europe from the Syrian crisis (I stress Europe, not the UK).
While I in any ways applaud her for it, had Merkel not allowed so large a number of refugees into Germany in so short a period of time, I think had she not done so, the UK referendum would probably gone the other way.

(And for those who blame Putin for influencing the result, his backing of Assad's regime is the policy which actually did so significantly.)

every visible employee seemed to be a Sikh

at least your average Brit probably understands approximately what a Sikh is.

over here everyone thinks they're jihadis.

every visible employee seemed to be a Sikh

Though that’s not even close to an approximation of reality, as Wikipedia will tell you.
The Wikipedia page on the demographics of the UK is pretty informative (although slightly out of date), as unlike some European countries (eg Sweden, I think), we record ethnicity (optionally self-identified on government forms), and the Home Office has for some time obessessively collected and published migration statistics.

You can note, for example, that the single largest foreign born group is Poles, closely followed by Indians - while those of Indian descent significantly outnumber Poles.

What’s reasonably certain is that the UK will sadly become a less attractive destination post Brexit. How much so, time will tell.

at least your average Brit probably understands approximately what a Sikh is.

over here everyone thinks they're jihadis.

Sad, but oh so true.

i'd be hard-pressed to identify Poles in a mixed group of people. Sikhs are rather easy to spot, though.

I've taken quite a shine to the Polish, myself.

hsh -- OUCH!!!

Yeah, I should have left that one in the Pole vault.

Because it would no doubt poll badly.

I should just Stach it away.

Sikhs are rather easy to spot, though.

Exactly. And given their traditions it is no surprise to find them well-represented in security forces which in turn tend to be numerous and visible at major airports.

For comparision: walking through Berlin one could get the impression that (almost) all greengrocers are Turks and (almost) all flower shops are run by Eastasians (I guess Vietnamese).

In the US, about 51% of nail technicians—and approximately 80% in California—are of Vietnamese descent.

If that's a play on Polish, props Charles. Anyway, the reason for so many Vietnamese nail technicians is because of Tippi Hedren
https://www.npr.org/2012/06/14/154852394/with-polish-vietnamese-immigrant-community-thrives

https://www.racked.com/2017/1/4/14089010/nail-salons-tippi-hedren

More links about the value of EU integration in the UK

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/20/seven-in-10-eu-workers-in-uk-would-be-barred-under-brexit-proposals

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/19/romanians-in-london-brexit-immigration-photo-essay

https://www.ft.com/content/beddf8fc-a29b-11e7-b797-b61809486fe2

https://www.economist.com/britain/2018/08/30/how-brexit-could-change-the-face-of-rural-britain

from that article
Although the CAP is unpopular, fiddling with the system provokes nervousness. The subsidies make up 61% of farm income in England; in Wales and Northern Ireland the figure is over 80%. Small, upland livestock farms tend to be particularly reliant on the subsidies. Mr Trumper says that his 500-acre farm receives about £36,000 a year in CAP payments: “We are totally dependent on that to survive.”

As a representation of Britain in Europe, this picture is near perfect:
https://twitter.com/PippaCrerar/status/1042795267165233153/photo/1

“We are totally dependent on that to survive.”

If you're totally dependent on government subsidies to survive, you're in the wrong business. Seems like, based on the level of subsidies, a lot of farmland in Britain should be turned into parkland. The governments are subsiding lifestyles, not viable business.

they might also be maintaining farmland against the possibility that they could at some point need to suddenly become more self-sustaining.

they might also be maintaining farmland because the people who live there want there to be farmland. because they like it that way.

their country, their choice. we have nothing to say about it.

So, after Brexit does the UK government continue payments equivalent to CAP? Or do those just disappear?

i only mentioned that because we use that rationale for a lot of subsidies. for one egregious example: Trump's propping-up of the US steel industry on "national security" grounds.

but we also do it with agriculture. we subsidize farms because if they go out of business, we'll become more dependent on imported food. and that's not where we want to be. we want a steady and cheap food supply, even if we have to lie about how cheap it is.

i assume we didn't invent the idea.

I don't claim this is the sort of considered and properly informed analysis GftNC promised you, but here are some thoughts:

- Brexit is a thoroughly bad idea. And holding a referendum where the Exit option said nothing about what basis we would leave on was stupid.

- I put much more of the blame for Brexit on the EU than do other commentators here. The popular perception of the EU in the UK is that we send money to the eurocrats and they waste it. Nearly half the population thinks it's worth staying in for the trade benefits, but there's not much actual enthusiasm. The Remain campaign was poor, but it's hard to see how it could have been very much more effective.

- The Euro has little direct effect on the UK, but it's a prime example of how the EU operates. Fundamentally a good idea, does the job of facilitating trade, but implemented by gaming its own rules and with a total lack of attention to the risks. With disastrous results for the PIGS, Greece especially.

- Brexit will be very bad for manufacturers in the UK which do a lot of trade with the EU, and also bad for EU manufacturers which do a lot of trade with the UK. There will be a considerable pressure exerted behind the scenes by them, including on the German government, to reach a trade deal with very low barriers.

- Brexit will be bad for banking in the City of London. No one outside the City cares very much, but they should, because UK tax revenues from the City are huge.

- Brexit will be good for a lot of small businesses which don't export to the EU - they suffer a significant regulatory burden from the EU to little advantage.

- Arguments that the UK should stay in the EU for the subsidies don't make sense. If we want to subsidise things we can do it without also paying for subsidies in the rest of the EU.

- UKIP is an alliance of small businessmen and racists. The less Neanderthal part of the leadership (Farage) pretends not to want the racists, but does whatever is necessary to get their votes. One prominent Brexit poster featured a queue of non-white migrants - the photograph turned out to have been taken in Slovenia. A white face in the foreground was carefully obscured by a slogan.

- Racism in the UK is now predominantly anti-Muslim. It's fuelled by Islamic terrorism (rare but high profile) and by reports of Muslim child-abuse gangs (which are distressingly real). Another prominent Brexit poster claimed that "Turkey (population 76 million) is joining the EU". The claim is false, but it's true that Turkey would like to join the EU and might conceivably one day do so. And Turkey is a Muslim country.

Re. agricultural subsidies: the dynamics of the market suggest that if subsidies disappear the result will be mainly higher food prices rather than poorer farmers.

- Brexit will be good for a lot of small businesses which don't export to the EU - they suffer a significant regulatory burden from the EU to little advantage.

I don't think there's any real evidence that Brexit will make any difference in this respect.

After agricultural subsidies were eliminated in the mid-'80s, New Zealand farmers became some of the most productive in the world, currently exporting about 90% of their production.

Tell that to the legislators from agricultural states.

In New Zealand's case, many of the legislators were farmers themselves. But they had to make changes when people in government were having to use personal credit cards to meet government expenses.

currently exporting about 90% of their production.

there aren't enough people in NZ to eat everything they produce. they need to do something with it.

In New Zealand's case, many of the legislators were farmers themselves.

Although, at the time, the Labour Party had just come into power. It was made up of just about everybody but farmers. The National Party had just lost power after making the bad economy and government debt situations much worse. Labour had to drastically cut government spending and it was politically easy to stick it to the farmers. But, by then, the farmers were ready for a change too.

Strange Charles, no links for NZ ag subsidies? I don't want to mind read, but I think it is because the context that those subsidies were dropped was not because the Labour party had just popped in with wonderful, fresh new ideas, but because it was part of a much larger and more problematic program. Called Rogernomics, it caused massive social disjunctions in NZ for almost 2 decades as they pursued privatization. (I was in Auckland during the 1998 Auckland power crisis , just one of a wide ranging number of effects. From the first wikipedia link

Over 15 years, New Zealand's economy and social capital faced serious problems: the youth suicide rate grew sharply into one of the highest in the developed world;[45][46] the proliferation of food banks increased dramatically;[47] marked increases in violent and other crime were observed;[48] the number of New Zealanders estimated to be living in poverty grew by at least 35% between 1989 and 1992;[49] and health care was especially hard-hit, leading to a significant deterioration in health standards among working and middle-class people.[50] In addition, many of the promised economic benefits of the experiment never materialised.[51] Between 1985 and 1992, New Zealand's economy grew by 4.7% during the same period in which the average OECD nation grew by 28.2%.[52] From 1984 to 1993 inflation averaged 9% per year, New Zealand's credit rating dropped twice, and foreign debt quadrupled.[53] Between 1986 and 1993, the unemployment rate rose from 3.6% to 11%.[54]

and this

The policies of Ruth Richardson, sometimes called "Ruthanasia", are often seen[by whom?] as a continuation of Rogernomics. Richardson served as Finance Minister in the National Party government from 1990 to 1993.

Funny how the party on the Right was able to make use of the economic liberalization mantras for Rogernomics. It's almost as if libertarians are like shock troops or something.

But hey, things got sorted? As those down under-ites say 'no worries, she'll be right...'

Strange Charles, no links for NZ ag subsidies?

Perhaps ending the subsidies is one of the few things they initially got right.

"It isn’t needed. New Zealand’s farm reforms of the 1980s dramatically illustrate the point. Faced with a budget crisis, New Zealand’s government decided to eliminate nearly all farm subsidies. That was a dramatic reform because New Zealand farmers had enjoyed high levels of aid and the country’s economy is more dependent on agriculture than is the U.S. economy.

"Despite initial protests, farm subsidies were repealed in 1984. Almost 30 different production subsidies and export incentives were ended. Did that cause a mass exodus from agriculture and an end to family farms? Not at all. It did create a tough transition period for some farmers, but large numbers of them did not walk off their land as had been predicted. Just one percent of the country’s farmers could not adjust and were forced out.

"The vast majority of New Zealand farmers proved to be skilled entrepreneurs — they restructured their operations, explored new markets, and returned to profitability. Today, New Zealand’s farming sector is more dynamic than ever, and the nation’s farmers are proud to be prospering without government hand-outs."
In New Zealand, Farmers Don’t Want Subsidies

Also, the Chinese gooseberry became somewhat popular after farmers began looking for new crops to exploit.

Perhaps, but your lack of knowledge about the full context (or your unwillingness to note it) seems like a tell.

Well, the Salzburg meeting on Thursday seems to have gone rather poorly...

...and Donald Tusk seems to have been taking lessons in etiquette from Trump, which has amused Mrs. May not at all.

The likelihood of a no deal Brexit just went up several notches. It's entirely irrational, but once leaders start getting angry, particularly when they are facing a fixed deadline, rationality goes out of the window.

Terrific long read article on Politico isn't relevant to the topic, but it does not speak well at all of the Libertarians' representative Ron Paul:

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/09/21/kent-sorenson-was-a-tea-party-hero-then-he-lost-everything-220522
The NRTWC operation has been weakened, but the scheming continues: Campaign for Liberty, a group founded by Ron Paul and staffed by his loyalists, sent a fundraising email in May—signed by the former presidential candidate himself—alleging that Republican senators Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham were “teaming up with Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to ram through one of the worst nationwide gun confiscation schemes ever devised.” Accompanying this utter falsehood were three requests for a “generous contribution.”

“None of these guys thought Ron Paul was going to be president,” Sorenson says. “It was all about making money.”...

"How is Brexit going? What do British Conservatives think of Donald Trump’s broad and punitive tariff hikes? Elizabeth Truss is a British MP and Chief Secretary to the Treasury."
Brexit, Trade, and Regulatory Barriers in Great Britain: Interview - The Right Honourable Liz Truss, MP (podcast)

More Liz Truss
https://www.theneweuropean.co.uk/top-stories/liz-truss-brexit-plan-to-sell-naan-bread-to-india-1-5674394

Liz Truss is infamous for her cheese rant
https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/liz-truss-cheese_uk_578b805ce4b0daae46fbf5b1?

“None of these guys thought Ron Paul was going to be president,” Sorenson says. “It was all about making money.”...

The Paul family is a multi-generational grifting operation. The elder Paul runs ads on legitimate financial sites peddling apocalyptic hogwash for a fee.

Here's some bad news. Gimme your money while you still have it.

What part of "all about making money" is NOT libertarian boilerplate.

I exclude Charles WT from the grifting charge because he seems to be a straight-shooting true believer, including the shooting part, ha ha ;).

Where to put this?

Regardless of what anyone thinks about the Iranian regime, this is a blatant declaration of war on America's behalf by an individual not fucking charged with making such declarations ... although he is deeply involved with the Mujahideen-Khalg, itself a band of killers ... the President's asshole attorney.

Has Congress now ceded its war-making powers to unelected administrative staff?

Why not let the second-floor janitor at the Smithsonian weigh in with threats of war and terrorism against foreign governments?

Iran has every right to respond to Guiliani with force.

Whomever that commenter is at 12:22pm, I endorse every word he wrote, including "is", "the", and "asshole".

THIS, would be this, I presume:

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/giuliani-blasts-irans-outlaws-and-murderers-promises-revolution

At some point it seems likely that Trump will decide that the necessary distraction from his legal troubles is a war (with Iran or elsewhere). When that happens, one can only hope that the response is:
"Yes, sir. We'll get right on organizing that. Let us know when Congress has the Declaration of War passed."

Someone who took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States could do nothing else.

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