Friday, 24 November 2017

Marxist Labour Implodes in Budget Week: We Are Past Peak Chauncey



We have reached and indeed gone past peak Chauncey. The evidence for this is not just Marxist Labour's flatlining in the polls despite the Government's serial missteps and calamities, or the fact that in one poll this week they were actually behind the Tories. It is that this is symptomatic of a wider and more serious malaise. Marxist Labour has been found out. Chauncey managed to lie and evade his way to a period of strange popularity earlier in the year. But it was not enough, even then, to win the election. If the honeymoon period was not enough then what chance when the country is accustomed to you?

If you want to see how a party would behave in government pay very very close attention to how they behave when in opposition. There have been some telling signs this week but in preceding weeks too about the true intent of Marxist Labour and what lies underneath that cuddly image they are trying to foster with people less credulous than our gullible youth and who actually paid attention during history and economics lessons. The scrutiny and pressure is unrelenting now and Labour is not reaacting well to it. Chauncey lost his temper in his post Budget response on Wednesday. John McDonnell is attempting to maintain that genial image with the Tony Benn style chuckle when asked awkward questions. But there is menace underneath it. Imagine what this vile man would be like if ever given real power. He would make even Gordon Brown look cuddly and accommodating.

Witness McDonnell's behaviour this week when asked some perfectly reasonable questions about Labour's spending and borrowing plans. He was asked repeatedly, on eight separate occasions, what the cost of this extra borrowing would be and repeatedly failed to answer. He claimed this was because he simply didn't have the answers to hand and that this was what IT and special advisers are for. Yet even if this was a reasonable excuse for not knowing something anyone would expect to come up, he hadn't bothered to apprise himself of the facts by the time the next interview came around. Or the next. The conclusion we must come to then is that Marxist Labour simply don't want to answer the question. They know it would be terrifying and their already flatlining poll rating would plummet still further. Instead of answering the question McDonnell attacked the questioner and their supposedly trite journalism. It is apparently trite to ask him how much Marxist Labour would spend on servicing the debt of this country.

When pressed on this he kept refusing to answer. Yet, again when pressed, he said the amount it would cost is minimal. So if it's minimal John then why are you so afraid to tell us?

The previous day when pressed on which asset managers have backed his policy that would see their assets confiscated by the state he again declined to answer and again affected to lose his temper, attacking the questioner. The interviewers in question were actually openly laughing at him in the end. It was ludicrous, it was risible and yet this is the man Marxist Labour say would run the economy. It was at its funniest when he asked if they doubted his honesty. Well yes we do doubt your honesty. Not only have you denied your backing of the IRA, Slobodan Milosevic, Hisbollah and now claim that you have asset managers backing your Marxist plans, you also unashamedly lied on national television about how you had previously used Paris's water supply as an example of how your nationalisation policy would work. McDonnell claimed he hadn't. Guido has the video of him saying exactly what he now denies.



Not that this should surprise of course because McDonnell has only recently denied saying that he would bring in exchange controls if they win power. Yet only 3 months ago he told Marxist Labour's party conference that that is precisely what they have planned. He boasted about it in fact.

So why is the Shadow Chancellor telling so many bare faced lies about what he has planned for the country? There are two possibilities. I'll deal with the least likely first. That is that he knows his policy prescriptions are lunacy but means to implement them anyway. This is vanishingly unlikely. The left always think that they are right, even though they have never been right throughout history. That is why they can never address the failures of socialism around the world and right now in Venezuela, a country they were lionising within the last 5 years as an example for us to emulate. Socialism is always failing for some other reason, never the flawed ideology itself.

The more likely explanation for the lies is that he knows that he has to lie in order to get elected before then proceeding to do all of the things he has said he won't do. That is the most likely scenario. McDonnell has never been in a position like this. He has never felt any compunction about telling the truth about his instincts and prescriptions. Now he has no choice but to lie. He doesn't worry about this because he doesn't really believe in parliamentary democracy and would seek to undermine and usurp it if ever elected. In the meantime he has to chuckle and sound avuncular and refuse to answer reasonable questions and lie and lie and lie again.

The answers he did give were nonsensical and contradictory. The nonsense about his spending paying for itself is economic illiteracy of the highest order. To be clear this is not Keynesianism. Keynes did not advocate spending money the way Labour propose spending money on pointless ideological nationalisation programmes and throwing money at the NHS and welfare. That is not investment and certainly would not pay for itself. It would cost us a great deal. Yet still he kept trotting out this leftist canard. Even if it were true that investing money pays for itself immediately as he claimed, it certainly does not do so when you borrow money to nationalise industries that are functioning perfectly well and indeed paying taxes. The only reason to nationalise them is leftist dogma. The railways are not perfect, but then they are carrying an awful lot of passengers. Nationalisation would solve nothing.

And when Government cuts taxes it is not giving the rich or anyone else money. It is just not taking so much of their money off them. Otherwise this week's cut to stamp duty for first time buyers would be giving them money, which is an absurd characterisation of a tax. They have had what they would have had to pay in tax abolished. Do Marxist Labour begrudge them this? And, as has been demonstrated so often now it ought to be beyond question, putting taxes up raises less money. This is not at all hard to understand. It is why, despite the cuts that this Government has made to Corporation Tax since 2010, we are bringing in more than ever before. Yet still Marxist Labour persist with the lie that all would be well if only we taxed the rich and corporations more. It would actually make matters worse, cost jobs and put up taxes for everyone. Marxist Labour deep down know this or else they would see no need for exchange controls, which is presumably why they now deny that this is what they would do. Putting taxes up is nothing to do with raising money for spending, it is about vengeance and class war. It would destroy the economy and hurt the poorest in our society the most. Marxist Labour, as usual, doesn't care so long as they get to burnish their revolutionary principles.

Part of the problem we face as a nation and part of the reason that the economy is not doing so well as we would like, leaving aside the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, is low productivity. Yet Marxist Labour would make this much worse. Their instincts are protectionist and to side with the unions in demanding that obsolete jobs and businesses be preserved and maintained. Look at how the rail unions are fighting their ridiculous battle to stop the rail operators from bringing in new technology. If Chauncey were to win power he would give the unions more rights and powers and spread this kind of obstructionism right across industry and the public sector. This would have the consequence of costing jobs not saving them. But this is not a philosophy that they can get their heads around.

And this is why we have gone past peak Chauncey. The country is figuring them out and is realising what they are really about. These are class warriors posing as social democrats. They are ideologues who came as close as they will ever get to power but who still cannot get over the line because the British people aren't stupid.

None of which is to say that Tories can afford to be complacent. We have to keep attacking them and exposing their nasty politics. We have to keep exposing their racism, their arrogance, their inability to apologise and their serial inability to change their minds when new facts become available. Why is it that Chauncey punishes some of his MPs for low level harassment and yet has still not punished the nasty Emma Dent-Coad for her racism and for her non-apology apology? Because Chauncey is a hypocrite and a liar just like his friend McDonnell.


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Thursday, 23 November 2017

Safety First Phil


To be fair to Philip Hammond, he's not bad at the jokes. He can actually be rather funny. We needed the laughs. This was a Budget in which he pocketed some imaginary, actuarial tax and, belying his image as the austere and cautious manager of the nation's finances, he opted to spend it, £27 billion worth. Not that Labour gave him much credit. Chauncey went into full sanctimonious high dudgeon mode and berated heartless Tories who mocked him for his histrionics. If you believed Labour you would imagine that we were a country in full Dickensian squalor with Tory toffs shoving children under moving machinery instead of a country that has suffered small pay rises for a few years in succession and asks benefit claimants to wait a couple of weeks for their benefits. Incidentally, since those claiming unemployment benefits anew must, logically, have just come out of work, why would they be in such dire straits as to be unable to wait a couple of weeks until they get benefits? Anyway, Phil had listened and the Government is taking action on this. Still Marxist Labour weren't happy. It's almost as if Chauncey had had his speech written by Seamus before Phil had even stood up.

But Hammond has taken to heart the criticisms of his being too dry, too dull, too low key. He noticeably tried at the start of his speech to use some airy rhetoric, to do the vision thing. This was of limited effect however, because it was not especially convincing at this late juncture and because he hadn't the measures thereafter to justify it.

Hammond had learnt his lesson from last time and managed, thus far anyway, to dodge any man traps like his NICs fiasco. He avoided doing anything to VAT for small businesses for instance because that would have enraged Tory MPs, Tory newspapers and Tory bloggers. And his big rabbit from the hat was his abolition of stamp duty for first time buyers. No other reforms of this destructive and unnecessary tax were made though and the same old promise of 300k new homes a year was trotted out. We need to do much better, to build more and faster. Until supply is increased by building on green fields then nothing much will change. The Government is still talking about building new garden towns, but won't enrage the NIMBYs to do it. Something has to give. We have no shortage of green fields, even in the supposedly overcrowded south east. Hammond talked about the need for planning reform but offered none. Maybe Sajid Javid will offer some in the coming days.

This was a Budget that spent a bit of money here and there (it all added up to quite a lot) and at the same time tried to spin as best it could the progress that Tories have made on reducing the deficit. To Labour accusations over continuing austerity there is a simple response. We still have a deficit. It is still there and the date of it being eliminated has been postponed again. We are still spending more than we are earning. Where do they imagine the money is going to come from for their ridiculous profligate plans given how tight things are?

Marxist Labour's absurd populist promises and reckless refusal to pay even lip service to prudent management of the nation's finances means that Hammond may well get away with this lacklustre Budget, not least because it was more or less what we were all expecting. The latest poll this week even has the Tories marginally ahead. Just imagine what would be possible if Tories managed to forge a coherent message, a vision for a better tomorrow after Brexit. Hammond made a fleeting attempt to appease the Brexiteers, but it was not especially convincing. There was no optimistic vision of our post Brexit future, something that we need to hear from the Chancellor of the day, whatever his private feelings on the subject, even assuming he is sure what they are. He's changed his mind a couple of times after all.

It will be interesting to see however if the stories about offering to double our so called Brexit bill payment to Brussels turn out to be true. Will the PM and her Chancellor really offer so much when they are still denying public services the extra money they demand? The Chancellor is not wrong that the NHS cannot keep demanding more and more money to compensate for poor management and its inability to raise productivity and manage costs. But the public would likely still rather see £20 or £40 billion handed to the NHS or offered as tax cuts than to the profligate panjandrums of Europe. EuroPhil did at least offer up £3 billion to prepare us to leave the EU under whatever circumstances. More will be available if necessary apparently, although as ever the devil is in the detail. This was likely a message to his backbenchers and to Europe too. But a better message would be to tell them that they can't have any more money unless they offer up and deliver a top drawer free trade deal in double quick time. Otherwise we have other spending priorities.

The big headlines of this Budget were not so much about what the Chancellor announced though but of the numbers he read out and at times rushed through Gordon Brown style. Unlike Brown, Hammond has his numbers given to him by the independent OBR. Chances are that these numbers will be as woefully wrong as they always are. They seemed very pessimistic. Almost determinedly so. Perhaps it is Robert Chote, head of the OBR, who is Eeyore after all and not Hammond.

Philip Hammond did as much as could be expected of him given his predilections and past pronouncements. It would take a new and more reforming Tory Chancellor to do more. But even so he made a decent fist of sounding optimistic and forward looking and offered some limited hope to small c conservatives desperate to get on the housing ladder. It bears repeating, Labour are neck and neck in the polls with Tories and even behind in the latest. There really isn't much the Tories would need to do to convince the country that the devil they know is infinitely preferable to the devils who want us to ignore economics and the history books. There is much more to do but this wasn't a bad start. Whether or not it saves Philip Hammond to deliver another Budget, well that is less sure. The Tories may need someone more uplifting, even if his jokes weren't bad.



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Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Our Electric Future



Few of us are expecting much from today's Budget. The pre-briefing so far has been decidedly lacklustre and been more about renouncements and playing down expectations, plus of course standard Hammond gaffes. The press reaction to the Budget will determine whether Hammond stays in post. If he makes a big NICS style mistake expect even Theresa May to finally despatch him and end his ignominious career.

As part of the pre-briefing we have been told that Hammond will bring forward measures on electric cars and other measures to make Britain a world leader in self driving cars. How many times have we heard this kind of spin about how we are going to lead the world in various new technologies. One of them was supposed to be wind turbine technology, a dead end if ever there was one.

Electric cars are clearly the future. Nobody is disputing that. The problem is that the technology is simply not there yet. It's not just that we lack the infrastructure to charge millions of cars - nobody has yet offered a solution about what we do for people who live in terraced houses or in blocks of flats. Even high end flats with underground car parks may not have the capability to retro fit charging points for cars throughout. And what happens to cars that need charging part way through their journey? Are services stations up and down motorways and A roads going to fit dozens or hundreds of charging points? At present, even on a fast charge, cars can take half an hour or more to charge fully. The impracticalities of this are obvious. Battery technology is simply not good enough yet to allow electric cars to be a viable alternative for all but the shortest of daily commutes. That is why hybrids are the next best alternative. That is other than petrol and diesel of course. Diesel is going to die a death and so we are left with petrol. But look at the strides that the car industry has made in making the old fashioned internal combustion engine cleaner and greener in recent years.



Electric car technology is simply not good enough yet for widespread use. And we still haven't mentioned the other most obvious flaw to these grand designs for our cleaner and greener future. Where is the electricity going to come from? Millions of new electric cars on the roads all being charged at night every night? How? Gesture politics in which politicians tell us that we will be banning petrol and diesel cars from roads in a couple of decades time do not answer basic questions. Until they do we should not take them seriously. Perhaps Philip Hammond will answer some today. But don't bet on it.

And as for self driving cars well that is simply not going to happen any time soon. The technology is nothing like good enough and will not be for at least 20 years. The only way that self driving cars will ever be viable on our roads is when all cars are self driving. That way they can all be controlled by central computers and they will be able to talk to one another. Self driving cars are flawed while they are sharing the roads with cars driven by unpredictable humans.

The other point about self driving cars is that once they become the way we all travel they will obviate the need for us to own personal cars. What would be the point? We will hire them as and when we need them. They will turn up to wherever we are, probably using an Uber style app and they will take us to where we tell them to take us. They will then go on to their next job. They will be taxis in other words. There will be no need for car parks and the problem of charging points will be eradicated. But the only way that any of this will work is by a Government edict telling us that all cars will be self driving and centrally controlled by a certain date. The rest will follow. But it's all a bit Orwellian isn't it.

By the way all of this is part of the subject of my new book. More details to follow in the next few months.



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Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Can Hammond Play A New Tune This Week?


It doesn't bode well for the Budget tomorrow that Philip Hammond went on the traditional weekend interview circuit and proceeded to plant his foot very firmly in his mouth. Yes, we know what he meant when he said that about unemployment and we know he is right that the NHS always calls for ever bigger wads of cash to cover up its own inadequacies and the inability of its managers to manage. But Hammond has a talent for saying these things in a remarkably impolitic way. He is a lousy politician. Theresa May should have got rid of him long ago and probably would have done had she won the election by a decent majority. But so bad is the Chancellor at his job that she could easily have done it anyway, no matter how weak she is. He has few defenders.

This blog fervently believes that it should be a radical, agenda setting, Brexit preparing, productivity enhancing, enterprise energising Budget that shows the country what Tories are about. It needs to be a Budget that takes the fight back to Marxist Labour who are already firing up their idiot rhetoric about supposed unfairnesses in the system and of how the wicked Tories have 'slashed' taxes for the rich and for corporations to the detriment of the poor.

This latter is arrant nonsense. Yes George Osborne cut the higher rate of tax from 50% to 45%, the rate it had been throughout Labour's time in power until they tried to muddy the waters prior to losing the 2010 election. They had been comfortable about people getting filthy rich before that. Suddenly they pretended that the very wealthy had somehow been getting away with it. What is also not mentioned is that Osborne took away a raft of other tax benefits from the very wealthiest. The top rate of tax is just part of the story.

And anyway, as we have seen repeatedly, the top rate of tax raised more money when at the lower rate than the higher rate. And, far from the wealthiest getting away with it they are shouldering an ever higher proportion of the nation's fiscal burden. The top 1% of taxpayers are paying 27% of all income tax. If they were to leave the country, perhaps because an incoming bunch of posturing Marxists raised their taxes to punitive levels, we would all be worse off. We have become unhealthily reliant upon the taxes of the very rich subsidising the rest of us. If they left we would be in trouble. Taxes would have to rise for everyone or spending would have to be cut. Labour prefers not to talk about all of this of course, much as they tried to pretend last week that their policies would not cause a run on the pound or cause them to bring in exchange controls.

All of which means that we need a confident, even bravura Budget from Philip Hammond on Wednesday and not the technocratic pile of mush we got last time and which got him into dire straits. Instead of offering a narrative to inspire or at least to offer hope for the end of austerity, we got measures that the Treasury had waited years for some mug to introduce for them. The Treasury really does begrudge us keeping our own money and endlessly plots to find ways of plugging loopholes in their excessively complex and arcane rulebook. Hammond indulged them and made a fool of himself.



On Wednesday he should make the case for lower taxes and point out that this is exactly what the Tories have delivered - for the lowest paid. Taxes have not been slashed for the very rich, they have been slashed for the poorest who are in work. This is the aim of Government policy and will continue to be. Tories believe in lower taxes all round, but we also believe that the best way of encouraging more into work is by allowing them to keep more of their own money. More of that sort of thing please, Chancellor.

This is not to say that there shouldn't be spending on much needed infrastructure and there needs to be urgent moves on housing. This is a very real crisis, an example of market failure, albeit one exacerbated by bad public policy. Britain needs more houses and urgently. We need to build on the green belt. Britain is a country which is mostly green fields. We can easily afford to build on some of them and indeed we cannot afford not to if we are going to see intergenerational fairness. Hammond should find the money for housing. He should point out that, rather than fritter money away on pointless ideologically driven nationalisation programmes, Tories are pragmatists who recognise when public money must be spent on national priorities. Chauncey has been complaining that Royal Mail has made a profit and has been sending some of that money the way of shareholders, that's pensioners, pension funds and Royal Mail staff. That sounds like a success to Tories and should do to everyone. It rewards saving, something that Mr Hammond should be at pains to do himself.

It is to be hoped that Hammond has much more than has been emerging over the weekend on housing. 300, 000 new homes a year is not enough and is not a new announcement anyway. He needs a raft of measures to ensure that the private sector builds more as does the public sector. These can then be sold off with rent to buy schemes. The private sector could be persuaded to build more through the simple expedient of tax incentives and the release of land for time limited periods. The way to solve the housing crisis is to enlarge supply, which will stabilise prices.

And Hammond must do something about stamp duty. It should be slashed and in some cases abolished, especially for first time buyers and for average price housing. The top rates should be cut with George Osborne's additional rates abolished. The housing market is not currently functioning as it should and this is largely down to bad policy from central and local government. The Tory affection for the green belt is preventing house building. It is an age old policy that needs to be reformed if we are to have the homes we need. Britain is not a country that is groaning under hectares of concrete and tarmac. We remain a country that is predominantly green. Using some of it for housing would barely nibble at the edges of the land we have available, even in the more populous south east.

Productivity needs urgently to be addressed if Britain is to earn more and pay itself more. And Tories should make no apology for driving through efficiency savings in public services so that we spend less. That means sucking up less of taxpayers money meaning that they will get to keep more of their money in the future. Tax cuts are moral and are desirable for a healthy and properly functioning economy. A lower rate of tax for everyone means a fairer society, including intergenerational fairness. We must not continue to load future generations with our debts just because feckless politicians cannot make tough choices or because they make irresponsible and reckless promises at elections as the Marxist Labour Party is doing.

Philip Hammond has been making a lot of noises about Brexit over the last few months, none of them encouraging or positive. It is high time that remainers accepted that we are leaving and seek to make the best of it. There is a positive case to be made. But that will not be done by trying to stall and to keep us in as long as possible. We don't want to leave without a deal but we will if we must and Hammond should start preparing the ground for that eventuality. There is a game of who blinks first going on with the EU at the moment. They want more money. Well if they want it they had better start being more constructive and talk trade. We won't offer more money until they do. We'll walk away from the talks if necessary.

To facilitate this the Chancellor should announce not just that he will fund preparations for no deal but that he is preparing a series of measures on tax and regulations to make a success of Brexit. Under such circumstances Tories, unlike Labour, will slash taxes he should say. We will slash taxes for employees and employers, we will offer aggressive incentives for investment and for incoming companies. Corporation tax will be slashed and we will have a bonfire of the inanities - Brussels regulations. If the EU thinks they can bully us then they had better think again.

There is a positive case for Britain to be made this week and for a Conservative vision of the future. It is an optimistic case for lower taxes being a force for Brexit and for a fairer society of high employment and rising skills and enterprise. Are you bold enough to make that case, Mr Hammond? We doubt it, which means that the calls for him to go will become hysterical from Wednesday afternoon onwards. The problem is that whoever succeeds him will have to wait a year to repair the damage. Emergency Brexit Budget next year anyone?


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Monday, 20 November 2017

A New Beginning For Zimbabwe?



Is Mugabe on his way out? There is a battle of wills going on and, wily until the last, he used a speech to the country to tell them that he going nowhere. So will they now make good on their threat to impeach him? Or will they back off as usual? This beautiful but frequently infuriating country might at last be plucking up the courage to oust the old fraud and crook. Of course, typically, he is clinging on and talking of how iniquitous it is to get rid of him. Talk of respecting the constitution? Oh please.

This is a coup in all but name. There is no point pretending otherwise. But that is the only way to remove a dictator who passed a law proscribing criticism of him and who got his thugs to ensure that people voted the 'right way.' Now those thugs and the army have deserted him. His term is nearly up anyway. But they have to follow through now. No more pussyfooting about. Impeach him. Then throw him in prison if necessary rather than in a cushy home built for him with stolen money.

Mugabe never respected the constitution or democracy. He subverted the latter and bent the former out of shape. He is being removed, if indeed he is removed, by a process that shows him more respect and consideration than he deserves. This is all happening because he was once again attempting to impose his will on the country he regards as his personal property. Even if he were the heroic freedom fighter of his imagination and of the propaganda, that would not entitle him to behave as he has done. That is why he is now so reviled. There is mysterious enduring respect for a legacy of 40 years ago that has always been a fantasy, a very African attitude to a man who gained power by a mixture of violence and dealmaking and then proceeded to wreck his country and brutalise his people. Those of us who have watched over the years, hoping against hope that he would finally be beaten at the polls, have found it endlessly frustrating and exasperating. Each time the nasty old liar faced down his enemies and bribed his way to a further spell in power.



Happily the people have finally had enough. His attempt to impose his grasping, charisma free wife was the final straw. Now Zimbabwe have got rid of him. The army took the brave step of finally standing up to him and the people responded. Ultimately it is people power, at long last, that has deposed this dictator. Normal democracy was never enough. It seldom is in Africa, that is part of its enduring, frustrating tragedy. It really doesn't have to be like this.

And that is the real question. Where does Zimbabwe go from here? Are they simply transferring power from one despot to another despot-in-the-making in the form of Emmerson Mnangagwa? There are elections due next year. Will they be free and fair? Will there be a proper sharing of power unlike the chimera of a few years ago when Morgan Tsvangirai was persuaded to go into coalition? For a time, though it was a coalition that was largely illusory, the economy did improve. The abandonment of the currency that Mugabe had turned into a laughing stock with his trillion dollar note meant some fiscal and monetary discipline became necessary. But it has not lasted. Zimbabwe is once again in trouble.

And so they will turn to the international community and perhaps even to Britain for help. Our Government has said that they will be prepared to offer it, but only if asked. We have been insulted and ignored too often in the past to do otherwise. And if they do ask for help and for money there must be conditions attached. Proper democracy and the rule of law must prevail. Proper monitoring of elections and the imposition of fiscal discipline again will be a cast iron requirement. Zimbabwe could easily be the jewel of Africa it once was. But only if it functions fairly and democratically. It is a beautiful country that would attract tourists aplenty and grow plentiful crops on its verdant, fertile land. This could and should be a new beginning. Experience teaches us though that it may well not be.

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Sunday, 19 November 2017

The Bible: A Very Grim Fairytale: Numbers: Chapter 33: God Reminisces and Promises More Genocide



Moses, the chosen people and God are finally coming to the end of their long journey to the promised land. It feels like we've been saying that for weeks. That's because we have; they do like to drag these stories out don't they. Now, just before they got to this fabled place, God gets Moses to record all of the places they have been to for posterity. It's all a bit vainglorious isn't it. But then that's God for you.

So God was a bit like a celebrity writing his memoirs. Look how great I am, he said to his ghostwriter Moses. Look at what I did.

So they went back over their whole journey, all the way back to Egypt. Hey remember when I slaughtered all the first born? Yes, good times. Good times.

After they left Egypt God remembered how he had provided food and water for his people and then listed all of the places that they had been to and pitched camp in. It's a bit like one of those really long slide shows you have to sit through of peoples' holidays.

And God remembered that in the 40th year after they left Egypt Aaron the priest died. He had a good innings though because he was supposed to be 123 years old.

Then after a few more stops along the way they ended up where they were, at the plains of Moab near Jordan and Jericho.

Now God told them that this was the final part of their journey. They were to pass through Jordan and into the land of Canaan. This was the promised land. Unfortunately though there were already people living there. So God said that his people, to whom he had given this land, would have to kill the people who were there already. So he had promised them land that was already occupied. Maybe it was an administrative error. Unfortunately this was an administrative error that meant the need for further mass murder.

Once they had driven out and killed the current inhabitants of this land, said God, they were to divide it up amongst themselves in parcels according to the size of each tribe. Which is all very fair and equitable. Except for the people who had lived there before obviously.






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