Thursday, 30 June 2016

Peanuts


Scotland is Leaving the EU With the Rest of Us


Let us, just to give Labour a break for one day, dwell on the fantastic mixture of delusion, sanctimony and special hypocrisy that is the SNP.

First of all this is a nationalist party, a nationalist party that is lecturing the rest of the country about our choosing to leave the EU and even has some of its activists carrying placards telling migrants that they are welcome there. They have to do this because migrants don't actually want to go there. Let's be charitable and assume that this is just because of the weather and the midges.

The SNP, since last week's vote, has been getting itself into all kinds of excitement in places it really isn't polite to talk about on a family blog (but you hide it behind your sporran - even if you are a girl) because they think that the result of the referendum and Scotland's strange fondness for all things European means that they will be able to have another independence referendum.

This created something of a dilemma for Nicola Sturgeon. Because Nicola Sturgeon knows that, though her troops are very keen on independence the people of Scotland are less keen, whatever they might currently be telling pollsters and reporters. Unless they can find some way of having a referendum without any kind of debate, without any kind of media profile whatsoever except Nicola looking grave and authentic and oh so virtuous (and probably dressed in red - she's always dressed in red) they will probably not win any referendum. This is for the very good reason that, if Scotland were to vote for independence it would immediately be declared bankrupt on account of the oil price still being on the floor and because we English would, unaccountably, stop sending them our money.

Things have not even gone well this week. Scotland is not going to stand for being taken out of the EU against its will said Ms Sturgeon and shot her mouth off to this effect at a press conference last Friday and in the Scottish Parliament. Oh and on Sunday she furthermore claimed that Scotland might have the right to veto Britain's leaving the EU anyway. Except it doesn't.

She then headed off to Brussels to get them to agree to her unilateral declaration of European accession or non secession. Unfortunately however, not only did two of the people she went to meet refuse to actually see her, but those that did had to inform her that actually there is no way that Scotland can do what she is saying it can do because it's part of the UK. We know that Scotland is part of the UK because two years ago the Scottish people voted that way in a referendum. You might recall it. Clearly it had slipped Nicola's mind.

This is made all the more clear because Nicola had to be reminded of something that came up during that referendum campaign, namely that if Scotland wanted to be in the EU after Britain leaves, it will have to apply as a new entrant and that this might be vetoed by the Spanish for instance. But even if it got past these two hurdles it would also have to give up its share of the current British rebate, would still have to hand over Scottish fisheries policy to the EU, would have to join the euro and would also have to make a financial contribution to EU coffers, something they would struggle to do on account of their being skint.

Now to be fair to Nicola, a lot of people are doing a lot of catching up on all of this at the moment. But that is me being uncharacteristically fair for me, because, though I only studied law at undergraduate level and studied no economics at all, I could see that Scotland could not veto Britain's leaving the EU, that it will not be allowed to stay in the EU without having to apply to join and that the rest of the country would not let it retain the pound upon leaving as that would hand them free access to our money, something they would be voting to give up by voting for independence.

The SNP have been hugging each other as they think that last week may well have been a game changer in their obsession with independence. Well, perhaps they are right. But, as with the last time, there will be an awful lot of awkward questions they will have to answer before they get what they want at last. Of course the UK as a whole decided that it was prepared to take the risk of Brexit, even if people like me said that the risk is minimal and that it is actually a golden opportunity. You could make the same argument about Scottish independence. But staying in the EU is not going to be part of that argument. Because you can't.


Minute Physics: Top 10 Reasons Why We Know the Earth is Round

What is Not Random?

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Peanuts


PMQs Review: 29th June 2016 - The Who is the Leader of the Opposition Edition


Where to start? That's not this reviewer's initial thoughts about the current febrile political atmosphere it's the British Government's current policy vis a vis our relations with Europe. After last week's vote, a vote that has been greeted with incredulity and condescension right around the world - the New York Times (which is every bit as snooty and aloof as your average Eurocrat) even alleged that Britons had started Googling what the EU is after we had voted. Except of course we hadn't. That was a lie worthy of George Osborne himself. Possibly as many as 1000 people had looked up what the EU is. About the same as were wondering at that moment what you should do if you have accidentally sat on something and find it lodged irremovably from your bottom.

But after last week's vote the world is currently in a state of flux. Indeed it's currently in a state that resembles Brownian motion. Tories are wondering who should be their next leader - or who it should be discounting Boris. Some are accusing the blond of having perpetrated a coup. It's an odd sort of coup though when you do it with the aid of 17 million votes and still have to seek the approval of 300 MPs many of whom cordially loathe you. Boris is the front runner, but then we know what often happens to those.

And then there is the Labour Party. Actually there are the Labour parties. There is the parliamentary Labour Party, currently trying to force Chauncey out. And then there is the wider Labour Party, the one that elected him last year. Chauncey, despite having lost a vote of no confidence yesterday and despite now not having enough supporters now to fill all of the shadow roles in his gift, is clinging on. When David Cameron made that joke this week about the new member for Tooting and her standing a chance of being instantly made a shadow cabinet member, he may not have been too wide of the mark.



The question though, as we are here to talk about PMQs, is who is now the official leader of the opposition? Is it Chauncey? The position is confused. Yes, the arcane procedures of the Labour Party mean that he remains its leader. But surely the leader of the opposition has to command the allegiance of the second biggest grouping in the House of Commons? That demonstrably should not be Chauncey. Should he even be on the front bench? Wouldn't that be the best way to get rid of him? Send him back to the back benches where he so clearly belongs and where his dirty brown jacket looked less offensive to the eyes. He cannot even fill all of his shadow positions. Is he going to fill them himself? Perhaps he's going to be like in that Bugs Bunny cartoon where he kept changing costumes every five seconds and being different characters. Or he could be like one of those people who suffer multiple personality disorder. That would be fitting actually. After all he said one thing about the EU while thinking something else.

Anyway, in a week so overflowing with history you could hear historian whimpering at the workload. After all history is usually a lot slower. Indeed this week we commemorate the Battle of the Somme.

But this is an historic PMQs. Unprecedented really. A resigning PM. A leader of the opposition who is not in place with the support of his own MPs. Indeed as he entered the chamber Chauncey was blanked by his own MPs. The front bench looked rather sparse too, notwithstanding the fact it was occupied by the substantial figure of Tom Watson.


It was an odd atmosphere in the Chamber today. Perhaps everyone was still in shock and working out how to respond. Dave seems to have rediscovered his mojo since last Friday morning. He is back on form. To be fair even Chauncey was a little less useless today, although this was largely because he and Dave were, for the first few questions singing from more or less the same hymn sheet. Chauncey even praised a Tory in his weekly obituary column. Patrick Mayhew died last week, the man who was a major part of bringing peace to Northern Ireland, a peace of course that Chauncey and co did their best to scupper by talking to and lionising the IRA.

At first he asked questions that weren't really questions about what arrangements are being made about speaking to and reassuring business - quite what Chauncey knows about big business is a mystery. He also spoke of the credit ratings agencies. How Dave didn't laugh out loud at this is also a mystery. Chauncey and his Shadow Chancellor are keen on spending ever more money and even printing it. If they were to do that our credit rating would get the same grade as his A Level results.

Chauncey even asked about the economic damage that will be done to the British economy even though he condemned George Osborne's warnings as being implausible. This is honest straightforward politics for you I suppose. It should be noted that Chauncey has not actually denied that he voted for Leave in the privacy of the polling booth.


The narrative for the Left is that the result last week was down to economics and poverty. Chauncey tried to suggest this. Dave fired back with statistics of his own. Measurement of poverty is a nonsense as we have seen for years.

But the real action came at the end. Chauncey had been countering away, a little more effectively than usual ironically if only because his questions were shorter than usual. But he got no support from his own benches. Dave however did. From Labour. He fired back about Chauncey's ineffective campaigning during the referendum and wondered out loud what he would have been like had be not been trying, a feeling reflected across the Labour Party.



And at the end Dave gave him both barrels. It might be in the Conservative Party's interests for him to stay in place - something that may well happen anyway - but, said the PM, it was not in the national interest. He quoted Cromwell's words, words that have been used a few times in recent years although probably not under these astonishing circumstances of a party leader clinging on despite losing so massively the support of his own MPs. For heaven's sake, man, go said the prime minister. There was a ripple of applause. It will likely make all of the news channels for the rest of the day, not least because the silence in the chamber made the soundbite so easy to hear. Have we seen the last of Chauncey? Don't bet on it. But maybe next week he will be all alone, much like in that picture of his cabinet meeting yesterday. Perhaps he could get the cameras in the chamber banned.



In the Absence of a Government My Manifesto for Brexit


The Remainers, in a state of shock and denial, are going through the grieving process at the moment. We are currently in the anger phase in which various luvvies and people who think they are intellectually superior, abuse those of us who voted to Leave and assume that we are either ill educated, racist or simply too stupid to understand. The BBC has indeed been feeding into this narrative with its reporters sent out to seek dim people with bad teeth from the north of England to confirm this. If they can also be got to say that they are now regretting their decision then so much the better.

We are also seeing lots of we told you so style reports about the pound and stock markets, a narrative that was undone today as both of them staged a recovery. To be fair there was an interview with Melvyn King yesterday in which he told us all to calm down and stop being so hysterical. Well said, Merv.

Oh and of course there have been the reports from Brussels itself and the capitals of Europe. Chief panjandrum Juncker was his usual less than charming self, even making allowances for the fact that he was talking to a more than usually oafish Nigel Farage. It took two to tango though and they engaged in a dance of mutual loathing and taunts. And again to be fair, Farage had been on the receiving end of various barbs from other MEP along the way as they claimed that the British people had been duped into voting the way we did. When the Remain side engaged in lies and hyperbole this was okay of course. But when Leave did it? Well, that just preyed on voters gullibility obviously.

Now some might imagine that all of this, along with the mood music coming from the bureaucrats and the capitals of Europe might be cause for worry or even panic. But not a bit of it.

It's irritating and patronising for sure, but is only to be expected. Instead we should just do what the British do best: keep calm and carry on.



The only problem is that we do not currently have a government in any real sense. David Cameron remains PM but is making jokes and issuing platitudes. George Osborne is still defending the indefensible and still claiming that he was right to say that taxes will have to go up. I accept the need for a pause while a new prime minister is appointed, but the need for a new chancellor is urgent now. Osborne should be sacked.

If we had our new prime minister in place with a new chancellor at his side, they could issue various holding statements or even set out some clear policies immediately. Instead we are in limbo.

So let me set it out for you: Here's what they should be saying.

First there is not the smallest possibility of a punishment budget. That would be a genuine case of what Osborne likes to call economic illiteracy. Instead a new government should set out a clear policy of being business friendly. The aim of a balanced budget by the end of this parliament should be abandoned for the time being. Stability is the watch word.



Accordingly they should announce immediately a brand new Boris island style airport for the south east paid for from the money they will save by not building the ruinously expensive and white elephant in waiting HS2. Instead of HS2 there will be funding diverted into improvements in existing railways and roads. The government should pledge a new extensive public housing building programme and new garden cities. If necessary these should be built entirely with public funds. To pay for all of this the government would issue new long term borrowing while interest rates remain so low. This is proper investment rather than mere public spending.

This new building and infrastructure will create thousands of new jobs. There will be a training programme for British people to fill these roles,  but where necessary we will issue working visas to  skilled workers from all around the world to apply to work here.

It should go without saying that those who are currently working here from within the EU are welcome and there is no intention or even any notion that they will ever be required to leave unless they commit criminal offences leading to terms of six months or more in prison. They will of course no longer be allowed to apply for state benefits of any kind unless and until they have been paying tax for 5 years. They will be welcome to apply for British citizenship if they wish to, but this is not necessary. However the government has every intention of introducing restrictions on new migration into the UK with annual limits set by parliament according to the needs of the economy. The existing visa restrictions currently in operation for the rest of the world will be extended to include EU migrants. These restrictions will of course only apply to those wishing to work here. Visa free travel for the entire EU will continue as before and we are happy to discuss and continue reciprocal arrangements for students and for Europe wide healthcare for tourists.

The British government will invoke Article 50 to inform the EU that we are leaving when we are good and ready. We first have to come to a determination of what our negotiating stance is to be, what requirements we will need satisfying and how we mean to proceed. Quite apart from anything else, 40 years of membership of the EU has denuded the British government of the requisite expertise and so this will have to be addressed before we are ready to commence negotiation.

We would however welcome the opportunity to discuss with the member states some broad ideas about how to go forward. Accordingly we have written to all of the governments inviting them to London to discuss matters. It will be interesting to see how they respond. Since the Article 50 measure is a clear attempt to give the EU a negotiating advantage we can hardly be blamed for resisting this or indeed of withholding our contribution to EU coffers and further measures like vetoing legislation if necessary.


It would be in the interests of the EU to accommodate Britain in its desire to negotiate in good faith an agreement that would be in our mutual interests. Since the EU has been able and willing to negotiate free trade agreements with major trading countries like Canada and America, it is hard to see how reaching an agreement with Britain should be difficult at all. We realise of course that the EU is worried by the risk of contagion, but would gently point out to the EU that if they had been more accommodating of Britain's objections and desires then this situation need never have come about. The time for avoiding contagion is long gone. Now they might be better accepting the new reality that much of Europe and not just Britain does not want ever closer union and perhaps accepting that a new semi-detached status would be better than complete detachment. It is not too late to make such an offer. Britain would not be unreceptive to such an offer and might well be willing to discuss it and put it to the country in the form of a further referendum or via a general election.

It is the British government's position that we intend to turn the UK into a formidable new low tax offshore centre. If necessary we will do this under simple WTO terms. We calculate that aggressively cutting corporation and other taxes will more than offset EU tariffs. When coupled to Britain's existing advantages in expertise, London's status as a great world city, our language and culture, our secession from the single market will not present a great difficulty. Furthermore we intend to implement cuts in taxes whilst still in the single market and before we have moved Article 50.

We contend that Britain, outside the EU and free of its instinct to regulate and ossify, will prosper. Indeed such is our confidence that we would invite like minded free marketeers to join us and escape the stultifying embrace of the EU. Life outside the EU should hold no fears. The EU is holding Europe back. Life outside is an opportunity, not something to be regretted. The EU could still make us an offer, show itself willing, genuinely willing, to accept the need for reform. Had it done so earlier this year then there would never have been any need for any of this and Britain might have been persuaded to vote for Remain.

This is the sort of thing the British government should be saying. It is the sort of thing that the candidates to be our next PM should be saying too.

Minute Physics: Is it Better to Walk or Run in the Rain?

The Fermi Paradox - Where Are All the Aliens?

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Peanuts


Woy of the Woeful



Let us pause for a moment in covering the unending car crashes, personality clashes, serial narcissism and back stabbing of the world of politics to write something about the England football team.

What a useless, awful, spineless, clueless, brainless, overpaid, over-promoted, embarrassing, inept bunch of feckless wastes of space. We have just watched an England team lose to a team from an island nation that had never before qualified for a major tournament and which has the population of Leicester.

And yet Iceland had more shots on target and managed to select a team that was able to outthink, outrun, out pass and of course outscore the fantastically well remunerated stars of an England team that some of us at one point thought ought really to be capable of at least getting to the quarter finals. Some footballing nations dream of getting to the final. We dream of the heady knock out stages. In most tournaments the closest we get to the knock out stages is when we meet a bunch of Russian ultras looking to purloin a flag or two.

Iceland, a team made up of players mostly drawn from the lower reaches of the English football league - usually the reserve teams of the lower reaches of the English football league - somehow managed to look like a team. England looked like a bunch of strangers with only a passing notion of what that spherical object they kept having kicked at them was. Indeed so great was their confusion about the spherical object that more than one of them failed to do the basics like simply stop the ball with their feet when it was passed to them. Rooney, Kane, Wilshere - all let it squirt underneath their feet like toddlers venturing outside to play for the first time.

In truth it wasn't just the players fault - it was mostly their fault for being lacklustre and inept - but it was also Woy's fault. After all he had the best part of a week to prepare his charges for this game and yet seemingly failed to acquaint them with the fact that Iceland play a very direct form of football. Iceland deploy that clever but surprisingly effective technique of chucking the ball headlong into the penalty area wherein they cause chaos. England presumably decided that this was all a clever ploy. Iceland would clearly prefer to play like their more sophisticated southern neighbours and pass the ball aimlessly and not at all accurately from side to side in the hope of boring the opposition into submission. Thus England had lots and lots of possession. Very impressive. Then, after several stultifying seconds of this ole football in which only one of them had completely missed the ball and made himself look like a tit, one of them would usually shoot from 35 yards, successfully hitting someone in the crowd. Or the corner flag. Or one of those officials they have behind the goal these days for reasons that someone will think of one of these days.

England, with the best paid manager in these championships, decided not to play players in their best positions because that was just what the Icelanders would be expecting them to do. Oh no. They would play the likes of Daniel Sturridge out on the right rather than at centre forward. Oh and they would play Raheem Sterling rather than leave him on the bench. Or at home. Apparently Raheem is upset that England and Manchester City fans seem to have come to the conclusion - some way ahead of the England manager - that he is utterly useless and incapable of actually doing anything with the ball. He can run fast of course, he can run very very fast. He just can't do it with the ball.

England's manager has also continued to play Joe Hart between those two vertical sticks he seems to have only a fleeting acquaintance with since he keeps letting the ball squirt past him and into the goal. Perhaps Woy told him to do that just to disconcert the Icelanders.

The most tragic thing of all is that we are now left scratching our heads as we wonder who the hell is going to replace Woy. Things are so desperate that some are even suggesting Glenn Hoddle, presumably because they think that murdering the English language in addition to the beautiful game we invented, is or ought to be a job requirement.

I take no consolation whatever in the fact that I foresaw all of this when Woy was appointed. Woy was appointed because they couldn't think of anyone else you see. This does not bode well for this time. That means that this time it is bound to be Glenn. Or maybe Jeremy Corbyn. Or George Osborne. He's a tactical genius too. And nobody would risk beating his team. If they did he could make them £4,300 worse off and hit them with a punishment budget.

The England manager's job may seem hard but it is anything but. Qualification is a doddle and then tournaments are a doddle too because these days nobody expects you to do any good anyway. When you inevitably fail - something that will be greatly facilitated by your playing players out of position, selecting injured and out of form players, sticking with the tried and trusted players you for no reason anyone can fathom always select and displaying all of the tactical nous of a football player confronted with a chess set - you can look forward to a happy retirement sitting alongside other failures in television studios or in the gantry next to Clive Tyldesley.

Minute Physics: Is There Poop on the Moon?

What Happened Before History?

Monday, 27 June 2016

Peanuts


A Plea to Conservatives - Install Boris



The travails of the Labour Party almost feel like referendum night. One feels one needs to wait up all night as I did on Thursday in order to keep up with the resignations.

But at least they are doing something about their useless and increasingly irrelevant leader. This blog has been saying for months now that they should move against him and now they are doing so. I also recommended months ago that, if he will not go, they should simply group together in parliament to prevent him from being leader of the opposition. That now seems a viable plan B.

But this turmoil in the Labour Party should surely give pause for thought to Conservatives. As things stand the Conservative Party is set to hold a leadership election. Yet while this is happening there is a dangerous vacuum and worrying silence from the Government. George Osborne has gone missing (now reappeared and as smug and insouciant as ever) and David Cameron is in office but not really in power. Can we really afford to wait until October for David Cameron to be replaced and a new Cabinet created? Can we afford the indulgence of a leadership election?

Because the new leader of the Conservative Party is surely obvious now, however much some may not want him to be. Boris was the leading figure of the Leave campaign with Michael Gove at his side. He won 17 million votes for Leave, up against a Remain campaign with of the aces up its sleeve. The British people have effectively elected him in addition to voting to leave the EU.



There are very many good candidates for the job of party leader and prime minister. But Boris has shown himself to be ready for the top job and the electorate have backed him too. Nobody could complain now if he was simply installed as party leader. He has a mandate to take Britain out of the EU and to negotiate the terms for doing so. Instead of spending the next 4 months campaigning again, he should be putting together a team to negotiate our exit from the EU and deciding when to invoke Article 50. We need a prime minister with authority in place to talk to the EU and tell Jean Claude Juncker to get stuffed when he demands that we invoke Article 50 according to his timetable. The referendum was advisory. The British people have spoken but they speak to the EU through the British Government. Until HM Government tells the EU of our intentions this has nothing to do with the EU.

But Conservatives have a responsibility to behave responsibly and with maturity for the good of the country. It is likely that the markets will calm down in the coming days and that the shock of the result last week and the febrile atmosphere it has created will dissipate. But this process would be greatly facilitated if a new prime minister was installed as soon as possible and government resumed. There is much work to be done and no time to be wasted on what will look like an indulgence.

Boris is the favourite to be leader precisely because of the way he campaigned and the way he won. So accept the inevitable and stand aside in his favour.

Mad As Hell and Now We're Not Taking it Anymore



Remember last year's general election? In the aftermath of the unexpected Conservative victory, a bunch of lefty halfwits, including has been ex celebrity Charlotte Church, marched in London expressing their disgust at the democratically expressed will of the British people. Church carried a placard on which was written 'I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more.'

Ms Church has not, to my knowledge, expressed the same disgust at the result in the referendum. Maybe this is because her own homeland joined most of England except London in voting for Brexit. Maybe Ms Church shares the ambivalence towards the EU of Labour leader (at the time of writing) Chauncey.

Either way she missed an opportunity. She is clearly desperate to rediscover her former fame. So she might have enjoyed being part of the celebrity gang expressing their amazement and disgust at the democratic will of the people. They included, in no particular order, Simon Schama (who doesn't actually live here most of the time anyway), Grayson Perry (naturally), Phillip Schofield, Hugh Laurie, James Corden, Richard Bacon, J K Rowling (obviously), Gary Lineker and Glastonbury performers Ellie Goulding, Damon Albarn and Chris Martin. Oh and Krishnan Guru-Murthy who had thought up a wizard wheeze for getting the whole vote ignored. Since it was late on Saturday night I can only assume, given the facile nature of his idea, that he had ingested something hallucinogenic.

Now for all I know all of these people genuinely feel that the vote was a retrograde step and something to be regretted. However I doubt it. It's far more likely that they were just joining in the cretinous caterwauling of the luvvies affecting their love for all things European because they felt it was the thing they ought to say. Their experience of Europe is positive. Of course it is. They are its chief beneficiaries. They gloss things up as their being outward looking, open minded, 'progressive.' What they actually mean is: 'I'm alright, Jack.'

If you are one of those metropolitan types who enjoy a decent, thoroughly bourgeois standard of living and who enjoy patronising those nice eastern Europeans who serve your coffee and clean your house and you even include them in your latest novel to show how at one with the zeitgeist you are, then this may indeed feel like that. But that still doesn't make you right and everyone else wrong. It just means that you have a different experience of the European project and are wilfully ignorant of its impact on ordinary people who work for the minimum wage and struggle to make ends meet.

What happened last Thursday was that people who are routinely ignored by those who run the country and patronised and ignored by metropolitan luvvie types, fought back. And they won. For once they won. They were sick of being told they were being racist for being concerned and annoyed about immigration.

But more than that they had principled objections to the European project itself. It would be nice to have that acknowledged. What we saw last Thursday was not a bovine herd moving in thrall to extremism. It was a tribe of people who have long been ignored and who fought back. Many of us who voted to leave last week did so for reasons every bit as principled as those who now decry that decision and are trying to find ways of invalidating it. We voted because we resented being ruled by an undemocratic and unaccountable elite in Brussels driving through their ever closer union and ignoring any and all objections. For many of us immigration was not the central concern, but for many of course it was. So what?

In fact what happened last Thursday was that the majority of voters said 'we're mad as hell and we're not going to take it any more.' And so now those of us who have been waiting for this for decades have finally got what we have fought for. Those who are righteously furious should not be getting angry at those who voted to leave or even at David Cameron for calling the referendum. You should be taking a long hard look at yourselves, at the arcane system you are in effect defending and at what it has done to the people you have the temerity to criticise.

Some are saying it was a narrow win and that this somehow invalidates it. But remember this was a narrow win for a campaign that was outspent and outgunned from the start. We were up against the establishment, against the full force of the government, of Brussels itself, of foreign governments, international organisations even the US government. The Remain side sent out that £9 million leaflet by bending the rules. It managed to get an extra 48 hours to put more voters on the register. It published endless reams of warnings and phoney statistics. The project fear campaign put doubts in people's minds and made them wonder if they were doing the right thing. Hell, even I had my doubts if I was doing the right thing.

But despite all of this, or maybe a little bit because of it, the Leave side won by over 1 million votes. Imagine what the result might have been had it been a fair fight.

And so now, once the shock and the indignation have died down, we will leave the EU. The terms of that have to be decided and properly debated. But the decision is made and will have to be accepted and then enacted. There is no need to rush this. The referendum was only advisory. The British government can take its time before starting the official process of actually informing the EU of our decision. We are part of Europe and keen to cooperate with it, remain on friendly terms with it, travel within it and of course trade with it. We have simply rejected being governed by the EU. The EU is not Europe.

But we are going to leave. Get used to it. And have the decency to admit that those of us who voted to leave did so for perfectly honourable, reasonable and economically literate reasons.







Minute Physics: What is Touch?

Is the 5 Second Rule True?

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Peanuts


The Bible: A Very Grim Fairytale - Exodus: Chapter 26 - God's Gaudy Palace


This entire chapter is given over to very explicit instructions about how God's house on Earth was to be built and furnished. The Tabernacle was the tent, still a tent remember, where the Ark of the Covenant was to be kept. It's a church for all intents and purposes. The first church.

But it all owes a lot to the Pagan culture that modern day believers look at so patronisingly, but that all of this was designed as a replacement for. It's all altars for burnt offerings, lots of gold, lots of ornate furnishings. Its just ritual. This is what organised religion does. It makes the worshipping of the God and the reverence to his supposed spokesmen the point of the religion and creates ornate,  abstruse and arcane rituals and other paraphernalia around it. These eventually become the point of the religion. Nowadays we may have toned down parts of the original acts of worship, but much of it is just diluted forms of the original. And modern day churches, synagogues and mosques are just as ornate and ridiculous as that described here. But that is the point of them. They were supposed to inspire awe. And with awe comes obedience and thus power.

So the Tabernacle was to have curtains: ten of them of varying colours. They specify the material they should be made from and their length. They even specify how many loops should hold up the curtains.

Then there was to be a vail to separate one part of this tent from the most holy part where the Ark of the Covenant was to be covered with a lid of pure gold. See? It's looking more and more like the places of worship we all know to this day.

God the interior designer? No. This was a power grab by priests. And there's more to come.






Minute Physics: Common Physics Misconceptions

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Peanuts


The Insufferable Sanctimony of Remainers - Treating Brexiters Like Apostates



There's been a lot of wailing and rending of garments in the wake of Thursday's historic decision. We are being softened up already by some on the left of our political establishment for an attempt to try and ignore the result of this referendum and try to keep us in something the British people have rejected.

But it's the irrational and utterly bizarre emotions this has provoked we ought to consider first. What is it that they really think we have done this week? Some talk of being ashamed of their country. Why? On what basis?

Perhaps this is just symptomatic of our times, this impulse that many, especially among the young, seem to have that sees them cry and wail and feign bloody outrage whenever anyone says or does something of which they disapprove or with which they disagree. So the country voted in a manner you find disagreeable or maybe even inconvenient. Well, never mind. That's life. Get over it. And get over yourself.

But of course they don't stop at that. They claim that theirs is the progressive attitude, whatever that means. So it is okay to be a part of a trading block - it is just a bloody trading block and not a religious movement - even if membership also obliges us to accept rules and regulations that actively work to our detriment and impoverish the people at the bottom in our society? I've never really understood what the hell progressive means, if anything, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't mean that.

The EU that we have voted to leave is a classic case of groupthink. It is a hateful, bureaucratic monolith run by arrogant, pompous, aloof technocrats who brook no dissent, whose rapacity for ever more cash and ever more powers just for the sake of having them is so brazen it ought to infuriate and repel us. Yet because they dress this up in the language of peace and love and hippy dippy inclusiveness and cooperation, the zombies who support them apparently cannot see how they are being deceived.



It's like the NHS. It is something to be proud of we are always informed and again it is defended by zealots who brook no dissent. Yet why is it that this model for delivering healthcare has not been emulated by any other comparable country on the planet? It's because we are signed up to its principles thus making us blind to its serial failings.

The same seems to be true of the EU. If it is such an inspirational model for the future, why is it that other countries around the world are not also pooling their sovereignty in the same way? Does nobody stop to think that actually it wasn't really necessary to create this arcane, byzantine structure of endless office blocks, a peripatetic parliament, a permanent unelected civil service that makes laws, a court that rules supreme and treaties that are treated like holy writ, all in order to deliver a free trade area? Was freedom of movement and the forced suppression of national laws and border arrangements really necessary to forge continent wide peace? Was it a good idea to create a single currency without the supporting political and fiscal structures however convenient it might be for those heading off to Paris for the weekend?

But apparently these questions must not be asked. It must not be questioned that we must have free access for 500 million people to our jobs market in return for the freedom to allow the Germans to sell us their cars. If, along the way, that prices local people out of jobs or depresses their wages then they are just collateral damage for a middle class dream and clearly anyone questioning this is by definition a racist. There are people complaining about it on Facebook. But analyse what they are saying and they are actually just complaining that things they care about, personal things like funding or free tuition might be affected. So the high principles they claim are anything but.



Smug lefty politicians and the legions on Facebook and Twitter have effectively called anyone who voted for Leave on Thursday stupid, ill educated and bigoted for doing so. Oh and they have criticised David Cameron for being foolish enough to grant the masses any say on this matter in the first place.

Yet those being so sanctimonious are guilty of the very ignorance and bigotry they see in others. Their version of the world is the definitive one. They reinforce this with a purblind groupthink that conflates 70 years of peace and prosperity as the achievement of a trading block rather than the achievement of enlightened self interest, NATO and mutual assured annihilation. Their fondness for easy travel is not simple convenience, oh no. It speaks to their higher cultural appreciation and openness to the world.

Fortunately of course reality will soon prove them wrong.

When Britain gets a deal that the EU is currently angrily claiming is impossible because of the risk of contagion, well that will be a start. We will get this because the EU is made up of 27 states all of whom, when push comes to shove, will look after themselves. Trading with us is in their interests. For all of their talk about solidarity and the common cause they spend most of their time fighting like rats in a sack.

When Britain starts to prosper and even boom outside the EU thanks to a bonfire of regulations and becoming the default offshore centre for the EU they will look askance.

When Britons are still able to travel abroad and move around Europe as freely as at present they might see how wrong they were.

When immigration continues, but we are able to control numbers and where immigrants come from and the skills that they have, they might concede that we had a point. They might especially do this when wages start at last to creep up for the lowest paid and unemployment falls to record lows.

Most of all though, as we have seen with the collapse of the pound and the FTSE that are already reversing, when the British economy continues to grow and do well and outperforms the rest of Europe, they will see that the pessimism and alarmism was hyperbole.

More likely though they will simply shrug and refuse to acknowledge how wrong they were. Then they'll go on a nice holiday to Italy proudly brandishing their nice blue British passports and enjoy the spending power of our strong and stable British currency. Within five years we will look back and wonder what on earth the fuss was about and be thankful that Britain is an outward looking and welcoming country that trades with the whole world - but governs itself.

The Hypocrisy and Dishonesty of Sturgeon and the SNP


Just a few short observations on the SNP and their latest indulgent talk of another independence referendum.

First, they do not have the power to call such a referendum. It is reserved to Westminster.

They promised that the last referendum, still only two years ago, would be a once in a generation event.

Had England and Wales been kept in the EU by Scottish votes then we would have accepted this as the price of being in a union. Apparently this is not a reciprocal obligation.

Their last referendum accepted their continued membership of the UK. The UK as a whole has just voted to leave the EU. To now claim that they should ignore the result of the first referendum because of the second is anti-democratic.

During the last Scottish referendum campaign, the EU Commission expressly stated that it is the UK that gets membership of the EU. Scotland would leave the EU with the rest of the country and would then have to apply for membership in its own right. It would not be a formality for Scotland to join. Others could veto their membership.

As part of a new membership application Scotland would not get the benefit of the UK rebate, would still have to hand over control over fisheries and would have to sign up to the euro.

As such Scotland would have to give up the pound.

The economic rationale for Scottish independence is a nonsense since the collapse of the oil price, as Scottish Government figures demonstrated only recently.

In becoming independent, Scotland would be giving up its current privileged economic position and subsidy via the Barnett formula. It would have to implement savage austerity to make ends meet.

The SNP did not win a majority at the Scottish elections only last month. It relies on other parties to govern. So strictly speaking it has no clear mandate to call for a referendum anyway. Are Scots up for yet another referendum? Turnout was lower in Scotland for the Euro referendum, despite the clear vote for Remain.

Video Diary: The Britain Voted for Brexit Edition

Minute Physics: Does the Universe Have a Purpose?

Journey to the Edge of the Universe

Friday, 24 June 2016

Peanuts


David Cameron Should Not Stay Longer Than Is Absolutely Necessary


So now we wait to see what David Cameron does next. If he is an honourable man then he must quit. He shouldn't force the party to force him out he should listen to the will of the people, acknowledge that his advice has been rejected and act accordingly.

And how can he stay in place anyway given what he said would happen if we take the path that we have taken? He also told us that he had delivered a renegotiation which gave us a better deal, a deal he felt he could recommend. He threatened us, he used the full resources of the Government and still his advice was ignored. So he should go.

Quite apart from anything else we will need someone to negotiate for us our new relationship with the EU. How can we entrust that role to David Camero, the man who gave us such a lousy deal?

Not that I am advocating he go immediately. That would be ridiculous and impractical. There is a process to be gone through. His successor will need to be elected.

And there is no sense rushing into anything until preliminary discussions can be had. We need to decide the best course of action, the negotiating team, the negotiating positions, what we want and what we mean to achieve.

I have always advocated the position that we could and should have got a much much better deal than the one we were given. David Cameron chose not to ask for anything much. Now he or his successor must go back and, equipped with the ultimate nuclear option, ask for a better one.

There is no need to invoke Article 50 immediately, indeed it is not clear that David Cameron has the right to do so until he has consulted more widely and possibly handed over to his successor. He should start that process this morning.

PS

He is an honourable man and I give him great credit for it. The Consevrative Party must now heal and come together, something that will be much easier thanks to the nobility of David Cameron's speedy decision to do the decent, honourable and sensible thing and resign.

As to the other parties? I'll move on to those later once I've had some sleep.


Independence Day: Britain Votes to Leave the EU



Both the BBC, ITV and Sky have called it.

Britain has voted to leave the EU. What a glorious moment, what a proud moment, what an historic and beautiful day.

Now let's be clear, it is by a narrow margin. But it is on a high, better than a general election turnout. There will be much gnashing of teeth in some parts of the country and in the smart drawing rooms of London homes. But this is decision that few can argue with.

Not that this will stop them of course. They will cavil, they will complain, they will invent phoney excuses. But most of all, even if they have the good grace not to say so explicitly, they will think that this was a decision made by stupid, ill educated and less sophisticated people than they.

They are already cropping up, their sad faces, their angry faces peering out of our television screens and wondering at what we have done. Emily Thornberry actually just went on television and claimed that her boss might have been better able to connect with the British people if only he had been given more airtime. More airtime? The man went on holiday. He didn't want to know. He probably didn't even vote to Remain.

In reality this was a decision made by people left behind by globalisation and who have been suffering economically. Was a factor in this immigration? Of course it was. But a bigger factor was that they were sick of being told by people on whom it has no impact that they shouldn't worry about it.

The Remain side had all of the advantages and used them ruthlessly. They lined up the civil service, they lined up a range of supposed experts. But they were all ignored. That shows the level of anger. They were right to be angry.

The fallout will be dramatic at first. The pound has already fallen heavily since it became clear that this might happen. Now it is definitely happening it will get worse before it gets better.

But we have made the right decision. Now the politics will play out.

EU Referendum Night Part VII

Nigel Farage just stood up and made an arse of himself for the fourth time in what remains still a short night. He seemed to be declaring victory, an odd claim when the margin between the sides is only a point or two and half a million votes. He also seemed to be claiming the credit for the win, which is an odder claim given that he was the Remainers secret weapon and the Leave side wanted him to shut up and spend more time propping up the bar.

To be fair Nigel Farage and Ukip are the reason we got the referendum at all and he should indeed claim much of the credit for that. But he definitively will not be the reason why it has been won by Leave if indeed that is the case. It will have been despite him.

It became so much harder for people like Boris and Michael Gove and their cheerleaders in the media and blogosphere like myself to make the case for Brexit when Farage was at the sidelines making his ill advised forays and talking oafishly. In vain did we point out that for us the issue of immigration, though important, was just one aspect of a wider argument about control, sovereignty, democracy and accountability.

I suppose we can content ourselves with the thought that perhaps, just perhaps, Farage might now consider that the retirement be announced and then cancelled last year can now be renounced. After all, he has now helped to ensure that he will soon be out of work as an MEP. I wonder what kind of severance package they will give to him.

EU Referendum Night Part VI

Worcester has voted to leave. Now this is not necessarily a big deal. It doesn't amount to that many votes. But it tends to be a good barometer of how the country as a whole votes. It voted 54% to 46% in favour of Leave.

Now, it's still too early to say for sure, but we can say now that Remain will need some dramatic results in its favour if it is going to win this. I'll go further: I think Leave is going to win and win by what will be a decent majority given the uphill task it faced against a sitting prime minister, the Government machine, all of the major parties and all of those international acronyms.

And there is an emerging narrative coming now from the smug metropolitans about why this is happening. This is nothing to do with the EU, they are telling us, it is about poverty, worklessness, immigration and so on. It isn't. People engaged with the issues very well. Had it been about the issues they allege we would not have got the turnout we have had.

So they are already going from telling us that they must listen more, to telling us that we were too stupid to understand these things and we have made the decision for all of the wrong reasons. And they wonder why people are furious at the political class.

EU Referendum Night Part V

Wales may be voting in favour of leaving the EU. Nobody was expecting that. It hasn't happened yet.

But on a related point, we have already discussed what this may or may not mean for the leadership of David Cameron, but what of Chauncey? His lazy, lacklustre and highly questionable leadership or lack thereof might actually be a major contributory factor in this result. Labour areas - if such things really exist any more in any meaningful sense after this - are in many parts of the country voting against the recommendation of their party and the leadership. Chauncey isn't the only one to blame. His entire party were missing in action. What happened to Alan Johnson? Their best and only excuse seems to have been that the media didn't cover them.

But the fact is that the metropolitan, Guardian reading classes who run Labour are entirely out of touch with their base vote, for the simple reason that they neither understand them or have anything in common with them. They have sympathy with them, in the same way that the landed classes once had for their tenant farmers, but they have no empathy. Indeed they take the attitude of Emily Thornberry, she who finds England flags extraordinary.

If the country votes for Leave, however narrowly, it will be as much a problem for Labour. This is not just about immigration. This is about them looking down their noses at the people they are supposed to go into politics to defend and support. Labour is not the party of the working class. They are being ignored. Indeed if only the Tories could find someone who can talk to the working class, someone with my kind of background of a red brick university rather than Oxbridge, from a Comprehensive rather than a public school then it would be game on.

EU Referendum Night Part IV

The best part about all of this is that we don't really know from one minute to the next what the hell is going on. This is the way democracy ought to be. Swindon has just come in and is broadly in line with expectations. Oh and turnout seems to be lower in areas where there was expected to be a majority for Remain over Leave.

Thus it seems to be the case that, as many of us have been saying all along, Leave voters are simply more motivated to turn out than those who want to Remain. Why? Because people cannot think of a positive reason to vote to stay in the EU. The prime minister's bullying, project fear approach may have spectacularly backfired on him as it always deserved to do.

This being the case - and insert caveat about early days here - but can he really, as per that letter, stay in office and lead the country as we start to negotiate our leaving terms? Why would we want him to? Why would the people of this country, whom the country tried to bully with talk about terrorism, recession, war, higher taxes and spending cuts, want him to continue? How could we trust the man who told us that he had got us a great deal to go into bat for us again against the same people who turned him down so humiliatingly just 4 months ago?

Whatever the final result, even if we finally get what will be a very very narrow win for Remain, this is would be a pyrrhic victory for this prime minister and for the EU. Knowing the EU as we do they won't care. They would continue as usual. Let's hope it doesn't happen.


EU Referendum Night Part III

Newcastle is in. The first proper result of the night and it is not good for Remain. It is still too early to say, but perhaps those bloody polls are wrong again. Who would have thought?

And now we've had Sunderland in. Sunderland looks like a good, solid result for Leave. Better than expected possibly, although nobody really knows for sure because we have no frame of reference. Still, this is not a good start to the morning to Remain considering where the markets have been and where the polls have been.


Thursday, 23 June 2016

EU Referendum Night Part II


First result is in and it is from Gibraltar and so there is no surprise. Had there been then we could have called off all of that counting already and gone to bed. Gibraltar, as you might expect - and even Nigel Farage might not blame them for this - voted with their definite interests at stake and for Remain. Heavily.

On the subject of Nigel Farage, he has made an arse of himself tonight already. Twice. First he seemed to concede defeat. Then he retracted, for the good reason that nobody could possibly know with them only just starting to collect ballot boxes, what the result was going to be.

Then he seems to have called foul on the whole farrago over the voting registration issue. Now this blog was critical of giving an extra 48 hours for that. It did seem like a stitch up. But such is life. We have to accept it. People voting is a good thing. It would be invidious of anyone, let alone a professional politician, to complain about people demanding the right to vote and then exercising that right. Turnout would appear to be high, of general election levels or maybe even of Scottish referendum levels. So nobody can reasonably complain about the result. Whatever the result may turn out to be.

I, for the record, at just before midnight, remain cautiously optimistic. Unlike Mr Farage. Or not. Who can tell?

EU Referendum Night Part I



So this blog is going to be here all night covering the biggest and most historic night in this country in a couple of generations. The EU Referendum, whatever the final result, is going to change the country and maybe even Europe - although that would be optimistic given its history. This bit of very welcome direct democracy has made our politicians hear points of view that they normally ignore, although many of them chose to ignore them anyway. It may even have cost them the referendum. I earnestly hope so.

The big news at the moment, just after the polls closed and before we get any proper news, is that a letter has been released signed by Cabinet ministers calling on the Conservative Party to reunite and to do so behind David Cameron. I certainly back the former. I'm not so sure about the latter. But let's see how the night pans out.

Peanuts


Vote Leave Today and Declare Independence Day




Okay, so here we are at last. The day has arrived. Today represents a once in a generation opportunity to change our country for the better, a once in a generation opportunity to stick it to the elite who always think they know best and yet who keep proving the opposite.

Britain last got to vote on the then EEC in 1975. I was 9. I had no say in the matter. Back then we thought we were taking the progressive, forward looking option and voted accordingly. We made an understandable but catastrophic mistake. Now, 41 years later, we get the opportunity to reverse that decision.

Whatever your feelings about this vote, please exercise your democratic choice. Go out and vote today.

I shall be up all night watching the results come in as Britain decides and blogging as it happens. It is a straight binary choice and so counting should be easy and quick. We may well have a result one way or the other even earlier than in a General Election - look to places like Nuneaton for a pointer as to how the country has voted.

Then again, if the polls are to be believed - something we should not take for granted - this may be so close that it goes right down to the wire and a result won't be declared until all of the votes have been counted. It will be like watching England play football. An injury time goal seals it for us. Edge of the seat stuff.

My prediction is that Leave is going to win. I think we are going to win and win well. Tomorrow morning we will be waking up to a new dawn, a new Britain. Independence Day.

Yes, the pound will take a dive and so will the stock markets, but they will bounce back. They will bounce back because the reality is that not very much will change, at least initially. The EU for all of its threats and bluster, will have to accommodate us. They will be forced to finally acknowledge that their project has run out of road on its present course and needs to change direction. It is what the people of Europe, not just of this country want. Britain leaving will be setting a new precedent, one that others will be keen to follow. We are not quitting, we are creating a new reality.

And by voting to Leave rather than the status quo option you might well bring about another revolution in this country. The vehemence and low tactics of David Cameron during this campaign including his panicky last minute press conference in Downing Street this week - all because he was too chicken to take part in the big debate - mean that he ought to resign. He may even be forced out. Voting to Leave may well hasten his departure. Think of that as a bonus factor.

Go out this morning, or any time until 10 tonight and Vote Leave. Not because you are a little Englander but because you are a Great Briton. Britain is a country on the cusp of history. Don't let the naysayers put you off. Vote for a future of independence, prosperity and democracy.

Minute Physics: Can We Predict Everything?

Travel Inside a Black Hole

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Peanuts


Freedom for Britain: Make Thursday Independence Day - Vote Leave




It was Emma Thompson, luvvie extraordinaire, who best summed up the smug, truculent, almost Pavlovian response of the usual suspects to the prospect of Britain leaving the EU. Leaving, she said, would be 'mad.' She described her homeland as a tiny little, cloud-bolted, rainy corner of sort-of Europe, a cake-filled, misery-laden grey old island. She was, of course, quoted approvingly by the Guardian.

But doesn't this typify the supposed argument of Remainers. It's not that far off from what David Cameron has been arguing, despite telling us earlier this year, before he had concluded his sham negotiation, that he might well recommend that we leave. He was then reduced to a Thompson style approach to arguing the opposite. Having told the nation that we must reform the EU because it was broken, hapless and unresponsive to our needs, he then told us that we must Remain or subject ourselves to being grey, rain soaked and incapable of affording even cake.

His latest argument, if it can be adequately described as such, is that Brits don't quit. This is actually a tacit acknowledgement that the EU is everything that we on the Leave side have been arguing. So what the prime minister is reduced to arguing is that yes it's broke, no we can't fix it, but we mustn't walk away because Brits don't do that sort of thing. Maybe it's all of the cake and rain that makes us that way.


The fact is that pro Eu-ers, the Remain side, have been utterly incapable of composing and enunciating a positive case for our remaining in the EU. And so they have been reduced to made up numbers, quoting supposed experts and running down Britain as if we are nothing but the grey little island that Thompson describes.

But as Cameron has accidentally acknowledged, we Brits are made of sterner stuff. If we vote to leave we will do very well because the world is a big place and Europe is a diminishing part of it while Britain has always been outward looking and more ambitious. The reason that Europe is a diminishing part of the world economy, the reason its economy is performing worse than any other continent on the planet other than Antarctica is because of the EU. The EU's instincts are towards protectionism, regulation and French style dirigisme. That is why the French economy is doing nearly as badly as the Italian. It's part of why the euro has been such a disaster. Why would we want to be shackled to this ongoing car crash?

There is nothing noble about staying in the EU and fighting to reform it when we know we will fail. This was our best chance of achieving lasting reform and Cameron came away with nothing. They had this referendum hanging over them and still the EU would give nothing away. Still, despite the very clear antagonism towards the project that is being displayed right across the continent and not just on this cake loving island, they refuse to change, refuse to dilute their ambitions.

And that is the real danger if we vote to remain. Forget about the dangers of leaving, those are short term and probably illusory. At worst we might suffer a short period of market instability, although even then it should give a welcome boost to our exporters, an advantage we would not have had if we had joined the euro as many recommended.



But if we vote to remain we are tied in. We will not have this opportunity again. Politicians will see to that. They made the mistake of granting us this referendum and there is quiet fury at Cameron.

If we vote to remain the Commission will take out its bulging file of projects marked 'wait until after the referendum' and we will complain and challenge as usual and then be outvoted once again. There will be more interference, more pointless regulation all designed to make us increasingly governed from Brussels - tied in to it irreversibly. There are plans for a European army, a fantastically dangerous proposal with no rationale other than the drive to make Europe into a state. This homogenising impulse, entirely at odds with the history of this diverse continent, is anathema to it. Yet for reasons that defy imagination, our fellow European nations, save for a few more sceptical fellow travellers, are enthusiastic about further integration - more Europe.

And this is why it will not be quitting if we leave, it will be deploying a different strategy to get change. We have tried being in the room. We have also successfully shown that our more sceptical approach is the more sensible one - just look at the euro. Britain has prospered outside of it, has greater economic flexibility and creates more jobs than the rest of Europe put together. Now we have to take this to its logical conclusion.

If Britain votes to leave on Thursday then it is entirely possible that, far from being locked out of Europe, we will bring the whole thing crashing down and then be able to build something more sustainable, less grandiose, more sensible and more efficient and cheap in its place. Others may well follow us and help us start this process.



Those of us who want to leave have adopted this stance after trying and failing to reform the EU from within. This blog advocated waiting to see what David Cameron managed to achieve in his renegotiation. Remember, the plan that Cameron had for this referendum was to have his sham renegotiation, then emerge from a marathon session with a new deal that he would then sell to the British people and emerge with a huge majority and hero status.

But then they gave him nothing. His deal was not worth the paper it was written on. Indeed much of it was noticeably unwritten, just nebulous promises for some far off future. Tony Blair did a similar kind of deal in return for giving up part of our rebate. They pocketed the cash and the reform to the CAP never came. That's what happens when you are in the room. Dave found that out.

Cameron achieved nothing and proved that the best and only way is to get out, to leave the room. Europe is constitutionally incapable of change and reform despite its manifest failings. Far from being the engine of growth and jobs, it is holding us and the entire continent back. Our success in recent years has been despite the EU, not because of it. It is why we are so confident that we will do well outside, trading with our current European partners but forging new bespoke trading partnerships we are currently prevented from creating because of our membership of this cartel.

Remain tell us that we need to cooperate with international partners. And so we do. But there is a world of difference between cooperation and subjugation and surrender. We will be voting to leave, not to quit. We will be voting to go forward confidently into the future, free to do what suits us best, an independent, proud nation with a proud history of cooperation but also of standing up for ourselves and refusing to be pushed around. It is this part of our national character that the prime minister chooses to ignore.

This is a vote that, according to the polls, is going to be tight. The polls could of course be wrong, I suspect they probably are. But don't take the risk. Turn out to vote and vote for a great British future. Vote Leave tomorrow. Make it our Independence Day.



Minute Physics: E=MC2 is Incomplete

Guns in Space

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Peanuts


It's Been a Dispiriting Campaign. But Here's Why Both Sides Had Little Choice




This will likely be the penultimate post I write about the referendum. Or at least the penultimate post until after the referendum after which I and everyone else will start writing about what happened, what happens next and why it all happened. We might even write about what a bloody awful campaign it was, why one side got it all so wrong and why the opinions polls were so wrong.

Actually, since the polls have given a decent lead to both sides in a two horse race they pretty much have all possibilities covered.

But perhaps they are right. As I start to wonder about what might happen on Thursday I am not making the same mistake as last year and believing in the polls. I am instead trusting my instincts. But that is no help either. Because my instincts are leading me in two different directions too.

Let me explain.

As you will have surmised by now: I am passionately, trenchantly and vehemently opposed to the EU. This is not to say that I am passionately, trenchantly and vehemently opposed to the continent of Europe, to our European cousins, even to the idea of a united Europe per se. I am merely passionately, trenchantly and vehemently opposed to the particular version of that dream become nightmarish reality in the hands of our fantastically useless political class.

But I do understand why some people buy into the dream. I do not understand why they persist in being so condescending about those of us who do not agree and persist in refusing to acknowledge that we have perfectly reasonable and honourable objections to the EU. Or at least that is the rhetoric they assume. The reality is that they are being wilfully disingenuous here. Because in the next breath they will acknowledge that the EU is flawed and in need of drastic reform. They then go on to argue that we will only get that reform 'by being in the room,' a stance that those of us on the opposite side regard as naive at best. But we regard them as being simply misguided. We do not call them names and regard them as malevolent.

But this is why I hesitate to trust my instincts. Because my instincts tell me that the British people, by a large majority, do not like or trust the EU and regard it with suspicion at best if not outright hostility. And yet at the same time, despite this, many will hold their noses on Thursday and will vote to Remain. They will do so not out of love for the EU, not out of love for its egalitarian dream. They will do because they fear the consequences of our leaving and because they have been convinced by the disingenuousness of the Remain side's arguments in favour of this dystopian absurdity made reality. In other words the cynicism of the Remain campaign will have won.

And I am not for a moment claiming that the Leave campaign has been any less cynical. They have fought cynicism with cynicism. Because the Remain side have only scaremongering cynicism for all of the reasons above. Think of their naked abuse of the rules, of that £9 million taxpayer funded propaganda leaflet, of the Treasury documents not worth the paper they are written on, on the coordinated propaganda from the Bank of England, CBI, business chiefs, IMF, OECD and even the President of the United States. Talk about protesting too much.

The question will be this Thursday to what extent the British people will have been listening to any of this and what they have tuned out of. Until a week ago, if you believed the polls, the answer seemed to be that they had tuned out of most of it. Then an MP died and suddenly that changed everything. It's an odd reason to change your mind about something, however much we were all appalled by the death of Jo Cox. This is why I don't necessarily know what to believe or trust.

Do general election campaigns make any difference? Probably not much. Most people reached their judgement about the different parties long before they voted and never shifted, whatever the polls said along the way. The same is likely to be true this Thursday. But that means that the Remain side's approach has largely been justified. They had to mount project fear because they know that the EU is loathed, or at least disliked by a majority of people in this country, much as it is starting to be loathed across large swathes of the whole continent of Europe.

What is true though is that this will be decided by turnout. If turnout is low then Leave will likely win because those of us who have been waiting for this moment our entire adult lives will turn out even if caught in the middle of another flash flood - a distinct possibility according to the weather forecast. If turnout is high it will be because the Remain side has convinced younger voters, who are more in favour of the idea of Europe, if not necessarily of the EU, to vote accordingly. Why are younger voters more in favour of Europe? It's nothing to do with the fact that they have always known life in the EU. So have I and I am not young. It's because younger voters tend to be more idealistic until life happens to them and they become more cynical/realistic.

And so, as we enter the last couple of days, this is what the campaigns have to concentrate on. In reality however that is what they have been doing all along. It's why the campaign has been so dispiriting. They are trying to convince the people who aren't convinced and don't really know how to vote. It's why Remain has tried to browbeat us with lots of so called experts and why Leave has fought back with talk about our money, our borders and our NHS. Oh and what do experts know anyway? On the last one I think we can all be agreed. We all only listen to experts when their expertise is not dissonant with our own prejudices.

The experts are agreed that nobody really knows what is going to happen this Thursday. I am optimistic but worried. My instincts say that Leave is going to win. In my last post tomorrow, I shall explain for the last time, and probably at quite some length, why I think you should vote Leave. For a sneak preview just watch my video above.

Minute Physics: The Origin of Quantum Mechanics

Will We Ever Run Out of New Music?

Monday, 20 June 2016

Peanuts


Democracy in this Referendum is About Listening to Everyone



And so, after a brief break while we mourned the death of someone who should not have died and while certain shameless people tried to make political capital out of it, we now enter the final furlong of this long race.

Life goes on as we all know. In politics it rarely stops, even when it makes a pretence of so doing. The insinuations of some in the Remain side, who sensed an opportunity this weekend, are beyond contemptible. Even those who kept quiet will no doubt have been having thoughts along similar lines. What does this mean for me? they will be thinking. Some of them may even have had the decency to feel guilty about it.

The answer is of course that it doesn't mean anything for this campaign. Or at least it shouldn't. I have sufficient faith in the good sense of the British people to be content that it will not. Indeed I have sufficient faith in the British people that they will see this as the latest desperate moves by an increasingly frantic and panic stricken Remain campaign that has threatened pensioners and even world war 3.

Now a senseless murder at the hands of a damaged man who has somehow drawn inspiration from any number of influences we will probably never fully know let alone understand is no excuse for what some have been saying and writing. He is not even a fascist in any true sense of the word, just someone who was ill and in need of help and tragically failed to get it. We cannot even justifiably blame this on the failure of the NHS to give him mental health treatment. Psychology and psychiatry are not the joined up coherent sciences they claim to be. If they were they would be better able to predict the mental decline of people like Thomas Mair. He has not been recruited by anybody or exhorted to do anything other than by the voices in his head.

Let's be clear, those who are claiming otherwise are guilty once again of the kind of shameless thought crime creation that has given rise to public anger in the first place and creates the kind of environment that leads to the rise of far right parties they so despise. When you refuse to talk about things it creates a political vacuum. Indeed it led to the rise of Ukip in this country and that poster that has so exercised everyone this weekend. I have no intention of defending that poster. It was tasteless at best. But to claim that it was like Nazi propaganda as George Osborne claimed is absurd. Indeed that kind of language is part of the problem.

We cannot brush the immigration issue under the carpet. People are concerned and worried about it. That makes it an issue. Furthermore their worries are not racist. They are reasonable and couched in reasonable language and terms. Conflating the death of a woman at the hands of a wannabe fascist with the reasonable and sensible worries of people at the bottom of the social scale is every bit as intolerant and unpleasant as that Ukip poster these prigs condemn and look down on. How dare they?

I would not defend everything that the Leave side have said or done during this campaign. I think some of the referendum broadcasts have been embarrassing and at times more like a Chris Morris pastiche. I would not defend that Ukip poster. But I defend the right of people to say things that some find offensive. I defend the right of people to talk about things that Guardian writers and Labour politicians find uncomfortable if only because they might put them on the losing side in this referendum. This campaign has not always been conducted in the most wholesome or honest way. On either side. That George Osborne has the temerity to complain is worthy of a satire all of its own. Let us hope that the behaviour of Osborne during these last few weeks finally seals his fate as a would be leader of his party.

Jo Cox did not die for democracy last week. She shouldn't have died at all and I'm sure that, though she knew there were people out there who disliked her, she felt little fear that she inspired true hatred. In truth she died because one madman, a madman who couldn't afford a train fare to anywhere where the targets were more high profile, singled her out. But Jo Cox would die in vain if it allowed certain elements in this campaign to use her death to close down a much needed debate on immigration and the public's concerns with it. If she died for anything then surely she, an elected MP, died for democracy, accountability and talking about things rather than resorting to violence?

Last week, as the Remain side surveyed the opinion polls, they started to fight amongst themselves. Some tried half heartedly to talk about immigration but only in a way that showed how little they wanted to. Gordon Brown's pathetic intervention was a classic of the genre, but then he was just the worst of a bad bunch.

And then Jo Cox was murdered. The subject was changed. Add in an unhealthy dose of hypocrisy, a pinch of sanctimony and Chauncey giving his best look at me aren't I humble display of faux sincerity and you had this weekend in all of its nausea inducing superciliousness. And once again working class people - that's proper working class people and not members of the Labour Party - could be safely ignored.

As it happens this blogger does not consider that immigration is the number one reason why we should vote to leave this Thursday. I am more concerned with constitutional and legal issues, with sovereignty and democracy and accountability. But immigration is a part of the sovereignty and accountability issue. It is a real issue, something that people understand. That is why the Leave campaign has concentrated on it. That is not racism. It is not intolerance. It is certainly not fascism. It is something that concerns the people who send the likes of Jo Cox to Westminster. She was said to be someone who listened to and had time for everyone. Wouldn't it be nice if those seeking to capitalise on her death in this unseemly way would do the same?