The Snow In The Summer or So-So

Knowledge is liberation


leedargue: Applause as Guy Verhofstadt says finally EU can get rid of the biggest waste of spending - the 17-year salary of Farage #

18 July 2016
What is a referendum good for?

Danny Finkelstein argues that it was right to have a referendum discussion about Europe. This blog agrees with the debate, but not with having the plebiscite.

Lord Finklestein is correct to trace the debate back to Brown's weak government, and back further to Blair's rash promise. We thought at the time that this was a fool's errand, done for cheap and dirty tactical reasons.

While reviewing the history, and confirming that it wasn't Angus Deayton who caused this mess, we were reminded that Blair had taken his eye off the ball in early 2004. Iraq was going badly, Dr. Brown was plotting, the press was turning against him.

And there had been a "family emergency". We agree that this need not be reported, but it leaves us in a bind. Blair's mind was not on the job, his judgement was shaken, and we have to obfuscate the reason why. Had that "family emergency" not happened..... sheesh, that's a massive burden.

Onwards. Danny notes, It was simply right to ask people whether they assented and This was a reasonable way to make a difficult decision and A referendum is the right way to decide a narrow constitutional question, but not to determine broader national policy. These three statements cannot co-exist.

People have indicated their assent by consistently voting for European parties. Labour '83 was an exit party, its position was soundly rejected. Other, more marginal, parties never came within a mile of government. So we don't agree that people haven't been asked for their assent.

Was it a reasonable way to make a difficult decision? For now, let's assume it was.

Was the European position really a narrow constitutional question? We simply don't agree: it has become entwined in all sorts of policy. Trade policy, migration policy, culture, economics, defence, the works. The European position was broad policy. The efforts to change it have effects everywhere else.

This is a big question, one that requires the positive assent of the people. The people have not given their positive assent to any such policy. And, to be fair, Danny Finkelstein argues himself out of this position.

So no, we don't agree with Danny Finkelstein: the referendum vote was not a sound method to make such a big decision.

Offer a policy programme based on exit, and let the people have an informed discussion. There's a method for that kind of thing, it's called a general election.

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16 July 2016
Now That's What I Call A Topper

danielpeake: A couple of music facts: There have only been 6 number 1 singles in the UK this year.

Don't agree. By comparing apples with apples (sales and sales only), we see a longer list.

Of course, if you include streams and other forms of airplay in your calculations, you'll get different answers.

This isn't just a wanky "sales are better than streams" argument. Serious people are asking serious questions about how the OCCCC makes up the charts. Do 100 streams really equate to one sale? Do playlists "curated" by record companies really count as genuine consumer plays? Christopher Price of Radio 1 came out this week as saying the OCCCC might be ballsing it up, and we've never seen Radio 1 barrack for change before.

There's also a point that the OCCCC / Radio 1 chart is pretty obscure these days: Radio 1 and the CBBC channel on Friday evening, exposure to half a million people. Independent Radio's Big Top 40 show gets a much larger audience, and it's compiled from sales alone. The public is more likely to pay attention to the sales chart than the OCCCC's effort, and that undermines any claim to be "official".

danielpeake: Now 94 will have no no.1 singles on it.

Points at Jonas Blue, the current number one. Points at tracks 1, 2, 3, the last three number ones. Even on the OCCCC lists, Calum Scott and Dua Lipa might yet spin up the listings.

danielpeake (Now 16 also had no no.1 singles on it, but that was due to licensing things, I think)

Now 16 came out in November 1989, and covers songs released from July to October 1989. Sonia, Blackbox, and two from the Jive Bunny had topped the chart since Now 15 was compiled.

But Stock/Aitken/Waterman didn't license their PWL records for Now 16 - the only S/A/W work is from Cliff Richard and Big Fun, both on other labels. Blackbox had copyright problems so that the radio edit wasn't available to be licensed. Jive Bunny had worked hard to license their oldies and didn't have time to re-license for compilations. All of these were sensible positions, the result was no chart-toppers on Now 16.

... except for viewers in Scotland. Blackbox never reached number 1 (something like nine weeks at number 2 or 3, and the year's biggest seller). Scottish chart-toppers Right here waiting and Sweet surrender appear on CD1, with Pump up the jam on CD2.

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12 July 2016
You broke it, you fix it

Daniel Hannan (C, The Dole Queue) wrote:

On what basis do Remainers deny the legitimacy of the ballot?

There are 18 million Remain voters, with at least 18 million different answers to that question.

This blog speaks for itself; we do not pretend to speak for 18 million others. Nor do we speak for those 21 million EU citizens who were disenfranchised by Westphalian edict or by age.

The point, quite simply, is that Hannan pretends not to understand democracy. Democracy is a process, a never-ending dialogue between the people. Democracy does not end with a mark on a slip of paper.

Hannan witters on about claims made during the campaign. He fails to discuss any of the claims made by his side. Hannan, you personally owe the NHS £1000 million. Where do we send the invoice?

The top concern for Leavers was very clearly sovereignty.

No it wasn't. The top concern for leavers was immigration. Keep the darkies out. Wind the clock back to 1950.

Leave gave an excuse for people to be racist without appearing racist. It's regrettable that so many people took that opportunity. It's scandalous that facilitators such as Hannan will not accept the poison they've pushed into society.

That conversation canít begin, though, until Remain voters accept the verdict of the urns. Britain is leaving the EU. The question now is how to leave on terms that are cordial and advantageous to both sides. Come, Remainers: work with us on this.

No. No. No.

You never accepted the result in 1975. You never accepted the verdict of the masses then. You preened and presented yourself as better than the people. You lied and lied and lied.

You do not represent us.

Turnabout is fair play. You have never worked with us, we give you no mandate to ruin us, so do not pretend you negotiate for us.

We will not work with you. We will obstruct your plans at every possible turn, by every reasonable means.

Prepare to be very frustrated, Daniel Hannan.

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9 July 2016
How I Could Just Hear A Man

About a month ago, there was criticism of "RadioX". This station is owned by Global. It used to be the home of fresh alternative music, but changed last September to "blokes with guitars".

Stella Creasey (Labour, Walthamstow), noted that Radiox didn't promote its women presenters. Chris Baughen (music director at Radiox) didn't address Creasey's points, but indulged in ad hominem attacks.

(More: Recapping the argument between Creasey and Baugher. Then we bring in some facts, and compare against another alternative station.)

Radiox is the sound of Wetherspoons, bland and unoriginal and the proprietor is dodgy and we just know we can do better.

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5 July 2016
Our homeland is online
  1. Tumblr: shaping the next generation of teenagers. Chris Priestman's interview with Danielle Strle doesn't live up to the headline, but it does live up to the subhead: our homeland is online.

  2. The peculiarities of Icelandic naming, from the Wall Street Journal International. We all know about the -son and -dottir, but didn't know this: one can be the mother's son, Thor Björkson.

  3. David Hirsh on the Livingstone formulation, a particularly noxious confirmation of claims that someone's being anti-semitic.

    The Livingstone Formulation is a refusal to regard antisemitism as an objective social phenomenon and it is a refusal to enter into reasoned discussion about what constitutes antisemitism. It is a counter-accusation of bad faith.

    It constructs and enforces the boundaries of the community of the good by the ad hominem attack, the conflation of everything into 'criticism' and the refusal even to consider the possibility of antisemitism within the community of the progressive. By its accusation of silencing it silences; by its accusation of bad faith it refuses a hearing.

    Hirsh goes on to suggest that it's an example of how the far left prefers to isolate its critics, rather than convince them by argument and logic. Why bother with facts when they can appeal to emotions. Good job the isolationist right never got wind of that idea, who knows what they could do with fears?

  4. And back to Europe. Parsing Phase has a tale of two leaders, some comedy.

  5. Brussels to Berlin asks what are the options now?

  6. Fintan O'Toole has a scathing excorication of Michael Gove based on an old pamphlet about the Belfast Agreement. Yes, it's necessary for PM candidates to be clear on whether they support the Northern Ireland peace settlement. But do people still hold the same positions today as they did in the year 2000?

  7. Media Diversified wants BBC to stop giving uncritical coverage to fascists. Where does it stop: calling out Niggle Farridge on his dogwhistle nazi poster?

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2 July 2016
America's Greatest Hits
Every Saturday Paul Gambaccini plays current US records from the week's Billboard charts, alongside American hits from the last four decades (picking songs from a variety of charts - the Hot 100 Singles, Albums, Adult Contemporary, R'n'B and Country listings). He also highlights past American No.1 singles and albums, Grammy Award winners, and acclaimed records that were huge hits in the States but failed to even enter the UK charts. This is ninety minutes of America's latest and greatest.

America's Greatest Hits began in April 1998, and finishes tonight. The show had a simple principle: here are some records, all of them were or are hits in America. The genius came from Gambo's ability to programme the show, and the tales of wonder he told around the records.

What we've got here is a personal collection, the way we'll remember America's Greatest Hits as it was on Radio 2, in the format of how it would go out tonight. Apart from the current hits, all of the songs are ones we first heard on AGH and remember with fondness.

(More: How we'll remember the show)

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30 June 2016
When britain broke itself...

Right, the final set of notes on where britain has got itself.

  1. No, I will not 'keep calm and move on' writes Jonathan Langley in Christian Today.

    Have we in the Remain camp received so much as a "U alrite, hun? Xxx?" Nope. We've got the equivalent of "Geez, you got divorced yesterday, aren't you over this yet?" Worse, we've also got: "Yes, I know your partner cheated on you, but what are you going to do to reduce the national divorce rate?"

    I didn't cause the problems that will flow from Brexit. I tried to avoid them. Perhaps you should be asking that of the people currently rejoicing about the result. What I will say is that I make no apology for expressing anger, lamentation and naming sin as sin where I see it.

    Disagree with my analysis? Be my guest. But tell me it is inappropriate to do so and I will point you to Scripture, starting with the Psalms and the prophets and finishing with Jesus and tell you that you are wrong. David calls for the death of his enemies. The prophets pick political sides sometimes and Jesus comes to bring a sword, not some vague concept of 'unity' that effectively means pretending we all agree.

    Calling for people to moderate their anger and sadness to avoid a descent into dangerous or hateful divisiveness is fine. But doing so in a way that suggests that we should simply not express our disagreement, difference or dissent is ludicrous. And it is socially and psychologically (not to mention philosophically) unhealthy to expect resignation and warm acceptance too soon.

    I think the referendum result was an appalling mistake. I think it will have terrible consequences and I think it was largely motivated by (and will increase the boldness of) some of the least righteous prejudices in the human heart.

  2. Some things we've not got to considering.

    alexhern: Something that's underassessed: to what extent is the success of flat-out lying in politics an artefact of the social media age?

    TheMediaTweets: I can't help thinking if Angus Deayton had kept his job on Have I Got News For You, UK politics would be in a far healthier place right now.

    Alan Bennett: the impression an audience comes away with is that actually nothing much matters and that these seemingly jokey demagogues are human and harmless and that their opinions are not really as pernicious as their opponents pretend. And even if they are what does it matter as politics is just a con anyway. Whereas Johnson, the bike apart, doesn't seem to have a moral bone in his body and the batrachoidal Farage likewise. 'So where's your sense of humour? Itís only a joke.'

  3. So, can we address the Westphalian fallacy? The nation state is not natural, it's not inevitable. It's artificial, it's political, humanity can do away with it in a trice. Observaterry envisions one possible future, lines drawn in shifting sands.

    Instead of arbitrary lines drawn across the land, or along old river courses, perhaps the future will see further development of networks of economic hubs and hinterlands. Hubs and hinterlands would operate by very different rules and assumptions, with only glancing acquaintance with each other - much as the 'super-wealthy' with the rest of us perhaps?

    Those who operate in the world of the hubs value things like accurate information, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement. Those in the hinterlands (perhaps less informed than in the hubs) just want to live their lives untroubled and uninterrupted by things they find to be uncomfortable, remote and counter-intuitive (hence the dismissal of 'experts'). The hubs drive change; the hinterlands follow at their own pace.

    It's the next phase of the transition from agrarian to industrial to post-industrial society; the eternal tensions between town and country; the self-selection of socially-liberal types tending to move to cities while 'traditional' authoritarian folk stay behind.

  4. The Westphalian entity known as "the united kingdom" may survive, and may remain in the EU. Suppose it does. Suppose that calmer heads prevail, that the will of the inhabitants is "er, can we have a reset?" What is irrevocably lost? What has already been sacrificed? (And can we concentrate on what the next contributor did write, and not his illiberal homophobic attitudes?)

    Stephen Crabb talks about One Nation Conservatism.

    In 2016 we should be living in a golden age of social mobility. The truth is, we are not.

    Compared to competitor nations we have persistently low levels of social mobility. And the challenge is not just to get a few more comprehensive school kids into elite grade universities or professions. Itís more fundamental than that: re-creating a positive cycle of aspiration, opportunity and outcomes in the poorest communities.

    David Cameron spotted this challenge early on and his speech to party conference last year set down the challenge. He understood compassionate conservatism long before the phrase gained currency and the work he has led on a new cross-government life chances strategy to smash down barriers of disadvantage is of huge importance. Getting this right must remain a core challenge for government in the months and years ahead.

    In education, for example, the remarkable turnaround over the last decade in London schools needs to be replicated in other areas where standards have corroded. The challenge simply is to end the scandal of so many kids on free school meals, especially white working class boys, not being able to read and write at the age of 11.

    This has already gone. Aspiration. Endeavour. Changing structures so that they're a framework for people, rather than constraining people within structures. The very reason why we could give lukewarm support to a Cameron government: he had his heart in the right place.

    Cameron knew his background. Even before it was fashionable, Cameron would check his privilege.

    In his own imperfect way, he had a vision to improve the lot of a lot of people. He earned a mandate to make things a little bit better for a lot of people, and was beginning to put it into action. Events - primarily the woeful mismanagement of Gordon Brown - made progress slower than it should have been.

    Crabb is talking the One Nation words, but we have problems with his extreme Christian views. Michael Gove we think is another One Nation person, we know that he's got a superlative grasp of detail, but he's wrong on the isolation shit. Theresa May was on the right part of that argument, but wrong or flip-floppy on so many other things. Andrea Ledsom is both too early and too late, and Disgraced Former Minister Liam Fox is also running.

    The fundamental point: it doesn't matter who comes next. The new PM is going to have to spend so much energy clearing up Farridge-and-Johnson's poison. It's a full-time job, and the domestic agenda will suffer. The eye won't be on the ball.

    The people had a choice, last week. Tell the government to keep up their efforts to sort out domestic problems. Or squander energy and talent on the impossible dream of petty nationalism. The people who were going to be helped, they turned around and said "go away, we're more comfortable in the past. We want to wallow in our self-pity."

    It's ever so tempting to say, "fine, you want to waste your lives, that's your call. Just, like, don't come to the progressive part of society for help."

    We would hope to be better than that.

    We're not sure that we can be better than that.

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29 June 2016
Destination data?

Are we nearing a path forward? Perhaps. Do we accept exit? No fucking way.

  1. Shut up with your racist bullshit.

    Their concerns are myth and nonsense and yet we are told to understand them. We're not allowed to dismiss it as small-minded, ignorant, and fictitious. We have to 'listen', we have to 'comprehend'. We have to say that it's not racist to talk about immigration. But it's not a debate they want. They get that all the time. What they want is to be able to drone on and on about immigration without anyone pointing out they're wrong.

  2. Jeff Lynn (businessperson) writes A Note to My Friends Who Voted Leave. With a warning.

    if Brexit turns out to damage the country in the long run, you will be held to account... It's as if you decided to attack France in 1827 because of the threat posed by Napoleon.

  3. MTV News speaks of the wisdom of britain's young voters.

    Sometimes, though, kids need to stay with Mom and Dad to make sure their parents don't burn down the very home they stand to inherit.

    What we have in Britain is older voters equating their nationalism with privilege, seeking to consolidate and guard their birthrights of whiteness from the immigrant hordes. But the sad irony is that last Thursday, they set Britain on a course that will make that privilege worth a lot less in the outside world.

  4. Gregg Easterbrook made an ill-considered microblog:

    EasterbrookG: MSM hyperventilating re Brexit: "crisis, turmoil, collapse, meltdown." Most Britons won't experience any change!

    We decided not to send a mini-essay back.

    Apart from the *thousands* - including your fellow Americans - who have experienced racist abuse these past few days. The ERASMUS programme of university education ended. And academic funding being denied. And Jo Cox MP is still dead.

    I want to be safe walking the streets of my city. I want options for study. I want a sniff of optimism for the future. Social cohesion is gone.

    We are *all* being dragged into a change we do not want, and we notice it already.

  5. SimonTilford wrote a memo to #Brexiters.

    You have to stop demanding the country pull together and make the best of it.

    You did not 'pull together' when we were in the EU, despite the clear benefits of membership. How can you then demand that the other side now pull together and make the most of a situation that is so damaging to our country?

    You agitated for 25 years to get us out of the EU, finally succeeding in by being very dishonest with the electorate. You knew we couldn't have unimpeded access to the Single Market without freedom of movement, but led our voters to believe otherwise.

    Your leaders have already confessed that they were dishonest. Aside from UKIP they know we can't leave the Single Market. Outside the EU that means EEA, so fax democracy. EU membership was far superior, but we no longer have that option thanks to you.

    So please stop criticising others for pointing to the mess youíve landed Britain in. It's on you, not bitter Remainers & 'liberal media'. There will be no moving on.

    You will be held to account for the damage you've inflicted on the country and the rest of Europe.

Probably one more day of this, then something different.

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