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 #

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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28 June 2016
Views from abroad

Some overseas views...

  1. ABC Australia considers the ethics. A much longer essay concludes with this call to arms.

    Perhaps this contraceptive defence of the EU is insufficiently inspiring. Perhaps what we need at the moment is a more full-throated defence, not merely of the EU - an unlovely institution, even for its defenders - but of the very idea of European integration. One of the many depressing features of the Brexit debate is the relative silence of liberals in the Labour Party willing to defend the European Project. There is no descendant of Roy Jenkins, the reforming liberal defender of individual rights, the advocate of a Britain at the centre of Europe, the proponent of a Europe at the centre of global politics.

    This observation takes us back to a point made at the start of this essay. There remains a deep ideological divide between liberals and socialists in the Party. At the moment, the socialists - under their eurosceptic leader Jeremy Corbyn - are in the ascendency. Above and beyond their advocacy of Remain, the liberals have been reluctant to speak up and defend the project of European integration.

    If they were to get over their reticence, this is what they could say. The aim of the EU is to nobble the nationalists who have caused so much trouble in Europe's recent past. Europe at its best contains a commitment to the Enlightenment values of individuality, creativity and scepticism. These values are currently under threat, whether from Putin's Russia, Erdogan's Turkey or - perish the thought - Trump's America.

  2. The Irish Times asked for writers' response. Sum up the broad consensus.

    The right and far right's great triumph has been persuading the poor and dispossessed to begin savaging each other. The left's great failure has been not pushing itself in between.
    —Eimear McBride

    Boris Johnson, in particular, deserves enormous opprobrium. This is a man sacked by both the Times and Michael Howard for mendacity, and he was a clear Europhile until he calculated that leading the Leave campaign would bolster his prime ministerial credentials against Osborne, automatically gaining him the Eurosceptic wing of the party. He was also obviously betting on a Remain win. He looks now like a fat kid who's lost his balloon.
    —Nick Laird

  3. Still in the Irish Times, the historian Cathryn Costello was scathing about the Little England mirage.

    One of the founders of European integration, Henri Spaak, is said to have described Europe as made up of small states, and some that realise they are small. Smaller states understand that they give up some formal autonomy, and gain greater influence. That understanding has never resonated here in England. Nor have the costs of borders and boundaries, which are stark in living memory on the island of Ireland, and the European continental mainland.

  4. Across the corridor at the Irish Independent, Colette Browne comes out with all guns blazing.

    Not that anyone in the Brexit camp seems to care very much about the fact that the country is currently self-immolating and no one has stepped forward with a fire extinguisher.

    Johnson's great plan is a fantasy, a dream that has no chance of ever being realised.

    Once their deception of the British people becomes fully apparent to those who trusted them with their votes, in my view, Brexiteers will rightly be recognised as national saboteurs, not saviours.

  5. Theo Hobson in the Spectator claims Brexit wasn't a defeat for love. His argument is built on a myth.

    Perhaps the most important pundit to have emerged from the earthquake is Giles Fraser. As a left-wing vicar and longstanding anti-racism campaigner, he makes it harder for people to depict the Brexiters as closet racists. He disrupts the defeated Remainersí assumption that they represent progressive values, humanism. On last nightís Question Time, Fraser quoted Galatians (one of the readings in churches yesterday): Love your neighbour as yourself. We need to get beyond our current divisions, and trust in this supra-political principle, he said.

    Hobson believes in the myth that claiming to know his god makes someone correct.

    So when will Giles Fraser start to love humanity? Love knows no borders, Fraser puts forward hatred.

    When will Fraser trust in something bigger than himself? Europe is bigger than any of these "nation-states".

    Giles Fraser is not a racist.

    Giles Fraser is a hypocrite, he does not practice what he preaches. This disqualifies you from further consideration, especially when your job is "preacher"...

  6. And finally, here's what Laurie Penny wrote. I want my country back.

    I want to wake up tomorrow in a country where people are kind, and tolerant, and decent to one another. A country where we are polite to our neighbors.

    A country where we have dealt like adults with the embarrassing fact that we once conquered half the world, instead of yearning for a time when our glory was stolen from enslaved people a convenient ocean away and large parts of the map were the gentle pink of blood in the water.

    I want to go back to a Britain where hope conquers hate; where crabbed, cowed racism and xenophobia donít win the day; where people feel they have options and choices in life and are less likely to press the big red button to bring the house down on top of us.

    I want my country back.

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27 June 2016
Cries from the heart and head
  1. John Brassey has a cry from the heart Nobody likes a bad loser. I don't care

  2. Andrew Drucker has a piece from the head Some thoughts on the people who voted #Leave.

    And the problem is that nobody ever told them the truth. Nobody ever said that if we wanted Europe to be a success then everyone would have to pay for it, and that would mean us paying more than we got back - but it would be worth it for the peace and the possibilities it opened up. Instead we were told that everything we did would benefit us directly.
  3. Indy Voices has Our voting system needs to change, but completely misses the point. A hell of a lot of people cast "protest votes", because they're accustomed to their vote not counting.

    This blog grew up in a safe Conservative area; had we remained there, our vote would never have made a difference at Westminster or councils. It's the same for blogs in Crater Manchester, where every seat is Labour.

    Electronic voting (which doesn't seem to work) and votes at 16 (which seems to work in Scotland) are one ideas. We're sad that the Independent doesn't advocate making every vote count; some form of proportional representation is as essential today as it was last week.

  4. Andrew Neil wrote,

    Project Fear now wholly-owned subsidiary of pro-Remain media. Seem almost desperate for Leave to fail. Gloomy spin on everything.

    We have never believed him to be an honest broker, and it's now clear that Neil is congenitally incapable of reporting on an objective fact. We insist that the BBC confine him to pieces clearly labelled as opinion.

  5. Alistair C McGregor (LD, Calder Valley) wrote a blog, and published it across many microblogs. Someone [cough, Mat GB] might help him to do it properly. Here's what Alistair wrote...

    So, thinking about the current constitutional crisis (which, let's face it, is what we're in right now). First, let's lay out the facts.

    Parliament is sovereign. Not only is this a general truth, it's especially so in the case of the EU referendum, which was explicitly designed only to be advisory, non-binding and have no automatic effects.

    However: it isn't Parliament that has to notify the EU of an intent to trigger Article 50. It's the Government.

    Side note: the difference between Parliament and Government is a bit blurred in the British political system. The Government can't trigger Article 50 without a further act of Parliament.

    Article 50 requires the trigger notification to be done constitutionally within the member states own framework. Thus, because the referendum was explicitly non-binding, the EU would reject any attempt at notifying them of an application under article 50 that hasn't passed Parliament.

    The Government isn't going to put any such motion to the house if Cameron's in charge. Nor will Labour. At least under their present leaders. That leaves either a change of Leader, or a backbencher with one of the various ways they can try to put forward legislation. However, it's next to impossible to get this Parliament to agree to that.

    So that leaves a government that doesn't want to do it and. Parliament that won't let them.

    The prospect of a General Election, and why that might or might not happen.

    First, understand the Fixed Term Parliament Act. Either 2/3rds of the house needs to vote from it, or the existing government be subject to a vote of no-confidence & no alternative formed within a fortnight.

    Important to note here that cross-party working is required for the first one to happen. That's very unlikely, to say the least.

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25 June 2016
How Wrong Can You Be?

This morning, Piers Morgan posted a microblog. It took our breath away.

Let's unpack how wrong you can be in 140 characters or less.

Piers Morgan: Right, get a grip Britain. We've taken the plunge, now we have to make it work. Stop the wailing, have a pint, be positive.

- Assumes the Westphalian settlement is still relevant.
- Believes in "nations" and "states" and other artificial boundaries.
- "Borders" are bollocks.
- We are all human. Even Piers Morgan.

*We've taken the plunge
- Don't "we" me.
- Democracy is a process of debate, not just a vote.
- This result does not have my informed consent.
- This result does not have my implicit consent
- In this endeavour, the government does not act in my name, and i'd be very grateful if it didn't pretend to.

*make it work
- But it cannot work. The future is happening, you cannot wind the clock back.
- Wisdom is knowing when not to take on a task because it is impossible. Exiters lack wisdom.

*Stop the wailing
- We'll express our rage how we damn well want. It's offensive when you police reactions, Piers.
-- And we may be more coherent than "wow, just wow" (Piers Morgan, TVAM, 7am yesterday)
- The exiters have lied and lied and lied and lied and lied.
- Over many years, they have made myths and built bullshit stories.
- They have not been challenged in their lies.
-- Slipshod publications (including those edited by Piers Morgan) have repeated those lies.
-- Campaigns (and OFCOM) assume that the opposition is fundamentally honest. "The honourable gentlemen opposite".
-- The exiters took cynical advantage, and broadcasters weren't allowed to challenge the many and repeated lies.

*Be positive
- What is there to be positive about?
- The future has been stolen. Pilfered. Nicked. Just so that the boomers can live their decline in the way they want.
- The exiters have built a prison of their own making, they can go live there.
-- I refuse to join them in their prison.
- The generation that had it all is hoarding it all
-- The end of inter-generational solidarity

That was an analysis of the many and varied ways Piers Morgan can be wrong in one microblog. We may return to some of the themes in the coming weeks.

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21 June 2016
Arguments to leave the EU

Let us walk a mile in other people's shoes. In this case, let's listen to people who want the UK to leave the EU.

We see five distinct strands of argument. None of these arguments holds any water.

And we must caution that this this article treats Enoch Powell and Margaret Thatcher with some respect. Reader, if you find this offensive, tough.

(Anti-capitalism, the constitutional legacy of Enoch Powell, free-traders, the legacy of Margaret Thatcher, and racists.)

In conclusion

This isn't a battle about Europe. It's a battle of generations.

By and large, anti-Europe feeling is confined to the older generation. It's those who were just too young to vote in 1975. It's those who could vote but weren't paying attention in 1975. It's those who are still sore that The Blessed Margaret was removed by MPs. The anti-Europe voters are literally dying off. If they can't get "leave" this year, there will never be another majority.

Leave does not have a sensible argument. It is not making an anti-capitalist argument. The constitutionalist arguments are such bollocks that even Enoch Powell did not believe them. The sore about Thatcher is becoming ancestor-worship. The free marketeers fail to follow their arguments through to any logical conclusion. Much of the talk is racist. Much of the talk is deliberately wrong. Some appears to incite violence.

Leave have not put forward any convincing arguments. They have not put forward any novel arguments. Leave have put forward plenty of racist propaganda, but Britain remains better than that.

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8 June 2016
Another Europe Is Possible

Too long can't be arsed to read? Jamie S Green summarises the arguments.

There is a relatively small group on the left - largely made up of fringe Trots, Tankies and Bennites - who are campaigning to leave. Their argument hinges on the fact that the EU is a 'capitalist club' and a vehicle for neo-liberal ideas. As true as that may be, I find this analysis a bit shallow.

There are some pretty negative aspects of the EU, such as its unelected Executive branch, its abhorrent treatment of the Greek people and their democracy, as well as its obsession with driving free-market economic policies [...]

Anyone whose politics lie on the radical left should be in favour of international co-operation - just like the bosses in Europe have done away with borders when it comes to trade, the left needs to fight for ordinary people in the same way. This brings me to the point of the Europe we need to fight for: Rather than just focusing on trade, we need a truly democratic Europe that works in the favour of workers.

So we went to the political meeting last Wednesday evening. It was a strange event, we had a rollercoaster of emotions during it.

(More: Our notes on Caroline Lucas, Salma Yaqoob, Matt Wrack, and Neal Lawson. And observations from the floor.)

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2 June 2016
Ctrl-Alt-Delete, and Reclaim the Internet

You wait all month for a campaign to address online abuse, then two come along at once.

The Women's Equality Party were first up, with #CtrlAltDelete. The initial focus is on "revenge porn", posting explicit content to shame an ex-lover.

The change? Require consent from all involved to post these explicit bits. The existing law - passed in 2014 - has been interpreted as requiring the poster to cause distress. It may be possible to handle this change within the existing legislation, or by a relatively minor amendment.

WEP also propose that victims are entitled to compensation, both from the poster and from any other sites that refused to take down the explicit content. This would surely require legislation.

WEP intends their proposals will alter behaviour. They believe that the changes above would set high standards, and change the narrative about what the real community standards are. Too often, websites such as The Facebook will use their "community standards" as cover to allow egregious behaviour.

The final plank is sex and relationships education in schools. For reasons that aren't clear, the education secretary has made it possible for schools to not teach sex and relationships.

Other parts of the WEP platform would increase the number of women in technology and in the police, so neither discipline is as blokey as at present.

The SNP and Plaid moved right behind this campaign, the Lib Dems will back the changes through parliament. Between them, these parties command 10% of both Commons and Lords, enough of a minority to demand an audience.

More: Cheryl Morgan | New Statesman | Torygraph

#CtrlAltDelete is a modest proposal. Most of its aims can be achieved by ministerial fiat, they're not calling for major new laws. This blog is not entirely convinced that the proposed changes to "revenge porn" will alter people's behaviour, but the gains from doing so appear greater than the cost of taking no action.

If only we could say the same about Harriet Harman's claim to the interwebs. Hers is a clear spoiler against WEP's campaign, timed to cause confusion and dilute efforts.

Harman's effort starts with an eye-catching statistic. Unfortunately, it appears to be bunkum. We're going to caveat the remarkable claim a bit.

50% of tweets, gathered during a particular and unrepresentative timeframe, that contained particular words, and that an unknown algorithm has determined were "aggressive", were sent by accounts that another unknown algorithm has determined were "female".

Harman's campaign is built around such eye candy. She proposes a "major conference", and claims that it's going to "start the conversation". Start? C'mon, this conversation has been going on since the last century, it's only now that Harman cares to see what's going on.

Harman's campaign is long on waffle, short on concrete proposals. In itself, that's no bad thing; we learned from Occupy that society changes most easily from a broad consensus.

But this is Harriet Harman, this is Labour. Labour has a reputation for being entirely illiberal, and there are already fears that it's the same old control-freak Labour. Will it be censorship? A demand for real names? Real human input?

#CtrlAltDelete has clear aims. One - perhaps two - requires primary legislation, and education for the future is embedded. Harman's effort is much more nebulous, and appears to be built from junk science.

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1 June 2016
31 Yays in May 2016

Every day through May, an item that made us go "yay!"

(More: All of the 31 things to cheer us up.)

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