There’s been quite a lot of comment around the last few days saying that May had the right idea a while ago when she said that ‘No Deal was better than a bad deal’, but that she’s now made the mistake of going back on that. For example, Ross Clark says:
At first, she seemed to have the right idea. In her Lancaster House speech of January 2017 she announced her intention to seek a free trade deal with the EU – rather than membership of the single market and customs union – and stated very clearly that “no deal is better than a bad deal”. She understood, so it seemed, that in order to get a good deal out of the EU it was necessary to make it clear that the government was serious about walking away from the negotiating table.
But it was obvious at the time that May was lying about that. It was obvious, at least to the EU negotiators if not to the British commentariat, that she was frightened to death of No Deal, and would do literally anything to avoid it. The fact that the government never undertook any serious preparation for a No Deal exit made it even more obvious that May would sign whatever the EU wanted her to sign, because having ruled out No Deal she had no alternative, and the EU knew it.
So she didn’t ‘inexplicably’ change her tactics. She had the same tactic all along, and lied through her teeth all along.
The other wrong idea that’s getting a new outing is the idea that we should have waited further to trigger Article 50. Dan Hannan has pushed this utterly mistaken idea for two years now, and he’s doing it again:
Every time Theresa May had to make a choice on Brexit, she picked the wrong option. There was the premature triggering of Article 50 – not only before she had carried out contingency preparations for no deal but, unbelievably, before she had a clear idea of what she wanted.
Ross Clark also says this:
She invoked Article 50 too soon, before any significant preparations for a ‘no deal’ scenario had been made.
Delaying the invocation of Article 50 would have been a big mistake. Even delaying it as long as the government did was a big mistake. A very big mistake. As I said at the time, the longer Brexit takes the more time the enemy has to gather its forces and work its propaganda, and overturn the referendum, or thwart it in some way. The longer we delayed Article 50, the more likely it was that it would never be invoked. The delay we did see allowed Gina Miller’s group to get to work and start drumming up support and getting a head of steam, and giving Remainers all over the country hope, whereas if we had invoked Article 50 the day after the referendum, that would never have happened (as the invocation would have been a fair accompli).
What should have happened was that the UK simply announced to the EU the day after the referendum that it was leaving the EU, leaving the Single Market, the Customs Union, the ECJ, etc., and that we had two years to iron out issues like aviation, shipping, tariffs, etc. We should then have got on with preparing for a Managed No Deal, which in that scenario would simply have been called Brexit. If a free trade deal agreement, or the beginnings of one, was negotiated during that period, then great, but that made no difference to our leaving thev EU and all its institutions. But the fact that the government dithered for so long gave the Remainers the chance to start all the bullshit talk about ‘soft Brexit’. It was initial delay that started the rot.
But I was pretty much alone in saying all this. The majority of even the most gung-ho Brexiteers were saying ‘Deal, deal deal’, like that was the most important thing. It never was. Leaving was. That’s what the vote was for. As I used to say — and this saying has now spread, although not enough — we didn’t vote for a deal, we voted to leave. We should have just said immediately that we were leaving everything, which would have prevented Remain from ever rising from the ashes.
While I’m on Ross Clark’s article , another thing needs to be said:
The ECJ’s judgment hands the government a lifeline. It provides the opportunity to rescind Britain’s notice to leave and to restart the process, this time without making the same mistakes. Here is how it could work: after losing the vote on her deal, Mrs May – or her successor, if she is minded to resign – withdraws our intention to leave the EU. It then begins a process of serious planning for a WTO scenario: thinking carefully of how and where customs checks could be carried out, how the issues of possible shortages of food and drugs and so could be resolved. Only then is Article 50 be re-invoked and negotiations with the EU re-started – this time with the EU knowing full-well that we were deadly serious about leaving on WTO terms.
As I understand it the ECJ’s judgement is that Article 50 can be revoked only in the circumstance that it is a genuine revocation, that is, if the UK genuinely intends to stay in the EU long-term, and aren’t just doing to it to gain time. So we can’t revoke it in order to make preparations to re-invoke it. (Apparently there’s also some question marks over the legal status of this judgement as well, but I’m not up to speed on that.)
I should also say that revoking Article 50, even if we were allowed to do it, would be utterly unacceptable to the people of the Britain, because in that scenario we all know that the traitors in Parliament would be fighting tooth and nail to make sure that it was never re-invoked, and there’s a good chance that they’d succeed. So that scenario should be a non-starter. A revocating of Article 50 guarantees only one thing, and that is an angry mob burning down the Houses of Parliament.
I'm starting to think the backstop was only ever there to be a 'concession' that can be removed, leaving the 'deal' seem reasonable without it. It isn't, nobody should fall for this ruse, especially @BorisJohnson. With or without the backstop this WA is trash.
— BadgerFool (@BadgerFool) December 10, 2018
The country is being held to ransom by about two-hundred idiots who call themselves Conservative MPs, who refuse to cast out the leader that the rest of the country would like to throw off a cliff.
Update: What goes against the last-minute compromise idea, however, is the fact that the EU is saying that the backstop is not going to be renegotiated, and apparently all May is going to get anyway from the EU are ‘reassurances’, not changes. Don’t think ‘reassurances’ is going to cut it.
Wednesday Martin, whose latest book Untrue explores “why nearly everything we believe about women and lust and infidelity” is wrong
This is really Tim Newman’s territory, but I wanted to make a few points. Firstly, what is that we believe about ‘women and lust and infidelity’ that’s wrong?
Starting from the premise that we’re only now beginning to understand women’s sexuality properly
Sure, all those thousands of years nobody, including women themselves, had a clue, but now we brilliant moderns with Sociology degrees have discovered the truth that eluded everyone else for so long.
she explains that contrary to popular opinion, women tire of their sexual partners faster than men, and need just as much sexual adventure and novelty as their male counterparts – if not more
But isn’t that just folk wisdom? Women get married and go off their husbands much quicker than the husbands go off them? That’s the basis of a million jokes, after all.
This year has seen, if not an explosion, then at least a creeping insinuation into our culture of the idea that monogamy might not be the only approach to long-term relationships.
Well, yes, and you’re contributing to it. But it’s hardly new. These things go in waves. In the 70s it was called ‘free love’, and it was all the rage.
Meanwhile we’ve had an MP, Labour’s Jess Phillips, recommending that schoolgirls should be taught about orgasms.
I’m starting to think this is not a serious article. (It is the Telegraph Women’s section, after all.)
since female sexual autonomy is, argues Martin, a feminist issue, closely interlinked with the power and autonomy women have in the workforce and in politics, the significance of this online movement should not be overlooked.
Others might argue that since it is a feminist issue, it should be overlooked.
She struggled with monogamy herself in her 20s; more recently, she realised there were data indicating that she was not alone.
How incredibly unobservant would you have to be to only realise this after looking at scientific data? The difficulties that many Western people have with monogamy is one of the most salient features of the Western world since the 1970s. Imagine not noticing the enormous number of films, TV shows and books that are all about infidelities, betrayals, cheating, etc. (Perhaps someone should send her a DVD set of Carla Lane’s series Butterflies.) Imagine not noticing the explosion in divorces since the 70s, and the accompanying boom in singles culture. Has this woman been living under a rock for 50 years?
“What’s so exciting is there’s relatively new science and social science that flies in the face of the holy triumvirate of beliefs about male versus female sexuality: the first being that the male libido is stronger than the female libido
A notion we’ve been continually told is wrong since about 1972.
the second being that women are more naturally monogamous
I’m afraid that one probably is true. But that doesn’t mean that women don’t feel desire for other people. Everyone does. But the circumstances of most women, especially women who want to have children, make leaving monogamy behind a bit more difficult for them than it is for men.
and the third being that women are the enforcers of monogamy and are more cosy and domestic than men,” she says.
That’s still probably true more of women than men. But that was never a black and white issue. We’re talking percentages here. And of course changed social circumstances come into play as well: with taboos against divorce and having children out of wedlock having disappeared, and state support for single mothers having come into being in many Western countries, women have been virtually encouraged to abandon monogamy.
“All this exciting research had come out over the last years, picking apart every one of those supposed truths”
Quantitative research, or qualitative? Because that whole B.S. qualitative sex research thing — a few women talk about their sexual fantasies, and the researcher writes a best-selling book about it — has been with us a long time now.
To this end, her chapter “Bonobos in Paradise” begins with a look at the work of primatologists regarding the sexual behaviour of female simians.
Christ, the bloody bonobos again. Where would all these sexual freedom pioneers be without their bonking bonobos?
A few pages later, Martin has segued into reportage from the front line of female sexual exploration: women-only sex parties, known as Skirt Club, and attended by women who identify as largely heterosexual, many of whom are married to men.
So she’s discovered the orgy, and thinks she’s onto something big. Congratulations Wednesday, you’re very observant, and can see things that nobody else has noticed.
What she witnessed there didn’t only show female sexual fluidity in action in humans; it also busted another myth, she says – that women cheat for emotional connection.
Some women do cheat for that reason, but nobody thinks that all women who cheat do so for emotional connection. Just nobody at all thinks that. The secretary who shags her boss — nobody thinks that’s about emotional connection. The young girls who shag a rock star, or the local handsome football hero — nobody thinks that’s about emotional connection. The middle-aged women who have pick up men in singles bars for anonymous sex — nobody thinks that’s about emotional connection. And so on. She’s fighting against straw women.
Then there’s this caption to a picture:
Because nothing illustrates (supposed) scientific research better than… a fictional character. (And what did you expect a female assassin to be like? A traditional mum? The mum from the Waltons?)
Martin appears not to realise that monogamy has never been supposed to be easy. For some people it is, but it’s always been acknowledged by virtually everybody that for many people it’s difficult. It’s something that has to be worked at. But for many people the rewards outweigh the downsides. But we all — the ‘we all’ meaning every adult in the world apart from Wednesday Martin, until she did her scientific research — know that it can be a struggle.
But she’s the genius with the new research at her fingertips, so what’s her solution?
“Ok,” she laughs. “So here’s the deal: consensual non-monogamy … “That’s an awful lot of people struggling with monogamy and believing their only option is to remain monogamous and unfulfilled or have an affair and pray it doesn’t blow up your marriage. What if,” she posits, “we looked at struggling with exclusivity after a number of years as simply the baseline, and gave people a whole range of solutions?”
She acknowledges consensual non-monogamy would not be the way forward for everyone. “[For] some people that would drive them absolutely insane and it would be a terrible idea,” she says. For those people, she suggests alternatives, such as trying to inject the spark back into the sex life you already have.
“The real gift would be to give your spouse permission to have the conversation,” she says. “Why is it better to get a divorce and move on when you simply decide ‘I don’t fancy him any more’, or the spark is gone… What a trail of destruction you might save yourself from creating if you said instead: is there something we can do here?”
Marriages, by this reasoning, could be saved.
This reminds me of the view that Keynes attributed to Russell: that ‘human affairs were carried on after a most irrational fashion, but that the remedy was quite simple and easy, since all we had to do was to carry them on rationally’. Yes, why didn’t we think of that. We just have to stop being irrational, and start being rational. It’s so simple really.
Here’s my simple explanation of what Martin says: she has books to sell.
Weird story of the week:
Hotel staff have apologised for creating a “horrifying” effigy of a dead footballer in an attempt at a tribute for his parents that went terribly wrong.
Karen Baker, from Hertfordshire, had arranged for staff from a five-star Jamaican hotel resort to dress a room for friends Faye and Andrew Stephens, whose son Alex died after falling from a balcony on holiday in 2014.
The couple, from Willesden, north-west London, were on holiday with Mrs Baker, Alex’s godmother, to celebrate his birthday this week, a tradition they began after his death.
Instead of a heartfelt tribute, hotel staff created a life-size model made out of clothes lying on the hotel bed, holding a birthday cake.
The tribute definitely did go bizarrely wrong, judging by this photo:
What I don’t get, though, is if the parents were so traumatized by this stupidity, why have they gone to the media about it?
She told the BBC: “When I walked into the bedroom, all I can describe is a dummy body on the bed,” she said.
“Staff had gone through my friend’s wardrobe and stuffed the clothes with towels to make it look like a body on the bed. They even put tears down the face and a can of lager in his hand.
“I was absolutely horrified – as you can imagine I was sweating and shaking. We just didn’t want our friends to see it.
“We didn’t want our friends to see it”, they say, which I can understand. Yet they’re perfectly happy for the story to be on the BBC, and the photo — the photo you took — to be splashed all over the newspaper. If this was about your friends’ feelings, why didn’t you just play the whole thing down? Why drag it out and make so much of it?
The family have since received a full refund from TUI of £1,300 per person for the five-star holiday.
Perhaps there’s an explanation there.
Apparently Elf on the Shelf is the biggest thing since Christmas turkey:
“We had no idea what on earth we were getting ourselves into.”
So says Chanda Bell, one of the three women responsible creating what has become a bigger Christmas tradition in the UK than watching the Queen’s Speech.
It’s so big that I’ve never even heard of it.
Mind you, it probably is bigger than the Queen’s Speech, because who the hell watches that on Christmas Day? Is it 1954 still?
“It’s really about creating these stories for families and being the voice of Santa in the North Pole,” she says. “That’s where our focus is.
Why is this a good thing? Why do we want anyone being the voice of Santa in the North Pole? I don’t. I don’t even like seeing Santa portrayed on screen. Let kids’ imaginations do the work. Get off Santa’s land, he’s not your property.
(The best Christmas films don’t have Santa in them, like ‘Jingle All the Way’.)
A lot of people, including Guido Fawkes, have recently been attacking UKIP for its new direction, and pointing out all the UKIP MEPs and other notable party figures who are leaving.
However, it must be noted that UKIP has performed very badly since mid-2016 when the Brexit referendum happened and Farage quit. It’s become virtually invisible to the media (except when the media laughed at its in-fighting). Even with Brexit under threat the party has become ineffective in the extreme. So although the party did amazingly well in the Farage era (mainly due to Farage, it must be said), it has to be acknowledged that the party is on its last legs. It’s a failing entity.
A new broom is needed, and a new approach. Tapping into the anger of the average man on the street over the various sell-outs of the ruling class seems the obvious thing to do (especially seeing as Labour is now run by Trotkyite SJWs, and the Tories are aiding and abetting the spread of political correctness, plus of course most Tory MPs are Remainers). This has worked in Europe, and while the UK isn’t quite Europe in its voting traditions, there is still the same boiling anger at the establishment here, which the old UKIP didn’t have a clue how to harness. Stephen Woolfe, Suzanne Evans, Paul Nuttall, Diane James, Peter Whittle, Douglas Carswell, etc. for all their various virtues, never had any chance of becoming the figurehead of that fightback.
UKIP must become the party of the people. This will, unfortunately, have its downside, but there’s no other way to wrest back control of our country and our lives other than by getting loud and aggressive and channelling some Donald Trump.
It’s Sunday evening, halfway through the first semester of Ren’s second year at Grayvington, and Ren has asked Miles to join him at the pub.
‘Where’s Lucy?’ Miles asks when he arrives.
‘We broke up this afternoon,’ says Ren.
‘That’s too bad. She was nice. Can I fuck her now?’
‘You forbid it. I understand.’
‘No, she just wouldn’t have you, that’s all. I’ve spoiled her for other men.’
‘Meaning you’ve somehow rendered her unattractive to other men, or that other men cannot satisfy her after you?’
‘Strange. Most girls don’t like halfwits who wear ladies’ panties.’
‘You don’t need to tell me. Being honest on lonely hearts ads isn’t a good idea.’
‘So you broke up with her, then?’
‘No, she broke up with me.’
‘Has she spoiled you for other librarians now?’
‘No, I’m always up for a spot of rumpy behind the stacks with a pair of glasses. But librarians are sensitive creatures. Too sensitive for brutes like me.’
‘Was it your politics? Your refusal to be left-wing in front her friends?’
‘Actually she didn’t mind that. What she couldn’t take in the end was my endless questioning of everything she said.’
‘I could see that would be a problem with you.’
‘That’s what philosophers do, though.
‘They’re annoying arseholes?’
‘It’s what academics in general do, so don’t think you’re exempt. But yes, particularly philosophers. Always questioning everything.’
‘But there are times and places for that. Perhaps not on a romantic date. Perhaps not in the bedroom.’
‘I’m not like that in the bedroom. It’s the day to day stuff she doesn’t like. She doesn’t understand that for a philosopher, analysing, questioning, even attacking what has been said, is normal. It doesn’t mean you have a low opinion of what was said. In a way it’s a sign of respect that you engage with the person and what they’re claiming. That’s what we teach first-years right from the start. If a philosophy lecturer, or a fellow philosophy student, critically analyses what you’ve said, that isn’t an insult.’
‘Or it isn’t necessarily an insult.’
‘Okay, yes. It takes students a while to cope with it, but they do, and they’re better off for it. You need to be able to cope with criticism in life. You’ll get worse thrown at you in real life. It’s good to be able to have the resources to deal with that, and hold your own, without breaking down in a pile of tears because someone criticised what you said. Of course the progressives will eventually kill it, but for now it’s a good thing for students to be exposed to criticism.’
‘Yeah, especially seeing as students are supposed to be the best and brightest. You’re hardly the best and the brightest if you can’t cope with a bit of criticism.’
‘Not sure “the best and the brightest” really describes our students,’ says Ren.
‘True, but still, there’s not much point doing an Arts degree if you can’t handle a disagreement.’
‘So Lucy has disappointed you. Mind you, she wasn’t a student herself, so you didn’t have that mandate for critical analysis of her conversation.’
‘I wasn’t trying to teach her. I was just being myself. People always say you should be yourself.’
‘Oh, that doesn’t apply in your case. You should never be yourself.’
‘I’ve had this feeling that I’d forgotten something. Maybe that was it.’
‘You’re also a total pedant. That’s something that philosophers have that most other academics don’t. You’re all pedants. Especially you. Doesn’t go down too well with the ladies. Critical analysis is one thing. Endless pedantry is another.’
‘Even my humorous pedantry?’
‘Especially your humorous pedantry. A pedant who’s an earnest bore she could probably take. But the endless hilarious pedantry at her expense she couldn’t, I expect.’
‘It was only occasional. And mostly not at her expense.’
‘Still. She was a sensitive thing, as you say. Was she good in bed?
‘Heavens to Betsy, Miles, a gentlemen does not kiss and tell. Shame on you for asking, you cad.’
‘Sorry. So are you cut up about it?’
‘A bit, yeah, but it wasn’t like it was ever going to be a long-term relationship. But I’m down enough to want to drink tonight.’
‘As opposed to when you’re happy so you want a drink to celebrate? Ren the Celebrator is in the house. Well, at least you won’t have to put up with any more pictures of pussies.’
‘You’re referring, I hope, to the cute cat pictures she liked to stick onto everything?’
‘Despite what you think, I am a gentlemen, and that is what I was referring to. I will not pry into any snap-snap grin-grin Polaroid-type activities, or ask for a look.’
Ren gets some drinks in.
‘So how’s it going with Andrea?’ Ren asks. Andrea works for the Council.
‘Ahhh… I was hoping you weren’t going to ask me that.’
‘Sort of. Let’s see. As you self-identify as a gentleman, despite much evidence to the contrary, I shall but faintly allude to the fact that she’s good in bed.’
‘That’s not faintly alluding to it, that’s baldly stating it.’
‘Whatever. She’s a firecracker in the sack. Insane. But she has all these animal rights posters all over her flat.’
‘As in appeals to save cute fluffy animals? Or militant “Kill all the animal-testers” posters?’
‘You might say they’re from the more radical end of the spectrum.’
‘You sure can pick ‘em. Does she go on about it a lot?’
‘Surprisingly no. She hardly mentions it.’
‘But it’s going to be a problem, isn’t it, seeing as you work in a department that contains numerous monkey-torturers?’
‘Has she asked about that?’
‘In passing. I’ve played it down. Important research and all that. Which it is.’
‘Right. Well, I don’t like to interfere…’
‘You think I should dump her?’
‘That’s your business. But there are numerous cliches appropriate for such situations. Don’t let the little head, book and covers, and all that. I know she’s good-looking, but…’
‘She does seem very keen on me.’
‘Lots of girls are keen on you, pretty-boy.’
‘She even likes to come in and see me at work.’
‘Well, it is a fascinating building. All those endless, flouro-lit, dirty corridors in a horrible sixties building. What more could a girl want?’
‘She really comes in because she likes to…’
‘You mean in your office? What have I told you about being a gentleman? No kissy telly. You’re not Cosmopolitan magazine. And remind me never to sit on a chair in your office again.’
‘By the way, speaking of girlfriends, I have some news about Tanja.’
‘She’s moved to London?’
‘No. She’s found a new boyfriend.’
‘Whoopie-do. Oh. Is it someone we know then?’
‘His full name is Tony Fucking Shaver. Oh God. Tony Fucking Shaver. Shite. I thought I’d never have to see her again. Jesus, it’s my fault, I told her that Tony Fucking Shaver was someone more sympathetic to what she was talking about. She’s probably gone and sought him out. Should have kept my fucking trap shut. Flub-a-dub. So anyway, where’s Andrea tonight?’
‘She’s, er… she’s away.’
‘You’re hiding something. Where is she?’
‘Just a thing she’s got on.’
‘Right. Let me guess. An animal-rights convention? A Socialist Workers Party meeting?’
‘Just some sort of animal-rights meetup. Nothing big.’
‘What is to become of you? Why can’t you find a semi-normal woman and not an escapee from your labs? You want a relationship, not a test subject to write a thesis on.’
‘Like you could have resisted what she was doing to me at that party.’
‘Have your drunken shag, sure, but you don’t have to keep going out with a woman just because she took you into the broom closet at a party and used the vacuum cleaner as a sex aid, or whatever she did.’
‘This is still just a shag. Only a somewhat extended one. Also, she has plenty of coke.’
‘Isn’t she just a bag of fun? Is that why your eyes are bloodshot?’
‘You look like you have conjunctivitis.’
‘That’s my story.’
‘So. All it is, you’re saying, is a shag, and you just haven’t quite got around to telling her the shag is finished?’
‘I will tell her. When she gets back.’
‘Unless she comes back with some more coke?’
‘It will die soon enough. It’s purely physical. These things burn out.’
‘So do your nostrils.’
‘If finding a semi-normal woman is so easy, where are yours?’
‘You had to bring that up. I don’t charm them out of the trees to the extent you do.’
‘I’m just going to suck the marrow out of life for a bit longer, that’s all.’
‘Just as long as the police don’t have to break in to find her and her mates on the floor sucking the marrow out of your bones.’
‘Oh pish posh, stop being such an old woman. She’s a healthy young woman who likes to fuck, as is right and proper, and I am obliging her.’
‘Or, she’s a right lunatic who’s up to no good who likes to fuck.’
‘The common denominator is the important bit.’
‘Okay. It’s your dick.’
‘It goes wherever I go, so that’s a safe assumption.’
‘I’m sure it will look nice on her mantelpiece.’
‘Mantelpiece, what a good idea. We haven’t done it there yet.’
‘What do your monkey torturers do to their monkeys? Do you think she’ll try to recreate that with you once she’s got you tied up?’
‘I’ve told her I love animals.’
‘She’s vegan, right?’
‘Do you have meat in your fridge when she comes around?’
‘It was nice knowing you, Miles. Get us a round in before she ransacks your bank account.’
Taking inspiration from I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, here’s the first in a series of posts about new definitions for old words or phrases.
Sparked debate: the meaning of this phrase has changed. When it’s used in relation to something left-wing, what it now means is ‘X will soon be de rigueur’.
For example, “The CEO of Manbag Ltd has sparked debate by revealing that he carries around an ‘apology book’, which he can dip into to find a suitable apology whenever he offends a women or a transgender person or a minority”.
On the other hand, when used of something that isn’t explicitly left-wing and is considered normal by most people, what it now means ‘X will soon be shut down’.
For example, “Rugby international Gareth Tankard’s habit of slapping his thighs when he laughs sparked debate after women’s groups noted that the practice discriminated against women, because they don’t have the muscle mass to create the same sound, and also because it’s possible that his hands might fly off his thighs and injure a woman”.
A hard Brexit will leave traffic “backed up to Birmingham”, according to a Tory MP…
The North Thanet MP mocked former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab for admitting he “hadn’t quite understood” how reliant UK trade in goods is on the Dover-Calais crossing.
“Other people don’t seem to have grasped this fact but quite a lot of trade does come through Dover,” he said, adding 85% of the freight coming through Dover is continental, including pharmaceuticals, food and car parts.
I can’t vouch for Dominic Raab, but I think most “other people” have grasped that Dover is very important for trade.
“A hard Brexit means a hard border between Dover and Calais – that shutter will come down and there will be controls, and if those shutters come down the traffic backs up at about a mile an hour.
Sir Roger said Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson’s constituents “may not care whether Kent is turned into a lorry park”
But he said they “will scream blue murder” when they find they cannot buy “their new Chelsea tractor, their life-saving drugs or the food they enjoy that come in from mainland Europe”.
Yes, there may well be delays for a while in getting stuff to the Continent, and getting across as a tourist or business traveller (and for this the government would be culpable because of their deliberate lack of planning). But why would our imports be held up? We control what comes into the country, not the EU, and we can choose not to drop down the shutters. We let in products for the rest of the world without any problem, why would we hold up stuff from the EU?
Through circumstances I found myself at the weekend at a very traditional Catholic Mass at a large city centre cathedral in a mid-size city. If I thought this was going to be something different I was mistaken. The priest’s main concern? Migrants. Refugees. We must take them all in and love them. This we were repeatedly urged to do. I half-expected him at any stage to throw off his clothes to reveal an Antifa T-shirt. Churchie obsession with social justice causes is not something new, of course, but I was disconcerting all the same. It felt like once again the aim was to replace the disappointing existing population, who think too independently, with a better set of people who know how to follow instruction. Just like Antifa, then.
When you looked closely at the makeup of the congregation you started to see why the church might take this attitude. It was mostly Latinos, Africans and old natives. There were hardly any white people below the age of 60 (apart from kids brought in by their families). Catholicism has very little appeal to young whites from outside the faith, so you can see why the church might see its future as depending on refugees who can be brought into the flock. The possibility that most migrants will be Islamic rather than Catholic, and that the Catholic church will be repressed in an increasingly Islamic country, doesn’t seem to come into it.
Labour still worries me. As I’ve been saying all along, in reality they, like the Tories, cannot stomach a no-deal Brexit. And now it’s explicit:
Labour are backing a cross-party bid to ensure the UK cannot leave the EU without a deal.
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said the amendment to 11 December’s Commons vote on the PM’s Brexit deal had his “full support”.
If MPs back the amendment it will not be binding but Theresa May would find it difficult to ignore.
MPs have been lying all along about no deal being better than a bad deal, and as predicted, have been waiting until the last stages of negotiations to spring this on us:
a source has told the BBC there is a “growing consensus” among all MPs against a “no-deal” Brexit.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told ITV’s This Morning on Thursday that “nobody is going to allow no deal”.
That is, Parliament doesn’t want the UK to become independent again. This is clearly not about some trade disruption in March.
The amendment, tabled by Labour backbencher and chairman of the Brexit select committee, Hilary Benn, is understood to have support from Conservative, Labour, SNP, Liberal Democrat, Plaid Cymru and Green politicians …
[Hilary Benn said:] “frankly no deal all along has been the worst possible outcome and its really important that we close that off. Because we can’t afford to fall over the edge of a cliff at the end of March.”
How are they going to achieve this other than by voting for some altered version of May’s deal? (Maybe a Norway deal, but May’s deal is actually closer to what Labour wants than Norway.) So be prepared for some more serious betrayals over the next few weeks.
Last week I wondered whether May was just playing the old last-minute compromise-to-get-it-through game? It’s the tried-and-tested tactic in this sort of situation, so why wouldn’t she be using that sort of method? But few people on the internet have even wondered about this. Other than Patrick O’Flynn, who says:
Am hearing word that May has a last minute backstop “concession” on her back pocket to play in a week or so. Whether it is substantial or illusory is still to be seen.
It hardly needs saying that the MSM hasn’t said much at all about this possibility — even if they suspect, they’re staying schtum. But buried in this Bloomberg piece we have this nugget:
one member of Parliament said he’d been told the whips were preparing to make a concession aimed at buying off some rebels.
I’m not saying it’s necessarily going to work, but it’s making me worried. This trick works best when it’s offered unexpectantly, so if no-one is expecting it, the mere shock of a concession may be enough to bring enough rebels around, and maybe some more Labour rebels, and then we’re screwed.
Ren doesn’t mind spending time with students who are struggling if they’re genuinely interested in learning. Or even if they just want to get a better mark, and are prepared to listen. But someone who just wants to blame their lecturer for everything, and is pretending their own inadequacies don’t exist, doesn’t belong at University. She’ll be one of those students who thought she had to go to University because that’s what everyone does now, or that’s what her parents told her to do, and she’s chosen Philosophy because there’s little else she can do. She should, of course, have chosen Sociology, where her lack of intellectual ability and her feelings of inadequacy and rage at everything around her would fit in nicely. But Philosophy is stuck with her now.
After another five minutes of hurt feelings being piled on top of outraged feelings, Ren tries to placate her once again, and once again he makes everything worse.
‘Look,’ he says, ‘Philosophy isn’t for everyone. In fact most people don’t have the ability to look at things in the way required in Philosophy.’
‘Now you’re saying I’m no good at Philosophy?’ she says with a rising note of hysteria in her voice, which is now quite loud. ‘You’re supposed to teach me how to do Philosophy, and all you do is tell me that I’m rubbish at it?’
Ren realises that he has two options at this point. He can continue on with this, as she deliberately winds herself up at everything he says, which will culminate in her running out of his office and straight to Robot’s office while screaming about Ren, or he can strangle her here and now, and throw her body out the window. That will cause him trouble, sure, but both options will cause him trouble. The question is, which will cause the least trouble? What he really needs is a fake fire alarm button under his desk. He can secretly press it, and everyone has to run outside, and then he’s rid of her, for the time being at least.
A knocking is heard at the door. Saved! He’s saved! A mercy mission has arrived. It’s Adalia Greenflower. Normally he’d do everything but bar the door to keep her out of his office, but today the welcome mat is out for her. On some strange literary-metaphysical level of Platonic reality he has opened a secret cupboard and got out a red carpet, which he unrolls for her.
‘Adalia, come in,’ he says with genuine sincerity.
‘Oh,’ she says. ‘You have a student. I can come back later.’
‘No, no, we’re just finishing up, come in.’
‘It’s not important. Just some admin.’
‘If it’s admin we need to sort it. And I have some urgent admin I need to talk to you about. Okay Angela, I’m sure your next essay will go even better now that we’ve had a look through this one.’
‘But I want you to re-mark my essay. I’m not happy with the mark. I demand it be re-marked. By someone else if you don’t change the mark.’
‘I’m afraid we don’t do that, as Adalia here can confirm.’
‘Er, yes, that’s right,’ says Adalia, looking about her as though she’s weighing up making a sudden run for it.
‘Essays are not re-marked on request, otherwise we’d never get anything else done, and it wouldn’t be fair to the students who don’t get re-marked. We only revisit marks if there’s been some procedural irregularity, which isn’t the case here.’
‘Well, I’m still going to go to Professor Kapchar to complain about this.’
‘You can try, but he’ll tell you the same thing. It’s general University policy. Just because you want a higher mark is not a reason for us to give you one. You need to learn from this one and just get that little bit extra next time.’
Angela storms off in a huff, worse than the one she came in on. Ren figures he has about twenty minutes before he’s sacked, and he’s not keen on spending that twenty minutes with Adalia, so he gets rid of her after ten minutes. An hour later and he’s stopped worrying. These days there’s no end of screwed-up, flaky students who have no real interest in their chosen field of study complaining about their marks. Robot should give her short shrift.
On the other hand, Robot has no backbone, except when kicking down, and he’d love the chance to get Ren in the shit. So maybe he should worry. And maybe he should worry about where this supposed dream life as an academic is heading. Is this going to be the rest of his life? To be kicked around every term by students and his Head of Department? He can see that power is already draining away from ordinary academics towards – or back towards – the Heads and the Deans and the Pro Vice-Chancellors, and towards the bureaucrats, who are being hired in ever greater numbers. And towards the students. Not so much to the good students. Mostly to the bad ones.
And the admin jobs are going to get even worse in the coming years. Being in charge of the weekly departmental seminars is a stroll in the park on a sunny day compared to being in charge of assessment, or admissions, or any of the other admin jobs. (The only other easy admin job is being library rep, but it’s looking like no-one is going to be allowed to do just that in future.)
He knows the job is still better than most jobs. But it’s not the dream job that grad students convince themselves it’s going to be as they slave away at their doctorates. We all fooled ourselves. And if he keeps slaving away at his papers and gets ahead then his reward will be a little bit more money. Or none at all – if you get promoted from Senior Lecturer to Reader, which requires a great deal of successful research to have been carried out, then your salary increase is exactly zero pounds and zero pence per year. The job title itself is reward enough, apparently. Although they won’t even let you put a sign saying ‘Reader’ on your door here. Only Professors are allowed a sign with their rank displayed on their door. And you don’t even get your alloted place in the hierarchy on the departmental web pages any more – they’ve recently been made politically correct, so that the names now appear in alphabetical order, rather than being grouped into ‘Professors,’ ‘Readers’, ‘Senior Lecturers’, and so on, as they used to be.
But promotion will mean that he’ll be lumbered with more of the responsibility for the running of the department, and he’ll have to make more of the decisions that will make people hate him. The more he advances the more hours he will have to waste sitting on mind-crushing Faculty and University-level committees, and people say that there are more and more pointless committees being created every year. And all the while he’ll get one – or even zero, or at best, two – papers on unfeasibly obscure topics published every year, which only three people will ever read.
Even within the department no-one reads anyone else’s papers. Everyone gives everyone else their draft papers, because that’s what people in proper Philosophy departments do. In those departments they all read each others’ papers and then write helpful, insightful, even brilliant, comments for the author. But in this department everyone has a huge pile of papers from everyone else, which they never read past the first couple of pages. Especially if it’s a paper from Pastygill. Or, obviously, Bill, because he just writes bilge about Robert Langston. Or Panos, because his stuff reads even worse than he speaks. Or if it’s… Ren realises he could on for a while here.
Occasionally people ask each other, ‘Oh, have you read my such-and-such paper yet? Because I was going to send it off to American Philosophical Letters soon, and wondered if you had any thoughts on it?’ And the other person will say, ‘Oh, I’ve been meaning to read that, but I haven’t had time to get around to it, got such a big to-read pile, and with all the essay marking and whatnot…’
There’s only one thing to do. He gets in his car, drives to KFC and buys a big bucket of chicken, and then goes to work at home where he can have the Test match he recorded on his VCR last night playing in the background. The only way he can get any work done is to do it at home. He may have his own office at work, but it has a door, and on that door people – students, admin staff, other lecturers – knock all day. Here he can concentrate on Philosophy, interrupted only by the occasional wicket.
Now that the British civil service has been so thoroughly exposed by Brexit as partisan, dishonest and incompetent, can we now finally start thinking about draining that particular swamp? (Assuming we win on Brexit, that is, and Corbyn doesn’t get in? In that case, of course, we’re screwed.)
It’s time for a wholesale clearout of the civil service, and mass sackings. No more Ministers for Pet Food and Verge Cutting. That’s the next big battle. Although perhaps the war against fake charities will have to come first. (The war against the BBC and its funding is not one that I’m confident will be made for a long time. Then again, I’m probably just dreaming anyway with the war on the civil service idea.)