Thursday 31 August 2023

Monty Python territory

Peter Smith has an entertaining Quadrant piece on an Australian government plan to bet its energy future on wind and sun.

Page after Page of Fanciful Futuristic Bumf

The Australian government takes a polarised view of the climate-change hoax. First, it will bring “more frequent and extreme weather events that will impact ecosystems, infrastructure and the built environment, food production, health and global security.” Yet, second, it will bring opportunities. To wit, “Australia is in a strong position to benefit from the global transition to net zero…with some of the world’s largest reserves of critical minerals such as lithium, cobalt and rare earth elements [and] With more abundant wind, sun and open spaces Australia can generate energy more cheaply than many countries.”

The two quotes above are from the latest Intergenerational Report, which purports to describe what the next 40 years will look like. I will come back to the second of the quotes. The report has been extensively covered in the media. References have been made to the first such report, issued in 2002, and its failed forecasts. A popular choice is that first document’s forecast that Australia’s population would hit 25 million by 2040. A miss by a mere 22 years; the target having been reached in August 2018.

The are two reason why intergenerational forecasting exercises are useless. First, government ministers and their apparatchiks who compile them are inclined to the naive belief that their policies will work. Behind this naivete is a flawed recollections of past failures. Second, and most importantly, life happens way beyond the term of the prevailing government.

The whole piece is worth reading as a reminder of the extent to which government policies rely on forecasts going well beyond timescales for which anyone could conceivably be held responsible. In this case, an assumption that the world isn't likely to go nuclear.

Having determined to abandon coal, the foundation of Australia’s competitive advantage in generating electricity, the brilliant idea is to embrace a form of energy which the world is effectively on the brink of leaving behind. To think, as per the Intergenerational Report, that this “could lead to exports of energy-intensive green metals, and electricity through undersea cables and hydrogen,” is ultra delusional. Which country is going to buy Australian electricity made from wind and sun, delivered through an undersea cable? Chris Bowen’s territory, did I say? This is Monty Python territory.


Grant Shapps appointed UK's new defence secretary, Downing Street says

It will be the fifth role in a year for the Tory MP, who will replace outgoing minister Ben Wallace.

Wednesday 30 August 2023

Buying Power

Armin Rosen has an interesting Tablet piece on how Qatar acquired the rights to stage the 2022 World Cup. Not surprising, but yet another insight into how things are done on the world stage.

Qatar’s World Cup FIFA Bribe Documents Exposed

The moral and legal compromises FIFA and the Qatari government made to hold the 2022 World Cup in the Doha metropolitan area range from tolerating the host country’s ban on homosexuality to deadly abuses of migrant laborers at stadium construction sites. According to documents submitted to the record of a lawsuit in federal court late this afternoon, the road to the first Middle Eastern World Cup also began with a series of straightforward bribes.

Qatar National Bank (QNB) documents, included in a filing made by a Philadelphia-based policy organization fighting a subpoena from a former Qatari-hired American lobbyist, reveal the secret cost of Qatar’s bid to put on the biggest sporting event on Earth. The documents record over 210 million pounds in payments, then worth over $330 million, to members of the FIFA committee who voted on which country would host the 2018 and 2022 tournaments in late 2010. They list specific names, bank account numbers, and amounts of money received.

The record of payments comes in the form of a balance sheet for an account at QNB belonging to the Qatar Diplomatic Mission in London. Between February of 2009 and December of 2010, the account paid over 350 million pounds ($553 million) to some 22 individuals, with the majority of the money going to 14 members of the FIFA executive committee, the body which chooses the host countries for the organization’s flagship event. Some of the payments went to close family members, although a majority of them were direct to committee members.

The whole piece is well worth reading, even for those who are not fans of the beautiful game.

The price of some FIFA committee votes was apparently higher than others. For instance, Nicolas Leoz, the now-deceased former head of South America’s soccer federation, got 5.4 million pounds ($8.5 million). But the highest payments went to Vitaly Mutko, Russia’s minister for sport between 2008 and 2016, chairman of the successful Russian bid for the 2018 World Cup, and deputy prime minister from 2016 to 2020. He got 46 million pounds ($72.6 million) on Feb. 19, 2009, followed by another 21.5 million pounds ($34 million) on Dec. 20, 2010.

The Net Zero Approach


Tuesday 29 August 2023

The N and P problem

Robert Colvile has a useful CAPX piece on EU environmental laws still holding back UK housing.

The Government is right to reform EU laws that are holding back housing

The Government has today announced that it is reforming EU laws designed to protect ‘nutrient neutrality’, in a move that ministers claim will unblock over 100,000 homes. But unless you are something of a housing policy obsessive, you may not know what this dry sounding directive is. So what is nutrient neutrality? How does it work? Why does it matter? Make yourself an instant expert with this handy guide…

The story starts with the EU Habitats Directive (1992). This set up a Europe-wide regime to protect, and if possible revive, particularly valuable sites and plant/animal species. There are now 658 such Special Areas of Conservation [SACS] across the UK – listed here.

Then, in 2018, came the ‘Dutch case’ (or ‘Dutch N case‘). This was an ECJ ruling which held that grazing cattle or applying fertilisers near such sites could only be done if ‘there is no reasonable scientific doubt as to the absence of adverse effects’.

This had a convulsive effect on Dutch politics. To avoid pollution, housing developments were halted, and farmers were told they’d have to lose half their cows and in some cases close their farms. There have been mass protests, farmer suicides, and the formation of a new populist party.

The whole piece is well worth reading as a reminder of several issues. The political overview point of Brexit is one. Another is the general inability of environmental organisations and pundits to accept the reality of trade-offs. Another is that a rising population will increase the volume of wastewater discharges containing nitrogen and phosphorus 

While the Dutch ruling was originally about nitrogen (from fertiliser), Natural England have expanded it to include phosphates. It’s also been applied to ‘recreation impacts’ – which, as I wrote in The Sunday Times, means housing can be blocked to protect the countryside from the devastating impact of people walking on footpaths or children building dens...

So expect headlines about evil Tories planning to destroy the environment, but that’s absolutely not what this is. This is the Government trying to deal with malign consequences of well-intentioned regulation while retaining all necessary protections for conservation sites.

This article from 2018 gives some perspective on the daunting complexity and technical difficulty of reducing phosphorus levels in wastewater treatment systems, particularly smaller systems. These tend to be located in more rural areas which are likely to be more environmentally sensitive.

Delivering effective N and P removal simultaneously appears technically difficult, especially at small-scales where factors such as space limitation and the need for system simplicity means that traditional methods may not work. A few emerging technologies offer some potential in this area, although often at the expense of the simplicity and-or energy requirements for effective operations.

Shoppers' trust plunge drama

Shoppers' trust in supermarkets plunges to lowest level since horsemeat scandal

Which? found that less than half of consumers said they trusted the sector to act in their best interest. It comes despite a recent review by the retail regulator which cleared food shops of profiteering.

Shoppers' trust in supermarkets has fallen to its lowest level since the 2013 horsemeat scandal, according to a new survey.

Consumer group Which? found that less than half of consumers - 48% - said they trusted the sector to act in their best interest, while 18% said they did not trust it at all.

Blimey that's grim news - 48% of consumers expect supermarkets to be a social service. 

It is more heartening to find that 18% may be fully aware that supermarkets are businesses, but we can't be sure of that. Some of them may feel so outraged, offended and victimised because supermarkets are not a social service that they stamp their feet and say they don't trust them at all.

Or the survey may be 48% clickbait.

Monday 28 August 2023

Three words will do

As experts warn...

Is there any fellow in that show who can pull things straight? They’re playing the old game in which they are experts, but it isn’t the game the country requires.

John Buchan - A Prince of the Captivity (1933)

The Ginger Nut

Alexander McKibbin has an entertaining TCW piece - a spoof interview with Neil Kinnock. A number of TCW commenters seem to have been taken in by it.

In conversation with yesterday’s men: Lord Kinnock

In the first of an occasional series, TCWDF talks with individuals who made headlines in the 1980s. Today, The Right Honourable The Lord Kinnock.

FOR individuals of a certain age, mention the name Roy Jenkins and they will almost always recall him as being ‘the best Prime Minister we never had’. This is a description which could be equally easily bestowed on the person I am about to meet, Neil Kinnock.

One of the most influential politicians of his generation, he came to epitomise the acceptable face of Labour. Perceptive, articulate, conciliatory and with an unrivalled gift for oratory, he could charm the proverbial birds from the trees. He led Labour through the tumultuous battles with Militant Tendency and in 1985 delivered his most memorable conference address lambasting ‘the grotesque chaos of a Labour council hiring taxis to scuttle round the City handing out redundancy notices to its own workers’.

After leaving Westminster, and still keen to serve the public, he moved to Brussels, serving as a European Commissioner from 1995-2004 and as Vice President of the European Commission between 1999 and 2004. He has been a Labour Party peer since 2005. Politics and policy run deeply through him.

At his request, we meet near his West London home in a pub somewhat ironically called The Ginger Nut.

The whole piece is well worth reading, both because it's amusing and as a reminder of Kinnock's calibre.

Does he still feel embarrassed about falling over on Brighton beach in 1983?

The mood switches from jocular to icy. He slams his beer on to the table, spilling it over his half-eaten pack of low-calorie scampi fries.

‘Absolutely typical! You media folk cannot help yourselves, can you? Never let anything drop, will you? Gutless and fixated on demonising socialism, that’s all you’re interested in, a few more sensationalist headlines. Why don’t you go and get a proper job?’

Sunday 27 August 2023


Our funeral practices have a high carbon footprint. Becca Warner explores how she could plan her own more environmentally-friendly burial.

Not many of us like talking about death. It's dark, and sad, and prone to throwing us into an existential spiral. But the uncomfortable truth is that, as someone who cares about the environment, I realised I needed to stop ignoring the reality of it. Once we're gone, our bodies need somewhere to go – and the ways that we typically burn or bury bodies in the West come at a scary environmental cost.

There is nothing wrong with looking at alternatives to burial or cremation, but using environmental politics as a starting point doesn't help.

Most people in the UK (where I'm from) are cremated when they die, and burning bodies isn't good for the planet. The stats make wince-worthy reading. A typical cremation in the UK is gas-powered, and is estimated to produce 126kg (278lb) CO2 equivalent emissions (CO2e) – about the same as driving from Brighton to Edinburgh. In the US, the average is even higher, at 208kg (459lb) CO2e. It's perhaps not the most carbon-intensive thing we'll do in our lives – but when the majority of people in many countries opt to go up in smoke when they die, those emissions quickly add up.

Cremation sounds better and better as the alternatives become quite ghoulish.

Recompose has so far composted around 300 bodies. The process happens over the course of five to seven weeks. Lying in its specialised vessel, the body is surrounded by wood chips, alfalfa and straw. The air is carefully monitored and controlled, to make it a comfortable home for the microbes that help speed up the body's decomposition. The remains are eventually removed, having transformed into two wheelbarrows-worth of compost. The bones and teeth – which don't decompose – are removed, broken down mechanically, and added to the compost. Any implants, pacemakers or artificial joints are recycled whenever possible, says Spade.

What exactly is it you do stand for?

Nadine Dorries' resignation letter suggests how hopeless it is to expect anything worthwhile from MPs.

Our commitment to net zero, animal welfare and the green issues so relevant to the planet and voters under 40, squandered. As Lord Goldsmith wrote in his own resignation letter, because you simply do not care about the environment or the natural world. What exactly is it you do stand for?

If the problems with Net Zero are not obvious now, they won't be until it is too late. If the silly glibness of phrases such as green issues so relevant to the planet is not obvious to all MPs then what exactly do any of them stand for?

Saturday 26 August 2023


HMV owner seeks £50m backing for Wilko rescue bid

The Range, a value retail chain, is in pole position to acquire Wilko's online operations if a deal with Doug Putman falls through, Sky News understands.

The owner of HMV has approached a number of debt providers to back a last-gasp rescue bid for Wilko, the ailing high street retailer.

It's a pity that Wilko seems to be going under. We find it useful for various odds and ends and visited our local store only this morning to rummage through any offers.

I bought an axe for chopping wood for the log burner. I already have a sound one, so I didn't need a new one, but it was so cheap I had to buy it. I also bought some AA batteries I don't need - cheap though.

It's called sustainable shopping, or shopping for the future. A somewhat distant future in this case, but be prepared, that's the sustainability mantra.

Maybe it's tired of fish

A sad story but also odd. Maybe the oddity is because we expect animals to be rational, at least within their limitations. Humans not so much.


When ignorance convergences

On the one hand, she had contact with the world of fashionable literature, on the other with that of fashionable ignorance. Mrs Lane’s house was a meeting-point of the two spheres.

George Gissing - New Grub Street (1891)

One of our major political issues is a convergence of misleading language around political and financial interests. Which is obvious enough to those paying attention, but we also see a negative convergence, a convergence of ignorance.

This latter convergence becomes apparent when a sceptic or sceptical organisation makes an observation which may be valid but politically unwelcome. Attacking the sceptic is a familiar response, but there are many situations where the sceptical observation is ignored. Ignorance, as Gissing pointed out, is often fashionable.

It’s an odd thing to describe, but political trends do create a convergence of ignorance supporting the trends themselves. It isn’t new - Socrates being an early victim. Yet how does something negative such as ignorance, how does it converge?

Ignorance clearly can and does converge as an integral part of a wider convergence of political interests, especially when there are linked financial interests as is usually the case. When the convergence is challenged, ignorance can be a common response – merely ignore the challengers and the challenge. Don’t analyse, don’t check, remain ignorant. There are arguments of course, but the most striking aspect can be the staying power of ignorance.

The media use it all the time, encouraging a convergence of ignorance around political trends and policies they support. The BBC makes great use of it, especially around its own role in obliquely promoting favoured political and social trends.

As a concrete example, we could consider Net Zero which has ridden a convergence of ignorance around sustainable energy. Now it seems to be colliding with an important reality where people are not ignorant – their own immediate welfare.

Friday 25 August 2023

It's not a secret


Return of the wine lake

France, EU to spend 200 million euros on destroying surplus wine

The French government announced Friday that 200 million euros ($216 million) would be set aside to fund the destruction of surplus wine production in a bid to support struggling producers and shore up prices.

Several major wine-producing regions in France, particularly the famed Bordeaux area, are struggling because of a cocktail of problems from changes in consumption habits, the cost-of-living crisis and the after-effects of Covid-19.

A fall in demand for wine has led to over-production, a sharp fall in prices, and major financial difficulties for up to one in three wine makers in the Bordeaux region, according to the local farmers’ association.

An initial European Union fund of 160 million euros for wine destruction has been topped up to 200 million euros by the French government, Agriculture Minister Marc Fesneau told reporters at a press conference on Friday.

The Outsourcing Formula

John Flesher has a useful CAPX piece on WHO diktats applied to UK baby formula milk regulations. Useful as yet another example of the UK government outsourcing UK government.  

The nanny state’s bizarre campaign against baby formula

Parents choose formula for all sorts of reasons: some women can’t breastfeed for medical reasons; others simply choose not to. I remember well the delight I felt at being able to bottle feed my daughter when my wife wasn’t able to breastfeed anymore – it was the first time I felt like I was an equal after months of someone else taking the burden. Whatever the reason, formula feeding is a perfectly valid choice.

But the Government clearly doesn’t see it like that. Infant formula milk – a lifeline for millions – cannot be advertised for babies up to six months old, nor can special offers or discounts, and customers cannot use loyalty points, gift cards or food bank vouchers to purchase it. With a tub of formula milk adding around £14.50 to a weekly shop, government policy on formula has a detrimental financial impact on those least able to bear it.

And why? Because the Government has swallowed wholesale the position of the World Health Organization – which has a less than impressive record of dispensing advice – that breastfeeding must be defended and promoted no matter what. Every pack of infant formula sold in the UK has to carry the advice that breastfeeding is better.

Thursday 24 August 2023

With the trust and knowledge

Kir Nuthi has an interesting CAPX piece on the opportunities for Britain in the age of AI. Interesting because it manages to be enthusiastic and inadvertently grim at the same time. It could almost be satire or written by AI. Maybe it's both.

Britain and its startups should lead the Age of AI

The age of Artificial Intelligence isn’t coming, it’s here. At the Startup Coalition, we talk regularly to startups already using AI to detect cancer, sequence as yet undiscovered drugs and improve customer service. The debate is no longer if, but when, AI will have succeeded in completely transforming life as we know it.

And it’s clear too that AI could make or break the UK’s economy. We already have a strong innovation ecosystem. We know this because we can see the numbers – over 1500 high-growth startups contributing more than 20,000 jobs and £1bn in revenue to the economy – and because the Startup Coalition has been meeting and talking with founders and startups almost every week this year.

Opportunities all over the place. Splendid, but after the enthusiasm here's the grim bit for those with a longer memory than goldfish -

With the trust and knowledge of partners like the Tony Blair Institute and Onward, and the diverse startups that make up the UK’s AI ecosystem, we’re sure we can take on challenge.

Times Change

Recently Mrs H and I were chatting about elderly folk who look like our parents in the way they dress. We still see a few of them around – fading links with another age.

Old men with trousers of a rather generous cut, shirts with collars and possibly a tie, leather shoes and maybe a blazer or a beige jacket. Elderly ladies with long pleated skirts, sensible shoes, blouse and cardigan.

We saw an old couple yesterday, reading while seated on a bench in the seaside sun. They could almost have been my parents but must have been younger by at least ten years. Unlike my parents, they could not have lived through the war as adults, but it could be said that they were from the same generation. Nineteen forties just about shading into the fifties.

Later we saw a man dressed as a woman in mini-skirt, high-heeled shoes, frilly top and handbag. He had a camera on a small tripod which he was using to take photos of himself in various careless poses. Mrs H said his glances suggested he was trying to attract attention.

Times change.

Wednesday 23 August 2023

Perambulating spheres of atmosphere

Bella Ramsey and Ben Whishaw sign up to Green Rider sustainability pledge

Actors including Bella Ramsey, Stephen Fry and Ben Whishaw have signed up to a pledge to cut the environmental impact of making films and TV shows.

UK arts union Equity has drawn up a "Green Rider" with eco-friendly clauses that can be added to contracts.

They range from avoiding private jets and big trailers to bringing their own water bottles and coffee cups on set.

She wondered if all actors were like that. Perambulating spheres of atmosphere with a little actor safely cocooned at the heart of each. How nice it must be, so cushioned and safe from harsh reality. They weren’t really born at all; they were still floating in some pre-natal fluid.

Josephine Tey - Miss Pym Disposes (1946)

Tuesday 22 August 2023

More bureaucracy - the latest placebo

Lucy Letby: NHS managers must be held to account, doctor says

Hospital managers should be regulated in a similar way to doctors and nurses, the senior doctor who first raised concerns about Lucy Letby has said.

Dr Stephen Brearey was the lead consultant on the neonatal unit where serial killer Letby worked and raised the alarm in October 2015.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme there was "no apparent accountability" for what NHS managers do in trusts.

Choking off dreams

Politics latest: Labour accuses PM of 'choking off dreams of next generation'; education secretary 'stands by' A-level comments

Sir Keir Starmer has said if he wanted to be able to study law today, the current economic climate would have "stopped my dream cold in its tracks".

Maybe "Sir" Keir should think about easing off on the political emetic pedal. He is in some danger of trying to present himself as a weird cross between Confucius and Little Nell.

Monday 21 August 2023

Gaming your identity

Rakib Ehsan has a useful CAPX piece on the identity games played by Sadiq Khan.

Anti-white bigotry is the inevitable consequence of Sadiq Khan’s toxic identitarianism

Not content with blaming the so-called ‘culture wars’ for the recent homophobic attack in Clapham, Sadiq Khan has now cemented his position as Labour’s identitarian-in-chief by embroiling himself in a race row.

It has been reported that on the Mayor of London’s website included a photo of a young white family with the caption ‘does not represent real Londoners’. Quite remarkable, given the image appeared in a guide to the Mayor’s personal brand, which describes the capital as ‘a city for all Londoners’ and promises to appeal to all – irrespective of racial identity, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, and family structure. Khan has said the caption was added by a member of staff and that it isn’t reflective of his view nor the position of the GLA.

It is worth reading the whole piece because it highlights the problem of providing pragmatic political oversight in the hopelessly divisive world of identity politics. It isn't restricted to ethnicity.

The reality is that ‘diversity, equality and inclusion’ all too often entails preferential treatment for certain groups at the expense of white people – and it is time more so-called ‘anti-discrimination advocates’ speak up against it.

Speaking up isn't going to work in a world dominated by identity charlatans and their useful idiots. The point about Sadiq Khan's identity games is that they are particularly easy to play. Political identity has always been easily gamed and successive governments have made it even easier.

How to solve the housing problem

North Korea is horribly fascinating in many ways, one of which is its absolute determination to meet official targets whatever the cost. It lies on the outer limits of target culture, but it is still target culture, essentially the same game our officials play.
N. Hwanghae Province tells new house owners to move in or face punishment

“These ostensibly new houses may look fine on the outside, but residents have to install the heating, put up the wallpaper and tile the floors by themselves," a source told Daily NK

The North Hwanghae Province People’s Committee is warning the recipients of newly built rural homes that they will be sent to labor camps unless they promptly move into their homes, Daily NK has learned.

The source said that many of the newly constructed houses in rural areas in North Hwanghae Province remain empty because the residents assigned to those houses have not moved in yet.

“The houses aren’t ready for immediate occupancy because septic tanks haven’t been built yet,” he explained.

Government officials who were determined to report the completion of the rural home construction plan in the first half of the year handed out residency permits for the new homes and carried out housewarming events before sewage facilities were even built, the source said.

Saturday 19 August 2023

Holiday destinations

For some reason, the holiday photos of other people are notoriously boring, however exotic the holiday. A social cliché perhaps, but maybe not a surprising one. It is not only the holiday destination itself which is important, but the sense of being away from it all. Other people’s holiday photos do not recreate that because obviously they can’t.

We’re on holiday at the moment, about 220 miles from home. Strolled out on our first morning for an early coffee, were caught in a brief shower of rain and mistaken for locals, but so far it’s all very relaxing and as a holiday should be. Another break from the routines and niggles of daily life.

I’ve often wondered how far we have to go to create that sense of being on holiday and away from it all for a week or two. This is an entirely personal view, but I’d say it has to be too far to travel there and back in a day under normal circumstances. On that basis, 220 miles is about right for us, even considering the speed of modern transport.

These days we find it isn’t necessary to travel further to recapture that sense of being on holiday. There is no need to bother with the tedious frustrations of air travel or drive vast distances to warmer climates. We’ve done that in the past but wouldn’t do it now. It's partly an age thing I suppose, but it isn’t merely the destination which makes a holiday.

Not Zero

New Zealand delays plan to tax cow and sheep burps ahead of October election

The government says the plan would offer New Zealand meat a competitive advantage, but farmers argue the sector is already reducing emissions.

The Labour government, lagging in the polls, on Friday pushed back the start date of its climate plan to price the greenhouse gases that come from agriculture.

It is always interesting when polls fail to respond rationally to political extremes. In a rational world the New Zealand Labour government would not only be lagging in the polls, its level of support would have dropped to zero. Not because taxing cow and sheep burps is stupid, but because it is so transparently stupid that no rational person could miss it. 

Yet we have to conclude that large numbers of people don't see it and that's interesting. Depressing, but interesting too. Mass conditioning is real and people can be induced to act against their own interests even if those interests are rational.

Friday 18 August 2023

The eBay disposal route

British Museum ‘knew three years ago that treasures were being sold on eBay’

An expert in antiquities was said to have spotted that a Roman onyx jewel on the online auction site was a piece pictured in the museum’s online catalogue.

He reportedly tipped off the museum in June 2020 and a senior member of staff said the matter would be investigated. However, the expert said he had heard nothing back and in October that year he wrote to a colleague in Britain to express his frustration.

He suggested at the time that the museum “may not be interested in knowing” because the thefts would be “hugely embarrassing” for them.

I expect the eBay disposal route was hugely embarrassing too. Shady collectors with the wealth and connections to pursue their fanatical dreams of the perfect collection - they would have gone some way to obscure the laxity of it all.

Meanwhile the government should consider keeping a closer eye on Hadrian's Wall.

Just another strategy

William Atkinson has a depressing but interesting CAPX piece on Nigel Farage's call for a Net Zero referendum. Depressing because it assumes Net Zero isn't already doomed by reality, interesting because it is an inadvertent reminder of how absurdly slanted the climate change debate has been. Presenting it as a comparatively equal contest between progressive and conservative political camps is just another strategy. 

Nigel Farage is wrong: calling a Net Zero referendum would create more problems than it solved

You would have thought that Tory MPs have had enough of referendums. Although Scotland voted No and Brexit did eventually get done, the years of rancour and bitterness spawned by those votes was enough to put one off single issue plebiscites for good.

Yet that hasn’t stopped a growing number of Conservatives from jumping on Nigel Farage’s bandwagon, urging Rishi Sunak to let voters have their say on the Government’s 2050 Net Zero target. Since the surprise Tory win in Uxbridge and South Ruislip, Net Zero sceptics (of whom there are many) understandably feel they have the public on side. Marco Longhi, the MP for Dudley North, says the case for a referendum is clear, ‘given the complexity of [the] issue’.

Atkinson is right of course. Even if a referendum vote were to go against Net Zero, it would make little difference. Net Zero has far too many vested interests, far too much money, far too many powerful people who will be relatively unaffected by its eventual failure.

Even the most committed opponents of Net Zero must admit that this would not be the fairest of fights. They risk losing a referendum and providing a hitherto absent legitimacy to a policy they loathe. They should also be honest about the consequences of a referendum for our democracy. Not only would a referendum likely pit the generations against each other – think Just Stop Oil-supporting millennials against aging Jeremy Clarkson enthusiasts – but it would toxify the debate over climate change. Camps would become entrenched – like in Scotland after 2014 – and a rational discussion of costs and strategies would become increasingly impossible, much as rational debate about Brexit has.

Rather than fling Net Zero open to the voters, the policy’s many critics would do better to try winning the argument within the Conservative Party. For though it has superficial attractions, calling a referendum on Net Zero would end up creating more problems than it solved.

Thursday 17 August 2023

Bunk Holiday

Keir Starmer backs calls for a Bank Holiday if the Lionesses win the World Cup despite Downing Street dismissing the idea

'It's almost 60 years since England won the World Cup,' he posted on the X website.

'I'm never complacent about anything… but there should be a celebratory bank holiday if the Lionesses bring it home.'

As "Sir" Keir has only recently discovered what a woman is, maybe his enthusiasm is understandable.  

Wednesday 16 August 2023

What would Mum say?

Alan Ashworth has an entertaining TCW piece on family sayings.

That Reminds Me – what would Mum say?

I HAVE recently re-read Blake Morrison’s award-winning 1993 memoir And When Did You Last See Your Father? and am reminded once again of our parallel lives...

What really resonates with me about the book is the family expressions. When Arthur Morrison had over-indulged at the pub, he would describe himself, as would my own father, as ‘a bit fresh’. No one ever farted, they trumped. And ‘too true’ was a phrase often used.

My wife Margaret, who adored my mum, has urged me for years to write down some of her sayings before they are forgotten for ever, so here goes.

If someone was in an angry mood, he would be ‘crammed as a wasp’.

And he would have ‘a face like a bad ham’.

If she was hungry she could ‘eat a scabby donkey’ and complained: ‘Me belly feels like me throat’s been cut.’

Well worth reading as a delve into past times and a reminder that we still need such idiosyncratic but pithy expressions. For example, one I recall from a source I've forgotten used in relation to gender politics - what would Genghis Khan do?

Tuesday 15 August 2023

Talking to dogs

Walking by the river Otter today, we came across a woman trying to explain to her dog why it should not venture into the water. Presumably because at that point the bank was very steep and muddy.

“If you go in there you won’t be able to get out again,” she explained.

In our experience, owners often talk to their dogs in this way. They don’t use simple commands they have trained their dog to obey. Instead they talk to them as they would talk to a child old enough to be reasonably familiar with everyday language.

Strangely enough it never seems to work. The dog by the river Otter plunged straight in even though a significant disadvantage had been clearly explained.

Sunken Lane


Went for a walk near Budleigh Salterton today. Rather warm along the cliff path, but here I am strolling through the shade of one of Devon's sunken lanes. 

Monday 14 August 2023

Voting by lopper

Watch: Anti-Ulez campaigner chops down enforcement camera with tree lopper

A so-called ‘Blade Runner’ has been caught on video chopping two Ulez cameras in the latest act of sabotage to strike the Mayor of London’s environmental scheme.

The vandal uses a tree lopper to remove the camera.

The shadowy figure ignores the crowd filming him and walks on before repeating the procedure on another Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) camera.

Apparently people sitting on busy roads to block the traffic is a protest while this is vandalism. Distinctions may be made of course, but similarities are more interesting.

Why Bad Ideas Succeed


Sunday 13 August 2023

Vibrancy Fund


The story behind the huge new mural brightening up Iron Gate

It's been painted on the historic old Foulds music shop building

A huge new three-storey front-facing mural - the first of its kind in the city - has appeared on the front of the historic Foulds music shop building on Iron Gate. It's the brainchild of artist Liz Le Drew, and came to fruition after her community project Thrivemind Village - hosted in the premises - was granted a sum of money from Derby City Council's Vibrancy Fund.

The Vibrancy Fund, subsidised by government funding, aims to "address the impact of Covid and decline in retail" in the city centre by "building pride in place" and "engagement in local culture and community". The fund aims to "support creative interventions by local artists into the fabric of the city" in the form of "decorated hoardings, painted streets, window treatments on vacant property, wall murals and installations."

Anxiety signalling

Here's what climate anxiety is doing to our minds

Feelings of stress and dread over climate change are very common, and should probably be even more so.

A survey by Gumtree found that, of 2,000 British participants, 74% said they feel climate anxiety.

Authors walk out of Edinburgh book festival event in protest at fossil fuel link

Authors have staged a walkout from the Edinburgh International Book Festival in protest at its links to “fossil fuel companies”.

Author and climate activist Mikaela Loach interrupted her panel discussion on Saturday evening to stand against the festival’s main sponsor Baillie Gifford, accusing them of investing in “companies who make money from fossil fuels”.

Clickbait headline

Rats in House of Commons are so out of control that pest control cat can't be deployed

Rats running rampant in the Commons means the house has been denied a pest control cat because there are too many toxic traps lining the corridors of power.

It made me smile - and click of course.

Saturday 12 August 2023

If it is a threat then it has to be defined

Tim Dieppe has a useful Critic piece on the term “far right”. Useful because it adds detail to what we already know - the term is meaningless unless it merely means "not on our side". 

Who exactly is “far right”?

If it is a threat then it has to be defined

Lord Pearson asked a parliamentary written question in June, asking the government whether it has “adopted a common definition of ‘far-right’; and if so, what it is.”

Lord Sharpe, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department replied on behalf of the government. He cited an Intelligence and Security Committee report which defines Far Right as “an umbrella term to encapsulate the entire movement which has a Far-Right political outlook in relation to matters such as culture, race, immigration and identity.” Lord Sharpe stated that the Home Office uses this definition.

What is extraordinary about this is that the definition is actually circular! “Far-Right” is defined as being “Far-Right” in relation to certain matters. One might have hoped that someone in the Home Office would be sharp enough to see the absurdity of this, even if Lord Sharpe and whoever advised him was not.

The whole piece is well worth reading because as Dieppe says - if it is a threat then it has to be defined. Of course, governments, political parties, official bodies, the media and many other powerful organisations like circular definitions, they are used to maintain dubious finger-pointing narratives.  

Just a few years back, in 2020, the same Intelligence and Security Committee released a report on Russia. Once again, the word ‘threat’ is prevalent with sentences like “The murder of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 demonstrated that Russia under President Putin had moved from potential partner to established threat.” Russia is thus a “non-native” threat, and the Intelligence and Security Committee is once again “far-right” in outlook according to its own definition.

But we didn't want all of them back

Harry Kane: Three Lions captain joins illustrious ranks of Englishmen to play abroad

The striker follows in the footsteps of the likes of Jimmy Greaves, Kevin Keegan, David Beckham and Gary Lineker.

Friday 11 August 2023


We're heading off on our hols early tomorrow morning, so probably no blogging until we've arrived, unpacked and whizzed off for a coffee. Maybe a cake too.

Oily Headline

Theresa Villiers: Ex-environment secretary failed to declare Shell shares

A former environment secretary has revealed she failed to declare tens of thousands of pounds of shares she held in oil giant Shell while in the role.

Tory MP Theresa Villiers said she had held a stake in the firm worth over £70,000 since February 2018.

But she only declared it last month along with similar holdings in drinks giant Diageo and finance firm Experian.

She "deeply" regretted "her failure to monitor the value of shareholdings", a spokesman told the Daily Mirror.

MPs are meant to declare all shareholdings worth over £70,000.

Eventually we find out what the problem was, the £70,000 limit above which the shareholding should have been declared, not that they were shares in Shell. 

A somewhat misleading headline but not a surprising one. Anyone expecting the BBC to keep them well-informed must be bonkers.

Thursday 10 August 2023

You decide whether its for your side or not

Douglas Murray hit the nail firmly on the head a few months ago where he said that in every US institution you assess a fact by whether it is for your side or not. We've always done it, thought we'd grown out of it and now we find we didn't and it's lethal. 

Straight from the horse's mouth

Hacked UK voter data could be used to target disinformation, warn experts

Data from Electoral Commission breach could allow rogue actors to create AI-generated messages in effort to manipulate elections

Data accessed in the Electoral Commission hack could help state-backed actors target voters with AI-generated disinformation, experts have warned.

AI systems aren't likely to match the Grauniad's expertise in disinformation for some time. Even when they do, AI output is likely to read like a Grauniad article.

Wednesday 9 August 2023

Do you believe in the Tooth Fairy?


Received Today


It’s a rum business

Imitation is a rum business. Even that first sentence is imitation. – can’t get away from it. My father used the word ‘rum’ and my phrase ‘rum business’ is imitation too. Even though I can’t recall a specific instance of him saying ‘rum business’, it’s certainly the kind of thing he would have said. Maybe his father did too. And his father…

We do not have to grapple with abstractions of the free will debate, it is enough to consider the daunting ubiquity of imitation. We know imitation very well indeed. Reflect on it for a moment or two and notions of personal autonomy become ghostly and insubstantial. Take it a little further and individuality may be reduced to specious defiance against the bleak winds of reality.

Scientific psychology is a part of physics, or the study of nature ; it is the record of how animals act. Literary psychology is the art of imagining how they feel and think. Yet this art and that science are practised together, because one characteristic habit of man, namely speech, yields the chief terms in which he can express his thoughts and feelings. Still it is not the words, any more than the action and attitude which accompany them, that are his understanding of the words, or his sense of his attitude and action. These can evidently be apprehended only dramatically, by imitative sympathy; so that literary psychology, however far scientific psychology may push it back, always remains in possession of the moral field.

George Santayana - Scepticism and Animal Faith (1923)

We vary in our inclination to imitate attitudes
We vary in our inclination for imitative sympathy
We vary in our inclination to imitate bad ideas

We must imitate to live, but it also feels like one of the great divides. Talking to yourself is what we know as thinking, so when we imitate language we imitate thinking, including bad ideas we aren’t aware of as bad ideas. To become aware of them as bad ideas we would have to acquire Santayana’s imitative sympathy with more sceptical language. Not something we do readily.

The point to be made about imitation is that it’s easy and universal. It’s the default response. It’s the great elephant trap of life, far easier to fall in than avoid by creative thinking where we put pieces together like a jigsaw. Creativity is somewhat unusual and even odd, but imitation isn’t.

Belief is the imitation of something specific in language and/or behaviour. Scepticism is both withheld imitation and the imitation of sceptical language. Even as a sceptic there is no escaping the essential need to imitate. Life would not make sense without imitation but the obvious problem is that it doesn’t necessarily make sense with it.

Imitation is fiendishly complex of course. We imitate the mores of family, friends, social class, profession, institutions, sports, celebrities. We imitate abstractions such as erudition, magnanimity, honesty, integrity or physical behaviour such as emotions and even illness. It’s vast and vastly complex and necessary. It usually works but can go horribly wrong.

It’s a rum business.

Tuesday 8 August 2023

Credible actions

‘Politicians will be judged on delivery of net zero strategy,’ UN climate chief tells world leaders

In an exclusive interview with the Standard, Professor Jim Skea said that political leaders had a “particular responsibility” as the “ringmasters or ringmistresses” to lead the battle against global warming, which he warned may be happening faster than expected.

He also emphasised that they would be judged as global leaders, or not, on tacking climate change by whether “net zero pledges are backed up by credible actions”.

Faster than expected eh? Presumably this would be faster than the previous "faster than expected" and also the one before that. 

Complicated, but Prof Jim clears it all up with the delightful suggestion that the whole thing is really a circus. Which we knew already and we know the difference between ringmasters, ringmistresses and clowns. 

As the implications of Net Zero seep into public awareness, one credible action may be to drop the clowns and the Net Zero strongman act altogether.


Cyber-attack on UK's electoral registers revealed

The UK's elections watchdog has revealed it has been the victim of a "complex cyber-attack".

The Electoral Commission said unspecified "hostile actors" had managed to gain access to copies of the electoral registers, from August 2021.

Hackers also broke into its emails and "control systems" but the attack was not discovered until October last year.

The watchdog has warned the public to be "vigilant for unauthorised use or release of their personal data".

It would come as no great surprise to learn that a man in a van simply walked in and carted off a load of servers. Still, we may see an unusually high turnout at the next general election. Well over 100% must be on the cards. 

Scan two words and move on

Climate change...

It's interesting how climate change has introduced marked efficiencies into daily media headline scanning. In this example it's a case of scanning two words before moving on. 

Editors must be aware of it, but still they have to do it. Sums up the whole game in a way.

Monday 7 August 2023

Tomkinson's Failure


Answering the phone would be a low tech start

NHS must embrace robotics and AI to be fit for future, surgeons warn

Some NHS trusts have embraced state-of-the-art surgical robots, while others are trialling more novel solutions like androids to transport medicines. Surgeons say the health service needs to fully embrace robotics and AI to be fit for the future.

Waiting lists for routine treatment, let alone complex surgery, have reached an all-time high this year as the health service grapples with a backlog made worse by the pandemic.

The situation has been compounded by a series of strikes by consultants, nurses and other staff, including the first major walkout by senior doctors in decades.

No doubt these things could help, but they miss the point if slotted into wasteful and inefficient admin procedures. A friend of Mrs H recently complained about having to call her GP surgery 60 times before she received a reply. Mrs H didn't mention our record of a little over 400 calls.

Many, many anecdotes suggest that basic low tech efficiency measures should come first. 

X marks the spots

'Disease X': UK scientists begin developing vaccines against new pandemic

The work is being carried out at the government's high-security Porton Down laboratory complex in Wiltshire.

Professor Dame Jenny Harries, the head of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), told Sky News: "What we're trying to do here is ensure that we prepare so that if we have a new Disease X, a new pathogen, we have done as much of that work in advance as possible.

"Hopefully we can prevent it [a pandemic]. But if we can't and we have to respond, then we have already started developing vaccines and therapeutics to crack it."

Quite a few hares running around there, especially as it seems to be ramping up work already done at Porton Down. 

One conclusion we may draw from past experience is that mainstream media will merely pass on a shouty version of official narratives. A related conclusion is that those narratives will be misleading. They will not reflect a diverse range of scientific opinion, opinion which will be safely hidden away in Porton Down. 

Apart from that, we may assume pandemics are to be a longer term bogey to scare and manipulate people. There are some obvious warfare, terrorist and bungled gain of function implications, but assessing those via the media and official sources won't be easy.

It's quite a conspiratorial stretch this one, but it is just possible that naming the thing as 'Disease X' was seen as a way to smear Twitter, or X as Elon Musk now calls it. 

Sunday 6 August 2023

A plague of pigeons

Alexander Poots has an entertaining Critic piece on the curse of the feral pigeon.

A plague of pigeons

When the magic of nature becomes a curse

I was at my desk, looking out of the window. A grey ball blustered past with a twig in its beak. Three minutes later, it was back with another twig. Then another. Aw, I said, it’s building a nest. So it was. The pigeon was building a nest next door, on the windowsill of the empty house. Aren’t birds wonderful, I thought. The magic of nature.

A week later, there were twelve of the bastards. This sounds like an exaggeration. It isn’t. I counted them: twelve. Within days, the gutters and downpipes of the house next door were glutinous with guano, as if plastered with pancake batter.

We mainly see wood pigeons in the garden and occasionally one becomes a sparrowhawk dinner. Which reminds me - years ago we used to see a stall in Derby market hall selling pigeons for the dinner table or presumably for pigeon pie which sounds tasty and traditional.

The feral pigeon is a seedy character. They should not be confused with wood pigeons. Wood pigeons are real beauty queens, plump and pretty and ready for the pie. You’d have to be desperate to eat a feral pigeon. Graphite plumage crawls with mites. Eyes are a traffic-light orange, with an oily slick of green at the throat. Chickpea brain whirs away, always alert for new shitting grounds.

Feral pigeons don’t just look rotten. They are rotten. In 2021, the British Pest Control Association found that 49 per cent carry a form of chlamydia that can be passed to humans. They cause other diseases, too. The worst is histoplasmosis. That’s when you get fungal spores in the lungs. Histoplasmosis can be fatal.

It were like Denley Moor yesterday

Saturday 5 August 2023

The other side of the looking-glass

Alex Story has a very useful Critic piece on the futility of UK and EU efforts to tackle the "climate crisis".

Killing the planet to save it

Our eco warriors have gone through the looking glass

In Through the Looking-Glass (1871), Lewis Carroll’s sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice climbs through a mirror into a world in which everything is reversed — including logic.

Increasingly, it feels like we have all climbed through the looking glass with Alice, into a dark parallel universe in which reason is turned on its head. In this new world, to save the planet, we must first destroy it.

We saw Mad Hatter examples of this earlier in the year. Last March Cambridgeshire County councillors voted to chop down hundreds of magnificent trees in Coton Orchard for a busway to “tackle climate change”. The orchard had been designated as a habitat of principal importance for wildlife in England. No matter: the trees had to go to save the planet.

A familiar problem, but the whole piece is well worth reading as a reminder that Net Zero is so absurd and so damaging that there is no point voting for a political party which is still intent on dragging us through the looking-glass. It's the only filter we currently need to focus on better alternatives. If there are any.

What is true for energy also holds for agriculture. Governments across Europe are working around the clock to fulfil their commitment to shift to a climate-neutral economy, whatever that might mean. Under the European Green Deal, the climate neutrality objective becomes a legal commitment for the 27 agreeing countries to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2030.

The implications are nothing short of revolutionary. In Holland, for instance, the government has spent considerable amounts of energy in an effort to forcibly expropriate its diligent farmers to reduce emissions by 50 per cent over the next seven years. Some of the most productive farmers in the world are in the process of being thrown under the bus to meet arbitrary targets — European food supplies and security be damned.

Seems inevitable really...

Seems inevitable really - sooner or later I'll have to find out who Lizzo is beyond the headlines. It's not a question of wanting to know, it's an effect of the internet. Once headlines are scanned, it is no longer possible to be entirely oblivious and somehow partially oblivious, knowing little more than the name isn't quite adequate.

I know - I'll put it off until we've been out for a coffee. Maybe then the headlines will have changed.

Lizzo's future is hanging in the balance - will she survive?

Lizzo has won four Grammys, an Emmy and single-handedly made it cool to play the flute - but it's her work to make being plus-sized a positive that won her a legion of fans. Now the star's facing multiple claims of weight shaming - all of which she denies.

Friday 4 August 2023

Risk assessment

Ian Acheson has a CAPX piece on the Greenpeace stunt on Rishi Sunak's home.

Greenpeace’s easy access to the Sunak home should be a serious wake-up call

Oliver Dowden has been a busy man this week. He’s been all over the studios talking about the first ever public release of the UK’s National Risk Register. This government tome lists and quantifies all the current big threats to the UKs security, how likely they may be and what’s being done to combat them.

Risk assessments at every level, but do they work? Apparently Oliver Dowden's didn't, but I wonder if anyone assessed the risk of giving the job to Dowden in the first place?

To recap, at 8am on Thursday Greenpeace released pictures of four activists draping Sunak’s home in black fabric to protest at the Government’s plans to issue new licences for North Sea oil exploration. Police were clearly taken by surprise. After a five-hour stand-off and negotiation, the protestors voluntarily descended and were promptly arrested.

Now, you might just see this as a bunch of tree-huggers playing an elaborate prank when they knew the PM and his family were abroad. That’s true, up to a point. But the serious point is that violent terrorists are on the lookout for any weaknesses.

A chap is bound to wonder if Greenpeace did their own risk assessment on the likelihood of falling off the roof or the chances of being shot. Maybe Oliver Dowden will demand their risk assessment and speak to them sternly if they don't have one.

Not enough sanity to make parody work

Greta Thunberg pulls out of Edinburgh Book Festival over 'greenwashing'

She had been due to attend an event at the annual festival on 13 August.

But she said she would now not do so because the festival receives sponsorship from the Baillie Gifford investment firm.

She claimed Baillie Gifford "invests heavily in the fossil fuel industry".

Baillie Gifford, which has sponsored the book festival for 19 years, said it was not a significant fossil fuel investor, with 2% of its clients' money invested in companies with some business related to fossil fuels compared to a market average of 11%.

A major problem here is that the accusation is too silly to criticise. Oil and its products are so embedded in our and Greta's lives, so essential to daily life that there is no obvious starting point. Parody is an option, but it isn't easy to capture the monumental silliness of it all.

For example, the BBC relies entirely on oil and its products. It does not have wooden TV cameras, lighting based on vegetable oil lamps or bamboo transmitters...

Nope - there isn't enough sanity in there to make parody work.

Thursday 3 August 2023

Joe's Keys


From Bill R

The Obama Factor

David Samuels has an interesting Tablet piece on his interview with historian David Garrow. It is based around Garrow's biography of Barack Obama’s early years - Rising Star. The piece is well worth reading but it's long - too long for a blog post summary so I'll just quote a few snippets.

The Obama Factor

A Q&A with historian David Garrow

There is a fascinating passage in Rising Star, David Garrow’s comprehensive biography of Barack Obama’s early years, in which the historian examines Obama’s account in Dreams from My Father of his breakup with his longtime Chicago girlfriend, Sheila Miyoshi Jager...

The idea that the celebrated journalists who wrote popular biographies of Obama and became enthusiastic members of his personal claque couldn’t locate Jager—or never knew who she was—defies belief. It seems more likely that the character Obama fashioned in Dreams had been defined—by Obama—as being beyond the reach of normal reportorial scrutiny. Indeed, Garrow’s biography of Obama’s early years is filled with such corrections of a historical record that Obama more or less invented himself...

The election of Joe Biden in 2020 gave the Obamas even more reasons to stay in town. The whispers about Biden’s cognitive decline, which began during his bizarre COVID-sheltered basement campaign, were mostly dismissed as partisan attacks on a politician who had always been gaffe-ridden. Yet as President Biden continued to fall off bicycles, misremember basic names and facts, and mix long and increasingly weird passages of Dada-edque nonsense with autobiographical whoppers during his public appearances, it became hard not to wonder how poor the president’s capacities really were and who was actually making decisions in a White House staffed top to bottom with core Obama loyalists. When Obama turned up at the White House, staffers and the press crowded around him, leaving President Biden talking to the drapes—which is not a metaphor but a real thing that happened...

Obama didn’t invent any of this stuff; he was just a wounded kid trying to figure out his own place in the world and get ahead. Still, looking back, it is hard to avoid the sense that Obama himself was exceptional. He was the guy chosen by history to put something in the American goldfish bowl that made all the fish go crazy and eat each other: America’s emerging oligarchy cementing its grip instead of going bust. The rise of monopoly internet platforms. The normalization of government spying on Americans. Race relations going south. Skyrocketing inequality. The rise of Donald Trump. The birth of Russiagate. It all happened with Obama in the White House.

Wednesday 2 August 2023

What about a slacker's nap?

Power naps enhance athletic performance, new study shows

A 30 to 60-minute midday snooze boosts physical and cognitive functions and alleviates fatigue, according to research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine

A recent study published in the respected British Journal of Sports Medicine analyzed evidence from 22 studies involving nearly 300 male athletes aged 18 to 35. The study’s findings indicated that athletes who took naps between 12:30 p.m. and 4:50 p.m. experienced improved cognitive and physical performance, assuming they slept normally at night.

The obvious question here, is whether or not any nap will do so long as it occurs between 12:30 p.m. and 4:50 p.m. For example, personal experience suggests that a bog standard afternoon slacker's nap doesn't dramatically improve cognitive and physical performance, unlike coffee and dark chocolate.

It's a serious matter because it is not at all obvious that our MPs know anything about power naps and members of the House of Lords appear to know even less. They seem far more likely to recharge their low voltage batteries with a slacker's nap, especially when something important is being debated.   

Confessions of a former Tory candidate

Simon Marcus has a very good TCW piece on the personally destructive nature of politics.

How politics can destroy your soul – confessions of a former Tory candidate

A FEW months ago I wrote here about how William Hague had become a Davos poster boy. I explained how influence and groupthink could turn a libertarian Thatcherite into a globalist, authoritarian technocrat.

Shortly afterwards, Hague completed one of the most astonishing U-turns in politics. In a dangerous step towards a Chinese-style social credit system, he joined Tony Blair to help him force ID cards on the public.

The whole piece is well worth reading, not because the insights offered are particularly new, but because corrupt political games have become so disturbingly invasive.

Most have no idea how this kind of thing can happen. Neither did I. But things have become clearer.

MPs, ministers, civil servants, special advisers, think tanks, quangos, NGOs, industry groups, unions, MSM, charities, lobbyists, consultancies and more are all the ‘crooked timber’ of humanity.

They need to be accepted. To belong. They are greedy. Angry. Ambitious. Fearful. Vain. Vulnerable. Most of them are utterly enslaved by ego. They want what they don’t have. They don’t want what they do have. They are easily manipulated.

But how? Huge incentive levers. Emotional, financial and moral. We all want power, status, popularity and wealth to some degree. We are all vulnerable to peer pressure. Many are attracted to ideas that promise a better tomorrow. That is why the Labour Party can rely on so many youth activists. Our ability to deceive ourselves knows no bounds.

Tuesday 1 August 2023

For those who don't travel by private jet

Prince Harry is not splitting from Travalyst as CEO breaks silence on new changes

Prince Harry is not parting ways with Travalyst, the enviromentalist tourism company he set up in 2019, after a statement from Chief Executive Officer Sally Davey confirmed he was still an "invaluable part" of the initiative.

From the Travalyst site -

We source reliable sustainability information about your travel options

…and supply it on the travel booking sites you already know and trust. Working with academics and travel experts, we strive to accurately define and represent what sustainability means across the industry; whether for a hotel’s operations, or against average carbon emissions for a flight.

This then allows our partners to display credible, easy-to-understand information, so that you have all the details you need to make better choices when you travel.

Flaky Fig Leaves

Is carbon capture and storage a fossil fuel industry fig leaf or vital for net zero plans?

Green groups warn CCS could help keep fossil fuel production in the long term - but supporters of the technology say it could make industries that can't be decarbonised, like cement production, far more sustainable.

Depending on who you talk to, carbon capture and storage (CCS) is either a fig leaf for the oil and gas industry or a vital part of the shift to net zero.

If you talk to a realist then the issue is simpler - CCS is absurd.

If you talk to a cynic then the issue is simpler still - CCS is a scam.