Monday, 21 January 2019

Allied No More

In bombing those who are fighting against the so-called Islamic State, Israel is actively fighting in support of it. After all, IS never attacks Israel. That has nothing to do with any "deterrent". Fanatics are not deterred. 

Rather, let us recall that Priti Patel wanted to divert British public money to an IS field hospital in the Golan Heights. This is an alliance. An alliance that is supported by most Labour and by almost all Conservative MPs.

Another hung Parliament is coming, however, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it. I will stand for this seat of North West Durham, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

Sanctioning For Ourselves

In imposing sanctions arising out of alleged chemical weapons use at Salisbury and Douma, the EU is acting as judge and jury on no real evidence at all. Indeed, it is acting directly contrary to the evidence.

It is also showing its own true nature, which some of us have always known.

A Chambers and Partners Band 1 legal practice is now on standby to pursue several actions, to begin immediately upon my election to the House of Commons.

One such is to bring about a Coroner's Inquest into the death of Dawn Sturgess, with whose murder neither the newly sanctioned Russians nor anyone else has been charged.

Another is to challenge the legality of the recent bombing of Syria after the confirmation by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons that no nerve agent had been used at Douma.

Another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it.

It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post.

I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

Cross, Examination

One in three victims of domestic violence is a man, but that is not the present point. Only convicted, and not merely alleged, perpetrators should be prevented from cross-examining their victims in the family courts, since only in that case have they been proven to be victims. Further to conviction beyond  reasonable doubt in a criminal court, yes. But further to mere allegation, no.

Another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it. I will stand for this parliamentary seat of North West Durham, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. By common consent, Labour, the Conservatives and I are each on 30 per cent support, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

Great Again?

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the Covington Boys incident, those MAGA hats at the March for Life did make the point that the pro-life movement was too close to the Republican Party.

That party has never done anything for it, and it holds and implements economic and foreign policies that are repugnant to Catholic Teaching. Policies, in fact, that are identical to those of the Clinton-Pelosi Democratic Party. As, for all practical purposes, are the Republican Party's policies on the issues addressed by the March for Life.

This problem has become particularly acute among Irish-Americans, as one strongly suspects that most of the Covington Boys were. Long the richest group in the United States, something that is rarely appreciated outside, they have largely forgotten their own radical history, and their own quite recent experience of extreme racial discrimination and violence. Nadir, at least for now, has been reached with the confirmation to the United States Supreme Court of a Justice of Brett Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh was unknown to the pro-life movement, which had submitted the names of dozens of potential nominees, all of which were rejected by a President who had previously been a major donor to Planned Parenthood. Republican Senators voted to confirm Kavanaugh after he had promised Susan Collins that he would uphold Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton, and Obergefell v. Hodges. They gave Collins's speech a standing ovation.

Thus did they secure a Justice with the most egregious record on torture, Guantánamo Bay, mass surveillance, workers' rights, consumer protection, environmental responsibility, healthcare for people with preexisting conditions, and, it must be said, treaties with Native Americans. On any one of those issues, Kavanaugh could have been blocked, with all Democrats and enough Republicans voting against him. But the Democrats chose to make it about #MeToo instead.

The confirmation of Kavanaugh will be the only lasting legacy of the #MeToo phenomenon. But that is another story. Or at any rate, it is a different chapter in the story of the baleful decline of both main political parties in the United States. Neither of them deserves a free pass. Or very much else at all.

Inner World, Not Outer Europe

And still they blather on about EFTA, as if it made them sound clever or well-informed. They do not really want to leave the EU, and they think that it only went bad at some point in the very late 1980s. But in any case, EFTA would never let us back in. There are two reasons for that. 

First, the sheer size our economy would unbalance the whole thing completely. And secondly, the only point of EFTA is, and has always been, as a holding centre for countries where the Political Class wanted to join the EU, but where enough of the electorate remained sufficiently unconvinced. Britain was the principal force in the creation of EFTA in 1960, when Harold Macmillan's Britain was exactly that kind of country.

To this day, 46 years after we left, EFTA's working language remains British Standard English. In global terms, that still packs something of a cultural punch, but it is now a niche provincial dialect from a commercial or a political point of view, and it is mostly known around the world for its picturesque eccentricities.

That was scarcely less the case in 1960, for reasons fundamental to the Conservative Government's desperation to join what Hugh Gaitskell had denounced as "the end of a thousand years of history", just as the Attlee Government had identified it from the very start as "the blueprint for a federal state", with Herbert Morrison rejecting membership of the European Coal and Steel Community on the grounds that "the Durham Miners would never wear it". Until they would wear it, and Macmillan also later called them "the best men in the world", then there would have to be EFTA.

10 countries have ever been members of EFTA, and six of them, including five of the seven original members, have left it in order to join the EU. Those seven original members used to be known as the Outer Seven, while the members of the EEC were the Inner Six. Neither in intention nor in effect has EFTA ever been an alternative to the EU, still less an equal or a rival. Both in intention and in effect, it has only ever been, and it will only ever be, a preliminary, Outer stage on the road to the eventual, Inner destination.

No country has ever left EFTA except to join the EU. No country ever will leave EFTA except to join the EU. That is exactly what EFTA is for. And no country that had ever left the EU will ever be allowed to join EFTA. That is exactly what EFTA is not for. I do not know why people who do not understand even these basic things are allowed to have a say over them, but another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it.

I will stand for this parliamentary seat of North West Durham, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. By common consent, Labour, the Conservatives and I are each on 30 per cent support, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

Unsettling

£241 million sounds like a lot of money, doesn't it? But it's not really. Not in the great scheme of things. 

And if every EU national living in the United Kingdom paid the £65 to stay, then, rounded up, that would be the sum of money that would come in.

The Government could have waived these fees completely, and no one would even have noticed. That is what it ought to have done.

Different Strokes

Ah, Stroke City, Derry/Londonderry. A city on the edge, and those are always "special" places.

If it did all kick off again, on either side, then it would all kick off again from there.

Toadmeister Watch: Day 38

I repeat my challenge to Toby Young to contest this parliamentary seat of North West Durham. Either that, or he has conceded every point here.

His party took 34 per cent of the vote at North West Durham last time. Labour, it and I are now universally accepted as being on 30-30-30, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post. 

But I do not stand against people. I stand for things. Another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it.

I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

This post will appear here daily until further notice.

Yaxley-Lennon Watch: Day 59

I warmly welcome Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, who calls himself "Tommy Robinson" but who would have to give his real name on the ballot paper, as the UKIP candidate for this parliamentary seat of North West Durham. Or, at any rate, as a candidate for this seat, of any party or none.

Either that, or he is running scared of the white working class. After all, I am mixed-race, and the sitting MP, who will presumably be the Labour candidate, has a mixed-race child. We are both impeccably middle-class (Google the house prices in Riding Mill, whence she hails), as the Conservative and the Liberal Democrat candidates will doubtless also be. 

From his own point of view, then, beating us ought to be a doddle.

Not that my candidacy is in any way conditional on his. Another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it. I will stand for this parliamentary seat of North West Durham, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

This post will appear here daily until Yaxley-Lennon officially runs away with his tail between his legs by denying that he is a parliamentary candidate for North West Durham.

Pidcock-Kamm Watch: Day 60

Either Laura Pidcock is proud that she is now Oliver Kamm's endorsed candidate for this parliamentary seat of North West Durham, or she will tweet the following:

"I reject the endorsement of @OliverKamm, and I have made a donation to @NeilClark66's legal fund against him," followed by the link to Neil's fund.

This post will appear here daily until that tweet has been posted.

Henig Watch: Day 66

Rather magnanimously, considering how he became the Leader of Durham County Council in the first place, the Durham Miners' Association has permitted Simon "Third Generation Who's Who Entrants Are Above The Law" Henig to sit on the platform of the last two Durham Miners' Galas.

On both occasions, he has of course shared that platform with the principal speaker, Jeremy Corbyn. It is therefore the least to be expected that @SimonHenig will tweet the simple formula, ".@jeremycorbyn is not an anti-Semite." This post will appear here daily until that tweet has been posted.

Councillor Watch: Day 67

Hilariously, the third attempt to put me on trial is due to begin on 1st April. That will be one year after the second failed attempt, and two years after I was charged. 

The only purpose of this whole business has been to stop me from standing for Durham County Council (failed), to stop me from being elected (succeeded, because nothing else would have done), and to stop me from standing for Parliament (also doomed to fail, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign).

No one, absolutely no one at all, has ever suggested that I committed the acts alleged, or even that those acts ever really took place.

Specifically, until such time as they notify otherwise to davidaslindsay@hotmail.com, then it is a matter of record that not only does every member of Durham County Council believe me to be innocent of the charges against me, but every member of Durham County Council believes that the acts alleged never happened in actual fact.

This post will appear here daily until further notice.

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Deal Ourselves In

Ministers who declare publicly that they would resign in the event of a No Deal Brexit are not being sacked, or in any way rebuked.

As Philip Hammond has already assured the Conservative Party's paymasters, and as Theresa May must have assured the Liberal Democrats, No Deal is already off the table.

Who or what is expected to rule that the law is that we leave the EU on 29th March, no matter what? The Supreme Court? Well, there you are, then.

And with May set to stand down in this Parliament, then the next Prime Minister is well on course to be Michael Gove, who is a supporter of her deal whatever the House of Commons might think of the matter.

If Theresa May so awful, then why is Jeremy Corbyn not 10 or 20 points ahead? Well, if Jeremy Corbyn is so awful, then why is Theresa May not 10 or 20 points ahead?

Another hung Parliament is coming, then, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it.

It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post.

I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

Toadmeister Watch: Day 37

I repeat my challenge to Toby Young to contest this parliamentary seat of North West Durham. Either that, or he has conceded every point here.

His party took 34 per cent of the vote at North West Durham last time. Labour, it and I are now universally accepted as being on 30-30-30, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post. 

But I do not stand against people. I stand for things. Another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it.

I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

This post will appear here daily until further notice.

Yaxley-Lennon Watch: Day 58

I warmly welcome Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, who calls himself "Tommy Robinson" but who would have to give his real name on the ballot paper, as the UKIP candidate for this parliamentary seat of North West Durham. Or, at any rate, as a candidate for this seat, of any party or none.

Either that, or he is running scared of the white working class. After all, I am mixed-race, and the sitting MP, who will presumably be the Labour candidate, has a mixed-race child. We are both impeccably middle-class (Google the house prices in Riding Mill, whence she hails), as the Conservative and the Liberal Democrat candidates will doubtless also be. 

From his own point of view, then, beating us ought to be a doddle.

Not that my candidacy is in any way conditional on his. Another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it. I will stand for this parliamentary seat of North West Durham, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

This post will appear here daily until Yaxley-Lennon officially runs away with his tail between his legs by denying that he is a parliamentary candidate for North West Durham.

Pidcock-Kamm Watch: Day 59

Either Laura Pidcock is proud that she is now Oliver Kamm's endorsed candidate for this parliamentary seat of North West Durham, or she will tweet the following:

"I reject the endorsement of @OliverKamm, and I have made a donation to @NeilClark66's legal fund against him," followed by the link to Neil's fund.

This post will appear here daily until that tweet has been posted.

Henig Watch: Day 65

Rather magnanimously, considering how he became the Leader of Durham County Council in the first place, the Durham Miners' Association has permitted Simon "Third Generation Who's Who Entrants Are Above The Law" Henig to sit on the platform of the last two Durham Miners' Galas.

On both occasions, he has of course shared that platform with the principal speaker, Jeremy Corbyn. It is therefore the least to be expected that @SimonHenig will tweet the simple formula, ".@jeremycorbyn is not an anti-Semite." This post will appear here daily until that tweet has been posted.

Councillor Watch: Day 66

Hilariously, the third attempt to put me on trial is due to begin on 1st April. That will be one year after the second failed attempt, and two years after I was charged. 

The only purpose of this whole business has been to stop me from standing for Durham County Council (failed), to stop me from being elected (succeeded, because nothing else would have done), and to stop me from standing for Parliament (also doomed to fail, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign).

No one, absolutely no one at all, has ever suggested that I committed the acts alleged, or even that those acts ever really took place.

Specifically, until such time as they notify otherwise to davidaslindsay@hotmail.com, then it is a matter of record that not only does every member of Durham County Council believe me to be innocent of the charges against me, but every member of Durham County Council believes that the acts alleged never happened in actual fact.

This post will appear here daily until further notice.

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Gove Us This Day?

Forget about Boris Johnson. That fading television light entertainer is the backbench MP for a previously safe seat that he has single-handedly turned into a marginal. Inexplicably, JCB still felt the need to treat him as a VIP. But no one will be doing that in 12 months' time.

Tom Watson is a better speaker than Jeremy Corbyn (whose Midlands accent comes out when he is riled, I notice), and Michael Gove is a better speaker than Theresa May. When she is riled, as she very often is, then she just becomes even more Theresa May. 

Corbyn and May both deserve credit for having given the job of winding up the No Confidence debate to Watson and Gove. In so doing, Corbyn declared that he continued to endorse Watson as his Deputy, while May anointed Gove as her preferred successor, meaning that she intends him to become Prime Minister before the end of the present Parliament, almost certainly without a Leadership Election.

What, then, did our next Prime Minister have to say? What can we expect when 10 Downing Street is occupied by the man who carried out one of the two biggest nationalisations in British history, that of the entire English state schools system, surpassing even the Conservatives' nationalisation of almost all criminal prosecution in England and Wales, even the Conservatives'  nationalisation of the courts services there, even the Conservatives' nationalisation of much or most of criminal defence there, and even the Conservatives' nationalisation of the setting of business rates, while ranking even with New Labour's nationalisation of planning and compulsory purchase?

The first three of those eventually and inevitably necessitated the abolition of the office of Lord Chancellor as it had previously existed, although of course the title and the costume were retained, since what had been turned into one of Whitehall's biggest spending Departments needed a Secretary of State drawn from, and accountable to, the House of Commons. In time, that Secretary of State came to be Michael Gove.

So, as he stands on the threshold of the Premiership, what did Gove have to say? That he endorses the present Prime Minister's Blairite domestic policy agenda shorn of her previous Milibandism, as articulated in her own speech at the start of the debate. And that he is also a Blairite in foreign policy, in that he remains exactly the neocon Crazy that he was 15 years ago. Most of those have at least partially learned their lesson by now. But not Gove.

He railed that Jeremy Corbyn would leave Britain with "no Army", but the present Government is already doing a pretty good job of bringing about that state of affairs. Gove indulged in the Russia-baiting that is the mark of an irreconcilable supporter of Hillary Clinton. Everyone has always talked to the IRA, whether or not they have admitted it. The DUP has been doing little else for many years, and the Queen has them IRA to stay overnight. Everyone in the field talks to Hamas all the time. If Hezbollah were not in the Government of Lebanon, then there would be no Government of Lebanon, and there is a Government of Lebanon.

The IRA long ago gave up killing people in Britain, while Hamas and Hezbollah, like any political faction from Latin America, have never done so. By the starkest of contrasts, this Government maintains the closest possible relations with Saudi Arabia, the agents of which are one of this country's two main internal security threats, while Gove also has longstanding ties to the Far Right world of Thomas Mair, no lone wolf he, which is the other such threat, and which alone has murdered a sitting Member of Parliament in the last 29 years and counting.

Wreath-laying is an interesting one, if you really want to go as far back as Black September. If you were old enough to vote in 1972, then you are now at least 65. But in May 1985, Ronald Reagan laid a wreath at the Waffen SS cemetery in Bitburg. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush laid wreaths at Confederate monuments every year that they were the Governors of Arkansas and Texas respectively, and they both sent Presidential wreaths to the Confederate Memorial at Arlington every Confederate Memorial Day. Hell, even Barack Obama did that, although he also sent one to the African American Civil War Memorial. The Queen laid a wreath to the IRA when she went to Dublin. There is no point trying to suggest that it was somehow "a different IRA". A what?

But when Prince William recently stayed at the King David Hotel, then he made no recognition of its history. Just as there is no monument to those, mostly young conscripts, who fell in and for the British Mandate of Palestine. Just as no one ever mentions the USS Liberty. And just as no one ever mentions Israel's arming of Argentina during the Falklands War, an explicit act of anti-British revenge by Menachem Begin. Gove is a very strong supporter of Israel, and an outspoken proponent of the view that all criticism of it is by definition anti-Semitic. As is May, if only because, unlike Gove, she neither knows nor cares anything about foreign policy; for a Geography graduate, she is stunningly uninterested in the wider world. And as are most Labour MPs, who are also fanatical, if well-compensated, supporters of Saudi Arabia.

But all is not lost. If Theresa May so awful, then why is Jeremy Corbyn not 10 or 20 points ahead? Well, if Jeremy Corbyn is so awful, then why is Theresa May not 10 or 20 points ahead? It has nothing to do with who leads either party that all polls have pointed to a hung Parliament since the day that the present one was elected. The polity of England and Wales is becoming, if it has not already become, pillarised to an extent that recalls Northern Ireland or Lebanon. The same is true, but in a different way, of the polity of Scotland. Therefore, a General Election across the three polities of England and Wales, of Scotland, and of Northern Ireland, is not merely likely to produce a hung Parliament. It is bound to do so. Such an outcome is inevitable.

No one has become Prime Minister on the back of having just won an overall majority since 1997, 22 years ago. No party has won an overall majority within the law since 2005, 14 years ago; in 2015, the prosecution service that the Conservatives had nationalised decided not to prosecute that party for criminality that it openly admitted then and which it openly admits now. Within the law, the Conservative Party has not won an overall majority since 1992, a whopping 27 years ago. This side of Scottish independence, British withdrawal from Northern Ireland, and up to a dozen other improbable or impossible things besides, to all of which the electoral system itself is immaterial, no party that did not simply cheat could possibly win an overall majority for many decades to come.

Another hung Parliament is coming, then, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it. It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post. I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

Toadmeister Watch: Day 36

I repeat my challenge to Toby Young to contest this parliamentary seat of North West Durham. Either that, or he has conceded every point here.

His party took 34 per cent of the vote at North West Durham last time. Labour, it and I are now universally accepted as being on 30-30-30, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post. 

But I do not stand against people. I stand for things. Another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it.

I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

This post will appear here daily until further notice.

Yaxley-Lennon Watch: Day 57

I warmly welcome Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, who calls himself "Tommy Robinson" but who would have to give his real name on the ballot paper, as the UKIP candidate for this parliamentary seat of North West Durham. Or, at any rate, as a candidate for this seat, of any party or none.

Either that, or he is running scared of the white working class. After all, I am mixed-race, and the sitting MP, who will presumably be the Labour candidate, has a mixed-race child. We are both impeccably middle-class (Google the house prices in Riding Mill, whence she hails), as the Conservative and the Liberal Democrat candidates will doubtless also be. 

From his own point of view, then, beating us ought to be a doddle.

Not that my candidacy is in any way conditional on his. Another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it. I will stand for this parliamentary seat of North West Durham, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

This post will appear here daily until Yaxley-Lennon officially runs away with his tail between his legs by denying that he is a parliamentary candidate for North West Durham.

Pidcock-Kamm Watch: Day 58

Either Laura Pidcock is proud that she is now Oliver Kamm's endorsed candidate for this parliamentary seat of North West Durham, or she will tweet the following:

"I reject the endorsement of @OliverKamm, and I have made a donation to @NeilClark66's legal fund against him," followed by the link to Neil's fund.

This post will appear here daily until that tweet has been posted.

Henig Watch: Day 64

Rather magnanimously, considering how he became the Leader of Durham County Council in the first place, the Durham Miners' Association has permitted Simon "Third Generation Who's Who Entrants Are Above The Law" Henig to sit on the platform of the last two Durham Miners' Galas.

On both occasions, he has of course shared that platform with the principal speaker, Jeremy Corbyn. It is therefore the least to be expected that @SimonHenig will tweet the simple formula, ".@jeremycorbyn is not an anti-Semite." This post will appear here daily until that tweet has been posted.

Councillor Watch: Day 65

Hilariously, the third attempt to put me on trial is due to begin on 1st April. That will be one year after the second failed attempt, and two years after I was charged. 

The only purpose of this whole business has been to stop me from standing for Durham County Council (failed), to stop me from being elected (succeeded, because nothing else would have done), and to stop me from standing for Parliament (also doomed to fail, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign).

No one, absolutely no one at all, has ever suggested that I committed the acts alleged, or even that those acts ever really took place.

Specifically, until such time as they notify otherwise to davidaslindsay@hotmail.com, then it is a matter of record that not only does every member of Durham County Council believe me to be innocent of the charges against me, but every member of Durham County Council believes that the acts alleged never happened in actual fact.

This post will appear here daily until further notice.

Friday, 18 January 2019

Margin of Error

It is quite clear that the BBC now has an editorial position of describing Labour as "six points behind", even though only one polling company has shown any Conservative lead at all in the last 80 days.

The four most recent polls have shown a Labour lead of three per cent (Kantar), a Labour lead of two per cent (ComRes), a dead heat (BMG), and another Labour lead of three per cent (Survation). 

Of course, all of those are within the margin of error, and none of them would deliver an overall majority for either party. So another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it.

It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post. I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

Default, Indeed

"No Deal is the legal default position," you say? And which body do you expect to uphold it as such? The Supreme Court?

Philip Hammond has openly taken No Deal off the table in his assurances to the people who fund the Conservative Party.

Theresa May has clearly given Vince Cable the same assurance, since the Lib Dems have promised not to vote for another Motion of No Confidence in the present Government.

And the record of the Supreme Court is such that its likelihood of ruling that the United Kingdom automatically left the European Union on 29th March is simply nil.

This is where we are.

Another hung Parliament is coming, however, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it.

It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post.

I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

The Fifth Column

Yesterday, a mere 71 Labour MPs, barely one in four, joined 35 SNP MPs, 11 Lib Dems, nine Conservatives, four from Plaid Cymru, and the one Green, in calling for a second referendum on EU membership.

All told, that is one fifth of the sovereign House of Commons, which, as the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Gina Miller, alone expresses the Will of the People.

Yet a proponent of such a referendum appears, specifically as such, on every political programme. There are not, however, four explicit opponents of that position on every political programme.

Why No Deal Is The Real Deal


The defeat of Theresa May’s government this week by an unprecedented margin in an alliance between pro-Remain Labour MPs and no-deal Tories opens up a fraught 10 weeks in British politics. 

The clock is ticking toward March 29, when, deal or no deal, Britain will leave the European Union. Having lost a crucial vote by the highest margin in a century, on the following evening Parliament returned a vote of confidence in her government. These are unusual times.

In the House of Lords, barons and baronesses of the Labour movement ask me to sit down and explain how “anyone” could support Brexit. After half an hour and a cup of tea, they shake their heads in sorrowful incomprehension and drift back to their old friends. 

Bearing in mind that you may well agree with them, here is why I believe that leaving the European Union is the necessary goal of the left in Britain—and why staying in would doom us to a never-ending Clinton presidency in which the rich get richer and all change is good, unless it leads toward socialism. A progressive eternity of democratic impotence.

The European Union is the greatest capitalist project ever devised by the human mind. It guarantees, in treaty form, the free movement of capital, labor, goods, and services throughout its territory as a constitutional right. These are known as the “Four Freedoms.” 

Imagine NAFTA underpinned by a political union so that it would be illegal to resist capitalism. A union in which economic policy is decided not democratically—but by judges interpreting whether the policy is “treaty compliant.” 

Yet that is the institution supported by the vast majority of progressives throughout the continent—and the main cause of the palsy that has overtaken social democrats across Europe. They think political and economic liberalism as the legal form of globalization is the best you can hope for. That is the European Union. 

Whenever the left cannot make the distinction between globalization and internationalism, or democracy and populism, it loses working-class support in an orgy of legalistic self-righteousness. Give up on the democratic resistance to the domination of capital, and the meaning of socialism becomes obscure to a lot of people. 

The stakes are high in the Brexit impasse precisely because the working class has not been cowed by academic disapproval, editorial condemnation, or managerial contempt. The “basket of deplorables” have not given up on the idea that a democratic, self-governing nation is a better bet than the European Court of Justice. They are not changing their minds. 

The only reason the Labour Party has not gone the way of its European comrades is that in the last election it did “respect the result of the referendum” and advocated an industrial strategy calling for the active transfer of assets and capital to the deindustrialized areas of Britain in which people would make things—and not get fobbed off with a bicycle lane, a subsidized theater/museum/Internet space, and a call center. 

State aid is not permitted and nationalization is all but impossible under the rigorous competition law enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty of 2007. Sixteen of Labour’s core manifesto commitments would be illegal under EU Law. Labour campaigned in 2017 as if Britain was already out of the EU—and did far better than expected. Some commentators even filed the Labour Party under the dreaded heading of “populism.” The truth is that the EU makes democratic politics very difficult.

Were the UK to create regional investment banks, for example, to reverse the massive centralization of capital in the City of London, that would violate the “free movement of capital within the single market” that is one of the four freedoms that underpin the Lisbon Treaty. Indeed, that would be the whole point of the exercise: Regional banks would provide loans only within their region. Such constraints on the free movement of capital would be in violation of the state-aid rules and EU competition law. As capital centralizes, payday loaners abound throughout the provinces. 

Something similar would occur with a policy to renationalize Britain’s railways: EU rules don’t prevent nationalization as such—many European countries have thriving state railways—but they do require that any newly constituted public service comply with the market-competition rules that are the bedrock of the EU’s legal framework. This makes nationalization impossible to achieve. The direction of travel is clear: Renationalization is out. 

Brexit is a nut that the British body politic is finding very hard to digest—as Tuesday night’s vote would indicate. Perhaps the best way to understand the current situation is to say that Britain is going through an interregnum: a period when the consensus that previously united political parties and underpinned policy is publicly contested. 

Such a period is also an argument over sanity—over the limits and meaning of what it is reasonable to believe and do. Indeed, during such times, there is often a dramatic rise in “mental illness,” as people find themselves in a disorienting and unpredictable world. People feel worried about “where we’re going,” and they take legal drugs in order to cope with the reality of democratic politics.

Antonio Gramsci described an interregnum as a time “when the old is dying and the new cannot be born…in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms pertain.” In such periods the new is perceived as mad, bad, and dangerous to know. 

Cheap labor, cheap childcare, and cheap house-building are not the least of the benefits that accrue from globalization—and give a clue why many perceive it as not being a moral order, but rather a racket that benefits the mobile, the rich, and the educated. Brexit is a class issue, and as we have noticed in recent elections, far from the working class being an irrelevant relic of a previous civilization, it turns out you can’t win an election without them. The obdurate persistence of the working-class Brexit vote looms over the British interregnum. 

The paradoxes of the interregnum take the form of a Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who has been a lifelong Euro-skeptic becoming the tribune of Remain hopes, and a pro-EU prime minister, Theresa May, portraying herself as the champion of Brexit. They are also played out daily, as a democratically elected House of Commons opposes the result of a democratic referendum. 

We have a working class that does not trust Labour, and Conservatives who are resisting rule by an institution that would protect capitalism for all eternity. Morbid symptoms and moral panics abound. The realities of social segregation and the breakdown of a common life lead to the endless reinforcement of existing positions in the explosive noise of groupthink echo chambers.

Historically, the Labour Party is a recent convert to the European ideal. All its postwar leaders, and most of its leading politicians, from Clement Attlee to Tony Benn, Barbara Castle to Jeremy Corbyn, understood that joining the European Union would restrict the ability of a Labour government to challenge the domination of capital. 

The EU undermined democracy, accountability, and socialist policy. Left, right, and center all agreed on that—until Thatcher won in 1979. Labour lost a big argument during the last interregnum in the 1970s—and one response by the progressive left was to no longer trust working-class people to make the right choices.

In the early 1980s European Commission president Jacques Delors spoke to British trade unions about the benefits of a “social chapter,” with workers’ rights and working-time directives. Faced with the brutal reality of Thatcherism, it was a beguiling prospect. So Labour retreated from democracy and found refuge from the Thatcherite storm in a rights-based Europe. 

Under the leadership of Neil Kinnock, and then of Tony Blair, Labour came to embrace the “European ideal” as it relinquished any kind of industrial strategy, commitment to public ownership, or the conception of labor as a special factor of production. Under the “Third Way,” Labour abandoned a century of its own political economy and embraced capitalism. It was called “modernization” and “social Europe.” 

Only it turned out that the social chapter was written in the lightest of pencil—which any member could erase if they wished—while the Four Freedoms were ratified by treaty law under the seal of each national parliament. 

Competition law replaced industrial strategy, and so it came to be that the unmediated movement of people, money, and things through space became the highest goal of progressive European politics. It was built around social mobility, measured by how for away you had to live from your mum in order to get a job.

The fate of the Polish trade union Solidarity is a case in point. It defied the glum occupation of Communism in the name of workers’ councils, workers’ rights, and workers’ self-government—only to discover that the “self-governing republic” was no match for the European Union. 

Joining the EU required privatization and the unfettered pursuit of foreign investment through the implementation of “shock therapy.” Solidarity was liquidated. If there is no popular politics of the left that can resist the domination of capital, the right will move in. Today there is no representation of the left in the Polish Parliament.

The fundamental process of capitalism is to turn human beings and nature into commodities that are bought and sold in fluctuating markets. And yet human beings do not wish to be treated as commodities. The best way of resisting is through democracy—by educating, organizing, and agitating within the communities in which you live and work. That is what the Labour Party used to do, and from time to time it won elections and did big things. 

The ability to act decisively, with the power of a democratic mandate, to resist the domination of capital and redistribute wealth and power within a democratic society is the credo of socialism. That is both illegal and impossible within the European Union—and that is why the best hope for the left is to lead the opposition to it. It’s Labour’s only way out of the interregnum.

But the process has only just started, and there are tears ahead.

Toadmeister Watch: Day 35

I repeat my challenge to Toby Young to contest this parliamentary seat of North West Durham. Either that, or he has conceded every point here.

His party took 34 per cent of the vote at North West Durham last time. Labour, it and I are now universally accepted as being on 30-30-30, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post. 

But I do not stand against people. I stand for things. Another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it.

I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

This post will appear here daily until further notice.

Yaxley-Lennon Watch: Day 56

I warmly welcome Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, who calls himself "Tommy Robinson" but who would have to give his real name on the ballot paper, as the UKIP candidate for this parliamentary seat of North West Durham. Or, at any rate, as a candidate for this seat, of any party or none.

Either that, or he is running scared of the white working class. After all, I am mixed-race, and the sitting MP, who will presumably be the Labour candidate, has a mixed-race child. We are both impeccably middle-class (Google the house prices in Riding Mill, whence she hails), as the Conservative and the Liberal Democrat candidates will doubtless also be. 

From his own point of view, then, beating us ought to be a doddle.

Not that my candidacy is in any way conditional on his. Another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it. I will stand for this parliamentary seat of North West Durham, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

This post will appear here daily until Yaxley-Lennon officially runs away with his tail between his legs by denying that he is a parliamentary candidate for North West Durham.

Pidcock-Kamm Watch: Day 57

Either Laura Pidcock is proud that she is now Oliver Kamm's endorsed candidate for this parliamentary seat of North West Durham, or she will tweet the following:

"I reject the endorsement of @OliverKamm, and I have made a donation to @NeilClark66's legal fund against him," followed by the link to Neil's fund.

This post will appear here daily until that tweet has been posted.

Henig Watch: Day 63

Rather magnanimously, considering how he became the Leader of Durham County Council in the first place, the Durham Miners' Association has permitted Simon "Third Generation Who's Who Entrants Are Above The Law" Henig to sit on the platform of the last two Durham Miners' Galas.

On both occasions, he has of course shared that platform with the principal speaker, Jeremy Corbyn. It is therefore the least to be expected that @SimonHenig will tweet the simple formula, ".@jeremycorbyn is not an anti-Semite." This post will appear here daily until that tweet has been posted.

Councillor Watch: Day 64

Hilariously, the third attempt to put me on trial is due to begin on 1st April. That will be one year after the second failed attempt, and two years after I was charged. 

The only purpose of this whole business has been to stop me from standing for Durham County Council (failed), to stop me from being elected (succeeded, because nothing else would have done), and to stop me from standing for Parliament (also doomed to fail, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign).

No one, absolutely no one at all, has ever suggested that I committed the acts alleged, or even that those acts ever really took place.

Specifically, until such time as they notify otherwise to davidaslindsay@hotmail.com, then it is a matter of record that not only does every member of Durham County Council believe me to be innocent of the charges against me, but every member of Durham County Council believes that the acts alleged never happened in actual fact.

This post will appear here daily until further notice.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

No Deal Is Already Off The Table

It gives me no pleasure to say this, but it is clearly the case. No Deal is already off the table.

It has been a matter of record since yesterday morning that that assurance had been given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the financial backers of the Conservative Party. Those people, unlike the trade unions, have no sentimental attachment to any political party. They already work routinely in and with countries where much of what Jeremy Corbyn proposes is already in place.

They have more than survived British Governments that were well to the left of his present position, Governments that in any case have to hold General Elections within five years. They would be at the front of the queue for State Aid. He holds no terrors for them.

And today, the Liberal Democrats have undertaken not to support any future Motion of No Confidence in the present Government. Officially, that is unless Corbyn came out in favour of a second referendum. But that is like saying "unless the Moon turned into green cheese". 

The only real reason can be that Theresa May has given Vince Cable, who is her former Cabinet colleague, the same assurance that Philip Hammond has given to her party's paymasters. After all, she is still emphatically ruling out a second referendum, too. So why, if that were the real reason, would the Lib Dems not vote to bring her down?

Another hung Parliament is coming, however, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it. It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post. I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

Alive With Political Discontent

Larry Elliott writes: 

The pound rose, and all was calm on the stock market. As far as the financial markets were concerned, the message was clear: the voting down by MPs of Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement means a delayed Brexit, a softer Brexit or perhaps no Brexit at all.

Those with serious wealth in Britain have always been worried that Brexit will lead to radical change. They now think that there will be a perpetuation of the status quo – or something not far removed from it. Hence the pound getting stronger. 

There’s no question that opting for the quiet life has its attractions. There would be a boost to the economy as companies decided to push ahead with investment plans that had been delayed while the outcome of Brexit was uncertain. 

And, of course, any economic costs of no deal would be avoided. If the Bank of England is to be believed, these could be very high indeed. 

Just before Christmas, the Bank said the economy could shrink by 8% in the event of a disruptive no-deal outcome – a bigger recession than that seen when the global financial system came close to meltdown in 2008. 

But this was a worst-case scenario and the Bank had to throw in the kitchen sink to arrive at it.

The idea, for example, that interest rates would rise by four percentage points after a no-deal Brexit is implausible. More likely, the Bank would join with the Treasury in using every available policy tool – including lower interest rates – to boost growth.

More realistic projections have been provided by the consultancy firm Capital Economics.

It forecasts that the economy will grow by 1.4% this year if May’s deal is eventually agreed, by 1.5% if a delay to the article 50 process leads to a softer Brexit, and by between 1% and -0.2% in the event of no deal, depending on whether it is orderly or not.

Still a cost, in other words, but much more modest. Even so, why bother suffering any cost at all if it can be avoided by leaving things as they are? That seems like a reasonable argument, but in reality it is based on a series of doubtful assumptions.

The first is that voters care only about economic growth. But if that were the case, they would support fracking and concreting over the green belt, both of which would lead to higher levels of activity.

The second – voiced by business lobby groups – is that it is not possible to do better than the status quo because unemployment is low, real wages are growing, the City is the world’s financial hub and the UK is an attractive destination for inward investment.

The third – shared by the European commission and some in the remain camp in the UK – is that there is nothing much wrong with Europe either. The EU is the world’s biggest market; the four freedoms allow for the movement of goods, people, money and services across the continent; and the euro has been a success.

Yet in reality the UK has malfunctioned badly since the 2008 financial crisis, suffering a prolonged period of weak productivity growth and flatlining living standards. Investment has been weak. Most of the jobs created have been low-wage and low-skill.

As for the rest of Europe, the eurozone was even slower to recover from the crash, in part because of the design flaws of monetary union and in part because its addiction to neoconservative economic dogma resulted in supercharged austerity programmes.

Brexit, the gilets jaunes protesters in France, the terrible pain inflicted on Greece and the support for the League/Five Star government in Italy all tell their own story. Europe is alive with political discontent that reflects the demand for deep and urgent reform, but the chances of getting it are less likely if the status quo prevails.

Why? Because the forces of conservatism are strong. Change comes about only when the pressure for it becomes too great to resist. The financial crisis provided one such opportunity to reform an economic system that for many people clearly wasn’t working; Brexit was a second.

The left’s case for Brexit has always been based on the following notions: the current economic model is failing; socialism is needed to fix it; and the free-market ideology hardwired into the EU via the European Central Bank, judgments of the European court of justice and treaty changes will make that process all but impossible without a break with the status quo.

It is theoretically possible that in the event of a “Brexit in name only” or no Brexit at all, policymakers will push ahead with what’s needed in order to make a reality of the slogan “a reformed Britain in a reformed Europe”.

Possible but not all that plausible, given that it would require breaking up the euro, more autonomy for individual countries to intervene in the running of their economies, and a simultaneous philosophical U-turn in the big member states.

Much more likely is that the pressure for change will dissipate and the real grievances of those who voted for Brexit will be quietly forgotten. The softer the Brexit, the more convinced the EU will be that it has been doing the right thing all along.

Britain will not go up in flames, but there will still be consequences. Leave voters will feel they have been victims of an establishment stitch-up. The anger will not go away and will eventually resurface.

The risk is that the losers will be the biggest supporters of the EU – the liberal left. And the biggest winners will be the extreme right.

A Considered Decision

Although he is largely wrong about the relationship between the economic and the political (Remain lost because it did not realise that poverty was not a political threat when it was directed as such at people who had already been in it for decades), Phil Mullan writes:

Summing up the House of Commons debate over the Withdrawal Agreement on Tuesday, UK prime minister Theresa May began by declaring that this was a debate ‘about our economy’. 

Brexit: that it is primarily a matter of economics. ‘Economics’ has been used throughout the Brexit discussion to evade the fundamental political significance of what is going on.

It is true that the politics and the economics of a country do not exist in splendid isolation.

In fact, for Britain and all other mature capitalist countries, economic outcomes since the late 19th century have been increasingly meshed with the policies and activities carried out by their respective apparatuses of state.

Over the decades, often prompted by economic difficulties, economic performance and state measures have become more closely entwined.

Take how economic growth rates have become so conditioned in recent years on the operation of central-bank monetary policies. Or the way the public and private sectors have become so interconnected.

Last year’s surge of troubled financial news about many British public-service outsourcers – including Interserve, the Kier Group, and of course Carillion – is just one manifestation of how businesses have become ever more dependent on government, both financially and through regulation.

However, recognising this intertwining of the political and the economic is very different to the fashion these days of suggesting simplistic cause-and-effect links between them. Politics is not the cause of economic phenomena.

Recent expressions of political conflict – such as in Britain and France – are not the big risk to economic growth that so many economic forecasters have suggested.

Nor are the non-conformist political actors within some Western governments, such as in Italy or the United States, significant drivers of economic developments within those countries or beyond.

The idea that economics shapes politics is just as unhelpful for understanding the contemporary world. Economics is not the cause of political change.

Political trends, not least the recent rise of popular anti-establishment forces across the Western world, are not, as is often asserted, responses to economic decay.

Previous generations have put up with much worse material hardships without openly denouncing their elites as being patronising, out-of-touch technocrats.

Proffering narrow economic explanations for political dissent distracts from the deeper cultural and political factors behind things like the Brexit vote, or the emergence of the gilets jaunes in France.

Nevertheless, economics has dominated the Brexit debate. 

As is well covered in other articles on spiked, Brexit is a matter of supreme political import. Initially, until the referendum vote, the discussion was primarily about national sovereignty.

Since then it has also become a fundamental issue of democracy, because of the way politicians of all stripes have sought to deny the country’s expressed wish. 

Yet over the past two-and-a-half years these core political issues have been muddied and belittled by economic assertions.

This has come largely from politicians wedded to remaining in the European Union, but also from many on the Leave side. 

The pros and cons of membership are largely talked about in terms of economics: of the impact on flows of trade, investment and labour, and the economic consequences of upsetting the status quo. 

In fact, the economic implications, negative or positive, of leaving the EU are a minor sideshow compared to the genuine and grave economic challenges Britain faces, as I discussed here. 

Regardless, poor economic arguments continue to dominate. 

Now that the Withdrawal Agreement has been rejected by the British parliament, this is shaping discussions about what might happen next. 

At this late stage there is only one realistic course that fulfils the referendum decision: to leave the EU on 29 March, the end of the Article 50 period.

Yet this straightforward path is being maligned by alarmist claims, again chiefly about the economic effects.

Leaving without a formal Withdrawal Agreement does not mean ‘crashing out’ or ‘jumping off a cliff’, or any of the other pejorative phrases about the possible economic consequences.

All leaving means, economically speaking, is that Britain will no longer be trading with, and its businesses connecting with, other EU countries on the terms set by the rules of the EU Single Market and Customs Union.

This was always going to be the consequence of implementing the Brexit vote.

Government and businesses, as well as individuals, could and should have been preparing for that change ever since 24 June 2016.

If, in places, this has not happened yet, that cannot be blamed on the Leave vote itself. It comes from the paralysis engendered by a collective fear of change.

Since the 1980s a profound attachment to the status quo has taken hold in the Western world, which has taken many forms: in this instance, it is an attachment to the supposed comfort blanket of EU membership.

As some of us argued straight after the referendum result, British negotiators should have insisted on transitioning into a free-trade agreement immediately after the Article 50 period: a ‘Canada +++’ trading arrangement, as it has been dubbed.

But the British government instead quickly gave in to the EU’s position that it would only start to negotiate post-exit trading arrangements after departure.

This was a political decision made by the EU leadership.

It was not something prescribed by Article 50, which simply states that the EU ‘shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with [the departing] state, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union’.

The British government’s capitulation on this sequencing came very early in the negotiations.

Therefore, while not ideal, businesses have been aware for almost two years of the possibility of tariffs after exit, in the period before any free-trade agreement is signed.

We should note that even without a Withdrawal Agreement, UK-EU tariffs are not inevitable.

Article 24 of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) – of which both the UK and EU are members – allows for interim tariff arrangements to be put in place between two parties for up to 10 years prior to the conclusion of a trade agreement.

Maintaining the existing zero-tariffs regime would be the sensible interim position between the EU and Britain.

But there are plenty more reasons why the change in economic relationships that should happen on 30 March is perfectly manageable, and won’t provoke a crisis:

You don’t need a trade deal to trade

Many countries are able to trade with and invest in the EU without being part of the Single Market or the Customs Union, including the United States, China, Japan, India, Canada, Russia and Brazil.

Why should Britain, with the benefits of it proximity to mainland Europe and its experiences before and during EU membership, be unable to do so?

Sovereign countries have interacted economically for centuries without the necessity for formal trading arrangements.

Britain itself was a major economic partner with Western Europe before it joined the Common Market in 1973. Why can’t this continue when it leaves?

If Britain were to do less well in EU markets in the future than other ‘third countries’, this would be due to Britain’s internal economic problems, not to being in or out of the Single Market.

Europe isn’t the world

Britain is not just an island, as the HSBC advertisements say. It is a practised international economy.

Today, more than half of Britain’s trade and foreign direct investments are outside the EU and the countries with which the EU has concluded preferential trading arrangements.

Operating without Single Market membership is not therefore an unfathomably difficult or onerous thing to do.

Otherwise why would Britain’s trade and overseas investment be growing faster with countries beyond the EU than with those within it?

It is true that most British businesses despise the disruption and cost of having to make changes as a result of Britain leaving the EU, especially without a Withdrawal Agreement.

But businesses could and should adapt to the new set-up.

Business leaders’ fear of change has contributed to Britain’s slow-drift, low-productivity, zombie economy.

Opposing Brexit is as absurd as their equivalents in the 19th century opposing the electrification of workplaces.

How many of them would have argued then that ‘we must avoid the catastrophe of such disruptive change, we must stick with the stability of steam power and gas lighting’?

Other agreements are already in place 

There are multiple existing bilateral and multilateral arrangements, beyond mutual WTO membership, which already exist to facilitate international activities between sovereign states. Some of these are already in operation. Others need to be activated by 29 March.

No Deal is therefore itself a misleading phrase. It is a short way of saying No Withdrawal Agreement, and deciding to deal with post-Leave relationships sector-by-sector, issue-by-issue. This of course is how most other countries deal with the protectionist EU.

Peter Lilley and Brendan Chilton have provided a powerful, blow-by-blow riposte to the supposed catastrophic dangers of leaving the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement.

They explain why sensible preparations mean there is no substance to fearmongering about planes not flying, medicines running out, or the return of high mobile-phone roaming charges when travelling in the EU.

They conclude their extensive list of ‘truths’ by rejecting the claim that British bands will be unable to tour and perform in the EU. American singers, Chinese circuses and Russian ballet companies perform in Britain every year.

How come all these non-EU acts are able to perform in an EU country? Because of the ATA Carnet, an international customs document, which allows the temporary importation of professional equipment.

The fee to obtain one is a few hundred quid for 12 months. Lilley and Chilton end by reminding us that The Beatles were able to go to and from Liverpool and Hamburg long before the UK joined the European Community.

Even after Brexit, British performers will find it even easier post-Brexit to cross borders into the EU than back in those ‘good old days’.

Don’t fall for the ‘no preparation’ stories, either.

Probably the biggest and likeliest inconvenience to British businesses trading with EU countries, including manufacturers relying on cross-border supply chains, is extra congestion on the Calais-Dover route.

Nevertheless, the possible disruptions at Dover are unlikely to be much worse than businesses are already used to.

They already have plenty of experience of coping when snow blocks roads, industrial action disrupts ferries, or there are technical breakdowns in the Channel Tunnel.

What’s more, Lilley and Chilton explain the measures already taken by the end of last year both in Britain and in France, and elsewhere by EU countries, to mitigate such congestion.

They report on the French authorities’ plans to avoid blockages at Calais, and the HMRC assurances that it will not need to carry out additional checks at Dover.

Yes, being outside the Customs Union means that businesses and hauliers will have to complete customs declarations.

But these can be dispatched electronically in advance, cover data that is already mostly recorded and reported, and be checked automatically by the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight central computer in Salford.

Brexit is not the problem Leaving Europe without an overall Withdrawal Agreement is of small economic concern compared to Britain’s serious long-running economic problems.

Inadequate business investment over many decades has led to low-level and sluggish productivity growth.

This can’t be blamed on the EU, or on anxieties about leaving the EU. Leaving on 30 March would neither aggravate nor resolve any of these established problems.

All it would do is remove the ‘fear of Brexit’ as one of the many excuses used to avoid dealing with them.

No doubt a more far-sighted and less technocratic government would have done much more to oversee its own official preparations, and would have given more of a lead to businesses for their preparations.

The government, for instance, could have responded much better to business requests to promote and simplify the Trusted Trader, or Authorised Economic Operator, status for EU-only traders.

This allows certain checks on vehicles, drivers and customs classifications to take place inland, or at a later date, rather than at ports.

Certainly, unforeseen problems may arise at the end of March, or measures taken to mitigate congestion and other logistical and administrative issues may prove inadequate.

Some businesses may show themselves to have slipped up in preparing for foreseeable problems. But if any of this were to happen, it would be a failure of planning and preparedness.

It would not be the inevitable result of the electorate making a considered decision in favour of sovereignty.

Still Time To Save Lanchester Post Office

Yet again, the cash machine outside Lanchester Spar is out of order. Yet it is to be the only cash machine in the centre of Lanchester once the Post Office is moved into Spar.


A dodgy consultation period over August. And then a letter declaring the predetermined conclusion. But now, this. Proposing to put in the disabled ramp, bell and signage is a change to the original proposal, so they seem to be saying that they have to consult again. Dated in December, whereas the letter was undated.

This is a long shot, but it is not impossible. It is worth a try. In 2021, do not vote for any County Council candidate in this ward who had not fought this fight to the end. Do vote for the best placed candidate who had. That will not be me, by the way. But of that, another time.

Going Nuclear

Of course no one company could bear the cost of a nuclear power station, of which this country needs many more, along with the exploitation of its vast reserves of coal, providing the backbone of an all-of-the-above energy policy.

This is what we have a State for, to deliver high-wage, high-skilled, high-status, unionised jobs while securing independence from Arab oil, Russian gas, and coal that is mined using child and slave labour, including the North Korea from which Donald Trump intends his dynasty to supply a dependent world deep into the twenty-second century.

Another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it. It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post. I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

Serious Business

A No Deal Brexit would hold no terrors for Jeremy Corbyn, but it is the only thing that terrifies the people who fund the Conservative Party.

Corbyn himself certainly does not. They have more than survived Governments well to the left of anything that he proposes these days, and they do business in countries where much of what he envisages is already in place.

Another hung Parliament is practically certain. The Conservatives had a larger poll lead at the beginning of the last General Election campaign than anyone gives them today, and look how that turned out. In any case, there would have to be another General Election within five years. Whereas a No Deal Brexit would be forever, or at any rate for an awful lot longer than one Parliament.

Moreover, unlike the unions and Labour, they have no sentimental attachment to their party. They have no qualms about turning off the cash tap. It is not a familial relationship, as Labour has with the unions. It is strictly business.

Unlike the BBC, they know perfectly well that nothing proposed by Corbyn otherwise exists only in Venezuela. There are things on Corbyn's To Do list that do exist in Venezuela. But those things also exist in, say, Germany. And the people who fund the Conservative Party are desperate to remain in a Single Market and a Customs Union with Germany.

Then again, what if the full Brexit that everyone knows that Corbyn would really prefer were indeed to come to pass? Those companies would be at the front of the queue for State Aid, as they always were in the past. And why not?

If New Labour was, and the Conservatives are perennially, "pro-business", then that was not and is not based on any identifiable experience of it. The three Leaders of New Labour were a barrister who had barely practised, a perpetual student, and a man who had never worked outside the private sector.

Meanwhile, there have been 12 Leaders of the Conservative Party since the War, and beyond shareholding, or being married to businessmen, none of them has had any business background worth mentioning, if at all. They have had stopgap jobs and what have you, but nothing more than that, and not even that in some cases. Nearly half have been beneficiaries of the massive public subsidies to landowning.

Winston Churchill, toff. Anthony Eden, toff. Harold Macmillan, toff enough. Alec Douglas-Home, toffee toffee toff toff. Ted Heath, full-time politician since university. Margaret Thatcher, millionaire's wife. John Major, full-time politician all his adult life. William Hague, full-time politician since childhood. Iain Duncan Smith, paid by the Army to go away. Michael Howard, full-time politician since university, more than 40 years earlier. David Cameron, toff. Theresa May, millionaire's wife.

Where is the business experience there? Put together, they have all had less than Jon Lansman has. Use that as some context for the claims that Labour's worker-director proposals would put "a Momentum cadre on the board" of every company with 250 or more employees. Such a person might contribute far more usefully than anyone who had led the Conservative Party since 9th October 1940.

Worker-directors were an idea that the Old Left never used to like. Later than the 1970s, they were first floated in anything like the mainstream by Theresa May. But she then proceeded to come up with nothing in order to give the concept any practical effect. So John McDonnell has done so instead. The last thing that May's party can do is complain, or even object.

The pro-business tradition came down to the Attlee Government from the ultraconservative figures of Colbert and Bismarck, via the Liberals Keynes and Beveridge, and it held sway in Britain until the Callaghan Government's turn to monetarism in 1977.

That tradition corresponds closely but critically to the Hamiltonian American System as expanded by the American School, a pro-business tradition that between the 1860s and the 1970s worked to make the United States the world's largest economy, with the world's highest standard of living, culminating in the glorious achievements of the New Deal, which in turn made possible the rise and triumph victory of the Civil Rights movement.

That was achieved, by Democrats and Republicans alike, through the strict division between investment banking and retail banking, with large amounts of federal credit (in Britain, that would be central government credit), at low interest rates and over a long term, to build great national projects, notably enormous expansions in infrastructure, which then paid for themselves many times over. There were pro-business tariffs and subsidies, and there was a pro-business National Bank to promote the growth of productive enterprises rather than speculation. Britain and America both need a lot more of this today. North West Durham needs it more than most.

Another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it. It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post. I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.

Be Confident In This

Here are two key lessons from yesterday's No Confidence debate.

First, there is no vacancy for the position of Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, nor will there be any such vacancy in the foreseeable future, and Jeremy Corbyn wanted to make that clear beyond doubt.

And secondly, Michael Gove wants to be the next Leader of the Conservative Party when, as she has undertaken to do, Theresa May gives up before the next General Election, while she in turn wants to be succeeded by him, even though he barely mentioned her yesterday.

Corbyn is committed to a balance between the Left and the traditional Labour Right, of which Tom Watson is the personification.

And Gove's strategy is on the cusp of paying off after all, despite the serious blow that it received when, against his expectations, Leave won the referendum.

He appeared to back Leave when no one really believed that he did, and when he expected that Remain would win, enabling him, having won certain Brownie points, to shrug his shoulders and get back to business as usual.

But then, unlike Boris Johnson who had tried the same trick, he loyally swung behind the Prime Minister's deal, thereby winning him Brownie points on that side, too.

And yesterday, it was he whom she asked to sum up for the Government in the debate on a Confidence Motion that it was bound to win, when no Conservative MP, no matter how opposed to the deal, so much as abstained.

Just as it was Watson whom Corbyn asked to sum up before every Labour MP, no matter how anti-Corbyn and including all those who had backed the deal the night before, followed them both into the Division Lobby.

The Government was reduced to crowing about the ludicrous John Woodcock, something that serious people leave to Woodcock himself.

Alas, his constituents, some of them in a ward with 48 per cent child poverty, are unlikely to be given the chance to pass judgement on him as they tuck into the 7,251 three-day emergency food packs that were given out last year by Barrow Foodbank.

By the way, so much for Trident and "jobs" there.

A proper Labour candidate is going to take Barrow and Furness next time. More broadly, however, another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it.

It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post.

I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email davidaslindsay@hotmail.com. Very many thanks.