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Corbyn can’t copy Trump…

The big reason that Corbyn cannot copy Trump is that he hasn’t learned the lesson of how Trump won. It wasn’t simply by railing against the “rigged system”. Trump won by taking a coalition of the Republican base – minus the elite parts of it such as the Bush family – and bolting on to it two constituencies that Mitt Romney had failed to mobilise four years before. Trump won over enough working-class Democrats and non-voters to get him over the line in the Rust Belt swing states that mattered.

Corbyn isn’t even holding on to Labour’s core vote, let alone winning over parts of the electorate that the party failed to win in 2015.

Source: Can Jeremy Corbyn win by becoming a left-wing Donald Trump, railing against the ‘rigged system’? | The Independent

Posted in Britain, Politics, Trade, US politics.


An iron law of politics

An iron law of politics applies: in any political argument it is more than likely that both sides are right.

Philip Collins

Source: Desperate NHS needs a desperate remedy | Comment | The Times & The Sunday Times

Posted in Quotes.

Tagged with .


Obama: success or failure?

The wages of expectation are paid in disappointment. That, too, is one lesson to be drawn from Obama’s presidency. If you are led to expect $100 you will be disappointed to receive just $50. Obama never quite managed to balance results with expectations.

Alex Massie

Source: The lost promise of the Obama presidency – CapX

Posted in Quotes, US politics.


Food price deflation

Four pints of milk has now been £1 at all the major supermarkets for well over two years now. Indeed, it fell to 89p in Iceland supermarket briefly. This is astonishingly low. Milk has not been this cheap since the mid-1980s. Over Christmas, Asda was selling one kg of carrots for 20p – a price not seen since 1978. This is food deflation on a dramatic scale.

Source: Higher prices are the only way of dealing with Britain’s food waste problem | Coffee House

Posted in Quotes.


Dementia in the UK

More than 850,000 people in the UK now suffer from dementia, which affects one in six people over 80 and costs £11 billion a year. Not only is this now the biggest killer of the elderly, it also changes the lives of the 670,000 people caring for others at home.

Source: Shared society exposes May’s tunnel vision | Comment | The Times & The Sunday Times

Posted in Stats.


The rail strikes

At the end of last year, in a speech on the rail strike, the president of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, Sean Hoyle, told a cheering crowd that: “Rule number one in our [RMT] bible is that we must strive to replace the capitalist system with a socialist order”. It was his first remark, before giving details of the dispute.

He wasn’t talking out of turn or being quoted out of context. Rule number 1 of the RMT is that the object of the union “shall be to work for the supersession of the capitalist system by a socialistic order of society”. This objective, followed by that of “the promotion of equality for all”, comes several points above another aim that you might have thought would come first: “to improve the conditions and protect the interests of its members”.

Danny Finkelstein

Source: Rail strikes expose socialism’s hollow core | Comment | The Times & The Sunday Times

Posted in Quotes.


Food waste

British households are throwing away the equivalent of 500 meals every year. Household food waste in the UK has increased from seven million tonnes in 2012 to 7.3 million tonnes in 2015, a rise of 4.4 per cent, according to Wrap, the government endorsed charity that wages war on food waste.

Source: Higher prices are the only way of dealing with Britain’s food waste problem | Coffee House

Posted in Stats.


Care for the elderly at home

It costs about £250 a day to keep a patient on a ward, £150 a day in a care home and £100 a day for domiciliary care (which is most people’s preference).

As Alice Thomson says in this piece, “It is obvious, morally and financially, that the elderly should remain in their own homes as long as possible.”

Source: Social care is dragging down our hospitals

Posted in Britain, Politics, Stats.


Partisan politics

When voters are asked to choose policies blind, they often admire those of rival parties, only to reject them as soon as they discover who’s advocating them.

Source: Why Theresa May is the new Ed Miliband | Jenni Russell 

Posted in Politics, Quotes.


The Centre Left

Those who claim leadership of the centre-Left (in which I include Tory liberals) are know-nothing poseurs who talk only to each other. What is now called (as if it were a brand new phenomenon) the cosmopolitan governing class is not new at all. It is the established bourgeoisie of our age which embraces all the received arrogant attitudes of its time – as the high bourgeois always have.

Janet Daley

Source: The Left’s future is bleak if it insists on living in denial about why it lost 

Posted in Politics, Quotes.


Orwell on freedom of speech

The relative freedom which we enjoy depends on public opinion. The law is no protection. Governments make laws, but whether they are carried out, and how the police behave, depends on the general temper in the country. If large numbers of people are interested in freedom of speech, there will be freedom of speech, even if the law forbids it; if public opinion is sluggish, inconvenient minorities will be persecuted, even if laws exist to protect them.

Source: The age of outrage

Posted in Uncategorized.


Education, education, education

Blair promised a lot on education and, to be fair, delivered much (especially during David Blunkett’s tenure in the Department for Education).

Between 1997 and 2007 funding per pupil went up by 48 per cent, there were 35,000 more teachers in classrooms, overall class sizes went down, there were 172,000 more teaching assistants, and teachers were paid (on average) 18 per cent more. More than 1,000 new schools opened, and many more received additional funding for improvements to classrooms. Extra resources were put into Early Years education (including Sure Start). And it was Blair’s government that built on the empowering of Ofsted to make it an inspectorate that increasingly made schools, and their leaders, accountable.

Source: Why we teachers miss Michael Gove – CapX

Posted in Uncategorized.


Putin’s Russia and 1917

Boris Yeltsin may have reversed the revolution by overthrowing the Communist party. But it’s Putin who has brought the century’s circle back to its beginning. Putin has restored Holy Russia: a society where ruler and church are united, where dissent is treason and where secret police watch for the slightest flicker of popular discontent.

Official Russia will avoid glorifying 1917 — and not just because of the political dangers of encouraging revolt and protest. A century ago, Russia’s avant-garde represented the boldest concentration of imagination and talent in the world. They invented the future in which we now live. Today’s Russia, by contrast, lives in a cloud of nostalgia for a lost Soviet past. There’s no place in Putin’s vision of a united, obedient, God-fearing people for either revolution or radical thinking.

Source: Why Putin’s Russia will be keeping quiet about 1917

Posted in Uncategorized.


Brexit is about politics, not law. Which is why it’s tricky.

Juliet Samuel writes that, “The defining feature of the argument around Brexit models is an obsessively legal one that assumes that Brexit can create no new legal forms of co-operation or trade, but must rely on the current available options. It ignores that fact that we are not dealing with lawyers and statute on a two-year timetable. Brexit is about the fate of nations over decades.”

Of course, the very fact that it IS political is why no-one in the EU wants to admit this. Providing too easy an “out” for the UK threatens the entire edifice.

And in that combination lies the entire problem.

 

 

Source: Theresa May must explain how Brexit can strengthen, rather than overturn, the West

Posted in Europe, My articles, Politics.


Property taxes

Polly Toynbee says that “Homes are not taxed at all, and yet that is where all this burgeoning wealth comes from.” But as the OECD points out, Britain raises more of its tax take from property than just about any other rich country.

Tim Worstall

Source: Here’s the real truth about inequality – CapX

Posted in Stats, Trivia.


Snobs

Alain de Botton, in his book Status Anxiety, points out that in the 1820s the word ‘snob’ emerged from Oxbridge, where colleges often wrote ‘s.nob’, short for ‘sine nobilitate’ — without nobility.

‘In the word’s earliest days,’ he writes, ‘a snob was taken to mean someone without high status, but it quickly assumed its modern and almost diametrically opposed meaning: someone offended by a lack of high status in others, a person who believes in a flawless equation between social rank and human worth.’

Source: How Brexit gave us a different class of snob

Posted in Trivia.


Pakistan’s war on terror

Violence in Pakistan is down by three quarters in the last two years. The country is safer than at any point since George W. Bush launched his war on terror 15 years ago.

In 2013 there were 2,789 killings in Karachi. In the first 11 months of 2016 there were 592. In 2013 there were 51 terrorist bomb blasts. Up to late November this year, there were two.Three years ago, Karachi suffered from an orgy of kidnapping for ransom. There were 78 cases in 2013, rising to 110 the following year. This year, there have been 19. Some 533 extortion cases were reported in 2013; in 2016, only 133. Sectarian killing is sharply down: while 38 members of the Shia minority (who are brutally targeted in Pakistan) were killed in 2013, that figure was down by two thirds in 2016.

Source: Pakistan is winning its war on terror

Posted in Geopolitics, Stats.


Tackling poverty? Give people money.

Last year the Overseas Development Institute reviewed 165 studies into 56 cash transfer programs in 30 different countries to find out their true effectiveness.

The findings showed that cash transfers had improved school attendance and reduced child labour, boosted access to healthcare, improved and diversified diets, stimulated local economies and resulted in a reduction in domestic violence. It also found no evidence that they caused workshy tendencies: in fact, the studies showed cash transfers actually increased employment among adults.

study comparing food aid with cash transfers in Ecuador, Niger, Uganda, and Yemen found that 18 per cent more people could be helped, at no extra cost, if everyone was given cash transfers instead of food.

Source: Why giving people money is a great way to tackle poverty – CapX

Posted in Issues, Politics, Poverty, Stats.


World population

Within five years India will overtake China as the world’s most populous country and then move far ahead.

In 2050 the world’s third most populous country after India and China will be Nigeria — just ahead of the US.

In 1950, Europe’s population was three times sub-Saharan Africa’s; by 2050 it will be the other way round.

 

Source: Happy 70th, baby-boomer. But it’s the young who need the gifts

Posted in Stats.


Reasons to be cheerful…

I love this positive piece from Philip Collins. Worth quoting his reasons at length.

  1. We are living through a long arc of progress and it will take more than Nigel Farage to bend it backwards.

  2. Democracy is not in peril; it is thriving. More than four billion people live under a democratic government. This is a towering historical achievement. Power was transferred discreetly and peacefully in 2016 in Ghana, Morocco, Japan, South Korea, Croatia, Iceland, Ireland, Lithuania, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain and the United States. In Gambia, the 22-year tyranny of President Yahya Jammeh ended when he was beaten by the opposition candidate, Adama Barrow.

  3. Myanmar swore in its first elected civilian leader in more than 50 years.Taiwan is on the verge of becoming the first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage. Gambia and Tanzania banned child marriage. In June, the pan-African parliament endorsed a ban on female genital mutilation across the continent. For the first time ever, the death penalty has become illegal in more than half of the world’s countries.

  4. The last of the western nations to recognise same-sex unions capitulated in 2016. Take a belated bow, Italy.

  5. The world kept getting richer. The number of people living in extreme poverty fell below 10 per cent for the first time. Since 1990 almost 1.1 billion have escaped extreme poverty. World hunger reached its lowest point for 25 years in 2016 and it was the first ever year in which the total amount needed to eradicate poverty fell below the money spent on foreign aid.

  6. Average household income in Britain grew at its fastest rate since 2001.

  7. Employment at a record high of over 75 per cent and near zero inflation helped living standards recover.

  8. The introduction of the national living wage meant that pay inequality fell.

  9. The world got healthier again. Since 2000, global malaria deaths have declined by 60 per cent. Since their peak a decade ago, AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 45 per cent. Maternal mortality  has fallen 44 per cent since 1990. Infant mortality has halved over the same period.

  10. Worldwide, people can expect an extra seven years of life compared to a relative born in 1990.

  11. The WHO announced that measles has been eradicated in all the Americas, from Canada to Chile. In April, the WHO said that polio could be wiped out within a year.

  12. In wealthy countries, colon cancer, dementia and heart disease are all waning.

  13. The environment improved. For the third year in succession, global carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels did not grow at all. China hit its peak coal usage in 2014 and India announced it has so much capacity that it won’t need any new coal plants for three years. Acid pollution is back to 1930s levels and a survey in June showed that the hole in the ozone layer is still shrinking, and should be healed by 2050.

Source: Never forget that we live in the best of times | Comment | The Times & The Sunday Times

Posted in Quotes, Stats.


How often do individuals make a difference?

Most MPs will be unable to point to any one thing they did that wouldn’t have happened without them. Occasionally, individuals make a difference, though. Polly Toynbee lists a few that have, as follows;

  • Barbara Castle’s lifesaving 70mph speed limit
  • Patricia Hewitt’s smoking ban
  • Harriet Harman’s childcare and nurseries
  • Roy Jenkins’s great 1960s “permissive society is a civilised society” reforms
  • David Steel’s Abortion Act.

Source: Politics is a rough trade, but Jamie Reed should be hanging in there | Polly Toynbee | Opinion | The Guardian

Posted in Britain, Politics, Trivia.


Why Montenegro matters

Montegnegro’s bid to join NATO will create an early test case for Trump’s anticipated reset of U.S.-Russian relations: if Trump wants to cater to Putin, he’ll get Senate Republicans to ice Montenegro’s bid; if Trump wants to signal that warming ties does not mean acquiescing in another Yalta, he’ll green-light Senate ratification and Montenegro will join the alliance.

Source: Montenegro’s NATO Bid | Foreign Affairs

Posted in Geopolitics.

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The case for market economics

At a time when “capitalism” is being condemned by people who are in fact victims of corporatism, there is a pressing need to restate the case for market economics, distancing it from those who have stolen its language to clothe a creed of selfish cynicism which is now ending in abject failure.

Source: We need free markets not a free-for-all – CapX

Posted in Uncategorized.


The degradation of business ethics

One of the most tragic consequences of “free-for-all” economics has been the relentless degradation of business ethics. Increasingly, only “the eleventh commandment” (“don’t get caught”) is observed – and even this hardly matters if your influence over the state renders you but all immune to sanction.

Source: We need free markets not a free-for-all – CapX

Posted in Uncategorized.


How problematic are robots for jobs?

Oxford academics say that 47 per cent of jobs are at risk of automation within the next few decades.

But to put that in context… Every year, some 10 per cent of jobs are destroyed –through bankruptcies, downsizing, firms getting out of a particular line of business and so on. But another 10 per cent are created, as firms start up new lines of business or new companies are founded.

Source: Rejoice! Robots are coming for our jobs – CapX

Posted in Uncategorized.


The impact of aging on the economy

The OBR calculates that a rise in life expectancy over the next 50 years of just 0.4 years would increase the national debt by 3 per cent of GDP

Source: Can we have more life without more taxes? – CapX

Posted in Uncategorized.


Why it’s wrong to think we are being ripped off by rail prices

Margins in the industry are tight. In the year to 2015 the total revenues of the train companies were £9.6 billion against operating costs of £8.8 billion. Prices have gone up, but only by 6 per cent per passenger mile in real terms since 1997.

Source: Ministers must stand and fight RMT Marxists | Comment | The Times & The Sunday Times

Posted in Uncategorized.


Who owns the world’s oil?

For all the fleeting privatization attempts of the 1990s, governments, not private shareholders, now own the world’s 13 largest oil-and-gas firms and three-quarters of the world’s known oil reserves. Privately owned multinationals such as Exxon produce just ten percent of the world’s oil and hold only three percent of its reserves.

Source: The Rex Files | Foreign Affairs

Posted in Uncategorized.


Poverty: then and now

In 1981, 61 per cent of Britons were living in what we would now call absolute poverty. Now the figure is 20 per cent: still too high, but lower than at any point in history. Since the Cold War ended, the global poverty rate has fallen by three quarters.

Source: Lesson of 2016: if you address people’s concerns, “populism” goes away

Posted in Britain, Issues, Politics, Poverty, Quotes, Stats.


How Britain can make the best out of Brexit 2

The main reason why people end up in low-paid work was the subject of the third important report of the week, the OECD’s 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) about educational attainment. The UK’s position hasn’t changed much but it is conspicuous that we have a larger gap between those students who do well and those who do badly. Our lowest achievers in maths do considerably worse than the low-achievers in the numerate nations — Poland, Germany and the Netherlands.

 

Source: How Britain can make the best out of Brexit | Comment | The Times & The Sunday Times

Posted in Uncategorized.