Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Real Labour Party

A paltry seven escapees from the Labour Party formed something called The Independent Group, six MPs I've never heard of and the mildly charismatic Chuka Umunna. They mostly came over as working class kids who made good and could easily have been fronting the grittier end of the Conservative Party but they were die-hard Labour, of course, who claimed their views had never changed - always a bad sign - and that Corbyn led Labour had mutated into something they did not recognize, rife with anti-Semites and vicious put-downs of those who dare criticize the leadership. Tony Blair did not pop out of the woodwork, though all seven want to remain in the EU. They have yet to form an actual party... I initially thought The Classic Labour Party might be a suitable moniker but maybe Real Labour might work better. Or given our electoral system perhaps Hard Labour!

Meanwhile, as predicted on this site, Honda are indeed shutting down their Swindon factory at the end of 2021, along with a Turkish offshoot. Nothing to do with Brexit, they say, just consolidation of all their manufacturing into their massive Japanese factory, the flip-side of singing up a free trade deal with the EU and doubtless later on the UK - no tariffs, no need to manufacture abroad. Guess they also had one eye on a future Labour government's ambition to take ten percent of the wealth of all large companies. Or was it Mrs May's penchant for telling foreign companies what they want to hear and then doing something completely at odds with that reassurance?

Auto-workers who voted for Brexit on the back of not wanting the country overrun with foreigners and ending Freedom of Movement may eventually work out - tick, tock - that the result of ending of FOM is that they have locked themselves out from all those well-paying auto jobs in the EU!

Expect Labour activists to go into a frenzy in Swindon as such massive jobs losses will leave the sitting Conservative MP's an easy target. Unconfirmed rumours already circulating that the drawings of the Morris Marina have been dusted off with the intention of converting it to an electric vehicle so that Labour can promise to use the factory for a new nationalized car industry, a socialist fervour doing the rounds that everyone in the country will exult in equality by being forced to drive the same car! This will also revive the bicycle industry because each car will need a bike in the boot for when it breaks down and the driver has to take the battery to a charging point. The cost of the car will not matter because no-one will be allowed to actually own one.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Love the EU March...

If those "striking" kids wanted to do something actually useful, they could have had a march from all over the country into Westminster to promote staying in the EU. The government and police would not know how to deal with a mass child protest, any form of restraining them would be political suicide and letting them run riot over Central London would cause total chaos. Fun Times.

On saving the planet, each child born does huge ecological damage compared to a whole fleet of diesel cars so the kids are the actual problem... not something they can get their minds around, I think. On the other hand, the melting polar ice is already going to f..k us over...

Friday, February 15, 2019

Voted Down Again

Last night Mrs May lost yet another vote on affirming support for her strategy. The Brexiteers, and others, abstained. Much angst and bed-wetting by the reporters but this is all down to Mrs May not moving forward on removing the backstop and some worries about no-deal being taken off the table. She goes around telling people what they want to hear, adding up to a set of promises that are not compatible with each other. Arguably, this strengthens Mrs May's hand because it is clear that some fudge will not get through parliament, so the EU will need to do something radical if they want a deal and no hard border in Ireland.

Meanwhile, the Labour leadership looks pretty useless, reflected by the latest polls which show the Conservatives nicely ahead despite their basic incompetence at doing Brexit that requires a fundamental downwards shift in government spending and intrusion into people's lives. The Brexiteers get that but don't have enough support for a very British coup.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Brexit and energy...

The absolutely disgraceful way, over the last decade, that consumers have been treated by the energy companies  and the government looks likely to deepen post-Brexit. Individuals will have less redress, losing the ability to report energy companies to the EU bureau of consumer affairs rather than the largely toothless UK ombudsman and there will be no change in the way energy companies are allowed to make a five percent return on capital... a crooked set-up that encourages them to increases costs and prices so they can justify ever increasing turnover and hence a bigger profit.

The complete incompetence of government bodies supposed to impose some restraint on these companies has managed to knock out many smaller energy companies whilst constraining tariffs in such a way that there is no encouragement for low energy users. Such is the depth and length of the rip-off of energy consumers that a radical attack on tariffs is needed to rebalance the current outrageous state of affairs. All standing charges need to be removed, companies allowed a single tariff with discounts for fixed direct debits (the idea that people should allow energy companies to vary their direct debits a modern absurdity that emphasizes the contempt in which consumers are held) and, to encourage miserly energy use, the first £20/month should be at a fixed rate that is half the price of the current rate. And, post Brexit, low energy use would be zero rated whilst higher users would pay twice the current 5 percent.

A further benefit of Brexit, zero tariffs and taxes on solar panel and air-source heat pump imports whilst at the same time smart meters would be configured to run backwards to credit the consumer directly with any excess energy produced in the summer/winter. No other incentives needed, well insulated houses using heat pumps would probably overall be self-sufficient in electricity and not need gas, payback on (now much cheaper) solar panel installation then being measured in years rather than decades.

Post Brexit, all this would go down well with the populace and redeem the dreadful way the government has allowed energy consumers to be treated. At the same time, phasing out council tax in favour of increasing taxes on business would then radically reform the fixed costs of living in the UK, freeing up cash to keep the general economy ticking over.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

When the going gets weird, the weird...

Weird day yesterday. Mrs May, talking to Irish businesses, said she wasn't going to replace the backstop... WTF? The only way to get the deal through parliament is to replace the backstop... Did she mean she wasn't going to replace it but get it moved from the withdrawal deal to the trade deal? The DUP adamant that the backstop had to go, if she somehow got it through parliament with the backstop tempered by a codicil in the trade deal, the DUP would then kill the government in a confidence vote.

The Irish were adamant that the backstop would stay in the withdrawal agreement, as were the EU, but when you ask them what would happen if there was no deal and the PM kept to her promise of no hard border in Ireland they have no answer, only that the UK can extend or revoke Article 50 rather than have no deal... don't think so! Dr Fox reluctantly admitted that the zero tariff option was under consideration - zero tariff applied to all imports from around the world, that is. With the UK happy with an open border in Ireland how are the EU going to react to no deal, zero tariff products streaming into NI by the boat load?

Then Mr Tusk, one of many rule-loving bureaucrats in the EU, was so annoyed by the British character - which tends towards a dislike of excessive rules - that he opined there was a special place in hell for those who promoted Brexit without an idea of how to implement it. As said before, the EU has dug itself into a hole over the backstop because if they don't get rid of it, no deal looms which means they then face down their own contradictory positions - no border in Ireland and no access to the single market for non-members of the EU. 

The sad thing is, Mrs May still has not got her head around the strength of her position and still undermines herself by suddenly saying she is not going to replace the backstop.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

No respect for MPs...

Brexit has intensified the lack of respect that the general populace have for MP's. In a system where government and councils takes an incredible amount of tax off people and slashes many services there does not seem to be any democratic way to punish MP's and top civil servants for their ongoing incompetence - if there was a referendum on whether MP's and civil servants should have their income capped at 25k, guess how the result would go!

The bigger side of this is the incredible intrusiveness of the Big State and councils into people's lives at the same time as the contempt with which they are held by the people they think they are trying to help increases. The obvious conclusion is to roll back, as far as possible, both the State and councils, allowing them to concentrate on real problem areas rather than having an endless roll out of pointless laws, commissions and other annoying intrusions. However, telling those in power that they will have a lot less power and a lot less money to waste does not go down at all well...

Monday, February 4, 2019

Mass exodus...

The only way a no-deal Brexit is going to work is by a complete downsizing of the State and massive reduction in taxes for both businesses and individuals. The Singapore model is much touted but that won't work here because there is too much government ownership of land and housing in Singapore, the UK needs to be even more radical than Singapore! Unfortunately, politicians equate their success to the size of their departments and Mrs May's power trip includes an ever expanding State to cater to all the needs of the populace. Falling revenues post Brexit and an already massive debt pile means radical reform is the only way out of the mess that Gordon Brown made of things, one that continues to dog the country. 

Labour would double or even treble the size of the State, wasting trillions of then hugely devalued pounds, still enamoured of the Venezuela model and barely able to restrain themselves from sprouting Marxist mantras.

Between the incompetence of the current government and the prospect of a massive wealth grab by Labour, is it any wonder that companies and individuals want to fast exit?

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

We're British, no backstop, please...

Parliament now supports Mrs May's deal sans the backstop. The EU says the withdrawal deal can't possibly be modified in any way. Yet the result of that will be no deal and the EU has said there will be no hard border in Ireland, then has an open border with a free trading UK... the EU seems to have destroyed it own argument with the logic of its position. So something will have to change.  With Ireland dependent on NI and UK trade to a much greater extent than EU trade, if they want to survive no deal they will have to have a "border" with the EU rather than the UK! Where that ends up will be amusing!

Meanwhile, SNP MP's are furious but by the same logic they can only leave the UK and become part of the EU - post Brexit - if they have a hard border with the UK, which they would have to agree to pay for pre-referendum and build before they left. Also by ignoring the overall democratic mandate of the UK's referendum, they are also going to have to respect the democratic mandate of the border countries, moving the border northwards if the border countries vote to remain part of the UK. Scottish independence likely to end up an even bigger mess than Brexit.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Retail falling apart

Whilst the stale politicians try to bore the populace and fellow MP's into compliance with the same endless, senseless mantras, the poor old retail sector is falling apart at the seams. The core of the problem is the ruination of Sterling making imports too expensive whilst the clever consumer refuses to pay more to allow retailers to make up the difference. Some companies, like Poundworld, are simply squeezed out of the market whilst the department stores and supermarkets are offering eye-watering discounts to steal each other's customers - the clever shopper able to get a discount on a discount. These deflationary prices do not appear in the measures of inflation which are based on retail prices that may well have gone up but few are willing to pay such ticket prices. Lovely if you have the time to be a clever shopper.

The fall of Sterling was originally caused by the incompetence of  the Brown/Blair era, having convinced themselves that the boom-bust cycle had been abolished they racked up public spending to a level that left no escape room when the bust came. Then the Coalition did a softly-softly style of austerity that didn't quite address the underlying problem of excessive State but had Brexit not happened would probably have got the spending finally in balance by now with Sterling on a strong recovery path and BOE rates above inflation (with house prices coming down a touch). 

But Brexit happened Cameron ran away and Osborne was sacked, the new PM failed dismally to correct the spending problem and the BOE didn't rush to Sterling's aid with reasonable interest rates - and poor old Sterling sank, with the aforementioned problems working their way through the retail sector. Just like Brown ignoring the entire history of boom-bust the BOE ignores what happens if you don't get ahead of the game on interest rates, at some point they then have to go up by a huge amount to save the currency!

Friday, January 25, 2019

General Election?

Completely beyond me how Mrs May can call a general election when her party has no cohesive policy on Brexit - what would they put on the manifesto? No idea. Would Labour actually start doing the new politics it was originally muttering about and lasted about five minutes before the usual screaming half-truths took over, in between endless Marxist mantra chants, and actually opt for cancelling Brexit, plus a much muted (by EU laws) manifesto that would also pull in the voters? At least if Labour then won we could all fast exit to Spain or Portugal without worrying about being chucked out later on...

Best guess at the moment, the Brexiteers will do a rapid U-turn and support Mrs May's deal at the next vote, they would die a death if Labour got in with or without a promise to cancel Brexit.

Friday, January 18, 2019

EFTA?

Personally, the only problem I would have with joining EFTA is how long it would take our useless politicians to change their minds and start the Leave process all over again. Labour because there would still be too many rules holding them back from pillaging business and individual wealth to fund their spending plans. The Conservatives because they still want to free the UK of all EU shackles. EFTA would solve the Irish border problem, keep freedom of movement and get that all important ease of trade. The EU would still demand its pound of flesh for access to the single market - if we are lucky 5 billion quid a year - but we would be free to farm and fish to our heart's content. No individual trade deals but it would lock us into the existing free trade deals and some kind of fudge would be needed for the UK to play a role in future trading deals via the EU.

Immigration was one of the big reasons to leave, FOM would have many people screaming their heads off but my much mentioned 5-10 year retrospective residence test, with foreigners moved out of social housing, before any access to welfare, etc., would balance that out.

Whether the existing EFTA countries would let us join is another matter, though having the weight of the UK behind them would make their position more powerful in future negotiations with the EU. Swings and roundabouts.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Same old same...

The no-confidence debate was the same old stale mud slinging contest with the notable exception of Michael Gove who brought some religious fervour to the debate. Corbyn stuck to his Marxist roots by not moving on to the People's Vote after failing to get a general election, presumably horrified at the idea that businesses and individuals would remain protected by a myriad of EU laws if Remain won. Mrs May continues to dig her way through to Australia, if she wants to keep her deal on the table the only way is to ratify it with a second referendum... come on Mr May, whisper some sweet reality into her brain!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

May's deal goes down...

Mrs May's reaction to the historical defeat of her deal was to offer parliament the chance to bring forward their ideas... as long as they were negotiable or in May-speak as long as they agreed with her own ideas. The only thing really surprising was that Sterling didn't tank, the markets think there is a good way out of the mess, presumably a second vote that remain wins. Corbyn got so excited over his no-confidence vote that he started to sound like a Dalek... exterminate, exterminate!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Crucial Vote Amendment...

If Mrs May wants her deal to go through parliament today then it should be amended to be subject to a People's Vote with the deal versus remain. QED

Sunday, January 13, 2019

EU must sweeten a bitter pill

Whether we end up revoking aritcle 50 or in the EEA or having another vote or something else entirely, the EU can make such a change much more acceptable by doing the following:

A very strict, five to ten year, residence test that excludes newcomers from the whole welfare system, social housing, benefits, etc. Made retrospective, it would free up circa 200,000 social housing units for British people. Possibly, even the personal tax allowance would be included. Exceptions for nurses and the like so as not to impinge upon essential services.

Freeze net payments into the EU, over time they will decrease in real terms and in relation to the size of the UK's economy. This in recognition that the UK won't be joining the eurozone or further integration. Currently some of the money the EU gets from the UK comes back into the country, over time this would move back into control of the UK.

Some easing of control of the European courts over our ability to deport foreign criminals and some easing on the fishing and agricultural limits.

These changes would need to be implemented before a second vote and people need to see foreigners moved out of social housing so that they know that at long last the government is taking them seriously.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Pro EU Centre Party

The problem with proposed pro-EU parties is that they tend towards the parallel belief that the Big State is a good thing whereas I want minimal taxation, only essential welfare and a light-touch State but also want to stay in the EU... I have the perverse view that the further away the centre of power is from the individual the less likely is its wrath to descend upon my tender head. No idea, then, who I should vote for...

Ruined currency makes UK less attractive

The UK has a long history of our crooked politicians using currency devaluations as means to keep on spending excessive amounts of tax-payers' money whilst still making it an attractive place to invest, the ruined currency makes assets and investments cheap unless you are British and have all your dosh in Sterling.

Normally, this would be accompanied by high rates of inflation but this time around there is no price elasticity, companies put their prices up and find sales dive. Often they have to offer steeper discounts than before, the end result for the careful shopper is actual price deflation (you can often get discounts on discounts if you play the system).

High ticket items like cars and motorcycles, we have more crookedness with dodgy leasing deals trying to bolster high retail prices but the consumer is not so easily duped into never owning the purchase and having to roll over the finance to infinity, often with absurdly high interest rates. Falling sales the result, with knock-on effects for the big producers of job losses and perhaps closures - my money is on Honda's Swindon plant to be the first to close if no-deal Brexit happens. If you shop around you can find 15-20 percent off the retail prices!

Meanwhile, exporters into the UK find their margins hammered with the result that they start looking for more profitable markets elsewhere; even before Brexit the supply chain begins to be disrupted by lack of supply that has not yet fed though to higher prices because the market won't take any increases.

Where all this ends up is anyone's guess...

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Post Brexit Data protection going to zero

The government runs two huge databases. One based on driving licence/passport information, the other on national insurance numbers. Access to government services is moving to cross-checking these databases to limit fraud possibilities. Voter registration by councils has access to the work and pensions database (based around NI numbers) to check on would-be voters but then distills this information on to the voter's registration database, which can be searched by an endless array of dodgy companies and by individuals if they pay a small fee to these companies. 

There is a strong possibility that such a movement of individual data is illegal under EU data protection laws - certainly, if you refuse to give your NI number to the council they will back off if you mention such protection rights. Usually, the council just cross checks the info they have on the voter with the database, without informing the voter nor giving him or her the choice of whether they want their NI number and DOB on the voter's register (whether the public search box is ticked or not it makes no difference to the access of information on the database as far as the companies that access it are concerned). 

Of course, MP's and serious VIPs have the option to register via the anonymous register which can only be searched by the likes of the police and tax man. Joe Public has to get a court order to be included on this register, along with dire warnings that things like mortgages will become impossible as banks, etc., won't be able to access this information.

Then, a database exists that protects individuals' information but they aren't allowed on it because the government deems that information not important enough to protect! Arguably, as well as a breach of EU data protection laws it is a breach of European human rights.

The idea that one branch of the UK government will protect individual rights against another branch of that government is, at best, optimistic, especially when compared with the fear with which UK govn workers exhibit when you threaten them with being reported to various EU bodies. Post Brexit, then, the ability of individuals to protect their data needs to be urgently upgraded so that they have the basic right to stop non-government bodies from accessing it!

Monday, January 7, 2019

Boris says no deal closest to what people voted for...

Boris may be correct that a majority of leavers voted for a quick, clean cut with the EU but the then chancellor George Osborne pointed out that for this to happen there would have to be a large cut in spending to make the country ready for life under WTO rules... two years later the government has done nothing to balance the books, the BOE hasn't protected the currency by increasing interest rates to above inflation and the only achievement from Mrs May is that she has negotiated a deal that ends Freedom of Movement whilst forcing the UK to keep its laws in alignment with the EU. End result is the worst of all worlds if we leave with a deal or leave without one!

Apparently, Boris is already sanguine about a second vote, saying Leave would win it easily despite the polls suggesting that circa 60 percent of the populace actually want to stay in the EU. The only way that Boris will get on to the final leadership ballot will be by saying a second vote is going to happen, thus appealing to the majority of remain Conservative MPs whilst at the same time telling leavers they can win such a vote. Once in power, all bets will be off.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

More Control...

The only people who are going to have more control post Brexit are the politicians and large companies. One of the good things about the EU is the ability to impose taxes right across the region so that big companies can't easily escape them. The burden of tax urgently needs to shift from individuals to companies and the only radical way to do this is to impose an EU wide turnover tax. This tax needs to be variable so that companies that do something useful would pay a low rate and companies that are seen to rip people off pay a much higher rate.

Another problem with the EU is the dislocation of people from the elite rulers, the parliament - the nearest normal people get to having a say - seen as largely sidelined and useless. Imagine then if there was a mechanism that allowed EU citizens to vote on the rate of turnover tax applied to the often cartel-like actions of some companies. Energy companies act like cartels, for instance, then people could vote to hit them with a much higher turnover tax. The same for finance companies that charge sky-high interest rates. The list is endless...

My own experience already suggests that UK companies are shit-scared of being reported to EU institutions but happily laugh off threats of complaints to UK ombudsmen. Imagine how they would react to the threat of a higher turnover tax if they are caught ripping off people. The use of a turnover tax is important because it is the one area where clever accountants can't fiddle the actual figures, unlike off-shoring profits or balancing them against loans from areas of low taxation.

Imagine how people would feel towards the EU bureaucracy if they said there would be a 5-10 percent reduction in income tax, the revenue to be replaced by the turnover tax. Individual countries would still be able to change the income tax rates back, bringing in all that extra revenue, but it would be political suicide to do so.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

New Year, New Hope?

The worst possible result of Brexit is a fast exit from the EU and then a Marxist Labour government conning its way into power. Sterling completely ruined, huge rises in taxes and the government hovering up all the surplus wealth in the country. The rich and clever will fast exit while they still have something to exit with, the welfare class will expand exponentially whilst the political class will reward themselves with huge, tax-free expense accounts whilst they rush around dipping their snouts into all available troughs. Not a pretty picture, comrades.