Julian Assange has been dragged out of the Ecuadorian Embassy and arrested for jumping bail and in response to a USA extradition request.
He probably is a bit of a plonker, but it is hard not to feel a sense of unease about the way he has been treated.
Instead of punishing him for jumping bail, the court might well have said, “You should not have jumped bail, and the bail is forfeit. But you have imprisoned yourself for seven years, which is far longer than we would have sentenced you to for that offence, and so we dismiss that charge. There are no outstanding charges or arrest warrants from Sweden. You are at liberty to walk free until your challenge to the USA extradition request has been determined”.
It is not obvious that it is in United States’ interest to try to bring him to trial there. The essential gravamen of Continue reading
This chap joined a nude protest in the Commons by climate change nutters.
But he refused to take his strides off. He is still wearing his jeans. Because that symbol of American culture still dominates his thinking? Who knows.
The others glued their bottoms to the glass. I think they should have left them there for a while. Gagged, obviously, if they made any noise (they were hardly in a position to do anything much about that). It would have been an appropriate Continue reading
The New Zealanders are in a bit of a bind. They have obviously had a terrible tragedy with the mosque shooting in Christchurch. Their position is slightly unusual; around the world, it is more often been the Muslims who have perpetrated these massacres. On this occasion, it was a right-wing nutter. The Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has promised to make provision for the families of those who were killed. She said:
That provision exists regardless of the immigration status of those who have lost their lives and regardless of the immigration status of their loved ones. It includes the cost of burial. It includes support for lost income and that can last for not just months but it can last for years. So I give you that assurance
it is not her money, of course, but it is her gesture. As was her action in wearing a hijab to show solidarity with the victims.
Now, New Zealanders are very proud of what they have. They have a very good rugby team: probably the best in the world. They are very proud of that. And now they have a Prime Minister who is being lauded by the luvvies all around the world. So they have to be proud of that too.
Meanwhile, the New Zealand economy is steadily being strangled. Focus Economics puts it in relentlessly grey terms: Continue reading
Whilst the powers that be are deciding what to do with the mop-up from the IS Caliphate, they might bear in mind what happened in Europe around 200 years ago.
Having killed around 5 million people, the French proto-fascists were defeated in 1812. Napoleon, instead of being executed or locked up securely, was sent to Elba, Within some 3 years, he was back, and very nearly succeeded in subjugating Europe (including the UK) again in 1815. Happily, Lord Wellington and his German allies prevailed at Waterloo, but it was a close run thing.
Letting the Caliphate warriors free to reform is really not Continue reading
I do not know if the Labour Party in the UK is really rife with anti-Semitism. The issues are obscure. But it is pretty clear, I think, that this obscurity derives from a couple of causes.
First, it is a proxy war, being fought within the Labour Party, between the social democrats who held sway under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and the new wave of Momentum socialists who have had considerable success recently in taking over control of the party. The Momentum socialists are, for now, sandwiched between the majority of Labour Party MPs, who are essentially social democrats, and Labour voters who are not, on the whole, rabid socialists either. But the way the Labour Party works these days is that it is the party membership, and particularly the activists in the party, who call the shots. And so the social democrats have been looking for a way to discredit the Momentum socialists, and calling them anti-Semitic is one way of doing this. There is no need for the to be any truth in the charge for it to be effective, as long as there is a kernel of truth in there somewhere, and as long as at least some of the mud sticks. And it is not easy to separate facts from rhetorical allegations in the midst of such proxy warfare.
Secondly, for a lot of people (many, but by no means all of them, Jews) any criticism of the state of Israel is automatically treated as anti-Semitic. It is a good trick, if you can get away with it. But there is a problem. Quite a substantial problem. On any independent analysis all, it has to be concluded that Continue reading
So. Jeremy Corbyn said last night that he will support second referendum on Brexit. The Remainers, of course, are delighted by this. David Lammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham, said: “Jeremy Corbyn is today taking the first step to reunite our party by showing he is listening to our voters and members on this.”
Good luck with that. In the 2016 referendum, between 60 and 70% of labour-held constituencies voted for Brexit. That is less than the Brexit consensus in Conservative-held constituencies, of which about 75% voted for Brexit. Labour is already in electoral trouble, the far left having taken the party a long way from what typical labour voters want. Labour heading into second referendum territory will open up that schism even more.
Supporters of the second referendum say that the voters did not know what they were voting for last time around. That is utter nonsense. The remain campaign – and indeed David Cameron as the incumbent Prime Minister – warned that voting for Brexit would bring with it all sorts of economic ills. The government spent millions of pounds distributing its leaflet warning that leaving would create “uncertainty and risk” and “years of uncertainty and potential economic description. This would reduce investment and cost jobs”. But the electorate took that on board, and voted for Brexit anyway.
The people in the Labour Party who have brought about this change of position are not advocating a second referendum because there was anything wrong with the first referendum. They are doing so because they want to see a different result.
Back in 2016, of course, it was a different story. The Remainers expected to win then. And so the government leaflet said Continue reading
Shamima Begum, who is the young woman who left the UK to join Isis and who now wants to return to UK with her baby, has said:
He has no proof that I was a threat other than that I was in Isis, that’s it.
In my experience, people who say “You have no proof I did it” rather than “I did not do it” usually did it.
It may be that international law will make it hard for the UK to exclude her. But the cost to the UK taxpayer of dealing with her and her baby and probably in due course her husband (who joined Isis as a fighter from Holland) in terms of legal costs, prison, social security etc may well be very considerable. And there must be a real risk that she will continue, from any home she makes in the UK, to further the objectives of Isis.
And so the Government is quite right not to be Continue reading
I was listening to a Brexit interview the other day with an Irish politician responding to the point that the UK’s departure from the EU does not necessitate a hard border between the north and south of Ireland. The technological solutions already in place show that checks do not need to take place at a border. The Irish politician was dismissive. He said it didn’t matter whether the checks were at the border, or somewhere else; any checks were unacceptable, and the Irish are determined to veto any withdrawal agreement without the backstop.
Now here’s the thing. Everybody assumes that the Good Friday Agreement – also known as the Belfast Agreement – prohibits a hard border between the north and south of Ireland. Actually, it does nothing of the sort. It does not even relevantly mention the border. If you would like to check, you will see that I have copied and pasted the whole of the Agreement to the end of this post.
In Irish logic, of course, the fact that an assertion is untrue has nothing to do with its utility. As far as the Irish are concerned, Brexit is a wonderful opportunity to try to prise Northern Ireland away from the rest of the UK, and they have every intention of using that opportunity to the full. So they are going to insist that it is a term of any deal that Northern Ireland has to remain in the single market and part of the customs union; their veto means that they can do that. Obviously, Brexit is not achieved if Continue reading
So much for the Project Fear line about a clean Brexit (“crashing out” as they melodramatically call it) meaning no aeroplanes will be able to fly across The Channel: the EU says:
The Commission has today adopted two measures that will avoid full interruption of air traffic between the EU and the UK in the event of no deal. These measures will only ensure basic connectivity and in no means replicate the significant advantages of membership of the Single European Sky. This is subject to the UK conferring equivalent rights to EU air carriers, as well as the UK ensuring conditions of fair competition.
- A proposal for a Regulation to ensure temporarily (for 12 months) the provision of certain air services between the UK and the EU.
- A proposal for a Regulation to extend temporarily (for 9 months) the validity of certain aviation safety licences.
So, sensibly, the EU says it will allow UK planes in the EU if the UK allows EU planes in the UK. Good. The UK should say the same; indeed, it has already done so. But never mind too much about what they say they will do; the proper reaction is according to what they actually do.
But who is “they”? The EU? Or each EU country?
There is something to be said for the later. Air France, for example, flies between London and Edinburgh. Should the UK continue to allow it to do so? That should depend, I suggest, on whether France allows British Airways to fly from Paris to Lyon. It is in everyone’s interest for the answer to be Continue reading
Some facts, that of themselves are not really contentious:
- Until Australia successfully introduced its “Stop the Boats” policy a few years ago, many economic migrants arrived in Australia by boat;
- Those boats were operated by people smugglers. A passage was not cheap, so it was typically the relatively wealthy who could afford the trip;
- Many died en voyage because the boats were unsafe;
- Of those that made it, many have made very successful lives for themselves, working hard and often creating businesses;
- Brexit is due in just a few months;
- Mark Carney, the Canadian/Irish Governor of the Bank of England, a Euro-Federalist, has predicted that the UK economy will do badly following a Clean Break Brexit;
- Nevertheless; increasing numbers of economic migrants are now seeking to get from France to England by boat, in order to get out of the EU and into the UK before Brexit;
- Their journey across the English Channel, one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, at night, often in rubber dinghies or stolen small craft, is very dangerous. And expensive – these trips are organised by people smugglers who charge thousands of Euros for a passage;
- These economic migrants are resourceful – they have made it overland from Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria and other countries.
But what to conclude from Continue reading