Snippets from the news

{02.09.23} “13 years of Tory underinvestment” The Guardian writers were quick to lambast the government’s problems with ‘aero’ (RAAC) concrete being down to the lack of investment required to fix the problems. But wait: Grumpy remembers the similar phrase “13 years of Tory misrule” uttered by Harold Wilson in his first reign as Prime Minister. One of the largest (and worst) examples of the use of the material was in the building of the Airedale Hospital in Yorkshire during the Wilson years, which is having to be rebuilt entirely. So it was in fact Labour which underinvested in the quality of building materials, and left a costly legacy of their myopia to the Conservatives. It always surprises Grumpy how poorly their editors check stories for obvious bear traps…

Starmer makes it up Mar 2023 : At a presentation about his 5 missions, Starmer stated that 300 women were raped every day. He didn’t believe the figures and got staff to check. Starmer should maybe check his staff instead. 300 per day is about 110,000 per year. Allegations of rape reported to the police to the year ending September 2022 were 70,633 – a long way from 110,000. He was right in commenting on the huge gap between allegations and charges – just 4049, according the Rape Crisis in a similar period.

Now it is thought that a great many rapes go unreported to the police, but the numbers are essentially conjecture by definition and open to varied interpretation. What may move the admittedly disgraceful situation forward is finding out why it is so many women pull the plug on investigations after reporting domestic violence or rape and provide more support in that area.

Truss update Dec 2022 :Grumpy commented here that Truss had succumbed to the current hysterical abandonment of due process as PM following an opaque allegation by a nameless third party about MP Connor Burns, who she suspended and withdrew the party whip. She even trumpeted he rush to sentence without investigation or trial as evidence of her capability for positive action. Well, after belated due process following here political demise, an investigation found there was no case to answer, and he has now been properly reinstated. If anything encapsulates what a lucky escape the country had from rule by this economically illiterate tyrant, this is it.

Laura Beers Oct 2022 : An American Professor, Laura Beers, penned an article published on CNN here arguing that there was a moral imperative for Rishi Sunak to call a general election. Setting aside the flaws and clear bias in the arguments she used, Grumpy is always irritated by US politicians (such as Pelosi on the Brexit Agreement) opining on UK domestic politics. Given the current febrile state of US politics it is simply breath taking in its hypocrisy; American politics is not only a poster child for Machiavellian self serving partisanship, it is a poor example of democracy. She states that “no one voted for” Sunak; However, in the US no one ever votes for the President. Hilary Clinton won the ‘popular’ vote in 2016, but the flawed Electoral College made Trump president. The Senate is even worse ; in the USA less than 600,000 Wyoming residents have the same representation as 39 million Californians – hardly democratic.

This as well from someone in a country that didn’t have racial equality in voting until after Grumpy graduated from University. The British need no lessons in political morality from a USA citizen.

Truss saga Oct 2022 : Liz Truss seems to have attracted almost universal vilification by the conservative party and its members. They seem to have collectively forgotten that she was put in place by a long accepted process of the party for democratic elections – they voted her in. The truth is that responsibility for all the events of this month largely rests with them, and their misjudgements. This is particularly true for the membership at large (whose votes took her to a majority), and where one might suspect there was a significant element of a ‘not Sunak’ motivation. Any whinges from the base about higher interest rates can go ignored.

Re-moaner Gauke still moaning

David Gauke, ejected from the Conservative Party because of his repeated failure to accept the 2016 referendum and the policies of his party, is STILL whining about Brexit.

This time it’s delays at the Port of Dover, which he attributes to Brexit because of border checks.

He tweeted “If we were in the EU, the French would not need to do individual passport checks. If no individual passport checks, the process at Dover would be quicker. The Dover queues are, therefore, partly caused by Brexit. Not a contentious point, surely?”

He must be referring to a different Europe to the one Grumpy was a frequent visitor to since the the UK’s joining the EU. Whether at Gare du Nord using the Eurostar, by sea or at airports, Grumpy never once entered any European country via the UK without his passport being checked at the border. The fact is that as the UK never joined the Schengen scheme, passports were always necessary. This is the case today.

Gauke is clearly as ignorant of EU travel requirements as he is disloyal to the party that sponsored him as an MP. In case he reads this, he can check to get his facts right here

… where all is explained. Even if we were still in the EU passports would still be required, as per the official website “When travelling to or from a non-Schengen country you must show a valid ID or passport.

“World Leading” hyperbole I

A favourite expression of politicians seeking to boost their flagging credentials is to describe some manifestation of their efforts as ‘world leading’. Were it to be true, it is a wonderfully opposition proof accolade – you can’t do better than lead the world. It has been used even about the NHS, an organisation which does not respond to emergency calls, has less beds per head of population than Azerbaijan or Romania, and has 6 million citizens waiting for treatment. Yet politicians such as Cameron and the NHS itself refer to delusional goals of ‘world leading’ status, when the reality is that even getting to an acceptable state seems currently unattainable.

Another manifestation is that when world conflicts arise, the UK feels the urge to respond as it might have done a century and a half ago and send in the Navy, when in fact it has less active military personal on a per capita basis than Burundi or Chad (where?). Surprisingly perhaps, it has only one tenth of the number of battle tanks Ukraine has, and significantly less aircraft than Pakistan – both countries which receive largess from taxpayers in aid from the UK.

The reality is that – which a few key and vital exceptions – the UK is not world leading anything. The plain truth is that the UK has little in the way of land resources, even fewer natural resources (apart from maybe coal which is a non-starter), and chronic manpower shortage. However, for something over 300 years, the UK was able to transcend these limitations by stealing resources from weak countries which were subdued by military force and impose an effective dictatorship. Wars were even fought to maintain its position as probably the largest Narco-state the world has seen and kill huge numbers of Chinese natives with opium.

Britain’s apex state status essentially came to an end by 1914, and the Suez crisis of 1957, (which underlined that foreign policy was subject to US approval) put the final nail in the coffin of one of history’s great – and it was huge- Empires.

However, the innate assumption of superiority stemming from the days of the Raj has left its cultural imprint on the Civil Service and some politicians to this day. It’s the feeling that the UK is still a ‘world power’. But the reality is that – in maybe the ultimate irony – the GDP of India is now greater than that of the UK, which languishes in 31st place in world nominal GDP, way behind (as another humiliation) Ireland at no 3.

Grumpy, believes that shedding this historical baggage would open up the opportunity for the country to take another approach and exploit some key assets it does have and find a creditable place in the world, matching our peers in countries of similar size and wealth.

There are areas where the UK could (and in fact does in some cases) rank as world class, as say in certain classes of research. To be world class, however, requires excellence, and that comes from fostering exceptional people. With a curious national trait to shun exceptionalism, the growing woke sector equates this with elitism and works hard to destroy such opportunities. In part II of this post, these opportunities – and the impediments to realising them will be discussed.

Truss 0 Physics 1

Richard Feynman (1918 – 1988) was a Nobel prize winning physicist, who had a particular gift for distilling complex concepts down to simple, clear, layman understandable statements which embodied the essence of their meaning.

He presented a number of fascinating public lectures about the basics of physics, and he posited that there was one simple notion that was at the heart of the scientific process in physics. Essentially, this was that you could propose any theory you wanted about the behaviour of the world, but unless that agreed with observation it was wrong. Period. Importantly he noted that agreeing with observation did not mean that it was correct, but just that it was ‘not wrong’.

The relevance to Ms Truss is that there have been nearly a century of meaningful observations on whether making the rich richer materially improves the lot of the ‘not haves’ relative to those with wealth. The consensus of opinion surely has concluded that not only did ‘trickle down’ not work, but that in the last 20 years the rich in the USA have got spectacularly richer, whilst the relative lot of ‘blue collar’ workers has hardly moved in the same period.

Notwithstanding this, Truss embarked on an attempt to repeat previous failed experiments hoping for a different outcome, and it became clear that the markets did not accept this (whatever her plans might have been for funding it – which were not revealed at the time) .

Worse, the dramatic collapse of her government has – in the space of a few short days – gone from tax cuts to (Jeremy Hunt 14.10.22) to tax rises, austerity again and sacrifices. The sheer speed and scale of this is unique in Grumpy’s lifetime. She must surely be the most inept leader in a century.

The upshot is almost certainly that, barring some catastrophic blunder by the Labour Party or unforeseen misfortune, the Tories (in a twinkling of an eye) will be out of power for at the least one electoral cycle at the next election.

The inward looking conservative MPs who took out Boris in a fit of self-righteous grandstanding over what in historical terms was a trivial transgression must now be rueing the day they trashed an 80 seat majority.

Incompetent Barclay should be ashamed

Steve Barclay, Minister responsible for the lack of Health and Social Care, stated that elderly people who fall or have an accident would probably have to get to hospital on their own.

So imagine a pensioner who has fallen and sustained a broken bone, and is lying immobile on a frozen or wet street in freezing weather The NHS web site says that people with such breaks should not be moved until they have been seen by a qualified medic. So how does Barclay imagine the injured person would get to treatment ?

Worse still, even before the current round of strikes, senior board members from various NHS Trusts have said that the public should not call 999 unless an accident is life threatening.

So, if that edict were followed, as the injury outlined above could not be classed as life threatening until hypothermia sets into the victim at about 03:00 in the morning, they or a passer by should not call 999. There is no other conclusion from the statements issued by the government and the NHS.

Maybe the person could call their GP on their mobile ? No, as a receptionist would tell them that (a) all the days appointments had gone, and that they should call at 08:00 next morning but anyway (b) they do not have the capability of dealing with fractures anyway, so go to A+E.

This is truly surreal circular madness, and the hapless Barclay must know this as he issued words that the only logical conclusion from following them verbatim would be that Granny would be left to die in the street. But, heh ho, it’s a sacrifice worth making to bash the unions with.

This is what the NHS has become. In 1948, the then new NHS took over 480,000 beds. It is now around 160,000 with a much larger population, and the UK has one of the very worst ratios of beds per capita of any European county. The next time Grumpy hears one of these reality blind and deaf politicians utter words about ’40 new hospitals’ and ‘World Class’ he will not be able to restrain himself from banging his head against a wall. Sadly, he would be unable to get any treatment from the resulting injury.

Destruction of two millennia of core justice by Truss

The portrait to the left is of Roman emperor Justinian I (AD 482 to 565), and his key contribution to Roman life was the radical revision of the then core principles of law. {It’s worth mentioning that there was a significant element for the protection of women, should the following discourse lead to the accusation of his being a misogynist.)

A central edict was “Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat” governing evidence in trials. In English, it is “Proof lies on him who asserts, not on him who denies” – in other words, an accused is innocent until proven guilty.

Liz Truss has shown her disdain for this principle – and indeed for basic justice – by subscribing to an approach hitherto adopted by certain vocal social pressure groups (and it has to be said by opposition MP’s and the Guardian newspaper), namely that some nameless accuser is all that is required to sentence the accused.

She sacked her Trade Minister, Connor Burns, on being informed of an allegation against him. Mr Burns was not given any information about the complaint, nor the identity of his accuser, and he was not asked to provide any information. The length of time between allegation and the sacking clearly did not apparently allow any investigation. A Number 10 statement said “Following a complaint of serious misconduct, the prime minister has asked Conor Burns MP to leave the government with immediate effect. The prime minister took direct action on being informed of this allegation”

This speaks volumes to the illiberal nature of Truss’s character and approach to governing. Previously largely restricted to the “meToo” harridans and the ‘Trans’ lobby, she has formalised the approach of abandoning “due process”. Evidence, the opportunity to cross examine, a fair trial by an independent judiciary and by one’s fellow men/women, do not now appear to be required components of a just structure. At least in Russia the accused got a show trial before they were shot.

{There is a clear ‘moral hazard’ here. Ms Truss could just slip a waitress in the Portcullis House cafeteria a few twenties to claim she was slapped on the bottom by Gove, and she could dispose of his Machiavellian subversions. The reversal of Justinian’s codex is an essential building block for totalitarianism.}

A turning point in this development was surely the act of using Parliamentary privilege by Peter Hain to name Philip Green as having been accused of some form of ‘inappropriate behaviour, when there was at that time an injunction in place by the court to prevent such disclosure. Hain (a convicted criminal) claimed it was in the public interest so to do, in spite of having a pecuniary interest in the outcome, and in spite of the plaintiffs having received substantial sums in settlement and signed legally binding agreements not to discuss it.

This preening, hypocritical individual emboldened the accusation = guilty approach to justice firstly for the feminist and trans brigades, but now it seems it has been adopted as policy by the Goverment.

Come back, Boris (and himself a victim the this trend) all is forgiven.

International Rabbit Hole Day

5 year olds answer the question “what is a woman?”

Rachel Reeve, the labour Shadow Chancellor, recently penned an article for International Women’s Day in The Guardian newspaper, titled “It took decades to achieve progress for women – why has it stalled?”.

One answer to that question is that her own labour party is unable to define what a woman actually is, and hence the confusion is who should be seeing progress. Should it include a human with a beard and a penis ? Well certain labour party front benchers wouldn’t rule that out, as they have failed to provide an answer, which the 5 year olds above could easily do.

Yvette Cooper is demonstrably smart; a first in PPE at Balliol, Harvard and the LSE, and although she has never done a job outside of the political metaverse, she has held some fairly senior positions.

However, when the question – “What is a woman? ” – was posed to her, she declined to answer on the basis that to do so would be going down a “rabbit hole”. It is simply astonishing that a person of her intellect, representing a party which seeks to govern the country , is either unable or unwilling to answer the question. Does she really not know ?

The reality is that the vast majority of political discourse is no longer about the core issues for the populace. Donald Trump was elected as 45th President of the USA without, arguably, ever putting forward any concrete policy directions.

Rather the process has become to identify issues – generally nothing to do at all with key matters a government is in power to manage – but which the voters of one party or the other has some leanings to, and can be amplified into a ‘boo’ dog whistle. Trump drove this to an extreme (and now adopted by the Republican Party) in using ‘masks’ , ‘climate change’ and other topics. Mask wearers acting responsibly towards their fellow men in a pandemic were transformed into the radical left, whereas ‘freedom’ loving people who wouldn’t take mandates from a ‘despot’ and ‘tyrant’ (yes, both words were levelled at Biden) were convinced to see masks as an instrument of oppression.

This descent into lunatic politics is now entrenched in the USA; watch or an interview with a Trump supporter at a rally, and remind yourself that these people actually get a vote.

The reason for mentioning this is that in the UK it is clear that everything LGBTQJKA+ (whatever) is now taking that role here. The left is woke, and they can point a finger at the racist, slave loving, homophobic, misogynistic, money grubbing elite on the Boris benches. Worse, as Grumpy has noted several times in this blog, it is part of a movement to eliminate due process; you can now be hounded and cancelled for a unilateral accusation that some word was beyond the pale, which but a short while ago would have been seen as unremarkable.

This needs to be challenged.

Truss guns for Putin

Liz Truss, in her pretend role as all an powerful foreign secretary of a global power, has been proposing that the Putin should  be in irons in the dock in The Haig, being tried by the International Criminal Court (ICC)  for war crimes. Like most of the external initiatives of the UK, it produces good domestic headlines, often aids the USA’s excesses by playing the useful village idiot, but in reality (like ‘net zero’) has no meaningful impact whatsoever on the outcomes in the real world. Setting aside the patently obvious attempts by Truss to play to the gallery for her (no doubt) forthcoming bid to succeed Bojo, her proclamations require more robust analysis.

Firstly, it’s worth noting that the ICC does not have universal support. The country leading the sanctions against Putin, the USA,  has not ratified the ‘Rome Statute’ which governs the activities of the court. Not just that, but it has pro-actively impeded any investigation involving the USA or its citizens. Donald Trump addressed the UN General Assembly and stated that the  “United States will provide no support or recognition to the International Criminal Court. As far as America is concerned the ICC has no jurisdiction, no legitimacy, and no authority.” That’s pretty clear, and appears to have been overlooked by Ms Truss.  Putin’s lawyers might just bring that out against any attempt to arraign him.

It might also be noted that the UK shrugs its shoulders at international justice by ignoring rulings by the International Court of Justice (the UN’s highest court) with regard to the Chagos islands. whose inhabitants were banished to allow the US to build a bomber base there. Mauritius is considering referring the UK for crimes against humanity to the ICC, the very self same body Truss  wishes Putin to be tried at for similar crimes. As the Keir Starmer might say, “it’s one rule for us, and another rule for them”   

Secondly, accusations of war crimes – as with most other humanitarian transgressions -always tend to be suffocatingly hypocritical; “let he who is without sin cast the first stone” springs to mind. Especially in this woke age, when the world starts examining historical perspectives, the callous realpolitik of the US exercising its position of the world’s dominant power is hardly the voice of pious judgement.

One act cited as evidencing war crimes was the use of cluster munitions, which are subject of an international treaty, the “Convention on Cluster Munitions”. One non signatory to this is Saudi Arabia – a key US ally, where there is evidence that they have been used by them in the Yemen, including weapons sold to them by the British and the USA. Moreover, the USA has not ratified the cluster convention, and indeed has taken steps under Trump to continue their use, along with land mines

. A Martian reading this would be taken aback by this sanctimonious cant. It’s as though a judge trying a drugs case took a break to take a snort of the white stuff. Grumpy carries no banners for Putin, but the reality is that military conflict  is messy  and In the ‘fog of war’, Stuff Happens, as Donald Rumsfeld once observed about bad things happening in Iraq.  Surely the focus should be longer term steps to create a framework for European stability in particular and the world in general, rather than grandstanding in Parliament. One reason for a more strategic perspective is that  these events are just a rehearsal  for the inevitable China / USA showdown.