You find a well used and sharpened kitchen knife in an alleyway on a housing estate, take it home and report it to the police. They log it, give you a reference number, tell you to bag it up and take it to the police station.
When you get to the police station do they …
The answer, of course, is throw it in the knife amnesty bin. I mean, why would the police want to see if a known criminal has been walking around a housing estate with a knife? That could lead to all sorts of paperwork …
What passes for negotiations between the UK and the EU on what the relationship between the two will look like from next year are floundering thanks to the intransigence and unreasonableness of the EU.
The EU is demanding unprecedented access to our fishing waters, the right to impose laws on us and for the EU courts to continue to have jurisdiction in the UK. They call this a “level playing field”.
There is a fundamental misunderstanding about what these negotiations are about. It’s not the UK negotiating from a position of weakness, asking for the price of doing a deal with the EU because we’re desperate. It’s the world’s 5th largest economy offering the EU the opportunity to continue doing business with its largest trading partner with fewer barriers and tariffs.
A level playing field means fair and equitable, not unbalanced and punitive terms to try and force us into a perpetually weakened position. The EU has acted in bad faith throughout this entire process, nothing they offer us will be to our favour. We need to stop wasting time on this sham negotiation, put the current offer back on the table a week before new year and walk away if the EU don’t accept it.
Germany has passed a law outlawing the burning of an EU flag.
The new law makes desecrating any national flag in Germany a hate crime and have included the EU’s ring of stars logo. It is also a hate crime to use the EU’s anthem, Ode to Joy, in a derogatory way.
Offences are punishable with up to 3 years in prison.
The British government has stepped in to bail out Transport for London today but Mayor Khan has had to accept some uncomfortable terms to get the cash.
TfL has seen a 90% reduction in income caused by the lockdown and spent the last of its cash reserves today. They have been given £1.1bn in cash and a £505m loan with strings attached. Khan has been running TfL at a loss, freezing fares for the last 4 years and it has been running up big debts.
Khan has had to agree to get the busses and trains back to 100% capacity as soon as possible, price increases, a review of TfL’s finances, seats on the board, ending free travel for pensioners at peak times and regular reports to the British government on staff absence levels. And just to rub salt in the wound he’s had to agree to replace his “Stay at Home” posters on the tube with the British government’s “Stay Alert” ones.
The British Secretary of State for English Transport, Grant Shapps, said that it was important that people from outside of London weren’t bailing out London. Amusingly, he said “You can’t then have an unfair settlement, where other British taxpayers are effectively bailing out the system” which pretty much sums up the Barnett Formula. But the penny has dropped at least as far as London is concerned although it is unlikely to see London cease to be at the top of the table for identifiable public spending in England.
The best thing for Londoners is for the British government to create an English Parliament to take control of the London Assembly and TfL, along with the metropolitan mayors they’ve created in our country so that power can be shared in a consistent and coherent way across England. The money wasted on building the apparatus of state in London could be much better spent on things like affordable housing, tackling homelessness and poverty and stopping kids from stabbing each other in the city. Staffing costs for the London Assembly have risen 82% since Khan became mayor and it employs about four times as many people as the Northern Irish Assembly which runs a whole country (when it isn’t suspended).
London is not a city state despite Mayor Khan’s pretensions.
The MP for Shrewsbury & Atcham, Daniel Kawczynski, is trying to use the Coronavirus to campaign for the abolition of devolution in Wales.
Kawczynski is unhappy with the “expensive and unnecessary” Welsh government having different lockdown rules to England meaning his constituents can’t go to the beach in Wales.
He was particularly unhappy with the Welsh First Minister recording a video message aimed at English people telling them that the British government’s lockdown rules only apply to England because British politicians won’t say England.
Kawczynski is worried that the Welsh government having different rules poses a risk to the “cohesion of Britain”. He cites the golf courses in Shropshire that straddle the border as a reason for overturning the Welsh votes of 1997 and 2011 and abolishing the Senedd.
What Kawczynski and other British nationalists are most worried about isn’t that Scottish and Welsh devolution will lead to them becoming independent but that lack of devolution in England will lead to a backlash that will break the union. They can’t afford to put England on an equal footing with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland because their privileged position in the union is what keeps the flame of unionism burning and they can’t afford for the people of England to start asserting their Englishness because the whole house of cards will come tumbling down. This is why you’ll never hear a British politician say England if they can say Britain or the country instead.
Boris Johnson addressed the nation last night to outline the slight relaxation of the lockdown rules but it was left to the First Minister of Wales to tell English people that the announcement only applies to England.
The new rules mean people in England can travel wherever they want for exercise and relaxation as long as they maintain social distancing with effect from Wednesday. The Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments chose not to follow the British government’s rule changes for England and the restrictions on movement still apply there.
There is an unwritten rule in Westminster that England must not be named. The racist devolution system that excludes England and the British establishment’s tenuous grip on political power in England relies on the institutional discrimination not becoming a topic of conversation in England. That means that when Boris talks about lockdown rules in England he talks about the country. When Ministers go on TV and radio to talk about the lockdown rules in England they talk about the country. When people listen to them talking about the lockdown rules in the country they don’t hear England.
So because Boris et al don’t explain that they only speak for England the First Minister of Wales was forced to do it for them this morning with a message to English people telling them that Wales is still locked down and to stay away. That’s right, the First Minster of Wales had to tell the people of England that the British prime minister only makes the rules for England.
An English Parliament with an English First Minister taking charge of England’s response to the Coronavirus would have ensured there was no confusion as to who the new rules applied to. And when this pandemic is over and done with it would ensure there was no confusion as to which country they were talking about when politicians were talking about transport, fishing, environment, farming, forestry, education, health, social care, housing, planning, local government, sport, culture and tax.
A couple of days ago it was VE Day. All over the country people flew flags from their homes and other buildings. Mostly it was was the British flag but there were quite a lot of English flags to be seen as well.
I read a comment from someone on Facebook suggesting that flying the English flag instead of the British flag implies that only the English contributed to VE Day and that would be beyond the pale (his words). It was prompted by a misunderstanding but it does show that for some people there is a instinctive belief that only the British flag is acceptable such events.
The terminal decline of the British identity is well documented by pollsters. It has its temporary peaks but the downward trend continues unabated. The military response in the second world war was undoubtedly British and all of the member states of the UK fought alongside each other equally. The original VE Day celebrations saw union flags everywhere which was reflective of the prevailing national identity and that’s not the case in 2020.
But the fact that all of this was done under the British flag then doesn’t mean that we have to fly the British flag now. Things have moved on in the last 75 years and the UK has changed fundamentally. We don’t expect the Slovaks to fly the Czechoslovakian flag or the Russians to fly the Soviet flag when they mark the end of the war in Europe, we shouldn’t expect English people to fly the British flag either.
The British government have launched a contact tracking mobile phone app on the Isle of Wight to help identify contact with people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
Which is great … except it isn’t.
Google and Apple are both rolling out changes to their Android and iOS operating systems to enable contact tracking. Their system records contacts via bluetooth and those contacts are stored on your own device. Data doesn’t get transferred to a central database.
The NHS app tracks your contacts and uploads them to a central database when you confirm you have tested positive. The central system behind that database will work out who you’ve been in contact with and notify you. The state then has a big database containing comprehensive data on the movement and associations of millions of people.
Most countries building contact tracing apps are using Google and Apple’s decentralised contact tracing technology that doesn’t involve building tracking databases. The fact that the British government chose to build a big database when one wasn’t needed speaks volumes.
A lot of money has been invested in this tracking app and it will be installed by millions of people who are being told that it will “protect the NHS and save lives”. Once the current pandemic is finished the technology isn’t going to be abandoned, it’ll be expanded and used for other things. It’s the thin end of the wedge and I will have no part of it.