Friday, September 23, 2011

Science is Never “Settled”

The likes of George Monbiot and Al Gore get pretty hysterical about global warming / cooling / dimming or whatever current theory is in vogue. The science is settled / the evidence is overwhelming they scream in an attempt to block any debate. In reality physicists, as a sub-section of the scientific community, are a lot less keen on the whole carbon and climate scare racket. Scientists are not usually unanimous on any subject which is complex.

The world’s leading physicists at CERN reckon they have discovered neutrinos travelling faster than the speed of light. If proven correct this will undermine a key part of Einstein’s accepted theory which constitutes the standard model of science. Of course it was once standard settled science that the atom could not be divided and it was the “settled science” until Copernicus that the earth was at the centre of the universe. The next time Monbiot tries to shut down debate by claiming scientific authority for his theories, ask him if the atom can be split or can anything travel faster than light? Climate changes undoubtedly, the significance of humanity’s carbon outputs is debatable. CERN has today shown that science is never entirely settled…

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Guardian’s Self-Delusion

The police have tight rules on releasing information to the press for fear it could prejudice a trial and because over the course of an investigation police arrest suspects to eliminate them from inquiries once they determine their innocence. Occasionally a suspect’s name gets into the press. Remember Chris Jefferies, the landlord of  murdered student Joanna Yeates? Jefferies has received “substantial” libel damages from eight newspapers – Sun, Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, Daily Mail, Daily Record, Daily Express, Daily Star and Scotsman – in relation to “seriously defamatory” allegations made against him after he was identified as a police suspect. There are often extremely good reasons for police investigations remaining confidential.

The Guardian has been gleefully naming suspects in the News International investigation, sometimes telling us who is going to be arrested before they actually have been. The Metropolitan Police have turned in frustration to section 5 of the 1989 Official Secrets Act, which covers “damaging” information leaked by government officials, including police officers, when it is “likely to impede … the prosecution of suspected offenders”. Now bear in mind that the Guardian case against News International is that they had inappropriate relations with Metropolitan Police officers which were corrupt and the sensitivity of this becomes manifest. Nobody is suggesting that the Guardian bribed police officers, but there is such a thing as “client journalism”, where sources trade information and in return the journalist slants stories to make the client source look good. The reward for the source is an enhanced reputation which among other things boosts their prospects of promotion. When the source has a bad news moment, the journalist will cover-up or spin the story and protect their client-source’s interests. This is why client journalism is implicitly dishonest if not corrupt.

Police rules are clear:

“The release of information concerning current investigations may compromise any subsequent court proceedings. Police investigations are conducted with due regard to the confidentiality and privacy of victims, witnesses and suspects.” 

The Guardian has been making hay with the many violations of these rules by News of the World journalists. Once again the Guardian expects to be treated differently from the tabloids. The News of the World’s relationship to the Metropolitan Police was evidence of a corrupt media-police nexus, when the Guardian has an unlawful relationship with a Metropolitan Police officer it is, they froth, “a public interest investigation”. Just as when the Guardian avoids taxes offshore it is not, for some inexplicable reason, like when other firms do it. When Guardian journalists hack phones it is somehow different, journalists have to have the editor’s approval before hacking phones according to internal guidelines. The editor of the Guardian seems to think that his paper is above the law, and that he can be judge and jury when it comes to his paper hacking phones and compromising police investigations.

UPDATE: Metropolitan Police have issued a statement saying “This is an investigation into the alleged gratuitous release of information that is not in the public interest.” Quite.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Why Can’t Progressives “Be the Change They Want to See”?

Guido had a bit of a dig at the three-houses-owning, multi-millionairess, anti-poverty campaigner Polly Toynbee last week. She responded that Guido was laying the charge of “Champagne socialist” against her, something which Guido has yet to do. More on the money was this part of her rebuttal:-

“…you say we should be Gandhi-like saints and give everything away before we can advocate being taxed more. The point about tax is that’s it’s collective – it’s an “I will if you will” deal. I see no hypocrisy in any of this – but no doubt you will go on spreading ad hominem empty spite – instead of engaging fairly with the substance of the argument.”

Engaging with the substance of her argument, Guido asks, why is progress towards her social democratic utopia an “I will if you will” deal? If it is conditional on reciprocation from the likes of Guido it will never happen. Millions of us already feel over-taxed, like her employers we’re going to hold on to every tax break and tax haven we can come hell or Edward Balls. If she thinks she is under-taxed she can do something about it tomorrow, pay the Treasury more, they really do accept donations to bring down the deficit. Polly could give her own self-defined “unjust rewards” – for that is how she describes her own income – to charity and live more like the common people. Instead she chooses to keep the rewards that put her in the top 1% of income earners.

The home in London worth a million-and-a-half, the house in the country, the villa in Italy, the sheer inequality of it all must play on the conscience of a progressive social democrat. Her get out for keeping all is that she won’t make the sacrifice unless the likes of the greedy and privileged bankers in the neighbouring villas do so as well. Do you see the flaw in this aspiration?

Polly’s excuse for educating her children in private schools is that the state schools were crap at the time. The exact same reason the Fawkes girls go to schools whose existence Polly Toynbee now campaigns against. Another case of “do as I say, not as I do”.  

Meanwhile the next generation of progressives is lining up to be no less hypocritical than the last. Will Straw commends Tory MPs Matthew Hancock and Nadhim Zahawi who in their new book Masters of Nothing argue that the banking crisis was partly due to a lack of women in trading rooms. Too much testosterone contributed to the debt crisis apparently, well that and a lack of pay transparency among other things.

ipprWill is a wonk at the IPPR, the key policy and propaganda think-tank of the progressive soft left. So how does IPPR do on the gender equality and pay transparency front? Guido asked Will, IPPR’s associate director, how much he earns he refused to say or even give an average for associate directors at the IPPR. Pay transparency is only for bankers, not policy makers it seems. 

On gender equality the IPPR has 9 male serving directors out of 12 at the top. At the bottom 7 out of 8 operations staff are female. Another progressive case of “do as I say, not as I do”.  

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Harriet Harman is Gangsta Mutha #1

It was Erin Pizzey, the founder of the first refuge for battered women, who in the late eighties identified Labour’s then radicals Harriet Harman and Patricia Hewitt as dangerous feminist  ideological enemies of the family. Harman and Hewitt were in those days leading lights of the loony left’s radical feminist wing, arguing in pamphlet after pamphlet that “It cannot be assumed that men are bound to be an asset to family life, or that the presence of fathers in families is necessarily a means to social harmony and cohesion.” After decades of agitation, which influenced social policy as well as social workers, their attack on men and their role in modern life has reached its nadir in Tottenham. Local MP David Lammy put it bluntly last week: “We are seeing huge consequences of the lack of male role models in young men’s lives..” Harriet Harman is the ideological single-mother of those gangsta rioters.

Peter Oborne correctly identifies that behind the scenes New Labour’s party policy was captured by the likes of Harman and Hewitt who viewed the traditional two-parent family as an instrument of male, patriarchal oppression. The riots are the toxic legacy of such poisonous “progressive” attitudes.

In government Iain Duncan Smith has perhaps only until the next election to reverse decades of progressive social policies, he has to make work pay for people who have known only inter-generational worklessness and rebuild the traditional family as the prevailing societal norm. That task first starts in the think-tanks, moves onto the broadsheet editorial pages, before becoming a stated policy objective eventually leading to changes in the infrastructure of social policy. There is also a necessity for a reversal of the secular kulturkampf which progressives have waged to make non-judgemental, moral relativism the only acceptable official view. We are currently only at the think-tank and broadsheet editorial stage.

Harman’s 1990 IPPR  pamphlet “The Family Way” was described by Feminist Review as “An attempt to combat stultifying, traditionalist concepts of ‘the family'”. We have reached the end of that decades long struggle by Fabians and feminists to undermine the family; with 40%  of children born outside marriage and a minority of childhoods completed in the household of both biological parents. It is now apparent to all that few if any of Harriet Harman’s gangsta progeny come from those supposedly stultifying traditional families.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Fatherless Feral Youths

Yesterday Guido tweeted that he “Would bet that the majority of the homes of those looting youths are fatherless”. Andrew Neil chimed in pointing out that “Surveys suggest that in areas like Tottenham as many as 80% families have absent/no fathers. Similar to worst ghettoes in US… Pointing out most underclass families are fatherless [is] different from blaming single mothers”. The progressive twittersphere went spare, as if this observation was somehow controversial.  

It is self-evident that the welfare state has fundamentally undermined the family, enabling and actually encouraging fatherless families to become commonplace. This is a social disaster. Welfare incentives are powerful nudges in a negative direction. Downing Street wonks should understand that “nudge theory” works two ways, not always in a positive direction.

The scale of the problem is immense, in a generation since the sixties the percentage of births outside marriage has risen from 5% to 40%. Some of those are in co-habiting couples – which unfortunately are more fragile than traditional marriages – however the majority are brought up in fatherless households. A Civitas study found that children living without their biological fathers are more likely to get into trouble at school, to have adjustment problems and eventually go to jail. Iain Duncan Smith can’t solve deep social problems with welfare reform alone. Society needs to reverse decades of failed “progressive” thinking about the family and social norms. A culture which makes no value judgements about how we raise our children is creating tomorrow’s looters and rioters.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

To Grow Faster, Go Further

Growth is anaemic, that much of the Balls critique is true, the cause is not the government’s spending cuts, they have barely started, the £6 billion down payment on deficit reduction is not even 1% of GDP. Some of the reasons are external; US economic doldrums, Japanese earthquake related supply-chain disruption, cost push inflation and some are internal; lack of business and consumer confidence, difficult credit markets and rising interest rate expectations. So what is to be done?

The IMF report recommends

“…tax cuts are faster to implement and more credibly temporary than expenditure shifts and should be targeted to investment, low-income households, or job creation to increase their multipliers… Simultaneous adoption of deeper long-run entitlement reform would be desirable to safeguard fiscal sustainability and market confidence…”

It also points out that

“The level of public spending as a percentage of GDP in our forecast has reduced by about half a per cent of GDP as compared to the previous fiscal year. However, it remains very far above the pre-crisis levels of spending and represents a long-term high in spending. It’s important to maintain that perspective”

Plan B, the Balls plan, is for higher taxes and more spending, the same plan Brown had which took us to the brink of bankruptcy with the biggest government deficit in the G20. That can be dismissed as a failed ideology, now tried for 13 years and tested to destruction. If faster growth is required the IMF actually recommends an accelerated Plan A, “Plan A+”, cutting taxes for those on low-incomes, cutting welfare payments to those who are healthy yet on long-term unemployment benefits and cutting overall government spending back to where it was before Gordon. The UK is cutting public spending slower than Obama and at a rate slower than even the EU average.

The IMF’s Plan A+ to boost growth should be considered along with supply-side reforms to boost business confidence, if we rolled back government spending there would be more room for income tax cuts to boost consumer confidence. If we want more private sector jobs and to grow the economy fast and sustainably, Plan A+ makes sense. Preferably sooner rather than later.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Bank of England’s Great Inflation Swindle

Before finishing his term on the Monetary Policy Committee Andrew Sentance warned that the Bank of England is in danger of losing its credibility on inflation. Guido has been warning since 2008 that inflation is not a blip and that it was baked in to the economy. Letter after letter from Mervyn King to the Chancellor has excused missing the inflation target as temporary and promised it would decline in the months ahead. Promises now shown to be demonstrably false.

Ladies and gentlemen, Guido presents the Great Inflation Swindle, we have just seen the second-biggest one-month increase on record and a record high in core CPI yet the Governor of the Bank of England has told us for 3 years inflation was a blip and that the real danger was deflation. It was a deliberate lie to excuse the most reckless monetary loosening since… well, actually monetary policy has been too loose globally since back to 1998 when Greenspan “saved the world” after Long Term Capital’s financial theory geeks had a close encounter of the reality kind. The loosening up of monetary policy to smooth the aftermath of that hedge fund collapse told financial risk takers to rack up the risk because central banks would step in if you got in to trouble. Everyone was “too big to fail”. Central bankers turned capitalism from a system of profit and loss into a system of private profits and socialised losses. Taxpayers had their chips put on the gambling table without even being asked. 

From 1998 to 2008 central bankers failed in their primary task of taking the punch-bowl away when the financial party gets too swinging, drunk on cheap credit and easy profits. In 2008 the solution when the excrement hit the air-conditioning, with interest rates already at rock bottom, was Quantitative Easing (QE). The excuses given for printing money on such a massive-scale were two-fold, to ward off  an imaginary “deflation” bogeyman and to provide an economic stimulus. Those of us who said this would inevitably result in inflation were shouted down. We now have inflation at almost double target and rising, the huge cost of the monetary stimulus has provided very little growth and undermined Cameron’s stated aim of “sound money“.

“Sound money” is not something that the Bank of England seems to be aiming for or even expecting. Guido has remarked on the Bank of England Pension trustees prescience before, their success is a little short of scandalous. If there was evidence of insider trading at a normal fund the investors would be in jail. Whilst Mervyn King’s Bank of England scaremongers about a deflation bogeyman his pension bets on the exact opposite – buying inflation protected securities on an amazing scale. Guido has discovered that Mervyn King’s pension is 94.7%* invested in index-linked, inflation protected securities, up from an already remarkably high 88.2% the year before.

This is the exact opposite of what you would do if you really feared deflation, in a deflationary environment fixed income securities rocket, out-performing index-linked securities. Mervyn King’s Bank of England pension pot profits from doing the exact opposite of what it should if the trustees believed the Governor’s pronouncements were credible.  This is no accident, Guido believes it is the deliberate policy of the Fed and the Bank of England, with the complicity of their political masters in the US Treasury and HM Treasury, to inflate their government debts away. Inflation is a pernicious form of taxation, it punishes the old and those who save and leads to a worse reckoning in the end. We are being deliberately swindled by the political elite.

*Just 22% of UK gilts are inflation-protected, the Bank of England pension fund’s skew towards expecting inflation is that pronounced.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Schillings Backlash: Injunction Industry Under Fire
Parliament Should Define Privacy Limitations

The Schillings backlash has commenced in full, the tabloids are splashing on front page stories about Schillings’ losing clients with gusto. Schillings lost a case about Gordon Ramsey’s father-in-law yesterday to The Sun, over a case originally taken out by Schillings against Guido’s virtual mother, Popbitch, rubbing more salt into Schillings’ wounds.

The make-up of the recent Lord Neuberger Committee on super-injunctions – set up to investigate the supposed “need for a privacy law” – included lawyers involved in making their millions from the injunction industry; Rod Christie-Miller, CEO of Schillings, and Alasdair Pepper, a Carter-Ruck partner, argued their case successfully.

Privacy law is based on the European Convention on Human Rights which was formulated in the 1950s,  Article 8 enshrined an individual’s right to a private and family life at a time when totalitarianism stalked Europe. Millions were oppressed, the rights of shagging celebrities were not foremost in the drafter’s minds. It was envisaged to protect individuals from the state.

Lord Wakeham, a former chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, argues this morning that the the Human Rights Act could be amended, rather than just repealed:-

“..possibly by limiting the role of the Courts to dealing with issues that impact only on public authorities and the State (as the drafters of the Convention envisaged). That would leave the media outside the direct supervision of the Courts on privacy issues and enable the PCC – which can react much more swiftly to changes in newspaper technology than the law will ever be able to do so – to reassert its primacy in this area, as Parliament always intended.”

In Ireland the ECHR was incorporated into the constitution only in 2006, Irish judges so far have taken the Wakeham view, correctly in Guido’s opinion, that Article 8 is to protect individuals from unlawful privacy violations by the state and agencies of the state. It protects individuals only from journalists who use illegal means; hacking, stealing photos, sneaking onto private property and similar. It has not so far been used to hide the embarrassment of adulterous politicians and footballers. That is how Article 8 should be properly interpreted and parliament should make the law explicitly clear.

A few years ago an Irish High Court judge gave Carter-Ruck’s representatives short shrift and a bollocking over an application they made for a gagging-injunction against a certain charming, cheeky Irish blogger on behalf of a rich British politician and his socialite freedom of speech campaigner sister. For legal reasons Guido can’t say any more…

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Richest Man in Britain, Lakshmi Mittal,
Has Super-Injunction Muzzling the Press

Lord Neuberger, the Master of the Rolls, whose report on super-injunctions is out today, will help determine if Britain is to have a free press or not in the future.

Lakshmi Mittal is the richest man in Britain, he has given the Labour Party over £2 million in donations. Since 2008 it has been an offence punishable by imprisonment to even say he has a super-injunction. Why? What is it about? You shall not know. Editors fear his wealth and the wrath of judges. Do we really want a country where journalists fear imprisonment for writing the truth?

In 1948 Britain helped draft the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19 declares:

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

No judge should presume to dare to take away our rights in order to protect the privacy of the rich and powerful. If France had less stringent privacy laws and a less craven press, Dominique Strauss-Kahn might not have got away with doing what he has done for years. The freedom of the press is a check on the powerful and a restraint on them. This is not about Ryan Giggs’ sex-life, it is about knowing the truth about the powerful. Remember Lakshmi Mittal when privacy advocates attack “tittle-tattle”.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The “Progressive Majority” Delusion

The noisy progressives in our public life are forever claiming there is a “progressive majority” in Britain. If it was not for Murdoch, the City and the editor of the Daily Mail they would lead us into the social democratic utopia that the people so desire. That is basically the underlying worldview of many at the BBC, Guardian editorial meetings and the young wonks in the think-tanks around Ed Miliband. Tony Blair understood that this was a delusion which electorally crippled the Labour Party and the somewhat flakier LibDems. He fashioned a left-of-centre platform which addressed the real concerns of voters.

The British people are sceptical about “progressives”, their language and their disconnection from the reality of  their lives. The “progressive” idea that switching to the Alternative Vote was important to ordinary people, who are not on the whole interested in politics, was delusional. There is no untapped progressive majority outside the media and political elites.

It is one thing to be youthful and idealistically progressive, believing if only we cared and shared everything would be alright. When you become a taxpayer, parent or home owner you are mugged by reality. Caring and sharing with your family becomes your priority, that is human nature. The amount of your salary that goes to HMRC, the fear of crime, a desire for better schools for your children and the cost of petrol become more important priorities. Guido speaks to Labour Party supporters who think that Ed Miliband is overly influenced by “progressive” voices, his support for switching to the Alternative Vote shows that in truth Ed Miliband is himself a “progressive”. Voters are not.


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