UNRELIABLE STATISTICS, Green Party edition
Caroline Lucas is a cornucopia. Unreliable Statistics has to be filled, and the sometime leader of the Green Party filled it by herself from a single speech. In the debate on Wednesday’s Finance Bill, she told the House:
You have to love that “scientific reality”.
The two most unreliable computer models in existence are climate models and economic models. In climate catastrophe discourse they combine in fluid and chaotic combinations that Navier Stokes equations can’t describe.
It’s not the science that’s at fault – it’s the science activists. And then the science activist lobbyists. And then the science activist politicians. And then Caroline Lucas.
RESEARCH HAS SHOWN THAT:
At a moment when Scottish support for independence reached a new high, the SNP elected a new leader in Westminster. Stephen Flynn seems a nice man, but troubled. Rishi Sunak welcomed him very nicely and “looked forward to constructive engagement” with him on the future of Scotland (laughter).
But to ask again the perennial question, what is the SNP doing in Westminster?
It’s nice to be able to provide a safe space for a political party to work through their problems. I suppose that’s the sort of people we English are. We welcome, don’t we? We give the Scottish Nationalist Party a quarter of our parliamentary benches to exercise their indigenous practices of abusing and reviling us who oppress and control and deny them democracy.
In our own ways, we English are the Queen, and the SNP is one big, various, multi-dimensional Prince Harry.
Maybe they will achieve the thing they say they want. But Guido worries how Scoxit will end.
If they do get their independence, they won’t be able to join the EU at once. They’ll have to adopt the Euro; they’ll have Greece-style austerity imposed on them, and they’ll go bust before their application goes through. At that point – abandoned by Brussels – as sure as gravity, we will have to bail them out. Our old friends, how could we ignore their piteous cries for help, warmth and shelter?
They’ll be seeking asylum by the million. The Lowlands will clear themselves. The SNP will demand representation in Westminster again.
Every cloud has a silver lining: it would be an ideal outcome for all independence-minded Scots. They will have refreshed their rationale for hating the English for the next 300 years. A country needs a reason to exist; it would cost us little and give them so much.
This last week, on 96 occasions, one MP “paid tribute” to another MP for good work, good effort, good effect. “Passionate advocacy” was applauded, as was “doughty defence” and “stalwart support”. Emily Thornberry got tribute for the tone she was striking.
Ninety-six “tributes” in a week.
Even Andrew Bridgen got some. Alas for Unfortunate Andrew, parliamentary tribute is not bankable.
It was not always thus.
A hundred years ago, Hansard tell us the Cyprus tribute was £215,000 – that has the tang of reality to it. In 1828, Palmerston announced that Greece was to become a dependency of Turkey and pay them an annual tribute, “to be determined by common consent” (smothered laughter).
Having said that, the very first edition of Hansard in 1803 records a tribute “to the criminal jurisprudence” of Ireland. In the following 20 years the term was used, sometimes in its fiscal sense but very often in its current usage, 297 times.
“Paying tribute” has expanded from those modest beginnings to the present day. Since the turn of this century, there have been 50,000 (fifty thousand!) instances of “tribute”. So, in 200 years, its usage has expanded from 297 occasions to 50,000.
It’s an expansion on the scale of income tax – which was introduced around the same time at some few pence in the pound. MPs might bear in mind that what “tribute” actually means is us giving them half our income every year.
Last week in the Chamber, Michael Gove called a Labour MP, “My honourable Friend”. Johnny Mercer did the same, twice. Other Tories have been doing it, too. Repeatedly. It’s not a mistake anymore.
Even new Tory MPs know their own side is “my hon. Friend,” and the other side “the hon. Member”.
Something else is in play.
The beast was thought to be mythical but it seems that “a kinder, gentler politics” has emerged from the jungle, on soft feet.
We frequently hear a criticised minister respond with: “Can I gently say.” Also, caught last week, the very phrase David Cameron invented: “The hon. Lady is absolutely right and we will do exactly as she suggests.” What a swell of fellow feeling went through Labour women when he said that back in 2010.
Some of us remember the tribal, terrace-end politics under Blair and Brown. There was real angst and aggro there. Nicholas Soames goading John Prescott at the dispatch box: “Gin and tonic, Giovanni,” he’d heckle the minister. The flick on the nose is very much more enraging than the body blow.
Gordon Brown told his backbenches that the fundamental purpose of the Tory party was to suppress and frustrate the ambitions of the working class. He published a briefing document for them. It might have been called The Protocols of the Elders of Eton with its blood libels on the Conservative party.
No one was calling their opponents “my hon. Friend” across the aisle in those days.
That feeling – that opponents were wicked – was resurrected under Corbyn.
Observers say they see Keir Starmer returning to the class war, but he’s not really. Not like it has been. He wants to be friends with the enemy. He wants them to vote for him.
If this détente seems far-fetched, Guido will be collecting examples of this peculiar phenomenon for next week’s Shorts.