Archive — Politics

Britain’s open borders policy

Britain’s open borders policy

Whilst cycling the other day, I crossed the Leicestershire-Rutland border. And I was shocked to see…nothing. No border controls, no passport checks, no customs officials. Here in Rutland we have an open borders policy.

Chris Dillow makes the point that most of the debate around immigration and borders does not relate to economics.

This is part of the reason why it’s futile to try to argue with Brexiteers or Scottish independence fanatics around the economics of creating new borders. When it comes down to it, they just don’t care.

Economicky arguments for migration controls are just distractions and, I suspect, often dishonest ones.

Feelings around immigration boil down to feelings about the other.

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Revealed: How Britain’s biggest local TV company has “gamed” the BBC for licence fee payers’ money

Revealed: How Britain’s biggest local TV company has “gamed” the BBC for licence fee payers’ money

Jeremy Hunt’s scheme to create a network of low-budget local TV stations was absurd from the get-go. Seven years on, it is clear that the scheme is a complete flop, with many of the stations unable to make ends meet.

In Scotland, STV2 — which was made up of five local licenses — is being closed down. The licenses appear to have been sold to the largest local TV company, That’s TV.

This BuzzFeed article outlines exactly how delightful this operation appears to be.

In summary, this is a company that seems to have been set up with the intention of exploiting the local TV model to extract license fee payers’ cash from the BBC in exchange for unusable local news reports made by inexperienced and poorly-paid reporters.

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Chinese firms pile in to sponsor World Cup 2018 amid Fifa fallout

Chinese firms pile in to sponsor World Cup 2018 amid Fifa fallout

As Western firms have begun to desert Fifa due to the corruption scandal, Chinese firms have seized the opportunity to “to get their brands in front of billions of global eyeballs”.

It has been noted that companies are more willing these days to take a stand (see also ABC cancelling a sitcom because its star is racist). But this appears to be a western phenomenon.

Chinese firms seem to have no qualms around being associated with Fifa. Perhaps this is a dimension to keep an eye on as China becomes more and more important on the global stage.

This year’s Fifa World Cup provides a unique opportunity for little-known Chinese companies to get huge amounts of exposure to global consumers.

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Food: a class issue

Food: a class issue

Why Jamie Oliver’s stunts like trying to ban two-for-one pizza offers are counter-productive and damaging to the poor.

…there’s a deeper and nasty question here: if we can’t trust the poor to feed themselves properly, what can we trust them to do?…

The problem is capitalism, not the poor.

Some of you might have an inkling as to why the millionaire Jamie Oliver and old Etonian Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall don’t choose this route.

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The problem with professionals

The problem with professionals

Paul Taylor argues that the professional class will bring about its own demise. He notes that organisations appear to be becoming more, not less, siloed (“whole sectors are still just talking to themselves”). Moreover, this “disconnection” is visible to the general public, who catch glimpses of this behaviour on social media.

A couple of weeks ago I was on holiday flicking through Instagram. By complete chance, the algorithm had placed two photographs directly above each other.

  • Firstly was the imposing black husk of Grenfell Tower – a monument to the dead and ignored.
  • Next to it was a picture from a sector awards ceremony, with a champagne bottle placed in front of some happy smiling ‘professionals’, celebrating how good we are at engaging communities.
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The Facebook current

The Facebook current

The Senate hearing into Facebook has come to be seen as a bit of a sideshow, partly because the questioning was so inadequate. But this article outlines why it was a bigger deal than it might seem at first glance.

[T]here was a significant amount of agreement amongst the Senators… that something needed to be done about Facebook. Forget the specifics, for a paragraph, because this is a notable development: while these hearings usually devolve into partisan cliches with the same talking points — Democrats want regulations, and Republicans don’t — yesterday Senators from both sides of the aisle expressed unease with Facebook’s handling of private data; obviously Democrats tried to tie the issue to the last election, but that made the Republicans’ shared concern all-the-more striking.

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How can we incentivise the digital world to make safer services?

How can we incentivise the digital world to make safer services?

How regulation came to be in railways, engineering and cars — and what this tells us about how digital services may be regulated.

Trigger points for regulation have varied depending on the field, the period of history and the country. However, the thing all these triggers have in common is a change in attitudes. People need to demand change to incentivize companies to make their products and services safer.

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Centrism isn’t dead – we just need a new word

Centrism isn’t dead – we just need a new word

I find it strange that so much attention is being put on centrism at the moment. I definitely do not identify with either the left or the right. But I have rarely used the word centrist to describe myself. Partly because I find it quite meaningless, and perhaps also because it assumes I am seeking a middle ground (which is sometimes true, but not always).

In an increasingly polarised political landscape, the idea of centrism is actually beginning to appeal to me more — even as it is becoming exceptionally unfashionably in certain quarters.

This article makes the argument for the need of “a rational approach to politics”, not a centrism that is simply “stuck in the middle”.

I simply want a term that adequately describes the need to shout “leave me out of this insane squabbling” or “I want no part of this imbecilic narrative”. What we are perhaps crying out for is a new term for politics that isn’t defined by the end points but by the process; defined not by the beliefs but the rational steps the lead us to those beliefs.

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A year after United’s public-relations disaster

A year after United’s public-relations disaster

What happened after United violently removed a passenger against his will from an overbooked flight? What do you think…?

Flyers may have said in that survey that they’d avoid United, but they really kept choosing whichever airline offered the best price and itinerary. And often that was United. In the month that followed the Dao incident, United flew more passengers than a year earlier, posted its biggest gains in months in passenger-miles flown, and had its fewest cancellations in its history (and fewer than any of its main competitors). A month after the incident, United’s share price hit an all-time high.

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‘The third era of Zuck’: how the CEO went from hero to humiliation

‘The third era of Zuck’: how the CEO went from hero to humiliation

A reminder of just how recently it seemed plausible that Mark Zuckerberg could be a future US President. That seems highly unlikely now.

This is one of those moments where we’re really fascinated because this huge PR machine has sort of cracked and we can see through, and what we can see is someone way over his head

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But could Remain win a second referendum?

But could Remain win a second referendum?

Some home truths for remainers from Jonathan Calder.

In the Remain camp we constantly remind ourselves how good we are and how evil and ridiculous Leavers are. (Leavers do the precise opposite of course.)

If insulting Leavers were the key to victory we would have won the first referendum. But we didn’t and there is no reason to believe that calling people “gammons” will help us more than calling them “fruitcakes” did.

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Strengthening the foundations under the Overton Window without moving it

Strengthening the foundations under the Overton Window without moving it

Should you refuse to argue with someone who is very wrong, in case it accidentally lends their argument some legitimacy? Katja Grace argues that this could be damaging.

In short: we don’t want to give the new generation the best sincere arguments against V [a terrible view], because that would be admitting that a reasonable person might believe V. Which seems to get in the way of the claim that V is very, very bad. Which is not only a true claim, but an important thing to claim, because it discourages people from believing V.

But we actually know that a reasonable person might believe V, if they don’t have access to society’s best collective thoughts on it. Because we have a whole history of this happening almost all of the time.

Thought-provoking, especially in the context of my recent posts about not feeding the trolls.

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Facebook quietly hid webpages bragging of ability to influence elections

Facebook quietly hid webpages bragging of ability to influence elections

Facebook have described the idea that they influence election results as “crazy”. It’s funny that they used to actually brag about their ability to help people win elections.

Their entire business model depends on them allowing advertisers to get results. It is absurd for them to claim they can help get results for advertisers, but not if they are political advertisers.

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Note — 2018-03-12

There are certain things you’re not allowed to say these days. Well it is time to put an end to all this political correctness. People have been frightened to speak openly. We should call a spade a spade.

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable is telling it like it is:

70% of over 65s voted for Brexit.

Too many were driven by a nostalgia for a world where passports were blue, faces were white, and the map was coloured imperial pink.

He is only saying what we’re all thinking.

Update: I see some snowflakes are upset about it.

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How liberals amped up a Parkland shooting conspiracy theory

How liberals amped up a Parkland shooting conspiracy theory

Conspiracy theorists purported that young anti-gun activists are crisis actors. It turns out that those outraged about the theory did more to promote it that the theorists themselves.

Frank Luntz… tweeted in protest of the Gateway Pundit story, becoming one of four non-right-wing amplifiers of the story with verified accounts… The other three are the New York Times’ Nick Confessore, MSNBC producer Kyle Griffin, and former first daughter Chelsea Clinton. Each of them quote-tweeted the Gateway Pundit story to denounce it, but in doing so gave it more amplification.

This is what I meant when I said don’t feed the trolls.

There is a class of professional conversationalists who have realised how this works and have taken advantage. These people express outrageous and offensive opinions specifically because it is a super-efficient way for them to get the publicity they need.

A dangerous man became US president because he understood this, and millions of his opponents didn’t.

The next time someone says controversial, ask yourself why, rise above it, deny them the publicity and move on.

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Inside Facebook’s hellish two years — and Mark Zuckerberg’s struggle to fix it all

Inside Facebook’s hellish two years — and Mark Zuckerberg’s struggle to fix it all

A very lengthy, but entertaining and informative, read about how everything went wrong for Facebook in the past two years, and why it is a mess of their own making.

While Facebook grappled internally with what it was becoming—a company that dominated media but didn’t want to be a media company—Donald Trump’s presidential campaign staff faced no such confusion. To them Facebook’s use was obvious. Twitter was a tool for communicating directly with supporters and yelling at the media. Facebook was the way to run the most effective direct-­marketing political operation in history.

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Britain grows increasingly hostile to EU citizens

Britain grows increasingly hostile to EU citizens

A German perspective on what’s going on in Britain right now.

Whenever Agnieszka Pasieczna opens the curtains of her children’s bedroom, she finds herself facing four electronic eyes staring at her. The cameras, each around the size of a fist, are mounted on a gray wall around eight meters away, like silent witnesses for the prosecution. “I see you, I see everything,” her English neighbor once shouted over at her. Since then Agnieszka has kept her curtains closed even during the day.

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Woman’s English too good for UK entry

Woman’s English too good for UK entry

A pregnant Indian woman has been refused entry to live in Scotland with her Fife husband because her language qualification for entry to the UK is too advanced.

Disgusting! When is this country going to stop being so hostile to people?

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Woman reports rape to police — and is arrested on immigration charges

Woman reports rape to police — and is arrested on immigration charges

The woman, who was five months pregnant at the time of her arrest, attended a London police station in March to report that she had been kidnapped and raped in Germany between September 2016 and March 2017.

Officers took her to the Havens sexual assault centre, which provides care for women who have been sexually assaulted.

But while there, she was suddenly arrested and taken into custody at an east London police station. She was then interrogated over her immigration status.

This country needs to end its obsession with immigration. There comes a point when you need to treat people as humans. I think treating a rape victim as a criminal is way beyond that point.

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Nick Clegg meets Richard Thaler: ‘All it would take to stop Brexit is a couple of dozen brave Tories’

Nick Clegg meets Richard Thaler: ‘All it would take to stop Brexit is a couple of dozen brave Tories’

The Guardian set Nick Clegg up for a Skype interview with Richard Thaler, who has recently been awarded the Nobel economics prize.

Thaler was a big influence on the Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition and it is clear from this interview that Thaler and Clegg admire each other somewhat.

At times the interview may come across to some as typical smug metropolitan centrist dadism, with the pair shaking their heads at how stupid everyone else is being. But when you read Nick Clegg’s anecdote about speaking to a voter in Chesterfield, you understand why he feels that way.

I remember speaking to a guy leaning on the fence outside his house and saying: “Any chance you’ll vote for the Liberal Democrats?” And he said: “No way.” And I said: “Why not?” And he said: “Because of all these asylum seekers.” And I knew for a fact that not a single asylum seeker had been dispersed to Chesterfield. So I said to him: “Oh, have you seen these asylum seekers in the supermarket or the GP’s surgery?” And he said something to me that has remained with me ever since. He said: “No, I haven’t seen any of them, but I know they’re everywhere.”

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The six tribes of Brexit revealed

The six tribes of Brexit revealed

Since last year’s EU referendum, many political analysts have placed Britons neatly into one of two tribes: Leavers or Remainers. But a new piece of research paints a more nuanced picture of the lines along which British society is divided.

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Time to remove the Lib Dem invisibility cloak

Time to remove the Lib Dem invisibility cloak

On all these people trying to set up moderate, pro-EU political parties.

Like it or not, if you want a pro-EU, pro-business, pro-tech UK political party, there is already one that has over 100,000 members, 12 MPs, thousands of councillors, and an internal democracy that compares favourably to every single one of its competitors.

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Brexit has made the UK the sick man of Europe once more

Brexit has made the UK the sick man of Europe once more

Having previously been the fastest growing G7 country, Britain is now the slowest. Real earnings are again in decline owing to the inflationary spike caused by the pound’s depreciation (the UK has the lowest growth and the highest inflation – stagflation – of any major EU economy).

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The Tories are destroying themselves in pursuit of hard Brexit

The Tories are destroying themselves in pursuit of hard Brexit – Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian

The fever of Conservative Europhobia runs so hot, it has already burnt through a series of supposedly sacred Tory principles. Tories still boast that they are the Conservative and Unionist party, but when they are told that Brexit imperils the union – by jeopardising both Northern Ireland’s peace and its place in the United Kingdom – they shrug. Tories like to say they cherish the supremacy of parliament; indeed the reassertion of Westminster sovereignty was one of the driving purposes of Brexit. Yet now they whip their MPs to pass an EU withdrawal bill that will strip the Commons of its powers, allowing ministers to channel Henry VIII as they rewrite the law of the land unhindered and unscrutinised. They insist that free trade remains a cardinal principle of modern Conservatism as they rush to leave what is, broadly defined, the largest, freest free-trade area in human history.

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