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Mick Harper
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The latest Corbyn/Anti-Semite Newsnight blow-up illustrated some AE principles about brain control i.e. Who's in charge up there? The news that 'eighty per cent of British Jews no longer vote Labour' was the first one. Since it used to be eighty per cent the other way we can be confident that Jews are now a bunch of Finchley furriers wearing silk hats whereas before they were idealists living in poverty in the east end. Or, as we would say, Jews are now just plain folks voting in accordance with their own individual circumstance. And therefore, as we would probably conclude, living in a country lacking in anti-Semitism.

But the two Labour Jews dredged up (certainly in the case of the hapless Corbyn Jew) by Newsnight illustrated that if you are Jewish and still voting Labour you will have to ask your brain, "Am I a Corbynite first or am I a Jew first?" In either case you are going to spout nonsense but it will be diametrically opposed nonsense.
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Mick Harper
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Pompeo's announcement that it is now illegal to distinguish between West Bank settlement exports and Israeli-proper exports means the EU will now require all Israeli exports to be labelled "Product of illegally seized land" underneath a large skull-and-crossbones. Let us hope Biden does not reverse this promising development. Pompeo later stood on the Golan Heights and was allowed to let off a few artillery shells.

Which reminds me, the last western bigwig to do something similar was Priti Patel and the Cabinet Office report about how she bullied three different departments on her way to the top has officially been buried. The language, explained Channel 4's Gary Gibbon, was far too incendiary.
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Grant



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I don’t believe that 80% of Jews no longer vote Labour. Where did they get this information from? Did they ask Orthodox Jews, reform Jews, secular Jews, only people who read the JC?
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Mick Harper
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A point made by someone on the programme. I would imagine it would be people, as the phrase has it, 'self-identifying' as Jews. It is not something Jews are reluctant to do, as far as I know. Nor does the statistic seem in any way surprising on socio-economic grounds.
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Mick Harper
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Reading between the lines, I am beginning to sidle over to the Pritti side of the street. A ministerial office is not a workplace. It is a policy forum. Behaving badly is not bullying it is a standard rhetorical device both for winnowing out what needs doing and making sure whatever it is gets implemented. Margaret Thatcher wouldn't have lasted ten minutes under 'the ministerial code'.

I do not necessarily endorse the policies of either person but I do endorse the need for someone up there getting civil servants off their intellectual backsides, and I'm not too bothered how it is done. Mandarins that can't stand the heat should be subject to some kind of 'mandarins code' and be fired before they can resign.
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Hatty
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No-one mentioned ethnicity or a possible 'cultural divergence' except indirectly, e.g. bullying might just be being 'robust'. On the other hand Priti's behaviour may have been 'unintentional' according to the report, which could be a nod to cross-cultural misunderstanding. Anyway, it was noticeable that all three interviewees were white.
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Mick Harper
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Come off it, Hatty, she is obviously a right cow. The wider question is the Dominic Cummings question: how do outsiders set about reforming the civil service? If you try to do it structurally -- as many prime ministers (and ordinary ministers) have tried to do in recent times -- you not only get effortlessly out-manoeuvred by the mandarins but you are out of office before you've made a dent. The mandarins are never out of office. Or if they are, thanks to a Patel tantrum for instance, another one takes their place.

Also, as Pritti resumes her relentless rise, she will find that playing the game becomes more and more advantageous. As Saint Margaret demonstrated, you have to be a long term and a lucky cow to have any effect. Also something of a Sans Pareil which, I fear, Pritti most definitely isn't. Still, doofer is as doofer does.
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Mick Harper
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Newsnight (itself part of the 'civil service state') showed what the Patel problem was all about. It was obvious to a six-year-old that a) Priti was bang at it and b) Boris refused to sack her. But then we discovered why. The ex-Permanent Secretary dragged in to defend Permanent Secretaries was so gormless that personally if I was his minister I wouldn't have bullied him I'd have throttled him. Then a tame professor came on and explained the law on harassment. Thanks, dear, now off you go back to Cambridge. Finally we had a brutish Tory MP who explained that the Ministerial Code is a bunch of bollocks compared to the needs of governing the country.

We await his views when it is a Labour Minister (or even a non-brutish Tory one) in the hot seat. Kirsty waved her hands despairingly.
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Boreades


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Mick Harper wrote:
Margaret Thatcher wouldn't have lasted ten minutes under 'the ministerial code'.


I concur. For some reason, it reminds me of that famous quote from George Bernard Shaw:

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

Might we conclude (almost by definition) that all ministers intent on making progress are deemed to be unreasonable by their civil service? Then it is only a matter of degree of unreasonableness. See many episodes of Yes Minister.

I also wondered when then this 'ministerial code' magically appeared.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ministerial-code

Turns out it was in 2010. I wonder what happened in 2010 (or before) that prompted that to be published, and which minister(s) it had in mind back then?

Even so, I enjoyed Gillian Anderson's portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in The Crown on Netflix. Famously unreasonable, or, as someone who knew her at Oxford told me, "invincibly narrow-minded" (which would of course be the perception of a "reasonable" person).
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Mick Harper
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See many episodes of Yes Minister

Better, see many volumes of the Crossman Diaries, and (for women, and they do use it) Barbara Castle's Diaries and (for loonies, though moderate ones) the Tony Benn Diaries. The Big Myth is that civil servants crave strong leadership. It is true they don't like weak ministers -- each Permanent Sec is in competition with other Permanent Secs -- but the idea they like change, which is the only reason to have strong leadership, is ludicrous. I am not sure Priti Patel is 'strong' in this sense but she might surprise us all.
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Boreades


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Also, see the publications by Baron Dobbs of Wylye. Better known as Michael Dobbs and the "House of Cards" trilogy. Some say it was more of a biography than a novel. You might say that, I couldn't possibly comment.

Anyway, what happened in 2010 to get that 'ministerial code' made public?
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Mick Harper
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Well, I'll check out Dobbs but he's like Chris Mullin, only ever a junior minister. They may witness stuff -- and fictionalise it accurately -- but they are not where the knife goes in, at Cabinet Minister/Perm Sec level.

I just don't know the significance of 2010. There have been 'codes of conduct' forever, haven't there? When you can issue a duel and when you can't, that kind of thing. All very officer's mess and public school so maybe it had to be formalised when all that stuff started to be consigned to the dustbin. Maybe post-Thatcher, who as a woman couldn't be expected to behave properly. Or it might be sociological, part of anti-racism, me-too-ism.

From an AE-standpoint, codes of conduct count as a priori constraints and should not be regarded as automatically a good thing. Which everybody seems to think they automatically are.
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Mick Harper
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Quite a good insight into contemporary attitudes to anti-Semitism -- or more accurately anti-anti-Semitism from the always reliable signaller of modern mores, medium.com https://medium.com/@Brumafriend/why-were-the-jews-expelled-from-england-in-1290-15f50352a529

Why Were the Jews Expelled From England in 1290? The Edict of Expulsion issued by King Edward I on July 18, 1290 is one of the most — if not the most — significant events in Anglo-Jewish history as well as a tremendously important event in English history more generally.

Notice the projection of current assumptions to the past. I doubt if many contemporaries noticed. True, whether a country has a Jewish population or not can be quite significant, it is just that the thirteenth century didn't have the analytical functionality to tell, so we can't much look to history for the answers.

The exact reasons behind the decree, which was only reversed in 1657 by Oliver Cromwell, have been the subject of historical debate and the topic is, unsurprisingly, a controversial one.

It surprised the hell out of me. I had no idea that there might be more than one version. Let's find out...
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Mick Harper
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However, in recent years the Edict of Expulsion, alongside other examples of Jews being expelled from various countries (such as France in 1394 and Spain in 1492), has been used to argue in favour of antisemitic sentiments.

The idea of cropped bootboys discussing the minutiae of medieval history is a beguiling one but maybe my own anti-semitic stereotypes are out of date.

The logic appears to be that ‘if so many medieval countries persecuted and expelled Jews then they must have done something to deserve it’,

That would be logical, yes. And it's kinda at the heart of the matter. No community wants to get either persecuted or expelled but if it keeps happening it would be wise for that community to work out why. 'Deserve it' is a moral question, but they must be doing summat because host communities don't persecute or expel people for no reason either. It's like no-fault divorce: it usually isn't but it may be best to proceed on the basis it is. More...
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Mick Harper
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Anti-anti-Semitism is an ism within the meaning of the Act i.e. in AE terms it is an ideology/religion/self-identifier. This requires an immediately accessible opponent identifying with a different ideology/religion. As we saw in the anti-Corbyn debates, an enemy can be easily conjured then demonised even though nobody in their right mind would think of Corbyn as an anti-Semite. Meanwhile the real anti-Semites are scarcely aware of Jews, concerning themselves with much more up-to-date hate figures -- blacks, Muslims, gypsies, immigrants and so forth. This shadow-boxing leads to some very weird arguments

the conclusion being that we should do the same (although whether an antisemite would admit that is another matter).

Since the writer has just said they have consciously done just this -- linked modern Britain et al getting rid of their Jews with medieval England et al doing so -- it is a puzzle why they should not. 'Makes yer proud to be part of the national story etc etc.'

The argument obviously makes no sense. There’s simply no logical link between many medieval states taking an action and that action being desirable in today’s world.

Why ever not? You can argue that persecuting and expelling Jews is undesirable in all circumstances but if, as she claims, anti-Semites are linking medieval states to modern ones, then presumably it is just as desirable today as it was yesterday. Could be more desirable for all anyone knows.

At worst it’s a completely meaningless argument and at best it’s some kind of botched argument from popularity (a logical fallacy).

Ah, the first crack in the liberal set of assumptions. She is tacitly conceding that persecuting and expelling Jews may be favoured by the host population. Now she is in danger of self-identifying as a minority herself. Not a comfortable position when laying down universal moral laws to be followed by all.

In fact, since our morals have altered greatly since the Middle Ages ...

Dunno about our morals but our laws have altered greatly since the Middle Ages.

...it’s safer to assume that a medieval consensus is probably morally questionable until shown otherwise

It is even safer to actually find out what the medieval consensus was rather than assuming it was what the modern liberal consensus would like it to have been. Far as I know, picking on minorities is a national sport, always has been and maybe always will be. That's why we have to pass laws to stop ourselves doing it. We must see where this logic takes her next...
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