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Questions Of The Day (Politics)
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Mick Harper
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In: London
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One late scupper source has emerged. If the Ulster Protestant Ultras start a mildly violent campaign, they will remind the Conservative and Unionist Party of its roots and some late backsliding may occur. It has been wondrous how the Tory Ultras who spent years championing the Union agreed, overnight, to set Ulster adrift when they realised it was the only way of cutting the Euro-tie. Loyalists all.

Arseholes all. © Danny Finkelstein in the Times.
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Wile E. Coyote


In: Arizona
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Wiley favourite, special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights Philip Alston is at it again, with a new report and speech

Nations around the world are “stumbling zombie-like into a digital welfare dystopia”

I read the report planning to have yet another laugh, but, you know what, Phillip actually has a good point. This actually is what Phillip should have been reporting on all along, rather than whining on about how crap life is for folks on benefits in the UK, and how great China is.

True to form, Philip couldn't help but over-hype it and drone on about neoliberalism, but this issue of state surveillance by stealth using digital technology, introduced to improve welfare delivery, is an important human rights issue.

Grudging respect. https://bit.ly/2BHQkDC
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Mick Harper
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This is all part of the general dictum that the more equal societies are the happier they are but achieving equality is a miserable business.
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Wile E. Coyote


In: Arizona
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Eh? There is a bit of a brouhaha, created by Peter Oborne, that political correspondents are passing on information from govt sources, without treating the information skeptically. In defence of Peston et al, Wiley always assumed this was the case, and applies to all governments not just that of Bojo, and, err, would equally apply to opposition sources close to Jezza, if they could only work out what fake news they wanted to get out there.
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Mick Harper
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In: London
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Either Boris has let me down or Dominick is being even more devious than usual. I cannot think of a more disastrous policy for any government than 'going on strike'. What does he/they think will happen other than everyone getting thoroughly exasperated? Not, one would have thought, a tremendously attractive state of affairs for the populace who have a distressing tendency to blame the government whenever they are exasperated.

There is an irony here because one AE dictum is: Consider doing nothing. Human beings like to solve problems and have an in-built tendency to think 'doing nothing' is not the way to solve problems even though, according to another AE dictum no fixed strategies, it often is. This led to the idea of a Mugwump Party with a policy of "If you elect us we will pass no new legislation but spend the next five years going through old legislation to see what needs addressing."
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N R Scott


In: Middlesbrough
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For anyone interested in the Cummings plan(s) this is a great Twitter account to follow; https://twitter.com/MrMasonMills

(I'm 99% certain that it's Dom himself)
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Mick Harper
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You're crazee. The man's clearly an unreconstructed saloon bar half-wit. I'm 99% certain it's you, Scottie.
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N R Scott


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Not me, I'd love to have that many followers. Perhaps he is a halfwit, the genius label is largely media myth. Though having read a lot of his blog I actually quite like the guy.

This account is known and acknowledged to be Dom's; https://twitter.com/OdysseanProject

He posts more seldomly on this one (he also "follows" the Mason Mills account). I've been following it all for the last month or so, the MM account has lots of tells that suggest it's the same person posting.
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Mick Harper
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I'm a fan too, remember. Your real problem, most people's problem, is an inability to distinguish the tiny impulse of pleasure you get from someone saying something you agree with, with the tiny impulse of pleasure you get from someone saying something interesting. If you can manage to do this -- and it takes time and determination -- then you can start applying it to yourself.
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Mick Harper
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A lovely example of the difference between liberalism and populism. For years the liberal establishment went to great pains to deny that oil was not what motivated their policy in the Middle East. Yesterday Trump said, "We're just going to guard the oil, that's the only important thing."

Now both statements are true/false but the difference is that the liberals had to go on saying it for years and nobody ever believed them even though it was more true than false; Trump says it once, everyone believes him even though it's more false than true.

But everyone shrugs and moves on, the issue wasn't that important to start with. Just another brick in the matrix.
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Mick Harper
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If the Labour poll figures don't start to move up, expect some unprecedented shifts before the election. Ideological purity can be trumped by career prospects. Specifically, Labour will be open to electoral pacts, something it has never contemplated because as Party No #1 or #2 it has had little reason to do so, and as the most left of the parties, it cannot ordinarily do so without jeopardising its own base. On the other hand, if the traditional elements of the party believe that a cataclysmic defeat is the only way to get rid of the Momentum homunculus they will rule pacts out for 'traditional' reasons.

But if they don't, the Tories should be majorly afraid. So far, they have benefited from going right because Labour has gone so far left, but this does mean that all the other parties are incentivised to enter pacts to get rid of Boris so long as they calculate it won't let in Jeremy, leastways not without a thumping majority.

But hold! The now yawning centre might lead the Lib Dems to decide this is their first and last opportunity to replace Labour which means no pacts (except minor ones with Greens). The Scots Nats of course have little reason to enter pacts since a) they have few seats to gain by it and b) it rather suits them to have Boris Johnson in power at Westminster. There appears to be no prospect of pacts between Johnson and Farage since this will only shift the Brexit party from zero seats to zero seats.

Everyone is predicting an unprecedented election so the safest bet is more of the same and a substantial Tory majority.
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Mick Harper
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I can't see why Donald Trump would want to buy the NHS. I see it sort of goes with hotels and maybe there could be synergies with golf clubs, but Miss World Competitions? Surely not. Still, it's his money, so as long as we get a good price for it, I can't see any grave objections.
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Mick Harper
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Boris Johnson is constantly being accused of lying. What they mean is that a) he changes his mind and b) he uses vivid phrases like 'die in the ditch' which are not meant to be taken literally. Neither of these are examples of 'lying'. Here is an example of lying

It sounds like fracking will come back on the 13th of December if the Tories were elected back into office.

Jeremy Corbyn knows perfectly well this isn't true. He is entitled to point out that the Tory policy of suspending fracking until it can be shown to be safe is different from Labour's policy of stopping fracking, so is this mere vivid phraseology? No. A truthful rendition of the situation puts the government in quite a favourable light since, if safe, fracking is clearly superior to Labour's fossil fuel plans. So to misrepresent their intentions is a straightforward lie.
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Mick Harper
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The shocking state of poverty in Britain has been starkly revealed by a report from the Trussel Trust which ran fifty-seven food banks a decade ago and more than four hundred today -- lead item, Channel 4 News

That sums up a) the calibre of news at the start of an election period and b) the way the poverty industry operates. Let us state the actual situation

Poverty in Britain over the last ten years has possibly gone up a little, possibly gone down a little, but hasn't changed much. It is too vague a concept to measure with any precision unless the change is so great, you can see it.

Since the Trussel Trust and Channel 4 News can 'see' it we had best deal with one sure statistic, 'a decade ago'. What happened a decade ago? Two things: a) the Conservatives came into power and b) the slump started. So we had better start by adjusting the core question to: Since slumps increase poverty, has the government done well to keep it down to, at worst, a small increase? I doubt whether that question will feature very much in the election.

The other sure statistic is that food banks have mushroomed. We'd better investigate this phenomenon since poverty has not mushroomed.
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Wile E. Coyote


In: Arizona
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The shocking state of poverty in Britain has been starkly revealed by a report from the Trussel Trust which ran fifty-seven food banks a decade ago and more than four hundred today -- lead item, Channel 4 News


I have already had a go at this. So will just add in a couple of points. Folks use food banks when they have no income for (err) food. This is not the same as living in poverty. In a society where increasingly you have more jobs for shorter periods, you have more gaps in income. More gaps mean more trips to the food bank for those in lower paid work. (Those permanently on benefits only have gaps when they get sanctioned). These income shocks used to be covered by the DWP, by the somewhat emotively named Crisis Loans. The Government localised these loans in 2013 as they were becoming increasingly costly, as (Err) many more folks were claiming.

Councils worked out that this was not good news for their finances and also the cheapest local welfare provision were not crisis loans but subsidising food banks.

The Government was very happy as it had got rid of costly Crisis loans. Everybody else was happy as they could blame the government for the rise in the use of food banks. It's really a win win situation.
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