Wednesday 9 September 2020

Plumbing old depths.

 Apparently the phrase "perfidious Albion" in its current usage goes back at least to the French Revolution, so in reneging on an international treaty which he signed less than a year ago Prime Minister is doing nothing new.

Nevertheless our government seems to do, not do, say or lie about something or other at least twice a week which, until two years ago, would have been regarded as outrageous oud and totally beyond the pale.

We are bound to wonder what their real motive is. 

 Are they stuck in the No 10 bunker chortling furiously and having competitions to see what is the most outrageous thing they can get away with next?  (Manoeuvring the Queen into giving a party-political broadcast for them, illegally proroguing parliament, condoning Cummings's  60 mile round trip to test his eyesight, now risking a hard border in Ireland, to name but some).

It is bizarre that the two alleged sticking points in achieving  a trade deal (the one that we were assured during the election campaign was  "oven ready" ) concern  fishing and state-aid to industry.

Fishing rights are doubtless important to the small number engaged in the UK fishing industry, though they constitute less than 0.1% of the workforce. They do produce 0.12% of our GDP so are very productive. 

However, the English fishermen can't be all that worried about retaining their industry because they sell 60% or their quota to foreign vessels.  The Welsh sell about half of theirs and the Northern Irish a staggering 90%+ of theirs.  The Scots, bless them, outsource only 2% or theirs, but it seems odd that this government should go out on such a dangerous limb to defend a Scottish interest. 

Details can be found here

and here 


As for state subsidies to industry, it has been Conservative dogma for 50 years that governments are not good at "picking winners," industries should stand on their  own feet and the weakest should go to the wall.  It wasn't called creative destruction then but it is now and is still part of the Tory package.

 It was way back in the early 70s that "U-turn," which until then meant something that you were not allowed to do on a motorway, became part of the political vocabulary when Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath did a volte face and, having fought  an election on the above mantra, poured in government money to rescue Rolls Royce. 

 However,  his successor,  Mrs Thatcher  was  a "lady not for turning" and a good  chunk of British industry, not least the mining sector, went to the wall in thrall to the mantra in the 1980s.

 So what's going on today?

 It is hard to avoid the conclusion that all this is theatre designed to embellish an illusion of European intransigence, the anticipation of a no-deal exit and then, cliffhanger ending, the wonderful Johnson pulls a deal out of the hat.  Hurrah.

Of course, the deal, whatever it is, will be phoney.  Like the Withdrawal Agreement it will be achieved  by conceding  issues  hitherto regarded as unacceptable, but dressed up up with a few superficial concessions and applauded as a stroke of Johnson genius by the sycophantic press.

It will be nowhere near as good as the deal  we would have retained had we remained in the Union, but that fact will be brushed aside as "old hat."


  1. Scotland. Could this be cos they want to hold on to the MPs they have so that they can look good to the voter?

  2. Could be. Who knows how their minds work?

  3. When did "state aid" stop being called "feather bedding"?

  4. Exactly. To borrow and slightly amend an historian's comment on one of the Reform Bills, "The Tories caught the Socialists bathing and stole their clothes." In that sense at least the Tories haven't changed.

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