Brexit: Check or Checkmate?


Brexit: Check or Checkmate?
Sean Gabb
(Published in The Commentator on the 24th September 2019)

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I see no point in denouncing today’s judgment of the Supreme Court, which has ruled the prorogation of Parliament “unlawful.” Granted, this is not a court of law so much as a committee of political activists. Granted, its judgment goes against centuries of convention and judicial precedent that matters of high politics are not allowable subjects of litigation. But we are where we are. All that surprises me is that the Remainers are so committed to stopping Brexit that there is no part of the Constitution they are not prepared to feed into their political shredding machine. What I will do instead is to ask what the Government can reasonably do next.

My answer is that I am not sure. Three weeks ago, I suggested using the Civil Contingencies Act to dissolve Parliament and call a general election. After today, this is no longer an option. Three weeks ago, the dissolution would have been challenged in court. But the Remainers would have been arguing against an appeal to the people. Before any action could make its way to the Supreme Court, the campaign would already have begun. Try that now, and any court in England would apply today’s ruling in half an hour. There would be an injunction against the Government before the writs of election could be issued. Read more

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The War on Cars – Video


Last month, I gave a talk to the Libertarian Alliance in London about the “war on cars” that successive UK governments have been conducting against us for decades now. The talk was very wide-ranging, covering:

  1. The green movement in general, and the involvement of the United Nations and the UK government in it.
  2. The “global warming” scare, and the (long and rather sordid) backstory to it.
  3. The “air pollution” scare that is now being used as an excuse to intensify the war on our cars, and the (just as long, and almost as sordid) backstory to it.

This is one of my very rare appearances on video (a good thing they’re rare! I hear some of you saying). The link is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUpOj7KabvM.

The talk is quite long (55 minutes) and rather detailed, but I think I got over many important points, and made people chuckle a few times on the way!

Brexit and the British State


Brexit and the British State

By Duncan Whitmore

Following the drama of the past two weeks which culminated in the embarrassing behaviour of opposition MPs blocking the Speaker’s chair in the moments of Parliament’s prorogation (pictured above), we can hope for some dying down of the recent hysteria now that they have been royally booted out for a month. At least, that is, until October 19th, when Boris Johnson must either pull a new Brexit deal with the EU out of his hat or ask for an extension to the October 31st deadline.

In the meantime, we can enjoy the comedy value of the Labour Party trying to square the circle with its Brexit policy. Trapped between a rock and a hard place by its support coming from both working class Leave voters on the one hand and middle class, liberal Remainers on the other, their aspiration is to negotiate a new deal with Brussels in order to show their Leave credentials. But they will then call a second referendum in which they will campaign against their own deal in favour of Remain. Such absurdity has driven even Remain-biased journalists to barely concealed sniggering. On Wednesday of this week, deputy leader Tom Watson chimed in by suggesting that Labour should campaign for a second referendum ahead of voting for an Autumn general election (the conditions for which Labour has already shifted several times since they backed the Brexit delay bill last week). Given that Labour is the official opposition and, by far, the second largest party in Parliament, whatever it chooses to do is likely to carry more weight than whatever the likes of Little Bo-Swinson and the disproportionately mega-mouthed Ian Blackford have to offer. So, amidst the hyperbolic outrage at the Scottish Court of Session’s finding that the prorogation of Parliament was “unlawful” (strange how there were no screaming headlines when the first instance judges drew the opposite conclusion) as well as at the release of the worst case scenario no-deal planning documents this will probably be the only thing to keep much of an eye on for now. Read more

Boris and Brexit


Boris and Brexit

By Duncan Whitmore

At the time of writing, a bill to delay Britain’s exit from the European Union beyond the October 31st deadline is making its way through the House of Lords, following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s loss of all of his votes thus far in the Commons. Johnson has also lost his Commons majority after one MP defected to the Liberal Democrats on Tuesday while a further twenty-one were denied the Tory whip for voting against the government that same evening. It is, therefore, probable that the bill will be passed and, without the ability to call a general election, somebody will be carted off to the EU to grovel for a Brexit extension until January 31st.

Nevertheless, in contrast to the Maybot (whose repeated defeats ground her down into the appearance of an exhumed corpse), Johnson remains remarkably upbeat. If his chief strategist, Dominic Cummings, is as brilliant as he is reputed to be, then this may be no surprise. After all, every major obstacle to achieving Brexit, “do or die”, on October 31st was known in advance, namely:

  • An overwhelmingly pro-Remain Parliament which could be expected to use the excuse of an alleged no deal “catastrophe” to tie the Prime Minister’s negotiating hands;
  • The existence of a significant number of rebellious Tory MPs amongst a Parliamentary majority of just one;
  • A Speaker barely able to feign impartiality through a willingness to bend constitutional propriety and parliamentary procedure.

Read more

Boris Johnson: With a Bound Set Free (2019), by Sean Gabb — SEAN GABB


Boris Johnson: With a Bound Set Free Sean Gabb (Published in The Commentator on the 4th September 2019) Yesterday evening, Boris Johnson lost even the shadow of a majority. He may stagger through the next few days, till the prorogation takes effect. During this time, he may get his friends in the Lords to talk…

via Boris Johnson: With a Bound Set Free (2019), by Sean Gabb — SEAN GABB

The proper functions of governance


I haven’t been writing much new “serious” stuff lately. This is mainly because I’ve been going over what I’ve written in the last couple of years, trying to fix some inconsistencies and clarify things that didn’t come over quite right. In the process, I’ve written six new, or substantially revised, sections. I’ll try to publish them over the next week or so. Here’s the first.

* * *

The first step towards solving the political problems we face today, I think, must be to understand what the valid functions of government (or, as I prefer to call it, governance) actually are. In my view, proper governance has a total of six functions; three principal and three subsidiary.

The first function of governance is to maintain peace. This includes the defence of the governed against external attack or internal violence.

The second function of governance is to deliver justice. This function includes the just resolution of disputes. Justice, as I put forward earlier, is the condition in which every individual, over the long term, in the round and as far as practicable, is treated as he or she treats others. And governance must be fair, objective and meticulous in all its decisions.

The third function of governance is defence of the rights of those who respect others’ rights. Those rights, as I discussed earlier, include fundamental rights like life, property and privacy; and rights of non-impedance, such as freedom of speech, religion and association.

All these three principal functions of governance can be seen as different aspects of a single whole. Namely, the delivery of peace and justice to all individuals.

There are further functions of governance which, while not as important as the first three, are nevertheless necessities. The fourth is co-ordination of the building of infrastructure. This is needed because, although infrastructure must be created and maintained at the local level, some degree of co-ordination is required to ensure that the infrastructure forms a coherent whole. For example, that a new road doesn’t suddenly dead-end at some arbitrary community border. But these functions must always be delivered and paid for in a way that is just towards every individual.

The fifth function is the maintenance of good relations with other, friendly communities.

The sixth and final function of governance is quality control of itself. It must maintain a constant ethical watch on the actions of governance as a whole, and of the individuals who constitute it. It must assure that the functions of governance are being performed as they should be. That those whose job is to maintain peace are indeed doing so to the best of their abilities. That the justice system is, and remains, just, objective and fair to everyone. That no-one in governance violates the rights of innocent people. That any decisions governance needs to make on behalf of those under it are made objectively, fairly, and taking into account the costs and benefits to every individual or group. And that governance – including the quality assurance function! – keeps meticulous and publicly accessible audit trails of all it does, and of the reasons behind every decision it makes.

In my view, these six are the valid functions, and the only valid functions, of governance. It is not a function of governance to impose any particular political or religious ideology. It is not a function of governance to try to cure perceived social ills. It is not a function of governance to pick winners and losers, or to re-distribute wealth from one group of people to another. And it is not a function of governance to provide education, or insurance, or any other good or service which can be effectively provided by individuals and groups in the free market.

Brexit: Is There a British Strategy?


Brexit: Is There a British Strategy?
A Speech Given in Bratislava
on Tuesday the 6th August 2019
to the
Institute of Economic and Social Studies

One of my Books
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Introductory Note: I made this speech to an audience of Slovak journalists, politicians and diplomats. It was a view of the British situation that none had seen before. I hope it turns out to be a correct view of the situation. I hope this because I want it to be true, and because anything less than this will damage my reputation in Slovakia as an oracle for all things British. It probably is correct. However, we are dealing with a contest between human beings in which chance is at least as important as the grand forces. If I am wrong, it will show that the British ruling class is more fractured and unfit for government in the general sense than I presently believe it to be – and more unfit for government than is good for the future stability of the country. SIG Read more

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