Conservative Policy Institutes: The Same Old Same Old (Sean Gabb)

The Bruges Group:
The Same Old Same Old

Sean Gabb
(16th January 2022)

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Before deleting it all, I have just skimmed the contents of my junk folder. One of the messages is from the Bruges Group, and is New Year greetings from the 2nd January. The message from Barry Legg, a former Conservative Member of Parliament begins:

Well, we are still waiting to get Brexit done.

I should have deleted it all unread. The only effect this has had is to move me to another polemic when I have more productive and nowadays more enjoyable uses of my time. But I did read Mr Legg’s message. Here is my response to it.

The premise of the message is that our departure from the European Union was meant by those who managed it to be the beginning of a process. First, we were to regain our national independence. After this, we were to regain our personal freedom and general prosperity and status in the world. The complaint is that the Government we supported in 2019 has spent the past two years making “serious error[s] of political judgment.” The conclusion is that the Ministers should remember that they are Conservatives and start to govern as such.

This sort of thing may cheer up a few pensioners who look back to the 1980s as a golden age. I purged it from my e-mail software without so much as a bored sniff. What our rulers want of England is a big financial casino with shops and grouse moors and a few pretty things to look at. What we want is of no importance to them. We ourselves are of no importance to them, except as cooks, cleaners, drivers, jesters and providers of associated services.

There is, I admit, an important division between our rulers. There are those whose most visible representatives are in or clustered about the Royal Family, and who want us kept cold and in rags, given a culinary choice of veganism or processed bug pulp. There are those less delusional or stupid, who realise that someone needs to buy the things or pay the taxes that enrich them, and that there should be a broadly market order. But, stupid or greedy, they all agree that we are to have no say is how our country is run – and indeed are to be stripped of anything approximating the country we used to think we had.

Though not essential, membership of the European Union was useful to this project. Sovereignty was always in London, but could be veiled behind a set of institutional diagrams that led to an opaque Spaghetti Junction of agencies in Brussels. This meant we could splutter every so often with rage, but had no one to point at and hold accountable. Otherwise, it gave unlimited supplies of semi-skilled labour to keep wages low and thereby finance the growth of a parasitic bourgeoisie wholly supportive of the ruling class. But, if these ends could be achieved by other means, the 2016 Referendum was a shock to the ruling class. It threatened a revolution in which we might insist on something like the share in power that we sometimes had or approached in the twentieth century. The first response was an obvious and therefore an ill-thought betrayal. Theresa May was allowed to manage a purely notional departure. When this was noticed, and the reaction was a further threat of revolution, a more complete departure than expected had to be arranged.

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But there was no ghost of desire at the top for leaving the European Union to bring any overall change of direction. To be sure, the conjuring trick with sovereignty had to be given up. We all knew now who was in charge and therefore accountable. At the same time, if the lines of accountability were clear again, the dissolution of those to whom power might be accountable was already under way, and would now be accelerated. That nothing has been done about mass-immigration since 2019, except enable it from other parts of the world, is not an oversight. It is not because the Ministers are too weak to take charge of their departments. It is because diversity is the settled policy. It is the ideal solvent. The cause of all those troubles that began with the Referendum was that there were still too many unashamed English people. If there had been two or three fewer percentage points of voting strength in 2016, that unwelcome result could have been avoided. Now, let our rulers find an excuse to swell the population by another ten million or so, and it hardly matters if sovereignty is visible again. It is no more accountable than before.

This also explains the sudden encouragement of iconoclastic mobs and the new official culture of apology. The obvious and gloomy truth is that everyone alive is descended from rapists and slave-owners and murderers. These are the people who, for the past ten thousand years, have been filling up the gene pool. At any moment in that time, we can show a class of masters and a class of slaves. But the slaves have always been the less lucky descendants of earlier masters, and the masters the ancestors of future slaves. The best answer to this truth is to shrug and try not to rape and enslave and murder each other now. Instead, we have the official and semi-official promotion of a narrative in which the English are the only villains. It is as if a single still were extracted from a mile of cinema film. This is welcome to those foreigners who have some ancestral grudge against us, but has not been arranged for their chief benefit. The chief beneficiaries are those who rule us. It really is nothing for them if a few statues are pulled down, or if some streets or institutions are renamed. They can apologise themselves hoarse. They still keep their money and power. Better still, the louder they apologise, the safer they are from the only group likely to dispossess them. We are the ones depressed. We are the ones encouraged to think our history a catalogue of shame, and any complaints we have not fit for articulation.

Where does the Bruges Group fit into this analysis? The answer at best is nowhere. Its directors might as well still be denouncing Arthur Scargill or the Soviet Menace. This does not, I grant, make them bad people – only useless. When it comes to organisations like the Institute of Economic Affairs or the Adam Smith Institute, or the other supposedly conservative or libertarian policy institutes, I am less merciful. But that is for another article. I will leave Barry Legg to his ineffectual pining for the good old days of Margaret Thatcher. I have a video lecture to prepare on Greek relative clauses.

Coronavirus: A Conspiracy against the New World Order?

The Coronavirus:
A Conspiracy against the New World Order?
Sean Gabb
20th March 2020

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I have no particular knowledge of medicine or the natural sciences. However, I remember the Aids panic of the 1980s, when we were told there would be two million deaths by 1990 in this country alone. I remember the Mad Cow Disease of 1996, when we were told that a million people would turn into zombies by 2016. There have been a dozen lesser panics the details of which I presently forget. The Coronavirus may be a modern equivalent of the Spanish Flu of 1918-19. But I have reason to be sceptical. Indeed, if ignorant of medicine in any practical sense, I do know a lot about the bubonic plague pandemics of 542-4 and of 1347-51. These exploded among populations severely weakened by hunger, following downturns in global temperature. The Spanish Flu took hold because of the dislocations produced by the Great War. The human race now has never been so well-fed and so well-provided with medicine. It seems that most victims of the Coronavirus were very old or already in poor health. I do not, of course, welcome any death. But I shall need to see much higher rates of infection and many more deaths – and much and many more outside those groups presently most at risk – before I regard this as other than some collective madness. Continue reading

Leave, Actually – What the Election Means

Leave, Actually – What the Election Means

By Duncan Whitmore

“Tidings of Comfort of Joy” – so heralded the front page of The Daily Telegraph during their vision of Boris Johnson’s election victory descending from heaven with a chorus of angels. Certainly the magnitude of Johnson’s achievement is difficult to overstate. Not only has he propelled the Conservatives to an impressive parliamentary majority by robbing Labour of seats in its traditional working class heartlands; he has also, in a few short months, purged the Tories of their wrangling over Europe which has plagued each of their party leaders since Margaret Thatcher. For libertarians, however, while the result of last Thursday’s poll brings much comfort, the joy may have to be put on ice for a while.

There is comfort in the fact that, for the third election in a row – two general, one European – the British people have reaffirmed their 2016 decision to leave the European Union. No longer can dyed-in-the-wool Remainers claim that the electorate did not know what they were voting for, given that the precise form of Brexit was there for all to see in the text of Johnson’s withdrawal agreement. In the end, the possible split of the Leave vote between the Conservatives and the Brexit Party failed to materialise. Instead, as Nigel Farage intended, his party contributed to the fall of Labour in working class constituencies while the Tory vote remained intact. In some of the most surprising Tory victories – for example, in Durham Northwest, Blyth Valley, Bassetlaw, Bishop Auckland and Bolsover (where Dennis Skinner was unseated after nearly fifty years) – the spoils from Labour losses were parcelled out between the Brexit Party and the Tories, allowing the latter to accomplish anything between narrow and landslide victories over Labour. Although, according to Wednesday’s Times, some studies have claimed that the Brexit Party actually deprived the Conservatives of around twenty further seats, this is no bad thing. For in spite of gaining only 2% of the vote nationally and no seats, Farage’s combination of help and hindrance to the Tories has paid off by decimating the prospect of any parliamentary “Remainer” alliance while also neutering Conservative complacency. Of course, the precise unfolding of Brexit – i.e. the final form of Johnson’s withdrawal agreement and the eventual results of negotiations over the trade deal – remains to be seen. But the prospect of a second referendum leading to the outright cancellation of the decision to leave has finally been buried. Continue reading

“A Judicial Jamboree” – Boris and the Supreme Court

“A Judicial Jamboree” – Boris and the Supreme Court

By Duncan Whitmore

Last week’s judgment of the Supreme Court (“Miller/Cherry1) that Boris Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament was unlawful has been greeted as a “triumph” of democracy on the Remain side but, conversely, as an unwarranted judicial wading into politics on the Leave side – together with calls for the scrutiny of judicial appointments akin to what is seen with the US Supreme Court.

It will be argued here that, while undoubtedly significant, the court’s judgment to review the government’s decision for prorogation (and its disagreement with that decision) was not the most extraordinary aspect of the case. As we shall go on see in detail, the case is really an outcome of a continuing, decades-long attempt to squeeze historic, pre-democratic elements of Britain’s constitution into a democratic straitjacket.

What is astounding, on the other hand, is that the robustness and confidence of the decision represents a continuation of the same theme we identified in a previous essay on Brexit and the British Constitution – that the pro-Remain establishment, instead of simply cutting its losses and swallowing Brexit, is blind to the fact that its efforts to thwart the referendum result is jeopardising everything that legitimises (in the eye of the public) the sustenance of the British state. As Sean Gabb has said in his own post on the matter, “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.” Surely they must have realised the Supreme Court’s decision, delivered without a single dissenting voice among eleven justices in spite of convincing counterarguments, would brazenly and wantonly take a sledge hammer to yet another veneer of legitimacy over the state system that keeps them in power – the notion of an independent and apolitical judiciary? Continue reading

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. Continue reading

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.

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An Afternoon with the Brexit Party


An Afternoon with the Brexit Party 

By Neil Lock

On 30th June 2019, I attended a “rally” organized by the UK’s Brexit party in the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham. At age 66, it was my first ever party political event, although I had been to an anti-EU meeting in London back in 2005. There were 5,500 people there, so I was told. There would only have been 5,499 without me!

Now, I am uncompromisingly pro-Brexit. Indeed, I see leaving the EU as the first step back from a cliff edge; the sine qua non for any possibility of change for the better in the politics of the islands called Britain. But I seek far more than just Brexit. I am, as those who know me will be aware, opposed to politics. All the dishonest, destructive politics that we suffer today.

Before the Brexit referendum three years before, I had not voted in 29 years. One of my main reasons for voting Leave was that, way back in the 1970s, the European project had been mis-sold to the people of the UK. Other reasons were to put an end to the ceaseless stream of pointless or actively destructive directives from the EU, and a desire not to be there when the EU’s ticking economic time-bomb goes off. Three years later, I am also angry that, in a supposed democracy, with the will of the people being so clearly expressed in a referendum, the political class nevertheless chose to renege on their promises, and to obstruct that will.

I find all the mainstream political parties – Tories, Labour, “slob dims” (as I call them) and greenies – to be criminal gangs. When I heard the Brexit party was gaining support – enough to get at least some “representation” in parliament, unlike their predecessors UKIP – I joined the party, and went to the rally to try to find out what they were about.

Can these guys and gals, I thought, really overturn the current system, and give ordinary people a proper say, at last, in how the UK is run? Or might they even, possibly, become in time able to do more; to unhinge the current system, and replace it by something that works for good people, not for politicized slime?

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