The three ids: Sajid, Javid and COVID


This is the funniest thing that has happened in politics in my lifetime! (Quite probably, the first funny thing in politics in my lifetime). I called in to my local Co-op this morning, saw in the newspaper rack the headline about recently appointed health secretary Sajid Javid catching the COVID virus, and couldn’t stop laughing! When I got home and looked up some more, my laughs became belly-laughs.

Sky News tells us that Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, as recent contacts of Javid, were phoned directly by NHS people, not pinged by the app. And that “legally” requires them to self-isolate for 10 days! Heh heh heh. Boot. Foot. Other. Hoist. Petard. Own.

I do hope that this will lead to a proper debate on what “the rule of law” is. In my view, it means that the rules we are expected to follow must be the same for everyone, with no exceptions – even for government. But I’m not holding my breath yet. The media are so corrupt that they are still with the establishment. As witness the “on-line safety bill,” intended to silence people who oppose the establishment, that makes exceptions for those “qualified” as “journalists.”

If I compare politics to a game of chess, Javid is a genius player. With one move, he has neutralized both the current incumbent and his main rival for the Tory party leadership. And he hasn’t been in his place long enough to be held responsible for the situation. Gove is already compromised by his recent trip to Portugal. When the Tory rank and file get restive this winter after lockdowns are re-imposed, who will they turn to? David Davis? Steve Baker? Or Javid? I can’t think of any other candidates.

For the avoidance of doubt, I do wish Sajid Javid a speedy and complete recovery from the coronavirus.

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

Political philosophy now illegal in the UK


Chris Bertram

Well, almost. The British government has just produced the guidance for its “Prevent” scheme for education, which aims to stop young people from being drawn into “extremism”. The elite at Oxford and Cambridge have been granted a specific exemption, allowing them to hear dangerous ideas that might corrupt the ordinary youth, and universities haven’t been given specific guidance on what they may teach. Colleges of further education, on the other hand, have been told that “All relevant curriculum areas will need to be engaged, with a single contact point for delivery of Prevent-related activity.” This so that students are not exposed to arguments that involve

“active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and the mutual tolerance of different faiths and beliefs.”

I suppose it will be news to some that these are “British” values, particularly if they are Irish or live in the former colonies. But leaving that aside, it looks like Plato is off the menu and to make sure:

“Compliance with the duty will be monitored centrally via the Home Office and through appropriate inspection regimes in each sector.”

Well, that’s freedom for you.