Let’s remind ourselves of the catalogue of chaos.
November 8, 2017 6:15 AM   Subscribe

 
This is the new Brexit thread then?
posted by pharm at 6:20 AM on November 8 [6 favorites]


Don't diss government incompetence; it's about the only mitigation we've got going for us at the moment, and that goes for both sides of the Atlantic.
posted by Segundus at 6:20 AM on November 8 [45 favorites]


I'm afraid that in the political realm at least, sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from evil.
posted by gwint at 6:23 AM on November 8 [55 favorites]


Give me bumbling, incompetent evil over shrewdly competent evil any day.*


*Does not apply when nuclear weapons are concerned.
posted by darkstar at 6:27 AM on November 8 [9 favorites]


Incompetent governance doesn’t hold evil people and the forces that naturally oppress more vulnerable people at bay, it empowers them and creates exactly the kind of chaotic environment sociopaths and psychopaths are best equipped to thrive in, so no, incompetent government doesn’t protect anybody from anything in my opinion and is never a positive thing. People die and have no defense against the more powerful when states fail because the state doesn’t in practice have a monopoly on power, only however much populist and military power its allowed to have. The state no matter what form it takes is not the root cause of power differentials but a more or less effective set of mechanisms for balancing existing, situational power imbalances. I hope libertarianism hits its head on that bathtub it wants to drown government in and dies a horrible ironic death.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:31 AM on November 8 [60 favorites]


Thanks, Grangousier - we may not have a sidebar link, but it's good to keep this going.

This morning's jaw-dropper from the Jewish Chronicle: No 10 knew about Patel meetings. Subsequently clarified by Downing Street (though not exactly denied).

A good Twitter thread by someone who used to work for the Foreign Office on why Patel's behaviour is so serious.

This Guardian editorial is a good reminder of the role of Brexit in protecting such incompetence.

Meanwhile, the EU is unlikely to agree to trade talks in December unless the UK offers more in the Brexit divorce settlement.
posted by rory at 6:40 AM on November 8 [5 favorites]


Grey's law: Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.
posted by zamboni at 6:41 AM on November 8 [12 favorites]


*Does not apply when nuclear weapons are concerned.

You do know that the UK is a nuclear state, right?
posted by The River Ivel at 6:41 AM on November 8 [2 favorites]




The only equivalent I can think of to nominating Boris as Foreign Secretary is Bush appointing John Bolton as UN ambassador. It's straight up deliberate trolling.
posted by kersplunk at 6:43 AM on November 8 [20 favorites]


You do know that the UK is a nuclear state, right?

Yes, that was kind of the point.
posted by darkstar at 6:46 AM on November 8 [3 favorites]


Patel has been recalled from her official business in Africa and has been on a plane back to London all morning... the UK political journalists on Twitter have been posting flight-tracking pictures, anticipating what awaits her.

She and Johnson both ought to go, of course, and it looks as if May might use a Patel dismissal as a circuit-breaker to save her own skin. But after the furore within her party last week when she made the chief whip her new Defence Secretary, she's surely running out of lives.
posted by rory at 6:50 AM on November 8 [1 favorite]


Incompetent governance doesn’t hold evil people and the forces that naturally oppress more vulnerable people at bay, it empowers them and creates exactly the kind of chaotic environment sociopaths and psychopaths are best equipped to thrive in, so no, incompetent government doesn’t protect anybody from anything in my opinion and is never a positive thing.

You reckon it would have been far better for vulnerable people if Trump had repealed Obamacare, as any competent Republican President would surely have been able to do?
posted by Segundus at 6:55 AM on November 8 [2 favorites]


> But after the furore within her party last week when she made the chief whip her new Defence Secretary, she's surely running out of lives.

But no one wants to replace her now. No one wants to represent Britain in the Brexit talks and have to return to the country with the inevitable disappointments on every. single. issue. when it is clear that the majority of the country no longer wants this to happen anyway, when the UK has very little power in the negotiations, and when the Tory party is such a mess anyway.

Can you say 'poisoned chalice'?
posted by giraffeneckbattle at 6:56 AM on November 8 [9 favorites]


Just imagine the trepidation when Patel takes off flight mode as the plane touches down, no doubt scanning the notifications to see if there's one that says "You can't resign anymore, you've been sacked."
posted by giraffeneckbattle at 6:58 AM on November 8 [1 favorite]


So the UK imploding politically and economically before Brexit even starts would be funny as hell.

I mean, still horrific if you live there or know people live there or depend on any British institution in any way, but still funny as hell.

My god we're so shit and helpless, how did it come to this?
posted by Artw at 7:01 AM on November 8 [6 favorites]


You do know that the UK is a nuclear state, right?

We probably don't remember where we've left the keys for them.
posted by Artw at 7:02 AM on November 8 [14 favorites]


All he has to do is not administer it properly and regardless of what the law as written is, he can still hurt people. I’ve worked in and around state level government for almost 20 years. Ask me how I know.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:02 AM on November 8 [1 favorite]


I know Trump is mentioned and all, but can people fuck off with discussion that is ONLY about trump? Cheers.
posted by Artw at 7:05 AM on November 8 [24 favorites]


We probably don't remember where we've left the keys for them.

It wouldn't surprise me, given that the crews appear to be more focused on partying than actually manning their terrifying platforms of worldwide destruction.
posted by pharm at 7:05 AM on November 8 [1 favorite]


It wouldn't surprise me, given that the crews appear to be more focused on partying than actually manning their terrifying platforms of worldwide destruction.

Not gonna lie, I'd rather nuclear weapon operators be partying than be ready to launch. Much better use of their time.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:10 AM on November 8 [12 favorites]


On the plus side, the Anglosphere press always greets anyone who's too far left with a blizzard of "incompetence!" stories the moment they gain any sort of power. If someone like Corbyn does end up in power, at least this gives him a little breathing room.
posted by clawsoon at 7:11 AM on November 8 [4 favorites]


So the UK imploding politically and economically before Brexit even starts would be funny as hell.

I mean, still horrific if you live there or know people live there or depend on any British institution in any way, but still funny as hell.


Maybe that explains this, where it seems like we 're actually really enjoying all this.

Or at least some people are. I think my responses to those questions would have been roughly 0, 0, -5, 12, but no one ever asked me about it.
posted by dng at 7:17 AM on November 8


Hugo Rifkind kind of summed up the whole debacle yesterday on Twitter:
So many members of the Cabinet ought to resign that none of them can. It's like the Three Stooges trying to get through a door.
posted by Sonny Jim at 7:22 AM on November 8 [42 favorites]


The word is malcompetence.
posted by maxsparber at 7:29 AM on November 8 [8 favorites]


Britain's so far gone its not even the titanic anymore, its the iceberg, drifting around aimlessly, causing havoc almost by accident, all the while slowly dissolving into the sea.
posted by dng at 7:32 AM on November 8 [21 favorites]


Not to mention "Foreign secretary’s impromptu recital of colonial-era poem was so embarrassing the UK ambassador was forced to stop him"

sweet jesus
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 7:32 AM on November 8 [5 favorites]


This is exactly why we can't have any new episodes of the Thick of It.

It would come off as implausibly silly.

I mean, just imagine Iannucci inthe writers room,
"...and then, all the letters fall off the back"
"No Armando, that's just silly"
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 7:37 AM on November 8 [25 favorites]


Meanwhile, the Guardian is live. This just in:
Priti Patel leaves Heathrow

BBC News has just shown footage of Priti Patel getting into a ministerial car at Heathrow. It is not very clear, but she is the figure sitting in the back in the car on the right, with her hand reaching out to close the door.
posted by Sonny Jim at 7:38 AM on November 8


The BBC has a helicopter watching her car.
I mean, I enjoy a good media circus as much as anyone, but this is just absurd.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 7:41 AM on November 8 [6 favorites]


Deploy the news drone!
posted by Artw at 7:43 AM on November 8 [5 favorites]


Deploy the news drone!

I 100% read this in Chris Morris' voice.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 7:50 AM on November 8 [14 favorites]


It's WAR!
posted by Artw at 8:06 AM on November 8 [6 favorites]


And this isn’t even touching on the other lurking questions in U.K. politics, like: what’s going to happen in Northern Ireland now the finally-final-we-mean-it-we-do talks have collapsed yet again and the DUP is pushing for direct rule? What’s happened to those Brexit impact assessments? And does Gavin Williamson’s tarantula go with him to the new job or is it a perk of being Tory chief whip? THE PEOPLE OF BRITAIN NEED ANSWERS, GAVIN!
posted by Catseye at 8:09 AM on November 8 [5 favorites]


[rory: we may not have a sidebar link, but it's good to keep this going

I've added it to the sidebar!]

posted by taz at 8:13 AM on November 8 [2 favorites]


Someone on Twitter, discussing one of Trump appointees (any of them, really) called it "weaponized imbecility." Le mot juste.
posted by corvikate at 8:15 AM on November 8 [4 favorites]


.......3 of us Working in the NHS as an EU family and I’m sick to my stomach, not for us personally, we have loads of options but seeing the huge decline in EU nurses signing up to the NMC register , I can see with absolute horrific clarity what these data means in the community nursing teams, mental health is the worst impacted, A&E departments will close, ward staffing especially HCAs decimated, grim, speaking to staff from EU all around my region with firm plans to go elsewhere, people will die as a direct result of this vote, there will be evidence, I have no doubt it will be as fudged as the data of a 7 day NHS, BUT seeing the numbers.............I’m really really scared. This Winter we are at breaking point as it is and none of the announcements from the DH, on increases in importing 5,000GPS ( performing way below expectations) increasing medical school places for British students ( will impact on front line staffing in 6-7 yrs at the earliest, or increasing the nursing placements ( pretty useless the year after we stopped paying the nurses to study and got them to take out a student loan instead!) Even if the magic number crunching of the Department of Health suggesting that by moving to student loans we will get more student nurses applications, which of course didn’t happen, the additional placements with you through in three years time.

Sorry to be all over by the counting…………of bodies.
posted by Wilder at 8:17 AM on November 8 [21 favorites]


Thanks, taz!

What’s happened to those Brexit impact assessments?

Our researchers are hard at work.
posted by rory at 8:17 AM on November 8 [1 favorite]


Quoting from that last link of Wilder's:

“What our data shows is that the demand for healthcare staff is increasing, it’s on an upwards trajectory. Whilst we have confidence we can and will do more to attract people into the sector, the reality is there’s a lead-in time. We will benefit from more medical school places in England but medical school takes five years and it takes from 10-15 years to emerge as a consultant - it takes a significant length of time. In the meantime, we need to make sure we can properly staff the service.”

Assuming that UK students will fill the gap rather assumes that there will be enough UK students wanting to go into that field. But a big part of the rise in the UK birthrate 10 years ago was recent immigrants having kids after they got here. Guess what happens to those kids if their parents leave the UK in response to Brexit...
posted by rory at 8:24 AM on November 8 [4 favorites]


We probably don't remember where we've left the keys for them.

It’s fine, they were literally secured with bike locks for years. I bet we’ve only updated to patio door locks. Or maybe a door chain and a suspicious pensioner.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:24 AM on November 8 [6 favorites]


firm plans to go elsewhere, people will die as a direct result of this vote, there will be evidence, I have no doubt it will be as fudged as the data of a 7 day NHS, BUT seeing the numbers

There's already been a huge increase in deaths over the last two years (approximately 50,000 more deaths across 2015 and 2016 compared to the two years previously), so I dread to think what's going to happen next. An aging population and a withering NHS is a nightmarish scenario.
posted by dng at 8:26 AM on November 8 [3 favorites]


No one wants to represent Britain in the Brexit talks and have to return to the country with the inevitable disappointments on every. single. issue. when it is clear that the majority of the country no longer wants this to happen anyway

Interesting, I was just reading that the polls themselves are still showing close to 50/50 split on the issue, to whit "“I think it’s possible but unlikely,” said John Springford of the pro-Europe Centre for European Reform.

“If we were going to reverse Brexit without a huge backlash, there would have to be quite a significant shift in public opinion. But we’ve had lots and lots of opinion polls, and they all produce a similar result as last year’s referendum: about fifty-fifty,” Springford said.
"
posted by Carillon at 9:00 AM on November 8 [4 favorites]


Quite an unnerving feeling to realise that ones homeland is just too stupid to live.
posted by Artw at 9:03 AM on November 8 [16 favorites]


Depressing that "about 50/50" is supposedly equivalent to cast iron support for a major and destructive upheaval.
posted by Dysk at 9:11 AM on November 8 [16 favorites]


about fifty-fifty,” Springford said."

Geez, they'd probably would have saved a lot of time, money, and sanity by just flipping a coin.
posted by FJT at 9:13 AM on November 8


Depressing that "about 50/50" is supposedly equivalent to cast iron support for a major and destructive upheaval.

Yeah, all the Tories who were harrumphing that such a 'destructive' act as Scottish independence should be subject to a supermajority and an English veto can fuck right off, since they seem content to tank the whole country on a razor thin pensioner whim protest vote.
posted by Happy Dave at 9:14 AM on November 8 [27 favorites]


It doesn't seem possible that there will be any reversal until things get much, much worse. And with enormous consumer debt, growing inflation, a devalued pound, the exit of skilled workers, things will get worse and thats even before Brexit happens. Brexit itself is a country negotiating to get less-favorable trade deals than it already has with the rest of the world. There is no good end to this.

This is what informed our decision to move out of the country. We lived in the UK countryside where we met a large number of people who voted Leave. And since then they don't seem to understand what their decision meant or why the UK has not yet left the EU. So they have no basis to alter their decision. Since the UK is still in the EU it sure doesn't seem like the world has crumbled and surely people are exaggerating the consequences. Those politicians, cant trust them. Let's get on with it, right?

This seeming normalcy in the midst of growing chaos absolutely terrified us.
posted by vacapinta at 9:15 AM on November 8 [30 favorites]


Two decades ago, at school, I proposed that in order to vote on a thing, you should have to answer a few basic questions on what exactly you were voting for - party policy on a few key issues, implications of an initiative, whatever - and that any ballot that had no or unequivocally incorrect answers to these questions should be discarded as invalid. I'm still not convinced this is a bad idea.
posted by Dysk at 9:30 AM on November 8 [6 favorites]


Except that that's basically how Jim Crow worked in the Deep South.
posted by Happy Dave at 9:33 AM on November 8 [14 favorites]


Who decides what's 'correct' in describing an issue? We can barely agree referendum questions, never mind what the actual words mean.
posted by Happy Dave at 9:34 AM on November 8 [1 favorite]


It's the 2017 Transatlantic Malcompetence-off
posted by gottabefunky at 9:35 AM on November 8 [4 favorites]


I prefer to think I’m living in a fictional universe operating by its own rules at this point. It’s a coping mechanism.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far, away...

A vast sea of stars serves as the backdrop for the main title. War drums echo through the heavens as a rollup slowly crawls into infinity.
“BRITAIN FACES A SIMPLE AND INESCAPABLE CHOICE - STABILITY AND STRONG GOVERNMENT WITH ME, OR CHAOS WITH ED MILIBAND.”

posted by Catseye at 9:37 AM on November 8 [5 favorites]


Who decides what's 'correct' in describing an issue?

Civil service.
posted by Dysk at 9:40 AM on November 8


I thought they'd beheaded all the experts?
posted by Artw at 9:44 AM on November 8


I never imagined I would look back on John Major's government as a shining example of unity and competence.
posted by daveje at 10:15 AM on November 8 [8 favorites]


Except that that's basically how Jim Crow worked in the Deep South.

My understanding was Jim Crow tests had impossible (or impossibly ambiguous) questions unrelated to the issues, and were given exclusively to black voters.
posted by zippy at 10:32 AM on November 8 [2 favorites]


I never imagined I would look back on David Cameron's government as a shining example of unity and competence.
posted by The River Ivel at 10:38 AM on November 8 [8 favorites]


So, knowing what a self-serving piece of work Patel is, she'll be off to a lucrative job in Israel and laughing that she's left the train wreck of Brexit in time before it turns really ugly, and also dumped on Johnson and May into the deal. She's cynical, not stupid, and maybe gets an inkling that selling arms and spyware into an increasingly morally bankrupt state like the UK is a better fit for her now she can't sell cigarettes to children.

Guess we'll find out in the next few days.

Priti, Priti good!
posted by davemee at 10:55 AM on November 8 [5 favorites]


If you want educated voters you educate them. Intelligence tests only tend to disenfranchise the already downtrodden.
posted by runcibleshaw at 11:03 AM on November 8 [15 favorites]


This is the new Brexit thread then?

Right then, I've been looking for a place on the Blue for this Tweetstormed update on Brexit negotiation from Jonathan Lis‏ @jonlis1 of the pro-EU/UK trading British Influence group.
Back from meetings in Brussels. There's good news and bad news. First, the bad news. Because it's... extremely bad. 1/
2/ While consensus in London seems to assume trade talks kick off in December, senior EU officials now consider this, on balance, unlikely
3/ Brussels monitors UK media & ministers' statements - they can see PM has been backtracking since Florence - ie backtracking to cliff-edge
4/ Behind the scenes, also evidence that UK has reneged on guarantees for citizens that it initially signalled it would make. Really bad.
5/ As for money, if May insists she can't make any further commitments, EU will not trigger trade talks in December. It's that simple.
6/ EU went as far as it could in Oct. Nobody's asking for precise figure, just specific commitments. €60bn the ballpark figure.
7/ UK Government knows all this, incidentally. They're in denial about it. But what happens if they test EU anyway?
8/ If no agreement in Dec, next opportunity to kick-start talks is in March. That leaves *7 months* to agree deal. They can't, and won't.
9/ All of this means, we're heading for crisis (and economic shock) very soon - December or January - unless UK comes to its senses.
10/ EU fears May, when rebuffed in Dec through her instransigence, will retreat to comforting insanity of Redwood/Mogg Brexit utopia. BAD.
11/ So senior EU officials now putting chances of no-deal at over 50%, and making detailed impact assessments about what it means for EU
12/ EU officials don't think UK Gov working in national interest; worse, believe May & Davis don't understand process, or what no-deal means
13/ EU unsure whether civil servants not telling ministers truth, or if ministers just aren't listening- but UK incompetence is mystifying
14/ One official agreed that Davis's recent remark on negotiations going down to wire, after EU Parl't vote, was lunacy. EP vote is final.
15/ Which brings us to the centrality of the misunderstanding. Brexit is a political, but far more importantly, a legal process.
16/ Article 50 rules must be obeyed. Which means, everything must be agreed by European Parliament. And that means, *everything*.
17/ So when Davis says that we'll have a basic deal, on eg aviation, but without things we want, that must also be approved by EU Parl't.
18/ And here's the thing: it won't happen. EU conditions for deal are € above all else: if UK refuses to pay everything, no deal on anything
19/ If UK planning to leave hole in EU budget, forget about 'deal no deal', 'basic deal', or 'orderly no deal'. No deal means no deal.
20/ That means no aviation, drastically curbed radiotherapy. No transfer of nuclear material unless UK's undergone exhaustive IAEA process
21/ EU thinks UK won't easily be able to resurrect old aviation treaties, and a new one will take 2 years. This also requires goodwill.
22/ EU also fears Gov won't walk away, but just let clock tick - a no-deal by accident or incapacity. Followed by 'bloody unreasonable EU'.
23/ EU also not concerned about its own unity - in a crisis, officials think member states will rally round, not peel off. Unlike in UK.
24/ This, regrettably, is not the only bad news.
25/ As Barnier's made clear, there's no bespoke transition. That means we have to stay in EEA, and to make that seamless, apply to join EFTA
26/ EFTA officials confident UK could apply to join EFTA quite quickly & provisionally apply agreement for Mar 19, seamlessly staying in EEA
27/ This, provided Norway & Iceland happy to let UK in for transitional period. But they would be under great pressure to allow it.
28/ Might even be possible for UK to negotiate 'associate' EFTA status so doesn't have to apply to join EFTA's trade deals (big concession)
29/ Only... Northern Ireland is ruined, because off-shelf EEA agreement excludes agriculture. Which means full WTO tariffs. No ifs, no buts.
30/ EEA Agreement Article 19 provides framework for agri liberalisation- but needs to be negotiated from scratch. Norway's deal took 2yrs.
31/ So Davis was right to say, last Tuesday, that new tariffs would be 'a real problem' for NI. It's a problem he's determined to make real.
32/ So, I hear you ask, where's the good news?
Easy. If UK wants to extend A50, or revoke it, just say magic word. Even at last minute.
33/ Can negotiate new aviation treaty, new agri provisions to top up EEA, or a new trade deal, while comfortably still in EU.
34/ Senior officials describe difficulty of UK participating in EU elections as 'lowest priority'. Avoiding cliff-edge much more important.
35/ EU doubts PM has authority to pull this off. Easier for her to drag us off cliff than show humility/common sense. But there's still time
36/ It's not too late to see this cliff-edge & prevent what's otherwise an unavoidable catastrophe. All they need to do is open their eyes.
37/ That was the news. If anyone's friends with Theresa or David, please let them know
(Just imagine how much more of this kind of hybrid article outline/Powerpoint presentation we'll get with 280 characters.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:12 AM on November 8 [26 favorites]


Patel has resigned. Let's see who May replaces her with. My money's on Jim Davidson.

(Non-UK readers: that is a joke. Jim Davidson is a racist stand-up comedian.)
posted by Grangousier at 11:16 AM on November 8 [6 favorites]


One of the most pernicious myths in the last seven decades has been that of authoritarian/fascist competence. The truth is, authoritarianism and incompetence go hand in hand - it's a way for the well connected incompetent to thrive in the face of failure. Actual results aren't as important as hierarchial power and control. This has been the truth even when it comes to the Nazi-their supposed technological prowness and efficiency was a myth.

So seeing massive incompetence from Theresa May's government and the Trump regime isn't a surprise to me. It's what they're about.
posted by happyroach at 11:24 AM on November 8 [18 favorites]


[Debating Jim Crow is a derail in a UK politics thread.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:58 AM on November 8 [5 favorites]


If you want educated voters you educate them. Intelligence tests only tend to disenfranchise the already downtrodden.

For reference, I'm asking for a test of being correctly informed, not intelligence. But I would be happy to see the tabloid press banned and a meaningful regulatory body requiring truth and accuracy in reporting as an alternative, because that is practically a precondition for being able to educate the populace, given the lies they're constantly being fed.
posted by Dysk at 12:02 PM on November 8 [7 favorites]


Behind the scenes, also evidence that UK has reneged on guarantees for citizens that it initially signalled it would make. Really bad.

For a bunch of us, this is the understatement of the century, but also wholly unsurprising. The number of times I was told by enthusiastic Brexiteers that 'well, it's not like you're going to get thrown out' even in the face of continual dithering and refusal to make any guarantees. And yes, fuck Jeremy "Three Line Whip for Blank Cheque Tory Brexit" Corbyn's Labour, too.
posted by Dysk at 12:06 PM on November 8 [9 favorites]


And it continues! Tom Watson writes to May on “reports that I have received which are difficult to reconcile with the Government’s account of events”, namely that Patel met FCO officials when in Israel. Which if that’s true, would mean that her original statements and suggestions that Boris Johnson knew and No 10 knew were true after all. Interesting.
posted by Catseye at 12:47 PM on November 8


For reference, I'm asking for a test of being correctly informed, not intelligence.

Let's leave off the sticky matter of what "correctly informed" could even mean in practice. No matter what the test, call it intelligence, literacy, or being "correctly informed" you are functionally instituting a disenfranchisement campaign. What you're saying is that on top of the legal requirements of citizenship and age that there is some additional requirement based on some arbitrary level of understanding of complicated political issues. Even if the understanding being tested is very very basic, such a test favors those who are better educated, which often means richer. So you are in fact proposing a system that disproportionately favors disenfranchisement of those who are less well off. I'm guessing that this is not the kind of thing you were going for. But, maybe it is.

On top of that, such a test would not actually do anything because politicians would teach voters the answers to the questions (or more slyly, try to teach the wrong answers to their opponents voters). What you really want is a better informed citizenry. That's done through education. A better informed electorate is created by informing them better, not by testing some arbitrary benchmark of understanding.
posted by runcibleshaw at 12:57 PM on November 8 [5 favorites]


"Tom Watson writes to May ..."

PRETTY sure you meant "MeFi's Own Tom Watson."
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:57 PM on November 8 [3 favorites]


Like I said, I would take a reform of the press which renders it fit for purpose as an alternative. As an aside, you're also speaking to someone who had never been eligible to vote in any kind of general election anywhere in her entire life, so you'll have to excuse my finding disenfranchisement less vicious or evil than most probably do.
posted by Dysk at 1:01 PM on November 8 [1 favorite]


MeFi's Own Tom Watson.

Haha, so he is!
posted by Catseye at 1:07 PM on November 8


Weren't the Tories compelled by Bercroft to release the Brexit impact studies by yesterday?

They talked up the 'coalition of chaos' but they're proving they can do chaos without a coalition, thankyouverymuch.

Patel seems to have bought them a momentary lapse of collective memory in the press, unless I missed Davis fudging himself some time while he reassembles his department's homework from the parts the dog didn't eat.
posted by davemee at 1:25 PM on November 8


> Weren't the Tories compelled by Bercroft to release the Brexit impact studies by yesterday?

Turns out they never existed. Why can you never find a lamppost when you need one...
posted by Leon at 1:29 PM on November 8


I think it's a bit unfair to accuse the Tories from being incompetent. It only took May a bit over two years to get into the sort of shambles Thatcher & Major had to work hard the better part of a decade for. We're almost at the double wetsuit stage already.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:42 PM on November 8


EXT. BRITAIN 2017 - DAY

In the distance, a one-legged man jumps up and down, desperately trying to kick himself in the balls.

The Benny Hill theme tune plays over and over and over and over and over and over and over.

FADE TO BLACK
posted by reynir at 2:18 PM on November 8 [11 favorites]


And we don’t even get to enjoy the spectacle of a Tory government floundering around and falling face-first into their own custard pies, because all the time the Brexit deadline gets closer. It’s like being in a nightmare where you’re stuck in a circus, and you know that there’s a timebomb ticking away under the stage, but no matter how many people you try to tell, no-one will take you seriously.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 2:25 PM on November 8 [9 favorites]


Apparently, you can get odds of 38/1 on another general election this year. Quite tempted.
posted by Devonian at 5:21 PM on November 8 [3 favorites]


An aging population and a withering NHS is a nightmarish scenario.

CASE NIGHTMARE GREY ?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:44 PM on November 8 [2 favorites]


The test that I'd like to see applied isn't one for eligibility to vote, but one for newspapers, where there's a daily sample of people who are given a reading comprehension test on a set of newspaper articles and headlines, and then their responses are marked on a true/false scale.

And of course it's the newspaper that gets scored on how well people understand it, not the people being tested. No actual punishment for the newspapers which fail the test, merely that every newspaper has to publish its score prominently on the front page.

So the responsibility for making sure that members of the public understand what's going on falls on the media, not the public. Obviously there are implementation pitfalls but I think the general principle seems quite handy.

Also, it'd be nice to have a "do you think the UK is a goofy punchline" checkbox on UK politics posts, because I came into this thread yesterday and felt like there were people laughing at the shitty situation this country's in despite being unaffected. And I was too deflated to post constructively here, or to post a MeTa.
posted by ambrosen at 12:59 AM on November 9 [9 favorites]


I would be interested in anyone has any links to articles discussing what makes people stick to or change from their previous choice. What would it take for someone who voted leave to regret their choice:
Friend losing their job? Not being able to fly to Europe? Lack of funding in the NHS (the sick irony!)?
Or do people stubonly stick to their view through thick and thin?
posted by 92_elements at 1:09 AM on November 9 [1 favorite]


92_elements: we know that people tend to stick to their choices very stubbornly right until the end game makes it clear that they have no support even from people like them who make the same choices as they did. It’s a metastable system where there’s an island of stability where everyone who made a bad choice can close their eyes and pretend everything is fine for a long time.

To take a political example from history - 25% of those polled approved of the job Nixon was doing as president the week he quit before he was pushed. That was after *months* of Watergate hearings, release of tape transcripts etc etc.

We’ll see the same with Leave voters. Half of them will never give up on it, regardless of the outcome. The other half will shift their opinion but it will take concrete changes on the ground to convince them - which unfortunately means we’ll already have incurred many of the costs of Brexit.
posted by pharm at 1:54 AM on November 9 [2 favorites]


The other half will shift their opinion

Or if your area voted 70% in favour of Leave, you can then ask for exemptions from the very thing you voted for.

Is this having your fish and eating it?
posted by jontyjago at 2:37 AM on November 9 [4 favorites]


IDS is saying to the press that May has to replace Patel with another Brexiteer, and then says "we are all Brexiteers now" in the same breath. Well done, mate. Somehow I'm guessing he wouldn't be happy with someone who campaigned for Remain, even though by his own logic literally anyone would be a Brexiteer. Tosser.
posted by Dysk at 3:00 AM on November 9 [1 favorite]


Remember that deal on EU citizens in the UK and vice versa that was 'very close'? Oh no it isn't.

If these rumpnuggets don't get some sort of act together soon, it won't be Brexit, it'll be partiion.
posted by Devonian at 3:05 AM on November 9 [5 favorites]


Brexit has broken British politics: To old friends, the UK appears to be in the grip of an inexplicable fever.

The last hope is that there is a hidden irony in all this: that the political chaos wrought by the referendum is the only thing that could stop Brexit happening.
posted by rory at 3:18 AM on November 9


It’s certainly looking increasingly as if the Tories are simply incapable of actually negotiating any kind of Brexit deal at all, due mainly to being unwilling to even look at the choices open to them and commit to one of them. Wishing thinking and bloviating rhetoric do not make hard choices go away, no matter how far Boris has carried his political career on the back of those particular character flaws.
posted by pharm at 3:29 AM on November 9 [4 favorites]


Remember that deal on EU citizens in the UK and vice versa that was 'very close'? Oh no it isn't.

One line in that article prompted me to do some sums that I hadn't before...

3.2m EU27 citizens living in the UK and 900,000 British citizens in other member states

EU28 population: 743.1 million
UK population (2016): 65.64 million
EU27 citizens population = 743.1 - (65.64 - 3.2) - 0.9 = 679.76m
UK citizens (living in EU28) population = 65.64 - 3.2 + 0.9 = 63.34m

This doesn't account for other non-citizen residents in UK or the EU27, but assuming those have roughly equivalent shares of each population, we can estimate that:

3.2m / 679.76m = 0.47% of EU27 citizens live in the UK.

0.9m / 63.34m = 1.42% of UK citizens live in the EU27.

UK citizens are therefore currently making three times as much use of FoM to live in the rest of the EU as EU27 citizens are to live in the UK.
posted by rory at 3:40 AM on November 9 [11 favorites]


And Jacob Rees-Mogg is favourite for next Tory leader, at 7/1. I just can't.

Here's my plan for saving the nation.

1. Force a general election.
2. Labour stands on a 'Fix Brexit' platform, promising
3. A second referendum, with four choices to 'fix Brexit', from 'No Brexit' through to ultra-Brexit, with vaguely Norway and vaguely Canada (or whatevs) in the other two positions.
4. No Brexit gets the most votes, because while the 'no wogs' will go for ultra, the burgeoning insanity of wrecking the economy - and the lies told by Leave last time not being resuable - only has to pick off a few.
5. Cancel Brext, and get on with poverty/homes/health/economic recovery

Simples. Labour doesn't even have to be anti-Brexit, just anti-chaos. The second referendum will be fine: it's not written down anywhere that this can't happen, and it's not as if fuckups by one referendum have never been fixed by a second. If The People Have Spoken, they can Speak Again. What's that, Sooty? You don't trust the people now? Well, bollocks to that.
posted by Devonian at 4:31 AM on November 9 [13 favorites]


Media watch. Boris Johnson briefly on Fox's American morning show, Fox & Friends (8:20am New York Time) What Fox wants to know is what Trump is going to say to Putin when they meet in Vietnam. Johnson obliges, burbles away. Says nothing of substance. The Fox chyron at the bottom of the screen says "Former Mayor or London". Not a whisper about him being the UK's Foreign Secretary. Do Fox & Friends know something we don't know?
posted by Mister Bijou at 4:43 AM on November 9 [1 favorite]


Here's my plan for saving the nation.

My only slightly less realistic plan:

New general election is called. Dealing with Brexit being the poisoned chalice that it is, only UKIP and the Lib Dems field candidates. The Lib Dems win, beg the EU27 to be let back in ignoring Cameron's stupid advisory referendum, committing political suicide a second time in less than a decade in the process. Another election is swiftly called, which Labour and the Tories both contest. Politics is back to normal.

A girl can dream.
posted by Dysk at 4:52 AM on November 9 [1 favorite]


> And Jacob Rees-Mogg is favourite for next Tory leader, at 7/1. I just can't.

I wonder whatever happened to that "Two Words: Jacob Rees-Mogg" Momentum style campaign? Oh, people are being mean to them. Sad.
posted by lucidium at 5:08 AM on November 9 [1 favorite]


> Labour stands on a 'Fix Brexit' platform, promising a second referendum

This is not going to happen.

A Corbyn vs. Mogg election. Jesus wept. Where did all the vaguely competent grown-ups go?
posted by Leon at 5:26 AM on November 9 [4 favorites]


Every time I convince myself that Brexit won't actually happen I remember that World War I did happen, even though no one wanted it. I mean, that particular war. Sure, Austria-Hungary wanted war with Serbia, and there's ample evidence that Germany wanted a quick preventive war with both France and Russia, but no one wanted that.
posted by Sonny Jim at 5:35 AM on November 9 [1 favorite]


I would be interested in anyone has any links to articles discussing what makes people stick to or change from their previous choice.

Right on cue: The neuroscience of no regrets: why people still support Brexit and Trump.
posted by rory at 6:09 AM on November 9 [4 favorites]


"The Fox chyron at the bottom of the screen says "Former Mayor or London". Not a whisper about him being the UK's Foreign Secretary. Do Fox & Friends know something we don't know?"

It's Fox & Friends. If they call him a secretary, their viewers will think his job is making tea and typing memos.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:45 AM on November 9 [9 favorites]


But can you imagine Boris as that kind of secretary, though? The tea would never get made and the memos would be leaked to the Spectator, only full of interpolated Kipling quotes you never remembered anyone actually asking to be put in there.
posted by Sonny Jim at 7:26 AM on November 9 [5 favorites]


If you're not reading Chris Grey on Brexit, you should:

we are on a very perilous tightrope with no certainty, and perhaps only a slender chance, of getting to the other side more or less intact. If the government implodes too soon, the Ultras may still drag us to disaster; if it struggles on as it is for too long the disaster will arrive of its own accord and it will be too late to do anything about it.
posted by rory at 9:08 AM on November 9 [2 favorites]


If you're not reading Chris Grey on Brexit, you should:

Now bookmarked.

Thanks!
posted by Mister Bijou at 9:37 AM on November 9


Also, it'd be nice to have a "do you think the UK is a goofy punchline" checkbox on UK politics posts, because I came into this thread yesterday and felt like there were people laughing at the shitty situation this country's in despite being unaffected. And I was too deflated to post constructively here, or to post a MeTa.

Here’s the thing though, and I’m going to try and say this as carefully and sensitively as I can: finding the situation funny is a valid response, regardless of whether or not you’re personally affected. The UK has made itself a punchline, as horrific as that is to live through as a a Brit. People will die unnecessarily as a result of Brexit; people will be immiserated. People close to me will probably die unnecessarily. I personally will be immiserated. It’s already fucked my career. But even I find it funny how disasterously this is being handled on the UK side.

Things can be both awful and also funny. In fact, much of the really successful British comedy shows have exploited awful / funny situations (think of Fawlty Towers, or The Office, or Black Mirror, etc etc etc). There’s a reason that people keep saying that Brexit has rendered The Thick Of It obsolete.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 11:10 AM on November 9 [9 favorites]


It's not Brexit as such that's rendered the Thick of It redundant, more the complete lack of any seeming political competence on any side.

But the thing is, much of that is caused by our stupid electoral system.
Labour should not be one party.
The Conservatives should not be one party.
Even the lib dems are maybe a bit split.

It's insane that you have a Party which has Jacob Rees-Mogg (Anti Gay marriage, anti abortion very pro brexit) with David Cameron (Pro Gay Marriage, Pro Europe)
Or Jeremy Corbyn (Nationalise the trains, No Student Fees, Maybe Basic Income) and say Frank Field (Pre Free Market, Sketchy on Abortion, Big fan of Thatcher)

The parties were barely holding together at the best of times, but couple the Tory Eurosceptic division and Labours left vs liberal divide. This could all be settled relatively simply if you had a proportional system and split the Tories and Labour into four parties (if not more).
But as it is, you split and you die.

People are opposed because they don't like the idea of "grubby coalition deals in smoky back rooms" but that's exactly what is happening now, just under a single banner with no way to vote for which bits you want.
If we had PR we would have a Brexit party and a Lexit Party. We'd have a Liberal Labour party and Left Labour. We'd have a Cameronian Compassionate Conservatism party and a May-esque Authoritarian Conservative party.
I wouldn't have to vote for The Red One in the hope that enough of the red ones want what I want (and of course because they need the votes you're never quite sure if they do actually want what you want).
Right vs Left is stupid and doesn't represent the kind of choice I need.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 11:40 AM on November 9 [5 favorites]


The Lib Dems win, beg the EU27 to be let back in ignoring Cameron's stupid advisory referendum, committing political suicide a second time in less than a decade in the process. Another election is swiftly called, which Labour and the Tories both contest. Politics is back to normal.

The Europeans, sensing Britain's desperation and in no hurry to let such a volatile actor back in, accept, with strict conditions; and so, Britain ends up in the Schengen zone, with the Pound replaced by the Euro, and a 10-year timeline for replacing those chunky British power plugs with standard European ones that don't cause injury when stepped on. (In their magnanimity, and perhaps heeding the lessons of the Versailles treaty and its aftermath, they let us keep the 568ml pint as a measure for beer.) Other than a few blustering buffoons like Johnson and Farage, Britain gradually accepts that it is a medium-sized European country, and has no more claim to exceptionality than, say, Denmark (another greatly diminished former empire, most recently known for “hygge”).
posted by acb at 4:31 PM on November 9 [3 favorites]


It's like you're inside my head, acb.
posted by Dysk at 5:41 PM on November 9


But instead, we're getting this.

Just look at how reasonable they're being - they've set their brexit date and time for 11pm GMT so it can be at exactly midnight CET. What more do they want?!
posted by Dysk at 6:37 PM on November 9 [1 favorite]


Britain ends up in the Schengen zone,
Yes!

with the Pound replaced by the Euro,
Also not a problem.

replacing those chunky British power plugs with standard European ones
Aww hell no! The plugs are about the only good thing we've got. I'll go brexit for the plugs! (I wouldn't really... Well, maybe?)
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 9:43 PM on November 9 [2 favorites]


with the Pound replaced by the Euro,
Also not a problem.


The € is a disaster area, so this would absolutely be a problem. The only reason the UK didn’t have a crippling depression in 2007/2008 is because Brown kept us out of the €. That one decision makes up for everything else he got wrong by a country mile.
posted by pharm at 1:37 AM on November 10 [6 favorites]


The EU would love to have the UK back in on the conditions before June 2016. The humiliation of the whole process would be enough warning to other countries not to leave.

Longer term I could see the rebate being removed, but there is no chance for either the euro or schengen membership. Simply wouldn't work politically domestically.
posted by 92_elements at 3:19 AM on November 10 [2 favorites]


Talking of Schengen - the UK's proposal that NI should inhabit some sort of shadow Schengen between the EU and the UK but not actually be in the EU has been rejected as bollocks, because it absolutely is.

This is one of tne of the areas the EU called out as needing good progress before talks could evolve: none of them has, of course, but the NI border question is more pressing than the rest. Either the UK proposes a hard border between the Irelands, which fucks things up for everyone, or a hard border between NI and Great Britain that leaves NI in the EU, which is unthinkable to the DUP who're keeping the show, such as it is, on the road, such as it is. (Scotland is watching all this with keen interest, of course.)

(The other alternative, which is invading the south and forcibly annexing it to the UK again, has been tried before and didn't work out so well - even the misty-eyed imperialists of the ultras don't seem keen on that one. Or perhaps they just haven't thought of it yet.)
posted by Devonian at 3:38 AM on November 10 [2 favorites]


Ireland are not in Schengen.

But I agree that there is a huge situation regarding how the Irish border can be both there and not there regarding people and goods.
posted by 92_elements at 3:48 AM on November 10


I know Ireland's not in Schengen (because of NI!); it's that the staunchly anti-Schengen UK is proposing a Schengen-like/lite solution for NI that tickles me. Only you can't do a Schengen unless all parties are in the same free trade/free movement club. Which the UK gov has chosen to reject.

To say this hasn't been thought through is a bit like saying the dinosaurs didn't quite consider the consequences when they built that massive asteroid attracting machine for fireworks night.
posted by Devonian at 4:19 AM on November 10 [3 favorites]


Ah understood.

The dinosaurs taking back control just about sums the whole thing up.
posted by 92_elements at 4:30 AM on November 10 [2 favorites]


The hypothetical of what the Euro would've been like for the UK is not as simple as "would've been a disaster", because it's something the UK, especially with Gordon Brown, would've made a huge difference to. France and Germany would've been a lot more circumspect about breaching the government deficit regulations, for starters, which would've put Greece under more pressure to control spending earlier, and possibly reduced the level of bailouts needed.

Possibly, anyway. But the Euro would've been a much more multilateral affair than the servant to the needs of France & Germany that it became. Incidentally, the £ has served South Yorkshire just as well as the €'s served Greece over the past decade.
posted by ambrosen at 4:34 AM on November 10 [1 favorite]


> but now I think I was worrying about the wrong thing. It’s not authoritarian nationalism that the May government has successfully normalised. It’s total fucking incompetence.
No. Your worries weren't about the wrong thing.

The Brexitocracy (lately more like Brexitomancy) and Trump are just foreshadows of what is to come.

History will repeat first time as tragedy, then as farce, and then the unnamable. Words will fail to describe what will come next.

Fear it.
posted by runcifex at 4:35 AM on November 10 [2 favorites]


Four EU countries use the BS1363 plug, so the EU's not going to be difficult about that, thankfully. Or regrettably. I am pretty ambivalent about it.
posted by ambrosen at 4:36 AM on November 10


The UK plug is fine, except that it's dramatically over-engineered and has an impractically large footprint (and the 90 degree mounting means that it sits on the floor pins up, ready to pounce on the unsuspecting walker). The EU plug is better in some ways (smaller footprint, doesn't want to destroy your feet) but worse in others (inline mounting means greater stick-out from de wall, remarkably common to see them mounted in the 'face' configuration, so that a dropped paperclip or screwdriver could sit across the live and neutral pins rather than hitting the earth and sliding off, but that last point isn't inherent to the plug and mounting a UK plug upside down would achieve the same needless danger). I'm not that fussed about which plug we use, but I am keen on standardising because it's bloody stupid not to. Schengen and the Euro though, bring them on, the sooner the better.
posted by Dysk at 4:47 AM on November 10


British plugs are best plugs. Admit no substitutes.
posted by pharm at 4:53 AM on November 10 [3 favorites]


The hypothetical of what the Euro would've been like for the UK is not as simple as "would've been a disaster", because it's something the UK, especially with Gordon Brown, would've made a huge difference to.

This has been the theme of the UK's approach to EU membership, of which Brexit is the mutant but recognisable pathological end case. In Europe but not of it - refusal (at least publically) to engage fully with the process of developing the Union, then complaining that the EU doesn't treat us fairly. I understand that in areas not seen as difficult domestically, the UK has been a very useful and progressive member, but never at the expense of wedge issues for home politicking.

The Euro - well, I am so not qualified to pontificate on the hypotheticals. But if the UK political class had had the cojones to cast EU membership as a chance to increase UK influence and amplify our economic and political powers, so many things would be different - and for the better.

Then again, it's hard to see how we could do worse than we are right now in influence, economic and political.
posted by Devonian at 5:40 AM on November 10 [1 favorite]


One line in that article prompted me to do some sums that I hadn't before...

Damn, I got my figures wrong. Europe is 743.1 million, but the EU is 510.1m (2016). So the final calculations should be:

3.2m / 446.76m = 0.72% of EU27 citizens live in the UK.

0.9m / 63.34m = 1.42% of UK citizens live in the EU27.

UK citizens are therefore currently making twice as much use of freedom of movement to live in the rest of the EU as EU27 citizens are to live in the UK.
posted by rory at 5:41 AM on November 10 [2 favorites]


From what I understand, the main problem with Britain adopting European power plugs is that the wiring code in Britain is a lot less stringent, and cuts costs by specifying a ring main (i.e., one ring of copper wiring for the entire building) rather than separate branches, which is why plugs need to have fuses and such. Whether moving to lower-profile plugs without rewiring every building in Britain to continental European standards would be feasible, I don't know. (Presumably they could move the individual fuses to the sockets.)
posted by acb at 6:21 AM on November 10


British plugs are the Nokia 3310 of plugs.
posted by Artw at 6:35 AM on November 10 [2 favorites]




I'm not sure percentages are a good relative measure, Rory. Saying that UK citizens make 'twice as much use of freedom of movement' on the basis of relative percentages is likely to mislead, if unintentionally. Comparing a single country with the entire EU27 isn't a like-for-like comparison, anyway.

A much less ambiguous conclusion to draw is that UK citizens are twice as likely to use freedom of movement than the EU27 average.

Of course, that doesn't mean that on a country-vs-country basis (e.g. UK and Poland being a significant example) isn't quite strongly tilted in the other direction. Spain, Italy, Cyprus and France are the only examples I'm aware of where there are more UK citizens living than vice versa.
posted by pipeski at 6:40 AM on November 10


Comparing a single country with the entire EU27 isn't a like-for-like comparison, anyway.

It is, though, when the UK has set itself on the path of Brexit. We're setting ourselves up to compete with a bloc of 27 countries, not every other EU27 country individually; and we're judging what the UK stands to gain or lose by detaching from or remaining joined with that bloc.

A much less ambiguous conclusion to draw is that UK citizens are twice as likely to use freedom of movement than the EU27 average.

The "EU27 average" is a separate question, though. There will be movement between France and Germany, Germany and Italy, and so on; when considering any individual country's use of FOM, we'd have to look at each of them relative to the rest of the EU (i.e. minus them). But all those intra-EU27 movements are irrelevant to judging what the UK stands to lose by leaving. We make relatively more use of FOM to move to the EU27 bloc than their citizens use to move here. That's the whole point of pooling rights in this way, surely. It could well be that if we analysed them individually, we'd find that every one of the 28 EU countries makes more use of FOM to move to [rest of EU] than [rest of EU] does to move to them. We all win.

Spain, Italy, Cyprus and France are the only examples I'm aware of where there are more UK citizens living than vice versa.

Yes, but that's the point, isn't it? There are, relatively speaking, a lot of UK citizens - many of them retirees - in those countries. Focussing on the Poles who have come here when relatively fewer UK citizens go to Poland overlooks the most significant use of FOM by UK citizens.
posted by rory at 7:13 AM on November 10 [2 favorites]


It could well be that if we analysed them individually, we'd find that every one of the 28 EU countries makes more use of FOM to move to [rest of EU] than [rest of EU] does to move to them. We all win.

Damn, I really want to do this analysis now, but tracking down 28 sets of figures won't be trivial. I really would expect to find that we all benefit from FOM in this regard, but I wonder which country's citizens make the most use of it... I don't actually expect it's the UK.

Maybe some handy EU report already exists...
posted by rory at 7:28 AM on November 10 [1 favorite]


Rory, Eurostat data is really very good. Can't link you to it on my phone, but you'll get there if you Google. And yes, you'll have the migration data you need there.
posted by ambrosen at 9:41 AM on November 10 [1 favorite]


I enjoyed this subtle dig at Brexit politics by the BBC's Analysis podcast:

Primate Politics


Professor James Tilley finds out what we can learn about politics from the power struggles within chimpanzee groups and how our evolutionary past may affect the political decisions that we make today. Interviewing primatologists, evolutionary psychologists and political scientists, he explores the parallels between our political world and that of other primates. These include the way politicians form coalitions, how people choose leaders, loyalties to parties and even how, and when, we go to war. These similarities to other primates reflect our evolutionary heritage and the way in which stone-age human groups settled disputes internally and externally.

posted by srboisvert at 11:04 AM on November 10 [1 favorite]


Sure, just give us EU citizens optional UK citizenship on the same terms. Or in other words, not going to happen. The current government are doing everything they can to weasel out of giving even a meaningful resident status (as promised many times, including in a pointless non-binding parliamentary vote) to many of us who have been here for years, decades, or longer.
posted by Dysk at 12:41 PM on November 10 [1 favorite]


British wall sockets why they are the best

These are all reasonable-sounding arguments, but they're nothing without data to back them up. They say that the chunky, internally fused British plugs are safer than other plugs, but give no statistics. Does Britain have a significantly lower rate of electrocutions, house fires and other accidents caused by mains wiring than countries with other plugs? If so, point taken, and the rest of the world should, were it rational, switch to BS1363 or redesign its plugs with its lessons in mind. If not, then the statistics bear out that all that extra bulk is, in practice, for nothing.
posted by acb at 6:50 PM on November 10 [2 favorites]


It’s basically impossible to make such comparisons on a statistically meaningful way acb. You could compare national rates, but electrical installations vary widely - you couldn’t reasonably include them if you wanted to make a fair comparison, but how you even begin to eliminate the effects of the old 'knob + tube' wiring from US statistics for instance? Do the recorded statistics include the type of wiring responsible for the death or injury? Probably not. Then you’ve got the near impossibility of being sure that you’re comparing like with like: Are all deaths from electrical fires recorded as such for instance? (I doubt it, and the error rate almost certainly varies by country.)

I note in passing that modern US electrical standards (in the majority of states) have taken up many of the same safety features that have existed in the UK system since the 80s - grounded sockets are mandatory & the sockets are required to have live & neutral mechanically gated so that you can’t stick something like a paperclip into the live hole and get a shock.
posted by pharm at 1:53 AM on November 11 [1 favorite]


Both of those features being found in modern European plugs/sockets as well.
posted by Dysk at 2:05 AM on November 11 [1 favorite]


The other alternative, which is invading the south and forcibly annexing it to the UK again, has been tried before and didn't work out so well - even the misty-eyed imperialists of the ultras don't seem keen on that one. Or perhaps they just haven't thought of it yet.)
The idea of the Republic of Ireland joining the UK has certainly been floated. Because there is no opinion about Irish politics so stupid that somebody, somewhere, isn’t entertaining it.
posted by doop at 3:10 AM on November 11 [5 favorites]


I note in passing that modern US electrical standards (in the majority of states) have taken up many of the same safety features that have existed in the UK system since the 80s - grounded sockets are mandatory & the sockets are required to have live & neutral mechanically gated so that you can’t stick something like a paperclip into the live hole and get a shock.

European and Australian plugs have insulated prongs, and have had so for a while.

Nobody elsewhere has made their plugs as chunky as the UK's, though, or mandated that they all be individually fused. Perhaps the optimum is insulated prongs, but in a smaller form factor?
posted by acb at 7:39 AM on November 11 [1 favorite]


The other alternative, which is invading the south and forcibly annexing it to the UK again, has been tried before and didn't work out so well - even the misty-eyed imperialists of the ultras don't seem keen on that one. Or perhaps they just haven't thought of it yet.

Well, if Britain hits the accelerator towards the cliff edge (as seems increasingly likely), there will be a hard border in Ireland, and the end of the peace process. So, sooner or later, Ireland will have a sectarian civil war again.

Meanwhile, having gone over the cliff, Britain's economy will be in the shitter, and standards of living will decline precipitously. With Britain's precarious economy, luxuries such as working conditions, food standards and human rights will, regrettably*, have to be dispensed with. There will be a lot of disgruntled Britons, including many suddenly realising that they can't up sticks and seek their fortune in Germany or somewhere.

If the government of Britain is led by swivel-eyed nationalists like Farage or Johnson, or by pragmatists seeking to use nationalism as a distraction from empty stomachs and cold houses, a patriotic war will be welcome. And Ireland could provide a casus belli. Surreptitiously fund Protestant paramilitaries (who don't need to be disciplined or doctrinally reliable; in fact, the more unhinged, the better), get them to cause trouble across the border, and be lackadaisical and/or incompetent at responding to the Republic's complaints. After a while, when the Ulster equivalent of the Lord's Resistance Army has an armed compound festooned with the skulls of decapitated Catholics a few miles from the border, which is obvious to everyone except for the flat-footed Keystone Kops of the PSNI, a desperate Ireland will, at some point, launch a strike across the border, invading British territory. Boom: casus belli. Days later, cruise missiles pound Dublin as armoured columns roll south, and the Sun and the Daily Mail rally a public to forget about its hunger and support the troops against those Beastly Mick Terrorists. It's like the Falklands all over again.

* not at all regrettably
posted by acb at 7:52 AM on November 11


@acb: is this meant to be quite so hyperbolic? Nothing in that violent scenario is even remotely plausible, besides Britain's economy going down the shitter, which is a given. Cruise missiles pounding Dublin, really? Any thought of the ROI moving troops north of the border wasn't even taken seriously in 1969, when tensions were a lot higher, and I have no idea what Devonian is talking about re: invading south being 'tried before', unless they're talking about this genuinely comical incident by a crowd of drunks.

A flair up in sectarian violence in the North resulting from a Brexit's impact on the peace process is possible, maybe even probable, but you vastly overestimate how much both Britain and the ROI give a toss about NI.
posted by ocular shenanigans at 3:05 PM on November 11


I assume “tried before” referred to Cromwell.
posted by doop at 12:18 AM on November 12


I may have misinterpreted "invading the south and forcibly annexing it to the UK again, has been tried before" as referring to some 20th c. post-independance attempt on the part of the UK to annex the ROI. It's unlikely, to say the least.
posted by ocular shenanigans at 6:18 AM on November 12


When Britain's economy goes down the shitter, nationalist/authoritarian politics will return. They're a good way of pacifying a population a country cannot (or will not) placate with material standards of living: you can crush the very whisper of dissent for reasons of “national security”, and focus the majority of the population against the enemy within (i.e., anyone different).

Unless Brexit is very much rolled back, there will be a hard border in Ireland. There is no way around this, and handwaving about magic soft borders with some combination of self-regulation and Internet Of Things pixie-dust (has anybody put the British/Irish Virtual Soft Border on the blockchain yet?) is just bullshitting. When there is a hard border, the peace process disintegrates, and paramilitaries will rearm and remobilise (at least because you want to be ready before the other guys are). So Ireland becomes what our Uncle Vladimir in Moscow calls a “frozen conflict”: a festering wound in the sides of both Britain and Ireland.

Now bring the nationalist/authoritarian bent in Whitehall and the frozen conflict in Ireland together and you have a powder keg.
posted by acb at 6:46 AM on November 12


It's impossible to predict how bad it can get. But it's worth remembering that Yugoslavia was not especially strife-ridden or poor before the different national leaders (mainly Milosević) started stoking nationalism for their own benefit.
posted by ambrosen at 8:02 AM on November 12 [3 favorites]


This really feels speculative, theoretical and divorced from any genuine knowledge of NI or the ROI. As an Irish person, I am comfortable saying that goading a "strike across the border" with another western nation is deep in the realm of fantasy. There is absolutely no political will in the ROI for any conflict with the UK, and vice versa. This is Canadian Bacon level satire.

I don't have faith in border issues being managed competently by any UK government, swivel-eyed loons or not, but the way you're talking about the various republican and loyalist paramilitary groups vastly overestimates their reach outside of NI. Some violence in NI seems likely but considering how many of the influential actors are either fat and comfortable in something closer to parliamentary politics or have had a career shift into drugs and/or cross-border smuggling, it's not going to be more than a flair up of murders and kneecapping.

Pick the absolute dumbest, most inbred old Tory or UKIPer and I guarantee they'd have many more ways to stoke nationalism as distraction from their woes than actively launching cruise missiles across the Irish Sea. Even without the EU there's plenty of immigrants to scapegoat. Hell, they could carry on demonising the working class more generally, it's worked for nearly 30 years. I can only presume this is how US politics thread feel when the apocalyptic fan-fiction comes out.
posted by ocular shenanigans at 9:42 AM on November 12 [9 favorites]


Facebook admits Russian meddling in Brexit

Which ... given that and May's big speech about Russian meddling, is there an opening there for the UK to walk back Brexit, declaring the referendum hopelessly flawed? Sincerely asking you folks on the ground, if the big push to talk about Russian meddling in the referendum is a first step to un-Brexiting.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:50 AM on November 14 [2 favorites]


That would require Leave voters to publicly admit that they had been manipulated into voting for something against their own interests, which I don’t think is very likely.
posted by pharm at 12:39 PM on November 14 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I don't think so either for the same reasons. Plus, the astroturfing (although maybe not the Russian involvement directly) was talked about a fair bit around the referendum because it was so obvious in some places, and that conversation itself just made people hunker down more. (The Vote Leave bot types on Mumsnet were an absolute machine, posting round the clock - at least until they all vanished like Cinderella at midnight on voting day.)

Chances of a walkback on Brexit due to changed public opinion are I think low, although non-zero. The poll trackers on whether UK was right/wrong to vote to leave have been shifting steadily to "wrong" for a while now. If it does happen I'd guess it'll be a shift against the politicians specifically, and not for lying about whether Brexit was a good idea but for lying about whether those particular individuals could/would achieve it - the narrative will be "well of course Brexit would have been successful had it been done properly, but alas!" But, I have called almost every major UK political happening wrong since 2011 so I wouldn't put too much faith in my guesses myself!

Another scenario for public regret/blame is this one (from Theo Bertram, who was a special advisor for Blair and Brown): "The electorate will not forgive a failure to prepare." But by that point of course it'll be too late to walk it back.
posted by Catseye at 2:44 PM on November 14


If the government of Britain is led by swivel-eyed nationalists like Farage or Johnson, or by pragmatists seeking to use nationalism as a distraction from empty stomachs and cold houses, a patriotic war will be welcome. And Ireland could provide a casus belli.

And cause the dissolution of NATO and usher in troops, armor and aircraft from France, The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Austria, Italy, Spain, Poland, The Chech Republic, Slovakia and Greece camping out on the Emerald Isle to keep Les Rosbifs from getting handsy with a longtime EU member.

Like everything with these authoritarian pukes, the fantasy does not mesh with reality.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:00 PM on November 14


"Chances of a walkback on Brexit due to changed public opinion are I think low, although non-zero. "

I wasn't thinking so much due to changed public opinion, but that elites (whether May's government or whoever takes over when hers falls apart, which I think is soonish) say, "Given what we now know about Russian interference in the referendum, the process has been irreparably tainted, and we can no longer accept the referendum as a true expression of the country's will." Since referenda aren't really a British thing anyway, and Parliament has always had the final say, it wouldn't be as shocking/norm-breaking as if another country with a referendum tradition overturned one.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:22 PM on November 14


Brexit walkback is closer to 85%+ than non-zero at this point. The question is who wants to fall on the grenade - Labour and the Tories would really much rather the other side do the necessary thing.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:58 PM on November 14 [1 favorite]


Jacob Rees-Mogg appears to have found his "We send the EU £359 million a week - let's fund our NHS instead." bullshit Brexit claim.

The Guardian—Jacob Rees-Mogg: Hard Brexit Would Boost UK by £135bn Over Five Years "Pro-Brexit backbencher says dividend only possible with policy of free trade, reduced regulation and lower taxes"

(Maybe, if, say, hyperinflation hits sterling.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:25 PM on November 14


(Old, but...)

Dave, Boz and Lee’s Global Adventure from Flip Chart Fairy Tales.
posted by Grangousier at 5:44 AM on November 15


Grimsby voted overwhelmingly for Brexit, but has now noticed that leaving the customs union will comprehensively shaft it as a major fish processing port. So it now wants a special exemption from tariffs, becoming a free port with no import tariffs for stuff that's re-exported.

In other words - Brexiteers didn't understand or wilfully ignored the practical consequences of their decision, and now want special treatment to exclude them from those consequences.

The rest of us who also want exemption from the consequences by not doing the stupid thing can go hang.
posted by Devonian at 8:27 AM on November 16 [3 favorites]


> In other words - Brexiteers didn't understand or wilfully ignored the practical consequences of their decision, and now want special treatment to exclude them from those consequences.

I've seen this a lot and it's not true. 30% of Grimsby voted remain, just like 48% of the UK voted remain. At this stage, people at all levels are trying to do remedial damage repair, and soften the blow in any way they can, and the ones doing that are more likely to have voted Remain than Leave.

"Lol they voted out now they want an exemption" is just lazy reporting.
posted by Leon at 8:42 AM on November 16


Hardly lazy reporting to say that pro-Brexit people are trying to find magic solutions to problems they scoffed at beforehand, and as these fall away from their reality they're moving on to 'But WE shouldn't have to suffer, so please make sure WE keep the advantages of EU access without trade or tariff barriers". Remainers have always agreed with this, providing the 'WE' encompasses everyone.

From the Grimsby Telegraph today:

"Before the referendum, a former spokesman for the industry told me how “irrespective of the outcome, people will continue to eat cod and haddock and the French will still want scallops for their Coquilles St-Jacques”.

The impression was, whatever happened, there would still be demand for the industry’s produce, so it didn’t matter which way the Brexit vote fell."


The seafood processing industry is now lobbying for special exemption. That may not be the voice of all Grimsby, nor even the 70 percent Leave contingent, but it's certainly not being opposed. As the article also says, the local Euro-sceptic Tory MP is right behind the special exemption, and even has the chutzpah to claim it as a victory for the exciting range of new options that a post-Brexit UK will have. Apparently, maintaining the status quo is what he always wanted.
posted by Devonian at 1:22 PM on November 16 [4 favorites]


And I see David Davis has told the Europeans not to put politics before prosperity....

“In the face of those facts I know that no one would allow short term interests to risk those hard-earned gains. Because putting politics above prosperity is never a smart choice.”

O RLLY???
posted by Devonian at 2:20 PM on November 16 [4 favorites]


Because putting politics above prosperity is never a smart choice.

Cue entire country turning to look at the camera in the style of Martin Freeman in the Office.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 12:31 AM on November 17 [3 favorites]


Brexit: How the Netherlands is braced for 'no deal'.

The Dutch have a reputation for politeness, and I was expecting a reply laden with diplomatic euphemism. What I got was a surprisingly pithy denunciation of Britain's politicians, and their approach to the Brexit negotiations:

"Some of them are unrealistic, they are not rational… they are always saying the ball is in the EU's court. Well there's a great big ball in their court, but they don't want to see, because they are blind."

posted by Pendragon at 4:17 AM on November 17 [1 favorite]


The Dutch can indeed be polite, but they can also be caustically abrupt the moment their patience runs out. There's no rude as good as Dutch rude, and I admire and love that part of Low Country Culture.

Needless to say, I'm currently moving away from my preferred escape hatch of a second referendum and considering extending cautious support for the idea of a military coup, house arrest for the cabinet and installing the Giggleswick Boy Scouts as an emergency government.

(Note to GCHQ - this is a joke. However, if you're with me, you know where to find me.)
posted by Devonian at 5:18 AM on November 17 [5 favorites]


Two New Statesman articles on The Departing: The exodus of EU citizens will happen in 2018. EU citizens who have left will not return.

It won't only be EU27 citizens, either. Many UK and non-EU citizens will be weighing up their futures and considering contingency plans.

It's a strange atmosphere in Britain at the moment. All of the Christmas adverts have started appearing on telly, which ordinarily signal the start of a period where we don't have to worry about anything too politically serious happening. But that period is a critical one this year. The chances of an exit from Brexit before the end of 2017 diminish by the day, as everyone gets into a Christmassy, "let's hit the mince pies and mulled wine" mood; but if we're still in limbo by early 2018, hundreds of companies, and thousands of individuals, will start implementing their contingency plans, and things will get very bad very quickly, long before 29 March 2019.
posted by rory at 5:52 AM on November 17 [2 favorites]


I was definitely considering a self-deportation. It's been, uh, complex, though. Really can't see the upside to England any more.
posted by ambrosen at 6:29 AM on November 17 [1 favorite]


Boris Johnson has just said on Sky News that he hadn’t understood the Irish position until now.

We are SO fucked. We are so FUCKED. We ARE so fucked. WE are so fucked.
posted by Devonian at 1:24 PM on November 17 [4 favorites]


> Boris Johnson has just said on Sky News that he hadn’t understood the Irish position until now.

Words... I need more words!
posted by lucidium at 2:39 PM on November 17 [2 favorites]


He doesn't understand it even now, and even if he did he wouldn't respect it. It's just that it seems like a good idea to say that he understands it, because that might get him out of his latest scrape. It's not a question of right and wrong with people like that, or even success and failure (because he can always find a peasant to take the blame), it's just what he thinks he can get away with.

Yes. Fucked. We are.
posted by Grangousier at 3:02 PM on November 17 [2 favorites]


Good tick-tock by RTÉ on the evolution of the Irish position and how it's strengthened its relationship with the rest of the EU and raised the stakes for December.
posted by Diablevert at 4:13 AM on November 18 [2 favorites]


Boris Johnson has just said on Sky News that he hadn’t understood the Irish position until now.

Devonian, you don't have a link to that, do you? Not sure why I want to see it, but it seems that I'm a glutton for punishment.
posted by ambrosen at 5:46 PM on November 18


Shamefully, I cannot. It was reported in a tweet by a journo I trust, so I don't doubt he did say it, but I can't find a clip. And, to be honest, there are only so many seconds in the day that I can stand watching that blithering idiot - somewhere between e and π, as it happens.

This week should be fun, though. Not only are we in the two-week Dublin veto countdown, but somebody is spinning hard against Spreadsheet Phil and predicting a 'car crash budget'. I guess that's the ultras trying to cut the legs off the Remainers in the cabinet, because they too can see that there's a real danger that May will fold under the pressure of reality and the restive Commons; there's also hard spin against Davis, who 'is on the brink of resigning'.

Perhaps. It's ferrets in a sack, all the way down.
posted by Devonian at 5:55 AM on November 19 [1 favorite]


Here's a nice little tweetstorm from Peter Geoghegan about the sinister anti-Irish tendencies of Gove and JRM, and why they'd be only too happy to see the Good Friday Agreement go down and be replaced by hardline no-nonsense unionism.

Which would be delightful.
posted by Devonian at 6:41 AM on November 19


George Monbiot: Brexiters, beware: if the ties that bind us unravel, tyranny may soon follow.
It should be remembered that the person who is presently Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade; is the hard right Brexiter, disgraced former minister Liam Fox who was previously forced to resign his position as Defense secretary.
posted by adamvasco at 2:14 PM on November 19


Liam Byrne has an interesting Tweet stream about Legatum whose billionaire New Zealand backer Mr Chandler made a fortune in the chaos of Russia. Indeed he and his brother 'say they were the largest foreign portfolio investors in Russia.'
More about not so funny coincidental relationships: How Brexit Was Engineered By Foreign Billionaires To Bring About Economic Chaos – For Profit.
All this whilest the journalist Carole Cadwalladr is subject to having a video showing her beeing beaten up is circulatinn on social media "as a joke"
They’ve been calling me crazy for months and I thought this would be more of the same. But it wasn’t. The video was a clip from the film Airplane!, in which a “hysterical” woman is told to calm down and then hit, repeatedly, around the head. The woman – my face photoshopped in – was me. And, as the Russian national anthem played, a line of people queued up to take their turn. The last person in the line had a gun.
posted by adamvasco at 4:18 AM on November 20 [2 favorites]


David Davis said the EU medical and banking regulators wouldn't have to leave London. Today, Amsterdam announced it was getting the former, Paris the latter.

Brexit lies - get 'em while they're hot.
posted by Devonian at 11:55 AM on November 20 [3 favorites]


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