Goodbye, and Thanks for all the Fish 178

It is rather disconcerting to be watching the UK continue its disintegration in such spectacular fashion, from as far away as Ghana. I wonder whether events appear quite so ridiculous close up.

It surprises me that, in all the discussion and analysis of the withdrawal agreement, there has been so little analysis of the much more important conjoined Political Declaration, which is about the UK’s prospective relationships once the divorce is over. It particularly surprises me that so very little has been said about fish.

It is very unfortunate for British, and especially Scottish, fishermen that their political leaders are strange right wing bigots of a particularly repellent stamp. This blinds decent people to the truth that the fishing communities of the UK did suffer a dreadful historic injustice, on the same scale as Thatcher’s assault on the miners.

It is seldom remembered now that the UK’s initial entry to the European Communities was achieved against a background of traditional hostility from European states, especially France. Ted Heath’s government decided that the economic benefits of joining the Common Market were so huge, it was for the greater good to sacrifice the fishing community.

As a former Head of the FCO’s Maritime Section, I have an intimate and inside knowledge of the subject. The UK had always opposed the adoption in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea of the 200 mile exclusive economic zone for fisheries, on the grounds that as (then) a maritime nation, freedom of the seas was an overriding priority. Hence the (lost) cod war with Iceland. The UK had therefore never adopted an exclusive 200 mile fishing zone. European Community members states had adopted EEZ’s in 1970.

As part of the political deal behind the UK’s accession to the Common Market, the UK agreed it would adopt an EEZ (called at first an EFZ), and gift most of the fish within it to the fishing fleets of other member states. As the UK has by far the richest fishing waters in the EU (most of them Scottish), there is no doubt that the UK got a terrible deal on fisheries, and saw this as a worthwhile trade-off for other benefits. The fishermen were betrayed “for the greater good” in an bit of realpolitik. That is simply true. It is one of the factors behind the terrible decay in coastal communities.

The Common Fisheries Policy is often compared to the Common Agricultural Policy. In fact the two work in completely different ways. The Common Agricultural Policy is at heart a system of taxpayer subsidy to farmers to negate the perverse incentive that, due to demand inflexibility for staple crops, in years of shortage a farmer can make far more money than in a good harvest year, as prices shoot up so quickly.

The Common Fisheries Policy at base is totally different. It pools the physical resources of member states. If the CAP worked the same way, then British farmers would be entitled to take some of the grapes of Champagne or the oranges of Seville. And the UK gives vastly more than it gets in the CFP. Scotland above all.

So the fishermen may lack articulate, credible or even respectable leadership, but they are in fact perfectly correct. The political and media elite has never given them a fair hearing, because the perceived gains to everybody else of single market membership were so huge. Like many of the Brexit supporters, fishermen were dismissed as stupid old men, an opinion sadly many of their self-appointed “leaders” seemed to justify.

Which is why the Political Declaration is so very interesting. After several clauses on future UK access to the single market for goods and services, it then contains a very plain indication that in exchange for all this, the fishermen are yet again to be sacrificed to the wider interest.

Within the context of the overall economic partnership, establishment of a new fisheries agreement on, inter alia, access to waters and quota shares, to be in place in time to be used for determining fishing opportunities for the first year after the transition period.

Either alone, or even more so in the context of the whole document, there is no doubt at all what this means. It is therefore interesting, that conspicuous by their absence among the Tory resignations this morning, are David Mundell and Ruth Davidson, who had both advertised they would resign in precisely this case. But we already knew they are people of no honour.

The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea mandates that states must ensure sustainable levels of fishing within their EEZ. Once quotas to enforce the sustainable limit have been set, the state has an obligation to share by agreement any of the sustainable quota it lacks the capacity to fish itself. In fact, the EU has always set overall fishing levels too high, and the UK quota sharing ignored the EU capacity provision, but rather actively enforced a massive downsizing of the British fishing fleet. The Political Declaration not only includes continued quota sharing, but a continued EU role in enforcing levels – eg more over-fishing.


It seems to me a general election is the most probable outcome of the current turmoil. The Scottish Government should announce that, in the event of pro-independence MPs winning a majority of Westminster seats, Scotland will declare Independence and apply to the United Nations for recognition and admission. That sets out a fair democratic test before the electorate, and is analogous to the way that Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Croatia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic became independent, plus the overwhelming majority of states in Africa, Asia and South America – almost none of which was by referendum.

The unionists are utterly divided. The United Kingdom is teetering as never before. Westminster has shown its contempt for Scotland in its power grab of major devolved areas, its attempt to grant Northern Ireland superior status to Scotland with the EU, and its shunning of the Scottish Government in the entire Brexit process.

It is not the time for Nicola to try to salvage the UK from its own political collapse. It is time for us to end the United Kingdom. It will be a kindness. They can wish us goodbye, and thank us for all the fish.

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178 thoughts on “Goodbye, and Thanks for all the Fish

1 2
    • N_

      How about the SNP calls for a Scottish “extraordinary general election” in which it runs on a manifesto that contains a clear plan for independence, and which sets out for example what the aim will be regarding a possible single market with Rump Britain, a possible customs union, and of course the border? However you answer them, those are important questions. Then the SNP can leave office as the Scottish government if they lose.

  • Paul Greenwood

    Hence the (lost) cod war with Iceland.

    You don’t consider the threat to the NATO airbase at Keflavik to have resulted in any pressure on Anthony Crosland, Foreign Secretary to betray his Constituents in Grimsby ? The USA would never resort to such tactics ? Iceland’s decision to end diplomatic relations with UK in 1976 and threat to NATO overview of GIUK Gap played no role in UK capitulation ?

  • remember kronstadt

    I don’t see Brexit having any advantage for Scottish independence much as there is a case for it. Evidenced by the panic over the Ulster loyalist influence and the call to keep the ‘union’ together at any cost. The aristocrats look to have outbid the corporates.

  • Dungroanin

    Just to be a tad mischevious it is possible for the UK carry on but the City to leave it in the unilateral manner instead!

      • Dungroanin

        ‘As of 2018, only a handful of sovereign city-states exist, with some disagreement as to which are city-states. A great deal of consensus exists that the term properly applies currently to Singapore, Monaco, and Vatican City. City states are also sometimes called micro-states which however also includes other configurations of very small countries.

        And surprisingly a few more could be considered so:
        “A number of other small states share similar characteristics, and therefore are sometimes also cited as modern city-states—namely, Qatar,[2][3] Brunei,[4] Kuwait,[4][2][5] Bahrain,[4][2] and Malta,[6][7][8][9] which each have an urban center comprising a significant proportion of the population, though all have several distinct settlements and a designated or de facto capital city. Occasionally, other small states with high population densities, such as San Marino, are also cited,[4][10][11] despite lacking a large urban centre characteristic of traditional city-states.
        Several non-sovereign cities enjoy a high degree of autonomy, and are sometimes considered city-states. Hong Kong and Macau, along with independent members of the United Arab Emirates, most notably Dubai and Abu Dhabi, are often cited as such.[4][10][12]”

    • Mighty Drunken

      If there is another referendum I hope one of the options is to remain in the EU and exit from London, especially Westminster. 🙂

      • N_

        Far more power is in the City of London than in the City of Westminster. OK well admittedly there are some hedge funds in St James’s.

        • PERMINDEX

          And the City of London is exactly whom May is working for. She’s taking her orders directly from the Cabinet within the Cabinet (“Pearl Office”). As much as I like Craig, he clearly has some really big blind-spots. The minute Mike Veal of Leciestershire Police came out and said that Ted Heath, had he still been alive, would have been interviewed under caution for serious paedophile offenses, Andy Parker of Mi5 should have been hauled into Westminster and asked to explain what the hell his organization has been doing, and exactly whom they’ve been working for. What we’re witnessing right now is the direct result of decades of HIGH TREASON.

          Ted Heath sacrificed more than just the fishermen, Craig.

          • sentinel

            Heath had a 24-hour police guard, so how could he have committed the alleged offences?

            The police did interview Field Marshal Brammell, but ended up having to make a public apology and paying him substantial damages.

      • Paul Greenwood

        City of London is not a sovereign state. It is an Administrative District with Corporate Voters.

        Hong Kong has never been a sovereign state either. You clearly do not understand the words “sovereign” and “state” when used together

  • Peter Wilson

    All fact; no bluster – well done, Craig.
    More to the point, a General Election in which the SNP clearly states that a majority of MPs elected in Scotland from an independence/self-determination position will be a mandate to immediately declare independence. Thre will never be better opportunity and the party leadership has been pussy-footing around this for far too long: there was, and is, zero chance of Westminster (in whatever state it is in) allowing another independence referendum in Scotland, the last one being too close to call and another one more difficult to rig. I am genuinely fearful that the SNP leadership will, in continuing to procrastinate, be like the national football team, and choose to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

    • Muscleguy

      And if a timely GE is not in the offing since the SNP hold a supermajority of the seats still all the SNP members could simply resign their seats for by-elections and challenge the Unionists to do the same.

      If WM refuses to let us organise such we just do it anyway, though ScotGov may have to compel Unionist controlled local govt to run them. We may also have to call on Police Scotland to accompany all ballot boxes to the counting stations with full, uninterrupted video recording of the trip. Such should not be impossible to arrange. Won’t absolutely rule out MI5 special tricks but it should limit their scope and range.

  • Republicofscotland

    FMQ’s tiday centred around the debacle of Brexit, the FM let rip on the Tories and the despicable Mundell and Davidson, who now possess no credibility whatsoever.

    The Green’s Patrick Harvey, asked the FM for a clear date on the indyref, as the Greens are eagsr to get out there to convince and convert to the indy cause. The FM replied gjve it a few weeks to see how Brexit pans out.

    • Muscleguy

      How many weeks do we need, we have the exit deal, Sturgeon has declared it violates all our red lines. What else has to happen? I’m increasingly thinking she wants a snap referendum which I think would be a mistake. Call it now and let us campaign for it. Hold it in late March, so our EU membership can be set in aspic whilst we organise our independence.

      I would predict the UK govt would react by abolishing Brexit. But too late, we will have chosen. The nature of the border will then the only issue.

  • Mist001

    Your final paragraph is EXACTLY correct and indeed, is exactly what should happen, but I personally doubt that it will because as I’ve posted here before, I don’t believe the current leadership of the SNP has any real appetite for independence. In fact, George Galloway a few weeks ago posted what he claimed was a very strong rumour doing the rounds at Westminster that Nicola Sturgeon and Theresa May had struck a deal that in return for the SNP abstaining on the Brexit vote, they would then be granted the right to hold a second independence referendum. I believe that agreement, should it exist, will be transformed into Devo Max which is exactly what the SNP are looking for.

    However, If that rumour turns out to be true and the SNP lose a second referendum, then that’s basically independence off the table for good. Again, as I’ve posted here before, the only real solution for Scotland is some kind of coup or ousting of the current SNP leadership and UDI.

    • Jo1

      Sturgeon has already confirmed the SNP will oppose the Brexit deal!

      As for your final paragraph, are you for real??? You’re saying Indyref2 could be lost so better a coup of the current SNP leadership and then a UDI? VERY democratic. Not! No wonder rumours abound about the YES side having a few absolute lunatics.

  • Loony

    So it seems to be accepted that the EU has harmed both the British fishing industry and the sustainability of fishing in general. Sadly their political leaders are “strange right wing bigots of a particularly repellent stamp”

    Maybe then a long time ago you should have listened to people like Michael Foot, Tony Benn, Peter Shore and Barbara Castle. Unless of course they have now been re-branded as “right wing bigots”

    In 1975 the only political parties with an official policy to leave the then EEC were the DUP, The Communist Party of Great Britain, Plaid Cymru, The Ulster Unionist Party, The National Front, and the SNP.

    How strange that the SNP never ever explain the exact events or legislative changes that have occurred in order for them to be entirely consistent in transiting from a snarling contempt for the EEC into a compliant lapdog for the EU. Unless of course the argument is that in 1975 the SNP was itself run by “strange right wing bigots of a particularly repellent stamp”

    You would have thought that anyone looking to engineer Scottish independence under cover a more general failure to respect democracy and actually leave the EU would address this point. But I guess when you hold the average person in dripping contempt there is no need to concern yourself with what such people may or may not think.

    • Tom Welsh


      “So it seems to be accepted that the EU has harmed both the British fishing industry and the sustainability of fishing in general”.

      Funny that – when the EU was supposed to boost everyone’s prosperity to the skies.

  • Paul

    I find myself wondering why the Conservatives would call a General Election, rather than simply replacing May as Prime Minister.

    They’re not exactly in a strong position at the moment.

    • Paul

      Never Mind. I just remembered the DUP will probably end their coalition, leaving the Tories in a minority.

    • Dungroanin

      The soft coup of a centrist coalition is being paved, as a means of depriving the people of a general election. Using some emergency powers as an excuse. Blair was on the stump for it a few days ago.

    • Paul Greenwood

      They might not call a General Election but as a party they lack a majority to pass Money Bills

      • Muscleguy

        You seem to have forgotten that the SNP in 2007 and indeed right now have run perfectly successful administrations in just such a scenario. There are also many examples from around the world of minority govt being successful. I can foresee for eg Sanchez in Spain trying it when the Catalan parties withdraw their support.

        • Paul Greenwood

          SNP has never raised taxes in Scotland. It is a Subsidy Administration given Spending Money by London. It cannot negotiate treaties but London must. Holyrood is simple a Greater London Council with half the population

  • Deb O'Nair

    Watching Theresa May flounder (yes) at the HoC whilst trying to dish up a bucket-o-shite, which no one has an appetite for, was pure theatre of the absurd. I have never seen a PM paint themselves into a corner in such a comprehensive way, have half the cabinet walkout and then just carry on with their head in the sand. Is she really that detached from reality? This could be the worst case of being in denial in UK political history, let’s hope she seeks some professional mental health care before she has a complete collapse.

    • Paul Greenwood

      Clearly the woman has spent too long brooding in dark rooms and finds the bright lights of daytime accountability rather problematic. She is clearly possessed of a third-rate mind t think this deceitful charade could be anything other than damnation. It may be a System Shock to leave the EU without a paper plan but what May has concocted could well lead to armed conflict to escape a treaty of servitude without right of recission.

      • Geoffrey

        I was unexpectedly impressed by her performance in this morning. I watched her for several hours patiently and without bluster answer question after question without apparent evasion and in some cases with considerable detail.
        After the reports I had read about this disastrous deal,I had expected her to be evasive and prickly.
        I changed my mind, I wish her well, and I now hope with a few alterations she manages to get it through parliament.

        • Paul Greenwood

          I am inclined to view the mental state of politicians cornered with scepticism. The more one has experience of sociopathy and mendacity and autism and other factors from the DSM IV Catalogue the more one is inclined to be wary of appearances as opposed to deeds. You might inquire as to her medication

  • Martin

    Where’s the flipping logic?
    We want to be ruled (and overruled) by Brussels, NOT London, that’s Independence folks!
    A body unelected, unaccountable and corrupt to the core, the accounts have never been signed off.
    Wake up!

    • Radar O’Reilly

      The auditors signed the accounts this year, with an aside that previous accounts were unsigned due mainly member-state myriad money mysteries. I detected a whiff of British-exit related documentation about it!

      • Paul Greenwood

        Really could not care about Auditors – Carrillion was audited and everyone was happy. No doubt Patisserie Valerie was audited even though Luke Johnson clearly did not scrutinise his Finance Director properly…..Enron was audited…..WorldCom was audited……..

    • Muscleguy

      We have to cede about an order of magnitude less sovereignty to the EU than we do the Westminster.

      I must also have dreamt several EU Parliamentary elections and after Independence we will qualify for more MEPs than we get now. So we will have more democratic input. Not to mention Scottish ministers at meetings instead of ignorant SE-centric WM placemen.

      The accounts thing has also been debunked, patiently, by the EU so many times that you are still spouting it shows you to be an ignorant Brexiter or perhaps a propagandist. Which is it?

      • Martin

        ? Tusk and Junker voted in when?
        MEPs have little powers, but all in employ at Brussels have fabulous pensions, free education for kids up toTWENTY-FIVE years old.
        Nice work if you can get it.

  • remember kronstadt

    Golden days for the biddable DUP. No work at Stormont, casual appearances at westminster and telly exposure and gobs stuffed with gold while ‘representing’ remainers. Life is good but is suprect never such glory again..

  • Big Jock

    I totally agree Craig.

    However I can’t see Nicola doing that. She had an opportunity in 2017. Never even crossed her mind!

    • Jo1

      Perhaps she knows there still isn’t the sort of support required. To make a UDI would be a massive risk in my view. One indyref was lost. Only a second indyref can overrule the first one. UDI isn’t an option. Remember the SNP won power at Holyrood because of its policies. Domestic affairs are of vital importance …prescription charges, tuition fees, keeping our water in public hands. The SNP won support across the board for those policies.

      I do not believe the appropriate level of support for independence exists to justify what Craig suggests. I think his suggestion is very foolish indeed. And I say this as someone who voted yes in 2014.

    • Rob Royston

      It never crossed her mind, but 13.1% of Scottish voters, 50% of whom had elected 56 SNP MP’s in 2015 were dismayed enough to vote for other parties. The people want Independence but they will not vote for a party led by careerists who are scared to upset the apple cart.

  • Loony

    Oddly pro EU figures in the UK seem far more interested in the UK than in Europe. This seemingly has allowed them not to notice the moves being put on the EU by Claudio Borghi.

    For those so interested in the EU it is probably necessary to point out: (i) that Borghi is the chief economic adviser to Matteo Salvini, (ii) Salvini is the head of the Italian political party The League. (iii) The League is part of the governing coalition in Italy and (iv) Italy is a member of both the EU and the Eurozone.

    Borghi has just made clear that if, at the next elections, The League obtains a majority then Italy will leave the Eurozone.

    Seems that Italy too may also be full of “strange right wing bigots of a particularly repellent stamp” Presumably pro EU figures feel that domestic right wing bigots need reinforcing with Italian right wing bigots.

    No doubt the response of the EU will be to inflict on Italy the same destruction inflicted on Greece. Just think if the UK stays in the EU then British liberals can go on holiday to marvel at the economic destitution of starving Italians, whilst sniggering at the deserved fate of people who had the temerity to raise their voices against the munificent EU.

    • Dungroanin

      There is no chance that the League will get a majority. Their voters are geographically localised.

      • Loony

        Given their history they are bound to be less popular in the south – but they are making inroads.

        I agree that it is a long shot – but will the EU play the odds or will they launch a preemptive shock and awe assault on Italians?

        Ideally I would hope that in the UK remain supporters would be coming forward to explain how best to destroy Italy and to explain why Italy deserves to be destroyed.

      • Republicofscotland

        Yeah its a nice little racket they’ve got going.

        “Scotland is the UK’s largest fishing nation, with two-thirds of all quota. The concentration of ownership here is most acute, with the five biggest players holding 45 per cent of the Scottish quota once stakes and shares in other firms are taken into account.”

        If I recall correctly the Peterhead registered fishing vessel involved in the skirmish with French fisherman recently, was fined on a couple occasions over the Bkackfish scandals.

        • Paul Greenwood

          I wonder who decided to permit trading of quota permits and which countries did not ? Still they should be subject to expiration like the fish. You cannot grant “licences” in perpetuity for natural resources. They should require physical presence and processing of fish caught at facilities in UK. I suppose the Norwegians will find BreXit inconvenient when their farmed salmon in Scotland cannot go on its truck ride to Poland and Lithuania for slicing and packaging !

          • MJ

            “I wonder who decided to permit trading of quota permits”

            I believe Mrs Thatcher was instrumental in getting that one through.

      • Dungroanin

        That one ship at the approaches to the channel has annihalated the mackerel and bass inshore fishing along the coast according to my leisure fishing boat captain friend.

        Along with all the other species they hoover up no doubt.

        It has to be stopped.

        • Paul Greenwood

          I understand they are producing fishmeal for chickens from this valuable human food stock

  • Walter Cairns

    The problem with the Common Fisheries Policy is that its enforcement is almost exclusively in the hands of the national authorities. The Commission simply lacks the resources to police it. Labour MP Austin Mitchell and his wife Linda made a documentary about this – more particularly about fishing practices in Holland. They saw that the quota system was being blatantly infringed, but when they complained about this to the harbourmaster, the latter simply said: “I trust the fishermen – and if I didn’t, I’d end up head first in the dock”. Even the European Commission itself has admitted that Britain is one of the few member states actually to comply with CFP rules.

    • Paul Greenwood

      The UK simply lacks the resources to police it…..

      now if the fish were in Libya or Syria or Ukraine or Iran ….well the UK would have the military all over the place

      • Tom Welsh


        If the fish were in some suitably remote country populated by black or brown people, the UK would simply bomb them to hell in the usual way.

        The trouble is that would be felt tactless in the case of our EU partners and friends.

        • Paul Greenwood

          Though effectively with EU buying fishing rights from West African countries and impoverishing the local fisherman who trudge up to Libya and Morocco for the bright lights of Europe…..noone is concerned. even Craig down in Ghana fails to comment

  • Kempe

    ” Ted Heath’s government decided that the economic benefits of joining the Common Market were so huge, it was for the greater good to sacrifice the fishing community. ”

    One way of looking at it. That the EEC wouldn’t budge on the issue because of the financial advantages their member states would gain from access to British waters is another. Either way it doesn’t justify why Heath kept the matter secret, even parliament weren’t informed.

    • Paul Greenwood

      He gave secret instructions to Geoffrey Rippon.

      there was NO Fisheries policy before Pompidou agreed to let Uk join…..and France immediately developed a Fisheries Policy in I think 6 days

      • Old Mark

        there was NO Fisheries policy before Pompidou agreed to let Uk join

        Exactement. The Norweigians sensibly gave their electorate a referendum on whether to accept the terms that Heath pressed Parliament to accept. They saw they were being trussed up like a chicken, said No, and have carved out for themselves the best possible relationship with the EU- in the single market/EEA,but outside of the Customs Union (like fellow EFTA member Iceland).

        • Blunderbuss

          @Old Mark 17:21

          If Norway is outside the customs union, how come it has an open border with Sweden? Why does the UK have to be in the customs union to keep an open border with the Irish Republic?

          • Old Mark

            Because the Maybot at the outset said she opposed the Norway/EFTA/remain in single market option.

            Her Chequers hodge podge involved single market access for goods only rather than full single market membership via EEA/EFTA; this allowed the EU to ramp up the pressure on the PM and her Brexit team to concede some sort of of customs union to avoid a ‘hard border’ in Ireland, to compensate for that fact that the UK will be outside, but the RoI remains in, the single market.

            Both Norway and Sweden are also in Schengen- a rather more precisely defined pooling of sovereignty than the Common Travel Area, which Eurocrats regard as a bit on an anachrononistic joke when compared to the Schengen accords.

  • iain

    It’s unlikely there would be any significant economic pain for Scotland if this agreement was instituted. The whole of the UK would still be part of the customs union for at least another five years and in fact the document has ’20XX’ as the date at which the issue has to be resolved. In other words .. 2099, by which time there is unlikely to even be an EU.
    The optimum moment to put the case for independence was at the height of the Osborne austerity regime in 2014.

    • Paul Greenwood

      In other words .. 2099, by which time there is unlikely to even be an EU.

      However, the UK would be bound to the legal successor organisation by treaty which might be francogermania

      • Ingwe

        At the rate Trump is going, supported by us, not sure there will be mankind never mind the E.U. or its legal successor in 2099!

  • Tom Welsh

    “The Scottish Government should announce that, in the event of pro-independence MPs winning a majority of Westminster seats, Scotland will declare Independence and apply to the United Nations for recognition and admission”.

    So Scotland could declare independence without a referendum – in fact, in defiance of a recent referendum in which citizens decided to remain part of the UK.

    Whereas, when the citizens of Crimea held a referendum in which some 90% chose to rejoin Russia, Western governments including that of the UK denounced it as an illegal annexation.

    One criterion for the British, then – or at least the Scots – and quite another for the “lesser breeds without the law”.

    • Jo1

      I agree.

      The British version of what took place in Ukraine contradicts all we actually witnessed happening there.

    • Paul Greenwood

      Whereas, when the citizens of Crimea held a referendum in which some 90% chose to rejoin Russia, Western governments including that of the UK denounced it as an illegal annexation.

      Yet the Referendum in Saarland 1955 was acceptable though Germany did not have any referendum for the Anschluss with GDR in 1990; and of course Hong Kong had no referendum because of Treaty signed by Opium-traders in 19th Century.

      Cuba did not get a referendum on ceding Guantanamo to USA in perpetuity for $2000 pa rent

      Diego Garcia did not get a referendum

      Inhabitants of Okinawa did not get a referendum

  • nevermind

    Most probable putcpme amongst this lot of power usurping Torys will be a positioning around a new leader, they dont seem to eant to hand over the cudgel of ill economic health for all to anyone.

    St. Terroresa has embarked on a visit to Clarence House, right next to the Palace, how handy is that.

    And jacobrichsnob has been the flavour of the day, withe media buzzing around him like bees without a queen.

      • Jo1

        “Anything from Ruthie?”

        Shhhh, the baby’s sleeping! (I bet Ruthie’s glad she’s on maternity leave.)

      • BrianFujisan

        Ruthie, and Fluffy Mundel only two days ago said they would resign on this Brexit deal.
        Now they are backing the PM.. no surprises there.

  • N_

    Theresa May is getting slow-roasted at the stake. Unpleasant to watch.

    So far no hack at the press conference has asked her whether she’ll stay in office if the Commons votes against the proposed agreement.

  • Sharp Ears

    Should be good for a laugh. 9pm tonight on BBC2.

    Keeping Power and Influence
    Inside the Foreign Office
    Series 1 Episode 1 of 3

    Keeping power and influence is the priority task of Sir Simon Macdonald, the permanent secretary – the chief civil servant – in a Foreign Office headed, for the moment, by foreign secretary Boris Johnson. Politicians may come and go, but civil servants remain. We follow the diplomats as they wrestle with a series of crises and challenges.

    At the United Nations in New York, as world leaders gather for the special General Assembly week, the UK team juggles tasks from the delicate matter of who sits where – and the protocol status of Ivanka Trump – at the prime minister’s session on modern slavery; to briefing Boris on what to say to his Russian opposite number Sergei Lavrov, as Russia continues to support the Assad regime in bombing Syria.

    At the UK Mission to the UN, this special week is coordinated by Harriet O’Brien and Senay Bulbul. They give Waldman a spirited, secret, night-time guided tour of the Security Council. Neither diplomat fits the mould of the traditional British stereotype: Senay is the daughter of Turkish immigrants, and as Harriet says, ‘I left state school at 16 – if you’d told my 16-year-old self that I’d be a diplomat based in New York, I’d have just… died!’

    Their colleague, diplomat-lawyer Ahila Sornarajah, is trying to get all 15 members of the Security Council to agree to a UK-proposed resolution to enable Daesh (Islamic State) fighters to be prosecuted anywhere in the world. A distinct touch of glamour is brought to the proceedings as human rights lawyer Amal Clooney works with Ahila and the British team. Their boss is UK ambassador to the UN Matthew Rycroft. He has to host all the British ministers visiting this week – including the foreign secretary and the prime minister – as well as dealing with unpredicted events around the world. When the Rohinga refugee crisis suddenly erupts in Burma, sensitive, private diplomacy is needed to try to get the Burmese government to listen to the world’s outrage. He rapidly organises a discrete lunch meeting with all the major players – including Nikki Haley of the US, the Russians, the Chinese and foreign ministers from Burma’s neighbours – but persuading the Burmese themselves to turn up needs extra delicate diplomacy. As the ministers arrive in the next room, Boris Johnson is given a quick no-holds-barred briefing by UK officials on how to deal with the Burmese delegation.
    15 November 2018
    59 minutes

  • Sharp Ears

    Overfishing off West African countries too.

    West Africa’s Fish Famine

    Overfishing is blighting traditional livelihoods along the coast of Senegal. Fish catches are collapsing there after years of overfishing, mainly by foreign trawlers, some of whom are fishing illegally. Meanwhile, Senegal’s traditional fishermen have been evicted from the rich waters of neighbouring Mauritania, leading to a vicious circle of rapidly falling catches, economic desperation and yet more overfishing. Some have continued crossing the border, provoking an armed response from Mauritania’s coastguard. Senegal’s main traditional fishing port St Louis has seen anti-Mauritanian violence break out as a result.

    Alfonso Daniels travels to St Louis to find a community in despair, with some young men now seeing no choice but to join the exodus of migrants trying to reach Europe. He also gains rare access to Mauritania – usually off-limits to foreign journalists – and discovers an insatiable onshore fish processing industry now being encouraged across the region, and consuming catches on a vast scale. Much of the industry is fed by big foreign trawlers, and the end product, known as fishmeal, exported to wealthier countries to feed livestock and aquaculture.

    At the centre of this story is the humble sardinella, a small oily fish which migrates up and down the West African coast, breeding and supporting other species as it moves across borders. With bigger and more nutritious fish routinely exported, sardinella is a staple for several West African countries whose people cannot afford meat. It is also the stock that fishmeal factories typically utilise. Its increasing scarcity threatens millions with malnutrition. As fish stocks collapse and powerful interests vie for those that remain, ordinary Africans are paying the price.

    Producer: Michael Gallagher

    (Photo: Artisanal fishermen unload their catch on the beach at Nouadhibou, Mauritania’s only fishing port. Credit: BBC)
    4 November 2018

    On the BBC World Service. There is a button on the link to listen. 26 mins.

  • Adrian Parsons

    Nationalism: the ‘gift’ that (like religion) just keeps on giving. Having said that, as a Commie bar-steward, I fully support the ‘economic nationalism’ represented by Brexit and Trump, despite the contradictory nature of the class fractions supporting both and their ‘sticking plaster’ nature.

    Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, it is the manual working class whose conditions of existence have been constantly threatened by mechanisation, unlike the intellectual working class (often referred to erroneously as the “middle” class, as if there were some mythical ‘third way/position’ to survive between selling one’s labour-power or living off surplus value) whose numbers have swelled and whose livelihoods are only just starting to be threatened by IT and AI.

    And it is the latter that represents the existential threat to the Capitalist mode of production tout court, not just to both the manual and intellectual classes for, as all good Marxists know, machines/robots cannot produce surplus value. So, while ‘economic nationalism’ may briefly hold back the combined ravages of both neo-liberalism and AI, as a long-term strategy it is as much use as rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.

    • SA

      Let me get this clear: you support the ‘rearranging of deckchairs on the Titanic’? And for what purpose exactly?
      You also state that robots don’t produce added value, what do you mean? The essence of Marxism is that the capitalists own the means of production , let’s say factories, and they pay the workers to operate the machinery so that the end product has more value than the sum of the expenditure, which is the surplus value that is a large element of the profits. Robots do produce added value in that they replace or reduce the part contributed by the workers to these profits.
      I think that AI and robotics have therefore bypassed some of the principles of Marxism as now the owners of the means of production get more and more concentrated in fewer hands and the working class becomes less needed for the added value.
      If this trend continues without control there are two consequences : there will be massive social unrest amongs the majority deprived classes (the previous working and middle classes ) and the ever diminishing number of the rich ruling classes. The other possible refr consequence is that capitalism requires consumers to consume all the capitalist products in order to keep the profits flowing. The temporary ameluoration of both of these problems has been the creation of the welfare state beloved of the Social Democrats which thrived under a mixed economy model. The current combination of casino capitalism and replacement of the working class input for added value creation will lead to serious consequences unless either capitalists choose to start more stringent self regulating as an alternative to a more drastic population control.
      This is at the heart of the current crisis on the left. Those still clinging to the Social Democratic model have been mainly sidelined by the current model of capitalism with a massive onslaught on the welfare estate and the extensive privatisation of common goods.
      Meanwhile old style Marxism needs updating to take account of the fact that the power of the majority no longer lies in economic leaverage but in numbers but there has to be leadership and solidarity.

      • Adrian Parsons

        1. I support ‘economic nationalism’ in the present conjuncture not because it represents a long-term challenge to the Capitalist mode of production but because Communism is not on the agenda and the former at least protects the manual working class of each State from the transfer of jobs to low-wage areas. The intellectual working class are less affected by this tendency, although the advent of the Internet has made it possible for services to be accessed from lower-wage areas to some extent.

        2. Generalising massively, where human labour-power is only partly replaced by machines increases productivity and, therefore, profits. However, complete mechanisation which eliminates all human labour-power also eliminates the possibility of surplus value production, since human labour-power is the only commodity with two values, the ‘trick’ by which surplus value is produced.

        3. You are correct in stating that a crisis is coming, perhaps THE crisis of Capitalism. If one looks at the field of intellectual labour, this problem of ‘value’ first arose with the printing press and has continued into the present era every time it has been possible to reproduce an original ‘thing’ perfectly and on an unlimited scale (inventions themselves, drugs/medicines, music, computer software, etc.). In each case, an artificial means of creating value has been achieved through copyright, licencing, patenting, etc. legislation. However, the people buying/using these products were purchasing them with earnings from a part of the economy still working on real values, the part now threatened by AI.

        I can’t really do better than recommend a short pamphlet by the late Ernest Mandel:

  • Casual Observer

    Oh dear,

    Soros is a not so bad chap, and now championing the ‘Fishermen’.

    As far as the fishermen topic goes, I have little sympathy for what is now the rump of an industry that put a spoke in its own wheel by its inability to realise that fish stocks might be in any way a finite resource.

    As far as the English are concerned, any talk of fishermen inevitably conjures the image of Drake on Plymouth Hoe, which accounts for the Brexit crowd pulling them out of the hat whenever the journey to Britain reborn encounters stormy weather.

    I wonder though, do the Scots have this national nostalgia of a seagoing past ?

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