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Showing posts from March, 2016

The Rise of Stupid Politics

When people take a position in any argument, in principle they should base their views upon a platform of facts. Sometimes those facts might be interpreted in different ways, but as the old Guardian motto had it, "Comment is Free, but facts are sacred". This "Dialectic" has been the basis for rational argument for centuries.

Not any more.

We are seeing the rise of political comment and political practice that is not based on any kinds of facts at all. "Evidence based policy" is so rare that these days it has to be specially commented on. The fact is that, from Donald Trump to Katie Hopkins, emotion and not truth is now becoming the primary source of policy.

OK Katie Hopkins makes her money from being a pantomime villain, but in fact very few people get the joke. Her opinions, like those of Donald Trump, or most of the Brexiters in the UK are not based on facts- they are almost entirely made up, and border on the irrational. In a single speech that Donald Tru…

Justification by Faith

Next Sunday- Palm Sunday- Holy Week begins. It is a time when the long fast of Lent reaches its conclusion and the critical events of the Passion of Christ are remembered. 
Personally I find it a sombre and powerful time.
Yet for many in the West the idea of commemorating the crucifixion is absurd and possibly dangerous. For many, to ascribe power to the legendary judicial death of an obscure Jewish carpenter is to ignore the truths that we see all around us. Christ does not mention the things we know today, because he did not know them, therefore he must be merely a product of his time, and therefore not transcendent or divine. Some go further and suggest that Christians or indeed any other religious follower are self deluding or arrogant because they refuse to accept the truths of science.
Personally I do accept the truths of science. I accept the sceptical method. I am in awe of the majesty of the the vastness and stunning beauty we see in the heavens- and the science that helps us st…

Taking the long road

George Osborne's budget was an incoherent collection of gimmicks. It was not designed with any other purpose but the promotion of its author and a certain faux stability ahead of the EU referendum in three months time. 

So, easy to criticize, but the fact is that at the moment, no political party in the UK is prepared to suggest the kind of reforms that are needed. The political cycle is too short for any government to reap the reward of the kind of radical changes that are required, but not long enough for the same government to avoid the negative consequences that such radical reform will inevitably bring with it. So, successive governments merely tinker with the system, knowing that to do more carries greater risks and limited rewards in the short term.

The cost of tax administration in the UK continues to increase, and the ever more complicated system imposes greater fiscal drag and ever more distortion of the economy. Incomes remain heavily taxed, while land is barely taxed at …

Tory Troubles.

With 100 days or so left until the EU referendum, it is clear that David Cameron is getting a good air war. The "leave" campaign is a shambles, and through a mixture of incompetence (Boris Johnson) and his own ruthlessness (Michael Gove), the Prime Minister is seeing off his political enemies. The betting is all one way, and perhaps the PM will maintain his position as one of the luckier and more astute political figures of the past decade.

However, post referendum, the clouds are already beginning to darken for both the Prime Minister and his party. Mr. Cameron has already said he will stand down before the election due in 2020. When and how he does so will dictate not only the future fortunes of the Conservative Party, but even, quite possibly, its survival.

The problem is that the Tories remain split top-to-bottom on the subject of the EU. More than half of Conservative MPs and probably a far higher percentage of the party membership are strongly in the "leave" ca…