Tuesday 19th of November 2019

not playing the ball with brilliant hypocrisy, ugly hubris and dangerous sociopathy...

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has praised US President Donald Trump’s “go back” comment as a clever move that forced the Democratic party to embrace the ultra-progressive congresswomen of whom it had tried to steer clear.

Trump took heat from both sides of the aisle last month after telling the ‘Squad’ of four progressive congresswomen to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

Only one of the women, Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar, was born outside the US, while the other three – New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib and Massachusetts’ Ayanna Pressley – are US natives.

In an interview with the Times on Friday, Farage said that he disapproved of the remark the moment he heard it, only to later be stunned at how it ended up playing out in Trump's favor.

“You realize, 48 hours on, it was genius because what’s happened is the Democrats gather round the Squad, which allows him to say, ‘Oh look, the Squad are the center of the Democratic party,’” the firebrand Brexiteer said.

Farage, who was the first British politician to meet Trump after his victory at the 2016 election, said that while Trump’s ways are often inexplicable, he has proven to be “a remarkably effective operator.”

Trump’s remark has spawned accusations of racism and resulted in several Republicans breaking ranks and joining the Democratic outrage over the comment. The US House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning Trump’s words with Democrats insisting on formally labeling the tweet “racist.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who previously had been wary of the freshmen representatives pushing for a progressive agenda, was the leading force behind the condemnation, personally vouching for strong language to be included in the resolution.


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morphed into an ugly conservative party? always was...

Boris Johnson faced a grave threat to his control of parliament on Friday as he was warned that Conservative rebels could cross the House of Commons to foil Brexit in the aftermath of a byelection that reduced his working majority to just one MP.

Overnight, the Liberal Democrats’ Jane Dodds won a crucial byelection in Brecon and Radnorshire by a margin of 1,425, overturning the Tories’ previous majority of more than 8,000.

The result prompted immediate recriminations across the party. Conservative no-deal sceptics warned about the rapidly growing threat the government could face from the reinvigorated Lib Dems, while insiders blamed Theresa May’s administration for choosing a candidate who had already been ousted for expenses fraud.

One of the most prominent Conservative supporters of a second referendum told the Guardian on Friday he was actively considering defecting to the Lib Dems or sitting as an independent, a move that would leave Johnson at the helm of a minority government.

Dr Phillip Lee, the former justice minister, who first suggested he could quit the party in his own podcast, On the House, told the Guardian he was not alone among colleagues considering defecting or resigning if the government pursued no deal. “I have things to think about over the summer, but it is not just me,” he said.

“There are a number of colleagues who are spending the summer reflecting on what is the right way for them to confront this no-deal scenario. Of course, it is difficult for all of us because we joined the Conservative party, but it has morphed into something a lot different to what I joined in 1992.” says  Dr Phillip Lee...


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The conservative party (the Tories) has always been an ugly party. Remember the Thatcher years?... Oh you don't? You were too young, still in nappies, Dr Phillip Lee... And she did not have to deal with nutcases like Farage... only the loonies in her own party. So a few years later, Blair the sneak came in charge of "new" Labour, which was a mirror image of Ms Thatcher — with one redeeming feature about the Ireland problem. And worse than Thatcher who fought the Falkland War, he fought an illegal war against Iraq. He should be in prison.

meanwhile at europe-free UK

This July the British government revealed plans to introduce a 2% tax starting in April 2020 on the revenues of companies like Amazon, Google and Facebook, making money on UK users. In response, the Trump administration is reportedly ready to ditch an agreement that new Prime Minister Boris Johnson is relying on with a no-deal Brexit looming.

The White House is demanding the UK government drop the so-called digital services tax, threatening London will get no free trade deal, The Telegraph reports, citing its sources. According to the British outlet, “the threat has been communicated to the UK Government ‘at multiple levels’”. Apart from discreet warnings from the Trump administration, key Congressmen have publically signalled they could block negotiations about the free trade deal.

Top Democrat on the Senate finance committee Ron Wyden earlier told Bloomberg News he’d warned British officials that introducing the tax, set to be adopted this autumn, means no post-Brexit trade deal.

“I met with the UK officials earlier, and said ‘You expect a trade agreement with the United States and the UK It will not happen with your digital services tax. Period. Full stop’”, Wyden stated.

Republican Representative Kevin Brady echoed his statement, noting the tax would impair the free-trade deal negotiations, saying: “It’s not the way to start this discussion”.

As Donald Trump himself stated, he discussed the trade agreement during his first call to congratulate Boris Johnson, who was elected the Conservative Party leader and prime minister this July.

“We’re working already on a trade agreement. And I think it’ll be a very substantial trade agreement, you know we can do with the UK, we can do three to four times, we were actually impeded by their relationship with the European Union”, the US president said.

Boris Johnson earlier insisted that Britain should push for a no-deal Brexit pointing at potential trade deals with countries like the US, as The Independent point out. At the same time, only this July, he endorsed the idea of taxing US tech giants such as Facebook, Google, etc., something first announced by former chancellor Phillip Hammond in 2018.


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bigfoot yeti spotted in the UK shioting clay pigeons...

At the very front of the Eton Museum, there is a wall of fame set up on a mint-green background. Princes William and Harry are there, as is James Bond author Ian Fleming, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the actor Damian Lewis and Hugh "Dr. House" Laurie. There are also decorated soldiers, Olympics athletes, journalists and adventurers. And, of course, politicians. David Cameron is there, as is Jacob Rees-Mogg and, on the top-right, a young, blonde man grinning broadly into the camera: Boris Johnson, who is described there as the former mayor of London and ex-foreign minister.

Eton College, it seems, hasn't completely caught up with the times.

The school is extremely proud of its "Old Etonians." The exhibit proudly notes that graduates of the school "can be found involved in almost every national movement, in every event and on every side."

That, some would say, is the problem.

In the United Kingdom, a lot of people are once again talking and writing about Eton. They aren't, of course, talking about the Berkshire village by that name, which is essentially just a long street decorated with Union Jacks located just west of London, around the corner from Windsor Castle.

They mean the complex that lies at the end of this road: a huge, castle-like clutch of red brick buildings largely closed off to the public. It is almost two square kilometers in size and sits between the Thames and the Jubilee Rivers. Eton College, the empire's almost mythical elite academy, the place where the wealthy classes send their children, one of the most famous and oldest boarding schools in the world. It is also the place that has "produced," as Eton itself says, 20 prime ministers.

The most recent Old Etonian to take the helm is Boris Johnson. He inherited his most important -- perhaps only -- task from another Old Etonian, David Cameron, who unnecessarily paved the way for the Brexit referendum in 2016. If you include former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was educated in an elite Scottish school called Fettes College, the UK's fate for over the past 20 years has largely been determined by the graduates of elite boarding schools. 

Is that merely a coincidence?

Once one begins reporting on private schools and starts speaking to their former students, one quickly comes into contact with an exclusive world of archaic rules and unconscionable wealth. This world only exists in Britain. There, only success counts, no matter how it is attained. The system has brought forth an astounding number of statesmen, military heroes, Nobel laureates, gold-medal winners and Oscar recipients. But it has also helped promote, deepen and cement inequality. It is a system that "underpins almost all that is wrong with British society," as Boris Johnson's own sister, Rachel, has said. She is among the many who believe that the private school system should be broken up.

An Archaic System

There is nothing to indicate that her brother agrees. Boris Johnson has appointed numerous private school-educated politicians to his cabinet, with almost two-thirds of his ministers belonging to the 7 percent of the population whose worldview was formed in a private institution. 

As such, his government doesn't represent "modern Great Britain," as Johnson has claimed, but an archaic system that teaches those who belong to it that they are destined for the kind of greatness that others cannot reach. It is a system that teaches the preservation and exercise of power, but it also one in which the shrewd and cunning, but not necessarily the best, rise to the top. In its eagerness to produce a ruling elite, the system has also done lasting damage to the psyches of many of the children who have passed through it. And many view the boys' school of Eton College as perhaps the most representative example of this system.

It is a Friday in late July and around 25 tourists from around the world have gathered in the "Upper School." It is a classroom -- or, rather, an 18th century refectory, the walls of which are covered in names carved into the dark wood by former pupils. It has room for up to 70 students, and when they gather here, they aren't far from power.

Looking down at them from above are busts of numerous men who once transformed England into a global power. Lord North is there, the British prime minister who fought in vain to hold onto Britain's North American colonies, as is the former Lord High Chancellor and judge Earl Camden and the first Duke of Ellington, who defeated Napoleon. All of them were educated here, molded for a life in power. 

A dark brown door leads from the Upper School to the headmaster's chambers. For much of the school's existence, there were essentially only two reasons for a student to enter these chambers. Either he had violated one of Eton's rules and had to be punished with a birch rod. Or he belonged to the elite of the elite and received the honor of extra lessons. The names of these particularly brilliant pupils are carved into the wooden walls for eternity. For the year of 1981, there is an entry for A. B. Johnson, roughly at the same height as the busts of the heroes of British history. "He was undoubtedly a very bright boy," says the tour leader, as Chinese tourists takes pictures of the name.

'Bumbling Confidence'

There is almost nobody on whom the teenager Boris Johnson didn't leave a lasting impression. He was known in Eton as "Yeti," as his former schoolmate James Wood recently wrote in the London Review of Books. "The bigfoot stoop, the bumbling confidence, the skimmed-milk pallor, the berserk hair, the alarming air of imminent self-harm, which gave the impression that he had been freshly released from a protective institution: All was already in place."

Johnson was a "King's Scholar" and from the very beginning he was among the most academically gifted at Eton. The bulky blonde quickly made a name for himself in rugby and Eton's own "Wall Game," a sport largely incomprehensible to outsiders that centers around doing all you can to hold onto a ball once you have possession of it. Johnson's path to leadership position was charted when entered the boarding school at the age of 13. In the five years that followed, the Eton system took care of the rest.

"There was always a real sense that we were kind of the elite in every way: socially, intellectually, educationally and financially," says Adam Nicolson at his country home in Sussex. The 61-year-old is co-author of "About Eton," a book about the institution, and the grandson of poet Vita Sackville-West. He attended the boarding school in the 1970s, just before Johnson made his appearance, and is ambivalent about his time at the school. He says Eton was akin to a small city-state, made up of students from different houses that compete with each other. Nicolson describes it as a strictly hierarchical "mimic-republic" that sees itself as a "a school for government."

"You have to understand how to build your constituency, how to network, how to charm people so you can build your world and become significant within your world." Charm, he emphasizes, was always the most effective means to that end, helping to free oneself from every dicey situation.

One time, when he was 15, Nicolson relates, he was found drunk by his house master. He was taken aside and told: "Listen, Adam. It doesn't matter if you get drunk, just don't get caught. This is Eton. The spotlight is on you."

Silver Buttons

Fear and humiliation, Nicolson says, were important elements of the Eton system at the time, and remain so today. Poorly written papers are still torn up by teachers in front of the entire class, and at the end of each school year, everyone can see who was best in class and who was worst. The school is home to "horrible bullying," Nicolson says. When he was a student, the less-brilliant ones were referred to as "dockers."

The notorious practice of "fagging," which saw older students taking younger ones as a kind of slave, no longer exists in quite the same way. But there is still a caste system that is manifested in a number of different ways, including in the uniforms that have remained largely unchanged since the end of the 19th century -- a black three-piece suit that makes the streets of Eton sometimes look like the town is hosting an undertakers' convention.

The best athletes, the best poets, the best thinkers are allowed to augment their outfits with ties or bowties, for example. And the crème de la crème have silver buttons in their vests. Boris Johnson was allowed to wear one of the latter early on in his Eton career. While other boarding schools have abandoned their uniforms, Eton has held on to the tradition.

The boarding school, says Adam Nicolson, "taught me how to learn," but also "to be frightened of failure." He paid a high price for those lessons, he says. "I've spent years trying to re-cultivate those parts of myself which the Etonian system would ignore or suppress." Nevertheless, the author, who has written two dozen books and won numerous awards, says he would still go to Eton if he had it to do over again. He also sent his own offspring to the school.

In doing so, Nicolson finds himself in good company. For centuries, the British upper classes have seen it as self-evident that they would send their children and grandchildren to Eton or another elite private school, usually at the age of 13. A spot in such a school doesn't just guarantee a top-quality education in luxurious surroundings -- with a golf course, horse stables, a recording studio, a theater and a facility for shooting clay pigeons.


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a vote is a vote is a vote, representative or not...

Brexit represents the catastrophic failure caused by Britain's "unwritten constitution" and a radically unbalanced and unequal federal arrangement (the "union" of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). While the government and Parliament restrained themselves within the conventions, an appearance of normality was sustained.

But when factions on the far wings, right and left, of the main political parties saw an opportunity to seize the agenda on the UK's relations with the rest of Europe, they did – especially on the right. This was the Brexit referendum offered by then prime minister David Cameron to quieten – as he thought – the far right wing of his Conservative Party.

It’s essential to note two things:

Despite all the noise and dust, there is no majority for Brexit in the UK. In the referendum the Brexit vote was 37 per cent of the total electorate – 26 per cent of the population – which, by the way the figures for votes cast on the day fell out, gave a 51.89 per cent “win” for Brexit. (Note that had this been the proportion of the total electorate it would still not be enough to trigger vast constitutional change in most civilised states in the world. There are scarcely any where a simple majority, let alone a small one, would permit this: for such a change, a supermajority would be required, of 60 per cent or 66 per cent either of votes cast or the entire electorate.

Almost 5 million people were excluded from the franchise. This included 16 and 17-year-olds, expatriate British citizens who had lived abroad for more than a certain number of years, and EU citizens resident in the UK and paying their taxes there. Almost all of these groups – as we know from polling – would have voted for Remain, giving a pro-EU majority in excess of 54 to 55 per cent.

If any form of Brexit happens, it will not last. It will be reversed in a matter of a few years at most. Sheer demographics guarantee it: the under-50s in the UK are strong Europeans. So Brexit is futile – but hugely damaging. It is an unforgivable constitutional debacle. But it shows the way to very necessary reform in the politics and constitution of the UK.

The underlying weakness of the “Westminster Model” of parliamentary democracy is a danger to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, India, and nearly 50 other ex-British Empire countries around the world. The UK is the first to fall apart because it hasn’t papered over the cracks with some constitutional adjustments, as in Australia and elsewhere.

A C Grayling is a British philosopher, author and commentator. His forthcoming book, The Good State, explores the weakness of the Westminster model and its danger to former British colonies and will be published by Oneworld in February.

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If Brexit does not happen, then the Poms will have to abandon the Pound Sterling and adopt the Euro...

a poll is a poll is a poll, representative or not......

The survey also found 88 percent of respondents feel parliament is “out of touch” with the British public, with 89 percent believing MPs “ignore the wishes of voters and push their own agendas” on Brexit - 77 percent also agreed the Queen should “remain above politics and refuse to get involved in Brexit”.

A majority of Britons believe Prime Minister Boris Johnson must take Britain out of the European Union “by any means”, even if that necessitates suspending parliament, a ComRes opinion poll conducted for The Daily Telegraph has found. 

Johnson has promised to get Britain out of the EU by 31st October regardless of whether he manages to renegotiate his predecessor’s exit deal with Brussels, and the survey suggests 54 percent of voters agree with the notion the premier "needs to deliver Brexit by any means, including suspending parliament, in order to prevent MPs from stopping it".


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