Thursday, May 08, 2003

ECONOMISTS OVERBOARD: The Indie reports that

The Chancellor, Gordon Brown, was confronted by the collective might of more than 300 of the world's most eminent economists yesterday, who told him to declare that the UK has passed the five economic tests which will place it on track to join the euro. “concluding
“it is clear that not only is the economic evidence overwhelmingly in favour of euro entry”

In my class any economist who thinks that there is any overwelmong evidence on currecy issues has been drinking; its just not an area of economics that has even approached certainty.

But the clinsher is

“The list was reminiscent of the letter to The Times in 1981 denouncing the monetarist policies of Margaret Thatcher's government. “

They were totally wrong weren’t they? mmmmmm

Sunday, May 04, 2003

BBC: A BBC analysis on our relationship with Europe and the US that’s hardly worth fisking since it reluctantly seems to show that the BBC is starting to think that just perhaps there may be two sides to this argument. In fact when you look at the photos - one of Bush and Blair looking purposeful and the other of Chirac and Shroeder looking like two mugs, you suspect there might be a mole in Bush house. But I started so I’ll post it. It’s really just a collection of sneering references to the Amerikan way rebutted by vague concepts of “Europeaness”

“Do we still see Americans as our kith and kin, part of an intimately bound English speaking world?
Or are some of us becoming increasingly anti-American, filled with a caricature view of Americans as arrogant, ignorant and yet inexplicably successful? “

Judging from the latest pole it looks like us is just you.

“How European is Britain in our cultural identity, our welfare state, our dislike of many American values, and the obvious fact that British cities look and feel much more European than the skyscraper monsters of north America? “

And what about our dislike of European values. But when the clincher to your case is based on the “obvious” similarities between Birmingham and Naples why bother setting out any supporting evidence.
The economic point that “Half Britain's trade now is with the European Union. Only about a sixth of our trade is with the United States. “ a couple of times, but the article fails to mention that we have free trade with the EC but EC restricted trade with the US. Where trade is unrestricted, (investment) “When it comes to where British people and British companies put their money through investment, all that is weighted towards the United States. “

“Many British businesses feel, in that awkward American phrase, 'more comfortable' dealing in the American system”
A good point but the sneer is somewhat undermined by the fact that “more comfortable” is neither particularly awkward nor American. After pithily summarising the American approach as “All very American [i.e. bad]. “

We then have the counterpoint

“But others, like the author Will Hutton, argue that the British believe in a very European way that businesses are more than just machines to print money.”I

n a very European way the article however fails to detail what more is expected of business? Are they meant to consume red tape? Or make things? Either way the unfleshed phrase is literally wrong (business that print money normally attract the Special Branches attention pretty pronto) or so vague as to be meaningless.

Having failed to make a serious case in favour the Beeb then falls back on the geographic clincher.

“Tony Blair asserts that Britain can be a 'bridge' between Europe and the United States.
But from Nato's secretary general George Robertson - who admits his job is often to bridge differences between Europe and America - we hear how being as he puts it, in mid-Atlantic, can be cold and wet and very, very lonely. “

Which just says that George Robertson has never been to Bermuda. But not much else.

HEARTS AND MINDS: A Basra boy is shot whilst apparently playing with a British soldier. One of the dangers of too much emphasis on Hearts and Minds operations perhaps?
DONT PANIC: Looks like it was a heavy weekend over at the Guardian, with the whiskey bottle shifting across the table at an ever-increasing pace as the election results came in. And now Peter Preston’s stumbled into the office all tired and emotional:

“The assumption - the American and British governments' assumption - is that, as always, facts have to be faced.”

No that’s the assumption most adults make. I too once assumed that facts didn’t always have to be faced. Then I lost my job.

“But I keep remembering where I was just before the war started and just after it finished.”

A bit like you keep remembering where you were before you went into the pub and after you came out but the in-between’s a bit of a blank. Hey, you should have heard some of the things you were saying [whispering round the offices]. He was with:

“A sampling of Barbadians, Fijians, Zambians, Russians, Pakistanis, Italians, Danes, Azerbaijanis - and many more. Opinion formers, all of them. And the fascinating thing is that nothing has changed.”

So you were all on a Kuoni Break from Reality cruise? This sampling said:

“Because (in too many cases, at least) they also felt vulnerable. If one dodgy regime can suffer American wrath, then what about the dodgy government I am stuck with at home?”

So these opinion formers didn’t want their dodgy governments undermined? Is Peter saying that most of these people he was with were supporters of oppressive governments, or that they agreed that in some way we need to keep dodgy governments in place to maintain “diversity” of freedom and oppression amongst the people of the world? A pretty unsettling idea either way.

“Some of these perceptions, perhaps, are a nuance or two short of the full insight.”

No I think you mean, bananas short of a bunch.

“We still assume that leaders lead and people follow. We forget that sometimes it's the other way round, that maybe Schröder and Chirac did what they had to do; that publics have their fixed opinion, too.
There was no war bounce for Labour when local Britain voted last week. And why should there be, you ask? What's Baghdad got to do with holes in the road in Brum? But it is not fanciful to discern a rather more subtle connection.
Scotland said it best. Labour, SNP, Lib Dem? None of the above if at all possible. Bring on the Greens and the red Sheridans. Bring on the single issue mavericks. There was absolutely no smack of higher authority here. Voters, when they turned out, brusquely declined to conform. Adjectives slid off them as from duck feathers. “

As a conclusion these paragraphs contains some possibly valid statements but they are glued together all wrong. If people like Chirac are not leaders but followers then it doesn’t matter what you say to them, so why bother with the o so subtle hints to Putin. And if the public have their own fixed opinion, then how can the journalists in your gathering be “Opinion formers, all of them”. If the leaders can't do naught and the people are pig headed, you might as well go home – or at least just report the news as opposed to writing opinion pieces. And if the voters of Brum care not a jot about Baghdad then why would the Scottish voters make a subtle connection? And if they did, then why did the English voters make a subtle connection to vote Conservative? So its seems that if the voters declined to conform to anything, it was to your insight, not to any deeper darker forces.


“The left's dilemma is how to harness the new social and protest movements into an effective electoral strategy”

Maybe by harnessing and muzzling the protesters?

“Presidential hopeful Howard Dean is pushing all the right buttons in all the right places. At a speech to health workers in Manhattan last week the Democratic contender slammed the war, praised universal health care and defended affirmative action.”

Right, so he’s pushing the self destruct button.

“Dean is the great red hope.”

Gee, Gary that’s a good line to sell a candidate to the American public; maybe you could be his campaign manager. Don’t you sometimes get the feeling that the loco left wing pundits offering international solidarity support are a positive liability to their comrades abroad – a bit like the protesters.

“The issue in France was not that the left stood, but that so many stood against each other. Had they come together behind one candidate and under one banner, their combined vote could have beaten Le Pen and the Socialist party.”

Hang on – so are you saying that the French Socialist party is the enemy – because they’re not left wing enough? Or merely that they are in the same category as Le Pen?

“Whether middle America would respond to such an agenda or not is a moot point”

Why, because the revolution is coming? Or because the left has accepted that it doesn’t matter anymore?

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