“All for the best …

… in the best of all possible worlds” (Voltaire, Candide)

AS THE Brexiteers ramp up their obsession with “Project Fear” so they expect us to overlook their own Panglossian equivalent: Operation Comfort Blanket.

With Captain Bernard Jenkin in command yesterday they enlisted the aid of the most unlikely attack dog yet released, Telegraph columnist Julia Hartley-Brewer, to yap at the ankles of the unfortunate French economy minister Emmanuel Macon whose only sin was to remind anyone who cares to listen — which does not include the Leavers — that there is no guarantee that France will continue to co-operate with the UK when it comes to having several thousand illegal wannabe immigrants taking up space, time and public money disrupting Channel traffic.

Jenkin of course doesn’t want to hear this; it is of the essence of Operation Comfort Blanket that we all must believe that Brexit will mean a return to the England of warm beer and John Major’s dream of little old ladies cycling to Evensong.

A bit like St Mary Mead without the murders.

“Nothing very much will change,” is the soothing message, “you have nothing to fear from leaving. Bluebirds will sing again over the white cliffs of Dover tomorrow. Just you wait and see.”

Since this is dangerous nonsense let us unpick it carefully.

To begin with a lot of the sub-text of the Leavers is to do with immigration. It’s the pea under the thimble, you might say. When you’re looking at this you’re not paying attention to the other things they are saying. Or not saying.

Because in reality, Cash and Fox and Lawson and Johnson and Farage (perhaps not Farage who is out of his depth in such company) aren’t really all that much exercised about immigration; they are much more interested in a vague concept that they call “sovereignty” but since most of the sheeple don’t really understand that concept and are not all that concerned about it anyway what is needed is something they do understand and “immigraion” seems to be what they are unhappy with.

So if we can convince them that GB can “regain” control of its borders we can keep Johnny Foreigner out and all will be well again. Patriotism is the watchword! The last refuge of a scoundrel, according to Samuel Johnson who knew a thing or two about human nature.

The argument falls down on several fronts:

1 As an island and a country not subject to the Schengen agreement GB already has control of its own borders. It also has, for reasons which should be clear even to the modern breed of Conservative backbencher though perhaps not to a Telegraph columnist,  a vested interest in securing the EU’s external borders, something it can do a lot better inside the EU than outside.

2 While it is true that the Le Touquet agreement is a bilateral arrangement between the UK and France (as far as Eurostar is concerned it now includes Belgium) and is nothing directly to do with the EU, it is an agreement between two EU member states. What would happen in the event that one of those states ceased to be a EU member is anyone’s guess. But M Macon has suggested one possibility!

3 The Leavers are applying Operation Comfort Blanket and guessing that everything would carry on unchanged. The French in the form of M Macon (and to an extent François Hollande who has been making vague noises about “consequences” without being any more specific) are saying possibly not and there are very good reasons, which the Leavers are not bothering to point out, why France might well wish to re-establish the security of what has suddenly become an EU external border.

Why would the French choose to end the Le Touquet agreement? For a start, what’s in it for them? The situation at Calais is an expensive nuisance and an embarrassment. The people of Nord-Pas de Calais would dearly love to see the back of the whole lot of them. If they want to go and make a mess of Britain then let them. And so on.

Then there is the situation as described above. The Channel ports would no longer be simply stopping points between two EU member states. France’s responsibility for frontier security is increased since the Channel now represents an EU external border. Any joint responsibility for its security has ceased. It may be that France and GB have a joint interest in maintaining security but that interest is no longer underpinned by joint membership of the EU. The music has changed. We’re into a different dance.

But in any event this is smoke and mirrors since those who are arguing for Brexit on the grounds of immigration have still not thought their argument through.

Population statistics are easy to find but not always easy to analyse so rather than fill the page with reams of numbers I suggest you look at the government’s own figures.

The point at issue is what happens to population movement in the event of Brexit and there are so many combinations and permutations that the number of possibly answers is considerable.

Let us look at just a few of the variables:

GB rapidly agrees a deal to remain in the EEA — this will mean (at least to an extent) freedom of movement though may provide Cameron with the ability to discriminate against foreign workers. If you are happy with GB discriminating in this fashion try getting a job in Qatar building their World Cup stadia and see how you like it.

GB decides that freedom of movement is a no-no — forget EEA membership.

In the latter case, what happens next? Are we going to deport all the EU nationals currently (legally) resident and/or employed in GB? Are we read for the influx of British ex-pats kicked out of France and Spain?

In this scenario, all EU citizens have become aliens. Is this going to stop Eastern Europeans from attempting to get into Britain thereby swelling the number of illegals in GB?

And what about those illegals anyway? If France kicks them all across the Channel what are the prospects (realistically) of booting them all back to France? Remember the ‘Jungle’ is not full of Bulgarians; it is full of Syrians and Somalis and Sudanese and a dozen other nationalities from all parts of the alphabet who, like Dick Whittington, think the streets of London are paved with gold (though they would probably settle for them not being open sewers knee-deep in camel dung).

And if we really, really “regain control of our borders” (pardon my mirth) can we afford the Border Guards we would need to patrol the coast from The Wash to The Lizard to stop the people smugglers from landing them there?

And all this for what? The Leavers’ dream is a potential nightmare. It’s not a question of “can Britain go it alone?” It’s a question of “what does Britain gain by going it alone?” A spurious excuse for some form of “sovereignty”, as if GB wasn’t a sovereign country already with the right to make her own laws and argue the case for subsidiarity and greater democracy in the EU where she would be looked up to by most of Europe instead of looked down on as a whingeing nuisance.

Cameron has no need of a “Project Fear”. The Leavers are ‘frit’ enough without any help from him!



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England v The Rest?

IN HIS WEEKLY column in the The Times (£), Hugo Rifkind — a writer with whom I frequently disagree — nails perfectly the contradictions at the heart, or maybe the soul, of the Brexit movement.

As his opening gambit he argues that Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is busily urging everyone to vote Remain on June 23 while in reality hoping that a majority will vote Leave, thereby giving the Scots, who she fervently believes (and probably correctly) will vote Remain, the perfect opportunity to demand another referendum on Scottish independence.

Brexit, he says, would in a nutshell,

… recast(s) the question of “should Scotland leave the UK?” as “should Scotland stay in the EU?” and that is a much easier sell.

It is, therefore in Scotland’s interest for a Leave vote to triumph but that in itself raises certain problems as far as campaigning goes. You cannot reasonably campaign for a Leave vote as a ploy to stay in.

That’s not politics. That’s a con trick you do on a pavement with a trio of cups.

Quite so. But Rifkind then comes to the serious meat of his argument.

In playing with Brexit, British unionists play with fire. They do this because many of them are not truly British unionists at all. Rather, they are English nationalists, who want to maintain a union with Scotland in much the same way that Russian nationalists bemoan the end of the Soviet Union. If you think that sounds like hyperbole, ask yourself why there is so much convergence between Brexiteers and those who campaign most vociferously for an English parliament, or English votes for English laws.

To be honest, he and I part company on that last aspect of his case because it seems to me eminently logical that if you devolve powers over health and education (to name but two) then that devolution must be complete, to wit that if these are a matter for the regions then then cease to be a matter for central government and the national parliament should cease to have any say in the matter. You can be a Remainer and still believe in a proper devolution.

But he then goes on:

They may speak of “British sovereignty”, but what they mean is “English sovereignty”. They just don’t always recognise the difference.

As any Scotsman or Welshman will tell you!

And at that point he strips bare the facade behind which the Leavers attempt to hide and exposes them for the world to see as the Little Englanders they are.

I was roundly condemned in the language now common amongst those who post in comment columns (we really are going to have invent a name for these people!) for applying just that description but consider this remark by Iain Duncan Smith in reply to a question by Andrew Marr:

What if Scotland votes to remain and we remain, and England votes to come out? Does that mean England has to have a referendum to leave the Union? It’s an absurd concept!

Oh, really? How about this scenario: Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland vote by a considerable majority to Remain; England votes by a narrow majority to Leave, a narrow enough majority so that the overall UK vote is in favour of staying in.

Isn’t an English referendum just what the headbanging tendency will be screaming for? Did IDS never read any of the comments in the English tabloid press (and not just the tabloids!) in the six months prior to the Scottish referendum? How many of us would like £1 for every time we read ‘let them go’, ‘good riddance’, ‘why can’t we have a voice as well ‘cos we’d soon get shot of them’? And other less savoury opinions.

Rifkind also makes the point that the United Kingdom is also a Union, something that the Scots and the Welsh are well aware of but which the English all too often appear to forget. And if it comes to the point where Scotland and Wales (I think Northern Ireland is always likely to be a special case for all sorts of reasons) wish to go their own way and England has lost the moral authority to prevent the break-up of that Union what then?

If the rest of the world (including the EU) is not likely to bend over backwards to do favours to the UK once it leaves the EU how much less likely is it to look kindly on England alone? The smaller nations may well find life initially difficult outside the EU unless the other members are prepared to find some fast-track system which permits England to leave while the rest stay but if countries like Cyprus and Malta can survive and (hopefully) thrive inside the EU then there is little doubt that Scotland Wales could do the same.

How England alone and isolated would fare is another matter.

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Tories in Fantasyland

TWO ARTICLES in this weekend’s Sunday Times here and here caught my attention.

The first, by Political Editor Tim Shipman, is headlined “Tory threat to oust PM after EU vote” and includes this quote from “another leading Eurosceptic” referring to David Cameron:

He looks like he doesn’t give a s**t about party unity. He’s trying to pick a fight with us

As an example of irony this remark must be in a class of its own and as an example of the lack of self-awareness common to most fanatics it almost defines the genre.

Those of us who have followed the global warming “debate” over the last decade or so are accustomed to this sort of behaviour which might even be categorised as ‘projection’ (defined as ‘denying the existence of one’s own unpleasant impulses while attributing them to others’) but this is the first time I have come across such a blatant example in the political sphere.

I have made the point in other fora that there is no doubt a case to be made for the UK to leave the EU (‘Brexit’ as it is commonly known) just as there is a case to be made for remaining in and I shall be attempting to make the latter case in a future article. What the case for leaving might be is not going to be helped by this “leading Eurosceptic” and other like-minded of his fellow Leavers.

A brief history lesson.

The Leavers have been around since 1975. Their pope is Bill Cash who has never accepted Britain’s membership of the EU and has been joined (inevitably) by John Major’s “bastards” and such luminaries as Liam Fox, John Redwood and Owen Paterson — all carrying their grudges like war medals.

They and a significant number of the Conservative party but never, at least until recently, a majority, have spent 40 years making life as difficult as possible for every party leader from Margaret Thatcher onwards. What part they played in the electoral defeats of 2001 and 2005 it is hard to say but two former party leaders from those wilderness years — Michael Howard and Ian Duncan Smith — are among those now enthusiastically calling for Brexit, Howard (unconvincingly) on the grounds that a vote to leave will galvanise the EU into frenzied activity to give Cameron everything he is asking for (plus free access to the vaults of the ECB, 72 virgins, and Juncker’s head on a platter, for all I know!).

To which my reaction is (i) in your dreams, Michael, and (ii) so bloody what, because the usual suspects as outlined above would still vote to leave whatever Brussels came up with.

Back to the lesson. By 2010 the party had at last elected a credible (sort of) leader though one 10 years older and with some idea of the world outside the incestuous little hot house of PR would have been better. Regrettably that lack of gravitas and experience of the world undermined his confidence to the extent that he was happy to settle for coalition with the Lib-Dems and everyone knew it so that is what he got.

By a certain amount of good luck the Conservatives managed to scrape an overall majority in 2015 so his enthusiastic supporters rallied round, cheered him to the rafters and pledged undying loyalty to the party’s Saviour, right?

Not exactly. Barely was the door of No 10 closed after Cameron’s return from the Palace  than the usual suspects were hard at work undermining his government and before negotiations with Brussels had even started they were niggling away at any media person who cared to listen that the PM was not sincere, that his demands were pointless, that he was bound to fail, and that he and the Civil Service were conspiring to shut the Leavers up.

Once again, ‘psychological projection’ (or maybe plain paranoia) rears its head. Space does not permit a detailed list but it is not hard to find the evidence that the Leavers have been busy practising the very negative arts of which they accuse their opponents. Indeed if they had their way, based on available press reports over the last year, the Remainers would be allowed to say virtually nothing while the Leavers would have carte blanche.

The second article I referred to is by Adam Boulton and is headed “Win and Cameron still faces a neverendum”.

He quotes “a senior veteran of Thatcher’s cabinet” as expecting a challenge to Cameron’s leadership within 24 hours even if the Remain vote wins. Remember that Cameron has already made it clear that he does not intend to serve a third term as PM so any such move, win or lose on June 23, can only be described as a shotgun blast aimed at both feet.

After 13 years out of office, five years hamstrung by the Boy Nick and his fellow nine-year-olds, the Conservatives — instead of making full use of the majority they have and building the foundations for a resounding majority in 2020 — are now proposing to open the doors of Downing Street to a Labour party whose ability to organise themselves a haircut must be seriously questioned.

Correction: with their attitude to Trident in mind, a party that cannot even make up its mind whether to organise a haircut!

Staying in the EU must be better than letting these clowns — on both sides of the aisle — loose on the future of the UK.

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Preparing for Paris

I WOULD urge all my readers to look very closely at the re-blog of Donna LaFramboise’s post which I posted last week.

(I should say at this point that I owe Donna an apology. Though her site does permit re-blogging, I failed to click the box saying what I had done and by the time I got back it had, of course, disappeared. I’ll do better next time.)

To begin with she records the fact that

Back in 1992 – well before science had anything conclusive to say about humanity’s impact on the climate – the United Nations persuaded countries to sign an international treaty aimed at saving the planet from ‘dangerous’ human-emitted greenhouse gases.

She adds: “Let me repeat that. The treaty came first.”

In 2010, she then reports, a committee of the InterAcademy Council reported that it had identified “significant shortcomings” at “each major step of [the] IPCC’s assessment process.”

The IPCC simply ignored the report and carried on as ‘normal’.

The following year Donna published her book “The Delinquent Teenager (who was mistaken for the world’s top climate expert)” which pulled together pretty much all the evidence then known (or suspected) that the “top scientists” who compiled the five-yearly IPCC reports were in reality nothing of the kind. Recognised experts in various relevant fields were sidelined because their views were considered “unhelpful” and less well-qualified (or in some cases not at all qualified) people more pliant (or compliant) appointed instead.

Others have also remarked on the extent to which environmental activists, most notably from Greenpeace, WWF and Friends of the Earth, have been heavily involved in these reports and that a considerable amount of input — not peer-reviewed in spite of the IPCC’s repeated claim that only peer-reviewed material is acceptable — has come from such organisations.

Donna then introduces a report, running to close on 200 pages, from the French Société de Calcul Mathématique which rips the IPCC to shreds (yet again!) with such comments as:

The IPCC report is totally flawed in terms of basic scientific method, since it ignores the natural variations in the variables that it seeks to analyze…

The IPCC report is equally flawed in terms of data acquisition, since in principle it chooses the data or datasets that support its theses and discard[s] all the rest…

The IPCC report is highly ideologically biased. It does not follow any of the basic rules of scientific research…

Once again, I urge you to follow the link in Donna’s article and read the whole thing.

To add to this triple blow there now comes another report, this time from German Professor Dr. Friedrich Karl Ewert and commented on by Pierre Gosselin in his NoTricksZone blog here

Ewert’s claim is that there has been massive manipulation of the NASA-GISS datasets, a claim that has been made before so while this latest manifestation is worth consideration the findings need perhaps to be taken at this stage with a pinch of salt. Follow the link above and see for yourself.

The common thread running through these three assaults on the integrity of the IPCC or the guardians of climate data — the IAC report, the SCM report, and now Ewert’s claims — is that their authors have no axe to grind. They have no dog, you might say, in the climate change/global warming fight. Warmists are quite likely to use that as an excuse to ignore the findings (which would be par for the course) but this could well turn out to be a mistake because if there is any solid factual basis, especially for the claims of the SCM and Ewert, they cannot be dismissed simply as shills for the fossil fuel industry which is the warmist fallback position when challenged.

In particular if it can be shown that Ewert’s claims have validity and that the adjustments to the land-based data lack justification, an argument that has been gathering strength in recent years as satellite observations and ground-based observations diverge and models continue to over-state warming, the scientific climate community will find it increasingly difficult to justify their claims.

With Paris unlikely to do other than cobble together a non-agreement, a cold winter in Europe on the cards together with increasing energy bills, and a growing awareness by people and government that the whole climate schtick is passé. I’ll leave you with one more link to another blogger. Pointman’s take on what is and is not likely to happen in Paris next week really, really is something you should read!

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The Naked Climate Change Emperor

Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Strip away the pseudoscience and you’ll find one thing: politics. People attempting, via international treaties, to constrain human lives. For the sake of Mother Gaia.

naked_emperorIn a few weeks, world leaders will gather in Paris to boast about their bold stance on climate change. But strip away the considerable nonsense surrounding this topic, and a few stark facts remain. Back in 1992 – well before science had anything conclusive to say about humanity’s impact on the climate – the United Nations persuaded countries to sign an international treaty aimed at saving the planet from ‘dangerous’ human-emitted greenhouse gases.

Let me repeat that. The treaty came first.

Now let’s meet a UN entity called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). We’re told it’s a ‘scientific body.’ But that’s a cynical ploy. The IPCC’s job is to provide scientific cover for the political convictions that spawned the treaty. As…

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Pray for Paris

ON THE EVENING of November 13, France were playing Germany in a soccer friendly at the Stade de France, a large number of people were enjoying a rock concert at the Théatre Bataclan, and in several other venues across central Paris, locals and visitors were doing what they would normally do on a Friday evening.

In the middle of this calm, law abiding scenario Paris suddenly discovered it was entertaining a group of murderous fanatics intent on killing as many people as possible in the name of a belief which brooks no discussion, no debate, no variation from the brutal creed which it espouses and which demands the death of ordinary people as some sort of retribution for the refusal of those same ordinary people to accede to their demands.

There is something ironic in the cry of “God is good” which precedes the finger on the trigger of a Kalshnikov or the pin of a grenade. God is indeed good, as many billions of people believe and have believed over the centuries but that goodness has demanded a respect by man for his fellow man and only a vanishingly small minority of humanity believe that their actons in Paris will lead to Paradise and 72 virgins (or is it raisins?) rather than to a very quick introduction to the torments of hell.

There is something equally ironic, and almost laughable, in the reported cries of “This is for Syria”.  Which bit of Syria are we talking about here? Are you for Assad? For ISIL? For the Kurds? For one of the numerous “opposition” splinter groups that abound? Did you even know? And since it is even money (based on eyewitness accounts) that you were French-born and therefore probably a descendant of immigrants from the Maghreb, did you even know where Syria is?

Meanwhile there are close to 130 dead (at the latest count) who were given no option but to die in someone else’s cause. Maybe some of them were sympathisers with whatever cause the killers believed they were furthering but the killers themselves may not have known what that cause was and enlisting any of the victims was not in the script anyway. And any who might have been sympathisers had no business to be out enjoying themselves at rock concerts or cafés anyway, right?

And the end result? Who knows?

In a fortnight’s time, Paris will play host to a different group of murderous fanatics (40,000 of them if they all turn up) equally intent on killing people, though slightly more subtly, in the name of a belief which brooks no discussion, no debate, no variation from the brutal creed which it espouses and which demands the death of ordinary people as some sort of retribution for the refusal of those same ordinary people to accede to their demands.

The Global Warming jihadis are coming to town!

The Conference of the Parties (which Willis Eschenbach on the WUWT website once re-christened the ‘Conference of the Partygoers) is the 21st jamboree by the far from Great and anything but Good fanatics of the War on Mankind who continue their determination, in the face of no evidence, to deprive the civilised world of the energy that has made it civilised and the “uncivilised” (for want of a better word) world of that same energy that might allow it to emerge from its current impoverished situation into the sunlit uplands that the rest of us enjoy.

These fanatics have no need of Kalashnikovs or hand grenades but their chosen weapon of unreliable, needlessly expensive energy is in the long run just as lethal and the death toll will be many times greater if they get their way.

The resemblance between these two groups is uncanny. Both rely heavily on absolute fidelity to a belief system with even the slightest depature from the faith bringing swift retribution. The foot soldiers, better described in Lenin’s phrase as “useful idiots”, can be relied on to parrot the core of the belief system while in one case shooting and bombing unbelievers and in the other using any means at their disposal to hamper the infrastructure on which civilisation depends.

Both believe that, minute minority though they may be, they are absolutely right; that anyone who disagrees with them is not only mistaken but sinfully so; that they are empowered by their self-righteousness to dictate to the rest of how we must act, how we must speak, how we must think, all on pain of an immediate death by firing squad or a lingering death by cold, starvation or disease.

Where they part company is in the belief that by murdering unbelievers and dying for their cause they will themselves receive an eternal reward. Islamists think that way; Climateers have no intention of doing anything as self-sacrificing as blowing themselves up though some of the extreme (or desperate?) fanatics take the view that anyone who disagrees with them ought to be at the very least imprisoned. Which makes the Islamists the more honest, when you think about it.

In the long run the Muslim jihadis can probably be dealt with. Even though their professed desire is for a caliphate which will ultimately embrace the whole world, politics, bribery, alliances, threats and the use of targeted assassinations as well as changing attitudes among a new generation can be effective if the will is there.

Whether the climate fanatics will be as easily dealt with is another matter. Since neither climate change not global warming are in reality relevant to the ultimate aim, which is de-industrialisation of the West and enforced non-industrialisation elsewhere, they are able continually to frame the argument in terms of what is most conducive to gaining new converts at the time.

So already global warming has become climate change while the threat of melting glaciers has given way to sea-level rise and then to ocean acidification. “Sustainability” was preferred to “biodiversity” and there is, of course, still the outright opposition to anything, such as GM crops or golden rice, that might improve the health and longevity of the poor of the world or the use of nuclear power or shale gas which would go some way to their stated aim of reducing CO2 which only provides further evidence that their real aim is something else.

And all accompanied by the endless mendacity and obfuscation which are characteristic of the eco-luddite or eco-fascist tendency as it seeks to impose its will on the 97% of people in the world who, if left to their own devices, would never give these charlatans the time of day.

It’s very likely true that “global warming is the most serious threat facing the world today”, perhaps even greater than the threat from militant jihadis. Just not in the way the Climateers and their hangers-on would like you to believe.

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Freedom is not an absolute whatever the liberals say

TO nobody’s surprise, least of all mine, all the usual suspects were in full cry like hounds on a trail before the Home Secretary had even got to her feet this afternoon.

By the time she sat down, the British people — if we can believe the pundits — were heading back to the darkest of Dark Ages to a life that would outstrip anything that George Orwell could possibly have imagined in his wildest nightmares.

So who exactly is forecasting the demise of Britain’s “traditional freedoms” exactly?
First up there is Shami Chakrabati who has described the draft Bill as a “breathtaking attack” on civil liberties.

This would be the same Shami Chakrabarti who not only supported the Leveson Inquiry, itself arguably the most “breathtaking attack” on the freedom of the press in 300 years, but who took an active rôle in its deliberations. If I had to choose between a free press with all its faults  and an unaccountable organisation like LIberty then I know which I would choose.

And I certainly would not expect to see the head of that organisation defending a group of second-rate luvvies who are happy to make use of the press when it suits them but turn on it when they’re caught with their trousers down (sometimes even literally).

There are laws that protect private individuals from harassment though there is no statutory right to privacy in English law and there is (was) a Press Complaints body which, while not perfect, served its purpose reasonably well. I have no brief for those who chose to hound Millie Dowler’s family as I have no brief for the paparazzi who make a grubby living trying to acquire candid (read ‘mildly pornographic if we’re lucky’) photographs of any celebrity that they feel inclined to pursue, from royalty down. Throwing the baby out with the bathwater (which Leveson apparently aimed to do) may suit some people but not the people.

On the other hand private individuals who are happy to have the media (and politicians)make use of them — I shall name no names but we all know of people about who you can say “I don’t know what he/she has done to deserve this sort of adulation” — are arguably fair game.

Next up in the handwringing stakes is JImmy Wales, creator of that fount of all on-line wisdom Wikipedia. When my bout of hysterical laughter is over I shall continue.
As a reference work for the non-contentious it has no equal, and I mean that sincerely, folks. But wander out into the world of academe or disputed science (climate is especially vulnerable) and you will meet a host of trolls busily re-writing pages to suit their own bigoted or jaundiced opinions to the point where the site is not just useless but downright dangerous.

Jimmy would like Apple to stop selling iPhones in the UK if Mrs May bans end to end encryption, ie nobody but nobody and that means nobody can crack your communication. Great idea that, Jimmy. Every terrorist organisation, criminal gang or paedophile group is going to light a big, big candle tonight to their patron saint Jimmy Wales!

So let’s remind ourselves that never, ever, since the invention of the printing press has any individual’s communication with another individual been that private. So let’s ask ourselves why we should start now.

Let us stop pretending that making it possible for the security services and the police to read our emails is any different from giving them authority to read our letters or that demanding that ISPs keep a record of what web sites we have visited is in any fundamental way different from filing a detailed list of our phone calls which is what it has been described as.

And finally in this Hall of Shame we have Edward Snowden.

This person’s Wikipedia entry (so maybe we need to take it with a pinch of salt) tells us that he is

“an American privacy activist, computer professional, former CIA employee, and former government contractor who leaked classified information from the United States National Security Agency (NSA) in 2013. The information revealed numerous global surveillance programs, many run … with the cooperation of telecommunication companies and European governments.”

Now I don’t know about you, but I find the word “whistleblower” a somewhat inadequate description for this character.  “Creep”, perhaps, or “little shit”, whichever you choose he is certainly not someone that I am about to give much credence to when he tells the British how to run Britain.

He tells us that the communications data covered by the legislation is “the activity log of your life”.  He said that on Twitter! Oh, the irony!

Let me end this with another look at Ms Chakrabarti’s home base, Liberty.

As ever greater amounts of our lives are stored, shared and sent online, a detailed and intimate picture of you can be pieced together – revealing much more than any search through your bedside drawer.  Don’t we all deserve some basic protections?

Well, yes, Shami, we do deserve some protections. We need protection from those who wish to do us harm whether they are Islamist fanatics or drug dealers or partakers in organised crime or paedophile gangs or those who groom 14-year-old girls for sex.

But we have a responsibility of our own where the “basic protections” are concerned. We need to understand that there are people out there that the state cannot protect us from — fraudsters, computer hackers and others — who rely on our stupidity on-line. If “ever greater amounts of our lives are stored, shared and sent online” perhaps its is time to stop enabling this “detailed and intimate picture of you to be pieced together” from the things we are stupid enough to reveal on Twitter, Facebook and all the other (anti-)social media sites.

We are broadly speaking our own worst enemy but making it impossible to protect us from the real and deadly threats that face us is not freedom or privacy or safety. It’s stupidity.

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