The similar feature of whales and small investors in cryptocurrencies is that both categories prefer trustworthy hardware wallets to unreliable ones. Among the users of the Ledger Live download for Mac for right solutions you can find traders with a different capital. 

Did Boris Johnson really understand the consequences of leaving the Customs Union when he promised to “deliver Brexit”

A blog post from Dominic Cummings suggests that Boris Johnson didn’t realise the implications of leaving the Customs Union until October 2020, and when he found out he “looked around the room with appalled disbelief and shook his head”

Here is part of that post:

It wasn’t until 25 September 2020*** that he finally understood even vaguely what leaving the Customs Union meant. I will never forget the look on his face when, after listening to Frost in a meeting** on the final stage of the negotiation, he said, ‘No no no Frosty, fuck this, what happens with a deal?’ And Frost looked up from his paper and said, ‘PM, this is what happens with a deal, that’s what leaving the Customs Union means.’ The PM’s face was priceless. He sat back in his chair and looked around the room with appalled disbelief and shook his head. Horrified officials’ phones pinged around the Cabinet table. One very senior official texted me, ‘Now I realise how you managed to get Brexit done 😂’. As Hunter S Thompson said, humour in politics is usually dark.

The full post is worth reading, but it is also deeply alarming.
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How should Lib Dems deal with the Conservative fear-mongering?

Chris Skidmore (a Vice-Chair of the Conservatives 2018-2019) has called out his own party for heading in a “very dark” direction in demonising those who call for a rapid reduction in CO2 emission as a way of justifying the watering-down of net zero targets.

Softening net zero targets might well encourage people to think they need not worry about climate change and can ignore the extremes of “Just stop Oil”. It’s a million miles from the responsible course of addressing climate change — and implicitly saying “we have a problem, and a plan to address it.

There are echoes of the same mentality in some of Suella Braverman’s comments before the reshuffle. Talking of refugees arriving by boat in exaggerated language can make them sound like an “invasion” force, stoking people’s anxiety so that they are “grateful” when the government “protects” us. Talking of homelessness as a “lifestyle choice” gives a way to say we can ignore it — when we should be embarrassed at what it implies for failed housing and mental health policy.

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A thought on Suella Braverman’s brutal comments on homelessness

Braverman’s crass comments about homelessness being a “lifestyle choice” have rightly attracted strong criticism. I am concerned that this speaks of a fear and brutality in her target audience that should ring alarm bells.

On 4 November she posted a series of tweets:

The British people are compassionate. We will always support those who are genuinely homeless. But we cannot allow our streets to be taken over by rows of tents occupied by people, many of them from abroad, living on the streets as a lifestyle choice. 1/4

Unless we step in now to stop this, British cities will go the way of places in the US like San Francisco and Los Angeles, where weak policies have led to an explosion of crime, drug taking, and squalor. 2/4

Nobody in Britain should be living in a tent on our streets. There are options for people who don’t want to be sleeping rough, and the Government is working with local authorities to strengthen wraparound support including treatment for those with drug and alcohol addiction. 3/4

What I want to stop, and what the law abiding majority wants us to stop, is those who cause nuisance and distress to other people by pitching tents in public spaces, aggressively begging, stealing, taking drugs, littering, and blighting our communities. 4/4

This was picked up in the press with suggests that she plans a crackdown on the use of tents by homeless people and fines for some charities providing tents.

Continue reading “A thought on Suella Braverman’s brutal comments on homelessness”

Is it time to come out in favour of rejoining the EU?

Recently we’ve seen a Yougov poll putting support for Brexit at new lows, with just 32% of the British public overall and 70% of those who voted Leave thinking it was the right decision. We’ve seen stories of both the Tories and Labour denying that they have plans to rejoin the Single Market and/or Customs Union — with the implication that there is something to deny.

People’s Vote March
For a while I’ve thought the opposite on the grounds that people who voted Leave might find it easier to change their minds if we’re not telling them they were wrong. But, if 30% have already done that, things are different.

With neither Labour nor the Tories speaking up for the majority who now think Brexit was a mistake, is it time for Liberal Democrats to say what others are whispering: we need to rejoin? That’s about speaking up for the EU vision of a peaceful, stable and prosperous Europe with deep respect for democratic values as well undoing the economic harm done by leaving.

Experience may make us wary. In 2019 our promise to cancel the Article 50 notice if we formed the next government backfired: getting enough Liberal Democrat MPs elected to form a government would have been a political earthquake big enough to be a mandate for cancelling Brexit, but people recognised that earthquake wasn’t going to happen. Now we are in a different place. Starting the process of rejoining now would need enough support to mean that neither the EU nor the UK thought we’d try to leave again. That support would need to be shown at the ballot box. Are we at the point when Liberal Democrats can be the nucleus around which it can form?

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The £500,000 donations for Liz Truss’ Tory leadership campaign

The Guardian has broken a horrifying and believable story that Liz Truss raised £500,000 in donations for her Tory leadership campaign with “about half of it coming from donors linked to hedge fund bosses, venture capitalists and other City financiers”.

In August Liberal Democrat Voice ran an article where I suggested that the Tory leadership campaign was looking like a presidential election — with a tiny, and unrepresentative electorate. That tips power further from Parliament to No.10 and pretends that the new leader has an entirely false legitimacy.

News of these donations takes this to a whole new level.

Of course, a leadership campaign costs money. A large number of small donations from Tory members would have been an early indication of support. But the actual donations are large, mostly in excess of £5,000, and the largest being £100,000. That looks like a small number of people having a large influence. Have we just seen a Prime Minister chosen by the 172,437 members of the Conservative party, or by the handful who put up the money?

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What if the Tories lose an Autumn 2022 General Election?

Superceded by the death of Queen Elizabeth, these were some thoughts on the possibility of a snap election

The temptation for Liz Truss to call a General Election soon after becoming Tory leader might be too much to resist. A shiny new leader might enable them to win. But I’m wondering about the other side: might they be planning to lose? In an ideal world they’d have done that before Boris Johnson’s position became completely untenable, but there’s a narrow window in which Truss might be able to lead per party to defeat and survive as leader by blaming her predecessor.

We need to think about this because it would inform our campaign and shape some difficult decisions afterwards.

Continue reading “What if the Tories lose an Autumn 2022 General Election?”

Choosing Johnson’s successor: a Tory attack on our democracy?

The problem with the present Tory leadership contest is that it looks worryingly like a presidential campaign. We’ve seen televised debates among the contenders, news of them, their campaigns, promises and policies. It sounds as if the winner will have a mandate to take the country in a new direction, though the voters are just the 0.3% of the population who happen to be members of the Conservative Party. Where is the public outcry?

Boris Johnson resigning as PM
This is part of a general trend to move power from Parliament to No.10 which has accelerated since the referendum. It includes the illegal prorogation of parliament in 2019, the use of “Henry VIII” powers to sideline parliament in the massive task of replacing EU-derived legislation and Johnson’s repeated bendings of the ministerial code.

These things have consequences:

It risks increasing alienation from politics. “First past the post” means there are many parts of the country where people feel their vote doesn’t matter. The Tories have found a way to make this much worse. Brexit might already be a consequence of this because of the people who voted Leave out of frustration at being ignored.

It pushes things to the extremes. Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss need to appeal only to their own party rather than connecting with the rest of the country. That’s particularly serious as there’s now more support for Brexit in the Conservative party than there in the country. EU-bashing and Brexit might help one of them get elected, but they are not in the national interest.

Continue reading “Choosing Johnson’s successor: a Tory attack on our democracy?”

Is Ukraine Putin’s moment of over-reach? (a very early thought, Feb 2022)

Was the 2008 crash a result of America spending more than it could afford on fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan? Might Ukraine be a moment when Putin also faces some harsh realities?

Journalism has been called “the first draft of history”. As the emerging story of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine unfolds, I’ve been thinking of this page of the “first draft”.

The 2008 financial crash began with problems in the sub-prime mortgage market in the US. One reading of this is that 9/11 shook the US to the core. Had it been in a stronger place, it might have been possible to seek a peaceful solution — borrowing language from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa to ask about grievances in the Middle East against the US. IF that had been possible, it might also have unlocked the possibility of an enduring peace in Israel / Palestine.

Instead, it found in the US, a global superpower struggling to accept its decline, that needed a show of power in the “war on terror”. An assumption that the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan would happily accept US-style democracy lead to an underestimating of the cost of this military intervention.
Continue reading “Is Ukraine Putin’s moment of over-reach? (a very early thought, Feb 2022)”

“Partygate” and authoritarianism: a bigger problem than the breaking of lockdown rules

People are rightly angry about “partygate” — but moves to make it easier to scrap EU protections and “unleash the benefits of Brexit” imply things are more serious than this.

The widespread anger at lockdown-breaking parties at Downing St in May 2020 is justified. But it is also a surprise that anyone is surprised. Johnson’s unsuitability for high office has been obvious (at least) since his time as Foreign Secretary. John Major has described Brexit as “the worst foreign policy mistake of my lifetime”: partygate, serious though it is, pales in comparison beside that.

As “Partygate” comes to its (first) climax there’s the announcment of a “Brexit freedom bill” (to unwind EU-derived law), and the front page of the Daily Express says “Boris vows to ‘unleash the benefits of Brexit’”.

I can’t be the only person who years echoes in that of “unleash the dogs of war” — a corruption of “Cry ‘Havoc!’, and let slip the dogs of war” in Shakespear’s Julius Caesar. Not a good omen.

Partygate anger

Anger is a pretty raw emotion. I suspect that what is being expressed around “partygate” includes pent-up frustrations over Covid, worry over the economic situation, anxiety over empty supermarket shelves, and fears over the direction of Brexit.
Continue reading ““Partygate” and authoritarianism: a bigger problem than the breaking of lockdown rules”

Are the Tories planning an early General Election? (Jan 2022)

Late in January 2022, Jacob Rees Mogg suggested that a change of Prime Minister would lead to an early General Election. He must know this isn’t true: are we being softened up for one?

Rees Mogg’s remarks have been read as an attempt to stop Tory MPs in former “red wall” seats siding against Boris Johnson, but aren’t these the Tory MPs with the strongest incentive to ensure that their party has a leader who people support?

What he’s reported to have said on Newsnight is:

“It is my view that we’ve moved, for better or worse, to an essentially presidential system and therefore the mandate is personal rather than entirely party [based] and any PM would be very well advised to seek a fresh mandate.”

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A government fuelling xenophobia… with tragic results

The end of November 2021 shone a spotlight on some very unsavoury attitudes towards people migrating to the UK, with the government making the situation worse, for political gain, rather than showing the wise leadership that would build a better society.

First there was a story that Dominic Raab had confirmed that the government is exploring ways of processing asylum seekers abroad, with ministers thinking of flying migrants to processing centres within seven days of arriving in the UK. There was a rumour, hotly-denied by the Albanian government, that people would be held in their country.

Then there was news of the Home Office covering up its own report on why migrants come to the UK because the actual evidence didn’t fit with a government narrative about there being a “pull factor” bringing people particularly to the UK.
Continue reading “A government fuelling xenophobia… with tragic results”

Covid and authoritarianism: were Liberal Democrats wrong-footed over Covid passports?

Civil liberties concerns over Covid Passports are misplaced — and opposing them risks fuelling the anxiety that is creating the space for increasingly authoritarian government behaviour

I’m hearing genuine concern about the increasing authoritarianism of the Johnson government and more complicated concerns about civil liberties and Covid regulations — particularly around the idea of Covid passports. But these are profoundly different. Joining them together is a bad idea, and plays into the government’s hands.

Creeping authoritarianism

The Tories thought nothing of illegally proroguing parliament. They responded to losing in the Supreme Court with a threat to stop “leftie lawyers” challenging the government. Proposals for compulsory voter identification and redrawing constituency boundaries are likely to help them at the next election, and they are alarmingly-happy to use “Henry VIII powers” to sideline parliament in facing the legislative consequences of Brexit. And it’s probably best not to mention the recent Conservative Party conference.
Continue reading “Covid and authoritarianism: were Liberal Democrats wrong-footed over Covid passports?”