Britons on the Brink

Captain Black's picture

"Wearing a T-shirt with the slogan “Fighting for the community” underneath an image of Redcar’s mothballed steelworks, Frankie Wales is preparing to take a training session at the town’s boxing club. Young men are sparring in the rings; others are hitting punchbags. “Nothing gets you fit like boxing,” says one, exhausted from the ring..."

“It is incredibly sad,” he says. “Not long ago they would go and work in the steelworks after school. Men round here made the finest steel in the world. Now they are making lattes and sandwiches on zero-hours contracts. We have lots of entrepreneurial kids, but the only entrepreneurial activity going on around here is selling fags and drugs.”... Like many communities in England’s north-east, the people of this North Yorkshire town, which bears the scars of industrial decline, and has a youth unemployment rate more than double the national average, made their unhappiness known in June 2016. They fought back."

Resentful or Resilient?

"The House Intelligence Committee on Friday released a classified memo alleging abuse of government surveillance powers by the Justice Department.

"Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci engaged in a heated exchange with a speechwriter for former President George W. Bush on Bill Maher's HBO program on Friday night, with Scaramucci at one point suggesting David Frum take a suppository and an "anger management class."

Scaramucci set the tone on "Real Time with Bill Maher" by joking about his short-lived stint as White House communications director in July 2017. "If you could redo one thing during your time at the White House, what would it be?" Maher asked. "The Ryan Lizza call," Scaramucci responded. "I probably wouldn't have had that one."    In a phone interview with then-New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza on July 27, Scaramucci unloaded on White House senior officials, including then-chief strategist Stephen Bannon. “I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own c---,” Scaramucci said of Bannon during the Lizza call. “I’m not trying to build my own brand off the f---ing strength of the President. I’m here to serve the country.”

After the show was over, Frum and Scaramucci appeared on the program's online-only "Overtime" segment, where matters became even more contentious. “Your anger toward Trump is clouding your judgment, by the way,” Scaramucci said to Frum. “A good anger management class would help you think a little more clearly.”  “Don’t let anger cloud your judgment — but don’t let your ambitions cloud your judgment," Frum responded. 

“What does that even mean?” said Scaramucci. “You talking about my ambition? I’d already lived a great life. I went in there to try to serve the country and help the middle and lower-class people that are struggling in this country."  “You gotta wake up, brother. You’re living in an ivory tower. Snap out of it. Drop the anger," he advised before suggesting Frum take a suppository.  “I’m not a weak guy,” said Frum. “You’re mean, and you’re angry,” Scaramucci replied. “I want to know what drug you’re on,” Maher asked Scaramucci. “He is very Michael Corleone. He doesn’t raise his voice, he’s a quiet killer.” “I’m a little bit too honest, though,” Scaramucci said, before directing his next comment at Frum. “I’m not the typical backstabbing Washingtonian.”"

"Prime Minister Theresa May is set to announce a crackdown on the intimidation of political candidates.  Later this week, she will say "it cannot be acceptable" for anyone to face threats over their political view. A 2017 report by the Committee on Standards in Public Life found women, ethnic minority and gay candidates were more likely to be targeted. Mrs May will also consider creating a new offence to protect those in politics and their families.  Currently, the law relates to undue influence on voters.  "In a speech marking 100 years since women got the vote, Mrs May will highlight British democracy's "robust and oppositional" nature but say a line has been crossed when disagreement turns to intimidation.  The prime minister will say political discussion is becoming harder to have without resulting in "tribalism and rancour".

The exploitation of social media and the option to be anonymous will also be highlighted. "It is time we asked ourselves seriously whether we really want it to be like this. Whether we are prepared to accept a permanent coarsening and toxifying of our public debate or whether, together, we will take a stand for decency, tolerance and respect," Mrs May will add. In her speech, the prime minister will say that from May 2019 candidates in local elections will no longer be forced to publish their address on ballot papers. 

This would offer them the same protection as UK parliamentary candidates, who are not required to state where they live.  Mrs May will also cite examples where certain individuals and their families had been targeted at home."

"Debate may still be raging in London about soft and hard Brexits as Remainers call for a second referendum, but in Redcar it is a done deal. Here the Leave mantra about “taking back control” is to be taken pretty much literally."



Captain Black's picture

On the Bong

"Anything which brings together Rees-Mogg, Bracknell and Redcar is going to be an extremist disaster. There is in reality no differences between the three. All are little Englanders, dreaming of empire and some starry eyed view of the 1940s as seen in The Daily Mail and Rupert’s mouthpieces.

Stupid is as stupid does....."

"Will Remain win a second referendum ?

It isn't enough that people are angry, you have to "know your enemy", to use a phrase from the Nation's Favourite War *, and the stalwart Leave folks in Redcar don't know squat.

While one utterly despises the organisers of Brexit and the Trump campaign their sheer single-minded brilliance has to be acknowledged - if not we will lose to them again and again. They both exploited the permanent default standbys of cold-eyed, cynical, manipulative conservatives through the ages - fear and hatred.

In Britain the Leave campaign subliminally linked the hatred of one group of foreigners / outsiders, the "Europeans", to a quite different group, the amorphous non-European "migrants". All of them were coming to take "our" jobs, houses, school places, hospital beds, the imbecilic premise underlying this threat being that any given country possesses an absolutely and mysteriously limited number of these goods which cannot be increased to accommodate an increase in population.

Most of the people in Redcar who voted Leave will vote Leave again. You can't persuade them, you can't educate them, you can't enlighten them, because all these things require an extended attention span, and complex arguments which don't fit in a monosyllabic headline. They require the eradication of visceral fear and hatred. They require the ability to see the billionaire manipulators who carefully maintain their cloak of invisibility, rather than the all too visible photoshopped migrant hordes besieging our coasts.

Apart from those who have a visceral dislike of foreigners, there are millions of British voters who cannot follow an economic argument, because the education system encourages exam orientated learning designed for low skilled drudges at the expense of critical thought, and because modern communications technology, including our beloved internet, have shredded and contracted their attention span. The optimum length for a political message in the USA is now three seconds.

So you can't convert the Leavers, but you can outvote them. If it comes to a second referendum it will all be down to mobilising the Remain vote and persuading those who reluctantly or despairingly accept Brexit as a dozen deal that we can stop this juggernaut in its tracks.

* Not sure if we have had that vote yet, but if we haven't it's only a matter of time."

The mind boggles ...


Captain Black's picture

The Big Whoppers

"We are constantly being fed lies. Like the one where Leave supporters say we need to be outside the EU customs union in order to trade outside the EU. Germany is the third biggest exporter in the world. Germany's second biggest trading partner is China. Germany values citizens with foreign language skills. Germany manufactures products of high quality. Germany has a reputation for hard work, strict regulations, respect, commitment to the rule of law, delivering on its promises, looking outward and forward. In contrast UK is in every respect lazy, insular, backward looking, poorly educated, discourteous, untrustworthy, all qualities currently being demonstrated by our negotiators and well exemplified by DD in his recent select committee appearance."

"What this article explains loud and clear is that addressing regional need is critical. We can, as many have, say you should move to where the work is...but it is a rather blunt and clumsy message. I moved away from my home area to earn, as many have. But I do feel a strong connection to that area and am if truthful a little resentful that I had to leave friends and family. Additionally it has placed a lot of pressure on me as my mother is severely disabled. We can't lose sight that not everyone has total flexibility on where they live. I do empathise with the position in Redcar. Whether remaining in the EU would have been net beneficial to these regions I think is in crystal ball territory personally. We can say they will do worse because of trade loss. Possibly. Or we could see a trajectory where closer integration in the EU means attending to regional need is even more clumsy than in a national government. (Greece certainly didn't find the EU massively supportive in its crisis). So time will tell. It is far from a clear choice."

tis like Devolution distillled, innit...

The more I read the Guardian ... the less I like it.

Anyhoos ... back to the 'blink' and you missed it :

Nasty, habits...  and todays Magic word is ;-)



Captain Black's picture

Northern Rock

""We're always concerned when the market loses any value but we're also confident in the economy's fundamentals."

The fall surpasses a previous record 777.68 points drop on the Dow Jones during the financial crisis in 2008.

That came after Congress rebuffed a $700bn bank bailout plan following the collapse of investment bank Lehman Brothers.

US investors are reacting to small but significant changes in the outlook for the US economy, and what that might mean for the cost of borrowing.

The stock market sell-off began on Friday when the US Labour Department released employment numbers which showed stronger growth in wages than was anticipated.

If salaries rise, the expectation is that people will spend more and push inflation higher...

To keep that under control, America's central bank will need to raise interest rates, which is what has spooked investors who were expecting the US Federal Reserve to increase rates only two or three times this year.

They now fear there may be a few more interest rate rises on the horizon..."

"After 1856 Martian days among blue sunsets, sand dunes and small, lumpy moons, the Mars rover Curiosity sat on the ridge of an ancient lake bed and looked back on its five-year-long journey so far.

NASA has released a composite photo of what Curiosity saw in October and, if the rover could breathe, it might gasp..."

"Naturally, it made time for a few selfies on the way... Then it made its way towards the dunes, slowly, pausing again and again to take pictures or stare at eclipses or make art in the sand - a robot that knows getting there is half the fun."

Northern Rock was nationalised in February 2008.

Ah, so ...

Benefitz Betty's picture

The New Statesman & YoGo

“People instinctively feel part of Yorkshire. It’s a recognisable brand. People go to football matches and they’ll shout ‘Yorkshire! Yorkshire!’ They don’t have that same sense of identity to the Sheffield City Region.”

"Yorkshire’s economy is larger than that of 11 EU states. Its population of over five million puts it on a par with Scotland. It is twice the size of Northern Ireland with almost three times as many people. There are twice as many people in Yorkshire as there are in Wales. But these places, unlike Yorkshire, already enjoy the benefits of considerable devolved powers at the assemblies in Holyrood, Stormont and Cardiff Bay."

"The prospect of an historic Yorkshire devolution deal could be put at risk by politicians “pursuing their tribal instincts to protect what they have now got”, former Deputy Prime Minister Michael Heseltine warned today...

“It would be ill-advised for me to trespass on the comings and goings, shall we put it, that are now underway. There are some interesting potential developments. I hope very much that they will actually develop into the real thing.

“I just have one or two points to make about that, I wonder whether those who are pursuing their tribal instincts to protect what they have now got realise the damage that does in the corridors of power in London.

“What it really says is that they can’t even agree on this or that, how can we trust them with the major resources and the major shift of power they are asking for, that they can’t even reach agreement.

“Reaching an agreement and implementing that agreement is a fundamental confidence-building factor, and I hope very much that I can say with humility that I can’t see why what’s possible west of the Pennines has so far not yet been achieved east of the Pennines.”

"MPs, peers, council leaders and chief executives were at the meeting of the APPG today, along with Mr Javid and Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry.

In a statement, 18 of Yorkshire’s 20 council leaders welcomed the fact that the Government wouldn’t stand in the way of a One Yorkshire proposal.

They said: “The Secretary of State requested as a next step that he would want to see concrete proposals and Leaders made clear that given the level of agreement across Yorkshire that these could be submitted to Government rapidly. Indeed leaders will be meeting next week to discuss these detailed proposals.”

Oh Dear ...

Meanwhile: A Change of Tone?

How very disturbing...

tbh I thought the 'Dodger' was about to pop it ...

Thou must not scratch ... 


Benefitz Betty's picture

Major Marches In

"... “Every one of the Brexit promises is – to quote Henry Fielding – ‘a very wholesome and comfortable doctrine to which (there is) but one objection: namely, that it is not true’”, he said.

“I know of no precedent for any government enacting a policy that will make both our country and our people poorer. Once that is apparent, the government must change course.”

"Major, who helped build the groundwork for peace in Northern Ireland, also hit out at recent calls to ignore the dangers of restoring border control. “We need a policy to protect the Good Friday agreement – and we need one urgently,” he said. “And it is our responsibility to find one ... "

The former prime minister withheld his strongest criticism for Brexit ultras taking the Tory party away from its pro-business roots.

"... “Our self-imposed ‘red lines’ have boxed the government into a corner,” he added. “They are so tilted to ultra Brexit opinion, even the cabinet cannot agree them – and a majority in both houses of parliament oppose them. If maintained in full, it will be impossible to reach a favourable trade outcome.”

Warning that 125,000 jobs with Japanese companies could be lost in the UK, he said “none of it has yet been properly explained to the British people”.

“No one voted for higher prices and poorer public services, but that is what they may get,” said Major. “The emerging evidence suggests Brexit will hurt most those who have least ... This isn’t ‘Project Fear’ revisited, it is ‘Project Know Your History’.”

He delivered a veiled attack on fellow former Tory prime minister David Cameron, who recently suggested in Davos that Brexit may not be a total disaster.

“In recent weeks, the idea has gained ground that Brexit won’t be too bad; that we will all get through it; that we’re doing better than expected – and all will be well,” said Major. “Of course we will get through it: life as we know it won’t come to an end. We are too resourceful and talented a nation for that. But our nation is owed a frank assessment of what leaving Europe may mean – for now and the future.”

This, he said, is the “patriotic” argument to make, chastising those who argue he and other critics are letting the country down. “We are all urged to be ‘patriotic’ and get behind Brexit. But it is precisely because I am patriotic that I oppose it,” said Major.

“There must be respect for differing views that are honestly held. In this debate there are no ‘remoaners’, no ‘mutineers’, no ‘enemies of the people’ – just voices setting out what they believe is right for our country.”


"In 1950s America, when retail was taking off as a leisure activity and baby-boomers were in pushchairs and short trousers, the time was right for a huge, Aladdin's cave of toys, that could overwhelm children with a wealth of choice.

In the 1990s, the model still worked for UK shoppers keen to pick up the latest Furby, Power Ranger or Tamagotchi.

At the time, cheaper out-of-town real estate with purpose-built free parking, plus places to eat, offered an easy weekend day out.

"It was ceiling-to-floor toys. It was a destination," says retail analyst Kate Hardcastle from Insight With Passion.

But these days, out-of-town can mean out-of-sight compared with rival outlets.

We're more likely to pick up a fidget-spinner or some loom-bands on the way to the supermarket till or be lured into a High Street shop as we stroll past by the sight of someone demonstrating a remote-controlled helicopter."

The Resilient.


Captain Black's picture

The Glass Slipper

"The sands of time have been washed away at Redcar - revealing the petrified forest which lies beneath.

Last week’s bad weather and heavy tides removed swathes of sand from the beach.

And it means that at low tide, the remains of a vast forest of birch, oak, beech and sycamore trees can be seen more clearly than for some time.

The first written account of the submerged forest at Redcar dates from 1871, when even preserved red deer antlers and wild boar tusks were found.

The remains of long-forgotten wrecked boats have also been spotted from time to time..."

The Polar Vortex?

"Flooding is going to be the first problem. The rivers don't seem to be getting too full but that's probably because the snow upon the hillsides hasn't melted yet. The longer term problem is the fact that frost and water get into the road surface wherever there's a crack and then that starts to create even more potholes. 

We have a long term plan for mending those but unfortunately at this time of year, you can only do a little bit of patch up."

All very Jackanory ...

The Un-Enchanted.