Top European Military, I don’t think so.

Top European Military, I don’t think so.

Boris Johnson alleges that the UK is the strongest military power in Europe, or Western Europe anyway. It’s not true, France spends more and has more of most things and more people. Just another lie.

This was made using nationmaster,com, France has more of everything except Attack Helicopters and Submarines which are likely to the result of different doctrines. I selected the categories as the most suitable to tell the story, which is about capability i,e, I have not dropped anything to skew the result. I am surprised that the French have four aircraft carriers …

Steps towards a closer relationship with the EU.

I have just viewed the video, pointed at by this post on Brexit Watch.

He talks about the obvious, and the splits in Labour’s current leadership. He talks about the hardening of Labour’s views on a US vs EU trade deal, the transition from Thornbury to Symons-Thomas. He mentions the poll lead and its historic size although notes we lost in 2015, partly because the neo-liberals in the party sabotaged Miliband’s attempts to differentiate ourselves. In response to the question what do we do short of a single market, he states we need to be in it, even if we disguise the fact. Lots of facts on how trade is down the toilet and that the best levelling up policy would be to regain, non-tariff barrier free access to the single market. This would help manufacturing which remains the single largest source of R&D expense and permit a levelling up agenda, and an anti-climate change investment. He mentions that rejoining the single market would massively ease the problems of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Luke calls for Labour, presumably after it comes to Government, to renegotiate the TCA to synchronise regulation and citizenship, and make revised settlement on security & crime. The TCA has strict level playing field clauses and so there is little benefit to the ‘sovereignty’ of Brexit; he alleges that Labour’s leadership will not accept anything called free movement, despite the fact that we have a common travel area with Eire; and so he proposes to negotiate a liberal visa scheme, revising the income qualification and removing employer sponsorship; we need an immigration policy that recognises we need young workers as well as bring some skills to come here. . I am not sure that Starmer will go that far or that fast, with Reeves and Nandy in key roles in the Cabinet, although Lammy holds the Foreign Office, it seems we are back not so much to constructive ambiguity, more an attempt to constructive silence.

These are my version of today’s demands on the Labour Leadership although I believe that we will have to rejoin the single market to solve the Northern Ireland problem, but neither Labour nor the country are quite ready for that. It’s our task to change that.  …

England’s founders

England’s founders

Andrew Adonis, on Twitter, has challenged us to name three people as founders of England. I thought that’s a good game. Who would I choose?

What is England? I think it needs to be seen as defined by its Parliament, its capitalist economy and its social wage, the remaining jewel of which is the NHS. So I nominate the Immortal 7, Sir Robert Peel, and Aneurin Bevan.

The Immortal Seven are seven members of the House of Lords who invited William of Orange to England to ensure a protestant succession. Modern historians may argue about the extent this established Parliament as the supreme authority but it is generally considered the act that ended the English Civil Wars and started us down the road to our current constitution.

Sir Robert Peel not only founded the Tory Party but the Joint Stock Companies Act was also passed under his stewardship, I toyed with Marx as an observer of Capitalism and Brunel as the innovator/entrepreneur, except he wasn’t, but capitalism is about capital mobility and capital markets and so that Act which enabled these two things to happen.

Our benefit system is in tatters, Beveridge and Keynes will be turning in their graves, but the NHS remains, and it seems we have to associate Bevan with it. Bevan is of course Welsh.

At least one commentator on the twitter thread makes the point that analysing history through the lives of single people is not wise.

Left by the wayside are Henry VIII, Oliver Cromwell & Horatio Nelson …

An arithmetic concept

I am considering again, the role of Presidents of presidential republcs. Democracy means that the voice of the governed is heard, and is ideally final, that programmes are accountable to the people and the rights of the minority respected. Presidents, Leaders. or General Secretaries with weak mandates have the power and inclination to ignore the majority of their demos. Trump’s presidency among others proves that the argument, “that’s how it works” leads to crisis. Democracy is more than an arithmetic concept.  …

Tanks

I went to the Tank Museum yesterday and took some pictures.

Challanger

It was interesting to visit the the week following the fall of Kabul; it makes at least one of the exhibits look a bit vainglorious. It also reminds me that I didn’t finish my story of the future of the Royal Armoured Corps from Boris’ defence review. It all makes me wonder about whether NATO can survive, and yet again, whether in areas of defence policy we see another dimension of the stupidity of Brexit.

There’s more to learn; on one slide they observe how the Army is always preparing for the last war. Reinforcing that I note that Tanks were invented during WWI in a Navy project, that like so many stories, the adoption in this case of the Tank was adopted by odd balls and that their was significant opposition bypowerul conservative (not Tory) factions in the Army, to the extent that during WW2 the Army fired Major General Hobart, and had to bring him back. Hobart, was not born into a military family and was assigned to the Royal Engineers; he became the Deputy Director of Staff Duties (Armoured Fighting Vehicles), he later became Director of Military Training and was the founder of the 7th Armoured Division, the Desert Rats. There are many more examples of the slow adoption by the Army of the necessary tactics and technology, perhaps I’ll look them up and write something, if its not been done (I am sure it has).

As one walks in, the first exhibit talks about the design trilemma, of armour, firepower and mobility, a theme they revisit in commenting on a number of exhibits but if one recognises that the best tanks of the WWII were the US designed Sherman and Soviet T34, it becomes clear that cost, and manufacturing simplicity were also key. While tank on tank the allied tanks were inferior to their opponents, the allied forces had more than enough because they were simpler to make by design and the allied manufacturing capability was so much greater.  …

The Northern Ireland Protocol

The Northern Ireland Protocol

I was originally going to write something which I hope might be profound or provoking, but in the end, this just noted more of the Govt's myopia. Northern Ireland Protocol was agreed to avoid border infrastructure on the island of Ireland. The UK Govt agreed ... Boris and the DUP blew up May's previous solution to the problem , which was to belong to the Customs Union while working out something better. I look at the 'command' paper, which is an attempt to renegotiate the Northern Ireland Protocol, part of the Withdrawal Agreement which left Northern Ireland in the EU’s customs area for the purposes of intra-Ireland trade. It looks at the EU's response. ...

Wiggle room on human rights law

Wiggle room on human rights law

I made a linkedin blog on the ECtHR’s margin of appreciation. I was reading up on the UK’s post Brexit data sharing arrangements with the EU, and under the terms of the GDPR. I was diverted by the ECHR’s doctrine of a “margin of appreciation”.

Broadly speaking it refers to the room for manoeuvre the Strasbourg institutions are prepared to accord national authorities in fulfilling their obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Steven Greer Reader in Law, University of Bristol,United Kingdom

Human Rights law is designed to constrain governments but will always require interpretation. The doctrine means that the rights of interpretation are shared between the ECtHR and the signatory states, who themselves will divide this between their courts and executive branch.  

This seems sensible, as I observed, when the British courts were busy interfering with the CPSA in the ‘80’s and undermines the argument of foreign interference because where there is a benefit of doubt, the ECtHR can allow the otherwise infringing government that benefit.

With respect to the cross border transfer regulation, this might make it easier to comply with the law, but there are several outstanding problems. With respect to international data sharing, the most relevant to the doctrine of appreciation and this article is that, the UK is now an ex-member-state and while the Commission argues this means that the UK’s data protection regime is suitable, the fact it is now a 3rd country means that the UK has less legal privileges to exercise its “margin of appreciation” as the powers granted to member states to vary/diminish the protections in Article 23, no longer apply. This was observed and commented on by the House of Lords Select Committee report on Brexit in 2017. See also,

I was reading this article, which makes it much clearer, that the ECtHR looks to defer to national institutions, where it can,

According to the classical position of the ECtHR State authorities “are in principle in a better position than the international judge to give an opinion” on the “necessity” and “proportionality” of a derogation or restriction authorized by human rights law. As a consequence, international courts “should grant national authorities an important degree of deference and respect their discretion” with regard to the implementation of exceptions. Thus, without precluding judicial review of a State’s action in this field, the doctrine intends to “limit the scope of this review” and to impose some degree of judicial self-restraint where an assessment of the attitude of national authorities is concerned.

Theodre Christakis

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Without Track & Trace, it’s just herd immunity

Without Track & Trace, it’s just herd immunity

Today should have been either Freedom Day or a more mundane, lifting of all lockdown restrictions. It isn’t. It’s been postponed by four weeks. I remain uncomfortable about the Govt’s (and Labour’s) approach and its sole reliance on vaccines. I came across a tweet today from Deepti Gurdasani , who has taken up the issue of pandemic response and, in my mind, talks about the fact that the Govt. are still pursuing a herd immunity strategy and the the failure and loss of trust in track and trace is a critical weakness in the UK response. She also pointed me at the serious escalating evidence of the crippling damage of “long covid”. and at the John Snow Memo.

It seems to be about 1 year old, and says, among other things,

In the absence of adequate provisions to manage the pandemic and its societal impacts, these countries have faced continuing restrictions. This has understandably led to widespread demoralisation and diminishing trust. …

Any pandemic management strategy relying upon immunity from natural infections for COVID-19 is flawed. … Furthermore, there is no evidence for lasting protective immunity to SARS-CoV-2 following natural infection and the endemic transmission that would be the consequence of waning immunity would present a risk to vulnerable populations for the indefinite future. …

Effective measures that suppress and control transmission need to be implemented widely, and they must be supported by financial and social programmes that encourage community responses and address the inequities that have been amplified by the pandemic.

The John Snow Memo

We, i.e. the UK, need an effective and trusted track and trace, which we don’t have, thanks to Hancock and Harding. Without it, we are just using sticking plaster to mend a broken leg! …