Streetwise Professor

November 18, 2020

The Anglosphere: Hurtling Down the Road to Serfdom

Filed under: Climate Change,Economics,Energy,Politics,Regulation,Uncategorized — cpirrong @ 7:07 pm

From 911 through the early days of the invasion of Iraq, there were some on the right who argued that the Anglosphere–the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand–would save the world from a dark future. I was always skeptical, because it was evident that the Commonwealth countries in particular were already hurtling down the road to serfdom: from the earliest days of this blog, I referred to the UK as the “Ghost of Christmas Future,” because its embrace of collectivism and political correctness bode ill for the US.

Recent events have validated that skepticism–and how. I could cite many verses in many chapters, but two recent developments make the point.

The first is covid. The allegedly doughty Anglosphere has been as been as much of a collectivist collection of bedwetters and repressers as any country or group of countries in the world. The panic and consequent lockdown policies are largely attributable to the hysterical predictions of University College London’s crack–as in crackpot–epidemiological modelers. And the government’s panicked response thereto. The UK locked down once–to little effect. It is now locked down again, with progressively more draconian restrictions on normal life.

The evidentiary basis for this: zip, zilch, nada. There is no evidence that lockdowns improve public health outcomes, and there is considerable evidence that they don’t. There is evidence beyond counting that the economic and health consequences of lockdowns is severe. All pain. No gain.

Parts of Australia have also imposed draconian lockdowns, complete with police state enforcement methods and limitations on individual freedom. Ditto New Zealand. Canada has also been highly restrictive.

These efforts have been statist and collectivist in the extreme, with the smattering of protests about liberty being screeched down by the better thans who have proven themselves utterly impotent, not to mention incompetent. But we’re supposed to obey them. Because they give incantations to SCIENCE!

The other telling indicator of the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the Anglosphere elites is climate policy. The UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand are all hard core worshippers in the Church of Climate Change (while the pews of the Church of England are empty, notably).

Australia has implemented policies intended to displace totally fossil fuels within a short time frame, substituting renewables in their place. This has had a too small to measure impact on global climate, but has blessed Australia with more expensive and less reliable electricity.

Not to be outdone, “Conservative” British PM Boris Johnson said “hold my ale,” and has just announced a grandiose “green industrial revolution.”

Note to Boris: the original industrial revolution was an endogenous, self-generated process that massively improved living standards; your proposed “industrial revolution” is a government-driven, centrally planned process that will produce penury in exchange for trivial environmental benefits (and indeed, may involve serious environmental harm, when the consequences of mining, distorted land usage, etc., are considered). To compare what happened in the 18th and 19th centuries to what you propose for the 21st is an abuse of language that staggers the imagination.

So what is Boris’ Big Plan? This:

“My ten point plan will create, support and protect hundreds of thousands of green jobs, whilst making strides towards net zero by 2050.

“Our green industrial revolution will be powered by the wind turbines of Scotland and the North East, propelled by the electric vehicles made in the Midlands and advanced by the latest technologies developed in Wales, so we can look ahead to a more prosperous, greener future.”

The push forms part of the UK’s pledge to go carbon neutral by 2050, and comes ahead of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow next year.

The plans include producing enough offshore wind to power every home, quadrupling how much Britain produces to 40GW by 2030, which would support up to 60,000 jobs.

It also aims to generate 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030, and develop the first town heated entirely by hydrogen by the end of the decade.

The UK Government also wants to advance nuclear as a clean energy source to help support 10,000 jobs.

Then there are wider plans for electric vehicles, public transport and well as an expansion of cycle and walk routes.

Mr Johnson will also discuss making homes more energy efficient, creating 50,000 jobs by 2030 and installing 600,000 heat pumps every year by 2028.

In other words, like California, except with crappy weather.

The key word is “plan.” It’s Boris’ 10 Year Plan. Maybe Boris can borrow from Lenin and promote it with a slogan: “Utopia is Tory government combined with green electrification of the entire country.”

It bears all of the intellectual defects of such grandiose schemes. The reliance on centralized decision making. The focus on dictating technological means for achieving an objective–and relying on technologies that are either unproven, or extremely unlikely to be scalable (wind energy in particular). Further, the monomaniacal agenda: reducing CO2 emissions, to the exclusion of any consideration. Putting aside that CO2 is what makes things green, there is apparently no consideration of the environmental consequences (e.g., from mining) of large scale wind power and battery usage (in autos and to make intermittent wind a reasonable power source). Nor is there consideration of other trade-offs: what are the costs, in terms of foregone output and opportunities, of pursuing this single goal? What are the benefits that will be achieved?

Further, the entire agenda is profoundly anti-freedom. The private automobile was the greatest liberating force of the 20th century–which is why the left hates it with such a passion. Boris’ (not so) green electric machines will be far more costly, and far more limiting, making them more expensive and less useful to the hoi polloi. The policy obviously aims to push the proles onto public transport. Yeah. I’m sure British train service will get so much better. And even if it does, it is inherently more regimented and limiting than autonomous personal transport.

I guarantee that this effort will be a bacchanal of rent seeking, incompetence, and failure. If you doubt this, contemplate the multiple failures of the UK government’s covid responses like testing and test-and-trace. But sure, they will totally nail a complete re-engineering of the entire energy system!

If Boris et al really believe that CO2 is a deadly menace, then tax it and get the hell out of the way. Let individuals figure out the most efficient way to trade-off carbon vs. other human wants. This centrally planned approach is doomed to failure. Which means that the green industrial revolution may spark a real revolution when Britain sinks into penury. While sitting in the dark and cold.

Again, climate policy is merely an example. I could go on. But it illustrates the Anglosphere’s descent into collectivism and statism and corporatism: and alas, the US–at least about half of it–want to follow them all the way down.

The beginning of this descent can be dated to the end of WWII. Churchill’s loss in 1945 is probably a good starting point. The pace of decline has varied over time: things were so dire by the late-1970s in the UK that Thatcher came to power and slowed, and in some cases reversed the decline. But it has resumed apace, and the adoption of green energy lunacy by an ostensibly conservative government suggests that the decline is now irreversible.

In some ways, Australia’s decline is the most depressing. Once upon a time Oz was more individualist, and disdainful of the pommy bastards. There was a kinship between Australia and the American west, a frontier kinship as it were. But that seems largely a thing of the past.

This came home to me when I re-watched the Mad Max trilogy last week. Watching those paeans to rugged individualism (personified by Mel Gibson’s Max), then reading about Australia today (especially the lockdowns in Victoria and the dysfunctional energy policies), I said to myself: “What the hell happened to you?”

Well, whatever happened to them has happened to the Anglosphere as a whole. (Don’t even get me started on Canada, ex Alberta.)

And it is happening to the US too. The recent election results, and many other political developments, suggest that at most half the country resists joining the UK et al on the road to serfdom. And that half is politically marginalized–perhaps by electoral manipulations engineered by the other half.

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  1. You’ve probably already seen this:

    Comment by Titan28 — November 18, 2020 @ 7:53 pm

  2. Great insight! I feer that the Anglosphere will absolutely be the worst place to be during the upcoming “reset”. The population is generally very obedient and low-information, not a good combination.

    Comment by Mark — November 18, 2020 @ 9:25 pm

  3. These guys are all reading from a script.

    Comment by Dieselboom! — November 18, 2020 @ 9:53 pm

  4. Vis-a-vis the UK, the fact of the matter is that Boris is sh*t out of ideas with regards to what the UK ought to be doing (not that he had any to begin with), and we’ve been diddling around with various industrial strategies for as long as I can remember without any real impact. I’ve always said we should just look at what Germany is doing and copy it in its entirety: the language, bierkellers, lederhosen, England uber alles, the whole nine yards. If we did we may even win another World Cup in my lifetime.

    Comment by David Mercer — November 19, 2020 @ 6:02 am

  5. Well Prof, you have been massively wrong about COVID.

    At the end of June you said that death were inexorably declining since they peaked, and proof that we will be reaching herd immunity prior to flu season. At the end of June deaths stood at 130k, and have now doubled to 260k. Maybe time to revisit your assumptions about the virus and how governments should combat it?

    Comment by [email protected] — November 19, 2020 @ 7:22 am

  6. To quote the Prof’s friend, blogger Tim Newmann, Australia might be about to “disappear up it’s own arse” with all the political correctness.

    As regards lockdowns, I’d argue that it’s the dose that makes the poison: From my perspective (again, sorry for being the “well, here in France…” guy but it’s what I have the best view on), the lockdown was eased rapidly as the hospitals became less saturated, and it stayed that way until hospitals began to saturate again. So three weeks ago we went back into lockdown, and lo, the numbers of people on breathing machines is starting to come back down again in recent days, and so the lockdown will end soon and the economic harm, so far anyway, doesn’t appear to be as catastrophic as in other places. So, it works fine when used correctly…
    That said, the never-ending lockdowns and restrictions that are strangling the anglophone world (notably Ireland, which is behaving ridiculously, though I believe similarly to certain parts of Oz) are a different beast altogether.

    Finally, electric cars are almost certain to get cheaper. Check out the conference talks given by Tony Seba – he’s been scoffed at for predicting outlandishly optimistic price and adoption numbers for batteries and electric cars for years, only for the world to finally to prove him not optimistic enough. He makes a very compelling case that within 10 years, electric cars will be better and cheaper than fossil fuel cars (except maybe the charging times).

    Comment by HibernoFrog — November 19, 2020 @ 7:45 am

  7. Once the most powerful country on earth is now ruled by complete lunatics! They are planning giant changes to their economy without estimating the costs of such fantastic projects.
    Lord Lawson is right about them:

    Comment by mmt — November 19, 2020 @ 8:19 am

  8. Apparently covid can cause you to die from a motorcycle crash:

    Anybody who doesn’t recognize by now that this is all a numbers game is either a fool or a liar. The risks the disease poses to the general population does not even remotely justify shutting down the economy and putting the population under house arrest.

    Comment by Dieselboom! — November 19, 2020 @ 8:29 am

  9. There are signs of push-back in Western Europe:

    The obvious coordination of draconian lock-downs (with synchronized media hysteria and fear-mongering) across the globe is an indication that the oligarchs are shit-scared of an impending financial collapse (cracks started to appear last fall when JP Morgan began a run on the shadow banking system, as happened in ’08). So right now it’s a question of who blinks first: the people or the (increasingly isolated) rulers. The usual “solution” in such cases by the ruling class is of course war. And LOL at anyone stupid enough to think that Biden won’t pursue the very same aggressive policies towards Iran and China that Trump did.

    Comment by Dieselboom! — November 19, 2020 @ 9:02 am

  10. @Dieselboom!: Or you could just, you know, demand accurate statistics from your government before jumping straight to outlandish conspiracy theories.

    Comment by HibernoFrog — November 19, 2020 @ 10:07 am

  11. @10 Hiberno

    I guess the answer is “both” in your case.

    Comment by Dieselboom! — November 19, 2020 @ 10:14 am


    Comment by Dieselboom! — November 19, 2020 @ 10:28 am

  13. @mmt And it gets worse. Hot on the heels of the green revolution announced earlier this week, today we learnt that the UK govt plans to embark on a defence spending spree, with an aspiration to get us back to the global naval power we once were (presumably in a lame attempt to boost the defence industry, ahead of us laying waste to our automotive and aerospace sectors with a super-hard Brexit). smh

    Comment by David Mercer — November 19, 2020 @ 12:53 pm

  14. @David Mercer And they are simultaneously going to get rid of tanks. British government wants to boost one part of its army while destroying the other part. It looks weird.

    Comment by mmt — November 19, 2020 @ 1:26 pm

  15. From the numbers we have available so far, there is no obvious health vs economic trade off visible –

    I don’t buy the suggestion in the article that you can safely infer some causal relationship between death rate and economic hit but there’s certainly nothing in the numbers so far to suggest that countries that have taken a more relaxed approach have limited the damage to their economies. At the very least there are plenty of examples of countries which responded with fairly draconian lockdown policies which have suffered relatively minor hits to their economic output.

    I think you’re on more solid ground arguing from an ideological position – and consider the cost in terms of removing individual liberties. At best the economic indicators are mixed (SO FAR).

    Comment by derriz — November 19, 2020 @ 3:02 pm

  16. @15

    “At the very least there are plenty of examples of countries which responded with fairly draconian lockdown policies which have suffered relatively minor hits to their economic output.”

    Can you give some examples? (BTW if you include China, then you’ve automatically lost all credibility.)

    Comment by Dieselboom! — November 19, 2020 @ 3:46 pm

  17. @16 – There are plenty of examples Dieselboom! Notably South Korea, Japan, Finland, Norway, New Zealand, Estonia (per a recently published OECD report). They note that the countries share past experiences of infectious disease outbreaks, similar population structure and relatively low cross-border flows of people.

    Comment by [email protected] — November 20, 2020 @ 8:05 am

  18. I don’t think it’s accurate to characterize Japan’s response as “draconian”:

    Comment by Dieselboom! — November 20, 2020 @ 8:26 am

  19. @17 – “fairly draconian” 🙂 – granted it looks like it relied heavily on voluntary compliance, which I would guess is pretty high in Japanese society (mask wearing was common even before COVID). And people who tested positive were quarantined in hotels (according to what I read in the FT)

    Comment by [email protected] — November 20, 2020 @ 8:51 am

  20. @19

    Weasel words.

    Comment by Dieselboom! — November 20, 2020 @ 9:01 am

  21. ha! A nice weekend to you too 🙂

    Comment by [email protected] — November 20, 2020 @ 9:03 am

  22. While we’re on the subject, South Korea’s response eschewed lock-downs and restrictions of movement in favor of massive surveillance and data collection. Does that qualify as draconian (fairly or otherwise)? It’s creepy as hell, without a doubt, and unacceptable to anyone who supports liberty, but at least it was designed to avoid suppression of economic activity.

    Comment by Dieselboom! — November 20, 2020 @ 9:38 am

  23. Yes, let’s say that were draconian measures, and the economic hit to South-Korea’s economy was relatively light. So that qualifies as an example.

    Comment by [email protected] — November 20, 2020 @ 9:53 am

  24. Covid is real to be sure, but it is being used as yet another “manufactured disaster” to keep the focus on collective action and control rather than on individual liberties. It’s a card that’s been played over and over by the deepcorporatestaters (DEECS for short) to keep the monthly “subscriptions”, allocations and grants coming in. The fact that covid is spiking here is actually an warning sign that strategy is fraying. People are doing what they want to, consequences or public shaming be damned. That I believe is good news, and suggests the Professor may be a little too pessimistic.

    Comment by Dh — November 20, 2020 @ 4:25 pm

  25. @24 Dh

    They’re overplaying their hand, to be sure. If they had just used this as cover to bail out the banks (yet again), it might have worked. But the oligarchs are getting greedy (or desperate) and going full retard with their “Great Reset”. Even the sheep notice shit like that. It’s amusing to see the NYT dismiss the Reset as a dreaded “conspiracy theory” while oligarch servants like Trudeau and Kerry literally speak openly of it.

    Comment by Dieselboom! — November 20, 2020 @ 5:11 pm

  26. @25, could not agree more. Readers should have a look at the WEF’s video on The Great Reset with Goal #1 “You’ll own nothing and be happy about it”, you’ll rent everything and it will be delivered to you by drogues, and on and on. Tell me who among you is prepared to give up everything you’ve worked for and now own and hand it over to these communists? No one, unless you are stark raving mad. Our rudderless ‘leaders’ should be very worried because when those of us who still have our courage have had enough then look out for revolution. In the US it will be between The Coasts and The Centre, in Australia likely between the older generation and the snowflakes or between country folk versus the city walking dead. American gun sales have gone thru the roof these last 6 months so Mr Bidet be very, very careful.

    Comment by Epicurious — November 20, 2020 @ 7:34 pm

  27. @26 Epicurious

    It is funny to watch them fail to keep track of their own bullshit; I imagine Pravda had the same problem at the end. The Great Reset will follow the same pattern as the Deep State did:

    1. Deny its reality, dismiss it as a figment of right-wing paranoia, etc.
    2. Acknowledge its existence, but claim its activities are being exaggerated or distorted by the right
    3. Admit that it’s doing exactly what was claimed by the right, but that these objectives are necessary, correct, etc. and opposition is due to backwardness, racism, etc.

    Comment by Dieselboom! — November 20, 2020 @ 8:40 pm

  28. The Welfare state turns into the Nanny state. The nanny state infantilises the proletariat. (Proles, latin = child) Infants cannot be trusted to make wise decisions. And so liberty dies.

    Comment by philip — November 21, 2020 @ 4:42 am

  29. I always tell my friends from across the pond there is a reason we left. Some of us forgot the reason.

    Comment by Jeffrey Carter — November 21, 2020 @ 9:10 am

  30. Amazing how SWP craig can parade his ignorance so proudly and yet is actually a college professor? What credible uni would settle for this intellectually bankrupt fellow? Clearly he’s ignorant about bitcoin, covid, politics and more. Yet with a mind like concrete, all mixed up and permenantly set! As Sam Clemons would say, no amount of evidence will ever convince an idiot. SWP reminds me so much of this.

    Comment by Jim Bob — November 21, 2020 @ 12:38 pm

  31. The state of South Australia was plunged into a severe lockdown the other day because the government suddenly feared that new ultra-contagious mutation of the virus was on the loose.

    It has turned out, though, that that wasn’t the problem. The ordinary virus had been spread by an infectious chap who worked at a pizza shop and lied about it.

    One liar led to the lockdown of an entire state. Jesus!

    Comment by dearieme — November 21, 2020 @ 7:13 pm

  32. It is odd that Boris J. (BoJo as he is widely known) is fixated on the image of Churchill. Just watch a video of one of his rousing speeches and you’ll see the impersonation not just in the gravity of mien (when severity is required), the enthusiasm of demeanor (when optimism is called for) but also in the choice of language, the phrasing and cadence.

    In matters of strategy and admiration for the ideas and history of the English-speaking peoples (yon stalwart yeoman), however, the prof is right: BoJo couldn’t be further from the mind and spirit of Churchill if he tried. Indeed, regarding his plan to engineer society (from brexit to climate change) according to ideas generated at the center – in secrecy and with minimal consultation with the aforesaid English yeomanry – there’s now’t acknowledgement of ancient rights and freedoms. BoJo is infamous for his poor attention span and scatty command of the facts. Personally, I think that while ‘studying’ Churchill, he picked up on the social philosophy of the ‘other feller’, the (German) one Churchill so determinedly opposed. Only half kidding; only half, mind you.

    Regarding the rent-seeking, it’s worse than you can imagine. Secret deals, cronyism, you name it. Not capitalism but the travesty of capitalism, not the free market but its burlesque. Revolting spectacle of crony piglets suckling at the teats of the governmental sow.

    Comment by Simple Simon — November 22, 2020 @ 11:08 am

  33. Yes agreed Prof what has happened here in Australia is depressing. And quite a shock.

    It’s not just the lockdowns. It’s also: the zeal with which the coppers have enforced them, to the extent of manhandling members of the public; the anarcho-tyranny – at the same time as the coppers are belting the punters, they are letting the lefties hold their BLM rallies unimpeded; and, most disturbingly, the way the public has just accepted all of this – they don’t have any understanding of their liberties, or how hard won they were, or how easily and illegally they are being taken away.

    The country has changed a lot since WWII, even since the Mad Max era. There’s now a lot more people living in the cities and large towns, away from the rural areas where self-reliance and practical skill was needed for survival. A larger proportion of the population have been through the Frankfurt School indoctrination mills that used to be universities. And prolonged mass immigration has caused wages to stagnate alongside booming property prices, which puts many young and middle-aged people in the ‘desperately struggling’ classes and so makes them more sympathetic to voting for the left, regardless of how incompetent, corrupt and unhinged they are (and they are).

    The good thing is that, once this all collapses in a debt-deflationary hyperinflation virtue-signalling spiral, we’ll be all right down here. There are no universities in Bartertown, there’s obviously plenty of cheap fuel to allow the generation of surplus-value, and our women look like Virginia Hey.

    Comment by Ex-Global Super-Regulator on Lunch Break — November 22, 2020 @ 9:04 pm

  34. @Simon: “Secret deals, cronyism, you name it. Not capitalism but the travesty of capitalism” Pretty much sums up what has been happening in the US over the past for years. I think BJ has been trying to emulate this, not Churchill per se, to prove his credentials ahead of a blockbuster trade deal (for the US).

    On a vaguely unrelated topic, I see Rudi has dropped Sidney Powell from the legal team after her performance at that remarkable press conference. I’d be intrigued to know what you all thought of her presentation – were you all nodding in agreement, or did it stretch credulity for even you?

    Comment by David Mercer — November 23, 2020 @ 3:16 am

  35. If it is proven that the UK government, along with MI6, helped in the coup against Trump, I will applaud their swirling down the toilet.

    Johnson is a toad.

    Happy Thanksgiving Prof!

    Comment by Joe Walker — November 23, 2020 @ 4:28 pm

  36. Hi prof, interesting to read your thoughts on this matter. However, on this occasion, I will need to disagree as I believe that you are conflating two separate issues.

    First, when it comes to ideological direction, even if the UK has at various times embraced collectivism and political correctness (you refer to the early 2000’s), then by now the pendulum has definitely started to swing back. Remember that, after 17 years of Labour government, the UK voted for what became the Tory & Lib Dem coalition back in 2010 (with the Tories getting the most votes). At the time, the key ground for doing so was predominantly the economy – as was stated in the leading article in the latest Spectator: “The great Tory weapon against Labour — deployed in the every election campaign — is that the left always runs out of other people’s money.” More on that later. It was on the same key grounds (and, at the time, increasingly, Brexit) that the Tories beat Labour at the following general election in 2015 to form a majority government without the need for a coalition partner. However, the stakes changed again when Jeremy Corbyn, having always been on the fringe of the party, took leadership of the Labour party. Corbyn, being the UK’s Harris-Biden-Bernie amalgam, very much rode both an increasingly aggressive socialist economy (mandatory shareholdings for workers, etc, etc) ticket as well as a woke culture ticket. Under Corbyn, Labour got hammered at the 2017 and 2019 snap general elections (their comrades called the 2017 GE loss a victory because the party did not lose as badly as it had in 2015). 2019 was particularly brutal – a significant chunk of the traditional Red Wall of Labour voters in working class towns who had not voted Tory in decades did so. So, while Labour lost the 2010 and 2015 GEs on economic grounds, they importantly lost the 2017 and 2019 GEs on both economic as well as social grounds.

    The archetypal Red Wall Labour voter in the UK outside of London is someone like him:
    I would say markedly different from your average Democrat voter in the US.

    So where does this leave the Labour party? Kier Starmer (the Starmtrooper) overwhelmingly won the Labour party election to become the new leader, more than doubling the vote count of the runner-up, post-Corbynite Rebecca Long-Bailey. Interestingly enough, Starmer has largely stayed out of the public eye as he has been focussing his efforts on wresting control of the Labour party and expunging it of the more socially extreme elements in particular – which is a welcome sight for the general population as well as for the majority of Labour voters. Among others, he ejected Corbyn himself for his failures relating to tackling anti-Semitism (what is it with the commies and the Jews? If you are interested have a read of Corbyn’s associations with Iran, the Hamas and every other unsavoury group you can name) while he was leader. This is a good strategy. Given that the Labour party was being controlled by the extremist fringe for the past five years, the period was characterised by infighting within the party and a lack of a principled position. The next GE isn’t scheduled until 2024, so Starmer has plenty of time to rebuild. Corbyn has since been reinstated by the fringes of the NEC, but this little partisan skirmish is unlikely to yield anything in the long run and in due course Corbyn and his comrades will, at least for a cycle, be flushed down the toilet of history where they rightfully belong.

    This leads me to the first point I disagree with you on. I appreciate that things may have been different 20 years ago but, to me, the woke nonsense in the Anglosphere (as you rightly pointed out it hardly exists outside of this collection of countries) has always, or at least since the Obama terms, been trickling out of the US. The way I see it is that it, after taking hold in the US, it spills over the border to Canada and then in due course makes its way across the Atlantic to the UK and subsequently into AU & NZ. My reason for the preceding rant is that, as I see it, with the defeat of Corbyn and the subsequent rise of Starmer, this movement is gradually being stamped out in the UK. Starmer definitely has his skeletons in the closet – as the Director of Public Prosecutions he was behind the disastrous “always believe the victim” policies which meant that millions in public money and countless years of time of public servants was wasted investigating complete nonsense (see, for example, Operation Midland & Carl Beech). However, he is no Corbyn / Harris / Biden / Bernie and by contrast to them he is an eminently sensible candidate. His appointment certainly brings Labour back closer towards the center on both social and economic grounds.

    I think that this shift is also reflected in other areas of society. My friends still working in traditional positions in London are being bombarded with all the usual groupthink-posing-as-science at work but, notably, this is more intense in American firms with most of the munition coming from across the Atlantic, while the approach in traditionally English firms is more subdued. Same can be said for higher education. Leaving aside the occasional incident, academic rigor is largely intact in leading British universities. There are certain exceptions, such as King’s College London, which has rightfully also taken a pummeling in the league tables. In your post, you wrongly identified my alma mater University College London as being behind the crackpot epidemiological modelling. I am assume that this is an oversight as in previous posts you correctly identified Imperial College London as being behind this mess. Leaving aside the deeply shameful occupy protests an odd 10 years ago and the defenestration of Tim Hunt (a decision I would attribute to poor decision-making over poor ideology), UCL is doing very well, no doubt significantly aided by its very international student body. If anything, the British institutions have been great benefactors of the ongoing madness in the US. It is clear that the US and the UK are the two undisputed world leaders in higher education. That being said, an odd five years ago, I would have put the US firmly in the top position whereas today I see it the other way around.

    Certain notable exceptions exist: a while ago 80% of surveyed secondary school teachers identified as left of the center and the Metropolitan police is unfortunately still a hotbed for the loony-left. That being said, re the latter, fortunately the UK has an exemplary judiciary and the police notably suffered a significant setback with their “non-crime hate incidents” in the case of Miller v College of Policing and Humberside Police [2020] EWHC 225. This is another can of worms too toxic to get into right now but suffice to say Knowles J sums it up very well in paragraph 259 of his judgment: “There was not a shred of evidence that the Claimant was at risk of committing a criminal offence. The effect of the police turning up at his place of work because of his political opinions must not be underestimated. To do so would be to undervalue a cardinal democratic freedom. In this country we have never had a Cheka, a Gestapo or a Stasi. We have never lived in an Orwellian society.” Would be great to see equally bold statements being made by the judiciary in the US.

    This post has now got considerably longer than I initially intended for it to be, so I will keep the remainder brief. My second point was that you are conflating the current UK government’s policy with the ideological direction of the country. Re the coronavirus response and the “green industrial revolution” policy, the former has been an unmitigated disaster and the latter is likely to be one too, as you correctly pointed out. The reasons for the former you have discussed at length in your pieces. There are certain additional elements which you have not yet covered, such as an abundance of vested interests in SAGE as well as their complete lack of expertise on the subject matter, i.e. epidemiology, and more, which is again far too lengthy to cover here.

    However, in my view, as set out above, the reasons for these are not the ones you brought out in your post. Rather, I boil it down to two factors: (i) a lack of a credible opposition; and (ii) poor statesmanship. With respect to the first, a strong opposition is the backbone of a healthy bipartisan system. For the grounds previously set out, the lack of a credible opposition and the checks and balances that come with it has also led the governing party to completely run off the rails. The general election is 4 years away, but hopefully Starmer will get himself in gear sooner rather than later so that there can again be a shred of sense in the Commons. It’s probably too late though – it was revealed earlier this week that the current Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, has (under BJ’s instructions) borrowed more in the past 10 months than Gordon Brown did in 10 years – so the damage is already done. The only saving grace is that the yields on the UK gilt are practically nothing, but this is the first time since the early 1960’s that public sector debt has exceeded GDP. Second, BJ has proven time and time again that he is simply unfit to govern, which is demonstrated by each poor policy and decision being followed by another. He is often, erroneously, compared to Trump. The similarity between the two is that both rode in on the outsider ticket (Johnson has always distinguished himself from the “establishment”). However, while Trump has been 0% form and 100% substance, BJ has conversely been 100% form and 0% substance. The likeable buffoon act, unfortunately, is all that it has been.

    Comment by unnamed — November 27, 2020 @ 3:50 am

  37. Johnson’s “green industrial revolution” reminds me of Harold Wilson’s “white-heat of this [technological] revolution.”

    Comment by SRP — November 30, 2020 @ 10:07 pm

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