« Hedge fund humbugs | Main | Choosing charlatans »

February 06, 2021


Ralph Musgrave

So Chris Dillow objects to Boris Johnson’s criticisms of Muslim women and their ridiculous headgear. I suppose Chris thinks women covering their heads in black cloth equals “cultural enrichment” – along with the other amazingly cultured forms of cultural enrichment that Islam offers us: beheadings, female genital mutilation, Halal animal cruelty, hate preachers, trashing Buddha statues, mistreating apostates, etc etc etc etc etc.


I'm kind of taken aback by Ralph Musgrove's nasty comments. Maybe he should do a bit more research and a lot more thinking.
Female genital mutilation, practised in certain communities, predates Islam and is not practised in many predominantly Muslim countries.
Beheadings - is he opposed to all capital punishment, including that carried out in USA?
Hate preachers - can he think of any examples from Christianity or Hinduism?
Halal animal cruelty - any worse than the production-line slaughter of chickens, cows, pigs and sheep carried out in UK?
I'm no fan of the burka, but nor do I approve of women having to wear hats in order to attend certain Christian churches.


Consulting firms are very fond of 'Motherhood and Apple Pie', gets the fees and does no good at all. The tabloids all love a spot of Royal and 'Our Boys' along with tits, bums, frocks and slebs. They know what sells, don't knock it.

More deeply the question is one of positioning and the 'opposite' in opposition. The main Tory USP is selfishness. Never explicitly stated but the bargain is 'we neglect the potholes, state schools and hospitals but keep your house prices high'. The opposite is Labour's generosity, 'we will give it all away and cut your house prices'. The difficulty for Labour is how to position as different to Tory without being so opposite as to 'give it all away'.

The Tories have grabbed the high ground and will always play the 'opposite to us' card, noisily backed by the Tory media. A way has to be found to make 'opposite' look like a sane policy. I fear the realities of global economics mean it is very difficult to be 'opposite' to a microscopic sweet spot surrounded by a desert. Fortunately? the Tories have pushed us some small way into that desert. Unfortunately some in the Labour party thought that was a good thing.

Which begs the question 'what is socialism, what has socialism ever done for us?'. Well, the NHS of course. But exactly what USP can socialism offer. Post Covid and Brexit I fear the zeitgeist will be more attuned to survival. The Tories may take enough rope to hang themselves - or not. Some alternative product to the ERG-run Tory party but possessing some semblance of competence would be good.

I fear 'socialism' has become a dirty word associated with the swampies and statue-pullers. I don't mind some 'new' politics but childish idealism will not get us far. Remarkable claims require remarkable economics and I don't see any so far.


Nothing new there. two relevant quotes, the first from a book "The Politics of Marketing the Labour Party":

«Value free campaigning? The repackaging of Labour
The SCA and their ‘client’ representative Peter Mandelson provided the impetus behind the re-launch of Labour in 1986. In contrast to previous initiatives, the campaigns that followed were highly disciplined exercises. As Mandelson admitted: ‘Communications means throwing your net much wider than publicity. It means deciding what we say, how we say it, and which spokesmen and women we choose to say it’. The name of each campaign betrayed the party’s marketing conscious approach: ‘Freedom and Fairness’, ‘Investing in People’ and ‘Modern Britain in a Modern World’.
All three were highly media-centred operations. Input from the party faithful was limited to purchasing mugs and other merchandise from the revamped Sales and Marketing department.
Launched in the run up to the 1986 local elections, the Freedom and Fairness campaign became a journalistic story for its manner as much as its theme.‘ Devised by a team including advertising executive Trevor Beattie, it featured a nine-year old reaching skywards. The campaign was praised in Tribune, The Observer and The Guardian, the latter of which called it ‘light years ahead’ of previous efforts though not all the coverage was favourable: ‘One day the twee nuclear family living in a semi in a suburb will have vanished from our TV screens altogether except, of course, in the Never Never Land of commercials for Milton Keynes and Labour Party Political Broadcasts’.
[...] It also identified significant voter antipathy towards so-called ‘scroungers’ and, by implication, Labour policies devoted to helping these `undeserving poor´. The promotion of such language was a marked feature of New Right Strategy had been popularised through the Tory press during the late 1970s. Lamentably it now began to inform opposition thinking.
In his first major qualitative-based study for the party, Philip Gould argued the party’s ‘minority agenda’ was a major electoral handicap.” Consequently Freedom and Fairness was tailored to appeal to what marketers, and particularly those associated with BMP DDB Needham, termed the burgeoning ‘aspirational’ electorate. This strategy was outlined to CSC members at a SCA presentation on the topic of ‘Society and Self’.”

This was Tony Benn's reaction to the Shadow Communications Agency presentation:

“The Party's Campaign Strategy Committee, where four men and a woman from something called the Shadow Agency made a presentation.
They flashed onto a screen quotes which were supposed to be typical of Labour voters, for example: “IT'S NICE TO HAVE A SOCIAL CONSCIENCE BUT IT'S YOUR FAMILY THAT COUNTS.”
What we were being told, quite frankly, was what you can read every day in the Sun, the Mail, the Daily Express, and the Telegraph. It was an absolute waste of money.
Labour was associated with the poor, the unemployed, the old, the sick, the disabled, pacifists, immigrants, minorities and the unions, and this was deeply worrying.
The Tories were seen to have the interests of everyone at heart including the rich. Labour was seen as yesterday's party. I came out feeling physically sick.”


@Anna. I fully expected RM to be on to this Dillow piece and wasn't disappointed...lol! It seems that he sees Islamism is the antithesis of Britishness and indeed western ideals so naturally sees those that adhere to it as unpatriotic. But of course you make valid comparisons re western capital punishment, all religious hate preaching and British slaughterhouses aka as animal holiday camps. I speak on the last point as a long time pescatarian. I roll my eyes at the pretence of concern for animal welfare in exhorting against Halal/Kosher slaughter. One visit to a slaughterhouse would disabuse most of this 'ideologically' driven bit of nonsense.

Ralph Musgrave

I’m kind of taken aback by Anna’s nasty comments. As regards FGM, the fact that FGM is practiced by cultures other than Islam, contrary to her claims, does not justify FGM: two blacks don’t make a white. Same goes for beheadings and capital punishment: two blacks don’t make a white. Re hate preachers, I haven’t heard of any examples of Christian or Hindu preachers in the UK being prosecuted for hate preaching: if there are any examples, I’m pretty sure the incidence of that problem among Christians and Hindus is a small proportion of the incidence among Muslim clerics. As for Anna’s claim that women have to wear hats to attend Churches, that’s a new one on me, though there may some strange Christian sect I haven’t heard of which insists on hats. In any case, there’s a world of difference between a relatively small organisation insisting on a particular dress code when people enter their buildings, and in contrast, insisting that all women abide by a particular dress code all the time.

Ralph Musgrave

Paulc156, I’m much amused by your straw man argument to the effect that my opposition to Islam stems from my patriotic, Union Jack waving tendencies, but there’s a few problems with your argument. 1. Minarets have been banned in Switzerland. 2. In France, Macron has clamped down on hate preachers and Le Pen is running neck and neck with Macron according to the latest opinion polls. 3. And it’s not just Europeans who are wicked “Islamophobic” racist fascists: Putin in Russia has made some less than complementary remarks about Muslims. In Mozambique the population is thrilled about Islam given that Muslim extremists have killed about 2,400 innocents there. And in Angola, Mosques are banned altogether.

Couldn’t be, could it, that Islam flouts WIDELY ACCEPTED norms of decent behaviour, could it?


February 6, 2021



Cases   ( 3,929,835)
Deaths   ( 112,092)

Deaths per million   ( 1,646)

[ Patriotism would have meant properly protecting the people of Britain. The current patriotism of Labour or Conservative Party leaders strikes me as mere pretense. ]


Thanks Blissex. Pity is that in 16 years since that book we seem to have gone nowhere philosophically. Makes me think of 'if only we had':

more Lenin caps

more car park meetings

bring back Red Robbo.

Makes me think Labour as constituted is finished, perhaps one last gasp when Brexit screws up but probably not. Starmer looks like the funeral director.

Surely the future lies with something like XR if only they could morph into a coherent political grouping. With skilful leadership they could be a serious threat to the status quo. Because of that you can be sure the infiltrators will be busy - sleeping with Greta?


Well the apparently the adults are back in charge of the Labour party!
And culture not class is the preferred battleground for the middle (upper) classes.

This just looks like Ed Miliband and Blue Labour. Family (tick), faith and flag (tick).

The Labour party abandoned the working class several decades ago, the working class realise they may get more crumbs from one-nation Tories than southern discomforted Labour.

I fear Labour is a lost cause.

As for XR (extinction rebellion) those upper (middle) class wing nuts, couldn't get elected as dog catcher.

(Sorry I couldn't resist the petrol - https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Wing%20Nut See: 2).


We need more Popcorn, the show is far from over!

See: Previous Issue.


Naked Short Selling...


Next exciting episode ... is Gordon Gecco alive?

"In effect, hedge funds may have manipulated GameStop in opposite directions, wringing out profits daily or even two or three times a day. If this is correct, the GameStop saga is not some populist uprising but a rolling version of “pump and dump,” a classic form of manipulation and naked shorting. At a minimum, the facts already known call for an SEC investigation with subpoena power focused on the broker-dealers’ handling of these transactions."

Tune-in for the Securities and Exchange Commission?


«This just looks like Ed Miliband and Blue Labour. Family (tick), faith and flag (tick).»

Ed Miliband and Gordon Brown himself were widely criticized by many in the New Labour MPs for being too far left, and Ed Miliband for antisemitism too.

«the working class realise they may get more crumbs from one-nation Tories»

I think that is an illusion: the few true one-nation tories have been mostly purged from the Conservatives (one of the few left, perhaps the only one, is Theresa May...).
Boris Johnson is a hardcode neoliberal/neocon all for finance and property but he seems also a keen electoral opportunist and panderer, so he may try to pander a bit to some less immiserated sections of the working class, with one-nation style gestures, but he cannot afford to make much more than gestures.

«than southern discomforted Labour.»

One of the few mentions I have ever seen of the crucial essay(s) of Giles Radice. As a "reward" here is one of my favourite quotes, Theresa May as Conservative Party Associations Chairperson giving a "one nation" talk at the 2002 Conservative annual conference:

«Our base is too narrow and so, occasionally, are our sympathies. You know what some people call us – the Nasty Party. I know that's unfair. You know that's unfair but it's the people out there we need to convince - and we can only do that by avoiding behaviour and attitudes that play into the hands of our opponents. No more glib moralising, no more hypocritical finger-wagging. We need to reach out to all areas of our society. I want us to be the party that represents the whole of Britain and not merely some mythical place called "Middle England", but the truth is that as our country has become more diverse, our party has remained the same.»

That argument had zero effect on the actual Conservative policies, even when she was PM, so I don't expect that to change with Boris Johnson, or his successors, except as to some posturing.


@RM. Sorry if this confirmed atheist incorrectly pigeon holed your rant on Islamic practices as a manifestation of patriotism. I kind of lost you when you 'progressed' to the heinous crime of 'halal'.

But you really shouldn't complain too much about "strawman" arguments when you took the one example offered up in the article of Boris Johnson's mockery of Muslim dress, as an opportunity to lay into the authors 'supposed' indifference to a litany of 'outrages' by Muslims.
...Whereas in fact it was clearly just one example of BJ's utter contempt/disdain for/disregard of all manor of marginalised or oft maligned sections of British society.


February 7, 2021



Cases   ( 3,945,680)
Deaths   ( 112,465)

Deaths per million   ( 1,651)


Cases   ( 2,291,441)
Deaths   ( 62,128)

Deaths per million   ( 740)


I don't much like "ltr" reports on COVID-19 as it is easily found information, and he pastes it with too much spacing, but just to add to it:

"UK Cases 3,945,680 Deaths 112,465 Deaths p.m. 1,651
Germany Cases 2,291,441 Deaths 62,128 Deaths pm 740"

China-Taiwan has 1/3 of the population of the UK, and 1/4 that of Germany, and single infections and deaths end up on the national news:

“Taiwan on Sunday confirmed three new imported cases of COVID-19, but recorded no additional domestic infections
[...] To date, Taiwan has recorded 927 cases of COVID-19, 812 of which have been classified as imported. Of the total, 844 patients have recovered, nine have died, and 74 are in hospital”

Thatcherism surely makes such a big difference, fortunately we have debated on "patriotism".


There was a time, of course, when such tragic illness and death outcomes as are occurring each day would have been intolerable in the UK. However, the leaders of Conservatives and Labour evidently care little now. The media is content just to have ruined Jeremy Corbyn, who actually cared about Brits.

Well, I care.


February 7, 2021



Cases   ( 27,611,403)
Deaths   ( 474,933)


Cases   ( 10,838,843)
Deaths   ( 155,114)


Cases   ( 3,945,680)
Deaths   ( 112,465)


Cases   ( 3,337,048)
Deaths   ( 78,965)


Cases   ( 2,291,441)
Deaths   ( 62,128)


Cases   ( 1,926,080)
Deaths   ( 165,786)


Cases   ( 804,260)
Deaths   ( 20,767)


Cases   ( 89,692)
Deaths   ( 4,636)


February 7, 2021

Coronavirus   (Deaths per million)

UK   ( 1,651)
US   ( 1,430)
Mexico   ( 1,278)
France   ( 1,208)

Germany   ( 740)
Canada   ( 547)
India   ( 112)
China   ( 3)

Notice the ratios of deaths to coronavirus cases are 8.6%, 2.9% and 2.4% for Mexico, the United Kingdom and France respectively.


Someone mentioned Gamestop: the story should be how you can leverage options to sell covered calls on the way down, if you were long the stock.

Blissex said you can't leverage stock bets, but options allow you far higher returns than real estate. Haldane is just backwards.


«Blissex said you can't leverage stock bets, but options

I apologize for writing quite correctly that “voters [...] are not allowed to leverage their stock speculation” without also adding for the benefit of those unfamiliar with the securities markets that the tiny number of voters who are professionals in finance are allowed to use both margin purchases and derivatives like options.

Those more familiar with the securities markets might point out that there are some ways for voters to leverage up via spread betting, but that is not entirely kosher. In the USA things are a bit different with RobinHood.com...

«allow you far higher returns than real estate.»

If you believe that consider this "masterful" article from prof. DeLong:

«if we limit ourselves to portfolios with constant leverage and thus a constant β, the portfolio that does the best since 1871 has β = 2.28. That portfolio escapes bankruptcy in 1932 by 1 percent of its peak-1929 value, and today yields 325,000 dollars in real value for every dollar invested in 1871 and reinvested since:»

The sky' the limit! :-)


DeLong is even more backwards than Haldane. Goldman Sachs does not invest in real estate but in real estate securities that yield higher returns without owning land. I am not a finance professional, but if I could get my broker to approve me for options trading, I could recoup my entire cost basis for my Gamestop long position using the leverage provided by selling out-the-money calls.

The fact that options trading is restricted is a flaw of public policy. I don't want to trade land; I want to trade abstract virtual contracts because it is less violent.


Why is Boris Johnson allowing diplomatic relations with China to continually worsen, when this will only limit Britain economically? Britain should be expanding investment in China, expanding trade with China. The antagonism towards China can only be economically harmful to Britain while making minimal difference for China.


On this open thread :)

Through the Looking Glass B.T and other monopolies.


"A new Assembly Research study has found that UK broadband ISPs and mobile operators responded quickly to the COVID-19 crisis and have so far provided a colossal £940m worth of support, such as via free allowances (data, calls and texts), special packages, zero rated data on websites, discounts and support for online learning etc."

Now get out the worlds smallest violin for BT et al...

Because their costs are fixed.

i.e. Vodaphone, EE et al may charge through the nose for mobile data but letting children access the BBC free of charge does not result in any (beyond trivial) extra cost. The bandwidth would have otherwise gone to waste.

But cry's BT the users of our unlimited fixed broadband have doubled there usage of the network. But they too have fixed costs.

All the costs are in meeting peak demand/capacity. So don't BT et-al have a case?

"In fairness, both the UK Government and Ofcom also deserve some credit for helping to nudge providers into offering some of these additional support structures. On the other hand, it’s worth considering that such costs often end up being recuperated elsewhere, which in some cases may mean larger than usual price hikes further down the road or other changes."

NO. The costs are fixed and Covid has not significantly changed that!

You may all be familiar with Moores Law https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore%27s_law.
Every time you buy an new computer, it has a faster processor, more ram and more storage and yes higher bandwidth networking.


" In 1975, House noted that Moore's revised law of doubling transistor count every 2 years in turn implied that computer chip performance would roughly double every 18 months[36]"

So chip capacity doubles every 18 months (at effectively zero cost increase, even though the fabs for each new generation cost billions).

Deflation (Same wikipedia page)

"Quality adjusted price of IT equipment – The price of information technology (IT), computers and peripheral equipment, adjusted for quality and inflation, declined 16% per year on average over the five decades from 1959 to 2009. [162][163] The pace accelerated, however, to 23% per year in 1995–1999 triggered by faster IT innovation,[136] and later, slowed to 2% per year in 2010–2013.[162][164]"

So for those old enough to remember, home computers have gone from the Sinclair ZX81 in 1981, 3.5Mhz 8bit processor with 1KB of ram to a modern home PC with a multi-Ghz (2-5) 64bit processor and 4GB ram (min). At a similar inflation adjusted price (Don't ask about the inflation adjusted price of the original IBM PC at approx £2K)

What has this got to do with bandwidth?

The same wikipedia page tells us:
"Fiber-optic capacity – The number of bits per second that can be sent down an optical fiber increases exponentially, faster than Moore's law. Keck's law, in honor of Donald Keck.[174]"

So the capacity of fibre increases faster than that of processors.

"Butters' law says that the amount of data coming out of an optical fiber is doubling every nine months.[178] Thus, the cost of transmitting a bit over an optical network decreases by half every nine months."

So twice as fast as Moores Law! So how fast is optical fibre?

"Researchers Set New Fiber Optic Speed Record of 178 Tbps"


So 3-4.5GB HD movie uses a gigabit network for all of 25 seconds.

To summarise.

B.T have a network consisting of fibre of effectively unlimited capacity, connected by special computers who's power doubles every 18 months (on replacement) and B.T are far behind the technological curve that they have lots of spare bandwidth and doubling in usage 12 months shouldn't have no impact on their fixed costs (How will they cope with Gb Ethernet? to the home).

The same applies to the Mobile operators who charge through the nose for bandwidth (by the minute.)

So the worlds smallest violin for the rapacious monopolists who have not fore gone 980 million, as their costs a fixed and capacity unlimited, but are screwing the public as per business as usual.

The comments to this entry are closed.

blogs I like

Blog powered by Typepad