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Now Las Vegas

Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Orlando, now this.

It’s still not clear what was behind the madness of the shooter who killed at least 50 people and wounded hundreds more, or (among other questions) how he managed to transport 10 rifles to his hotel room without anyone noticing or calling the police, or if he had an automatic weapon, but my thoughts are with the victims, their families and the first responders.

From what we know about the gunman, it doesn’t appear that a border wall or tougher immigration rules would have made a difference in this case.

After Sandy Hook, Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo asked, “How Do We Fix This?

Almost five years later, it seems we’re no closer to an answer.

Update: It appears the shooter used an automatic weapon, which allows multiple shots to be fired simply by holding down the trigger.

ATF is the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.



What Venezuela tells us about Labour Party foreign policy

This is a cross-post from Open Democracy by Paul Canning

Venezuela has been reduced to a political point scoring exercise in the UK – whilst it plunges deeper into an enormous humanitarian disaster. Did we learn anything new from Labour party conference?

A week after the debate in parliament about Venezuela this month, the Political Editor of the Daily Mirror, Kevin Maguire tweeted a response to a story about Yemen and Saudi Arabia:

“And not a peep on the terror of a British Govt ally from those who pretended to care about Venezuela only to have a pop at Corbyn”. Now there’s a few things going on here. You might think that he’s responding to the likes of the Tory John Redwood:

But it seems that Maguire may also be having a go at Labour MPs like Catherine West, Kevan Jones, Siobhan McDonagh, and Mike Gapes, who’ve all asked questions in Parliament about Venezuela, and at Graham Jones MP, who had organised the debate on Venezuela and set up an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), having had a long-standing Latin American interest through his membership of the APPG on Latin America.

Do read the rest of Paul’s post here


Does the Left have an antisemitism problem? A response to Stephen Law

This is a guest post by Eve Garrard

(Law: Is the Left’s alleged critical focus on Israel good grounds for thinking it has an ‘antisemitism problem’?)

1. First things first: Law’s post is beautifully clear and organised. The reader never has to scratch her head trying to tease out just what it is the writer is arguing for.  Law does all that kind of work for her, so she can concentrate on the soundness or otherwise of his arguments. (Spoiler alert: Law thinks that the answer to the question in his title is ‘No’, and I’m going to disagree with almost everything he says.)

2. Law’s first claim is that although there is some antisemitism everywhere, there is no evidence that there is any more of it in the Labour Party than there is anywhere else.  Myself, I doubt he’s correct on this – the most recent CAA research suggests that there are approximately eight times as many cases of antisemitism among Labour Party office holders than there are within the second-placed party.  (see https://antisemitism.uk/new-caa-research-shows-antisemitism-amongst-officials-in-labour-is-eight-times-worse-than-any-other-party/)  However, let’s not squabble about the empirical facts – let’s give Law the benefit of the doubt here, and ask what would follow if his claim is true.  Would its truth tell against the view that Labour has a special antisemitism problem?  It’s not clear that it would.  Labour claims to be an anti-racist party, it prides itself on this, and it certainly complains if other organisations tolerate racism against, for example, persons of colour.  So if it can only manage the same level of racism against Jews as other organisations are displaying, then it’s doing badly, and is at the very least being notably hypocritical.  Presumably it tries more than other organisations to avoid being racist, so why are its efforts so ineffective – why is its level of racism against Jews no better than anyone else’s?  Perhaps it does have an antisemitism problem after all, at the level of motivation and effort, even if (which I doubt) it has only the same incidence of antisemitism that other parties do.

3. Law cites the Chakrabarti Report in support of his claim that there’s no evidence that Labour has an antisemitism problem.  But that report is, to put it mildly, a very contentious one, for a variety of reasons, including the fact that having called for submissions from interested parties, Chakrabarti ignored a large number of them which came from people who did think that the Labour Party has a problem with antisemitism.  (for more on this, see David Hirsh’s Contemporary Left Antisemitism, ch 3). The report is widely regarded as a whitewash by those who are worried about antisemitism in the Labour Party. (See also the video Whitewashed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=te684rBHzOA&app=desktop.) These reservations about the Report are for reasons that aren’t really connected with Chakrabarti’s elevation to the peerage at the behest of Jeremy Corbyn immediately after her completion of the report, but that fast-track ennoblement didn’t help.

4. Law thinks that the Left’s special focus on Israel’s alleged wrongdoings, as compared to other countries’ misdemeanours, does not count as strong evidence of the presence of any special antisemitism problem.  This is because he thinks that there are other, more plausible, explanations of that special focus.  He thinks that Israel gets a free pass from Western governments even though it has nuclear weapons; it illegally abducts people from Western countries; it occupies territories that don’t belong to it; and Western governments stand idly by, indeed they pour money into Israel, while all this is going on. All this, says Law, is objectionable to Leftists; and in any case Leftists are more biased in favour of the Left, and hence they’re less likely to criticise the misdeeds of Cuba or China than those of Israel.  What’s more, the extensive media coverage of Israel makes Westerners much more aware of its actions than those of other errant countries, hence their concentration on Israeli misdeeds. Law also thinks that so huge is Israel’s influence through its lobbying that no U.S. Congressman dares to criticise Israel for fear of being ‘targeted and removed’.  (Law’s choice of words here would repay literary analysis.)  He doesn’t say exactly how this power-of-the-Lobby claim is supposed to explain the Left focus on Israel; perhaps we can assume that he thinks that the Left is bravely taking up the cudgels to remedy the US government’s inaction against the pervasive influence of the Israel Lobby. Taken all together, claims Law, these considerations provide a more persuasive explanation for the Left’s exceptional focus on Israel than the appeal to antisemitism.

Law thinks that the successful rebutting of any one of these points wouldn’t undermine his general claim, since he’s only saying that these points are jointly sufficient to explain the special focus on Israel, not that any single one of them is enough on its own. However, effective criticism of all of them is another matter, as Law no doubt realises; and they are all of them very open to criticism indeed, so much so that they’re unlikely to be even jointly sufficient to explain anything at all. Here are some of the weaknesses:

a) True, Israel doesn’t get greatly criticised by Western governments for its possession of nukes.  But then neither does nuke-possessing Pakistan, or India for that matter, so this free pass is not peculiar to Israel.  So why doesn’t the Left criticise for example Pakistan as loudly as it criticises Israel? Or for that matter North Korea?  But famously it’s the right that criticises NK, not the left. (In any case there’s a pressing and obvious reason why Israel needs to be well-armed, a reason about which Law is completely silent. Since its inception Israel has been engaged in several wars where its opponents have explicitly professed the aim of destroying it totally. Iran still asserts this aim.  Israel takes these professions seriously.)

b) Then there’s the money. Israel does get a lot of financial support from the West.  But then, so does Egypt – it’s second only to Israel in the amount of military support it gets.  And it’s all taxpayers’ money, which Dr Law seems to think the Left is seriously troubled about when it considers Western support for Israel.  Now Egypt’s current regime is not noted for its support for democracy or human rights.  But I see no perennial and passionate, not to say vitriolic, campaigns against Egypt emanating from the Left.

c) The supposed hostility of the Left to occupation: Israel is an occupying power. But so are Turkey, China, Morocco, and Russia.  However I see no passionate, perennial and vitriolic campaigns emanating from the Left against any of these states. The asymmetry of the Left’s treatment of Israel on the one hand, and these other cases of occupation on the other, doesn’t help explain the Left’s special focus on Israel: it merely provides another example of it.

d) The Leftist bias in favour of left-wing countries might perhaps explain the free pass it gives to Cuba and China, though the extent to which China is a left-wing country is not very clear.  But there are plenty of non-Left targets for the Left to focus on, such as Russia, Turkey, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia – all countries committing violations, sometimes appalling ones, of human rights.  Once again, I see no vociferously hostile campaigns, for example boycott proposals, emanating from the Left of the Labour Party.

e) The explanation in terms of the extensive media coverage of Israel’s doings: this argument takes for granted that that coverage is a neutral element in the explanation.  But it isn’t – we need to explain why the media (particularly the liberal-left media) is so very interested in the supposed misdeeds of a very small Middle Eastern country before we can see whether media coverage can stand as an independent explanation, or part of an explanation, of why the Left is so interested in those misdeeds.  Law is simply assuming, taking for granted, that that level of media interest isn’t itself part of a prejudicial focus on Israel rather than on other countries.  But of course we can’t take that for granted.  Law’s silence on this issue makes his argument question-begging.

f) Which takes us to his final point: the power of the pro-Israel lobby.  Law could, and to some extent does, appeal to the (allegedly) extraordinary power of pro-Israel, usually Jewish, pressure groups which protect Israel from criticism, and he implies that this is so objectionable that it helps explain why the Left focuses disproportionately on Israel’s misdeeds. The appeal to the shadowy but supposedly overwhelming power of Jewish pressure groups is a standard antisemitic trope, much used (and not only by the Nazis) in the long history of hostility to Jews.  There are indeed strong pro-Israel groups lobbying the government of the USA.  But there are also strong pro-Arab groups seeking to exercise power and influence in the States, and indeed in this country too. For that matter there are pro-Japan pressure groups, and pro-Armenian ones, and for all I know pro-Fijian ones too.  Lobbying is in fact an essential feature of democracy, so we shouldn’t be surprised by lobbying activities, pro-Israel or pro-Arab or pro-anyone else. Indeed the power of the petrodollar in terms of lobbying influence is considerable, which shouldn’t surprise anyone, but even though it’s certainly not Left-wing, somehow it doesn’t seem to spark off the same kind of feverish hostility as the supposedly sinister dealings of the pro-Israel pressure groups.  So once again we have an asymmetry in response to Israel and its supporters which itself needs to be explained before we can see whether it can explain, as opposed to merely exemplifying, the general asymmetrical focus on Israel.

g) In general, Law thinks that rather than adverting to antisemitism when trying to explain the Left’s special and hostile focus on Israel, we should accept his own alternative explanation that, as he says, ‘Western governments are particularly in thrall to Israel’.  (Again, his choice of words is very revealing.)  But this alternative explanation of the special focus of the Left on Israel isn’t persuasive, for the reasons I’ve sketched out above.  And Law says nothing at all about why it would count as being more persuasive than explanations which make reference, among other considerations, to the very long-standing and memorable prejudice against Jews and their doings which has disfigured all of European history, including that of Britain, and which seems to be on the rise again.

h) Law thinks there are yet further considerations which are more plausible than antisemitism to explain the Left focus on Israel – perhaps, he suggests, it’s simply easier for people to focus on Israel than on other countries, or perhaps they’re just conforming to current fashion.  But these alternative explanations raise once again issues which we’ve already addressed.  I doubt if it can be shown that campaigning against Israel is easier than campaigning against any other country, except in ways that involve the very selectivity we’re trying to explain.  And though anti-Israel activity right now is indeed fashionable among significant parts of the Left, this doesn’t explain the special focus, it’s merely a further exemplification of it.  Law’s proposed explanations either fail to explain the special focus, since they also apply to countries other than Israel which aren’t the focus of special left-wing hostility, or they’re simply question-begging – they appeal to considerations which are themselves examples of the special focus we’re examining, and hence can’t explain it.  It seems likely that the most plausible explanation of the Left’s antagonistic interest in Israel’s doings is going to have to appeal, at least in part, to the long tradition of singling out Jews and their concerns for hostile treatment, and the consequent psychological ease and sociological simplicity of doing so.

i) Law closes his post with two extra points.  First, he wants to complain that people who charge critics of Israel with antisemitism are evading the content of the criticism they’re objecting to – they go straight to the alleged motive of the critics, in an obnoxiously ad hominem way.  The example he gives is the view that Israel is an apartheid state – he thinks that people who claim that this is an antisemitic view hardly ever actually address the charge of apartheid.  They hardly ever address the charge of apartheid? Where has Dr Law been looking?  See, for example, David Hirsh Contemporary Left Antisemitism, pp.124-33;  R.Fine and P.Spencer Antisemitism and the Left, pp.116-118;  Dave Rich The Left’s Jewish Problem, ch 2; and many, many others.  Perhaps Law should get out a bit more.

j) The second point worth noting is really a minor one, but it’s illuminating, all the same.  With one exception, throughout the whole post Law maintains a tone of calm, urbane detachment in what he has to say, and avoids the hurling of abuse and insults. This is entirely commendable, especially on such an inflammatory topic (though why it’s so inflammatory is of course the subject in hand.) But right at the end the strain gets a bit too much for him, and he can’t resist telling us that people who make false accusations of antisemitism for partisan political purposes are moral scumbags.  He doesn’t tell us anything about how likely this activity is – for all we know, and for all he knows, and certainly for all the evidence he provides (which is zero) it might happen only quite rarely – it all depends on how much antisemitism there actually is about the place, a topic on which Law is once again silent. But it’s true that if people do knowingly make false accusations of racism, that’s morally obnoxious, and will often amount to scumbaggery.  That we can agree about.  But Law doesn’t think that those who falsely charge Israel with being an apartheid state are moral scumbags, and he doesn’t think that those who falsely charge Israel with committing genocide are moral scumbags, and he doesn’t think that those who appeal to the old, old trope of sinister Jewish power over law and government are moral scumbags.  He doesn’t think that those who falsely say that Zionists make lying accusations of antisemitism against critics of Israel, just to smear them, are moral scumbags either.  At least, if he does think these things, he certainly doesn’t tell us about it.

What really annoys Law are false allegations of antisemitism being made against the Left. Somehow false allegations against Zionists, saying that that they lie and smear for political purposes, leave him unmoved. Perhaps he thinks that such allegations, which are commonly made against Zionists by parts of the Left, are always likely to be true.  If that’s so, then genuine and accurate charges of antisemitism against the Left are likely to slide invisibly under Law’s somewhat selective radar.

Eve Garrard

September 2017


Will Labour Ban Golf?

It’s both got comedy value and also scares the crap out of me. Just what would a Labour government be capable of doing to Great Britain?

By the way I strongly recommend joining the Labour Party Forum. The Daily Mail ran a piece on the antisemitic posts it has and it’s a great window on just how nuts the party is. Don’t worry its not an influential Facebook group or anything it only has over 40,000 members (ahem).

It appears that Beresford has written a book of poems with “themes of erotic horror, sci-fi, Paganism, humour and general insanity” he adds that “Arguably this book is aimed at 14/15 year olds but probably shouldn’t be read by anyone under 18.”

You just know he’s got a great shot of becoming Corbyn’s Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.


Preventing Katie Hopkins

Although Katie Hopkins’ proposed speaking engagements in Welsh schools have elicited a good deal of criticism, there has been comparatively little reference to the Prevent Duty in these discussions.  The Prevent Duty, unavoidably, invokes terms and phrases which are open to interpretation. However it could be argued that her visits are in contravention of this duty.

Here are a couple of examples taken from an NUT document which might indicate that a pupil is a risk:

  • Pupils voicing opinions drawn from extremist ideologies and narratives.
  • Use of extremist or ‘hate’ terms to exclude others or incite violence

British values include:

  • Democracy
  • The rule of law
  • Individual liberty and mutual respect
  • Tolerance of different faiths and beliefs

One school includes these activities as part of its Prevent strategy:

  • Exploring other cultures and religions and promoting diversity.
  • Challenging prejudices and racist comments.

Katie Hopkins’ views seems to contradict ‘British values’ in various ways.

Here’s a list of offensive statements from a few years ago – at this point she typically targeted people because of their age, appearance and social class.

Since then her focus has narrowed to a preoccupation with immigration and Muslims.

A recent example is her ‘final solution’ comment in the wake of the terrorist attack on Manchester – this got her sacked from LBC:

“22 dead – number rising,” she wrote on 23 May. “Schofield. Don’t you even dare. Do not be a part of the problem. We need a final solution #Machester.”

Particularly vile was her 2015 column in the Sun. This compared immigrants to cockroaches and to a norovirus – typical racist tropes.  She also endorsed the use of gunships to stop migrants reaching Britain – and has more recently joined the far right Defend Europe group to disrupt the work of search and rescue vessels.

And even Fox News was startled by her call for internment camps in the UK.

I saw one person on Twitter citing this article as evidence that Katie Hopkins’ visits to schools were a good thing.  But there are countless respectable centrist and right of centre speakers who would do a much better job at offering balance.


More on Miko Peled – and Ken Loach

Miko Peled has sought to clarify the remarks he made at a fringe meeting during the Labour Party conference.  In an email to the Guardian reproduced in this article he stated:

“The Holocaust was a terrible crime that we must study and from which we must all learn. I reject the idea that Holocaust deniers, foolish as they may be, should be treated as criminals and I doubt that supporters of Israel should be given the authority to judge who is or is not a racist and antisemite.

“Promoters of racist ideologies should not be given a public platform, and to me that does include people who promote Zionism – which is a racist ideology whose followers have committed and continue to commit crimes against the people of Palestine.

“If we are to do justice to the memory of the millions of victims of the Holocaust, Jewish and Roma and many, many others, then we must engage in robust debate and education about the causes of current, ongoing violence and injustice.”

Here’s a tweet on the same topic.

Yet again, he confuses the issues here. ‘Free speech is now antisemitism’ is a completely meaningless statement.  Of course free speech includes antisemitism and all kinds of offensive remarks.  He’s not even consistent – in the email quoted above he says:

Promoters of racist ideologies should not be given a public platform

If I’ve understood him correctly, this means those who identify as Zionists (which includes many who strongly oppose Israel’s current government) should be silenced and not deemed capable of adjudicating on issues of antisemitism. Although Peled doesn’t explicitly say that Holocaust deniers should be given a public platform, it’s striking that he reserves his harshest words for LFI and JLM types.

In another [tweet] he said: “What is worse, discussing the holocaust – which we know already happened or complicity with genocide in #Palestine?” And in a third he added: “Stifling debate desecrates the memories of millions murdered by Hitler! Why are zionists afraid of free speech?”

Where to start? ‘Discussing’ =/=’denying’ (and denial was strongly implied in his original speech – not that Peled himself was denying the Holocaust of course, he simply indicated it shouldn’t be a taboo).  Being a Zionist need not involve supporting any particular policy with regard to the Palestinians, and terming this a ‘genocide’, particularly when there is an implied parallel with the Holocaust, is hyperbole.  If ’stifling debate’ actually translates into ‘not tolerating Holocaust denial in the LP’ that is hardly a desecration of the memory of Holocaust victims – quite the opposite.  Given that the issue under discussion is Holocaust denial the insinuation that Zionists are trying to hide something in condemning Peled is completely unearned.

In rather similar vein, here is a brief interview with Ken Loach. He first seems disinclined to credit the reports of Peled’s speech, and then just comes out with a supercilious platitude:

I think history is for us all to discuss – wouldn’t you? … all history is our common heritage to discuss and analyse.

Holocaust denial is here presented as just another topic which reasonable people might disagree on.  Unlike Zionism.


MEND, Muslim Women, and the Labour Party

How to empower Muslim women? I can think of one good way – challenging views like this one:

I also want to briefly mention something about women in the workplace: I am an absolute extremist in this issue in that I don’t have any time for the opposing arguments. Women should not be in the workplace whatsoever. Full stop.

Some wriggle room has emerged in the West, but it is lamentable and must not be allowed to expand. The very faith is at stake!

Yes we need women doctors and dentists and all the rest of it but there’ll always be Muslim women who’ll go ahead and do that anyway, whatever the scholars tell them so let them go ahead. As for the rest of the practising Muslimat: after 17 years of experience in the workplace, I simply cannot imagine how we will safeguard our Islamic identity in the future and build strong Muslim communities in the West with women wanting to go out and becoming employed in the hell that it is out there. I don’t feel the need to offer any explanation. That’s just the way it is. I’ve seen far too many families split up, childrens’ lives ruined and ones Islamic development curtailed for myself to ever support women being outside the family home more than they already are.

That’s the Islamist preacher Abu Eesa Niamatullah speaking.

Here’s another dismal view:

Well the question arises, would I recommend a job for any sister? And the answer is in general, in general no. In general it’s not something that a sister should do.

That’s Yasir Qadhi putting ambitious Muslim women in their place. Qadhi continues this way:

So if you stick to the sharia, you will keep your honour and dignity and liberty. And if you go beyond the sharia, this is where the wolves and the predators [men] will come and try to get you. So the general rule is that sisters should not work. They should not work because their role is as wives and mothers.

We have a job to do and that is to bring about an ummah, to bring about a generation. Men have been assigned a role in that job and women have been assigned a role. It is not fair to compare apples and oranges.

What’s the problem? Be happy with your little lot!

Stay at your house. Your food and drink will come to you. What more do you want? Your husband will provide for you all that you need. What more do you want? Instead of looking at it from a negative way, look at from a positive way. You take care of the small, little things of the house, you please your husband, and in return your husband will give you the far more difficult things to do, of earning money and doing this and that.

There is one Islamist agitation outfit that certainly hasn’t challenged these men. It’s MEND. On the contrary – MEND gives Niamatullah and Qadhi star billing at its events.

So what’s this, then? As dark jokes go, I suppose it’s pretty good.

Now to be fair to MEND, it does employ women. Sahar al-Faifi of the Welsh arm, for example. She’s ideal for MEND. Here she is supporting Hamas:

While the champion of jihadis Moazzam Begg is a hero:

His story is the perpetually overlooked pith of the matter, that perhaps; the only way to end terrorism is to stop doing it. For that, one cannot but laud Begg for his an inimitable courage in his cause, to have a more answerable government and hold MI5 and MI6 to account.

Wait, what about the horrors of Islamic State? Oh, you know this is an easy one. It’s an American conspiracy against Islam:

When atrocities like the London Bridge attacks happen, wise up!

London Bridge attack, who is to blame?

You know this is how it works in simple terms. Security companies and arms industries make profits of creating threat and fear. They are part of social and political power structures, named as the establishment. Scaremongering is what keeps the power structures alive. Labour and the Tories are both products of the establishment and had Corbyn not been elected a leader of the labour party, the difference between Tories and labour is non-existent. Tories are knowingly linked to many corporates, including arms and pharmaceutical ones like MERCK and funded by pro-Zionists pro-war individuals such as Robert Rosenkranz, Lord Ashcroft and Lord Kalms the owner of Dixons. These people make money from wars and it is within their interest to make the world unstable by funding fear via morons and militias.

Thank goodness for Jeremy, eh. He knows “the Zionists”!

Labour in 2017 is very good at empowerment, I must admit. Empowering extremists, that is.


Miko Peled on the Holocaust and free speech

The topic of antisemitism has loomed large at this year’s Labour conference in Brighton. One detail from today’s unedifying Free Speech on Israel fringe event stood out for me. The Mirror reports:

Israeli-American author Miko Peled told a conference fringe meeting Labour members should support the freedom to “discuss every issue, whether it’s the holocaust, yes or no, whether it’s Palestine liberation – the entire spectrum.

And you can listen to the clip here.

Holocaust denial isn’t illegal in this country – and I assume (unless ‘yes or no’ implies some Labour members might actually endorse the final solution) that this is what Peled was referring to.  The threshold for what is legal to discuss should be very different from what is acceptable in a respectable political party. Was he – and the Labour members sitting in the room – really suggesting that the historical reality of the Holocaust is a legitimate topic for debate?


And so…

While millions of Americans face months of utter misery and health crises without electric power or reliable supplies of fresh water, President Trump focuses his (and the media’s) attention on what’s really important: African-American professional athletes who kneel in protest during the National Anthem.

Speaking Friday at a rally for a candidate for US Senate from Alabama in a Republican primary (whom he didn’t do any favors), Trump rambled for an hour-and-a-half on a number of topics, including this:

President Trump issued a profane call to NFL team owners to fire players who engage in peaceful political protest on the field while speaking Friday night at an Alabama rally for Sen. Luther Strange (R). “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now?’” Trump asked his audience. “Out. He’s fired. He’s fired.” The rally crowd responded with cheers.

“You know what’s hurting the game?” the president continued. “When people like yourselves turn on television and you see those people taking the knee when they’re playing our great national anthem.” Trump encouraged his supporters to walk out of the stadium in counter-protest should they ever observe an NFL player’s protest in person.

Trump also withdrew an invitation to the White House to the National Basketball Association champion Golden State Warriors after one player said he wouldn’t be going.

Since then Trump has taken his supposedly valuable time to tweet his outrage and call on fans to react accordingly.

And so today, National Football League players, black and white, who hadn’t previously done so are “taking a knee” or locking arms in solidarity with those who have. This may be precisely what Trump intended (red meat for his “base”), but it’s hard to see anything remotely “Presidential” about it.

Update: Trump approves of arm-locking, even though it’s a show of defiance aimed at him.

And, as is often the case with our president, it’s all about ratings.


Uber angst

TFL’s decision not to renew Uber’s license has (like so much else) polarised social media.  Paul Mason is pleased:

but some are bemoaning what they see as a distortion of the free market.

And many Londoners are simply concerned at the prospect of losing a cheap and convenient service.  Fleet Street Fox seems unnecessarily dismissive of their regrets here.

Of course not all drivers will agree with this anonymous writer who welcomes the sanctions against Uber.

at first you could make a good living. But then Uber slashed prices to attract customers, and began recruiting on a massive scale to keep up with demand. Not only did we end up with more drivers working longer hours, for worse pay, but some of those drivers should never have been behind the wheel.

And by introducing some competition, as Ed Vaizey pointed out on the Today programme, Uber seems to have forced black cabs to improve and modernise their service.

However I agree with Wes Streeting, also interviewed this morning on Today. Just because a service is popular doesn’t mean that it should be allowed to flout regulations.  The emphasis in this recent decision has been on safety issues but there are also problems relating to drivers’ pay and conditions.