Campaigns

Carlos Ghosn Update?

https://on.ft.com/31Ciiwn

The failure in this article to mention his conditions of bail, previous periods of seemingly unjustified imprisonment and that he is barred from talking to his wife is worrying. The Financial Times seems to be shying away from the horrors of the Japanese judicial system as demonstrated by this case. Not covering these issues will only cause some long-term FT readers like myself to wonder about the pressures being placed on editorial staff but will also fuel concerns about the political nature of this investigation. The facts are not only yet to be judged but are evidently still being researched. Nevertheless, some commentators below seem to have had advance warning of the court’s guilty verdict. Maybe they would also care to inform us of what sentence he will be given. Could we have some coverage of the interview with Mrs Ghosn, please, just to give a little clarity?

Two-round Voting System

Given, the chaos that we have seen in the UK during then Brexit crisis, there are good reasons to look at different voting methods around the world. Having experienced the system used in presidential and some national elections in France, which also is used at times in some other countries, it may be useful to suggest how that might be applied in the UK and what would be the advantages and disadvantages. In particular, it is worth looking at the system of two rounds.

There are two types of system.  The first is where the first round is used to eliminate all but the two best scores, unless one gains over 50% in the first round. Then two weeks later there is a run-off between the two candidates. The second method is where a bar is fixed – usually 12.5% in the French system – below which any candidate is eliminated. Let us look at et the first system and examine the obvious advantages.:

  1. We are sure that anyone elected is elected by a majority of voters i.e. 50% + 1vote
  2. The two round system allows the electorate to express its preferred choice in the first round and vote definitively in the second
  3. The period of reflection of 2 weeks in the French case allows for alliances to be formed and policies to be refined or changed and for electors to consider and discuss their choices.

There is only one obvious disadvantage: the system requires electors to vote twice.

If we now apply the system to the recent Peterborough byelection, on the assumption that people would have voted the same way in the first round, we see that the final result might have been very different. As of today, under the 50% + 1 system everyone would have been eliminated except Labour and the Brexit party. Under the 12.5% barrier system the second there would be a three-way run-off between the Brexit Party, Labour and the Conservatives, the LibDems missing out by 81 votes.

So, one can try to speculate on how people would have voted if the choice was between Labour and Brexit, in the first system, or between these two and the Conservatives in the second system. What we see in France, however, is that the second-round turnout can also change dramatically. So, for example, faced with the prospect of voters trying to stop Labour winning, we might see the turnout, which was under 50% increase to 75%! Similarly, in order to ensure that the Brexit Party did not win we might see reluctant voters coming out, holding their noses and voting for Labour. What is important is also how the LibDems would advise their voters to vote after their elimination. I would suggest that Vince Cable would encourage them to vote Labour in the second round so as to rule out a hard Brexit. Now, if you reflect upon this, it is much more likely that the extremists would be eliminated.

If you coupled this system with voting on Sunday rather than Thursday, the two-round system could well involve a larger proportion of the population in the voting process.

Candidate Description (if any) Number of votes
BRISTOW Paul The Conservative Party 7243
FORBES Lisa Labour Party 10484
GOLDSPINK English Democrats 153
GREENE Mike The Brexit Party 9801
HOPE Howling The Official Monster Raving 112
KIRK Pierre Ed UK European Union Party 25
MOORE Andrew   101
O` FLYNN Patri SDP Fighting for Brexit 135
RODGERS Dick Common Good: Remain 60
ROGERS Tom Christian Peoples Alliance 162
SELLICK Beki Liberal Democrats 4159
SMITH Bobby   5
WARD Peter Mark Renew 45
WELLS Joseph Green Party 1035
WHITBY John UK Independence Party 400
Total 33920
12,50% 4240

The Threat from Iran

https://on.ft.com/2EV9J68

Interesting article from the FT. The much-vaunted investigation into the attack on oil tankers in the Gulf region was actually carried out by the UAE – hardly an impartial observer. That being said, what we notice is that “The attacks were designed to “incapacitate the ships without sinking them or detonating their cargoes,” according to the report, and later in the text, “which resulted in no casualties or oil spills.”

Now, if we suppose that this attack was carried out by Iran or its sympathisers, it actually shows a remarkable respect for human life, property and the environment. If the most evil of our enemies acts with such constraint, one must wonder about the true nature of the threat that is posed. An enemy that is prepared to show such concern for specific and general welfare is hardly compatible to one which supports suicide bombing or the use of chemical weapons and the indiscriminate harm caused by acts of terrorism, for example.

If we suppose that this attack was not carried out by Iran, then we have to ask ourselves who would have a motive to do such a thing in these circumstances. The obvious answer is any power that wishes to discredit Iran or its sympathisers. That would preclude Russia, China and other members of the current “axis of evil”. The finger would inevitably be pointed at the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Israel or the CIA acting in conjunction with another party.

It is noteworthy that John Bolton seems delighted that this action justifies a “very strong response from the US”.

Organised crime offenders ‘twice size of the army’, says NCA

https://on.ft.com/2VmUPL9

What this article tries to do, unsuccessfully, is to present a united  criminal front, as if those who subscribe to child pornography, for example, are actually linked to other types of criminality. It’s an old story that doesn’t have any credibility for the rational thinker. Indeed, if there is a link between those accused of sexual offences and the criminal classes, it is that the majority of the latter are most likely to be part of the lynch mob that would massacre the the former – whether they be guilty or innocent.

Carlos Ghosn – a dubious report by the FT

https://on.ft.com/2WvmIC1

Some people who are commenting conveniently forget that he has not been tried yet and should therefore benefit from the presumption of innocence. It is not up to this newspaper nor to its readers to judge Carlos Ghosn or any other person charged with any offence. The nature of the offence does not change this principle. Secondly, whatever he might or might not have done does not justify his treatment by the Japanese authorities. The latest incarceration had no legal justification except to encourage him to confess. That hardly shows that there is a cast iron case against him. Thirdly, one wonders how the FT obtained this information. Without wishing to deny the FT the right to publish but this looks like an exercise in hardening public opinion against Carlos Ghosn and against Lebanon which can only help the prosecution. “According to people familiar with the investigation” is supposed to mean what exactly, FT, when you also state that “Nissan and Tokyo prosecutors declined to comment.”? Was the defence team asked to comment?

Companies House and Money Laundering Regulations

https://www.ft.com/content/89955e82-4170-11e8-803a-295c97e6fd0b

This FT Article highlights the absolute hypocrisy of the UK authorities when it comes to applying the anti-money laundering gospel that they preach. In order to keep the costs of company formation down they have simply not applied the rules that are applied elsewhere in the world. For example, I would suggest that if one cannot afford the cost of a visit to a notary to validate ID’s etcetera, then one should not be allowed to start a limited liability company which grants a favoured status to the company in terms of indebtedness. 

Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and Racism

https://on.ft.com/2GLviY6

“The phrase “anti-Muslim hatred” would be clearer, legally speaking, than “Islamophobia”. But it is resisted by some who seem determined to conflate beliefs, which are a choice, with race, which is biological.”

I am slightly bemused by the above comment taken from the quoted FT article. The first thing that comes to mind is that beliefs are not really a choice for many people. If you are born into a Sikh family, for example, then the probability that you will maintain some form of Sikh belief, culture or tradition is extremely high. That applies to so many people of different backgrounds. Of course, you can choose to separate yourself from your tradition or culture just as you can choose to separate yourself from the appearance of belonging to a race. I have a Pakistani acquaintance, for example, who, when dressed in a suit and speaking English is not distinguishable as a Pakistani. There are British racists, of course, who pretend that they are able to spot a Pakistani just as there are American racists that I have known who say they can distinguish whether an American is black or white by their telephone manner. My initial reaction is always “I don’t believe you but who cares anyway”.

Many people refer to a behaviour called “anti-Semitism” that is extremely confusing. Semitism is a racial or linguistic characteristic which encompasses many non-Jewish people (Goyim if you wish). So, an expression which would be more appropriate might be “Judeophobia”. There have been many attempts, possibly successful, to conflate anti-Semitism with Judeophobia. They cannot be equivalent in all logic but we can see why the problem exists. If one is Judeophobic does one have an irrational hatred of Judaism, the people who believe in the hundreds of different versions of Judaism or simply the people who self-identify as Jewish. What we intuitively know is that most acts of anti-Semitism have nothing to do with the analysis of actual religious belief. We also know that there is little difference in the physical characteristics of the Semitic peoples. The stupidity is that traditionally the hatred in Europe was of the Yiddish culture not really of the Jewish peoples or religion.

Now if we refer back to the article and its discussion of the conflation of beliefs and race, we can see exactly the same problem. I had a Sri-Lankan friend with whom I played cricket many years ago who was beaten up by white youths at Southend who called him a Paki Muslim. The fact that he was not a Pakistani and was a practising Christian did not cross their mind. He looked like a Pakistani and that was good enough for them

The idea that people are opposed to Islam as a religion is preposterous because most of those people would not understand the differences between what the old testament says in the three Abrahamic religions. Certainly, if we take a literal view, all three are proponents of multiple forms of barbarism against non-believers, usury, so-called idolatry, and various other practices that are currently acceptable. I do not pretend to know the details of these religions either. What I do know is that racism knows no boundaries. You can call it whatever you like but, at the end of the day, racists are people who believe they can define a person’s contribution to humanity by their non-adherence, by choice, circumstance or birth, to a preconceived idea of community. An irrational hatred of otherness.

Carlos Ghosn Act III?

https://on.ft.com/2Ufysfc

Whatever Ghosn may or may not have done, there can be no justification for not releasing him on bail. He has already proven that he is no flight risk. Indeed, his proposed press conference even confirms it. We can debate whether the Japanese judicial system is better or worse than others, but if we concentrate on this specifc case, it seems that the authorities are wishing to silence him and make it as difficult as possible for him to defend himself. Moreover, I am extremely concerned about the lack of concern shown by other governments for Carlos Ghosn’s welfare. If this can happen to him it could happen to many others. Consider this: he is wealthy and well known throughout the world. What of the other cases of which we have no knowledge? Some may think that he is just another of the international elite and therefore of no consequence to them or their entourage, but the fact that he is who he is  makes this situation a threat to any unknown person travelling to Japan on business and a very damaging precedent.

Brexit shambles should lead to constitutional change

https://on.ft.com/2HZjlPx

 A good article but perhaps Philip Stephens could have commented on the constitutional anachronisms that led us to this impasse. Mrs May might be the worst Prime Minister we have ever had, but we should question why she has been able to favour party over country for so long without appropriate controls being placed upon the executive. An upper chamber emasculated by its democratic deficit and a lack of an effective head of state are two areas we need to look at, in my opinion. Tradition is a wonderful thing but does not necessarily provide the best way of managing a country that no longer “rules the waves”. Once Brexit is resolved what is to stop this sort of nightmare happening again? That is the question that citizens of this country need to ask.

UK to lose £1tn of financial assets to Europe due to Brexit

https://www.ft.com/content/016171be-4a74-11e9-8b7f-d49067e0f50d … via @financialtimes

What Brexit is doing at the very least is fostering competition in other EU capitals. It is not just a question of losing £1tn of assets or 7000 high level jobs. That little loss for the City is a huge gain for smaller centres. All of the arguments about financial services staying in the City because of its “financial ecosystem” are being drained away – not just by the uncertainty as Lord Digby Jones insists – by the actual act of self-destruction which is Brexit. As an example, Spanish restaurant/hospitality workers will quite happily go to Amsterdam, Dublin, Frankfurt or Paris where they will earn more and be treated with greater respect. The argument that they wanted to learn English evaporates because they will specifically be hired because of their language skills including ability to speak English.