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Things I'm watching to see if Brexit is as bad economically as I think it's going to be.

1) FX rates, particularly the GBP:USD rate and the difference in movement between GBP:EUR and GBP:USD. Brexit will be uncertain for the UK and probably very bad, pushing down on the GBP. If people start to think it will drag the rest of the EU down with it then the USD will strengthen and the Euro won't
2) Petrol prices - the first time voters will feel Brexit in the their pocket will be next week when petrol prices go up and the weak pound makes dollar denominated oil more expensive.
3) Inflation figures in the quarter July-Sept. Again, driven by the weak pound I'd expect inflation to start nosing up a little
4) Job creation figures for the same quarter - if they are flat we are probably heading for a recession.
5) Quantative easing of some sort by the Bank of England - I believe the stock phrase is "organised support". Volumes, timings, and take up
6) Balance of payments - we already have a balance of payments problem, weak exports compensated for by inward investment. Will the investment keep coming?
7) Our credit rating with the other ratings agency - have the priced in all the bad news already?

Politically I'm watching for some pressure to be put on us. Possibly by ourselves. Not words but actual events.
1) The Calais frontier being moved back to England (watch for footage of drowned toddlers washed up on the beaches below the White Cliffs)
2) The Spanish government blockading Gibrator. (On some pretext. Looking for drugs or petrol smugglers.)
3) A pretty clear offer that Scotland can remain in the EU and therefore that if the UK leaves it will cease to be the UK
4) The Loyalist marching season in Northern Ireland getting out of hand.

What else should I be keeping an eye on.
 
 
 
 
 
 
The country has been plunged in to chaos and the lights have gone out all over Europe.

Here at the Tartan Shortbread Institute of Scotology we've gotten hold of a couple of British candles and we've analysed the positions, pedigree and experience of the five candidates for Tory leader.

And we've decided to bring you 25 True Facts About Boris Johnson instead

1) Coward
2) Opportunist
3) Opportunistic Coward
4) Cowardly Opportunist
5) Back-stabber
6) Back-stabing Cowards
7) Cowardly Back-stabber
8) Back-stabbing Opportunist
9) Oppotunistic Back-stabber
10) Cowardly, Opportunistic Back-stabber
11) Opportunist, Cowardly Back-stabber
12) Back-stabbing Opportunistic Coward
13 Back-stabbing Cowardly Opportunist
14) Liar
15 Fool
16) Lying Fool
17) Foolish Liar
18) Self-Centred
19) Selfish Liar
20) Selfish Fool
21) Selfish Lying Fool
22) Lying Selfish Fool
23) Foolish Selfish Liar
24) Selfish Foolish Liar
25) Foolish Lying Narcissist
26) Lying Foolish Narcissist
27) Back-stabbing Cowardly Opportunistic Lying Foolish Narcissist.

Admittedly, that is 27 True Facts rather than 25 True Facts but everyone one knows that 27 is the gross figure, not the net figure.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Where does  Brexit leave voting reform?

Very difficult to tell. It will depend on the how the cascade of crises we're about to have tumble. That is probably true for many things.

My view is obviously coloured by the fact that I think our poor voting system is one of the contributory factors in the Brexit vote. If you think that I'm an out of touch Guardian reading, metropolitian liberal elite wanker who is part of the problem then my diagnosis is unlikely to be persuasive.

There are I think a number of binary positions to consider that build up to some scenarios.

Brexit either will or will not happen before 2020.

The government either will or will not collapse.

The Labour Party will recognise that it has lost the firm support of many traditional voters or it will not.

Scotland either will or won't become independent.

The Party system either will or won't break down.

As a reaction to the shock to the Party System can progressives or conservaties gather round a vote winning leader or a vote winning platform or not? Are social liberals and economic liberals allied or opposed? Do they converge or diverge?

Amongst that there are some scenarios that favour voting reform or constitutional reform more widely.

For example, the government collapses before Christmas, without Brexit, the Labour Party runs on a manifesto of putting power back in the hands of people with a constitutional convention, electoral reform and regional devolution.

Or the less favourably, the Tories don't implode and quietly don't invoke Article 50, we get to 2020 and the North of England votes for UKIP, Scotland votes for independence, and the Tories continue to run the country just has they have been for the decade before.

I think we need electoral reform but it is difficult to persuade people that it the solution to the problems that they have in their lives because they don't see the connection between voting mechanics and how power is operated and how power is used to apply resources to solve problems.
 
 
 
 
 
 
I was corresponding with a USian colleague about the impact of Brexit on our business and offered him some Brexit Buzzwords that he could drop in to conversations in the US so as to appear knowledgable and on the ball.

I offer 15 of them below. Feel free to add your own



  1. Article 50 (has not been invoked)

  2. Corbynista (#JezzWeCan - equivalent to #FeelTheBern)

  3. £350 million

  4. Cornwall (voted for Brexit, would like the UK goverment to guarrantee its EU funding)

  5. Sewell Convention (the memorandum that lays out the process for changing the devolution settlement for Scotland)

  6. Dundalk - Newry crossing - (the bit of the Northern Ireland / Republic of Ireland border with the most traffic - if I recall correctly this is where a senior IRA commander had a farm that literally straddled the border.)

  7. Wiff Waff is Coming Home.

  8. "Actually I've got €50 onTeresa May becoming PM"

  9. The pound, oh my god, the pound.

  10. Kubler Ross Grief Cycle

  11. "Nicola Sturgeon is perhaps the most astute politician in the UK."

  12. #IndyRef2

  13. "Actually I've got €50 on Tom Watson becoming Labour Leader."

  14. Guardian reading metropolitian liberal elite (you say that as if it's a bad thing)

  15. Unwritten constitution.

 
 
 
 
 
 

A serious thought about the EU Referendum and the possibility of a second Scottish Independence referendum.

I was, and am, in favour of Scottish Independence within the EU.

I was, and am, in favour of the UK remaining part of the EU.

I wish I could have both. If we can not have both I think we should pick the EU over the UK.

Ideally, for me, Scotland would become independent from the UK whilst both were in the EU. There would be a natural and pre-existing trading arrangement. We (Scotland) would have to ride out a few years adjusting to running our own country, getting a workable currency and setting our tax rates right. It would be difficult in the short term but I think, on balance, probably, better economically and politically in the medium term. This is a guess not a promise and I might be wrong. Other people thought so and I respect their thought processes and their right to their own values and risk preferences.

But we don't live in an ideal world. There appears to be no sweet spot where we can have easy trading relationships with both the rest of the UK and the other 27 members of the EU. The next few years are going to be economically challenging in exactly the same way as Scottish Indepdence was always going to be. Avoiding the sunk cost fallacy we have to make the best of the situation we are in today, not the best of the situation we thought we were in a week ago. We have to go forward from where we are. Where we are, today,  is in flux, with both peril and opportunity on all sides.

And so, it might now be the case that Scottish Indepedence as  part of the EU is the best option for my country even if it wasn't when the rest of the UK was an EU member state.

If that is the case I think we should do it quickly. To quote the first and greatest British playwright

"Thereis a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of theirlife is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures."

and

"If it were donewhen 'tis done, then 'twere well It were done quickly"

The position of the SNP before the EU referendum as I saw it was a) to reserve the right to hold a second referendum to Scottish people, and b) to actually wait until there was a pent up demand for independence. Fair and resonable under the circumstances in my view. But slow, so slow, so flat footed.

I think those circumstances have changed. We have a very strong vote for Remain in Scotland. Is that a proxy for a vote for Independence? Maybes Aye, Maybes Nay. There's only one way to find out soon. And find out soon we must. There is an opportunity for Scotland to profit from England's error. If we move quickly, quickly to establish a firm invitation to remain in the EU, quickly to hold and win an independence referendum and then quickly to set our trade and taxation policy so as to predate on England's uncertain future by encouraging international businesses currently located in England who want an Anglophone location in the EU to relocate to Scotland rather than Ireland. Which if they are going to do, they will do sooner rather than later.

Are the people of Scotland up for this? Only one way to find out. If we wait until we are certain the opportunity to walk away from the implosion of the UK with at least our own country and economy and people intact will be gone.

So I think Sturgon should get on a plane and fly round every European capital and ask them to jointly and severally invite Scotland to stay in the EU. If successful she should announce a referendum to be held before Christmas. If that is for independence then we negotiate SExit alongside Brexit and stay in the EU.

If unsuccessful we are not any worse off. If we wait to see how damaging Brexit will be and how that actually affects public opinion the damage to us will be done and the opportunity to ameliorate that damage with some prudent, sharp business will be lost.

To be clear - I am absolutely advocating that we (Scotland) conspire to stab our closest ally and dearest friend in the back. Et tu Scotus. We should not stand with them whilst they try to work out how to be a non-European nation. We should take advantage of their distress to prosper ourselves. What choice have they left us? What choice have we left ourselves.

I vote for #IndyRef2 within six months.

 
 
 
 
 
 

The Tartan Shortbread Institute of Scotology has been busy peering in to the future of the UK England to determine if there actually is any future for any of us now. There’s good news and there’s bad news. The good news is that the Institute has secured EU funding from the Social Cohesion Fund. The bad news – well we’ve found ourselves locked up on a small island with a bunch of racists lead by the Chuckle Brothers. To pass the time until our taxi arrives to take us back to Europe here are 25 True Facts about Life After Brexit


  1. A radical change in education policy will be the first act of the new UK government. History, Economics and Science will be removed from the curriculum and replaced with Casual Racism and C’mon Engerland Studies.

  2. The Queen will abdicate and then be deported. Britain will become a republic. There doesn’t appear to be any other way to get round the fact that our Royal Family are unwelcome EU economic migrants who moved here from Germany and Greece to build a better life for themselves and their children.

  3. After stemming a massive run on the banks by personally standing in the streets of Newcastle handing out five euro notes Mark Carney will be given a knighthood for his services to not fucking things up any more than they already are. He won’t be able to accept the knighthood, because he’s Canadian and not a UK citizen.

  4. With the UK leaving the EU the European Union has lost the fifth largest economy in the world and will have to rely on the Germans to run everything and make everything. The Germans seem remarkably unconcerned by this onerous responsibility.

  5. After losing the Labour leadership election to an empty sack of potatoes dressed in a kimono and lightly garnished with gladioli Jeremy Corbyn will become our lead exit negotiator with the EU Commission. Wearing only a heliotrope smoking jacket he will be tasked with negotiating the terms of the UK's exit from the EU. He will bring a touch of vigour and enterprise to the EU that has been sadly missing of late. By the end of the negotiations Pimlico will be a Workers Revolutionary Paradise and the rest of London will belong to Donald Trump.

  6. Wiff Waff is coming home. It's being carried home by about a million ex-pat Brits from Spain. They have exactly the keen reflexes and go get 'em attitude we need to make ourselves the Wiff Waff capital of the Commonwealth.

  7. The Commonwealth will vote to expel us. No reason, well, no reason other than the fact that we’ve destroyed our own economy so are of no value to them and have just revealed ourselves to still be massively racist dicks. Also, without the Queen we no longer have anyone interesting to send on visits when the governments of Commonwealth nations want to distract their own population from corruption scandals or their own economic woes. Now they don’t have to. Instead they can just point at England, the world’s sixth largest economy and laugh.

  8. The new Prime Minister of the UK will be hand picked by the 1922 Committee from amongst the brightest and best Old Etonions not currently too busy running daddy’s hedge fund or in prison for illegal arms trading. If you are lucky it will Teresa May.

  9. You are shit out of luck. The new Prime Minister of the UK will be Boris Johnson. Unlike Mario Cuomo who campaigned in poetry and governed in prose Johnson will campaign in Latin and govern in incoherent, self-serving gibberish but still, never mind, there’s always the Wiff Waff. And the casual racism. Oh and the UK will still be the world’s seventh largest economy.

  10. The south of England can ignore global warming and the risk of droughts. Hose pipe bans will be a thing of the past. The roses of Kent will be watered by the bitter, bitter tears of EU citizens who are going to be sent back to where they come from. NB this does not apply to Boris Johnson who is an American of Turkish descent or Nigel Farage’s German wife.

  11. Scotland will leave. We will take our Wiff Waff paddles with us.

  12. People worried about the fragile peace in Northern Ireland will thank a catholic God that the IRA are reasonable people.

  13. A moment of national contemplation and celebration will occur giving thanks that this whole sordid affair has passed off without a shot being fired. Well, except for the ones that murdered Jo Cox. A bit like immigrants you personally like, those bullets don’t count.

  14. Port Talbot steel works will close but the Welsh will still be able to make a living doing whatever it is they do in the 21stcentury’s eighth largest economy.

  15. No one will point and laugh at us during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. This is largely due to the fact that Brasil has problems of its own with a massive scary plague, inept and corrupt politicians, a tanking economy and uneasy relationship with a colonial past. Birds of a feather.

  16. Pairing off against Jeremy Corbyn and Michael Gove in the Brexit negotiations will be newly appointed EU Commissioner Alex Salmond.  Only kidding. We’re sending Billy Connolly – you boys look like you need cheering up and we have to respect that the EU is negotiating with the world’s ninth largest economy. Negotiations will drag on for years as Connolly attempts but fails to finish an anecdote about a Glaswegian shepherd wrestling a fish supper in his wellies.

  17. London will demand a devolution settlement on a par with Scotland but with full fiscal autonomy. That’s full fiscal autonomy for the rest of England. The bits with no jobs or money. New Premier Sadiq Kahn will cancel fiscal transfers and solidarity payments to the North of England on the grounds that most of the money is made by EU citizens and they don’t see why it should be spent on schools and hospitals in a foreign country.

  18. Round about the time that Scotland and Northern Ireland leave the UK the former Great Britain will realise that the Great in Great Britain refers to its size relative to Brittany when both of those areas were part of the Angevian Empire and just because you call something “great” doesn’t make it actually great unless by “great” you mean xenophobic, myopic and destitute.

  19. In 2019, just ahead of the next English General Election, from out of the sack of potatoes occupying the Opposition dispatch box will emerge Gordon Brown, the King over the Water, who will lead the Labour to a stunning election victory just in time to be served with a repossession notice by the French. They would like Hastings back.

  20. Douglas Carswell will defect to Plaid Cymru.

  21. The main economic activity of the rump of the UK will be betting on how long the recession will last. This will sustain the UK as the twelfth largest economy in the world.

  22. Bob Geldolf will organise a fund raising concert on a barge in the Thames for impoverished Mackums. No one will go.

  23. The third runway at Heathrow will finally go ahead. At long last someone will find a use for all those sodding Wiff Waff paddles. They can be used to guide the private jets of Russian Mafioso to their personal tax free terminal building. The Pret a Manger in Terminal Five will overtake the UK to become the world’s seventeenth largest economy.

  24. Freed of costly regulations like workers’ rights, paid holiday and health and safety legislation the working classes of the North will enjoy a cultural renaissance where they rediscover the whole point of class solidarity, internationalism and organised labour. Paul Mason will martyr himself with a searing blog about international capitalism or something. The General Strike of 2026 will bring the world’s 47thlargest economy to its knees.

  25. England will be knocked out of the 2022 World Cup at the semi-final stage by Germany on penalties. An embarrassed Angela Merkell will be heard to mutter “You really can’t help some people can you?”

 
 
 
 
 
 
This isn't a prediction but more of a prior or a baseline.

As you sow, so shall ye reap and sometimes you are not the harvester but the harvest.

If Scotland is to become independent and pick up any benefit of businesses wanting to keep an Angolphone office inside the EU it will need to become independent within the EU pretty fast. I'd be disappointed if Sturgeon wasn't on a plane to Brussels and Bonn today.

Indyref Part 2 within a year. Yes wins by a narrow margin. Scotland opens popcorn but realises it actually has some work to do so sells the popcorn. Watch the predatory corporation tax rate and the subtlely lax banking regulation. (Let's hope we have the sense to keep some of the tax revenue back for the next crash.)

Chaos in the Tory Party. They either need to back off the central plank of their economic policy of reducing the deficit through spending cuts or they need to magically make the economy not be affected by the referendum result or admit that their economic credibilty is worth about as much as the pound. So, the emergency budget will be devisive - for them - and brutal for the working classes in the North of England and the Midlands. I'd expect May to emerge at Tory leader and the next PM.

Chaos in the Labour Party. Corbyn is utterly pish. Essentially backed Leave.  I thought he'd manage to communicate with people and shift the Overton Window a bit but it feels like he's sitting at his desk writing strident blog posts, filing his paperclips and gazing at the pin-ups in the Morning Star. However, the Labour right hasn't re-organised in to a coherent post-Blarite grouping and, to be honest, doesn't have much in the way of quality to offer either.

I think we probably avoid a snap general election. Jeez, that would be messy.

Plan A - we (they) end up having a second EU referendum post exit negotiations on the question "Do you want to stay in the EU or take the actual deal on offer?"

Plan B - Britain (aka England) gets left to dangle for a year or more and ends up in the European Economic Area but on pretty strict terms, probably including Schengen. (I personally won't be sorry about this. I like the EU, I like free movement, I like every closer union and being forced to join the EEA will be a much needed punch to the nuts of post-imperialist little Englanders. Also, I'll be living in a post-independence Scotland.)

Those are not our Plans A and B but the German's Plans A & B.

Ten or twenty years after England joins the EEA it votes to rejoin the EU finally shorn of its illustions that the rest of the world owes it any favours.

The working class of the North of England and the Midlands continues to be slowly evicerated by the Conservative Party. If you want a vision of the future, imagine a hand-made Italian brogue stamping on a face, forever.

But not I think in my country.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Last week's weekend was a belter but tinged with worry.

Mostly lovely and sunny with some odd weather to make things interesting.

Saturday morning had the usual early start to watch Red Dwarf with the Captain. Then soccer in the park with his school. I was observing to the dad of one of the other kids that the kids seemed to have gotten the hang of kicking the ball when the Captain got a sturdy shot right in the chest which ricocheted in to his face, flooring him. He was a hurt. So much so that I was half way to him before he was coaxed back to his fit.

After a snack it was time for rugby. The Captain was sin binned for offside during the tag game. Harshly I thought. Unfortunately the fact that the Captain was sitting on the sidelines slipped the mind of the  coach and the Captain was out of the game for quite a while. He took this in quite good spirits. Considering. Generally a good standard of play but not quite as keen as usual all round. What was nice is that the kids are begining to remember each other and interact as pals.

Saturday afternoon was snoozey.  I fixed the new loo seat. It is silver. I'm not sure I love it but I don't hate it. Had a bit of a nap whilst listening to the cricket whilst My Lovely Wife and the Captain painted paint samples on to paper so we could compare colours to the short-list of wallpaper. We discovered that the understair cupboard door had been painted shut by the painter. My opinion of tradesmen took another knock - painters in particular.

Sri Lanka would be a better team if they picked a few batsmen and bowlers to go along with the 11 fielders they seem to have brought to England.

The living room is to be redecorated with similar wallpaper and paint to the current offering. I favour a wallpaper pattern with some peony roses which I would team with a red couch.

MLW then watched the Musketeers (which I'm sceptical about at the moment) and House of Cards (US version) which I think is great.

Sunday also started early. Most days start early. We went to see watch the start of the Edinburgh Marathon and cheer on a couple of friends. We saw them both but, slightly embarrassingly only after they had spotted us. Then brunch with WidgetFox in Soderburgh, the Swedish cafe in Quartermile. They do a few things very well. I enjoyed my breakfast. It was lovely to see WidgetFox. We spoke about cricket and cycling and whatnot.

After brunch MLW, the Captain and I set off for Crammond. We crossed the causeway to the island and walked clear across the island to the Firth of Forth. Adventure abounded. It was a long and winding road and we had to rely on our native guide on the trek. At least this was the Captain's view. The far end of the island had a) more bunkers - we went in them all, b) lots of broken glass which we avoided c) what looked like day two of a weekend camping and drinking and dancing party (The Captain did not care for the loud noise - I was impressed by the quality of the stereo d) a great view of one of the islands made to look like a battle ship and used as a decoy.

This prompted a discussion of the battle of Jutland (it being the anniversary this weekend), British naval strategy during World War One - the blockade of Germany, starving the Germans, not losing a battle being more important than winning one. This was followed by the German bombing and submarine campaign in the Second World War directed at blockading Britain. Then we talked about the Captain's great-great-granddad who had fought in the Boer War which took us to concentration camps. Marathons reminded us of the Graeco-Persian wars.  Later the Captain wanted to know about a war that had happened since he was born - so Syria.  All in all not very jolly but he was fascinated and kept asking questions. Including asking me how I knew so much about things.

We went out for tea to a Chinese buffet. Very nice as these things go. Buffets are easier with the Captain because he can eat straight away and can look after himself. The spicy aubergine stood out for me.

MLW was babysitting so I read the Captain some stories and then watched a bit of television before reading an interesting book about Homer. So far it is very much about the emotional experience of discovering Homer but pretty light on facts or theory. I'm sure we'll get to it, but so far the author likes Homer.

The bad news came at the very end. Woke up very early on Monday to a message from my sister. She had spent the night at A&E having cut her hand very, very badly on a broken glass. This sucks for all sorts of reasons beyond the obvious.  The news today is that she has probably escaped permanent tendon damage but will need an operation on Thursday.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Last night I watched A Midsummers Night's Dream as adapted by Russel T Davies.

I quite enjoyed it.

I have mixed feelings about the play. It's the most hipsterish of Shakespeare' plays. Which means it was probably writen by the Earl of Oxford. Not content with writing one play we get the play within the play. And the Mortals are performing for the Fairies, who are performing for us. Hamlet also has an internal play but that's about the use of propaganda. This play is about itself.  It's a play about plays, about players, and playwrights, a play about being in a play, a play about plays about plays. And therefore as exciting as a night at the Baftas.

I also find the Mechanicals quite unamusing. They feel forced and unfunny. A bit like my accountancy exams; the main thing I enjoy about Bottom is when he's over.

On the other hand I enjoy the farcical element of Hermia and Helena, Lysander and Demetrius wandering through the forest each in love with the wrong person, misconstruing everything that is said and getting more and more irrational and lost. Which then bumps up against the plotting and cross-plotting and plots gone awry of the Fairies.  Then love triumphs over pride and everyone is happy. There's no dog on a string but you can't have everything.

I also have mixed feelings about the adaptation. It was brilliantly lush. Well performed. Fast enough paced. I'm not convinced by the pseudo-fascist trappings or the death of Theseus or entirely sure what was going on with Hippolyta.

What I loved about the adaptation was the brilliant performance of Fisayo Akinade giving Flute's brilliant performance as Thisbe. In amongst all the silliness and ham, intentional and untentional, he rounded off the peformance with a reminder that stories, and plays and films do have the power to move us and to change us.

Early one morning I shall try the Captain on it and see if he goes for the bright colours and the silliness.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Schools in south Edinburgh are pretty much full. Some combination of immigration, a spike in birth rates and the general good quality of the schools attracting people to the area means that most of the primary schools and all of the secondary schools are expected to be over-subscribed over the next ten years.

Various people are trying to find various ways of addressing - basically building a new primary school and a new annexe for the secondary schools.

One of the factors that is driving increased rolls is that my local secondary school picks up the Gaelic Medium teaching for Edinburgh and the Lothians.

I've been very sceptical about the promotion of the Gaelic language in southern and eastern Scotland for years now. Now the implications of the policy are begining to impact my own children's education I'm now more personally sceptical.