Monday, 23 April 2018

Creating a hostile environment™

Sadly, it's not only Theresa May who believes that designing unpleasant environments is a good thing...

We don't need no stinkin' (Br)exit strategy!

From last week, but still pertinent, here's Tim Harford on how a chaotic, incoherent non-strategy can be a feature, not a bug - at least for a while:
The Brexiters seemed hamstrung by the fact that they ran two mutually suspicious campaigns — Leave.EU and Vote Leave. “It wasn’t one of my adverts,” said Nigel Farage about Vote Leave’s bus, while Boris Johnson said Mr Farage’s inflammatory poster about refugees was “not my campaign” and “not my politics”. This left the Leave campaign, as Sun Tzu advised, “without ascertainable shape”, so voters picked which ever message resonated, while the Remain campaign did not know where to look. Dominic Cummings, of Vote Leave, later said a united Leave campaign would have been easily defeated.
This got me thinking about the parallels with the almost equally protean strategy that got the 2003 Iraq War on:
We know how the 2003 decision worked out. The 2016 decision still has a way to run, but it's already brought us to the absurd paradox of being at the mercy of people who've spent decades developing their monomaniacal obsession with exiting the European Union, but never agreed a coherent exit strategy.

The poetic justice would be highly satisfying, if only the rest of us didn't have to survive "the shear where uncaring reality meets uncompromising ideology."

Friday, 20 April 2018

Though cowards run and traitors sneer...

... we'll keep the pink flag flying here:

Where does this vexillological curiosity come from? I didn't realise, until reading this, that some of the international volunteers fighting for the Kurdish People's Protection Units, against Daesh and everybody's favourite fascistic frenemy, Erdoğan, have started organising themselves under the banner of the International Freedom Battalion (IFB). The IFB is a loose collection of national and factional groups, some of which are called brigades, with a nod to the International Brigades of the Spanish Civil War.

There is, for example, the Anglo-Irish Bob Crow Brigade and the French Henri Krasucki Brigade (also named for a promenant trade union leader).

And the pink flag? It's the flag of another IFB unit, The Queer Insurrection and Liberation Army (TQILA), formed in response to the persecution of LGBT people by Daesh.

What Comrade Kalashnikov would have made of his deadly brainchild adorning the flag of a group of radical gay anarchist guerrillas I don't know, although it wouldn't be the first time its image has been appropriated for a flag:
The image of AK-47 appears on the flag of Mozambique as well as coats of arms of Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso (1984-97) and East Timor. The Kalashnikov rifle is also present on the flag of Lebanese militant organization, Hezbollah. 
It's probably one of those things that reactionary numbskulls everywhere will seize upon as futher evidence of the collapse of civilization, even though the combination of same-sex action and military action has a venerable history going back at least to the Sacred Band of Thebes.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Catwoman: hostile, yet global

The "hostile environment" policy is a straightforwardly awful idea from straightforwardly awful people with straightforwardly awful consequences for the designated victims. But it also seems to form part of a wider agenda which is also awful, but not in quite such a straightforward way.

Exhibit A: 2012: Theresa "Catwoman" May "chooses her words with feline delicacy" as she tells her adoring Telegraph fanbase that "We're going to give illegal migrants a really hostile reception":
Exhibit B: The sidebar of immigration stories which appears next to that same Telegraph interview. Nestling in among the stories about migrants rioting in Calais, swamping the country, stealing our jobs by working too hard, or being gypsies, there's an intriguing article headlined "New VIP visa service for wealthy foreigners", next to another pic of the kitten-heeled dominatrix:
Taken together, the two articles make very interesting reading:
...soon, she insists, [net migration] figures will fall, as restrictions on student and working visas are reflected in the statistics. “We are seeing the number of visas issued going down, but there is a lag between those and feeding through into the net migration figures...”

...Today though, her focus is on those who are in Britain illegally, and her language becomes uncharacteristically vivid. “The aim is to create here in Britain a really hostile environment for illegal migration,” she declares....

...Ministers are creating a new visa system for global business leaders amid concerns that moves to tighten immigration rules are deterring “high-value” individuals from overseas.

Around 100 wealthy foreigners will initially be invited to join a new “bespoke” visa service which the Home Office said will ensure their passage through the UK border system is “swift and smooth.”

Members of the “GREAT Club” will get a personal “account manager” at the UK Visas and Immigration service to deal with their travel plans. The manager will arrange visa services “tailored to each individual’s needs at no extra cost”, the Home Office said.
Personal account managers for oligarchs, a Kafka-style bureaucratic nightmare for the "lower value individuals" from the Windrush and the EU who settled here under the mistaken impression that this was a country ruled by decency and fair play, rather than a private club where the rich and powerful get to shove everybody else aside as they push their way to the front of the queue.

If you ever wondered what sort of hybrid abomination will emerge from the apparently contradictary goals of creating a "global Britain"* which is simultaneously a "hostile environment" for those guilty of being insufficiently British, and insufficiently rich, these two articles paint a vivid picture.

*Again, sorry Northern Ireland - blame the people who came up with the phrase "global Britain." Although it looks as if you'll be getting your revenge on the "global Britain" mob, as their misty-eyed Empire 2.0 fantasies are shredded on contact with your border with the Irish Republic. It's a prime example of what Cory Doctorow calls "the shear where uncaring reality meets uncompromising ideology". Or, as sombody once tweeted, rather magnificently, "there are unicorns as far as the eye can see. And many of them are eating cake":

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Wake me up...

... I'm having this really disturbing dream where Ukip have turned the whole UK into a creepily unfunny, racist 1970s sitcom and put Jim Davidson in charge of the Foreign Office:
UK government guide advises people being deported to Jamaica to fake Caribbean accent to avoid attention
Wait a minute ... that was no dream...

Welcome to my nightmare.

Monday, 16 April 2018

On the road to Damascus

And Theresa went his way, and entered into the house; and putting her hands on him said, Brother Boris, The Donald, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.

And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales...

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Trending now

Well, here's a thing. I happened to be hunting the mot juste, using an online thesaurus, when I noticed which words are trending now:

"Lowlife", "kakistocracy", "slimeball", "salacious", "oligarch." There's your zeitgeist, right there.