A Nasty Piece of Work

John Martin McDonnell is a nasty piece of work. Some may view him as just dim and irresponsible, others as a sinister and manipulative individual. I am firmly in the latter camp. McDonnell has called for a million people to march in protest in London on July 1st. Is that clever when London is under persistent threat of terrorist attack? Will the Met welcome having to divert resources to police the event? There will be trouble. You can absolutely guarantee that. 

Veteran Corbyn agitator riles protesters at Kensington Town Hall, (picture from Guido)

McDonnell is urging people to protest to help destabilise the government, bring down the Prime Minister and force a second general election. His disrespectful contempt for democracy is outrageous and it is dangerous. The devious and calculating way that tragic events are being weaponised to stir up a hate campaign, which is full of false facts and disinformation and includes agitators appearing to protest in West Kensington while labelling themselves ‘locals', against the Prime Minister is an affront to decency and due process. 

What is happening is much, much more than mischief making. McDonnell and his henchmen are attempting to subvert our democratic process. In clear and open view the Labour party has allowed itself to be taken over by extreme left Marxists. This is not about housing in West London, those poor souls are being used as ladders for the cynical operators of Momentum to propel themselves into a position of total dominance of the Labour party and from there, the Government.  

Corbyn meanwhile is wandering around every new disaster like some latter day saint proclaiming love and hugs for all. His new found respect for anything with a blue light on it or the word ‘security,’ in it is especially dubious. Corbyn is the anti Christ. That so many Labour MP’s who previously treated his policies with disdain are now swooning in his shadow is cowardly and pathetic. They are first in line against the wall as they will discover when they are deselected one by one. That so many feeble-minded and dim witted fools can’t see the truth of what is happening in front of them is worrying. 

 

In another place, in another time there were also demonstrations against democratic election results. It did not end particularly well.

Stranger In A Strange Land

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Many will simply shake their head while muttering, 'the world has gone mad.' I know I did. We are where we are though. Westminster is trying to figure out how to make a seized up situation work while the rest of the country is going about its business with an air of, 'well that showed them.' The chickens though, whole squadrons of them, will at some point in the future be coming home to roost. In the piece that follows, my friend Tim Price of PriceValue Partners offers his take on events, past, present and future.

“If you have been voting for politicians who promise to give you goodies at someone else’s expense, then you have no right to complain when they take your money and give it to someone else, including themselves.” - Thomas Sowell.

It is difficult to know where to begin. That 262 British parliamentary seats fell to a party led by a self-confessed Socialist is bad enough. That said leader lacks the support of 172 of his own MPs is troubling. But that someone who has publicly supported the IRA, Hizbollah and Hamas could attract 12.9 million votes while the United Kingdom is under attack by terrorists simply beggars belief. Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6, the British Secret Intelligence Service, points out that Jeremy Corbyn – who seeks the office of Prime Minister – would not be cleared to join either his former agency, or GCHQ, or MI5; and indeed would, 2 in the past, have been actively investigated by the latter. It is said that you get the politicians you deserve. So what on earth did we do to deserve this ?

Letter to the Financial Times, 8 June 2017, the day of the UK General Election.

Letter to the Financial Times, 8 June 2017, the day of the UK General Election.

Nor are we making a narrow party political point. As Clive Crook points out for Bloomberg, while Jeremy Corbyn offered the UK electorate the sort of swivel-eyed Trotskyism that ought to have died out in the 1970s along with flares and safari jackets, Theresa May was making her own lurch towards the left:

..instead of championing a solidly pro-market centrism, May adopted a semi-skimmed leftism heavy on industrial-policy meddling and other piecemeal dirigisme.

So a plague on both your houses.

Many investors today were forged in the crucible of the Global Financial Crisis. This was, no two ways about it, a crisis originating in debt. The plain numbers are stark. Simon Mikhailovich of Tocqueville Bullion Reserve reminds us of those numbers with a sobering tweet:

A bit of math. With the global debt / GDP ratio at 320% and the cost of average debt service at 2%, it takes 6.4% growth per annum just to service the debt. Not happening.

Our politics have gone mad, and our markets have gone mad with them. As Ronni Stoeferle and Mark Valek point out in their latest, magisterial study of the yellow metal, In Gold We Trust,

We live in an age of advanced monetary surrealism. In Q1 2017 alone, the largest central banks created the equivalent of almost $1,000 billion worth of central bank money ex nihilo. Naturally the fresh currency was not used to fund philanthropic projects but to purchase financial securities*. Although this ongoing liquidity supernova has temporarily created an uneasy calm in financial markets, we are strongly convinced that the real costs of this monetary madness will reveal themselves down the line.

*With that amount of money, one could purchase 20 Big Macs for every person on the planet. Notably in Switzerland – according to the Big Mac Index – the most expensive jurisdiction worldwide. Alternatively, one could also buy one 1/10th oz. gold coin for every person on the planet. We would recommend the latter.

Faced with universally expensive bonds and predominantly expensive stocks, there seems to be little point in low cost index tracking – at present, at least. This is an investment ‘strategy’ that Jim Mellon describes as “pass the parcel for investment morons”. The only sensible and credible responses to the investment challenge of our times can be to diversify broadly, and then invest selectively, and defensively. (Longstanding readers, along with our clients, will know that we put particular emphasis on Benjamin Graham-style value stocks, systematic trend-following funds, and gold.)

This is also a crisis of education. How, aside from craven bribery, could so many young Britons flock to the sirens of socialism ? How did so many millions manage to avoid any grasp of history (or choose to ignore it) ? Eamonn Butler of the Adam Smith Institute, however, is not defeatist. He quotes from the master, Hayek: 

We must make the building of a free society once more an intellectual adventure, a deed of courage. What we lack is.. a truly liberal radicalism which does not spare the susceptibilities of the mighty.. and which does not confine itself to what appears today as politically possible. We need intellectual leaders who are willing to work for an ideal.. They must be.. willing to stick to principles and to fight for their full realisation, however remote.

There is otherwise the very real likelihood of nasty intergenerational conflict. The Baby Boomers already ate most of the pies. The millennials and Generation Z are right to be angry. But last week this anger manifested itself in the form of some Corbyn supporters burning newspapers. To anyone with a sense of history, the UK today feels like a very strange, and disturbing, place.

Oopsie!

The croft in the Highlands scenario just became a viable option

The croft in the Highlands scenario just became a viable option

The REME vehicle mechanics had been working on the engine pack throughout the night. As dawn rose through the mist on the North German Plain Bombardier Clark turned to me and said, ‘Well Sir, I reckon the things properly fxcking fxcked.’ Bombardier Clark had a way with words which I find difficult to better this morning as I survey the train wreck that is the election result. 

Tory passengers noticed before the driver did that something was awry

Tory passengers noticed before the driver did that something was awry

Despite all the opposition parties swaggering around the studios like winners there aren’t any really. Except for Jeremy Corbyn personally, house prices in Scotland and Ruth Davidson. The parliamentary Labour Party have just been handed their worst nightmare. New Labour is history and New Old Labour is here to stay given that Corbyn’s position is unassailable. Theresa May is on political life-support and will in all likelihood be gone by mid morning or will give notice to leave, (although the BBC are now signalling she intends to stay). I expect you could then say that Boris is a potential winner but he, or whoever the Tories elect, will be handed a chalice laced with political arsenic. One of the things I got right, and there weren’t many, was that Ruth Davidson would shine and she has with a genuinely robust set of wins in Scotland which has nobbled IndyRef 2. The SNP though will have more influence at Westminster than before. The Lib Dems went nowhere and UKIP did every bit as badly as we expected.  The Europeans meanwhile are not happy. They wanted a strong and unified set of negotiators on the other side of the table.

As an act of national collective madness this will take some beating. I look at the fact that so many misguided half-wits voted for a man who supported terrorists uninterrupted for 30 years with bewildering incredulity. The not so nice part of me thinks, ‘Stuff it. I hope you get your grand coalition. Your loans might go down but there will be no jobs for you at the end of it.’ The Conservatives have however, only themselves to blame as I explained in a previous post. They might have been hearing but they weren’t listening. That under 30’s, of all previous political hues and family backgrounds, lurched to Labour is an unforgivable dereliction of responsibility by the Tories. 

One thing is for sure and for certain; we will have another election this year. We’re turning into bloody Italy. This morning, the croft plan doesn't seem so silly. The only, and I do mean the only mitigation in staying up all night was Emily Maitlis in that red dress. I think Bombardier Clark would concur.

"Things Need To Change"

The barbaric and godless agents of Jihad brought murder and mayhem to our Capital's streets again last night. As the texts came through to the dinner party I was at everyone’s thoughts were immediately with our kids, family and friends living in London. At some point most of us have walked across London Bridge, most of us have had a drink in Borough Market. As the days pass, many of us will be not many degrees of separation from people who were there or have been killed or injured. Again, we were lucky that the attack was close to major trauma hospitals and the Met were simply outstanding in dropping the terrorists within 8 minutes of the first 999 call. The attack could have been worse, and it again it may prove to be the case when the full details are released that we were lucky in that the full horror of what was planned was not executed to it’s fullest potential extent. 

It was encouraging to hear Theresa May say this morning that, "We cannot and must not pretend that things can continue as they are. Things need to change….” Is this perhaps the “moment of collective recognition,’ to which I previously referred when as a nation we get serious about the Islamist threat rather than leaving it to for the police and security services to deal with and hope we will be okay? I hope so. Action on a broader more public perspective is overdue and the blame lies mostly on the shoulders of politicians across the spectrum who have refused to engage and debate the problem of extremism. Some of these politicians should take these mass murders as a reality check and confront some of their past decisions and their bovine intransigence exhibited when matters of individual liberty are in conflict with the safety and well being of society as a whole. Are you listening Nick Clegg and the rest of the cloth-eared Guardian reading muppets who put their arrogant ill-thought out high-mindedness before good ordinary common sense? We are not in a school debate; we are effectively, at war.

Maajid Nawaz talks to Fox News about Islamist extremism and the bigotry of low expectations. In the discussion, Maajid also argues a case for why his fellow liberals should stop saying this has nothing to do with Islam.

To that end, there are one or two immediate steps the government of the day, (whoever that might be from Thursday), can take to offer the public reassurance and I am sure that the Home Office is working on tweaking things like the Prevent policy as I write. A good place to start would be to listen to what some Muslims are suggesting. As obvious as it might sound, half of Westminster has been listening to the wrong, mostly self appointed, ‘leaders of the Muslim community,' and the other half haven’t been listening to anybody. Some, like former Islamist Majeed Nawaz have however good and logical advice to offer. We must listen and act.

For what it is worth, I think it would be a comfort to the wounded from all terrorist attacks to be told, “you are innocent casualties of war. As such you will be entitled to the full support of the State. If you choose to do so, you may elect to be fast tracked in your treatment and rehabilitation onto the military system. You will have access to the full range of medical services, doctors, mental health specialists and rehabilitation centres as you require them and you will enjoy priority access to those services for your lifetime. You will be eligible for full financial support and enhanced disability pensions with immediate effect and for the rest of your life.” Military medical services have not always been what they might have been but by the end of the Afghan engagement they were pretty slick and the work done at Headley Court, (soon to move to Stanford Hall in the Midlands), and Help for Heroes Tedworth House and Phoenix House Recovery centres provides an awesome state of the art rehab package. Moreover, any military charities who wish to offer support will be given exemption by the Charities Commission so to do. Such actions might seem trivial and disingenuous to someone lying in a hospital bed after multiple operations but in time, it might be seen as a meaningful gesture and would be well received in the country. It would also, as a statement of intent, send a message to all and help enfranchise the population in our purpose which is to defeat the terrorist.

The attack last night showed the kind of coordinated planning which was always likely to evolve from past attacks. There will be more. The suddenness, shock and brutality didn’t end last evening. The knife / machete /sword attack is much favoured by Islamists with multiple examples in the Middle East, China, the USA, Canada and Germany. Indeed, the campaign in Israel has been termed the ‘knife Intifada,’ by Hamas. Sharp blade attacks are bloody and they are terrifying. In so much as the ordinary decent citizen may be in a position to defend themselves, lets look at some elementary principles which may have value in a survival situation.

As with most incidents the citizen should be aware of the attack planning cycle, (described in this 2014 post).  Terrorist attacks incidentally are rarely spontaneous. They usually go through a distinct six stage attack cycle which includes planning and reconnaissance. Appropriate awareness of your environment can help citizens spot terrorist surveillance with things or people that are out of place, suspicious and which may represent a threat. This also represents an obvious vulnerability to the terrorist. Whilst a knife attack may be an attack of opportunity rather than one that has been planned, reconnoitred and rehearsed, there may nonetheless be ‘tells,’ that suggest someone is acting suspiciously and may be about to launch an attack. Look for unusual or erratic behaviour that is out of place. If unusual posture, tenseness, a fixed stare, agitated or nervous behaviour, perspiration or actions that suggest the person may be ‘high,’ on something then lift your ‘situational awareness,’ to your highest state of alertness.

For a knife to hurt you you must be within arms length of the bad guy. The sooner you anticipate trouble coming the sooner you can put distance between yourself and the assailant or prepare to defend yourself. As I describe in the previous post, while the art of ‘ situational awareness,’ is easily learned and practiced few people bother. Why indeed should they have needed to for most of their lives? For most it is just something one does when in unfamiliar environments or, for example, at night in a badly lit street. Staying ‘ switched-on,’ though is simple, costs nothing and could save your life. Do not for example, wear headphones when out and about. You just won’t hear the bad guy coming. Obviously, the victims of last nights attack had no warning but the next attack may differ in its methodology. 

The best defence against a sharp blade attack is to stay out of range. Always run not fight if you are able. For lethality, the assailant must get to within 3-5 feet of you. If you are cornered with no exit, prepare to fight and fight hard as some very brave individuals, including a police officer, did last evening. Throwing any objects to hand at the assailant may buy you priceless seconds or indeed deter the attacker. Bar stools, chairs, tables in fact anything that can keep space between you and the assailant should be used, as indeed they have been in a number of well publicised attacks elsewhere. Self defence training is obviously a help. Most though will not have that training and will be scared. Easier said than done but if you can keep your head and commit then your life chances increase from zero to possible. In such an attack you are most likely to be cut, slashed or stabbed. It is critical that you do not lose the will to fight and survive at the first sight of blood. In a frenzy, the cuts are not likely to be fatal. Giving up is. If the emergency services get you to hospital alive you will most likely live. 

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If the bad guy has closed in on you do not attempt to grab the knife or machete. The grievous resulting wounds will likely incapacitate you. It is vital to get control of the assailants knife hand or arm. You may consider that getting right up close and personal, inside the arc of the arm, is safer than being at the tip of his weapon and opens up your options in using your heels, head and teeth. Remember, your aim is to survive and buy time until people can come to your aid. 

Citizen Aid App

Citizen Aid App

If you are cut or are with wounded souls then providing the attacker has left, apply first aid. Remember, the amount of blood is not correlated to the seriousness of the injury. It will very likely look much worse than it is. Most bleeding can be stopped with the application of pressure and elevation. An arterial wound, (spurting), must be treated immediately. A friend of mine died in just a few minutes from a small wound to the femoral artery after a bomb blast. Act and act fast. Learn how to make and apply an improvised tourniquet. Attending a first aid course is a good idea but at the minimum, please consider downloading the Citizen Aid app which contains advice on life saving first aid and is written by military and civilian trauma specialists.

In summary, nothing in life can prepare you for a frenzied knife attack. To do nothing is to die. If you can buy time, just seconds, it may save your life. The earlier you identify a threat the more time you will have; practice situation awareness. Be curious, be aware and trust your feelings. The most valuable thing you have, as any survival instructor will tell you, is the will to live. Have that and have it in spades and never, ever, ever give up.

Brenda from Bristol with Crumble from Compton

Brenda from Bristol has a few words to say on behalf of all of us

Tonight, fifty or more Labour Members of Parliament will be staring into the bottom of their glasses contemplating P45's thudding onto their door mats in fifty one days time with love and best wishes from the Great British Public, (although it is regrettable to see that someone of Alan Johnson's calibre is standing down). Many of them will see it as a merciful release from the hell that is public life under their inept comedy act of a leader, Jeremy Corbyn. With all leave cancelled for political journalists the rest of us will be subjected to a daily battering from the media, led by that ghastly Kuensberg woman on the BBC. Thankfully, British elections are relatively short and sharp affairs and with the better weather, I am sure we'll muddle through as usual.

Theresa May has made what is probably the right decision in the best interests of the country, standing as she does at an extraordinary confluence of political events. If she gets the result she is aiming for it will strengthen our negotiating stance with Europe and indeed, will probably be welcomed by most of Europe who are if anything more keen to get the ball rolling to end the uncertainty for themselves inside the union. For her personally, she has launched a thundering broadside at her critics which is a bit cruel given the disarray her opponents are in but politically, is very astute.

Enquiring minds might though, be wondering if there are any other reasons which might explain why she has pulled the trigger now?

Of course there are.

I have been thinking for some time that Tony Blair is up to something. It was always unlikely that his ego would allow him to stand idly by and allow the Corbyn faction to completely purge the Labour Party and its machinery of all Blairites and everything they stand for. I also think whatever his plans are, they probably involve the repatriation of the exiled David Milliband from New York. That being the case it makes sense for Theresa May to announce an election before New Labour, or Old New Labour or whatever they'll call themselves have chance to launch and gain party and electoral traction. Clearly, inevitable electoral evisceration on the 8th June will trigger a Labour split or reverse takeover by the moderates but that, in whatever form, if successful still leaves them staring down the barrel of a new five year Tory term rather than the three that was left on the clock until this morning.

Second, my personal view of stock markets is that there is a high probability of a significant market event in the August - November time frame. I expect weakness in April to continue but rather than the 'sell in May and go away and don't come back 'till St Ledger Day,' mantra, I think we'll have a pretty strong summer rally. That will be the concluding move in what is a very mature bull market. The fall out from this market event will be significant, marking as it will not just the conclusion of the rally from the 2009 low but the end of much longer market cycles. I'll cover this in more detail another time but suffice to say, better to be Prime Minister with four years still on the clock, rather than eighteen months, when a bad thing happens economically.

Third, the summer Mediterranean Migration season has kicked off with large inflatables carrying hundreds of migrants leaving Turkey and Libya every day. This season is predicted to be a big one. If Turkey continues down the route it has chosen then a breakdown in relations with the EU could see the collapse of the agreement between the EU and Turkey to manage the flow of migrants. Pictures on our television news will not harm the Conservative campaign and will no doubt influence the imminent French elections and those in Germany later this year.

I'll be keeping a keen eye open for entertainment from Jezza and LibDem fall guy Tim Fallon who would look over-promoted running a minor branch of McDonalds. In fact, if he had four pens in his top pocket and a bunch of keys hanging off his belt he would be that man. The best fun though will be found watching the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson. That woman is a feisty ball of fire and would make a great soldier...... except once she was.

Showtime!

So, in an elegant example of the dark arts of political craft Theresa May is to be Prime Minister by Wednesday evening. The Tories have always been unsentimental if not brutal in removing and installing their leaders. Not for them the hand wringing and drawn out public debates that beset the Labour Party. No, they remain the finest and best drilled exponents of political assassination on the planet. That is not to suggest for a moment that the best person has not won for she probably has and it is to the good that the uncertainty is at an end. I suspect that very early in the campaign Mrs May was taken to one side and told, "Stay aloof and don't get involved. If the vote goes against us we'll need a unity candidate and you are it." She played the part fantastically well and embarks on her premiership with the "safe and competent," badge. 

Boris was never a serious contender for the majority of MP's, except in his own mind, and they've been telling anyone who would listen so for many months. The demise of Michael Gove is regrettable because despite his earnest and sometimes severe demeanour is a genuine reformer who cares deeply about the very large sections of society who have been left behind. He has more to give. Andrea is well, we don't quite know. After being lauded as a City name people in the City have for weeks been asking each other 'who is this women, have you ever come across her?' and of course none of us had. For spicing up her CV she deserves to have fallen by the wayside rather more than for the 'mothergate,' thing. The CV episode would see a junior grad trainee uncerimoniously booted out of any reasonable firm, never mind a prospective prime minister.

So have was Crumble's choice? Actually, none of the above. I would have ticked the box for this lady, Gisela Stuart. She is of course ineligible given the rather inconvenient fact that she is a Labour MP but she rather impressed me during the campaign and I would very much enjoy the irony of having a Bavarian born prime minister taking on Mrs Merkel in exit negotiations. If the Labour party were struck by a sudden flash of sanity they would install Mrs Stuart as leader tomorrow. Now that really would worry Tory backroom fixers.