8 May 2020

2019 General Election under Proportional Representation?

This is something I always do, and I always use the only form of PR which we can use (since others require a "second choice" vote anyway, and everybody will have different #2 preferences).

That's Regional Party List. In each region, you vote for a party, not a person, and we apply that.

Now, this election was difficult to do because of the fact that not everyone stood in every seat, but we'll ignore this for our purposes. Just a bit of fun, just a bit of fun...

2017 results, first, for reference: CON 280, LAB 269, LD 43, SNP 22, UKIP 7, DUP 7, SF 6, GRN 6, PC 4, SDLP 2, UUP 2, APNI 1

2019 results, per region:
Scotland: SNP 28, CON 15, LAB 11, LD 5
North East: LAB 13, CON 11, BRX 2, LD 2
North West: LAB 36, CON 29, LD 6, BRX 3, GRN 1 (excluding Chorley)
Yorkshire: CON 24, LAB 22, LD 4, BRX 3, GRN 1
East Midlands: CON 27, LAB 15, LD 3, GRN 1
West Midlands: CON 33, LAB 21, LD 4, GRN 1
Wales: LAB 17, CON 15, PC 4, LD 2, BRX 2
London: LAB 36, CON 23, LD 11, GRN 2, BRX 1
East of England: CON 35, LAB 14, LD 8, GRN 1
South East: CON 46, LAB 19, LD 15, GRN 3
South West: CON 31, LAB 13, LD 10, GRN 2
Northern Ireland: DUP 6, SF 4, SDLP 3, APNI 3, UUP 2

Conservatives 289
Labour 217
Liberal Democrats 70
Scottish National Party 28
Green Party 12
Brexit Party 11
Democratic Unionist Party 6
Plaid Cymru 4
Sinn Fein 4
Social Democratic Labour Party 3
Alliance Party of Northern Ireland 3
Ulster Unionist Party 2
(Speaker 1)

In this situation potential coalitions would be as follows:
CON (289) + BRX (11) + DUP (6) + UUP (2) = 308
LAB (217) + SNP (28) + GRN (12) + PC (4) + SDLP (3) = 264

It would be the Liberal Democrats who would act as kingmaker, in effect. And with the Lib Dems having ruled out any coalition with either party during the campaign, who knows what would have happened next?

Conservatives +9
Labour -52
Liberal Democrats +27
Scottish National Party +6
Green Party +6
Brexit Party +11
Democratic Unionist Party -1
Plaid Cymru +/-0
Sinn Fein -2
Social Democratic Labour Party +1
Alliance Party of Northern Ireland +2
Ulster Unionist Party +/-0

Conservatives -76
Labour +15
Liberal Democrats +59
Scottish National Party -20
Green Party +11
Brexit Party +11
Democratic Unionist Party -2
Plaid Cymru +/-0
Sinn Fein -3
Social Democratic Labour Party +1
Alliance Party of Northern Ireland +2
Ulster Unionist Party +2

25 April 2020

What if F1 had the Eurovision points structure?


Formula One has had various points systems over the years, but for this thought experiment we're going to apply the following points structure to each year:

1st place: 12 points
2nd place: 10 points
3rd place: 8 points
4th place: 7 points
5th place: 6 points
6th place: 5 points
7th place: 4 points
8th place: 3 points
9th place: 2 points
10th place: 1 point
(No points for fastest lap or pole)

Between 1950 and 1990, not all races counted towards the championship, but for our purposes, every race will count. Any driver not classified won't get points. The final round of 2014 had double points; again, we are ignoring this (it doesn't make a difference in any case).

The top three every season, therefore, would have been as follows, with different champions in bold.

1950: L Fagioli 48; G Farina 43; J Fangio 36 (1st title)
1951: J Fangio 56 (3 wins); A Ascari 56 (2 wins); J Gonzalez 50 (1st title)
1952: A Ascari 72; G Farina 52; P Taruffi 41 (1st title)
1953: A Ascari 67; M Hawthorn 60; G Farina 56 (2nd title)
1954: J Fangio 87; J Gonzalez 55; M Hawthorn 49 (2nd title)
1955: J Fangio 58; S Moss 39; E Castelloti 29 (3rd title)
1956: J Fangio 63; P Collins 54; S Moss 48 (4th title)
1957: J Fangio 68; S Moss 45; M Hawthorn 34 (5th title)
1958: M Hawthorn 76; S Moss 58; H Schell 44 (1st title)
1959: J Brabham 57; T Brooks 44; M Trintignant 43 (1st title)
1960: J Brabham 67; B McLaren 65; S Moss 42 (2nd title)
1961: P Hill 62; W Von Trips 51; D Gurney 50 (1st title)
1962: G Hill 80; B McLaren 59; J Clark 43 (1st title)
1963: J Clark 102; R Ginther 66; G Hill 55 (1st title; first time a driver scores 100 points)
1964: G Hill 67; J Surtees 62; R Ginther 57 (2nd title)
1965: G Hill 81; J Clark 72; J Stewart 61 (3rd title)
1966: J Brabham 65; J Rindt 48; J Surtees 42 (3rd title)
1967: D Hulme 85; J Brabham 82; J Clark 61 (1st title)
1968: G Hill 75; J Stewart 65; D Hulme 63 (4th title)
1969: J Stewart 89; J Ickx 63; B McLaren 58 (1st title)
1970: J Ickx 64; J Rindt 60; D Hulme 59 (1st title)
1971: J Stewart 88; R Peterson 65; F Cevert 50 (2nd title)
1972: E Fittipaldi 88; D Hulme 74; J Stewart 69 (1st title)
1973: J Stewart 115; E Fittipaldi 92; F Cevert 88 (3rd title; new highest ever score)
1974: E Fittipaldi 97; C Regazzoni 95; J Scheckter 82 (2nd title)
1975: N Lauda 108.5; E Fittipaldi 79; C Reutemann 71 (1st title)
1976: N Lauda 106; J Hunt 103; J Scheckter 96 (2nd title)
1977: N Lauda 117; J Scheckter 89; C Reutemann 88 (3rd title; new highest ever score)
1978: M Andretti 99; R Peterson 85; C Reutemann 84 (1st title)
1979: J Scheckter 109; G Villeneuve 89; A Jones 67 (1st title)
1980: A Jones 106; C Reutemann 92; N Piquet 91 (1st title)
1981: C Reutemann 88; N Piquet 87; A Jones 80 (1st title)
1982: K Rosberg 86; J Watson 71; D Pironi 67 (1st title)
1983: A Prost 96 (4 wins); N Piquet 96 (3 wins); R Arnoux 85 (1st title)
1984: A Prost 107 (7 wins); N Lauda 107 (5 wins); E De Angelis 80 (2nd title)
1985: A Prost 119; M Alboreto 87; E De Angelis 76 (3rd title; new highest ever score)
1986: A Prost 122; N Mansell 115; N Piquet 113 (4th title; new highest ever score)
1987: N Piquet 121; A Senna 104; N Mansell 91 (1st title)
1988: A Prost 154; A Senna 139; G Berger 82 (5th title; new highest ever score)
1989: A Prost 129; A Senna 86; R Patrese 76 (6th title)
1990: A Senna 116 (6 wins); A Prost 116 (5 wins); N Piquet 94 (1st title)
1991: A Senna 141; N Mansell 100; R Patrese 91 (2nd title)
1992: N Mansell 138; M Schumacher 99; R Patrese 97 (1st title)
1993: A Prost 137; A Senna 107 (5 wins); D Hill 107 (3 wins) (7th title)
1994: D Hill 130; M Schumacher 116; G Berger 71 (1st title)
1995: M Schumacher 132; D Hill 101; J Herbert 93 (1st title)
1996: D Hill 129; J Villeneuve 118; M Schumacher 91 (3 wins) (2nd title)
1997: M Schumacher 120; J Villeneuve 111; H Frentzen 84 (2nd title)*
1998: M Hakkinen 136; M Schumacher 123; D Coulthard 98 (1st title)
1999: E Irvine 126; M Hakkinen 110; H Frentzen 98 (1st title)
2000: M Schumacher 142; M Hakkinen 137; D Coulthard 123 (3rd title)*
2001: M Schumacher 165; D Coulthard 113; R Barrichello 108 (4th title; new highest ever score)*
2002: M Schumacher 190; R Barrichello 117; J Montoya 98 (5th title; new highest ever score)*
2003: M Schumacher 123; K Raikkonen 117; J Montoya 106 (6th title)*
2004: M Schumacher 180; R Barrichello 146; J Button 115 (7th title)*
2005: F Alonso 165; K Raikkonen 142; M Schumacher 87 (1st title)
2006: F Alonso 166; M Schumacher 153; F Massa 112 (2nd title)
2007: L Hamilton 141 (4 wins, 5 2nd places); F Alonso 141 (4 wins, 4 2nd places); K Raikkonen 140 (1st title)
2008: L Hamilton 127; F Massa 123; K Raikkonen 103 (2 wins) (2nd title)
2009: J Button 126; S Vettel 108; R Barrichello 107 (1st title)
2010: S Vettel 134; F Alonso 133; M Webber 131 (1st title)
2011: S Vettel 197; J Button 145; F Alonso 143 (2nd title; new highest ever score)
2012: F Alonso 150; S Vettel 149; K Raikkonen 119 (3rd title)
2013: S Vettel 196; F Alonso 134; M Webber 113 (3rd title)
2014: L Hamilton 178; N Rosberg 167; D Ricciardo 122 (3rd title)
2015: L Hamilton 193; N Rosberg 168; S Vettel 148 (4th title)
2016: N Rosberg 198; L Hamilton 192; D Ricciardo 145 (1st title; new highest ever score)
2017: L Hamilton 188; S Vettel 168; V Bottas 165 (5th title)
2018: L Hamilton 206; S Vettel 171; V Bottas 142 (6th title; first time a driver scores 200 points)
2019: L Hamilton 207; V Bottas 173; M Verstappen 150 (7th title; new highest ever score)

Most titles:
1 A Prost 7
1 M Schumacher 7
1 L Hamilton 7
4 J Fangio 5
5 G Hill 4
6 J Brabham 3
6 J Stewart 3
6 N Lauda 3
6 F Alonso 3
6 S Vettel 3

*Michael Schumacher was symbolically disqualified from the 1997 World Championship after he was adjudged to have deliberately collided with Jacques Villeneuve in Jerez. For our purposes, he has been reinstated.

30 January 2020

2019 General Election Results Analysis

Hello there. I love general elections. I get to turn into Peter Snow, by talking about exactly what happened and how it happened and what it meant.

Overview - Swing

Now, we'll start by looking at the swingometer. There was a 4.7% swing from Labour to Conservative. This was way above what the opinion polls were suggesting.

So what were the biggest swings, then? Well, the biggest swings aren't necessarily the biggest majorities overturned. Most of the really big swings, especially for Labour, were in really safe seats with next to no consequences for the incumbent.

What was really striking about the election is just how... normal the results are. There's not a huge divergence from the national picture and nor are there the big regional variations that we saw in 2017 (yes, the SNP did increase their vote share substantially, but in this context I'm referring solely to the Labour/Conservative battle). The swing was a little bigger in the North and a little less in London and the South, but overall the uniform national swing, the crudest model of working out the election results, was not too far off and certainly within the margin of error.

Here, we've put the arrow on the national swing, but for the regions (and for spacing reasons, we've amalgamated the North, Midlands, and South into three groups) we've coloured the appropriate number of boxes, each one representing one point of swing, representing the swing in that part of the UK. The swing, therefore, is not particularly regionally divergent this time around.

70% of the seats were within one standard deviation (3.5) of the national swing (4.7%). It's possible, therefore, to suggest that the standard deviation was quite large, but not particularly when you consider the regional swings ranged between 2.5% from Lab to Con (Scotland) to 8.4% from Lab to Con (North East). 445 of the results, therefore, fall between a 1.2% from Lab to Con and an 8.2% from Lab to Con, on a national picture. Yes, that leaves 187 seats outside of this range (including Buckingham and Chorley), but what it does indicate that the vast majority of these seats were quite safe.

Labour and the Conservatives

So this is the crucial bit: the crucial battlegrounds. Here are Labour's 100 easiest seats to win from the 2017 election; they needed 64 net gains to win an overall majority. And they came very, very, very short, making just one gain, Putney, from the Conservatives.

The Conservatives had such a good night - as you can tell from their attack board. Now, some of these were SNP so were not really on the table, but they've hit almost every single Labour target in here, missing only a handful of seats below the national swing. Indeed, they've even managed a few gains beyond this target board - an eventuality that very few people predicted, if anyone at all.

You can also see the Conservatives' success in the Labour defence, the so-called "red wall" that was breached. Labour's top 100 defences were battered, bruised, and Labour lost over one fifth of their seats. All of the following were red in 2017: the Conservatives and SNP almost wipe out the first column - one or two stalwarts hold on for Labour - and down the second column too, and most of the third column is gone too. One or two Conservative parachutists make it into the fourth column!

Liberal Democrats and SNP

What about the minor parties? The SNP, the Liberal Democrats? Well, for the Liberal Democrats, it was like 2010 in many ways, with a wave of optimism, Jo Swinson declaring she would win a majority... and then went down in terms of seats. Their vote share actually increased in many areas, but as the Conservatives' vote share also went up in the same key areas too, the swing was neglible in many areas, and certainly whilst Richmond Park was no surprise for a Lib Dem gain (with a swing needed of less than 0.1%), the only other two gains were from the SNP (again, a tiny 2017 majority), and St Albans, easily the Lib Dems' best result of the night, and was generally in line with the Con/LD swing in the East of England, albeit significantly larger in that one seat. The Liberal Democrats gained 8.4% of the vote in the South East, but this was useless to them as the swing from the Conservatives to the Lib Dems in the South East, 4.9%, was not theoretically big enough to wield any seats whatsoever, with Lewes (5.1% swing required) being target #1 in the South East (CON hold). However, there's no explaining their three Conservative losses, as they were all bucking the patterns. This goes some way to debunking the myth of "the Brexit election", for these parts of the country all voted Remain and yet went from LD to Con.

What's even more striking is Jo Swinson losing her seat in Dunbartonshire East. The SNP did not, in theory, do enough to take the seat, as they only experienced a 2.7% swing towards them from the Lib Dems, but in Dunbartonshire East, they managed to reach the 5.3% swing needed to unseat Jo Swinson. Losing Fife North East in return, therefore, was a strange one, as the swing would have pointed to a larger SNP majority this time around. Nonetheless, the SNP had a good night, cleaning up all but one of their top 12 targets and adding Renfrewshire East (from Con), Dunbartonshire East (from LD), and Aberdeen East (from Con) to their list. Other than Jo Swinson, however, these are not anomolies. Indeed, the Conservatives holding on is the anomolous result here, with Moray, Banff and Buchan, and Dumfries & Galloway theoretically being lost. The SNP, therefore, will be disappointed not to hit 50 seats again given they ought to have taken these seats. They only had one loss, which was Fife North East to the Lib Dems.

Was the Benjamin model a success?

Like any half-decent psephologist, I developed my own way of analysing the election results. This does not mean I am a predictor, it means I translate polls and votes into seats theoretically. My methodology is very similar to the exit poll prior to 2015, and uses regional breakdowns of votes to apply the regional swings to each seat in turn. This isn't that accurate, but then again neither is any system.

The only way to test the model, therefore, is to use the actual election results in terms of votes, and see what that would yield in terms of seats won. In other words, as though the actual election results was like an opinion poll, done by region as per my methodology. So... what do we come up with?

Headline figures (Benjamin model): CON 355 (-10), LAB 202 (-1), SNP 51 (+3), LD 18 (+6), PC 4 (nc), GRE 1 (nc).

How many of these seats did I get right, then? Well, there are 632 possible seats we modelled, albeit two of these were based on assumptions (Buckinghamshire - CON gain from SPK; Chorley - SPK gain from LAB), and 37 were incorrect. A hit rate, therefore of 595 out of 632 is not bad one bit. My model got 94% of seats correct. But let's see which seats our model did not predict correctly.

Now, of these 37 seats, 17 were within 2%, so these can simply be put down to "margin of error" and can be discounted, as they were effectively too close to call accurately. That leaves just 15 anomalies, and we'll look at each of these in turn:

Banff and Buchan:
Estimated result: SNP gain from CON
Actual result: CON hold

The Conservatives actually increased their majority in Banff and Buchan thanks largely to a collapse in the Labour vote, with the Labour vote down by 5%. The SNP didn't do particularly well either, only up 1.3%, and both of these factors combined to increase the Conservative majority against the projection of an SNP gain.

Battersea, Bedford, Cardiff North, Portsmouth South, Warwick and Leamington:
Estimated result: CON gain from LAB
Actual result: LAB hold

These results have been grouped together since they were all expected to be Conservative gains but were not. Three of them (Battersea, Cardiff North, Portsmouth South) were in the top 5 Con->Lab swings, and in Portsmouth South this came about from a collapse in the Lib Dem vote, indicating a LD->Lab movement in voters, perhaps tactically to prevent a Conservative gain, as the seat was ultra-marginal in 2017. Battersea, strangely, does the same thing but the other way round, a large Con->LD movement creating a mathematical swing to Labour, despite their vote share falling by 0.4%. Cardiff North represents an anomaly in the Conservative vote (down 6%) rather than a particularly good result for Labour. The other two seats, Warwick and Leamington and Bedford, just didn't swing hard enough.

Estimated result: LD gain from PC
Actual result: PC hold

Against the Welsh trends, Plaid Cymru held Ceredigion. A collapse in the Lib Dem vote was to blame here, losing 11% of their vote share for some reason. In Wales, the Lib Dems' vote share increased by 2.9%, so this is an anomaly that no one saw coming.

Carshalton and Wallington, Norfolk North:
Estimated result: LD hold
Actual result: CON gain from LD

Carshalton and Wallington was a bizarre result. The Labour vote was well down in London but in Carshalton, went to the Conservatives rather than the Liberal Democrats as was the case in most of London. The Lib Dem vote did not change on 2017, and with a Labour to Conservative swing of 5.1% - not entirely notable - it was the Lib Dem failure to increase their votes which did for them.

I'm not sure what happened in Norfolk North though. There appears to have been a direct LD->Con swing (Con up 17%, LD down 18.1%) and is arguably their worst result of the night. Unpopular MP? Local factors? This should not have happened.

Dunbartonshire East:
Estimated result: LD hold
Actual result: SNP gain from LD

Swinson effect? Being such a high-profile MP, we can put this one under "mitigating circumstances".

Heywood & Middleton, Leigh:
Estimated result: LAB hold
Actual result: CON gain from LAB

The two results against Labour which the Conservatives did better than expected, taking these seats despite the regional pattern indicating they wouldn't. Heywood and Middleton, scene of a shock 2nd place for UKIP in a 2014 by-election, almost repeated itself, with 8.3% for the Brexit Party and with Labour down 11%, this allowed the Conservative to take the seat. It was a similar story in Leigh, although on this occasion the Lab collapse split between Conservatives and the Brexit Party. 

Leeds North West, Sheffield Hallam:
Estimated result: LD gain from LAB
Actual result: LAB hold

Sheffield Hallam, Nick Clegg's former seat, represented very poorly by Jared O'Mara between 2017 and 2019, was almost a dead cert to go back to the Lib Dems. It was thought that there was an anti-Clegg vote in 2017 and this was almost certain to dissipate in 2019. But instead, the opposite appears to have happened. The Lib Dems have always said that they do better when an incumbent, a familiar face, is re-standing. Despite Nick Clegg being, well, Nick Clegg, this appears to have been the case here, with the Lib Dems' vote down 1.3%. On the other hand, Leeds North West was another collapse in Lib Dem votes, down 16%.

St Ives:
Estimated result: LD gain from CON
Actual result: CON hold

St Ives, the most southerly constituency in mainland Britain, had been Lib Dem for a long time before 2015, but since then has remained Conservative. Andrew George almost resisted the 2015 Lib Dem collapse, but I suspect that now, his personal vote is dwindling, having now stood unsuccessfully three times in a row, he is no longer as familiar a face in St Ives as he once was, hence the small drop in Lib Dem vote.

So that's all the anomalies dealt with. Now, to look at the parties' best and worst results.

(That list of "others" drops took forever.)

A lot of these don't actually result in any gains or losses, perhaps indicating voter "hapathy" given the safeness of these seats.

Most of these Labour collapses are in the North of England, for the Conservatives they're more spread out but have a significant portion in the South East and East Anglia; the Lib Dem collapses are everywhere, and Plaid Cymru's collapses, making up 4 of the top 10 other losses, are all in Wales.

So, those are some stats surrounding the election.

If anyone wants to know anything, my Twitter DMs (@MrRhysBenjamin) are open, so ask away.

26 February 2018

Why I'm Against The UCU Strikes - In Depth - Say No to Militant Students

I really can't think of a good introduction for this post. It's a very contentious topic, certainly, and it has led to consequences far beyond what I could have thought possible. In the interim, I suppose I can plug my appearance on BBC Radio 5 Live on 22 Feb 2017 (on the "Drive" program, at 5:07pm onwards), where I answered a couple of points made by Professor Catherine Pope of Southampton University. But let's crack on with it. Firstly, I do sympathise with the lecturers and agree that the UUK's proposal is a bit iffy. But there are several major problems I have with the strike action.

Students are being used as collateral damage

The tuition of students (which we have actually paid for in advance, don't forget) is being withheld and causing not only a strong legal case that a service has not been provided for which one has paid (a viewpoint shared by Universities minister Sam Gyimah: "I expect all universities affected to make clear that any money not paid to lecturers - as a consequence of strike action - will go towards student benefit including compensation"). I am losing just under 10% of my contact hours for the entire semester, and I've emerged relatively unscathed: some people are unlucky enough to be losing 25% of their entire tuition for the semester. Final year students in particular are being made to feel the pressures of the few lecturers. Universities have either dumbed down their degrees or students may not be able to graduate. I myself have an assessed presentation (which is still going ahead), but no lecture to base it on (as everyone else does).

Sally Hunt has claimed that if the dispute isn't resolved, the next round of strikes will be in exam periods. Is this really what UCU thinks of students? That our degrees are worthless?

Striking has legitimised violence and militancy

It's always disheartening to see my university in the newspapers (both print and online) for all the wrong reasons. And whilst, to their credit, lecturers, or at least the ones I have seen, have striked (struck?) peacefully, militant students, who claim to be acting in support of the strikers, have run amok on campus, and they don't seem to agree on who the real "enemy" is. Is it Adam Tickell? Is it UUK? Ask students and they come up with different answers. I know who is behind these militants  at Sussex (names I will not mention here) but it hardly surprises me as to who they are - I won't comment any further for fear of being accused of having too much to think libel action. And moreover, no striker has been able to answer the question of where the line is between appropriate action and inappropriate action. 
  1. Is storming into a lecture (and in so doing, crossing your own picket line) appropriate?
  2. Is blockading public transport appropriate?
  3. Is bullying students who need to use campus for non-academic reasons (such as first years who live on it, or those requiring counselling, for example) for unavoidably crossing the picket line, even when they support you, appropriate?
  4. Is downright stupidity appropriate ("the library is crossing the picket line, study in Falmer House instead", but that's crossing the picket line too...)?

No one seems able to answer these questions.

I know the Student Union voted to support the strike action, but I do not think that condemning such militancy would be going against that mandate. I haven't decided on whether to endorse Frida Gustafsson for re-election yet: I feel she can be weak in a crisis, although I like the general direction she is taking the SU in. I feel she needs to condemn the militants. Now. Additionally, I feel that if more strikes go ahead, the policy should be up for re-vote as it would be for a different period of strike action.

Students - even if you support these strikes, I urge you not to join in with the militants (Sussex Supports our Lecturers). This sort of behaviour is straight outta da winta of discontent. Innit.

UCU has lied to its members

  1. Professor Pope put to me on BBC Radio 5 that the UCU's report was done by an "independent body". No it wasn't. The report was commissioned and financed by the UCU and carried out by First Actuarial - a firm whose business model is to produce reports financed by the client. Naturally it's going to produce a report that its client wants to see. Why else does the Labour Party often commission reports from the TUC and the Conservatives from the CBI? Because they know they're going to get an answer they agree with.
  2. The figure quoted, that members will lose up to £200,000 in retirement, is quoted without any indication of the assumed level of investment return. This is not dissimilar to the "£350m for the NHS" figure that was contentious in Brexit - the figure is true, but only just if you include ALL benefits, not just pensions. The £200,000 figure is for a lecturer above £100k per annum on salary - a minority of lecturers.
  3. "Employers will pay less towards USS pensions." No they won't. UUK's proposals include a commitment to 18% employer contributions until March 2023.
  4. UCU claim UUK were over-represented in negotiations. The Joint Negotiating Committee, effectively arbitrating the negotiations, have made it clear this is a downright lie.
  5. The arrangements are up for discussion again in 2020, and are not fixed as UCU claims. Indeed, UUK have said they would like to reintroduce DB in these talks.
  6. UCU deny the claim that there is a deficit within USS. The Pensions Regulator and PWC have confirmed (independently, and I actually mean independently) that this is a lie, and the deficit does exist. And no, whilst it may not bankrupt people immediately, when you are short one week you have to economise the next. This is the reason for so-called "austerity". See the debt bombshell on the right-hand side of this page (unless you're viewing this on a mobile)? That's why the government have had to tackle their deficit. And so should USS.
  7. "Existing benefits already built up will be affected." Nope. These are protected by law, so cannot be changed.
  8. And finally, the last whopper of them all, the claim pensions will be cut by 40%. Not only is this a contentious claim by a bankrolled report, but even said report says only brand new staff will be affected to this degree. For someone with 20 years’ service who is due to retire in 2027 having started on a wage of £33,518, they would see a £1,600 a year (10.5%) cut - according to said very own report. So the notion that people with 30 years' experience will lose 40% is a lie. (Yes, I know this is not good either, but as I said, I sympathise, because no proposals on the table look to be good for lecturers at all.)

UCU's proposals are even worse than UUK's

UCU's own proposals would mean a cut in take-home pay for its lecturers. UCU's proposal is for employees to increase their contributions to the pension pot from 8% to 10.9%, a cut in accural rate from 1/75th to a bizarrely low 1/80th (1.25%), and employers to increase their contributions from 18% to 23.5%. Let's dismantle this policy.

  1. For a lecturer, this means their real take-home pay will be cut. If their salary is (say) £50,000, increasing the pension rate means more taken out of it (as per tax) before it reaches the wallet. Members will have to increase their contributions by 35%.
  2. Employers have had their contributions increased by 28.5% over the last 10 years by having their contributions increased by 4 percentage points over this time frame. To ask them to pay even more is unaffordable.
  3. Reducing the accural rate will mean fewer benefits for lecturers in retirement.
  4. This will add about £500m to the cost of pensions; Sussex alone, for example, will cost an extra £5.5m per year. 
So which is it, lecturers - pay cut or pensions cut?

I hope this clarifies my position on these strikes. I hope all sides move on negotiations. We cannot go on like this - opportunistic militancy must stop.

16 March 2017

Article 50, my dear. And it seems not a moment too soon...

You probably weren't watching on Saturday night. After all, I wouldn't expect many in the UK to. I am, of course, referring to the popular Swedish television program Melodifestivalen, which, to all intents and purposes, is the selection program Sweden use to pick their Eurovision entry. After changing an explicit lyric to "freaking", Robin Bengtsson emerged as the pride of Sweden that will be representing his country in Kyiv in May.

Speaking of representatives sent to European countries, Theresa May recently returned from the European Council Summit, where a number of rather dull things were discussed; Brexit was not among them. But earlier this week, the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill was passed through the Houses of Parliament and was given Royal Assent on 16 March 2017. Mrs May has said she will trigger Article 50 within the next two weeks.


In the 9 months since the referendum, the political landscape, both at home and abroad, has changed substantially. On the morning after the referendum, Jeremy Corbyn called for the immediate triggering of Article 50, something which many people forget. A couple of hours later, David Cameron announced he would be resigning as Prime Minister. It is, perhaps, a testament to the organisation and the rules of the Conservative Party (which have been around since 2001) that the whole process of finding candidates only took two weeks, and the system, whereupon candidates are nominated by MPs and then the final two are put to the party's membership. That Andrea Leadsom, my pick for leader, had to withdraw was unfortunate, but it has to be said it looked inevitable after she walked into the trap of The Times. The Labour Party also had a leadership election, but the less said about that mess, the better.

Then, we had the intervention of Gina Miller, which, to the surprise of many, the High and then Supreme Courts agreed with, interpreting Article 50 differently to how pretty much everyone else did and stating that in order to enact Article 50, Parliament would have to vote for it based upon the rationale that the royal prerogative cannot be used to remove what was made law by Parliament. The only problem with this, however, is that Article 50 only states that a member state must "provide notification" of intention to withdraw. I have the view that the European Communities Act 1972 and Article 50 are two mutually exclusive events and thus I do not believe the ruling was correct. But now that it has passed, it is somewhat immaterial.

The problem with all of this is that the longer the posturing over this has gone on, the bigger the amount of virtue signalling and generalisation, and that all of this has led people to forget the real reasons that people voted to leave the EU. After all, let us not forget that if anybody was playing on fear in the referendum, it was Remain: our households are meant to lose £4,300 per year, don't forget, as well as World War III, the global Brexit recession, and the slaughtering of the first-born. OK, I lied: they never said the last one, but the tone of "project fear" was such that it would not have been out-of-place.

Cynics say that this is no better than the Leave campaign, talking about immigration and how they're all coming over here, stealing our jobs, and so on. But those who say that are guilty of conflating the official and unofficial Leave campaigns. The official Leave campaign, Vote Leave, did nothing of the sport. Yes, immigration was the trump card of the Leave campaign (because there really was no credible defence Remain could offer), but the argument put forward by the Vote Leave was not one of reducing immigration, but only seeking to end the postcode lottery of free movement of people from within the EU.

In fact, I will take this opportunity to quote this bit of Gisela Stuart's speech in the House of Commons on 31 January, which acts as mythbusting:

"I chaired the official leave campaign. The leave campaign was clear that it was about taking back control of our borders. That meant we wanted an immigration policy based not on geography, but on skills and economic need. We wanted to take back control of our laws and of our trade negotiations. I also happen to think that the Government should actually honour the election pledge that was made that [...] money saved from not making direct contributions to the EU should go to the NHS, which is short of money."

All of this posturing, however, including the "missing NHS money" (which, as you will note above, Gisela Stuart has not backed down on), has led to people forgetting the positive vision that was set out as a basis for leaving. I include myself in this. When we look at the "Wirtschaftswunder" between 1945 and 1957, and indeed, the Thatcher revolution of the 1980s, it goes to indicate what can happen when you deregulate your economy. European regulations, not least on a political and economic level, have stifled our economy for decades now. We don't live in an era of regional trading blocs. In the last 30 years, we have seen a breakdown of the USSR and Yugoslavia - both protectionist trading blocs. The EU is such a protectionist trading bloc. We live in a globalised world - as the 6th Doctor (Colin Baker) puts it - "whether you like it or not". For our youth - my generation - the dream is no longer to work for MNCs, but to create new ones. We still have a fantastic entrepreneurial spirit in this country, and it's time that what we do is to deregulate our economy massively. By leaving the EU, we have a fantastic opportunity to do that. The trade deals of the EU are lower than many other nations - even if you include the value of the single market.

Even at a more micro level, when we look at the tariffs that are placed on imports coming into the EU, and the disastrous buffer stock schemes, which combine to push up the prices of agricultural produce somewhere between 10% and 20%, hurt consumers. That is, of course, not even taking into account the fact that the African producers are finding it harder to sell their goods within the EU. We have such a fantastic opportunity, seeing as how an independent nation outside of the EU, as the United Kingdom will become, will be able to do so. Only a government of complete incompetence would slap tariffs on these new produces. This will, of course, drive down inflation - and quite right too. It is largely for these reasons that I will never support Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders's protectionist policies in the United States, but it is perhaps indicative of US politics that the election there became about personalities rather than policies.

But the longer the debate goes on, the more we are losing sight of all of this. It is not about the opportunities that Brexit provides any more. It is about virtue signalling and labelling Leave voters as racists, sexists, homophobes, and so on. One person even told me recently that:

"The same people who insist "marriage" can only be between a man and a woman are the same people who voted for Brexit."

I don't think this is true, and nor is the standard of this debate good for our country. What we need is to get on with Brexit. Because not doing so will not allow us to see the opportunities that Brexit is offering. Instead, the longer we dilly-dally, the more we can go on posturing about how "racist old white people" have "ruined" the country. That is not what I want to see. I want to see a United Kingdom making the opportunities work. Because, as Robin Bengtsson sang on Saturday, "I Can't Go On".

14 November 2016

How did Trump win?

Yep, this is another one of my stats pieces, so if you're looking for lots of speculation about sociological factors, you're not in the right place.

Donald Trump defied the odds to win the US Presidential election. But how did he defy the odds and the polls? What did he do that we got completely wrong? Let's delve into it to find out.

Trump really had no right to go down the board as far as he did, really. Taking Michigan, for example: Trump needed a 4.8% swing to take this and he got a 4.9% swing here. We don't have any figures yet for the congressional districts in Maine and Nebraska, but all throughout the night the the BBC were predicting that the second one in both states would swing to the other party. I found this odd considering how deep they were in "safe" territory on both sides. As it was, Nebraska II stayed red.

Whilst 306 vs 232 seems like a big margin, it really wasn't. Had Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Maine II gone blue, we would have had a 269 vs 269 tie, and then, would Paul Ryan really have voted for Donald Trump in the House of Representatives? We will never know. 

Just how uniform is America? Actually, all the swings in each particular state were close to the national swing of 1.9% from Democrat to Republican. We can further look at this by use of a box plot, indicating the swings in each state. 

Immediately, your eyes are drawn to Utah, where there was a huge swing to the Democrats. There wasn't, really - Evan McMullin ran as an independent and gained real momentum, taking many votes off Donald Trump, but ultimately unsuccessful in his bid to win the state. And that leads me onto the third party effects.

Gary Johnson hit 9% in New Mexico but it really was a terrible election night for him, and he is the reason Donald Trump won, one might argue. Two days before election day, Johnson was polling at around 7%, and with Trump looking like he couldn't win, Johnson's campaign team released a video telling the public that a vote for the Libertarians would be a vote to block Hillary Clinton from becoming President, as Donald Trump couldn't win...

As I explained in my first blog post on the election, Johnson's support was mainly from dissident Republicans who had voted for Mitt Romney in 2012 but did not want to vote for Donald Trump. But it appears they did not recognise this fact; throughout the campaign Johnson's campaign targeted dissident Bernie Sanders supporters, highlighting his similarities on social and foreign policy to Sanders'. But by telling his supporters that Trump couldn't win, in effect he was telling them it was safe to vote for Trump. Oops. On election day, his poll numbers dropped by 3% and Donald Trump's increased by 3%. Gary Johnson's campaign manager put Donald Trump in the White House.

But let's go back to the swings between the Democrats and the Republicans, The national swing, as has already been stated, was 1.9% from Democrat to Republican. Not enough on a uniform national swing? Correct. But in the swing states, that figure was much higher, 2.8%. It is therefore a great targeting strategy from the Trump campaign, and poor from Clinton's campaign that she did not visit Wisconsin once. Wisconsin should have stayed blue; it went red.

As I've already said, the biggest Democrat swing was in Utah, but aside from that only 10 out of 51 "states" for which we have data (we are missing the 5 congressional districts, but we do have the District of Columbia) produced swings from Romney to Clinton. The other 40 all produced some sort of swing from Obama to Trump.

Clinton, to give her credit, did very well to hang on to Virginia and Colorado. At the beginning of the night, Arizona and Georgia were not "called" immediately, and as these were safe in Republican territory, this was a good sign for Clinton. Nonetheless, the fact that these states stayed red despite swings to Clinton showed us just how terrible the strategy was - that they decided to attack marginal Republican states rather than defend their own states like Wisconsin and Michigan. Her attack board was a complete failure:

Trump missed Virginia and Colorado (number 3 and 4 targets), but he picked up states lower down the board that required such a large swing we didn't even consider them individually - Michigan, Maine II, and Wisconsin. This compensated for his failure earlier on.

For the Democrats to win the presidency back in 2020, the easiest path to victory (notwithstanding the congressional districts) is to take Michigan on a 0.2% swing, Wisconsin on a 0.5% swing, and Pennsylvania on a 0.6% swing. That would put the Democrats back in the White House - and it gives Donald Trump no room to mess up. At all. Ohio may be out of reach for the Democrats (4.3% swing required), but it may not be necessary.

2 November 2016

US Election 2016 - Update

There's now under a week to go until election night, and since my blog post in May, a lot has happened, but this is what the ramifications mean.

As I said in May, it's incredibly difficult for the Republican candidate to win, irrespective of the fact that person is Donald Trump. As such, on a uniform national swing, he needs a 2.7% swing from the Democrats to the Republicans to win. In other words, everyone who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012 needs to vote for Donald Trump, as well as 2.7 out of every 100 people who voted for Barack Obama.

A poll of polls is the cumulative amalgamation of several polls over a very short period. So I'm going to construct my own poll of polls, looking solely at polls published on 1 November. They show the following:

This was weighted in favour of polls with larger sample sizes. Now, what does that mean on the change on 2012, and then on the Swingometer?

On a Uniform National Swing, Donald Trump would become president as things stand. The biggest problem for him, however, is that he's not, in terms of constituency state polls, doing enough. He wouldn't win Virgina (#3 on his target list), Colorado (#4) and Pennsylvania (#5), Incredibly, that would be 269 vs 269. Otherwise, the swingometer is consistent uniformly. Making a bad situation worse is that there would be a Democrat gain in North Carolina. Clinton is on her way to the White House.

Furthermore, the indepedent Evan McMullin in Utah means that Donald Trump could lose 6 electoral votes.

A lot of air has gone out of Gary Johnson's balloon sadly, meaning that his potential targets in New Mexico, for example, are heading to Clinton and not to Trump. Johnson's highest state at the moment is Maine, but he's 34 points behind Hillary Clinton there. Gary Johnson can stop Hillary Clinton from becoming President. Donald Trump will not win.

30 June 2016

The Psephology - Why Did Leave Win?

I was for a Leave vote - but I'll be honest. I didn't think we were going to win. Particularly at about 10pm on the night, when Nigel Farage conceded off the back of two entrance polls, I found myself, as with last year's general election, repeating a pattern - going into overdrive and hoping, rather than expecting, a result better than what the poll suggested. And two years in a row, I got it. But there are many patterns to determine as to why Vote Leave won from the psephology.

Reason One: AV

Remember the AV referendum? Nope, nor do I. But what is interesting to see is that there is a very strong correlation between the AV votes and the EU Referendum votes (discounting Gibraltar, as they did not vote in the AV referendum). Those who voted for AV are more likely to vote for Remain. Admittedly, the top end gets a little bit complicated, but one could say that London, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, the three anomalies, are so far away from the rest of the country we should consider them outliers and not count them.

When one discounts those three outliers (London, Scotland, and Northern Ireland), you get an even more interesting chart:

The one anomaly that sticks out there is the South East of England, and to this we can speculate that the Liberal Democrats had a lot of support in that part of the world when the AV referendum occurred and so people voted for the Lib Dem option. Either that or they voted against the EU because the Common Fisheries Policy affected them more than most.

But why are London, Scotland, and Northern Ireland so far away from the rest of the country on the EU and on AV? I really don't know regarding Northern Ireland, because their politics are so far away from the rest of the UK anyway.

Scotland and London, in general elections, is quite far Left wing, and so are in favour of cases such as electoral reform and so on, as well as Right wing parties doing disproportionately badly there: they are, famously, UKIP's least successful hunting grounds; it has now started to gain a foothold in Wales. Unfortunately, the BBC's results page for Election 2015 is not as comprehensive as it was in 2010, for it did not do regions, and as I lack the patience to calculate it myself, we can only guess as to whether there's a correlation there.

Whilst one might retort this with the fact that UKIP are now also in favour of electoral reform, one has to remember they changed their mind after getting oh-so-close in about a million seats in the general election, and they were against AV at the time. I have neither the time nor the patience to go through all 400-odd counting areas, mind you, so I can't break this down any further. For now.

Reason Two: The Generation Game

There has also been much talk about how "old white people" ruined the referendum result and should not have been allowed to vote in it, blah, blah, etc., etc. Now, not only can you ban old people from voting unless you ban terminally ill patients (because they don't have a future too, right?), but I think the first piece of interest here is not that it was the age per se that was the main difference, it is the jobs that these generations take. Our nation very much has its jobs being a generation thing. Allow me to explain.

How many students are between 18-24? Probably about 95% of them, if not more. And practically every University argued for a Remain vote. By contrast, how many 18-24 year old fishermen are there? Virtually zero. And how many fisheries argued for a Remain vote? Virtually none of them, if at all. The age gap came from jobs. How many young people work for JML? Tate & Lyle? These firms supported Leave and the workers did what they thought was best for their job. It correlates (and causes) the age gap.

Now, the turnout of the youth compared even to last year's general election is striking. According to the Intergenerational Foundation, a group that moans about the generation divides, 43% of 18-24 year olds voted in last year's general election. Now that dropped to 36% for the referendum, a drop of 7 percentage points compared to a rise of 6 percentage points across the country as a whole.

There are about 5.9 million 18-24 year olds in the UK (a figure I came up with thanks to a population pyramid and some dodgy maths). Now, if only 36% of them were bothered to turn up, and polls suggest that between 72% and 75% of them voted Remain, if we take the midpoint of that range and apply those two figures, there were only about 1.5 million "Remain" votes from young people. 

Would 16-17 year olds have affected the result? No: there's no guarantee as to whether they would turn out or not and as to how they would vote. Even with a full turnout, the Independent says that 16-17 year olds would have to be 93% Remain. Using a bit of GCSE Maths from that figure, there are approximately 1.5 million 16-17 year olds in the UK. A 100% turnout with 100% support for Remain would have resulted in a win for Remain by about 198,000 votes. And that's not accounting for turnout, a less-than-100% Remain support, or any waiverers up the age ladder choosing to Leave on the basis that they "know" Remain would have more support (a theory which is difficult to explain in words). 

So let's apply some polling and so on, shall we?

The one poll done had 16-17 year olds at 82% support, so straightaway the result wouldn't have changed. There's no research done on whether they would have turned out, so we have to guess using the following graph (using Sky data) and seeing where what your physics teacher might call "the curve of best fit" goes:

Oh dear. We'll call it about 25%, and so there may only have been an extra 300,000 remain votes overall and an extra 66,000 votes for leave, which would still have kept the margin of Leave's victory above a million votes.

Reason Three: The Even Silenter, Even Bigger Majority

It seems quite clear, that after the general election and now the referendum, that the silent majority are growing in number. Why are the majority silent? Because of what I would call the "violent left" - the kind of people who see the Tories and all Right-leaning people as scum, the kind of people who buy the Socialist Worker (of which there is currently a petition to ban as its actions have contravened the Terrorism Act 2000), the kind of people who protest democracy and election results.

These people tar all Tories as "scum" and screech a lot whenever something doesn't go their way. Think of Margaret Thatcher's death. Or the defacing of the cenotaph after the Conservative victory last year. And now people demand a second referendum because they didn't get their way and want to move the goalposts so that we will have a "neverendum", resulting in Remain, the status quo, winning forever.

As a result, many Tories and Leave voters who aren't every name under the sun stay in the shadows. In 1992 this was called the "Shy Tory" factor, and it's now bigger than ever. Or, rather, it's a "shy (seemingly) unpopular opinion" factor, because it also applied to Gordon Brown in 2010. Over 17.4 million Leave voters cannot all be racists, xenophobes, sexists, etc.. Logically, therefore, there will be people who do not want to be associated with this brush - and that's the beauty of a secret ballot.

I was not as active in the referendum campaign as I had been in others (because the date of the referendum was very poor for me) and so I did not meet as many people as normal. But of the people I did meet from Leave, a lot of them were worried, scared even, and upset that they had been called racists, morons, etc.. Therefore no one wanted to be seen dead in Leave shirts for fear of assault, or even, perhaps death by association, as the NUS have condemned UKIP, Israel, the Holocaust Memorial Day, and cisgender gay men. But not ISIL. Anyway, that's a story for another day.

The "old white people" are under attack from the over-politically-correct violent Left, whose notion of equality is to drive the "pale, male, and stale" into the ground. And this limits freedom of speech as a result. One day, these people may become leader of parties like Labour, the Greens, and so on, which keep getting dragged further left and left by its members (Jeremy Corbyn's crisis springs to mind, I hope he doesn't get bored of IKEA when choosing a new cabinet).

But come election day, when you don't have to say anything, just stroll up to a polling station and put a cross in a box, the silent majority shuffle along to the polling stations and defy the polls. Last year, this led to accusations that David Cameron fixed the election. This year, no one can say such a thing (it's the pens wot won it, of course...).


I am an amateur at these things, so whilst it might not be accurate it at least goes some way to getting an answer... right? Please feel free to comment below.

24 May 2016

Why I Want a "Leave" Vote in the #EURef

I'd love to stay in a reformed European Union. I really would. The problem is that it just doesn't want to reform, and will never reform. In fact, the famous debate in 1990 where Thatcher went "no, no, no" is still relevant. And it's not just me. There are those on the Left who want to leave. There are those who believe in globalisation, so want to leave. And anyone who believes in democracy should want to leave the EU.


The first big problem with the organisation is... er, where the hell is it? It's not like Westminster, where you can stroll up to Parliament and say "this is the British parliament". There are over 90 EU buildings in Brussels alone, as well as a lot more in Strasbourg and Luxembourg. So, straight off the bat, it's not transparent enough to be held accountable. 

Now, we all know how British elections work in a constituency. Once every five years, you put a cross on a paper, they're all counted up, and we declare a new Prime Minister. Straightforward. Now, if you try to explain how the EU works without researching it beforehand, then I'll give you £5. There are several main institutions, and, again, £5 to anyone who can tell me the difference without researching it.

What is the difference between the European Council, the Council of the European Union, the Council of Europe, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Commission, and the European Parliament?

There are four Presidents of the EU, for crying out loud. And again, £5 if you can tell me the difference between them without research. This is getting expensive. In fact, Labour MP Kate Hoey says that "I wouldn't profess to understand the detail of how it all works".

Now, who's in charge of the EU?


Well, name the British Prime Minister. Yep, that's him: David Cameron. Now, name the four Presidents of the EU. Er... um... ah... no... er... no, I'm stuck.

And so that leads us to just how unaccountable the EU really is. I can name two of my MEPs in London, and I don't even know how many represent me. In fact, I'm not sure anyone aside from me knows who their MEPs are. Some friends of mine have even said "what is an MEP?" And that's because MEPs are completely useless - not as people, but in terms of power (the one MEP I know personally is a nice man). The European Parliament cannot propose legislation, initiate legislation, or repeal legislation. It has a strong claim to being the most useless parliament in the world. Only the European Commission can do these things.

Once something is European law, there is NOTHING that can be done to change it.

The European Commission debate laws in secret and we cannot access their deliberations. Jonathan Hill is the Brit on this panel - no, not the ex-Fulham football coach - and no one's ever heard of him in this country. What's more, no one ever voted for him. 

In fact, I would go so far as to say that the European Union is not undemocratic, but anti-democratic.

As a result, because they're not accountable, let's have a look at the Brussels gravy train (courtesy of investigations by "Brexit: The Movie"). The following are all inside the EU and open to EU people only: a shopping centre; a hair salon; a sports centre; a sauna; and a massage parlour. In fact, 10,000 Eurocrats are paid more than David Cameron - 1 in 5 of everyone who works for the EU. Yep, they employ a staggering 50,000 people.

But here's yet another list of allowed expenses for EU officials: relocation allowance; household allowance; family allowance; entertainment allowance; private healthcare allowance; private education (for your children) allowance; viagra. MEPs get, on top of this: £250 per day for turning up; £41,000 per year for phone and computer bills; £225,000 per year to cover staffing costs; a lower rate of tax. This is what led to Nigel Farage's expenses scandal.

People also talk a lot about the UK's 'influence' within the EU. Well, the UK has voted against the European Council 72 times, and has been defeated on every single occasion. In addition, only 3.6% of European Commission officials actually come from the UK. So no, we don't have any "influence", and we cannot hold it accountable.

The anti-EU scenes we see in Athens and so on are markedly similar to what we saw in the 1970s in the UK. Strikes, strikes, and more strikes. What we see is the people saying one thing and the Eurocrats saying another, and since the European Parliament is powerless, it is no more than a flowery gesture. Europeans voted in a bunch of far-right parties into it in 2014 to indicate a protest. You could make the argument UKIP counts here too, seeing as it was the first time anyone other than the Conservatives or Labour won a national election since 1910.

The EU could propose the slaughtering of the first born and probably get it through. That's just how undemocratic and anti-democratic the EU really is.


Now, not only does the EU give lots of our money to the Arts in the UK (which is why they're all in favour of a remain vote, the BBC included), they've also destroyed industries altogether. The European Union's quotas system has meant that the UK's fishing waters have been divided up with other nation states, and the British government was powerless to stop this happening. This means that the fisheries in particularly the North East of England are losing out - The Netherlands have rights to an area approximately 3 miles off the coast of the River Tyne. When the non-EU countries, such as Norway, are selling their fish to us, we know we're in trouble. In fact, the EU has even tried to pay off British fishermen to destroy their boats! They foresaw the negative impacts on the UK economy that were to be caused, which makes such a policy even more ridiculous.

Now, a bit of background. Germany and Britain, at different stages, embraced free market policies and saw huge booms in their economies, albeit with a slight time lag. Germany's post-war recovery, free of government intervention, was dubbed an "economic miracle". By contrast, the post-war UK economy consisted of a paternalistic and failing government. There was even a governmental advice video saying that one should leave 18 inches between chairs and furniture. It took nearly 10 years for rationing to go. The economy grew a little, but it had such a low base after the war it was virtually impossible for it to reduce further. What's better to look at was inflation, rationing, and beaurocratism. In the 1970s, we were called the 'sick man of Europe'. When the UK finally adopted the free market in the 1980s, we haven't returned to how it was beforehand, so this is clearly the way forward.

We should have seen what was coming when we signed up to the EEC. Firstly, the architect wasn't German, he was French, and had spent much of the war advising the British government to implement a lot of the regulations that led to the 1970s disaster. Secondly, Ted Heath signed a document so big it required two strong men to carry it. Nowadays, there is so much regulation that (aside from the environmental effects of having so much paper) if one tried to codify it, the regulations would be as high as Nelson's Column. Even the EU themselves won't say how many laws there are.

Only 6% of British businesses export to the continent, so let's have a look at some of the rulings and laws that affect daily life and that domestic firms must abide to even though there's no reason to seeing as they do not export to the continent:

If you can't play the video above, there's a total of over 20,000 laws experienced between the time you wake up and the time you get in your car. [Caution: you may be about to see something Left wing on this blog...] Big businesses don't particularly mind regulation. After all, it keeps the small people out and has the power to lobby for bigger regulations and corrupt the EU at its very cores - note the plural.

In fact, there have been some ridiculous regulations imposed by the EU:

- Bananas must be a certain weight and bendiness
- Children cannot blow up balloons
- Cucumbers must be a certain shape
- You can't eat your pet horse, but you can eat someone else's

Yes, the 6% of firms will need to abide by EU regulations, but similarly, anyone who exports to the US needs to abide by US regulations, anyone who exports to China needs to abide by Chinese regulations... yadda yadda etc etc.


Small failing firms cannot compete with their rivals in developing nations. The answer? To stop the UK and other EU nations from trading with such nations, the EU has imposed tariffs, quotas, and regulations. This means that the developing world cannot improve, nor can we import cheaper. This is why the Remain side cry "but we trade with the EU a lot". Because there are no alternatives.

In 1990 Thatcher predicted that "a totally protectionist policy [...] would lead to retaliation against us, reduce the capability of our export industries and therefore our standard of living, and make our industries inefficient and therefore cost the housewife a great deal more. I note also that [people complain] about goods entering Britain from Third world countries where wages are far lower. I have heard [them] say several times [...] that Third world countries need help. They need trade as much as they need aid."

She was right.

Protectionism is only necessary to protect failed industries. The EU is effectively a locked-off country, not willing to trade with anyone else. Cheaper goods give us, consumers, more money - and if we're not willing to trade with anyone outside of the little "band" that is the EU, then that's what happens. Prices have gone up. The consumer has lost out. Living standards have been squeezed. The poor have got poorer.

If we are going to help the Third World, then we need to start trading with them. Think of African producers who can't even sell their goods to us so get no money at all. The third world needs trade as much as it needs aid. And if we think that we can't get foodstuff from Africa, then what are we? And it wouldn't eradicate the UK's economy. Some people in this country (well, my mother did, anyway), always like to "buy British" when possible. So the UK economy would not be eradicated as the Remain side are scaremongering people into telling us.

In fact, the EU is so protectionist that it engaged in a one-way buffer stock scheme, where the government artificially controls supply so that the price is what they want. The EU bought so much produce off the market and allowed it to rot, creating an artificial shortage and higher prices. This led to the infamous "wine lakes" and "butter mountains":

EU protectionism adds between 10% and 20% to the cost of food.

But if you're protecting something so key, such as steel, then this has a knock-on effect to other industries. So not only is the steel industry affected, then so is, basically, the entire manufacturing industry. Tate & Lyle, a sugar company, also suffer for the same reason in the sugar industry. This has cost thousands of jobs and a downsize of 50% in the last six years. In fact, such policies cost the company about £80m per year. 

So not only are consumers and producers losing out, but in the long term the protected firm will lose out too. Protecting a firm does not make it more competitive. It is nothing more than a bit of a giveaway. The firm needs reform and throwing money at them won't help. The problem gets worse... and worse. Tariffs on foodstuffs are approximately 12% and manufactured goods 4%. If we leave, is that really such a big price to pay for the 6% of British firms that do export to the EU? No.

The EU is now an economic basket case. Every continent in the world (Antarctica aside) is now outgrowing Europe. The Chinese are leading the way, smashing down the shackles of communism to open up their borders to trade and we've seen the results. Other ex-communist nations are doing the same thing - Azerbaijan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Armenia, Montenegro, Serbia, etc... The EU is the only declining trade bloc in the world. We have shackled ourselves to it.

And now the big question....


One word: Switzerland.

1 - Zurich is the wealthiest city in the world and has the highest quality of life in the world. 
2 - Switzerland has Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with many countries in the world.
3 - Swiss exports per head are five times higher than ours.
4 - Swiss unemployment is 4.5%; the EU is 10.2%.
5 - Many leading firms are based there - and it's not in the EU!
6 - GDP per capita is approximately twice as high as the UK.
7 - Average wages are higher than the UK.
8 - It is a more equal country, and high taxes are not existent here. Taxing the rich does not automatically make the poor richer, it drags everyone down to a poor level.

And people say that becoming another Switzerland is a bad thing.

Indeed, Swiss economists say that non-membership of the EU is the sole reason as to why they're doing so well. It's more democratic than the UK (let alone the EU), is one of the least regulated in the world, and even the EU admit Switzerland is ridiculously innovative.

"Ah", I hear you shout, "but won't we need a trade deal?" Er... no. Go to your local shop and note where all the goods are from. Even the import tariffs won't stop people importing from non-EU countries at the moment. But we have no trade deals with some of these countries... and that's the thing. YOU DON'T NEED TRADE DEALS TO TRADE. 

But fear not, Remainers, for the EU will want trade deals with us anyway. The EU is desperate to keep the goods flowing into the UK. How many Audis, Volkswagens, BMWs are there on our streets? We are the biggest market for the rest of the EU. We need self-belief and self-confidence. They need us more than we need them. And because we don't need trade deals to trade, we hold all the negotiating cards.

But trade deals are still useful. However, the EU are rubbish at them. The GDP of the countries with which the EU has trade deals with combines to £5trn. But Switzerland's are nearly six times that at £29trn, Singapore seven times the EU at £35trn, and South Korea nine times at £45trn. Tiny Chile has trade deals with countries whose GDP sums to £50trn! Even if you add to the EU the value of its own internal market, you're still only on £18trn.

Leaving the EU would mean we could race through some of these deals. Even Obama's "back of the queue" comment is meaningless considering we'd be only second in line. There's so much potential in the UK economy shackled by the EU. And we're already seeing new firms, new businesses in the UK. Over 400,000 new businesses in the last five years. And leaving the EU and such shackles could cause rapid expansion and the end to the oligopolistic firms in energy, transport, and so on. We can do it.


OK, there are some benefits to the EU. Cheaper phone rates, fags, holidays, and booze abroad. But that's really not worth all of the cons.

Do we want to be governed by an anti-democratic organisation that can impose laws, rules, and regulations on us? A vote for the European project? For greater political integration? For an economic basket case?

There will be no second referendum, despite what Farage may say. This is an unbelievable opportunity. And we need to grasp it by both hands to create the better Britain everybody wants.

Let's vote against anti-democratism.
Let's vote against overregulation.
Let's vote for a better Britain.
Let's vote leave.