John Rees-Evans Visits Northern Ireland

John Rees-Evans gave an inspiring presentation to UKIP Northern Ireland members on Saturday.

He was able to devote a considerable amount of time to members questions over a wide range of subjects.

Even if JRE is not selected as leader of UKIP he will certainly be an excellent candidate for MP in an upcoming Westminster Election.

I would personally wish to thank JRE for making the effort to visit the members in Northern Ireland and perhaps apologise that he did not receive an appropriate Ulster welcome during the AGM which he also attended.

 Cyflymder Duw

How did “progressives” become so reactionary?

Having taken a break to be shocked at the US election result, Remainer MPs are getting back to using process to block Article 50. It’s a mystery why voters are so angry, isn’t it?

Some left-wingers around the world seem to be think that, with a little obstructionism, everything can go on as before. That’s delusional. If yesterday’s models are being rejected by the people, it’s because they no longer work.

Much of what today’s elites think of as so normal as to be unchangeable are really late twentieth-century innovations. The EU is an unprecedented political experiment. Multiculturalism is an unprecedented social experiment. Global fiat money is an unprecedented economic experiment.

It’s not unreasonable for people to judge these innovations against their results. In fact, that’s what any reasonable person should do.

And the results don’t match the goals.

The European project was meant to deliver peace and harmony across a continent. Instead, it is expanding the economic divide between north and south, and fuelling political discontent.

Multiculturalism has evolved into safe spaces and identity politics that, far from ending stigmatisation based on background, has established an inverse moral hierarchy of race, religion, gender and sexuality.

Fiat money was meant to make the monetary system more secure. Instead, it has facilitated financial crises, and transferred wealth from average earners to the super-rich.

Systems don’t survive simply because they are articles of faith among the people who benefit from them most. They were uncertain novelties a few decades ago. Their own deficiencies have made them uncertain again.

This year’s political rebellions have challenged some, but not all, of these presumed certainties. They may be the beginning of new experiments for the twenty-first century.

But that’s no reason to fear. The norm is change, not stasis. Not all change is progress. But trying to keep a failed system afloat is often worse than allowing it to fail.

Today’s self-described progressives are really reactionaries. They might consider the opportunities of change – and the risks of obstructing the correction.

Unfair Parking Fines

IMGL0052

Simply out of touch with the common man is how one can only describe the decision by MLA’s to retain the £90 parking fine. Given that those involved in terrorism within Stormont have received less sanction it is indeed scandalous.

Where is a pensioner going to get a spare £90 to pay such an unjust and exorbitant fine, it is simply unrepresentative of the crime. For many it is nothing more than an oversight, perhaps being unaware such a punitive penalty exist.

I am aware of a very elderly couple heading to an unfamiliar hospital and straying into a bus lane facing a similar penalty. This is wrong on so many levels and must be seen for what it is, revenue gathering.

We see an increase in punitive fined issued by representatives of private landlords, known as the wild west of the sector, but for our own elected to engage is such activity should be condemned.

Messrs Edwin Poots, William Humphrey, George Robinson and Alex Easton need, uniquely, to be congratulated on their efforts on this occasion. Standing up to what is becoming known as the sneering liberal elite, holdup in their plush offices pushing their anti motorist agenda.

Unfair Parking Fines

 

Armistice Day should remind us how fortunate we are

The reaction in some quarters to the US election makes it sound like we’re facing the apocalypse. Today should put that melodramatic response into perspective. Remembering those who fought and died in the First World War should remind us how lucky we are to be living today.

Over 900,000 soldiers died for the British Empire during the First World War. Over 8 million lives were lost on all sides. Including the wounded and missing, the total casualties came to over 37 million.

A hundred years ago this month, the Battle of the Somme ended. In the space of 4 months, 1.5 million had been killed. Nearly sixty thousand British soldiers died on July 1st, the first day of the battle, alone.

Of course, war and suffering aren’t a thing of the past. But the world is becoming less violent. The peace that most of us in the West have enjoyed since the Second World War, in spite of the Cold War, is unprecedented.

In fact, notwithstanding the atrocities of Nazism and Communism, the twentieth century was comparatively less bloody than those that preceded it. As Steven Pinker has written in The Better Angels of Our Nature, before the modern era, conflict was often even more deadly.

It’s easy to be pessimistic about the future. Maybe it reflects a tendency to romanticise childhood, and fear old age and death. But the fact is the world today is better in almost every way than it was a century ago, and it is likely to get better still.

This year, in both Britain and the United States, some people have reacted to votes that didn’t go their way by expressing shame in their own countries. Today we remember that, a hundred years ago, millions of young men had to give their lives in the service of those countries. Lest we forget how much we have to be grateful for.

We can learn from the failure of opinion polls

For centuries, ancient Greeks trekked to the Oracle of Delphi in an effort to find out the future. Pretty silly, right? If only they’d had professional polling companies to consult instead.

Over the last two years, pollsters have been catastrophically wrong more often than not. They didn’t just call the presidential election wrong. They got Brexit wrong too. And many of the presidential primaries. And our general election last year. And Israel’s general election a few months earlier. And the US midterm elections, in 2014.

Yet, despite their track record of failure, pollsters are still treated as reliable forecasters. Why?

Perhaps because, a few years ago, it seemed like polls were getting better and better. UK pollsters got the 2010 election spot on. US statistician Nate Silver was hailed as a genius for forecasting the right result in every state in the 2012 presidential election.

But opinion polling isn’t a hard science. Forecasts are shaped not just by the raw data but also by weighting adjustments for different groups. The methodology rests on assumptions that reflect what happened last time around – which is no guide, necessarily, to what will happen the next time.

In framing their assumptions, one thing pollsters seem to have repeatedly failed to account for is shy voters on the right. In the general election, the referendum, and the presidential election, polls underestimated their numbers, apparently because they were reluctant to disclose their voting intentions publicly.

Why is that? Could it be because Leave and Trump voters were dismissed as nasty, stupid and racist by establishment elites? By stigmatising large portions of the electorate, elites may have unwittingly created the statistical illusion of their own strength.

The anger at both Trump and Brexit derives, in part, from epistemic hubris. People were shocked to realise that the stats weren’t as reliable as they had supposed. That they didn’t know their own countries nearly as well as they had thought.

But the best way to react to this realisation isn’t rage, but humility. Recognising the limits of our knowledge ought to encourage us to investigate more.

Assuming total knowledge is part of what’s polarising Western societies. It’s the complacency that encourages people never to leave the Facebook filter bubble, or meet anyone who thinks – or votes – differently.

Understanding – rather than just railing against – seismic political shifts requires recognising that people can’t easily be reduced to statistics in a survey.

How Trump redrew the map

In his first ever election, Donald Trump has won the most powerful office in the world. No one can deny that it’s an astonishing achievement. Pundits and pollsters are perplexed as to how he did it. Might part of the answer be that he borrowed from his opponents’ playbook?

The election result may have been a surprise, but the reaction from left-wing commentators is predictably melodramatic. This morning, Simon Schama took to the airwaves to brand Trump a 1930s-style fascist. Anne Applebaum added that his election marks the end of the West.

But, while Trump’s language may be extreme, much of his policy platform is a lot more “centrist” than that of his Republican rivals. Indeed, in many ways, he sounds more like a Democrat than a Republican.

In his acceptance speech, the President-elect talked about new infrastructure spending, creating new jobs. That idea is reminiscent of the 1930s – in America, that is. It harks back to FDR’s New Deal.

Indeed, throughout the campaign, Trump has drawn policies from both left and right. He has taken protectionism from the Democrats, and a tougher stance on immigration from the Republicans. He has attacked political correctness, but, at the same time, ignored much of the socially conservative culture war. He has pledged to cut taxes, but not to cut welfare.

That might explain how Trump has managed to do what no other Republican presidential candidate has done since the 1980s: run the table across the so-called Rust Belt states.

The danger is that, having promised change, Trump’s presidency just brings more of the same. Borrowing to fund infrastructure and entitlements will come at a huge long-term cost. Statist stimulus doesn’t usually produce the kind of sustainable economic boom Trump has promised. At least, it didn’t for FDR. Or, for that matter, Obama.

But the irony is that, after years of gridlock between the President and Congress, it could be the man Democrats despise more than any other who enables bipartisanship. With Trump in the White House, Republicans in Congress may end up backing a big-government agenda similar to the one they have trenchantly opposed for much of the last eight years.

That may not solve America’s problems. But it could mean Democrats end up getting what they want. So, not for the first time, maybe the leftist mass hysteria is overkill.

Better never than late.

grass-cutting

Grass cutting is under way along Bangor’s ring road. So what you say, that is as it should be. Trouble is that it’s some months to late, the grass should have been mown over the summer when it was at its peak. At that time our roads were in a disgraceful state, weeds everywhere. Put simply it was an embarrassment to our town, we can only imagine what our visitors thought.

Now it appears the mechanisms of government are in action, but is it too little too late? The weeds have already gone to seed ensuring a bumper crop next year. The grass has already fallen back ready for winter.

Weeds and grass are now firmly established within every crevice on our roadside leaving it impossible, in places,  to distinguish the division between road and verge. It is a future maintenance nightmare.

So why cut now when all is lost, the only people to gain are those at the receiving end of the contract. If the money was available why was it not spent when needed? Or, were the roads in other areas simply more important.

How Trump redrew the map

In his first ever election, Donald Trump has won the most powerful office in the world. No one can deny that it’s an astonishing achievement. Pundits and pollsters are perplexed as to how he did it. Might part of the answer be that he borrowed from his opponents’ playbook?

The election result may have been a surprise, but the reaction from left-wing commentators is predictably melodramatic. This morning, Simon Schama took to the airwaves to brand Trump a 1930s-style fascist. Anne Applebaum added that his election marks the end of the West.

But, while Trump’s language may be extreme, much of his policy platform is a lot more “centrist” than that of his Republican rivals. Indeed, in many ways, he sounds more like a Democrat than a Republican.

In his acceptance speech, the President-elect talked about new infrastructure spending, creating new jobs. That idea is reminiscent of the 1930s – in America, that is. It harks back to FDR’s New Deal.

Indeed, throughout the campaign, Trump has drawn policies from both left and right. He has taken protectionism from the Democrats, and a tougher stance on immigration from the Republicans. He has attacked political correctness, but, at the same time, ignored much of the socially conservative culture war. He has pledged to cut taxes, but not to cut welfare.

That might explain how Trump has managed to do what no other Republican presidential candidate has done since the 1980s: run the table across the so-called Rust Belt states.

The danger is that, having promised change, Trump’s presidency just brings more of the same. Borrowing to fund infrastructure and entitlements will come at a huge long-term cost. Statist stimulus doesn’t usually produce the kind of sustainable economic boom Trump has promised. At least, it didn’t for FDR. Or, for that matter, Obama.

But the irony is that, after years of gridlock between the President and Congress, it could be the man Democrats despise more than any other who enables bipartisanship. With Trump in the White House, Republicans in Congress may end up backing a big-government agenda similar to the one they have trenchantly opposed for much of the last eight years.

That may not solve America’s problems. But it could mean Democrats end up getting what they want. So, not for the first time, maybe the leftist mass hysteria is overkill.

The president America needs is Thomas Jefferson

Today’s US presidential election concludes a campaign that has lasted for 18 months, and cost some $4 billion. And all for a binary choice between the most despised candidates in recent history. No wonder people are so desperate for change.

One of the remarkable things about this election isn’t how different the candidates are, but how much they actually agree. The contrast in tone masks a surprising similarity of substance.

For the first time in decades, the candidates of both major parties support protectionism in trade. Both back leaving welfare spending unchecked – in spite of unfunded liabilities that, by some estimates, stretch into the hundreds of trillions of dollars. Both advocate a non-interventionist foreign policy that may end the era of Pax Americana.

But the real issue is that the presidency is such a big prize at all.

When the United States was founded, the federal government’s executive branch employed fewer than a hundred civil servants. Today, it employs nearly 3 million.

The reason billions are now spent on the presidential election is because the winner gets control of this vast bureaucratic empire – and the astonishing array of powers to direct people’s lives that come with it.

It’s no coincidence that, as government grows, the gulf between establishment elites and the people across the West is expanding too. Increasingly, the burning inequality today is one characterised less by wealth than by power. It’s the gap between the government and the governed.

The growth of government threatens free society itself. As one of the United States’ Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson, wrote 200 years ago:

What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun? The generalising and concentrating all cares and power into one body, no matter whether of the autocrats of Russia or France, or of the aristocrats of a Venetian senate.”

Perhaps the question we should be asking today isn’t: who should be in charge of the bureaucratic leviathan? But, why are we ruled by it at all?