This won’t actually work I’m afraid

Griff Rhys Jones has said he is thinking about moving abroad if Labour wins the election and introduce a mansion tax.

The TV star described the idea of a levy on properties worth more than £2million as ‘fatuous’.

Under Labour’s proposals, owners of homes worth between £2million and £3million would pay £3,000 a year extra in tax.

Owners of homes worth more than £3million could pay as much as £30,000 extra per year.

Rhys Jones, 60, who made his name in shows such as Alas Smith and Jones alongside comedian Mel Smith, told the Daily Telegraph: ‘It would mean I’d be paying the most colossal tax, which is obviously aimed at foreigners who have apparently come in and bought up all the property in London.’

He added: ‘That sounds about as fatuous an idea as that immigrants are stealing all the jobs. I’d probably go and live abroad because I could get some massive palace which I could restore there.’

The presenter lives in a ‘gigantic’ house in Fitzrovia, central London, which he described as being a ‘slum’ when he bought it 15 years ago.

He said it has appreciated so significantly in value that he may move overseas if Labour wins next May’s election.

Because the new tax will be pretty immediately incorporated into the capital value of the place. Indeed, we’re seeing reports that even the idea of the tax is reducing top end house prices. That being so there’s no way to avoid it. You’ll either pay the tax year by year or get less money when selling. You’ll pay either way.

How very Soviet

There’s electoral bribery and then there’s electoral bribery:

There were no voter lists, no recognised observers, and only one real candidate. But for voters who turned out for Sunday’s rebel-organised elections in eastern Ukraine, there were plenty of cut-price root vegetables.

At polls in the self-declared “people’s republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk, stalls outside were selling beetroots, potatoes, onions and carrots for barely a few pence per sack.

Who was subsidising the election-cum-farmers’ market was not quite clear. But it was widely suspected to be an attempt by the region’s new leaders to maximise voter turnout – and give the polls a much-needed stamp of legitimacy.

How shittily run does a place have to be to make cheap beetroot an incentive to get out and vote? This is proof of almost Soviet levels of economic incompetence.

I suppose that’s one way to get out

Germany would be prepared to accept that Britain will have to leave the European Union if David Cameron insists on restricting the number of immigrants from the bloc who can live and work in the UK.

Mr Cameron’s bid to curb levels of migration from the EU is taking Britain to a “point of no return”, according to Der Spiegel.

It’s obviously
true that an end to the internal free movement of people will mean having to leave. And whatever I think of the free movement of people or not leaving would be a good idea. So go on Call Me Dave, insist upon it and then we can leave.

Because it doesn’t matter: we left anyway, which is the important thing.

How convenient of the data protection act

MPs accused of abusing the unreformed expenses system will escape official investigation after the House of Commons authorities destroyed all record of their claims, the Daily Telegraph can reveal.

John Bercow, the Speaker, faces accusations he has presided over a fresh cover-up of MPs’ expenses after tens of thousands of pieces of paperwork relating to claims made before 2010 under the scandal-hit regime were shredded.

Members of the public who have written to Kathryn Hudson, the standards watchdog, to raise concerns about their MP’s claims have been told there can be no investigation due to lack of evidence.

Under the House of Commons “Authorised Records Disposal Practice, which is overseen by Mr Bercow’s committee, records of MPs’ expenses claims are destroyed after three years. The move is necessary to comply with data protection laws, a Commons spokesman said.


When’s that multiple member gallows going to be ready?

Something of a boob by the Fawcett Society

62p AN HOUR: What women sleeping 16 to a room get paid to make Ed and Harriet’s £45 ‘This Is What A Feminist Looks Like’ T-shirts

Feminist T-shirts worn by politicians are made in ‘sweatshop’ conditions
Migrant women in Mauritius are making the £45 tops for 62p an hour
They say: ‘We don’t feel like feminists. We don’t feel equal. We feel trapped’
Machinists sleep 16 to a room and earn less than average wage on island
T-shirt is sold in Whistles in aid of activism group The Fawcett Society
Deputy chief executive of the charity Dr Neitzert said they had originally been assured the garments would be produced ethically in the UK
When they received samples they noted they had been made in Mauritius
She added that if evidence emerges Whistles will have to withdraw range
Harriet Harman wore shirt on front bench of the Commons during PMQs

Quite snigger worthy really.

Do note that there’s nothing wrong at all with sweatshops, they’re a part of that route up out of poverty. But there is a joy in finding these holier than thous ethical types breaching their own posturings.


The world is on course to experience “severe and pervasive” negative impacts from climate change unless it takes rapid action to slash its greenhouse gas emissions, a major UN report is expected to warn on Sunday.

Yes, we know, can we haz a carbon tax plze?

Sigh. They keep telling us this, we’re all to be boiled, and then they just will not listen to the next set of experts, the economists, about what to do next. It’s a carbon tax. It doesn’t mean economic disaster: the UK already has one of about the right size (even if not quite properly distributed). The UK is also wasting vast amounts on all of the regulatory and legislative tinkering that it’s doing: which is why we want to have a carbon tax instead of legislative and regulatory tinkering.

Just fucking get on with it would you?

On First Look and Matt Taibbi

Interesting stuff here.

And there’s a line from an old management book (Robert Townsend’s “Up the Organisation”). About how a great salesman gets promoted to being a sales manager and is left there in the central office not knowing what the fuck he’s doing. Great at charming the customers but not as a manager of those who do (akin to the lesson of that other great management book, The Peter Principle).

Taibbi can, on his day, produce prose of the most remarkable wonder. I still recall a piece of his in The Exile (in fact, I think it was the one before that, the one that went spectacularly bust) from the mid-90s where the central set up is Yeltsin waking up after a cocaine binge and wondering what the hell has happened to the Soviet Union?

His economics isn’t so hot but no one has everything.

But his ability to do that isn’t necessarily an indication of his ability to manage an organisation and a budget. Which is what seems to have happened here. The assumption was made that because he can write that he can manage.

Well, yes

Italy formally ends its search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean on Saturday amid fears that its EU-led replacement will lead to the deaths of thousands of migrants trying to reach Europe.

Pushing a task
up from a national body to a supra-national one is always such a guarantee of increased efficiency in its performance, isn’t it?

Umm, but why?

Anyone who criticises Sharia law or gay marriage could be branded an “extremist” under sweeping new powers planned by the Conservatives to combat terrorism, an alliance of leading atheists and Christians fear.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, unveiled plans last month for so-called Extremism Disruption Orders, which would allow judges to ban people deemed extremists from broadcasting, protesting in certain places or even posting messages on Facebook or Twitter without permission.

Mrs May outlined the proposal in a speech at the Tory party conference in which she spoke about the threat from the so-called Islamic State – also known as Isis and Isil – and the Nigerian Islamist movement Boko Haram.

But George Osborne, the Chancellor, has made clear in a letter to constituents that the aim of the orders would be to “eliminate extremism in all its forms” and that they would be used to curtail the activities of those who “spread hate but do not break laws”.

He explained that that the new orders, which will be in the Conservative election manifesto, would extend to any activities that “justify hatred” against people on the grounds of religion, sexual orientation, gender or disability.

If they’re
not breaking the law then they’re not doing anything wrong, are they?

We’ve got robust laws about incitement to violence and the rest. And the thing about this free speech stuff is the “free” that’s in the phrase. I am and should be allowed to say “lock up the filthy homos” however stupid, impolite or hateful it would be for me to say this. Just as Abu Hookhand is at liberty to discuss the finer points of stoning them or pushing a wall over on them. What neither of us may say is let’s go stone that filthy homo over there.

That’s just what free speech means.

Ooooh, how lovely, I am being anonymously attacked!

Over here. Highlights include:

Quoting the opening line of a Jeremy Clarkson piece in the Sunday Times proves I’m a racist.

I attack Ritchie because he’s got more Twitter followers than I do.

My references to being the head of the shadowy international scandium oligopoly are taken seriously.

And so on. And this is cute too:

Questions, questions.

He may be just another angry ranter. I really don’t know. But I’d like to know a couple of things.

Question 1: is someone paying him to write his stuff? If so, who?

From an interview with Worstall back in 2006.

Normblog: What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job?

Worstall: Over the past couple of years, since I started blogging, I’ve been changing my profession, from vaguely unsuccessful businessman to vaguely unsuccessful writer. I’m still astonished that people wish to pay me to tap on a keyboard and I think I’ve found my ideal alternative.

If he’s changed his whole profession towards being a ‘writer’ then he sure won’t make enough from the likes of Forbes. His 3,500-odd Twitter followers – rather feeble, given the attention-seeking headlines – suggest not much potential for advertising revenues. His book rankings place him currently in 2.7 millionth place on Amazon for his climate change book Chasing Rainbows, and he’s at 1.2 millionth place for his more recent 20 Economic Fallacies.

That ain’t how he keeps himself afloat. If there are people paying him to write his outpourings, who are they, what do they get out of it, and what form does this payment take?

Our anonymong here doesn’t seem to know quite how much Forbes pays. I get paid by editors to write things for them: at Forbes, The Register, the ASI and so on. No grants, no secret payments, no salary, none of that and that freelance income amounts to three times the median UK wage or a bit above that. Yes, sorry about this, but I am successfully earning a good living as a freelance writer.

And, of course, I do also run that shadowy international scandium oligopoly.

Be fascinating to find out who it is that has spent time and effort piecing all of that together really.

The filthy capitalist bastard that is Russell Brand

Called Brand, it is co-produced by Mayfair Film Partnership, of which he is a director. Shares in the firm worth £973,000 were sold to 21 outside investors, including an executive with bank giant JPMorgan Chase.

The largest stake went to Sunderland defender Wes Brown.

The shares were bought under the Government’s Enterprise Investment Scheme, which provides tax incentives for people to invest in risky new businesses.

Tee hee.

You’re competing in a market honey

Had I been born with testicles, I’m pretty sure I’d be spared much humiliation when discussing my finances during my sporting career. I remember picking up my first winner’s cheque of €500 at a small competition in Ireland and thinking I had made it. Until I realised that men in the 100m at the same event received €2,000. It was a rude awakening.

Although many sports have moved into the 21st century and award equal prize money at major competitions, 30% of sports, including football, cricket and squash, refuse to move forward, as was highlighted this week in a study by the BBC.

It begs the question, do the governing bodies of these sports actually care about the women who choose to take part and represent the country? I don’t believe the (mainly) old boys do. When the men and women’s teams of Arsenal both won the FA Cup this year, the women were paid £5,000 as a team and the men received £1.8m. Why hasn’t anyone held up these governing bodies by the balls (pun intended) and demand that they put strategies in place to bridge sport’s embarrassing gender wage gap?

It has been argued that women’s sport isn’t as businesslike as men’s, that it doesn’t generate enough interest to justify equality on the pay scale. But this is because they refuse to give women’s sport the same platform.

How many people
watched the female FA Cup and how many the male? And where does the money come from? Quite, the number of people watching.

Further, men and women are actually competing in different sports. To demand equal pay is as crazed as insisting that the World Tiddlywinks champion should be paid the same as the World Heavyweight champion. They’re simply different things.

I often joke about hanging them all but this time I’m serious

Homeopaths have offered their services to prevent and treat Ebola in west Africa, claiming their “remedies” can work in serious epidemics of infectious disease.

“Homeopaths worldwide have been mobilising their efforts toward gaining entrance in those countries affected,” the National Center for Homeopathy in the US said on its website. “The overriding goal is to investigate Ebola firsthand, and thereby determine which remedy or remedies are best for treating this disease.”

The organisation claims that homeopathic remedies have been used successfully in other disease epidemics in the past, naming cholera, diphtheria and hepatitis among others.

Get that gallows ready

I think this is something we get to decide, isn’t it?

The Argentine ambassador to the UK has described Jeremy Clarkson as “an embarrassment to the British people”, criticising him for his “provocative” behaviour while in her country.

His behaviour may have been provocative, may not have been. But I do think it’s up to us to decide whether we’re embarrassed by him or not. Rather than, say, a bunch of Italians who speak Spanish and merely think they’re English.

Slightly de trop

The online retailer Amazon has been likened to the militant group Isis by one of the world’s most powerful literary agents.

Andrew Wylie, the US-based agent who counts Martin Amis and Philip Roth among his many clients, condemned the “brutality” of Amazon’s tactics in a speech to the international festival of authors in Toronto.

Not heard of Amazon executing people in the street.

In March he said: “If you have a choice between the plague and Amazon, pick the plague.”

A tad over the top maybe?