Monthly Archives: February 2020


Had a power cut this evening, about 11:40 pm.

I was sitting at the ‘puter trying to fill some ghastly form – now abandoned for the day. Plunged into darkness, I (by lucky chance) had the mobile phone on the desk and knew approximately where it was, so I reached out carefully and found it. Used its torch to navigate to the bed, where I lay down and fired up a browser and went to check whether the issue was known. Not finding my location on the map or live feed of outages, I went to report it.

But as soon as I entered my postcode, it replied that the outage was already known. Someone got there first! Interesting: whoever it was presumably had to go through the same preliminaries as me – find a light source, find a phone or other means of reporting at a time when any mains-powered router is out of action. And to have been quicker than me, they can’t have spent time figuring out where to go and what to do, which implies they already knew at least enough to find it without hesitation.

What are the chances of that, bearing in mind this is West Devon, not Shoreditch?

Stuttley Watch

I think perhaps we need a watch on our devious prime minister.  His sycophantic party, rid of its moderates in the Stalinist purge last autumn, looks unlikely to hold him to account.

Today’s big announcement: sale of new fossil-fuel-powered cars to be banned from 2035.  Great (if it happens).  Just a shame no such thing happened much earlier in my life.  It’s a good signal to be sending to the world – insofar as anyone believes him.  Not that many will: if actions speak louder than words, his unexplained sacking of Claire O’Neill from the Glasgow summit, coming hard on the heels of the Flybe bailout, drives a Chelsea Tractor through his credibility on the environment.

On the other hand, the man who brought Boris Bikes to London seems likely to be someone genuinely keen to breathe cleaner air.  I expect he’ll be well-pleased if we hit the target.  It’s just not credible that that’s the primary motive for making the announcement today.

Car industry reacts with alarm (well they would, wouldn’t they)?  My first thought: this pre-empts more announcements of them reducing capacity here, and the unspoken brexit-bonus headlines: people who voted to lose their jobs, lose their jobs.  Now there’s a new scapegoat.  But that’s not really plausible: much more likely he wants the industry to stay.  His announcement, and the industry reaction, are preparing for some big bungs of taxpayer money to bribe them to stay here and invest in re-tooling to produce electric cars.

I wonder if this could be Good News for my very small shareholding in one of the companies providing charging points for electric cars?  I see them in quite a few places now (for example, Lidl’s car park), but the bottleneck isn’t them, it’s the electricity generation and distribution capacity.

RIP the Thatcher Legacy

Once upon a time, I wrote a few thoughts on Mrs Thatcher’s death.  Today it’s time to bid farewell to her legacy.  Stuttley has declared its destruction now to be not merely his agenda, but  a fundamental priority.

Of course, that’s not how he puts it.  He says we shall not be bound by EU rules.  Which sounds on the face of it entirely reasonable.  I’m inclined to believe he (mostly) means it when he assures the world he doesn’t intend a race to the bottom: insofar as he wants that, EU membership has not really held him back.  After all, we have exemptions from EU directives and programmes we haven’t signed up to.

The issue with those EU rules is that they are exactly what makes the Single Market, Mrs Thatcher’s greatest project and most important legacy.  For it was she more than anyone who persuaded governments and people around Europe to create a Single Market, and indeed it was she – or rather her civil servants – who wrote many (maybe even most) of the rules we’re now rejecting.

With Blair/Brown having abandoned monetarism and let credit rip, and recent governments looking back to 1970s socialism such as bailouts for lame ducks from banks to Flybe, her domestic legacy was already largely gone.  Now it’s her greatest achievement, red-tape-free trade throughout the world’s greatest market.  Ironic indeed that remaining beneficiaries will be countries she worked so hard to persuade!

If you’d told me in the 1980s that Attlee’s achievements would outlive Thatcher’s, I suspect I’d have been quite seriously incredulous.  How things change!

p.s. Does anyone else see Stuttley’s “Canada-style agreement” as laying the ground for blaming the EU?  He’ll very publicly make demands that are not a problem for Canada but utterly incompatible with the Good Friday Agreement, then loudly condemn the EU for refusing them.