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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "America"

Must-See Tweets Displaying Chile’s Violent Response to Protesters Shows Us Why Gun Control Is a Bad Idea

Westlake Legal Group ff260d6b-4131-4295-9611-d5489b7c6ddd@news.ap_.org_ Must-See Tweets Displaying Chile’s Violent Response to Protesters Shows Us Why Gun Control Is a Bad Idea second amendment police brutality Guns gun rights gun control Front Page Stories firearms democrats Chile America 2A

Gun control advocates often laugh at people who like to say they keep their guns around because it prevents authoritarians in the government from getting out of control.

As they laugh, we see how the police dominate their unarmed citizenry with brutal force and cruel tactics. We’ve watched as it happened in China, Venezuela, North Korea, and now Hong Kong and Chile.

In Chile, what started as a protest about rising metro faires has blossomed into a full-on riot thanks to rising costs of living, with police reacting with overt violence. One Twitter user from Chile going by “pinkitsvne,” has tweeted out images and videos showing just how bad it has gotten.

One thing she noted, in particular, was how the government was manhandling protesters and rioters thanks to Chile being a “disarmed country.”

“THIS IS CHILE RIGHT NOW,” she tweeted. “The government set the military on the streets just because people were demanding rights. Salaries aren’t enough. WE ARE A DISARMED COUNTRY. They fight us with guns and we have bare hands.
Media is censoring this, please RT. MAKE THE WORLD SEE.”

The Twitter user posted other images and videos, including a GIF of police destroying public property and blaming protesters for the act.

One image, in particular, stands out, however. An unarmed older man can be seen holding his hand up to a Chilean officer who is pointing a gun directly at him. Included is a video of police firing guns at unseen protesters.

“This image makes me so so sad honestly. It’s literally representing what’s happening, a gun pointed at us when we just want to be heard,” tweeted pinkitsvne.

It’s possible that these shotguns contain beanbag rounds; they have has not been confirmed as having been shells that are deadly. Regardless, you can see how the police abuse their authority by shooting teargas into the property of protesters and even using batons to beat a child.

Those laughing at American people who want to keep their Second Amendment rights alive and well are the laughable ones. We see a constant stream of examples of what happens when a government doesn’t have the threat of violence looming against them, with Chile just being the latest.

Gun rights advocates are watching and learning. They’re paying attention to historical patterns that show that an unarmed populace is a conquered one. It’s only a matter of time before it overtly shows.

When Democrats tell us we need to give up our guns and America refuses, what we see in Chile is what it’s refusing.

The post Must-See Tweets Displaying Chile’s Violent Response to Protesters Shows Us Why Gun Control Is a Bad Idea appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group ff260d6b-4131-4295-9611-d5489b7c6ddd@news.ap_.org_-300x199 Must-See Tweets Displaying Chile’s Violent Response to Protesters Shows Us Why Gun Control Is a Bad Idea second amendment police brutality Guns gun rights gun control Front Page Stories firearms democrats Chile America 2A   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Ryan Bourne: Beware the push by Hammond and others to make Britain an EU rule-taker

Ryan Bourne is Chair in Public Understanding of Economics at the Cato Institute.

Perhaps torture works. The collective waterboarding that is the impending Brexit deadline is forcing confessions, anyway.

Philip Hammond was in a government whose stated policy was a desire for new post-Brexit trade deals once it could exit the Northern Irish “backstop” of a single UK-EU customs territory. Now, with Boris Johnson tunneling for just that, the former Chancellor’s official position has shifted. Economic sense, he says, actually means Britain should stay in the Single Market for goods anyway, abide by “level playing field” commitments with the EU, and junk dreams of an independent free trade agenda. Buccaneering Britain, Hammond thinks, is an illusion.

Brexiteers who foresaw May’s backstop as an excuse by her to bounce us into Brussels’ permanent trade and regulatory orbit have seemingly been vindicated. But the danger has not passed. Alongside The UK in a Changing Europe’s new report, Hammond’s intervention pressures wavering Labour MPs and former Conservatives to reject Boris’s proposed “Canada Plus” destination as “too hard a Brexit” for Great Britain. At stake here is whether Britain ultimately repatriates meaningful economy policy, or becomes a rule-taker that’s only ever one small step away from EU re-entry.

Hammond couches his argument in economic terms. Everyone acknowledges trade-offs exist between policy freedom and EU trade frictions, with the latter more easily quantifiable, and the former dependent on active choices. But Hammond’s preferred modelling by the Treasury and others is based on assumptions. Results that suggest a free trade agreement Brexit must reduce GDP by 4 to 7 percent by 2030 relative to Remain, while new free trade agreements and regulatory freedoms could only possibly compensate by 0.2 to 0.5 percent of GDP, do not pass the smell test.

Pre-referendum, such results came from “gravity models,” built around observed relationships showing trade volumes rise in proportion to the size of economies and fall with distance between them. Treasury analysis back then had estimated EU membership raised trade volumes for members, on average, by 115 per cent beyond these factors, suggesting leaving full membership for an FTA would produce a large, long-term 6.2 pe rcent loss of GDP. Importantly, liberalising trade elsewhere could only weakly compensate, because of longer distances to new export markets.

Those results were challenged extensively. The model risked chalking up gains from general deregulations over recent decades (which wouldn’t be lost after exit) as EU membership benefits. Cambridge economists pointed out that the model itself overpredicted UK exports to the EU compared to real trade flows, suggesting a UK-specific trade uplift of a much smaller 20-25 per cent. Global evidence suggests services trade is much less influenced by distance anyway. Treasury results then looked biased towards big negative effects.

Since then, Hammond’s Treasury has changed model but not conclusions. Their November 2018 publication estimated a permanent net loss of 4.9 percent of GDP from a simple FTA Brexit, rising to 6.7 percent if net EU migration ceases. This is much higher than the more static estimates of trade expert and Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, who estimates first-order net costs of about two per cent of GDP (before any compensatory trade liberalisation). When you hear much larger results, the findings are usually based on “black box” assumptions about large effects of trade on productivity (analysis where economists agree on the direction but disagree on magnitudes).

Four large assumptions that we can assess drove the Treasury’s results:

  1. That significant “non-tariff barriers” to UK-EU trade will arise if we leave the customs union and single market for an FTA
  2. That repatriated regulatory powers bring practically zero upside
  3. That customs procedures at the border will prove significantly costly
  4. That an independent UK free trade agenda would produce little upside.

Do these stack up? At the point of exit, UK exporters will be fully compliant with EU product standards after decades of integration. Assuming then that we’d face the same non-tariff barriers (NTBs) as existing FTA partners looks like a significant overestimate of initial new frictions. Yes, there would be economic costs associated with rules of origin requirements (though the WTO thinks these are small), and a loss of some mutual standards recognition outside the EU legal system. But bigger NTBs arise if regulations deviate. One would hope that sensible governments, Jeremy Corbyn notwithstanding, would only pursue regulatory change if it perceived net economic benefits anyway.

Indeed, it’s baffling to presume both that there will be no upside to repatriating regulation (the Treasury assumes a GDP gain of just 0.1 per cent) but that standards will significantly deviate. Current political moods might be non-conducive to widespread deregulation, but Open Europe once estimated politically feasible changes worth 0.7 per cent of GDP; let alone the potential benefits long-term of avoiding further EU labour market harmonisation, financial sector regulation, and shirking the EU’s precautionary principle in agriculture, health innovation, AI, and robotics.

Customs costs at the border look exaggerated too. Swiss estimates suggest these could be as small as 0.1 per cent. The UK’s would be higher outside the single market, of course, but Paul Krugman thinks the UK would adopt new systems relatively quickly, unilaterally lowering standards if necessary. Previous meta-analysis has found that extensive FTAs have a bigger trade boosting impact than customs unions, suggesting customs costs aren’t really prohibitive to trade flows. NAFTA, for example, is not a customs union.

But it’s really on external trade where the analysis was most slanted. Not only did Hammond’s government say the UK would not unilaterally liberalise tariffs or meaningfully reduce EU non-tariff barriers on the rest of the world; it suggested signing free trade agreements with the US, Australia, New Zealand and TPP countries would only raise GDP by 0.1 to 0.2 per cent. Closer inspection shows why: it assumes only half of the non-tariff barriers on goods and a third on services are “actionable” through these deals, and then only a quarter of these get eliminated in new FTAs. Overall then, given the countries examined for FTAs, the model assumes that the upper-limit for NTB liberalisation is eliminating 6.25 per cent of the very high level of NTBs we are assumed to want to keep.

If anything has become clear recently, it’s that Conservatives have an appetite for a far more expansive free trade agenda. Economists agree free trade boosts growth. Australia’s government estimated it has increased GDP by over five per cent over 20 years through manufactured goods trade liberalisation alone; the government’s own analysis suggests a UK FTA with the EU would life GDP by three per cent relative to WTO terms. So the conclusion that free trade policies don’t matter, especially in regards an FTA with the US, is baffling, even accounting for trade distance. Of course, the gains from a UK-US deal are bigger still when it and the EU look set for a trade war. And the UK is arguably much more likely than the EU to pursue service sector-heavy FTAs as the world becomes richer, to our own benefit.

Now I’m not arguing here that there’s no risk and uncertainty to “breaking free.” It’s difficult to ascertain precise GDP effects from trade negotiations that haven’t happened, regulations that haven’t yet been avoided, and new customs procedures that haven’t been tested. But it’s important to remember Hammond’s favoured analysis largely assumes no upsides to Brexit by construction and calculates downsides based on evidence for policies that the UK shouldn’t want to pursue, or relationships elsewhere that we wouldn’t replicate.

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Nick Hargrave: Why Special Advisers should neither be seen nor heard

Nick Hargrave is a former Downing Street special adviser, where he worked under both David Cameron and Theresa May. He now works at Portland, the communications consultancy.

It is often remarked by commentators that the United Kingdom is following the lead of the United States towards a culture war on values. As I have written previously, I think this is overblown.  However, one trend that we are certainly aping in this country is that of the public-facing political aide; where senior advisers to politicians comment on behalf of their boss in the media and play a role in shaping on-the-record debate. A variation of this theme is the ‘briefing out’ of what an adviser is reputed to believe or have said – which has developed over several years and predates the current Prime Minister.

There are superficial attractions to this approach. As a former special adviser in Downing Street, I remember the occasional frustration of watching elected politicians carry a message badly. There is the fact that many stories on process are unworthy for politicians to comment on – the public tune out and it detracts from a retail message – but yet a vacuum from central government is unhelpful too. And there is a convincing argument that a pantomime villain special adviser can act as a lightning rod for opprobrium that would otherwise be directed at the principal.

In the long-term though, I believe this development will do more harm than good. I will refrain from comments about personality and focus instead on structural points.

First, unlike the United States, we do not have a clean-cut separation of powers between the executive and the legislative. The Prime Minister is by convention first among equals in the largest parliamentary party. On most areas of policy, he or she cannot rule alone by executive order and decree. He relies on elected colleagues to support his agenda and give it legislative weight. Recent attempts to circumvent this process have been blocked by the Supreme Court.

Number 10’s influence is best exercised as a convening power behind the scenes rather than from the pulpit on the airwaves. This is especially true in the current dynamic of a deadlocked parliament on an unprecedented constitutional issue. Political advisers who rise above the parapet with attributable views of their own about the governing process risk accentuating the gap between the Prime Minister and the MPs he needs to persuade. Unless the Prime Minister is returned with an overwhelming majority after the next general election, this tension could well continue as the terms of our future relationship with the EU are negotiated.

Second, beyond the immediate Brexit debate and looking over a greater number of years, I fear this trend will end up lessening the quality of elected representatives further. Senior special advisers are already paid more than a backbench MP and can have a great deal of influence on policy behind the scenes. If you remove another division between the job of politician and political adviser – the licence to communicate your views and engage with the electorate in the public sphere – then it is understandable why those with the greatest talent will opt for the latter. This would not be a positive development in the long-run for a parliamentary democracy.

Third, I suspect there will also be implications for the quality and impartiality of the civil service. The relationship between special advisers and civil servants has always been a complicated one, premised around a long-standing competition for primacy. If special advisers become active and recognisable participants in political debate themselves then that question becomes increasingly settled in favour of the special adviser.

You can make a legitimate argument that there are plenty of deadwood civil servants knocking around Whitehall, and that political staffers have been equally poor at setting strategic direction in recent years. But we should look to avoid a situation where talented civil servants feel unable to give impartial advice directly to a minister without clearing it through a special adviser first. Recent examples from history suggests that this does not lead to good results.

Fourth, I am not sure that a public role for advisers is healthy for the balance between policy and process in media coverage. It is a truism much invoked over the years that the Westminster lobby are obsessed by process and that it is difficult to get them to cover the issues advanced by the political parties. The public presence of those involved in said process only encourages such behaviour.

Consider for example – according to the Factiva database – that the Prime Minister’s senior adviser’s name has featured over 2,500 times over the last three months in articles in UK national titles. The phrase “knife crime” meanwhile has featured about 1,000 times; “HS2” about 800 times. There are limitations to this crude quantitative exercise but the point is hopefully clear.

Fifth, Her Majesty’s Government runs the risk of creating confused signals to external players whether they be markets, investors or overseas governments. If the Prime Minister states his view on a subject is ‘X’ and then a political adviser with close proximity uses different emphasis around the point – then you are going to get a confusing picture. Observers will probe more deeply into the uneasy question of who the primary decision maker is and who speaks with greater authority. This has not been a purely hypothetical matter in recent weeks and there are implications for the United Kingdom’s reputation for predictability and certainty.

The old saying goes that all political careers end in failure eventually. So it is perhaps unsurprising that special advisers who develop a public profile have tended to follow a similar course. That is a matter for the individuals concerned. However, the longer-term consequences for parliamentary democracy are a matter for all of us. Robert Massie once observed that there would have been no Lenin without Rasputin. Given that our political heritage is a lot more enviable than that of Tsarist Russia, we should try to avoid repeating history’s mistakes.

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Neil O’Brien: How to rebalance Britain’s unbalanced economy – by levelling up, not levelling down

Neil O’Brien is MP for Harborough.

Even Brexit, it turns out, is about location, location, location. Ben Ansell, an Oxford professor, has found that in wealthier areas, where the price of a house averages £500,000, 70 per cent voted to remain. Poorer areas, where the average house price was £100,000, were an exact mirror image, with 70 per cent voting to leave.

Like a disclosing tablet, the EU referendum highlighted the different economic experiences of different places over recent decades: booming London and the most prosperous home counties voted to Remain, as did Scotland, the next richest part of the country. The reviving cores of our large cities did likewise. But smaller towns and cities, the countryside and coastal places voted overwhelmingly to Leave, as did Wales.

In response, Boris Johnson recently set out his ambition to “level up” poorer areas in a fantastic speech in Manchester. It’s the right thing to do – and it makes political sense too. The 2017 election saw us losing ground in wealthier-but-Remainy areas, and gaining former Labour seats in the midlands (and north) which we’d never gained before. We have huge potential to win in seats where people have felt taken for granted and left behind for many decades.

The economic case for levelling up is clear too. There are no G20 countries which have a more regionally imbalanced economy than the UK and are also richer than the UK. Conversely, all large countries that are richer per head than the UK have a more balanced economy.

In other words, a more balanced economy is a stronger one. In a highly unbalanced economy, resources like land and infrastructure end up overloaded in some parts of the country, and under-used in others, which is costly and wasteful. Given that workers (particularly lower skilled people) don’t simply move away from their families in the face of local economic problems, having greater distances between unemployed workers and job opportunities may well compound problems matching people to job opportunities. There might even be compounding mechanisms: if some areas have high unemployment that can lock in patterns of worklessness.

But to bring about a more balanced economy, there are two big lessons that the Prime Minister must draw from previous successes and failures.

First, the crucial thing is to attract private sector employment – particularly jobs that are knowledge and investment-intensive. The work of academics like Enrico Moretti and think tanks like the Centre for Cities shows how gaining “brain jobs” in the private sector has a much bigger multiplier effect than just moving public sector jobs to an area.

Tax breaks for inward investment can be very effective in attracting in new investment, which is why most other countries offer them. Within the UK, probably our most successful ever regional intervention was Margaret Thatcher luring Nissan to Sunderland with a mix of investment tax breaks, lobbying and the offer of cheap land (an old airfield). It’s now one of the most successful plants in the world.

When people think about regeneration, they often start with plans for a new tram or shiny cultural facility, which tend to be popular, and can indeed help growth in areas that are already motoring along. But such investments aren’t going to do much for areas where the economic engine has rusted up and needs restarting. Detroit famously built a fancy monorail intended to fight its economic decline: but in a city where every factory was gone it remained largely unused, drifting through a city that looked like it had been bombed flat. Without private sector investment, there’s no demand for it or anything much else.

Second, different things work in different places and a different set of policies are needed for our towns than our city centres. During the 1970s and 1980s the “inner cities” were a byword for decline. But in recent decades capital cities and the centres of other larger cities have outperformed other areas, right across the world. The shift from a manufacturing to a professional services economy (plus the growth of universities) revived the centres of our cities.

There are still many problems to solve in our cities, but the places that have struggled the most in recent decades have been rural areas, smaller towns and cities, and the outer parts of large cities (even outer London). Places on the coast and places without a university have suffered particularly badly from a brain drain. Labour have tried to capitalise on their discontent with glossy ads like their film “our town”.

What to do for towns is even trickier than helping big cities grow. Though there are trendy small towns from Hebden Bridge to Hay-on-Wye, simply copying ideas from big cities, like “culture-led regeneration”, is often a recipe for failure in small towns.

Improving connections between city centres and towns might help – Tom Forth has highlighted just how bad we are at this in Britain. The Prime Minister’s new fund to help regenerate town centres is a good move and will make them more attractive. We should do things like re-examine funding historic funding formulas for government spending on science, transport and housing, which are still heavily geared towards supporting London and other areas that are already growing fast. And we should offer devolved economic powers to counties, not just big cities.
The more we can use free market mechanisms to help poorer towns, the more likely we are to succeed.

Looking at Britain as a whole, chronically low investment rates are a big part of our long-term productivity problem. We should cut taxes on business investment across the whole country, and make the UK’s capital allowances among the most generous in the world (at present they’re among the least).

But to level up poorer areas we should go further, and have even more generous tax breaks for investment there, where the problem of low investment and low productivity is most severe. We should also empower the Department for International Trade to take part in the same aggressive tax competition for inward investment that countries in Asia, the US, and our neighbours in Ireland do so successfully. And we should use those tools to encourage inward investment into poorer places.

More generous capital allowances would help lagging regions anyway, even if introduced across the board. While manufacturing accounted for around a quarter of productivity growth nationally since 1997, it provided 40–50 per cent of productivity growth in poorer regions like Wales, the West Midlands and North West. Manufacturing requires roughly twice as much capital investment as the rest of the economy, so an investment-hostile tax system hits poorer places harder.

Ever since the referendum, there’s rightly been renewed focus on how to help poorer places. Helpfully there is decades of evidence about what does and doesn’t work. If we can join up an energetic new Prime Minister with the bit between his teeth, plus a new agenda for left-behind places, then we can really get things moving.

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War and peace – with Iran, Trump-style

For Donald Trump, politics is personal.  Hence his G7 invitation to Vladimir Putin; his meeting with Kim Jong Un; even his take on Boris Johnson, which was as follows: “They’re saying Britain Trump. They call him Britain Trump. People are saying that’s a good thing. They like me over there, that’s what they wanted. That’s what they need.”

Which is not to say that he has no consistent policies at all.  He does: or rather, perhaps, he has attitudes, prejudices, reflexes.  One of these is to keep the United States out of wars abroad, or at least conflicts in which ground troops are committed: America First has succeeded neo-conservatism.

This isn’t to say that Trump won’t take military action abroad – he will.  But it tends to be undertaken either through proxies, as against ISIS, or via ordnance: consider his deployment of a Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb in Afghanistan two years ago.  Theodore Roosevelt summed up his foreign policy as: “Speak softly but carry a big stick”.  Trump’s is: “Do diplomacy via Twitter, and carry the mother of all bombs”.

Iran is being hit hard by sanctions, and will be watching Trump closely.  On the one hand, it has seen him tear up Barack Obama’s nuclear deal and turn the sanctions screw.  On the other, it will have watched him declare that he has “good feelings” about a possible successor deal of his own, and there has been talk of a Jong-On type summit with Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s President.  After all, Trump sees himself as master of the Art of the Deal.

Furthermore, he has recently sacked John Bolton, a veteran of the neo-con years, who the President brought back as his National Security Adviser.  Trump came to distrust Bolton’s martial approach to Iran (and elsewhere).  In June, he backed off an airstrike against Iran as “not proportionate”, having been told that it would leave 150 dead, after declaring that America was “cocked and loaded for action”.

Iran’s asymetric drone attack against oil facilities in Saudi Arabia should be viewed against the context of this background.  Power in the country is peculiarly distributed: it is very for outsiders to work out exactly how much power is held by Rouhani; by Ali Khamenei, the country’s Supreme Leader; by the Majlis, military, clergy or the Revolutionary Guard at any one time.

The consensus at present is that the last is in the driving seat.  The attack may have been intended to help head off an American-Iranian rapprochment, complete with Trump-Rouhani summit; or it may actually have been crafted to help achieve the opposite, by reminding America of the consequences of war in the Gulf – including a destabilising rise in the oil price.  Or the truth may lie in between; there is no way of knowing.

All we can be sure of is that those sanctions are indeed hurting, that America has been turning the screw, and that Iran is striking out – whether through detaining western citizens or seizing British ships.  Trump is stepping back and letting the Saudis decide the scale of response to this latest Iranian ploy, or so it seems.

The President will be damned for whatever he does.  If America intervenes directly, he will be denounced as a warmonger; if he makes diplomatic overtures to Tehran, he will be condemned as an appeaser.  If he pursues his present course, he will be damned as a hands-off President who is prepared to let the region burn.

You may be alarmed by Trump conducting foreign policy by Twitter, deplore the frequency of his Apprentice-style firings, and worry about the intertwining of personal and political.  But there has been a queer core of prudence, even restraint, in the President’s foreign policy to date.  When it comes to his next steps on Iran, almost anything could happen.

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Richard Short: Willink would have approved

Richard Short is the Deputy Director of Conservative Workers and Trade Unionists, and was Parliamentary Candidate for Warrington North in 2015.

Labour are very fond of reminding anyone who wants to hear that they created the NHS in 1947. Conservatives are just as fond of bursting that bubble when they point out that the very idea for the National Health Service was that of the Conservative Health Minister Sir Henry Willink in 1944.

This is all good political fun, but there are important and serious differences between Bevan’s and Willink’s NHS, and these differences, debated in the 1940s, are being rerun in the post Brexit debate on a US/UK trade deal. Nye Bevan would have been outraged at any thought of foreign interference in his version of the NHS, but to Sir Henry, the debate on US businesses being able to access the NHS would have been welcomed with open arms.

To understand why, rewind to Labour’s 1945 General Election manifesto. This was an openly stated socialist agenda. The party’s view was that mass nationalisation of our industrial infrastructure was exactly what the country needed in post-war reconstruction, and the country agreed, delivering a shock landslide victory to Clement Attlee.

With Labour firmly in the driving seat, the NHS, that all parties were now talking about, was going to be Bevan’s version. It was to be full nationalisation of health care. Hospitals were then owned and run by charities, local authorities and other not-for-profit voluntary organisations, and provided, by the standards of the day, excellent health care. There was little debate on the quality of care, just on access to it regardless of means. On this all parties were united.

The Conservatives, led by Sir Henry Willink, were absolutely against the NHS owning hospitals fearing it would break the personal bond between the individual and their health care. To create a huge single property-owning and managing entity would not be in the best interest of the patient, and so it has come to pass culminating in scandals like Mid Staffs, where impersonal treatment was a watchword for the worst run NHS hospitals.

Despite reforms to create NHS Trusts, Foundation Trusts and CCGs, (Clinical Commissioning Groups), the state remains a provider of health care while WIllink’s vision was of the Government being an enabler of health care free at the point of use regardless of provider.

Conservatives did indeed vote against Nye Bevan’s proposal to take ownership of hospitals, but remained committed to the NHS provided through the existing network of hospitals without transferring ownership to the state. Ironically the fiercest opponent to any principle of a National Health Service was the BMA which organised protests and non-co-operation even after the NHS was formed.

If he had been alive today, Sir Henry Willink would have been an enthusiastic supporter of a comprehensive US/UK trade deal where the skill and expertise of American health professionals could be brought in to improve our NHS. American access to the NHS is not new with billion-pound contracts for peripheral services handed to American giants Accenture and CSC as long ago as 2003.

In recent years, clinical services have been awarded to providers, but the market needs to be opened fully to get the full benefit of competitive tendering. Allowing US business to compete in this way will potentially allow access for better outcomes for patients, and, more broadly, make the way clear for a full and comprehensive trade deal.

In a post-Brexit US/UK trade deal, the NHS should have an increasingly enabling role rather than a provider. In this role it has a very important part to play in this vision.

Just as a company franchising its brand will defend its reputation to the death, so the NHS must be the defender of clinical excellence and hold providers feet to the flames to maintain them. It would deliver for the first time a fully Conservative vision for the NHS fought for and lost during its birth in the 1940’s. And, above all, it’s what Sir Henry Willink would have wanted.

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Ben Roback: A lesson from Bolton’s departure. With this President, it’s personality, not policy, that counts – his own.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-09-11-at-11.15.35 Ben Roback: A lesson from Bolton’s departure. With this President, it’s personality, not policy, that counts – his own. Tracking Trump North Korea john bolton Iran International Dr Richard Haass donald trump America Afghanistan

As the yellow Sky News ticker flashed up yesterday announcing John Bolton’s departure from the White House, a colleague said something that seemed remarkable: “Donald Trump hasn’t made news in ages”.

t wasn’t a reflection of a period of relative calm in the United States – far from it – but more of a recognition that our own parliamentary shenanigans have overtaken the political theatre usually dominated by Trump. Not that we’re keeping scores, but at least the political chicanery in Westminster has been driven by politics and technical process. In Washington, President Trump caused controversy when he changed the forecast of a hurricane’s impact with a black sharpie (see above)

Bolton’s firing should not have come as a surprise. Trump was reportedly furious with him after he disapproved of the White House’s plans to host the Taliban for peace talks at Camp David. So Trump took to Twitter – naturally – to announce that he “disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration”.

It has not even been 24 hours since the Bolton departure was announced, but already plenty of ink has been spilled analysing ‘what this means for X’. In truth, it is difficult to assess the implications of Bolton’s departure on US foreign policy. The Times of Israel’s analysis of what the departure means for the country, whilst excellent, begins by saying: ‘while a major change in US policy doesn’t appear to be in the offing’ – reflecting the fact that a change in personnel in this White House does not always result in a significant swing in policy.

Instead, Bolton’s leaving is yet another chapter in the never-ending book of who’s up and who’s down in Trump’s inner circle. It further proves that, when faced with honest disagreement, the President relies on his own self-belief and opinions at the expense of any notion of loyalty or challenge.

From a policy perspective, Bolton was a hawkish foreign policy adviser whose appointment came as a surprise, given his divergence with Trump on the role of the USA on the global stage. It was never clear how Bolton’s gung-ho interventionist approach would play during this ‘America First’ presidency. Bolton pursued a deeply hard-line agenda on Venezuela, North Korea and – most notably – Iran.

In the past he had called for the bombing of the country, hence Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s President, responding to the news by saying the US should put “warmongers aside”. But having pulled out of the Iran deal last year and significantly ratcheted up pressure on Iran with Bolton by his side, there is no suggestion Trump will now preside over a cooling of tensions in the region, even without the advice of Bolton.

Instead, we are more likely to see the president double down on his deeply personal approach to foreign policy. Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations and a former adviser to Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell, described how “the president has unlimited and totally misplaced confidence in summitry and in the power of his personality”.

On high stakes relations with the likes of North Korea, Iran, China and Afghanistan, there will be one less dissenting voice urging the President to put his faith in his negotiating teams as opposed to his own personal relationships with presidents, prime ministers and dictators.

Foreign and defence policy have been the areas with the most churn when it comes to personnel during Trump’s tenure. There is no sign of this stopping any time soon. Trump will announce a new National Security Adviser in the next week, becoming the first president to have four such advisers in his first term. With the presidential election not taking place until November 2020, your columnist bets he will become the first president to have a fifth and sixth too.

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Ryan Bourne: In America, public spending conservatism is being lost. It could happen in Britain.

Ryan Bourne is Chair in Public Understanding of Economics at the Cato Institute.

Austerity is over. Theresa May told us so after the 2017 election, and again at the Conservative Party Conference last year. Philip Hammond tried restraining her from a blitz of high-profile spending announcements. Yet Team Johnson has now picked up the baton anyway. Today’s spending review from Sajid Javid will reportedly confirm significant money injections for schools, hospitals and the police. The Prime Minister said Monday it will be “the most ambitious spending round for more than a decade.”

Restraining government spending was always said to be a temporary deficit repair tool, of course. Those “tough choices,” added to net tax hikes, have helped bring down the budget deficit to just 1.3 per cent of GDP, from a gargantuan 9.9 per cent in 2010. Once near-balance, a spending squeeze was never envisaged to continue year after year. Despite Nick Timothy’s fear of libertarians under the bed, no recent Conservative leader has been ideologically committed to shrink the size and scope of government. Absent “thinking the unthinkable,” one eventually must release the spending grip given voter demands for high-quality services.

And yet…the zeal with which the Tories have turned heel on their spending narrative is surprising. Whatever one’s view on the efficacy or composition of “cuts”, they were central to the party’s offer through 2016, including the 2015 election win. Balancing the books was said to be about unburdening the next generation from dumping more debt on top of the iceberg associated with an ageing population. Any intergenerational justice message has now gone the way of the Titanic.

For the Government is not promising gradual targeted spending increases in these areas – a natural uplift from a reset baseline after years of restraint. No, proposed hikes in education funding would virtually reverse any real schools’ spending cuts over the past decade. May’s extra money for the NHS is a big step-change too. The spending review is celebrated as the “biggest, most generous spending review since the height of Tony Blair’s New Labour,” no less – a far cry from denouncing that era’s profligacy. In one swoop, the Treasury has undercut its long-held opposition to raising borrowing and junked the idea that public service reform trumps showering public services with money.

Javid attempts to thread the needle by arguing that more spending is still consistent with keeping the debt-to-GDP ratio on a shallow downward path. That maybe true. But a stated goal of policy was always to balance the books overall, even if George Osborne and David Cameron continually pushed back the deadline. A former Treasury fiscal policy director now says that borrowing will in fact start rising again, and soon be above two per cent of GDP. Manageable, yes – but a clear change in direction.

The public discourse effects of this reversal should worry fiscal conservatives. Cameron and Osborne’s consistent messaging helped entrench two crucial contours in discussions about government spending. First, that there was no free lunch (every Labour proposal for years was met with the question “how will you pay for it?”) Second, that what you did with the money (the organisation of public services) was as important as spending levels. After years of Tony Blair’s money throwing, the public were receptive to such apparently grown-up thinking. Now, both those claims-cum-restraints that ensnared Labour have been removed.

If large, real increases in education funding are synonymous with better schools, as Tories imply, Labour can coherently ask “why did you cut real funding beforehand?” Such corrective spending hikes look an admission of a past mistake. Doubly so if funded through borrowing that was previously considered intolerable.

Couching this as “an end to austerity” brings similar peril. These particular decisions don’t imply “we are going to return to affordable spending increases consistent with a low deficit.” If large spending hikes for education are seen as reversing austerity, then obvious questions arise: what about local authority funding? Prisons? Criminal justice? Have these not suffered more from the pain you admit was damaging?

Of course, Brexit is the important context here. It is sucking oxygen from normal economic debates – one reason why the logjam needs to be broken. A slowing economy, induced in part by uncertainty, means an obsessive near-term public finance focus is probably unwise. The very process of extrication requires budget flexibility, not least because the underlying public finances could look very different when future trade relations crystallise.

But all this would be a case for relaxing or suspending fiscal targets through the choppy Brexit seas, not bold new announcements.

No, it’s difficult not to conclude there’s not something bigger happening here. Much of the party has embraced a simplistic “left behind” narrative of the Brexit vote – that it was a cry for investment in public services. They are egged on by former government advisors, armed with polling, who see an opportunity to steer the party towards a “bigger government” vision for the party they’ve always spoiled for.

Academic evidence in fact shows new Brexit voters affiliating with the Tories quickly adopt traditional Tory views on other issues. There’s no need to pander. Yet when you see John Redwood railing against austerity, you realise how strong this view about the changing party voter base has set.

Whether Johnson shares that interpretation is less clear. Perhaps he sees funding boosts now in three major non-Brexit policy areas as short-term deck clearing before an election. Polling strength from these “good news stories” might even firm up pressure on the EU and rebel MPs on his central task. If it helps finally deliver Brexit, many of us will accept fiscal jam tomorrow.

I want to believe this, but the noises aren’t encouraging. And living in the US, where Republicans have gone from a Tea Party anti-spending force to delivering unprecedented deficits for peacetime, in just a decade, I’ve observed just how easily spending conservatism is lost.

Here, it started with big spending increases on priorities too. Republicans cut taxes, yes, but huge cash increases for defence were delivered, greased by money for some Democrat priorities. Once that dam opened though, the money poured. July’s budget deal threw off the last vestiges of spending caps delivered by the Tea Party Congress. Promises of Republican spending restraint in Donald Trump’s potential second term ring as hollow as claims he’s using tariffs as a path to freer trade.

Here’s the worrying consequence. As US conservatives have learned to love deficits, or at least use them, the left’s spending demands have only gotten more extreme. With constraints stripped away, Democratic Presidential candidates feel liberated to propose mammoth programmes and spending hikes – the Green New Deal, a jobs guarantee, universal childcare and more. When asked how the country can afford this, they point out to the red ink spilled for Republican priorities. There is no answer.

UK Conservatives are far from the Republican point of no return on spending, as yet. But the mood music has changed dramatically. America shows that when conservatives abandon spending constraint, they legitimise the left’s spending wild demands, to taxpayers’ detriment.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Ryan Bourne: In America, public spending conservatism is being lost. It could happen in Britain.

Ryan Bourne is Chair in Public Understanding of Economics at the Cato Institute.

Austerity is over. Theresa May told us so after the 2017 election, and again at the Conservative Party Conference last year. Philip Hammond tried restraining her from a blitz of high-profile spending announcements. Yet Team Johnson has now picked up the baton anyway. Today’s spending review from Sajid Javid will reportedly confirm significant money injections for schools, hospitals and the police. The Prime Minister said Monday it will be “the most ambitious spending round for more than a decade.”

Restraining government spending was always said to be a temporary deficit repair tool, of course. Those “tough choices,” added to net tax hikes, have helped bring down the budget deficit to just 1.3 per cent of GDP, from a gargantuan 9.9 per cent in 2010. Once near-balance, a spending squeeze was never envisaged to continue year after year. Despite Nick Timothy’s fear of libertarians under the bed, no recent Conservative leader has been ideologically committed to shrink the size and scope of government. Absent “thinking the unthinkable,” one eventually must release the spending grip given voter demands for high-quality services.

And yet…the zeal with which the Tories have turned heel on their spending narrative is surprising. Whatever one’s view on the efficacy or composition of “cuts”, they were central to the party’s offer through 2016, including the 2015 election win. Balancing the books was said to be about unburdening the next generation from dumping more debt on top of the iceberg associated with an ageing population. Any intergenerational justice message has now gone the way of the Titanic.

For the Government is not promising gradual targeted spending increases in these areas – a natural uplift from a reset baseline after years of restraint. No, proposed hikes in education funding would virtually reverse any real schools’ spending cuts over the past decade. May’s extra money for the NHS is a big step-change too. The spending review is celebrated as the “biggest, most generous spending review since the height of Tony Blair’s New Labour,” no less – a far cry from denouncing that era’s profligacy. In one swoop, the Treasury has undercut its long-held opposition to raising borrowing and junked the idea that public service reform trumps showering public services with money.

Javid attempts to thread the needle by arguing that more spending is still consistent with keeping the debt-to-GDP ratio on a shallow downward path. That maybe true. But a stated goal of policy was always to balance the books overall, even if George Osborne and David Cameron continually pushed back the deadline. A former Treasury fiscal policy director now says that borrowing will in fact start rising again, and soon be above two per cent of GDP. Manageable, yes – but a clear change in direction.

The public discourse effects of this reversal should worry fiscal conservatives. Cameron and Osborne’s consistent messaging helped entrench two crucial contours in discussions about government spending. First, that there was no free lunch (every Labour proposal for years was met with the question “how will you pay for it?”) Second, that what you did with the money (the organisation of public services) was as important as spending levels. After years of Tony Blair’s money throwing, the public were receptive to such apparently grown-up thinking. Now, both those claims-cum-restraints that ensnared Labour have been removed.

If large, real increases in education funding are synonymous with better schools, as Tories imply, Labour can coherently ask “why did you cut real funding beforehand?” Such corrective spending hikes look an admission of a past mistake. Doubly so if funded through borrowing that was previously considered intolerable.

Couching this as “an end to austerity” brings similar peril. These particular decisions don’t imply “we are going to return to affordable spending increases consistent with a low deficit.” If large spending hikes for education are seen as reversing austerity, then obvious questions arise: what about local authority funding? Prisons? Criminal justice? Have these not suffered more from the pain you admit was damaging?

Of course, Brexit is the important context here. It is sucking oxygen from normal economic debates – one reason why the logjam needs to be broken. A slowing economy, induced in part by uncertainty, means an obsessive near-term public finance focus is probably unwise. The very process of extrication requires budget flexibility, not least because the underlying public finances could look very different when future trade relations crystallise.

But all this would be a case for relaxing or suspending fiscal targets through the choppy Brexit seas, not bold new announcements.

No, it’s difficult not to conclude there’s not something bigger happening here. Much of the party has embraced a simplistic “left behind” narrative of the Brexit vote – that it was a cry for investment in public services. They are egged on by former government advisors, armed with polling, who see an opportunity to steer the party towards a “bigger government” vision for the party they’ve always spoiled for.

Academic evidence in fact shows new Brexit voters affiliating with the Tories quickly adopt traditional Tory views on other issues. There’s no need to pander. Yet when you see John Redwood railing against austerity, you realise how strong this view about the changing party voter base has set.

Whether Johnson shares that interpretation is less clear. Perhaps he sees funding boosts now in three major non-Brexit policy areas as short-term deck clearing before an election. Polling strength from these “good news stories” might even firm up pressure on the EU and rebel MPs on his central task. If it helps finally deliver Brexit, many of us will accept fiscal jam tomorrow.

I want to believe this, but the noises aren’t encouraging. And living in the US, where Republicans have gone from a Tea Party anti-spending force to delivering unprecedented deficits for peacetime, in just a decade, I’ve observed just how easily spending conservatism is lost.

Here, it started with big spending increases on priorities too. Republicans cut taxes, yes, but huge cash increases for defence were delivered, greased by money for some Democrat priorities. Once that dam opened though, the money poured. July’s budget deal threw off the last vestiges of spending caps delivered by the Tea Party Congress. Promises of Republican spending restraint in Donald Trump’s potential second term ring as hollow as claims he’s using tariffs as a path to freer trade.

Here’s the worrying consequence. As US conservatives have learned to love deficits, or at least use them, the left’s spending demands have only gotten more extreme. With constraints stripped away, Democratic Presidential candidates feel liberated to propose mammoth programmes and spending hikes – the Green New Deal, a jobs guarantee, universal childcare and more. When asked how the country can afford this, they point out to the red ink spilled for Republican priorities. There is no answer.

UK Conservatives are far from the Republican point of no return on spending, as yet. But the mood music has changed dramatically. America shows that when conservatives abandon spending constraint, they legitimise the left’s spending wild demands, to taxpayers’ detriment.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Brexit, Johnson, Merkel, Macron – and 30 days in the wilderness

“We were also over-reliant on Angela Merkel, even after she showed us that she wasn’t as dependable a supporter as we might have wished,” wrote Daniel Korski, in his account of how David Cameron lost the EU referendum.  “She certainly seemed to take much more of a back seat during the final, crucial weeks of negotiations, giving advice, offering support and laying out red lines, but not getting too involved.”

An entire library could be assembled of stories claiming that Merkel would, at one time or another, come to the aid of a British Government during its to-and-fros with the European Union.  The claim is that Germany – as another pro-free trade, pro-American, pro-market economy country – is a natural UK ally.  But when push comes to shove, Merkel has stuck with France and the EU Commission.

Korski reminds his readers that she deserted Cameron over the appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker as the Commission’s President, to which she was originally opposed.   As with Cameron, so with Theresa May: as recently as February, the German Chancellor called for “creative” thinking on…yes, the Northern Ireland backstop.  “We can still use the time to perhaps reach an agreement if everyone shows good will,” she said.

And as with May so, now, with Boris Johnson.  Once again, Merkel has said that there is time to agree a deal – 30 days, to be precise.  “The backstop has always been a fall-back option until this issue is solved,” she said on Wednesday, during a join press conference with the Prime Minister.  “It was said we will probably find a solution in two years. But we could also find one in the next 30 days, why not?”

Some have put that remark alongside Emmanuel Macron’s declaration that “the framework that has been negotiated by Michel Barnier that can be adapted,” and concluded that the EU is preparing to blink at the last moment, climb down on the backstop, and present Johnson with an amended Withdrawal Agreement – which will then at last pass through Parliament, thus bringing this chapter of the Brexit story to a close.

According to one version of events, the Prime Minister himself believes that such an outcome is still possible, while others in his top team don’t.  If so, the balance of the argument strongly suggests that they are right, for four main reasons.  First, the EU collectively takes its ideology seriously, and this demands sticking with the Withdrawal Agreement, or an agreement so like it as to make no difference.

Second, it must show Donald Trump, and the rest of the world, that if it takes a position on a major strategic issue, such as Brexit, it will hold to it.  Third, Germany and France must ultimately be sensitive to the concerns of smaller EU countries, of which one is in the Brexit front line: Ireland.  Fourth, they have reason to wait, along with the rest of the EU, to see if the Commons, when it returns in September, blocks Brexit yet again.

Finally, it is worth remembering that Merkel’s position is not as dominant as it was during the Cameron years; and even then, to quote Korski once again, she was prone to “not getting too involved”.  Seen in this light, Merkel and Macron’s words – which in any event must be considered in the context of everything else they said – look more like more gambits in a blame game than a genuine change of heart.

Johnson wants to signal that he’s up for a deal: that was the point of his visits before this weekend’s G7 summit in Biarritz.  Macron and Merkel do, too: hence their hints of flexibility.  But the sum of the evidence is that “nothing has changed”.  In any event, it is far from certain that even a revised Withdrawal Agreement would get through Parliament.  That would require a Bill, which would of course be amendable, and time is very short.

If the EU had prized mutual gain over protecting its project, it wouldn’t have insisted that the Withdrawal Agreement precede trade talks.  Perhaps there will be a last minute shift after all, if Johnson can demonstrate that Parliament cannot stop the No Deal Brexit that his Government is actively preparing for: the European Council will meet on October 17.  But it appears that all concerned are now bracing for No Deal.

Some in Number Ten are hopeful that, if it happens, the EU will go for mass mini-deals – and so oil the wheels of economic co-operation.  That would be a rational response to the threat of recession in Germany and elsewhere, and the hard border in Ireland that a No Deal Brexit would bring.  But the EU’s clinging to the backstop, despite its commitment to seek alternative arrangements by December next year, suggests that rationality is in short supply.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com