Monthly Archives: November 2013

Civitas meeting: Transforming the market: Towards a new political economy

Civitas meeting: Transforming the market: Towards a new political economy 13 November 2013

Speaker: Dr Patrick Diamond

Diamond’s talk was based on his recently published Civitas tract http://civitas.org.uk/press/EAdiamond.html

Diamond is firmly in the NuLabour camp, having been involved in various positions servicing the last Labour government,  including that of  head of Policy Planning in 10 Downing Street. He now holds several academic positions at London and Oxford universities. He is also a Labour councillor for the London Borough of Southwark.

What is his recipe for “transforming the market”?  This extract from his Civitas tract give the bare bones of it:

“The government is an enabler, directing strategic investment to growing sectors and firms, providing fertile conditions for entrepreneurship.

The government is a  regulator, managing the inherent volatility and instability of markets, while promoting competition in product and capital markets.

The government is an equaliser, ensuring the supply of public goods and human capital helps the least advantaged, while ensuring the basic distribution of household income accords with basic principles of fairness and social justice.

And the government is an innovator , promoting experimentation, technological adaptation, alongside the discovery of new markets, services and the advancement of knowledge.” pp49/50

This has the ring of someone reciting a catechism whose end is in its saying not in its doing.

Diamond’s  buzzwords for curing the ills of the British economy are decentralisation and localism. This dovetails with the Labour version of the Tories’ risible “Big Society” which I heard  John Cruddas  outline not so long ago (https://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2013/10/20/one-nation-labour-work-family-and-place-a-taste-of-labours-next-election-propaganda/). Read this in conjunction with this report and you will have Labour’s economic and social programme  for the next general election.

There is a good deal of “back to the future” in his  programme. He wants to create a ‘super ministry” combining the Department of Business,  Innovation and skills (BIS),  the Department of Communities and Homes and some Treasury functions to “ decentralise and devolve economic power away from London.”  Older readers will be irresistibly reminded of the first Wilson government in the 1960s when work, and especially public sector work, was to be sent to the less prosperous parts of Britain. Thankfully Diamond  at least spared us any ancient embarrassing rhetoric such as “the white heat of technology” or “picking winners”, but that is what he thinking.

Diamond’s wish to see Britain’s economy “rebalanced” away from services and towards manufacturing also resonates with Wilson’s desire to shift more people into manufacturing. This he attempted  to do with arguably the most absurd tax ever introduced in Britain, the  Selective Employment Tax (SET).  This  was placed on service companies only, the idea being that this would make more people seek manufacturing jobs  because service employers would find it more expensive to employ people and the number of service jobs would fall. In turn the hope was that manufacturing wages would be lowered because of increased competition for such jobs. This last was an heroically optimistic scenario because of the power of the unions at the time.

SET failed for the wondrously obvious reason that it increased the costs of service employers without improving the circumstances of manufacturers, whose wages remained  much the same,  while demand for  their goods was at best not increased and at worst might have even fallen if unemployment in the service sector rose due to the increased cost imposed by  SET and reduced overall demand.   This meant manufacturers could not employ more people.  All  SET could do in the circumstances of the 1960s,  if it had any effect at all,  was reduce employment and/or raise retail prices.

So many things are to Diamond’s mind “too centralised” or  overly  concentrated in particular areas .  Apart from  general economic power and government,  he pointed to banks, infrastructure such as airports and even the Arts. Leaving aside whether localising affairs is desirable, there is an inherent problem with making things more local and decentralised. There needs to be not merely the bricks and mortar of regional banks and companies, councils with much more responsibility and so on, there needs to be a class of people who can handle such responsibilities at the local and regional level. None exists at present. Nor can such a class be created by conscious policy.  It is something that happens, if it happens at all, naturally.

At one time Britain did have a healthy political and managerial class who were willing and able to assume the burden of exercising local power. But that class grew naturally from the fact that the whole of society was of necessity  conducted at the local level because of poor communications. But from the advent of the railways onwards localism became less and less the natural state of affairs.  We have now reached a  point where the exercise of  political power and initiative  at the local level  is feeble because those with real political ambition do not see serving at the local level as important. It is all very well to lament this and say power and influence should be shifted back to the local level but how able and ambitious people can be persuaded to confine themselves to local government is another matter. Frankly, I doubt whether the clock can be turned back.

As part of his worship of the local Diamond is much taken with Germany with its regional banks, workers directives  and technical schools.  He wants Britain to copy them. In this he is making the profound but common error of believing that what works in one society will work in any other society. This was doubly  odd because he recognised in one part of his talk (and does so in his written tract) that the transfer of methods from one society to another was problematical, but still went on as though the problem did not exist when he got to the detail, such as it was, as to what should be done in Britain.

Germany is decentralised because that is the way it has always been. A latecomer to the nation state (1870), the German state has always been in practice a federation with some of the larger components such as Saxony and Bavaria having histories as substantial kingdoms in their own right.  The consequence is that regionalism comes naturally to Germany in a way that it never would do in Britain and especially England,  because England has been centralised in the sense that it has been a kingdom encompassing those with a broad common ethnicity for many centuries. In modern Germany the sixteen Lander form political entities which each  have both size and a separate history   to create and maintain  regional loyalty. In England there are no such hard core regional loyalties. Regional sub-divisions of England are no more than geographical expressions, the South West, the North West, the South East, Midlands and so on.  Even the North East – the  region of England often put forward as having the strongest regional identity – is far from being an area  with a separate identity around which all the inhabitants can coalesce.

Diamond’s scheme for remedying the ills of the British economy has many other weaknesses. He is sold on predistribution.  This is, almost inevitably these days, an ideological import from the USA.  It is the political equivalent of selling snake oil to the ill.  The idea is that silly old traditional methods of redressing inequality such as progressive tax regimes and benefit support (which actually work) are forsaken for ethereal aspirations that  encourage long-term investment,  providing good quality public services, particularly healthcare and investing in the skills of the young , workers on company boards, a minimum wage pegged to inflation and so on.  The problem is these will not work while mass immigration and relatively free trade exists both in terms of imports and the export of jobs through outsourcing.

The broad sweep of Diamond’s ends I would have sympathy with, the re-industrialisation of Britain, greater material equality, an end to the worship of markets, long term planning by companies and so on.  The problem is his means. They will not work because he is always trying to work within the context of both a market economy and globalisation. Take his strategy for manufacturing. To increase this, especially in terms of making it much broader as well as larger in GDP terms, some form of protection would have to be used, be that traditional controls such as quotas and tariffs or state control of vital industries together with fiscal measures to ensure the price of essential goods and services are within the reach of the poor.   We can be sure of that both because economic history has no example of a country industrialising except by protecting its domestic market and because simple logic tells you that it is impossible to compete across the economic board  with countries whose labour forces are earning a fraction of British wages, who have scant regard for health and safety and whose governments ensure that it is very difficult to enter their markets by economic regimes which are anything but laissez faire.

Diamond’s attempt to get round this problem is for Britain to concentrate on high-tech industries. There are two problems with this. The first is strategic whereby it is dangerous for any country to leave itself at the mercy of world events by being unable to produce a wide range of products either at all or in sufficient quantity to tide the country over in an emergency.

The second difficulty is the sheer impossibility of creating  sufficient jobs to employ enough of a  large population like that of the UK to compensate for the export of lower tech, lower skilled work. Even if it was in theory possible, it would be impossible to find enough people capable of  high tech work because the way IQ is distributed means that even in a country with a strong average IQ such as Britain will have huge numbers of people who have mediocre to poor IQs –for example, there are around 6 million people with IQS of 80 or less in the UK.  Thus two reasons for a broad-based economy come together: the impossibility of providing enough high tech, high skill jobs and the need to cater for the less able in society.

The audience questions and remarks

What was heartening was the anger which quite a few of the audience (it was a deliberately small gathering of around 25) expressed about the way British governments had failed to protect British companies and British economic interests generally. “Britain is becoming a servant economy” was probably the best of the comments summing up where Britain is headed if the current laissez faire policies continue to be followed.

These points were made by other members of the audience:

–          The takeover of  British companies by foreigners was made much easier with the abolition of the Mergers and Monopolies Commission  (which had a public interest test)  and its replacement with the Competition Commission (which has no public interest test but simply a test for the proportion of the market a takeover would involve).

–          Manufacturers comprise only 11% of GDP but 50% of British exports.

–          Manufacturing jobs are generally better paid than service sector jobs so their loss is more keenly felt both by the individual and in terms of GDP.

–          Foreign direct investment is often concerned with the acquiring of British assets rather than new investment.

–          Energy costs are killing manufacturing in the UK.

The owner of JLS Ltd, John Mills (who is currently the largest Labour Party donor and a one-time Camden Councillor),  advocated a deliberate 20%  devaluation of the pound . I have discussed this with him on another occasion and the problem with it is this: starting the devaluation is easy enough, but stopping it   at the level you want it is not. The danger is that the currency  will deflate way beyond the desired point because the brakes fail to halt the decline in its value.  It is also worth remembering that the value of the Pound against major currencies has dropped 20% or so since Lehman Bros failed in 2008.

I managed to make a few points. These were:

1. That it is impossible to rebuild manufacturing except behind protectionist barriers, official or unofficial, the proof of this statement being the fact that it has never been done.

2. Most immigrants are not engaged in highly  skilled work but low-skilled or unskilled jobs, which in itself gives the lie to the idea that immigrants are doing jobs which Britons could not or would not do. I further pointed out that many of these jobs involve dealing with the British public  – in shops, cafes, call centres and so on – and that many of those  so employed have completely inadequate English. To claim that a foreign worker who cannot speak fluent English is a better employee in such posts than a native English speaker is a self-evident nonsense.

3. That British unemployment, especially youth unemployment, cannot be cured while our borders are effectively open both because of the EU and the unwillingness of all the major parties to halt immigration from outside the European Economic Area.  (Diamond flatly refused to discuss the question of immigration, contenting himself with “We shall have to differ on immigration”).

4. Diamond stated in his talk that healthy economies relied on “efficient, effective and non-corrupt public sectors”. I broke the dreadful truth to him that Britain no longer has such a public sector. Privatisation (especially PFI) has greatly increased the opportunities for corruption in public service. Increase the opportunities and corruption increases. It is a very simple equation.

Diamond accepted that corruption had  worsened in central government public service but bizarrely claimed it had reduced in local government circles. The reality is that corruption has increased not decreased in local government because so much of local government work has been contracted out. Diamond attempted no justification for his claim merely asserted it. (It is a very strange thing but I have never been to a meeting dealing with the same general subject area as this one where anyone other than me  has raised the issue of corruption, this  despite the fact that there are regular examples of it in the mainstream media).

Privatisation has also reduced the efficiency of public services, because  where used it destroys the chain of command within the public service.  This occurs because where there is a private contractor involved the public service provider cannot instruct those employed by the private contractor but must work through the contractor’s management. This can lead to very complex arrangements.  I gave the example of major London hospitals where there are  routinely PFI contracts for the food, the laundry, the ward cleaning and the maintenance and cleaning of the multi-media installations (TV, phone, internet).

5. That giving more power,  including greatly increased borrowing powers,  to local councils is  a recipe for disaster because of the lamentable quality of the large majority of councillors. I urged anyone around the table who doubted this to go and view their local council in action, especially in the committees and subcommittees.

6. The laws which allow directors who do not meet their statutory responsibilities to be punished are rarely enforced. I gave as examples the provisions within the Company’s Act to remove the personal; limited liability of directors and to ban people from being directors.   I pointed out that these provisions  had not been used against any of the directors of RBS, HBOS, Lloyds or  Northern Rock, despite their extremely reckless behaviour.  Had the limited liability of directors such as Fred Goodwin been removed the directors could have been sued for every penny they had.  As for banning directors, I told the meeting that from my own experience with the Inland Revenue of  trying to get even the directors of tinpot concerns banned  was well nigh impossible and that to get a mainboard director of a Footsie 100 company banned was in practice impossible unless the director was convicted of a criminal offence against the company such as embezzlement.

What needs to be done

If Britain’s economy can be reshaped it can only be done with a judicious use of protectionist measures, the renationalisation of vital services such as the utilities  and an end to mass immigration.  Diamond will not even consider doing any of this.

There was one issue which I did not get a chance to raise  because of the constraints of the meeting.  Nor was the issue touched on by Diamond or any of the audience. It concerned technological changed.  Robotics and 3-D printing bid fair to turn our economic world upside down. I include below links to a couple of articles which deal with problems they will create. Just in case you are tempted to say Oh that’s just sci-fi, especially in the case of robotics, go online look at the latest robotic developments, for example, a humanoid robot which can walk over rough ground (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/10360951/Meet-Atlas-Boston-Dynamics-unveils-robot-that-can-walk-on-rocks.html)

and a humanoid robot that has human eye movements very well imitated. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/10413987/Meet-ZENO-R25-the-first-affordable-human-robot.html)

The implications of Robotics are explored in these essays:

https://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/robotics-and-the-real-sorry-karl-you-got-it-wrong-final-crisis-of-capitalism/

https://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2010/10/13/the-geepees-a-cautionary-tale/

Making plans on the basis that our economy and society will remain in broad terms similar to what it is now is a mug’s game.

Robert Henderson 29 11 2013

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How reason may be ignored and ideologies embraced or discarded

Robert Henderson

The English philosopher Tony Flew  died in 2010. The academic subject around which he wove his life  should have made him less vulnerable to false reasoning. That in turn should have armour plated him against being captured by ideologies.  In fact he was a sucker for ideologies and twice threw  over ideological beliefs for other ideological beliefs.  His intelligence and erudition did not prove any guard against folly.

I knew  Flew when he was still comparatively young when I was a student of Keele  U in the late sixties and early seventies. At that time he  was in his late forties  and held the Chair of Philosophy at the university.

Perhaps the most important guide to his character is the fact that he twice performed a volte-face on fundamental beliefs, the first being his political shift.  Strangely, his mainstream obits  made very little of the fact that he was a man well to the left of centre until his early thirties, one of the original “Angry Young Men” in fact.  I dare say that will come as a great shock to many of those who only knew him as an old man.

The second ideological shift came late in his life when having been a fervent atheist in the Richard Dawkins’ mould throughout his adult life, he suddenly announced in 2004 that he believed there were solid grounds for believing there was a God. There was a considerable irony in this because of his devotion to David Hume, a man who scandalised many on his deathbed, including that old rake Boswell, by maintaining his unbelief.

There have been suggestions that he was not entirely compos mentis at that stage of his life and that he may have been exploited by Christian groups. However, judged by his public announcements, writing and public appearances,  he seemed to have enough about him mentally at the time (2004) when he announced his move from atheism to a form of deism to remove any concern that he was a senile old man having his name used by others.  Whether he was still mentally sharp is another matter, for his reliance on the argument from design because of the revelations of DNA research was frankly feeble for  DNA provides no greater difficulty for doubters of an undirected or created universe than for example does the complexity of the human eye. Its use suggested someone borrowing an idea because they no longer had the mental vitality to argue a matter through.

Tony Flew’s position on atheism was intellectually unsound because like the religious he was being dogmatic without adequate grounds for his dogmatism.  The strongest philosophical position on whether there is a being we might call God is agnosticism.

While it is reasonable to dismiss all religions as man-made artefacts because (1) they all rely on the supernatural, something  for which there is no objective evidence, (2) particular varieties of religious belief tend to pass from parents to children, for example, Roman Catholic parents will tend to have children of the same faith, (3) religions tend to congregate in specific territories and (4) religions tend to reflect the cultures from which they arose.

What is not reasonable is to assert is that there is definitely not a being with the attributes of a God. This is so for a beautifully simple reason: the very fact of existence.  That fact demolishes the argument that it is up to the believers to prove there is a God for the fact of existence creates the possibility of one, a possibility which has the same status as the possibility that there is not a God.

The question of whether there is a God is unanswerable rationally. We could in principle discover if our universe had been created by an active intelligence, but that would not answer the question ultimately for  the problem would then arise of who created the creator and so on ad infinitum: the problem of infinite vicious regression.

There are further problems: while it might be possible to prove that the universe had an immediate creator, it would be impossible to prove that it had no beginning or end or that it came into existence at a particular point through no directed agency, that is, it simply arose. The former case would fail because it would involve proving that the universe had lasted for an infinite period and the infinite cannot be measured, and in the latter case,  no proof could be produced which would rule out the possibility of a creator, because there would be no way of demonstrating that what was perceived to be the spontaneous and undirected production of the universe was not in fact the result of a creator whose existence was as yet hidden.

Because of these considerations the rational position is that the universe may or may not have been the result of active creation by an intelligence with the attributes we assign to the concept of a God.

As an academic philosopher, I think it would fair to say that his strength lay in explication rather than original thought.

Prof Flew is frequently described as a libertarian. Well, libertarianism is a house with many rooms. The judgement that he is a libertarian is almost entirely, perhaps entirely, based on his commitment to laissez faire economics and a small state along Hayekian lines. Whether that makes a person a libertarian is a matter of debate. What is certain is that on some central liberation issues – freedom of expression (you either have complete freedom or a range of permitted opinion), the legalisation of drugs and the right of the citizen to own and carry weapons – he was definitely not a libertarian.

On others, such as education, one must decide whether a strict educational regime is compatible with libertarian ideals or whether the true libertarian should favour something more akin to what used to be called progressive schools which adopt a policy of  laissez faire.  It is worth adding that his hero as a political philosopher was Hobbes, one of the most authoritarian of philosophers in the modern period, a rather strange philosophical guide for a libertarian.

Another great irony of his life was his failure to see the incongruity of  wholeheartedly embracing laissez faire economics and the small state,  whilst spending almost all his working life working for taxpayer funded institutions and drawing a pension, which ultimately funded by the taxpayer.

Sadly, by the time I reached Keele in 1969 Prof Flew’s life there was a far from happy one. He found it difficult going on impossible to come to terms with the much freer academic atmosphere of the sixties.

Bruges Group International Conference 9 11 2013

Which Way Out?

Speakers

Prof. Tim Congdon  (Economist)

Prof. Ivar Raig (Tallinn University)

Prof. Roland Vaubel (Mannheim University)

Ian Milne (Banker and Industrialist)

Prof. Patrick Minford (Prof of Economics Cardiff Business School)

Christopher Booker (Telegraph journalist)

Dr Richard North (Long time EU campaigner)

Mary Ellen Syon (Irish Daily Mail Journalist)

Kieran Bailey (15-year-old who is shortlisted for the Brexit prize)

This conference is important because it brought together some of the people who are likely to be part of the public face of the OUT campaign if and when a referendum is held on Britain’s future in the EU.  Frankly, it was not encouraging,  both because there was great deal of conflict between the views of this supposed panel of Eurosceptics and  many of the proposals had a Utopian ring for they did not take into account the likelihood or otherwise of their plans being put into operation.

Prof. Tim Congdon

Congdon was the most forthright of the speakers. He wants Britain out of the UK full stop: no Lisbon Treaty Article 50 exit,  just the Westminster Parliament repealing the Act which binds Britain  into the EU. His main reason for taking this stance was that to commit to the use of  Article 50 would mean accepting its legitimacy. That has its dangers because if its legitimacy is accepted before  Britain activated the Article , the EU might extend the maximum two year waiting period the Article stipulates  before a member state can leave to a much longer time.  As this would require a Treaty change over which any member state would have a  veto I think this is not a realistic threat provided a referendum is held soon.

Nonetheless, Congdon’s instincts are right,  for to tie us into a two year waiting period would allow the EU to create a good deal of mischief. Using the Article 50  route would also provide an escape route for our Europhile political elite because they could argue that b ecayuse of the Article the best deal they could get was one which left us still within the coils of the EU, for example, a similar  relationship with the EU to that of Norway or Switzerland, both of whom are signed up to the so-called four EU freedoms: the freedom of unrestricted movement within the European Economic Area (EEA) of capital, services, capital and labour.

Congdon was just as unequivocal on the claims that Britain would lose greatly if she  left. He pointed out that the vast majority of UN member states were not EU members but were able to trade successfully both generally and with the EU, and cited various examples of countries, some small,  outside the EU which had made treaties with much larger nation states  such as the USA and China.  Congdon also made  much of the EU’s declining share of world trade, which is only around 12% now and is set to decline further.

As for Britain needing a plan as to what exactly she would do after leaving the EU before leaving, Congdon said this was completely unnecessary and cited the fact that some  65 independent  countries today had gained their independence  from Britain without having such a plan.

I agree wholeheartedly with Congdon’s  overall strategy,   but there is a presentational problem with the man. This is the first time I have heard him speaking in person. I was astounded by the eccentricity of his delivery.  He would be speaking normally when suddenly he would explode into what I can only describe as an hysterical rant. This he must have done at least half a dozen times in his twenty minutes or so of speaking. As he is very likely to figure in any OUT campaign this is worrying. It is odds on he will not go down well with the general public, because eccentricity of any sort, even that which has some charm,  will alienate as well as attract and frankly this  was not an engaging eccentricity.

Congdon was also caught out by a questioner from the audience. He had cited the recent Canada-EU trade treaty as evidence of what could be done by Britain once she is outside the EU.  A questioner asked him for details of the treaty. Congdon had to admit he did not know what they are. That is just plain sloppy. If you are going to cite something as evidence common-sense tells you to mug up the facts  because as sure as eggs are eggs you will be challenged on the evidence.

Prof. Roland Vaubel

Vauble detailed the vested interest of  the various  instruments of the EU – Commission, Parliament, Court of Justice.  In every case centralisation of EU powers increased their power. Hence, he saw no likelihood of any repatriation of substantial powers unless Article 50  is activated.

As for the process of leaving, Vauble took a legalistic approach. He  maintained that the activation of Article 50   was the only way Britain could leave the EU because he considered the acceptance of the Lisbon Treaty by Gordon Brown made any other exit  illegal.    The answer to that is simple: treaties signed by a government which cannot be repudiated by a future government are utterly undemocratic.

Assuming Britain activated Article 50, Vauble said that the EU elite would give nothing much  to Britain over the two years and the odds were that at the end of two years no agreement would have been reached and Britain would simply exit the EU without any agreement.  Because of this Vauble claimed that Britain had to have a strategy for what was to happen after Britain left without a Treaty. Vauble’s solution was for Britain to make alliances with other EU members, especially the smaller ones.  His overall message was that Britain could not survive on her own.  Vauble further envisaged that a Britain which had left the EU and had some form of alliance with other states, both within and without the EU, could act as a lever to change the centralising tendencies of the EU.  He seemed much  more interested in using Britain as a tool for other states’ ends than suggesting  the best strategy for Britain.

Prof. Ivar Raig

Even making considerable allowances  for the fact that English was not his first language, Raig was an awful speaker, mixing incoherent passages with statements of appalling banality , all delivered in what I can only describe as a prolong yell.

Out of the incoherence came a desire for Britain to wrap itself in another  supra-national bloc, in this case one based on North America, Germany, Scandinavia and other Northern European states. This he grandiosely labelled the New Atlantic Project. Like Vauble he believed Britain would not be able to go it alone.

Ian Milne

Milne was in  favour of using Article 50, although he was less committed to it under all circumstances than Raig and Vaubel.. For Milne activating the Article was more a question of showing willing to preserve legal form than a commitment to observe it.  If the EU showed they were going to be obstructive after  Britain activated the Article, then he was happy for Britain to simply leave by making a unilateral declaration.

He was far from pessimistic about Britain being able to negotiate a reasonable settlement with the EU, not least because of the disruption of EU’s  trade with Britain if there was any serious delay.  Milne emphasised how advantageous the EU’s trade with Britain is to the EU , both because of the large trade deficit Britain runs every year with the EU and the supply of goods to EU businesses such as the German car industry.  He also pointed out the rest of the world would not take kindly to uncertainty because they also had an interest in Britain and the EU resolving their differences.

The most useful part of his speech was his detailed plan for how the exit should be administratively planned. He wanted a Ministry for EU Transitional Arrangements (META) set up to manage the business. He took his inspiration from large projects such as the Olympics and Crossrail.

There are contentious points in the detail of his ideas, not least his rather too trusting belief in the efficiency of private industry compared with public service. But his basic idea of a ministry devoted solely to the administrative, economic, legal and political issues arising from our departure is sound because it will be a complicated business.

The problem with his plan is that it is difficult to envisage any conceivable British government implementing it,  not least because for a government to develop such a detailed plan would be to hamstring both the government of the day and any future government.

Prof. Patrick Minford

A decent speaker but completely out of touch with reality because he is in thrall to the laissez faire quasi-religion. A clear example of a man being captured by one of Richard Dawkins’ memes, in this case by a very harmful one. The problem with Minford is that he has spent his entire working life in either public service or academia. This allows him to maintain his fantasy of  perfect markets with perfect information without the evidence of real life intruding.

Minford wants out of the EU because he has the fashionable but untrue idea that the British are in favour of free markets and free trade while the other EU members are locked in a socialist mindset.  Towards the end of his offering he made the comment that the British had always been free traders including during the Industrial Revolution.  This was a truly incredible statement because the British Industrial Revolution occurred whilst  Britain operated arguably the most successful protection system ever seen through the Navigation Acts and the Old Colonial System. That  tells you Minford either has a very tenuous grasp of economic history or is willing to deliberately fabricate to maintain the plausibility of his ideology.  He might also ask himself how unions became so powerful in Britain  if support for free markets and free trade is so heavily stitched in British minds.

From this misreading of both British history and indeed  her current realities,  Minford  built his case for leaving the EU.  He wants Britain to depart  because he views the EU as a protectionist syndicate which prevents Britain from following her supposedly free market ways.

Having laid out his general scheme of objections to the EU he wandered into the ground of employment and extolled Britain as a far superior job creator than most of the EU whose unemployment was much higher. This difference he attributed to Britain’s free market instincts.  From there he moved to the question of immigration and blithely told the audience that immigrants do not take jobs from Britons. He produced what he fondly imagined to be a knock down argument by trotting out the crude classical economic argument about how Britons would find jobs if only they would accept lower wages (which would be facilitated by less welfare provision)  or were better qualified.   This caused a good deal of anger amongst the audience with quite a few calling out.

When questions were taken I managed to get myself called. I told the meeting that on the question of immigration and jobs I had special knowledge from my time as an Inland Revenue investigator. I proceeded  to detail some of  the ways that huge numbers of jobs never came onto the open British market because of foreign gangmasters employing only their own nationals, ethnic minority employers employing only their own people, foreign companies bringing in their own nationals and the recruitment of foreigners for jobs by not only British companies but British public service employers.  I further pointed out that around 5 million people who were counted as being in work in Britain were not meaningfully employed because they had to draw benefits to provide a living wage. If this 5 million is added to the 2.5 million officially unemployed, the real rate of unemployment in Britain is running at over 20% (the official unemployment rate using the Labour Survey count  stood  at 7.7% for 2.49 million unemployed in October 2013).  That is not so very different from much of the Eurozone.

Having done that,  I  attacked the idea that Britons were wedded to the idea free market economics, pointing out the evidence against this belief such as I have already mentioned, and ended by asking from where exactly Minford got his fantasy view of Britain and the British. All of this was very warmly greeted by the audience and many came up to afterwards to express agreement.

What was Minford’s response? It was feeble to the point of embarrassment. He just kept on repeating various forms of “You are wrong” with  absolutely no attempt to address the detailed objections I had raised to his words.

On the plus side he did reject the “Norwegian Option” on the grounds that it would not only tie us into the single market legislation but force acceptance of the four so-called EU freedoms, namely, the free movement of goods, services, capital and labour within the European Economic Area.

Minford was also on the right track when he pointed out the quite small part of the British economy which is devoted to exports (he put it at 10%).  He was also generally confident of Britain’s ability to be successful outside of the EU.

Christopher Booker

Booker is a promoter of the use of Article 50 as the only means by which the EU could be forced to open negotiations.  That begs the questions of what negotiations would result with the Europhile  British political elite bargaining for Britain and the probable response of the EU if Britain simply announced it was leaving.

The answer to the former question is that the Europhile politicians  who would be leading the British side of the negotiations would try to tie Britain firmly back into the EU. If Britain simply repudiated the European Acts which have led to  her entanglement in the EU by repealing them that would make it much more difficult for the British political elite to tie us back into the EU. This is  because Britain would immediately start operating in a post-EU world and British politicians would have to adapt to that reality whether they liked it or not.

As for the response of the EU elites, they would be unlikely to do much by way of creating heavy protectionist barriers against Britain both because of their healthy trade surplus with Britain and the many economic links between Britain and the rest of the EU and because of  the World Trade Organisation’s regulatory framework which binds its members to pretty tight restrictions on protectionist barriers.  It is also human nature to be more respectful to those who adopt strong dominant action than to those who display weak cringing behaviour such as has been the norm for British politicians dealing with the EU for over twenty years.

If leaving the EU means we cease to be covered by the many treaties signed by the EU which currently apply to  Britain (Booker said there are around 700), so  much the better for that would force a re-evaluation of the ones we wished of which to continue to be members.  It is wildly improbable that Britain would be denied independent membership of any it chose to sign up.

Booker is also a supporter of the “Norwegian Option”.  Hence, much of what he says about wanting Britain to be free of the EU grasping hands is pointless at best and dishonest at worst because the Norwegian Option” would still leave Britain within the coils of the EU.

Mary Ellen Synon

By far the most interesting speaker because she was the most realistic. Synon has worked in Brussels for many years and she is under no illusions about the corrupt and self-serving and above all ideological nature of the EU. Synon  said there are instructions to Eurocrats about the language they use in public. They never say people always citizen as in “a citizen of the EU” The word country is used as little as possible and if a Eurocrat is talking about his own country he or she will says “the country I know best” not “my country”. She was generally scathing about  British and other EU politicians.

According to Synon said the 2017 date for a proposed referendum was  chosen because Britain will take the six-month rotating presidency of the EU Council of Ministers in the second half of 2017. This would give Cameron (or anyone else who is PM) and various cabinet members a great deal of opportunity to bring EU summits to Britain and to posture regularly in front of the cameras.

Synon is sceptical about a referendum being held even if Cameron is PM after the next election. She thinks he will try to wriggle out of it as he wriggled out of the promised referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.  I think is  unlikely because the situation will be rather different to what it was with the Lisbon treaty.  The latter  was accepted by a British Government before Cameron came to power. In this case he would be remaining in power. In addition, Cameron has nailed his colours very firmly to the referendum mast.  It would be immensely difficult for him to renege on his promises because he would have no one else to blame but himself if the promise was broken.

But even if  there is a referendum and it is won  by a large majority,  Synon thinks that the EU will do what they have done with other referendum reverses such as the Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty first time round. They will try to engineer another referendum. In the Irish case they did this despite a healthy vote against ( 53.4 percent against, 46.6 percent in favour) in the original referendum.

The tactic was dependent on the existence of willing collaborators in the Irish government. Synon had  no doubt that a Cameron government would find such collaborators, not least because questioned by the Spanish newspaper La Pais in April 2013.  Cameron was asked whether, in the event of a vote to leave the EU this question: “Would you be willing to leave the Union?”  He replied  “I would not”. (Synon described Cameron as collaborator).

Using the Irish example as a template, Synon then outlined in gory detail what were likely to be Cameron’s tactics if a vote to leave occurred .  The government would not accept the vote. There would be a questioning of whether the electorate had understood what they were voting for. This would be followed by the commissioning of  an opinion poll  designed to  either reject the result of the referendum outright or provide a pretext to hold another referendum  on the grounds that the electorate had not understood what the first referendum really meant.

In Ireland another referendum had to be held because the constitution required it. In Britain there is  no such requirement.  The British government could simply ignore the referendum result unless Parliamentary action forced either another referendum or the respecting of the vote of the referendum which had been held that  returned a vote to leave the EU.

Synon’s full notes for her speech can be found here http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=84482

Dr Richard North

North began his speech by saying no referendum could be held in  2017 because David Cameron has committed himself to “substantial re-writing” of the Treaties before referendum.  This  he claimed would  require an Inter-Governmental Convention (IGC) which would take several years to convene, agree changes and have the changes ratified by the various member states, some of whom would have a constitutional  requirement to put the matter to a vote. In principle, Britain would be one of them because of the  referendum lock” provisions in  the European Union Act of 2011. This requires any substantial change to the EU treaties to be put to the British electorate. In addition, the 2015 European Parliament elections would mean that before any IGC could be called the newly elected Parliament would have to approve a new Commission, a process which North believes would take until the end of 2015. (http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=84483)

The obvious objection to that is the fact that the EU has shown itself willing to disregard legal niceties when it suits them. Moreover, it all depends on what “substantial re-writing” would mean. It could be that Cameron (if it is he doping the renegotiation) will simply be tossed a few insignificant bones which the EU elite can claim can be managed within the present treaties. Alternatively, the British government might simply say this is the fruit that  our negotiations have born and they will be incorporated into EU law in due course if the vote is to accept them and stay in the EU. It should be remembered that the Wilson renegotiation which led to the 1975 referendum were put to the British electorate without  a Treaty change.

The interesting part of  North’s speech dealt with the  amount of law  coming from Brussels which is in reality merely Brussels rubber-stamping decisions made by  other supranational bodies. (North claimed that it was most of the EU regulations we toil under).   This law is  called Dual International Quasi Legislation. It derives from what North describes the   EU as having become, namely,  “part of a nexus of legislative bodies, linking international agencies of the United Nations with regional, national and local bodies, to form one continuous, seam-free administrative machine.” (http://eureferendum.blogspot.co.uk/2007/03/sucess-of-eu.html)

The rather shadowy  bodies  which make such laws  are  the likes of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, (http://www.codexalimentarius.org/) which sets standards for  the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Health Organisation, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change  (http://www.ipcc.ch/)  and the Bank for International Settlements (http://www.bis.org/about/index.htm).  The rules agreed by such bodies  go through the  EU  legalising process on what is known as the “A List” without a vote.

Although the process may be rubber-stamping,  it is worth noting that the EU is not legally bound to accept such agreements. However, it suits the EU elites’ purposes to do so because it fits with their anti-democratic supranational agenda for it restricts who makes the decisions to an even smaller group  than would be the case if the EU instigated the regulations.

North is in favour of using Article 50 as an exit vehicle. He gives no sign of appreciating the potential damage which two years of prevarication by the EU could do or the opportunities for active collusion with the EU elite  by the British elite to trap  Britain  once more within the tentacles of the EU.

His idea of using the “Norwegian Option” as a staging post to full independence is wishful thinking,  because once a new settlement is reached it is highly improbable that a further referendum would be held for many years if at all, not least because the “Norwegian Option” would tie us into the four so-called EU freedoms and the  general single-market obligations.

Kieran Bailey

He spoke confidently but,  unsurprisingly for a 15-year-old, said nothing of obvious importance. His appearance smacked too much of gimmickry.

An unasked question

Had I had the opportunity I would  have posed a question which went unasked, namely, what should be done to tie down Cameron (or any other PM) to what will happen if there is a vote to leave the EU? We need to know before the IN/OUT referendum what the British government is committed to.

What should be done?

If a referendum is to be won the OUT camp must put forward a coherent and attractive message which goes to the heart of British people’s fears and anger resulting from British membership of the EU.  Talking legalistically about invoking Article 50, negotiating for a relationship similar to that of Norway or Switzerland  or mechanically reciting mantras about free markets and free trade will not do that. Indeed, it will drive voters away.

The British resent and distrust the EU because of the impotence of the British government and legislature to prevent EU law taking precedence over the will of Parliament. However, they are often unclear about which areas of policy have been subcontracted to Brussels. The OUT campaign must keep hammering home exactly how much cannot be done while Britain is entrenched within the EU.

The most important EU issue in British minds is indubitably  immigration. That should be made the focus of the OUT campaign. Indeed, the more it becomes an anti-immigration campaign the better because mass immigration affects from the entirety of life. The primary ill is simply the fact that huge numbers of foreigners coming into Britain change the nature of Britain both generally – think of the laws against speaking freely and those imposing “non-discrimination” dictats  on the grounds of race and ethnicity – and particularly, for example, here parts of the country are effectively colonised by those of a certain ethnicity or race.

Then there are the secondary ills which immigrants bring: the undercutting of wages, the removal of jobs from the open British market by ethnic minority employers who either employ only those of their ethnicity  and   foreign gangmasters who supply only those of their own nationality, the use of the NHS, the taking  of housing (especially social housing) which forces up rents, the overcrowding of schools in areas of heavy immigrant settlement, the drawing of benefits  by immigrants very soon are they arrive in Britain  and  a disproportionate propensity for crime.

A full throated campaign against these ills, which should encompass non-EEA citizens in Britain as well as EEA citizens, would be something the British electorate would instinctively and enthusiastically   respond to.  It would also allow those speaking for the OUT campaign to vividly illustrate the extent that the EU affects British life in all the important political policy areas.

The danger is that those running the OUT campaign  will, because of the grip that political correctness has on modern Britain, turn away from immigration as a major plank in their platform or  even shun it altogether.  That will guarantee either a lost referendum or allow  Britain to be re-stitched into the EU with something like the “Norwegian Option”.

You looking at me?

Robert Henderson

Contents

The perception of facial expressions

The nature of the mis-identified emotions

The bias in the East Asian mis-identifications

How could  such a perceptual difference arise?

Possible variations in the perception of other non-verbal behaviour

Language is a signifier but what does it signify?

The political and social implications of the Glasgow research

Be cautious

Further research

The perception of facial expressions

A team  led by  Glasgow University  in Scotland   published  research in  2009 in the journal Current Biology on  differences in the interpretation of facial expressions by  different racial  groups (1).  The research  suggests  that Whites (2) and East Asians  differ significantly in their mode of scrutiny of faces and  their success in identifying emotions from facial expressions.

Whites  concentrate their attention on the eyes and the mouth equally while East Asians concentrate largely on the eyes. The consequence is that the latter have difficulty in distinguishing expressions which have a  similarity around the eyes. Whites, who use  two reference areas,  are significantly more adept at correctly identifying  such expressions  The difference in the mode scanning faces used by  the two groups  plausibly translates into a difference in  the emoticons  used . by Whites and East Asians   Whites  use representations of the mouth  🙂 for happy and 😦 for sad; East Asians  representations of the eyes^.^ for happy and ;_; for sad.

The research involved  White  and East Asian  subjects  (3) viewing still images of  faces  whose emotions were  classified  using the Facial Action Coding System (FACS), which categorises emotion depending on the muscles used. Those wishing for the full technical details of the study can find them at the url given at note (1).

The subjects were shown  both White  and  East Asian photographs with expressions classified as Happy’, ‘Surprise’, ‘Fear’, ‘Disgust’, ‘Anger’ and  ‘Sadness’ plus ‘Neutral’ with Same Race  and Other Race  FACS-coded faces.

Whites correctly identified expressions all the time,  but East Asians  confused fear with surprise and disgust with anger, while the sadness, happiness and  neutral images produced similar results amongst both the White and East Asian subjects. Let us try to winkle out why this might be.

The nature of the mis-identified emotions

There are  two obvious differences between the expressions which are and are not correctly identified. First, all the emotions involved in incorrect identifications are in some manner unpleasant emotions, while happiness and  sadness contain one pleasant and one unpleasant emotion.

Fear and surprise and disgust and anger are pairs which have some tangential similarity. Indeed,  they may be experienced at the same time or at least in rapid sequence, giving the impression of emotions being mixed.   Probably because they are emotionally cousins to one another,  their facial representations have similarities, for example, we raise our eyebrows and widen our eyes  for both fear and surprise.

Contrariwise, happiness and sadness are two diametrically opposed emotions. They have no tangential similarity and their facial expressions are perceived as discrete and presumably  more easily recognised.

The second major point of difference is the response they produce in others. Fear, surprise, disgust and anger  are all what one might call active emotions. When we experience them we do so in an energetic way, for it is impossible to feel any of these  emotions without being physical aroused because  to experience them will result in a rush of adrenaline. Conversely,  sadness and  happiness, although they may be experienced in an energetic way,  for example in ecstasy or violent grief,  can also  be experienced in a physically quiet manner.

It is also arguable that the sadness or happiness of others, unless we are significantly  emotionally attached to the person, does not evoke as strong a response in an observer as fear, surprise, disgust and anger do, regardless of how well or little the person displaying the expressions is known to the observer. The reason for this is easy to see: fear, surprise, disgust and anger all offer a potential threat, whether that be  experiencing something unpleasant (disgust), concern about whether there is something to worry about of which we have yet to be aware  (fear, surprise) or the fear of someone indicating they are in a state to do you harm (anger).

The bias in the East Asian mis-identifications

There was a pattern to the East Asian mis-identifications. The showed a bias towards the softer, less threatening emotions. Faced with a choice between fear and  surprise they chose surprise and between  disgust and anger,  disgust.

The researchers attribute this tendency amongst East Asians to select  less threatening emotions  to be culturally determined. This may be the case,  but it would be rash to accept it as self-evident.   East Asians may  choose less threatening emotions when they misidentify  expressions simply because their mode of scanning the face makes one type of emotion easier to identify than another. Alternatively,  and more interestingly, East Asians could be genetically slanted towards selecting less threatening emotions.  Unless personality is not subject to any genetic influence, (4), then the genes which control personality will be subject to natural selection. If the form of a society favours the quiescent personality,  then those with the genes which tend towards such personalities will be favoured. There is evidence that  there are innate behavioural differences  between racial types and the reported differences in facial perception between Whites and East Asians seem to  fit into them.

A quarter of a century ago  Edward Wilson reported on studies by D G Freedman (1974, 1979)  on  new born   infants  which  “demonstrated  marked racial differences   in locomotion,  posture,  muscular tone and emotional response of  newborn infants  that cannot reasonably be explained as the result of  training or  even conditioning within the womb.  Chinese-American newborns,  for example, tend to be less changeable, less easily perturbed by noise and movement,  better  able to adjust to new stimuli and  discomfort,  and quicker  to  calm themselves than  Caucasian-American  infants.”  P274 Sociobiology; Abridged version.

More recently Professor Phil Rushton addressed the subject:

“Temperamental differences, measured  objectively by activity recorders attached to arms and  legs, show  up in babies.  African babies are more active sooner and  develop earlier than White babies who, in turn, are more active than East Asian babies.  Motor  behaviour  is  a  highly  stable individual  difference variable.  Even among Whites,  activity level measured during free play shows highly significant negative correlations with IQ: more restrained children average higher intellects. “ “Winning Personality” Masks Low Scores’

http://www.vdare.com/asp/printPage.asp?url=)

In my recent American Renaissance article (AR October 2009)  I addressed the failure of  East Asians  to become the dominant race, viz:  “despite their higher average IQ, Asians have probably failed to become the culturally dominant race because their innate personality traits work against them. They are too passive, too unquestioning, too lacking in initiative. The shape of their IQ with higher non-verbal scores and lower verbal scores may be wholly or partially the cause of these personality traits or, conversely, the shape of the IQ is simply an expression of the personality traits. Other biological traits such as low testosterone levels may also promote such behaviour.”

If East Asians are truly less able to interpret facial expressions than whites, this could provide an explanation of why, despite their superior IQ  distribution, they have failed to become the dominant racial type in terms of social development and intellectual  and technological advancement. The difference in ability to interpret facial expressions may mean that East Asians are less socially adept than whites with a consequent need for different social structures to Whites.

 How could  such a perceptual difference arise?

Some behavioural signals are almost certainly entirely  customary rather than innate. For example, Britons and Americans nod their heads to signify agreement and see black as the colour of death, the Chinese shake the head to signify agreement and see white as the colour of death. It is  conceivable that there are differences in brain function which determine such differences but that is improbable going on impossible.

Conversely, a trait such as the interpretation of emotions from facial expressions is most unlikely to be culturally determined.   We recognise emotions from facial expressions for the same reasons that our nearest primate relatives, the apes,  recognise behaviours to indicate calm, threat and so on. It is simply part of the species’ template. Unless human beings have some form of mental abnormality such as autism, they  recognise the meaning of facial expressions without consciously thinking about them. Nor do people have to be actively taught how to recognise facial expressions, although it may be that the facial expressions become associated with certain types of  behaviour as the child develops and from that information the child extrapolates from particular instances where an expression occurs to using the expression as a general signifier of an emotion rather than the response to an  event.  (The behaviour of children supposedly brought up without human contact – raised by animals of one sort or another for example – suggests that this may be the case).

But even if  the identification of expressions did occur that way it would not explain the  differences in mode of scanning which is  the most plausible cause of the difference in identification success.  There is absolutely no evidence of  cultural practices which would lead people of one racial type to behave in one way when they scanned a face and people of another racial type in another way. Indeed, it is difficult to even envisage such a cultural practice because the behaviour of scanning the faces of others  is such a natural thing, something which can be seen in very young babies.

But if the difference in scanning  is genuine how did it arise? If it is not cultural it must be genetic. A trait which was advantageous would be preferentially selected and spread. Why would it be advantageous? Perhaps the range of possible physical expression in East Asian faces is less than it is in Whites. Suppose further that the range of expression in East Asian faces is reduced around the mouth.  The most naturally efficient  thing for East Asians to do  would be to concentrate on the eyes. Natural selection would work on that trait favouring those best able to interpret from the eyes.

That leaves the question of why East Asian faces might be less expressive. If, has been suggested, the environment in which East Asians evolved was abnormally cold and as a response to the environment the East Asian face came to contain more fat and external physical facial features to guard against the cold, This may have so changed the morphology of the face that it restricted the ability of East Asians to communicate through facial expressions. It is possible that the old white jibe that “they all look alike” has a grain  of truth in it.

An alternative explanation could be some general  difference between the European and East Asian languages. Perhaps East Asian languages causes their users to move the mouth less energetically than  do European languages and this gives less non-verbal information from about the mouth area and  this causes  East Asians to concentrate on the part of the face which does give more accessible information.

Different languages use facial muscles in different ways. This affects the shape and mobility of the face which in turn will cause facial expressions to differ. These may be very subtle differences in terms of physical difference, but very significant differences in terms of perception by others. It is possible that differences in facial expressions perception vary not merely amongst racial groups but also amongst different cultures or even different groups within a population such as classes or  those with distinct accents or dialects.

Yet  another explanation may rest on the East Asian’s visual bias  as shown in their disproportionately high  strength  when dealing with non-verbal questions in IQ tests. It could be that the East Asian  concentrates on the eyes because that is the sense most important to them.

Finally, there is the possibility of  functional redundancy.

As any dog or cat owner will vouch for, animals can be incredibly sensitive to identifying human emotional states.  They do this entirely by picking up non-language signals. That ability they extend to other animals, both of their own and other species.  The ancestors of homo sapiens earlier forms of homo such as homo habilis and homo erectus must have been in much the same boat as animals.    Their language skills would be much less than that of modern man and like animals, interpretation of non-verbal signals such as facial expressions  would be much more important  to them than it would be to homo sapiens in a primitive state and vastly more important than such abilities are to men living in sophisticated societies.

As human beings evolve perhaps there is less need  for accurate interpretation of  emotions because  the reliance of human beings on one another for survival lessened as societies became ever more sophisticated – there is a big difference between living in a  tribe or band of 50-200 people where every individual is important to the survival of the tribe and living in a large city where the loss of an individual will not harm the community.

It could be that East Asians – with their superior average IQ – simply became less efficient at such social skills because they became less necessary to the type of society they naturally created. By that I do not mean that the society they created was the most advanced possible – indeed, the reality of  East Asian societies suggests that they put a block on technological and intellectual advance beyond a certain point. Rather, I am suggesting that the society their  innate behaviour created was an efficient means of managing East Asian populations and that was all it needed to maintain the society. .

 Possible variations in the perception of other non-verbal behaviour

Apart from interpreting facial expressions and using the overt meaning of language, individuals  have  many other ways of assessing emotion in others. Human beings definitely use  body language and the nuances of language structure (syntax, grammar)  and  responses  to the  quality of voice (pitch, timbre, speed and so on). They may also use less obvious clues such as pheromones.

This raises a problem for the Glasgow research. They have measured only one means of interpreting emotions in which one racial groups is apparently less competent than another. That is significant as afar as it goes. Where is it does not go is  into real life situations where  the whole range of verbal and non-verbal clues are available to allow the individual to make a judgement on the emotional state of others. In addition, in real-life human beings do not have to rely only on their own judgement to make such decisions, they can ask others. It could be that East Asians, while deficient compared to Whites when it comes to  facial recognition, are as effective as whites at identifying emotions,  more effective than whites or even less effective than whites when  more than facial scrutiny is employed,  with variations in ability arising from different combinations of  the various clues humans give to their emotional state, for example, facial expressions plus body language might trump facial expressions and  quality of voice in one racial group but not the other.

Language is a signifier but what does it signify?

It is one thing to call things  by the same name, quite another for the things called by the same name to be  the same thing to each individual.  To begin with there are the difficulties of exactly translating ideas from one language to another. For example, the word for disgust in Chinese may have different connotations to  the English word disgust, or the English word disgust may have  different  shades of meaning for those who have English as a first language but who come from significantly different cultures, for example, a white Englishman and white Barbadian.

It is certainly true languages are not equal in their functionality. Consider the case of the Piraha, an Amazonian tribe with several hundred members. They have been in contact with Brazilian culture for two centuries or more, yet they display some very odd traits one of which is to have no sense of number? An American linguistic anthropologist Daniel Everett has studied them from 27 years. Apart from their innumeracy, Everett reports that “the Piraha is the only people known to have no distinct words for colours.

They have no written language, and no collective memory going back more than two generations. They don’t sleep for more than two hours at a time during the night or day. Even when food is available, they frequently starve themselves and their children… They communicate almost as much by singing, whistling and humming as by normal speech. They frequently change their names, because they believe spirits regularly take them over and intrinsically change who they are. They do not believe thatoutsiders understand their language even after they have just carried on conversations with them. They have no creation myths tell no fictional stories and have no art. All of their pronouns appear to be borrowed from a neighbouring language.” (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LA C/20040820NUMBERS20/TPScience/ – Friday, August 20, 2004)

The Piraha’s innumeracy is particularly interesting. ‘Their lack of numbering terms and skills is highlighted in a report by Columbia University cognitive psychologist Peter Gordon that appears today in Science. Intrigued by anecdotal reports that Prof. Everett and his wife Karen had presented about the matchlessness of Piraha life, Prof. Gordon conducted a number of experiments over a three-year period. He found that a group of male tribe members — women and children were not involved because of certain cultural taboos — could not perform the most elementary mathematical operations. When faced with a line of batteries and asked to duplicate the number they saw, the men could not get beyond two or three before starting to make mistakes. They had difficulty drawing straight lines to copy a number of lines they were presented with. They couldn’t remember which of two boxes had more or less fish symbols on it, even when they were about to be rewarded for their knowledge. A significant part of the difficulty related to their number-impoverished vocabulary. Although they would say one word to indicate a single thing and another for two things, those words didn’t necessarily mean one or two in any usual sense. “It is more like ones and twos,” ‘according to Gordon.

‘Prof. Gordon said the findings are perhaps the strongest evidence for a once largely discredited linguistic theory. More than 60 years ago, amateur linguist Benjamin Lee Whorf argued that learning a specific language determined the nature and content of how you think. That theory fell into intellectual disrepute after linguist Noam Chomsky’s notions of a universal human grammar and Harvard University professor Steven Pinker’s idea of a universal language instinct became widely accepted. “The question is, is there any case where not having words for something doesn’t allow you to think about it?” Prof. Gordon asked about the Piraha and the Whorfian thesis. “I think this is a case for just that.” Prof. Everett argues that what the Piraha casedemonstrates is a fundamental cultural principle working itself out in language and behaviour.’ (Ibid)

If the Whorfian theory is correct, or at least describes a quality which profoundly affects the way the world is perceived, other behavioural divisions between the various populations of Man must exist. (The ideas of a universal grammar and a universal language instinct are not necessarily incompatible with the idea that a particular language determines thought, for there could be a basic language template that is then altered by experience. Moreover, it is conceivable that natural selection creates subtle brain differences between populations to accommodate differences in language). To any Whorfian differences in populations may be added the vast differences in cultural expression, some of which could be laid at the door of linguistic determinism of thought.

 The political and social implications of the Glasgow research

Assuming the research is sound the implications are profound. The Glasgow researchers conclude “Our results question the universality of human facial expressions of emotion, highlighting their true complexity, with critical consequences for crosscultural communication and globalization.”

Just so. If human beings do not share a common understanding on such a basic level as the recognition of emotions the scope for inter-racial friction is vast. It would mean that multi-racial populations must be forever conglomerations of  racial groups estranged from one another to varying degrees. It would mean that  racial wars will  always remain a possibility and that the possibilities of such wars will be enhanced by the settlement of different races on the same territory.  It could cause  warfare between states dominated by different racial types if one or both  see those of their own racial type being, in their view, mistreated by the other state.

It could be objected that the Glasgow research does not show that there is no shared facial recognition  between the Whites and East Asians . East Asians recognised  happiness and sadness as efficiently as Whites  and even  in the case of fear, surprise, disgust and  anger they were correct two thirds of the time, (although it is telling that East Asians  made fewer mistakes when presented with East Asian faces).  The liberal searching for a light at the end of the racial difference tunnel would undoubtedly point to the fact that East Asians identified emotions in the same way as Whites most of the time and that this agreement between the races proved a common biological emotional template.

The problem with that argument is that identifying emotions wrongly  a third of the time is not a small margin of error. It would be  a severe handicap to any understanding between people of different races.

It is not that the research shows that  different races have nothing in common when it comes to recognising emotions from facial expressions,  it is the degree of difference which is impportant. An analogy could be made with IQ. Every race has some of whatever it is that  IQ tests  measure, but the distribution of IQ varies according to race with the descending hierarchy being East Asians-Whites -Blacks. (In addition, the shape of IQs varies between races with, for example,  on average  Whites  scoring higher on verbal tests and East Asians on  visual tests.)  These racial differences in IQ are extremely important at both the individual and group level because they affect the way individuals and nations perform. Low IQ equals poor life outcomes for individuals in any society and societies where the average IQ is low are invariably poor. Similarly, if substantial differences in the ability to recognise  emotions in others exist, that may have  substantial effects on how different races perform in both the organisation of societies in which they dominate and societies in which they are in a minority. The societies in which they dominate may need a structure which is inimical to intellectual  and technological development beyond a certain point. Living as part of a minority, being unable to connect on an emotional level with the majority of the people about you  population could be as much a life definer as a low IQ.

If similar racial differences exist in the ability to interpret language,  body language, tones of voice and so on the opportunities for racial misunderstanding will be multiplied and amplified.

The idea that people of different races do have considerable difficulty in not misunderstanding the intentions of other races is given credence by the strong propensity of human beings of the same race to live together when they have the choice and the  universal racial suspicion found in racially mixed societies. In short, in the real world human beings behave just as one would expect them to behave if  the findings of the Glasgow study are correct.

If the Glasgow study is replicated and more work is done demonstrating other  innate behavioural differences between races it would leave the present elite ideology of globalism in an intellectual mess . It would undermine utterly the liberal internationalist idea that  human beings are all of a piece and may be readily placed in any society.  That would not of course immediately cause the elites to throw up their hands and say we have been wrong, most grievously wrong, but over a generation or so the elite position could be changed by such academic research. .

Innate racial behavioural differences are of course not the sole  explanation for racial conflict – my other three favourite candidates are the simple brute need to occupy a territory to gain physical security and enjoy its resources,  the aesthetic sense which favours those who resemble the individual exercising the sense and the sociological pressures which arise from the need of any  social animal to maintain a viable group. Nonetheless, innate differences in behaviour must rank as a powerful driver of racial conflict.

Be cautious

The research needs to be treated with caution. As yet it has not been replicated and it is based on a very small sample.    However,    much research in the social  and biological sciences uses similarly small samples which are treated as legitimate . Moreover, the nature of what was being tested in this research – the recognition of  facial expressions and the controlled physical measurement of the mode of scanning faces –  plausibly allowed for objective data to be extracted, while   the judgements required of the  subjects involved nothing that is obviously contentious, for they were simply being asked to interpret facial expressions and, consequently, questions of moral or political bias did not arise, as they often do in socio-biological research. But even if a participant had wanted to produce a desired outcome in their particular case,  he or she  could not have done so without the collusion of  at least of one of the two participating racial groups.

Nonetheless, the small sample size is a problem because the racial groups are from  a few societies, most notably in the case of  the East Asians where 12 come from China and one from Japan. The research needs to be replicated,  ideally with substantially larger numbers of subjects , and with subjects should be drawn from a wide range of societies to test whether the differences are stable across cultures, for example, compare Japanese-Americans with Japanese natives or  white Englishmen with white Italians.

There is also the objection that viewing still images in an artificial environment  is entirely different from interpreting facial expressions when inter-acting with others in ordinary life. This is not strictly relevant to the question of whether different races adopt different scanning behaviour or have significant differences in their success in identifying emotions. The mental processes which allow identification of emotions will operate in the same fashion in any situation . Of course, in real-life situations there will be distractions not found under laboratory circumstances which may cause facial expressions to  be missed completely or not properly heeded because of a lack of concentration.   But that would say nothing directly about either the efficiency of  recognition or the method of scanning faces.  At worst, all real life situations might show is that the White and  East Asian methods of scanning faces and interpreting emotions  is differentially affected by the distractions of real life situations. For example, it could be that concentrating on the whole face requires more concentration than simply taking information from the eyes.  But there still remains the problem I have already mentioned, namely  that in real life situations human beings use multiple clues to judge the emotional state of someone else. The ability of different racial groups to perform using multiple behavioural clues could perhaps be tested by using film of people using the full range of behavioural clues and asking research subjects to evaluate the emotional state of the  person in the film.

 Further research

It would be interesting to see the same tests applied to other racial groups. As many racial genetic differences such as IQ distribution and testosterone levels place the three main human races in the order of black-white-East Asian, I think it probable that blacks would be more adept at facial expression recognition than Whites. This would plausibly fit in with their higher extroversion scores if it could be shown that ability at facial recognition is potent trigger for emotional displays. Blacks are  also probably better at interpreting other non-verbal behavioural cues.

In addition to replicating and expanding  the Glasgow team’s research, there is ample room for related work  such as studies of  the interpretation of  other non-verbal clues to emotional states such as body language and voice elements to see whether they also vary between racial groups.

Despite the slender nature of the evidence presently available, the  Glasgow research has what might be called the ring of plausibility.  There is clear evidence that there are behavioural differences between races which appear to be innate – the variation in IQ s between racial groups being the most famous – and many instances of objective physical biological difference, from the considerable  external  racial differences which anyone can see to the covert physiological differences such as sickle cell anaemia in West Coast Africans such as Nigerians.  That beings who have evolved such differences might well have followed different evolutionary paths in the matter of perceiving emotions does not seem inherently far-fetched, because, provided a behaviour has a genetic base, it will be subject to natural selection.

Notes

1 . Cultural Confusions Show Facial Expressions are Not Universal. It is published by Current Biology which charges for its articles. A free copy of the draft report can be found at http://www.psy.gla.ac.uk/docs/download.php?type=PUBLS&id=1201

2 The research paper uses Western Caucasian for White.

3 Thirteen Western Caucasian (13 European, 7 females) and 13 East Asian (12 Chinese, 1 Japanese, 8 females) observers participated (mean age = 24 years 5 months; 23 years 2 months, respectively).

3. To conclude that the genes have  no part to play in determining behaviour would imply that all  behaviour is the product of mind and that mind is somehow divorced from the physical body and consequently not subject to natural selection mediated through the genes.

Piers Morgan and Operation Elveden – an approach to the new DPP

Alison Saunders DPP

Rose Court

2 Southwark Bridge

London

SE1 9HS

Tel: 020 3357 0000

CC

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe (Met Commissioner)

Det Chief Superintendent Alaric Bonthron

(Head of the Metropolitan Police’s Directorate of Professional Standards)

Commander Neil Basu (Head of Operation Elveden)

Detective Inspector Daniel Smith (Operation Elveden)

John Whittingdale MP

George Eustice MP

John Whittingdale MP

Sir Gerald Howarth MP

mark.lewis@thlaw.co.uk

5 November 2013

Dear Ms Saunders,

In your role of Chief Crown Prosecutor (London)  I have been copying you into the correspondence relating to my complaints  against Piers Morgan and others which I made to Operation Elveden  in January 2013. I now write to you in your new role of DPP.

To recap. I have presented Elveden with  a prosecution on a plate. I have supplied Elveden with a letter from Morgan to the PCC when he was editor of the Daily Mirror. In it  he admits receiving information from the Met Police in circumstances which can only have been illegal. In that letter Morgan writes “The police source of our article (whose identity we have a moral obligation to protect…”.  A facsimile of the letter is attached. I would be willing to stake my life on that being the only letter the Met have ever had which has a Fleet Street editor admitting to illegally receiving information from a Met officer.

My complaint has been in the hands of Elveden for over nine months,  while  Det Chief Superintendent   Bonthron has been sitting on the complaint for several months.   I have not heard from him since 23 September.

I am asking you to intervene because  we are in who shall guard the guards territory here.  The police are ignoring cast iron complaints and their only plausible motive for  doing so is the power and influence of those accused.  I would welcome a meeting with you to discuss the matter.

The complete correspondence relating to my complaints is below.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Henderson

I received no reply to this email

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Ms Alison Saunders DPP

Rose Court

2 Southwark Bridge

London

SE1 9HS

Tel: 020 3357 0000

 

CC

Mr Dominic Grieve (Attorney-General)

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe (Met Commissioner)

Det Chief Superintendent Alaric Bonthron

(Head of the Metropolitan Police’s Directorate of Professional Standards)

Commander Neil Basu (Head of Operation Elveden)

Detective Inspector Daniel Smith (Operation Elveden)

John Whittingdale MP

George Eustice MP

Sir Gerald Howarth MP

mark.lewis@thlaw.co.uk

 

9 December  2013

 

Dear Ms Saunders,

I wrote to your predecessor Keir Starmer on 25 July (copy below) asking him to intervene in Operation Elveden’s  failure to investigate rock solid evidence which I had supplied to them in January of serious crimes ranging from  the illegal supply of information by a Met Police officer or officers to the Daily Mirror when Piers Morgan was editor to perjury, misconduct in a public office and a perversion of the course of justice.

On 16 August Gregor McGill,  Head of Organised Crime Division of the CPS replied “ The CPS has no power to instruct the police to carry out an investigation. That is a decision entirely within the discretion of the police.” A copy of his letter is below.

I did not believe that answer at the time and a case has arisen which contradicts Mr McGill.  In December Acting Detective Constable Hannah Notley was convicted and jailed for four months for failing to investigate a claim of rape. Action  was only pursued by the police after a third party (not the police)  approached the CPS directly.  The Daily telegraph article directly below contains the details.

My complaints against Piers Morgan et al have suffered the same fate. I have submitted cast iron evidence to Operation Elveden which has not been acted upon.  Consequently, once again I ask you to take up this case and ensure that my complaints of serious crimes are investigated fully. I also seek a meeting with you to discuss the matter  because it has implications which extend beyond my complaints, namely, the seeming willingness of those within the police and justice system , including the CPS, to deliberately suppress complaints which involve those with power, wealth and influence.

I have been copying you into the complete correspondence surrounding the case , both in your previous role as Chief Crown Prosecutor (London) and  as DPP. Hence, you should have the full picture available to you.  If for some reason you have not kept details, please tell me by return and I will supply you with the complete correspondence relating  to the affair.

I have attached the Piers Morgan letter in facsimile in which he admits receiving information from a Metropolitan Police Officer  in circumstances which can only have been illegal. I do this because it is the most dramatic and readily accessible piece of evidence in the whole affairs. That Operation Elveden have not acted on such clear evidence long ago tells you something is seriously amiss.

Yours sincerely,

 

Robert Henderson

 

Daily Telegraph

Detective jailed after failing to investigate alleged rape

Acting Detective Constable Hannah Notley never submitted papers on the case to the Crown Prosecution Service

By Rosa Silverman, and agencies

2:32PM GMT 06 Dec 2013

An alleged rape victim attempted suicide after a detective failed to properly investigate her claims and told her the case was being dropped, a court has heard.

Acting Detective Constable Hannah Notley, 30, visited the woman at her home in February last year and told her she was “gutted” about the apparent decision by the Crown Prosecution Service not to bring a prosecution.

Everyone in the office believed her, she said, and even gave the woman a kiss and a hug.

But in fact Notley, a specialist trained in handling cases involving sexual offences, had never submitted the papers on the case to the CPS.

Instead, she fabricated a report to her superiors and failed to correct an assumption that the case had been investigated and passed on to prosecutors.

She also blamed the alleged victim for taking too long to report the allegations.

In April 2012, after an independent representative supporting the alleged victim contacted the CPS, Notley finally confessed, and last month admitted a single charge of misconduct in a public office.

The Essex Police detective was found to have committed a “gross breach of trust” in neglecting to look into the rape claim between July 6, 2011 and February 21 last year while based at Rayleigh Police Station.

She was jailed for four months at Southwark Crown Court today.

 

read more at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/10500744/Detective-jailed-after-failing-to-investigate-alleged-rape.html

————————————————————————————————-

 

—– Forwarded Message —–

From: Enquiries <enquiries@cps.gsi.gov.uk>

To: “‘anywhere156@yahoo.co.uk'” <anywhere156@yahoo.co.uk>

Sent: Friday, 13 December 2013, 13:39

Subject: Re: Operation Elveden

Dear Mr Henderson,

Thank you for your email of 5 November 2013.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is responsible for reviewing and, where appropriate, prosecuting most criminal cases in England and Wales , following an investigation by the police. The CPS has no power to investigate allegations of crime and will only advise the police if a police file is submitted to it. It is for the police to decide whether or not, or how, they will investigate an allegation that is referred to them.

I note your dissatisfaction with the way the police have handled your concerns. If you wish to complain about the police you should contact the complaints and discipline department of the relevant police force.  You can also write to the Independent Police Complaints Commission at 90 High Holborn, London , WC1V 6BH .

I hope that this information is of assistance and I apologise for the delay in responding to your enquiry.

Yours sincerely

 

 

Parliamentary and Complaints Unit

Public Accountability and Inclusion Directorate

Crown Prosecution Service

Rose Court, 2 Southwark Bridge, London SE1 9HS

http://www.cps.gov.uk

——————————————————————————————————

Alison Saunders DPP

Rose Court

2 Southwark Bridge

London

SE1 9HS

Tel: 020 3357 0000

 

CC

Mr Dominic Grieve (Attorney-General)

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe (Met Commissioner)

Det Chief Superintendent Alaric Bonthron

(Head of the Metropolitan Police’s Directorate of Professional Standards)

Commander Neil Basu (Head of Operation Elveden)

Detective Inspector Daniel Smith (Operation Elveden)

John Whittingdale MP

George Eustice MP

Sir Gerald Howarth MP

mark.lewis@thlaw.co.uk

 

17 December  2013

 

Dear Ms Saunders,

You will find below the CPS’ answer to my email to you of 9 December (not 5 December). The first thing to note is it has no name attached. That would not be acceptable in any state  agency.  It is particularly reprehensible in one which is at the heart of the justice system.

The second angering thing about the email is this:

”The CPS has no power to investigate allegations of crime and will only advise the police if a police file is submitted to it. It is for the police to decide whether or not, or how, they will investigate an allegation that is referred to them.”

As I supplied a recent example where the CPS did intervene after being approached by a third party following the failure to bring a charge of rape,  the claim that the CPS cannot instruct the police is demonstrably false. This is what I wrote in my previous email:

“In December Acting Detective Constable Hannah Notley was convicted and jailed for four months for failing to investigate a claim of rape. Action  was only pursued by the police after a third party (not the police)  approached the CPS directly.  The Daily Telegraph article directly below contains the details.” (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/10500744/Detective-jailed-after-failing-to-investigate-alleged-rape.html).

I want you (yes, that you Ms Saunders) to explain to me why so  blatant a piece of police misconduct as the failure to investigate Piers Morgan after I supplied the police with a letter written by Morgan in which he admits receiving information from the police in circumstances which can only have been illegal does not warrant the same action by the CPS as that taken in the case involving Hannah Notley.  Please write to me with your explanation by return.

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Robert Henderson

——————————————————————————————————-

Click on the tag Operation Elveden for previous posts related to this story

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