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I have written the following to my Brexit Party Representatives in the European Parliament. At the heart of parliamentary democracy is the idea that our representatives do indeed represent the interests of their constituents, regardless of Party politics. Of course interests have to be balanced but when these are win-win, there can be no reason for not representing a particular interest. As the matter is not a personal one, then I have also put it on my blog, since there is no reason for secrecy.

I will, of course, post any further correspondence, unless it is confidential for some reason.

“Dear Ms Fox (& cc’ed to Mr Nielsen and Mr Bull)

I am writing to you as one of your constituents regarding an issue which affects me personally and the region. As a University Professor I have over the years been awarded research funds from various Framework Programmes. Most recently, I am part of the €4M FET-OPEN programme “ArrestAD”. This aims to test a new paradigm for Alzheimer’s Disease screening and lay the foundation for a new class of drugs that would arrest the disease.

FET-OPEN projects are very much blue skies and in our case we appear to have hit the jackpot. The trials of the diagnostic in Paris and Warsaw  are quite spectacular and our own work has shown that the targets which ArrestAD has proposed are eminently druggable.

ArrestAD is a 4 year programme. As in any blue skies research, towards the end of the penultimate year a decision is made by the research team whether we should apply for a new, larger project, under one of the translational programmes available under H2020, or to can the idea, in the event it isn’t going to deliver.

Since ArrestAD is delivering its promise, the team will be going forward and applying for a translational programme. This will involve further clinical centres and greater industry participation, since we need more patients and, for drug development, far greater resource.

Alzheimer’s being what it is, ArrestAD obviously impacts widely and not just on myself: there are substantial social and economic ramifications for our region, the UK, and beyond.

The problem we face is that with a so-called No Deal Brexit, the UK loses access to funding from H2020 and the future framework programme. There is no  legislation in the UK Parliament that would guarantee funding as a 3rdcountry. The upshot is that Brexit will prevent my continued contribution to this likely life-changing research programme. Importantly, it will prevent the UK from reaping economic benefit (clinical trials, pharmaceutical industry).

As my representative in the European Parliament, it is imperative that you work to find a solution, which ensures that the drug development arm of this project remains based in the UK, and that the UK is able to participate fully in the wider clinical trials of the diagnostic. I think you would agree that given the impact of this dreadful disease, this is in everyone’s interests.”

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For those who follow the news, though helium is rather common in the solar system, it is rare on earth. The shortages were predicted some years ago, and were put off only by the Pentagon agreeing to put some of its strategic reserve into the market.

We now face the first self-inflicted shortage: helium is now rationed in the UK. Self-inflicted, because we waste it, e.g., balloons and no recovery of the gas at point of use. This of course is all down to cost, and testimony, in a small way, to the failure of applying market principles across the board without any strategic consideration.

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We now have two UKIP parties, UKIP led by Batten, and The Brexit Party led by Farage. They and their MEPs rarely turn up for work yet collect a big fat salary.

There is ONLY ONE WAY to stop these freeloaders getting a fat salary for no work: vote for someone else.

How to get rid of these scum

  1. Register to vote and go and vote (MEP elections will follow the Council ones).
  2. Check that 10 of your mates are registered and that they go and vote on the day.
  3. Make sure each of your 10 mates gets 10 of their mates out.

That way we get a result.

Who to vote for? Anyone, but not UKIP or The Brexit Party.

Why will this work?

The elections to the European parliament are by proportional representation. That means each party is allocated seats according to the % of the vote they get.

This is completely different to how we elect Councillor sand MPs, where the candidate with the most votes in a ward/constituency gets elected, regardless of the % of the vote a party gets across all constituencies in the country.

Core  UKIP voters vote anyway. The reason UKIP gets MEPs is because the rest of us cannot be bothered to turn up and vote. So there are less votes in total and the UKIP % is inflated accordingly. The more of us vote, the lower their %, the fewer MEPs they get. It is that simple.

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As the UK political class is consumed by Brexit and that in the US by the Mueller investigation, things are happening in the world.  Chatting with my brother on the ‘phone this weekend I was amazed to hear that Vancouver has been hit by wildfire smog. So I checked the map. Yes, BC is on fire.

While logging doesn’t help, drought is a major contributor. The coastal ranges of BC where there have been substantial fires are a wet place, a temperate rainforest. These don’t catch fire easily unless it doesn’t rain.

Look south of the border and the entire west is on fire.

It would be wise to act vigorously before it is too late. Brexit here has a major lesson. No country can go it alone and maintain its current level of civilisation and development, we are too interdependent. Alone, you lack many key ingredients that we take for granted, from medicines to electronics, because these are by necessity made (or parts are) somewhere else. The super rich buying up properties in New Zealand as a bolt hole against the catastrophe that is global warming are rich and stupid in equal measure: New Zealand may be ‘safe’ physically, but have they considered where the factories making their medication is? No.

While some politicians in some countries take this seriously, it isn’t where it should be on the agenda – in top spot, with a regular broadcast in the news of CO2 production, as one can get for electricity generation (just one source of greenhouse gases) in the UK for @myGridGB. The reason why this has not happened yet is not one of science communication, but one of corruption and an unwillingness of government to lead.

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Silence is not golden


Today the TUC and CBI, who are not usual bedfellows to say the least, came out once again stating what a disaster Brexit will be for workers and business, respectively.

What we could call the government’s ‘risk management’ documents are now in the public domain and they make grim reading.

Meanwhile, much of the UK press continues to harp on about sunny Brexit uplands. There is no political opposition. So-called conservative rebels are all playing politics and vying for position (with the exception of Ken Clarke). Her Majesty’s opposition does the same. Opposition is provided by the TUC, CBI and individuals, which last time I checked is not how a Parliamentary democracy is meant to function.

Interactions in the necessarily limited (in terms of numbers and types of people) Twitter community demonstrate the predicament we are in.

The Grim Leavers, continue to duck all the evidence, though their numbers seem to be reduced and they are largely confined to ad hominem. They go quiet the moment issues of funding the Leave campaign are raised.

Conservative ministers and MPs duck and dive, often block on Twitter. In the few interviews where they are challenged or at a Parliamentary Select Committee their performance is so poor that in any other employment their employer would likely sack them on the spot.

Core Corbyn supporters, and Labour MPs in general, fail to acknowledge the challenge that Brexit will make the Labour manifesto impossible to deliver and go quiet on this question. Waiting for the Conservative Party to destroy itself only works if you have taken a diametrically opposite position. The Labour Party have not.

The Labour party and many of its members also seem not to understand the difference between income and wealth. The latter is not taxed and can only be taxed as part of a large economic bloc. Social progress is impossible without tackling wealth inequality and income tax cannot reduce this.

So we are here:

1. We don’t have any English political leaders in the two largest parties, the other two parties are too small to make a parliamentary impact.

2. In the absence of leadership, I see little political appetite to revoke the Article 50 notification.

3. One interpretation is that May is giving the Brexiteers enough rope to hang themselves, one task they are excelling at, and then will reverse Article 50 notification. This is wishful thinking, her track record on immigration against all the evidence, suggests that immigration is a key driver for her and one reason why as a Remainer, she has become a Brexiter. Immigration is what defines her as a politician, she is after all the architect of the Windrush scandal. So she has no ‘cunning plan’ and will not revoke Article 50.

4. Brexit is likely to happen, because the UK has done nothing about the Irish Border or the rights of EU citizens in the UK. Brexit will be the disaster predicted before the referendum. A second referendum is possible, but would require a parliamentary majority, unlikely given Parliament’s track record on Brexit and the lack of evidence-based thinking on show.

5. Any transition will require the UK to actually put something sensible on the table rather than tabloid rhetoric. With just seven months to go, there is no sign of anything remotely sensible.

6. Hard times are likely post Brexit – on a scale not seen since the 1930s.

7. The assumption that we can post Brexit re-apply for membership successfully is no more than a guess. I can see a scenario where re-joining the EU will require very major concessions on Gibraltar, Schengen and all our other opt outs, including the financial ones. It is also quite possible that we are not let back in at all, because the continued asset stripping of the UK (people and business) effectively exports unemployment from the EU27 to the UK and boosts their employment and economies. An economy heading south is not a very attractive proposition, when you can do trade deals with, say, ASEAN, whose middle classes outnumber the entire UK population by several fold.

 

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Cold Calls


Cold calls

Still get these, always remind me of the Fonejacker sketch on ‘internet service providings‘.

 

Today’s was on Life Insurance

Call 1 from 07679 547 3865

Me: “I don’t have life insurance”

Them: “Thank you I will get our main office to call” then hang up

 

Call 2 from 029 2168 0599

Them: Life insurance, blah, blah, blah”

Me “I don’t have life insurance’

Them: hang up.

 

Phone carefully switched off after each call, of course.

 

Had I had more time, I would have gone along and requested insurance for not having a life or something similar.

The most aggressive in my experience are the car crash insurance scam, who kept calling me a while back. Having some spare time at home when they called I decided to admit to having had a number of recent car crashes. Unfortunately, when I mentioned the number, 1000, they decided I was not serious and hung up. Must have got a black mark against my name, as they never called again.

 

Double glazing? Happily for them I live in a house with no windows, seems to work every time.

 

New kitchen? I live in a tent.

 

Problem with my windows computer? I ask about how one can remove viruses effectively from… …glass.

 

One can of course try to block them, but they always come back and it seems to pay to spin them along with something literal/fantastic.

 

On a more serious note, such scams need a real deterrent in law, because there is always one fool. After all, some years ago we received an e-mail from one of the managerial departments in the Univeristy soliciting interest in PhD students funded by the Nigerian Petroleum Board. So far so good. Reading the short description of the funding, research expenses were a miserable $3 million. The fact that such rubbish was forwarded to academic staff angered some colleagues, though my view was don’t get out of bed for less than $100 million.

 

The good news is that Fonejacker style replies will definitely get you blocked for a year or two, and it is quite entertaining.

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An entirely predictable change


Past UK governments worked hard to bring the EBA and EMA to London, because of their knock on value to the wider economy, and two sectors in which the UK has some weight. The genius of Brexit has resulted today in the obvious: both are leaving London. The EMA goes to Amsterdam and the EBA to Paris.

I still wait for:

(1) A single piece of evidence that Brexit will provide the UK with opportunities.

(2) An admission of error from those who have publicly stated that the EMA and EBA would not be leaving London. Perhaps David Davis might step up first?

 

 

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