Skip to content

London’s air quality is getting better, not worse


Do you think London’s air quality is better or worse than 20 years ago? Most people would answer “worse”, but they would be wrong. London’s air quality, though bad, has been getting steadily better. The average concentration of particles 10 microns or smaller (known as PM10) is about 20 per cent less than it was 20 years ago and the average concentration of nitrogen dioxide is 30 per cent less.

Matt Ridley

Source: Dash for gas could solve the diesel crisis | Comment | The Times & The Sunday Times

Posted in Uncategorized.

Moore on diversity

“If we really cared about diversity, we would honour the difference between past and present, not erode it.”

Source: What Vladimir Putin said to the Eton boys

Posted in Quotes.


Last year in Venezuela, imports collapsed by more than 50 per cent and the economy nosedived by 19 per cent. The budget deficit is around 20 per cent of GDP. Market distortions mean petrol is sold locally for less than one penny per litre. The country has a complex monetary arrangement that makes use of three different exchange rates simultaneously, feeding  rampant corruption: the President’s cronies can buy dollars from the state at ten bolivars a dollar but sell them at 3,300 bolivars a dollar on the black market. Price controls have made it unprofitable for small businesses to sell staple goods, leading to widespread shortages. Carjackings and kidnappings are now epidemic. Caracas’s murder rate is 80 times higher than

Source: Britain under Corbyn? Just look at Venezuela

Posted in Uncategorized.

How best to oppose Trump

Trump’s opponents will go wrong if they overlook his real failings in order to keep insisting he is a fascist. It would be an unusual fascist who wanted smaller government and less military intervention abroad


Source: Trump has his enemies just where he likes them

Posted in Politics, Trump, US politics.

Business rates

Two takes on the increase in business rates:

Martin vander Weyer in the Spectator says that the idea that it can be defended because it is revenue neutral is bunkum. He writes, “a smarter calculation of ‘revenue neutrality’ would take account of profits generated, jobs created and benefits unclaimed in thriving towns and high streets. On that basis, the Treasury would be better off if there were no rises in business rates anywhere.”

But Tim Worstall on Cap-X believes that the increases make sense and the market should dictate: people who use less land, and less expensive land, should pay less tax than people who use more and more expensive. He believes we’re not converting empty pubs to houses and shops because of business rates, but because those alternative uses are more valued by the market in the first place.

Source: London Stock Exchange picked the wrong year for a pan-European merger and Why the Government is right to tax the high street

Posted in Britain, Issues, Politics.

Tagged with .

Don’t be a snowflake

John Stuart Mill diagnosed what today’s “snowflakes”, focused on no-platforming people who have views other than their own, are missing.

In On Liberty, he wrote: “The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.”

Source: Students can’t be allowed to curb free speech | Comment | The Times & The Sunday Times

Posted in Britain, Politics, Quotes.

The alliance of the feminist left with Islam cannot last – Matt Ridley

One of the most surprising features of the modern world is the degree to which the left is making common cause with any religion, let alone one that is so dominated by socially conservative opinion and so frequently associated with discrimination against women and homosexuals.

Islamophobia is as great a crime as transphobia in the student world, and a greater one than criticism of Christianity or Judaism. You can mock Mormons all you like, and make a musical out of it, but woe betide you if you mock the Koran.

Consider the case of two women who have criticised each other recently. Guess which one has been no-platformed?

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a Somali-born champion of women’s rights who suffered genital mutilation; escaped an arranged marriage by seeking asylum in Holland; left Islam; became a Dutch MP; and wrote a film whose director was murdered by an Islamist, the killer leaving a note pinned to his victim’s chest warning her that she would be next. She calls for an Islamic reformation.

Linda Sarsour is a hijab-wearing Muslim who defends Sharia, was one of the organisers of the Women’s March after Mr Trump’s inauguration and has since deleted a tweet in which she said she wished that she could “take away” Ms Hirsi Ali’s vagina.

In reply, Ms Hirsi Ali wrote: “There’s no principle that demeans, degrades and dehumanises women more than the principle of Sharia law. Linda Sarsour is a defender of that.”

Yet it was, incredibly, Ms Hirsi Ali who in 2014 was disinvited from receiving an honorary degree by Brandeis University. The episode revealed a deliberate attempt to portray criticism of Islam as equivalent to criticism of women or minorities.

Few feminists spoke up for her. “The concern,” blathered one, “is that her intervention into the issue of gender equality in Muslim societies will strengthen racism rather than weaken sexism.”

This alliance of the feminist left with Islam cannot last. Mr Trump’s crass travel ban may have breathed new life into it, but the tensions are growing and the audiences for the likes of Milo Yiannopoulos with them.

Matt Ridley

Source: Students can’t be allowed to curb free speech | Comment | The Times & The Sunday Times

Posted in Britain, Issues, Politics.

Scotland, Brexit, and nightclubs

[Arguing that Scotland voted to stay in and would vote the same way if it knew that England was not going to stay in with it] is like saying that if four of five friends on a night out decide to go to a restaurant and the fifth expresses a wish to go clubbing, the person who disagreed would have wanted to go to the night club had she been on her own – or, even less likely, have left her friends to go to the club by herself.

Source: With Brexit negotiations beginning soon, we must challenge the myth that Britain remains a divided country | BrexitCentral

Posted in Britain, Europe, Politics, Uncategorized.

Bannon, by Gove

Bannon’s success has guaranteed him pride of place in the demonology of the liberal left and he’s been accused of every form of hate speech of which mankind is capable, including antisemitism. That allegation sits incongruously, to say the least, with his close personal friendship and political alliance with Kushner, who is an observant Orthodox Jew and a staunch Zionist. In person, Bannon is disconcertingly charming and he is clearly intellectually wide-ranging in his thinking, but for most in Washington his views, and his role in the Trump triumph, make him an irredeemably sulphurous character.

Michael Gove, in The Times

Source: What I found behind Trump’s showy façade | Times2 | The Times & The Sunday Times

Posted in Politics, Uncategorized, US politics.

How different is Donald Trump, really?

A number of articles are pulling out examples of Donald Trump’s similarities with past Presidents, rather than differences.

Here is the Spectator’s James Forsyth:

Imagine if Donald Trump declared that Islam had ‘no place’ in his country, or proposed banning the burqa ‘wherever legally possible’. There wouldn’t be enough space in Trafalgar Square for all the protestors. British ministers would be forced to the Commons to make clear their disagreement with the President of the United States. And there would be millions more signatures on the petition demanding that his state visit invitation be rescinded.The Trump White House, of course, hasn’t said either of these things. They are the on-the-record positions of two heads of governments in the EU. Robert Fico, prime minister of Slovakia, has declared that Islam has no place in his country, while Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, wants the burqa banned wherever possible. It is a striking feature of British politics that we care more about statements by the US President than those of the leaders of the countries with whom we have been in ‘ever closer union’ for 40-odd years.

This is a piece I read on Reaction, by Tim Marshall, which you can also find on his own blog:

Imagine the outrage if an American President slammed his predecessor for being too soft on immigration.

Imagine he said he was signing an Executive Order ‘to reverse years of neglect at the border’.

He goes on to praise the fact that under his leadership ‘We are deporting record numbers of criminals and other deportable aliens ‘and talks about a tide of illegal immigration.

To stem the tide his Executive Order strengthens the laws which prevent Federal contracts from going to businesses that knowingly hire illegal workers, after all, as he says ‘American jobs belong to American workers’ and he is ‘…determined to restore the rule of law to our Nation’s immigration system’.

Well, by now you might already be organizing your protest. You’d be a bit late mind, given that those were the actions of President Bill Clinton in 1996.

And here is Niall Ferguson in the Sunday Times two weeks later:

The president has declared war on the press. He cannot forgive the media for saying the crowd at his inauguration was small. He is even picking fights with a comedy show. His press secretary is a laughing stock. Worse, the president is trying to pick and choose between news outlets, excluding some from briefings. And he is trying to deflect criticism by accusing his predecessor of having tapped his telephone.

These are among the many, many things journalists like to say are “unprecedented” about the administration of President Donald Trump. Yet all the things I have just written could equally well have been written about Richard Nixon’s administration.

In 1969 The Washington Post reported that Nixon’s inaugural crowd was “far smaller and at times less enthusiastic than the 1.2m” that had turned out for Lyndon Johnson in 1965. Nixon scrawled in the margins of his news report the next day: “The press is the enemy.” Sound familiar?

Early in his first 100 days, Nixon also picked a fight with a show that made fun of him, the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. And his press secretary, Ron Ziegler, was despised by Washington journalists. After his first news conference, Nixon sent a memo demanding, “on an urgent basis”, a list of those in the White House press corps who were against him.

Source: What No. 10 has learned about dealing with the Donald, and King Donald picks fights but the real power lies in a house elsewhere

Posted in Politics, Trump, US politics.

No Bland advice, this

Christopher Bland, who has died, taught people ‘always to make a decision: however difficult, never dither. Of course you might get it wrong sometimes. But if you’re any good at your job, you’ll far more often be right.’

As Martin Vander Weyer points out, it’s remarkable how many people rise to the top without learning to apply that simple rule.

Source: Trump vs British banks

Posted in Quotes, Uncategorized.

Your view of a policy depends on who is promoting it…


Shortly before the 2012 presidential election, a senior figure in the British intelligence community was asked who he wanted to win. He said he was praying for Obama: if Mitt Romney won and simply continued Obama’s drone strikes, there would be tens of thousands demonstrating in London and questions asked in Parliament about how exactly the UK was assisting.

Source: James Forsyth, What No. 10 has learned about dealing with the Donald

Posted in Issues, Politics, Quotes.

Four stats about land and food

The area of land required to produce a given quantity of food is now just a third of what it was in 1960, thanks to technology.

It is estimated that we will need less land — by an area bigger than India — to feed the nine billion people of 2050 than we need to feed seven billion today.

In Japan, a single robot-operated shed harvests more lettuces a day (30,000), grown under LED lights without pesticides and with minimal use of water and power, than a lettuce farm of 300 acres normally produces.

Less than 2.5 per cent of England and just 1 per cent of Britain is built on

Source: Brexit will boost our green and pleasant land | Comment | The Times & The Sunday Times

Posted in Britain, Issues, Politics, Stats.

Tagged with , , .

EU trade agreements, compared.

The aggregate GDP in 2015 of the 55 countries with an EU agreement was $7.7 trillion.

The aggregate GDP of all the countries with which Switzerland had agreements was $39.8 trillion.

For Chile the figure was $58.3 trillion, for South Korea $40.8 trillion, and for Singapore $38.7 trillion.

90 per cent of the agreements those four countries had negotiated included services, whereas only 68 per cent of EU agreements did so.

Source: Britain’s Brexit fuse is burning dangerously short – Reaction

Posted in Europe, Politics, Stats, Uncategorized.

That’s one description…

Justin Webb on Donald Trump:

“A man who is deeply discomforting for anyone who values predictability or dependability.”

Source: The PM can make Trump begin to face reality | Comment | The Times & The Sunday Times

Posted in Quotes, Trump, US politics.

Burke on protests

Our patience will achieve more than our force.

Edmund Burke



Source: Are the anti-Trump protesters onto something? – Reaction

Posted in Quotes.

Matt Ridley on productivity and energy

Productivity is one of Britain’s problems, but in the vital energy sector policies are making things worse not better by forcing in technologies such as wind and solar that are of low productivity and whose intermittency harms the overall productivity of the electricity sector. That is dangerous. If we learn anything from the Industrial Revolution it is that improvements in energy sector productivity are the elixir of growth, while a massively over-capitalised system of low productivity, like the one we are now building, will lead to national poverty.

Source: May must be brave enough not to meddle | Comment | The Times & The Sunday Times

Posted in Britain, Politics, Quotes.

A reason to be positive about Trump’s picks

To put it mildly, Mr Trump’s billionaire plutocrats are unlikely to lack self-confidence, though by their age, it should be tempered by experience. When these characters speak, they expect to be heard and take it for granted that they will be worth hearing. If the new President wants an echo-chamber, he has chosen the wrong people.

Bruce Anderson

Source: Pray for the US under President Trump – Reaction

Posted in Quotes, Trump, US politics.

Explaining Trump

Bruce Anderson’s take on explaining Trump is one of the most succinct I have come across.

Since President Nixon, the liberals having been struggling to retain their reputation for patriotism and their appeal to the middle ground. Because of Watergate, Nixon made a false start. Reagan quickly picked up the baton. Roosevelt Democrats became Reagan Democrats. Today, Liberalism has almost become a dirty word, its patriotism constantly impugned, appealing only to elites and minorities, with nothing to say to the flag-saluting ordinary joe who wants the sort of job that his father would have taken for granted.

The average American worker and his wife are worried: they would like their kids to go to college to quip themselves for the new jobs, but where is the money to come from? To cheer them up, the TV news is full of stories about rich kids at Harvard or Yale – or Carnegie-Mellon – demanding lavatory ‘rights’ for transgender students. It is easy to see why people like the Hard-hats feel nothing in common with contemporary American liberalism. It is also easy to understand why they hate Hillary Clinton.

Source: Pray for the US under President Trump – Reaction

Posted in Quotes, Trump, US politics.

Scotland: protesting the loss of a hand by cutting off your other arm?

If leaving the EU is, as Sturgeon says, an act of extraordinary economic self-harm, then leaving the UK must be like protesting the loss of a hand by cutting off your other arm and, just for good measure, a leg too. Scotland sells four times as much to the rest of the UK as it does to the EU.

Alex Massie

Source: A second Scottish referendum is now an inevitability – CapX

Posted in Britain, Europe, Politics, Quotes.

Muslim opinion poll

A 2007 book from the Gallup press, Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think, based on a poll of over 50,000 Muslims in 10 countries, found that 7 percent of Muslims deem the 9/11 attacks “completely justified,” 13.5 percent consider the attacks completely or “largely justified,” and 36.6 percent consider the attacks completely, largely, or “somewhat justified.

Source: Smoking Out Islamists via Extreme Vetting :: Middle East Quarterly

Posted in Issues, Stats.

Why it’s wrong to say Brexit has divided Britain

Ever since the EU referendum, the myth of a divided country has been sustained by a self-appointed elite that has been unable to accept that ordinary working people decided to defy them and to vote to leave the EU. 

Both sides held not opposing interests but opposing views in the same manner as any collective of individuals faced with a major decision as to its future. In any collective, a division of opinion on major issues invariably occurs, be it in a family on whether the Christmas bonus should be spent on a holiday abroad or saved for the kids’ university education; in a trade union whether to take strike action to secure a wage increase; or for that matter in society at large on who to vote for in a general election.

The opposing sides may have different opinions, but they have the same common interest: the family, the trade union members and the country respectively.

Source: With Brexit negotiations beginning soon, we must challenge the myth that Britain remains a divided country | BrexitCentral

Posted in Britain, Europe, Politics.

Why Trump can do what he likes

Trump’s ascent to the presidency involved beating not only all of his Republican rivals, but upending the assumptions of the entire political establishment — columnists and consultants, funders and favour-mongers — so he is beholden to none of the traditional Washington power centres. That, alongside a Republican majority in House and Senate, gives him almost unprecedented freedom of manoeuvre.

Michael Gove

Source: What I found behind Trump’s showy façade | Times2 | The Times & The Sunday Times

Posted in Politics, Quotes, Trump, US politics.

Immigration numbers

Last year a record 650,000 people arrived to live in the UK: 284,000 from the EU but even more — 289,000 — from elsewhere (plus 77,000 returning British nationals).

Source: Brexit won’t give us control of immigration | Comment | The Times & The Sunday Times

Posted in Britain, Immigration, Politics, Stats.

How Trump underachieved his party

As is Tweeted by Democrats on an almost hourly basis, Donald Trump lost the popular vote to Mrs Clinton by three million or so votes. What isn’t Tweeted so much by the Left is that Congressional Republicans beat Congressional Democrats in the national popular vote by about two million.

Although the electoral landscapes are different and comparisons of the presidential and congressional tallies is somewhat simplistic, we are looking at a five million vote gap between what Trump achieved and what more conventional Republicans achieved. Furthermore, with one or two exceptions, nearly all Republican Senate candidates got bigger wins in key states than Trump.

Tim Montgomerie

Source: Trump told America what it wanted to hear – CapX

Posted in Quotes, Stats, Trump, US politics.

How May’s approach to European negotiation differs from Cameron’s

David Cameron’s approach was to take Britain’s existing arrangements with the European Union as a baseline, and then seek to adjust them: to start close, and try to get some distance. Theresa May’s is to start with the kind of relationship she wants to get to, and work backwards from there: to take complete separation as the baseline, and rebuild what connections we can where we can.

Robert Colville

Source: At last, we know what Brexit means – CapX

Posted in Britain, Europe, Politics, Quotes.

Is America an ally or a partner?

Obama administration officials have seemed to eschew the word “ally”, preferring the term “partners” instead. An ally is a country who sends sons and daughters to die on your battlefields. A partner is someone you do deals with. There’s a big difference.

Edward Lucas

Source: Obama leaves the world a more dangerous place – CapX

Posted in Politics, Quotes, US politics.

Career politicians

Only 21 MPs elected in 1979 were career politicians with little outside experience; by 2015 the number had risen to 205.

Source: Let’s say good riddance to career politicians | Comment | The Times & The Sunday Times

Posted in Britain, Politics, Stats, Trivia.

Tagged with .

Brexit in history

When the history of this decade comes to be written, we may conclude that in voting to leave the European Union as it drifts towards the economic and political rocks, Britain has averted rather than experienced a populist revolution and the election of a demagogue. We have prevented the installation of a British Trump, or — for that matter — Farage.

Matt Ridley

Source: Britain must carry the torch for free trade | Comment | The Times & The Sunday Times

Posted in Britain, Europe, Politics, Quotes.

The aging population

In 2015 there were three times as many people aged over 85 as there were in 1990.

Source: Desperate NHS needs a desperate remedy | Comment | The Times & The Sunday Times

Posted in Britain, Politics, Stats.