The Optimistic Columnist Profile picture
Former Sage. Not ascetic. Best years far behind him. Owner of the legend Felix the Dog. Lives in Paris. Creative writing MA. Poetry, prose. Aka David Hayward.
LittleGravitas 🇪🇺 Do Good, Wear A Mask, #FBPE Profile picture Chris 😷#WearAMask #NotIntentional #FBPE 3.5% Profile picture Jay Jernigan Profile picture sl-xf Profile picture Ed Ross Profile picture 9 added to My Authors
23 Nov
If people want to understand why I think it’s likely there’ll be a Brexit deal (from a Uk perspective) they should watch the PM’s Brexit press conference this evening.
(Obviously there was no discussion of Brexit)
We are approaching the finish line of an enormous crisis. The sense is relief but also fear that something will go badly wrong before the happy ending.

(Note the PM’s caution vs usual happy / naive boosterism)
Read 4 tweets
21 Nov
A highly unusual award of 🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔

‘Priti Patel is safe for now, but the axe is still ready to fall’

thetimes.co.uk/article/priti-…
A conspicuously supportive article.
Which curiously fails to mention:
- The PM’s alleged pressure to tone down the conclusions of the enquiry (ironically, reported by The Times)
- Rutnam’s statement that he had previously warned / advised PP re her conduct, thereby invalidating an important part of her defence.
Read 4 tweets
21 Nov
Small things but it gives me no end of happiness to wander around our French neighbourhood and joke with the lady in Franprix about the crazy English or discuss the latest Covid stats with the guy in Nicolas or ask after the baby of the lady who works in the boucherie.
There’s a real pleasure, a sense of positive self accomplishment, in being foreign, somewhere else, and despite being from elsewhere, being entirely accepted into this different community.
My favourite long running discussion is, Who is more crazy? The English or the French. Opinions differ. The French, in my unscientific view, were pretty much convinced they were more crazy.
Read 7 tweets
21 Nov
A related point - these ‘checks & balances on the exercise of power’ and the concept of a fair and level playing field that underpins them are fundamental to the functioning of the economy.
What does business want? Everyone thinks that business wants lower taxes and less regulations. And, of course, that is generally true. But less attention is paid to what business actually needs.
Taxes and regulations are much less important than the comfort that power will not and cannot be exercised arbitrarily, that individual merit (competitive advantage) will define success, and that long term investment decisions can be made because the environment is predictable.
Read 10 tweets
18 Nov
Right so re the EU deal malarkey.
1. Johnson isn’t going to agree until the last possible moment (that’s his way)
2. The trade off will be fish for LPF etc
3. The interesting political question is when Cummings makes his move...
And what’s the worst Cummings can do?
Even in a very extreme situation (ie there’s a leadership vote of confidence), Johnson would win.
Read 15 tweets
16 Nov
An extract from Naja Marie Aidt’s extraordinary and devastating, When Death Takes Something From You Give It Back.
(I’m about halfway through and I wonder if I will ever read another book that comes anywhere close)
(Makes everything else seems somehow frivolous and inconsequential)
Read 4 tweets
15 Nov
Spagbol twitter is the worst twitter
On the one hand you have people who should be prosecuted for crimes against pasta.
On the other hand you have the spagbolsplainers with their constant banal tips.
Read 10 tweets
15 Nov
The tactical argument in favour of the PM going for no deal is that although it would be bad for the country it might be advantageous politically for the PM.
How can we have possibly put ourselves into the position where the political advantage is the principal driver for a decision of this importance?
Doesn’t this strike anyone else as just plain wrong? That if this is true we are really in a great deal of trouble.
Read 4 tweets
8 Nov
Classic Takes

* The few from the many*

THREAD
1. The show opener - not so much as the entire world watched John King et al
2. Really?
Read 17 tweets
7 Nov
Statement of the obvious now but Johnson’s approach to the US has been an abject failure. No trade deal. And now on the back foot with the new administration.
Being on the back foot simultaneously, at a point of huge national change, with all three global hegemons (the US, the EU, and China) is not sustainable.
As an initial step, I now attach an even higher probability to a deal with the EU (however difficult, despite the concessions required).
Read 4 tweets
7 Nov
STAND BY FOR A MESSAGE FROM FELIX THE DOG STAND BY
HERE HE IS
I SEE HIM WALKING TOWARDS THE PODIUM
LOOKS LIKE HE’S BRUSHED HIS COAT
QUITE THE DOG
Read 8 tweets
7 Nov
Interesting as always.

I have a very simple view:

If the possibility of a public health disaster (ie nhs overwhelmed) is anywhere close to (say) 33% there will be a lockdown of some sort.
Which, of course, means there may well be incidences of lockdowns etc that may in hindsight not have been strictly necessary (very simplistically).
But put yourself in a PM’s moccasins.
Especially after the disaster of the first wave, would you risk another disaster? Or would you err (if you do err) on the side of caution?
Read 5 tweets
18 Oct
1. Do you remember the Ennio Morricone composed theme tune to the Good the Bad and the Ugly? I ask because it began to rattle through my head as I read today’s Sunday Times.
2. I am the simplest of men, an old hermit whose best days are lost in the mists of time. It is not for me to indicate with my staff the specific qualities of a particular piece. But. But. For your Sunday morning pleasure I thought it might be helpful to highlight a few.
3. In no particular order, I first draw your attention to this most remarkable piece. Perhaps consider it an amuse bouche before we move into meatier fare.

thetimes.co.uk/article/endles…
Read 26 tweets
17 Oct
My theory is that in the medium term electorates will severely punish governments that fail in their core functions.
The reverse is also true.
And ‘severe’ punishment isn’t just being voted out. It is independence movements. It is being out of power for a generation. It is new governance paradigms.
Read 9 tweets
20 Sep
Time for a New Prime Minister

1. Brexit would have been challenge enough but with the pandemic at the same time the government has had to deal with the most severe threats to the UK’s health and economy.
2. We do not need a complicated algorithm to grade the government’s performance too date.

It has failed most of its tests.

During the first wave, the slowness to lock down cost lives and lengthened the period of confinement, causing even worse economic damage.
3. The UK has the fifth largest global death toll and its economy is projected by the OECD to contract by 10.1% this year, greater than the Eurozone as a whole, the US and Japan.
Read 22 tweets
17 Sep
My entirely speculative theory is that the whole sordid mess is explained by the failure of Frost’s negotiating strategy.
The ‘they’ll give in if we stick to our guns’ plan hasn’t worked, and, the NI protocol means no deal is not political cost free.
The master stroke (I suspect a Frost / Cummings plan) is to repudiate parts of the WA to increase negotiating leverage (pay attention to us!) and reduce the cost of no deal.

But unfortunately...
Read 10 tweets
10 Sep
A key question is whether the government agreed the WA in bad faith (ie knew it would renege on parts of it).
If this is the case (and there appears to be some evidence for it), the implications are startling.
If the EU had thought sections of the WA would later be unilaterally disapplied then there would not have been a deal (at that point).
Read 10 tweets
9 Sep
I’m now going to give the five dimensional chess explanation of the current debacle...
It goes something like this.
The government is in a terrible mess.
Read 11 tweets
6 Sep
1. Another Sunday marooned on the desert island of pandemic and Brexit, I reflect once again on the burning question of our time:

Is the government’s appetite for no deal evidence of shambles and incompetence or is it a clever negotiating tactic that reveals a deeper plan?
2. Let’s take shambles and incompetence first.

In this line of argument, the government is so clueless that it might actually think no deal during a global pandemic is a good idea or at least not a really really bad idea.
3. At first blush, the evidence of incompetence seems compelling.

As an unamuse bouche I refer you to describing no deal as an ‘Australian deal’ (shudder).

Even a one thousand tweet thread would not be sufficient but instead perhaps consider the following...
Read 24 tweets
23 Aug
1. As I perused this fascinating piece, the first thought that leaped to mind was not ‘those dastardly Europeans’ or ‘this dastardly government’ but ‘ecological fallacy’, a phrase one occasionally encounters on this twitter.

thetimes.co.uk/article/covid-…
2. Ecological fallacy is a clever term used by clever people. I can tell because I had to look it up in that unimpeachable source of wisdom, Wikipedia.
3. One of the many things I like about twitter is all the new language that I had never heard during the many years I lived on top of my column.
Read 26 tweets
14 Aug
Following Recent Events...

Defining A Pandemic
- August 2020 Version

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Read 41 tweets