Theresa May and the Holy Grail

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation's merciless mashup of the UK's bumbling pound-shop Thatcher with Monty Python's classic work of historical documentary is bound to infuriate the reactionary wing of the Pythons, but it brought a lasting smile to my face. (Thanks, Robbo!) Read the rest

A cloud shaped like Britain

This image, taken by Matt Hallas in the East Midlands, was sent into the BBC's splendid Weather Watchers page, which has many more atmospheric delights. Read the rest

The Tories' failed £1.2m social smear ads reveal callouses on our attention’s tender spots

The UK election didn't deliver the increased majority that PM Theresa May was seeking, but it wasn't for lack of trying: the UK Conservative party spent £1.2m on social media smear ads that painted Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as a terrorist sympathiser, a useful idiot for Scottish separatism, and an incompetent.

Britain's nastiest landlord refuses to rent to Asians and survivors of domestic violence

Fergus Wilson rents almost 1000 properties in Kent, England, but not to Indians, Pakistanis, or women who are survivors of domestic violence. The BBC reports that this sterling example of British tolerance is getting sued.

He has insisted he is not racist and has rented to "non-white" people, including Gurkhas.

Mr Wilson said: "It is not the colour of their skin, but the smell of the curry.

"The EHRC appears to be saying that the purchaser then must let the house to someone who does cook curry."

Advocacy group Hope Not Hate said: "Mr Wilson needs to join the 21st century.

"It's almost as if he has taken a tick box to offend every vulnerable group in Britain. "We hope these legal proceedings will help him rapidly re-focus his outdated views."

It's almost comical, how his rental criteria measure a disparate but illustrative collection of inane bigoted resentments. Read the rest

Brexiteer's plan to recover bad Le Pen bet fails

Colin Johnson is an overnight legend.

Earlier...

This exchange has all the ingredients of a classic fairy tale — note that it's not really Ladbrokes replying to him, but a cunning trickster. Watch for many more like it in the coming months and years as England generates a new folklore. Read the rest

When Theresa May called snap elections, she killed tax-haven reform

One of the consistently underreported elements of Brexit and all that's come after it is that leaving the EU will also let the UK -- the world's most prolific launderer of filthy criminal money -- escape the tightening noose of European anti-money-laundering measures. Read the rest

Theresa May calls UK snap elections for June 8

The UK Prime Minister -- riding high on a recent uptick in Brexit popularity and taking advantage of divisions in the Labour Party -- has called snap elections for June 8. Read the rest

Even by the standards of tax-havens, Gibraltar is pretty sketchy

As Brexit shambles on, UK Tory Parliamentarians and Theresa May are spoiling for a re-run of the Falklands Island debacle, this time over Gibraltar, a British outpost at the tip of Spain. Read the rest

"Global Britain": the plan to turn post-Brexit Britain into the world's money-laundering arms-dealer

UK Prime Minister Theresa May says that post-Brexit Britain won't rely on the EU, but will become a "Global Britain," turning to the rest of the world to bring the the billions the UK will lose when it departs from the European Union. Read the rest

Laurie Penny blazes: Brexit is just the latest alibi for austerity

Laurie Penny's red pen of justice (previously) is gouting unstoppable fire today in her column on the relationship of cruel austerity to Brexit: the decade during which Conservative ideologues gutted the nation to make the banks whole again after the financial crisis, creating a lost generation, quietly murdering disabled people, leaving the poor standing in breadlines not seen since the Victorian era -- all the while invoking the spirit of the Blitz and insisting that "we're all in this together." Read the rest

How Big Tobacco invented Donald Trump and Brexit (and what to do about it)

Economist Tim Harford (previously) traces the history of denialism and "fake news" back to Big Tobacco's cancer denial playbook, which invented the tactics used by both the Brexit and Trump campaigns to ride to victory -- a playbook that dismisses individual harms as "anaecdotal" and wide-ranging evidence as "statistical," and works in concert with peoples' biases (smokers don't want cigarettes to cause cancer, Brexiteers want the UK to be viable without the EU, Trump supporters want simple, cruel policies to punish others and help them) to make emprically wrong things feel right. Read the rest

America divided into states with the population of England

Earlier I crudely redivided the USA into states the size of California, its most populous state. This results in eight states. But what if old England, having abandoned Europe and been abandoned by Scotland and the other bits of its shabby island hegemony, somehow ended up in the Union?

Leaving aside all the actual important and interesting social and demographic consequences of such a near-future scenario, here's a dumb map of what America would look like if the current states were kept, but glommed together to form larger ones with the population of England—roughly 55m each.

Now you have six (not including England itself.)

Read the rest

Wanted: real British criminals to commit real British crimes

The artifacts that tumble out of Scarfolk (previously), the English horror-town stuck in a ten-year loop from 1970-1980, continue their amazing run of being so very much on-point with the issues facing the UK today, case in point: The Campaign for Real British Crime. Read the rest

Brexit, Chicken and Ulysses Pacts: the negotiating theory behind the UK-EU stalemate

Ever since Thomas Schelling -- an advisor on Dr Strangelove! -- published his work on negotiating theory and nuclear deterrence, we've developed a rich vocabulary for describing negotiating tactics and their underlying theories. Read the rest

Europe's top court says UK surveillance rules are unconstitutional

Last July, the European Court of Jutice's Advocate General ruled that the UK's mass surveillance regime was unconstitutional, triggering an appeal to the ECJ itself, which has affirmed that under European law, governments cannot order retention of all communications data; they must inform subjects after surveillance has concluded; must only engage in mass surveillance in the pursuit of serious crime; and must get independent, judicial authorization. Read the rest

Politics got weird because neoliberalism failed to deliver

Ian Welsh says that the USSR collapsed because its promises -- "a cornucopia and a withering away of the state" -- conspicuously failed to materialize; now, neoliberalism's promises ("If the rich have more money, they will create more jobs; Lower taxes will lead to more prosperity; Increases in housing and stock market prices will increase prosperity for everyone; Trade deals and globalization will make everyone better off") are likewise being shown to be lies, and so we're in crisis. Read the rest

Europe's Brexit negotiators will offer Britons the right to opt into EU citizenship

The European Parliament's Chief Negotiator plans to offer British nationals the right to opt into "associate citizenship" in the EU, with the right to travel and work in the continent. Read the rest

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