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Will Britain ever manage to leave “Hotel California”?

It is now just six months before Britain formally leaves the EU. This article details the economic and political issues, followed by a commentary on the tactics being deployed by all sides.

The Duran

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Authored by Alasdair Macleod via GoldMoney.com:


Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back to the place where I was before
“Relax” said the night man,
“We are programmed to receive.
You can check out any time you like,
But you can never leave![i]


The Eagles lyric from the 1970s is nearly as old as the United Kingdom’s membership of the EU, but it is an apt description for her predicament. There are so many twists and turns in the EU’s corridors, that it is proving difficult for Britain to “find the passage back to where it was before”. Britain has checked out but cannot seem to leave.

The EU has firmly rejected Mrs May’s Chequers customs proposals, which is not surprising to those paying attention. Their chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, had already made his position clear. Last week, Mrs May sought to take her case to his superiors, effectively asking them to overrule him. It was a tactical error that backfired badly.

Fortunately for her PR machine, the blunt rejection by the EU, particularly the comments of President Macron, deflected the immediate blame of Mrs May’s failure to the EU leaders’ intransigence. Consequently, early signs of electoral opinion have firmed in favour of a no-deal Brexit. Merci, President Macron, for clarifying that point for the British electorate.

It is now just six months before Britain formally leaves the EU. This article details the economic and political issues, followed by a commentary on the tactics being deployed by all sides.

The economic case for Brexit

The economic case for Brexit centres on the law of comparative advantage. This law explains that rather than waste your time making or doing something someone else does better, you should buy it from him instead than wasting time trying to compete. It also explains that even though you might be very skilled at something but can add greater value to society by doing something else, you and the community as a whole are better off if you do that something else.

For example, Winston Churchill built a garden wall at his country home. He turned out to be an excellent brick layer, as visitors to Chartwell can confirm. But there were other competent bricklayers on the Chartwell Estate. Besides building walls as a hobby, it will be clear to everyone that Churchill added considerably greater value to society as a politician and an author and was paid more than he ever would be as a bricklayer.[ii]

What was true for the great man is also true for all of us. It allows us to maximise the potential for a community of producers by buying each other’s output in accordance with the law of comparative advantage. And what holds for a community scales up to nation states. If China can supply us with goods cheaper and better than we can ourselves, we should buy them from China, and not waste our time and resources doing it less effectively. Scarce capital resources, including labour, must be released for more profitable activities.

If China offers steel at a lower price than it can be made in Britain, British manufacturers who incorporate steel in their products would be stupid not to benefit. Meanwhile, British steel manufacturers should get out of the mild steel business, and perhaps produce high quality speciality steels to regain their commercial edge. This is what British Steel has done. The common European response is to protect their industries with import tariffs, and by the end of 2016 there were 12,651 known EU tariffs in force.[iii]

Only free markets, more specifically the consumer and also buyers of intermediate production, can decide where the comparative advantage lies. In free markets, the consumer is king, and the businessman who fails to respond to his customers’ demands should amend his offering.

Businesses try to avoid this truth by lobbying politicians to yield a monopolistic advantage. Business leaders present themselves to the political class as expert representatives for their industries, and they warn politicians of the supposed horrors of free competition. An established business would rather be regulated than face competition, because the regulator will help guarantee profit margins, and licence monopolistic behaviour.

This is crony capitalism, which is not free markets. It is everywhere, but more in some places than others. It is particularly virulent in Brussels, where big business effectively sets product standards to disadvantage smaller competitors. The law of comparative advantage is trampled underfoot.

Lobbying by special interests is not confined to Brussels, being a feature of Westminster life as well. The Cronies target Brussels where the Europe-wide power resides, as well as national governments in coordinated campaigns. The result is an institutionalised crony-based system bound together by a political class that has been bought by special interests.

To a businessman, a good politician is one who once bought, stays bought. On the one side of the Brexit tussle you have protectionism, which has become thoroughly institutionalised, and on the other you have free marketeers. Interestingly, the UK’s Conservatives are meant to be the party of free markets and individualism, yet even their ranks include ardent statists, their true colours exposed by the Brexit debate.

The political case for Brexit

The political case is simply one of democratic accountability. In the UK, parliament has always been sovereign, that is to say the elected members of the lower house form governments and make the laws. There has to be a general election at least every five years, to give the electorate a vote on the government’s competence. Furthermore, if during a government’s term it loses the confidence of a simple majority of MPs, it must call a general election. By these means, the British public exercises its democratic rights.

There is no such accountability in Brussels. Only the unelected executive can propose directives and regulations, and the parliament has an equal say in passing them. In practice, the EU parliament is packed with establishment MEPs and nothing initiated by the executive is rejected. Democratic accountability is a fig-leaf and never gets in the way of the unelected executive.

Very rarely, the electorate is asked for its view on a simple matter of principle by referendum. Referendums are technically advisory, but in practice a parliament that goes against the public’s wishes expressed in a referendum is denying the electorate its democratic mandate. Having called a referendum, if a government then fails to respect the result, what was the point in calling it in the first place?

The first referendum in Britain was held on 5th June 1975, where the question asked was, “Do you think that the United Kingdom should stay in the European Community (the Common Market)?” It was held two years after Britain had actually joined, but it was clearly on a simple matter of principle. There was another nationwide referendum on proportional voting, which was rejected. The 2016 Brexit national referendum was only the third ever held. They are not frequent events, though the device has been used regionally as well (i.e. the Scottish referendum).

At the time of the 1975 referendum, the EC was little more than a trading bloc, whose members traded freely with each other without tariffs, while significant tariffs were imposed on imported goods from non-member states. Communications were such that proximate markets were easier to service than distant ones. These were the important economic arguments for Britain joining at that time.

But since then, the EU has taken democratic accountability away from national parliaments principally through the Maastricht and Lisbon treaties and is on its way to becoming a fully-fledged super-state. Meanwhile, WTO tariffs have gradually declined to single figures, and the internet has made distances between suppliers and consumers far less of a hurdle to trade. With the importance of being in a trading bloc now a growing obstacle to global free trade, there is no valid reason to justify the loss of democracy.

This is the crux of the Brexit debate: the economic benefits have gone along with democracy. The Remainers deliberately avoid the democratic issue and instead deflect the debate into economic unknowns. The statist establishment both outside and inside the UK persists in threatening that Brexit will lead to a large fall in GDP, rise in unemployment, disrupt trade with the EU, threaten medicinal supplies, prevent planes landing, and so on. The list of these supposed negatives is extensive, but it is increasingly clear Remainers are only making up scare stories to avoid debating the democracy issue.

The EU’s position

The establishment in Brussels is rock-solid in its determination to continue on its course of devolving power from national governments to itself. Furthermore, the EU parliament has imposed its red lines as inviolable, the principal ones being:

  • Any transitional deal will be enforced and overseen by the EU’s Court of Justice (ECJ).
  • UK Citizens in the EU and EU citizens in Britain should be guaranteed reciprocal treatment.
  • The UK must adhere to EU environment and anti-tax evasion rules.
  • The UK should pay the EU costs that “arise directly from its withdrawal”.[iv]

As well as these red lines, there are the “four freedoms”, that are also sacrosanct: the free movement of goods, services, capital and persons. In order to satisfy these freedoms, the UK would have to remain in the customs union, or be out of the EU completely. It is that simple.

To ensure that Britain complies with the four freedoms in any half-way house, it would have to accept the jurisdiction of the ECJ, instead of the British courts. The European parliament’s position is less important than the four freedoms, because the parliament is little more than a rubber-stamp applied to pre-agreed policy.

Since the EU parliament’s resolution was passed, there appears to be behind the scenes attempts to persuade the British electorate to reconsider. The first strategy was to simply block all British attempts at achieving a negotiated settlement. This led to the British government offering an alternative compromise, the Chequers plan, which resulted in the resignations of the Brexit ministers, David Davis and Steve Baker, as well as the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson. The second strategy has been running concurrently with the first, and that is to undermine the Brexit case, in the hope a second referendum would reverse, or at least neutralise the Brexit referendum.

To this end, Brussels has covertly supported Remainers’ campaigns, a tactic that has worked before in referendums in other EU states when a first referendum rejected treaty proposals.[v] This brings us up to last week, when at an EU leaders’ dinner at Salzburg, Mrs May saw her Chequers plan firmly rejected in bluntly undiplomatic terms.

It seems after all that the EU is now prepared to negotiate a Canada Plus deal, as advocated by dissenting Conservative MPs. As a matter of fact, that has been more or less the EU’s position all along, believing it is far less attractive to the UK than staying in the EU. It was the free market alternative that was rejected by Mrs May in favour of her Chequers plan.

[The Canada trade agreement removes nearly all tariffs on goods but accepts some regulatory barriers to trade. There are limitations imposed on services. It gives the UK total control over immigration, it would be outside the customs union, have its own regulations, being not bound by a common rulebook. A joint committee between the UK and EU would resolve trade issues. This is roughly the agreed position with Canada and South Korea. A Canada plus deal would be an improved one based on this.]

There is probably more to the EU’s offer to discuss a Canada plus deal than meets the eye. It is always helpful to look at a problem from the EU’s point of view, so we can deduce what the thinking in Brussels might be. It is probably as follows. Mrs May wants to have the advantages of a being a member state without being in the customs union. She thinks the Chequers halfway house will appease the Remainers, many of which are her principal advisors. This is the only credible logic behind the Chequers proposal, which is a fudge to give the appearance of not being in the customs union. The Irish border question is a red herring, floated by the Irish Prime Minister and Mr Barnier. Mrs May has either fallen for it or is using it to justify her position to her cabinet.

Therefore, and of this Brussels appears to have convinced itself, the alternative of a WTO deal, or any deal close to it, such as Canada plus, is a bad outcome for Mrs May and her government. It is also undesirable for the EU, particularly Ireland, if Britain did leave the EU entirely. The reason it is important for Ireland is twofold: her main trading partner is the UK, and most of her non-UK European trade transits across the UK to the mainland by ferries and road. Those are the Irish issues that really matter.

The initial plan had been to stop Brexit. By proposing free trade negotiations, the EU might have originally reasoned it will never happen. Remember, the EU has had the international establishment (the IMF, central banks – visibly the Bank of England, big business and various back channels) working to overturn the referendum. The hope is a free trade agreement would not get through the UK parliament, and by assisting the Remainers in the UK who are pushing for a second referendum, it is thought the British public will change its mind. However, the EU’s thinking might have changed in recent weeks on the referendum issue, because it is almost certainly aware its plans are failing.

In conclusion, the EU is losing the battle for British hearts and minds in a second referendum. There can be no halfway house between being in or out of the customs union. If Brussels is to get its promised £39bn settlement, it will now have to embrace a free trade deal.

The British position

The Chequers plan was put together by Mrs May’s permanent staff, led by Olly Robbins. A charitable view is that Robbins’s plan was intended to achieve parliamentary support from a broad parish of Remainers and middle-of-the-roaders and neutralise ardent Brexiteers. She went over the heads of her own and the Brussels negotiating teams. Mrs May met a number of EU leaders on a one-to-one basis, including Angela Merkel, in the weeks before the Chequers plan was sprung on her cabinet, so it was widely assumed she had cleared it with them. Thinking she had a plan acceptable to her fellow EU leaders, she sprung it on her cabinet as a fait accompli. It was May’s way or the highway.

Instead, it has been a disaster because of the outright rejection by the EU leaders in Salzburg, who appear to have backtracked on their private meetings with her. This was hardly surprising, given Mrs May was arrogantly dealing over the EU chief negotiator’s head (Mr Barnier), who also attended the Salzburg dinner, and would have made his authority in the matter clear.

Despite this setback, at the time of writing, she is still clinging on to the Chequers plan. Her latest idea is to threaten the EU with the prospect of Britain lowering corporation tax to make Britain a corporate tax haven. This could be another tactical mistake, because Brussels is likely to read it as desperation to save a plan that is unacceptable.

Mrs May is now under increasing pressure to back down. And quickly, because she faces Conservative Party members at the annual conference next week. Salzburg was clearly a stitch-up that backfired, and she can only be clinging on to the assumption that her earlier more positive meetings with EU leaders are what really matters.

The evidence suggests this is a mistake, from which she must backtrack. It will never get the requisite support from Brexiteers, because it leaves the EU still controlling trade laws and regulations. This contravenes the democracy issue explained above. It is also likely to compromise Britain’s negotiating position with respect to free trade agreements with other countries.

Furthermore, a trade agreement which is far closer to free trade has already been proposed by both Brussels and the Brexiteers, based on the Canadian FTA. While the EU might have offered something that they thought would never be taken up, it is now in play.

That leaves the problem of how to get any trade agreement with the EU through Parliament. It is never certain that a no-deal or even a free trade agreement with the EU would find the necessary parliamentary support, given the strength of the Remainer lobby, and Labour’s insistence on staying in the customs union.

However, the Labour Party is badly divided on Brexit, and it is quite likely that if a vote was held on a Canada plus deal, the government would succeed in getting it passed.

Where to from here?

It is conference season, that time in the UK when the political parties invite their faithful members to come and listen to speeches from leading politicians. The Labour Party had theirs this week, and the Conservatives hold their’s in Birmingham next week. The problem for Mrs May is that apart from some vanishing sympathy over how she was treated by the EU leaders in Salzburg, her Chequers plan is deeply unpopular. If she thinks she can sell it at Conference, she is likely to be disappointed.

It is bound to be a topic in her closing speech next Wednesday. But Boris Johnson is due to speak in a fringe meeting, and he is immensely popular with the constituency members and a good orator to boot. He is also controversial with all shades of media opinion, which means he is box-office. The day of Mrs May’s speech is likely to be swamped with news headlines about Boris. If she is to avoid a PR disaster, she would be well advised to urgently ditch her Chequers plan and embrace the concept of Canada plus.

Whether she does we will find out next week. If she refuses to move, then I expect a leadership challenge by Christmas. Why? Because for the Brexiteers, the first option was to persuade Mrs May to drop Chequers and oversee negotiations on Canada plus. If that fails, then MPs face the next general election with the prospect of losing their seats. It won’t be the Labour Party’s socialist agenda that gets them unelected, but the Conservative’s failure to deliver Brexit.

The key to exiting Hotel California lies increasingly in the freest trade agreement possible, not in the Chequers plan. Mrs May must give up on the Chequers plan or she will be soon gone.

[i] Eagles, their album: Hotel California, 1976.

[ii] I must confess to cribbing this fine example of comparative advantage from Daniel Hannan, Conservative MEP for South-east England.

[iii] Unveiling the cost and extent of the 12,651 EU import tariffs – and why we should repeal them by Dan Lewis of the Economic Policy Centre.

[iv] Resolution passed by EU parliament sitting in Strasbourg, 5 April 2017 516 votes to 133, with 50 abstentions.

[v] An example of covert support for Remainers is reported here: https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/905714/Brexit-news-Nigel-Farage-Michel-Barnier-EU-UK-European-Union-LBC

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Tom Welsh
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Tom Welsh

“Besides building walls as a hobby, it will be clear to everyone that Churchill added considerably greater value to society as a politician and an author and was paid more than he ever would be as a bricklayer”. And that example neatly demonstrates why economics is such a useless pile of old rubbish. Churchill built walls because he enjoyed doing so, and it relaxed him – thereby possibly enhancing his performance in his “more important” work. But the point is that human beings are not robots programmed to maximize their wealth. We have many instincts and desires, only a few… Read more »

AM Hants
Member
AM Hants

Do you wish to stay in the EU?
EU continues dictating, with full control over your thoughts and actions.

Do you wish to leave the EU?
Self determination and full independence.

Now what is difficult to understand. We were not asked to merge BREXIT, with ‘Remoan’

Hard BREXIT, bank account closed to the EU, using WTO trade tariffs, for deals.

Normski
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Normski

My thoughts exactly – lets just get the hell out of the EU and then deal with the consequences!.

Flying Gabriel
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Flying Gabriel

We are all just prisoners here, of our own device.

Rick Oliver
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Rick Oliver

Britain is good at going to War , just get some backing from your brothers in arms and declare WAR on the EU . Simple , game over !!!

Karl
Guest
Karl

The British government have no intention of taking the UK out of the EU because they want to board the gravy train once they leave UK politics,they only care about themselves not their country!

Latest

New Zealand enacts new weapons ban just six days after massacre

The American left is sure to pick this up and start screaming for an “assault weapons ban” because this supports their agenda so well.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Reuters reported on Thursday, March 21 that the Prime Minister of New Zealand enacted a sweeping change, banning weapons of the type that were used in the massacre of at least fifty Muslims, who were gunned down on livestream while in Friday prayer services in Christchurch last week. We quote from the Reuters piece below, with added emphasis:

New Zealand will ban military-style semi-automatic and assault rifles under tough new gun laws following the killing of 50 people in its worst mass shooting, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Thursday.

In the immediate aftermath of last Friday’s shootings at two mosques in the city of Christchurch, Ardern labeled the attack as terrorism and said New Zealand’s gun laws would change.

“On 15 March our history changed forever. Now, our laws will too. We are announcing action today on behalf of all New Zealanders to strengthen our gun laws and make our country a safer place,” Ardern told a news conference.

“All semi-automatic weapons used during the terrorist attack on Friday 15 March will be banned.”

Ardern said she expected the new laws to be in place by April 11 and a buy-back scheme costing up to NZ$200 million ($138 million) would be established for banned weapons.

All military style semi-automatics (MSSA) and assault rifles would be banned, along with parts used to convert weapons into MSSAs and all high-capacity magazines.

Australia banned semi-automatic weapons and launched a gun buy-back after the Port Arthur massacre in 1996 in which 35 people were killed.

Ardern said that similar to Australia, the law would allow for strictly enforced exemptions for farmers for pest control and animal welfare.

“I strongly believe that the vast majority of legitimate gun owners in New Zealand will understand that these moves are in the national interest, and will take these changes in their stride.”

This is undoubtedly going to be real red meat (or perhaps real vegetables) for the anti-gun lobby in the United States. This is because New Zealand strongly resembled the US in terms of firearm rights and the penetration of numbers of guns in the populace of this remote island nation. Reuters continues, with statements that would probably surprise, even horrify some gun owners in the States, but which are doubtlessly useful for the application of pressure on such individuals:

New Zealand, a country of fewer than 5 million people, has an estimated 1.2-1.5 million firearms, about 13,500 of them MSSA-type weapons.

Most farmers own guns while hunting of deer, pigs and goats is popular. Gun clubs and shooting ranges dot the country.

That has created a powerful lobby that has thwarted previous attempts to tighten gun laws.

Federated Farmers, which represent thousands of farmers, said it supported the new laws.

“This will not be popular among some of our members but … we believe this is the only practicable solution,” a group spokesman, Miles Anderson, said in a statement.

The main opposition National Party, which draws strong support in rural areas, said it also supported the ban.

The changes exclude two general classes of firearms commonly used for hunting, pest control and stock management on farms.

“I have a military style weapon. But to be fair, I don’t really use it, I don’t really need it,” said Noel Womersley, who slaughters cpoliticalattle for small farmers around Christchurch.

“So I’m quite happy to hand mine over.”

To be absolutely fair, the attack on the mosques was an awful event, made the worse by the shooter’s deliberate attempts to politicize various aspects of what he was doing and what he “stood for” as an attack ostensibly against US President Donald Trump, some seven thousand miles away in the United States.

The immediate reaction of the people interviewed, some among them related or friends with the victims of the massacre, was to embrace the weapons reform laws:

Nada Tawfeek, who buried her father-in-law killed in the attacks, Hussein Moustafa, on Thursday, welcomed the ban.

“It’s a great reaction. I think other countries need to learn from her [Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern],” Tawfeek said.

Mohammed Faqih, a member of the Islamic clergy who flew in from California and attended the funerals for some victims on Thursday, said he was “extremely grateful” for the gun ban.

“I wish our leaders in the States would follow on her footsteps and do the same thing,” he said.

One can expect there to be quite the outcry among American liberals about gun control, especially if anything remotely resembling this event takes place or is thwarted in coming days in the US.

It may seem very cold and cruel to focus on the political angle of this story rather than the human tragedy that it is. However, in this situation we have seen signs that the most vile form of human tragedy has actually taken place – the murder of dozens of innocent people for a mere political point. Indeed this thought has been noted and vilified already, as Mr. R.X. Dentith, writing for the New Zealand website Spinoff here quoted:

American paleo-conservative Rush Limbaugh was one of the first to note: “There’s an ongoing theory that the shooter himself may, in fact, be a leftist who writes the manifesto and then goes out and performs the deed purposely to smear his political enemies, knowing he’s going to get shot in the process. You know you just can’t – you can’t immediately discount this. The left is this insane, they are this crazy. And then if that’s exactly what the guy is trying to do then he’s hit a home run, because right there on Fox News: ‘Shooter is an admitted white nationalist who hates immigrants.’”

…[P]eople like Limbaugh… can’t stomach the idea the terrorist action in Otautahi might be motivated by the kind of rhetoric Limbaugh helps disseminate – tend to think there is a culture war going on, and they are on the losing side.

This war has many names, and the enemy is easily identified: it is the battle against Cultural Marxism; the fight against Toxic Feminism; the resistance to Identity Politics; and the fear of the Great Replacement, the thesis at the heart of the terrorist’s own manifesto.

The Great Replacement thesis posits that the majority white European countries are being “invaded” by non-white, non-European peoples. Not just that, but due to declining birth rates in the West, this “invasion” constitutes a wholesale replacement of the white population over time.

Mr. Dentith tries further to knock down this notion of the Great Replacement. However, he misses a much more basic point.

Someone who goes and takes human lives and broadcasts them for any reason is not a mere political operative. The person who does this is a very sick, deranged human being indeed. Evil is certainly appropriately used here.

However, evil is often quite cunning, and despite the intellectual arguments about the reality or non-reality of any particular manifesto statement, in this case, the killer played the media with infernal intelligence, and they took the bait. It is possible that Prime Minister Ardern also took the bait, in this most awful of bad situations, and to give her credit, she took swift actions to try to “correct” what was wrong.

But the problem here was not the type of weapons used. The problem is the fact that they were used by a person who thought these fifty people’s lives were worth nothing more than a bit of policy change. One of the worst examples of human evil in recent times, this incident shouts to the world that there is a problem, but the problem remains unsolved, even though many people will hand over their firearms out of a genuine wish for compassion to those lost and the hope that somehow this action will prevent a future incident.

But the logic of this emotional reaction is nil. And what is worse is that the American Left knows this, but does not care. The movers and shakers of liberalism will likely milk the actions of sincerely horrified New Zealanders for all they are worth to try at affecting change in American constitutional rights.

And the innocent dead will not rest in peace, because the real problem has not even been examined.

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Upstart Populist Party Shocks In Dutch Election Upset, 2 Days After Utrecht Attack

International reports have described the FvD as receiving “a surge of last-minute support” in the days following the Utrecht attack.

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Via Zerohedge…


Dutch voters have sent shock waves through Europe at the polls on Wednesday in the wake of Monday’s deadly Utrecht terror shooting, in which a now detained 37-year old Turkish man went on a terrifying tram killing spree which left three dead and three injured.

Euroskeptic party, Forum for Democracy (FvD), has emerged victorious in key provincial elections this week, paving the way to making it one of the two largest groups in the Dutch Senate, and representing growing Dutch frustration with the recent unprecedented refugee influx in Europe.

Newcomer Forum for Democracy party is led by 36-year-old Thierry Baudet, who is a critic of the EU and of the Netherlands’ immigration policies, via EPA

International reports have described the FvD as receiving “a surge of last-minute support” in the days following the Utrecht attack, which investigators have since described as having a “terror motive” based on a letter found in shooter Gokmen Tanis’ possession.

Forum for Democracy party leader Thierry Baudet had immediately placed ultimate blame  for the incident on the government’s “lax immigration policies” and provocatively stated a day before the elections (referencing his political rival)

If people want more deadly shootings like the one in Utrecht, then they have to vote for the VVD.

Baudet, riding a wave of renewed Euroskeptic sentiment, and whose party also wants to see more military spending, green initiatives, and an easing on income tax while greatly restricting the borders, said in the aftermath of Wednesday’s vote: “The voters in the Netherlands have spread their wings and shown their true power.”

Referencing the Utrecht attack and other deadly terror incidents on European soil, he added: “We have been called to the front because we have to. Because the country needs us.”

Three were killed and several injured in Monday’s Dutch tram terror attack, which raised the country’s emergency threat level to five as it was unfolding, its highest level.

Interestingly, the 36-year old Baudet and his party continued campaigning down to the last moments even as others stopped in the wake of Monday’s attack which rocked the Netherlands. According to Al Jazeera:

Following the lead of US President Donald Trump, Baudet opposes immigration and emphasises “Dutch first” cultural and economic themes. He opposes the euro and thinks the Netherlands should leave the European Union.

Baudet had continued campaigning when other parties stopped after Monday’s attack in Utrecht, in which a gunman shot three people dead on a tram. The populist leader blamed the incident on the government’s lax immigration policies.

The FvD is now set to take 12 seats in the upper house of parliament, which is equal to Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s conservative VVD Party, a scenario before this week considered unlikely according to many observers.

The FvD slightly outscoring the VVD means Rutte’s government has lost its majority for the 75-seat Senate ahead of upcoming May elections.

In a post-election speech on Wednesday, Baudet described further that what’s now being described in international media as “an upstart populist party [that has] shocked the Dutch political establishment” as punishing the arrogance of elites.

In his pro-Western civilization themed remarks, Baudet added, “We are standing in the rubble of what was once the most beautiful civilization in the world.”

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Will The Trump White House finally punish Facebook for censorship?

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 113.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a look at US President Trump’s tweet where he has said that he would be “looking into” a report that his social media chief, Dan Scavino Jr. has been censored by Facebook.

Are we finally about to see the Trump White House move to punish social media outlets for their blatant and bias censorship of alternative narratives that dare to stray from globalist neo-liberal and radical left ideology?

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“Conservatives face a tough fight as Big Tech’s censorship expands”, authored by Donald Trump Jr., via The Hill…

As Big Tech’s censorship of conservatives becomes ever more flagrant and overt, the old arguments about protecting the sanctity of the modern public square are now invalid. Our right to freely engage in public discourse through speech is under sustained attack, necessitating a vigorous defense against the major social media and internet platforms.

From “shadowbans” on Facebook and Twitter, to demonetization of YouTube videos, to pulled ads for Republican candidates at the critical junctures of election campaigns, the list of violations against the online practices and speech of conservatives is long.

I certainly had my suspicions confirmed when Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, “accidentally” censored a post I made regarding the Jussie Smollett hoax, which consequently led to me hearing from hundreds of my followers about how they’ve been having problems seeing, liking or being able to interact with my posts. Many of them even claimed that they’ve had to repeatedly refollow me, as Instagram keeps unfollowing me on their accounts.

While nothing about Big Tech’s censorship of conservatives truly surprises me anymore, it’s still chilling to see the proof for yourself. If it can happen to me, the son of the president, with millions of followers on social media, just think about how bad it must be for conservatives with smaller followings and those who don’t have the soapbox or media reach to push back when they’re being targeted?

Thanks to a brave Facebook whistleblower who approached James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas, we now know that Mark Zuckerberg’s social media giant developed algorithms to “deboost” certain content, limiting its distribution and appearance in news feeds. As you probably guessed, this stealth censorship was specifically aimed at conservatives.

Facebook appears to have deliberately tailored its algorithm to recognize the syntax and style popular among conservatives in order to “deboost” that content. “Mainstream media,” “SJW” (Social Justice Warrior) and “red pill” — all terms that conservatives often use to express themselves — were listed as red flags, according to the former Facebook insider.

Facebook engineers even cited BlazeTV host Lauren Chen’s video criticizing the social justice movement as an example of the kind of “red pills” that users just aren’t allowed to drop anymore. Mainstream conservative content was strangled in real time, yet fringe leftists such as the Young Turks enjoy free rein on the social media platform.

Despite the occasional brave gesture, politicians have been far too sluggish in recognizing the extent of the problem. But the Republican Party and the conservative movement are becoming more vigilant against the suppression of our speech, as we saw at last weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

Silicon Valley lobbyists have splashed millions of dollars all over the Washington swamp to play on conservatives’ innate faith in the free-market system and respect for private property. Even as Big Tech companies work to exclude us from the town square of the 21st century, they’ve been able to rely on misguided conservatives to carry water for them with irrelevant pedantry about whether the First Amendment applies in cases of social media censorship.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) has been making a name for himself as a Republican prepared to stand up to Big Tech malfeasance since his time as Missouri’s attorney general. He delivered a tour de force interview with The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel in front of the CPAC crowd, one that provided a clear-eyed assessment of the ongoing affront to the freedoms of conservative speech and expression.

Hawley demolished the absurd notion that “conservative principles” preclude taking action to ensure free debate online simply because Big Tech firms — the most powerful corporations in the world — are private companies.

Hawley pointed out that Big Tech companies already enjoy “sweetheart deals” under current regulations that make their malfeasance a matter of public concern. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, for instance, allows them to avoid liability for the content that users post to their platforms. To address this problem, Hawley proposed adding a viewpoint neutrality requirement for platforms that benefit from Section 230’s protections, which were originally enacted to protect the internet as “a forum for a true diversity of political discourse.”

“Google and Facebook should not be a law unto themselves,” Hawley declared. “They should not be able to discriminate against conservatives. They should not be able to tell us we need to sit down and shut up!”

It’s high time other conservative politicians started heeding Hawley’s warnings, because the logical endpoint of Big Tech’s free rein is far more troubling than conservative meme warriors losing their Twitter accounts. As we’re already starting to see, what starts with social media censorship can quickly lead to banishment from such fundamental services as transportation, online payments and banking.

Left unchecked, Big Tech and liberal activists could construct a private “social credit” system — not unlike what the communists have nightmarishly implemented in China — that excludes outspoken conservatives from wide swaths of American life simply because their political views differ from those of tech executives.

There is no conservative principle that even remotely suggests we are obligated to adopt a laissez-faire attitude while the richest companies on earth abuse the power we give them to put a thumb on the scale for our political enemies.

If anything, our love of the free market dictates that we must do whatever is necessary to ensure that the free marketplace of ideas remains open to all.

Donald Trump Jr. is executive vice president at The Trump Organization.

 

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