Who in Ireland voted for this?

There is a worrying trend in the West of leaders with absolutely no personal investment in the future driving huge changes to the very fabric of their country.

To illustrate this point, ponder this question, What do the following leaders (or ex-leaders) have in common?

– Angela Merkel

– Theresa May

– Emmanuel Macron

– Julia Gillard

– Nicola Sturgeon

– Leo Varadker

Apart from the obvious point that they all suffer from varying degrees of Dunning-Kruger Syndrome, not one of them has any practical experience of changing nappies or dealing with 3am episodes of croup.

For differing reasons, they have no tickets in the genetic future of the species. Yet these are the people who are overseeing seismic changes to their countries, or even the entire European continent.

Today’s focus is the last one on the list, the Prime Minister or ‘Taoiseach’ (bless you, are you going down with a cold?).

His government has recently published a 30 year plan for the country, ‘Ireland 2049‘, which sets out a vision for the population, infrastructure and a wide range of other aspects of Irish life.

Thirty years. It makes the old Soviet Five Year Plans seem positively humble by comparison.

As you’d expect from a country that has a thousand year history of fiercely fighting for its independence from the neighbouring colonial power yet handed it over to Brussels in a heartbeat, the report has all the usual cause célèbre du jour boxes ticked such as climate change, diversity and gender pronouns for left-handed penguins.

This little gem seems to have slipped past without question however;

Wait, what?

The current population is 4.74m, the aged demographic is increasing and the young demographic is decreasing yet in 20 years’ time the population with have increased by a fifth?

Has Ireland invented cloning?

Of course not, they’re going to invite a million people from the rest of the world in.

Fair enough, that’s their right as a sovereign nation if that’s what the voters want.

However, is that what the voters want? Have they been asked at all?

Browsing the Irish press, there seems to be scant discussion on the immigration point, instead, the debate seems to be more about pork barrelling for infrastructure investment for various geographies.

Bill’s Opinion

It’s curious that people don’t question the fact that our children’s future is being heavily influenced by people with absolutely no skin in the game.

It’s also strange the assumption isn’t being challenged that Ireland must replace such a significant proportion of her population over the next 20 years.

Why does Ireland need to grow the number of citizens?

I can think of only three reasons:

1. To care for the aging population.

2. To maintain the pension Ponzi scheme.

3. Pursuit of a Cultural Marxist agenda.

Is there another reason?

What are the Swiss and Japanese doing? One assumes automation will factor into their plans rather than importing an additional fifth of the country from places with little cultural similarities.

If the Ireland 2040 plan continues, what’s the chances that the real number of immigrants will be more or less than one million?

Update: maths corrected.

Three cheers for Jeremy Corbyn!

The slow moving car crash that is Brexit continued last night with the government losing the vote to ratify the deal made with the EU by a unprecedented margin as predicted by everyone…… including most of Theresa May’s cabinet.

The Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, had several options in front of him at that point. He chose to call for a vote of no confidence, which, if lost by the government, will result in a General Election.

We don’t really do predictions here but we’ll make an exception in this case – there is more chance Halle Berry will turn up at my house tomorrow evening wearing sexy lingerie and holding a bottle of Krug, a box of Godiva chocolates and a Barry White playlist on her iPhone than Jeremy Corbyn winning today’s vote.

To have called for a vote that he so clearly won’t win (the rebel Conservative MPs hate Theresa May’s deal but they aren’t going to allow the Labour Party have an early chance at government either – turkeys don’t vote for Christmas) shows a depressing lack of imagination.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone with more than a passing familiarity with Corbin’s history. He used to be my MP for a while during my years in London (no, I didn’t vote for him), during which time I learned enough about him to realise he fits the “useful idiot” description perfectly. His deputy, John McDonnell, in the other hand, would be truly terrifying if he got close to the reigns of power.

Corbyn has, in effect, been wrong and proven wrong about nearly everything for nearly all his adult life. His fundamental belief is that socialism is the ideal form of political and societal organisation and that we just need to implement it correctly this time. The 200 million or more dead bodies in the 20th century are simply a statistical side note during the experiments to find the right version.

No surprise then, that a pointless gesture would be his first choice tactic. But what were his other options last night when responding to Theresa May?

Here’s a few this non-political professional can think of;

1. Commiserate Theresa May and offer to form an emergency cross-party cabinet to thrash out a counter offer to take to the EU next week.

2. Commiserate Theresa May and thank her for her efforts to negotiate in good faith with the EU but state that this has clearly been a one way street. The EU have not intended to find a mutually acceptable compromise from the start of the process and, therefore, Labour recommend the government pivot to the assumption that they are dealing with a hostile foreign power and commence planning accordingly. Labour will fully support the government in a bipartisan approach during this period of national crisis.

3. Commiserate Theresa May and ask her to return to the house within 24 hours with an outline of her revised approach to ensure an orderly exit from the EU on March 29th. The house should be offered a vote of confidence on this approach and, if lost, she will resign as Prime Minister or a general election will be called (pick one).

4. Commiserate Theresa May and then read a prepared statement which sets out, in simple language, Labour’s alternatives to the contentious elements of the bill. Offer to support the government to pass the re-submitted bill if these amendments were made.

There are probably loads more versions of these suggestions that Corbyn could have taken last night. That he took the one least likely to succeed is in character but still confusing. He suffers greatly from cognitive dissonance but this takes it to a new level.

Bill’s Opinion

What’s going on?

I can think of a few possible explanations and, frankly, I’ve not settled on which one is most probable;

1. Everything is as it appears; we have an incompetent Prime Minister, an even more incompetent Leader of the Opposition and a foreign power acting in bad faith.

2. Losing the vote was a deliberate negotiation tactic by the Prime Minister, enabling her to put the EU under pressure to improve the terms of the deal or risk the “no deal” option. The Leader of the Opposition is incompetent and the EU are acting in bad faith.

3. It’s all kayfabe. What we are witnessing is a public play between the EU and UK government to give an impression of conflict and subsequent resolution while the terms of exit have already been agreed and the strategy to achieve approval has been meticulously planned. Jeremy Corbyn is still incompetent.

4. As (3) but Jeremy Corbyn is in on the secret too.

(1) and (2) don’t concern me; we will either see a “no deal” exit (i.e. WTO terms) or a reasonable but not perfect deal.

(3) and (4) are truly scary but, to be true, using our razor, have the most unproven assumptions.

Have I missed any potential explanations?

Which do you think is most likely?

What this war needs is a futile gesture….

Well, that’s a clear choice then

The democratically-elected joint Presidents of the EU have written to Theresa May with assurances that are apparently meant to help her convince parliament to vote for the recently negotiated deal.

The letter in full is here.

Parliament has the “meaningful vote” this evening around 19.00 UK time. It’s not looking likely that the deal will be ratified, but in these febrile times, who knows?

The great thing about the letter, if one chooses to read it carefully, is that it clearly signals to the UK that the EU has not, nor has any intention of in the future, negotiating in good faith.

That’s quite a bold statement, why am I so sure?

Theresa May’s biggest problem (of which she has many) is that she relies on the Northern Ireland party, the DUP, to have any chance of winning the vote.

The DUP’s prime concern is that Northern Ireland remains a part of the UK and not be become a vassal state of the Republic of Ireland and the EU.

In fact that should also be the prime concern of any resident of Britain who enjoys only having Islamic terrorism to contend with these days.

So, if you were the EU president and you wanted to give that assurance to Theresa May to pass on to the DUP, all it would take would be an extra clause in the agreement giving the UK the unilateral ability to exit the so-called “backstop”. What, maybe 2 sentences with no more that 40 words in total?

That it’s not offered in that letter and, instead, there are vague and nebulous statements about “best endeavours” signals they aren’t interested in compromising.

This is the paragraph that tells you they aren’t budging;

The European Council also said that, if the backstop were nevertheless to be triggered, it would only apply temporarily, unless and until it is superseded by a subsequent agreement that ensures that a hard border is avoided, and that the European Union, in such a case, would use its best endeavours to negotiate and conclude expeditiously a subsequent agreement that would replace the backstop, and would expect the same of the United Kingdom, so that the backstop would only be in place for as long as strictly necessary.

In other words, “you’ve had our best offer, take it or leave it”.

Bill’s Opinion

Whatever happens, democracy in the UK will never be the same after this evening.

It’s anyone’s guess what comes next; riots on the street, quiet resignation of rule by elites or perhaps even the recognition that MPs are voted in to office to do as they are told?

Regardless, unless parliament can agree on a new bill to alter the current withdrawal bill or the Cabinet triggers a constitutional crisis by extending Article 50, the UK leaves the EU at 11pm, March 29th.

Deal or no deal.

Wasn’t this tried once before in one half of Germany?

That this should come from a German politician’s mouth is somewhat ironic.

Spahn, a conservative heavyweight among Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats who recently lost a contest to become the party’s leader, described a knock-on effect of countries attracting doctors from neighboring countries, as is the case with Switzerland taking in German physicians.

That’ll be the “free movement of labour” thing that the EU is so much in favour of then.

Or is the deal that only low skilled labour should be allowed to move so as to keep a downward pressure on domestic wages?

“That cannot be right. We should therefore think about whether we need to create new regulations on the luring away of people with certain professions within the EU, and without fundamentally calling into question the freedom of movement within Europe,” he was quoted as saying.

Bill’s Opinion

The good news is, the Germans have relatively recent experience and understanding on what the solution is to this.

The bad news is, if Trump gets his budget passed, there’ll be a global shortage of workers with the skills to build it for a year or two;

Stop giggling at the back

One would have to have a heart of stone to not find this amusing.

The unannounced move by the US State Department, which has not previously been reported, downgraded the EU delegation’s diplomatic status in Washington from member state to international organization.

Excellent.

“We don’t exactly know when they did it, because they conveniently forgot to notify us,” an EU official who is familiar with the matter told DW in an interview.

“I can confirm that this has not been well received in Brussels,” the person said, adding that the issue and an official EU response was still being discussed. Meanwhile EU officials in Brussels said on Tuesday that per protocol, the diplomatic rank of David O’Sullivan, the EU’s ambassador to Washington, had been reinstated.  

Not well received in Brussels” must be one of the least intimidating phrases known in the English language.

It reminds me of that classic line from Dennis Healey, “I must say that part of his speech was rather like being savaged by a dead sheep.”

‘Forgot to notify us’

A Washington-based diplomat of an EU member state also confirmed the downgrade, and denounced the move.

“This is clearly not simply a protocol issue, but this is something that has a very obvious political motive,” the person said. The diplomat added that the negative view of the EU mission downgrade was shared by the majority of member states.

After discovering the downgrade, EU diplomats in Washington reached out to the State Department, which is responsible for diplomatic affairs, for clarification. “They have told us that they forgot to notify us and that this is a decision they have taken because that is apparently what the chief of protocol thinks is the proper thing to do,” the person said.

That’s the thing about invites, surely; you don’t tend to get notified when they are not offered.

Bill’s Opinion

Once I was a young man

All I thought I had to do was smile

While you are still a young girl

And you bought everything in style

So once you think you’re in you’re out

‘Cause you don’t mean a single thing without

The handbags and the gladrags

That your poor old Granddad had to sweat to buy you

Capitalism and democratic choices are a distant memory in Australia

Remember how, back in the mists of time there used to be a clear choice for voters; a party of the free markets and less government spending versus a party representing the working class and unions?

Perhaps we’re looking back with rose tinted glasses and t’was always thus. Nonetheless, Australians were given a very clear glimpse of what lies ahead should the economy take more than a minor dip over the coming months and years; the federal government becomes lender of last resort to crap businesses.

No. Really.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Small Business Minister Michaelia Cash will announce the small business funding policy on Wednesday, promoting the soon-to-be-established Australian Business Securitisation Fund as a way to overcome banks typically only lending to the self-employed when they pledge their personal home as collateral.

To summarise the announcement; “if the banks looked at your business and decided it was a poor bet and you didn’t have enough skin in the game, we’ve just decided the Australian taxpayer and their superannuation funds will lend you the money anyway“.

It’s very easy to be generous with other people’s money, isn’t it?

This is bound to end well.

The irony is that this policy wasn’t announced by either of the openly Socialist parties but by one of the two parties that historically claimed to be champions of free markets and minimal government intervention.

At a state level, similar disconnects have been shown between expressed and revealed preferences. Here’s a “free markets” politician bailing out rent-seeking taxi medallion speculators.

The $2bn fund to lend money to businesses judged by commercial lenders to be poor risks is an interesting development though, coming as it does so soon in to the worst housing crash in a generation, but particularly after this little legislative gem was snuck through onto the statute books with hardly any media coverage or explanation; insolvent banks can be rescued by confiscating deposits.

Bill’s Opinion

Will a “bail-in” of superannuation funds or bank deposits ever happen in Australia?

Unlikely, but not impossible. The risk isn’t zero.

There’s a great and often quoted dialogue in Hemmingway’s The Sun Also Rises;

‘How did you go bankrupt?’ Bill asked.

‘Two ways,’ Mike said. ‘Gradually and then suddenly.’

Perhaps this is the “gradually” part for Australian depositors. If so, it might be an idea to know how quickly you could act to not be caught out by the “suddenly“.

Freedom 2018

Freedom House, an “independent watchdog” has released a study which listed the most free countries in the world.

At least that’s the claim. Others might suggest the report proves something very different. For example, one possible conclusion that could be drawn from the report is that the authors are suffering from deep psychological issues of self-loathing perhaps bordering on Stockholm Syndrome.

Why?

Because the report claims the USA has slipped significantly in the levels of freedom available to its citizens.

Has it? What’s happened in the last 12 months?

Oh, President Trump said some mean words and passed Executive Orders halting immigration from countries with poor anti-terrorism vetting procedures;

The president has also lambasted and threatened the media—including sharp jabs at individual journalists—for challenging his routinely false statements, spoken disdainfully of judges who blocked his decisions, and attacked the professional staff of law enforcement and intelligence agencies. He signals contempt for Muslims and Latin American immigrants and singles out some African Americans for vitriolic criticism. He pardoned a sheriff convicted of ignoring federal court orders to halt racially discriminatory policies and issued an executive order restricting travel to the United States from a group of Muslim-majority countries after making a campaign promise to ban all foreign Muslims from the United States.

Ok, we get that “more than 130 in-house and external analysts and advisers from academia, think tanks, and human rights institutions” didn’t vote Republican in 2016 but has the USA really slipped back to the days of King John’s authoritarian rule?

If only there was an independent data set that showed what the population of the world thought and the subsequent individual choices they were making?

We’ll have to wait for an update to this survey but what’s the likelihood that the results have changed significantly in a year?

By the way, if you look closely, you’ll see Vilfredo Pareto’s observation proven correct again.

Bill’s Opinion

Is there any area of academia and the media in 2018 not tainted with confirmation bias?

The fact that Trump is President and tweets mean things about your friends is not the same thing as a South American dictatorship “disappearing” political opponents and beating the soles of their feet with electrical cable in the basement of the Secret Police building or Putin’s supporters killing journalists.

It just isn’t. Grow up.

Pax Kiwi

The Gladiator bloke did much to perpetuate the cross-Tasman rivalry this week by suggesting that Australia and New Zealand should unite as a single country under the leadership of Jacinda Ahern, the Kiwi version of Justin Trudeau, except without testosterone (but I repeat myself);

At first blush, this looks like another case of an uniformed lefty Luvvie (again, I repeat myself) projecting their utopian world view on a reality that is incompatible.

But wait, there might be something in this combined Australasian Über Country…..

A casual reading of the Australian Constitution reveals the following clauses;

Australian Constitution, section 6: Definitions;

The Commonwealth shall mean the Commonwealth of Australia as established under this Act.

The States shall mean such of the colonies of New South Wales, New Zealand, Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia, and South Australia, including the northern territory of South Australia, as for the time being are parts of the Commonwealth, and such colonies or territories as may be admitted into or established by the Commonwealth as States; and each of such parts of the Commonwealth shall be called a State.

Curious. So, according to the Australian Constitution, New Zealand is already defined as a State of Australia.

Really? How do the Kiwis feel about this?

More importantly, what does it mean and what relevant precedents are there?

Well…. Western Australia was not an original member of the Commonwealth, joining 3 weeks after Federation following a state-wide referendum. Interestingly, the time lag between the west and east of Australia has since grown, with Perth now preparing fireworks to celebrate seeing in the Millennium next December 31st.

Interestingly, from my research, it would seem the process for WA to join the rest of Australia was a referendum; by voting “Yes”, the State was granted automatic membership in the newly-federated country. If any students of history can confirm this, I’d be grateful, but it would seem the national parliament didn’t have a subsequent vote to confirm/reject the application.

This has a significant implications for the citizens of New Zealand….

Bill’s Opinion

If New Zealand were to hold a referendum and the majority of Kiwis vote to join Australia, there isn’t a damn thing the Aussies can do to prevent them from joining the federation.

Why would they do this?

Let’s answer that question with another question; hey Kiwis, how would you like a heated pool in your backyards, a speedboat and a new German SUV….. and get the Aussies to pay for them?

Clauses 105 and 105a allow for the Commonwealth to take over States’ debts. So, rack up the credit cards, hold a vote and then ask the neighbours to pay the bill.

Lastly, Clause 25 is, erm, interesting….

If you try to shoot me, don’t miss

Judge Kavanaugh and his accuser faced off at an unedifying Senate hearing last week. Whatever your political hue, I would hope that you’d agree that the spectacle was a new low point in terms of fact-based civil discourse between the different sides of the political spectrum.

Whichever of them was more convincing to you is going to be largely a function of your previous position during the 2016 election.

The purpose of this blog post is not to attempt to convince you one way or another but to put forward a hypothesis;

The likelihood of Roe vs. Wade being overturned in full or in part has increased significantly as a result of the Democrats’ decisions to hold on to Mrs. Ford’s accusation until so late in the process and the subsequent aggressive tactics to block the Judge’s nomination based on such a low standard of evidence.

In other words, the Democrats may have shot themselves in their collective feet.

Why do I believe this?

Because even the most honest and pure of intentions amongst us is human. Judge Kavanaugh is no exception to this, as his barely-concealed rage last week illustrates. Even if he was previously undecided on whether or not abortion should be ruled legal at a Federal level before his nomination, it’s not a stretch of imagination to suspect he’s changed his opinion during this trial by innuendo.

This is not to say Mrs. Ford is lying about the events of 35 (or thereabouts) years ago; her testimony was convincing, she looked like she believed what she was saying.

Similarly, Judge Kavanaugh looked like he believed what he was saying.

And that’s the point…. a robust legal system does not condemn the accused on the basis of a single witness testimony. In fact, if that’s all there is, such cases don’t make it to trial.

Nonetheless, Judge Kavanaugh has been put through the wringer due to a single witness testimony, deliberately withheld until the last minute.

Why? Why did the Democrats choose this set of tactics?

Roe vs. Wade.

Everything the Democrats have done to block Kavanaugh has had the ultimate goal of protecting the 1973 Supreme Court ruling in Roe vs Wade, the ruling which made abortion legal in the USA, regardless of prevailing State legislation.

That a Supreme Court ruling disappoints one team and delights another is nothing new or surprising. Perhaps the reason the Democrats have chosen such an unprecedented and, frankly, distasteful set of tactics in combating a perceived threat (Kavanaugh hasn’t publicly expressed an opinion to date) to this ruling is that they know Roe vs Wade was a fudge.

If one reads the history to the ruling, it’s clear that the previous status quo was a hotch-potch of policies along the lines of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and turning a blind eye, inconsistently applied by different States.

To many, the ruling was a Federal over-reach, imposing at a Federal level, power the Constitution gave to the States.

If Roe vs Wade was a ruling on something less emotive than abortion, say, the use of wood-fired stoves in built-up areas of habitation, there obviously would be nowhere near as much angst on either side of the debate. Most likely, the ruling would have been successfully appealed long ago and, following its reversal, some States would have passed legislation allowing for the use of wood-burning stoves at differing times of the year and for differing reasons. In other States, using wood-burning stoves in towns would have remained illegal.

Bill’s Opinion

Brett Kavanaugh and his family have had to endure atrocious abuse by bad faith political actors using the faux cover of due process.

Regardless of whether Mrs. Ford was attacked 30-something years ago and regardless of whether Brett Kavanaugh was the attacker, if he is subsequently confirmed as the next Supreme Court appointee, he is going to have to be the most objective human in history to not be biased towards overturning Roe vs Wade should such an appeal reach his office.

I’m not suggesting he should do this but an argument could be made along the lines of, “I will recuse myself from voting on this ruling as the inherent issues during the controversy of my nomination were due to Roe vs Wade and, as a consequence of the resulting personal distress, I now have a conflict of interest“.

Personally, I hope he is nominated and overturns the law at the first opportunity; the Founding Fathers were rarely wrong in the design of the American Constitution and I see no reason why abortion shouldn’t be subject to the proven efficiency of the “marketplace” that the system of States being able to write their own criminal law code provides. If you can’t legally have an abortion in Texas, you could still have one in California, for example.

Unfortunately, the precedent of allowing such a low standard of evidence to be a credible reason to derail a Supreme Court appointment is likely to have long-lasting negative effects that both parties will have plenty of time to regret.

On banana republics

Banana republic:

A small state that is politically unstable as a result of the domination of its economy by a single export controlled by foreign capital.

Australian voters were handed a new Prime Minister this month in yet another bloodless party coup.

That’s 8 in 11 years….

6 in 8 years….

5 in 5 years…

What on earth is going on?

Well, perhaps the first conclusion we can draw is that it is self-evident the office of Prime Minister can’t be very important to the national interest otherwise there’d be frantic debates about how greater stability might be achieved.

Any further conclusions will require more analysis. Hopefully what follows adds a new dimension of thinking to what currently passes as intelligent commentary in the Australian media.

The hypothesis we are putting forward today is that the revolving door on the Prime Minister’s office is a function of three factors in combination, two of which are systemic, the third is economic.

Reason One – Mandate Illusion

Australia is a member of a very exclusive but not particularly salubrious club; the group of nations with compulsory voting laws.

Here’s the global view (from Wiki);

Apart from those countries mainly being in the Southern Hemisphere, what else do they have in common?

To borrow an expression I can’t recall the source of, most have “green on their flag“. i.e. they are shitholes.

The list of countries that mandate voting by law is almost exclusively made up of places you’d think twice about visiting for a holiday, let alone considering emigrating to.

Why do countries such as Uruguay enforce laws to make people vote? Perhaps because the politicians are afraid of the result if the voters had a choice to stay away from the polls?

The result is a false mandate. 98% of Australians vote so the winning party convinces itself it has a mandate to govern.

Here’s an idea; hold a general election and announce that the law isn’t going to be enforced. Who believes more than 40% will be bothered to turn up and vote for a Prime Minister who is unlikely to last longer than 18 months before being rolled by their own party?

Reason Two – Voting Complexity

So, you’ve arrived at the polling booth, under the threat of a fine, what are your voting choices?

Here’s an example from an internet search;

Believe it or not, but this is a simple example. Some can be as wide as 2 pages of A4 in landscape.

You now have two options to complete the form; “above or below the line”.

Marking your choices “below the line” requires you to number at least 12 candidates in order of preference. Marking “above the line”, requires 6 choices.

What you are, in effect, doing by choosing the simpler option is outsourcing your secondary choices to the 6 candidates who will allocate these to whomever they’ve already made a deal with should they be elected.

Of course, nobody wants to hang around in a school hall on a weekend writing War and Peace on a voting form so 95% choose the outsourcing option.

For an example of what can happen with this complex system of preferential side deals, research the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party.

This is democracy, Jim, but not as we know it.

Reason Three – The Miracle Economy has Made Australians (and the Australian political class) Fat and Happy

There’s not been a recession in Australia since 1992. Well done Australia! Although some unkind commentators might suggest this stellar run of the economy might have more to do with the economic foresight of geological forces laying down iron ore under the Australian earth several million years ago than the careful and prudential management of modern politicians.

Regardless of the cause, this has produced marvellous levels of national and personal prosperity for the population. Many issues that in other countries would be the source of great public debate and contention have simply had money thrown at them as the solution in Australia.

The net result; there’s not much fundamentally wrong in Australia, people aren’t dying of hunger, unemployment is down to levels that can be explained by the IQ bell curve.

Politicians, therefore, feel no sense of urgency or need to concentrate on bigger issues other than their continued ability to use publicly-funded chauffeur-driven cars and expense overseas “research visits”.

Self-absorbed navel-gazing, in other words.

Bill’s Opinion

Australia’s political system is fundamentally dysfunctional whilst having the illusion of an engaged voting population.

To find a solution requires acceptance of the possibility that compulsory voting and a Byzantine voting form outsourced to politicians to complete are not signs of a healthy democracy and, in fact, can mask the symptoms of a disengaged population.

The political class are simply responding to the opportunity to avoid doing their job as one would expect in any other country. To accuse them of lethargy and venality is to misunderstand the nature of those who would seek office.

A banana republic indeed.