One Nation under CCTV

Now we’ve all known for some time that Britain is degenerating into a neoliberal version of East Germany, with its endemic surveillance and database wet dreams, and few things really surprise me any more, but every so often it manages to plumb an even deeper level of insanity. This time the thieving crooks and totalitarian freaks who run Britain want to install CCTV cameras in people’s homes:

THOUSANDS of the worst families in England are to be put in “sin bins” in a bid to change their bad behaviour, [AK: the aptly named] Ed Balls announced yesterday.

The Children’s Secretary set out £400million plans to put 20,000 problem families under 24-hour CCTV super-vision in their own homes. They will be monitored to ensure that children attend school, go to bed on time and eat proper meals. Private security guards will also be sent round to carry out home checks, while parents will be given help to combat drug and alcohol addiction.

What with all the unprecedented budget deficits, money printing and soaring debt, I’m sure spending more money spying on the population is an excellent idea. I’m not even being sarcastic here. As the government steps up its repressive and unpopular policies, resulting in ever more disillusionment and resentment, this actually constitutes an essential investment in state security. The accompanying expansion of the overgrown nanny state is aimed at making children of the population, incapable of resisting the state’s spreading, suffocating tentacles.

Around 2,000 families have gone through these Family Intervention Projects so far. But ministers want to target 20,000 more in the next two years, with each costing between £5,000 and £20,000 – a potential total bill of £400million. Ministers hope the move will reduce the number of youngsters who get drawn into crime because of their chaotic family lives, as portrayed in Channel 4 comedy drama Shameless.

Sin bin projects operate in half of council areas already but Mr Balls wants every local authority to fund them. He said: “This is pretty tough and non-negotiable support for families to get to the root of the problem. There should be Family Intervention Projects in every local authority area because every area has families that need support.”

But Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said: “This is all much too little, much too late. [AK: what a freak] “This Government has been in power for more than a decade during which time anti-social behaviour, family breakdown and problems like alcohol abuse and truancy have just got worse and worse.”

Or how about you prune welfare, make at least a half-assed attempt at escaping the coming debt / hyper-inflationary spiral (take your pick) and actually encourage these chavs to work for their living.

Mr Balls also said responsible parents who make sure their children behave in school will get new rights to complain about those who allow their children to disrupt lessons. Pupils and their families will have to sign behaviour contracts known as Home School Agreements before the start of every year, which will set out parents’ duties to ensure children behave and do their homework.

The updated Youth Crime Action Plan also called for a crackdown on violent girl gangs as well as drug and alcohol abuse among young women. But a decision to give ministers new powers to intervene with failing local authority Youth Offending Teams was criticised by council leaders.

1. Its old industrial cities in the north, west and Scotland, once home to great shipbuilding, coal and car industries, have been transformed into urban wastelands by the dogmas of the neoliberal consensus. Ironically, far from leading to greater personal responsibility and enterprise, Britain instead experienced social breakdown, deindustrialization and paradoxically, a metastasized state with universal surveillance and databases, political spin, a burgeoning bureaucracy and ever expanding welfare rolls to support the demoralized victims of market fundamentalism. Consider ‘Soviet’ Britain swells amid the recession:

PARTS of the United Kingdom have become so heavily dependent on government spending that the private sector is generating less than a third of the regional economy, a new analysis has found. The study of “Soviet Britain” has found the government’s share of output and expenditure has now surged to more than 60% in some areas of England and over 70% elsewhere. …

Across the whole of the UK, 49% of the economy will consist of state spending, while in Wales, the figure will be 71.6% – up from 59% in 2004-5. Nowhere in mainland Britain, however, comes close to Northern Ireland, where the state is responsible for 77.6% of spending, despite the supposed resurgence of the economy after the end of the Troubles. Even in southern England, the government’s share of spending is growing relentlessly. In the southeast, it has gone up from 33% to 36% of the economy in four years.

The state now looms far larger in many parts of Britain than it did in former Soviet satellite states such as Hungary and Slovakia as they emerged from communism in the 1990s, when state spending accounted for about 60% of their economies. … One of the biggest public sector employers in the northeast is the Department of Work and Pensions, which employs 13,400 there, hundreds of them in jobcentres [AK: the bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy, etc].

Furthermore, southern England’s apparent dynamism came from the real estate bubble and “innovative” development of new financial instruments. We all know how that turned out… Then the article mentions a Liberal Democrat pinko blathering that “the state’s grip on the regions was likely to soften the impact of recession there”. Well, yes. As long as the state holds. But considering that even in comparison with the US, a) Britain is more deindustrialized, b) its imbalances with respect to the rest of the world are far larger as a percentage of GDP, c) it’s more burdened by government and consumer indebtedness, and d) it has far gloomier energy futures (to be explored in more detail below), the specter of state collapse will haunt the British isles over the next decade. Considering that Britons are older and rely on the state for their livelihoods to a much greater extent than Americans, the disintegration of the center will produce a far great social shock in Britain than in the US.

2. Out of all the big European states, Britain probably faces the darkest dark ages – quite literally. France will get by comfortably on nuclear power for a few more decades. Germany has one of the most advanced renewable energy sectors, a breathing coal industry and good relations with Russia, or more to the point Gazprom. So does Italy. Meanwhile, the UK is mothballing its power production capacities and its natural gas production is going into irreversible decline. It is indeed telling that the Economist is now condemning past British governments for relying on the vagaries of open energy markets!

North Sea gas has served Britain well, but supply peaked in 1999. Since then the flow has fallen by half; by 2015 it will have dropped by two-thirds [AK: looks like the Economist is at last beginning to believe that energy resources are finite after all, contrary to its earlier claims]. By 2015 four of Britain’s ten nuclear stations will have shut and no new ones could be ready for years after that. As for coal, it is fiendishly dirty: Britain will be breaking just about every green promise it has ever made if it is using anything like as much as it does today. Renewable energy sources will help, but even if the wind and waves can be harnessed (and Britain has plenty of both), these on-off forces cannot easily replace more predictable gas, nuclear and coal power [AK: and they have a low EROEI]. There will be a shortfall—perhaps of as much as 20GW—which, if nothing radical is done, will have to be met from imported gas. A large chunk of it may come from Vladimir Putin’s deeply unreliable and corrupt Russia [AK: the Economist is again behind the curve; give a few more years, and they’ll be sucking up to Russia for its gas].

Many of Britain’s neighbours may find this rather amusing. Britain, the only big west European country that could have joined the oil producers’ club OPEC, the country that used to lecture the world about energy liberalisation, is heading towards South African-style power cuts, with homes and factories plunged intermittently into third-world darkness.

In terms of energy policy, this is almost criminal—as bad as any other planning failure in New Labour’s 12-year reign (though the opposition Tories are hardly brimming with ideas). British politicians, after all, have had 30 years to prepare for the day when the hydrocarbons beneath the North Sea run out; it is hardly a national secret that the country’s nuclear plants are old and its coal-power stations filthy. Recession has only delayed the looming energy crunch… [read the lengthier article The looming electricity crunch: Dark days ahead for more detail].

Nuclear plants are being decommissioned and coal usage is being reduced, not only for environmental reasons, but also because coal seams are steadily becoming poorer in energy content. Plans to build 33GW of off-shore wind generating capacity are hot air. This would require the building of 5,000 wind turbines over 11 years, which is unrealistic in the present economic conditions, and this is discounting their extremely poor EROEI and weather fluctuations which cause 25GW of wind power on paper to be worth only 5GW in practice. By the mid-2010’s, Britain will be facing a big energy shortfall and will experience intermittent blackouts and brownouts. Its already heavy reliance on gas, which currently generates 46% of the electricity supply, will only increase.

Unfortunately, UK natural gas production peaked in 2000 and has since declined at a rate of 8-10% per year, so it is expected to import 80% of its consumption by 2020. (This will necessitate the expansion of LNG terminals, which is a very capital-intensive and time-consuming enterprise). Were it not for the recession and a warm winter, it is likely that the UK would have run out of gas in storage before the end of winter in 2009; as it is, we can expect this to happen once the stimulus-fueled recovery kicks in. So no wonder we are all socialists now, even the Economist:

All this leaves Britain in a hole. The lights are dimming, but green targets are an argument against new coal plants, security-of-supply concerns make gas dicey, lack of time rules out nuclear, and worries about practicality dog renewables.

The situation is so bad that many former fans are openly questioning Britain’s hands-off approach to energy, which it has spent the past decade trying to export, particularly to Europe. Lord Browne, a well-regarded former boss of BP who now heads the Royal Academy of Engineering, wants to see state-owned banks forced to invest in renewables and has spoken warmly of the dirigiste policies of Tony Benn, the hard-left minister who ran Britain’s energy department in the 1970s. Malcolm Wicks, who has twice been energy minister, warned Gordon Brown on August 5th that the reliance on “companies, competition and liberalisation” should be reassessed, and counselled state intervention to boost nuclear power.

All this assumes, of course, that the state will continue to function like business-as-usual. That is unlikely. As pointed out above, Britain is caught between the Scylla of hyper-inflationary fire and the Charybdis of a debt trap freeze. Its government may simply lose the fiscal capability to rebuild the energy infrastructure or buy natural gas from anyone.

3. Along with mounting economic difficulties, corruption and authoritarianism, the British state is likely to experience separatist tensions. The Scottish population is ambiguous about independence, but the rush to autonomy will accelerate as it becomes clear the ship of state is capsizing. Though the North Sea oil fields are in decline, they are still very valuable and substantial, especially when spread out over 6mn instead of 60mn people.

Benighted, state-dependent Northern Ireland will increasingly look to its dynamic southern neighbor. Though the Irish Republic is currently floundering and making deep cuts to its welfare state, in the longer run I believe Ireland has good prospects. Its healthy demography precludes the pension time bombs facing developed Europe and Japan, and as a newly-developed nation, the Irish possess a deeper level of communal tradition and ties with the land than is the case in most of Western Europe. This will mitigate the humanitarian impacts of a shriveling welfare state, and the rest will be washed away with Guinness. Its abundant land per capita makes a repeat of its 19th century Malthusian crisis unlikely, though if civilization really does collapse in a few decades it will be reconquered by the English.

Speaking of whom, in the here and now, even the English increasingly want out, because of the perception that Scots dominate the British nation. The Scots get many benefits that the English don’t, like lower university tuition fees and cheaper prescription drugs, despite paying the same taxes. If it hadn’t been for the Scots, then Labour wouldn’t have been in power for the last decade. Flying the British flag and toasting the Queen is considered quaint, as loyalties slowly shift from Britannia back to Albion.

It would not be surprising if within a decade we will see the following developments: an independent or very autonomous Scotland; a Northern Ireland reabsorbed into the Republic of Eire; and an independent England & Wales. Everyone benefits. England stop transferring resources to its poorer peripheries; Scotland gets lots of oil and a chance to wean itself off the state; and the Irish isles are again united. The numerous military facilities in Scotland will presumably be leased to England and there will be peaceful squabbles over the proprietorship of British assets abroad.

4. In tandem with its slide into societal and economic oblivion, Britain is becoming an essentially Orwellian society. Local councils use spy planes to identify persons guilty of energy wastage. The government prosecutes poets and bans political commentators. Teenagers can be served ASBOs, which can include imprisonment and other punishments, based on anonymous tip-offs. One news story I remember from when I lived there glorified a man who ratted out on his son for possessing a gun, who got 5 years in jail for his patriotic act. According to an intriguing admission from the Economist, “no policeman has ever been convicted of murder or manslaughter for a death following police contact, though there have been more than 400 such deaths in the past ten years alone”. Parliament has become a nest of corruption. 20% of the world’s CCTV cameras blanket Britain’s public spaces and there are all kinds of freakish schemes to expand one-way surveillance over the entirety of society:

Want to be an investigative journalist of the future? You’ll need a pen and paper, pay-as-you-go phone, and a motorbike. We’ll explain the motorbike later. But you may be an endangered species. New regulations that came into force last week – requiring telephone and internet companies to keep logs of what numbers are called, and which websites and email services and internet telephony contacts are made – have left some wondering if investigative journalism, with its need to protect sources (and its sources’ need, often, for protection), has been dealt a killer blow. …

“I would say that investigative reporting is desperately threatened by what this government is doing. I’ve been thinking a long time about how to stay one step ahead of the game,” says the Brighton-based investigative journalist Duncan Campbell (not the reporter of the same name on this paper). “The good news is that the surveillance methods that would close down what we do are still one step away. This isn’t the one that does the real harm.”

That will come, Campbell thinks, when the police put all sorts of information – vehicle licence plates’ movements, emails, phone callsinto a real-time system that anyone can access. But that’s not to say the new regulations will not have an impact.

Investigative journalists, and anyone with minimal concern for their privacy in general, will have to go “off the grid”, an increasingly difficult undertaking because of the state’s growing suspicions, authoritarianism and power. And abuse of the system won’t be limited to zealous anti-terrorism officers and tax officials. Even now, corruption is visibly growing at the highest levels: as soon as there is an economic collapse, it will spill over into the rest of society and become a societal norm like in Third World nations. Know the right people and reach an understanding with them, and you’ll get the unrestricted use of all these extensive government databases for yourself (even today the government’s data security is woefully bad). By “you” I don’t mean the ordinary man or woman, of course, but politically connected bigwigs, corporations and mafiosi. Facing no resistance from an apathetic population pining for the nanny state to protect them from terrorists, yobs, and responsibility in general, the British state is stealthily assembling an impressive apparatus for monitoring, controlling and exploiting the population.

Yet ultimately, as a wise guy once said, every country has the government it deserves. Britain is no exception. Respect for education is far lower than in Europe or the US (yes, the US, the usual British snickering to the contrary). University courses are shorter (3 years for a Bachelors, another 2 for a phD) than in Europe or the US, and are almost exclusively aimed at developing narrow and over-specialized, but marketable, skills. The development of a conscientious citizenry with a broader understanding of global issues is given short shrift, all the better for the elites. Creationism is making a comeback in the schools, most prominently in the “city academies” so prominently lauded by Blair and his goons. A recent poll showed half of Brits had cardinal disagreements with Darwin, and most disturbingly there were more evolution-deniers amongst youth than amongst the middle-aged. And such examples of cultural, social and economic decline can be continued ad infinitum.

I don’t seek to condemn, but merely to point out what I see as a panoply of unpleasant truths about Britain, truths which its media would rather spin away rather than tie together (tellingly, the media spin industry is one area where Britain really is unrivaled in its professionalism and sophistication – a pity the talent there is not doing something a bit more useful). Ultimately, Britain’s cultural decay is a symptom, not a cause, of underlying economic, energetic and civilizational stresses which I termed the Malthusian Loop in my article The Belief Matrix. The days of British rationalism and greatness are long gone; “Malthusian” problems have been in evidence since the 1970’s, not yet in terms of population stress but surely in the economy. Now we are heading into a world where “scanning” for solutions is going to be repressed, step by step, and where rulers impose rigid behavioral controls and promote self-aggrandizing propaganda. And this is common to the West and even the entire world. Britain’s dubious distinction is that it is one of the most advanced nations in this prelude to civilizational collapse.

To conclude, Britain faces a series of interlocking crises worse than in practically any other developed nation: a) unsustainable bubble economy & imbalances, b) an emerging energy predicament, c) separatist undercurrents, d) a metastasizing, opaque state, e) cultural decline and creeping spread of corruption. The stresses are growing and one day they will spill into the open, almost certainly within the next decade. You might want to skip island beforehand.

‘Soviet’ Britain swells amid the recession


  1. It’s not a coincidence that Orwell was a Brit. He aimed at USSR, but managed to hit his home country.

  2. Excellent article Anatoly

    I have indeed been thinking of doing more TEFL courses so that I can move to my spiritual homeland of Greece; or maybe somewhere in Latin America. Again, I am just writing a few notes before I head off again (on a considerably shorter journey). But some points

    – Britain is suffering from profound intellectual stagnation. The ‘debate’ seems to consist of left wing journalists attacking right wing journalists for ‘political incorrectness’ and right wing journalists attacking left wing journalists for ‘implied moral equivalence’. Yet they entirely agree about practically everything which would be alright if they weren’t also wrong about practically everything.
    – Relatedly, I heard that after the Athens Olympics, people tore down the CCTV cameras that were installed. Compare this to Boris Johnson who claims to admire Pericles, but whose first move was to create even more CCTV surveillance in British public transport. Of course he is a political ‘opponent’ of the other politicians who also want CCTV.
    – We do indeed have the government we deserve:
    – You are very correct about the paradox of neo-liberalism. Have you read Black Mass by John Gray? He says something like ‘by trying to make Britain a bourgeoisie nation, she destroyed the bourgeoisie… by trying to destroy state influence, she created a country where the state was all pervasive’ (not precise quotes but I do not have it with me).
    – Good title, demonstrating the religious faith that Brits seem to have in the surveillance state, but you seemed to be scoffing when I took a photo to illustrate this here 😉 :
    – I have been having an ongoing debate with a more conservative friend over welfare; France and Germany have more generous welfare systems than Britain has without the political problems. I do not deny that some people abuse the British welfare system; but would these people be ‘employable’ anyway?
    – One area where I would agree with New Labour is ‘education, education, education’… though look how far that got them?
    – National Pride is immensely stupid in Britain. I have read so many journalists scoffing at the French for having state run railways. Yet France is a far better model of fiscal responsibility than Britain is. They have roughly half of our external debt. We could learn a lot from our geographical and demographic cousins, yet we keep reading about how we should follow the USA. This is just intrinsically unrealistic for many reasons.
    – Foreign policy is another region where the media/ political culture is entirely closed. I wrote to my MP to complain about his parties response to the Georgian conflict. He wrote back about how awful Russia is. Then I wrote with a list of Saakashvilli’s shortcomings to see if he would condemn these. No reply.
    – The War on Terror was a really disturbing event in modern Britain that showed how easily the British people would be frightened and give away their civil liberties.
    – But there is a gullible culture in Britain. The July 7 truthers, dismissed by practically everyone, have managed to get the government to change its story numerous times concerning what happened. And there has still been no private enquiry. Obviously there are many weird and unprovable conspiracy theories that don’t interest me, but there are many intelligent and rational questions that the state has not answered.
    – Lastly, there is a complete lack of either intellectual or political leadership for those who dissent from the British status quo of the surveillance state.

    In conclusion, I will stay for a while. I have a fairly good job and there is beautiful scenery here and some wonderful people. However, politically speaking, I am extremely pessimistic about where we are going. I certainly don’t rule out leaving the country. Sorry this is very slapdash.

    • Gregor, I think the best country for you would be Canada – it has a strong Orthodox community (granted, mostly Ukrainian, but there are also around 250k Greeks), one of the brightest prospects amongst the developed world, a very rational immigration system, and it would be easier to move to the US should you or your children become the super-capitalist-enterprising type. 😉

      Re-John Gray. Haven’t read Black Mass, but I have read False Dawn. Back then I was more under the influence of the neoliberalism, so it didn’t make a big impression, though recently the basic truths of what he is saying are becoming increasingly evident.

      Re-that photo. Scoffing? It’s an excellent metaphor for modern Britain. Substitution of the eyes of God (i.e. basic pre-capitalist social values) for the eyes of the state (when everything can be bought, including morality, then the state must become more coercive to keep an increasing artificial society cemented together – hence you have an emerging surveillance police state).

      Re-France & Germany. France has pretty big social problems with its Muslims, who are locked out of the labor market by the combination of poor educations, white-French chauvinism and strict employment laws. Though overall I agree the situation there is much better than in the UK.

      Re-the future. Probably economic collapse, a faux-conservative reaction, and after that the return and full consolidation of authoritarian, inegalitarian socialism. That would be my guess.

    • PS. Re the title. Can’t really claim credit for it, since One Nation under CCTV was the artist Banksy’s idea.

      • Anatoly
        Just a quick message from a friend’s computer. Noticed you wrote:
        ‘As the government steps up its repressive and unpopular policies, resulting in ever more disillusionment and resentment’

        The strange thing is, this is not really the case. Certainly Brown is deeply unpopular, but this is nothing to do with his policies (which are practically identical to Camerons) but because he does not fit in with the media obsessed Britain.

        As for Canada, there is a lot that is appealing about it as a country, but I disliked their decision to ban George Galloway. I’m no fan of the guy, but to say someone is not allowed in the country because of their poilitical views is really creepy. Especially when the word ‘terrorism’; is brought up to bar an egocentric big-mouth. I know the same happens in Britain, but what’s the point of leaving the fire-pan?

        Of course, by the time I got Canadian citizenship, Obama might have turned the USA into the People’s Republic of America 😉 (according to the right wingers on the internet anyway).

        ‘Black Mass’ is a far more interesting book than False Dawn. Gray is himself a classical liberal, but his comments on how small state liberalism has become a statist system is very interesting.

  3. Couple of small points, about education. I am a US citizen but something of a nomad, and had most of my higher ed in the UK:

    “University courses are shorter (3 years for a Bachelors, another 2 for a phD) than in Europe or the US,”

    However, in Scotland the undergraduate course is 4 years, and not as narrowly focused as in England. Also, I don’t know where you got the PhD stats, but in my experience it usually takes longer than that, 3-4 years normally (not that longer is always better).

    As an aside, continental European students often greatly prefer studying in Britain (or Ireland) because their own unis tend to be huge (tens of thousands of students), impersonal, and bureaucratically obstructive.

    “and are almost exclusively aimed at developing narrow and over-specialized, but marketable, skills.”

    Almost exclusively? Unless something has drastically changed in the last 10 years or so, the curricula at the better unis tend to be quite academic and traditional in nature.

    • 1. The 2-year phD is a new “innovation” I’ve heard of from a friend in academia there. I’ll see if I could confirm that. Longer is not necessarily better, but there’s no way you can get a traditional phD level of proficiency in a subject after 2 years of study unless you’re a genius or have no life, and neither condition holds even for the majority of graduate students.

      2. Agreed on Scotland, IIRC you can take 3 subjects in your first year and choose one to specialize in during the second year. It’s not as good / free as the typical US system, but far better than in England where if you choose a subject you come to hate you get screwed (and in any case acquire a narrow specialization).

      3. If you’re talking of universities like Cambridge or Edinburgh, then yes. Yet as you go into middle-tier unis you start hearing horror stories…

      An anecdote. Academic acquaintance there got the task of teaching a theory-heavy course on calculus. The pre-course aptitude test he gave his students showed a majority of them incapable of basic arithmetic. How they got through the earlier courses I leave to your imaginations.

  4. A good article AK, there is something incomprehensible about the way the Labour is running the country. They seem to act as psychos when faced with problems. One thing I find amusing is their building of Council Estates around London. Only really posh places like Kensington and Mayfair are probably saved from this idiocy. But Chelsea has Council housing where inhabitants are unable to even buy food in local grocers. On the other hand you can find luxury flats in Hackney, unbelievable mixing of gentry and the mob which leads to some real difficulties.

    The real problem with CCTV is they don’t serve the security needs. In London around Oxford Circus and Leicester Square the possibility of being mugged, knifed or even gunned down in the evenings is still high and such things happen daily, at least the muggings do. There is no way CCTV can solve this problem, yet the cameras are everywhere and the Daily Mail reading British folks comply with them.

    The government seems to be desperate for money, they tax almost everything. I have my favourite beer example. The heavy tax is the only explanation for the poor quality of beer in Britain, whether imported or locally brewed.

    On the issue of education, I wouldn’t say it is that bad as I came to Britain in search of education I couldn’t get back home but I would say SOAS deteriorated in the 3 years of my undergraduate studies. The good, specialised subjects were terminated and replaced with broader less informative ones, while the fees witnessed almost 100% rise. I have overheard a conversation that less experienced lecturers would be given precedence because they are less expensive.

    I contemplated going to Berkeley for my Masters but for some reason I do not like the way America was heading under Bush and I am not so optimistic about Mr. Hope and Change either and I do not have the guts to be that far from home anyway.

    • ‘The real problem with CCTV is they don’t serve the security needs’

      Rather disagree with you there Leos. 1) I do not think the state should have the right to noop on people, even if I trusted the British political establishment but 2) I do not trust our establishment. Our politicians and journalists all agree about practically everything and Britiain is essentially a dictatorship with ballot boxes 3) Why do these politicians want to scrutinise people 4) As you say, at present the CCTV system is useless. So why spend so much money on it? Are they testing the waters? Seeing if people will disagree? Paving the way for something else 4) If the worst case scenario comes up, then Britain may install an even worse government. And they may have resources that no other dictatorship has ever had. As well as an astoundingly apathetic population.

  5. Well, Britain always had a bit of hubris going on, since its empire managed to collapse without total disintegration of the state, unlike just about all other imperial implosions in history. The main reason, of course, was it had big brother US protecting it from that fate to some degree. But the US itself is now facing potentially the same fate, and Britain is sort of stuck with a fast-track version of imperial decline 50 years late.

    One thing to fear, I think, is the power that Britain exerts within the EU out of all proportion to its actual participation in EU institutions. Before the Constitutional Treaty died, Blair had aspirations to be EU President, and is surely still popular enough in most of Europe that heavy swigs of British influence on EU affairs far into the future are not out of the question.

    Germany needs to work on its leadership role to prevent this from happening. In my ideal world, the UK will have a velvet divorce and maybe even leave the EU, which would probably have all parties better off.

    Of course, don’t forget about the frigid world post-apocalyptic Brits will live in after the Gulf Stream shuts down, especially if they turn to indigenous coal supplies for post-peak-oil energy like everyone else probably will…

    • I don’t want to see arctic temperatures in Britain. The British builders know nothing about insulation apparently and below zeros for few days or weeks in winter are disaster every time they occur. This year London got paralysed for few days because of a situation that would mean no difficulty in Eastern Europe.

    • Fortunately, most models predict that the turnoff will be slow enough as to allow the warming to overtake the cooling, and James Lovelock believes Britain will be prime real estate in a hotter world as subtropics dry up. The bad side is that the Thames Valley will be inundated, but overall global warming is one of the few things that will not impact Britain as badly as the rest of the world.

  6. “Of course, don’t forget about the frigid world post-apocalyptic Brits will live in after the Gulf Stream shuts down,”

    If this actually happens, then it’s curtains not just for Britain, but for all of Europe north of the Alps. Shudder…

    As for leaving the EU, that might not be a bad idea. Being out of the club hasn’t hurt Norway or Switzerland as far as I can see.

  7. Sounds like Anatoly has been reading The Abolition of Britain…that book by Peter Hitchens (brother of Christopher) needs a post-Blair update.

    • Never heard of it. According the Wiki article on it, I wouldn’t care much for it because unlike Peter, I’m not a social conservative on most issues.

  8. Tomas Addison says:

    Parts of the United States look like a third world country. US debt is much higher then Britain, second – the Euro is collapsing, and only Germany and France are actually supporting it. I would say that Britain will be OK and we can always import power from France. Britain will be fine and will come out in the next 10 years to still be in the top three richest European countries.