The Weekend Gist: News from Elsewhere

A quiet weekend for Irish political news prompts a quick look at other things happening.

The Weekend Gist: News from Elsewhere

As the behind the scenes overthinking continues, a bit of a break from the norm. A quick Gist on news from elsewhere.

The UK: Government by walking away

Storms caused floods throughout the soggy bits of England. Succesive Tory govt planning regimes allowing building on floodplains mean there are more of those with people living in them than there used to be.

The UK PM is on his jolly holliers and has left his weird advisor man Dominic Cummings minding the shop. He’s hired and then, um, accepted the resignation of a fellow advocating eugenics and then announced a plan to destroy the BBC’s funding system. This weekend’s papers have been gifted stories that the UK Gov won’t abide by its EU legal obligations on Northern Ireland. The Home Office announced new blue passports from next year, with a significant social media spend.

We should consider the details of the various stories to be noise, with the signal to be derived from them simply that the UK gov intends to do profoundly serious things in a profoundly unserious manner.

US: Bernie up, Trump purges

After gyrations following his positive showings in both Iowa and New Hampshire, the media finally swallowed the bitter pill of his heavy Nevada win, and started reporting that Bernie Sanders is the frontrunner to be Democratic candidate for president. There’s about a fortnight more during which that could change, depending on the outcome of a vote in South Carolina (determative of Biden’s bid, in effect) and Super Tuesday (California, Texas etc).

Meanwhile, having escaped his impeachment, Trump is purging his administration. Given his previous difficulties of filling and retaining talent, this result in a leafblower being given a cabinet position.

China: Epidemic problems

One of the problems of authoritarian government is that you don’t get a lot of incentives for sending bad news up the chain of command. In a crisis, this is a big problem, as bad information makes for bad decisions. So the official statement by the Chinese President that the current outbreak poses the most significant health crisis since the creation of the modern Chinese state may be an honest reflection on the resiliance of an authoritarian system in the face of a problem that can’t be dealt with solely through tools of political and social control.

The shared problem of reality

As all of the above have seen in recent years, facts can be denied but the consequences of those denials tend to be irrepressible.