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Update: August 2018

With just shy of 13K comments we have frozen comments and created a new off-topic Lobby for you to continue using.

Although you won’t be able to add new comments below, you can still link to this page, and to individual comments.


Original post:

Since Which? Conversation launched six years ago, there have been almost 4,500 conversations on all sorts of consumer issues – from money to megabytes. And in those conversations, there have been close to 180,000 comments.

Of course, the real strength of Which? Convo lies in its members who contribute so much to every discussion. And one of the better aspects has been watching how this community has slowly but surely grown into such a caring one.

Our community

But, as with any community or conversation it can – and does – wander off-topic. This is perfectly natural, but it hasn’t always been possible to do so in some of the subjects we discuss due to the precisely defined nature of them.

So, at the behest of some of our community members, we’re creating a brand-new convo: The Lobby.

This will give you the space to discuss anything that takes your fancy providing, of course, that your comments remain within our community guidelines.

The Lobby will be available in exactly the same way as all the other conversations, and some of our regular community members will help with the moderation duties.

As always, any ideas spawned here in The Lobby could also be used to generate new topics for debate and discussion, so you – our community members – will be able to really help shape the direction of Which? Convo.

Rules in The Lobby

There are no rules… only kidding 😉

To ensure that this off-topic discussion remains a healthy and friendly place for you all to share your thoughts, musings and ideas, here’s a reminder of our most relevant guidelines:

  1. 1. You may go off-topic… that is the purpose of The Lobby 🙂
  2. 2. You can’t agree with everyone all of the time, but when you do disagree, please be polite and speak to others as you’d like to be spoken to.
  3. 3. Avoid ‘trolling’, or purposely provoking others into a desired emotional response. It’s just mean 😐
  4. 4. Avoid making comments that others might find offensive, threatening, abusive or defamatory.
  5. 5. Website feedback is best shared on this dedicated Conversation. If you would like to talk about the closure of Which.net, you can do so in this dedicated discussion area. This is so we can keep The Lobby to be about everything else.
  6. 6. If you’re a Which? member and you’re looking for somewhere to discuss issues related to our organisation, including governance, then please head over to which.co.uk/haveyoursay.

So without further ado… welcome to The Lobby. What are you waiting for!?

With special thanks to Which? Conversation community member, Ian, who kindly wrote the bulk of this conversation and provided the excellent name of The Lobby.


An interesting and complete silence on recent issues regarding a certain visitor here. Taking my usual non-political stance I dip a toe and wait. Starting factually – no contention – The government has just welcomed the leader of the American people to a meeting. Slightly contentious – the assumption that the man in the suit and tie is a president and is in charge of his government, and therefore if one needs to communicate with America, he is the man to talk with. Any man or woman elected president, would be welcomed in the same way while America remains a necessary ally and a useful partner.
Non-contentious. Crowds, which included senior opposition leaders, gathered protesting at the visit because they dislike the man in the suit and tie, what he personally stands for and his “table manners.”
The square to circle is that of deciding whether the man matters or his status matters.
Would the opposition -in government wish to cold shoulder America until the White House occupation changes? Is the government right to keep friendly relations with America as a priority no matter who is in the White House?
If he had not visited, there would have been no protest and people would have gone around airing their American vexations individually. A lot of policemen would have had the day off.
Who, exactly, made sure that everyone got to London yesterday?
How has the act of visiting changed anything other than upsetting a large slice of our public?
Would a refusal to visit have changed anything other than contenting a large slice of our public?

The president probably gained some personal kudos -tea with the Queen mattered – he may or may not act differently towards the U.K. now he’s been here and talked with the prime minister. The prime minister may, or may not have said things that the president hadn’t considered and now appreciates.

Poodle? Well a bit of a mongrel really.

Thank you, Vynor.

I am glad the man in the blue suit with the red tie [but, in a fashion faux pas, not wearing red socks] came to see us. As you say, we’ll never know what transpired but I guess it was worth it. Unless Donald Trump really is a baby or a complete fool I cannot believe his visit didn’t leave some favourable impression on him and it wouldn’t bother me if he came over for a catch-up every few weeks – there might then be less tweeting from the hip. The First Lady seemed to be enjoying herself with Philip May and the Chelsea Pensioners [no . . . that’s not a band].

Following these simple maintenance tips could save you up to £80 on a repair, according to quotes we got for simple repair jobs from Which? Trusted Traders in June 2918,

Read more: which.co.uk/reviews/vacuum-cleaners/article/how-to-fix-a-vacuum-cleaner-thats-lost-suction – Which?

Aren’t they pretty obvious though? A bit like emptying the grass box on your lawnmower when it is full?

“. from Which? Trusted Traders in June 2918”. Are you saying that Which? is getting ahead of itself, Patrick?

Well spotted. Must be old fogeys are good for something.

I say that a little tongue in cheek as I am aware that there are many subscribers who are highly intelligent people who have been active in a wide range of careers. Unfortunately tapping into this talent via a live active searchable forum is not possible.

Informative post locating

Actually, it might be…

You’ve sparked an idea, Patrick. Some time ago I (along with others) suggested that curation of the best and most informative posts should be done, so easy and rapid reference could be made. Now, most of what we post isn’t that informative, obviously, but occasionally there are some real gems. Wave’s comments on anything biological for instance, Malcolm’s informative engineering ‘related posts, Kenneth’s white goods posts and so on.

The problem with all these is that they’re difficult to find but there’s one way around this which might work.

If a post is made which offers both links and involves the contributor in some research and is highly informative, then we could tag it with a unique heading. I’ve done it for this post, and the enhanced search function which Adam(?)’s provided might be just the ticket.

Ideally, of course, we would have the capability to add meta tags but it wouldn’t be that hard to write a subroutine that could create a meta tag from any emboldened heading that appeared at the top of any post.

For the moment,however, we could try this method. If we start with today, we could simply place a header at the top of any post we felt was worth being able to access quickly. In a week or so we’ll see if it works.

I cannot comment on the programming intricacies of your suggestion, Ian, but I think it is worth developing.

Subject I have been thinking about the problem of picking up the thread of the various items that enter The Lobby every day because they seem to get too tangled to negotiate at times and it becomes impossible to follow a particular strand. This happens naturally when a side issue breaks away from the original line of conversation and the two are going along like a game of leapfrog; it becomes impossible to associate a reply with the comment to which it relates. I know we have discussed this before – without resolution – and wondered whether, just in The Lobby where there is a big mix of topics running simultaneously, it would be useful to include a subject reference. I am not putting a headline on this comment because it does not come within the category that Ian identifies but I have put the word “Subject” in bold as the first word of this comment to show what I am trying to suggest.

Welcome to the day in 1410 of the Battle of Grunwald, one of Medieval Europe’s largest battles during the Poland-Lithuanian Teutonic War, the day in 1799 when the Rosetta Stone is found in the Egyptian village of Rosetta by French Captain Pierre-François Bouchard during Napoleon’s Egyptian Campaign and the day in 1955 on which eighteen Nobel laureates signed the Mainau Declaration against nuclear weapons, later co-signed by thirty four more laureates.

The gremlins are getting more active here and it takes more than one attempt to reach this page either when posting or returning to it. Leaving the site and re-booting helps.

Vynor, I’ve been noticing that too, especially for this page and independently of what device, browser and network I’m using to access the page.

When this problem was first discussed here, I may even have checked that the issue was also manifesting all locally available PC operating systems.

Given that we know The Lobby carries very many more posts that even a typical “Which? Rant” page, it may be that these problems are an unintended consequence of the database design that has been implemented for these W?C pages.

If so, perhaps a skilled software engineer might fix that. Alternatively, perhaps an easier solution would be to start a new Lobby page, and then start new ones periodically after that, e.g. annually.

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I agree with Derek’s suggestion but do we need to think of some means of carrying forward any comments from one year to the next in a running thread? Perhaps a month’s overlap with duplication might work.

Earlier this morning Duncan Lucas posted the following comment about the Brexit White Paper. I have copied it to here because it was in the middle of a thread that was mainly about electricity tariffs and it seemed that the two strands had diverged but were getting in the way of each other. This now starts a new thread continuing the Brexit discussion.

I liked that last sentence, John, again I do hope you are right have a read https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/blog/does-brexit-white-paper-pass-our-six-tests?inf_contact_key=66fbb1b2d54ac3023c4ba12b593a3cb3f1e4daf68ab20fed285e89eff037bc54 and https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/explainers/pms-brexit-white-paper-what-does-it-mean?inf_contact_key=90a9322e9ede7ffd9c5a675c6850e11744be6961d9547e296d08d5a39ce0efc1 You know all the demands Donald wants in relation to “Chemical Ali ” type giving in to USA food conglomerates , I have it and its a long shocking list as well as the India demands which are even worse

I have skimmed the paper by the Institute for Government referenced above and it seems to indicate that the government is going along the right lines in the White Paper but not everything is properly nailed down satisfactorily to pass the Institute’s six tests. That appears to me to be a reasonable endorsement.

Things have moved on since yesterday and the Prime Minister is now making it clear that, in the absence of any acceptable and workable alternative, her policy – as hammered out a week previously at Chequers – will either have to be adopted by MP’s or there will be no Brexit: Not No Deal, but No Brexit. This seems to be going a massive step further than previous indications that no agreement would mean No Deal, and that No Deal was better than a bad deal. The White Paper has been branded a betrayal in some quarters because it did not represent the complete exit that people voted for, but the new possibility of No Brexit would surely be a total rejection of the Referendum result and offend all those who wish to leave the EU. If this happened it would completely upset the applecart and I think the country would be plunged into political turmoil.

Commentators are suggesting that only another referendum could break the deadlock but what on earth would the Question be? No Deal versus No Brexit? or the White Paper versus No Deal? Whatever was chosen would cause outrage among an alternative major faction. We are certainly heading into uncharted territory now. Is raising the stakes a wise move or the road to ruin?

In voting, as with all things in life, we should be careful what we wish for.

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I believe that ignoring the wishes of the majority would bring about the downfall of the government. Would that be in anyone’s interests at the moment? I have not seen constructive, workable and well thought through alternatives from anyone else. Who, then, would do a better job.

I live in the vain hope that government might one day be seen in the same light as the board of directors of a large company. Their job is to see the company prosper long term and to agree on measures to achieve that. Not to have infighting for personal progression, not to go behind each others backs to promote alternative policies, but to agree, as grown ups should, to work as a team. In something as important as Brexit I would like to see all political parties sitting down together to thrash out an agreed solution; after all, it is their country, and we are all the people who will be affected.

This is just a dream of course.

I didn’t pick that up from the Andrew Marr interview this morning John. It’s certainly a new development if what you say is correct.

No. I don’t think the latest twist was mentioned on the Andrew Marr programme yesterday, Vynor, except to the extent that Theresa May said people must “keep their eyes on the prize” otherwise there will be no Brexit. It was however heavily trailed in the newspapers [particularly the Mail on Sunday and the Sunday Telegraph]; perhaps that was just journalistic scaremongering.

One of the newspaper reviewers on Sunday morning [possibly Amanda Platell] said there were now in the region of 40-45 letters from MP’s calling for a confidence vote. 48 is the tipping point that triggers the process. The Brexiteers would need to get 159 votes in order to win it and I don’t think they have that strength. As I said previously, there cannot be another confidence vote within twelve months of the previous one so it is a dangerous card to play. If the attempt to tip Theresa May out of the Tory party leadership goes wrong she would be in the constitutionally unprecedented position of being a prime minister who cannot be removed by her own party.

If the PM loses the vote of no confidence she would have to stand down as party leader and there would be an election involving every paid-up member of the Party. By the time that was all over the whole Brexit negotiation process would have reached a further stage and prevarication would be pointless.

What I find very strange is that everyone seems to think that all the people who support Leave [i.e. the 52% of the voters in the Referendum plus the additional ones who have since changed their position in favour of Leave possibly making 60% of the number of likely electors if there were another referendum today with the same question] want the same things for Brexit – all out, slam the door shut, toss the keys across the Channel, pull the shutters down, and close the gates. That’s not what I want and although it’s not perfect I think the government’s White Paper is as good as we’ll get. But then I am despised as a pragmatist. I don’t think any faction is able to get everything they want so there has to be some give and take somewhere along the line. The important thing now is to get out on the best possible terms; we can polish the outcome later.

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Sorry, Duncan – your comment means nothing to me. I was only quoting the Prime Minister on TV yesterday. I think it’s a common expression that goes back a long way and has no particular significance.

Update: “Keep your eyes on the prize” is the title of an American folk song associated with the civil rights movement in the 1950-60’s.

Well, things have changed this morning with Greening calling for second referendum. She suggests three questions: 1. Accept PMs plan. 2. Hard Brexit. 3. Remain.

We live in interesting times…

Yes, it’s time for a tie-break, and at least she has resolved the dilemma over the question to be put and suggests a first and second preference vote in order to reach a consensus.

It comes down to Deal, No Deal, or No Brexit. Pretty clear, and would once again split the parties but three ways this time. But isn’t it loaded in favour of Brexit? Brexiteers would vote 1 + 2, Remainers would vote 3 and not cast a second vote.

It would also mean rolling Nigel Farage out of the garage again. Why don’t we do what they did in medieval times: ask the Monarch?

I don’t know why I should have much regard for Justine Greening’s views (from memory not memorable as a minister) any more (or less) then any other minister or MP that chips in. I don’t know what special knowledge or insight they have that others in the process do not. I’d much prefer to see those employed by us to look after our country to work as a team. That means contributing constructively to a consensus on what we’d accept as a best deal and then, whatever their personal views or personal agenda, backing those proposals and any amendments through the negotiation process.

The flaw in the proposed referendum is we have no idea what the PM’s plan will actually be like by the time it has been negotiated and modified with Europe. There will be give and, hopefully, take. Some proposals may be modified to be less favourable but others may be made more favourable in exchange. Not leaving should not be an option as the referendum decided we should leave.

Should we just leave? That seems not to be in anyone’s interests but particularly not in Europe’s. Faced with that option I wonder whether the EU will start to take a more sensible and helpful position (which may well be what is happening behind the public pronouncements anyway). Real negotiations do not happen in public.

Greening did identify the main problem. She stated ‘…because Parliament operates along party lines and the Brexit vote was above and beyond party politics”. She’s right and since we had a referendum to decide the fate of the UK’s people i the first place I believe we need a second one to determine whether no deal, this deal or remain is the best option.

Cameron has a lot to answer for.

Time to take the decision out of the hands of stalemated politicians and give it back to the people to decide.” is what JG said. Well, until the negotiations are concluded we have no decision to discuss. And how are the vast majority of the people in a position to judge all the details that will comprise the final deal?

I believe it was given that parliament would vote on the final deal. We elect them to represent us.

Agree and add that her three referendum options would be as confusing to the public as the original options were. Yes and no were bad enough when no one knew want the no meant. If, as she suggests, parliament is gridlocked on this issue, it needs to spend time sorting itself out, voting and making a decision which will always be unpopular with some; that’s democracy. The tragedy of this whole debacle is that there are so many more useful things the country could be doing and, instead, it loses the plot and the Brexit leviathan rumbles to the exclusion of so much else.

I believe it was given that parliament would vote on the final deal. We elect them to represent us.

Indeed we do, but why, then, was the first referendum called? You see, you can’t have it both ways: either we govern the country through plebiscite or we have Parliament. Since Plebiscite was chosen for the matter of the EU membership it follows that Plebiscite should also be the determinant as to the deal.

As I said, Cameron has a lot to answer for…

He will be remembered historically as the cause of one of the biggest catastrophes since the war. We can not simply walk away, because there is so much interconnection that chaos would ensue, no matter how much both sides see benefits in trading with each other. Customs posts would be the cause of further chaos with massive shortages and panic buying. We can not stay because we have voted to leave. That just leaves some kind of compromise. Mrs May has one that many don’t like, I haven’t seen any others. Those who dislike it, attack the terms but don’t seem to have an alternative. Since this is a two way discussion between ourselves and Europe, if one side rejects what the other puts forward, it doesn’t really matter if Messers Fox, Johnson and Rees-Mogg are in the chairs opposite or the current team is there. They have to agree for us to make any headway. We have little to threaten Europe with for the hard liners to throw at them. We have chosen to leave therefore it is up to us to sort out the problems that decision has caused, Europe can sit back and watch.

Some will think David Cameron made a mistake because his ploy produced a surprising result, one they did not want, and revealed that a significant majority of those who voted did not want to stay in Europe. 7.8% more voted to leave than remain, 1,270 000 of them.

I believe many of those votes would be marginal, and many would maybe vote to remain because they preferred the status quo to the unknown that change would offer. I was in that camp – a remainer, but only just. I would have preferred a referendum vote that gave the opportunity to express the strength of feeling, so voting on a scale of 0 to 10 – 0 totally in favour of remaining, 10 definitely leave, 5 neutral, and see what the weighted result showed.

However, all too late and we have to now make the best of the leaving that was voted for. And we cannot please everyone.

I’d like to see an itemised balance sheet for what we might gain and lose. We will no doubt all have different priorities and concerns. Just as random examples my far from exhaustive list would include the following:
– I don’t like contributing a net £9bn a year into an organisation that I see as distributing money badly to other less well-off states. It nearly destroyed Greece, Spain, Ireland for example. I’d prefer us to use this money for our own benefit.
– I don’t like an over-bureaucratic organisation where unelected people make decisions that significantly affect us. (we have enough of those already in the UK). If the EU introduce a regulation for example, and it is one we see as sensible, beneficial and good, then we should have the option of taking it on. If we don’t like it, leave it alone
– I would like us to have control over what is paid to subsidise our agriculture and not reward large wealthy landowners on a policy decided elsewhere
– I would like us to control our fishing industry and decide our own quotas and who else we allow to fish our territorial waters
– I would like us to decide what vat rate to impose, and have freedom to zero rate certain sectors, such as sanitary products and energy
– I do not want us to have to tender all major projects throughout the EU and be forced to accept the lowest compliant bid. I’d like to keep such work in house where appropriate.
– I do not see that mobile roaming is top of the list, but surely Europeans would like that to be available in the UK when they visit just as we would like it when we go to Europe
– Free healthcare while visiting Europe is desirable, but equally surely the Europeans would want the same when they visit here – so why should that change? The fall-back is insurance.
– Safety standards: I have no doubt that as far as products are concerned we will not change our position. We will observe them. They are largely international and allow free trade; why should that be changed?
– Food standards. I. too, am concerned if, by doing trade deals, we widen the scope of allowable standards – chlorinated chicken and hormone-fed meat for example. However, I believe here we underestimate the intelligence of a majority of UK residents. Providing we are made aware of the possible effects, advantages and downsides, and providing food products are clearly labelled, I can make an informed decision on what I buy. No one is forcing me then to buy the “wrong sort” of poultry.

Daniel and the lion’s den now springs to mind because I see all my points being attacked ( 😊 ) and that is good, because I do not understand all the ramifications of a plan I have not seen, (nor necessarily the facts about the points I’ve raised) but rather than kick around what we should, or should not have done (I’ll do what I please) it might be useful to look at where people’s concerns and preference lie.

As it happens, the government’s new Brexit team will start talking to the European Commission on the PM’s plan today – the Chequers Agreement as set out in a White Paper. There will be no vote on it at this stage but there will be votes in the Commons this week on a number of supporting Bills where any rebellion would be highly inconvenient. So I would expect the Whips to be out in force making sure that the Conservative members do what is expected of them to achieve Brexit. If it’s a three-line whip then any defiance would lead to the whip being withdrawn but that’s the nuclear option and I doubt if things have reached that point yet. Absence, abstention and pairing with an opposition MP are available methods for dodging the issue short of voting against the government.

As Malcolm has pointed out, there is nothing for the people to consider yet because the PM’s plan is only a proposal; it has to survive scrutiny and interrogation in Brussels before anything concrete is ready for consideration and the tock is clicking.

With all due respect to Justine Greening, her suggestion is just a distraction and misses the point – which is that the UK has democratically opted to leave the EU. There should be no Remain option in any further consultation; it’s just a question of Deal or No Deal. The next few months leading up to the EU’s meeting in October will probably settle the terms and then Parliament, within the context of leaving the EU, will have its say [I think]. I would expect that previous Remainers who do not abstain would be likely to vote for a deal if only to prevent a cliff-edge Brexit and a crash on the rocks. I am not convinced that the supporters of a hard Brexit can muster the numbers required to prevail over the combined soft and medium Brexit supporters plus the strategically-minded Remainers who, once they accept that they cannot have what they want, will accept the least worst alternative.

Having given notice to Leave under Article 50 of the treaty I believe the UK government has to go along with it and cannot withdraw the notice. There is no Cancel button. However, I believe it can give notice under Article 49 that it wishes to rejoin the EU under the same terms as a new member, which includes remaining in the customs union and the single market, adopting the four freedoms of movement, accepting the jurisdiction of the ECJ, and converting to the Euro. Since these are total anathema to a broad majority of the country I cannot see that being a way forward. So I am assuming that the penny will eventually drop and a rational outcome will ensue, hopefully with the national interest in mind.

With all due respect to Justine Greening, her suggestion is just a distraction and misses the point – which is that the UK has democratically opted to leave the EU

I don’t believe she misses the point at all, John. The point is that a plebiscite was held and he therefore set a precedent: yes, there was a majority of those who voted but not of the overall voting population, but that aside the precedent has been set. Since the government chose to abdicate responsibility for the decision to leave the EU, then the government has a responsibility to hold another referendum to ensure that the population – now somewhat better educated about what any Brexit will involve – has the chance to ratify the course of action.

There’s also another way to look at things: if another referendum were to produce an even heavier majority in favour of leaving, then those who believe the original was the most catastrophic error imaginable would have less grounds to complain in the future.

Interestingly, I noted how all the pro-leave news media were suddenly singing Trump’s praises over the last few days…

Perhaps we should hold a referendum on whether to have a plebiscite.

This is becoming In?, Out?, Shake it all about!, and the country is getting tired of it.

Does anyone remember Strong and Stable Government?

How come Justin Greening – a back bencher now and I don’t know what expertise she has on matters Brexit – is getting so much air time on the BBC. Perhaps there is remain bias on what should be a news channel, not an opinion former.

Since when does a vote not count when it doesn’t include the overall voting population? Are general elections of no validity unless we have compulsory voting? How do you know what the outcome would have been if everyone had voted? The assumption is, presumably, that if you don’t vote you don’t care. So, if you like, split the no-voters 50/50 and you’re still left with over a million more who chose the leave option.

The more I see of politicians the more I think they are unfit to manage a country.

The General election process is utterly different, Malcolm, as you know. That’s when we elect our representatives – often with a minority vote, BTW, so the government is usually running on a minority mandate.

But I despair when people consistently claim a ‘majority’ of voters were in favour of the Brexit vote. They weren’t. But it’s simply another lie, to go with the hundreds told, including the big one on the bus…

But yes – I agree about politicians. Or rather I agree about parties and politics. A Parliament full of Independents would be the better option, I think.

I would question your conclusion Ian. True -though we don’t know – there could have been a majority in the country in favour of remaining in Europe, but of those who did vote, the opposite is true and this the basis on which we have moved “forward?”. I would also ponder over your suggestion that we know what Brexit will mean and thus be more informed when voting now. What we know is that it means countering a customs border in Ireland, convincing Europe to negotiate on its four freedoms and sorting out the payment we make to extract ourselves. We have little conception (and personally great fear) of what would happen if negotiations stopped and we closed the back door. Thus another no vote, can not be based on the knowledge of what might happen next. It’s all very well wishing to be free of European control but something has to fill that vacuum and vacuums suck in all sorts of hot air and debris with them.

The majority of those who voted opted for exit.

“when people consistently claim a ‘majority’ of voters were in favour of the Brexit vote. They weren’t. But it’s simply another lie.. and “as you know“………. I’m afraid I take exception to a comment that attacks my integrity in this way. I have given my comments to contribute to a Convo.

Apart from what matters most – what individuals voted for – out of the 382 voting areas, 263 voted for exit and 119 to remain.

You actually didn’t claim it was a majority of voters. You chose your words carefully; I was attacking those who don’t.

The problem when you go the statistical breakdown is it becomes clear that it was the older and less numerate voter that voted to leave (NS and Register). No matter how we try to break down the voting patterns it becomes clear that it was far from random:

“The first big psychological study of Brexit voters has found that people who voted Leave in the 2016 UK referendum share many personality traits with Trump supporters in the US, and supporters of far-right political parties in Europe. In particular, they were far more likely to have an “authoritarian” personality.

Around a third of people in western societies have authoritarian personalities. This personality type is partly determined by genes, and features a strong desire for order, obedience, conformity, and cohesion within the “in-group” with which the person identifies. Authoritarian personality was the best predictor of support for Donald Trump in the 2016 US election.

The Online Privacy Foundation, a UK charitable research organisation, worked with US researchers to administer standardised psychological tests online to 11,225 British volunteers just before the referendum. They asked each person how they would vote, and measured personality traits, thinking styles and susceptibility to bias.

“On the direct test for authoritarianism, Leave voters’ scores were nearly twice those of Remainers,” says team member Chris Sumner. “Leavers also scored significantly higher on conscientiousness and lower on openness, the personality traits most frequently associated with authoritarianism.”

Authoritarians’ concern for their in-group can lead to hostility towards immigrants, minorities or foreigners. Erik Tillman of DePaul University in Chicago has found such people tend to dislike the EU, and are more likely to join far-right parties in Europe.” New Scientist, July 9th, 2018.

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Who is the ‘you’ to whom you’re aiming your comments, Duncan?

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In response to https://conversation.which.co.uk/travel-leisure/the-lobby/#comment-1537346
it becomes clear that it was the older and less numerate voter that voted to leave” This suggest that all votes are not equal. Hardly democratic. I’m older and numerate and, like many older voters, have seen a lot and accumulated experience and retained my faculties. (You may not believe that of course 🙂 )

“The first big psychological study of Brexit voters has found that people who voted Leave in the 2016 UK referendum share many personality traits with Trump supporters in the US, and supporters of far-right political parties in Europe. “. Then I must be unique in my current views. I did marginally vote to stay, but have a little more than marginally decided I’d like to leave. I don’t support far-right parties.

Trying to find ways to explain why 17+ million people were wrong is not the way to change an outcome. We simply need to find the best exit deal we can and get the UK standing on its own feet.

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Something a number have been asking for, so Which? do listen.
I’m not sure whether their testing covers the effectiveness of smoke extraction – a problem I have when cooking steak in a very hot pan on the front of the hob. I hang a tea towel on the front of ours to help direct the fumes into the hood. It would be useful to know how effective they are at doing this normally, and this must be related to high high above the hob the hood is mounted.

About time, but no Siemens reviews.

Once again, I am reminded a basic sort feature is missing…Sort by name

After eleven years we have our first new cooker hood reviews. Is it all good news?

Well no. AO claim to have 480 cooker hoods for sale so a selection of 10 looks a little slim even accounting for the numerous AO duplications of finishes etc. Que Choisir have done 73 in recycle mode and 73 in evacuation mode. This is always superior. They have several Siemens and BSH ones if you wish to email me or use CD.

This is a sample of what other consumer groups can do in providing a fuller information pack.
Overall score 86%
Status Tested model
Price $2199
Brand Neff
Model D79MH52N1/03
Mode tested Ducted
Recommended Yes
Rangehood type Wall canopy
Performance score 90%
Ease of use score 90%
Noise score 75%
Size cm 90
Dimensions (cm, HxWxD) 9x90x50
Noise, low/high (dBA) 41/57
Control location Front panel
Running cost/100 hrs $1.6
Number of light globes 3
Type of light 3 W LED
Filter type Metal anti-grease
Filter dishwashable Yes
Ducting pipe diameter recommended (mm) 150
Minimum installation mounting height above stove (mm) 550
Height for testing above stove (mm) 700
Fan number 1
Speed settings 5
Items supplied Rangehood, 2-piece s/steel flue cover set, mounting bracket, assorted screws and wall plugs, and flue reducer. Instructions.
Material Stainless steel
Warranty (yrs) 2
Origin Germany
Contact neff.com.au
Good points •The mesh filter is easy to remove/replace and clean.
•Excellent controls.
•The lights provide excellent visibility over the cooking area.
Bad points •The lights are not user-replaceable.

Welcome to the day on which Justin Greening calls for a second referendum to divine the true wishes of the people, the day in 1519 of the public debate between Martin Luther & theologist John Eck when Luther denies the divine right of the Pope and he day in 1809 when Bolivia declares its independence from the Spanish Crown and forms the Junta Tuitiva. The first independent government in Spanish America, led by Pedro Domingo Murillo.


Interesting comments.

Which? Mortgage Advisers are paid commission on some of their recommendations. Their literature leads you to believe at first glance that no commission is payable (but that only applies to individuals, not the company). No reason to believe it influences W?MA but it seems to me far preferable to decline all commissions – just in case it might be seen to boost the W?MA profits – and charge the applicant appropriately. pay what it costs. This is the recommendation made for most other financial services.

If Which? did not take the commissions on offer from the mortgage providers the loss so far of AFAIR £22.5m would be nearer £40m. Which rather points to the madness of a charity running an expensive mortgage referral business when it could be concentrating on the myriad of problems deriving from dodgy and unethical builders.

As I have pointed out before other countries have finer rates and lower charges that would be of great benefit. And of course naughty onerous leaseholds do not occur either.

Which? – active consumer charity or business community member?

Perhaps they will sell this business off later this year and concentrate on their core role in life – protecting consumers. Surely by now they will realise that their business acumen is somewhat sub-standard.

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This is nothing to do with wanting “purity”; it is to do with competence – sadly lacking in the India fiasco and having made huge losses in Mortgage advisers, money that should have been used to help consumers.

Which? has a relatively small subscriber base – around 700 000 – and maybe should concentrate efforts to substantially improve this one way or another. It may require a change in the present business model. I believe strength in numbers of consumers will be far more important in conveying its messages, and in getting proper consumer protection, than simply trying to buy influence. Imagine if Which? represented 5 million of us? Given the right approach to consumer rights and a value-for-money service I believe this is quite possible; their is no real competitor to Which? and it should be capitalising on its unique position.

Just suppose it reduced its subscriptions to £1 a week say; doubling its numbers would still return the same revenue and gaining say 5 million would produce a 250% increase – if it sells properly what it has to offer and if it is seen to produce worthwhile results for consumers. Selling online information on a pay as you go basis may bring in a lot more revenue as well – other consumer organisations seem to do this successfully.

I’d suggest it needs more committed and imaginative leadership dedicated to the charity.

Consider for instance if a smarter Which? actually logged all the cases of misapplied money and took note of the Banks and branches involved, and of course of the money.
Why not become the go to place? Give the British public a real champion making public the casual attitude of the banks.

Banks hate publicity. The more and earlier transparency is poured on the sooner some action is taken to rectify matters.

Unfortunately Which? Ltd Board has been primarily businessmen as under PVS it tried to leap into being a commercial brand. This perhaps not unrelated to a then Chairman who was a marketing guru. I have never been happy with having a senior Barclays banker as a director of a consumer body that has every reason to be critical of the Banks .

Duncan – I don’t have a problem with Which? being more enterprising in generating profits from its long-standing stock-in-trade – consumer research, reports, advice, and campaigns for which it has the expertise and respected people. It could produce more specialist publications, undertake educational programmes for businesses, run ‘workshops’ in consumer rights or product developments for consumers, set up more comparison sites of above the normal commercial integrity, and do many other complementary activities that would make money to support the less remunerative work. But where I draw the line is running loss-making operations [e.g. mortgage advisers] where the basic business case should have warned against it and where continuing losses have been sustained year on year without corrective action or closure. Carrying trading losses is not what we pay substantial subscriptions for.

I personally don’t want Which? to become a commercial conglomerate trying to do too many unrelated things – it would be no better than the corporations we frequently criticise. And I see no justification for being tied to some other business corporation because it is bound at some point to lead to a conflict of interest. In my view Which? should stick to its knitting and develop organically as Malcolm has suggested.

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Which? is a minnow compared with the likes of Google or Microsoft. It must proceed at a pace within its competence and resources. I don’t want the magazine to become the tag end of a multi-layered international operation that sees its members and subscribers as accounting units in a profit centre. Many of us have been with Which? far longer than anyone has been with Google and while we want it to prosper I still want it to feel and behave like a mutual organisation with a public service ethos and a charitable heart.

I echo your sentiments totally.

I presume that Which? product testing is still independent of manufacturers but I don’t have as much faith in Which? now that there is commercial involvement with retailers.

Many of the Which? product reviews are now full of superlatives in their descriptions. If I want commercial claptrap I can go to the websites of the manufacturers and retailers. Please can we have reviews that don’t like marketing.

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Thanks, Duncan. I agree that Which? should improve its outreach. Of course, athough it is a charity it is not like health, welfare or benefit charities. It has obtained charitable status for it educational function and this is supported by the commercial arm – the magazine and publishing. I don’t know about charities that you say have coupled themselves to commercial organisations but I hope Which? does not go down that road because its integrity depends largely on its independence and freedom from commercial influence. As Wavechange says above, there are concerns that it has already compromised its objectivity and independence in the retail sector.

I see no reason why the current membership and subscriber arrangements cannot sustain Which? adequately going forward but I agree with Malcolm that it would enhance its influence if it attracted more members and subscribers so developments in that direction, as he has outlined, would be good and be consistent with what we are seeking. It would suit some commercial organisations to have access to the Which? membership and subscriber databases; we have to make sure that can never happen. At the moment we get our magazine with no external adverts, no inserted flyers, and no extraneous offers or promotions, and the website is completely clean of pop-ups, adverts, links, or other leads to commercial sites. Long may it stay that way.

Not quite John. I regularly get inserts asking me (or my family and acquaintances) to deal with Which? Mortgage Advisers, a commercial enterprise that duplicates the services of many others and makes the rather deceitful claim that its advisers are not paid commission – strictly true, but the company is so what’s the real difference? I wonder how many people would not know that WMA is quite separate from Which? and is using the brand to engender perhaps undeserved extra confidence?

But back to Which?’s future. I firmly believe that strength of numbers is what will make Which? an organisation far more fitted to meet its aim of “making consumers as powerful as the organisations they deal with” (or words to that effect). Money to support Which? should come from its members, not from commercial organisations which, inevitably, will lead to a dependence upon that income and compromise Which?’s independence of them.

Yes, I meant external flyers, Malcolm, and I suppose Which? Mortgage Advisers should be so classified. I tolerate their stuff because I hope that getting extra business will bring it into profitability. It is that sort of piggy-backing that can get out of hand and, until I learnt more through these Conversations. I thought W?MA was a not-for-profit and commercially impartial service for members and subscribers. Now, I would not support its continuation even if it did make a financial surplus because any advice that is funded through commission – howsoever paid – is unlikely to be perfectly patent and unbiased.

Looking at a link in a Which? email to me today about “downsizing” it includes this:
If you’re considering downsizing and need advice on your mortgage options, call Which? Mortgage Advisers on 0800 2942 849.

Read more: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2018/06/1-45-million-over-65s-face-downsizing-struggles/ – Which?

No mention that other mortgage advisers are available. Perhaps I’m being picky…….its still rather warm here.

@gmartin, George, have Which? instigated another onslaught of comments on ATMs? There seem to be a sudden inrush of comments. If so, I do wish these could be separated into their own area so normal business could continue. And if so, what new information has prompted it?

I haven’t spotted any contributions yet that say anything that hasn’t already been said many times before. Most of the comments are single posts and very little “conversation” is taking place. I am not sure what value this has and it just makes it so much more difficult for Which? to keep abreast of the full intake of comments and react to questions or errors.

Hi Malcolm. The link to the convo was indeed emailed to supporters earlier. The update is contained in the convo, you can go straight to it here: https://conversation.which.co.uk/money/atm-cuts-free-cash-machines-interchange/#update

We appreciate the feedback on separate areas – it’s something we’ll continue to discuss here.

@gmartin, thanks George, I’ve read the update. But what is new about ATM closures that has not been previously reported?

The last report included “The UK lost 2% of its network: 2.1% was lost in rural areas, against 2% in urban” which was not strictly true – it was weighted totally by the Scotland figure. Rural closure were less or similar in the other 3 UK countries.

Nor does Which? take any account of the many constructive suggestions made to be able to access cash that people have posted in all the relevant Convos. Why not?

You’re welcome. The update in this case was to show supporters how we’re progressing the campaign – many may not have known about the event we hosted at parliament last week, so this was a way of providing those interested parties with details of our latest actions (and how their local MPs are involved).

With regards to the figures, I’ve asked Genevieve if she can respond.

Our campaigns team and the relevant staff here do take account of the feedback and suggestions given on Convo – the response and experiences of supporters is important for any campaign and, as you’ll probably have seen in the past, some can go on to become case studies. It can be difficult to respond to everyone at times, but constructive suggestions and other feedback are always welcome here.

As a supporter of this and other Which? campaigns I do want to see updates, which demonstrate that efforts are still being made. In the case of ATM removals there are plenty of examples of the problems this creates for some people. The public rejected the banks’ proposals to phase out cheques and although use has greatly declined thanks to other means of payment there is still a place for cheques.

Having seen the demise of our village post office I would not like to see the ATM go too.

@gmartin, George, thanks. “staff here do take account of the feedback and suggestions given on Convo”. When I referred to constructive suggestions given in Convos I was referring to alternative sources of cash to ATMs which could, possibly, make cash even more widely available and in far more convenient locations than at present. None of this seems to be considered by Which?. Nor the possibility of little-used ATMs being supported by a charge of a few pence if that tips the balance, nor the question raised about councils seemingly charging business rates on some ATMs

This should, in my view, be regarded in the round, not simply focusing on ATMs.

When I asked about new information I was also meaning developments in the loss or otherwise of ATMs. At a quick look on line I don’t see any more information regarding this. LINK have published a document concerning this. It would be useful to ask them to update us perhaps?

Thanks Malcolm. As always, I will pass all this on to our campaigns team. I’ll do my best to get something back to you as soon as I can.

Excellent points malcolm

@gmartin, another question George. As a Member or even a member I was not aware Which? were meeting 50 MPs to discuss ATMs. Would it not be good for Which? to let members know in advance when they are going to lobby MPs and on what topic (and perhaps other influential groups as well). Members may have useful information and suggestions to give Which? that could enhance their discussions.

Is there going to be a report from Which? on the proceedings? I’ve not seen a press release.

Sorry if I’m exceeding my quota 🙂

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For the first time, my bank has not automatically sent a replacement cheque book -I had to order it. Are they trying to tell me something?

I found this with Nationwide. I presume they don’t send them automatically to every current account customer as many do not use cheques. You would think they could do this by tracking usage.

At one time I received cheque books automatically, when only a certain number – maybe five or six – remained in the book. A book now lasts more than a year and I order a new one when I visit an ATM.

“Several British newspapers and websites also provided readers with direct online links to the shopping site. Many of them stand to make a small amount of money on each sale.”

And that explains so much of the coverage.

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There were suspicions that the 2011 capture of a US drone in Iran was done that way. Russia does it quite a bit, as per the Black Sea incident, and GPS signals around the Kremlin are routinely disrupted. It was inevitable that a handy DIY kit would emerge.

I believe it would be entirely feasible for a drone to receive relevant GPS satellite signals, interpret them, and synthesise stronger false ones. The technology is not hard – and the transmission could be extremely directional (to cover no more than, say, a 50ft circle from a flight height of 400 ft, capturing one car only. Almost as effective as a Star Trek “Tractor beam”.

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So if a 44 tonne juggernaut heads off onto a single-track road we might guess why.

Not unheard of around here…

Yes, but probably due to human error or a dodgy sat-nav.

True. Human error (or incompetence, as I prefer to call it) seems to top the list.

Taking the “Shortest route” option results in interesting journeys.

My first sat nav once directed me into a field. I realised what was happening but having signalled for the benefit of the car behind I turned right into a farm gate. A chap, presumably the landowner, was nearby and I showed him what was on the sat nav screen. I thought it better to leave than continue through the field.

I have driven across fields shown on my elderly TomTom simply because they have been built on and roads added in the meantime. It doesn’t seem to mind.

The dry weather is also exposing some ancient tracks which could make useful short cuts.

Welcome to World Emoji Day, the day in 1762 when Catherine II became tsarina of Russia and the day in 1936 when Spanish generals Franco and Mola led a right-wing uprising, leading to the Spanish Civil War.

That last item is eerily reminiscent of the ways things could go today.

World Emoji Day? Silly childish things. 🙂

It was amusing to look back at last year’s Convo about emojis, George. I particularly liked John Ward’s comment asking whether they were available on Letraset – once a useful product but now part of our heritage.

Wikipedia tells me that Emoji is a translation of two Japanese words: Picture and Character. It tells the reader not to confuse Emojis with Emoticons, though looking at the dictionary of Emoji, there are many similarities between the two. I looked around to see if I could post a message just using Emojis but each expresses a finite concept and stringing them together doesn’t actually make much sense. The result would also be ambivalent and open to mis-interpretation. In the end it seemed like too much hard work, especially as getting the characters from the web site would be quite laborious.

The easy way to insert an emoticon is to find one of Alfa’s posts with loads of them and copy/paste the one you want.

Vynor: Darmok and Jalad spring to mind (Sophie will know what I mean).

The easy way to insert emojis is installing Opera internet browser, then the EmojiOne add-on. 🙂🙃🙂🙃🙂


(Don’t think this page can handle animated right now 😭 )

Well done Alfa. I read an interesting comment somewhere regarding your last Emoji. Originally it was to represent someone crying, then it changed to represent someone laughing until they cried. Your main Emoji is having fun and I’m sure it is because it’s showing off and not because it’s managed to unlock the tantalus.

Vynor did you see the first one I submitted?

I couldn’t see it after posting, so thinking it might have something to do with the problems in this convo, changed it for a static one.

Sokath! His eyes uncovered!

You beat Sophie to it 🙂 Preoccupied me for ages, that episode. Not sure an advanced society could function without more abstract communications.

Im ta nating.

Yam seng!


Mornington Crescent

Any Browncoats here?

Never got into it, but Sheldon seemed to like it.

I have a work colleague who is distinct Sheldon-like.

Thanks to my Netflix subscription, I’ve now finished watching the first series of Terra Nova and Altered Carbon. I suppose I’ve got to occupy my time somehow, while I wait for Series 3 of the Expanse to reach the UK.

Ah, yes; looking forward to that. The Sheldon character amalgam is more true to life than some might think. I had a friend who was a brilliant mathematician but had almost no social skills.

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An interesting concept and the article actually gives a bigger picture of how , even now, Google is embedding itself.

I thought they should be reported for the false declaration that we pay £50m a day to the EU. I didn’t take any notice of either side’s arguments without applying some critique.

We (some) are concerned about commercial links between Which? and Amazon, and its possible reticence/weakness in dealing with Amazon properly when it transgresses – as unsafe products for example. In the past we have seen best buy products with a “buy now” button on the Which? website that takes you directly to Amazon, even when they were not the cheapest.

Now, I look at Which?’s “Latest News” and find:
NEW: Amazon Prime Day 2018 – the very best deals revealed We’ve rounded up some of the best deals and biggest discounts on tech and home products for Prime members on Amazon’s big day

Read more: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2018/07/amazon-prime-day-2018-the-best-deals-revealed/ – Which?

Do Which? publicise every large retailers sale offers in such detail – or even at all? Not to my knowledge.
The “News” goes on;
If you’re not an Amazon Prime member already, find out more about the service below. Jump straight to: –
– Top deals on laptops and tablets
– Top deals on fitness trackers and wearables
– Top deals on mobile phones –
– Top deals on home & garden
– Other great tech & home deals
– Amazon Prime: everything you need to know

Publicising one retailer (with dubious integrity) and their offers, which seem not to be even Best Buys and some relatively poor seems totally contrary to what an independent consumer organisation should be doing. . Worse, a buy now button takes you direct to …..Amazon.

I can’t be bothered to go through all the products listed but these seems typical:
Dell XPS 15 review £1,199. 72%
Where to buy (1 retailer)
Which? verdict
Very good 15-incher – but there are better
One retailer? I found several with Currys included selling it for £949.99.

and this:
LG 55UK6300PLB review £769. 64%
Where to buy (10 retailers)
Which? verdict
Too many small issues to recommend
And price? Hughes offer it for £629.

@gmartin, George, sorry you are in the firing line today! But on the face of it this Which? publicity for Amazon is an absolute disgrace and should form no part of Which?’s activities. The products are not recommended (that I looked at), the prices are not the cheapest but, more important, it is not Which?’s role to promote any retailer in this overt way.

This is a gross negation of one of the founding principles that launched Which, so many years ago. Where has the pure, upright consumer champion that we knew and loved gone?

Which? is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn affiliate fees by linking to Amazon.co.uk. For products subsequently purchased via Amazon, Which? receives a payment.

This really says it all – Which? has sold out to big business. Their website is now an advertising platform .

I thought Which? was about recommending best products, criticising poor ones, looking at best prices, making consumers rights and life better and maintaining independence from everyone – government, public bodies and commercial organisations. But it seems not.

It explains why they take no real action against Amazon for selling dangerous products to children, unsafe plugs and fraudulent Carbon Monoxide monitors that could lead to deaths.

Does anyone know of a consumer group that would only represent consumers in a totally independent and impartial way?

I’m afraid I am totally disillusioned at the moment with Which? and only hope it will change when they get a new CEO.

I expect the moderators will remove this post.

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Perhaps Which? might level the playing field by adding more “buy now” buttons for other retailers. Currys would need two buttons of course:

Buy now (with expensive pointless add-ons added by default)

Buy now (with a long series of waypoint screen for the rejection of unwanted add-ons)

I question whether the ‘buy now’ facility is what people want on a Which? comparison report.

We want good information and data to help narrow down the product selection and obviously it helps to know which retailer offers the best price, but we can hardly moan about the death of the high street if we are always being directed to buy on-line.

For me, a Which? report is part of my preliminary research and it is not necessarily the case that I need to make a purchase decision immediately. It usually means I am going to look in the shops and see what I think about the alternatives, consider delivery timings, check model options [colour, finish, features, etc], see if I can put it on my account, see if I have any vouchers or credits with a particular retailer, and so forth. For small products I, and many others who live or work near a good shopping centre, will prefer to buy the article in a shop and bring it home directly rather than have to faff about with home delivery.

If I want to buy on-line I am quite capable of going to the retailers’ websites and that’s where I would expect to find the ‘buy now’ buttons. Increasingly manufacturers are selling direct and have deals that Which? reports do not record, and also there are often local independent retailers that are below Which?’s radar but offering better prices or easy terms or other services [like taking away the old one] that you will not find with on-line only sellers.

Malcolm said I’m afraid I am totally disillusioned at the moment with Which?..

I became totally disillusioned with Which? in the despicable way it cast aside long-standing members from the email service.

By promoting Amazon, Which? is:

– Contributing to the demise of small independent traders who can provide personal service that you will never get with Amazon.

– Contributing to the demise of our High Streets who cannot compete with unfair competition.

– Condoning tax evasion.

How can that be in the interest of consumers?

And I agree with Vynor:
Where has the pure, upright consumer champion that we knew and loved gone?

We all know that Amazon is a tax evader, but it gets worse…

Amazon has found yet another way to evade tax… legally of course:

Which? gets on my nerves from time to time and I had a spasm of complete rejection a few weeks ago around the time of the decision to dump the e-mail service and all who used it. Corporately it has behaved abominably and it looks like there has been quite a bit of staff turnover. I came very close to terminating my subscription and got as far as looking up my direct debit on-line with a view to revoking it, but I thought about it overnight and decided not to. The magazine remains a worthwhile read and provides information not easily found in other media. I still read them more-or-less cover to cover. Apart from anything else, a number of my friends know that I am a bit of a Which? addict and turn to me for information and advice if they are thinking of buying a typewriter, a fondue set or a stereogram.

Morning Malcolm. I hope you’re well. I certainly do seem to be in the firing line! But it’s nothing to apologise for – I’m always happy to try to get answers for you as best I can. Just wanted to let you know I have read all your questions from yesterday – I’m going to email you shortly to follow each of them up.

Welcome to Mandela Day, the day in 64 when the Great Fire of Rome began and the day in 1925 when Hitler published Mein Kampf.

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A good potted history, Duncan. It was, however, a blatant case of the ends not justifying the means. “Jobs, paid holidays” . . . for a few years at least, and then catastrophe as his military incompetence and overweening dictatorial bravado threw away the prize. Even had that not been the case the gross inhumanity of the German state would have got its come-uppance in the end [I hope].

I had to refresh this page 5 times before anything appeared.

Can I suggest you migrate 2017 to a separate convo until the problem is sorted out?

We regularly hear about large fines but I wonder if they will be paid. Here’s a new one: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-44858238

Google is to make an appeal: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2018/07/googles-record-e4-3bn-fine-how-to-change-your-default-browser-on-android/

Maybe the previous “€2.24bn fine against Google for promoting its own shopping comparison service at the top of its search results, which was announced in June 2017” will be taken into consideration.

Since Google has more lawyers than a rat has fleas I await the eventual level of fine paid with interest.

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The full email read thus:

“I wanted to email as soon as the results were in. We did it! MPs just agreed changes which will mean the Government won’t be allowed to complete trade deals we’ve got with other countries in secret. [1] MPs – and us – will now have a bigger say. [2] And over half a million of us helped make it happen.

This is one of our biggest campaigns ever – and today’s result shows what we can achieve when we come together. [3] We’ve helped make sure decisions about trade – that could affect everything from the quality of food in our shops to how much our NHS pays for vital medicines – aren’t made by a handful of people behind closed doors. [4]

We’ve seen what the likes of Donald Trump want to get out of trade deals with the UK. [5] Now, when people like him push for changes to current deals that risk watering down rules that make our food safe to eat or help protect our environment, they won’t just face a few people in government. [6] They’ll have to face opposition from every single one of us.

Here’s how we did it:
We asked the government to give the public more of a say over trade deals which can affect us all by signing the petition. As I write this email, more than half a million of us have signed. Incredible. [7]
When a Conservative MP proposed changes to the government’s plans which introduced more scrutiny, we emailed our MPs in our thousands to ask them to support the changes. [8]
We made sure MPs heard our message loud and clear, wherever they went. We chipped in for adverts on national political websites, huge adverts in constituencies, and put up posters in our homes and local shops so MPs saw that their voters cared. [9]
We chipped in to pay for expert legal research to prove to MPs that the government’s original plans could spell bad news for cherished British foods like Cornish pasties, Scotch Whiskey and Cumberland sausages. [10]
And we pulled out all the stops to convince MPs to vote for more scrutiny over trade deals. We emailed and tweeted our MPs in our thousands. Some of us even picked up the phone and spoke to them directly.
It’s not everyday that we win something like this. This Trade Bill is a big part of the government’s plans for Brexit. Together, we did everything we could to make sure the Trade Bill wouldn’t lock parliament and the public out. And it worked.

We’ll have more work to do to make sure future trade deals are as transparent as possible. But for now, I hope you’re proud of everything we’ve achieved together, so that these important decisions won’t be made by a select few people in secret. They’ll be made with input from all of us.

By being a part of 38 Degrees, you’ve been a part of this.

Thank you,


“Deals” – negotiations – cannot take place in public without disclosing your bargaining position. However they do need scrutiny from those with appropriate knowledge to ensure sensible results are achieved. Those involved need to be trustworthy and not play the usual game of leaking information to help them boost their own agenda.

Why one particular pressure group that does not represent the population can claim to achieve a particular result in a democracy is hard to swallow. I’m happy for pressure groups to put reasoned cases forward, and hope people will assess them rationally but not be pressured into particular decisions.

Thanks for posting a link to the whole Bill but could you point to the specific clause(s) that show the outcome? As the supreme legislative body I believe Parliament must be able to see everything it wishes to.

Some petitions push against an open door, especially where votes are at stake. Which? has to struggle against the blockages of the civil service and institutional resistance; also some of their causes do not capture the public mood or have a bandwagon behind them but are nonetheless extremely valuable consumer gains [which my cynical mind thinks then get thwarted by administrative inactivity or delinquency in various forms]. Sir Humphrey showed us how it’s done].

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