Tobold's Blog
Thursday, May 14, 2015

So the conservative party won the UK elections and will now hold a referendum about the British exit from the European Community, the so-called "Brexit". As politicians are unable to explain why an economy with no industry that is living of trade would be better off in a free market, it is likely that Britain will vote for the Brexit. And it is only in that wave of splendid isolation that I can explain the decision of the BBC to close down their global BBC iPlayer.

The global BBC iPlayer was a simple deal: While UK citizens get free access to BBC content, for which they already paid for with their annual television licence fee, Europeans and Canadian get to watch that BBC content on their iPad in exchange for a monthly subscription fee. Before Netflix came to Europe, this was the only TV on demand service working on my iPad. And it still has some advantages over Netflix, as the iPlayer allowed you to download films and watch them when you didn't have a network connection.

And now the global BBC iPlayer is shutting down at the end of the current subscription month with no replacement. The BBC says it has "plans" for new global digital services, but given their usual speed that could take years before those plans become a real service. So right now the BBC is refusing what was essentially free money, because they simply sold already existing content to more customers and now refuse to make that sale. For the BBC the Brexit is already happening, and the rest of the country can't be far behind. I wonder if they'll ever realize that they aren't a global superpower any more.

Heh, if the EU were an MMO you'd be chiding them for saying their customers were wrong ;)

Fact is, an increasing number of punters - not just in the UK - are getting a bit tired of what the 'designers' are serving up.
I am all for improving how the EU works. I'm just saying that having no MMORPG at all is worse than having a slightly flawed one.
It's a really strange move for the BBC when you consider that the other implication of the Conservatives winning the election is the possible dismantling of the License fee - the way in which the BBC is funded. You would think that with their domestic source of income about to come under attack from our new more-right-wing-than-ever-before government they would seize upon any opportunity at all to supplement that income.

Then again, perhaps its a political move. If they can claim that overseas subscriptions failed to bring them significant revenue, to they point where they had to cancel the service entirely, it could be a case for not doing away with the license fee at all.
The BBC international is actually a spun off company of the BBC that broadcasts in the UK. So they probably just got a new manager for online crap who decided to make everything different.

Has long history on this island. Reason and cold hard numbers usually don't drive the decision making process here.
Your post reads a little aggressively ! I'm from the UK and everyone I've spoken to thinks remaining in the EU is a good thing. I suspect this is a case of the world press listening to the vocal minority.

I'm not sure where this no industry claim comes from either do you think we all live in the city. I myself work for a pharmaceuticals company that is British owned, I know plenty in other manufacturing jobs too.
I'm not sure where this no industry claim comes from

That claim comes from British newspapers. Manufacturing went from 30% of GDP to 10% of GDP, while most of the money Britain makes these days is from finance. Now imagine what happens if Britain leaves the European market, and there are trade restrictions on financial services.

You might want to read a newspaper from time to time, or look things up in Wikipedia. Because what job you and some of your pals have isn't really a statistically relevant sample.
Now I didn't claim that our industry was large, you said we had none and I pointed out that we do have industry ;)

I think we'll stay in the EU and if it came to a referendum thats what I'd vote for.

All this noise from Cameron is just a game he's playing to try and negotiate a better deal. I personally did not vote for him, don't assume the rest of the UK think the same way he does.
Tobold, part of the debate on Britain staying in the EU hinges on just what the consequences for a Brexit would actually be - depending on who you talk to the view ranges from none at all (Switzerland and Norway aren't EU members and have free trade agreements) to a punitive slamming of the door in our face. The latter is pretty unlikely because trade is a two way street and the rest of Europe benefits from that trade just as much. Most of the debate on Europe here isn't coming from people opposed to free trade - we're a nation of shopkeepers after all - but disquiet with the 'ever closer political union' thing that wasn't sold to us as part of the deal back in the 1970s, when we were told we were joining a "common market".

As for Global iPlayer - reading the BBC's own coverage, this one can be blamed on the American cable channels who threatened to boycott BBC America if it was extended to the USA and threatened their revenues. Looks like someone decided it wasn't worth supporting if they couldn't roll it out to the USA.
I concur with what tremayneslaw said. Britain likes the free market thing, but not the United States of Europe thing. Given that England and Scotland have been in a union for over 300 years yet 45% of Scots want to leave, you can see how we look on an ever-closer union with the rest of the continent rather cynically.

Cameron didn't offer a referendum on leaving the EU because he wants the UK to leave the EU: he offered it to spike the guns of UKIP and the group of anti-EU MPs in his own party. He has a point in that the EU really is a mess in need of reform, and it would appear that the leaders of some other countries agree (in part because their populations do).

The danger for Cameron is that the referendum raises the political consciousness of the rest of the nation in the same way the Scottish referendum raised the political consciousness of the Scots. That could lead to a reboot of the UK government if he's unlucky.
Your figures are somewhat misleading Tobold. Finance is only 9% of Britains GDP. Services are much bigger here and a favorable tax regime regarding shareholder dividends makes it very attractive for holding companies.

Additionally, one reason iPlayer shut down is because although it was being provided for free to UK citizens people elsewhere, including the EU, had to subscribe. The EU ruled that this was unacceptable and the service should be free for all the EU. I suspect this is one reason why iPlayer is being axed, if my information is correct.

Additionally, leaving the EU will damage the EU more than it damages the UK.

1) The UK is Germanys biggest trading partner. They cannot afford to lose those exports to the UK.
2) Punishing the UK for leaving the EU by use of sanctions or anti-competitive practices is a breach of international law laid down by the World Trade Organisation and the UN.
3) EU trade figures are distorted. If the UK were, for example, to export some goods to Canada but the ship, after leaving the UK, stopped in France to pick up some export goods there, it would count as an 'in the EU' export for the UK, even though the goods are intended for outside the EU.
4) A proposal by the European Council for shared national debt (EU Wide, not just Eurozone) is being blocked by QMV by a group of relatively wealthy states in the EU, including Germany and the UK. without the UKs vote that blocking minority crumbles and shared debt will be laid on the richer economies in europe.
5) The UK are not signatory to the Inter-governmental treaty that brings in transaction taxes and harmonises corporation tax in 2016. Transaction tax will really damage the EU. read up on Sweden in 1986. They tried it. It crippled their financial sector, shutting down their futures and options markets and reducing the bonds market trading by 90%. That would be catastrophic for Europe in the current climate. The UK will profit hugely from this though.
In 1986 there was no such thing as high-speed trading in milliseconds yet. Most of the excesses of the financial crisis that we live in since 2008 would have been prevented by a transaction tax. The UK will not technically be "punished" for leaving the EU, but the EU will insist that any trade between the EU and the UK will follow EU rules, including the transaction tax.

And I don't think you understand the concept of export and import. If you hinder trade yes, the exporter will need to look for a new buyer. But that is a much less severe damage than for the importer, who loses access to goods. Just look at North Korea. Sure, many countries would be happy to export goods to North Korea if they could. But the people really suffering from the isolation imposed upon them are the North Koreans, not the countries who can't sell them stuff.

Then you understand very little about the UK and it's people, having drunk too much of the Politburo koolaid from Brussels.

The UK is not bothered by free trade. We're quite happy with that. But the EUs increasing authoritarianism and centralization of authority is becoming damaging for all business.

As for the financial transaction tax, it provides no insulation from risk. All it does is increase the overheads of the system as the banks pass the costs on to their clients, ultimately resulting in higher interest rates for borrowing, credit cards, mortgages and higher trading fees. It also slows down growth in the economy by reducing the incentive to invest in the free market.

Contrary to what you might think the FTT does damage the economy, and will do so. It will discourage businesses from investing in the EU at all. This is bad as economic growth is predominantly in the private sector and comes in the form of venture capital. This will be very damaging unless the FTT is brought in WORLDWIDE, and this will never be an agreeable solution to most nations.

Trading will still dry up in the EU, traders will hold on to their investments rather than keep trading, slowing the market down and damaging the businesses that facilitate such transactions. This will be devastating for several industries, especially private pensions and investment banks.

The EU will cut themselves off from major investment other than internal investment.

Try checking google for 'Autarky'. This is the way the EU is heading in and like the others who have tried it (the Third Reich being one example) it will fail and cause needless suffering in the name of a dangerously flawed political project.


Loss of imports is not a problem for the UK. We can buy cars from places other than Germany. You seem to believe that the EU are the only producer that anyone in europe has access to. This is not true and if the UK were to leave the EU we would be free to renew our trading links with other parts of the world free of EU control and with no need to pay heed to EU laws or regulators.
It is the UK that is heading towards North Korean style autarky by leaving the common market, not the EU. The financial crisis has exposed the inherent flaws of the anglo-saxon ultra-capitalist system. If you look up which countries are judged to be the best to live in and where there is the least amount of poverty and squalor, you'll always find European countries (especially northern ones) on top of the list.

And if the UK thinks they can do finance their way while still serving EU customers, they should have a look at Switzerland. EU and US tax regulations destroyed Swiss banking secrecy. In a highly connected financial system you can't simply opt out of regulations and taxes any more.
Big companies are bad with IP but governments are worse.


First shouldn't we see if the common currency survives? (It almost certainly will but still ...) CNBC today said that while the next couple of milestones are more flexible, there is not enough money for the Greek June 5th payments so something will need to done by then. Or not - "kick the can"


"When everything is said and done, more is said than done." Scotland did not secede so I can't see Great Britain. But a charismatic politician during a campaign in tough times and anything is possible anywhere.
I was surprised to see that the UK stay/go polling swung by about 25% over the last 5 years with the "Leave" being at record low of 33% ("Remain in " is 45%).
Brexit is not a done deal. There will be a lot of campaigning about this, because a lot of us (probably the majority, all told) would rather stay in.

But anything is possible if people are angry enough at the government, which they might be next year ;/
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