Lake-bombing and Twitter-spamming

THE STAR, STAFFORDSHIRE – “It’s always fun throwing bombs into lakes.”

Tim Price is a friend to furore. He made that quip after we finished a conference call for his readers at The Price Report yesterday, and I was commending him on his willingness to speak his views in no uncertain terms on sensitive topics.

The British sensibility is often caricatured as petrified of being impolite. Making fun of this has developed into a mini-industry, with Twitter accounts like “Very British Problems” gaining millions of followers (and a book deal) from posting relatable statements like “Apologising profusely for living elsewhere when asked for directions“  and “Apologising profusely for allowing your foot to be trodden on”.

During the Second World War, the US government produced several documentaries to inform its soldiers on the cultural sensibilities of their allies. “Know your ally: Britain” is a fascinating watch, for many of the differences it highlights between us and our American cousins haven’t changed in the 77 years after its release.

The documentary notes that Britain is no larger than the state of Idaho yet is many times more densely populated, and it’s this comparative lack of space that makes Britons so protective of their privacy. While the Americans desire front porches to see their neighbours, the Brits want hedges for the opposite reason…

The nearer your neighbours, the more important it is you get along with them. Perhaps that’s where our fear of “breaking the peace” and being impolite comes from. And perhaps that’s why there was so little resistance to the lockdown measures back in March and today with the semi-lockdowns now in force. A nation of obedience, still lacking the devotion to liberty that drove the American colonists to revolt against it all those years ago.

But then you get folks like Tim, who enjoy few things more than as he likes to put it, “throwing bombs into lakes” and breaking the forced tranquility of political correctness. And long may he continue doing it.

It was a wide-ranging discussion we had, spurred on by questions from his readers – ranging from the stockmarket (Tesla in particular) to gold and silver, farmland, the upcoming presidential election and of course the consequences of the WuFlu.

Tim highly recommends a recent article from Tablet Magazine by an American lawyer and researcher Michael Senger on the behaviour of the Chinese Communist Party amid the virus. It’s a great read, with some interesting observations on the CCP’s online campaign to look good and get other nations to follow “virus containment with Chinese characteristics”. One section in particular stands out, emphasis mine:

Sweden’s skepticism toward the CCP predates COVID-19. In January, Beijing threatened Swedish trade ties over an award given to Gui Congyou, a Swedish publisher detained in China. Sweden did not back down and later refused to follow China’s lockdown model, opting for a herd immunity strategy. Thus, Sweden became a prime target of a Chinese campaign portraying it as weak against the COVID threat. In the words of China’s state-run Global Times:

Chinese analysts and netizens doubt herd immunity and called it a violation of human rights, citing high mortality in the country compared to other Northern European countries. “So-called human rights, democracy, freedom are heading in the wrong direction in Sweden, and countries that are extremely irresponsible do not deserve to be China’s friend …”

Initially, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also opted for herd immunity. But on March 13, suspicious accounts began storming his Twitter feed and likening his plan to genocide. This language almost never appears in Johnson’s feed before March 12, and several of the accounts were hardly active before then. Britain locked down on March 23.

We explored how BoJo may have been… compromised by the CCP earlier this month (Honeytrapped – 18 September). But this is different.

“Imagine what would happen if Boris confessed that he got tricked into lockdown because of some CCP-sponsored bots?” asks Tim.

Now to be clear, I’m not totally convinced this is what happened. And frankly, I doubt we’ll ever get more than a heavily polished and sugar-coated version of events from those involved when all this is over and done with.

… but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it was. Considering just how much Twitter is used by political operators now (the company really should be paying Trump for his role as brand ambassador) it’s not hard to see how a focused flood of messages on a prime minister’s Twitter feed could change their perception and bend the course of history in somebody else’s favour.

I’lll leave you to read the article here for yourself, and make up your own mind.

Until tomorrow,

Boaz Shoshan
Editor, Capital & Conflict

PS “Give me a molotov cocktail”. While Tim likes bombing lakes, my colleague Sam Volkering is prepared to take on a more revolutionary past-time should they come for the pubs…

Category: Market updates

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