Friday, 23 June 2017
The Brexit talks are underway and the French are being as French as they always are, which is to say arrogant, superior and treacherous. They are couching it in reasonable language of course but President Macron's talk of the door always being open to us to rejoin is actually just intended to divide and rule us. It may succeed.
Even those of us who are are and remain ardent leavers have had occasional bouts of remorse or at least of doubt these last 12 months since the referendum. And this has only been made worse since the election result. The remainers, who had been seen off, are now fired up again and promising all kinds of trouble for the government as it seeks to navigate its way through the negotiations and to get it all through parliament without a majority. Both main parties promised Brexit, but Labour has no idea what it stands for since it cannot agree. The Tories are similarly divided and arguing for different versions of Brexit. Add to this the fact that we are probably going to change prime minister some time in the next few weeks or months and we are entering treacherous waters.
Of course if the EU was really serious about wanting to keep us and our 12% of the annual budget in the EU then they would make us a decent offer to keep us in. But that would undermine their precious project. And so we have to play this silly game of demanding a huge divorce settlement and of telling us we are in a different universe during preliminary talks. Yesterday the PM went to Brussels and made a generous offer to give EU citizens in the UK the right to remain here with full rights as UK citizens after Brexit whilst rightly rejecting their more outlandish demands over timing and the jurisdiction of the ECJ. Can the EU reciprocate? Can it negotiate in the same spirit? If it wants us to stay then it should make an offer in that kind of vein.
This blog always argued that if the EU had made us a decent offer when it was talking to David Cameron then I could have been won around to staying in the EU. They didn't. I doubt that they are capable of such magnanimity because they are always looking to preserve their union and to forge it ever closer. That is what Britain rejected. It is why, though the Government will have difficulties, we are unlikely to be made a decent enough offer to ever tempt enough of us to want to stay in on the old terms. Different terms? Probably. But they won't be forthcoming.
Thursday, 22 June 2017
Do you get the impression that the election result has gone to Labour's heads a bit? During the election campaign they were on their best behaviour with Chauncey forever denying his worst excesses or unpleasant past. Now you get the impression that he believes his own publicity and he just wants to let himself be himself. They really do believe that they are on the cusp of a great revolution that will sweep the Tories from power and him to Downing Street. All he needs is another big news item to allow him to hug some unsuspecting member of the public and he will be carried aloft into Downing Street. He might even be able to crowdsurf there. In the meantime he doesn't have to bow to the Queen or pretend to engage in conversation with the PM as they walk to the Lords. It's almost a surprise he didn't stay in the Commons with his friend Dennis and ask him to become his new gag writer.
And Labour's over confidence has betrayed itself as they call on illegality or at least the confiscation of property for the sin of being in possession of a level of wealth they find unconscionable. How dare you own a flat you don't live in all the time? Confiscate it. They have also called for huge marches through London including yesterday's day of rage. Hilariously 300 people turned out for this day of rage. It was a day of we would be enraged were the weather not so lovely. That's probably why the Russians had their revolution in October. There is supposed to be a million person march in a couple of weeks time called on by John McDonnell the well known democrat. Perhaps they had best postpone it until the autumn.
Labour are wholly misinterpreting the current mood in Britain. Just because the country became less enamoured of Theresa May and because a certain bovine constituency became more amenable to being bribed by Chauncey and co does not mean that the workers are at last ready to bring revolution to our streets. People are probably fed up of austerity. I accept that. But it does rather presuppose that those of us who have been advocating it have done so because we are economic sado-masochists bent on budget surpluses to give us our kicks.
And ultimately, as we have to keep pointing out, though Labour did indeed do well in the election, the Tories did better. Quite a lot better. It's just that we Tories are not known for our marches. But then, as we saw yesterday, those bloody students may have turned out to vote this time, but they really can't be relied upon to get off their arses twice in a month. Given that they demonstrably have very short memories and clearly weren't paying attention in modern history lessons, it's not at all clear they will be arsed to turn out and vote again at the next election either.
Wednesday, 21 June 2017
What is the point of the Lib Dems? That seems to have been the question the British electorate asked over the election campaign and, presumably, could think of no reasonable response. It wasn't just that Tim Farron was and is about as effective a politician as a jelly blancmange - I doubt most people cared about his views on homosexuality. It was that the Lib Dems have reminded the country of how utterly pointless they are. They told us that they would not enter into coalition with any other party, come to no kind of electoral arrangement. So why bother? Why bother being a party that doesn't aspire to actually governing? Why bother voting for a party and taking seriously its manifesto when they stand no chance of implementing even part of it?
And now they are going through the motions of a leadership election. Chances are that they will end up being led by Vince Cable, a man whose reputation seems to hinge upon him having once said something quite witty about Gordon Brown at PMQs. Oh and he also claims to have predicted the financial crisis of 2008. He didn't.
Now Cable wants to lead his party but only for a couple of years after which he will hand over to Jo Swinson. He has the experience and that is what the party needs apparently. But why? Why does his experience leading a pointless party with very few MPs and zero chance of exercising power make any more sense than merely giving the job to Ms Swinson in the first place? Wouldn't she be just as likely to be as good if not better than a more experienced man, especially given that the Lib Dems have no intention of getting anywhere near power anyway?
The Lib Dems are confused about what democracy means, which is odd given that the word is included in their title. The age old complaint of the third party that the electoral system works against them is rendered moot given that they have no intention of ever using their influence again anyway. We have a hung parliament. We have a nasty extremist Labour Party bent on violent revolution. We have a Conservative Party on the verge of a nervous breakdown or civil war and possibly both. Yet the Lib Dems don't want to use their 12 MPs to influence the direction of the country for fear of being tainted?
There is a reason that Lib Dems are loathed by the other parties and this is it. They are a party that seeks election for election's sake, that says whatever suits it according to circumstance and poses as principled and righteous but whose very raison d'être is compromise and selling out those principles. The Liberal Democrats are neither liberal nor democratic. They serve no purpose. Do people grow up aching to be Liberal Democrat MPs? To what end?
Vince Cable may well end up being his party's next leader if only because the other options are so desperate. But what is the point of him and his party? Their brief period in coalition answered that question. Now they pose as the party opposed to Brexit. Yet they would refuse to any kind of electoral deal to try and influence it. Why? Self preservation. Neither liberal nor democratic is it.
Tuesday, 20 June 2017
I must confess myself mystified by some of the reporting and garment rending with regard to the Finsbury Park mosque attack on Sunday night. This had nothing to do with Islam, of course it didn't. But neither did it have anything to do with the far right. It wasn't really terrorism either. It was one damaged and pathetic man who became angry and bitter and decided, apropos of recent events, to take his anger out on Muslims. He could just as easily have taken it out on another group that might have attracted his ire. If someone had spilt his pint whilst wearing a Chelsea shirt he would probably have headed down the Kings Road.
Of course the politicians rushed to the scene to dole out their usual bromides and platitudes, including a lachrymose Chauncey desperate for someone to hug and the chance to emote some more. How he is enjoying the opportunity to engage in his touchy feely brand of asinine gesture politics. What a pity that he has no answers other than looking tearful and threatening land grabs. It's very noticeable that he went straight to this scene within hours to dish out his honest straightforward bollocks, but just talked in generalities about the other attacks without bothering to go and see them.
The reaction to this latest attack was ridiculously over the top. I suppose it was felt they had to react to this attack the same way as we all reacted to the attacks in Manchester and the 2 in London. Equality of grieving and outrage was strictly enforced.
But it is not really clear that this was an act of terrorism at all. This was a spur of the moment attack by a loser who imagined he was getting vengeance. In reality he was just using it as an excuse. Of course the same was true of the losers who perpetrated the other attacks too. But they had made their intent clear prior to their attacks and indeed had done considerable planning. They had been radicalised and had become extremists. He was just a drunk whose life had gone wrong. This is not to diminish what he did or at least what he tried to do.
Muslims have been expressing fear about how they can go on worshipping and going to their mosques in the light of this and other hate crimes. Well you go on the same way that everyone goes on. You don't let them win. You go on because to do otherwise is to let them win. You go on because there are more of us than them and life goes on. Keep calm and carry on. Here is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate that this was an attack on freedom, freedom to observe a religion in this case as opposed to freedom to go out and have a drink or freedom to walk along a bridge, or freedom to attend a pop concert. Freedom comes in many forms. That's why it's called freedom.
And this was not Islamophobia. It was a hatred of Muslims. The two are not the same. Islam is a religion. It is an idea. It happens to be an idea with which I have a number of problems in addition to my problems with other major religions from which Islam is an offshoot and a rather poor imitation. But they are ultimately as bad as each other, albeit only one is currently inspiring credulous people to commit brutal and atavistic murder. I am very anti Islam. I am not anti Muslim. There is a distinction here that needs to be made.
Muslims are not a race. They are people who follow a religion, albeit in very different ways. It is a form of fascism to try and invent something called Islamophobia. This was not a crime of Islamophobia, it was a hate crime against Muslims, all Muslims regardless of what they believe and how fervently they do so. The unthinking cretins who label this Islamophobia undermine our freedom. They may not do so in a murderous way, but it is just as dangerous. Freedom is about being able to criticise and to debate. And yes that means religions too. Labelling things as Islamophobic is the same as trying to shut down criticism, in much the same way that other religions have tried to do throughout our history. We gained the right to be critical of those religions, to do so openly and then to stop believing in them at all. The same is urgently necessary for Islam.
Let us pause for a moment to remember my childhood. Actually the childhood of millions. If, like me, you grew up in the 60s and 70s you will remember fondly Brian Cant who has died at the age of
Brian found fame originally on Playschool and then on PlayAway, a show for slightly older kids and their parents who liked corny jokes.
He will probably be most fondly remembered however for narrating Trumpton, Camberwick Green and Chigley, oft repeated animated programmes centred around their eponymous towns and villages and most famous for the fire station manned by Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grub or for the windmill run by Windy Miller.
Cant was hugely popular, in part because he was working at a time when children's TV was dominated by the BBC and ITV when we only had 3 channels to choose from. A survey ten years ago revealed that he was the most popular kids tv presenter of all time, a revelation he was typically bemused and modest about.
It was a simpler time of course and the programmes seem very unsophisticated by modern standards. But perhaps that is why they live on in our affections so long after we all grew up. Kids nowadays don't know what they are missing. And we will all miss Brian Cant.
Monday, 19 June 2017
This cannot go on. Fairly or unfairly - it is a mixture of both but with the former in the clear majority - Theresa May is now seen as toxic: uncaring, unbending, formal and stiff. Her response to the Grenfell inferno has been correct in purely administrative terms but the optics and politics of it have been disastrous.
Chauncey is good at this kind of thing and it showed. His policy ideas were idiotic, juvenile and plain nasty as ever. But it didn't matter. He turned up and he listened and he showed he cared. Theresa May announced money and a full independent, judge-led inquiry. It was all that she could really do. But the fact that she once again opted not to speak to the public, to face their anger, to listen meant that none of this mattered.
The great irony of this is that the woman who once labelled her party the nasty party has now become the embodiment of that. As a consequence, even if she is not doing so already, she should consider her position. She should go into Downing Street, behind that lectern she likes so much, and announce that she is standing down. She should say this to her colleagues first of course in the hope that they will find some way of uniting behind a new leader without the need for a leadership election. The Conservative Party needs to step up and govern. It has a lot to do and it is not doing any of it well.
Theresa May has been found out. She is simply not up to the job. She was perfectly good at running a ministry in which being tough and uncompromising was an advantage. In that job she could hide away and do what she was good at without anyone noticing. You cannot do that as party leader and prime minister and yet that is exactly what she is trying to do. She looks out of her depth. She looks lost. She looks overwhelmed. Someone needs to have a quiet word with her and tell her to quit for her sake, for the Conservative Party's sake and for the sake of the country.
Unless they get a grip (as Boris accused others of lacking) the Conservative Party is in danger of handing the next election to Labour under a left wing extremist bent on class war and property appropriation. This is like 1992 all over again. The Grenfell disaster is a different kind of disaster to Britain's falling out of the ERM, but it has the potential to have the same impact on public opinion. The only remedy is for the party to get a grip and to install in Number 10 someone who is capable of doing all of the job and not just the part with which she is comfortable.
It's worse than that though because this government is rudderless. Theresa May was kept in office precisely because it was felt that it was best to have someone in office during this period of huge upheaval and existential debates and negotiations. Yet her powerlessness means that a vacuum has been created. The Cabinet itself is arguing and briefing against one another. Number 10 is doing nothing about it because it is in no position to do so. And this is only going to get worse. The Government is at the mercy of events. It goes into EU negotiations having conceded the whip hand to the Commission. We are going to get a catastrophically bad deal and the Tories will be blamed for it unless someone takes over and runs the show.
I backed Theresa May to become Prime Minister. I was wrong. She is not up to the job. She is a good and moral person, who cares about her party and her country. I don't doubt for a moment that she has been as moved by the events of Grenfell as the rest of us. But she had the kind of old fashioned British upbringing in which showing your emotions is not exactly frowned upon but regarded as weak. She is crippled by a social awkwardness and lack of personal confidence. She is incapable of being extemporaneous, of dealing with anything that isn't pre-scripted. She likes to take her time, consider matters fully and deeply, which is admirable but not always practical for a party leader and PM. She is not capable of connecting with people, of being witty and charming, of getting people to like her. This is not her fault. But you do have to wonder why someone with this inability to talk to real people who might ask awkward questions or be angry with her imagined she could be a successful leader of her party.
Mrs May should be honest with herself and with the country and admit this, perhaps not in so many words (she is incapable of this anyway) but it needs to be done. Something along the lines of: 'It has become clear to me that my continued presence in this job is impeding good government rather than facilitating it. I am therefore announcing my intention to step down.'
The Cabinet should then announce that it is uniting around Boris as the next PM and invite the parliamentary party to back them. That is the only way of rescuing this situation before it is too late. If absolutely necessary then we will have to have a leadership election, but it should start immediately and should be truncated as much as possible and concluded over the summer.
There were good arguments for keeping Theresa May in power for a while to get on with governing and dealing with the many plates she needs to keep spinning. But spinning is the very thing she has proven to be so disastrously bad at. Theresa May has to go and go now.
Sunday, 18 June 2017
So all has been going really well now for a while hasn't it. God has been making a series of rules and regulations and lots of highly unreasonable demands of his chosen people and thus far, since the unfortunate incident with the golden calf in Exodus, things have been going very well. Unfortunately things are about to go pear-shaped as God has a temper tantrum.
So the long journey was underway as God led, by means of a big cloud, his people to the promised land. But immediately they started to complain about everything, the conditions, the food, the having to carry his big silly tent and commandments around with them. God thus lost his temper and set fire to them. Yep, God is a pyromaniac.
Fortunately there was quite a lot of them and perhaps God ran out of matches, but anyway some of them went to Moses and implored him to help and he beseeched God to put out the fire. So he did. Anything for his pal Moses.
But even after this warning the people kept on complaining. You have to say don't you that these Israelites either weren't very bright or God wasn't very bright for choosing them. Because they kept on complaining about their plight. Why had they left nice cosy Egypt for this life of misery, they said. Actually you have to say they had a point.
They complained about the lack of food. I say again the lack of food. We have just had chapter after tedious chapter of Leviticus telling us in great detail about all of the animal sacrifices that God demanded and yet now they complain about lack of food. Had God and his priests eaten all of the animals, although you have to wonder what the animals were being fed on out there in the desert.
Moses heard them complaining and then he himself went to God to complain about them. No, really. Why did you send me to free this bunch of ingrates he asked. Just kill me now, I've had enough. I can't lead them anymore.
So God decided to give Moses some help. Note that, for now, Moses brother is completely forgotten about. It's almost as if he was inserted later when the story demanded a priestly ancestor.
God told Moses to gather up all of the elders so that he could delegate to them his duties and so that they could deal with the whinging and the complaining. They were to be the world's first middle managers.
God was really angry by now. He would give them meat, he said. They would have so much meat that they would be sick of meat. Moses asked how God would accomplish this out in the desert. God told him that he was God. He can do anything, although not choose a better chosen people apparently, or indeed get them to their promised land quicker to stop them complaining, which would surely have been the better and more expedient option.
And so God told Moses and through Moses the elders what would happen. They prophesied a great meat mountain heading their way. And it came true. Millions of quails descended upon them, tons of them. So many of them that they were piled up on the ground. It was a bit like a Friday night at KFC.
So the people gratefully scooped up the quails and began eating them. But God, being the nasty vengeful, toddler God we all know, got nasty. He visited a plague upon them all and many of them died. That's one hell of a food allergy.
Saturday, 17 June 2017
Friday, 16 June 2017
Like many people I had always assumed that the advantage of our health and safety obsessed society is that we are all, well, safe if mollycoddled. It seems not. Clearly something has gone disastrously wrong at Grenfell Tower in west London leading to the deaths of dozens, maybe even over a hundred people. It is astonishing. How can this happen in a country where people obsess about putting out small signs to warn of spillages and have to attend courses in order to use a step ladder?
There is going to be a big political row about this inevitably but the response of Chauncey has been disgusting as he attempts to politicise it based on his usual assumptions that we live in a Dickensian society of waifs and strays governed by malevolent Tories. His suggestion that we should seize the properties of the rich to house the victims is typically absurd and yet at the same time disturbingly nasty. His class warfare language is unhelpful and dangerous. We don't yet know what happened and why. Chauncey's assumptions based on his nasty brand of vengeance politics are another example of why he would make an appalling prime minister.
The conspiratorial accusations of Lily Allen are typically asinine. The authorities are only confirming those deaths that they have clear and unambiguous evidence of. That is a standard procedure with all deaths. The nature of a tower like this is that many of the people asleep that night would not necessarily have been registered as residents, they may have been visiting or in some other unofficial arrangement. That makes the work of the authorities more difficult and maybe even impossible.
This area of London sits cheek by jowl with wealthy areas of London, in all probability employing the residents of this tower. London is a melting pot of nationalities drawn to its wealth and opportunities. Grenfell Tower is like a modern day Tower of Babel and indeed its language issues may have been part of its problem as residents struggled to make their concerns known.
An inquiry has been announced and it will do its work. I suspect that what it will reveal is a classic case of British administrative torpor rather than out and out incompetence. There is certainly nothing malign or malevolent here as the likes of Chauncey and Lily Allen would like to allege. It will be an example of something slipping through the gaps, of various authorities assuming that others are responsible. This is not an excuse. It is sadly typical of the kind of pettifogging we do so well in the UK. Much of our bureaucratic meddling is pointless and annoying. It operates whilst allowing genuinely dangerous situations and whole buildings to continue regardless.
There is a huge problem with housing in this country, in London in particular. The Government should seize the moment and announce a fundamental reform leading to the building of hundreds of thousands of new homes for the poor and dispossessed, homes that will be modern, safe and foster a sense of community. Where high rise buildings are allowed they should be high quality and rigorously maintained and administered. They are a good solution in high density areas like London but mostly they should be avoided. It is time for action. We don't yet know what is to blame for this tragedy. But we do know that housing is in crisis. It is time to act
Further to my post yesterday on the principles or lack thereof of the Labour Party, many of them are however acting in a petulant and juvenile way with regard to the oath of allegiance to the monarch. See Richard Burgon, a key Chauncey supporter (above), and one of the Abbott tendency in that he has been promoted way above his intelligence, talent or abilities would normally expect, who made the oath with a silly caveat attached. Perhaps he also had his fingers crossed behind his back. Pathetic. Chauncey also made the oath in a barely audible whisper as have many of his friends and colleagues. It brings back memories of when he was going to have to kneel before the Queen when he joined the Privy Council or when he refused to sing the national anthem at a service to honour our dead servicemen and women.
This blog has republican sympathies. It believes that we need a democratically elected head of state or even for the role to go to a ceremonial head of state elected annually by parliament in the manner of a lord mayor or similar. I even used to be an active participant in Republic, the pressure group that campaigns for the abolition of the monarchy.
But the monarchy has the support of the people. It is a good deal more popular as are its members than any political party. Therefore we have to accept it and honour it. Surely even the most churlish of Labour MPs would have to accept that the Queen does a good and estimable job, is trustworthy, honourable and dutiful.
Since the present system has the full support of the people and there is no widespread call for its abolition or even reform - even Chauncey was forced to acknowledge he has no plans for that during the election campaign - then Labour MPs should take the oath as required of them and without acting like children. They claim to be democrats. Well democracy requires you to obey the law of the land, obey the constitution and offer your allegiance to our head of state in our fully functioning and dignified system of government. I stopped bothering going to Republic meetings because I realised that it is pointless. The British people are happy with things the way they are. They lack the anger and resentment of many lefties wherever they see wealth and privilege.
It is time Labour MPs like Burgon grew up. Many of them imagine that the election result means that they are on the cusp of their longed for revolution. They are not. The result was the consequence of Conservative incompetence and complacency and their own admittedly impressive campaign, albeit a campaign based on lies, misrepresentations and voodoo economics. There is no appetite for the aims and ideas they have but which they keep hidden from public view for fear of scaring them. But they are there all the same. These representatives of the people ignore the people whenever they feel like it. That is the true face of the Labour Party. It is juvenile, it is arrogant and it is facile.
Thursday, 15 June 2017
Labour Party members are generally rather tribal, which is to say that they group together to the exclusion of all else. This, needless to say, is odd for a political party. Parties are supposed to be about representing the people, advancing a cause, furthering an interest or some form of combination of the above. Labour always accuse Tories of being like this. In fact they represent it themselves to a much greater degree. They are wont to talk of their love for Labour and for the Labour movement. It's an odd outlook. No Tory ever professes a love for the Conservative Party. It is a means to an end. I vote Conservative because by and large it represents a philosophy and an outlook with which I agree. But I could easily be cured of this if the party were ever led by someone like Donald Trump. Or Chauncey.
And so one could not help but feel a certain respect for those in the Labour family who refused to serve in Chauncey's shadow cabinet and who tried to oust him from the top job.
Turns out however that many declined to do so, not because of a principled disagreement with his policies and his ignominious past. It was just because they thought him a loser. Now he is a loser but in a manner that they consider might one day be a winner they are rallying to his cause. And letting it be known that their formerly principled stance was nothing like as principled as formerly. We were wrong many are now saying. Wrong about what exactly?
Presumably they are saying that Chauncey's stance on nuclear weapons is now okay with them? His fondness for the IRA? For Hamas? His belief that terrorism can all be laid squarely at the door of western foreign policy even though countries like Sweden have also suffered terrorism? Are they now okay with his policy of rampant nationalisation? Are they okay with his belief in a vast spending spree in the event of his ever winning an election? Are they okay with his tolerance for anti-Semitism?
What they are really saying then is that their principles will only stand the test of Labour, not so much winning an election but losing in a manner that is not a complete humiliation as they had hitherto expected. Those are pretty cheap principles aren't they. They certainly seem to be because this week they actually stood and cheered and applauded the man who led them to defeat last Thursday. The Tories, who won the election, looked sullen and angry and are still deciding what to do with their electoral liability for a leader. Labour have decided what to do with their loser. They have abandoned their principles for him.
Wednesday, 14 June 2017
I don't understand how this terrible fire in west London has spread so rapidly and disastrously. Residents of tower blocks and similar properties of multiple residences, are usually told to stay put in their homes when a fire breaks out in another flat because in concrete and steel buildings like this fire is supposed to be contained and should not spread. So how has this happened? And how has it happened so quickly and devastatingly?
One of the problems with these huge buildings, a legacy of the failed experiment with large tower blocks built in the 60s and 70s, is that there is little heed paid to fire safety amongst residents. When they move into such buildings no information is given about fire safety and what to do in the event of fire.
But the central point is that such tower blocks simply should not catch fire like this. If it was refurbished last year and the refurbishment was in accordance with all of the regulations then are the regulations fit for purpose? There are plenty of stories about the speed and ferocity of the fire spreading through the building. Such buildings tend not to have fire alarm systems and anything other than fire doors and there is little or no information given out about what to do in a fire anyway.
There must be a possibility that this fire was started deliberately using some kind of accelerant, but even if it was it simply should not have spread like this. As ever on these occasions talk will be about resources and cuts. But the fire service has responded quickly and efficiently, the first appliances were on the scene within 6 minutes, there were over 200 firefighters and 40 fire engines on site and there are many tales of bravery and heroism. The building itself was only refurbished last year. This looks more and more like fire regulations that do not work.
Let's be fair to Theresa May. When many of us backed her to become Prime Minister last year (after Boris dropped out in my case) we did so because we believed that she would be a good PM, not because she would be a great party leader and electoral campaigner. We had clues about how awful she would be with her largely forgettable performances at PMQs each week. She generally got the better of Chauncey, if only because he is even worse at them. But she is not a politician who charms. She is not a politician who displays great wit and vivacity. She is a swot.
But the point is that, though elections are a vital part of our democracy and indeed define it, they only come around every so often. Of course they may come about a little more often for now. Theresa May has generally made a reasonable fist of being Prime Minister, although how strong and stable she is is a matter of debate. She was also backed because it was felt that she would be a doughty negotiator in our coming battles with the EU. This remains the case, even if her failings in other areas have just made her job altogether harder.
Quite how the Government is going to manage the process of Brexit now is a huge matter of concern. The remainers have been emboldened by the election result and are talking of ensuring a soft Brexit. In so doing they just make it harder for the Government to negotiate. If the EU knows that there is a substantial body of opinion, probably a majority in parliament, holding out for the so called soft option then they can offer us nothing and demand a great deal. A hard Brexit is a negotiating stance, albeit one predicated on firm grounds because Britain would be just fine leaving the Single Market and customs union. This does not mean that those of us who advocate such an approach are hostile to a softer option if it can be negotiated, but in order to negotiate this we need to set out a willingness for the harder option.
I really hope that one day I have to buy or sell a house or a car from the soft Brexiteers. I could end up with them paying me to take it off their hands.
Those advocating a soft Brexit, one that means we stay as associate members of the Single Market are effectively saying that they wish us to either effectively stay in the EU or take the Norway option. They should say so. Soft Brexit effectively means no Brexit at all. This is why hard Brexit is the preferred option and the only one that enacts the decision of last June. We opt to leave the Single Market and customs union, we regain control of our borders, we free ourselves from the jurisdiction of the ECJ and from Brussels pettifogging, we regain our annual contribution to EU coffers, we regain control of our fisheries and agriculture. We would be free to negotiate our own trade deals with the rest of the world, including with the EU.
This is the bottom line. But that is not the end of it. From this position we then negotiate to opt back in to certain areas that would be advantageous. Certain areas would be uncontentious such as cooperation on civil aviation, on security cooperation, freedom of movement (but not access to labour markets) and so on. We negotiate access to the Single Market. In return for this we could offer some form of staged payments for our leaving. We might wish to offer privileged access to work permits for EU citizens, albeit without ECJ interference. We of course would accept EU rules and regulations for exporting goods to the EU. Since we already do this it would not be problematic.
This is what the Government is trying to accomplish. It would not have been a problem had Theresa May won her large majority. The British people did not give her that and so we have to work around it. But insisting at this stage that we want a soft Brexit is not helpful. If those advocating it wish to say that they simply wish to ignore the result of the referendum then they should say so. The result of the election was clear. Both main parties were for leaving the EU. The only way to accomplish this satisfactorily is to call for a hard Brexit and to see what we can negotiate after that. The soft Brexiteers should put up or shut up.
Tuesday, 13 June 2017
How did you vote in the election? Feeling good about your choice? Watch the video above and then feel free to tell me to mind my own business because it's a secret ballot.
We became accustomed to Labour's inability to add up during the election campaign. It seems that this has continued into the aftermath too. They are having difficulties adding up to 326.
Emily Thornberry and indeed many of her colleagues do not accept that they lost the election. And yet when parliament reassembles this week they will find themselves in the same seats as they were before the election. Sure, there will be a few more of them now and fewer Tories. But the position in the House of Commons suggests in a way that perhaps mere arithmetic does not for the Labour front bench, that they did indeed fail to win the election. As is pointed out to Lady Nugee, even if they were to get together with all of the other parties like the SNP, Lib Dems, the Greens and even Sinn Fein if they could be bothered to take their seats, they still wouldn't have a majority. They would still need the DUP.
Lady Nugee is confused. She says that they had a surge of support and this means they won. Er, no. Winning is having more seats. They cannot even claim, as Hillary Clinton did, to have won the popular vote. The Tories won that too. So how does Labour claim a mandate again?
Not that this matters according to Lady Nugee. She and her colleagues would form a minority government which would be incredibly popular. So, I'm confused. How would being incredibly popular, but not as popular as the Tories, enable them to govern? Would they just ignore parliament? Does having a Commons majority not matter? It seems so. Labour would put forward a Queens speech and it would be up to the other parties whether or not they supported it. Which they wouldn't. Because they don't.
This is the party that might by now have been governing us. This woman is the woman who might have been representing us to the world by now. Labour lost but cannot even deal with this statement of fact. It's not hard to see why they struggle with arithmetic, economics, foreign policy, supply and demand and the concept of deterrence.
Theresa May is back to her day job from this week, one to which she is eminently better suited than campaigning. She may have run a lousy campaign, but I know who I feel safer being governed by.
Monday, 12 June 2017
The cant and hypocrisy of Labour has been startling these last few days, or at least it would be were we not wearily accustomed to it. The rats who departed the sinking ship are now swimming back towards it, tweeting Chauncey their congratulations and acting as supplicants as they beg forgiveness and his indulgence as he hands out shadow cabinet roles. It will be interesting to see how he negotiates this process given what we know of his administrative incompetence.
Labour did well, it would be churlish to deny this. But it is arrant nonsense to say that theirs was a good campaign. Elements of it were good. Chauncey is good on the stump and was willing and indeed keen to go out and do what he does best: shout platitudes at people that make little sense in the round, but which go down well with people who pay little attention to politics and policy. Stupid people in other words.
This was the stupid election. Labour ran a Trump style campaign. It was long on promises and incoherent rants, long on lies and hypocrisy. It was short on detail and on basic competence. Chauncey was great at megaphone politics, notably awful when anyone tried to pin him down about what it all meant, what it would all cost. And when they asked him about the stupid and plain vile things he has said in the past he simply adopted the Trump approach and lied through his teeth. He even managed to spin 180 degrees and claim never to have opposed a shoot to kill policy, and the one time ardent critic of the police claimed to want thousands more of them on the streets to protect us against terrorists. These are different terrorists to the ones he used to support presumably, or indeed the ones whom, a couple of weeks previously, he had said were only doing what they do because of our foreign policy. This was not the straightforward honest politics they claim. It was straightforward dishonesty in a soft spoken voice to make it sound more plausible.
All of which explains why Labour have come into this weekend claiming, absurdly, to have won this election. They didn't. They ended up with the same number of seats as Gordon Brown in 2010. Theirs was a very good performance, but it was not enough to actually, you know, win. They lost in terms of seats won and in the popular vote. They came a close second, but they still came second. For all that they seem to have galvanised a large part of the electorate to vote for them despite their inconsistencies, lies and incoherence, they also galvanised a greater portion of the electorate to vote against them. The Tory vote remained remarkably consistent throughout the campaign at the low to mid 40s. Theresa May remains in Downing Street, not so much thanks to her campaign but despite it and because half of the country were violently opposed to Labour under Chauncey in power. Britain looks as divided as America right now. The two main parties are back.
But both parties are led by people who are liabilities. For those of us who have not become aware of Chauncey during the last couple of years, who have known of him and dismissed him as a nonentity, his rise has been startling. But it is a rise born of the fact that most people have no idea who he is. Particularly the young who think that they invented or first though of everything from sex to popular music and even, it seems now, socialism. It reminds me of when Paul McCartney teamed up with Rihanna and Kanye West and Kanye fans extolled the virtues of their idol for giving this old dude Paul a big break.
All of which should set Tory minds a little more at ease this weekend despite opinion polls (should anyone take them seriously now anyway?) and the inevitable anger, frustration and criticism that has poured out since Thursday. The Conservative Party managed to win the election, without a majority, for the 3rd time in succession despite mounting another awful, lacklustre, brainless and plain inept campaign. They ran a presidential campaign around a woman who has no charisma, no noticeable sense of humour and is a bad media performer. Her stock responses were irritating even to those of us who supported her. Her decision not to take part in debates cost her hugely. Her manifesto was a disaster. Her U turn on that manifesto was even worse. There was no vision, no ideas, no prospectus for a more hopeful future. Labour promised ridiculous promises they could never have afforded or enacted. It was pork barrel politics of the most egregious and shameless kind. But it persuaded some people. It succeeded in this because the Tories refused to engage, refused to hit back. It succeeded because Tories are afraid to be Tories, to laud their successes and to warn of consequences of yet another Labour spending spree at odds with the economic reality that we still haven't finished clearing up after the last one.
Imagine then if the Tories were led by someone who is not Mrs Bean, who is willing to go toe to toe with the liars of Labour. Imagine if it was led by someone with oodles of charisma, someone with a sense of humour, someone the public likes, someone who can get away with gaffes and missteps galore. I think you know who I mean. What other politician is known instantly by his first name without any other information?
It is generally agreed that Theresa May's position is untenable. She has to perform the duties of prime minister for now but the process of replacing her must begin now. It would be better for all if the Conservative Party could simply recognise their position now and face the inevitable. Party infighting kept Boris from the leadership last year. It was a terrible mistake. Now keeping him from it again would easily lead to the disaster of a hard left Labour government on to whose bandwagon even the so called moderates are now piling. They can smell the heady whiff of power and so they are leaving all principle behind.
It falls to the Conservative Party to save the country from this disaster. There is only one man for the job. Whatever your reservations about him, whatever your personal animus towards him, think of the country. We could easily have another election within months or even weeks if things go wrong. If Chauncey called on his friends in Sinn Fein to take up their seats in parliament as they always steadfastly refuse to do he might even sneak into power for a while or at least force another election. Thus the Conservative Party urgently needs a new leader in place. There is no time to waste.
Sunday, 11 June 2017
And we're off at last on our journey. In this chapter we have trumpets, clouds and confusion about fathers in law. Don't say we don't keep you entertained.
Finally we are about to set off on the road trip to end all road trips. Actually it's not really that far from Sinai to the land known enigmatically and not at all accurately as the land of milk and honey, it's just that God keeps faffing around and delaying. Even now, before they got going, he told Moses to make a couple of trumpets. Worse these had to be silver trumpets. Because obviously they had a large amount of silver just lying around. And why would a tribe, albeit a very large tribe, of desert dwelling herdsmen, have the ability to fashion large musical instruments from soft metals? Is it often called for?
Anyway these trumpets were duly knocked out by the resident tribal trumpet maker and God issued his instructions. They were to be used to signal the entire community. Blow both to summon everyone to the Tabernacle, even though there was supposed to be a couple of million of them. They must have been big trumpets. With amplifiers. Blow just one to summon just the leaders. There were also other signals for war, telling everyone to leave the camp, for celebrations and so on. All very practical, although it's not clear why they had to be silver.
And then it was time to leave. Hurrah! They were off to the promised land at last. The cloud had lifted from the Tabernacle and they had set off after this slow moving heavenly signal. It came to rest in the wilderness of Paran. But they set off with military precision and in the order that God had decreed. It was all going very well. Very methodically.
Now though Moses went to speak to Harab. Now Harab, we are told, was Moses father in law. This is interesting because previously we were told that Moses father in law was Jethro. Oh and on other occasions we were told that he was Heber or on another occasion that it was Reuel. How many fathers in law did he have? Anyway, whoever he was, Harab said that he wasn't going with them to the promised land. He had land of his own.
Moses persuaded Harab to stick with them though. He would be useful as a guide even though they had their helpful cloud. And if Harab stuck with them he would get God's blessing. So Harab agreed to go with them on their epic journey. A journey that was about to be made a lot more epic than it really needed to be.
Saturday, 10 June 2017
Friday, 9 June 2017
Here's a short reality check for Chauncey fans: You lost. Yes you had a very good result, you got a share of the vote that few of us thought possible and you managed to galvanise a part of the electorate that rarely votes, albeit by offering them shameless and pointless bribes that are economically ruinous and entirely unnecessary because the present system is working just fine.
Despite this however Labour lost the election. In a parliamentary system parties need enough seats to form a government and vote through their legislation. Labour failed. Labour has now failed to win a majority in three successive elections. For all of the talk of Chauncey and the other parties today, there is no coalition possible to form a government or to defeat the Tories. Labour had a very very good night. They put on an increase in share unseen since 1945. But it still wasn't enough to actually win. Because the Tories got an even bigger vote share and indeed increased their vote share on 2015. A peculiarity of this election post the Brexit vote was that solid Tory, wealthy areas of London like Kensington voted for a Marxist run Labour Party. That is a peculiarity that will not last.
The Tories had a disastrous night last night. But they still emerged as the largest party within a whisker of the magic figure that would have given them a majority. It is comparatively simple for them to manufacture an arrangement that will enable them to govern. That is how our system works.
In some ways it would almost be worth the Tories standing aside and letting Labour into power in present circumstances. Let's face it, it could still happen if everything goes wrong. But perhaps Labour in power and thus able to screw things up for a while would be instructive to the half wits who voted for them.
I suspect however that we have reached peak loony. Labour managed a 40% share of the vote. But the Tories managed a 44% share of the vote. The country divided along those lines. The Tory vote came out in force and saved us from a Chauncey administration. For all of his bluster he has no right to form that administration. Theresa May has every right if she can command a majority in the House of Commons, even if it will be anything but strong and stable.
I remain of the opinion that she will have to go sooner or later. She arrived back at Downing Street talking of five years. No chance. The Tories must not let her lead them into another election. She has demonstrated quite clearly that she is not up to it. She and her team owned this election campaign and they failed disastrously. They failed to confront the lies and voodoo economics of the Labour campaign and failed to campaign at all in many ways. A more able operator would have confronted Labour and hit back hard. She didn't even come close. Her aloofness and awkwardness lost this election along with some spectacular own goals in policy terms.
To be fair she was also a little unlucky. Suddenly suffering three terrorist attacks in quick succession created doubts in peoples' minds, even if those doubts were largely unfair. More police on the streets would not have stopped the attacks.
It is probably right for now for her to stay in position. But this must be temporary. Theresa May must go in the coming weeks or months.
This is an election that was won by pork barrel politics, lofty and fantastical Marxist dreams and lost by a Conservative Party that forgot how to be Conservative. As someone else has written: it's as though the Tories saw the Hillary Clinton campaign and decided to emulate it.
This election was won by a huge turnout amongst younger voters who bought the whole nationalisation, nuclear disarmament, free stuff for everyone paid for by someone else, hope over experience bullshit of the Labour Party. We came this close to electing our own Donald Trump. Next time we may well get him because Labour are back and its not the nice cosy Labour that puts up our taxes by stealth its the Marxist version that wants to wage class warfare.
Except of course Labour didn't win. They lost. So did the Tories. So did the Lib Dems. So did the SNP. Labour, for all of their gains, lost the third election in succession. Nobody won this election.
The problem is that Britain is deeply divided. The Tories won 44% of the popular vote. Under normal circumstances that would have been enough to win a handsome majority. But Labour somehow managed to get 40% too. The country reverted to something close to two party politics. Were it not for the complicating factor of Scotland and the SNP, Chauncey would be Prime Minister this morning.
If only Theresa May had run a half competent campaign, not upset her core constituency, not complacently tried to reach out to Labour voters, she would have got her majority. There was no talk of Brexit. There was no talk of tax cuts. There was no talk of immigration. There was no talk of foreign policy and the travails with various hostile forces. There was no talk of our housing problem. There was no talk of youth feeling left out and ignored. Forget the just about managing, what about the only just started voting?
The Tories need to regroup and rethink and start being proud Tories again. Labour got their gains with a shameless appeal to people with a spending binge. In 2010 the country voted for austerity. Now a large part of the country, probably a majority wants the spending to start again. How does a Conservative address that issue?
Theresa May said she wanted to bring stability. She has brought chaos. The rules are that she remains Prime Minister unless and until she resigns or is defeated in parliament. There is no need for her to go to the palace. She has the right to try and form a government. Labour cannot do so. With the aid of the DUP Mrs May can. But it will be inherently unstable and difficult. The very opposite of what she wanted.
Were it not for the fact that chaos would reign, she ought to resign and let someone else try and form a government. The problem is that it is unclear who that would be. And so Theresa May is probably going to have to stay on unless the Tories can unite behind someone to replace her. It needs to be someone popular and better able to talk to the people. Given that Ruth Davidson is unavailable it ought to be Boris. But then I said that last summer. It looks like I was right.
We are going to have to have another election sometime soon. There is a very real possibility that Labour could win next time unless Tories have a better leader who galvanises the country.
Thursday, 8 June 2017
So we can be pretty clear now what all of this means. The Tories took a gamble and lost. They shouldn't have lost. They contrived to lose. They however stay in government for the moment at least as a minority government. They will be able to do deals to get legislation through but the price of those deals may not be acceptable to many Tory MPs. Theresa May is responsible for that.
Constitutionally she stays in place unless she decides to quit or unless she loses a vote of confidence in the House of Commons. But she is diminished and she has lost her majority.
Most Tories will want her to go. I certainly do. She ran an appalling campaign that allowed Labour under a Marxist half wit close to power. Whenever there is another election they could easily win now. That is Theresa May's fault.
The problem is how we manage this. She needs to be replaced but how to accomplish that with Brexit on the agenda. And the government will be very unstable and thus prone to collapsing and another election being forced. Tories cannot go into another election with Theresa May as leader.
Conversations need to be had and some kind of deal done. But Theresa May's position is now untenable. She should go and hand over to a caretaker.
It looks like we are going to have a hung parliament. It's not yet official, there are still plenty of seats to be counted, but we can be pretty clear that that is what is going to happen.
This means a number of things. The Tories can govern. Chauncey's talk that Theresa May should resign and allow him to take over is nonsense. He has done very well. Astonishingly well. It boggles the mind actually how well he has done, but then that's what pork barrel politics does for you. But he hasn't got anything approaching a majority and cannot cobble one together either. The Tories are still the only party capable of doing that.
It means however that dreams of a five year period of stability are over. Brexit can still happen and the deal can be negotiated but getting it through parliament is going to be next to impossible. Don't be at all surprised now if it never happens.
Theresa May will have to continue as PM too because there is no alternative, unless of course the party can decide on a replacement for her without a leadership contest. There simply isn't time for that. But the difficulty is that the Tories need someone to lead the country and lead negotiations with the EU. They also need a new leader to take them into the next election, an election that may well happen within months.
Finally, according to Peter Kellner, the Tory vote share is likely to end up around 44%. That is perfectly respectable, even impressive. It means that the Tory vote share has remained broadly stable throughout the campaign period, according to the polls. What happened is that we returned to two party politics and there was a huge turnout for Labour, especially amongst young people and students. How long that lasts remains to be seen but it means that the Tories cannot risk a campaign as bad as this again. At some point soon they need to find a way to replace Theresa May.
The two pals of the coalition, Nick Clegg and David Cameron are now no longer either in government or even in parliament. Clegg has just lost his seat in Sheffield Hallam. The Lib Dems have somewhat fancifully been saying that they would not enter into a coalition with anyone. Now of course the chances are that they wouldn't be asked and that they wouldn't be able to make much of a contribution. But you do have to wonder what the point of a party that has no chance of actually winning an election is if they rule out being involved in coalitions. Clearly the British people have largely come to the same conclusion hence the fact that except in Scotland and one or two isolated pockets of London (Vince Cable is back) they are once again suffering a bad night. They may end up with the same number of seats. But this was supposed to be the beginning of their fightback. As it is it is Vince Cable's fightback. The next leader of the Lib Dems? Tim Farron may be about to lose his seat.
The psephologists have been revising their numbers in the light of results and, as expected, the Tory number of seats is creeping up. I am now confident of a small majority. But a very small one. No landslide as we had every right to expect given a half competent campaign.
Boris has been re-elected and made a guarded but significant speech telling the country that Tories need to listen. Yes they do. To young people in particular. But also to Tory voters who got ignored.
If there is a pattern emerging tonight, and maybe it will emerge when there are more results or at the end of the night, it is that Labour are doing very well in urban areas, particularly in London. London has swung quite heavily in their direction. The Tories are doing better the further north you go, have held on in Nuneaton already and some other midland swing constituncies. They are also doing extremely well in Scotland at the expense of the SNP, although ironically in some cases this is just handing power to Labour. The SNP may actually be the biggest losers of the night in some ways, assuming the Tories manage to scrape a majority. Their dreams of another independence referendum may be at an end on this result. We did say we had gone well past peak Nat.
The results in Scotland show what can be achieved with a good and charismatic leader who comes across well and isn't afraid to throw herself into the fray. Ruth Davidson might have a shout to be the next national leader if she was an MP. As it is the odds are narrowing on Boris being the next leader. If Theresa May, as looks likely, only scrapes a majority or loses one and has to cobble together a deal then she is toast. Boris would be the best alternative. He would have won this election as those of us who initially backed him last year said all along. He reaches the parts other politicians (other than Ruth Davidson) cannot reach.
If this is an election that is being decided in a big way by a huge turnout of younger voters for Labour then this is in many ways a positive thing if you believe in democracy. Of course from a Labour perspective it will be even better if the Tories sneak in making those younger voters angry. If Labour get in they will inevitably disappoint those younger voters. Given the absurdity of Labour promises and of their bad maths they might have been disappointed to the point of never voting again.
The Tories have to learn from this debacle. First, don't put the party in the hands of someone so catastrophically bad at campaigning. Chauncey was appalling at giving broadcast interviews and no good in the debates, but he was good at talking to people who agree with him at rallies. It gave his campaign momentum.
The Tories on the other hand got more or less every part of this campaign wrong. They kept their best performers out of the spotlight preferring May who was terrible at it. They got the policy offer wrong and abandoned core voters in a grab for Labour voters who weren't up for grabs. They abandoned their core constituency and are paying the price.
But they also need to start making the arguments for Conservative policies and philosophy again. They have failed to do that. It's not as if they lacked a good argument and indeed even had one on students. But they couldn't or wouldn't make it.
There is also an issue surrounding housing. That has to be addressed and urgently. It is a clear market failure. It is something that has been neglected for too long.
Just after midnight and the picture is changing all the time. I think it is safe to say now that this one is going to be very difficult to predict and we are going to be here all night. There are going to be big regional variations with Tories doing better in some areas and less well in others. The other big factor is Brexit. There are some areas where there is a swing to Labour and other areas where there is a swing to the Tories.
The other factor is that turnout is up and younger voters have turned out, particularly students having received their promise of a bribe in the abolition of tuition fees, however impractical, unaffordable and socially unnecessary it might be. So much for social justice eh.
On the back of this Labour have done well. Much better than anyone expected. This despite the big holes in their finances, the idiocies of their front bench and the appalling past of many of them. It means that Chauncey and co have control of the Labour Party and now they are not going to be removed.
It also means that this has to concentrate minds in the Conservative Party. Labour was there for the taking and Theresa May fluffed it. Even if she sneaks over the line her days are numbered. I have stayed silent during the campaign but now we can say it. She was right to call the election but the way she ran it was incompetent, lacklustre, and arrogant. Everything is up for grabs now.
You know, I get the impression that this exit poll might not be as accurate as we might have assumed. It's still very early days and we've only had a couple of results both in safe Labour seats but it's not been as bad for the Tories as the exit poll suggested. Indeed it could be seen as positive for the Tories to some extent if they are going to have the more limited ambition of achieving a majority.
I suspect that is what is going to happen. How big a majority remains to be seen and how damaged the PM is after this is something we will discuss tomorrow. But I doubt that we are going to have a hung parliament.
Okay the exit poll is in. If it's right, and they usually are fairly accurate, then this is a gamble that has not paid off. And it wasn't that Theresa May was wrong to call an election it was that she fought a spectacularly awful campaign. We'll talk about the ramifications of that as and when the results become more certain.
The figures however, even if it is bang on, are not devastating. The Tories are the biggest party. Labour and the SNP and the Lib Dems combined cannot outvote the Tories. And bear in mind that two years ago the exit poll predicted something remarkably similar to this and the Tories actually did better. Polls are not covered in glory at the moment, but for now it looks like YouGov predicting a hung parliament might have been right.
If this poll is right and the Tories don't manage to sneak over the line then this is an election that hasn't resolved much. The ramifications of that are immense in all kinds of ways from who is PM to Brexit, to Scottish independence. It's still early. We won't know now until the sun comes back up again or even later.
So, just for the record and 10 hours before the polls close, here is my prediction for the election. The Tories are going to win with a good, but not a landslide majority. It will be between 80 and 100 seat majority. Plenty to govern with for 5 years, plenty to push through Brexit and other key legislation.
Labour will not do anything like as well as some of the polls have suggested. At best they will match or slightly better their 2015 vote share. They could do a lot worse. Their whole campaign has been about shoring up their core vote. It has not been about winning the election. Chauncey plans to cling on to the leadership and will point to his vote share as justification for this. Bear that in mind Labour voters. He will use your votes to hold on. Only a really disastrous result will force him out, and even then he may not succumb to normal rules. He has not had a good campaign. He has been appalling. It's just that he has not been quite as appalling as people, including me, thought he would be. It's hardly a ringing endorsement though is it.
Last November America managed, more or less by accident, to elect a man chronically unsuited to the presidency, a man who told lies throughout the campaign and whose bigotry, incoherence and childish inability to admit that he is ever wrong or has made mistakes should have rendered him unelectable. Oh how we have laughed at their hickish simplicity, their bovine stupidity. How could such a man, however accidentally, have risen to the top job? Well he did it because about 100 thousand people stretched across five states voted for him and the system did the rest. Our own electoral system is not quite so finely balanced. But accidents can happen.
We face the choice today between a serious if uncharismatic woman who, we all know, will do a fine job as Prime Minister and a man so unsuited to the job he only reluctantly took his buggins turn to stand for his party's leadership two years ago. Nobody believed he stood a chance then. He certainly shouldn't stand a chance now. His positions on a range of subjects from terrorism to immigration to defence to Brexit are deeply unpopular, so much so that Labour have refused to talk about any of them as much as possible. As a consequence whatever he tried to force through after being elected by however narrow a margin would have little or no mandate at all. But that wouldn't stop him trying. He has already said that he will refuse to give instructions about use of our nuclear weapons meaning that we could effectively cease to be a nuclear power on Friday morning. Our membership of NATO would be at serious risk.
It remains unlikely that we will see Prime Minister Chauncey this time tomorrow, but accidents do happen. Back when this campaign started the worst danger for Tories was complacency. That remains the danger now too. In 1992 John Major won what remains the biggest popular vote in electoral history in this country other than in last year's referendum. Conservative voters turned out in their millions to ensure that Neil Kinnock was not elected. The need is even more urgent today. Jeremy Corbyn must not be Prime Minister. He would be an unmitigated disaster. Even his own MPs think so. They certainly should not expect anyone to vote for them as a consequence.
Indeed we would all be doing the Labour Party a favour if we give Chauncey the humiliation he so richly deserves today so that even he cannot justify staying in his job any longer. The Labour Party needs rescuing from him as much as does the country. Britain needs a viable opposition. The party of Chauncey, John McDonnell and Diane sick note Abbott is not that party. They should be despatched back to the political fringes with the rest of their fascist friends where they belong, never to darken our doors again.
Many people casting their vote today will do so expecting that Theresa May is going to win. Even if they are voting Labour they will probably breathe a sigh of relief when she does. They may well go through the motions of complaining about the bloody Tories and tut tut about the result, but in their heart they will be relieved that the country had the good sense to reject the nasty, vengeful extremists of Labour's loony fringe and elect the grown-ups. But if this means that you are tempted to vote for Chauncey hesitate. Remember that he will use every vote cast for him as vindication and as an excuse to stay in his job. But more than that remember what happened in America last November and what is still happening today as a consequence. Britain cannot afford these lunatics in charge.
A vote for any party other than the Tories today risks letting them in via the backdoor, in the sort of accident that saw Trump elected. Remember that as you cast your vote today.
Wednesday, 7 June 2017
All elections are important. Of course they are. But this one is vital in ways few of us could have imagined just a year ago as we approached that referendum. For starters nobody expected to be having an election this soon. It was hoped that by now Labour would have got its act together and dumped Chauncey from the leaders position meaning that the country was no longer in danger of having a Marxist fantasist and liar as its Prime Minister. For make no mistake, his election, foisted on us by the internal follies of the Labour Party, the vicissitudes of electoral fortunes and the cynicism and opportunism of the likes of the SNP would be a disaster.
It is of course perfectly true that the Conservative Party has fought an awful campaign. Theresa May, for all of her many virtues as a leader and a diligent and hard working Prime Minister, is not a charismatic politician. She became popular because the British people saw in her someone who is the opposite of the kind of smooth but insincere politicians they have become so heartily sick of. It is a pity therefore that she has fought the campaign so defensively. Certainly it was laudable that she tried to be honest with us about social care. But it has also made this campaign closer and more uncomfortable than it ought to have been. The only advantage will be that the complacency that led to this mistake means that none of us can be complacent about turning out and voting on Thursday.
The Labour leader has not had a good campaign either. It has been full of glaring errors, missteps, an inability to remember important figures, bogus arguments, tetchy answers to important questions and a complete blanking of inconvenient questions he doesn't like. His campaign has only been relatively successful because he has defied low expectations.
This blog and Video Diary has long called Jeremy Corbyn Chauncey. If you are unaware, this is the character, played by Peter Sellers in the film Being There, who is a simple gardener who speaks in homely platitudes born of the fact he is simple, uneducated and unworldly. He accidentally becomes President of the United States. In present circumstances it is no longer funny.
Though our own Chauncey is certainly not stupid, neither is he the great intellect he imagines himself to be. He is an unbending ideologue; a man who has never changed his mind about anything throughout his career and indeed refuses to acknowledge mistakes. He is attempting in this election to pass himself off as a genial, soft spoken purveyor of homely truths, peace and reasonableness. The benign and fairer form of government he would provide, he claims, would be a socialist paradise as promised so often in the past. Yet in his own and his colleagues past there have been many disturbing references to their true intent. This is why it is important to look at what they used to say before they thought they had the chance of actually governing, before they started telling lies to the British people.
Because when you do that you see the truth. You see that when he was first made leader he childishly refused to sing the national anthem at a service to commemorate our fallen servicemen and women. You see that Chauncey used to be the chairman of the Stop the War coalition, a hard left bunch of fantasists who think that all wars are the consequence of western arrogance and imperialism. You see that he is a lifelong believer in nuclear disarmament, a juvenile approach to a complex issue that ignores important facts in life. Nobody wants to use nuclear arms, of course we don't. But nuclear arms are retained and updated regularly precisely because our having them means that we and our enemies won't use them. They are a deterrent. They have successfully deterred now for 70 years. Why else would the likes of North Korea and Iran be urgently seeking to acquire them? Chauncey has said he accepts that retention of Trident is Labour Party policy. Yet at the same time he has also said that he would simply refuse to use them. So he is lying to the British people and ignoring the democratic policy of his party. But then he has spent his entire career as a Labour member doing that. He has famously voted against his own party in government over 400 times. That's what ideologues do. They should have thrown him out of the party. He has no place in the party, let alone as its leader.
It is why he backed the IRA and still refuses to condemn them despite their 1800 murders. He was not talking peace with them, he was backing them, supporting them and wishing them success. He was not involved in the Northern Ireland peace process and indeed voted against the Good Friday Agreement, seeing it as a surrender when he wanted and advocated complete victory. Someone genuinely seeking peace would talk to both sides. He not only just talked to one side, he supported them and cheered them on even as they bombed and murdered their way through the 70s and 80s, at one point trying to murder the entire British cabinet including the Prime Minister. What did Chauncey do? He invited Sinn Fein to parliament a few weeks later
Peace was achieved in Northern Ireland because the British state held out against terrorism and forced them to the negotiating table. It was one of the great successes of the last Labour government, but one in which Chauncey's contribution was zero. We see the same in his attitude towards the terrorists of the middle east, whom he has called friends and 'serious, hard working and they are not corrupt.' Again he only talked to one side. Again he refuses to apologise.
Again he refuses to condemn the anti-Semitism in his own supporters. It is entirely legitimate to be critical of the Israeli government and its policies. It is vile bigotry to tar all Israelis and all Jews with the same brush as many of Chauncey's supporters do. Chauncey has refused to do anything about them and still tolerates Ken Nazi Livingstone in the party. If he won the election Livingstone would likely be given a role in government.
Chauncey has spent his entire career adopting an ideological position and then never bending from it. It's why he would be so disastrous as a Prime Minister. Governing is about compromise. But for all Chauncey's talk about talk he only talks to one side and never bends let alone compromises. It is his way or no way. Look at his stance on immigration, something Labour has tried not to talk about. They would have an open door immigration policy, one that makes no sense from an economic or a security standpoint but is one that Chauncey has always believed regardless of facts or the opinions of voters. So that, as far as he is concerned, is that.
Government is about finding the middle way, of making difficult choices. Labour found this hard enough under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and went on a wild spending spree that we are still clearing up now. Chauncey seems to think that this will not apply to him, that he can go on another un-costed spending spree, another self indulgent trip down memory lane all paid for by shaking the magic money tree and taxing the rich. Theresa May is getting some criticism this week for her cuts to policing, although this has had little bearing on the terrorism issue as some allege. But the cuts to policing were made because other budgets were protected. The triple lock on pensions, funding for the NHS, schools budgets were protected and have grown. Opponents complain about austerity. Yet public spending has increased every year since 2010. Choices have to be made within budgets. That is what government is about. It is legitimate to now look again at policing and security budgets in the light of recent events. But a choice still has to be made. Money has to come from somewhere. The magic money tree is not an option.
Make the rich pay their fair share, says Chauncey. Yet they are. The top 5% of taxpayers in this country, the ones who earn the most, pay 47% of all income tax revenues. Putting their taxes up to even more punitive levels would either make them work less, take avoidance measures or take the ultimate avoidance measure and go and live somewhere else. It is a fact that when the top tax rate was cut from 50% to 45% it raised more money. So raising the upper tax rate is not about making the rich pay more, it is about politics and ideology.
The same goes for corporation taxes. Labour are operating in a make-believe world in which big companies have nowhere else to go. Our corporation tax rate makes us competitive in an ultra competitive world. This is even more important as we prepare to leave the EU. European countries like France would love to attract the big companies that have made Britain their home bringing huge investment and highly paid jobs to these shores. Raising corporation tax would not raise more money it would drive that money and the jobs abroad. Britain has a number of key advantages including our language, our culture, our benign environment for business, our adherence to the rule of law. Labour would begin undoing that at a stroke. They would erode our tax base. Britain is reliant on the revenues of the City of London to an uncomfortable degree. That is an issue that needs addressing. But you don't address it by driving City firms abroad. We need them. We rely on them. The City and services sector in general is what this country does well. We should encourage them to prosper not resent them and tax them. Taxes need to be cut along with regulations. Labour would do the opposite.
Chauncey would have as his Chancellor John McDonnell, an ideologue even more extreme than he is. McDonnell has joked about going back in time and killing Margaret Thatcher, the woman who did more to make Britain economically successful than any PM in recent history. McDonnell too was a friend of terrorists and takes an extreme view on economic issues and taxation. He wants huge tax rises, not as economic policy but as a policy of vengeance and class warfare. This is the ideology of idiots. Labour policies like punitive taxation on incomes and even on your back garden would cause a collapse in the pound, a collapse in the property market, rising unemployment and a deficit we would be unable to fund because people would stop lending to us. Britain has been remarkably economically successful these last few years. Unemployment is at record lows and at the point where we are at what economists term effective full employment. Labour would undo that within days of entering government. Given that they would only do so by being in league with the SNP and a few others, what other lunacy would they force through to get into power and stay there?
Actually we don't have to look too far. They have stopped talking about it now, but Chauncey's economic model for this country was Hugo Chavez's Venezuela, a country that has the world's largest proven oil reserves and yet has somehow contrived to turn their country into an economic basket case that can cannot feed people, is clamping down on dissent and has turned into yet another socialist dictatorship. Why do they always turn into dictatorships? Because they always ruin the economy, always create poverty and unemployment and then, instead of acknowledging their mistakes clamp down on dissent. If you doubt that Labour are capable of that look at the way they react to awkward questions. Look at their intentions with regard to continuing the Leveson inquiry and clamping down on the freedom of the press.
A Labour government would hit the pound, would lead to an increase in unemployment, would hit your private pension and would raise less in tax despite putting tax rates up. It would drive out high paying jobs, it would struggle to attract doctors and other professionals we need and would create a 1970s style brain drain again. Why do we get brain drains? Because taxes are too high and people vote with their feet. And their wallets. People don't see why they should work hard in order to hand over 50, 60 or 70% of their income to government. It is compulsory confiscation of earnings and it is morally wrong.
Labour's ideologues are trying to refight battles they lost in the 1970s and 1980s. They lost them for the very good reason that they were wrong. Why do they want to renationalise whole swathes of British industry? Ideology. Because, though some privatisations have not been as successful as we might have hoped, none have been as disastrous as public ownership was. Those who yearn for public ownership of the railways forget how awful British Rail was and ignore how London Underground is frequently brought to a standstill by strikes. This is Labour's recipe for whole swathes of our economy from railways to water. It is all born of a teenage resentment of the profit motive and yet ignores the unions protectionist instincts and luddite insistence on resistance to modernisation, new work practices, better productivity all of which lead to better services for us all. Private enterprise has created the technological world we all take for granted. It has delivered us the IT age, the internet, entertainment on demand, information on demand, same day shopping deliveries, instant communications. When the state was in charge of telecommunications there was a six month waiting list to get a phone and everyone had to have the same type of phone. Now we all carry phones around in our pockets and communicate for free with the other side of the world. All delivered by big businesses changing the world and giving us what we want whether or not we know that we want it. The socialist vision is to give you what they say you can have and if you don't like it: tough. Or worse.
Chauncey has proven clueless in running his own party, let alone the country; his reshuffles have been drawn out, chaotic and disastrous. The net result has been that he has Diane Abbott as his shadow Home Secretary, a woman who cannot add up, cannot remember basic facts about her own policy and who, like him, doesn't seem to like this country very much. Labour's spinners have been desperately trying to keep her out of the media so hopeless and clueless is she. Yet Chauncey would have her in charge of our security. There are legitimate questions that need asking about policing and budgets to counter terrorism for sure and in an election campaign they need to be asked. But we can be certain about one thing: Chauncey and Diane Abbott are not the people to answer them.
Chauncey is not a cuddly soft spoken avuncular figure who means well. He is a nasty reactionary zealot who hates this country and all it stands for, backs our enemies, backs terrorists and then poses as a man of peace to cover his past. His juvenile policies are born of class resentment and Marxist pedantry. He wants to turn back the clock and reverse the very policies that made this country governable and prosperous. Since the 1980s when the Thatcher reforms Chauncey resented began, GDP per head in the UK has nearly doubled. We remain a magnet for inward investment and for people to come and work. Our employment rate is now at 75%. All of this would be placed at risk by the ideology of people who never learn, never change, never compromise.
Britain needs competence, firmness and realism in the coming years as we negotiate Brexit, address the challenge of terrorism and continue to try and make Britain a fairer and more prosperous country. That will not be achieved by massive nationalisations, electoral bribes to students who don't want to pay for their own careers and huge and counterproductive tax rises. Every time such policies have been tried in the past, without exception, they have led to economic calamity, unemployment, poverty, national bankruptcy and even to violence and repression.
Britain has a great and prosperous future ahead of it, provided we make the right choice on Thursday. Theresa May is not a good campaigner. She is a woman who takes her time, considers things carefully and then makes her decision. She does not act off the cuff. She is a doughty and firm negotiator. She has tried hard during this election campaign to not make promises she cannot keep. They say we campaign in poetry and govern in prose. Theresa May has campaigned in prose too, often clunking and uninspiring prose. But lofty poetry is not what the country needs right now. It needs realism, hard work and determination. It also needs an open-mindedness and flexibility that the Labour leadership have shown themselves utterly incapable of. It is why they remain unfit for government and why Labour should be punished at the polls for having the temerity to offer them for election. Vote Conservative on Thursday. It is the only viable choice for these difficult times. It's not a romantic or inspiring message. But it is the truth.