Friday, 30 June 2017
We have been obsessing about our own politics for a long time now and so, though things are certainly in a state few of us are happy about, whatever side of the political divide we are on or even if we are pretending not to be on any side of the line like Jon Snow of Channel 4 News, we can at least content ourselves that things could be much much worse. We could have 4 years of Donald Trump to look forward to.
Of course the problem is that we do have 4 years of Donald Trump to dread.
This week we had the ridiculous story of Trump's fake Time Magazine cover that has been put up in various of his properties for reasons that defy imagination or rational explanation. This is the President of the United States for crying out loud. Who has to make fake magazine covers? Covers using his trademark exclamation marks and telling everyone what great ratings he has? This is so pathetic and needy it's astonishing. It is infantile and deranged. As the orange moron would tweet himself: Sad!
But this is just standard Trump. We have become wearily accustomed to his attention seeking, narcissistic, needy and plain odd behaviour. Sure we may from time to time question how this man got to be where he is today, but we are where we are.
But then this week Trump got into a huge row with a television show he claims not to watch. They had been critical of him, something he ought not to care about since he is supposed to be governing and because it goes with the territory. But this thin skinned creep, this nervous breakdown waiting to happen, did what he always does. He punched below the belt. And he punched a woman, picking on her appearance and claiming she has a low IQ, ironic for a man who famously has to have pictures put on his intelligence briefings so he can understand them.
I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don't watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 29, 2017
In particular he made insulting and personal comments about her along with insinuations that they only made their comments because they were piqued because he wouldn't dine with them at his tacky club in Florida. Both hosts incidentally deny this and say they were there to try and get the orange moron to agree to an interview.
...to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year's Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 29, 2017
It doesn't really matter who is telling the truth here, although it seems likely that the truth is, as ever, a very long long way from anything that Trump has been in close proximity to. But this is the President of the United States attacking a TV presenter of a show that is not poorly rated - shows in the US don't tend to last very long if they are poorly rated - for her appearance and for her alleged lack of brains. He doesn't attack her male colleague and fiance. He attacked the woman. He doesn't attack her arguments, he acts like the nasty, boorish, insecure, brainless playground bully he is and makes lurid claims that are simply untrue and grossly offensive. She was bleeding badly from a facelift? That is something so off the chart disgusting it beggars belief that he said it and has even left it on Twitter for the world to see and for an astonishing number of people to actually retweet.
Apparently just before Trump tweeted about Mika, the couple were discussing those fake magazine covers on their morning show. Remember he claims not to watch the show. But how revealing. Trump has fake magazine covers put up in his properties and is ridiculed the world over for doing so. What is his response? He hits back at people for discussing this and remarking on it.
Now this is being justified by White House press spokespeople as Trump hitting back when attacked. But how is that remotely justifiable. Politicians get criticised. they often get ridiculed. That goes with the territory. Trump should have better things to do with his time than get into spats like this. Contrast his boorishness with the dignity of past presidents. George W Bush was attacked in an incredibly personal way, not least in this country as people questioned his intelligence and integrity. He always ignored this. Barack Obama was attacked in a horribly personal way almost constantly, including of course by Trump himself who questioned his birth status. It was personal and it was racist. Yet Obama either ignored it or reacted with dignity or with good humour. That is what a sane and mature man should do. Trump is neither.
It is said that the Trump White House is struggling to recruit people to many positions. It is said that his staff are afraid of Trump\s incoherent and unhinged rants. The President of the United States has temper tantrums. It is said that this toddler in a septuagenarian's body has to be fed a regular diet of news about himself to keep his attention. He knows nothing about policy, he is ignorant of world affairs, of the basics of economics, diplomacy and has entirely delegated authority on military matters to the generals. He got his job on a constant diet of lies and similar trashy talk he continues to indulge in from the White House. But he has no idea how to actually do the job for which he has been elected. It was just an ego trip for this needy ignoramus who has no idea how stupid he is and how much contempt he is held in by all but the bovine cretins who support him come what may.
America is a laughing stock because of this man and yet he is still defended by useful idiots in the media and in his own administration. You are defending the indefensible and validating this car crash in slow motion. The Russia scandal is mushrooming and is only going to get worse. Trump himself is going to make it worse. He has taken his thuggish business practices and tried to transplant them into politics. Anyone who defends him is simply validating and supporting him. He knows no shame. But you should.
Thursday, 29 June 2017
In the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster and as Labour continue their attempts to politicise it and imply that something nefarious has taken place rather than merely incompetent it was a good moment for the announcement that charges have been brought against several individuals over the Hillsborough disaster. There was another appalling tragedy and one that was needless and wholly avoidable.
But we should remember that though catastrophic mistakes were made that Saturday afternoon and though the cover-up was disgusting and abhorrent, this was a tragedy born of human frailties we all possess and know. The impulse to pass the buck and to try and spin culpability for Hillsborough is one our politicians know only too well as we are seeing.
The story about Grenfell is emerging slowly and methodically and it is one we recognised only too well too. It is of a system that does pettifogging very well indeed but fails to see the bigger picture. It is of a system in which the right hand does not know what the left is doing, where there is no communication and a blind trust in officialdom. The Labour politicians who are trying to make political capital out of this have a bovine trust in the state and yet this has been a failure of the state from top to bottom. Certainly some politicians might have been better at a response on the ground in the wake of events, but that is no guarantee of their being able to stop anything like it from happening in the first place. Their standard prescription of throwing money at services would make no difference at all. Not that this stops them making such claims. Chauncey even argued yesterday that the public sector pay cap contributed to this tragedy in a manner I have yet to hear explained. Is he saying that public sector workers would do their jobs better if only they had not had their pay capped at 1% during an era of ultra low inflation? Does that not detract from his image of public sector workers as being heroes who do their work out of public duty and selflessness quite at odds with rapacious mercenaries in the private fields who should of course be taxed in vengeance?
There are all kinds of silly conspiracy theories about Grenfell made worse by political opportunism and posturing. The forensic investigation is proceeding but deaths can only be confirmed when evidence is clear and unambiguous. The nature of this event is that some deaths may never be confirmed because nobody knew they were there, they were there illegally or at least illicitly and there is no way of identifying their remains. There may simply be no remains in some cases to be identified. This was after all a vicious fire that took hours to put out. That is to be profoundly regretted but it is nobody's fault. The inquiry announced will in time report and will likely find that this was a series of small failings and mistakes that led to one unimaginable disaster when bad luck and coincidence spun their treacherous web. Many of us had complacently thought that such a disaster was impossible in this country. Now we know better. Ultimately it is that complacency that helped cause Grenfell and it is a complacency that those trying to capitalise on that terrible night are even more guilty of as they reach their expedient and hasty conclusions about why it happened.
At a time of dreadful, heartbreaking, infuriating and terrifying news on a daily basis, let us pause to remember a true gentleman and his creation of simplicity, old fashioned politeness and quiet very British humour.
Michael Bond, the creator of Paddington Bear, died yesterday at the age of 91. He also wrote much loved children's TV show The Herbs that filled a slot that was later filled by television adaptations of his Paddington books. But it was Paddington for which he will always be best known and indeed loved. They touched a whole generation of children with their gentle humour about a bear who always meant well, had been beautifully brought up in darkest Peru and given exquisite manners by his Aunt Lucy but who frequently got into trouble.
Michael Bond was in many ways Paddington himself, although he said that he based the character on his father. He was a modest and charming man whose good fortune never ceased to surprise him. Yet it was not good fortune really. It was born of a talent for writing great characters and stories that children loved. So much so they carried that love into adulthood. Bond's bear became such a staple of British life that he now has pride of place in the train station that gave him his name.
Though he claimed not to greatly enjoy writing, something that many or even most writers will have a certain empathy with, Michael Bond carried on until nearly the end. His last Paddington book was finished only recently and was published earlier this year. His legacy is of a great children's fictional character which sold 35 million books and a place in children's hearts up there with the creations of Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, AA Milne and JK Rowling.
Wednesday, 28 June 2017
We're back and somehow Theresa has become Mrs Bean and Chauncey has become a cult hero. He even had people chanting his name at Glastonbury, and his real name too, although Chauncey would actually have scanned better. They do of course smoke quite a lot of herbal substances at Glastonbury I'm led to believe and so how thrilled he should be by this is moot. Clearly he was thrilled though. Underneath that modest exterior is an ego the size of the Pyramid stage.
Of course he is still Chauncey. He is still mouthing ridiculous meaningless platitudes and talking about how peace is possible despite all of those years voting against peace if it meant that the side he backed had to compromise or even accept defeat. Try not to snigger when he tells us he would get a better deal in any or all negotiations. There is something inherently absurd and wondrous about a Marxist going to a 300 quid a ticket pop festival and giving a speech about how much better the world will be when he gets to tax everyone more to an audience filming him on their 600 quid smart phones and driving home in their SUVs. If you've ever wondered how countries get swept along by autocrats and demagogues, look at what is happening here now in wealthy, prosperous Britain.
Apparently he was telling people at Glastonbury that he will be PM inside 6 months. Bless! He and his party still cannot add up.
He did however go and hug someone in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire. This made him the cult hero he is. Because the ability to hug and emote and shed a tear is exactly what we want in a PM. Look at Tony Blair. Maybe Chauncey will follow in Blair's footsteps and become a keen user of our armed services if he doesn't disband them within a day of gaining power. He's already said that, regardless of what Labour Party policy is, he'll get rid of our nukes the moment he crosses the threshold.
Not that he is completely opposed to war. After all they have declared class war in the wake of Grenfell. John McDonnell opined that the residents, even the ones who weren't actually residents officially and were there illegally, were effectively murdered. Yes, murdered. That's the caring, honest Labour Party for you. Never afraid to turn your misery into a stick with which to beat the Tories who clearly did this all deliberately. It goes without saying. After all that is what murdered means isn't it. And anyway it's all so that they can seize people's homes to accommodate the victims. If you own a home and don't always occupy it then you will be first up against the wall in the next six months. That will free up your other homes too.
Sadly for Chauncey and co Theresa did a deal with the DUP on Monday meaning that her numbers actually do add up and she will be able to get her Queen's speech through parliament at the vote tomorrow. Not that Labour will accept this of course. They will win that just as they won the election despite finishing 60 seats behind the Tories. That's how they got their numbers on taxes and spending and all of that money given away to students to add up.
Interestingly Chauncey entered the chamber today to silence whereas Theresa May entered to cheers. This blog has called for her to go and go soon. I stand by that opinion. But you have to admire her tenacity and bravery and Tories must stand by her while she remains in post.
Chauncey got to his feet having ignored the first question about intimidation of Tory MPs by nasty lefties who are likely encouraged by cretins like Channel 4's Jon Snow. Tories are not the enemy. We are just people who happen to see the world in a different way to others. 13 million people voted for Tories just 3 weeks ago.
Chauncey wanted inevitably to talk about the Grenfell Tower disaster and the wider consequences. His questioning, though hardly forensic, was calm and comparatively authoritative for him. This however played to the Prime Minister's strengths. She is a swot, a details obsessive. She knew what she was talking about and came well prepared. She gave an update to the house and the country about where things stand, the status of the investigation, what is being done for the former residents of the tower and the setting up of the Public Inquiry. A judge will be appointed shortly she said.
The disaster led to PMQs being grown up and comparatively civilised for a change with questions asked and answered by a PM anxious to inform. Only at the end did Chauncey start blaming government cuts for any of this, an allegation that is entirely unproven and likely wrong. Mrs May told him that he was missing the point, that the regulations are there but have not been followed. This was a systematic failing across governments of both colours she said. Many of the regulations about inspections were implemented under Tony Blair a decade or more ago.
Chauncey wants to blame cuts and austerity though. Labour have this week accused the government of murder. It is nasty, it is dishonest but it is very Chauncey's Labour. You might call it straightforward nasty, mendacious politics. The Fire Service itself has said that resources had nothing to do with the fire. Early reports have said that the Fire Service attended the fire in a lower floor flat and actually put it out without realising that it had spread to the outside. The rest is history. This was a fire as a consequence of money being spent not money not being spent. Yes there is a case for sprinkler systems but this was more about a bad design and bad luck than a lack of resources.
Still that is what Labour will continue to allege regardless of the facts. They have a spring in their step thanks to the election result and so dishonesty will be their schtick for the foreseeable future. But Theresa May was quietly effective and impressive today. Chauncey did his shouty sanctimonious thing and he was as good as he has ever been. Politics has returned to normal today. But it was a different normal to what we had prior to the election.
Oh and we had a new questioner from the SNP, who remain the third party despite the heavy losses they endured at the election. Angus Robertson is now an ex MP and has been replaced by the formerly anonymous and likely to remain anonymous Ian Blackford. Even Alex Salmond is no longer an MP. A nation rejoices. Blackford wanted to complain about a poor deal for Scotland, angry that another nation of our union has more influence. So at least some things in this parliament are not going to change.
Can anyone honestly claim to be surprised that ageing journalist and over the hill presenter Jon Snow expressed virulent anti-Tory sentiments at the weekend? Are you at all surprised that this achingly right-on figure who cycles to work every day on his ethnic bike having kissed goodbye to his younger ethnic wife was at Glastonbury at the time getting down with the kids and trying to look cool? It's all rather tragic of course but not in the least bit surprising. We always knew Snow is a lefty.
Snow is on record as saying he has turned down honours in the past as this would have compromised him as a journalist. And yet shouting 'fuck the Tories' does not compromise him? Well, for the audience of Channel 4 News, no it probably doesn't. Channel 4 News is supposed to be impartial too. Scrupulously so. It's just that it does so whilst sounding like a broadcast version of The Guardian. You know, like Newsnight.
Snow issued a classic non-denial-denial, about his having no recollection of what was sung or chanted at Glastonbury. So he did indeed sing it then. Any policeman knows that anyone who begins an answer by saying 'I can honestly say' is about to lie to you. The non-denial-denial bit just confirms this. If it were really untrue he could simply have said no I didn't say it. But then he would have risked offending his new teenage friends.
But imagine if a politician tried to get away with such an obvious evasion whilst being interviewed by Snow. Except these days they probably do because he is a long way past his best and would have been sent off to spend more time with his sock and tie collection if Channel 4 were not the sort of place that has to have a representative of every ethnic minority and every sexuality on its staff. Snow is the representative of the embarrassing white grandpa minority. Especially as most of his age group tend to vote Tory. Still, fuck them eh! But I for one would not have missed reading this story for a moment. And that picture above is one of the funniest images I have seen in a very very long time. I enjoyed Glastonbury, but now I can't wait until the next one in 2019 and may go along to see it myself. Who knew there were so many additional entertainments on offer. The ageing rockers are risible enough. But now we have ageing newsreaders making arses of themselves too.
Tuesday, 27 June 2017
So, Theresa has her deal and predictably people are complaining. Yet it's not really easy to see why. It seems to amount to a surprise that in politics votes mean deals being done and that this usually means that money is spent. Given that many of those complaining would have had no difficulties whatever with the various money splurges of Chauncey's Labour Party, including a wholly unnecessary commitment to give free tuition fees to students and cancel their debts, a naked bribe with our money to get the great unwashed to come out and vote, then what is the problem?
Or there's the SNP. If they had been in a position to do a deal with Labour then would they have done so for free? What price would they have extracted for their support do we imagine? Not that Scotland is in any position to complain when it comes to money even without this. Scotland does very nicely out of the Barnett Formula as it is. Their inability on this occasion to extract anything further hardly makes them paupers as a consequence.
During the 2010 to 2015 parliament, as I recall, the Lib Dems managed to prise very many concessions out of David Cameron in return for their support including Nick Clegg's ridiculous free school meals policy with which we are all saddled now for all eternity because once it is given it can never be taken away. They forced a referendum on the country that it didn't want but happily gave up their commitment on tuition fees as part of the quid pro quo. That said all you needed to know about Lib Dem policies. The rest is history.
The irony is that had Theresa May not abandoned the triple lock on pensions and not promised to means test winter fuel allowances she might not have needed the DUP's help at all. Instead she has had to have imposed on her what she should probably never had abandoned in the first place, however sensible it might have been economically and fiscally. If only the unionists could have insisted on her abandoning the 0.7% of GDP on foreign aid policy we could all rejoice.
It goes without saying of course that, though Labour are critical of this deal, they tried to have a similar one in both 2010 when Gordon Brown was trying to cling on and again as we approached the election in 2015 under Wallace. Had Brown managed to cobble together a coalition or some kind of confidence and supply deal he would have had to do a deal with more than one party so he was perfectly prepared to spend our money keeping himself in power. And the same would be true now under Chauncey. He is under the impression that he will be PM in six months time - he informed someone at Glastonbury of this over the weekend. The only way that that will happen is to do a deal. That would mean doing deals with the SNP, Plaid Cymru, the Greens, the Lib Dems and the DUP. How much of our money is he prepared to spend to do that? Or would he accomplish it all by taxing the rich and confiscating their empty homes? Even for Chauncey's Labour, the hypocrisy of criticising this deal is startling.
Anyway, the deal has been done and now we have a government that looks, dare I say, reasonably strong and stable for the first time in a couple of weeks. Now is the time to get on with some governing. Maybe the DUP might force the Conservatives to actually behave like Conservatives and stop apologising for their principles. That would be welcome. Chauncey told people at Glastonbury that he expects to be PM inside 6 months. Presumably he did so having inhaled some of the sweet aromas that waft around Worthy Farm at this time of year. This deal means that that is not going to happen any time soon. As the past few weeks have shown, a lot can change in politics very very quickly. And so this deal is well worth the money offered up to the DUP. Money spent on Northern Ireland's infrastructure rather than on Labour's gerrymandering is money very well spent.
Monday, 26 June 2017
I think the most depressing feature of the current hero worship of Chauncey amongst a certain section of our more intellectually challenged countrymen and women is that we all know damned well that in a few years time, when it has all gone disastrously wrong, they will all deny having ever cheered his name, chanted it, written placards about it, tweeted it, liked it on Facebook or got the gurning supply teacher who looks a bit like him and dresses a hell of a lot like him to pose for a selfie. Voted for him? Gosh no. I always thought he was a wrong un.
I suppose we can content ourselves with this thought but you do have to worry don't you. Even if the Tories bring back a deal that gets the EU to pay us to leave whilst handing us the German car industry and forces the French to give us the Gallic shrug in addition to our fish back there will still be people who find fault, not least the Labour leader who would claim that by speaking softly to people he could have instituted world peace at the same time. We have to worry though because the plan was that we would have a couple of years after the deal was done and it had been forced through parliament before we had to have another election. Now there is a good chance that we will have one either when all is going disastrously wrong or just when the inevitable compromises are being made. Result? Nobody will be happy, everyone will complain, everyone will claim that they could have done better and everyone will blame the Tories for saddling us with Brexit in the first place, history having been rewritten just sufficiently in the meantime. After all if we can convince ourselves that the Tories are responsible for a fire in a tower block and that it is their fault that many of those who were living there illicitly will never be identified then we can presumably blame them for Brexit very easily.
Perhaps the millennials who are now singing Chauncey's name at Glastonbury ought to remind themselves of a piece of recent history that is unrelated to his fondness for terrorism, left wing fascism, the Soviet Union and union militancy. Perhaps we should remind them that the man now being lauded for the brilliance of his electoral campaign in which he strode around the country with much energy, stood in great contrast to his performance during the referendum campaign. Where was his energy? Where was his fiery rhetoric? Where were his principles? Had the Labour vote held even slightly to the Labour line ostensibly in favour of remain and history would have been very very different.
But this should cheer us up. Yes the world has very clearly gone mad in recent months but this madness cannot last. Even if this current reverence for all things Chauncey, this cult surrounding a man who cannot dress properly and who looks like Steptoe and whose political opinions would make a beauty queen blush with shame seems baffling we can at least now understand how apparently sane countries can get swept along by populists. We have always assumed that such things could never happen in Britain, now we know that we are not immune. A man who was a national joke only months ago is now having his name chanted at a pop concert. How did that happen? I don't think any of us really know, least of all the man himself.
This is a 69 year old career politician whose career has been a failure, who only got his present position by mistake and who never dreamt that he would ever do so well at the general election. He is only still in position because he ignored the opinions of his own MPs. Oh and he lost the election. The last 2 leaders of his party to do that resigned the next day.
Now? Not only is he firmly entrenched in power, he is intent on forcing out his critics and centrist enemies. Yet he presents himself as the voice of reason, of compromise, of peace and loveliness.
I know none of this sounds very cheering, but it is. Because the left are ultimately extremely unpleasant people who imagine themselves morally superior. This means that they will go too far. They always do as a consequence of that very special sanctimony unique to them. They will be exposed and those currently enamoured by them will be disgusted and discomfited. Had the Tories been even slightly competent that would have happened at the election. Now, like a really scary movie with a most improbable storyline, we have reached the third act, the point when everything goes bad and all looks hopeless and lost and the villain is seen by everyone as the hero before his true colours are revealed just in time. All the Tories need to do to achieve this is have a hero emerge to rescue us all. No pressure.
Sunday, 25 June 2017
God and Moses are the best of pals. We know this because they spent so much time talking to one another on Mount Sinai. So you don't go dissing Moses. If God finds out, which of course he will because he is God, then you're in trouble. Even if you're Moses' brother.
The tribe of Israel was on the move. They were moving through the desert and making camp in various places throughout it.
Now I may have forgotten to mention previously that Moses had married an Ethiopian woman. In my defence the reason I forgot to mention this was because the Bible forgot to mention this. It tells us thus:
'because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman.'
Now they tell us.
Anyway, for some reason this prompted some resentment in Aaron and his wife and they talked about it angrily. But God heard all about this. It's odd how sometimes God hears things and sometimes he doesn't isn't it. It's almost as if they make it all up to suit the story.
Anyway, God called Aaron and his wife to see him in the Tabernacle where he spoke to them from behind a big pillar of cloud. If only they did weather forecasts like that.
God told the two of them that Moses was his pal and that, though he was speaking to them from behind this big cloud, - it's not mentioned whether or not they had umbrellas - when he spoke to Moses he did so face to face. No clouds or speaking through visions or dreams for his mate Moses. In other words Moses was the main man, second only to God and God had his back. So why were they talking badly about him? Aaron and Miriam, his wife, were sent on their way but Miriam was afflicted with leprosy as punishment.
Why though wasn't Aaron punished? He was the chief priest. His sons had been killed by God for not getting things right in the Tabernacle, not wearing the right clothes in the right order or treading on the cracks in the pavement or some stupid reason. Aaron had been rude about God's best friend and his own brother and he was let off and his wife was punished. More casual misogyny there from the Bible and from God.
Aaron went to Moses to plead for Miriam and so Moses, humble chap that he was, went to plead with God for her salvation and cure. Don't worry, said God, just chuck her out of the camp as per my standing instructions about lepers and she will miraculously get better without antibiotics and you can let her back in again. So that's what they did. Fortunately they didn't move the camp during her isolation. They waited for her to stop being scabby. All in all she got off more lightly than her sons did. But not as lightly as her husband.
But the bigger question is, why have we only just been told about Moses getting married? It's like they make this stuff up as they go along isn't it.
Saturday, 24 June 2017
Friday, 23 June 2017
Sometimes you have to wonder about democracy don't you, or remember what Churchill said about it being the least worst system. Then again we are some way off from the next election, even in the unlikely event that Theresa May fails to do a deal with the DUP and they cut their noses off to spite their faces.
A poll out today says that Chauncey is now seen by a majority as the better prime minister over Theresa May. This seems to be based largely on the fact he is better at talking to grieving members of the public and dispenses hugs. These are clearly great attributes if you are a PM. Maybe he could try it on Angela Merkel. Or Donald Trump. It's almost worth voting for him just to see that.
Theresa May has not had a good couple of weeks of course, but she is by no means suddenly lacking in capability as prime minister. She is just not the colossus of competence and sure footedness we had formerly assumed.
Chauncey on the other hand remains the confused half wit those of us who pay attention have always known. Only 3 weeks ago his MPs considered him a deranged liability. Then they abandoned principle and decided he is a genius, having lost the election, but by a margin that looked respectable. His various solutions to the country's ills remain dangerous and illiterate. He would create a defence and security crisis and bankrupt us. Most of the country saw this at the election. The others just saw the free cash he was promising and voted accordingly.
Now a few more have decided he is their kind of guy because of the hugs. Like I say, sometimes you have to wonder about the great British public and start casting your eye about for property abroad. But this should be concentrating minds in the Conservative Party. Mrs May needs to be replaced sooner rather than later. The smart money now seems to be moving in the direction of David Davis. He would be a good choice, indeed I was disappointed when David Cameron beat him to the leadership. If a coronation could be arranged then it should be done with despatch. Either way when Chauncey is regarded by a cretinous section of the country as the better prime minister then something needs to be done. Do the Tories have a hugger?
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.