Trump and the Republican civil war
As the BBC discussed this week the Republican party is now caught up in a civil war, with the party establishment fighting off the Tea party. Much of the GOP recognise that no matter how popular Trump might appear, all the demographics are against him and ultimately he has only a very slim chance of defeating Hilary. While yes some polls do put him ahead, its always dangerous to read too much into such polls this early in the campaign. The suspicion is that once its set as Hilary v’s Trump and once its broken down on a state by state level, she will pull a good deal ahead. More crucially the GOP is forced to ask, even if we can get him elected, is that a good thing? A ill-mannered egomaniac buffoon who goes around insulting people is simply not a credible candidate for President of the United States.
Events however took a shock turn with governor Chris Christie endorsing Trump. In essence this shows that the GOP faces a sort of “prisoner dilemma”. If they all stick together and oppose Trump they should be able to deny him the nomination (although that risks him running as an independent). But individually it may be in their interests to slither on over to the winning side. Within the next few days and weeks the rest of the GOP will face this choice. Some, notably Cruz, Rubio and Bush will almost certainly opt to avoid any endorsement for the time being, but longer term they might be forced too.
Fox news faces an interesting dilemma. They do not like Trump one bit, largely because he can’t be controlled and is a danger to their interests. He is in essence a Frankenstein monster of their creation which they may have to now destroy…or fire Megan Kelly (who all the same might want to brush up on her resume just in case!). However, backing Hilary would create “issues”. Fox has spent the last twenty odd years portraying her as the wicked witch of the West. So they would have to come out and say “Benghazi, e-mails, whitewater, oh that was all just a pile of BS we put out to distract you while our corporate buddies raided your pension funds”. Well we all know what happened to the boy who cried wolf….he got a job on Fox!
As I see it there are four possible end games to this:
Scenario #1 (the most likely), Hilary trounces Trump in the election, sweeping into power taking control of congress too. Regardless of whether Obama gets his nominee to the Supreme court through, Hilary will do so and likely replace one or two other justice’s during her term. While she doesn’t turn the US into a socialist republic (as Fox would have you believe), she does continue on the policies of Obama, cementing in Obamacare and gets his modest background check rules on guns pushed through. In the fallout that follows the GOP faces inward and in the ensuing political blood bath the party splits.
Scenario #2, Rubio pulls a rabbit out of his butt and manages to beat Trump. Being the egomanic bully that he is, Trump runs as an independent, costing Rubio (who actually has a half decent chance of beating Hilary) the election. In the post mortem that follows, again the GOP implodes and splits.
Scenario #3, Trump, somehow manages to get elected, quickly proves to be dreadful at the job, even worse than James Buchanan, alienates US allies, starts (and loses) an economic war with the likes of China and tries to enact racist national socialist policies which quickly put him on collision course with both Congress and the Supreme court (regardless of who gets Scalia’s job, a vague glance at the constitution says you can’t discriminate against Mexicans or Muslims). He might prove to be so unpopular that democrat leaning states consider temporary (or permanent) succession. In he end, he is removed from office under the terms of the 25th amendment (probably after he attempts to start an actual war with China or Russia!). In the political bloodbath that follows the GOP splits.
Scenario #4, the CIA, NSA, Mossad, FSB, the mob….or whoever does this sort of cloak and dagger stuff in China terminates his campaign “with extreme prejudice” (and I mean way worse than anything that comes out of his mouth). In the wake of this his VC (likely Christy or Palin….now it all starts to make sense!) gets the job….although chances are they’ll take out both of em too just to be sure, in which case Rubio gets the job and probably beats Hilary.
So rather worryingly the only scenario now where the GOP holds it together (and wins the election) involves Trump getting whacked….which I’m hoping his own security are aware of!
The Tory party split
And speaking of break ups…. there’s the war within the Tory party. Cameron is now withholding documents from anti-EU cabinet members. This probably makes sense as they’ll inevitably go through said documents and try to put a pro-UKIP spin on it. For example, recent migration figures came out showing a drop in migration rates into the UK, which inevitably the right wing press spun to suggest the opposite was true. However cutting off minsters like this represents a break with protocol.
As one or two of the Sunday newspapers discuss, there is every possibility that the Tory party could split over this referendum. Win or loose, Cameron will almost certainly face a challenge to his leadership. The markets show increasing signs of nervousness. Rating agencies are threatening a downgrade, the G20 warning of a decade of economic limbo for the UK, while Brexit is negotiated (which will not be quick and will leave millions of brit’s stuck in limbo). Meanwhile university leaders are worried about the impact on research funding, while defence chiefs warn that Brexit will put at risk British security.
With the stakes this high, its likely that things will get nasty, particularly as we get close to referendum day. If the result is leave, I can’t see Cameron surviving as PM. While if its stay, I can’s see how his wayward ministers can remain in government. And as the likes of Boris or IDS are unlikely to be happy on the backbenches, its likely the party will split. Cameron may well have just chosen the EU as the hill on which he and his party end up dying on.
Another victim of Tory cuts
Another story people may have missed was Welsh police deliberately running over a dog on the A55. While some of the media did pick up on this, they failed to point out that this dog was in effect another victim of Tory cuts. Normal procedure for dealing with a stray animal on the road is to form a rolling blockade, bring traffic to a stop, deal with the animal and then restart traffic.
However, this process is costly and both council and police budgets have come under strain recently. I recall pointing out some time ago how police and councils were trying to get the victims of traffic accidents to pay for the costs associated with the aftermath of an accident (even if it wasn’t the drivers fault!). Of course, this is a dangerous thing to do as it simply encourages people who get into difficulty to not call the police and opt for a “big society” solution (a BBC reporter mentions how she ended up facing the wrong way on the hard shoulder after a skid on some oil and wisely called the police to help her turn around safely….which she then got billed for!). Obviously this increases the risk of accidents, which is precisely why they shouldn’t be doing this!
Similarly the advice now to dog owners is, if your dog gets loose on the road, don’t call the police, they’ll just run him over. Instead, go out onto an active motorway and try to retrieve the dog yourself. Yes, you’ll probably cause a pileup, but at least you’ll save Osborne a few bob.
So when you hear Osborne and Cameron talking about the need to find “inventive” ways to save on government spending, this is what they are talking about.
Irish Election results – populists dodging responsibly
The results of the Irish election show a resounding defeat for the Irish labour party. This is not really a surprise, much like the Tories operation liberal shield, its inevitable the smaller party will suffer worst in a situation where a government pursues unpopular policies. Despite the austerity, its likely Fine Gael will still be the largest party, although they won’t have enough votes, even if we include the obvious candidates, to form a coalition government.
This raises the question that has been asked since the start of the campaign. Will Fianna Fail go for a coalition with Sinn Fein? Certainly the party blamed for causing the recession had a remarkably good showing (perhaps showing how short forgetful many people are!). Sinn Fein say they are ruling out any coalition. This is not surprising given that as a party of protest, they’ll quickly lose support if they ever have to live up to the wild promises they’ve been making. But if a party isn’t prepared to go into government, what’s the point of voting for them? They can oppose the government for free by standing outside the Dail with a placard! Why do we need to pay them a salary to do this inside the house?
But the alternative to stopping Sinn Fein would be an unholy alliance between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail. The question is, will this just prove to be a bridge too far? Its possible Fine Gale will pull together enough independents to form a minority government, however a quick review of the results suggests that this is likely impossible. Most of the independents are running on an anti-government or anti-austernity platform and clearly will not go into government. Even adding all of them together, one struggles to come up with a majority.
Clearly, FF know have decided not a good time to be in government (lots of unpopular decisions will need to be made and they don’t want to renege on promises that quite frankly they should never have made) and like SF (who’ve spent the last five years just make all sorts of wild promises) they are seeking to dodge responsibility, likely meaning a hung parliament. An early election is a real possibility. But again, if FF (or SF) aren’t prepared to go into government, what’s the point of voting for them? Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw rocks.