Boris no mates

Way back, when brexit was just a twinkle in Farage’s eye, I did point out that one of the likely consequences of brexit would be to end the special relationship between the UK and the US. While I wasn’t saying they’d go to war or anything, but the UK’s influence over the US was in part based on its membership of the EU. Leave the EU and that meant losing that influence. Inevitably the US would start courting other members of the club instead.

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And if anyone doubted this we had proof the other day with Boris Johnson appearing on Fox and Friends in an effort to influence Trump and talk him out of pulling out of the Iran deal. That’s how remote the UK now is, no visit to the oval office, nor was the UK even consulted. No instead, our foreign secretary is so far removed from the actual decision making that he has to appear on a morning breakfast show and hope Trump is watching.

And keep in mind, Trump pulling out of the Iran deal has implications for the UK. If the UK (along with the rest of Europe) ignores Trump and doesn’t reimpose sanctions, they could face counter sanctions (and a freeze on trade talks) in return. On the other hand, imposing sanctions on Iran would result in considerable political blowback on the UK (at a time when it can least afford that) and the loss of trade (and complicating the UK’s attempts to get trade deals with the rest of the world post-brexit).

I mean let’s pause for a minute and imagine what the conservative press would say if the UK foreign secretary under labour went to Washington and Obama was too busy to meet them, forcing him (or her) to go on breakfast TV instead and try to curry favour with Obama by trying to flatter him. And imagine if Obama did something similar without actually bothering to consult with the UK or EU. The right wing media (both sides of the Atlantic) would be foaming at the mouth one assumes. But there’s one rule for GOP presidents, another for democrats.

And again, this is as good as it gets for the brexiters. Once Trump gets either impeached, or reined in by his adviser’s (i.e. its pointed out that he need to screw the British over in any trade deal, or he’ll get himself in trouble), the UK can expect a much bumpier ride. They’ve brought forward his visit to the UK to July. However, that to me sounds risky. Trump get’s greeted by massive protests, he’s liable to get the hump and take his toys home. In short, its a tactic (much like Boris Johnson’s appearance on Fox) that could backfire badly.

Local election results

It was slightly worrying in the wake of the local election results to hear both sides declaring victory. However, there was bad news for both the major parties in this election.

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Governing parties tend to do badly in local elections and given the shambolic nature of Tory government, with them making a pig’s breakfast of brexit, the windrush scandal and the Trump who is coming for tea (and whose solution to knife crime is to make it easier for criminals to acquire guns), the Tories should have been crucified. Hence their margin for victory was to avoid total wipe out in areas like London, which they achieved. However this ignores certain key details in the results that swung things in their favour.

Firstly the continuing collapse of UKIP was the main story of this election. Inevitably this led to some migration of voters over to the Tories, which prevented a complete collapse in their support. If we were to add UKIP’s losses to the Tories losses (which given that the Tories have basically become UKIP-lite is not unreasonable) then the picture for the Tories looks a lot more in keeping with what we’d expect for a mid-term election. However the Tories need to consider that the UKIP well is now tapped dry. UKIP have hit rock bottom….although knowing them they’ll likely keep on digging. But the Tories can’t rely on UKIP losses benefiting them in the next election.

When Cameron initiated the EU referendum, Tory support was pretty evenly split between leave voting and remain voting seats (with a slight lean towards leave). Now its closer to a 70%/30% split in favour of leave voting areas, with the Tories increasingly been driven out of remain voting districts. Which means the swing they’ll need to achieve next election to win in those marginal seats is all the larger. Indeed, baring a collapse in support for labour it might now be impossible for the Tories to achieve a majority. That is unless they can get those remain voting districts to support them again. Which would probably mean changing their brexit policy….or perhaps having a brexit policy!

The other factor in the Tories favour was their secret weapon – Jeremy Corbyn. Labour suffered due to the anti-Semitism scandal and was thus not able to capitalise on the Tories difficulties as much as they should have. However, while this was a factor yes, I doubt it was as critical as some in the media have suggested (let’s face it, they don’t like him much so they’re going to ham it up a bit).

I would argue that the reason for labour’s lacklustre performance boils down to two key factors. Firstly, labour’s brexit fudge is being exposed. Labour’s problem with brexit is that while a significant proportion of labour members and supporters voted remain (as in around 90%), its front bench (including Corbyn) are mostly leave voters. And while the majority of labour voters also voted remain, a minority in some key areas did vote leave (which combined with the Tory supporting leave voters to give leave a majority in those areas). Inevitably Corbyn has walked a fine line between placating the remain voters (with promises of a soft brexit), while pursuing a pro-leave strategy, hoping the remain voting millennial’s don’t catch him at it.

Now while labour’s strategy on brexit is infinitely more sensible than the Tories (given that they have no clue what they are doing), its still bonkers, its not going to work. The wheels are starting to come off Corbyn’s brexit plan and voters are starting to notice. This means some are more inclined to vote for pro-remain parties such as the lib dems or the greens (who both did rather well in these elections). And as brexit approaches, this trend will likely accelerate. And if there is any sort of a backlash against brexit (as I suspect their will be once its realised they’ve screwed the country over), labour won’t be able to capitalise on this, given that voters identify them as a pro-leave party.

The other factor in this election relates to Corbyn’s war against other left wing parties. The only reason Theresa May is still prime minster is because Corbyn rejected offers of an election deal with the other left wing parties. Given that several Tory MP’s only won by margins of just a few hundred votes (or less!), such a deal would have made a Tory majority impossible, even with the help of the Unionists. Corbyn’s response since the election has been to ramp up the pressure on the other left wing parties, trying to convince their voters to support labour instead. The sharp rise in support for these other parties in this election, should serve as a warning to labour that this strategy isn’t going to work. We have perhaps hit peak Corbyn. His strategy will just mean next election the other left wing parties will campaign against him and labour (rather than the Tories), which will make a labour victory all but impossible.

So all in all, these election results should be food for thought for the leaders of both parties. However, the initial reaction of both May and Corbyn seems to be that they’re going to read out of these results what they want to see and carry on regardless. Both are putting the internal politics of their own parties ahead of the best interests of the country. This means its increasingly likely the next election will simply be decided by the luck of the draw (who will lose more support in key marginal seats), likely a hung parliament and a coalition. But with labour and the Tories so divided internally they won’t be able to govern effectively (even if they could get a majority). We’d be as well off skipping the next election campaign and just getting the Queen to flip a coin.

The trump whispering warmongering yahoo

Israeli president Netanyahu released a dodgy dossier, which accuses Iran of breaking the terms of its nuclear deal. Now there might be some substance to it yes, some investigation might be necessary, indeed one or two experts pointed out this is the whole reason why the Iran deal existed. However, call me sceptical, but I’d be little suspicious of the words of a president who has an ulterior motive to provoke a war. And it is more than a little ironic Israel lecturing Iran, when its an open secret that Israel has an arsenal of nuclear weapons.

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The style of the presentation however indicated that it was directed at an audience of one. With prop’s and cue cards, this was clearly all laid on for the benefit of Trump. Netanyahu knows that Trump wants to have a war to help deflect from the whole Russia investigation. His original plan was to have that war with North Korea. However, as I discussed before, both Korea’s decided to make a show of peace talks to thwart Trump’s plans. Given the clear blue water between what both sides in Korea want, a lasting peace is unlikely, but they can at the very least keep up the charade until Trump’s impeached.

So basically Netanyahu may well have just come out with a big map of Iran with a bullseye on it. The situation with Iran is particularly frustrating for Israel because previously it was assumed that Israel would actually do the bombing (with US help and approval), sparing America from the not inconsiderable blow back that would emerge if it were to attack Iran. However, the installation of Russian S-300 air defence missiles has effectively rendered Iran “Israel proof”, quite apart from the risk of Russian retaliation against Israel if they attacked. Hence why he needs the US to do his dirty work for him.

Now I could try and explain how, even if these allegations are true (and they stink of what we heard in the lead up to the Iraq war), the US would still be well advised not to attack. However, that would involve using logic and reason. So my advice to those in the region is to adopt the Jung-Moon gambit. Basically they engage in their own bit of Trump whispering.

Firstly we have some neutral party propose talks. This ideally should be someone with a bit of leverage over Trump. Egypt, Azerbaijan, Turkey (countries Trump has business interests in) or of course Russia could be the ones to do it. In short Trump will either have to agree to this or risk his businesses losing out financially….or a certain pee tape finding its way onto the internet.

Now if you were Iran and a little naive, they’d bring in Hans Blix this very week, have him do some inspections and report back by the end of the month that the Israeli’s are talking bollix. But again, you’re being too logical. There needs to be lots of talking first. You’re not stalling for time, you’re stalling for impeachment. And even Trump has admitted that could happen as early as December.

Given how inept some of Trump’s people are, there’s all sorts of diplomatic traps that can be set for them. E.g. Iran agrees to inspections of its facilities, but only on conditions that other nations undergo similar inspections. Or it suggests we make the whole of the Middle east a WMD free zone, and it becomes a war crime to install such weapons in the region. Obviously this would be unacceptable to either Israel or the Saudi’s (who also have a WMD program nobody talks about, even thought they may have used them recently in Yemen). But Trump might actually be persuaded to go along with it, then hastily have to back away from the idea when his allies hear about it.

Even when the inspections go ahead, it would be better to conduct them slowly. Anything that doesn’t get inspected, you can bet the hawks will claim is where the nuke’s are being hidden. If Hans Blix looks like he’s finished, suggest there’s an oil refinery down the road, maybe he should inspect that too, just to be sure. On the way there you pass a farm, shouldn’t he inspect the septic tank? (you never know!). Hell he could go and give all of the country’s nuclear scientists a colonoscopy just to be on the safe side. The point is drag the process out and by the time the all clear comes back, President Pence will be too busy trying to pass the Handmaiden’s Act to care about foreign policy.

But jokes aside, there are many who support Trump because the subscribe to the greater fool theory. In that they think he’s an idiot who can be conned into doing things. But that works both ways. It also means he can be manipulated into doing things you don’t want by other people as well. And, if the Iraq war showed us anything, its that starting wars for narrow short terms reasons (with a moron in charge), is likely to have serious long term consequences. Any idea that’s so crazy it requires either a madman or a moron to implement is by definition a bad idea.