The Turkey’s prepare to vote for Christmas

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So Corbyn played his trump card, that he had proof that the Tories are planning to privatise the NHS. Now I have to say (and I’m hardly known as a fan of Corbyn) that I’ve heard first and second hand accounts from at least two independent sources (one of whom works for the government and another in finance) who can back up his story. So no this is not coming from the Russians (clearly that’s just Cummings and the right wing media in damage control mode).

Even small details in Corbyn’s claims, such as their being 6 separate meetings between the US and UK trade delegations, is what I was told several months ago. I’ve not made a big deal out of it, simply because I assumed it was common knowledge. Then again, I don’t read any right wing newspapers so maybe I’m being a little naive.

But either way, yes if you vote Tory, you are probably voting to end the NHS, the rolling back of consumer safety, workers rights and environmental protection. That is pretty much a given. And before anyone says I’m alright jack I can afford to go private. Go ask an American sometime how much it costs them to get health insurance. And then there’s the out of pocket medical expenses the HMO’s don’t always cover. You can be spending a thousand dollars on an ambulance, several hundred for medicines, etc. Not only do Americans spend twice the amount on their privatised healthcare system, but the US government spends more subsidising a private system (per capita) than the UK spends on the NHS. So its going to cost the UK money not save it.

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Yet despite it all, the Tories are still way ahead in the polls even thought they’ve had an awful campaign so far, where the PM has to be kept away from people, Mogg told to hide in his country estate and even Trump has been told to please keep his trap shut (least he blurt out something incriminating). But they are still likely too win, largely because the other parties haven’t worked out the Tory strategy and aren’t doing anything to counter it.

The Tories under Boris have completed their transformation into the UK Republican party. And the republican party mantra is, if you ain’t one of the 1% you can fu*k off. They can get away with this because they know that there’s enough people who will support them for a variety of reasons ranging from ideology, bigotry, racism, greed, stupidity and straight out sadism. For republicanism is at its heart sadopopulism. Tory/GOP supporters are quite okay with policies that make them worse off (or actually endanger their lives), so long as some other perceived enemy is also (or more severely) effected. I have it bad but at least them liberals/migrants/poor people have it worse.

And while you’d never get a majority to support that, such is the undemocratic nature of elections in the US and the UK its possible to get a majority control in government with only 30% of the votes. The brexit vote was carried by just 37% of voters (and many leave voters will be dead before brexit happens). Trump got 3 million less votes than Hilary and won with the support of just 25% of the electorate.

In short, the Tories are not a political party anymore but a tribe. Hence why many of the tactics the opposition are employing simply won’t work. Corbyn for example recently said that, given how he can’t get remainers to support him (cos he’s straight up lied to them dozens of times in a row), he was going to appeal to leave voters for the rest of the campaign LOL. Nothing he says will convince them to vote labour. Boris is the brexiters tribal chief, endorsed by the high priests of brexit (Farage, Mogg & Rothermere) and protected by the black magic of the tribe’s witch doctor (Cummings). Logic and facts have no meaning for Tory voters.

And since we are talking about it, no Trump is not going to be impeached. Do you really think republicans are that stupid they don’t know he’s committed a long list of numerous crimes, practically on a daily basis? They know it all too well, they just don’t care. He’s their tribal chief, until he’s deposed they’ll back him to the hilt (of course once they realise his goose is cooked then they’ll betray him, you can’t backstab someone without first getting behind them).

The only way of seeing him in a prison cell is for the democrats to win the 2020 election by whatever means necessary. Which means putting forward a candidate who has the best chance of beating him and uniting the left wing vote behind that candidate, regardless of which wing of the party they represent (no more of this Bernie or bust BS and someone needs to tell Bloomberg to pi*s off). Then they prevent another Trump from ever happening again by change the voting system to Proportional Representation, split up the job of president into head of state and head of government (as is the norm in most countries) and de-politicise the US judicial system (so nobody will ever be able to overturn Roe v’s Wade).

The same is true in the UK. The left and centre need to unite to stop the Tories. In any seat where the Tories have any chance of winning, there should only be one other candidate standing. Between now and election day is it that difficult for the candidates to get together and agree to all withdraw bar one, whom the rest endorse (with the understanding that said candidate will support a 2nd referendum and switching the UK’s voting system to PR). And incidentally, in quite a lot of seats in English cities the lib dems are often the 2nd placed party. In return many labour marginals could be moved into the safe seat category. This would turn the tables on the Tories.

Also it needs to be acknowledged that a big turn off for many voters is Corbyn. Put it this way, any election literature I’ve seen from labour this election (from the local candidate), doesn’t even mention Corbyn once. That’s how toxic he’s considered by even those within his own party. Rumours have it he was planning to quit in the spring anyway, so why not just make it official. He comes out and says that he’ll stay on in a caretaker capacity until brexit is sorted (one way or the other), then resign and let a new labour leader take over as PM. Furthermore, the initial focus of a labour government will be on resolving brexit and ending austerity. The more hard left policies such as re-nationalisation would be issues for the next PM to implement (or possibly a future government after another election).

This would essentially be a statement of fact. A labour government is not going to have time (or the money) for anything other than brexit and basically cleaning up the Tories mess, at least for the first year or two. Backbenchers and coalition partners will insist on these issues being prioritised. Admitting this reality would probably be enough of a compromise to persuade wavering remain voters (who will otherwise vote Tory to stop Corbyn) to back the coalition.

And similarly the lib dems need to drop their policy of revoking article 50 if they win. While yes it does make sense if you understand what’s going on (or how a 2nd referendum would actually pan out), but to anyone who isn’t a political expert it sounds arrogant and elitist. And its not like they are going to win a majority anyway. The SNP too should drop all talk of independence until after brexit. They haven’t much chance of winning a referendum until the damage of brexit/Boris has been demonstrated, so why talk up an issue now that will just cost you votes.

Of course, its highly unlikely any of this will happen. After all we are only having an election because the opposition were too pig headed to come together, oust Boris and his cabinet of ghouls and hold a 2nd referendum (then an election). If you’ve been on any labour/momentum social media recently they spent half their time moaning about the lib dems. You’d swear brexit and austernity was their idea. And the lib dems end up reciprocating.

And in fairness to the lib dems you only have to listen to the latest out of Len McCluskey’s dumb pie hole, in which he suggests that Corbyn should ignore what was said at conference and back leave. This has been the problem, you can’t trust anything Corbyn says because he can’t tie his shoe laces without first consulting with his cabal of toxic advisers.

Hence with a disunited left, its very likely the Tories will still win anyway. Doesn’t matter how badly they screw up, what pesky facts the opposition come up with, nor how out of touch or down right nasty the Tories sound. They will win because they don’t need a majority of voters to back them, just their tribe (who don’t care about the facts), a biased media (even the BBC have become so pro-Boris as to inspire meme’s) and an unfair voting system.

The Tory tribe don’t care how evil or corrupt their chief is, so long as he “shares the cake” and they get a crumb or two, they’ll still support him. Granted they might feel a little differently when they lose access to healthcare (as many older Tory voters are ultimately voting to die in a pool of their own piss on a dirty hospital floor), but it will be too late then. The Turkey’s are literally voting for Christmas.

UK election update and how populism has broken British politics

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Its long been true that a politicians promise lasts as long as a snow ball in hell and is about as reliable as the Scottish national football team. But this latest election in the UK really does take the biscuit. All the parties, but the Tories in particular, are proposing policies that are unworkable and divorced from reality. And as they also contradict everything the respective leaderships have done over the last few years, it is extremely unlikely they would actually keep these promises (if you think the Tories are going to invest money in the NHS, or you think Corbyn’s going to allow a 2nd referendum, I’ve got some magic beans I can sell you).

Inevitably this is the impact of populism on UK politics. Because the problem with populism and such tabloid friendly policies is that they violate what I would call the iron law of politics – all policies have to conform with the realities of the real world if they are too be successful. You can’t break the laws of physics, nor can you ignore reality. If a policy is not properly costed or it would have massive repercussions for a large number of people, or it is just plain unworkable, it ain’t going to happen. Any government who tries to implement such a policy can expect it to fail (as backbenchers rebel or you get sued and tied up in court or civil servants kill it off). Or worse they suffer a massive backlash against it after its implemented (which is basically what’s going to happen to the Tories and Corbyn after brexit happens).

Late us take a few examples. For starters the Tories brexit policy, where by they want a “clean breakbrexit and to restrict immigration. That would put in jeopardy many UK businesses and a large number of jobs. The likely response from businesses is that they’ll try and circumvent this legislation (e.g. find a way to exploit the NI loophole to move goods in and out of the EU/UK) or they just hire a bunch of lawyers to fill out all the paperwork for them. Its the same way the corporations have been circumventing Trump’s tariffs (they send Soya beans to Brazil, or electronic goods from China to Taiwan, take it out of one box, put in another one and then send it off tariff free).

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Of course, while big corporations can afford to insulate themselves and limit the damage of brexit, smaller businesses or individuals (who can’t afford to hire a lawyer to fill out the 86 pages of forms needed to claim residency) are going to be exposed to the very worst of its full effects. But there some elements of brexit big business can’t avoid. Any sort of queue at the borders for example immediately imposes a cost to them. Even if its only for a few hours, that basically means a truck driver cannot get his delivery into/out of the UK without going over his hours (so he’ll need to stop and rest or you’ll need two drivers, essentially doubling your costs).

Which is why the likely response is going to be for corporations to start suing the government, knowing full well the government doesn’t want to get into a messy legal scrap, which could involve sensitive documents being subpoenaed and ministers being called to testify in court (raising the risk that they perjure themselves while under oath). Pretty much every time the Tories have been faced with this threat so far over brexit they’ve either settled out of court or lost the case.

So corporations know that they can safely sue the government and either wriggle some sort of concession out of them or win compensation (noting that neither compels them to stay in the UK long term). Of course, as this means the EU (or the US, China and India) knows that they will have the UK over a barrel in trade talks, they will make few concessions because they don’t have too (as the UK will be compelled to do that for them).

That said, labour’s manifesto also repeatedly breaks this iron law of politics. Lets take for example their plan to abolish private schools. I mean I’d be curious as to what drugs they were doing when they dreamt up this one up. How’s that going to pan out in the real world? Well the previously private school will become a state funded school (which receives a donation of a few million a year from several anonymous offshore funds to top up its budget). The rich will just buy up all the property in its catchment area (then put the kids and a Nanny in those houses), so the only people who get to go to those schools will be rich kids. The only difference is that now, thanks to labour, taxpapers will be helping to subsidise the education of Ress-Mogg’s kids. Does that really strike anybody as a good idea?

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And what about nationalising the water, power and rail companies. I mean yes the services they provide are terrible and overpriced, privatisation has been a failure, but that doesn’t mean you get to fill in the blanks with whatever fantasy most appeals to you. The devil is in the detail, and without such details re-nationalisation either won’t happen or it won’t change anything.

Assuming they can get such a bill through parliament, the first hurdle is that they will get sued by the shareholders of these companies. At the very least this ties labour up in court for several years, meaning that by the time the policy can be implemented the Tories might be back in (and just drop the case or reverse everything). The only way they can get around this problem is by paying out massive amounts of compensation. Money they simply won’t have.

And what would they be buying? The train operating companies or the UK utility firms are often just the front face that handles billing for your utilities or sells you a train ticket. The actual trains are mostly owned by a separate layer of firms, as will be some of the power stations and large parts of the gas and electricity grid. So you’d have to buy out these firms as well (which is easier said than done as they tend to own quite valuable assets). The UK track network is already owned by a state owned quango (so they are already in a defacto state of national ownership).

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The cost of labour’s re-nationalisation plans according to the centre for policy studies See their website for further info

The trouble is having spent tens of billions (or possibly hundreds of billions) getting control over these assets, labour will have no money left to actually make any improvements. The reason why the UK has a railway network the Italians would be ashamed off is a long standing lack of investment into what is essentially a collection of Victorian era infrastructure (with a similar situation as regards water and power networks).

And while it has gotten a lot worse under privatisation (as they have a captive market and no real incentive to invest), its not like British rail was vastly better (they put some money in yes, but clearly not enough). I mean consider that steam engines were running on British railways up until 1968. So at the same time the Japanese are introducing their bullet trains, and France was working on the TGV, the British were being hauled around by Thomas the tank engine.

Unless the government is prepared to pour many tens of billions of pounds (per year) into the railways to correct these historical mistakes (with tens of billions more going the way of the energy & water), there’s little to be gained from re-nationalisation. They could subsidise ticket prices yes, or similarly subsidise electricity and water costs, as some other countries with state owned utilities do. But who is going to pay for that? And what’s to stop the Tories simply cancelling such subsidy’s when they get back into power?

Too which the usual reply for Corbyn supporters is tax the rich. However, as I pointed out before, while there are many good reasons why the rich should pay more in taxes (as they do so in many other countries). But we need to be realistic about how much money such taxes will actually raise. Labour themselves estimate such measures would only raise about £80 billion (which might be a little optimistic). But this is nowhere near enough.

The reality is that if they want to undertake such spending plans, they’d have to push up taxes for everybody. Now there’s no reason why higher taxes are a bad idea. There are many countries with thriving economies where citizens pay a lot more in tax (with the wealthy pay a disproportionately higher rate) and they get better public services (I have relatives in Germany and I know people who live in Scandinavia, this is their everyday reality and they prefer that to the British or American model).

And no the rich won’t leave the UK “within minutes” of Corbyn becoming PM. That’s just grade A BS. The only rich who will leave are those who are doing something illegal (you know like the hedge fund managers bribing Boris) or the ones who are bad at maths. For the reality is that the cost of living in a tax haven is often much higher. For example, Switzerland’s cost of living is twice that of Germany (so any German billionaire who lives across the border is imposing a defacto 50% flat tax on himself and having to pay taxes to the Swiss on top of that!).

But that said, there’s a limit to what the rich and corporations will tolerate (just look at Argentina or Venezuela). And a general increase in taxation isn’t what’s in labour’s manifesto promises. And as Marcon discovered when he tried to sneak a tax increase through in France, you are likely to face a serious backlash when the public catch you at it. But before any Tories start sniggering, brexit is also likely to be very expensive. As expensive as Corbyn’s nationalisation policy, if not much more expensive. They too will face the dilemma of either pushing up taxes or implementing another round of deep austerity, neither of which is going to go down terribly well with the general public.

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What about borrowing? Well if you are bank would you lend money to either of these clowns? Probably yes (banks are kind of run by arrogant upper class types), but as its a riskier bet, only at the right price. Which means pushing up interest rates. Which means everybody on a mortgage or who is renting sees their bills going up, which again is likely to provoke an angry backlash. And this also means the financial markets will have Corbyn or Johnson over a barrel. If they don’t dance to the bankers tune, they risk losing access to credit (which they can’t afford to lose).

Finally, we need to acknowledge that the UK is part of a globalised world and not isolated from international events. Another tabloid friendly labour policy is to nationalise BT and give everyone free broadband access. I’m going to assume they’re not familiar with the train wreck which happened when Australia tried this, the so called blunder down under.

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While I’m sceptical that Musk’s starlink will ever work, the very fact its being proposed shows how quickly technology is changing in this field

And I also assume labour are unfamiliar with Elon Musk’s plans to launch a 12,000 satellite network to provide cheap high speed broadband world wide. Now okay, everything Musk needs to be taken with a pinch of salt, but it highlights the fact that how we access the internet today might not be the way we do it in ten year time (how many of you are reading this on a smart phone, a device that was in its infancy when I started this blog). So Corbyn would be spending tens of billions getting his hands on assets that could well be worthless within a decade or so. And while I’m also sceptical of Musk’s hyperloop proposal, its going to mean a big pulse of research in the direction of maglev’s, So it again highlights how transport technologies may change.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that labour can’t implement its policies. The devil is in the detail. It requires one to be a bit more strategically clever and embrace your inner Tyrion Lannister. For example, rather than nationalising the UK railway’s (though holding the threat of it over their heads certainly won’t hurt) I’d instead lean on the rail companies to do their fe*king jobs. Refuse to allow any further fare increases (and either try to lower fares or let inflation do that job for you), fine the rail companies heavily any time a train is late (so heavily its just not in their interests to allow that to happen) and rigidly enforce the conditions of carriage (when you buy a rail ticket you and the rail company are entering into a contract whereby they are legally required to get you to your destination regardless of the costs to them).

Then at the same time offer them a carrot in the form of government money to improve the infrastructure (and again some of that is state owned anyway so that should be straight forward enough) and create a more efficient service, so long as they sign up to certain changes and support these improvements. The rail companies options will be to either sign up to this package or sell up and get out straight away. And even this is a win for the government as it means defacto nationalisation happens, but as the rail companies are doing so voluntarily, there’s no delay in court and you’d likely be able to buy them out at a fraction of the cost.

And equally, if I was a brexiter, far from leaving the EU asap, I’d stay in and draw the process out for as long as possible. As this is exactly what the EU wants to avoid. If they refuse any further extensions, revoke article 50 and threaten a 2nd referendum and a future re-issuing of it at a time that will be most inconvenient for the EU. That would put them over a barrel and force them to grant concessions they’d otherwise be unwilling to concede.

Finally, one has to acknowledge that some of the lefts policies do look a little elitist to anyone who doesn’t follow politics. Do people too poor to take the train really care if the government owns it rather than some random company. Those who do use the trains might see that as a good thing, but they are likely to be able to afford their own internet and would be turned off by the idea of the government owning it. The lib dems policy of revoking article 50 might make sense if you understand the dynamics of how a 2nd referendum would unfold, but it sounds a lot like they just want to ignore the referendum result.

By contrast the Tories have managed to keep their lies consistent. The trouble is, this is more than the usual election white lies. Its bordering on serious fraud. And I don’t think they appreciate the backlash they’ll face once the public realise they’ve been conned.

This is the problem with populism. It forces politicians to undertake blunt manoeuvres on a level his or her base can understand, even when they are strategically stupid things to do. It encourages leaders to lie to their own supporters, because nothing is more dangerous to populism than the truth. Consider that Boris’s brexit plan involved throwing the DUP under the bus and conceding everything the EU had originally asked May to agree too (which she hadn’t), even though he resigned because he argued May had conceded too much.

And in the US the consequences of Trump’s populist policy has been that corporations just kept the bits they liked (tax cuts for them, military and wall building contracts galore) and threw away everything else (e.g. bringing jobs back to America, LOL, for a laugh let’s make parts of the F-35 in China and Turkey). With a White House in chaos, a whole host of problems are building up, dictators have effectively been given free reign to do whatever they like, as have criminals. In fact we’ve seen an explosion in corruption and fraud, ranging from the $4 billion OneCoin ponzi scheme to an epidemic of Indian scammers targeting Americans and fleecing them (India’s Modi of course being another populist racist). So all of this is likely to be what’s coming to the UK post-election, particularly if the Tories win (disaster capitalism at its worst).

Regardless of who wins the election (save the lib dems, the spoil sport girly swots who’d cancel brexit), the policies of both party leaders will mean they’ll quickly find themselves bogged down by their own rhetoric. After which they will have little room to manoeuvre and will just have to do whatever they are told by the banks, the EU and the corporations. And that is what you are voting for.

Another election nobody wants

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Just before the EU referendum result in 2016 it looked likely we’d having an election in Ireland, as there was only a minority government who couldn’t really survive a no confidence vote. That didn’t happen and still hasn’t because it was considered unwise to have an election with brexit going on in the UK (hence the opposition agreed not to table any no confidence motions). Well the UK’s about to have its second brexit election (potentially leading to its 4th brexit PM) at what has to been the most inconvenient time in UK history. And, as I will explain later in this article, a third brexit election is a distinct possibility (and possibly a referendum too).

The cult of the one true brexit v’s the cult of the one true Corbyn v’s the cult of the one true Farage

And as campaigning kicks off we have the absurdity of three parties who all claim to represent “the people” against an out of touch elite (despite the fact that all three party leaders were privately educated themselves!). Certainly the fact that the Tories are ahead in the polls does suggest they are likely to win. However, they’ve been campaigning for the last three months while the rest of the parties haven’t. Now the PM’s brexit deal is coming under scrutiny and, as its an awful deal, both the brextremists and the remainers are finding issues with it (hence why Trump warned it would make a US trade deal difficult). And there’s that report into Russian hacking which the PM is refusing to release (I wonder why!). This could cause the Tories to lose votes to both sides.

And the Tory promises of loads of dosh for everything is starting to be walked back. We’ve gone from 40 new hospitals to a handful that will get refurbished (i.e. a lick of paint)…..maybe. More importantly there is the issue of how does the government propose to pay for all of this. The global economy is slowing, the bond market is becoming increasingly volatile and brexit will inevitably lead to a further slow down in the economy and yet further falls in tax receipts.

Bottom line, either the Tories have to be prepared for another round of austerity, one that would make Osborne look like Santa Claus, or they have to prepared to raise taxes. I think you can guess which of the two they’ll chose to do. Yes some Turkey’s will literally vote for Christmas in a few weeks time, but it doesn’t take that many voters in a few marginal seats to either vote a different way (or just stay at home because its snowing outside) to cost the Tories the election.

It is possible the labour will go up in the polls now the campaign has started. This is after all what happened last time. But remember the issue last time was that Corbyn (or he who must be obeyed as he told his MP’s this week) was up against Teresa May, aka the yellow submarine, who spent the entire campaign either running away from people or being honest about Tory policies (which is kind of like an Asbestos salesman being honest about the health effects of his merchandise). In short labour were faced with an open goal and they still lost. And Boris is seen as a much more capable campaigner than May (by which I mean he’s better at lying to people).

And labour’s opaque brexit position doesn’t help. Their brexit policy is basically to shrug their shoulders and say fu*ked if we know! Its the May/Boris deal (with a few minor tweaks) or no deal or no brexit. And given their unwillingness to either try and force through the deal (with amendments) against the PM’s wishes, the fact that 19 labour MP’s rebelled and supported a deal without punishment (a deal that will gut workers rights) and the fact labour resisted attempts by the lib dems to attach a 2nd referendum, all make it difficult for voters to judge where they stand not just on brexit but anything for that matter.

Foot in mouth disease

In essence we could be seeing a repeat of Micheal Foot and the disastrous labour campaign of 1983 (which saw a landslide victory for the Tories and Maggie Thatcher, setting labour up to lose 3 elections in a row). The only difference is that support for Corbyn is already lower than it was for Micheal Foot at the peak of his unpopularity. He is literally one of the most unpopular politicians in UK history….and labour supporters say they actually want an election! LOL!

Part of the problem here is that Corbyn is playing the long game. He doesn’t want to be PM and is quite happy to lose the election as his goals are both to make sure brexit happens (and a labour victory would prevent that) and to drag labour further to the left. He might not be electable but there are several on the hard left in the party who could be.

The thing is, this was also Micheal Foot’s plan. He was happy to inflict a decade of Thatcher on the UK in return for moving labour more to the left. But of course the opposite happened. In the wake of his defeat Labour drifted further and further to the right until they ended up with Tony Blair (“the best conservative PM in UK history” as one Tory voter once called him with no hint of irony). So the odds are history might well repeat itself.

The position of the brexit party will be critical. If they decide to campaign in certain labour marginals but not Tory marginals, then that benefits the Tories. If they go after every seat (and given that Boris has a reputation for betraying his allies, Farage would be a fool to trust him) that benefits labour. But keep in mind that if the brexit party gets enough support, they might hoover up seats from both parties. And both labour and the Tories are looking at near total wipe out in Scotland (its likely they’ll both be reduced to one seat each….both of whom are held by disloyal rebels as regards their respective party leaders).

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This could lead to a result where there is truly a hung parliament. That is too say, no combination of labour plus pro-remain parties or the Tories plus pro-brexit parties (assuming any of them are stupid enough to go into coalition with Boris) can form a government. So how is this election going to improve things? 

Election 2020?

Hence why I’d argue that this election might be a prelude to a future election in late 2020 or early 2021.

If say the Tories lose enough seats to allow labour, the lib dems and possibly the SNP to go into coalition, its a government that might not last very long. The price the smaller parties will extract for their support is likely to be Corbyn retiring. Now he’s said he was going to step down in the spring. And if labour loses lots of seats he might be pushed out anyway (not that he’ll mind, remember his goal is to make sure someone younger and more electable on the left becomes leader, the election he truly cares about is the next labour leadership election). Meaning someone else in labour becomes PM (with perhaps Corbyn in a brief caretaker role). So this would probably satisfy the other parties into supporting labour on the condition of a 2nd referendum (which would pretty much take up all of his time in office). That they should be able to push through, as well as perhaps some electoral reforms. But that’s about it.

On almost every other issue their will be disagreement. The lib dems aren’t going to support his policy of nationalisation. And while the SNP might do so, they’d likely insist that those assets should be owned by Scotland (and in fairness this would be within the spirit of devolution), something labour could never agree too. Free uni education, scrapping universal credit and ending NHS austerity is something all parties could support, but how to pay for it and the pace of the changes would be the sticking point.

Labour might be happy to spend like a sailor on shore leave but the other parties won’t be. As I’ve mentioned before the SNP have pushed up taxes in Scotland without causing too much fuss, but their experience shows such tax increases need to be sold to the public in advance and introduced gradually. A populist led labour will be in too much of a rush to do this properly. And thus they will lose many votes in parliament (either due to labour rebels or their coalition partners not supporting these policies). And of course if labour has a new leader/PM they’ll probably be keen to have their own mandate (not least because the other obstacle will be the house of lords which will block many of labour’s more extreme policies, even if they can get the lib dems & SNP to support them in the commons). So an early election is very likely, probably in 2020 or 2021 not long after a 2nd referendum.

And if the Tories win the upcoming election, the same is also likely to be true. The problem for Boris is that not only does he have to win an election, he has to win by a large margin while also seeing off the brexit party (he can afford to let them drain votes away from labour and get the odd seat, but not so much that they become a major force in UK politics).

The only thing uniting the Tories right now is fear of Corbyn and some vague commitment to brexit. Once he’s gone away and brexit happens (in some way or form), open warfare within the party will resume. The ERG will want chances to the withdrawal agreement or will try to sabotage the trade negotiations with the EU . The remainers will try to push for a softer brexit. And these factions will turn every vote on every issue into a tit for tat struggle.

For example, as you may know the Tories want to privatise the NHS and sell it to the US healthcare companies. However, I suspect at least some Tories will see the flaw in this plan. The average age of the Tory voter is 57 (and rising) and the US has a lower life expectancy than the UK. Does introducing a healthcare policy that will literally kill off your own voters really sound like a good idea? Inevitably some Tory MP’s will rebel (or sabotaging trade negotiations with the US, by for example doing something that will insult Trump’s ego). And if Boris repeats his mistake of expelling such MP’s he’ll simply piss away his majority very quickly.

And recall that the UK leaving the EU is merely one small step on the road. In fact its the easiest of the steps. The UK will have to start negotiating its future relationship with the EU and then all other states. This will require making some unpopular decisions which will upset some significant number of voters and prompt further rebellions and defections. And all against a backdrop of falling tax revenue, a sluggish economy and Scotland trying to leave again (but this time possibly succeeding). So without a very large majority its likely Boris will struggle to get anything done. Meaning an early election is also a possibility, doubly so if he’s dependant on brexit party support (which they’ll likely withdraw once they reason they can unseat a large enough body of Tories to essentially subvert the Tory party).

The problem for Boris at this point is that Thatcher (and her successor Major) won those elections against labour because the UK economy was doing well (probably down to the globalisation of trade and north sea oil rather than anything Thatcher actually did) and they were both keen on moving the UK closer to Europe (which is the one thing they did which we can definitely say did actually benefit the economy). Boris isn’t going to be so lucky.

He’ll be facing the opposite scenario and quite possibly a new labour leader who is both on the left of the party and electable. Because while I would expect labour to drift further to the right as time goes on, the first iteration will be someone who is still fairly close to Corbyn (just not surrounded by a cabal of brexit party fifth columnists with an axe to grind). The price the Tories could pay for brexit is ending up with a hard left government that proceeds to take revenge on them and their voters for brexit and austerity.

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So while I would encourage people to vote, I’d point out that you might well find you have to vote again in the not too distant future. But we still can’t have a 2nd referendum, because apparently asking people to vote twice on the same issue is undemocratic, yet asking them to vote multiple times in an election until the politicians get the result they want is ok.

Brexit and the game of dolts

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Brexit seems to becoming a byword for foolishness and folly as well as deceit and betrayal. And we need only look at the strategies being pursued by Corbyn and Johnson for proof of that. Both appear to be adopting a policy towards brexit that is reckless and foolhardy. But equally for both leaders, their stated policy is just a charade for what is their real agenda.

Corbyn for example says that he will support a general election as soon as the EU rules out no deal. This despite predictions suggesting he will likely lose a general election. Either by a small margin (but with the Tories losing enough seats to offer labour the chance of a coalition with other parties), or by some massive margin. Naturally this has labour MP’s with small majorities (and even some with big majorities) in jitters.

A more sensible strategy would be to use his defacto majority to take control of parliament (with the aid of Tory rebels and the smaller parties) and start amending and then pushing through Johnson’s withdrawal deal. They could amend the deal to put back in a customs union and protection for workers rights. While it seems unlikely he’d be able to attach a public vote to it (that said, according to the lib dems the main barrier to people’s vote right now is the labour party), but certainly Corbyn could lay the ground work for that.

This would turn things on its head. Labour would go into an election with a clear brexit position – vote for us and we will put this amended deal to the public. Only labour can “get brexit done”. Instead it would be Johnson whose left with a ambiguous position on brexit. Out one side of his mouth he’ll be promising a no deal (maybe tomorrow, maybe at the end of the transition period, but some day and for the rest of your life). Out the other side, oh I want a deal (maybe the amended one, maybe a different one, who knows!)….and presumably out his arse whatever Dominic Cummings reckons will win the most votes!

Instead Corbyn is committing labour to yet more fence sitting contortions, with a brexit policy as clear as Irish stout. And since we are talking about it, he’s not taken any action to punish the 19 MP’s who defied the whip and voted for a brexit deal that would strip UK workers of their rights and allow the wrecking of environmental standards.

This has led to howls of protest from labour supporters who now say that not only do they not know where labour stands on brexit, but where does it stand on anything else for that matter. And can you blame them. On the one hand we have labour promising a carbon neutral UK (if they win an election…and the climate deniers in the party can be made to vote for it one assumes). Yet the same week we have labour MP’s voting for a bill that will roll back environmental protections. Can any part of their manifesto be taken seriously now? Naturally, this is not the sort of scenario where you want to go into an election.

Meanwhile the sensible strategy for Johnson would be to carry on regardless. Given that there seems to be momentum to push the brexit deal through, ride that wave and try to thwart efforts to edit or amend it too much. In other words follow through with his own election slogan to “get brexit done”. Yes that will require a short extension, but so what, it still happens in the near future.

But instead he’s pulled the vote on the deal from parliament and focused on getting an election. In fact he’s even implied that if he doesn’t get his election he’ll just take his toys back to Downing street and sulk, then pretend he’s having one by going out campaigning. This has put the possibility of a brexit extension from the EU in jeopardy. And, as I’ve discussed before, while yes the odds are good that Johnson could win, it would be huge gamble as it could easily backfire (particularly if the opposition promote the line, we were willing to vote through a deal, only reason we didn’t was because of Johnson).

And since we are talking about it, an election at Christmas time, seriously? Are you lot for real? Is Boris related by any chance to the Grinch? Do these clowns have any idea of the logistics involved in holding election at Christmas. At a time of year when people are either going to be busy finishing work before the holidays (students will be up to the eyeballs in coursework and exam preparation) or Christmas shopping you want to have an election. With the risk that weather related events could disrupt the vote, postal ballots will be delayed and every church hall & function room in the country booked for a Christmas related events.

So the positions of both party leaders appears to be foolish. At least until you understand what’s really going on. Johnson knows his brexit deal is bonkers. I mean he’s putting a hard border down the Irish sea, such that British people will have to show a passport and go through customs and immigration controls passing between two parts of the same country. But its a placebo deal designed to serve one purpose, get him an election so he can get a majority. After that he couldn’t give a monkey’s.

To Johnson brexit has always been a means to an end. I won’t be surprised, if he wins a large majority, if he then tosses the ERG lot under the bus (same as he did to the DUP) and pushes for a soft brexit or even revokes article 50. Anything is possible with Johnson, as it depends what the hedge funds managers backing him think will net them the biggest gain. He’s the ultimate disaster capitalist.

Corbyn meanwhile doesn’t want to lay the ground work for a public vote because then he’d have to hold one. And he knows full well the likely outcome would be remain. The reality is that Corbyn is a more committed brexiter than either Johnson or the ERG. He’s basically playing the long game. Corbyn knows he’s unelectable, nor is it likely any hard left labour leader could ever be elected under normal circumstances. But a damaging no deal brexit, brought about by the Tories would allow a future hard left leader (and there’s a number of viable candidates within labour) to do just that. Its not so much disaster capitalism but disaster socialism.

But either way, brexit has become a political football. A game to be played for political advantage. And the politicians are placing the pursuit of this game over the best interests of the country. And neither of them shows the slightest inclination towards actually resolving the brexit question. I mean who’d want to go and do a silly thing like that!

Three borders Boris & the post brexit backlash

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So after several months of Johnson & the DUP saying no, no, never to any form of hard border on the island of Ireland (something he reaffirmed just 24 hrs before), now he’s proposing to put in place two borders (or arguably three borders as there will need to be immigration checks at the Ferry ports). And rather than a backstop (which recall was a British idea, not the EU’s) he’s managed to come up with something worse.

To say its unworkable is something of an understatement. Are we seriously to believe that a farmer, whose farm straddles the border (a not uncommon thing), and wants to move a cow from one side of the border to the other has to drive 10 km’s into NI, clear customs, drive 20 km’s back and into Ireland, then 10 km’s back to the farm. And without border checks what’s to stop a truck that’s been cleared through customs simply stopping in a lay-by, loading up with contraband and then driving through (then off load again onto another truck once across). And in the unlikely event of getting caught (the police have made clear there is no way they could hope to search even a fraction of the vehicle traffic), the driver just claims he’s moving a load to Donegal.

And the best bit, the backstop is replaced by the Stormont lock. The economic fate of the EU, UK and Ireland would hinge on the competence of one of the most incompetent and corrupt legislative bodies in Europe. Stormont hasn’t met for two years, officially because of silly dispute over the Irish language. However in reality, the DUP are fearful that Sinn Fein will be able to get enough support from the neutral parties to form a government and take power. They’d then likely use the aftermath of brexit to force through a border poll. And that’s not idle paranoia, SF entire reason for existing is a united Ireland.

So its entirely likely SF would use the Stormont lock as a wedge to force a border poll if given half a chance (while the DUP will use it to frustrate them and seek further bribes from Westminster). Neither party will even remotely care about the economic damage their actions cause. After all if why do you think the GDP for NI is so much lower than it is in the rest of the UK (NI’s GDP is only 23,000 v’s about 42,000 for the whole of the UK and 77,000 for the republic). And any kind of hard border will make NI even poorer, which will eventually just lead to the resumption of terrorist attacks.

Clearly the primary purpose of this proposal is so that Johnson’s tabloid allies can sell it as a compromise. One that will only fail because of the EU, remainers and traitorous judges & civil servants. As I said in my last post, Johnson has suspended parliament (you know like Hitler did!) and is now trying to find a way to suspend laws he doesn’t like, notably the Benn act. Clearly his electoral plan is to blame the EU for no deal/no brexit, while dialing the lying and anti-Corbyn rhetoric up to eleven.

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A delivery of vintage champagne to the Tory conference. And the Tory pitch is you should vote for them because the other parties represent an out of touch elite!

Such irresponsible behaviour, just so that he can cling to power has to be some of the worse behaviour we’ve ever seen from a UK government, which is setting a very dangerous precedence. The many miscalculations that are going on here is staggering, and the consequences are likely to be severe. They’ve even been sample testing George Soros conspiracy theories (ya and labour are the ones labelled as anti-Semitic, go figure!).

I mean we were told that we need to get out of the EU because of all the money it costs, yet we now have a government promising to spend tens of billions just dealing with the fallout of a no deal. And this is merely one of a long list of spending commitments, with no clue as to where the money is supposed to come from (and labour have pointed out some are actually prior spending commitments which have run over budget (due to inflation from the falling pound & Tory incompetence) and need more money!).

And Johnson’s plan (his real one, not this silly proposal to the EU) only works if he can force through an early election (before the negative consequences of brexit become obvious). Now if the opposition has any sense they’ll not allow that, forcing Boris to stay on and deal with the consequences of a no deal with a minority government and lose vote after vote for two years….then again, Corbyn might just be dumb enough to allow an early election. Even so while yes the Tories are well ahead in the polls, that doesn’t mean they’ll win. They are effectively sacrificing pro-remain seats in cities and Scotland, in favour of leave voting seats in the North and industrial towns.

However, that would require getting the voters in those districts to vote Tory…which many won’t do (these are the people Thatcher screwed over, many hate the Tories, in fact they voted leave as a two fingered salute against the Tories). So the strategy is more about getting them to vote for the brexit party, who would steal enough support off labour to allow the Tories to win those seats. But its a strategy that could easily fall apart.

If theirpeople v’s parliament campaign works too well, then the brexit party takes those seats (potentially becoming too big for the Tories to control, or even overtaking them). And if the lib dems withdraw their candidates (perhaps doing a last minute deal with labour), labour might still hang onto them. And given that the Tories now need to make up a 40 seat deficit (and they’ll likely lose a further 20-40 more to the lib dems & SNP), there’s every chance Boris could find himself well short of a majority, even if he wins the popular vote by a comfortable margin (as I’ve pointed out before, its possible under FptP for a party to win the popular vote, but finish 2nd in terms of seats).

And while the Tories might be planning to promise high spending and then air brush those promises from history (as they’ve tried to do before), I’m not sure the public will be happy about that when they discover they’ve basically been conned. Yes politicians do lie, but never before have voters been scammed on this scale. Consider for example Boris seems to be quietly accepting that post-brexit immigration pledges can’t be met. Likely because he knows that the likes of India and China will make the relaxation of immigration controls a condition of any trade deal.

Ultimately the problem here is that the Tory party no longer has any sort of ideology (they have literally lost the plot), other than sadopopulist rhetoric and self inflicted suffering, which they will blame on others. Much like the US Republican party they now exist for no real purpose other than to stop anyone else changing things for the better. While pursuing policies that they know will leave the very people who vote for them worse off….and of course lining their own pockets. And Johnson’s close links to hedge funds betting on a no deal outcome means the Tories already make the GOP look like amateur hour in this regard.

But like I said, the consequences to for the UK of these games the Tories are playing is going to be dire. And a hard brexit is just the start. Have the Tories paused to consider the sort of bus that a future left wing populist leader could drive through the UK legal system if they were to behave like the Tories.

Brexit has radicalised the left in the UK. Hence we have policies coming out of labour calling for private schools to be scrapped and their assets ceased. Granted, at the moment this is just a lunatic fringe on the edges of the labour party (and labour lack the votes to form a majority government). But a no deal brexit and another 5 years of Tory rule could well mean that such a fringe will be the ones in charge (keep in mind Corbyn will be gone, someone more electable will be leader and they might also be from the radical left wing of the labour party).

Because such radicals won’t be interested in simply reversing Tory policies any more. Instead the goal will be more about get revenge on Tory’s and brexit voters. This after all is where Italy’s 5star movement came from. Its how the Bolivarians in Venezuela got started and why they are still in power despite the fact the country’s economy has effectively collapsed (as some in the Venezuela take the view, well I have it bad, but at least the wealthy and the elites have finally gotten their comeuppance). So it is a serious risk.

Because it means that a future hard left PM post-brexit won’t be banning public schools. He or she will simply encourage their supporters to burn them to the ground. No need to nationalise the railway’s or energy companies, simply tell their supporters to dodge their fare and not pay their bills. And ya the courts will give him a rebuke for that, but much as Boris isn’t going to jail for an unlawful suspension of parliament, neither will this future PM.

And if you can simply suspend laws due to a crisis (as seems to be Johnson’s plan, to whip up riots and then suspend the Benn act), that applies to the left as well (e.g. they use riots and burning of public schools as an excuse to suspend certain laws, cease the assets of the wealthy or abolish the old age pension in order to punish the older generation for brexit). What goes around comes around.

And in the US as well, Trump has essentially radicalised the left. And again, while at the moment that likely means Warren winning the nomination (possibly Biden if the GOP get lucky), I suspect after a Trump 2nd term the left’s candidate might be a little more radical (so if you think either of them are a bit too left wing, buckle up!). And again this radicalised left will be more interested in screwing Trump voters than fixing America.

They could for example use the same emergency powers Trump has used to ban guns, or enact the green new deal, or stack the supreme court with a dozen millennial liberals (then change the law so congress no longer has any say in appointing future justices). They could go line by line through the US budget and cut anything that benefits Republican voting states. And given that many red states are massive welfare queens, while democrat states often send more money to DC than they spent, this would basically bankrupt many red states, while allowing blue states to take a tax cut, or spend more on public services.

And recall there is one nuclear option that a future sadopopulist left wing government could implement relatively easily, that would utterly screw over the older generations to the benefit millennial’s. Make no effort to defend the value of the pound or the dollar and run the magic printing press and start spending like a sailor on shore leave. But wouldn’t that cause hyper inflation? Ya, that would kind of be the point! You’d quickly wipe out the debts of many young millennial’s while simultaneously wiping out the value of pensioners savings and the assets of the wealthy.

Now to be clear, I’m not necessarily advocating these policies. The last one for example, many governments have tried to use high inflation to wipe out debts and its often run out of their control (just look at Argentina some time!). I’m simply pointing out what will happen if the left starts action like trump supporters or brexiters. Really the best case scenario for both groups is for their respective leaders to be impeached and removed from office and given a lengthy prison sentence. As otherwise I won’t want to be a wealthy conservative (or a pensioner) in about 5 years time.

And while I understand why many want to vote Tory in order to “get brexit done, but as I’ve pointed out before a no deal doesn’t end brexit (brexit is a process not a destination), it simply lengthens the process and makes sure the UK will be over a barrel (once we’ve run out of bog roll, food, fuel and medicines) when it comes to negotiating a future relationship with the EU, USA and other major trading partners (as recent US tariff’s against the UK demonstrate). In truth if you want to wipe brexit from the political agenda, then really the lib dem plan to revoke article 50 is the only thing that would do that.

Pre-election analysis – the UK’s Trump v’s the rebel alliance

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So its possible we’ll have an early election, thought probably not as early as Boris Johnson wants. He seems to be hoping that by bringing a bit of Trump like behaviour to the UK he can get a majority, allowing him to force through the sort of brexit he prefers…..which might not necessarily be a no deal mind (if he’s got enough seats then he doesn’t need the DUP or the hard brexiters anymore, he could toss both under the bus and put forward May’s deal again, or the EU’s original proposal of leaving NI in the single market, negating the need for any backstop).

The odds are certainly in his favour, he’s 10% ahead in the polls and such tactics have certainly worked in the past, but its not that straight forward. In fact its a very risky gamble. As I pointed out before, such is the unfairness of the FPTP system its mathematically possible for the Tories to win a majority of seats with only 30% of the vote. However, its also mathematically possible for them to finish 10% ahead of anyone else and yet still not get a majority.

Certainly yes, Boris Johnson is good at one thing and it’s lying. He could sell a clapped out VW Bettle by claiming its actually a classic Porsche…which is pretty much a good description of his likely election strategy! However, the Tories have been trying to out UKIP, UKIP for the last two decades and failed every time. Farage, assuming he fields candidates (and given my point above he’d be very naive not to do so) lives in a glass house and can hurl rocks Boris can’t, while promising bigger and better unicorns. To return to my analogy about the used car, he’s going to be across the street at the election selling an actual Porcsche….which he doesn’t actually own…as he’ll basically be pulling the old pig in a poke scam.

So some significant number of voters will defect to the brexit party or UKIP (so even if the brexit party don’t stand, he’ll still lose some votes). And, as perhaps his recent walkabout should have highlighted, there are some UK voters who fundamentally won’t vote Tory. Even among some leave voters this would be unthinkable (in fact some voted leave to give Cameron & the Tories the two fingered salute). Go into the wrong bar in Glasgow, Leeds or Liverpool, tell them you are a Tory and you’ll hear a click behind you as they lock the doors, cos you ain’t leaving the place alive! Now whether this block of voters is 5% or 25% I do not know. But if I were Johnson I’d rather not find out the hard way!

At the other extreme his Stalinistic purges of moderate opponents is causing many to quit the party. Johnson seems to be confusing Tory members (who are pretty gung ho for no deal yes) with Tory voters (who are a completely different kettle of fish). Ruth Davidson’s quitting alone puts nearly all of the Scottish Tory seats in doubt. His own brother now quitting is also crucial, as he was one of the few moderate Tories left in a cabinet post.

And this business of sacking 21 further MP’s for doing something Johnson regularly did himself (including the father of the house Ken Clarke along with Winston Churchill’s grandson!) is going to have quite an impact. There is nothing to stop any of these MP’s (or other previous Tory defectors), from running again as independent Tory candidates. Or they might simply throwing their weight behind some pro-remain candidate in their constituency. Some Johnson crony parachuted in at the last minute is going to have a bit of an uphill struggle getting elected.

And losing votes from both ends is exactly the sort of scenario where the Tories could lose many of the marginal seats, meaning that they win the battle but lose the war (i.e. top the polls but finish well short of a majority). To make matters worse the election isn’t just going to be solely about brexit. Johnson and his puppet master adviser Wormtongue Cummings know this, so they’ve been trying to out Corbyn Corbyn, with lavish promises of money from heaven. Of course given that a hard brexit will depress the economy and pull down tax revenue, its hard to see how he’ll be able to afford current spending, never mind the sort he’s planning.

But while Boris is promising a few million here, a few there, Corbyn’s promising billions. And Corbyn can claim he has a plan to finance this, he’ll go for a softer brexit (or more likely none at all once his party and coalition partners have their say) and put up taxes for the rich. Now granted there’s a few holes in his proposals (which I’ve discussed before), but the Tories can’t get away with using the magic money tree jibe (not that they won’t try of course!), because they need a forest of them after brexit. So its not certain this tactic will work. It could leave them open to attack by lending more credibility to Corbyn’s proposals. And my guess is the public will find Corbyn’s proposals more appealing.

That said, certainly the Tories main election asset is Corbyn. Poll after poll shows that the public don’t like him, he’s not seen as a PM in waiting. And no I’m not a secret Tory or a lib dem (I usually vote either Green, SNP or labour). I’m simply reflecting the opinion of him you’d hear expressed in any working class pub, food bank or greasy spoon cafe. And these are the sort of people who generally vote labour. In Tory circles he’s the spawn of Satan. If there’s one thing that would cause moderate Tories and centre ground voters (who hate Johnson and don’t want a no deal), to lose their nerve and vote Tory anyway, its the thought of a Corbyn premiership.

And Corbyn’s policy of different forms of fence sitting on brexit (while thwarting efforts to block it) is going to be a major problem in any snap election. His official policy is to have an election, win it, negotiate a new deal with Brussels and put that to a people’s vote. The reality is that, while there will be differences between a Corbyn brexit and a May brexit no doubt (as he’ll go for a customs union, which negates the need for a backstop), the differences aren’t huge. Parliament is as likely to vote against such a deal as it was to vote against May’s deal. And a people’s vote will almost certainly result in remain winning by a large margin (meaning Corbyn then has to resign becoming the 4th PM brought down by brexit). And this assumes his party, who are overwhelmingly pro-remain, and his likely coalition partners (even more pro-remain) are going to be okay with putting his progressive agenda and all other business on the back burner for several years so he can sort out brexit.

The obvious hypocrisies of this policy will be exposed and his position will fall apart within the first week of any campaign, leading him to lose votes in all directions. The Tories and brexit party will say he’s pro-remain, the lib dems that he’s pro-leave. And how can we trust a leader whose still not made up his mind about something this important after 3 years? In which case, labour will haemorrhage seats to all its rivals and that could easily tip the scales Johnson’s direction.

The obvious solution therefore would be for labour to go full on pro-remain, forming an electoral alliance with the lib dems, greens and SNP. That would maximise his gains and minimise his losses. The trouble is that Corbyn lives in a bubble and doesn’t understand any of this. And he has a halo around him (as this piece perhaps shows), which stops his supporters seeing the blindingly obvious. If you’ve wandered onto any momentum blog or twitter feed recently they are wall to wall wailing against the lib dems. You’d swear a no deal brexit, austerity and privatising the NHS was their idea rather than the Tories.

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What remainers need……

And recall Corbyn has his own set of defectors, such as the Jewish MP who quit over anti-Semitism some time ago, who recently joined the lib dems. And he plans to field candidates against them next election, even thought they’ve little chance of getting elected….although they might help a Tory get elected in the process! In short, I get the impression that Corbyn and his red shirts are going to turn the next election into the Judean people’s front v’s the people’s front of Judea, with him and momentum playing the role of the crack suicide squad, with the Romans Tories looking on with bemusement.

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…..but what they might actually get

For the price of the inevitable defeat that will follow such a strategy is going to be high for labour supporters. Johnson gets in with a large majority and implements a hard right agenda that makes Corbyn’s hard left policies impossible to ever implement (as everything in the country including the NHS and public services will now be owned by US multinationals, plus they’ll bring in US style voter ID laws that make it difficult for young people or the poor to even vote). A big block of voters will leave the party in disgust and likely never come back (some polls have shown labour slipping to 4th place behind the lib dems and brexit party). He’ll have to resign, the Blairites will take over and his failure will be pointed to for decades as “proof” that such left wing policies are a route to electoral disaster (which I’d argue will be unfair, the problem is that Corbyn is just a crap leader, not necessarily his policies).

So it is all up in the air. Yes Johnson may succeed in turning the Tories into the US republican party under Trump. He might sell a plan to make the UK great again, which turns out to be a plan to turn the country into the 51st state and a somewhat poor and bankrupt one at that! Or he might find the electorate recoil in horror at such a thought and he’s simply given Corbyn the opportunity to sneak into power as head of a remainer rebel alliance. Delaying the election does on paper decrease the probability of the Tories winning, but it certainly doesn’t rule it out. There’s everything to play for, but do the players really want to play?

News roundup

Unfit for office…or opposition!

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I would argue that that there are two problems with British politics right now. Firstly a radicalised Tory party, whose broken every one of their pro-brexit promises, that seems to be committed to some sort of pointless and unconstitutional brexiter banzai charge. Which they will of course blame the EU for (as well as migrants and anyone who voted remain). But part of the problem is also a lack of effective opposition.

Labour have been facing the biggest open goal in politics for 3 years now, but have actually gone backwards in terms of support. And this is largely why we’ve gotten to this stage where no deal could be seriously considered. If labour were providing effective opposition, going up in the polls and largely seen as a government in waiting, there is no way the cabinet and Johnson’s ghoulish minions would even be considering no deal.

Case in point, given that an election after a vote of no confidence isn’t guaranteed to work, as there might not be time remaining to hold one (or time afterwards to form a government and do something). And that’s assuming labour’s poor poll ratings don’t see them get annihilated. So the sensible solution proposed by a number of pro-remain MP’s is a government of national unity to sort out brexit one way or another (revoke article 50 or a 2nd referendum) then dissolve itself and call an election.

This government would be led by an interim PM, likely a veteran politician with some prior ministerial experience (this would reassure allies and businesses that there was a safe pair of hands at the helm who wasn’t going to do anything crazy). Such a unity government would have a very narrow mandate beyond brexit. All they can do is slap a few band-aids on public services to undo the damage the Tories have done. Anything more radical (re-nationalising the railways, major tax or welfare reform, etc.) won’t be possible as they’ve have no electoral mandate, no guaranteed support in parliament, insufficient parliamentary time and the lords would just block it anyway. So it would be something of a thankless task. Likely candidates for this role include Dominc Grieve, Anne Soubry, Vince Cable or Tom Watson.

But no, instead Corbyn is insisting that he’ll be PM (why? ego one assumes). Indeed he’s implied that labour won’t even negotiate with the other parties, but try to force through a minority government. His deputy McDonnell even suggested (and I’m hoping he was joking) that Corbyn would go to the palace and demand to be made PM if they win a no confidence vote (so basically he’s going to launch a one man coup d’etat…presumably armed with a cucumber from his allotment). It would be funny if it wasn’t so serious.

Basically this means one of two things. That Corbyn and his cabal really are so deluded that they think that they can just walk in and take over the government, wave a magic wand and put everything right in the world….while ignoring completely the impending crisis of brexit and its aftermath. Honestly Trump seems to have a better grasp of politics than Corbyn et al. And they are ignoring polling which suggests they will at best lose dozens of seats, or worse, potentially finish 4th behind the lib dems and brexit party. The last thing he wants now is an election.

The alternative theory is that Corbyn is really so desperately anti-EU that he’s willing to put the country through a no deal brexit shredder and scupper his chances of ever becoming PM to achieve it. If he sabotages any effort to form such a unity government then a no deal brexit will have his grubby paw prints all over it. And you can be guaranteed this will be pointed out to voters next election.

And in another facepalm moment, McDonnell also suggested that labour won’t block a 2nd indy ref in Scotland. While this is a sensible strategy, it was a grave error last time for labour to whip its members and MP’s into backing remain, but its the sort of position that needs to be rolled out tactfully. You’d only want to adopt it once it was clear a referendum was imminent and use it as a bargaining chip to make sure the SNP behave themselves (i.e. they don’t go the full Cambridge Analytica).

Inevitably the right wing media reported it as labour is in favour of Scottish independence (no they aren’t that’s not what he said). And because he’d not cleared this with the Scottish labour party leadership first, it got a very angry reaction from the Scottish wing of the party.

All in all it shows us that Corbyn’s cabinet is as dysfunctional, factional and chaotic as the one in the white house. He’s completely delusional, has no clue what he’s doing and seems to have no real goal other than making sure brexit happens at all costs, even if it destroys his party to achieve it.

Dragging the queen into brexit

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In another example of how utterly dysfunctional both the main parties have become, there’s the fact that both seem determined to drag the queen into the debate about brexit. Either by getting her to intervene in the selection of who is PM, the date of any election (till after brexit happens) or by asking her to suspend parliament (i.e. suspend democracy) and force through a no deal. This is politically very dangerous. The queen, like any head of state (America being the exception) is supposed to stay out of politics (and this I’d argue is the flaw in the American system). As it can get very messy very quickly if she does get involved.

For example, let’s suppose she backs Boris and a no deal brexit. That is going to upend the lives of millions of people. Families will be split up, millions of jobs will be lost, the UK’s GDP will go down but 6-10%, there might be food and medicine shortages (we might even run out of bog roll!). And any issues with the NHS or medicines means people will die. And all of that the Queen will now be responsible for, with it all played out on the 24 hr news cycle.

So the royals will now have millions of angry voters who’d be wanting a referendum alright. But not on re-joining the EU, but on whether to packing her off back to Saxony. We’d be in the same situation the royals were in after Princess Diana died. And the only got through that thanks to Tony Blair. Boris by contrast will quickly toss her under the first passing bus to save his skin. And Corbyn has co-signed bills looking to remove the queen. And such a train wreck could re-invigorate the republican movements in Canada, Australia and NZ, who might also have similar votes.

So the trouble is that once she makes one decision she’s going to have to make more. This is exactly the sequence of events that led to past royal dynasty’s failing or kings loosing their heads (recall it was proroguing parliament where Charles I troubles started).

So for example, what if Scotland wants independence? Let’s suppose she backs Boris and blocks an official referendum. The danger is that if SNP can demonstrate enough support in an unofficial poll, then they can force their way out of the union by just making themselves such an pain in the ass that the rest of the UK throws them out (e.g. they could ask Scots to refuse to pay UK income taxes, refuse to hand over oil or VAT revenue, run up massive debts on the UK’s credit card then refuse to service those debts, organise wild cat strikes which lead to power cuts and gas shortages in England in the middle of winter, etc.).

All the queen will have done is ensure that Scotland becomes a republic (as Ireland and India did) and it increases the chances of a disorderly Scottish exit. Or worse, the Scots might take a leaf out of Norway’s book and invite some member of the royal family to take the crown of Scotland. Meaning there would be two British monarchs and allies (such as Canada, Australia and NZ) will have to decide who to back. The one whose kingdom is let by racists and disintegrating largely due to actions taken by her (and her heir apparent is Charles remember). Or some dashing new Scottish king (Harry and Megan maybe?), whose kingdom sits on lots of oil, has whisky galore and is applying for EU membership.

The sensible thing for her to do in such a situation would be to either respect the poll but ask the SNP to negotiate an orderly exit (which would be a bit rich given how she supported no deal with the EU), or ask for a 2nd official poll (after she helped Boris block a 2nd EU referendum) or call for some sort of compromise (Devo Max). Of course while this would preserve her crown, it would put her on a collision course with the PM and the cabinet.

Or how about a UK-US trade deal? If that goes through after brexit, farming and manufacturing will be devastated, the NHS sold off and we’ll be eating chlorinated chicken (meaning more people die). So she might have to get involved in that or block it entirely. Putting her on collision course with the government. And the same equally applies if she backs remain. She ends up with lots of angry people beating down her door.

My point is that both Corbyn and the Tories seem to think the queen is some sort of jack in the box. They can take her out of the box, get her to sign a national death warrant and they climb back in her box and stay there. But of course, she can’t. Its impossible to predict what way she’d go (and my advice to her would be, stick to protocol, throw it back at parliament and if they can’t decide, put to some sort of public vote). And once she gets involved in politics its very difficult to untangle her from it.

The channel hop

A French man recently demonstrated a flying platform (basically an enlarged drone) and flew it over the English channel. As Trevor Noah pointed out, you can imagine the reaction of brexiters, they got brexit to keep out the foreigners and next thing you know some flying Frenchman lands on the white cliffs and starts chasing after their daughters.

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A flying foreigner, every brexiter’s worst nightmare

But jokes aside, and while this flying platform does have certain limitations, it does show how quickly technology can change. And how that change has many consequences. For example, we can make multiple criticisms of Trump’s wall and the ease with which it can be breached. But its one fatal flaw is it can’t stop planes and aircraft. Yes, you have some chance of stopping illegal migrants at airports….assuming they are dumb enough to tell you they are entering on a tourist visa with no intention of leaving.

Now we’ve gotten to the stage where drones can carry people, that opens up all sorts of possibilities. Notably of Mexican people smugglers at the border offering migrants an air taxi service into the US. Such a drone could carry people several km’s into the US (i.e beyond the zone currently patrolled by border agents), drop them off and then flying back and pick up somebody else. This would negate the wall completely.

This is one of the problems with conservative governments, their inability to see future trends and changes in technology. Hence why they tend to get blind sided by them and their knee jerk reaction is to try and get it banned.

Case in point, when mp3’s and online file sharing first came out the entertainment industry tried to get them banned. They poured millions into anti-piracy ads that were often parodies of themselves. How can we make money off a service that we just give away for free they said?…to which Google, Facebook and You-tube responded, hold our beer….Now streaming is a massive multi billion dollar industry and the main means of distributing media.

The oil industry and its vested interests, promote climate change deniers, even despite the fact that the oil industry is losing money hand over fist, with 50% drop in oil stocks over the last few years, while renewables are a growing industry. The brexiters want to bring back Britain’s trading empire, ignoring how globalised trade in the 21st century works. They also want a 3rd runway and a new terminal at Heathrow, which will involve demolishing several nearby historic villages and subjecting London to more noise pollution. This despite the fact that airlines are ditching their large planes and abandoning the hub and spoke model in favour of smaller planes and more direct flights, largely due to the availability of newer more fuel efficient aircraft (such as the Airbus A350).

This to me just serves to demonstrate the fatal flaw in conservatism. You’ll get a lot of kicking and screaming. They’ll tell you that television, flying, rock and roll music, gay marriage, abortion, gun control or acting on climate change will be a slippery slope to the end times. Yet in the end they are forced by circumstances to adopt it anyway, upon which they’ll conveniently forget their opposition and move on to the next artificial controversy.

UK College goes bust

The UK government has spent quite a bit of time recently promoting private colleges and universities as it attempts to emulate America’s heavily commercialised higher education system. I’ve long opposed this because I know how ridiculously unfair the US system is. It means large sections of the population simply can’t go to uni as they can’t afford it. And even those with better off parents often still leave uni with massive debts that cripple their finances for life.

Of course the other problem with the US model is the frequency at which their universities go bust. Something that’s practically unheard of in Europe. And such bankruptcies have very real and serious consequences, as this news piece on one such failure discusses. Not just to students, but to local businesses and employment. There are some small towns or neighbourhoods in the UK whose economy would implode if the local uni shut down.

And inevitably one of these new colleges, GSM London has now failed. Fortunately, it doesn’t look too bad…suspect any students or staff caught up in this will have a different view on that! But I’m talking about the wider impact. Its in London, so the impact will be dampened somewhat. Hopefully they can all find alternative employers or courses to enrol on. However, it is a worrying sign of the times.

While the UK government has shown a willingness to quietly bailout uni’s in trouble. Much as I predicted, that’s not always possible. They might be in such a state to be beyond saving. Or the creditors, anxious to get their greedy paws on the valuable city centre real estate the uni owns might refuse any bailout and force through a bankruptcy.

And its also worth keeping in mind that government’s plans are to cut tuition fees. Which would be a good idea. Only they aren’t planning to provide any additional funding to universities (so they are expecting that they can just cut their funding by 30%, on top of the drop off in student numbers from the EU and loss of research funding and expect the uni’s to cope). Naturally its been pointed out that this would be disastrous and almost certainly push many universities over the edge. So we might not be so lucky next time.

A most convenient death

Word is that the alleged sex trafficker to the rich and famous, Jeffrey Esptein, has apparently killed himself in his NY cell. Now call me a tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy theorist, but when someone that well connected (Trump, Clinton, Prince Andrew, you name it) magically happens to die, just days before he can be put on trial and such connections were due to be subjected to legal scrutiny (which could have involved said individuals being required to testify in court under oath), well its a little bit suspicious.

Which probably explains why his victims are arguing for the investigations to continue. Perhaps even try him posthumously. And there is a legal precedence for this. But of course, fat chance of that happening! I mean why do you think they killed him/let him commit suicide for in the first place? So they can brush the whole thing under the carpet of course.

Loosing sleep

The Caledonian sleeper is (or perhaps I should say was) one of those hidden gems of UK transport. Its a train service running from London to the highlands of Scotland, with stops in the central belt (and Northern England) along the way. So you can literally go to sleep in London after a night on the town, wake up in Fort William the next morning, grab some breakfast and be on the summit of Ben Nevis before lunchtime.

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The Caledonian sleeper works its way across Rannoch Moor in winter

However, the rail companies have long hated it, as it means keeping lines open at late hours, screwing up their maintenance schedules. So they’d like noting better than to cancel it. Unfortunately, as its quite popular, plus its also used by MP’s to travel between their constituencies and London, any talk of cancelling it has been thwarted. So instead they tried to let it whither by not investing in it or just making the service poorer. For example, you used to be able to book half board and share a cabin with somebody else, but they’ve tried to did away with that due to “customer demand” (we are too believe there are customers out there who prefer to pay double for their tickets!).

Well now it seems they’ve figured out a solution. Invest money in the sleeper service. Because nothing in British transport will royally screw something up and make things worse than investing millions of pounds in it. Since this £150 million revamp the service has been dogged by complaints of late or cancelled trains (keep in mind, you are showing up to the station at 23:00, you can’t just wait for the next service, that’s not till the following morning!). Others complain about poor catering, lights being left on all night (which can’t be turned off) and noisy air conditioning.

So it seems like the rail companies will finally get their wish and do away with the sleepers…by trying to make them better! To them their own incompetence is now an asset.

Populists, corruption and disaster capitalism

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If I was to tell you about a newly installed government, whose minsters and party donors were making millions betting against their own country via offshore firms, who openly earn large sums in kickbacks for a few hours of supposed work (e.g. after dinner speaking fees, “consultancy fees”, etc.), a government that was now using a crisis to give out sweatheart deals to its cronies, you’d probably assume I’m talking about some tin pot dictatorship in the developing world. But no, I’m talking about the UK under Boris, which has got to count as the most corrupt in the country’s history. But its actually the new normal (you think this is bad, wait till they are in coalition with Farage!).

Recently Channel 4’s dispatches did a piece on “brexit millionaires and how many in the Tory party, or their donors, were cashing in on brexit and making millions. Front and centre was Jacob Rees-Mogg, aka the right honourable member for the 18th century, the new minister for silly walks leader of the house of commons. In between being a grammar nazi (he’s set a whole bunch of grammar rules for civil servants, rules he has himself broken 700 times), he has been profiting from brexit. His offshore investment firms have racked in millions since brexit started. With him personally profiting to the tune of at least +£7 million. So much so he can afford to buy a a multi-million town house in London (to go with his country estate) and pay for it in cash. This is corruption, pure and simple.

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Rees Mogg’s little country cottage

And he is by no means alone. Boris is going for a no deal brexit, not because its what people voted for (he and his ministers have been challenged to provide an example of when in the referendum they suggested the UK might have to leave without a deal, we’ve yet to get an answer). In fact polls show the public would rather just cancel brexit all together than except no deal. Even Teresa May is warning no deal threatens the union (pity she didn’t say that while in office!). But the cabinet backs it because they know its the best way for them and their mates to make a quick buck. Food and medicine shortages! millions loosing their jobs! civil war in NI! Scottish independence! how is any of that their problem?

In fact here’s a good one, from a young Tory whose whinging that Boris can’t ignore him and implement no deal against the wishes of parliament and the country. LOL, the naivety of youth. He can, he is and he will. If you have a problem with that you shouldn’t have voted Tory.

And in other countries we are seeing similar trends. Trump hasn’t drained the swamp, he’s made it deeper and released alligators. In Italy, the horseshoe government of populists are now literally surrounded by steaming piles of garbage as the cities public services have collapsed. And corruption is as bad as ever (if not worse), so much so some are thinking of voting for Berlusconi. And if that sounds unlikely, well consider that in Greece, the populists there made such a pigs breakfast of things that the very party who got the country into a massive mess in the first place have just been voted back in.

Rome is now in such a mess, tourists are been giving advice about the risks to their health while visiting

Many people voted for populists because they were appalled at self serving politicians divorced from reality. But, perhaps unsurprisingly, voting for even more corrupt and incompetent populists has just made the situation worse. The very same elites these voters hate, just took to bribing and manipulating the populists. And guess what, they are even dumber than the regular politicians and cheaper too! In fact they’ll do things the regular politicians won’t dream of doing (because the latter are prone to rare moments of clarity where they actually giving a shit).

Angry desperate voters, voted for the most extreme option on the ballot paper thought they were sending a message. But the message that arrived in elites HQ was that these voters are even more naive and stupid than we thought, so let’s take full advantage of them (I mean they could have voted for some established third party candidates, or others who can’t be bought, then we’d be really screwed, but instead they vote for some complete idiot whose in our pocket). The elites can basically do whatever they want now, just so long as their boy remembers to make the odd racist dog whistle and some vague promises that they’ll never have to keep.

The fact is that populists leaders know that they aren’t held to the same standards as other politicians. It used to be a politician made the slightest gaffe, that was it, game over. Remember how Ed Miliband lost because of one photo of him looking awkward for a second eating a bacon roll, or the whole plebgate business. It used to be a politician said something to the media that was inaccurate, or broke the ministerial code and they’d be gone within a week (a good example, Brian Lenihan and the 1990’s Irish presidential election, he went from odds on favourite to being sacked and losing by a landslide over one phone call he made back in 1982).

Now they can get caught in a lie live on air and nobody bats an eyelid, because its one in a string of so many lies nobody can keep up (well unless you are a member of the labour party of course….or black….or worse both). Its understood that voters will ignore this, they are voting based on anger and tribal loyalties, not facts and policy. So long as said leader stays on message and keeps them angry (i.e. they have absolutely no good incentive to help these voters in any way, because then they might calm down and start acting sensibly) he can get away with anything.

Consider for example how both the Tories and the GOP have abandoned their long term commitment to balanced budgets. Both came to power talking about the dangers of deficit spending and how they would be pro-business. Now the policy is bollix to that and fuck business. Like Trump, Johnson seems to be planning to spend like a sailor on shore leave. But not on hospitals, schools or helping the poor (Tory policy here has been branded by the UN as ‘mean-spirited and callous), but instead on no deal preparation, tax cuts for the rich and big infrastructure projects than can be farmed out to Tory donors.

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The Tories new motto

I mean seriously, why do you think Boris gets paid over a £150,000 to show up and give an after dinner speech? You think they like the sound of his voice that much? No its a bribe and now they’re going to cash in. And its hardly as if any of this should be a surprise, given his past performance as London mayor and foreign secretary.

Of course the fact these policies, combined with the economic impact of a no deal brexit (or Trump’s tariffs), will make a mess of the economy and wreck the public finances doesn’t matter to them. They’ll get rich, who cares. In fact they’d even see a silver lining to that. They can use such a crisis to sell off state assets (such as the NHS) to themselves and their allies and dismantle the welfare state.

Its a strategy the rich have been applying in developing world countries for decades. They’d take advantage of the country’s naive or incompetent populists/autocratic government, to swoop in and wreck the economy on purpose, knowing they and their allies (juiced in local elites) would be able to take advantage of the chaos. Now they’re just doing the same in western countries (what goes around comes around I suppose).

And furthermore, even if some leftie such as Corbyn or Bernie ever gets into power, so what! They’ll not be able to afford to implement any of their policies or even reverse the mess the current government is making. In fact, the conservatives can just blame them for everything (as they did with Obama). What’s that? the lefties might putting up taxes? So what! let em! all their money is offshore….course if the UK was only part of some big pan-European club which was determined to do something about such tax avoidance …just a thought!

Summer news roundup

Unfit for office

One of the main stories of the last week was a blazing row between prospective PM Boris Johnston and his live in girlfriend. He denied it had happened, and the police refused to comment, until it turned out a neighbour had recorded the row (so they had to be shouting loud enough that he could hear it in his place). Naturally the right wing media had a massive tizzy about this, calling it an invasion of privacy, while team Boris went into damage limitation mode.

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Ordinary I’d agree, however there its a case of pot calling the kettle black here. Boris used to be editor of the Spectator (during the phone hacking scandal) and has regular column in the Telegraph. The UK media (when they aren’t hacking people’s phones and emails) are well known for setting up sting operations, getting a political they don’t like drunk, high or just angry and recording them, then reporting what was said out of context (most notably Vince Cable, reporting a conversation in a constituency office out of context).

So a neighbour recording a scary sounding row in the hope it might be useful as evidence for the police (something the police agreed was a sensible idea) is a nosy pleb who should mind his own business. But a tabloid hack bugging a celebrity or using a long lens to get a picture of a member of the royal family with her top off, that’s good journalism. And while the right wing media are very quick to report on the private lives of celebs or left wing politicians, they are slow to report the infidelity of right wing politicians. Boris and his girlfriends (and children out of wedlock) or Farage’s affairs are largely kept out of the newspapers.

Either way, it is merely one of a long number of reasons to doubt Johnson’s suitability for high office. Almost anyone who has had anything to do with him has said he’d make a terrible PM. And as for brexit, his plan is basically bonkers, labelled “a fantasy” by some civil servants. He plans to go to Europe, bang on the table and get a better deal. What’s actually going to happen is he’ll go there to find a sticky note on the door saying nobody home, we’ll get back to you in mid November (the EU has disbanded its negotiating team, they have to wait for the new parliament to sit and elect new members)…after the UK’s scheduled to leave.

So that would imply no deal, but he’s also said the chances of that are very low, which is probably just as well as the country is woefully poorly prepared, indeed the person in charge of no dealing planning just quit. All in all, it would appear that he’s not got a clue what he’s going to do. His sole reason for going for the job is ego. He’s posh and if his bullingdon buddy Cameron (whose not from as rich a family as Boris) can be PM, why he’s practically entitled to the job, its his by right.

Of course, given that the media is camped outside number 10 pretty much 24/7, the next blazing row with his girlfriend/wife/boyfriend will be broadcast worldwide. And if he thinks he can lie his way to office and then backtrack, think again. His could well be the shortest and most disastrous PM term in history. Interesting time perhaps. And I suppose it means for Americans, the brit’s can stop laughing at them over Trump.

Trump v’s Iran

Speaking of Trump, there’s the drum beats to war over Iran. Its possible that the plan is to provoke a war with Iran to improve Trump’s poll ratings and give him a boost ahead of the next election. Well if that’s the plan its a terrible plan, as I outlined before. Its all very reminiscent of the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

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Iran is much better armed and equipped than Iraq was (including the latest in Russian air defence missile technology). Its probably inevitable the US forces would take losses. And that means captured US pilots, or sunken warships (they’ve also got subs, including Russia made Kilo class subs), a media disaster for any US president (remember what happened to Jimmy Carter!). Iran is also closely tied to the anti-Jihadi forces in Iraq and Syria, as well as to the Russians. So there’s multiple ways this could blow back on the US. An oil embargo, them being driven out of Iraq (or indeed the Iraqi forces turning on them and taking US military personnel hostage) and Syria, a rise in terrorism, you name it.

Also given that Iran has now begun enriching Uranium, it raises the risk that Trump’s actions means they get nukes anyway and his listening to right wing hawks and Israel simply helped them do so. And recall there’s a way Iran can get access to nukes very quickly – the Russians. The worst case scenario is that Iran is so intimidated by this conflict that they retreat under the protective blanket of Russia and invite the Russians to install nuclear missiles in Iran. Plus if Russia takes any casualties from US attacks (which is possible, they’ll likely have advisers and contractors on site) Russia might choose to retaliate in another theatre, most likely the Baltic.

So this can only end badly for America. We can only hope he chickens out, probably more about saving his precious ego than anything.

Working class leave

Corbyn meanwhile still goes through the routine of promising a move towards a 2nd referendum. But then he goes into a meeting with his lexiter cabinet, who seem determined to leave at any cost (even if it destroys the labour party) and emerges to backtrack. The fact is that labour’s brexit strategy is as equally divorced from reality as Johnson’s. Take a recent article from leading Lexiter Jon Turddas Curddas, saying how the working class labour supporters will never forgive labour if they back a 2nd referendum.

Excuse me, but brexit would only not happen in a 2nd referendum if the leave camp lost. So he’s saying the party should deny people a vote on this, now and until the end of time just to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. Also we need to address this myth that the working class labour supporters voted overwhelmingly leave. They didn’t. Polls show that between 90% and 70% of labour supporters backed remain (the margin depends on who you consider to be a “labour supporter”, a party member or someone who tends to vote labour). And if anything the party is swinging more and more to remain, not least given the threat no deal presents to working class jobs.

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Labour is overwhelmingly a remain supporting party

Why then did some labour constituency’s vote for brexit? Well because under the UK’s decidedly unfair first-past-the-post-system an MP can be elected without a majority of votes. Its possible to win with as little as 25% of support, although 30-40% is more typical. So take 10-30% of labour support, add it to the Tory & UKIP vote, chuck in a couple of thousand people who don’t normally vote, but the bloke on the telly told them they’d get a free unicorn if they voted for this thing called “leave” and yes you can get a labour seat to vote heavily for leave. Like so many deluded leavers, Curddas assumes that everyone in his constituency agrees with him, even though polls, not to mention basic maths, do not support this.

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And those polls show labour is haemorrhaging support. Does Craddas and his fellow London leave brigade seriously think that they can drag the country out of the EU, pissing off many of labours young new supporters, seeing many others lose their jobs and not suffer any sort of blow back? Like I said, they are as deluded as the Tories.

And now is the winter of our discontent

Case in point, I came across this old copy of a documentary about the infamous winter of discontent. Over the course of the winter of 1978/79 the UK was besieged by a series of strikes as the then labour government fought with its normally loyal supporters in the unions. This eventually led to an early election and the milk snatcher Maggie Thatcher winning, largely because labour party supporters stayed away from the polls.

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And so its worthwhile remembering what happened, as it provides many valuable lessons for today. Firstly, yes the media made a mountain out of a mole hill. The PM Callaghan never said the famous line “crisis what crisis” (he merely said it was a matter of opinion as to how bad things were…i.e. You hacks are just trying to make hay so you can get a Tory elected). Yes the grave diggers went on strike, but only in one small part of the country. There was disruption from those strikes but it was sporadic and it didn’t last the whole of the winter. But all of that said, it was a mess (just not as big a one as the media made it out to be), the labour government fecked up, they have to take the blame for that.

And at the heart of the problem was the global economic events of the 1970‘s. Contrary to what many Corbyn/Bernie supporters believe the 70’s was not a working class utopia, quite the opposite in fact. There were several economic crises, not least of those being caused by the oil shocks. This had the effect of pushing up inflation, which caused workers to demand higher wages, which caused more inflation, which caused more jobs losses.

The labour government were determined to stop this cycle, by limiting wage increases in return for the government acting to keep living costs down (by restricting rent increases or price rises on basic food items). But there was a disconnect between those in the Westminster bubble (which included union bosses) and the rank and file union members or labour supporters in the factories, who’d effectively just taken a pay cut because of inflation.

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Both groups thought the other had their back. The workers assumed a labour government won’t go against striking workers, the government assumed that working class workers won’t undermine a labour government and hand the wicked witch of Finchley the keys to number 10…who immediately went to war on those very same unionised industries. But that’s what happened. Turkey’s will literally vote for Christmas sometimes.

So the lesson for labour would be that just because those around Corbyn think brexit is a great idea (including union boss Len Mc Cluskey), doesn’t mean the rest of the country (or even his own party) agrees. If they think they can screw over remain supporting labour voters and fuming thought they’ll be, they will still vote labour in the next election, think again. Yes some will be sufficiently scared of more Tory madness, but others will make a point of voting lib dem, green (or not at all). And it doesn’t take many of them to do that to decimate labour at the polls (even just a 10% drop in support would be catastrophic, remember they need to gain support to win an election not lose it!).

And even if Corbyn gets in to power, does he really think workers whose jobs might be put at risk by his brexit policy (including much of the civil service, who, like those in the 1970’s, have taken a 30% pay cut in real terms since 2008) won’t strike and plunge his government into chaos, casting labour into the wilderness for another generation. Well history says yes they will.

And there’s lessons here for the Tories. They seem to think that they can screw over business and they’ll just take one for the team. They won’t sue the government (several have already won multi million pound payouts), speculate against the pound or move their company to Ireland….except they are and more will follow! And the Scottish Tories fear a Johnson premiership combined with a no deal brexit, could create an ironclad case for independence.

Another clip I came across recently was this bit from the Long Good Friday. A film from the Thatcher era it sees this scene where the protagonist basically telling a bunch of yanks to feck off, he’s a European and in the single market, they can stick their money, he’s going into business with the Germans (you’d have to watch the whole movie to understand the context of it….has a young Helen Mirren in it too!). Well the 2019 remake would appear to involve our protagonist kissing US booty and promising to be their bitch. That effectively is brexit in a nutshell.

Unfit to lead?

Another story was a “leak” from the civil service claiming that Corbyn is too frail to be PM and largely under the control of his advisers. On the one hand, given what I’ve said above, that kind of does make sense. Then again, you could say the same thing about May or Boris, yet nobody is questioning their suitability for office. There are procedures and rules for how such issues should be dealt with (without leaking things to the media). And I cannot help but notice that this story first appeared in the Murdoch press. If these leakers were genuinely worried, why didn’t they follow the correct policy, or approach a more credible newspaper?

One worries that this is simply a case of old Etonians in the civil service, all too aware of the dangers Johnson posses to the Tories electoral chances, they’ve decided to get ahead of themselves and start running interference well in advance. But even so, rather than take any criticism instead Corbyn wants to make a federal case out of this. Shoot the messenger and the message will die, won’t it?

Life expectancy falling

Some other disturbing news shows that the UK has now recorded the first drop in life expectancy rates in a century. While there are many reasons behind this drop, less healthy diets and lack of exercise are part of the problem, but clearly there is a link to the decline in NHS spending (while the Tories will claim to have increased it, this ignores inflation and an ageing population, which means cuts in real terms) and the impact of austerity.

And the Tory response was to make all sorts excuses ranging from old people dying of flu (actually vaccines against the flu are becoming much more effective), harsher winters (we’re getting more student cold snaps, but its winters are in general milder now than previously). And of course, life expectancy rates are still rising in the rest of the world, even in more prosperous parts. We’ve long accepted for many generations that the next generation will be better off and live longer, but the Tories have now so broken the UK that this is no longer true.

Women’s world cup

Not sure if anyone’s been watching the women’s world cup, but on the whole I think its been quite good. I cannot help but notice there’s a lot less diving and other primadonna theatrics, which just goes to show that most male professional footballers are just a bunch of overpaid wimps.

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Anyone for some footie….or tea?

However there’s been some controversy over VAR (Video Assistant Referee), which has destroyed the natural rhythm of many of the games, by having the referee dash off the pitch to watch a playback of some event, often for something that could easily wait (a yellow card decision for example).

This isn’t an issue with other sports, which have used VAR for many years (while FIFA fought tooth and nail against it) and it doesn’t interrupt the game much. In hockey for example they’ve a system whereby the game just carries on as normal, save certain key decisions (e.g. did the ball go over the goal line), but either team can refer to VAR at anytime. If their claim succeeds they can make further referrals. If it fails they lose their right to do so. End result is it doesn’t really effect the flow of the game. But anything that’s a good idea, you can rely on FIFA to screw it up.

And one cannot help but notice they are tweaking the rules as they go along in the middle of a major women’s tournament, not the men’s. And the players haven’t been properly briefed about it, as became clear during the Cameron game (where a number of VAR decisions went against Cameron and they nearly walked off the pitch). Which just tells everything you need to know about FIFA.

Cycling ban

In effect last week cycling has been banned in the UK. A cyclist who hit a mobile phone zombie (she stepped in front of him while on her phone) was successfully sued. While her payout will be limited to a few thousand, he’ll have to pay up to a £100,000 in costs. Needless to say this opens a massive can of worms.

Firstly it requires cyclists (and potentially drivers) to be responsible for the irresponsible actions of others. Needless to say, this will have all sorts of disastrous repercussions. The crash for cash brigade will have a field day. All they need to do now is walk in front of a bike/car/scooter at a junction, lie down on the road and claim they were hit (a innocent “passerby” accomplice willingly testifying to the “accident”).

Well the thing is the best strategy if that happens to you on a bike is keep going. The mistake this cyclists made was stopping to check on her welfare. If he’d kept going and left her bleeding on the side of the road, he’d not be in this mess.

Which inevitably means people’s lives will be put at risk, as anyone with a lick of sense who hits someone will just ride or drive away (yes that’s technically illegal, but do you want to end up £100,000 poorer?). I hope the judge in this case and the attention seeking claimant will be happy when they learn their actions have led to an explosion in fraudulent claims, the insurance premiums of everyone in the country going up and one or two deaths because someone was left bleeding the road after an accident.

What this highlights is everything that’s wrong with the UK legal system. Given the lack of a proper constitution it means that judges can basically just make it up as they go along. Hence if you can pay enough money to lawyers you can pretty much buy whatever outcome you want, creating a horrible legal mess for everyone else in the process.

What happens in Alabama stays there

Alabama, the state that last year recently narrowly avoided electing a known kiddy fiddler, showed us everything awful about what happens when the Republican party’s toxic ideology is implemented.

A pregnant woman was shot in the stomach and she’s now been charged with manslaughter of her unborn child, while the person who shot her walks free. I mean guns only kill bad people, so it must be her fault that her body (with her baby) got in the way of the bullets aimed at her. If she was innocent god would have intervened (maybe she just didn’t pray hard enough or give enough money for her minster’s private jet).

I’ve pointed out before that in Europe the laws are such that its more gun regulation than gun control. You can pretty much get any kind of gun you can get in the US, the main restriction is what you do with it (and, oddly enough, shooting pregnant women in the stomach will get you sent to jail, and your gun ownership privileges revoked).

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However, I think the NRA types are sleep walking America towards a future where instead it will be gun control. i.e. total bans on guns for all but a handful of strictly regulated purposes. And probably state funded abortions too! If they honestly think stuff like this is going to have no blow back then they are very naive. And they will only have themselves to blame when that day comes.

You have trodden on the forbidden lawn

Guardian columnist George Monbiot, and a number of academics recently produced a report on the UK’s land ownership and how it is fostering inequality, not to mention helping the wealthy to dodge tax. They have recommended to the labour party a number of measures to reform the UK’s land ownership to counter these issues.

Needless to say, this hit something of a raw nerve among right wing media barons (who just happen to be major property owners!), who launched a massive media blitz against these proposals and began using them to bash Corbyn. A reminder, while the labour party (and Corbyn) are aware of this report, they have yet to adopt any of its proposals or craft any specific policies from it.

But since when have facts stood in the way of a good hatchet job, with the gutter press duly improvising by pulling a couple of scary (and fictitious) policies out of their own arses, sticking Corbyn’s name against it and going on a massive tirade against a straw man that exists only in their own paranoid imagination. Its all very similar to the Fox news reaction to the recent Green new deal proposals.

You know you are over the target when you start taking flak. And clearly this reaction from the right wing media highlights that maybe Monbiot and co are on to something. Let’s just take one of their proposals, abolish council tax and replace it with a property tax instead, a policy I’ve long advocated (I’d include the option of a local income tax instead as well thought). This would not only be much fairer, as it would link ones ability to pay to what you pay, but also eliminate a lot of the cheating of the council tax system that goes on. While people in every income bracket do this (council tax is essentially an honesty tax, its fairly easy to avoid paying it if you don’t want too), its obviously the wealthy who are the worse offenders.

Of course, as you can probably guess, the last thing the rich want is a tax system that’s “fair” and links their wealthy property portfolio to how much tax they pay (its not as if they can move their country estate overseas, nor can they plead hardship on a multi million pound London flat which earns several thousand a month in rent), hence the over reaction to this report. Which is why I’d advice everyone to read it.

May’s legacy – Solar bashing

Theresa May is probably thinking of her legacy. She’s confronted Putin over Salisbury (good!) and promising billions towards fighting climate change ignoring the fact that the solar industry (which was growing steadily for some time) has now collapsed in the UK. With the Tories contemplating new taxes to make damn sure they kill it off for good (we can’t let the plebs generate their own power!).

What worries me is the long term consequences of all of this. As I’ve pointed out before, the UK’s energy system is badly in need of investment at nearly every level. Ageing power stations need replacing, the grid needs updating and that’s before we even tackle climate change.

By burning one industry for the crime of being successful, she and the Tories are sending a dangerous signal to industry. Yes they favour Natural Gas and nuclear. But both of those have limited room for expansion (given the recent cancellations nuclear is almost certain to contract). And brexit could be a show stopper to either. So her legacy could well be to put the UK on a route towards rising carbon emissions, power cuts and energy shortages.

CANZUK post-brexit?

The latest delusion (just before I went away anyway) from the brexiters is something they call the CANZUK partnership. The idea being that the UK forms a trading block and a free travel zone with Canada, New Zealand and Australia. It is first of all worth noting that this is not a new idea, but its obviously been prompted more heavily since brexit happened.

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Well needless too say picking out the three mostly white parts of the British Empire and saying were going to trade with these countries and let their citizens come and go as they please, but we’re not going to do so with the likes of Malaysia, Singapore or India (larger and the UK does more trade) just stinks of racism. And given that the UK’s combined trade with CANZ countries is just 6%, against the 42% with the EU, its hardly a suitable replacement.

Furthermore, the rhetoric we heard throughout the referendum was that Britain is full we can’t take any more….yet now they are saying, nah its fine everyone’s welcome….so long as they are white and speak English. Keep in mind the stated goal of brexit is to get net migration down to the tens of thousands. That would immediately be blown if existing rates of immigration from just these three countries continued, never mind if it increased significantly (which it certainly would). And this issue of racism isn’t just an idle point, it would be illegal under UK law, trading standards, competition rules and WTO trade rules. Individuals and their governments (notably the US and the EU) who lose out aren’t going to let something like that just slide, they will challenge it.

While its true a number of high ranking politicians in Canada, NZ & Australia have expressed interest in the idea, that was either before brexit or when it looked like the UK would still be in the single market or customs union afterwards. These countries are not interested in a policy that puts them at a disadvantage in trade with the EU and the rest of the world.

As you can imagine all three will want something back from the UK in return. NZ & Australia will almost certainly want concessions on farming and fishing (screwing over the UK’s farmers & fishermen) and Canada will want something too (that we all be polite & put the bins out on time? buy more maple syrup?). In fact the main objectors to the UK’s proposed post-brexit tariffs are, you guessed it, NZ, Australia and Canada.

And its not like immigration isn’t an issue in these three countries. How would it look in Canberra, where the position of conservatives there is that Australia is full (despite having 30 times the land area of the UK and 1/3 the population), when they open the borders to millions of foreigners who can come in without any sort of limits. That’s not exactly going to go down well.

Then there’s the issue of existing trade relations with other countries. Given for example that Canada has a free trade agreement with both the US and the EU, what’s to stop an American company (or a Polish one, or a Mexican firm) just setting up an office north of the border, stamping a big maple leaf on everything and then shipping it to the UK, where it passes in tariff free with no checks whatsoever (or visa versa). Obviously the solution would be for Canada to more thoroughly check things at its borders, which the UK would also have to do (in violation of the GFA).

In other words effectively CANZUK would mean the border between the four states becomes softer, but a harder crust is needed at the boundaries of these four states. But this will no doubt fall foul of existing trade relations that all four have with their trading partners. In the UK’s case this would, as noted, be illegal under the terms of the GFA. And inevitably all of the other countries would likely face similar issues.

The reality is that CANZUK is just another slightly racist dog whistle, a way for the brexiters to give a nod and a wink to the bigot brigade. I could see them try to negotiate such a deal, but allowing those talks to fail, just so they can blame the CANZ governments for the failure (much as they’ll blame the EU for a no deal brexit). Allowing immigration to continue, but issuing border controls with a racist colour chart is just unworkable (and besides not everyone in CANZ is white, surely they’d have to be allowed in too?). And such a free trade zone would only work if the UK was willing to undertake several massive concessions first. And that means ultimately accepting that the UK will be worse off out of the EU than in.