The United States of America goes to the polls on 8th November 2016 to elect, not only its next President but also numbers of Senators, House Representatives, Governors and various other officials. Essentially it is a largely two party system: Republicans -v- Democrats.
This year the Presidential Candidates are Hilary Clinton for the Democrats and Donald Trump for the Republicans. Historically, the best interpreter of the massive amount of polling which goes on during the US campaign is the team headed by Nate Silver at Five Thirty Eight which daily produces three forecast models: FiveThirtyEight – 2016 Election Forecast which today gives the following predictions:
- Now: Clinton 84.4% – Trump 15.6%
- Nov 8: Clinton 83.3% – Trump 16.6%
- Adjusted: Clinton 74.7% – Trump 25.3%
Pollsters can, of course, get things wrong and the US political establishment is still reeling somewhat from the fact that a mountebank like Donald Trump even got to be the Republican Candidate and might yet be the next President with the ability to launch a global thermonuclear war. Trump has run a populist campaign playing to fear and prejudice just like Herr Hitler did in between the wars in Germany and as Il Duce Benito Mussolini did in Italy and just like UKIP’s former leader, the dreadful Nigel Farage has done in the UK.
And just just like Mussolini joined Hitler, Farage has gone to the USA to support Trump. Lucia Graves opines in the Guardian: “Trump and Farage are playing the same dangerous game” – “The would-be president is harnessing nationalism and bigotry. Like the former Ukip leader, he is more interested in channelling anger than he is in governance”.
The Telegraph also reports on the Farage visit to the USA with embedded videos here: ‘Nigel Farage tells Donald Trump rally: ‘I wouldn’t vote for Clinton if you paid me‘.
There are lessons here for the UK and perhaps also for the EU, the chief of which is that one should beware of demagogues whether on the right or the left.
The Labour Party
The Guardian reports: “Labour should continue to fight Brexit, says Owen Smith”. At least Owen Smith has a credible general approach to the Brexit issue, but it is far from certain that his Labour leadership bid will succeed. Writing in the Spectator, Tom Goodenough warns: “Owen Smith makes a foolish pledge to block Brexit” in which he points out that the Labour heartlands voted overwhelmingly to support Brexit. That is true. Why they voted thus is quite another matter.
However, see also this Brexit briefing in the Financial Times: “Brexit Briefing: What if Owen Smith wins? – Candidate for Labour leadership could have an impact on debate as it evolves”. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has this in the Guardian: “Ditch Jeremy Corbyn before it’s too late, Sadiq Khan tells Labour“.
The Independent also looks at the Article 50 process: “Brexit: Could Owen Smith really stop Article 50 and prevent Britain leaving the EU?” The article suggests that it is possible but it might provoke a backlash from leave voters.
Whether Owen Smith with the support of Sadiq Khan and others in the Parliamentary Party will achieve the success they hope for in the Labour leadership election remains to be seen. One fears not. Thanks to the efforts of Momentum, it is likely that the UK Parliament will be left without a credible Labour opposition for the remainder of this parliament – and perhaps for longer than that.
The Conservative Party
The pressing matter for the Conservatives, as the party in government, is how to manage the consequences of the Brexit vote. Teresa May has repeated her mantra “Brexit means Brexit” but this has not as yet been clarified. The immediate costs of the Brexit Vote have been minimised by prompt action by the Bank of England, but as every person on holiday in Europe or elsewhere will have realised, there has been a sharp decline in the value of the pound sterling. Today £1 will get one just EUR 1.17.
The Financial Times has this “The sharp costs of Brexit will be felt soon enough – Britons will get poorer through prices rising more than wages, writes Rupert Pennant-Rea (the Chairman of Royal London and a former Deputy Governor of the Bank of England)“.
The piece concludes: “The British have become poorer than they were before the votes were counted on June 23, and that reality will become clearer as the months go by. Just when real incomes had started to recover from the sharp squeeze of 2009-14, they will be set back again. The holidaymakers returning from abroad have already tasted what is to come. Whether getting poorer is what 52 per cent of the June 23 voters wanted or expected, it is what is happening”.
According to this article in the Financial Times- “Investors should prepare for ‘Keynesian Put’ – BAML“, analysts at BAML have coined the expression “Keynesian Put” for the time when government rather than the Bank of England starts to simulate the economy with spending on projects.
The Chancellor is widely expected to do just that in the Autumn Statement. However, the risk is that such a stimulus may have a negative impact for bondholders and that in turn impacts adversely on pension funds. See this FT article:- “Fitch warns of pension deficit ‘cash flow drain’ for UK companies“.
The Guardian has this from its senior Economic correspondent: “Leavers should be ashamed of the harm yet to come from Brexit“. Worth a read.
Also in the Guardian is this: “Theresa May’s holiday is almost over. She must now define herself“.
Teresa May has the potential to be one of the great “one-nation” Conservative Prime Ministers of this century.
But she will have to be wary of the Swivel Eyed Loons on her backbenches. The Guardian has a guide to enable the public to identify this particularly nasty pest: “How to spot a swivel-eyed loon“.