Mrs May’s Brexit Election – Update 2

The Wicked Witch’s Campaign Continues

The Torygraph Telegraph has this: “Nearly half of all Labour voters prepared to desert the party as they lose both leave and remain support“.

The article is an interpretation of polling by YouGov which the pollster discusses here: “Voter movements: Stickers, Switchers and Undecideds going into the election” which concludes that:-

  • 57% of voters intend to vote the way they did in the 2015 General Election – these are “the Stickers”
  • 22% of voters intend to vote differently “the Switchers”
  • 20% of voters are undecided or will not say how they will vote “the Undecided”.
  • 70% of Conservatives are “Stickers” but only 52% of Labour, 47% of Lib Dems and 43% of UKIP
  • Leave switchers are going overwhelmingly to the Conservatives – 57% but Remain switchers are favouring the Liberal Democrats – 43%

The Independent has this: “General election 2017: Nearly half of all Labour voters could desert party, poll shows – 48% of those who voted for Ed Miliband in the last election will be taking their votes elsewhere, as voters desert Ukip and the Liberal Democrats in even greater numbers

ww-westminster However, another poll suggested the Wicked Witch might be slipping.   See this report in the Independent:  “Conservatives lead over Labour cut by seven points ahead of general election, latest poll shows – Poll suggests somewhat tighter race than other surveys

In short, the polls are still indicating that Wicked Witch of Westminster is going into this election on a favourable wind  and the Labour Party still looks as if it is going to be the big loser.   But a big win for the Witch may very well turn out to be very bad for the country.

The Dire Effect of a Hard Brexit

The Guardian has this: “Brexit could trigger worse crash than 2008, says Vince Cable – Liberal Democrat former business secretary launches election bid with warning of dire consequences of leaving EU without a good deal

The Independent has this: “Majority of British voters believe Brexit was wrong decision, poll finds – Figures reveal 45 per cent of electorate oppose leaving the EU”  That relates to yet another You-Gov poll for The Times.

The Independent also has this: “The latest polls show most people think Brexit was a mistake. This could be a turning point – May and her Brexit-backing band have, up until now, always been able to count on the majority being in their corner. They have used it as a club in an attempt beat their opponents into submission. Majority rules! That’s going to be a lot harder to do if she’s lost the majority“.

Rescuing an Effective Opposition

corbynremThe Guardian reports: “Jeremy Corbyn election bid to promote ‘warmer’ style of leadership – Labour strategists take on Tory attacks and depict leader as willing to engage with ordinary people, in contrast to Theresa May“.

That is, perhaps, a sign of a sensible strategy developing.

It is worth referring again to something discussed on the 1st  Brexit Election Update and that is that younger voters are more likely to vote Labour and that age rather than class is now a factor that matters.  As pointed out on the May’s Brexit General Election page,  Monday 22nd May 2017 is the last day for registering to vote.  Labour, Liberal Democrats, the SNP and others should be working hard to get all eligible  (and in particular younger) voters onto the register.

 Jeremy Corbyn seems to be trying.  The Guardian has this: “Jeremy Corbyn gets personal in one-off campaign speech – Labour leader departs from usual focus on issues and policies by talking about his personal history and motivations“.

This piece by Charlie Brinkhurst Cuff in the Guardian is worthy of note: “Personal attacks on Corbyn will backfire on the Tories among the young – We recognise bullying when we see it, and we look for idealism in politicians – not the vindictiveness on display from Johnson and May“.

 

This piece in the Financial Times is worth reading: “Theresa May is dangerously disdainful of dissent – A thumping majority will not change Europe’s negotiating stance”  – and the posted comments make interesting reading too!

 

 

 

Mrs May’s Brexit Election – Update 1

Gibraltar

guardiacivilThe Telegraph has this interesting piece: “Spanish ministry of defence staff vote thousands of times in Gibraltar poll – Telegraph Gibraltar poll approaches one million votes – after thousands of votes from Spain’s ministry of defence and social media campaign“.   One has visions of some elderly officer relic from the dark days of Generalissimo Francisco Franco sitting in a basement of the Spanish Ministry of Defence urging a cohort of members of the Guardia Civil to log on to the Telegraph website to swing the on-line poll.   Well,  it’s not just the Russians who are in the “fake news” business.

The Wicked Witch of Westminster has pulled a fast one!

ww-westminsterWith the benefit of hindsight,  it is worth reading this article from last Sunday’s Observer: “How May kept her secret – and left rivals scrambling – The PM brilliantly outwitted her opponents after weeks of denying she was going to go to the country“.

General election campaigns are normally months, even years, in the planning. But when May announced that voters would go to the polls on 8 June 2017, not May 2020, all the parties had to drop everything in an instant. Manifestos that had hardly been thought about had to be finalised within a fortnight, while campaign teams had to be set up from a standing start and parliamentary candidates selected in hundreds of seats within days. In addition, funding had to be organised and donations sought, literature printed, slogans invented, battle buses ordered and painted, and all other priorities shelved.

Yes, the Wicked Witch has managed to catch all the opposition parties, and in particular the Labour Party, completely on the hop.

A new page has been opened for the May’s Brexit General Election which will be periodically updated.

Yesterday, the Guardian had this: “Labour predicted to lose hundreds of seats in local elections – Party expected to lose 75 councillors in England and more than 100 in Wales, and control of Glasgow and Cardiff city councils“.  The article makes the following points:-

  • It is unprecedented for a government to call a national general election while local elections are already under way;
  • A total of 2,370 council seats are in play and both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats were expected to make gains at the expense of Labour and UKIP;
  • The respected Elections Centre in Plymouth forecast net gains of 115 seats for the Conservatives and 85 for the Liberal Democrats and net losses of 75 for Labour and 105 for UKIP;
  • It was anticipated that the Greens would be contesting more seats in England and Scotland than UKIP;
  • Professor Scully of Cardiff University reported that Labour was expected to lose a lot of seats in Wales and was like to lose control in Cardiff, Swansea and Newport
  • Professor Curtice of Strathclyde University predicted that Labour was heading for disaster in Scotland and likely to lose control of all Councils in Scotland.

The Guardian’s view was that the results of the Local Elections will be a key indicator of the likely outcome of the surprise General Election.

However, the Independent has this:  “Labour easily beating Tories among voters under 40 despite being 20 points behind overall – The UK’s generational split is bigger than ever“.   The article is based on a You-Gov poll: The Demographics Dividing Britain.

It concludes that age rather than class is the new dividing line in British Politics:  “The starkest way to show this is to note that Labour is 19% ahead when it comes to 18-24 year-olds and the Conservatives are ahead by 49% among the over 65s. Our analysis suggest that the current tipping point – which is to say the age where voters are more likely to favour the Conservatives over Labour – is 34

Another key finding was that the more educated a person is – the more likely they are to vote Labour or Liberal Democrat: “Amongst those with no formal qualifications, the Conservative lead by 35%. But when it comes to those with a degree, the Tory lead falls to 8%. Education also shapes other parties’ vote shares. UKIP also struggles amongst highly educated voters, polling four times higher amongst those with no formal qualifications compared to those with a degree.”

As the Independent points out: ” The divide in the poll mirrors the split at the European Union referendum, where older voters pulled Britain out of the European Union against the overwhelming wishes of younger voters.

No doubt, campaign managers will be taking these findings into account.

Made in Wales

Voters in Wales may remember that when Mrs Thatcher closed Wales, the  Welsh Development Agency tried to remedy matters with a Made in Wales advert which 9 years later is still to be found on You-Tube – swiftly followed by a skit on the the BBC’s Not the Nine O’Clock News – Failed in Wales – also to be found on You-Tube.

Perhaps Wales has forgotten what Mrs Thatcher did to Wales – and to the whole of the UK.  The Thatcher legacy was de-industrialisation and it still affects us.  In 2013 the Financial Times reported that:-

Manufacturing accounted for around 26 per cent of economic output when Thatcher came to power in 1979; in 2011 it was 10.8 per cent, up slightly from a low of 10.5 per cent in 2009. It employs 2.6m compared with 6.7m in 1979″

“Mr Ford, who joined his family’s business in 1974 as a member of its third generation in the firm, has done better than many: his companies have £11m in turnover and export to 20 countries. But, he adds: “She closed down the mines and let a lot of heavy industry go to the wall. She didn’t encourage manufacturing the way Germany did.” He argues that the loss of heavy industry led to declining demand for engineered products, which affected the supply chain and depressed the economy. It also affected manufacturing’s image, he suggests, contributing to current skill shortages.”

As the Welsh Government has pointed out on 11th April 2017: “European Structural Funds 2014-2020 – Between 2014–2020, Wales will benefit from over £2bn European Structural Funds investment.”

Strange, therefore, that the Wicked Witch is campaigning for a hard Brexit which will damage Wales and seeking to persuade the people of Wales to vote Conservative in her surprise General Election.

The Guardian has this: “Conservatives warned: don’t take ‘landslide’ election win for granted – Strategists fear voters may turn to other parties to reduce scale of anticipated victory as Theresa May tries to woo people away from Labour in Wales“.

The report is useful because it identifies the Conservative target constituencies in Wales.

The Financial Times has this: “What to expect after the UK general election – How the result will shape Brexit, Scotland and Theresa May’s leadership“.

Assuming electoral success – which at the moment seeks likely – it is an interesting piece.

More importantly, the Financial Times has this: “Theresa May refuses to commit to pensions ‘triple lock’ – Policy ensures state pension rises by highest of CPI, earnings growth or 2.5 per cent“.

We pensioners, may find that a pretty depressing notion – especially when coupled with what we see happening to the National Health Service.

 

 

 

The Wicked Witch in Trouble?

The Wicked Witch is losing some support

ww-westminsterThe Mail on Sunday’s Political Editor reported: “Tory lead is slashed in half after tax U-turn: Bombshell Mail on Sunday poll shows May plummeting by 11 points …denting hopes of a landslide“.    Oh Dear!

The actual Survation polling questions and answers are here: “Survation’s first General Election Voting Intention poll since Theresa May’s call for a General Election gained parliamentary approval shows the Conservative Party with more than a double-digit lead over Labour.  But, as the Mail article pointed out, Professor John Curtice (who knows about these things) believes the survey still points to a net Conservative gain of some 29 seats.

The Observer had another report:  “Conservatives on course for landslide victory in election, poll suggests – Observer/Opinium survey indicates Tory party has doubled its lead over Labour to 19 points since Theresa May’s announcement“.  The conclusions were:-

  • Tories on 45% (up seven points compared with the previous week), while Labour is down three points on 26%.
  • Support is growing for the anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats, who are up four points on 11%.  Backing for the Lib Dems suggests that the party’s clear anti-Brexit strategy is appealing to hardcore Remain voters
  • There has been a dramatic fall in backing for Ukip, which is down five points to 9%, from 14% the week before.

The Financial Times has this: “Blair urges voters to back anti-Brexit candidates — even if Tory – Former Labour prime minister’s intervention enrages leftwing activists“.

The Telegraph has this:  “SNP ‘to lose 10 seats’ to Tories in major blow to Nicola Sturgeon“.  The report appears to be based on Panelbase and  Survation polls.  However, it appears that both polls predicted 2 gains for the Liberal Democrats and one poll thought there might be 3rd gain.  Apparently, the Survation poll  found backing for independence at 47 per cent, with 53 per cent opposed. However, almost 38 per cent said another Tory majority government would make them more likely to back separation.

The Scotsman has this: “Election 2017: Will the SNP sweep Glasgow again?“.  The conclusion reached is: “No matter who is selected, and no matter what happens between now and election day on June 8th, another SNP clean sweep in Glasgow seems almost inevitable“.

The Independent reports: “Brexit opposition reaches record high one week after snap election announcement – While 44 per cent agree with Brexit, the same percentage think leaving the EU would be wrong“.

Preparing for Polling Day

The BBC has this:  “General election 2017: How many people are registering to vote?” According to the report,  some 350,000 people have registered to vote since the election was announced and most of them are younger people.  Let us hope that all  voters readers – especially those who were unable to vote in the Referendum – will  be sure to register this time.  Register

This is where to do the necessary:   https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

Once one is registered then it is worth learning about how to vote tactically.  The Independent has this: “The spreadsheet for strategic voting against the Tories is now a website

The Website is here:  “How to Vote to Stop the Tories“.

The Witch’s ‘Special Relationship’ with Mr Toad

The Times reports:  “Trump puts EU ahead of Britain in trade queue – Merkel lands Brexit victory for Brussels“.   Oh Dear!

The so-called “special relationship” has always been an issue: – see (1) The Witch and Mr Toad  (2)  Hard Times for the Special Relationship (3) The Witch, Mr Toad and the EU .

mr-toad

It was always to be expected that Mr Toad would be more interested in the trade balances than in the “special relationship” and, as the Times article points out:  “The EU is America’s biggest trading partner: US exports to the bloc last year were worth $270 billion; it imported goods worth $417 billion. In the same period the US exported $55 billion in goods to Britain and imported $54 billion”.

The plain fact is that the survival of the “special relationship”  after the UK joined the EU depended very much on the UK continuing to have influence in Europe as one of the larger members of the European Union.

The French Connection

The Guardian has this:  “European leaders cheer Macron victory in first round of French election – Commission president breaks protocol to join chorus of congratulations for pro-European centrist, who faces far-right Marine Le Pen in second round“.

The Financial Times reports: “Euro and French stocks surge on expectation Macron beats Le Pen – Centrist’s likely success in head-to-head for French presidency eases investor nerves“.

The Telegraph has this: “Why does the French Presidential Election matter to the UK?“.

Unfortunately, is is unlikely to be a rebirth of the  1904 “Entente Cordiale”

 

The Wicked Witch calls an Election

General Election on 8th June 2017

ww-westminsterYesterday, the Wicked Witch of Westminster (aka Prime Minister Teresa May) emerged from her Downing Street hovel and announced to the media that, subject to a vote in the House of Commons tomorrow (which is required under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011),  there will be a General Election on 8th June 2017.

The Wicked Witch’s announcement may be seen on this BBC News page : “Theresa May’s general election statement in full”.

The pretext for this early general election is that the opposition parties are making life difficult for the Wicked Witch and might put her plans at risk.  In reality, a real motivation may in part be to neutralise the hard Brexit loons in her own party.

This morning the Guardian has this:  “May’s real reason for calling election? To show EU that Brexit really means Brexit – PM’s decision aims to dispel the lingering belief in Europe that Britain will change its mind about leaving the EU“.

An Election Gamble ?

Paul Goodman writing on the Conservative Home blog as soon as the decision was announced, set out what he considers to the the “pros” and the “cons”:  “The Prime Minister’s election gamble. The pros. The cons.”  Some of the considerations – especially the “cons” – are well worth further study.   To begin, these three considerations do seem relevant:-

  • The Conservatives have just notched up their biggest poll lead over Labour.  If not now – as Charles Walker might put it – when?

It is worth noting that on 3-4 January of this year a YouGov poll had the Conservatives at 39% with Labour at 26%.  Since then the Conservative lead has crept up and by 14-17 April an ICM poll had the Conservatives were leading Labour 44%-26%.  

  • A contest now means that Labour is trapped into contesting it with Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader.  That might well not be the case in 2020.

Nick Cohen wrote this in the Guardian on 19th March 2017:  “Don’t tell me you weren’t warned about Corbyn – Jeremy Corbyn is going to bury the Labour party. If you don’t want that, do something“.

Mr Cohen warned: “You should know there is a faint chance Theresa May will call an early election. She says she doesn’t want to, and it would be difficult to arrange. But May also said she didn’t want Britain to leave the European Union, and look where we are now.”

 

Corbyn – Under the Witch’s Spell ?

CorbynThe problem for Labour is, of course, that Corbyn is very much an unwitting helper of the Wicked Witch.  One does not know which spell she put on him to turn him into the gibbering idiot he has proved to be – but it seems to be holding fast. Just about everything thing Corbyn says or does is to the Wicked Witch’s advantage.   Today, Polly Toynbee writes in the Guardian: “Corbyn is rushing to embrace Labour’s annihilation – The shockingly inept opposition leader will preside over catastrophe for his party. Politics has rarely looked grimmer“.  The article is scathing about Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership but at least it recognises that the election is an opportunity for the Liberal Democrats:-

A Brexit election has Tim Farron crowing with relish, the Lib Dem’s crystal clear pro-EU stance destined, thinks Crosby [Conservative election guru], to regain 27 seats lost to Tories in 2015.”

Pundits out in force

Yesterday’s Guardian had this: “Pollsters believe general election is ‘foregone conclusion’ – Snap election gives polling industry chance to restore reputation after widespread failure to accurately predict 2015 result“.   There are, however, some passages in the piece which report caveats from Professor John Curtice – the only expert who accurately predicted the last election result – which are worth noting.

Richard Parry of the Centre for Constitutional Change writes: “So Much for Fixed Term Parliaments” and he makes these very valid points:-

  • Jeremy Corbyn’s acquiescence in an early General Election has confirmed the supposition that if pushed an opposition party would never want to appear to be frightened of going to the country. The result has been to nullify the point of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011 except when there is a coalition government.
  • At the UK level, the move is a gamble for May. It is transparently self-serving, inconsistent with previous statements and can easily be portrayed as getting the election out of the way before the bad news starts.
  • It is also a golden opportunity for the Liberal Democrats to reassert their historical strength in southern England and make progress in rolling back the Conservatives’ near clean-sweep in 2015.

Writing in the Guardian yesterday,  Anne Perkins urged MP’s to reject an early election: “This is no general election, it’s a coup – MPs have a duty to stop Theresa May – The prime minister is setting off on a course that will poison politics for a generation. But to succeed, she needs a two-thirds majority in the Commons“.

Ms Perkins may very well have been right – even though the Guardian reported that [some] Labour MP’s might have asked him to do just that very thing: “Labour MPs expected to urge Corbyn to reconsider decision to back election  – Labour leader welcomes move but many MPs are worried by his poor standing with voters and the lack of a manifesto“.

But it was never going to happen – Corbyn is still under the Wicked Witch’s spell and in a dream world of his own.  Despite the appalling state of the polls, Labour was never going to stand in the way of an early election.

The Independent had this: “Theresa May needed Labour’s support for a snap election, and she got it – even though Corbyn is heading for a bigger defeat than 1983 – If you are the Prime Minister, looking at the prospect of a massively increased majority, it’s worth the temporary awkwardness of saying you have changed your mind“.

A Liberal Democrat Opportunity

Today the Guardian reports: “New post-Brexit landscape could squeeze Labour out, warns new report – The UK in a Changing Europe called the last six months the most tumultuous political period since the second world war“.

The article suggests that the Liberal Democrats could win seats from Labour in pro-remain Constituencies such as Hornsey and Wood Green, Bristol West, Cambridge, Bermondsey and Old Southwark, and Cardiff Central.

Today, the Guardian has this: “Lib Dems hope to gain dozens of seats with anti-Brexit campaign – Party says it has been preparing for a snap election since before the EU referendum, with 400 candidates already in place“.

The article points out that “The Lib Dems have gained a net 33 council seats since the May 2016 local elections, many of them in the south-west, where Ukip has lost seven seats, Labour has lost 13 and the Tories 21“.

So it may well be the case that the Liberal Democrats do well both in the local elections and in the parliamentary elections which will follow.

 

The Wicked Witch and her Easter Message

The “Thatcher” Coin

The original £1 coin was the Sovereign.  But while these coins continue to be minted, the current worth of a real 1983 gold Sovereign is somewhere around £450 rather than its nominal worth of £1.  But by 1983, continued inflation had devalued the currency to the extent that a £1 paper banknote had £1coinbecome small change.  But  the cost of printing £1 paper money had become excessive, so in that year a new £1 coin was introduced.    The new coin received a mixed reaction from the public – but very quickly it became known as “a Thatcher” or a “Maggie”  because, like the Prime Minister of that name, “it was a bit brassy, was two faced and thought it was a sovereign” – the latter part of the explanation being a reference to a Margaret Thatcher propensity to imitate some the regal characteristics of the Queen.

Mrs Teresa May, our current Prime Minister, appears to have a similar propensity.

Theresa May Easter HatThis is a picture of Teresa May deputising for HM the Queen at a Sandhurst passing out parade on a day when Her Majesty was otherwise engaged handing out the Royal Maundy Money to pensioners at Leicester Cathedral.

Look at the hat.  Her Majesty is always very careful to ensure that her face is never obscured by her hats – and Mrs May took the same approach with her headgear at Sandhurst.

Today’s Torygraph Telegraph uses the same “quasi-Royal” photograph to support this article: “Support for Brexit hits a five-month high, with 55 per cent of UK population now backing exit from European Union“.  The photograph is, of course, wholly unconnected with the subject matter of the article.

The Sunday Express goes on to use the very same “quasi-Royal” photograph to adorn this article: “Theresa May uses Easter message to praise role of Christianity in Britain – The Prime Minister today urges the nation to “be confident” about the role Christianity plays in British life.”

Teresa May’s Christianity

There is, of course, a Christian tradition of exchanging Pascal Greetings at Easter, a feast which,  after all,  is in theological terms a more important Christian festival than Christmas.  Wikipedia has a list of the appropriate Pascal Greeting in different languages ranging from the Greek – Χριστὸς ἀνέστη! Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη! – to the Syriac: ܡܫܝܚܐ ܩܡ! ܫܪܝܪܐܝܬ ܩܡ!‎  and including the English Christ is risen! Truly, He is risen! . 

For Catholics rather than Anglicans, there is, of course, a traditional papal address to the faithful on Easter Sunday immediately prior  to the blessing “urbi et orbi“.  The full text of this year’s address is to be found here: “Easter ‘Urbi et Orbi’ Message of Pope Francis – full text and video

However, there is no tradition of British Prime Ministers delivering an Easter Message to the people.  According to this Telegraph Article Alistair Campbell is said to have told Tony Blair  “We don’t do God” and it does not seem that Conservative Prime Ministers before David Cameron were in the habit of delivering Easter messages.

Writing on the Conservative Home blog,  Rebecca Lowe Coulson, says this: “May’s Easter message. Most people don’t go to church. But they want a Christian country“.  Frankly, that assertion ignores reality (not an uncommon approach for Conservatives like Ms Coulson).

Christians are something of an endangered species in the UK.  According to the Faith Survey,  UK church attendance has declined over the period from 1980 to 2015 from 6.48 millions to 3.08 millions which is just 5% of the population.  The British Social Attitudes Survey indicates that Anglican (i.e Church of England) affiliation is declining faster than any other religious grouping and is likely to disappear altogether by 2033.

A video and the full text of Mrs May’s so-called “Easter message” can be found here on the Downing Street part of the government web site: “Easter 2017: Theresa May’s message – In her Easter message, Prime Minister Theresa May speaks about shared values and religious freedom, and wishes everyone a very happy Easter“.

As a  Vicar’s daughter,  Mrs May is probably only too well aware that the state established Church of England is a creature of and subservient to the state  so she probably has no compunction in hijacking Christian concepts for her own political advantage.  Stephen Bush commenting on i-News wrote: “This Easter, Theresa May’s nonthreatening, bland Christianity strikes the right tone“.   But what Mr Bush writes is worth exploring a little:-

Theresa May’s Easter message made headlines because Tony Blair’s former spin doctor, Alastair Campbell, accused her of implying that God would have voted Leave. But the remarkable truth about May’s Easter message was how bland it was.

“She talked about her upbringing as the daughter of a vicar, she talked about the values that instilled in her, and she nodded to need to be “confident” in the role that Christianity plays in the lives of Britons, while also praising tolerance towards all faiths and none.”

That is to say, she played to the prejudices of the right of the Conservative Party, who see a mosque at every street corner and come close to an aneurysm every time someone wishes them “Happy Holidays”, while reassuring everyone else that she wasn’t going to start singing hymns at Prime Ministers’ Questions.

“May’s Easter message congratulates us for our history and our values – it doesn’t ask that we turn those values into actions in the future.”

In other words – Mrs May was using the occasion of Easter to further her political position on Brexit.

The best critique so far of the Wicked Witch’s address is that by Thomas G. Clark from North Yorkshire whose blog is called “Another Angry Voice“.   Read his post here: “Theresa May’s Easter message is delusional nonsense” and it concludes with this observation:-

ww-westminsterSo we have a ridiculously out-of-touch Prime Minister talking about unity when the UK is so divided it’s in imminent danger of actually splitting up, demanding that we all get behind an economically ruinous Brexit that only a minority of people actually voted for, administered by a Tory government that an even smaller minority of people voted for, led by an appointed Prime Minister that nobody voted for.  The weird thing is that some people actually accept this horrendously delusional gibberish at face value.”

Writing in the New European, Richard Porrit has this: “Deluded: May again claims whole country is uniting behind Brexit“.

The Guardian has this:  “What Brexit should have taught us about voter manipulation – The EU referendum was won by the side with the means to distribute the most plausible lies through social media“.

Finally, the Financial Times has this by Nick Clegg: “Theresa May’s Brexit stance has not softened but now it must – The prime minister if bold could salvage something in the talks“.

Although Mr Clegg is unquestionably right – one cannot be hopeful that common sense will prevail in Downing Street.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and we have just suffered the Wicked Witch’s attempt to do just that – delivering an “Easter Message” to the profanum vulgus.

Coming together to defeat Brexit

The G-7 – a  lesson on the consequences of Brexit

Boris3It was to be expected.  The Telegraph has this: “Boris Johnson fails to secure backing of the G7 nations for swift sanctions against Russia and Syria“.   But it is good to see that the Telegraph also has this piece: “Boris Johnson ‘not to blame’ for failed Russia sanctions at the G7, former foreign minister says“.  As the articles make clear, Germany, Italy  and the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs all rejected the proposals of Clown Boris.

The fact is that EU Member States always seek to have a united position before participating in wider meetings such as the G-7.  That’s is encouraged by the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs.  Formerly, by virtue of the “special relationship” with the USA, a British Foreign Secretary had considerable influence in the development of any EU foreign policy stance.

Now, by reason of the Brexit notification, the UK is no longer an insider in the EU looking out, but an off-shore outsider looking in.

Mrs May had wished to continue to play a central role in EU affairs until the UK ceased to be a Member state, but at her first EU summit last October she was told in no uncertain terms that this would not be possible – see: “May: UK will remain at centre of EU decision-making until Brexit – Prime minister angers European leaders at first EU summit by saying Britain wants to maintain central role until it leaves“.

The Wicked Witch and her Clown Boris

ww-westminsterThere are some stories about the relationship between the Prime Minister and her Foreign Secretary.  The Guardian’s Martin Kettle writes this:  “Boris Johnson is largely toothless. And that’s just how Theresa May likes it“.  Mr Kettle makes these points:

  • British foreign secretaries are not in charge of British foreign policy. British prime ministers are their own foreign secretaries now, and have been since at least Margaret Thatcher’s time.
  • There remain big differences between the prime minister, who is conscientious and hardworking to a fault, and her foreign secretary, who has a record of being lazy and winging it
  • The main reason why May is happy with Johnson being where he is concerns domestic politics. The permanently ambitious Johnson remains May’s chief potential rival.  With Brexit now beginning to take shape, she wants him in the government tent, not outside it.

The Independent’s John Rentoul has a similar piece: “Is Boris Johnson’s blunder proof that he’s a political court jester, or a sign that he knows he will never be PM?“:-

  • The Foreign Secretary is the second-most popular politician in Britain, overtaken only, when she became Prime Minister, by Theresa May herself.
  • Johnson has been unsackable for the past nine months, as the most important member of the Brexit ring of steel around the PM in the Cabinet. Now that May has invoked Article 50, however, she does not need her human shield so much, although it would still be damaging to her to lose him.

Interestingly, Paul Goodman writes on the Conservative Home website: “May has Johnson exactly where she wants him” – and this may well be a correct assessment.

The Guardian has this: “Boris Johnson is a liability for Britain, says John McDonnell – Shadow chancellor says foreign secretary’s ‘poor judgment’ undermines UK credibility, adding that even cabinet has no confidence in him“.

This article is a bad case of the pot calling the kettle black

Any list of the people undermining the UK’s credibility should have the Leader of the Labour Party right at the top of the list.

The Independent  carries this piece by Chuka Umunna MP, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary:  “Theresa May’s Brexit plan makes no sense for Britain but all the sense in the world for internal Tory politics – The Prime Minister is scared stiff of the hard right of her party – the people who campaigned for Brexit, helped destroy David Cameron, and would destroy her if she questioned their ideology“.

As his Wikipedia entry shows, Mr Umunna is a pretty high-powered guy.  An example of his ability is that he had the good sense to resign from the Shadow Cabinet and return to the back benches when the dreadful Jeremy Corbyn was elected as Labour leader.

CorbynJust yesterday the Independent reported “Theresa May takes 37-point lead over Jeremy Corbyn in new poll – The poll of more than 10,000 British adults found that 55 per cent think the current Prime Minister is the best choice for the role“.  Analysis of the impact of Brexit by former Tory donor Lord Ashcroft found that 55 per cent of the poll of more than 10,000 UK adult respondents believe the current Prime Minister is the best choice for the role compared to 18 per cent who favour Mr Corbyn.  In a further blow to the Labour leader, only 38 per cent of his party’s supporters would prefer him in Downing St, compared to 29 per cent who believe Ms May is more suited to the job. 33 per cent said they do not know.

Predictions are that Labour will lose between 50 and 100 seats in the local government elections in May.  With HM Opposition in such disarray, whom can we turn to?

Tim Farron to the Rescue?

The Guardian has this: “Brexit vote is making UK a laughing stock abroad, says Tim Farron – Liberal Democrat leader says ‘malevolent forces’ such as Nigel Farage are tarnishing Britain’s image after EU referendum“.  The opening sets the tone for the article:

There is no doubt about it: this Conservative Government is hurtling like a runaway train towards a hard, ideological Brexit, with a weak Prime Minister lacking the guts to stand up to the reckless right-wingers sitting in the driving seat.”

Credence is given to this by this in the Financial Times: “Theresa May ensures only Brexit key allows entry to No 10 – Business leaders find access to PM elusive and there are unwritten rules“.

The sooner the sane remainers in the Conservative Party, the more sensible people in the Labour Party, the members of the Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats make common cause, the better.

Time for Some Changes ?

Is Mr Toad really the Witch’s Best Friend ?

toadwitchThe  Telegraph has this on Mr Toad’s latest little adventure:  “Syria crisis: Russia raises prospect of war if it is given G7 ultimatum as it mocks Boris Johnson’s no-show“.   The Guardian has this: “Syria conflict: Russia must act now to end bloodshed, says Fallon – UK defence secretary says Moscow directly complicit in suffering, writing that ‘latest war crime happened on their watch’.

The Independent reports: “Russia and Iran warn US they will ‘respond with force’ if red lines crossed in Syria again – Threat comes after UK Defence Secretary demands Vladimir Putin rein in President Bashar al-Assad“.

US Commentators

trumpvstoadSteve Coll writes in the New Yorker: “Trump’s Confusing Strike on Syria – If President Trump broadens his aims against Assad, he will enter the very morass that Candidate Trump warned against.”    Mr Coll describes the civil war in Syria as “the worst geopolitical disaster of the twenty-first century” but he is rightly concerned about the consequences.

Likewise, Ezra Klein writing in VOX opined: “Trump’s foreign policy is dangerously impulsive – Trump needs a foreign policy, not just reactions to what he sees on cable news“.  Mr Klein puts the problem pithily:   “This, above all else, is what is worrying about Trump on foreign policy: He is unpredictable and driven by whims. He is unmoored from any coherent philosophy of America’s role in the world, and no one — perhaps not even him — truly knows what he’ll do in the event of a crisis“.

Bloomberg’s Editorial Board has this: “Making the Syria Strikes Count” – well reasoned from a US perspective, the Editorial concludes: “When he visits Moscow next week, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will need to present a credible plan not only to eradicate the Islamic State threat, but to create a limited safe zone for Syrian civilians and accelerate Assad’s transition from power. Tillerson’s mission will be to convince Putin that any hope of a U.S.-Russia rapprochement will depend on how helpful the latter proves to be in Syria.

The Washington Post has this: “Could it be? Is President Trump on a roll?” with this telling comment: “Most analysts and political commentators are describing the attack as a calculated, level-headed decision by a president whose foreign policy disposition has been ambiguous. And oh, by the way, it doesn’t hurt that Trump did something so adverse to Russia in Syria. It showed that Trump is perfectly capable of acting with brutal hostility toward a vital interest of Vladimir Putin’s.”

Boris3
Clown Boris and “Smart Diplomacy”

Writing in the New York Times this morning, Antony J. Blinken, a Deputy Secretary of State in the Obama Administration, offers this Op-Ed: “After the Missiles, We Need Smart Diplomacy on Syria“.   Well, if “smart diplomacy” is needed, then HM’s present Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs is not the right person and the Wicked Witch of Westminster seems to agree with that.  Interestingly,  as appears from the Telegraph and Guardian articles, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon was the government spokesperson on Mr Toad’s latest adventure.

The Independent has this: “Boris Johnson cancels Russia trip after US air strikes in Syria – A visit by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will go ahead, while Mr Johnson gathers support among G7 nations” but the first posted reader comment on Clown Boris’s diversion from Moscow to the G7 was: “One can’t help wondering what gravitas, statesmanship and authority Bonking Bozo the clown was going to bring to the party. Was he going to hand around the biscuits perhaps?

The Financial Times has this: “Russia needs American help to seal the deal in Syria – After the air strikes, closer co-operation between Putin and Trump is more likely

The Financial Times also has this: “Trump sends aircraft carrier to waters off Korea – Experts divided over effectiveness of US tactics against Pyongyang’s nuclear threat“.

The Spectator has this: “North Korea must be tamed and Donald Trump is right to take action – The US President may be a reckless hothead but the world cannot tolerate a rogue state with nuclear missiles“.

ww-westminsterOne can see why the Wicked Witch of Westminster must needs cautiously support Mr Toad on these issues and it was probably wise of her to agree to have the US Secretary of State to deal with the Russians and to limit Clown Boris to the G7 meeting.

However, one op-ed in the Independent had this: “Theresa May deliberately humiliated Boris Johnson this week – her disdain for him is reaching dangerous levels – No one wants to become the latest poster boy for British subservience to Washington, or to wake on the Sabbath to ‘Boris the poodle’ (Moscow’s description). But May knew she couldn’t send him on a delicate mission with his counterpart Lavrov“.

The Guardian has this: “Russia decries cancelled Boris Johnson visit and warns on further Syria attacks – Moscow says decision to cancel trip shows Britain has no real influence and new aggressions in Syria will be met with force“.

Certainly, Clown Boris does not have the statesmanlike qualities of many of his predecessors in the office he holds.  But then, in reality, the UK is no longer the Great Power we once were.  Our Empire was dismantled in the the years following WW2.

We still have some trappings left – our influence within the Commonwealth – a “special relationship” with the USA – if only because because Americans speak “Murkin” which is a dialect derived from English – a seat on the UN Security Council and influence within the UN, NATO, and  within the EU.  But that latter zone of influence looks as if it is coming to a sorry end.

Worse, Mr Toad seems to wish to encourage the break-up of the European Union and perhaps therefore the reality is that he is no friend of the UK.

 Brexit means that UK world influence will be greatly reduced

Brexit Developments – Gibraltar

Four days ago, the Independent reported: “Brexit: Theresa May and Donald Tusk agree to ‘lower tensions’ over Gibraltar – The Prime Minister met the President of the European Council at Downing Street“.   How nice of Donald Trusk to say so.

But this 3rd April report in the Guardian shows  that Spain has other ideas: “Brexit talks: EU will not go soft on Gibraltar issue, diplomats say – Spain has cultivated support among bloc members over control of the Rock, senior EU diplomats tell the Guardian

Also on 3rd April, the Guardian had this: “‘We’re the sacrificial lamb’: Gibraltarians on Brexit sovereignty row – UK overseas territory could be included in trade deal with Spain’s agreement, says EU. We asked people of the Rock how they feel”.

As log ago as 21st July 2016, the Gibraltar Chronicle had this: “Spain could veto Brexit talks, Margallo says“:  “The Spanish Government will veto the terms of any Brexit negotiation between the UK and the EU that sought to include Gibraltar, Spain’s acting Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo said yesterday….“.

Nobody can say that this was unexpected  We knew it was coming.  On 17th January 2017, the Gibralter Chronicle had this: “Govt’s stark analysis highlights Brexit border challenge“:  “Nearly half of all jobs in Gibraltar would be put at risk by a hard border after Brexit, according to a detailed analysis prepared by the Gibraltar Government. The data, presented as written evidence to the House of Lords EU Select Committee by Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, identifies frontier fluidity as the key concern for Gibraltar as Britain prepares to withdraw from the European Union.”

Since the evidence was presented to the House of Lords, one would have though that the Wicked Witch and Clown Boris would have taken Gibraltar’s problem very much into account when preparing the Article 50 Notice.  It appears they didn’t bother.

On 6th April 2017 the Gibraltar Chronicle had this: “Clause 22 may yet change, for better or worse“.

Spain has been working on recovering Gibraltar ever since it was ceded to the British Crown in 1713 by the Treaty of Utrecht.  It will not give up easily.  

Brexit and Scotland

4 days ago, the Independent had this:  “Scotland rejoining EU would be ‘relatively speedy’, says senior German MEP – ‘If the political agreement would be there, then the process would be relatively speedy. Scotland is a member of the European Union and fulfils all of the conditions,’ says CDU member Elmar Brok“.

That is good news for Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP,  possibly also  for Scottish businesses – especially those in the financial services sector – indeed it could even result in some financial services players in England deferring Brexit relocation decisions and moving north of Hadrian’s Wall rather than relocating to Frankfurt, Paris or Dublin.

The Scotsman has this: “SNP could push through indyref2 bill to force May’s hand“.

may99Interestingly, the Scottish Sunday Herald has this: “Thumbs up for Nicola Sturgeon as other politicians see negative approval rating“.  A Lord Ashcroft Poll gave the First Minister a +11% approval rating with a -21% rating for her Conservative opponent and a -23% rating for Teresa May.  So the Wicked Witch of Westminster can stop interrogating her mirror!

Brexit and Free Movement

A week ago, the Independent and Open Britain launched a campaign:  “Drop the Target: Theresa May must scrap goal of reducing net migration below 100,000 a year – Campaign launched by The Independent and Open Britain is being supported by MPs across the political spectrum“.   That makes sense.  The target was never realistic.

Three days ago, the Independent had this: “Boris Johnson says freedom of movement can continue after Brexit – Foreign Secretary claims to be ‘one of the few British politicians to speak up on the benefits of immigration’“.

Yesterday the Independent has this: “Drop The Target: Senior Conservative MPs demand five-year immigration ban – Pro-Brexit politicians tell PM their hardline plan ‘will deliver on the will of the electorate’“.  According to the newspaper report, the messenger acting for the Leave Means Leave cabal was one Stephen Woolfe MEP, a former UKIP member who is now an Independent.  (Click on his name for his details on Wikipedia which are not impressive).

On the Leave Means Leave website, the following Members of Parliament are named as being members of this entity’s “Political Advisory Board” or as “Supporters”.  Their names below carry links to their respective Wikipedia entries.

People who live in the above-mentioned constituencies and who do not support a hard Brexit might want to consider the possibility of switching their support – for example to the Liberal Democrats: “The only party fighting to keep Britain open, tolerant and united“.

On 5th April 2017 the New Statesman had this “Exclusive: Conservative poll showed party would “lose seats” to the Liberal Democrats – Election strategist Lynton Crosby warned the party would lose MPs to the Lib Dems in an early election, sources say“.  According to the article, polling showed that the Conservatives would lose about 27 of the Conservative gains from the Liberal Democrats in the 2015 election.

On 6th April 2017 the New Statesman followed up with this: “What would be a good night for the Liberal Democrats in the 2017 local elections? – Tim Farron’s party have a favourable map and scope for gains“.

Obviously, one cannot be sure what outcome of future elections will be but the Conservative Majority in the present Parliament is small.  Over the two year period to Brexit there may well be changes.  One can only hope.