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.
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.
“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.
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.”
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 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 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.
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.
Yesterday, 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 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.
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.
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.”
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.
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 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.
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 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 become 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.
This 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.
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! .
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.
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.
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:-
“So 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.”
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.
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 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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.”
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.
One 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.