Goodbye to the Month of May

 Is the Wicked Witch a Liar ?

theresa-may-speechThe Independent had this: “Theresa May ‘liar’ song now at number three in iTunes download charts – A petition is gaining traction to make radio stations play the tune“.

The Independent also had this: “General election: Labour close gap on Tories to six points, new poll shows – Labour put on 37 per cent, up three points on a week ago and six points behind the Tories“.

YouGov had this: “Labour’s manifesto launch has gone much better for them than the Conservatives’”  Key points:-

  • For Labour the more “positive” policies received clear cut-through: 32% of people recalled the pledges to axe tuition fees, 21% remembered promises to increase NHS funding, 20% recalled commitments to nationalise the railways, Royal Mail and the National Grid. All of these are also policies which our polling has found the public support, and which are relatively clear and easy to understand.
  • For the Conservatives, though, only one policy was recalled by more than a fifth of voters: the changes to care funding (or, to use the more negative term used by many respondents, the “dementia tax”). The one cut-through promise from the Tory manifesto was both unpopular and complicated, a stark comparison to the more straight-forward and popular pledges made by Labour.

The Independent also had this: “Theresa May’s plan to slash net migration to tens of thousands would double unemployment, study warns – British workers would be the main losers from lower economic growth, research finds“.

The Guardian had this very good sketch by John Grace of the Witch’s performance at the Paxman TV debate: ” ‘It’s very clear’: May disappears into a dreamland of her own – While Jeremy Paxman at least allowed her to get a word in edgeways, Theresa May did her best to fill 22 minutes with the deadest of dead air

ww-westminsterThe Times has this on the Wicked Witch’s Lynton Crosby inspired closing: “May woos working class with tough line on Brexit – PM vows to reject Brussels demands over immigration” – she is going to argue that she is best placed to negotiate Brexit terms.

Whether the end of the month of May will also mean the end of the Wicked Witch of Westminster as Prime Minister, will not be known until the results of the 8th June 2017 General Election are known.

Conservatives should be worried

The Torygraph Telegraph had this: “How likely is the General Election 2017 to result in a hung parliament?“.   The article is noteworthy because after analysis of the most recent You-Gov projections – which are novel and tentative – the article goes on to explain the parliamentary conventions in the event of a “hung” Parliament outcome.

The Telegraph is a broadsheet newspaper of record with an international reputation. In modern times there have always been strong personal links between the paper’s editors and the leadership of the Conservative Party.  The paper’s generally right-wing stance and influence over Conservative activists, explain why it is often referred to as “The Torygraph.   When the Torygraph is worried, so is the Conservative Party.

theresa-may-speechThe Torygraph also had this: “‘Missing, Where’s Theresa?’ Social media roasts Prime Minister for not turning up at BBC debate“.  The article refers to the Twitter reaction which can be seen here: Twitter Government Status page.  Not only is the Torygraph worried, the Conservative Home website has this: “Our survey. The Conservative election campaign fails to enthuse Party members“.

The Independent had this: “Teresa May savaged by party leaders for debate no-show: ‘Good leaders don’t run away’” – there are some good clips of key moments which are being shared on social media.

The front page of The Times (£) had this:  “Poll firm predicts shock losses for Theresa May’s Tories at general election – Controversial YouGov estimate points to hung parliament with 20 fewer seats for May“.  According to The Times report:-

  • The Conservative Party could be in line to lose 20 seats and Labour gain nearly 30 in next week’s general election, according to new modelling by one of the country’s leading pollsters.
  • The central projection of the model, which allows for a wide margin of error, would be a catastrophic outcome for Theresa May, who called the election when polls pointed to a landslide result. Her support appears to have plunged after the poor reception of the party manifesto, including plans to make more elderly voters pay for home care.

The Independent had the story too:  “Tories to fall short of outright majority and face hung parliament, new poll analysis predicts – YouGov predicts the Conservatives may win just 310 seats – 16 shy of an absolute majority“.

It is, however, important to note that YouGov’s predictions are based on fairly new techniques and may not be as accurate as YouGov may hope.  Only the actual election results will determine how accurate they were.

The Independent also had this:  “Theresa May losing the general election would be good for the pound, says JP Morgan – The Conservative’s commitment to hard Brexit is bad for the UK currency, so even a hung parliament could be better than a Tory majority, US bank says“.

brexitgunNote: Teresa May worked for the Bank of England 1997-1983 and from 1985-1997 for the Association of Payment Clearing Services.  It  is quite some achievement for a Conservative PM with that depth of banking background to have the bankers hoping she will lose an election – that’s a fate normally reserved for Labour Prime Ministers!

The Guardian had this by its Political Editor:  “Theresa May gets personal in attack on Jeremy Corbyn as election polls narrow – Tories try to contrast the PM and the Labour leader, who she claims would go ‘alone and naked’ into Brexit negotiations“.

As the Guardian points out, the Wicked Witch’s “outspoken remarks”  represent an attempt by Conservative strategists (i.e the other “dirty digger”, Sir Lynton Crosby) to refocus the prime minister’s message on a direct comparison between herself and her principal opponent on the basis that “ad hominem”  insults are more effective than reasoned debate on the matters in issue.

More usefully, the UK in a Changing Europe project at King’s College, London, has a useful comparison of the party manifestos: “Manifestos hide truth about Brexit – new report from The UK in a Changing Europe shows“.

Stephen Bush had this The Staggers column of the Spectator: “You Gov’s surprise poll shows whoever wins the election, Theresa May will lose – Polls and forecast showing possibility of a hung parliament are a sign of how well the campaign has gone for Jeremy Corbyn“.

He points to the predicted numbers: Conservative 310 (-20);  Labour 257 (+29); Scottish National Party 50 (-6); Liberal Democrats 10 (+2) and then makes the point that the 18 Northern Ireland seats matter and he refers to the polling reported in the Belfast Telegraph: “Poll: UUP to lose Fermanagh – latest predictions for every Northern Ireland constituency“.

In the UK Parliament, Unionists support the Conservatives  while Seinn Fein have a policy of not taking the seats they win.  If  (as in the just dissolved Parliament) 9 Unionists are returned who would vote with the Conservatives – that gives a projected total of 319.  But it is predicted that Seinn Fein might win Fermanagh and South Tyrone.  That would  put the Conservative support on the projected outcome to Con 310 + NI 8 = 318 while the Opposition might be Labour + SNP + Lib-Dems + SDLP + IND = 257+50+10+3+1 = 321.

Then we had the BBC Leaders’ Debate.  The Witch declined to participate and sent Home Secretary Amber Rudd to speak for the Conservatives. Jeremy Corbyn did appear.

John Rentoul wrote this in the Independent: “The seven-way TV debate: the verdict – The two who mattered in this debate were Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn. She didn’t turn up and he looked as if he wished he hadn’t either“.  It is a fair summary of the rather messy proceedings.

Rather surprisingly, the Political Correspondent of the Times wrote: “Corbyn builds on TV success in leaders debate“.

The Wicked Witch’s Reaction

The Mail had this: “Only seven days to keep Corbyn out of power, Theresa May warns voters: PM to offer upbeat assessment of Brexit that she says will be derailed if she doesn’t win“.

Of course, one does not expect serious probing journalism from the Mail.  The article had these points:

  • PM warns voters to ensure the ‘promise of Brexit’ isn’t squandered by Corbyn
  • Mrs May says Brexit offers the opportunity to build ‘brighter, fairer future for all’
  • Warns ‘great national mission’ will be derailed if she doesn’t win next week’s vote

It is worth remembering what Mrs May was saying in April 2016 before the referendum. See the text of her speech preserved in aspic on the Conservative Home website:  “Theresa May’s speech on Brexit: full text”  with the following key points:-

  • So my judgement, as Home Secretary, is that remaining a member of the European Union means we will be more secure from crime and terrorism.
  • The EU is a single market of more than 500 million people, representing an economy of almost £11 trillion and a quarter of the world’s GDP.  44 per cent of our goods and services exports go to the EU, compared to five per cent to India and China.
  • We have a trade surplus in services with the rest of the EU of £17 billion.  And the trading relationship is more inter-related than even these figures suggest.  Our exporters rely on inputs from EU companies more than firms from anywhere else: nine per cent of the ‘value added’ of UK exports comes from inputs from within the EU, compared to 2.7 per cent from the United States and 1.3 per cent from China.
  • So the single market accounts for a huge volume of our trade, but if it is completed – so there are genuinely open markets for all services, the digital economy, energy and finance – we would see a dramatic increase in economic growth, for Britain and the rest of Europe.  The Capital Markets Union – initiated and led by Britain – will allow finance to flow freely between member states: the first proposal alone could lead to £110 billion in extra lending to businesses.
  • A completed energy single market could save up to £50 billion per year across the EU by 2030.  And a digital single market is estimated to be worth up to £330 billion a year to the European economy overall.  As Britain is the leading country in Europe when it comes to the digital economy, that is an enormous opportunity for us all. 
  • These changes will mean greater economic growth in Britain, higher wages in Britain and lower prices for consumers – in Britain.  But they will not happen spontaneously and they require British leadership.  And that is a crucial point in this referendum: if we leave the EU it is not just that we might not have access to these parts of the single market – these parts of the single market might never be created at all. 
  • If we were not in the European Union, however, no such deal could have been agreed.  There would be little we could do to stop discriminatory policies being introduced, and London’s position as the world’s leading financial centre would be in danger.  The banks may be unpopular, but this is no small risk: financial services account for more than seven per cent of our economic output, thirteen per cent of our exports, a trade surplus of almost £60 billion – and more than one million British jobs.
  • So this is my analysis of the rights and wrongs, the opportunities and risks, of our membership of the EU – and the reasons I believe it is clearly in our national interest to remain a member of the European Union. 
  • And I want to emphasise that I think we should stay inside the EU not because I think we’re too small to prosper in the world, not because I am pessimistic about Britain’s ability to get things done on the international stage.  I think it’s right for us to remain precisely because I believe in Britain’s strength, in our economic, diplomatic and military clout, because I am optimistic about our future, because I believe in our ability to lead and not just follow.

So on the footing that Mrs May’s April 2016 speech represented honestly held beliefs – then it is overwhelmingly in the best interests of the United Kingdom to remain in the Single Market and the Customs Union – even if that means accepting the four freedoms which go with that: the free movement of goods, capital, services, and labour.

The bullet points in the Mail article cannot be reconciled with the speech – and  Mrs May must know that. Either her April 2016 speech was a pack of lies  or her reported contentions in the Mail are a pack of lies.   They cannot both be true.

The Campaign Continues

The Independent also has this “Election 2017: Theresa May to put Brexit at heart of campaign again amid shrinking poll lead – Prime Minister’s renewed pledge to transform the country comes as poll lead falls to three points“.

The Guardian has this incisive op-ed by Anne Perkins: “Theresa May needs Brexit to get her elected – it’s all she has left – The Tories are still favourites to win, but calling a snap election is starting to look foolish, with May’s weaknesses stripping their campaign bare“.

The Evening Standard (now edited by George Osborne) has this:  “UK General Election polls: Jeremy Corbyn in shock surge as Labour leader now more popular than Theresa May in London – Exclusive: Labour enjoys huge 17-point lead in London as Tories face losing seats“.

Ian Duncan Smith (Will Not Be Missed)

The Evening Standard also has this amusing piece on the various fake Tory campaign posters now being seen in London: “Fake Tory posters mocking Theresa May appear at bus stops and on Tube“.

A good selection of downloadable versions may be seen here: Anti Tory Propaganda.

Thus far, a good number of these are appearing at bus stops and in carriages on the Tube.

The Evening Standard also has this: “General Election polls: The four London Tories under threat as polls surge“.  The four Tories named: Gavin Barwell (Croydon Central), James Berry (Kingston & Surbiton), Matthew Offord (Hendon) and Tania Mathias (Twickenham).

The Independent has a similar story about the London situation: “General election poll: Jeremy Corbyn surges ahead of Theresa May in London – The YouGov survey shows Labour surging to a 17 point lead in the UK’s capital

The YouTube version of the Captain SKA song is here:  Captain SKA – Liar Liar GE2017 and it is worth sharing with friends and neighbours during the remaining days until the polls close.

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