Oopsie!

The croft in the Highlands scenario just became a viable option

The croft in the Highlands scenario just became a viable option

The REME vehicle mechanics had been working on the engine pack throughout the night. As dawn rose through the mist on the North German Plain Bombardier Clark turned to me and said, ‘Well Sir, I reckon the things properly fxcking fxcked.’ Bombardier Clark had a way with words which I find difficult to better this morning as I survey the train wreck that is the election result. 

Tory passengers noticed before the driver did that something was awry

Tory passengers noticed before the driver did that something was awry

Despite all the opposition parties swaggering around the studios like winners there aren’t any really. Except for Jeremy Corbyn personally, house prices in Scotland and Ruth Davidson. The parliamentary Labour Party have just been handed their worst nightmare. New Labour is history and New Old Labour is here to stay given that Corbyn’s position is unassailable. Theresa May is on political life-support and will in all likelihood be gone by mid morning or will give notice to leave, (although the BBC are now signalling she intends to stay). I expect you could then say that Boris is a potential winner but he, or whoever the Tories elect, will be handed a chalice laced with political arsenic. One of the things I got right, and there weren’t many, was that Ruth Davidson would shine and she has with a genuinely robust set of wins in Scotland which has nobbled IndyRef 2. The SNP though will have more influence at Westminster than before. The Lib Dems went nowhere and UKIP did every bit as badly as we expected.  The Europeans meanwhile are not happy. They wanted a strong and unified set of negotiators on the other side of the table.

As an act of national collective madness this will take some beating. I look at the fact that so many misguided half-wits voted for a man who supported terrorists uninterrupted for 30 years with bewildering incredulity. The not so nice part of me thinks, ‘Stuff it. I hope you get your grand coalition. Your loans might go down but there will be no jobs for you at the end of it.’ The Conservatives have however, only themselves to blame as I explained in a previous post. They might have been hearing but they weren’t listening. That under 30’s, of all previous political hues and family backgrounds, lurched to Labour is an unforgivable dereliction of responsibility by the Tories. 

One thing is for sure and for certain; we will have another election this year. We’re turning into bloody Italy. This morning, the croft plan doesn't seem so silly. The only, and I do mean the only mitigation in staying up all night was Emily Maitlis in that red dress. I think Bombardier Clark would concur.

Are We There Yet?

"Election Warms Up". Good coverage of the  General Election (in 1964)

One day to go until the Election and most of the parties will be wishing they could wind the clock back and start again. Led by the Conservatives, with the worst campaign in memory and about as interesting as toothache, most of the parties set low standards, failed to achieve them and have been in defensive mode from the get-go. The Liberals seemed to wandering around in a baffled daze wondering where the buses went. They were left behind at the start line when they put all their eggs in the basket marked, ‘cross about Brexit,’ without it having dawned on them that most of the ’48%,’ had moved on. (Tim Farron incidentally is rumoured to be vulnerable tomorrow). UKIP’s engines blew up when they turned the key while the SNP charged off at 100 miles an hour but in the wrong direction, having made the same miscalculation as the Liberals and subsequently went back to start again focusing on public services while under unremitting pressure for Ruth Davidson. The clear campaigning winner is Comrade Corbyn who has successfully rewritten the narrative of his personal support of terrorist groups over 30 years and presented a platform of reasonable unreasonableness by promising lots of free stuff to anyone with a hand out whether they need free stuff or not. As one member of a Question Time audience described it, ‘your manifesto reads like a letter to Santa Claus.’ It is easily the most mendacious, devious and manipulative campaign by Labour that I can recall. But clever nonetheless. So, May will win tomorrow but hasn’t really earned it. But why has CC done so well and May so badly?

The Conservative campaign has been described as ‘presidential.’ My view is that the Prime Minister initially set out to attempt to be anything but presidential. I believe her aim was to restore some gravitas and dignity to the office and to do so by avoiding electioneering stunts with hi-vis jackets and hard hats or rolled up sleeves with a pint in hand being a ‘man of the people,' as every PM since Mrs T has at some point attempted and mostly failed to do. The approach has failed though. She has come across more as something between a sub post office mistress and a doctors receptionist. Worse, until this week those ministers with a strong intellectual belief and understanding of their departments and policies, and a charm with which to communicate them, have been hidden from view. The manifesto was, I thought, much better than the press it received suggested. Despite being more 6 null Left wing than I would like I think I understand what the intended broad thrust was. In fact, it was woefully undersold and there were plenty of points which have resonance with the electorate that deserved some flesh on the bones such as the aspirations to build out the digital infrastructure so that every home has access to hi speed broadband by 2020. 

The Conservative manifesto also suggests a policy of student debt forgiveness for student nurses but is limited in its scope. The Conservatives should listen to Crumble, expand it and make a noise about it. I have long argued against the current loan regime, (how can a compound rate of 6.5% be justified in the current low rate environment? It is usury, plain and simple. A £42k student debt with compound interest at 6.5% will be £80k in ten years time). At a minimum, HMG should be offering students electing to do courses which have a direct benefit to the country, (computer science, medical, social work, teaching etc) and where there is need, discounts which increase with length of service. This should be extended to those who subsequently go into a government job where they make a career sacrifice to do so. Further, young people who engage in voluntary work on either a charitable or local government basis, join initiatives such as Teach First, or serve in the Reserves should also benefit from a discount. Given most loans will anyway remain unpaid HMG may as well attempt to derive some benefit from them for the national good. In committing to this the Conservatives would lay the foundation for some sort of vision for the under 30’s which has been the biggest miss of the entire campaign. In fact, the Tories have been watching a completely different movie and have left the young with little incentive to vote for them. Usually, when people start talking about ‘the vision,’ it is time to switch off and walk away but in this instance, a better articulated view of how the UK is going to come to terms with accelerating developments in computer power, automation, robotics and biotech against a backdrop of rapidly changing demographics would have been a good thing. A simple statement such as ‘All primary school children will be taught elementary coding by part time students and graduates who will enjoy a level of student debt relief commensurate with commitments made,’ would at least put a marker down and be duly noted by the young vote. Oh and while I am on the subject of students it’s about time HMG shook down the universities and tackled head-on the weak value proposition that so many students are paying for in terms of poor and sporadic teaching on three year courses which, in many subjects, could easily be done in two.

The Dementia Tax episode was just woeful. Again, there is some good rationale to it which would leave most if not all better off than they would be today but the delivery was mistimed and misunderstood. The big, (and getting bigger), problem we have in the UK is that since Labour years ago weaponised the NHS the chances of having a rational discussion about it are round about zero. Back in 1978 my geography teacher, Mr MacKay told us that with the then rate of growth by 2027 we would all either be working for the NHS or be patients of the NHS. Mr McKay was a lot smarter than most of our politicians. Their selfish and infantile thinking precludes debate about potentially innovative and creative solutions to a growing problem and 6 null is contemptible. The other big problem for the NHS is that it has become the default dustbin for everyone in society with any kind of problem, medical or not. That, with a galloping sense of entitlement encouraged by idiot politicians from its users produces unsustainable and unreasonable demand. If citizens in Ireland pay for GP’s appointments what makes us so special that we shouldn’t do the same? The whole national approach to the NHS, and the expectations that we have of it are in heavy need of recalibration rather than the national state of denial which exists. A general election though, is not the time to do it.

Tory strategists clearly thought they were being clever by occupying the centre ground and edging slightly to the left, presumably with the intention of pushing Corbyn further out to the extremes of policy. Unfortunately for them, they were left looking flat-footed when Corbyn outflanked them and has had the bare faced cheek, as someone who has voted against all Anti Terrorisim Acts, to start selling himself as a friend of the police and security services and a bastion of law and order. I am left incredulous that some believe the outrageous nonsense he has been promulgating. Fortunately, the electorate are not as stupid as Corbyn needs them to be in order to win. Let’s though, just remind ourselves of some of the things that would disappear if Comrade Corbyn actually won, (I'll see you all in the hills then....)

The Monarchy

The SAS

Special Branch

The 'Five Eyes' Intelligence Sharing Agreement

Winning

Foreign Corporations

Low Interest rates

Synagogues

Gibraltar

High Net Worth Individuals

Scotland

Foreign Investment

All the Regimental Silver (to be returned to its original owners)

Tax Receipts

The Elgin Marbles (and everything else cluttering up the British Museum)

Public Schools, Grammar Schools, Academies

The Falklands

Trident

The House of Lords

Our International Reputation

Statues of famous statesmen

Northern Ireland

Premium of the pound over the Euro

 

 

 

 

Time Out

So, home a tad late to a warm welcome from the dogs and Shepherds Pie, ‘it’s in the oven.’ With 48 hours to go until the election, and the servers of the Social Media companies smokin’ as they go into Warp Factor 5 overdrive with a digital frenzy being unleashed by political supporters of all sides, I’m taking a time-out for a moment to share my all-time favourite ad. 

Scared Rabbits

Jeremy Corbyn is not having a very good day. Running over a BBC cameraman's leg is not usually the sort of voter friendly PR which helps political campaigns, although I doubt very much the BBC will cover it much. It's all rush, rush, rush to get to the next photo op in front of a group of mannequins holding placards as veteran Rob Gray discovered yesterday in York. Mr Gray shouted a question to Corbyn who was on stage outside. Mr Gray wanted to know what Corbyns position was on the pursuit and possible prosecution of Northern Ireland veterans. Mr Corbyn said he would come down and speak to Mr Gray. Instead he hurried off in the opposite direction while Mr Gray's path was blocked by a minder.

This kind of antiseptic and choreographed campaigning is endemic in British politics. It wasn't always so. There was a time when politicians were expected to prove themselves in front of their voters, when unrehearsed heckling and questioning was part of the game and politicians were expected to show a little more grit. The last time we saw such an exercise was Labour's Jim Murphy in 2014 when he did his 'No,' 100 towns in 100 days tour throughout Scotland. Before then? Well, you perhaps have to go back quite a while. I accept that politicians then did not have to face 24 hour news or any small verbal indescretion instantly being pinged around the world but the current state of affairs lacks balance. This piece from Newsnight from a couple of years ago adequately sums up where we are and where we have come from,

Brenda from Bristol with Crumble from Compton

Brenda from Bristol has a few words to say on behalf of all of us

Tonight, fifty or more Labour Members of Parliament will be staring into the bottom of their glasses contemplating P45's thudding onto their door mats in fifty one days time with love and best wishes from the Great British Public, (although it is regrettable to see that someone of Alan Johnson's calibre is standing down). Many of them will see it as a merciful release from the hell that is public life under their inept comedy act of a leader, Jeremy Corbyn. With all leave cancelled for political journalists the rest of us will be subjected to a daily battering from the media, led by that ghastly Kuensberg woman on the BBC. Thankfully, British elections are relatively short and sharp affairs and with the better weather, I am sure we'll muddle through as usual.

Theresa May has made what is probably the right decision in the best interests of the country, standing as she does at an extraordinary confluence of political events. If she gets the result she is aiming for it will strengthen our negotiating stance with Europe and indeed, will probably be welcomed by most of Europe who are if anything more keen to get the ball rolling to end the uncertainty for themselves inside the union. For her personally, she has launched a thundering broadside at her critics which is a bit cruel given the disarray her opponents are in but politically, is very astute.

Enquiring minds might though, be wondering if there are any other reasons which might explain why she has pulled the trigger now?

Of course there are.

I have been thinking for some time that Tony Blair is up to something. It was always unlikely that his ego would allow him to stand idly by and allow the Corbyn faction to completely purge the Labour Party and its machinery of all Blairites and everything they stand for. I also think whatever his plans are, they probably involve the repatriation of the exiled David Milliband from New York. That being the case it makes sense for Theresa May to announce an election before New Labour, or Old New Labour or whatever they'll call themselves have chance to launch and gain party and electoral traction. Clearly, inevitable electoral evisceration on the 8th June will trigger a Labour split or reverse takeover by the moderates but that, in whatever form, if successful still leaves them staring down the barrel of a new five year Tory term rather than the three that was left on the clock until this morning.

Second, my personal view of stock markets is that there is a high probability of a significant market event in the August - November time frame. I expect weakness in April to continue but rather than the 'sell in May and go away and don't come back 'till St Ledger Day,' mantra, I think we'll have a pretty strong summer rally. That will be the concluding move in what is a very mature bull market. The fall out from this market event will be significant, marking as it will not just the conclusion of the rally from the 2009 low but the end of much longer market cycles. I'll cover this in more detail another time but suffice to say, better to be Prime Minister with four years still on the clock, rather than eighteen months, when a bad thing happens economically.

Third, the summer Mediterranean Migration season has kicked off with large inflatables carrying hundreds of migrants leaving Turkey and Libya every day. This season is predicted to be a big one. If Turkey continues down the route it has chosen then a breakdown in relations with the EU could see the collapse of the agreement between the EU and Turkey to manage the flow of migrants. Pictures on our television news will not harm the Conservative campaign and will no doubt influence the imminent French elections and those in Germany later this year.

I'll be keeping a keen eye open for entertainment from Jezza and LibDem fall guy Tim Fallon who would look over-promoted running a minor branch of McDonalds. In fact, if he had four pens in his top pocket and a bunch of keys hanging off his belt he would be that man. The best fun though will be found watching the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson. That woman is a feisty ball of fire and would make a great soldier...... except once she was.

"Exit light, Enter night, Take my hand, We're off to Never-Never land?"

I can't believe we really deserve this..

Here we are then. The appointed day after far too long and assanine a campaign which has lacked vision and truthfulness. The electorate have been treated like children with each party competing to scare us away from one party or the other. That they have all failed miserably to articulate a pathway that meets the hopes, dreams and aspirations of citizens is actually as tragic as it is an acute moral and political failure.

A missed opportunity doesn't come close to describing the paucity of original thought which is badly needed to meet the demands and accelerating evolution of the domestic and geopolitical world which is pressing in on us. Not to mention economic fragility, demographic pressures and a continuing technology revolution which will see 50% of white collar jobs replaced by a commuter chip or robot within 20 years. Westminster and all it encompasses; politicians, advisors, spin misters, lobbyists, the media - either they are all deeply cynical in a contemptible and mendacious way or they are simply self obsessed stupid people. We have in fact, after all that campaigning, very little hard evidence on which to make a decision and the consequences may be grave. 

another contrived and stage managed talk

Here then, are my top gripes from the last six weeks,

  • "I've talked to lots of ordinary people up and down the country." How many times have we heard that, (insert name of major party leader here). No you haven't. You've purposely been kept in a bubble away from normal people because you don't know how to communicate with them and your minders want to avoid any blowback from any disgruntled individual you might meet. 
  • Ed Milliband telling us the NHS will suddenly disappear under any other government. This rings all the bells. Untruthful, scaremongering and cowardly. The whole population can see the NHS is unsustainable in its current form for all the reasons that are evident to every family in the land. Free cradle to grave health care without restraint for every citizen employing every single facet of pharmaceutical and medical engineering advance is simply a black hole that will swallow the entire economy. Thats been known for decades. Its obvious that none will have the stones to face up to the problem right up until we reach the point of crisis. That means people will suffer and die before we begin to come up with creative solutions to meet the challenge.
  • Odd how minor matters such as Defence, Britain's role in the world in respect of foreign policy and our relationship with organisations like NATO and the Commonwealth have all but been swept under the carpet. Sure, we sent HMS Bulwark to the Med under the "Something Must Be Done," flag but I haven't seen for example, any earnest debate about the vast migration from Sub Saharan and North Africa which faces Europe and which too, has been forecast for decades.
  • Surgin' Sturgeon, that irritating women whose head wobbles like a Thunderbird puppet has done a spectacular job for someone who isn't even standing in the election. The media have of course fed the monster rather than doing their job in unpicking and unravelling the absurd demands, promises and fantasies promulgated by the SNP which for some bizarre reason are accepted as factual by all except those who quietly brood in the stillness of their own homes, worrying about the nasty and intolerant place their country is becoming. 
  • The BBC found, probably by accident, some mitigation in the Leeds debate but overall their coverage has been anything but fair and balanced. The journalists simply can't help themselves and their in built institutional left wing bias always finds a way of seeping through. As I mentioned in a previous post, Andrew Neil is probably the hero of the campaign and one of the few who has called the political class to account. He's been a joy to watch.
  • A glaring characteristic of the campaign has been the vast array of political figures who have been kept in their box throughout. Obviously, the spinmeisters decided early on that anyone with the least bit controversial views should be hidden away. They were, which has made the whole thing very dull indeed. How many times have you seen Ed Balls for example, Michael Gove or Eric Pickles?
  • Talking of Mr Pickles, just think Eric, if I may call you that, how easy a runaway election this would have been for your party if only you'd kept your promise to get the bloody wheelie bins emptied every week. This is the United Kingdom yet rubbish collection is more irregular than it was fifty years ago and more in keeping with that seen in a Peruvian shanty town than a modern advanced economy. Yes, just hand over two grand a year in council tax and drive your refuse to the recycling place yourself because we can't be bothered. Perhaps they kept Eric off the box in case someone nailed him on that, I certainly would.
  • Perish the thought but this incidentally, is not an election that anyone should perhaps actually want to win. The incumbent is most likely to remembered in history for a thousand years as the man who presided over the break-up of the United Kingdom. He will definately face a recession and probable economic crisis, that is simply as unavoidable as it is cyclical. A cursory glance at the numbers tells us that and no, the next one won't be a surprise, "none saw it coming." Plenty of people are writing and warning now. I find it beyond reason that all the parties happily expound their views on how to spend more money but not not how to create wealth. Beyond our shores, after years of ill thought out meddling by the West in the Middle East, it is now on fire. We can't ignore it indefinitely although our political elite are doing a pretty good job of it.
  • The amount of spending plans resting on taxing houses within the Circle Line is just madness; don't they realise houses can simply fall in value? Perhaps they might like to acquaint themselves with the deflation monster which is being exported from China and which is pulsing throughout western economies creating fiscal havoc.
  • If the major parties care as much as they tell us they do about the United Kingdom, why has no one discussed or debated the potential for a short term government of national unity to see off the SNP?
  • Who on earth thought it was fair or reasonable to give that deluded looney Trotskyist from the Green Party a national platform while ignoring the DUP from Northern Ireland? It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
  • Russell Brand, seriously?
  • The smell of corruption surrounding postal votes which remains unaddressed. 

Well, we are where we are and goodness knows where that leads us to this time next week. There will be surprises and moments of incredulity aplenty tonight. Myself, I'll be at the Guards Museum for dinner following a talk on the battle of Waterloo, the battle that really cemented this nation as one, banished the Napoleonic threat for ever and provided the security on which the Empire was built. I shall enjoy that a good deal more than I have this election.

Shaking The Magic Money Tree

Base_Rates2.png

Politicians of all hues are tripping over themselves to shake the Magic Money Tree and over what amounts to electoral bribes to entice marginal voters over the line. If they're not careful, some of those voters might cross the line and fall of the cliff.

Interest rates are at never seen before lows. In fact, you'd have to be a Time Lord to go back far enough, (beyond 1800), to see anything similar. When rates rise then, while some borrowers may have locked their rates in, (that is a must-do for everyone anyway), everything else they have borrowed will rise  and they'll rise steeply. Don't expect any reasonable or fair relationship between modest bank rate rises and say, for example, credit card rates or personal loan rates.

If any of these dunderheeds wanted to present a fair and reasonable playing fields for first time buyers they would equalise the anomaly that leads to English youngsters being £30-40k in debt before they start when they're competing for housing with kids from elsewhere in the UK who have that edge on them. I asked a young man the other day who is newly arrived in the job market if I was right in my assertion that most young people in England don't feel strongly about Scottish Independence. "On the contrary he said, I find a growing resentment that our taxes are paying for benefits like university education that is blocked to us and its tougher for us to borrow for house purchases than someone newly arrived in London from Scotland."