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

 

 

 

 

Comrade!

Jeremy Corbyn’s first shadow cabinet meeting

It was clear immediately after the General Election that the Labour Party meltdown would result in them being out of power for ten years. Obliteration in Scotland, forthcoming electoral boundary changes, splits within the party and no coherent vision whatsoever would make sure of that. Not content with being a party without a cause, fractured and humiliated they then set about self-combustion with an political miscalculation of epic proportions in a spectacular weapons grade cock up when some party ‘thinkers,’ decided the so called ‘debate on the future,’ (which never happened), needed some left wing input. They certainly got that. Step forward the sandal wearing bloke who knits his own clothes, eats tofu and cuts his own hair. Friend to every terrorist group and crack pot dictator on the planet, their very own rebel with 500 causes, Jeremy Corbyn; the new Leader of the Opposition. To describe him as a man taking Labour back to its old roots is a dishonest slur on previous mainstream Labour leaders, many of whom like Dennis Healy, (Landing Officer at Anzio), James Callahan, (Royal Navy in the Far East),  Roy Jenkins, (Royal Artillery & Bletchley Park), Merlyn Rees, (Squadron Leader RAF), had an honourable war record. Even Harold Wilson and Michael Foot volunteered but were rejected.

Portrayed as a soft and cuddly, tweed wearing standard bearer for the weak and oppressed he has resolutely failed to support his own party in Parliament on 500 occasions. Let me tell you, he is not soft and cuddly. He is a short tempered individual who takes any criticism poorly and is a leading candidate for the men in flapping white coats to come and carry him away in a white van with a blue flashing light on top. Years ago I lived in Islington and despised and despaired that the local MP was an individual who supported PIRA when they were busy blowing the arms and legs off children in our towns and cities. He supports Hamas, Hezbollah, criticised the SEALs who took out Bin Laden, is sympathetic to ISIS, AQ, the Taliban and Boko Haram and would cede the Falklands to Argentina, leave NATO and abandon Trident. How anyone will find a way of explain this calamitous hotch potch of insane ramblings to Washington goodness only knows. 

Andy Burnham’s campaign team tweeting magnanimity in defeat (subsequently deleted)

While his election reflects a general tide of discontent with mainstream politics, (UKIP and the SNP in the UK, Saunders and Trump in the US, Catalonian separatists, Syriaz in Greece, Le Pen in France), there is a zero possibility of him being elected. He is himself incidentally, yet another individual who hasn’t done a day’s work in his life outside the Labour movement and politics. My Labradors are more plausible candidates. It will though, ensure that the Labour Party in its current form is finished and the insiders, (who already are plotting his downfall), know that. His one shot at widening his appeal is in the Euro referendum. If he decides to back Brexit he may pull back voters previously lost to UKIP but they are the very voters who will recoil at his stance on the Falklands and support of terrorists given most of our dead and wounded come from white working class communities where patriotism is not the dirty word that is might be among the champagne socialist of Islington and Highgate or with the luvies at the BBC or Guardian, (and aren't they having a heart wrenching weekend!).

There aren’t many winners here, except perhaps political satirists and cartoonists. Parliamentary democracy and our international reputation certainly won’t gain anything with a weak and wild eyed opposition led by a barmy Looney Tunes Marxist. Monty Python couldn’t have come up with a more bizarre script. The fact that Corbyn never really wanted or expected to be Leader hurtles the whole nonsense into the realms of chaotic comedy, especially and contrary to what the media portray, not that many people actually care about Labour sailing off the political cliff. The Tories meanwhile will lie in wait for Corbyn and his fellow delusional barking mad chums to embed themselves properly before ripping them apart in a merciless feeding frenzy. That way, the whole of Labour will be tainted and not just a few extremists.

There is viable concern that weak opposition leads to bad government and that is the challenge before Cameron now; to pursue the traditional Conservative ideal of one nation politics. The astonishing advancement of state Academy schools in London, much of it supported by City funding, is a good example of the way forward. It’s now his game to lose. The rest of us can sit back and enjoy the show. Personally, I’m hoping that Diane Abbot gets the education brief. It will be good to hear her justification for educating her own son privately whilst criticising the rest of us for so doing.

The Empire Strikes Back

It's with some hilarity that we learn this morning, courtesy of analysis from the Insight Consulting Group via Guido, that should Labour be elected some 25.51% of MPs are likely to be Oxbridge graduates. Interestingly, the number drops to 20.86% in a Conservative-led Parliament perhaps suggesting that slightly more Tories have held real jobs than have the policy wonk stuffed Labour party who are mostly cradle-to-grave political Moonies. 

Well, they don't make any bones about what they're about on their website. The time is coming to reclaim the management and leadership of the Kingdom from this cosy union.

I've written previously about the bizarre grip that the Oxford PPE course has on British politics and political reporting, (it's a very long list, read and be amazed). Perhaps its why they are all so grey and mostly follow the same dreary agenda's with just a different lick of paint on their buses. No long term strategic thinking and no imagination with precious little grip on what passes for Planet Reality for the rest of us. They've buggered up just about everything they've touched and done a mind trick on the Public which mostly believes in the sequential Great Con's perpetrated in their name but not for their wider good. We're in a place where a more or less malleable and supine population is governed by the intentions of a few thousand people in marginal seats.  Nothing could suit the PPE lot better; their grip is tightening but it won't last. Bad things never do.

Jockageddon Averted - Now It's England's Turn

Commentary and analysis from referendum observers is being produced by the bucket load, not all of it has substance. Here though are some salient points to note from friend Marcus Ashworth, Head of Fixed Income over at Espirito Santo, and he writes really, with no particular axe to grind..

"It was Crumble's Ma wot did it........ the silent majority came out in droves to register their understated desire to retain the Union, whereas in Glasgow the turnout was one of the lowest and 53.5/46.5% was not enough of a Yes vote to give Salmond a chance.  Despite all the puff he didn't get his vote out, and in what was probably the largest % turnout in a modern democracy ever (Aus doesn't count as semi-forced voting).  Bully boy tactics clearly backfired.

A double digit majority was what was required to put this issue to bed for now - though of course Salmond doesn't have that in his nature - "at this stage" was a particularly telling phrase in his most ungracious acceptance of defeat speech.  Evidently his only tactic left is to try and grab as much of the "vows" as possible.  However, Number 10 apparently has some other ideas and talk of Devo Max is being downplayed.

The chat from Downing St seeems to a swift volte face to try and redress the growing clamour from the Tory backbenches about what Gordy was allowed to promise in the final days?  For all the sense of panic it is evident that Gordy had this worked out many months ago but was only sanctioned to unleash the dogs of war in the final nail-biting furlong.  His last speech was apparently his best, though equally Cameron did his bit under unrelenting abuse.  The Better Together campaign was pretty much totally Scottish Labour led and Tory free, it is not the winner though.  Labour party conf in Manchester - Ed needs an even better speech this time - pref without that Disraeli one-nation blather.

The West Lothian question is the key piece of egregiousness that will have to be finally knocked on the head - something that Labour has conspicuously failed to do.  Scottish MPs will soon no longer be allowed to vote on England only matters - whilst of course English MPs have never been allowed to vote on Scottish matters.  This will pose a knotty one for Miliband because it could very well permanently emasculate Labour Govts if on budgetary matters there is not enough of an English-only MP backing.  The Barnett formula (which even its eponymous creator thinks should be scrapped) will stick in the craw.  If affords a permanent upward only subsidy of circa £1500 per person to Scotland over rest of UK.  This has not gone down well south of the border.  At all.

Cameron may have been knifed by Clegg on the Boundary Commission changes (which is the most outrageous breach of code for the so-called Mother of Parliaments) - but this way he may partly get his own back.  If he fails then he will really face the chop from the 1922 cmte.  Bear in mind Clacton by-election shortly will see a big slap for Cameron - and his image is very much of the "essay crisis".  Tricky times if he drops this ball on Constitutional change - especially if Salmond gets traction on any perceived signs of backsliding on the vows.

Labour has acted appallingly throughout this campaign being utterly self-serving and using every opportunity to try and turn a battle to save the Union into a call for a Labour Govt next May.  If Miliband fails to engage in a William Hague (as Leader of the House) overseen all-party talks, then it will be Labour who will carry the can for failing to deliver on the myriad of promises offered up by their last Prime Minister.

If only for that fact Cameron should emerge from this as the biggest winner and it's a 2nd big win for him after seeing off the Lib Dems on proportional representation, is he on a roll for winning in Europe as well?   OK that might be a leap of faith too far - still the gamble has largely paid off and the Tories can get to shape constitutional change whilst still in power.  That is a major, major difference from the expected situation that the next Labour Govt (as the polls still point to) would carve it up as they see fit.

........... welcome back Scotland

I find it hard to see (bar Gordy, Darling to some extent and of course the redoubtable Jim Murphy who will clearly get a Knighthood) who in Labour comes out of this with any accolades.  Miliband is a dead man walking - and he knows it.  It is one thing for Cameron to find it difficult to campaign in Scotland but for a Labour leader not to either basically bother to get up there until the last few moments and then not to be capable of walking through Edinburgh is a travesty of not just how the Yes campaign has been conducted but of Miliband's validity.  Clegg has proved that the Lib Dem vote has vaporised.  Question now is whether Salmond can survive, let's hope not as he allowed a very dirty campaign to get quite seriously out of hand - he deserves to go just for that alone.  Only Farage had the temerity to call him out for that."


Labour; More Front than Brighton

This morning the ruling Labour Party launched their election manifesto. "A future fair for all". I won't make any comment about the cover except to ask why, after 13 years of New Labour are the green sunlight uplands still bloody miles away? The cover comes from old Conservative pre war posters anyway, according to Guido. (Hat Tip again to GOT for the poster above).
 
The launch took place in a new hospital that is the result of the "Public Private Initiative (PPI) Scheme". It would be refreshing if a political journalist would take the Prime Minister and / or the Chancellor to task on this. Who pays for the financing of ongoing PPI? The Government does by using tax payers money.
 
When that amount of money plus the payments for the civil service pension commitments are made then the numbers on the level of UK National debt to GDP leaps from 58% to 115%.
 
I think we can work out why the Goverment never draw attention to this; the puzzling thing is, why doesn't anyone else? 
 
They've got more front than Brighton to use the new hospital that is the result of PPI and yet ignore the costs of PPI. They are too scared to admit the dreadful state of the nations finances... a Government should not be scared of admitting the true state of the national economy.
Labour should come under unceasing and relentless pressure to be honest about everything that is "off balance sheet," with our national finances and commentators should develop a sense of urgency and start diligently probing and questioning on these matters.
 
How on earth are voters to make a considered choice when they only have selected facts fed to them by compliant media operators?