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.

Election Entertainment Quotient just went parabolic

Mr Prescott can't wait for lunch and snacks on the nearest available piece of red meat

Ed Milliband in his first speech as leader “I stand here today ready to lead: a new generation [is] now leading Labour. Be in no doubt. The new generation of Labour is different. Different attitudes, different ideas, different ways of doing politics.” 

In The Observer yesterday, Mr Miliband said on bringing Precott back into the campaign fold, "His abilities and experience, as one of the architects of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, must be used at this critical time for our future and there is no one better than John at bashing heads together to get a deal." 

Mental Crumble “You said it Ed. Labour go nuclear after the condescending Barbie Bus fiasco and haul back the bullying, inarticulate sleazebag Prescott; he’s the one who looks like Jabba the Hut without the charm and dances like an Eddie Stobart truck doing a three point turn. Still, the Election Entertainment Quotient just went parabolic. Odd choice when you think they could have appointed oh lets see, maybe a scientist or something as climate change advisor. We all know what’s afoot and it’s not about the Greens. It’s about stemming the flow of working class voters to UKIP in trying to give Labour an impression of not being a shower of out of touch north London intellectuals.

Could this have been the moment when Miliband met a real live voter that he decided to press the panic button?

What Are We Going To Do About George?

George Osborne delivers his Autumn Statement to a packed House of Commons

George Osborne delivers his Autumn Statement to a packed House of Commons

The news wires are burning with reports that the Chancellor, George Osborne, has gone completely doolally. In delivering an Autumn Statement that eviscerated house buyers with aspirations of acquiring property worth more than £935,000 he fired a financial exocet directly into the centre of his parties core constituency. The opposition can't believe their luck as they leave the chamber sniggering to each other.

The rate for property at say the £1.5m price point gives the buyer the unwelcome prospect of coughing up £93,750 big ones; that's as near as damn it £190,000 (actually higher), of pre tax income or a 6.25% blended rate of stamp which is scaled through the above levels. Things get interesting further up the ladder with a £3m property attracting a 9.125% blended rate. 



The £2m+ property market ground to a halt months ago because of political uncertainty. Most people though obviously couldn't care less. Apart from that is, those who rely on such transactions to fuel their own removal, decorating, building, plumbing and so on businesses. The point is, as I never tire of saying, these idiots at the Treasury simply cannot or will not focus on freeing up the economy. This is but one example. The overall tax take will anyway, fall.

I'm sure too that distortions will quickly develop in the market which at the higher price points will simply freeze up and that will have a trickle down effect with some properties becoming overvalued while others find a lower point of equilibrium. You'll probably also see a rush of planning applications to split up houses into two or more flats. 

The net beneficiary of this will again be UKIP who I'm quite sure will benefit from additional donations from frustrated property sellers and their votes....... along with those coming from citizens with laughable broadband, bins that are emptied but once a fortnight, commuters who now cough up 5-7 grand annually to get to work, redundant soldiers, (they haven't cut government departments or the civil service by 23% have they?), and so on.

So Tories, keep up the entertainment for your Labour colleagues. Build expensive railways to nowhere through your core voters homes, then start fracking under them and now over-tax them. It's so original, why hasn't it been done before? Even the old class warrior Gordon couldn't have dreamt this lot up.

On reflection, Treasury Officials agreed they might have chosen the Stamp Duty Rise Focus group with more care

Wondering Where House Prices Are Headed?

Foxton's Share Price - Just in case you where wondering where house prices are headed..........

Well, it didn't take the London housing market long to react to the the mendacious and short sighted idiots from the Labour and Liberal parties and their ill thought out nonsense about Mansion Taxes. 

Foxtons, the London estate agent this morning reported a "significant drop," in transactions in the second half. Now, London prices were anyway in nosebleed territory and some air needed to be released from the balloon but the actuality is, apart from the super rich bracket, transactions across the country have stopped stone dead since the Labour party conference. The market, is in practice in suspended animation until after the election. So, what does that actually mean?

Obviously, there will be a drop in stamp duty revenues. The trickle down to the rest of the housing market will cease but there will probably be price distortions sub £2m, especially in the £1-1.5m level where people will buy but will want a "margin of error," away from the £2m price point.

With fewer people moving all attendant service providers will suffer from solicitors, surveyors, removal firms, painters, decorators and so on. White van man has done very well out of the property boom; well, that's another group you've just alienated Mr Balls.

It is worth highlighting yet again to these fools who say whatever they think the particular constituency they are addressing wants to hear that people who buy a property at any price point are doing so out of already taxed income which for most, is over 50% when National Insurance is included. Even now, buying a £2m+ property elicits a minimum £140k stamp duty bill which obviously requires £280k of pre tax income, unless the buyer has a gain from his previous property.


The bottom line here is as it was when the coalition came to power. HMG doesn't have enough money and is incapable of balancing the books so they're intent on using any means at their disposal to smash, grab and spend because they lack the moral and political courage to properly reduce government spending, less of course for hitting the only people who can't defend themselves and who spend most of their time avoiding coming home in boxes from places we have no business being.

These idiots in Westminster should stop interfering and simply adjust council tax bands to reflect a modern reality. Smart money will move much more quickly than governments ever will; its the squeezed middle class, the infantry of the economy, who get hit relentlessly with headline sound bite politics. Frankly, all these deluded muppets achieve is to strengthen UKIP and they're lining themselves up for the electoral equivalent of 10,000 volts administered though bodily extremities next May. 


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."


Scottish Independence; Phew!

Crumble, up bright and early and on my way to work this morning

Well what a night! There must be some weapons grade hangovers out there. At one point, after Glasgow came in, there were only 500 votes between No and Yes. 

There is a lot of healing and a lot of work to be done in all parts of this Kingdom.

Biggest winners? Definitely democracy, (the turnout numbers are simply stunning), and UKIP who will benefit from a similar anti Westminster backlash in England but we know that, (the one liner doing the rounds this morning is "if the Scottish wanted independence they should have let the English vote). The biggest loser is obviously not Salmond, (who I think is walking away with a massive sense of relief having got exactly what he set out to achieve), but Andy Murray. Never liked him. The absence of grace is breathtaking. 

More later

Scottish Independence; The Final Furlong

Final furlong

Heading into the final week of campaigning in front of the most momentous vote that Scots will take in their lifetimes and with the rest of the Kingdom strictly relegated to observer status, mixed emotions are increasingly evident. Many can see victory within their grasp and are beginning to see red mist. Their claims become more emotionally charged and factually outrageous by the day. Others are suffering from referendum fatigue and simply want a quick end to it all and to be allowed to get on with their lives while some are sucked into a vortex of questioning disbelief, worry and anxiety for the future.

“No,” would appear to be slightly in the lead but with a tolerance of + or – 3pts in these polls it really is all to play for. I do though hear more stories of stupid and crass low level intimidation from the “Yes,” campaign from the Highlands to the Borders. I think we’ll hear more about this after the vote but one thing is for sure and for certain, when individuals are in that voting booth they can tick which ever box they wish with absolute privacy and impunity. That’s exactly the point when Mr Salmond may regret not reigning in the more febrile elements of his campaign.

Standing back from the melee for a moment I can’t help but think how badly planned and handled the entire enterprise has been from every constituent part. That with four days to go the level of informed debate is better suited to the cut and thrust of a mid-term by-election is nothing short of an international embarrassment. Peoples livelihoods and their economic future are at risk here and they deserve better. So does the rest of the United Kingdom.

Both campaigns have in fact completely missed the target. Salmond has failed to invest in time and energy to create a sound intellectual case for independence and instead has leaned far too heavily on transient soundbites, reviving ancient mistrust of the English, (that many voters have no lineage to anyway), questionable election practices, a nostalgia for a post war economy that has forever gone and oil and well, oil. Creating a dependency for the well being, health and education of 5m people on the price of a globally traded commodity would to me seem a somewhat casual approach to policy but what do I know?

What did you expect Nick when you asked an awkward question at a press conference. The SNP, reinventing East Germany.

An independent Scotland though is of course possible and indeed could be more of a reality if Salmond and his hopeless band of backward looking socialists embraced a culture and manifesto of socially liberal, economically conservative policies that enthusiastically sought openness, collaboration, partnership and participation. That’s not going to happen though. The SNP is a small minded, spiteful and resentful collection of miscreants who in the best traditions of modern politics will promise everything to everyone and deliver nothing except value destruction and national strife.

There is the possibility that the electorate vote for independence then immediately vote the SNP out, preferring instead individuals capable of doing the job properly but they are in short supply in Scottish politics. I think such an echo of Churchill being tossed out from government in the 1945 election is unlikely; the SNP have simply left it too late having relied too much on what they perceive to be a spirit of nationalism and they have left too many open questions unanswered.   

It would have been so much better to make the case ex oil and ex the EU and sell those as added bonus’s. Salmond should have focused on a very gradual disconnect with the rest of the UK with multiple joint ventures and collaborations, with checkpoints, at the sovereign, financial and social level. He should have warned every Scot that this momentous decision was one they were entrusted with on behalf of their children and subsequent generations. That for most Scots there would be no immediate financial uplift. That in fact the benefits would take a minimum of ten years to accrue, if not a generation. He should have asked, “Is that a sacrifice you are prepared to make?” He should have reminded, if not berated his potential voters that Scotland suffers from a corrosive drug problem, galloping ill health in some areas and a bewildering and growing culture of dependency on government. He should have reminded Scots of their heritage and what he intended to do to unleash the capacity of Scots to revive, invent and build based on a competitive and forward looking education system and an environment which allows business to thrive. Instead, he’s just shovelled out a truck load of lies, half-truths and  cynical scare stories that add nothing to the debate and diminish his appeal to voters. Voters see through this nonsense and his standing has fallen commensurate with the diminishing integrity of his argument. He will lose on Thursday and he need look no further than himself to blame.

Not all one way traffic; 5000 gather in Edinburgh yesterday

The No campaign meanwhile has been equally poor. In fact, its been an utter shambles. The “Keep Calm,” approach was chucked on the bonfire last week when the enormity of the weapons grade fuck up they’d made of it became apparent in the polls. They will probably pull it off in the end but it will be in spite of their efforts not because of them. In fact, it will largely be the pragmatic and sensible undecided Scottish housewife who rescues them. I don’t imagine she has much love for either side but will instead vote for whoever she thinks will cause her family the least dislocation and worry. I don’t blame her. The failure of the “No,” campaign to properly articulate the benefit of being a Scot within the United Kingdom is symptomatic of our hermetic national politicians and the arms length political class we’ve created. Here though is a man who can and in fact is one of the few who has written sensibly about the issues at hand for some considerable time, Alex Massie. Worth a read.

The winner in all of this, and there aren’t many, is UKIP who will benefit from an English reaction to an independence vote but also to an excess of largesse with Devo Max. The driving undercurrent is anyway, a rumbling dissatisfaction with central government which has resonance throughout the UK and indeed in many European countries beyond.

Referendum fatigue, voters deserve better

That general feeling of dissatisfaction was nicely articulated by a chum in the Highlands over the weekend,

“I took a wee wander with the dog the other day to pass the time and popped in for a pint. On looking up at the sign above my watering hole, it read - The Royal British Legion (Scotland) Branch. I pondered and wondered what that will be called next week?  Anyway, I digress...

It was a lovely sunny day so I sat outside at a table and during my time there, I chatted to several tourists from the Manchester area about various topics, weather, how nice it was 'up here' etc, etc.... and of course the referendum. It was quite surreal actually, with about a 50/50 split in how the 'tourists' would vote if they had the chance, which came as a bit of a surprise. 'Westminster' isn't too popular in the North of England either it seems...

Also sat with me was a wise old piper, now in his eighties, who served his Queen and country well when he was in his prime and he eventually summed it all up in a few ( or quite a few...) words.

He was sitting quietly listening to all the opinions, not saying anything - apart from humming his usual heedrum hodrum pipe tunes aloud until he finally stopped 'playing' his imaginary pipes and he said;

‘Och!! I'm sick o' the whole damned thing!

Some days I wake up and my heart says Yes, but my head says No.

On other days my heart says No, but my head says Yes.

The problem is I can never get the two of them to agree.

I've listened to everything all these (*expletive*) politicians have said and all I have to do now, is decide which lot of the (*another expletive*) are lying the least!’

That for me, sums it up in a nutshell.........”

Indeed it does.

Scottish Independence; What About The Jocks?

Mostly, I wouldn't recommend an argument with these lads, (2 SCOTS)

Nine days to go and half of the country think they're Nelson Mandela running around shouting "Cry Freedom," while the people supposed to be running the country and demonstrating clear leadership are running around in a flap with their pants on their heads. PPE from Balliol didn't prepare any of the policy wonks and advisors for this. (Good piece by Chris Deerin here btw).

Anyone who thinks this is just about Scottish Independence is somewhat missing the point. The same dissatisfaction that drives English voters to UKIP is herding wavering voters to the "Yes" camp in Scotland. That is, a screaming sense of dislocation and disenfranchisement, stretching to utter abandonment in some areas, from the political process. Some of this is just very basic. How difficult is it to empty the bins on a weekly basis? (Thank you for nothing Mr Pickles). How difficult is it to regulate travel costs so people can travel to and from work without surrendering half of their after tax income? How difficult is it to plug in the country to fast broadband to bring all our communities into the 21st century? How difficult is to provide sufficient local educational and health infrastructure for the immigrants that the national government allow through? How difficult is it to articulate a vision that offers at least the potential for a better life if not for oneself then at least for ones children? Actually, how difficult is it to listen? 

I digress. Nine days to go and the "Yes," campaign rolls on with much noise but little substance. Enjoy the ride, it won't last long. Let's just pick out one knarly, wee small issue but one which is of interest to many of us Mr Salmond.

It's obvious that many people are unlikely to change their minds and agree in the nine days that remain before voting. That's fair enough.

Royal Regiment of Scotland

But, if the "Yes" camp win the world is going to change for Scotland and change for the Armed Forces. The SNP say they will retain 3 out of the 4 Scottish regular infantry battalions, two reserve battalions, and the incremental company, (not including the Scots Guards, RSDG, 45 Cdo or 19 Fd Regt RA).

In the SNP's Independence White Paper, they contend that "the units of the Scottish Army will carry on the names, identities, and traditions of Scotland’s regiments, including those lost in the defence reorganisation of 2006." (The lads from Plockton will love to hear that). Lot to squeeze in there, especially as the "All Arms Brigade," of three units with supporting arms is described as "infantry/marines."

If you win Mr Salmond, who would you chop and what would you say to the Jocks who might be given a choice of moving to England to join an English regiment or being made redundant?

Still, one consequence of the inevitable economic darkness which will befall Scotland is that the recruiting problem for the British Army will be solved in a heartbeat yet it will have lost part of it's soul without the Royal Regiment of Scotland. 

 

Douglas Carswell MP Defects To UKIP

Douglas Carswell defects to UKIP

The jumping ship thing is perhaps a little unfair to Carswell. He does appear to be a thinking politician of conviction and has left the Tory party citing the dependency on pollsters, lack of real change, blocking of parliamentary reform and a desire to shake up the Westminster clique. 

So, UKIP have their first member of parliament and No 10 have a real "Oh bugger," moment. You can hear the hurried conference call happening now, "No Prime Minister, we're not aware if the 'slippery bxstard' has been to Rotherham or not..."

Actually, if his actions rock the galloping and disconnected sense of righteous entitlement that pervades Westminster then its for the better. I wish the man well. Interesting times.

 

Syria; So What?

Camera's in Westminster; Press Are On The Start Line Then

"UK Politicians . People who don't hesitate to bomb other countries on the flimsiest of evidence but spend years worrying over whether to implement a badger cull . " Army Rumour Web Site

Our Nobel Peace Prize winning President used to think in 2007; Obama:  "The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation."  With Boehner tearing off a letter signed by 118 Congressmen, (18 Democrats), making it clear that keeping the legislature in the dark is not going to cut it - the UN Sec Gen throwing up obstacles - and now his chief ally Britain having difficulties in going straight to war..... then Barry is taking his time for good reason.  And we should be thankful for his reticence in foreign matters, even if it is indecision.  When Russia and China start sounding reasonable it is time to think again.

We are now in a phase where all involved, on all sides, will seek to confuse, confound and mislead. This is all part of the disinformation and deception campaign which of course, makes perfect tactical sense. This will inevitably create a lot of market noise and markets will ebb and flow with each wave of news, regardless of its veracity. That is, right up until we wake up to hear on the news that Tomahawks are jinking down downtown Damascus.

Surprisingly, Milliband has for once caught the national mood and suddenly become the hate figure in Westminster as a government source tells the Times, 

“No 10 and the Foreign Office think Miliband is a f****** c*** and a copper-bottomed s***. The French hate him now and he’s got no chance of building an alliance with the US Democratic Party”

Why? Here is where things stand this morning. Miliband’s threat to oppose the government means the PM doesn’t have the numbers for military action. Today’s vote will now not authorise intervention, there will have to be a second vote next week if Cameron wants war.” Guido

 

UKIP Says No To War In Syria

As one chum put it "I never like to see that snivelling millipede score a point but someone had to stop Cameron".  Labour were very close to forcing a major defeat on the Govt which resulted in the motion being moved to one of principle today; but we should expect the Mother of all Parliaments to put on a fine display of calm reason.  Open goal for UKIP as well as Nigel Farage echoes the fine words of Lord Tebbit. (Does Cameron really want to lose his summer of easy victories over Labour and the virtual disappearance of UKIP all in one fell swoop?).

" It was not the Assad government which declared war on the Syrian people. Over the years the Assads, father and son, had been authoritarians but by the standards of the Middle East they had respected minorities, not least the Christians. It would be a gross oversimplification of the very complex religious and tribal and ethnic divisions within Syria to blame the Islamists alone, but it was the more extreme Islamists who became increasingly restive at the deviant tolerance of the Assads and they who incited an undeclared war against it and Assad.

What the British and American governments have to ask themselves is who would be strengthened most by any proposed warlike action. If it were to be designed to weaken Assad, would it be a coalition of the moderates of all shades who might find a peaceful way forward, or the extremists who would more likely want to impose a far harsher regime than that of Assad before the uprising? And if despite the first wave of military action the Assad govt survived but became more & not less intransigent towards the rebels of all shades, what then?"

Of course, Sarin itself has a short shelf life once the precursor chemicals are mixed, and so Saddam theories are discountable. Production of Sarin has been a schedule 1 war crime offence since 1993....so by forensic thought, we need to find a supplier with a chemical industry that produces organophosphates...such as sheep dip. That opens out the suspects......"

 

Syrian and US Assets (Bloomberg)

For the moment the Middle East Peace Envoy Tony Bliar (oh the irony -stop it), his press spokesman of old Alistair Campbell and it seems Sam Cam are the main proponents of the school of bomb them back into the middle ages. They might want to just check the above out as this will not be a Libyan style push over.

So who does this crisis help?  Apart from the obvious Sunni/Shia  push and shove; 

1. Obama as he may get his budget/debt ceiling through as Republicans may have to back down in all decency, (ok unlikely but may help if we are being really cynical) 

2. He gets to rig the FOMC again and wave Summers through (again bit of a stretch).

3. Israel as they won't have to be quite so nice to Palestinians in upcoming talks (though I think Netanyahu is right on everyone's case regarding Iran and setting easy precedents)

4. New boy in Iran can't play the peace card to western media and look all normal and nice - which by the way they have in condemning use of chemical weapons.  Unfortunately, they went on to warn Iran will attack and "burn" Israel if Syria is attacked - expect Iran to retaliate via unconventional methods e.g kidnappings via Hezbollah etc

 5.  Erdogan, Hollande and several others with "local difficulties" can divert attention.  As Rahm Emanuel allegedly said never let a good crisis go to waste - always an opportunity.

Meanwhile the US government  are leaking news of impending action on high value targets. The message being delivered to the media and to a public fatigued by war, is that strikes will be limited to high value targets. The last thing Washington wants is regime change because that would create the need for massive resources for a nation building clean-up, involvement in another civil war, another $1tr, probably 5,000 casualties etc etc etc

Obama is due in Sweden on Sep 3rd and then Russia for the G20 on the 5th-6th, the suggestion being that he’d like it all tied up by then, ie limited strike, (Stratfor).

However, other countries are quickly putting the brakes on incl the UK, (above), who at the moment, will struggle to get a vote through parliament without the report from the UN inspectors producing verification, (its not even finished). An attack without clear legal authority would be politically damming both here and in the US and that is thus far, also subject to the UN report. As time passes, domestic opposition here is growing and coalescing across an unlikely collective across the political spectrum.

There is an outside chance that the Russians might cooperate and help remove Assad. Russia still has a large presence in Syria and removing the head but leaving the body in place, (Army, security, intelligence & government), would avoid creating a power vacuum that would allow extremists to flourish. On current form, Putin is unlikely to acquiesce but you never know. For the moment, Russia has announced it is “adjusting” its Naval group in the Med, with Interfax reporting that  they’re sending an additional anti-submarine ship and missile cruiser. Putin and Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, announced they had a telephone conversation yesterday in which they stressed the need to settle the conflict by political and diplomatic means. Meanwhile, the French have dispatched the anti aircraft frigate Chevalier Paul “in the direction of Syria,” which probably means to Corsica for lunch given their parliamentary debate isn’t until next Wednesday. We meanwhile are sending six Tornadoes to Cyprus. Getting crowded down there though and accidents do, unfortunately happen.

Conspiracy theorists may wish to consider this disturbing article.

With regard to markets, an enormously complex geopolitical, religious and civil conflict is not going to be easier to understand over coming days. Markets will continue to trade in an erratic fashion with obvious sensitivity to headlines. Markets will however, want to believe in the “clean and limited,” strike and I tend to the feeling that shares will want to rally short term from here. Having recalibrated down in a somewhat disorderly way they now need to find their levels and re-establish their value based relationships with one another.

However, any rally would have to be quite powerful indeed to overcome the new intermediate downtrend which has taken hold. Much technical damage has been done. In S&P terms, be very cautious if we break down through 1627; above 1640-1643 would probably ignite a short bull run but the dizzy heights of the 1670-80 zone would make me very cautious again. I believe rallies will be sold and the debt ceiling talks, Asian contagion and Europe will all contribute to headwinds for equities. (Europe is the bad boy no one is pricing and crude will impact us all; crude especially is a tax on producers and consumers and spikes in the crude px have usually preceded shares being hammered, (1987, 1999-00, 2005, 2007,).

War lust antidote here.

In summary, the hopes of a clean and limited strike to deliver a bloody nose to the school ground bully but with no fall-out remains possible but is getting ever so more complicated with each day that passes. When I was a young officer cadet we were taught to ask the question “So what?” to every potential action, and then “So what?” to each outcome until we exhausted the process to come to a conclusion. So what? There are an awful lot of “So what?” strands to this wee planning and political challenge.