Archive for February, 2019

Parliament: Paralysis or End Game?

Saturday, February 23rd, 2019

The answer just now, but even an hour is a long time in politics at the moment so caution, is both. Not only does there appear to be no way forward which with any certainty can deliver an orderly Brexit, but the main parties are splintering and with multi-coloured reasons, ranging from the bitter to the naive. If there were splits between pro and anti Brexit it would make sense, but this is not the case. Although the Brexit theme is everywhere like seeping fog, within it there are so many opposing and fractured opinions, nothing concrete or reliable is offered. Moreover although Labour is not fully united over Brexit, the biggest schism is in the Tory party and it is the government. May stumbles forward trying to go backwards at the same time.

The whole world is gobsmacked. Two years ago on the list of countries likely to fall victim of dysfunctional government, the UK was just about the last.  So the fact that it is now even less coherent than Greece in the Euro crisis or more capricious than Italy under Berlusconi, is almost beyond comprehension. That is a worse shock than Brexit itself. It also begs the question. Can Britain govern itself outside the framework and discipline of the EU? Or will she head for a never ending populist squabble?

It is a chilling thought. At the heart of all those problems, which now threaten both the future and stability of Britain as a country as well as the integrity of the Union of four nations which compose the UK, is the nationalist wing of the Tory party now morphed into the ERG. This is a poisonous grouping which led the various bits of the leave campaign making false promises, stoking real fears and raising hopes with outright lies. It sees a disorderly Brexit as a wonderful and cleansing experience, it cares not a fig for the suffering and chaos it may cause, because it is anti-foreign, anti-Europe and pro an illusionary vision of something it calls Global Britain.

Well this blog opposes it hook, line and sinker. As do millions of Brits. My proudest possession is my European citizenship. As it is for millions, especially the young. It may be the ERG and those who believe in its fraudulent prospectus will succeed in having their day. But it will be short. And then there will follow a new day. A day of reckoning. For them.

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Saturday, February 23rd, 2019

Brexit: The Problem Is May

Thursday, February 21st, 2019

There is in parliament a majority willing to pass a sensible deal acceptable to the EU based on a permanent customs union and with a close relationship with the single market. This will protect jobs, businesses, living standards and the economy. It will restrict independent trade deals but preserve 70 we already enjoy through membership of the EU. The ERG will never vote for it, for they believe in hard core nationalism, no matter the cost. Neither will the DUP. But enough of the patriotic and sensible majority of MPs from all parties will to push it through the Commons. The EU have already indicated they see the plan as a route out of the present mess.

The only thing preventing this is May, her red lines and her blind adherence to putting party before country. In other words the people will have to suffer to keep whatever is left of the Tory party together. May is not a national leader and has no grasp of what national leadership entails. She is the worst kind of party politician. She talks big and promises bigger. But in reality she is stubborn and narrow. She is the author of the greatest breakdown in orderly governance is modern history and is now the biggest obstacle to our country’s future prosperity, the integrity of our Union of four nations and the futures of our children.

If we keep her in office we deserve all we get.

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Thursday, February 21st, 2019

Tory Split: Three Formidable Women

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

The Tory breakaway Three has a different flavour to the Labour Seven (now eight). Before it was a line up of angry and rather bitter also rans who talked mainly about themselves and whose Monday drama had by Wednesday slipped off the headlines. This time it is three Tory women, each of whom is a success in her own right in business, the law or medicine and who, because of their knowledge and experience outside the Westminster bubble, have called out their party in government for being blindly hell bent on a course to wreck our country. This is powerful stuff.

It may be that by Friday they too are forgotten and vaguely referred to as part of the Independent Group of Eleven (if you are old like me you will remember the Gang of Four) or it may be that they have started something much much bigger.

We shall just have to wait and see what happens next. You can bet on something, but not on what.

Shamina Begum: Let Her Come Back.

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

She was born and raised in the UK. She was at school here. She was on the radar of the authorities as one at risk from radicalisation. At the age of fifteen she succumbed to the blandishments of IS and joined a bloodthirsty movement which promised heaven knows what. It is now confined to a few hundred square yards, all that is left of its short lived territorial empire, and Shamina is holed up in a refugee camp where she has given birth to her third child, two having already died. Her husband has been taken prisoner and his fate is unknown. Somehow she was found by the Times. The rest you know.

However tempting it may be to banish this girl and her baby by depriving her of citizenship, it is the wrong move. This country has to take responsibility for its actions even when, especially when, they go wrong. And nobody can deny that it has a responsibility for bringing up its citizens in partnership with parents, educators and others, nor that in this case, for whatever reason, it failed. It is clearly the fault of many including the child, but in an adult world she is the junior partner.

Without citizenship where is she to go? How can we be sure it is not the wrong place? Not just for her but for us too?There is absolutely no doubt in the mind of this blog that she should be brought back, prosecuted and punished for whatever crimes she has committed and then rehabilitated into society as a fully paid up and contributing member. She is still only nineteen, her life is ahead of her and her baby is entirely innocent by any rational measure. Moreover she will for certain become an invaluable resource in combating radicalisation of impressionable children in our country in the future, not least because by then she will understand that, with all its enlightenment and benefit, our country is hers too.

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Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

New Labour and Corbyn: Again

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

Let’s get several things straight. But first let me say to readers who do not know, I was a founder member of the SDP, I defected from the Tories which made me a novelty, I was SDP Chairman of the City of London and Westminster South and I was close to what was going on among the defecting Labour MPs, about forty of them, and all of whom but three, lost their seats at the first general election after the drama. I did not join the combined Liberal Democrats and stayed with the SDP until it sank. I went down with the ship. The talk then was of ‘a new kind of politics’ because ‘politics is broken’. Yes we heard it yesterday, but if we are old enough, we have heard it all before.

Prior to the breakaway from Michael Foot’s Labour, Thatcher was set to lose the first election she fought as prime minister in 1983. She won by a landslide. In fact 13 million people voted Tory and 16.23 million voted Labour and Lib/SDP alliance. So she won a landslide on a minority of the votes. It is worse than that. The SDP/Libs won 23 seats on 7.7 million votes. Labour won 209 seatswith 8.4 million. A gap of only 700 thousand votes gave Labour an extra 186 seats. It is not the politics that are broken. It is the electoral system.

If you want a first past the post voting system, you can only have two main parties and they must each accommodate a coalition of views and opinions within their ranks. It makes breakaways well nigh impossible. That is why Labour and Tory have dominated our political scene for over one hundred years. If you want to change you have to introduce a proportional electoral voting system, as in Scotland  and Wales.  We had a Cameron referendum about that. We voted to keep first past the post. Another referendum mistake.

So forget about Labour defections. New Labour, which has completely disappeared in the country at large and from the actual membership of the Labour Party, still dominates the parliamentary Labour Party. It hates Corbyn and everything he stands for. It will never give up trying to smash up the huge following he enjoys. But at the end of the day it is votes that count. Gordon Brown, the last New Labour prime minister, managed  8.6 million  votes in 2010. Corbyn delivered 12.8 million in 2017.

That is why he is leader of the Labour party. He understands Labour is the party not of the centre but of the left. It is the champion of the working class, the underprivileged, the ordinary people who through thick and thin, on earnings which will never make them rich, keep this country running. And of decent people of every class and background whose life ambitions have a place for the welfare of others, rather than being just about them. When Labour remembers why it is there it wins. What we heard yesterday from the angry seven was a lot of waffle about them and their feelings. But that is of little use to those who are having to stave of hunger by going to food banks. Which is why the defectors will be a short term wonder. In the end  they too, may, in those waking moments in the wee small hours, wonder why.

Labour Split: First Reaction

Monday, February 18th, 2019

In adversarial politics, political parties are essentially tribes. In some countries there is a single party of the left and another of the right. Elsewhere left and right are split into factions or smaller parties which have to come together in a coalition grouping to govern.

In the England, which is the dominant country of the U.K., it remains the case that there are two main parties. Coalitions are rare, not least because the junior partners tend to get punished at the polls. Smaller parties exist and can deeply influence the political conversation. The SDP was the midwife of New Labour, and without UKIP there would have been no Brexit. But these small parties never get big, neither do they govern.

So we now have seven angry MPs who have left the Labour Party. We will have to see if the ripples of this defection get beyond the Westminster village pond. Many people may feel that the leaked intention of Honda to announce tomorrow the shutting of their Swindon car plant a good deal more important.

Trump’s Emergency: But is it America’s?

Friday, February 15th, 2019

There is no doubt that Trump’s mania about his wall, which has been thwarted by Mexico, the democrats and enough republicans to stop it when they had control of both the House and the Senate, is now an emergency for his Presidency. The question is, can this be a real national emergency for America? The answer must surely be no. A national emergency is not a device to bypass the democratic will of Congress. It is a power to be used in a pressing national crisis when extra resources have to be deployed faster than the proper due process can deliver them. It is not put there so that a thwarted President can ignore the structures of democracy.

Trump’s declaration  will be challenged in Court and may well end up in the Supreme Court. If it finds that the Constitution can be interpreted to allow this misuse of executive power, only one thing is certain thereafter. At some point in the future America will live very much to regret it.