Archive for November, 2019

Election 2019: An Interesting Day

Wednesday, November 27th, 2019

The Tory media feeding frenzy on Corbyn is in full cry. This is because Tory canvassers are reporting disquiet on working class and suburban doorsteps, votes they must win, lukewarm about their own safety first manifesto. Meanwhile in spite of the attacks on him on every front and ridiculing of his every appearance, Labour maintains an upward trajectory, as its own manifesto gains increasing support. Not yet enough for a Labour win but getting near to stopping a Tory majority, or one big enough to work with. With tactical voting among hard core remainers and leavers, the polls may be meaningless anyway.

But every time Corbyn is asked five times in a row a question designed to produce a soundbite to make the interviewer feel good and get a headline, Corbyn is able to repeat his key message again and again. And while the media go into overdrive about Corbyn refusing to answer a question, voters if they bother at all, remember not the question but Corbyn’s programme for solving their problems brought home by years of austerity.

Then we have the revelation (which delvers knew already) that in technical talks with the US about the wonder trade deal Boris promises, the NHS is very much on the agenda of things America want access to. It is a must do for them and even if Trump in an effort to help Boris his friend, waived the demand, Congress which has to approve every line of the deal, would put it back in. So the chances of a full trade deal are near to zero. Individual agreements involving importing chlorinated chicken and genetically modified crops in exchange for luxury cars, for example. But no all embracing deal.

Set against Boris’s hard Brexit plan with its border, invisible to him, but an obstacle to every sort of smooth trade, down the Irish Sea, his slogan ‘Get Brexit Done’ will begin to pose its own question.

Why would anyone want to do that?

And also today a record number, up on 2017, registered to vote within the deadline, bringing the total to over 3 million. 70% of whom are under 34, the majority of whom are statistically Remainers and likely to vote anything but Tory. So it is not over yet. Indeed it is getting really interesting.

Election 2019: Religion and Politics.

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

It is very unsatisfactory if faith leaders from whatever calling enter into the political debate, the more so when the country is polarised, angry and in the midst of an unprecedented election. Especially if it is directed at specific parties or individuals. Whatever the provocation and however justified the observation or complaint is,  such interventions risk religion and politics becoming entangled. When that happens everyone loses. It is a road to a very bad place. Do not go down it. However strongly you feel.

Election 2017: Now The Contest Becomes Real

Sunday, November 24th, 2019

With the Manifestos all out, the contest will  begin to move beyond the soundbite/ cheap headline stage to real issues. If the Tories manage to hold the Brexit line, that is getting it done is everything and little else matters, they will win a majority. At the moment polls show them on course for this. But none of the polls reflect any of the manifestos, because they only begin to break through during the doorstep campaign, which is only now starting in earnest.

If the big issue becomes ‘what kind of country do we want to live in?’ Labour will win enough to form a government, even if with SNP support. They have a lot of ground to make up, but they also have a lot of people on the ground. They also have a big following among young voters who are registering in droves. None of that shows up in opinion polls. Yet. But it must be showing through in the last week if Labour is to have a chance.

The Lib Dems are probably doing a lot better than people think. If Remainers who really are passionate about staying in the EU flock to their colours in any numbers, there could be quite an upset on the night. Maybe not so many Lib Dem seats won, as Tory seats lost. Remember over 6 million signed the online petition to revoke Article 50. It would be odd if they now voted for Johnson.

The Brexit party is reduced to little more than a spoiler group. But make no mistake, they could spoil everything.

Election 2019: Corbyn’s Neutrality

Saturday, November 23rd, 2019

Jeremy Corbyn is entirely right to adopt a neutral position in a Brexit referendum, if he becomes prime minister. Harold Wilson did just that in 1974. His cabinet split, as did the country, but after the result everyone was united behind the outcome to accept the revised terms of membership and remain in what was then the  EEC.

In 2016 Cameron led the remain campaign and felt compelled to resign when he lost. If he had remained neutral, he could and would have implemented the decision, beginning by sending his Article 50 letter as he promised to do, the day after the results were declared. It is very likely that the whole thing would have been handled under the royal prerogative without the Supreme Court challenge.

Instead we have suffered the worst breakdown in governance in our democratic peace time history, splitting communities, families, political parties and the whole nation, which threatens the Union and promises years of continuing uncertainty.We are now on our third prime minister without having completed Brexit and could be heading for a fourth. Brexit, under the control of the Tory party, who instigated the whole ill starred and badly prepared venture has been a shambles. Corbyn is now decried by them for ‘sitting on the fence’ and not ‘leading’ from the front.

We have had far too much hot headed leadership. What we now need is wise governance. Corbyn must stand his ground. I am sure he will.

Election 2019: At Last There Is A Real Choice

Friday, November 22nd, 2019

Regular readers will know how much I disapprove of centre politics, which I regard as a quagmire of self interest, lack of vision and kicking the can down the road on almost everything which demands more than a sound bite or a quick fix. There must be a dynamic left and a reactionary right. Either can govern and both have to move towards the centre in government, because in the end a degree of public consensus is needed to achieve anything that lasts.

But the centre is not where the drivers are. For far too long this country has been in the grip of an appalling political inertia which has allowed the development of a grotesquely misshapen economy, in which the rich grow ever richer and the poor grow poorer. A vast new class of just managing has arrived where work is undervalued and assets are overvalued. Asset inflation partners wage stagnation. It has to stop.

And for far too long the ordinary people of our country, on whom every facet of civilised life and care relies, have had no choice, because in the end, apart from a different tribal T shirt, there was precious little difference between the offers of the political parties. Until yesterday.

The Labour Manifesto offers a totally different vision of quite different future, based on different values, bigger ambitions, the rebuilding of all public services shattered by years of outsourcing and cuts and the biggest investment programme in everything we need to expand our economy for many generations. It is a transformative offer. Not a renovation, but a rebuild. No longer can anyone excuse not voting with a dismissive ‘they are all the same.’

When I published my dissertation Turn Left To Power in May 1916, prior to the Brexit referendum the conclusion seemed to most fanciful.

‘An economic settlement which gives  the top one per cent as much as the other ninety-nine percent combined, cannot sustain and is not acceptable. Almost everything which has happened since Thatcher has favoured capital over labour. Yet without labour, capital is nothing. The Labour Party must live up to its name, stop dancing on a sixpence in the political centre, rediscover its reforming zeal and show that it has a radical programme which will restore the balance.’

At last the Labour Party has done just that. The people must decide if they want to take up the offer.

Election 2019: TV Debate

Thursday, November 21st, 2019

Boris Johnson is way ahead in the polls and the popular sentiment among much of the press and all Tories for Corbyn is derision. So Johnson should have wiped the floor with Corbyn in their TV debate. But he didn’t. He scored on the debating points, but descended into bluster on the issues. The YouGov poll afterwards gave a narrow win to Johnson 51% to Corbyn 49%. That should worry Tories. But the next bit should really scare them. Among undecided voters the same poll found Corbyn 59%  Johnson 41%.

The coming three weeks to polling day will be politically very interesting. Today is the launch of the Labour and Tory manifestos. Expect more from this blog when we have had a chance to gauge the reaction to them.

Trump And Impeachment

Friday, November 15th, 2019

This Blog is not persuaded that the Democrats are doing the right thing here. I have no doubt that Trump messes with foreign policy and operates outside the norms of the way things are supposed to be done. But it is because he is a maverick that he was elected. Shake everything up and drain the swamp.

So what was Obama’s VP actually doing with the Ukraine brief and why was his son a director of a company in the most corrupt country in Europe? And why did Biden want the prosecutor investigating his son’s company to be fired? There may be good answers to these questions, but they do not at once spring to mind.

The Democrats as far as I can make out brush aside the Biden questions and instead concentrate on the conditionality attached to US aid for Ukraine, by Trump in a phone call. I agree that call is mega dodgy by conventional standards, but to Trump standards is just a bit whiffy. It surely does not  reach the very high bar required for impeachment and even if the House voted for it, the Senate would never convict.

What is clear is that Biden’s bid for the presidency is over. If he did get nominated Trump would destroy him in the debates. If he survived and won, his presidency would be a failure. The democrats must get a modern candidate who can offer renewal to a polarised America and set about resolving the multitude of internal problems piling up. The Old White Men era is over. If it isn’t, America will stick with Trump.

Election 2019: TURN LEFT TO POWER: From .99p

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

As many regular readers know I am a writer and blogger who has been a keen political observer for more than sixty years. Born a Tory, I became a founder member of the SDP, before gradually migrating left. In 2014 I published my idea  Dynamic Quantitative Easing, which aroused some interest in high places. This forms a core element of Turn Left To Power, a powerful and compact analysis of Labour’s opportunity to regain power, published in 2016, before the leftward swing of the political conversation had become established. The idea then persisted that government from the centre, which had become a stale quagmire bereft of new ideas, was best.

Frank and at a times brutal, Turn Left To Power offers a collection of fundamental reforms which amount to a political revolution. By all accounts much of it will be similar to Labour’s 2019 Manifesto. But you may find the reasoning and analysis in my little book absorbing and if you are an activist, helpful in your campaigning. I am dismayed by the unfairness of the current economic model, but driven by the hope of a better future for the rising generation. 

Election 2019: Intelligence Report: What Are They Hiding?

Monday, November 11th, 2019

For those of you who are following the controversy surrounding the government’s decision not to publish the Select Committee’s report on Russian interference in our democracy and public life, here is a conspiracy theory for you to enjoy over coffee.

Suppose the report shows a sufficient degree of Russian social media bot accounts and opaque campaign funding in support of the Leave campaign in the 2016 referendum as to cast doubt on the integrity of the outcome?

Basically the Leave campaign runs Downing Street now. Such a disclosure would blow their Brexit driven general election platform to bits. Wow. No wonder they will not release it.

Enjoy your coffee.

Election 2019: Opinion Polls: Beware The Headlines

Saturday, November 9th, 2019

The election campaign is now underway and headlines about opinion polls are beginning to appear, depending on the political leaning of the paper or media outlet, purporting to show a trend or tell a story. The words collapse and surge will be used often. Crumble is another favourite. Several such polls have made comparisons with the 2017 general election, which is pointless, because in that election  the Tories and Labour took over 80% of the votes between them. In other words in England and Wales it was a two party race.

This time around there are four main parties in play. Obviously Tory and Labour, but also the Lib Dems and Scot Nats, both of which can seriously affect the outcome. Minor parties, the Greens, Plaid Cymru, the Brexit Party and the DUP may impact the margin but will be unlikely, or indeed cannot, win very many seats with our current electoral system or because of their regional identity. But since tactical voting will be common, opinion pollsters will have a real challenge. Moreover there are different key issues in different parts of the country. Leaving the EU no matter what as soon as possible, stopping Brexit altogether, rebooting the economy with massive spending and investment, the Union above everything in Northern Ireland, independence in Scotland.

My key themes remain broadly true. The election will be decided during the final three weeks of the campaign. If completing Brexit is the number one issue, the Tories will be the largest party, maybe even with a majority. But if ending austerity, remodeling the economy and improving public services take hold as the priorities on the doorstep, it will be a government led by Corbyn.