Wednesday, 9 November 2016



Sunday, 6 November 2016

F1 2016: The crunch

We're coming down to the crunch in the 2016 F1 season. There's two races to go and Nico Rosberg is 19 points ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

Nico Rosberg has definitely had his best ever season and won some races decisively. He has had quite a lot of luck, however, as Hamilton has suffered from multiple engine related problems. Two qualifying sessions in the early part of the season put Lewis towards the back of the grid, resulting in Lewis changing multiple engines in Belgium to build up his number of working engines and starting from the back again. Finally, his engine blowing up in Malaysia when he was near the end of the race in the lead and about to regain the lead in the championship was nearly a final straw.

Without those failures, it's hard to see how Rosberg would be in with a chance in this championship.

But, we are where we are.

There are two races left. Rosberg has won the last two Brazilian Grand Prix, and Hamilton has never won there. If history repeats itself and Rosberg wins again then he will be this year's champion. But Brazil has a habit of throwing up some unusual races. Quite often it rains and catches out some of the top players. Also, I'm not sure whether Rosberg has ever won a rain affected race - where Hamilton is a rain supremo.

If Hamilton was to get his first ever Brazilian GP win and Rosberg crashed out or drove defensively to a lower place in the points, like Monaco's race this year, then it will be game on.

Either way, this Brazil Grand Prix will be decisive, I think. If Hamilton comes out on top and back in the game, then I expect him to win the ABu Dhabi GP and win the championship. If Rosberg wins then I expect him to take the Abu Dhabi GP as well as his first championship.

Only if Hamilton wins and Rosberg is second or third, do we go onto to Abu Dhabi with it all still to play for. Hamilton know never to give up, in 2007 he was 17 points ahead of Raikkonen going into the last two races with 20 points available and yet Raikkonen won. Hamilton must be hoping for that misfortune to be cancelled out this time round.

We also don't know whether Rosberg will tighten up in these crunch rounds. So far he has been strong and stable so we should expect not, but you never know.

This time next week some of these questions will be answered.


Thursday, 20 October 2016

Oi thickie. We knew what we voted for?

I'm getting increasingly incensed by being told that I did not know what I was voting for in the EU referendum. I feel like a large number of the political elite are extremely condescending.

Yes, I'm thinking of you Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband. Here is Nick Clegg in full condescension mode.

Apparently not one single voter said to Nick that they were voting leave to 'stop British exporters from their untrammeled access to their largest markets in Europe'. Well, I must say I'm surprised, that's what most people were saying on my high street! No, it's a straw man set up to be ridiculous.

The video shows leaders of both the remain and leave camps saying that leaving the EU would mean leaving the single market. We all knew that we would still be trading with the single market but would not be bound by the wealth of regulations in the rest of our economy.

Most people I know who voted leave knew £350m a week would not be going to the NHS - it was indicative, but wanted to have control over our laws, regulations and borders. Hence, we knew it was going to be a so called 'hard' Brexit.

We felt the EU was going in the wrong direction, and had been for a quarter of a century, and repeated attempts to change direction were rebuffed.

They are treating us like we are stupid, but

We knew what we were voting for - you thickie

Of course, Nick Clegg knows that most people did know what they were voting for. He is not thick, I just said that for effect. Like he does.

He is pushing for votes on various aspects of Brexit. The more votes the better. He wants to frustrate the process at all stage. He gives not one damn about democracy. The Lib Dem 2005 manifesto actually proposed an in/out referendum but he forgot about this when it became inconvenient.

There will be so many different ways in which Parliament will be pushed for votes, the Government is going to have to be vigilant.

I hope that Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband lose their seats at the next election. Let's show them what democracy is all about.


Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Free Trade Agreements, access and membership of the Single Market

Now that we have made the momentous decision to leave the EU, we are constantly asking ourselves what does Brexit look like?

In much the same way as people get confused about the difference between debt and deficit, there is a great deal of confusion between free trade agreements, membership and access of the single market. I thought I might give you what I understand to be the differences, and what I think we should aim for.

Firstly, free trade agreements are generally agreements between two countries in which they agree not to impose tariffs (a tax) on imported goods and services. This may be across the board or only on goods, or in certain sectors of the economy. Many countries have these and there are some cases where there is a free trade agreement between a country and the EU. Within the EU we are in effect in a free trade agreement with the other 27 nations of the EU.

What is the EU single market? It is a customs union in which all members agree not to impose import tariffs, i.e. a free trade agreement between the 28 nations including ourselves.

Is that all? No. The single market is more than that. When you sell goods into the US the goods you sell must adhere to US regulations, likewise with the EU. The Single Market makes it so that every country within the EU has the same regulations, so as a member you know that if you make something for France it will also be good enough for Germany. Being a member of the Single Market means that you agree to adhere to all the EU regulations for all your goods and services (though the single market in services is not yet harmonized).

That sounds great, so we must have access to the single market? Yes, of course we must have access to the single market - but that's not really in question. The US has access to the single market, Western Samoa has access to the single market. Access just means that you are able to sell into the single market - well you can as long as the goods you sell adhere to EU regulations, just like with the US.

So what's the confusion? Some politicians and commentators confuse access to the single market with membership of the single market. We will have access, but whether we are a member is the crux.

It sounds good to be a member of the single market, so why would we not want to be? Those EU regulations which we need to adhere to, we also need to adhere to them for any goods which we don't intend to export to the EU. In fact around 95% of our economy does not export, and some of this regulation is very heavy handed. We could have lighter British regulation for all our economy, and then apply EU regulations for only those exporting to the EU.

Any other drawbacks on being a member? Yes. The EU has made it so that the single market negotiates with other countries on free trade agreements as a Block, which is why we have not been able to have FTA's with like minded countries like the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and tigers such as India and China. Being outside, we can push ahead with new FTA's.

Furthermore as a custom's union, the single market does impose import tariffs on external countries, even if the UK does not wish to. Agricultural goods from Africa are cheaper, but with tariffs are more expensive. This is to protect inefficient french farmers and the common agricultural policy. Outside the single market we can drop those tariffs and get cheaper food from Africa which will help us and help Africa.

Also the EU single market membership holds that free movement of peoples is a pre-requisite which is why immigration has become an issue and, unless the EU becomes more flexible, the reason why we will have to stop being members.

The way in which Theresa May has set up the new departments, one for Brexit and an International
Trade seems to infer that we will have to stop being members of the single market (otherwise we could not negotiate FTA's).

I would bet my bottom dollar on not being members of the single market but having a free trade agreement with the single market in all areas which are already covered.

Hope that explains.


Wednesday, 13 July 2016

A big day for May. A bad day for Labour and UKIP.

Theresa May becomes Prime Minister today, and I wish her well. She's a bit cold but maybe that is going to be useful in the upcoming negotiations with the EU.

I just hope her re-shuffle shows a break from Cameronism and embraces Brexit. I want to see George Osborne moving on from the Chancellorship, the Foreign Office is ok. I don't want to see Philip Hammond as Chancellor as he is gloomy, miserable and still scare mongering - even now. We need an optimist and someone radical to simplify the tax code. Maybe Gove, maybe Dominic Raab.

She should keep Gove in as either chief negotiator or to finish his Justice reforms. Boris should be brought in as maybe Party Chairman or Education Secretary. If not Gove then David Davis would be great as chief negotiator. She does have a few good female talents to draw on, Priti Patel, Amber Rudd and Anna Soubry. She could put Andrea Leadsom in as Treasury Number 2. We'll see.

Yesterday's meeting of the Labour NEC came up with the correct result of having Jeremy Corbyn on the ballot paper. He needs to be destroyed by a legitimate democratic voice and not a stitch-up. They then came up with silly rules to exclude new members from voting, but allowing registered supporters. They need to sort this out quickly. If Corbyn is ousted, Labour would do well to copy the Tory party process.

UKIP went equally mad yesterday and excluded every one from their leadership ballot who has not been a member for 5 years. The party has only been in existence for 20 years or so and the last 5 years has been their best. In one foul swoop they have taken out their brightest and most able media performers, especially Suzanne Evans and Douglas Carswell. Carswell does not want to be leader but Suzanne Evans would have added respectability to the party as she is likeable. It's now got an unknown in Stephen Wolf and Diane James who I don't rate. I think UKIP won't be around as a political force in 5 years time.


Monday, 11 July 2016

Understanding Corbynistas

I had a conversation with a left wing friend the other day and he was saying how great a leader Jeremy Corbyn was. I was incredulous. How could an otherwise sensible man believe this? He couldn't understand why I couldn't see it.

Today I was listening to the Iain Dale programme on LBC and to a man who was calling Angela Eagle a Blairite or Thatcherite! In the days of Tony Blair you would have said that Angela Eagle was on the left of the party (just not as left as Corbyn). The caller then said that the vast majority of people who don't vote are supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, but obviously there is no evidence for this at all!

I think the caller exposed something though which I think is key to understanding Corbynistas. I think that people on the far left believe that everyone, by default, has the same beliefs as them.

I mean how could anyone believe anything different? And if they do believe something different, then if you're right wing then you must be evil and if you are centre-left then you are a traitor.

It is for this reason why moderate Labour MPs are being bombarded with extremely negative messages on twitter and facebook. They are being bullied with horrendous and vicious attacks - some sexist, racist and homophobic messages - from the supposed party of equality.

It is so easy to surround yourself with people who have the same views, especially on the new media of Twitter and Facebook. It's called the 'echo chamber' as you have your own views echoed back to you. Momentum is a big echo chamber of the far left and their member's are extremely vociferous in giving their views, but I doubt it will ever get more than one million members.

The members of the far left, though, forget about the silent millions of centre-left voters who want a reasonable Government with a bigger state but not a ruling state. It will become clear to them when the Labour party splits as it soon will in one way or another. But the people who don't support the people's front are traitors anyway aren't they?


Saturday, 9 July 2016

Corbyn vs PLP (or Eagle vs Corbyn)

It looks like Angela Eagle is set to challenge Jeremy Corbyn for leadership of the Labour party on Monday.

I cannot believe how slow the Labour party coup has been. It's taken two weeks already and the Labour party looks like a joke. The Tory party does this so much better, they do not accept crap leaders for long. And if Angela Eagle is the best challenger it shows the paucity of talent in the Labour ranks.

The Labour party is a mess from top to bottom. The party members are not representative of Labour voters. The Parliamentary Labour Party is not representative of the membership and Corbyn does not represent the PLP.

If Jeremy Corbyn wins there will have to be a split. The moderates will have to leave and set up a new party.

If Angela Eagle wins, will Momentum split taking Jeremy Corbyn and his small band of far left wingers?

I don't think the broad church of the Labour can sustain any longer, it just remains to be seen who takes custody of the Labour name and party machinery.


May vs Leadson

The Tory party leader and next Prime Minister will either be Theresa May or Andrea Leadsom.

I think Michael Gove would be the best Prime Minister, he is a radical with great ideas on social justice. Unfortunately, by the way he treated Boris Johnson, he has seriously damaged his credentials and so was third out of the leadership contest.

The two ladies fighting it out now do not fill me with enthusiasm, like David Cameron did, and so I hope the hustings will show some ideas which get my mouth watering.

I think, though, that I want Theresa May to win. I think her experience will be very valuable. She has styled herself as the new Iron Lady and I hope she is able to live up to the original. I don't like the fact that we have two months of campaigning, we desperately need a new PM soon to start taking away the doubt in this post-referendum world. In fact it would be great if Andrea Leadsom stood down so we could have a new PM immediately.

The last few days has shown that Andrea is a bit politically naive and I hope she learns from this. She seems to have picked up the right wing and UKIPpers - which worries me greatly. She would benefit from a cabinet job in Theresa May Government.


Rosberg vs Hamilton

Last week in Austria Nico Rosberg made a mistake, collided with Lewis Hamilton and damaged his car. Note, how I lay the blame on Nico Rosberg. Lewis Hamilton left Nico plenty of room to turn, Nico left Hamilton none and only turned at the last moment.

Let's trace this back.

Rosberg started it.

In Bahrain 2014 we witnessed a fantastic race with overtaking hard but fair on both sides, with Hamilton coming out on top. All nice and clean. Apart from the fact that Rosberg had used an engine setting with more power - against Mercedes' own rule to get close to Hamilton.

Two races later in Spain, Hamilton retaliated and used the 'forbidden' engine mode to stay ahead of Rosberg to take the win.

Then Monaco. In qualifying, Rosberg had a very suspicious off, destroying Hamilton's lap as Rosberg was running ahead of him on the track. He even reversed back onto the track. It was clearly a foul. Hamilton was incandescent.

In Hungary, Hamilton had another problem in qualifying with his car on fire and so he had to come through the field. Hamilton and Rosberg found themselves running 3rd and 4th. Hamilton was asked to allow Rosberg to pass, but as he was still in the hunt for the win he said he wouldn't slow down - Rosberg would have to get closer, which he didn't.

In Spa, Rosberg got a good run on Hamilton up Les Combes and tried to pass but managed to clip Hamilton's rear tyre puncturing it. There was a public flair up and the first laying down of the law by Toto Wolff.

Turn to 2015.

In Japan, Hamilton was aggressive into the first corner, leaving Rosberg 'out to dry' as Hamilton had the racing line.

In Austin, again into the first corner on a wet track, Rosberg was slightly ahead on the outside, with Hamilton on the inside trying to turn and with cold brakes going straight on pushing Rosberg out. This is the most similar situation to the recent Austria incident, but Hamilton had cold brakes and tried to turn. Incidentally, Rosberg said he was 'slightly ahead so had the luxury to take the racing line.' Remember that.

Now to 2016.

In Spain, Rosberg passed Hamilton off the line but was in the wrong engine mode and stopped picking up speed as they went through turn three. Hamilton closed fast and went for the inside but Rosberg closed the space and went into Hamilton. Both were out, but both were at fault.

In Canada, Rosberg again got partially alongside Hamilton after the start but was on the outside and Hamilton again, with cold brakes, was about to take the racing line with Rosberg having to take to the grass. They had banged wheels.

Finally Austria. Interestingly, Hamilton was slightly ahead on the outside, Rosberg had failing brakes. This time Rosberg said 'he had the inside line and so was able to take the racing line' - which is the opposite of what he said in the race in Austin! He didn't even take the racing line, he failed to turn in and specifically pushed Hamilton wide.

In conclusion. Rosberg started hostilities. Hamilton has raced hard but fair and when he forced them to touch, they banged wheels with both cars continuing. Rosberg when racing wheel to wheel makes too many mistakes and causes bits to fall off cars. Hamilton is a better racer. That's why Hamilton has 3 world championships.