Friday, 9 June 2017

Oh my. Britain makes a bad decision

In all my days, the British people have made the right decision at a General Election. This time they haven't.

The result looks like the Tories just shy of a majority, and Labour strengthened. This likely looks like Theresa May will have to resign, and Jeremy Corbyn will stay. That's the wrong way round.

Although the Tory campaign was woeful, I thought the British people would choose a proven pragmatist over an untried idealist.

I was wrong. Like some of the opinion polls. I'm going to stop giving predictions.

A hung parliament at this time, 11 days before the start of Brexit negotiations, leaves the country up in the air. Will Theresa May still be PM, or will there need to be a quick election? Will there have to be a new General Election?

It saddens me that so many of the population were seduced by the Corbyn spending and motherhood and apple pie, thinking that they wouldn't have to pay for it. It's so naive. Maybe letting Labour win and grind the country into the ground will wipe away the hopes of the ideologues, but we'll all suffer.

It will be interesting for the next few hours.

Squiffy.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

The polls will open tomorrow

The polls will open tomorrow at the end of this snap election.

It's been an interesting period, but not the most enlightening. I'm not sure we know much more than we did when it was called. It's been a horrific time for the UK with two terrorist attacks too.

What can we draw from this period?

It's been the worst Conservative campaign I can remember. It's not been inspiring, it's not been focused and it's not been leading the news cycles. I remember the days when the Prime Minister would hold a news conference in the morning, and the news at lunch and in the evening would lead with it. That was in the 80's and 90's though. Jeremy Corbyn has been leading the bulletins.

I like Theresa May, but she has been robotic. I don't think she likes the set pieces, but is much better when it is more informal.

Jeremy Corbyn has had a great campaign. I suppose we should expect that: he has been campaigning for 30 years non stop, addressing rallies and protesting. He has done a serious responsible job in Government though and his time as leader of his party (apart from the last few weeks) has been atrocious.

Tim Farron's campaign has been rubbished. They attached themselves to the 50% of the 48% of remainers that want to overturn he result, that's 24% of the electorate. And they're doing worse than that, polls show that at 7%. I cannot remember anything liberal or democratic about their manifesto. The only thing that stands out is 1 pence on income tax and a second referendum. Both are unappealing.

UKIP are nowhere, the greens just annoy.

I was wrong the other week when I thought the Tory campaign would come good, and Corbyn would come a cropper due to his bad temper.

And the polls have narrowed.

But I don't believe them. I think they over-represent the youth, and the Labour areas. Remember to add 3% on the Tory shares, and take 3% from the Labour shares.

I expect tomorrow the vote share will be around Tories 46%, Labour 33%, Lib Dems 13%, UKIP 4%, SNP 4%.

We shall see tomorrow, but it will be an exciting evening (as always). I love elections!

Squiffy.


Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Election round-up


We're two weeks into the General Election campaign and so I thought I'd give my thoughts on what we've seen.

The Tories have so far had a lacklustre campaign, based solely around Theresa May. There have been very few policy pledges and so far nothing to write home about. I'm wondering if the Tories are keeping their powder dry and will wait for Labour to show their hand before bringing out new policies. For their sake, I hope so. If they are going to win big anyway, it's better if they have a radical manifesto.

The Labour party have shown quite a lot of policies so far, and on the surface they look attractive. More money for NHS workers, more money for schools, more money for police forces to recruit 10000/250000 officers (depending on which paper Diane Aboot is reading), more money for social care. Of course the common theme is "more money". Now the left is in control of Labour they only have one answer for every problem. I wonder what their answer is to the problem of the £50 billion deficit!

The flip side of all the spending, is tax rises. Corporation Tax up, Capital Gains Tax up, Vat on private schools up, Fees on private health care. It's quite easy to see where this is going. The behavioural changes of tax increases means that in the long run, the tax take will be reduced, and so the tax rises will have to spread wider. Corporation tax gong up by a third is certainly going to have an effect. Since it has been reduced the tax take from corporate profits has gone up from £43Bn to £49Bn. No wonder Labour see this as a magic money tree.

The Lib Dems have had a bad start, with a whole week taken over by whether Tim Farron thinks gay sex is a sin. There have been mentions of 1p tax rise for the NHS, which is nice and won't be too bad but will have very little effect. One thing that struck me this morning is that Tim Farron has ruled out any pacts or deals with other parties, which means that there is no point to the LibDems. Unless they are an alternative government then a minor party can only ever have influence by teaming up with a larger party. They have been confined to irrelevance, and back to an old Lib Dem position. They finally found some realism going into the 2010 election.

UKIP are finished, and they know it.

The Greens have been banging on about a progressive alliance, but no one else is taking the bait. I don't know what other policies they may have.

Let's see where we get to in a couple of weeks time when the manifestos have been published.

Squiffy.

P..S. I'm looking forward to the Question Time editions with Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn. Both of them tend to stay away from the general public and go to events of loyalists. She will have to appear not robotic and he will have to keep his temper in check.

Monday, 24 April 2017

What an absolute shower! Part One...

This is a little commentary on the Labour Party during this election campaign.


It's been less than a week since the election was called. At the end of last week Dawn Butler had a car crash interview on the PM programme with Eddie Mair. In it she was trying to claim that Theresa May had rigged the election, by calling it! It's a pretty unusual claim. She then said it had been rigged because the PM had got around the Fixed Term Parliament's Act, but when challenged that Labour had voted for it she had no real response. She then claimed it had been rigged because the Tories were reducing the number of MPs to 600. When asked how many MPs there would be after the election, she had to say the truth: there would be 650 (the boundary changes come in next year). It was a horrific interview!

Jeremy Corbyn managed to last at least a few days without getting into serious trouble but then came his 'big' Sunday interview with Andrew Marr. The first question posed was very hypothetical, if Jeremy Corbyn was elected the first task would be to write letters to the nuclear submarine captains with instructions what to do if Britain had been struck and there was no command structure. Corbyn responded: 'I would stress that we believe in a non nuclear world'. Well, I'm sure the sub captains will find that very reassuring. He went on: 'We believe in peaceful negotiations, and shall try to get the 6 parties together for talks on Korea'. Sure, that's all well and good PM, should I press the button?

When asked if the policy was still for trident renewal, he said the manifesto was not finished yet and that it was up for discussion. Today on the Daily Politics the shadow defence spokeswoman, Nia Griffiths, distanced herself and said the Labour Party policy is to renew trident. Great, but we know, as do all our enemies, that if they strike first, our sub commanders will open envelopes with nothing better than a 'Get Well Soon' message inside! Not much of a deterrence, but then Corbyn doesn't quite understand that principle!

When Corbyn, finally squeaked out something approaching a decent answer to Andrew Marr on the submarine question it was 'Wait for orders' - which would be great if Downing Street had not been annihilated.

The other interesting question was about a drone strike on the leader of ISIS, al-Baghdadi, if the defence and intelligence staff had good knowledge of his whereabouts. Again Corbyn could not say, 'let's take out the bastard' and made usual noises about negotiation and it would be better if he was not around but without any decisive action.

As expected, a complete shower. He will need to answer some of these questions better soon.

Squiffy.


Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Snap. Didn't see that coming



Theresa May surprised everyone today by putting the wheels in motion for a General Election on 8th June. Normally there are rumours in the weekend papers, but this weekend there were some rumours that she wouldn't face the next election due to not enjoying being PM and with overtones of ill health. When Gordon Brown became PM there were rumours for weeks, which is why it did so much damage when he bottled it.

I completely understand the PMs move. I am sure that she didn't want this election right now and that she meant what she had said when ruled out the election, but apparently on her walking holiday over Easter it dawned on her that to secure Brexit she needed to face down those in parliament determined to frustrate the will of the referendum, and at the same time secure an increase majority for her programme. She would also be able to ditch some of the commitments that David Cameron had made (such as no increase in NI whatsoever).

The timing is brilliant. Just before negotiations really begin, but after Article 50 has been invoked, ensuring that she gets the mandate for her version of Brexit as set out in the white paper.

I've heard a bit of rubbish today though. Firstly, that it's undemocratic for a PM to be able to decide the timing of a general election. How is that undemocratic? If you don't like what she has to offer you can vote against it.

Secondly, that it's political opportunism. Well of course. What PM wouldn't choose the timing of the General Election if they could? Tony Blair did it, Thatcher did it, Harold Wilson did it twice. The Fixed Term Parliaments Act was to re-assure the LibDems that the Tories wouldn't run at the earliest opportunity and bring down the coalition. And if you think that is cynical, it's called coalition politics.

Thirdly, from Paul Mason - the extreme left winger - that now is the time for a progressive alliance. How many times have were heard this? It's not going to happen, especially with that Mason's goon Corbyn running the Labour party!


Anyway, we have 7 full weeks before the election, and it's time to see what this new set of leaders make of it. I expect Theresa May to be competent but remote (she's already said that she won't be in leaders debates). Corbyn to be a catastrophe for his party but with a good start to the campaign descending into rancour and division (let's just wait until he really loses his temper when he has to face the real public and not one of his rallies). Farron will have quite a good campaign and the LibDems will do well. Nuttall will be practically invisible.

I expect Ruth Davidson to really take Nicola Sturgeon on too!

I predict at the end, the Tories will be on 44%, Labour on 25%, LibDems on 18%, UKIP 5%. There will be a Tory Majority of 100ish.

The question following the election is who will be the new Labour leader!

Looking forward to this next campaign.

Squiffy.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Breaking: Article 50 has triggered, the world has not fallen in

Two weeks ago Theresa May triggered Article 50. So far there has been no major change discernible, even Sterling has stayed relatively stable.

We were told everything was going to go to crap as soon as the referendum delivered the 'leave' vote, and it didn't. Then it was going to be when Article 50 was triggered, and it hasn't. I'm guess that we'll continue to get these warnings through the negotiations and then again when we finally leave. Has anybody heard about the boy who cried wolf?

Just one more thing, if I see another Remainer say that we didn't vote for an extreme/hard/soft/welsh/blue/poor Brexit I will scream. They have no idea. Just like Remainers didn't vote for a single state EU/new EU settlement/two speed Europe/seven speed Europe/EU with benefits. They have no idea. The simple fact is people voted to leave the EU, and it was explained to them in literature and interviews by the leaders of both campaigns that it meant leaving the single market and ECJ. Now don't treat people as fools.

Squiffy.

F1 2017 is here



Usually I give a brief look at how the new F1 season is looking but I'm a bit late this year!

We've already had two races in to the season. Vettel has won one, Hamilton the other. Both are leading the championship. It has already become clear that the Mercedes and Ferraris are equally matched, as are their two lead drivers. Whilst Bottas and Raikkonen are a little behind their lead drivers, it looks like the constructors championship will be extremely tight too!

Red Bull have been 30 to 40 seconds back in both races and a bit of a disappointment quite frankly. The reset in the regulations was supposed to be Adrian Newey's chance to catch up, but the car looks clean though under-developed where the Mercedes and Ferrari are the real deal. Maybe they will get there, but I suspect it will be too late to have a huge impact on the championship.

Williams are looking quite good, as are Toro Rosso, but Force India and Renault have quite a bit of catch up to do. The huge disappointment, yet again, is McLaren. The engine yet again is under powered, too thirsty and too unreliable. Alonso is putting a brave face on it, but he won't be there next year. I would not be surprised at all if he walked out mid-year. He has wasted a large amount of his career in non championship winning cars, and that is partly his fault for the way he treated management in his first stint at McLaren.

What about the new rules?

Good so far. The cars have the right shape, the tyres are back to being wide, the rear-wing lower again. It's like the last 19 years have not happened! Apart for the tail fin and the far too complicated wings, flips and flaps. Looking back to last year's car and they already look wrong, just like I felt when they were first introduced.

China showed that overtaking is possible but difficult. Just like it was without DRS. I guess DRS was invented when the rear wings were higher and are just less effective with the lower wings.

I'm liking it so far and the championship race ahead is going to be very exciting. This could be a classic season.

Squiffy

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Theresa May's Brexit speech

Today the Prime Minister gave a reasonably detailed view of the Government's position for Brexit.

I have one thing to say: Wow. Just Wow.

The speech ticked every box. It was ambitious but realistic, sound and measured, detailed but not too detailed. It confirmed what I have been saying for a long time, we'll be out of the single market, will have control over our laws, be practically out of the customs union, and have a comprehensive free trade deal.

She even did enough to say that we are prepared to walk away : "no deal is better than a bad deal" and made a little threat about what we can withdraw from.

I was immensely proud and pleased.

Afterwards I started thinking about the post Brexit world and the contrast to what we've had for all of my life.

Imagine not having those horrendous EU summits every few months where we get ganged up on, where we are forced to swallow some horrible new centralisation. Let's forget all those treaties transferring more powers to the EU. Let's forget all the bashing about taking away our rebate. Let's forget having to choose between a bunch of nobodies to run the most powerful bodies, and then have our choices ignored. Let's ignore all the directives. Let's forget about the wasteful French farmers. Let's forget the ratchet driving towards ever closer union.

Let's think of the new trade deals we can do. Let's think of the laws we can enact, the freedoms we can have again. Let's privatise the railways in the way we want. Let's become the embodiment of free trade. Let's import from Africa with no import tariffs helping to reduce poverty. Let us be free.

Squiffy.