Sunday, 22 October 2017

Brexit round-up

We're five months into the Brexit negotiations. Many people think it is not going well, but I think differently - in fact I think is is going as well as can be expected.

We all knew beforehand that the EU would make a big effort to extort as much money out of the UK as possible - so it's unsurprising that the EU is holding out as long as possible before trade talks begin. In fact these parts of the negotiations, I believe, will be the hard part and the trade negotiations should be easier. That's because we start from a position of already having free trade and so there must be an effort to increase tariffs from one side or the other.

I believe that if we're close to starting trade talks then we must have got over a lot of issues with some sticking points remaining. But they should not be too much of an obstacle to a successful deal.

What I don't like is the back-biting on the Tory benches, and the rubbish spoken by prize idiot Juncker and his MEP side kick Guy Verhofstadt. Each time they speak they want me to urge walking away without a deal. They make me so angry! I heard their state of the nation speech and the old views of a federal Europe. I just think thank God we're getting out in time. If the EU continues on that path it is sure to disintegrate.

Nick Clegg and others make me angry in another way, by saying things which are patently untrue (and I know the £350m a day was an exaggeration). Peter Mandelson, the other day, said that 'no-one had said leaving the EU would mean leaving the single market' - when he actually said just that in the referendum campaign. Cleggy is pushing for a different kind of Europe with differing levels of membership. If only the EU had agreed to this before the vote, when Cameron wanted a different settlement. It's too late now.

I think there will be a deal, and once there is, it will be very difficult for MPs to back away from it.

Squiffy.

Nearly number 4 for Lewis


It's getting to the end of the F1 season and in a few hours it is possible we will see Lewis Hamilton crowned World Champion for the fourth time. Though it is unlikely. The likelihood is that he will be World Champion next week unless Ferrari screw up again. He will deserve the championship.

At the beginning of the year he was having a little difficulty with the Mercedes W08. The car is fast but the tyres have to get into the right working temperature and at some places that has been difficult. The Mercedes is temperamental and not the overwhelming power of previous seasons. In many ways this years Ferrari has been a better car. It's a car for all seasons, been good at all circuits and in Vettel's hand's has been extremely quick. It's only failure has been in wet conditions.

Until a few races ago it looked like it could be either Vettel or Hamilton winning the world championship, and it still technically is, but it is now overwhelmingly Hamilton's to lose. Ferrari has partially imploded. Vettel made a second mistake (after Baku) in Singapore being too aggressive into the first corner, and then reliability gremlins raised their heads in the next two races. I thought reliability may become an issue for Ferrari but not to this extent.

The problem for Ferrari, now, is that it looks like the image of the pre-Jean Todt era. In which case failure is not an option, and heads roll, on a regular basis. No one feels safe and are expected to have immediate results. When Jean Todt and Ross Brawn took over Ferrari they kept the president Luca Di Montezemolo away from the team as far as possible and took failures as something they could all learn from and  improve. It took them 3 years to become the super force of the 2000-2006 era and there were plenty of failures and blow-ups but it came good.

I read that pre-1996 every morning all senior managers arrived to find a daily assortment of press clippings on their desks from the very critical Italian media. Not exactly bring the spirit of team harmony.

We now stand on the cusp of Lewis Hamilton's 4th World Championship. He had a difficult start to the season but has come back stronger and at the moment no one can really touch him. He is outstanding, especially in qualifying. He now holds the record for most pole positions, most first row starts. He still needs to win 30 more races to equal Schumacher's record which is a tall order, but if anyone can it's Hamilton. I believe he stands at the same level of greatness.

In actual fact slightly greater. Why? Because he has not insisted on having a number 2 driver. Rosberg was equal number 1. Also he has not been dirty on the track like Schumacher vs Hill in Adelaide 94, Villeneuve Jerez 97, and Alonso Monaco 2006. He lets his driving do the talking. FIrm but fair.

In a few hours we will know. Let's hope Austin is wet and a good race. I can wait until Mexico, in fact it may be better so that I can open some champagne.

Squiffy.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Down and nearly out


It's been a few weeks since the General Election. Now the dust has settled, the Government is in position with a deal with the DUP, and the Brexit negotiations have started. So how do I feel?

Depressed and resigned.

I'm unhappy to see how Theresa May has been treated. Yes, she ran a crap campaign. Yes, she avoided debate and yes she wasn't brilliant in the interviews. I was mystified before the election why Mrs May had sky high approval ratings, I'm now mystified by the entire country and press turning on her so completely. She increased the Tory vote by 6%, that's not failure in my book.

The contrast is with a jubilant Labour party and Jeremy Corbyn, who did have success in increasing the Labour vote by 10%. All those MPs who complained beforehand are now falling into line. They seem to think they won the election! It's just the maths that prove them wrong.

The Tories are still in power, able to negotiate Brexit.

So why depressed?

I'm depressed that 40% can vote for a wish list of undeliverable promises, paid for by taxes on companies (with no side effects). I'm depressed that 40% can vote for someone who has sided with every enemy of Britain: Hamas, IRA, Russia and Iran.

I'm heartened that even with a rubbish Tory campaign, a realistic manifesto but with no goodies, ann a good Labour campaign, Labour still could not win the election.

I fear the tide maybe turning. It looks like the lessons of history are about to be ignored, and we may take a leap into the socialist quagmire. Maybe I'm resigned to it. Maybe this is a fight that needs to be won every 40 years ago. Let them into power, let them make a great mess of everything, and then come along to fix it.

Unfortunately we've just done that. The Tories have tried to fix the issues for the last 7 years, pulling us out of a huge deficit and it looks like people's appetite for corrective surgery is at and end and they want to go on a spending spree again.

I'd like to see a Tory Government come in occasionally with benign circumstances, able to shape the country and not look like heartless bastards. But it never happens!

It is also depressing that the new Government seems to have no rudder with many ministers saying what they want. Philip Hammond specifically needs reigning in. It's time Theresa May put her kitten heel down and laid down the law. Even if threatened by her ministers. This cannot go on. It already has the feel of the 1992 Major Government.

I think Theresa May needs to stay until Brexit is complete and then hand over to David Davis, or one of the younger crowd. I'd like to see Dominic Raab get a big job, so that he may become a runner when the time comes.

Anyway, I need to lie down.

Squiffy.

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.