Tuesday, 2 February 2016

EU Turn if you want to. I want to: Tatty Bye

Today David Cameron unveiled his plans for a renegotiation of our arrangement with the EU.

When he announced in his Bloomberg speech that he was planning for a comprehensive renegotiation of Britain's place in the EU I was ecstatic. Finally a Prime Minister who would have the guts to take us back to a trading relationship with our EU partners. We could lay the EU matter to rest at last knowing there would be no more power grabs from the bureaucrats.

By the time of the election I was disappointed, three platitudinous aims worthy of an EdStone and one small tactic to try to nudge immigrants into not coming here. Nothing about the ruinous Common Agriculture and Fisheries Policies, nothing about the primacy of the British parliament, nothing about protecting our service industries such as finance away from the loony schemes on the continent. Still, I thought, maybe he was trying to give us low expectations so that we could be amazed by the sheer scale of his renegotiation when it was revealed.

It's become clear, and today's reveal makes it crystal clear, that we haven't even got the crappy aims of the manifesto.

It's with a heavy heart that I will have to refuse the appeal of the Prime Minister and vote Leave at the referendum. I will give my fuller reasons this weekend, but it has come time to get off the fence, and say that I don't think we can ever get a good deal from Europe and so it would be better for us to be out.


Sunday, 24 January 2016

The Report of Reports

This week there have been two reports published into the failures of the 2015 General Election, one by the Labour party and one by the pollsters.

The Labour Party's report shows how far the party has to travel in order to be electable. Not by the eloquent way in which it describes how Labour had piecemeal populist policies, but no overriding economic plan. Or by the way in which it aptly suggests that they chose the wrong leader in 2010 and couldn't ever recover from that. Or even that Labour became a complete joke with the EdStone.

No, the report didn't tackle these issues. It said that Labour had let them be blamed for the economic crisis but it wasn't their fault. Ed Miliband was a great leader, but those nasty media types had it in for him. Or that their policies were great but most people didn't know about them.

Ostriches and sand come to mind.

Labour lost due to the horrible Tories, the nasty media, and I guess, the public's stupidity. Not a problem with Labour at all.

It should be remembered that only three Labour leaders have ever commanded a majority in parliament in their 100 year odd history. In my lifetime there has only been one, in which there have been three Tory PMs. The only Labour leader in recent times to be successful has been the one nearest the centre of the electorate and not on the left. This is where the public is. And if there is no viable centre, the public likes to dress to the right rather than the less.

Since the election Labour has moved even further left under Jeremy Corbyn. I guess Labour will have to wait for the next electoral disaster report.

The second report went into the reasons why the pollsters got it all wrong in the lead up to the election. This report was more reasoned and explained that the methodologies weren't really to blame. It also said that there wasn't much bunching of polls, although that is slightly hard to believe. Their main finding was that they hadn't sampled enough Tories.

Which when you think about it - is obvious, after all that was the outcome. But what they mean is that the voters they contacted - and had responses from - were more likely to be Labour voters and so were more represented. The theory is that Tories are less likely to answer the phone to pollsters and have less time to fill in online polls. That's probably a reasonable theory, but it's difficult to make adjustments, maybe they have to add more weight to the Tory voters. They already have to do this since the 1992 election fiasco. But it makes you wonder if the bias is so great smaller fluctuations will be exaggerated.

There's two ways joe public can handle these polls until any new polling techniques have been proven to tally accurately with election results. On normal voting intention polls, add three percent to the Tory percentage and subtract three from the Labour percentage.

Alternatively, if you just want to know who will win the general election for sure forget voting intention polls and look at the leader ratings, and who the voters trust with the economy. If both these are favouring one party (and they invariably do) then that party will win. This has been proven in each election since 1979 even in 1992 and 2015.

Maybe this is the last time to discuss the 2015 GE, but it's making me want to watch the election programmes again!


Thursday, 7 January 2016

The Labour re-shuffle has finally come to an end

Starting at Monday lunchtime, the Labour party has been having a re-shuffle, and it has finally come to an end. Four days later. The longest re-shuffle in history. So it must be a real night of the long knives with lots of changes then? Not at all. Two sackings from the front bench, and one move.

After briefing in December that Hilary Benn was going to be sacked, that Diane Abbott was going to be the new Foreign Secretary there was no change in this respect.

Michael Dugher was sacked, as was Pat McFadden. Maria Eagle was moved from defence to make way for Emily Thornberry, Corbyn's fellow unilateralist.

Dugher and McFadden were dismissed as being disloyal and incompetent - which when compared against Corbyn's record is pretty laughable.

The supposedly even handed review of Trident looks like a joke now, with both Thornberry and Ken Livingstone both being unilateralists. Livingstone even went so far to say we should pull out of NATO today.

Following the front bench re-shuffle, three shadow ministers went onto resign, one live on TV. There were bitter tweets from MPs. Some MPs have blocked other MPs on twitter. There was a spat between Diane Abbott and Jonathan Reynolds.

This is a party at war with itself. 

To think that 8 months ago this party could have formed the Government. We had a lucky escape.

To Corbyn's credit, the re-shuffle has slightly moved the front bench his way, but Labour is heading for oblivion whilst the moderates do nothing but snipe. They need to act and soon, otherwise Labour will pass into history.


Saturday, 2 January 2016

2015 rolls into 2016

It's that time of year again when I have to review my predictions from the last year and make some new ones. So let's review the last year:

  1. The economy will continue to recover, and will grow by 2.5% this year. Wages growth will really begin to outstrip inflation. 1 point
  2. The General Election will be close, final tally Tories 36%, Labour 31%, Lib Dems 10%, UKIP 12%. 1 point (very close)
  3. Tories and Lib Dems will form a second coalition. 0 points
  4. Lewis Hamilton will win the F1 World Championship again. 1 point
  5. Sebastien Vettel will not perform as well as Alonso at Ferrari, and Ferrari will end the year in greater turmoil with Raikkonen being sacked. 0 points
  6. Labour will have a leadership election with Chukka Umuna winning. 1/4 points
  7. Vince Cable will lose his seat in the election (hopefully) 1 point
  8. UKIP will gain 2 seats at the General Election, but Rochester & Strood will not be one of them. Douglas Carswell will be re-elected. 1/2 point
  9. Hilary Clinton, Jeb Bush and Rand Paul will all run for the US Presidential primaries. 1 point
  10. Nick Clegg will resign the leadership of the Lib Dems. 1 point

Overall 6.75 points is not bad. I was caught out by Ferrari being a lot stronger than planned, and who could have predicted Jeremy Corbyn being elected as Labour leader?

Now for 2016.

  1. Lewis Hamilton will win the F1 World Championship again.
  2. Sebastien Vettel will be second in the F1 World Championship and will win more races.
  3. Nico Rosberg will leave Mercedes at the end of the year, and Raikkonen will retire.
  4. It will be Hilary Clinton vs Marco Rubio for the US presidency.
  5. Marco Rubio will win the presidency.
  6. The EU referendum will happen this year with Remain winning by roughly 58% to 42%
  7. The Tories will beat Labour in the local elections by a small margin, with the Lib Dems coming back quite strongly in third.
  8. There will be a challenge to Jeremy Corbyn's leadership
  9. Douglas Carswell will leave UKIP and stay independent
  10. At least 2 MPs will defect from Labour

Let's see how well we go this year.


Thursday, 26 November 2015

Labour: A sorry excuse of a party

It's been several months since Labour elected Jeremy Corbyn and it looks like Labour has completely turned its back on being a sensible party of opposition, let alone Government.

Corbyn (& sidekick McDonnell) is a complete disaster zone. I give you:

  • Failure to appoint a single woman to the top three jobs in the shadow cabinet
  • Appointing John McDonnell as shadow chancellor
  • Not singing the national anthem at the Battle of Britain service
  • Not knowing whether to join the privy council
  • The DJ phone-in at PMQs
  • Appointing Seamus Milne as communications director
  • Appointing Andrew Fisher who wanted people to vote for class war
  • Lifting half his conference speech from a speechwriter who had sent the same speech to each leader since Keir Hardie (almost)
  • Old footage of Corbyn saying the killing of Bin Laden was a tragedy
  • Corbyn saying that British born IS fighters should be arrested rather than targeted in Syria
  • Corbyn saying he would not use shoot-to-kill even after the Paris attacks
  • Appointing Ken Livingstone as joint chair of the review into Trident
  • Keeping Ken Livingstone as joint chair when Ken had insulted the mental faculties of a defence shadow spokesman who suffers from depression
  • John McDonnell's citing Chairman Mao during the response to the Autumn statement
  • Publishing a letter statement he would not agree to bombing Syria, whilst in a meeting with the PLP saying that they would take the weekend to consider the matter

I'm sure there's a few more...

I feel sorry for the moderates in Labour, they are watching their party being driven to the left, taken for a ride to obscurity, whilst being pummelled daily by the cyber-corbynites.

All the while the shadow cabinet cannot claim to have a policy. Any policy. Whatever. Would they have more or less borrowing? Are they in favour of Trident or not? Would they bomb Syria or not? These are really important issues and the party is a laughing stock with no particular position. 

It is embarrassing listening to their front bench spokesman trying to contort themselves through various positions. Even the shadow foreign spokesman says that he cannot speak for Corbyn! If he can't, then what is supposed to be collective responsibility?

It's a complete joke. A mess. A car-crash. 

From across the aisle of British politics, it's entertaining, but it means that the Government is not being held to account and that's bad for democracy.


Friday, 30 October 2015

Lewis Hamilton: Three times World Champion

Last weekend Lewis Hamilton got his dream come true: he matched Ayrton Senna's number of world championships. The race in Austin was the best of the year, and until the last few laps it looked like Lewis would have to wait another race to claim the championship.

Last year we watched Lewis mature, this year he is at the height of his powers. The only weakness he had last year was qualifying, and this year he has well and truly beaten Nico Rosberg, He is driving at his best and the results are showing it. Off track, he seems to be very happy too and a happy Lewis is a fast Lewis.

Nico Rosberg looks well and truly beaten. After Austin he had a face like a slapped arse. He was complaining about Lewis being aggressive into turn one. It was wet and Lewis got the better start to be alongside the pole sitter. When they came to brake they found it difficult to turn in and their wheels touched. It was fine and Nico needs to grow a pair.

In fact it is now apparent that Lewis is faster and a better racer. Nico will not be world champion in the same team as Lewis. Whether he comes to the same conclusion and settles into a number two role next year or, as I expect, make all the noises of coming back better and faster next year only to be blown away again is up to him.

What next for Lewis? It would be brilliant to have a real Lewis vs Seb Vettel battle next year but I wouldn't bet against a fourth world championship. He should be able to get close to Prost's win tally, and the Senna's pole tally. I think 5 world championships are in reach.

Well done Lewis.


Sunday, 27 September 2015

Viewing the F1 scene

We have 5 races to go until the end of the season, and it's time to look at how the season has been going and draw some conclusions.

The Mercedes team are still the class act with the fastest car. Lewis Hamilton is the master of all currently, with 11 pole positions and 8 wins. Nico Rosberg looks like a beaten man, whatever he throws at Lewis Hamilton the champ has an answer. They have dropped the ball three times. Monaco must have been awful for Lewis, to see his perfect weekend blown up by a bad call and the win gifted to his team-mate. In Hungary, Lewis had an off-day maybe triggered by the gathering before the race to celebrate the life of Jules Bianchi. Mercedes were off the pace in Singapore.

The Ferrari team have shown much improvement, with Vettel having three wins and a pole. It's good for F1 that the team are competitive and that they have a media friendly boss in Mauricio Arrivabene. I think it would have been better for Ferrari if they had let Kimi Raikkonen go, he's past his best and there needs to be some young blood.

Williams have disappointed this season. They're still good enough for third place but have not advanced since last year.

I've been impressed by Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz. Both have been good racers and on certain weekends have shown good pace. Verstappen's pass on Nasr at Blanchimont, Spa, was amazing. He knows no fear - yet!

The Red Bull is a good chassis but the Renault engine has disappointed badly. How can the engine have got so worse since last year? It has been disappointing to see them bad-mouthing Renault after winning 4 championships with them. It's no surprise that Renault have decided to pull out from engine supply. It's also no surprise that Red Bull are finding it hard to get another supplier. If I was Christian Horner I would pay Ferrari for the design to their engine and get a third party involved to build engines and take it forward.

I really hope Renault buy out Lotus as the Enstone team deserve to be in F1 due to their heritage. I wish Renault would decide what they want to do with F1. They're in, they supply engines, they're out, then they're in and then back to supplying engines. Make your mind up.

And now to McLaren Honda. What a disaster. When the McLaren-Honda tie-up was announced everyone thought, wow the two powerhouses are getting back together, everyone hould look out. I wasn't convinced. This is Honda's fourth time in F1, and only their second venture as an engine supplier to Williams and McLaren was successful. At the end of that period they had been superceded by Renault. Their third coming was poor. McLaren isn't the power it used to be either. Their last constructor's championship would have been 2007 (apart from the spying scandal) and was 1998 before that.

The car is slow, the drivers de-motivated and cracks are appearing in the management structures. Honda has a policy of rotating technical staff into the F1 programme and then out into the road cars. They don't bring people in from outside. This time they have bitten more than they can chew and they need to eat some humble pie. It's such a shame.

The other teams have not really changed their positions or outlook.

As for F1 itself. The season has been more dull than last year with poor races, apart from Silverstone and Hungary. I quite like some of the suggestions to spice up the action. Wider cars, bigger tyres, more horsepower, bigger batteries, ground effects, reduce the number of planes on wings: all these things would improve the racing. A flatter payment system as described in earlier posts would also be a big help.

Now, only a few more weeks until we crown the 2015 champion.