The news has got about that Boris, Liam and David are despondent about the prospects for exciting new trade agreements made possible by Brexit. Disentanglement from Europe is far more complex than they thought and – to be frank- the whole process could take up to ten years. On their journeys around the world other governments have appeared pained and confused. ‘What is it that you Brits want?’ is their complaint and answers there are none.
I want to be helpful. Indeed we should all enter into this task of becoming a world power again in a helpful frame of mind. There is much to be done. Have our negotiators thought about the Pacific Islands? I guess not.
I have a suggestion. Don’t laugh I want you to take the suggestion seriously. I suggest that the Foreign Office has not prioritised the Pacific Islands. Did you know that their are some 25,000 islands in the Pacific with a total population of 40 million people? Impressive isn’t it. Of course since the days of the British Empire other countries have muscled in: Australia , Indonesia and the United States, in particular, and the EU and the Commonwealth have been active. We used to play a big role in the Pacific . People would joke about our gunboat diplomacy. (They can’t do that now of course. I was distressed to learn that all Britain’s modern warships are in dockyards awaiting repairs. Shameful!).
I appeal in particular to Boris. The Pacific is a wonderful area to take holidays with an abundance of fine beaches and welcoming hotels. What better than to spend several months in the Pacific Islands each year with friendly people. Exercising due diligence you could invite family and friends to join you. It could be very, very pleasant. Wonderful!
On a more serious note the Pacific Islands are getting their act together and the timing might be good. They have combined to form the Pacific Islands Forum which aims to help the islands develop their economies. We can help, Boris, and they can help us.
Why not look at this way, Boris. If you are going to fail in your mission why not enjoy yourself? Their is no point in spending fruitless time and energy in Canada, shivering in the hotel entrance while waiting for a cab when you could be on the beach of an exotic island. If you are going to fail do it on the veranda of a wonderful hotel on a Pacific island.It is a no brainer.
Filed under BBC, Boris Johnson, Cabinet, Economics, Imperialism, John Martin, Labour Home, Labour List, Labour Party, Larisa Martin, Liam Fox, Liberal Voice, Politics, Sky Sport
We are now entering a critical phase of this electoral cycle: local elections, parliamentary elections, further local elections, the European elections and the Scottish referendum on independance The outcomes of these elections will set the agenda for the next General Election. In this cycle, the fortunes of UKiP will determine the outcome of the General Election So long as UKIP’s standing in national polls is in excess of 10 percent, and it now stands at 13 percent in some polls, the Tories cannot win a General Election and Labour will be handicapped in the drive for a majority at Westminster. It is an easy prediction to make that UKIP is likely to top the Euro polls and at some time during 2014 will be showing, in some national opinion polls, support in the 20’s before a decline as the General Election approaches.
I assume that Scottish voters stay in control of their good senses and will vote No in the Scottish referendum. If so one would expect electoral support for the SNP to decline and a recovery of the Labour vote at Westminster to take place in Scotland. If this occurs then Laboiur would be diffiult to defeat in Westminster elections.
While economic predictions are foolhardy the odds are on poor economic performance up to May 2015. The best the Tories can hope for is slow growth, stable employment and a deficit edging slowly downwards. There will be little prospect of electoral bribes. This being so it is safe to predict that the chance of a Tory majority at the next
General Election are near to zero.
What then are the prospects for the Lib Dems? I do not under-rate the resiliance of the Lib Dems. However, if in the public mind they remain linked to the Tories in Coalition a reasonable prediction is that their parliamntsary position would decline substantially with a loss of 30-40 MPs. It would follow from this that it would be
most unlikely that they could play any part in a national coalition with any other party.
In these circumstances I would expect UKIP to win some Westminster seats at the expense of the Coalition parites but not enought seats to achieve any tactical advantage.
If this analysis is broadly right we would haver had a further shake in the party system that could in some circumstance lead to paralysis. As the economic circumstasnces inherited by a new Labour Government would be difficult if not dire Britain might emerge from the experiment of Coalition in a virtually ungovernable
All this will become clearer to participants and pundits. Will those individuals at the heart of this disaster do nothing? I have never believed that they would behave as rabbits staring into car lights. The Coalitiion will break up and David Cameron could be confronted with a leadership election before May 2015.
Filed under BBC, Cameron, Coalition Government, Conservative Home, Deficit, Economics, Europe, General Election 2015, Labour Blogs, Labour Goverment, Labour Home, Labour Party, Lib Dem blogs, Liberal Voice, Local elections, Nrew Stateman, opinion polls, Parliament, Rerendum, Scotland
A Statement on Belief:
Some people believe that as an OLD ETONIAN I have a narrow concept of life and the everyday concerns of ordinary people. What nonsense. However I confess I do have a firm set of prejudices and I am happy to tell you something of them.
Empire, Monarchy and Neo-Colonialism
Charliechops has criticised me for a narrow nationalism. Let me be clear. I am proud to be an Englishman (or should I say Briton, however to my mind there is no difference). We Brits have colonised the world and brought our belief in parliamentary democracy, the rule rule of law, and a benificent British monarchy to vast numbers of ignorant people in other countries. I am proud of that. Today we have to be a little more careful but nevertheless we assert our right to depose rulers throughout the whole of Africa and the Middle East in the name of economic trade and investment. And why not? Better for us to get a share of unexploited wealth than the Chinese. Do you get my point? Get in first and give it a whirl.
I am against ‘Johnnie Foreigners’. If I had my way I would keep them all out. Well not quite all of them. There were some jolly nice foreigners at Eton from good families. Their Dads often had proper sorts of houses in the West End and invested in Britain. Good for them. No I mean the others living off Benefits in places like Southall, Leicester and Wolverhampton. We can do without them. On reflection not those who own restaurants snd convenience shops. Jolly useful those. I like a good currie. Oh, and I forgot, nuclear scientists, doctor and nurses. I’m in favour of those – so Vince Cable tells me.
Capitalist and Entrepreneurs
I like capitalists and entrepreneurs and make no secret of it. I want them to get very rich and to invest and create jobs in Britain. I know a lot about this. Many of my best friends are capitalists and I like to boast to them that in my government we shll reach unparalled heights of assistance. I want these people, some who I am proud to acknowlege as my very best friends, to get seriously rich. In this I speak for other members of my Government, in particular my close friend George Osborne who you may have heard of. Ring a bell?
Anyway I hope you get my drift. I am a man of many firm convictions and I intend to stick with them. I hope you do not mind if I remind you of them from time to time.
Filed under Alistair Campbell, BBC, Benefits, Cameron, Colonialism, Conservative Home, Egypt, Eton, George Osborne, Guardian, Labour Home, Labour Party, Liberal Voice, Libya, Public schools, Syria, Treasury, UKIP, Wlliam Hague
I have been very quiet in 2012. The reason: finishing a book. Now my freedom conincides with the happy beginning of a new year. The old year had a great deal to grip our interest. We were certainly not short of copy or headline. Some of these, frankly speaking were both silly and ephemeral with hysteria on all sides of the political spectrum. However, at this stage of the electoral cycle it has not mattered more than fig or two. This year is different. As I hate right wing rhetoric, and distrust Tory attempts to divide British society, I struggle to be fairminded. You shall be the judge.
I was wrong in believing that the Coaltion would collapse suddenly and violently under the pressure of its own contradictions. When times are bad people prefer to be hung together at the latest possible time. What both the Tories and Lib Dems have succeeded in doing is to speak both ways with one message to the electorate and the other to their own members. Of course members do not like this and engage in a disquieting chorus of their own. However, commonsense suggests that the reckoning be pushed off to the future.
The Lib Dems are better placed than I believed likely. Electoral support has levelled out at about 10 percent and in local elections in the south they have benefitted from Labour votes in areas where Labour is not likely to win. The converse is that in the Midlands and the North the party is steadily being eliminated. I do not believe the party can improve on this poll rating. The Tories would be mad to allow a leaders television debate in 2015 (not least because UKIP might well be able to claim participation). So no bounce there. If the Lib Dems can continue to project a progressive image they are likely to avoid abject humiliation.
The Tories still have a chance of winning (defined as a majority or a Lib Dem coalition). However, the odds are lenghtening. Can the party succeed in squaring the circle? Can a right wing posture and radical sounding speeches carry the right wing with the leadership for two whole years. There are three daunting policy difficulties: the economy, Europe, and reform of the welfare system and none is wholly in their control. I doubt very much whether the deficit will come down, Europe will not oblige a right-wing agenda and it is an open question whether it is possible to reform the welfare system in the midst of the longest recession in modern economic history.
If we were describing a football match we would say that Labour has a comfortable lead at half-time. I doubt whether the pundits are right in thinking Labour must do more than that to stay ahead. They are lucky, lucky, lucky. Events, dear boy, are on their side. No need for handbags at half time. Keep control of the ball, keep pressing, concentrate and pray for continued divine intervention.
Filed under Benefits, Cameron, Coalition Government, Conservative Home, Deficit, Economics, Ed Balls, Ed Milliband, Europe, General Election 2015, Labour Blogs, Labour leadership, Labour Party, Lib Dems, Liberal Vision, Politics, Universal benefits
I want to tell you about my mission to dominate North Africa and the Middle East. Well, not exactly mine but ‘This Coalition Government’s’ – (its what I call it now) – although to be accurate I should say we – the old colonial powers, Italy, France and Britain. Or is it NATO – I suppose it is. Well whatever it is, it is mine and I stand and fall by it. Look Charlie, stop laughing, I’m tired of this. Your precious Labour Party supports us, the House of Commons approves, together with 40 percent of the electorate. What more can you ask for? Don’t answer that, rhetorical you know. When I was a young Yorkshire lad two thirds of my Atlas was colured pink. It made you very proud to see it. And now, virtually nothing. Can any kid be proud of that? The answer is , no, Charlie. Of course not. Now we have another chance. These African Johnnies, it seems to us at the Foreign Office, wish to live in a democratic country like our own. Democracies are good for trade and commerce. We wish to trade and invest, of course we do. Ipso facto as they say at Oxford, supporting these revolutionary Johnnies is in the national interest. It was always in our interest whether the map is coloured pink or green. Of course, if you intervene like we are doing in Libya in other places you cannot guarantee an outcome. But we three countries can see off Ghadaffi. It won’t take long – at least we hope not. What kind of chaps would we look like in the Middle East if we had done nothing, stood by on the other side of the road, while citizens were slaughtered. In my view Charlie – and please stop laughing – there is the domino effect to consider. If one country goes pink – that is pink for democracy now of course – other countries follow suit and the black and grey parts diminish. It makes you glad to know it. Glad to be British/Italian/ or French. I am glad. Never in my wildest dreams did I believe that I would be embarking on a mission to free so much of the world’s population from tyranny and poverty. Not single handed , of course. I spring out of bed these days with joy in my heart. If you snigger again, I’ll punch you. What did you say, consider the slogan, ‘In your heart, you know I’m right.’ and look what happened to him. Too abstruse Charlie. You can do better.
In many ways these are dark and difficult days for ‘The Coalition Government.’ We may fail overall to rescue Britain from the financial mess bequeathed by Labour. I admit it to you Charlie as we are off the record. But I – the Foreign Secretary – will look back on my experience at the Foreign Office with pride. We did our best to change the political colour of millions of people. What more can you ask of a British Foreign Secretary (sound of laughter and the crash of over-turned furniture off stage).
Filed under Arab League, Bahrein, BBC, Cabinet, Cameron, Coalition Government, Colonialism, Egypt, France, Ghadaffi, Gulf States, House of Commons, Italy, Labour leadership, Labour Party, Lib Dem blogs, Libya, Middle East, Oxford, Politics, Sarkozy, Syria, Wlliam Hague, Yemen
I am at a loss. For the first time in my life I find myself at one with the Left Wing of the Parliamentary Labour Party.Why is it right for Britain, France and the USA to intervene on the side of the social and political revolution sweeping the Middle East in Libya and wrong in the numerous other states busy putting down their protesting masses with a mixture of violence, imprisonment and intimidation; in particular Bahrein, Yemen and Saudi Arabia? It is said that it is because the Ghaddafi regime is peculiarly obnoxious. Not only is he a threat to his own people but he can be in some undisclosed way be a threat to others. This is true. However, it is also true of many other states in the Middle East and elsewhere. Should there be a no fly zone imposed in Iran or military action against Syria. And surely we should not stand idly by while the Chinesese Government tyranises Tibet? No two cases are the same, of course and no one in their own mind would advocate itervention in Iran or Tibet. Hold on, is this true? So could it be that Ghaddafi is a convenient tyrant. We can corner him and chalk up a few brownie points at home .Foreign wars start as popular. Ask Mrs Thatcher, it won her a General Election; or Tony Blair who became a prophet, although not in his own land; and now David Cameron, who is hopping about as if he was on drugs. What is it about war that our politicians of all parties get high on it and invite us all to get high with them.
I hate to point it out that drugs can be highly dangerous not only to the takers but to bystanders. Wars are unpredictable. They rarely work out as one hopes. How about a short holiday in Iraq or a a pilgramage in Afghanistan, chaps. You must be joking. You do not need to be a soothsayer to predict that this Libyan adventure will not work out as you now expect. It could be the most horrible of all foreigh interventions of its type,
One disappointment for me personally is the attitude of the Labour Party. ‘We could not stand idly by’ may turn out to be a gravestone epitaph from a party that has learnt nothing about foreign wars and remembered nothing. Courages, mon braves. Use your noddles.
The truth is that US diplomats have been very busy these last ten days. To get any type of resolution through the UN Security Council has required the support of the Arab League. We have seen the US supping with the devil using a long spoon. The nod has been give to the Gulf States that they are free to put down the revolutions in any way they choose so long as they continue with modest changes and in return for their support of a Western intervention tp put down Ghadaffi. We hear the guns in Benghazi but not in Bahrein or Yemen. So the US can continue with its policy of supporting the known and relied upon in oil producing countries while giving a friendly nod to change. All very real, predictable and real politik. Let us all unite and give the bully within our reach a good kicking. We have been wanting to do this for a long time. Pity about the coffins and the body bags.
Filed under Afghanistan, Arab League, Bahrein, BBC, Cameron, Coalition Government, Colonialism, Ed Milliband, Europe, France, Ghadaffi, Gulf States, Iraq, Israel, Labour leadership, Labour Party, Liberal Voice, Libya, Middle East, Obama, Politics, RAF, Revolution, Sarkozy, Tony Blair, Yemen
It is nearly a year since I got this job. If I had known then what I know now I would never have sought election to this position.; being Leader of the Opposition is hardly a job worth taking. I would like to be decisive (and I know I am often often criticised for waffle) but until the winning post is in sight I realise I shouldn’t be. Say something really prescient and compelling and Dave would pick it up and run with it. Basicly I have to let this lot get on with the job of governing the country and hope they shoot themselves in the foot. I realise this is not a glorious policy but unfortunately it is the best. It has always worked out best for me in the end – or to be precise in the beginning as well.
Let me give you a flavour of the letters I receive. I have invented names and descriptions to respect the confidentiality of the writers. First Jimmy, who is in the media (or meeja as the BBC pronounce it. He writes: ‘Basically Eddie boy you are too boring and mechanistic in your delivery. You speak in sub-text and emphasise in the minor key; your movements are like a ventriloquist’s dummy and jerky with it. Take tuition in how to deliver a speech and try to say something people will remember’ . Hard words Jimmie. I shall think about it. Gloria from Wolverhampton said. ‘Ed, I’m on your side. But can I make a suggestion (Of course, you can Gloria). Tell more human stories of distress and difficulty. Make us cry and give money to a noble cause. There a lot of these stories around especially in places like Wolverhampton. Well done Gloria, you are right AND I must make an effort to visit Wolverhampton. Is there a train service? I expect there is. Garry is a trade unionist. He said, ‘Harness the power of the trade union movement Ed and get yourself at the head of the mass movemnt and give leadership to our efforts to oppose the cuts.’ The difficulty about that Garry is that I don’t oppose them all. We have to be responsible and weed out the one’s we all really object too. I don’t wish to alienate the middle classes. And then there is Lucy who reads women’s magazines. Lucy dear, it is sweet of you, but I do not intend to marry anyone on demand especially if they write to me from Brighton. Lastly, but not least, from Alistair. I agree Alistair, it is good to speak to one’s colleagues and agree the main lines of Opposition. Of all people Alistair you know the difficulty of achieving harmony. But half of those buggers don’t want me as leader and most of the remainder are considering things, turning it over in their own minds. I shall do my best. I have always done my best. But being lovable and collegiate is a difficult task in the Labour Party.
I have decided to give it eighteen months. I’m not afraid of the future whatever it holds. If it is best for Labour that I step down and enough people continue to shout at me, I shall do just that.
Filed under Alistair Campbell, BBC, Coalition Government, Ed Balls, Ed Milliband, Guardian, Labour Blogs, Labour leadership, Labour Party, Politics, Public Services
David Cameron is in Cairo to instruct the Egyptians in democracy. As an impulsive gesture, his visit comes as a surprise. There was hardly time to brief him. William Hague was in Europe carefully coordinating policy with our European allies; President Obama was keeping his head down#; but our Dave was winging his way into the maelstrom. It reminds me of Rudolf Hess, Deputy to Adolf Hitler, who confronted with the German invasion of the Soviet Union flew to Scotland to negotiate peace with Britain. He was promptly put in prison. I have often wondered what Hitler said about it when he first knew.
I have news for the readers of this post. He was briefed before leaving. In the true meaning of the word it did not take long to read the notes. Hague wrote: ‘Don’t do it.’ The Permanent Secretary at the Foreign Office expressed himself as forceably. ‘Remember, he said, the long and troubled colonial background to our relationship with Egypt and our traditional support of Egyptian dictators. Don’t go on about teaching them democracy, they won’t appreciate it. In particular don’t mention the Suez Canal and the unreliability of army generals. George Osborne, as befits a friend in the modern era, tweeted him. ‘Dave, please, please don’t go on about the need for austerity, wage restraint and the imperative need to cut the deficit. Wrong time, wrong place’ . Several Cabinet members, in hope of promotion, urged him to introduce the idea of the Big Society to the Army Council and the attractions of small government. With patience and skill, he would be able to show them that it was a time to look away from the benificence of the state and the advantages of encouraging voluntary action. After all that is what these common Egyptian Jonnies have been practicing in the streets.
It has been rumoured, although I doubt the veracity of the reports, that a Labour Party faction in touch with Egyptian trade unions has urged them to practice a citizens arrest. They might consider that Dave would be a lasting asset to them. Someone with his historical knowledge and awareness of the difficulties of the man in the street would be invaluable on a lasting basis. Of course it would be a loss to British public life to lose our Dave for a prolonged period of time; but we are all social democrats now and we could make do without him.
What we don’t want is national embarassment. Perhaps when he gets there no one will want to meet him. After all not many Egyptian soldiers know anything about the Big Society. Come to think of it not many Britons know much either. If these Generals know anything about Coalition cuts to our armed forces they might exercise caution. Of course there is no harm in a furtive photograph or two. Back in Britain there would be national support for a Unison strike at our airports to keep out Dave. Not for ever of course but for a month or two. I’m sure a whip round to cover lost wages would attract widespread support.
Filed under Army, BBC, Big society, Cameron, Coalition Government, Economics, Egypt, George Osborne, Ghadaffi, Labour leadership, Labour Party, Libya, Politics, Public Services, Treasury, Voting reform, Wlliam Hague
Nick Clegg has emerged as the Coalition champion of the economy since Vince Cable’s well- publicised setbacks. Nick uses a great many words all spoken at a great rate of knots with an intonation that defies interruption. To be fair to him, I understand from my children that this is the way children speak in the playing fields these days. The words he uses are very fine and well-meaning and will convince some people – but not me – that he and his Tory colleagues have fine plans for the future of the British economy. It seems churlish of me to express the opinion that his words are either misleading or disingenuous. My main objection to them is that they do not rest on any firm and defensible theory of what works and doesn’t work in the British economy. Take the jargon on re-balancing the British economy. You know the sort of thing: shift the British economy away from services, in particular financial services, to manufacturing, and shift economic activity away from London and the South East with a resulting shift in population and jobs. This is pie in the sky. It is not a new narrative for it has been a constant theme of the last fifty years. I have no no wish to be boring but to be prief capitalism does not work like this in a capitalist economy. Industry location, population and investment follows the laws of comparative costs. It will be located in London and the South East so long as these comparisons favour these locations. There are advantages in mass. London has become the leading financial services centre in Europe accounting fot 9 percent of British GDP compared with 12 percent for manufacturing. Why is it so obvious that you should constrain financial services growth in London when it is a world leader?
Successive Governments have recognised the problems of the North by shifting public services to there with incentives for industry to follow. Their pump priming has been partially successful Now the Coalition is busy destroying these jobs. No wonder they need to mollify electors with meaningless promises of other jobs being created.
It used to be the case that these arguments were encapsulated in the simple division betwees monetarists and advocates of supply side reforms and Keynesians with their concentration on the demand side of the debate. At present those on the supply side of the argument are having a hard time of it. Money aggregates are weak with all that flows from it. The demand side is precarious and faltering. Those of us who observe these matters from the sidelines might well despair. It is a long way to Rotherham from Central London, Cleggie boy. Is your journey strictly necessary for a display of groping in the dark?
Filed under BBC, Cabinet, Cameron, Coalition Government, Conservative Home, David Smith, Economics, Ed Balls, Ed Milliband, George Osborne, Guardian, Labour Blogs, Labour Party, Lib Dem blogs, Liberal Voice, New Stateman, Nick Clegg, Politics, Rotherham, Treasury, Unemployment