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
David Cameron has requested the Metropolitan Police to join the search for Madeleine McCann and the Home Office is to give the Met a few million pounds to pay for it. Earlier in the year this same David Cameron agreed to cut the budget for the work of tracing missing children by concentrating activities in a police Missing Children Unit. Most children who go missing, as defined by this unit as four days or more, are recovered quickly but large numbers are not. In the three and a half years since Maddie went missing some 400 children went missing according to independent studies. Many of these were recovered, exactly how many is difficult to estimate, but it may be that something like 200 were not. Most of these children have distraught families searching for them. These families are often of modest income but, nevertheless, they consume their savings and time in desperate efforts to find their children. Many of these parents were not careless in the care of their children. Their disappearences were not as a result of their carelessness but as a result of factors outside their control . The McCanns were careless of their children. They took a holiday in a busy resort with other adults and put their wishes to have a good time before the guardianship of their children. I suspect that many adults with children would take a different view and arrange their holidays so that adults were with their children after lights out. The McCanns made a grievous decision not to do this. In this they put themselves before the interests of their young children. If we were to ignore all that the gravaman of the issue would remain to be addressed. What makes the McCanns so special? In a time of austerity and budget cutting why put Maddie’s interest before hundreds of other unnamed but grieved missing children. Of course the McCanns are a literate and well-organised professional couple who have been able to articulate their search, attract private funds, and promote their cause in a variety of media. And good luck to them, says I, and so would any caring adult. But what about the others, all those other grieving parents most of whom lack the persuasiveness of the McCanns? Is David Cameron going to take up their causes? Will the Government seek the extra funds to take up their cases? Where does the police manpower come from to undertake special searches on their behalf? Perhaps I have got this all wrong.Who cares about fairness, equity, money and police time?
But hold on. What about the strategic independence of British police and all that? Can the Home Office direct the Met to alter police priorites by writing a letter to them. The squeemish among us would think this was political inteference with the police at the populist whim of the Prime Minister. They would be right. David Cameron doesn’t care much for the niceities of public life. What a coup, what a stunt, imagine the headlines. If Cameron stopped his whirlygig for but a moment, he might ask himself the question of what these other grieving parents will think when they read the press headlines? Lord, good lord, save us from this man.
Filed under BBC, Cabinet, Cameron, Coalition Government, Commons, Daily Mail, Home Office, Labour Blogs, Lib Dem blogs, Madeleine McCann, Metropolital Police, Parliament, Politics
Oh, its you Charlie! You do dog my steps. Can’t you find something new to talk about. I’ll help you if you like. A world exclusive, specially for you. Thanks Dave, but no. I think we all need to know what you’re up to in Libya.
That’s a good expression Charlie. What am I up to.That’s a good way of putting it. Well, I’m not sitting around waiting to fail because fail we shall if it goes on like this, locked into a military stalemate and no worthwhile diplomatic way out. I’m not a loser Charlie, remember that. The playing fields of Eton are a good training ground for life. They breed winners, Charlie. I’m a winner.
Well from this point, Dave, how do you win? It’s easy Charlie. Step by step you change the rules of engagement. No single move in breach of the UN Resolutions but accumulatively amounting to such pressure on Ghadaffi that he cannot resist us. Remember this Charlie, I loath the man. Years ago I vowed that if ever I was in a position of authority I would get rid of him. Give him a good kicking. Get him off the playing field, so to speak. Yes Dave, I do understand. Assad you could share a room with but not Ghadaffi. Completely, understandable. I wouldn’t fancy an emergency meeting in a tent with him, myself. Precisely that, Charlie. Blair could kiss him in the hope of reform but not me. Oh, dear no.
Let’s cut the crap Dave. What are you going to do to get us out of this mess? Well you would call it mission creep Charlie. We are going to flood Misrata and other places with humanitarian assistance workers. No fighting while they are there. You infiltrate these places with SAS in plain clothes. They tell you where the Ghadaffi lot are positioned. Zapp, zap, zap Charlie from the air. a bit of bang, bang, bang on the ground. You beef up the rebels by advisers and special forces. Down the road with close air support. Bang, bang bang again and you’re on the road to Tripoli. Come to think of it there’s a good song in this. There usually is.
You’re mad Dave. You can’t get away with that. Emergency meeting at UN , heated debates in the Commons where you would lose the vote, to say nothing of the Lib Dems. I’m not a loser Charlie. Remember that. Things were going badly for Margaret Thatcher until the Falklands. Then she became a heroine. Very patriotic the British working classes. Come on board HMS Victory my lads. We all love a winner. If you can pull that off Dave you will deserve to win. I may even vote for you myself. Now I know you are joking Charlie. But I’m not joking. Just you wait and see.
Filed under Arab League, Cabinet, Cameron, Coalition Government, Colonialism, Commons, Eton, Ghadaffi, Labour Blogs, Lib Dem blogs, Liberal Voice, Libya, Middle East, Nick Clegg, Parliament, Politics, Sarkozy, SAS, Syria, Tony Blair, United Nations, Yemen
Do you remember the European Defence Force (EDF) proposed by the France as an alternative to NATO and rejected by the British? You do, good. I have news for you it is alive and kicking (with a little help from Italy). There is new foreign policy strategy. Britain and France have declared that the Mediterranean area including North Africa be deemed their sphere of influence. There is no immediate need for Britain to have an aircraft carrier for French one will do and the Italians will provide an air base in Southern Italy. If we act now and together there will be no more influx of unwanted immigrants into Frence and Italy. Like all speres of inluence it would be better for the client country to have a similar political system of our own Trade and investment prospers best in democracies amd a reliable commercial law. To be fair to ourselves her in Britain this has always been the case. All these jolly colonies were reformed into democratic societies and when all was hunky dory we went home and they had their independence. Of course there many wars to achieve this but achieve it we did. Gradually the atlas studied by English schoochildren turned from the pink of Empire to a cacophany of other hues and anthems.
It dawned on me as I watched French helicopters fir on the Presidential Palace in the Ivory Coast that nothing much had changed. We do not call it Empire any more, these African states are not colonies but the white man’s mission continues. The emotion felt by the former colonisers remains the same.
But I saw other things in this state of confusion as well as well. On the Palace wer trained the guns of UN helicopters. In Afghanistan it was a UN agency that was being stormed. The Un commitment to nation building was in full flood. While I had looked away for a moment or two the UN had developed a role of its own and it wielded armed forces of its own. It came as quite a shock to me.
Why am I getting so excited about this? Well think a bit. There is work to be done to persuade all those African and Arab countries to come into line and to make the region fit for invest and the export of oil. I cannot come about over night. After Libya there will be many other states waiting for our attention. The USSR did not find it easy to have all those client states in Eastern Europe. And let me tell you what happnened to them. They collapsed. All those years of economic sacrifice and political attention and then, almost over night, nothing.!
I am conscious that this new regional foreign and defence policy has mnot been debated by the House of Commons. It is stealing up on us. Is this neo-colonialism in the interest of Britain. What will be the efects on our alliance with the USA, the cohesion of NATO and the unity of Europe. No room for the Huns in all this! Germany can sort out the Eurozone and serve them right.
Filed under Afghanistan, Arab League, Berlin Wall, Coalition Government, Colonialism, Defence Review, Egypt, Europe, France, Germany, Ghadaffi, Gorbachov, Gulf States, House of Commons, Immigration, Ivory Coast, Labour Blogs, Lib Dem blogs, Libya, Middle East, Obama, Parliament, Politics, Russia, Sarkozy, Stalin, Syria, United Nations, Yemen
The British, French and America mission to unseat Ghadaffi by armed intervention and, belatedly, diplomatic opposition is failing. It was always doomed to fail. Libya as with Iraq is a complex society. Any outside interference in its affairs is bound to be simplistic. Ghadaffi and his nasty regime has much greater popular support than has been supposed and suspicions of the motives of the insurrectionists are well grounded. TV audiences have had an opportunity to look at some of the Members of the Opposition Council. I cannot speak for anyone else but I found them distinctively dodgy. We are looking at the failed members of Ghadaffi’s regime seeking a way back to power. I suspect that we are not looking at the grey men who will replace them when the time arises.
Cameron, Sarkozy and Obama cannot let the mission fail: they have Elections to win. For the moment they cannot admit that they were wrong in the diagnosis and chosen solution -armed intervention. Enter mission creep. As we must win at almost any price what do we NEED to do. Let us now destroy every tank, armoured vehicle and artillery piece we can spot, turn a blind eye to rebel intrusions into Ghadaffi supported population centres such as Sirtes, and enlarge the number of participants in the Alliance (less blame per participant). We must tighten the economic and diplomatic noose around the Ghadaffi regime, encourage deserters from his doomed Aministration and from the Army. Will that do the job? No. Perhaps not. Remember Iraq? Must we?
I’ll tell you what would do the job. Put in 20,000 professional soldiers to occupy Misrata and secure the oil terminals along the East coast. Would that do the job? Alas no. What about the oil fields themselves? Well another 10,000 soldiers or so could secure them. What about Tripoli itself? Well once we have secured the other places we could move against Tripoli. Shouldn’t be a problem about that.
If I understand Hague and Cameron correctly, they would not stop there. What should we do about other Middle eastern autocratic rulers. The Syrian regime is busy killing protestors,. Surely we should do something to assist the protestors get rid of the Syrian regime? If you are at heart a Liberal Capitalist wih a colonial mentality, surely it must be in the interest of France and Britain, in paerticular, to get rid of these regimes for as we all know democracies are good for trade and are places where you can do business. The British love trade and doing business. It is the object of British foreign policy to do more of that. Why then stop at Libya?
Filed under Arab League, BBC, Cabinet, Cameron, Coalition Government, Colonialism, Conservative Home, Ed Milliband, France, Ghadaffi, Labour leadership, Lib Dem blogs, Liberal Voice, Libya, NATO, Nick Clegg, Obama, Parliament, Politics, Sarkozy, Syria, United Nations
Sometimes I wish myself to be ubiquitous.You know what I mean: to possess powers to look in and over, to find out what has really been going on in the corridors of power. For example, who were the arms dealers who accompanied David Cameron on his recent trip to the Middle East and what did they sell and to which authoritan regime. In this age of transparency you would think it easy enough. It isn’t and if you doubt me try it yourself. To mix my metaphor, so to speak, sell bullets to the wrong dictator and they can come back to bite you. This task is so difficult that I have been obliged to invent my own un-Parliamentary questiosns and answers.
Q. What arms deals were negotiated with what regimes on the Prime Minister’s recent trip’. A. Following parliamentary proceedure I cannot answer this. I would remind the questioner that there has been no change in the guidelines that rightly govern these transations. Q. Can the Government confirm that over the past five years, no arms have been sold to Libya. A. If a company wishes to sell arms to any particular country, such as Libya, it must apply for an export licence in the normal way. As I say the rul;es have not changed. Q. Will the Prime Minister confirm which companies on his recent trip will be applying for export licenses and in respect of what arms and to which regimes? A. Britain is one of the world’s most successful arms exporters and I shall do nothing to undermine its efforts to sell arms to a diverse range of countries. In the nature of things a power we regard as responsible at one moment of time may become irresonsible the next. We cannot stand over them when they pull the triggers, can we? Look chaps, some of you types that have attended schools in Wolverhampton and Walsall understnd the facts of life that are learnt in the playgrounds. If you think it was easier for types like me on the playing fields of Eton you are deluded. It is tough and you do not survive without a bruise or two. Basically the rules of the game are simple. You do not take on a bully at the height of his powers. You wait until his position has weakened and when he has lost some of his friends. Then you pounce on him when he least expects it yelling that you are the boss now. If need be get a few friends to help you. Give him a few kicks. Make sure that all the other kids know that you are the champion now. That’s what we are doing with Libya. Never mind the past, ignore the previous arms deals and the British banks stuffed full with his illegal funds. Force majeure and all that and you are the champion now. The others soon fall into line. And that is our policy now. Move over you swine, you might say. We are the champion now. And the rest of you buying arms from us today. Don’t think that we won’t turn on you in the future if we have too. Oh yes, we are not cissies. Look at my muscles. Well come to think of it, perhaps not.
Filed under Arms dealers, BBC, Cabinet, Cameron, Coalition Government, Defence Review, Egypt, George Osborne, Labour Blogs, Labour leadership, Liam Fox, Lib Dem blogs, Libya, Middle East, Parliament, Politics
Q. Dave, when you were a young lad were you a Cowboy or an Indian and why? Answ. A Cowboy, of course. I believed that the Cowboy’s were the winners and the Indian’s the losers, and history proved me right, did it not? Q. Who were the moral winners? Answ. The Coyboys of course, the right is always morally superior. Why do you start with such a question? Q. For good reasons. You have recently approved an SAS and Royal Airforce mission into Libya in what appears to have been a storm in the desert, that is an intrusion into the airspace of another country, the use of ground troops and the involvement of Royal Air Force C130s without the approval of Parliament , NATO or the the UN. Wasn’t that an incredibly dangerous thing to do? When President Carter tried it he made a terrible mistake and became the laughing stock of the world. Answ. Oh come off it. we won didn’t we. The British public love the SAS and we pulled it off didn’t we? Q. What I understand is that a plane was hit by small arms fire and wasn’t some attempt made to slash the tyres of one plane? What if the people firing had heavier calibre weapons, might that not have brought the plane down with the loss of 150 lives including foreign nationals. Answ. I never comment on operational details. Are you saying we should not have acted to save these men? Q. Yes, I am saying that? Answ. Well I think you will find that British people are on my side in this. Everyone loves a winner. Q. Another question Dave. Were these C130s given fighter aircraft cover and if not why not? Answ. Good question. Naturally, I took advice but every Captain must in the end trust his own judgement. I didn’t become Chief Cowboy, if you pardon the mixed expression, by accident. Q. Straight answer Dave, please , yes or no? Answ. Look, you know me well. I’m a politician I can’t give you such an answer. Q. Were the Chiefs of Staff consulted? Answ. Ditto. Look I’m getting rather cross about this. Chief Cowboys are not asked these kinds of question. Q. OK. Let’s vary it a little. Have you had any military resignations over this and are there any in the offing? Answ. Well I can answer that one. No. And I don’t expect any. Q. Last questions Dave. Isn’t this a prime example of the strategic advantage of aircrat carriers. Not in the misty ages to come BUT now? Wouldn’t the Ark Royal and a few Harriers have provided the air cover that a mission like this needed? And secondly, did you consult the Americans? Answ. Look you liver-lilied journalist (a joke, let’s see you smile). A Leader must lead and journalist must follow. Isn’t that the right order of things, the Scheme of things? As for the American’s, all you journalists go on about the inability of Britain to act independently but when I do it you are the first to criticise. And thank you for the session , very invigorating it was too. Now back to the war games. Tally oh, chin chin, and all that. All I need now is a twiddly moustache. Can’t afford the wax in this age of austerity. All the responsibility of the previous Labour administration as I have said before.
Filed under Army, BBC, Cabinet, Cameron, Coalition Government, Defence Review, Economics, Labour Goverment, Liam Fox, Middle East, Obama, Parliament, RAF, SAS, Tony Blair
David Cameron is touring the Middle East not as you might think to promote trade but to hold up Britain to the world – to speak up for us politically. In case you missed reports I can tell you something of what he has beem saying. We are called Great Britain and Northern Ireland and we are great as the name implies. We have always been great. Once when 2/3 of the world’s surface owed alleigance to the British Crown. we were very, very great. We are somewhat smaller now but not very small and not insignificant. We have a part to play in Europe (alas) and in the Coomonwealth (you may not have heard of that) and we often talk to the USA. It is a mistake to assume that we always do what the USA wishes us to do. Oh no, we often differ. Indeed we have differed from them once in the last three months to the best of your memory. (Here he takes his coat off. Some in the audience think this to be rude). Britain has been rsponsible for some of the world’s greatest discoveries: penicillin, the jet engine, electric light bulbs, plastic coat hangers and left handed screw drivers, to name but a few. There will be more like this in the future. But he was there not to talk about screwdrivers but about democracy. Britain, and we know it to be true, is the world’s oldest parliamentary democracy with universal rights to be fairly represented, equality before the law and rights of assembly. It would be best if other countries followed our example. Some have said that our Government if not fairly elected and our politicians are corrupt. This is not fair. It is true that his party won only 30 percent of the votes of the whole electorate but that was not his fault. He had explained Conservative policies fairly and honestly and the Tory tribe in Southern England had supported his party. Was that not good enough.?He thought so and infinitely better than a dictator with 99 percent. In a democracy no party or individual can get 99 percent. Although come to think of it that might have to be arranged. The important point he had to bring to their minds is that Britain was their friend and on the side of popular demands for democracy and fair play. British people have always supported fair play and sometimes have insisted upon it. Of course we have for many years been committed supporters of the dictators that have ruled you and your neighbours. I confess to you that these imperial policies may have been mistaken. It is big of me, you are quite right, but I wasn’t on the scene at the time.
I hope you feel that as a young and thrusting white and rather posh Englishman I am on your side. If not I have wasted my trip. Please do not let me down. God save our Queen. Thank you.
In England we do not do Revolutions. They are for foreign countries denied freedom of expression and parliamentary government. Is that right? It seems so but the belief in social cohesion and solidarity of purpose is about to be tested. Our beliefs may turn out to be illusory. In 2011/2 real incomes are likely to fall at a faster pace than at any time since the 1920’s a decade followed by slow growth and high unemployment. At that time we took it all very meekly. Then, as now, some thirty percent of the population was doing very nicely. They were in employment and enjoying steady increases in real wages. Unemployment and poverty was concentrated in foreign places: Scotland, Wales and the frozen North. Of course, the unemployed protested, but in a orderly fashion: hunger marches, dole queues and long lines of working people not at all like us. Men, and families, to be pitied, consciences to be stirred, but largely to be forgotten on golf courses and at bridge parties.
Over the last two years citizens, you know the ordinary folk who pay the wages of the political elites, have wondered whether ‘that lot’ at Westminster are really representing us at all. While hardly anyone wishes to resurrect class war, many people must wonder whether these Old Etonians with their posh accents and monied interests really ‘get us’ the people. Do we wish to pass back to a Victorian condition of poor public sevices and a Samuel Smiles concept of self help and charity to all (sorry some, the deserving poor).
Well, what can we do about it? Those who object We could start by admitting to ourselves that we are responsible. We allowed this lot to gang up against us, cobble together an agreement that no one voted for, and are busy changing the rules so that it is extremely difficult to get rid of a government in the short term.
I can hear some of my readers objections at this point. Come on now, they say, this is a parody of the truth. Every citizen knows that the huge public deficit must be reduced and the sooner the better. Personally I agree: drastic problems require drastic remedies. But just suppose that the economic strategy being imposed upon us is wrong. It doesn’t work. What if we are destroying a valued social structure and welfare state for nothing? What then? Why, you say, in all reasonableness . if we are proceeding for the rocks we can change course Can we? Boy George and our Dave say. ‘Not on your Nellie’, or words to that effect, Like the Blessed Margaret before them these Old Etonians warming themselves in the last rays of an August sunset across their playing fields are not for turning.
Well Boys, then we must get rid of you by the means at our disposal. They know it, you can see it in their faces. and the panic measures they advance. Can we the people do it? Can we the people save ourselves? I don’t know. But I do pose the question
Filed under BBC, Big society, Coalition Government, Commons, Conservative Home, Deficit, Economics, Ed Balls, Ed Milliband, Eton, George Osborne, Guardian, House of Lords, Labour Blogs, Labour Goverment, Labour leadership, Lib Dem blogs, Liberal Voice, New Stateman, Nick Clegg, Parliament, Politics, Poverty, Public schools, Revolution, Take Back Parliament, Treasury, Unemployment, Vince Cable
There are maxims worth following whenever a politician makes use of statistics. In particular, in whose interest are the statistics prepared and published and are they being interpreted acurately and fairly. Let us consider the thorny issue of the effect on families in Greater London of ceilings and cuts in Housing Benefit. According to Government statistics, and let us say they are right, there are 17,500 families and some 82,000 people. The London Boroughs speaking collectively are preparing plans for what to do if all these people could not pay higher rents, could not make other provision and were therefore forced to move.
Ask some questions:
1. Would all these tenants be forced to move? No, but no one has bothered to find out. Come on Government, survey them first and give us the answer. 2. What proportion of these tenants are short stay anyway with agreements running up to 3 years.? Up to 40 percent of landlords, according to the Landlords Association but they would say this wouldn’t they. 3. Up to 30 percent of landlords according to the Landlord’s Association They don’t tell us by how much. There are other estimates ranging fr0m 30-50 percent some of which come from Tory Councils. They would say this wouldn’t they. 3. Some of these tenants might be given social housing by their Councils. Source Tory Westminster Council. What is the current waiting list? Not given. It must be lengthy, say up to ten years. No chance. 5. Not to worry anyway the Government has put aside £130 million to mitigate hardship. Sounds a lot. Let’s say every family affected was a hardship case. If this was true 17,500 familes would each get £742 pounds. Enough to pay 2 weeks rent. Whacko. Lets be fair. Reduce the number forced to move by 20 percent as a result of lower rents that they could afford, and a further 20 percent for their own ingenuity, and ten percent for short term rentals and a willingness to move on. (Statistical point. These percentages are not additive) and we might say that 50 percent of families, 8,750, will have to leave their homes and most will go into boarding accommodation on the South Coast. 5.. At what cost? Not known. Leaving this aside the Government could give the families concerned and the Councils bearing the cost £130 miillion towards the cost of this, that is £1,484. How long would this last? Are there jobs for them in places like Hastings with very high rates of unemployment? I have not seen any figures. Come on you Council’s, tell us.
You might say that the Coalition Government, in the interest of transparent administration should tell us. If Labour MPs were smart enough they could ask the Parliamentary questions that would give us all the answers. Come on you Labour MPs and Labour C0uncillors. Do your job.
Filed under BBC, Benefits, Big society, Cameron, Coalition Government, Conservative Home, Disability Allownce, Economics, George Osborne, Guardian, Housin in London, Housing Benefit, Job Seekers Allowance, Labour Blogs, Lib Dem MPs, Nick Clegg, Parliament, Politics, Poverty, Spending Review, Statistics, Treasury, Unemployment