Saturday, 29 April 2017

Iain Dale's seat predictions.

LBC Broadcaster Iain Dale is repeating the exercise he has done before. Predicting the results of all the seats being contested in the general election. Despite his tendency to give any benefit of the doubt to the Conservatives it does still show significant losses for labour.
Its not complete yet. But enough have been done to see the pattern. 
I'd suggest Mr.D adds the UKIP and Conservative 2015 votes together. Drops Labour 2015 total by 15% to 25%. And raises the Liberals by the same amount. Then checks the incumbency benefit. Name recognition and other local factors. 
So far on about 1/3 of the seats calculated Labour have lost 24. 
West Midlands being a particular sore spot for them.

 You can see all his predictions here

Two pieces of info from Iain Dale's seat projections so far that I find quite amusing.
1. Tooting may switch to the Tories.
Wonderful to have a photo of hopeful Tory MP Dan Watkins outside the 'People's Underground.' Though he could entertain us with a Yeti coat, Fulham scarf and Che beret. And go to the right station. The Muppet.
 Would be a great image for election day. In the spiritual home of the Corbyn Popular Front

"Power to the People"

2. Jack Dromey's labour seat in Birmingham Erdington is really under threat.

His majority is around 5,500.
But UKIP and CON vote 2015 combined was 1,000 more than that.
Lib Dems were non existent.
And a Leave Vote
of 58.48% in the referendum.

Tooting, though amusing, and Mr Dale predicting a Tory gain, is highly unlikely.
Tories need to find 7,000 votes to pull it off. And UKIP, never successful in London seats, had just 500 votes in 2015. Plus this is deep Remoaner territory.

Leave Vote: 25.58%
Iain has gone further back to 2010. When the Liberals had some 6,000 votes instead of the 800 they got in 2015. If enough votes drift from Labour to Liberal, there may be enough Tory votes to win it. Third time lucky for the hopeful Tory. But it seems too much of a stretch unless Labour have a real, real shocker of a night.

The hero of Grunwick, however, does look vulnerable. 

Labour may well be needing to find a new bloke to stand in its 2022 all woman shortlist

Friday, 28 April 2017

Campaigning on the NHS, again

So, in an election where the vast majority of the MP's in the Labour Party do not believe in their leader and they have also decided not have no real position on Brexit - what can Labour do...

They can bloody well campaign to save the NHS!

After all, the Tories are going to close the NHS within 24 hours of getting back into power, all nurses will be fired and your gran euthanased to save money, personally, by Prime Minister May and Jeremy Hunt.

This amazing strategy I fear has had limited electoral success, after all this will be the 3rd election in a row that Labour fight almost solely on the NHS and the third in a row they will lose.

Sadly, there is a lot of collateral damage caused by this strategy.

- First of all it embeds in sections of the public the religion of the NHS.
- Secondly it embeds the idea of constant crisis and need for ever more funding.
- Thirdly it makes any non-Labour party forget about major reforms of any sort as they know this will be used against them in spades for ever after.

Fearing  the tag of the nasty party, the Tories say as little about the NHS as possible in any election, it is their weakest ground. I would not be surprised if Jeremy Hunt was sent on a fact finding mission about the obesity crisis in Pitcairn over the next few weeks.

Actually though, in a parallel universe, this election where the Tories will win at a canter, should be the one where they try to speak some sense for the first time....

1. There is not enough money now that new treatments are available and the population is aging. Also, holding down pay was a temporary solution but won't work ad infinitum.
2. We therefore need to both reduce services and increase funding to ensure a stable Health Service.
3. Non-essential services, even tough choices like IVF, become contributory
4. Stupidity - ie admission to A&E blind drunk or with a sports - also result in a bill (O, let's call it what it is, a Fine).
5. All cancers and serious illness to remain free.
6. Health Insurance to be removed as a taxable benefit, to encourage its use by those that can afford private care anyway.
7. Web based doctors assessments to become standard entry point prior to seeing a GP.

Points 2-7  above would result in massive cost savings, none of them involve any sort of dreaded 'Privatisation' and all I predict will be done in the next 10 years anyway - better to be in the front foot. There is no reason Labour have to win on this topic, after all the health service under them was only better because they threw borrowed money at it for a few years and broke the country.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

PMQ's today shows we need to look for deeper meaning in Corbyn's actions

I don't think the news highlights are going to be good for the Red team. Mr Corbyn went back to his bizarre Margaret from Grantham type questions - all allowing the Prime Minister free hits on Labour.

Why is he trying to lose so badly? Clearly, Corbyn is not trying to win, but what does he have to gain by losing?

Is there some long-term game whereby soft Labour is annihilated at the election allowing for a splinter of Marxist loons to arise in their place - this surely is a long-shot in a two-party system with First Past the Post elections.

However, he is not trying to there must be some logic or reason behind it?

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Following on

Following on from CU's post below.

 Image result for sir humphrey yes prime minister education

How policy is made.

Sir Humphrey and Prime Minister May are working in her office. Mrs May stops reading her papers for a moment and asks her Cabinet Secretary.

"Sir Humphrey?"

"Hmmm....Yes, Prime Minister." 

"Sir Humphrey. You know that traditionally lefties have really, really bad ideas."

"Yes, Prime Minister." 

"I mean, really, really terrible ones. Prices and incomes controls. Abolishing private education. Selling off the nations gold reserves to the lowest bidder..."

"Yes, Prime Minister." 

"..98% taxation. Offshore wind farms. Ordering two huge aircraft carriers without crews or aircraft to put on them."

"Yes, Prime Minister." 

"Sure start centres. Paying children to go to school. The fuel tax escalator. Home Improvement Packs. Green energy taxes. The Lisbon Treaty."

"Agreed, Prime Minister."

"Signing up to unlimited Eastern European immigration many years before any other European country. The Iraq war. No Win No Fee legal applications. The £12 billion spent on NHS computer system no one used. The assets recovery agency. C4 Wales. Fire Control centres."

"Yes, Prime Minister"

" Child Support act. Tripartite financial regulation Abolition of the 10p tax rate."

""Yes, Prime Minister." 

"£10,000 corporation tax threshold. Taxing pensions.  Making the tax code twice as large as it was in 1997. .."

"I get the idea Prime Minister. A catastrophe of financial blunders and ill thought out political gimmicks."

"Exactly! Well..I was thinking, you know how these ideas are failures."

"Indeed, Prime Minister." 

"And not only don't work, but are ruinously expensive too."

"Very true, Prime Minister." 

"And these ideas quite often have the opposite effect to what was intended."

 "Yes, Prime Minister." 

"And quite often damage the people they were meant to help. And cause misery for many and take many, many years to overturn. Or take further legislation to negate the worst effects of the original daft policy. And quite often any proposed savings end up costing five, ten or twenty times any actual savings made. Tax credits for instance!"

"Tax Credits. Quite so, Prime Minister."

"Well. I was thinking. .. maybe...maybe.."

"Yes, Prime Minister?"

"..Maybe, with my once in a generation, landslide majority..maybe.."

"Yes, Prime Minister?"

"Maybe.. I should adopt a load of polices like those?"

"Yes, Prime Minister."

Monday, 24 April 2017

The Left are wrong - Britain is becoming more Left Wing, not less so

John Redwood, long since a marginalised backbencher, actually
proposes Right Wing policies
Much is made that over 55% of the population at the last election voted for 'Right-Wing' parties such as UKIP and the Conservatives rather than the remaining left-wing parties.

Apparently, according to all lazy political journalism, this makes it hard for a Left-Wing Government ever to gain power again, as the popular consensus is not in their favour.

Currently too, the world (well, twitter!) is full of lefties decrying May as the new Thatcher and some sort of hard-right dictator like President Erdogan of Turkey (see Chuka Umunna etc.).

However, none of this is actually true. The Conservatives have been happy winning elections with Labour policies for years, just as in the early 2000's Tony Blair won elections with Tory policies. After all, smart politicians recognise that it is power that matters, not promises or ideology (which is why Corbyn and co are so utterly abject, having decided that truism is no such thing).

Indeed, we are yet to see the Tory manifesto but I suspect it will be very light on detail given the short-notice and supposed room needed for manoeuvre with Brexit due.

What we have seen is the ludicrous and poorly thought out appropriation of Ed Milliband's price cap on retail energy. A commitment to the triple lock ended, a commitment to reducing immigration neutered, the retaining of the very left-wing policy of foreign aid commitment retained and a hole where tax policy might be.

Where are the Thatcher privatisations? Where is the expansion of the market economy? Where is the reform of public services so desperately needed? Where are the tax cuts for anybody instead of endless tax rises?

In fact, where are the Right Wing policies? Any at all, from any of the parties? UKIP, Brexit apart, are full of Left-wing economic nationalist policies like Le Pen in France - who is also mis-leadingly referred to as a right-wing nationalist.

This move by the Tories to the 'centre' is no such thing, it is part of the steady move to the Left begun by Cameron in 2005 - look how happily George Osborne sits as a member of the metropolitan elite, he was the architect of the Tory strategy for over a decade.

Someone please help me out, who would I vote for if I wanted Market based, capitalist ideas to vote for in the forthcoming General Election?

Sunday, 23 April 2017

From The Front: On The Streets

Rightly or wrongly I get the impression not so many C@W commenters are Party activists.  So here's a first-hand report for you

Quite by coincidence my local party was holding its annual 1-day local government conference this Saturday, so timing rather good for expanding the scope a bit.  There was a big, big turnout - and you had to book your place long before the Announcement of St Teresa - including lots of youngsters, reversing a longstanding trend.  (As mentioned before, recruiting has been way up since the Referendum, including heartening numbers of youth and "BAME".) 

I have to report that morale was exceptionally high.  Everyone said "no complacency: maybe the punters are hacked off, etc etc", but it was all very up-beat.  When you read the anti-leadership bile in Labour Uncut, it is hard to imagine anything comparable in a Labour gathering right now.  We fixed a second, ad hoc meeting for 10:00 am this morning (Sunday) to distribute leaflets for a 100%, whole-constituency delivery in a single day to get the show on the road.  Around 150 folks showed up (for those of you not engaged in local stuff, that is Quite Big: I may post the photos later) and we duly delivered 100% today, it works out at about 200-240 leaflets each: piece of piss on a fine day.

Speaking for Mrs D & meself, out delivering we found several campaign posters already in people's windows (vs virtually none in 2015, when everyone was hull-down for anticipated nastiness), and the folk we encountered in their front gardens were very cheery.  Nothing like Brenda from Bristol or any of that negativist BBC crap.

I realise there will be loads of you for whom the dusty details of doorstep politics are of little interest: but let me tell you, this has the best street-feel for the Tories in our London marginal seat since Boris first took on Ken (and, before that, since the GE of 1983).  Given that everyone is on the alert for complacency - and I'd say Big Lynton Crosby probably has an eye on that, too - this might indeed be an utter rout.


Friday, 21 April 2017

Abject: Inside Corbyn's Pathetic Decision-Loop

Team Corbyn is not fit to take the battlefield.  I'm not sure Team May would prevail against a worthwhile foe, but clearly they've no need to.

A basic military tenet is this:  there is rarely any strategic surprise; but there can always be tactical surprise.  I could give a thousand examples. 

So - was the Snap Election a strategic surprise?  Absolutely not: any Team Corby chappies wargaming the political future after he was re-elected in September would have had it on their list, and - fatally - indeed they obviously did.  We'll come to that in a moment. 

Was it a tactical surprise?  Oh, yes.  And conforming nicely to British military doctrine:  a deception plan in advance, totally secrecy and radio silence beforehand (fascinating to speculate exactly who knew - the true Teresa Trustees); then strike like lightning.

With tremendous success, because the announcement clearly got right inside Team Corbyn's decision-loop.  So all they could do was react with tremendous predictability and trot out their rehearsed line:  "bring it on; we're not afraid", hotly followed by putting on a 3-line whip for the Parliamentary vote required to crystalise May's intent.  So now everything that follows is on May's chosen battlefield, and - even if she didn't consider it prudent to fire up CCHQ ahead of time [see 'secrecy' above] - at least Core-Team-May is a hundred times better prepared than, well, anyone else on the field.

This reveals the stupidity of the opposing forces, who have forgotten Drew's 4th law of politics:  the lines of logistics in politics are short.  Very short, assuming everyone (except Gordon Brown of course) has a mobile 'phone.  This means, inter alia: no-one in politics needs to be bounced into an instant reaction because (a) any politico worth their salt can play for time (being measured here only in hours, or a day at most);  and (b) in a matter of hours you can convene your best brains, thrash out a serious response, and hurl it back into the fray.  

In this instance, they should at very least have blown up the narrow bridge across which May was forced to march, namely the requirement for a two-thirds majority.  Even if she had a Plan B (and we may guess she did) you've already won yourself even more time: and if you can't come up with a workable slogan to counter the inevitable chorus of "frit frit frit" you've no place in Team Corby HQ. 

Instead, they remembered that the last time they discussed a snap election - several months ago, in the abstract, with nothing concrete in front of them - they concluded we'd better say OK.  And that was what they had in the locker.  "OK."  And not enough coolness under fire to sit down quietly and come up with their own plan in time for the 6 O'clock news.  Something really unexpected, from out of left field(!)  And we know May looks utterly out of her depth when that happens: so, an opportunity to score heavily.  Instead, yet another in the line of prostrate Parliamentary performances, kowtowing to the Empress.  "The real fight starts now" -?

Abject.  Pathetic.  Deserving of utter oblivion.


Thursday, 20 April 2017

Goodbye fixed term parliaments

The fixed term parliament act, foundation stone of the 2010 coalition government, has been swept away as easily as a small sandcastle encountering a large wave.

During the negotiations for the agreement of the  Liberal-Tory coalition the insistence on ensuring that the government be stable was paramount. Neither side much trusted the other. 
The dripping wet, high tax-higher spend, liberals, were not natural bedfellows of the evil, NHS privatising, poor bashing Tories. {Though in reality on both sides the senior people were quite happy moving even closer to the centre than their respective parties were.}

It was a very strong political card that David Cameron had given up to become Prime Minister.
It was accepted the leader of the nation be able to call an election at a time that suited their own agenda. Either at the judged peak of the wave of their popularity, Thatcher style. Or by hanging on to the last possible second before an election had to be called in the hope something might turn up to reverse their dismal fortunes.Brown style. Either way the decision was the Prime Minister's to make.
A mild gerrymandering of the political system to favour the incumbent government.

The financial crisis of 2008 was so serious that stability was deemed essential. The huge polling leads that the Cameron Tories had enjoyed pre-2008 evapourated when the Clunking Fist managed to convince people that only his masterful stewardship of the economy could save us from an economic tsunami.  The public voted on traditional lines. With the liberals mostly keeping their high numbers of MPs. Labour supporters voted Labour. Except in Scotland where the SNP made significant gains.
Tories voted Tory. Kippers voted for UKIP. And the result was a hung parliament. The Tories narrowly falling short. Brown's promises to spend our way out of debt resonated better than Osborne's spending will need to be curbed.

So, the coalition came into being and the Fixed Term Parliament act was devised to ensure neither side could back out when the going got tough. 

It proved a masterstroke. The Liberals, the Italians in this axis coalition, would have bailed out if they could. Their polling figures slumped ever lower. Partly caused by the shock of a lefty party getting in a righties bed. But mostly by their own penchant for telling enourmous whoppers at every election opportunity in the knowledge they would never have to deliver on their false promises.

Stability was achieved. The act seemed to be a permanent part of politics. Worded so carefully that only in the case of extreme political turmoil could it even be discussed whether it might be amended.

So it was quite surprising that it was overturned by a government with a tiny, semi-rebellious majority. For no good reason other than it absolubtely suited the Prime Minister to call an election at this time for purely opportunist reasons entirely favourable to herself. 
Overturned{it wasn't overturned - just now ignored, but essentially its a dead duck.} by 522 to 13.

Labour,desperately wanting to be put out of their own misery.Liberals sensing a closing window of opportunity to gain from Brexit. And the SNP, having managed to over rhetoric themselves into a feisty 'bring it on' position they didn't want at this time, has meant all sides prepared to reset the board, no matter how unfavorably that might turn out for them.

And we used to think Cameron was a lucky leader facing second rate opposition in Brown and Miliband.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Woe to the SNP: Sturgeon Wilts, Orchid Dies!

Yes, it's been an unhappy turn of events for Nicola Sturgeon.  Remember those happy evenings spent curled up on the sofa, flashing her knees and writing to Teresa May in big loopy handwriting?  Well, no more pen-pals.

We can tell she's a Bad Person, because she's let the orchid die!


Tuesday, 18 April 2017

May calls General Election for 8th June

Ouch. Like we don't have enough politicians moaning on as it is!

So 2 more months of this...oh, well. Maybe sometime for some political bets.

As to C@W predictions, only Antisthenes predicted a UK election this year and a May win.

I do wonder whether Labour will do much better than expected, on basis that there is much less of a UKIP threat and most of their seats are very safe. May I think will win, but not with a 100-seat majority that her lead would make you think?

How is everyone calling it? I see the FTSE is off 1.7% which is a bit of a tanking but then the NK war games had taken the edge of Asian and US markets and there was a bit of catching up to do after the Bank Holiday anyway.

Threat of Nuclear War - not much fun is it?

We have written in the past many a post on C@W dissecting and analysing the Bay of Pigs and the Cuba Missile Crisis. It was after all, the only real time that politics (technology failure added some others) led to the possibility of an actual Nuclear War.

Fast forward 50 years and for the first time again, this seems as if it is possible. Perhaps not on the scale of the past, but enough that even life in far off Blighty would be mightily damaged should the worst happen.

And it is hard to blame, Trump, again. The idiotic man-boy has been left right in it but the intellectually superior but strategically inept President Obama. Trump has noticed that within 2 years North Korea will have weapons to strike anywhere in the world.

At that point it will be able to hold the rest of the world hostage to its mad desires and wants. This is not a situation the USA wants to happen. the US has been trying to get China to do something about this to little avail. China has been quite happy to get cheap resources from North Korea and a beholden export market (how do you think North Korea has all those nice buildings in Pyongyang that we see on the news - they did not grow themselves).

So now Trump has upped the temperature on the situation, whilst he still can. The threat is to South Korea and Japan - who still sit sweetly hoping the big boy will sort out the bully for them. China is alarmed, but perhaps also fearful that it has lost control of its client state.

In another world, assassination and regime change was the order of the day, in such a techno-medieval state of North Korea this is not on the table. Hopefully China can do something to end the impasse, but the context looks bad. North Korea's only raison d'etre is to re-take the South one day, as much as China and everyone else hopes it does not come to pas, surely one day it will.

It won't be pretty either, it is impossible to see how at least limited nuclear strikes do not take place.

Easter was yeterday

Monday, 17 April 2017

Is There Life Outside London?

...  never mind those 300 billion planets.

Not if you inhabit the Labour Party metro-bubble.  Here's a front page from Labour List and they are reporting on how the party has just lost a council seat in its north-east heartland of a town called "the Brexit-backing city of Middlesborough" (sic) which, apparently, is in somewhere called "Teeside".  It's the first time the Wickedtories have ever won this seat, they say.

Is this perhaps in one of Kev's 20 trillion parallel universes, where there's a river called the "Tee"?   Could it be that the reason Labour loses these elections is because their metro-elite haven't a clue what and where these places really are, or what they are called?

Always nice to be taken seriously and valued.  Maybe even visited once in a while, in a missionary sort of way.  Some of that fine guacamole with my cod-and-chips, please.


PS - speaking of delicious regional food: I am in Ireland at the moment and have been invited to indulge in what they proudly call the "Full Irish Breakfast".  It is attractively advertised on my hotel menu with this picture. I think I'll have the porridge, actually.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Sad Loss

A bit obscure - more so than the recent death of Derek Parfit , a towering figure in philosophy - but we've just lost excellent young philospher Joshua Parsons at the age of 43.

Curiously enough, lots of people know one of his works: this brilliant assessment of the merits and demerits of the national flags of the world!  If you've never looked at it, I recommend you do so over the holiday weekend.   Some extracts:

Rule 1c: If you must write a stupid slogan on your flag, do not do so in a living language! ...

Rule 2a: Do not put a picture of anything on your flag. That's right: no pictures. Especially not of sheep (are you listening, Falkland Islands?) or parrots (this means you, Dominica!). Stylised logos based on representations are OK (Albania is pushing it) but representational art is out.

If you are going to put a picture on your flag (in violation of rule 2a) why would you put pictures of the weapons that you are using to conduct a bloody repression of your citizens on it? This just doesn't make sense to me. Obviously countries like Afghanistan Mozambique just aren't interested in the tourist dollars that you can get from not advertising the fact that you like to hack off the limbs of foreigners before shooting them and turning them into soap. Still, it's their loss. 

You gotta read the rest.

No details on his death yet but he was known to suffer from deep depression.  All very sad.


Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Hitler. Chemical weapons and the outrage bus.

Hitler never gave the order to use battlefield gas.
The WMD was plentiful among the warring nations of 1940s Europe. It had been used extensively by all sides during the 1914-18 conflict. And although chemical smoke weapons, that has a gassing effect, were actively used by the troops in WW2 battles, the sanctioning of chlorine, mustard and nerve gases was never given.

This, as should be clear to even a semi-informed student, is what the rather baffling statement Sean Spicer made regarding the Nazis and chemical weapons, was referring too. 

“We didn't use chemical weapons in World War Two, you know, you had a, someone as despicable as Hitler, who didn't even sink to the, to using chemical weapons.
“So you have to, if you're Russia, ask yourself is this a country that, and a regime, that you want to align yourself with.”

Has he forgotten the death camps that killed their inmates by the millions with deadly poison gas? 
Seems unlikely. He was just pointing out that although the Germans had 7,000 tons of Sarin nerve gas alone, and various thousands of tons of other even more deadly poisons ready to be deployed, they never did. Even when defeat was inevitable. 

The Japanese used their chemical and biological weapons in China. Plagues and diseases were dropped on towns and villages killing large numbers of civilians. The Chinese had no gas.
They also experimented with hot air balloons containing explosives floating across to America. They launched thousands and at least one killed a picnicking family.
 A pretty useless weapon, the hot air bomb. But development was already underway of a chemical balloon bomb that would poison Americans. It is possible Japan, advanced compared to the Allies in biological and chemical weapons, may have deployed them in defence of the homelands and after an Allied invasion of mainland Japan.

The Americans themselves had vast stockpiles of poison gas. US troops on D-Day had special rubber gas pouches for gas masks The lead assault waves had gas impregnated uniforms, supposedly to render some gases ineffective. Reports said it made the wearers nauseous. All allied troops on D-Day had a paper armband that would change colour if some types of gas was detected.
So the allies were expecting the possibility of its use.
The Russians had stockpiles and of course, so did the British. The Anthrax experiments were real. And they didn't begin until 1942. After the threat of invasion had passed. Anthrax was going to be an offensive weapon. Churchill frequently asked for gas to be used. His top brass talked him out of it.

It was the military, on all sides, and surprisingly, Hitler who was totally against, that stopped the use of gasses. It would be counter productive. It was the MAD-WMD of its day. If one side used it, all sides would use it and there would be no winners. Untold civilian deaths. Cities uninhabitable and armies having to fight in gas capes and gas masks. The Germans worried the Allies had the same very deadly nerve agents they had.{They didn't}. The Allies worried about poison gas bombings of civilians in cities. Both sides knew how the battlefield was made almost impossible to traverse after gas attacks. That the use caused many casualties to the side using them and made attack ever more harder than defence.

So there is no historic dispute that poison gas was available to everyone and everyone decided they had more to lose than gain by using it.

And what the fellow said was - "Even a madman like Hitler wasn't mad enough to use gas."

Marginally less of a stupid statement than Ken Livingstone's "Hitler was a Zionist."
 But even that, when you boil down to what Livingstone was trying to say, was factually, if not actually correct. It's an interpretation. A foolish one. A ridiculous one.
Hitler did consider deporting Jews. He did agree to allow Jews to go to Palestine in return for their stolen assets and a hope to stop the World Jewish ban on German exports that worried the Nazis exporting economy.
Livingstone knows all this. But chooses to interpret it as somehow Hitler may have been in alignment with world Zionism, early on. Who knows why he wants to believe that?  But the facts, if taken in isolation, can support that theory. 

So, in my view, it is wrong to call for the resigning or expelling of either of these men. They both said true things. In an insensitive way. That was very likely to provoke a reaction they hadn't wanted.
But that's true of a great many people. And their punishment has been they have had a ride on the outrage bus that has taken them to all manner of destinations. none of which was the one they were hoping to arrive at when they were making their original point.

Russians laughing at the West - and rightly so

Really, how stupid does the West' diplomacy look. I can't remember a time when collectively the Western powers looked so inept. As we know, we are incapable of even securing the borders and oceans around Europe, let alone dealing with a manipulative and highly intelligent power such as Russia.

The Chinese, risk averse in international relations, must be aghast at the collapse of both Western Unity and the total lack of strategic nous on display by both US and Europe.

Surely, in a Reagan/Thatcher world the answers are simple:

1) Agree to let Assad survive on a promise of the destruction of ISIS and end to use of chemical weapons. Agreement with Turkey to continue the block on passage of migrants from Syria and Iraq.

2) Agree to lift sanctions on Russia re Crimea in return for a settling of the border disputes in Ukraine and agreement from both sides to position Ukraine as a neutral power not to be invited into EU/NATO.

3) UN Resolutions to take UN mandate to 'support' Libya, allowing the crushing of ISIS there and an end to the criminal migrant gangs, plus potentially more stability for the Government going forward.

4) (As is happening) A China/US agreement on North Korea to try to stop the mad boy-king enacting his weird fantasies.

5) Global resolutions from the UN against Al-Qaeda and ISIS (and the Uighurs etc to get China on board) to allow for more rapid intervention as ISIS vacates the Middle East for North Africa and the Sahel.

Instead, we are basically doing the opposite of the above, side-lining Russia who are prepared to do the dirty work for us. Doing nothing really with China and ignoring the ISIS issue in Libya, Iraq and Syria.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

United Airlines...oh deary me.

I really struggle to find this whole United story believable; not so much the over-booking, but the idea this guy was 'disruptive' when they tried to pull him off the flight..

Who would not be angry at being asked to get off the flight they had booked and paid for? Of course the guy resisted....then being USA, things tend to get a bit heavy from there!

Worse for the company to say that this is because we need to transport our own people, up yours customers. Now the CEO has written, saying the same thing. It is all the customers' fault for resisting being thrown off the plane by 'not co-operating'.

Basically, as things go, this is bad enough to make Mike Ashley look like a good guy when it comes to business and people management.

On top of all of this, it was only a short flight, United could have had their staff catch a bus or train with no problem.

The company will really suffer for this and deservedly so - I can't see a single part of the argument they can win on.

Monday, 10 April 2017

... But Channel 4 News is Generally Crap

Item:  Channel 4 News at 7 o'clock on Monday.  That's Channel 4, the station, "owned and operated by Channel Four Television Corporation, a public corporation of the Department for Culture, Media & Sport".  (How we love Jon Snow.)  Tonight, an item on Syria - and this is 'news' reporting - ends thus:

"Back in Khan Sheikhoun, they've been burying the dead from last week's chemical weapon strike.  To them, a peace process, a political solution, probably seems as far off in the future as Syria's past in the Roman Empire, when the Emperor Trajan held the fate of the country in his hands."

Yeah, right.  In amongst all the stuff raining down on them.  Analogies with the Emperor Trajan.  In Khan Sheikhoun, that's exactly how they are thinking.  Probably.


The BBC is Not Always Rubbish

Contentious sentiment, huh?  But, just once in a while ...

Here's an interesting BBC article on a good Capitalist topic: 'two-part pricing' - the sale of (e.g.) below-cost printers to hook you on their overpriced ink: a phenomenon that sometimes makes one grind the teeth.  Rent-seeking; they're all at it.

Anyhow this Beeb writer attributes it to Mr Gillette and his razor-blades.  (Did giving kerosene lamps to eskimos** post-date this?)  It's all a bit entry-level, but he goes on to discuss the dynamics of two-part pricing more generally:  locking the customer in via patents on the refills, or technology for the same effect - those bastard chip-readers that prevent you from using a knock-off.  (The software in my printer is yet more subversive than that: but I'm even smarter still ...).

Also discussed are the psychological factors which is where it gets really interesting, for economists as much as psychologists.  "Two-part pricing can be highly inefficient, and economists have puzzled over why consumers stand for it. The most plausible explanation is that they get confused."  Well, maybe.  But yes: teaser-rates, free trials, 'customer loyalty', inertia in general - all phenomena worth recognising.  And the really serious matter of barriers to exit / barriers to switching:  hey, I spent some time in the enterprise software business and believe me, the thought of switching out of a big, more-or-less reliable piece of enterprise s/w is enough to make most companies stay rooted to the spot in a cold sweat, long after they should have jumped ship.

Good old Beeb, eh?   (*ducks*)


** am I allowed to say that?  or should it be native Inuit-type Canadian indigenous peoples ...

Friday, 7 April 2017

Syria flip-flop

Nil points fro President Trump.

It is all very well wringing your hands and deciding now that you are President you can fire of a missile salvo....but to what end?

We can only hope in a limited sense that this is supposed to make Assad think again before he uses chemical weapons. The issue is that Assad was using chemical weapons on Al-Qaeda (Al-Nursa)controlled areas. Sadly for the civilians in Syria, nowhere is safe and each side happily uses hostages in this sick and brutal civil war.

Obama, made empty threats so I guess some might see Trump as at least improving on his predecessors utter uselessness when it came to foreign policy. However, realpolitik thinking would suggest the best thing in Syria is for the war to end, this means one side must win. Both sides are the bad guys hence the confusion in diplomatic circles about what to do.

At least the last strategy, of letting Russia fight the war with Assad could have led to a conclusion of sorts. Now, if Assad is to be held back by US Airpower, then the prospect to and end to the war and slaughter is further away.

There are no easy answers in a terrible situation that has been allowed to develop - a few missiles fired I doubt is going to be the answer.

Perhaps instead this is meant to impress the Chinese on the seriousness of the threat Trump has made re North Korea?

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

How long will China last?

Even I can't write about Brexit everyday - the newspapers seem less reticent. Surely Brexit insomnia will set in soon?

However, on a wider note, I have been considering recently how much longer China's debt bubble can last. As with all markets, accurate prediction is the key, without that there is no chance of making money. With China, being a communist controlled state, they have a lot more levers to pull when it comes to juicing their finances than most countries. Plus as the largest economy in the world they can also rely on everyone else to play the extend and pretend game in order to keep the party going.

The chart above shows the path that Japan and Korea both pursued during their own debt fuelled booms. As can be seen, China is on a huge tear currently that will out-shoot even Japan.

Japan has never really recovered from its debt-binge in terms of economic growth and development, sure they have nice stuff there and a high standard of living, but real growth is near impossible due to the debt burden and demographics. China will be in that boat too in short order.

The chart though is quite long-term, so I can see China having another 5 years or so of debt fuelled 5%+ growth before the big crunch. Perhaps this will then coincide with Brexit and the collapse of the Euro - who knows the domino effect.

One thing we can be sure of, this will happen as sure as eggs are eggs. In our own way in the UK, we know all too well the consequences of a debt binge - the China scale is around double the problem in relative terms that we had in 2008;

Monday, 3 April 2017

Threatening Spain is the wrong tactic for Article 50 negotiation

Here I am, away for a week in France, no discussion in my world of Article 50 and I return to Michael Howard making some rather inept threats of war over Gibraltar.

The thing is, I am not really sure this works. First of all, taking a strictly neocon view of the situation, Gibraltar is not really worth that much tot he UK anymore. Perhaps it gives us access to the Mediterranean but as it is now fairly undefended I am not sure that this is worth as much as it was in World War 2.

Really our American friends will be more concerned.

Anyway, if we are to seek pariah status in Europe then surely the best answer is to invade France.

The bets bits of Spain are already under the colonial control of ex-pat Brits.

However, the old possessions in France are of more use to us geo-politically and economically going forward.

An re-taking of Calais would allow more direct control over immigration to the UK.

Re-conquest of Normandy is more optional these days although Rouen is one of France's more successful industrial centres. Clearly Brittany and Aquitaine should be the aim to give the UK better European port facilities and nicer holiday destinations (occupation would certainly improve the service levels and imposition of capitalist policies might even improve the food offering over time).

Given France currently is ruled by then inept Hollande, a surprise attack would possibly even be welcomed by the local populations, keen to avoid both Macron or Le Pen in the elections later this year. Boris would make a terrific leader of these areas of Greater Britain.

Domestically, invading France has been a populist and popular gambit for nearly 1000 years and the Tories would romp home to multiple election victories. On the downside, the invasion may re-awaken the auld alliance, but Scotland does not even have an army to fight and as ever the English only need to control the lowlands which would be a relatively easy land grab.

So anyway, we should forget these pointless threats to Spain and work on making demands in the negotiations to return to the borders of Treaty of Troyes. Refusal and the preparations for a new D-Day should be begun.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

April Fool as Didactic Tool

Never mind George Osborne's new fashion line: the splendid lads at Energy Matters have perpetrated a genuinely educational spoof that should be compulsory reading for energy ministers everywhere.


PS - in other 01.04.17 spoof news, this time from the DTel -


Oh, you mean, errrr ...