Monday 31 December 2018

Andrew - Futurologist of the year

 A reminder to all of our annual predictions quiz. As always, first up the result from last year. In a close race Andrew has edged it - really all coming down to question six in the end. Here were our questions:

1. Brexit - will the current deal stick or will we move back to a no-deal scenario?
2. Remain - will the continual campaign to have a re-vote finally work, via the House of Lords, Judiciary or some other contrived nonsense?
3. Election - A 2017 election was a shock, but with the Tories in disarray is it out of the question to consider there could well be a 2018 election?
4. Trump - Again, for many reasons, will he see out the year at President of the USA
5. North Korea, could 2018 be the year, with the Winter Olympics in Seoul and sanction biting, the year things turn really nasty?
6. It's World Cup year, with Russia in charge could they win it all themselves or will Germany finally win in Moscow?
7. Economy - very goldilocks 2017, will 2018 prove to be a continuation? 

And Andrew's highly predictive answers:

1.  It will stick. There will be much moaning on both sides.

2. No

3. No

4.  Again, for many reasons, will he see out the year at President of the USA. Yes, but ever fewer people will be pleased about that.

5. No.

Neither, Spain will.

As so many expect something bad, something bad won't happen.

A very close finish though with David Morris - bad luck David you even had France as winners but just oo pessimistic on the economy!

Sunday 23 December 2018

C@W's Xmas Outing to the Opera!

It’s been a few years since we all went to the opera at Christmas, but here we are again, at a rousing performance of the tragi-comic Madame Butterfingers, or How Theresa Dropped The Ball. 

You’ll want a reminder of the plot …

*  *  *  *  *  *
We see Philip May entering the flat in Downing Street and finding nobody at home.  He breaks into the doleful Ou va la jeune indoue? (where has Her Indoors gone this time?)   A civil servant enters, saying the PM is needed urgently – the owners of a Sunderland car factory are demanding a subsidy to keep it open after Brexit.  “We can’t expect the Japs to be asleep at the wheel”, he sings (Nissan Dorma).  May ruefully remarks that his wife is forever jetting off to pester other European leaders, and the man acknowledges: La donna é mobile (she certainly gets about a bit).

The scene changes to the Élysée Palace, where Ollie Robbins and a nervous-looking PM are being kept waiting.  Che gelida manina, she intones (you get a cold handshake here). In comes a stony-faced Macron.  She begs for changes to the Deal: a limit on the backstop, and more generous trade terms. If not, she wails, Eccomi in lieta vesta (the economy will go up in flames).

Macron gives her a stern lecture: the UK’s actions are damaging to everyone, he says, and renders the chilling baritone aria Connais-tu le pays? (and you know who’s going to pay).  Flushed with anger, she tells him he should be more respectful of another head of government; but he continues his rebuff with the refrain Regnava nel silenzio (shut it - you’re not the Queen) and the first Act ends with her tottering off, ashen-faced.

Act 2 begins with a comic interlude: the scene is a sordid mittel-european hostelry. A dishevelled Jean Claude Juncker sways towards the bar singing Mimì's sì, mi chiantamo mimì (mine’s a chianti, yes chianti for me!)   The bartender demurs but Juncker redoubles the volume with the tenor refrain Largo al factotum (- and make it a large one!)  

He grabs a bottle and staggers out into the street, where Boris Johnson is holding court to a gaggle of reporters.  He is keen to get publicity for his private mission to negotiate better terms: Questa e la Cameriera (where is the camera?), he demands.  Juncker lurches over and tells him there can be no further negotiation but Boris brandishes a folder containing pictures of the drunken eurocrat in compromising positions with various young ladies; and challenges him forcefully with Neghittosi or voi che fate (negotiate, or accept your fate).  Juncker is aghast, and turns aside singing Bimba pieni di malia (those slappers can do me plenty of harm).

Act 3 finds us in the heart of Brussels.   Robbins is ensconced conspiratorially with Selmayr, the Beast of Berlaymont, who mockingly renders Votre toast, je peux vous le render (you're toast, and I'm the one to do it to you).  Keeping his cool, Robbins declares he can reverse Brexit if the transition period can be extended until after the next general election, and if Selmayr promises to make him a commissioner after that.  The Beast is having none of it: Zwei Jahre sind dahin, Dulde (two years is all you get, dude!)  

Then May enters. Selmayr leaps up and takes her to one side, gesturing back at Robbins, who turns to the audience and sings Ah! Fuggi il traditor (oh fiddlesticks - he’s betrayed me!)  It seems he is right, because May rounds on him with the high-register soprano solo, Gott, der du schauest! (God, Robbins – you shyster!)  

She retreats, a broken woman, to the corner of the stage, as the rest of the cast gather in the centre; an unholy sextet of Philip, Boris, Juncker propped up by Selmayr, Robbins and the junior civil servant. They sing a complex 6-part harmony, ending with the simple, repeated chorus: Donna non vidi Mai – never has the world seen a woman quite like May!

Merry Christmas to one and all!

Friday 21 December 2018

Last minute offers. Christmas bargains 2018

The 2018 Christmas Political Online Emporium.
All your gifting needs.

The Jeremy Corbyn Trouser Creaser.

Related imageThis versatile trouser creaser is the perfect device for ironing in creases and folds into everyday work and leisure wear to give that authentic socialist 'hedge-backwards' effect.
Simply leave an old teacher's jacket, bought from an Ofxam, in the creaser and overnight it will crumple the most hard wearing of fabrics to give that Embankment sleeper appeal. Also works on polyester and nylon shell suits.

Kick the Can!

The fun can kicking game for all the euro-family. Whoever kicks the can the furthest claims "Not my problem anymore!" Best played with 28 or more.
 Image result for kick the can

1 set of can-kicking instructions.
1 packet of head burying sand
1 sturdy tin can

The ever popular Euro dessert has been a favoured option since 1955.
Made with lashings of stodgy, flavourless, euro fudge, the pre-prepared dish is placed in our artisans oven and half-baked for as long as it takes for the fudge to be partly agreed by all.
Best with nuts. Lemons 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
{Not available in Greece.}

The Jacob Rees-Fogg Lamp those gloomy, dark, dank, fetid, post-brexit days; the Rees-Fogg will shine a beacon of light to illuminate the path of the country. Lighting the way through the impenetrable Whitehall bureaucracy and can't do attitude to Brexit, the Rees-Fogg lamp will shine through the Hammond greyness, to a better place. Can also be used to guide ships trapped by adverse weather when the continent becomes cut off.

The Hardboard Hard-border.
This unique border is made from 3mm hardboard and gives all the
appearances of a real border.

Easy to install. Simply nail a piece of hardboard to a post. Write
'You are now entering the United Kingdom. Show your passport if you really must"
on it.
And declare the border done.
Available in Clear Transparent. Whitewash or Cork.

The Vince Cable channel.
Subscribe your frail and dementia suffering loved ones to the Vince Cable channel. Features the reassuring voice from yesteryear, of Vince himself. A range of television stations features all the classic memories from past glories. The unlikely lads. Are you not really being served very well? Steptoe and chancellor. And Liberals and Democrats, Deceased.
Plus a host of drama, thriller and film noir from the golden age of Holyrood.
The guy who came in from the cold

Treasured memories from a bygone age {1911}.

Many more fabulous gifting products available!

The Andrew Neil, garden kneeler.
Tim Shipman in a bottle.
Tommy Robinson's lemon barley water.
The Jacob Rees-Mug coffee cup.
Jon Sopel-on-a-rope. 

And for spring 2019, transform your outdoor space with these garden and landscaping products. Ideal whether you have an Iain Dale. A Michael Grove.
Or simply a Miranda Green.
Need to tend your Jeremy Vine's or trim your Margaret Hedge? Prune back the  Tulip Siddiqs, Stephen Twiggs or Isabel Oaktrees?
  Or simply enjoy, on a cold winter's evening, a brisk Kirsty Wark in the moonlight. The 2019 March collection will have everything for you.

*subject to possible Brexit supply chain delays. Orders may take up 84 months to pass customs.


Really, what a mess and how interesting what a small and low cost mission this has been by the interlopers.

As said in the comments to the previous thread here, it is entirely possible that several drones were pre-programmed far in advance and left to do their thing, probably ending by crashing into one of the nearby lakes so as to make evidence harder to find.

As always, it is often the small things that make the difference. Overall though, a right pain for all involved but it is not like we have not all experienced before flights being cancelled due to bad weather, crappy airlines, insolvency of airlines etc. The media reaction in a 24/7 news cycle has amused me the most, trying to get frustrated people to get angry and upset when in the main they are in fact quite phlegmatic about the situation!

So who has done it, the money from the Police is on environmental campaigners and I can see this as a possibility, but it would be wrong to rule our state actors at this stage - likely not the usual terrorists as this is a disruption attack rather than one designed to inflict injury.

Anyway, happy holidays, blogging will be light next week! The annual prediction game awaits!

- - - - - - -
PS - this has the ring of plausibility about it ...  (h/t the whole interweb  - ND)

Wednesday 19 December 2018

The Practical Realities of Government

In the sphere of my specialist subject (energy, that is; not the random history stories or the doggerel) I am well acquainted with the truism that governments will do whatever it takes to keep the lights on.  Indeed, I've often written here in exactly those terms, generally contrasting that primary political imperative with the distant and wholly subordinate 'aspiration' to be on the side of the angels as regards environmental concerns, be they CO2 or air quality or whatever green mantra is trending.  As even tinpot dictators know, when the lights go out, the government goes out.  

I've never really expanded, though, on just how seriously this is treated in Whitehall contingency planning.   Without needing to bang on at great length, just take it from me that they have carefully considered some blood-curdling possibilities.  If, for example, a prison loses its power for any length of time, the System is not at all equipped for the consequences.  (We don't have watchtowers with machine-gunners in this country.)  Likewise, if a major area of the Grid goes down for more than a short while, organised criminals will steal the grid itself:  that's what happens elsewhere.  The copper is worth a fortune, and it is only the self-protecting nature of a live grid that stops them at the best of times.

Something else I have also mentioned from time to time is that, when the chips are down, the grown-ups just take over, and everyone else is elbowed aside.  This can offend a lot of people's finer feelings, concern for propriety and due process etc etc; but there it is.

Taking these two things together, and I am sorry to say the the formal, nay legal 'inevitability' of crashing out in a No Deal Brexit, is somewhat irrelevant.  There are enough people in Whitehall who are utterly seized with lights-going-out-style No Deal disaster scenarios that, 'rightly or wrongly', it ain't gonna happen, IMHO.

If Parliament won't vote for something else, we'll just all wake up one morning to an announcement of whatever's been unilaterally decided.  And signed.  And sealed.

Conspiracy?  Unconstitutional?  Treasonous?  All of the above.  Realpolitik can make you feel ill.  But there's no way 'they' will let the lights go out.  That's just how thing are.


Tuesday 18 December 2018

Brexit Fatigue: No Yawning at the Back

On Friday I happened to be talking to the circulation manager of a member of the Dead Tree press, who was bemoaning in his cups the poor sales of his paper this year (not a very festive topic for an Xmas party, but there we are).  Apparently, it's the case across the whole of the medium.

And they are in no doubt as to what the cause is.  On the one hand, they can't justify not leading almost every front page with Brexit stuff which, in a formal sense, is about as newsworthy as it's possible to be.  However, the man on the Clapham Omnibus has tired of it all, and is not buying.  Some things, it seems, are too interesting.

Think on, Jezza lad
I just thought I'd pass that on.

In other news ... well no, actually, it's Brexit again.  It seems that Jezza is determined to underline the point made a couple of days ago that he and his dire entourage have no plan; bewildering friend and foe alike with his personal motion of no confidence.  Someone has likened this to a penalty-taker shooting deliberately at a corner flag.  Being more inclined towards a military idiom, I have toyed with the parallel of the one-man charge mounted by H Jones at Goose Green.  On balance, I prefer the image of Wat Tyler trotting out to meet Richard II.  He didn't trot back again, if you recall.


Friday 14 December 2018

No Lunch for Labour

Labour's Brexit strategy?  ... actually, they haven't got one.

At best, it's just a glorified vulture-tactic: circle aimlessly, high above the ground, in the hope that something keels over and dies under your nose.

Reading a range of leftist contributions aroud the www, the only sub-group with a clear slogan are the ones who want R2.  But Labour commentators who see just a few tiny problems with R2 - as anything that might benefit Labour specifically, or even as just a genuinely practical proposition - see things in a much more problematic light.  Try this, from Little Owen Jones, for example.  OJ's pieces of late have become highly structured masterpieces of equivocation.  Each time he writes, he has to go through the ritual of praising Corbyn to the skies - his punishment for having dared to doubt the master for just a very few weeks last year - and mapping out just how awkward everything is.  But, whisper it softly, he is gradually becoming less sycophantic in substance, his regular and well-argued conclusion being: there might not be much here for us.  It's not greatly different from a host of other writers on the left, who are all enjoying the spectacle of the Tory and DUP lions and hyenas scrapping; but are otherwise pretty much reduced to wringing their hands.  Oh, it's all so difficult to know what to do.

Yes, the vulture doesn't actually have to do anything as dynamic and skilful as hunting something down and despatching it.  You could see why that counsel of idleness suits a perennially work-shy git like Corbyn.  Less obviously, even the hard-driving McDonnell is also given to waiting and watching - because he's a marxist, whose belief-system is that it is all going to turn out right on the night, courtesy of the Hand of History.  He's sure he'll eventually find something dead on the veldt - the bloated body of capitalism, to be precise - on which the proletariat can gorge.

The lions and hyenas have to do something pretty stupid for this to be the outcome.  Some of them have fairly few brain cells, it's true.  But they operate in prides and packs, the collective wisdom of which is probably adequate for the task of ensuring no lunch for the vulture.


Thursday 13 December 2018

Well that is a fine mess you got us into

Jesus Wept. I mean, the whole Brexit thing is unreal in its perfect realisation slapstick, fine balance and pure frustration.

Image result for laurel and hardy
So May wins a vote, close enough to a victory that she can engage in her airport fever as per Nick Drew's insightful post of yesterday. But weak enough to know that we are merely at Chapter X in the book with quite a few pages left yet.

With over 100 votes against her she is deep in the well of misfortune. Even if half of those think 'OK, will of the party, let's back her now' the rest won't. So she is 50 votes short in Parliament for her deal. Plus the DUP still hold the golden ticket and are in no mood to play nice, never have been have they? Labour are run by commie nutjobs who won't act in the national interest when they are in Government, let alone when they are the opposition.

So her deal, with minor tweaks for Europe is dead. How have the MP's, who disagree with the deal which is her only policy, voted her back in? Madness, but then, we know this now. Brexit has driven the political and media class insane with anger, rage and confusion.

So the deal dies, we then either somehow tick out to a managed hard Brexit for which the rebels in Parliament may be able to defeat (oh, that will be fun with Soubry and et al voting with Labour etc). Or May conspires to create a BINO with Labour in return for an election (she said she would not do this last night, so unlikely if not impossible). Or after the 'Deal' fails in Parliament May delays article 50 somehow and orders a new referendum (Deal or Remain - the EU will only extend if their preferred option is on the Ballot paper).

All with the Maybot in charge, thinking only of kicking the can until next week, with no vision or strategy anywhere to be seen and a dearth of quality advisors in her Cabinet and party.

A fine mess indeed.

Wednesday 12 December 2018

Mrs May Has Airport Fever

Just Go
A number of years ago I hired a guy to be head of European sales.  With most clients, there was very strong potential for follow-on orders, so the job entailed post-sales customer relations.  If the sales guy was good at that relationship stuff, the follow-ons were the easiest sales to make.  But the product wasn't entirely trouble-free, so he did have to be good.

The new hire had several indisputable qualifications: he had relevant experience; knew the sector; and spoke several Euro-languages really well, in an easygoing way that meant most people liked him at first meeting. 

What could go wrong?  Well, all the usual little things, like they always do.  But I was impressed from the start at how, when the anguished or angry call came in from a client, he would immediately jump on a plane and get out on site to put things right in person.

That is, I was impressed at the start.  But it soon become apparent that these dashes to client's door were not genuinely productive.  Whatever good he was achieving by sheer personal responsiveness - in the striking but rather limited sense of physically turning up within hours - he was not actually problem-solving when he got there.  Somehow he expected the magic of a prompt but fleeting personal appearance to be enough.  I subsequently heard this pattern of fruitless behaviour labelled 'airport fever'.

Which brings us to our very own Theresa May.  Over the 30 months of her PM-ship there have been many squalls in the brexit process and the first thing you know, she's blitzing half a dozen Euro-capitals in person.  Protocol being what it is, the respective political leaders always give her a cup of coffee and a brief photo-opportunity ...  well, it's only polite.

But it's pretty obvious these dynamic and quite striking personal interventions achieve two tenths of bugger-all and, since it is to be imagined the Air Miles are not the attraction, we are obliged to diagnose a bad case of Airport Fever.

I had to let the sales guy go, of course.  It's not just airport fever.  It's terminal.  If you see what I mean.  


Tuesday 11 December 2018

"There'll Be No Rioting Here"

... says Simon Jenkins.  So that's alright, then.

I think he's predicating this on 'No Deal' being ruled out.  Let's see - on both counts.

Speaking of editors of the Evening Standard:   how must little Georgie Osborne be regretting he left Parliament?  All this flux and and turmoil, so ripe for a decisive political initiative.  And all he can do is make cheap jibes from his student-newspaper-style editorial platform.


Monday 10 December 2018

Should we cancel Brexit?

So here we go for a momentous week in UK politics (and business/economics).

The kick-off has already begun, with the ECJ ruling that Brexit can be cancelled with no changes allowed from the EU side. This cuts both ways, it means Article 50 can be extended and there is nothing the EU Commission can do and also that we can reject the deal offered and remain on the current terms that we have.

This is crucial, as it guarantees that May will lose her job this week. I guarantee it now! (regular readers will know, I am wrong a lot of the time).

OK, why so confident when I can look silly in a few days - well first off, there is no incentive for anyone to pass her Remain Minus deal that she has negotiated. The Brexiteers can see that they can takeover and try again with another few months bought for negotiations and/or No Deal preparations. Meanwhile Remainers are in rapture at the idea of Parliament voting against the people and making the whole thing go away (hmmm, some problems with this, but he ho, I am not a remainer so they can figure it out).

So which of these choices should we take? I have been a fan of May's deal, because although terrible it started the journey towards leaving which is in big danger from a Remain dominated Parliament. This unexpected ruling from the ECJ - timed like film-script too! - does change materially the situation; It has both weakened the EU position AND strengthened the Remainers.

No one will vote for the crap deal now, as there is literally no need too. Remainers will vote it down and that alone is enough, but the DUP and ERGers will vote it down too, meaning May faces a cataclysmic defeat.

OK, there is a small chance she is bright enough to see the EU's position weakened and to try further negotiations as a trick to keeping her in 10 Downing St, but there is very little chance of not receiving an internal vote of confidence from the party to trigger a leadership election. So, May is toast, diddums.

However, there is one bigger consideration, even for me. Given the choice between a terrible Deal of May's and Remaining (now without any change to current circs) would should we do. Even I am tempted to say remain, for the deal is indeed bad and in that false choice (which may come to us by way of the machinations of Parliament given a minority Government) scenario would Remain actually be better in both the long and short term? It is not an easy decision that. With tRemain, there is a chance to re-gather for future battles with the EU newly weakened by its own court.

Oh how things can change in Politics and it is only Monday!

Saturday 8 December 2018

Those Gilets Jaunes Demands In Full

Here's a pretty kettle of fish.  None of it reliably 'officielle', of course, because they don't have leaders.  But no wonder Momentum are confused.

Question for A-level Politics students:  Categorise the following demands into 'right wing' and 'left wing', giving reasons.  (4 marks)
Economy/work: - a full review of taxation, with no citizen to be taxed at more than 25% of income; an immediate 40% increase in the minimum wage, pensions and benefits; “mass hirings” in the state sector to restore quality of service in hospitals, schools etc; 5m new homes; make banks “smaller” 
Politics: - France’s constitution to be rewritten “by the people and for the interests of the people”; lobbying to be banned; Frexit: France should leave the EU; recover euros80bn lost to tax evasion each year; halt and/or reverse all privatisations; removal of “useless” speed cameras; complete reform of education system, removal of all “ideologies”; quadruple budget of judicial system, which must be simplified, free and accessible for all; break up media monopolies and halt cosy relationship between media and political class; open media up to the people 
Health/environment: - 10-year guarantee on products to end planned obsolescence; ban plastic bottles; limit power of pharmaceutical companies; ban GM foods, carcinogenic pesticides, monoculture; reindustrialise France to reduce imports and therefore pollution 
Geopolitics: - Pull France out of Nato and foreign wars; end the plunder of French-speaking Africa; prevent migration flows that cannot be welcomed or integrated given current “civilisational crisis”; scrupulous respect of international law and engagements
I might even vote for some of those meself ...  


Thursday 6 December 2018

Pinning Hopes on Macron, Were They?

Macron was elected with a 2:1 majority**.  Much good has it done him.  But oh, how he was greeted by the liberal elite!  And oh, how much changes in a year ...

It was no coincidence that the music Emmanuel Macron chose to accompany him, as he walked in victory through the Louvre esplanade, was Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, the official anthem of the European Union. [His] election was, first and foremost, the rebuttal of what could have been – for France, Europe and the west at large – a slide into a new dark age... the youngest French president in modern history, and a meteoric rise that slickly took advantage of crumbling traditional political structures. Macron won with a strong pro-European message of hope and reform at a time when the very word Europe has become almost a synonym for despondency. That’s why the choice of the Ode for Joy at such a solemn moment was an immense symbol... Anyone doubtful about the meaning of Macron’s victory should really reflect on what the world would look like if he’d been defeated on Sunday. French voters have stalled the national populist wave, and surely that’s not just a source of relief. Like beautiful music, it sends a universal message. 

Natalie Nougayrède, Guardian 8 May 2017
The French president is uniquely placed to speak for Europe. If he reaches out to British people, perhaps the disaster of leaving the EU could be averted. This was the year France won and Britain lost. Emmanuel Macron emerged to transform a sclerotic political scene, dazzling the world and many in his country with a youthful energy that made French rejuvenation a buzzword. Macron has shown he can look beyond. Why not reach out to the British people in this historic moment? Why not say: we would like you to stay, we are not seeking to benefit from your departure nor to harm you, and we still have so much to achieve together? Why not say: some of the trends that led to Brexit, among them inequality and a broken social fabric, are problems France and others on the continent also have to deal with? Why not plunge into historical references in which the salvation of France was made possible thanks to Britain’s courage, and now, nearly 80 years on, show French courage in return? ... Many Britons may well just shrug. But some may also rethink, and feel that maybe Brexit doesn’t have to happen.
Natalie Nougayrède, Guardian 30 December 2017
For Europe’s sake, Emmanuel Macron needs help... A young, reformist French president who promised a “European renaissance” finds himself struggling at the helm of a country that is fast becoming “the sick man of Europe” again. It was a telling moment last weekend when rioters disfigured the face of a statue of Marianne, the republic’s symbol, at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Just three weeks earlier, world leaders had gathered there with Macron for the centenary of the Armistice. If the “sad passions” that Macron has warned of many times take hold in France, an entire continent will be affected – not just one man’s political career... Now the president looks paralysed at home, and the last rites could soon be read over his European plans. Just as a weakened Merkel didn’t do much to help Macron in relaunching the European project, a weakened Macron will now provide new fodder for extremists and populists across the continent... There can be no European democratic project or social justice without a European democratic France. Marianne’s face must be restored. 

Natalie Nougayrède, Guardian 4 December 2018

"Needs help" ... what, a benison from Brussels?  Or perhaps a batallion from the Bundeswehr? (if there are any left).  For Europe's sake, eh?  


**A perfect exemplar of Drew's 8th law of politics, BTW: a narrow victory is more significant than a landslide, which betokens little more than that everyone knew what the result was going to be and piled in behind the obvious winner.   

Wednesday 5 December 2018

May V Brown - Faceoff

OK, I really can't believe that the UK could ever have a worse Prime Minister than Gordon Brown. However, has this moment now been reached?

For a quick comparison:

Image result for gordon brown smile

1) Led UK to worst financial crisis in 100 years - £200 billion cost to the economy
2) Sold UK Gold reserves at an all time low - baking in a 'loss' of around £20 billion, double the cost of the ERM debacle
3) Signed Lisbon treaty in a cupboard with no referendum or acknowledgement
4) Enabled Tony Blair to ratchet up a high spend low tax economy
5) Plotted for years to become PM, only to lose election very badly when finally fought
6) Raised taxes spitefully on the day he left office to 50%

Image result for May prime minister smiling

1) Plotted for years to become Prime Minster, only to very nearly lose and election she should have comfortably won against the worst ever opposition leader
2) Campaigned for Br, exit then led the most pathetic negotiation in history
3) Made political enemies even of her best friends like Damian Green
4) Did a deal with DUP to stay in Government that resulted in Government becoming impossible
5) Anti-Immigration stance throughout her career has impacted on culture of the Country
6) Completely lost control of Parliament resulting in no Governance at all

I wrote this out live, because I really thought she was awful, then recalled what Brown did and she has a long way to go yet. Not even on the same page as it happens. Still, hard to think of any other Prime Minister who has been less effective in the last 40 years other than Brown. Major looks competent by comparison.

Tuesday 4 December 2018

Meanwhile, on the Streets of Paris ...

High visibility indeed
The French are free with the cobblestones and the CS gas, as I know to my cost - this from two years ago, when it was Hollande in the merde.   The excellent Musée Carnavalet, the history-of-Paris museum (temporarily closed right now) conveys nicely how there was a mini revolution staged in pretty much every decade of the 19th century.

Is this one a bit different?  Most commentators seem to think so.  These gilets jaunes have no obvious leadership or explicit demands - even of the Trotskyite 'impossibilist' kind like a two-day working week, three months of paid holiday and retirement at 45, per the usual French nonsense.  Instead, it would appear to be a distinctively Gallic version of the 'neither Left nor Right', broadly incoherent general dissatisfaction with the status quo that many identified in the Brexit referendum.  We read that in Paris there is no leadership, and that people putting themselves forward as representatives are liable to be attacked (physically) for doing so.  Pretty much anarchy, then.

Back in that 2016 episode I wrote this: 
In the red corner, a mob known as Nuit Debout, who ... are probably what Momentum would like to be when they grow a pair - so we may see some copycat action in due course
And that's the point for us here in Blighty.  How long before someone is mass-purchasing the hi-vis and it all kicks off here?  And who will it be?  

We may be sure Momentum are strategising like hell on this.  What if we start something - and then we find it's out of our control?  Or hijacked by the Tommy Robinson brigade?  But if we don't start it ourselves, it'll just happen anyway ... Maybe it will dish Corbyn ... Gotta do something to capitalise ... 

Back at the time of our own incoherent rioting, the criminal-carnival events of the summer of 2011, one of our esteemed BTL commenters posted (anonymously) that the disenchanted, under-employed generation of graduates that was festering in its bedsits and parental back-bedrooms would provide the 'officer class' that would make the next round of civil unrest an altogether more terrifying affair.  Momentum is a related phenomenon.  Potential trigger events are not difficult to envisage.  Crunch-time for UK 'democratic' politicians may be coming soon: what will they do?  

Maybe we will be glad that Macron gets to face it first.  What will he do?

UPDATE:  just took a look at Momentum's www and twitter - no mention of France.  They really haven't come up with a Line on this one yet.

Monday 3 December 2018

Legal Games with Labour, but a pointer nonetheless

As always, lawyers love their legal games and in their own minds raise these to the level that they are critical to the world. Lawyers, loving law and themselves in equal measure, are unremitting on this matter.

There is a classic case in point on this at work today. Keir Starmer, the much decorated champagne socialist who is somehow Jeremy's Corbyn's Shadow Brexit Secretary, despite being one the leading remainiacs in the Country, is busy at work.

He has decided it is a matter of national importance that the Government show their full legal advice around May's Brexit deal. He hopes of course (though no doubt he has seen it through internal leaks already), that it will hole the deal more firmly below the waterline. Of course, he argues in flamboyant leqalese about quite how important this, his ever eager and frankly very stupid deputy, Barry Gardiner has weighed in to say this in fact is a constitutional crisis in more simplistic terms.

Of couse, Government's do not either routinely or ever publish their legal advice. This is a concept known as legal privilege which is at the core of our legal system. It is to protect both clients and lawyers from having private paid for advice splashed all over the papers. As a case in point, the legal advice for the Gulf War - so contentious in Parliament and subject to a vote - was never published, not even a summary. Read here in the Spectator from a year or two later, how the lawyers loved this game of bigging-up their own importance when, as ever, they had made no difference in the real world.

So today the confected outrage is being created to no end. Even if the Government release the advice (which, being legal advice will be a lot of on the one hand this on the other hand that...lawyers not the most decisive of creatures in general), it wont change a single vote in Parliament which is focused on a greater game. Probably quite good politics though to continue the current malaise of May.

The big news for me is it looks like the Remainiacs have got at Corbyn who is going to go with a second referendum - leaving the EU is going to take a back seat for the Corybnista's to seizing power and they can smell all those lovely, angry remain voters willing to come home. Again, those in the Tory ERG should think hard about their numbers in Parliament when Labour are moving so firmly against Brexit. 30 vs 625 - terrible optics for them.

Saturday 1 December 2018

George Bush Snr: The Departing of a Wise President

George Bush Snr, 41st President, was a man who truly knew how to conduct both himself and the affairs of state.  From a solid war record in WW2 (unlike the confected Kennedy account) he clearly formed some suitably mature views on how the military should operate in a western democracy - a rather important qualification for an elected president of the world's most powerful nation - and his oversight of the First Gulf War 1990-91 was a perfect exemplar. 

First, the politicians should set the goals and, most critically, the constraints.  Then, they must leave the military to get on with it.  (Not without ongoing review and supervision, obviously - devising grand strategy is an interative process between soldiers and state.  Not least, the military perennially need to ask for more resources.)  In particular, when the fighting starts, the politicians step right back from the action, notwithstanding the agonising temptation to call the shots blow-by-blow.

Even back in the 60's, telecommunications were good enough for Lyndon Johnson to interfere daily from his desk in Vietnam.  By 1990, they were very much better.  (We were able, for example, to give near real-time notice of Scud launches and a fairly accurate prediction of their ballistic trajectory, which appeared immediately on Scud-alert screens anywhere in the world.  We could then watch them landing at their predicted point of impact.  All from the comfort of a desk.)  Just think of the scope that gave for minute-by-minute meddling: the sheer temptation.

But Bush knew better, and left the military to it.  (By the way, so did John Major.  I can't speak for what Thatcher would have done had she remained in power - someone who saw her in action during the Falklands may be able to take a guess.  But I didn't: and the comms were very much better by 1990, so the temptations were greater.)  

And when the coalition forces stormed through Kuwait and reached the prescribed stop-lines ... they stopped, despite it being a rout.

We can argue forever what would have happened if the remnants of the Republican Guard had been pursued to Baghdad.  For what it's worth, Schwartzkopf's main regret was not that hot pursuit wasn't allowed: he absolutely respected the political decision.  He just wished he'd had the imagination to force Saddam to surrender in person.

Farewell George HW Bush.  One of the very last and best of the Great Generation.