Thursday 28 February 2019

Univeristy Fees - A good example of how to remove subsidies and improve outcomes

So, many moons ago now, Labour introduced University fees. This is one of those policies, which a bit like a pre-cursor to Brexit, forever split the electorate.

Those who came before fees became forever privileged and according to the leftist notice of 'privilege' are now not allowed to comment on the plight of those who went to Uni post fees.

However, the Uni's themselves have taken all sort of benefits out of fees. For one, they have decided to pay their own executives loads of money - having suddenly become pseudo-capitalists!

Also, they have raised fees and expanded their offer to Foreign students who they are allowed to charge more. This has led to big increases in their numbers and financing. Being known around the world means the UK has 13 of the top 20 Universities globally. Given the state of our lower education, this is frankly amazing. The rest of Europe manages one university in the top 20.

So with the traditional British skills of marketing, we have really smashed this market. However, it does mean that although overall the numbers of UK students going to Uni is steady, it has stopped its headlong increase. Also at the top Uni's a higher percentage of places are going to foreign students over UK students. But, thanks to fees, lots more UK potential domestic students are going to Continental and US Uni as they have to pay fees anyway - there are fewer stats on this, but it feels to me like this maybe compensating in a small way for the extra Foreign students.

Politically, Uni fees remain toxic, given they created a defined generational divide. It literally killed the Lib Dems as a political force, if not for a generation at least. Magic Grandpa Corbyn got a lot of votes in 2017 but deciding a wand waving exercise to remove fees would be a good thing to do - costings for this not applied. The Tories try to ignore something that was likely a good idea that they can forever blame on New Labour. But nobody will ever defend the fees, which is why I say it is kind of like Brexit - no one in Parliament will defend remain, but they all want it!

Overall increasing the money going into the Higher Education sector has seen it build a world-leading service and also start to exploit the capitalist benefits of the extra money - who knew those ivory tower lefties would turn out to be champagne socialists eh! It has led to more opportunity for the whole world to come to the UK with intangible benefits for our long-term global trading network. But it has not really helped the disadvantaged UK students and has acted as to enmesh our young in debt in a way previous generations had escaped. Some say it is a graduate tax, it is nothing of the sort - reducing a state subsidy can never be alikened to a tax. And of course, by reducing the subsidy and allowing/forcing private money into the sector the overall picture has improved.

No wonder the BBC don't like reporting on this!

Tuesday 26 February 2019

The ides of March come early for Brexit

"Et Tu, Jeremy?"

And so, as long predicted by myself, Parliament is rapidly waking up to its true purpose. To end the horrid charade of Brexit once and for all.

As yet, there are only still the quiet whispers of betrayl. Brexit stands on the statute book as Caesar once stood in the senate. Proud, Loud and maybe a little naïve.

But the enemies gather, Jeremy Corbyn, a true friend to Brexit, has been forced the by disintegration of his party, into being bounced by the evil Keir Starmer (he has conspired with the enemy throughout the negotiations) into the position of seeking both a 2nd referendum and to campaign for remain in that referendum.

With Labour gone, only the ERG stand with the DUP in Parliament in favour of any sort of Brexit. Between them they have maybe 100 votes versus 450 or more.

So it is over. Parliament will vote against no deal, and/or vote for an extension lasting years or more and the whole process will be over. People are bored and the momentum behind leave will be left as a dangerous sore in UK politics. It seems quite likely Farage's party will rise up in the polls for the disaffected but to what end who knows as yet?

May will be happy, she has one last chance to get the ERG to vote for the Withdrawal Agreement and failing that she can sail off on the good ship remain, saying she did her best and the 'nutters' were intransigent.

If I were in the ERG I would vote for the Withdrawal Agreement, for its floors it does still meets the test of being a Brexit and moves the UK off the path of further EU integration. However, the bellicose and frankly stupid ERG members I think will opt for the happier ideological place of feeling betrayed by the murderer's of Brexit and blaming others for their own failure, forever. Weirdly they may revel in their own 'stab in the back' narrative, which they think will bring solace rather than danger.

Of course, I say Brexit is doomed, but then so riven too will be the body politic in the UK for a generation or more. Only a few weeks now until the new dawn, that will include, rightly, the end of the Tory party and from a perspective of the business position of the UK, the end of any party that supports capitalism having a chance of power for generations. There is no way the Tories can survive calling referendum and then cancelling Brexit - they are done. May has destroyed them. None of their replacements will be free market in principle, all will be either socialist or nationalist in beliefs. That is a big shame for the long-term future of the Country, as socialism will mean a more structured and higher tax economy that will reduce our dynamism.

 Perhaps in decades to come, poor economic performance will lead to the resurgence of free market beliefs, but looking to the EU and the US, this feels unlikely to be the actual future.

Monday 25 February 2019

European Can-Kicking Championships

If, as reported, Selmayr's cunning plan is to lure May into a 21-month (sic) delay to our leaving date, he really is going for the can-kicking title in a big way.**  He probably knows his girl - they all do, after her craven capitulation on Hinkley Point in the summer of '16.  A no-lose for him:  either he frightens the ERG into the lobbies for the 'deal' currently on the table, or sets up a protracted and surely lethal period of utter UK political meltdown, which has been the aim of his malice all along.

Overall, the hyper-ventilation in every corner of the Westminster bubble (if you see what I mean) is neither more nor less than you'd expect at the eleventh hour.  I wonder if any Cabinet ministers really have the balls to resign before the 29th?  The Tories, after all, are still the party of government - who want to cast themselves into the darkness when there is potentially a new leader within months?  Amber Rudd, though, may be a special case: (a) her seat is anything but safe, so it's desperation stakes with her; and (b) Kev has a theory she's part of May's own "cunning plan" (see BTL at the weekend).

Over the months, several of you have punted for the can-kick being part of the March 2019 'end-game'.  I'm guessing that 21 months is a bit more creative than anyone had in mind.  Technical question:  can May and Selmayr (Sell-May-er?) deliver the delay themselves, bilaterally, by fiat on either side?  If they can, it makes it all the more likely.

ND  (a name, not a slogan)
** we had earlier awarded this to Merkel for her 85-year effort on climate change

Thursday 21 February 2019

Don't take away my Breakaway

Image result for en marche
Carrying on from Nick's post about the new groupings and old splits. The time for change. Incumbent parties run out of steam. Oppositions regroup and reform. The Darwin inevitability of it all indicates that we are probably slightly overdue for one of the UK's Labour government phases.

All the historical indicators point to it. And if it was anyone but Corbyn in charge, it would be a racing certainty. 

Sadly for Labour, Corbyn's popularity, though extremely wide and deep, does not extend much to non-labour voters. Polling indicates that those who voted for him in 2017 won't all vote for him again. And that those who didn't vote for him in 2017, still won't. Labour are a long, long, long way away from the number of seats they need to form a majority. With no signs they will get anywhere near the number they need to rule in their own right.

As Mr Drew pointed out, and I have before, that isn't the handicap it should be. The opposition to the Tories, is everyone else, bar the DUP. So a rainbow coalition of the left is quite possible. SNP and Labour might hate each other more than Corbynites and Blairites at the local level, but at national level, with Uncle Jez gladly offering a second referendum with no restrictions, they can find common ground. 
More worryingly, and I agree quite likely, is Sinn Fein coming out of their self imposed exile to secure the same referendum on a united Ireland. Corbyn is the only way they will get it.

So, despite the many negatives of a Corbyn led labour. The childish economics. The student politics. Antisemitism and low level hatred for all unbelievers, the man could still win.

However, it does appear that although the media is currently focused on how the latest peel off MPs effect Mrs May and her woeful majority. Yet the real damage has been done to Corbyn. As he has lost guaranteed seats at a no confidence vote. 
The Tigers have said they could never support Jeremy the jew hater. So they will not assist him in any way. While May has only lost MPs who's support and votes she actually lost a while ago.

One of the biggest advantages going forward to the next election, which cannot be very far away now, is that the two biggest negatives for the Tories should no longer be in play.

Brexit will be over. 
May will be gone.

All the incredible economic data, unemployment figures, jobs created, taxes raised, youths in work and so on, added to record NHS spending and improved NHS figures, no military conflicts and falling migration figures, should come into play. These amazing metrics are all but ignored in the Brexit hysteria.  But in previous elections they would almost certainly have guaranteed a decent majority.Even the violent crime increases can be part spun-blamed on an ineffectual Labour mayor.

If the Tories were bold enough to do what they should have done in 2016, and ensure a bold, visionary, charismatic leader takes the job on, they will have a very good chance of seeing off the red hordes for yet another, unlikely win.

The Liberal Democrats, who should have ditched their ineffective and tainted leader once his remarkable ability to repel the 16 million Remainers became clear.  If they had, and had had a Macron like leader, these Blairite-Heathite centralists would be flocking to them, giving the party a very good number of MPs. More than nuisance. A power sharing amount.

Instead, at the next election,who knows who will be Libby leader? Or Tigger leader? Or what they will be campaigning for? Apart from rejoin.

Labour have a terrible dilemma. They will have alienated their natural pro-EU supporters, whilst not attracting any pro-free stuff, above the numbers they had before. They will still have Mr Toxic, or possibly Mr Toxic's number tow, in charge. All the negatives will still be there. Magnified more than before when he was sen as an outside bet not worthy of scrutiny. And Labour will have their metro-labour mob all getting airtime to claim they are the REAL labour party of sensible, liberal, socially-progressive metro types.

And the Tories are unlikely to re-fight the disastrous battle of 2017. Those horror lessons will have been learned. Even if the more modern ones, social media and youth vote, haven't been acted upon, the easier ones, such as don't promise to take away people's homes and give them to fox hunters, while raising taxes so those without homes don't need to pay, won't be in play.

A new leader, assuming May's baby step leave didn't result in too much dislocation or long term disruption can completely ignore the past. They will be uniquely placed in not looking backwards towards rejoining or at least sucking on to the breast of the European Union. The new leader can point to all the opportunities ahead. Just waffling won't be enough. The leader will need a deal. Will need a success. A new factory. New bank. Slashed personal taxes or VAT cut could do it. 
A vision of hope. Not in a 'hope this isn't a disaster like usual,' May way. But in a "We CAN do better. We WILL do better! Boris sort of way." 

A bit of vision will be required. A bit of risk taking. A bit of a Britain First attitude! For a sodding change.

 Image result for yes we can

Unlike Labour, actual Tory voters were more inclined to leave, than remain. The message that 'you made the right decision. I won't let you down,' should resonate enough to keep them.
Whoever the leader is, assuming they are from the actual right side of the party, they also won't have to worry so much about the super wets, who will be with the Tiggers. So far the three who have gone have seats that should return a proper Tory at the next go.

So, with a bit of luck and a lot of care, and if the civil war could be swift, the Tories actually look best placed of all the political parties to take advantage of the next stage of the election cycle. Assuming they can find that charismatic, personable, and credible leader. And that they can get Brexit done. The disruption and chaos of Brexit over with, and new leader in, all before the next recession hits and turns all those positive numbers to negatives.

They don't have very long.

Wednesday 20 February 2019

The Swirling Realignment of British Politics

The 'Independent Group' - a small splinter of plywood, or the first jolt of tectonic shift?  The Brexit Party (Co Ltd) - a single-issue vanity project, or the model for parties of the 2020's?  The 'UK Youth Climate Coalition' - an NGO ramp, or a nascent force for change?  The only thing we may be sure of is that none of these new developments will go short of cash: that's the easy bit.

Yes, as we all knew, 2019 is going to be a year for the political connoisseur.  Which politician, and/or which organisation, will be both sharp and flexible enough to make anything from these swirling pieces of jigsaw?  Can bricks be made from the straws-in-the-wind?  Let's look at the existing organisations, all of which look leaden-footed right now, but all of which have resources and incentives to attempt to capitalise on the chaos.

1.  Celtic Fringe parties (primarily SNP, DUP, Sinn Fein).  All essentially single-issue and opportunistic.  Probably don't need to change in order to survive in their current state, even if that's a rather passive objective.  SNP will need to weather the Salmond storm (and hence will tend to wind their necks in a bit more than they otherwise would); but it's not clear that Labour are in any position to roll them back out of Westminster at the next GE.  One comes across suggestions of a 'unilateral inde-referendum', which couldn't be ruled out.  Mostly, though, with the Salmond of Damocles over their heads, it'll be watch-and-wait.**

For many months I have puzzled over Sinn Fein's quiescence; and it's nearly two years since I last got a proper political briefing in a Dublin pub.  My inclination is to assume that, as an organisation with a clear goal and the ability to play a long game, they are just waiting for the chance to pluck the juicy prize when the bough bends sufficiently for them to reach up and take it.  (To this end, BTW, they must surely be willing ultimately to take up those Westminster seats that everyone assumes they'll forswear forever.)

2.  Libs.  Is it too glib to pass on without further comment?  In a world where genuine political novelty is in the air, they don't look like any sort of major beneficiary, even if someone might someday casually enquire as to the price of their rather small block-vote.  (We all know that answer: PR.)

3.  Greens.   Must rather like the look of the 'UK Youth Climate Coalition', in much the same way as a bunch of OAPs like the look of kids playing mixed-sex touch rugby in the park.  Everyone hopes to harness da yoof (particularly if they know how to set up a good website) but only Momentum shows any signs of weaponising it so far (see below).

4.  Labour.  Do any C@W readers have an insider's insight here?  My secondhand info is that the split within Labour between Corbyn-worshippers and the rest runs bitter and deep to a degree only lefties really understand.  Still, we must assume the Official Labour Party will keep it together enough to take the field at the next GE.  We must also assume that, buoyed by the (relative) success of the student-loan bribe in 2017, they will be offering free unicorns to every child; and, most specifcally, a voting age of 16 - perhaps arguing to 18-19-20's that they'll get much more of what they want if they vote for reinforcements from even younger teens next time.  (Monbiot shows here how they'll easily dress this up.)  

And, as noted before, Momentum (that's Momentum Co Ltd, actually and technically another middle-age corporate vehicle) have already gone a way down this youth road, with moderate success.  The key here is whether Disillusioned-with-Jeremy of Bedsit, England can keep the faith for another two whole years.  Maybe.  Maybe not.

Anyhow, the near term future for Labour looks to me like More Of The Same.  Making no headway in Scotland.  Worried about northern Brexit towns.  Quite deeply exhausted by internal warfare - too much so to mount any kind of genuine revival or metamorphosis.   (The summer of antisemitism really did take a toll, as far as I can tell.)  Corbyn, and particularly McDonnell, starting to look their age, whilst still kidding themselves they can play a waiting game.**  Starmer the only vestige of manifest leadership (or maybe Watson?), even if Cooper is keeping plenty of powder dry.  Which brings us to ...

5. The Wicked Tories.  I suppose we must reckon that the next few days might bring about a few desertions...  [OVERTAKEN BY EVENTS]   And it's hard to overlook the sheer number of C@W BTL comments that read "I'll never vote for those bastards ever again, ever".   And perhaps the new Farage vanity-vehicle is really attractive enough to adopt the mantle over the next two years.  (Though if that's the plan, they might have come up with a better party name.)

That said:  the Tories are UK history's great survivors.  Loyalty, inertia, lassitude; as you will.  But it's not called Conservative for nothing (and has there every been a bogeyman quite like Corbyn?)  Of course, it also speaks to More of The Same too, even more resoundingly than with Labour.  There can't be an accommodation with Farage, at least until after the next GE.  No mighty leaders-in-waiting have set up camp within the party, even if a romantic sort of Boris-camp has subsisted for years and we can all see the other petty displays of unlimited ambition in little side-booths all across Westminster.  

So - there are some jigsaw pieces to push mournfully around the table.  How many more substantive elements will complete the picture at the time of the next GE?

** Sinn Fein might have some excuse for watch-and-wait; but in the case of both the SNP and Labour, I reckon they are kidding themselves as to the effectiveness of their would-be opportunism.  They all dream of being Wellington at Salamanca; but in reality it's more like idleness and inability to make the political weather. 

Monday 18 February 2019

When a political split is not a political split...

So Chuka Umunna and his merry band have finally done what they have been threatening for a few years and left the Labour party.

The thing is, what will this change and do they really mean it?

I think there are some clear tells here that this is a cosmetic split, for Westminster Theatre only. here is why:

1) No By-Elections. So they are happy to try as a group to limp on until the next election without asking the people. All principled people who quit then go for a by-election, it smacks of a lack of principle or that re-joining Labour is really on the cards in a few months.

2) Crap Name - The Independent Group. You could not stand on this anyway in an election, so either they think some Tories are going to join them or else they are never planning to stand for an election.

3) Policy - Their sad little 'ideals' leaflet is bereft of anything meaningful apart from anti-semitism as a thing to stop. Will they vote with the Tories at all? No. So in practical effect it is a split that will result in no change, I would accept there is a chance they will vote giant Brexit if Labour agree to a May compromise at the last minute, that may then be 'a thing.'

So all in all, a real non-event, I guess there is a small chance some loony Tories who are also headed for de-selection like Sarah Woolaston and Nick Boles, decide to throw their lot in, as they are selfish enough to also not go for By-Elections.

In reality, there is a noise now, everyone except Bubble Westminster journalists will ignore them, and they will either re-join Labour or lose all their seats when we have an election. So, nothing to see here.

Meanwhile, Nigel Farage's new Brexit party has no MP's to bait Westminster but 100,000 members already...that seems a better bet to influence the next election than this rag-tag mob.

Thursday 14 February 2019

Capitalism Reshaped Post Brexit? An Important Insight

For the second time in as many weeks I find myself recommending a piece by Larry Elliott in the Graun. 
Ignore the free-trade evangelists. Brexit can create a fairer economy.  Free market economics created a world fit for multinationals. But we need less frictionless trade and more local control
OK, look past the silly headline (the wording in the link suggests it started life with a different title); he's onto something.  I don't have time just now for the full rejoinder-essay, but it's a great provocation with an important insight at the core.


Tuesday 12 February 2019

"Addicted to Subsidies"

Last Friday's Times contained an article entitled "Politics and business are addicted to bungs".  It was a propos of the 'revelations' about government dealings with Nissan.   I remember writing back in 2016
Whatever the government did or didn't do for Nissan, there'll be many a dark deed done on the road to a successful escape from the clutches of the Commission.
Agriculture is the classic seat of this nonsense: they don't call it "subsidy farming" for nothing.  I know more about energy than I do about those industries; and of course there are energy sub-sectors that have become similarly hooked on the easy money, to baleful effect.  Nukes and renewables soak up formidable quantities of taxpayer and electricity-bill-payer dosh, and not just in the UK, of course.  Someties makes you wonder why anyone describes our economies as 'capitalist'.

Here's one amusing story, though, from my patch.  We've mentioned before the ridiculous Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, which first started to get its hopes up when it featured in the Pork Barrel section of the Tories' 2015 manifesto.  The lagoon-wallahs pitched hard for subsidies that would have run into the billions.  Mercifully, as the full sordid story started to emerge (grotesquely expensive, and very dodgy promoters) the government started to cool; and in June last year they pulled the plug

Well now, Glory Be!  - this would-be project declares it can go ahead without any public subsidy at all.  Just fancy that.  

As it happens, I'd say they are wrong: it's a design that many engineers reckon is fundamentally flawed, and they never got their environmental permits.  But hey, good luck to anyone who's willing to give their ideas a go using just the finances they can raise by themselves.  Why can't governments hold their nerves more often?


Monday 11 February 2019

Corbyn and May must do a deal

They really must, Corbyn who I very much doubt understands the letter he signed to the Prime Minster, has actually come quite a long way towards a deal. Of the 5 points he rises, May already agrees on around 3 of them and the only real sticking point is on membership of the customs union and single market.

Of course, by staying in those we are not really leaving the EU, but are in spirit - but as we all now know, the UK did that a long time ago - the last couple of years are the messy, legalistic end of the divorce, not the flame out of romance in the relationship.

However, there are top reasons for a May-Corbyn deal. After all, the Maybot's plans is over, her utterly disastrous negotiation strategy has moved the UK close to a very economic challenging hard Brexit. For this, she needs to go. Corbyn too has been useless as of course he is too thick to understand anything complex and would rather be on a march singing a song about world hunger or bee population decline.

But a May-Corbyn deal to avoid hard Brexit would of course be toxic for both. May for betraying her already ungrateful party and Corbyn because his loony cult followers never tire of saying no deal must ever be done with evil Tories - let alone a deal which sees their precious remain dream end.

So would a deal have a very good upside, the end of the useless leadership of both May and Corbyn and also a sub-optimal EU exit - but one will limited short-term economic downside and an Exit at least? 

Friday 8 February 2019

Tusk does show how broken UK politics has become

Donald Tusk's intemperate outburst on Wednesday is a good sign of the pressure being faced by the EU leaders - he said there should be a special place in hell for Leavers who led the UK referendum without a plan.

Behind the scenes plenty of member states are asking why the progress is so bad and if indeed it really is all the fault of the UK or whether Junker and Tusk are culpable. This pressure is telling.

However, it still does not make their comments right. Remoaners are loving the leave take down as it matches their internal narrative perfectly. Actually, it shows the huge fault line in UK politics. After all, whilst easy to say the Leavers did not have a plan, the point is they were never in charge, ever.

After the Referendum, a remain voting PM took over and decided the red lines- unicorn ones at that. Many of the leavers suggested a Canada+ deal, which the EU offered. But no, May went for a bespoke BINO deal that would be very hard to negotiate - the Leaver's slowly left her cabinet in protest and she ignored them. Right up until she los the key votes in Parliament that are pushing us to crazy no-deal position.

In Labour too, a cynical Corbyn has really had nothing to offer, no realistic plans or aid for the Government, just partisan noise. He has fended off the majority in his own party as we all know he both wants Brexit and the Tories to be blamed for it. This strategy may yet work, but the politics of it is awful, it demonstrates in very large writing that he is the very opposite of a Statesman.

So in the round, Tusk is right but for the wrong reasons. The Referendum caused a split between political parties and also between the populace and the government. May has failed so far to square this circle and of course the EU, true to their bureaucratic mantra have not tried to help. However, if a Leaver had been Prime Minister we would now, having suffered from a few doses of reality along the way, be moving to either Canada+ or an ever softer Brexit - after all Boris could have done that.

The huge mistake for the Country was making a Remainer PM - the time called out for decisiveness and instead we got wibble. Still, hopefully there is time for either Labour or the ERG to realise the only game in town is May's deal rather than the chaotic no-deal Brexit.

As much as I don't want another General Election, we desperately need to see the Country re-align around political parties who represent leave or remain rather than vote for the current two who are split which causes a fatal inertia.

Thursday 7 February 2019

A Laboured Trap for May?

Corbyn's oh-so-helpful list of 5-points that are required for Labour to support May has the smell of the candle about it - a plan carefully hatched in the back office with the aim of clawing back some of the ground he has lost over the past two weeks.  It has limited objectives:  after days of total Parliamentary irrelevance, and negative vibes coming from even the Corbyn faithful - get onto the front pages in a broadly constructive light.  Tripping up May would be a bonus.

Tone is easy: a halfway decent speechwriter can do 'constructive'.  But when it comes to actual content, it can't help falling into the classic Corbyn dilemma:  he definitely wants out, but metro-Labour definitely doesn't.  So he ends up with the feeblest of BRINO which (a) pisses everyone off; and (b) is the most blatant Trotskyite 'impossibilism'.  And it faces the distinct possibility of lingering no more than 24 hours in the fast-moving news pages.

In that brief window, could it trip May, though?  Here's how one intelligent, ever-hopeful lefty parses it, as optimistically as she can.
The case in favour of the five demands sees Theresa May’s chances of either replacing the backstop or securing a time-limit/unilateral withdrawal ability as non-existent. Corbyn’s letter quashes the notion that Labour wants to “frustrate” Brexit and applies further pressure on the government to implement a soft exit. This is the choice that the Prime Minister has faced since the start: leave with no deal and be responsible for chaos, or pivot to Labour’s plan. Both options seem unbelievable. Either way, the Tories split. That seems like a win-win ...
As we've seen a hundred times, May can scarcely engage with anyone without trying to agree with them; so whenever she's been equipped with a nicely-crafted piece of 'constructive ambiguity', her next partisan interlocutor demands she clarify it in the direction they want it to be understood.  And, ever-obedient to whomever is looking sternly at her at a given point in time, she complies (see her trip to NI for just the latest example).   So for her strategy team, the whole 'Corbyn Plan' issue is simply to sound equally constructive for a day or so, and then let fresh weekend headlines take over.  She's hardly going to supplicate, on the back of this, for the Art.50 delay that would be needed to negotiate it.  (Is she ??)

So it shouldn't trouble the scorers at all, still less "split the Tories".  As our Labour pundit is forced to conclude:  
... but Corbyn’s proposal – which looks a lot like the unhappy compromise of ‘Norway Plus’ – does leave many on the left, from Lexiteers to People’s Vote campaigners, wondering ‘what’s the point?’.

Answer: it's the best he's got, to maintain a respectable profile whilst biding his time for the only real strategy he and McDonnell have ever had, viz letting chaos reign and have it squarely blamed on the wicked Tories.  Part 2 of this plan, of course, it for them both to survive long enough to win the next GE.  Can they hang around until 2022, though?


Wednesday 6 February 2019

People's Vote - well that died quickly.

The People's Vote thing was always likely to be a flash in the plan, given the awful strategy decisions made about setting it up in the first place. A pure piece of astroturfing (i.e. it is 100% the remain campaign in terms of people, sponsorship and objectives), which unsuccessfully tried to con the media into thinking there was some demand for a second referendum.

3 key mistakes were made:

1 - They never even tried to agree on the new question to put to the public, thus the core of their message was donut shaped - how can you campaign for a referendum but not know what that will even be. This was very stupid and they had 2 years to think of something plausible.

2 - It was always about remaining, it was not about anything else, so as astoturfing goes, it was not very subliminal - not even as good as McDonald's sponsoring the Olympics, at least that has an ironic undertone to amuse us all.

3 - The main game of Leavers has been that the original vote was about striking against the elite. Nigel Farage's People's Army etc etc of 2016/16. The People's Vote campaign jumped the shark the minute it was seen to be (which it was) the vehicle for Tony Blair to espouse his view from the slopes of Davos. Really, from there on it is just more money down the drain.

So now the last of the donations are being spent on a very elitist twitter campaign to try and extend article 50 - with some tacked-on idea of a vote afterwards.

All I can say is I hope none of those involved wanted future careers in public relations or marketing.

Monday 4 February 2019

NIssan - what deal?

In 2016 there was a big story that ran for a few days about the Government doing a deal with Nissan. This deal supposedly made the next gen of Nissan cars guaranteed to be built in the UK.

Fast forward to 2019 and no Nissan have reneged on the 'deal'. In part no doubt as the UK Government promised a deal of sorts that has not as yet materialised.

However, all companies are blaming everything on Brexit - redundancies; Brexit, outsourcing; Brexit; slow revenues; Brexit. It is just way too tempting for the PR flacks to use a ready made 3rd party excuse which has the handy benefit of not being in the control of management.

Nissan, have bigger problens, diesel sales have gone off a cliff and their new X-trail in entering  a much more competitive X-over SUV market. So, perhaps running a smaller line in Japan is a better hedge, plus with their new EU trade deal, this does not cost Japan in terms of export taxes. After all of this, is the effect of Brexit on just in time delivery. So a second or third order issue.

Which to me neatly sums up the Brexit impact, Remoaners see its effect everywhere, leavers that Nissan is doing this only for non-Brexit reasons. Both are wrong, a no deal Brexit will be very bad fro manufacturing businesses in the short-term, even with some of the prep happening now.

So there is a Brexit effect, but perhaps it is not as serious as meaning the Queen will need to flee to the Colonies for the foreseeable.