Friday, 29 March 2019

Brexit Compo: RESULTS !


Your predictions, please, for the state of play on Brexit Day 29 March 2019:
1. who will be PM?
2. has there been a GE? If so, what headline outcome?
3. has a 2nd referendum happened? If happened - question? result?
4. in broad terms, on what basis is the UK / EU relationship set for the immediate 12 months following that date?
5. has Gove disappeared up his own fundament?
6. do the LibDems still exist?
7. tie-breaker: any other colourful details concerning British politics you care to append?
So now we know.  Sort of.  There were 16 valid entries, which is just a few more varieties than MPs voted on the other night.  Most people inevitably got 1, 2 & 3 correct; though the left-field players were anon#3, Hopper, CU and anon#4 who went for Corbs (and had thus also given the GE & result wrongly, too); Jan (Jacobus) and GridBot (Sadiq, & thus GE wrong also).  But a special mention to Andrew, who said "TM will announce resignation on 29/3/19", which is pretty damned close.  Kev reckoned R2 would have been scheduled, but not yet taken place.

So 4 becomes the main battleground, but let's look first at 5&6.  BQ had Govey for Foreign Sec by now; DJK had him as ultra-loyal, and Bogotol as beavering away on enviro-stuff (both pretty close); AndrewZ had him as "head down" (is that the same as head-up-bum?).  Anon#4 reckoned him as facing Sadiq across the Despatch Box as Tory leader; and I had him as "positioning" (is that the same as ...?)   I also had Cable as having gone by now, which I'd like to think is almost right ...  Otherwise the Libs didn't feature much - which is only fair and proportionate.

I direct y'all to the original post for the tie-breaker contributions

Now for 4.  We had 2 x Hard Brexit (Jan, anon#3); 4 x Remain (with more or less bitterness expressed - Kev, CU, GridBot and anon#4) and DJK with "indistinguishable from today";  7 x leaving, or leaving-ish (BQ, Charlie, AndrewZ, Andrew, ND, Bogotol; and Hopper saying "trade war" which I take to be in the Leaving camp).  Two got closest: anon-newbie with "status quo - can kicked down the road" and TBHall with extension of A50.

As for today's rider, we have the following: DJK closest on margin (70) with Jan runner-up at 40.  And Radders had a good stab at the absolutes: 299 plays 335.  CU reckons everything's coming his way, and he's the proprietor ...

So - with the one special mention for Andrew, and a couple of other creditable near-misses, in the spirit of the Indicative Votes I declare ... nobody wins!  Ain't that a fact.

But (assuming we are all spared, as they say) - I'll buy anyone a drink at the next C@W gathering.   That's a solemn & binding manifesto promise ...

ND

Brexit Compo Revisited

Well here we are on Brexit Day, commmemorative coins minted, *ahem*; bunting and Union Flags (*ahem ahem*) being flown all over the land. Back in November with the WA hot off the press we set a compo, the questions being as follows:
Your predictions, please, for the state of play on Brexit Day 29 March 2019:
1. who will be PM?
2. has there been a GE? If so, what headline outcome?
3. has a 2nd referendum happened? If happened - question? result?
4. in broad terms, on what basis is the UK / EU relationship set for the immediate 12 months following that date?
5. has Gove disappeared up his own fundament?
6. do the LibDems still exist?
7. tie-breaker: any other colourful details concerning British politics you care to append?
But now we must wait for another roll of the die!  Talk about brinkmanship.  So - for the next few hours the compo is re-opened.  Any of the 16 stalwart playahs who submitted valid entries back then, plus anyone else who'd care to join in, can add a final rider - what'll be the numbers in today's Parliamentary vote??

We'll close the book at 2pm.

ND  

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Indicative Votes - Comedy Gold

Oh can Brexit entertain. I mean it is quite sad overall, but as it has developed into farce at least one is able to enjoy the show. It is like a live running of The Thick of It blended with Laurel and Hardy.


Today stands to provide some epic moments. Firstly, Bercow surely, as noted by my very insightful co-authors ND and BQ (I am sucking up to you both as I am away again next week...), Bercow will not be able to resist picking only version of remain for the vote - he might throw in No Deal as a bone to be knawed on by the Remain Parliament and to make them feel better about some more top-draw virtue signalling.


Then, very likely, May's Deal will not be one of the top 3 options. The top 3 options on votes are likely to be Corbyn's carbuncle of Customs Union and Single Market membership, Remain and Revoke. What other point is there to this whole charade if not to pick a non-Brexit option?


On the back of this, we will get the comedy of May finally quitting in disgrace as she can't pass her Deal - which is sweetly ironic because it comes just as the point where she has bullied the ERG into submission but, alas, not the DUP who have it seems fled to the Remain side at the finish line, so it can't pass. There the DUP can sit, somehow blaming the Tories for the mess they have caused.


From here the entertainment gets better. A new Tory remain leader will now have to delay Brexit by a bit more and ask for a much softer deal, which hardly means leaving the EU at all. When the Tories then finish their election in a few weeks, a hard leaver will be in situ, but stuck with a new deal that involves not leaving very much. Hubris indeed. With the DUP no longer trusted due to their betrayal, a general election in 2019 becomes inevitable.


On the Labour side, the penny has finally dropped that they are not voting to remain, so the anguish of the voters will also be felt. However, a soft remain is a victory of sorts to be claimed and the far-left are very good at claiming victory when there has been none. So, for real laughs, we may well end up with Jeremy Corbyn as PM in 2019.


To top it off the banning or porn and memes on the internet by the EU just at the point when they are about to crush the UK rebellion is also fabulous timing. It echoes the 2016 migrant crisis for unfortunate highlighting of the terrible aspects of the EU at just the wrong moment and so losing the referendum in the first place. Just as they win, the goodwill is squandered.


Now none of this may happen, but the bizarre scenario above seems the most likely path of events from here.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Coal: Guardian Speak With Forked Tongue (again)

Needless to say, the lower headline, 'coal on the way out', applies to the USA.  It would apply to most of Europe, too.  But there it stops.  It's the top item that matters, of course, if anyone's counting.  Which I'm not sure they are.


By the way, although da kidz may not wish to hear this during their school strikes, one of the 'ways they could save the planet' (bottom right) would be to stop online computer gaming.  That's now using so much energy globally, special data centres are being built for it, similar to bitcoin mining.  (And as for FB etc ...)

ND

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Brexit Never Dies

Let's see if bringing back the exact same post, after a historic defeat at the hands of Youtube and Red Bull, has any greater success.

007 tries to defeat the foreign agents, traitors and world domination types.

With {even more} limited success.

 

Can't test this on blogger.
Might be just another blank post.

Saturday, 23 March 2019

BTL Fury May Not Be Representative

While Bill fixes his vid ...
 
One of the most important characters in literature, as in life, is the Common Man in Robert Bolt's Man For All Seasons.  This cheerful chap is not without sympathy for the 'principled' folk he encounters, but for himself steers carefully and instinctively away from controversy: and is certainly not willing to go to the stake for anyone or anything - even while hundreds of his countryman quite literally are.  We know, of course, that the Vicar of Bray hastily accommodates himself to whatsoever king shall reign (along with a high percentage of MPs); but the common man, in his own pedestrian way, is not so very far behind him.

In short: people prepared to hold to a doctrinaire position (that they may seemingly espouse most fervently) through thick and thin are very few and far between.  (How many of those outspoken libertarians who vowed the public smoking ban would never stick, have ever broken the new laws themselves?)  Human society probably depends for its cohesion on this trait.

I say it at the risk of losing a few virtual friends hereabouts because it's hard not to notice the fairly fervent tenor of a lot of BTL comments, here and elsewhere, that run approximately thus:  I will never, ever, vote for the Tories again, ever.  That's never.  D'y'hear me?    

Yes, we do, loud and clear.  But pause for just a moment's empirical input, friends.  Yesterday evening I attended the AGM of my local Conservative party.  (Why do you do that, Drew?  Because I'm conservative - clue's in the name.)  It was packed.  There was no rancour.  There was over an hour's Q&A afterwards, to the MP, the GLAM, the senior party functionaries etc.  Brexit was not in any way off limits.  The room was 99% for Leave (even though before R1 we were split 60:40), though individual nuances and caveats were many and varied.  I say again: there was no rancour.  Some rueful laughter at the thought of potentially needing to run a euro election, or even a GE, in the coming weeks.  But mostly concerned with the ordinary business of canvassing and signing up new members.

Because - and here's the thing - our local Party membership has gone up by about 30% over the past 12 months.

Just some empirical input ...

ND

Friday, 22 March 2019

The Sly Who Loathed Me

007 tries to defeat the foreign agents, traitors and world domination types.

With limited success.


The Guardian: Oh, So Cruel

This callous juxtaposition is surely going a bit too far ...



 
She's trying her best!

ND

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Illuminated by Flashes of Artillery

As the inevitable constitutional crisis starts to develop in earnest and battle is joined, several intriguing possibilities emerge:  seen as it were in silhouette, against the backdrop of flashes of artillery as the night-attack commences.  Who knows what the details will be when sun rises over the battlefield? 
  • Tusk seems to be saying there will only be an extension if Parliament has first passed May's Deal.  Not sure if he has the authority to pronounce on that: but it'd be a pretty remarkable result for Selmayr/May (and would surely pass Bercow's test - if indeed that needs doing).  Almost as if there is some choreography ...
  • Could the EC really add further conditions to an extension?  Well of course they could in terms of their limitless willingness to play silly-buggers: but in practical terms if they chuck in too much by way of conditions (e.g. R2) they can't be at all sure what the response / outcome will be 
  • There is only one 'unilateral' action** left for anyone on the UK side to take: revocation of A50.  Contriving a vote on this must be seriously attractive for Bercow in his bid for posterity, and I guess it will happen in the remaining days before 29th March (pardon the pun)   
  • Knackered old Corbyn again pipes up with his plea for a GE.  I'd previously assumed there was no realistic chance of that.  But seeing Grieve in full spate yesterday (and what a piece of work he is) I start to think the latter might actually prefer Corbyn-as-PM to Brexit, and that a No Confidence vote might see some Tories on that side.  (Does Grieve know that Corbyn recently said he'd vote for Brexit + Customs Union?)  The thing is, I reckon there would be even more Labour MPs who see things the other way around
  • Just what is the state of readiness for a 29th March crashout?  On the UK side it is culpably poorer than it should have been (for which I blame Hammond as much as May): but it ain't zero.  There is an interesting possibility of crashout followed by Not Very Much, Initially - a phoney war, if you will, similar to 1939.  Rather like how nothing much happened the day after R1 (aside from Cameron quitting, of course).  And NVMI might have the effect of making some important players think: hmm, this No Deal isn't as bad as it's been painted.   Of course, it wouldn't guarantee the ship stayed on an even keel indefinitely.  And it may not even be NVMI at all.  But if it were ... it might change the political dynamics quite a lot.    
But, hey: flashes of artillery at night are not an ideal form of illumination.  Especially when the senses are reeling from the noise of it all.

ND
_______________
** I feel I've read somewhere that even this comes with qualifications

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Priceless

"several leave-supporting MPs said they had been reassured that May’s intention was still to push ahead with Brexit as rapidly as possible and that she would only accept a longer extension if forced into it by Brussels" 
Errr, yes. The whole story of May as 'negotiator', from the 2016 Hinkley fiasco to the present time, and for so long as she's in place.  

Meanwhile, preparations for the hard border in Ireland are well underway in case we do indeed crash out with No Deal ...

ND

Monday, 18 March 2019

Meaningful Vote 3 - Vote Harder

Even as a political obsessive, I am pretty bored of Brexit. If the news comes on the gogglebox I quickly switch over as it is all too much to bear, the grinning, cretinous goons from Parliament making the same leave or remain case a full 3 years on from when the whole thing was decided by the people they are supposed to serve.


Ah, well. At least an end game of sorts is in sights? So for this week, this is my take on how things will go - hard to bet on how this will affect the market or betting companies though, so not much in it other than pride.


1) MV3 will happen, May has run out of road. I think she will even promise to quit on the back of it (what value a promise to a serial liar anyway?).


2) This won't be enough, it really does not need very many rebels on the Tory side and I think there will be more than 20, so plenty to make sure it just fails. 280 vs 340 or that kind of thing. Close but no Cigar.


3) For a brief minute, the rebel Leavers will think they have won the day, there will be small run on the pound and supermarkets will be happy to sell the gullible food supplies for the coming famine and pestilence.


4) Then parliament will see May get an extension for a few months from the EU, enough for MV4 and to prove once and for all that a) she is a big liar b) it really is her Brexit or no Brexit.


5) Now we will have another 3 months on interminably dull politics, rehearsing yet again the vote from 2016, whilst the rebels in the Tories and DUP decide whether it is May's Brexit or no Brexit.


So in many, frankly depressing ways, nothing will have changed, again. It will be nice to see who thinks differently in the comments. A pint for the winner in a pub near Parliament to be had...

Friday, 15 March 2019

Friday Light Relief: a Belly-Laugh from the SJWs

So over in the US of A, where they are sore afflicted by student lunacy of both the pitiful snowflake variety and the pernicious SJW kind, there is a 'liberal arts college' just north of New York City in Yonkers, NY called Sarah Lawrence College.  (I presume that good lady has long since spun herself clean out of her grave.)  Students are predominantly female (are we allowed to say that?), a legacy from the early days when it was founded as a women's college.  45 US States and 53 countries are represented in the student body.  From their website:
Its pedagogy ... a rigorous personalized approach to education, modeled on the tutorial system of Oxford University and the theories of educator and philosopher John Dewey. These educational strategies continue at Sarah Lawrence today ... Our students are men and women who share an enthusiasm for intellectual rigor
Right.   Well kindly don't blame Oxford for what's happening just now; and don't be too quick to claim 'intellectual rigor', either.  The SJWs there have assembled a long, long list of impossibilist (and deeply illiberal) demands in the name of the Diaspora Coalition, under the ringing slogan: If the College does not accept these demands, it will no longer be hailed as a progressive institution but instead remembered for its inability to truly embody its self-proclaimed progressive ideology and support all students against an international rising tide of white supremacy and fascism.
  • We demand a mandatory first-year orientation session about intellectual elitism and classism
  • We demand that the College offer classes that embody intersectionality, as defined by KimberlĂ© Williams Crenshaw, and address the racial diversity of the LGBTQ+ community instead of centering whiteness 
And so it goes on, for 94 pages.  Have a laugh and read them all in a quiet moment, it's awful and highly predictable stuff  -  or, just possibly, satire and spoof, but I doubt it.  Rigor?  Rigor mortis, more like.  But it is all made worthwhile by the following cri de coeur, nestling incongruously amongst the blood-curdling sub-Maoist drivel and rant:
All campus laundry rooms are to supply laundry detergent and softener on a consistent basis for all students, faculty and staff.
Hurrah!  Picture the scene: everyone is sitting cross-legged on the floor, taking it in turns to denounce President Cristle Collins Judd (sic) as a racist cisgender purveyor of actual harm to LGBTQI+'s of color everywhere ... when Angielou-Maybelle LaTrine declares for the fourteenth time:  err, sisters, what about the laundry detergent?  -  we should demand softener!  And it must be replenished every week.  And it must be Fragrant RosePetal fragrance.  Every time!  Not just whatever the drugstore has on discount.  Sisters?  Sisters ..?

OK honey, yeah, whatever.  We'll include the detergent, yeah ... yes, and the softener, OK?  Now, about those facist m***********s ...

ND  

Thursday, 14 March 2019

We Are Not Well Served


That's it, really.

ND

Things can always get worse





Overall, I am quite an optimist in life, went through a bit of a downward spell as a teenager, but since then have been more one for the sunny uplands than the everything's-going-to-hell memes.

However, I am also a strong realist, with a firm grip of what is actually happening as opposed to just hoping things might turn out to my liking. Life has a firm hand for those who only want to wish.

Image result for pile up car crash UK

As such, as bad as anything gets, short of death, situations can always deteriorate as well as improve - anyone who follows my share tipping advice will, sadly, know this in spades!


So here we are today, Brexit Day minus 15 with the Country in more of a state than it has managed to date. May clings on, against all reason, with a view to pushing her deal through. Labour are just about to split further today too as Corbyn dodges or maybe evens whips against a second referendum!


Just two weeks from a very messy Brexit day. Who would have thought? Even though our current Parliament is hopeless and full of venal fools, it is amazing we have ended up here....


and yet....


The pain might still be extended with some stupid 3 month article 50 extension


May might quit and instead of Brexit we get a General Election


Parliament somehow may usurp the Government and Revoke Article 50 (Hello Mr Bercow)


We might leave with no deal and all starve within minutes (copyright Remain)


So, enjoy the rain today, somehow things are going to get worse for a bit anyway!

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

A Dog That Isn't Barking

In amongst all the Parliamentary carnage (and how can a mere punter keep up?) ... we don't seem to hear much nowadays from Speaker Bercow.  Whereas before Xmas this yapping dog was thrusting himself upon the public as the Man Who Would Save The Kingdom.

I wonder if someone has marked his card for him?  Alternatively, since there may yet be some epic constitutional moments ahead, perhaps he's decided to store up a little powder and keep it dry.

Spurious Historical Precedent Alert:  the whole thing reminds me of Chamberlain in May 1940.   Everything, and most particularly his personal authority, crashing down all around.  Remember the crucial step he took: when he went to the Palace, he advised the King to call for Churchill.  It could as easily have been Halifax ...  Yes, scary days ahead.

Mrs May, who seems to have a carefully prepared speechlet for all contingencies, may well have dusted off Chamberlain's final address to the Commons: 
Everything that I have worked for, everything that I have hoped for, everything that I have believed in during my public life has crashed into ruins ...
ND

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Nohing has changed

And indeed, nothing will change today. Parliament will vote down everything and we will still be back at square one tomorrow, when Parliament will begin the revocation process in earnest.




Open Thread.

Monday, 11 March 2019

Interserve is the latest outsourcing crisis

The interaction of Government, Government bodies and private sector outsourcing is one of the most interesting conundrums of recent years.


In the scheme of Brexit, this is merely a small tick. However, in another world, the near collapsed of Interserve, following on from Carillion a few months ago and Melrose of a couple of years ago would be bigger news.


The are two main interesting bits to see, one is the cause and the second is the cure.


The cause in the main is public sector procurement being led by strict rules on pricing. Only the lowest bids will win and it is not in the interest of Local or National Government officials to change this. So what we get is the new entrant cost-price game. Experienced companies are forced to compete with crazy new entrants for another classic of this case, take the Ministry of Transport offering a contract to a Ferry company for Brexit that had no Ferries. New entrants without experience will often hugely underestimate costs and are financed to survive this, or at least think they can.


In the short term, this has held Government procurement costs down, however in the long-term it has really undermined the outsourcing businesses that play in this space. Many, in a desperate bid to survive, have bid too low for contracts. As a result, we are seeing a string of re-financings and lender taking hold of the businesses. The Government, if it wants to avoid constant crisis, needs to change its procurement guidance such that it assures providers will survive and can indeed thrive.


The second interesting piece is what Government lawyers have done to mitigate this unfolding disaster. They have implemented 'Living Wills' so that services and contracts (read sub-contractors) will continue even as the parent goes bust above in the corporate structure. This is great for the much needed services, but another huge red flag for the Listed Entities, as now there is even less incentive for the Government to help and debt holders can seize the company in what is effectively a Government backed Pre-Pack administration. So much for shareholders, Management will do just fine in the circumstances. So whilst this is clever for the Government, it will actually undermine the sector further. Interserve will no doubt follow this path come the decision day on Friday of this week.


My own take is there is no way the Public Sector can deliver on the huge range of services the Government needs at a reasonable cost, so Outsourcing can be a good strategy and deliver economies of scale not possible in the Local Government sector. Increasingly though what we are starting to see is 'Public-Private' vehicles where Public contracts are run on private lines by Public sector companies that try to achieve the balance between public ownership risk levels and private endeavour and enterprise. This will be a solution Lefty (read all) Governments will jump on and will work just fine until they discover the ease for which corruption and graft can be embedded within these hybrid vehicles.

Friday, 8 March 2019

Friday Fun - Testing the waters

Where does Brexit end from here?


No Deal Brexit March 29th

 
pollcode.com free polls

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

A Deal Too Rich for its Own Good

A couple of days ago our old friend Raedwald put up a short piece on the 1919 Treaty of Versailles:
It is said that if we fail to learn from the errors of history we are forced to repeat them. As I see Selmayr's smug Moonface smiling superciliously as Britain is forced to accept the Robbins-Selmayr Treaty, a cursed document every bit as humiliating for Britain as Versailles was for Germany, my only surprise is that he is not forcing May to sign it in a railway carriage in the forest of Compiegne.
... and another old chum Sackerson commented BTL here that "the EU may be clever tactically but so much so they risk disaster strategically".  These remarks put me in mind of a BBC televison programme last year on the Foreign Office, the (civil servant) head of which adressed his troops as follows (I paraphrase).  There are two events, he said, that I always think are highly germane to the present circumstances:  1815, and 1919.  On both occasions, a Treaty was thrashed out to settle a situation where a large European country was causing trouble for its neighbours.  The difference was that at Vienna, Metternich and his peers came up with a generous deal that more or less brought peace for a century.  By contrast, Versailles was so one-sided, it broke down in only two decades.  We should urge the EC to bear this in mind, he concluded, a tad tentatively.

My own anecdote (which has probably been told here before) is more prosaic.  I once worked for a company that, in a moment of commercial weakness, had been royally taken to the cleaners in a huge deal - billions -  by its counterparties who had mercilessly and indeed smugly exploited their advantage to a grotesque degree.  (It was so bad that when a new CEO was appointed in my firm and he read the contract for himself, he instigated a secret inquiry using private investigators to establish if the management responsible for the deal on our side had been taking backhanders from the opposition.  But they hadn't.)  We offered constructive renegotiation, but this was gloatingly spurned.

Needless to say, the deal didn't stick.  We had a massive incentive to pick it to pieces and, five years and one mega court case later, it was renegotiated.  We didn't emerge unscathed by any means - but the other side didn't, either.

Back at the level of international dealings, another case worth citing is the settlement at the end of the Boer War.  The UK was in a position to do pretty much whatever it chose - and it chose intelligent magnanimity, committing several millions (a lot of money in them days) to reconstruction in the Boer areas.  The result of this enlightened policy was striking.  The Afrikaaners, many of whom were a lot closer in temperament and background to Germany than to Britain, provided some of our most loyal and effective troops in the two World Wars that followed, not least of which was Field Marshal Jan Smuts, a Boer commander during the Second Boer War, and outstanding servant of the Empire thereafter.

Everyone hereabouts is probably agreed on the lessons to be learned.  Well, on this side of Channel, anyhow.  But the gloating is probably set to continue in Brussels.

ND 

Monday, 4 March 2019

Capitalism is empowering - so says the HMRC


A quick take as all the media speculation today is that Philip Hammond has a nice strong hand to play in the Spring budget statement.


Government spending, relatively, has been kept under control during austerity and finally, ten years after the crash, it seems as though the public finance are finally in a better state. Of course, we now have around 70% more debt as a nation (from one trillion to £1.7 trillion since 2010), but at least day to day things are looking better.


The main driver for this though is not growth. The UK economy has been OK, but not very inspiring for a number of years. Low productivity compounded with excess labour supply has given the feeling on expansion whilst the currency decline has hidden some of the downsides of the wages squeeze relative to the world.


So with little growth, how come the Government is able to balance the books? Austerity is only a part of it. The Government spends less now than it did in 2010. Back when the Tories took office, spending was £715 billion by the Government, not it is £707 billion for the year. If you think about years of inflation added to that original figure, then the fiscal squeeze over what was being spent is around £200 billion per annum. Even if you take the pre-crash spending, there is still nearly £70 billion of expected spend missing.


However,  the big jump in the last year still is in income taxes. these have risen by nearly 10% in the past three years. Much stronger than GDP growth and inflation would suggest. The main driver of these is self-employment taxes. These were super strong this year, which has allowed the Government some fiscal wiggle room.


For me the takeaway is that the move to self-employment gets people creative and innovative and in the end they end up working harder, earning more and paying more taxes. The days of mass manufacturing and mass employment meant that (say today as per the NHS) collective bargaining limited opportunities for people to keep any benefits of harder work. In today's world, working harder pays better; yes there are issues with Uber etc effectively increasing supply to markets and reducing pay - but the fact that individuals can do something about it is both capitalistic and also rewarding - both them and the Government.

Friday, 1 March 2019

Brexit & the Arnhem Fallacy

How can it happen?  When one of the best-known maxims on strategy is, errr, so well known?   No plan survives first contact with the enemy.  Or in Mike Tyson's vernacular: every sucker has a plan - 'til he gets punched in the mouth.  Yes, it's very well know indeed.

Makes no difference, of course, when the strategists are tired or stupid or distracted or whatever it is that undermines good judgement.  I give you the Battle of Arnhem (1944).  Operation Market Garden was conceived in a fearful rush - fighting in Normandy was still being conducted in the last week of August, and yet the Netherlands, two whole countries further on, was being invaded from the air by 17th September.  Actually, the plans were based broadly on several previous airborne ventures that were never launched, so they didn't start entirely from scratch.  However, any plan needs to be crafted specifically for the precise circumstances at hand.

And by Heaven they screwed up.  Many will be familiar with the episode in detail, and here's not the place to retell the whole story.  However, one massively salient (no pun intended) feature was that no account was taken of how the Germans might respond.  The enemy was deemed to be a passive entity to be taken by surprise, brushed aside and more or less left in the role of a lamely protesting spectator.

But the German army was never quite like that: its powers of recovery, reorganisation and tactical response were astonishing, legendary.  They'd been doing it to the Allies all up Italy and across the Eastern front for a year or more.  And of course at Arnhem too: they responded, adroitly, resolutely and successfully.

I bring all this up because it's been highly relevant all through the Brexit fiasco, and continues to be so even at the death.  Every player - May, ERG, Official Labour, Starmer's private operation, any number of backbench cunning-planners - they all announce something that cannot be delivered unilaterally; that necessarily involves the enemy.  And Selmayr is quite capable of reacting, in his own interests, to whatever comes his way.  Parliament can pass all the motions it likes about renegotiating the deal, removing the backstop, delaying the Big Day, etc etc.  But it makes no odds if the other side has different ideas.  Even (as I understand it) 'unilaterally' revoking Art 50 is a qualified matter:  it may not restore the status quo ante, and might come with bells and whistles (e.g. - can't invoke it again any time soon; must be 'genuine' etc).   And even that's only an Opinion:  yet again, the enemy may have a surprise for us if we try it.

Hence I reply to 'Andrew' who noted BTL the other day a snippet from Alphaville: 
"...a theoretical non-payment of pre-committed EU funds by the UK would lead to an immediate funding gap for Commission programmes. Borrowing is not an option for the EU due to the terms of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. An emergency budget renegotiation meanwhile is possible but extremely politically complex, and unlikely to offer an immediate solution" 
"So much for weak negotiating position", said Andrew: but I fear that's to fall into the trap again.  Suppose May assumes that's a knock-dead gambit on our part and pulls the plug on the first payment of the £39bn (due quite soon).  We know exactly what would happen.  We'd wake up next morning to find a headline stating that actions had been taken overnight under some emergency power that Selmayr had invented for himself, and that the Commission was content to pursue the UK through the international courts at its leisure.

A comment I made ages ago on George 'Boy' Osborne (equally aposite to Frederick 'Boy' Browning) is that being by nature a strategist is all very well; but what is needed is good strategists.  Do we have any?  I've seen absolutely no sign of one.

ND