Archive for May, 2018


From bollocks to Brexit to bollocks to Bercow?

Thursday, May 31st, 2018

The Speaker seems determined to annoy the Leavers and with crucial votes on Brexit coming up that seems unwise.

Former Monday Club member John Bercow has a history of needlessly antagonising people with his words & actions and I fear that his bumper sticker will rightly annoy Leavers especially with crucial Brexit votes scheduled for June in the House of Commons.

A Speaker needs to be seen to be fair and impartial and the fear among Leavers will be with close votes due on Brexit the Speaker’s personal views on Brexit might impede his judgment. As an innovative Speaker he might choose to ignore or adapt Speaker Denison’s rule, which could have the potential to trigger an early general election especially if the Government lost a key Brexit vote.

So Leavers might see this as an opportunity and the perfect motive to remove John Bercow, the fact we are coming up to the time John Bercow originally planned to stand down from the Speakership should help the plotters.

Quite frankly you can’t see Lindsay Hoyle, Bercow’s likely replacement, pulling shenanigans like this. Speaker Bercow only needs to lose the support of a significant minority of MPs to see his position become untenable, his actions are increasing the chances of his ousting this summer.




If Brexit is ever to be reversed it’ll be down to the 13% who think Brexit will negatively impact the economy but not their personal finances

Thursday, May 31st, 2018

I’ve been long of the opinion if Brexit is to be reversed it will be after a few years after the public has experienced Brexit and those who voted for Leave expecting no negative economic impacts would be crucial if Rejoin were to win.

So yesterday’s ICM poll for The Guardian, as per the tweet atop this thread, really did catch my attention. These findings might be an artefact of George Osborne’s hyperbolic and near apocalyptic economic warnings about Brexit, although if next March we leave the EU on WTO terms then the criticisms towards Osborne and Remain is that they lowballed it.

With the noises coming from the government that the Brexit they are proposing is towards the flaccid end and not the tumescent end of Brexit then I expect economic disruption to be minimised then I suspect 13% not to be disappointed unlike the Remainers/Rejoiners.

As we saw with the dementia tax hoi polloi don’t like policies that will make them poorer




If we are to have a 2018 general election then the Tories will have a significant financial advantage

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

I’m still of the view that the only way we’ll have a general election this year is if Parliament votes against Mrs May’s Brexit plans and she’s left with no alternative to call a general election, although a bit of free advice, don’t call it the ‘Who Governs Britain’ election.

But if we do have an election it appears the Tories would have a financial advantage but a financial advantage didn’t help the Tories that much in 2017.

UKIP did get some loans but currently they appear to be an ex party that seems to be focussing on defending the founder of the English Defence League a convicted fraudster and admitter of contempt of court.



There’s a Sheffield rally style hubris around Jeremy Corbyn and Labour should be afraid

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

Picture: From Saturday’s Times

Never get high on your own product.

Ever since Labour’s sensational and better than expected general election of last year I’ve felt Corbyn’s been a bit hubristic. First there was him telling Michael Eavis that he would be PM by Christmas 2017 and now there’s JezFest that could cost see Labour with a million pound loss.

Despite the result last June Corbyn finished with fewer votes and seats than the Tories and it should be remembered that many observers said it was the worst Tory campaign in history.

Hubris leads to bad political decisions such as in the targeting of seats, assuming some seats are in the bag when they aren’t and targeting seats that were never in play.

Two examples I can think of is following their surprise victory in the 1999 European elections the Tory party assumed they had 100 gains in the bag for the 2001 general election and that turned out to be a very dangerous assumption.

The other one is Labour in 2015 thinking everyone who voted Labour in 2010 were in the bag, whilst the events in Scotland rendered that extremely flawed, without the eight Tory gains from Labour in England and Wales David Cameron wouldn’t have a won a majority.



This interview is not of someone who will ever be Tory leader or Prime Minister, let alone the next one.

Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

For quite some time I’ve been advising laying Gavin Williamson for next PM and Tory leader, somebody once compared him to an incontinent puppy and his media performances seem to confirm that, wherever he goes there’s a great steaming pile of excrement not far behind.

The next Tory leader needs to have good media skills so you know you’ve got major problems when you’re getting savaged by a dead sheep Richard Madeley. All of this stems from Williamson’s non (Prime) Ministerial advice to Russia that they should ‘go away and shut up.’ Willamson’s not the heir to Theresa May, he’s the heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Idiots.

Gavin Williamson’s performance today has to be worst performance on TV since William Shatner covered ‘Total Eclipse Of The Heart,’ that’s how bad it was.




If LAB gets within 10% of its GE17 Lewisham vote it’ll be a vindication for Corbyn’s Brexit approach

Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

A bigger drop would be problematical

At the General Election the strongly anti-Brexit LAB MP, Heidi Alexander, came out with a share of 67.9% and a margin of 44.8% over the second place Conservatives in Lewisham East. The question, on which Ladbrokes have a market, is how the party will do on votes in the by-election two weeks on Thursday.

    The big fear of the Labour hierarchy was that the Lib Dems, who’ve done particularly well in Remain seat by-elections since the Brexit vote, could make this into a referendum on Corbyn’s approach to leaving the EU.

That danger could be partly alleviated by the choice of an anti-Brexit LAB candidate but that has not stopped the LDs making this the key point of their messaging. In the closing 16 days of the campaign the theme of Lewisham “sending a message to Corbyn” will become increasingly intense. The party is running a campaign on the scale of Witney and Richmond Park which means they are throwing everything at it.

It is hard from outside to assess the potency of this approach and what Labour GE voters will actually do on the day. Given that the government of the country is not, as in a general election, at stake could enough of them go with this as a means of influencing party policy?

Certainly I’d expect strongly anti-Brexit LAB MPs, of which there are many, to seize on a poor Lewisham performance to help ratchet up the pressure on the leadership. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them are secretly hoping for the party to hold the seat but on a much reduced majority.

With the YouGov tracker regularly showing that 70% of LAB voters think the referendum vote of Brexit was wrong there is a divide between Team Corbyn and party supporters something which Labour’s opponents are seeking to exploit.

A feature of this election is that it is seen as a foregone conclusion and is now getting relatively little media attention. This means that party messaging becomes the prime source of information for voters.

These are the current Ladbrokes LAB vote share odds.

I quite like the 5/1 40-50% band and would be backing it if I wasn’t in Spain where I’m barred from accessing my Ladbrokes account.

Mike Smithson


A very British coup. A way back for the defeated centre?

Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

These have been dark times for pragmatic politicians. Both the Conservative party and the Labour party have been taken over by politicians pursuing projects for ideological reasons, uninterested in any evidence as to whether those projects were actually beneficial for the nation. In both parties, moderates have been marginalised as the extremists compete to apply purity tests for their projects.

Since the election last year, neither group of ideologues has yet established a decisive polling lead. In the wake of the election, Labour appeared to move ahead a little. Earlier this year, the polls swung back the other way, with the Conservatives establishing a small lead. Just possibly there has been a fresh oscillation: the last two polls have shown the two main parties dead level.

This Parliament has potentially another four years to play out. In that time, the Conservatives could make a success of Brexit, establishing a decisive lead. Or they might see their coalition fall apart as the reality of Brexit alienates one or more groups. Labour could collapse into internecine warfare. Or Jeremy Corbyn’s campaigning could see them surge to success at the next election.

So far as we can tell anything at the moment, it seems that the two main voting blocs look surprisingly sturdy: the differences are at the margins. It’s entirely possible that the current deadlock could continue to the next election. There has to be a good chance that Britain will have a fourth successive close election.

What might this mean in practice? Let’s use the most recent Ipsos-MORI poll as a base. In that poll, Labour and the Conservatives were tied on 40%, the Lib Dems were on 7%, the Greens were on 5% and UKIP were on 2%. Electoral Calculus predicts that this would translate into the following tallies in the House of Commons:

Conservatives: 298

Labour: 276

Lib Dems: 14

SNP: 39

Greens: 1

Plaid Cymru: 4

Northern Ireland: 18 (I’m assuming the DUP again get 10)

As you can see, this would be what is technically known as a gigantic heaving mess. Labour, the Greens and the nationalists would get to 320, while the Conservatives and the DUP would get to 308. Neither of these constitute a working majority. In each case, it cannot be assumed that these blocs would coalesce.

The role of the Lib Dems would potentially be crucial. They could work with either bloc to establish an unstable working majority. Or they could work against either bloc.

Who would they choose to work with? The Conservatives would have lost seats but would remain the largest party. Labour would have gained seats but would remain very much second. Neither line-up looks particularly stable. Both main parties’ leaderships look very distant from the Lib Dems’ policy position.

The Lib Dems would no doubt pursue policy objectives. This would make the Conservatives hard to work with, given how hostile the recent Lib Dem members have been towards Brexit (their past experience of coalition with the Conservatives would also not be likely to make the idea of a repeat particularly appealing). They would no doubt seek to drag Labour in a more pro-EU policy direction.

But they might be bolder. It is no secret that many Labour MPs have little time for their current leader: they failed to oust him in 2016 and have since retreated into a sullen silence. In the main they have not obviously been converted to his merits since. In 2010, Nick Clegg told Labour that he would not countenance a deal with them unless Gordon Brown was replaced as Prime Minister. Might the 2022 Lib Dem leader try the same trick?

The Labour membership would be incandescent. But after the election their leverage would be limited. Above all, they cannot control the Lib Dems, who could vow to vote no confidence in any attempt at a government headed by someone who they believed did not have majority support in the House of Commons.

If matters were forced to such a vote and the Commons indeed passed a vote of no confidence, then at that point, things would get interesting. The House of Commons would then have 14 days to pass a vote of confidence in a government or a fresh general election would be held. Would the present Labour leadership acquiesce in the Lib Dems’ replacing their candidate for Prime Minister? Would Labour Parliamentary party discipline hold if the leadership set its face against such a demand? Would the Conservatives try their luck?

Politics would be a white knuckle ride for those two weeks. One of the more likely outcomes would be that a fresh Labour candidate for Prime Minister (not necessarily a fresh Labour leader) would emerge, probably from the soft left to keep as wide a span of support in Parliament as possible.

And suddenly the moderates could have got hold of the reins of power again.

This is of course just one scenario. But it illustrates a wider point. Ideologues can and have taken control of the main political parties. But in a hung Parliament, the preponderance of moderates on the Parliamentary benches can make themselves felt.

However, we may not need to wait for the next election. The Brexit bills are returning to the House of Commons next month. That preponderance of moderates in a hung Parliament have their opportunity to take back control from the government. They should have the courage of their convictions and grab that opportunity.

Alastair Meeks


‘Bluntly, older, mainly Leave, voters are dying—and younger, mainly Remain, voters are joining the electorate.’

Monday, May 28th, 2018

There’s some analysis by Peter Kellner on a second referendum.

The UK would vote to remain in the EU if a second Brexit referendum were held, new polling analysis has suggested.

Peter Kellner, former president of YouGov and polling analyst, suggested that up to one million Labour supporters who voted Leave in the 2016 referendum are having second thoughts.

In an article for Prospect, he points out that YouGov has carried out 14 polls this year asking people if the UK was right or wrong to vote for Brexit.

“Thirteen of 14 polls this year show slightly more people saying ‘wrong’ than ‘right’,” he said.

“This indicates a small but consistent net move away from Brexit.”

A large part of Mr Kellner’s belief stems from data showing that generally older voters supported Leave, whereas younger voters tended to support Remain.

He said: “Bluntly, older, mainly Leave, voters are dying – and younger, mainly Remain, voters are joining the electorate.”

Mr Kellner points out that Leave voters outnumber Remain by 1.3 million and that since the referendum roughly 1.2 million voters had died, while 1.4 million have entered voting age, meaning “demography has already reduced that lead by more than half”.

However, he warned that even if a second referendum were to take place, Labour would have to “campaign actively to stay in the EU”.

“This would, of course, require Jeremy Corbyn to abandon his past views of Brussels, which have ranged from lack of enthusiasm to outright hostility,” he added.

I’m not sure I buy into this demographic changes analysis, back in the late nineties and early noughties I regularly read analysis, such as The strange death of Tory England, that similar demographic changes would mean the Tories would never win a majority let alone most seats for the foreseeable future. Yet the Tories have won three out of the five general elections this millennium, including one majority.

As we saw with the dementia tax people might tell pollsters they like a particular policy, such as higher taxes to pay for health and social care. When the reality of that policy is about to be enacted and they are about to be made poorer support for that policy will collapse.

If there is a second referendum it will only happen after the voters have experienced a few years of Brexit and concluded that it is a mistake and a Labour leader passionately campaigning for Rejoin.