Monday, August 07, 2017

Life after (Election) Death for Red Toryism?

Nick Timothy, the ‘brains’ behind Theresa May’s pre-UK General Election 2017 brand of working-class Tory populism, is all over the place at the moment attempting to revive interest in Red Toryism.
The thing is, I don’t disagree with his central premises. That Tories should be interested in what is best for the whole nation. That they should always be concerned to reform, carefully. Wherever that reform sensibly should go. That they need to have an ear to what the populace wants. And that a lot of folk, especially working people, feel very uncomfortable with the prescription of the center-left for a supranational economic melting pot, which doesn’t appear to take care of those who can’t necessarily make the grade in the brave new world.
It is the healthier aspects of this approach which allow me to meld those aspects of Red Toryism with my own brand of US proletarian populism, which I call Democratic Populism.
The problem is, when people are scared, they aren’t always at their, hmm, ‘healthiest.’ And, as another Guardian article points out, it is often not the principle of free movement of labour, capital and goods that the ‘left-behinds’ vote against, as it is the colour of the skin doing the moving, and the fact that the capital ain’t moving into their bank account. Frankly, I think the author of this article, one Stephen Bush, misses a lot in his essay. But I do believe him correct when he says that, if Red Toryism dies, the alternative could be a lot uglier.
As Nick Timothy himself admits, he is as much to blame as anyone for the possibility that his policy baby may well have got thrown out with the election-failure bathwater. But, even before the 2017 UK General Election, some in the British Conservative Party were inadvertently doing their level best to condemn Red Toryism by allowing others favorably to compare it to Trumpism.
For myself, I do believe that politics in both the US and the UK will be driven, for a while to come, by a large section of the working population who feel they want to retake control of their economic future. I think that is best obtained by devolving as much power over economic decision-making as possible as far down the political ladder as possible.
The upshot of that will undoubtedly be less interest in supranational decision-making. A desire for some breathing space, while new priorities are designed. Which itself may take the form of an element of protectionism and isolation. Together with some localized intervention in the marketplace, to keep at bay the impersonal forces of capitalist change, while ordinary folk better prepare themselves for that brave new world. And it might even see a surge of interest in mutualism. All in all, a gentle ‘qualification’ of the absolute freedom of the free market.
What I strongly believe will not work is boffins of right and left seizing on the distress that exists to superimpose trendy prescriptions of social engineering, which are not desired, and have not worked in the past, and may only result in further distress, and a headlong rush towards greater political ugliness.
It is not left the people want. Nor right. Nor even the center. It is populism. It is what the people say they want. It’s easy enough to work out. Just stop prescribing before you’ve listened. And then have the generosity of political will actually to accept what you are hearing.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Left-Behind Folk in the UK much like those in the US

It is fascinating how much similarity there is at the moment between the US and the UK politically. Especially as regards the behavior of those who believe themselves ‘left behind.’
I really have little more to add to this excellent analysis in the (London) Guardian. Except possibly for this. Labour did, indeed, do brilliantly in the UK General Election in June. And many Labourites are acting as if the next election (probably not before 2022) will be a case of building on that success. I’m not so sure.
For certain, Labour’s good result had much to do with the unexpectedly assured performance of Jeremy Corbyn. And the seeming attraction of Labour’s manifesto. But I still hold that history will show that 2017 was about rebellion much more than Labour.
Rebellion by Tory Remainers in London. Rebellion by Liberal Democrats against the LibCon Coalition record and against Farron. Rebellion against the European Union in the North and East of England. Rebellion by the young against austerity. The question is, how much of this rebellion will remain embedded in 2022?
I suspect the Liberal Democrats may be slightly regrouped under Vince Cable. Not much. Not enough. But some. Brexit will no longer be an issue. So just watch those Tory Remainers remain with Labour no longer. And I'm pretty certain the Tory government will merrily spend the next two years picking the more palatable and attractive cherries from Labour's offering of goodies, in order to calm further fears of pocket-picking going forward. At least among those whose votes the Tories want.
Meanwhile, as this article makes clear, the move by many voters in 2017 from Labour to Tory, in the North and East, was not just about Brexit. It was, as one correspondent describes, a 25-year movement. I’m not sure all those Labour voters will be returning. Besides, I don’t see how Labour will have anything more to offer in 2022 than they did in 2017. So, where does a better result come from?
Add to all this the near-certainty that the British Conservative Party will have a new and likely younger leader (my money is on Priti Patel). The Tories will need a polling lead of only 3% for an overall majority, compared to 8% for Labour. And the fact that Labour will be led either by Jeremy Corbyn (who goes down much better at Glastonbury than in the North and East), or by someone he pretty much handpicks. And I’m not convinced that the Tories will not be eking out a fourth, consecutive, narrow election victory.

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Friday, June 09, 2017

UK General Election 2017: The Morning After The Nightmare Before

I’ve been involved in electioneering in #GreatBritain, actively and as an observer, since the #GeneralElection of 1979, when I was also a successful #BritishConservativeParty municipal candidate. And I have never seen a General Election as remarkable as the one just finished (#GE2017). Remarkable not just because so few expected it (except, sigh, for #YouGov). But because the results themselves are still so confusing.
First, the overall picture. Well, I should have stuck with my original April prediction, and the reasons for it, when I said that this might all backfire on #TheresaMay. I suspected then that the pollsters and pundits were overestimating May, underestimating the holding power of #Labour, and not factoring in the likelihood that #Tory #Remainers would, well, ‘remain’ at home.
That said, my June adjustments weren’t without merit. They just didn’t take account of certain things that really only became apparent on polling day itself.
Young people turned out in droves – good for Labour. The #LiberalDemocrats did a teeny-weeny bit better than my second prediction assumed – bad for Tories. Not all of the UKIP vote in the North of England went to the Tories. Some 30% went to Labour – bad for Tories. #ToryRemainers did stay at home, especially in London – good for Labour. All of which might have made for a better night for Labour, but for the unexpected success of the Tories in #Scotland.
Ok. That is the big picture. But it wasn’t as simple as that. Take these two stats for example. At 4 o’clock in the morning (UK time). Within minutes of each other. The Tories won #Mansfield in the North of England from Labour with an 18.5% swing. While #ReadingEast was won by Labour from the Tories with a 16.5% swing.
Never, not in almost 40 years of interest in British General Election campaigns, have I ever experienced results of such complete and utterly opposite trend. What did it mean?
I’ve been scratching my head. I think the answer is this. People were just bloody weary. Weary of politics. Weary of politicians. They treated the whole production as one big By-Election. And just decided to rebel against everyone and everything.
Labour pushed out #Conservative. Conservative pushed out Liberal Democrat. Liberal Democrat pushed out Labour. And everyone had a shot at the #SNP in Scotland.
People saw through Theresa May and #NicolaSturgeon’s manipulation, and gave them both a bloody nose. They saw authenticity in #JeremyCorbyn and #RuthDavidson, and again, rewarded them both. Plus. The great British public decided they wanted to take it a bit easier on the #Brexit negotiations.
Where does this leave us? Well. I could go into a long ‘constitutional’ chit-chat. But, I’ll spare you. Here’s my very brief prediction of a timeline. May becomes #PrimeMinister. Supported by the #DUP. Eventually, there will be a vote of no confidence (may even come from her own side). #BoJo will be given a shot. He will fail. Corbyn will take his chance. He’ll let everyone see a juicy Labour Queen’s Speech. He’ll wave from No. 10 a few times. Suffer indignities at the hands of the Tories. He’ll wring his hands. Grimace. Shake his head. Shrug. Go back to the country. And get an enhanced mandate.
Why doesn't May just do the decent thing, and resign? Because she's a self-centered, selfish, stubborn pig. She didn't call this General Election for the good of the country, or for the good of her party. She called it to enhance her own personal position. Period. She knows she can't call a second General Election herself. She would be excoriated by the voting public. She knows her party grandees want rid of her. So, she's doing the only thing she can - for herself. Hanging on grimly.
Right. That’s really all I have to add to my #BBCExitPoll post of last evening. Save for a final personal note.
#NickClegg lost his seat last night. And I’m sorry. Theresa May made great play of the fact, when she took over as Leader of the Conservative Party and #BritishPrimeMinister, that she was putting the #Cameron legacy firmly in the past.
That legacy, at least in government, and to a very large extent, was the #CoalitionGovernment of 2010-2015. Which I believe, speaking as a wettish Tory, was one of the best experiments in governance I have witnessed in Great Britain. Not least because the charm, intelligence and patience of Nick Clegg brought out the better instincts of #DavidCameron.
I will miss Nick Clegg. So will the #UKParliament. And the people of Great Britain owe him a huge debt of gratitude. He was, in every sense of the expression, a selfless statesman.

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UK General Election 2017: The Exit Poll

Well. The notorious BBC exit poll has been published. Exit polls are no more a result than any other poll. But these BBC exit polls tend to be accurate.
So. First. Wow. Blimey. I was wrong with my prediction. But. At least I was on the right side of wrong. I wasn’t one of those predicting a May majority of 100, even 80.
That said. This is a victory for Labour. A disaster for May. A goodish result for the Liberal Democrats. And the beginning of the end for the Scottish National Party.
Ok. What next? And let me give you a hint. There are next to no experts on the British Constitution among the British media. Absolutely none in the US. So. Pay no attention to them.
As a consequence of the rules agreed to after the General Election of 2010, when there was also a Hung Parliament, rules drafted by the then Cabinet Secretary Gus O’Donnell, the Queen will call on the Leader of the largest Party to attempt to form a government.
May’s only real chance of a government is in coalition with the Democratic Unionists and the Liberal Democrats. The Liberal Democrats won’t. The DUP probably won't be enough. In my opinion, therefore, and if the exit poll figures hold true, May will probably fail to form a government that commands a natural majority in the House of Commons.
She may try to govern without a majority. If I were Jeremy Corbyn, I would not give her the chance. Screw all the nonsense about Brexit negotiations beginning in 11 days time. The British government will tell the EU to wait.
The Constitution requires that May be given a chance. But there is no written Constitution as such. It is all conventions, wisdom, paying attention to the voice of the people, sticking a finger in the wind.
And the bottom line is this. Two months ago, Theresa May had a polling lead averaging about 20%. The British public have utterly rejected her. More than this, they have voted positively for Jeremy Corbyn and his program. This will be especially true if the Labour vote turns put to be larger than in 2015.
It matters not what anyone says about the SNP voting on English matters. We are still one country, called Great Britain. And Great Britain handed a success to Jeremy Corbyn. He went up. Theresa May went down.
The result allows May to have her chance. But only a limited one. Corbyn’s success allows him to be hard-headed. But within reason. And it allows him to govern with the tacit support of the SNP, Plaid Cymru, the Green MP, the Liberal Democrats and like-minded parties from Northern Ireland.
If May stays as Prime Minister, she will not be challenged as Leader of the Conservative Party until after the Brexit negotiations have concluded.
The Brits take this whole Queen thing seriously. The Prime Minister is the Queen’s Prime Minister, not Parliament’s.
The Queen calls on a Member of Parliament to form a government. Parliament does not choose that person.
If the Queen calls on May to form a government. Then it will be May forming that government for the Conservatives. Not another Conservative.
There is just a chance that the Conservatives, desperate to hang onto power, may demand that May step aside, in favor of another Conservative MP, who might gain the backing of Parliament.
I think that unlikely. May is stubborn. And Corbyn could turn around and say, convention requires I give May a chance. But not any other Conservative. They lost this election. They went entirely the wrong way. By bucketloads. Why should I stand aside?
I can’t say as I’d disagree.
If I had to put money on it. If this exit poll is correct. Corbyn will be Prime Minister within two weeks.
But how did this happen? Well, those polls which were showing this to be a close election were correct. And those fashioning those polls said that their models were different because they were factoring in a large turnout of young people. So. I’m guessing young people (18-25) made the difference.
Whoever becomes Prime Minister, tactics with regards to the Brexit negotiations will now change.
Theresa May was playing hardball because she said she had the country behind her. The country is likely still pretty much Brexit. But not hard Brexit.
Besides, those doing the negotiating for the EU are going to be the ones playing hardball now.
What else? Oh yes. Once the Brexit negotiations are concluded, May will be gone. Unless she resigns before the end of this coming weekend. And. She won't be getting a bust in the Carlton Club.
Even if Corbyn does not become Prime Minister, he’s not going anywhere. He now has the opportunity to choose his preferred successor.
The Liberal Democrats will be reasonable happy. Provided the exit poll works out. And gives them a few extra seats.
The SNP are finished. This was a bad result. They are not now going to get a second independence referendum. Labour won’t give them one.
Labour will be taking the view that, once Brexit is done, once folk realize there isn’t going to be a second referendum, those folk will abandon the SNP as a one issue party. Just as UKIP proved to be. At which point, Labour will be expecting to get back their voters.
Um. That's it. Until we get some actual results. May. 100 seat majority. Wipe away the tears of mirth. Never a dull moment in the UK, eh?

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Tuesday, June 06, 2017

UK General Election 2017: Pre-PostMortem

On the subject of distinguishing between real media and ‘fake’ news. My view of why we got the result in the UK General Election we got. In advance of getting it.
And my apologies for writing about tacky politics at this difficult moment in the land of my birth. But politics is the answer. And writing about it remains important.
Pretty much as I predicted when the election was called, Theresa May and the British Conservative Party will win an outright majority. But of no more than 40 seats.
I’m not going to spend a lot of time rehashing what everyone else is saying, or will say. I’m going to offer my own personal perspective.
First, what is different between my earlier prediction and this pre-postmortem? Answer: the Liberal Democrats.
Pretty much all that I said in the earlier prediction, especially the collapse of UKIP, and the opening that would offer the Tories, will come true.
But, the Liberal Democrats have also collapsed. Which means the Tories will pick up a few extra seats in the South-West I was not predicting on April 20.
The other major change is I do not think a low majority for May will be due to low turnout. It will be because she has turned out to be a manifestly awful campaigner. While Jeremy Corbyn has been surprisingly affable and effective.
Which is not to say May made a mistake calling a snap election. She didn’t call it for the health of her party, or the country. She did it to make the most of what she privately perceived as her own shortcomings.
I think Theresa May is a lot like Gordon Brown. Controlled. Controlling. Introspective. Shy. Insecure. With all the charisma of a soggy Margaret Thatcher 1979 tea towel.
Unlike Gordon Brown, I believe May was well aware of her personality shortcomings. Like Gordon Brown, she had a plan all worked out for maximizing her leadership in the first few months of her reign. Then, unlike Brown, she had the balls mercilessly to take advantage of her temporary popularity.
Plus, she was canny enough to look ahead, and realize that the Tory brand was waning.
May transformed the Tory Party, after her ascension, from Cameron’s touchy-feely tree-hugging to UKIP. Not UKIP-lite. No. Full bore UKIP. With devastatingly-effective and cruel manipulation, May took full advantage of all the emotional consequences of Brexit.
She wasn’t in the slightest bit interested in the future. She was interested only in this election.
I think the clever people around May. And they are very clever. Told her that, once Brexit was done, well before the chosen date for the next General Election of 2020, the voting public would have no reason to vote for the Tories other than their record.
And even the most fervent of Conservative blue rinses has to accept that the time for this version of Toryism is over. The sell-by date is past.
Electorates never vote out of gratitude. They vote for goodies they are going to get tomorrow.
Whatever folks may think about Tory claims that they rescued Great Britain from Labour excess and recession. That was all so five minutes and Nick Clegg ago.
People have had enough of being noble. Of being told they need to accept cut, and cut out and cut off, for the good of the country, their children, the world, someone over there.
It’s time for some sugar. The clever people around May told her that, by 2020, and with Brexit out of the way, the Great British voting public would be looking for a bit of Bert after all the Mary Poppins. A spoonful of sugar. And Tories don’t do sugar well.
It’s no good talking about nationalization, and price controls, and ceilings being a part of the failed past. No-one cares about the Seventies. Besides, people like to do their own failing. They won’t get warned off it by being told it’s going to end in tears.
If people paid any attention to history and causes, marriage counselors and bookies would have gone out of fashion a long time ago.
So. May knew 2020 was going to be a disaster for the Tories. Knew her best shot was now. Knew that those 20% polling leads would dwindle the moment she began to put her foot in her mouth. And so, she called her snap election. For herself. And for herself alone.
Now. To be fair. I suspect she knew her polling figures would take a knock. But not as much as they have. Very few punters predicted Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign. And let’s be clear, Jeremy has done more than cement his own position as Labour leader post-election. He has, in my humble opinion, made Labour favorites to win the next General Election.
Corbyn and Momentum made a conscious decision not to offer Tory-lite in 2017. They presented a coherent alternative economic and social policy. Based on assumptions which rang true with the current British electorate.
Again, it matters not if Tories and others whined that nationalization didn’t work last time. Neither party was offering anything all that new. There never really is anything new in politics and economics. It’s all a rehash of the past.
The only thing that matters is whether or not it is a rehash whose time has come. And Jeremy Corbyn, with his integrity, charm, affability and humor, created a space, entirely all his own, in which that rehash could be viewed positively. And I predict that will be a stepping stone to likely Labour success in five year’s time.
I’m not sure Corbyn will hang around for another election. But he will now likely go on his own terms. And I suspect not least because the more intelligent of those who opposed him will realize that he really was the man for the hour. There probably was not another candidate who could have done a better job of making Labour policy look so warm and fuzzy in 2017.
Oh. An even further look ahead in my pre-postmortem crystal ball? Unless May exceeds all expectations, and does in fact get a majority of at least 80 seats, she will be history by the time of the next General Election.

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The YouGov Model for UK Election 2017

Well. With all the brou-ha-ha in the UK over today's YouGov poll. Which suggests. Completely against the grain. That the Tories will actually lose seats on June 8. I thought I'd be fair and offer the 'science' behind the YouGov polling. From the very lips of their chief political scientist.
To be honest, I lost interest after "This model is then used to estimate the probability that a voter with specified characteristics will vote Conservative, Labour, or some other party."
Sigh. Why not just walk down a bloody street and ask people how they're going to bloody vote? When did this all become so complicated?

Monday, June 05, 2017


It ain't just me rabbiting on about corruption in the British Conservative Party. Mind you. My corruption isn't about drugs and banks. Mine is about arms deals and banks. Well. I say 'mine.'
Thank you for posting the original story, Gerry Platt, and for directing me to it, Maggi Gilson.
I've contacted the people behind this story. For help. To exchange. Whatever. With my luck, they'll think I'm a British Intelligence stooge ...

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Monday, May 08, 2017

Trump, Brexit, Big Data, PsyOps - and 'Maggie's Hammer'

This is one of the scariest articles I've ever read. And I've had moments of being very scared these past 29 years. Have I mentioned My Book?
We wonder about big data, about the NSA, about surveillance, Russia, hacking, e-mails, Clinton, corporate media, fake news, alternative facts, the Brexit con, the Trump con. This story connects all the dots. It will chill your blood.
I'm reaching out to a small band of dedicated left-wing anti-corruption activists in the UK, to help me finish the Maggie's Hammer investigation. Finally. And for the first time, in a long time, I am today seriously wondering: why bother? If this is what we're up against.
What does it matter if we find some people who will now talk? What does it matter if we end up with the story of the century? The absolute proof that the British body politic is corrupted from top to bottom with hundreds of millions of dollars in arms bribes.
If the story can be stifled with technology, private intelligence companies and rogue nations? Not to mention a British military-political-industrial complex, which sits on the boards, and has a vested interest in protecting its arms kickbacks, and now possesses the resources and opportunity to do so?
The most chilling aspect is that the entire enterprise appears to be being orchestrated by otherwise cuddly Silicon Valley types. I dunno. For fun? Because they can? Household names. Google. Uber. PayPal. Working with the dark side.
Actually, that would be the most chilling aspect were we not also being told that all of this modern technology, and the villainous working relationships outlined in this article, are combining the forces of the military, the private sector, data companies and computer scientists to update the concept of governments using psyops against their populations.
I deal with this in my book. The allegation that British governments began to use military psyops against the civilian population in the early Seventies. When some bright spark in British Intelligence decided that what had been used with success to win hearts and minds in Northern Ireland could be used to win hearts and minds more generally on the British mainland.
Problem was, as these things tend to go, and as this article confirms, it is usually right-wingers who go for this type of manipulation. And so, it is generally a right-wing agenda being pushed.
This was the case in Great Britain in the Eighties. When intelligence psyops helped to bring Margaret Thatcher to power. And she responded by giving British Intelligence carte blanche to do what it liked.
Which is how British Intelligence (and my mate) became so involved in arranging illicit arms deals, pipelining arms kickbacks to Intelligence officers, bankers and politicians. And, along the way, honing its skills at psyops, in order to hide all the corruption, and hold successor British governments to ransom. All the while, laying the path for the toxic and far-reaching collaborations detailed in this article.
I knew that all aspects of this corruption had become an industry. I just wasn't aware it had become such a hi-tech industry. And I wasn't expecting to read about it in The [London] Observer, on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Bloody hell. I need to go lie down.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Brexit, British General Election 2017 and Blair

Leading British Labour Party politician Chuka Umunna today posted on his Facebook Page a note angrily rejecting former Labour Party British Prime Minister Tony Blair's call to Labour supporters to vote Conservative or Liberal Democrat in the June British General Election, in order, according to Blair, effectively to block a Brexit 'at any cost.'
This is some indication of the confusion I believe Brexit is going to impose on the June British General Election. Making it almost impossible to predict what will be the outcome. Although, once again going against the grain, I have already predicted that I do not believe, as most of the talking heads are suggesting, that current Conservative Party British Prime Minister, Theresa May, will walk away with a landslide. I think she will have a Parliamentary majority of about 30 ...

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