Saturday, May 23, 2015

Nobody Owes You Nothing

Gonna stick my neck out here. In my opinion, one of the biggest problems in society today is the recurring belief that people owe people something.
They don't.
Unless there is a direct and evidenced relationship, one person to another, or society, hopefully by means of a demonstrable majority vote of those choosing to vote, has made it so, then, to put it ungrammatically, no-one owes you nothing. Get over it.
We are not born equal. Personally, I believe in a political philosophy that works for the greatest possibility of ensuring equal access for all. But that is not a right that is guaranteed. And you have no right to take it out violently on others if it is not fully achieved.
Historically, attempts to impose equal outcome have never worked. Attempting to do so merely creates new imbalance and tension, which always ends in tears.
I deeply regret that, as a society, we have become so consumed (literally) by envy and anger. Transfixed by the antics of those who have celebrity and possessions. Yearning for what they have. Bitter if we have less.
The result is a spiritual void. Which we fill with all manner of distorted faith. Or violence.
I have friends with left-wing views in the UK, who completely misread the mood of the UK electorate in the recent General Election, and genuinely were surprised that the election was won by the Conservative Party.
They now compound their misunderstanding, in the election of a new leader of the Labour Party, by pretending to themselves that they will win next time if only they can further stoke the fire of envy and anger.
The election was misread, even by talking heads on the right, because, as even Iain Dale, prominent right-wing commentator, admits today, very few in the media could believe what the polls were telling them.
Which was that the British people have become short-sighted, selfish and uncaring. If they're ok, they don't give a fig about anyone else. And they'll vote for the political party which says it's ok not to have to worry about those without.
Same goes for the US. Which is why we have Republicans in charge of so much.
So. What is the answer?
Take a deep breath. Take a good, long look around. God is a bloody comedian. No-one without a sense of humor would have designed this world.
Accept that we are born the way we are. Enjoy who we are. Try as hard as possible to find a way to design a life that expects no more than who we are. Enjoy it. And attempt to rely on others as little as possible.
It's why I left the rat race. It's why I believe it is so futile either to depend upon or to punish rich people. They are who they are. It is why I force myself to enjoy my days. Smile at the sun. And go to bed with a laugh in my throat. Always.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Tory Arms Corruption - The Next Phase?

British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has now finished his appointments to the first full Conservative Government in 18 years (for the past five years, the Conservatives were in coalition with the Liberal Democrats, who may - or may not - have had some restraining influence on the Tories pursuing their quest for kickbacks from arms deals, legal and illicit).

What was clear, even during the past five years, was that David Cameron saw arms exports as an important element of his plans for economic recovery in Great Britain. What is also clear, at least to anyone who understands how arms-exporting works in countries which rely heavily on arms exports for earnings (Britain still ranks as the world's No. 5 arms exporter, and roughly one in five people employed in Britain are in some fashion connected to arms sales), is that, if you want to be taken seriously as an arms exporter, you have to be willing to deal under-the-table as well as over it.

In any event, the point of this post is to comfort any of you who might have been worried about Our Dave's re-conversion to compassionate conservatism. It's ok, guys. It apparently does not extend to arms deals and arms kickbacks. After an 18-year hiatus, it seems that Dave has put a very high-powered team of Ministers in charge of arms sales - and um, the attendant goodies.

First up, Francis Maude. He is the first give-away. Here is a guy who has the political pedigree to be a Cabinet Minister. So, why has he been made a lowly Trade Minister?

Answer: because that role puts him in charge of the Export Credit Guarantee Program, and keeps him under the radar. Sort of. So, what is the ECGP? It is the Program which underwrites the loans commercial banks make to countries which are buying weaponry from British companies.

Gerald James, former Chairman of controversial British defense contractor Astra, is on record as saying that, in the Eighties, Margaret Thatcher used the Program as a piggy bank to build up Britain's defense industry. Underwriting was granted to tinpot dictatorships like Iraq, in the absolute certain knowledge that those countries would renege on their loan obligations, and the British taxpayer would pick up the bill. According to Gerald, to the tune of some £10 billion a year in the Eighties.

Is Francis up for the job? Oh yeah. This man is a definite Keeper of the Secrets. He's known where the skeletons have been buried ever since he was a finance minister for Thatcher herself. Plus Dad (Angus Maude) had military intelligence written all over him. Was a part of the sordid interface between intelligence, the City and the right-wing in the Seventies. And was a prime backer and confidante of Thatcher.

Next up, the man actually responsible for arms sales, who has, in fact, held the position since 2012, one Philip Dunne, is ridiculously establishment, of the most elitist clandestine variety. Daddy was the Queen's Lord Lieutenant of Herefordshire, and was appointed Knight Garter by the Queen. Family owns farmland just down the road from the SAS base. Philip is Eton and Oxford. Background not only in farming, but also in banking. Yawn. Another Keeper of the Secrets.

Finally, Grant Shapps. Now, all the narrative is that young Grant got demoted because he's a sleazebag, who liked to use fake cover names, and 'adjust' his entries in Wikipedia. Sigh. Oh ye of little faith and understanding. Haven't you ever watched those movies where the hero spy is cashiered and humiliated, so that no-one pays any attention? For sure Grant is a cad. For sure Dave had to get rid of him. I mean, what do you do with such an obvious opportunist and sleazebag? I know. Make him Minister of State at the Department for International Development. Which position just happens to be responsible for the process that not only vets foreign countries for aid, but also vets them for the ECGP, when it comes to arms. Hello.

So. All the evidence appears to be that the Tory Arms Corruption machine is back and in the highest gear. Just in time for the publication of the book ...

Parliamentary Transition

A little known fact concerning British Parliamentary elections. There is no transition period. The election was last Thursday. On Friday, LibDem Ministers resigned en masse. Bright and early this morning, newly-elected MP's arrived to take possession of desks which should have been cleared out by losing occupants over the weekend. As and when new Ministers are appointed (and that has been happening in a steady stream since last Friday), they also expect to arrive at their Departmental desks, and find them cleared and ready.

So. A quick shout-out. Which will likely be worth next to nada. To those clearing desks. Of all political persuasion. Thank you for your service. For those arriving, have a heart. Maybe find something pressing to do for a few more hours? There are many MP's for whom the position was not just an expenses claim; it was a vocation, an opportunity to make life better for their fellow citizen. Remember that.

As for the pic? It is of a bunch of the new Conservative intake. I'm not sure if he is in the photo. But that intake includes Facebook Friend, Mike Wood, the new MP for Dudley South, and for whom I am still tickled and delighted. As I am for all of his constituents. Who made a fabulous choice. From the little I know of Mike, he will serve every last one of his constituents with honor, diligence and humility. Good luck to us all!

Monday, May 11, 2015

#GE2015: Picking Up The Pieces

To be honest, I haven't really liked any part of this election. It was about opportunism, from beginning to end. Frankly, Great Britain now has the government it deserves. A party of opportunism for a land of opportunism. Not opportunity. Opportunism.

Ed Miliband wasn't wrong. He looked at the Great Recession. Saw austerity was coming. Had a gander at history. And firmly positioned the Labour Party as the vehicle for resentment towards both.

Ed is an economist. He ain't stupid. He knew that the economy would improve. After down, the only way up is ... well ... up. He leapt ahead. And took advantage of his opportunity by getting some digs in at the pain the Tories were inflicting, and then trotted out his message. Yeah. The economy is improving. But not for everyone. Let's make this a One Nation recovery. And by the way, we should all hate predatory capitalism.

His approach was, actually, a textbook response to history repeating itself. The only problem was that he underestimated the ruthless selfishness of the British people. As I have written elsewhere, once the economy stabilized - no more than that - and folks felt more comfortable about their immediate job prospects, they abandoned any pretense of being concerned about the welfare of others.

Blame it on the 'me' generation. TV reality shows. Rampant consumerism. Whatever the cause, the net result was that this election was always going to be about folks voting for their own self-interest. And that meant, gimme a job, gimme a house, gimme lolly, and keep as far away as possible from me anything that might interfere with that, namely immigrants, Europe, tax, other people's welfare, and especially the Scots.

I don't mind saying I was surprised. But it became clear to me, especially at the end of last year, that altruism was dead, at least for this election. People might - might - start thinking thoughts about, well, what about others, what about cost of living, what about predators, they might just start thinking about that the next election or the one after. But for the immediate election of 2015, folks actually wanted the very things Ed was campaigning against.

The people want non-dom unfeeling billionaires. Because they run the likes of Boots, which gives the people jobs and cheap pharmaceuticals. The people want a Tory government, because it will slash and burn the things that get in the way of what the people want, right now.

And therein lies the actual future for Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

As usual, a lot of guff is being spoken by opportunists in the Labour Party. Let's get a few things clear. Folks do not immediately want more socialism. Ed offered a little. It was rejected. Folks don't want a return to Blairism. Are we all forgetting the BBC Question Time when Ed was eviscerated primarily for not apologizing for Blairism?

So, what is needed? Hate to say this. But, time. Ed's message was basically right. Just find someone who can eat a bacon butty to deliver it. And then wait for the British people either to hurt enough or feel safe enough to want to start feeling altruistic again. 2025 sounds about right to me.

As for the LibDems. Not so easy. History will evidence that Nick Clegg and his cohorts delivered a tremendous service to the UK. They kept check on the ravages that necessarily accompany the medicine required when a country goes on a thirty-year debt binge.

But, in the meantime, for all their opportunism, the people of Great Britain wanted to hurt someone. They wanted to take out their anger for their own excess, their dashed expectations of Blair, the humiliation suffered at the hands of Tory medicine, they wanted to lash out at someone. And the LibDems were in the line of fire.

Bottom line? You can't rebuild overnight, or even over the course of a couple of elections, when you've lost all your big guns, and you're reduced to a rump of eight MP's.

It took decades for the LibDems to win each of the 57 Parliamentary constituencies they represented before this recent election. Decades of painstaking door-knocking, issue-campaigning, council seat winning. For sure, all that work remains. The council representation is there. But the national party, the national message is gone.

The whole point of coalition, for the LibDems, aside from responding to the national need, was to build national credibility by creating a whole phalanx of big guns with ministerial experience. The biggest guns just got wiped out. And you're not going to see the likes of Vince Cable tramping streets for five years to get back.

So, even though the Liberal machine still exists in all of its former constituencies, it will take decades to find new candidates of Parliamentary and ministerial caliber. And the hard work of national credibility essentially starts from scratch. I think an estimate of about 50 years to make a comeback is about right.

Which leaves the Tories in the driving seat for at least a couple more elections. Which makes me less than happy. And I'm a Tory! I want a party to be in power because people want it there. Not because there is no alternative.

And, on the subject of opportunism, don't go blaming the Tories for anything. Yes, they ran a negative campaign. But, the British people bought it. And they did so because of their own naked opportunism.

And don't think you get off lightly because you voted for someone other than a Tory. Aside from the Liberal Democrats (maybe), there is not one serious political party in Great Britain that is not founded upon opportunism at the moment. For why? Because we are a greedy electorate, with no or little concern for others.

Without for one moment thinking of the consequences for other people, we want, we need, gimme, can I have. We vote Tory because we want a tax cut. We vote UKIP because we want rid of immigrants. We vote Labour for a tad more child benefit. We vote Green because we want a wind farm, even if it is an eyesore for those who live near it. We vote SNP because we want rid of the hated English.

All politics at the moment is opportunistic. And it is merely a knee-jerk response to our own opportunism. We have no-one to blame but ourselves. If we want better government, we must first become better people.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

How Did The Tories Win?

There is much guff being written about how the numbers conspired to give the Tories an overall majority.

It's guff because, in the main, it is being offered by those talking heads who told us, right up to 10pm election night, that this was a tight election.

Here are the thoughts of someone who never thought this was a tight election.

First off, yes the Liberal Democrat vote collapsed. But no, it did not go directly to UKIP. Nor did it go in the main to Labour. This latter movement occurred in 2011. In disgust at the LibCon Coalition.

It went in the main to the Tories. Which is what led to the Tory gains from the LibDems in the South and the South West.

There was some movement from UKIP to the Tories. Which helped the Tories in the North of England. But there was a huge movement from Labour to UKIP in the North. Which helped the Tories in the North even more.

This is why pundits think there was a move from LD to UKIP. They don't get it was several moves. LD to Tory, and a little to Labour. Labour to UKIP, with a little UKIP to Tory.

Net result? LD collapse. Allowing Tories to gain in SW and South. UKIP do well on votes, but mostly from Labour in North, allowing Tories to win there. UKIP get votes, but not seats. Labour suffer, especially in North. Overall majority for Tories.

And now, I'm going to have a couple of Aspirins ...

#GE2015: Geoff's Triumphalism

C'mon. You knew it was coming. And I'm giving you lots of flag, so you can pass on by this post if you can't bear reading it. But. I did tell you so.

In a post written on March 1, I said:

"At this stage of the game, I'm going to stick my neck out a bit further. I think the Tories are going to win, with a very small overall majority. And Labour will actually lose a few seats overall. Not to the Tories. But to SNP (in the main) and to UKIP (a bit; possibly one seat; possibly Grimsby; but lots of votes; which may hand some seats to the Tories)."

Now, this post, and a succeeding one also written on March 1, were essentially wondering out loud why all the pollsters were saying #GE2015 was a tight race between Labour and the Tories, when all the sub-polling data and evidence suggested otherwise. Data and evidence which, among other things, made very clear that the election was about jobs and fear of Labour.

Now, hang on, I hear you say, polling doesn't 'suggest,' Geoff. And nor do pollsters. It's a science. There is no interpretation. No guesstimation. You ask some folks a question and publish the answer. Um. Actually. That's wrong. Polling is all about bias and interpretation. Although the pollsters don't call it that. They call it weighting and sampling.

It's all about how many people you ask. How you choose the people (remember the argument about how ICM chose the audiences for the BBC?). What questions you ask. How you follow up. How you then interpret the answers, in terms of variation between regions of Great Britain, etc.

There is now argument raging among pollsters themselves about how and why they got their predictions so wrong - here and here. Indeed, they've even asked their professional group organization to set up an independent inquiry.

The results of that inquiry might well be interesting to read. But, I suspect they will be woven in impenetrable mock-geek language, in order to avoid the inescapable truth that their member pollsters got it wrong, because they are either biased, or not very good. And I don't mean simply left-wing or right-wing biased. I mean making-the-wrong-assumptions biased.

For sure, most polling firms in Great Britain are left-of-center. But they are, for the most part, pretty much straightforward and honest. Much more so than the polling firms in the US, which are becoming renowned for tilting all over the place.

Indeed, even one of The Telegraph's senior political editors, James Kirkup, was forced this morning to apologize for getting his predictions wrong.

So, what 'bias' am I talking about? Well. The primary one is that no-one believed what was before their eyes. Either didn't believe it, didn't want to believe it, or quite plainly, did not have the nous to understand it.

I don't entirely blame them. I didn't believe it at first, either. Ok, ok, Geoff. You're brilliant. But, get to the point. Look. I'm entitled to my moment in the sun. Ok? Pause. Right. Enough of that.

They didn't believe that they were seeing a surge to the Tories, because the surge was predicated on the underlying assumption that, by and large, the people of Great Britain didn't blame the Tories for austerity. They blamed Labour for the Great Recession. And besides, they just got over both really quickly.

Forget all this guff about caring people. We do not live in a caring age. Not even among young people. The mantra is: if I'm ok, I don't care; where is my next selfie? It sounds harsh. And it is. But the truth became clear to me from polling done for The Guardian at the end of last year. Polling which suggested that young people in Great Britain had just moved on from the Great Recession.

So? Well, as a child of the Seventies, I had concluded that the primary effect of the Great Recession and the following austerity would be a resurgence of socialism among the young. I was wrong. But I wasn't the only one. It was the primary predication for the failed approach of Ed Miliband. We both made the mistake of assuming people cared. At least I woke up to the awful truth.

Once I had absorbed the import of that polling, I took a wholly new view of upcoming polling and the associated data and anecdotal evidence. Which is why I was able to write the two posts I mention above. And why. Heck hem. My prediction was better than those of the people getting paid to make predictions. Which is a hint, someone.

As for them, and including right-wing commentators like James Kirkup, they read the same information as me (I am assuming). But they simply chose not to believe what they were reading. I'm guessing they all said to themselves: this can't be right; we're not that cynical; surely we haven't just 'got over' the Great Recession, austerity and their tragic human consequences and costs that quickly? Surely not? Hmm. I know. I'll adjust my weighting. My interpretation.

Don't believe me? I know. Why not take a poll of them ... ??

Oh. By the way, if you wonder what I mean about underlying this and anecdotal that, I think this post gives the best idea of what I look at, and what I'm talking about.

Let's end on a prediction. Anthony Wells, CEO of YouGov, will be looking for a new job. He also runs UK Polling Report. And is pretty much regarded as the dean of British polling.

It was quite clear to me as far back as last summer that he was skewing his weighting and sampling in favor of Labour. Brazenly.

Now, I'll try really hard to engage in humility for the rest of the weekend. But I really am open to job offers ...

Friday, May 08, 2015

Tory Triumphalism?

Comparisons are already being made between 2015 and 1992. Not just in terms of the shock overall Tory majority, but in terms of Tory triumphalism, followed by Tory right-wing rebellion, shambles and paralysis. I'm not so sure.

For certain, there is only a slim Tory majority. On paper, this renders David Cameron liable to every twist and turn of his capricious and loathsome right-wing.

But this is a Prime Minister who, after the omnishambles of 2012, has found his footing. Is more confident and relaxed about what he wants, how to get it, and how not to get too worried about setbacks.

He now knows how and when to listen, when not , how to manage his government, his Cabinet, his Party and his backbenchers. When to make a stand. And when to shrug off a Parliamentary loss and just move on.

Plus, we have the Fixed-terms Parliament Act 2011. Back in 1992, John Major had to pay minute attention to right-wing rebellion, because a bad vote could have spelt the downfall of his government.

Having been through five years of this new Act and coalition, when Parliamentary defeat, compromise and U-turn have become commonplace, Cameron will feel much less threatened by rebellion.

The right-wing threatens. Then rebels. Cameron shrugs. And moves on. He knows that not even right-wing Tories will push it to a vote of confidence he might lose.

Besides, he has other numbers to back him up. Contrary to what left-wing columnists are suggesting, in the bitterness of early morning hangover, Cameron is not about to launch on a triumphant, radically right-wing agenda.

So, on pretty much any agenda item where right-wing rebellion might be a serious threat, Cameron will know that he can count on the few remaining Liberal Democrat votes, along with some amongst the now-chastened Labour ranks.

I expect from Cameron an inclusive legislative program, much discussion with other Parliamentary parties (look for a strong candidate for Leader of the House, in this regard), and a relaxed but deft hand at the helm. All the while continuing to ignore the strident demands of his rumbunctious right-wing.

Election Reflections

It is 7.00pm US time. Midnight in the UK. I am deliberately not gathering any UK news of the election there. I am going to go home. Have a meal. Watch the second Bourne movie. And check the UK news at midnight my time.

I am an old political hack. Idealistic to the core. Pragmatic from experience. I love the wins. I've got used to the losses. But I want to share a few thoughts before the results become known (at least to me!).

Great Britain has been through a remarkable experience in the past five years. It matters not whether you support all of the actions of the immediate past LibCon Coalition government. The point is, there was coalition.

Two venerable parties learned how to co-exist. To compromise. Without losing their faith. I want to see more of that in British politics.

Another important thought. I love the fact that there has been a fracturing of the three party system. There are a gazillion different ideas and a million different ways of solving problems. No one, two or three party system can have all the answers.

That said, with this fracturing will come disappointment. Not everyone is going to like the outcome. But I want to shout out to my fellow old hacks. It is incumbent on us to help those for whom the feeling of loss is new. It is up to us to keep them engaged.

I have fought eight different elections. I won only one. I know about loss. I also know the inestimable joy and pride in bearing witness, in speaking for others, in being a part.

Whether you lose or win tomorrow morning, every single person who voted, who stood as a candidate, who delivered a leaflet, made a speech or gave a lift to a voter, every single one of you made democracy stronger in Great Britain. Be proud. I thank you.

And remember. Elections are only the beginning. Folks are elected to lead the discussion, not impose some transient mandate. Pick yourself up, dust yourself down, and continue the good fight. With every last breath in your body. Until the next election ...

Ed Balls Election Night

Ed Balls picked to be Labour's primary spin doctor from 10.00pm on, after the UK polls close? Bad choice. This is where dynamics take over from numbers.

Balls was Miliband's boss when both worked for Gordon Brown. Balls screwed Brown during negotiations with Liberal Democrats in 2010. Balls has been murmuring about Labour's legitimacy if they are the second largest party. His wife, Yvette Cooper, will be one of the prime candidates in any leadership election to replace Miliband.

My guess? Balls will knife Miliband. Subtly. Sometime between midnight and 1.00am, Balls will mutter something about Labour's difficult position. And will then spend the rest of the night underlining the political assassination of Miliband, by loudly denying what he has inferred.

All the while maintaining an innocently evil expression of surprise on that cherubic face. As he consigns Miliband's chances of forming a government to a carefully-prepared dustbin. Just in time for Cameron's early Friday announcement of a Tory victory.

Your enemies are always closer than your friends ...

Wednesday, May 06, 2015


And so, the pre-election ball-swinging shoutfest about 'legitimacy' of claim to government seems to be coming down to how much better or worse your party did in 2015, versus 2010.

Huh. In which case, why not cut the crap, and ask SNP to form the next government, since they are forecast to increase their representation by more than 40 seats - twice as many as Labour ... ??

The Book - The Index - The Strut

So, my publisher contacts me today to seek advice on The Index for The Book. He has a list ...

Hang on. What?

He has a list ...

No. Before that.

Er. Book? Publisher?

No, no. In between ...





People. My Book. Is going. To have. An Index.

An Index.

Puff. Strut. Preen.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Tory Win - Foregone Conclusion?

Blimey. I thought I was done until Friday. But here's an interesting thing. Literally overnight, the narrative has changed in the UK General Election campaign. From neck-and-neck, to who has legitimacy if the Tories are the largest party. Absolutely no talk any more of Labour ending up as the largest party.

Final Round-Up British General Election 2015

This is my last piece of UK election geekdom before polling day this Thursday. It's a mess out there. Don't even try to understand it. I'm guessing that by now the result is pretty much set in stone in any event. Geddit? Stone? Oh why do I bother?

You want a real idea of what is happening, forget the news (ass-covering, last minute propaganda) and the national polls (unadjusted mood music). Take note of the following. My very own immutable stone monument of prediction:


The primary serious cheerleader for Labour (The Guardian) gushes about the election from its first inkspot. But leads with Tory commentary, Tory plans for government, and a vicious attack on Ed's heart of stone. Not exactly hinting at over-confidence.

The Torygraph meanwhile leads with Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. Elsewhere, Cameron's allies are talking up government. Minority. Not majority. Can we please work out the difference between a stated ambition and a big, fat fib?

The allies tell the other parties that, if the Tories are the largest party, Cameron, as sitting Prime Minister, will stay put, rock solid, and challenge the other parties to undermine their legitimacy by trying to vote down his Queen's Speech. Er. As I've been predicting.

A Labour chappie, either in The Independent or on BBC News, at least for a little while, was seemingly quoted as saying that, if the difference between Labour and Tory is more than 12, Labour will not challenge the Tory QS. Can't find that quote now. Perhaps not surprisingly.

Perhaps this is more evidence of a Labour Party already in turmoil over what to do about SNP? Where my best prediction is that stalemate will continue up to and through a vote on a Tory QS, leading to abstention.

Apparently the jitters are even getting to Nicola Sturgeon, who states that the results in Scotland in the UK General Election this week will not be regarded as a mandate for a second Scottish independence referendum. All the while refusing to rule out the possibility that she will make next year's Scottish elections a referendum on ... er ... a referendum.

I still maintain that, in the next month, Cameron will announce that, if he is PM next year, and receives a request from the new Scottish government for a second referendum, he will grant it. And the SNP will abstain in the vote on a Tory QS.

There is something very peculiar playing out between Nick Clegg and Cameron. Out of the blue, Clegg lays down his conditions for supporting a EU referendum. Cameron counters by saying he will not form a government without a EU referendum. Sounds like negotiating to me.

Back on the Tory backbenches, murmuring has begun about replacing Cameron if his result is not decisive enough. Dave feels confident enough to slap them down. Telling 'em, a victory for the Tories will be a vote for him as PM. Cameron threatens that, if his backbenchers try to change the Tory PM on the voters, he'll advise the Queen to invite Ed to form a government. And then blame them. Heady stuff, coming from someone with his own acknowledged incredibly accurate political intelligence operation.

All of which narrative suggests that the players expect a minority Tory government. At the very least.


Meanwhile the Tories announce they are now focusing on 23 marginals. Basic rule of thumb in the last week of an election. Look to see where the leaders are campaigning. Most of the 23 marginals are LD. The Tories feel confident enough to go after other people's seats. Watch Ed. I predict he will be in London and the North, shoring up Labour marginals.

Another typical anecdotal throwaway? LabourList, the Labour activist blog to which I subscribe, begging Labourites to vote heavily in safe Labour seats, to put up the Labour vote. Anyone who has ever experienced the inner workings of a national election campaign knows what that means.


Forget national polls, which by the way, are all moving the way of the Tories. All the constituency polling, focus groups, leadership polling, issues polling, all of it is especially moving the way of the Tories. Much of it since March.

So, peering through the settling dust, what do I see? 80% chance of Tories on 280-290 seats. Minority Tory government. With 'status quo' and 'abstention' being the most-used keywords in political articles come this Friday. 20% chance of a surprise.

Oh. And one further point to ponder, in the context of 'status quo' and 'abstention.' Everyone keeps talking about 'getting the Tories out of No. 10.' And where the LibDems factor in that bean-counting.
People, the LibDems are still a part of government. Their leaders have as much investment in 'status quo' and staying put as the Tories.

All this talk of no new LibCon coalition without a special conference of LibDem members is fine and dandy. There doesn't have to be a new LibCon coalition. There is one already.

Think I'm wrong? Ask Vince Cable who he thinks is the Business Secretary ...

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Harvey Proctor - Liar

Harvey Proctor - nasty, greasy, rent-boy abusing liar. I have written elsewhere a couple of articles, attempting to paint a picture of how all this abuse by establishment figures occurred in the Seventies and Eighties. And why it was not stopped at the time.

It was all about networks. Gentlemen's circles. Primarily in London. People who thought that their secret lives were above the law. Whether those secret lives revolved around harmless activities, like a night out playing poker with the boys at plush clubs in Mayfair, hanging out with Lords at those Greek gentlemen's clubs in Piccadilly, or more nefarious past-times, like child abuse parties in the East End, illegal arms-dealing, Cash-for-Questions, and the like.

For sure, much of this activity centered on those with Tory affiliation. But not all of it (cf. Lord Janner, Jimmy Savile, Cyril Smith). I knew bits and pieces. The whacky right-wingers, and their machinations to defeat what they saw as the coming internal socialist/communist threat. Harvey Proctor was one of those. Which is how I knew him. Hugh Simmonds, the subject of my forthcoming book, before he got involved with the arms-dealing network in the Eighties, was one of those right-wing manipulators in the Sixties and Seventies, along with Harvey Proctor. Who was never to be seen without a 'rough trade' young man in tow. Often at the annual Conservative Party conferences. To the discomfort of the other attendees. The more worldly-wise of whom knew what was going on.

The essential point of my earlier articles is that these circles overlapped. The lobbyist who engineered the Cash-for-Questions network also arranged the nauseating child-abuse parties at Elm House. Hugh was laundering money from the illicit arms deals in the Eighties, had been a part of those groups of right-wingers in the Seventies organizing against what they perceived as pernicious left-wing influence, all the while playing bridge with Iain Macleod in a club in Curzon Street.

I believe the London establishment of the current is resisting investigation of the pedophile rings as vehemently as it is, not just because of the pedophile allegations themselves, but because of the other networks that might get exposed.

In the meantime, Harvey? You're full of sanctimonious shit. It's not just that you were a whacko, weirdo right-wing nut. That's forgivable. You were a nasty piece of work. Who thought nothing of traipsing your sordid sex life around in public. We knew what you were doing. Maybe not the underage part. But we saw the rent-boys. And even the public ones skirted the edge. So. Stop with the recreation of history. You may well be innocent of the specific allegations being made. But your lifestyle renders you open to suspicion, and therefore to investigation. Man up.

As for us. Those of us who saw. Who raised an eyebrow. But who never took to one side. Never told him to stop. Never looked further. We are to blame too. We stand culpable. There is not much we can do about the past. But we can do something now. With this caveat. Harvey did. For sure. But we stood to one side. We are not the criminals. But we need to be a little less sanctimonious about the fervor with which we condemn others. Historic crime needs to be addressed. Those who perpetrated need to be prosecuted, so that those who have suffered may receive some measure of justice. But it does not help if those of us who were there, even if we did not know, because we did not look closely enough, it helps nothing if we pretend, if we cover our own shame by shouting the loudest, throwing rocks the hardest. We bear some of the guilt too. We need to man up, as well.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

You Can Always Count On The LibDems ...

Royal Baby

Sigh. Ok. I'll play the game. The new Royal Princess will be named some combination of Princess Elizabeth Diana Carole Anne. And that's my lot. Of much more interest to me is the fact that this marks the end of any meaningful campaigning in the British General Election 2015. There are no pledges to compete. I will say this. Anything Royal always acts in favor of an incumbent political party. I swear Lynton Crosby (the incumbent Conservative Party's primary political strategist) bodily lifted William into the Royal bedcamber precisely nine months ago ...

British General Election 2015 - Collage

As we enter the final one week home straight of British General Election 2015, the info flies thick and fast. Pledge, counter-pledge, stat, lie, poll, stumble, whatever.

Rather than flooding my Facebook Wall or this blog with every nauseating twist and turn, for my own edification, I'm going to add interesting tidbits as comment to this fascinating wee picture collage, as it is posted on FB ...

Friday, May 01, 2015

Labour-SNP Not A Done Deal ...

Well, well, well, it ain't just me saying that a Labour-SNP tie-up is not a foregone conclusion. Toby Young making many of the same points I've been making. Which is that we may have a stitch-up, not a tie-up.
Miliband has said no to a deal with SNP. He'd forfeit a Labour government first. Sturgeon has said she would block a Labour budget without a deal.
Either Miliband has to walk away from SNP, completely. Or, he breaks his word, and is branded (pun intended) for the rest of his political career. Along with likely dooming Labour in England to oblivion for a generation.

BBC Election Question Time

Well. That's that then. Only 8% of those polled said the question time changed their minds. The audience hate 'em all. But they'll hold their nose, and keep Cameron in his job.
Meanwhile, Milliband says he'll forfeit a Labour government before a deal with SNP. And Sturgeon says she won't vote for a Labour budget without one.
I think Cameron might forfeit a Tory government just for the chance to find out precisely which part of Nicola's a** Miliband would be forced to kiss ...

Labour-SNP Deal

Article in the Daily Mail. SNP Leader vows to block a Labour budget if Miliband does not make a deal with her. Told you so. Yes, I did ...

Wobbly Thursday

Well, With seven days to go to polling day in British General Election 2015, we have entered Wobbly Week. So, I'll give my tuppence-worth by way of overview.
The row of the day appears to revolve around Danny Alexander, the LibDem Minister responsible for spending plans. For which read, spending cuts. He has released a private Minister's Memo, from about three years ago, in which Iain Duncan-Smith, the Conservative Minister responsible for welfare spending. For which read, welfare spending cuts. Suggested £8 billion in cuts to child benefits and child tax credits.
Now, you know me. Hate to be the cynic. Never engage in inappropriate humor. But, am I missing something?
First, Danny, whom I admire, should know better. You don't reveal private Ministerial Memo's. All sorts of weird and whacky what-ifs get floated in these Memo's. We ask our pols to think outside the box. They can only do so if all involved agree confidentiality. However. It's an election. Meh.
Secondly, this Memo was from three years ago. It was tossed out by the Tories at the time. And they have immediately gone on the record now as saying, ain't gonna happen.
Of course, we've all stopped believing anyone anyway. So. The upshot is, it probably will happen. So, all that is important is, will it make a difference?
Well, duh. After the Autumn Statement on Public Spending, made by George Osborne last, well, Autumn, the world and the Daily Mirror all screamed, OMG, Osborne's welfare cuts will return Great Britain's social safety net to the time of the dinosaurs. And we're talking velociraptors. Not those cute bronto ding-dangs, that appear with half-naked Raquel Welch.
What happened? Nothing. Nada. Not a blip in the polls. Same thing when George hit us again with news of welfare cuts in his Budget speech in March. And again when the Tory Manifesto was released a couple of weeks ago. With the further hysterical pronouncement that the Tories weren't going to explain where their proposed £12 billion in welfare cuts were going to be made. Um. Welfare?
Why the gigantic British yawn? Because people don't care. They got it. They get it. Labour ran the bill up too high. Time to pare it down. Folks know this. All of the in-depth polling suggests they support it.
So, there's this huge non-row because Danny has released a Memo which suggested where £8 billion of those cuts might be made. Three years ago. A Memo which was rejected.
Frankly, I'm reminded of the dentist who annoyingly tells me that sticking a needle into my gums isn't going to hurt. Of course it's going to hurt. Welfare cuts are going to hurt. But when a Labour supporter comes rushing in and screams at me, don't do it, don't let him take out that rotting tooth, 'cos the needle will hurt, I really don't take a lot of notice. And I suspect the polls won't either.
On which subject, IPSOS-MORI today have the Tories five points ahead of Labour. Oh. That's why the child benefit hysteria? Ok.
Meanwhile. And I saved it to the end. On the subject of not believing denials. I told you so. Yes. I. Did. Alex Salmond's Deputy Leader lets slip that, yes, the SNP will have as the first line in its manifesto for the Scottish elections next year a promise to demand a second independence referendum.
As I have stated previously, I expect David Cameron, to go all constitutional on us next week, post the Westminster Election, and announce that, if he is Prime Minister, and the Scottish Government demand it after their 2016 election, he will grant a second independence referendum. In return for the SNP in Westminster not voting in any motions of no confidence in the UK Parliament, until the second referendum is held.
Well. Since I'm here. Let me take it all a step further. Subject to the electorate not getting the jelly-wobbles and deciding that they can't possibly vote Tory after all, 'cos they really, really want those child benefits, I expect the Tories to be the largest party next Friday, but short of an overall majority. I also expect Labour to be unable to form a minority government, without the tacit support of SNP. Which they may not be able to do if the LibDems truly stick to their current position of not doing deals with SNP or UKIP (cf. ‪#‎weliethroughourteethallofus‬).
Watch for Cameron quite pompously requesting to see all party leaders, in order of their party's representative strength in Parliament. Then, about a week later, watch for a total barnyard-breaker. An agreement between the Tories and Labour.
Once all the politics have died down. When the LibDems and Labour are up to their ears in internecine warfare. I suspect Cameron will take a deep breath and realize, the union is gone. There is no way anyone can continue to govern out of Westminster with the total mess there will be, with SNP ruling the roost the length and breadth of Scotland, no kind of separate assembly for the English, and all manner of inconsistencies in the way the various regions of the United Kingdom are governed.
I think he will realize, and pretty much all of the parties will finally agree, that a new constitutional settlement is required.
Look for a grand coalition of Tory and Labour. Alan Johnson as Deputy Prime Minister. Liam Byrne taking Danny Alexander's role. Tax rises off the agenda. Welfare cuts off the agenda. Other reforms stay in place. £8 billion into the NHS each year, regardless. A cross-party team to negotiate with Europe. A formal constitutional conference. Referendums on the outcome and on Europe in 2017. Time-table for new elections for all of the constituent parts to follow within a year.
Something like that. I mean. Why not? Think weird. Apparently, everyone else is today ...