Cookie Notice

However, this blog is a US service and this site uses cookies from Google to deliver its services and analyze traffic. Your IP address and user-agent are shared with Google along with performance and security metrics to ensure quality of service, generate usage statistics, and to detect and address abuse.

Saturday 18 May 2019

Boris and Nigel?

In terms of political big beasts, they don't come much bigger than Boris and Nigel. As the realisation dawns on the Conservative parliamentary party that they're about to get a severe thrashing, their minds are turning to self-preservation, and they're looking at Boris in a new light - as the only Big Beast the Party has got who can go toe-to-toe with Nigel Farage.

A general election before 2022 now looks inevitable. The country really doesn't want to vote for Corbyn, but the parties must give them alternatives for whom to cast their ballots. Remainer MPs in strongly Leave constituencies are finished - this parliament is (hopefully) the last we'll see of Anna Soubry and Yvette Cooper, and good riddance. However, voters will not be impressed if the Brexit Party puts up candidates in constituencies defended by solid Conservative Leavers - Raab, Paterson, John Redwood et al. And to do so could well split the votes of the centre-right, allowing Corbyn in by default.

Of course having both a Leaver Conservative Party and TBP on the Treasury benches would be a dream outcome - bringing government with principle and direction, a united voice talking to Brussels and an outward, Internationalist, bold and confident Britain to make a new place in the world. But we'll have to see.

For now, we're still campaigning for the EP elections in five days, and my party leader, Mrs May, has just launched her campaign with a glittering event held in the CCHQ launch venue pictured below,  attended by a reporter from the Daily Remain and a gerbil. Hey ho.


Thursday 16 May 2019

When the Liberal Party was wiped from British politics

At the start of the Great War in 1914, the British establishment prided itself on the nation's armament and munition capacity. Rifles and machine guns may have been contracted in large part to private companies, but it was the Royal Ordnance Factory at Woolwich - the Arsenal - that made the big guns and the shells for the field and garrison artillery and the fleet. Small arms ammo was also made there - as it had been since the innocent cartridges that sparked the Indian Mutiny. The ROF was a sort of Gormenghast, in which three rival departments vied for space, resources and control. The Royal Laboratory made ammunition, the Carriage Department made gun carriages and the Royal Gun Factory made the barrels and tubes. Each had its own Superintendant and arcane system of administration. Should the Mounting Shed, in building 19, where the guns and the carriages were united, belong to the Gun factory or the Carriage Department? Should the Whitehead Torpedo Department come under the control of the Gun Factory or the Royal Laboratory?

Workers at the plant remembered the overtime paid during the Boer War, and no doubt a few looked forward to bulging pay packets in August 1914. But this would prove to be an entirely new form of war; more shells would be fired in one early Western Front battle alone than were used in the entire Boer War. By 1915 the Royal Laboratory had moved to seven day working, three shifts a day. Workers were exhausted - a 96 hour week was more normal than not. New sheds and stores were set up on Plumstead marshes, previously the burying ground for thousands of dead convicts in unmarked burial pits, and firing ranges, but it was not enough. The army in France ran out of shells for the guns.

The failure of government wiped out Asquith's Liberal government and cost the party 236 seats, including those of most of his cabinet. The Party never recovered.

A new Ministry of Munitions quickly set up filling factories across the country, in isolated places, timber huts and sheds thrown up in weeks. Shell-case and fuse making was contracted-out to industry, and girls earned £5 a week pouring molten explosive into the shell cases. It was enough. But the Liberal Party was destroyed for ever.

The anger felt in 1915 against the Liberals by a public unforgiving of their betrayal of our front-line troops - men from almost every family in the country - cannot have been dissimilar to the anger felt today at the Tories. No doubt Asquith imagined his party would take a temporary hit and all would be well afterwards. Clearly he was mistaken.

A naval gun under manufacture in the RGF

Wednesday 15 May 2019

Control slipping from central States in small ways

Electric scooters are the pain de jour for western governments. The battery and motor technology that was supposed to support the develop of electric cars for which governments are planning and legislating has instead flooded the market with millions of cheap Chinese electric scooters. Incredibly popular with the urban young, they can be kept in the hallway of an apartment and need no expensive concrete car parks in the city centres. The only problem is that governments hadn't anticipated them, haven't legislated for them and now are in knots.

This Conservative government is a product of a deeply interfering political class who have legislated to regulate everything from smoking on the beach, eating medium rare beefburgers to watching internet porn, and has employed an army of street wardens to catch people dropping pieces of litter whilst turning a blind eye to the welter of gore on the street from stabbed children, spilt blood being less offensive to those in power one presumes than a dropped fag butt. 

The Police won't even turn out for a non-indictable offence these days but God help you if you don't pay the TV tax. It's all falling apart, common sense has divorced from their use of our taxes and electric scooters could be the straw that breaks the camel's back.  The Telegraph reports on how Paris is coping with the development (I won't call it a 'problem') and the answers are all unenforceable - unless one diverts police from anti-terrorism ops to scooter traffic control.

And God knows they must be having the vapours in Brussels trying to frame EU wide directives that govern scooter speed, motor power, battery capacity, fitting of winter tyres, compulsory reflectors, hazard warning lights and sound signal apparatus. Why do they need to? Well, they don't. But it's what central States do to validate themselves.

Technology is moving faster, though, than States can legislate. People don't see why we need such petty governance when laws against burglary aren't enforced. It's starting to slip away. 

Tuesday 14 May 2019

Is this the real reason Oliver Robbins negotiated the Treaty?

One final comment - or rather question - arising from that remarkable documentary.

It was absolutely clear throughout the process that the EU side were stunned by the incompetence, weakness, unpreparedness, naivety and sheer stupidity of the British team led by Oliver Robbins.

Is it possible that that he was selected by Mark Sedwill not because he was the best that the civil service had to offer, but the worst? A head negotiator warranted to screw it up and produce a treaty advantageous to the EU? A humiliation of a treaty equal to Versailles?

Just asking.

Meanwhile, the Brexit Party scores 34% of YouGov's latest poll - more than Labour and the LibDems combined. And that's before May does a deal with Corbyn.

And can anyone explain why my London ballot paper has on it 11 independents who can each afford a £5,000 deposit?

Monday 13 May 2019

'Standard Oil' time for the Global Corporates?

Blogs such as this are more often than not a good indicator of coming swings in political consciousness. For years we've banged on about the growing dangers to democracy and the need for Big Bang Localism, the malign influence of the global corporates, the disconnect between the powerful and the disenfranchised, the dangers of a patrician political class. Well, such things are by no means all mainstream, but it's astonishing just how frequently they are now popping up in the mainstream, particularly over the past year. 

Liam Halligan's piece in the Telegraph today is yet another that gives us a warm feeling of validation. It warns of the malign effects of the global corporates. In the Telegraph.
Doubts are being raised, more widely and loudly than at any time since the end of the Cold War, about the future of capitalism. With British youngsters struggling to attain living standards enjoyed by their parents, and after years of real-terms pay cuts, faith in market economics is slipping. Swathes of voters now view the UK not so much as capitalist, but corporatist or even “cronyist” – with good reason.
Liam covers familiar ground - our children poorer than their parents, excluded from the housing market, laden with debt, subject to the market dominance of oligopolistic service providers. Firms obese with QA cash, inflated assets, stock bubbles, the wealth of the 1% and the disadvantage of the 99% are all listed. He even recognises the Elephant.
But while inequality between countries has narrowed, inequality within countries, certainly the post-industrial West, has got worse That’s why, across much of the UK, stagnant living standards and escalating corporate profits are fuelling a sense that capitalism is skewed, with the benefits accruing to an elite few at the expense of the many. Our natural sense of opportunity and fair play has meanwhile been reversed. A recent government study found “an increasingly stark social mobility postcode lottery across Britain”, with life chances increased bound to who your parents are and where you live. That’s why, for millions, Corbyn’s dangerous rhetoric about aggressive renationalisation, punitive taxation and class war holds appeal.
For the Right of the political spectrum, that raises a challenge we must meet. It's simply no good parping like sheep that Corbyn is wrong; we must recognise our failure to regulate the effects of globalism and the power of corporatism, the failures of managerialism and the bleeding of the benefits of capitalism away from the vast majority of people in this country. In short we must take democratic action that reboots capitalism, and not allow Corbyn to destroy it.

Now Liam isn't quite as radical as we are - he recommends limited competition action against the oligopolies most disbenefitting the young
Very few policymakers I know acknowledge or even understand the issues I’ve just described. One who does is Andrew Tyrie, the former Tory MP who is now chairman of the Competition and Markets Authority. Last week, Tyrie gave an important speech pointing to “fragile public confidence in the benefits of market competition”. UK competition law currently “falls short of what consumers are entitled to expect”, he told the Social Market Foundation. Tyrie talked of “price discrimination against the vulnerable in energy, insurance and other essential services”.....

Every now and then, if capitalism is to survive, its supporters must overhaul the rules to tip the balance of power away from overbearing, all-powerful corporate lobbies and back towards ordinary people.

Today is such a time.
It's a decent start.