24 December 2019

Christmas 2019

In what has been a turbulent and frankly unpleasant year in many regards, where dodgy political leadership dominates in many countries and the opposition to it is often nearly as bad, it can become rather easy to lose hope of things ever improved.

This is where my faith in Jesus helps. The Bible foretells of a time when tears will end, suffering will cease and justice will be given for all. Those who have caused so many of the problems that we face today will have to face judgement. I'm looking at you, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping.

The good - and getting that status is easy than you might think - will get their just reward in paradise.

That is one thought that keeps me getting up in the morning. Another is that while I can't solve all the world's problems, I can help where I reasonably can.

So, help where you can. It will be appreciated one way or another.

Merry Christmas and I wish you a lovely New Year.

21 December 2019

The next five years

Boris Johnson, after his emphatic win eight days ago, is secure in power for the next five years bar anything major happening in the Jennifer Acuri department or something that we can't yet see coming.

Johnson's coalition is reliant on a range of groups, including ex-Labour working class voters in the North; they switched en masse in the election and could just as easily switch back for a good Labour leader.

Unfortunately, I am not sure that Labour is going to end with a good leader; they may well try 'Corbynism without Corbyn' and without him for the media to pounce on, the policies might be subjected to more scrutiny instead. Many of them are popular, but a large feast of goodies was seemingly not.

The big question is Brexit. The Withdrawal Agreement will get through mostly intact - there will likely be some minor amendments during the course of passage; the Lords might want to add some bits that Johnson will accept to get the bill through by 31 January.

We will leave in an orderly manner then. The trade deal will the next more difficult stage. The EU holds most of the cards here; a No Deal would be far worse for us than for the remaining 27 members of the EU.

I personally expect a lot of noisy in public negotiations over the course of 2020, resulting in something that Johnson will call a deal, but will in reality be a very much interim agreement with more difficult issues punted until later on.

Free movement will end, of course, and the UK will move to the ETIAS visa waiver programme. I will almost certainly get a ETIAS waiver on a standing basis as soon as I can. I strongly suspect there will be real difficulty filling jobs in some sectors with British workers; our culture of handing off 'dirty jobs' to other people that frankly goes back to the British Empire is coming back to bite us in the proverbial backside.

Rejoining? Not before 2040 at the earliest and certainly not as a UK.

Scotland will likely be refused a second referendum in this parliament, but come 2024, the SNP will make it a condition of any support for a Labour minority government... if there is indeed a hung parliament.

14 December 2019

History doesn't repeat, but it rhymes: Analysis of the 2019 General Election

The biggest Conservative win since 1987 has secured Boris Johnson his place in history. He will, for whatever happens after, be the person who takes Britain out of the European Union at the end of January. For all the incompetence, venality, lies and outright dodgy behaviour was not enough to stop him from romping home.

There are a number of reasons why this happened and a lot of them ultimately boil down to Jeremy Corbyn, along with his top team. In no particular order:
  1. The utter gridlock and paralysis of the House of Commons in the last Parliament provided a powerful enemy for Johnson to use on the campaign trial.
  2. 'Get Brexit Done' is a powerful and basic slogan that is easily understood. 'For The Many, Not The Few' needs explanation as to who is who... and tends to put off the self-defined few.
  3. The media were hostile against Corbyn, yes. However, Corbyn made no serious attempt to persuade them to his way of thinking, instead railing against them, which doesn't tend to make someone like you. Hostility against the Labour Party by the British press is a fact of life and a better leader could have dealt with it.
  4. Labour made gaffe after gaffe over the last few years that could have been easily avoided, Diane Abbott being a case in point. This handed the media ammunition to use against Labour.
  5. The vile behaviour of Corbyn's 'outriders' towards anyone who did not bow down and worship the Dear Leader was more ammo for the media. It put a lot of moderates off voting Labour and of course led to a slew of defections. Insulting potential voters never works.
  6. Antisemitism: this not only hit Labour with the Jewish vote, but gave major ammo to the media and trickled through to others who found the whole thing deeply repulsive, myself included. Also Jews are seen as far more integrated into British society than Muslims and Islamophobia more acceptable, alas.
  7. All the defectors lost their seats. Change UK failed to define itself quickly enough, didn't have any clear policies and then split before it could do anything useful. It was an utter failure, which is a pity.
  8. The Lib Dems had a leader tainted by her involvement in the coalition, lack of decent headline policies and as they were seen as unlikely to win in many seats, Remain voters went for tactical voting instead.
  9. Labour's Brexit policy was too slow in developing and even then wasn't clear. Corbyn's failure to take a clear stance managed to annoy both Leavers and Remainers.
  10. There was no serious attempt by Labour to form any Remain Alliance; it was 'my way or the highway'. Now we have crossed the bridge of Brexit.
  11. Labour's policies failed to acknowledge the real aspirations of many to become wealthy. They were also a whole litany of shopping items that couldn't be boiled down into a single poster.
  12. Corbyn had a metric tonne of baggage that could be used against him relating to the IRA and Islamic terrorism. It was highly prone to misinterpretation at best.
Where we go from here is the subject of further posts; I will do those at a later point.

13 December 2019

General Election 2019 - Results

I'm going to do a fuller post in this when I'm less sleep deprived, but my reaction to the exit poll was "Woah!".

My thought this morning is that a lot of people need to get out of their echo chambers more, because in retrospect, this was pretty obvious.

07 December 2019

General Election 2019 predictions

My 2017 prediction makes for interesting reading now

This prediction is made therefore with little actual confidence.

The question that this election ultimately rests on is whether Conservative gains from Labour in Leave-supporting areas in the North will exceed Conservative losses to the SNP in Scotland and the Lib Dems in Remain-supporting areas in the South of England.

Corbyn is toxic among many voters. Whether the 'smears' are true or false, they have worked and Labour's abysmal handling of antisemitism has not helped in the slightest.

Johnson isn't exactly popular among the wider electorate; I doubt you will get any huge fans of him anywhere. However, his 'Get Brexit Done' message has a certain powerful resonance that Labour's fudge doesn't.

The economy isn't great, but nor has it tipped into recession. "It's the economy, stupid" remains true and while we are likely to have another recession sooner rather than later, Johnson is lucky to have called the election when he did.

So my prediction:

  • Conservative overall majority of under 25, quite possibly under 15.
  • Labour end up going backwards significantly and end up under 250 seats. Corbyn resigns and his replacement will be someone who carries forth a lot of the policies with less of the baggage.
  • The Lib Dems will significant vote share gains, but barely any seat gains. 
  • The Brexit Party will lose a bucket load of deposits.
  • All the defectors and independents will lose their seats.
  • The Alliance will gain a couple of seats off the DUP in Northern Ireland.
  • We leave the EU on 31 January 2020 and enter the transition period; however, there will not be a 'No Deal' at the end of 2020 - there will be something that Johnson, who may be a coward but isn't that much of an idiot, will call a 'deal'. Trying for 'No Deal' would be politically suicidal and likely stopped by a Commons where 'Leave' means a lot of different things. Free movement will end after 2020, however.
  • 'Austerity' will be officially dead and the Tories will try to repudiate it. What changes they make won't be enough to deal with some pretty major deprivation issues.
  • The Fixed Term Parliament Act will be repealed and replaced with something that eliminates the 2/3 requirement for an early election.