Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Snap Election

I had been wondering for some time just how much longer Prime Minister Theresa May could put off seeking a snap General Election in the wake of all the derailing threats that other parties were making in the Commons, more especially in the Lords, and elsewhere in the country regarding the Brexit process. Although I wasn't exactly expecting it to happen, I had been watching daily for signs of a change of heart from the PM's previous position.

It has now happened, in a clear-cut case of cause-and-effect. If the others had not behaved as they did (and still are) then this would not have become necessary. It is as simply and correctly stated as that. The election will be held on 8 June, just seven weeks from tomorrow.

Because of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, this has necessitated a Motion to be voted on in the House of Commons, and Royal assent after that. The first hurdle was completed a few hours ago as I write this, with well over 500 MPs agreeing to the General Election, and just 13 (nine of them Labour) MPs voting against. This comfortably exceeds the requirement of at least 2/3 of the full House assenting – the minimum thus being 434 out of the 650.

The general assumption is that the Conservatives will hugely increase their majority, which was just 12 seats after the previous election. I believe top psephologist Michael Thrasher (of Thrasher & Rallings fame) anticipates an overall majority of something like 120 or so. My own estimate, just for the record, is 165 plus-or-minus 9% of that figure: in effect, between 150 and 180.

A new spanner in the works, though – if it goes ahead – is a move to create an 'unholy alliance' of main opposition parties (Labour Lib Dems, SNP, perhaps Green) to field just one cross-party candidate in each target Conservative seat, so that all the non-Conservative votes will (they think) go to that candidate. As many Conservative MPs were elected with less than 50% of the actual vote, this suggests that the one significant opponent could take the seat, ultimately depriving Mrs May of an overall majority.

Thus goes the theory, demonstrating one-dimensional thinking in the process. Of course we can ignore fringe candidates like the perennial 'Save the NHS' and others of a similar nature, as well as the likes of TUSC and the always-entertaining Official Monster Raving Looney participants. This is nitty-gritty stuff. On the other hand, there is also UKIP, but their influence is waning.

If this scheme should go ahead, it makes two fatal errors: (1) that the electorate will vote the same way they did last time, or in the current polls, polarised into voting for any candidate who is not-Conservative regardless of party designation. The news is that they will not: people are already declaring wholesale that they will vote Conservative this time. Number (2) is the same for UKIP voters from last time and who have stated so to pollsters: they too are switching in large numbers to the Blue candidate.

Thus such an approach seems likely (I think certain) to fail; and if anything it will probably result in Mrs May gaining an even larger overall majority than my seemingly optimistic estimate. I say 'estimate' because – as those who have followed my prediction will know by now – I don't make any firm predictions until I know who is on the ballot paper, the day the Statements of Persons Nominated are published.

That is how I have been able to be so devastatingly accurate in the past…

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Reckless Abandon

The news today is that Mark Reckless – once upon a time Conservative MP for near-to-me Rochester & Strood constituency, who then switched party to UKIP – has now resigned from that party too. Just like his friend of many years, Douglas Carswell MP, he is now sitting as an Independent, though he is no longer an MP but a member of the Welsh Assembly.

Somewhat like the European Parliament, Assembly Members (AMs) can sit with a particular political grouping if they wish, and if they are accepted, and it appears that Mark R. will be sitting with the Conservative Group in that structure. As far as I am aware, he has not re-joined his original party, and I don't think they would want him – at least not unless and until he has demonstrated true loyalty to them this time, I can well imagine.

This is quite possibly what this 'grouping' move is intended to demonstrate over time, in the hope that he will be invited back in a year or two. It could be that he wants to be an MP again, and sees no chance of that happening if he had stayed within UKIP. Not only was he unlikely to be selected as a candidate (because he was not much liked within that party) but recent election results – including the by-election a few weeks ago where their leader Paul Nuttall stood and failed to take the seat, carrying on the tradition of his predecessor – show that the party is unable to win seats.

With opinion poll figures for UKIP showing a downward trend for a long time now, and vote share in by-elections dropping hugely, the writing was on the wall: there is seemingly no electoral future in UKIP. This surely at least partly explains why both Douglas and Mark have now left the party, and at this specific time. The official line is that with the triggering of Article 50, their work within UKIP is now complete. It's plausible, though I am sceptical.

That event did provide a convenient excuse on the occasion of this second resignation – but it does not account for the timing of the Carswell departure, which was a little before that date, in a kind of 'no man's land' on the political calendar – and the two departures must be viewed together, just as their both joining UKIP was staggered just weeks apart, and of course because of their long friendship.

Overall, I don't see today's change making much difference to anyone outside Wales, and probably very little change there either. I shall keep a weather eye on what develops over time; but that, I think, is all it warrants.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

All's Well That's Carswell – or is it?

News today that Douglas Carswell – the original Conservative sitting-MP defector to UKIP – has left that party comes as little surprise: pundits and commentators have been expecting it for some time. He will now sit as an Independent.

Thus UKIP, which has never has had one of its own people elected to the House of Commons, has gone from no MPs to one (defector), and then to two with the second defection by Mark Reckless shortly after, then back to one a mere six months later, and now zero again, less than two years after the last General Election.

The timing of this move is interesting, coming as it does at a slightly odd time. Douglas states his reason as being the completion of the mission to leave the EU – but we haven't yet done so. Article 50 is to be triggered just four days from now, so if that was the reason why didn't he at least wait until then? The Referendum was held months ago, so that wasn't the cause either.

Apparently he has been liaising with senior Conservatives with the apparent aiming of rejoining his former party. I don't think that would go down well among the party's rank and file membership, and is something that I'd recommend be seriously pursued.

ANother ingredient in the mix is the possible imminent launch of UKIP big sponsor Arron Banks' new party, provisionally called the Patriotic Alliance. The feeling I get with that, though, is that he might be even less welcome there than back in the Conservative fold. I could be wrong.

In recent days, though, yet another movement has surfaced: this appears to be some kind of 'New UKIP'. While that is probably a dead-end route (the analogy of stopping digging when you're already in a hole of your own making springs to mind) it might provide a new home for Douglas C. I have no idea if that is even on his radar, but as mere speculation it is worth airing as one of the possibilities.

Behind all of this, though, I suspect is the realisation that UKIP – which I have long stated is a dead end – is dying, as polls and by-elections have been clearly showing. Here's Britain Elects' poll-of-polls graph covering the period since the May 2015 General Election…



The UKIP polling support is clearly moribund, with the resurgent Liberal Democrats looking set to overtake them shortly. This has been borne out in a large number of by-election results in recent months, mostly council seats but still telling a strong story. UKIP votes have been slashed from the previous election in many of the contested seats, down to between a third and a half of their former vote share.

I watch these closely, and every week (Thursday night & Friday morning) you'll find the results with my comments re-tweeted on my Twitter timeline. The writing is now very clearly on the wall – and perhaps this is indeed the best time to get out and make oneself nominally available to any suitably-positioned new movement that could do with having on board an established political figure to give it some weight.

That could well be the calculation at work here.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

No More Kipping

The creation of a new political party by Arron Banks – long anticipated by some including myself (as I have mentioned before) – seems to have taken a step forward today, with the suspension of Mr Banks from UKIP. This was (he says) because of something he recently said about UKIP.

Now, this is a promising move, if it is handled in the right way. I have been saying (and showing) for some time that UKIP was always a dead end – and it has been proven true. I'd venture to suggest that a considerable majority of the electorate also now realise this.

Despite the boost given to them by certain pundits, movers & shakers, and being gifted votes as a protest party, their core vote was usually in single figures (I estimate 6% to 8% tops) as has been shown consistently in opinion polls and in particular in more recent actual elections, whether council or parliamentary. Note that each party has a core vote that will probably never change, plus other more fluid 'floating' votes, so the core forms just part of the polling/voting figure.

Most notably, the UKIP vote has in the majority of cases dropped hugely since the previous election in that seat, typically down to just a third to a half of the percentage vote they had the last time. I watch this every week, and tweet all the results, so they can be found on my Twitter feed.

So: what about this new party, then? I'd welcome it, because it is about time that the deadwood were to be cleared out from our nation's political scene – and that means Labour and the Greens, along with TUSC, as well as UKIP. None of them offers any real value in twenty-first century politics.

So far there are two problems with what has emerged today: Arron Banks seems to be thinking of it as a Mark Two version of UKIP, which would be the wrong approach. It has to be something new and fresh, not modelled on what has gone before, otherwise it will almost certainly mutate over a few years into being in the same situation as UKIP is today, and will never generate sufficient public confidence to become viable. They'll prefer the devil they already know.

The second issue is the likelihood of Nigel Farage being pushed to be its leader. Again, this will lead to the same kinds of difficulties that UKIP had for years in that it will become the Nigel Show all over again – a 'cult of personality'. That is not what is needed. Hopefully Farage's Trump association will lead to a full-time occupation on that side of the Atlantic, which will thus help save the new venture here if it should go ahead.

I wish such a new party well, especially if it does result in the dross vanishing from the scene. It could (and should) be much healthier for British politics, both nationally and (over a longer period) locally too. It just needs to be done right, from the launch onward, and all should be set fair to raise the bar hugely over the next few years.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Weaponising

I have touched on this previously, here and elsewhere, in the context of Labour Motions to Council – but it is much broader than that. This is the matter of weaponising an issue – or even a non-issue that is manufactured into a weapon that can be used to raise the party's profile and/or support, or be aimed against their political opponents, or (ideally) all of those!

It isn't only Labour that do this: the entirety of the Green party's existence is dependent upon weaponising environmental matters (including a lot of pseudo-science and other fakery) in order to impose their Communist-style policies of tax-and-regulation (i.e. theft and oppression) on us all.

This, though, is why the most visible aspects of Labour's activities are all over the place – what I call 'grasshopper politics' – as the only topics that matter to them are those that play to their lust for power and ways of achieving that. Okay, sometimes they have to 'play the game' and express a view on other matters (though they usually still play politics with them where possible) but with little enthusiasm.

One place you can always depend on finding Labour activists, including elected members, is on marches and similar – including today's NHS-supporting rally in London. Some of our local Labour councillors actually boasted that they would be there, as they always do. Hardly surprising, of course, as this is the most heavily weaponised issue in Britain today, even though Labour's position is entirely dependent upon deception and outright dishonesty.

Equally unsurprising is that this event was called and organised by one of the big trades unions, and in particular by its General Secretary – Dave Prentis of Unison. There is lots I could write about that, but it's all public knowledge nowadays and much more widely known than when I started discussing the big union 'barons' a few years ago, when few folk realised just how much the whole movement had already been subverted to Communist manipulations.

The lesson from all of this, though, is to watch what they do, and how every new subject that comes seemingly out of the blue is used by the Lefties in exactly the same manner as their traditional 'weaponised' topics, including groups of people – at least while they are of use to Labour et al.

Once upon a time that included blue collar workers, but they have generally outlived their usefulness so were dropped by Blair, and that changed situation maintained within the Labour leadership to this very day, as has been widely reported.

It is thus instructive to become aware of how public opinion and the political landscape are being manipulated entirely to serve party political ends, and have nothing to do with serving the public interest. After all, with so much attention being concentrated on minor issues such as Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (a recent 'big issue' with Labour all around the country) it means that big, important matters are being sidelined by that party.

I know from my own experience as an elected member on a Council, and from my decades in the Civil Service and other sources/inputs, just how little the Left serve the nation's interests and how much they try to block and generally oppose those of us who did and those who still do, if it serves their own purposes.

They always but ALWAYS put their own interests first, even if they are very clever at disguising that fact.