THERE WON’T BE A GENERAL ELECTION.

 

 

REMEMBER THE TRUTH ABOUT TURKEYS AND CHRISTMAS

 

There is much idle talk amongst political commentators about a General Election being just around the corner. Why would the Conservatives, who have just been caught out badly with an unnecessary election, risk another one? In May Labour appeared to be way behind in the polls, now they are level pegging and would probably emerge the largest party.

The argument goes that the Tories would have to hold an election if they changed Prime Minister. This is nonsense. Mrs May is looking more confident and cheerful since her coughing fit in Manchester. It wouldn’t surprise me if she sacks Boris Johnson and Phil Hammond in a reshuffle. But let us suppose for a moment that the Grant Shapps of this world haven’t gone away and force a leadership election. In my view the next Tory Prime Minister takes office and carries on. There is no constitutional requirement to go to the country, nor is there any precedent since 1955 when Eden took over from Churchill and went straight into a General Election.

Since then there have been four occasions when the Prime Minister has changed during a parliament. In 1963 Lord Home (the Jacob Rees Mogg of his day) succeeded Harold Macmillan and waited for the scheduled General Election in 1964. Jim Callaghan took over from Harold Wilson in 1976 and served for three years till defeated in a vote of no confidence. John Major succeeded Margaret Thatcher in 1990 and served out the rest of her term before winning the scheduled election in 1992. The Prime Minister most under pressure to seek a fresh mandate was Gordon Brown, but in 2007 he finally decided not to risk it.

Some say the Democratic Unionist Party will renounce their deal with the Tories if the Brexit negotiations require the island of Ireland to be treated as one entity for customs purposes. Possibly, but when will things ever be so good for the DUP again? It will be a long time before they get a billion pounds from a British political party again.

I expect this government to totter on hopelessly divided on Brexit and incapable of a proper negotiation with the European Union. Hopefully there will be a massive change in public opinion on leaving the EU. Then all bets will be off for the future shape of politics in Britain.

THE CATALONIA CONUNDRUM.

I normally have a settled opinion on most political issues but the Catalonia demand for independence really leaves me hopelessly on the fence.

I believe in a European Union where the regions of individual countries have powerful devolved government to bring decision making close to the people and to tackle inequalities like the North South divide. That is why I believed in John Prescott’s model of development agencies held accountable by assemblies.

But regional government should be about those principles of more equal wealth distribution within countries. The Catalan region is the wealthiest in Spain and many supporters of independence don’t want to share their prosperity with poorer areas. In Italy the Northern League has the same attitude to the south of their country.

One thing I am sure of is that using violence against the Catalan people or suspending their devolved powers will solve nothing.

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MAY TO LAST TWO YEARS ?

 

 

WHO WANTS THE JOB NOW ?

Theresa May could remain as Prime Minister for at least two years. Does Boris Johnson, David Davis or most likely someone we’ve never considered really want the job at the moment ?

The Brexit talks will be long, tiring and are very unlikely to end well. There will be vicious recriminations from both sides in two years’ time. The hard Brexitiers are already expecting betrayal. The open Brexitiers won’t satisfy us Remainers even if they get some compromise on the single market and customs union. Whoever is Prime Minister in March 2019 will not receive the plaudits of a grateful nation but will be blamed as the country expels itself from the European Union in economic uncertainty and mutual recrimination.

So, it looks as if Mrs May will stagger through with the help of her friends from the Democratic Unionist Party. Jim Callaghan survived in minority government for three years in the seventies as did John Major when the Tory Euro rebels made life hell for him. How right Lord Heseltine is, Europe is the cancer at the heart of the Conservative Party.

There is talk of an all-party effort to try and reach consensus on what Britain wants in the Brexit talks. I think it unlikely Labour will enter that trap partly because hard left politicians never like to do deals with Tories and because Labour’s position on Brexit is confused. The party needs to realise that a lot of their new young supporters would prefer to stay in the EU. In these fluid times Kier Starmer, the able Shadow Minister for Exiting the EU should position the party so that if it becomes clear to most people that Brexit isn’t going to work, Labour can say that whilst they respected the 2016 vote, circumstances have changed so much that another vote is needed. This could provide the basis for a popular alliance when the next election comes.

FIRST PAST THE POST STRONG AND STABLE?

Once again, our first past the post (FPTP) system has thrown up monstrous unfairness with the SDP being generously rewarded with 35 seats for a million votes and the Green Party getting just one for their half million votes.

The Conservatives are the greatest defenders of FPTP saying it gives us stable government. Well that’s been blown out of the water by the 2010 and 2017 results.

The Tories would have won if just 401 more people had voted for them. They lost four seats by less than 31 and another four by less than 250. So, bring on those boundary changes! Remember the constituency boundary map was going to be redrawn for 2020 and would have helped the Tories. An election pundit friend of mine said it was “madness” for the Conservatives to go to the country again on boundaries containing undersized Labour seats.

The problem now is will Mrs May dare propose the changes in next week’s Queen’s Speech or will it be ditched like most of the manifesto.

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LAUGHING STOCK OF EUROPE.

 

THE WRECKERS: CAMERON AND MAY

 

David Cameron and Theresa May have reduced this country to a laughing stock in Europe. From being a leading member of an organisation of 500 million people, we are now reduced to being a disorganised beggar pleading for reasonable terms to leave.

Cameron called the referendum for narrow party advantage to fend off UKIP. May invented fictional opposition to her Brexit strategy to call an election when we all knew it was about hammering a Corbyn led Labour Party. They should never be forgiven for these actions.

I would like to claim that this result shows that the British people are thinking again about their decision to leave the EU, but voters have turned in greater numbers to Labour, who support Brexit, than the Lib Dems who offered a second referendum.

It is a fluid picture as I write but what sort of UK delegation will turn up in Brussels in a week’s time? The 27 are ready with their terms. What are ours apart from the fatuous mantra mouthed by the discredited May that “Brexit means Brexit”?

I suspect we will hear less insults hurled at our European friends as they present the departure bill and as the extraordinary complexity and difficulty of leaving the EU in these political circumstances become obvious even to Nigel Farage.

AUSTERITY BACKLASH: BUSINESS IMPLICATIONS.

Business was either ignored or threatened with higher taxes by all parties in this election. The fact that we have a huge deficit was also not discussed as we listened to a welter of promises of increased spending by all parties.

Jeremy Corbyn confounded my predictions as he benefited from a backlash against austerity, a poor Tory campaign and a surge of young voters. They were frustrated last year when the old took away their future in Europe and were determined to have a say this time.

But amid the Corbyn euphoria let us remember this is Labour’s third election defeat. They are still well behind the Conservatives in number of seats. Corbyn is claiming that he has reframed British politics. He means that there is an appetite for a high tax, big spending unilateralist government. I don’t believe it. This may be the maximum vote a fully socialist manifesto can achieve but Labour moderates are now trapped with Jeremy Corbyn as leader.

The net result is uncertainty at Westminster and uncertainty in the Brexit talks. The Confederation of British Industry chief, Carolyn Fairburn, said she was stunned.

LIB DEMS AND SNP.

The Lib Dems are in slow recovery. Tim Farron failed to sell the second referendum effectively and lacked the gravitas required. Vince The Cable is back in the Commons and should become leader.

One certainty in an uncertain world is that Scotland will remain in the UK. I’m a big admirer of Nicola Sturgeon but she misread the Scots appetite for a second referendum

“NOT ANOTHER ONE”!

I recall the famous Bristol lady’s reaction to May’s calling of this snap election as I wonder what her reaction would be to another General Election in the autumn.

There is already talk of another poll to achieve a government with an overall majority. I think that would be very unpopular with people who in various parts of the UK have been voting continuously since 2014.

Also let us remember 1974. The voters delivered a hung parliament in February and changed their mind very little in October when they gave Labour a majority of three. We have to try and make this awkward result work.

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FINAL SURGE TO MAY ?

 

THE LAST LAP.

The Prime Minister didn’t expect it to turn out this way when she called her snap election in April. The campaign was meant to deliver her a majority of 100+ so that she could go and sock it to those arrogant Europeans.

In fact, there has been very little discussion about what sort of deal we might get from the EU negotiations. We can’t get past the slogans of hard and soft Brexit. That’s deliberate as Mrs May wants to go off for two years negotiating with little challenge from a parliament with a thumping Tory majority. Her speech in the North East on Thursday, specifically on Brexit, clarified little.

Unfortunately for her other issues have intruded into the campaign. Tragically terrorism and security came to the fore after the Manchester outrage, but also the future funding of social care. She came a cropper on this issue and there seems to be a lot of support for a general sharing of the cost of care above £72,000.

Then there’s Jeremy Corbyn who has campaigned well with policies that are individually popular. Also, bullying questions from Jeremy Paxman and daily vilification in the Tory press have provoked a closing of the polls.

All that said I think wider truths will bring a Conservative majority of around 50 next Thursday. Labour cannot be serious in asking the British people to elect as Prime Minister a man with an ambiguous attitude to IRA terrorism. Also, nobody believes Jeremy Corbyn would ever launch our nuclear weapons. He has very honourable feelings about the issue, but the whole concept of deterrence would be undermined with Corbyn in No 10. Personally disorganised, he does not have a credible team of Shadow Ministers around him to form a government.

Perhaps reluctantly the British people will elect Theresa May hoping that she can display the strong and stable qualities that she has not projected during this campaign

THE NORTHERN BATTLEFIELD.

So, which seats should we be watching out for in Downtown areas of the North? The gloomiest of Labour insiders think any seat with less than a 10,000 majority is potentially vulnerable to the Tories. Those would include Huddersfield (welcome back to the Premier League by the way), Leeds North East, Lancashire West and Ellesmere Port and Neston. In relation to the latter I have picked up strange rumours that Justin Madders with a six thousand majority could be in more trouble than Chris Matheson in neighbouring Chester on ninety-three.

If we come on to constituencies with a Labour majority of less than 5000 they include the popular Deputy Speaker of the Commons, Lyndsay Hoyle, in Chorley, Bolton North East which is being heavily targeted, Wakefield and Wirral South where Alison McGovern is putting up a determined fight.

Right in the front line is Chester which I have already mentioned. The city is on the up, symbolised by the recent opening of the brilliant Storyhouse theatre complex. The seat went against the trend of the Cameron victory in 2015. Could it possibly stay Labour this time? Nearby another constituency that went against the trend was Wirral West. The 417 Labour majority should be overwhelmed by the able and popular Tory candidate, Tony Caldeira.

Other seats held on slim majorities by Labour include Lancaster and Fleetwood. The incumbent, Cat Smith, is a big Corbyn supporter which certainly can’t be said of John Woodcock in Barrow. His leader’s views on nuclear weapons are toxic in the submarine building town which went Tory in 1983 when Michael Foot was in charge of Labour.

I had hoped the Lib Dems would do well with their promise of a second EU referendum. It appears they have been squeezed as people polarise between Labour and the Conservatives. This means the Lib Dems are unlikely to reclaim Burnley or Cheadle. Indeed, they look likely to lose Southport where they only have a 3% majority over the Conservatives and have been damaged by the decision of the long serving MP John Pugh to retire.

FINAL THOUGHT.

Might this happen on Thursday night?

BONG

It’s ten o’clock and the BBC predicts the Conservatives have won the General Election with a comfortable majority.

BONG.

Jeremy Corbyn vows to fight on for socialism.

BONG

Tony Blair and Nick Clegg announce the launch of a new centre party for Britain.

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