February 24, 2017

After the by-elections

It's a funny old political world. Of course the two by-elections didn't change views of Jeremy Corbyn. Yet he remains a puzzle. How can someone who has been an MP for so many years be so ineffectual, bumbling and useless?

Okay he was never remotely able enough for even the most junior ministerial office, but as a full-time backbencher he was in a position to watch the most effective political operators of his day, and learn from them. But he seems to have learned precisely nothing. A Labour MP who left his front bench (and there are plenty of them) claimed Corbyn is vain. That is to overrate him. He's just thick. Even thicker than Harriet Harman. That's quite something.

Ann Widdecombe spent last night on This Week exhorting Theresa May to be radical in tackling big domestic issues, and not get caught up in Brexit and neglect them, though her radicalism seemed to consist of a call for some grand conversation about the NHS leading to an agreed solution for its problems. Disappointingly vacuous. Michael Portillo suggested that the only Conservative who could drive a genuine reform agenda was Michael Gove, which certainly seems right.

The only way towards a broad reform agenda would be to appoint Mr Gove as Deputy Prime Minister with an oversight of domestic issues. But Mrs May and her staff of control freaks probably couldn't live with that.

In any case, why should Gray May take the risk? Fiddling ineffectually - her style, as she showed at the Home Office - has brought her a 16 point lead over Labour. Politically, then, why would she implement bold policies aimed at actually tackling problems? Governing boldly is beyond her, but her timidity and lack of imagination are working for her politically.

And so to UKIP. Nuttall had an awful campaign, and has rightly been described on Twitter as "soiled goods". He has rightly been jeered at. He should not stand again in any constituency any time soon.

UKIP's problem is that politically Mrs May has shot their Brexit fox. Leave voters aren't going to vote UKIP out of a sense of gratitude.

UKIP will have to earn votes. That will come through good local people with strong local knowledge advocating a well known set of national policies. Ben Kelly argues that UKIP will fade away into irrelevance, and he may be right.

Given the mess that Corbyn is creating in Labour, time seems to be on UKIP's side. They need to create a set of clear, substantial policies which they can repeat over and over again, at national and at local level. Their candidates need to be not some underpowered carpetbagger, but people with strong local knowledge.

Again and again Stoke voters asked what Nuttall would do for Stoke, and indeed what he knew of Stoke. The answer was not very much.

In itself the Stoke seat is no great loss. Boundary changes are due to reduce the three Stoke seats to two, so the winner may have little political future.

Behind the scenes, maybe the thinkers in UKIP will see the Stoke result as a blessing, since it has shown everyone how useless Nuttall is as a candidate at an early stage. His role now must be to encourage his central policymakers, and nurture any promising local candidates he can find. This collegiate approach is something he should be good at, certainly better than his egomaniac predecessor, who never saw any limelight he didn't want all to himself.

We need an effective Opposition. Can Labour turn itself round? Maybe by splitting - it has some able politicians on its backbenches, even if some of them are sanctimonious moralists. Or will Labour's disintegration continue? If so, can UKIP mend its ways and start to become a wee bit professional? Unlike Ben Kelly, I wouldn't rule it out. But I certainly wouldn't bet on it.

February 23, 2017

Oh no, so called child refugees again

So the tedious, sanctimonious whingeing about "child refugees" has started again in the Commons.

Who believes that unaccompanied children managed to trudge across Europe in numbers?

Never mind that refugees are supposed to claim sanctuary in the first safe country they reach.

Never mind that these refugees are claiming sanctuary in a country they haven't even reached.

And never mind that some of the "children" in the first group looked distinctly grown up. Indeed, their appearance proved so embarrassing for the government that they erected barriers to stop us, the taxpayers from seeing who was being admitted - without any age checks - which, it was said, would have been intrusive.

And never mind that the local authorities to whose care they are consigned are chronically short of funds for social care of our own citizens.

Sanctimonious Labour MPs like Little Miss Prim Yvette Cooper call for more money to be spent on this highly dubious project (where is it to come from?), which will encourage more people to chance their luck.

These MPs are spendthrift do-gooders with no sense of priorities. They came into public life to lecture us about their superior virtue, and to take away our money to spend in dubious ways that they snootily consider worthy.

February 18, 2017

Trump's truths about Europe

EU bigwigs are circling the wagons in response to arrows from America. But the Europeans' response is risible.

In a speech which Mike Pence had to sit through - it's not all fun being Trump's Vice President - Merkel implicitly accepted Trump's charge that Germany benefits from a euro which is valued lower than the D-Mark would be. But it's not our fault, she says, as she washes her hands. Not at all. Berlin has no power to address this "problem" because monetary policy is set by the independent European Central Bank (ECB).

What a shame. How sad.

And what do you know, the ECB tailors its policy to the euro economies that are weaker than Germany's (i.e. practically all of them). No mention of the size of that persistent German trade surplus, of course, which is illegal under eurozone rules but which the eurozone oddly never addresses. Meanwhile, Germany's eurozone companions continue to suffer. They could leave at any time, but it isn't even like an open prison - they checked themselves in in the first place. It's more like a decaying but ruinously expensive hotel, with a splendid, luxury wing reserved for just one guest.

America is also reminding Europe of the commitment it made to spend 2% of GDP on defence. The UK probably doesn't reach this any more, and it's not as if Fallon is a doughty champion of the armed forces (or indeed of anything).

The EU response to America is that foreign aid should be counted as part of defence spending because it stabilises the world. Yes, they are really saying that.

So we can help to neutralise threats from Russia or North Korea by giving aid to Africa to help them combat fictitious runaway global warming? Is this really the best that EU bigwigs can come up with?

Defence is defence. On this, and on the euro exchange rate, Trump has only said what analysts have been saying for years, but politicians have been too timid to admit. Much safer for them to say nothing, cross their fingers, and hope nothing spectacularly bad happens on their watch.

On these two issues the Trump regime is right. And the eurocrats are hunkering down, hoping reality will pass and they can go back to life in La La Land.

February 17, 2017

The dishonesty of Tony Blair

Blair has lost his magnetism, he is past his sell  by date. Anyone who follows politics even slightly knows he has been enriching himself giving advice to bloodthirsty dictators. But he still thinks we will follow him to his promised land of the EU.
How hideously, in this debate, is the mantle of patriotism abused. We do not argue for Britain in Europe because we are citizens of nowhere. We argue for it precisely because we are proud citizens of our country who believe that in the 21st Century, we should maintain our partnership with the biggest political union and largest commercial market right on our doorstep; not in diminution of our national interest, but in satisfaction of it.
With utter cynicism Blair redefines the Brexit question. If we stayed in the EU, we would not have a partnership with the political union, we would be part of it. Indeed, it is only by leaving that political union that we can, if we wish, then have a partnership.

Similarly, you cannot have a partnership with a market that you are part of. If you are outside the organisation, then you can choose to have a partnership with it ... whatever that weasel phrase means. Or not.

And he arbitrarily claims that the immigration most people are worried about is the immigration from the outside the EU. He has no evidence for this at all, but then he makes the circular argument that "Brexit doesn't affect the immigration people most care about".

So Blair has chosen to take a stand against the democratic verdict of the referendum, alongside the discredited Nick Clegg and that political colossus Tim Farron.

Iain Duncan Smith dismissively says, "I suppose he learnt this disregard for democracy over the last few years from the friends he was advising in Kazakhstan".

Well, quite. Leavers should be happy to have the dishonest Blair opposing us.

February 16, 2017

Time to stop all Green spending

What do we make of this?
For sure no one knows where the graph will go next.

But does it justify increasing people's energy bills by a third? Where is the global warming which our foreign aid budget is supposedly helping poorer countries to avoid?

What measures does this justify in policy terms?

Bear in mind that Scientific Consensus forecasts have all been wrong. They have all run too hot. So we can't use them as a basis for policymaking. That would be irrational.

More importantly, these elite policies with no basis in scientific observations are costing ordinary voters significant sums of money, year in and year out. And for what?

For no benefit at all.

Time to stop all Green spending.

February 09, 2017

Who will rid us of the Green Scam?

Established politicians like to work within the order they find. It makes life easier for them, and they can concentrate on the few changes they want to make within the existing set-up. It's manageable.

One of the things that makes Trump different is his willingness to look with a fresh eye. He can be like the boy who cried out that the emperor had no clothes.

Thus he has criticised Germany for running a persistent trade surplus with other EU countries, which is against the rules of the eurozone. Germany goes untouched, however. As Andrew Neil tweets:
Germany now running largest current account surplus in world (yes, bigger than China's). Will not go unnoticed in White House.
Let us hope Trump will also call out Green scaremongering for the scam it is. Matt Ridley points out that
The satellite data sets, which are the least adjusted, continue to show 2016's temperature as being statistically no warmer than 1998's and continue to show very slow to no warming over 19 years.
Problem? What problem?

Yet politicians tiptoe around this. They have enough on their plate handling events that fly at them, without provoking mass indignation by calling out a false article of faith held widely by the establishment.

(To be willing to do that, you have to be a Margaret Thatcher. Even she ducked reforming the NHS - as have successive governments. And Cameron was clearly more comfortable with minimal change in the NHS and education, rather than committing to reforms which would meet entrenched opposition.)

So the Green Scare has no clothes. And yet in the UK green policies are accounting for more than a third of electricity bills.

Political establishments are willing slaves to failed, harmful orthodoxies. We deserve better than politicians who are fulfilled by Just Managing.

UKIP challenged the pro-EU political consensus that had lasted for years.

Let's have some plain spoken disruption. Call out the Green Scam for what it is.