Playing Politics with Tragedy is Beneath Contempt.

Playing Politics with Tragedy is Beneath Contempt.

If we do not learn immediately that politicking with tragedy is beneath contempt then we are heading for a truly dark place where no limits apply and a free for all, at the expense of innocent,victims is the norm.

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Like many people in Britain,and all over the world, I have found it almost impossible not to follow the news in the last 48hrs. The tragedy of Grenfell Tower is deeply shocking and of the type that we hoped was no longer possible. Perhaps naively, it seemed that the days of mass casualties from a building fire were long gone. Although fire, and its dreadful consequences, will always be with us, modern building techniques, fire prevention standards and procedures to deal with emergencies, had seemed to minimise both the number of such fires and the havoc they cause. Wrong.

However, one thing that has proven true is that the combination of demand driven media and the lowering of moral standards in how we conduct our politics, has led to a very disturbing habit, that of instant politicisation of even the gravest disaster. Within hours, of the blaze being reported, lazy assumption were being made, reported and exacerbated across all forms of media available to our modern, connected society. Council cuts and austerity were blame, gentrification was to blame, criminal profiteering was to blame, EU regulations were to blame, Theresa May was to blame, Sadiq Khan was to blame, Boris Johnson was to blame, the cladding company was to blame, building companies were to blame and governments since 1999 were to blame. All this within 48 hrs and all based on snippets of information taken on faith and outside any context whatsoever.

It is one thing for victims, relatives, residents and others affected to be grief striken and furious at such a catastrophic chain of events. This is natural, totally understandable and absolutely right. It is quite another thing for those in the media, politics, activism or groups of interested parties to be whipping up both a storm of protest and offering trite part solutions to problems that may not have had any part to play or may have been only loosly connected.

Jeremy Corbyn had linked the fire to local authority cuts and inequality in the UK within a few hours. This lead to a general outcry that no-one cared about the tower or its residents because they were poor not rich. Various interest groups then jumped on this wagon and attempted to blame, or at least find guilty by omission, just about any politician local or national, that has held any responsibility over the local services, regional services or national law making power since 1999!

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The news media, ever desperate to look both virtuous and caring, rush to pretend to hold power to account. The Daily Mail first rush to blame dodgy businesses and their, luxury dwelling, owners. Then Boris Johnson, who they wish to ensure does not lead the Tory party, for unrelated cuts to fire stations. Sadiq Khan is then in the firing line but this is tactically slanted to imply that the residents are blaming him. The Guardian start to run any number of stories about inequality and neglect of the poor in order to create the narrative that, whatever the actual cause, the real problem is the right-wing of politics and un checked capitalism. The Daily Express decide that the EU must be partly responsible and therefore find a tenuous link to regulation and an unfinished report. The Telegraph decide that it must be excessive Green regulations and begin to build a case against the cladding based on energy efficiency. In short each and every one of our media outlets manages to swing their coverage to fit an agenda and fix the blame for a national tragedy onto whichever hobby-horse they ride on a daily basis.

Theresa May again shows her nervous and awkward nature. Shy of meeting people, and things being out of control, in normal settings our Prime Minister demonstrated that she does not have the full set of requirements for the job. This is not to criticise her other responses to the events which have been largely correct. Her site visit and talks with emergency service personal were right and proper.

The public enquiry must be held and leave no stone unturned in putting together the chain of events that actually caused and exacerbated the charnel house that was Grenfell. The police and fire service enquiries must be allowed to work in their usual methodical and determined way in order to provide evidence for prosecution, if appropriate, and in order that the public enquiry is as fully informed as possible. It should be remembered that the Taylor report into Hillsborough and the Popplewell enquiry into Bradford both identified the causes swiftly and recommended action that was put into place.

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Respect for the dead, and traumatized, must now be the number one priority for everyone dealing with this shocking event. This means that no-one should seek to gain advantage from the inferno itself. Press must restrain themselves from the excesses that have already enraged victims families. Television must resist the urge to show every image and dwell on people’s worst grief-stricken moments. Rabble-rousers in the political arena should reflect upon how the shoe would feel on the other foot.

Of course following the completion of enquiries, and publication of results, politicians and press alike must be free to debate and criticise in the strongest terms. But it must be based on factual evidence and not instant, emotional and heavily biased assumptions. Someone or something is to blame, and it must be someone whose world view is different to mine, is not good enough. causes must be identified, contributory factors must be included and action taken. This action may be against individuals, companies or authorities in the first place. Then laws, or regulations, must be changed, strengthened and vigorously enforced in order that such a monstrosity is not repeated.

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If we do not learn now that politicking with tragedy is beneath contempt then we are heading for a truly dark place where no limits apply and a free for all at the expense of victims is the norm.

The UK’s Only Truly Dangerous Coalition? Remain & Virtual Remain.

The UK’s Only Truly Dangerous Coalition? Remain & Virtual Remain.

Here we go again, almost twelve months have passed since last June’s peaceful revolution. Yet still those on the losing side cannot resist the urge to restrict, delay, distort and flat-out deny that the people of the UK undertook their biggest ever democratic exercise and voted to leave the EU.

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Over the past few years the novelty of coalition government and discussion of future pacts or alliances has led to new some choice new political phrases. Perhaps the most lasting of these has been the “Coalition of Chaos” used by David Cameron’s Conservatives to prevent Ed Miliband’s labour from gaining a majority in 2015. Since then the idea of knocking coalitions in either a dismissive or demonizing way has taken hold. However the actual or proposed coalitions are relatively straight forward and are between groups or parties that share considerable beliefs, policies, philosophies and sometimes historical ties.

Far more insidious, secretive and dangerous is the alliance that exists to subvert or reverse the expressed will of the 2016 referendum. recent reports of Cabinet ministers in the Conservative government conniving with their Labour counterparts, in secret, to bring about a “Soft Brexit” confirm what Leavers have known since June 24th 2016. The reason that Leavers have not always been happy with their lot since winning the referendum, even being branded sore winners, is simple, we were sure that the coalition of Conservative Remainers, Metropolitan Labour, our Intelligentsia and Corporate Interests would attempt, by any means needed,  to de legitimise and overturn the result. The 2017 election results have given them inspiration to put their heads more fully above the parapet and mobilise themselves into a more solid group.

There are three main reason that Coalition Remain (CR) are the most dangerous alliance in UK politics today. Firstly, the simple dishonesty of the vast majority to state clearly and openly their aim. The main faces of the CR are those who campaigned strongest to stay in the EU yet they are now advocating all types of differing arrangements that basically will water down the referendum result in order to be a tightly aligned as possible in order that the UK will have left the EU in name only. The brazen dishonesty of this is barely believable.

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The second reason for the CR to be genuinely dangerous for the UK is the attempt to undermine our democracy without any regard to the consequences of their actions. As the turnout in the recent UK general election showed millions more people have become engaged in the electoral process since 2015. In many neglected regions hundreds of thousands of people had given up on the political system. Having been the main victims of the modernisation of the UK economy under Thatcher, and then ignored by New Labour’s metropolitan elite, millions realised that their vote could matter. In addition millions of young people were shown that their apathy could have real consequences. Both of these groups returned to the polls in 2017. Overall turnout went back up to nearly 70% and youth voting appears to have increased to 54%. It is absolutely vital that our political class accepts and implements the EU referendum both literally and in what the voters expected the result to be.

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To put it simply the UK must not be members of the EU and we must have complete control of our Laws, Trade, Borders and Money. The deal that surrounds these key pillars may have compromises or adjustment periods, transitions or new agreements and voters are realists who will accept these. They will not however accept deliberate and secretive betrayal. The consequences, for our political system and people’s faith in it, of anything other than this basic requirement cannot be estimated.

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The third reason for being highly unnerved by the CR is the varied motives within the caucus. A group that it is open and honest about its aims and purposes is one thing. But a rag-tag alliance of people and organisations with only one thing in common means they are more difficult to combat and it can end up like playing political whack-a-mole. One example is the that the largest trade unions and most corporate representatives wish to remain, or almost remain. So Unite want to remain in order to “protect workers rights and prevent a race to the bottom”, whereas Corporate UK wishes to remain in order to allow the mass important of cheap labour, thus suppressing wages, increasing profits and reducing the need for training and retaining its staff. It does not take a genius to see that these two views are not compatible.

Combating the CR is relatively simple. Those who voted to Leave must state clearly, and repeatedly, what they voted for: Laws, Trade, Borders and Cash. These four things must be linked completely to Brexit. If anyone of these is missing or watered down beyond recognition then Brexit is not Brexit. Anyone advocating any position other than the government white paper, on Brexit, must be challenged to explain exactly what they want and what will be the result. Then they must explain why they support something that is not Brexit.

CR representatives must be asked to explain why they are advocating something different to the policies advocated by parties that 80+% of the electorate voted for in June 2017. They must also be asked to explain why it is that they are legitimate representatives of those who voted Remain. It seems totally wrong that Alistair Campbell is trotted out to explain the Virtual Remain case, he is simply a never elected spin doctor to a discredited and much hated former regime.

Most of all they must be asked why they can override the clearly expressed view of 17.2 Million people in Britain’s biggest ever democratic vote.

Leavers, and all who believe in democracy, must beware this subversive coalition and resist Zombie Remain whenever they resurface!

Abusive Brexit Language Damages All!

Abusive Brexit Language Damages All!

Following last year’s EU Referendum there has been a disturbing trend in the use of warlike and other deplorable insults, labels and terms of abuse. Whilst it is understandable, in fact essential, that people have strong feelings, and that they do not just evaporate overnight, the idea that this excuses some of the foul, degrading and wholly inappropriate terminology is totally and utterly reprehensible.

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The war associated terms that being applied to remainers are disgusting and totally over the top. Phrases used by newspapers, especially the Daily Mail, such as “Enemies of the People” or “Giving comfort to the enemy” were coined to describe traitors to our country of the worst kind, those that literally sided with an enemy attempting to kill us and subjugate our country. Equally those being applied to Brexiteers are equally repugnant. The idea that they are engaged upon “Kamikaze missions” is complete folly.

The group of insults that relate to people and their qualities, and or beliefs, seem to be aimed almost exclusively at Leavers. Rascist, Xenophobic, Bigoted, Knuckle Draggers, Thick, Low Information and other similar epithets. There are some terms used by leavers in retort but they do not seem as extreme. Things such as Metropolitan Elitist, Liberal Letfy, Fearmonger. sometimes the suggestion of cowardice is allowed into the discussion but these seem rarer. Why is it not possible to argue with a Leaver without assuming that he or she is motivated from some source of ignorance or hate. Most of us make up our view, of important things, through a combination of self-interest, including friends  and family, and information recieved or sought from common sources. It is as likely that a Remain voting individual has fallen victim to groupthink, and virtue signalling, as it is that a Leaver is victim of a far right brainwashing effort.

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A step up from this though and what should be regarded as utterly unforgivable is the use of terrorist terminology in describing those who take another view for genuine and strongly held reasons. Brexiteers have been described as having a “Jihadist mindset” and a core group of Remainers  are refered to as “Continuity Remain”. Just think for a minute what this means. In short Brexiteers are being equated with ISIS and it’s splinter groups and Remainers are being labeled as similar to an extreme sect of the IRA that did not wish to accept peace even when it presented itself. These terms should have no place in civilised discussions over essentially political matters. Indeed those who use them should be challenged and persuaded that they do nothing to help the cause which they proclaim to support.

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During the EU referendum and previously many discussions, and debates, were held in polite and respectful terms. For those in any doubt I suggest a You tube search for Daniel Hannan or Jacob Rees Mogg and Jeremy Corbyn on the EU. It must therefore be possible to further the discussion of how we leave and the future direction of the UK without the need for the extreme polarisation of the debate and the complete and personal vilification of those who hold another view.

 

Demonising the DUP is more dangerous to our democracy than working with them.

Demonising the DUP is more dangerous to our democracy than working with them.

Don’t Panic we’ve seen it all before!

Although the results of last weeks election were shocking to many. What follows should be more familiar than we are making out. After the 2010 election a similar situation arose and led to a period of stable government seen by most as in the national interest.

The fact that the results had been more likely ensured that at least two of the parties, Conservative and Lib Dem were ready for what followed and a third, the Labour government of Gordon Brown, caught up pretty quickly. Each party, privately and publicly, assessed the possibilities, of staying power or forming a new government by forming an alliance or coalition with others. The same is happening now and the players are exactly the same including the DUP.

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If anything the Democratic Unionist Party have moved considerably toward the mainstream of politics over the intervening seven years. It should also be noted that the opposition parties in NI are Catholic dominated and often equally as socially conservative, it is simply that the SDLP have lost their seats that renders this less visible than usual.

Perhaps the most prominent gay rights campaigner in Northern Ireland (Jeffrey Dudgeon) has argued very powerfully that he does not fear a deal between the DUP & Conservatives. He states very clearly that social policy is changing slowly but surely in NI and that the DUP are actually playing a role in that. The current party leader is not a member of the Free Presbyterian Church that was for so long the dominant body in the party. She has no truck with terror and indeed she and her family were victims of violence during the troubles. Ruth Davidson is regarded by many in the DUP, and wider Unionist community, as “a hero of the union” and it would seem her sexuality and social attitudes don’t dull this one bit.

Peace Process Scaremongering.

It seems that Northern Ireland is to be wrapped in cotton wool and protected from the day-to-day issues of UK politics forever. Within the last year The EU Referendum, A Green Subsidy Program and now a UK wide General Election have all been denounced as a threat to the peace process. This must stop. The people and politicians of NI do not have to have every issue of the day turned into matters of war and peace. All three of the events mentioned simply require political will, trust and understanding. If the peace process is so fragile as not yet to be able to survive such matters then it is that process itself that should be strengthened and re-enforced.

Some MP’s, or Parties, More Equal than Others?

The anti DUP voices that are currently trying to derail the formation of a, democratically elected and constitutionally valid, government seem to feel that it is fine to limit participation in UK democracy to those whose views they find acceptable. This is not democracy and not tolerable. The MP’s of Northern Ireland have been elected by their constituents in entirely the same way as in the rest of the UK. They find themselves in exactly the same position as the Liberal Democrats in 2010 and should be given exactly the same opportunity to present their requirements to the largest party and attempt to gain as much agreement as possible. The SNP and Plaid are never subjected to the same scrutiny or demonisation, other than on their wish to break apart the Union, and it is always assumed that they will take part in a coalition.

DUP More Progressive than Labour or Lib Dems?

As a small, but not unimportant, aside attention should be paid to the leader of the DUP. In their history the DUP have had only three official leaders. The third is currently leader Arlene Foster. Thus it has taken the party only 24 years to elect a woman leader. The Liberal Democrats and Labour  have not yet managed this despite having had the better part of a couple of hundred years between them.

Rank Hypocracy

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It is strange how the left wing, or so called progressives, of UK politics are happy to deal with those who oppose the Union, either politically such as the SNP and the Welsh Nationalists or by other means with their long held support for violent organisation that threaten the UK state or its institutions. Especially as nearly all the contentious issues are already devolved to the Stormont Assembly, and thus cannot be altered by Westminster, and nor do DUP polititians wish to influence GB policies on these matters, especially when many are also devolved to Edinbrough or Cardiff already. In this, as in many other matters, it seems that Northern Ireland and its polititions are treated as inferior, this is not acceptable.

The worst of these hypocrytes are the Labour party. In both 2010 and 2015 they had made plans and initial arrangements for possible deals with the DUP. For Alistair Campbell to attempt the demonisation of the DUP when he had been present, and possibly involved in, Gordon Brown’s attempts to strike a similar arrangement is truly despicable.

Coalition of Chaos Alternative

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Non of the things that are being protested about are not in the DUP manifesto. In fact the things they are likely to succeed in gaining would be agreed upon by nearly all the parties that lost the election. It is likely that Theresa May will agree on keeping the triple lock on pensions, scraping the plan to remove the winter fuel payments and ensure no hard border in Northern Ireland. Mr Corbyn or his troupe would not object to any of these items. However had Mr Corbyn been trying to put together a coalition he would also have had to at least keep the DUP onside and given them most of what they want. In addition he would have had to agree to a second referendum of the EU and the legalisation of cannabis for the Lib Dems, Indyref2 for the SNP and other items of great financial cost, and questionable use, from the Greens. This could have caused major disruption within a country that is already divided and fragmented. Surely a simple two party deal is a better starting place.  

Her Majesty’s Government must continue.

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It appears that the basic deal that will be done by the two parties will be a simple confidence and supply arrangement. This will basically involve the DUP agreeing to back the government on economic bills such as the budget and on Brexit which will be both economic and constitutional. In return the DUP will expect Northern Ireland to be well looked after in terms of infrastructure projects, public spending commitments and a couple of their manifesto pledges. Two likely conditions of the Brexit support will be no hard border in NI no additional inconvenience for NI citizens on UK travel and trade.

All in all a pretty basic political agreement between two parties who have similarities in terms of economic philosophy and constitutional arrangement. Both believe strongly in the UK and in independence.  At times like this the words and demenour of Jacob Rees Mogg can be very useful. He is often fond of saying that the British Public should have its say and that they can be trusted to get it right. It’s abut time that the people of the UK and there representatives were given that respect, equally.

Brexit Negotiations – The Dream Team

Brexit Negotiations – The Dream Team

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Following the selection of Labours threesome, for negotiating our EU exit, perhaps we should look at a more realistic Dream Team for ensuring a clean and mutually beneficial Brexit.

Mr Corbyn’s team has two major problems. They are totally inexperienced in any matter of such vital international importance and they do not believe in Brexit in any real way. All three, and even Mr Corbyn, backed Remain and at least two of them have shown contempt for Leave voters and the wishes of the majority of the electorate in regard to immigration.

The dream team must feature heavyweight and experienced people from across the spectrum available us. Choosing partisan politicians who hold three international cabinet posts is simplistic at best and foolish at worst. No one has ever suggested that the Uk would be represented by Boris, David and Liam. Although at least they support Leave, believe in Britain and can speak and understand many languages between them!

If we assume that the headline team will be made up of three representatives, and The Prime Minister, this gives the UK many options for selecting a team of determined leave supporters who also hold the interests of the British people at heart. They will be backed up by an army of civil servants junior negotiators and lawyers ,to do the sherpa like tasks, but in the end they will represent the UK and its voters.

The Prime Minister – Theresa May

Mrs May will bring to bear a pretty formidable combination of experience, her dealings with the EU go back nearly a decade and are considered to have been highly successful, and dogged determination. The people respect her focus on doing the job and not getting carried away with ego. Her opposite numbers are aware that they cannot pull stunts and hope to slip something past her and both sides are aware that she is a pragmatist who will concentrate on solutions not ideology.

The Brexit Secretary – David Davis

David Davis is a former European Minister, in the Major government, and has previously been an SAS reservist. He is personally known to almost all the parties in the EU team and is, and always has been, a complete and passionate believer in the UK leaving the EU. He is also not one to over complicate a simple matter. His nickname of “Old Knuckleduster” gives a clue as to his combative nature. The UK needs at least one member of the team to be tough, plain speaking and completely pro Brexit in as positive a way as humanly possible. Davis is the best bet for this. His selection also shows Mrs May’s judgement is sound.

UK Lead Representative (Citizens) – Gisela Stuart

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Ms Stuart will be free of her partisan MP duties after the upcoming election, possibly with a much deserved peerage, and is hugely respected amongst colleagues from both sides of the political divide. Gisela was heavily involved in drafting what became the EU Lisbon Treaty and is used to the operation of the Brussels machine. Her passionate belief in Brexit combined with many years of representing the Labour seat of Edgbaston in Birmingham give her a credibility among voters of all stripes. Her support of EU citizens rights and working people’s interest make her uniquely qualified for a role. Her ability to speak German and rebut the little Englander jibes will not go amiss.

UK Lead Representative (Trade & Industry) – Sir James Dyson

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Put simply James Dyson is one of the few people to get the better of the EU and he has done it twice in the last twelve months. He has defeated major EU interests at the ECJ in a recent case and played a discreet but hugely influential role in Vote Leave. In addition to this he is experienced in the ways of the EU in relation to trade and business in ways that few politicians will ever be. His company has been involved in negotiations and struggles for many years, giving him a rare insight that we would be foolish to turn down. His view of Brexit as a huge positive opportunity together with a willingness to put his money and reputation where his mouth is would offer a formidable challenge to the bureaucrats who can only think one way.

UK Special Agent (Tactics & Strategy)

In any negotiation of this importance it is vital not to be seen as naive. The UK will need a ruthless behind the scenes strategist to ensure that our aims and objectives are achieved. Publicity, operational strategy, diversionary tactics and as many offensive dirty tricks as may, or may not, be required need to be planned and executed by someone with the intellectual capacity to anticipate when they are needed, dream them up and then ruthlessly implement them without guilt or hesitation.

In short, a ruthless, bomb throwing chess player with a mind for historical geo political strategy. In the absence of Ian Fleming only one person has demonstrated the brain, courage, ruthlessness and understanding to serve in this capacity. Step forward Dominic Cummings your country needs you!

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20 Years Late! France may have elected their own Blair.

20 Years Late! France may have elected their own Blair.

gettyimages-647069996-mr_rcak9hn.jpgM. Macron has just eclipsed Le Pen by 65% to 35% in the French Presidential run off. The E.U. are presenting his victory as a triumph for European values, whatever they are, whilst many international leaders are breathing a sigh of relief. The forces of populism are being resisted, the nationalists are being turned back and other platitudes are being trotted out. Even the UK Prime Minister is warmly congratulating  the supposed centrist leader of the En Marche movement. Could there be another explanation?

Almost twenty years ago Tony Blair was elected to govern the UK, here was a young charismatic leader, who seemed to offer a middle way. The “Third Way” proposed by Blair, and Bill Clinton in the USA was, in its simplest terms, a combination between the economic models of the right of centre revolutions of Thatcher and Reagan with social justice and cultural platforms that were presented as modern, progressive and fair. Blair, it appears, had at least one major advantage over Macron. The New Labour project had been running since at least 1992 and in some ways had been in development since 1983.

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By the time of the 1997 UK General Election a virtual perfect storm was in place to ensure that Blair & New Labour would both be elected and then given a decent opportunity to put their program into place. The combination of an economy beginning to thrive  but a government in terminal decline, after nearly twenty years in power, would ensure that the electorate would give the new broom a strong mandate and a decent honeymoon. In addition the New Labour project was honed and prepared to govern in a way that very few are. Years in the wilderness had ensured that policy had been developed and political skills perfected in a way that would keep the reviled former governing party out of the running for a long time and maybe permanently. New Labour ruled its ministers, members of parliament and party organisation with a rod of iron. Messers Gould, Mandleson, Campbell produced a machine that operated with ruthless efficiency and whose political antennae were second to non. The combination of these events produced a smooth and successful first full term and a landslide second majority four years later.

Fast forward to France 2016/17. A Socialist Party government is struggling in almost every regard and its president is the least popular in recent history. At one point his approval rating is in single figures. Only a couple of years before a young charismatic and determined politician is appointed to the government in order to implement new policies that will turn around the French economy. Emmanual Macron valiantly tries to invigorate the economy, like many before him he struggles to gain much ground. Protests grow and other issues begin to sweep the government as a whole. Terrorism, immigration, anti-globalisation and growing discontent with the EU, are beginning to form another perfect storm that will certainly drive the current government from power and may allow either a Thatcherite candidate (who turned out to be Fillon) or worse a Populist/Nationalist from the dreaded Front National (Marine Le Pen) to gain power. It does not take a genius to see the horror this would inflict up the elite of the French political class. The establishment begin to look within their own ranks to find a way to prevent this disastrous outcome. As with New Labour, following the sad death of John Smith, a possibility presents itself. The telegenic, confidence oozing, establishment educated and relatively unspoilt Macron is surely the best bet?

At this point a large problem still exists, there is no chance of Mr Macron succeeding from within the socialist party or any part of the mainstream establishment left. Their image is damaged and the president is a liability. No New Labour style project could be built and succeed in such a short time.  The only way possible is for a new movement to be established, could the golden boy succeed in time? Maybe, if he was properly supported, and funded, after all it would probably only take 25% of the vote in the initial round. After that the establishment would all close ranks and Macron would defeat either type of opponent in the run off.

Although the above is simply a surface glance at events over the last year or two, it does not take a huge leap of imagination to see a strong grain of probability in such a turn of events. M. Macron’s campaign has been superbly  plotted and professionally operated in a New Labour style manner ( So it appears from the recent leaks). The funding of a very expensive campaign has been shrouded in mystery. Events since the actual elections began, and then in the run up to the second round, show the closing of ranks. So it appears that France finally has their Tony Blair. How will that work out for them then?

France is late to the “Third Way” party but seems to be planning a shortcut. At least half of the mainstream right of centre grouping  have already pledged their support. It took the centre right close to a decade to engage New labour on its own terms. The Conservative Party shifted three leaders, Hague, Duncan Smith and Howard before shifting their perceived position and how they conducted themselves. Thus France skips to 2005 and the unofficial consensus between Blairite and Cameroon centrists within UK politics.

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However much more problematic for France is the fact that the perfect conditions that awaited Mr Blair do not await M. Macron. In 1997 the UK was accepting of the need for change, optimistic and in relatively benign waters economically. This is not the case for either France, or the wider EU, in 2017. No economic revolutionary, or state reduction work, has been done for him and no general shift in the public view, of what is needed to fix the major issues, is easily perceived. Can anyone manage to lead both an economic revolution and restore stability to the 5th Republic whilst keeping the majority of both public and establishment on side?

M. Macron is now left with the unenviable task of managing all these vital interests, as well as being the best hope for a struggling EU, without a recognised party or organisation behind him. France may well find it has elected it’s Tony Blair but without it’s New Labour.

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To paraphrase Sir Humphrey Appleby “It’s your job and you wanted it Mr President

 

50/50 Part III – Top Ten Article 50 Makers.

50/50 Part III – Top Ten Article 50 Makers.

Wednesday, March 29th 2017, witnessed the triggering of Article 50, of the Lisbon Treaty, and began the process of the United Kingdom exiting the EU. Parts I & II suggested two groups of 20 individuals who have made significant contributions to this moment. Some have wished for it, others played a less willing role. The same can be said of our top 10.

 

10) Matthew Elliott. Elliott’s contribution to UK life is scarcely credible for a man under forty years old. From co-founding the Tax Payers Alliance, thus exposing governments and public bodies to the scrutiny of millions, he moved on to being chief exec of the No to AV referendum. That turnaround, from 2-1 in favour to a 2-1 against win, provided a template for later work, as well as keeping the UK electoral system in tact. Elliot’s Business for Britain then provided a skeleton framework for an EU referendum. Elliot then progressed to being appointed Chief Executive of Vote Leave for the 2016 referendum.  His persuasion of Gisela Stuart, to co-chair the campaign, and recruitment of Dominic Cummings to run the operation were vital. His front of house manner and appearance also ensured a modern and positive impression was created.

9) Tony Blair. The Blair administration’s many flaws contributed, in a number of  significant ways, to our present position. On the active side his actions, in failing to enforce restrictions on succession migration, together with an incompetent guess as to the numbers who would be attracted, highlighted an issue that the EU would prove incapable of resolving. Blair’s behaviour over Iraq and New Labour’s general behaviour played a large role in disenchanting millions of voters, including many in traditional Labour areas. Blair’s arrogance, in believing that his interventions, would be anything other than negative for Remain was foolish in the extreme.

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8) Margaret Thatcher. The former Prime Minister’s “Bruges Speech” was a tipping point in  1988, and looks more like a prophecy than speech now. The fact that this totemic figure, in both the Conservative Party and the UK, was brought down by a mainly Europhile group of senior party members wrought havoc in the party which festered for decades. The influential Bruges Group was named after her speech and many leading Eurosceptic where and are broadly, or fundamentally, Thatcherism. David Cameron’s fear of what would happen to the party if he was not seen to act fairly, and relatively even-handedly, to those on the leave side can be easily traced to the turmoil that had gone before.

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7) Gisela Stuart. The long serving Labour MP, for Birmingham Edgbaston, proved a wise and calming head throughout the campaign. Her experience in actually working within the EU had hardened her opposition. Her credentials as a left-wing, people focused and decent politician were impeccable. Her debate performances were excellent, especially as she was less experienced in this area, and the balance she provided within the triumvirate of Vote Leave figure heads proved crucial in watering down the “Tory campaign” idea. It was also highly symbolic that Gisela is a German born, long-standing, immigrant who calmly and rationally for practical reasons, including the control of immigration, wanted to Leave. The reaction to Lord Sugar’s foolish complaint, regarding her status, demonstrated how powerful an asset she was.

6) Danial Hannan. A strong claim can be made for Hannan being the author of what became the positive script for Vote Leave. Since the age of 19 he campaigned for the UK/EU relationship to be fundamentally different. By the time of the referendum he was well liked and viewed as one of the Eurosceptics more reasonable faces. His book, Why Vote Leave, became a best seller and yet barely mentions immigration, and he appeared and spoke at over 100 events during the campaign itself. It was at Hannan’s instigation the Elliott was placed to run Business for Britain, and then Vote Leave and yet, despite this huge contribution, Hannan’s ego was secure enough that he accepted a lesser role, particularlt on TV debates, on the empirically tested grounds that others would prove more successful with Vote Leave’s target audience. His work, together with others, on “The Plan” was devoured by Boris Johnson and formed a strong strand, running through most of the major arguments, of that “liberal, cosmopolitan” case that Johnson stated he was to make when he first declared.

Anyone in any doubt of Hannan’s contribution should simply read Why Vote Leave & Brexit What Next. From their current actions you can be sure Mrs May ‘s administration have.

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5) David Cameron. Although it may not please him, our former Prime Minister must be subject to the Trueman Doctrine “The Buck Stops Here”. Cameron failed to stop his party from “Banging on about Europe”, he failed to shoot the UKIP fox and indeed had to concede the referendum in a last-ditch attempt to do so. His Bloomberg speech was accurate and impressive but raised the expectations of his negotiations and exposed the true failings of the EU. His appalling tragi-comedy of a renegotiation made up many minds , but in the opposite direction than he planned. His technical decisions, regarding the timing, question and date, of the referendum, together with his misjudgment of his cabinet and MP’s ensured that Leave would be competitive  and that they appeared to have some early momentum.

Cameron’s final two mistakes were enormous and should be permanently attached to him. His deliberate running of a purely negative, spiteful campaign that corrupted the British constitutional system, e.g. the use of the civil service to block ministers access to information, and consistently rubbished our nation both to our own people and our friends and rivals elsewhere. Finally his act of gross negligence by failing to plan, in any meaningful way, for one of only two outcomes in a referendum he himself knew was “on a knife-edge”, this act can be described as one of the worst derelictions of duty in the history of his office.

4) Micheal Gove. Sadly, Gove’s contribution to his nation’s future will be thought of in terms of his post referendum behaviour and his “…people have had enough of experts…” line. This spectacularly underestimates his contribution. His courage in defying his Prime Minister and long-term friend and risking any future career on a principle should be uppermost. His progression from a well-respected, on his own side, policy politician, often thought of as over intellectual, geeky or just a bit odd, to front of house figurehead of a national campaign, on generational importance, who became popular and trusted by millions within the space of about six weeks.

The famed interview with Faisal Islam, that produced his “experts” line, is a case in point. For the opening five minutes, or so, Gove was in struggling. However he first managed to neutralise Islam, by pointing out the interviewer’s reversal of argument, and slowly built a rapport with the audience both in the studio and on TV. His personal story regarding the EU and his father’s business ensured a connection with voters and his positive, upbeat and thoughtful case was better and better received as the time went on. It should not be forgotten that Gove was very new to these types of events, and confessed to being very nervous, yet his performance was an improvement upon that of a serving Prime Minister, with huge experience, had managed on the same show the night before. Many people both in the campaign and outside now believed that Leave were capable of winning. The momentum had shifted and Vote Leave gained huge confidence.

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3 Nigel Farage. No if’s No buts, without Farage there would have been no referendum. Prime ministers and others across Europe avoided referenda like the plague and when they had to hold them they usually lost. The UKIP Leader’s 25 year campaign  progressed from what would be regularly described as the “Lunatic Fringe” through to winning a nationwide UK election. He led the only party in around one hundred years to defeat both Labour & Conservatives in a national poll. Yet still he was underestimated and dismissed, his tactic of using a blunt speaking, anti elitist style built a coalition of disenchanted voters, and non voters, that included sections from both sides of the old political divide. When Cameron promised a referendum many assumed UKIP would be neutralised, they simply were not. This should have demonstrated the strength of Eurosceptic views across the spectrum, but many did not want to see. Finally, Farage also contributed to the winning of the referendum in another way. Many supporters of his brand of anti-EU politics proved to be those who had not voted for a long time, or indeed ever, as an anti establishment politician Farage ensured that they did vote on the day and turnout was high enough to offset the Remain bias of London & Scotland.

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2) Boris Johnson. The idea of a former mayor, recently elected to parliament, part celebrity, part politician and part P.G. Woodhouse character, would fundamentally change the destiny of his country, over the course of six weeks, should be the stuff of fiction or comedy. Give that individual’s name as Boris and things completely change. Prior to the campaign some estimated that the difference Johnson would make to either side was around 4%, 52-48 was the end result. The fact that the government could not decide to attack him fully gives some idea of the influence. Whenever they did try to discredit or smear him the response from Johnson was superbly indifferent. The attempt to swamp him with an all female panel, who would attack him personally, simply failed. Cameron and Osborne seemed to forget that he had managed to twice be elected Mayor of London, a Labour stronghold, under the guidance of Lynton Crosby. This experience provided him with a sense of calm and a studied determination.

Boris did not start as strongly as many would have liked. It took him a little while to get back into battle mode, once up to full speed he was virtually unstoppable. It is often forgotten that Johnson individual election record in virtually 100% wins even when the political tide is running against him. The battlebus tour travelled across the country attracting attention everywhere it went, Johnson appeared virtually every day and proved  entertaining, accessible and persuasive. The combination between Boris’s star power, Gove’s intellect and studiousness, together with Gisela Stuart, balancing the ticket, proved perfect.

Indeed, a strong case could be made for placing Johnson at the top of this list. Imagine for a moment what would have happened had he slipped up in a major way.  Many on the Remain side predicted and hoped for this. A Boris gaff could have done for the Leave campaign almost overnight. Yet it did not happen, the responsibility was enormous and yet he rose to the occasion. Two post referendum documentaries, Sky & BBC,  bore witness to Boris’s unique ability, voters who could never have been thought of as Conservative, or likely to be persuaded by one, stated that he was the difference. ” We’re with Boris” said a group of older women in a northern constituency, whilst a Sunderland voter actually stated ” I’d trust Boris with my life”.  

If other’s given credit for getting the referendum, and a large chunk of solid support, Boris can lay claim to providing all those who wanted to vote Leave, but could not support Farage, and others, vision, a positive, viable, energetic and liberal case to get behind. Those present or watching the final debate of the campaign, from Wembley arena, witnessed “The Full Johnson” His valedictory speech, for Vote Leave, lasted little more than 1 minute, yet completely rubbished the Remain campaign whilst presenting Vote Leave as a chance to defend democracy, speak for millions without voice and claim a bright new future for Britain. The reaction in the arena, and in homes, indicted what was to come on June 23rd.

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1)Dominic Cummings. Unless you are a bit of a political anorak it is likely that you never heard of Dominic Cummings until the period surrounding the EU referendum. Despite a stint assisting Micheal Gove in the Education department, being labelled divisive and controversial, Cummings had not sought public attention in any marked way. However he had already played a major part in public life. His spell, as campaign director, with Business for Sterling had helped ensure that the UK would not join the Euro, when that was a very real danger. His efforts to reform education, as special adviser to Micheal Gove, may have a more profound long term effect.

Dominic, or Dom as he is known to those who worked on the campaign, was appointed to run the Vote Leave campaign in the autumn of 2015. It was he who built the majority of the backroom team and who is credited for the recruitment of a number of the leading supporters, including Micheal Gove. Cummings is also credited with the campaign slogan/logo/catchphrase Vote Leave, Take Back Control, this powerful, yet simple, phrase was used, to the point of exhaustion, by all connected with the campaign and proved highly memorable and effective. The loyalty shown to Cummings, by most Vote Leave staff, when an MP led coup was launched against his management style in early 2016, is an illustration of both inspirational leadership.

Cummings used evidence based models to build the winning strategy in the period before he was even appointed. This enabled a discreet, but highly effective, social and digital media campaign to be built operated in a short time. The effective deployment of resources just prior to the postal vote weekend and again in the final couple of campaigning weeks also appear to have been hugely effective. The postal vote is estimated at 55-45 in favour of Leave.

Regardless of opinions, as to their appropriateness, the most effective themes of the campaign were cost, immigration issues, future expansion of the EU. These were summarised by Cummings as like a baseball bat labelled £350million/Immigration/Turkey, which was saved for the later stages of the campaign, that just needed picking up. Cummings’ ruthless approach to sticking to what his focus groups and other data were telling him, as well as the groundbreaking data system he used, often made him less than popular, especially with those such as Farage who wanted more exposure for themselves or their case. Cummings method of dealing with the Farage Paradox was to recognise his role, minimise the risk of over exposing him & UKIP and ensure the case Vote Leave advocated appeared open and positive whilst hammering home the key messages he knew persuadable voters cared about.

Put simply, most available facts back up Cummings’ approach completely. Postal Votes split 55-45 for leave. On the day polling was closer to 50/50 but little or no swing to the status quo could be detected. The attempts of Remain to win the TV debates were neutralised by Cummings decisions of panel members, surrounding Boris with Stuart and Leadsom and sending Gove to the more question and answer interviews were especially astute. The two most remembered images/quotes of the referendum are £350 million a week and Take Back Control. Both of these were championed by Cummings at all times , even when others were scared, or wary of the personal consequences, of failure.

Although others in Vote Leave deserve credit, as acknowledged here, Cummings set the tone,enforced the message and managed to combine all the key elements of tech, data, presentation, tactics and personality together. Had the coup, against him, succeeded there are few involved who doubt that Vote Leave would have failed to win the nomination as official campaign and the field would have been left to Aaron Banks or others who would have run a haphazard, Farage centred, campaign and deterred as many voters as they encouraged. Remain would have won and by a good margin.

In final tribute it should also be noted that Cummings has not sought credit, and indeed has credited others, whilst others have basked in reflected glory from his work. Finally the post referendum actions, of many involved with Vote Leave, have ensured that the Remain rearguard action, whose attempts to water down, delay or defeat Brexit, have been vigorously opposed and mainly defeated. Onward……..

 

 

50/50 – Article 50’s Contributors Pt II

50/50 – Article 50’s Contributors Pt II

Below are the second group, of 20, of those who have made a significant contribution to the UK triggering Article 50, and so embarking on leaving the E.U. These first two groups of 20 are not ordered but show the time period and breadth of characters who have enabled us to reach this position.

As in the first group not all will be happy to be included, their contributions are no less significant:

Lord Kerr. In some ways Lord Kerr is the ultimate contributor to Article 50. Indeed he is its author! Originally intended for inclusion in the European Constitution the clause was, like much of the document, pasted across into the Lisbon treaty. The rejection of the constitution, and the later backdoor smuggling of it into law, was a landmark for eurosceptics and a constant stick with which to beat the EU institutions. The article itself is pretty dry stuff and was originally intended to deal with a member country reverting to dictator style politics and storming out of the EU without agreement. The fact that it was not never intended to be used, or thought likely that a democratic country would choose to leave, speaks volumes.

Lord (Norman) Tebbit. “The Chingford Polecat” exposed the enormous division and angst within the Conservative party at their conference in 1992. He served as a rallying point for many his blunt and combative style also provided a template for many on the Thatcherite & Eurosceptic side of the discussion. Even in his eighties, from the lords and in print, he remained a conduit to what many see defining days.

Patrick Milford. Another of the economists for Brexit, Milford carries a virtually unique badge of honour. In the 1980’s hundreds of economists wrote to The Times declaring the error of Margaret Thatcher’s economic policy. Milford stood out, virtually alone, in public and declared them wrong. So in the two great economic political debates of our time, Milford has a 100% record against the doomsayers and groupthink. I hope the current government is listening to his advice!

Ian Duncan Smith. From “The Quiet Man” to strident eurosceptic attack force. From his “IDS of March” resignation, through to bashing Lib Dem leader, Tim Farron, at every opportunity. Duncan Smith has turned up the volume, on his strong anti EU position, in equal measure against those determined to undermine the referendum.

David Starkey. Famed for colourful, combative TV documentaries Starkey provided another familiar and trusted face for the Leave case. Willing to debate on all manner of media, and against any style of opponent, Starkey also lead Historians for Britain, again exposing the myth that all serious people were on the Remain side.

Peter Shore.  Labour politician, a former Secretary of State for Trade, and eurosceptic whose superb speeches, especially regarding the E.E.C , reenforced the leftwing case for opposition. A staunch patriot who ensured it was not an embarrassing quality to possess. An early advocate of the two-speed solution in his book Separate Ways. The best tribute to Shore was the numbers viewing his speeches and quoting him during the recent referendum despite the fact that he had died fifteen years prior.

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Jacob Rees Mogg. The huge popularity of JRM should not be undervalued. His polite, reasoned style, enormous knowledge of history, and tradition, and self-effacing sense of humour, demonstrate that these somewhat old-fashioned qualities are much valued by millions. Resounding proof that posh does not mean, hated, vacuous or mean to those less priviliged.

Anna Soubry. If ever anyone wanted to know why ‘Leavers’ are a bit wary, of those who wished to remain, Soubry is the living embodiment. Condemnatory about voters. Implications of racism and bigotry are followed by claims of voter ignorance. As if this was not enough, her visceral early reactions, in combination with EU history with regard to referenda, made it quite clear that Leavers would have to at least match her in temper, determination and passions. Thus the myth of the angry winner emerged.

Norris & Ross McWhirter. Amongst the original founders of The Freedom Association, the McWhirter twins  seem to have a habit of creating long-lasting organisations (Their Guineess Book of records has certainly stood the test of time). The Freedom Association and its offspring, inc. Better Off Out, have campaigned since 1975. The Association is not purely anti EU, its main focus has been to highlight the erosion of civil and individual freedoms. Yet from 1992, through to the referendum, it has focused more on the EU debate.

Nick Clegg. Being trounced in debate twice by Nigel Farage, during 2014, boosted the position and confidence of Eurosceptics. “The Clegger ” has come to represent the stereotype, of the modern Europhile, most despised by Leave supporters. His continued efforts, along with others such as Heseltine & Miliband, to reverse the result, have stimulated an extensive united force against them.

Sir Bill Cash. Despite initially supporting UK membership, Sir Bill has become the patron saint of Eurosceptics, or at least those from a certain generation. His opposition was formed from parliamentary experience and, despite at times being part of a tiny minority, he has sought to challenge and publicise the real consequences of many EU actions. A you tube search of his contributions to the article 50 debate will serve as a strong reminder of the effort and dedication put in over decades.

Theresa May.  May has played multiple roles, both in the lead up to the referendum and since becoming Prime Minister. The failure to reduce immigration demonstrated the Leave argument regarding EU incompetence and UK powerlessness. Her speech to the conservative conference in 2014 was both strong and courageous.

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As Prime Minster she read the mood of the country well and almost instantly. “Brexit means Brexit” gave her some time and the instant creation of the two Brexit departments, together with the appointment Boris Johnson, the Vote Leave figurehead, as Foreign Secretary, instantly made clear that there would be no betrayal, of what had been decided, would be tolerated. Thus she has earned the right to deliver, the Article 50 letter, on Wednesday March 29th, and will do so.

Lord (Nigel) Lawson.  Considering Lord Lawson’s role in the bringing down of Margaret Thatcher, was inextricable from her anti EU attitude, it is a remarkable turnaround to see Lord Lawson spear heading the campaign for a leave vote only 25 years later. Lawson reputation as a successful chancellor ensured that Leave had some financial intellectual heft. On a practical level Lawson stepped in at an important time to chair the board of Vote Leave.

Sir James Dyson.  When people are quoted as wanting some straight forward facts from people who are not biased, but successful and respected they could be describing James Dyson. Possibly our most famed business man / inventor also seems relaxed and able when dealing with the media. His simple and strong explanation that the UK would thrive outside the EU resonated with many of those who were looking to be persuaded or reassured in economic terms. As with Anthony Bamford the benefit of having such figures to quote was a massive bonus to Johnson, Gove and others. In addition Dyson’s behaviour up to this week has backed his statements with action.

Chris Grayling. Combined with the tactics of Steve Baker, and the support of Theresa Villiars, Grayling willingness to go to the edge of resignation from the cabinet played a strong part in ensuring that both he and others in the cabinet could campaign on the leave side without having to sacrifice their careers. Grayling’s willingness to resign ensured Cameron would have to solve the issue, and be seen to be fair, or risk a party revolt on a large-scale.

Richard Tice. Co conspirator with Aaron Banks, on the Leave.EU project, Tice played a less public role but was strongly influential. The post referendum think tank Leave Means Leave, which attempts to ensure a full Brexit, continues to generate pressure.

Douglas Carswell.  Could be known as Agent Carswell, his efforts to infiltrate and de toxify UKIP, in order to that the Leave was seen to be more liberal open-minded position, may have ultimately failed but the panic caused by his defection certainly played a part in Cameron’s decision to hold a referendum. Carswells decision to back the official Vote Leave organisation may well have assisted in gaining them the official designation and thus again he played a minor but important role. Finally together with Dan Hannan a rough draft of the liberal case to Leave ,and for the future was sketched out, and was widely used in debate.

Aftab Chughtai. Leader and co-founder of Muslims for Britain. The campaign group fought very hard, especially in the West Midlands, and are rightly acknowledged for presenting a different case and producing a Leave victory in Birmingham. It should be noted that evidence suggests an entirely different pattern of voting, amongst immigrant communities, where MfB campaigned.

Andrea Leadsom. Despite being the occasional object of scorn, for a few recent errors, Leadsom should receive huge credit. The Fresh Start group she co-founded ensured that new MP’s were able to align themselves without risking black marks against them. In turn this emboldened many with a less deferential view of their political masters. Her debate appearances were strong and, as a new face to many, her positive and straightforward answers helped to give the Leave Team a fresh and friendly look. Standing up to her boss in government, Amber Rudd, was also widely admired.

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John Ashworth.  Founder of Fishing for Leave, decades of campaigning and protesting at the decimation of UK fishing industry, and fisheries, by the EU came to a head with the Battle of the Thames with Bob Geldof’s remain fleet! The image of Geldof and others haranguing and flicking the V’s at Farage and the fishermen was one of the strongest of the entire campaign, almost claiming Geldof a position in this 50 list, and for many summed up the entire argument of elites vs normal people.

Theresa Villiers. Understated, but fiercely determined, former Northern Ireland secretary who practised what she preached regarding the EU. Upon being made a minister Villiers quietly removed the EU flag from her department. Having the Northern Ireland Secretary to rebut those who attempted to undermine peace in NI ,during the referendum, was a serious coup for Vote Leave.

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Rev. Giles Fraser. The broad coalition that delivered a leave vote included many voices, but a man of god who also writes for The Guardian and gains regular TV exposure is a pretty rare bird. Frasers case for leave was compassionate and based on community and fairness. His often Anti Tory pieces mean he has great credit with the liberal media, gaining access  and exposure where others might struggle.

The Top Ten Article 50 contributors is coming soon…….

 

 

 

50/50 – Who contributed to Article 50?

50/50 – Who contributed to Article 50?

The UK will trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty, on March 29 2017, and begin the process of bringing to an end our membership of the European Club.  Great works often involve numerous contributors. Here are 50 of them.

Two groups of twenty people will be followed by a Brexit top ten on the momentous day. It should be noted that that not all those who contributed to this moment would wish to be given credit!

220px-Bundesarchiv_B_145_Bild-F010324-0002,_Flughafen_Köln-Bonn,_Adenauer,_de_Gaulle-croppedCharles de Gaul – French President who originally blocked UK entry into the community. He doubted the political will of Britain and had strong doubts about attempting to include the Anglo-Saxon model within the community. For many, he was correct with over 40 years  of heel dragging,and our Janus like attitude,  finally ending in the UK abandoning ship. However it is also possible that had we been properly involved from an earlier stage both the EU and our relationship with it would have been entirely different.

Alan Sked – Founder of the Anti Federalist League which renamed itself UKIP. Also a founding member of The Bruges Group. The combined influence  of these two groups on the Conservative Party and, in turn, the general public could be cited as the reason for the rise of the Eurosceptic vision.

John Longworth – Former Director General of the CBI (Confederation of British Industry). Resigned during the referendum campaign due to feeling  unable to speek freely in opposition to the EU. Became a watchword for the questionable tactics of No.10, who were insinuated to have pressured the CBI to act, after Longworth declared his intentions.

Tony Benn – Totemic Labour figure who argued consistently, for over 40 years, making the perfect patriotic case for “the left” to oppose the EU. Despite his passing in 2014, his status ensured that he was regularly mentioned and quoted during the campaign. Many off the predictions made by Benn in the 1975 referendum had become apparent truths by 2016.

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Aaron Banks – By backing UKIP, and then founding and operating Leave.EU, Banks did that rare thing, put his money where his mouth was. By his own statement he contributed around £6 million toward the cause. Quantifying the success of his efforts is empirically impossible, but the backing of Farage & UKIP enabled their influence to be felt very strongly.

Lord (David) Owen – A heavyweight political figure with a pro EU hinterland. The youngest Foreign Secretary since before WWII carries considerable gravitas. His slow but steady conversion was completed with Owen making a superb case for voting Leave in the early days of Vote Leave’s burgeoning campaign.

Enoch Powell – Despite Powell being hugely controversial in UK politics, his views and actions on Europe seem to have been treated as a separate entity by most. His efforts to earn the original referendum and the fact that he never wavered in either opinion or passion gave his views a credibility and a fairness of hearing that in other areas he had sacrificed. Many others in this list would credit Powell either in public or private with a huge contribution. Powell had been present to see Ted Heath’s defeat by, and bitterness toward, Margaret Thatcher. Many think he would have enjoyed Heath’s final humiliation even more.

John Mills – A true stalwart of Labour/Left Eurosceptism. From secretary of the Euro Safeguards Campaign  through to being the founder of Labour Leave. Mills can lay claim to being one of the most constant, long-term and influential anti EU campaigners still playing an active role. He can also, of course, claim victory!

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Sir James (Jimmy) Goldsmith – A larger than life figure whose ill-timed death, in 1997, means that many are not aware of his huge contribution. Goldsmith was wary of the EU from the beginning. After seeing many of his fears confirmed, by the Maastrict treaty, he vowed to take action. Among many other insightful predictions, was his belief that it would take a force from outside the “big three” mainstream political parties. Had he survived his referendum party may have been that force.  His efforts to circumvent the media, via mass distribution of free video tapes, and belief that they and the political parties were complicit in a betrayal of the nation, were aped by UKIP and Nigel Farage with their insurgent campaign over the 19 years since Goldsmith’s death. Sir Jimmy can be credited with the putting a referendum front and centre!

Sir John Major – The former Prime Minister has had plenty of involvement with the E.U. From his assurance that his negotiation at Maastrict was “Game, Set and Match to Britain” to his doom laden interventions during the later stages of the referendum campaign via his struggles to placate the Eurosceptic “Bastards” within his own party during  the 1990’s. The long and short of it is that the ramming through of the Maastrict bill, and the fierce opposition it generated, combined with the near , electorally at least, destruction of the Conservative & Unionist Party ensured that Major would always be linked with the struggles to deal with the European issue. His later interventions have ensured that this link will be entirely negative.

Kate Hoey – A rareity in politics, even more so on her side of the E.U. debate, Kate is a long-standing Labour MP, and former minister, who holds major points of difference and principle with party orthodoxy. Labour, Northern Irish and female, Kate is seen by the vast majority in a positive light. Tireless campaigner and willing to build bridges that others lack, either the courage or, the will to build. A strong voice that added to the impression that voting Leave was not an extremist, or any other ist, but a principled, thought through and even sensible proposition.

402Jacques Delors – The first three term president of the European Commission oversaw the initiation of The Single Market but at the same time fanned the flames of UK dissatisfaction. The contemptuous reaction of Margaret Thatcher, particularly in her Bruges Speech in 1988, to Delors’ vision of the expanded role of the European Institutions and direction of EU legislation, can be marked out as one of the first, and strongest, rejections of the E.U.’s direction of travel on the basis of UK exceptionalism. The Sun newspaper’s withering headline, a few weeks later, summed up the view of the right-wing press. “Up Yours Delors” remains amongst the high water marks of such opinion.

John Redwood – A standard-bearer for Eurosceptics ,through the 1990’s, Redwood is famed for challenging John Major when others took frit. In what should have been a warning to David Cameron, regarding the inherent amount of anti E.U. feeling within the party, Redwood managed to gain nearly a quarter of the vote despite running against an incumbant Prime Minister who had won his own mandate at the general election.

Steve Baker – Conservative MP and unofficial leader of the Conservative Eurosceptic MP’s (Conservatives for Britain) during the run up to and fighting of the 2016 referendum. Operated a superb hit and run campaign, mainly within parliament, to ensure the Leave campaign was given a level playing field. Without him it is possible that no Purdah period would have been in place and cabinet ministers would have had to resign in order to campaign on the Leave side.

Anthony Bamford – As Chairman of one of the most recognisable, and global, British companies the JCB boss was of aid to Leave in more ways than one. The financial donation was useful. But writing to his employees advocating Vote leave and then allowing his name and reputation to be added to Vote Leave’s campaign was hugely significant, considering the lack of those willing to come out publicly, Bamford was also very courageous. Giving Boris and Gove et al real, instantly trusted, examples to cite whenever they were in a corner, cannot be understated.

Jean Claude Junker – It is often said that good leaders are lucky with who they have as enemies. The current head of the European Commission could be classed as a good enemy. A reputation for liquid consumption combined with being a former Prime Minister of Luxembourg made an easy target  for the UK tabloid press, and Nigel Farage’s European Parliament speeches, the later achieved large audience via You Tube and provided a useful back channel to UK voters.

Lord (Norman) Lamont – In the years since black/white Wednesday Lamont reputation as a conservative and Eurosceptic has been steadily restored. Limited public utterances, together with a measured a reasonable tone, ensured that when he chose to enter the debate he was a strong asset. Balancing the weight of former chancellors, and not seeming to suffer from the old man in a hurry issue of others. Strong experience of the damage caused by, gifting control of finances to, supranational bodies proved highly useful.

Ronald K Noble – Former Interpol boss who in his own words, written for the New York Times, called “The Shengen Zone” Europe’s welcome sign for terrorists. When added to disputed claims that a head of Europol ( it even sounds like a junior version!) estimated a large number of ISIS devotees were infiltrating the E.U., via the refugee system, this quote ensured that Leave advocates had some heavy hitting, and difficult to rebut, claims on issues of security and The Free Movement of people.

Peter Cruddas –  Backer and supporter of a number of Eurosceptic groups over a long period. Supported the formation of Change Britain in the aftermath of the referendum to ensure that Brexit was delivered and the Britain gained the benefits expected.

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Gerard Lyons – One of the, truly brave, Economists for Brexit. Imagine if project fear had proven true, Lyons and his colleagues would have been derided and their reputation severely trashed. Strange then that they are not currently regarded as Hero Economists! It may well be true that as economic advisor to Boris Johnson, during his mayoralty, Lyons played an even stronger hand of influence than is generally acknowledged.

Next 20 coming soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five P’s Worth of Advise for Tomorrow’s Campaigning Politicians

Five P’s Worth of Advise for Tomorrow’s Campaigning Politicians

Whilst reading the huge amount of, post vote, literature that has followed both the Leave vote in the UK and the election of Donald Trump in the USA, it seems that the navel gazing and need for external excuses, for defeat, have been taken to new heights. If those on the losing sides do not regain some perspective and honest self appraisal they will not reverse their errors or even represent their stated constituents. Here are five areas in which both Hillary & Remain were seriously lacking, oddly when I started noticing these they had something in common!

Punchlines: These are also known as frames, logos and catchphrases. These can be used to ram home a message and summarise the essence of the campaign in a very few words. If you can get this right it is as near to intravenous influence as you can get! Trump and Leave had differing types of Punchline but both were enormously superior to the opposition.  “Make America Great Again” is very positive whilst implying that America has problems. It is also vague and can mean many things to any voter. “Take back control” was both descriptive of the problem and offered a solution. Better Together, Stronger In, Stronger Together are all vague and can be easily questioned. So, get your punchlines straight and then use them. Also be prepared when another one comes along during the rough and tumble of a campaign. Despite Trump being reluctant to use it (yes really) “Drain the Swamp” was a superb summary of a widely perceived and deeply felt problem. The New Labour adoption of “Things can only get better” came from a pop song but caught on and seemed to sum up the mood in 1997.

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Personalities: Yes I know, it’s not supposed to be about personalities but it is! Trump should be final proof that if you have one side that can convince through personality and one that can’t, or is significantly less convincing, the advantage can be overwhelming. In the case of the Leave campaign Johnson & Gove & Stuart (with Farage) versus Cameron Osborne & Corbyn. The only time the Remain campaign looked even vaguely at the races was with Ruth Davidson, or Sadiq Khan, being allowed to run free. Clinton had virtually nothing in the personality scales. Trump had an overdose of almost everything good and bad!_83834962_027835108

Passion: In combination with the personality this is a heady mix. It should also be noted that it is not always expressed the same way but is hugely persuasive if genuine, believable and visible. Micheal Gove, for example, had never been seen as a tub thumping passion driven politician, yet during the referendum campaign he was perceived as passionate, intelligent and reasoned. His personal stories and determined demeanor ensured that no one doubted his passion for the cause. Even his “…..experts” line was delivered with the passionate adjoiner that he trusted the British people to be their own experts. Tony Blair in the early years could convince regarding education and economics at least partly through a passionate and persuasive delivery. David Cameron twice tried passionate set pieces during the EU campaign. Both times left the audience unsure whether  they had witnessed desperation or set piece falsehood. Both the emergency press conference and the Churchill moment fell very flat with voters and undermined the Remain campaign still further.

Policy: Yes, despite the idea of image and media being all-encompassing, policy is still vital. It is not just that a particular policy may appeal to the voter, or even tempt a swing voter, it can create an image of the overall direction of travel. Donald Trump’s “Great Border Wall” probably upset as many people as it pleased, but many more in between will have been tempted to believe it showed a determination to act, not just in this area but in others. Vote Leaves‘” Australian Style Points System” gave voters a demonstrable feeling that it was not racist or extreme, to vote leave, but fair, and reasonable. Even clearly stating what you are not going to do can add reassurance. New Labour included a “ no tax increase” pledge in their original, and much copied, 1997 pledge card. David Cameron’s promise to hold an in/out referendum may well have ensured that Tory voters returned home in the 2015 general election, while UKIP turned its guns on Labour voters.MAGA.svg_

Positivity: The last of the five P’s listed here is one that seems to have returned to prominence in recent times. For many years the predominant messages of campaigns seemed to have focused on things that are wrong or the disaster of electing the other side. Attack ads, negative posters, scare stories about what the other side really want to do etc. Recent events indicate that, whilst negative tactics will not go away, those lacking a positive message will really struggle. Project Fear, in both recent UK based referenda, was only effective to a certain point. Whereas “Yes to Scotland” and “Take Back Control” in the UK promised a more optimistic and creative view. Trump went strongly positive in terms of making America great again and bringing back jobs and security. Wisely he twinned his approach with a merciless attack on “the system” and the “elite”. Positive themes can be seen to galvanise, and inspire, even if the same side is running negative themes concurrently. Those that rely only on fear and bashing the other side seemed both jaded and dated.

Non of the above five P’s are blindingly original, yet if you look back at the most recent campaigns, it is clear to see that the winners had massive advantages in at least two of the above and competed in the others.

Bringing it all together, a campaigning politician must know what they believe in and what they are trying to achieve, have a handful of clear headline policies that can catch the imagination, be passionate about their vision, summarise their biggest aims and assets in punchy statements and logo’s and use their own or their surrogates personalities to ensure that these are communicated in a strong and positive way.

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Combine the above with constant checking of campaign progress, whilst of course ensuring that the opposition is being heavily outgunned on two or three of the 5 P’s.