'Oh, so that's who Richard Morris is..." Lord Hattersley on The Daily Politics

'An influential activist' - The Guardian

'Iain Dale, without the self loathing' - Matthew Fox in The New Statesman

You are a tinker...' - Tim Farron

Monday, 16 January 2017

Here's a picture of the UK politician in charge of negotiating Brexit.

It's not who you were expecting is it?

Indeed, he's not currently even in any elected office. Never the less, he's not only negotiated Brexit, he's already signed all the papers

And the deal isn't soft, transitional or any of the other terms we might like. It's hard as hard can be.

So how come we don't know about it?

Well, we do. It's a matter of public record. It's called the Treaty of Lisbon and it was signed in December 2007

And as the ever thought provoking David Allen Green has pointed out it makes clear the terms of our departure from the EU. The 2 years from the triggering of Article 50 are the transitional period - and that is all about logistics, not terms of departure.

This is, I believe, the mistake made by both Leave and Remain sides (though in fairness not the most extreme end of the Leave side) - the assumption that the negotiating hasn't started yet. Whereas in fact its effectively finished - unless both sides choose otherwise.

Just because we want a further negotiation doesn't mean the other side will engage in it

Which could make for a very short meeting the day after we trigger Article 50. Aptly enough a meeting likely to take place on April 1st.

Friday, 13 January 2017

First Past The Post. Isn't it fantastic.

The good folk of Stoke Central know what they want. And they know what they don't want. And what they don't want is... the EU.

The electorate in the forthcoming by election voted 69% Leave in the referendum. We were 5th in 2015 - behind an independent.

So we've got no chance in the by election, have we?


We have historical strength in the constituency - we came second in 2010. So presumably there's still a party machine and some great activists in Stoke.

And here's the thing. Labour is making all sorts of Leave noises in an attempt to bolster its vote. UKIP will do same times 10. Tories ditto - and the latter two were neck and neck last time.

Splitting 69% three ways gives each party just 23%

Hoovering up the remaining 31% of Remain voters means under the vagaries of FPTP - we win.

I'm not saying its fair or right. Because as we know, FPTP is neither fair nor right.

But I am saying - we might just win.

Which is why our odds have gone from 50:1 to 7:1 today

On a roll

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Did Zac spend £95k losing the Richmond Park election?

Good report in Buzzfeed on Zac's election expenses, suggesting he may have spent £95k on his campaign.

My favourite part of the story is this

To which i can only add 'tell me about it'


Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Not so much fake news as rubbish wish-fulfilment-reporting

Call me a silly old traditional liberal but I tend to believe much of the reporting I read.

So when I heard that many Republican members of the US Electoral College were thinking of switching sides I thought "this sounds promising". 

I read with interest pieces like this one, asking  

"What does it take to be a rebel, when your instinct is to follow the herd? That's the question that comes to mind when you consider the Hamilton Electors, the growing movement of Republican electors who are choosing not to vote for Donald Trump next Monday".

Or this piece, who's headline stated "This Harvard professor believes 20 Electoral College voters will switch sides"

And just in case you think I ONLY read Fast Company there's.... this one, or this one , or this one

And so the day dawned. and folk gathered on the steps of State Capitals and protested.

And indeed some members of the electoral college did indeed defy the electorate and refused to vote for the chosen candidate.

Not quite the 37 needed. Nor indeed the 20 who had 'indicated' they might switch. In all 9 defied convention (or tried to and were replaced).

But here's the rub.

Just 3 of those who refused to vote for the nominated candidate refused to vote Trump.

Twice as many (6) refused to support ...Clinton. Including 4 in Washington Sate who claimed they were refusing to back her to encourage other Republicans to do the same. Which twisted logic might work if they weren't amongst the last part of the colleges to vote. 

Now I'm not suggesting there's any amount of outright fibbing been going on here. But it does strike me that the reporting does appear to have been an exercise in 'wishful thinking'. After all no one's been reporting an anti Clinton backlash going into the college. But it looks more like that than an anti Trump vote.

The media needs to do much much better.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

So, what's going to happen in a year....

So, Labour high ups seem to think their polling numbers are going to improve considerable in 2017.

It makes one wonder - why might they think that? They're not going to change leader. they're not going to change direction. There are no national elections next year? So what's going to change?

Might this be the answer?

It might not be because they are going to do something. It might be because they are quite deliberately going to do nothing.

The one big thing that we (almost) certainly know next year is that the Brexit negotiations will begin. If they go spectacularly badly, the Tories will be punished. So, quite possibly will UKIP.

If they go spectacularly well  - a scenario which puts us in a tricky position politically, as we'd like them to go well, whatever are beliefs - chances are our poll numbers will drop.

But as things stand, the 'party of the 0%' (what a great phrase that is) can jump either way, when they see which way the wind is blowing.

And that is the game I think Labour are playing - and why we get contradictory mood music from them all the time...

It's a cynical waiting game.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Is the Theresa May Trouser's thing a new departure? Not so sure...

A brief word on trousergate. I've noticed 2 things coming up over and over again. That the obsession is a tad misogynistic and also a new phenomenon. But I'm not sure. It strikes me that we have a rich tradition of commenting on our leaders attire - and the gender of said leader is neither here nor there...

PS. Is 'what are they wearing" the new "good day to bury bad news"

Happenstance. Coincidence. Enemy Action

One of the perils of blogging at this busy time of year is you think of a great blog post and then before you get the chance to write it up, the national press nip in first.

So when Diane Abbott answered a straight question with a straight answer yesterday - and said Corbyn had 12 months to close the gap in the polls before questions about lis leadership should be asked - I thought immediately there's a good blog there. Especially when another friend of Corbyn, Ken , followed up with a similar statement an hour later. Sadly, the world and his wife got on while I was still supervising the gingerbread house and balancing the tree out.

Still its only 2 'friends' saying it  and as Ian Fleming pointed out, you need 3 occurences before it's 'enemy action'. But it does look a tad co-ordinated. So we know have 364 days for Corbyn to start closing the gap. And remember - it's just 'start' - not close the whole thing...

Latest opinion poll has it as...

Tories 42
Labour 25

To be honest - it doesn't look overly challenging does it...