Category Archives: Politics

I look at the politics of the UK mainly. I express right wing views, euroscepticism and libertarian views.

The return of the duopoly.

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Any election produces reams of data for psehologists to pore over to their hearts’ content. One of the notable features of this election is that it confirms the return to two party politics in Wales and England.

Despite what many left wing commentators say this was a good night for the Conservatives in some respects. They won 42 per cent of the vote. That is their highest since 1987. Moreover, this is the fifth election in a row that the Conservative share of the vote has gone up. Labour need to try some serious introspection. In some respects this was their election for the taking. The Tories ran a very lacklustre campaign and ducked the leaders’ debate. The Tory manifesto was terrible and contained an explosive Policy on paying for old age care. The Conservatives focussed solely on their uninspiring leader. The economy is very slow and austerity is continuing. There is widespead dissatisfaction with the NHS. Under suchlike circumstances a decent opposition party would be returned to office.

Of the rougly 530 constituencies in England about 520 are held by either Labour or the Conservative Party. In Wales all but 4 of the 40 seats are in Labour or Conservatives hands. Plaid Cymru have 4 Members of Parliament. Welsh Liberal Democrats have gone extinct as a parliamentary party.

In Scotland three party politics prevails. to some extent even four party politics. The Liberal Democrats have four constituences in Caledonia as against only eight South of Hadrian’s Wall. The Conservatives have made huge strides in Scotland. They recovered some territory that they had lost n the 80s. The memory of the community charge is finally expunged. It is noticeable that the Tories in Scotland hold only rural territory. That had been the case for décades. Moreover, the constituences they hold are in southern Scotland and in eastern Scotland particularly around Aberdeen. Perhaps Michael Gove coming from there was a factor in regaining this land for the Conservative and Unionist Party.

Labour has regained some seats in Scotland in urban areas. This is thz start of a recovery. It is doubtful that they will replace the SNP as the largest party in the next Westminster or Hollyrood election. They might not even come second next time. There is no God given right for Labour to be one of the big two in North Britain.

The Liberal Democrats have contradicted themsevles so badly. They are ardent europhiles/ The EU is the antithesis of open government or small government. It is all about snooping and state control/ It is over regulation on sterroids. If the Lib Dems want the UK to be so typically European they should advocate compulsory ID cards which all other EU states besides the Republic of Ireland have. The Lib Dems cited the European Arrest Warrant as one of the splendid accomplishments of the EU. It is staggering that the Lib Dems should want to make it easier to imprison people. They wish to reduce people’s rights and have them sent abroad to face trial without due process. They want fewere guarantres for liberty. The Lib Dems are appealing for votes on the basis that more people will be incarcerated. One wonders what the point of having a Liberal Democratic Party is when they Attack the Conservatives for caring too much about individual liberty.

The Liberal Democrat vote fell in 2015. Its peak was 2010 despite getting fewer seats than before. It fell again in 2017. The Liberal Democrats sill not go below a certain level. They are the most pro Remain party. 48 per cent of people vote Remain but only 8 per cent voted for the Liberal Democrats. Being outspoken europhiles hurts the party and does not help it overall. By next Parliamentary election this issue will have been resolved. One might have thought a far left Labour leader would drive moderate Labour voters to the Liberal Democrats. Not a bit of it. The Lib Dem leader Farron has no presence. With a more credible leader the party will do better. They can scarcely do worse. This is their lowest share of the vote in 50 years. In terms of seats they are back where they were in 1979. Three party politics is a long way off let alone becoming the Opposition party/ They at least do not have to worry about UKIP becoming the second largest party in Parliament.

One of the major stories of this election is the collapse of UKIP; tHE PArty’s support has Fallen off a cliff. From 13 per cent it is down to 2 per cent. UKIP only fielded candidates in a third of constituencies. UKIP stood asides in many constituencies to give pro Brexit candidates from Labour or the Tories a clear run. It did not capture any seats. By next Westminster election Brexit will have been completed. The party’s raison d ‘ etre will have disappeared. The party will probably have wound up by then. Donations have stopped coming through. The party is attracting fr less media curiosoity. The virtual disappearance of UKIP to a large extent explains the return to two party politics.

Nigel Farage has talked of reassuming the leadership. But even with one of the most recognisable politicians in the United Kingdom back as leader the party has run out of steaM.

UKIP appears to be one of those parties that comes on the scene and shakes things up for a while before disappearing. There was the Social Democratic Party. This was unusual since it was a breakaway from Labour and then formed an alliance with the Liberals only to later merge with the Liberals. The Scottish Socialist Party was another such party which had a toe hold in Scots politics in the early Noughties and has since vanished. There was also a Scottish Pensioners’ Party. Common Wealth was a mildly left wing party in the 40s which made little impact. The effect of UKIP despite only ever having two Members of Parliament has been seismic. Were it not for UKIP it is doubtful that the triumvirate of parties would have addressed the issue if EU membership.

The Conservatives are right to work with the DUP.

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Theresa May has announced that her Conservative Government plan to form an alliance with the Democratic Unionist Party. This will stop short of a formal coalition. This confidence and supply arrangement will ensure that the Conservatives can carry on in office maybe for a full five year parliamentary term.

Many have castigated Mrs May for choosing to even parley with the Democratic Unionists. It is preposterous that anyone should suggest that working with the DUP is somehow rebarbative. The DUP is the largest party in Northern Ireland. Labour and the Liberal Democrats when in office regularly held consultations with the DUP. All of a sudden they would not touch the DUP with a barge pole.

In Northern Ireland the DUP shares office with Sinn Fein. Sinn Fein was a vociferously pro terrorist party till a few years ago. Their friends in the IRA repeatedly tried to kill DUP politicians. Sinn Fein really was sectarian because they acted as publicists for sectarian terrorists. The DUP sometimes engaged in unpalatable rhetoric but they were never a pro terrorist party: There ere pro loyalist terrorists parties such as the Progressive Unionists and the Ulster Democratic Party and even the Volunteer Political Party.

Much has been made of the DUP’ opposition to abortion. It is staggering that the DUP is accused of being anti Catholic when it advocates the same position as the Catholic Church. The DUP also wants the law in Northern Ireland to be the same as in the Republic of Ireland.

Almost everyone in Northern Ireland supports devolution. In Great Britain a great majority of people also want devolution for Northern Ireland. The logic of this is that there will be different policies in the different countries of the United Kingdom. It is absurd to sggest that it is an outrages for the lwa in Northern Ireland to differ from the law in Scotland, Wales and England.

It is the case that the DUP is unsupportive of same sex marriage. This was the legal position in the rest of the UK until very recently. iT IS ludicrous to treat this as an abomination. Perhaps every Prime Minister until Cameron was foul for not advocating this?

The Orange Blue alliance might prove durable. It will guarantee the United Kingdom stable governance for up to five years.

Unionists in Northern Ireland have long faced prejudice/. They have been denigrated for décades by pro IRA elements around the world. A very well organised campaign of defamation has besmirched their reputation. The UK must be the only country in the world where people are insulted merely for wishing to remain part of the country.

The DUP want an open border with the Republic of Ireland. That is a major concession to nationalisM; This inclines towards a soft Brexit which Labour and the Lib Dems find more acceptable. May’s hands on Brexit negotiations will be tied by this and europhiles ought to welcome that.

The DUP is left on jobs and benefits. Again they shall act as a moderating force. To a large etxent the DUP will stand for pork barrel politics. They want subsidies for Northern Ireland. They can prove that only they can deliver the goods. This sill stand them in good stead for winning North Down: the only unionist seat in Northern Ireland not currently in DUP hands. They may hope to take back Fermanagh South Tyrone for the unionist cause.

The DUP have been foully slandered. It is nauseating to hear this coming from Corbyn who really was pro terrorist. Furthermore; Labour was very eager to do a deal with the DUP 7 years ago.

The Strange re-birth of Tory Scotland.

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20 years ago the Tories became extinct as a parliamentary party in Scotland. It seemed that the party has little hope of revival.

Scotland voted for devolution in 1997. The Conservatives campaigned against. They then accepted accepted devolution. This meant that they Conservative and Unionist Party could no longer rely on the votes of the 25% of people who opposed devolution. The Tories soon became the fourth party in Scotland. It seemed that the Conservatives would never be a force to be reckoned with in North Britain again.

The Tories were seen as too right wing and too English.

The Scottish Parliament has regional top up MSPs. Had it not been for this then the Tories would not have had anyone in Hollyrood at all.

It was extraordinary for the Conservatives to beat Labour in the last Westminster election in Scotland.

In Ruth Davidson the Scottish Conservatives and Unionists have a leader who breaks all the stereotypes. She is a journalist and an out lesbian from Glasgow – a most unconservative city.  She is very different from the upper class men who were the face of the party until the 90s.

The separation referendum made the Tories mainstream. Labour and the Lib Dems shared platforms with the Tories. After that they could scarcely anathematise the Conservative and Unionist Party.

Labour has lost much credibility in Scotland. For those who oppose the SNP then the Conservative Party is the obvious choice to vote for. Thatcher was a hate figure for many in Scotland due to mass unemployment and the community charge. Since her death she is no longer such a factor.

The Strange Death of Labour Scotland.

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It is hard to credit that only a decade ago Labour ruled the roost in Scotland. The Labour Party had won every single election in Caledonia since 1955.Local elections, Westminster elections, European elections and Hollyrood elections -Labour reigned supreme. Scotland had had Prime Ministers in the shape of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown as well as other political leaders like Charles Kennedy, David STeel, Sir Menzies Campbell and some Conservative Cabinet Ministers. But it was the Labour Party which really kept Scotland anchored within the United Kingdom.

Let us not forget that James Keir Hardie who founded Labour and was the party,s first MP was a Scotsman. The first Labour Prime Minister James Ramsay MacDonald was also a North Briton. Notably Ramsay MacDonald flirted with Scotch nationalism in his youth. Yet in the last few years Labour has been reeling in Scotland. Labour has suffered some calamitous reverses. In 2015 Labour was unseated in some constituencies that it had held since even before it was a proper political party. These were seats in Glasgow that it had controlled for 120 years. Voting Labour was instinctive for much of the Scottish working class. This was especially so for urbanites.

Labour went into decline for various reasons. By the 2000s it was perceived as English just as the Conservatives had been in the 1990s. The liberation of Iraq was deeply unpopular in Scotland. The economic downturn form 2008 hit Scotland harder than the rest of the UK. The existence of the Scottish Parliament seemed to point towards an exclusively Scots party taking the reins. The electoral system for Hollyrood had compelled Labour to bring the Liberal Democrats into a coalition in 1999 when devolution kicked in. Labour,s mastery was broken. However, Labour was still in a fairly strong position. Labour’s role as the largest party did not appear to be in doubt. The Scottish Socialist Party took only a few votes from Labour on the left.  This challenge from the far left was credible partly due to Blair being perceived as a Tory in disguise and a warmonger. The SSP imploded in the mid 2000s.

As recently as 2010 things seemed rosy for the Labour Party. Labour’s share of the vote declined in Scotland and Wales but went up by 6 % points in Scotland. This was partly owing to Dr Brown the Prime Minister being a Scotsman. Many people seemed to vote SNP for Hollyrood but Labour for Westminster. That phenomenon has now gone.

Ten years ago the Scottish National Party first won an election and they have never looked back since. Despite losing the referendum on separation the SNP has not lost its grip on power. The SNP went into steep decline in the 1980s after losing the 1979 devolution referendum on a technicality -not getting 40% of registered voters to favour devolution. Since 2015 the SNP has suffered no such travails. The party is thriving. It swept the board at the last Westminster election and at the Hollyrood election. It looks set to do only marginally worse at this Westminster election than the previous one. The party has a young and active membership. It has plenteous generous donations coming in.

 

The SNP holds all the cards. It has a leader who is young yet experienced. Nicola Sturgeon has no skeletons in her cupboard.  The SNP was fairly successful in government though there are no budgetary problems and underperformance in education.

The SNP is the choice of a new generation. Labour is feeble and London centric. Corbyn seems to carry no weight in Scotland despite his far left views. The SNP is radical but also the establishment. It is as though Labour is the natural party of government in Scotland.

Labour does not seem to have a clear position on either Scots separation or Brexit. Labour appears to be feeble and divided. It is perceived as Tory light. The party has no big beasts. In Caledonia Labouràs best days are behind it. Young left wingers now vote for the Scottish Nationalists whereas once they would have cast their ballots for the Scottish Labour Party. An ambitious young politico would be best advised to join the SNP because they are going to win for the foreseeable future.

Many Labour voters switched to the SNP ten years ago. They meant it! They are not coming back any time soon. Time was floating voters plumped for Labour to keep the Tories out. Now they will vote SNP to stop the Conservatives.

Labour was pushed into third place as a party in Scotland last time. Could they come fourth? It is improbable. Labour has a very long way to come back as a governing party in Scotland. Most Westminster seats which the SNP captured from Labour last time are now beyond reach for this election. Do not expect a sudden Labour revival. The SNP,s fortune shall wane as the party is in office for years. This will not necessarily translate into much support returning to Labour. People can vote Lib Dem, Tory or abstain. Labour’s performance is especially abysmal when one considers that the Scottish Socialist Party is no longer a force to be reckoned with.

People are forming a habit of voting SNP. Labour has a very long way to go to regain its pre eminent position in Scots politics. It is hard to be left wing enough in Scotland but right wing enough in England. The Remainers in Scotland are likely to vote SNP or Lib Dem. Labour’s outlook on this question attracts neither Remainers or Leavers.

 

 

Which seats will change hands at Westminster?

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Tories

Gain – Berwick,, Roxborough and Selkirk

Dumfries and Galloway

This is because the SNP hold these two. The SNP only just gained them in a vintage year. Labour is set to do very badly. Both these seats were Tory 20 years ago.

Tories will gain all their target seats from Labour down to 22nd on target list – Westminster North

The Conservatives will not gain any constituencies from the Lib Dems. This is because 2015 was the nadir of the Liberal Democrats. The Lib Dems will recover

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UKIP

They will lose Clacton on Sea

they shall gain Hartelpool. This is Labour held and UKIP ran them close last time. Labour’s vote is falling back.

 

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LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

tHEY will gain all the seats they need to on their list up to 5% swing. That is Fife North East – formely Sir Menzies Campbell’s seat. This will involve taking three constituencies off the Scottish National Party.

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GREENS

They will take Bristol West off Labour. They are very close their and Labour’s vote is falling. It will be historic for Labour to lose Tony Benn’s old constituency. He lost it in 1983. Liberal Democrats took his second constituency Chesterfield in 2001.

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PLAID CYMRU

You might think that the Plaid will play the same role as the SNP did this time – taking seats from Labour in the Celtic fringe. That would over egg it considerably.

They shall gain Ynys Mon from Labour which the Plaid used to hold.

Ceredigion (from the Lib Dems)

and Llaneli from Labour.

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DUP

They shall gain Belfast South from the SDLP

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SINN FEIN

No gains

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UUP

No gains

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Spare a thought for Bill O’Reilly.

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Mr O’Reilly deserves less sympathy than most. I have no truck with his militaristic, hyper capitalist, Muslim baiting screeds. Bill O’Reilly is part of a dangerous tendency in American politics and broadcasting. He is ludicrously partisan, rude, aggressive and unanalytical. He has only two modes in interviewing: sycophancy or brutality. Fox News and its doyen O’Reilly create a constant sense of crisis in order to keep viewing figures high. Attacks by Muslims are reported with huge prominence. When US forces killed 150 civilians in Iraq this barely rated a mention. O’Reilly wants his views to be terrified and irate. This man has monetised making  American people scared of Muslims and mistrustful of non -Americans. Bill O’Reilly is a multimillionaire who is determined to keep the vast majority of America’s wealth in the hands of a tiny number of people. Such regressive policies makes life enormously harder for the great majority of Americans who are middle class and , dare we mention, working class.

Bill O’Reilly was accused of sexually harassing his colleagues. What this man has been accused of is not a crime. No one has ever suggested he committed rape or even sexual assault. All he allegedly did was to say things which some people found objectionable. That should not terminate anyone’s career. Moreover, one woman said that he leered at her. A facial expression will end one of the most distinguished careers in American journalism. Really? This is hard to fathom. One of his African-American colleagues said that he greeted her with ”hot chocolate.” Even if this is true this is a disdemeanour.

Let us for the sake of argument assume that the entirety of these allegations is completely veraciour. In that case O’Reilly has been rash and unpleasant. He ought to apologise and pay a few hundred dollars in compensation. Let us get this in perspective and not over react.

O’Reilly’s fans say that these allegations were propounded by far left organisations. These allegations were made by women who worked with him. Even if the far left made these accusations that does not make them false but yes they are a little less credible because of possible political bias.

I am glad that this man is off the screen. His baleful influence has poisoned public discourse in the United States. He is insanely one sided on the Palestine issue. His chauvinistic and bellicose rhetoric has done a huge amount of harm. He besmirched Black Lives Matter as a hate group. The United States is safer without him on the airwaves.

2017 UK election forecast.

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Labour have 230 seats at the moment. Their worst post war result was 209 MPs in 1983. Labour is at 24% in the polls at the moment. This is appreciably worse than their 1983 outcome. Yet it gets even worse. In 1983 the SNP was feeble  – with only three MPs. Nowadays the SNP is a major force – far stronger than Labour in Scotland. Therefore Labour could do much worse than their pisspoor showing in 1983. So take 209 seats and subtract 50 seats to take into account Labour having only one MP in Scotland. That puts Labour down at 160 seats! This is worse than the Tories did in 1997. In fact Labour will not do that catastrophically. In some regions Labour’s support is very reliable. There is a certain point below which Labour will not go. Do not expect the party to implode.

In the last election some of Labour’s already safe seats became rock solid. This was the case in northern England. Labour will not lose any seats there. Labour is vulnerable in the ENglish Midlands.

Labour faces a very long struggle to make itself a party of government again.

Labour will probably claw back 5 seats from the SNP in Scotland. The SNP’s popularity has not been seriously dented since it swept the board last time at the Westminster election.

The PLaid might win some more seats in Wales – like two more. It could profit from Labour’s weakness. This is especially so in three cornered fights.

There is a growing economy and the Prime Minister has a higher approval rating than the leader of the Opposition. These factors together make the Tories all but unbeatable.

The Lib Dems hold 9 seats at the moment. They had over 60 MPs until 2010. But remember the norm for the Liberals since the Second World War. They had fewer than 10 MPs. In 1992 they had only 20 MPs. The Liberal Democrats may recapture some seats from the Conservatives that they lost in southern England in 2010.

UKIP has already reached the summit of its success. It traditionally does worse at Westminster elections that European elections. Therefore one can anticipate that it will not win any seats at all. It is at 10% in the polls – considerably down on its 14% record last time.  UKIP’s collapse will have little effect. Tories can breathe easier in southern England. Safe Labour seats in northern England shall become even safer.

The Greens will hold Brighton and maybe capture one more seat.

Gerald Kaufman’s seat will not be captured by George Galloway. Labour shall hold it.

Do not expect and changes in Northern Ireland. Sinn Fein might come closer than before in some seats.

The Conservatives look to be in for a very good night. They will go up by at least 20 seats. That may not seem like much but bear in mind the era of landslides is over. They are 10 to 20% ahead of Labour in the polls. There has not been a landslide win since 2001. But be aware that opinion polls usually under rate Conservative support. Tories are better at turnout. Depressed Labour voters might not be motivated to vote. They may indulged themselves in voting for a minor party knowing that Labour cannot possible win.

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Tories are on 330 and will go up to 350. (They take 25 off Labour but lose 6 to the Lib Dems)

Labour are on 240 and will go down to 220. (gain 6 from SNP)

Lib Dems on 9 go up to 15 (gain 6 from Tories and 2 from SNP)

Plaid Cymru on 2 go up to 3 (1 from Labour)

SNP on 56 go down to 48

No other changes.