Category Archives: Blog

Party Leaders, Winning, Emptiness and Popularity.

mayreddress

The Conservative Party needs a leader. Since Thatcher, long-lived and falsely successful leadership (North Sea Oil and selling off the State’s family silver) we have had John Major, William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith, Michael Howard, David Cameron and Teresa May in 27 years. May now faces a challenge, though she won the last election, because she might not win the next one. Note the central credo. A Conservative leader must win elections. Says who? Why MPs with seats to defend, who also largely select leaders in the Conservative Party.

Of course, Labour has proved no different. Corbyn had to go, and was rubbished by most of his party’s MPs until, at the 2017 election is became clear that Corbyn nearly won, was on the right side of history, supported by the young, and suddenly from deepest venom they all marched up the hill again and became Corbynistas. Fortunately, the leader had been schooled in several decades of insignificant unpopularity and may survive adulation, but the MPs clearly have few political principles and want to keep their seats warm. They change with the wind of Public Opinion Polls, or POP for short.

So, what is a democratic party? It is, in truth, (not used lightly) a shared body of convictions and principles which people believe should by conscience, preferably before God, shape the policies of government through elections. It is conscience (that great word), not power. It is the sifting of truth and error in public life, so that we might do what is right and good, and here’s the rub. Democratic parties are often wrong. Selling council houses in the 80s and 90s and not putting the money into new housebuilding was wrong. Deregulating banks was wrong. Invading Iraq was wrong. Allowing off-shore tax evasion was wrong. Cutting public services is wrong. Privatising rail was wrong. In fact, a high proportion of what parties advocate is wrong, aside the logic that given three or four parties disagree, being wrong must be a big part of politics.

But it is worse than this. The electorate is also (usually) wrong. A Republican Party which can choose Reagan, George W. Bush and now Trump is in a stage of terminal mindlessness, a world danger given its military dominance. We vote for Thatcher because she wins a war against Argentina or perhaps against a figure who coughs at a party conference. We vote for climate change deniers, or ignorers, in Gadarene droves. This is not said triumphally. Finding we are wrong, and learning from it, is one of the best routes to understanding on the planet. If ordinary Jews can be persuaded to vote for Barabbas and against Jesus, the human race has problems, as of course it has – now – in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Las Vegas, Kensington or wherever the wounded doctor puts his figure on the pulse. Learning what is wrong is a prophetically deep task, and the real precursors of democratic parties are Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Socrates and John the Baptist, but especially Jesus in Matthew 23.

For we are all hypocrites:- taxation, but not for me, British self-interest, but not that of other nations, my pay high and others low, my house price rise and pseudo-concern for others, peace with nukes, Great Britain but not great France, cheap goods and slave labour, our boys courageous, but theirs do outrageous killing, my car pollution but cut greenhouse gases. We are in a deep hypocritical crisis.

What is this guy on about? May will have to go/stay. Trump will come and go. Putin will stay or go. It is all about power, democratic power, now media-centric power, the tweet of the President. So, the poor and jobless of middle America choose the born rich, mindless master of media exposure. It is all about power, even power prostituted by fake news, and leaders have to win. It is all about power. But it is not all about power. Jesus of Nazareth chose to rule from another place. His power was humble truth, hungering and thirsting for the right and just, loving enemies, knowing economic contentment and having no-where to lay his head. It was Pilate (Roman power) or Jesus (witnessing to the truth), and Jesus won, not with a knock-out blow, but by the long humble search for truth before the Spirit of God.

So today we face a crisis in party politics. The empty process of winning, of rubbishing the opposition, as though the truth does not matter, of seeking popularity as though the voter is always right, of choosing the vote winning leader irrespective of content, or forging the strap line for the election and using the people yet again.

Corbyn broke the mould, but is now rubbishing according to the culture. We need political repentance of an unprecedented kind to really rescue democratic party politics. We need to look to Christ, and see the crown of thorns truly.

Good Morning, troopers,

boris

It is exciting that you have turned out in such large numbers and have managed to finish breakfast by this unearthly hour. My first hope for Brexit is that the Full English breakfast will be returned to its proper place, preferably served on silverware. It is only a F.E.B start to the day that allows the work and government of the day to be finished before 4 o’clock and we should put it in our manifesto.

This is an important speech on an important subject, and I must not be sidetracked by other issues. Let me say what an outstanding, indeed even good, leader, Teresa May is in these challenging times for our country. And when she is gone, we will be eternally grateful for what she has done. As your Foreign Secretary I face challenges from Russia, Syria, Burma, China and the British Virgin Islands. In fact, there is nothing I enjoy more than the challenge from the British Virgin Isles. Ho. Ho. Ho. Fortunately, the horrible hurricanes did not actually hit our investments. I was a teeny bit worried and asked one of our Treasury wallahs about it. He said that the money was not actually there. But I have every confidence that old Hammo will be able to find it somewhere in the Empire.

Which brings me to my next topic. I am determined to find the money we have got. We are a rich country, but we have put the dosh under the mattress somewhere, and haven’t been able to find it. I lose things all the time. But they are not really lost. The servants can always find them. The key issue in Brexit is that we have lost a lot of money in Europe. We give it away every year, and Italian tourists don’t spend all their £s and then take them back home. So, my policy on Brexit is to find the money under the mattress, so that we can spend it on the NHS and nurses and things. We must get the best deal on Brexit and not a second longer. If we let Europe get too uppity, we are on the road to Mandalay, as Virgil said in the Iliad. My deepest thought on this is to remember Euro. Euro is EU owe, get it? Wot Ho. They owe. We get it.

But I must get back to my subject. Some of you wallahs may have read my book on Churchill, an amazing man, the greatest leader we ever had. He fought against great odds. He only went to Harrow and was too small to play in the scrum, but he came through. When the time was right he fought against Europe, or bits of it, when our backs were to the wall. He fought them in the beeches. That is what we must do now, with the right leader. Some of my Foreign Office guys point out that Europe is not fighting us. That is probably true, but it must not stop the Dunkirk spirit, and we must end this class stuff and all get down in the scrum and push together.

The trouble is we are pushing, but the opposition will not put the ball in. So I say to Europe, Put The Ball In, or placer le sphere en, or whatever, and I am prepared to lead the push on a level playing field. At this time, we need some weight in the scrum and we will push to victory when we leave Europe and they go back to the pavilion. We will push and I will keep my head down until the job is done.

So, thank you for coming this morning. This conference is about confidence, about confidence in your leader, and I salute you. Teresa May, or May not, (get the pun), be our leader at the next election, but I will serve as I am asked, especially now David and George have left the field. So, thank you troopers for listening to this momentous talk on this momentous topic.

My Very Dear Donald,

May

Thank you for your wonderful letter full of informalities and pearls of wisdom. Could you put the “e” before the “r” in my name, please. It’s harder than “Donald”. I shall treasure it as pure you and it will probably finish up in the Ordinary British Museum to show that you wrote to us. We await the Great United States of America Announcement and I am teaching all our people to say GUSA now, though Boris will take a long while to learn it. Trumpacare sounds very nice too.

I am glad, Mr President, that you are addressing the North Korean situation. I said last year in the Trident debate, we need our nuclear weapons to defend ourselves against North Korea, and you are even nearer than we are. I seem to remember that General MacArthur wanted to drop atomic bombs on them in the Korean War. It is a pity he did not finish the job.

I do not understand why North Korea should want nuclear weapons and missiles. They should know that we have about eight thousand and they will have only about ten. That is pathetic. I do not know what they are frightened of. I hope you will let me know of any attack and we will send one of our smaller missiles along too and an attack helicopter in support of your strike. I may not be Tony Blair but I can back GUSA when you need me.

You said in your wonderful letter that you had installed buttons on our missiles to switch them off if necessary. I know you made them and kindly exported them to us, and I know that when one of your superb wockets went astray off your coast in one of our trials, you were able to explode it before it damaged the United States. I was very grateful for that and staying allies and not thinking of nuking us, but I have to say that we are supposed to have an independent nuclear deterrent, and if noise of your buttons got around it would be difficult for me in the House of Commons. Corbyn, that awful man, might want an off-button too.

I think the way you sack your staff is so impressive. As a woman I find it more difficult. I want to sack most of mine. Boris is mentally in a scrum, Philip has to go. Gove is still in short trousers. But they are after me, like they are after you, and I am too afraid to sack them. They would seek their revenge. It is indeed lonely at the top. That is why we must stick together, me slightly behind. I have asked the Queen to retrain the staff for your visit and I understand you want all the furry hat soldiers who stamp to do their show. Of course. And there is a room in the palace with a long carpet where you can practice putting.

With my effusive best wishes and the understanding that the British will want to buy everything from GUSA in our new trade deal.

Teresa May (Ordinary Britain Prime Minister, your ally)

If you are reading this to him say what a nice letter it is.

Dear Treesa

trump

I thort i’ts time yoo gotten a tweet from me to yoo NOW. I try to rite out of the system, so they carnt get me. Sleazy Washington that is.

I learnt to tipe for my fans and twitter, but will not put my secretary on this one. Its pure me. Yoo can save it for history

Ta for the invite. Ill be over sometime when your Queen has cleared the Palace West Wing and yoov trained the staff. May stay for golf.

Contry to the media, the White House is not shit. Im planning doing it blue with another ten storys. Yoo must quit that terrace!

Hilary is in leeeG with RUSSIA and RUSSIA is the enemy. North Korea can be a US State and China is DISAPPOINTING. See it clearly, not through FAKE NEWS.

Thank yoo for looking after my golf course and keeping the Scots quiet up there. I need a runway right by it on flat land. Thanks.

I’ts a bit scary here! My workers are goin mad sackin one another, but now I’ve put a General in charge and heel shoot hell out of them that steps out of line. Is that sentence too long?

But weer running the greatest show on earth and weeve done nearly everything already. I’m changing Omabacare to Trumpcare.

Someone’s got to be in CHARGE, Treesa, and in Britain its yoo under me of course, not FAKE NEWS.

Yoove got to get your family in the Goverment. Your man could be Treasury with his hands on the money and then you can move things.

Get the stock market up and all the rich kids wont give a damn about anything else. Its wot yoo say that counts not what yoo doo.

Remember, If yoo change your mind, its still the same mind, because its your mind.

Weer doing a major trade deal. Yoo need our beef, our planes, our bombs, our films, our steel, our corn and we need your beefeaters and things.

Tell your Boris guy that I like GUSA, but I’m not sure about GB. It’s a bit hi and mighty close to us and you should change it to Ordinary Britain or OB. GUSA and OB – that’s nice.

I’m working on nuking all the people who can nuke us. You don’t count cos yoove got our nukes anyway and weeve got switches.

That’s all you need for now. Dont mention it. Remember the runway.

Donald, the GestPOTGUSA.

My dear Donald

mayreddress

It was good and positive to see you at the podium again, exercising strong leadership and speaking to the world. I see you were wearing a red tie. It is a good move. I have been wearing a lot of red dresses recently, one at a time, because it is not good for the socialists and communists to have the colour red all to themselves. In England we have the saying, “like a red rag to a bull”. Well, you are the bull and you have the red tie.

I was glad to see that you are fighting for America, and for American business, and to make America great again in relation to climate change. We are fighting to make Britain, and America, great again. I have had a word from Boris Johnson, our foreign man, saying that if you propose to rename America, the Great USA, would you give him notice, since he is thinking of the Great United Kingdom over here, and it would be good to launch GUSA and GUK together. He has been practising saying GUK and GUSA for weeks.

We, of course, do not take climate change too seriously and try to talk it down, especially since my predecessor went to the Arctic. We have lots of these frightful windmills that spoil the view on our country estates, but I am a teeny, weenie bit disappointed that you dropped the whole thing. Quite a lot of our people read science and think that billions of cars going around with their heaters on warms the planet. I know that you have not completely ruled that out. I have passed on your brilliant idea of big air conditioners made in America to our environment people. Also, your trade man asked if we have coal. Yes, we do – somewhere up North – but I’m sure we could import some good ol’ American coal, as you say. But I am sure that you alone can fight off climate change in America and we will fight it off here, “on the beaches” as our great leader Churchill said.

You nearly asked me about our election next week. I would like to say that I am showing strong and stable leadership and fighting for Great Britain. It is imperative that I am in the Negotiating Chair for Brexit (that Europe thing) and I will make Britain great again. When I say we will be a world leader, I do not mean, the world leader, which of course is you, but we will be slightly behind. I am looking forward to my next summit with you when I am re-elected by a big majority because I am the best vote by far. Could I just say that I do not mind if this paragraph is leaked.

Can I just say how much I appreciate how tough it is when one’s party becomes toxic and the whole election depends on oneself. But I will come through, and like yourself, win a resounding electoral victory supported by an overwhelming majority who will come together in unity under my and our leadership giving a bright future for everybody. I am asking the Queen again about your castle thing.

Just so that your man does not have to read this letter I am sending a taped version, so that you can hear my British accent and I do not have to hear your interruptions.

With spiffling, as we say in England, best wishes,

Theresa.

The Brexit Negotiations – Why May does not matter.

May

The central claim in the Conservative election campaign is that May, alone among the leaders, can bargain a good Brexit deal. The election was called to give her a mandate and we should vote for her to negotiate Brexit. She offers “strong and stable leadership” during this process and she will win a good deal for us.

May has pledged that she will “fight for Britain” and has said repeatedly that “no deal is better than a bad deal.” She is the one who should sit in the “Negotiating Chair” and she will make the difference. But is this personality pitch really what might happen? This article suggests the Emperor has no clothes. Really, May does not matter. The bargaining and trade solution will be worked out in a predictable way, not by one person. She will make little difference. May’s claim is a myth, mere posturing, sadly duping millions of voters who do not question her slogans. This snowman must be brought out into the sun so that it melts away.

Not one person, but the overall European trade situation, will shape the trade negotiations. They will be carried out by EU and UK civil servants with input from the biggest trading companies on both sides and will certainly not be formulated or evaluated by an inexpert Prime Minister posturing “strong”. The factors involved will be those normally considered in trade economics. The outcome will roughly be the following.

Because both sides have strongly linked trade, tariffs will be low. The big companies involved will see to that. The EU has to levy tariff at some rate to show we have left the single market, but their exporters will want it low. Neither side can lose face by having a differential tariff against them – say 4% on imports and 6% on exports, and so the rate will be the same both ways. Because the UK imports more than it exports, it has one bargaining chip. Because we export half of our total to the EU, they have a bargaining chip. A mutual tariff of 1% looks derisory, and so it will be 2%, 3% or 4%. Five per cent would begin to harm trade. My guess is 2%. Teresa May will largely be immaterial to the result.

Because the Conservatives have now destroyed UKIP, there is no pressure towards isolationism. Migration may even out, but May is offering no policy to cut immigration. Deals on banking may be harder. Environment, employment, trade rules, quality control and other areas will largely follow current European practice, partly because it is good and partly because UK export trade will have to follow that pattern anyway.

So May’s initial rhetoric towards negotiations is wrong. No deal is a bad deal and incompetent. Therefore, there will be a deal, unless flaring egos create problems. Either Corbyn or May will come away with 2-3% tariffs, whoever is in Number 10, and May’s election pitch is entirely unreal. The trade outcome is about as predictable as economics gets.

However, there is an elephant in the room – a UK trade crisis we are completely ignoring. In March, 2017 total trade exports were £31.4bn and total trade imports were £45.7bn, a deficit of £14.3bn. Weigh those figures. We would need to increase our exports by some 45% to be in trade balance. The trade deficit is over £100bn a year. Normally, economists use the UK Current Account Balance which includes services to assess the overall trading position, but even that is £60bn a year. This pattern has emerged over a long period and the accumulated deficit is over £1trillion. As a result more than half of the UK’s quoted companies by value and much property are owned abroad. This situation is not stable; it depends on many foreigners continuing to hold UK assets. A crisis will probably emerge in the coming five years.

Put in other terms, we are not paying our way and the situation is chronic. Each household is spending over £2000 a year more on imports than it is generating by exports and one way or another our incomes will fall. This is the issue of substance.

Sataday mornin market.

Michael were a bit pissed, an he peeled orf Freda’s arm. “I’m just gooin t’maarkit,” he say. The pigs, they were a screechin and the Auctioneer were rattlin on as he go over the stones ter the ring. He staggered as a coo were ‘it and honked in his lug with its eyes open wild. The smell of that dung whiffed by im and he buried into the crowd and met Joe. Joe’d been in the Cobblers and he was right merry too. They couldn’ hardly hear theirselves speak as th’Auctioneer gabbled, slowd down, said, “Am I bid” and slammed the gavel down on the desk.
Michael, he wanted to pee, but then some ole bor knocked his glasses off as the heifers come down the tunnel. “Blast me, bor” he say, “Can’t see a bloody thing.” Suddenly Joe grabbed him. What’s he a playing of? The side door were open, and Joe pushed im long the tunnel into the ring.
There were a right din and load of cheerin’ and the Auctioneer opened up, “What am I bid fer this ole bull?” “Yew can’t sell me, dammit,” said Mike, but the biddin struck up all round the ring with Mike standing in the straw and muck. Eighty, five, ninety, five, ‘undred, ten, twenty. Come on, he’ll look ater yer cows. Mike checked his flies, looked round frazzled and then there were another mighty cheer.
Freda came up the tunnel. As she came into the ring, she thacked Joe in his stomach with her brolly. He crumpled gaspin’ and coffin’ but no-one cared. Freda marched up to Mike. “Just you stay with me an you woont be sold, you silly ol bugger” she say. “Yis,” he say and stumbled after her outer th’ring. Someone stuck his glasses in his top pocket. “Yew stay wime and don’t be such a silly ole fool,” say Freda. “Yew stay wime and yer won’t get lost” And this is the word of the Lord. “You stay with me and you won’t get lost.”

The Moneychangers in the Temple

I have been asleep most of my life in relation to the level of control exercised by the Right in western politics. Just doing work on the United States at the end of WW2. Roosevelt had fought the moneychangers in the Temple, faced a Fascist coup, fought the Nazi linked munitions people during the War and in 1944 was going to be elected with his Vice President, Henry Wallace. In April 1944 Wallace warned in the New York Times about American Fascism and the way it was operating. They were outed, associated with the Nazis, and did not like it. They set out to get him and moved him off the Vice Presidential nomination though he was the most popular and shooed Truman in to be President when Roosevelt died. A lot of it was anti-black racism which Wallace also exposed. Then a red scare, McCarthy, Nixon, villify a few people who were USSR sympathysers or US Communists, and anything socialist was automatically damned on a scale which made the masses distrust socialism. Stalin was villified even though the USSR had lost 25 million people while the US and UK had lost half a million in WW2. Churchill gave the Fulton Iron Curtain speech to prevent US co-operation with the USSR. Evangelicalism was courted to lurch to the right. The Cold War kept the military companies in business. Since then the Right has controlled, taking out influences like Jimmy Carter and Obama who might do something different.
The Right, including the Fascist Right, fight dirty also in Britain, as they did in the fake Zinoviev telgram to get rid of Labour in 1924, as they tried during the War with the Hesse flight, as they did against Foot and CND and as they are doing now with Corbyn. They need to prevent real democracy breaking out, and they will. They can tame and take over any attempts to reform them. Corbyn is being sewn up and the Labour establishment are also doing the darning. We have not started to address the moneychangers in the Temple, and they are in the Temple, running it.

Autumn Statement Review

This is, if you want it, another review of the Autumn Statement. Osborne is giving away £6.2 bn more next year, half on tax credits. It is a slight anti-austerity move. His basis for so doing is an Office for Budget Responsibility forecast of a £2.9bn improvement in tax receipts. £6.2 is more than twice £2.9, but they are small amounts in the bigger scheme of things. The key question is the forecast which is of 2.4% growth for the next three years or so. There are problems with this.
1. The OBR’s forecasts on exports and the overall trade position look very optimistic both in terms of external demand for our exports and our ability to increase them.
2. We depend on incoming investment. That could reverse.
3. There is a vast amount of personal debt. Sooner or later it will tighten consumption.
4. It assumes the South-East bubble will not burst, but quite a lot of that bubble is speculative.
5. It seems not to factor in the effects of BofE base rate rises for all this Parliament.
6.It does not address the disarray and understaffing of HMRC.
7. It assumes stability in the banking sector.
If growth falls (it is nearly zero in real terms now) the deficit will not fall much (which does not matter a great deal as it would not under Labour)
The underlying reality (obscured by Osborne’s theatricals) is that the whole economy is geared towards the rich in the South-East and is draining the ability of young, poor people to live and work properly. The trend towards selling off the family silver continues. Over £1 trillion of public assets have been sold off cheaply, mainly to the rich, over the last few decades and now we owe hospitals, schools and houses to the private finance sector.
It is worrying that the move towards stronger Council Tax will protect propertied areas and impoverish further the already poor areas.

Self-righteousness and the Council Tax

Jesus’ life and teaching towers over human history and politics. He is the light that shows us what is going on in clarity and true perspective. First, we listen to him and then we see, darkly at first and then more clearly. More than this, the truth is not easy. We have to fight for it, inside and out. So when Jesus addresses self-righteousness among the political leaders of his day – the Sanhedrin, law-makers and Temple Party and accuses them of self-righteousness, it is not merely a local skirmish but one of the universal sins of politics. We can escape it, with God’s help, but it lurks at the door, or takes up residence in the living room, especially of Numbers 10 and 11 Downing Street. Self-righteousness is linked with hypocrisy, with being a gleaming tomb full of dead men’s bones – right on the outside and corrupt inside.

So when David Cameron writes to his local Council castigating them for their cuts, when the Council’s grants from government have fallen from £194m a year in 2009/10 to £122m this year, outwardly it righteously attacks cuts when inwardly it has caused them, and the media smells the whiff. The quest for truth, itself in danger of self-righteousness, smells out the full story as a dog sniffs for drugs. This is part of the Christian calling. We are called not to be wimps, as bishops and archbishops have often been, but to hunger and thirst for righteousness, and that is no passive supplicant business, but out there with the prophets avidly truth-seeking and outing hypocrisy.

Thus, when Osborne praises the Conservatives and himself for putting the economy right, he is hiding the bones. His “eliminating the deficit” is asking lots of poor people and organisations to take cuts so that his Government may glow with self-righteousness. It has happened before. In the Thatcher era employers sacked loads of people, destroyed the unions to depress working class pay, and told the rest to work harder, and then took the credit. They started to pay themselves mega-money, as “wealth creators”, but were extracting it from others.

It so happens that Osborne, for good economic reasons, like the fact that we are spending net 6% of our income abroad, will probably fail in this Parliament, as he did last, to balance the books. Nevertheless, the self-righteousness of the Tory establishment will not wane. Being right can always find an excuse.

But the quest for truth also leads us to ourselves. There are three main financial distortions to wealth in our economy. The first occurs through the electronic creation of money by banks which has hefted them a vast windfall of £1 trillion and more and led to the long-term City of London bonanza and the 2008 crisis. The second is the successful evasion of tax by the rich, both individuals and corporations, which has led to these groups receiving over £1 trillion they should not have, but the third, of a similar size involves many of us.

A vast majority of house owners have experienced house price rises averaging well over £100,000. Those who own these houses, some 20 million including privately rented properties, have therefore received a windfall, taking into account ordinary inflation, of well over £1 trillion, a vast transfer. This windfall does not come from no-where.

Who has paid? The processes are complex, but largely this money comes from the young who are paying vast amounts for houses or renting. Part of the story is the late middle aged beneficiaries who had lots of houses built for them, but failed to build them for the next generation. Much of the blame lies with Thatcher and Lawson who sold off Council Houses but did not use the income to build more houses. If this is deeply unfair, how can it be remedied?

Actually, there is a focussed, fair and economically sound answer. Council Tax Property Revaluations have not been done since 1993, largely because the rich who have benefitted considerably from house price rises, would also make a fuss about what is the required move in relation to paying this tax. Council Tax does not even tax the rich fairly now; someone who lives in a multi-million pound mansion only pays about three times more than someone who lives in a bedsit. Revaluation can be done now. At present Council Tax raises about £28 billion; it could easily raise twice that amount, solving most of George Osborne’s problems. It would also take the steam out of the dangerously overheated housing market in the South East. We who have had windfalls from house price rises should advocate this policy to help put right the injustice from which we have benefitted. Let’s do it and solve the Government’s problems.