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Showing posts from June, 2016

As the political vacuum in the UK continues, the markets are filling the gap

The UK fiasco has continued unabated. Neither the Conservatives nor the Labour party have any effective leader. It is quite clear that the victorious Leave camp is totally divided as to what should happen next, and there is no clear plan as to what level of engagement or disengagement the UK will have with the European Union.

The market collapse that is taking place is the responsibility of the utterly irresponsible leaders of the Leave campaign. So, it could well be that having wielded the knife against David Cameron, Boris Johnson may yet go the way of a previous Tory challenger: Michael Heseltine. Perhaps Theresa May as leader could provide some reassurance, but in the face of economic meltdown, the calls for an early general election -which under the circumstances is clearly necessary- may create an untenable situation for any party. The fractious and divided body politic of the UK is on the brink of collapse. The cowardly, but sullen and determined Jeremy Corbyn is facing the tota…

Leadership vacuum

In the three days since the UK's referendum it has become clear that the Leave campaign were not merely lying about the impact of the EU, they literally had no idea about what would happen if they won.

The backlash has been enormous- I think the level of "buyers remorse" is now so severe that if the referendum was now re-run, that Remain would utterly crush the Leavers.

The problem is that even if the referendum could be re-run, the damage is already done. The differential vote, with Scotland strongly supporting the EU, and England voting to leave has restarted the divisive and difficult argument over Scottish independence. The economic damage is already in the billions, and the next week will see further carnage in the markets.

From the point of view of the EU, there is a clear temptation to push the UK out and try to reconfigure the Union without the uncertainty. In my view this would be a disaster, not just for the UK, but the EU itself. I have never been impressed by th…

The Damage Done: The UK faces the Sunset

As I feared, the polls weren't wrong, but the bookies were. On a very narrow margin, the referendum in the United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union.

In the face of a great shock, there is a tendency to exaggerate the scale of the crisis. There is after all an awful lot of ruin in a nation. Unfortunately the UK has been pressing its luck for sometime now. I could write screeds about the narrow education system, the growing lack of social mobility and the economic imbalances, but that must wait for another time. The point is that the people of England and Wales have voted to Leave, but the people of Northern Ireland and Scotland have voted to Remain. 

As I predicted in May, the vote to Leave has triggered a thunderclap of a crisis. The Prime Minister has indeed resigned, Sterling did indeed fall through the floor, the FTSE went into meltdown and next week the UK will lose its AAA credit rating. Investment projects are being suspended, Millions of workers are facing an unce…

The evil that men do

The referendum in the UK has hardly been a spectacle of informed and intelligent debate.

We have seen absurd statements made by politicians who must clearly know that they are lying. The cost of EU membership is easily provable with the most cursory online research and yet the the Leave campaign have run with a number that is provably not true- £350 million a day is at least twice and probably three times more than any actual number, and anyway assumes that the UK receives no benefit from membership, which we do, even if Leave can hardly deny, although they try. Leave has predicted that the entire population of Turkey- all 70 odd million of them- would come to the UK as soon as Turkey joined the EU- an immediate prospect, according to them. The facts are simple: Turkey is unlikely to join the EU for years, probably decades, and possibly never, and even if they did, it is patently absurd to expect all the Turks to move from the sun kissed beaches of the Mediterranean to the millionaires…

Politicizing things

Some are saying that it is important not to politicize the brutal murder of Jo Cox.
Her Murderer declares his name to be "Death to Traitors, Freedom for Britain", but it is so important not to politicize things.
Nigel Farage not merely predicts violence, but practically incites it, but it is so important not to politicize things.
The Leave campaign calls anyone who suggests they are wrong self interested liars, no matter how neutral or respected they may be, but it is so important not to politicize things.
The Leavers suggests that the entire population of Turkey is coming to the UK- an absurd lie- but it is so important not politicize things.
The Leavers suggest that the UK pays in a sum everyday that is a massive multiple of any real number and suggests that there are no gains from membership, but it is so important not to politicize things.
The Leavers say that the massive economic damage they would cause is a price worth paying, perhaps easier to say when you are a millionair…

The politics of a post politics era.

The position of the UK as a member of the European Union has been a persistent question since the inception of the ECSC in 1957. Nevertheless the general view is that the in/out referendum is as much the product of short-term political calculation as of any great vision for the future for the place of the UK in the world. David Cameron's decision to use the vote to attempt to unite his party and create a platform for a bigger majority in 2020 may prove to be a massive miscalculation.

A referendum is only occasionally about the issue on the ballot paper. Often it risks becoming the focus for a wider range of discontents. To me, that is exactly what is happening in this one.
To see why, perhaps it helps to consider the bigger picture in British politics. Trust in politics and the political process has been fading for decades. 
Going back thirty years, Margaret Thatcher was able to push through highly controversial changes, even in the face of bitter and occasionally violent resistance.…

The Conservatives will not be the same after this Referendum

The Scottish referendum was fought on a prospectus that had a bare nodding acquaintance with the economic and political realities of the early twenty-first century. Divisive and absurd ideas were bandied around by the SNP as a sort of alternate reality. The same has been true of the Brexit campaign. Although both sides have resorted to negative and nasty campaign tactics, the fact is that the statements made by the Leave side are repeatedly fact checked by independent scrutiny and found to be totally untrue. By contrast the evidence from genuinely independent research from a very wide range of sources still- despite the attempted rubbishing by Leave- strongly supports the case for Remain. As with the Scottish referendum, the intellectual case is overwhelmingly for the status quo. More to the point though, the moral case is also with the status quo.

The fact is that this debate has been conducted by Leave with an absolute contempt towards the truth. The fact is that the Leave attacks on…