The Rambles of Neil Monnery

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On tuition fees and how the Tories and Labour both love this issue…

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Oh tuition fees. The millstone around the neck of the Lib Dems. We all know what happened. The Lib Dems pledged not to vote for an increase in tuition fees. They then joined in a coalition and part of the deal was tuition fees would go up. Everyone got mad and hated Nick Clegg and his party and then they voted en masse to evict the party from parliament in 2015.

Everyone rejoiced. The Lib Dems were cast in the wilderness and it allowed the Tories to seek a hard line right-wing agenda. You see there are many universal truths but one is that people don’t care if others are arseholes. They just don’t want those they trusted to betray them.

For example, we all know about the bad boy stereotype. Some women gravitate towards bad boys. They know exactly what they are getting into. The highs will be high but the lows will be low. He’ll wine and dine them but suddenly not be available when needed. This is the the Conservative Party is a nutshell. We all know what they are like but we’ll let them get away with a lot because we knew what they are like.

When the Lib Dems joined with the Tories to provide a strong and stable government. Yes I used those adjectives on purpose. It was like the Lib Dems were a bad boy but we thought they were one of the good ones. We didn’t like the fact that they pretended to be a good boy and turned out to be bad. So to punish them we took them to sling their hook and got together with that bad boy once again. We know they’ll screw us over but so be it, better to be screwed over by someone we knew was going to screw us over, right?

I used the word screw three times in a sentence. I don’t think that is good English.

So even though the Tories were the driving force behind putting up tuition fees, they skated free on the issue because we knew what they were. The electorate expected them to do bad things and as long as they do what we thought they were going to do, we are happy to let them do it. Tuition fees was a huge win for the Tories and it was also a huge win for Labour.

Labour were able to act all pious, forgetting the fact it was Labour who first introduced and then trebled tuition fees when they held massive majorities and weren’t a junior partner in a coalition. The media swept that under the carpet. No-one needs to know political history. Instead they decided to was time for Lib Dem pinata as they were an easy target. The fact the Lib Dems put more of their manifesto into law than the Tories did was a mere footnote. n one issue they were forced into a u-turn and that was enough for five years of lazy journalism before all but three national newspapers endorsed another Tory-Lib Dem coalition.

Yeah.

So after five years of saying how terrible the Lib Dems were, editors and media owners were all saying, ‘you know what, we were a bit harsh on the Lib Dems, they actually did a pretty good job and kept the Tories in check. They weren’t so bad. Maybe if they did this for another five years it wouldn’t be so bad. Honest.’

Even today the BBC News had two headline stories on the Lib Dem manifesto. One was on the Brexit Referendum (fair enough) and the other was the fact the Lib Dems weren’t calling for tuition fees to be culled. So one of the two stories was about something not in the manifesto. Why did the BBC decide to run this story? Is it because it was pertinent to today’s news? God no. It was all to do with lazy and easy journalism. The media had built up a narrative about the party. Just attack the Lib Dems for tuition fees. People like that story and aren’t sick of it so its an easy win.

You see these days journalism isn’t about getting to the heart of the matter. Not about finding out the truth. It is about getting eyeballs and page clicks. Give the people what they want. People want to say the Lib Dems are bad so lets give them that. If like me you often watch old episodes of Mock The Week on Dave when falling asleep, you’ll see the comedians falling over themselves to make Lib Dem/Nick Clegg jokes. It was easy and would get laughs. The fact many of them are naturally not exactly right-wing had to get thrown away. Easy laughs above personal feelings.

Now we have a right-wing government that is only going to drift further right. The reason for this is the media have decided we know what the Tories are so just leave them to it. Smash the Lib Dems because it is funny. Attack Jeremy Corbyn because he’s different and there we have it. So simple. So easy. It reinforces what the public think and the more those thoughts get reinforced then the more people’s opinions will get hardened.

The Tories loved tuition fees because it allowed the media and public to go off on the Lib Dems. Labour loved tuition fees because it allowed them to pick up Lib Dem voters. The fact it allowed the Tories to pick up more than them is by-the-by. They didn’t care. As long as they crushed the party that dared become part of a government then who cares what happens next?

Tuition fees was a small issue in the Lib Dem manifesto which was blown out of all proportion because both the major parties thought it would help them long term. Are people right to be angry over the tuition fees issue? Sure. I can’t tell people how to feel and what to be mad over but all I would say did you vote for a political party based solely on one aspect of their manifesto?

If you did then fair enough. I’d prefer to read through all the manifestos to find which party would overall do what I think would be best. Do I agree with every single aspect of the 2017 Lib Dem manifesto? No. No I don’t but I won’t say that because one paragraph goes against what I think, I’ll sit on my hands or vote for someone else. That seems very short-sighted. I know of a Lib Dem member who calls himself a passionate saboteur and cares deeply about stopping Brexit, who is considering voting Tory because the Lib Dems want to legalise cannabis. I mean really…?

Political parties stand on a wide and varied platform. If they win, they’ll attempt to get as much of that manifesto done as they can. Sometimes they fall short on many issues but just because they don’t tick every box, it doesn’t mean they are awful and untrustworthy. Yet if you listen to the narrative that is true of the Lib Dems and tuition fees. It isn’t true of the Tories or Labour because well, who cares? Lib Dems are untrustworthy and the media keep reminding us of that so it must be true.

The media allow the Tories and to a lesser degree Labour fall short of manifesto pledges because it won’t fan the flames as much. Tuition fees was an easy open goal for five years. The fact they are still going to that well in 2017 says everything about the media. They want two party politics. It makes their lives so much easier. The quicker they can get rid of the SNP, Plaid Cymru, Greens and the Lib Dems the better. As for the medias view of UKIP, it is similar to the Lib Dems, they are an easy open goal so happy to keep going to that well. UKIP bring eyeballs and clicks. That is all they care about these days…

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Written by neilmonnery

May 17th, 2017 at 1:02 pm

On the Lib Dems being 3/1 to beat Kate Hoey and win Vauxhall…

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They’ll be a multitude of interesting individual seat contests up and down the United Kingdom over the next few weeks but one that will really show just how big of an issue Brexit is will be in Vauxhall. A seat where the sitting MP Kate Hoey has called her own since winning a 1989 by-election and one which has never been represented by any other party since its creation for the 1950 General Election.

So why is it one of the Lib Dem target seats? Well quite simply because this is the barometer of whether politics is fundamentally changing or not. As we saw after the Scottish Referendum vote, voters habits changed and they became more engaged on the top of the ticket issue, in their case whether Scotland should be independent or not. This led to the SNP sweeping to widespread gains across the country in 2015.

If the same is to happen in the UK, people stopping looking at the issues like the NHS, Education and the like and are focused on what will happen regarding our future relations with the European Union then this is the type of area where you need to be Pro-European and that is certainly not something that can be said of Kate Hoey.

The moment you campaign alongside Nigel Farage then you’ve pretty much nailed your colours to the mast with regards to your feelings on that front. She was out of step with the vast majority of her constituents. Vauxhall resides in the London district of Lambeth and that district voted 79% to Remain in the EU with 21% voting to leave. That is a pretty big difference of opinion on the big issue between an MP and the people who vote for her.

This is why it is going to be one of the most interesting seats to be fought at the 2017 General Election. The early money though seems to be on Kate Hoey winning her seat back. The Lib Dems opened at 15/8 to take the seat on the Betfair Sportsbook and have since drifted to 3/1. On PaddyPower they are 2/1 and SkyBet have them at the shortest price of 6/4. Even at the best price though, 3/1 is amazing considering she has a 12,000 majority, the seat has never voted anything but Labour and the Lib Dems were beaten and kicked into fourth place just two years ago.

It will be one of the seats also where Labour are fighting and the challenger will not use Jeremy Corbyn as a weapon to attack them with. This will be a very localised and specialised campaign linking Hoey with UKIP. The posters going out already are a testament to that.

They say a day is a long time in politics but two years is a lifetime. Personally I have Kate Hoey as the slight favourite with the Lib Dems closing in. I think SkyBet have the prices about right but as momentum builds this could be a squeaker so 3/1 is a value bet. The Lib Dems revival will start in London. I don’t see anywhere else where they’ll gain a seat they didn’t hold going into 2015 (Montgomeryshire and Oxford West and Abingdon are likely the most likely seats outside of London with a chance of a gain of a non 2015 held seat) but this is of course the great unknown. In fact I’m ready to pile into the Oxford West and Abingdon market if the price is good. I have a very good feeling about that seat but I digress.

Vauxhall will be where the line in the sand is drawn. If Kate Hoey holds on then Brexit and the EU will likely not tip the balance of how we perceive politics but if she goes down then all bets are off and we are in a bold new era of politics.

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April 25th, 2017 at 9:11 am

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On Tim Farron and his gay sex issue…

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Oh dear. Here we go again. It is like waking up in the morning only to find that you are in Groundhog Day (or to use a much cooler reference Window of Opportunity – Stargate SG1) and instead of hitting golf balls billions of miles through a wormhole or learn how to make pottery, once more my twitter timeline is full of conversation about Tim Farron’s thoughts on gay people. Sigh.

I have two points of view on this, the first is Tim has made a rod for his own back by constantly fudging the answer when he is asked. His voting record is superb on all these issues and he clearly has no intention of using his own personally held beliefs (whatever they are) to sway what he thinks the right thing to do is in the modern world. This I find is a grown-up way of doing things. Other people may have differing beliefs but they can all live their lives as they see fit because those differently held beliefs do not interfere with other peoples lives. Pretty simple no?

The second point of view is clearly the political one. Everyone saw this coming when Tim was running for the leadership of the party. I was told by several Christian Lib Dems that his personal beliefs should not ever be questioned and by doing so, it was morally reprehensible. The only issue with that is that isn’t the way the world works. If you are running for high political office then your personal beliefs are going to be something the media and the electorate will want to know, even if those beliefs don’t influence how you do your job. That is just the way it is. It might not be right. It might not be fair but tough shit.

Politically this should have been a non-story but instead the party (and really Tim himself) is allowing it to get oxygen and stay in the news cycle. When the leaders personal opinions of gay sex is the top story instead of the parties new membership figures or the policies for this upcoming General Election then there is a problem. This question was always going to come up. Always. Everyone knew it and bloody hell, he’s been leader since 2015, they’ve had time to sit down and actually find out what the answer is.

Personally speaking I couldn’t give a damn what Tim’s personal beliefs are and neither should anyone. If he votes for more gay rights and brings up issues within that community and stands up for them then that is all that should matter. Yet in politics that isn’t really the be all and end all.

The party broke the 100,000 member barrier today but all I’m reading is how Tim decided not to answer that question from Sky Television. That is what is getting the air play. No matter how clear you are with wavering voters or even wavering supporters with data showing how tim has voted, they’ll see and hear the sound bites and their fears will not be placated. This was a damaging story last week but instead of it being put to bed, it will stay for at least one more news cycle.

I’m 99.9% sure Tim Farron isn’t homophobic. All the data points to the fact he isn’t but if I were a floating voter and I only saw his clips where he’s been asked it on the news in recent days then I really wouldn’t know what to think.

This story takes away from the really important issues. To be honest the press should also be asking the same questions of other significant politicians. Theresa May herself has a much worse voting record on bills that are intended to make things better for the LGBT community. Yet I haven’t heard her being asked her personal thoughts on this subject. Maybe it is because it isn’t as easy and she hasn’t opened herself up to criticism on that front. Whether that is on the media or on her political savvyness is up for debate.

Still here we are. About to embark on what is in all likelihood the last chance to stop a fully fledged hard Brexit from the European Union that could cripple the country for generations and the big Pro-EU party are still floundering about this instead of leading the debate on the EU. As we saw in Richmond Park, where we stick to the script and get the narrative on our playing field we can win. If we can’t then this will be a truly golden opportunity derailed due to an issue that should not be hard to resolve.

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April 24th, 2017 at 4:16 pm

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On the Lib Dems continuing strong support in London – at 20% in latest poll

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Last month I wrote about how the Lib Dems were at 23% in the London sub section of a YouGov Poll. Well today I’ve seen another YouGov poll breakdown and even though the numbers are ever so slightly worse for the party, it shows that there is a real consolidation of support for Tim Farron’s lot within the capital city and that it wasn’t just a rogue. You can see the chart below.

YouGov Poll – April 2017

The sense of opportunity to rebuild the base of the party in London town seems to be one that has been created by the EU Referendum. It also goes towards my hardening belief that the way we define ourselves is changing. Many people for years would have defined themselves along party lines more than ideologically. These days people are starting to define themselves by how they feel about our relationship with our European neighbours. In areas where the majority of people voted to Remain then these people will be far more inclined to come over and put their x’s in the boxes next to Liberal Democrat candidates then they would be had the European question not been first and foremost in their mind.

This of course doesn’t mean that in areas where the majority voted to Leave the European Union should be barren wastelands for the party. We have seen many huge swings in local by-elections
towards the Lib Dems in places which wouldn’t seem like natural Lib Dem territory based on the EU question. Just last week the Lib Dems took a seat off of UKIP. How can an area vote UKIP and then Lib Dem? Well that all comes down to who the motivated voters are and this is part of something I’ll get into more detail on at some other point in the near future.

My main point of this blog is that London is now in a bizarre situation where three political parties could all compete in many seats. There are still areas where the Lib Dems are not strong, this would in turn lead us to extrapolate that there are places where support is significantly beyond the 20% polling average across the Big Smoke.

I have heard of canvass data coming in, in areas which wouldn’t be considered natural Lib Dem territory which if replicated at the ballot box would be mind blowing. The next three years until 2020 will be fascinating to watch to see how Brexit impacts people. At the moment you have one set of people who think it’ll make their lives so much better and another group who believe it’ll make it so much worse. The probability is it won’t be as extreme as either set of people think but if jobs move out of the financial sector and London becomes less diverse then this will surely be a huge part of the Lib Dem platform in the capital.

Opportunity knocks for the party and from where it stood after what happened in 2015, I don’t think anyone really thought the party would be in a position to recover for a generation. Yet here we are. The party stands for something (not just to hold the Tories back) and when the party stands for something and the race to be Prime Minister seems to be less a race but more a foregone conclusion, it allows people to not only vote at the ballot box for the person they want to be PM (which they often do in close elections) but more about who best would represent their views and ideals.

Huge swathes of London wanted to stay in the EU. The Conservative party want to run out of the EU and Labour kinda sorta want to stay but if people say they want to leave then that is fine too. So we have three parties with two very strong points of view on this issue and one whose view changes with the wind (or the audience) and that means people will have a pretty clear choice.

21 months ago I thought the Lib Dems winning 20 seats across the country in 2020 would be a realistic aim. Today winning 20 seats in London seems like a stretch, a real stretch but do you know what? It isn’t just a pipe dream…

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April 11th, 2017 at 4:09 pm

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On why Labour are currently in a crisis – edition #396…

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So I’m there having a perusal of the Guardian website today and I click on a story about the 1997 Election triumph of the party. An absolute landslide that led to 13 years of Labour rule while the Tories sat in opposition and never got close to winning back power. I scroll down to the comments and the one with the moves up votes sums up everything:

No mention of the fact that Blair, Mandelson & Co. rendered Labour unelectable by moving so far away from Labour values, starting illegal foreign wars and stealing billions from ordinary people’s pensions?

So much that’s wrong now has its roots in that crowd – the refugee crisis and growth of ISIS? Blair and his mate Bush kicked that off. The growth of buy-to-let? That’s a response to the fact that we can’t trust the security of our pensions and needs some way to fund retirement.

And now Labour has a leader who actually represents Labour values and the Guardian can’t wait to destroy him. Yes Labour’s in trouble but a lot of the blame rests with the ‘nu-labor-lite’ Blairites and the Guardian.

Lets start at the beginning. On an article outlining how these men made the party very electable (indeed so electable they won three consecutive elections with huge majorities) a Labour supporters says they made the party unelectable. That is clearly not true.

As for moving so far away from Labour values, did they really? They inched towards the centre ground but they weren’t a million miles away from old Labour. Also has old Labour values won any General Election in the past two generations? Not so much.

Clearly the growth of extreme Islamic terrorism has some roots in the Iraq conflict but it could easily be argued that Al-Qaeda’s attack on the United States in 2001 was the real catalyst for those tensions to rise on both sides.

As for the Guardian wanting to destroy Jeremy Corbyn. That is paranoia talking. This newspaper after their endorsement of Nick Clegg in 2010 has run so far to the left that Corbyn himself probably thinks they’ve gone too far. They have been extremely strong supporters of his and have only cooled in recent months as his support has clearly ebbed away and most impartial observers can see he is leading the Labour party down the wrong path.

You win in the UK from the centre-left or centre-right. This isn’t exactly rocket science. Whichever of the two natural parties of government is closer to the centre will win an election. I know my lot went into coalition in 2010 and became a party of government but for most people, they are voting for one of the big two, whose leader will become PM.

Labour’s wild lurch to the left is very dangerous for many people who naturally want a party of government near the centre because it allows the Conservative party to move to the right and still be closer to the centre than Labour. If things were different and people saw the Lib Dems has a natural party of government, it would open up a huge chasm for the party to fill up. Sadly that big gap will pick up voters but not enough.

Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership is a god send to the right-wing branch of the Tory party. If Labour had a strong position on the EU and a leader who was electable to the electorate as a whole then they would be in a position to both a) win back power and b) would stop the Tories going too far to the right. If they had a young Tony Blair who wasn’t tainted by Iraq then they would likely be planning for another decade in power after a big win in 2020.

Yet some Labour members can’t abide with this and will blame everyone and everything on Labour’s woes bar the leadership. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck then it is probably a duck. If a leader has dire polling ratings and is 17 points behind the Tories when at the same time in the previous parliament, his predecessor was 11 points up then its probably because people don’t like him or his policies. It isn’t the fault of Tony Blair or the Guardian et al.

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April 11th, 2017 at 12:30 pm

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On Jeremy Corbyn’s continued obliviousness to the issue that matters most to most of us…

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Jeremy Corbyn has been one of the political heavyweights of the past 18 months. He came from left field to sweep to power as the leader of the Labour party and then followed that up by winning a second leadership contest. He was entrenched as the man in place to take it to the Conservative Party and lead the voice of the opposition. He had it all but chose to stumble and after a while the media are starting to notice.

Take today for example. Corbyn made a speech and it didn’t even get a soundbite on the lunchtime news. All it got were some pictures and the presenter talking over them saying he made said speech. Going to the Guardian I see that the speech was about putting the NHS and education at the heart of Labour’s local election campaigns and here’s the thing, they aren’t issues that are moving the needle right now.

I am pretty sure that the Labour party have said we have x amount of days to save the NHS on multiple occasions in my lifetime alone. Yet despite Ed Miliband putting that at the heart of his campaign in 2015, he lost.

Now as I’ve believed for quite a while now, the whole identity of politics is changing. People are less likely to identify themselves as ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal’ or ‘socialist’ etc. and more ‘Pro-EU’ or ‘Anti-EU’ – that is the battleground that politics is currently being waged on. People care about what is going to happen next regarding Brexit and how it will affect their lives and the future of their children. That is what people are worried about and not what is going on with the NHS or in education.

I’m not saying if this is right or wrong but that is just how it is at this juncture. On the EU and Brexit you need to have a cohesive and identifiable position. The Lib Dems are clearly lobbing all their Easter eggs in the pro-EU basket. UKIP and the Tories have a tonne of chocolate covered products too and they are all in baskets labelled ‘Anti-EU’ and then we get to the Labour Party. They say that the will of the people has to be served but that they’ll fight the Tories at every stage to get the best deal for the people of the United Kingdom. Yet these words ring hollow as they’ve not fought yet and instead laid down and let the Tories tickle their tummies.

This breathtaking arrogance hasn’t gone unnoticed. The polling data has long seen Jeremy Corbyn’s numbers go down and the Labour party despite being in opposition being 15%+ down in Westminster voting intentions. At this stage in the last parliament Ed Miliband had a sizeable lead in the polls. It only ebbed away when people started to look closer at him and his team and struggled to see them leading the country.

At this stage of the parliament with a government having to deal with a line-ball issue that is splitting the country in half, the opposition should be flying high. They aren’t and the reason for that isn’t Jeremy Corbyn per se but a lack of direction and that certainly comes from the top. His position on the EU has never been a strong one. He kinda likes some portions of the EU but not others and deep down no-one really knows where he stands and if he doesn’t have a strong position on the most important issue this generation will ever face, then no amounts of excellent policies on the NHS or education will cut through (not that we have any evidence he has any of these anyway).

Article 50 has been triggered. The lead of the Pro-EU lobby is clearly Tim Farron and Nick Clegg. Most people in the street will agree that at least they know where the Lib Dems stand on this and will either like what they are hearing from them or hate it. At least they know. When it comes to Labour and Jeremy Corbyn people just don’t know and that is a scary place to be for the Labour party.

Until Jeremy Corbyn and Labour have that clear (and believable) position on what should happen next regarding our future dealings with the EU then they will struggle. Talk about the NHS and education all you want. It sounds great and is vitally important but at this moment in time nothing compares to the short, medium and long-term future than these Article 50 talks and the public know it. Until Labour stand for something on this, they’ll continue to drift towards being an afterthought…

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April 4th, 2017 at 2:52 pm

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On the ‘special’ relationship between Trump and the UK…

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Since Donald Trump has been elected as the 45th president of the United States and the rest of the world watched that hand-holding moment between Theresa May and Trump during her visit to Washington, it’s safe to say that there have been some awkward questions posed about the ‘special relationship’ between the UK and US. As a country, it is safe to say that Britain has found it hard to come to terms with Donald Trump, TV personality and thin-skinned businessman, being elected for president. His win (not by popular vote, mind!) came as a particularly damning blow when there was repeated evidence that he did all manner of terrible things that would, in any other situation, be deemed completely unacceptable. So what does a future of working alongside Donald Trump look like for the UK?

One thing that has caught the attention of so many people is the similarities between UK’s Brexit and the US’s decision to make Trump president. It seems that there is a growing frustration amongst certain groups of people in both countries – mainly those from a working class background and who are white – that feel underrepresented and disheartened with their country. This begs the question of whether the US and Britain will find a common purpose and look to solve issues that have previously been ignored by other governments?

In fact, people seem to feel so disheartened with the election of Donald Trump, that there has been an abundance of online and offline mockeries regarding the President. Firstly, there are the memes found across social media on a daily basis, and then there’s a number of online games like the Ladbrokes Trump White House game where you can actually paint the White House and have an apocalyptic background – all created in ‘honour’ of the new President.

A vision of Trump's White House come 2020...?

A vision of Trump’s White House come 2020…?

Despite the May-Trump alliance however, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is set to snub Donald Trump during her visit to the US, and the UK has already created a number of mocking murals regarding the ‘special relationship’ between Trump and the UK Prime Minister.

Many people are also wondering what the special relationship between the UK and US will mean for the Special Forces, nuclear weapons and intelligence services in the UK. It is wondered whether the relationship between Trump and May will remain strong when it comes to something as tentative as nuclear proliferation and war, to name but a few. With Trump also being hinted as being in close communication with Putin and the Russian government, this could cause massive problems when it comes to developing improved relations between the UK and US.

Some are labelling the ‘special relationship’ between the UK and US at the moment as a way of ensuring Britain’s security when it comes down to trade post-Brexit. Many people are fearing that the lack of definitive deal making between Britain and the EU when it comes to trade agreements means that the UK is fearing what this will mean when it comes down to our economy and place in the world when it comes to selling our goods and services. Uncertainty has proven to be a massively powerful tool when it comes predicting the future of the UK and, with the value of the pound falling, it seems we have more reason to cling on to America’s support than ever before.

Diving Into The Deep Unknown

Perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects of the special relationship between the US and the UK is that many claim that we are jumping into the unknown. All that we know about the President of the United States thus far is based from what he has said and what he had done in the last few months. As Trump is proven to be easily angered and erratic in his behaviour, it is difficult to know what steps Theresa May, for example, should be taking.

Ultimately, Britain needs to be keeping a close eye on its future, which gives rise to the significance of the relationship between Trump and May. It seems best, at least for now, to watch how President Trump goes about his presidency and watch his every move rather than disregard him entirely. As they say, keep your friends close and your enemies closer…

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Written by Ian Pope

April 3rd, 2017 at 11:38 am

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On Nick Clegg, timing and the chance of a political comeback…

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Oh what could have been…

I didn’t watch last nights Question Time Brexit Special because well, I tend to not watch Question Time in general but also a mate popped over to catch up. In fact in the past five years I’ve only seen one regular episode (when it was from Portsmouth after the government had given the two new aircraft carriers to a Scottish dockyard) but anyway I digress. I woke up this morning and was scrolling through my time line. One thing struck me (apart from a fellow SIAD grad and a football commentator reminding me of the fact Michael Gove existed and that Sarah Vine wakes up next to him daily, for which I am still traumatised) and that was that people are missing Nick Clegg. I’m not surprised.

If you go back through this very blog you’ll see numerous blurbs from me extolling the virtues of the MP for Sheffield Hallam. I make no bones about it. I agree with Nick. I did then, I do now and I pretty much have done so for the vast majority of the times in-between. The fact he unfollowed me on twitter hasn’t lessened my feelings towards the man (but the fact I’m bringing it up shows it is still galling…)

The thing is had things been different. Lets say Chris Huhne had become leader of the Lib Dems instead of Nick when they faced off against each other. Or had say Gordon Brown not said what he did with a hot mic about Gillian Duffy. Had the Greek economy not collapsed several days before the 2010 UK General Election. Had Lib Dem Conference done what Nick wanted to got rid of the pledge about tuition fees (because Nick knew in any coalition talks that was a big obstacle to overcome). Had the instant poll after the second leaders debate put Clegg ahead of Cameron by 1% instead of the other way round. Had just one of these things gone the other way then in all likelihood history will have been very different. Not just for Clegg personally but also for the country and the Lib Dems. Fine margins…

In my (albeit) brief lifetime (ok I am in my mid 30s now – eek) there have been two truly inspirational politicians in the UK. One was Tony Blair and the other is Nick Clegg. Whether you like them or their politics, they were the two people that you could see were a) natural leaders but more importantly b) had the potential to be great.

Blair’s legacy will forever be tarnished by Iraq and people forget that those Labour governments were not bad. They won three landslide elections on the spin (including one after the Iraq War) for a reason. Not just because the Tory party kept finding leaders who couldn’t lead their way out of a paper bag or inspire people but because the general quality of life was getting better for many people.

For Clegg his legacy will be tied to tuition fees and a pledge he was fully committed to had he been Prime Minister but one he knew he couldn’t deliver in coalition. I have spent many calories typing away words about the difference between having a majority government and being a junior partner in the coalition but those words fell flat. Raw anger won and logic became something to be spoken about in hushed corners fearing that the mob would overhear.

Then 2015 happened. Most political pundits expected the Lib Dems to once again hold the balance of power. Ed Miliband was as hopeless a leader as expected and couldn’t deliver a Labour victory whilst the rest of the country decided they hated the coalition government so much that they would punish the junior party in that coalition. Let the Tories be free to do what they wanted is what people cried as they buried the Lib Dems with a hearty laugh and a cheer as they walked away from the ballot boxes.

Nick Clegg did the only thing he could, fall on his sword. The country had spoken and instead of another five years taming the right-wing Euro-sceptic part of the Conservative party. He would become a backbencher and watch as they dragged the government away from where most people actually wanted them to be. He would refuse a part in Tim Farron’s initial cabinet as he either felt like he had to lick his wounds or thought he was just too toxic. Then the EU Referendum came and things changed. The Cleggster was unleashed and he had that swagger back.

When people ask me who I would like to see as leader of the Lib Dems and Prime Minister it won’t surprise you as to my answer. Yet I know deep down that sadly that will never be the case. Tuition fees is a millstone around that neck and even though plenty of worse things are going on in government (both then and now) too many people would point to that one thing. It saddens me greatly that a man who could have been one of the great leaders of the world (yes I know some just spit out their cup of tea at that notion but I stand by it) will never have the opportunity to fulfil his potential.

For now though he’s become arguably the most articulate politician of the Anti-Brexit coalition. Tim Farron has been a clear and strong voice for it. Ken Clarke has been fighting from within and has shown deep courage in his convictions. Nicola Sturgeon is trying to use it as a lever to get an independent Scotland but Nick Clegg just gets it. He still has it. Put Clegg in a situation where people only listen to words with an open mind and no preconceived ideas then he’s the greatest asset the Anti-Brexit coalition has – by far.

The problem is though is that a situation enough people put themselves in? I fear not but after nigh on two years out of the limelight and out of the daily grind of the newspapers and comedians using him as their favourite low fruit punching bag then maybe the toxicity is evaporating. Will it ever happen to the degree that he could either lead the party again or potentially have a roll to play in a future coalition or Lib Dem government? I doubt it (and lets be honest – we have no idea if he wants to stand again in 2020 when he surely has a plethora of offers out there).

This is why I often look at things like timing and see it as so important. Not just in this example but in life for all of us. Sometimes opportunities come along at the right time but also sometimes the right thing happens but at the wrong time. Sometimes events conspire for you, sometimes against you. Had Nick Clegg not been leader of the Lib Dems in 2010 or been Deputy Prime Minister in a coalition government and was now the fresh faced face of the Anti-Brexit movement, I suspect that movement would have its inspirational leader and that ball wouldn’t just be rolling, it would be gathering pace at a vast rate of knots.

I’ll leave you with these two questions:

Who would you trust to get the best deal for the UK in any Brexit negotiations, David Davis or Nick Clegg?

Who would you prefer to see as our Foreign Minister, Boris Johnson or Nick Clegg?

I suspect the answer is Clegg – to both.

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Written by neilmonnery

March 28th, 2017 at 2:07 pm

Posted in Politics

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On the Unite for Europe March – The Sun Comments Edition…

without comments

Ah comments. Where people go to blow off steam. Here are a few of the comments from The Sun’s article on the march today…

Just shows you they are all for their selfs, we are not quitting just getting out to better ourselves.

This really doesn’t make too much sense now does it? Why are they marching for their selfs? (surely it should’ve been themselves?) and we are quitting, these people are Quitlings and quitters.

Funny they march against brexit and trump but not islamic terrorism…

To be fair someone did reply to this comment saying you march against something democratic, which makes perfect sense. I don’t think many people need to hold a rally against terrorism of any sort as I think we are all united against such acts…

Deluded.

Why?

The great unwashed have no respect.

So people who marched today are unwashed? How does the commenter know such facts? Were they privy to every person’s bathroom behaviour this morning before they left for the march or are they talking out of their own backside? You decide…

they should be all deported, we are at war with the kebab wallahs and these bell end are doing this

Ah here we go. This country should only be for people who agree with the ideals of this particular commenter. So people who were born in the UK should be deported for having a different point of view on a subject. I think all people who don’t use capital letters at the start of sentences should be deported. It makes just as much sense…

these people should be relocated in belguim

If we can find belguim then I’m willing to relocate there. Maybe we should add people who can’t spell the name of a country to the list of people who should be deported…

It’s such a nice day. Haven’t these insects got anything important in their own lives worth doing instead because all these marches are doing is wasting their time. Ain’t gonna make a difference I’m afraid, losers.

Whilst I agree it is highly unlikely to make any difference, when you call fellow human beings insects, you’ve already lost the argument.

K N O B S

I know you are but what am I?

Clueless, disresepctful scum who are too stupid to see that it’s the rotten EU who have made life so much easier for the murderers who want to come here and kill us.

Ah so people who marched today are Scum. See my previous comment about calling someone an insect and already losing the argument. Also why is peaceful marching disrespect, wait I mean, disresepctful? I won’t even comment about the murderer bullshit…

true brits don’t quit! idiots cannot see the irony of what they are protesting. the eu wants no borders and want to populate the entire europe with 3rd world people who many have no respect for the country they infest. and they want us to pay for it. they can all cluck off! remoaners do not understand that poorer citizens of poorer countries will keep on flooding into wealthier countries where the infrastructure and society goes to pot! can any of these idiots argue that what is happening to housing, nhs, benefits, education and so many other services have been under siege to such an extent that it cannot cope?

True Brits don’t quit but apparently those who are marching to stay in the EU should quit. That makes sense. As for the EU wanting to populate the entire continent with third world people. I’m not sure that is strictly accurate…

In a democratic world they are free to have their march to prove what sore losers they are. Brexit has started if they like it or not, the queen has signed it off as it’s okay with her. Off with their heads.

They are free to march but they should have their heads cut off. Well ok then…

Been told by a friend whose been near this March that most of the accents he’s been hearing are either European or Scottish . Only what I’ve been told.

This person has no friends.

It’s a shame as these are the type of people who should have been hurt not the innoccnt ones.

Protesters should be hurt by terrorism and not innocent, I mean innoccnt ones. Interesting PoV that…

The under 50,s haven’t known this country before EU. What they forget is we ruled ourselves and many other countries for centuries and can do it again. The Queen has signed and that’s good enough. I don’t want my country to be taken over by the ignorant uneducated people who,refuse to integrate and expect us to conform to their. Archaic ways. They are turning towns into slums. If they don’t like it they know where the airports are or take a boat I don’t care ….sod off.

He doesn’t want the country to be taken over by ignorant uneducated people but does think we can rule many other countries again…

When their child is being rushed to hospital in an ambulance, I hope every single one of them will forgive me for staging protests blocking the roads and costing so much money there will be none left to treat their children as that is the world they seem to think they have a right to f*** up.

She seems nice…

Look I’m no big fan of protests and I can’t see it achieving a damned thing but we live in a democracy. If people want to peacefully protest anything then they have that right. Yet some people think that anyone who disagrees with them should be deported, or have their child unable to get to a hospital or have their heads chopped off. These people call themselves British and are proud of that. I’m just ashamed of them.

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March 25th, 2017 at 5:57 pm

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On what could happen if George Galloway jumps into the Manchester Gorton by-election…

with one comment

All bets as they say would be off.

I am on the record elsewhere as saying I think the Lib Dems will end up at around 3/1 to make the impossible possible and take one of Labour’s safest seats away from them. It would be one of the most sensational by-election swing in modern political history but as it stands they’ll probably fall short. Yet if George Galloway decides he wants to muddy the waters…

In a piece entitled George Galloway may enter race to become Gorton MP in the Guardian over the weekend, a ‘source close to George Galloway’ stated that he was considering standing but had actually been on the campaign trail for three weeks. He believes according to the source that the constituency fits in perfectly with his political beliefs and that, ‘You’re looking at the perfect demographics – big Asian working class community, relatively poor. I think he thinks he can represent their feelings and aspirations.’

Of course should he jump into the race suddenly people will start to paw over just what happened when he swept to a stunning Bradword West by-election win in 2012. He used the turmoil within the local Labour party to his advantage and lets us just look at the local Labour party in Manchester Gorton. Are they in turmoil? Well I think the answer to that would be yes, yes they are.

Now demographically the seat is slightly different to Bradford West but they do share some similarities due to the significant Asian population. The difference seems to be there doesn’t seem (from the outside looking in anyway) the tension that was apparent in Bradford West. This would make it harder for Galloway to use the same tactics as successfully should he decide to run at Manchester Gorton.

What would definitely happen should he throw his hat into the ring is all hell would break loose. The by-election would be played on a different playing field. In all likelihood Labour and Galloway would go at each other and take their eye off the ball. The Lib Dems are already up and running in the seat and their first leaflet shows Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn together in front of 10 Downing Street trying to show that they are arm in arm on Brexit. This is a clear attempt to follow the Richmond Park strategy of this by-election primarily over the consequences of leaving the EU. It worked last year but could it work again in a seat that whilst voting Remain, didn’t do so in the numbers that Richmond Park did?

This is the big question that people are unsure of. Of course one key difference is that in Manchester Gorton the incumbent was a Labour MP. An extremely popular one. Yet in the national polls Labour as a party continue to at best stagnate and in general drop a point or two as Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership continues to stumble along. This would be the first Labour/Lib Dem battle since the end of the coalition and the EU Referendum. It is a free hit for the Lib Dems. They have nothing to lose and a good showing (anything 30%+) would be scary for Labour knowing that they are suddenly in danger of losing many of their Lib Dem gains from 2015.

When it was clear we’d have a by-election I thought that Labour would win but with a severely reduced majority. This makes sense considering in 2005 and 2010 the Lib Dems had very good showings but like it did near enough everywhere, their vote collapsed in 2015. Labour are in the weeds and the Lib Dems suddenly are not as toxic as they once were. Still winning Manchester Gorton should be a step too far unless Labour are totally done.

Yet if George Galloway does get involved then the current 7/1 you can get around on the Lib Dems seems like an incredible price. For the punters it is very much a speculative bet hoping that Galloway makes it official and the price will drop dramatically. You could probably just cash-out for a quick profit. For those looks beyond the odds though, if Galloway is in this then expect the Lib Dem machine to go from being interested to going into Richmond Park to find that kitchen sink they threw at winning that seat and bundling it in the back of a van to go up the M6 and throw it at Manchester Gorton.

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Written by neilmonnery

March 14th, 2017 at 11:40 am

Posted in Politics

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