HS2

Post deal UK:

Have our problems 'come home'?

Reform?Reform?We are told a week is a long time in politics and it's well over a week since 'the deal'. So it's all over, the great Brexit saga has reached a conclusion? Sort of but we still wait for the EU to vote on this. On the other hand maybe just one of the 27 has a reason to refuse? That would be interesting! We start by taking a quick look at pre-deal UK, in 1961. For this was the year the UK made an attempt to join what was then the forerunner of the EU. The attempt failed, vetoed by the French, the French, fancy that! Thus for 60 years the UK has been wired in to a European political dimension and its European neighbours' desire for political federation. This has always had a profound effect on us and the UK has often been described by political commentators as, semi-detached from 'Europe'. To have finally faced up to this, held a referendum on the subject and created a new relationship is remarkable. It was always a jibe of the political elite, especially the metropolitan liberal end of the spectrum, that our semi-detached stance has, 'split the Tory party'. This was only ever partly true. A deeper look at the divisions brought about by our EU membership showed that the whole country and all political parties were divided. As it was the Tory party not only, 'got Brexit done' but rid themselves of the curse of the EU by doing so.

What ever happened to the Conservative party?

The pandemic and panic take their toll.

Tree of the year 2015, see footnote.Tree of the year 2015, see footnote.Here we go to lockdown, again. It's been tried before and does not work. Or it's been tried before and was so successful we repeat it. What do you think? One good question leads to another; what ever happened to the Conservative party? We have in a previous article, see below on the Home page, asked the same question about the budget. That article was posted on May 1st a few months after the party came to power. Yes hindsight is a wonderful thing but we should not be shy of taking advantage of the long view. As further on again the shape of things is even clearer. Prior to the December 12th 2019 General Election the whole of UK politics was in the doldrums. The combined efforts of Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn had damaged more than their own parties. The entire UK political mechanism was frozen. Then along came Boris Johnson. He was neither of them and, so it seemed, only semi-attached to the Conservative party. At the time this looked like an advantage. Thus you could vote for him because you had grown weary of May or Corbyn or both. You could also vote for him if you were weary of the Conservative party, so why not? He was the odd ball, not like the rest of them. Then again if you wanted Brexit, and 17.4 million people did, he was an obvious choice.

What ever happened to the Budget?

The pandemic goes economic, who will win who will pay?

New blue tree! New blue tree!
In the first budget by Chancellor Rishi Sunak we saw a new species of tree. A new tree? Yes we did! Gone is the Labour party money tree the mythical giver of low hanging fruit for all and in its place stood the mighty Blue tree. This is a cross between a hardy traditional Oak and some fancy hybrid that just keeps on giving. But then days later from Sunak came the measures to deal with Covid-19. Here was not so much a money tree but a forest. Confused? You are not alone! The first question must be was the Government caught out by the spread of C-19 and if so why? At the moment we are so busy dealing with the virus the lessons will come later. Thinking about budgets as recently as Nov 2019 the Labour party was taken to task for its money tree promises to spend, spend, spend. But that is what we now see and very late in this Covid-19 crisis we also see questions being asked about this spending. Can you really out-spend a pandemic? A spending spree is such a tempting thing for a government to do. But if it goes wrong then it opens the door for your political opponents. So to stop this political to-and-fro Tony Blair gave us fiscal rules. The idea was to lift the financial management of the nation away from political pressure. What could go wrong? Well plenty, it was as most things with Blair an act, a delusion.

Selling out, buying in

It's your money but they waste it

The original Mr Bean The original Mr Bean

Poor old Vince Cable. Like his party his fortunes are on the way down. The Liberal Democrats look to be stuck as the fourth party in UK politics several points below UKIP for the foreseeable future. While the performance of the LibDem Leader, Nick Clegg, must be responsible for some of this he cannot shoulder all the blame; so attention switches to the coalition Business Secretary, Vince Cable. The National Audit Office says that the Royal Mail privatisation was wrong to sell the shares too cheaply and this has cost the taxpayer £750 million.

However, Cable is very proud of the way he handled the sell-off and has refused to resign. Perhaps we have to feel a little sorry for Cable as way back in late 2007 he was the Leader of his party and in a position to dish it out to Gordon Brown. It was during a debate on defence that Cable said -

The house has noticed the prime minister's remarkable transformation in the past few weeks - from Stalin to Mr Bean.

We now see that having a go at Brown was not only easy, he was a natural target, but the high-water mark for Cable. What a turn-around that Cable now finds himself being biffed by Chuka Umunna, the shadow business secretary.

More from Andrew Gilligan

HS2 and Hacked Off get the drubbing they deserve

Gilligan and bicycleGilligan and bicycle
We have praised the work of Andrew Gilligan before, he has an eye for transport matters, he is the Cycling Commissioner for Mayor of London Boris Johnson. And has been following the HS2 saga. His report in the Telegraph sums it up well, recommended reading, as so is this. For stupidity the HS2 ranks alongside global warming and in a similar fashion has fiddled statistics to 'back it up'.

Next Gilligan looks at press regulation. You may say it's just a journalist looking after himself and his trade following severe ctiticism of the ethics of some newspapers. No that's too simple.

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