The Fantasist and the Failed Technocrat

May and corbynThe performance of Corbyn & May at their respective Conferences has highlighted just how unstable our current political situation is and that neither Labour nor the Tories have answers (or the ability) to the country’s problems

Corbyn had the difficult task of one hand wanting to appear to be hoping for an immediate General Election while all the time hoping the Tories hang on until the Brexit negotiations have been completed.  The worst outcome for Corbyn would be to win a 2018 election by a narrow margin (and no polls are predicting a Labour landslide) and having to conclude the negotiations with the EU.

This would leave him not only having to deal with the inevitable post-Brexit recession but not being able to blame the certain bad deal we will get (and even a no deal will be a terrible deal) on the Tories.

One certainty will be that none of the grandiose plans he outlined in Brighton will be able to be implemented as the UK will not have any money to spare, indeed any post-Brexit administration will most likely have to start implementing swinging cuts in all public spending,

Still, Corbyn did what he is very good at, a talented orator & campaigner on issues, he gave a great speech, full of flowing phrases, making expansive promises for action that would, if implemented, bankrupt the nation even if we had a robust economy, not one tottering on the edge of the Brexit cliff.    The only thing missing was any credible ideas of how to pay the promises or how they would be implemented (and remember nor toft heh Labour Front Bench have any experience in running very much!).

 

May also had a difficult job to do as well.  In the face of a Cabinet tearing itself apart as they jostle for prime position to replace her, with the Brexit talks going from bad to worse with, a worsening economic climate (also brought on by Brexit) and after the disastrous (and unnecessary) General Election in June, May had to try to reinvigorate her party and give them a sense of purpose, not an easy task for a charismatic leader and a great orator and May is neither.

She is an efficient technocrat with a tendency to micro-management but she has never been accused of being a deep political thinker & strategist so it was no surprised her speech was flat.  Even with the excuse of the coughing fit, it was not a speech that will send her depleted troops out to battle for her.  Even her “Big ideas” don’t stack up, £2bn for 20000 social homes means on about 50 in each local council area across the UK, not so fantastic after all and even the Tories were rubbishing the Energy Bill freeze when Labour proposed it.

 

So where does that leave us?  One party lead by a fantasist leader with no grasp on the reality of power and the other party, falling apart and lead by a failed technocrat with no vision.  Neither has any grasp of what is needed to unite the country, neither has a realistic vision that will allow everyone in our county to have a better future, both offer a dark future with little hope for the young, the poor & the disadvantaged.  Time to look elsewhere for leadership.

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Rent Control does not work

Corbyn FarageCarl Assar Eugén Lindbeck, the left wing Swedish economics professor said in 1971 “Next to bombing, rent control seems in many cases to be the most efficient technique so far known for destroying cities

Does Corbyn want to destroy all the cities in the UK?  Because that is what will happen if he is serious about implementing Rent Control in them.  Landlords will cease to maintain in their properties or simply stop renting them out altogether if they can’t get a return on their investments.  How will this help those wanting to rent?

The best way to lower rents in our cities (and in towns & villages which have the same problem) is to invest in  new social housing & renovate existing homes,  As the 2017 Lib Dem Manifesto said, we need to build 300,000 homes a year, allowing councils to build the houses that families need rather than the ones developers can make the most profit on.

While it sounds a great policy from a Party Conference podium, rent controls won’t work without adjusting the supply of housing to make more homes available.

Just like Farage and the other Brexit campaigners, Corbyn is guilty of trying to sell the equivalent of snake oil to the people on the UK, warm words, great sound bites, empty promises.  It might fool some of the people some of the time, but we can’t build a better future for our nation on such policies.  In the end, if Corbyn gets his way, it will be the poor and the young who will struggle to find affordable housing, the very people Corbyn pretends to support.

 

The unintended consequence of election surprises

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For the third time in 25 years, we find ourselves being governed by a party that had not expected to be in Government (or in the case of the Tories after the Election in May, in Government by itself) and now finds itself with the problem of having to implement policies that it had never expected to.

 

In April 1992, most people expected Labour to win.  Indeed the Tories knew that there were a number of bear traps waiting for the incoming Government (ERM, ratification of the Maastricht Treaty, etc.) that the incoming Government would have to face and, as I have though since then, they would prefer labour to deal with.

However, John Major managed to snatch victory from anticipated defeat (with, it must be admitted, with help from Neil Kinnock’s ineptitude) and lead the Tories back into Government.  Then, not only did the Tories fall into the expected the bear traps but were also saddled with policies in the 1992 Conservative Manifesto that were simply ridiculous like the privatising British Rail, a disaster we still haven’t sorted out.  Indeed, John Major’s Government is rightly regarded as one of the worst ever and crashed to electoral disaster for the Tories in 1997.

 

In May 2010, everyone expected a victory for David Cameron’s Tory Party over a lacklustre Gordon Brown and a tired discredited Labour.  It says much for how much the Conservatives were distrusted that even when presented with such an opportunity, they failed to win a majority and no-one, not least the Liberal Democrats, expected the outcome to be a Coalition Government.  It is not an understatement to say that the Lib Dems were as surprised as anyone to have to face up to promises made with no expectation of being in a position to have to meet them.

It says much for the calibre of Nick Clegg & the Lib Dem Ministers that, in spite of having great policies but no real plan for implementing them, they achieved so much from their unexpected arrival in office but, as was predictable even in 2010, the party paid a heavy price for not being able to fulfil all they promises they made in the 2010 campaign.

 

This year, everyone (including most Tories) full expected that there would be another Coalition after the General Election and framed their polices accordingly, The Tories especially though that they would be able to dich the one they had included in their manifesto to get votes to appease the right wing of their party but would be hard (or simply wrong for the country) to implement in the Coalition negotiations and then blame their Coalition partners for not fulfilling their promises.  However by a cruel twist of fate, the Tories have been caught out (again due in no small part to Labour ineptitude and the failings of their leader) and now find themselves in a position of having no excuse not to implement those policies that appeal to the rabid right-wing of the party but that most of us realise will be a disaster if implemented.

From the impossible negotiations on the EU to reversing all the Coalition’s policies on Green Energy; from having to increase defence spending while cutting welfare to removing privacy rights in the name of defeating “extremism”; from botched attempts block Scottish MPs voting on some issues to trying to bring back hunting with dogs,  we see Cameron (who seems more interested with simply being in power than actually having a vision of what he want to achieve with that power) having to oversee a sharp turn away from the moderate polices under the Coalition that benefited he country to regressive, often repressive, ideas that will neither help the majority of the population nor improve the economy.

It is too early to predict the outcome for this Government, even if their small majority of 12 will survive a full 5 year term, but if past precedent is anything to go be, a party that finds itself in Government in a situation that it wasn’t expecting will get hammered at the next election.

 

The moral of this is simple, be honest with promises before the election.  Make sure you only promise what you know you can do if elected, don’t rely on the vagaries of the electoral system to get you out of having to deliver on promises only made to get votes or for appearance but were not intend to be fulfilled.  However, I don’t expect parties (not even the Lib Dems) to take this moral to heart and come the next election surprise, watch out for another party suddenly look wide eyed in horror at having to implement policies that were only promised for show.