Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

No Mayor, No Wey-Aye

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed that a planned devolution deal for the North East will not go ahead after a majority of local leaders voted against it.

Mr Javid said he was disappointed that four of the seven councils to form a planned North East Combined Authority – Durham, Gateshead, Sunderland, and South Tyneside – voted against the deal.

He insisted they would have received guaranteed investment of more than £1 billion and powers over transport, skills and regeneration.

Legislation to devolve the powers and enable 2017 elections for a North East mayor has now been shelved.
Morpeth Herald (quoting Reuters), 8 August 2016 | North East devolution plans shelved after local leaders reject deal

This sounds like petulance – on both sides, but I suspect it is more complicated.

First the £1bn is not as massive at it sounds; it is £30m a year for 30 years. For a population of a little under 2 million, that is £15 per head per year.

Read more…

North East England is not Metropolitan

The mini devolution deal for North East (of England) is apparently in danger of running out of time.

In a letter sent to the councils which make up the North East Combined Authority, and which has been seen by the BBC, Mr Javid said: “I reaffirm the government’s commitment to implementing the North East devolution deal in full.

“[However] without an elected mayor the deal cannot progress.

“There is a significant risk now that we will run out of time to implement the deal unless you publish your governance review and scheme, and move forward with the consultation immediately.”
BBC News Website, 26 August 2016 | North East devolution delay ‘risks £900m investment’

Why does an area that includes two conurbations (Newcastle-Gateshead-Tyneside and Sunderland-Washington) and a huge rural area (Northumberland and Durham) need an elected mayor to manage transport, skills and training? The LEPs (remember them?) where set up by the Conservatives to address issues that included skills and training. Read more…

Can a General Election Trump a Referendum?

“We will vote in Parliament to block any attempt to invoke Article 50 until Theresa May commits to a second referendum or a general election on whatever EU exit deal emerges at the end of the process.”
BBC News Website, 24 August 2016 | Brexit: Owen Smith opposes Article 50 move without vote

It is arguable that we (“the people”) should have some sort of final say – particularly since it is becoming clear that “Brexit means Brexit” could be many different things – some of which will strike the Quitters as “betrayal”. In this context Owen Smith’s position raises an interesting and potentially disturbing question:

Can a party winning a general election with say 36% of the vote claim a mandate to over-ride a referendum that voted 52% in favour of a particular proposition? And if it can’t, where would Prime Minister Owen Smith then stand?

Read more…

Leave has lost the plot

How out of touch can you get? Vote Leave were always saying that the remainers were “out of touch”. I suspect it is not unique to one sect or the other but endemic in Westminster.

Leading Vote Leave figure Gisela Stuart says EU citizens in the UK have been “left in limbo” since the referendum.

The Labour MP will head a research project on how to protect their rights after the UK leaves the EU.
BBC News Website, 16 August 2016 | EU citizens ‘left in limbo’, says Vote Leave MP Gisela Stuart

Just how out of touch is she! Read more…

Cash for Votes – again

So the Labour Machine is at it again.

If you joined early this year responding to the “join and be a full part of Labour”, your membership contract apparently does not include the right to vote in an election that was not in the offing when you joined and which was called many months after you joined.

The appeal court has decided that the NEC (the top machine of a party that understands machine politics) is allowed to disqualify a group of members from having a right to vote in the leadership election. Presumably the NEC has something against this group of members. Breach of Contract does not apply – you cannot ask for “specific performance”.

But wait all was not lost … Read more…

Trump and Brexit

I would like to write him off, but Trump did win the Republican Nomination even though so many commentators said he was a joke.

Why did he win the nomination?

  • He has plugged into something that most commentators (professional and amateur) don’t understand
  • I suspect that his supporters hold “commentators” in contempt, so either,
    • they are not listening to the commentators saying what a danger he is, or
    • they are listening and what is being said just hardens their support for him

He put together a coalition of support in places where it mattered and won the nomination. To win the presidency (elected by an electoral college) he has to build a coalition of support in places where it matters – the swing states. Outside those marginals it does not matter what people think or vote.

Read more…

Pay up £571M or lose your knighthood

The above headline (from the Daily Mirror 25 July 2016) reflects the exasperation that many feel at the behaviour of Sir Philip Green – former boss of BHS.

But surely this is muddled thinking?

Read more…

Identity post Brexit

The recent vote to leave the EU has had me pondering my identity and how this may guide me in the next few, possibly turbulent, years.

The late Charles Kennedy, used to say

he was “a Highlander, a Scot, a Briton and a European”, in that order.
West Highland Free Press, 5 June 2015 | “The brightest and the best of men”

Following that model I should be “a Southerner, English, British and European”, in that order; but I don’t feel I am. Read more…

What the hell DO we want?

51.9% (of those who voted) don’t want the status quo. That was meant to be the “EU membership” status quo, but has probably been taken to mean a more general status quo.

So apart from “something different” what do the Brexiteers / Leavers / Quitters want? Read more…

Intruding on private grief

As in good grief, what is going on?

Last Thursday’s momentous vote was a vote to begin divorce proceedings. Or, if you like, to move out of the house we share with 27 other countries.

It did not, though, come with any plan – let alone an agreement – as to where we are moving next or what our relationship will be in future with those we used to share our life with.

Asked a few days before the vote whether he had such a plan for the day after if the Leave campaign won Boris Johnson was brutally frank – in private at least. No was his answer.

He and other Leavers declared their hope that David Cameron would have one and would stay in office to implement it.

But Cameron was determined not to be the one tasked with clearing up a mess which, he believes, they created.

Besides he believes he would have no credibility doing so either at home – with the electorate who rejected his pleas to remain in the EU – or in Brussels – with leaders who listened when he assured them that he could and would win the referendum.
BBC News Website, 27 June 2016 | Nick Robinson Comment, UK suffers leadership gap in risky times

So how do we clear up this mess – “Project Farce” – as Nicola Sturgeon as termed it? Read more…

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