The the sky is black with Mayan chickens coming home to roost. The big beasts must clip the wings of Timothy and Hill

27 May 2017 at 08:26

Those of us who warned that calling an election may not have been an act of political genius see ominous black clouds billowing over the horizon. It is not a thunderstorm. It is not the seven horsemen of the apocalypse popping out for a pint. The sky is blackening with Mayan chickens coming home to roost.

The coronation has been cancelled, the dainty sandwiches are curling at the ends, the beer is going flat and the bunting in tatters. Tomorrow will be crunch day. The first opinion polls since the wickedness of Manchester will be pawed over. If there is not a marked improvement there is a distinct possibility of a Corbyn government. Writing, let alone reading those words, fills me with a primal sense of dread. Yet all we comfortable middle classes do is float around in our cosy little echo chamber of, ‘well, of course she’ll win…….er…..won’t she?’

I hope that the polling nose dive may stir the Remainers to abandon their guilty little secret of wanting to vote Lib Dem. Farron has been surprisingly hopeless. Maybe stay at homers will be encouraged to get out and vote. Some of us warned that Corbyn, despite his many faults, has a sense of innocence and decency about him. He has had a great campaign. Mobbed by adoring fans. Surrounded by bright eyed youngsters. If I was Lynton Crosby I would focus on his team. Bill boards of Abbott, ‘your next Home Secretary.’ Thornberry, ‘your next Foreign Secretary.’ And that nasty old man McDonnell. Well I’d just have him depicted with horns and cloven feet, drawing up lists of who will be shot after the revolution. In fact, anyold holiday snap will do. Whatever happens, and I predict a smallish May majority, there will be two consequences. Corbyn will be cemented in place as the eternal leader and moderate Labour will form a new party. This will be very dangerous for the Conservatives. Ah, yes, the C word will come back into fashion. The kid’s chemistry set experiment of Mayan adoration is making an eggy gas smell and is in danger of blowing up. They won’t try that little wheeze for a while.

But May is not so much damaged goods as just shown to be mortal. The party will demand changes. The big beasts of Fallon, Davis, Green and McLoughlin will exert more of an influence. She will be told that the wings of Timothy and Hill must be clipped. That there must be more of a collegiate approach. That there must be more consultation. Perhaps even make Davis deputy prime minister. It’s a bit like Thatcher before the fall. Ministers were queuing up to tell her that she should be in listening mode, more collegiate and less arrogant. She just slipped them the birdie. The end was swift and bloody.

I do hope May listens. She is basically a decent person with good instincts. I am told that when she relaxes with friends she can be warm. I suspect that there is an inherent shyness and insecurity which gives the impression of glacial indifference to others. That her dread of getting it wrong makes her look stilted and awkward. It’s time she became more relaxed in her own skin.

We can’t afford any more mistakes. This election has become interesting. And utterly terrifying.

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The knuckle draggers hate May's manifesto. Splendid. You can't teach an old dogma new tricks, just send it to the vet

21 May 2017 at 05:39

Like the overwhelming majority of the voting public I haven’t read the Conservative or for that matter, any, election manifesto. They are window dressing. The various bribes and threats will be spun to destruction by all sides of whatever the argument is. Which is basically, Corbyn is dangerously crap and May dully adequate. That’s probably a little unkind, but it’s mood music and flavour that counts. This election is about leadership and nothing else.

I do feel a bit sorry for the press. Weeks of being corralled into soulless factories. Rehearsed and reheated questions. With North Korean applause from ministers desperate to keep their shared mid range family saloons and wide eyed Teenage Tory Mutants whom one day might just make it to the heady heights of the Parish Council.

Another reason a try and avoid reading manifestos is because it’s far more fruitful to see what is on offer through the eyes of the media. It’s a waste of time reading the fine print, because unless there is a hidden pledge to put to the sword the first male born child, it’s contents are not going adorn the Mail or the Sun. But the Mayan manifesto, or the bits of it that have surfaced, is rather cheering. I don’t mean in policy terms, but in mood music. The knuckle draggers of the right are very confused. Cavemen brains can only take so much detail before they have to go out into the jungle and kill tea for the lady wife. They have a simple test. Would St Margaret have approved? Is May one of us? Is she sound? And the poor dears just can’t work it out. They are horrified at what they think is statism by stealth. Caps on energy prices? That’s anti business. Let the market rip. Interfere in people’s lives? Let them fuck it up. It’s not a matter for government. One permanent secretary told me that he thought she was a Heathite. And now the press have coined the phrase, Red Tory. Both very wide of the mark.

I just don’t think you can pigeon hole May. What I found most enlightening about her latest speech is that she condemned looking at issues though the prism of an ism. You can’t teach and old dogma new tricks, so put it quietly and respectfully to sleep. To my mind this is proper political pragmatism. Many more people than we think find things more of a struggle than we middle classes are aware of. They work hard. They love their kids. They respect their partners. But still somehow they manage to be screwed by someone. Usually a faceless entity. The Philip Greenian doctrine of company management. Banks who make it more and more difficult to get a mortgage. Pay day loans at deeply immoral rates of interests. Crap schools. And energy companies who just take the piss as well as your money. What May is saying is, ‘I get it. Trust me and I will fight for you.’ People resonate with that. It is a powerful message if it is sincere. And I believe that she is.

Well, she has had her wobbly weekend. Lynton Crosby will be making it brutally clear that the party must stay on message and stop going into panic and self doubt the moment there is the first whiff of cordite. So forget the manifesto. It’s served its purpose and is yesterday’s chip paper. Back to the message. Leadership, leadership, leadership.

Oh, and thank you Pippa. The tabloids are far more interested in your bum then they are about opinion polls. With a bit of luck Harry will announce his engagement to whomsoever he is currently shagging and Katie Price might just have another divorce,/marriage/visit to rehab or a baby. Probably the bloody lot.

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The scandal that undermines our once great system of justice

10 May 2017 at 07:09

I never blog on cases, but today I must break my rule. Yesterday I discovered a scandalous state of affairs which could have led to an innocent man going to jail for a substantial period of time. I will not name the defendant nor the court for obvious reasons. In forty years of practice at the bar this shook my faith in what was once the finest and fairest justice system in the world. Read this and weep. And mourn for British justice.

Yesterday I was sent to the Crown Court to offer no evidence in a firearms case. I had been instructed some weeks ago as Prosecution counsel. Let me give you a thumbnail sketch. Last year the police searched a van. In this van was a tool box and in this tool box were founds guns and ammunition. This comprised of an 8mm blank firing pistol converted to be a lethal weapon. An empty magazine belonging to that hand gun. A Glock self loading hand gun. The magazine from this handgun contained two live rounds. And three further live rounds were found in a knotted bag. It goes without saying that the possession of these items is a very serious offence and carries a minimum sentence of five years for the guns and a consecutive sentence for the ammunition. Anyone convicted potentially faces a sentence of imprisonment of seven years upwards.

The guns and ammunition were forensically examined. The laboratory gave the police what is called a Streamlined Forensic Report (SFR). It came to this conclusion, ‘a match exists between the defendant and the sample’. In other words the defendant’s DNA was found on one of the magazines.

This was served on the CPS and duly uploaded onto the digital case system, effectively serving this on the court and the defence. An SFR is precisely that, and both prosecution and defence are entitled to see the full report. But very often it is taken at face value. As there was no other evidence the CPS reviewing lawyer wanted further information. He asked for more information. Was there a mixed profile? How strong was the DNA? He received obfuscation from the lab. ‘The SFR provided indicated that a number of results were subject to progress.’ But the lawyer was dogged in his determination and finally received this bombshell. ‘The lab confirms due to confusion they have never compared mixed profiles against the defendant.’ They also stated that ‘progress means there are no additional findings’. Then came this chilling line. ‘The lab refused to elaborate any further……’

The reviewing lawyer reported the following,‘I am concerned that the language used in the SFR appears to assert positive and ongoing actions when they are clearly negative. I have requested the OIC to obtain an email from the forensic officer confirming the phone communication and what is implied in the SFR…..he confirmed that the report was misleading.’

The CPS, underfunded, overworked and creaking at the seams comes in for a lot of criticism. In this case the reviewing lawyer deserves a herogram.

Yesterday when I offered no evidence I explained to the judge in detail what had happened. I will never forget the look of horror on his face. There will be a thorough judicial investigation.

And yesterday SKY NEWS reported that a private forensic laboratory had ‘manipulated data.’ What the hell is happening? I will tell you. In 2010 the government announced that the national forensic service (the FSS) was to be closed down and forensic analysis would be privatised. Let me be clear that the FSS has had its fair share of cock ups. But the government announcement prompted horror from professionals. The National Audit Office warned, ‘this could spark a crisis within the justice system.’ They were right. Soon the court of appeal will be swamped. Will someone, somewhere listen? I won’t hold my breath.

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The two parties have become a bunch of cults. But the country is worshiping at the court of Good Queen Tess

9 May 2017 at 08:46

Dear God another month to go. How much more can a sentient being take? Oh, I forgot. This is a aimed at voters. It is strange how the two parties have turned into cults. The Corbynistas genuinely worship him. He has come down from the mountain with his slab of granite and ten democratically curated composite motions. The trouble is that they are the playbook from another forgotten and rejected era. Big business bad, workers good. Anyone earning over £80,000 is rich, so tax them until their pips squeak. Tell that to hardworking head teachers and doctors. It is all wonderful worthy stuff. The sort of fluffy, warm, dreamy idealism that Swampy and his chums would debate hanging from their trees the night before laying in front of bulldozers. The trick in politics, if you want to win, is not just to make yourself feel great but to make those you want to vote for you feel even better.

But it would be foolish to deny the genuine affection that Corbyn’s followers have for him. For the first time in years they have been given a voice. The sneering middle classes, the Westminster effete, the once rulers of the galaxy have been cast into eternal darkness. In short, Labour enthusiasts are having fun. ‘People are listening to us’, they cry in misty eyed disbelief. ‘If it wasn’t for the wicked, biased, enemy of the people, the Tory bloody media led by the fascist BBC, our message would get across.’ What they don’t seem to have realised is that their message has got across and people don’t much care for it.

In times of crisis the British like strength. They didn’t love Thatcher. But they believed she could sort out our mess. She was humourless, had a voice that could curdle cream and wasn’t particularly bright. But she surrounded herself with intelligent people who could translate her instincts into policy. And her instincts were mostly in tune with the public. Most important of all she transcended party. She had a direct line to the public. Her party was merely the apparatus for getting her message through. And for a while it was very effective. But when trust transformed into worship and worship demanded loyalty, disobedience led to punishment. And the realisation that she was a mere mortal after all.

I am not trying to make too much of a comparison between May and Thatcher. They are both very different people. Although I don’t know May at all, despite her clankyness and horror of the media her instincts tend to be right and I detect a genuine sense of warmth. Tonight on the One Show we will see her with her husband Philip. My advice is to forget the slogans the petty party politics and show the real May, which I suspect is far softer than we think.

But back to the campaign. The Crosby playbook is breathtakingly simple. Find the strengths of your candidate and bang over the message over and over again. Then some more. Be relentless. Keep every spokesman on message. Allow no dissent. So far it has worked very well. This has become a Presidential campaign. The Conservative Party is merely the structure for getting her elected. The interminable Strong and Stable may drive us scribblers insane, but it is effective. What is the Labour message in a sound bite? None of us have a clue. Who Cares Wins might work. But it’s too late. Nobody is listening. It’s worship at the court of Good Queen Tess.

And the Lib Dems? Farron has been a disappointment. His message of attracting the 48 per cent is not translating into the polls; yet. His personal campaigning skills are not as effective on the media as I expected. But anecdotally I am utterly convinced that they will do much better than the pollsters think. Iain Dale is right to predict that the Tory majority will not be a landslide but about seventy. We will see.

So when will May’s wobbly Thursday be? To find the answer look at where she is most vulnerable. Answering probing questions. She will survive the Question Time approach, although expect a small bounce for Corbyn and Farron. But if I was Crosby I would be particularly concerned about Andrew Neil. He is far more forensic than Paxo ever was. He interviews like a top barrister cross examines, with the golden rule of never ask a question unless you know the answer. Stable and Strong sound bites won’t work here. She really needs a day of someone playing the role of Neil roughing her up.

It is now the Theresa May show. All Tories will have to remain on message. They must be like the Borg (Star Trek) collective hive. They have one thought, one direction, one personality. ‘You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.’ And for heaven’s sake keep Bozo in the attic. He is like Roger Rabbit. He can’t help himself from saying or doing something really, really stupid. On the other hand release him for just one day. Just to break up the boredom.

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Juncker is an old drunk. On power. Before breakfast. He is alienating member states and Remainers like me

3 May 2017 at 14:31

This is an election of slogans. When May duck walked her way into another factory surrounded by a kinder of blue rosetted star struck adolescents, some jaded hack remarked that she might as well wear a fur coat and sing Rule Britannia. That rather confused the penned and irritable scribblers fantasising about their first three pints of Doom Bar, and a collective question mark bubble appeared. ‘Song and sable you twats’, to universal groans.

But yesterday was the turn of Diane Abbott who slogan now appears to be, ‘fuck it up means fuck it up’. And she did us proud. She has all the grasp for detail that Edward Scissorhands had for chopsticks. Well, at least her car crash was with a Ferrari. Labour high command ( not so much on dope as a bunch of them) are in a state of strong non stable non government. Seamus has issued an internal memo, ’ for God’s sake (not that we believe in her) don’t let her sing (by ‘her’ we don’t wish to make her gender binary nor offend the trans community).

Whist this is a great start for the Tories, the noises off from Brussels are strident to the point of insulting. The spinning of the Downing Street dinner was pretty disgraceful and wholly counter productive. But to tell us that May will not be allowed to lead negotiations is both wrong and stupid. Thatcher, May and Blair led negotiations in the past. What has changed? The 27 will not be happy about this. They are being sidelined. Juncker is a drunk; on power. And he starts before breakfast.

Doesn’t this foolish man realise that he is alienating Remainers like me? Doesn’t he appreciate that this is all meat and drink for the carpet biting separatists? He is delivering Theresa May the coronation she wants. What a foolish old man.

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If the Tory campaign slogan to the middle classes is, 'Labour will kill you whilst we will merely fuck you' there could be trouble

22 Apr 2017 at 13:41

I have a deep gut feeling that this election is not going to play out the way Theresa May wants it to. ‘Hah,’ you smirk, ‘look at the opinion polls, Corbyn is toast, even the Samaritans hang up on him’. Well, maybe. I don’t for one moment think that Corbyn will win, but he will do much better than we think. All elections are won on the middle ground and they will desert him in droves. But although Corbyn is a disaster at the dispatch box, he is in his comfort zone at the big rallies of besotted, love struck, damp gussetted disciples. They will harangue the wicked press and the fascist BBC, burn effigies of Murdoch and pray for the day when the war monger Blair gets his own personal Nuremberg. May is not in her comfort zone on the stump. To be honest I am not really sure where her comfort zone is. She doesn’t have the easy charm of Cameron and is so wooden she might as well be called the Cuprinol Kid. And she would be mad to think that the press can be kept at bay. Pity the poor bloody electorate who have got weeks of this guff and counter guff.

Corbyn’ s advantage is that he has nothing to lose. For him, to quote the Blair campaign song, ‘things can only get better’. Madam has taken a gamble drawn up exclusively with her two elves. If it goes wrong, if her new mandate is corrupted by a Lib Dem surge, as I suspect it will be, she faces danger from her cabinet and back benches. When things go wobbly (every election does) it will be interesting to see when Bozo goes off message. I promise you, he will. Kong of Sulk island will soon be thumping his chest.

What is interesting is the mechanics of it all. After a fork of lightening, a crash of thunder and a terrifying storm, striding out of the gothic gloom with only his cloven hooves shimmering in the moonlight, is the brash, brazen and brilliant Lynton Crosby. His rule is simple. I’ll give you the best chance of winning this election, just follow my instructions to the letter. He makes Josh Lymon look like a mild mannered introvert. He will have a professional working relationship with May. It will certainly not be the blokish banter he had with Cameron. Somehow I just can’t imagine him coming out with the sort of remark he made about Cameron after the 2015 victory, "Christ, I could suck the guy’s cock’. It is not going to be a barrel load of laughs.

The real tension will be his relationship with the gruesome twosome, Fi and Nick. They see themselves as gatekeepers to the sacred blue flame of St Theresa. They are used to being in control. They will find it hard to take orders. But they have never run an election campaign. They would be wise to bite their tongues. Not that they will. When the polls start to slide they will do what Tories are so good at; panic. Their relationship with Crosby is going to be fraught if not toxic. Let’s revisit this is a month.

One of the difficulties May has is what is defining shape of what the mandate she wants from us. ‘Give me the tools and I will finish the job?’ Well, she is blessed with Boris, Loathsome, Grayling and Truss. And will it make our negotiations with Brussels that much stronger? I still am not entirely sure anymore. The Trump bombshell that the EU will get a trade deal before us is a serious psychological blow. But in reality the final Trump position on world trade hasn’t yet been formed. He still needs to appoint hundreds of negotiators. A friend of mine was in DC recently trying to negotiate a trade deal. He was in discussions with three different teams.Hopeless? So all is not lost yet. But this could be the TTIP of the iceberg if the globalisers prevail in the West Wing.

The European Parliament’s statement that article 50 is not irrevocable is a real and present danger for the Brexiteers and May. It is meat and drink for Farron who could wipe out 27 Tory marginals and heaven knows how many Labour ones.

Now for my gut feeling. It tends to be right, but obviously not infallible. I felt that I was going to win in 1983 and 1992. I felt that Cameron would have a majority in 2015. My emotions got the better of me in the referendum because my gut feeling was that we remainers were in trouble, but I was stupid enough to delude myself with what I wanted to believe. Indulge me. Go to your pub, club and mates and ask three simple questions. ‘Was the election necessary? What do you think of Corbyn? Who will you vote for?’ None of this is very scientific, but so far I haven’t met anyone, including Tory backbenchers, who think that this election was necessary nor a good idea. As for their views on Corbyn? So far everyone everyone has just rolled their eyes. The really interesting answer was about voting intentions. I am now talking about committed Tories and Labour supporters who have voted for them all their lives. Their answers so far have been unanimous. Two words. Liberal Democrats. Things may change. But with the biggest fall in consumer spending in seven years, wage stagnation, and a real chance that the Conservative campaign slogan to the middle classes might be, ‘Labour will kill you whereas we will merely fuck you’, anything might happen.

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Beware the words of Francis Pym in 1983, 'landslides, on the whole, do not produce successful governments'.

18 Apr 2017 at 11:59

I can’t quite work out whether May is a political genius or as mad as a box of frogs for calling a snap general election. But she certainly has courage. Despite her 20 point lead in the opinion polls over Labour this election is risky. Not that Corbyn is going to get anywhere near winning. He will be running for cover rather than office. But as most news coverage till now has been fixated on Brexit, the failings of the NHS and education are now going to come to the fore. I wonder whether some extra cash will be found before Parliament is dissolved. Actually, I don’t wonder at all. I smell the scent of fudge wafting from Number 11.

The real winners will be the Lib Dems. They have turned this election into an opportunity to sink a hard Brexit. They have been doing very well in by elections and Farron is a formidable campaigner. If I was a Tory in a seat where the Lib Dems have come second I would be worried. If I was in a seat which was taken from them at the last election I would be terrified. This could be the beginning of a Lib Dem revival. They could take the soft Labour vote and the One Nation Tory wobblers. They won’t win power, but the prospect of a Tory Lib Dem coalition is not entirely a fantasy.

May has sensibly set out her stall in an almost Trumpian attack on the Westminster bubble. Parliament is divided, the nation is not. Let the people speak. Farron’s USP is simple. This is your chance to have another say on Brexit. We are the party of reasonableness and tolerance. We will heal a divided nation. Both positions have their attractions.

And what about Labour? Those with marginal seats will be traumatised. They will experience a Zombie election. They will not mention Corbyn and will turn down any visits from him. He will be a nightmare in any debate. Or will he? People have such low expectations of him all he needs to do is not fall over and he will have gone up in people’s estimation. And his basic sense of decency might just shine through. On the other hand he is surrounded by some dangerous fuck wits. The downside of Labour being humiliated and trounced is that they will re group and might just pick an electable leader. But that will be a problem for another day. And UKIP? It’s wipe out time.

I wonder what Osborne will do. This is a serious problem for him. His rivals will accuse him of forsaking his constituents. It will gain traction. He could lose. But if he doesn’t stand all hopes of the leadership evaporates. But May is most likely to remain in Number 10 with a fresh mandate. So what is the point of him staying on and risking another humiliation? I would be surprised if he stands again.

And let us not forget Bozo. Whatever one thinks think of this ghastly narcissistic little tit, he is a brilliant campaigner. But if May wins, his leadership dreams will also come to an end. A May mandate would also allow her to get rid of the dead wood in her cabinet. A fresh start. Strong leadership. A sense of purpose. And a strengthened negotiating position with Brussels. Perhaps she is not so mad after all. But the words of Francis Pym during the 1983 election will hang like a toxic cloud over this one. ‘Landslides don’t, on the whole, produce successful governments.’ He was right. And sacked

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Why Michael Howard's impeccable logic made me proud to be a knuckle dragging Xenophobic little Englander

3 Apr 2017 at 09:21

I find all this fake news rather discombobulating. How can I tell what I read and see is true? Peter Hitchens and Simon Heffer demand we return to imperial measurements. Nigel Farage nearly joins the mile high club with a hard core porn star and £400 per hour hooker. Donald Trump threatens to bomb North Korea. Michael Howard wants to send gunboats to Spain. And Noel Edmonds of Deal or No Deal is to be our chief negotiator with the EU. What do I believe?

I suspect that Bozo is so fat because he is having to eat so many of his own words. Remember his promise that doing a deal with the EU would be a doddle? He Gove and Loathesome all crowed that the referendum was about taking back control. They should have told us that this referred to Spain taking back control of Gibraltar. Oh, and don’t forget the Elgin Marbles. The Greeks will want to take back control of those too; to sell to the Germans.

And why shouldn’t we take back control of Calais? And the Norwegians take back control of most of England. Oh, and the Italians will want to take back control of Londinium. But they will at least build a wall to keep the SNP at bay.

Apart from divide our normally tolerant little nation Brexit has opened up a Pandora’s box of petty squabbles with Johnny Foreigner. They will remember every little slight, invasion and condescension across the ages. This is pay back time. We are going to get a right royal Wopping, as Mr.Fromage might say when he eventually comes up for air.

Watching Michael Howard on the television last night brought a spring to the Step of every red blooded Englishman. To the strains of land of hope and glory he invoked Margaret Thatcher, the Falklands and that filthy Dago language; Spanish. Dear God it made me proud to be a Xenophobic little Englander. And his logic is faultless. If the bloody wogs threaten Gib we bloody well show them what for. We go to war. Never mind that Spain is a fellow member of NATO. Of course it means that under our treaty obligations we will have to join the Spaniards and go to war against ourselves. And by Jingo, we’ll win! That’ll show ’em. What a tragedy that Howard never became Prime Minister. The world would have been a safer place.

Then there is the impeccable logic of Trump. That mad little fat kid Kim Wrong Un had better watch his mouth and his nukes. If the Chinese don’t sort out this mess in their own back yard I’ll bomb em myself. Personally. From Air Force One. It will be beautiful. I am real smart.

I really do hope that Trump puts that little bit of foreign policy back in the cereal box or fortune cookie where he found it.

So that just leaves us with Noel Edmonds as our chief trade negotiator. Out of all the other news this is the most sane. It must be true.

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The future may not be ginger but don't underestimate the Lib Dems

2 Apr 2017 at 14:48

The tectonic plates of British politics are not quite moving, but are beginning to wobble. Brexit bestrides the political world like a colossus and like that mighty statue is quite capable of tipping gallons of burning pitch onto ships that are foolish enough to sail between its legs. Before we leave the EU, bloodied bruised and with third degree burns there will be many political deaths. At the moment Queen Theresa (Rees Mogg’s morning Gloriana) dominates the opinion polls. And Labour? The patient is in a coma. The death rattle is wheezing in its throat and the priest (Humanist of course) is ready to administer the last lefts. And the family sits round the bed hoping a favourable will reading . Poor Corbyn is like the Roadrunner who has ran over the cliff and still running on air. The worst poll ratings since the craft was invented. Although they would be more accurate if they studied sheep’s entrails. Unthinkably, a large percentage of Labour supporters actually think May is a better leader. Rumours are rife at Westminster that Corbyn knows that the game is up and after the May elections will bow out. People who should know better are predicting that someone sensible and electable like Keir Starmer will replace him. Utter bollocks. Labour is no longer a party that aspires to power but inspires the Swampies and Tamponistas who think it is enough to spend the day on social media screaming abuse at Tory and Blairite scum. Their problem is deciding who is worse. So they will get the gothic McDonnell or one of those well scrubbed harridans who think that a glottal stop is where you alight to get to Islington.

While Labour is haemorrhaging members, the Lib Dems are scooping them up. While Labour is losing by elections they are winning them. Whilst Labour has lost the City, donors and anyone with the brain structure more sophisticated than a marsupial, the donors are lining up for them. And in May there are the local and Scottish elections. I would be amazed if the Lib Dems didn’t scoop an extra hundred seats. Perhaps more. Ruth Davison will almost wipe Labour out and give Sturgeon a bloody nose.

So does this mean that I have looked at the future and seen that it is ginger? Not quite. I like Tim Farron. He’s like Jeremy Thorpe without the shagging. A very good campaigner. The trouble is that his party have always been a thoroughly dishonest shower. They’d offer missionaries to the cannibals for a cheap vote. The irony is that they may pick up the young people’s vote. Of course, they cynically fucked students over a few years ago. But now the young have seen their futures destroyed by the new hordes of Teenage Mutant Tories who, if they win a landslide at the next General election, will probably advocate the slaughter of the first born to reduce the deficit. Tim won’t be Prime Minister or Leader of the Opposition, but he will be a force to be reckoned with.

The trouble with this scenario is that Labour have a visceral hatred of the Lib Dems. You know the history, so I won’t bore you with it. But what alternative to they have? A friend of mine is a professor of Darwinian biology. We were talking about politics the other day. He smiled. ‘You do realise that the history of evolutionary survival rests on two important truths? Elitism and extinction’. Labour back benchers would be wise to take that advice to heart. If they don’t, a few might be sighted in Lochness. But nobody would believe it. Labour backbenchers were just folklore.

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Osborne has become the real leader of the opposition. The only conflict of interests will be his and May's.

21 Mar 2017 at 08:25

Who in their right mind would want to stand for election as an MP? The place is no longer any fun at all. The bars are empty and you witness the heresy of journalists sipping skinny lattes rather than downing pints of Doom Bar. I once offered one of those pasty faced children from the Speccy a drink. It was as if Satan had entered the room and was suggesting a blow job from Jacob Rees Mogg. The whole place has become so worthy, so sanctimonious, so preachy that there is more fun in a seminary than in these corridors of dour. And the regulators of this monochrome bunch are even worse. More watchdogs than at that Battersea home for strays.

Last week they pronounced that relatives may no longer work for MPs. Utterly insane. Many wives are excellent and hard working secretaries and are a tremendous support to their husbands. Judy Gale, Angela Haselhurst and Eve Burt are three first class examples. Dear old Sir Julian Ridsdale employed the services of his formidable wife Paddy on whom Ian Fleming based the Miss Moneypenny character. She ran the show. In those days Harwich had the the highest concentration of nursing homes in the country. The joke doing the rounds then was a spoof BR poster, ‘Dover for the continent, Harwich for the incontinent.’ All Julian had to do when a constituent had a problem was utter the magic words, ’don’t worry Paddy will speak to matron.’

When I was elected in 1983 I discovered to my horror that the pay was £12,000 a year, precisely half of what I was earning at the bar. There was a small allowance for a secretary, but we had to buy our own typewriter, which was a second hand Olivetti golf ball. I managed to tempt my wife away from a top secretarial job to come and work for me. Of course, with a pay cut. It worked brilliantly. I remember being summoned to the office of the Accountant, a lovely guy called Dobson. ‘Listen Jerry, you guys are paid bugger all. You can be a little flexible on the allowances, just don’t take the piss.’

And now they are going to clamp down on MPs having other jobs. The hair shirt argument is that we should spawn a ghastly breed of professional politicians who must have no other interests than slavishly keeping their constituents under twenty four hour surveillance. They must have no other financial interests. To have another means of earning a living proves that you are ignoring your constituents. Of course, this is dangerous bollocks. MPs should be well rounded. Have a hinterland. Have experience of real life rather than sad attempts at slithering up the greasy pole. To deny them additional income makes them prisoners of the whips office. ‘Damn your conscience, if you don’t vote for the government you will be deselected’. The Commons is institutionalised enough as it is. It is important to have the financial security to be able to tell your party to sod off.

So now the question of George Osborne. The logic of the case is that editorship of the London Evening Standard is such a full time job that you would inevitably neglect the needs of your constituents two hundred miles away. Really? Being Chancellor is a full time job. Was he neglecting his constituents then? Of course not. ‘But editing a paper is different’, the hair shirters sqeal. Actually it isn’t. It’s certainly less onerous than being in the cabinet.

This Bru ha ha is because George has done rather well for himself after being very publicly sacked and humiliated by May, an act that she will live to regret sooner than she thought. I don’t want to sound too Philip Green, but there is a lot of envy swilling around the commons at the moment. What concerns me that Acoba, another watchdog, will decide whether there is a conflict of interests. And the Parliamentary standards committee are having a wail about it too. They will probably want to put together a list of forbidden jobs. God help us all.

Let’s put it into perspective. All additional income and interests have to be declared. The system is transparent. If the Tatton Conservative association feel that there is a conflict then they will take appropriate action. George will be asked to go. But it must be for them to decide. And the Tatton seat will disappear in boundary changes. So it’s all a bit academic. So my advice to Osborne is not to contemplate causing a by election. And to May? Be very careful what to say at PMQs tomorrow. Butter up the real leader of the opposition. He’s the editor of the Evening Standard. It is, of course too late. The real conflict of interests is between him and May. There is much mischief to be made. Oh, and he will take the piss. Buckets and buckets of it.

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