Moon Editorial – The politics of 2018

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Reflections of the Moon

2017 was a crazy year in politics. It began with Theresa May in total control, calling an election that looked like a landslide and ended in failure as she lost her majority and ended up relying on the DUP to stay in Number 10. She regained some control at the end of the year with a successful end to the first phase Brexit deal and the polls showing the Conservatives statistically tied with Labour, when given the upheaval, you would expect Labour to be marching miles ahead. Much of the reason they are not has to do with their leader, who despite doing better than expected in the election, is a long way still from proving he is actually electable.

So what of 2018. The pattern could follow the same as the last six months. It will be dominated by Brexit yet again. There will be gamesmanship on both sides with at times May looking very weak. Then as time moves on and the March 2019 deadline looms, we will probably end up with a deal late in the day yet again. Whatever red lines are being thrown around now, it is likely to be a Norway style transition until December 2020, followed by a permanent Canada style deal, with some details tweaked. And yes, free movement may well stay until 2020, those with a problem with that will of course squeal if it happens. The base will be that little will change in relation to the Single Market aspects of the EU, but we will leave the rest of the EU’s activities (Which don’t forget accounts for roughly 80% of EU law)

This year will also see the completion of the withdrawal bill. The likely pattern is the Lords will pass a small number of amendments, will be rejected or a compromise found to allow the Lords to back down on the rest in the end. The bill should be passed and ready to be enacted into law by March 2019. 

In May the local elections will likely give Labour something of a boost. This year’s local elections are heavily biased towards urban cities and London, where if General Election patterns are sustained, scope for some major gains for Labour are possible.At local level signs the Lib Dems are recovering are also showing in local by election results, There is scope in London for them to recover ground lost during the tuition fee row years. t could be a tough night for the Conservatives, given the terrain which the elections will be fought, coming close to holding what they have would be a success.

Elsewhere housing will likely be the biggest focus but it is an area with no easy answers. Will action match the talk? Time will tell. Michael Gove will also continue his campaign to make the Tories take more notice of animal welfare issues. This is a good thing from a Conservative point of view, the specter of a Fox Hunting vote and the suggestion of backtracking on the Ivory pledge definitely lost the Tories key votes in June. 

Overall barring some big totally unexpected event it will likely be a fairly quiet year and I expect the polling to look much the same at the end of it as it does now, with no General Election and no change of leadership. What is more exciting is to watch the development of the influx of young Tories who are leading a social media fight back. Where will they take this in 2018, hopefully even further getting more people involved still to fight the barrage of hatred and abuse and Fake News that is the hallmark of Labour’s social media machine that needs desperately to be taken on and defeated.

2018 is in some ways the start of a five year cycle that will determine a lot about the future of Britain for a long time to come. While the window for those who want to stop Brexit looks small, it being done or not will have much longer effects. Then comes the next General Election, assuming it is in 2022, who will take control of post Brexit Britain, the Conservatives or the Hard left of Corbyn’s Labour, in a world where many more powers will be available to the winner, will also have long term consequences for the country. I have little doubt Britain outside the EU with a Conservative majority Government come 1st January 2023 is the best outcome. 

 

 

 

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Moon of Liberty Editorial – The UK Energy Market & Trump needs to get back to policy

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Moon of Liberty Editorial

Reflections of the Moon

It’s up to customers to create the market

This week British Gas announced a 12.5% electricity price rise despite low wholesale costs. The excuse was the same as always, they but in bulk, plus they argue they held off previous price rises unlike other companies. It’s funny of course how we never get price reductions because traders who buy in bulk bought too low in advance. The left, and increasingly many in the Tory party, seem to think intervention is the answer, there is no market they argue. Theresa May has even launched an investigation this week.

Well actually, there is as anyone who has listened to the excellent Martin Lewis and frankly any other expert on it who is willing to help the consumer will explain, there are plenty of options out there, mainly relating to switching and often to smaller suppliers. The ‘Big 6’ as they are known ultimate rely on loyalty and the fact consumer cannot be bothered to switch.

It’s understandable, many people do not know how easy it actually is to do so. If millions switched to smaller companies tomorrow, the Big 6 would have to act. We saw an example of this and how it can work a few years ago when Opus Energy reduced their prices and took some market share with it. It panicked the Big 6 into rare price reduction they had no intention of making.

In the end however it is for consumers to create the market. Too many remain loyal when they have no reason to. State intervention is not the answer, the much maligned, wrongly in my opinion, free market is the answer. The public are the ones who can take advantage of it, if they don’t, don’t expect state intervention to be of any use, in the end, it won’t.

The Trump administration needs to focus on policy

The US congress has gone into recess with Shaun Spicer, Reince Preibus and Anthony Scaramucci all gone from the Trump administration. The administration is in danger of becoming, it it has not already, all about personalities and not about policy, which in reality is where it is strongest.

Whether it be decisive steps against the horror going on in Venezuela, a regime scarily, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn here in the UK seems to continue to back. Or it be getting unanimous agreement in the UN for sanctions on North Korea, or it’s agreement with a Japanese firm to create a large factory and thousands of jobs in Wisconsin, a key state Trump would need to hold if he stands again in 2020, there are areas where this administration actually has a better story to tell than many may think.

Can anyone get a grip on this crazy administration before it spirals out of control and get the President back on the front foot? It appears now to be in John Kelly’s hands as the new chief of staff. For the administration to succeed he needs to be a success and there a while, not another notch on the ‘you’re fired’ list.

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Moon of Liberty Editorial – Brexit & The Trump Wing

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Editorial – Reflections of the Moon

Brexit – It’s the outcome that matters

The process of the UK leaving the EU is in a precarious position. Despite their being in my view not a shred of evidence the decision to leave the EU being a mistake, for some reason those who want to block the process from happening are appearing more confident. Much of this is to do with splits in the cabinet, with Chancellor Phillip Hammond calling for a 3 year transition period and Trade secretary Liam Fox declaring free movement of people, which would be part of any such arrangement, must end in 2019.

Meanwhile post the failure of Prime Minister Theresa May to win a majority, she looks powerless to stop the cabinet battles, which are a proxy for what they see as the inevitable leadership contest to come, from going on around her. Ultimately while these day to day machinations will fascinate the press, what actually matter is the final outcome. Expect the process to continue slowly until the final moment when, as is the EU way, the path to a deal will suddenly speed up.

Whatever happens in the deal, or whether there is no deal, no option is in my view worse than remaining in the EU, the consequences will be in effect accepting the Superstate the EU wants to move to and the end of a Free Britain. This is far more important than the wranglings in the run up, the final outcome is what matters and the defeat of those wanting to stop the process is essential to ensure we remain in a free country in whatever form it ends up.

The Trump Wing

Fans of the Drama series ‘The West wing’ could be forgiven for thinking the current US administration is another series of their favourite entertainment show. The President’s health care plan is voted down by a member of his own party after being diagnosed with brain cancer. Two members of the administration leave within days. Never ending controversy via the President’s twitter feed. It is a script any top drama script writer would have issues making up. 

The only thing President Trump has in his favour is that it is debatable if there is anyone in the Democrat Party who can seriously take in on and he continues to have an army of support who will dismiss any bad news as fake new or mad up by the media. As bizarre as this White House looks, can a second trump victory in 2020 be ruled out? No it can’t. Talk of him being impeached over something like the Russian issue is likely overblown, the Democrats must think hard if they are to come up with a way to oust him, it will be more difficult than many believe.

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Moon Of Liberty Editorial -The next Brexit battles

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Reflections Of The Moon

The next Brexit battles

Last week saw an historic turn of events. Nearly 500 MP’s voted to start the process of Leaving the European Union, something until a very short time ago would have been unthinkable. Regardless of if you thought that vote should have occurred or not (and I don’t), it was unquestionably an historic moment. Does that mean it is all over? No, there could still be battles in the House of Lords to come, although the size of the Commons majority and the threat of future sanction if the unelected house tries to stand in the way of the will of the public Referendum makes that less likely.

Some key battles will come this week in the commons however. Last weeks vote was only the second reading, this week will see the committee and report stages as well as a final (for now anyway) 3rd reading vote. It could come back to the Commons at the end if the Lords ask the Commons to look at some of their amendments. These stages allow MP’s to table their own amendments to add to the bill. Many amendments on all sides have been tables, from the SNP the Lib Dems and the Labour side. Not all will be considered, that will be for the Speaker John Bercow and his team to decide. Given how Bercow has operated however, the more contentious ones will likely be chosen and debated.

Two serious possibilities will be to guarantee the rights of foreign nationals already here and a debate on the terms of the vote Parliament will get at the end of the process. As for the foreign nationals issue, it is unlikely a deal on this will not be done in the negotiation, or separately if there is no free trade deal. This would be a difficult one for the Government to weigh up, ideally this is still a negotiating card the Government would like to keep, however there is a majority in the commons to get it through if the MP’s really want to push for it. It is not inconceivable that if the Government thought they may lose, they could conceded this anyway. I support all foreign nationals right to stay here and have no problem with this getting through. Indeed, the good will it would create may create the conditions for a better deal in the end to be obtained.

The other battle over the type of vote is more complex and could prove more important.. The Government’s position is that if there is a deal, Parliament will vote for the deal or for no deal. But what if there is just no deal? For most this would be a case of tough luck, however those desperate to stay in the single market sense an opportunity here. If there is no deal surely Parliament should have the opportunity to accept an alternative to no deal.. Theresa May has said as far as she is concerned no deal is better than a bad deal. That means trade returning to WTO rules. By pushing their amendment those pro the single market hope to keep their hope alive by forcing a vote in which the alternative would either be the EEA option, or worse still for those more cynical of the motives of some of those MP’s, there is the other option of this being a back door way of staying in the EU, as Tim Farron has proposed as the alternative in his Referendum.

It is tough to say whether any amendment based on an alternative vote could get through. In theory there may be enough Tory rebels, but some Labour MP’s will be against it as well and accounting for abstentions and perhaps the DUP backing the Government, it would still be a tough ask to win the vote. If this is called by the speaker it is one the Government must fight, their position of bi lateral deal or no deal is the right one for this country and it’s negotiation and the executive must not lose control of the terms of the final vote as it could hand those who still hope Brexit won’t happen a small window of opportunity. The Government has set out the right course, this week could see attempts to blow it off course, this must not happen. Battles this week may in the long run prove more important than last weeks vote.

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Moon Of Liberty Editorial – May’s Brexit Speech

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May aims for Goldilocks Brexit while rejecting Mummy Bear’s bed

Theresa May has given the most important Brexit speech setting out the details of her plans and objectives for the negotiations to leave the EU. The vote on June 23rd 2016 left three options on the table, one is the EEA option which keeps the UK in the Single Market but also means we have to accept free movement. This option has been known as ‘soft’ Brexit. There is then the ‘hard’ Brexit option otherwise known as the WTO option where there is no deal, the UK has full sovereign control and trade with the EU moves to WTO rules with the potential for tariffs. Then there is the middle route, a bi -lateral deal to be negotiated which could include virtually anything between the those two poles, depending on what is negotiated.

So whose been sleeping in my bed? Hard Brexit is too hard and soft Brexit is too soft for May in an ideal scenario. She wants a bi-lateral deal that is just right, the Goldilocks Brexit. Today she set out what that in her ideal scenario meant. Most crucial it means rejecting free movement on an unrestricted basis of people which means by definition no membership of the single market but instead a free trade deal which negotiates as much access both ways as possible. It means leaving the aspects of the customs union that prevent the UK signing trade deals around the world, while willing to negotiate other parts of it. It is likely this in practice means leaving the customs union altogether as it is difficult to see how partial involvement can be negotiated, but time will tell, perhaps a separate customs agreement in the free trade deal may be possible.

It also means UK law not being subject to the European Court of Justice (Not to be confused with the European Court of Human Rights which is not an EU body.) She made clear Britain does still want to co-operate on science and innovation and in relation to crime and terrorism. There are bodies within the EU which do include non EU members on these issues, which fits in to her saying that while the UK will not make big contributions to the EU, to remain in projects such as these may mean making some contribution  This in my view is not something to fear, Switzerland, Iceland and Norway all make good use and benefit from such projects they are interested in being involved in.

It was a long speech which included a fair amount of irrelevant waffle. But on the bulk of the substance the speech is welcome. She also confirmed Parliament would ratify the final deal, shooting the fox of those complaining Parliament is being sidelined. This was also a Labour demand for supporting Article 50 should Parliament have to vote on that, this should remove this barrier assuming, and this may be naive, Labour sticks to it’s line.. Once Article 50 is triggered there is almost no means of reversing it, the Parliamentary vote on the deal will mean the deal, or the WTO Option, which Government sources have confirmed this afternoon, as time under the Article 50 process will run out. An option I am not scared of, but many are, this means any deal will almost certainly be voted through.

May also re-iterated that if forced to choose between soft or hard Brexit she will go for the Hard option. “No deal is better than a bad deal.” she added. Again while she insisted it was unlikely to get to that and she was confident of a deal, she made clear the Government are happy to walk away with no deal even making reference to the UK changing it’s economic model if required. From a libertarian point of view very tempting not to get a deal at all. Even so, if forced to choose she has rejected mummy bear’s too soft bed and is prepared to lie in daddy bear’s too hard bed and willing to challenge Parliament to do so too. It’s an ambitious approach and she will not get everything she wants, but the fact she is willing to go down the route of the WTO Option if necessary is reassuring and gives her greater control of events. It means the weakest deal option has been rejected and makes a good deal more likely, with some porridge left over for Goldilocks to boot.

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Moon Of Liberty Editorial – 10th Jan 2017

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Reflection Of The Moon

Welcome focus on mental health

Theresa May has used New Year media appearances to focus on mental Health and her new vision of the ‘shared society’ She also faced questions on Brexit in her interview on Sky News with Sophy Ridge. I welcome the focus on mental health which is overdue and a credit to a range of campaigners including Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb and Spectator’s Isabel Hardman who has written a powerful piece about her own experiences. Time will tell what is delivered but the focus is welcome.

Less welcome is the waffle around her ‘shared society’ vision which appears to be making the case for Government intervention without currently anything concrete in terms of policy. May has an authoritarian record at the Home Office and this is a hint she wants domestic policy to proceed in the same way. I will be opposed to any such approach which sounds very much like the Ghost of Ed Miliband, someone whom we thought we had rejected in May 2015.

As for Brexit May hints that free movement is more important than the single market, but, probably because the cabinet are not agreed, she refuses to confirm it in as many words. I believes there is nothing to fear from a short term WTO option and the best deal will be negotiated from that state, rather than from the inside, if it is the case that Britain is willing to leave membership of the Single Market. At some point a decision will need to be made and if May is still serious about invoking article 50 by the end of March, she does not have long.

Corbyn’s path to total irrelevance continues

Whatever criticisms of the Theresa May there are, one group who are not benefiting are the Labour Party. Today we have seen two doses of Jeremy Corbyn, in the first he calls for a maximum wage even one of his former economic advisers have called ‘idiotic.’ He also defied his own team who had been spinning he was to take a tougher line on immigration in failing to do so to the bewilderment of many of his closest allies. He then made a speech on Brexit earlier in which he gave no clue as to his policy on that, but said he would spend EU contribution on the NHS, as he falsely claimed the Leave campaign they had promised. The irony is what they actually said was Britain would have those choices, Corbyn s now offering that and has delivered the pledge on the bus Boris Johnson and Michael Gove traveled around in by giving Brits the chance to accept or reject that at the ballot box. It will likely be overwhelmingly rejected, although this particular policy will be low on the lists of reasons why. Corbyn has not been in the news much as of late, today’s shambolic showing tells us all why.

Hollywood v Trump – only one winner

All reports say there was a downer on the Golden Globes, namely Donald Trump’s win. Somehow, somewhere groups created due to a talent for acting on TV has become a club for left-wing views and has become one of the ultimate symbols of the ‘Liberal Elite.’ Meryl Streep was the face of it this year and Trump responded on Twitter calling her ‘over rated’ As an actress she is not of course but that does not matter. If you want to present yourself as fighting the ‘Liberal Elite’ attacking an actress who used her platform to pontificate is about as symbolic as you can get. His voters will love it and spats like it will increase his chances of re-election in 2020. There is only one winner, and it will not be Meryl Streep and her friends in Hollywood.

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Moon Of Liberty Editorial – Apple, Ireland, The EU, Remainers & the difference between free movement and free movement

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Editorial

The EU are rotten to the Apple core

Will the EU ever learn? the recent decision over demanding Apple pay 13bn Euros to the Irish Government over a deal apparently done between the two suggests that after Brexit and other recent difficulties, the EU has reverted to type. Whenever the EU has a crisis it concludes despite all the evidence that the answer is more of the EU. The decision has managed to offend both sides and the Irish Government are intending to appeal. They should be applauded for doing so, it would have been easy for them to just accept the money, but they have chosen to fight for the principal of national freedom over tax affairs before their own immediate interest.

As for the EU, it reinforces every dislikable aspect of the institution. They believe they can interfere in affairs as important as tax then there are no no-go areas for the EU Commission any longer. They have showed their hatred of freedom and liberty, their contempt for democracy and national Governments, their appetite for an EU Superstate and lust for power.Their arrogance and inability to learn or change.  As for Apple, if they find EU is closed for business, I can think of one nation that most certainly is not.

Prominent Remain supporters are changing their tune

One interesting development of the last week or so is the sea change among prominent remain supporters. Now this is not true of all, you still have Tony Blair telling French radio stations we may stay in the EU and the ludicrous Monet Professor Micheal Dougan and his academia friends are still spouting about how the result of the Referendum is not valid from their University ivory towers where the real world is a distant concept. However their clearly has been a change. Prominent Conservative MP on the remain side Anna Soubry told Channel 4 News this week that she accepts there will not be a 2nd Referendum and argued strongly for Free Movement at the start of a push from those on her side of the argument to push for the EEA or Norway post Brexit model.

There are others too. Times leader writer Oliver Kamm (The Times weekday edition leader backed remain) responded in a tweet to an article in the New Statesman that Remainers needed to keep up the pressure regarding pointing out (what they see) as the costs of Brexit in order to push for the EEA option. This was re-tweeted by high profile Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee. Toynbee later promoted the ‘March For Europe’ by tweeting ‘No-One knows what Brexit means – but the 48% want to stay close.” Note the word close, a couple of weeks ago Toynbee would not have included that word, confirming that for her, the fight for her preferred EEA option has also begun. When you have a Murdoch press leader writer and the high priestess of Guardian Leftism agreeing, you know something is happening. They are no longer fighting to stay in the EU but for their post Brexit preference. This weakens the voice of those like Doughan, to whom the likes of Kamm and Toynbee may see as an irritation to what is now the real debate. Whether you agree with the EEA option or not, the fact these Remainers who spent weeks virtually mourning the result are now joining the post Brexit debate is something we all should welcome.

The Freedom of Movement misconception

One aspect of the upcoming debate on migration as the Brexit negotiations begin is the difference between freedom of movement for workers and unrestricted freedom of movement. It has ben argued by people who were on both sides of the debate, particularly those arguing for the EEA Option, rightly in my view, that freedom of movement for workers has befitted the UK. It would be a policy I would favour us implementing, that if someone coming to the UK will be worker and has a job lined up, they should be allowed to come to the UK freely. This frankly could apply not just to the EU countries, but the World. However that is not the EU position.

The EU requires freedom of movement full stop. I living in Nottingham, could move to Ljubljana, or Bratislava and nobody could stop me regardless of my status while we remain in the EU. That of course is nonsense, and the ability to flit across boarders unrestricted undoubtedly increases the risk of terrorism with it. The reason for this EU policy is because it is a part of the creation of Europe being treated as a country and was always intended to soften us up for further integration. In order to look for the best outcome for Britain, it will be important freedom of movement for workers, for which a strong case can be made and unrestricted freedom of movement as set by the EU, for which the argument even for me Libertarian like me, who in theory would love to support total free movement, falls flat on many practical grounds, are not confused. I fear they will be all too often, potentially weakening the argument for a better immigration policy and will be used by those with various agenda to skew and cheapen the debate one way or another.