Communicate better, Lib Dem troll tells blogger

Earlier today I reacted to a snide tweet from a Lib Dem campaigner in a way that has left me uneasy. Mark Valladeres, who tweets as @HonLadyMark because his wife is Baroness Scott of Needham Market, accused me of poor communication skills, and I bit. Hard.

Now all political campaigners will tell you about how patronising Lib Dems have sneered at them, and in this age of social media it is all too easy to let it bother you. I usually don’t, but that is no excuse.

Mr Valladeres suggests that I learn to communicate better, after his Lib Dem colleague, my successor as a County Councillor, Caroline Page, warped the phrasing of a tweet to suggest that I believed news should be faked. As someone who takes the power of the media and the dedication the majority of journalists give to balance very seriously, I was pretty insulted by that. Councillor Page has form for deliberately misrepresenting me, so I snipped back at her.

Mr Valladeres’ intervention shouldn’t have rattled me, but as someone who made a living communicating, I objected to being told that Lib Dem lies were my own fault.

Now it is no secret that I have a very low opinion of Liberal Democrat activists, especially those in Woodbridge. Their behaviour during my 2004 by-election victory confirmed to me that they are the dirtiest and most hypocritical of campaigners, bending electoral law to the very edge, and indeed in one case breaking it, though this was never proven.

Among their many misdeeds during that election were telephone calls to Tory supporters suggesting that a 24 year old candidate was simply too young to be able to comprehend the complexity of Council business – a suggestion that was proven hypocritical by the first Lib Dem County Councillor to welcome me to the Council once I was elected, with the words “It’s so nice to have some young people on the Council.” They were, I recollect, spoken by Cllr Ros Scott. I’ve never forgotten the hypocrisy.

Another misdeed was when a former Lib Dem Town Councillor encountered one of my more senior leafleters on polling day. Lying through his teeth, he told this elderly gentleman that he was breaking the law by leafleting on polling day, and that if he didn’t throw his leaflets in the bin, he would call the police and have him arrested. Disgusting and disgraceful behaviour towards a man in his eighties who was upset and frightened by the incident. It is, of course, completely legal to deliver leaflets on polling day, and all political parties do so.

The same former Lib Dem Town Councillor was himself later seen wandering around the High School with a camera, attempting to take photographs of the polling station. Quite why was never clear.

These are merely three incidents from one election campaign. I fought six election campaigns in Woodbridge, five as a Tory (one as an Independent when I was just 21). In every single one of those election campaigns, the Lib Dems lied, cheated and claimed credit for someone elses achievements. None of this will surprise anyone who has ever been involved in an election campaign against the dirtiest party of them all. They even put in their campaign manual to “be wicked, act shamelessly, stir endlessly“.

So in conclusion, I shouldn’t have told Mr Valladeres to “Bog Off” or called him patronising. I shouldn’t let their sneering attitude, or snide reference to long past events, get to me. After all, having campaigned hard for Brexit, and seen the Lib Dem Remain Fanatics lose 375 deposits in the latest General Election, I should console myself with the knowledge that at least the rest of the country sees them for what they are – shameless, wicked, malicious, nasty, and losers.

 

May should quit. NOW.

Theresa must go. That is the conclusion I’ve come to after a weekend of her feeble defence, and a careful consideration of the errors made by the Conservative Party that have led us to here.

It is no secret that I didn’t think she was up to being Prime Minister when she was effectively crowned thus in the Tory leadership election last year, after David Cameron cut and run. Far from an “Anyone but Boris” campaign, I’d have backed anyone but Theresa. Her endless thirst for the role had led her to make poor policy decisions as Home Secretary, and her antipathy towards Human Rights, which should have excluded her from the role, was aimed at keeping the right wing of the party on side; she was, after all, Party Chairman under Iain Duncan Smith, when the Tory Party was at its most toxic.

Theresa’s very visible flaws have become glaringly obvious now she has called an election she didn’t need to, campaigned appallingly badly, and then effectively enhanced a proto-Communist, terrorist appeasing, Iranian and Russian supporting neophyte in Jeremy Corbyn as Opposition Leader.

Worse, she has retoxified the Tory Party, by hitching the majority wagon to the vagaries of the Democratic Unionists, a party of Christian fundamentalists whose beliefs are more in line with the US Republican Party, not a modern democratic right wing party. Trump would not seem to be bonkers in comparison to some of the DUP. Even their relatively presentable Westminster Leader, Nigel Dodds, was criticised for appearing on a platform following the sectarian murder of two terrorists.

There are a number of charges against Theresa May, which will be vexing Tory MPs as they return to Westminster. Firstly, and most heinously, she has presided over a reduction in the number of Tory MPs. David Cameron bequeathed her a Tory Party with 331 MPs, and she now has just 318 MPs. Losing a majority should be enough for her position to become flaky.

Secondly, the campaign itself was the worst in living memory. To be charitable, not all of this will be Theresa May’s fault; but how she takes advice and how she makes decisions is critical to this.

It would appear that nobody was “in charge” of the election campaign. Lynton Crosby was an advisor, as were Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy, her recently sacked joint Chiefs of Staff. No doubt Patrick McLoughlin will have had an input as party Chairman. Clearly former Cabinet Office Minister and former Ipswich MP Ben Gummer will have been involved at some level, as he helped write the manifesto. You cannot run an election by committee, and you need one person in charge. In 2010 and 2015 that person was Lynton Crosby. It was only once he was promoted from “advisor” to boss that the ship stabilised, otherwise we could be looking at Prime Minister Corbyn today.

The decision to call a General Election was not, in itself, a terribly bad idea. At 47% in the polls, with Labour struggling on 29%, it seemed obvious that Mrs May would increase her majority, allowing her more freedom to manoeuvre over the Brexit talks; she wouldn’t have been reliant on a relatively small faction of Tory MPs not breaking ranks in one direction or the other. But to suggest, as she did, that it wasn’t called for entirely party political reasons was ridiculous and was rightly scoffed at by the public, who mostly shared the view of Brenda from Bristol – not another one!

But having called an unnecessary General Election, you have to make sure you bloody well win it. Yes, it’s great to have ambitious targets for taking seats in the North East and North West. And she certainly increased Tory support in swathes of seats. Had she not had such a bloody dreadful campaign, she’d likely have won dozens of new seats.

There is a rule about elections and the economy. Two years ago, the refrain “Long Term Economic Plan” was as unerringly uttered by Tory candidates as “Strong and Stable” was this time. This time, despite the promises of the Labour Shadow Chancellor to turn our economy into the “economic miracle that is Venezuela”, we barely heard anything about the economy.

This is because in the rush to call the election, Mrs May had forgotten to draft a manifesto, and so when the manifesto was rushed out, it didn’t include any costings. So, despite the IFS damning the Labour manifesto as unworkable, they also said that the Tories were not being honest with the voters. This made the economy almost impossible to campaign on.

Instead the Tories were left with a Presidential style election, which this country never really likes, promoting an uncosted manifesto and hoping that the attacks on Jeremy Corbyn for his support for terrorists (IRA, Hamas, Hezbollah) and his views on shoot to kill and nuclear power would sway the country their way.

The problem for the Tories was that the Corbyn record on terror is so bad, it was dismissed by voters as made up. Nobody seems capable of believing that a British MP, that nice kind looking gentleman, would back the IRA.

Even when those who brought about the peace process, like Seamus Mallon and Ken Maginnis said he wasn’t involved, nobody believed it. They believed him when he said he fought for peace, despite Seamus Mallon, deputy to John Hume, the former Social Democratic and Labour Party leader and the architect of the peace process, telling The Sunday Times: “I never heard anyone mention Corbyn at all.

“He very clearly took the side of the IRA and that was incompatible, in my opinion, with working for peace.”

Lord Maginnis, the former Ulster Unionist MP, said: “I was central to the peace process and Corbyn had no participation in it that I was aware of.”

So, faced with an electorate who didn’t believe their claims about their opponent, a Leader who was about as wooden as the Trojan horse, and an election campaign that couldn’t mention the economy, the Tory campaign drowned. Rather than increasing the Tory majority won by hard graft in 2015, Theresa May’s hubris lost the Tories a majority and left her reliant on the DUP to cling to power.

All of this was avoidable. When Amber Rudd’s father sadly passed away, 48 hours before the Cambridge debate among party leaders, Theresa May could have stopped the bleeding and swung the country back to her. She could have appeared on that stage, won the debate, explained her points, and returned to Downing Street victorious. Except… her failings were that she was a wooden performer – even junior campaign staff called her the Maybot – and she is incapable of emoting.

It has been suggested to me in recent days that women in power are always considered to be witches, and are given a harder time than men in similar positions, especially when they don’t show their softer side. It is true that people expected more emotion from a female leader, but I don’t think they were any easier on Gordon Brown, whose social afflictions were such that he did all he could to avoid emoting.

I think that the campaign was basically sunk by two things; a Labour strategic masterstroke, in offering a £27,000 bribe to young voters, and Theresa May’s appalling character flaws, that make her unfit to be a Party Leader in the 21st Century.

It is time for her to make way for a leader more at ease with themselves and with their Conservative values. Whether that is Boris (please no) or David Davis, or Nicky Morgan, or Liam Fox, or any of the other likely runners and riders, it should absolutely not be Theresa May.

Copeland reaction reveals Labour in cloud cuckoo land

“The decline in Labour support in these areas did not start when Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour leader; it started when a New Labour project took hold of our party and decided to ignore working class communities across the country. The fragility of Labour’s core vote in Scotland and the North was an issue long before Corbyn arrived as an easy scapegoat for the existential crisis that we face as a party. It would also be wrong to deny the impact of a concerted effort by members of the Parliamentary Labour Party to undermine Jeremy Corbyn since the day he was elected. Indeed Peter Mandelson proudly admitted recently that he works ‘every day to undermine Jeremy Corbyn’.”

That’s Liam Young writing in the Independent. He’s right, of course, the fragility in Labour’s support among the working classes was started under the middle class privately educated Oxford graduate, Blair, and continued under the middle class Edinburgh graduate Brown. It got worse under the middle class Oxford graduate Miliband, and the entire POINT of Corbyn was that he would appeal to the masses, supposedly. Quite how a middle class, privately educated professional objector and demonstrator was supposed to be the “champion of the workers” has always mystified me, and instead he has continued to allow the Labour support to decline to just those foolish enough to believe in policies that the majority of the public – 74% at the latest polling – do not support. You cannot win a general election when 3 in 4 people believe you to be wrong.

Ludicrously, Ian Lavery maintains today that Jeremy Corbyn is the most popular politician in the country.

These people need to wake up to reality, because while they are arguing over whether someone who left professional politics 10 years ago is still relevant now, the Tories are getting on with winning by-elections and running the country. And Labour’s positions, bonkers as they may be considered by most, are entirely irrelevant when they are not seen as a credible threat by the Government.

Ipswich marches against Trump

I’ve just been on my first protest in 23 years, to protest against the travel ban imposed by Executive Order under President Donald J. Trump.
 
The travel ban imposed against seven countries is not exactly a ban on Muslims; although these are Muslim majority countries, the ban does not include Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Dubai or Lebanon.
 
However, it is intended to ban Muslims from the countries on the list; those from minority religions are specifically excluded.
 
In practice, the ban has been much more severe than was legally allowable even under the draconian Executive Order. This was, no doubt, because Department of Homeland Security (DHS) staff were told how to interpret it by the National Security Council (NSC). The NSC that now includes White Supremacist Steve Bannon, but no longer includes the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or the Director of National Intelligence. People you might think have an input on, well, National Security.
 
In practice the ban has led to children being handcuffed, babies being left unfed as mothers were put in cells, at least one death as a woman who needed urgent surgery was turned back at the airport, and several tens of thousands of unfair, unnecessary and unAmerican actions against refugees and even those with leave to remain in the United States (Green Card Holders).
 
The ban does not apply to joint UK Passport Holders, so as a UK Passport Holder it could not apply to me, even if I had been born in one of the relevant countries. So why did I protest today?
 
Well first of all, the Rule of Law is important to me. The imposition of this Executive Order breaks the US Constitution (the Equal Protection clause) and is fundamentally against a number of treaties signed by previous US Presidents and ratified by Congress. In its intent, in its drafting and in its practice, this Executive Order is unconstitutional and illegal, which is why a stay was issued by the Federal Court in Washington State. No doubt the Department of Justice (about to become an oxymoron under AG Sessions) will appeal to the Ninth Circuit, although if they lose there they might want to reconsider before sending it to the Supreme Court of the United States, since they will almost certainly throw it out and that could make life harder for this administration. We can only hope.
 
Secondly, I want to be able to look future generations in the eye and tell them that when this awful man with tiny hands tried to turn the Republic into an Empire, I was one of millions who stood up and said no.
 
Thirdly, I wanted to stand in solidarity with the millions of honest Americans who have been appalled at what this monster is doing to their country in just two weeks. In towns and cities across America, people are standing up and saying no. They need to know that the world stands with them.
 
So my answer to the question “why were you marching” has got to be why weren’t you!

Brexit needs democratic legitimacy of Commons vote

Sir Humphrey Appleby once intoned to Jim Hacker, “Minister, if you’re going to do this damn silly thing, don’t do it in this damn silly way.”

This particular phrase has stuck in my mind several times since Theresa May took over as Prime Minister with an insistence that her entire plan for leaving the EU was that Brexit means Brexit.

I voted to Leave the European Union, and one of the many reasons I voted to leave was because I wanted more power in the hands of the House of Commons and British Parliamentarians. The official slogan of the official vote leave campaign was “Take Back Control”.

Mrs May wasn’t on the Brexit side, and there was considerable disquiet from Brexit voters that the new Prime Minister was a Remainer. It has left her with little legitimacy from either Brexit or Remain voters, and therefore with little leeway in implementing policy.

Prominent Leave campaigner Peter Bone MP today put forward a Private Members Bill to enable a notification under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. Such a notification is a formality that is required before we start to negotiate on the terms of our exit.

Yet the notification has not been made – and some Brexiteers fear it will never be made. This is in part because of the legal disagreement between the Government and the Judiciary over the right of the Royal Prerogative to make the notification.

Frankly the Government has gone down the wrong path and it ought to recognise that.

By insisting that the Prime Minister has the ability to make a notification under Article 50, and that it doesn’t require an Act of Parliament, the Government has set off a chain of events that were entirely unnecessary.

This insistence has further enraged Brexit voters and made them feel genuine concern that the establishment is trying to frustrate the will of the British people.

It has emboldened Remain voters who believe that they are right to try and frustrate the will of the British people.

It has sparked the resignation of a Member of Parliament, Stephen Phillips QC, from the Government’s own side, who called the moves a “tyranny” and said the Government was acting in a way that was “fundamentally undemocratic, unconstitutional and cuts across the rights and privileges of the legislature.”

It has lost a case in the High Court of England and Wales and looks about to lose in the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.

Rather than continuing to avoid democratic institutions in a kamikaze attempt to avoid gifting further democratic legitimacy to the notification of Article 50, the Government should abandon the appeal to the Supreme Court, which many legal observers believe it is doomed to lose, and instead put its weight behind Peter Bone’s Private Members Bill, a move which would also give him the honour of sponsoring the Act of Parliament that finally begins our exit from the oppression of the European Union.

The only way to heal the deep divisions caused by Brexit is by ensuring democratic oversight of the entire process, and by winning a vote in the House of Commons to give expression to the will of the British people.

In other words, if the Government is going to do this very sensible thing, it should ensure it does it in a very sensible way…

Why are the Left so insistent on moral relativism when considering the legacy of Fidel Castro?

The outpouring of sentiment about Fidel Castro from the political Left in the UK and around the world has been much criticised, as it has often either failed to mention his horrific human rights abuses, or sought to minimise them.

Realising how open to ridicule this position has become, as the hashtag TrudeauEulogies trended on Twitter in honour of the statement of Justin Trudeau, many on the Left instead made the comparison between the eulogies for King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and the condemnation of Fidel Castro.

So we can ignore Castro’s murder of his own citizens in his zeal to cling to power, simply because there are other evil people with whom we are allied?

I didn’t hear the Left ignoring the crimes of Augustin Pinochet simply because he happened to bring economic improvements to Chile. Why should the Right ignore the hypocrisy of the Left simply to avoid shining a torch on its own hypocrisy.

The Left does like to virtue signal, to suggest that it has a greater observance of Human Rights than the Right does. To suggest that it is more committed to Social Justice than the Right is. To suggest that it is more Moral.

The most brutal murderers of the 20th Century – Josef Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, Ho Chi Minh, Pol Pot – were all of the Left. They were all held up at one time or other as examples to be followed by those on the Left.

Brutality exists on both the Extreme Right and the Extreme Left. Though there are more examples of extremism on the Left.

As it happens, I know the regime in Saudi Arabia is an abomination, which most Tories I know believe is doomed to be overthrown – though that revolution is something we should all fear, given what will no doubt replace it. There were a number of articles in the Right wing press when King Abdullah died suggesting that it was high time for a reassessment of our relationship with the Kingdom.

Unfortunately, because of the presence of oil, and because of their adherence to the Wahaabist death cult, we need a good relationship with the Government of Saudi Arabia. They are a critical partner in our foreign policy strategy; they are vital to our security apparatus; and they have the very real ability to cripple our economy by turning off the pumps.

That doesn’t mean that we can ignore the human rights abuses – indeed it may be that by being close partners, we are better placed to influence the Kingdom in private than those who forever scream from the outside. It was, for instance, that close relationship with the Republic of South Africa that led directly to F W de Klerk realising that apartheid must not and could not continue, as Nelson Mandela himself acknowledged. It was that close relationship that allowed Margaret Thatcher to persuade the South Africans to release Mr Mandela from jail.

I find it interesting that those who put forward the idea that we shouldn’t insist that Castro’s faults are considered as part of his legacy suggest that this is because others are worse. To suggest that we cannot consider Mr Castro’s barbarism because others are also barbarous is, to my mind, a rather elastic view of the world.

Farage has no place as a British Diplomat

Following his bizarre pilgrimage to New York for a photo opportunity in a gold plated lift with the latest abomination on the world stage, Nigel Farage is now demanding to be appointed to some official Government role to negotiate with the United States.

Mr Farage is the temporary leader of the UK Independence Party, having resigned after the Referendum and sworn he was done with politics because he wanted his life back.

Five months later he is swooning at the sight of a racist misogynist moron being elected to one of the most powerful positions in the world. The meeting with Donald Trump was weird from the point of view of Mr Farage, but another huge blunder from the out-of-his-depth President-elect.

[This article isn’t about Mr Trump, but one does rather get the impression that he wasn’t really sure what the President does until his 90-minute meeting with Obama, and is now terrified as he realises how out of his depth he is.]

Mr Farage, meanwhile, demands that Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, appoints him to an official Government role to take advantage of his relationship with Mr Trump. I’m not sure what is more of a shock – that he has the chutzpah to suggest such a thing, or that Tory MPs as respected as Sir Gerald Howarth would think that it was a good idea.

Mr Farage is the temporary leader of the UK Independence Party. This is another political party, not a fringe of the Tories, no matter how much the left likes to suggest otherwise. UKIP candidates stand in elections, take votes that could otherwise go to Tory candidates, possible cost the Tories an overall majority in 2010, and certainly hold Council seats that were once Tory – Suffolk County Council would not be a hung council were it not for UKIP.

To suggest that a majority Tory government would appoint someone from another political party to such a vital relationship is bizarre enough, but what exactly does Mr Farage claim qualifies him to do the role? A political career spent sitting on various EU gravy trains while railing against the very organisation whose cash he is busy trousering?

The best person to lead the British Government’s relationship with the US Government is a professional diplomat, namely the British Ambassador to the United States, Sir Kim Darroch. At a Governmental level it will be led by Theresa May, and Boris Johnson will negotiate with whoever Trump picks as Secretary of State, be it Newt Gingrich, Chris Christie or Sen Bob Corker.

Nigel Farage has nothing to offer the British Government; his time is past, his links to the vile racist elements of the Brexit campaign harmed that campaign and while they may endear him to the “Senior Counsellor to the President” Stephen Bannon – a racist white supremacist – they exclude him from ever having a role in any British Government post.

He should shut up and return to the obscurity he claims (from in front of the nearest TV camera) to crave.