‘A thousand dreams that would awake me,
Different colors made of tears…’ 1

 

After Little Jo (Swinson) gave it away, the Tsar gave it right back! The Brexit Alliance is still born.

After making his usual TV evangelist style entrance, Nigel Farage who portrays himself as the last honest politician in England, the John Bull of his generation, announced he will not make an eighth attempt to become an MP in December’s general election.

At the launch of his party’s election campaign, Farage urged the Tsar to drop his Brexit deal, which he claimed was ‘not Brexit’ and would hamper the UK’s opportunities to strike free-trade deals.

‘pro-Remain campaign group Best for Britain estimates that a ‘leave alliance’ could have delivered Johnson a comfortable majority’

He then proffered the golden ticket, my worst nightmare, the ‘leave alliance’; his party was prepared to stand aside in some seats in exchange for the Conservatives giving the Brexit party a shot at up to 150 Labour-held constituencies in the Midlands and north that it believes it can win.

Farage said: ‘I’ve wanted for months for there to be a leave alliance. It seems obvious to me that no one party can own Brexit voters – there are Tory Brexit voters, there are Brexit party Brexit voters and a lot of Labour Brexit voters.

‘I always thought that to win an election, get a big majority so we can get a proper Brexit, a coming-together would be the objective. I still hope and pray it happens, but it doesn’t look like it will.’

To my surprise and delight the Tsar said No, seemingly confident that he can carry the day alone, and succeed in the Brexit party’s targeted seats The Tsar also warned that a vote for any other party than his risks putting Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street.

In the cold light of reality, the Tsar cannot agree to destroy his own settlement, however he may have kissed goodbye to his best chances of winning a majority as pro-Remain campaign group Best for Britain estimates that a ‘leave alliance’ could have delivered Johnson a comfortable majority.

 

‘You may think that I’m out of hand
That I’m naive, I’ll understand..’ 2

 

Now the Tsar faces a lover scorned, with Farage thrashing around declaiming his deal as ‘Not Brexit.’ Farage’s core support has stayed loyal, as is often the case with populist politicians.

Political scientists define supporters such as his as ‘low-trust’ voters, who believe nothing they hear on the news. The same people then seem willing to believe any words that leave the mouth of their chosen one, as was the case with the Leave campaign in 2016.

The common theme with their supporters is not class but age and education: 70% of Leave voters attained only GCSE or lower, and 64% of over-65s voted to leave.

Can this election become about anything other than Brexit? Unfortunately, No

‘Can this election become about anything other than Brexit? Unfortunately, No’

For many of the 17.4 million people that voted Leave in 2016 Brexit has become the be all and end all, and any politician failing to deliver ‘their’ Brexit has let them down, issues such as the NHS, austerity, falling living standards, will be solved when we leave and immigration ceases.

Given this utopian dream, let us consider the NHS which, as is the norm, is now preparing for its usual winter crisis. The government is so concerned that is reported to be taking emergency action.

Of course, this has nothing to do with fears that a winter pressures in the NHS could derail the Tory party’s general election campaign.

There are reports that the government is planning to set up its own NHS ‘operations unit’ to deal with the lack of capacity and increasing waits for patients at A&E departments and on hospital trolleys. Priti Patel on bed-pan duties, perhaps? That would deliver law & order in the sluice room!

‘Priti Patel on bed-pan duties, perhaps?’

Mercifully, the BMA haven’t been fooled by the government’s cynical timing, saying it should not take a general election to prompt the government to act, warning that the NHS was now in a ‘perpetual state of crisis’.

Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents hospital trusts in England, said: ‘The level of concern we’re hearing from frontline leaders about performance this winter is the highest we have known. The NHS is going into winter in a much worse position than at any time in recent memory.

‘We are short of capacity across the board – in mental health, ambulance and community services as well as hospital beds. And there has been another 12 months where social care and GP capacity has lagged well behind the growth in demand.

‘The NHS has over 100,000 vacancies, so there was no respite over the summer and staff are now exhausted. On top of all this, we are losing serious amounts of vital senior clinical and leadership time because of current NHS pensions problems.’

‘Brexit won’t save the NHS it will only serve to finish it’

And that’s the key, 100,000 vacancies, and these will be nurses, cleaners, junior doctors, etc. Anyone who has a visited a hospital recently will know that they largely kept functioning by immigrant workers; Brexit won’t save the NHS it will only serve to finish it.

Presumably, all the 64% of over-65s who voted Leave go private? If not, they had best start selling the family silver.

And, an election wouldn’t be an election with gaffes, foot-in-mouth moments, some funny, some just thoughtless, others, well, you decide…

The Grenfell fire was one of the worst UK tragedies in recent years, therefore when Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the House of Commons told a radio interviewer: ‘I think if either of us were in a fire, whatever the fire brigade said, we would leave the burning building. It just seems the common sense thing to do,’ it was only going to cause maximum offence, however it was intended.

His attempted apology fell on deaf ears, Karim Mussilhy, whose uncle Hesham Rehman, 57, died in the fire, said Rees-Mogg was an ‘idiot’ whose remarks revealed the detachment of the government from the Grenfell community. ‘The apology is too late,’ he told the Guardian. ‘Sorry means nothing. It’s such an easy word to say. Your action means something but we have had words and no action;’ Quite.

‘‘I wouldn’t have died because I would have been cleverer than the people who took the fire brigade’s advice”

Now, speaking of common sense, it might have been best to have left it there, like any news story it has a limited shelf-life, but oh no, the Tories own Mr Common Sense, Andrew Bridgen, compounded peoples anger during an exchange with the BBC Radio 4 PM presenter, Evan Davis, in which he appeared to suggest Rees-Mogg was ‘cleverer’ than those who died.

Asked whether Rees-Mogg meant to say he would have left the flats that night against official advice, Bridgen said: ‘That’s what he meant to say.’

Davis responded: ‘But in a way that is exactly what people object to, which is he is, in effect, saying: ‘I wouldn’t have died because I would have been cleverer than the people who took the fire brigade’s advice.’’

Following a long pause, one where you actually hear the cogs going around, Bridgen trod where no one else would have dared, replying with the wonderful: ‘But we want very clever people running the country, don’t we Evan? That’s a byproduct of what Jacob is and that’s why he is in a position of authority.’

And there, in two-simple sentences we have it; the Tories are cleverer than us, they know more, born to lead while the masses doff their caps, it’s as if time has stood still, it’s 1912, and Rupert Brooke finished his wonderful verse, The Old Vicarage, Grantchester, with these immortal words; ‘And is there honey still for tea?

Or, perhaps, what the Tories really think of us, the great unwashed, might be better summarised this way….

 

‘I think it’s ’bout time you changed your brain
You’re just a pile of shit, you’re coming to this..’ 3

 

Apart from terrible song lyrics this column wouldn’t be true to itself without commenting on what the election outcome might be.

Will the excitement generated by the Tsar becoming leader refresh what now looks to be a tired 9-year old government? Can a cartoon-like, strangely charismatic leader, offering an end to austerity, populist attacks on liberals and the nationalist adventure of Brexit provide the much-needed oxygen?

Polls suggest that he can; currently the Tories are predicted to poll around 35% which, according to the analytical website Electoral Calculus, would give the Tsar a majority of about 70. If this was to happen, then with only a little over a third of the total vote, this would produce one of the most electorally unpopular governments ever.

 

What are the alternatives:

 

Labour, whatever their manifesto says, whatever stance they take on Brexit, they are handicapped by having such an unpopular leader. Only 6-weeks ago a survey by Ipsos MORI for the Evening Standard gave the Labour leader a net satisfaction rating of -60, with just 16% of voters pleased with him and 76% unhappy.

The Lib-Dems; whatever Little Jo thinks they aint gonna win. 50-60 seats would be a huge success for them, maybe even leaving them holding the balance of power. Alternatively, the policy of revoking Article 50 without a referendum does rather alienate 17.4 million voters.

The Brexit Party; Six-week of Farage campaigning endlessly fills me with horror! His claim that the Tsar’s deal is not a clean enough break is terrifying, showing that his party has nowhere to go other than No Deal. His target audience, groomed by Tory radicals, who feel betrayed by anything that postpones the gratifying moment of leaving the EU, could prove a disruptive influence on the Tsars campaign and hopes for a majority.

 

So, where does the leave us?

 

Everywhere you look people are changing sides and undecided. In parliament the party machine enforced by the whips broke down; Theresa May lost 33 votes in the Commons, the Tsar a mere 12, to date.

36 government ministers resigned from May’s administration, including the Tsar, who has already lost 2. An unprecedented 89 MPs left their parties, voluntarily or ejected, the Tsar purged 21 of his moderate MPs, including distinguished ex-chancellors and brightest sparks.

‘Nothing will happen or be said in the next 6-weeks to unite a country so divided by Brexit’

And Parliament’s deadlock and indecision is mirrored amongst the electorate. The country is hopelessly divided, undecided as to whether we defy the referendum, revoke it or carry it out.

Any government with only minority support, e.g. the 35% quoted above, provides no solution. Remember it was Cameron’s 2015 government, elected by just 36% of the people, that led to the referendum in the first place.

Brexit has endorsed and become the standard bearer for electoral reform.

As an example of the failings of the current electoral system, YouGov reports that 37% will reject the two main parties, and risk ‘wasting’ their votes. Don’t forget that a Tory majority of 70 only requires 35% of the vote, i.e. more votes will be worthless than those needed to ‘win’.

There are 3-choices, the Tsar, Corbyn or Little Jo. Whilst the Tory press begs voters to shun Farage’s party or lose Brexit, Remainers need one in three of the electorate to vote tactically, so Corbyn-detesting Liberal Democrats must vote Labour, and passionate Corbynistas must vote Lib Dem in winnable seats.

 

The last election throws up some stunning statistics:

 

  • 68% of votes cast were wasted,
  • The Tories got 34% of the north-east vote, but only 9% of the seats,
  • Labour, in the south-east, received 29% vote but gained only 10% of seats.

 

You may now be wondering where the prediction is, well, it’s a hung parliament. Nothing will happen or be said in the next 6-weeks to unite a country so divided by Brexit.

What next, it’s a second referendum, have you no common sense?!

 

‘As for me, well, I’ll find someone Who’s not goin’ cheap in the sales,
A nice little housewife, who’ll give me a steady life, And not keep going off the rails,’ 4

 

OK lyric spotters a double double treat this week, with a bit of a twist; one can only speculate whether Philip has been influenced by all the chicanery that’s about, but this week he has been very definite about where points should be awarded. I can only speak from a personal perspective, but I suspect that I will not be the only ‘less abled’ player out there who thought he was home and hosed only to find that there were slim pickings for getting the easier ones right.

But, as we’ve said, every question is hard if you don’t know the answer – so crack on and all entries to be delivered to the usual address, remembering please that the Mitcham Rule is applied to all duplicate entries.

So, first out of the blocks 1 is what the author describes as ‘perhaps the greatest love song ever’; I don’t think any of those words would have made my description although ‘disturbing’ might have – three very well deserved points if you arrived at the Velvet Underground with ‘Venus in Furs’. I wouldn’t recommend slipping this on the next time you’re stuffing tarts with the vicar.

Next, and another challenging three pointer 2, although you might kick yourself when ‘Regret’ by New Order chimes up; then things got slightly easier closer to home  3 first soak up the anger to get to the group and then mentally leaf through the relatively modest discography to get to the Sex Pistols and ‘New York’ – for just a singleton.

Last, but no means least 4, those with a penchant for a non-stop erotic cabaret should have no problems in bagging two points for the ‘funny lyrics and underrated genius’ of Soft Cell and ‘Say Hello, Wave Goodbye’. Enjoy!

 

 

Philip Gilbert 2Philip Gilbert is a city-based corporate financier, and former investment banker.

Philip is a great believer in meritocracy, and in the belief that if you want something enough you can make it happen. These beliefs were formed in his formative years, of the late 1970s and 80s

 

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