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A barrage of Farage

‘It’s the fault of the Meedja.’  was the cry from our erudite and (apparently) miffed First Minister Alex Salmond.

Maybe, for once he has a point.  But then again trying to use UKIP threat to get support gave UKIP more coverage courtesy of the SNP.

I think that the coverage of UKIP on the Beeb has been excessive but how much this has led to votes isn’t really demonstrable.  Irritating?  Yes.  Unfair? we all (political parties) think that the Media are biassed against us at times.  However, they did get a fair old chunk of the vote and as such are deserving of some coverage.

For me the interviewing skills on most channels are pretty poor and the print media are generally not much better these days (everything was better in black and white….cue the hovis theme).

I saw a great tweet the other day Beeb : ‘Farage, farage, farage, farage, farage.’  Beeb : Shock lead in the polls for UKIP.

‘UKIP are the party of Racists, Xenophobes, sexists, Mysoginists and Homophobes.  And that’s their good points.’  This tack has been used to discredit the ‘swivel-eyed loons’ and to slay the UKIP beast.  Newsflash!  It doesn’t work.

The Electorate voted for UKIP in varying numbers across the country.  These are the same voters that when they vote for your party are respected and when they vote UKIP are nutters.  Anyone else uncomfortable with this line of thinking?  I am.

There is a simple three step plan to defeat the UKIP (or any of the other far right mob that pollute ballot papers – No2EU, BNP, Britain first)

Step 1

Engage the electorate (turnout and apathy are major issues)

Step 2

Demolish their (UKIP) argument

(not just sloganeering but solid analysis and facts.  You know those pesky things that trip people up)

Step 3

Offer electorate a solution to the issue.

Thats it.  Simple isn’t it?

So the mainstream parties have only themselves to blame on the UKIP success story.  No one else.  A self inflicted 20 year cock up.  If voters are not engaged and given facts and treated with respect they will invariably end up at the (political) door that feeds on their problem.

We have (all parties) refused to discuss immigration or Europe and have left a vacuum for the vacuous UKIP to fill.  That needs to change in a grown up way.  Not in a we can out UKIP,UKIP kind of way.  You can’t out UKIP them, so don’t try.  Their policies are toxic and need real solutions not easy slogans with nothing but blame behind them.

IF the solution is difficult say so.  But say so clearly.

Remember the old adage ‘Never argue with an idiot.  He will bring you down to his level and then beat you with experience.’  Nick Clegg found that out to his cost in the television debates.  Free publicity for the UKIP leader, free credibility too.  The party of IN got found out.

If ex-banker, Nigel Farage is the answer then god knows what the question was.

I would suggest that UKIP isn’t an answer ( to anything) but a symptom that has been too long ignored at our peril.


Grexit? what about the PICS?

Grexit – Greece exit of the Euro

PICS – Portugal, Ireland, Cyprus and Spain.

Lets face it, the Eurozone is in a chaotic mess.

Angela Merkel is getting it in the neck at home of the continual and almost open-ended support she is committing the German taxpayer to.  The cost of the bailouts, rescue packages, transitional stability funds and the many other ways in which the Germans are putting their hand in their pockets is costing Frau Merkel a huge amount of political capital.  Not to mention the IMF contributions (at least usually that money makes its way back eventually).

I was reading an article in the economist whilst on holiday about the options for the German chancellor and it set me thinking about the problems that the ‘keep Greece in at all costs’ was causing.  The impossibility of leaving the Euro or being kicked out has been built-in with the treaties that put the Euro in place.  This itself is the political straightjacket that is impeding a solution.

The disorderly collapse of the Euro would be a massive disaster for all of the world economies and that is why a long, hard look at the Euro needs to be taken.

Why isn’t it working?

The eurozone is composed of 17 countries whose economies are not the same.  Some are strong industrial economies and some are agrarian, some are mature and developed and some are developing.  The EU (all 27) generates a stable market place to facilitate trade and allow free movement of labour and capital (2 mobile factors of production).  The single market allows each nation to maximise their comparative advantages and grow their economies while trading in a conducive environment.

The Eurozone as a subset is a problem.  The richer northern european industrial economies are benefitting at the expense of the less competitive economies of the south.  But this has been a slow building problem which has come to a head as the Global financial crisis continues to remain unresolved effectively.  The sticking plasters are not going to cut it.

Spain et al, are hurting and the medicine is only going to kill the patient.

If the Eurozone expel or allow Greece (and others) to exit then the fallout will be horrendous as capital flight becomes a tsunami as investors run before any devaluation of their assets can take place.  Any notion of a secret, planned introduction of a new currency that could occur over a weekend are utter fantasy.

Austerity isn’t going to help any of the weakest economies because they cannot regain any competitiveness while domestic demand is collapsing due to falling living standards and spiralling unemployment.  There are only so many reductions in costs that can be achieved.

So, we can’t keep pumping in bailout money, we can’t allow Greece to run for it and escape its debts (or the rest will leg it too, if Greece doesn’t have to pay why would others?), we don’t fancy the cost of exits or collapses (the numbers are getting into trillions).  Basically the political project, the Euro, is Fecked (well it is if there is no fiscal convergence)

Or is it?

What if  a different monetary union was set up for the southern economies?  After all, in the EU we have another distinct currency union that is working effectively with similar economies, I am talking about the Sterling zone.

Would a southern Euro work better than a chaotic mess of Euro failed countries with weak currencies?  The benefits are there for all to see.  They are similar economies who traditionally trade with each other anyway.  They are all struggling to cope with competitiveness with more efficient Eurozone economies.  It would stem the flow of northern european imports to these economies and stimulate domestic demand (as the imported goods would be more expensive).  It would generate some flexibility to stimulate the smaller groups economies.

In short an Exit of a chunk that could be controlled and managed without killing the patients.

At the moment we are facing the disorderly exit / expulsion of  Greece and the PICS or a semi-permanent transfer of cash to prop them up indefinitely.

So better to plan now and act sooner rather than later.

Think of it not as expulsion or exit but relegation from the Premier League to the championship ( and the Eurozone can make some parachute payments in the meantime.)

It’ll hurt like hell but it might be the way forward.


So many cock ups over so little time

I get blur.  It’s my age, or so my wife tells me.

I know there have been a few foul ups this year under the coalition but I have sorta lost track.

The big ones seem to loom large but its the little ones that have fallen off my radar.

We’ve had a busy year, snow, royal weddings, economic stagnation, cuts, strikes, scandals, resignations, enquiries, riots, occupations and Levenson.  And a few U-turns along the way.

I know there are only 12 months in a year and running a government is like herding cats but it appears this coalition government – elected on competence and national interest – are making a total horlicks of it.

My personal highlights are on the #hackgate front and the NOTW closure, resignation of not-quite-competent policemen and Coulson getting evicted from the big brother house.

Levenson and the Culture Media and sport committee have held them to account and shown the web of lies and deceit that has been cast by the players in this fiasco.  Where will it end?  With Dave having to come to the house and say ‘I mislead the house.’  Didn’t ask, second chance narrative looking like a pair of lead boots for the PM.

If this was his only cock up then maybe he’d be alright.  There have been a catalogue of mishandling by this manky mob.  Even the safe pairs of hands have been poor, here’s a list

Ken Clarke (whom I like) – There are different levels of rape- oops, mini storm but bruised.  That and the cuts to Legal aid.

Safe pair of shoes Theresa May – Border Agency fiasco, Brodie Clark credible – his boss and Home Sec lacking credibility.  Riots, early recall of parliament to address riots.  Out of her depth.

Andy Pandy Landsley – NHS bill, utter mess.  Stop (pause), consult (ignore), resell (no change).  NHS open season and GP consortia not willing or ready.

Pob (Gove) – Education reforms and redirecting funds to free schools, anyone can teach cos teachers are crap narrative. failing schools proven to be few so freewheeling schools invented for targeting.  Lists and numbers seemed to be a problem early on.

Gidders – Economy is a fucking mess.  Sorry but it is.  Rebalanced to an export led economy.  Selling to whom exactly? No idea?  Neither has he.  The list for Gideon is a long one. hurting not working.  The two things he has choked are Growth in the economy and his chicken. (apologies)  as for operation Merlin (best not go there).

Nick Clegg – AV – err no, Tuition fees (volte face), VAT hike (oops), Housing benefit savaging  (not our fault).  Out of the loop Tory in yellow.

Vince Cable – National Treasure to dr snuggles, off message, off target and off the boil.  Not his finest year.

Dr Foxy- Loxy.  does the name Adam Werrity ring any bells.  Best man jetting around with Dr Fox as an ‘Advisor’.  Lets not look at the Atlantic Bridge or the other one, you know charities that Mr Werrity worked for.  Enronesque.

Mr Huhne – wants wind turbines everywhere because?  its obvious isn’t it?  Well maybe, but Mrs Clegg as a director of a wind Turbine firm will have had nothing to do with it then.  That and speeding tickets.  Oh yeah and the just switch to keep fuel bills down.  Taxi for Huhne.

Caroline Spelman, – Forest sell off to tory pals.  ‘Sorry we got it wrong’ – No shit sherlock.

Francis Maude, binning constituents letters in the park and suggesting a 15min token strike.  cloud cuckoo land.

The PM – sitting all on his puff at the EU treaty conference.  Little boy lost.  Totally out manoeuvered by the Sarkozy/merkel team.  When the poles and Belgians aren’t talking to us it is a disaster of diplomacy.  This treaty should have been headed off at the pass by talking not sniping.  The clues were there.

PM is so woman friendly they have to sit three women behind him at every PMQ’s because of his disasters early in the year.  Flashman, Bullingdon fop, smug, arrogant, complacent, out of touch all have been used to describe the PM.  All of them fairly.

Eurosceptics pushing him about, he is weak and like Captain hook he breaks out in a cold sweat as the ticking of the Coulson time bomb gets closer.

So 2011 wasn’t a great year  for the coalition.  A ship of fools.

So Why aren’t we miles ahead?  God only knows.