View from the Margin

Politics from a 'Marginal' Perspective

They say a week is a long time in politics – so taking a few weeks off to head to France just as the Tory Leadership race was coming to a close was a always going to be difficult to keep up with.

Social Media Break

Having chosen a self imposed social media blackout I remained silent for a couple of weeks. It turns out this was far more painful than I imagined. Whilst I didn’t post I was of course keeping up to date with news from No10 and then the Cabinet reshuffle that followed. Obviously it was more of a massacre than a reshuffle. We have gone to a full ERG Brexit government, despite the fact that 48% of us don’t want Brexit!. Many of you may have got used to Johnson in No10 but I still find it impossible to watch and not weep.

So where do we go from here? The recess has given new Ministers some cover to get themselves into their roles without the need for any Parliamentary scrutiny. Quite handy really.

Over the last couple of years I have been telling everybody who asks me what’s going to happen next not to listen to anybody who is VERY sure of themselves. I am confident this still holds true for the period between now – the September parliamentary session – the 31st October Deadline for Brexit and the Possible November 1st General Election! Christmas feels like a long way off!

Normally I would say there will be a very small number of people around the PM who have an idea of what is going to happen. We saw with May that the surprise General Election was known only by a small handful of trusted advisors. I knwo when Gordon Brown decided not to call an election in 2007 it was a small number of his close team who were involved. I imagine the big game plan is only known fully by Dominic Cummings. I am not sure he will have even fully shared it with Johnson, never mind anybody else. Given the over inflated arrogance of the guy who is really running the government at the moment we all have reason to be really worried.

However, the difference is that Johnson and Cummings are not entirely the masters of their own destiny. Hopefully over the Summer recess the Tories could lose their ‘majority’ in the House if somebody like Philip Lee MP follows through with his threat to join the LIb Dems.

Although as there are a number of Brexit rebels on all sides of the House who may be willing to put their positions on the Europe question ahead of party loyalty the numbers are a little less certain for most scnenarios. The Vote of No Confidence to bring down th government isn’t guarunteed or that straightforwards even if it is won. Johnson has threatened to continue with Brexit even with the House not sitting. So much for ‘Taking Back Control’

For the Commons to take back control of the timetable is complex – as outlined in this article in the Times

Talk of a Government of National Unity is speculative but not impossible. Nothing at the moment if probably impossible. Although I have been disappointed over the last couple of years of MPs threatening these actoins and then mostly putting party self interest first.

There is much to be said about the first 100 days of any government. It is meant to define the directoin and feel of government. But look what happened to May. Those first words outside No10 about tacking injustice did feel as though there might have been something different. In the end it was all meaingless words as she didn;t mean ti and even if she had her whole time in government was consumed by Brexit.

Johnson and the team sent out some clear signals that we are now effectively in General Election mode with daily announcements of new spending commitments (Grand statements and aspirations about for example 20,000 police are easier to make than implement!) But it is clear they are trying to close down a number of Labour attack lines. Labour is depsperate to fight the electoin on Austerity again, but if the Tories convince people that is has genuinely ended they will have to fight on Brexit – their weakest card by a mile. Labour doesn’t seem to have a strategy for dealing with Johnson other than hoping we all hate him as much as they do.

I will return to the battle lines in a General Election fought against a backdrop of Brexit, but it will mean we need to be watching seats all over the country not just the marginals, which in a sense makes the title of this Blogging site rather redundant!

If we do have an election in November it will be fought against the new dividing lines in British politics. In England it will be a 4 way Party fight – or 3 if the Tories kill off the Brexit Party with their No Deal rhetoric. They will be hoping Labour continues to dither – which has helped the Lib Dems resurgence. It was easy in the past. ‘It’s the Economy Stupid’ and Who would most likley make the best Leader/PM. Those old dividing lines are now confused.

Across the nations things look very different. The Union is really under strain. Talk of 2nd Referendum in Scotland can’t be dismissed lightly. Talk of remving the backstop will completeley dynamics of Ireland/ Northern Ireland. I hope to do a special piece on this and interviewing leading politicians on both sides of the Border.

Things will move quickly. We have already seen the cancelling of the Spending Review, new money for areas of policy where Labour have made some gains. Planning for No Deal looks real, not just a bluff. The country is being used to play political games. It is utterly depressing. Even more so because the Labour Opposition should be exploiting this disastererous government but finds itself languishing in the 20% range in the polls. Corbyn’s personal ratings are asbad if not worse than ever.

So over the coming weeks I hope to add a few shorter updates based on simple themes rather than trying to capture everything in one Blog At the moment I would like to focus on the role of Cummings, a Boris v Corbyn election, the rise of the Lib Dems because of their clarity on #remain, and anything else that people mention on my timeline. It’s sort of up to you.

Normal day to day politics does carry on in the background but it will remain massively overshadowed by all things Brexit between now and November. This is depresing because there are so many major issues that need the same energy and resources being thrown at Brexit. You can see we need acton on housing, the NHS, Schools,Transport and the economy just for starters.

If you are bored of the whole subject of Brexit – don’t worry. Even after October 31st we have years of this as the UK will have to negotiate a new relationship with Europe. The issue isn’t going away any day soon. Sorry!

It has been a roller coaster of a year politically as we head towards the end of this Parliamentary session. I don’t really know where to start on all that has happened and what is still to unfold as the Tories announce who our next Prime Minister will be. (Spoiler Alert – it’s Mr Johnson)

The main theme for me though has been utter depression at the state of politics with the surge in populism and the continued inability of Corbyn to show any form of Leadership of the Labour Party in relation to #Brexit or Anti-Semitism for example. I knew from the start he was not a leader but how on earth it has taken so long for others to realise is beyond me.

Which brings me to the title of my update. I have stayed in the Party despite Corbynism not because of it. At each twist and turn – every botched Brexit policy, every lame excuse for the inaction on ant-Semitic behaviour or every poor showing in the local or Euro elections and the pathetic polling levels I still keep hanging on waiting for ‘something’ to happen that will make it alright again

My rationale for staying (despite offers to switch) is that I have been part of the Labour Party for 30+ years and I am not giving up on it that easily. I shouldn’t be forced out by people who have only just joined from the Communist Party or SWP at the top of the Party. I need to stay to use my solitary vote when the time comes for us to fight back. But as more of my moderate friends keep leaving and no action seems to be coming from those we need to lead the fight I wonder when my cry of “one more Chance” will end and I will resign.

The reaction of the Party to the BBC Panorama programme was another final straw – as was the speech from Len McCluskey describing the Deputy Leader of the Party in expletives I won’t use in a blog at the Durham Miners Gala. These may well be twitter storms most people don’t get caught up with (sensibly) but they give an insight into the battles that are taking place for the soul of the Party. It isn’t pretty or a pleasant place to be.

Despite the wonderful sporting success at the weekend I was ready to join the thousands leaving the Party every week. I didn’t vote Labour in the Euros for the first time in my life. I am at the end of my tolerance levels. But once again I decided to stay and follow through on some discussions I have been having outside of the Party.

But what does staying mean. It isn’t just a passive action. It needs to mean something to justify staying. It means – doing nothing to physically help Corbyn into No 10. It means being a critic from within and working with friends and colleagues to bring the Party back into the broad church it used to be. It means staying so I have a vote when the chance arises to elect sensible moderate representatives and replace Corbyn as Leader at the first opportunity, before its too late and our Party has been destroyed. It means being as openly critical as I can within the Party rules. I want those of us who are neither Corbynites or Blairites to feel there is something worth fighting for.

I have had enough. If i was a quitter I would have gone a long time ago. But i can be quite stubborn. This country more than ever needs an opposition ready to fight the most Right Wing Tory party in a generation aided and abetted by the Brexit Party and their media friends. This is not the time to have abandoned the centre ground. It is the time to reach out across the centre. (In a further blog I will argue that being in the centre doesn’t mean not being radical or transformational in our politics – its not just a triangulation of left and right)

As I head into semi- retirement this Autumn I want to be using my new found freedoms to recreate the energy and zeal that brought me into politics in my teens – but now with 35 years experience under my belt.

I am heading off for a break over the Summer to recharge the batteries – and ready myself for the battles ahead.

Ends

I usually give a massive health warning not to read too much into local, European and By-election results and what they might mean for the General Election. I will remind myself of this at the end of these few short thoughts about the Euros on the 23rd May.

These were of course the elections that were never supposed to have happened so they gave a perfect back drop for both apathy and anger.

But the entry of Nigel Farage – creating a new brand to oust UKIP – onto the scene made sure there was an ‘issue’ to at least get excited about – Brexit!

It would be dangerous to extrapolate too much from the results but plenty of people did use them to send a message and they still remain the best indicator outside opinion polling of what people *might* do in the ballot box. Otherwise we are watching polling and talking to our friends on social media.

So what can we take away. We can see there are 30% of votersso fed up and/or angry with the lack of progress on #Brexit they are willing to back a party of Farage with ‘No Deal’ firmly on the table. We need to note this. These people aren’t going way any time soon.

The Tories are paying a terrible price. I have no idea where they go from here. I can’t say am too bothered either. The Leadership contenders are clearly taking this as the clue to back No Deal in order to appeal to their base. This puts the country in danger of crashing out of 40 years of EU membership without a sensible plan all in the name of Party unity. I despair about our future being in the hands of these people.

And what about the #Remain parties. Well unsurprisingly they did well. In fact combined they did better than #Brexit parties so we need to ensure the spin that Brexit was the winner in these elections doesn’t take hold.

The truth is the country is split 3 ways – #Brexit – #Reamin and #doadeal – just as it was 3 years ago. None of us can claim to know the ‘Will of the people’ I support a second referenda but know the country will probably still split 55/45 remain at best.

Quite rightly Labour took a kicking (following a hefty beating in the local elections (again) in May). Most of my former Labour voting #remain friends chose to support parties being clear they were #remain – ChangeUK, Lib Dem or Green. If Labour continues to sit on the fence it will lose votes from all directions. I see their dilemma when you look at the result in Bolsover for example. Here Brexit smashed Labour – but so did the #remain parties.

Labour front benchers have come out in force today to let the leadership know there has to be a fundamental shift in tone and policy on #Brexit if the party is to survive. I have heard of the tensions inside the leadership. It sounds a dysfunctional place – and as I have always said – the lack of any leadership skills from Corbyn mean Milne & McCluskey are effectively running the Party.

The Labour share at 14% is the worst in a national election for 100 years. The responsibility for this lies with the leadership of the Party and somebody has to go. For me this signifies the low point in what has been a pretty dismal time for Labour since Corbyn was elected. I said at the time he is not a Leader. We are now paying the price of continuing with Corbyn and his ‘team’. Even those ‘near’ to Corbyn know the people who really run Labour at the moment are Milne, McClusky & Murphy. They should be the ones to pay a price for our disastrous performance. But they won’t. They will shout ‘coup’ again and circle the wagons.

Those with clear messages won in these Euro elections. I know politics and policy making is complicated, sophisticated and complex. But sometimes being clear about what you are about is even more important. I couldn’t vote for a Party that isn’t clear on #Brexit. Labour was a mess. Unless Labour changes course it is rightly going to continue to suffer further losses. I am not sure how much longer I can stay in a Party I have served for 35 years. I only stay to fight to rebuild after Corbyn has gone. But at this rate there won’t be much left to fight for.

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There have been so many times over the last year that I have felt the need to say something about the daily chaos of political life. Quite often I write the first sentence on here and then stop myself either through despair or lacking energy to take on the social media backlash. So as you have gathered there haven’t been many posts on my ‘political’ blog and I have concentrated on getting on with work and family.

But yesterday was different. The 25th anniversary of the death of John Smith MP stuck a chord with me. It reminded me of a different age in politics and what might have been.

I was very lucky to have been briefly involved with John. I am making no great claims. He probably wouldn’t have remembered me and my small contribution to his leadership. I had been a candidate in the 1992 election in Loughborough and had been taken under the wing of a few people at national level. So when i got a message from somebody working for Robin Cook MP to see if I wanted to ‘co-ordinate’ the East Midlands constituency labour parties as part of John’s leadership election I jumped at the opportunity. We met as a ‘team’ in Westminster a few times with Robin chairing but I never got to see John up close. But I had followed him closely through the 92 campaign and was impressed by him. There was something different about him that stood out.

I recall being at the Festival Hall for the day the Leadership ballot was announced – I believe we won with something like 92% of the vote. He was very gracious in victory and I the memory of the warm thanks he gave for my pathetically small contribution still lives with me.

There are many more people who were genuinely close to John and can tell you of the values and attributes he brought to political life. But for me – a young candidate and hopeful for the next General Election – he helped shape how I thought and acted.
For me the famous quote as some of his last words that all he asked was the chance to serve. This has stayed with me not only throughout my political life but also in my work and personal life. A model of servant leadership is one I have tried to adopt throughout my career and even as I prepare for an interview for a leadership role next week these words are at the forefront of what I want to get across.

I have also complained over the last few years that Parliament lacks the big beasts. John would have dominated the current House of Commons with his humour and cutting analysis. He would have been at the forefront of  the European debate – leading the remain cause from the front. Today is not the time to go into why the current leadership doesn’t even deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as John… but that is for another day.

RIP John Smith. Your memory lives with many of us as an inspiration and you touched thousands of lives even in death. From the responses I have seen on my social media your integrity reached wide and far beyond those of us hooked on politics. You can’t ask much more of a life than that.

bodyguardWe couldn’t resist sitting down to watch the BBC1 Series #Bodyguard. I have to admit to always loving the heady mix of politics and Bond/ Spooks type dramas. Yes I get annoyed when I have to put up with them using the wrong buildings & settings for events, but I have learned not to shout at the TV so often! I also have to remind myself it is a drama and accuracy is not guaranteed or required.

I am sure I will return to the programme when we have more to go on! The first 20 minutes of the first episode was about as tense as I could take for a Sunday night. Whilst the characters have not fully formed for the viewer yet there is enough intrigue set up for me to *need* to watch the rest of the series.

Whilst I have only witnessed Protection from a distance or been involved in the training I have always found it fascinating for both parties. When I first met MPs from NI and Ministerial friends with protection I was very grateful that i was never in a position to need this level of security.

However, I did have a little taste of what life was like once a year during my time as an MP. One of my friends was involved in the Police in Leicestershire and each year they needed a ‘live’ victim to practise their close protection officers skills. Once or twice a year one of my constituency Fridays was given to Special Branch and they were instructed I had now become a target for a Friday! I was given 7 officers and two cars and other elements of the Police in the County did have permission to try a ‘hit’ if they had time to test their colleagues.

I must secretly admitting enjoying the first part of the first experience. For those of us who have a slightly James Bond inner desire being whisked around the County in an unmarked police car and support car – having your door opened and walking into a meeting with the advance team having cleared the path for you. There was a buzz. However, I can always remember thinking by the end of a 10 hour day that I was fed up with every movement being shared with a team of 7 Officers!

I was instructed to make life a little tough for them – insisting on eating out in public places or suddenly changing the plans for the day. But on the other hand I couldn’t go to the toilet without giving notice so that it could be checked and cleared! By this time I was starting to feel all my privacy was being lost and I was looking forward to the point we said goodbye at the end of the day. I really don’t know how people cope having the intrusion in their lives. I have genuine sympathy.

One year the Queen was due later in the month to open the Space Centre in Leicester so they thought it would be useful to use me as a dummy run for the day. No jokes but its probably the only time I was Queen for the day… treading her every step ahead of the visit.

On another occasion we got late notice that Gordon Brown when he was chancellor was available to open the Ford Centre at Loughborough University during a visit to the East Midlands. We grabbed the opportunity and I had to inform Special Branch we had a proper VIP. We squeezed the visit into the late part of a Friday afternoon after I had been around the County and constituency all day. We arranged to meet Gordon at the West entrance to the University and travel in together. We were running a little late from Leicester so the team got permission to do the A6 at let’s say slightly higher than the national speed limit. When we arrived I could see Gordon’s slightly battered Rover with 5 of his team squeezed into the seats waiting for us. I swept up into the layby with my two cars. An officer stepped out, opened my door as the others checked Gordon and his team. I remember Gordon and Ian Austin giving me a strange look as I strode across “You are either important around these parts Andy or you have made some pretty dangerous enemies”

So I will watch #bodyguard with an element of admiration for the officers who do this job. Week in week out just ferrying around VIPs but having to be ready for the one moment their skills are required. Equally I admire those in politics who are willing to sacrifice their personal freedom and privacy for public service. It looks glamorous but it isn’t!

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big ben structure near white concrete structure

Photo by Marianna on Pexels.com

I always find holidays a great time to relax and in my case get in some serious reading and thinking space. In a world dominated by immediacy we don’t create enough thinking time – especially in politics.

In the last few months I have drafted some posts and blogs only to not press publish when it has come to the final moments. Ironically my last post was about the kinder type of politics personified in Tessa Jowell but the two drafts that didn’t make it to publication were withheld because I had come to certain conclusions about Labour on anti-Semitism and the ongoing weakness of Corbyn on #Brexit in these blogs. I didn’t publish these because I usually feel other great writers are much better at expressing what I want to say, and to be honest the level of abuse that is thrown around on Social Media is something I still find unpleasant. On the Anti Semitism row it is pretty awful.

However, I decided in my time away a few things to concentrate on over the next 12 months and I helped clarify my thoughts on a range of issues whilst sitting on a French beach!

I have still not changed my mind about Corbyn. I will return to why in a separate post. Most of the things I thought in 2015 still are relevant. They are still why I think he can’t lead us to a Labour majority government with a clear working majority. But I am now comfortable with being in a minority on this within the current Labour party – but clearly in tune with what the electorate as a whole think. I think I have always said things as I see them and I see no reason to change my mind. Its now about how I handle being in a Party where I don’t support the leadership and how I work my way through this.

I won’t be leaving Labour despite everything going on at the moment and being told to F**K off and join the Tories by people who have only just joined Labour. I joined the Party in 1983 at our low point in recent history and spent years trying to make it electable again. Whilst I fundamentally disagree with the Leadership on so many fronts I will do we did last time. I will Work hard inside the Party to help it understand what it takes to build a coalition of voters required to win an election. Ie beyond our core. I have spent 30 years in Tory heartlands and the Loughborough Marginal. I still think too many in Labour don’t understand what makes switchers tick!

Whilst there is lots of talk about a ‘new party’ happening I will not be distracted by this for now. This excellent article by one of my favourite political writers Stephen Bush sums this up nicely  – Leaving Labour: Why a party split is now inevitable.   I am amongst those who are deeply attached to what I still believe is my party. I have given 30 years of my adult life to the Party in various guises and won’t give up on it easily. The last 2 years have sorely tested my resolve – from the leadership to threats of deselections, infighting pathetic handling of #brexit and anti-Semitism rows. I am fortunate to be an ordinary party member and hold no official position any longer as I can speak freely about how badly I think the party is doing with these issues. But I stay to fight and make the case.

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Having decided to stay and fight when good friends have given up and left I will need to work out some more details of what this will look like. For starters I will be joining a few of the campaigns that are most important to me – and changing the Party position on #Brexit will be my priority. I will continue to openly criticise the party on the position it is taking. I know from numerous conversations inside parliament that there is a sensible majority against anything resembling a #NODEAL or hard Brexit, so in the interests of the country we need to unite around those willing to put the countries economic future first and create a practical #brexit or even a #nobrexit if a second vote takes place once the details of any deal are known.

So over the next 12 months my efforts will be put into #brexit and the continued fight for a Labour Party that knows how to understand the wider electorate is hopes to represent. We have a leader and membership that only wants to shout inside its own echo chamber. The fact that Corbyn lags May and Don’t know in the best PM YouGov polling should alarm party members but it doesn’t. And in a sense that is more worrying. I guess this means at election time I will struggle as people like Corbyn and his supporters did to ‘endorse’ the leader to be PM. But at least unlike many of his closest friends and advisors I won’t be joining or voting for another party in a general election!

So I will stay, fight, be vocal and a bit of a pain, but still with the overall intent of replacing this Tory government. I will do my bit and not run away. Too many people tell me weekly that they are leaving Labour and won’t vote for Corbyn. I will try to convince them they are still better off without a Tory government even if none of us think Corbyn will be decent PM. It is the sort of contortion Corbyn had to perform regularly as he campaigned against all Labour leaders!  It will be fun!

 

 

4565776351_69df760550_bOver the last few months I have been motivated to write about politics and then as I open up the blog I just think – ‘Oh I can’t bothered’. It’s only going to get people shouting on social media again.

But yesterday as I heard the of the sad news that Tessa Jowell has passed away I was deeply moved and reminded there was a time when politics was gentler and could operate with kindness.

As usual many more people have written more eloquent pieces about the sad passing of Tessa Jowell.  But because of the contribution she made to both politics and demonstrating it was possible to be nice and kind I wanted to do more than  the simple social media post.

I know Tessa will rightly be remembered for many of her achievements like SureStart, but I really got to know her because of my links to sport and the Olympics. There are things I regret from my time in Parliament and one of them is not accepting the offer from Tessa to be her PPS in the run up to the 2010 General Election. I had worked closely with Tessa, the BOA and Seb Coe and others to support the case for the 2012 Olympics from within the Treasury role I had at the time.

There are little memories. At conference in Brighton a couple of years ago Tessa saw me came over outside the Conference Centre and grabbed me to take her into the little Thank You party she was holding. I joined her at a Campaign Fundraising dinner for her Mayoralty & she did what all good politicians do – she namechecked me in her thank you speech. But what was different about Tessa is that you could tell it was natural. It wasn’t a technique but genuine warmth.

These summed up years of chats and coffees in the Commons or at events. She never seemed rushed and despite the many Ministerial calls on her time always found those moments to be with people and ‘present’ As I read about everybody else having the same experience it makes you wonder how she managed to fit it in. However, I recall in one of our chats about Ministerial life she sis confess that only a couple of hours on that Sunday afternoon had she has any ‘me time’ after another hectic week in Westminster, her constituency and then the Sunday round of TV.. she says she loved it and thrived but it was a confirming moment that I had always known the pursuit of ministerial office wasn’t for me. I wasn’t prepared to give up so much me, family, church and sport time to politics!

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Although we’ve bumped into each other over the last few years her last time in Loughborough during the 2010 Campaign was special. She came up with the PM to launch the Sports Manifesto we created and I had helped write. She was just wonderful all day with people. Never needing to grab the limelight. If you see the photos , always there but never pushing to the front. Flickr

Through her I met many wonderful Sports Journalists who you will see have nothing but praise for her

Paul Kelso wrote this – Paul Kelso

This was a lovely piece from Alistair Campbell who knew better than most.

Or some political writers – one of my favourite is Stephen Bush who wrote this

She could get angry about things too – as she did about Gove and his cuts to Schools Sport

Over the years I have lost some close and good friends in Politics all taken too early. Tessa will be long remembered for her political career but also for her very human touches of kindness. That’s worth a lot more in the long run.

I used to be really interested in political reshuffles. They were always quite good fun and when you knew all the individuals involved it was always quite fascinating to see who was on the up and who was on the downward career path and who was simply being moved around in circles. Some Ministers lasted  years in the anonymity of the PUS role! Hidden away in the department and Westminster Hall debates.

Of course for most people there is very little interest in Westminster politics and so these are basically anonymous names being moved around departments that most of us haven’t really any understanding of what they do or what they job entails. Most would argue they run fine without Ministerial interference.

On a reshuffle day the tea rooms and portcullis area used to be awash with people second guessing what might or might not happen. Most MPs who thought they were in with a chance will be in place by their phones or make sure their mobiles have a good reception. The ‘Call’ from number still makes the heart thump. However, these days across social media mean that we can all watch the reshuffle almost taken place live on Twitter. So much so that today we even had an announcement of Chris Grayling being announced as Party chair even though minutes later we realise he hadn’t been appointed to that post at all. This was all part of the narrative of the day – it was all a bit shambolic. I assume most reshuffles were mostly a bit botched from memory. It’s just that we didn’t have 24 hour news and social media watching every second. Today if you are going to choreograph a reshuffle that you have already spun, you need slick execution. We didn’t see much of that yesterday did we?

Reshuffles. It really is one of the most bizarre ways of running the country. Can you imagine about every year or 18 months if your CEO walks in and suggests they are going to move all the people around into different departments and not because of any perceived faliure or success (however that is measured in government which is often not the same as being a competent department minister) but instead promotions and demotions will be based on the particular geographic location of your constituency, which side of particular ideological divide you sit and increasingly these days whether you  voted remain or leave. It  also depends who your friends are in the higher ranks of the party and how close they are to having the ear of the Prime Minister and his or her colleagues. Most parliamentarians just shrug their shoulder when they hear some of the  announcements from number 10. Anybody involved in Politics will know there is very little of the process based on meritocracy about who gets promoted and who gets demoted. It’s amazing that such important jobs are won and  lost on the basis of Westminster gossip. No Minister ever has an appraisal. Very few insiders believe the best people for the job are actually doing the job! Indeed knowledge of a subject area seems the last reason to appoint a Minister!

One of the reasons I believe our Country suffers from poor decision-making is both the short-term nature of the first past the post but Parliamentary system that leads to short term political fixes, and this messy way at a reshuffle, replacing a departmental Secretary of State every couple of years. It does mean that even within a five year Parliament its possible to make deep changes in policy direction simply by the change of the Secretary of State. No minister arrives at a department just thinking I’ll keep things ticking over nicely for the next couple of years.

Instead they will arrive thinking they going to ‘make a mark’ on the department & bring along with them or their ideological baggage and ideas formed -usually through anecdote and virtually none of  them from evidence-based policy-making. It really does make for a heady mix poor government. But strong Ministers can be good. They can also be a Disaster. Look at the damage Gove has done in every department he has touched. Powerful ministers can do a lot of damage in 2 years!

Today the Prime Minister seemed even weaker than usual. Clearly the reshuffle was necessitated because of the resignation of a number of her senior colleagues. But it did give her the opportunity to make some major changes at the top but it appears from the first days activity very little radical change has taken place. Indeed Ministers refusing to leave or be sacked is not a good look for a Strong and Stable PM. It perhaps signifies the lack of room she has to manoeuvre. She did look very weak by the end of the first day.

Tomorrow, plenty of junior ministers will be part of moving  the deckchairs and these will be mainly people even the most hardy political nerds have ever heard of. After I lost in 2010 I did keep a close eye on what was going on in parliament but by 2015 there were many new names and of course in 2017 your necessary election has led to a whole series of other new New batch of MPs. I haven’t heard of most of them and I take an interest! Surprisingly some of these have already been touted for ministerial positions. I Guess that most haven’t even really found all the ways around the Parliamentary estate or know exactly how Parliament works.

What is it is only a reshuffle today just to signify again the weakness of the skip and it’s preoccupation with Brexit and just how out of touch with major issues facing the country they government is today. I have always argued that governments can multitask and they  can deal with Brexit and the whole series of the major issues that face the country but increasingly this government does give the impression of a being  completely hapless out of touch quite incompetent. May has managed to destroy all of her credibility in just over a year.

There is unlikely to be an election any time soon so there will be plenty more of this to come over the next 2 to 3 years. What a depressing thought. Where are the big beasts to take on high office in this country? we need them now more than ever. Good luck everybody. We are on our own.

Ends

(Please excuse the typos this was dictated and will be amended later this evening)

PS Just seen that Corbyn told the PLP we won’t be in the Single Market.. I am even more depressed by the state of politics tonight!

It would be brave for anybody to predict what will happen politically in 2018 given all of the turmoil over the last two years. But over the course of this week I will be picking on some themes and what I think may happen.

I’d like to talk about Brexit, the Labour Party, Theresa May, the possibility of a General Election for a start, but I’d love questions too. Submit a sensible question on anything politically interesting and I’ll have a go at answering in a blog or two over the year ahead!

As you can imagine #brexit will look large over all politics in 2018 and the above is my starting point. Labour needs to stop waiting and taking a lead on brexit before it’s too late. By the time of the next election we will have left the EU and probably the SM and CU if the hard brexiteers get their way. 2018 is genuinely the time the fight has to happen.

Of course whilst most of this will be about UK domestic politics I won’t be able to resist mentioning the genius that is Donald Trump!

Please do drop a question to me.. on Twitter, Facebook LinkedIn or here on WordPress

To be frank social media means it’s pretty unpleasant speaking out on some of the big issues of the day and I didn’t need all the flak! However, I guess as part of an early New Years resolution I have decided not to sit back and let fear of speaking up be the cause of this country sliding out of the EU, SM and EEA because my party was playing a short term political game. So 2018 will be a time for speaking up a little more specifically here on this ‘political site’

As you can see from this article and polling (yes I know it’s the MSM!) but I know it reflects the conversations I am having all the time. There are many Labour voters like me who are ‘angry & disappointed’ at the lack of fight from our party on the biggest peacetime issue for a generation.

Time to make our voices heard across the country and not leave this to a few in parliament across the political divide. They need our support to face down the hard right brexiteers.

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