Every Cloud ….

Does the cloud over Manchester have a silver lining?

Yes, it most definitely does.

No one can have failed to be impressed by the seemingly endless stories of ordinary Mancunians rushing to help in any way they could. The taxi drivers who all turned off their meters and worked through the night to reunite children with their parents. The passers by who stopped, and stayed, to comfort the injured and dying. The local residents who opened up their homes to give shelter to hundreds of people, children and adults, who were stranded as a result of the closure of public transport. The hotels which opened their doors to anyone in need of a bed for the night, without any thought of recompense. The locals who brought food and drink to the emergency services. Every story was wonderfully heart-warming. Continue reading

The Art of Public Speaking

It is mean of me to single out Mrs May. Very few modern politicians are good at oratory. The Prime Minister is very far from being alone. But, inevitably, because prime ministers’ speeches tend to be rather more important than those of other politicians, Mrs May’s efforts at public speaking are more noticeable than those of others.

The two recent terrorist atrocities (Westminster and Manchester) led, quite rightly, to Mrs May making emotional speeches to the nation from Downing Street. In both cases, her words were well judged. She said what had to be said by our head of government. I stress that I make no criticism of the content of her speeches. But I do have to say that her delivery was simply appalling. Continue reading

Has Mrs May Blown it?

I should say immediately that the answer to the question posed in the title of this piece is an emphatic “No”. Oh, all right, that is over the top. The answer is an emphatic “Not Yet”.

The Prime Minister has been extraordinarily foolish. It is always easy to say, after the event, that one would have behaved differently. But I know that I am not making use of hindsight. The second I saw the manifesto pledge to make the elderly pay for their care from their estates after their deaths I thought Mrs May had been very silly. That is not to say that the policy is evil. After all, Mr Corbyn wants to take even more money from the dead than Mrs May does. I just thought it was wholly unnecessary. All she needed to say was that her government would consider all options, that there would be wide ranging consultations etc. etc. Continue reading

Labour Support Surges – Good – Now for a Proper Election Campaign

I want the Conservatives to win the election with a handsome majority. But I have been desperately uneasy about the way they have, so far, been conducting the campaign.

What one might call the “leader cult” is certainly not new to British politics (remember Tony Blair?). But I think it fair to say that it has never before been advanced in such a shameless way as the Tories are now promoting it.

Mrs May’s endless demands that we should vote for “me”, rather than for Conservative candidates, were bound, eventually, to backfire on her. That seems to have happened. The latest You Gov poll for the Sunday Times suggests that Labour is now (on 35%) only nine points behind the Conservatives (on 44%). Continue reading

Tribute to a Pub

“What was that rather sordid pub called where your father used to hold court?”

Those were the words, spoken the other day, which led me to cast my mind back and remember an extraordinary institution, one which played a surprisingly large part in the development of what came to be known as “Thatcherism”.

I never thought of the Kings and Keys in Fleet Street as a “sordid pub”. I always found it comfortable and friendly. But I did spend a great deal of time, in my childhood and youth, there. It was a second home to me and to my siblings. Continue reading

Tory Manifesto – Not a Total Disaster

I have ploughed through it. That wasn’t a particularly enjoyable task, but I knew I owed it to my reader to do it.

So, what did I make of the Conservative Party (sorry, the “Theresa May and her Team”) manifesto?

It doesn’t contain much, or any, stirring rhetoric. It won’t put fire into the bellies of Tory canvassers. Liberty is dismissed as being an extremist notion. But so is Socialism. The overriding message is that Mrs May is firmly placed in the middle of British politics, she is a Heath not a Thatcher. Put aside the endless repetition of “strong and stable leadership” and what you are left with is a lengthy document devoted to the glories of state regulation. Pretty well every section contains a promise to have more regulation. The man, probably now the woman, in Whitehall knows best. Continue reading

Should Children have the Vote?

Almost all countries have a minimum voting age of eighteen or older. There are a very few exceptions (sixteen, for instance, in Guernsey, Jersey, the Isle of Man and Scotland – the latter only for independence referendums, Scottish Parliament elections and local authority elections). Interestingly, the UK was one of the earliest to reduce the age to eighteen (in 1970). But now the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats, the Greens and the SNP want the age to be reduced again to sixteen. I wonder whether that is a good idea.

Various reasons are advanced by politicians for their stances on the minimum voting age. but the reality, of course, is that those who advocate a reduction do so because they calculate it would lead to their getting more votes and those who oppose the reduction (now only the Conservatives) do so because they assume that most children would be likely to vote for left wing parties. Continue reading

Private School Allows Boys to Wear Skirts

Highgate School has changed its uniform policy. Boys will be permitted to wear skirts. This is because the headmaster thinks a great many boys now want to be girls: they are questioning something called their “gender identity”. What is more, according to the headmaster, most parents are stupidly unaware that their sons think of themselves as their daughters. It is up to schools to stop parents being “binary” in their thinking.

I assume that Highgate School seeks to make its profits from the Champagne Socialists of North London. The rather dotty sounding headmaster probably thinks there is money in spouting all this jargon. He is almost certainly not as mad as he appears to be. The good Socialists of Highgate are understandably desperate to have “correct” reasons for turning their backs on the local bog standard comprehensive and paying more than the national average wage in school fees. What could be more correct than going for a private school which asserts that masses of boys want to be girls, especially when most state schools are stuck in the stone age? Continue reading

Will it be the Conservative Manifesto or Mrs May’s Manifesto?

One day next week the Conservative Party’s manifesto will be published. But it will have been written with no input from any member of the Conservative Parliamentary Party other than the Prime Minister. No cabinet minister, it seems has been consulted. All has been left to one of Mrs May’s unelected special advisers, a Mr Nicholas Timothy.

I can’t help thinking that this a very bad idea. I have nothing personally against Mr Timothy. I have never even met him. I know he is a great admirer of Joseph Chamberlain, and there is something to be said for old Joe (though I would be happier if Mr Timothy’s admiration were directed to Edmund Burke). My concern is that Mrs May is said to be intending to land her party with a manifesto which will be widely disliked by her colleagues in the House of Commons. Continue reading

The Bookies Must Hate this Election

Were I to pop down to the local bookmaker and put £50 on the Conservatives to win the election I would be given odds which would lead to my winning £1 if the Conservatives end up with a majority in the House of Commons. Interest rates are very low at present, but I reckon I could ensure a better return by putting my £50 in an interest bearing bank account.

On the other hand, were I to put that £50 on Labour winning, I would earn £800 when the Labour landslide is announced on 9th June. Better still, £50 on the Lib Dems winning would give me £5,000 were that to happen. And the same bet on Ukip or the Greens would, if successful, reward me with £25,000. Continue reading