“Sorry, Boris, it’s time to go by 10 to 0,” say the officers of the Conservative Party Association of Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham …

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“Winston Churchill offered this advice about how the Conservative party should treat its leader. “The loyalties which centre upon number one are enormous. If he trips, he must be sustained. If he makes mistakes, they must be covered. If he sleeps, he must not be wantonly disturbed. If he is no good, he must be pole-axed.”

Boris Johnson has united every Tory faction – in anger at him

The Hard Left likes to believe that a handful of them gatecrashing the end of a peaceful mass demonstration against the Poll Tax put an end to the tax and then Margaret Thatcher.

It is a cherished myth to which they still cling, limpet like.

Their throwing of scaffolding poles did make great pictures for the mass media, though, and seemingly etched itself into the minds and collective memory and consciousness of our Riks of today (see Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain).

George Monbiot glueing his ear to the tarmac of the M6 will not …

However, it was sober citizens, sidling up to their local Tory MP for a quiet word at the 19th hole or in the Association bar of what some now style a Blue Wall constituency, who put paid to the Poll Tax (and then Thatcher).

These days such conversations may take place in less conservative locations …

The Poll Tax was deeply unpopular with the Conservative Party’s core vote.

Thatcher had lost her electoral mojo.

The Liberal Democrats say some of those same sober citizens in 2021, One Nation Conservatives; Tories opposed to Johnson’s brand of Brexit; Remain supporting Tories (25% of the Tory vote at the 2015 General Election are estimated to have voted Remain in 2016) and small business people, handed them their Orpington 1962 by election style victory in the recent Chesham and Amersham by election.

Orpington pointed the way to Labour’s narrow victory in the 1964 General Election.

To mangle a David Frost quote, will Dull Alec beat Smart Alec next time out?

The One Nation Conservatives do not like Boris Johnson’s character or lack of it; Remain supporting Tories, some Tories who voted Leave and small business people do not like his Hard Brexit.

Keir Starmer does not seem to hold much appeal for them, either.

Yet, when you look at the Chesham and Amersham by election result, you do see a great opportunity for a political party led by a sober suited, hard working, serious Knight of the Realm and Queen’s Counsellor, a loving father and husband.

Labour had its worst Parliamentary by election result not under Corbyn, but Starmer

Admittedly, he is a tad dull and campaigns in prose not poetry.

Keir Starmer’s unique selling point is surely that he is the complete opposite of Boris Johnson?

He is the chap any responsible parent would want their offspring to bring home as a prospective life partner, is he not?

I gather Johnson made no visits to Chesham and Amersham during the by election campaign or, if he did they were very low key.

The losing Tory candidate, like Pitt the Even Younger roundly criticised the voters of Chesham and Amersham for not taking the chance to elect him their Member of Parliament.

“The people have spoken, the bastards.”

Dick Tuck

He had deigned to stand in their seat.

What more did they want?

The Tory’s defensive talking points for the media, echoed enthusiastically by Labour and propagated by many amongst the Commentariat, were that the Conservative Party lost Chesham and Amersham and it was their seat to lose, because of NIMBYism, particularly the furore around changes to planning legislation and the building of HS2.

Labour suffered one of its worst ever by election results in Chesham and Amersham, if not the worst, with only 622 votes cast for its candidate.

Things can only get better may need to be replaced with the only way is up or keep on running, keep on hiding. A little Birmingham reference, there.

May be it was a bit too early for the Tories to further flesh out the lines to take with our old friend, mid term blues (and in the process embarrass Labour)?

Labour on the ground in Chesham and Amersham only put out a token leaflet (Starmer has yet to grasp how far a Labour leader’s writ really runs at election time), because they were convinced that the Liberal Democrats were well placed to take the seat.

They are, I have been, told eyeing up Steve Baker FRSA’s (whatever did he do for that?) Wycombe where he admits he has lost the support of affluent, Remain supporting Tories.

His answer?

To campaign against the cost of tackling Man Made Global Warming.

In a YouGov poll, 76% of those polled said they believed in Man Made Global Warming

I think Baker (a latter day, real life Sir Talbot Buxomly?) is trying to reclaim for the Tory Party the title of the Stupid Party.

If Johnson goes then Labour’s poll leads will, odds on, evaporate.

Starmer is at his best when enthusiastically prosecuting something or someone at PMQs.

Neil Kinnock was actually better at PMQs up against Thatcher than Starmer is cross questioning Johnson, but Kinnock still never won a General Election.

A new competent (looking) Tory leader and Prime Minister, cracking down on sleaze and corruption, surely anything will be seen as an improvement on where we are, today, will most likely shoot Starmer’s fox.

And Labour, still gun shy of any association with Labour’s winning team, will regret not doing more to heed the words of Lord Mandelson, “One thing is clear to me – it’s that Tory sleaze is not going to win the next election for Labour.

It will loosen and crumble a lot of support for the Tories and people will reach the conclusion that they are out for themselves and that they suit themselves and they fill the pockets of their own cronies and supporters, that’s true.

But that doesn’t mean to say that Labour’s just got to sit back and wait for the election to fall into their laps.

That’s not how you win elections.”

Labour Won’t Win Election With ‘Tory Sleaze’ Attacks Alone

Labour’s only hope, for now, seems to lie in the Tories shooting themselves in the head by electing a new leader too closely associated with Johnson to escape the gravitational pull of his battered legacy.

It is surely not for nothing, though, that Michael Gove routinely mimics Macavity and casts off former allies and acquaintances?

I know thee not, Cummings: fall to thy prayers;
Reply not to me with a fool-born blog post, rewriting history:
Presume not that I am the thing I was;
For God doth know, so shall the world perceive,
That I have turn’d away my former self;
So will I those that kept me company.
When thou dost hear I am as I have been,
Approach me, and thou shalt be as thou wast,
The tutor and the feeder of my riots:
Till then, I banish thee,
As I have done the rest of my misleaders,
Not to come near our person by ten mile.
For competence of life I will allow you,
That lack of means enforce you not to evil:
And, as we hear you do reform yourselves,
We will, according to your strengths and qualities,
Give you advancement.”

With due apologies to that well known Midlander, William Shakespeare.

Michael Gove tickled their tummies. They purred in response …

The Death of Duelling: The Colston Case in Reverse?

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The Rule of Law and the Colston Four

The historian Christopher Andrew once did a piece for BBC Timewatch on the death of duelling, citing two cases separated by a few decades.

Duelling was illegal in both cases.

In the first, the jury acquitted the accused.

In the second, they did not.

The law had not changed in the intervening period, but social attitudes towards duelling had turned against the practice as a way of honourably settling disputes. One imagines m’learned friends benefited, thereby.

And the duel that took place between two lawmakers, the Duke of Wellington, at the time the Prime Minister, and George Finch-Hatton, 10th Earl of Winchilsea in Battersea Fields on 21st March 1829, over the issue of a letter the Earl had sent to the Duke about the Catholic Relief Bill, had rather brought the practice into disrepute as a way of resolving disagreements between gentlemen.

The Duke fired and missed; he claimed he did so on purpose. However, the Duke was known as a poor shot and accounts differ as to whether he purposefully missed.

Winchilsea kept his arm by his side at the command to “fire” then quite deliberately raised his arm in the air and fired. He then apologised for the language of his letter. It is almost certain that Winchilsea and Falmouth, his second, had agreed on their course of action, as the letter of apology was already prepared.

I mean what is the point of chaps squaring off with no intention of even drawing blood with a letter of apology already prepared?

And Wellington was in the curious position of having, on campaign, banned duelling by his officers for fear of losing the talented amongst them and he felt there were precious few that came up to such an estimation.

But he had personally risked his life as Prime Minister at a time of crisis for party and country.

Wellington the politician was never the equal of Wellington the general and diplomat, perhaps because he had been used before he went into politics to being a law unto himself.

It’s Hard #Brexit Groundhog Day …

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I think we are doomed for now to Brexit Groundhog Day, reliving the battles of the referendum for the foreseeable future.

Until folk, regardless of their position on Brexit, accept that we have serious problems in the here and now to address and that many of them have been caused or at least exacerbated by the hardest of Hard Brexits then we will be stricken with a bout of chronic hysteresis.

To admit that there are Brexit related issues that must be dealt with now is, naturally, to suggest that the rationale for voting Leave was flawed and that rejoining is not an immediate solution to said problems.

The Conservative Party negotiated and signed up to the hardest of Hard Brexits and the Labour Party endorsed the deal.

The end of Freedom of Movement has tightened Britain’s labour market, helping to create one million vacancies and, in part, prompting the Monetary Policy Committee to raise the bank base rate.

How increasing the interest rate will fill help businesses fill jobs before some of them falter and fail early in the New Year is unclear, but I am sure the one club golfers know what they are doing.

One might think they were seeking to prove that those projections of the likely negative impact of a Hard Brexit on the economy were overly optimistic.

The Conservative Party’s answer to the problem is, according to Priti Patel, to grow our own domestic work force. The only way to effectively do that would be to clone Boris Johnson, many times over; develop a working method of time travel, we need not worry about moving in space and then send armies of Johnson clones back in time twenty, thirty and forty years to propagate like crazy. A plan that would play to one of Johnson’s few strengths and be well within his comfort zone.

The Temporal Invasion of the Propagators makes a good working title.

Labour does not have an answer, but the self styled new party of business recognises that growing labour and skill shortages are the major problem facing the business community in Britain. That lack of a solution did not prevent Sir Keir Starmer QC announcing at Labour’s Annual Conference that a Government he led would create 8,500 new specialist mental health vacancies in the NHS to add to the current 100,000 vacancies of all types therein that make up 40% of the 250,000 unfilled positions in the health and care sector.

Cognitive dissonance and Govitis, the irrational fear of experts, are still running wild amongst the body politic and much of the rest of our society.

The only credible solution that significantly addresses the explosion of the United Kingdom’s demographic time bomb is some replication of the conditions of Freedom of Movement for inward migrant labour.

But we know how well that would play with the Red Wall, the destination of whose votes concern both Labour and the Conservatives to the exclusion of almost all else.

There are, admittedly, a number of prophylactic solutions to the issue.

One of which would be to raise the State Pension Age.

Another would be to convert some of the capital earmarked for levelling up, however we are defining that this week, into revenue and spending it on helping the economically inactive, many of whom would like a job, apply for some of the jobs employers are desperate to fill.

Of course, that would mean levelling up everywhere, regenerating people not places; property developers spending money with Magrathean Consulting and politicians, of all stripes and none, forgoing laying the cornerstones, capping stones and posing, grinning inanely with an outsize pair of rubber scissors to cut the ribbons at the official openings and, you guessed it, unveiling the stones marking said openings of (strike out as applicable) iconic structures/vanity capital projects/vital pieces of infrastructure/wastes of taxpayer money.

And politicians like Michael Gove and Lisa Nandy would have to look up the location of places in Cornwall and of towns like Hastings, locales which are not Oop North, and of the Terra Incognita that is the English Midlands.

If they like, they might describe the project as a Brexit bonus, designed to unite the country, well, England at least.

One should also not forget the self inflicted Brexit bonuses, like the UKCA standard, an unnecessary, costly burden on business that, it appears, we were not able the enact when in the EU. I gather it is part of the Global Britain brand.

Who knew we left the EU to actually increase business regulation?

Johnson’s two word business policy is still being actively pursued. Arguably, it is the only one which he has really managed to put into effect and deliver upon.

It would seem to be a cost free policy pledge for Labour to announce it would scrap UKCA in Government. A vote winner amongst the business community, most of whom would be perfectly happy complying with just the CE standard.

Of course, it would mean saying the UKCA standard is inferior to the CE standard which is not just used by countries within the Single Market, but by many others around the world …

“You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

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“One of the defences used to defend against getting rid of the current Prime Minister is that it should not be done in the midst of a crisis.”

The myth of “Not Now” – why a crisis is a good time to change Prime Minister

Sir Keir Starmer QC, the Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, no matter how deep in the mire Boris Johnson descends still declines to call on the Prime Minister to resign.

Some of his supporters say that Sir Keir Starmer QC should only urge Johnson to resign, if there is any chance of Johnson losing a Vote of No Confidence.

“If I could snap my fingers and force him to resign, then of course, we’d force him to resign,” he said.

Keir Starmer pledges to “build a new Britain”

And, if he could, they have the fall back argument of better the devil you know and/or Starmer is playing a long game.

As an aside, a long game is one way of describing an elaborate con, perpetrated over weeks, if not months.

Jeremy Corbyn was playing a long game on Brexit before December 2019 and his front man for that gambit then succeeded him as Labour leader.

The Norway Debate held between 7th and 9th May 1940 on the Government’s conduct of the war, included at the end of the second day, a division of the House of the Commons, effectively a Vote of No Confidence in the Government.

In the name of God, go!

It is generally understood that Labour did not intend a division before the debate began, but Clement Attlee, leader of the Labour Party, after hearing the speeches of prominent backbench Conservative Members of Parliament, realised that discontent within Tory ranks was far deeper than had been initially thought.

A meeting of the Labour Party’s Parliamentary Executive was held on the morning of 8th May and Attlee proposed forcing a division at the end of the debate that day. There were a handful of dissenters, including Hugh Dalton, the Labour Party’s spokesman on foreign policy, but they were outvoted at a second meeting before the debate recommenced.

As a result, when Herbert Morrison reopened the debate just after 16:00, he announced that:

“In view of the gravity of the events which we are debating, that the House has a duty and that every Member has a responsibility to record his particular judgment upon them, we feel we must divide the House at the end of our Debate to-day.”

Roy Jenkins says the Labour decision to divide turned the routine adjournment motion into “the equivalent of a vote of censure”. Earlier in his opening address, Morrison had focused his criticism on Neville Chamberlain, John Simon and Samuel Hoare who were the three ministers most readily associated with appeasement.

The vote was won by the Government, but with a drastically reduced majority.

On 10th May, Neville Chamberlain resigned as Prime Minister leading to the replacement of his government by a broadly based coalition under Winston Churchill and the rest, as they say, is history.

Clement Attlee and Arthur Greenwood, leader and deputy leader of the Labour Party, respectively, went on as members of the War Cabinet to give Churchill as Prime Minister, the moral support he needed to face down the appeasers in his party, who would have negotiated a peace with Hitler that might have included giving away Malta and Gibraltar, possibly even India, for another scrap of paper.

Greenwood had, memorably, spoken for England in a debate on 2nd September 1939:

“How long we are prepared to vacillate at a time when Britain and all Britain stands for – and human civilisation – are in peril?”

A responsible Opposition, wishing to look like a Government in waiting does not put party before country at a time of crisis.

Let us now move on from May 1940 to Trafalgar Square on 4th November 1956 and Aneurin Bevan mocking the Prime Minister over his handling of President Nasser and the Suez Canal:

“Sir Anthony Eden has been pretending that he is now invading Egypt in order to strengthen the United Nations. Every burglar of course could say the same thing, he could argue that he was entering the house in order to train the police. So, if Sir Anthony Eden is sincere in what he is saying, and he may be, then he is too stupid to be a Prime Minister.”

Bevan then went on to call on the Prime Minister to resign:

Doing the right thing is responsible behaviour, even if it may not prove to be of advantage to one’s party and, in the long run as Keynes observed, we are all dead.

Jack Profumo, a Tory MP of only two months after winning a by election in March 1940, defied his party’s three line whip and voted against Neville Chamberlain’s Government in the Norway Debate.

Profumo’s vote enraged the Government Chief Whip, David Margesson, who said to him:

“I can tell you this, you utterly contemptible little shit. On every morning that you wake up for the rest of your life you will be ashamed of what you did last night.”

Profumo later remarked that Margesson, “couldn’t have been more wrong”.

But Profumo was no saint.

The newly elected leader of the Labour Party, Harold Wilson, was initially advised by his colleagues in early 1963 to have nothing to do with a fellow MP’s private dossier on the Profumo rumours. On 21st March, however, with the press furore over the “missing witness” at its height, the party changed its stance. During a House of Commons debate, George Wigg MP used parliamentary privilege to ask the Home Secretary to categorically deny the truth of rumours connecting “a minister” to Keeler, Rice-Davies and the Edgecombe shooting. He did not name Profumo, who was not in the House. Later in the debate Barbara Castle, the Labour MP for Blackburn, referred to the “missing witness” and hinted at a possible perversion of justice. The Home Secretary, Henry Brooke, refused to comment, adding that Wigg and Castle should “seek other means of making these insinuations if they are prepared to substantiate them”.

Jack Profumo eventually resigned from office and Parliament and devoted the rest of his life to good works, but then he went to Harrow, Churchill’s alma mater, and not Eton, but like Johnson, he did go to Oxford and was a member of the Bullingdon Club.

In the debate on 17th June 1963 following Profumo’s resignation, Wilson concentrated almost exclusively on the extent to which Macmillan and his colleagues had been dilatory in not identifying a clear security risk arising from Profumo’s association with Ward and his circle. Harold Macmillan, the Prime Minister, responded that he should not be held culpable for believing a colleague who had repeatedly asserted his innocence. He mentioned the false allegations against a certain Galbraith, and the failure of the security services to share their detailed information with him.

In the general debate, the sexual aspects of the scandal were fully discussed. Most Conservatives, whatever their reservations, were supportive of Macmillan, with only Nigel Birch, the Conservative MP for West Flintshire, suggesting that he should consider retirement.

In the subsequent vote on the government’s handling of the affair, 27 Conservatives abstained, reducing the government’s majority to 69. Most newspapers considered the extent of the defection significant, and several forecast that Macmillan would soon resign.

Macmillan did leave office in October 1963.

Lord Denning concluded his report on the Profumo Affair:

“This was an unprecedented situation for which the machinery of government did not cater. It was, in the view of the security service, not a case of security risk, but of moral misbehaviour by a minister. And we have no machinery to deal with it.”

I am not allergic to the use of focus groups, but Labour declined to call for Matt Hancock’s resignation earlier in 2021, because their soundings amongst the party’s (Red Wall inclined?) focus groups came out against calling for a Minister’s resignation at that time.

Hancock almost went under his own steam.

Intriguingly, Johnson tried for a day or two after Hancock had quit to claim that he had fired Hancock so clearly he felt blindsided by The Sun.

And who took advantage of the Right Reverend Matt Hancock MP for West Suffolk reading a lesson on “Faith and Values in Public Life”, in a church in his constituency in 2018?

A choice line from Hancock’s sermon is:

“I think Britain should be proud that we have one of the most robustly accountable systems of Government of all the countries in the world.”

The sermon is still up on his website.

Are there no similar skeletons in Boris Johnson’s cupboard for a skilful Opposition to expose to the light of day in a set piece Commons debate?

“But in the end, it’s for the Tory party to decide what they want to do about Boris Johnson.”

Keir Starmer pledges to “build a new Britain”

Is it really, though?

“There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.”

Brutus, Julius Caesar, Act IV, Scene Three

Our country is currently going through the equivalent of May 1940 (Covid), Suez (Hard Brexit) and Profumo (scandal and corruption) all at the same time.

Should the Conservative Party drive Boris Johnson out of Number Ten then Sir Keir Starmer QC will not even be able to claim a share in the kill.

Sir Keir Starmer QC could, however, call on the Parliamentary Conservative Party to sack Johnson for the good of the country.

If Sir Keir Starmer QC is not willing to take a risk now and then, make a decision without a guarantee of 100% success then is he really suited to taking on the role of Prime Minister?

The Duke of Wellington once observed, “All the business of war, and indeed all the business of life, is to endeavour to find out what you don’t know by what you do; that’s what I called ‘guessing what was at the other side of the hill’.”

And the Duke was no way near as cautious as many like to believe.

Sir Keir Starmer QC should consider Oliver Cromwell’s words when he next makes a political virtue out of his timidity, his lack of a killer instinct.

“You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

I do not think, that when all that is left to him is to fall, that nothing in Boris Johnson’s political life will become him like his leaving of it.

Quite the opposite, in fact, he will rage, rage against the dying of the light; against the disloyalty of those, he walked all over to get to the highest office and at the patent unfairness of a world that has always denied him the palms which he believes are his due, but which lesser mortals have kept on insisting he earns.

Whether on leaving Number Ten, Boris Johnson resigns, triggering a by election or squats on the backbenches, in the manner of Edward Heath, his exit from the highest office of the land which he so desired, but which on taking up he decided he did not enjoy, is a gift to an Opposition, ready, willing and able to seize the moment.

Anyone got a copy of one of Sir Keir Starmer QC’s school reports?

It’s #Brexit Groundhog Day …

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I think we are doomed for now to Brexit Groundhog Day, reliving the battles of the referendum for the foreseeable future.

Until folk, regardless of their position on Brexit, accept that we have serious problems in the here and now to address and that many of them have been caused or at least exacerbated by the hardest of Hard Brexits then we will be stricken with a bout of chronic hysteresis.

To admit that there are Brexit related issues that must be dealt with now is, naturally, to suggest that the rationale for voting Leave was flawed and that rejoining is not an immediate solution to said problems.

The Conservative Party negotiated and signed up to the hardest of Hard Brexits and the Labour Party endorsed the deal.

The end of Freedom of Movement has tightened Britain’s labour market, helping to create one million vacancies and, in part, prompting the Monetary Policy Committee to raise the bank base rate.

How increasing the interest rate will fill help businesses fill jobs before some of them falter and fail early in the New Year is unclear, but I am sure the one club golfers know what they are doing.

One might think they were seeking to prove that those projections of the likely negative impact of a Hard Brexit on the economy were overly optimistic.

The Conservative Party’s answer to the problem is, according to Priti Patel, to grow our own domestic work force. The only way to effectively do that would be to clone Boris Johnson, many times over; develop a working method of time travel, we need not worry about moving in space and then send armies of Johnson clones back in time twenty, thirty and forty years to propagate like crazy. A plan that would play to one of Johnson’s few strengths and be well within his comfort zone.

The Temporal Invasion of the Propagators makes a good working title.

Labour does not have an answer, but the self styled new party of business recognises that growing labour and skill shortages are the major problem facing the business community in Britain. That lack of a solution did not prevent Sir Keir Starmer QC announcing at Labour’s Annual Conference that a Government he led would create 8,500 new specialist mental health vacancies in the NHS to add to the current 100,000 vacancies of all types therein that make up 40% of the 250,000 unfilled positions in the health and care sector.

Cognitive dissonance and Govitis, the irrational fear of experts, are still running wild amongst the body politic and much of the rest of our society.

The only credible solution that significantly addresses the explosion of the United Kingdom’s demographic time bomb is some replication of the conditions of Freedom of Movement for inward migrant labour.

But we know how well that would play with the Red Wall, the destination of whose votes concern both Labour and the Conservatives to the exclusion of almost all else.

There are, admittedly, a number of prophylactic solutions to the issue.

One of which would be to raise the State Pension Age.

Another would be to convert some of the capital earmarked for levelling up, however we are defining that this week, into revenue and spending it on helping the economically inactive, many of whom would like a job, apply for some of the jobs employers are desperate to fill.

Of course, that would mean levelling up everywhere, regenerating people not places; property developers spending money with Magrathean Consulting and politicians, of all stripes and none, forgoing laying the cornerstones, capping stones and posing, grinning inanely with an outsize pair of rubber scissors to cut the ribbons at the official openings and, you guessed it, unveiling the stones marking said openings of (strike out as applicable) iconic structures/vanity capital projects/vital pieces of infrastructure/wastes of taxpayer money.

And politicians like Michael Gove and Lisa Nandy would have to look up the location of places in Cornwall and of towns like Hastings, locales which are not Oop North, and of the Terra Incognita that is the English Midlands.

If they like, they might describe the project as a Brexit bonus, designed to unite the country, well, England at least.

One should also not forget the self inflicted Brexit bonuses, like the UKCA standard, an unnecessary, costly burden on business that, it appears, we were not able the enact when in the EU. I gather it is part of the Global Britain brand.

Who knew we left the EU to actually increase business regulation?

Johnson’s two word business policy is still being actively pursued. Arguably, it is the only one which he has really managed to put into effect and deliver upon.

It would seem to be a cost free policy pledge for Labour to announce it would scrap UKCA in Government. A vote winner amongst the business community, most of whom would be perfectly happy complying with just the CE standard.

Of course, it would mean saying the UKCA standard is inferior to the CE standard which is not just used by countries within the Single Market, but by many others around the world …

“The name’s Mordaunt, Prime Minister, Penelope Mordaunt, acting Sub-Lieutenant, Royal Naval Reserve; MoS, DIT …” “I’ve got a thousand yard vacant stare. And I’m not afraid to use it.” “And an ego to match that of Lord Frost.”

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Right Honourable Penelope Mordaunt, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth North

“Hello Atlanta! Lovely to be here in Florida! State of Snowbirds, Sunbirds, and Stayers!”

“Anyone want a Stannah Stairlifts concession?”

“I hope you enjoy your rubber chicken. $20 for members and $30 for non members.”

“You’d have to pay a hell lot more for lunch with me back in Good Old Blighty.”

“Got any gum, chums?”

A luncheon: With the Right Honourable Penny Mordaunt MP, Minister of State for Trade Policy at the Carter Center’s Cyprus Room.

The Minister will discuss not only the trade and trade policy position of the United Kingdom following its departure from the EU, but also the broader mission of the UK as a global force for good. Partnering with the United States, the UK’s independent trade policy can underpin progress in the spheres of defence, security, and diplomacy to achieve outcomes consistent with shared values.

Minister Mordaunt previously served as International Development Secretary from 2017 to 2019 and Defence Secretary in 2019 – a first woman to hold this post. Her speech, followed by moderated audience Q&A, will be part of Minister Mordaunt’s first official trip to the US.

The cost for the in-person luncheon is $20 for Council members, and $30 for non-members.

Trade, Diplomacy, And Defence: The Foundations of British Prosperity

All joking aside …

Mordaunt, Minister of State at the Department for International Trade, is a swivel eyed Brexiteer and infamous Turkophobe.

Mordaunt is the ideal replacement for Lord Frost, who until Saturday 18th December was her counterpart at the Cabinet Office.

“There’ll be no more over manning at DIT on my watch,” said Mordaunt, sardonically.

“I’ll have no man as my peer in this Department.”

“I’m a Walther PPK, 7.65 mm. All the delivery of a brick through a plate-glass window.”

“The CIA swear they can’t get enough of my British accent!”

“And everyone loves a sailor, Moneypenny …”

Biden needs to get on the Global Britain love train or be left standing in the station as we negotiate trade deals with each of the 50 States of the United States of America, individually.”

Who needs Washington, anyway? We’ve got one of those Oop North, somewhere or other.”

“Up Pompey!”

And, now, for the epilogue …

UK can’t stop Turkey joining EU!” says Penny Mordaunt.

Vote Leave embroiled in race row over Turkey security threat claims.

Murderers and terrorists from Turkey will head to UK, said Mordaunt.

David Cameron suggests defence minister is lying over Turkey joining EU.

Tory leadership hopeful Penny Mordaunt is humiliated in new Channel 4 Benedict Cumberbatch Brexit drama over Turkey immigration gaffe.

“Boris Johnson has tried to distance himself from controversial claims made by the Vote Leave campaign about Turkey’s attempts to join the EU.

The former foreign secretary was making a speech on Brexit at JCB’s headquarters in Staffordshire when Channel 4 News’s Michael Crick challenged him on his views on immigration.

Crick referred to campaign material put out by Vote Leave ahead of the 2016 referendum which “suggested 80 million Turks would come to this country if we stayed in the EU, which was absurd then and is absurd now”.

Mr Johnson, who was a key figurehead in the Vote Leave campaign, said: “Actually, I didn’t say anything about Turkey in the referendum… I didn’t say a thing about Turkey.”

He added: “Since I made no remarks, I can’t defend them… I didn’t make any remarks about Turkey.”

We’ve checked the record and we don’t think that’s true. There are several examples of Mr Johnson discussing Turkey during the referendum campaign.”

Johnson falsely claims he didn’t say anything about Turkey during referendum

“Imagine Britain … a force for good promoting democracy and civil rights and free trade between nations, dealing with the debt burden at the heart of any strategy for overseas development …”

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“Diana, friends, colleagues, this year we meet as the opposition. Next year, the British people willing, an end to 18 years of the Tories and we will meet as the new Labour government of Britain. (Applause) It is exciting!

But it is also a great responsibility. ‘A chance to serve – that is all we ask.’ John Smith’s final words from his final speech the night before he died. We owe a debt of inspiration to John Smith, and a debt of honour to Neil Kinnock. (Applause) I did not begin new Labour; Neil did. I intend to repay them both in full. All I ask is the chance to serve. And at the time of the next election there will be just one thousand days until the new millennium, a thousand days to prepare for a thousand years.

As a father, as a leader, as a member of the human family, I ask this question of Britain’s future. We live in an era of extraordinary, revolutionary change at work, at home, through technology, through the million marvels of modern science. The possibilities are exciting. But its challenge is clear. How do we create in Britain a new age of achievement in which all of the people – not just a few but all of the people – can share?

For all the people or for a few? That is the difference between us and the Conservative Party that governs Britain today. That is the choice before us. That is the challenge of the 21st century. I want to lead Britain into this age of achievement, and today I want to set before you how.

But first we should welcome all the representatives, the ambassadors from round the world. I would want to welcome in particular at this time the Israeli Ambassador and the representative of the Palestinian people. (Applause) You are here together and you have our prayers that the tears and the bloodshed of the past few days can once again be ended and peace restored.

Here, too, are those from all the communities in Northern Ireland. I would like to say this personally to the people there. No leader with this nation’s interests at heart could do anything other than see this peace process through. With the Irish government, with the parties in Northern Ireland, I can assure you it will be every much a priority for me as for John Major. All the force and energy I have will be bent towards it. We have been responsible in our actions over the peace process from the outset; we will continue to be so now. (Applause)

I say this to Sinn Fein and, after events of the last 24 hours, to Loyalist groups as well. You have your chance to take the path of peace. It is your duty to take it as members of the human race. Honour it and you shall play your part. Fail in that duty and I swear to you, the search for justice and reconciliation will carry on without you. The choice is yours. (Applause)

My friends, I would like, too, to give apologies for one absentee today. The National Executive invited Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma to be our guest here this week. For reasons everyone will understand she cannot be with us. Let us hope to invite her here next year, a free citizen and an example to democrats everywhere. (Applause)

You must be careful with the flashlights, it is making my eyes red! (Laughter and applause) It has been a funny year for me. First, it was Stalin. Then it was Kim Il Sung. And now it is the devil with the demon eyes. Can’t we just go back to Bambi? (Laughter and applause) Or I have a better idea – maybe Kim Il Sung’s official title – the Great Wise Leader, President for Life, Dearly Beloved and Sagacious Leader. Laughter) Why not? It is what John Prescott calls me! (Applause) Sometimes.

I will tell you something. In John Prescott I have the best deputy any leader could have. (Applause) If I am fighting in the jungle there is nobody I would rather have with me than John Prescott, and if John Major is fighting in the jungle there is nobody I would rather have him with than Michael Heseltine!

I ask you, this Tory government – has there ever been a government in this country’s history that has put itself before the British people with less to merit its re-election than this one? Just mouth the words ‘five more Tory years’ and you feel your senses and reason repulsed by what they have done to our country. (Applause) Look at them – the tax-cutting party that gave us the biggest tax rises in peacetime history; the law-and-order party that doubled crime and gave us a Home Secretary in court more often than the people he is supposed to be locking up; the farmer’s party that gave us BSE; the party that set up the Scott Report, then, when it found ministerial deceit, tried to ignore it and would have got away with it but for the brilliance of that man Robin Cook. (Applause)

And then Nolan – cash for questions, and this morning more revelations. Do you know, the Tories changed the law to let Mr Hamilton put his case? Well, we will change the law to make the Tories clean up their act. (Applause)To coin a phrase, we will be tough on sleaze and tough on the causes of sleaze. We will ask that Nolan Committee to investigate political funding, and we will legislate so as to make the Tories tell us where the money comes from for these negative and deceitful advertising campaigns. (Applause)

I say this, too, to John Major. If he wants to be seen as an honest man, fight an honest campaign. (Applause) By the way, Matthew Harding sends his regards. Here he is, this Prime Minister, so weak, so utterly incapable of stamping his authority on the government he nominally leads, that he has given birth to the first ‘ism’ in politics to denote not the existence of a political philosophy but the absence of one. ‘Majorism’ – holding your party together while your country falls apart. (Applause)

Still, he has his secret weapon. And I have mine. Kenneth Clarke! Mr Feelgood Factor! Let us tell Kenneth Clarke and John Major, the real feelgood factor will arrive when the people of this country say goodbye to this government for good. (Applause)

Time to change. The Tories never did have the best vision for Britain. They just took the best words – freedom, choice, opportunity, aspiration, ambition. I can vividly recall the exact moment that I knew the last election was lost. I was canvassing in the Midlands on an ordinary suburban estate. I met a man polishing his Ford Sierra, self-employed electrician, Dad always voted Labour. He used to vote Labour, he said, but he bought his own home, he had set up his own business, he was doing quite nicely, so he said I’ve become a Tory. He was not rich but he was doing better than he did, and as far as he was concerned, being better off meant being Tory too.

In that moment the basis of our failure – the reason why a whole generation has grown up under the Tories – became plain to me. You see, people judge us on their instincts about what they believe our instincts to be. And that man polishing his car was clear: his instincts were to get on in life, and he thought our instincts were to stop him. But that was never our history or our purpose.

I know in my own constituency, the miners in 1945 who voted Labour did so so that their sons would not have to go down the pit and work in the conditions that they had. (Applause) And in 1964 their children voted Labour because they saw the next generation’s chance to go to university and do better than their parents had done. The true radical mission of the Labour Party, new and old, is this: not to hold people back but to help them get on – all the people. (Applause)

Is that not the essence of what we believe? Each generation doing better than the last, the heritage of hope passed from parents to their children – now, for the first time in this generation, at risk under this Conservative government. Our task is to restore that hope, to build a new age of achievement in a new and different world.

Today we compete in the era of global markets, and I say this to our Conservative opponents. There is no future for Britain as a low-wage, low-skill, low-technology economy. (Applause) We will compete on the basis of quality or not at all. This means a stable economy, long-term investment, the enterprise of our people set free.

First, let us get the fundamentals right. Look at the Tories – two recessions, one of which wiped out a third of our manufacturing base; borrowed their way into the record books; the pound devalued; North Sea oil money gone; all the money from asset sales gone. It is sometimes said, you know, that the Tories are cruel but they are efficient. In fact, they are the most feckless, irresponsible, incompetent managers of the British economy in this country’s history. (Applause)

Labour will be the party of sound finance and good housekeeping. World interest rates and inflation rates are low; in Britain we will keep them this way. There will be defined targets set and kept to. Losing control of public finance is not radical, it is just reckless, and we will not do it. Gordon Brown, the Iron Chancellor (Applause) – it can be a tough job and he does it brilliantly. They say it is easier to get past security at our Conference without a pass than to get a spending commitment past Gordon! And in case anyone is in any doubt, that is how it is going to stay.

We need a tax regime, too, though, that is fair and encourages work and business. Sure, the few at the top have become wealthy under the Tories. But they have put up the taxes of ordinary families in Britain by the largest amount in peacetime history. We are not going to add to their burden. Those families have suffered enough. Instead, a new Labour government should be trying to get tax down for the lowest income earners, some of them paying 80-90 per cent marginal tax rates. If incentives through lower tax rates is the key for the director on £200,000 a year, then why should it not work for people on £5,000 or £10,000 a year? (Applause)

Next, in this new world many more people will be self employed or in small businesses, and we are going to help them. The Federation of Small Businesses has just welcomed our programme as the basis of a real partnership between a Labour government and small businesses. So move over again the Tories; Labour is the party of small businesses in Britain today. (Applause)

We will give Britain the modern, integrated transport network, built in partnership between public and private finance, and restoring a unified system of railways with a publicly-owned, publicly-accountable British Rail at its core. (Applause) Good for Britain and good for business.

Leading Britain into an age of achievement means Britain leading in Europe, and for business and for Britain we will build that new, constructive relationship with our European partners. Let me make one thing plain. I will not scrap Britain’s veto in Europe. Our options on a single currency should remain open, to be determined according to our national interest. Any change will only come with the full consent of the people. But make no mistake: leave Europe, or retreat to its sidelines, as these Tories want to do, and this country will lose its influence and its inward investment. It would be a disaster for jobs and for industry. The Tories may glory in perpetual isolation but I say that is not standing up for Britain; that is a betrayal of British interests. (Applause)

With a good relationship in Europe we can get more out of it. Britain has the Presidency of the European Union in the first half of 1998. One of our key priorities in that Presidency will be the completion of the single market. Today, even in opposition, I set a deadline – June 1998, the end of the British Presidency, for the completion of the single market in Europe. And I will begin discussions with other European leaders now so that we can get ready to meet that deadline. New opportunities for our firms and new jobs for our people. Our aim is that by the end of the first term of a new Labour government in gas and electricity, in telecommunications, in public procurement, in financial services, we will have a genuine single market in Europe open to British goods and services. That is the way to get the best out of Europe for Britain. (Applause)

And a new age of achievement in our industry, too. Support for manufacturing as well as for services; support for research and development, for science and engineering; and a new era of industrial relations in Britain. There will be fairness, not favours, for employers and employees alike. The Labour government today is not the political arm of anyone other than the British people. But let us settle these arguments about industrial laws once and for good. There will be no return to the 70s, but there should and there will be basic civil rights for all at work legislated on early in a Labour government. (Applause)

What are they? They are merely the due claim of civilisation – a statutory minimum wage. Like every other industrial country the world over, we will have one under a Labour government in Britain. (Applause) We will be part of the European social chapter, as every other government, Tory or Labour, is in the rest of Europe. There will be a right for any individual to join a trade union (Applause) and if a majority of the workforce wanted, for the union to represent those people. (Applause) Basic human rights.

On GCHQ I hear people say we have changed our mind. I have not. I have made a personal commitment to those people to restore their trade union rights in full and I will keep it. (Applause)You applaud, and rightly. But let me tell you something that I believe in the end is even more important. I make a plea to both sides of industry. A couple of weeks ago I visited the JCB plant in Staffordshire. The man who runs it, in the past at least, donated to the Tory party. I don’t give a damn. He has got good union relations there, the work force is valued and invested in, stakeholders in the enterprise, the product is the best. That is the future. We are on the same side, we are in the same team.

I visited Raytheon Jets in North Wales, too, not so far from here. A plant which the unions helped, with management, to save from relocation to the United States. I ask in the name of this country’s future – forget the past, no more bosses versus workers – we are on the same side, the same team, and Britain united will win! (Applause)

These are the foundations of this new age of achievement. And for all our people it can be made a reality. There is only one lasting route to higher living standards, better wages, more secure jobs in today’s world. We will win by our brains and our skills or not at all. In Britain we are still in the 30-30-40 economy: 30 per cent do very well, 30 per cent just getting by, 40 per cent struggling or worse.

When the Tories talk about the spirit of enterprise they mean a few self-made millionaires. Well, best of luck to them. But there should be a spirit of enterprise and achievement on the shop floor, in the office as well: in the 16 year-old who starts as an office girl with the realistic chance of ending up as the office manager; in the young graduate with the confidence to take initiatives; in the secretary who takes time out to learn a new language and comes back to search for a new and better job. These people have enterprise within them. They have talent and potential within them. Ask me my three main priorities for government and I tell you: education, education and education. (Applause)

The first wonder of the world is the mind of a child. I sometimes sit reading a newspaper, watching TV, and you look up and you see your children at a computer, and you marvel at what they can do, using that computer as easily as we would read a book. Yet we are 35th in the world league of education standards today – 35th. They say give me the boy at seven, I’ll show you the man at 70. Well give me the education system that is 35th in the world today and I will give you the economy that is 35th in the world tomorrow. (Applause)

So let us set about this task at every level – radical improvement and reform for our children; a teaching profession trained, able to stand alongside the best in the world and valued as such. No to Tory nursery vouchers, yes to proper nursery places for all our children. (Applause) Tomorrow David Blunkett will set out how to ensure that every primary school child leaves school able to read to the adequate standard. (Applause) A literacy guaranteed by establishing three-week intensive literacy summer schools for all those falling behind, with the aim of ensuring that every 11 year-old is up to the standard in reading and adding up that they need.

It is a choice of priorities, isn’t it? The Tories choose to spend those millions of pounds on the assisted places scheme to subsidise a small number of children at private school. Under Labour that scheme will be phased out, that money will be used to make sure that every five, six and seven-year-old is in a class of a size of 30 or under. Those are the priorities for us. (Applause)

There will be no return to the 11-plus. The comprehensive system will stay, modernised for today’s world. (Applause) Modernised, taking account of children’s different abilities but not setting them apart. Continual assessment, targets set, instant action where they are not met. There should be zero tolerance of failure in Britain’s schools. That is if we want to be serious about our task. I will tell you my vision of the future. I would like a state education system in Britain so good, so attractive, that the parents choose to put behind us the educational apartheid of the past, private and state, and I do not believe anything would do more to break down the class divides that have no place in a modern country in the 21st century. (Applause)

Education should not be about wealth. And the age of achievement will be built on the new technology. Last year I announced an agreement with British Telecom to cable up schools, colleges, universities, libraries to the information superhighway for free. To their credit, the cable companies have followed suit. That was an historic beginning. But it was only a beginning. Today we go further. The cable industry and British Telecom have now given us a commitment to keep costs to our schools for access to the Internet and superhighway as low and as predictable as possible, and they have given a commitment to achieve real reductions in prices for those schools.

We have agreed with them to put this into practice. So we have got the wires, we have got the low-cost connections. But now we need more – the hardware, the computers themselves. In January, again even in opposition, we appointed Dennis Stevenson, a leading businessman in the country, to chair a commission of independent experts to examine how we get that computer hardware and the training for teachers to use it. His final report, to be published later this year, will lay down the third building block to show how in time no child will be without access to a computer and no school unable to use them properly.

The cables for free, the connections at low cost, plans for computers, and then the final piece. What matters in the end is the educational material that comes down from those cables into those computers and into the mind of the child. Just as schools have to buy books, they will pay for the various courses and services on offer. But we are going to make sure the quality is high. Competition will ensure that prices are low. In government we will be inviting bids for a franchise to provide the specialised education network that the superhighway needs. Our aim is for every school to have access to the information superhighway, the computers to deliver it, the education programmes to go on it. With the university for industry, for adult skills, this adds up to a national grid for learning for Britain. That is the age of achievement come alive. (Applause)

Just think of it – Britain, the skills superpower of the world. Why not? Why can’t we do it? Achievement, aspiration fulfilled for all our people. Because a great people equals a Great Britain. Run a country where a few winners take all rather than all of us as winners, and see what happens. It is not right, it is not in people’s interests. Huge costs of unemployment, crime, social decay, higher taxes to pay for it. Welfare bills doubled under the Tories, even as poverty rises. And the type of society we have – what kind of world is it where fathers who do not work have sons who do not work, where the young take to drugs and the debased culture of despair because no job beckons on leaving school? What kind of world is it where there are more second homes but more homeless and the streets paved with fear? (Applause) What kind of world is it where the best education, jobs and skills are available only to the few? It is a world in which some can succeed. But I ask you, is it a world of which anyone can be proud? That, Mr Major, is the moral question of our times. (Applause)

When I was growing up the family was strong, the sense of social responsibility was strong, crime was low. There was a national ethos and spirit that had won us the war and stayed with us in peace. What was strong then is fragile now. National purpose faltering, our feeling of collective responsibility starved of expression, the family unsupported. It is right to want to get on. It is right to want to do well. But if all we have is what we own, not what we share, we are all the losers for it. (Applause)

Today I offer you, and we offer the country, a new vision. If we are to build this new age of achievement, you and I and all of us together must build first the decent society to deliver it. A society in which every individual is valued, every person given the chance to fulfil their potential; a society to which we contribute and which then contributes to us; a society based not on outdated prejudices but on the common duty of humanity, our belief that we owe an obligation to each other to improve the lives of us all; a society of opportunity; a society of responsibility; a society which gives to us because we give to that society. History will call it the decent society, the new age of achievement in Britain.

These will be its principles. We will respect family life. We will develop it and encourage it in any way that we can, for strong families are the foundation of strong communities. We will provide opportunities for those without. As a first step, we will implement a Programme to take 250,000 young people off benefit and into work, funded by a one-off windfall levy on the excess profits of the privatised monopoly utilities. (Applause)  We will put a roof over the heads of the homeless by releasing those capital receipts from the sale of council houses and let homes be built for our people. (Applause) We will cherish and enhance the environment, ease congestion, reduce pollution, develop our quality of life, and in the countryside as much as cities and towns.

In return for those opportunities, responsibility. I am proud that new Labour has taken the mantle of the party of law and order in Britain today. (Applause) I began that process, Jack Straw has carried it on. I simply say to people who tell us it is wrong to want to crack down on violent crime, drug pushers, anti-social neighbours, hooligans – try living next door to them. (Applause)

It is the weak and the vulnerable who suffer most from crime. So we will be tough on the causes of crime, but tough on crime too. You saw in that film review of the year the day when John Major and I visited Dunblane together. It was a searing, chilling and dreadful day. Conservative MPs complain that our response has been emotional. If they had been in that gym, if they had talked to those parents, sitting on those tiny chairs where once their children had sat, they would have been emotional, too. I believe that we should ban the private ownership and possession of handguns. (Applause)

We will do more. We will give the disabled the civil rights that the Tories have denied them. Nobody should be excluded from this age of achievement. We will work with the voluntary sector, and tomorrow David Blunkett will announce our plans for a national network of millennium volunteers.

We will provide security in old age. Let me say this to you: previous Labour governments did their duty by British pensioners, and so will the next Labour government. (Applause) The review that we have announced will be set up under a Labour government on the terms we have announced to see how we fulfil that duty for modern times. It will review also the whole issue of community care where those elderly people have to sell their homes to pay the cost of nursing care. (Applause) That I can say. But I will not make promises on money until I know they can be kept. That is our guiding rule; there can be no exceptions to it, and I ask you to understand that. Making promises we do not keep does not help anybody. (Applause)

One thing I can promise to pensioners and to everyone else gladly – gladly. The next Labour government will scrap the Tory internal market of the National Health Service and will improve and renew the health service as a decent public service for the people. (Applause) Now you can see why it is worth winning, why it is worth making a difference. No more hospitals fighting hospitals. No more doctor competing with doctor. No more bogus red tape and expensive bureaucracy, and, in place of a Tory who does not care about the health service, Chris Smith, who does. (Applause) And we will improve it, not just keep it as it is. Of course things will be done in a different way. It is a new world. There is no switching the clock back on anything. New challenges, new ideas. But ours can be, and will be, a great radical, reforming government, giving Britain the welfare state it needs in the 21st century.

The great reforms should not stop with the welfare state. Let us modernise government itself so that it serves the interests of the people. (Applause) Not bigger government; better government. So local people decide how to run local services. A parliament for Scotland, an assembly for Wales, legislated for in the first year of a Labour government. And let me say this to you – achievable precisely because we will have the clear consent of the Scottish and Welsh people before doing it. (Applause) A directly elected authority for London, our capital city. (Applause) Local democracy reborn, the quango state in the dustbin of history where it belongs. (Applause)

More than that. Today I can make another announcement on our plans for the National Lottery. It has been a great success, but has all the money gone to good causes? No. We want to fund specific environment, education and public health projects through the proceeds of the National Lottery. I want the people’s money to go on the people’s priorities. (Applause) Equipping all our teachers to use the new technology that will improve children’s education; working with the voluntary sector; insulating homes; supporting national talent and potential; reclaiming public space for pedestrians. The millennium stream of lottery money, one-fifth of the total, should be focused on giving Britain a head start in the 21st century, and under us it will be.

There is more that we can do with government. If Clem Attlee came back today he would think pretty much everything was changed, including a few things about this, I suppose. But not the way that we run government or Parliament. We spend £300 billion a year in the public sector. But a lot of what government does is not about helping us achieve; it is actually stopping us achieving. If you are a young person, for example, leaving school, leaving home, looking for a job, you have to contact 11 government offices, not one. Finding care for an elderly relative can take four stops, not one. It can take you two weeks to get your first Income Support payment, and then one in seven will be wrong. It takes a month to get your first Child Benefit cheque. A small engineering firm in Blackpool spends as much on dealing with inspectors as it would hiring an extra member of staff. And it is getting worse.

The fraud in the system? Probably as much as £8 billion a year or more. We will therefore make it a priority to introduce a programme to reform this system of government. Our aim is to co-ordinate services across government departments, using the advantages of the technology now available to provide a modern and up-to-date service for the customers of the state. Government for the people, not government for government. (Applause)

But we should reform Parliament too. One reform we have already achieved – more women Members of Parliament than ever before. (Applause) Another we can – reforming Prime Minister’s Question Time so that it actually does Parliament credit; ending the greatest symbol of privilege of any democracy in the world by ensuring that hereditary peers are not voting in the House of Lords. (Applause)

We will clean up the political funding in Britain. It is surely right we know where these types of money come from. I simply say that it is important that we ensure that everyone recognises their responsibility to make our politics better.

The age of achievement, at home and abroad. We will be strong in defence, in NATO, with our allies the United States; we will be the bridge across the Atlantic between them and Europe. But we will also fight for democracy and civil rights the world over. (Applause) There is no greater pride to me than our total unequivocal, unrelenting battle to end apartheid and see Nelson Mandela freed from his chains. So we salute the Bob Hugheses, the Joan Lestors, the Neil and Glenys Kinnocks who played their part in that, and we put to one side the nausea we felt at those Tories who had propped up apartheid and worn shirts calling for Nelson Mandela to be hanged – yes, hanged – then flocked to be seen with him. (Applause)

Imagine Britain a leading player in Europe once more, a force for good promoting democracy and civil rights and free trade between nations, dealing with the debt burden at the heart of any strategy for overseas development, helping fashion the United Nations and the institutions of international co-operation for a new world.

It can happen. It can happen. The British people want change; I am sure of that. But they need to trust us. I want them to trust us.

Recently, the boss of one of Britain’s biggest and most successful companies said to me that companies do not just have prospectuses, they have performance contracts too: a contract that sets out targets and priorities and allows public and company to measure success or failure. And he dared me to publish a performance contract for a new Labour government. Today I do that. These are the vows that I make to my country.

By the end of the term of a five-year Labour government:

  • I vow that we will have increased the proportion of our national income we spend on education
  • I vow that we will have reduced the proportion we spend on the welfare bills of social failure
  • I vow that we will have reduced the spending on health service bureaucracy and increased it on patient care
  • I vow that we will have cut the numbers of long-term unemployed and cut by over half the number of young people unemployed (Applause)
  • I vow that we will have halved the time it takes young offenders to get to court
  • I vow that we will keep government borrowing and inflation within the low and prudent targets we set within the economic cycle
  • I vow that the promises that we make on tax we will keep
  • I vow that class sizes will be down in primary schools and standards up in all schools
  • I vow that, with the consent of the people, we will have devolved power to Scotland, Wales and the regions of England and
  • I vow that we will have built a new and constructive relationship in Europe.

This is my covenant with the British people. Judge me upon it. The buck stops here. For the future, not the past, for the many, not the few, for trust, not betrayal, for the age of achievement, not the age of decline – that is my covenant with the British people.

I can make this promise – I can make it because you have helped me transform our party into a great party of reform for the modern age. Four hundred thousand members, and growing! A new constitution that we can actually, leader included, quote in our speeches. A party open and in touch. New Labour, new members. And I am proud of them. But let me say this to you. I don’t forget that this party only survived for new members to join because the old members stuck with it through thick and thin. (Applause)

Let me try to explain this to you. I was not born Labour, I became Labour. When you look back on your past you try to think of the things that shaped you. My father was a very ambitious man. He was ambition personified, successful, he was a go-getter. One morning I woke to be told that he had had a stroke in the middle of the night and might not live through the day. My whole world then fell apart. And it taught me something. It taught me the value of the family, because my mother worked for three years to help him talk and walk again. But it taught me something else too. When that happened the fair-weather friends went; that is not unusual. But the real friends, the true friends, stayed with us; they helped us and they stuck with us for no other reason than that it was the right thing to do.

I do not pretend to you that I had a deprived childhood; I did not. But I learned a sense of values in my childhood. A year ago or more, John Prescott and I went up to Sam McCluskie’s funeral. A lot of you will remember Sam McCluskie, he was a great guy, great stalwart of the Labour movement. I think it would be fair to say that we did not always absolutely agree on everything! And as I left the church service, one of the sisters came up to me and pressed a little strip of red ribbon into my hand – it is something I keep with me still – and said this is a keepsake that Sam used to have and I want you to have it. I was embarrassed and I turned round to her and said look, I didn’t know Sam that well and, quite honestly, a lot of the time we didn’t see eye to eye. And she said to me I know that, but in your souls you want the same thing, a better world.

That is it. That is what we believe in. Yes, we are a democratic socialist party. Indeed, it says so in the words of Clause IV, the new Clause IV, the one I drafted and the party overwhelmingly supported. (Applause) But it stands in a tradition bigger than that – bigger than European social democracy, bigger than any ‘ism,’ bigger than any of us. It stands in a tradition whose flame was alive in human hearts long before the Labour Party was ever thought of; a tradition far above ideology but not beyond ideals.

We are not a sect or a cult. We are part of the broad movement of human progress, the marriage of ambition with justice, the constant striving of the human spirit to do better, to be better. It is that which separates us from the Conservatives. And it was there long ago, there even when the ancient prophets of the Old Testament first pleaded the cause of the marginal, the powerless, the disenfranchised. It was there when Wilberforce fought the slave trade against the vested interests of Tory money. It was there when the trade union movement began as an instrument against abuse in the work place. It was there when the young Jack Jones went to fight in the Spanish civil war for another people’s freedom out of nothing more than the goodness of his heart. (Applause)

It was there when we said, having conquered the evil of Hitler, that the welfare state must be built so that the destitution of the 30s never returned to our country. And it is here now, in this room, as we build around the Labour Party the new force for progress in British politics to bring in the new age of achievement for all our people. A thousand days – yes – to prepare for that thousand years.

Consider a thousand years of British history and what it tells us. The first parliament of the world, the industrial revolution ahead of its time, an empire, the largest the world has ever known, relinquished in peace, the invention of virtually every scientific device of the modern world, two World Wars in which our country was bled dry, in which two generations perished but which in the defeat of the most evil force ever let loose by man showed the most sustained example of bravery in human history.

This is our nation, our characteristics – common sense, standing up for the underdog, fiercely independent. But the outstanding British quality is courage – not just physical bravery but the courage to think anew, to break convention when convention is holding us back, to innovate while others conform; to do it our way. I say to the British people: have the courage to change now. We are coming home to you. We are back as the party of the people, and that is why the people are coming back to us. When Alan Howarth has the courage to tear up the ties of a lifetime because he can no longer stomach today’s Tory party and he sees his home as new Labour, I say welcome to him, and welcome to those others. (Applause)

When businessmen say to me, ‘Tony, I never thought I’d be doing this but here’s a big cheque to help you beat the most dishonest, negative campaign in history,’ I say thank you to them. We need that. (Applause) And when former Tory voters write and tell me they never thought in a million years that they would vote Labour but they hate the Tories and they think we are worth more than a shot, I write back and say welcome, thank you. Thank you for giving us that chance. Thank you for seeing the changes we have made are real. Thank you for having the courage to change your vote. And when a 76 year-old widow from Liverpool, a party member since before I was born, sends me a Christmas card that says ‘Tony, please, for me, win,’ then I tell you we have a duty to win, a duty for her and millions like her. (Applause)

I don’t care where you are coming from; it is where your country is going that matters. If you believe in what I believe, then join our team. Labour has come home to you, so come home to us. Labour’s coming home! (Applause) Seventeen years of hurt never stopped us dreaming. Labour’s coming home! (Applause) As we did in 1945 and 1964, I know that was then, but it could be again – Labour’s coming home. (Applause) Labour’s coming home.

The people are coming home. Because Britain is their team and they are part of it, and they know that if we unleash the potential of our people Britain comes alive with the new energy, the new ideas, the new leadership, and Britain can take on the world and win. We will be envied throughout the world, not just because of our castles and our palaces and our glorious history, but because we gave back that heritage of hope to the generations, we turned round this country by the will of the people in unity with the party of the people, and we built this age of achievement in our lifetime.

This is our mission for Britain today. We knew we could do better. And we did. We knew we could be better, we the Labour Party. And we are. Britain, too, can do better. Britain can be better than this. A thousand days to prepare for a thousand years – not just turning a page in history but writing a new book, building the greatness of our nation through the greatness of its people. Think of the possibility of change. No more squandering the nation’s assets. No more sleaze. No more cash for questions. No more lies. No more broken promises. I say to the Tories: enough is enough! Be done, be gone! (Applause) The glory days of Britain are not over, but the Tory days of government are. (Applause)

We have the programme. We have the people to make decent change in our country. Let us call our nation now to its destiny. Let us lead it to our new age of achievement and build for us, for our children, their children, a Britain – a Britain united to win in the 21st century. (Prolonged applause)”

Tony Blair, live, addressing Labour’s National Conference on October 1st 1996

Text of Blair’s address, Blackpool on 1st October 1996

40% of 100% of the British electorate, across different groups including across supporters of both the Labour and Conservative parties, say pollution and climate change are a big issue for Britain, topping the list of concerns …

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“Concern about the environment and climate change has reached its highest-ever score in this month’s Ipsos MORI Issues Index – likely an impact of the COP26 conference. There is also widespread agreement on this priority across different groups including across supporters of both the Labour and Conservative parties, although younger people stand out as putting COVID-19 marginally ahead.”

Mike Clemence, a researcher at Ipsos MORI

That 40% of a 100% of the British electorate in November 2021 is greater than the 42.2% vote share, on a 67.52% turnout, Boris Johnson won in the General Election of December 2019.

  • Four in ten say issues around pollution and climate change are a big issue for Britain; the highest score recorded for this issue since 1988 and just the third time it has topped the list of national concerns
  • Over a quarter see COVID-19 as a big issue, the same level as in October
  • Lack of faith in politicians and politics enters the top ten but remains a smaller-scale concern

Ipsos MORI’s Issues Index is conducted monthly and provides an overview of the key issues concerning the country.

Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,001 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain.

The answers are spontaneous responses, and participants are not prompted with any answers.

It’ll cost yah, guvnor, can’t get the labour, the materials …especially the wood

George Monbiot glueing his ear to the tarmac of the M6 …

Red tape is good for the environment

What if it’s a big hoax …

London Labour has by lengthy custom and practice accepted the principle of standing down candidates at election time in order not to harm the electoral chances of parties with which Labour shares much in common …

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Louise Haigh, Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary:

“It’s not my job to be a persuader for the union.”

“And men and women then a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not there,
And hold their adulthoods cheap whiles any speaks
That campaigned with us upon the 1st of May.”

“Yesterday (Monday 29th November) the opposition Labour party had a reshuffle of its shadow cabinet.

This would not usually be anything of note for this blog, as it is the stuff of politics rather than of policy and law.

But there was one change that caught the eye.

The shadow Northern Irish secretary Louise Haigh was switched to the transport brief.

This was, to say the least, a shame.

Haigh had developed expertise and insights into the post-Brexit problems for Northern Ireland and the border dividing the island of Ireland.

She made a particular point of visiting Northern Ireland and Ireland regularly, so as to listen and understand the issues surrounding the Northern Irish Agreement.

She also had not only read the Good Friday Agreement (unlike some ministers), but she also understood it.

There was no better opposition politician to be in place while during reckless, erratic antics of Brexit minister David Frost and his constant threats to trigger Article 16 for no good reason.

And now, all that is lost, and the opposition front bench has to start again.”

No UK political leaders of any party seem to be taking Northern Ireland seriously

“A Labour government in Britain would remain neutral on the question of Irish unity in any future Border poll, shadow Northern Ireland secretary Louise Haigh has said. She described Labour as a unionist party but said the Belfast Agreement meant that the British government should not act as a persuader on one side of the argument.

“The principal of consent is still very much intact. It is only for the people of Northern Ireland to determine their own constitutional future and polls still suggest there is still a very firm majority in favour of remaining in the United Kingdom,” she told GB News.

“It’s not my job to be a persuader for the union, that was an important principle that led up to the Good Friday Agreement. One of the important principles was that Britain should not have any strategic or selfish economic interest in the constitutional status of Northern Ireland. It’s up to the people of Northern Ireland to determine their own constitutional future.”

Labour leader Keir Starmer said in July that he would be “on the side of unionists” arguing for Northern Ireland to remain in the UK.”

The Irish Times of 23rd November 2021

I wonder if Londoner born and bred, Starmer understands that the Irish diaspora vote has a tendency to trend towards Labour in places like Birmingham and that saying Labour would campaign in a border poll with the ultra Unionists has the potential to lose my party way more votes in elections than it might ever gain?

Was his declaration of intent more rather pathetic wooing of the Red Wall Tory vote that seems designed to alienate Remain supporters; liberals; small business people; One Nation Conservatives; 2015 General Election Tory voters, 25% of whom are believed to have voted Remain in 2016; trades unionists …

Is Claire Ainsley’s and Deborah Mattinson’s post General Election book to be entitled “50 Ways to Lose a General Election” or, perhaps, “Keir Starmer: Our Part in his Downfall”?

Although surely even they would not include a chapter on how to woo support in Northern Ireland, the White House and on the Hill by siding with ultra Unionists in Northern Ireland? A policy doing wonders for Boris Johnson and Lord Frost.

The Corbynistas, predominantly located in London, bang on about Israel/Palestine, but here in Birmingham it has been a matter of little or no interest amongst the Muslim community in my city, to my knowledge for decades.

In Birmingham, it is not a pukka (God, those pies are awful!) Labour Party meeting if a Muslim chap with links to, if not property in Pakistan does not bring up Kashmir, usually at some length.

Invariably inviting the traditional, world weary response from the meeting chair, “Sorry, comrade, is there a question in there?”

Yvette Cooper came here in 2015 during the Labour leadership election and found a goodly amount of the Question and Answer session in her campaign meeting taken up by a rambling comment about Kashmir. I think the gentleman in question did not quite get around to seeking her position on independence for Kashmir.

Labour has a decades old policy, agreed at conference, just like the one it has on Israel/Palestine that Corbyn did not get around to changing.

And I surely do not need to tell you about my party’s commitment to pursuit of peace in Northern Ireland?

“The Irish interest in Birmingham, it has included electioneering for the Irish general elections in recent decades past, baffles many, but it reflects the centuries old connections between the settlement and the country.”

GFA is not just for Ireland, but for Birmingham and little boys and girls, everywhere …

Traditionally, Labour’s sister party in Northern Ireland is the Social Democratic and Labour Party.

The SDLP has in the past sat on whichever side of the House of Commons that the Labour Party is sitting and currently has two out of the Northern Ireland seats at Westminster.

The Labour Party does not organise and campaign in Northern Ireland for elections there. Although the party does have individual members registered there.

“Labour opponents of so-called progressive alliances interpret the party’s own rule as saying it must under its constitution stand candidates in all parliamentary seats, in either general elections or byelections, except in exceptional circumstances. But this is disputed by advocates of co-operation who say no such rule exists.”

Opposition parties ‘can oust Tories’ if they cooperate on seats

London Labour has a long standing, informal agreement with the SDLP not to stand candidates at elections in Northern Ireland.

London Labour has by lengthy custom and practice accepted the principle of standing down candidates at election time in order not to harm the electoral chances of parties with which Labour shares much in common.

The SDLP has until very recently taken a strong stance against the liberalisation of abortion laws in Northern Ireland. Hardly a minor issue of disagreement between Labour in Great Britain and the SDLP in Northern Ireland and at Westminster.

Election pacts are not alien to the Labour Party’s traditions.

In 1903, an agreement was made between Herbert Gladstone (the then Chief Whip of the Liberal Party) and Ramsay MacDonald (Secretary of the Labour Representation Committee) that, in thirty constituencies, the Labour Party and the Liberal Party would not stand against each other, and thus would avoid the risk of splitting their vote. As a result of this agreement, in contests against the Conservative Party, 29 Labour MPs were returned at the 1906 General Election and the Liberal Party achieved a landslide.

Highlights of the Liberal Government that followed, included a commitment to Free Trade (lower food prices and a wider range of goods and foodstuffs in the shops) …

… and the establishment of the Welfare State by David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill that included the enactment of an Old Age Pension and the establishment of Wages Councils.

The SDLP party platform advocates Irish reunification.

Should one or more SDLP members be returned to the Westminster Parliament at the next General Election along with other parties favouring reunification then Labour might find itself in a bit of a spot, if it needed their support to keep the Tories out of Number Ten.

Starmer and the advisers he personally appointed are just not very good at the nitty gritty of politics and in hock to the Scottish Labour Party with its determined opposition to another independence referendum that might prove to be the price of Scottish National Party support in a hung Westminster Parliament.

Welsh Labour has set up a commission to consider the position of the principality within the United Kingdom and its deliberations will include independence for Wales.

Monday 29th November’s London Labour Shadow Cabinet reshuffle was Old Labour, pre New Labour at its very worst.

Wasting a day of campaigning in the week of an important Westminster Parliament by election and disrupting campaigning for the following three days.

The Shadow Cabinet or as many of them who were available should have been out pounding the streets of Old Bexley and Sidcup on Monday, not being engaged in all the excitement of a reshuffle.

How much better might Labour have done in Old Bexley and Sidcup on Thursday 2nd December, if Team Starmer had not indulged itself itself in the displacement activity of that Shadow Cabinet reshuffle on the Monday preceding it?

Divided parties or those perceived to be divided do not generally do as well as those putting on a united front.

The average voter does not understand the significance of the 1922 Committee undertaking a home visit to the leader of their party nor does the average voter see a thin Government bench at Prime Minister’s Question Time.

They will probably take more notice of …

If Lisa Nandy had had her way back in 2016, a third of the Shadow Cabinet would now be elected by the Parliamentary Labour Party.

At one time, it used to be the whole of Labour’s Shadow Cabinet. All of whom became redundant when Labour took office as the Prime Minister had free reign to put whomsoever they desired in their Cabinet.

A two Johns sketch from back in the day (that I have yet to track down) had John Fortune interviewing John Bird, who was posing as a Labour Party apparatchik, in the aftermath of a General Election.

Bird says he is relieved that the General Election is over so they may now focus on the real elections.

“Real elections?” asks Fortune.

“Yes, to the Shadow Cabinet, the National Executive Committee …”

The 1922 Committee visited Boris Johnson in Number Ten last week.

Only a resounding victory in this week’s by election will improve Johnson’s credit with the men in grey suits.

Labour did not have to win on Thursday 2nd December, just reduce the Tory candidate’s vote share as against the 2019 General Election to lower Johnson’s credit further.

Labour did come a strong second, but, odds on, more might have been achieved.

The weightier the Labour vote share and swing to Labour in a by election, the larger the number of Tory MPs eyeing the size of their majority and considering their prospects at the next General Election and the greater their concern about Johnson’s leadership.

Corbyn and his coterie may have gone, but too often it is still amateur hour in the Labour leader’s office.

How else do you explain moving on an impressive Shadow Minister whose friendly connections and contacts might be crucial after the next General Election?

A bit of a dig there at Keir Starmer, Lisa Nandy and Rachel Reeves from a Labour Member of Parliament, who saw off a challenge from a chap called Michael Portillo at the 1983 General Election.

There was at least one occasion prior to the 1997 General Election when one might have asked, “Were you up for Portillo?”

I was certainly up on the more famous occasion and had been since around 05:00 that morning of May 1st.

Bliss it was to see those results coming in after 23:00 in the Councillor’s box at the electoral count at Birmingham’s (Inter)National Indoor Arena.

Here, though, is a cautionary tale.

In the early hours of Friday 2nd May 1997, I was with a senior Councillor at Clare Short MP’s victory party.

We got chatting with young folk for whom this was their first General Election as activists, if not voters as well. Both myself and the Councillor are centrists and pragmatists. And we like to win.

We were adamant that Labour had to move fast to bring in some electoral system for the Westminster Parliament that better reflected the votes cast on practical grounds, if for no other reason.

They were convinced, adamant even, that the Tories had not just been vanquished at the previous day’s General Election, but were down and out for all time, too.

We demurred.

Like Dracula, we both said, the Conservative Party would rise again.

Electoral reform might not drive a stake through its collective heart, but it might diminish their capacity to dominate the politics of our nation.

Nick Cohen‘s article to which Lord Rooker refers in his Tweet.

Elections to the Senedd, itself founded by Labour in its first term after the 1997 General Election are by the Additional Member System.

Welsh Labour has never had a majority of the seats in the Senedd since devolution, but it has led every Government in Wales in that time in formal coalition or alliance with Opposition parties or with their active support.

On Saturday 27th November 2021, Plaid Cymru members backed a Senedd deal with Labour.

A Progressive Alliance was born in Wales!

Lloyd George, possibly a distant relative of mine, once remarked that you may keep your political principles pure and shining bright and not get your hands on the levers of power or get them a little tarnished, get your hands on the levers of power and do something for the good of the people.

Lloyd George the radical, reforming Liberal Chancellor between 1908 and 1915

He also said …

“For now, the Labour Party cannot fulfil its historic mission. Its limitations have been there from its inception, particularly its estrangement from Britain’s great Liberal tradition – Gladstone, Lloyd George, Keynes, Beveridge. Except for the period of New Labour, it has never succeeded in being in government more than six years; and the devastating cul-de-sac it went down over the past decade has made those limitations worse, possibly endemic.”

What’s your most Blairite opinion?

One more heave in a Westminster General Election, Labour, is not going to drive the Tories out of Number Ten and get things done.

It is often said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over, again, and expecting a different result.

And it may be, it may be, then that the Labour Party is now too stupid a party to last as a major force in British politics.

“… we need a new progressive movement; a new progressive agenda; and the construction of a new governing coalition.”

What’s your most Blairite opinion?

“… above all, decide whether it’s about them or about us, about the people or about making us feel good about ourselves. If it’s about them, then winning is the top priority. That means a professional organisation, strategy, preparation, not deluding ourselves that belief in our own righteousness is enough.”

Labour’s task is not to make itself feel better – it’s to win power

London Labour needs to agree alliances, formal or otherwise, well before the next General Election in the expectation that they will help maximise the number of Opposition seats won at that election and help consolidate power, thereafter.

“Britain’s next government will be some kind of coalition. That can be said with confidence, not because the outcome of the next general election is predictable, but because all governments, even those consisting of one party, are some kind of coalition.”

Labour’s best route to power is coalition, whether the party admits it or not

In the immortal words of John Smith MP, Leader of the Opposition, uttered at the end of his last ever public speech at Labour’s 1994 European Gala fundraiser on the night before he died.

“We will do our best to reward your faith in us,

but please give us the opportunity to serve our country,

that is all we ask.”

There are no caveats in that sentence about not entering into alliances.

Labour needs its Louise Haighs where they will do the most good for the party and the country, but may be my party prefers the purity of Opposition to rolling up its sleeves and getting things done in the service of our country?

We know Corbyn preferred winning the moral argument to the burdens placed on office holders and the compromises required of those who govern.

Does Starmer really just want some updated, better performed variation on Corbyn’s theme?

“Rah! Rah! Rah! We’re going to smash the oiks (and then concrete over them)!”

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Going by his podcast chat the other day with Sebastian Payne of the Financial Times, George Osborne still seems to be a bit confused about the point of socio-economic regeneration.

He spoke of the need for at least some capital projects to kickstart levelling up.

“Eton and Oxford and, yet, Johnson you’re still an oik and a clown. Any way, about this fascinating hole in the ground.”

“It’ll cost yah, guvnor, can’t get the labour, the materials … especially the wood, mister … Some prat negotiated and signed off on a Hard Brexit, mate. Its effin’ gummin’ up the works, boss.”

Boris, you went to Oxford University not Scumbag College or the Benny Hill School for the Performing Arts.”

Anyone know what levelling up means yet?

If you do know then pop your answer(s), please, on the back of a post card or in a sealed brown envelope and send them to Boris “Booster” Johnson care of 10, Downing Street, Westminster, London, SW1A 2AA, and not Carrie’s Pad or even, Blue Peter.

Then again …

The lucky winner with the best definition, not using the words, “levelling” and “up” within it, to explain the meaning of levelling up gets a peerage.

No, only joking.

Seriously, they will, instead (or may be not, who knows, eh?) receive the grateful thanks of the nation.

Incidentally, will Labour ever define a good job for the working class to the complete satisfaction of its middle class leadership?

“As an aside, I am from a (white) working class background so the affection for meaningful manual labour, with dignity, to be found amongst a middle class, Corbynistas included, who have never experienced it and have no plans to do so, rather baffles me.”

“I was the first member of my family to leave school, after three years of Sixth Form, and step straight into an office job as an Executive Officer in the Home Civil Service. For a while, when I was starting out in the Civil Service, I lived with my paternal grandparents.

My grandad, a carpenter and joiner, by trade, working class aristocracy, in fact, liked to speak of me proudly to friends and acquaintances as his grandson, the civil servant.”

Keir Starmer needs to fire Claire Ainsley

Osborne wants oodles of capital spend on projects for which Ministers may lay the corner stone, the capping stone and pose, grinning inanely …

… with an outsize pair of rubber scissors to cut the ribbon at the official opening and, you guessed it, unveil the stone marking said opening.

We have one million unfilled vacancies in the UK.

Why not spend a smidgeon of that planned capital expenditure, right now, as revenue and help fill a few of those jobs thereby growing our own domestic work force?

Let us regenerate some people not places for once?

We may not get many into work this way, but it would greatly benefit the individuals in question and possibly stave off some business failures, too.

The Times 29th November 2021

We would, admittedly, be levelling up everywhere to some extent, giving a hand up to those out of work, especially those furthest from the labour market or in some cases even in employment.

We would not be giving much in the way of a hand out to property developers.

And, given the hardest to reach usually respond best, in many cases, to outreach by the (local) voluntary and community sector then we might funnel a bit of money in their direction.

And as Kate Bingham’s boutique consultants have clearly failed to find ways to drive up Covid vaccination amongst disadvantaged groups then that might reasonably be a secondary aim of this spending.

Let us live a little and see if we might not drive up access to primary care, more generally?

We need to persuade people of the general value of tackling Man Made Global Warming so why not some projects around installing insulation in domestic and commercial premises, especially in the less well off areas?

We might even train up some of the locals to do the work, it is relatively easy in comparison with being trained to be a bricklayer (with no ready access to bricks).

Regional organisations to pull this activity together would be nice, like the Regional Development Agencies that David Cameron and George Osborne scrapped.

Agencies, Keir Starmer and Rachel Reeves working coherently with employers and other key stakeholders which will is way more productive than politicians engaging in drive by consulting or making flying visits to company premises for photo opps …

… whilst they promulgate well intentioned, I am sure, ideas about what is good for business …

Reeves “enthusiasm for cutting business rates on the high street is not blunted by the evidence that cutting rates gives commercial landlords leeway to raise the rents of their high street tenants and that falls in footfall are likely to prove impervious to rate cuts.”

Team Starmer’s skills advisory panel couldn’t sell air conditioning to Arabs …

A grown up partnership wherein Labour is a responsible adult, directing a potentially wayward child?

… designed, in part, by an IVF salesperson without input from business, trades unions, local and devolved governments.

Do journalists not do research, any more?

The IVF salesperson and Chief Executive Officer of the IVF business founded by his mother, just happens to be the ambitious chair of the South Islington and Finsbury Constituency Labour Party.

We do have growing problems around the scarcity of skills and labour and investment.

Allied with a worrying ignorance amongst much of the political class

Buying, making and selling more in Britain to boost British exports (!), Rachel Reeves, is so 1960s.

Anyone for a rousing chorus of “Where have all the flowers gone?, man!”

… and a high degree of ignorance amongst our London-centric media about good business practice in 2021 and trade, commerce, industry and economics more generally.

One of our faded industrial heartlands …

Anyone for Bullshit Bingo?

Starmer’s speech to the 2021 CBI Conference was full of soundbites like this one …

Meanwhile, on Planet Reality the unemployed want jobs. A well paid boring job with good terms and conditions will do for many people.

If you want an example of a key difference between the middle, the salaried class, and the working, wage earning class, then surely it has to be that for many of the former, an occupation means a career whereas for many of the latter, it is a job.

There is a significant degree of overlap, however, in each group thinking of their particular occupation as a vocation.

People in what the Commentariat and many politicians choose to define as low skilled employment often do take pride in their work.

And one of those low, hard skilled positions invariably requires a significant degree of soft skills.

Bafflingly, if you have worked in skills, Starmer thinks riding a bicycle is a soft skill.

It is actually a hard skill that becomes less hard the better you become at avoiding falling off your cycle.

Seriously, Starmer needs some advice on employability and skills.

To return to my main point, we do not need the harvesting of low hanging fruit; quick hits or shovel ready projects in the context of socio-economic regeneration.

We do need to build on what has worked in the past; learn from what has not and trial new ways of working in a business-like manner.

Evidence based policy making.

We need recognition, especially in the media, that this policy area is not really a party political story.

It is about the building of partnerships of key stakeholders in locales, including politicians from different parties working together for the common good, and the sustaining of such partnerships through thick and thin.

“Former Tory Minister for Merseyside Michael Heseltine was “moved to tears” on learning he was to be given the Freedom of the City.

The revelation came from council leader Cllr Joe Anderson ahead of formally moving that the city’s highest honour should be bestowed on the Conservative peer in recognition for the work he had done to regenerate Liverpool in the wake of the Toxteth riots of 1981.”

Freedom of Liverpool ‘reduced Michael Heseltine to tears’ says Joe Anderson

To mangle a quote, a Labour council a Labour council – handing the freedom of the City of Liverpool to Michael Heseltine (not Derek “Degsy” Hatton) in 2012.

Later on the Corbynistas, embarrassingly for Labour members who have read more than two books, tried to take the credit for the work of that Liverpudlian partnership between a Tory Minister and a Labour council, built on setting aside party politics.

Alan Bleasdale on Derek Hatton, Michael Murray and GBH

Socio-economic regeneration is about the delivery of outputs and outcomes that do not fit neatly into the electoral cycle and is a process that is likely to be never ending.

Storming and norming; rebadging; refocusing etc are disruptive and should only be indulged in when absolutely necessary.

People on the ground in all three sectors of the economy and the locals, residents and businesses that should be at the heart of it all, need the freedom; the power, including relatively easy access to the public money and the responsibility, to work together in relationships of creative tension, allowing a free and frank exchange of views.

Yes, dear reader, I too read, write, speak and comprehend fluent bullshit (to a purpose).

Heaven forfend, that experts in the field of socio-economic regeneration be asked to even make an observation.

And I am not talking here about time filling vox pops on the lunchtime news …

“Ey, lad, the local high street’s gone right down and what are they doing about it? Nuffing that’s what.”

Sotto voce, “Was that what you wanted, son?”

“Perfect and in one take, too!”

The question that never seems to be asked next and broadcast being, “Where do you shop?”

… or GBeebies.

“This is Gloria De Piero for GB News in deepest Ruislip. Fred Sponge, Covid, fact or fiction?”

(Editor: It says Alum Rock on the strapline. Thank God! We’ll go viral, again, on Social Media)

“High street’s gone to the dogs. And what are they doin’ about it? Nuffin!”

“Fred, that’s next week. Now about the draconian lockdown measures. Unfair, if not unnecessary, surely?”

A pity that broadcasters and columnists do not treat vox pops in the serious way Easton describes.

And spare me and the body politic, please, from pointless focus groups and Labour’s particular version of focus group Groundhog Day.

Media and politicians have nearly 100 years of theory and practice in socio-economic regeneration in a UK context from which to draw upon.

There are numerous experts on socio-economic regeneration in the private sector; voluntary and community sector down to community activist level; the public sector and academia with whom to engage.

Instead, we now have the prospect of Lisa “Small Towns” Nandy facing Michael “Grinner” Gove at the Despatch Box and engaging in arid debates about something called levelling up.

There is a certain depressing irony in Gove who campaigned so hard for Leave in 2016 now being shadowed by Nandy, who lost the English Midlands in public when she embraced Brexit in 2017.

Two would be candidates for the leaderships of their respective parties hamstrung by Brexit.

A Hard Brexit limits what may be practically achieved.

You may not lay bricks in a time of scarce bricklayers, HGV drivers and, well, bricks.

Neither major party is willing to publicly admit how much circumscribed they are by the deal the one negotiated and the other endorsed.

Still, at least we do have the opportunity to fill a few jobs, hopefully safeguarding some businesses; may be a chance to improve the health and well being of some of the most disadvantaged in our society and do a bit to tackle Man Made Global Warming.

A main target for spending, an ancillary target and a contribution to two cross cutting themes!

Do I get my peerage now, sorry, correction, the grateful thanks of the majority of the nation who would like to see Labour and the Tories address issues that really matter rather than see them behave like two bald men, fighting over a comb?

Peerless …