ukip Bedroom Tax Stance Clear Evidence Would Prosecute #WOW Like #IDS? #Clacton #ClactonByElection


ukip intends in September to confirm its “opposition to the Bedroom Tax” (see paragraph 8).  However, all its other policy ideas are definites, we will cut this, set up that and repeal something else. ukip, therefore, is not committing itself to repealing the Bedroom Tax if it were ever in government.

ukip seems to be setting out to be tough on welfare, despite the contention it is pitching for a bigger slice of the working class ‘left behind’ vote.  I guess saying that you will be opposed to the tax suggests otherwise and may provide some comfort to a few ukip voters, who think the tax is not a national government policy.  I have often sat across the desk from someone on Social Security who was unaware of the difference between a civil service department and their local council.  Although how ukip would cope if they were running a council is anyone’s guess.

To be fair to ukip in one way, they may have inadvertently repeated, without amendment, a pledge made in their Local Authority Elections Manifesto 2014 (see page 9, Environment, Planning and Housing), but failing to amend this policy for its policy launch hardly suggests that they are getting better organised at presenting their policies.  However, the LA Manifesto contains references to policies that would require Parliamentary legislation for local authorities to implement.  And those policies are mostly clear cut, too.

If ukip is attracting a goodly number of the ‘left behind’ then some of them must be paying the Bedroom Tax so why not say you will cut it?  Could it be because of ukip’s Libertarian, small government, everyone should stand on their own feet wing?  Oh and the 50% of its vote who are ex Tories?  Keeping hold of their votes and attracting more implies that ukip will be hard on ‘benefit scroungers’, despite some of them currently being its voters and supporters.

There are three references  to benefits in the LA Manifesto:

Up to 29 million more people are, therefore, entitled to come here, to take advantage of our benefits, social housing, primary school places and free health care, having contributed nothing to them. (Page 3)

We must end benefit and health tourism and give priority to local people for housing, education, health and social services. In planning, the local people’s opinions should be respected and not overruled. (Page 8)

Our membership of the EU costs £55m a day – and another £23m a day goes out in foreign aid – while jobs, services and benefits are being cut at home. UKIP believes that we should save that money to help rebuild our debtridden economy. (Page 9)

Now £55 million and £23 million per day might sound like a lot to most people, especially ukip supporters, but, believe me it is a drop in the ocean of government expenditure.  Our total annual EU subscription amounts to (using Farage’s figures) £20 billion and our Overseas Development Aid to £8.4 billion per year. Now Farage has recently conceded that we get back £7 for every £10 we pay into the EU and that he wants to reduce, but not end ODA. He proposes to reduce it from 0.7% of GDP to 0.2%.

ukipers have assured me on Twitter that the 70% of our EU subscription we get back will be spent in a similar way as now, but instead of on the advice of chaps like me in the Regions (hence European Regional Development Fund), the decisions will be made in Whitehall.  I am sure we are confident, particularly everywhere outside of London and South East, especially in the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Parliament, that this centrally directed money will still go where it is most needed.  I will talk more about that topic in a later post.

£8.3 billion divided by 7 and multiplied by 5 equals £6 billion and 30% of £20 billion equals £6 billion. After an expensive referendum and making a decision that will reduce the UK’s standing in the world we will have an extra £12 billion, ceteris paribus, per year to spend on ukip’s policy proposals.  The proposal to cut Income Tax for those on the National Minimum Wage has been estimated, if implemented, to result in a loss of tax revenue to the Exchequer of £13 billion.  ukip cannot contend that BREXIT and reducing ODA will make any immediate financial difference to those receiving Social Security.

I think it is not unreasonable to assume, given that reference to “debtridden (sic)” above, that ukip may well be considering slicing a further £73 billion from annual government expenditure and some of the policy ideas listed in Goodwin’s article would seem to support that contention. There is also no evidence to support the theory that cutting the top rate of Income Tax from 45% to 40% will, as Farage asserts, raise more revenue than before the reduction and as ukip wants to make sure the 40% starting point is not subject to fiscal drag then something has got to be cut.  I leave you to ponder where the axe would fall, but do not forget that the Hard Right of the Tory Party not only likes the cut of ukip’s jib, but has openly talked about getting into bed with them.

Has Matthew Goodwin of Revolt on the Right Fame Developed a Crush on Nigel Farage and ukip?


I have been planning for some time now a series of blog posts looking at the 21-year-old phenomenon that is ukip. Yes, this ‘young’ political party has now reached the age of consent. Handsome chaps from the right wing of the Tory Party are even courting ukip with the aim of co-habiting at least by March 2015. Conveniently, for me, Matthew Goodwin has provided the ideal ukip article against which to pitch my views and analysis (and those of others).

Goodwin, since he erupted on to the domestic political scene earlier this year with Revolt on the Right, has moved from being an impartial commentator on ukip to being a cheerleader for the party and, in particular Nigel Farage. Whether it is because he is suffering from a variation on Stockholm Syndrome, shares Farage’s take on politics and/or is cynically exploiting the party is not for me to say. However, Goodwin has managed to cash in on ukip’s recent notoriety and, in the process has raised his profile significantly amongst the very classes, metropolitan liberals he routinely has a pop at in his articles.

What I do propose to question is Goodwin’s competence to hand out the tablets of stone that he has been passing out with ever-greater frequency since Revolt on the Right came out earlier this year. I confess I have been blocked on Twitter by Goodwin for challenging his analysis so perhaps I am not as objective as I might otherwise be. I leave you to come to your own judgments in that regard over the coming months.

I did do Goodwin, after being blocked, the courtesy of looking at his book on Amazon. I say courtesy, because he was quite nasty about me personally for daring to suggest that my worm’s eye view was arguably a better one than his from which to describe ukip’s ‘left behind’ supporters and voters. You will note from the foreword to Revolt on the Right that Goodwin’s book is based on various sources of research and survey material, including opinion poll data, news clippings and interviews with ukip activists. Some of the activists asked that their identities be kept anonymous. Unless I have read it wrong, Goodwin made no efforts to interview a representative sample of ukip’s wider party, supporters and voters. Yet he feels capable of speaking for and about them in his book and articles. By the way, I think you would be hard pressed to say confidently that the activists of any political party are a representative sample of their party’s broader membership, supporters and voters.

Goodwin with seemingly no background in psephology peppers his articles with favourable projections down to constituency level as to ukip’s electoral prospects.  A continuing contention, regardless of contrary evidence, is that ukip is more likely to damage Labour’s prospects than those of the Tory Party.  I detect a degree of cognitive dissonance and a whiff of despair that he may find his credibilty as an expert on ukip severely damaged, if this thesis fails to come to pass in the only place that counts, the ballot box.  The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner by election held on 21st August certainly does not back Goodwin up and it contradicts his contention that ukip is an organisation fit to fight elections.

Goodwin spent two years writing a book about ukip that conveniently came out two months or so before an election in which ukip was expected to receive a great deal of publicity. Of course, Goodwin benefited even better than he might have dreamt from the arguably disproportionate level of media coverage that ukip received in the run up to 22nd May this year. Goodwin cannot have believed his good fortune. The media needed an ukip expert and who better than Goodwin, the author of the recently published, critically acclaimed Revolt on the Right?

Goodwin has a stake in talking up ukip’s prospects in order to keep him in the public eye and maintain his current and future earnings potential. I assume his book and articles will not harm his future as an academic and researcher (for Government bodies and the like), specialising in extreme right-wing movements? Unless, perhaps, questions are raised about his objectivity?

I am of the opinion that most academics do not live in ivory towers, but then I have worked with a fair few on issues very close to those that ukip is purporting to address through its policy ideas. None of those academics prepared papers on the topics they were studying without interviewing the people who were their prime focus. In my case, those studies with which I was involved included a cross section of people living within a regeneration area and the barriers to employment faced by those in the third age of their working lives. I invited Goodwin to Kingstanding, Birmingham to meet likely ukip voters and see which of us was right about their upbringing, attitudes and leanings. He declined.

Personally, I think Goodwin has been to date insufficiently rigorous in his study of ukip. Goodwin has become a Boswell to Farage’s Johnson and why not? He is so trusted by ukip that he seems to have gained unhindered access to ukip, unavailable to other people in the media and “Currently, he is writing a new book on the 2015 general election that will be published by Oxford University Press in 2015.” (extract from Matthew Goodwin’s website).  I foresee further books such as Nigel Farage on the Stump with Matthew Goodwin and Matthew Goodwin’s Biography of Nigel Farage.

Of course, Goodwin had a partner in the writing of Revolt on the Right, Robert Ford. Has anyone heard from Ford since the book was launched?

As I said above, this is the first of a series of posts about ukip. I want to stress that, when talking about its supporters; I will endeavour to avoid sweeping generalisations as much as possible.

I accept that some of ukip’s supporters, seemingly unaware of its true nature, back it for quite understandable reasons. In addition, that there is a case to be made that ukip is not a fascist party, based on the range of beliefs of its members, but then the same argument can be made for most fascist parties, past and present. However, the sum of ukip’s individual prejudices and bigotry are greater than its whole. If you choose to lie down with mangy, flea bitten curs then do not be surprised if, on getting up, people suspect you have rabies.

Boris Johnson Contemplates Life After A Yes Vote In The #IndyRef Part 4!


Whatever happens, I am assuming that nothing substantive will be settled between the two negotiating teams before 8th May 2015. A real showstopper might result from Cameron floating the idea of ukip joining his negotiating team. It may well be the end of June before negotiations resume, whoever wins the General Election.

If the Tories win outright then there may well be a leadership election, if it has not taken place before April 2015. How the Tories will handle negotiations in this scenario is anybody’s guess.

If the Tories resurrect the current coalition after 8th May 2015 then it is still hard to know how they will proceed with matters. In addition, any ukip representation in the new Parliament further clouds the crystal ball.

Is Labour then the Key To Getting An Early Resolution of the Post Yes Negotiations?

Were I eligible to cast a Yes vote on 18th September and we won then I would be rooting for a Labour victory the following May. I would be seeking a victory not requiring the support of any MPs North of the Border to put Ed Miliband into 10, Downing Street. I appreciate that Labour’s stance on independence and its fronting of the No Campaign has hardly endeared it to the Yes Campaign, but Scotland has a better chance of becoming fully independent of the rest of United Kingdom, as soon as practicable, with Labour in office than not.

I have to confess that it beats me as to why Labour did not at the outset take an agnostic approach to the Referendum (as it has done on similar occasions in the past) and agree to disagree for the length of the campaign. In other words, that individual party members would be free to campaign for either of the two campaigns without facing censure. Labour for Yes (if I get its title right) has belatedly, but I think commendably gone down that road.

I suspect Ed Miliband has taken the stance he has in order to avoid another fight with the touchy, combative Blairites, seemingly ever ready to try and make Labour unelectable in 2015. In order to avoid more opprobrium from the usual suspects in the media, who will seek to shift the blame for a Yes from the natural party of government to Labour and because Labour (including the SDLP) is now the only party of the whole of the UK, except for the steadily growing in strength Greens. These reasons and the need for a party to pander to about 20,000 floating voters at Westminster to win a majority are what makes politics grubby, but for now that is how the game is played.

As David Lloyd George observed, you may keep your principles shiny and not get your hands on the levers of power or tarnish them a bit, get your hands on those levers and do something. One of his somethings was the State Pension. Surely, a bit of tarnish is worth it to get a fully independent Scotland at the earliest possible time?

Labour in Power

Whether or not Labour wins an overall majority or builds a working majority through Confidence and Supply Arrangements it should be in a position to move the negotiations on and put the resulting treaty or treaties (agreed between the two sides) before Parliament. Arguably, that will be the easy bit.

Labour can only get the bill through, if it has a majority excluding MPs sitting for Scottish seats. Therefore, the Yes Campaign has a stake in Labour and allied parties achieving that majority.

Why? Well I assume that a re-invigorated Tory Party will fight the Bill tough and nail throughout the whole Parliamentary process. They should not be able to stop the Bill going to the Lords, but therein they have a majority and they can spin out the Bill for a goodly while. Not only that, they can shred Labour’s legislative programme whilst holding out the carrot that they will stop, if Labour accepts amendments to the Bill.

The House of Lords and a Tory Party Old Favourite

If at this point, you are thinking that I am well and truly in the realms of fantasy politics then think again. The Tory Party in the Lords opposed the Whig Parliamentary Reform Bill in 1831/32 in just the way I describe. Again, in 1909/10 the Tory Party set its face against DLG’s Peoples Budget and employed similar tactics as those of 1832 to stall this money bill. Moreover, in doing so they broke a Parliamentary Convention that the Lords not throw out money bills.

The Liberals fought two General Elections in 1910 to establish that they and their allies, Labour and the Irish Nationalists had the support of the electorate for the Budget. In both 1832 and 1910, reluctant centre left PMs went to even more reluctant Kings to seek approval for the creation of sufficient new peers to pass their bills through the Lords.

During the Lords’ stages of the Poll Tax Bill, the Tories dragged into Parliament peers who had never attended the House to get the bill through. When voting for their own interests the Tories, mostly, are unprincipled. Those peers in the late 1980s gained personally from the introduction of the Poll Tax. And how many of the current crop have land and business interests North of the Border?

Were it to become necessary for Ed Miliband to seek approval from the Queen for new peers then he must have the support of a majority of the MPs, outside of Scotland or else the Queen will have wiggle room to decline his request and suggest dissolution of Parliament instead. Whilst we do not have a written Constitution we do have precedents which Cabinet Office will use to advise the PM and the Queen. I hope that the Prince of Wales will not ascend to the throne before any treaty bill receives Royal Assent.

I am confident that a Scotland: Independence Bill would be passed, but I would be under no illusions that the Tory Party would not seek to play party politics with it and make its passage extremely difficult. I really cannot see a post May 8th 2015 Tory Party making the progress of such a bill easy. Thatcher’s Children have now come of age and they will form the bulk of the Tory Party’s MPs next May. Moreover, a handful of ukip MPs would probably join in by playing procedural merry hell!

Of course, were the House of Lords be swamped with new peers then who knows what state their Lordships’ House might be in by the time the dust had settled?

When Will Scotland Be Fully Independent?

Alec Salmond has I gather said he expects negotiations to start this September and last for about 18 months. I think that is being overly optimistic and, if the Tories drag their feet then the negotiations will surely go beyond March 2016, but if they are structured then transfer of assets etc may be able to start before negotiations are completed and any necessary bill passed.

Arguably, full independence, after a phased rather than big bang uncoupling would seem feasible by the end of a full Parliamentary term, in other words sometime in 2020. A big bang uncoupling might just trigger the apocalyptic scenarios being used by the No Campaign to frighten people into not voting Yes. A phased approach gives time and room for dealing with issues like currency unions and the like. I suspect Mr Salmond is fully apprised of that, but are the leaders of the other parties?

Here is to hoping it is a Yes on 18th September 2014! Who then will be up for a Welsh Independence Referendum? And, perhaps a Home Rule for Mercia Referendum too?

David Cameron Contemplates Life After A Yes Vote In The #IndyRef Part 3!


If Cameron fails to put together an inclusive team to represent the whole of England, Northern Ireland and Wales then that constitutes a failure to treat the negotiations as outside of party politics. In other words, he would be setting aside our unwritten Constitution.

Assuming that two teams of negotiators are able to sit down opposite each other then the subsequent meetings will need a joint chair. Step forward the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow MP and Tricia Marwick MSP, the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament. There is a convention that negotiations like those after a Yes vote are conducted through a Speaker’s Conference. I suspect Flashman will go ballistic, in private, at the thought of meetings chaired by his nemesis, Bercow (jointly with Marwick). Were Cameron to oppose this approach then again he is setting himself against our unwritten Constitution.

One suspects that Cameron may try to spin out the negotiations by taking as long as possible over the preliminaries. He might just manage to put off the start of any serious discussions to the point where they have to be suspended, because of the start of the short 2015 General Election Campaign. Of course, if he had not fixed the term of the current Parliament then he could, at least temporarily, cope with the problems he faces by calling a General Election this September. However, that would require the support of more MPs at Westminster than those currently numbered as Tories and Liberal Democrats combined. Would the opposition parties support a motion to dissolve Parliament or would they prefer to let Cameron stew in his own juice until May 8th 2014?

I mean, would you, if you were on the opposition benches give up the opportunity to watch a lame duck Prime Minister getting ever more desperate and peeved as the weeks (so long in politics) drag on and on? Would you not want to see the Tory Party weakened by internal strife; a possible leadership challenge; may be even a leadership campaign and a new leader trying to unite their party within weeks of a General Election. Moreover, we should not forget ukip snapping at the Tory Party’s heels. In addition, should the opposition parties deny us a chance to enjoy a newly minted Parliamentary tradition? The Tory MP, disgusted with his party, who resigns the Whip and announces his allegiance to ukip.

As an aside, there is evidence from abroad that voters regard parties in coalition as a single entity. As a consequence, if their efforts to compete against each other ahead of an election become acrimonious then they are likely to punish them at the polls in the same way they do a party that they perceive as split. Also, they discount much of the content of the manifestos of coalition partners as they know that, if the parties remain in coalition after an election then those manifestos are merely grounds for negotiation. Who would be Cameron and Clegg between now and next May?

Often, choices in life are not a choice between ones of equal, good value, but between the lesser of two evils. David Cameron’s choices after a Yes vote on the 18th September are unlikely to be ones that he would choose, if he had any other option not so to do.

David Cameron Contemplates Life After A Yes Vote In The #IndyRef Part 2!


Back to Cameron and Salmond at Downing Street. Alec Salmond has made it clear that he expects to head a negotiating team composed of more than just members of the SNP. He, for example, did offer Alistair Darling a place on that team at the end of the televised debate on 25th August. Quite sensibly, Salmond wants to achieve a long lasting agreement that will have more than an even chance of surviving changes in government in both Scotland and at Westminster.

However, although Cameron has surely been advised by now of the need to field a similar team, will he both want to do so and will he be able to do so. More and more of late Nice Dave has given way to David Flashman. Cameron’s performance during the appointment of Juncker is a clear sign that he cannot negotiate his way out of a wet paper bag. Would he be capable of forming an inclusive team and agreeing on a set of negotiating positions to which they could all sign up?

Were Cameron to go it alone and field only a team of Tories to face Salmond then, quite reasonably, would Alec and his team get up and leave? The Scottish team will be seeking agreements that will last beyond May 8th 2015. But what of the Tory Democrats, you say? Well I am sure Cameron will let Clegg pour the tea, pass around the biscuits and take the minutes.

In addition, if Cameron went it alone, he would have to head the negotiating team or look as though he is scared of Salmond. Moreover, as he personally is incapable of conducting negotiations then who else would he include in his Tory negotiating team? Public schools may inculcate over confidence and overweening arrogance, but as for developing empathy, insight, good manners and the ability to listen as well as speak then the fees are a waste of money. I cannot seriously think of anyone now on the Tory Party’s frontbench who could effectively negotiate with Alec Salmond and his team.

Cameron will have no option, if he is taking the negotiations seriously, but to involve other parties and key stakeholders in putting together not just a team, but a set of widely agreed negotiating positions. However, if Cameron invites Labour into the negotiations then in some quarters he may be seen to be admitting that he cannot win convincingly on 8th May 2015. He will face an ongoing threat to his leadership seemingly, whatever he does.

The ukip Effect

Unsurprisingly, ukip is in two minds about Scottish Independence, but assuming they revert to type then I expect them to seek to use the loss of Scotland to their advantage. Farage admitted after the Euro Elections that he is not reaching out to Labour voters as much as he is to Tories and, surprisingly, Liberal Democrats. He has mused, more recently, about agreeing to stand aside to let the Tory Party have a clear run in seats like those in Dorset. In return, he would expect them to return the favour in seats in places like Essex.

ukip is pitching for the votes of the huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’ fraternity. Farage, that self-proclaimed man of the people, recently attended a conference of the Country Landowners’ Association and he was on the top table too. Moreover, this story (see third bulletin point) is very interesting concerning as it does some of the likely pressure already being applied to Cameron in the run up to next May. ukip with its opposition to wind turbines, PV panels and HS2; its anti ‘political correctness’ stance; its thinly veiled racism; its “fings ain’t what they used to be” riff and visceral hatred of green ‘crap’ is out to get the votes of rural Tories as much as the disenchanted working class. The CLA seems to have (temporarily?) given up campaigning against the closure of rural post offices, the end of rural bus services and the like. Hunting with dogs still trumps its concerns about the quality of life of its tenants and of the lower orders that live in the countryside.

I would be very surprised if Farage did not back up the only ukip MEP in Scotland who is on record as saying that he would seek to overturn a Yes result. ukip may say you cannot trust the Tories over the European Union just look at what they have done with regard to Scotland! Farage knows what will attract the support of Disgusted of Royal Tunbridge Wells. He does live down the road, after all and one day, of course, he will be one of them.

ukip will add to Cameron’s headaches, but also they will cause concern in many Tory constituencies. ukip’s support for fracking is possibly the only issue likely to frighten the horses out in the Shires, but then may be fracking is not going to be in ukip’s eagerly awaited manifesto? And fracking is a Tory Party policy too. One other point about ukip is that they have no realistic chance of winning seats in Scotland and Wales so stirring up English resentment against the Scottish and the Welsh is unlikely to be a net vote loser next May. Nor will making the CLA worried about a peasants’ uprising North of the Border be a vote loser down South.

David Cameron Contemplates Life After A Yes Vote In The #IndyRef Part 1!


Imagine David Cameron receiving the results of the Scottish Independence Referendum and it is a Yes. Cameron, who has campaigned down to the wire, has, whether he likes it or not, bet his premiership and leadership of the Tory Party on obtaining a resounding No result. Even a marginal No outcome will be of little consolation to him. The nightmares of the preceding, often sleepless nights have come true. He is now the Tory Prime Minister who lost Scotland!

What will Cameron do next? Put the furniture removers on standby or try and tough it out? Because Cameron is now a two time failure. He failed to gain an overall majority in a General Election that was his to lose. The Tory Party’s best opportunity in 23 years to secure more than just a working majority and he fluffed it. And now he has mislaid Scotland. His party must be wondering if he will achieve the triple and lose in 2015 too.

Admittedly, he can argue that, with the aid of the Tory Democrats, he has delivered much the same programme, as he would have done, if he had won an overall majority in 2010. However, that will cut little ice with a party contemplating defeat in 2015. A Tory Party that has had its fill of accommodating Nick (Calamity) Clegg. A party notoriously ruthless when it comes to dumping leaders it feels will fail to deliver victory at a General Election. And, it is not as if there are not at least two, possibly even four, viable candidates ready and waiting to stab, sorry, console Cameron on his deuce bad luck and propel him gently, but firmly, into the House of Lords.

However, for the sake of this essay, let us imagine that, like some wounded beast, Cameron staggers on. We know he is arrogant. We know he is not very bright. We know he will want to try to distract the attention of history from his two failures by winning convincingly in 2015. We also know he suffers from delusions of grandeur.

Well, within weeks of the outcome of the referendum, there will be the Tory Party Conference, the last before the General Election on May 7th 2015. Cameron may have decided he is going on, but we know already, today, that those hoping to succeed him are already jockeying for position. Expect them to use their conference speeches, dinners and appearances at fringe meetings to profess loyalty to Cameron, whilst further setting out their stalls for the only electorate that will matter to them at that moment in time. Those members of the Tory Party with a vote in a future leadership election. Whether Scotland votes Yes or No, this scenario will come to pass.

We are already seeing posturing and pandering to the right of the Tory Party by Theresa (Madame Whiplash) May, Boris (I am just as much of a liberal, cheeky chappie as Nigel Farage is) Johnson, David (Do you not now wish you had elected me leader, instead of Cameron?) Davis and George (Permanent Sneer) Osborne. Disturbingly, in making Gove, currently an Osborne supporter, into Chief Whip, Cameron may have made Gove the king or queen maker. Gove has access to the whip’s little black book and licence to put the stick about too. We have a pack of cards with five knaves within it and, amusingly, not one of them currently in a position to prevent a poor showing next May.

Cameron may well survive the conference by appealing to the Tory Party’s not so secret weapon, its sense of loyalty to the leader and its capacity to close ranks when it is most important. However, after the conference ends, Cameron will head back to Downing Street to face Alec Salmond and his cross party, cross community-negotiating team.

Has The Cabinet Secretary Done His Duty And Has Cameron Complied With The Constitutional Niceties?

Let us, for a moment, return to the present day and consider what may well already be giving Cameron serious cause for concern. The Cabinet Secretary must have briefed him by now about the options that will result from a range of outcomes from the vote on 18th September. Only one result, a resounding No, will be one he may safely ignore. Other outcomes include a resounding Yes, a narrow Yes or No and scenarios in which either the Yes or No camp wins, but on a low turnout.

I think I may say with confidence that the Cabinet Secretary, if he is doing his job, will have discussed this matter with Cameron and even suggested that the Leader of the Opposition be briefed too. Whatever happens after 18th September it will be politics with a small p. It is, I gather, normal practice for Civil Servants during the three weeks before a General Election to draw up draft programmes for all the parties based on their manifestos, including the BNP and ukip. Heaven only knows what they drew up for ukip in 2010. I assume that the programmes drawn up for some of the parties are treated purely as intellectual exercises. As would be the case with some, but not all, of the possible scenarios after the vote on 18th September.

If Cameron has not shared, at least some of his briefings with the Leader of the Official Opposition then that would be his first act not in keeping with the constitutional niceties. One assumes, however, that he has observed that nicety relating to briefing Her Royal Highness about what may happen after 18th September. After all, he does head her Government and she has a particular, very personal interest in the outcome of a Yes vote.