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NEWSLETTER NO 146

Saturday 08 May 2015

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This week:

Highlighting news stories important to the Civic Republican view,
particularly those that are overlooked or little covered in the main media.

All these newsletters will be catalogued on the website


POLITICS

  • "The most likely outcome is a Conservative Party with either a majority or near majority"
    - DRP Newsletter 4th April 2015


Peter Kellow, DRP Leader, writes

Nick Robinson reported on the 10 o'clock news yesterday (Friday);

No pollsters, no pundits, no political leaders saw it coming. Even David Cameron, himself did not see it coming. This was a day no one expected. No one could take it in.

Five weeks ago in this newsletter I predicted the result of the 2015 General Election when I wrote "The most likely outcome is a Conservative Party with either a majority or near majority". I know of no one else that has even got close then or at any time.

Even on Thursday night of polling day the pundits on the BBC were still insisting that it would be mighty close with the possibility that Ed Milliband would be smiling his toothy smile in front of the door to No 10.

The BBC Exit Poll came closer saying it looked like the Conservatives would be the largest party but the conductor of the poll did not countenance the possibility of a conservative majority. At around 11pm, when I tuned in, the rest of the expert panel where in heavy denial that the exit poll was anything like right.

Peter Kelsner, the polling expert, was still affirming that they had done all the tests forwards and backwards, just a few hours before and the result was not in doubt. It was a rogue exit poll - as indeed it was, for it turned out that it underestimated the size of the Conservative win. Your DRP correspondent did not make that error.

Paddy Ashdown promised to eat his hat if the exit poll was anything like correct - a promise that one can assume will go the way of other LibDem election undertakings

Since my forecast five weeks ago, the pundits and pollsters have stuck to the same line. The polls have shown a slight but insignificant drift to the conservatives. My view was based on factors that were much the same five weeks ago as today. I never wavered in my opinion.

So how is it that your humble correspondent was right when all others, including the Conservatives themselves were so wide of the mark.

For one thing, since the campaign got underway I have avoided watching anything on the TV about it. Needless to say I never read a newspaper of any kind online or off. I have no need of their lies, distortions and banal opinions in understanding what is happening in the world.

Apart from some RT, and Newsnight (but not in the run up to the election) I watch Andrew Neil's This Week to keep me in touch with a few basic things that are happening. Neil, Portillo and his revolving couch mate and, of course Miranda, are usually lively enough companions late at night before falling asleep.

Portillo on Thursday, 30th April, one week before the election, predicted on This Week that it would be Ed Milliband in No. 10 Downing Street. He must do a lot of research and listen to a lot of opinions to arrive at his opinions for the show.


So how come I knew the result well in advance when no one else did? Apart from not "informing" myself through the mainstream media I use a simple technique. I give due weight to the bleeding obvious. that is staring everyone in the face. Insider knowledge I do not have

This bleeding obvious comes under four headings in this case

1. Ed was unelectable

The first item on the agenda is that Milliband was unelectable. Now there is something that all of the unelectable have in common - they don't get elected. But the Conservatives and Labour are often drawn powerfully to unelectable leaders.

The Labour Party was the first to become addicted to unelectable leaders when they choose Michael Foot as leader. Following his defeat by Thatcher in 1983 I remember seeing him on his sofa spread eagled out on his back, chin tightly pushed into his chest, eyes wildly staring, vowing to fight on regardless. The guy was knackered. With a different electoral outcome he would have become the nation's helmsman. But the British electorate are no way that stupid

Following the defeat of John Major in 1997, the Conservatives, not wanting to be left out, of the race to the bottom, choose William Hague - not a complete idiot but nowhere imposing enough to be a leader. Not satisfied with that Ian Duncan Smith was then chosen to revive the party's fortunes - a man occupying an entirely charisma free, leadership-quality free zone. The third non-electable was Michael Howard, a steady-as-she-goes choice to inexorably guide the party into yet another term of opposition. The spell was broken with Cameron. That did not mean he would win. But it meant he could win - which was the crucial difference

Following the defeat of the untrustworthy Gordon Brown, the Labour Party had to find a new leader. Luckily they had the perfect candidate waiting to be picked up - David Milliband. All they had was to confirm him in the job and they would stand a fighting chance of winning in 2015.

But who could know his brother was waiting in the wings plotting to stab him in the back? Ed canvassed the trade unions and sold himself to the political inepts that run these fine organisations. From that moment the Labour Party's future was determined.

Ed is unelectable. Just look at him. He is a geek - not a national leader. His five point election plan was so vague as to be dishonest. The pundits and commentators missed this obvious fact that smacks you straight in the face. The British people did not, and never have, as polls have consistently shown. Polls got that right because the tendency was so extreme


2. The LibDems shafted themselves by going into Coalition

I have nothing to add on this subject to what I set on in the DRP Newsletter. No 65 Friday 6 May 2011. Then I wrote following the referendum on AV (remember that?):

The moment he signed up for his Faustian pact with the Tories they took out of him what they wanted and he was too foolish to see it. LIbDem veteran, Paddy Ashdown, on the BBC on election night, [2011] whilst trying to put the best spin on the debacle pointed out that sometimes parties have bad showings - even catastrophic ones - but that is all part of politics, and the LibDems would surely be back soon. What Ashdown did not appreciate is that when Clegg went in with the Tories in the coalition he made a fundamental strategic error. Yes a strategic not a tactical error. The consequences for the party will be long term, if not permanent

Some have said that you have to give it to the Tories for so roundly taking Clegg for a ride one year ago after the General Election but in truth the Tories were just doing what they do best (a lot of the time) and that is survival. The coalition pact was brilliantly one sided. Cameron got to be Prime Minister and implement practically all his manifesto - plus a few, not so minor, other things, such as turning the NHS up side down. What did the LibDems get out of it? They got to see the inside of ministerial cars. They agreed to break their pledge on tuition fees that they had roundly trumpeted in university constituencies. They got to defend the indefensible austerity measures before the whole nation.

The whole of that newsletter can be read as if it where written today.

The only thing I would add is that the broken promise on tuition fees was part of going into coalition. But what the commentators seem always to forget is that the LibDems were not seen to betray the country because they changed their policy on fees. A change of policy is quite reasonable when you go into coalition.

It is the fact that they made a pledge not to vote for tuition fees that matters. And because it was such a robust personal pledge by individuals it gained them votes.

The people understand well that politics can be a murky business and compromises happen. Cameron made a manifesto promise to reduce immigration to 10000. He broke that promise blatantly

But a personal pledge to do or not do something in politics, as in anything else, is a different matter. This breaking of a personal pledge by individual LibDem MPs (not all of them, Mingus Campbell refused) will never be forgotten or forgiven.


3. The unstoppable rise of the Scottish Nationalist Party

I wrote the article "Westminster suddenly discovers "'federalism" - but it is all too late" in DRP Newsletter No 132 Wednesday 10 September 2014 just before the Scottish referendum

If there is a Yes vote it may well be propelled by the current disgust with Westminster politics

The word on everyone's lips is federation for the UK for that would be the means of making sense of a loosely held Scotland.

The problem is that no one has got a clue about federations. Federations are complicated beasts and you cannot devise them on on the hoof. You need to know what you are talking about in theory and to have investigated on the ground the realities of separationist and centralist tendencies. A federal constitution has to accommodate many different forces.

As a republican constitutionalist, I have made a special study of federations and possess all the key literature on the subject. I know what I am talking about when it comes to federations but I must qualify that statement immediately by saying that no one, certainly not me, truly understands federations in full. When you approach the subject, extreme humility is necessary - and a lot of study and thought, doubt and discussion, weighing up and listening.

But our politicians have already started to talk about a federal solution to Britain and Northern Ireland as if it is something that can be discussed and put in place just like that. This is ignorance talking and behind it lies the mentality of the cobble up. Just cobble together to satisfy some of the parties until it goes belly up and then we can fart around with it a bit more to shut up whoever.

Aside from this, what all politicians and commentators seemed to have missed is that the good showing of the SNP is because the independence bit of the SNP for the present can be taken out of their manifesto. The referendum said no and so the electorate assume they can now have a party that sticks up for Scotland within the UK.

The SNP made it clear in their manifesto that they will fight for Scottish interests at Westminster but not for independence. This freed up vast swaths of the Scottish electorate to vote for them without fear.

It is the fact that the toxicity of independence is removed (for the time being) from the SNP programme that accounts for their massive electoral showing.

This does not mean that the federal solution is any less necessary but it does mean it is not that urgent. Certainly the kind of knee jerk"federal" measures that are being talked about are way out of line.

That great mob of SNP MPs at Westminster are not there to break up the union. They are there to screw the central government for every penny and every privilege they can. That is why they were elected and they know it - even if all the wise heads on our TV and in our press do not. I expect that Cameron will figure it out.


4. Cameron's Referendum Promise

Cameron has been widely criticised for promising an in-out referendum on the European Union. But why?

He is offering the British people a chance to get out of an international organisation that, almost certainly, the majority of the British want no part in. What is not to like? Milliband rejected the idea of a referendum. A bad stupid call.

It has been widely canvassed that Cameron cannot be trusted to deliver a referendum. But why is this? Cameron is not Gordon Brown.

An in-out referendum will almost certainly produce an out vote and so Britain will leave the EU. Politically this will mean (and really why do I always have to be the first to point out the obvious) that UKIP will dissolve into nothing. It is a one issue party and if its one goal has been achieved it has no longer any reason to exist

This will leave its voters, about 12% of the electorate, up for grabs. With all the other parties in disarray, except the strongly pro-EU SNP, most of them will go to the Tories. I would give Cameron credit for making that calculation privately even if I am the only one to say state it publicly


The Labour Party and the LibDems are now entering the dangerous territory of choosing a leader. Out of all those mentioned as possible candidates the Labour Party is dead lucky for it has one electable one. The party is also lucky that Ed Balls is out of parliament and so not a contender.

I am ruling out David Milliband as it is difficult to see how he could get back into parliament in time. Also he now has one great if unmerited disadvantage - he is a Milliband and that is now a toxic brand.

The natural electable leader they have is Chuka Umunna. If they choose him they will be back in with a fighting chance at the 2010 election. Any of the others will lead them into unelectable wilderness for many years.

The LibDems's rout has removed all of their big guns except Clegg. The list, excluding Clegg, of remaining MPs is: Tom Brake, Mark Williams, Greg Mulholland, Alistair Carmichael, John Pugh, Tim Farron, Norman Lamb. The choice has to be Tim Farron. He has no ministerial experience but neither have any of the others. In any case not having been in the Coalition has got to be an advantage

There will be a lot of talk about the long road back but frankly I don't think there is any. Clegg by joining the Tories in coalition destroyed his party. He blew away all the work of his predecessors in building up the party, principally, David Steel, Paddy Ashdown and Charles Kennedy.

The recriminations have not yet started but they will. Clegg will be rewarded for his tireless advocacy of the EU by a lucrative job in Brussels. Cameron will engineer the job for Clegg as thanks for his contribution to the Tory Party. He will resign his seat in the commons.

 


ELECTORAL SYSTEM

  • How the Kellowian Electoral System Would Make the 2015 Election Fair to All

The 2015 general election has demonstrated more clearly than most how unfair and ridiculous is the first-past-the-post system.

The most glaring injustice is that for every seat they gained the SNP needed 25,927 votes nationally and for their single seat the UKIP needed 3,881,129 votes nationally giving the SNP a 150-fold advantage over UKIP.

This distorts representation in Parliament to an absurd extent and the political life of the country will suffer.

There will be calls for a PR system but these are all just as bad as FPTP. We had a referendum on AV insisted on by the wise head of Nick Clegg in his "deal" with his coalition partners and the British people rejected it. They would do the same with PR

There is a sound alternative - the Kellowian System advocated by the Democratic Republican Party. Let us be clear, it is neither PR nor FPTP.

In the next newsletter I will analyse the May 2015 results according to the Kellowian system and show how the obscenity of the over representation of SNP and the denial of any democratic representation to UKIP is overcome by the system.

It also incidentally gives Cameron a bigger majority. And, yes, that would be entirely fair.

The system is unique in that it tends to give stable government and at the same time increases the likelihood of smaller parties having a an influence in Parliament.

The political establishment can ignore the rest of the DRP platform but this one element must be taken seriously in Britain without delay.

There are readers of the newsletter mailing list that have influence. By all means ignore the rest of DRP policy but do not ignore the Kellowian electoral system. The first country to take it up will lead the world.

Don't miss the next DRP Newsletter to learn how we can fix our electoral system once and for all.

 


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