08 March 2018
Diary of a Corbynista
Mrs May Breaks Cover.
By Don Urquhart
Alison Michalska, President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services was on today’s Daily Politics. In Nottingham City, where she is based, 60% of families live in poverty. Central government cuts have had a devastating effect. Kevin Hollinrake was the Conservative MP delegated to explain why these cuts are a good thing. It seemed to come down to a choice between decent children’s care and cutting the deficit. Poor children’s care, vulnerable teenagers, exploitation by paedophiles. Are any politicians joining the dots?
With all the talk of customs unions in our little corner of the world, Donald Trump yesterday provided context when announcing new tariffs on imports into the USA, 25% for steel and 10% for aluminium. Stock Markets fell round the world and the main exporters of these commodities offered dark threats of retaliation. It used to be all about China but Li Xinchuang, vice-secretary-general of the China Iron and Steel Association, said the impact on China would not be big, adding:
Nothing can be done about Trump. We are already numb to him.
Driven by the shooting of 17 people at a Florida school, Corporate America is taking on the National Rifle Association. BlackRock Inc., the world’s biggest investment manager is threatening some as yet unspecified actions. Other firms are discontinuing discounts for NRA members and pulling out of NRA branding deals.
Meanwhile in the UK, Ladbrokes are threatening redundancies and withdrawal of sports sponsorship if they are forced to reduce the maximum stake on their fruit machines from £100 to £2.
Different countries, different industries and different approaches to protecting/exploiting the vulnerable.
Eighteen months ago I stood in Downing Street and addressed the nation for the first time as Prime Minister. I made this pledge then to the people that I serve…. The government that I lead will be driven not by the interests of the privileged few but by yours.
Having listened to Mrs May’s Mansion House speech and watched her interview with Andrew Marr I would summarise her strengths as follows:
She masters her brief however complex;
She is smart enough to harness consensus in her parliamentary party against Jeremy Corbyn and convince them that Brexit is a secondary issue;
She talks a good game.
Against this, her public statements are devoid of meaning (see above).
Today’s big government press release trails a Theresa May speech on housing. Yet again the news is what she is going to say rather than what she has said or done.
It is still all about Theresa. Following her Brexit speech on Friday the only big beast allowed on the airways was David Lidington, the poor man’s Damien Green.
How long can she continue with so few people she trusts to communicate policy, particularly on Brexit?
I admire her nerve. While the commentators chuckle into their microphones predicting that the façade of cabinet unity will crack at any moment, or assuring us that the EU will not permit this or that aspect of her proposals, she just plods on, brushing opposition aside like those stalks of wheat back in her naughty childhood.
In calling the 2017 election she took a gamble with the odds seemingly stacked in her favour. Her Brexit strategy is not a gamble. It is carefully constructed and will not fail through lack of preparation and triangulation.
I cannot wish her success because her proposals are a pig’s breakfast but I admire her nerve.
Yet again the content of a minister’s speech is trailed before he gets to his feet. Philip Hammond is scheduled to remind Michel Barnier of his own previous enthusiasm for including financial services in trade deals and will treat us all to an exposition of the variety of trade deals the EU has done, thus undermining the anti-cherry-picking stance of our negotiating partners. I wonder how thrilled they will be to take lessons in such matters from Professor Hammond, and on a wider issue ask myself whether the EU has the slightest interest with Paris, Frankfurt and other centres licking their lips as they queue up to replace the services offered by the City.