There have been interesting political developments this week in both London and Washington. As London Bureau Chief (the WaPo’s Bureau Chief gets paid more!) I should start with London.
Prime Minister Theresa May has decided to go to the country, by which I don’t mean another weekend visit to Chequers. She’s decided to call a General Election, although strictly it is Her Majesty the Queen who dissolves Parliament. Her announcement took everybody by surprise, although there have been hints in recent weeks.
The election will be held on Thursday June 8th and campaigning is already underway. The Fixed Term Parliaments Act proved about as useful as a chocolate teapot, or, if you prefer a more conventional expression, balls on a mermaid.
Prime Minister May seems to have two aims: to gain control of the government from the pro-EU Cabinet Office and to gain control of Parliament. A small, left-wing cabal of Remain MPs derailed Andrea Leadsom’s leadership bid last year by threatening to defect to the anti-British, pro-German LibDems. They are also threatening the passage of the ‘Great Repeal Bill’, which will repeal the hated European Communities Act 1972, the most notorious piece of legislation ever enacted by Parliament.
The Cabinet Office, which helped set up the failed pro-EU Cameron-Clegg coalition government in 2010, has been secretly conspiring with this pro-EU cabal to derail the Great Repeal Bill. If Theresa May can win a big majority on June 8th the cabal will be outflanked. Hopefully some of them will be defeated, which would make the Prime Minister’s job even easier.
Sadly, hopes that the veteran Europhile and Bilderberger, Ken Clarke, would retire have been dashed. He’s quite a nice chap, despite his odd views with respect, and will probably be re-elected, although all men and women of goodwill in Britain will be backing his UKIP challenger.
Sir Jeremy Heywood
If she gets a majority of 50 or over Theresa May should be in a position to force out the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, one of the most hated men in Britain, no offense intended. The Cabinet Office has been fighting the government at every turn, humiliating the Prime Minister without mercy.
Their latest initiative has been to get the Sentencing Guidelines Council to ramp up the War on Motorists by issuing draconian guidelines on speeding offenses. At no stage has the Conservative Party ever promised to wage a tougher war on motorists – these absurd guidelines, which magistrates courts tend to treat as tramlines, have no democratic legitimacy whatsoever. They are also statistically illiterate, reflecting the irrational view of campaigning groups like Brake, whose charitable status in practice depends upon ongoing Cabinet Office backing, that speeding is a major cause of accidents.
The Cabinet Office have been able to ram these ‘guidelines’ down the throats of the public without any debate in Parliament or the Cabinet. The episode is a classic illustration of the collapse of responsible government in Britain.
The real reason for waging war on motorists of course is to slow down the economy. For every 1 mph by which average traffic speed can be slowed down, GDP suffers to the tune of about £2.5 billion, which helps our strategic competitors like Germany, which effectively controls the Cabinet Office via its GO2 intelligence operation; not that I am suggesting that Sir Jeremy is a German spy, of course. Perish the thought.
Slowing down the US economy was the reason why German assets in Washington pushed your ludicrous 55 mph freeway limit, by the way. As with global warming propaganda, they relied upon junk science, which in this case suggested that automobile engines run most efficiently at 55 mph. That may be true, but the limit which resulted was economically inefficient.
Moreover, by increasing journey times and lowering drivers’ concentration levels, it caused more accidents. Fatigue is a much more significant cause of accidents than speeding.
The upshot, as in Britain, was that the economic benefits of expensive modern infrastructure were largely lost. The extra road deaths and injuries were seen as a bonus by the Jerries. In the meantime Germans were able to drive at sensible speeds, laughing at us in the West for our crass stupidity.
The Tory Manifesto
There are major problems with it. The manifesto is being drafted by a secretive, largely left-wing, group of May loyalists. I am unaware of any serious conservative being involved. Theresa May herself, of course, is a centrist. She doesn’t believe in party unity and seems determined to rub the Right’s noses in it, following its tactical blunder in selecting a woman of straw as its standard-bearer last year.
Other than Brexit, there is unlikely to be anything of interest to conservatives in the manifesto. Early leaks suggest that it will commit the Tories to borrowing large amounts of money to maintain the preposterous UN target of wasting 0.7% of GDP on overseas ‘aid’, i.e. cash handouts to every Third World dictator going.
Aid cash, by the way, is not properly audited. Much of it is left sitting in onshore accounts, blocked and used to underpin offshore Medium Term Note high-yield trading programs. The limited amount of auditing which is done is left in the hands of economic illiterates who think that because cash is just sitting in a bank account it’s not being used.
Which way will it go?
All campaigns are risky. That idiot Philip Hammond, no offense intended, committed the first major gaffe of the campaign by threatening tax rises. He still hasn’t grasped the Laffer Curve, and if he hasn’t grasped it by now it’s unlikely that he ever will. His plan to raise taxes would reduce the total tax take and increase the deficit.
However despite being lumbered with Philip Hammond, who can barely add up, Theresa May should win and win big. The only alternative to her as Prime Minister is Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, which says it all. I predict a Tory majority of between 50 and 100 seats, probably closer to 100 than 50, a small number of LibDem gains in London and just possibly a couple of seats for UKIP. The SNP’s obsession with staying in the EU’s sclerotic Single Market should cost them some seats. We may see Jeremy Corbyn doing rather better in Scotland than Ed Miliband did last time round, making up for expected losses in the north of England.
If last year’s referendum doomed British membership of the EU, this election should doom British membership of the Single Market. With a bit of luck Marine Le Pen will win the French presidential election, which would doom the EU itself, although I am not hopeful. The Fifth Republic is a Vichyist creation. The electoral system is rigged against anti-German candidates. Marine should make the run-off, but it’s difficult to see her winning the second round.
President Trump has got two major problems. They’re called Jared Kushner and Reince Priebus.
Kushner is reported to be working with that nice man Henry Kissinger. Although Henry was kind enough to treat me as an intellectual equal in our admittedly limited personal dealings with each other, we are on opposite sides of the fence politically. I’m on the Right side and he’s on the wrong side, no offense intended.
The intellectual powerhouse behind Donald Trump’s superbly successful presidential campaign was Steve Bannon. Jared Kushner has been waging war on Steve since President Trump took office. Kushner seems to be opposed to every major element of his father-in-law’s program and has pushed some frankly disastrous appointments, e.g. at Treasury and State.
So far as I can tell Kushner is opposed to the Wall, wants the US to stay in NAFTA and is desperate to keep those containers rolling in from China. His approach to North Korea is to do nothing and leave the problem to the next president. He’s apparently opposed to the US Embassy moving to Israel’s capital, which is Jerusalem, in case you didn’t know.
If Kushner gets his way, the next president will be a Democrat. By backing NAFTA and ongoing trade on unfair terms with communist China, he is condemning the Rust Belt states to further mass unemployment. Unless the President can do something about jobs, he won’t win the Rust Belt again.
I’m not saying that voters in key battleground states like Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania would return to the Democrats, who made sure they got thrown out of work in the first place. The problem is that disillusioned voters would stay at home and not vote.
Kushner’s strategy appears to be to hand victory in the mid-terms to the Democrats, ensuring that his father-in-law becomes a lame duck, and go for one term only. He doesn’t need the salary.
Steve Bannon genuinely wants to transform America and is committed to implementing the promises Donald Trump made to the people. I believe that the President is sincere, but if he doesn’t offload Kushner and Priebus soon, he won’t be able to deliver. The bitter dispute between Kushner and Bannon isn’t a personality conflict. It’s a political conflict.
Steve wants the Trump Administration to succeed and Donald Trump to win a second term. Kushner seemingly wants the administration to fail and the Democrats to win in 2020.
One of the casualties of Henry Kissinger’s, with respect, malign influence over US foreign policy is the proposed UK-US free trade deal. No one in Whitehall is working on it; and with Kushner and Priebus in the White House, it’s dead in the water, sadly.
The good news is that Kushner and Priebus backed the false flag attack on Syria. Once the President is made aware of the facts it’s likely that Kushner and Priebus will be the casualties, along with the equally anti-British General McMaster. The administration has been exposed to international ridicule over Khan Shaykhun. It’s not just that they clearly attacked the wrong guy, it’s that the mistake was so obvious. The Russians are falling about laughing, and rightly so.
There won’t be a war. Only the North Koreans would start one and they’re not wholly irrational, despite the silly hairdos. Kim Jong-Un’s military advisers are better informed than his hairdresser. North Korea’s forces are pretty, but they can’t fight, any more than Iraq’s could.
The administration’s response to the latest posturing from Pyongyang has been about the same as Hillary Clinton’s would have been: turn a carrier around, talk tough and leave it to Peking. Poor old Mike Pence was made to look a fool this week, standing by the side of feeble Oz PM Malcolm Turnbull, whilst the latter kow-towed to Peking. It’s a great pity for England that Australia’s cricket team isn’t as badly led as her government!
Turnbull’s intellectual limitations are such, with respect, that he actually believes in the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis. It’s one thing to spout nonsense. To actually believe the nonsense you are spouting is something else altogether. President Trump is a lot smarter, with respect.
This Week’s TV Review: Bosch, Season 3
Season 3 of this excellent TV adaptation of Michael Connelly’s fine Bosch books was released by Amazon on Friday. I’ve not yet had time to review the whole series (it came out all at once), but the early episodes are well up to the high standard set in the first two series.
It is actually quite difficult to fault this program. The cinematography is superb – you feel like you’re actually in LA. Maybe it’s the outdoors location shooting, but whatever they’re doing they’re doing it right.
Titus Welliver is superb as the lead, LAPD Robbery-Homicide Division detective Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch. The support cast is equally strong and the plots are fast-paced and credible.
With governments and intelligence agencies all over the world getting it wrong, it’s a huge relief to turn from Amateur Night Out to something turned out by serious professionals. If you’re not already a fan, watch this program!
Michael Shrimpton was a barrister from his call to the Bar in London in 1983 until being disbarred in 2019 over a fraudulently obtained conviction. He is a specialist in National Security and Constitutional Law, Strategic Intelligence and Counter-terrorism. He is a former Adjunct Professor of Intelligence Studies at the American Military University.