Thursday, July 13, 2017

Brexit: How's this for framing?


This is going to hurt PM May's government, and the opposition framing of the issue is brilliant:

Davis himself struck an emollient tone on Thursday, seeking to reassure MPs about the scope of the so-called Henry VIII powers, which will allow ministers to make changes to any laws necessary to achieve Brexit – and for two years afterwards.

Read the rest of the tussle here.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Trump: The asymmetric revolutionary warrior

Asymmetric Beaver

Why are Americans reeling in dismay over the state of politics? Why is the American media locked into total disbelief every day? What has happened?

A revolution.

Donald Trump is President, the result of a campaign that was totally different from any other; and is governing in a manner that is different from any previous president.

To understand Trump, read thisarticle; here’s the gist:

Donald Trump is revolutionary in that he not only has evolved the use of those same tools, but because he has flouted the rules of engagement. Trump has been engaged in asymmetric warfare from the very beginning. His detractors detest him for it. His supporters relish it.

We see it in how he governs. He declares for reelection within days of assuming office. He opens the White House press corps to blatant propagandists. He credits the fired FBI director when it suits him, disparages him when it doesn’t, and refers to any media report that doesn’t fit his narrative as “fake news.”

Why? Well, why not? Traditionalists wag tongues. Trump cackles and holds rallies. Asymmetrically.

Like asymmetric warriors throughout history, Trump doesn’t give a whit about the institutions at work or the normal rules of engagement. He has thereby created advantage from disadvantage. It’s not just the Democrats who are caught flat-footed. The establishment GOP candidates who had all the right credentials, funders and staffing got their clocks cleaned because they failed to adapt to the changing landscape (See, for example, Jeb Bush).

Trump is a distrupter, just like Google, Amazon, Uber etc.

Disrupters disrupt.

Chaos results as past patterns are shattered and competitors nonplussed.

The jury is out as to whether most disrupters will survive; they might in turn be pushed aside by other disrupters.

But if the turmoil in Washington puzzles you, take one step back, shed your traditional prism, and look at events there through a new prism: your disrupter prism.

Think Amazon when you try to understand what The Donald is doing.

It helps.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Why UK’s PM May won’t last 3 months

The UK election was a disaster for Theresa May. She wanted a strong majority (40+ seats) to allow her to cope with a handful or more of dissenting Tory MPs in the House, and secondarily (and a far less important reason) to send a message to the EU that the House strongly supported her hard Brexit stance.

And she wanted her tenure as prime minister to be legitimate in the sense that she had won an election and not just filled a vacant spot when Cameron fell on his sword.

Now she needs 324 seats to pass confidence bills (mostly financial ones) and she only won 318. There are 4 seats won by MPs who don’t take their seats in the House and therefore don’t vote, so she does not need 326 seats (half of 650 plus 1).

So she turned to a right wing party firmly rooted in the past and in northern Ireland, the DUP.  They have 10 seats which with her 318 put her at 328, 4 more than she needs.

But her hold on the Tory party will splinter within months.

Why? Because the DUP do not agree with May’s hard brexit negotiation posture:

She has been forced to cobble together a minority government with support of the Democratic Unionists, a small party based in Northern Ireland that won 10 seats and doesn’t support her hard-Brexit strategy. She also has to face a rejuvenated Labour Party under Leader Jeremy Corbyn, who picked up 31 extra seats and also firmly rejects her Brexit plans.

As soon as questions arise in the House regarding the negotiation position of May, she can expect the DUP to disagree with a hard exit policy. If she is forced to rely on them and has to trim her hard exist policy, this will lead a big enough group of hard exit Tory MP supporters to break from her, and she will lose the vote.

And she cannot expect either the LibDems or Labour to support her hard Brexit stance.
Paul Waldie has summarized this sword of Damocles’ vary aptly (my bolding):

Most analysts doubt the Tory-DUP alliance will last long and many say Ms. May will have to abandon her hard-Brexit stand and seek compromise. And that could lead to years of turmoil as Britain faces the constant threat of the government collapsing just as it negotiates Brexit with the EU.

“At any point a tiny number of either Conservatives or Democratic Unionist MPs could say ‘we won’t put up with this’ on anything that happens,” said Tony Travers, a professor of government at the London School of Economics. “That’s exactly why she wanted a majority, so she wouldn’t be at risk of small groups within Parliament undermining her capacity to govern.”

Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP, said on Friday that her party will work with Ms. May but won’t accept her Brexit terms.

“No one wants to see a hard Brexit; what we want to see is a workable plan to leave the European Union,” Ms. Foster said.

She is mindful that a majority of people in Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU during last year’s Brexit referendum and there are fears in the province that Brexit could lead to the return of a hard border with Ireland. The border was eliminated as part of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which ended the Troubles. Business leaders and economists say any return of a frontier would be devastating ...

So that leads back to Corbyn and his Labour Party.

And their task is very simple: to engineer a vote of confidence in May’s hard Brexit stance so that her majority dissolves. The trick will be to make such a vote linked to a financial vote, so that it becomes a confidence vote that could bring the government down, and that would require the DUP to support May’s hard Brexit position.

Is the Labour Party bright enough to engineer such a fall?

Methinks they are.

Just look at their brilliant moves to capture and then motivate hundreds of thousands of young people to turn out and vote for them.

Friday, June 09, 2017

UK Election 2017 Who Won What and Where

This site is a good analysis of the results.

One key factor for me is that Labour increased the percentage of younger voters from less than 40% in the last election to 70% this time.

If this holds, the Tories are in trouble!

Here's another take on the political campaigns and their targeting of younger voters:

What did Mrs May have to offer young people unable to get a decent job, a living wage or a place on the property ladder?

Where was her inspiring vision of the future? Where were the policies that would help them realise their aspirations?

It is true, of course, that many young Remainers wanted to punish the Tories for Brexit.

But Labour's manifesto positively spoiled the young with freebies and goodies, most obviously the hideously expensive promise to abolish university tuition fees overnight – a subject much discussed on social media.

Crucially, Mr Corbyn's allies recognised that in a society when, proportionately, more young people go to university than ever, it is vital for politicians to tap their idealism.

Hence Labour's tireless efforts to rebrand their hard-Left leader as the political equivalent of Star Wars's kindly sage Obi-Wan Kenobi, and to paint Mrs May as the cruel, wizened Galactic Emperor.

This campaign will reverberate through Western democracies for a long, long time. Every modern country has a big chunk of indebted, under employed young people ....

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Is this why Trump won?

Here's one analysis of why Trump won and the Clinton Democrats lost:

Why? Because
Trump’s brand of populism — and more importantly, that of working-class whites — differs in important ways from the populism of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
While the populism espoused by Sanders and Warren is economic, challenging C.E.O.s, major corporations and “the billionaire class,” Trump is the messenger of what Molyneux calls “political populism,” which “is, fundamentally, a story about the failure of government.”
Molyneux writes:
White working-class voters’ negative view of government spending undermines their potential support for many progressive economic policies. While they want something done about jobs, wages, education, and health care, they are also fiscally conservative and deeply skeptical of government’s ability to make positive change. So political populism not only differs from economic populism, but also serves as a powerful barrier to it.

Food for thought.

It is going to take more than a decade, and brand new leadership at all levels, for the Democrats to rise to power again.

Monday, June 05, 2017

UK Election - my forecast? A new government lead by Labour's Corbyn as MP

Now's a good time to stick my neck out and forecast that come June 8, PM May will be booted out of power and replaced shortly thereafter by a new Labour government, with Corbyn as Prime Minister.

Here's the latest Yougov forecast, which shows May's Tories at 310 votes (16 shy of the majority of 326 needed):

Yougov is trying a brand new and unique polling methodology - we will see within 3 days if their new method beats those used by others.

Note that the new Labout Government would need to be supported by an agreement by the SNP and by the LibDems to reach the 326 majority figure; if Northern Ireland's 18 seats also supports Labour (and LibDem does not), this also works.

If my forecast is correct, May will soon be out as leader of the Tories; a second referendum on Brexit with a choice between staying in the EU or leaving with the Brexit negotiated divorce terms; Labour will be forced to allow free votes in Parliament over the Brexit terms (many are not happy with Corbyn's stance); and UK politics will be shaken up as seldom before....

Sunday, June 04, 2017

UK June 8 Election and How Framing might destroy PM May

Remember Don’t think of an elephant

Does the name George Lakoff ring a bell? 

Does the concept of framing a debate in political discourse remind you of something?

If your answer is Yes, step this way and consider the article I quote below.

If your answer is No, then step that way and join Britain’s PM Theresa May, who does not seem to have a firm grasp on the rough and tumble of actual politicking, and who might be out of a job this coming Thursday.

As for framing, the Labour Partie, led by an inept bumbler with extreme left wing views, grabbed hold of a mistake May made and came up with the deadly phrase dementia tax to describe one of her new policies.

And the dementia tax framing forced her to back off that new policy, and helped the opinion polls in their tumble, as this take shows:

Their campaign has been waylaid by other issues in its manifesto, chief among them the contentious proposal to change the way in which social care is funded.
May’s intention, announced as part of a manifesto launch which promised to focus on “true Conservatism”, was to roll out a system which would raise the cost of care threshold to £100,000, but include the value of someone’s home in the calculation of their assets for home, as well as residential care.

UK government sources suggested that the combination of the new approach, coupled with the plan to means-test winter fuel payments, could save a total of around £2bn. However, the England-only policy, swiftly dubbed the “dementia tax”, was widely derided.

The strength of public opposition is evident when contrasting the results of two similar poll questions, taken before and after the announcement. One, conducted between 12 and 14 May, asked voters to choose the leader they trusted most when it comes to “protecting the interests of pensioners”. The Tory leader edged out Corbyn by 29 per cent to 28 per cent.

Yet a similar question asked of voters between 24 and 26 May – namely, who they trusted to “look after the future of our pensioners” – saw the Labour leader soar in front with 41 per cent to May’s 24 per cent.

“The social care issue is part of a wider narrative,” suggests Curtice. “People are thinking, ‘Hang on. This is someone who isn’t necessarily as surefooted as we might think’.”

Now May’s majority is in doubt; the nationalist party in Scotland, which will hold the balance of votes in a hung parliament have said they will support Labour rather than the Tories, and we might well see a BC-type of replacement government turf out the Tories, and throw the whole Brexit initiative into doubt.

And remember one thing: if May’s government is shy votes equal to or less than the number of seats that the Lib-Dems win on Thursday, then the Lib-Dems will hold the balance of power in the House.

And they have campaigned on outright rejection of Brexit, and the need to hold a second referendum once the Brexit terms are announced. Voters would be asked a simple question: Here are the Brexit terms. Do you want them to apply, or do you want to stay in the EU on the old terms?

Better buy lots of popcorn for the June 8 vote! You are gonna need it!

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