Today’s Observer has, inevitably, news of someone else who wants to set up a New Centrist Party (NCP). Hence, to save some of the phone calls I’ll get tomorrow asking whether the polls suggest a NCP would actually do well, here’s my answer.

First, one should not assume that there is actually a big appetite for a new party in the place some in the commentariat seem to think there is. While most of the public consider themselves to be at or around the political centre, this does not mean there is a consensus about what that centre is, or that those people who consider themselves to be in the “centre” necessarily share their views with what the Westminster/media think the “centre” means. Public opinion tends to the left on economics, and is quite right-wing on more cultural issues like immigration and crime. There may well be a gap for a political party putting forward that combination of views, but it doesn’t seem to be the same gap that most of the proposed centrist parties are seeking to fill, which often seem to be aimed at a far more liberal worldview.

Even assuming there is a gap to be filled, can we tell how well it would do? Could you do a poll asking how many people would support a new party is one of the most depressing questions I get asked. It is one of those things that opinion polling simply can’t do very well. If you were setting up a NCP there is certainly lots of useful things market research could tell you about which demographic groups are most open to considering it, which messages would chime, what obstacles it would face – but in terms of predicting how well it would actually do? No, it can’t be done in any sort of useful way.

Imagine someone set up a new NCP in the UK. How would you ask a question measuring its support? Well, you can’t just say would you vote Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem or NCP, as no one would know what the hell NCP was or what it stood for. But if you tell people in the question all about this new party, then you are essentially giving it a little advert, pushing all its positive attributes in the question and putting it at the forefront of people’s minds, so that would be hideously leading. Also, what about all the other things that drive voting intention apart from policies? What about existing party loyalties? Who the party leader is? What about about how seriously the media take it? What about whether your friends and collegues are all talking about it, or have never heard of it? What about whether it is seen as a serious contender, or as a wasted vote in a tight Con -vs- Lab battle? Whether people would vote for a new party is dependent on so many unknown hypothetical questions it is impossible to expect people to give any sort of useful answer.

Today’s Observer has a news story about another NCP that may or may not be launched. Except, wasn’t there another one of those a month or two ago? And another one a few months before that? Didn’t George Osborne’s old Spad set one up? If you look throught the Electoral Commission’s list of registered parties there are a fair few examples of people setting up new Centrist, pro-European parties over the last couple of years, none of which have made any impact at all. This is not because of their political positioning (I expect all have espoused very similar views), but because no one really noticed them or considered them a serious electoral contender.

A party with £50 million to spend on publicity should at least get noticed, but a lot more will depend on how seriously it is taken. Do established MPs who bring credibility and a voice in Parliament defect to it? Is it reported along the main parties in media? Does it make a leader who is known to the public and seen as a viable, potential Prime Minister? How, under FPTP, does it propose to deal with the Liberal Democrats who are fishing for the same vote? Those are the actual obstacles facing a new party getting off the starting line (let alone actually being a success at elections), and opinion polls can’t predict how well they’d deal with them.


683 Responses to “On how well a New Centrist Party would do”

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  1. Carfew,

    Get it right please.
    You write accurately
    “Majority of voters back tax rise in aid of the NHS.”

    but anyone with any experience knows with further questioning this always polls “Majority of voters back tax rise FOR OTHER PEOPLE THAN THEMSELVES AND FAMILY in aid of the NHS”

    Most car users on congested roads support a car ban for OTHER PEOPLE

    When questioned ‘Will you personally pay an extra £50 a week out of your pay packet or gladly give back £50 a week in benefits for X ?’ Then the answer is never a majority of people polled.

    The government is always welcome to spend more on X if like X provided it personally costs that person zero in extra cash or lost benefits.

  2. WB

    The perspective I suggest was in respect of his conduct of WW2 as it relates to the people of UK. We were discussing his war time record as PM

    You now raise a different matter-his record as Home Secretary in 1910.as it relates to TonyPandy.

    Of course-it goes without saying, that perspective in respect of WC’s total political career will also include that episode.

    I note your rather dismissive opening words -“OK you like Churchill I get it. “.

    I suppose I could respond with “OK you don’t like Churchill-I get it”.

    But that would be to trivialise discussion of a major player in British Politics, the survival of UK in WW2

  3. “France is poised to join punitive strikes on Syria over the alleged use of chemical weapons. The president set a “red line” on the use of such weapons last May.
    Mr Macron believes Syrian leader Bashar Al Assad was responsible for an attack on Saturday near Damascus that rescue workers say killed dozens of people.
    “If France doesn’t react now that the conditions are met, we would lose all credibility,” Bruno Tertrais, a political scientist at the Foundation for Strategic Research told AFP.”

    The National

  4. @”Labour to offer free bus trips for under?25s”

    Restricted apparently to bus services receiving public financial support.

  5. “we have called a session of the OPCW Executive Council next Wednesday to discuss next steps.”

    Boris

  6. @ Colin

    I apologise that you were offended by the I get it phrase: that was not my intention which was in fact to lighten the mood (it appears to be the phrase of choice for modern politicians, when they think the public consider them out of touch).

    As to Churchill I consider him to be, like all the rest of us, flawed. However, Churchill has the redeeming quality which does not apply to the rest of us that he was a great leader with the opportunity to demonstrate his greatness. He fitted the times perfectly for that moment in history.

    What I am not prepared to do is deify him in the way that some (not you) are wont to do, ignoring the flaws and attributing to him the entire credit for victory in WW2.

  7. Daily mash:

    THE law of averages means attacking Syria will be a resounding success unlike Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, Western leaders believe.

    Politicians are convinced their policy of bombing things in hideously complicated conflicts with no clear objective is bound to work one of these days.

    Theresa May said: “There’s clearly nothing wrong with the overall plan of destabilising countries full of armed factions who hate each other, so we can put previous failures down to bad luck.

    “This time in Syria we’ll bomb the baddies and the whole unpleasant situation will resolve itself. After all these completely random humanitarian disasters we’re due some good luck.

    “People say Iraq and Libya went wrong because we didn’t understand the Sunni-Shia divide and weren’t even sure who we were supporting, but that all sounds a bit fanciful to me.

    “I think it was probably just down to bad weather or the wrong type of bombs.”

  8. The bus policy seems very odd to me.

    Some departments where I work are staffed people aged from 18 or 19 up to 60+, and are all paid the same. I’m sure they all have cost of living type issues.

    Why it would be okay for some to get the bus to work for free, and other pay based on being older? It look unjust to me.

  9. The National Minimum Wage (NMW) is the minimum pay per hour most workers under the age of 25 are entitled to by law.

    People under 25 are more likely to be studying also.

  10. WB

    Thanks.

    He was loved by British people for getting them through WW2

    Between 1940 and 1945 Winston Churchill was probably the most popular British prime minister of all time. In May 1945 his approval rating in the opinion polls, which had never fallen below 78 per cent, stood at 83 per cent. (1)

    But he was never deified -as he discovered in the 1945 GE.

    (1) BBC

  11. Give student a student pass.

    Those working should not get preferential rates of public transport though.

  12. @Catmanjeff “The bus policy seems very odd to me.
    Some departments where I work are staffed people aged from 18 or 19 up to 60+, and are all paid the same. I’m sure they all have cost of living type issues.
    Why it would be okay for some to get the bus to work for free, and other pay based on being older? It look unjust to me.”

    Agreed. There’s a case for students and pensioners and the unemployed to have a free bus pass. Anybody in work should have the same rules applied regardless of age.

  13. COLIN
    SKY report.
    So does this mean that Det Sgt Nick Bailey didn’t get food poisoning after skipping ‘round for a meal with the Skripals?
    :)

  14. There is an intriguing bit in this awful report:-

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/12/syria-attack-experts-check-signs-nerve-agent

    “Jerry Smith, who led the UN mission to supervise the withdrawal of the Syrian government’s stockpile of sarin in late 2013, said the symptoms displayed by patients could suggest exposure to an agent in addition to chlorine. “It’s worth elucidating the knowns,” he said. “Casualty rates, apparent speed of death and the shaking.” Organophosphate-based poison, including sarin, causes such symptoms. Pinpoint pupils and severe mouth foaming have been telltale signs in past attacks.”

    Was the 2013 protocol specifically in respect of “Sarin”?

    Have we got yet another use of organophosphate novichok family agents in cynical avoidance of the letter of the CW prohibition law?

    Remember it is claimed that this family of chemical agents was specifically developed to avoid the declaration protocols under OPCW/UN regulations.

    This is the stuff used in Salisbury.

  15. DAVID COLBY

    So it seems-who would have guessed it ?

  16. I appear to be in a minority of one. I really like the idea of free bus travel for under-25s. I also strongly support the equivalent scheme for pensioners.

    This is less about perks, but more about getting drivers off the roads.

  17. @Charles “@Sea Change – Hireton posted this link. http://the.48andbeyond.co.uk/2018/02/why-brexit-will-devastate-uk.html?m=1 Danny and I agree with it but then we would wouldn’t we. Could you possibly take a look at it from a different point of view? Unfortunately I will be away today and so unable to read any reply immediately but a thoughtful leave response to a strong remain article would, as I see it, start to take things forward.”

    Firstly I would say, hats off to her for making a go of it. From a business perspective, her margins are too low for this to be a sustainable long-term going concern. Her profit is stated at 10K-70K p.a. If we take the average of 40K p.a then she’s barely got anything left over after paying the principal of the mortgage on the building which must come out of profits. The next global downturn will likely end her business as she as no buffer whatsoever unless she gives her business a radical overhaul. She should take immediate action to increase her profitability and brand distinctiveness and also to not be so dependent on the EU market.

    On to the points she raises. Yes, absolutely there will be increased costs selling into the EU once we leave the single market and the customs union. This is unavoidable, the size of the costs will be determined by the negotiations. It’s in the interests of all parties to minimize these, however.

    Do I think some manufacturing firms will go out of business? Yes undoubtedly – if their margins cannot sustain an increase in costs this will clearly happen. I have always believed we will take a hit in the short to medium term as our economy is rebalanced to life outside of the EU.

    Brexit was a political decision. Control of our laws, borders, courts, and money. Leavers generally see it in those terms. Remainers see it as various shades of economic Armageddon and have continued to believe that the economic argument will win over Leavers. I don’t see that happening.

  18. Lots of anomalies with free bus passes. Why is it pensioners who are still working and or have large pensions get free bus passes but some one below pension age on minimum wage doesn’t?

    This latest proposal is no more unfair than the current system, although I suppose it is likely that on average some one under 25 will be earning less than some one over 25.

    The only fair way to do it would be to means test it, but I suspect the costs will outweigh the benefits.
    In the mean

  19. Neil J

    ” Why is it pensioners who are still working and or have large pensions get free bus passes”

    Very good question, I suppose it is too costly to means test the benefit. Same applies to heating benefit for pensioners. In both cases necessary to help pensioners who exist only on the state pension, but totally unnecessary for rich pensioners.

  20. Millie: I appear to be in a minority of one. I really like the idea of free bus travel for under-25s. I also strongly support the equivalent scheme for pensioners.

    Make that two.

    For good social and environmental reasons, subsidising buses makes sense. And the best, least bureaucratic way to do that is to pay the fares of people who wouldn’t otherwise be travelling, at off-peak times when there is spare capacity.

  21. Sea Change

    Excellent response to Charles/Hireton and much better than my short response.We are at one on your last three paragraphs and I agree with your final conclusion.

    Have a good afternoon all.

  22. TOH: In both cases necessary to help pensioners who exist only on the state pension, but totally unnecessary for rich pensioners.

    I think you’re overlooking the social benefits of buses being used by all types of pensioners, not just poor ones.

    I use the bus a couple of times a month, instead of using the car, because it’s free and environmentally less damaging than driving. When I do so, almost everyone else on the bus is an OAP. The revenue generated by those OAPs is what keeps the route viable, and available during the morning and evening peaks for people who don’t have cars and need to get to work.

    Economics apart, I think any sort of social mixing is good: we all tend to live too much in our own social bubbles.

  23. @COLIN

    Most history books show that some Soviet Dictator and a US President were the saviours of the UK. Churchill’s part was essentially make sure that we believed in UK exceptionalism. Whilst it was important from our perspective and also ended empire since it was clear that the empire was in a slow death.

    What was most interesting about the WWII was the amount of miscalculation on all sides, the turning point of the war from a strategic perspective and the reality that the most important factor for the UK not to be invaded was the fact that we have body of water between us and mainland Europe. These factors were as important to UK position as anything that Churchill did. The Soviets understood that if the Western Europe was defeated the Soviet Union was next. Stalin himself was paranoid about it hence the treaty and division of Poland. Indeed one General pointed out “we are 500km closer to Moscow” to which another pointed out and the are 500km closer to Berlin.

    In truth 9 out of 10 German soldiers fought on the eastern front. We often are taught history from a perspective that make it feel we were much more important than we were.

    In many ways people argue the Stalingrad, Kursk, Midway and then D Day as big turning points in the war. Funnily enough where we had our greatest success was in Egypt which was considered a side show strategically.

    Now was Churchill a great leader? I would agree, we point to him as an example of what we consider leadership of our nation. He was important is restoring morale when in fairness the cold hard facts stated the UK was on a long term downward spiral in terms of it position in the world. He also ushered in a new way of thinking. His view of a more united Europe as an example was forward thinking but he was also a person that was also had a negative side which should not be understated.

  24. On free bus pass (broader than under 25)

    Tallinn made public transport free. It had a very good purpose – attracting 30,000 more people to the capital (and their tax essentially financed it). It was also found that people walked less as a result (so, not just replacing cars) – they used to walk a bus stop, now they hopped on.

    In contrast, bus travel was made free in Toeplin (near Berlin) (mainly weekend holidays) were made free. It rapidly bankrupted the company – the usage went from 40,000 to 600,000. As a result, they introduced a €44 tourism tax to finance it. But the air is cleaner.

    In Belgium (Hasselt) free public transport was introduced (to avoid the need for a ringroad). It helped the centre – 10 times increase in passengers, quasi bankrupt counicl, so now free only for under 19 and over 25.

    With Labour’s proposal there are further problems. Obviously the over-25 (or somebody else) would have to pay for it. Also villagers would pay more for the transportation of the metropolitan youth, while probably it would be better if there were more buses in the rural areas (it would also be cheaper)

    SO, the usual populist stuff.

  25. @JONATHAN STUART-BROWN

    “Carfew,
    Get it right please.

    You write accurately

    “Majority of voters back tax rise in aid of the NHS.”

    but anyone with any experience knows with further questioning this always polls “Majority of voters back tax rise FOR OTHER PEOPLE THAN THEMSELVES AND FAMILY in aid of the NHS”

    Most car users on congested roads support a car ban for OTHER PEOPLE

    When questioned ‘Will you personally pay an extra £50 a week out of your pay packet or gladly give back £50 a week in benefits for X ?’ Then the answer is never a majority of people polled.

    The government is always welcome to spend more on X if like X provided it personally costs that person zero in extra cash or lost benefits.”

    ————

    Jonathon, your post is wrong in almost every particular.

    First of all, I didn’t write the headline. I just quoted it. It may come as a shock to you, but I didn’t conduct the polling either. I didn’t write the questions.

    So if you have issues with the poll, fine, but don’t be blaming me. We report polls in part so we can critique them, but we don’t usually shoot the messenger, because it makes no sense to do so.

    As it happens though, your complaint is nonsense anyway. Firstly, when you complain that further questioning leads to people saying they support taxes for others, not themselves, it doesn’t apply in this case BECAUSE THE QUESTION WAS SPECIFICALLY ABOUT THOSE POLLED PAYING MORE.

    It is therefore wrong to claim that a majority never agree to pay more themselves, because in this instance, that is exactly what has happened. A majority have agreed to pay more themselves.

    As the article states, normally you’d be right, but this is exceptional: it hasn’t happened in a decade. Even more remarkable, a lot more Tories now say they’ll pay more.

    All this is clear from the article. It’s like you just read the headline and went gaga for a bit.

  26. @Laszlo

    Well, it may be populist, but it can also help reinvigorate town centres and as you say, help keep the air cleaner. The young are also struggling with high rents and builds on zero hour contracts.

    And it’s supposed to be funded by car taxes, isn’t it?

  27. …high rents and bills…

  28. Over 25 is over 65…

  29. Carfrew

    “And it’s supposed to be funded by car taxes, isn’t it?”

    Yes, but I would like to see an effect-study. Increase in the number of passengers, number of new vehicles needed, number of roads need changes (Manchester Oxford Road is a good example for a successful plan, but it cost a fortune), and so on. I doubt that you could finance it from road tax.

    It would be easier to make public (!) transport cost tax deductible – and making every penny earned (including benefits) subject to tax (obviously a progressive one).

  30. @Sea Change

    “Agreed. There’s a case for students and pensioners and the unemployed to have a free bus pass. Anybody in work should have the same rules applied regardless of age.”

    ——-

    What about the low-waged. A few decades of liberal economics has predictably resulted in increasing numbers on zero hours with high rents and inflated privatised bills, in turn making affording their own cars and train tickets more problematic than before.

    There are also the environmental concerns, and trying to ease congestion, reversing the decline of town centres etc. etc.

  31. @MILLIE

    Whilst I think it is a good idea, the problem with public transport out side major conurbation centres is availability. What I have found interesting is that my parents live in east london and my aunt lives in south east london. Going by bus is a 3 hour journey time round trip by car it is but an hour . Most OAPs are not really time sensitive in terms of journey times. My mum would take the bus to avoid a 400m walk now she is close to 80 years of age so a free bus pass is used constantly and she does not care when she get there or will make time for the journey. Most younger people don’t have that sort of free time so they will take the route and the system that takes the shortest time and often that is a car.. So whilst I agree it would help I don’t think that it would really move as many people of the road as you think.

  32. @Laszlo

    Yes, I’m not clear on what’s the best approach to funding it. My concern would tend to be, what’s the best way to maximise the return on the investment.

    (Went to see Thundercat at the Albert Hall in Manch. recently and it does seem like the Oxford Road end of the city has a lot more going on these days…)

  33. “Very good question, I suppose it is too costly to means test the benefit. Same applies to heating benefit for pensioners. In both cases necessary to help pensioners who exist only on the state pension, but totally unnecessary for rich pensioners.”

    ——

    Plus it helps ensure acceptance of the policy if all pensioners get it, and you can claw the cost back from the rich in tax anyway. Universal provision can be very efficient.

  34. As I recall Margaret Thatcher is claimed to have said “a man who, beyond the age of 26, finds himself on a bus can count himself as a failure”

    Has the age been chosen with that in mind :-)

  35. @CARFREW

    When I was unemployed I found that I used my bike to get around. My Job centre was 12km (8 miles away) so I would cycle it since parking was a nightmare. I also found that when commuting to work in Bristol my journey time was similar to my partner who used park and ride. I would see her step on the bus as I when over the M5 avonmouth bridge getting the Park and ride and if I pushed it would see her get off the bus in the centre of town. that was an 18km journey. I once had to be in town for a 9am meeting at the bank so I decided to dress smart and so drove. I remembered it took over an 1hour to get into town and then 20 minutes to find a parking spot I could have cycled in had a shower got changed and walked to the ank in that time and I would not have paid £10 in parking either

    Luckily Bristol has OK cycling infrastructure and in parts it is fairly decent. as I said to Millie. much of the problem with public transport is the time sensitive nature of the journey. Often the real problem is door to bus stop and bus top to destination and also the fact that the service outside major conurbations is pretty poor.

  36. @NEILJ

    “Lots of anomalies with free bus passes. Why is it pensioners who are still working and or have large pensions get free bus passes but some one below pension age on minimum wage doesn’t?”

    ——-

    Well it might be for the same reason boomers have been advantaged in lots of ways: they’re a powerful voting block.

  37. @PTRP

    Yes, I’m sure cycling can work well in some scenarios, but less well in others, like if you have to take your children to school then get to the first of your three zero hour jobs…

  38. @ passtherockplease

    @MILLIE

    During the Early 1980’s before I went to Ruskin in 1985 (and before de-regulation of buses) in certain villages in the Gower the bus would run on Mondays, Tuesdays, or Wednesdays only (depending which village) and would be one bus in the morning to Swansea and one bus in the late afternoon back from there. Thursday didn’t have an additional service stop anywhere (probably relating back to the regular half day closing in Swansea on a Thursday, not quite sure when that stopped probably about 1981/2). Fridays and Saturdays, because the service was so busy, did not have these additional excursions off the main route into the villages.
    The local authority had stopped subsidising a daily service a few years earlier because the villages were changing: many more retired residents than working age individuals lived in those villages and the retiree’s were, generally very well off individuals who had moved from England attracted by the area and the (then) relatively low property prices.
    The decline of bus use had started in the 1970,s with car ownership in the area rocketing, this became a vicious circle for the bus industry, the more car ownership the fewer passengers, the fewer passengers the need to reduce service frequency, the less frequent services causing more inconvenience and the need/want to get a car to reduce the inconvenience.
    I think successive governments, of all colours, underestimated the impact of car ownership on the bus and rail industries, and designed roads to make driving more convenient, unfortunately the convenience has gone, witness London’s Orbital Car Park the M25, and the disadvantages of pollution, congestion and road deterioration are manifest. I for one welcome anything that might begin the process of reversing that trend.

  39. Sea Change, TOH
    “Brexit was a political decision. Control of our laws, borders, courts, and money. Leavers generally see it in those terms. Remainers see it as various shades of economic Armageddon and have continued to believe that the economic argument will win over Leavers. I don’t see that happening.”

    Surely this is the problem though. You say that it is a good thing politically. I say that it is a bad thing politically.

    If my view and yours are diametrically opposed over the politics, and if we wrap all leavers and all remainers up in the same blanket, you can say that this is true for close to half the population each way. If our conflicting opinions cancel out, all that leaves us with is the economics, and we both believe them to be bad.

    So politically we have a zero sum, and economically a negative sum. the overall outcome is negative when you take everyone into account.

  40. @CARFREW

    I full understand but \i also think that car culture is partly ingrained. I live in a town just outside Bristol. It grew such that it is the largest town without a railway station and the numerous schemes to get the railway reconnected have stalled for almost as long as I have been here and have been part of the requirement for the town for almost two decades. Getting the bus costs almost as much parking and the journey times as I mentioned are not that much better the long and short of it is that using your car has to be made more expensive in order to subsidise better public transport all round.

    The other issue I have is a large proportion of journeys are of under 2miles. I used to bus it to school and yet I see a number of people do the school run in big SUVs having travelled less than 1mile (a 20 minute walk for junior school child, some of it I understand is about child safety and the heighten awareness of such issues but much of it is cultural. I remember renting a mountain bike in the US and cycling the 5miles to the trail. I met someone from the town I was staying at and he drove the 10 miles round trip and then proceeded to do 40 miles of hard mountain biking and yet would not dream of cycling 10 miles round trip. I see the same issue in my town whereby people would not walk anywhere because it is easier to take the car. Peoples lives seem just more time sensitive these days perhaps.

  41. @B&B
    @THE OTHER HOWARD
    @SEA CHANNGE

    I think part of the problem is what people feel is the relative importance of the idea of sovereignty, subsidiarity and in part national identity.

    For me it is rather interesting that subsidiarity is only a concern of national government. We have in Europe the most centralised government structures so our view of subsidiarity is markedly different from view of the same in the say Germany or France where locally elected officials seem to have much greater sway. It is why I think sovereignty become a byword for control. We actually lack the subsidiarity that we crave in my view not because of the EU but because of our own government. Local authorities are often toothless and penniless in the face of what National government an impose, corporations and out litigate and local decisions are often few and far between.

    The point is we make most of our own laws and those that we don’t make alone we make in conjunction with our EU partners. However in my view what we seem to be craving is seems to me is basically a decision making process that includes the electorate. Voting leave has not done this and I think we seem to take for granted many of the things that being in the EU has promoted.

    The one good thing about leaving the EU is that it has exposed some of the things that our own government has stalled in Europe and now exposed to making decisions that the UK is playing catch up. I found for example the best example of Gove’s reversal of UK long standing opposition to the banning pesticides that have been known for some time to affect bees. Indeed the government had set in motion plans to stall even further when they suddenly had an about face. We seem to blame the EU for all our woes and seem to praise ourselves for all the EU successes. To my mind when campaigning for remain what surprised me was not that the result was than close we are treated to a huge amount of negativity about the EU which had often gone unchallenged.

    The link basically tell a personal story of a situation that is common amongst my line of work too whereby people are unsure as to what new rules will be for contract workers that ply their trade across the EU. It is an added complication to already a reasonably tough family existence in some cases. Yes everyone will adapt but I am not sure what changes will be made and whether it is all worth it. One part of me thinks that it in the end the best it will be is meh and once the dust has settled I am not sure that it would have been worth it.

    In the meantime the real issue of subsidiarity will be quietly ignored. You’ll have a MP from Worcestershire making a decision on fracking in a Council from Lancashire have opposed by virtue of being a minister for business or some such. You will not hear an outcry you will not see a vote on it indeed it will just pass you by like a lot of decisions that we seem to not be in control of. That is what I find ironic about the whole debate.

  42. Is Theresa May going to join military action without Parliamentary approval?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-43733861

    I consider that this would be a retrograde step but one I would not be surprised at, throughout her Premiership thus far (remembering that it is less than two years old) the Prime Minister and the Government have shown a sharp reluctance to consult Parliament unless forced to do so.

  43. Alec @ 7.57 am

    I didn’t have time to comment this morning as it`s been a nice day here, the first for some time, and we quickly went out to do some jobs in the hills.

    But the interviewer on Today who totally failed to challenge Nigel Lawson`s distortions and lies, was Justin Webb, not John Humph. Justin was on the programme again this morning, showing his right-wing bias by relentlessly over-talking and interrupting a person urging caution in dealing with Putin and the Syrian government.

    It was so pleasant over-looking Glen Buchat with a fabulous view that I nearly forgot to switch on for R4 World at One, to check if Trump had started WW3.

    But no eagles/harriers visible, just a soaring buzzard, and though I worried about having part of our vehicle on the single-track road, not one other vehicle or person passed in 30 minutes.

    The other thing to report is that I`ve never known so many houses up for sale in our NE hinterland – it`s the long winter and negligible road clearing of snow, plus the utter gloom of Brexit, that`s done it.

  44. I ought to have added or clarified that the properties for sale include farms/farm workers cottages.

  45. “Is Theresa May going to join military action without Parliamentary approval”

    ——-

    Weeeeeeewellll. What happens if by the time she gets Parliament to vote, there’s been an opinion poll showing public not keen? Like wot happened to Cameron?

  46. Free bus passes would involve another layer of bureaucracy, which would have it’s own expense and complications of course.

  47. @B&B ” You say that it is a good thing politically. I say that it is a bad thing politically.”

    To be fair, I did not say it was a good or bad decision just that it was a political decision about control.

  48. Trump`s mood might have been upset as much by the news that the first giant wind turbine had been successfully erected in Aberdeen Bay, as by the Russian/Syrian probable doings.

    Though I can`t fathom why a handful of stately wind turbines should be more disagreeable to golfers than the rows of laid-up rusting supply oil/gas vessels also in the view.

    But Trump spent probably a million fighting the turbines in councils, courts, governments and in sending us messages telling us which parties not to vote for in the Scottish election.

  49. [email protected] s Theresa May going to join military action without Parliamentary approval? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-43733861
    I consider that this would be a retrograde step but one I would not be surprised at, throughout her Premiership thus far (remembering that it is less than two years old) the Prime Minister and the Government have shown a sharp reluctance to consult Parliament unless forced to do so.

    The decision to take military action or go to war are the prerogatives of Her Majesty’s Government not Parliament. Until a Government decides to relinquish this power and place a Bill before Parliament to do so, them’s the rules. You may have a long wait to see this changed.

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