Sunday, 31 December 2017

Glasgow - Joke of the Year

Readers in Glasgow seem to share my scepticism at the City Council's hilarious response to my recent FOI request. 

If senior officials are to be believed, a faulty air conditioning unit has apparently defeated Glasgow's IT system and not just that because Scotland's largest council appears to have no back-up system in place to safeguard official documents and official records.

I will, of course, be submitting an FOI Review Request in the days ahead, but in the meantime Glasgow City Council wins my award for the Best Joke of 2017.

Air con failure hahaha best joke ever!!


Thats like me telling the teacher the dog ate my homework.....they are having a laugh......or do they think we arw buttoned up the back. GCC need to get their act together


Typical council stalling tactics again anything to keep it going ....come on gcc get paying and stop pissing about you would be on our case if we owed you pay up for workers as we have to pay up for glasgow wit a joke.



Glasgow, FOI and Equal Pay (28/12/17)

My latest FOI request to Glasgow City Council has hit a problem because council officials cannot locate a report on 'Service Reform' to the Corporate Management Team (CMT) held on 5 January 2010.

Now Glasgow is Scotland's largest, best resourced council and you would expect that important records and reports to be 'backed up' in a secure location.

But in this case officials say that a faulty air conditioning unit caused disruption to the City Council's IT functionality in 2015 which 'may' explain why the report I requested cannot be located.

I find that quite incredible, I have to say, given the importance all organisations place these days on backing up and securing their data.

So I plan to submit another FOI Review Request to the City Council in the New Year asking for a more thorough and convincing explanation than the nonsense they've saved up so far.

In the meantime here's what Glasgow had to say for itself along with a Tweet to James Dornan, the MSP for Glasgow Cathcart. 


Glasgow City Council's FOI response


Please provide me with the note of the meeting of Glasgow City Council's 'Financial Challenges Group' dated 15 December 2009. 

Please also provide me with a copy of the 'key points' of the Service Reform Programme and Financial Challenges Workstream Projects referred to at Item 5 in the note of the Core Corporate Management Team (CCMT) meeting dated 5 January 2010. 


A copy of the Council’s Financial Challenges Group meeting of 15 December 2009 is enclosed with this response sheet. 

At this time, we have been unable to identify the specific report referred to from CMT of 5 January 2010 and so in terms of section 17(1) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 we must advise you that we do not hold the information that you have requested. We will continue to search for this document but we are required to respond to you within the FOI timescales with our current position. The document you have requested is a number of years old and as you may be aware, the Council suffered significant disruption to our IT systems in December 2015 which was caused by a catastrophic failure of an air conditioning unit. This caused a disruption in IT functionality and it may be that this is the reason why the information in question cannot be located. If we do find the information you have asked for, we will advise you accordingly. 

James Dornan SNP

22 November 2017

Annemarie O'Donnell
Chief Executive
Glasgow City Council

Dear Ms O'Donnell

FOISA Request
I would like to make the following request under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. 
  1. Please provide me with the note of the meeting of Glasgow City Council's 'Financial Challenges Group' dated 15 December 2009.
  2. Please also provide me with a copy of the 'key points' of the Service Reform Programme and Financial Challenges Workstream Projects referred to at Item 5 in the note of the Core Corporate Management Team (CCMT) meeting dated 5 January 2010.
I look forward to your reply and would be grateful if you could respond to me by e-mail at:

Kind regards

Mark Irvine 

Unlikely Hero

Image result for unlikely hero

In the absence of any effective leadership from Jeremy Corbyn and his merry band of leftist ideologues, Labour's Andrew Adonis has stepped into the breach over Brexit. 

Now Adonis may be an unlikely hero, but if the result of the 2016 EU referendum had gone the other way those opposed to the European Union would have instigated another 'Leave' campaign the very next day.

So there is nothing sacrosanct about the result, particularly as no one voted for the mess that is now ensuing over the UK's future trading links with the largest 'common market' in the world. 

Read what John Rentoul has to say via the link below to The Independent.

Andrew Adonis’s resignation means the fight against Brexit may be turning into a campaign to rejoin the EU
The former minister’s tirade against Theresa May could mark the turning point in the campaign to stay in the European Union

By John Rentoul - The Independent

Andrew Adonis is one of the most remarkable ministers of postwar Britain. Apart from prime ministers and chancellors, few ministers leave a mark. James Callaghan as transport minister introduced zebra crossings – the first trial ones were blue and yellow stripes – in 1949, although he was later Chancellor and Prime Minister. Barbara Castle as Minister for Transport introduced the breathalyser.

Adonis was a transport minister too, and leaves the High Speed 2 rail link, planned to open in 2025, as his monument. But he was also an education minister in Tony Blair’s government, creating academy schools, which have helped improve the life chances of hundreds of thousands of people. And he created Teach First.

Naturally, his achievements are controversial, but as a force for change Adonis has had no equal. He continued to drive ambitious and creative ideas as chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, to which George Osborne appointed him in 2015, because he wanted the Commission to have the “bipartisan authority to generate a national consensus over long-term thinking”. So much for that high-sounding idea.

Adonis’s impact is all the more extraordinary because, as those who disagree with him are quick to point out, the only thing to which he has ever been elected is Oxford City Council (he was a Social Democrat and then a Liberal Democrat councillor, 1987-91). His impact on national life has been achieved as a policy adviser at 10 Downing Street from 1997, as a minister in the House of Lords 2005-10, and as head of Osborne’s quango. 

Corbyn's Brexit (30/12/17)

Image result for push me pull you + doctor dolittle images

Jeremy Corbyn has been forced yet again to his stance over Brexit which in reality is little different to that of the Conservative Government.

If you ask me, this is explained by Corbyn's long hostility towards the European Union along with his track record as Labour leader and as a backbench MP which can be illustrated by:

  • Corbyn voting to oppose the UK's membership of the EU (EEC) in 1975
  • Corbyn voting against the EU's Maastricht Treaty in 1993
  • Corbyn voting against the EU's Lisbon Treaty in 2008
  • Corbyn backing a referendum to leave the EU in 2011
  • Corbyn campaigning half-heartedly (at best '7 out of 10') during the EU referendum in 2016 
  • Corbyn calling for Article 50 (on leaving the EU) to be triggered immediately after the 2016 referendum

So the upshot is that Labour continues to support a policy that is opposed by the majority of Labour members because the ideologically driven politics of the party leadership view the EU as a 'bosses club', rather than an institution that whatever its faults has helped bring peace and prosperity to Europe for the past 50 years.

Jeremy Corbyn denies claims Labour's Brexit stance is 'confusing' as he rules out second EU referendum

The Labour leader says he accepts the UK will leave the EU but he will not allow the country to "go off a cliff in March 2019".

Image:Jeremy Corbyn is 'not advocating' a second Brexit referendum

By David Mercer - Sky News

Jeremy Corbyn has denied that Labour's position on Brexit is "confusing" as he ruled out support for a second referendum.

The Labour leader said his party accepted the UK was formally leaving the European Union but it would not allow the country to "go off a cliff in March 2019".

It comes after Labour deputy leader Tom Watson said nothing should be ruled out in the Brexit negotiations.

"Our position is that we are not advocating a second referendum," Mr Corbyn told the i newspaper.

"We have had a referendum which came to a decision. The negotiations are still ongoing, albeit well behind schedule, and we've set out the kind of relationship we want to have with Europe in the future."

On Labour's Brexit stance, Mr Corbyn said: "I don't think it's confusing.

Image:Mr Corbyn denied Labour's Brexit stance was 'confusing'

"We are formally leaving the European Union of course - that is the position - (but we want to) develop a good economic relationship with Europe and recognise the interdependence of our industries."

Earlier this month, nine Labour MPs supported a Lib Dem amendment to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, which sought a second referendum on the terms of the Brexit deal.

The same unsuccessful amendment was opposed by two Labour MPs.

A group of 70 London-based Labour councillors also reportedly wrote a letter asking shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer to commit to provide the opportunity for "people to change their mind".

Lib Dem Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said Mr Corbyn's latest remarks showed Labour was "nailing (its) colours to the mast in support of hard Brexit".

"The party of opposition has again shirked their responsibility to oppose Theresa May's Government," he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Corbyn said he believes he can maintain momentum behind his party even if there is no general election until 2022.

'Bog Standard' Officials (24/06/16)

Jeremy Corbyn appearing on The Last Leg

I was unfazed one way or the other by Jeremy Corbyn's appearance on 'The Last Leg' TV programme which had the Labour leader arrive in a chauffeur-driven Bentley, dressed in a dinner suit and a full-length white fur coat.

After all if you have an image problem, then why not do something out of the ordinary to confound and confuse your political opponents.

But no, my real problem with Jeremy is that in answer to a 'dolly' question about how he would rank the importance of the next week's EU referendum on a scale of 1 to 10, Jezza responded with the unbelievably lame answer of "7 to 7 and a half".

Now when so much is at stake in next week's referendum, you would think a Labour leader worth his mettle would have emphasised, in the strongest possible terms, the very real threat to the UK economy, jobs and investment posed by the country's withdrawal from the European Union (EU).

So Jeremy's a complete fool if you ask me, a political half-wit, but that's what you get if you elect as Labour leader a man who rose to the dizzying ranks of 'bog standard' union official before finding a niche as a backbench Labour MP in the House of Commons for the next 32 years.

And while there are some decent trade union officials around, believe me there are plenty of complete 'duds' in the ranks too, as the Labour party and the country is finding out to its cost.


Cometh the Man ( 29/12/17)

The Labour Party's pantomime over Brexit looks set to continue into 2018.   

Michael Heseltine turned the heat up on the Conservatives the other day by admitting he would be 'torn' if faced with the prospect of a Labour Party that was serious about reversing Brexit.

In response, Jeremy Corbyn seized the moment by telling the world that he enjoys a daily diet of porridge and energy bars. 

Cometh the hour, cometh the man.


Lord Heseltine says he would be 'torn' if faced with a choice between Brexit or a Labour government

Lord Heseltine has told ITV News he would be "torn" if faced with the choice of backing a Labour government that wanted to reverse Brexit.

The former Conservative Cabinet minister earlier faced calls to have the party whip withdrawn, amid accusations he is attempting to "sabotage" Brexit.

But he confirmed to ITV News that if supporting a Labour government would bring a halt to the UK's move to leave the EU he would find his loyalties divided.

In practice, the Tory grandee would have no vote to give a Labour government as he sits in the House of Lords.

But speaking hypothetically he said: "I am torn, because I realise the enormous damage that both these options [Labour and Brexit] represent."

He said: "If there is a point at which we have to put party loyalty on one side and national interest and our own convictions on the other, then the national interest is going to win."

Lord Heseltine is an ardent critic of the UK's decision to leave the EU, putting him at odds with party colleagues.

The Bow Group, a Conservative think tank, recently demanded he be expelled from the Party's Lords group over a claim he made that a Labour government would be preferable to the "long-term disaster" of Brexit.

The row erupted after comments Lord Heseltine made on a podcast more than a month ago were reported in newspapers this week.

Lord Heseltine told the Limehouse Podcast that a Labour government was preferable to Brexit because any harm it caused could be undone by subsequent governments.

"We've survived Labour governments before. Their damage tends to be short-term and capable of rectification," he said.

"Brexit is not short-term and is not easily capable of rectification.

"There will be those who question whether the short-term pain justifies the avoidance of the long-term disaster."

Among Lord Heseltine's critics is Brexit-supporter Lord Tebbit, the Bow Group's president, who labeled him a "backstabber".

Among Lord Heseltine's critics on the issue is Norman Tebbit Credit: PA

Ben Harris-Quinney, the Bow Group chairman, said that while Conservatives should be allowed to disagree with the party, there was no room for "sabotage".

"Heseltine has made clear it is his aim to prevent Brexit at all costs, including the sabotage of his own Party and nation," he said.

"The Conservative Party must therefore withdraw the whip and end the inevitable continuation of his sniping from inside the tent."

In his interview with ITV News, Lord Heseltine dismissed the comments.

Jeremy Corbyn: Porridge diet will help me lead Labour until 2022 election
By Kevin Schofield - Politics Home

Jeremy Corbyn has insisted he has the energy to lead Labour into the next general election - thanks to a daily diet of porridge.

Jeremy Corbyn could be 73 by the time of the next general election - Credit: PA Images

The 68-year-old said he also avoids alcohol and meat to help keep him in the best possible physical condition.

Mr Corbyn repeated his prediction that the next election could take place within the next year because of the "unstable" nature of Theresa May's pact with the DUP.

Jeremy Corbyn suffers major Brexit rebellion as 64 Labour MPs defy whip over customs union

But he said he was ready to remain leader all the way until 2022 if the parliaments last a full five years - by which time he will be 73.

In an interview with the i, Mr Corbyn said: "We’ve got lots of energy. I’ve got loads of energy, I’m fine. I eat porridge every morning – porridge and energy bars – and I keep off alcohol and meat."

He added: "The scenarios are that the Conservatives implode to some degree or their position becomes untenable and they decide to call another election and we’ll take the battle out there.”

The Labour leader also tried to play down suggestions that his party could back a second EU referendum, stressing that they were "not advocating" such a move.

His comments came after 70 Labour councillors urged the party to give voters the chance to "change their minds" on Brexit.

Mr Corbyn also revealed in an interview with the Independent that the next Labour manifesto will contain a pledge to end so-called "no fault evictions" where tenants are removed from their property at the whim of their landlord.

He said: "I am very determined to bring some order and stability to their [tenants’] lives by longer tenancies and eviction that can only be there for good reason rather than just what can be retaliatory eviction."

Labour on Brexit (27/07/17)

Labour policy on Brexit is turning into something of a pantomime as Jeremy Corbyn says 'all options are on the table' only days after ruling out continued membership of the Single Market.

One of Corbyn's key supporters in Labour's shadow cabinet (Barry Gardiner) also went out of his way this week to insist that a Labour would not support continued membership of the Customs Union.

In reality, the Conservative Government is all over the place on Brexit and the same goes for the official Labour opposition.

What a complete mess.

Jeremy Corbyn upbraids Barry Gardiner for contradicting Labour customs union position

The Labour leader and the Shadow International Trade Secretary have set out completely different positions over the customs union

By Tom Peck - The Independent
The Labour leader's spokesperson said remaining in the customs union was still 'on the table' Reuters

Jeremy Corbyn has disagreed with his own Shadow International Trade Secretary, and said that the Labour party would keep membership of the customs union after Brexit "on the table."

Mr Gardiner had said in a newspaper article and repeated his comments in various television interviews, that remaining in the customs union after leaving th EU would render Britain a "vassal state" as it would be subject to rules it had no power to set or amend.

A spokesperson for Mr Corbyn said it was wrong to "sweep options off the table."

But Mr Corbyn has already ruled out continued membership of the single market. He said at the weekend that leaving the single market and leaving the EU were "inextricably linked", even though Liechtenstein and Norway remain a member of the single market but not the EU.

On Sunday night Mr Gardiner said remainining in the customs union would create an “asymmetrical relationship” between the UK and any nations the EU went on to strike trade agreements with, as the UK's interests in those deals would not be considered.

“The EU could do a deal with another country, let’s say America, which we would be bound by in the UK,” he explained.

“We would have to accept the liberalisation of our markets, we would have to accept their goods coming into our markets on the terms agreed by Europe, which could be prejudicial to us.

John McDonnell not ruling out single market membership

BBC UK Politics

Labour has not ruled out continued membership of the EU single market, John McDonnell has said, as he sought to play down divisions over Brexit.

Everyone wanted tariff-free access to EU markets, the shadow chancellor said.

But there was a debate on-going within the Labour Party about whether the best option was continued membership or a separate agreement, he added.

Jeremy Corbyn has suggested the single market is "inextricably linked" to EU membership and the UK cannot remain.

Speaking on Sunday, the Labour leader said leaving the EU meant leaving the EU's internal market - whose members must abide by rules on the free movement of goods, capital, services, and labour.

Jones calls on May to rethink Brexit
Cabinet 'united' over EU transition deal
Brexit: All you need to know

The party's international trade spokesman, Barry Gardiner, has gone further, saying the UK should also rule out remaining in the customs union beyond any transitional period, claiming that failing to do so would make the UK a "vassal state" unable to negotiate sovereign trade deals.

However, many Labour MPs disagree with both positions - arguing that it is in the UK's economic interests to remain in both. They point out there are non-EU members, like Norway, which have full access to the single market and countries such as Turkey which belong to the customs union.

And Welsh first minister Carwyn Jones is arguing Labour should be pushing for the UK to remain in the single market - even though it might mean not being able to impose any controls on immigration from the EU.

Mr McDonnell insisted Labour had a "straightforward" position on the type of access the UK needed to its largest market after it leaves the EU in March 2019.

"Our objective is tariff-free access to the market," he said. "That has been our objective since immediately after the referendum.

"The structures - whether we are in or out - are a secondary matter.

"We are not ruling anything out but what we are saying is that we are the fifth largest economy in the world and we have a special status in both our relationship with the EU and the rest of the globe and we feel we can get a deal that achieves tariff-free access."
'Special status'

Pressed on whether he and Mr Corbyn disagreed on the matter, he said: "I think we are all on the same page with regard to our objectives... there is a debate around whether it is full membership or a new relationship or a separate agreement.

"What we are saying is keep our eye on what is the most important objective, tariff-free access. We can achieve that."

The BBC's assistant political editor Norman Smith said there was a "deep internal divide" within the party and the shadow chancellor was seeking to "soften" the party's stance following a backlash by pro-EU MPs and trade unionists over Mr Corbyn and Mr Gardiner's remarks

Amid signs of growing internal strains over Brexit, the former shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander said she had never felt "more concerned" about her party's position.

"My colleague Barry Gardiner's contribution to the Brexit debate, in which he argues for the UK to come out of the single market and customs union to facilitate Brexit was, for me, depressing and disingenuous in equal measure," she wrote in the Guardian.

She accused her colleague of using arguments on sovereignty, immigration and the legal jurisdiction that "could have come straight out of Tory Central Office", Instead, she said Labour must focus on the damage posed to those on low and middle incomes of a so-called hard Brexit.

The government has said the UK will leave the single market and customs union but could maintain some existing arrangements for an interim period to help British business adjust.

Corbyn's Out of Step (25/07/17)

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn keeps saying that the UK cannot leave the European Union and at the same time stay within the Single Market.

He's wrong of course, as this diagram shows, and he is also out of step with the majority of Labour supporters, especially the younger members who have most to lose and don't share the hang ups of Corbyn's leftist inner circle.


False Prospectus (24/07/17)

The New Statesman magazine reports on Jeremy Corbyn's latest bizarre claim that "wholesale" EU immigration destroyed conditions for British workers.

The man's a complete fool if you ask me, because he cited no evidence in support of his claim and the allegation is self-evidently untrue in areas such as the NHS and local government.

On this evidence there's nothing much to choose between Labour and the Tories - the march towards Brexit continues apace, but is based on a false prospectus.

Jeremy Corbyn: "wholesale" EU immigration has destroyed conditions for British workers



The Labour leader has told Andrew Marr that his party wants to leave the single market.

Mass immigration from the European Union has been used to "destroy" the conditions of British workers, Jeremy Corbyn said today.

The Labour leader was pressed on his party's attitude to immigration on the Andrew Marr programme. He reiterated his belief that Britain should leave the Single Market, claiming that "the single market is dependent on membership of the EU . . . the two things are inextricably linked."

Corbyn said that Labour would argue for "tarriff-free trade access" instead. However, other countries which enjoy this kind of deal, such as Norway, do so by accepting the "four freedoms" of the single market, which include freedom of movement for people. Labour MP Chuka Umunna has led a parliamentary attempt to keep Britain in the single market, arguing that 66 per cent of Labour members want to stay. The SNP's Nicola Sturgeon said that "Labour's failure to stand up for common sense on single market will make them as culpable as Tories for Brexit disaster".

Leadership vs Followership (19/07/17)

Tony Blair, the former Labour leader, published an interesting article the other day about the changing face of Brexit in which he argued that the 2017 general election result provides an opportunity for fundamentally reappraising the pros and cons of leaving the European Union (EU).


By Tony Blair

This was on any basis an extraordinary election, unique in recent British political experience and with major political consequence.

The country is deeply divided: between young and old; metropolitan and outside the cities; better off and worse off.

And the country is suffering from the state of its politics. This time last year we were the fastest growing economy in the G7. We are now the slowest. The international investment community is negative on us. The savings rate is at its lowest in 50 years. Incomes are stagnating. The international reputation of Britain is rapidly losing altitude. There is a daily drip of worrying news on Brexit. The Grenfell Tower tragedy sums up for many the sorry condition of our social cohesion.

There is a slightly anarchic feel to our politics intensified by the realisation that the Government is weak and drifting.

There is more followership than leadership.

We feel like a country which has lost its footing and is stumbling; but seemingly with no choice but to stagger on.

This is where everything has changed and nothing has changed.

The election result should enable a fundamental re-appraisal of Brexit. Large numbers of people voted to stop a Hard Brexit and rejected explicitly the mandate Theresa May was demanding.

Instead, both main parties remain wedded to leaving the Single Market.

Now we argue over long transitional periods, and complicated methods of re-creating new regulatory mechanisms with Europe, which essentially mean we will have to keep close to European regulation, when all such things do, is re-emphasise the inherent dangers of the whole venture.

I agree that if the will of the British people remains as it was last June, then Brexit will happen.

But, to state what in a less surreal world would be blindingly obvious, it is possible, that, as we know more about what Brexit means, our ‘will’ changes.

Our leaders should at least lead a proper debate about the options before us.

They should become the nation’s educators, engaging us, explaining to us, laying out every alternative and what it means.

Rational consideration of the options would sensibly include the option of negotiating for Britain to stay within a Europe itself prepared to reform and meet us half way.

The Macron victory changes the political dynamics of Europe. The members of the Euro zone will integrate economic decision-making. Inevitably, therefore, Europe will comprise an inner and outer circle. Reform is now on Europe’s agenda. The European leaders, certainly from my discussions, are willing to consider changes to accommodate Britain, including around freedom of movement.

Yet this option is excluded.

In the week before the election, my Institute along with Luntz Global Partners conducted a poll in France, Germany and the UK around attitudes to Europe, Brexit and politics.

The British people’s attitude to Europe is ambivalent.

They do think ‘Brexit means Brexit’ and for now there is no groundswell for a second referendum.

But, they want a strong relationship with Europe. A majority oppose Hard Brexit. The opposition to free movement of people, once you break it down, is much more nuanced. The French and Germans share some of the British worries, notably around immigration, and would compromise on freedom of movement.

There is no evidence that Britain wants to pay a high economic price for Brexit.

A majority would probably coalesce around a ‘Soft Brexit’.

However, the problem is that the difference between a Hard and a Soft Brexit has a very simple starting point: membership of the Single Market and Customs Union. If we stay within those rules of trade, where over 50 % of our exports go, then the economic damage of Brexit will be limited.

But, we will have to abide by the rules.

The political difficulties of this are evident. It would lead in short order to a scratching of the British collective head and feeling of ‘well, in that case, what's the point of leaving?’

On the other hand, if we do leave the Single Market and Customs Union, then it is also clear that the economic damage is potentially large. No one who has seriously examined these issues believes that a 3rd country FTA is remotely a substitute for membership of the Single Market.

A ‘Jobs First’ Brexit outside the Single Market is a contradiction in terms.

So when people blithely say ‘we will get roughly the same terms as we do now with the Single Market’, I literally know no one in the European system who believes this.

We have over-estimated, as ever, the weakness of Europe. Growth rates are recovering. Politics is stabilising. Yes many clouds remain – from Italian and Spanish banks to popular anger at cuts, low pay and immigration concerns. Europe is not out of the woods. But it thinks it sees a path out of those woods and our poll shows that French and Germans see Europe as a guide not an obstacle.

The 27 will basically stick together in defending the rules of the Single Market.

But we are all learning, as we proceed, the damage Brexit will do.

Europe knows it will be poorer and less powerful without us.

We know our currency is down around 12%; already jobs are going; there is not £350m a week more for the NHS; and we actually need most of the migrants who come to work in the UK.

On any basis, leaving is complex and will take years.

Brexit is the biggest political decision since the Second World War.

Given what is at stake, and what, daily, we are discovering about the costs of Brexit, how can it be right deliberately to take off the table the option of compromise between Britain and Europe so that Britain stays within a reformed Europe?

We are doing so because the Tories fear that if Brexit in some form does not happen, they will re-open the fissure within their Party.

For three decades this internal Conservative battle has wreaked havoc with the politics of the country rather as Empire Tariff debates did in the late 19th and early 20th C.

Meanwhile the true challenges of the country are unaddressed.

The legislative programme is dominated by Brexit to the virtual exclusion of anything else.

The Government may ask for ‘new ideas’ from all sides of politics but the reality is it has no bandwidth seriously to do anything other than Brexit.

It is not too late for the country to grip its own destiny, change the terms of the Brexit debate and turn its attention to the true challenges the nation faces.

This is where what happens to the Labour Party matters so much.

The ambiguity of Labour’s position on Europe may have helped us access both Remain and Leave votes, though I am dubious.

However, it can't last. If Labour continues to be for leaving the Single Market, and the signs are that it will, then we are essentially for the same policy as the Government.

This will become apparent to those who voted Remain. But more than that, it puts us in the same damaging position for the economy as the Tories; and in circumstances where we are also trying to end austerity through spending programmes which, to be clear, are larger than any Labour Party has ever proposed.

I agree Labour had a remarkable result which I did not foresee. I pay tribute to Jeremy Corbyn’s temperament in the campaign, to the campaign’s mobilisation of younger voters and to the enthusiasm it generated.

His supporters shouldn't exaggerate it; but his critics including me shouldn't under-state it. He tapped into something real and powerful, as Bernie Sanders has in the USA and left groups have done all over Europe.

There is a genuine and widespread desire for change and for the politics of social justice.

This should alter the context in which we debate politics; and help influence the policy solutions.

But it doesn't alter the judgement about the risks of an unchanged Corbyn programme, if he became Prime Minister and tried to implement it at the same time as Brexit.

If a right wing populist punch in the form of Brexit was followed by a left wing populist punch in the form of unreconstructed hard left economics, Britain would hit the canvas, flat on our back and be out for a long count.

The conventional wisdom is that the centre ground in British politics is now marginalised.

It is true that the country didn't vote for centrist politics on June 8; but neither was it on offer.

The space for the centre may seem smaller; but the need for it is ever bigger.

The poll shows that a majority in all three countries still identify most with the centre of politics; and that the policies people want, are those which produce real change but from basically a centrist position.

Both Parties now face a fundamental choice of direction. The Tories could go back to the direction of David Cameron in the style of Ruth Davidson. Or they could stick with the politics of the last year, defined by Brexit and immigration.

Labour’s leadership could champion a position on Europe radically distinct from the Tories and reach out to those in the PLP with experience of Government to craft a programme of credibility as well as change.

Or they could dismiss the need for compromise and double down in their efforts to make their takeover of the Labour Party complete.

The Labour Party should be cautious in thinking ‘one more heave’ will deliver victory next time.

The Corbyn campaign was a positive factor in the election result; but the determining factor was the Tory campaign.

In all the elections since 1979, the result at the end was more or less what I expected at the beginning.

Not this time. There is no doubt in my mind that at the beginning of the campaign the public were indeed about to give the Tories a landslide. After all, we had just had a really poor local election result, a normally reliable predictor.

What happened is a perfect illustration of why the Greeks were right that hubris is always followed by nemesis.

Their error was less in calling the election than in the conduct of it.

The winning strategy was the one they started with: Theresa May is a Leader above party, asking for a strong negotiating hand to get the best Brexit deal.

But instead of keeping to it, they shattered it.

Brexit policy turned into Hard Brexit or ‘No Deal’ Brexit, rather than the ‘best deal for Britain’. The manifesto was not above party but absolutely of the Tory Party: austerity, typical tough Tory policy on social care and school meals, plus fox hunting.

The public recoiled.

The 16m who voted Remain realised they had to vote to defeat the Brexit mandate she was seeking. Anyone who cared about the public realm, and wished for an end to or an amelioration of austerity, understood this was their only opportunity to register that wish.

Not foreseeable; but on reflection completely explicable.

The Labour electoral performance was unexpected. But that is exactly why we have to be careful in interpreting it. Victories in Kensington and Canterbury were amazing. But losses in Middlesbrough and Stoke were equally alarming.

The Corbyn enthusiasm, especially amongst the young, is real, but I would hesitate before saying that all those who voted Labour voted to make him Prime Minister; or that they supported the body of the programme rather than its tone.

I think they thought that the likelihood was that the Tories would be the Government, but were determined to neuter the mandate.

This is why you could have – another unique dimension to the election – candidates standing for Labour overtly distancing from Jeremy Corbyn and yet still being elected, some with big majorities.

The common refrain amongst some Labour MPs is the policies were popular and if we retain them and unite we will win next time.

We should beware our own form of hubris.

The Tories are not going to run another campaign like that one.

Next time, Labour’s economic programme will come under vastly greater scrutiny. No one is going to believe that there is not a real possibility of Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister. The campaign mishaps which happened every time the spending figures were put under the spotlight won't pass so easily.

Understandably, some Labour MPs who, only weeks ago, thought their best hope of salvation rested on disassociation from the Leader, now feel disoriented.

But policies which were wrong in May didn't suddenly become right in June.

Many in this election voted with profound reluctance. There were an unusual number of voters making up their mind very late.

Ultimately neither Party won a majority.

It is true that politics has changed dramatically from 10 years ago.

Our poll shows people want change and by large numbers and in all three countries. Years of austerity and an acute sense of an elite separated from the rest has led to a belief that the promise of generational progress has ended. This generation believes it has done better than the last. But it does not believe the next generation will do better than them.

That is the market of anxiety in which the populists peddle quack solutions.

But the poll also shows that support for the centre stays strong. People will default to populism when a radical centre is not on offer; where it is, they will vote it in, as Macron has shown.

I am not advocating a new Party. Quite apart from the desirability of such a thing, our political system puts formidable barriers in its path.

In any event, as a member of the Labour Party of over 40 years standing, I want the Labour Party to capture this ground.

But there are millions of politically homeless in Britain. They are not going to wander the by-ways of politics, bedding down uncomfortably, forever, not with their country in the dire shape it is in.

The challenge for the centre is to be the place of changing the status quo not managing it.

If it does, it still beats everything else.

What the progressive centre lacks is a radical policy agenda. This is the most immediate task and the one to which my new Institute is devoted.

One of the most dispiriting aspects of the election campaign was the absence of serious debate about the real challenges Britain faces.

AI, automation and Big Data will usher in a new workplace revolution. The NHS, our school and skills system, ‘early years’ education, welfare and retirement need to be re-designed fundamentally to take account of technology, scientific development, and changing demographics and lifestyle.

Communities and people left behind by globalisation need to be helped by specific measures which connect them to the mainstream economy.

The infrastructure of Britain has to be built anew to link up the regions of the country and take advantage of our assets – geography, history, language and a culture which, despite everything, the world still admires.

We need an ambitious affordable housing programme.

Austerity should end; but its’ ending should place an even greater responsibility on Government to seek solutions which change systems and not just pump money into them.

Britain has to escape the cul de sac of backward-looking pessimism with a programme of national renaissance, drawing on the best and most creative minds, to produce the new thinking which can shape our future; and can re-kindle optimism.

This is why Brexit matters so much. It is not merely damaging in itself; it is a massive distraction. Whilst other countries are moving down the fast lane of progress, we are stuck on the hard shoulder of nostalgia.

In this time of accelerating change, we are offered two different types of conservativism, one of the right and one of the left.

The election was fought like one from the 1980s, but with two competing visions of the 1960s.

Neither answers the call of the future.

Politics today are volatile and unpredictable. In these times, best hold to what you believe.

The centre may appear marginalised; but in the hearts and minds of many, it simply needs to be renewed.

Brexit makes this renewal urgent.

Buyer's Remorse and Brexit ((12/07/17)

Now this is interesting!

The Herald reports that a senior Conservative figure in Scotland is expressing 'buyer's remorse' over the way Brexit is working out.

If only Jeremy Corbyn could ste aside his personal prejudices and show some real political leadership, this whole leaving the EU  business 'come what may' would be up for grabs.

Because as I've said before no one voted for the nonsense of leaving the EU Single Market and the Customs Union in which case there is no logical reason to regard the result of the 2016 EU referendum as sacrosanct.

If the facts and circumstances change, people are perfectly entitled to change their views.

Top Scots Tory calls for an end to calamitous Brexit as Scottish farmers face post-EU wipe-out

By David Leask - The Herald

Struan Stevenson is one of the few Tories to make an outright call for the UK to remain in the EU and the single market. Picture: Fraser Bremner

A senior Conservative has called for a rethink of his own party's "calamitous" Brexit policy, warning a trade deal with Donald Trump's America would wipe out Scottish farmers.

Former MEP Struan Stevenson raised the spectre of falling subsidies and collapsing land prices while imports of cheap low-quality hormone-treated beef and chlorine-washed chicken destroyed domestic production.

Writing in The Herald, the veteran Tory echoed grave concerns expressed in this newspaper's Beyond Brexit series last month by both economists and farming analysts.

No One Voted For This Nonsense (04/07/17)

Morten Morland's cartoon for The Times has the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in the ring fighting for 'Hard Brexit' - with Theresa May and Nigel Farage both urging him on as seconds.

Which begs the question that with everything that has happened since the June 2016 referendum - why is the Labour Party still going along with this nonsense?

Because no one actually voted to leave the EU's Single Market, or the Customs Union or a Brexit that looks like costing the country billions of pounds a year.


Corbyn Fans (03/07/16)

Nigel Farage rows in on Twitter to show his support for Jeremy Corbyn's 'have your cake and eat it' approach to Brexit. 


Not the Messiah (02/07/17)BROOKES CARTOON 01.07.2017

The Times cartoonist Peter Brookes has some fun with Jeremy Corbyn's policy on Brexit because, if truth be told, the Labour leader is a left-wing 'ideologue' who has vehemently opposed the UK's membership of the European Union for many years, on the bogus grounds that the EU is a 'bosses club'. 

So while Chuka Umanna (in the background) tells the faithful that Jeremy Corbyn really isn't the 'Messiah', the Labour leader continues to pretend that the UK can leave the EU while at the same time preserving all benefits of remaining in the EU which is completely crazy, of course.

Freedom of movement within the EU is a great benefit to many UK citizens, younger and older alike, yet that is one of the reasons for Jeremy Corbyn setting his face against continued membership of the Single Market. 


Impossible Things (30/06/17)

Image result for having your cake and eating it

My understanding of Labour party policy on Brexit is that its leader firmly support the UK leaving the European Union (EU), so long as the country continues to enjoy all the benefits of being a member of the EU.

Which sounds like the political equivalent of being a little bit pregnant, if you ask me - it's the same as having your slice of cake and eating it at the same time.

In the first test of his leadership since the general election, Jeremy Corbyn yesterday ordered Labour MPs to abstain over a vote in the House of Commons to stay within the Single Market and the Customs Union, both of which have major implications for jobs and future growth in the UK economy.

Three shadow ministers (Ruth Cadbury, Andy Slaughter and Catherine West), were sacked for defying their leader's order and and a fourth (Daniel Zeichner) resigned before he could be shown the door.

UK politics has an 'Alice in Wonderland' feel to it these days with arch-rebel Jeremy Corbyn demanding loyalty from his troops and believing that 'six impossible things before breakfast' is perfectly realistic.

Which is complete nonsense, of course, as the UK's mad march towards Brexit will show us all in the weeks and months ahead.


A Question of Leadership (29/06/17)

The big political news on Twitter right now is that Jeremy Corbyn is to whip Labour MPs into 'abstaining' on an amendment which would commit to membership of the EU's single market.

Now given that the majority of Labour supporters voted to remain in the Europe, along with the majority of Scots and a majority of young voters, you would think Jezza would set aside his personal hostility towards the EU and support this amendment from one of his own backbenchers, Labour MP Chuka Umanna.

Because an awful lot of water has flowed under the bridge since the EU referendum in June 2016 which never specifically asked voters for their views on the pros and cons of leaving the Single Market and/or the Customs Union.


Labour's Pushmi-Pullyu (18/11/17)

Image result for push me pull you + doctor dolittle images

Michael Deacon writing in The Telegraph suggests that Labour have achieved the impossible under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership by alienating both the Leave and Remain camps.

And it's true if you ask me, because while Labour MPs like Keir Starmer patiently build a a case which is trying to force the government into explaining exactly what Brexit might look like down the line - the shadow chancellor (John McDonnell) is encouraging us all to be more positive about leaving the European Union.

Not for the first time Corbyn's Labour is facing both ways at the same time when its job is to oppose and deny the government a blank cheque over what Brexit really means.

Well done, Labour. You’re alienating both the Brexiters and the Remainers at once

MICHAEL DEACON - The Telegraph

John McDonnell, the Labour shadow chancellor, delivers a speech in London about the economy and jobs CREDIT: BEN STANSALL/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

What Labour have achieved should be impossible. Yet somehow they’ve managed it.

They’ve convinced people who are pro-Brexit that Labour are anti-Brexit – and convinced people who are anti-Brexit that Labour are pro-Brexit.

Or, to put it another way: they’re alienating both the 52 per cent and the 48 per cent. And becoming the party of the 0 per cent.

On the one hand, they have Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, forensically probing for flaws in Brexit. And on the other, they have John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, who announced in London today that “It’s time we were all more positive about Brexit.”