Expel Luciana Berger

July 31, 2018

by Martin Odoni

Luciana Berger has revealed herself to be quite the most McCarthyite MP in the country at the moment – and that is a title only ever won in the face of fierce competition. In her determination to prove that the ‘anti-Semitism-in-the-Labour-Party’ (oh, how bored I am of typing that phrase…) controversy is something more than a semi-fantasy, she has overstepped an important line.

Berger was interviewed on 31st July – much too gently as usual – by Shelagh Fogarty on LBC Radio about the deafening furore. In particular, Berger was asked about this week’s kerfuffle over Labour NEC member Peter Willsman ‘offensively’ suggesting that some British Jews were disturbingly happy about Donald Trump becoming US President.

Fogarty rightly asked Berger to clarify precisely what was anti-Semitic about Willsman’s words. It was noticeable that Berger did not clarify, beyond waffling in a strident but roundabout way about Willsman’s statements being ‘unacceptable’, which really just put the implication of the question in different words. She also failed to explain why Willsman’s words were even untrue. Which of course they were not; the Board of Jewish Deputies, in particular, were tellingly eager to congratulate Trump on becoming President. Given Trump’s ignorant enthusiasm for Zionism, largely based around trying to please Christian fundamentalists in the USA, that is perhaps to be expected.

Fogarty – again as usual – managed to miss Berger’s evasion completely and moved on. To her credit, she soon asked Berger a question she does not get asked nearly often enough in the mainstream media; what evidence is there that anti-Semitism in the Labour Party really is as widespread as she claims? It was here that Berger overstepped from mere McCarthyite cynicism to a possibly indictable violation.

Berger initially made another roundabout remark about, ‘Just see everything that’s going on’, which again just restated the question’s implication in different words, but she then cited two Labour councillors who had been suspended during this week as supposedly definitive examples of anti-Semitism being out of control.

Berger lies about Willsman

Luciana Berger misportrays Peter Willsman’s words and the position of the Board of Jewish Deputies, then presents two still-to-be-investigated party suspensions as definitely guilty, which may be indictable on grounds of prejudicing the inquiry.

This remark from Berger was outrageous, and may constitute a violation of Labour Party disciplinary procedures. To explain: In one case, a councillor in Bognor Regis claims his social media account was hacked, in the other, the councillor implied Israeli security services might have been driving the anti-Semitism controversy. In both cases, there is reason to question whether there is anti-Semitism at play at all, albeit for different reasons; one may have been framed, the other was criticising Israel and not Jews. Therefore, guilt has not been firmly established as yet in either case, but Berger has gone on national radio and presented the accusations against them as evidence in itself – not only against them but against the Labour left more widely.

In so doing, Berger has risked prejudicing the investigations, while increasing public pressure on the party to find the two councillors guilty, irrespective of the investigations’ findings. She is also guilty of a lazy form of fallacious thinking that is as worrying to observe in a national legislator as is her poisonous maliciousness; by assuming that the accusation is evidence, instead of the accusation requiring evidence, she has lapsed into infantile circular reasoning. “I know they must be guilty because they’ve been accused, because if they’ve been accused they must be guilty.”

No, It does not work like that, it must never work like that. The accusation must be followed by evidence. When the accusation is the evidence, we enter a world in which anyone can be accused of anything, and they are automatically guilty. Chaos and endless injustice lie down that path.

This sort of ‘fast-food’ approach to justice was supposed to have become obsolete in the days of the First Magna Carta, meaning Berger is quite literally guilty of Medievalism.

At the very least, Berger has brought the party into disrepute, by publicly accusing other party members, and by endangering the impartiality of the investigation process. Look what happened to Marc Wadsworth when he was found guilty of bringing the part into disrepute – expulsion. Berger was there in person to cheer on the decision.

Now Berger should face the same fate.

NB: If you wish to report Berger’s appalling behaviour, please e-mail the Labour Party’s complaints office at complaints@labour.org.uk. The more reports the party receive about what Berger has done, the more pressure they will come under to bring her to book.

Luciana betrays her party to the LFI

A message I sent to Berger’s Instagram account during the spring, after she started the contrived furore over the Mear One Mural.

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by Martin Odoni

What a gift yesterday’s summit in Singapore was to the dictator of North Korea.

Listening to Donald Trump sympathisers worldwide, as they pile in to radio phone-ins to brown their noses in tribute to him, you would think he had personally arranged the Second Coming. The truth is, Trump did not achieve anything, while Kim Jong-Un got what he most desired, in exchange for doing nothing, and is thus laughing like crazy at his rival.

Strangely, Trump’s supporters seem to think he ‘got North Korea to the negotiating table’, and that that was an achievement in itself. In fact, it is quite the other way around. North Korean leaders have been asking for summits with US Presidents for decades, and previous US Presidents all refused such meetings without North Korea making concessions up front.

Occupy Democrats on Trump and his summit

Occupy Democrats are sharing this meme on social media, summing up what a loss the US summit with North Korea will ultimately prove.

Trump idiotically just agreed to this summit off the top of his head without imposing any conditions. The upshot of that is that Kim is now able to claim – without even having to lie – that he is the President who got the USA to the negotiating table. That diplomatic boon was a gift to Kim in itself.

But worse, what came out of the summit is a total victory for Kim – the metaphorical gift that has kept on giving – and a propaganda coup that has probably secured his position as absolute ruler of North Korea for another twenty years. He got everything, and gave up nothing.

Despite Trump’s characteristic boasting, the summit accomplished nothing for the USA. Trump extracted only vague, very familiar promises from Kim about ‘moving towards de-nuclearisation’. We have heard this from Pyongyang at least a dozen times before, just since the mid-1980s.

NK denuclearisation promises

There really is no good reason for the clamour of admiration for Donald Trump’s ‘diplomatic achievement’. He has gained nothing by it.

The reality is that, given the nature of the regime in Pyongyang, no ruler there will ever willingly give up his atomic weapons. Whoever the dictator is, he will know that if he surrenders nuclear arms, he will be dead within months. The regime there is one of the most brutal and repressive on Earth, and it rules, not through its power, but through fear of its power. No matter how much political power the dictator wields, he is still just a man, and can be assassinated as totally as any man-in-the-street. It is the threat, not of the man, but of the power he wields, that keeps him in place. So if he were to show that he is willing to give up nuclear weapons, his most powerful military resource, that would be a sign of weakness, while also potentially weakening the regime itself. He would have less power for those he rules to fear. So prominent figures near the top of his Government would probably respond by overthrowing him, before killing him – probably in a very bloodcurdling manner – to make sure he poses no threat to his successor.

In short, Kim Jong-Un cannot decommission his nuclear weapons; his own life depends on keeping them.

Meanwhile, Kim has extracted a promise from Trump to stop US military exercises off the coastline of the Korean peninsular. An end to that threatening practice is what the Pyongyang Government has been desperately seeking since Lyndon Johnson was American President. Now sure, there is nothing to guarantee that the USA will keep its side of the bargain either, but that is at least a firmly-defined promise, and it can be fairly measured whether the USA delivers on it. The Korean promise to ‘work together to move towards de-nuclearisation’ could mean anything upwards of “We’ll draw up a hypothetical plan for decommissioning that is obviously unworkable, and send it to you, and then when you reject it, we can say, ‘Well, at least we tried’.” That hollow, empty gesture would still count as fulfilling their side of the bargain, and would, absurdly, give North Korea the official moral high ground if the USA continues military manoeuvres off the Korean coast.

The South Korean Government in Seoul must be on the brink of a collective cardiac arrest, as they watch their most important backer giving their bitterest rival everything-for-nothing!

Worse, what does all of this say to Iran? The regime in Tehran followed the terms of its 2015 nuclear deal with the USA and its allies pretty much to the letter. But Trump simply cancelled the deal arbitrarily a month ago, for no apparent reason beyond wanting just to be different from his predecessor, Barack Obama. Now, the Iranians have sat, open-mouthed, as North Korea has received a major military concession in apparent exchange for shallow flattery of a narcissistic buffoon. The lesson the Iranians will doubtless take is that if they start saying nice things about Trump all the time, he will start giving them anything they want.

So Trump is cozying up to anti-democratic rulers like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-Un, and repeatedly giving them something-for-nothing, while imposing trading tariffs on his country’s democratic allies.

This is not an era of triumph for Western diplomacy, it is an era of easy triumph for authoritarianism, and of alienation for democratic nations.

by Martin Odoni

What a pointlessly horrible individual Nick Ferrari can be sometimes. He wanted to interview Diane Abbott this morning on his LBC Radio show about the resignation as Home Secretary of Amber Rudd. As the programme wore on, Ferrari expressed growing frustration that Abbott appeared to be giving interviews to every other news outlet except him.

Seldom slow to be vindictive when feeling slighted, Ferrari retaliated at the end of the programme by doing something genuinely cruel, unfair, and utterly vindictive. Now, Ferrari was the interviewer interrogating Abbott during the General Election campaign almost exactly a year ago, when she had the notorious ‘brain-freeze’ moment while discussing police funding. As an obvious two-fingered salute to her, Ferrari ended today’s show by playing a recording of that interview to mock her.

nick ferrari mocks diane abbot for her illness

Ferrari’s conduct is childish and cruel, and betrays a really ugly nature that lurks not far below the dignified surface.

Anyone smirking about that little stab should be ashamed, as should Ferrari himself. There is a detail about it that many people, especially smug, jeering, right-wing journalists like Ferrari, keep omitting to mention; Abbott was very ill at the time. (As James O’Brien, speaking on the very next programme on LBC this morning noted, the signs are that she probably still is.) To be precise, she was suffering from diabetic withdrawal this time last year, and it became so bad that she had to drop out of the last couple of weeks of campaigning.

The amount of vicious abuse Abbott receives on a daily basis is an abhorrent indictment of the dark side of this country, in terms of both racism and misogyny. But her diabetic illness has added another ugly dimension to it over the last year. It seems the symptoms of an almost-crippling condition are also considered fair game for mockery and cruel taunts when the sufferer is a left-wing Member of Parliament. (Once again, we can expect her colleagues on the right of the Labour Party to offer her no sympathy, even as they pretend to be concerned about anti-Semitism.)

What on Earth is wrong with modern Britain, that these sorts of malicious behaviours are not only becoming increasingly commonplace, but are even rewarded with a regular show in the media? To mock anyone for symptoms of an illness is frankly as infantile and ignorant as it is spiteful and Medieval. It is difficult, indeed, to distinguish Ferrari’s behaviour from Donald Trump’s at that horrifying moment in 2015 when he mocked a disabled reporter during the Republican Primaries for the US Presidential Election. Trump was widely and rightly castigated for such appalling cruelty – although it is a tragic reflection on the modern USA that it was not enough to stop him becoming President – and so Britain should now do the same to Ferrari. It would hardly be before time; given his ‘othering’ attitude towards asylum seekers and Muslims, Ferrari’s resemblance to Trump is a lot stronger than he would probably like to admit.

by Martin Odoni

NB: No longer ‘unconfirmed’, please see postscript below.

As the title says, please do not consider this definitive, but Spirit Radio have published a podcast that they state is a segment of an interview with Robert Fisk, foreign correspondent of the Independent. If the recording is genuine, then any doubt that the air-strikes on Syria over the weekend by US, British and French planes were a war-crime will be ended forever. Fisk, if it really is him, claims in the recording that he is in the targeted city of Douma, and from his earliest findings there, he has concluded that no chemical weapons were used in the attacks during the previous weekend. The images of children choking and foaming at the mouth were genuine, but the reactions were caused by smoke inhalation and clouds of dust thrown up by explosions triggered by conventional weapons.

Da6ne1QX4AAC6hV.jpg:large

The implications of this are enormous, but again I must reiterate before anyone gets too excited that I do not know for sure if the recording is genuine. If it is, then the obscene possibility is raised that the suspiciously-timed air-strikes might have been carried out by allied forces in order to prevent inspections by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), whose representatives arrived in Douma the very next day, from revealing that no such weapons were used. If such a discovery were made, it would undermine the entire narrative used to justify the air-strikes. Such a militarised cover-up would be political corruption of the lowest order, and would surely raise the spectre of Donald Trump, Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron being sent to the Hague.

But again, we must wait and see whether the interview can be corroborated before we get carried away.

Spirit Radio say that the full interview will be at 10:30 am on Tuesday 17th April.

_____

POSTSCRIPT:

Confirmation: Fisk is indeed in Douma, and he writes in the Independent that, from conversations he has had with local medical personnel, the ‘chemical weapons reaction’ of the victims was probably hypoxia i.e. a reaction to smoke and dust inhalation.
 
It is therefore very unlikely that chemical weapons were used nine days ago in Douma.
 
Trump, May and Macron must now face severe repercussions for apparently lying to the world.

by Martin Odoni

One of the many reasons I see Boris Johnson as ‘The British Donald Trump’ is that both blonde buffoons have a remarkable knack for saying anything that suits them, frequently off the tops-of-their-heads. Yesterday, Johnson appeared to do just that by announcing completely out-of-nowhere on The Andrew Marr Show that; –

We actually have evidence within the last 10 years that Russia has not only been investigating the delivery of nerve agents for the purposes of assassination, but has also been creating and stockpiling Novichok.

What?!

Sorry, I am not buying this, at least not until I see this ‘evidence’. Nor should anybody else. The reason why is, if it were true, it is quite bizarre that we heard this little detail for the first time only yesterday.

Why did the Prime Minister not think to mention it in either of her statements to the House of Commons last week, for instance?

Why did Johnson himself not think to announce it back in September, in response to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) declaring that Russia had completely destroyed its own chemical weapons capability?

Given they made this declaration last year, why was the OPCW apparently ‘not aware’ of this new stockpile of Novichoks, and yet the British Government somehow knows all about it?

Why was this ‘stockpile’ not an apparent matter for concern until this whole scandal with Sergei and Yulia Skripal flared up at all?

I concede that it is quite possible that Johnson is not making this up. But it sure sounds like a desperate claim to make the evidence of Russian involvement in the Salisbury poisoning sound more copious than it really is. But let us give him the benefit of the doubt for a moment, just for the sake of argument. It still does not put him or his colleagues in a good light. Instead, it makes Conservative Party links with Russian monied interests look even sleazier than they already did – and they looked like a sewer channel in the first place. Because if the Russians were stockpiling nerve agents in the last ten years, they were violating International Law. If the Tories knew the Russian Government was doing that, and not only did nothing to draw attention to it, but in fact carried on allowing the free ingress of Russian finance into the United Kingdom, then Johnson has in effect admitted that his party is guilty of gross corruption.

Smart move, Donald… er, I mean, Boris.

1060242882

Yes, that’s how to watch a pop video on your I-Pod, Boris, well done.

by Martin Odoni

A rather misleading introduction to an article by the BBC (surprise, surprise) suggests that sterling’s value is rallying quite healthily, implying that ‘Brexit‘ is not necessarily the fatal wound that occasional slumps over the last eighteen months had indicated. With further encouraging news today of improving unemployment figures, the pound’s value has risen against the US ‘greenback’ to $1.42.

Now, in fairness, there was never any certainty about post-Brexit financial armageddon anyway, merely a considerable danger. And that danger has far from gone away; until a healthy severance deal for the UK for leaving the European Union is secured and its details published, another slump could happen at any moment. More significantly – and this is sort-of admitted later in the article – the pound is not really ‘rallying’. At least, it is not rallying nearly so much as the US dollar is slumping. That the pound has hit a reasonably stable level for the time being is undoubtedly good news, all-things-considered, but it should not be announced as something it is not.

The reason to doubt that sterling is strengthening particularly is that the status of a currency cannot be measured against one other alone. For instance, when measured against the single European currency, the euro, the pound’s value is not nearly as exciting; it has hovered around the 1.15 mark for around four months now.

The US dollar has been weak for well over a year, and the slump in international demand for the greenback – European activity is seen as more appealing among speculators right now – has meant its value is taking a bit of a kicking. The Donald Trump administration in Washington claims that this is precisely the plan; with the dollar continuing to depreciate, US exports become more attractive to foreign markets as sufficient dollars to afford them can be purchased more cheaply. And in fairness, US exports have risen fairly sharply since mid-2017; –

united-states-exports@2x

But there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical that this depreciation is a deliberate plan, and not just the inevitable ‘closing-down-sale’/bright-side-accident effect of a slumping currency.

Firstly, the Trump administration has a certain track-record of (what would be a nice way of saying this?) not remembering the recent past with sharp accuracy. When presented with inconvenient facts and incontrovertible evidence that these facts are true, Trump and his cronies tend just to cry, “FAKE NEWS!” and run away. It is quite possibly the crudest, most infantile form of propaganda seen in a major country since the First World War, and claiming bad-news-is-good-news would fit that same pattern very neatly.

Secondly, the rise in exports was visibly part of an on-off trend that had started early in 2016, when Barack Obama was still at the White House. Furthermore, that trend more or less stopped for some months after Trump was inaugurated last year. It only really picked up again about halfway through 2017.

Thirdly, were the aim of ‘deliberately’ letting the dollar’s value slide really to boost exports, why did Trump not just devalue the dollar and keep the process under some measure of control? Letting it happen more or less naturally is far more dangerous, as speculators may respond by dumping dollars at runaway increasing speed. Indeed, that makes the claims of Steve Mnuchin, the US Treasury Secretary, doubly dangerous. If he declares that he will deliberately make the dollar weaker and weaker, he will encourage speculators to dump greenbacks in a panic, as they will know that they cannot expect to make a profit on them. There comes a point where even an export-loving economy cannot afford for its currency to drop any further i.e. when it gets so low that domestic prices become unaffordably high. A flat devaluation at the outset would probably have avoided that danger.

Fourthly, the US economy is geared as an import economy, and the depreciation of the dollar makes imports more expensive, as do the new tariffs introduced this week. That would fit in with Trump’s obsolete, protectionist mindset, for sure. But making imports unattractive by artificially making them more expensive ultimately scuppers exports too, as other countries tend to retaliate with similar policies of tariffs and depreciation of their own currencies.

NB: Take China, a country that is export-locked i.e it produces far, far more goods than its population needs, and so has to keep exporting them as much as possible to prevent the glut from making them valueless on domestic markets. China has often deliberately undervalued the renminbi for many years, as its insane over-production levels mean that it has little need for most types of imports, while desperately needing to keep sending goods abroad. A weak Chinese currency means other countries can buy Chinese exports cheaply, while the enormous glut of domestic goods means that the increased price of imports is fairly meaningless. The heavy need for exports and relative irrelevance of imports means the Chinese Government would not be at all reluctant to devalue the renminbi as a response to any deliberate currency manipulation by the USA.

And finally, boosting exports while simultaneously making imports more expensive can be contradictory aims for another reason; if imports become pricier and therefore start to decline, demand for ‘homegrown’ goods may well go up domestically to fill the gap. If that happens, there will, by definition, be fewer homegrown goods available for export, as the home market will consume more of them (unless there is some kind of ‘supply-side miracle’ i.e. a surge in home production – not really something that can be relied upon to happen). Furthermore, and somewhat paradoxically, prices at home would very possibly go up even further in response to such a climb in demand, making imports more attractive again, and so defeating the object of the exercise.

For all these reasons, and possibly more, I think we can dismiss Mnuchin’s ‘tweak-of-the-moustache’ claims that “it’s-all-part-of-the-plan!

So overall, the real cause of sterling’s gains against the greenback is that downward pressure on the pound has been overtaken by the downward pressure on the dollar. The stabilisation of sterling’s value against the euro, meanwhile, is likely because, despite Tory attempts to say otherwise, there are signs from the Brexit negotiations that the UK is likely to stay in the Single Market after all, which is improving confidence among investors. This is a symptom of how weak the British bargaining position has been, and how poorly the Government has negotiated, but all-in-all, it would not be bad news were that the final outcome.

Back in Britain, all these (relative) silver linings are happening to the accompaniment of renewed whispers of discontent among Government MPs, regarding Theresa May’s performance as Prime Minister. This highlights an amusing paradox in her position; the better the economic news is for her, the likelier it is that she will be overthrown.

Since the General Election farce last June, May has been on borrowed time as Prime Minister. In a sense, in fact, she has been a Prime Minister in name only, as underlined by the Queen’s Speech being so short and setting out such an unambitious program for the current year. May has so little authority that she is presiding over the Government more than she is governing the country. In most circumstances, she would have been gone within days of the Election.

The only reason no Tory has dared challenge her for the leadership since that time is that the national outlook has, for the most part, looked pretty dire; being Prime Minister has looked like the proverbial poisoned chalice. Inflation has risen to around three per cent – very low by the standards of some decades but high by the standards set since the mid-1990s – the negotiations for Brexit have been messy and have fallen far behind schedule, GDP has weakened, parts of industry still have not recovered to anywhere near the pre-Credit-Crunch levels of performance, the NHS is in an all-time crisis, productivity is low, under-employment remains rampant, public service performance remains sketchy, and is in a fragile shape with the startling news of Carillion’s collapse, which could still drag a lot of other companies down with it. Nobody wants to risk becoming Prime Minister should the time come when all of these underlying problems hit ‘critical mass’.

But now that there are some positive signs (do not get excited, mind, they are nothing to write home about), including a stabilised pound, suddenly the idea of getting the keys to 10 Downing Street does not look quite so daunting. So the usual suspect, Boris ‘BoJob’ Johnson, has been making characteristic noises to undermine May’s position again, and to make his deceits during the Brexit referendum look plausible once more – while of course casually leaking the details of his manoeuvres to the media at the same time. Others on the lunatic Brexit fringe of the party may also be getting itchy feet about the drift towards a ‘Soft Brexit’, and wish to intervene to harden the British negotiating position once more, even though the prospect of staying in the Single Market appears to be precisely what is reviving the fortunes of the pound. Some other Tories are simply fed up with the general listlessness of the May administration.

This is the bizarre position May is in; if she wishes to remain as Prime Minister, she has to hope that the economic outlook does not improve much. If it does, someone will finally see a sufficient reward in replacing her. And Donald Trump is the man who, inadvertently, has created an illusion of British success through economic failure in the USA. He could just have triggered the rebellion that ends May’s premiership.

As for the brightened outlook, on the one hand it is good news, but in some ways it is irritating. This is because the most impassioned and jingoistic Brexiteers are bound to try and present this as a sign that leaving the EU is a good move, and it is not.

Be under no illusions, the improved forecast is because global conditions are looking up. It is not because of ‘good’ Government policy, and it is certainly not because Brexit is not harmful after all. (Brexit has not even happened yet, folks, the really tough times lie in the future, especially if the UK leaves the Single Market in the end.) The optimism is in spite of Brexit and Government policy. There remains, with wages still sluggish and high domestic borrowing, a serious danger of a second Credit Crunch in the near future – no, thankfully it did not happen last year as I had been openly fearing it might, but the underlying problems that make it a likelihood, of household debt rising faster than wages, have not been solved, or even addressed. The increase in interest rates in November, although small, will certainly not help to reduce the amounts owed. Brexit could still go horribly wrong, especially given how little time is left to complete a mammoth program of negotiations for a new trade deal with the EU, if we wish to avoid defaulting to the far harsher World Trade Organisation rules. The issue of a new border settlement in Ireland that will be acceptable to both Unionists and Nationalists has still not been straightened out; if that goes wrong, the repercussions could literally include war. The collapse of Carillion could still lead to a domino-effect of cave-ins throughout the construction industry and across the wider public services sector. Interserve is another big firm caught in the headlights.

There is still so, so much that could go wrong. Just because the situation does not look completely hopeless for the moment, it does not mean the country has made the right move after all. The brighter global outlook would have happened without Brexit, and the UK would probably benefit more from it without Brexit exerting a ‘drag factor’.

Still, there is a very satisfying way of looking at this; even when hampered by Brexit, the UK’s economy is still doing better than Donald Trump’s USA.

by Martin Odoni

There are just six days until the General Election, and the Prime Minister’s already-shambolic campaign has been struck by two fresh, self-inflicted body-blows in about fifteen hours.

Last night, the United States President, Donald Trump, withdrew the USA from the Paris Accord on Climate Change. It was an outrageous decision that has received condemnation from all around the world. (It is genuinely disturbing to see Communist China, at least on this issue, actually showing greater honour and morality than the self-proclaimed ‘best country in the world’.)

Oddly, at a crucial stage of the Election campaign, this presented Theresa May with a real opportunity to demonstrate her vaunted ‘strong-and-stable leadership’, and to prove that Britain is not just an obsequious follower of the USA’s every whim. So naturally, May seized upon the opportunity, and did not add her name to a letter signed by other world leaders condemning Trump’s decision. Instead, she telephoned the President to tell him she was ‘disappointed’.

Wow. Effective. Really seizing the initiative there, no cowardly or feeble half-gestures from our nation’s inspirational leader, dear me, no.

Now I am not entirely convinced May even made the phone-call, but if we give her the benefit of the doubt on that, I am still led to ask, “So what?” What she said determines whether her response was strong, and it clearly was not. She is merely ‘disappointed’ in a decision that could ultimately devastate wide stretches of land across the surface of the Earth? Really? ‘Disappointed‘? Did she ‘shake her head in disapproval’ at the Rwandan Genocide?

‘Disappointment’ is yet another lazy, mechanical ‘get-out’ word, used as a substitute for expressing anger with an ‘ally’ when anger is merited.

May claims the letter was drawn up before she had had a chance to speak to Trump. I have no doubt of that; I expect it was originally drawn up around the time Trump was sworn into office, as the move was one of his Election promises, and other countries would have wanted to be ready for it. So May could easily have added her name to it any time she wished, simply by forwarding an electronic signature by e-mail. It can be done in seconds.

So, having probably cost the Conservative Party another point in the opinion polls by allowing herself to appear spineless over international affairs (not good when your main Election posture has been that you will be a ‘strong’ negotiator during withdrawal from the European Union), May needed Friday to be free of any more bumps-in-the-road.

theresa-may1

Enter Craig MacKinlay, Conservative MP for South Thanet. Now, the Tories appeared to have dodged a major bullet early last month, when the Crown Prosecution Service initially ruled that there would be no charges over the Tories’ Election Expenses Fraud. Smugly, and very deceitfully, May claimed in the aftermath of that announcement that this ruling meant that no one in the party at a constituency level had done anything wrong. That was categorically not the meaning of the CPS’ ruling, but more importantly, May overlooked one other detail; the ruling only applied to the rule-violation of the misuse of the Tory ‘Battle Bus‘ for local campaigning, while reporting it as a national expense. The individual case of the very bitterly-fought campaign for South Thanet was still being investigated separately.

Now – with truly agonising timing for the Tories – the investigation has been completed, and the CPS has found enough evidence to be confident of a successful prosecution. MacKinlay, his election agent, Nathan Gray, and a party activist called Marion Little, have all been charged with violating the Representation of the People Act of 1983.

I would just like to offer a mild observation at this point, with no implication intended. The timing of these charges is reminiscent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s bizarre, and as it turned out rather pointless, public declaration that it would re-open investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mail scandal just before the US Presidential Election back in the Autumn. I would certainly argue that there is more point to what has happened today, than what happened then, given there is apparently sufficient grounds this time to press charges. But even so, there are so many parallels between what it happening in Britain now and what happened in the USA last year that it is almost eerie.

MacKinlay’s alleged conduct is probably not May’s fault, and this is one occasion where her inability to control the Election campaign is not down to her own incompetence. But her rash and dishonest declaration that no one had done anything wrong is now likely to do her and her party yet more harm, with the Election now dead ahead. A declaration like that is usually a reputation-gamble. Given the savaging May’s reputation has already suffered over the last few weeks of campaign chaos, it could be argued that it was a small gamble to make. But it is not, because the destiny of 10 Downing Street is on the line as well right now. With Jeremy Corbyn and Labour closing rapidly in the opinion polls, and May’s entire campaign banking on the public perception of Tory competence, the final death of her reputation could also be the final death of her bid to remain Prime Minister.

After all, who would want a party in power that has shown itself to be both incompetent and, in all probability, corrupt?

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