Liz for Leader

Earlier this month the Conservative Home website showed Liz Truss leading Rishi Sunak by 32% polling 60% membership support versus 28% for Sunak.
So, one must ask why hasn’t Sunak thrown in the towel and conceded that the gap (which has shown no sign of closing) is too big to allow him to achieve a majority of party voters. (Spoiler alert: I voted for Truss).
The answer must be that Sunak has been saying the Hindu equivalent of Hail Marys hoping for a slip up by Truss.
It seemed as though his prayers had been answered, when Truss was reported saying that as a country, we need to work better as our productivity has for a long time lagged behind that of our rivals. The usual suspects have derided these comments as attacks on the working man, but we do need to achieve greater productivity and stop resisting more effective ways of being more productive.
The railwaymen’s strike is a good case in point where they wish to keep all ticket offices open, when it is no longer necessary to keep each office manned.
Fortunately, the Truss supporters have rallied to her side.
The Left wish to dictate our choices, often by removing them or by seeking to occupy a spurious higher ground.
Earlier this year Liz Truss was criticised for lunching a U.S. Trade Representative at a private Mayfair club. The lunch for ten people cost £1,400, which all in all doesn’t seem too bad.
If Labour was not afraid of Liz Truss, they would not try to denigrate her.
Sunak should concede the battle and let the party get on with winning the next election.
Meanwhile I voted for Liz some time ago.

Millions of Ghost Patients

According to the Daily Mail and highlighted by the Taxpayers’ Alliance there are 61.7 million people registered at GP practices in England despite there only being 56.5 million people in the country -meaning there are 5.2 million ghost patients. (Which is around a 10% overcounting).
The ghost patients are costing the country over £800,000 a year. A sum which would support more than a few nurses.
As it is, at the moment the overcounting lets the British Medical Association (the doctors’ trade union) claim that they are overworked simply by looking at the average number of patients per doctor.
The NHS must have its own inspectorate and checking a sample of patients’ names against the electoral register would throw up an instant list of names to be investigated.
It’s not rocket science – but quite often simple solutions are.

The Will of the People

One of the joys of the East Anglian Daily Times is that it not only features regular letter contributors but it also allows for ideas to be developed,
One such correspondent is John Dell from Shotley who recently has been arguing that the Brexit vote did not reflect the will of the people, as the Remainers and the Abstainers outnumbered the Brexiteers.
As readers if this blog will know, I greatly believe in voting. If you don’t vote then your views do not count and you are only a whisker away from not mattering.
Acknowledging John’s position on this issue I caused the following letter to the editor was published by the EADT on 30th June.
Dear Sir
Let trumpets sound. Let the bells ring throughout Suffolk. Let there be bunting and dancing in the streets all along the Shotley/Pinewood corridor. John Dell (EADT letters 24th June) and I seem to have found something we can agree on in respect of the statistics regarding voting for the UK/EU referendum.
If you add the abstaining votes to the Remainers then 29 million people did not vote for Brexit. But fairness demands that you also add the abstainers to those who voted against remaining in the EU. The overall result is the same but by reclassifying the abstainers as being both against Brexit and against Remaining then you have an accurate and verifiable result based on 128% of the electorate. Thus surpassing anything seen, so far, in Russia, China or North Korea.
Abstainers effectively assign their votes to those who do vote.
But the Dell-Riley principle of counting abstainers twice revolutionises vote reporting and allows everyone to move forward
Such is the joy of the Dell Riley principle; it lets the voting outcome to truly be the will of the people and lets political activists harmonise political wistfulness with political reality and so happiness can be achieved all around.
And that is my contribution to Suffolk happiness this week
The full correspondence is below.

Trollery in Suffolk

For some time, I have harboured the suspicion that the letters page of the East Anglian Daily Times has been infiltrated by Russian trolls or worse.
Let us look at the correspondence of John Dell (actually a real person – but who may not be the actual correspondent). His letters usually have two themes. First is that Brexit was a huge mistake and every disadvantage experienced by Britain should be exposed.
The second view is that the Prime Minister is unfit for the job.
On March 7th he quoted the Russian ambassador saying that “they (the Russians) have crushed Britain to the ground, they (the British) are on their knees and will not rise again for a very long time” Dell, found it difficult to disagree!
Where has Dell been? Have his eyes and ears been open to current events?
The Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24th, some ten days prior to the letter.
As for the ambassador’s comments, I’m sure his words are a comfort to the occupants of the Russian tanks destroyed in Ukraine by British weaponry.
On March 28th Dell conflated the Ukraine’s wish to join the EU with the British vote to leave, reinforcing his view regarding the regrettablity of the latter.
I don’t mind partisanship. But I object to people taking me for a fool. Thus, my conclusion that these extreme positions are being articulated by one or more trolls.

Vanity of Vanities; All is Vanity

The Church of the Militant Elvis Party first appeared on the national political scene in 2001 when the party stood in Brentwood (Essex) where it ran in the General Election against Eric Pickles and Martin Bell. As a very minor party it unsurprisingly garnered 68 votes.
The party contests all General Elections and some by-elections. Their beliefs include Elvis still being alive and living in an old people’s home on the Lincolnshire coast somewhere between Skegness and Mablethorpe.
Its aims are to combat the influence of various right-wing churches on mainstream parties in the U.K.
Furthermore, the Party believes that the established church’s involvement with the global market is yet another contradiction of Jesus’s teachings. They are also interested in stopping the degradation of the planet by capitalism and the attacks on old people’s welfare in the UK.
So far so good. I came across them this month when I was looking at the by-election results for Erdington (Birmingham) when the party came last with 8 votes. Usually, they score between 50 and 200 votes each time and to end the latest campaigning season with only 8 votes seriously suggests that they are having trouble getting their message across or that they have become the Billy No-Mates of political parties.
All in all, the ratio of cost to votes indicates that standing in elections can be a vanity project beyond understanding.
Since power comes from the people and respecting the King, I’m pleased to plug their web site: https://grumpyoldelvis.co.uk/

Alternative Reality

A correspondent in the East Anglian Daily Times recently suggested that the outgoing head of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, might have made a better Prime Minister than Boris Johnston.
A reasonable statement you might think, except that Carney has never submitted himself to a General Election, and I doubt that the electorate would take to an economist as the head of their Government.
A better comparison might be if Johnson had lost and Corbyn had come into power. Would it have been like the times when Corbyn was causing Haringey to be one of the least efficient of London boroughs without any ambitions to make life better for the majority of its residents?
So, whilst the correspondent may dream of an alternative reality, I’ll stick with my current situation where my life may not be perfect but it is far better than it would have been had Boris had lost his election.

A version of this blog posting was first published in the EADT

Deep Secrets

Let me declare an interest. I first met Willie (and Ann) Salmond in Uganda in September 1990. We interacted on and off through to 2003 when I left Uganda for the last time. Among other things Willie Salmond was the country director for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation’s program in Uganda. He is also a Presbyterian minister, has three grown daughters and is resident n Newport CT.
Willie’s foundation in Uganda was one of our target customers when I was with Standard Chartered Bank and we secured his banking business by knocking fifteen days off the time taken to get monies from his US headquarters to Kampala.
We even collaborated on the viability of small sunflower farms to enable aids sufferers to achieve a modest level of financial independence.
So, it was with much pleasure that following an Amazon recommendation I read Willie’s latest book “Deep Secrets” which takes place in Connecticut, Washington and Uganda. It is a very enjoyable and informing read. The story is grounded in today’s reality of Covid, Al Quaeda and Aids. It is also about the strong bonds of family, forgiveness and resolute purpose.
As always, I read it first for narrative and local authenticity. I am now rereading it again for deeper insights as to characterisation of the key players from Central Bank governors to the “shamba” cultivator.
Even after seventeen years I can still recognise the people, their strengths and abilities to rise above misfortune.
If you take nothing else from this book, you should remember two things. First the daily prayer “Lord, please surprise me”. Second, that Arabica coffee from the Mt Elgon region of Uganda is first class and is the only coffee I know which becomes sweeter and more flavourful as it oxidises on becoming cooler.
I wholly recommend this book for an entertaining and worthwhile read.

Resetting the Clock

In November a correspondent of the East Anglian Daily Times suggested that we should improve our negotiating skills and apply to rejoin the EU.
This pie in the sky thinking has still not disappeared and presupposes that the EU would reset the clock to 2016 before we had the referendum.
Our negotiating position since the referendum has been consistently undermined by the Remainers and their Quisling-like supporters in the Labour and Liberal Democratic parties. Both parties undertook to recognise the results of the referendum. Subsequently, the Lib Dems announced that they would not recognise the result at all. Labour in the form of their Shadow Foreign Secretary (Emily Thornberry) announcing that they would renegotiate the Brexit agreement and campaign against its acceptance.
What the two parties should have done is to recognise the people’s wishes and work towards the best possible outcome instead of continually trying to denigrate our country and reinvigorate project fear.
This is why the EU felt that it could offer us a deal worse than they have with Japan.
And what if we did rejoin the EU?
Sterling would be subsumed into the Euro at a disadvantageous exchange rate. Our economy would become as sclerotic as theirs (unemployment in France pre Covid was over 8% ), our agriculture would be disadvantaged through the Common Agricultural Policy and we would doubtless be required to make a massive contribution the EU structural deficits and recovery funds.
From Day One after the referendum, we have appeared weak because of the noise coming from those who think they know better.
Now is the time to get behind our Government and show the EU that all parties support the wishes of the people and that we should be treated as the independent sovereign country with appropriate and friendly relations with our neighbours.
A version of this blog was published in letter form in the EADT

Not Just the Fish

One of the responses to my letter to the EADT and my posting here (Ils Sont Nos Poissons) tried to wave away the fish argument in the Brexit negotiations saying that the number of employed in the industry was less than those employed by the Arcadia (Top Shop etc) Group of companies.
It’s not just the fish. Admittedly, there are larger parts of our economy under threat, but the fish are merely the outward sign of a much more important issue.
No country can claim that it is “sovereign” if it doesn’t control its coastal waters.
We were in this situation in the ninth century when King Arthur was beset by the Danes. Again in 1066 when we were invaded by the Norwegian armies of Harald Hardrada and Tostig. Later in 1066 we lost control of our waters for the last time for over a thousand years when William of Normandy landed. And, we all know how that ended.
We have been paying the equivalent of Danegeld to Brussels for far too long and it’s time we took back control not only of our waters but our institutions and our economy.
That’s why the fish matter!

Ils sont nos poissons

It would appear that the French are still not happy with just controlling their half of the English Channel or La Manche, they want all the fish in the sea.
But Macron is no Charles de Gaulle and Boris is no Edward Heath.
On the 21st October we celebrated Trafalgar Day to commemorate the fact that 215 years ago we defeated the French and resolved once and for all who should rule the waves around Great Britain. Macron is no Napoleon either, despite his bluster.
They are our territorial waters and the French should look elsewhere.
Why are my Bremainer counterparts not supporting Macron? If the deal on offer is that good, they should be vocally supporting it and inviting French trawlers to station themselves in Dover or Douvres as they would rename it.
As always, Britain’s difficulties are seen to be France’s opportunities. But, this time around it’s not a case of “No, No Nanette” but “Absolument Non! Mr le President”
A version of this article was published in letter form in the East Anglian Daily Times on October 23rd