1. Theresa May’s brave gambit
She didn’t need to, so why did she, especially after promising absolutely definitely that she wouldn’t?
However, Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight warns that the British polls are basically not worth a cracker. Their abysmal performance translates into a margin of error of 13 to 15%.
May currently holds 330 of the 650 parliament. Anything less than a 100-seat margin may be judged as failure. The Scottish National Party is likely to hold most of the 56 of 59 seats there, which raises the bar in the rest of the country. Some Conservative members are worried, and there is a fair chance that they will lose the 27 seats they picked up from the Liberal Democrats, who are calling for a further referendum on Brexit once they can see what sort of a deal is on offer.
At least one person, a former Corbyn staffer, thinks he can win. And we may have a TV debate with an empty chair representing May.
2. Does it matter who becomes president of France?
Well, yes it does. There is a lot of stuff around, but I’d recommend two pieces to get a general grasp of what is at stake:
- French election: Vote for president could reshape Western world from the ABC
- Who will win the French election – and does it even matter? from the Spectator.
The second piece says it does matter:
- not only because all of the probable outcomes threaten to make things even worse, but because almost all of them have the potential to be particularly painful for Britain, whatever the result of our own election on June 8.
There are 11 candidates, with the top two qualifying for a second round run-off.
Just about everyone thinks Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Front will be one of them, so it is a race for the second spot, for which there are three main contenders. If she Le Pen wins the world changes.
Republican Francois Fillon is probably the candidate for the status quo, which may be the best on offer. His chances were dented by a corruption scandal, allegedly paying his wife and kids for doing nothing.
His chances may have been boosted by the recent terrorist attack.
Jean-Luc Melenchon is the eloquent far-left leader of a movement called La France Insoumise (France Unbowed or Rebellious France) who has also threatened “Frexit” and suggested abandoning the euro.
He’s also suggesting that any income beyond 400,000 should be taxed at 100%. We can’t have that, can we?
Then there is Emmanuel Macron, the 39-year-old former investment banker, who served as a minister under Mr Hollande, who has never run for elected office. When he formed his party En Marche it was said to be centrist, neither left nor right and pro-EU. With his background, he is definitely from the elite, but have read of what Jonathan Miller says about him in the Spectator. He promises to fix everything – health, education, and the economy – while handing out tax cuts and benefits all around. Personally he is a bit strange, “terrifyingly clever” with a fixation on older women and married to a retired high school teacher, 25 years his senior.
Also his party, En Marche, may not have what it takes to perform well in the general elections in June, which would limit his capacity to do anything.
3. Here in Oz
There was quite a lot going on – we now have new criteria for citizenship, 457 visas are to be scrapped, the Commonwealth public service has been asked to show cause why it shouldn’t be moved to the bush, Ray Hadley has dumped Scott Morrison from his weekly radio spot (for being unfaithful, going on radio in Melbourne and someone lying to Ray about what was going on) and Labour has released its housing policy and has been dumped on for simultaneously doing too much and too little, and yes US VP Mike Pence has dropped in to tell us they are on the job in our region.
Too much for me to cover in this post, so I’ll comment briefly on Turnbull’s strategy, and Tony Abbott as a continuing pain in the posteria.
Turnbull, in an effort to ‘cut through’ seems to be turning to issues that are loaded with symbolism and values, an appeal to nationalism or nativism. Problem is, according to Pillip Coorey (you can get him on Facebook, if that one is pay-walled), border security and immigration is a fifth-order issue. An outfit called JWS which does a quarterly poll on 11 issues found that the public is still more focused on health, the economy, education and infrastructure and population, which has snuck into fourth place.
Laurie Oakes tells us that Graham Richardson’s advice to Turnbull is, for God’s sake bring him into the tent and give him a ministry. Oakes says that Turnbull had two chances, first on his ascension to the throne, and then after the election last year. Apparently there was a bitter exchange before last Christmas, but Oakes says the situation has arrived where he might as well, things can’t get much worse.
Meanwhile, the Daily Tele has published a piece of ‘analysis’ by Cate McGregor.
She says that in university rugby Abbott, as a second-rate at best front rower, was loved and admired by his mates as the ultimate team player and remembered fondly as a dedicated club stalwart. Later he showed similar qualities as a volunteer fireman. But cycling is a lonely sport, which allows a man to think and brood.
- People much closer to Abbott than I am tell me that he is now even angrier at his removal by Malcolm Turnbull in September 2015 than he was at the time of the coup.
Time has not healed his wounds.
Rather Abbott’s desire for revenge has deepened and his contempt for Turnbull has festered.
Abbott, she says, is risking his legacy and his reputation. But what is a man to do when he “genuinely believes that Turnbull is a fraud with no authentic conservative values or instincts”, and that Turnbull is “exactly the leader that the Conservative side cannot afford in an era of disruptions and right-wing populism.”
Just wait, she says, just wait, and be careful with whom you pack into a scrum.
You might remember Cate McGregor AM as the former speechwriter and strategic adviser for former army chief David Morrison, and later as a cricket writer and commentator.
It’s interesting personal advice, but hardly political analysis.