Saturday salon 22/4

1. Theresa May’s brave gambit

She didn’t need to, so why did she, especially after promising absolutely definitely that she wouldn’t?

Given a lead of about 20% in the polls, she possibly sees a chance of decimating Labour and governing virtually as a one-party state for the next five years.

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:

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.

32 thoughts on “Saturday salon 22/4”

  1. Liberals move to dump Kelly O’Dwyer while on maternity leave:

    Eight days into Financial Services Minister Kelly O’Dwyer’s maternity leave, vexed Victorian Liberals have moved to replace her.

    Fairfax Media has confirmed Tony Abbott’s former chief-of-staff turned political commentator Peta Credlin has been encouraged to run against Ms O’Dwyer in the blue ribbon seat of Higgins, as a rebuke to the minister for the government’s soon-to-be enacted changes to superannuation.

    Apparently there was “white hot rage” over the Turnbull government’s move to snip some of the super benefits of the super rich.

  2. Credlin has denied a challenge to Kelly O’Dwyer after letting it run for a few days.

    Seems it was effectively a stunt cooked up by angry millionaires and supported by Michael Kroger to give Turnbull the sh*ts in the run-up to the budget.

  3. The Liberals in England may do well by providing a place for those who want to send an anti Brexit message. Ditto the Scottish national party.
    If the pro EU parties win in the French election it may influence the UK vote as well by placing May with the populist extreme.

  4. Why is ” populist ” a derogatory term if one favours Democracy ?
    Have we changed the definition of this word too ?
    It’s getting harder to keep up.

  5. In other news, my middle Sons boat just docked at Icheon South Korea.
    Un better behave.

  6. This is from Guy Rundle at Crikey on the French election:

    Macron gained around 23.2% of the vote, with Le Pen on 21.7%. Republican Party (centre-right) candidate Francois Fillon and left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon were equal third, on 19.5%. Socialist Party candidate Benoit Hamon did even worse than expected, gaining only 6.5%, only a point or so above the best of the minor half-dozen candidates.

    Macron is probably a Blairite centrist, and definitely pro-EU. However, Rundle says around half the population voted for Frexit candidates, and the issue will hang around for years to come.

  7. One of Hamon’s main difficulties was that he ran as Socialist candidate, having left that Party only a few years ago.

    Voters loyal to the Socialist Party were unlikely to forget that!

    The name Macron is of course French for ‘macroeconomics’. Just as Rudd is a Shortening of rudder.

    And Le Pen is a throwback to La Plume de ma Tante the pen of my auntie.

    Jumpy, how can Le Pen be female? “Le” indicates the masculine.
    Go to ze bottom of ze classe!

    au revoir

  8. I don’t think France, of all places, has had a Female President yet.

    Gee, I don’t think they have either.
    I wonder how we could find out for sure?

  9. One of Hamon’s main difficulties was that he ran as Socialist candidate, having left that Party only a few years ago.

    Voters loyal to the Socialist Party were unlikely to forget that!

    Hamon is dust, Macron did that, but no, the socialists will forgive him coz he’s not Le La Pen.

  10. M Le Jumpy

    Je regrette my verrah bad mistake, all so confusing. Zese – ‘ow you say, Frenchy people wiz zere ferny accents, I dunno eef zey Maurice Chevalier ou Peenk Pantser of Peter Sellers.

    Zut alors!! Now you got me worried eef Marine eez lady or masculine like ‘er father, M Le Pen. Et elle, Marine, eez maritime or sailor or naval???

    Why not Marianne, good Frenchy name?
    Why Yankee soldier?

    M Le Jumpy you confusing me again. Vive la France!

    Liberte, egalite, fraternite.

    Et bon soir…

  11. Zut alors. ……. Exclamation, old fashioned, no meaning
    Et elle …… And she
    Vive la France….. Long live France
    Et bon soir ….. And good night

    But the killer, three word slogan is that other bit:

    Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite…… Liberty, Equality, Fraternity

    three words, echoing down the centuries; the French, the Europeans, and all the world, still trying to make sense of that phrase, still living with an ideal ….. which ……. ???

    It’s up to us all, what each Bloke and Sheila makes of that part. It’s not the language you speak, it’s your thoughts and actions.

    Over to you.

  12. Getting to know Macron:

    he vows to cut taxes and spending but also provide support for those on low incomes along with €50bn (£42bn) for public infrastructure and a shift to renewable energy.

    More controversially he has vowed to cut corporation tax and red tape, allowing companies to renegotiate the 35-hour week and make it easier to hire and fire.


    His biggest challenge is winning over blue collar workers who are put off by his support for globalisation, multiculturalism and the EU.

    I know a poll has him 62/38 ahead, but it isn’t over until it’s over.

  13. Narcissism, cunning use of Twit to bamboozle opponents, deep sense of grievance and burning desire for vengeance on Pres Obama, leering enjoyment of “celebrity” status and the pet-grabbing opportunities he seems to think it affords him, distaste for paying taxes,
    ditto for paying contractors
    strong belief in the art of the deal
    aversion for swamps
    admiration for the “strong man” image of elected dictators
    admiration for “voodoo economics”
    deep affection for his daughter Ivanka
    strong supporter of his wife’s right not to live with him during his Presidency
    believer in hydrological improvement = “trickle down benefits” = the theory of urinal financing

    What’s not to like? The guy has values and belief systems by the cartload, or should that be ‘by the limousine load’?

    Why, oh why, did Alan Bond never run for office in Australia??

  14. Heah, Obamas $60mill book deal, $400 K from just his first Wall Street speech.
    Obama is loving Capitalism now, trickle down or trickle up, he loves all of it.

  15. I don’t believe The Donald is uniquely second-rate.
    Not at all.

    I think he was elected democratically.

    But he’s not unique.
    Many politicians have more self-regard than seems warranted.

    And restricting consideration to US Presidents,

    a) JFK felt he was entitled to a procession of young ladies
    b) as did William Clinton, who lied on oath about one of the young women.
    c) both JFK and Franklin Roosevelt hid debilitating medical conditions from the public
    d) Richard Nixon was a very strange human, prone to seeing and directing conspiracies
    e) President Truman ordered the use of atomic weapons against civilians
    f) Gerald Ford pardoned R. M. Nixon
    g) by the way, that other practice of pardons being issued by an outgoing President seems to fly in the face of “equality before the law”, and as potentially corruptible as the honours and peerages handed out to party donors in the UK
    h) President Obama should have refused to accept the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to him when he’d hardly done anything, except not being G.W. Bush

    President Trump merely joins a long tradition of immoral and unattractive incumbents.

    Not saying our polity is healthier.
    Not saying Hillary would have been any better than The Donald.

  16. Obamas $60mill book deal, $400 K from just his first Wall Street speech.

    Sounds like Obama is better at the art of the deal than the Donald. Of course a fair comparison depends on how many bankruptcies he can rack up. We’ll have to wait and see.

  17. Perhaps Obama doesn’t regard bankruptcy as a necessary weapon in the art of business?

  18. Remember the old days, when bankruptcy was regarded as a marker of business failure?

  19. And Obama’s never hired someone and refused to pay them when the job was finished (a specialty of #45 I am told).
    He obviously doesn’t have what it takes to run a country.

  20. zoot

    my sister was in USA in October last year, chance meeting with a bloke who turned out to be a yacht designer. Sorry tale, had spent months designing a luxury yacht for The Donald, some years earlier. TD at the end of this said, “Nuh, don’t like the design. Won’t build it. Not paying you.”

    Which apparently in that world is unacceptable: youse pay for the detailed drawings no matter whether yacht building goes ahead or not.

    Designer bloke VERY unhappy.

    Many construction stories far worse than that.

  21. I’m puzzled by Anne Summers’ article. Apparently it’s OK for Clinton, Bush and Gillard to get paid for speaking, but not Obama.
    Elizabeth Warren shares her unease but Obama’s spokesman makes what I consider to be a valid point:

    “As we announced months ago, President Obama will deliver speeches from time to time,” Eric Schultz, a senior adviser to Obama, said Wednesday in a statement. “Some of those speeches will be paid, some will be unpaid, and regardless of venue or sponsor, President Obama will be true to his values, his vision, and his record.”
    “With regard to this or any speech involving Wall Street sponsors, I’d just point out that in 2008, Barack Obama raised more money from Wall Street than any candidate in history — and still went on to successfully pass and implement the toughest reforms on Wall Street since FDR,” he added.
    Schultz added that Obama will continue to focus most of his post-presidency on writing a book, giving speeches and “training and elevating a new generation of political leaders in America.”

    I might add that I became disenchanted with Obama when he continued the state sponsored terrorism of drone strikes.
    He’s still a few orders of magnitude better that Hair Twitler.

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