Saturday, 3 June 2017

Magic Money Tree

It reminds me of a song by the late Burl Ives, Big Rock Candy Mountain. What does? The phrase "magic money tree".

You may have heard Theresa May utter it at last night's BBC election debate in York. Other senior  Conservatives, which is to say former Cabinet Ministers, have also used it - Justine Greening or Amber Rudd. Perhaps all three of them have found it useful way of contrasting their own carefully calculated manifesto plans with those of Jeremy Corbyn.

"There is no magic money tree." It reminds me of beleagued football managers distancing themselves from universal savious such as Gandalf the Wizard. "There's no magic wand," they are liable to say, as though credulous fans thought there was. 

If there was such a thing as a magic wand there could be a magic money tree and if there was a magic money tree nobody would have to pay income tax, corporation tax, VAT. Short of emigrating to Saudi Arabia there's no chance of that happening, not even if the UK government stops wasting money on climate change nostrums or paying into the EU.

I was going to say that a heavyweight politician such as the late Denis Healey would never use such an infantile phrase in a general election debate. Healey, after all, was obliged to seek a loan from the International Monetary Fund prior to the Winter of Discontent, after the Arab-led member nations of OPEC jacked up the price of crude. On second thoughts he might if he was putting somebody in their place.

Healey it was who likened a verbal assault from Geoffrey Howe to being "savaged by a dead sheep". We're not going to hear put-downs as good as that during the remainder of this campaign because campaign managers are evidently terrified of their charges - T May and J Corbyn - saying what they really think about nuclear weapons, the NHS, the state of teaching in schools and universities, the EU, the special relationship with the United States.

Whoever coined "magic money tree" should think about retiring to write cautionary tales for young children. Make sure you don't go down to the tigerish woods today, my son, lest you fall under the spell of the magic money tree and start imaging a future in which people can afford decent homes and don't have to apply for a bank loan to pay train-fares to and from work.

The Tories, of course, are sarcastically suggesting that Labour's spending plans belong to the realm of fairy stories. Unlike the economics of the last Conservative Chancellor George Osborne, whose five year austerity plan led to more borrowing, more public debt. The magic money tree that he had access to was known by an altogether more prosaic name - Quantative Easing.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Is This a Cunning Tory Plan?

Theresa May is asking people to believe in her because she believes in Brexit, whereas Jeremy Corbyn does not.

Do people believe in her Brexit plan, the 12-point plan that she outlined in January this year? Apprently they don't. I have just voted in a Daily Telegraph poll, declaring that I do not believe she will be able to achieve any of the items on her wish list, for that is what it reads like. Intrestingly, I was promptly informed that 51 per cent of the people who had voted didn't think she would or could achieve her ultimate exit Brexit either. 

Mrs May probably knows this, which may explain why she goes on addressing what looks like small groups of placard-bearing offspring of Daily Telegraph readers. In an outfit seemingly inspired by Sydney Opera House and the memory of female power-dressing in the 1980s, she bounced her Brexit message about as though she was leading a fitness exercise at a Sunday School meeting.

Is this all part of a cunning plan to lose the General Election to the Labour Party? You never know. Labour, unlike the Conservatives, has not been mandated to take the UK out of the European Union via Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Their policy is to stay in the Single Market while negotiating the UK's gradual withdrawal from the political structure of the EU, with its single currency, federal foreign policy and European defence force. 

I imagine that most middle-of-the-road Tories, not obsessed by immigration, wish that was their party's policy. Well, they know now how they can achieve that on June 8. There is historical precedent for this. Before the February 1974 General Election, former Tory Cabinet Minister Enoch Powell MP encouraged fellow Conservatives to vote Labour, which was then opposed to the UK's memberhsip of the exclusive Brussels club. The Tories were defeated.

Handy dandy, how things turn around. Next week Conservatives should vote Labour if they want to keep the UK as a trading partner in the European Union's Single Market.

Either accidentally or cunningly covertly, Mrs May, long a campaigning Remainer, has single-handedly brought about this state of affairs. Her rather forced, stage-managed public appearances, in contrast make Jeremy Corbyn's look a little more relaxed, even to the bearded wonder taking time out to wax lyrical to ITV's Robert Peston about the stress-reducing pleasures of tending his allotment.  

In what amounts to a complete change of climate, more tangible than President Trump's public coitus interruptus from the Paris Climate Change Agreement, reporters are now considering seriously the possibility of a porridge-eating Arsenal supporter in 10 Downing Street on June 9.

In the words of Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - it was fifty years ago today - "I've got to admit it's getting better/ A little better all the time (it can't get much worse..").