Is this the start of the Saturday night/Sunday morning massacre by Corbyn?

June 26th, 2016

From this I’m concluding a coup is being implemented by the opponents of Corbyn and how long will the reshuffle take ?



Bunco makes the case for Liz Truss as next CON leader and PM

June 25th, 2016

Liz Truss

She’s behind you! Boris needs to look over his shoulder

A couple of months ago I promised OGH that I’d write a piece on why I thought Liz Truss would be the next Prime Minister. With other things to do and three years to 2019, I put it on the back burner but events mean I need to nail my colours to the mast.

She’s not an obvious choice and certainly not in the front runners but we need to remember that, in the Conservative Party, he who wields the knife never wears the crown. So we need to look in the second rank and Truss ranks alongside Crabb, Hammond, Morgan, Harper, Soubry, Stewart, Truss, & Fallon for the longer-shot who may offer value at the bookmakers.

Back in 2009 when PB had a Channel Two, I wrote a series of guest articles over three weeks about how she was selected from my ringside seat with direct access to the participants.These were: All Trussed Up and Nowhere to Go; We’re Going Into Extra Time; and Cinders Shall Go to the Ball

The circumstances of her selection in South West Norfolk were a torrid and bruising time played out in the national media complete with snidey remarks on Have I Got News For You. Playing to metropolitan prejudice about life in Norfolk, the selection got caught up in a national controversy about All Women Shortlists, Cameron Cuties & Open Primaries as a method of doing away with the smoke-filled-room appointment of Parliamentary candidates. The old buffers and blue-rinses hated the modernisation.

The media lapped up each new twist and turn raking over details of her private life characterising the debate as one between the Cameron modernisers and the Golf Club Turnip Taliban with Jeremy Paxman’s credibility as a neutral commentator on Newsnight was undermined when it was revealed that he was a regular *SHOOTING PARTY* guest on ‘Turnip Taliban’ Leader Sir Jeremy Bagge’s estate near Downham Market.”

A lesser person would have walked away. But she didn’t and insodoing has since won the admiration of local people for her grit, determination and plain talking. It was no surprise to those who saw her at first hand when she became one of the first 2010 intake to reach Cabinet rank, albeit to the poisoned chalice of DEFRA, the graveyard of many political careers

But why does this qualify Liz to be leader?

Her selection demonstrated her personal and mental toughness. Her background growing up in in Paisley and in Leeds, attending a Comprehensive before carving a career as an economist is as much a story of ‘The British Dream’ as the untried Stephen Crabb’s rags-to-riches tale.

DEFRA is the department with most contact with Brussels so she has more experience at dealing with the EU at first hand and has developed an enviable reputation for getting the British view accepted from an evidence-based perspective, which hasn’t always endeared her to the pressure groups, who prefer to make emotional arguments unsupported by fact. Brexit is going to require experience and guile if we’re to get the best deal and she’s served her apprenticeship here.

She founded the Free Enterprise Group of Conservative MPs and is soundly ideologically on the right, which will play well with the members and, whilst being a Remainer, has been measured in her interventions during the EUDebate and has avoided the vitriolic and divisive mud-slinging indulged in by others. She’s had a good war even if she ended up on the losing side.

She’s a woman and many in the party think that the Conservatives need to change the perception that the party is all about men of a certain age. And the party needs to look forward to 2020 and beyond. That she is from a Northern left-wing household and has made her own way can only help the Party shake-off the Bullingdon labels.

So for me, Liz Truss should be more widely considered. I don’t know whether she’ll put her name forward. But I hope she will. The combination of Northern Grit, Economic Soundness and experience in hand-to-hand fighting in Brussels ticks all the boxes. That she is a deep political thinker is the icing on the cake.

Bunnco – Your Man on the Spot


A big thank you to those who’ve contributed to the post-referendum appeal to help keep PB going

June 25th, 2016

Charles2 (1)

It has become something of a PB tradition after big elections for an appeal to be made for funds to help keep the site going. This year we’ve been fortunate to have had a robust enough technical infrastructure to deal with the massive traffic that was being generated. Alas this requires a lot of effort (thank you to my son Robert) and costs money. Quite a few other sites fell over at times.

If you would like to add your contribution please click the button below. It would be very much appreciated.

A note on the picture This year I’ve had a “significant birthday” and the present from my wife, Jacky, was to commission professional genealogical research into my ancestry.

The picture, of my father’s father, Charles, (standing on the left in the wagon) campaigning in Nelson, Lancashire, was discovered during the process. It also threw up something I had not known before – the family of my mother’s foster mother were Conservative activists in Burnley.

Mike Smithson



Anatomy of the biggest night of political betting ever when in 4 hours the 93% favourite lost

June 25th, 2016

How the drama unfolded


David Herdson looks at the post-referendum purpose of UKIP

June 24th, 2016

UKIP youth

Your next mission, should you choose to accept it … is what?

The fruitcakes have taken over the asylum. UKIP, which well under a decade ago was a fringe party – it polled only 3.1% in the 2010 general election – has achieved the purpose for which it was created. Those critics who laughed at the party’s failure to win more than one seat last year should reflect that electoral success is only a means to an end, and is rarely the only means through which it can be achieved.

Rather like a fleet or army in being, UKIP didn’t need to win a direct battle against its opponents (which was useful because it wasn’t very good at it); it simply had to pose a sufficient threat to them by the fact of its very existence in order to prompt them into altering their course of action to offer UKIP the strategic opportunity they seized on Thursday.

Little more than a year after Douglas Carswell returned as UKIP’s sole MP, the true value of his party’s 3.88m votes is now apparent. So much for the ‘wasted vote’ thesis. Farage stands triumphant while all around him lies the wreckage of the careers of the leaders of great parties, of their policies and – who knows – perhaps yet of one or more of those parties themselves.

Never can the future have looked so bountiful in all directions. But in that excess of opportunity lies UKIP’s dilemma: after having succeeded in what it was created for, what does it do next? (It’s true that the UK is still a member of the EU but despite what will no doubt be delusional proposals from Europhiles for some new settlement on the one hand, and the paranoia of cynics that somehow the elite will backslide on the other, no-one can seriously question that the countdown is now running. The decision has been made).

UKIP’s European mission isn’t necessarily over even with EU withdrawal. There’s still the matter of the European Court of Human Rights, which remains a super-national impingement on British sovereignty, but that’s a lesser prize. The real challenge lies now within British politics.

Or challenges, plural. With all three old parties in various states of confusion and weakness, and with UKIP’s unusually broad membership base ideologically, it can – and must – choose where to position itself for the 2020s now that its former USP is greatly negated, or else it will wither and die.

– Does it try to build on that eclectic base and act as a generic protest party against a distant elite? But then what does it do if it attains power?

– Does it promote ‘freedom’ in more individual forms, harnessing its traditional liberal / libertarian strain, and so targeting the Conservatives and Lib Dems?

– Or does it seek to build on the huge Leave votes from Labour heartland areas where the Conservatives are limited in appeal and Lib Dems discredited, and position itself as the authentic voice of the working class?

These aren’t wholly contradictory strategies but there are clear choices that will have to be made between them, or other options, if their platform is to have some kind of coherence.

Beneath the policy question lies another practical problem: the party’s strength in depth, or lack thereof. As a young party, it remains very bottom-heavy: a lot of voters but few cabinet-capable and fully media-ready politicians, for example. If Britain had PR, UKIP would have won around a hundred seats last time out. Had they done so, could they have nominated enough to do the job sufficiently well without causing embarrassment? The track record from the European Parliament isn’t good.

For the time being, the leadership question answers itself. Despite Farage not being party of the official Leave campaign and despite some off-colour moments from him, this remains his victory more than anyone’s. Within UKIP, his position will be unassailable for some years unless hubris strikes. Yet Farage isn’t necessarily the person best-placed to capitalise on the immense strategic opportunity available – but who could do better even if they’d be allowed to? Opportunity in theory is fine but it takes people to grasp it in practice.

The whole edifice of British politics as we know it is weaker than at any time in the last eighty years. There can be no certainties at all. If the first half of the 2010s were extraordinary, the second has the potential to be utterly revolutionary – but only if those with the chance to make it so can take it. UKIP, unlike the SNP, may well fall short on that score. But then UKIP, unlike the SNP, has already achieved its greatest goal.

David Herdson

p.s. A quick word on Margaret Hodge’s No Confidence motion for the PLP. We don’t even know as yet whether the motion will be accepted, never mind how MPs will vote for it if it is. What we do know is that it carries no validity within Labour’s rulebook, only the power of pressure (though that would be considerable if it’s carried). What Corbyn is proving now, as Blair, Brown and Miliband proved before him, is that a Labour leader determined to go on holds an extraordinarily powerful position, particularly while the internal opposition to him remains leaderless.


Granny storming the barricades

June 24th, 2016

La Liberté guidant le peuple

Richard Nabavi on the post-BREXIT world

You know the drill.  It’s a scenario which has played out many times in countries around the world, sometimes peaceably, sometimes with much violence: the old elite is overthrown, an iconoclastic movement tears down the old structures and grabs power.  Regimes and institutions which looked as though they would last for ever are suddenly overthrown, with breath-taking speed.  What seemed permanent vanishes in front of you.  Old certainties no longer apply: suddenly, a new lot are in power, drawing their support from a popular movement which ignores expert opinion and, in a burst of enormous energy and self-confidence, wants to do things a completely different way.

And make no mistake about it – this is an iconoclastic revolution; not violent like the storming of the Bastille, but extraordinary all the same.  Like all revolutions, it started as a result of legitimate concerns being channelled into an enormous well of popular anger, inchoate and unfocused, but raging against the Other.  Most such revolutions end in tears.  Most end up not with the elite being overthrown, but with the old elite being replaced by a new elite.  Deep-seated problems, and real or perceived grievances, turn out not to be susceptible to quite such easy solutions as the revolutionaries thought.

We shall see how this one turns out, but in one respect this revolution is already quite unlike any other. “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive”, wrote Wordsworth, “But to be young was very heaven!”  And that’s the oddity of this extraordinary event:  revolutions are supposed to be the work of the young:  brash, excitable, over-confident, energetic, thinking they know better than their risk-averse elders, and with little to lose from the overthrow of the status-quo.  But in this case it’s the other way round: according to YouGov, 18-24 year olds voted 75% for the Establishment option of Remain, but in the 65-plus age group, 61% were up there storming the barricades.  The young have had their preferred Establishment shattered on their behalf.  It’s an inversion with profound consequences for the politics of the UK.  I wouldn’t pretend to be able to guess how it will play out.

Richard Nabavi


The first challenge for the BREXIT team – dealing with buyer’s remorse

June 24th, 2016

It seems many voted for LEAVE because they thought it wouldn’t happen


Now Corbyn could be coming under pressure

June 24th, 2016


Could we have 2 main party leadership contests at once?

It has been on the cards for some time that the unexpected winner of Labour’s leadership contest, Mr. Corbyn, last September could face difficulties in the period following the referendum. This is even more so given the outcome.

It was always going to be tricky for someone who has opposed the EU in the past to head a pro-EU party in the referendum. Many say his heart was not in it and his comments on immigration hardly helped in the closing period. He might have the backing of many members but he’s struggled wit the wider LAB voting audience as we’ve seen in poll after poll.

Only on Wednesday Corbyn’s Ipsos MORI ratings amongst party voters dropped to a new low with just half saying they are satisfied with him.

The EURef campaign has put the focus in his campaigning abilities which to many appeared to be lacking. What happens in the PLP in the next few days could be crucial.

I’ve long regarded Corcyn as being like EdM but without the charisma and a whole lot of policy baggage.

It has become something of a PB tradition after big elections for an appeal to be made for funds to help keep the site going. This year we’ve been fortunate to have had a robust enough technical infrastructure to deal with the massive traffic that was being generated. Alas this costs money. Quite a few other sites fell over at times.

If you would like to make a contribution please click the button below. It would be very much appreciated.

Mike Smithson