Friday, 30 September 2016

How will Tory moderates join with Labour moderates? When?

In July there was talk of disaffected moderates in the Labour party teaming up with counterparts in  the Tories.  The article on the right was published in the Observer

In September, the Labour conference showed how deep the divisions have become in the party after the re-election of Jeremy Corbyn.  Moderate Labour MPs are concerned the party will never return to power in Westminster. On a personal level, many fear they will be de-selected. The pressure for the party to split is immense.  How can this pressure be released?

Pressures in the Tories are somewhat different, but there is a distinct gulf between moderates and the right. Theresa May is pandering more to the right than David Cameron on topics such as grammar schools. And of course Brexit. Many Tory MPs disagree.  Will we see pressure to split in the forthcoming Tory conference?


The key issue is that few MPs would be prepared to move to a new moderate party unless it was electable. That requires size. That would require the sort of re-alignment where the moderates on the left join with the moderates on the right, under the common banner of wishing to stay in the EU:


Maybe steps are already being taken. But a political party takes some weeks to register. The Just Political Party is already registered as a centrist / centre-right party and ready to go. So the moderates can join together anytime. Now?

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Will Brexit be Endo or Exo?

We all know that when wood burns, it gives off energy. We also know that it only does this if we supply some energy first, using some form of lighter. This is represented by the diagram on the right. The line rises as we add the lighter's energy, and then we lose it in heat to fall to a lower energy state. This is called an exothermic reaction, abbreviated EXO.

An endothermic reaction on the left is similar, in that energy has to be added to make the change take place,. But the products absorb energy and end up at a higher energy level. Baking a loaf or cooking an egg are two examples of ENDO.


Brexit is similar:
  1. Energy needs to be invested to make the transition. We need to re-negotiate the UK's position with the EU and the rest of the world, change the UK's laws, and businesses need to change their business practices.  The effort and cost for that transition is the hump on the graphs.
  2. The end-result can either be 
    • To reach a higher plane (ENDO), having gained from the transition, or 
    • To fall to a lower plane (EXO), having lost from the transition. 


People like Douglas Carswell in UKIP, who has long advocated leaving the EU, suggest it is easy to make the transition. In which case the investment would be relatively modest, represented by a small hump on the graph.

But increasingly it appears that the transition will require a massive amount of effort, over a significant period of time:
  •  All the UK Acts and Statutory Instruments need to be reviewed and updated, a monumental task. 
  • If Brexit is to involve moving to World Trade Organisation rules, then all the quantities allowed for the EU will need to be allocated between the UK and the rest of the EU for each relevant product.
  • There's much else besides, not just in Govenement circles but also in every business affected.

It could take years and involve masses of people. People who can't be doing anything else constructive, so that loss is an additional hidden or "opportunity cost". Indeed, is there enough skilled people available?  A lack of skills risks a mess, that would also carry a cost to everyone affected.


Let's nonetheless assume that the investment is feasible in reasonable timescales.

Clearly this effort and cost will only be justified if the transition is an ENDO change, moving to a higher plane. Not only that, but it would need to be to a significantly higher plane, taking into account pros and cons.  The bigger the transition investment, the higher that plane will need to be to justify that investment.

An EXO change, falling to a lower level, is clearly ridiculous.


The Government needs to decide what form of Brexit it will aim for in negotiations with the EU. For example, will it be a 'Hard' (or 'Clean') Brexit  that involves leaving the Single Market and Customs Union? ,

We can then consider a number of aspects as to whether they are ENDO or EXO, and how big the rise or fall is relative to the transition investment for that aspect. Aspects include:
  1. Economy, including affects on the City and inward investment,
  2. Immigration/Emigration (versus affect on Brits living/working/travelling in EU)
  3. External borders, especially between Eire and Northern Ireland 
  4. Control of legislation (versus lack of infleunce in Europe)
For each aspect, a graph like those above can be created showing the investment required, and how big is the net projected ENDO or EXO affect.  A summary graph can then be created as the sum of the individual aspects.

Certainly it is clear that the transition investment is only worthwhile if the preferred form of Brexit is strongly ENDO overall, with a reasonable and feasible transition investment.

The overall picture then needs to be debated in Parliament, covering both the end-result and the transition. Assuming the agreed form of Brexit is sensible, which was not part of the first referendum, there should then be a second referendum on the proposal before the Article 50 button is pressed.

The first referendum result was a wish to leave the EU. But surely the British people would not expect this to happen at all costs?

Monday, 26 September 2016

Cake Brexit or Hard Brexit?

As written to the Financial Times today in response to their headline article:


Your lead article "City fears Number 10 is shifting towards a hard exit from EU" (26
September) concludes with "There has to be a balance between the rational and the
political. It can't just be politics".

Indeed. There seems to be very little in terms of realism and pragmatism.

After all the British public were sold a Cake Brexit - having your cake and eating it -
and voted accordingly. But a Cake Brexit is clearly not on the cards. Only a Hard or
Soft Brexit is being discussed, with many saying a Soft Brexit is not feasible. Hence
your headline.

The Labour party have decided not to debate Brexit at their party conference.
It seems Theresa May is also doing all she can to suppress public debate.

If we're not careful we'll drift into a Hard Brexit for which the public didn't actually
vote.  What will happen when the public cottons on? Brexit riots? Maybe not, but
the government will lose support if they are not open and honest about what Brexit
will mean. 

If it does make sense, we can go ahead with enthusiasm. But if the
proposed form of Brexit doesn't make sense, people need a final chance to stop it
before the Article 50 button is pressed.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Could it happen? Should it happen?


The Labour party is a coalition between the left-wing Momentum group and the centre-left Progress.  The tensions between them have become unbearable after the re-election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader .

The Conservatives is similarly a coalition between the right and the centre-right. The centre-right are against Brexit, grammar schools and other right-wing policies that were not in the 2015 Conservative manifesto. Bitter divisions are expected to surface at the Tory conference shortly.

So the following could happen to the main national parties, creating a new moderate centrist party with sufficient backing to form a government:


  • Tory moderates on the centre right no longer want to be in coalition with the right, but do not want to split off into obscurity.  A new coalition is required.  The 2010 coalition showed in principle that a centre-right Conservative party could govern in coalition with the centre-left, in the form of the LibDems  
  • But a merger between centre-right Tories and LibDems is not on the cards.
  • The Labour party needs to split into two, as described above. The moderates in the centre-left have a choice of joining the LibDems or the Tories. But many wouldn't want to do either. Better to join a new moderate centrist party with sufficient size to form a government. 
  • In terms of electability, the electorate regard themselves primarily as moderates in the centre. A new moderate centrist party would therefore have policies that would appeal directly to the majority of the electorate.  This graph is based on data from a ComRes survey in late 2014, but also reflects other studies:


It is an odd aspect of UK politics that although the vast majority of voters are moderates in the centre or centre-right, there is no dedicated centre-right party.  "New Labour" and Cameron's Tories filled that void.

It is about time a new party was in place to better serve the electorate.  All too often voters have had to vote AGAINST the party they liked least.  This shouldn't be necessary.  You should be able to vote FOR a party that represents your values and wishes.


Starting a new party under the 'First Past the Post' system is not a trivial matter.

The Social Democrats were formed by four prominent Labour MPs.  But the party didn't have a sufficient breadth of support. It had to merge with the Liberal Democrats that broadly occupied the same political space.

UKIP took off when Conservative MP Douglas Carswell had sufficient personal support to be re-elected for his new party.  Mark Reckless then tried the same trick in Rochester, but only just beat a new Tory candidate in the by-election. No other Tory MP was brave enough to follow suit. Quite right.  Reckless lost the subsequent general election to the same Tory candidate.

Far better for the new party to start under four or more key MPs who believe they can be re-elected in by-elections.


The new constituency boundaries for 2018, when MP numbers will reduce from 650 to 600, will potentially provide the opportunity. Some moderate MPs whose constituency is changing may well find themselves not selected by the Labour or Tory parties.  They will need a new party home.

But before then there is the distinct possibility of a general election  in 2017.  Theresa May's majority is slender, and it may be too tempting to use Labour's weakness go for a larger majority. That majority needs to be stopped.  There needs to be moderate challengers.  

Indeed a series of by-elections by those opposed to new Tory policy, including those opposed to Brexit, could make a general election a necessity if enough seats are taken from the Tories to eliminate their majority.

All is possible.


This is not a theoretical idea.  This was apparently being floated in the tearooms of Westminster in July when this article was published in the Observer

Now moderate Labour and Conservative MPs need to be talking urgently about forming a new party that better represents their views, and those of most voters.

Perhaps you would like to suggest by commenting below who you think could lead the formation  of this new party?

And who would fund it? Lots of small donations? Or who might provide significant funds? Both presumably.

Let's make it happen!

Friday, 23 September 2016

How will the UK's Political Parties Realign?

Friday 23 September 2016 (updated for Corbyn win Saturday 24th)


Let's look at the main parties in simplistic but nonetheless representative terms from left to right in political views:
Let's then look at how voters rate themselves on the left-right spectrum. This is based on data collected by ComRes in late 2014, consistent with many other surveys:

What do we notice?
  1. There is no specialist party serving the centre right of the true centre
  2. Most voters regard themselves as centrist, with a slight bias to the right. 
  3. So there is no party directly and solely represents the vast majority of voters

As a result the last few general elections have been a battle between Labour and Conservatives to capture that centre ground. 


For Labour, Jeremy Corbyn has been confirmed as leader.  Various of Labour's centrist MPs have said they will not serve in his Shadow Cabinet.

The pressure for Labour to split between two groups who do not share the same political philosophy is immense  The left "Momentum" group, broadly supporting Corbyn, and the centrist "Progress" group, who typically support Tony Blair's former policies, are not compatible.  This coalition has to end. Labour must split.

For the Conservatives, they are still divided over Europe.  Theresa May on becoming Prime Minister did not re-appoint various centrist MPs onto the Cabinet.  One of these, George Osborne the former Chancellor, has just made a speech in Chicago to say that “Brexit won a majority. Hard Brexit did not."  This is in response to ideas gaining ground that the UK should not only leave the European Union, but also the single market and customs union, which are broader by including non-EU members.

The form of Brexit the Mrs May's government will attempt to negotiate is still totally unclear. Support for each type of Brexit, and indeed staying in the European Union, is also putting immense strain on the Conservative party.  Before the June Brexit vote, there were more Conservative MPs campaigning to remain in the EU than to leave. Whilst some now back Brexit, there are still many who believe that the UK should remain in the EU. 

The pro-EU and generally centrist MPs and members could split from the anti-EU and generally right-wing people.  It's then a possibility that the right wingers merge with UKIP.



If the Labour or Conservative parties each split in two, the resulting parts would not be big enough to win enough Westminster seats to form a government.  Some form of alternative coalition is necessary.

It's a logical option for centre-left Labour MPs and members to join the LibDems.  But there are a number of reasons why this would be attractive to some, but unattractive to others.  And certainly few would be prepared to join a party called the Conservatives.

Then what should the Conservative centre-right do? To form a government there needs to be a critical mass of MPs and members. It would make sense to align with the centre-left, to form a new centrist coalition party with perhaps a slight centre-right bias.

Centrist Labour MPs and members have two choices if they cannot tolerate Momentum Labour:
  1. Join the LibDems
  2. Join the new Centrist party

Indeed this sort of idea was apparently being floated in the tearooms of Westminster in July when this article was published in the Observer:  Now centrist Labour and Conservative MPs need to be talking urgently about forming a new party that better represents their views, and those of most voters.

The Labour and Conservative conferences are about to take place,  The divisions in both parties are expected to dominate proceedings.

So the question is how is this new centrist party going to be formed?  Which MPs will take the initiative?

The Just Political Party has been formed to fill this role, but there could be other options. Let's see!

Brexit means what?

As published in the Financial Times 13 September 2016:


Philip Stephens makes some excellent points in "Britain is falling into denial about Brexit" (9 September).

But there's one more point to add about immigration. High levels of immigration in recent years have been because of the UK economy performing better than much of the EU and the world. Actual jobs and the perception of extra jobs.

Historically this doesn't last. Fears of Brexit are already threatening to turn the net immigration/emigration flow around.

Nobody knows what Prime Minister Theresa May means by "Brexit means Brexit".  I can tell her.
"Brexit means Brain Drain".


Since writing this letter, I have been talking further to the young folk working in hotels and coffee bars. The vast majority are European. One in particular came over for her gap halfyear, before the Brexit vote.  She's due to go back shortly. But if she was planning to come over now, she would go elsewhere in the EU. So I suspect would the next person who mght have replaced her.

So when I say Brain Drain, I don't just mean professional medics. I mean people in all walks of life. The hospitatiliy industry in particular looks like it could shortly really struggle to staff its premises and events.

For those who voted for Brexit to fix an immigration problem, my concern is that it is a long-term solution to a short-term problem. It is therefore the wrong solution.

As for those people wanting to restore democratic control to the UK legislature, it beggars beleief that future Brexit steps should not be subject to parliamentary approval. This is especially as the Referendum question did not specify the form of exit..