Friday 31 January 2020

Brexitwatch: the blame game

If you think Brexit is going to be a success, ask yourself this. Why are those responsible for it so desperately looking for people to blame?

The Tories have been doing it ever since the referendum result: the EU (for being 'inflexible'), Remainers (for being 'enemies of the PEOPLE'), foreigners (for being foreigners). Now Labour's in the game too. Having gone along with the Brexit disaster, it's claiming it's all the fault of the LibDems. Even the New European newspaper, for which I have great respect, seems to have fallen for this line. 

So here's the letter I sent to put TNE right (and which, to be fair, they published), and the cartoon that prompted it.

Tuesday 21 January 2020

Further down Memory Lane

Another couple of items from my days with 'ATV Today' in the Midlands in the 1970s. First a report on the court appearance in August 1974 by 7 men charged in connection with IRA bombings. IRA bombs were nothing unusual in the West Midlands around that time. Let's hope Brexit doesn't lead to a revival

Then from July 1977, a report on villages in Leicestershire persecuted by very heavy traffic, who were very keen to see the M69 motorway (pictured) built to siphon the juggernauts away from their streets.

Monday 6 January 2020

Election reflections: wakey, wakey Labour!

In the General Election, the Libdems' vote increased (by 3 times more than the Tories'), while Labour's vote collapsed, so Labour's Andrew Adonis used his New European column to call on the Libdems to disband! The NE has published the letter I sent in reply

Sunday 5 January 2020

Brexitwatch: What's Boris Johnson up to?

Three years ago, I was asking: 'What is Theresa May up to?' (see my blog of 9 October 2016) and never coming to any satisfactory conclusion. Now I'm pondering the same thing about Boris Johnson.

Mrs May would never have won any prizes for honesty, unless her opponent was Boris Johnson. The fact that you can't believe a word Johnson says makes it even more difficult to guess what is his policy (assuming there is one).

Like others, I even speculated that if he won a decent parliamentary majority, Johnson might sell the Tory Brexit fanatic ERG down the river just as he betrayed the DUP, and try to negotiate a less damaging form of Brexit by seeking to stay in the Single Market and the Customs Union.

Unfortunately, his announcement that there will be no extension of the transition phase beyond the end of this year suggests he's still firmly in the fanatic camp. Nobody much seems to think that any deal that does not seriously damage the UK can be done by 31 December 2020.

It's a bizarre move in that it weakens even further the UK's poor negotiating hand. The EU is under no pressure to reach a deal by that date, but now Johnson is, which puts him at the EU's mercy.

So why did he do it? Is the man who was attacking Brexit as madness as recently as 2016 now a fully paid up Brexit fanatic? Was it part of a deal to get Nigel Farage to stand down hundreds of his candidates, without which Johnson would not have won his majority?

Or is it a demonstration, that just as with Theresa May, getting a good deal for the UK is not the priority, and that his actions are posturing, designed instead to curry favour with those at home he believes he needs to keep him in power?

Saturday 4 January 2020

Memory lane - The days I interviewed Margaret Thatcher

During my time as a television reporter at ATV Today in the Midlands (1973-77) I interviewed Margaret Thatcher a few times. Of course, in those days, she was leader of the opposition before she became prime minister.

She was also quite a nervous and often reluctant interviewee. This is perhaps the most interesting of our encounters. As I doorstepped her during campaigning for the Walsall North by-election in 1976, Mrs Thatcher attacked the Labour government for allowing unemployment to reach 1.4 million. Fun fact: during her Conservative government, unemployment went over 3 million.

The previous year I caught up with her as she toured the Royal Crown Derby factory in Derby, to get her reaction to the Labour government's plan to rescue troubled car manufacturer British Leyland.