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Business as Usual

The big political news of the week (if only for those on this side of the Atlantic who find party politics interesting) is that Jeremy Corbyn made a decent speech.

Obviously he had been coached.  His delivery at the annual Labour Party conference was crisp, his punch-lines well-timed.  There was even an occasional hint of passion. He even trumped you know who – which admittedly does not take much doing – and duly received a standing ovation, although it has to be said that if he had recited nursery rhymes in Urdu the party faithful would have been on their feet cheering.  Some opponents might say that he actually was reciting nursery rhymes.

Labour stalwarts seem to think that Theresa May will call a general election next year, and curiously many of them look forward to the prospect.  They should not.  Labour would lose any election held in the next two or three years, and by a wide margin, even if the party were to ‘unite’ (the buzzword of the week).  Unity may be a less remote possibility than it would have seemed a week ago, before Corbyn’s re-election, but only marginally so.  There is true unity and the kind that political parties put on for show while the plotting and counter-plotting continue behind the scenes.  Labour falls into the latter category.

The Conservatives, meanwhile, have gone quiet, as has the new government.  Mrs May has gone to ground.  The new chancellor is presumably busy beavering away on his first autumn budget statement.  Everyone else is probably preoccupied trying to work out what Brexit really means.  On that point, if no others, the Conservatives could uses a little unity.  Even the Brexit champions seem bemused by the definitional challenge.  May’s clarion call -‘Brexit Means Brexit’ – is starting to ring hollow in the party’s right-wing circles.

Across the pond, Trump is proclaiming that he won Tuesday’s debate with Clinton – well, he would wouldn’t he – and that he would have done so even more convincingly if a) his microphone had been working properly; b) the moderator had asked the right questions; and c) he had not deliberately gone easy on his opponent (supposedly because her daughter was in the audience).

The Donald could use a little coaching himself.  His advisors could start by telling him to refrain from throwaway lines unlikely to endear him even to his most ardent blue-collar fans.  In their eyes, paying no income tax does not make him smart, it makes him crooked – or at best too clever by half.  Likewise “that’s business”, another of his off-the-cuff remarks, this one made in response to criticism that his company exploited market conditions which hurt the very constituents he wishes to court.

The man can’t help himself, apparently, which must drive his advisors to distraction.   I think they had better get used to being distracted – or finish up as demented as their client.

The financial markets seem to be taking the election uncertainties in stride.  What bothers them more is the price of oil (which they are pleased to note is rising at present); the Chinese economy; the health and safety of Deutsche Bank, Germany’s flagship financial institution; and whether the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates before the end of the year.  For one reason or another all these potentially market-busting threats are probably under control.

And so we beat on, boats against the current ….. And all too quiet it all seems for this writer’s peace of mind.

Terrorists or American opinion polls might change all that, but the world at present seems strangely inured to fear and disorder.

History tells us it won’t last long.

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