Sunday 19 March 2023

Systemically Important

78 per cent of the Swiss National Bank is owned by Swiss public entities. Yet look how much currency it is prepared to issue to enable the largely American-owned UBS to buy Credit Suisse from assorted Saudis, Qataris and Americans; some of those last, like the Norges Bank that is the Norwegian State, are significant shareholders in both.

Then contrast that with the failure of British State to do anything at all to prevent the creeping, and soon to be accelerating, demutualisation of the John Lewis Partnership. That is now chaired by Dame Sharon White, who is hardly a person lacking in connections inside His Majesty's Treasury. It will effectively have appointed her. We see why.

But Dan Hodges has the measure of Rachel Reeves. Ahead of the next General Election, Jeremy Hunt should challenge her to a televised debate. John McDonnell could then point out that neither Philip Hammond nor Sajid Javid had ever dared do that to him.

Still, when I say that there is going to be a hung Parliament, then you can take that to the bank. I spent the 2005 Parliament saying that it was psephologically impossible for the Heir to Blair's Conservative Party to win an overall majority. I predicted a hung Parliament on the day that the 2017 General Election was called, and I stuck to that, entirely alone, all the way up to the publication of the exit poll eight long weeks later. And on the day that Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister, I predicted that a General Election between him and Keir Starmer would result in a hung Parliament.

The opinion polls bear no resemblance to real votes cast, and even the Labour poll lead has halved since Sunak took over. Halved. The Labour vote has gone through the floor at all but one by-election since Starmer became Leader, with one of those recording Labour's lowest ever share of the vote. Council seats that were held or won under Corbyn have fallen like sandcastles, taking control of major local authorities with them. That is the bread and butter of the party's right wing, who are not otherwise the most employable of people.

With nearly two years still to go until the next General Election, Starmer's personal rating is negative not only nationally, but in every region apart from London, and it is still in decline. Starmer's dishonesty is becoming a story. He lied to his party members to get their votes, so he would lie to anyone else to get their votes. We are heading for a hung Parliament. To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power. Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. There does, however, need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not.