The appeal of “A return to normalcy”.

I’ve been thinking a lot in the last two days about President Warren Harding’s much mocked call for “A return to normalcy” back in the 1920s….

The world is topsy turvy, conventional wisdom might as well be reading entrails, and nobody knows what the feck is going on, why, or where it is going. I write this blog now mainly as an exercise in recording just how utterly wrong I am about stuff.

But I also find writing about stuff therapeutic, and helpful in terms of organising my thoughts so here goes.

My bold prediction is that the TIG isn’t going to work or go anywhere. Though I say that with very little in the way of conviction. Given the extent to which the world is in flux, and the degree to which a combination of Brexit and Trump is tearing up the pre-existing order, we could well be at one of those rare moments in British politics where things realign.

Even though I don’t think it is going to happen, if the “Tiggers” do really shake up the apple cart I think that a “return to normalcy” will be part of how and why they will do it.

Whatever your options on the correctness or otherwise of the programs; it is undeniable that the respective radical and revolutionary wings of both the Labour and Conservative parties have captured the leadership and agendas of their parties.

They offer starkly different views of the revolutionary utopias that they espouse. But the leadership, and prevailing culture of both parties is either driven by, or in hock to, it’s most radical elements.

Whatever happens over Brexit the ERG are in the driving seat of the Tory party; and Corbyn and Momentum are unassailably in control of the Labour party.

I have argued for a long time that the as things were in our established political consensus until recently that the Labour right, and the Tory left, had more in common with one another than they did with the furthest extreme wings of their own parties politically.

That isn’t to say there are not big differences, there are, even if the hard left and hard right often mistakenly don’t see any political differences in those who are closer to what used to be called the “centre”. These differences will seem quite profound when the Labour Right, and the Tory Modernising Wets were in the majority and in control of their respective parties.

But right now, for quite a lot of people who sit there, clearly there are a fair amount wondering if something new and different might suit them much more.  That the differences that they have are significantly less pronounced than the differences they have with those from the more revolutionary wings of their parties. Thus far we’ve had 11 MPs, it seems inconceivable to me that there now will not be more, and potentially hundreds of Councillors once a new party is formed.

The real question though will be is there any kind of appeal that this group could make to voters that might cut through? Personally I doubt it, but if there is I suspect “Normalcy” will come into it.

The truth is most voters whatever “tribal” allegiance they have tend to be much less radical and revolutionary than activists within parties. A lot of voters, left, centre and right are by nature and instinct “Small c conservative”. Whilst some of us dream of major change and fundamental realignments of society and economy; a large proportion of the electorate want things to be back to normal but for them a little better off.

A new party that based its appeal on being a breath of fresh air, that was going to bring Britain back to normality, the way things were before it all started going crazy. That might well resonate with quite a lot of people even if they don’t agree with the entirety of the political platform. A broadly socially liberal, pro enterprise, remain platform from a party not tarnished with having been the Lib Dems in Government, might find a reasonable amount of appeal to people who think “A plague on both your houses” in respect of Labour and the Tories.

This could become especially relevant if a bad Brexit happens in which I think it is quite likely a very large part of the electorate (approximately 48.1%) may well feel profoundly let down by both Labour and the Conservatives.

Ultimately I don’t think this will happen. For one thing I suspect that politics is in such flex it will probably implode sooner rather than later quite probably before the Tiggers have established a party machinery. Secondly I suspect they will find it very hard to agree on a policy platform that both sets of people they are hoping to appeal to can agree on.

And mostly because for good or for ill, there seems to be a genuine desire for radical change in British politics. I don’t know if that will be Corbyn’s vision or Reess-Mogg’s vision. But I expect one of those competing revolutions to get there in the end.

But I wouldn’t underestimate the small c conservatism of Britain. Nor what I think is likely for a big desire that things should “Return to normalcy”.

I think things worked out pretty well though after the 1920s right? Right?


20. February 2019 by Ralph Ferrett
Categories: Activism | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Whyte vs Chisora 2

Whyte Chisora

For me there is always a bit of trepidation when settling down to watch a hotly anticipated rematch in boxing. For every Barrera vs Morales 2 or Gatti v Ward (I didn’t really get to watch the 4 Kings when they happened so I’ll stick with what I know!) there are 10 disappointments where the boxers know each other better and we get a much more cagey affair.

So I was pleased that I thought it was a really good fight. Not sure it quite lived up to the excitement of the first (too big of an ask?) but it was damn exciting all the same, and I think the boxing was at a much higher standard.

It just goes to show how subjective the fight game is, mind. In the first fight I would have been happy with any result on the cards. A win either way or draw would all have been, I think, hard to argue with.

In this one though? I was shocked to hear two judges had Chisora up at the end of the 10th, as I had Whyte winning comfortably. Whilst Chisora was marauding forward and throwing lots of punches I didn’t think he was landing much cleanly and only seldom hurting Whyte. Lots landing on arms, elbows, chest and shoulders.

I thought Whyte was doing much the better work on the back foot with clean accurate and hard punches and on at least 4 or 5 occasions hurt Chisora visibly. I thought his defence was good (best I have seen from him) and his aggression controlled. I had it 6 -3 (with one drawn) at the end of the 10th and that is before the first point deduction was taken out.

Ho hum I suppose we all like different stuff in boxing. I think Whyte was clearly winning the 11th and had the KayOh not happened I suspect he’d have got the nod on the scorecards. I am assuming with the point deduction it would have been a 10 -8 Whyte round in the 11th and he was coming on stronger.

I must say though I thought the ref was fussy. He had warned Chisora several times, and I guess if you are getting warned but you don’t change, this is what happens. But I didn’t think the “low blow” was that low and I think the first point deduction was harsh. Not sure Dereck can complain about the elbow though, that was braindead when the ref already has the hump with you. Whyte wasn’t shy of the rough stuff either and it surprised me that he didn’t also get at least warned by the ref.

But luckily for everyone apart from Chisora and his team, Whyte was able to make the scorecards irrelevant. It was a really lovely finish. I liked very much how he feinted with his right to set up such a lovely left hook. Gave us one of the knock outs of the year (seeing how Fury managed to undertaker himself up from what would have otherwise won!).

I think Whyte has for me shown himself to be the “best of the rest” in the heavyweight division. His recent resume eclipses Ortiz, Miller and Parker so I really think he deserves his shot now.

I can’t see how the Joshua vs Wilder fight is going to happen in April; personally would love to see Whyte get a rematch against AJ. I understand from a marketing point of view AJ fighting Miller in America (and as I promotor I think that would probably be the smart move of AJ in the medium term) but from a UK fight fan perspective if AJ can’t get one of the big two then he ought to take Whyte.

AJ may be fun to watch in the ring but please can we never have AJ as a co-commentator again? He was the Michael Owen of boxing, boring platitudes delivered in a dull way, easily the worst bit of an otherwise fine night of boxing.

Now I’m off to catch up on the other fight last night; which I understand was a humdinger. Such a shame that the awful politics of the sport meant we all had to choose. Sounds like everyone lost as two excellent boxing cards got split.


23. December 2018 by Ralph Ferrett
Categories: Sport | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Brexit backlash and a People’s Vote

Can’t exactly be a secret to anyone who reads this blog, follows me on social meeja, or has met me for more than about 60 seconds at any point in the last 3 years that I’m pretty obsessed with what a disaster I believe Brexit to be, and very much desire that it doesn’t happen.

Guilty as charged yer honour.

One argument that frequently gets thrown at me in these when talking about these issues is that if Brexit is to be stopped it will be damaging. People will feel betrayed. That their faith in our system, and confidence in our politics will be shaken. That they are not listened too.

And you know what? I agree. 100% this is going to be the case. But…. at the same time though, is going to happen anyway in any eventuality.

I think we all have to accept that there are going to be serious ramifications for politics, for the country, and for our political discourse and public life whatever happens.

Here is why; if Brexit does now occur; it isn’t going to be the Brexit anyone was promised or were expecting. 16 Million people voted remain; and whilst they voted with wildly varying degrees of enthusiasm they were voting for a known quantity.

This isn’t true of leave. 17 million people voted leave, and they probably voted for not far off 17 million different visions of what that meant, what they wanted, what they expected to happen.

None of them voted for a Brexit that looked anything like what is actually on offer. May’s deal, or a disastrous “No Deal” Brexit were just not talked about by any Leave campaigner, or and Leave voters I knew.

It was all “Sun lit uplands” “Easiest Deal in History” “No Downside just considerable upsides” “My position on cake is to eat it and have it” (All actual quotes by leading Brexiteers BTW…..)

But now even it’s biggest adherents now accept that jobs will be lost, people will be poorer, tax take will need to increase and services will be cut. They accept that any benefits won’t be felt for 10, 20, 50 even 100 years. We are now told that this is in the name of some higher good, some true purpose. Sovereignty, Control of Borders, International Free trade; choose your own poison. I hear people now saying all the time that they don’t mind being poorer, losing jobs, we just need to get out.

People weren’t promised that in 2016; that wasn’t the conversation then. Most people don’t follow the issue obsessively or in detail like us policy wonks. They have been lied to that Brexit was some simple process that could happen easily and quickly with no consequences.

Those people who voted in some indistinct sense to kick out at a rigged unfair system and to send a message and make their lives better in some way (I suspect quite a lot of people who aren’t political nerks who voted Brexit did so like this) are going to be hugely disappointed when the reality of what any Brexit actually means kicks in compared to what they were promised. People are going to be seriously pissed. In any form of Brexit.

The right, the Brexit adherents and true believers, are going to cry betrayal whatever happens (why do you think they all quit and ran away when the reality of the compromises happened?). Whatever form of Brexit actually happens is going to be attacked as an establishment stitch up that it wasn’t “Done Properly”; that it wasn’t done by people with backbone who believed in it.

They were always going to do that, because the promises they made weren’t real and could never happen. They prefer the grievance to the solution. None of the real issues facing ordinary people in our country are either caused, or exacerbated by our membership of the European Union. It is someone elses cause (rich disaster capitalists) and they have performed the most amazing three card trick to persuade so many people that leaving the EU will fix their problems.

And here is what will happen in any form of Brexit people are going to be disappointed when it doesn’t deliver what they expected.

People who expected to get richer form Brexit will be disappointed (unless they are a wealthy disaster capitalist of NHS privatiser).

People who expected to stop hearing foreign voices, or brown faces, will be disappointed.

People who expected the NHS to get magically funded better will be disappointed.

People who expect more a better jobs will be disappointed.

People who expect little people to be listened to more will be disappointed.

People who expect us to become a buccaneering 19th century sea trading empire dominating the world will be disappointed.

People who think this will be all over in March and “done” will be disappointed

All of that is going to happen in any Brexit. Those who hate the left, hate the working poor, hate organised Labour were always going to use the aftermath of any Brexit, or any non Brexit to seek to cause division and undermine our values.

The damage to trust in our system, out democracy, is going to happen anyway because Brexit won’t really deliver any of what people hope or expect it to deliver. When people find out they didn’t get what they voted for they will feel cheated anyway. Betrayed anyway. Angry anyway.

In those scenarios though we are going to be in a much worse position to deal with it. It is often said, and very plausibly, that Brexit was as much the end result and product of the financial crisis and 10 years of austerity as it was a decision about peoples feelings on Europe. People who felt insecure, unlisted too, poorer and weaker kicked out in 2016.

Something that doesn’t stop any of that, but actually makes it worse, isn’t going to solve those issues. It is going to make them worse.

There are no good solutions to our currently predicament. Only least bad options. But if your opposition to a new referendum or just stopping Brexit is you fear a backlash I’ve got news for you that backlash and all the negativity is coming either way.


14. December 2018 by Ralph Ferrett
Categories: Activism | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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