We help companies affected by political change. To access our political and commercial intelligence service, email GUIDE’s Chief Executive on greig@theguideconsultancy.com

Labour is becoming desperate… and nasty

Over the weekend the Guardian attacked UKIP’s leader and Stoke candidate Paul Nuttall over the Hillsborough disaster. Aside from the Guardian’s unhealthy link to Jeremy Corbyn’s right hand man, Seamus Milne, and the very thin grounds for the story, the full page spread points to both Labour’s huge worries about Stoke opening the floodgates for UKIP in the North and to the Opposition’s continued failure to find a positive message to appeal to swing voters.

Another Brexit vote is the last thing Labour needs

Labour has heralded the Government’s “huge concession” of allowing MPs to vote on the draft Brexit deal before it goes to the European Parliament for ratification. Aside from the fact it wasn’t “huge” at all, this is the last thing Labour needs. Another substantive vote on Brexit, occurring that much closer to the planned 2020 General Election, would simply remind voters of Labour’s divisions over Europe and give UKIP a boost in Labour-held seats before polling day.

LibDem strategy document: Brexit is a “revenue opportunity” and donors have “expectations” of how money will be spent

GUIDE has been given a LibDem strategy document that describes Brexit as a “revenue opportunity” and says big donors have “expectations” for how the party will spend their money.

The document, written by LibDem Chief Executive Tim Gordon, lists the LibDems’ financial difficulties, with “poor conference results” set to continue and the LibDem 2017 conference expected to “break-even at best”. Gordon also says “standing order decay continues” for membership subscriptions and those returns will be “worse than [the] last 4 years”.

In a second document, LibDem finance manager Tope Famaks says the party is facing rising costs from their imported Nationbuilder and Connect campaigning tools, which have become more expensive due to exchange rate changes.

The party plans to use the “revenue opportunities” of “our European positioning” and negotiate a new “right to sub-let [a] portion of the GGS [Great George Street]” headquarters with its landlord.

Gordon says the LibDems can secure “one-off, often unpredictable but transformative donations” and the “post-BREXIT political situation has [the] potential to strengthen our income streams”. Indeed, it seems this is already happening and “by-elections have helped us mobilise donors, many inspired by our European positioning”. There is an “expectation from [our] key donor that the money will be spent on driving momentum in [the] year ahead”. A third document points to the success of this fundraising, as the LibDems expected to raise £100k in campaign funds last year, but actually secured more than £2.3m of donations.

The documents raise three important questions:

1/ Do the LibDems have a financial incentive to obstruct the Brexit process?

2/ To what extent is LibDem Brexit policy (e.g. their call for a second referendum) influenced by the potential to raise future funds for the party?

3/ Does the LibDem plan to secure funds and national support after their 2015 collapse rely on prolonging the Brexit debate?

For comment and further details, please contact GUIDE’s Chief Executive on greig@theguideconsultancy.com

Future of the EU in Trump's hands?

Two sides will take part in Brexit talks, so a parochial focus on things this side of the Channel risks missing key issues. For example, the current Greek bailout (of €86bn) is due to end next year and euro finance ministers are reviewing the deal. High on the list of concerns are doubts about whether the US-based International Monetary Fund will support another bailout – doubts compounded by President Trump’s belief that the eurozone is failing anyway and another package would be throwing good money after bad. Without the IMF, Germany would have to foot more of the bill, which makes for a pretty unattractive pitch in an election year. At the same time, the ECB has put the frighteners on other countries (like Italy) that might be considering a euro-exit, only confirming they see it as a realistic prospect. The UK may end up feeling it got out of the EU just in time, but big problems on the continent are in no one’s interest – and our negotiating partners will be looking for help in avoiding them.

Whitehall turf war

Civil Service jockeying continues for power over the UK’s Brexit preparations. The MoD, for instance, has made a play of offering its expertise to DExEU, while also claiming other departments, like DEFRA, have simply got too much on already to take a bigger role. Coming on top of what was an institutional leaning to Remain and former mandarins now openly criticising Government policy, the Civil Service needs to change tack quickly to rebuild the most effective working relationships with Ministers.  

Brexit and workers' rights

In its drive to counter fears of stripping back workers’ rights post-Brexit, the Government has just announced it is “determined to tackle pregnancy and maternity discrimination” and said it will “consider” telling courts to extend the time limit for wronged mothers to bring a tribunal against their employer. Dramatic change to the current law seems unlikely, but the move is further evidence that the Government will move quickly to address any worries that could give MPs or Peers a rod to beat them with.

Killer Corbyn

I have a new article up on Labour Uncut. The gist of the piece is that by facilitating Labour MPs’ resignations, holding fire on Jeremy Corybn, and having a clear position on Brexit, the Government is giving Labour enough rope to hang itself - and the Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition seems only too happy to pick up the noose. If you’re a political boffin and want to read or comment on the article this lunchtime, you can find it here: http://labour-uncut.co.uk/ 

Briefly on Brexit

I won’t add too much to the plethora of Brexit news here. One thing that may have been missed, though, is the Government’s hopes to secure a final Brexit deal within the next two years and then apply its outcomes at various stages after that (this is subtly different to securing a transition ‘deal’ and is more like offering UK industries transition ‘assistance’). This fits in with our take that the Industrial Strategy is really one and the same thing as planning for Brexit. If you would like our detailed Brexit analysis and predictions, we are sharing a pro bono presentation with contacts and clients, so please get in touch if you’d like to see the slides.

Soft Brexit equals recession

Our modern economy is based on consumer confidence. This partly explains why the UK has prospered since June, “despite Brexit” – the majority of consumers voted for Brexit, so by definition, the majority of them are confident the decision was the right one and the prospect of leaving the EU does not make them nervous enough to change their spending habits. In turn, contrary to some accepted wisdom, a ‘soft’ Brexit would pose a bigger short term financial risk than ‘hard’ Brexit – if consumers think their prescription for the UK’s politics and economics is being ignored, they are likely to be less confident about the future and reduce their spending accordingly.

2017 General Election

Anyone who saw Jeremy Corbyn on the Marr show on Sunday was reminded the longer he stays in post, the worse things get for Labour. Paradoxically, this makes an early election more, not less likely: while the Tories would love Corbyn to hang on to 2020 and virtually guarantee them a stomping majority, senior figures on the hard left (McCluskey, Abbott, Livingstone, etc) have hinted at a time limit for Corbyn to up his game – and when he doesn’t, his replacement could give the Conservatives a more substantial headache.

To avoid that, officials in Number 10 are taking daily advice from former party chairmen on what would be needed to run a General Election campaign this year. Leave has been cancelled for some senior staff around a possible poll date in May if the Government needs a mandate to overrule opposition in the Commons and Lords. 


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