Election thoughts

Time for a serious general election post. I’m not exactly enamoured by any party at the moment. I’ll go through them one by one.

The Lib Dems are my most natural party fit but they’ve got tunnel vision in that they’re focusing so narrowly on brexit. I don’t think Tim Farron is doing a particularly good job overall. I think he goes too much for superficial criticisms of the government without convincingly pushing what he’d do better. His heart’s in the right place, but he’s not really hitting the right note. Dare I say it that in the alternate universe where Farron was leader during the coalition and Clegg became leader in 2015, I think they’re doing a lot better.

I’m pretty much bored of brexit. My opinion is exactly the same as it was on the morning of the 24th June. I think it’s a stupid idea and I think most of the people who voted for it are a bit thick, but I also don’t expect it to affect me much or at all. I expect the effects to be experienced primarily by the people who did vote for it. Some people who didn’t will be collateral damage, and that’s unfortunate, but nobody is changing their minds and I personally have become fatigued of arguing it. At the moment I am of the opinion that the battle is lost and we might as well let brexiteers enjoy their pyrrhic victory and let things get worse, at which point we can argue that rejoining the single market will allow them to get better. I don’t foresee us rejoining the EU, nor do I think that’s a big loss. The single market, however, is, and I think that will become obvious in time.

The reason I don’t think being in the single market but not the EU is a problem is because when we had full EU privileges we did such a bad job of representing ourselves. Our largest party in the European parliament is Ukip, whose entire raison d’etre is to not turn up unless they want to punch someone or vote against something on principle, even when it benefits us. With friends like that, who needs enemies. We’re better off outside of the politics and inside the market.

Next up is Labour. I’m not voting Labour while Corbyn’s in charge. Even if he unveils a set of policies that resonates with me I still wouldn’t trust him to have the leadership skills to run the country and implement them correctly. There’s not much to add here, the leader makes the party untenable.

Ukip? No. Greens? No.

The only party left is the Tories. Before I go any further, acquaint yourself with government welfare spending:

welfare

You will notice that the largest chunk of welfare, by far in the lead, is pensions, accounting for 42% of welfare spending. This is because Cameron employed something called the ‘triple lock’, which led to pensions increasing by 2.5% per year regardless of economic conditions of everyone else. In the same timeframe, wages have stagnated and working age benefits have been cut aggressively. The triple lock is unsustainable, unfair and needs to go.

I have a lot of disdain for the fact that not only did Cameron’s government put pensioners first at the expense of younger and working age people, but also that he used the logic that the deficit had to be cut because Labour spent irresponsibly, while simultaneously handing out tax breaks. These two things are similar because they led to people being insulated from the effects of the economics they vote for and pushing the monetary burden onto someone else.

If you want to vote for a party who will cut the deficit, you have to accept that you will have to pay for it. If you want to vote that the country leaves the EU and suffers economic consequences, you have to accept you will have to pay for it. You can’t expect other people to pay your part.

But David Cameron and Theresa May are different people and in different circumstances. So when I hear Theresa May happily and clearly committing to foreign aid spending one minute then waffling meaninglessly when asked to commit to the triple lock and doing the same when asked to commit to Cameron’s tax promises, I’m suddenly wondering if she’s going to put out a manifesto I might feel happy voting for.

It’s early days yet and I’m still likely to vote Lib Dems as basically a protest vote, but I’ll be watching Theresa May with great interest.

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Election speculation

I’m really undecided as to where exactly I think the general election is going to go. Conventional wisdom says that the Tories will come out with a huge majority, and yeah, that looks pretty likely.

But it’s dissatisfying to me to treat this as a foregone conclusion because I can see a credible route to a much less impressive change. To be clear, I am not saying I think this will happen, I am just saying I think it’s a realistic possibility:

The polls might well be wrong. We had shy-Tory and shy-Brexit effects in the last referendums whereby the polls underestimated right wing support because people felt embarrassed about admitting their politically incorrect voting intentions. Since the EU referendum I simply do not believe that people are being shy about being right wing. The boot is very much on the other foot as we have the likes of the Daily Mail very openly channelling their inner Goebbels to shame anyone who’s not a true believer in the great brexit project. These people are now vindicated and emboldened. If there is a shy effect it’s a shy-Corbyn effect as he’s been repeatedly lambasted and the only vocal support he receives now is from a narrow set of Labour activists with whom most people would be embarrassed to be associated. A 2-3% swing towards Corbyn on election day is not unrealistic.

With a 2-3% swing we’re still looking at the Tories breaking 40% and Labour struggling to hit 30%.

But Corbyn may yet pull back a few points during campaigning. Theresa May is not a strong leader, she’s not a good public speaker and she can’t think on her feet. I’ve no problems with the last two in a PM, but if the other leaders can pressure her into a public TV debate which she is trying so hard to avoid, she’s running the risk of shattering the perception that she’s strong and commanding. At the moment she’s banking on being regarded as the professional and safe option versus Corbyn the swivel eyed loon. But while David Cameron used to run rings around Corbyn in PMQs, Corbyn manages to hold his own against May. Putting her and Corbyn head to head will make people realise that she’s not the confident and capable leader she’s cracked up to be, and that Corbyn’s not as insane as he’s cracked up to be.

Now we’re at Labour in the low 30s and the Tories in the high 30s. In other words, we’re not really that far off from 2015 numbers. So, the Tories take say 30 seats off Labour giving them a nice, but unremarkable, lead

Or at least, it would be if the Lib Dems weren’t going after the seats they lost to the Tories in 2015. Lynton Crosby, senior Tory strategist thinks that they’d lose most of the 27 seats they took off the Lib Dems in 2015. Some will stay blue, but traditionally the Lib Dems are pretty strong at picking their battles, as evidenced in the Richmond by election last year.

So the end result here is that the Tories take some seats off Labour and then lose half of that number to the LDs. Instead of ending up with 400 seats, they end up with about 340-350. A decent haul if viewed in isolation, but a definite under-performance for a snap election called on the incumbent’s own terms.

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Question for brexiteers:

Brexiteers have generally been very happy with the Conservative party so far, but are they so happy now that Theresa May is seeking to reduce the power of the rebellious hard right, hard brexit wing of her party by bringing in a large number of new, fresh faced MPs who will almost certainly not go against her when she decides to soften on brexit?

If brexit is still your main concern, vote Ukip!

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Neuroma #4

It’s time for the weekly neuroma update. I’m pleased to report it’s definitely improving. Logically, I knew it was last week, but it was still causing me enough discomfort that I was hesitant to commit to any positivity. The aches seem to have stopped and now I’m left with sharp pinching feelings when I put my foot down at the wrong angle. I consider this a big improvement, because now the only time it hurts is when there’s an obvious physical cause, which at least tells me when I’m doing something wrong. I’m still optimistic that if I can avoid aggravating it frequently, it will, over a period of months, stop bothering me enough that it’s not practically a problem.

So now I’m thinking about running again.

It’s now 5 weeks since my last run. I had to look that up on Strava. I’d lost count and thought it was 7. Ok, that’s not as bad as I thought. I basically lost the first two weeks because it got a lot worse, for reasons obviously unrelated to running. It then plateaued for a week, and it’s only the past two weeks that it’s actually been improving.

I suspect that the balance exercises and calf stretching I’ve been doing has corrected my gait enough that I could probably run short distances on it without making it worse. But I’m going to leave it a couple more weeks before I attempt that. And when I do start again, it’ll be a short test run, then a week off, then no more than two 5ks a week for the first few weeks.

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Brexit benefits

95596299_uk_wage_growth_v2-2
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-39576856

Check out the graph on that page. In the last seven years, five of those have been spent in negative real wage growth. Just as we started to pick up into the positive axis, we decided to brexit which has led to it plummeting straight back down to zero and is the sharpest gradient on the whole graph.

Brexiteers in the comments are focusing on this as a success story as unemployment has held steady. I won’t say they’ve lost the plot as I would consider it generous to suggest they were ever in the same room as the plot, but it does exemplify the lunacy of the loudest brexit supporters.

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Neuroma #3

The neuroma situation this week is that it’s probably a bit better than it has been but it’s hard to tell. Summary:

+ It has mostly stopped feeling painful or bruised or weird when I wake up
+ I was getting a clicking sensation in my foot, which is now occurring much less frequently.
+ I’m not experiencing the same pain peaks as I was. i.e. it used to feel like someone was stabbing me with a pin, now it’s usually much vaguer.
– I am still getting both a lot of vague pain and a lot of strange aching, which is preferable to outright stabbing pain, but ehhh, it’s still pretty unpleasant.

So, the frequency of the pain has not improved, but the intensity has. This is probably good, but I don’t feel very positive about it.

This week I have spent lots and lots of time stretching calves and hamstrings, as well as improving my balance. I discovered that I’m rock solid balancing on my right (good) leg, but couldn’t last more than a few seconds on my left. Now I’m managing around 30 seconds with some wobble so that’s better.

Overall now I feel that my gait has improved when walking. So hopefully things will continue to settle down over the next few weeks… It is a nerve and nerves can have quite a long latency between being annoyed and settling down.

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Neuroma #2

I am now at week #4 of no running an the neuroma has…
…got a lot worse. It’s not ambiguous, it hurts more. And if it continues at its current trend it’s going to cause me problems getting to/from work, so that’s not good.

I’ve been through all this on the other foot and eventually it just stopped bothering me, but currently, this one is definitely worse that the other one ever was. In some ways past experience makes me optimistic, but I’m aware I’m in uncharted territory.

So I have rapidly implemented plan B, which involves:

1. Taking off my shoes at work. I wear wide fit shoes now and if they were any bigger they would literally fall off, but somehow in its current state they still irritate the neuroma. I suppose that they can apply pressure to my foot when I am sat down if I plant my foot and then push it to the edge of the shoe, so it’s best if they are just not part of the equation.

2. Epsom salt foot baths. Apparently magnesium is important for nerves and epsom salt contains (well, is) magnesium which can be absorbed through the skin. Looking at ‘sources of magnesium’ lists I probably don’t get much of it. A few people online have noted that magnesium and epsom salt helped them. I don’t really expect this to help but it’s easy and safe to try, so why not.

3. Stuffing cotton wool between my toes. I used to do this a lot but I stopped doing it because it started hurting more when I did. But I think it should be safe and beneficial generally…

4. Stop icing it, because ice is clearly either not preventing it from getting worse, or actively making it worse.

I am quite frustrated by this currently and especially by having to take an extended time away from running. But on the plus side I started lifting weights again after having a bad cold last weekend and through the week, and I’m feeling pretty good about that.

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