Wry & Dry

Turkey's new Sultan. France's edge. May's week will be in June.

Slight madness

Wry & Dry returned from a reflective Easter to be confronted by a world that seems to be going slightly mad.

It's not the Tsar Trump versus Crazy Kim Jong-Un game of chicken.  Or Turkey turning back the clock to the age of Sultans.  Or the upcoming (Sun-23-Apr) French presidential election.  Or even the upcoming UK Labour Party Titanic event (UK general election: Thu-8-Jun).

It's just that Tony Abbott's RDS has become significantly worse.  Will someone please put us all out of misery, and make him Australia's ambassador to The Holy See (i.e. the Vatican).  Or put him in a glass case and on display in the local Jurassic Park.  He's like an ageing rock-star who always has a Final Farewell Tour.  And then another.  And another.  So too Abbott's I'll-Just-Make-One-Last-Negative-Comment-About-Turnbull-Tour.  And then another.  

What amazes W&D is that the most senior Liberal in the country (Howard) hasn't told Abbott to shut up and retire.  And nor have Abbott's buddies in parliament, who it seems would rather be in Opposition with ABT (anyone but Turnbull) as leader than in government.  Which suggests to W&D that Liberal Party cowardice is the new black.  All William Shorten has to do is silently watch the government self-immolate. 

May's week will be in June [1]

Speaking of self-immolation, but on the other side of politics, the long, slow and painful self-immolation of the UK Labour Party will reach its denouement on 8th of June.  The UK PM, Teresa May has called an early election.  And the polls suggest a slaughter of the Labour Party and of its hapless, ageing, far-left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn.

May is turning out to be more ambitious and ruthless than anyone thought.  

Readers will recall that on becoming PM she fired not only the Chancellor of the Exchequer (i.e. Treasurer) but also most of outgoing PM Cameron's cabinet.  But she's cut from a different cloth to Margaret Thatcher.  May is more a community Tory, much in the mold of Joe Chamberlain or that Whig Gladstone, eschewing ideology for practical solutions.

But her popularity comes from the strong and uncompromising leadership, not her ideas.

On the other side, Corbyn is turning out to be even more incompetent and ideologically narrow minded than anyone thought.  The below chart tells the story:



The Conservatives are tipped to have a majority of over 200 seats, up from its current 16.  This will ensure at least ten years of Conservative rule.  Oh, Jezza, why did you stand for Leader of the Labour Party?  If you had a soupçon of testosterone, or some ungendered equivalent, you would have quit a long time ago.

It may be tempting to see this all as it's-another-populist-Trump-type-xenophobic-step.  W&D urges caution: the populist surge in the US and Europe is a nationalistic concoction of protectionism and racism.  What W&D sees in the UK under May is a resurgence of Anglo-Saxon free trade and internationalism, but with Whig paternalism.  Sort of like Singapore, but with chewing gum.

As for the UK Labour Party Titanic event.  As they say, if you see the iceberg, it's too late.  For Mr Corbyn, it's too late.  

Turkey's new Sultan

All hail the 37th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire [2]!  Err, not quite yet.  

Readers will be aware that Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan claimed a narrow victory in last Sunday's referendum, that gave him virtual dictatorial powers.  Until at least 2029. 

The 51% Yes vote was essentially delivered by Sultan Erdoğan's rural supporters, with voters in the three largest cities, Izmir, Istanbul and the capital Ankara, each voting No.  The Sultan's winning vote was down considerably on the last parliamentary election, where he and his allies won 61% of the vote.

Turkey yes

Yes supporters celebrating winning the referendum.  

W&D ponders that within ten years the faces and bodies of the girls pictured above will be well and truly covered.  Perhaps they won't be smiling then.  You won't be able to tell, anyway.

Sultan Erdoğan says his first action will be to restore the death penalty.


Growing dragon

China's economy grew by 6.9% in the March quarter, the fastest rate in six quarters, as higher government infrastructure spending and a frenzied property boom helped raise industrial output by the most in over two years. The Q1 result came in slightly higher than forecast, but analysts widely expect the economy to lose steam later this year as the impact of earlier stimulus measures starts to fade and as local authorities continue to try to rein in housing prices. 

France: on the edge

Readers will know, of course, with the announcement of the UK general election, that 2017 will be the first year since 1924 that each of the UK, France and Germany have held elections.  Those elections were won by three men (Stanley Baldwin, Wilhelm Marx and Edouard Herriot).  It is possible, but unlikely that W&D will see three women elected this year, although two are certain (May and Merkel).

Marine Le Pen, the feisty leader of the far-right party in France, is almost certain to win or come second in Sunday's 'first-round' election.  But is most unlikely to survive the 'second round' (against the other first round winner or runner-up).

The man most likely is Emmanuel Macron, a left-centrist candidate.

But, W&D cautions, there may be a bolter.  François Fillon, the original favourite who fell on a fiscal scandal (if only the scandal had been one of passion - the French forgive such crimes), is now making a comeback.  And alarmingly, the hard left candidate, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, is also getting a popularity boost. 

If both of the extreme candidates (Le Pen and Mélenchon) win in the first round, the EU is doomed.

And claiming victory...

...are Australia's own far-right wingers: Pauline Hanson and Cory Bernardi.  Each for succeeding in getting the government to abolish 457 visas.  Queensland's Senator Hanson's Twitter claim beat South Australian Senator Bernardi's by 27 minutes.  

W&D wonders if Senator Bernardi's claim was delayed because of a power blackout in South Australia.

Easter? What was that all about?

The following is presented without comment.  Other than a similar chart for Australia might add either the Stawell Gift (a foot race) or Bell's Beach (a surfing contest).

Top 5 Easter

Where's the fleet? 

W&D's children used to enjoy a book called Where's Wally?   Hours were spent trying to find Wally in the pictures.  So it was this week with the American 6th Fleet.   Where was it?

This massive Armada of an aircraft carrier and attendant cruisers, destroyers, etc was supposed to be sailing north to scare Crazy Kim Jun-Il. And it must have been true, because Tsar Trump Twittered it to be so.

Err, no.  The Armada turned west, instead of north.  But Crazy Kim got agitated... 

American fleet


Miscellany to soothe your troubled mind.    


[1]  May Week Was In June was Clive James' third autobiographical book.  It told of his time at Cambridge.  May Week is the name used at Cambridge to describe the period after the end of year exams.  It is usually a time of much partying, balls, garden parties, etc.  But since 1882 May Week has been held in June.  Teresa May graduated from St Hughes' College, Oxford.

[2]  Mehmed VI was the 36th and last Sultan of the Ottoman (i.e. Turkish) Empire, reigning from 1918 to 1922. Mehmed was removed from the throne when the Ottoman sultanate was abolished in 1922.  He was overthrown by Mustafa Kemal, better known as Atatürk, the general who defeated the ANZAC forces at Gallipoli, and later became the first President of Turkey.