If you can’t rig elections, the next best thing to do is to cancel them. Having just won an election, the new premier of Ontario Doug Ford has chosen the latter course. Has he begun as he means to go on? I’ve been following my old friend and parliamentary colleague Gordon Prentice’s blog on what’s been happening since the brother of the disgraced, former mayor of Toronto the late Rob Ford took office. Without so much as a hint in his manifesto (which was policy-lite in most regards) King Doug has set about dismantling democratic institutions in his province. He is a Conservative, and from what I have seen of his behaviour, loud-mouthed, boorish and cunning to boot. Canadian politics gets more interesting by the day for those who need some light relief from our interminable Brexit tedium.
Another spat in Trumpicana has emerged, which whilst not exactly new does provide some entertainment of a sinister sort. New Republic carries a story about how the Koch brothers, amongst the very richest men in the USA have serious concerns about the Donald. I imagine some of this has to do with their likely disdain for a parvenu billionaire – or possibly a pretend billionaire – but has led the POTUS to tweet : “The globalist Koch Brothers, who have become a total joke in real Republican circles, are against Strong Borders and Powerful Trade. I never sought their support because I don’t need their money or bad ideas. They love my Tax & Regulation Cuts, Judicial picks & more. I made..... [second tweet continues] ....them richer. Their network is highly overrated, I have beaten them at every turn. They want to protect their companies outside the U.S. from being taxed, I’m for America First & the American Worker - a puppet for no one. Two nice guys with bad ideas. Make America Great Again!” (tweeted 31st July)
It now seems that the brothers, or Charles Koch in particular is upset that some of the Republican candidates they paid for aren’t sufficiently delivering on their agenda, and they’re going to get tough with them. This could lead to a very interesting battle within the GOP. The Kochs really do spend a lot of dollars on their chosen candidates, some of whom will be facing a resurgent Democratic tide. Who will they turn to – or what will they turn to, Koch money or Trump bluster? It’s a peculiar battle to have, since most of what the brothers stand for aligns with Trump’s agenda – climate change denial, tax cuts, reduced environmental regulation, etc., etc. But in this battle Trump is playing it quite cannily, placing himself with the workers against the tax avoiding rich bastards. A hint of Germany in the 1930s perhaps.