Bitcoin’s run continues today. There’s a rumour that China will accept bitcoin alongside Japan. That would see the currency really go bananas. There’s nothing like a bit of China/Japan rivalry to get things going.

If you think you’ve missed out on the bulk of the gains, my friend Sam Volkering says you’re wrong. Bitcoin’s outrageous investment returns could happen all over again. You’ve got to be careful how you do it, though.

But it’s politics that will have to take centre stage in today’s Capital & Conflict. There’s an election tomorrow. Although it must be the quietest one ever. Because of the terror attacks, the politicians haven’t been campaigning and the media has had no blunders to report on.

Until this morning. Apparently Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was under Special Branch monitoring for 20 years for being subversive and undermining democracy.

Seeking election doesn’t exactly fit the profile of someone undermining democracy, even with Corbyn’s planned policies. And the British intelligence agencies haven’t exactly got a good track record to point to of late. Perhaps this is a stunt to try and regain some credibility with the future prime minister.

What’s the expected outcome of the British election? The polls are all over the place. At least they’re being honest. When it came to the French presidential election the polls were so similar that statisticians began to get suspicious.

Theresa May is still expected to win. But her margin has tumbled.

So we don’t know what to expect from tomorrow’s vote. Prime Minister May could get her majority or she could lose it. She could bring home Brexit or lose the credibility she supposedly needs to get a good deal. She might get rid of Corbyn or be stuck with him.

One thing is for sure. Putting a stop to campaigning after the terror attack was a masterstroke. It allows May to continue to campaign as she is in government and has responsibilities, while Corbyn is stuck in the doldrums.

Meanwhile, France is gearing up for its own vote on Sunday. The president may be decided, but how will his brand new party fare in the National Assembly?

Pretty well, according to the polls. They’re a ragtag bunch. Many are defectors from other parties across the political spectrum. And so the party’s policies are rather open-ended.

But France obviously wants change. For some reason, change in political circles is always branded as a good thing, but it rarely turns out to be in the end.

 

What you should think about the election

Are you going to vote tomorrow? How did it work out the last few times? Cast any election swinging votes?

Surely you have better things to do with your time.

Then again, perhaps you do it for the entertainment value. Some poor fellow is forced to look at your rude doodling, after all. And examine whether it does indeed constitute a valid vote.

You’ve never seen an argument like one over the validity of a ballot. I almost got punched in the nose when I had to participate in scrutineering thanks to a university subject.

Lots of people are trying to sway your vote. I’m certainly not one of them. You can vote however you like as far as I’m concerned.

My job is to make you think. And point out what’s worth thinking about. Voting doesn’t qualify for either of the two.

But the election result will have an impact on your life. And you should take steps to protect yourself from the fallout rather than participating in the circus. Especially with the terrorist attack making politicians feel important and powerful at the moment.

Prime Minister May is supposedly a shoe in. At least she was. That’s why she called the election in the first place. This means she will implement all the policies in her manifesto in coming years; you just have to read it to find out what will happen to Britain.

Just kidding. Can you imagine a politician who stands by their manifesto!?

May’s election will supposedly usher in Brexit, among other things. But even Brexit is a complete mystery. Who knows what the world will look like from outside the EU? No. But that won’t stop them from casting a vote on it.

There is one interesting prediction about what will change. Chatham House published a 10,000 respondent strong survey in February which pointed out that 55% of Europeans from ten countries surveyed support a temporary ban on immigration from Muslim countries. Only two of the ten didn’t have majorities – Spain and ironically Britain. And yet it’s Britain leaving the EU, largely to control its own borders again. This does not bode well for the EU. It will see Britain taking action while Europe fails to.

Europe is ripe for local versions of Donald Trump. He was skewered in the media for his Muslim nation immigration ban. Now it has majority support.

25% of those surveyed by Chatham House were undecided back in December and January when polling took place. Of those 25%, how many now join the majority?

Understanding Qatar

Funnily enough, it’s the Arab nations that are imposing immigration bans on Muslim countries for their links to terrorism.

The lady behind me in the café was complaining her husband is stuck somewhere thanks to the diplomatic spat over Qatar. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt announced a list of measures punishing Qatar for another list of misdeeds.

They’ve banned Qatari flights, asked Qatari residents to leave and even a shipping blockade is in the works. Ports in the area are refusing to deal with Qatar-linked traffic.

Among the list of Qatari misbehaviours is a US$1 billion hostage deal. Some members of the Qatari royal family went on a falconry hunting trip to Iraq and were kidnapped. Al-Qaeda and the Iranian security services both got in on the ransom money.

According to analysts of the Middle East, the Qataris use kidnapping ruses to fund terrorism in the region. Like the Americans, they tend to fund everyone and swap sides publicly according to convenience. The Qataris like instability because it justifies a natural gas pipeline from Qatar through more stable regions to the west of the current pipelines which run through Iran, Iraq and Syria.

The media is pointing out that Qatar’s trouble comes in the wake of Trump’s first trip overseas. Supposedly that was a failure. And so the spat with Qatar must be another part of that failure.

But perhaps the sanctions on Qatar might be a success of Trump’s foreign policy. Trump can’t pick a fight with the Qataris because they host key American military bases. But his bully boys in the region can put pressure on for him. Especially those who just signed a record-breaking arms deal – the Saudis.

For a group of Arab nations to stand against one of their own is a surprise. It’s likely that Trump had something to do with it. And it would seem to be good news. The Arab world is taking a stand. And no small one, it seems.

Of course Trump is busy on Twitter claiming the Qatar crackdown is thanks to him, but so is the de-escalation he is now seeking.

Until next time,

Nick Hubble,
Capital & Conflict