Archive for the 'Russia – Putin' Category


Republican voters remain solidly behind Trump in the first post-Helsinki polls

Thursday, July 19th, 2018

Those polled responded along strong partisan lines

Anybody expecting that President Trump’s widely criticised approach at the Helsinki summit with Putin would hurt him amongst his base is going to be disappointed. The first polls are now out and they show the same picture – very solid support from Republican Party voters for the Presidents handling of Russian leader, Putin

Axios/SurveyMonkey has 79% of Republicans approved of Trump’s handling. This compares with 91% of Democrats and 62% of independents who disagreed. The overall splits was 58% disapprove to 40% approve.

A CBS News survey found 68% of Republicans saying Trump did a good job in Helsinki, with 83% of Democrats and 53% of independents said he did a bad job.

No doubt we’ll see a lot of other surveys in the next day or two and I’d be surprised if there is much deviation from this picture.

The big question will be how it impacts on the midterm elections at the start of November.

Mike Smithson


The hold that Putin holds over Trump could be revealing that the Russians did try to fix WH2016

Monday, July 16th, 2018

Straight from Russia’s undoubted success in staging the World Cup the biggest news today will be the secret meeting in Helsinki between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump.

Normally when leaders meet they have aides with them but not so this meeting and this has set up a whole series of rumours and speculation. There are all sorts of theories around about the hold that the Russian president has over the occupant of the White House and, of course, it has been noted widely that Mr Trump never ever publicly criticises Mr Putin unlike virtually every other world leader.

Could it be that the Russians have some hold over the President?

One of the theories I like was in a comment on the excellent US political site {$) PoliticalWire relates directly to the story that has never been totally stopped by Trump – the allegation that the Russians actively helped in his election two years ago.

“You know, maybe what Vladimir Putin has on Trump is simply, “I can make it look like you colluded.” Trump and his team were such bumblers that they repeatedly gave Putin opportunities to create evidence of collusion even if none actually occurred.

Maybe Putin can simply say, “Donald, I can provide proof that a) we swayed the election (so you’re illegitimate) and b) you and yours helped.”

Politcalwire notes:-

“Ordinarily, in preparation for such a meeting, diplomats would have established a list of “deliverables” before the high-profile summit. But in this case, as the New Yorker reported, the Russians told White House national security adviser John Bolton, “The meeting is the deliverable.”

For any other U.S. president, the political ramifications of keeping the meeting with Putin would be disastrous.

For Trump, however, the political ramifications of cancelling may be worse.”

His links with Putin are going to dog Trump for the rest of his time as President and no doubt there will be stories for years about what the two man say behind closed doors today.

Mike Smithson


If Trump bothers to read UK polls he won’t be pleased about how negatively he’s viewed in the UK

Thursday, July 12th, 2018

Both him & Putin viewed with almost the same level of unfavourably

The football is over bar the third place play off and over the next couple of days the visit by the US President will dominate the media

To mark this YouGov have just issued latest favourability ratings with a focus on Trump and Putin. I doubt if the latter gives a monkeys but from what we know about Trump this would infuriate him.

What a tough time TMay has had over the past few days. Everything seems to be coming together for her – one problem after another.

Also today YouGov had LAB back in the lead.

Mike Smithson


And so to the World Cup and the Croatia match

Wednesday, July 11th, 2018

Let’s hope they will be celebrating like this tonight


Get ready for a lot of Russia points scoring if they end up playing England in the semi-final

Wednesday, July 4th, 2018

If Russia manages to dispose of Croatia in their quarter final and England succeed against Sweden on Saturday then we could have a semi-final tie next Wednesday that has quite a number of political undertones.

For relations between Britain and the Putin government have been stretched since the Salisbury incident in March all this reinforced by the ongoing suggestions about what Russia may or may not have done during the 2016 Brexit referendum.

It is not just the possible Brexit links – there are those who have been eager to point the finger at one or two members of Corbyn’s close team.

If this is indeed the semi-final expect a World Cup and Russia-themed PMQs a few hours before hand.

Mike Smithson


MEMO to Mr Corbyn: Most GE2017 LAB voters think the Russian Government is a force for evil in the world

Monday, April 16th, 2018

Like Brexit another area where Team Corbyn appears out of line with GE17 LAB voters?

We have seen since the general election that there is an increasing divide between the views of team Corbyn and those who voted for the party at the last general election on Brexit. Overwhelmingly LAB GE2017 voters believe that the decision to leave the EU was wrong which appears out of line with the policies being pursued by the opposition front bench under Mr Corbyn.

With the Salisbury attacks and now the growing crisis in Syria over chemical weapons the public’s view of the Russian government is being looked at by pollsters. The latest findings from ComRes are in the chart above and show that the overwhelming majority of Labour voters at the last election are hostile to Mr Putin’s government.

Based on his actions I would suggest that this sets the Labour leader someone at odds with those who voted for the party on June 8th last year – a situation combined with Brexit that surely cannot continue.

Watching today’s statement in The Commons by Mrs May and the response from Mr Corbyn and labour MPs it is clear that the divide within the party is there in Westminster as well.

Mike Smithson


If its Corbyn versus May again next time my money would be on the Tories

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

Tories now back as odds-on favourites

We could be more than four years away from the next general election and it is possible that neither Corbyn or Theresa May will be leading the parties by then. But if the two were to be the main party leaders next time, whenever that is, my money would be on the Conservatives.

    Firstly it is always the case that we look at elections through the prism of what happened last time rather than what is actually happening at that moment. The assumption would be that message Mrs May would campaign as poorly as in 2017 and that Corbyn would campaign as well.

One thing’s for sure that if May is still heading blue team, which she wants to do, then she is going to perform a lot lot better than she did a few last year. What happens with failure is that it causes a lot of soul searching and you are able to look at the future more critically to work out the lessons to be learnt.

Labour, of course, lost the last general election even though their performance was substantially better than most of the polls were suggesting. But in terms of the red team seat haul compared with the Tories Corbyn’s Labour did worse than Gordon Brown 7 years earlier. Yet Corbyn was almost declared the de facto victor and this appears to be impacting on LAB thinking.

Last time the Tories had great plans to undermine Corby by highlighting some of his controversial past positions on things like Ireland and the wars Britain had been involved in. That didn’t have the desired potency because for many voters it was all about things a long long time ago.

Next time Corbyn’s approach to Russia and the Salisbury attack will be fresher in people’s minds and will be used more effectively.

One little bit of data should be worrying LAB. For the first time since the general election Opinium this week found Corbyn trailing Theresa May in its leader approval ratings.

The Tories have now moved to odds-on favourite to win most seats at the next election.

Mike Smithson


It’s Cold War, Jim: but not as we know it

Saturday, March 17th, 2018

Russia is hostile and aggressive but it’s not a return to pre-1991

Nutcases and tyrants have historically had an easy ride in their own day; their crimes frequently being attributed to the unauthorised actions of ‘evil advisors’ rather than being commissioned from the top. Occasionally, this is true (the Peasant’s Revolt against Richard II might be one example – though Richard was only 14 at the time, and still a duplicitous and cruel character), but generally it isn’t. Time and again, foreign analysts advise their own governments that these dictators are under pressure from hard-liners, only for it later to turn out, after the regime has fallen and the papers are released, that they were themselves the most extreme hard-liner.

In some ways, that’s not too surprising. A leader inclined to push the boundaries can do so more readily than an underling worried about over-stepping the mark, who might then make themselves into a ready scapegoat.

Which means that when it comes to the Salisbury incident, it’s almost certain that even if the specific plan wasn’t authored or even signed off in the Kremlin, the method and the class of target will have been. That, of course, assumes that the Russian state was behind the attack but given the change in tone that occurred literally overnight from the French and US governments, the most reasonable explanation was that they’ve been shown, and convinced by, the reports. If so, Russia has made a clear strategic call that will have massive implications for the future of Europe for years to come.

Of course, the attempted murder of one foreign national in a foreign country is small beer beside the effective invasion, occupation and annexation of a whole region of Ukraine, or the civil war engendered in the east of that country, or invasion and occupation of parts of Georgia, or the disregard for human life shown by the Russian military in Syria.

The common threads, however, between the Salisbury attack and the much more aggressive actions Russia has taken internationally over the last ten years or so are firstly, the lack of concern about any response from the West, but secondly, the lack of any desire to form good or even working relations with the West. Putin has chosen his course for Russia and he is not bothered that it will set relations back thirty years.

Or not. There’s been a lot of talk about Cold War 2.0 this last week. That’s perhaps a little too Anglo-centric a view. It’s certainly true that the attack, rather than being in Salisbury, could have been in Strasbourg or Stuttgart or Stockholm or San Francisco – but it wasn’t. There has been support and sympathy from Britain’s allies but not as yet any deep buy-in to a new cold war. Not that we should really expect that yet: there isn’t that much of a consensus in Britain either, whether within parliament or the country at large.

But a cold war is upon us anyway, whether we like it or not, and it’s been declared by Russia. What’s perhaps confusing is that it doesn’t look like the last one. We’re used to the concept of a cold war being defined by the global blocs of the 1945-91 stand-off, where the Soviet Union and United States competed not just geopolitically but ideologically. There is no such ideological conflict today and nor is the world so neatly divided. Russia feels compelled to put on the facade of elections, such is the triumph of the ideal of democracy, and the contest feels more like those of the multipolar nineteenth-century. Indeed, the defining geostrategic contest of the twenty-first century will very likely be between the USA and China, into which Russia doesn’t fit on either side – which may be another reason it feels freer to act.

What is almost certain is that last week’s events won’t be the last time Putin acts aggressively overseas, as long as he can exploit weakness in his rivals. Britain’s disengaging from the EU is one such weakness, as is a US president whose policies are unpredictable and erratic. He isn’t interested in co-operation because he believes – rightly going by experience – he can get more by action.

That has profound implications for the Baltic states, for the EU, for NATO, for the US, for defence spending and for much else besides. Is it in Britain’s interest to defend the Estonian border, only a few dozen miles from St Petersburg? But if not, what value is NATO, and where do Britain’s essential interests start? How do they tie in with the interests with other NATO countries? After all, in the last cold war, those economic and ideological ties gave an additional cohesion, beyond the perceived Soviet threat. Without those binding factors, inevitably, the differing economic and foreign policy imperatives make any meaningful unified response to any challenge much harder – as does Europe’s (including Britain’s) disintegrating political mainstream: finding consensus within countries is almost as hard as finding it between them.

But the challenge is there and sooner or later can’t be ducked. Chances are, going by today’s cynicism and anti-establishment wave, it’ll be later.

David Herdson