General Election? Nigel Farage’s Dilemma

Brexit Party
Brexit Party
Pact or no pact: what does it say on the tin?

The Conservatives would benefit from cooperating with Nigel Farage and his business in a forthcoming general election – but would the arch-Brexiteer sacrifice his latest venture?

There are many hurdles in the way of the pact that Farage has indicated he may desire between The Brexit Party Ltd that he owns and Boris Johnson’s Conservatives.

At a rally in Westminster to announce the Brexit Party’s next wave of candidates to fight for seats in the next general election last week, Farage confirmed the Brexit Party would form a “non-aggression pact” with the Conservative Party if it pursues a no-deal Brexit.

However, now that there are moves to block this outcome from happening and Johnson says he would prefer to leave the EU with a deal, it’s questionable about what happens next.

While the value of a pact to the Conservative party is obvious, its attraction to the Brexit Party is far from clear.

Let’s assume Farage is open to a pact to get the biggest representation in parliament for his limited company, as he was indicating again yesterday.

He would, therefore, need the Conservatives to stand down in seats the Brexit Party Ltd could win.

Where are these? The most obvious are the seats with the highest Brexit vote in 2016. There were 50 where 67% or more voted to leave the EU.

Where possibly could Johnson’s Tories stand down?

After the seats that currently still have Conservative MPs are ruled out – including Boston and Skegness, which had the highest pro-Brexit vote of 75% – 26 Labour-held and strongly pro-Brexit seats would remain.

There are 13 of these that are Labour-Conservative marginals, which could fall to the Tories on a 7% swing. It is highly unlikely that the Tories would surrender these: they are exactly the sort of seats the Tories need to target if they are to have any hope of securing a clear majority in a new parliament.

What remains are the 13 powerfully pro-Brexit Labour seats where the Tories haven’t a realistic hope in hell of winning.

This means it would not worry them a lot if they were offered to Farage. However, although his limited company did well in all of them last May, the Brexit Party Ltd would struggle to win any of them in a general election. Why? Because they include Doncaster North, where Ed Miliband’s majority is 14,024, and Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, where Yvette Cooper is 14,499 ahead of the Tories.

In these, and the other 11 seats on this list, the Conservatives have never done well in living memory: they include towns and cities like Barnsley, Hemsworth, Hull, Redcar, Rotherham, and Wentworth.

If the Tories were to stand down and throw their endorsement in the direction of the Brexit party, Farage’s candidates in these Labour heartlands would lose their most appealing quality: they are a Tory-hating alternative for pro-Brexit voters that would not help Johnson.

If voters locally were pressured into choosing between their existing, pro-EU Labour MP and a Tory-backed pro-Brexit candidate, the smart money would be on Miliband, Cooper et al holding their seats.

A pact may not only reduce Farage’s limited company’s chances in Labour’s heartlands; but also, by standing down in a number of marginals the Brexit Party Ltd would be diminishing its vote tally overall. It may not matter in a formal sense but to an insurgent party with ambitions, the symbolic significance would not be a good look.

So, whatever Farage says, a pact looks extremely unattractive to the Brexit party in terms of seats and overall votes.

However, Farage is unlikely to want to be remembered as the man who stopped Brexit happening, so the most obvious benefit of a pact to him and his cabal is that, even if his party ends up with no MPs, by standing aside in the key marginals he could make sure there is a clear Tory majority so the UK would leave the EU.

Without such a pact, the pro-Brexit vote would split in many key seats. Labour and the LibDems could make the gains they need to make sure of a majority for a fresh Brexit referendum in the new parliament, and the UK could remain in the EU after all.

So there is a paradox for Farage.

On the one hand, a pact could advance the Brexit Party Ltd’s main cause, but destroy the party itself: it would lose its purpose and its future with zilch MPs, but it would be able to watch Brexit happen from the sidelines.

On the other hand, failure to enter into a pact may well kill Brexit altogether, but it would also be bound to probably fatally damage the Tories, and lead to a political realignment in which Farage could have a big impact.

Which future would Farage prefer? It looks like we won’t have long to find out.


Revealed: Boris Johnson on Donald Trump

Anti Brexit campaigners Led By Donkeys have amused the passing London crowds by projecting a video of Boris Johnson’s less-than-flattering comments about Donald Trump onto Big Ben, just as the US President is visiting the UK capital.

Don’t be fooled by the two politicians these days having nothing for praise for each other, back in 2015, Johnson was scathing in his condemnation of the then-presidential candidate.

To see the comments that graced Big Ben last night have a look.

Yolt is the first independent app to connect to the UK’s largest high street banks

Yolt, the app that allows customers to view credit card, banking and savings accounts in one place, has become the first third-party provider to tie up with all nine of the UK’s biggest retail banks.

Along with fintech challengers Starling and Monzo, 18 banks are now connected to Yolt, with users able to access a total of 35 different cards and banks. Yolt users can see the shops where they spend the most money. They can also set budgets and plan for upcoming payments as well as seeing how much cash they have available until payday.

Yolt is now the largest user of Open Banking application programming interfaces (APIs) that enable the app to perform about 1.5 million calls every week. APIs are sets of clearly defined ways for various components, in this case accounts to communicate between themselves.

Key features of the Yolt app are its spending tracker, easy budget settings and auto-categorisation.

The app has been working closely with the UK’s nine largest banks and building societies* since the start of 2018 to make it possible to involve all the big retail banking operations. Yolt is the first money app to make a complete Open Banking API link with the Lloyds Banking Group.

Yolt’s COO Leon Muis says that connecting with all the largest banks through APIs is “a huge milestone”. Muis points out that the Open Banking ecosystem has made it possible and for making users able to stay at the front of the Open Banking revolution and empowered to do more with their own money.

He accepts that the public still need educating about Open Banking, which is aimed at providing greater financial transparency for account holders, but believes that as more people get involved, consumers will see the benefits of having increased control over their financial information.

Yolt was launched in 2016 as a registered trademark of the Amsterdam-based ING group. Does it make it easier to manage your finances? Read this review to see what finder UK says. To find out exactly how Open Banking may help you take a look at this analysis.

Hamper (noun): a basket used to deliver an exciting array of things

Blog posts retail
Hamper Joy: gifts like this inspire strong feelings of expectation

There are not many expressions that instantly conjure up such strong feelings of expectation, interest and excitement as does the word “hamper”.

If you believe you are about the receive a hamper from a friend, member of the family or colleague what comes to mind? Gifts, food, special things, enjoyment, pleasure. What is the common denominator? None of them is negative: They are all positives!

It is a truly enervating experience to have a mystery basket arrive on your doorstep. Anybody who doesn’t get excited about discovering what layer upon layer of a hamper reveals must be suffering badly.

  • The hamper may be full of delicious food and drink.
  • It may be stuffed with fascinating trinkets.
  • It may be an arrangement of flowers thoughtfully assembled in a unique display.
  • The basket may be packed with succulent fruits of every description.

There are few things that cannot be delivered in a spectacular way in a hamper, whether here in Singapore or anywhere else around the world.

Hampers first really became popular in Victorian England and have been standing the test of time ever since. Today they are a glorious gift solution for any celebratory event throughout the year and can contain just about anything. You choose.

The concept of the hamper originated in France in around the 11th century. The term ‘hamper‘ comes from the French word ‘hanapier’, which describes a case for goblets. Woven baskets were always traditionally been constructed with willow and were originally employed to transport food and drink on long journeys, hunting expeditions or other expeditions.

It was in the 19th century, as a result of the UK’s industrial revolution, and the improved transport links that came about as a result, that inspired the Victorians to literally grasp the handle of the hamper idea and send items of fresh food throughout the country and Empire.

Luxury food hampers quickly became a popular tradition, particularly at Christmas, when families would send hampers to each other as impressive gifts.

Around this time it also became common for employers to present hampers to their servants and other staff. These traditional baskets, made of wicker, might have been packed with food and clothes. The convention was for these hampers to be filled with seasonal produce, including meat and preserved fruits and given on Boxing Day.

Hamper delivery was a way of saying thank you and making sure everyone had plenty to enjoy over the festive season.

Since the mid 19th Century the use of hampers to spread joy and goodwill has continuously evolved and grown throughout the world. The evolution of the hamper has followed in the footsteps of a variety of food trends and every change in fashion.

The exciting development of hampers and their uses continues today. Indeed, even hamper weaving methods and the baskets produced as a result are changing too.

Nowadays a wide variety of natural weaving materials is used in addition to willow. Other materials can include:

  • rattan
  • seagrass

Expert weavers are able to create hamper baskets in a whole array of sizes and shapes. Wooden and other boxes and gift bags are also used for hamper delivery

Hampers are perfect for this part of the world because giving gifts is part of the culture of Singapore. Recent surveys have indicated that more than 44 percent of people say they are willing to spend over  S$200 on a single gift and more than 24 percent are likely to spend between S$100 and S$200.

The surveys also show that gifts are given all year round, not just during the Great Singapore Sale and the festive seasons.

The opportunities for hamper delivery are almost infinite. It is not just for the traditional seasonal occasions, like Christmas, New Year, Easter, Chinese New Year, hampers can also be created, put together and delivered for:

  • Mummies to give to their babies and vice versa
  • Parents to give their babies for a Full Moon party
  • Couples to give each other for Valentine’s Day

Hampers are such a perfect solution for busy Singaporeans keen to satisfy their friends, family and colleagues, whatever their budget.

Whether it is fresh fruit, the best wines, or healthy biscuits and award-winning baby products, all of these items can be incorporated thoughtfully into an exciting basket of goods that can be put together for hamper delivery.

Today the hamper is more popular than it has ever been. They are a chance for people to be given and to experience and taste products they may never have thought of buying themselves.

What is more, it is now possible to put hampers together to suit very specific dietary needs and other requirements. This means that nobody needs to miss out on the joy and excitement of receiving such a fantastic and innovative present. It’s even possible to create Gluten-Free and Diabetic hampers if they are required.

The perfect food hamper needs to be a delicious mixture of savoury and sweet. Everybody loves one, whether it is receiving it, or the interest of putting one together with care and attention,  picking out those things that your friends, family or colleagues are going to love. It makes the hamper as a present that little bit more special.

It is best if the sweet items are individual and bespoke. Local products are invariably winners. Temptations like butter shortbread or chocolate wafers are never rebuffed. The savoury items could always be something homemade, like a pressed tongue or a cured ham.

The best hampers are definitely those that are personalised to suit the people to whom they are being given. Today the items in a particular hamper can not only be swathed in bespoke gift wrap but the accompanying card can be specifically tailored for a specific person, occasion or purpose, or all three.

Baskets, ribbons, greeting cards, and other decorations all add elegance to a hamper.  But when it comes to giving a gift and hamper delivery one thing that most definitely cannot be overlooked is convenience.

Hamper delivery must be efficient, precise, friendly, and punctual or the whole purpose can be easily marred.

Singaporeans like to give and receive gifts but they not only expect the best products to be chosen for their hampers. They also require practical convenience for their hamper delivery.

What is the enduring appeal of hampers? They suit just about any occasion and most certainly every person who receives one. Whether it’s for family, friends, customers or staff, hampers provide a perfect gift.

Crochet A Bag Holder With Your Old Bags

Blog posts crafts
Unsightly but useful: Baled plastic bags for recycling

Do you have a habit of throwing your old plastic bags in a ball when you’ve used them to bring the shopping back home?

Some people who are keen on handicrafts create a crocheted bag to store their old bags in and keep them neat and tidy and out of the way.

But why not go a step further and create an even cleverer and more environmentally friendly solution by crocheting a bag holder with yarn that you have created yourself out of recycling your own leftover plastic shopping and grocery bags.

You can make a very pretty and extremely environmentally benign bag holder simply by following these instructions. And an additional bonus is it will cost absolutely nothing – just your own time and effort.

Choose one of the many striking designs for crochet patterns that are available for making a bag holder.

There’s nothing new about the idea of recycling old used plastic bags but think about it: if you take the bags back to the shop for them to recycle, they will simply melt them down and make new bags. This will have the harmful effect of emitting, even more, pollution into the air.

Fusing and joining plastic bags together with an iron can release some very noxious fumes into the atmosphere, stinking out your home.

Get your scissors

So, why not get out a pair of the scissors you already use for handicrafts and set about recycling any old plastic shopping and grocery bags into useful ‘yarn’ with which to make an attractive bag to store your future collection of plastic shopping bags.

Start by first laying out a single plastic bag. The bags most suitable for this are those thin ones that you find in chain grocers like Walmart. Take the bag’s seams and tuck them in at the side and then smooth out your bag so that it’s flat. This doesn’t have to be done so there are no creases and the bag is perfect. It will all look fine in the end.

Now you are ready to cut off the bottom edge of the bag with your scissors. For this, you will need to ensure your scissors are good and sharp because you will find that even slightly blunt scissors are not able to cut plastic bags well.

Once you have cut the edges you need to fold the bag lengthways and cut the folded bag into strips of about one and a half inches wide. Again this does not need to be perfect. As it’s just a guideline you don’t need to hunt for a ruler.

Every aspect of this task needs to be kept as simple as possible. Now unfold one of the cut strips and begin the process of joining. Be careful so the strip doesn’t tear on any fused seam.

Loop the loops

Get hold of another cut strip and unfold this too. Loop the strip around a thumb and index finger while holding the rest in your fist.

Then continue this process of bag joining by bringing the loop that is on your right hand over the strip that is looped in your left hand.

Maintain the loop that is in your right hand, and grasp the strip from your left hand, pulling it a little of the way through the loop that is in your right hand.

Carry on until you can complete the bag joining and tie the knot. For this, you need to place your left hand through the most left part of that strip that you most recently passed through the loop that was in your right hand and let it settle on your left wrist.

Now grasp the other end of the strip that you passed through the loop in your right hand with your left index finger and thumb.

Draw the part that you’ve already pinched in your left hand through the loop that you have on your left wrist and continue to pull the knot until it is tight.

Finally, you are ready to finish joining the bag loops and begin crocheting. It’s very important that use up all of your shopping and grocery bags.

The yarn that you have created out of all your bags is best crocheted using a size K or larger crochet hook.

In the end, you will have a perfectly crocheted bag in which you can store any shopping bags that you collect in future.