Sobering Thoughts

Comments on politics, the culture, economics, and sports by Paul Tuns. I am editor-in-chief of "The Interim," Canada's life and family newspaper, and author of "Jean Chretien: A Legacy of Scandal" (2004) and "The Dauphin: The Truth about Justin Trudeau" (2015). I am some combination of conservative/libertarian, standing athwart history yelling "bullshit!" You can follow me on Twitter (@ptuns).

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Government debt and the economic growth problem
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Stephen Moore examines the recent Congressional Budget Office's projections for economic growth and federal debt for the next three decades. National debt will grow to 150% of GDP due to a combination of high spending and low economic growth. The CBO estimates economic growth averaging 1.9% until 2047. It's difficult to make long-term predictions about growth, but this is in line with private sector projections. Slowth, as it has been called, is a serious problem. As Moore writes, "If weak growth persists, there is almost no combination of plausible spending cuts and tax increases that will get Washington anywhere near a balanced budget." Moore calls for a pro-growth fiscal agenda to spur the economy, which will lead to higher tax revenues for Washington. The economy will be larger and annual federal deficits will be lower, goes the thinking, and the debt to GDP ratio will be manageable -- or at least more manageable than debt representing 150% of GDP.

UN inserts itself into US domestic politics
Fox News reports:
The United Nations warned the Trump administration earlier this year that repealing ObamaCare without providing an adequate replacement would be a violation of multiple international laws, according to a new report.
Though the Trump administration is likely to ignore the U.N. warning, The Washington Post reported the Office of the U.N. High Commission on Human Rights in Geneva sent an "urgent appeal" on Feb 2.
The Post reported that the confidential, five-page memo cautioned that the repeal of the Affordable Care Act would put the U.S. “at odds with its international obligations.”
The warning was sent to the State Department and reportedly said the U.N. expressed “serious concern” about the prospective loss of health coverage for 30 million people, that in turn could violate “the right to social security of the people in the United States.”
Dear United Nations: sod off.

Balanced view of Trump's first 100 days
New York Times columnist Ross Douthat says the first 100 days of the Donald Trump presidency could have been worse. Easily, far worse. Douthat makes his case for why things are tolerable compared to expectations/fears/early hints. The economy "is still O.K, still creating jobs and growing." Trump's White House personnel picks are getting better, to go with a competent (or better) cabinet. Illegal border crossing is down, decreasing the likelihood of a "draconian" response on the issue from Trump. The "successful nomination of Neil Gorsuch" is a real achievement and kept promise. For the most part, the anti-Trump protests have not led to an overall collapse of civil debate. (Really!) Counter-intuitively, another upside is the failure of the Obamacare replacement. Douthat explains:
Sure, this isn’t good news for Trump on the usual presidential metrics, where big legislation counts as promises kept, points on the board, the building blocks of a legacy and so forth. But it is good news for the country, because the proposed Obamacare replacement was so flawed that its passage would have achieved little or nothing for the common good. And it’s quite possible to imagine that pattern repeating itself going forward: Good right-of-center legislation under Trump may be a pipe dream, but better no legislation at all than bad legislation, and with a Republican Party that’s both internally divided and incompetent at policy making, Trump’s inability to close the deal could save the country from a great many lousy bills.

Blame perpetrators
The Canadian Press reports:
The wife of a Thai man who hanged their 11-month-old daughter on Facebook Live said Wednesday her husband is the only person to blame and she bears no anger toward the social media site or the users who shared the horrific video.
The video showed 20-year-old Wuttisan Wongtalay killing his child by hanging her at an abandoned hotel. The video was livestreamed Monday evening and made inaccessible by Facebook late Tuesday afternoon.
Police said the man later killed himself. The video was apparently available for viewing online for almost 24 hours until Facebook pulled it down.
There is a fair bit of criticism leveled against Facebook for enabling this murder. While death porn is obscene, but all moral culpability belongs to Wuttisan Wongtalay.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017
The truth about trade
International borders doesn't make trade special or dangerous.
Last week Dave Donaldson, winner of the John Bates Clark Award, said this in an interview with the Wall Street Journal:
I have always believed strongly that the study of trade should not, and our interest in trade as citizens and policy makers should not, just be focused on international trade. There’s nothing fundamentally, at all different between California trading with China and California trading with Colorado. It’s all just trade.
(HT: Cafe Hayek)

Prime ministerial
Yahoo! reports that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was interviewed for the April 24th episode of The Jonah Keri Podcast:
“One last question, which I do at the end of every podcast, is I always ask the guest for a life tip, a nugget of wisdom,” Keri said, before clarifying that the tip could be either very serious or very silly.
“So I throw it out to you. It’s one thing that is just, if I met you in a bar you’d say, ‘Oh yeah, this is what I’m about,'” Keri said.
Trudeau responded rather simply: “In a bar? Flush the urinal with your elbow.”
That's quick considering he took the question very literally about "in a bar?" Still, he's Canada's PM.

The more things change ...
John O'Sullivan has a longish essay on the French elections. He argues that there is a political realignment going on and that Emmanuel Macron's victory will be short-lived:
The game is not over. Macron can’t be defeated in this round, but he will probably suffer some loss of reputation at the hands of Marine Le Pen in debate. His major problem is that despite the media chatter about reforms, he is the candidate of the status quo. That commits him to the Europeanist and progressive policies that have made Hollande unpopular. Worse, Macron is a more candid champion of such policies than any of their original architects. He has gone so far as to charge that French colonialism was a crime against humanity, to deny that there is any such thing as French culture, and to call for open borders. Unless he changes both politically and rhetorically, he will encourage the drift of native-born Frenchmen to the National Front. And he will do so in the face of two dangerous trends: the continuing turmoil produced by Islamist terrorism in France, and the silent destruction of jobs, ever higher up the occupational ladder, by domestic automation aggravated by globalist competition. France is in a serious crisis about itself that will get far worse in the next presidential term. If Macron faced any opponent other than Ms. Le Pen who, somewhat unfairly, cannot shake off her family’s past, he would be defeated. Before long a less tarnished political entrepreneur on the right will realize the fact, steal some of Le Pen’s policies, and add his own to fashion a winning costume.
The same point is made by O'Sullivan's NRO colleague, Andrew Stuttaford: "France’s next presidential election isn’t until 2022, but Marine Le Pen — or someone like her — will be waiting, and that wait may not be in vain."

Monday, April 24, 2017
A small city behind bars for parole violations
The Marshall Project reports:
Among the millions of people incarcerated in the United States, a significant portion have long been thought to be parole violators, those who were returned to prison not for committing a crime but for failing to follow rules: missing an appointment with a parole officer, failing a urine test, or staying out past curfew.
But their actual number has been elusive, in part because they are held for relatively short stints, from a few months to a year, not long enough for record keepers to get a good count.
To help fill the statistical gap, The Marshall Project conducted a three-month survey of state corrections departments, finding more than 61,250 technical parole violators in 42 state prison systems as of early 2017. These are the inmates who are currently locked up for breaking a rule of parole, rather than parolees who have been convicted of a new crime; the number does not include those in county and local jails, where thousands more are likely held.
The numbers would be higher if Alabama, Connecticut, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia kept track of such statistics.
While 61,250 is small as a percentage of the 2.3 million incarcerated Americans, as Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project, says, "the numbers aren’t trivial."

US politics in 2017, and 2020
The Washington Post reports on the Washington Post/ABC News poll that finds 58% of Americans think the President is "out of touch with the concerns of most people. This number includes 20% of Republicans and 10% of Trump voters. Asked the same question about the Republican Party, and 62% answer in the affirmative, including 30% of Republicans. Democrats shouldn't gloat. Two-thirds of Americans (67%) and 44% of Democrats consider the Democrat Party out of touch with the concerns of most people. Independents consider Democrats (75%) more out of touch than they do Republicans (68%). It is easy for each side to point the divisions across the partisan divide, and Republicans will certainly gloat that Democrats are viewed as more out-of-touch.
It is unsurprising that partisans consider the opposite party out-of-touch, but for a third or more to consider one's own tribe in such a way suggests that the United States is not immune to political upheaval. I'm not suggesting the rise of populist parties to challenge the bipartisan tradition. It is more likely, as we saw with Donald Trump and the GOP and Bernie Sanders and the Democrats, that the challenge could come from within. There is a very good chance that what was started last year by Trump and Sanders is not a one-off.
Related, leading Democrats don't think pro-life voters can be authentically Democrat.

France's anti-establishment presidential election
There is a sense of relief from many observers of the French election that Emmanuel Macron made it to the second round and is expected to easily dispatch Front National presidential candidate Marine Le Pen in two weeks. The euro rallied when it became obvious that Macron would be in the run-off. This could be misread as the return of normalcy to French politics, but as the Daily Telegraph observed, the results were a rebuke to the political establishment. Macron is invariably described as centrist, but it should be remembered that he started a new party, En Marche!, last year. It may have been political opportunism as the current Socialist President, François Hollande, is terribly unpopular. But it is also a rebuke to the governing Socialists, in which government Macron had recently served as Minister of Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs. The upstart party won 23.9% of the vote under Macron, who fashions himself as something of a post-partisan politician. The so-called far-right populist Front National finished second with 21.4%. La France insoumise, another new party started by another former Socialist minister, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, won 19.6% of the vote, as the left-wing populist alternative. That's nearly two-thirds of the vote going to populist and/or new political parties.
Typically, French presidential elections are contested by the Republicans on the centre-right and Socialists on the left. The Republican presidential candidate, François Fillon, finished third and won 19.9% of the vote, barely edging out Mélenchon. The governing Socialists finished fifth under Benoît Hamon, with just 6.3% of the vote. That is, the two traditional political powerhouses, who have been trading the presidency since 1959 (not including two brief couple month stints in 1969 and 1974), combined for about a quarter of the vote. It is too early to say that this is a political revolution, but ostensibly it appears that French voters rejected the status quo political parties.
And here's something interesting, via The Guardian's thorough live coverage yesterday: Front National expert Sylvain Crépon says that Emmanuel Macron may play nicely into Le Pen's hands. The conventional wisdom is that Le Pen will lose badly, as polls about the second round have consistently shown Macron beats her easily in the run-off. He might. Probably will. But Crépon says that the conventional wisdom misses an important point, namely that he plays into her strength:
Of all the candidates Marine Le Pen could have faced in the second round, Emmanuel Macron is the one who is projected to beat her the most convincingly. For all that, he is the candidate that she would most like to confront.
To understand why, we need to return to the FN’s project of reconfiguring French democracy around the question of identity ... It wants the principle divide to be between those attached to national identity (nationalists, patriots, souverainists) and those who seek to destroy it (globalists, cosmopolitans, pro-Europeans).
If Le Pen can replace a supposedly outmoded left-right divide based on economic and social criteria with with this new division, she can present her party as the one true alternative to what she describes as a system of “uncontrolled globalisation”. And that is a system of which Emmanuel Macron is the perfect incarnation. Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen victorious in snub to establishment politics.
If the Telegraph is correct and the real story about the French election is the rejection by voters of the political establishment, perhaps Le Pen has a surprise in store. The left-right narrative might miss the point about the French election and potential political realignment taking place.
I will admit that this post might contradict my previous one about the French presidential election. That's because the changes taking place now might not play out fully until 2022, and the fact that the previous post was mostly talking about the trajectory of French policy, not electoral politics.

Sunday, April 23, 2017
France's political future is a lot like its recent past
The conventional wisdom following the first round of presidential voting in France is that so-called centrist Emmanuel Macron will easily win the second round early next month. Let's assume the CW is correct. Jonathan Miller in The Spectator: "Macron's presidency looks unlikely to resolve any of the challenges facing a nation that seems unable to agree on anything." France's problems, rooted in excessive government regulation of the economy, especially the labour market, are the root of both left-wing and right-wing populism. And despite Macron's likely second-round victory, there is still tremendous opposition to the status quo, especially on the EU and NATO. With the supposedly right-wing Front National garnering nearly 22% and the left-wing La France insoumise of Jean-Luc Mélenchon winning almost 20%, four in ten French voters seem ready to drastically shake things up. There is tremendous pressure for Macron to solve France's economic and social problems. As an enthusiast for Europe and immigration, Macron better perform. The FN has slowly increased its share of first round voters since the 1990s and La France insoumise had a great showing for a first-time party. Populism isn't going away just because the young, cosmopolitan candidate won.

Tony Blair's endorses not-Labour/not-Brexit
The Guardian reports:
Tony Blair has advised voters to consider backing Conservative or Liberal Democrat candidates in June’s general election, if they promise to have an open mind on the terms of the final Brexit deal ...
In an interview on the BBC’s World This Weekend, Blair also said he was so concerned about the prospect of Britain plunging out of the single market that he could even return to frontline politics, saying: “I look at the political scene at the moment and I almost feel motivated to go right back into it.”
It is interesting that Blair does not include Labour, a clear signal he has no faith in his former party.
It is ridiculous for Blair to say "I almost feel motivated" to intervene in the public square when he has clearly return to politics.
But most important, Blair is mistaken in what he is trying to do. The former British prime minister told the BBC, the issue in this election is to "return as many members of parliament as possible to parliament that are going to keep an open mind on this Brexit negotiation until we see the final terms." Blair said returning a massive Tory caucus would be seen as the electorate endorsing "Brexit at any cost." That might be true, but that political reality will strengthen Prime Minister Theresa May's hand in negotiating with the other EU-27; by adding a sizable contingent of open-minded MPs, the public will undermine the next government's leverage to get the best deal for the United Kingdom by adding a great deal of uncertainty and forcing the government to deal not only with the EU and 27 foreign capitals, but a precarious parliamentary situation as well. A strengthened May can more easily fight for a UK in the single market on favourable terms, whereas if Blair gets his way London will only stay in the single market with too many concessions.
Former prime ministers and presidents should be seen, not heard.

Freedom vs. democracy
Donald Boudreaux:
Freedom is not a synonym for the right to vote in fair and open elections. Fair and open elections with a wide franchise might – might – be a useful instrument for promoting freedom. But contrary to much shallow thinking, the right to participate in such elections is not itself “freedom.” Freedom is the right to choose and act as you please, with this right bound only by the equal right of every other peaceful individual to do the same. (Or to quote Thomas Sowell, “Freedom … is the right of ordinary people to find elbow room for themselves and a refuge from the rampaging presumptions of their “betters.” I would add that freedom requires also elbow room from the rampaging presumptions – and from the enviousness, ignorance, myopia, and even the good intentions – of one’s peers and, indeed, from those of everyone.)

'The "Oh Never Mind" President'
George Will on Donald Trump's flip-flops:
The notion that NATO is obsolete? That China is a currency manipulator? That he would eschew humanitarian interventions featuring high explosives? That the Export-Import Bank is mischievous? That Obamacare would be gone “on Day One”? That 11.5 million illegal immigrants would be gone in two years (almost 480,000 a month)? That the national debt would be gone in eight years (reducing about $2.4 trillion a year)? About these and other vows from the man whose supporters said “he tells it like it is,” he now tells them: Never mind.
The column is otherwise about the red-lines the current President, or members of his administration, has set out and whether they -- mostly, he -- have any credibility abroad.

What I'm reading
1. Governing Global Health: Who Runs the World and Why? by Chelsea Clinton. The former first daughter raises important issues, but you always wondering about her real agenda (self-promotion, boosting the Clinton Foundation).
2. The New Urban Crisis: How Our Cities Are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class—and What We Can Do About It by Richard Florida. It's precisely what you think it is.
3. Dean Smith: A Basketball Life by Jeff Davis. Probably the second best college basketball coach of all-time.
4. Rock Solid: My Life in Baseball's Fast Lane by Tim Raines. I'm not a fan of player autobiographies, but The Rock was one of my favourite players.
5. The Slide: Leyland, Bonds, and the Star-Crossed Pittsburgh Pirates by Richard Peterson. That Bucs team from the early '90s was good, and entertaining.
6. "Understanding Wealth Inequality in Canada," a Fraser Institute paper by Christopher Sarlo
7. "France: A Critical Player in a Weakened Europe," a Brookings Institute Center on the United States and Europe paper by Philippe Le Corre

Saturday, April 22, 2017
Ideology not psychology explains the snowflake generation
Heather Mac Donald recently joined the roster of conservative speakers prevented from speaking an American university campus because student activists didn't like her point of view. She writes about the phenomenon in the Wall Street Journal:
This soft totalitarianism is routinely misdiagnosed as primarily a psychological disorder. Young “snowflakes,” the thinking goes, have been overprotected by helicopter parents, and now are unprepared for the trivial conflicts of ordinary life ...
Campus intolerance is at root not a psychological phenomenon but an ideological one. At its center is a worldview that sees Western culture as endemically racist and sexist. The overriding goal of the educational establishment is to teach young people within the ever-growing list of official victim classifications to view themselves as existentially oppressed. One outcome of that teaching is the forceful silencing of contrarian speech.

What happens when labour is inexpensive
Alex Tabarrok says that "Labor is cheap in India which leads to some differences from the United States." For example:
Every mall, hotel, apartment and upscale store has security. It’s all security theatre–India is less dangerous than the United States–but when security theatre can be bought for $1-$2 an hour, why not?
Offices are sometimes open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Not that anyone is in the office, just that with 24 hour security there is no reason to lock up, so the office physically stays open.
Every store has an abundance of staff. This one is puzzling since it results in worse service. Even in a tiny store, for example, it’s common to have one person tabulate the bill and then hand it to another person to ring you up. My guess is that this is an anti-theft procedure for the owner as it then requires two to collude to rip the owner off.
Tabarrok also has an amusing story about being dropped off at a restaurant.

Friday, April 21, 2017
Support for free trade
A few days ago Washington Post columnist Robert J. Samuelson looked at polling data on support for trade in America. Support for trade is generally strong and remains so in the Age of Trump, with 48% of Americans says NAFTA has generally been good and 46% saying generally bad. Looking back over the past few decades, it can make a difference depending on what pollsters ask (about trade or trade and jobs) and when they ask it (during economic downturns?). Samuelson concludes:
All in all, Americans seem to favor engaging the world economy and to reject protectionism. But the conviction is weak and subject to numerous qualifications. Americans’ attitudes on trade seem confusing, inconsistent and variable because they are confusing, inconsistent and variable.

Syria fact of the day
The Guardian reports: "Syrian families are naming their children Putin as a mark of gratitude for the Russian president’s support for his Syrian counterpart in the six-year war, a government official has said."
Or so they claim. Such flattery from the Damascus envoy to Moscow makes diplomatic sense even if he is only reporting anecdotes, and no official figures are available. Also, apparently Russian has been made the second language of Syria.

African megacity fact of the day
Daniel Knowles in CapX on Kinshasha, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo:
This is Africa’s third biggest city. At 12 million, its population is bigger than London’s. Yet it has almost no connections to the outside world. On normal days, there are only 11 international flights out of Kinshasa per day. At Heathrow, the figure is around 1,400. Apart from the airport, the only other way into this vast megacity is the rickety ferry from neighbouring Congo-Brazzaville.
That is from the Knowles article on how many African megacities are growing in population but not in capacity to provide basic services and needs (from transportation to energy to sanitation).

Unfairness vs. inequality
At BloombergView, Tyler Cowen writes about how little traction doing anything about inequality has among the general public. It's a fine column but this snarky remark is the highlight: "I also find it striking how frequently anti-inequality messages come from academia, which in reality has a remarkably inegalitarian system of allocating rewards."
Cowen points to a new study published in Nature Human Behaviour by psychologists Christina Starmans, Mark Sheskin and Paul Bloom, that shows people really care that rewards are distributed fairly, rather than equally. To some, these are synonymous but to many they are not. CapX's Oliver Wiseman does a great job summarizing Starmans' et al's study and findings. There are problems with the lab studies, and the inequality being tested never gets near the the level of inequality between the top 1% and the bottom of American society, but there seems to be a point in differentiating unfair and unequal. Wiseman then applies the political lesson from their research:
Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump didn’t get as far as they did by quoting GINI coefficients and pay ratios. It was the picture they painted of a system which rewarded the wrong things, in which hard work didn’t pay off and the ropes and pulleys of social mobility were frayed or outright broken.
Wiseman says that combatting unfairness is likely to be part of the United Kingdom general election. Defining fairness is no easy job, but it would appear that the Left is undermining its message by focusing on the unequal distribution of rewards.
CapX's Andrew Lilico would disagree fairness is not easily defined, stating:
Being fair is a special kind of being proportionate, of which equality, proportionality, and desert and the best-known forms. That is to say, sometimes being fair does mean being equal (“proportionality to unit”). Sometimes it means proportionality to action (what we call “desert”). Sometimes it means proportionality to some other relevant dimension, such as proportionality to income or need or appetite. But to be fair is always a matter of being proportionate.
Fairness is related to justice, but is not the same as it, for while justice is a moral concept and an ethical/normative obligation (i.e. one always ought to be just), fairness is a technical concept and an ethical consideration (i.e. sometimes it is right not to be fair, but one should take account of that unfairness in working what is right).
Proportionality matters. It seems that the public cares about proportionality to action (just desert). The Left would argue that the current economic system results in disproportionate rewards for the most well-off, but as Cowen points out, this doesn't seem to move people to demand large-scale and radical redistribution.

UK-US free trade
The Wall Street Journal reports:
U.K. Treasury chief Philip Hammond said Friday he is confident the U.K. and the U.S. can strike a free-trade accord once Britain has left the European Union, saying a wide-ranging deal would benefit both economies.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington, Mr. Hammond said there is “very strong political momentum” in both the U.S. and U.K. to reach an agreement on boosting trade ...
“There is clearly a very strong political momentum behind this deal,” Mr. Hammond said.
As an EU member, the U.K. can’t currently ink trade deals on its own, but Mr. Hammond said London is eager to start talks as soon as possible.
“As soon as we are able to, as soon as it’s possible in terms of our obligations to the European Union, we will begin preliminary discussions with the United States” on a trade accord, Mr. Hammond said, adding Britain would aim for a “comprehensive” agreement covering both goods and services.

The meaning of the special elections
Michael Barone has a good column in the Wall Street Journal, "How to read this year's special elections." It is tempting to say that two Congressional special elections are a small sample size, but Barone looks at the type of districts in play: one suburban with a large number of college educated and evenly split between Trump and Clinton in 2016, the other with a lower college educated population and a large Trump victory last year. Noting that opposition parties have certain "inherent advantages" (more flexibility, better ability to stress local issues, protest against unpopular party in power without disrupting government), Barone says that the "specials show that Trump-brand Republicanism is unpopular with high-education voters and made zero inroads among Trump opponents." He concludes "that's "interesting, but not Earth-shaking." That's not clickbait and it avoids partisan triumphalism in the face of modest outcomes, but that sounds about right in terms of analysis. For all the Democrat euphoria following Jon Ossoff's 48% showing in Georgia's 6th CD, against the combined 51% for the 11 Republican candidates, forcing a run-off election, that just about mirrors the Trump-Clinton result last November (48.3%-46.8%). In other words, despite everything that has happened over the past six months and the fact the Left put everything it could into Ossoff's campaign, almost nothing has changed vote-wise in the sort of congressional district Democrats need to win to take back the House of Representatives.

Thursday, April 20, 2017
'Should Cameron campaign for the Conservatives in the coming election?'
ConservativeHome's Paul Goodman asks the question and offers the case(s) for and against:
Case for: He fought two general elections, lost neither, kept increasing the Conservative seat total, won two referendums, isn’t unpoular, is effective on the stump, might help swing some seats in the Remain-friendly home counties where the Liberal Democrats will be active. If he’s willing, he’ll be a loyal trooper – and is too canny to get caught out by awkward questions.
Case against: He lost the EU referendum and his day is done.
Views, please.
David Cameron is a good politician and he has a lot of strengths on the hustings (when he isn't making patently ridiculous claims about Brexit). He may even be a better politician than Prime Minister Theresa May, although I could argue either way. I really liked Cameron's Big Society and Life Chances speeches, but he didn't deliver the necessary policy to back up his words with actions. Big Society and Life Chances fit nicely into May's priorities (helping those who are Just About Managing), but ultimately he would be a distraction. Cameron's presence would force comparisons between May and her predecessor rather than May and the opposition leaders. More importantly, May has implicitly criticized Cameron's government and leadership as style over substance, and dismissed his close allies for treating the serious business of politics as a game. There would be just too much difference in style between the current and former leader of the Conservatives for Cameron to be an asset.
Cameron's role should be limited to a joint-appearance with the Prime Minister endorsing whatever Brexit strategy she announces. That would symbolically unify the Remain side of the party (and country) with the realities that May is working with (Brexit means Brexit).