Machiavellianism and Brexit 542

A Cabinet Office source tells me today No. 10 is considering agreeing a second referendum with three choices: No Deal Brexit, May’s Deal or No Brexit. It would be by alternative vote, ie you rate your preferences 1, 2. The thinking is that the first round might go No Deal 23, May’s Deal 37, No Brexit 40. The second round would then go May’s Deal 60, No Brexit 40.

They claim there is opinion poll evidence to support this. But I see a flaw. It is predicated on the current situation, where a lot of Remainers are prepared to support Brexit, to respect the referendum result. But surely a second referendum would release that psychological constraint and the overwhelming majority of Remainers would seize the opportunity to try and ditch Brexit?

The advantage of the ploy from May’s viewpoint is that it presents her “deal” as the only alternative to No Deal or No Brexit, and in an AV vote the compromise position is always boosted. What is more it keeps the numerous other options for deals outwith her red lines – eg EFTA, Single Market, Customs Union, EEA – all off the ballot paper. This limited choice referendum thus appeals to May as “out-maneuvering” the opposition parties. The idea is to sucker them in to talk on a second referendum, then produce this slanted one.

This has not been adopted as policy yet, but No.10 and the Cabinet Office are working on the practicalities of this option.

There will almost certainly be a vote on a second referendum amendment in the government motion debate now starting on 29 January. One very close adviser to Jeremy Corbyn is suggesting to him that he gives a free vote, in order to prevent the row that the convoluted Conference motion tried to put off by focusing on process not substance, but on which time is running out. The adviser’s take is that the Tories will whip against the “People’s Vote” and a Labour free vote will lead to the second referendum being defeated. He was not however aware of the possibility the Tories will push their version of a second referendum, and I was able to brief him on that.

Today I walked down to Tesco to get my milk and, as every day, I passed the huddle of homeless people who sleep in the close. It illustrated vividly how disconnected Westminster is from the very real problems of desperate poverty that exist in our society. Observing the UK in the last phases of decline of a once great Empire, with its entirely dysfunctional political system and its fractured society, I cannot shake the impression of how small and sordid it all is.

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542 thoughts on “Machiavellianism and Brexit

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  • Peter

    Very interesting Craig, thanks for this.

    “A Cabinet Office source tells me today No. 10 is considering agreeing a second referendum with three choices: No Deal Brexit, May’s Deal or No Brexit”

    Yes, no surprise that they might try for that. It’s the Remainers’ choice, as the two rubbish versions of Brexit offered have been so publicly trashed by both sides (leave & remain) of the media that Remain would be expected to win if that was the only offer, and it’s difficult not to conclude that May, as a Remain voter and backed by the Remain establishment, would be happy with that and would consider her work well done.

    “But I see a flaw.”

    Indeed, there are many, mostly determined by May’s and the governments utter detachment from reality which you mention later, and which, ironically, may yet turn out to be the nation’s saving grace.

    • fwl

      Peter – do you mean that because they are too incompetent to negotiate something half way decent we will just have to stay in after all?

      • Peter

        @ fwl

        No. I, reluctantly and with sadness, voted leave from a left-leaning view point and conviction – similarly to the views believed to be held by Jeremy Corbyn – and would vote the same way again in a referendum held tomorrow.

        My point was that as a Remain voter May may very well be happy to see Brexit rejected. By offering a referendum with a choice of only two rubbish versions of Brexit plus Remain such an objective would have its best chance of success. May’s deal has been roundly trashed by the entire media (leave & remain) and ‘no deal’ brexit has had round the clock dismissal on the BBC for as long as I can remember. A referendum offering only these two choices of Brexit would increase the likelihood of Remain’s success.

        Logically therefore, in the above context, from a leave point of view, a third Brexit option should be included, and many would call for, that of a renegotiated deal roughly along the lines of the ‘Canada option’.

        However, May’s and the government’s detachment from the real world, not for the first time, may yet be their undoing as their reliance on opinion polls, failure to learn the lessons of the referendum and the 2017 general election, and their overestimation of their own omnipotence may yet lead to unforeseen outcomes.

        But then again, there are some who believe the government knew what the result of the 2017 election would be beforehand and went ahead with it as they saw that as the best chance of stopping Brexit !!??

        Even the cabinet, we’re told, don’t know what is going on in May’s head.

        I really wish I did.

        • fwl

          Peter, I voted to leave. I continue to consider the possibilities and I try not to identify with how I voted or might vote in the future.

          Although I have learnt quite a bit there is still much I don’t know and haven’t understood. Perhaps I ought not to over think this as I have other stuff to do in life, but I do want to get my head around the alternatives and get a bird’s eye view, my own view of what I really think about each option. I haven’t really got much of a grasp of a no deal scenario and I only recently learnt that no deal means no just no deal with the EU would also take away our privileged access with the 50+ countries with whom we currently have privileged access as a result of our membership.

          I can’t help but think a no deal exit would be a little like the birth of a nation, but also very dangerous. We wouldn’t have loving parents and our big foster parents – US and EU are not so friendly as they were, and NATO has question marks over it. Even Japan seems to be having second thoughts about us. A new nation in a difficult environment needs a lot going for it: location, resources, perception, culture, relationships, people and luck. I think about Israel and more recently Palestine. Do we have the intelligence, guts, energy and courage of either of those nations because those qualities may be what we will require.

          There is another thing I think about that and that is the Chinese emphasis on what we might call disposition or tendency and making marginal but constant adjustments to stack the odds in one’s favour, whilst working hard. ie so that the disposition or direction is going your way, or beginning to go your way. Then when all the adjustments are made and the odds are with you it’s time for the big bold move. This is all a big bold move. Are the odds with us? have we made the adjustments? Is the timing right, or are we just a lot of silly buggers enjoying a bit of chaos at our own expense?

          I also like to think about what is going to happen anyway regardless of what I want.

          There are some who have complained that the Welfare state has been a mistake and that it will take a bloody big shock to change it. Well that may be about to occur: domestic shock and awe.

      • Borncynical


        Exactly! This is what frustrates me about people who are so eager to criticise us ‘Out’ voters, claiming that this mess just proves how misguided and wrong we were. We voted ‘Out’ on the assumption that competent people would be undertaking the negotiations, with sound legal advice and a solid understanding of all the available negotiating options and the implications. None of this has been evident; in fact all that is evident is that the UK Govt and its advisers are an incompetent, arrogant bunch of goons. We shouldn’t feel pushed into voting ‘remain’ – should there be a second referendum – just because of someone’s failure to do their job properly and with conviction. If that were the case what signal does that send to politicians who don’t agree with any policies democratically voted through in future? In such a political climate, we’re half way towards a dictatorship and most people don’t even realise it.

        • Piotr Berman

          We voted ‘Out’ on the assumption that competent people would be undertaking the negotiations, with sound legal advice and a solid understanding of all the available negotiating options and the implications. None of this has been evident; …

          This is bolstering Craig’s sentiments against referenda as a tool to make national decisions. Voters could have an idea about the level of competence (mediocre), the attitude to the legal advise (bury it whenever inconvenient) and the fractured state of the Tory party preventing it from sensible setting of priorities in negotiations — various MP cliques having various pet causes, but “hope springs eternal”, “surely the Brexit champions look a bit daft, but they could not possibly be as stupid as they appear”.

          However, the same may apply to Scottish independence: some “divorce settlement” would be needed, and the English hearts could be as hard as those in Brussels who needed to show the Continentals that leaving EU is a folly.

          • Peter

            @ fwl

            I think that the “big bold move” that we need is to elect a Corbyn lead government. I voted ‘leave’ in part because I believe the EU will do everything in its power to stifle such a government. Indeed there are reports that the EU has already been laying plans to do so in its negotiations with the UK government in anticipation of a future Corbyn government even after we have left the EU.

            From the Times:

            “Fear of Corbyn prompts tough EU line on Brexit

            “The prospect of a Corbyn-led government has led the EU to demand a mechanism that would hit Britain with trade tariffs, compensation demands and, in the event of fiscal policy to subsidise industry, measures to restrict British air traffic, grounding flights.”

            (Paywall, register to view two free articles per week.)

            I wouldn’t worry too much about a ‘no deal’ Brexit. Despite the fact that you hear about nothing else on the BBC I think it is extremely unlikely as there is an overwhelming parliamentary majority against it and credible doubts that May would ever go through with it.

            The threat is being maintained (by the government and by the BBC) to encourage as much support as possible for the May deal – that’s going well.

            It’s as if May is holding up a gun and saying “vote for me or the country gets it!”

            I don’t think even she is that pathological.

          • fwl

            That would be a big bold move, but I’m not sure that Jeremy Corbyn would be the person to lead it. There is something oddly similar about Corby and May, both are unpopular with their parties, both difficult to remove and both seemingly leaders in name only as their parties are not following them. Can’t help but think that a Corbyn administration would be as ineffective as May’s and that backbenchers will again hold the power. If this continues so that we have two successive administrations where the power is with the backbenchers not the front benchers it will be a rum state of affairs and other countries will be bemused that it’s not worth talking to those who purport to be in charge.

            As for the risk of a hard Brexit I am uncertain. Certainly a majority of MPs don’t want that, but there are others who do and I don’t know if they are puppet masters or just a group of plotters among many other groups with different aims.

          • Jo Dominich

            fwl – we’re nearly there actually. A minority Government being propped up by terrorists; a Prime Minister who has been held to be in contempt of Parliament, who has bypassed Parliament and her own Cabinet, an MSM that is the Tory Party’s official Propaganda machine with the suppression of truth at it’s core. Added to this a Government who has paid an intelligence organisation, the Integrity Initiative, hundreds of thousands of pounds to run a smear campaign against the Leader of the Opposition and the removal of any lines of dissents on blogs in the MSM – just to name a few characteristics of a Totalitarian State – we are it really. Don’t worry so much – it is here and happening.

          • Jo Dominich

            Peter, I think that is fake news myself – yet another piece of anti-Corbyn propaganda – all to detract away from this Government. My understanding is that the EU are very favourable towards Corbyn and his Brexit statements. Once again, Fake News strikes again and it is anti-Corbyn propaganda. Integrity initiative anyone? You bet it is!

  • giyane

    1/ Trump was right. Sue the EU.
    2/ Racism is not permitted in this country. Two things follow from this:

    a) Racism in the MSM is illegal;
    b) racism by politicians is illegal .e.g. Mrs May
    c) Racism will not be deemed a valid reason for leaving the EU

    Get the highest court in the land to enforce this existing law without fear or favour.

    Whoever’s left in parliament, MSM and in other responsible institutions such as trade unions, and trade organisations, but not Think-tanks, are given an opportunity to vote for a new policy.

    You’re not allowed to leave the EU because you hate Germans running the EU
    You’re not allowed to leave the EU because you hate immigrants in the UK
    You’re not allowed to be Scottish and hate the UK because of history.

    That’s me out because I don’t trust German politicians.

    The overwhelming majority of those left would be Remainers.

    Germany destroyed a whole generation of its own citizens because of a historical obsession with racism against the Jews. As Craig says , racism is poison, but every form of racism is delicious when you are in the in group and the ” other ” is being abused. That’s human nature , nasty, nastier and nastiest.

    So when Queen Bess2 told us to be nice to eachother I hope she didn’t mean everybody except her, thinking her exceptional position might entitle her at least to want to leave the EU.

    Look guys , politics has screwed up. It’s time to use another , better side of our human nature. Go out and hug a wog, preferably of the variety you get a buzz from hating. then come back inside heart glowing with spiritual growth and confident in the future.

    Even educated Muslims do it. Let’s fall in lerve.

    • Baalbek

      but every form of racism is delicious when you are in the in group and the ” other ” is being abused.

      Speak for yourself.

      That’s human nature

      No, it isn’t. It’s a choice people make.

    • bj

      every form of racism is delicious when you are in the in group and the ” other ” is being abused

      My tendency is to always root for the underdog.
      I hate Ueberdogs.

    • Blunderbuss

      @giyane 20:48

      If you go around hugging people, you are liable (a) to get beaten up or (b) to be accused of sexual abuse.

  • Goodwin

    I miss the once great Empire too. I would not have thought you to be a fellow imperialist!

  • Goodwin

    I thought I’d read that legislation only allowed for a 2-option referendum as we plebs are deemed too stupid to choose between 3 options. Patronising enough to be true?

    • giyane


      I, for one am much too politically stupid, thank God because politics is all lies, to complete a 3 -way vote.
      but surely that’s why the politicians will give us a 3-way, because we’re too stupid , Thank God because politics is all lies, to know how they will cheat us if we try it.

  • uncle tungsten

    In the first round No Brexit woul get over %55. That is my surmise and no second round or preference roll up need be.

    • SA

      I personally agree with you. After all this all those who voted remain will hopefully again vote no Brexit and the 52% will be split between those who have changed their mind and now want to remain and the two versions of the lemmings who want to jump off two different cliffs.

    • giyane

      uncle Tungsten

      As a soap-box for non-political ideas I have had to give up CK blog because it’s too rickety. I did squeeze myself into an attic today using a cat 5 cable box on top of a step-ladder to run a data cable in a loft.
      The Gospels and the Qur’an both say that what is in the heart will manifest itself in your actions. Which has been converted into political language as , wherever you put the red lines will determine the decision.

      Hence, if my comment is not excised by the mod committee or owner of CM blog, I propose people just tell us about their red lines, because that will automatically tell us their opinion.

      Then after that silent execution, quieter even than the sharpest guillotine, followed by the clunk of the head, or the slow freezing of a human being in a snow storm or the stars talking to us in delayed radio waves, the mod-snuffer snuffs out the life of the non-political idea without even leaving a full-stop on the page to show where it once was…

        • giyane

          I use first gear. When that wears out I use second.
          I have been thinking in the last few days just how come I came to be such a bloody awkward s**.
          Maybe my Jewish great-grandfather asked God to give him a believer or many believers in God in future generations..
          Maybe my Welsh grand-mother with whom often stayed as a child inculcated in me her love of faith and a Welsh poetic addiction.
          Maybe my great-great great grandfather who used to write to Robert Peel about the Corn laws in the 1840s had that bit of pit-bull DNA and passed it on to me.
          Maybe my first father-in-law who was locked up by Hitler for two years convinced me not to trust the Germans.
          All I can say regarding the future is that my children see the world as their oyster and Europe as their preferred choice of employer.
          Mrs May’s racist Brexit means absolutely nothing to me. I live in an Asian community. I am a southerner living in Birmingham. Why is this lunatic in charge of the country?
          We will not forgive the 19 who failed to exercise their commons sense.

      • bj

        I wonder if your imagery of the guillotine and the clunk are borne out of your using the crimp tool. 😉

        • giyane

          I have pulled in lots of data cable, on a boom, on weekends when there were no unions.
          I own a data cable crimper but have never used it. The machine for testing data is horrendously expensive. I only do electrical work to stay alive. As you see from my rant-raves, my mind is otherwise occupied, so my technical skills are still semi -stone-age.

  • Charles Bostock

    Craig, who lives in Edinburgh, which is in Scotland, writes movingly about the homeless people he runs across on his way to the Tesco.

    Is it the case that the prime responsibility for homeless people lies with the local authority?

    In this example, with Edinburgh city council – governed not by the Conservatives but by a SNP/Labour coalition?

    • giyane


      Craig is not a great fan of his local council.
      Please can you tell us what you would do about Brexit, so I can do the opposite.
      Warm regards

    • Jo Dominich

      Charles Bostock, no it is not the case at all. The case is that two successive Tory Governments has slashed Local Government funding so dramatically you have read yourself, surely, in the MSM, that three flagship Tory Councils are on the brink of declaring bankruptcy as they no longer have a sufficient level of funding to meet their obligations. Added to which of course, after Thatcher sold off council housing and set legislation so that Local Authorities could not spend the proceeds of those sales on building further social housing, there is very little housing stock left.

  • 123Bakery

    “They must go on voting until they get it right.”

    (Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission)

    • Blunderbuss

      “They must go on voting until they get it right.”

      Yes, that’s standard EU policy.

  • fwl

    I see that almost a year ago Guy Verhofstadt was suggesting that if we are not keen on a Canada type bilateral that we consider an Israeli type agreement. Apparently Barnier was also keen.

    Israel has negotiated free trade deals with many countries.

    • Laguerre

      A free trade deal is not the point. You haven’t understood. It’s the Single Market which permits the 10,000 lorries a day to pass without checking. Block that and you’re into problems.

      • Loony

        I wonder how many of those lorries are registered in Lithuania or Latvia? I wonder exactly what it is that Latvia and Lithuania are providing to the UK that is so essential for the ongoing maintenance of life.

        • Blunderbuss

          @Loony 22:13

          The main thing I get from Latvia is spam emails but I didn’t know they came in lorries.

      • fwl

        Laguerre. There is much I haven’t understood so fortunately I only have one vote. Trade deals are a significant part of this but there is much else. 1) how do we get to have what we need 2) do we need everything we think we need 3) what is going to happen if we don’t have everything we need 4) how are we going to sell stuff to other countries 5) what deals are we going to need to do to sell the goods and services we usually sell or might now begin to sell 6) what industries and services are going to be hammered 7) how are we going to compensate those industries and services and the people who worked in them and 8) what replacement services and goods can we get into 9) are we going to have to encourage any particular groups of skilled migrants to come here 10) are we going to need to change our education to meet our needs 11) out of the EU and facing some rough waters ahead on our own are we exposed to any security concerns and how are we going to deal with them 11) are we going to ensure that we protect the vulnerable and how will we do this and 12) what the feck are we going to do about quantitive easing. I am sure the list could go on and on.

  • Mary Pau!

    Remainers seem convinced a second referendum would lead to a sweeping change in electors views and a stonking win for remaining. it would have to be a win by a big margin as they have rubbished the ” narrow margin” and even the “low turnout” of the last one. ( Not sure how they challenge the turnout but there you go.,)

    I am sure any second referendum would include a great deal of doom mongering about brexit but would that be enough. ? are there any polls on the subject? also I think the Remainers, who are largely Haves, underestimate just how little many of the brexiteers have, in depressed regions, and how little they feel they have benefitted from EU membership. New factories in depressed regions, manned or woman by East Europeans, how does that compensate for no job, diminished sense of community and a feeling no political party cares.

    John Mann , who attempts to speak up for them, is sneered at by the intelligensia like Craig. Remainers would have us believe it is merely that the EU has an image problem and all the brexiteers troubles are caused by Tory austerity. Try telling that to workers whose jobs have been lost to cheaper Eastern Europeans workers whether coming here, or their jobs migrating to cheaper workforces in EU subsidised factories in Eastern Europe. will they vote in large numbers to remain next time round? I am not so sure.

    • fwl

      At least people will be better informed and have an idea as to what is on the table.

      If a 2nd referendum were to take place after the EU May elections then voters will be able to consider what they make of the EU. It may not have changed, but if as feared right wing popularists are elected in large numbers in Germany and France (as well as in Hungary, Poland the Czech Republic) then some remainers and some brexiteers may find themselves swapping sides.

        • fwl

          Ok thanks I hadn’t seen that- well we will see what happens. Presumably if they think it will result in a remain vote they might be open to it but perhaps not otherwise or if they think its a negotiating ploy. I suppose there is also be a concern to keep a lid on the UK and Brexit and although I can’t tell a lot from a tweet, perhaps Guy Verhofstadt is worried about contagion especially in the context of worries about a populist vote in May i.e. not wanting 1/2 of Europe negotiating new terms and establishing forks off the main EU superhighway.

    • Iain Stewart

      Song for Mary
      “The sun beams down on a brand new day
      No more welfare tax to pay
      Unsightly slums gone up in flashing light
      Jobless millions whisked away
      At last we have more room to play
      All systems go to stigmatise the poor tonight”
      (Old misprint)

    • Coldish

      Mary Pau!: “…Try telling that to workers whose jobs have been lost to cheaper Eastern Europeans workers whether coming here, or…`’.
      If home-grown workers really cannot afford to apply for advertised jobs one solution is for the state to increase the legal minimum wage. Other possible solutions are for the state to provide more low-cost secure rented housing close to workplaces and better public transport. None of these will ever happen under Tory rule, but they might happen under Corbynite Labour (or even Scot Nat) rule.

      • MaryPau!

        it is not mere!y that they cannot afford to apply for local jobs it is that they do not get the chance. Jobs are offered directly to east Europeans, either by employers recruiting direct from eastern Europe or by jobs being transferred to EU subsidised factories in eastern Europe.

      • Borncynical

        “If home-grown workers really cannot afford to apply for advertised jobs one solution is for the state to increase the legal minimum wage…”
        Unfortunately this is missing the point for many individuals affected by cheap immigrant labour. From the age of 16 my ex-partner did an indentured apprenticeship (6 or 7 years?) and college study to become a fully qualified, self employed installation electrician. He had to attend college periodically thereafter to learn about changes to the legislation and pass exams until the day he retired after 44 years work. Although self-employed in a small company partnership with his friend from college days, much of his industrial and commercial work was obtained through sub-contracting to well known large construction companies. In the past twenty five years or so he was struggling to get contracts because, quite simply, other companies were undercutting his quotes. They could do this because they were employing unqualified eastern Europeans cheaply, using cheap inferior quality materials, and getting one of the company’s senior managers to ‘sign off’ their work without even checking what they had done. This practice was evident throughout all the building trades on site leading, among other things, to health and safety risks both to workers and their clients. He told me one time that he had been expected to fix a large industrial air-conditioning unit to a newly built internal wall. He said to the site foreman that the wall had not been tied in correctly (erected by Eastern European ‘brickies’) and would not be able to take the weight of the unit. The foreman told him not to ask questions but get on with it. My partner simply put his foot against the wall, pushed lightly and brought the wall crashing down to prove his point!
        My point is that fully qualified, experienced and good self-employed tradesmen, earning good money (far above minimum wage) are being priced out of the market and do not have any recourse to benefits because they are self-employed. And, as I have explained, it is not just about money… the standard of construction in this country, domestic, commercial and industrial has been rapidly deteriorating over the years resulting in significant health and safety risks to all of us. Think about that next time you hear in the press about walls collapsing or gas appliances exploding.

        • Blunderbuss

          @Borncynical 22:55

          “Think about that next time you hear in the press about walls collapsing or gas appliances exploding”.

          …or tower blocks burning.

        • Jo1

          In Scotland there have been problems with major buildings constructed under PFI whereby new (built into the contract) regulations applied. It allowed developers to sign off their own work without independent checks!

        • Coldish

          Borncynical: thank you for your reply. What you describe sounds like criminal negligence on the part of the large construction companies which you refer to. This is not an issue for which restricting immigration provides a solution. It requires stricter regulation of practices on large construction sites – anathema perhaps to the Tories and New Labour, but an essential reform nonetheless

          • Borncynical

            I agree it’s certainly standards controls that are seriously lacking rather than an issue with immigration per se.

            For clarification and digressing somewhat, the reason I refer to ‘cheap immigrant labour’ is because the nature of the construction business (and quite likely agriculture as well) currently lends itself to exploiting such workers. Again, from my ex partner’s experience and observations with regard to labouring trades (bricklaying, plastering) in particular, it was apparent to him that these workers were often answerable to a ‘Mr Big’ of their own nationality. These ‘Mr Bigs’ would approach the construction companies and offer to find them the required number of ‘skilled tradespeople’ at a competitive price. A month later when the job began [30 or whatever] ‘tradespeople’ would turn up, saving the parent company the job of shopping around and negotiating pay among different trades which has always previously been the convention in the industry, and knowing that they were paying rock bottom prices because the ‘foreigners’ were more than happy. Behind the scenes ‘Mr Big’ was arranging accommodation in sardine cans for the workers and taking 80% of their wages off them, at the same time issuing threats to make trouble for them if they grumbled – I should add that there was no suggestion that they were illegal immigrants. My ex saw some workers handing over money surreptitiously to a ‘Mr Big’ and – it being in his nature! – he asked them outright if they were being extorted. They said something to the effect of “We’ll get in trouble if we say anything”. It’s difficult to suggest a solution to this which would benefit the exploited workers. But that’s a whole different topic for discussion another time!

    • SA

      Mary Paul
      No doom mongering is needed. The fact that it took a strong and stable PM 2 years not to come up with a credible Brexit appears to be neither here nor there from what you say.
      The problems that you outline are also ‘project fear’ but they include fear of others as the main problem.
      So think of it this way. All members of the EU now can live in an enlarged space and will have the right to do so in 26 countries. The movement of people is then purely dictated by economic factors, are there jobs, is there prosperity and likelihood of growth? This happens everywhere even within Britain there are depressed and less prosperous areas. The long term answer is for enterprise to then see the advantage of the suppressed areas and develop them, cheaper land, more space etc…
      and try and make them more competitive.
      So in case you wonder where I am getting to I must now say that this is unfortunately how the current system works. It’s called capitalism and is based on pure exploitation and greed.
      Sorting this out cannot be done by just rejecting one aspect of capitalism but by changing the whole flawed system.
      Now let us have a though experiment: think of the EU remodelled on a socialist model. This will mean that the single market is not only about the strong getting stronger and eating the weak, depopulating Bulgaria and bringing Greece to its knees, but instead funding these underdeveloped countries and bringing them up to the same level so that everyone benefits. Unfortunately this would also mean some increased alignment of what we can loosely term governance so that standards of elections, banks and social institutions have some parity . These were supposed to have been conditions of accession to start with but somewhere after the collapse of the Soviet Union these principles were ditched in favour of quick accession of previous east block countries so that these countries can join NATO. The economic and social aspects of the EU were therefore forgotten in favour of the military aims. Witness how Ukraine is being prepared to become an EU member by first being utterly militarised and then utterly ruined. When it finally accessed the EU, if it ever does, there will be rich pickings, and not for the Ukrainians. Witness how some parts of the Balkans are being groomed to join the EU despite serious corruption and worse.
      So my rant should really conclude by declaring that I should really be anti EU and advocate Brexit. But why am I a remainer? Because you cannot destroy a manifestation of a wider problem, neoliberal capitalism, without changing the cause. Britain Outside the EU will loose all the advantages of being in a bigger protected region whilst still being attached to NATO. Britain not the EU will be the one to suffer and the system will remain. The EU may be one hope if changed from within for achieving this destruction of neoliberalism.

      • Mary Pau!

        All quite true. Unfortunately the EU has long since moved away from any socialist or maybe democratic socialist ideals to become neo liberal. No doubt helped along by all the lobbyists in Brussels and the gravy train to private sector jobs for ex top Eurocrats and MEPs. I see little prospect of this changing in the near future indeed we seem to be moving or being moved to a sort of dictatorship by Brussels. would Corbyn change this? Would any current EU leader of a leading political party.?

        The whole system has become a political juggernaut like the thousands of diesel lorries driving all over the EU daily burning fossil fuels to truck goods to countries which could once have made them successfully internally. While we the populations are being exhorted to reduce emissions. EU voters can see this hence the rise of populism . Forthcoming elections will be interesting.

        • Jo Dominich

          Mary Paul, the EU is not a large juggernaut – as the Press like us to believe. It is a bloc of 27 countries with a set of rules and regulations that govern their inter-relations these being agreed by the elected members and diplomats who make up the Council. It is the same for the USA isn’t it? They are a nation of 51 States, each with their own Legislature and elected Governors but with a set of Rules and Regulations that govern their federal relationships.

  • Den Lille Abe

    I have not been to Britain for 17 years. Homeless huddled in the streets? That is surely an exaggeration?! This is the EU and we are rich nations? Median income has exploded through 17 years in Denmark and Sweden. We have become mighty wealthy.
    What happened in the UK ?

    • giyane

      Den Lille Abe

      Mrs Thatcher became offensive, so a series of wets took over, including one of the most offensive of the Thatcher spawn Ian Duncan-Smith, whom Craig admires.
      Then came Brown who continued the bad practices of Thatcher banking long, long after he had no excuse not to do anything about it.
      In 2008 he re-financed all the banks who claimed they had nothing, while in fact they had.
      We have not yet forgiven new labour for being soft on the Tories, when they in their turn are prepared to blackmail us again 10 years later by threatening us with a massive hike in prices from EY tariffs. and the rest.

      We are stuck with a man of peace in Corbyn who addresses our concerns about Zionist Foreign Policy but who has absolutely nothing to say about economics. And a Shadow Chancellor who knows nothing about foreign Policy , even down to believing the Tory lies about Russia and the Skripals .

      If Jeremy Corbyn had come to power in 1997, we would be exactly like you are in Denmark and Sweden, but as it is we have to pay for privatisation of national assets, the 30 year destruction of the enemies of Israel, all the money in the banks they said they didn’t have any more, plus, Bingo Ball a trident upgrade.

      The only mentally sane ones among us live in doorways in city centres. All the rest of us lunatics still trust politicians not to invent ever more opaque and disastrous lies.

      • giyane

        Like the explorer who got shaken apart several times over in the teeth of a rogue hippo, the doctor said:
        ” You are the sum total of all the decisions you have made in your life ”
        and the explorer replied:
        ” Doc, could we try Minimum Intervention, at this stage please ? ”

        That’s what I recommend over Brexit. Cancel it. Get rid of the savage Zionist Tories of all colours who created all of the above catastrophes, and when we’ve sorted ourselves out, see if we want to remain or leave the EU.

      • Jo Dominich

        Giyane, you are wrong about Corbyn. He has, if you watch Prime Ministers Question time, a very good grasp of economics and foreign policy – the only thing is that it is not what the old established order want to hear. The Labour Party Manifesto is fully costed whilst the Conservative one is not costed at all. He understand that world politics are more out of control than ever before with a megalomaniac in the White House. He is right to advocate for Peace because wars, driven by the fiscal needs of the USA, are destroying nations and countries and lead to USA control of those countries by covert operations. So, he has said under a Labour Government, the UK will not blindly follow everything the USA do and certainly will not be engaging in their phoney wars. He has recently appointed a Minister for Peace and Disarmament – a good move for any Leader of the Opposition – because peace in our times must be a paramount consideration. So your analysis of him is wrong on many levels

    • Coldish

      Den Lille Abe: “What happened in the UK ?”. What has happened is 6 hard years of Tory austerity under Cameron and Osborne, followed by 2 and a half years of Tory austerity coupled with xenophobia under May. Yes, there’s plenty of money around, but it breaks the heart of Tories to see any of it going to the poor.

    • Clark

      Den Lille Abe, no, it’s not an exaggeration. When I go shopping in Chelmsford I’ll usually see about ten homeless people, often more. Chelmsford is a wealthy town (officially a city now, but it seems like just a town).

      It isn’t all down to the Tory and coalition governments; it started under New Labour. It’s in Scotland too; lots of homeless people in Edinburgh.

  • Charles Bostock

    On 23 December Craig Murray tweeted as follows :

    “Apparently the police have found a damaged drone. Now wait for the government to announce it is of a Russian design, or the software has been traced to the GRU. Incoming bullshit alert.”

    There was no such government announcement, of course.

    Of course, Mr Murray will tell us his tweet was “just a joke”,

    • giyane


      Thank you for reminding us of that important Craig bull-shit alert. it did take several years of Mr Skripal living near Porton Down, and defeat of our proxies in Syria by Russia, for the wonks in Downing street to come up with that one. Please could you remind us of Craig’s timely warnings at regular intervals so we can be ready when they dump on us that particular package of brown lies

    • Borncynical

      But there would most probably have been such an announcement but for three embarrassing pronouncements: first, the policeman who claimed that it was quite possible that the reported drones didn’t actually exist – for one thing there were no images to back up the claims; and, second, the policeman (not sure if it was the same one) who subsequently said that if there had been a drone it may well have been a police drone going about its normal functions; and, third, the person (unfortunately I don’t know who as this was relayed to me secondhand) who said that it might well have been a drone which had been given official authority to be deployed in the area. Rather than coming up with suggestions that Craig doesn’t know what he’s talking about you might consider whether there could be good ‘self defence’ reasons why the Government has chosen not to make more of the incident?

  • Sharp Ears

    O/T but this staggering fact has just emerged on the excellent BBC2 Hospital programme.

    Last year the NHS paid the ‘private sector’ £9 billion for treatment of patients.

    • Loony

      Yeah so what?

      Have you not worked out that the NHS has been co-opted to act as a transmission mechanism for public money to flow into private hands. Take a look at the pharmaceutical industry and see the vast flow of public money into private hands.

      The only salvation lies in smashing and destroying the entire rotting edifice that is the NHS. The most hilarious thing is that this will never happen due to unyielding public support for the NHS. In other words unyielding public support to hollow out a public service and divert all meaningful cash flows into the hands of oligarchical elites.

      If you support the NHS then you support accelerating wealth inequality and the enrichment of the parasitical classes. Way to go !!

      • SA

        We support an NHS that is a true NHS before Blair got his filthy hands on it and started the slow underhand dismantling and converting it into a cash cow for his cronies who still sit on all the major consortiums of the private health industry. As an aside this is another major crime committed by Blair that has been buried because of the other bigger genocidal crime.
        Is your unswerving to have a system like the US where treatment can only be given after you produce your credit card?

  • Goose

    1st and 2nd preference – the supplementary vote(SV), used in London’s Mayoral election contest makes logical sense , but only if there are two options on both sides of the debate:

    May’s deal
    No Deal


    EEA type (Norway)

    • giyane

      1/ May’s deal – not going to happen. ( 230 )

      2/ No deal – is only okay after the Tories lose power because while we can live with tariffs for the sake of independence, we cannot allow the Tories to re-patriate UK law from brussels and scrap our inherited rights as UK citizens. Only Corbyn Labour can be trusted with No deal. Too risky ImHO

      3/ Remain – live to see another day

      4/ EEA Norway – one or two very rich people won’t be able to make billions out of new trade deals.

      So it’s a straight choice between 3 and 4., Remain or EEA.

      That’s why the Nasty party wants us to choose between 1 and 2, No deal or slavery for ever to both the EU and Big brother, who are probably two heads of the same troll.

      Whatever happens Jeremy Corbyn must refuse 1 and 2, No deal or May’s deal.
      He’s playing his cards exactly right at the moment and I wish him success for his only politically possible outcome Brexit + Norway plus. The Tories MUST go.

      • Goose

        Yeah, I know, May’s deal is deeply unpopular and shouldn’t by any right be there after going down so heavy(230). But she’s so stubborn it’d probably have to be on any ballot as a condition from them.

        I agree on Corbyn, he hasn’t been panicked.into playing the game as May wants. Although as Portillo just said(honestly imho) at some point he needs to pick at those red lines if he’s really going to cause the Tories difficulties. Having no position risks losing the PLP.

    • SA

      We support an NHS that is a true NHS before Blair got his filthy hands on it and started the slow underhand dismantling and converting it into a cash cow for his cronies who still sit on all the major consortiums of the private health industry. As an aside this is another major crime committed by Blair that has been buried because of the other bigger genocidal crime.
      Is your unswerving to have a system like the US where treatment can only be given after you produce your credit card?

    • SA

      I can’t really see how May’s deal can be put back on any choice after being rejected by an almost two thirds majority by the House of Commons.

  • Mist001

    I sometimes wonder if homelessness and unemployment is an actual thought out plan. Think of it this way, people see homeless people then they hear about immigrants coming to the UK and maybe think ‘Well, where are they going to live? Where are they going to work? We don’t even have homes and jobs for the people already here.’

    And so homelessness and unemployment have become weaponised by design to be deployed against immigration, to keep Johnny Foriegner at bay.

    • Loony

      That must be the answer. What else could explain the fact that 60% of the homeless people in London are foreign nationals. Must be explained by the fact that London has the ideal climate for living outside – so much more clement that Seville for example.

      • Blunderbuss

        “What else could explain the fact that 60% of the homeless people in London are foreign nationals”.

        Maybe 60% of the population of London are foreign nationals?

    • bj


      Homelessness and unemployment are byproducts of the dealings of a class of people that are incapable of any other considerations than “this is the best of all possible worlds”.

  • Alyson

    Labour’s Brexit, not No Deal, should be on a ballot, if there is to be another referendum. Business and unions have stated categorically that they want Britain to remain in the customs union, for jobs and trade. It is the only Brexit that keeps frictionless borders in Ireland

    • Goose

      If you have two Brexiter options(no deal/May’s deal)and two Remainer options (Remain and EEA+) You’ve covered all the bases really .

      Labour would support EEA + with the ‘+’ being some customs arrangement. Tbh, I think Remain would win outright as the favour option.

      • SA

        I am also deeply concerned about a functioning border with France but this seems to be forgotten.

    • Ken Kenn

      No Deal is not a deal.

      May’s deal is smouldering in the grate- she is trying to rescue it and save some pages with the assistance of Vince Incapable ( one of the Lib Dems co-authors of austerity) and the SNP aided and abetted by Plaid and one Green.

      Cable has just handed May another 11 Lib Dems to add to her existing 10 DUP majority.

      Scratch a Liberal and you’ll find a Tory.

      Once the electorate figure out what’s gong on here – the resuscitation of May’s amended deal ( still complete with the Red Lines )and the public exposure of the Corporal Jones imitators a price will be paid.

      May might even think about going for an election eventually after assurances from Vince and his mates.

      If she won that wave a Referendum bye bye.

      In fact wave bye bye to any pretence of the Tories ending austerity.

      Brexit is a part and the result of austerity not the whole.

      Corbyn’s started with anti austerity and Brexit as its part and everyone else has started with the important but narrow part of Brexit and no longer talks about austerity.

      The public will know this and vote accordingly.

      Brexit is the wrong place to start and will end in the wrong place.

      Cart before the horse.

      • SA

        Cable also helped with the disorganisation of the health purposes for the enrichment of the already filthy rich and corporations. Having been decimated by their association with the Tories Vince does not seem to have learnt his lesson.

      • Rowan Berkeley

        @Ken Kenn: “Scratch a Liberal and you’ll find a Tory.”
        Well, bourgeois is as bourgeois does. The sanctity of private property always wins out in the end.

    • Blunderbuss

      So, if the Irish backstop becomes permanent, Labour’s Brexit and May’s Brexit are exactly the same.

  • Tessa Gray

    I only want to quible about one thing. That is the description of Britain as a “once great empire”. There wasn’t much great about it and Africa, Asia and the middle East are still experiencing the dreadful fallout.

    • giyane

      Vince cable is a full-time pimp (political) as was his deceased. At least they only accused Alex Salmond of having a misunderstanding.
      What can you do with a (political) pimp? Oh say the feminists, pimps nothing , we pimp night and day. Who gives you the right to criticise paying for (political) sex by men or women?

  • Tessa Gray

    The only thing I want to pick on is your description of Britain as a “once great empire”. There wasn’t much great about it and Africa, Asia and the middle East are still paying the price.

    • Paul Barbara

      @ Tessa Gray January 17, 2019 at 22:09
      I thought the same thing, but decided not to comment. I’m sure Craig knows full well the barbarism and pillaging of Empire.

  • Mist001

    I just got an email from The Greens and even they don’t get it. I clicked on the link to be taken to their webpage which announces:

    ‘Keep Scotland In Europe’.

    When are these people either going to grasp the fact, or tell the truth to the Scottish people that the only way that Scotland can remain as part of Europe is by remaining a part of the UK? Independence means that Scotland will be out and have no part to play in Europe until such time as it applies and is ACCEPTED to become a member.

    The SNP certainly don’t tell people this and neither do the Greens.

    Why not?

    • kathy

      Haven’t you heard? The UK is leaving Europe. Besides, EU spokesmen have been signalling that Scotland would not have a problem staying.

          • Jo1

            FGS stop being hysterical, no one is calling anyone a liar.
            No one is saying Scotland couldn’t join, if independent. What Scotland can’t do, however, is automatically stay in the EU when the UK leaves. Scotland would be leaving as part of the UK. The UK is the member. We’ve been over this a million times since Indyref1. Scotland would presumably reapply in its own right.

          • Jo1

            Oh fine, Kathy, behave like a child!

            I’m actually focused on facts. You’re making EXACTLY the same mistake made in 2014 when it was claimed Scotland could just waltz into the EU, no problem. That wasn’t true then and it isn’t now. And you do no one any favours by misleading folk.

            We would need to reapply and there is a process and entry criteria to consider. And that’s not straightforward. We should have learned from the last time what the pitfalls were and not go tripping up all over again next time.

            If people are to be won over next time it’s to be hoped that YES, please God, will have learned how NOT to go about it.

          • kathy

            Since a lot of the UK resources such as oil and fish are actually Scottish resources, I doubt the EU would want to lose that. Also, in 2014, there was little threat of the UK leaving so entirely different circumstances from the present.

          • Jo1

            The circumstances aren’t different Kathy.

            I’m not saying we wouldn’t get in as an independent country. I’m saying there’s a process to go through and criteria to meet involving various things, including currency. I don’t think the process is fast, plus, if Scotland wins independence there will be negotiations to be had with rUK first. Those will take time too.

  • Francis Urquhart Barr

    I can’t see how the SNP could support this, because once such an approach becomes established, it will be re-used to gerrymander the outcome of IndyRef2.

  • FranzB

    CM – “… with its entirely dysfunctional political system and its fractured society, I cannot shake the impression of how small and sordid it all is. ”

    Indeed – ahead of question time, I tuned in to Radio 5’s pre QT programme. They had someone called Sophie Jarvis on. She’s head of government affairs at the Adam Smith Institute. The subject turned to Ken Clarke’s views on Brexit. Sophie Jarvis said (at about 10.25 p.m.) – “Ken Clarke would sell his grandma’s skin for a lampshade if he thought it would get him closer to the EU”. Sordid indeed.

    • Jo1

      I had planned to watch but didn’t last long. I find Isabel Oakshotte intolerable and, of course, I just knew Diane Abbott wouldn’t help. During the part I did catch I was shocked to see Fiona Bruce barracking Abbott from one side while Oakshotte did the same from the other. I switched over.

      • Sharp Ears

        Behind the scenes on Derby. This is appalling.

        Aaron Bastani
        Twitter › AaronBastani
        I’m told that prior to broadcast of tonight’s #bbcqt Fiona Bruce came out, introduced herself to audience and gave a 10 minute talk. Proceeded to make jokes about Dianne Abbott which were ‘in reality appaling’ then in rehearsal the floor manager did the same thing. Abysmal.
        7 hours ago

  • mark hamilton

    The abysmal state of the country, caused by Tory intransigence and eye-watering incompetence must surely be the major cause of their inevitable downfall. It’s a painful and tragic experience but a truly necessary one…May & the terrible Tories must go!

  • Adrian Parsons

    “Observing the UK in the last phases of decline of a once great Empire…”

    The British Empire was only ever “great” in the sense that it managed to “redistribute” untold wealth from the periphery to the centre. Deaths in India under British rule at c.35M are merely the worst example of its “benevolence”, as detailed, for example, by Richard Gott in Britain’s Empire: Resistance, Repression and Revolt (

  • Colin Alexander

    The people of Scotland are sovereign but, we were forced into a binary choice in 2014: Remain a colony v independence

    We remain sovereign, even though the people rejected full independence in 2014 that was an act of sovereignty. So why couldn’t they have been able to decide to make Holyrood as the Parliament representing Scotland’s sovereignty and declare the House of Lords defunct or unrecognised by Scotland, as it is undemocratic. I’m sure many across the UK would have welcomed Scotland sacking the House of Lords.

    The effect being that Holyrood would have to give its consent to any UK Parliament legislation, Scottish Parliament Assent instead of Royal Assent.

    We now have a Commons where Scots MPs are second class MPs, we could have had a Commons where all UK MPs are second class MPs and Scotland’s MSPs represented our sovereignty and so could overrule unfair legislation.

    I know that would never be acceptable, it would be like treating England like a colony. So why has it been accepted when Scotland is treated like a colony and our sovereignty is overruled by unelected Lords?

    If we are sovereign enough to create the Union, we are sovereign enough to change it, re-write it or dissolve it or whatever option the sovereign people decide. It shouldn’t be take it or leave it referendum, Best scaremonger and best false predictions wins: Winner takes all.

    However, since then, the Union is even more toxic to Scotland. Best to dissolve it completely.

    It’s just a pity the SNP are busy trying to save the UK, instead of trying to save Scotland.

    • kathy

      It’s just a pity the SNP are busy trying to save the UK, instead of trying to save Scotland.

      That is very weird. Surely that is shooting themselves in the foot?

      • Jo1

        It’s not weird. They are defending the Scottish Remain vote which came from voters of all political persuasions across Scotland. They’re members of the UK Parliament with 35 MPs. Are you seriously suggesting they shouldn’t be bothering? I think they’d be shooting themselves in the foot if they did nothing.

  • JMF

    Keep in mind that about half the eurozone is already in an economic recession and then ask yourself how will things improve. And yet there is still not one politician who understands or is prepared to address the fact that once interest rates collapse, the economy will follow.

  • Dungroanin

    The Machevellians are joined at the hip across the planet.
    Here’s one opinion from the US, from Colonel Laing.
    “4. IMO this collection of actions when added to whatever Clapper, Brennan and “the lads” of the Deep State were doing with the British intelligence services amount to an attempted “soft coup” against the constitution and from the continued stonewalling of the FBI and DoJ the coup is ongoing. pl”

    There is no such thing as a unsurpassable crisis of a British Government (not under actual military attack on the mainland) which isn’t initially referred to the voters to decide on new manifestos to pick from. It doesn’t matter if there was an election 6 months before. We get to elect another parliament if the current one is ineffective or failed in it’s main policy.

    The rush to a over the rainbow another referendum, now with bells and whistles is a downright dirty DS/MSM attempt at subverting a natural GE that can be done and dusted in 4 weeks – well before the A50 deadline. It can cover ALL issues.
    But that would install a Labour govt.
    A coup is what we are experiencing and the velvet glove is being removed.

    The people will not take kindly to much more of this.

    • Jo1

      Actually Dun-G, I wonder about “the people” these days. So many are completely disengaged anyway. Take whatever rubbish that’s thrown at us. That’s why this shower get away with it.

      • Dungroanin

        We are treated like the frog in a pan being slowly heated till we boil to death.

        I am finding that people appear disengaged because they believe in leadership doing good for the country – until it is obvious that is a lie – that is the british way.

        My conversations are proving that from the brightest oxbridge types to the basic working man, people are frustrated, angered and finally listening to how the manipulations have/are beng worked on them.

        Last night I was able to convince several that parliamentry democracy (PD) demands we have an election – one said if we have PD why the hell did Cameron call a referendum – EUREKA – the light bulb went on. It was a con from day one!

        People are getting it – and every extra day of not having a GE to reassert PD is a day they will get angrier – when they leap from the pan it will be straight for the cooks throat!

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