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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  • sam

    The global elite have no intention of letting the UK leave, as hs become very apparent
    The 2nd referndum will be rigged and the vote will be to remain, job done, just like any other country that was foolish enough to give its citizens the vote
    The EU is not a democracy but many people do not want to understand
    The UK will go down with the sinking EU ship

    • michael norton

      Well, let’s have a few guesses, lack of any meaningful democracy, making people vote again, till they come up with the wanted result, breaking Greece, stopping the Italians having the P.M. they want, not sorting out the migrant problems, the Euro, starting the European Army,
      how am I doing?

    • Jo Dominich

      Sam, I don’t see any evidence that the EU is a sinking ship at all – I see it as united in fact. It is not the EU that is responsible for the dire situation in this country and the fact we do not currently have any sort of representative democracy with a PM who is contemptuous of Parliament and the people and is propped up in Government by 10 fanatics. I will say that thank God for Jeremy Corbyn and the MPs of the PLP and the rebel Tory MPs who voted down the unsatisfactory deal May secured. I am heartened though to see that the MPs in Parliament are actually in the best interests of the British Nation and have tabled two key amendments that would break this deadlock and democratically put to Parliament indicative votes on various options to gain an idea as to Parliament believe to be the best option for the Country. At a time when we are rapidly moving to a Single Party state, rapidly creeping Fascism, a PM acting more like a Dictator and a Government that has paid hundreds of thousands of pounds to an organisation to run an organised smear campaign against the Leader of the Opposition, I am truly truly heartened and have more hope than I have had in the past two years that our Parliament and its cross party, sensible, intelligent members are moving to take control of Brexit negotiations. This is representative democracy at work for once in many many years. I say this to the MPs – really think about what is best for this nation in terms of preservation of jobs, what is best for Ireland and NI, creation of jobs, significant improvement in the economy and preserving the best of the EU legislation we have. PS the EU is not a sinking ship at all, it is going from strength to strength whilst we are the ones that are, at present, barely able to keep our heads above water.

      • A.Richards

        Have you read in relation to the formation of the EU State from conception in 1950 as IC&S,Consortium . Monett.
        Richard Von Coudenhove- Kalergi
        The 1922 pan national european plan ?
        Well this is the Plan on which the EU state is modelled , promoted by tge Pope and Vatican !!
        Its not dead …its in fact re introduced in UN Agenda 21 1992 and agenda 2030
        Pay particular attention to the section “Depopulation”
        The UN is a military arm.of the Black Nobilities Deep State . NATO. ( The North Atlantic Terrorist Organisation ) Is a war machine wholly owned by the UN Thsts,why Trump pulled the financial support / funding .
        Do some research
        British Gov. ? CROWNGATE.
        The control of America from City of London for the last 250 years has ended .
        US cast off the UK and commonwealth 5EYES went dark ,in Sept 2018 RAF Cleave nr Bude went dead .!!! Look it all up get educated .
        Media and TV is all poison soup to feed you and dumb you down confuse you while they do as they plan .

    • A.Richards

      Read this and you might better understand ,

      What May is all about she is named along with Merkel .
      You have to watch Donald Trump he is working for the American people and the British people indirectly .

      Watch utube Gabriel and McKibben explain
      All the Queens men , and Crown Tavistock and the overthrow of Donald Trump .
      Trumps winning and you gotta hope he does !!! Or e are all dead

  • A.Richards

    This is all babble to distract you all.
    You are all viewing downward. Stood on the lower rungs of the ladder that your climbing .
    Your on rung 6 and there are 33 or more rungs as you rise your view of the ground and surroundings becomes different .
    At rung 33 you will have a totally different view .

    In information terms keep climbing .
    Read this follow the money always the money and the control.

    It might seem as you start to read irrelivant I assure you its not irrelivant .at the end of ten min reading you will say OH!!!

    Follow what is happening in US not in What media is spewing out about UK -EU

        • Clark

          Another conspiracy theorist; note the “go educate yourself (sheeple)” line. I see the Agenda 21 depopulation / anti-United Nations conspiracy theory above. I hadn’t actually heard of the “black nobility” theory before. This sort of stuff seems to be overwhelming rational thought. I’m starting to think that there’s no way of addressing it.

          • Clark

            I try not to believe anything about matters that ultimately resolve to facts – though obviously it’s impossible to know all the relevant facts. I try to reserve belief for matters of opinion, ethics, etc. For instance I believe that people should have equal rights; I believe in being honest. My acceptance of, say, anthropogenic global warming is not a belief in that sense, because new evidence or a more compelling theory would lead me to change my position. Anthropogenic global warming is not a matter of opinion; either human activity is causing the world to accumulate more heat, or it isn’t. That comes down to facts, no matter what anyone thinks about the matter.

            What did you think I believe, that you think is a conspiracy theory?

          • Blunderbuss

            @Clark 23:48

            1) That people who don’t believe in man-made global warming are part of a conspiracy funded by fossil-fuel companies.

            2) That people who question the safety of vaccines are part of a conspiracy motivated by the desire to kill people.

          • Clark

            Blunderbuss, the corporate operation to manufacture doubt about climate science is well evidenced and documented, as was the tobacco industry’s operation to manufacture doubt that smoking is the major cause of lung cancer.

            I think I wrote that people who promote the anti-vaccination conspiracy theory effectively (ie. informally) conspire. In fact, my experience is that the promoters of any given conspiracy theory informally conspire with each other against critics, and quite frequently informally conspire to promote each other’s conspiracy theories too You certainly seem to.

            Such behaviour looks to be psychological projection.

          • Clark

            You told me you had read Bad Science, and found the book itself to be bad science. What science did you find to be bad, and in what way?

          • Clark

            You can’t remember a single thing? Given your commitment to honesty (above), I think the word “read” must have very different meanings to us.

          • Clark

            To help jog your memory – electrolytic foot spas, ear candles, ‘Brain Gym’ exercises in state schools, the marketing claims for cosmetics and how the wording gets past regulators, homeopathy, the placebo effect, ‘nutritionists’ including Gillian McKeith and Prof. Patrick Holford, “Pill Solves Complex Social Problem”, “How the Media Promote the Public Misunderstanding of Science”, “Why Clever People Believe Stupid Things”, “Bad Stats” and “Health Scares”.

            Ring any bells?

          • Blunderbuss

            @Clark 12:19

            I didn’t want to comment until I had re-read the book but now I have looked at the website it confirms my opinion. BG appears to be a fanatical campaigner against alternative medicine.

            There are plenty of potty ideas in alternative medicine but that does not mean that all alternative medicine is potty.

          • Clark

            Oh yes, of course, the alternative to evidence, to facts, is opinion.

            So go jump off that high building, because my opinion is that you’ll be able to fly several miles by drifting on your armpit hairs.

            If you have read that book, which I strongly doubt you did in any meaningful sense, you clearly failed to understand the slightest thing from it.

          • Clark

            Attitudes like yours are wrecking our world, yet you have not the slightest twinge of conscience about it. Indeed, you positively seem to revel in it.

          • Clark

            Look, the problem is summarised in your own statement:

            “There are plenty of potty ideas in alternative medicine but that does not mean that all alternative medicine is potty”

            And some of those potty ideas kill people or cause them unnecessary suffering. But not everyone can be an expert, so someone has to advise. On what should they base their advice, if not evidence?

            Encouraging the likes of Paul Barbara to spread his anti-vax conspiracy theories is as irresponsible as encouraging people to fly by jumping off high buildings.

          • Clark

            Here in microcosm we see reflected the entire human tragedy. An argument can be proven wrong to the nth power, yet still the ego which promotes it struggles for its supremacy, by any means available.


            – Mumps, measles and rubella (MMR) are serious diseases that can lead to potentially fatal illness, disability and death. However, public debate over the safety of the trivalent MMR vaccine and the resultant drop in vaccination coverage in several countries persists, despite its almost universal use and accepted effectiveness.

            – We included five randomised controlled trials (RCTs), one controlled clinical trial (CCT), 27 cohort studies, 17 case‐control studies, five time‐series trials, one case cross‐over trial, two ecological studies, six self controlled case series studies involving in all about 14,700,000 children and assessing effectiveness and safety of MMR vaccine.
            – We could assess no significant association between MMR immunisation and the following conditions: autism, asthma, leukaemia, hay fever, type 1 diabetes, gait disturbance, Crohn’s disease, demyelinating diseases, or bacterial or viral infections.

          • Clark

            Re: “Here in microcosm…” etc.

            The context to my 14:06 comment has been lost. Blunderbuss appealed to site moderation about the “death threat” I made at 12:58 above. I posted a short insult in response.

          • Blunderbuss

            @Clark 14:06

            Why did you leave this bit out?

            “Results from two very large case series studies involving about 1,500,000 children who were given the MMR vaccine containing Urabe or Leningrad‐Zagreb strains show this vaccine to be associated with aseptic meningitis; whereas administration of the vaccine containing Moraten, Jeryl Lynn, Wistar RA, RIT 4385 strains is associated with febrile convulsion in children aged below five years (one person‐time cohort study, 537,171 participants; two self controlled case series studies, 1001 participants). The MMR vaccine could also be associated with idiopathic thrombocytopaenic purpura (two case‐controls, 2450 participants, one self controlled case series, 63 participants)”.

            You wouldn’t be cherry-picking, would you?

          • Clark

            Ah! so you’ve disproven the “mainstream science denies all the dangers of vaccines” accusation! And your own earlier one that the only warnings about vaccines come from the manufacturers. Well done Blunderbuss! I hope you’ll show intellectual integrity and from now on correct Paul Barbara etc. when they makes such fallacious claims. You wouldn’t want to go behaving like a conspiracy theorist now, would you?

            There’s more on that page; they make a very strong criticism, pointing out how things should be improved:

            “The design and reporting of safety outcomes in MMR vaccine studies, both pre‐ and post‐marketing, are largely inadequate”

          • Blunderbuss

            @Clark 17:33

            “Ah! so you’ve disproven the “mainstream science denies all the dangers of vaccines” accusation! And your own earlier one that the only warnings about vaccines come from the manufacturers”.

            You are misrepresenting me again. I have not claimed that “the only warnings about vaccines come from the manufacturers”.

            I thought your complaint about me was that I support Dr Wakefield’s view that doctors should listen to the concerns of patients about possible vaccine damage to their children.

          • Clark

            Blunderbuss, you wrote:

            “Any editor [at Wikipedia] who questions the safety of vaccines quickly gets banned from editing. […] Jytdog [an editor at Wikipedia] is widely believed to have a conflict of interest but, whenever he is investigated, he is always exonerated. It appears that he has powerful friends”


            clearly supporting a conspiracy theory that the dangers of vaccines are suppressed by the “powerful”, a conspiracy theory that Andrew Wakefield also promotes, in his film Vaxxed. You later added:

            “What I said was “Any editor who questions the safety of vaccines quickly gets banned from editing”. I was referring to statements made by Wikipedia editors, not to official warnings from manufacturers


            clearly promoting the conspiracy theory that manufacturers get to pick and choose which dangers are revealed. Then in the comment above you wrote:

            “I support Dr Wakefield’s view that doctors should listen to the concerns of patients about possible vaccine damage to their children.”

            “Listen to”, or accept unquestioningly in contradiction of the extensive evidence I linked above? Because that’s what Wakefield promotes; he made a whole film doing so, exploiting the grief of a handful of distraught parents, in contradiction of studies of over fourteen million children.

            None of your behaviour is consistent with your earlier claim of supporting honesty:


            In fact you seem to choose your words very carefully indeed, to promote unfounded fear of vaccines while leaving room to wiggle out of responsibility for it. What you’re actually in favour of also causes parents of autistic children to suffer ill-founded guilt for having had their children vaccinated. You are deliberately increasing others’ anguish. I think the word for deliberately increasing others’ suffering is “evil”; don’t you?

          • Blunderbuss

            @Clark 20:14

            You are drawing conclusions which are completely unwarranted. I will try again to explain my position but I expect I am wasting my time:

            1) I am in favour of vaccination – I had a flu vaccination last year

            2) I am not in favour of compulsory vaccination – I think each individual should be allowed to decide for him/herself.

            3) I think Dr Andrew Wakefield has been scapegoated by people who want to impose compulsory vaccination.

          • Clark

            I thought that Andrew Wakefield had been scapegoated by the journalist Brian Deer. I thought that Deer’s motive was that the mainstream ‘news’ media had blown the significance of his paper of twelve case studies out of all proportion, creating a panic that caused a decline in vaccination rates and subsequent outbreaks of preventable disease. I thought Deer was doing damage control for his industry.

            But I changed my mind after I read Deer’s investigation into Wakefield’s paper:


            To answer your other points:

            “1) I am in favour of vaccination – I had a flu vaccination last year”

            Then stop spreading conspiracy theories that induce fear of vaccination. Stop encouraging the likes of Paul Barbara to do so. In fact, discourage it.

            “2) I am not in favour of compulsory vaccination – I think each individual should be allowed to decide for him/herself.”

            That’s not very well thought out, because parents have to make the best choice on behalf of their children.

            “3) I think Dr Andrew Wakefield has been scapegoated by people who want to impose compulsory vaccination.”

            Wakefield does not appear to have been scapegoated. He had colonoscopy and lumbar punctures performed upon sick children, not to discover the best treatment for them, but in the hope of confirming his MMR-autism theory, ie. he used humans, sick children no less, as research subjects, which his profession rightly regards as unethical.

            In starting a scare that has put people off vaccination, he has made compulsory vaccination more likely, not less. In continuing to push that scare in his film Vaxxed, in contradiction to all the evidence, he is again making compulsory vaccination more likely, not less.

            It is easy to look at this simplistically, that parents who do not vaccinate put their own children at risk. But it is a bit more complicated than that. Vaccinated people can catch the wild virus, but it is less likely. It is the population that gains resistance from widespread vaccination, just as it is all road users who are safer if most vehicles have good brakes and no sharp bodywork. There is definitely an element of social responsibility involved.

            I hope that responsible attitudes to information ensure that enough people vaccinate to prevent the spread of diseases through society. I would support compulsory vaccination in the event of, for instance, a combination of (heaven forbid) an outbreak of smallpox and sufficient FUD to prevent enough vaccination to contain it.

          • Blunderbuss

            @Clark 21:30

            I think the person who is doing the most to spread alarm about side effects of vaccines is you, Clark. You just go on and on and on about it.

        • Blunderbuss

          @Clark 21:01

          “Are you opposed to compulsory vehicle safety tests Blunderbuss?”

          No. I am not aware of any case in which a motor vehicle has had an adverse reaction to an MOT test.

          • Clark

            They get failed, and either taken off the road, or the driver may get penalised. I think under this analogy that will pass as an “adverse outcome”.

          • Clark

            “I took my car in to Halfords for an MOT a few weeks ago. I picked the car up when it was done and once I had got home noticed that there was a dent in my bonnet which had caused the paintwork to crack.”


            “I took it for an MOT at the garage round the corner from my house – won’t go back to them again, but it is in the next street from my house. all done last Saturday, put it in the garage, went to it yesterday afternoon and noticed two big scratches and a dent at the bottom of the bumper, certainly not done by me.”


            Did you forget I might have access to a search engine? Search term:

            vehicle damaged at MOT

          • Clark

            Blunderbuss, I am indeed dreadful at analogies, and I do go on and on.

            You have supported a man who performed medical experiments upon sick children to further his own career, promoted his conspiracy theory, and thereby made compulsory vaccination a little more likely, the opposite of your stated objective.

            I’ll stick with my own faults, thanks.

          • Clark

            Blunderbuss, I’ve been leafing through Bad Science again; are you sure that you’ve read it? Because if you have I don’t see how you can characterise Goldacre as “a fanatical campaigner against alternative medicine”. I’m on the chapter “Is Mainstream Medicine Evil?”, and Goldacre is being absolutely scathing towards Big Pharma, detailing the tricks and distortions companies apply to research they conduct upon their own drugs. Goldacre is certainly a critic, but he seems very even-handed with his criticism:

            ‘Big pharma is evil: I would agree with that premise. But because people don’t understand exactly how big pharma is evil, their anger and indignation get diverted away from valid criticisms’

            ‘”Torture the data and it will confess to anything,” as they say at Guantanamo Bay.”

  • M.J.

    Though I voted Remain, I predict that we will crash out without a deal. The reason is that the Commons will be unable to reach any consensus on an alternative.

    • Clark

      Hiya M.J.

      That’s why I voted Remain; “Leave” hadn’t been defined. Since Greece and Catalonia I’ve gone off the EU considerably, but if there’s another referendum I’d still have to vote Remain, because “Leave” still hasn’t been defined. It reminds me of the conclusions to nearly every episode of Time Tunnel – just pluck’em out; we’ll deal with wherever mess they land in next week.

      • Blunderbuss

        My definition of “Leave” is that we should put the UK in the same position that it would have been in if we had never joined the EU. That meant “no deal” when I voted and it still means “no deal” now. We will trade with the EU on WTO terms, just as other non-EU countries do.

        • Clark

          Ah, the outcome where we have no special favour at all from our nearest neighbouring countries. Great.

          But that’s not the same as the “position that it would have been in if we had never joined the EU”. Time has passed and things have changed. The UK has spent decades developing within the EU. Many UK citizens now live and/or work on the continent, and many continental EU citizens hold vital jobs in the UK. Necessary border infrastructure, rather than being developed, has been abandoned. Masses of legislation that has been developed will need to be changed.

          The very term “No Deal” is therefore a misleading, propaganda term which makes huge upheaval sound like a non-event.

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