Jo Swinson Goes A Funny Tinge 394


My own position on Brexit is more nuanced than is currently fashionable (more below), but I am strongly against a no deal Brexit. Jo Swinson’s successful deflation of Jeremy Corbyn’s proposal for a caretaker administration purely to organise a general election, makes no deal much more probable.

It says a great deal about Swinson that she is emphatically in favour of a caretaker government led by arch Blairite Harriet Harman. Let us remind ourselves of Harman’s voting record:

If the Liberal Democrats are refusing to work with somebody, you would expect it to be the person who shared Cabinet responsibility for initiating illegally the death of millions in the Middle East. It is also worth recalling that while Acting Leader of the Labour Party Harman instructed her MPs to abstain on both Tory benefit cuts and Theresa May’s “Hostile Environment” immigration policy.

Yet Swinson actively promotes warmonger Harman as caretaker PM and would refuse to work with Jeremy Corbyn, who is apparently anathema to Liberals because he espouses social democratic economic policies and rejects neo-imperialist aggression abroad. I am confident my old friend Charlie Kennedy would have taken a different view.

Swinson was one of the Lib Dems who was least uncomfortable in coalition with the Tories, and her attitude now is based entirely on the wishes of Chuka Umunna and other actual and potential Blairite defectors to the Lib Dems. Swinson is more interested in playing to the Blairite visceral hatred of Corbyn than she is in stopping no deal Brexit, and it is proof if any were needed that the arrival of Blairite and Tory defectors is moving the Lib Dems still further to the right. I see not a single hint of the party’s old radicalism or principle.

The SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens have shown maturity and common sense in welcoming Corbyn’s initiative, with due reservations and caveats. Had the Lib Dems done so too, it would have encouraged Tory rebels to join in an all-party initiatvie. Swinson’s refusal to work with Corbyn, on the grounds that Tory rebels would also refuse, was as she well knew a self-fulfilling prophecy. By making it about Corbyn, Swinson made it impossible for Tory MPs to go along when the Lib Dems had refused.

Institutional and personal loyalties are very difficult things to shake off. The Tory Party has become a far right movement whose primary policies are motivated by nothing but racist hatred of immigrants. It is extremely hard for decent people like Ken Clarke and Dominic Grieve to accept that this has happened and it is irreversible.

If Westminster cannot stop hard Brexit and it goes ahead, it will be enabled by Swinson’s ambition, the hatreds of Blairites, and the failure of decent Tories to process psychologically what has happened to their party.

I suspect that the chaos caused by hard Brexit would be much less than generally predicted after three weeks, but that the economic situation caused by no deal would be very much worse than generally predicted after three years. Priti Patel’s announcement that free movement will end on 31 October is a nonsense. Over 80% of lorries arriving at Dover have non-British, EU drivers. Instituting immigration controls would be a physical impossibility.

My own euro-enthusiasm was dealt a fatal blow when the Spanish paramilitaries clubbed grandmothers lining up to vote in Catalonia, and all three constituent parts of the EU – Parliament, Council and Commission – rushed to congratulate the Francoist government in Madrid on upholding the Rule of Law.

I would therefore be content to live in a country which had a relationship with the EU similar to Norway or Switzerland, but was politically separate. I am entirely in favour of free movement, which I believe has been one of the greatest advances for liberty in my lifetime, and I support the single market. I also believe in democracy and am strongly convinced that England and Wales ought to leave the EU, because that is how they voted, while Scotland and Northern Ireland should remain in the EU, because that is how they voted.

On second referenda, I do not believe it is democratic to have one before the result has been respected and it has been tried. Thus the result of the Scottish referendum was respected, continuing in the Union has been tried, and proven not to be what was promised. After five years of respecting the result, it is perfectly legitimate to vote again.

The EU referendum is different. The people of England and Wales voted to leave and have not had the chance to try that for five years and see if it works out. I believe it would be undemocratic to have another vote before the result has been respected. Another referendum in England and Wales after five years out of the EU seems to me perfectly reasonable.

I appreciate none of those thoughts correspond with the generally held and remarkably polarised viewpoints of Leavers and Remainers, or sets of positions you might find from a political party or in mainstream media articles. The entire point of this blog is to ask you to consider different ways of thinking about things. I do not in the least insist or expect you to agree with me. But courteous consideration of the arguments is always welcome, even where opinions sharply differ from mine.

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394 thoughts on “Jo Swinson Goes A Funny Tinge

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  • Pete

    Craig, based on your own experience of international negotiations, how long do you think it might take for England & wales to be readmitted to the EU in five years time, if the public became convinced that Brexit had been disastrous? I’m guessing it could be achieved a lot quicker than last time, when the main obstacle appeared to be General de Gaulle’s fanatical hatred of the UK.

      • Andyoldlabour

        Bevin,
        I think Pete is referring to the 1967 speech by DeGaulle, when the arrogant Frenchman said a decisive “non” to the UK joining the Common Market. DeGaulle shacked up in the UK during the war, made a speech in Paris, and never mentioned what part the D Day landings played in the liberation of France. He spoke instead about the French army marching from Italy up the Rhone, guns blazing.

        https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-42165383

        • Old Mark

          AndyoldLabour

          The famous Non speech to which you refer was delivered by de Gaulle in January 1963- coincidentally the same month that the anti Common Market Labour leader Gaitskell passed away. He delivered another Non to Wilson in 1967, but 2nd time round the effect was less dramatic- by then de Gaulle was 77,and the leadership of both the main parties (and the Establishment more generally) was strongly pro ‘Europe’ . It was thus only a matter of time ie until de Gaulle popped his clogs, until another application to join would be lodged, and which would (especially if the UK were to negotiate-as Heath did- as a supplicant) stand a good chance of succeeding.

          Overall an excellent post from Craig here-
          I would therefore be content to live in a country which had a relationship with the EU similar to Norway or Switzerland, but was politically separate.
          sums up my attitude pretty well- and I was a Leave voter. Craig is also spot on in stating the Home Sec Priti Patel is stupidly playing to the gallery with the decision to end free movement ASAP, The problem this will cause in checking lorries driven by EU citizens is likely to be the biggest source of disruption at Dover. It is also a long term vote loser- when Brits travelling to Europe find themselves in the ‘Other Passports’ channel at EU ports and airports the downside of the ending of free movement will really hit home. Think of all those stag weekends to Tallinn, delayed on arrival as the testosterone fuelled lads join the long queue with the visiting Russians, and are greeted by a very grumpy chap in paramilitary uniform- who could well refuse entry on the spot to those in the party the worse for wear !

          • Tony

            Why will checking lorries travelling through Dover be markedly different to pre-brexit? Have you ever travelled through Dover? There have been pre-checks by customs officials at both ends as long as we have been in the EU. Nothing much will change post-brexit.

    • Jo Dominich

      Pete, I am not in disagreement with you but I must correct your statement about De Gaulle. He was very anti the UK joining the then EEC (?) because he predicated, quite accurately, that the UK would never accept the EU, would fight it and would use it for its own ends. He was quite right. If I find his quote (which I have somewhere) I will post it here. He refused I believe it was Churchill’s request for the UK to join I think it was then the four countries who were its inceptors for this reason. Churchill threatened to get the USA involved if De Gaulle’s refusal continued. Which Churchill duly did. The USA contacted De Gaulle and said if he did not let the UK into the EEC then they, the USA, would remove all their military bases from France. De Gaulle said, be my guest, the USA backed down. De Gaulle subsequently pulled France out of NATO I am not sure who the recent French President was who put France back in so to speak.

      • Old Mark

        Jo Domenich

        de Gaulle just pulled France out of the military command structure (ie the important bit) but France still remained a NATO member.

        His 1963 speech was a tour de force; Britain was ‘insular’ and ‘maritime’ , and of course his subtext was also that we’d turn the Common Market in a more Atlanticist direction. All of these observations/prognostications were true.

        • Jo Dominich

          Old Mark, thank you for clarifying this for me. It is really helpful. I hadn’t realised he had just pulled France out of the military section. By the way, I am hoping Corbyn will do the same.

    • Dungroanin

      Craig may know of this prescient piece of work from the foreign office of the 70’s.
      It reads almost like a playbook of how the UK is functioning now. Do read it.
      http://markcurtis.info/2018/01/27/change-1974/

      Including classic formulations such as :

      ‘Alternative 2 is “reducing European burdens”, to reduce the “net flow of British resources” to Europe and “reduce constraints imposed by membership of the EEC on British policy”. This would mean adopting a variety of policies to restrict EC encroachment on the UK economy.

      Alternative 3 – withdraw from the EEC

      Alternative 4 – “The off-shore island”. This means withdrawal from the EC, reduce the contribution to NATO, possibly including troops from Germany, though remain as France, in NATO, but would continue to support US diplomatically. Costs: “If American support was not forthcoming, a major reduction in British ability to withstand external pressure and in [sic] her international influence and credit-worthiness”. Would also reduce UK’s military security.’

      Etc

      We didn’t arrive at an accidental imminent brexit.

  • Muscleguy

    The problem with the Norway option Craig is there is no mandate for it. It has never been proposed to the Scottish people by a political party gaining a majority and it has not been a ballot paper. The Brexit referendum was about Leave and Remain, there was no half way house Norway option mentioned and Scotland voted strongly to Remain, which means Remain in the EU.

    You are entitled to your view but this idea that we should opt for those things without so much as a democratic by your leave is bogus.

    Post Independence you are at liberty to campaign for iScotland to Leave the EU for a different status. But I strongly suspect most folk will be far too busy seeing what iScotland in the EU with 13 MEPs and our ministers and FM doings wrt qualified majority voting and who we have made alliances with etc than effecting more change.

    And finally with the malign influence of Westminster removed from the EU and ourselves in there we have a decent chance of moderating the illiberal mercantilism and we will find allies who agree with us. We should try to change the EU for the better from within before we throw in the towel. Besides the success of iScotland in the EU will show the people of the EU that iCatalunya might be no bad thing either and they will pressure their representatives who will pressure the EU who will pressure Spain. Our very existence could be a catalyst for change there.

    • Ian

      There’s no mandate for no deal. A Norway option for the UK would be a good compromise between both sides, given that the split is nearly 50-50, with small variations, and has remained that way for a long time. But the tory right, along with their network, have hijacked the vote to make it mean what they want it to mean, i.e. the most disruptive, chaotic and damaging of exits, which nobody voted for.

      • J Galt

        Neither was there a mandate for a deal – the question was remain or leave – no mention of any “deal” as far as I can remember, and I speak as somebody who reluctantly voted remain.

        • Ian

          Well, the leave campaign made clear that we wouldn’t leave without a deal, and even Farage said he would he happy with a Norway style deal. Remember ‘there’s no question of leaving the single market’, ‘nothing would change’, ‘we would retain the best aspect of being in the EU markets’ etc.

          • J Galt

            Reasonable points, however lots of people said lots of things, what matters though is what was on the ballot paper.

          • Old Mark

            Well remembered Ian; my forlorn hope once the Maybot was dumped was that her ‘red lines’ would be dumped as well and that even Boris (ever the opportunist, and not as Europhobic as he acts out in public) might say ‘Forget this Withdrawal Agreement horse manure, we’re staying in the EEA after all , so what else is there to discuss ?’

            Qu’elle domage!

          • Ian

            Yes, lots of people said lots of things. And what they said influenced how people voted. And no-one promoted or even considered no deal as an option. People who voted leave are being swindled. There is nothing anti-democratic about asking them to confirm or deny the options now on the table, very different scenarios to what they were originally offered. Remember ‘the easiest deal in history’, countries queuing up to do deals etc etc. And very little mention of the Irish border.

          • Jo Dominich

            Quelle Domage! I believe Norway and the EEA said they wouldn’t have the UK in it!

          • Old Mark

            I believe Norway and the EEA said they wouldn’t have the UK in it!

            That isn’t what the chair of the EFTA Court was saying as late as September 2017; he seemed hurt and surprised that the imbecile May was off pursuing her ‘bespoke deal’ and had overlooked the Norway/EFTA option (even associate membership of the latter- should the others be worried we’d take it over).

            And what a deal she ended up with- rejected by record margins, and in all 3 times !

          • Tony

            Everybody who voted for brexit voted for a no-deal. It was made abundantly clear by Cameron’s government, pre-referendum, that leaving the EU meant leaving the free market and leaving the customs union, and all that entailed. The fact that remainers lie about this, and most other aspects of the debate, is why we have been unable to move forward in a civil manner.

          • Ian

            Leaving the single market and the customs union, even if you accept that interpretation, which is by no means necessary, does not mean no deal, and never has done.

          • Tony

            Except that the EU won’t accept a deal which doesn’t leave us tied to the customs union in some form. And pretty-much everyone fighting for a deal wants us to stay in both.

          • andic

            Whether or not the leave campaign supposed a deal, the remain campaign was based on fear of the repercussions of no deal. The remain argument was rejected by a small majority but the subject of no deal was certainly covered in the campaign.

        • AliB

          What utter tosh. The ballot paper said nothing about no deal – it just said Leave. The Leave campaign was all about the “easiest deal ever” loads of trade deals ready to go on day 1 etc etc. Endless lies funded by illegal dark money and illegal social media targeting. Re writing history does not make it true- but then what else are we to expect from Leave- it started with lies from Johnson when he was EU correspondent for the Torygraph and has continued ever since to this very day.

  • Hmmm

    Very well put. Can’t agree with “try it first approach ” I voted leave but if things have changed then a review of the decision is vital and totally in keeping with a grown-up democracy.

    • Tony

      The only thing that changed is that we’ve had a remain-supporting government for the last three years, pretending to negotiate a brexit deal which isn’t a brexit deal, and is far worse than remaining. Which was the idea. So that returning the debate to remaining became the objective.

  • Laguerre

    I rather doubt that quoting someone’s voting record in Westminster has the same value as in the US Congress, where it is much done. For the obvious reason of whipping, it is quite uncertain whether a vote represents what the MP or Lord in question actually thinks, or whether they are just following orders like sheep. In the US the record means something, here it’s doubtful, and the reservation should be mentioned, in my view.

    • Greg Park

      “While Acting Leader of the Labour Party Harman instructed her MPs to abstain on both Tory benefit cuts and Theresa May’s “Hostile Environment” immigration policy”. (From above artucle).

      • Laguerre

        And I could have mentioned other issues too. It’s a complicated question. Finding one exception doesn’t make the principle untrue.

  • Rich

    “EU – Parliament, Council and Commission – rushed to congratulate the Francoist government in Madrid on upholding the Rule of Law.”
    Indeed.
    A government which, incidentally but tellingly, fell shortly afterwards under the weight of a massive corruption scandal involving the misappropriation of 100s+ millions of euros.

  • JULIAN EVANS

    Excellent, as always.
    I was beginning to think I was the only person who didn’t have an entirely binary position on Brexit.
    If the Tories are in power, it doesn’t matter if we’re in or out, we’ll be shafted – as shown over the last 9 years.
    Personally, I’m a Labour supporter for now, as I want a genuinely left-wing government (and don’t care where it’s based).
    If that doesn’t come to pass then my best chance of not having a neoliberal government will be independence for Scotland and that’s what I’ll move to supporting.

  • Greg Park

    Agree 100%, Craig. (Except on the decency of austerity men Grieve and Clarke, the latter also being a career lobbyist for Big Tobacco).

  • Ian

    You have tangled up so many issues in one article it would take one even longer to address them all. Suffice to say, it is a nice theoretical position to adopt which sounds very benign and comfy, while avoiding dealing with the much more unpleasant reality of what is being visited upon us.
    Primly allowing England and Wales to leave is a good example, fantasising that somehow Scotland and Ni can remain. By what mechanism would that be? Then saying that Scotland could adopt a Nowergian solution is also a fine sounding plan, but without any road map as to how to get there, and what happens in the interim.
    It is all very well dismissing brexit as if it is nothing to do with you because it is an English problem, but the reality is that it willl have profound consequences for Scotland, which independence may not solve easily, even if it is gained – and there is no guarantee of that either.
    The whole thing about Harman is a bit of a red herring, although Swinson has certainly shown her inadequacy for her job, and her stupidity. If there were to be an interim caretaker government to oust Johnson, which by any measure would be a good thing, and might save us all from a disastrous episode in our history, one whose effects could last for decades, and could scupper a viable Scottish independent state, then i could care less who its temporary figurehead would be. Certainly to get the necessary tories on board, it might have to be a more perceived ‘neutral’, but if that is what it takes, fine. it is really unimportant compared to the reset that a GE or second referendum would entail.
    You seem utterly relaxed that an unelected chancer, fraudster and unpleasant rightwing bully has taken over the UK government, with his friends in the wings, Bannon, Mercer, Farage and Trump, and who, if he succeeds, will alter the political landscape fundamentally, with who knows what deals with the US and China. If you view that with unconcern, and think that Scotland can just walk away without much damage, or that Ireland may well revert to political violence, you are living in whisky dreamland, I am afraid.

    • Old Mark

      The whole thing about Harman is a bit of a red herring, although Swinson has certainly shown her inadequacy for her job, and her stupidity.

      Only half right- yes the Harman thing shows up her stupidity- why not mention K Clarke as the obvious candidate and just leave it at that ? However it also demonstrates, as Craig discusses, how Blairite and ‘right wing’ she is when compared to Kennedy.

    • Baalbek

      You seem utterly relaxed that an unelected chancer, fraudster and unpleasant rightwing bully has taken over the UK government, with his friends in the wings, Bannon, Mercer, Farage and Trump, and who, if he succeeds, will alter the political landscape fundamentally, with who knows what deals with the US and China. If you view that with unconcern, and think that Scotland can just walk away without much damage, or that Ireland may well revert to political violence, you are living in whisky dreamland, I am afraid.

      For a guy who was targeted, and nearly destroyed, by ambitious servants of unaccountable power, Craig sometimes exhibits a shockingly blasé and naive attitude towards its destructive potential.

  • Gerry Bell

    I agree. Respect the plebiscite and wait five years to see how it turns out. What’s wrong with re-applying for EU membership? I’ve seen little talk about the impact of the departure on the EU itself and again five years may well demonstrate a new respect for Britain’s place in the EU and change the bargaining positions.
    As for Scottish devolution, it will proceed by stages,sensibly, and allow time for adjustments on both sides. Again, it’s not a No Deal or Nothing proposition. Westminster just has to learn to share more….

    • John A

      Gerry Bell, the EU has already said that if Britain wants to rejoin, they will have to go the back of the queue behind other prospective members.

    • Deb O'Nair

      Rejoining the EU would mean no rebate, no sterling (EU would make adopting the Euro a prerequisite) and abiding by whatever new laws/regulations have been passed in the UK absence. For the UK to accept that then Brexit would have to have been the total and complete disaster many are predicting.

  • Alex

    Not sure how you can say “The Tory Party has become a far right movement whose primary policies are motivated by nothing but racist hatred of immigrants.” but then somehow expect people who deeply oppose those views to even consider respecting the referendum… and that’s before we get onto: (1) dispute about the eligible electorate (no 16-17 year olds, EU nationals not permitted to vote, ditto long term UK-in-EU voters); (2) the breaches of electoral spending laws; (3) the possibility or likelihood of foreign interference (only the full scale/effectiveness seems in doubt); (4) the dishonesty in the campaign (i.e. promising sunlit uplands/financial windfalls; easy trade deals etc); (4) the fact that of all the actual brexit variants (Norway/EFTA vs no deal vs whatever), the biggest majority is actually for Remain

  • Peter N

    Agree with everything you have said, Craig. I voted to stay in the EU during the referendum but I did so with a very heavy heart, pressed to it because there was no other sensible option on the ballot paper. Now I find myself continually in a rage at the way the SNP have conflated Scottish independence with tacit approval for continuing (actually renewed) full-membership of the EU. As you say, a Norway or Switzerland style ‘membership’ would very much be my preferred option. There is sound economic sense in having a close relationship to the EU but I would prefer an independent Scotland to keep some distance from going the whole hog – the fly in that ointment is now the SNP and though I continue to vote for them I curse and damn them on this conflation while doing so. My only hope is that this issue will be dealt with at the ballot box via referenda as separate issues in a newly independent Scotland. If that doesn’t happen then I would take that as a sign that bodes bad for a newly independent Scotland.

    • Dungroanin

      Todays (thursday) not published yet on the Guardian – the denouement of the weeks ‘If’ strip with the punchline is perfect.

      The yellow bird of liberty emerges as bobos yellow hammer!

      Available via belltoons site.

  • Sharp Ears

    Ref ‘ It is extremely hard for decent people like Ken Clarke and Dominic Grieve to accept that this has happened and it is irreversible.’

    If he is so decent, why, as Attorney General, did he refuse to order an nquest to be held for Dr David Kelly (a legal requirement for a person who dies from unnatural causes) and then later oppose the request for a Judicial Review of his decision? Grieve is just a stooge of the UK state. He is also a member of the Conservative Friends of Israel lobby group. https://www.theyworkforyou.com/regmem/?p=10243

    Little different from the aforementioned Swinson’s record on Foreign Policy/Defence votes.
    https://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/10243/dominic_grieve/beaconsfield/votes#foreignpolicy

    • Hatuey

      Listen, Sharpy, we simply want there to be good guys and bad guys… these shades of grey don’t help.

      Think Randolph Scott, Zulu, James Bond, The Dam Busters, etc… good guys (us) and bad guys (them).

  • Sapo

    “I also believe in democracy and am strongly convinced that England and Wales ought to leave the EU, because that is how they voted, while Scotland and Northern Ireland should remain in the EU, because that is how they voted.”

    By this logic, London should be allowed to remain in the EU. London has a greater population than Wales and Scotland combined, and voted remain by 60 to 40, compared to 62 to 38 in Scotland. Your “democracy” appears to be strangely limited in application to nation-states.

    • Bramble

      Sapo, it is of course the toxic influence of Nationalism, one of the nastier legacies of the Romantic Movement, and one which has wedded itself to the warped distortion of the Theory of Evolution called Social Darwinism, which lies at the root of all this crazed bigotry and malice.

    • Andyoldlabour

      Courtenay Barnett

      I certainly wouldn’t go that far, but all the Bliarites were pro war, pro Neocon, prepared to stand with the US come what may, irrespective of the human cost.

      • Courtenay Barnett

        Andy – ol’ mate,

        So – just to provoke thought a bit ( as distinct from you – ol’ mate):-

        1. Since, as you say, “…all the Bliarites were pro war, pro Neocon, prepared to stand with the US come what may, irrespective of the human cost.”

        2. And Hillary Clinton was/is “…pro war, pro Neocon, prepared to stand with the US come what may, irrespective of the human cost.”

        THEN

        WHAT MAKES HARRIET HARMAN NOT THE BRITISH MIRROR IMAGE OF HILLARY CLINTON; SINCE SHE – HARMAN – IS PREPARED TO STAND WITH AND DO EXACTLY WHAT HILLARY CLINTON WOULD DO?

        OR – AM I GETTING SOMETHING WRONG IN MY REASONING?

        YET YOU REASON AND OBSERVE:-

        “I certainly wouldn’t go that far, but all the Bliarites were pro war, pro Neocon, prepared to stand with the US come what may, irrespective of the human cost.”

  • Mary Pau!

    Scotland’s 7% national deficit would I suspect, make the EU less than receptive to letting the country join as an independent member state in the short term.

  • Tim

    I’m not sure about your line of democracy here.

    Scotland voted to remain part of the UK, and the UK then voted to leave the EU.

    I can’t see how you can then argue that some parts of the UK that voted more for Brexit are democratically bound to leave, but some other parts that voted more remain are exempt from that duty. And also why stop at the country level? More people voted to remain in London than the whole of Scotland, but somehow by dint of differing historical regional jurisprudence, the UK citizens in London are democratically bound to one outcome, while UK voters in Scotland aren’t?

    Now, I’m not actually arguing that the referendum ‘must’ be respected for everyone – it was advisory, and it’s a mess. But I do question how you can argue that the principle of democracy ‘must’ be respected for one segment of voters, while in literally the same breath hand-waving that principle for a different group who took part in the same election.

    • Tim

      Apologies – in my second paragraph it should read ‘UK citizens in London. . . while UK citizens in Scotland’. OR ‘UK voters in London. . . while UK voters in Scotland’.

      I’m not – for one single moment – trying to imply a difference between UK citizens and UK voters in the original sentence structure, it’s a simple subbing error.

  • Republicofscotland

    Swinson, is the new darling of the Tories, with the current darling Colonel Ruth Davidson falling out of favour at Tory HQ.

    Swinson’s voting record is appalling, she has voted to cut payments including those for people with illness or disability; on economic policy, she voted against increased income tax over £150,000, and voted against a tax on banker’s bonuses.

    Swinson has stood in the way of devolved democratisation through votes against local government funding. She has allowed environmental destruction by voting to sell off state-owned forests. Her shameful record still does not end there: her vote for increased restrictions on legal aid hinders access to justice for those who are already barely getting by. She’s all heart this one.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/tim-farron-resigns-jo-swinson-new-leader-liberal-democrats-voting-record-wrong-choice-a7793056.html

    Remaing in the EU in one form or another is I’d say important for Scotland, afterall we did vote to stay. As you rightly say a No Deal Brexit will be disastrous, not just for the rUK but the power grab by Westminster against Scotland will be incessant.

    Corbyn like Sturgeon has the entire media against him, along with the trumped up charge that somehow he and Labour are anti-Semitic, though Corbyn who to me comes across as a Bennite, and not that particularly fond of the EU, has dithered over Brexit that long that his credibility has taken a bashing over his indecisiveness on the matter.

    Is it too late to stop Johnson and his far right entourage from delivering a No Deal Brexit? Will the EU backdown a little when Johnson meets with them this week, and can a deal still be thrashed out? And what of the NI backstop which Johnson constantly parrots, it must be removed.

  • Laguerre

    “all three constituent parts of the EU – Parliament, Council and Commission – rushed to congratulate the Francoist government in Madrid on upholding the Rule of Law.”

    That wasn’t my memory of the event. Their reaction, as I remember it, was low-key, and simply expressed support for the government of a member state, as in fact they were obliged to do. We’re seeing the same support again today, but with greater justification, for Ireland over Brexit, faced with Johnson’s idiot plan for it to be Ireland to leave the EU, supposedly temporarily, rather than Britain be in the slightest inconvenienced by its own decision to Leave.

  • dkws

    Of leavers, the question not often enough asked is: what kind of leave? Of remainders, the question should be: is there any form of leave you’d feel comfortable with? There might be a solution in there somewhere, and it might look a little like Corbyn’s version – with a customs union – which wasn’t so very far from that which Ken Clarke advocated. I really don’t understand why there wouldn’t be Parliamentary time for further indicative votes; freed from May’s shackles there would more likelihood of success for a version of Brexit that wasn’t her own. Corbyn’s route to a General Election might well be the best way to scupper ‘no deal’, but Brexit would still ‘muddy the waters’ in a GE campaign, frustrating both Labour and the SNP.

    • Ian

      That’s exactly who Johnson’s alt-right are desperate to smash brexit through, before any semblance of reasonableness can be enacted by parliament, now that May’s gone. It’s their one big chance, with no mandate, no time for negotiation, and no time for any of them to be accountable or answerable to anybody.

  • Ben

    Great article Craig.
    But ‘good people like Ken Clarke’? Ben Fellows might disagree with that. But yea I suppose its all relative and compared to his tory brethren he comes across like a sensible chap. Who may or may not be a child molester.

  • Vivian O'Blivion

    Can’t help forming the conclusion that the LibDems are a Deep State, AstroTurf operation.
    Having amalgamated all Sheffield constituency branches into a central operation, accounts for 2018 show income from membership fees at £399 (current issue of Private Eye). From LibDems website, “you can join the LibDems for a little as £1 per month”. So that’s a maximum of 33 members in the whole of Sheffield.
    The East Dumbartonshire branch is also reputed to be tiny. Their Facebook page has 215 likes. Nonetheless at the last GE they managed to overspend on allowable election expenses by £7,000. WTF do you think the money comes from?
    And what of that overspend, did they get their knuckles wrapped? Did they fuck. Some of the spend went on leaflets that were not delivered (on whose testimony?), so what, the printer was paid, it was an EXPENSE! Other leaflets were “not specific to Swinson so didn’t count”. They were delivered during the election campaign, of course they freeking count.
    Like I say, pure AstroTurf. Big money donations (from where?) targeted on a limited number of constituencies, to put National office players into Westminster.
    Will Swinson caw canny with election overspending at the anticipated GE? I don’t imagine so, she’s Deep State and immune from the rules that apply to lesser mortals.

    • Old Mark

      And what of that overspend, did they get their knuckles wrapped? Did they fuck.

      Just shows how the PTB much prefer the LibDems to what remains of Ukip doesn’t it ?

    • Rob Royston

      The leaflets were delivered alright. I was working overseas but my wife told me Swinson leaflets were put through the letterbox shortly after the polls opened.

    • Tony

      Her constituency is the one, I imagine, where somebody received 13 direct mail items with nothing at all from the Conservatives or Labour. This was in an article that appeared on the Wings Over Scotland website shortly after the last general election.
      There appears to have been an awful lot of collusion between the unionist parties.

      As for Harriet Harman, a reminder of just how awful she is:

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6236412.stm

  • Hatuey

    In her argument against laws which would prohibit child pornography, “Miss Harman had claimed such a law would “increase censorship” and argued that a pornographic picture of a naked child should not be considered indecent unless it could be proven that the subject had suffered.”

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/labour/10659100/Harriet-Harman-Jack-Dromey-Patricia-Hewitt-and-the-Paedophile-Information-Exchange.html

    After arguing the above, it’s absolutely rattling to consider that Harriet Harman could be considered worthy of a continuing role in politics. That, of course, says more about British politics today than Harman herself.

    Swinson really catastrophically screwed up when she rejected Corbyn’s proposal last week. Her leadership skills were tested and she failed big time. All of those people seeking refuge in the Lib-Dems must now realise that under Swinson there will be no escape from the Brexit games — she is playing Russian roulette with our future just as the others are.

    She’s a complete lightweight.

    • bevin

      “a pornographic picture of a naked child should not be considered indecent ”
      Are you sure about this?
      A picture of a naked child can certainly be considered decent.
      A pornographic picture, however would be, by definition, indecent.
      I suspect that you are gilding the lily here. There is no need: Harman’s record (whipped or unwhipped) is clear enough: she is a Tory cuckoo in Labour’s nest.

      • Hatuey

        If you took about 3 seconds to read properly, you’d see that it was a quotation from what would normally considered a reliable enough source and I provided a link.

      • Deb O'Nair

        The facts speak for themselves; in the 70s Harman and her husband were, through their involvement with the National Council for Civil Liberties, supporters of the PIE. These were men – paedophiles – who wanted the age of consent removed so they could have sex with children without fear of arrest. Harmen, Dromey and Hewitt were on the same page as Jimmy Savile.

  • Jackrabbit

    IMO BoJo-Corbyn theatrics are meant to result in a VOTE whereupon “No Deal” Brexit fearmongering (aided by “election irregularities”, if need be) causes a REMAIN result.

    How is it that people forget the establishment’s shock after the Brexit vote? In the days and weeks that followed, they claimed that the people had made a mistake – ordinary people didn’t understand the consequences. In the years hence, Torys have paid lip-service to Brexit while dragging their feet on implementation. May’s Parliament defeats are comical.

    But suddenly, Corbyn and a coeterie of others are taking BoJo’s threat of a no-deal Brexit seriously instead of recognizing that Labor benefits immensely if BoJo actually makes a “no deal” blunder. A Labor government that comes AFTER a “no deal” Brexit could fix what needs fixing but Corbyn’s wringing of hands play into the fearmongering of the REMAINers.

    Conclusion: Corbyn is every bit the secret REMAINer that BoJo is. Whatever you think of Brexit, it’s clear that the will of the people is not a priority in our Western “democracies”. I fully expect UK to REMAIN because no one of any importance seems skeptical enough to point out the ‘set-up’.

  • Caratacus

    “I would therefore be content to live in a country which had a relationship with the EU similar to Norway or Switzerland, but was politically separate”. With you all the way there, Craig. It occurs to me that Ms. Swinson is doing more harm than good in this matter (“I will do whatever it takes to stop Democracy … oh, I.m so sorry, Brexit, I meant Brexit”) as she darts hither and yon in search of something only she can glimpse but dimly. Ms. Harman represents all that is appalling in the Labour party these days; I even feel some sympathy for Mr. Corbyn as he is corralled steadily away from his former trenchant views of the EU.

  • nevermind

    I shall never respect what other people voted to happen to my future, especially when it was such a small margin. It should have been decided by a 2/3 majority, anything else is an eyewash, especially when one looks back at the bullish boasting and sloganising, rather than the facts.
    I for one do not want the Good Friday Agreement busted by some Tory flush selected according to who shouts loudest, funnily there are many here and in In the US who would agree, it is an international agreement and both Ireland and NI will not have the backstop removed.
    Its more likely that NI and Ireland will become one before Scotland gets their act together.

    In an ideal world the Scottish, Welsh and NI voters would all declare UDI and form their own interest sphere, negotiate their own agreements, but that would probably not suit many unionists and or Republicans, too much work and too much to sort out , much easier to park their privileged arses in Westminster and feed on perks.

    It is ok for politicians to change their mind before a day is out, 180 degree u turns on a regular basis, but Craig does not want disadvantaged voters to be able to express that they have changed their mind three years on, very much the Tory line.
    It seems that the loss of public services and austerity, an immense childhood poverty, all under a Tory Government and during the last 5 years, that all this does not count as having tried.
    As for the Lib Dems and their new femgod Tory leader, they have presented us with the referendum, due to lack of foresight in coalition, having had the chance to stop/postpone it, they voted with the Tories and new Labour for the war in Iraq, voted for the austerity measures that drove countless victims to kill themselves, and are now the busted flush that will present us with no deal.
    To just demand that the 48% shut up and conform to what is being done to them, with millions never having had a say, is lazy and futile.
    this from 2017,
    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/disability-benefit-claimants-attempted-suicides-fit-to-work-assessment-i-daniel-blake-job-centre-dwp-a8119286.html

    Its all about English islanders not wanting to have anything to do with Russia, mind, they take their oil and gas via Nord Stream and Bacton., and fetter their rich oligarchs with mansions and offshore accounts, but to see Germany and others trying their best to keep peace in Europe by talking to Russia as an equal just does not fit into English islanders psyche, the ‘great game’ continuous ad nauseum, don’t blink is the motto.

    Go duff your cap why don’t you?

  • Goose

    “I am confident my old friend Charlie Kennedy would have taken a different view”.

    There is no doubt about it Craig. From 2010 and in his own words: Charles Kennedy: Why I couldn’t support Clegg’s deal with the Tories

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2010/may/16/charles-kennedy-coalition-views

    Kennedy was a dovish, social democrat who led a party that was to the left of New Labour in 2001 and 2005’s elections.

    I see Swinson has made Chuka their Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs spokesman – a major role given he’s only been a party member for two minutes, figuratively speaking.

    To be fair to the Lib Dems, they were completely hollowed out by Orange bookers’ Clegg and Osborne’s chum at the Treasury and partner in austerity, Danny Alexander. The result being a threadbare field of MPs to pick from in 2019.

    It’s said of the 2010-2015 Tory/ Lib Dem coalition cabinet, only Chris Huhne was really prepared to object and argue things out with David Cameron. Then, integrity initiative linked Isabel Oakeshott (yes, her again)was involved in teasing out the Vicky Pryce ‘speeding points’ story and the rest is history.

  • Mark

    “On second referenda, I do not believe it is democratic to have one before the result has been respected and it has been tried.”

    Agree completely Craig, but I doesn’t seem wise to decide subjects of profound importance on a 50% + 1 vote. The logical conclusion being that the nation’s fate can be decided by one swing voter!

    The outcome of brexit and indy was decided by such a small majority that their outcome is still being contested. This has, in the case of brexit, resulted in three years of government paralysis and dysfunctionality; the consequences of which have been to the detriment of the entire country . And in the case of indy, as exemplified on this blog, that outcome continues to fester amongst those whose opinions did not prevail.

    To alleviate similar division in future referenda, where an outcome other than the status quo would result in significant change, would it not be better to decide the outcome on a 2/3 majority vote? The intent being to ensure that, for all practical purposes, the decision is accepted by the general populace and implemented by the government without further debate?

  • Dungroanin

    I got to that point of well let them have their cake and see if they can eat it, quite early after the referendum.

    I understood that many voted leave out of a mischievous sense and many others because they were targeted via their FB as Cummings proudly crowed
    “In the official 10 week campaign we served about one billion targeted digital adverts, mostly via Facebook and strongly weighted to the period around postal voting and the last 10 days of the campaign…”

    People don’t like to admit they were tricked – Mark Twain said something about that.

    Anecdotally, my good friend was begining to crack on his brexit vote andABC bbc propaganda ingestion (after not being able to give me a SINGLE bad event in HIS personal experience of life that could be laid at the door of EU membership; whilst still believing his occasional jobs in the EU would not be in anyway affected!) until yesterdays 4 page public letter from Johnson (Cummings) to the EU! Finally he says this is what it’s about – Sovereignty!

    The mind buggery of Cummings and his masters is sophisticated and deep rooted.

    The political faces only say what the they are told to ensure the brexit is hard – any deal that threatens the freedom of the City or nato hagemony, just cannot be considered. (that includes all variants of EU membership).

  • Goose

    Politicians tend to fall into two broad categories: Leaders and followers.

    Followers are usually always reactionaries; individuals who’ll say anything to be popular. They’ll do a 180 on any given subject to get cheap applause. They have no principled positions on anything; few ideas or ideals. They are vulnerable to being influenced by press coverage and press campaigns and aren’t confident enough in their own judgement to form and defend their own opinions. They are generally careerists and Westminster is sadly swimming with them.

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