Beyond the Brexit Debacle 592


If we focus only on the near term and on Brexit, we are doing precisely what Boris Johnson wishes. But the ramifications of the last few weeks will have effects on politics on the British Isles that are far more far reaching than even the question of EU membership. Let us think about those.

In a remarkably short period of time, the Conservative Party has radically changed. Seven year Conservative Prime Minister John Major is today taking this Conservative government to court, alleging ill intent in advice given to the Queen. Figures like Ken Clarke and Phil Hammond, who to this date have been real senior figures in Tory history, are actually threatened with expulsion.

Even Thatcher accepted that the Tory Party had a wing that tended to be closer to liberal or social democratic ideas, and never tried to throw her “wets” out of parliament. Dominic Grieve told the BBC today that he did not recognise what No.10 is doing as within the traditions of the Conservative Party. That perception is correct. What Boris Johnson is doing is changing the Conservative Party into something fundamentally other.

One fascinating development is Johnson and Javid’s rhetorical break with the traditional Tory right, instead to make populist public spending promises. Promises of 20,000 more policemen, and oodles more funding for schools, colleges and the NHS, are not the usual watchwords of the Tory right. It may surprise you to learn that I am inclined to think that these promises may not just be empty rhetoric, but this bit of populism may have real intent behind it. How this squares with more traditional Tories on public spending like McVey or Patel, or with Johnson’s promises on tax cuts, remains to be seen. But the switch to a more statist right in the economic as well as the civil sphere – something moving closer to the classic fascist model – might be one of the changes we are seeing.

My expectation is that this circle will be squared by a rigorous “good spending/bad spending” divide. Police, prisons, border control agents and of course the military will all be “good” public spending. So will education and the NHS because they are popular. This will be balanced by vigorous attacks on “bad” public spending – especially on welfare benefits, but also overseas aid, devolved administrations and local government.

How this will work out for the Tories electorally is a conundrum. The Tory base rural vote is predominantly Brexit and will probably be little affected. Johnson appears to be prepared to write off the more urbane and middle class vote and thus simply give up on Tory chances places likine Richmond or Bath. His hope must be that the combination of popular public spending messages on the NHS and education, plus the continued harnessing of anti-immigrant xenophobia, will win enough urban votes in Birmingham, Sunderland and Blackburn.

That seems to me very high risk. To take on Jeremy Corbyn in a general election on the basis of who can most credibly promise increased public spending seems strange ground to choose. Plus no matter how much you ramp up the xenophobia or how many upgraded hospitals you promise, the cultural obstacles to getting the people of Hartlepool to put their cross against a Tory remain enormous. The pundits talk as though the Brexit Party vote and the Tory Party vote are interchangeable and it all hinges on whether Farage stands candidates. That is simply wrong. There are many thousands of people in Hartlepool and towns like it who would vote Brexit but won’t vote Tory.

I suspect Johnson and Cummings have blundered into a first past the post trap by being too clever. They have alienated enough educated and liberal Tory voters to lose seats, while replacing them with voters who respond to the populism, but in areas where they won’t be able to take many seats. Tory gains will be limited largely to the Midlands, but outbalanced by losses. In essence, they may get a plurality of the vote but spread too evenly, and FPTP will see them losing ground to the SNP in Scotland, Labour in the bigger cities and the Lib Dems in rich suburbs and county towns.

That analysis stands whether the election is next month or any time to 2022.

If you choose to change a political party fundamentally, you need to be sure that the new version is more popular. Concentrating on the one issue of Brexit, and calculating that he could hoover up all Brexit voters, is likely to be Johnson’s downfall. He appears engaged in a colossal act of hubris.

In Scotland, all of this is still more reason to get out of the toxic politics of the United Kingdom. Nicola Sturgeon should announce now that if there is an early Westminster election, the SNP will fight that election on the basis that victory will result in a declaration of Independence, and Scotland will not then be exiting the European Union at all. The SNP desperately needs to focus on Independence and not on the position of the UK within the EU or on the powers of the Westminster parliament.

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592 thoughts on “Beyond the Brexit Debacle

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  • Sharp Ears

    Johnson’s brother, Jo, is resigning as an MP and Minister of State for Universities and Science.

    @JoJohnsonUK
    7m
    It’s been an honour to represent Orpington for 9 years & to serve as a minister under three PMs. In recent weeks I’ve been torn between family loyalty and the national interest – it’s an unresolvable tension & time for others to take on my roles as MP & Minister. #overandout

    Oops!

    • N_

      And Jo Johnson was in the Cabinet too. Most of the universities are strongly opposed to Brexit. It would be interesting to look at whether there is a divide over Brexit between those that get the largest chunk of funding from Big Pharma and those that get it from the weapons sector. Oxford and Cambridge of course have a lot of pull in the civil service.

      I wonder whether his brother will have time to appoint a replacement. Maybe he won’t before other seats in the Cabinet start getting emptied.

  • N_

    Why did the government unattributably suggest an election date of 14 October and then table a motion for 15 October instead?

    One explanation is that 14 October is an important date in Cummings’s planning, but wires got crossed somewhere by accident. Why is that date important? Because England play Bulgaria at football on 14 October. The Tory attack line would run like this:

    1) Keep on mentioning Bulgarians and Romanians in the campaign propaganda.
    2) Show film during and after the match of “Bulgarians celebrating in London”.

    Say you’re a racist cretin. Perhaps you voted Brexit in the Europeans, but you don’t remember. All you know is that the “Remoaners” want to take your stuff. And those Bulgarians in town, living 8 to a caravan, are getting most of the building trade jobs, working 14 hours a day. You may or may not vote, and even if you get your off your lardarse and leave the house tomorrow you may get distracted by going to the betting shop or pub instead. And then you watch the England match. And then there’s a black reporter on the BBC enjoying reporting how Bulgarians in London are celebrating Bulgaria’s second goal. Which in any case didn’t really go over the line. The referee doesn’t look white either. What you gonna do?

    This works best if the match is played on the day before the election, or even two days before, rather than on election night.
    (It also works best if England lose, which means there’s something in it for the SNP too.)

    • MyLeftfott96

      October 14th is a very special date in the Jewish religious calendar. This would mean that practsing Jews would not be able to vote and Johnson is heavily reliant on the Jewish vote, as it is by taking October 15th, he has allowed them only three hours to register their vote as the religious festival ends at 19:00 on 15th and polling stations close at 22:00.

  • Gary

    I have to disagree, again, on the issue of how SNP deal with Independence. For SNP and other Indy supporters to carry weight and not simply be crushed in the same way the Catalan vote and government was we need to have MUCH more support than we currently do. At the moment there is enough for a win, and, were there a campaign of the nature of the last one we would be able to increase from 50% to 70%, it would be a CONVINCING win.

    Doing other than winning a referendum would require we already had that level of support in the polls, and consistently for a number of years, at LEAST two years in my view. Sturgeon declaring UDI on the back of an election would roundly be ignored by Westminster. And Holyrood doesn’t have the administrative capacity to (overnight) take on the role of governing this country.

    In short, it’s unrealistic and there ARE certain things that cannot be done as party policy from a GE, this is one. The other thing is assuming your voters support your position on Brexit. Many of the party faithful, the base vote, will vote for their party no matter what. It may simply be to ‘keep the other lot out’ or it may be misguided loyalty. Look how Labour has retained voters who, when questioned in polls, disagree with some of their most important policies.

    No, it must be a referendum, it must be legal & above board for it to ‘stick’ as well. We know from bitter previous experience just how low UK Gov will sink even in THOSE circumstances, what levels would they stoop to in the event of UDI??

    For UDI to stick it would need the support of nigh on every man, woman & child in the country. We’re not there YET…

    • N_

      @Gary – If you think indy would win 70%, either the pollsters must be lying or indy supporters must be lying to the pollsters and pretending they support the union.

      You are right that UDI would not be successful without a very high level of support in the population. It would also need support in the police and army. Basically UDI is sh*t talk.

      • Terry callachan

        UDI could be done if a general election gave SNP nearly all the seats in Westminster.
        The army wouldn’t be needed there is no Scottish army .
        The police in Scotland would be expected to control any breaking of the law and could do so quite easily in my opinion.

        Would england send soldiers from the British army to Scotland ? I doubt it ,really I can’t see that happening at all.

        Having said that UDI is in my opinion not necessary ,what Scotland will do is seek an amicable separation from England once it has more than fifty percent of the population voting in favour of Scottish independence, that is a legal and legitimate way forward and it is in the interest of Scotland and England to separate with negotiated agreements on the way forward.
        People in Scotland who supported Scottish independence in 2014 and in other independence referendums have accepted that they lost those votes and were not a majority , yrs it was difficult to accept but it was accepted nevertheless.
        If a majority vote in favour of Scottish independence the minority will accept that too, it will not be easy for them to do so but they will accept that they are a minority.

        That is the democratic process.
        It works
        Scotland and England will adhere to that process

        • Komodo

          Yup, the referendum as *democratic* process. I wonder how many voters in the EU referendum voted for three years of incompetent faffing about and a good chance of more, with no route to the *democratically* determined goal in sight yet?

  • N_

    Michael Gove appeared today before the Brexit select committee chaired by Hilary Benn.
    Benn asked him to admit that nobody knows what will happen in the event of No Deal.
    Gove replied “The future is known only to the Almighty.”
    How drole.

    This might not be so interesting, had Gove not previously attacked Theresa May as a “continuity Catholic” because her father was an Anglican vicar. And that was before the 2017 election and the supply and confidence arrangement with the DUP. For those who don’t already know, the word “continuity” was a reference to the faction of the IRA that wished to continue the military conflict against Britain. Very strong language for a senior Tory to use against another one. In those days it was, anyway.

    What’s this with “the Almighty”?
    Is Gove an Antichrist boy, a Rupture awaiter?
    That’s two indications so far.

    I’ll have to have another look at his book “Celsius 7/7”. He is certainly strongly anti-Arab and pro-Israeli. I assumed that was to do with lining his pockets. But Antichrist merchants do have a special interest in the Middle East.

    • Ken Kenn

      Did you mean a Bannonite Rapturist?

      I hope Netanyahu didn’t arrive in Downing Street in a flaming chariot – otherwise the Brexit games up and we’re all going to Heaven Lads – wheyyyy..

      Gaslighting Gove lied through his teeth re: proroguing Parliament with his ” context ” argument despite having his actual utterances on tape.

      You would not get that past Andrew Neil – marr is easy meat.

      the BBC conducted the same ” context argument against the Sikh MP this morning on the ‘ Verandah of Lies ‘ where they attempted to ask the question ” Are we ( the BBC ) sure Johnson’s a racist?

      The same question was begged by the BBC re: Trump a few weeks ago.

      I am sure to my bones that the BBC’s job is to manage the decline of the Tory Party and the way Johnson is speeding up that decline is causing all sorts of problems at the State Broadcaster hence the end of the Sikh MPs interview they tried the pathetic anti semitism schtick , as if to say -well you lot are just as bad and we know Labour’s racist.

      I can guarantee that the 5 week Proroguement will be used by Johnson/Cummings with assistance from the BBC hierarchy to follow Johnson around and follow Johnson and his Cabinet of lunatics selling their policies to the Nation.

      Meanwhile Corbyn’s Labour -the SNP and Rebel Tories plus of course the Lib Dems will be available but will only appear when they need to be sniped at.

      You don’t need an alleged BBC ‘ balance ‘ when there’s no election happening.

      Space abhors a vacuum and the BBC will fill the dead air with Tory promises.

      Forgetting to add the fact that these are only promises.

      Johnson will rarely be questioned about how to pay for this right on Tory largesse but the Labour Party will be everytime they appear.

      Plus the usual doses of anti semitism accusations of course.

      That’s a staple.

      Watch this space as there’s going to be plenty of it for five weeks.

      Laura Kuensberg will lead the charge, as always.

  • michael norton

    it is possible that the Johnson family are pulling a flanker.
    Brother Jon resigns from government and from being an M.P.
    This would greatly cheer the heart of the Remainer M.P.s
    LibDems and Labour are encouraged, as Boris plan seems to fall apart.
    Go on Corbyn, call for a General Election you know you want to.
    Saw Jo Swinson being interviewd by Andrew Neil, she will not under any circumstances accept Corbyn as even a caretaker Prime minister and she seemed to be shitting herself at ANY prospect of a General Election.

    So no general election, the rabble have not got the balls to call for one.

  • mike

    Labour now have to make it CRYSTAL CLEAR that a) they respect the result of the 2016 referendum, but that b) No Deal will do huge damage to the British economy.

    To have any hope of winning an election they MUST carry the north of England, and that means leaving the EU. But they must also hammer home the message that the UK NEEDS a good deal so we can have the best of both worlds.

    The Centrist plan now, it seems, is to use Corbyn to thwart the Brexiteers, and then enjoy it when he reaps the whirlwind at the election. Then it’ll be business as usual, with Watson at the helm.

    • michael norton

      It was amazing to Learn that Luciana has been welcome into the bosom of Jo Swinson.
      Apart from the fact they are both mothers the only other things they have in common is a hatred of Corbyn and a determination that democracy must be crushed and that the U.K. will stay in the E.U.
      oh and they do not want an election.

      • Deb O'Nair

        Swinson is hoping for more anti-Corbyn defectors from Labour. She stood up yesterday and praised the Tories who had been sacked, presumably hoping to appeal to Tory voters and persuade other Tory MPs. All looks a bit desperate; the LibDems are rapidly turning into the party of malcontents. Corbyn’s performance in parliament this week has probably made her and the LibDems a political irrelevance.

        • Jo1

          She’ll know all about it soon and will have to watch her own back. Chuka is a bag of tricks but with Berger there now too Swinson will not have her sorrows to seek. As a leader so far she’s not exactly shone. Comes over like Head Prefect. But she’s already itching to wreck the consensus in Parliament recently.

          • michael norton

            Swinson, seems to basing the LibDem juices on not wanting an election.

            I would have thought if you only had a dozen m.p.s and the government were self-imploding you would base your stand on demanding an election, so you could show Sir Vince you were far more up to date than he ever was, she is afraid
            of the public but what is the shadow, is it the fact that the U.K. voted for Brxit and almost nobody has changed their minds, just that each side of the debate has become much more entrenched.
            Meaning that cowardly Swinson does not think he call to stay in the E.U. will bring over anybody to her side, other than a few turncoat M.P.s shoved out by their own party.

      • giyane

        michael norton

        ” Democracy must be crushed ”

        brexit always was a divide and rule distraction from the nasty things the nasty party wants to do .

        The fantasy that we were being consulted has given the Tories three years of fake democratic kudos and even their own party are now rattled by the obvious logical consequences of that special place in hell that the ERG and Johnson inhabit.

        Just as you can see a balloon of Trump full of Helium in the air, you should have been able to see. with your inner eye if necessary, that this referendum was total Tory hot air.
        Stll if you’ve nothing better to do than whinge, mind it doesn’t go pop in your face when the mirage of Brexit doesn’t occur.

        • michael norton

          giyane,
          “Demorcracy must be crushed”
          yes, recently saw an interview with the Labour woman Emily Thornberry
          she will prepare a Brexit strategy but will be campaigning to stay in the European Union.
          These M.P.s can not help themselves, their arrogance shines out of them,
          none of the Remainer M.P.s have any intention of honouring the result of the 2016 Referendum.
          Democracy is over in the U.K.
          they will not let us go.

    • Deb O'Nair

      Have you read this? It’s CRYSTAL CLEAR. Don’t let the Tory media and their Tory pundits tell you any different. When senior Labour MPs are constantly quizzed on these subjects you can sense the exasperation – it’s a ploy to make the public think they are split or dithering on the matter.

      “Labour accepts the referendum result and a Labour government will put the national interest first.”
      “Labour recognises that leaving the EU with ‘no deal’ is the worst possible deal for Britain”
      https://labour.org.uk/manifesto/negotiating-brexit/

    • Deb O'Nair

      “Then it’ll be business as usual, with Watson at the helm.”

      I think you”ll find he’s pretty much done for, he has literally gone into hiding since he was fingered by the police for leading them on in the Carl Beech case.

      • michael norton

        Tom Watson expected to face calls to resign when extent of ties to ‘Nick’ are revealed in unredacted report
        https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/09/01/tom-watson-face-calls-resign-extent-ties-nick-revealed-underacted/
        Mr Watson has attempted to minimise his contacts with Carl Beech, a fantasist now serving 18 years in jail for perverting the course of justice, fraud and paedophile offences.

        But a report written by Sir Richard Henriques, a retired High Court judge, will suggest that police were heavily influenced by Mr Watson’s pursuit of historic sex abuse allegations.

        The Henriques report is understood to express concern that police may have felt under pressure as a result of Mr Watson’s links to Beech.

        Oh dear Tom has put himself in the bad spotlight.

        Virtue Signalling is not a pleasant look.

  • John2o2o

    This from Peter Hitchens tonight:

    “1.The real problem with our system is not Parliament, but the two dead parties which dominate it, and which long ago ceased to represent the real divisions in the country. An adversarial Parliament is vital to liberty, but can’t work unless the division is real.

    2. State funding, dodgy billionaires and broadcasting rules which favour inertia have all helped to keep the two dead parties alive. A ‘None of the Below’ slot at the top of the ballot, and a rule requiring a minimum vote (40%?) to be elected, might help overturn this.”

    • John2o2o

      In terms of the UK at least I tend to agree with most of what Peter Hitchens says. I cannot stomach any of the main political parties in the UK and I cannot vote SNP anyway.

      It turns my stomach that one school – Eton – still wields so much power and influence. If daddy has enough money to send you there then you too can become Prime Minister. How can this be right? Both David Cameron and Boris Johnson in the same class! At least Thatcher and Major for all their faults were working class.

      The problem with Crosland’s education reforms of the 1960s and 1970s is that they did not go far enough. Fee paying schools such as Eton should also have been closed along with most of the grammars.

      And the old grammar school system did have some merit. My dad’s cousins were from working class homes. Both enjoyed careers they may otherwise not have had as a GP and a director of ICI. The latter retired at 50. And a friend of mine whose father is now in Who’s Who was from a working class family in north London and also benefitted greatly from a grammar school education.

      I think the “Old Boy Network” that people used to say prevented advancement in the working class is still alive and well. P Hitchens told people not to vote for the Conservative Party, but still they did not listen to him.

      In the perhaps unlikely event that Scotland does gain independence I will still have the option of emigrating.

      And I still believe that my mother, born and raised in a working class home in Scotland should have the vote in any referendum, despite living in England!

      • SA

        Jo
        You omit to link all this rather corrupt system to the lack of a constitution and the fact that our head of state is aunelected hereditary monarch and the second chamber is unelected. The whole system is not fit for use in the twenty first century hence the constitutional mess we are currently witnessing. I refer to your orevious posts in defence of Andrew which I agreed with you because it was an attack on the individual rather than the system.

          • Iain Stewart

            “And for the millionth time: I am not a monarchist!”
            But perfectly happy to be living in a monarchy. We understand. A sort of passive monarchist?

          • John2o2o

            sigh, Iain, well perhaps something like that if you want. I’m really tired of the subject.

            It’s a constitutional monarchy not an absolute monarchy. The Queen’s hands are very much tied – she can’t vote and she can’t stand for election. Call me mean, but I kind of like it that way.

          • SA

            But herein is the problem. Kingdoms and monarchies are outdated systems. You must recognize this surely. No point whether it is a constitutional monarchy or a fairy tale monarchy , it belongs to the past. It is an embodiment and a perpetuation if inequality. What is the use of not being a monarchist if you are happy with this archaic system.

  • Tony

    So, we’ve had a coup against the standing government by a ragtag of usually opposing forces due to the standing government trying to carry out the will of the people?

    Democracy is finished in the UK, and it ain’t because of the right wing pillock Johnston and his cabal. It’s entirely down to their neoliberal opponents./ Welcome to wage reductions forever, working class and lower middle class people forever. But your betters always know better.

    • Dungroanin

      The coup is still under construction.

      The standing government is the one that has disenfranchised 20 of their own.

      Many ‘rats’ are jumping ship ahead of the impending coup. A gnu is the coup.

      • michael norton

        If Boris holds his ground and is still clinging to power on the First of November
        and we have crashed out of the horrible European Union, without any deals,he will be the saviour of the United Kingdom.
        But what then happens?
        Do the crazed Remoaners set the police on Boris because he would not bow down to their mad new law?

  • michael norton

    E.U. chief Guy Verhofstadt calls a Brexit delay “unacceptable” and suggests an election should be called as
    France threatens to veto an extension beyond October 31 despite Remoaner M.P.s’ new law

    We are still confused

  • fwl

    I don’t think racism is exactly what is fundamentally behind Brexit. What’s possibly behind it is an attempt to create the environment to end the welfare state. I suspect there are also several other purposes including for some an attempt to prepare for an economic meltdown whilst for others an attempt to kickstart the meltdown and profit from it.

    Racism if not the driver is the flag i.e. the way in which it is sold to those who benefit from the welfare state and who would otherwise be expected to want to preserve it.

    You could compare this to how the Republican Party chose the right to life agenda as a way to mobilise support from the less well off for policies which support the well off.

    If your wealthy and your policies suit you but you and your kind are in a minority then you have to come at things sideways or else why would the majority support you. For this reason Brexit is not what it appears to be.

    Apparently the Grand Old Party initially considered racism as opposed to right to life but dismissed it as just way too unpleasant and dangerous (that was long before Trump). By utilising right to life the GOP has ended up with a narrow party. It used to be that Republicans might be pro-abortion and you could have anti-abortion Democrats, but not any more. Previously people might generally identify as one party or another for social, family class reasons but then have considerable differences in outlook. When the party of a small group decide they need to bring in outsiders who wouldn’t usually feel part of the family then the minority decide to sell the group on some phoney basis to the outsiders. That is where the trouble begins.

    That narrowing downs going on in British parties too in both the Conservatives and Labour.

    • michael norton

      Many of the Remainer M.P.s & Turncoat M.P.’s”represent” Leave constituencies.
      At the forthcoming General Election,
      they will be toast.

      • Tony

        I doubt they care. They will be looked after handsomely post-Lower House by their Establishment sponsors, with plc directorships, consultancies and suchlike.

  • N_

    Black Rod looked furious when listening to John Bercow express his disapproval of the prorogation.Opposition MPs stayed in the Commons chamber rather than follow Black Rod to the Lords. And they had a singsong, singing Flower of Scotland, Bread of Heaven, Jerusalem, and the Red Flag.

    Credit where it’s due!

  • N_

    Let’s not hear it from John Bercow, who should have stayed in his seat and ordered Black Rod out of the Commons chamber. That would have put the House of Lords and the monarchy at risk, so he didn’t.

    Let’s hear it for the Welsh, Scottish, and English MPs who sang Bread of Heaven (in Welsh – go boyos!!!), Scots Wha Hae (by Robert Burns), Flower of Scotland, Jerusalem, and the Red Flag. This is the kind of union we should want to see – a kick in the teeth for the Tory scum wherever they are from.

    It is to be noted that when opposition MPs actually show a bit of mettle and chant “Shame on You” against the Tory coup-supporting minority, Tories everywhere act as Tories always will until they are wiped off the map – by calling the oppositionists “street thugs” etc. Yes, resisting the coup is so “common”.

    I hope those who sang Jerusalem sang the real words written by William Blake (“these Satanic mills”) and not the filthy Tory words “those Satanic mills”. William Blake, England and London’s greatest poet, you rise again!!

  • Hatuey

    The SNP shouldn’t be sitting in Parliament amongst that shower of weirdos. It’s not like they’re going to achieve a thing by doing so. If they had simply walked out during the PM’s speech last night, they would have said and achieved a lot more than Blackford ever could.

    We are now 100% leaving the EU. Our hopes are pinned on Corbyn doing well in an election. It’s like one of those odd nightmares you have when you’ve been drinking tequila or something.

    What genius at SNP HQ came up with this plan?

    • N_

      Dividing the opposition when a welcome unity appears is the last thing that is needed. Did you not like it that Scottish, Welsh and English songs were sung together in the same room against the Tory coup? The words of the filthy United Kingdom regime’s filthy anthem, “God Save the Queen”, were not heard.

  • michael norton

    Jeremy Corbyn stands on his head
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-49646544
    Jeremy Corbyn is expected to “clarify” Labour’s Brexit position later,
    arguing voters should be able to choose between a “credible” Leave option and staying in the European Union in another referendum.

    But he does not want a General Election, any time soon.
    Those messages about Labour Leave Voters, leaving Labour, must just be getting through.

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