Beyond the Brexit Debacle 591

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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591 thoughts on “Beyond the Brexit Debacle

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  • Mist001

    Sturgeon can’t fight an fight that election the basis that victory will result in a declaration of Independence because as it stands, Scotland isn’t even a member of the EU. It’s only a part of the EU by virtue of the fact that it’s also a part of the UK which is currently a member. Independence for Scotland now would mean a hard, no deal ‘Scexit’ for Scotland, the very thing Sturgeon has been fighting to stop happening to the UK instead of concentrating on independence. She has painted herself into a corner with her lack of independence strategy so the best chance of independence is post Brexit, once the UK is actually out of the EU.

    Not that that’s going to happen with Sturgeon at the helm.

    • Mist001

      Why is my first sentence all gobbledegook? It should read ‘Sturgeon can’t fight an election on the basis that victory will result in a declaration of Independence”


    • craig Post author

      You are missing the political will of the EU entirely out of the equation. The political will of the EU to retain Scotland would be extremely high. Scotland already complies with the acquis communitaire.

      • Mist001

        I’m not missing the political will of the EU. As it stands, Scotland isn’t a member of the EU, so it can’t be retained, no matter how much the EU likes to tell Scotland it will. If Scotland was a member, then Brexit wouldn’t be a problem. An independent Scotland can of course apply to join the EU and may well be fast tracked into becoming a fully fledged member state but until such time, an independent Scotland will play no part in the EU.

        • Wlllie

          What absolute rubbish. Scotland is a member of the EU right now. It’s farming, service sector, manufacturing and financial sector and then need all other industry sectors and already EU compliant.

          That the same goes for societal protections such as employment rights Scotland is similarly EU compliant.

          Not quite sure how Scotland, who still has civil servants attending EU institutions couldn’t continue as a member. It is after all England who wants to cede from the EU.

          Ach well too wee too stupid, what does Jocko know. so listen up morons.

          • Mist001

            “Scotland is a member of the EU right now.”

            People like you are going to destroy Scotlands chance of independence. If there’s one thing that stands out for me, it’s the amount of misinformation which is spread by independence supporters and because the majority that I’ve encountered are as gullible and accepting as all the others, whatever is said becomes an accepted truth and when you challenge them on it, or attempt to correct it, you become subject to a tirade of abuse which even the SNP themselves have addressed.

            Scotland is not, and never has been, a member of the EU. That is fact, no matter how much you and your goons would like to believe otherwise. If Scotland gains independence, it starts off as a third country and has to apply to become a member.

            Unless you can factually demonstrate otherwise, about which I’m not holding my breath any time soon.

          • Geoffrey

            Scotland is not a member because it isn’t a member and never has been and probably never will be.

        • Stonky

          Scotland is not, and never has been, a member of the EU. That is fact, no matter how much you and your goons would like to believe otherwise….

          England is not, and never has been, a member of the EU. That is a fact, no matter how much you and your goons would like to believe otherwise.

          And yet, and yet… By means of some miraculous mechanism which both existed and did not exist at the same time, should Scotland have voted for independence in 2014, England was going to benefit from the existent non-existent mechanism and remain as a member of the EU, while Scotland was not going to benefit from the existent non-existent mechanism and be booted out.

          It’s very simple Mist. An independent Scotland in 2019 can benefit from exactly the same miraculous existent non-existent mechanism that England was going to benefit from post-2014, and remain a member of the EU.

          • alwi

            “An independent Scotland in 2019 can benefit from exactly the same miraculous existent non-existent mechanism that England was going to benefit from post-2014, and remain a member of the EU.”

            Whether technically incorrect or not, watch them fall over themselves to facilitate exactly that. Formality.

      • John A

        How would Scotland in the EU solve the integrity of the single market without a hard border? In the case of Ireland, the obvious and simplest solution is the Irish Sea and port checks but that is not possible with England/Scotland.

        For the avoidance of doubt, I am a critic of the EU for its neoliberal policies but voted remain because it is better to try to change things from within and fear No Deal would be a total nightmare.

      • N_

        Scotland already complies with the acquis communitaire.!
        Using a third country’s currency wouldn’t be compliant with the “Have your own central bank” rule though.

        @Craig, you are flying out of the window as Halloween approaches. In the year or two after a victory for indy in a second indyref, while negotiations were going on with rump Britain on the details of the break and of post-break relations, Scotland might or might not be able to arrange to join the EU on indy day. Insisting it already belongs or has a “right” to belong is what is said to win votes from morons and could not be part of a negotiating strategy. Those who put a premium on close relations with rB rather than with EU27 would include almost everyone who voted for the union and at least a proportion of those who voted for indy. Hard border or EU non-membership? Some would answer “Hard border, yes please, let’s build Hadrian’s wall 10 foot higher now that we’re freeeee”, but many Scots living in Scotland have family among the millions of Scots who live in rB, and for that matter among the English people and those of other nationalities who live in rB too. If rB were to be outside the SM and CU (which is not a matter on which iScotland would have any say) and iScotland were to belong to the EU then there would have to be a hard border. There are no two ways about that. Partei faithful could whinge about “Project Fear” but many know what “having yer car searched for booze on the A74(M)/M6” means. RB-iS relations if RB were to be outside the EU (and SM and CU) and iS inside it would not be like relations between the ROI and Britain which both joined the EU on the same day.

        And how you envisage a Tory-run Britain or rB after Brexit assumes the economy is not going to tank. There will probably be a large increase in military spending, yes – the defence review or whatever name it now goes under is lurking in the background of British politics – but there will be no Hitleroid version of Keynesianism that improves the NHS because it’s “popular”. Britain is about to collapse.

        British fascism – if we can use the term “fascism” to cover Fascism proprement dit (in Italy), Nazism, Ustashism, Francoism, the “Christ the King” variant, etc. – is of its own type.

        • lysias

          Cummings’s idol Bismarck instituted a lot of social welfare measures, including establishing a health service that still exists.

      • Northern

        Where does the government of Madrid and it’s issues with Catalonia fit into the EU’s political will though? Or do you estimate that Brussels plans to roll out the red carpet for Scotland and simply ignore the precedent it sets for the Spaniards?

        Would like to see someone address this issue of Scottish retention of EU membership on a legal level as I’ve brought it up several times and thus far only seen vague responses. Is it not the UK which holds membership? I understand we’re in unprecedented territory but I find it hard to believe no legal course was ever defined for a member state to leave when drafting the treaties? I’d have thought that’d be a pretty black and white question?

        • Madison

          I’m not a lawyer, but ….

          I would suspect that indy does take the new nation of Scotland outside the EU. But, then its a question of how quickly can the EU move to bring Scotland into the EU? If for instance a first step is a council meeting of the EU27 leaders, that could be scheduled within days of the election results, or even be meeting while waiting for the election results. And would the EU be willing to put into place some sort of “Welcome Home” transition plan that effectively brings Scotland close to the EU while whatever steps for ratification can occur? If the EU looks favorably upon this move, they can take steps to make it quicker and easier.

      • Madison

        From a distance, it appears that a politicians 180 u-turn has been apparent in the EU’s language. IIRC, in the last indyref campaign, much was made about indy taking Scotland outside the EU. And IIRC, the EU was taking the same stance as it took towards Catalonia and saying that indy’s success meant being outside the EU. The EU has in the past tended to support its member states and oppose indy movement’s within them.

        However, with all the feelings that the Tories have stirred up in Brussels over the last few years, I now seem to get the impression that the EU’s sharp u-turn is now saying that Scotland could quickly move into the EU after indy. And, with the UK heading out of the EU, now the EU’s natural preference for supporting the states that comprise it no longer creates an objection to Scotland becoming indy.

      • Fwl

        Craig, in suggesting that the political will of the EU would be such as to drive the impossible into the possible no matter the legality of it are you not taking the same position as you accuse the Government of taking.

        That is to say you accuse the Government of rough riding the constitution and convention to drive home their political ambition, but when it comes to Scotland you invite and even anticipate that Scotland and the EU will similarly achieve their end through rough riding over convention and law.

  • jake

    “Police, prisons, border control agents and of course the military will all be “good” public spending”
    They are being fattened up before market.

  • Republicofscotland

    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.

    I agree Sturgeon should attempt to run on a ticket that a majority is equivalent to a independence win, and even if by some miracle Johnson is defeated and we remain in the EU, this whole Westminstsr debacle, and others over the decades, along with this unfit for purpose union means we must still have a srcond indy referendum no matter what.

    Im sure Misty 001, will hold you to task on how Scotland can remain in the EU.

        • Mist001

          If the EU was prepared to re-write the treaties, then I think they’d have to make the same offer to England, Wales and NI since no one individual nation of the UK is a member of the EU. If they did this, then the Brexit matter would be solved.

          If that Fullfact page is correct, then you would have to imagine the the EU have already looked at this option and for some reason, have declined to follow it through.

          • Republicofscotland

            “If that Fullfact page is correct, then you would have to imagine the the EU have already looked at this option and for some reason, have declined to follow it through.”

            Or there’s a slim chance they’re waiting to see how Brexit, and a second Scottish independence referendum turns out to see which direction they’ll move in.

            I say that knowing back in 2014 the weight of the EU was against a independence referendum, voiced by the likes of Barroso and several other EU figures.

            However fast forward to today, and EU political goodwill towards the possibility of an independent Scotland within the EU appears to be positive.

            I shall remain positive on the matter.

    • N_

      I agree Sturgeon should attempt to run on a ticket that a majority is equivalent to a independence win

      Then don’t put anything in the manifesto (in a British general election – those are the ones that get the highest turnout in Scotland, much higher than Holyrood elections) about how people in Scotland’s wellbeing should be protected and improved if Scotland stays part of Britain.

      Don’t make any promises about that. Instruct SNP politicians that if they’re asked that kind of question they should blow raspberries.

  • Hatuey

    Johnson’s emphasis on NHS spending, education, etc., was indeed odd. My sense is that he was just trying to give an impression of normality existing as far as Tory policy was concerned, in spite of Brexit and after Brexit. It was clearly aimed at Tory rebels and he is clearly vexed. I think he’s saying that it’s the same old Tory party and somewhere they can find a home if they would just accept his brexit plans and Brexit itself.

    “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.”

    I’d love that and made a comment along those lines myself yesterday. She won’t do that though. At best she will say a vote for the SNP is a vote for indyref2, something she already has 3 mandates for. Maybe she’ll surprise us and actually do something some day.

    • John A

      Has Boris promised the NHS the mythical 350 million the Brexiters swore would be available after leaving?

      • N_

        He will do. He’ll probably promise a higher figure. Why not £750 million?

        Note to Seumas – in Labour’s propaganda you need to include a clip of Donald Trump standing next to Theresa May and saying that in a US-British trade deal the NHS must be offered for sale. Play it again and again.

        These scum want Britain to go bankrupt. That’s one area of life that the deranged Trump actually knows about, given how many times he himself has filed for corporate bankruptcy. Snap up any profit-making assets and chuck the rest in the bin or sell them as scrap.

  • lolwhites

    6.5 million people voted tactically in 2017 to stop Theresa May and it very nearly worked. I suspect even greater numbers would put their political allegiance to one side to vote for whoever stands the best chance of stopping Boris Johnson.

    • N_

      Which 6.5 million people? I’ve not heard that before.

      Whoever the Sun backs will win. Nobody aged under 63 has ever voted in a British general election where that hasn’t happened.

      • bevin

        “Whoever the Sun backs will win. Nobody aged under 63 has ever voted in a British general election where that hasn’t happened.”
        A classic example of fallacious reasoning.

        • N_

          I’m aware it’s not simple A to B causation. It’s not as if the Sun is independent anyway. But the second sentence you quote is factual and I wish more people were aware of it, because it can help focus minds on what we’re up against.

          • N_

            Also @bevin, this would be a nice area to have a discussion about. I’d like to hear your thoughts other than in the form of a six-worder tweet-style reply – what facts and possible facts and lines of reasoning and speculation you think are relevant, and so on. I believe the fact I stated deserves far more consideration from the radical left than it gets. I don’t hold with the view that it’s just a bit of irrelevance.

          • Iain Stewart

            Bevin could be pining for Habbabkuk and the longwinded (and sometimes entertaining) shouting arguments the two of them would have across their ideological fences (Trotskyist and Thatcherite) which used to enliven this blog in the olden days.

  • N_

    So will education and the NHS because they are popular.

    So are having a job, not being in debt, and not paying rent to a landlord.

  • sapo

    “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.”

    Craig, you keep wishing for Nicola Sturgeon to basically grow wings and fly.

    • Lizzy55

      She needs to do something, because doing nothing is no longer a credible option. She has a triple mandate and now is the time to use it. Why are we waiting until it really hits the Scottish ppl hard. It’s already biting.

      • N_

        She needs to do something, because doing nothing is no longer a credible option.

        If she doesn’t feel she can run the devolved administration, which is what her minority government propped up by the Snotters is supposed to be doing, she should resign. Or call for a Scottish general election to try to get a majority. If she thinks it’s sensible, have holding a second indyref as the only point in the manifesto. Seriously I do not recommend UDI without a referendum – and if there’s a majority for indy in a referendum then there’s no need for UDI. The Partei hasn’t got either its own militia or sufficient support in the police, army or other armed forces for UDI. (If anyone thinks I am being flippant, I’m not. Take a look at some of the successful UDIs around the world.)

  • wonky

    To an outsider, the current goings-on in the kingdom are rather unsettling and .. sad.
    Can you islanders please get your act together, release Assange, throw Johnson and Blair and their entire fascist gang into solitary (rubber cell) confinement instead, and finally get rid of your sinister royal anachronisms, by dropping them off somewhere in the middle of Yemen by helicopter and without credit cards?
    What on earth has happened? All enlightenment.. out the window?
    And please note, the European Union is not Europe! Europe and its inhabitants, the Europeans, increasingly don’t give a toss about the “Union” and what Brussels does or doesn’t want. In fact, Brussels is history, they just don’t grasp it quite yet.
    England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales however is and always will be Europe. Please don’t bring more shame over Europe by going full-on rogue fascist! We all need a break from all the face-palming! Sanity can be a natural state, it doesn’t have to be a full-time struggle..

  • MJ

    “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”

    Of course it will. It is not a member and will therefore have to apply. That will take time. By “declaration of Independence” I take it you mean that the inconvenience of a referendum will be avoided.

  • N_

    Hartlepool with its 8000 Labour majority is not a Tory target, either for winning it themselves or for otherwise unseating Labour. A 100 seat majority will suit the Enoch Tories fine. They’re not aiming for 250.

    • Loony

      If I recall correctly Peter Mandelson was once the MP for Hartlepool.

      Man of the people Mandleson thought it important to be seen in a local fish and chip shop. When noticing the mushy peas he asked the server for a portion of guacamole.

      Mandelson went on to distinguish himself with involvement in a number of dishonest money grubbing schemes. Naturally once his reputation as an entirely dishonest person was solidified he was propelled aboard the EU gravy train. Strangely he is entirely supportive of the EU and will n doubt be interested in any offers to sell his image rights to promote the remain campaign.

      Naturally anyone not cheerleading for the particular brand of dishonesty epitomised by Mandelson will most likely be a homophobe and as such their views can be entirely ignored.

      • fredi

        Mandleson? Would that be this fine paradigm of lofty left wing ideals?

        Peter Mandelson pictured with Jeffrey Epstein: Labour ex-minister who’s friends with Prince Andrew shops with paedophile financier in 2005 after being introduced by Ghislane Maxwell

        Forbidden ‘mainstream’ link here …..

  • N_

    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

    Get a grip! The SNP won’t win 50% of the voteshare in the coming British general election, and on a loony-tunes platform like that they’d be lucky to clear 35%.

    • Republicofscotland

      “Get a grip! The SNP won’t win 50% of the voteshare in the coming British general election, and on a loony-tunes platform like that they’d be lucky to clear 35%.”

      Again I believe Craig was referring to a majority of SNP MP’s that are sent to Westminster, add together the unionist MP’s at present sent from Scotland (24) and they still don’t outnumber the SNP’s (35) MP’s. That figure looks set to widen.

  • Loony

    Of course the Conservative Party has radically changed in a remarkably short period of time. What else would you expect.

    The EEC/EU has dogged the Conservative Party since the time of Heath. The referendum was supposed to put an end to EU related divisions. The people (i.e. those you so manifestly despise) failed to understand their orders and voted contrary to instruction. No-one had any intention of listening to the people and actually leaving the EU. Equally they were too cowardly to actually tell the electorate that their views were ignorant and stupid. To do so would have invited the question as to why such enlightened and wonderful people ever bothered to solicit the views of idiots in the first place.

    Perhaps treating the population with utter contempt, not only refusing to listen to their opinions but actually enacting laws to criminalize their opinions and using handy mouthpieces to smear the population at every opportunity is the real sign of Fascism.

    In order to avoid this kind of facist takeover the Conservative Party has no choice at al but to purge itself of those determined to thwart the will of the people.

    I don’t see the problem. If the population is genuinely suffering from Stockholm Syndrome and no longer wish to be free they can always vote for the Labour Party. Or are you saying that it is important to remove all choice from the people and that they should only be allowed to vote for people that hate them?

    Why do you care about the NHS – after all most of its time will be taken up treating xenophobes. Why not be honest and propose an NHS solely for ‘educated’ people and immigrants? Tell the rest of the population tough – just go and die.

  • Vivian O'Blivion

    From the last 7 YouGov polls and taking a hypothetical stance that there are Leave parties and Remain parties which will either form formal non-aggression pacts or bleed votes on a tactical basis to the party judged to hold the strongest position in a particular constituency (there will be various tactical voting websites available, reliable or disingenuous). Leave front = Tories and Brexit Party. Remain front = Labour, LibDem, SNP, Plaid Cymru and Green.
    Averages from last 7 polls.
    UK – Remain front advantage of 4.1%
    London – Remain front advantage of 28.8%
    Rest of South – Leave front advantage of 6.8%
    Midlands & Wales – Remain front advantage of 3.0%
    North of England – Remain front advantage of 4.6%
    Scotland – Remain front advantage of 46.3%

    On the face of it Remain is in a strong position, but Parliamentary seats are not divided equally between the five regions. The South of England block has 209 seats, London has 76 seats, Scotland has 59 seats.
    The Leave front will take a massive number of seats in the South of England which London and Scotland will not cancel out.
    The first issue is FPTP and total overkill of Remain votes in London and Scotland.
    The second issue is the effectiveness of non-aggression pacts / tactical voting. There is a decent chance of the two Leave parties (or their supporters) getting their act together. There is less chance of the five Remain parties functioning as an effective front (the exception may be Wales). This prediction is in part informed by Swinson’s inflated sense of her own importance.
    Cummings I think knows this.

    Oh and I read this morning that if I’m to visit my sister in the Republic and take my car, I’m to put a GB sticker on it. They can fuck right off with that!

  • Greg Park

    Unable to detect even the vaguest hint of social-democratic tendencies in the voting records of Hammond, Grieve or unifying father of the nation Ken Clarke. Liberal on very select issues yes, ala Cameron and Osborne. (Issues that by sheer coincidence don’t cost the oligarchy a penny.)

    Naturally the voting records of Johnson and Javid reveal zero prior commitment to increasing public spending. The polar opposite in fact, entirely in keeping with their moderate senior colleagues.

  • mog

    I don’t feel so confident about the Tories’ ‘cultural obstacles’ .
    Reading the online thoughts of Lexiteers tells me that they hold on to their Labour allegiance by the thinnest of threads and ever increasingly regard Labour’s steady move toward being ‘the Remain Party’ as class treachery.
    (Note staunch Leaver and union leader Eddie Dempsey being smeared and de-platformed by the People’s Assembly, Diane Abbott and the Corbynista journos.)
    They will not vote Tory, but might they vote Brexit Party in ‘Hartlepool’, – which will of course become aligned with the Conservatives over time ?

  • Chris B

    I have always thought that the EU would be very glad to be rid of UK. I suspect it has disrupted a lot of proposed legislation that could have benefirted more than the wealthy few that were dicomforted by it. It has always demanded to be treated as the exception as if the idea of working for the collective good is somehow beneath it. I think they cant wait to wave us good riddance.

    • Loony

      Interesting that you think the EU operates for the collective good. Take a look at what happened to Greece, the very epitome of the old saying “In order to save this village, we had to destroy it”

      I wonder who was in part responsible for the destruction of Greece. Ah well Argentina is a long way away, now look what is happening to the Argentine economy. I wonder who could be in part responsible for this.

      Why say hello to Christine Lagarde, the new President of the ECB – always working for the collective good.

      Interestingly Christine Lagarde appears to share much of her personal morality (i.e. proven dishonesty) with Peter Mandelson.

      Still Christine Lagarde is both female and French. Naturally any criticism of M Lagarde must be motivated by a toxic combination of sexism and xenophobia – and hence her reputation can remain unsullied by factual evidence.

  • djm

    Major, Clarke, Hammond, & Grieve (other names are available) are part & parcel of the insidious political clique that has, since the “wrong” decision was given them in June 2016, sought to consort with, & give comfort to the EU. In another time, they would have been led by now through Traitors Gate. Conservatives ? Not in my book.

  • Alyson

    Parliament has lost all credibility on the world stage. Its corruption and vanity is beyond normal law abiding parameters. Cameron started it when he held dinner parties for lobbyists at £50,000 for mrmbership, and extra to sit near him, when he was still leader of the Opposition. To change this culture we just need to arrest any politician who caused harm to British citizens by introducing or voting for legislation intended to do just that. Dismiss all politicians taking payments from companies and foreign governments for conflicts of interest. This ought to be simple too. Clean up parliament and get second jobs banned.

  • Ian

    Nothing strange about Johnson’s spending plans at all. Obviously his strategy is to neuter the brexit party by adopting their rhetoric and no deal embrace. At the same time he figures he can steal a lot of Corbyn’s public spending plans and steal his thunder. If you had been looking at the analyses of these plans you would have found that they are almost the same as May’s boasts – hollow, fake accounting, spread over many years and accumulated into headline totals, compared to their own austerity cuts a ‘record’ increase etc etc. All smoke and mirrors. But Johnson could care less about the truth of his claims, he knows the public want more money spent on the NHS, whatever the hollowness of his promises.
    But of course you miss the wider picture of where the Tories are heading – Trumpland, Bannon country – fake populist slogans and appeals to nationalism, coupled with the scapegoating of anyone – foreigners of course, but anyone who doesn’t blindly pledge allegiance to the emperor’s clothes, as traitors, fifth columnists etc. If you don’t believe that they are embarked on a radical realignment of politics, alongs nationalist, proto-fascist lines, then you haven’t been paying attention. Their astute use of social media has been wildly successful, and still not covered by any laws fit for purpose, as the hedge fund money pours in – Cummings boasted about it recently.
    Analysing it on old criteria and models is a waste of time, and ignores the reality of what is happening. Brexit is just a wedge for far wider change they plan. It is a proxy.
    Hoping Scotland can avoid it by declaring UDI of some sort is just fantasy wish fulfilment.

    • Loony

      Are you from the US?

      If you are not then your criticisms of Trump and Bannon appear to meet the definition of ‘scapegoating foreigners’

      Interesting that you believe this to be a bad thing for other people to do, but a wholly appropriate thing for you to do.

        • Loony

          I’ll take that as a no then.

          I am left with little alternative other than to attribute shame and embarrassment as the reasons why you refuse to explain why you should be held to different standards than the standards against which you wish to measure others.

  • nevermind

    Another Brexit party political piece that has no resemblance to the issues that are determined in rural and local councils, by ever lower spending on services, higher council taxes, higher childhood poverty, a crumbling care and education regime, spending the Tories drastically cut in large chunks on a yearly basis.

    Our economic relationship will be determined by the way we aim to leave the EU under Snolly G.Johnson. Any indications that we will renege on the 39 billion owed for commitments we signed up to and which will be carried out, will have repercussions that will determine our ability to trade in the world. The past relationships based on a long gone empire will not be serving our needs and those commonwealth countries that have already agreements to trade with the EU will be informed that they are not to be conduits for UK trade, or face having their access to the most lucrative markets in the world curtailed.
    I very much doubt that much of the newly signed agreements with South American countries such as Brazil will come off as all future trade will have to measure their impact visa vis a rapidly deteriorating climate.
    The WTO is an arbitrary club that does not want to allow equal trade to China, it is directed by western doctrines and GAT is a dastardly fiendish tool to allow capitalism to bully its way into the last vestiges of local trade, it elevates multinationals and diminishes competition by economically trading it into decline, mergers and bankruptcies.
    To think that we are equipped to ignore all this is the mindset of freebooters and pirates, just as Elizabeth I did in the last millennia.

    I could not care less whether the political party landscape survives, I see these last three years as an evolutionary rupture that could/should lead to the abolishment of an ancient outdated Parliament system, could/should lead, finally, after hundreds of years of talk, to the development of a written Constitution, enshrining a fair proportional vote for all in England.
    Wales Scotland and NI should be able to determine their own democratic ways, even consider joining the EU as a block should they decide to do so.
    I prefer a decentralised system of power, but if it is centralised, then safeguards as to corruption should/could be taken by restricting MP’s to representing the public to one term only.
    As it stands we are leaving the restaurant without paying, hoping to be accepted by all other restaurants in town, without prejudice and or trust. To assume that these restaurants have not talked to each other about the non payment. It will not work!
    For Snolly G. Johnson to ignore the tatty fabric of society and its many needs, to promise aspirational wishful thoughts about 20.000 police, education and health spending, to create a massive rift in his own party and threatening its continuity as it once was, is more than folly, its political suicide.

    • Loony

      Of course there is ever lower spending on services. This has nothing to do with Brexit or any political party and everything to do with zero interest rates and the final salary pensions of the public sector (long since abolished in the private sector).

      With $17 trillion of negative yielding debt how do you imagine that pensions can be funded? Naturally money os being siphoned away from front line services into the pensions black hole – but this is only a stop gap solution as people will begin to realize (as you have) that they are paying more and more for less and less.

      The game is up and delusional thinking cannot ward off reality.

      • Dungroanin

        Finally Loony you have reached self realisation!

        “The game is up and delusional thinking cannot ward off reality.”

        Write it out a thousand times to make sure you don’t forget that wisdom.

        • Loony

          Well there you go, more vacuous virtue signalling devoid of reason and logic.

          To cure this problem you need to kill at least 50% of the global population. I don’t see how that is going to work.

          To ameliorate this problem everyone needs to use less stuff. There is no law that forces you to drive and not walk. There is no law that tells you to turn on your central heating rather than put on more clothes.

          China is the worlds largest polluter and China has an installed manufacturing base sufficient to supply 100% of global demand for 100% of manufactured products. What you going to do about that? Trump has ideas, but rather than pay attention to his actual ideas it is easier to parrot “orange man bad”

          The EU is obsessed by ‘freedom of movement’ – how do you think these people move? Answer not by walking.

          Somalia has an oil consumption 0.5 bbl/day/1000 people. The UK has an oil consumption of 25.73 bbl/day/1000 people. What do you think happens to aggregate oil consumption when you move people out of Somalia to the UK?

          Everything is incoherent and illogical – very few people are going to volunteer to die in order to save the planet. So there will be wars and these wars will grow in intensity. Wars are very energy intensive things – so fighting to save the planet is exactly the same as fighting to destroy the planet. But hey I feel so good about my moral purity and the fact that I am a better person than you.

  • EoH

    He appears engaged in a colossal act of hubris.

    A colossal understatement, it would fit Johnson’s conduct from cradle to grave.

    • Vivian O'Blivion

      Johnson is going to flood the HoL with swivel eyed, Brexit Peers. Last time May gave Snarlene the opportunity to nominate a candidate for the Lords, she chose “Boxcar” Willie McCrae. McCrae was spiritual advisor to Billy “King rat” Wright, a man expelled from the UVF for excessively psychotic behaviour.

    • Loony

      …or perhaps they are hiding on the streets of Glasgow. I know best not to mention that all is not yet sweetness and light with regards to tolerance, mutual respect, and all round benevolence.

    • Sharp Ears

      Johnson appears not to be bothered at Lee switching to the LDs. He is still booming out his responses to the naysayers as he sees his critics.

      Chutzpah in spadefuls.

  • Loony

    Some people argue that the UK should remain in the EU as a strong EU provides a bulwark against overweening US power. Indeed many argue that should the UK exit the EU then the US will impose unfavorable trade conditions on the UK and effectively force the UK population to eat chlorinated chicken, only by being within the EU can the UK hope to resist US demands on it.

    Here is Victoria Nuland expressing her opinion of the EU

    …and how did the EU respond to this? Oh yes they got right behind a group of Nazi thugs in the Ukraines, and remained entirely silent with regard to opinions of Ms Nuland

      • Loony

        Correct me if I am wrong, but my understanding is that non-sequitur means a conclusion or statement that does not follow logically from a previous argument or statement. If this is accurate then for my comment to be a non sequitur then it must be true that o-one has ever suggested that the UK will ‘fall into the arms’ of the US post Brexit. Surely you do not require me to furnish you with evidence that this has been a commonly deployed argument.

        I have provided one example of the EU ignoring a manifest insult from the US and a related example of the EU acting to support actual Nazi’s based on instructions received from the US. These examples are designed to challenge the notion that the EU is able and willing to provide itself and its member states some protection from the hegemonic demands of the US.

        Perhaps there are examples supporting the counter argument – I am not aware of any.

        You are free to disagree with my points, but it would be helpful if you did not seek to attribute meanings to words that do not conform to the ordinarily accepted meaning of those words. That way lies anarchy and confusion. I am sure that you do not intend to create wilful obfuscation and confusion to so as to provide cover for the fact that you have neither insight nor knowledge of the matter under discussion.

  • William Bowles

    Excellent summation Craig! But I suspect that the weak link in your analysis is the Labour Party, or rather the Parliamentary Labour Party, who would rather lose an election than see Corbyn as PM, thus they could throw a spanner in the works by not supporting a vote of no confidence in Bojo and as a consequence, making an election well nigh impossible, at least in the short term.

    And of what of this crazy guy Dominic Cummings? Is he the Steve Bannon of the Tory Party? Like you say, hubris seems to rule these idiots. What a mess and what a way to finally end what’s left of an Empire! Winston must be revolving slowly in his grave.

  • Christopher Dale Rogers

    For this observer, if a majority of the Scottish Electorate desire independence after five years of passage since the last vote, having suffered another Tory Government the nation never voted for, then, please, please, please bloody get on with it.

    In the real world, this Welsh voter elected to leave a neoliberal institution and a clear majority of my Welsh peers elected to Leave, so I’d at least like to see that vote honoured, despite many of our own MPs, specifically across South Wales being wholly opposed to the wishes of the Welsh Electorate – many of these Centrist MPs, personified by the likes of Chris Bryant (a former Tory), do not fill me with confidence with regards the chances of a Corbyn-led transformative government in Westminster, which means electoral allies would need to be found elsewhere, most notably with the SNP.

    Should an election occur prior to Christmas, should as many predict no one single party have overall control, and, if the SNP sweeps the board across Scotland its position in Westminster will be a strong one. Indeed, we may actually have a Corbyn/SNP alliance contingent on the SNP enabling Corbyn to pass some much needed radical reforms on the condition that before the end of that Parliament Scotland would be allowed to hold another Indy Ref and Labour would not stand in the way of this, nor allow further ‘Operation Fear’ to take place.

    As for Brexit itself, God only knows at this juncture in time, however, I’m sanguine about the lack of Trigger Ballots within the Labour Party and the fact the PLP contains a rump of individuals who’d be best advised to join forces with their Centrist Lib Dem peers than remain in what I understood to be a democratic Socialist movement.

  • Dungroanin

    I haven’t seen so many thousand yard dead eyed stares on the government benches since photos of US troops who fought in Vietnam.

    May next to Clarke was priceless, as he laid out the tricky tactics that the new PM is perpetrating. Hammond was surprisingly shark like.

    Corbyn was listened to with most respect and Blackford nailed it with bobos honeymoon ending on his second appearance.

    It is not Johnsons job to win any general election – his ONLY task is to run the clock down on A50 without any deal.
    A hard brexit even if it is only for a day which would allow the City to ‘legally’ escape from EU regulations.

    • Christopher Dale Rogers

      The suggestion that the City of London, and majority of financial institutions operating out of the Square Mile are four square behind the UK leaving the EU does not chime with the reality, namely, whilst a few Hedge Funds may desire the UK to Leave, the majority of Institutions do not, and this includes their main Lobbying bodies.

      In or out of the EU, both Wall Street and the City of London have been competing as to how low either financial service centre can sink in terms of regulation, oversight and compliance for the better part of 30 years – I’ll also remind you that both US financial services regulations and EU regulations operate extraterritorially, namely you cannot have operation within the EU if your institutions are not compliant with EU regulations – this has been a boon for those businesses that actually sell the hardware and software to enable all of this.

      Moving forward, in all regulatory environment we hear much about Anti-Money Laundering, codes of practices to prevent laundering and how important it is for the industry to clean its act up, such noises and regulation thus far have not stopped financial institutions globally cleaning some US$ 2 trillion of cash last year alone.

      Please don’t confuse the desires of a few Hedge Funds that support the ERG, with the interests of global banking and finance itself, which is opposed to the UK exit from the EU, as advertised by its own trade bodies in the City.

      • Dungroanin

        Not so fast mate.

        The City, the ancient one not the big bang financial bs one, runs a large portion of the serious shit. There are no numbers for it.

        The ones who would have been affected by brexit mitigated it by setting up head offices within the EU INSTANTLY, to by pass any interruption to their EU businesses, Dublin and Frankfurt benefitted.

        The ever closer Union is only heading towards more regulations, our veto doesn’t work, and the ancient City wanted out. Look at how the controlled OECD is failing to work with the EU. Look at how the FT is flip-flopping on Labour policy as they realise the game is nearly up.

        Of course people try to confuse the two city’s because they either don’t know or worse, they do.

  • Ishmael

    Those who want to attempt to substantially change things for people in Scotland, you know who you’ll be fighting don’t you? Primarily?

    The function Parliaments actually play is mediating between classes on behalf of the rulling class (who they are) to keep the system going. & most are invariably capitalists, & if not upon becoming an MP soon will with a stable state income & a nice nest egg. Their virtue has finally paid off, Why should most not justify it to themselves? It’s like “nature”, Darwin etc.

    It’s happened all over the world, & tbh I don’t see the kind of coherent strategy as from the labour leadership team atm. How your going to actually change the economy etc. I read in this very much a politics of opposition. …As part of this system tories are not uniquely bad, look at south america, india, anywhere.

    Presented in this context I could not get being a movement with such a vague & virtually meaningless a term as independence as an ultimate goal. It’s just wide open for railroading by whoever individuals machinations are taking president, Rather than what’s being generated by people pressures along class lines.

    I think what could be meaningful would entail a long internal political struggle. & it’s essentially not that different from many other places atm. & What I don’t see working out is this notion that “We” are just going to play the markets better.

    & i’m reminded if government clears it’s dept, it makes it practically impossible for the people to clear theirs. Dunno why i’m reminded, maybe because see the same kind of jaded & simplistic “understanding” of issues as a certain stockbroker.

  • Stonky

    The “independent Scotland would have been / would be booted out of Europe” schtick is one of the biggest of the many extravagant lies thrown around by the Westminster Lie Factory and its forces of fear.

    Here’s a very simple little question for anyone stupid enough to believe it, or dishonest enough to pretend to:

    Suppose, at some time in the future, Belgium separates into its Walloon and Flemish entities – an event that is entirely within the bounds of possibility. Which part of the former Belgium would the EU boot out, and which part would be allowed to continue as a member?

      • michael norton

        If a state wants to split in two, and one part no longer wants nuclear power and the other part does want nuclear power, I can understand that they can each go their own way in future
        but who keeps the thousands of tons of irradiated waste, produced when they were a single state?

  • Crispa

    If Ian Blackford is anything to go by from this afternoon’s speech in the House of Commons, Tories and SNP stand firm together against Russia. Perhaps complete independence of thought is still lacking in the SNP political psyche and separation is still some way off.

  • Courtenay Barnett


    Boris via the Queen, has prorogued Parliament. Now, in a modern democracy – how does a hereditary Monarch come into play in sanctioning the decision of an unelected Prime Minister ( one appointed by choice of his Conservative party – as distinct from being the one who commands the majority in the House of Parliament, following a General Election)?

    So Boris wants a good deal BREXIT. However, being the bully that he is, he just discovered that the EU will not kow-tow to his wishes – no matter how he huffs and puffs – the British house will still come tumbling down. What next?

    Realising that he cannot get his way (i.e. have the referendum cake and eat a good BREXIT deal) he now threatens to call a General Election.

    Whooo… recall the old hereditary Monarch – and then the law passed in 2011 which did not allow a snap election at the whim of the Prime Minister, who now needs to seek support from two-thirds of the House. So the plot still thickens.

    The Opposition leader, Corbyn, quite intelligently realises that Boris is in a no-win situation. I can but guess the political calculus thus at play. Corbyn: if I leave him in the quagmire, and ensure with cross-party support that he does not get the two-thirds majority needed, then he is stuck with it. What ‘it’? Well, it for Boris is that had proclaimed that he would sooner have a no-deal than let the people’s referendum wishes be compromised in a ‘democratic society’. But, Corbyn, also realises that Boris cannot have his cake and eat it at the same time. The it then is a good and satisfactory BREXIT deal which serves the economic needs of Britain and the British people well.

    Corbyn, seems to saying – you asked for the baby – you caused the birth of it as it looks today, through your political actions – so now that the baby is in your hands and you did the breeding – then you raise it and see it through – at least until the end of the BREXIT period – so if the child is an abject failure – it is you who are fully stuck with the blame. What comes after is for me ( the Opposition Leader) to chew on thereafter, assess, and fix if at all there is any possible fix available at that stage. Corbyn is in effect saying:-

    ” You did the breeding; so, right now – fuck off mate – live with it.”

    Quite frankly, given the state of Britain at present – I would not like to be either in the shoes of the existing ‘baby father’ – or – be at all the adopted step-father once Boris realises that he simply cannot raise the child.

    A right Royal mess as I see it!


    There is one core position of Boris Johnson which simply does not add up. If I am to increase public expenditure and reduce taxes simultaneously, I am creating a national deficit problem and will be increasing the public debt. This a la Trump, is the position to be duplicated in the UK if the Prime Minister is to be believed.

    This policy proclamation, more than any other to date, gives one a moment of pause, for such a shift, in economic terms, does not auger well for a resilient and rebounded economy over time; rather a deferral and ‘kick the debt can down the road’ approach which might well serve short-term popularism, but is most unwise national policy over the long haul.

    P.S. For Scotland, a General Election vote and an Independence Referendum vote, should be run conjunctively. It is time, within the context of the unfolding ‘British brave new world’ context that the people of Northern Ireland and Scotland ( Wales?) should have a say regarding how they sit ( and wish to continue to sit) in the unfolding political landscape.

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