Do Not Despair of This Election 630


I have had moments in the last few days which led me to feel pretty hopeless. Perhaps the worst was in the ITV debate when Corbyn was roundly jeered by a substantial section of the audience for stating that climate change impacted hardest on the poorest people in the poorest countries. That encapsulated for me the current far right political climate in England, dominated by boorish, selfish stupidity. I do not come from a left wing political background and I have never subscribed to the romanticisation of “the people”. Years living in the UKIP heartland of Ramsgate made me realise that “the people” en masse can be very unpleasant and racist indeed. I have always for that reason eschewed direct democracy and subscribed to a very Burkean view. That however falls down when, as now, you have a political class who are becoming even more base and vicious than the most unpleasant mob. But the growl of that studio audience, infuriated that Corbyn cared about the foreign poor, is a warning klaxon of the state of English society.

A close second despair-inducing moment was Jo Swinson’s interview following the debate when, asked if she would press the nuclear button, she replied without a millisecond of hesitation: “yes”. As I reported last week, when asked at the Lib Dem campaign launch why she would not put Corbyn into Downing St in any circumstances, she had instantly replied that he would not be prepared to instruct submarine commanders to fire nuclear weapons.

The woman is deranged.

I come from a Liberal tradition. Probably the two books which most influence my thinking are On Liberty by John Stuart Mill and Imperialism, A Study by J A Hobson. The line of British liberal thinking that comes down through writers including Hazlitt, Shelley, Byron, Carlyle, Mill, Hobson, Russell and Keynes is a tradition which looks set to disappear from British political thought. That makes me horribly sad. One thing I am sure of is that Swinson has read none of them. That the Lib Dems had moved economically so far to the right was already worrying me. Their completely illiberal opposition to Scottish Independence upset me still further. But that the party to which I belonged for 30 years and which was once led by my friend, the gentle and wise Charlie Kennedy, could now be led by an arm whirling, narcissistic, female version of Dr Strangelove, is beyond my wildest nightmares.

Let me go back to that ITV Debate. It was enormously dispiriting that of a 50 minute debate, 25 minutes were devoted to the subject of Brexit, compared to just one minute on the question of climate change. The Brexit discussion was completely unenlightening, with Johnson booming out “Get Brexit Done” at every opportunity, and even when there was no rational opportunity after the discussion had finally been moved on to other subjects.

I thought Jeremy was slightly under par. There was one point where I think he made a definite mistake. When Johnson claimed the last Labour government bankrupted the country’s finances, Corbyn failed to come back and say that it was the bankers who bankrupted the country’s finances. He could have gone on to add that banking deregulation had been the cause of a decade of global misery and Boris Johnson’s plans for Singapore on Thames would be banking deregulation on steroids.

It is not the first time this election that Labour have failed to point out it was the bankers who crashed the economy. I am not sure why. It may be a desire to seem City-friendly. Corbyn may be held back because, like me, he believes Brown was completely wrong to bail out the bankers with taxpayers’ money, and Corbyn therefore thinks it best to avoid the whole topic for the sake of party unity. Either way, to let Johnson say that Labour spending ruined the economy is to miss an open goal – the bankers are still massively unpopular.

The other point is one where Jeremy actually annoyed me. I cannot tell you how infuriating it was, as a Scot, to see Johnson repeatedly stating that Scotland would not be allowed an Independence referendum, and Corbyn making no effort at all to stand up for the Scottish right of self-determination. Given SNP exclusion from the debate, it was demeaning to see our masters discussing our future with no pretence of giving a hearing to the Scottish point of view.

Corbyn has to tackle this. The Johnson “Labour will give you two referendums” attack line is not being sufficiently countered. For Corbyn to ask Johnson whether he accepts that the Scottish people have the right of self-determination would be a killer question, and Jeremy could ask it quietly and effectively. A large majority of English people are actually perfectly happy for Scotland to have an Independence referendum.

Corbyn has tied himself in knots to accommodate the bitter cabal of Blairites and Orangemen that constitute the majority of the rump Scottish Labour Party, while its membership and voters have defected en masse to the SNP. 40% of the remaining Labour voters support Independence anyway. Rather than put himself in a false position for the sake of hopeless colleagues who have crashed Scottish Labour from domination to 12% of the vote, Corbyn should state his support for the right of the Scottish people to decide – something which I have no doubt he personally believes in, deeply.

The good news is that Johnson made an ass of himself in the debate, constantly repeating “Get Brexit Done”, and Corbyn’s insistence on discussing more important issues than Brexit cut through. You Gov’s verdict of a 51 to 49 victory for Johnson was very dubious indeed. But even that would be a major advance for Corbyn given the constant barrage of unfair media demonisation to which he has been subjected in the last five years. Almost seven million people watched the event live, a significant audience. Parity with that audience is a very good start for Labour. I suspect it really went better than that. YouGove have a long and dishonourable history as Tory push pollsters.

There are similarities here to the 2017 election. The chance for both Corbyn and Sturgeon to be seen in election coverage directly by viewers, each arguing their own case, will improve the standing of both with the electors, compared to the unmitigated vilification of normal media. (Sturgeon is being unfairly excluded from key debates but her Dundee speech today was extensively covered).

The Tory campaign of closed workplace addresses, artificial set-up encounters and a constant simple soundbite slogan is repeating the formula that failed so spectacularly in 2017. “Get Brexit Done” is going to annoy voters as much as “Strong and Stable” did, especially if Johnson continues to deploy it whatever the question asked.

I strongly expect we will see the first signs of the opinion polls starting to tighten shortly. I am half-English myself and have no desire to see Johnson inflicted on the population of Newcastle or Liverpool. But I confess I am also comfortable in the certainty that should Johnson win the election, it will precipitate Scottish Independence very soon. Nobody should despair yet. But it is certainly more comfortable to watch this from Edinburgh than from Manchester.

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630 thoughts on “Do Not Despair of This Election

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  • Hatuey

    “I have had moments in the last few days which led me to feel pretty hopeless”

    You shouldn’t. And even if you do feel hopeless, you shouldn’t tell us. You’re the guy we come to for hope. It does us no good to hear you are feeling hopeless.

    And you’ve had a good week. Your interview on RT was really good.

    You’re making a difference.

    • Brianfujisan

      Hatuey

      I second that .. It’s Very easy to understand Craig’s Mood.. I feel it too. But we can’t let the Bstrds Win

      Keep up the Fight…and great work Craig

    • Twirlip

      I also come to Craig’s blog for hope – and I regularly find it here, too – but I also come here for his honesty and humanity. My impression of these qualities is strengthened, not weakened, by his occasional confessions of feelings of despair. Anyone who is prone to despair in the first place will despair all the more if they sense that the hope they are being offered is a false front, behind which hides a real despair that cannot be confessed. Therefore, I disagree strongly with you when you write, “It does us no good to hear you are feeling hopeless.”

  • Tom

    Craig
    I agree with everything you’ve written that I’ve read over the last decade or more except on this subject which feels like a facsimile of ‘get brexit done’, in microcosm.

    As you say you’re ‘half English’, so prefer not to see ‘Johnson inflicted on the population’ of selected cities, but without the support of Scottish voters that would be made more likely in future.

    My understanding is that labour won’t deny Scotland a 2nd Indy referendum but won’t prioritise this. If Labour’s 2nd EU referendum keeps UK in EU the main argument will be gone, but a labour brexit will be soft enough to enable an open border.

    Either way unraveling 300 years of integration will be no less painful than 40 years with EU and make both countries weaker.

    Scotland already has its own Parliament with limited powers of tax & spend. Why not focus instead on increasing these powers if you think they’re inadequate?

    • Stuart MacKay

      The simple truth is that anything that happens with regards to the Scottish Parliament only happens with English consent. The tyranny of the majority means that Scots can never have full control over their own affairs. At any moment the devolved powers can be removed – no ifs or buts.

      • Squeeth

        “Tyranny of the majority” Has Mussolini walked in? If the Snats had argued for a UK referendum on this matter of the nature of the UK, Scotland would have been out years ago.

        • Tom Welsh

          Many of the great and the good are all in favour of democracy – until they notice that the great unwashed masses disagree with them.

          As far as I can ascertain, there is no system of government that can be relied upon to work well for everyone in a world like ours.

          The people, God bless ’em, are extremely ignorant, unwise, immoral, and selfish. They can’t even be relied upon to vote in their own interests – certainly not if they have just seen a 30-second TV commercial or “message” offering them something shiny instead.

          You can’t blame them; it would take a lifetime even for a genius with the highest moral character to begin piercing the veil of lies, dissimulation and trickery that cover our world like one of the old London pea-soupers.

          But as soon as the people delegate (theoretically; in reality it is eagerly and unhesitatingly done for them) to anyone at all, that someone will start ruling their own interests.

          From time to time there appear exceptions to this principle: one may think of Marcus Aurelius, Edward IV of England, or Napoleon Bonaparte. But even such paragons have their flaws, their prejudices, and their misunderstandings. (Ironically, one of Napoleon’s greatest weaknesses was a tendency to overestimate the courage and good will of others).

          But one can’t run a system of government in the hope of finding people whose like come along every few centuries.

          It’s popular to quote Churchill’s (as usual disingenuous) quip about democracy being the worst system of government that has been tried – apart from all the others. Notice that he did not claim that it was any better.

    • Muscleguy

      “Scotland already has its own Parliament with limited powers of tax & spend. Why not focus instead on increasing these powers if you think they’re inadequate?”

      Because firstly we won’t be given them and secondly nobody in Scotland believes they will ever come. After the first IndyRef we had the farce of the Smith Commission to try and live up to the infamous Vow during the purdah period. The Labour party vetoed almost everything. They vetoed more than the Tories did and more than they FibDems did. The idea that parties could veto things individually was always going to end badly anyway and of course the SNP and Greens had no way of countering the vetoes.

      Polls have shown that over 70% of people in Scotland do think the Vow was lived up to. That is the state of play. We have heard promises of Full Fiscal Autonomy or Federalism so many times it just washes over people’s heads. It’s Indy or bust now.

      Federalism cannot work without English regional parliaments. England will always be able to outvote the Celtic Three. Without the ability to make alliances with say the North of England and the SW it would be unviable.

      FFA won’t work either because Defence and Foreign Affairs would still be Reserved and Scotland disagrees fundamentally with much of both. There would be constant and ongoing grit in the wheels from this and it would not be stable and would not take Indy off the table to fix it.

      And finally a bit driver of Scottish opinion is the Democratic Deficit. We can return 100% SNP MP’s to Westminster and it won’t make a blind bit of difference because they will be outvoted an the House will still empty as soon as one gets up to speak as now. We see the disregard of our representatives you know.

      Sooner or later we will be off because the British state is unreformable. Because there was no revolution after WWI as happened elsewhere. British stability has become sclerotic. There are too many checks and balances to get any reforms done properly. But you will have to do it without Scotland. We do not exist to save England from itself.

  • Sopo

    “The line of British liberal thinking that comes down through writers including Hazlitt, Shelley, Byron, Carlyle, Mill, Hobson, Russell and Keynes is a tradition which looks set to disappear from British political thought. That makes me horribly sad. One thing I am sure of is that Swinson has read none of them.”

    You don’t appear to have read all those names yourself, Craig, given that Carlyle was more fascist than liberal in his views.

    • Forthestate

      That is an oversimplification, to say the least; Carlyle is full of contradictions, That he became increasingly rigid in his views, and increasingly reliant upon the cult of the individual in reaction to what he saw as the moral disintegration of his age, is undeniable. But Carlyle cannot be said to have adhered to any single message throughout his lifetime, and cannot be reduced solely to the increasingly bitter and narrow version of his later years. He was certainly, for a time, one of the foremost liberal critics of the Victorian era, and Craig is right to include him in the panoply of British liberalism. To deny that liberalism ignores much of him that is admirable, even for those of us who do come from a left wing political background.

      • Tom Welsh

        “That he became increasingly rigid in his views, and increasingly reliant upon the cult of the individual in reaction to what he saw as the moral disintegration of his age, is undeniable”.

        More or less the point I tried to make in my last comment. Another remark attributed to Churchill is apposite:

        “The best argument against democracy is a five minute talk with the average voter”.

        While profoundly true, there is no evidence that Churchill ever said or wrote it.

    • craig Post author

      I did put him into and out of the list several times. But some of his works, including his History of the French Revolution, are important to the understanding of the development of Liberal thought. He went a bit bats eventually.

  • Willie

    Strange as it may sound the second world war was an inoculation against more violence in Europe.

    Mass slaughter tames the vicious nature of most populations. Germany by way of example lost its will for aggressive positioning after its devastation.

    Ditto Japan as it too, post conflict, sought economic superiority instead.

    Maybe Britain by comparison did not lose enough in the war. Ditto America.

    It certainly seems that way and the fairly recent war cry by a secretary of defence about the UK wanting to project lethal force onto the world stage reinforces that.

    Indeed that attitude which is exactly in line with moron Jo Swinson’s superficial taunt about Corbyn’s unwillingness to push the nuclear button reinforces the absolute need for the UK, and it’s viciously belligerent to learn what such talk, such belligerence, leads to.

    War War, it is the British way. Only this time I’m not sure the UK would win, if it ever did win in the past. But at least it would make it wind it’s neck in.

    For me therefore much of this election is about a war agenda. A war with the dirty Europeans, another go with the IRA, a kick ass attitude all wrapped up in the belligerent legacy of faded imperial greatness.

    That after all is what Brexit is really about.

    • Stuart MacKay

      World War I was the war to end all wars – given the scale of the slaughter. I didn’t seem to temper Germans desire for more carnage – a mere 2 decades later.

      Brexit is merely exploiting English belligerence towards Europeans in the same way that Goebbels exploited the animosity that Germans felt against the conditions in the Treaty of Versailles. The real danger is that with the mad long rush to the right, some kind of conflict will be manufactured so that the current establishment can keep control should the shit start to hit the fan. The only predictable outcome from this is a lot of Scottish blood will be shed for English gain. Scots instinctively know this which is why we want out.

    • Coldish

      Willie, some good points, thank you. However we should bear in mind that even within its own borders Europe has not been immunised against war or violence by the experience of WW2. We have had the violent and vicious multistage break-up of Yugoslavia, precipitated by German Free Democrat (Liberal!) foreign minister Genscher’s encouragement of Croatia’s aggressive declaration of independence; we still have the war in Ukraine, set off by the interference of western powers, primarily the US, but including the EU, in the internal affairs of that unfortunate state. The EU is potentially a force for good, but it needs to accept its past failures and errors and change some of its ways.

    • Michael

      Somebody should remind Jo Swinson we’re the bad guys. The US and UK and Israel started probably every war that’s raging. It’s the other side which needs a nuclear deterrent to protect themselves from us, as N. Korea did, and maybe Iran will soon find out it should have done.

      Swinson is more Tory than many Tories, very reactionary, and I suspect she joined the Leb-Dems because she’s ambitious. If she’d joined the Tory Party, to climb through the ranks she’d have been in competition with a many other women. She wouldn’t have got far I reckon.

      • Muscleguy

        Dinnae fash yersel, there’s a good chance la Swinson will lose her seat on December 12. Sturgeon is not making the same mistake as last election. Yes voters will not sit on our hands as many did last time underwhelmed by a party which ignored Independence in their campaigning and were supine and craven in the face of the Ruth Davidson No Referendum Party. We had a triple mandate for a referendum and NOBODY from the SNP said so in defence.

        It’s different this time, Sturgeon is rallying the troops and even Biased British Corporation is reporting it. I would say Even the remnant three from 2015 are vulnerable this time around. The SNP vote in the Northern Isles has increased at every election since 2014. Ian Murray in Edinburgh South is in a city which voted over 70% to Remain and Fluffy Mundell in the Borders is no longer the all commanding figure he once was, his star has waned.

    • Squeeth

      No, the “Outez!” vote was a poke in the eye of the boss class, not an endorsement. Only remainers pretend that the “Outez!” majority, in the only democratic state vote in my life, are regressive.

  • Fwl

    Bankers will tend to go to the edge and look over when allowed. Oddly it was the Democrats in the US and New Labour in the UK who brought in financial deregulation and opened the door to the moonshine wilderness of derivatives. Clinton and Blair / Brown. How and why did that happen?

  • gyges01

    I didn’t watch the tv debate but the supposed remedies for climate change are massive wealth transfers from poor to rich … carbon trading / Renewables Obligation Certificate scheme are vicious and pernicious schemes for impoverishment. If only they had some relevance to climate change.

  • Dave

    As an impartial anti-Lab/Con observer, I thought there was something wrong with Corbyn’s glasses and Boris is an unkempt troglodyte.

    The Labour promise of a 2nd referendum with Remain/Soft Brexit options should clean upon the Remain vote and most of the Leave vote if promoted properly. For example Corbyn should call soft-Brexit a British Brexit (keeps the country together) and tell Remainers only Labour will give them a chance of voting again for Remain. The reticence to say British Brexit is due to it appearing his preferred option (which it is), but needs to be said to pick up Leave voters. The irony of the Lib Dem position is it propels liberals and Remainers to vote Labour.

    Climate change is an elementary scam that penalises the poor NOT the rich and explains the laughter. And Corbyn knows this, as his brother Piers @ Weather Action has told him so, but he has to promote this middle-class rather than working class message as its party policy, but sensibly the Unions have stepped in to mitigate the de-industrialisation impact by turning the zero carbon targets into an aspiration.

    Admittedly in reverse its the Unions who keep Labour wedded to obsolete Trident as its a bountiful vanity project, like HS2, and there are too many fingers in the pie, jobs, for it to be easily dropped. I agree saying you’d fire one shows Swinson (and May) are mad, but not saying what you would do and/or saying you’d not fire it, is academic really as its American controlled – and even if it wasn’t how do you know one way or the other until the occasion (never) arises to use it? The fact is if you have one, its more likely to be used than if you didn’t have one, but do you need one, particularly when it undermines your security by traducing your conventional forces, to pay for it!

    New Labour were to blame for the financial crisis by deregulating the banks, which conservatives thought should go further, but their failure is to explain it was the bank bail-out rather than public spending per se that resulted in the massive deficit. However as explained previously the on-going austerity was to save the Euro rather than to balance the books, an objective shared by Lab and Con. Corbyn should highlight this, to explain the new found money tree, but again doesn’t in the interests of party unity. It wasn’t wrong to bail out the banks to save the economy, but it was wrong not to use it to take public ownership of the banks and reform the City of London.

    Agreeing to another Scottish referendum following due process makes sense, but again if he appears too friendly its an invite for Labour voters to vote SNP. The irony of such a Labour promise is its more likely to keep the country together than a Tory promise not to hold one, particularly once Labour turn on the public spending taps.

    • Fwl

      After the bail out there should have been a thorough review and re-think about regulation and recognition of certain factors.

      We are wild animals (tigers) and some of us are intelligent psychopaths. To avoid chaos we have to try and be civilised (lambs) and abide by a sensible code of conduct and self-regulation and to the extent we cannot and if we have to relay purely on laws we will fail. Leaders and elites have to set an example. Yes they will always be somewhat hypocritical but if they don’t have at least a basic ethos which they feel committed to then we slip into a free for all and a slippery downward path.

      In the US there used to be exceptionally strict domestic control of banking. Bankers were only allowed to explore the jungle abroad especially in Europe and the UK. US regulators didn’t mind that just as we in the (19 turned a blind eye to opium trading.

      In fact this may get to the heart of our problems. We have kept to certain standard (or tried or pretended to keep) at home but then gone abroad and gone wild.

      The world has changed and we have lost our borders. So what happens then?

      Do we start to behave in our wild imperial hooligan way at home or do we export our domestic standards (ideals or hypocrisy if you like) to our international behaviour.

      Unfortunately I think we have brought our foreign misbehaviour home whilst hypocritically spouting our domestic ideals abroad. We end up then ripping up like a Tiger at home and behaving like a lamb abroad! Everyone knows one should be soft at home and strong outside.

      Best if society can remember we are all tiger and lamb. How to reconcile that and keep both tiger and lamb alive?

      Apologies for wandering off topic and I think my thought applies to all parties ie none of them grasp the nettle.

      • Fwl

        BTW blandly and stupidly boasting one can press the button and explode a nuclear bomb is not being a tiger abroad its being a dickhead.

        The tiger and lamb are like the diplomat and general. Everyone should figure out that tension in themselves and then think about it more widely in our society.

        Of course if when we think about it we conclude that our apparent civilised behaviour always comes at the expense of secretly behaving in an uncivilised way to outsiders ie they pay for us then there is a problem. Seeing our hypocrisy is a start.

        • Fwl

          Of course some would say that what is meant by a lamb is much more than being diplomat and actually puts others first. The diplomat is more the civilised side of the tiger.

          Ok that’s enough esotericism for breakfast time.

  • SA

    “Corbyn failed to come back and say that it was the bankers who bankrupted the country’s finances. He could have gone on to add that banking deregulation had been the cause of a decade of global misery and Boris Johnson’s plans for Singapore on Thames would be banking deregulation on steroids.”
    Deregulation is the bread and butter of Thatcherism copies and pasted by Blair and Cameron. Until deregulation is recognised as the main cause behind the crash, current Blairite de regulators as well as Lib Dem’s will continue to back Tories rather than true labour.
    But even so Brown’s real mistake is not just that he bailed the banks which in some ways he had to do to avoid a total collapse, but that having done so he refused to exercise our rights as taxpayers and control these same banks we now owned, for our benefits rather than for them to continue their extravagant bonuses and continue with their Ponzi schemes and remain unpunished.

    • SA

      And therein currently lies the root of our despair. Corbyn has never and will never get rid of the incubus of Blairism from the party. The Blairites have fought him more vigorously than they have May and Johnson.

      • Dave

        The problem Labour has is its needs a strong trade union involvement to train and organise the working class and keep it rooted within the working class. Once Labour gave up on class Marxism and adopted middle-class race, gender et al Marxism you had the middle-class careerists join who were susceptible to outside funding and directorships.

        • Squeeth

          Liarbour was never socialist, never mind Marxist, it was a bourgeois party with a proletarian base. In Place of Strife began the open detachment of the partei from the working class.

    • Squeeth

      Neu Liarbour didn’t make a mistake over the bank subsidies, it followed the logic of its (the state’s) policies. The purpose of the fraud, theft and false accounting was to informally tax everyone and “austerity” was the punishment for letting these gangsters get away with it. Things like this don’t happen in democracies.

  • John A

    When is someone going to nail the Johnson lie of getting ‘Brexit done’? Whether we leave with Johnson’s deal or no deal, it will take years to disentangle old and agree new agreements with the EU and the rest of the world. That leaving the EU means it is ‘done’ is a complete and utter lie.

    • Dave

      Her inexperience is shown by the new party position on Remain. It forsakes liberalism and other issues in pursuit of the 48% Remain vote, but logically by becoming the Brexit Party in reverse it propels all Remainers driven by that single issue to vote Labour as the only way to get the 2nd referendum opportunity to vote Remain, just as many Brexit voters are voting conservative. Not all of them on both sides but enough to make the election a two horse race as in 2017.

  • Jane

    My seventy-year-old brother-in-law, originally a Londoner, was living in Scotland at the time of the 2014 referendum and voted “No.” Subsequently he moved back to the Southeast of England. His attitude now is that Scotland can float off into the North Sea as far as he is concerned. His brother has literally never been north of Watford Gap. I would say in many cases it is not so much a question of people in England supporting another Scottish independence referendum, but of English people, especially in the Southeast of England, not caring at all about what happens to Scotland. Which is a very good argument for Scottish independence.

  • George McI

    “Perhaps the worst was in the ITV debate when Corbyn was roundly jeered by a substantial section of the audience for stating that climate change impacted hardest on the poorest people in the poorest countries.”

    I have often wondered about TV audiences picked for political debate programmes. Given the fact that these programmes are supposed to give a voice to “the people”, the producers would surely not take chances. Of course they have to present some issues that are bound to be felt by the TV viewers but they will be careful to mould the response to generate the sense that the majority of the public just happen to side with what the rich want.

    • Antonym

      stating that climate change impacted hardest on the poorest people in the poorest countries.
      Corbyn was half right: the poorest people in the poorest countries will be hardest impacted by useful idiots like XR who want to deprive them of non-intermittent electricity -every night power cut – no sun, battery empty/ failed. Same for rain season. Want them to cut even more trees for fires?
      In India it is the LPG gas bottles that save the forests and the lungs of families during indoor cooking but what would Western XR dummies know? Someone should update George $oro$.

  • Dungroanin

    If 7 million watched live there will be millions more who recorded and catch up.

    Generally I consider most polls to be balls mainly because they are self selected or vetted responders. As well asthe sample sizes and gratuitous ‘weighting’ applied to provide the massaged ‘headline’ numbers – designed to get a message to the consumers along the 9 out of 10 cats.

    However here is a short list compiled by a poster at Proff Murphy’s site

    Britain Elects (sample size 33,000) – Corbyn 57%, Johnson 28%
    ITV (sample size 30,000) – Corbyn 78%, Johnson 22%
    Martyn Lewis (23,000) – Corbyn 46% Johnson 25%
    The Times (8,000) – Corbyn 63% Johnson 37%
    You Gov (1,646) – Corbyn 49% Johnson 51%

    I personally have eschewed the polls this time after almost daily scraps with the Obsessive Groans Opinium fantasies over the last few years – once I realised they really didn’t give a shit about barefaced lying.
    (My analysis of the raw data was a lot closer than their lies – last time).

  • alexey

    Corbyn could have done better. On the brexit thing he could have insisted its for the people to decide rather than tying his colours to a particular mast… that the tory brexit “deals” thus far negotiated were hard and harder and the divided country clearly needs something nearer to a compromise rather than one side claiming both victory and what it mandates. He also could have asked Pfeffel how many children he has. “5 or 6” maybe, or if he felt entitled to hand over public money to his mistress, or who was sitting on who’s fucking laptop, or how he can grow hair so quickly, how many hospital services are already privatized, where were the Tory 200,000 homes or how he managed to spend millions on a bridge without getting a bridge. It is depressing, I am however, holding onto hope that enough of the population will see sense.

  • GFL

    Regarding our nuclear deterrent , could someone enlighten me as to how independent it really is. For instance can we re-target the missiles at sea to any target of our choice. Nobody really knows the instructions in the letter to the captains of our submarine or whether they would carry out their orders.
    In the event of the unthinkable happening, if I was a submarine captain, I would disregard my orders, dive deep and set course for New Zealand

  • M.J.

    I didn’t watch the debate, but apparently didn’t miss much. On Radio 4 a group of youngsters weren’t impressed by either protagonist and felt that the debate was a waste of time. However they did feel that (as Craig has said) Boris merely repeated the mantra to get Brexit done, while Corbyn at least showed interest in other issues.

  • Deb O'Nair

    “You Gov’s verdict of a 51 to 49 victory for Johnson was very dubious indeed.”

    ITV had a twitter poll running during the show that ended with Corbyn on 78% and Johnson at 22%. The media are talking up Johnson in order to create the impression that he is far more popular with the public than he actually is so that no one is suspicious when he ends up as PM after the GE.

  • Deb O'Nair

    During the ‘debate’ Corbyn was questioned about antisemitism and made a comprehensive response by condemning antisemitism and all forms of racism and then explained how Labour had doubled the amount of staff handling complaints and had improved the speed of investigating complaints. Corbyn also explained that Labours disciplinary measures are the most rigorous of any of the other parties. Half an hour later on Newsnight Emily Maitlis read out a list of issues that Corbyn had failed to address during the ‘debate’, including antisemitism.

  • Dungroanin

    I do not despair. I have already posted a few bits.

    Corbyn does have snazzier glasses too – but pardon the pun – it was about the optics on the night. – the only reason people say ‘not Corbyn’ is because he has been kept off the screens by the establishment and monstered daily by the papers and shock jocks and most as anti semite and terrorist lover – that is why the 4 week fair coverage on the tv is the antidote- people who bothered to watch saw not the jew killer but a grown up next to the smirking blonde boytart. Bobos image managers and coaches like Kuenssberg will have gone into melt down.
    He looks crap without his dotting smirking pouting ****** surrounding him.

    Even their deadcat ploy of handy Andy hasn’t been as much a diversion as they hoped. Having to move to stage 2 last evening as the poll numbers came through…

    A few more tv sessions like that ‘debate’ and all the scales will fall from these who like the policies but have accepted the lies and the opinion of the msm – ABC anyone but corbyn!

    As they see with their own eyes that he is not a hitler and if he only had proper glasses they may even vote for him! It allows them to walkback from their irrational perception that Corbyn is a monster – without embarrassment.

    So expect his snazzy glasses to come out for the last week. Hell he could even have got some laser surgery – in and out in a day! But then they wouldn’t have been able to use the glasses ploy.

    It is all to play for – the public newspaper polls are as you know about nudging people to vote – but the Cabinet Office gets their own,
    covering all the regions and they’ve always been relied on by the civil servants to prepare for change of government – they would have been available over a week ago – even Sedwill wouldn’t have been able to hide them from his colleagues.

    As I keep saying there is only one danger – ballot box stuffing – like in the referendums and in the last 3 elections. THEY are counting on it – that is why they didn’t bother with actual policies or likeable cabinet ministers – the hubris of the tories joins the hubris of the blairites and accidentally delivers the best thing since Atlee for the majority of the country!

    Heck they may yet have to assassinate him! Out of shear panic from the 5+1 eyed empire dogs (Clinton/Netenyahu/ their attack dogs Pompeo/ Brennan – who have their own shit hitting the fan) but then we’ll end up with McDonnell as PM or even…even…Abbott!! With a massive sympathy vote.

    Ot they may try to call it off…and get a madcow infested gnu foisted upon us. The DS borg don’t give up.

    Has anyone been watching impeachment hearings? they are a hoot – feels funny rooting for the Republicans!!!

    The Dems are evil bastards trying to protect Biden/ Clintons etc. Their (the Resistance!) attempt at a coup kicked of by ‘the british spy -Steele..’ Trump has them by the gonads.
    (I mention this because if the Barr report is actuallt published anyday now it will have an impact on our elections).

  • Squeeth

    “…a substantial section of the audience….”

    The fascist FPTP voting system keeps the substantial section of shites like this in power, hence their success in sabotaging Exit, a policy desired by the majority. Change the voting system to a democratic one and they’ll have to find another way to rob us.

  • joel

    It ought to be remembered that the golden age of western liberalism was contemporaneous with the zenith of slavery, imperialism, famine and the workhouse — culminating in the Great Depression and the charnel houses of two world wars.

    Every one of Bozo’s front bench would quite rightly describe themselves as liberals. As would Osborne, Blair, the Clintons, McCain, Thatcher, Reagan et al. So too Aaronovitch, Nick Cohen, Luke Harding and co.

    Pankaj Mishra supplied a brief unvarished history of British liberalism in last week’s New Yorker.
    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/11/11/liberalism-according-to-the-economist
    There is a closer look at the hegemonic ideology of modern times in Domenico Losurdo’s Liberalism: A Counter History. He finds it (and the great liberal canon) badly wanting in both logical consistency and the most basic humanity.

    It can fairly be said that Jo Swinson is a richly emblematic liberal figure.

    • Rowan Berkeley

      “Jo Swinson is a richly emblematic liberal figure.” Indeed. Craig is a soclialist, whatever his intellectual standards in reading matter may have been. Socialists are not liberals.

    • Laguerre

      Liberalism is a dirty word for the New Yorker. Nobody’s forced to use that, or your, definition of the term. Anybody can define a word in a way that suits them.

      • Squeeth

        “Liberalism is a dirty word for the New Yorker. Nobody’s forced to use that, or your, definition of the term. Anybody can define a word in a way that suits them.”

        Oh, thanks for that; I was brought up to believe that “no” meant “no”.

      • Rowan Berkeley

        “Go read J A Hobson.” Hobson is certainly important. Lenin salutes him and admits to having stolen his one-word title for his own book. The central chapter on the pro-Boer War cabal in the City is a masterpiece of sober concision. But Joel is right in the most fundamental sense: liberalism stood for free enterprise, plain and unvarnished.

      • joel

        Hobson was no more representative of the liberal establishment / intelligentsia of his day than you are Craig. I didnt even mention Hiroshima, Vietnam, Iraq, or austerity.

      • bevin

        Have you forgotten that Hobson is currently considered to be anti semitic and that Corbyn’s intro to a new edition is held to be evidence of his own antisemitism?
        One really couldn’t make this up.

    • Forthestate

      “It can fairly be said that Jo Swinson is a richly emblematic liberal figure.”

      True enough. All I know is that Liberals, broadly speaking, have aways hated socialists much more than they do the far right, towards which they move when the prospect of the former is in the ascendent. We see this with Jo Swinson’s Liberals, and the Democratic Party in the US in reaction to the rise of those within it challenging the economic status quo. Hillary Clinton would rather see Trump in the White House than Bernie Sanders, whose failed candidacy she rigged. By the time a socialist arrived on the scene in the Labour Party, its liberal wing had destroyed Iraq, backed the destruction of Libya, and voted for austerity, making poor people pay for the profligacy of bankers. Nick Clegg, of course, was crucial to the devastation visited on the welfare of millions, but it seems it isn’t until Swinson arrives that Craig Murray has a problem with that party.

      Liberals appear to become myopic the moment their gaze is drawn below the horizon of their own milieu. It is the failure of liberalism as the self appointed guardian of social justice that has led to the breakdown of democratic politics throughout the western world. People who should have championed inclusivity have failed. It is the liberal press as much as anyone that fails to report on the Gilets Jaunes movement in France; it is liberals, as much as anyone, characterising the referendum’s clearest clarion call of protest that we have heard in many years from those far worse off than themselves as the cacophony of a rabble, just as it was a liberal who dubbed working class people in America who refused to vote for her “a basket of deplorables”. You don’t have to romanticise the electorate to consider that an insult, and if you don’t, you might want to consider some other form of politics than democracy, Burkean or otherwise. I’d have far more sympathy for the charge of racism levelled at Brexiters if those making it acknowledged, just once, that millions of people have fared extremely badly over the last few decades, and refusing to address that, here, throughout Europe, the US and beyond, lies at the root cause of global civil unrest. Acknowledging racism whilst ignoring social deprivation as a factor behind Brexit is dumb. Really dumb. But it’s also in the liberal tradition. Let’s be honest, liberalism is middle class self interest. I’ve said it before on here, but till the day I die I will never forget how the commentariat went from being good, liberal supporters of the underdog in our society – it’s why NewLabourites voted for Blair rather than the Tories, apparently – to decrying 17 million people, most of them at the bottom end of society, as thick, uneducated knuckle scraping racists – a basket of deplorables, no less. You can decry ‘the mob’, made up, as it is, of disparate elements, some of them racist, some saints, but if you have nothing more to offer them than this, and liberalism has offered them nothing at all -fuck all -then you’re largely responsible for what you see.

      On the subject of that myopia, there’s a song by Nobel laureate Bob Dylan which captures so much of the logical inconsistency and warped humanity of liberalism to which you refer by way of Domenico Losurdo. I think it’s worth posting. There’s no anachronistic virtue signalling here, just the astounding lack of self awareness that saw liberalism itself morph seamlessly into the shameless pursuit of self:

      “As I went out one morning
      To breathe the air around Tom Paine’s
      I spied the fairest damsel
      That ever did walk in chains
      I offer’d her my hand
      She took me by the arm
      I knew that very instant
      She meant to do me harm.

      “Depart from me this moment”
      I told her with my voice
      Said she,” but I don’t wish to”
      Said I, “But you have no choice”
      “I beg you, sir,” she pleaded
      From the corners of her mouth
      “I will secretly accept you
      And together we’ll fly south.”

      Just then Tom Paine himself
      Came running from across the field,
      Shouting at this lovely girl
      And commanding her to yield
      And as she was letting go her grip
      Up Tom Paine did run
      “I’m sorry, sir,” he said to me
      “I’m sorry for what she’s done.”

      For me, the most powerful line in that is “I offered her my hand”. What sensibility of Paine’s was it that saw no contradiction in adopting a courteous, even courtly manner to a girl in chains? What social mores thought that appropriate? Once again, a sociopathic inability to recognise those below their own social milieu as eligible to be included in their own virtue signalling morality, as anything other than ‘other’, or to empathise with their situation. That, for me, is as much of a problem in this country as racism in Ramsgate, which I’m prepared to acknowledge. The problem is growing, and will continue to do so as long as it is ignored. Liberalism in this country has ignored it to the extent that the Liberal Party united with Cameron in order to kick those at the bottom even harder. We have the rise of the far right across Europe because liberalism prefers to align itself with the interests of the billionaires who raised a billion euros in 24 hours to restore a building in Paris rather than with those people protesting, amongst many other social evils, against the highest number of homeless people in the country’s history, under the leadership of a man who served as finance minister under a supposedly socialist president. He wasn’t a socialist – he was a liberal, like Macron.

      To hell with liberalism, frankly, it’s why we’re where we are. It’s failed abysmally. Its supposedly leading exponent in the world today couldn’t even beat Donald Trump, a man whose candidacy she played a part in arranging, on the grounds that he’d be the easiest person to beat. That’s how much it’s failed us. It’s about to do it again. ‘Ukrainegate’ is a repeat of ‘Russiagate’. This is happening because liberalism has no policies with which to oppose Trump (any more than it has policies with which to oppose the most right wing government in this country, having propped it up to begin with) – only Bernie Sanders has those.

      • joel

        I share your sentiments forth, 100%. The last few years have ended the last lingering doubts about the fundamental dishonesty and indecency of this liberal political and media class — the outrageous antisemitism fairytale over here, the cynical Russiagate fairytale in the US. I respect the honourable tradition Craig represents but the standard bearers of today’s liberalism are low lifes of the first order, heirs to the worst abominations of western liberal history. They have forfeited all their legitimacy to dictate, which they believe to be their right.

    • Dave Lawton

      “It can fairly be said that Jo Swinson is a richly emblematic liberal figure.”
      Rich yes as she pocketed £14000 from the boss of a fracking company to vote to reduce the regulations.

  • Conjunction

    I entirely agree with Craig on his first point which shows how degraded some of the audience were.

    However if Labour are to improve their showing in the polls as Craig anticipates I see no sign of it. After the 2nd Reform Act in 1870 gave the vote to all men, politicians, notably Disraeli, the PM around that time, realised that politicians could no longer afford to say what they thought, they had to tailor it to what the electorate would accept. It is very rare when the electorate’s view of life converges with the PM’s, as it did perhaps during World War II.

    Corbyn has not come to terms with this, and takes it further to the point that he has contempt for the electorate and doesn’t understand the art of compromise. Despite all his virtues, and I wouldn’t miss this website for a single morning, compromise is not one of Craig’s virtues either. Corbyn doesn’t understand the arguments about antisemitism, nor why he is despised for his Brexit position. His views are honourable but naive. Personally I suspect he senses this and actually doesn’t want to be Prime Minister, knowing he would be trying to raise his voice against a howling wind.

    • Yossi

      And just how do you know Corbyn has contempt for the electorate? More adhom nonsense I think.
      As for compromise you are wrong. He has compromised his ideals to pacify many of his party centrists with regard to Brexit, Chris Williamson and Julian Assange.

    • Dungroanin

      “It is very rare when the electorate’s view of life converges with the PM’s, as it did perhaps during World War II.”

      Yeah?
      1945 – Winnie OUT, Atlee IN
      2019 – Mini Winnie OUT, mini Atlee IN

  • Cascadian

    “asked if she would press the nuclear button, she replied without a millisecond of hesitation: “yes”.”

    Back in the 90s an ex-RAF pilot whom I knew loaned me a book that had been written by a Japanese doctor who was living in Hiroshima prior to, at the time of, and during the aftermath of the bomb that was dropped on it – he worked at the Commercial Seamen’s Hospital in Hiroshima.

    The book documents his experience of the events which occurred at the time of the blast and what happened during the weeks and months following the blast. He describes both his own experience of the blast, his house was situated 500metres from ground zero (it was demolished but he survived), his observations of the effects of the blast on the city and its population, and his experiences when attempting to apply whatever treatment he could to survivors during the aftermath of the blast.

    As part of my army training I was instructed in the effects of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. That was horrific enough, but the tale told in that book surpassed all those descriptions to a considerable degree.

    The reality is that the tale told in that book was reminiscent of the most horrific of Edgar Allen Poe’s novels that I have read.

    That book should be required reading by all decision makers who may be faced with making the choice to initiate the use of nuclear weapons. In my humble opinion anyone who replies with the same emphatic yes as Ms Swinson is both a fool and an idiot who truly does not and is probably incapable of understanding the true horror which will follow use of those weapons.

    I just wish I could remember the title of it (it was 20 years ago) and the author’s name – I shall have to go and ask Dodge if he still has it and get the details to pass on.

    • Yr Hen Gof

      Hiroshima Diary: The Journal of a Japanese Physician, August 6-September 30, 1945
      by Michihiko Hachiya, Warner Wells (Translator & Editor),

      The late Dr. Michihiko Hachiya was director of the Hiroshima Communications Hospital when the world’s first atomic bomb was dropped on the city. Though his responsibilities in the appalling chaos of a devastated city were awesome, he found time to record the story daily, with compassion and tenderness. His compelling diary was originally published by the UNC Press in 1955, with the help of Dr. Warner Wells of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who was a surgical consultant to the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission and who became a friend of Dr. Hachiya.

  • CasualObserver

    With the news of Mr Salmond being charged with sexual offences, combined with the Andrew distraction, I’d have to assume that those who have a far better overview than any of us here, sense that the upcoming election may cause more problems than it sets out to solve ?

  • Gary

    Yes, the leader’s debate, just who WAS that aimed at? It seemed to suit those who had already made up their minds. I can only think that it was aimed at a narrow band of Leave voting Labour supporters and that is all. Nothing either said would be news to anyone else. Corbyn didn’t appeal, or try to appeal, to Scottish voters – except those who already vote Labour. Perhaps this was more about consolidating the existing vote?

    I must agree with you on Charles Kennedy. Whilst I didn’t agree with much of what he stood for I genuinely felt respect for him. He could argue his point respectfully without name calling (which doesn’t sound much but is far and away superior to anything in UK politics today) He left those who DISAGREED with him feeling that he COULD be right. He was a great loss not just to his family and friends but to politics and the LibDems in particular. Had he still been leader today the LibDems would have more seats and have more respect within the political classes than they do now. Jo Swinson has lost the last shred of respect that anyone had for the party. There is nothing liberal about her at all – she is an extremist. Her willingness to commit a war crime (using a weapon of mass destruction) and kill innumerable innocent civilians says everything you need to know, then, on a lesser scale, she is a unionist who says that despite the union voting for Brexit she would overturn the vote without any further reference to the public. As I see it, Scotland could escape the madness via independence but, if you ARE a unionist you must accept the verdict of a referendum of the union countries.

    But politics IS dirtier now than ever. The unwarranted smears against Corbyn and the entire Labour Party for anti-semitism which obviously IS a problem but certainly NOT to the extent that the press alleges and certainly NOT from Corbyn himself. Whilst I disagree with the man’s politics he is the most anti-racist leader of any national party that there has ever been. And yet the Tory leader, an islamophobe, leading a party full of racists, are rarely brought up on their prejudices.

    And today I see, I’m sure coincidentally, that Alex Salmond is up at court and that the allegations are all over the BBC again. Coincidentally perfect timing for the Tories and SLAB. It’s not that I don’t believe in coincidence but…

    So it’s hard not to despair of this election campaign. I’m (only slightly) a politics geek. I read up on political opinion from ALL sides and look at blogs I agree AND disagree with too, gets a FULL picture of what’s happening rather than simply an ‘echo chamber’ for my own opinions and so, looking at the more right wing blogs, especially the far right Order Order blog I see what’s ‘considered to be’ the acceptable face of the far right in the form of Paul Staines and his colleagues. They write smears and dogwhistle articles for what can only be described as racists and extremists, look yet further and read the comments and you’ll see (as you described as living in the UKIP heartlands) fully racist comments by people who think the Tories, even now, are too far to the left. It is the ONLY blog I have EVER read where the admins don’t remove death threats (and I DON’T mean jokey comments) Maybe I’m just, firstly, old enough to see it and secondly, modern technology allows me to see the REAL opinions of others (especially outwith the area where I live) Maybe people have ALWAYS been this bad? Certainly in THIS election the far right extremists will have a greater sway than in any I remember in my life.

  • Vivian O'Blivion

    James Kelly discusses the obstacles to removing Swinson from East Dumbartonshire. Personal loyalty vote, Tories voting tactically, Tories (and Labour) standing paper candidates and prestige of having your MP as a national leader.

    https://www.thenational.scot/news/18046950.general-election-analysis-will-jo-swinson-lose-east-dunbartonshire/

    What he omits is SPEND. The LibDems are up to their old tricks. Multiple leaflets promoting the LibDem party and or Willy Rennie, which they will claim have nothing to do with Jo Swinson and the General Election and it’s just pure coincidence that they were delivered during a General Election campaign. And why not? The Election Commission accepted this blatantly disingenuous excuse in 2017 when Swinson exceeded the permissible electioneering limit.
    In the 10 month period between October 2018 and August 2019 (covering only a pointless EU Election) the LibDems spent £367K on Facebook advertising alone. Ask yourself, WTF does the cash come from?
    Corbyn and Momentum have damaged NewLab. Many of the NewLab operatives have moved on to lucrative, Third sector appointments. The likes of Kinnock remain in case control can be wrestled back but the British American Project and the Deep State faction it represents have switched to the LibDems.
    Sorry for the rant but Swinson really gets my goat. That arms spread “messiah” stance (acquired from Killary) is as phoney as rockinghorse shite. Thankfully the more people see Swinson the more they see through the act (as indeed was the cas with Killary).

    • Vivian O'Blivion

      Oh and another thing. Months ago on this blog, I wrote that Swinson had a perfectly acceptable reason for living in Chippenham (’cause I’m reasonable at the end of the day). I wrote that Swinson’s husband “is” the MP for Chippenham and they have small children to look after. CORRECTION, Swinson’s husband was rejected by the electorate of Chippenham in 2015 and given that the Tory majority is 16.5K he won’t be returning to Westminster anytime soon.

    • Hatuey

      There’s a better chance than I think you suggest that she will lose her seat. Nobody can stand her.

      The polls show that the more people see her, the more they dislike her. That’s extremely unusual. I can’t remember ever seeing anything like that in polls. Gordon Brown in 2010 came close but it wasn’t anything like as clear and actually I remember seeing a surge after a TV debate.

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