Thursday, 14 July 2016

May to End in Failure?

Goodbye Cameron. Thanks for all the austerity, for freezing benefits, for attacking the young in particular, and most of all, thanks for the gamble that lost us our place in Europe because people had one huge protest vote about immigration and blamed the wrong thing.

An occasional pub acquaintance who has gone on for the last year about getting out of the European Union said to me on Tuesday that his side won but then lost. I said not to be so sure. I used to say why I was for being in the EU and I had assumed in would win. Of course he won. but he does not think so.

Is the Foreign Secretary a 'top job' now? It was once, and might be again, but in the EU a whole range of Secretaries of State went to the Council of Ministers. Appointing Boris Johnson to that role is either ridiculous or brilliant. Ridiculous because he can't handle detail and can't be a serious mouth that doesn't make daft statements. But if might be brilliant because after winning he wrote the Daily Telegraph article that suggested some rowing back from his campaign position. It was Gove's public moment to knife Boris, despite being in on Boris's conversion to 'out' all along. On the other hand he acts as a sort of presentation man beyond the diplomats. The real job goes to David Davies, and one wonders as to how he will square the circles of leaving. Liam Fox presumably has to find other markets for trading, start to see how Antarctica will do a trade deal. Well, it is several countries and no country at once. As for Theresa May as Prime Minister, she has a strong authoritarian streak, evidently; she will be to her new Home Secretary Amanda Rudd as Gordon Brown was to Ed Balls- "I know more about it than you." You end up overshadowed. I don't trust all this equality talk, and it's likely to be more of the same.

In a sense May is asking those who broke it to keep it, those who knocked us off the shelf to clear up the mess. But she is the one who has said, "Brexit is Brexit," about which more below.

I don't agree with most of my friends, who paid the full fee to join Labour and will still be able to vote. Others who went for the cut price option now have to stump up the full fee. Labour's coffers must look pretty healthy at the moment. To me Labour is finished. Despite the gerrymandering, Jeremy Corbyn will win easily. Owen Smith might offer a second referendum on the EU; I think a manifesto to stay in is quite sufficient. After all he can only offer it if in power, if he wins, so why not restore representative democracy?

Labour is finished because 80% of his MPs are now into open season in attacking Jeremy Corbyn in such a manner as nothing restores after a win by him. John McDonnell is virtually hated as the hard man behind Corbyn, the ideologue. So when Corbyn wins again, the MPs will be unable to work under him. This means they will have to be deselected one by one, but while in Parliament they remain as MPs.

If they are deselected they will have no choice BUT to form a new party. Only a new party can have a selection method that will avoid the Corbyn contradiction. Some may cross over to existing parties. They won't like it, but there will be no option. Some will just leave Parliament.

The Liberal Democrats may pick up a few, but more likely there will be a separate grouping, possibly informal, but will have to be more formal once there is a General Election.

The betting must be that the Conservative government under Theresa May invokes Article 50 in 2017, possibly by executive diktat but maybe held back by the need to repeal The European Communities Act 1972 and a legislative mountain of changes of laws that reflect our European place for the past 40 years. By then a majority may have been lost to do it. Assuming it is invoked, the danger then is that Britain doesn't get what it wants and finds itself out of the EU with nothing. This end could find the government hitting failure, a stress level to the UK that is simply unalterable. This all relies on Qualified Majority Voting from the others, and the UK is left bereft of anything decent, causing relocation of business and us to end up having to compete as a cheap, low cost labour, island - all exploitation to try and make up the difference.

The talk, however, is putting tanks on a more moderate Labour's lawn. If May's government is more redistributive, then it will add to the sense of Labour's end in Parliament.

Of course, should we find our way out of the EU, the perceived need to find our way in again might be with a huge price - none of the opt-outs we once had. There might be the ready-made EEA, but that's just the EU plus the cost minus representation. It is the worst outcome of all. Again, it won't be altered for our benefit. The EEA is for countries that might join, not those that come out.

So my occasional pub acquaintance might be right, right in the sense that he was sold a pup by those politicians that promised so much. It won't look much different at all - we just won't have a say in what takes place. In that circles cannot be squared, this government is likely to end in failure simply through the contradictions. If the contradictions become obvious in the preparatory period, it could mean it does not invoke Article 50, which would be good. But she promises to come out. The contradictions will be realised during the two years after which we will come out. So we will come out, although she has not defined her "Brexit means Brexit". So one might see Article 50 invoked, and then contradictions, then a request for an extension. An extension can only be granted unanimously only, and maybe only indefinitely, to the point it is dropped. How so?

The basis of coming out may be such that a second referendum is demanded among the public, but then if a yes vote it would require the unanimous vote of the EU to drop the Article 50 action. There surely is a means among the others to reverse it, should this be the outcome. Also our representatives might bring the farce to an end.

But by then the EU may want rid of us anyway. It's why political parties must get their act together. Only the Scottish National Party is likely to do this with any effect. There really isn't time for Labour to mess about; it's MPs may as well start to transfer once this leadership conference is over. I want to see definite and clear politics based on not invoking Article 50. This has to be the basis of opposition.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Nag Runs Out of Breath

So the loathsome Loadsom has gone. Here's what happened.

In the Tory horse race, jockeys racing close to each in the Party Stakes hoping to exit the main race stabbed each other and their horses so that they all fell bloodied along the course. As a result, the shadowy female jockey and horse over to one side, that was for staying in the main race but suspiciously so, was left well out in front, but another exiting unbloodied horse and female jockey came up on the rails and might have been fancied by the punters eligible to have a bet between only two.

However, this nag was found to lack the wind and energy for the rest of this Party Stakes race. It couldn't gallop properly and was probably only in the race because the jockey had lied about its past and present abilities. Having stumbled simply by running, the jockey pulled it up and gave up.

As a result, race officials will pronounce that the lead jockey and the engine of the horse has no need to continue running. The finish line is assumed and the current holder of the Party Stakes trophy will hand over the crown sooner than he thought.

This was a professional race, but there is another run by a bunch of amateurs.

In this race, the jockey and horse that holds its crown may not even be allowed to run, when they would run. Another female jockey and her horse has entered the race, on the obvious claim that it can run faster. However, there are a huge number of gamblers eligible to have a bet, and it is known that they are only eligible in order to support the present holder of the crown. It's the race community and officials who support having a race at all, with this jockey and nag to take on the incumbent.

If there is a contest there is no doubt that the incumbent will win, because in this race as with the other it is the gamblers who decide the outcome. All you have to be is one of the majority of gamblers, and the incumbent has by far most of them.

But if the race officials prevent the incumbent from running, and leave the contender just to trot along to the finishing pole, the gamblers are likely to start a bloody and protracted process of deselecting the officials and race community. In fact they may start doing this anyway, especially if the now given winner of the other race does not call a wider race where we all get to have a punt.

The amateurs in the race have not really demonstrated that their jockey and nag is up to the race at all. She's had a few gallops here and there, but the job of communicating and connecting seems far from clear. Why should she be any better than the incumbent? If it is simply ideas, then the gamblers will be taking on the task of replacing race officials and the community so that the ideas are more consistent.

The result of this could be that the race community members in some number form a different grouping, either informally or more formally. They just don't have the means, or the rules, to do any differently, to try and say remove the incumbent and supporters. They would have to go elsewhere and make a differently grouped appeal to the wider punters who get to decide the biggest race - one that may still come sooner rather than later.

And as for the previous race, yes, I'm writing as I hear that the Incumbent will have one more little run out, answering a few questions and then will hand over the crown of incumbency. Let's hope that there is no round of applause as with Blair (given what happened to him subsequently) as this incumbent was a reckles gambler who failed and has caused the mess in the first place.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Politics Has Changed

It seems that if you want to lead a political party, you ought to be a woman. Except Labour of course, because if Angela Eagle stands to be leader she will be beaten by Jeremy Corbyn, Some close to 130,000 have joined Labour recently. Two of these have been my friends, stumping up the full £60 each, both to vote for Corbyn. Both socialists, they haven't been involved as such before.

Now since the Liberal Democrats did the dirty and upheld the Tories, so that at the last General Election they could take the blame, be punished for manfesto dishonesty, and the Tories could duff them up in key areas of the country, I have also been pro-Corbyn or at least as supporting someone prepared to see this rotten economy we have for what it is and to invest instead in people economically and socially. So, a social liberal - that's how I'd describe myself - it was punish the Liberal Democrats and bye bye and adapt to the new situation.

Plus I worry about Tim Fallon's Christianity as much as Andrea Leadsom's, although she is the real deal when it comes to loony religion and loony politics in combination. She's had travel paid for by the neo-Cons when visiting America, she's anti-gay, was always anti-minimum wage, telling the House of Commons of a banking management and stretching her CV when not so, and of course saying things to The Times clearly on the audio tape that she claims she didn't say. But if she's a Donald Trump, then it's all publicity and could energise the nutcases who find a privileged hom in the Conservative Party. The country is going to hell in a handcart and might soon have imposed on to it a horse to gallop it there. Although Theresa May is by far the preference of the Tory MPs, there is nothing stopping the Tory membership from doing a Corbyn and electing Leadsom. Be very afraid.

Everything has changed since this Tory Party referendum was hoisted on to a general public that could not even be bothered to find out how the European Union works, never mind discover its founding principles. The Remain camp would not idealise it, even if flawed. Some thought the EU is neo-liberal: well, if it is, blame the lethal combination of British Economic Liberalism influence and German monetary discipline. We've always had the latter, but the EU was set up as dirigiste in its economic affairs. And had we joined the euro, it would have been a far broader currency and not seen such a division between north and south Europe. Meanwhile the exit camp played on fears and people's mental images of immigration and some wonderworld outside the necessities of sharing sovereignty with people like us. Turkeys therefore voted for Christmas because the people who fed the ideology to them were turkey farmers. The EU referendum was one elite versus another, one able to draw on the frustration of a de-ideologised ex-working class and underclass that has been politically too uninvolved to see that they were being sold a fake prospectus.

And once again on a false prospectus we make a decision to be a bull in the china shop and find there is no plan once the pots are smashed. The Scots will be to us like the Kurds are to Iraq: about the only place to benefit.

But all has changed because I think politics now is NOT about the best deal for how to leave the EU, but how not to leave the EU at all. There is no best deal. Politics for others is also still about leaving, if they can afford it. The people like me at present are a minority, but the minority has to battle to prevent disaster. At present the disaster is starting to unfold due to uncertainty, but it will unfold proper when the UK breaks up, when businesses and finance relocates to the EU (for example, in Edinburgh...). Northern Ireland faces added tension. England faces an even greater dispossessed.

Corbyn's socialism might be the only thing that holds up the dispossessed in a world beyond the EU, but it will only come after a Leadsom has led us all into some kind of marketised cheap hell hole. Go her way, go his: like a manic-depressive on one leg. Except it won't go like that - will it? Corbyn won't be introducing socialism, because the present Labour MPs won't let him. But we might all be sent into the market jungle in a low tax desperate economy based on shelter and food.

Well, the EU referendum made new friends and new enemies. Should the Tories elect Leadsom, then Leadsom might well lose her majority. If Angela Eagle loses to Corbyn, as she will, Labour MPs in the Commons will either temporarily break away from the Labour leadership (deselect them!) and start to make new alliances. The alliances will be based on the EU referendum. So there could (among some) be another SDP type gathering, but this time even wider across, but all with the Lib Dems surely in opposing any invoking of Article 50.

I am waiting for David Lammy to change where he sits in the House of Commons. Surely if Corbyn is re-elected leader he will move. Corbyn is not interested in preventing Article 50 as a matter of principle, only as a matter of what will be the negotiating position at its point of invocation. Presumably, if it isn't satsifactory he'd vote against, but he might accept UK versions of the Social Chapter, for example. So what? - with the EU Qualified Majority sitting on its hands while the clock ticks, the UK could well end up with comparatively sod-all, whatever was its position for a negotiation. Bye bye UK, oh and if you ever wanted to come back, it's not on the terms you had before. In fact, some say, the EU is better off without the UK. The temporary economic hit to Europe and its economy will soon be restored by relocations and the EU can be dirigiste again.

Yes, everything has changed. My friends have joined up, and at the same time the EU vote has given me the space to say that, although I overlapped with Corbyn, I am different. I am now prepared to go back to the Liberal Democrats if they offer clarity. None of this "Don't ever vote for them again" nonsense. Politics changes. The sinners have chances to repent.

My own position, personally, won't be much different. In a sense, this is about the rest of these islands. It's about Europe too. It's about my own mental map, my own idealism, the wider view.

I don't know about Corbyn. I don't know when the next General Election comes if he will reconnect with the underclass and just above, or if UKIP will get a tipping point in its favour and return many MPs. UKIP will still be about because they are like a classroom monitor regarding an EU exit and also tweaking at the ordinary prejudices people have when they want to blame other people for what has gone wrong. The danger then of Labour imploding is to end up as a rump, a second Scotland, this time in the North and Midlands, and then of course Corbyn will go, but it will be too late. But he won't go beforehand. He has the Militant Tendency - no, not them - Momentum driving the discipline and lots of signed up socialists to keep him there. Monte Carlo or bust, and bust is most likely.

The only logic for Labour is to deselect its MPs so that they are going to support its leadership. If they don't, then the 80% of its MPs will never work with the Labour leadership, and it will crumble. The immediate future though is the danger that Leadsom will be the right wing tendency for the loonies to run the asylum, just as they did the exit referendum campaign. They all were: Cameron, a loony for calling it, and a loony defensive remain campaign, and the backstabbing loonies on the exit side, most of whom broke the sodding thing and left it on the ground by running away. But I don't want, hell I don't want, Leadsom to be the wild-eyed one to try and put the pot back into one piece. She is a real ever present danger now.

So, with this change, I'm arguing my corner. Some 16000 have joined the Liberal Democrats since the referendum result. I won't - too wary for that (and broke) and I'm waiting for clarity. NOT a policy to have the most pro-European exit, but to stop it. To argue that a General Election with a manifesto to stay in trumps any advisory referendum, and that beforehand MPs are representatives who discern before they vote. And 76% of them were for staying in the EU. Well, will they agree to do what they don't believe? They are not delegates but representatives. If it is too dangerous, and too stupid to leave the EU, then don't do it. If Leadsom (assuming it's her) can't command a majority she won't invoke Article 50. No one has to help her. So don't do it.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Infamy Infamy: He Had It In For Him

I want to learn at least about how to do this. I always want to learn and here is something else to discover: how political assassinations work. So I have been educating myself.

Not from scratch, however. I remember a few short months at the University of Essex, with an MA course and accommodation that didn't work out. For this period, within 1981-82, I had activity as 'an agnostic' in the Chaplaincy and within the Liberals at the Student Union. At that time politically there was a choice as to whether to align with the Broad Left or go with the emerging Social Democrats. The Liberals were a bit lefty and the intention was to go with the Broad Left. Leighton Rees was about - he has since enjoyed well-known public office at the Welsh Assembly for Labour. Well, I favoured the Social Democrats, and I won. I overthrew the establishment so to speak. Someone said I had done this before; I hadn't but seemed to know what I was doing and how to do it. Now, before the outcome, one of the warnings at the time was not to win and then end up leaving the University, as it was known things were going wrong for me regarding settling into the course.. On winning I immediately tacked in the direction of the losers. Then I was given notice of losing the accommodation - a family member needed my place and I'd already moved a number of times. I'd had enough of the course and personnel and left. Consequently I left them with a bit of a mess.

A bit like Boris Johnson, eh, years later? Boris strived out, could have been pro or anti-European, was anti-European, sidelined Cameron, won, then tacked towards Remain, and then left, leaving a mess.

His tack-back was a Daily Telegraph essay that even gave a possibility that Article 50 might not be invoked. It's as if he might have another go at getting a deal of loose association but within the EU. He was certainly pro-single market, and he had become 'liberal' on immigration - the basis of so much tribal Out voting. So the going narrative was that Farage suspected backsliding and Gove was concerned and so Gove ran.

Until it turns out that Gove almost certainly had a hand in that article: had looked at it and gave it the nod. The team then was still running. But it isn't just that. It also seems that back in February 16th this year Gove, Johnson, wives and Evgeny Lebedev had a meal at which Johnson was persuaded to back Leave. Gove was always clear Out.

Thus Gove had Boris on his side, and Boris would make a difference. It would severely wound or topple Cameron. Clearly Gove knew that Johnson was luke-warm all the way through, and let Johnson write and publish his highly-paid article. Probably Johnson thought Gove was also being tactical regarding the 48% and practicalities as well. But not so, because it became evidence of backsliding, the Gove wife Sarah Vine then did an email leak (and another newspaper proprieter considered) and Gove stood. Johnson was outmanoeuvred and then became an entertainer again at his 'not me' for the leadership.

Meanwhile, it turns out that all this time through the campaign, Gove has had regular meetings with Osborne - so that in a Gove regime Osborne would have a top job, like Foreign Secretary. One can imagine this the other way around, that had Remain won Gove would have had a top job in an Osborne takeover. Gove would have represented the minority for Out, pressing, presumably, for maximising the terms Cameron had negotiated. Presumably a wounded Cameron who'd said he'd go would have had a succession attempt from Osborne.
The February meal and hand in on the Daily Telegraph article show real political skills of treachery and skullduggery. I must say: I have to admire the man Gove for wielding a very sharp and timely knife.

Unfortunately it never quite works out. What works best is to allow degrees of betrayal and the ability to be flexible. Johnson did lead Leave, he assassinated in the process, but then he had to tack-back and isolate the likes of Farage, Leadsom etc. and possibly Gove. But Gove had set him up all along, and so Johnson fell, and Gove moved from the number 2 to the number 1.

But in doing so, Gove relies on some very disgruntled pro-Johnson people, and cannot rely on the 'stop Johnson' ones either. His hope is that he can be number 2 in the selection process by MPs, and then get the vote of the membership instead of Theresa May. Unfortunately the appearance of the unbloodied - someone who does well from the sidelines and as committed as Gove to being 'Out' - can sap the vote from the knife-wielder himself. He has to find a way to undermine Andrea Leadsom, or she will undermine him and conclusively.

And she has potential to win in the membership against a Theresa May. Suspicions will arise that Theresa May herself will not invoke Article 50. It is why she says the referendum means she will do it, why she 'benefits' from her own very luke-warm 'Remain' position (loyalty to Cameron plus a speech bashing the EU). But she is vulnerable. She has to do the opposite of Johnson, and tack towards the 'Out' people. It might not be enough and Gove is saying so.

Meanwhile the argument has to be made, and if not made become a challenge, that the  Executive alone cannot invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, because its place in UK law comes under the European Communities Act (if I have its name correct) and the Lisbo Treaty like all others is deeply part of UK domestic law. Indeed the Scottish Assembly as devolved is so partly under a European dimension.

That brings it to Parliament and then under the influence of time, and also the authority of a newly led Tory regime, by May or Leadsom (presumably), and its ability to survive under a small majority of Tories when many are driven anti-EU and some pro-EU as well. Labour must only vote for invoking Article 50 if the negotiation is positive. The SNP will vote against. All this makes a General Election more likely, at which point candidates are perfectly within their rights to wish to be elected on a 'stay in' basis.

The Manifesto of a Party or individuals says: the Referendum was advisory. It was called to solve a Conservative Party split and gambled the country. The Out side lied and could not keep their promises. The potential result of removal is evidently destructive. Vote for us/ me and we will not vote to invoke Article 50.

A party that does this, and makes it a cast-iron promise, will attract a lot of votes.

This is not over yet. What we know is that we got here by politicians exercising skullduggery on the risk of destroying the country over which they have had responsibility.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Now that Everything is All Over the Place

I have delayed further blog entries because the situation keeps changing. Good job too because I'd not have foreseen Boris Johnson bottling it.

It turns out that the assassin of David Cameron assassinated himself, via his most recent highly paid Daily Telegraph column. His supporters read it and received a cold shudder, that he might tack towards the remain camp. I took it that he might never invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty at all.

The task was to win office and then proceed; obviously, he would not have had sufficient majority to manage matters, and would need a General Election. Although that might be more difficult than some imagine, the weakness of Labour is ever more spectacular at the moment. It could be that Boris would prefer not to take a pay cut in office (though usually they do), or be overwhelmed by the demands of the job - but most likely he might consider that he'd end up a Gordon Brown, an 'after-Blair' character, in this case 'After-Cameron'. He has plenty of time to consider again after a leader has burnt out on a sticky wicket of a decision made that cannot by definition be carried through successfully. It can't because the exit campaign promises cannot be delivered.

And he may have just decided that he'll take the risk, that a wrecker who bottled it won't be considered again.

I was aware this blog entry might not last a day. It seems in part not to have lasted some hours. Since I wrote this Michael Gove has been accused of "student union politics" and it seems the daggers were out more spectacularly than I had considered. It must be the article, because Gove has stressed that the person elected to be Prime Minister must be a definite out person. He'll attract the nut jobs in this, from the Tory Party, but I think he is finished. Boris killed Cameron, he's killed Boris, and the field is left to others. Plus telling us that Boris is incapable, Gove once clearly said that Gove is incapable of doing the PM job as well. So Boris was capable, but now is not; Gove was not capable, but now is; May who wanted in is now sufficiently out. It also seems Angela Eagle could leave it until next week. Until Chilcott? Or have they bottled it? Heseltine is livid that Boris has destroyed so much and then walked away from the bloody mess.

The Conservatives are now all over the place, although leadership and a General Election would refresh. It should not be clear that they would win, although Labour are making this a lot easier than should be.

I supported (did not vote) Jeremy Corbyn as a person with appropriate ideas for the moment, for the future. The Liberal Democrats were pretty much irrelevant, even after a few recognitions that propping up the Tories was a disaster to themselves and a betrayal of their supporters. That's why their representation fell from over 50 MPs to eight, and nearly didn't get eight.

Events that shift plate tectonics throw everything up in the air. As Conservatives are near leaderless, Labour has finally erupted in so far as the MPs without mass reselection do not support their leader. Right or wrong about a coup, the facts are on the ground.

For me that principle fact is UKIP second in Labour constituency after constituency, sitting on a tipping point that cannot be allowed to happen. As I've long predicted, a General Election must come and fast. There is no time for mass deselection of Labour MPs, which would be highly damaging and unjust, as most have good links with their own electorate.

But also needs must. Corbyn has found himself similar to but the mirror of Theresa May politically, she inward and he outward, but in his case we need a stronger pro-EU stance in all that it has offered to resist what the other lukewarm pro-EU person might want in terms of exiting, or Gove do should the one time 'never me' person get the reins of power.

Corbyn is now the wrong man to lead the opposition, regardless. But he wants to resist and go by the rule-book. Recent days have reminded me of the drama GBH. Michael Murray was then a kind of Derek Hatton, if more naive - Corbyn is none of these - but behind Murray the front man were much harder men. It turns out that the hard man, the 'intellectual', is John McDonnell MP, the Shadow Chancellor. He is the one who won't budge, who dismisses compromises, and insists on the rules. Behind him are movement/s and sometimes the mob. In GBH, part of the mob was provided by the British State, stirring it to exploit Murray, and temporarily terrorise the decent Labour Party member Jim Nelson. There is something reminiscent of Militant Tendency in the Momentum movement. You start to wonder who is running the show.



I have wondered if Corbyn is waiting for the Chilcott Enquiry on Iraq, to have a platform to call for the arrest of Tony Blair etc.. and then to withdraw. He surely doesn't need this office to do this.

Others more flexible would recognise facts on the ground. As I write the only said candidate, Angela Eagle, is delaying her challenge, because it would need a challenge if Corbyn won't step down. She is at least good in parts - the despatch box - but who knows.

The future of Britain as a successful, stable, tolerant country is at stake, and a majority of 3% on turnout is not a good basis for a seismic change in direction. There is every legitimacy for a political party to stand on the basis that the referendum was unnecessary and a gamble for party reasons, that its leave campaign was dishonest, and that after the result its claims cannot be carried out. A General Election always trumps an advisory referendum, with a manifesto that takes account of change and the basis of representative democracy. So make it clear, Liberal Democrats. The plate tectonics have shifted, and we have had the earthquake. It is different now. So, making sure it is supply and need, not coalition, you stand as a pro-EU party on that basis regarding the exit campaign, and that the Liberal Democrats will not repeal or enact legislation to activate Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. It has to be a solid promise, and not one like on ending Higher Education course loans, which was never a promise in the first place.

It could even be a dramatic reversal of the Liberal Democrats' fortunes, as dramatic in gains as the losses at the previous General Election. Say it clearly - consistent with the Liberal Democrats' position and as Liberals for many decades. I would move my vote back on this basis.

I would not expect Labour, even under renewed leadership to go this far, but the hope is it would not feel obliged to reveal the 1972 Act and pass new legislation to trigger Article 50. My problem with Jeremy Corbyn is that he would be happy to 'introduce socialism' in Europe, Britain, or England, in whatever entity over which he had power. He is not going to be too bothered about leaving the European Union. And frankly, this is not good enough.

Monday, 27 June 2016

More After the Referendum

Pub night with friends, and all agreed on one aspect at least that the stupid referendum has now led to political and economic chaos, that so many people we met on polling day and after were exit people and yet seemed to have voted in relative ignorance. At a wedding and a post-referendum conversation, the person says to my friend, 'Oh I didn't know this, and I can't like go back and vote again.' I've said of the daughter whose firm may as well relocate into the EU area now. He reckoned she may well end up living in America! We agreed too that there is only one person to blame for this: the masterless tactician David Cameron. But we disagreed too, and here is how things have moved on.

In contrast: had stay-in won, the Conservative Party would have split. We'd have retained economic certainty but politics would have been rolling around. And having come out, for now it is the Labour Party potentially splitting. If Jeremy Corbyn stands for the leadership and wins again, he will end up with a virtual second party in Parliament of Labour MPs doing their own thing.

Now I might be sympathetic to Corbyn, but I am not and here is why. In constituency after constituency, UKIP is second to Labour. If Labour cannot connect with the public, one that voted for exiting - and this takes the ability to communicate and reassure as well as principles, then there will be a tipping point of a group of UKIP MPs into Parliament leaving a rump Labour Party - Scotland all over again, but in the north.

Now I'd rather have a quarter of a loaf than a negative loaf. So, as I said to my friends, Labour needs someone who can talk (a little) nasty, who can communicate, northern too. Not another 'metropolitan' like Chuka Umunna, or some Blairite, but someone who can bite. I don't like Caroline Flint, which makes her or like her a good candidate. Someone who performs in Parliament, but more so who looks like they can handle tough and difficult matters and people.

I'd be more pro-Corbyn but he was half-hearted in the Europe campaign, and I was predicting a necessary General Election around the corner because the Referendum was never going to solve the Tory Party problem - either way in fact. This General Election is coming down the line.

A General Election trumps a Referendum. What would give our representatives (we are a representative democracy after all - not a direct democracy, and boy doesn't this referendum demonstrate why) the right to stand against this referendum is to stand for parliament on that basis of saying the referendum was wrong in conception, contradictory promises and outcome.

So plates (tectonics) shift and new realities arise. I said tonight the Liberal Democrats did what they did in the past because the "Orange Mob" took over and yes they did prop-up Cameron. (In fact they made him a functional leader, after which he became as overstretched as Anthony Eden but without the gravitas). But if they learn from their error and stand on the basis of maintaining our membership of the EU, then they give to themselves that mandate. It might attract a minority of votes but also could be a good minority and the basis of recovery. Some of us would need persuading to go back again, but times change and needs change. Politics is about responding and being relevant. One friend says the Liberal Democrats can do this because they believe in nothing: not so, because they have always been pro-European. It is hardly 'believing in nothing' to stand against a referendum result.

Pure socialism? Me a socialist? No, I said - I have always been a "social liberal", and it has a long history. I like Corbyn but I didn't vote for him and would not again for the reason that I am not Labour. One friend is considering full membership of Labour, but not the purist Socialist. Whereas - yes - I can be flexible enough to change my vote. And easily forgotten is our friends also voted in the Coalition: not that any of us intended this. We were betrayed by the Liberal Democrats.

But I'm sorry because I like Corbyn. But there isn't the time to do my friend's "get rid of the lot of them" from Parliament who he calls "Tories". To me they are not Tories at all anyway. Whatever one thinks of the legacy of the Blair years, these are actual realities. Karl Turner MP (ours) may be useless, but he's not a Tory or even Blairite, but his ditching of Corbyn is a reality on the ground. It may be a pre-discussed Benn-led coup and all that, but with a General Election soon it is still facts on the ground.

Otherwise it is a big Tory win, and UKIP nasties leaving a rump Labour Party in Britain. Yes I want rail, utilities, a bank at least, a building firm for houses, nationalised, but nationalised with a workers' co-op aspect, not the old 1940s top-down Civil Service model of running the commanding heights. I'm with Corbyn on such. But we are now in acute danger of going back to the 1970s economically - an economy based on food and shelter, of losing internationalism, of losing people-movement through Europe back and forth, of losing the core relationships with our near continent, losing economic and social liberties, and loss of the vision of sharing with those like us. The Barbarians are at the door, and they have to be countered.

The stench is also from the racists released, people who were being slowly repressed and controlled in part due to our wider European outlook, however challenging that was with such movement of people across the world. Now they are expecting the foreign to 'go home' and it is just bloody nasty stuff.

Well, I don't care how we restore matters. But in Real Politik, we go from this referendum result. We say to Johnson, Gove and Farage: "Go and negotiate then." And let's then, quite possibly, have a second referendum when you don't come up with what you promised. You can't, because what you promised was contradictory. My socialist friend says no second referendum and the other ain't so sure. I am - whatever it takes to restore sanity. So, see what they promise, set against a diminished economy of course. As Alex Salmond said, and my retailing friend knows, 'if you break it you keep it'. They broke it and it is theirs to negotiate.

And Nicola Sturgeon's brief is to deal with Scotland. The Scottish Parliament is in part devolved in the context of the European Union already. And if the Parliament does not consent, then over to the UK Supreme Court to work that one out. If the new UK right wing refuse to grant a second referendum on Independence, a Scottish Parliament could declare UDI. That would be interesting.

A new Council of the British Isles was always the best way to sort out these islands, but that would be in an EU context too: especially considering the relationship between north and south of Ireland. Again, it's independent countries but co-operating, even co-ordination: including all of Ireland! And yet we might instead see not only a customs border in Ireland again, but one between England and Scotland. Two currencies on each island as well, two borders of import tariffs. Madness. Little England (and Wales still attached) would be the worst off and Ireland in a tense condition of unsatisfactory division.

Oh and our politicians have neither the ability nor the time to unravel European legislation, European law is deep in our body politic, and absorbed in our economic and cultural life. Parliament would have to sit day and night to unravel the Europe in the British bloodstream after 40+ years. These people aren't up to the job; the Civil Service is probably unwilling and too small.

Meanwhile, this is a moving situation, very fast at such a point of change - of shaking out. We haven't heard from Osborne because he is likely to produce what he promised, which is an Emergency Budget - austerity with knobs on. Tories for exit will oppose him, and if so the markets will slide into the abyss as the government loses control.

So: Labour must sort it out and fast in that Corbyn should do the decent thing and stand down. Labour is more than you, even more than your purist principles. Liberal Democrats - make the pro-European Union stance front and back of the manifesto for the coming General Election. Act fast because as the economy plunges into uncertainty, politics will need to speed up. But best of luck with this, the political class, because you have taken on more than you can chew.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

After the Referendum: Division and Mess

People who voted for out of the EU are asking others for unity and to be less angry, to 'come together'. I even saw such sentiments in a Church of England statement via several bishops.

If only it was so easy. Well, they may not be saying it is easy. If only it was even possible. The reason why this referendum result is "stupid" is because of the mess it has left in the body politic across what will soon not be the United Kingdom, in the economic life of these islands, and in the cultural stench that has been released. Plus after 40 years EU law is interwoven with our law and to unravel it will keep Parliament busy for a very long time, probably more time than is available.

What has not been said on the media so far is this: we do not have, in these islands, the quality of politician to do the job that would make a positive result of this very divisive outcome.

The current and now outgoing Prime Minister, David Cameron, must qualify as the most reckless and ridiculous Prime Minister we have had. Some commentators have said he compares with Anthony Eden and Neville Chamberlain. The latter at least had good intentions. David Cameron was always a second class politician, a Public Relations man, a partial clone of Tony Blair by intent. All along his political career he was a fixer with, it seemed, the only ideal that the privileged should rule. He didn't have a wider vision or purpose. The referendum was no more that a way to silence his critics, and he thought an appeal to get some more votes. It was part of his otherwise negative General Election campaigning. The Conservatives set about destroying their one-time Liberal Democrat partners, who had propped them up thinking nice things about participating with other parties. Perhaps Cameron thought he wouldn't win outright and the referendum would not happen.

But when it did happen, he had to go through a pantomime of renegotiation. The gamble was to win it, overcome it, and carry on. The referendum proved so negative and divisive that, whichever side won, he was in trouble. The first speech of Nigel Farage before results came in showed that the "war" would have continued: he'd have had no majority.

His tactical gamble failed. But what he did was he gambled the whole of the UK on his tactical referendum. Would you bet your house on the basis of getting in front of a traffic queue.

Set against him is another second rate politician, Boris Johnson. He had written almost spoof articles bashing the EU for The Daily Telegraph. He has spoken in favour of continued EU membership. A few months back, he came for being out of the EU. He gambled the future of the UK in order to be a political assassin. He has succeeded. Now the assassin will present himself for Prime Minister material. He was rightly booed when he appeared as 'victor'. He is no more capable of clearing up this mess than Cameron. He won't be in control.

The situation is now division upon division. There is division between economy and culture, division between young and old, division between England and its capital, division between Scotland and England, division made between North and South of Ireland, division between the strained UK and Europe. What is more, we have had right wing politicians play the immigration card (whatever real concerns about resources) so that people, who have no idea how the EU is run because nobody would tell them, lashed out at the austerity they have undergone for so long now. Like lemmings, they have voted for a right wing whose reward to them will be even more austerity, a stripping of workers' rights, a privatising and underfunding of the NHS. Betrayed again, these underemployed and underclass look like idiots. It's not their fault - we've had no political education in schools, a political education that would have had to at least describe how the institutions of the EU work.

During the campaign it was clear that the leave camp did not know what their future out would be. Even now some are saying, given the Remain vote percentage, that they should pay for access to the Single Market and have to renege on the immigration promise. Others say they cannot renege on that promise, so they have to accept a diminished economy (and renege on economic promises).

If I was Nicola Sturgeon (and she is one of this island's more talented politicians) I'd be in Europe seeking terms of entry for an independent Scotland. Have a plan - get the currency issue sorted out and it may have to be the euro entered at a competitive rate - and have it in place for an independence referendum. The Scots have every right to hold it. At least then part of these islands will be in the EU.

The Northern Irish also deserve a referendum, even though the nationalists might lose it. The authorities must preserve the democratic process in that already and long divided place. We cannot have a leave EU government minister deciding on her own whether or not to have such a referendum. The Unionists knew what they were doing with supporting out, to make more of the border. Well that needs to be tested directly.

Even Wales, infected by the UKIP can of worms, might want an independence referendum. But even if not, the current division in the UK Parliament, so visible in the Scottish Nationalist bloc, would be sorted out by independence and then, perhaps, an intergovernmental Council of the British Isles.

And if we had that, England, a rump country left because of Cameron's gamble, might reapply to join the EU. Or not. Big industry, business, finance, would find it easier and more straightforward to locate on the continent. Our business here would be, presumably, to keep people fed, clothed and housed, and move about.

Here is where it really went wrong. Go back to 1975 and the 'in' politicians had vision. A new set of institutions, they said, that were better than the Nation State. A different ideal of shared decisions, shared interest, a people like us, so that we would be them and they us. Instead, no one offered vision against the tribal nationalists. The nationalists of the UK were able to pick up the put upon and dispossessed and exposed the deep divisions that at least the EU managed, if not as best as could be.

British influence in the EU has pushed it towards a neo-liberal ethos which, when combined with German financial control, has proved difficult and unwieldy. The dirigiste model was far more effective at managing regions and building economic and political consensus. Perhaps with us gone the EU will adapt back to what it was good at and restore hope.

One final division to consider. Some of us are not ready to put political trust back into the Liberal Democrats. Their weakness is one reason why Cameron has delivered this disaster. But they betrayed their voters, and became something other. Someone has already likened the 'Brexit' dropping of campaign promises to the Liberal Democrat deception on achieving power. So we have to look to the Labour Party. And the Labour Party is divided too.

Why? Because a load of pissed off downtrodden people joined with ideologues to give Jeremy Corbyn a mandate to lead Labour to an ethical left. Now I like Jeremy Corbyn and his ethical centre is well grounded. Indeed it was rightly said that he was where many people were regarding the EU. But just as we have a representative democracy where 76% of MPs were pro-EU, and they should know the arguments, so it is that Jeremy Corbyn just does not carry the support of his MPs.

These are desperate times because the right have won this referendum and they will set the agenda for little England. There now MUST be a Labour leader who can, perhaps, say some unpleasant things as well as have ethical intentions regarding equality and the future. If Caroline Flint, for example,wants to attack Corbyn as not reaching out, and she can talk the talk, then she should have the guts to stand for election when Corbyn's position becomes untenable. Jeremy Corbyn also ought to ask if half a loaf is better than crumbs of cake. I don't like Caroline Flint, but I can see how she might connect.

It is necessary because the coming Tory leadership change will exploit a weak Labour Party to get a majority, and then all bets are off. So we need to find talent in Labour to take on whichever second rate politician the Tories choose. We are not spoilt for choice in Labour, but someone has to take on the task for at least a term or two at the top.

Meanwhile I have signed a petition for a second referendum - at the time of doing it over 460,000 have also done so. I have signed because the mess is so profound that the quickest solution is to put a lid on it quick. The outers have already broken their promises but far worse is the utter mess that has been left. We do not have the calibre of politician, nor the means, nor the time, to sort this out.

Perhaps there is a reason why, in the past, EU countries that have referendums as part of their political process have had them twice.