Sunday, 16 December 2018

The Strategy of a Cabinet Coup

So what happened was that Sir Graham Brady rushed the vote of confidence in Theresa May. By this method, and her saying she won't lead the Tories into a 2022 General Election, she stopped a vote of some 140 against her and clipped it to 117, a slight majority of those not on the government payroll.

The very next day she went to Brussels and failed to get any legal clarification to the backstop for the border issue in the island of Ireland. She went from a 'win' to pathetic in a day, and now seems to be playing for time.

It's like having a player with 2s and 3s in cards, but who also decides when the cards are played. As soon as another player is about to put down the winning hand against her, she pulls the game. We think she is delaying, but she did say the meaningful vote was 2016 and the important date is the date we leave. So she might be damning the country in a kind of personal madness. Whatever, she is engaging in Kamikaze politics.

But all this just goes back to what I have been suggesting here, and still no one seems to be saying this in the broader media. It is that the Cabinet has to remove her, via people who have not descended to May's brittle bunker mentality. It will be bloody, in the sense that someone must take over, many must walk out, and people from other parties come in, and start acting to produce legislation. The principal act has to be to pull out of Article 50, either to buy time or stop the thing altogether.

If you don't like it, there'll soon be a chance to get elected to change it. Because the Cabinet coup is for one purpose and one purpose only: to prevent a hard exit. It can look for any consensus in Parliament. If not, ram on the brakes. The days of constantly doing the Conservative Party Shuffle has to end; the party is pretty much bust anyway. The minority of Tories must be circumvented, isolated, forced to scream blue murder: but these are choices that have to be made. Not to have a hard exit means precisely that, and decisions must be taken.

The probable truth is that Norway plus could be quick but has similar disadvantages to the Theresa May deal, although without a never-ending legal trap. The reality is that with the brake off and a Cabinet decision to stay, politics can resume afterwards.

We might say, well, parties will form and reform and pressure will exist about being 'cheated' and the like, but at least this can happen without the cliff edge. Let's just see. My own view is that if Article 50 is withdrawn there will be a sigh of relief and many opposers will be fed up to do anything. They may come back later. The likely reality is that this has been Suez with knobs on, and what follows rescinding Article 50 is a country that will realise its lack of power, its stupidity over these past years, and that it will sit in the corner and lick its wounds.

All another referendum does, if you can find a question set that does not look like cheating, is generate more division. Instead, representative democracy has to face the coming punching from the electorate, so it won't be easy, but it will be reflective. Perhaps if the Tory Party collapsed before and after a General Election, it would never be able to gamble the country against its internal divisions again.

It doesn't follow that 'an extreme left wing government' will form, because in the reorganisation of parties and tendencies, many of those Labour MPs of now who will be re-elected will hold it in check. Nothing will be the same again. To me, Labour has been and still is as much in fantasy land regarding renegotiations and time left as are many Tories, except that it has not inflicted the same level of damage. The likelihood is a time in recovery of the patient post General Election, when there comes a coalition of factions of parties bigger than the parties themselves: so that the Cabinet post election may well be drawn from various parts. Eventually the political ship will come back together again from the wreckage.

But, meanwhile, Mrs May has to be removed, the Cabinet should shake itself out, become coherent to itself across the parties, and take out Article 50.

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