Saturday 23 February 2019

The Coup is On

My long predicted coup is on. After a week in which eight Labour MPs formed and joined the Independent Group, and three Conservatives then joined it, three Cabinet Ministers have written in a newspaper to signal that they will vote to give Parliament control and thus extend Article 50 if the Prime Minister has no deal to present to Parliament. There is also the possibility that the Prime Minister will receive a positive vote if she accepts putting it to a second referendum.

However, it is not clear that there will be anything to vote on in terms of a revised deal.The so-called Malthouse Compromise is dead in the water, and the issue remains the withdrawal agreement backstop - which the Brady Amendment a fortnight ago said should be replaced and now is only subject to legal reinterpretation, if that.

The Prime Minister with nothing (much) to report may well try to delay again, but really time is up for this - surely because there is no indication that there is any deal forthcoming beyond the one which she approved of more that two weeks ago. This means that in the face of this hapless Prime Minister MPs must now act regardless of a revised deal or not being presented.

It hardly needs to be said that it is unprecedented that Cabinet Ministers should signal their intention to vote in a contrary fashion to the Prime Minister, but then this is a national crisis of potential self-harm that must be prevented.

The route of the coup is via Parliament, whereas my prediction was executive action. If the three ministers, Rudd, Gauke and Clark, vote against the government, they may well then resign and the government could effectively collapse. If instead they tell May to sack them if she dare, this could be where the executive action takes over: the Prime Minister in office but no longer in power. Her tin ear and rigidity is finally too much. This is something she shares with Corbyn, and his inabilities to run his office effectively (never mind the loss of confidence over anti-semitism) makes him unfit for such high office. But this also applies to Theresa May: we've learnt about her in office that she simply is not up to the job. She talks but does not act, she is rigid, deaf to others, and leaves the body politic frustrated and weak.

It is not right that a person holding cards of such low value should be allowed to hold up the game. She has got to be overrun or forced out. We have Cabinet government and all that is needed is command of the House of Commons. There is no need for a leadership election for government to function.

The whole leaving the EU politics is breaking our body politic, especially in the hands of a Prime Minister who is out of her depth. The task is beyond her, and as she freezes in the face of the headlights he political parties are being shaken into their divisions. She has to go, and for the good of Labour and its prospects, Corbyn has to go, and also for the chance that the Liberal Democrats may revive, Vince Cable has to go - he is authentic, thoughtful, and capable, but he has a legacy and does not inspire.

So, the coup is on, and next week shall either be decisive or - well - the mess will shake the parties and the sense of frustration even more, with surely mass purposeful defections from the Conservative Party: 1846 all over again.

Monday 18 February 2019

Labour Split: a Surprise and Due to Internal Incompetence

I am surprised at this stage that there has been a small Labour split. The split for Labour, following the 'leave' majority in the referendum, came first, and I expected a Tory split now. There is an effective split in the Tory Party, but it surely will split if there is a no deal exit from the European Union. The split is really a result of continuous Labour leadership incompetence. One remembers how John Smith and Tony Blair undermined the Tory government in their day and set their party up to govern; this shower fail week after week to land a blow on such a shambolic government and now seem to be offering the government a way to leave the European Union not much different from the government's own.

While the various 'remainer' MPs from different parties have worked together, it would be a big move to find several Tory MPs now joining Chuka Umunna and company at this stage. There may be other Labour MPs joining first, especially if Corbyn carries on in his usual moribund way of ignoring everyone except a small clique of people like him, plus the struggling Keir Starmer.

I am still expecting we get to a point where political forces, in the form of a Cabinet coup, revoke Article 50. Everything is pointing in this direction, a very binary crash out versus the revoke option.

The government is chaotic, trying to force people into its cul-de-sac and then try to force them to help it out by passing the dog's breakfast of a partial subservient attachment to the EU. It isn't going to happen, because the far right of the Tory Party have this blue-eyed mist that wants to send the country over the cliff edge. Cameron's gamble to hold his party together at the risk of the country has resulted in neither winning the bet. The country is going into a period of self-harm and the Tory Party will split.

One suspects Corbyn and company rather like leaving the EU because it will give them the opportunity to launch a socialist wonderworld - well, the MPs won't buy it. The result of the seven leaving is to constrain the next manifesto. Labour is likely to be conflicted for a long time.

It is not clear what the seven will do. Likely they will just be coherent among themselves, but there was a call to join them and from other places than Labour. The Social Democratic Party was launched in the 1980s with big beasts of politics, whereas the seven are capable politicians among a third rate selection. Look at the present Tory government, from an incompetent Prime Minister to a whole bunch of unlikely Secretaries of State. Few have any gravitas. We have Chris Grayling making everything he touches into rubbish, and a Home Secretary who likes to beat his chest when international law says otherwise. Labour is run by people who are very unimpressive, giving every impression of being no good in government - and also no sense that they are ever going to get elected to government, unless in a minority administration at very best.

The crunch is coming. Cabinet ministers may resign to vote in favour of Parliament grabbing the reins over the EU crisis. Alternatively, they may say enough is enough, and remove Theresa May and take power to stop the big time self-harm that is so close now.

Some think a referendum might legitimise staying in the EU. I see nothing but problems with it: the questions to ask, the division reopened, the loss of control over the central questions and invasion of other issues,  the stupidity of campaigns and mutual accusations. It is Parliament's job first to say that the 2016 referendum was illegitimate and secondly to keep us where we should be, inside the European Union and contributing to its decision making.