Friday, 3 May 2019

After the Local Elections in England

In the local elections the Conservatives lost over 1300 seats, Labour did not gain but lost around eighty, the Liberal Democrats put on just over 700, the Greens six short of 200 and Independents with tiny parties added over 600. The good news is that the increasingly racist UKIP went down by over 140. They have shown that people won't vote for a racist leaning party, with Islamophobia rife. This must be the good news.

So the socialist revolution will have to wait. The fact is that Jeremy Corbyn and the leadership of Labour remain a liability. The attachment of remainers to the Labour cause, with those blue European Union flags at Labour rallies in the 2017 General Election, the attraction of the young, seem to have faded away. I understand that even Tony Robinson has left the Labour Party, some time on the National Executive Committee.

I'm pleased that the Conservatives have, in the end, had a drubbing. They deserve it for utter incompetence, for political drift beyond the EU mess, and continued austerity and poverty happening to children. They gambled the country to save their party, and the party should split.

The Coalition may have gone on too long and had net negative effects, but compared with today its standard of government - actual cabinet government as well - was a model of proper interaction between ministers and with civil servants.

Perhaps now the one positive that the Liberal Democrats took from the Coalition was competence. And the rest of the legacy is fading. The clarity of the Liberal Democrat message was very helpful. They and the Greens picked up votes for remain, the Greens being the radical wing of politics, close to Corbyn in some senses but not Statist.

However, there could be a perverse outcome to the success of the remainer vote. It is that Labour sees the need to get the poison of 'Brexit' out of the way and cook up a back-room deal. The reason they won't is if they are seen to deliver a Tory Brexit, or facilitate a change of Tory leader to an extreme leaver who throws away the political declaration that would be more Labour.

Remember that the Tory government had a long Political Cabinet before a long Government Cabinet and when, afterwards, Labour was invited into talks, none of the Cabinet split. The reason was, surely, that this spread the blame to Labour. As a former member said when chatting to me soon after, this was a damned if you don't damned if you do move. Labour's response that it was trying to bring the country together didn't transmit to positive reception.

Next up are the European Parliament elections, and it now seems that UKIP will be of little challenge to Farage's Brexit Party. But Change UK could well take votes from the Liberal Democrats and Greens. However, those who get there first, like the Liberal Democrats, get the benefit. Chris Leslie for Change UK, saying that the Liberal Democrats have baggage, ignores the fact that Change UK has MPs full of baggage since 2017. As in the local elections, in the European Parliament elections I shall vote Liberal Democrat if given the choice. I'd vote Change UK if in alliance.

However, on one point I don't agree. I don't believe in having a second referendum. I can see the need for it if there is a back-room deal. Labour cannot stitch us up with the Tories. But, say, if in an imagined world the Liberal Democrats won a General Election, does anyone think they'd hold a referendum to reverse the previous one? Of course not. Winning government would be the referendum. The narrative has to be that the 2016 referendum was advisory, bogus and involved lies and even possible criminality. If you don't like staying in the EU, then win power. This is how to do it, and this is said without denying it still makes British politics in a very difficult place. We are best in and the extensions should turn into revoke. In the end we are either in or we are out, and I will vote for in, and for an ever closer European confederation, with the UK at its heart.

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