Wednesday 30 October 2019

So It's on the Twelfth of December

So we have a General Election, made possible by the Liberal Democrats and Scottish National Party joining hands and writing to Donald Tusk, outgoing President of the European Council, so that we achieved the full 'Benn Act' extension to January 31st 2020. In the end, however, their December 9th would not carry. Johnson restored ten of his own party dissidents, his majority therefore dropping from -45 to -25, although John Mann (Labour, who often voted with Johnson) was off to the House of Lords to do a Theresa May job.

Labour will use its 'neutralise' Brexit policy (of a deal involving the Single Market and Customs Union, with a second referendum with remain on the ballot paper) as a means to talk about other things. It could well drive the General Election agenda with a range of policies.

Many Labour MPs disliked the gamble: a few voted against (e.g. David Lammy, very pro-EU) but many abstained (e.g. Jess Phillips, angered and sympathetic when Luciana Berger left Labour, and my own MP Karl Turner at Hull East). 127 Labour MPs voted for an election, 11 voted against, and 106 abstained. Indeed, the huge majority in the House of Commons - 438 votes to 20 - disguises the high number of abstentions. This included the SNP (one against) and Lib Dems (all, including Luciana Berger) on the basis of the unwanted later date. The Independent Group for Change wanted no change and three out of five voted against. Some ex-Tories not restored voted to abstain (e.g. Justine Greening, unfortunately leaving politics, Ken Clarke, retiring, and Oliver Letwin).

For other policies, the Tories have a largely incredible reversal to their long austerity, and why should we trust any of its spending intentions once a General Election is done? Why, indeed, trust Johnson on anything?

This is why it is important for the Liberal Democrats to have a range of policies, as well as the simplicity of revoke: only if the swings were so enormous in seats that they won a majority. Otherwise it will be second referendum time on some deal: May's, Johnson's, Labour's with a push for remain.

Presumably the Brexit Party will show its colours with a manifesto, but it spans a wide range of supporters - yet it's a one man love-in really and like all charismatic parties depends hugely on the one person leader. He is a right-winger and a Trump associate.

Scotland and Northern Ireland have predictable trajectories for voting, but England and Wales suffers from four parties per constituency, meaning that low percentages can win outright and a small vote for one party squeezes take away another's win. In terms of the whole, it's like throwing dice in the air and seeing what happens. The system doesn't work. Most votes are wasted. The more people vote tactically, the fewer the votes wasted.

1 comment:

Janet Briggs said...

We need to move to Proportional Representation, to give everyone's vote a chance of being represented. As it is with first-Past-the-Post, only votes cast for the two biggest parties, which will form the Government and Opposition really count. If all shades of opinion could get attention, a new, modern, in-the-round parliament building would be needed - with room for everyone to sit down!