Making doubly sure Leave cannot win

It was always clear that the “credible Leave option” that the Labour party proposes to pit against Remain in a second referendum is a fake. The plan is for Sir Keir Starmer and Emily Thornberry to get together with their EU opposite numbers and, after the least arduous negotiations imaginable, to emerge beaming with a “deal” deliberately designed to be as unattractive as possible.

But if that wasn’t enough, the Labour manifesto plans to make assurance doubly sure, as Macbeth said when deciding to murder Macduff. I quote:

We will oversee the largest extension of the franchise in generations, reducing the voting age to 16, giving full voting rights to all UK residents, making sure everyone who is entitled to vote can do so by introducing a system of automatic voter registration, and abandoning plans to introduce voter ID which has been shown to harm democratic rights.

“It’s time for real change – The Labour Party Manifesto 2019”

The innocuous phrase “all UK residents” includes non-UK citizens from any country. As it says elsewhere in the manifesto, there are three million EU residents in the UK. They will get to vote on whether the UK remains in the EU. The majority by which Leave won the 2016 referendum was 1.3 million.

I am not going to vote Tory

When people tell me “you must vote for Boris’ party or we will never get Brexit” I usually respond with “Because you trust & believe a Tory leader to actually do what he says & are willing to just hand-wave the last 3 years away?”

Well the Tories may be the only game in town in some areas, but decades of voting for the lesser evil is how we ended up with a ‘Conservative’ Party that isn’t conservative. If I thought Boris was actually serious about meaningful Brexit, I might hold my nose and vote Tory one last time. But if ‘No Deal’ really isn’t an option even now, I just don’t believe anything Boris says about truly wanting out of the EU.

Do I want to risk Corbyn getting in? I would rather he doesn’t but I am done voting Tory on the basis they are a slower acting poison than the alternative.

Three and a half shower thoughts

1) I am beginning to think that the best strategy for the Leave side would be for the Brexit Party and the Conservatives to make no official pact, and to continue to denounce each other vigorously, but to make a de facto pact in terms of which seats receive money and campaign volunteers from the two parties.

(EDIT 12:30, 11 Nov 2019: Whether or not that would have been the best strategy, it is now off the cards. Guido Fawkes reports, Brexit Party will Stand Down in 317 Seats the Tories Won in 2017)

2) In an effort to correct for the errors of their disastrous 2017 campaign, the Conservatives are deliberately holding back their main effort until later. This may be an overcorrection, but we’ll see. Expect the fireworks to start after the launch of the Labour manifesto. (The Conservatives’ own manifesto will be as short and uncontroversial – for which read fiscally incontinent – as possible.)

3) Talking of which, the line over which the campaign will be fought will be the words from the 2017 Labour manifesto that may or may not appear in the 2019 Labour manifesto: “Freedom of movement will end when we leave the European Union.” If these guys were to get their way the election result would be a Tory landslide. But Labour’s instinct to fudge will probably prevail.

3.5) It is sad to note that if I am right, both (2) and (3) require the Conservatives to move in an anti-Libertarian direction in order to win.

The terrible cost of political realignment

£22k!

The Manchester Evening News reports:

A Parliamentary candidate who could lose out on £22,000 in taxpayer cash if she is not elected to a Trafford seat next month says it could leave her unable to pay her mortgage.

A leaked letter revealed MP Angela Smith, who is standing as the Lib Dem candidate in Altrincham and Sale West, has appealed for a change in government rules.

She could lose out on the cash if she’s unsuccessful at the General Election on December 12. She says she is ‘fighting for fairness in how MPs are treated’.

Ms Smith, who ‘hates injustice’, described her ‘horror’ at the thought of missing out on the money.

She previously served as MP for Sheffield Hillsborough, from 2005 to 2010.

Ms Smith is currently MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge, having been elected to the seat in 2010.

She quit the Labour Party in February alongside six other MPs. They formed The Independent Group, later renamed Change UK.

Government rules state that if an MP loses their seat, they are paid two month’s salary in a ‘loss of office’ payment.

The cash gives former MPs time to find alternative employment and adjust to life outside Parliament.

But, because Ms Smith is standing in a different constituency to the one she currently servces, she would not be entitled to the money if she is not elected in Altrincham and Sale West.

Martin Howe on the Boris deal

Is Boris Johnson’s deal with the EU BRexit In Name Only? What kind of exit from the EU will a Tory party with an overall majority deliver? Important questions for anyone struggling to decide whether to vote Conservative to just leave already, or vote Brexit Party to send a message that we want as much Brexit as possible.

Martin Howe is a Queen’s Counsel and so likely to understand the deal as well as anyone. He was against Theresa May’s deal because it bound the UK into a transition period (backstop) until the EU decided otherwise. He is in favour of Boris Johnson’s deal.

According to him, the deal looks a lot better than I had previously thought:

it foreshadows a Free Trade Agreement under which the UK will be able to operate its independent trade policy, instead of the UK being locked into the EU’s external customs tariffs…references in the PD to the UK aligning its rules to EU rules have been deleted…commitment to shadow the EU rules on competition and state aids in Theresa May’s WA has been replaced with a more open ended commitment not to distort competition [similar to that seen in most FTAs, according to the Telegraph version of the article]…explicitly making clear the right of the UK to determine how it would respond to any invitation by the EU to participate in joint action in the defence field

None of these things you would learn from reading comments on Guido…

Howe is honest enough to detail the bad stuff.

the long term subjection of the UK to rulings by the ECJ…the so-called transition period [during which] the UK would be subject to all EU laws, both those that exist now and those that are brought in during that period…financial obligations on the UK which go well beyond the UK’s obligations under international law

Overall, Howe thinks this is much better than Theresa May’s unacceptable deal, is not BRINO, but is worse than leaving with no deal. The question then becomes: is it still possible to leave with no deal?

This is not the realignment you are looking for

Via Guido, a report from the Resolution Foundation (“an independent think-tank focused on improving the living standards for those on low to middle incomes”):

The report finds that a new consensus has developed relating to the size of the state: namely that it should be bigger. Ahead of the publication of the election manifestos, we speculate as what that expansion might look like by using what the two major parties have said about their ambitions to date to model some illustrative scenarios. Those scenarios suggest that the UK public finances are heading back to 1970s levels over the coming years – whoever wins the election.

The report is a little light on hard evidence. It cites the Chancellor’s already announced £15.5bn Whitehall spending round boost until 2021; his £100bn infrastructure promises; and it makes claims based on “the main parties’ pre-election stances”. There is also a reference to the Chancellor’s speech of which the “clear implication was that he hoped to increase spending further still in the coming years” — a speech in which he also mentioned the need for low taxes and fiscal responsibility, so much was it trying to be all things to all people.

Meanwhile the Tories talk of cuts to national insurance, but nothing yet about income tax, VAT or corporation tax.

Nevertheless I am increasingly worried that the choices on Brexit might be between variations on Brexit In Name Only, and the choices on the rest of politics between left and far left; between a bigger state and Marxism.

Workington Agonistes

“Workington” sounds like a name made up for a novel. But it is a real place, a small town in Cumbria that used to have a coal mine and now has the questionable fortune to have become for the 2019 election what Basildon was in 1992 or Nuneaton was in 2015.

Damian Lyons Lowe of the polling company Survation tweets,

On behalf of Simon Walters at Daily Mail, we have polled the seat many in the media have described as a “must win” in this election as an indicator for Conservative fortunes in parts of the north of England – Workington in Cumbria.

The results were: Conservatives 45% (+3), Labour 34% (-17), Brexit Party 13% (+13), Liberal Democrats 5% (-2), Green Party 2% (+2). The figures in brackets are changes since the 2017 general election.

It is only one poll, but the results indicate that, as suggested in the previous post, the Brexit party running in most or all seats may not harm the Conservatives as much as it would seem at first sight. In fact the presence of the Brexit Party in the contest could indirectly benefit the Conservatives by taking more votes from Labour than from them.

Interesting as the electoral horse race always is, let us not forget that this (potential) change in voting patterns is also a change in how people see themselves.

The Daily Mail produced this graphic of some of the questions asked in the Survation poll. Take a look at the answers to Q5:

Regardless of your current voting intention, if you change your mind before Dec 12, which other party would you consider voting for?

We see the old certitudes dissolve before our eyes.

Or maybe we don’t. Never forget that for the first few days after Theresa May called the election in 2017 that ended with her losing her majority, her already high polling figures rose yet further. Nor did the Tory vote share ever drop very far during the entire campaign – the trouble was, Labour’s rose sharply.