The Sunday Times reports,
Jeremy Corbyn ‘would support John Bercow as unity PM’
This is some new meaning of the word “unity” not previously known to me. I do not believe I am alone in preferring the honest fanatic Jeremy Corbyn to John Bercow.
Jeremy Corbyn has privately told allies that he will step aside and allow someone else to become prime minister if Boris Johnson is forced from power.
Sources say the Labour leader has concluded that he would not win the support needed to lead a government of national unity. Corbyn has signalled to allies that he might support another candidate as long as it is not a Labour or Conservative MP.
John Bercow, a Tory MP before becoming Speaker of the House of Commons in 2009, has emerged as the Labour leader’s favoured compromise candidate after he ruled out Kenneth Clarke, the former chancellor, who was expelled from the Tories last month.
I suspect that this is a trial balloon designed to make Jeremy Corbyn look good by comparison, but if John Bercow does “emerge” his way into being Prime Minister it will make his decisions made as Speaker during the last three years look as if they were nothing but a conspiracy to gain power, a process of emergence from the shadows brought to the threshold of completion by his recent meeting with the EU’s President-of-whichever-bit-of-the-EU-he’s-president-of, David Sassoli.
The Independent‘s John Rentoul is scarcely likely to be happy at what the latest poll by Opinium says, but dutifully tweeted it anyway:
Opinium poll for Observer, Cons back to 15-pt lead:
Con 38% +2
Lab 23% -1
Lib Dem 15% -5
Brexit 12% +1
Green 4% +2
2,006 UK adults 3-4 Oct, change since last week
So after all those Remain victories in Parliament and the courts, Boris Johnson’s Tories are slightly more popular and the Liberal Democrats are significantly less popular? How can this be?
The dance of politics often looks silly, ungainly and downright improper. Compared with the antics in parliament this year, the Tory conference is mild stuff, but still …
Yesterday, I was told that the minimum wage would remain alive and well under the Tories. Today, I learn that the Tories will make 3 years in jail mean 2 years in jail instead of, as it previously had, 18 months in jail.
I’d rather 3 years meant 2 years than 18 months. As a major reform of bluLabour into a true Tory party, this strikes me as short-weight, but half-a-loaf is better than no bread. It does seem to offer scope for being outbid by the Brexit party in the law and order area with those likely to vote for either, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.
The kindest guess I can make at why tendresse is shown to the minimum wage is inspired by this paragraph in a Dominic Cumming’s Spectator article:
This was brought home to me very starkly one day. I was conducting focus groups of Conservative voters. I talked with them about immigration for 20 minutes (all focus groups now start with immigration and tend to revert to it within two minutes unless you stop them). We then moved onto the economy. After two minutes of listening I was puzzled and said – who did you vote for? Labour they all said. An admin error by the company meant that I had been talking to core Labour voters, not core Tory voters. On the subject of immigration, these working class / lower middle class people were practically indistinguishable from all the Tories and UKIP people I had been talking to.
What was it, I wonder, that caused Dominic to wonder who they voted for when these core Labour voters, who could so easily have been core Tory voters while the subject was the PC speech police or immigration or Brexit (or law and order), began talking about the economy? Could it have been the minimum wage? I fear it was.
Less than a year ago, I posted my astonishment that May’s Tory party seemed more attached to the deep state and the SW1 faction than to professing whatever it took to win the next election. I suppose it’s a step in the right direction if the Tories have now reverted to type 🙂 – but I see scope for further realignment yet. The internal and external purge of the Tory party is not over, I hope – thought it may for now be running in channels constrained by Dominic’s insight above.
In theory I ought to like Independent MPs. In practice they are often cranks. So strong is this correlation that I begin to suspect that there might be causation involved. Perhaps the bites on the neck that the party Whips administer to all MPs weekly under the pretence that it is an “old Parliamentary tradition” actually transfer a dose of sanity serum. Without that saving vampiroid saliva, the derangement to which everyone in Westminster eventually succumbs comes all the sooner.
Philip Hammond, former Conservative Chancellor and current backbench Independent Conspiracist has claimed in the Times that
… he is backed by speculators who have bet billions on a hard Brexit — and there is only one outcome that works for them: a crash-out no-deal Brexit that sends the currency tumbling and inflation soaring. So they, at least, will be reassured to see no evidence at all that his government has seriously pursued a deliverable deal; still less that it has been pursuing a deal that could get us out by October 31. The time available means that the only deal with any prospect of delivering that outcome is the deal that they have already rejected and that many of them have voted against.
There is an excellent fact-filled response to this nonsense by Frances Coppola writing in Forbes: The Mythical Bets On No-Deal Brexit.
Michael Gove’s famous or infamous quote about having “had enough of experts” has often been held up as an example of anti-intellectualism. Perhaps if Faisal Islam had spent less of the next half minute in outraged repetition of the words “Had enough of experts?” he might have heard what Gove said next about the particular experts in question having been wrong before. FullFact belatedly acknowledged that the full quote about specific experts with a bad record was a good deal less incendiary than the truncated version about experts in general, when the site made this correction:
We’ve updated this piece to source the full quote from Michael Gove. Previously it read “People in this country have had enough of experts.”
But you know what? Even the simplistic, cut-off-mid-sentence version of Gove’s quote does well enough. The referendum result demonstrated that a lot of people had had enough of anything billed as expert opinion in the field of economics, and no wonder. Predictions of equal accuracy to theirs could have been obtained from expert astrologers. Matthew Goodwin has written a piece for UnHerd that talks about why the record of economic and political experts is so dismal:
How political bias blinds us: Ideological cocoons prevent experts from seeing, and engaging with, the wider world.
When the referendum arrived in 2016, another survey of nearly 600 experts delivered a remarkably clear view. Nearly 90% expected Remain to win. Just 5% felt that Brexit was the most likely outcome. Journalists were noticeably worse: 97% predicted Remain and just 3% Brexit. And most expected Remain to win by at least 10-points. There were simply too few people willing to question and challenge the herd thinking.
“lt will take time for full realisation of this to sink into party headquarters…”
The Spectator, 21 July 1973
“The full realisation of what?” I hear you ask. Here is the context:
The Government managed to get its wretched little European Communities Bill — under which this monstrous regimen of bureaucratic Brusselsdom was statutorily but unconstitutionally allowed to assume sovereignty over us — through Parliament by arguing that the fears expressed by anti-Market MPs were groundless, and that in practical terms Britain’s entry into Europe would increase rather than decrease British control over Britain’s future. We were not, according to this glib and ignorant hypothesis, so much losing sovereignty as gaining power. Daily, the disproofs of the daft hypothesis mount.
The public knows this already. It never liked the Common Market, and now it realises that the experiment is a disastrous flop. lt will take time for full realisation of this to sink into party headquarters; it will take it even longer to sink into our most Eurofanatical MPs; it may never sink into this particular Government. But sooner or later there will be a government and a House of Commons united in their determination to restore to themselves (and thus to the people), the powers of decision foolishly and ignorantly ceded by this Government and this Parliament. The sooner such a government is in power the better, for the less difficult will be the unscrambling process. it is not, as the Labour leadership still seeks to pretend, a question of renegotiation. It is a matter of repudiation; and the first party which appeals to the country on a clear policy of repudiating the Treaty of Rome will be rewarded with office by the public whose voice will have at length been heard and heeded.
That realisation took longer – one suspects – than even The Spectator had anticipated.
Interesting that mention of “power”. That was precisely what Lord Heseltine said in an interview with Michael Portillo for a Channel 5 documentary on the EU just a few weeks ago. Did we ever get any?
Also interesting is the talk of “repudiation”. Repudiating a treaty is a big deal but it is not difficult to foresee the circumstances in which a British government might do precisely that.
Brian Micklethwait argues that no (overt) pact is needed between the Brexit Party and the Conservatives in order to get a Parliament of leavers. The Brexit Party can make the pact unilaterally:
all Brexit voters need to know who to vote for in their particular constituency, come the day, to ensure Brexit. So, the Brexit Party just needs to tell them. If the Brexit Party campaigns for Conservative Brexiters who’ll win, but for its own candidates when they are more likely to win, the Brexit Party will get its deal.
Meanwhile Boris might do well to avoid a pact:
in the event of such public collaboration, there was and is a crucial slice of Conservative but only Leave-ish voters in the affluent south who would have been put off voting Leave, and would who would now be put off voting Conservative and would switch to the LibDems
It might just work.
I read everywhere that Boris Johnson’s government is flailing and failing. They have been soundly defeated in the Commons. It looks like Boris will be forced to ask the EU for another extension, and according to the Times it has been pre-approved:
Rebel Tory MPs and opposition leaders received private assurances from European leaders that a request by parliament for a three-month Brexit extension would be granted in one last attempt to break the deadlock.
The Times understands that senior figures behind the bill to force an extension on Boris Johnson cleared their plan with EU capitals before it was published this week. They received reassurances that the European Council, which is made up of EU leaders, would not stand in the way of one final extension if it was approved by parliament.
Amber Rudd is but the latest high-profile Tory to resign the Conservative whip, to the delight of her brother Roland Rudd, the chairman of the People’s Vote campaign.
“If Parliament is unable to decide on Brexit it would be better to have a snap General Election”
-Tweet from the “Britain Elects”, quoting a poll by ComRes carried out from the 4th-6th September. It is not the only such result. The Independent‘s John Rentoul has observed,
Average of 3 polls this weekend (Survation, Opinium, YouGov)
Lib Dem 18%
Johnson threatens Brexit rebels with party expulsion
Sayeth that bastion of anti-Brexit sentiment Reuters. But what I find more interesting is this:
House of Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said any wise party would prepare for an election and that the rebel legislation would be considered a matter of confidence in the government. “It is important for the government to establish the confidence of the House of Commons and this is essentially a confidence matter: Who should control the legislative agenda, Jeremy Corbyn or Boris Johnson?” Rees-Mogg said.
As I have said before, the way to get Nigel Farage (not Jeremy Corbyn, that is a canard) in No.10 is for enough of the Château-bottled shit who make up much of the ‘Conservative’ Party to prevent Boris from delivering a clean Brexit. That is the magic ingredient which transforms Farage from a remarkable political outlier into a political kaiju who will flatten London (well, Westminster specifically). The Brexit Party exists almost exclusively to rip the two main parties apart (but particularly the Tories) if we end up with No Brexit or Brexit-in-name-only. There are enough adults in the Tory Party to have figured out that out too, meaning they understand that certain ‘Big Beasts’ like Ken Clarke and several dozen others need to be purged from the party utterly, completely, unambiguously and unapologetically, or the entire Parliamentary Tory party will be able to drive to the House in three or four black cabs after the next General Election.
They have it within their power to make the Brexit Party pretty much just go away, and they would have to be cretins not to see how to do that. Sadly, if we have learned anything in the last three years, Parliament is awash with cretins. I always used to think it was a mistake to assume my enemies were idiots, but… well, we will see.
No Deal would suit Labour for the same reason as it would suit the Conservatives: with Brexit done each of the two major parties’ main rival would lose its main selling point. If No Deal turned out badly, that would suit Labour even better. They could blame the Tories for it while still scooping up its benefits. Discuss.
I could have stopped there. But in politics, where duplicitousness is common, there is an ever-present temptation to think that it is universal and that one’s opponents are only pretending to oppose. “Relax!” says a soothing voice. “We don’t need to do anything. They secretly want us to win and will open the gates before battle begins.” Everywhere I see Remain supporters claiming that Boris Johnson, Bluffer Boris, knows full well that leaving without a deal would be a disaster and will arrange at the last moment for it to be avoided. They add that he never even expected or wanted to win the referendum in the first place; did you not see his shocked face the morning after? He just wants someone else to step in and stop it so that he can blame them for betraying Brexit while still scooping up the benefits of remaining in the EU.
Long may they believe this. By “long” I mean until 31st October 2019. But I fear that my half-belief that Jeremy Corbyn secretly wants Brexit is merely another manifestation of the same comforting delusion.