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Prime Time
05-11-2018, 04:57 AM
Starting this up again.

It's a pretty decent week to be a Lib Dem if you have a sense of irony. Many of the Brexiters who are complaining about the House of Lords decision on Brexit voted against the Lib Dem moves to reform the second chamber. There's a kind of poetic justice to that.

And just today, the Electoral Commission have referred the chief executive of Vote Leave to the police for breaking electoral law.

Samuel 'Plan
05-12-2018, 04:27 AM
Hadn't considered that poetic justice, Prime, but gosh does it put a smile on my face. I've taken a weird sense of pride seeing our own democracy in action working to dilute the government's hard-headed arrogance on the Brexit issue. Hope it continues.

The Open Britain campaign were advertising a poll the other day showing a huge preference among the public for a vote on the deal. I know polls are hit and miss, but it lifted my spirits a little I must confess. I wonder, is there a slow shift in opinion happening now more and more details are becoming a reality and not just a cynic's warning?

On another front, didn't like what I read yesterday about the government wanting more grammar and faith schools; the latter being run by volunteers.

05-12-2018, 07:32 AM
Bah. As a discontented Labour Party Member there’s very little I can say at the moment. The conference is going to be fun this year! All backstabbing and depression resumed. I think most of us have come to the realisation we’re actually just a bit shit and lazy at the moment. The Tories are getting an easy ride as Labour just don’t seem to have a meaningful voice. A lot of that lies with the leader.

05-13-2018, 04:58 AM
At this point, I have a theory that Jeremy Corbyn is being paid off by the Conservatives to purposely be as ineffective as possible. How can you possibly take this Tory government and not turn it into a red and yellow landslide at the council elections?!

Prime Time
05-15-2018, 07:06 AM
There's a feeling out there for sure that Corbyn is only a really good leader when there's a campaign to fight. He's a terrific campaigner to be fair, and we did see him absolutely come to life in the election campaign of 2017. Honestly, if it'd run a week longer he might have been Prime Minister. But since then? He's fallen back into the old habit of being rather ineffectual. The polls swung back towards the Tories a few weeks ago and, though they are still at a point where you'd suggest they were unlikely to be able to hold onto the DUP coalition if an election were called tomorrow, they'll be pleased just to have already fought back to the driving seat.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Parliament are likely to vote to withhold their consent to the EU Withdrawal bill. It's a huge moment in one key respect, because although the UK government probably railroad it through over their objections anyway the likelihood is that it'll be a rallying cry for Scottish nationalism for generations to come. It'd also be the first time that MSP's ever withheld consent, so for that to happen and the UK government to do it anyway... it's history, whichever way you want to slice it.

Oh, and just in the background it sounds like the cabinet are no closer to agreeing on a Brexit plan. Something I read the other day suggested that the DUP are actively starting to shit themselves that the position they've insisted on so far could prove to be untenable and they're now reaping the fruits of it crashing around their ears.

05-15-2018, 08:56 AM
I find it kind of remarkable that we're 9/10 months out from the actual day of leaving and none of the people leading our talks with the EU actually know what the fuck they want. It's ridiculous, it really is. If May was any Prime Minister worth her salt she'd put her foot down and make a decision herself. Unfortunately, she wants to put as many people in front of the Government's mistakes as possible so she doesn't have to take a bullet.

I'm really enjoying the amount of pro-Leave people I'm seeing suddenly start insisting that we should have a second referendum if we stay in the custom's union. Having insisted that the result of the first one was final, there shouldn't be another one, etc etc, for months on end, all of a sudden they're not looking like getting their way and backing a second vote.

Honestly, the whole thing is a shambles, from the very first decision to hold the referendum by Cameron, through the remain side not having anything coherent and active to say about the benefits of membership during the campaign, to Cameron abandoning being PM the moment he didn't get his way, to May rushing to invoke Article 50 when she didn't even have an established plan of how to deal with the issues.

I mean, I voted remain because you don't fix a broken EU system without actually being a part of it. Plus, it w\as basically impossible to vote for leave given all the dirty tactics used by them, in pretty much broad daylight. But I think we could have made a good go of leaving the EU if some people just put their own interests aside and acted for the good of the country.

Prime Time
05-15-2018, 09:01 AM
I'm still not sure we could. I still don't think it was thought through and I don't actually see an answer that people would find acceptable to things like Northern Ireland, free movement, all that jazz, that's compatible with leaving.

It's an interesting question, though, whether going the whole hog and just cutting ties and letting the chips fall where they may, would be better than all this umming and aahing, though there is always the lingering threat of violence in NI if that situation isn't handled particularly well.

For the love of Terry Funk
06-01-2018, 07:28 PM
So apparently Farage said on his radio show today something along the lines of 'I never said we'd be financially better off outside the EU, just that we'd have control back...'

Pretty sure I heard him say we'd be better off a few times, lying turd that he is.

Prime Time
06-05-2018, 07:03 AM
Good lord, that's shockingly brazen. I'm sure it wouldn't take long to dig up some proof of him saying the EU was holding us back.

The breaking news is that the Republic of Ireland's abortion referendum is having a knock-on effect on what our government is doing with regards to Northern Ireland, which might in turn have a knock-on effect on the loose coalition between the Tories and the DUP. Sounds like there might well be a completely free vote on bringing NI in line with the rest of the UK, though we'll have to see.

Prime Time
06-12-2018, 01:13 PM
I don't know how true it is but I saw it suggested that with the concessions today the no-deal Hard Brexit is dead.

Prime Time
06-17-2018, 06:44 AM
This thread hasn't got going the way the last iteration did... Oh well. Sounds like we may have a new Pm in a few months, that'll liven things up...

06-17-2018, 07:42 AM
I’ll be active again one day. Looks like we might legalise cannabis which I think, in medical senses, I’m all in favour of.

06-17-2018, 05:01 PM
Count me in as a person interested in politics, but very much inexperienced in terms of knowledge of the whole damn thing. I was much more interested 10 or so years ago, but it's hard to be so now when everyone and every party is just so... unlikable.

I'm a Labour supporter generally speaking, but I do analyse each election on it's merits and policies. Which led me to vote Lib Dem this last election. Put simply, I fail to envision Corbyn in charge of this country, and am downright scared if he was ever to become Prime Minister. Not the party, but the leader, makes me feel that way.

Theresa May, while again also unlikable and comes across as simply not fit for the job, has been snake bitten from the get go. Most of this stems from Brexit obviously and Cameron's massive blunder. What we're left with is two parties with terrible leaders, 2 or 3 more that will likely never be at that level of popularity and even more extreme parties.

I pay attention more to US politics now than the UK. It's way more entertaining and it mostly doesn't affect me.

The Dude
06-18-2018, 05:47 PM
I heard Universal Credit was condemned by someone important but can't remember who. It was the main story of The Guardian apparently.

I'm glad I haven't been switched to that yet, but probably will be soon.

Prime Time
06-27-2018, 09:31 AM
I get that Corbyn doesn't really inspire confidence. Then again, neither does May, and neither did Cameron, and to be honest things sort of ticked along OK for the most part and we've had the major disasters anyway. Hard to imagine how things could get any worse, short of his declaring war on the US or something.

The Brexit rebellion never really materialised in any real sense. Both sides have left claiming victory. This is just going to rumble on and on I think until it all collapses in a shit heap. Interesting development has been that the comments from Airbus et al haven't been where it stopped, but we've got a very rare sighting of a joint statement between the business community and the trades unions both warning about a no deal Brexit. Not often you see employers and workers on the same side. There's also warnings and demands from the finance watchdog and British Medical Association respectively.

The whole thing is basically an absolute shit-shower. In the meantime Liz Truss is throwing shade at her cabinet colleagues publicly, and Boris Johnson is being ignored by the 'other side' in the government, while the leader of the Welsh Tories has stood down (for unspecified reasons but some say it's to do with Brexit). So at least they aren't losing their heads about the whole thing.

Following on from Gooner's comment above, this would be fascinating to watch if it didn't actually affect us all.

Prime Time
07-16-2018, 05:57 AM
Nothing in here about the Chequers deal, huh? Or about Greening calling for a second referendum today?

I guess everyone is just hunkering down and waiting for it all to be over...

07-16-2018, 07:51 AM
Pretty much. I'm fed up with it all now. It's basically a massive caber waiting to fall over, but there's still so many people on every side pushing against each other that the thing doesn't have chance to fall in any particular direction.

At this point, I'm fairly sure that May's going to remain in charge and will get the whole thing sorted. We'll all get a mediocre deal that leaves us half-in and half-out and we'll all be far more bogged down with bureaucracy than we ever were before. Fun times ahead.

07-17-2018, 07:43 AM
From what I read, and I've not been super engaged with it as much as I once was, the concessions made by May yesterday in effect neuter her own Chequers agreement. Which I would believe couldn't possibly be true if I thought she had anything resembling a spine.

The truly remarkable thing in all of this, rebellions or otherwise, is that she damaged her own position by calling an election and then failing to actually win the thing. She's so damaged by not having a majority that now she has to desperately try and keep all of her party happy, and it's a tightrope she's not really successfully walking.

07-17-2018, 10:15 AM
She's successful at walking that tightrope until she falls off and they put someone else in charge. And I honestly think she'll just keep going. Of course, we'll stare and point in delight while she wobbles violently at least once a week from now until June 2022, but she'll absolutely make it. See, the thing about not having a spine is that you have no scruples with regards to the people that have no power over you. So she'll make concessions left and right, and I feel that there's not quite enough people on any particular side to care quite enough to do anything about it if she keeps caving into demands like this.

Prime Time
07-17-2018, 10:27 AM
Interesting reading, Sheep. My take on it is that it's not that people don't care. It's that no one wants the job. Running the Tories now would be a fool's errand, with no majority and a firm split in the party about whether or not we should be in the EU at all. There are around 60 hardline Brexiters, and around 20 hardline remainers, both of which are enough to remove the majority. But there'd be a lot more 'hardliners' if they swung to a 'hard Brexit' position under a Rees-Mogg or Johnson, so neither of them actually want to be the guy who fucks it up.

Once the chips fall one way or the other, I think she's done. And if it reaches a point where people think their side has more to lose than gain by keeping her in power, she's done. But right now everyone seems to just want to stay on the sidelines and keep their powder dry for the right moment, rather than topple her and upset the balance.

07-25-2018, 10:07 AM
In fairness, if you were as calculating as Johnson, Rees-Mogg, and anybody else, you'd be looking at the UK leaving the EU and thinking 'Christ, this is a shit show, if I end up leader while this is going on I'm not going to be there for very long'.

They'll likely much rather take control after we've left and be seen as the 'saviour' of the nation, salvaging us from the economic despair or whatever happens after we leave.

Prime Time
07-30-2018, 04:55 AM
Oh yeah, absolutely. No one wants to be the one who actually gets tarred with the brush of being the one in control. We do have pretty short attention spans sometimes and only remember who was in the hot-seat when the shit went down, rather than the things that cause it. It's why Reagan and Thatcher don't get their share of the blame for the financial crash in 2008, even though it was decades in the making.

Sounds like the recommendation is for an ID card scheme after Brexit, like the one they have in Germany and like the one that Blair wanted to bring in that attracted so much condemnation at the time.

The upshot of the Chequers no-deal is also that Labour have found themselves back in the lead for the first time since February. They still aren't all that popular and are way below their surge following the election but the Tories popularity has plummeted. I also saw a poll that said if the referendum were run tomorrow it'd go something like 54-46 on a no-deal, and the theory is that if the pro-Brexit starts polling at around 40% or less that a lot of the moderate Tories will break ranks. I'm wondering if the stuff about food that is coming out now might mean there's a very different environment when Parliament resumes after the summer break.

Edit: And just on the above, once the don't knows and undecideds are removed a Sky Poll now has leaving in a no-deal situation polling at 41%. Support is collapsing.

Prime Time
09-12-2018, 09:40 AM
So it's been quiet in here and given the depressing state of UK politics I can't say I blame anyone for that. But thought it was worth stopping by since it sounds like the hardline Brexiters are now openly briefing against the Prime Minister and there's talk about an imminent leadership challenge. Could be that they're now either going to move or miss their shot.

Samuel 'Plan
09-29-2018, 05:08 AM
What do we think of the current state of affairs then?

European leaders rejected Chequers pretty much outright. Is that a legitimate stance or a negotiating tactic? Probably a mix of both I imagine, but doesn't seem to help May much does it? Johnson published an alternative plan editorial, not that it had much in the way of any substance - easy to make promises when you're not the one to have to action them. But if a leadership challenge is looming, does he intend on pursuing them? Is he making false promises so blame can be placed on the EU when we crash out with no deal? I fear more and more that's going to happen.

And then there's what's happening with Labour. The leadership have opened themselves up to supporting a people's vote I do believe, and am I right in thinking they've also said they're keeping the option of remaining on the table too?

It gives me a headache. Can't we just rewind the clock and convince David Cameron out of ever promising this circus in the first damn place?

09-29-2018, 09:19 AM
We have 3 utterly unelectable parties at the forefront. No alternatives that are viable and we’re becoming a laughing stock over Brexit. The rich get richer, poor get poorer and Bojo looks like the next leader of our country.

It’s a mess.

Prime Time
10-04-2018, 05:16 AM
.... and apparetly all you need is a bit of a robotic dance to ABBA to make people forget that Boris is just waiting for the right moment to stick the knife into your back.

10-29-2018, 02:43 AM
How is May surviving with the shambles around her? It seems to be purely because of the utter ineptitude of her opposition. It’s utter madness! I actually miss the competence of a Blair or a Cameron right now.

10-29-2018, 05:15 AM
It's that plus there's no one in her own party capable of standing up without being ridiculed.

In an alternative universe, David Miliband is currently through his third term with no perception of Brexit and UKIP died a quick death years ago....

10-29-2018, 05:39 PM
I loved David Milliband so that sounds like heaven. Especially in comparison to the reality. I never thought I’d miss Clegg and Cameron.

Prime Time
10-29-2018, 05:59 PM
Cameron was honestly no more competent than May. He was just better at giving the illusion that he was. Important to remember that the main reasons May seems to be struggling so badly were all caused by Cameron and were all self-inflicted wounds.

But yeah, if May was dealt Cameron's hand she'd have probably done fine; Cameron would likely have fared no better if he had come second.

I'll give you Blair. Not really my cup of tea but can't say he wasn't a steady enough hand. Might still be Pm if it wasn't for Iraq.

10-30-2018, 07:26 AM
I loved both the Millibands.

There's probably a train of thought that Labour would be doing a lot better now if Ed hadn't resigned in 2015 - especially as the reasons for that, if I remember rightly, were largely that the Lib Dem vote went through the floor but percentage wise shifted to UKIP rather than either main party. I'm sure there's some more nuance to that - I wouldn't actually be surprised if the UKIP surge was caused by Tory voters defecting to them, and that the Tory and Labour parties both gained the Lib Dem vote roughly equally (although even that seems weird to me, as you'd expect an LD voter not to shift to the Tories. Then again, I wouldn't have thought the LDs would prop up a Tory Government, so what do I know?). Either way, the collapsing LD vote was, in my opinion, what essentially cost the Labour party rather than any of their campaigning in 2015 - their voter share actually increased fractionally in that election, if I remember rightly.

Certainly, Ed was a much harder target for the press than Corbyn has, sadly, proven to be.

But yeah, Cameron made the rod that May's back is currently having to deal with. The EU referendum should, in my opinion, have never been an option, let alone a promise.

Prime Time
10-30-2018, 11:56 AM
I honestly think he'd taken a mauling, and it would have been nearly impossible for him to stay on. And lord knows the press went after him as much as they have gone after Corbyn - lest we forget 'Red Ed'. That said, I think there'd be a stronger position overall if he had been able to weather the storm, although god only knows if he'd been able to fight back against May the way Corbyn did in 2017. And I think we forget just how much that was supposed to be a walkover.

As to the 2015 election, I think it's a combination of factors. The Labour vote collapsing in Scotland was one thing. They actually increased their share in England, I believe, but only picked up a few seats which in no way counteracted the bleeding out that happened in Scotland through the SNP surge. And then because the Lib Dem vote collapsed, but it collapsed harder in those seats where they were traditionally Lib/Con marginals, and so although some of those votes were returning to Labour it didn't matter much in the long run, and gave seats back to the Conservatives.

It's why the Conservatives were gain barely anything on the swing and less of a swing overall than Labour, and yet still come out looking like they were nailed on winners. Labour's net gain of 13 seats in England and Wales was cancelled out by losing 40 seats in Scotland, and the Conservatives better track record of picking off their coalition partners (23 gains) was enough to undo anything they lost to Labour, and more.

In short, Scotland put Labour in a hole going forward. It's very hard to see Labour getting a majority now they've lost their Scottish heartlands to the SNP. Not only did it become a rod to beat Labour with, that they'd be held hostage by the SNP, but if you add forty seats to Miliband's total in 2015, or even another thirty to Corbyn's total in 2017, and you've got a party that is roughly the same size as the Tories and a much more viable opposition.

But the result was actually decided by the Southwest that year. If you look at the seats that changed hands from LD to Conservative, they are largely down that way or on the South Coast. Bath, Chippenham, Cheltenham, Eastleigh, Eastbourne, Lewes, North Cornwall, North Devon, Portsmouth South, St Austell and Newquay, Taunton Deane, Torbay, Wells and Yeovil: all in the South west or on the South coast, and enough between them that if they'd all stayed LD the Tories would have been nine short of a majority. But the swing to UKIP was huge down there.

Like Oliver I've always been a bit confused about it. I personally think that it probably isn't a straight swing from LD to UKIP, and that there's more Tories moving right as floating Lib Dems head back to the Tories. But I could be wrong - maybe there's just a lot of protest voters moving from one protest party to another, who knows?

Prime Time
11-06-2018, 11:50 AM
Any thoughts on Arron Banks being referred to the National Crime Agency and saying that all things considered he'd have voted for remain if he'd have known how it would have gone?!

Prime Time
11-13-2018, 04:01 PM
Brexit text agreed. Now to find out if she can get it through Parliament.

11-13-2018, 04:36 PM
Ugh. It doesn’t feel real. I hope to wake up and it’s a bad dream.

Although if we dodged the European army debacle, that’s a positive.

Prime Time
11-14-2018, 05:14 PM
Cabinet approved. One more hurdle to go, unless we get a Tory leadership election instead.

11-14-2018, 05:33 PM
This is so wrong.

Prime Time
11-14-2018, 05:58 PM
Scratch that, two more hurdles. EU members have to agree too, of course.

One more domestic hurdle, if it gets that far.

Prime Time
11-15-2018, 06:15 AM
Esther McVey and Dominic Raab (the man who negotiated the damn deal) have resigned over it this morning. Yeah, this thing is going nowhere.

EDIT: And now Suella Braverman. If your first reaction is 'who?', she was the DexEU minister. Hard to see this as anything other than coordinated now.

11-15-2018, 07:12 AM
It isn't, and whilst I'd love to enjoy the Tory party tearing themselves apart of the EU (again - this has been going on for decades now, hasn't it?) all these, to use a Major parlance, bastards are achieving is going to be fucking over the country long term with no deal as the outcome.

I mean, the DUP have already ruled themselves out of voting for it, as I understand, so May's already not got a majority. Then she's haemorrhaging votes from all sides in her own party - the Eurosceptics who think it ties us too closely to the EU for too long, and the Europhiles (if there is such a thing as a Tory Europhile) who think it divorces us too far away from the EU. Labour have their five conditions which I think haven't all been met, and then there's the smaller parties like the SNP, Lib Dems, and Greens who won't ever support it.

It's dead in the water. But it always was going to be. The thing is, now May has nobody to turn the gun on but herself over this.

Prime Time
11-15-2018, 07:29 AM
I have to admit, though, that she does have one advantage over the critics from the euro-sceptic wing of her party and the DUP, in that at least she has tried to be kinda grown up about it without losing her own party. So while it's not much, I do have some sympathy for her as regards to the fact that there is still a complete failure front up to the realities of the situation in much of the Tory party and that sort of makes the job impossible. That said, I'm not sure she's handled it all that well.

11-15-2018, 02:46 PM
How has she survived?! It’s painful. Today’s been like an election in terms of drama. A fun day in horrific circumstances.

Prime Time
11-16-2018, 08:15 PM
She's survived for two reasons, I think. One is that there's no guarantee that toppling her would work. There is a theory out there that no hard Brexiter can win enough votes in the Parliamentary party to replace her.

And the other point is that none of her critics actually has a coherent alternative anyway. They enjoy sniping from the side but they don't have anything serious to say about any of this. So yeah, she deserves some credit for having the bottle to stay in post and face down the 'bastards', to again borrow from John Major.

I will say this - it's now or never for the hard Brexiter group. Remainers might fight another day, but for the others if they don't move now, they won't have another opportunity.

Prime Time
11-20-2018, 05:20 PM
Still very little sign of May being brought down, and I am starting to get a sense of the JRG faction actively trying to persuade people to break ranks... Hint of desperation, rather than last week when they seemed almost certain that it was inevitable.

11-21-2018, 05:21 AM
Badly misjudged by Jacob I think... It was a high risk, high reward strategy, but I think he may come out on the losing end here..

11-21-2018, 06:58 AM
I find it unbelievably that a member of a party would literally come out and say (basically) 'we're trying our best to get a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister'. There's so much sickening self interest in the Tory party, there really is.

Very interesting comments from Amber Rudd today, essentially saying that if the current version of the withdrawal agreement gets rejected by parliament, which seems more and more likely, then they would also move to prevent a no deal scenario - essentially she seems to be saying to those who don't like this but want to leave the EU it's either the current deal or not leaving that's on the table.

Part of me would be fascinated to see a second referendum when we actually know what we'd be getting from leaving, but I really don't have the stomach for it. Plus, the proposed three pronged referendum just leaves it open to be a case of 'well a majority wanted to leave but just couldn't agree on how we leave' should we end up with a vote where it's a majority remain but not above 50%, leaving the question open again.

Question is, where does a rejection of this deal by parliament, and a subsequent result of remaining in the EU, leave the Conservative party? I can't see the electorate backing them in an election after this because it's a political shambles whichever way you look at it - the people who wanted to leave will see it as a betrayal, the people who wanted to remain will see that they wanted to leave, and the people who supported them for May will come out seeing her weaker than ever. Another general election would be fascinating - they'll likely be a massive shift to UKIP, who have been astonishingly quiet during all of this, from disaffected leavers. Remainers might stick with the party but could easily shift to an alternative - but whether or not that's Labour seems questionable.

We could literally be in a position where we have an entire generation of hung parliaments going forward, if that wasn't already anticipated.

11-21-2018, 07:34 AM
It's not as if it's all rosy at Labour either at the moment, but the Tories are hugging the headlines for sure.

Honestly, the last thing I want now is a General Election, for the same reason as you: I just can't stomach it. Plus it would probably lead to complete disarray as I can't see either main party getting anywhere near a majority.

A second referendum on Brexit would be a bit more interesting, but I have long given up on that. Fact of the matter is that the original referendum was based on lies (from both sides, must be said) so as punishment the government should probably just go through with Brexit. I was and still am a fierce remainer, but at the same time I just want this to be done so we can begin the usual routine of guessing pint of milk prices again...

Prime Time
11-22-2018, 06:18 AM
Honestly, the last thing I want now is a General Election, for the same reason as you: I just can't stomach it. Plus it would probably lead to complete disarray as I can't see either main party getting anywhere near a majority.

Agreed. The best case scenario for either of the main parties that I can see on recent figures is a) Tories end up only slightly worse off than they are now, but still the biggest party, and b) Labour become the biggest party but still only hold around 300 seats, leading to them needing either SNP support, or trying to muddle through in the hope that the other parties don't actively oppose them.

There was a poll a few days ago that, if replicated would see Labour up to 300, Tories dropping to 267 (still five more than the Labour 'success' in 2017), SNP back up to over 40 (this is the least safe bit of the poll, I think), and the Lib Dems adding 7, bringing them roughly in line with 1992 levels. Oh, and the Greens hold their seat, Plaid down 1 to just 3.

Realistically, though, we live in a country now where since the SNP surge the only party capable of winning a majority are the Conservatives. The same Lab/Tory vote share from 1997 which gave Blair 415+ seats would now leave them with just 340, or a working majority of about 30. And, of course, there's very little sign of them getting that kind of vote share - which is in part dependent on the Tories losing popularity, when they seem to have about 35% of the country locked in at this point. That said, the Conservatives have only won a single majority since 1992 and that was something of a statistical fluke.

The tl;dr of the above is that it's basically a situation that will have to change, and our politics will need to readjust - either to get used to the idea of parties governing without majorities, or through some great realignment that ends the gridlock. Right now the two main parties aren't fit for purpose in the system that we have, and the Lib Dems are too tarnished from their coalition naivety to really challenge them.

Prime Time
11-22-2018, 08:56 AM
Apologies for another double post but the draft of the bill has been agreed. I think it still needs to be signed off both by the EU states and by the UK parliament, so there's no guarantee that it survives. But there is at least a deal there.

Prime Time
11-23-2018, 07:12 AM
....... and we wake up to find Yaxley-Lennon has started working for UKIP, drawing the condemnation of Nigel Farage. Strange times we live in.

11-23-2018, 10:31 AM
Farage's response to this reminds me of Yaxley-Lennon's (I like using his real name, Prime, good call on that) to finding out that the EDL was full of neo-nazis.

Honestly, you build a house full of racists and then you act shocked that the house is also attractive to other racists.

Looks like May is really struggling to get this deal over with both MPs and the public at large. Dominic Raab is now saying that we'd be better off staying in the EU than leaving with this deal, which is quite remarkable given where he lies on the political scale. And meanwhile May is refusing to tie her future to the success or failure of the deal to pass through the Commons, which seems tone deaf (but also like something she needs to say as otherwise people will see voting against her as a way to oust her, I suppose).

This all feels like a very, very weird time in British politics.

Prime Time
11-26-2018, 10:27 AM
Indeed it does.

It's a weird situation. May can basically afford to lose half a dozen votes. But she's expected to lose around 80 Tories, meaning that even if the DUP flip back and there are a bunch of Labour rebels, it's just got no real chance of success.

What happens next is... difficult, then. I get the feeling most of the house are more inclined towards 'this deal, or remain'. But if the deal gets voted down then the default position is that we leave, with no deal. So quite a lot has to happen in parliament between now and March to change that. And they've only got three weeks after it being voted down to work out what they want to do instead.

So although it looks like it's got no chance you might find people fall in line and vote for it just to avoid the chaos that could follow. And god knows what is going to happen if we do end up in that chaos. Amber Rudd said the other day that they simply aren't going to let a 'no deal' Brexit happen - but it's going to be an absolutely crazy time to avoid it, if this deal fails.

I don't think there's ever quite been a moment in our politics like this.

Prime Time
11-27-2018, 06:50 AM
Just read that May has challenged Corbyn to a Brexit debate...

Prime Time
11-29-2018, 05:06 AM
Latest economic forecasts make for some depressing reading.

Also heard Brexiter Andrea Leadsom will back the deal. This is what I expected to happen to some degree, a number of unexpected people will end up siding with the deal. Still unsure about the arithmetic and whether it has a chance of getting through - but it is inevitably going to get closer as the date approaches.

I heard the 11th is the key date for all this...

11-29-2018, 08:58 AM
Latest economic forecasts make for some depressing reading.

Also heard Brexiter Andrea Leadsom will back the deal. This is what I expected to happen to some degree, a number of unexpected people will end up siding with the deal. Still unsure about the arithmetic and whether it has a chance of getting through - but it is inevitably going to get closer as the date approaches.

I heard the 11th is the key date for all this...

Yeah, but they generally are when there is ambiguity in the future. Though the level of recession being predicted is largely worrying.

Throughout the whole ordeal of Brexit, I was trying to come up with anything positive that has happened. I could only come up with the fact that it has got me a bit more interested in Politics. Not saying I'll be campaigning or start talks, but whereas before I looked at elections very briskly, headlines only, I am now investing time in learning why things are happening the way they are.

Doesn't mean I particularly like what I'm finding out though...

Prime Time
11-29-2018, 09:42 AM
The worst-case scenario is basically another 2008, looking at the figures. Perhaps worse, as in the end the economy only contracted by around 5.5% then and there's the possibility of it reaching 8% if the shit hits the fan this time. Only imagine that, coming on the back of eight years of austerity.

Of course all these are only projections. But it's still an absolute nightmare scenario.

You do have to hope in times like this that the one thing it can do is raise people's consciousness of how important these issues are. That's the only good thing that can come out of it, the remembrance that for democracy to work everyone does have to be involved.

Prime Time
12-03-2018, 04:32 AM
So there's talk about a contempt of parliament vote if the government don't publish all their legal advice on May's Brexit deal.

I don't know what would happen if that passed, but in theory May could be kicked out of the Commons.

Prime Time
12-04-2018, 06:12 PM
Sorry for another string of posts in a row, but for the first time in history the UK Government has lost a vote that means it is held in contempt of parliament.

History in the making, but not of the good kind.

12-04-2018, 06:58 PM
What is the chances now of an actual Leave vs Remain referendum happening now?

Prime Time
12-06-2018, 04:42 AM
I mean, who'd try and predict anything right now? My guess is that what will happen will happen without a referendum, but who really knows?

For the love of Terry Funk
12-08-2018, 05:04 AM
Thank god we avoided the chaos with Ed Miliband eh

Prime Time
12-09-2018, 03:24 PM
Speaking of which.... Electoral Calculus have shifted their prediction, based on the average of recent polls. It's now basically a dead heat between the Tories and Labour, and Labour would get more votes - just not enough to overhaul the inbuilt advantage for Conservatives in our electoral system. So they'd still be a couple of seats behind. But if an election was run tomorrow, there'd be virtually no chance of a majority for anyone. My guess is that you'd have to have a situation where the SNP/Lib Dems indicated they'd support one of the main two parties in the event of a confidence/budget vote.

And I don't see the SNP propping up the Tories like that. Mind, I'm not sure I see either of them doing that for Corbyn either.

Prime Time
12-10-2018, 11:00 AM
Right.... so they are trying to delay the vote. But there's no guarantee they can, because ironically... they have to win a vote to delay the vote.

I mean, just when you think it can't get to be anymore of an omnishambles. There's open talk of a vote of No Confidence. All depend on if Corbyn has the mettle to call for one at the moment, I think.

EDIT: Scratch that - Gov't insisting that they aren't going to put it to a vote, and there is another way of doing it with procedure, though the Speaker has said it would be 'discourteous'. Which is about as strong a word I think I've ever heard the speaker say with regard to the government.

I wouldn't mind betting that if they don't let a vote be held and just 'refuse to move the day's business' in the middle of a debate that they'll be censured again, and possibly held in contempt of parliament again.

So yeah, if you didn't realise it already, we're in the midst of an absolute clusterfuck of a constitutional crisis.

12-10-2018, 12:26 PM
Confirmed, vote deferred, delayed, postponed, whatever you want.

I bet sooner or later, someone in Parliament is going to suggest having a referendum on having a new referendum...

Prime Time
12-10-2018, 01:17 PM
Just following this while I wait for an event to start.

Honestly, it's like one of those old navy movies where a ship has been crippled and the enemy just fire and fire into it until it sinks.

Right now I don't see her lasting the week.

12-12-2018, 08:11 AM
Christ what a shitshow.

According to the Guardian there are something like 120 MPs who have already said they're backing May in the confidence vote later on. I think she needs 158 - so currently about 40 short. There's 315 in total, and given that there are at least 48 that will be voting against her that must whittle the outstanding number between those that have declared their backing and the total possible to something like 150 or so where the vote is yet to be clear.

Prime Time
12-12-2018, 08:45 AM
Didn't survive the day, as it turns out.

If people can be believed, she'll win this reasonably handily. But the fact that it's a secret ballot might mean that some people are saying one thing and will do another. There's already been a tweet to the effect that one government source has said they expect at least five of the senior ministers to vote against tonight, after giving public support. The Tory party have famously been ruthless in getting rid of their leaders.

The interesting thing is that a lot of the CPP actually seem to want the ERG to get a kicking out of this. It's a real civil war in their party at the moment. Ken Clarke of all people got huge cheers from his own benches for saying that there was nothing more unhelpful than a leadership challenge at this point in time - this moment of 'grave national crisis', as he called it.

You can tell what business thinks, though. Every time there's something broadly pro-May emerging, like that she'll stay to fight on, or that people come out in support of her, the pound rebounds a little bit.

12-12-2018, 09:20 AM
I don't think that nugget about the pound rebounding when the pro-May news comes out - you'd have to say that if she doesn't stay as leader and PM, that's a win for the right wing of the party. And one of those nuts in charge kills any hope of a reasonable deal being agreed.

Prime Time
12-12-2018, 10:01 AM
Yeah, it's partly just uncertainty but given business is actively hostile towards the idea of a harder Brexit that has to have something to do with it.

I don't think there are many people who want a JRM or Boris in charge in the Tory party, to be honest. The question is, how many will back May to stop that from happening, or do people think they can replace her and get someone they'd prefer in place? The last is a hell of a gamble but I could see a few of them trying to go for it.

Prime Time
12-12-2018, 12:28 PM
Apologies for what has been a long line of double posts but I've just seen a Conservative unwilling to be on TV at the same time as a member of his own party on TV because he is on the other side of this issue.

I honestly think they literally hate each other more than they hate the opposition right now. It's extraordinary. I genuinely don't think I've ever seen anything like it.

Prime Time
12-17-2018, 08:30 AM
OK, so here's some non-Brexit news. The UK deficit went up by £12bn at a stroke today.

It's not like they've spent more, but there's been a ruling on how student debt is to be calculated. Money that isn't expected to be paid back for whatever reason now has to be categorised as 'public spending', because inevitably it's going to come from the government.

Now that they can't hide that away in the numbers anymore, boom, the black hole at the heart of HE spending is apparent.

It's been taken as an incentive to lower tuition fees at University, so that at the very least the government would have to pay back less - though obviously, that only goes so far because most uni's are public anyway.

But yeah, at the very least the true scale of UK finances is much easier to discern now than it was a few days ago.

For the love of Terry Funk
12-30-2018, 12:01 PM
Funny how quiet it gets over Xmas break but you know they are all just heading back to a shit show

Prime Time
01-11-2019, 07:55 PM
Just to follow on from that, two defeats for the government in as many days over their Brexit plans and how they want to progress...

01-11-2019, 08:36 PM
I've given up. Decided to finally start Black Mirror instead; who knew that Charlie Brooker would come up with piggate! And it ultimately be less of a fuck up than Brexit!

For the love of Terry Funk
01-15-2019, 06:59 AM
The rumour is a no confidence vote after the deal is voted down tonight but don't know if they'll bottle it again

Prime Time
01-15-2019, 07:39 PM
Well, there we go. Government goes down to a record defeat. Previous best or worst was in the Mcdonald government in the 1920s, and this blew it away by more than 70 extra votes. We're probably living in the most unstable time in recent memory, in purely political terms.

Vote of no confidence called for tomorrow but the government are expected to win... For now.

01-16-2019, 06:05 AM
Remarkable, really. May seems to be stubbornly trying to stick with her deal despite a massive defeat, we know the EU feel this is the best deal they can offer given the supposed red lines we have laid down, Corbyn's out there flip flopping about, and nobody really knows what happens.

I'm not sure whether I can be happy or sad about the deal not passing. It might be that this destroys the Government and we get a General Election where we can kick the bastard Tories out. It might be that they stay clinging on to power and we end up with no deal and a fucked country.

Prime Time
01-16-2019, 03:30 PM
As predicted she's survived. Finally might get some recognition of political reality as May invites the leaders of the other parties in to try and plot a way forward.

Should have happened years ago, mind.

01-17-2019, 06:49 AM
Yeah, it seems like she's trying to reach out now - 2 and a half years too late, in my opinion.

And, of course, now Labour can dig their heels in and refuse to cooperate unless it's on their terms - which to be honest is a perfectly rational and reasonable ruling out of a no deal, which would by all projections be a disaster. I doubt May will do that because it's the only thing stopping the Tory party from completely rioting and being a full pair of warring factions.

The Guardian's Today In Focus has done a couple of good podcasts on the whole thing recently - the one today, particularly, outlines where May went wrong in her approach, including the General Election calling, the speeches she gave (it includes her speech writer saying that one speech she gave - with the soundbite 'there are those in Europe who want us to fail' or similar - was essentially completely against the script she was given).

01-17-2019, 10:44 AM
May still makes Arlene Foster look like Obama.

01-17-2019, 07:23 PM
I just think every Political Party in the UK right now is invisible or a shambles.

Samuel 'Plan
01-20-2019, 02:05 PM
It really is shambolic and so, so embarrassing.

Generally I've always been a little torn about the notion of a People's Vote, leaning towards having one more than not but always recognising the legitimacy people might have for complaining about one. At this point though it does, to me, feel like the only viable way forward. No Deal should be taken off the table in my opinion, meaning a second referendum becomes simple: May's Brexit or No Brexit. If the former wins then the matter really is closed and the Commons would surely, at that stage, be compelled to vote through May's deal (though in the current climate you never do know...). But then if the latter wins...I mean, it'd be foolish to pretend that won't open up a whole other Pandora's Box.

I feel a little hopeless about it all right now, and the prospect of No Deal, I can't help but notice, keeps slowly looming larger and larger and larger.

Prime Time
01-20-2019, 03:26 PM
What a lot of people don't seem to remember in all this is that we keep talking about the 'deal' and 'no deal', but we're not even into talking about the deal yet. We're still stuck on the withdrawal agreement that we had to have done before they'd even talk trade.

And y'know, given how it's played out, you've got to say that was a very smart move on the EU's part, because we can't even seem to decide what we want.

For the love of Terry Funk
01-20-2019, 04:43 PM
Well be living with this for years regardless

Prime Time
01-25-2019, 08:41 AM
Well, not every day you find the Queen getting involved. You know you are in a constitutional crisis when.....

For the love of Terry Funk
02-10-2019, 02:16 PM
Had the Radio on in the car and heard Labour are calling for Greyling to resign over the ferry company with no boats lol beyond the thick of it now

Prime Time
02-20-2019, 09:21 AM
Big few days, huh? 11 MP's have broken away from Labour and the Tories in the past couple of days and formed an 'Independent group' in Parliament.

Far too early to think of them as anything like a new party as yet but it's the first sign of some sort of movement to break the deadlock in parliament, and to shake up what are some pretty unfortunate political pigeon holes.

I'm sure people have some opinions on all this....?

02-20-2019, 11:30 AM
I haven't looked into it too much, but the name that stands out to me there is Chuka Umunna; wasn't he suggested as a future leader for Labour?

Prime Time
02-20-2019, 11:46 AM
Briefly, yeah, but question marks about how much support he had and he dropped out too early for there to be any test of how likely he was to win.

It's a really minor point but with three leaving the Tories the government is now a minority, even with the confidence and supply motion with the DUP. Though that may be more of a maths point than a political reality.

02-20-2019, 01:00 PM
Though that may be more of a maths point than a political reality.

I think this is actually more like a political reality, Prime - there's no way those three MPs back the Government, nor will the ones that have left Labour. I think the Conservatives are no either counting on their abstentions - they may not back a Labour amendment, for example - or there being enough people like Kate Hoey who will back them on the Labour side.

Prime Time
02-21-2019, 08:54 AM
I suppose what I meant is that they aren't going to suddenly back a vote of no-confidence that might put Corbyn into power. They will probably abstain, as you say, but if the former Labour members were also to abstain then it doesn't especially hurt as they'd still have a net plus out of the defections, if that makes sense.

Also worth adding that because of Sinn Fein and the Speaker, the working majority figure is actually slightly different than an actual majority - and that in practice, you only need 322 votes rather than 326 - and with the DUP they currently have 324.

My guess is that if they do see a round of defections from the likes of Greening, Boles, Grieve etc to this centrist block, or if they lose the DUP, then the government will actually fall. Whether or not a new election can do anything is a matter of guesswork.

02-26-2019, 09:14 AM
So now May is promising a parliamentary vote on her deal, which if rejected means there will be a vote the next day on whether to proceed with no deal, which if rejected means there will be a vote the next day on 'a short, limited extension' to Article 50, not beyond the end of June.

When will she get it that her deal is unworkable, nobody wants a no deal, and a short extension means nothing?

Is she just so fucking pig headed in her insistence that we leave now that she can't see it?

I'm getting fucking tired of the whole thing, to be honest. I hope we stay.

Prime Time
02-28-2019, 07:06 AM
See, here's what I think. That last vote is basically just to establish the principle of extending. Once parliament has voted to extend it'll be easier to get a longer extension through, which is actually what it'd need to be in order to do anything meaningful.

Trouble is, what happens at the end of that? Unless we've had another referendum and the idea has been put back in its box, all the same problems will still exist. The border issue in Ireland isn't going to go away. The business case isn't going to change (though there's a lot of evidence that the damage has frankly already been done, with the Netherlands in particular already seeing the benefit of a lot of relocation, and those jobs ain't coming back whether we stay or not).

Of course, if we do have a longer extension, then we have to have EU elections later this year....

Apparently, that amendment yesterday was so unusual that even the PM had to ask her own whips which way she was supposed to vote, and MPs were double-taking at who they were in the same lobby with. I think the amendment actually had Corbyn and JRM's names not just on it, but next to each other. Bizarre state of affairs.

The Dude
03-01-2019, 01:47 PM
I heard medication that comes from Europe might become harder to get hold of.... I hope my friend is joking, because I am completely dependent on my meds.

Prime Time
03-01-2019, 04:50 PM
They are not joking. Supply chains will be affected unless the right legislation is put in place. People were warned about this year's ago, to be fair. But what it is boils down to is if we can't sort things out to keep freight traffic moving, it's likely to affect most goods - medication amongst the list. There's nothing already in place to make it a special case anyway.

Non-Brexit news, sounds like we're leaning to the European position rather than the American on this Huawei thing, which might have an impact on your 5g broadband, amongst other things.

Prime Time
03-11-2019, 04:54 PM
Have literally no idea how the next few hours, never mind days, are going to go.

03-11-2019, 09:53 PM
Explain to me how British government works. Is your Parliment kind of like our House and Senate? And your Prime Minister is like our President? And... how does the Queen fit in? (If I remember correctly... that’s mostly just a title that has no bearing in the actual politics nowadays, yeah?)

Prime Time
03-11-2019, 10:07 PM
Your government is actually modelled on ours, although there are some differences in practice. But what you've said here is basically accurate enough.

House of commons is an elected body. They make the law. The Prime Minister has to sit in the house, so that's one big difference - our executive and legislature are in the same place.

House of Lords aren't the traditional Lords anymore but people appointed to the upper house for either expertise or party loyalty. They scrutinise the laws passed by the house of commons. But because they aren't elected they can't prevent the Commons from passing it's legislation if the lower House is determined to get it through.

The Queen still has a constitutional role, but in terms of actual politics, it's been expected since the days of Queen Victoria that publicly, they'll remain neutral. She technically 'appoints' the Prime minister based on who can command the confidence of the Commons, which in practice means you can get a new PM without an election. It is also the Queen that opens and dissolves Parliament.

03-11-2019, 10:16 PM
The House of Lords bit intrigues me. You say they are appointed either by expertise or party loyalty, and then you say they scrutinize laws but can’t necessarily prevent new laws being formed. Are they able to overturn laws? Sounds kind of like our Supreme Court...

Prime Time
03-11-2019, 10:23 PM
It's a bit more like the relationship between house and senate, but imagine that the house has a bigger say. So they can refuse to pass legislation and send it back to the Commons for revision, and then it's up to the government to try and get it through again or to drop it.

So basically they can't stop the government at that stage, but they can delay it and try to force changes that way. If there's huge support it probably won't work but contentious stuff can get improved this way.

Originally the house of Lords were the genuine aristocracy and they had a role much more equal in the law, but that was considered democratically untenable after about 1800 and you see a gradual decline of their power over the next 180 years or so.

03-11-2019, 10:49 PM
It's a bit more like the relationship between house and senate, but imagine that the house has a bigger say. So they can refuse to pass legislation and send it back to the Commons for revision, and then it's up to the government to try and get it through again or to drop it.

Okay. Sounds like our house and senate when it’s not “controlled” by one party. (For the most part, there’s typically a balanced house and senate in regards to Democrats vs. Republicans. Sometimes the house and senate are mostly all one side, along with the President on that same side. That’s when silly laws get passed because there’s not enough of a divide to protest.) When there is a balanced house and senate, new laws get brought up, voted down, the law is reworded and gets sent back up.

Prime Time
03-12-2019, 05:03 AM
As you mentioned the President/Prime minister thing.... this is harder to outline because both jobs are famously badly defined. In both cases it's as much about the person that defines the office as anything else.

The best description I can think of is to say that the President sort of combines aspects of the Monarch with aspects of the PM, while the PM sort of combines aspects of the President with aspects of the House Majority Leader. They aren't the head of state, or head of the military, or anything like that - but they do have the most responsibility for both domestic and foreign affairs.

One way for a PM to get criticize is to be seen as 'too Presidential' - there's a marked preference here for cabinet-style governance where more delegation goes on. But that might be more old fashioned than we think.

Anything else I can help you with?

For the love of Terry Funk
03-12-2019, 10:59 AM
Not too butt in but plenty of talk that the May deal is dead, no one knows what comes next, and we might have to have a general election.

Prime Time
03-12-2019, 05:53 PM
Well it lost by 150ish. Sounds like the no deal vote is going to be one-sided tomorrow, but God knows after that, and no clue how it'll all resolve. Be mad to try and make a prediction at this stage.

03-12-2019, 10:52 PM
As you mentioned the President/Prime minister thing.... this is harder to outline because both jobs are famously badly defined. In both cases it's as much about the person that defines the office as anything else.

The best description I can think of is to say that the President sort of combines aspects of the Monarch with aspects of the PM, while the PM sort of combines aspects of the President with aspects of the House Majority Leader. They aren't the head of state, or head of the military, or anything like that - but they do have the most responsibility for both domestic and foreign affairs.

One way for a PM to get criticize is to be seen as 'too Presidential' - there's a marked preference here for cabinet-style governance where more delegation goes on. But that might be more old fashioned than we think.

Anything else I can help you with?

Nope... you've pretty much answered my questions.

You said our government is basically based on yours. Which means I'm blaming you Brits for the fucked up state we have over here now. (J/k... I realize this happened way before you were ever born...) I truly hate a two-party system. If someone thinks they have a great idea that will carry their country to great new heights... it shouldn't be pigeon-holed into a party. Sorry for the derail. Back to British stuff...

Prime Time
03-13-2019, 03:16 PM
No worries, glad to help out anytime you've British questions!

They're now voting on the no deal stuff. An amendment moved by Yvette Cooper is up first though. Decision expected shortly.

Edit: the amendment has just passed. Moving to another amendment now.

Prime Time
03-18-2019, 12:20 PM
Fuck a duck, Bercow's not letting May put her vote forward again.

It's a literal river of shit hitting a plethora of fans in there right now.

03-18-2019, 05:10 PM
I hate Bercow but right now he is my favourite person in Politics.

Prime Time
03-20-2019, 02:11 PM
Confession time, I actually kinda like Bercow. But I've got a longstanding affection for the role of the Speaker, so perhaps it's not a surprise. I do get that he's a bit showy and that might put something off, but I do think he does a good job. He's probably my second favourite in the role.

I can't imagine anyone surpassing Betty anytime soon though.

And yes, I am talking about this trivia to avoid concentrating on the serious issues.

03-20-2019, 04:18 PM
He's the Mike Dean of politics (kudos to anyone that gets that reference).

03-23-2019, 12:21 AM
PT... I know this whole Brexit thing was... a bit of a thing for a bit. However, I’m lazy and don’t want to read a bunch of different things after using the google. Can you explain Brexit like in simple laymen’s terms?

03-23-2019, 04:12 AM
No. No one can. Even the PM has no bloody clue..

Prime Time
03-23-2019, 07:50 AM
That's probably true, but I'll have a go. Though this will just be the basics, because it's incredibly technical.

But the European Union began in efforts to prevent another war in Europe after World War II, by bringing the countries closer together. The main method of doing that was by encouraging free trade between the member states. That led to the formation of the European Economic Community in the 1950s and something called the customs union, which is when they agreed that there'd be no tariffs between the member states.

Britain wasn't part of it back then after opting out, but after some economic difficulty there was a long push to change our minds and we finally joined in the 1970s. But there's always been a mixed attitude towards the EU ever since. The issue, in particular, has effectively brought down the last three Conservative Prime Ministers, and is likely to bring down a fourth, as Theresa May looks like a dead woman walking.

The EEC eventually developed into the EU, and free trade is very much still at the centre of what they do - one of the effects of the Customs Union is that across the bloc, you have to have shared standards and laws so that a business in the south of England can trade with one as easily in Poland or Portugal as they can with one in Penge or Prestatyn. The other area is that if you're a citizen of one EU state, you are supposed to have a baseline level of rights across the whole bloc - including the right to live and work in any member country. What this means is that in some cases EU law can supersede domestic law, and the latter obviously has implications for people concerned about migration.

So the issue plays to a central fissure in conservatism - one that will be very familiar to Americans - between free-marketers, capitalists who are broadly pro-EU, and more people whose conservatism operates more around nationalism. We've been governed in Britain by a party put together by a coalition of these groups since 1979 (basically though I am summarising a lot here) so the issue divides the people who tend to have control, and so it kinda causes chaos. To make it worse, liberals here tend to have an internationalist desire to support the free market wing, while those socialists on the hard left will often support the nationalists and see it as a chance to weaken a large free market body. In effect, you end up splitting the country pretty much down the middle.

And so leaving all the trickiness and the technicalities out of it for a minute, as well as my own position, the issue basically boils down to this: is it worth abandoning your place in the single market and undergoing a massive transition almost certainly involving a lengthy recession, in order to opt out of things like the EU laws on rights, and on the free movement of people - as people who vote that way say, for them it's about sovereignty.

Now this could get complicated very quickly, but here's why it's still a thing. In the 2016 Referendum campaign, there were a lot of options about leaving that were put forward, but the ballot paper only offered a simple in-out choice. So there was a close result to leave, but no one really knows what sort of future relationship with the bloc people were voting for - and people who want to try and minimise the economic fallout want to stay closer to them, which could mean that you end up taking direction from the EU without having the voting rights in their decision making that we currently enjoy. Conversely, there's a group on the right wing of the Conservatives advocating that we leave without a deal and break entirely - but that has literally thousands of implications ranging from the business community to fundamental things such as the supply of food, medicines, and even toilet paper.

Right, I'm going to stop there because soon you'll be wishing you'd google it. And to be honest, you can get more information about it than that, but it doesn't really make it a lot clearer.

Samuel 'Plan
03-25-2019, 09:20 AM
Long and short of it, it's a shit-storm that's been massively amplified by insipid and deliberate campaigns of misinformation put together by mega-rich hard right wing nationalists, clinging to the idea that a referendum that broke electoral law, found itself influenced by foreign powers, didn't extend the voting age to include those most effected by the decision (16-17 year olds), was never legally binding and was won on less than 2% of a popular vote of less than 75% of the nation - equating to fewer than 2 million votes - presents some irreversible decision we absolutely must stick to in spite of the fundamental facts of the situation having altered immeasurably from what was put forwards by the illegal winning campaign almost three years ago.

The frightening part is that this now feels like a no-win scenario.

Leaving with no deal is self-evidently a bad idea. Leaving with May's deal leaves nobody but May happy. Revoking Article 50 feels unacceptable without a revised mandate from the people and, much like if we had a second referendum, would be hijacked by the ERG and their like as a means to demonise politicians and whip up even more anger and outrage and then things get extremely dangerous.

I want a People's Vote - it strikes me as the only practical means by which to lift ourselves out of this. I'd settle for a General Election if Labour can build a consensus for a deal that keeps us economically close to the EU - though this is self-evidently a trade down from what we currently have. I'd say a malicious part of me would happily see people have to come to terms with the consequences of No Deal if it weren't for the legitimately frightening prospect that it could catalyse an even more extremist culture than the one we're currently living in.

When people are this hungry, this tired and this confused, the country becomes a power keg and toxic, dangerous men often can't wait to light a match.

03-25-2019, 12:32 PM
I've kind of shifted to being both for and against a People's Vote - my issue being that if they throw it back to the public and the same result returns, we're in the same position (short of there being more than a yes/no choice on the ballot).

If there's more than a yes/no choice on the ballot, and you get (for example) revoke Article 50, May's Deal, or No Deal, there's a huge issue for me that the victorious option will almost certainly return with less than 50% of the total - so the 'will of the people' thing gets foggy because you could easily have a situation where 40% wins to revoke Article 50, but the outstanding 60% has still voted to leave but split between the two options 30/30 or similar. So then you end up with a kind of constitutional issue because 60% still want to leave (the will of the people) but they didn't get behind one option.

And yet...for me, the only way this gets put to bed properly is to essentially repeat the referendum again, and get a new 'will of the people'. It seems entirely impossible to trust Parliament to actually get a result out of this that is constructive.

May now saying she won't bring the deal for a third vote because she doesn't have enough support, so we're in limbo really. The indicative votes will be batted away by the Conservatives, they've said as much, so we're still going to be in this shitty position in two weeks.

May's probably hoping she can force the clock down and push everyone to put her deal through because otherwise it's a no deal exit.

The whole thing's been a shambles since day one, and I'm so frustrated and angry about it all.

Samuel 'Plan
03-25-2019, 01:53 PM
I've always felt the best thing for a People's Vote would be to offer up May's deal or No Brexit. Anybody with any common sense knows No Deal is a horrendous option - but of course the issue is, while the Commons rejected No Deal, they also rejected May's. Twice. So how do you include one on the ballot and not the other?

I too think May still is playing the force down the clock issue, but the panic at the end of last week at the Summit should've made it quite clear that the strategy isn't going to work the second time either and will inevitably just play into the hands of the fantasists wanting the worst possible outcome for the nation to get the best possible outcome for themselves.

The biggest joke in all of this is that any government this shambolic should be looking at absolute electoral devastation come the next GE, but with Corbin leading the charge it seems, AMAZINGLY, that might not be the case, at least going on what I last read a few weeks back re opinion polls (appreciating that info is outdated and opinion polls only mean so much). But still.

03-25-2019, 04:00 PM
This sounds awful but I really want to thank Pete, Plan, and Ollie for the last four posts, I understand this mess a hell of a lot more than I did before and I'd be interested in hearing more.

Prime Time
03-25-2019, 04:32 PM
Anything in particular you'd want to know more about?

03-25-2019, 05:20 PM
You'd know better than I! If you want to expand on your initial post up there I'm sure I'd find it engaging reading.

Samuel 'Plan
03-25-2019, 07:15 PM
Prime, would appreciate some clarity on the Letwin amendment passing this evening, re the 'dangerous precedent' talk?

Prime Time
03-26-2019, 04:53 AM
You'd know better than I! If you want to expand on your initial post up there I'm sure I'd find it engaging reading.

Ok, will give it some thought.

Prime, would appreciate some clarity on the Letwin amendment passing this evening, re the 'dangerous precedent' talk?

Will, I'm inclined to say myself that it's not, and they are just sour that they lost. But the argument would go something like constitutionally, it's not Parliament's job to run the country, it's the government's job to do that, and parliament taking control in that way could be interpreted as a radical upending of established practice. So if you're sympathetic to the DexEU argument you'd see this as parliament grabbing power for themselves that, constitutionally, they aren't really supposed to have.

Prime Time
03-26-2019, 09:17 AM
Apologies for the double post, but Parliament's vote to take control might have broken the impasse. There's serious talk about a General Election being called in the next 48 hours.

03-26-2019, 10:21 PM
I just want to say, as a Yank, the way you guys pay attention to your government is quite impressive. Here in the States, it always breaks down into a shouting match. “Conservative Republicans are the way to go you libtards!” followed by “You’re a rich, white, racist that doesn’t care about the poor!” Rinse and repeat over and over and over again. Glad to see you Brits actually discussing stuff and hoping for a better future.

Prime Time
03-27-2019, 05:46 AM
Unnecessary praise, I'm afraid. You wouldn't have to go too far from here to run into discourses of 'leave voters are racist idiots living in a fantasy land' vs 'bloody remoaners can't except they lost and want us to be slaves in thrall to the EU so they can have their rich-boy skiing holidays'.

Prime Time
03-27-2019, 10:46 AM
So in line with Mizzie’s request, adding to my initial post. Strap yourselves in because this is bordering on a column.

I said before that we’ve always had this ambivalent relationship with the EU, with plenty of people quite antagonistic towards it. Part of that is because the EU became, almost immediately, a bit of a whipping boy for politicians here. If they could, there became a tendency to blame the EU for their own inaction. “I agree with you, but we can’t do anything because of EU law”. That happened across the entire political spectrum, so it was something that was common under Thatcher, but that didn’t really stop under Labour, or the rebranded Conservatives under David Cameron. In short, when a lot of these politicians had to turn around and make the case for the EU, it was on the back of decades of the same people using it as a body to keep the heat of themselves. So we’ve had decades where the general narrative here has been quite negative towards the EU, with very little actually made of all the money that it put into depressed areas.

Rebuilding our ex-industrial cities has largely been done on the back of EU money, and rural poverty and pressures on agricultural workers have been kept at least partially in check through EU funding – the great irony being it’s the latter communities that overwhelmingly voted for Brexit and to cut themselves off from those lifesaving pots of cash.

Because the national discourse around the EU is quite negative there’s been scepticism about moves that grant the EU more power here, and a real tipping point was the treaty of Lisbon. This made the institution itself more democratic, moving power towards the elected bodies and away from the technocrats, but for some it was being at the expense of national governments and their power in their own territories. We were also supposed to have a referendum on whether to sign up to something that was eventually superseded by Lisbon, and then there was no public vote on it then, with the government just doing it, so people who were anti-EU felt like they got stiffed by Labour between 2004-2009. That saw the rise of UKIP, or the United Kingdom Independence Party, who depending on who you talk to encompass anything from the bastion of Euroscepticism all the way up to being the publicly acceptable face of the far-right. This is also the party that Nigel Farage led for so long, since he’s a name familiar to American politics now. The presence of this party on the right counterbalanced David Cameron’s efforts to ‘detoxify’ the Conservatives and stake out the centre ground, so as UKIP took more and more votes away from the traditional parties, he offered a referendum to try and shut down the issue once and for all, and to drive a stake through the heart of UKIP.

Basically, David Cameron gambled that he could end this as an issue for a generation, unite the right wing of politics behind him, and return to staking out the centre ground in a way that would mean he and his government could rule for a generation, like they did from 1979-1997. And that gamble blew up in his face.

Now, in the last post I said ‘here’s why it’s still a thing’. But there’s another reason it’s still a thing, and that’s Ireland.

I won’t bore you with the long, complicated history about how we’ve messed up our neighbours to the west. Suffice it to say it covers hundreds of years and a lot of that history is miserable. But there’s a very real reason that Ireland is significant, though to tell you that you have to start closer to home.

Cameron resigned after the referendum result and after a leadership contest, was replaced with the current PM, Theresa May. But she still had Cameron’s majority from the 2015 election. It wasn’t a big majority at all, only some 8 seats or so, but it meant they could just about control the process. May came in and in her first few months made a really strong impression, seeming more competent than the slick-but-substanceless image that Cameron had. “No meat in the pie”, as a voter famously said in the run-up to the 2010 election.

Meanwhile, Labour had rebounded from their defeat in 2015 by lurching to the far-left and electing their new leader, Jeremy Corbyn – the closest allegory for whom might be Bernie Sanders. A committed socialist, representing a hard-left constituency, who’d never been near the reins of power before, and was seen by many as nothing but a heckler from the sidelines, who’d never control his party, or be appealing to a moderate floating voter. The word everyone used was ‘unelectable’.

So with May very popular, and Labour languishing in the national polls, she looked at the slim majority and thought that I need more wiggle room to get my vision of Brexit through. Otherwise this is going to be too hard – and I can win a landslide if we go to the people at this moment. So the Tories called an election. Trouble is, Corbyn may look poor as a party leader during the rest of the time, but he’s an excellent campaigner during an election. May also took her popularity as an excuse to try and rebrand Conservatism in less of a Thatcherite mould, and more of a one-nation Tory mould, one that could try and conquer the centre ground for a generation (sound familiar?). That was immediately unpopular with her own base, she had to do an almost immediate u-turn, and the campaign never recovered.

When the final results were in she was still the leader of the largest party, but rather than gaining seats, she’d actually lost 13 seats – and with it, the majority in parliament. So in many respects the whole situation comes back to two acts of hubris by Conservative party Prime Ministers – Cameron’s, in thinking he could win the referendum easily, and May’s in calling this election and gambling away her slender majority.

This is where Ireland comes in, because there are very few parties willing to deal with the Conservatives in the UK Parliament. UKIP are their natural allies but their vote declined massively with the referendum in the rear view mirror. The Liberal Democrats had been in coalition with them in 2010 but were badly burned by the experience and, frankly, are polar opposites on the Brexit question. Similarly, there’ll be no support from the Scottish Nationalists or Plaid Cymru where this is a major issue. Almost everyone else who wins seats is on the opposite side of the coin – except for one group. The Ulster Unionists, manifested here by the Democratic Unionist Party, whose ten MPs can, voting in concert with the Conservatives, give them just enough to get their legislation through.

There’s a whole host of things I could say about what happens in the agreement between the DUP and the Tories, and the implications for Northern Ireland, but I’m going to keep this to the issue at hand because otherwise we’re going to hit dissertation length posts!

Northern Ireland is one of the main sticking points because it’s the only bit of the UK that has a land border with another country – the Republic of Ireland. The rest of the country is on the island of Great Britain, so actually, it doesn’t really do a lot to our borders. There’s a whole lot of pressure on ports and airports but you don’t need to install a hard border, because the sea is border enough.

On the island of Ireland, that’s not the same thing – because if you don’t have a hard border there, freedom of movement can’t end because people can walk into the UK just as easily as walking from one street in Ireland to another. We’d have left the EU without regaining that territorial sovereignty people were claiming about. Conversely, the EU can’t accept there being no border through which all goods can be checked (to make sure it’s line with their law) without Northern Ireland following the same laws as the rest of Ireland and, by implication, the rest of the EU. Trouble is, the DUP as militant unionists won’t countenance the idea of their territory being treated differently from the rest of the UK (unless it suits them, but that’s a different matter for another day), while Brexiters in the UK won’t tolerate us staying closer to EU law in order to prevent the hard border between the two in Ireland.

Just to make matters worse, we’ve only had relative peace between the Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland since the late-1990s, reports are that paramilitaries are arming themselves again, and the feeling is that a hard border – the necessary precondition of leaving the customs union – could force open conflict again.

So you’ve got a referendum that no one really knows what it means and people are fighting over how to interpret the result, combined with a government trying to hold it’s party together but losing all its gambles, and a 400-year old troubling political legacy at the heart of things that could explode into a paramilitary war and possible terrorist acts, if the final decades of the last millennium are anything to go by. For all those reasons (and more) you’ve got a lot of people wanting to make sure that either this doesn’t happen or if it does, it happens the right way, while others who voted to leave and don’t follow it so closely get more and more pissed off that what they voted for isn’t happening fast enough. Hence the ongoing toxicity.

03-27-2019, 03:09 PM
Pete, pretty sure I could read a whole book about this stuff if you wrote it. It sucks that these problems are so out of hand but you do a damn good job of making it clear.

Curious now about the history of the EU affecting past prime ministers as well. Any more interesting info about that history?

(Not to turn this into a "mizfan grills Pete about politics thread", but I'm really interested!)

Prime Time
03-27-2019, 03:48 PM
Curious now about the history of the EU affecting past prime ministers as well. Any more interesting info about that history?

There sure is!

Right, so you know how I said all of this is caused by internal Tory divisions about Europe? The great irony is that it was the Conservatives that took us into Europe in the first place. So since the collapse of the Liberal party in the aftermath of the First World War, most people of a broadly free market persuasion have been in the Conservative Party. They joined the people who've generally been thought of as advocates of the Monarchy, the Flag, the Military, and the Church of England. So again, it goes back to that combination of free marketers with social conservatives. And generally speaking, it was the free marketers who set the economic agenda of the party, and that included wanting to join the EEC. When Edward Heath became PM, they took us in.

But if you look at it, that traditionalist wing doesn't really sit too well with the kind of cooperation with other nations and 'foreigners' that something like the EU demands. So from the 1980s there was a bit of a tension in the party. While Labour moved from being the more sceptical party to a broadly pro-European one in the 1980s, it was under Margaret Thatcher that the Tories started to really come apart over the EU. The problem for Thatcher is that she was more to the right than most of her Parliamentary party, and when she was already wounded by some domestic issues and was unpopular she continued being heavy-handed with some of her cabinet that had to go out and negotiate with the Europeans. One of them resigned on live TV, saying it was like going out to play cricket only to find that the team captain had broken your bat first, and it was the final blow that took her down. She became the first Tory PM to fall through Europe.

Her replacement was John Major. He revived the parties fortune with a more collegiate, less presidential style and they were able to win the 1992 General Election against the odds. But within a few months there was an economic crash that weakened the government, tarnished the Conservative record for economic security, and there were recurrent sleaze scandals, so for the last four years or so, Major was always in a very poor position. That opened him up to challenges from the Eurosceptics.

On Europe, Major was playing it down the middle - he got opt outs of the single currency and a few other things, notably, but said that Britain would be 'at the heart of Europe' for all that, so what he was promising was said to be a best of both worlds kinda deal. But it was never popular with the eurosceptic wing for whom Thatcher became something of a martyr. Famously this came to a head in a 'live microphone' situation where Major essentially accused the right wing of his party of being no better than wreckers, and called them 'the bastards' - a term that still gets used to describe some on that wing of the Conservatives.

Anyway, as he was weakened, he got shot at from that wing all the time, and his leadership became more and more suspect, and he lost the confidence of the people. He held on as long as possible before calling an election, even once he'd lost a majority through by-elections. But he did get so fed up, that he resigned as Tory party leader to force a leadership election, saying effectively back me or sack me. He was challenged by a Eurosceptic, John Redwood, but won re-election handily. It didn't do him any good with the country, though, and they were beaten handily in a 1997 landslide by Tony Blair's Labour party, who returned to power for the first time since 1979. Long story short, there were a lot of reasons that Major lost to Blair, but Europe weakened him fatally, and so he's seen as having lost his authority with his own party over the issue, and so gets called the second.

No Labour Prime Minister has ever really been brought down by Europe in a clear and straightforward way. Though you might say that free movement of people via the EU has impacts on migration, and that played a big part in Gordon Brown falling. But that's not quite the same as what's brought the others down.

David Cameron became the third, for the reasons I outlined above. But the short version is that Blair won follow up elections in 2001 and 2005, and when the Conservatives couldn't beat Blair even after the hugely unpopular invasion of Iraq, the conclusion was that the Tories were unelectable as they were. Following a leadership election, the relatively young David Cameron took over, with the idea of rebranding the Tories, and making them a party that people would no longer have to be ashamed of supporting. So initially, he makes his pitch and making them more of a centrist party - though the credit crisis of 2008 pushed him back into a more straightforwardly Thatcherite position.

But Cameron became PM in 2010 despite not having a majority, and had to form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats. And after five years, when the next election came around, polls were pointing to a 'hung parliament' again - one that might have seen Cameron replaced by Labour leader Ed Miliband as PM, albeit with him needing support from other parties, too. UKIP had gone from strength to strength, were advocating for a referendum, and were taking votes that the Tories needed from their right flank. So he promised a referendum as part of their manifesto and that combined with an underwhelming Labour campaign, saw him win a slender majority against the expectations of the polls. Cameron kept to his word - largely because he'd just been part of the victorious coalition that had won the Scottish independence referendum - for the reasons outlined above: he could kill off the issue, protect his right flank, and emerge as a leader with great credit, both at home and in the EU, which would strengthen British influence abroad. Instead, he lost, and resigned almost immediately. The link between Europe and the fall becomes clearer, less in the background, as time goes on.

And lastly, there's Theresa May, who today has promised that if her MP's back her version of Brexit, she'll resign before the next stage of negotiations. So whatever happens next, she'll be the fourth one brought down by Europe.

Samuel 'Plan
03-27-2019, 06:17 PM
So now, all those Tory leavers and Brexiteers who banged on and on about the unfairness of unelected officials robbing the UK of its sovereignty and made no secret of how they felt May's deal was an awful stitch up for the country suddenly decide they CAN vote for May's deal provided she steps down afterwards. Funny that, that these lying fantasists can open their minds when a little influence is up for grabs, and potentially can install and unelected Prime Minister (I know that's an over-simplification, but fuck it, I'm in no mood) to lead negotiations in stage two of this process.

Negotiations that would begin after a delay, of course, because we need to make room for another Tory vanity project before we can get cracking; a project that will, again, result in a PM who, as far as I can tell, wouldn't have a plan going into the next step thereby increasing the risk of the backstop being triggered - the very thing those who might now vote for May's deal claimed was the thing that prevented them from doing so!

And even all that's just theoretical.

The first round of indicative votes, I see, was never destined to get a majority for any one thing but does seem to have only further encouraged MPs to just dig their heels in even deeper. The People's Vote lot - who I support - seem to be pouncing on the fact theirs was the most popular option like it's some great victory. I can't see it - not least of all because how the hell can you entertain the notion when there's nothing obvious to vote on other than revoking Article 50?! If you put May's deal on the ballot then you're asking the people to support something their MPs have already rejected twice over. If you put No Deal on the ballot then you're asking the people to support something their MPS have overwhelmingly rejected twice over. If you put revoking Article 50 on the ballot.... And on and on it goes.

I can't help but feel we're no further forward and, if anything, continually taking steps back.

I have noticed, as a side-note, that the narrative being peddled by the Conservative leavers particularly, and also the government, has evolved since the million-strong march for a People's Vote last Saturday and the surge in signees to the revocation petition - it's now no longer just "the people already voted in the first referendum" and has instead become "the people already voted in the first referendum and confirmed it in the last election." A subtle shift that doesn't seem to have gone noticed by the press - perhaps deliberately.

EDIT: And predictably, I can see Labour MPs already trying to angle this as a mandate for an election, which strikes me as entirely unrealistic - it can't be done within the extension the EU has agreed upon (I don't think?) even if it could be forced, and would presumably have to be done AFTER the European elections!!! Talk of doing the EU elections, then a General Election and then a confirmatory referendum as well! Good lord.

Prime Time
03-28-2019, 04:51 AM
So that was a messy day. Let's see what sense we make of it.

First of all, Theresa May said she'd resign to get the deal over the line, and that immediately saw a bunch of people fall in line with it. Trouble is, that doesn't include the DUP, and her potential resignation is conditional on the deal passing. From what I understand, if it doesn't go through, the cabinet don't consider that resignation as final - which would put them into a bizarre situation where she tries to take back leaving. But bizarre as it is, it's no more bizarre than the rest of this, and while it would have been unthinkable a year ago I can imagine it now.

The DUP are still saying they won't back it, and without their support there's very little chance of the May withdrawal agreement clearing the house. That said, it could still pass, if they can get the DUP to change their mind. It's likely that enough Tories move in the event that their Ulster partners drop their opposition. At that point, this deal will get through the commons. But we're still a way off that. Tomorrow is the day to watch for that one.

Now, the indicative votes thing. It hasn't given a clear way out, but what it does is give a suggestion of what theoretically could pass. We can basically rule out a no deal, or a revocation, with this parliament. The numbers just aren't there. We might have known the former already, but this essentially confirms the latter. And it also suggests that most of the options on the 'harder' end of the spectrum won't work either.

So I'm going to do what has been a very dangerous thing on the back of this. Either the PM's deal will pass on Friday, or if they manage to win the ability to take control of the day's business again on Monday, I think some version of the Ken Clarke customs union proposal might then pass. The SNP have been holding out for the Utopian vision of staying, possibly for their own domestic reasons, but if they are compelled to support something else, possibly via STV in the next voting process, Clarke might well get over the line - especially if the cabinet stop abstaining.

I don't see the 'confirmatory vote' going through at this stage, because while the Clarke position will probably gain more as time goes on, I think having another vote will probably pick up as many more further detractors as supporters.

So yeah, when you boil it all down, we seem to be moving towards a position where there are only two possible outcomes, really (assuming parliament can continue to resist a no deal cliff edge) - the May WA, or something closer to what Ken Clarke was putting forward.

Actually just a last word on Ken Clarke because you have to give credit where it's due. One of the proposals was called 'Labour's alternative plan' and to be honest it's the least clear of all the things up there. But it's also tied to the name and policy of one specific party, and that almost doomed it to defeat from the start. No Lib Dems backed it. No SNP guys backed it.

So you might expect no Tory to back it. And none did - except one. Ken Clarke. Quite a statement of country over party, that.

03-28-2019, 11:05 AM
Please keep updating this thread as I've gotten very invested in this and hope it comes out as well as possible (if there even is a good outcome??) for all of you.

At some point I also want to hear Pete's history of Tony Blair.

Prime Time
03-28-2019, 12:52 PM
At some point I also want to hear Pete's history of Tony Blair.

Happy to oblige. First thing to say is that if you know the history of Bill Clinton, you know the history of Tony Blair, at least up to a point.

So, Blair joined Labour in the 1970s, and if I'm not mistaken this is at a point in time when Labour was in power, and the postwar consensus was just breaking up. Labour were still following policies broadly supported by both main parties since WWII, and the Conservatives had only recently opted to make Thatcher their leader, which would mean the end of that consensus when she became PM in 1979.

In 1975, when in power, Labour broadly speaking had a 'hard' and 'soft' left, which were just about being in check through the management of some important politicians of the centre-left, like Wilson, Healey, and Callaghan: but when Callaghan's government fell in 1979 after some real bad years and Thatcher took the country to the right, the Labour response was to go immediately to the hard left. A contentious leadership election that was incredibly marginal gave the leadership to the hard left. A few months later, a big chunk of the centre left resigned from the party and formed a new group that they claimed would stake out the centre ground of British politics - the Social Democratic Party.

Now, at this point Blair saw himself on the left wing of the party and had come to it through Marxism, so he stayed in the Labour fold. But the 1983 election was a disaster for both Labour and the SDP. Thatcher had been unpopular but the Falklands War and a timely economic recovery boosted her popularity, and anyway, the two left parties split each others vote. Consequently there was a landslide, and the Labour party's hard left manifesto is now known as 'the longest suicide note in history', while the SDP's failure to break through saw them forge a pact, and eventually merge, with the Liberal party to form the Liberal Democrats.

This started a period of reflection and the common logic for a generation is that Labour couldn't win with that kind of policy platform, that we had a new pro-business consensus, and that Labour had to adapt, or die. That was the platform of the new leader Neil Kinnock, who basically had to fight down the hard left of the party to try and put them on a footing that reflected the public mood. Kinnock fought two elections in 1987 and 1992, increasing the vote share by about 8% in that time, but they were expected to beat the Conservatives in '92 and that was seen as a failure. Talk began to turn to whether or not there'd ever be another Labour win, or if the Tories would continue to rule for the foreesable future.

This is where the story turns to a question of chance. The next leader of Labour was John Smith, who was expected to become the next Prime Minister. The Conservatives were weakened by things during his tenure and by 1993 they already looked like they'd been in power for too long, so Smith looked like he could almost have become PM almost by default. He was more of a Kinnock-esque figure than what was to follow, more a traditional Labour guy than someone trying to play up to the new centre right consensus, but nevertheless, he was considered the front runner for a next UK general election.

Then in 1994, he had a heart attack, and died. John Major's response in Parliament has gone down in history as one of the great moments for our system, when he told of how in the house they'd share a drink: 'sometimes tea, sometimes not tea'. It was a memorial to Smith's decency but also to the idea that even antagonistic politics didn't need to be without it's respectful side. But I digress. Truth is, our history changed with Smith's heart attack.

While Smith had been the heir apparent in the previous election and won without difficulty, there was a close contest in 1994. All of the options broadly came from modernising forces; the only question was to what extent. Two of the options, John Prescott and Margaret Beckett were older figures, born before and during the war respectively, and I suppose it's probably fair to say that they were in the Kinnock/Smith tradition of moving Labour onto more electable footings without radically redesigning the party.

The third option was the much-younger Blair, backed by a like-minded MP who had decided not to run so as to maximise their chances, Gordon Brown. Blair was really inspired by Bill Clinton's victory and the philosophy of the 'third way', and he won by saying that you'd never beat the Tories just by trimming around the edges: you had to fundamentally change the way people saw the party. The answer was 'New Labour', a political rebranding built on the idea of the 'social' element of socialism mixed with a pro-business, free-market capitalism economic policy. To Blair, Brown, and some of their allies, it represented a chance to continue winning the seats in the industrial towns that had been traditionally Labour voting while regaining trust in rural and Southern England, where support had all but evaporated.

Blair won, rebuilt Labour in his image, and as an essentially centre-right party smashed the Conservatives in the 1997 election. Whether or not this would have happened anyway is up for debate. The Tories were deeply unpopular, and had lurched from crisis to crisis from late 1992 to 1996. But nevertheless, you couldn't argue with Blair's results - you can only beat what is in front of you, as they say in sport. And from losing in 1979, 1983, 1987, and 1992, Blair had not only delivered a victory, but the most decisive victory for any party and any Prime Minister - including Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher - in modern political history. What's more, after a fairly untroubled four years, Blair was able to call an early election and win another landslide with only a marginally reduced majority.

So the hard left basically seethed quietly about what Blair had done to Labour by making it part of the establishment, but he was kinda the king at this point in 2001, y'know? He seemed to have killed off the Tories and there were questions about how long it'd take them to get back to competitiveness, or even if it was even possible. Blair and Brown were presiding over a period of economic stability, they'd been central in bringing about the Good Friday agreement in Northern Ireland, had introduced the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly.... they seemed untouchable.

The beginning of the end started with Iraq. There was a fair bit of support here for the invasion of Afghanistan, but Iraq was a much less popular war from the very start, and to be honest it was a fatal wound for Blair and his.... moral authority to lead, for the lack of a better description. Young people deserted the party in droves for the anti-War Lib Dems. Blair even promised that he wouldn't seek a fourth term ahead of this election. Labour's vote share fell by about 5% in the 2005 election. But the Tories were still essentially seen as unlikeable and unelectable. Under then leader Michael Howard, the Conservatives won back a bunch of seats but they still were well short of threatening Labour in any meaningful way.

And then this is where the story intersects with stuff I've already said. David Cameron won the next Conservative leadership election, attempted to copy Blair and detoxify the Tories. With Blair's authority suspect and the feeling he'd been in power too long, not to mention growing tension between him and Gordon Brown, it was easy for Cameron to look like an attractive proposition in much the same way Blair had benefit from the contrast with Major. In 2006, Cameron started winning in the polls, and in 2007, Blair resigned as PM and leader of the Labour Party. His replacement, Gordon Brown, was elected unopposed and became Prime Minister. Labour became popular again temporarily but the credit crisis ended all that, and though Brown probably did more to help in the aftermath than any other figure in global politics, he took the flak for being in control when the crash happened, and when he was ousted in 2010 by the Cameron/Clegg coalition it was considered the death of New Labour.

Since then, Labour has been in a quandary. It's all moved back to the left at various levels, with an 'I told you so' attitude about some of the excesses of getting into bed with big business and the Rupert Murdoch empire. As they've tried to work out how to proceed and quite where on the political spectrum they should be, Blair has spoken up on occasion as they make moves that he perceives as too far to the left to be electable - he's an outspoken critic of Corbyn for instance. But this doesn't really carry much weight anymore, and the common retort to that is to go back to Iraq (an issue Corbyn defied his leader on and voted against) and ask, why should we take instruction from someone who should be on trial as a war criminal?

And that's basically the long history of Tony Blair in our politics. And yes, I did end up writing more than I expected!

03-28-2019, 01:26 PM
I liked Blair in general, he's been the best leader in my lifetime. That's not to say he wasn't at fault at times, the aforementioned war in Iraq being the main gripe. But he largely oversaw a period of social advancement and in terms of left, central and right, had the right balance for me in terms of my overall political standing.

It's this reason why I fail completely to resonate with either of the major parties. Economically, I tend to prefer the Tories, but in everything else I'm almost always against them. Labour has become unrecognisable (at least for me in my lifetime) and are led by a leader I simply do not trust whatsoever. Corbyn has nice ideas, and I actually think his intention is good, but he would put the country in ruin. Sometimes, we simply can't have nice things without detrimental effects; that's something I don't think Corbyn understands.

In any case, who needs the BBC to explain politics when you have Prime!

Prime Time
03-28-2019, 01:50 PM
Haha, thanks mate!

Y'know, it's a tricky legacy. Because on the one hand, Blair as leader of the opposition was just perfect for the time, and you might say that for a while there, he even played a blinder in government. But the problems of 2008 and the economic crisis are pretty much a direct product of the kind of Thatcherite moves in the 1980s, which New Labour meant being signed up to wholeheartedly. And that's where Blair's big majorities can actually become demerits, because if they'd been bolder on being elected, and had just reigned in some of the speculation, and hadn't continued with the processes of deregulation in the city, then maybe that crisis could have been avoided - maybe being a bit less in thrall to big business could have rendered austerity of the 2010-2019 variety unnecessary.

Then there's Iraq. I mean, on the one hand it's rebounded badly on him and on labour, but to be honest the question of whether you intervene in those situations and whether it's humanitarian or imperialist... that's not really a left vs right issue, in the conventional sense, and doesn't really track well to individual parties.

I suppose the final thing you could say is that supporting the Conservatives on economic policy but no on social policy has it's own name, which is classic liberalism -and if Blair was going to sail that way, why on earth would you be in the Labour party? Does it not make much more sense for him to be a Liberal Democrat? At what point would you just become a cuckoo in the nest? So for all those reasons, and more besides, it's a complicated legacy.

For my part, I think the general sense is that kind of simple left/right thing is outdated, and Blairism just wouldn't work in the contemporary climate. That doesn't mean Corbynism will, either, of course (although Corbyn ran in 2017 on a far more centrist platform than people usually give him credit for, funnily enough). The feeling out there that some people have is that a David Miliband could have won in 2015 had he won the leadership election, but the truth is there's not much to indicate that is the case. Labour's main problem right now is the SNP in Scotland, and a centre-right Labour leader makes their collapse in that area all the more likely.

In conclusion, then, I don't think Blair's vision is particularly relevant anymore. Politics is crying out for something new - hence, I believe, why both Cameron and May have both in their time tried to reshape the Tories to fill the gap in the centre. Labour's answer has been Corbyn, which has... sort of worked, since it has stopped the Conservatives having a clear majority. But the next truly winning philosophy capable of commanding a secure majority will have to transcend questions of left and right somehow, rather than trying to find some Goldilocks path between the two.

03-29-2019, 10:33 AM
I'm so nervous right now.

Prime Time
03-29-2019, 10:48 AM
The May withdrawal agreement has failed for the third time. They tried separating it out from the political declaration, but it still failed by 50 or so, so it's not even really close. She tried everything that she could, but it just can't get over the line.

Right, so now we're crashing out of the EU on April 12th unless there is some sort of improvement on Monday. My guess is that will happen, one way or another, given the mood in the house.

03-29-2019, 10:53 AM
I can't blame you, even Pete's phenomenal posts aren't enough to soothe my tension about the current political mess, over here as well as over there. I have more history questions but first, anything new on the current situation?

EDIT: I see Pete is already on top of it! Any prediction of what will actually happen on Monday, and can it actually resolve this without making a disaster?

Prime Time
03-29-2019, 11:12 AM
To answer the second question first, in our domestic sphere at least, no, there's no result possible at this stage that isn't going to be a disaster for someone. The best we can hope for now is to minimise the damage and hope that we don't take half the world down with us.

Predictions are a risky business right now, but domestically at least I think something will pass on Monday which will give us a way forward. It's dependent on the people's voters/revokers/cabinet not holding out again, but I'm thinking there'll be a lot more fluidity on that day because we need to give the EU reason enough to think that it's worth extending. My gut feeling is that something like the Ken Clarke customs union plan might well pass on Monday, and we'll go forward with an extension from the EU on the principle that we're now trying to negotiate a different withdrawal agreement with that as the new imagined future relationship. It may even be that a couple of 'softer' options make it through, which could mean that we've still got some flexibility. But even if one deal 'softer' than the May deal is on the table, I think there's still a chance - it's even likely - that we'll get something.

Now, with that said, the domestic side is reasonably predictable, but I'm less sure about the EU position on this. I think that they are going to offer us an extension to do a closer deal than the May deal, but they could still turn around and say this is a mess, with no uncertainty, you're on your own and deal with the mess you've made. That's not impossible. I don't think it'll happen, but it's the one thing that makes me say some sort of agreement isn't certain.

The final option is that the EU agree to give us more time and nothing gets passed the house on Monday. In that instance, I'd suggest that the condition will be either a referendum or a general election to be called in the meantime to break the political deadlock. If we can't agree something, there'd be an insistence that any extension was contingent on changing the political landscape to the point where something could get through rather than terminal indecision - even if that thing were to be no deal.

So I see those three options as the most likely. We get something passed on Monday, the EU insist on something to end the deadlock, or we try and do something and they say they've had enough.

03-29-2019, 05:06 PM
You better believe I'll be watching this thread closely on Monday then!

Prime Time
03-29-2019, 05:19 PM
Y'know, I'm actually on the continent on Monday.

Not as if that's relevant in any major way, but it's funny to me that I'll be out of the country while this stuff has been decided.

Prime Time
03-29-2019, 07:35 PM
Right, so there's a minor development, but it ain't so minor. So I'm going to post again on it.

Dominic Grieve has lost a confidence vote with his local Conservative Party, paving the way for deselection.

Why am I talking about this?

Well, for anyone unfamiliar with the British system, the national parties are divided into local, constitutency parties, who might be subdivided again based on local government but who basically determine the party's profile on the level of the basic political unit, the constituency: we work on a principle of each constituency returns one member to parliament and the number of MPs a party returns will decide who determines the Prime Minister, so the constituency parties are quietly essential.

Dominic Grieve is seen as a remain-minded Conservative MP. By effectively ousting him, his local parliamentary party have given him still less reason to stay close to the party line. There's talk this could force him into the path of the independent group, given he'd have some sympathy with their position anyway.

But, long story short, and the long story version of it is very long - the Conservatives might have temporarily lost control over yet another MPs.

Prime Time
03-30-2019, 08:18 AM
Just thought of another option, that I hadn't considered, and it's in many ways the nightmare scenario.

On Monday, Government picks a side. Doesn't matter which. But by the very act of choosing split their own party, which leads to a vote of no confidence.

With hubris, there's no legislation about revocation passed before the no confidence vote is held.

May's government then falls.

At which point the house immediately rises, and preparations for a general election are put in place, with the full knowledge that nothing can now stop an April crash-out, because other than the ministers keeping things ticking over while parliament is being reassembled, there's no one to stop it.

So, yeah. That's also possible.

Samuel 'Plan
03-30-2019, 05:29 PM
A member of the ruling party can put forward a vote of no confidence in their own right? Why would they potentially do themselves out of a job like that? Or are you thinking it would catalyse Labour into calling one by virtue of the government not being able to then even maintain a working majority in supply and demand with the DUP?

Prime Time
03-30-2019, 06:05 PM
As I understand it, they could, because there's technically no distinction between backbenchers of different parties. You're just either in the government, or not. So even though I think you'd be hard pushed to find a historical precedent for it, yeah, it's totally possible in these bizarre days, unless I'm very much mistaken.

As for why... If the government go for a soft option and you're a hard Brexit mp, then maybe you'd see this as the best way to keep your vision of it alive, or to try and change the leadership (given May is bulletproof within her own party for a year).

Labour being activated, as you say, could also bring you to the same point.

04-01-2019, 10:47 AM
So it's Monday........ what's the story?!?

Prime Time
04-01-2019, 02:29 PM
Greetings from a crappy hotel in Denmark!

Vote isn't for an hour or so yet, so it'll be a while before we know. Might even be tomorrow for me, before I'm able to get to grips with all the fallout.

Prime Time
04-01-2019, 05:20 PM
Well, I was wrong. Customs union failed by three. Fucking three.

Nick Boles publicly resigning the Tory whip was quite dramatic though.

Samuel 'Plan
04-01-2019, 06:27 PM
Hard Brexit chances shoot up yet again. This is utter madness - especially because even if one of these indicative options is adopted, the government isn't obligated to pay any attention to it.

Prime Time
04-02-2019, 04:01 AM
Right, so having let this sink in a bit, here's where I think we are.

Not much major change at home, but some softer changes. God knows what the EU position will be. The biggest impact might be the Boles switch.

The reason I say that is that it brings home just how precarious the positions are. It opens the possibility to more people crossing the floor if the Conservatives try and move towards a no deal favoured by the bulk of the tory party and the DUP. And now, already, their confidence and supply majority might be down to just a single vote. It means that the Tories can't afford to lose even someone like Grieve, who has already been potentially deselected by UKIP entryists in his constituency party.

It really is as simple as if two more join Boles, and they and the other ex-tories abstain, while the ex-Labour independent group voted no in a confidence vote, the government would fall, with or without DUP support. Hell, if one more went, they'd have to rely on the speaker to save them.

It's being reported that Hammond is likely to try and shift cabinet behind a compromise to end the impasse. That's something that could bring this to a head, one way or another. If the cabinet backed the Clarke proposal, I expect it would pass. Though it could split the party at this point.

04-02-2019, 05:47 AM
We're doomed.

Although I just read a comment on the Guardian that I think's a good idea - May should bring her WA to the house again, but amend it with a promise of a referendum that's her deal or revoke A50.

We know there's no majority in Parliament for no deal, so a referendum with it on the card is unlikely to get approved in my opinion. But I think a referendum between leaving with the deal or not leaving is a clear choice, will not leave any open questions of a three way referendum ending up with 40% remain but 60% split between the two leave options, and probably find some support.

04-02-2019, 09:27 PM
Seems like things are getting crazy heated in your neck of the woods... what are the chances that a “bad vote” leads to a revolt amongst the populace? I could teach you guys a thing or two about revolution... just sayin’. 😏

Prime Time
04-03-2019, 05:04 PM
Just got in to find all todays events. As you can imagine, a lot to catch up on!

To answer the last question... If you mean civil disobedience as a direct result of any vote, then slim to none, barring a small group. There's going to be protests regardless of what happens now, but serious revolt just won't happen.

Now, if the economic consequences are dire... Who knows, down the line.

The Dude
04-04-2019, 12:40 PM
Theres already a shortage of beds at mental health hospitals and if the NHS can't get hold of anti-psychotics theres gonna be serious problems.

I don't want to be held accountable for going nuts because I'm not medicated. I always comply with the Dr's and take my medication exactly as they tell me to.

This Brexit crap is a complete mess. A second vote isn't fair, but then the general public were lied to.

04-09-2019, 05:18 AM
The Cooper Bill passing is extraordinary, to me. Very interesting development.

I still can't see a way that May's deal is going to get through, and this working with Labour stuff is all about the future relationship - and if May is going to go anyway, it will be immediately torn up and shat on by whichever Eurosceptic the Tory party elect. Anything they agree won't be worth the paper it's written on, unless the agreement is properly reopened and rewritten prior to the formal withdrawal date.

We're now, what, four days away from the withdrawal date? Surely we'll be extending and doing EU elections now.

Prime Time
04-11-2019, 05:14 AM
Right, so where are we now? Withdrawal postponed until October. We have to have EU elections unless we're out by May the 22nd. Theresa May might fall any day now if her backbenchers are to be believed.

The more clarity we get, the more things stay really fuzzy.

Prime Time
04-26-2019, 07:06 AM
Just when you thought the Brexit stuff calming down would lead to a quiet few months....

Reports from a secret intelligence meeting about Huawei get leaked to the press, and there's talk that it could be as part of a manoeuvre to become the next Prime Minister. But there's uproar and now full talk of a leak enquiry. Liam Fox has already had to deny involvement in the leak.

So yeah, fun times.

04-26-2019, 08:10 AM
Educate me Pete, what's the significance of the story?

Prime Time
04-26-2019, 08:22 AM
Well, the background is the same situation you've had with the Huawei case in the US. Do we trust them when there are cybersecurity concerns. Broadly speaking, the US are quite hostile to Huawei, the Germans are quite open-minded, and there are two different camps in place in the UK and it's unclear which way we are going to jump. Hence why they're having the discussions about it, I bet.

The scandal aspect of it is that they had a National Security Council meeting to discuss it. As you can imagine, those things are top secret, and one of the central principles is that everyone involved keeps quiet so that the intelligence people can feel confident about passing information on to the politicians. And, for the first time ever, information from the NSC has leaked to the press - within hours of the meeting taking place, by the look of things.

It's a sign at some level of the weakness of the current government, but it's been read in some quarters as a potential move to try and put the leaker (or an ally) in a position to try and inherit the role of Prime Minister when May's time finally runs out.

But yeah, the short version is that a group of government ministers who have all signed the official secrets act went into a room, heard some top secret stuff, and at least one of them used it to stab their colleagues in the back, possibly with the goal of furthering their own career by putting classified info of national importance out there.

The fallout is that ministers are falling over themselves to deny their own involvement, and others are calling for a full inquiry and the head of who is responsible.

04-26-2019, 09:09 AM
Gotcha... I actually wasn't too familiar with Huawei in the first place, but after looking them up a bit it's a little clearer.

Funny how politics have their leaks the dirtsheets just like wrestling, eh? ;)

Prime Time
04-26-2019, 09:14 AM
Haha, yeah. Well, this is quite the scandal now despite the current chief whip saying this is one of the worst cabinet's in history for leaks. Which is quite the admission, given that it's his job to stop them leaking.

Prime Time
05-01-2019, 02:55 PM
He's denied it, but defence secretary Gavin Williamson has been sacked over the Huawei leak.

Also, MP Fiona Onasanya has been recalled by her constituents, so we're going to get a by-election. No indication if she'll stand as an independent but Labour have already picked a new candidate and there's always a chance it could go Tory again, as it was from 2005-2017.

For the love of Terry Funk
05-01-2019, 03:19 PM
Call for a criminal investigation now too

Prime Time
05-02-2019, 06:07 PM
Yes, though I'd be staggered if that came to pass.

Going to watch an hour or so of election coverage tonight before bed. Lib Dems expected to do quite well.

Samuel 'Plan
05-03-2019, 03:25 PM
Can't lie - had a reaaaaal boost watching the results come in today, even if I feel like it doesn't really amount to all that much.

Prime Time
05-03-2019, 06:20 PM
I suppose the question is how much does it amount to, in the final reckoning.

I'm not sure the Lib Dems stuff is anything more than a historical corrective, but the Tory performance is monumentally, historically bad, when viewed in the full context.

Labour is poor. Not really awful, but definitely a big worry for them.

Green results might be the real takeaway from this in many ways, more significant than the LD Revival in a lot of respects.

Could be a lot of internal pressure on the PM again after those results.

Samuel 'Plan
05-04-2019, 03:30 AM
Is it a protest more than anything do you think, or is there anything in th swing towards explicit Remain parties?

Prime Time
05-04-2019, 03:45 AM
I think Laura Kuenssberg said it best when she said it was undoubtedly both, but in what proportion, no one knows. So to be honest your guess is as good as mine.

I know that the Greens improvement is based on local factors in several places and they've been grinding away in many places, so I'm reluctant to say it's a simple protest in some of those cases.

So some of this was probably coming already, some might be hardcore remain voters swinging, and some might be a simple protest that you shouldn't read a lot into.

Samuel 'Plan
05-04-2019, 02:26 PM
That seems fair.

I did immediately want to drive my head through a window when the first thing Leave politicians began spouting was essentially, "Everyone voting for explicitly pro-Remain parties is because they want us to get on with leaving." Then I paused and thought, actually, the way this country has gone, there's probably a small amount of inexplicable truth in that - given it's the same electorate that got us to this point.

Prime Time
05-05-2019, 10:11 PM
I can't sleep, so I thought I'd do a big post in here with a bit of analysis on the local elections results.

First, why is it such a disaster for the Conservatives - aren't local elections just a chance to kick the government?

Well yes, in part. But the thing that has to be taken into account is the question of scale, and where the parties start from in the beginning. So to put it into perspective, in 1997 the local elections were on the same day as the General election. That boosted turnout and meant that Labour took a lot of seats that they wouldn't normally, because the scale of that landslide was massive. In 1999, they naturally came back down to earth and lost 1100 seats. That was the last time that a party lost 1000 council seats in an election, until this past week.

What makes this more of an issue for the Conservatives is that they aren't starting from such a high position - to lose that kind of number from a relatively weak position means losing in all sorts of places that should be safe, true blue Tory. To be in such a position and to suffer the worst result since 1995, when the Tories were massively divided and basically unelectable, means this is a historically significant result and easily the weakest position a government has been in this century,

Following on from that, why is it such a disaster for Labour, given they only lost 80 odd seats and the government are in such disarray?

Well, the first answer is that they shouldn't be losing seats at all. In any typical political landscape, Labour should be making net gains from the Conservatives in a situation like this, and not just in small numbers. So to be down seats in the final reckoning is particularly worrying because it suggests that they just aren't on the way to power in the way that we might anticipate with such a weak governing party.

But the other reason is that expectations were raised by recent polling. In the weeks leading up to the election, they were said to be waaaay ahead of the Conservatives - and while we weren't thinking they were going to be getting a majority they were certainly looking at being the biggest party, one that could be propped up by another party and take the country forward. They were supposed to finish 6 points up on the Tories and come within a few seats on winning an election. Instead, the local election results suggested they were essentially in a dead heat nationally. So they underperformed expectations going in, as well as not hitting what we'd expect in a more normal time.

And with that, I'm starting to get tired. So I get this has worked. Perhaps more another time....

05-06-2019, 05:29 PM
So forgive my ignorance, but the who the heck is the election benefiting then?

Prime Time
05-07-2019, 06:41 AM
Three groups did quite well out of the election. The Liberal Democrats and the Greens, who happen to be the two main anti-Brexit parties (which may or may not be significant), are the first two. And then the third are the various collections of independents and local groupings, who either have direct local causes or have benefit primarily from a strong 'plague on all your houses' message being sent to the main parties.

First, the Lib Dems. They had their best performance in local election history, at least going back to the merger between the old Liberal party and the SDP in the 1980s. Yes, they were starting from a low base. They got absolutely hammered when these seats were contested in 2015, when they were effectively punished for their role in the coalition by one group of their voters, while the others voted Tory, overwhelmingly, to ward off the spectre of a Labour/SNP coalition (if you believe what you read). Long story short, their vote here is, in part, a historical corrective to where they have been in the last few years, emblematic of them being somewhat forgiven for their transgressions and getting back to where you'd expect them to be in their traditional areas of strength.

What makes it interesting, though, is that they are the most obvious bastion of pro-EU sentiment out of all our mainstream parties, so the question now being raised is whether or not that return to form in traditional areas, such as the South West, or their growth in places where they have a strong MP, like North Norfolk, can be read as in some way a public mood shift against Brexit, or whether this is a simple protest vote without much behind it. And there's no way to tell in all honesty - but what that means is that everyone fights over the message.

Now, to the Greens. They are in a similar position to the Lib Dems in a sense, in that if you don't know that they are for the EU then you must not know much about them. They wear that on the sleeve proudly. But they are also - as the name suggests - the most environmentally conscious party, and they've had their platform in the news a lot lately because of the climate protests that have been going on in London and elsewhere. There are also significant local factors at work. They've been building and building up slowly in a lot of areas, aiming for second place finishes to try and get the idea that they are valid contenders into people's minds, and then to push on from there. It's an idea that has worked in some areas and has seen them win a lot of support in Brighton, including getting an MP there. Finally, there are plenty of places where councils are trying to build housing on green belt land, which is always something pretty unpopular and I suspect they are able to win over a number of votes from people on that specific issue.

Still, the question of Brexit comes back into it here. People are reasonably asking could they and the Lib Dems have done that well if it really was all about Brexit? The Greens performance is actually even more striking in a sense, because though the numbers are smaller they start from a far smaller position as a party. They've actually more than doubled they amount that they have in this election cycle. They are up 194 councillors, but their total now is only 265, showing you were they were before.

The final group are the independents, and the residents' associations, etc. The independent figure is actually staggering, with a net gain of more than 600 seats, even winning control of two councils in the process. Remarkable really. This one is simpler to interpret though, as it's quite clearly going to be a combination of local factors and dissatisfaction with the two mainstream parties. You can't really infer anything about the larger national and international issues safely in this case, because no one really knows what the councillors think about these issues and, more significantly, won't really have any credible platform that relates to those issues because they have no responsibility for them or involvement with the people that do.

So those three groups benefit from the results quite a lot, but what that does to the national picture is, as you can probably gather, as clear as mud.

The one thing that all the polling has been suggesting is that the swing voters who don't turn up for local elections but only for the main event have been breaking towards Labour. Whether that is true or not, no one can really be sure, though all the polling suggests anything from Labour being the largest party by just 10 seats all the way up to Labour coming within a handful of seats of a majority. The council election results thrown up naturally suggest more of an as you were, so who actually knows.

But two things are in the mix that could change the complexion quite dramatically. One is that the European elections will happen if we can't agree a deal, and the two new parties are going to be on the ballot. What that will do is show much more clearly what the mood of the nation is, because the local issues question will be taken out of the agenda on one hand, and on the other there will be a party on the ballot known by the simple name of 'Brexit'. If the Brexit party do amazingly well, then these results will be written off as a protest. If they split the Tory vote but the Lib Dem/Green performance continues, or Change UK do very well (unlikely), then I think that would be taken as reflective of a major shift and would see some sort of change. So one way or another these elections will be much more indicative.

The second thing that could change it is that Graham Brady, the unofficial leader of the Tory backbenchers, is meeting with Theresa May today to discuss her timetable for departure, and there's a lot of chatter around Westminster that if she refuses to go then they might take the unprecedented (and decidedly un-Conservative, as many have pointed out) step of amending the rules to their constitution so that they can challenge her again within the same year.

Now, if May goes the Tories short term electoral chances probably go up somewhat. But the overall picture doesn't become any clearer without a shift in the electorate or in parliament, so you wonder what it'd mean for any successor long term.

05-07-2019, 04:44 PM
Obviously you've still got a mess on your hands over there, but as an American who has only know the two party system it's very heartwarming to hear how many other parties can get into the conversation on your side. I'm sure we have our fair share of Green Party and Libertarians occupying small positions in certain areas but it doesn't really penetrate the public consciousness at all, except for exceptions like Sanders.

Prime Time
05-09-2019, 11:42 AM
You know, that has a reasonably interesting history in itself, because for years the amount of the vote going to the smaller parties has been growing. In the 1950 General Election, the main two parties won effectively 90% of the vote. In 1979, it was 81%. By 1992, that'd fallen again, to 76%. Even as Blair's electoral freight train gathered steam, that number actually dropped in 1997, and it would carry on gradually diminishing until the end of New Labour in 2010, when it was down to just 65%. There was a marginal rebound in 2015, but the number was hovering around the mid-60s. Long story short, the Conservatives had won only one majority since 1992, and that was a bit of a fluke - Labour lost a huge amount of votes and seats in Scotland in 2016. With the two main parties pretty evenly matched and their total vote share now only around 2/3 of the electorate, most of the talk was about the end of the two-party system and a lot of compromise and coalition in the near future.

Then, 2017 came along, and out of nowhere, they shot back up to 82.4% again - so there were then a lot of conversations about whether or not that was all premature talk, and maybe they were going to come out of this just fine. But then these local elections tell a whole other story, so if anything the impression is that 2017 might be an outlier, for all kinds of reasons.

Interesting couple of days in politics. May has refused to rule out leaving before Phase one of Brexit is complete, risking the ire of her backbenchers. Johnny Mercer has effectively resigned the whip, saying he'll vote with the government on Brexit but on everything else they can go and whistle (over what he sees as the government's treatment of veterans) - in short, the government's minority is nearly at the end of its rope. And finally, in the event of a leadership contest, Esther McVey has said that she'll run.

05-09-2019, 12:07 PM
Could read a book of this stuff by you Pete, truly.

Prime Time
05-10-2019, 10:23 AM
In that case, I'll speculate a little. Bear with me, we're going into a land of guesswork.

So, my thinking is that the general drift away shows a basic failure of the two main parties to appeal to broad enough sections of the public. In times of great political polarity, you get the argument that it's because you have two diverse camps that force people into political pigeonholes and that actually, most people are down the middle and that you want a moderate party to come in and hoover up the votes (giving rise to the SDP in the 1980s and Change UK recently). When Labour were mimicking the Conservatives, the criticism came from the flanks, and the argument was that there was not enough difference between the two parties to mean that there was enough to vote for - that people were dissatisfied with the range of opinions offered by the main two parties, effectively. That was the common argument of some left wing parties, particularly the hard left like the Socialist Worker's Party and the like.

In 2017, I think Brexit is the main reason that everyone comes back to the main two parties, even though it wasn't really a major electoral issue for either of them because they were - on paper at least - in a rough kind of agreement on it. But what I think happens is that the Tories winning over their skeptics on the right wing that had been voting for UKIP puts a huge boost onto their numbers. The UKIP vote fell by almost 11 points, and with the Conservatives co-opting the single issue that motivated that single-issue party, it's likely that they all went there. I think the knock on effect is that the polls for the Tories were so strong, that everyone who opposed the Tories (especially those who had been out to the left of Labour from 1997-2015) all came into the Labour camp. So even though they weren't actually being pro-European, they ended up getting a whole bunch of votes just from the need for everyone else to club together to prevent a Conservative landslide - which became much more of an issue as the Tory campaign limped on. It was so uninspiring I've heard it suggested that they were one more week of campaign away from Corbyn in number 10.

So, where does all that leave us after these elections, and with both parties losing support again? I'm minded that parties tend to bumble along for the most part, but that the birth and death of parties tends to come in the fire of the huge issues. And Brexit could well be one of them. I could talk about the formation of the Liberal party in the aftermath of the repeal of the Corn Laws, but the truth of the matter is that the best parallel I can think of here is the 19th century American divide over slavery, where both Democrats and Whigs were parties with both pro and anti-slavery camps. The Democrats were able to ride it out but the Whigs disappeared from history, while the Republicans formed and were actually able to do quite well because they better reflected the issues of the day.

While it's obviously a very different issue, in pure process terms this could be a similar situation. The parties will have to reform the internal coalitions by which they work to better fit the electorate and the issues that we face today, because if they can't there's a decent chance that they'll cease to exist - and the Brexit Party and Change UK, never mind any of the others, already offer two ready made groups that could take their place.

05-10-2019, 02:40 PM
I'm all for the changing of parties. Something fresh in politics is often a very good thing. Really interesting stuff, Pete! Feel free to speculate any time!

Prime Time
05-13-2019, 08:00 AM
So the Brexit party polled very well ahead of the new European elections and that has got a lot of people reacting. They outperformed the Conservatives in that poll. Not much of a surprise though, given these are being called the 'ultimate protest vote'.

But if that were reflected in a general election (HUGELY unlikely but go with it) they'd have a seat count in the 40s, which would make them the fourth biggest party in Westminster. Perhaps even third depending on the SNP's results. That eliminates any chance of a majority in the new parliament, you'd think.

05-13-2019, 11:48 AM
I find it weird that people are voting for a single issue party who are against the idea of the EU, yet if elected the candidates will be taking a seat in the EU parliament.

Like, none of these votes will actually help the process of getting the withdrawal through Parliament. It's Farage and his crones just using a populist message to secure themselves a free meal ticket on the EU MEP wages again.

Prime Time
05-14-2019, 05:59 AM
I suppose they are thinking that if they can pressure the Tories into sticking to a hard Brexit kinda path through inflicting an embarrassing result on them here, they might get what they want down the line. At least, that'll be voters thinking. In practice, you're right - nothing really can be achieved by this (unless you consider sending a load of wreckers to the EU as an incentive for them to want rid of us at any cost) and it will, in practice, just mean Nigel gets another term (or as much of it as we're still in the EU for) on the expenses train.

The EU elections are going to go very well for them, I imagine. But the general election is a different kettle of fish. For one thing, polls always swing back towards normality in the run up to a general election, and so this won't stick. Many people deserting the Tories will return once the 'scary Corbyn' rhetoric starts to dial up. Second, Theresa May isn't likely to be in charge, and whether you have a sympathetic or condemnatory reading of her position I think we can all agree she's an electoral millstone around their collective neck. And third, first past the post actively hinders new parties, so they can't just do well to get a big number of seats - they have to go out and surpass each and every candidate. A big ask, in a lot of places in Britain.

Now with that said - if the goal isn't 40+ seats but is just getting to be big enough to compare with the Lib Dems, that's absolutely on the cards if they can leach away enough of the Conservative vote. The downside is that if the Labour vote stays fairly strong and there is reason to believe the Brexit Party vote will come disproportionately from the Tories/UKIP bloc, then it almost guarantees giving power to their political opponents, albeit in a ridiculously fractious coalition.

Because here's the thing. The 'left' in Britain, broadly conceived, is always fragmented between different parties, whereas the right is smaller but holds together through it's political cohesiveness. But while the left is fragmented, there's one big block, and then a lot of little, smaller parties that take a share. The Brexit party threatens to turn that on its head, not only by smashing the political cohesiveness of the right wing but by creating two blocks of roughly equal size - neither of which is big enough to win nationally.

What that means is down the line the two will have to come back together, in one form or another, but for the time being god only knows what that will mean for our politics. It could be 'out of government for a generation' territory, if the rift really blows up and is prolonged.

For the love of Terry Funk
05-18-2019, 01:41 PM
May is gone in a matter of weeks by all accounts

Prime Time
05-18-2019, 06:04 PM
Might be for the best for the Tories. Should point out that the poll is bullshit for all sorts of reasons, but say for arguments sake it held up - and it was a poll of Westminster voting intentions rather than for the European Parliament - then the results would be seismic.

We're talking Brexit party picking up 90 seats, Tories worse off than they were in 1997, and Labour the only party with half a chance of forming a government.

As I say - these numbers have a chance of holding somewhere in between 0-1%, but even so, they are reason enough for anyone wearing a blue rosette to think that a change is needed solely to avoid a bloodbath.

05-21-2019, 09:31 AM
So, a 'Brexit New Deal' is apparently going to be announced in a couple of hours, which seems to be double headed in it's intentions - one is to show that the Government is making concessions on some points that have been raised during the cross party talks, the other seems to be to bind the hands of a future PM so they can't break the detail of this deal.

That second point is key, because one of the major sticking points for me had been that anything the Government offered by concession was too easy for the next PM to turn around and tear up. Now it seems like they might at least make a deviation from the agreement bill have to be voted on by Parliament.

Prime Time
05-22-2019, 05:24 AM
D'you know, in many ways it was actually one of her better speeches, but there's a feeling of too little, too late about it all, and she's so wounded at this point that it's actually looking like it might just be the ammunition the hardliners on her own side need to finish her off. Be surprised if she hadn't been toppled by this time next week, by the way it sounds.

Then again - haven't we said all this several times already? She's like the proverb about cockroaches and Keith Richards. We might have to add Theresa May's Premiership to that aphorism soon enough.

Changing the subject from Brexit for a moment, this situation with British Steel is fucking dire. We're not in the kind of position as a country where we can afford to see a company like that collapse and 25,000 people (largely in areas that are already hard-up) get put out of work at a stroke. An absolute catastrophe.

05-22-2019, 01:51 PM
What's the story with British Steel, Pete?

Prime Time
05-22-2019, 09:40 PM
Can't claim to be an expert, but as I understand it there was an Indian company called Tata steel who owned the second biggest set of steelworks in the country. They sold the company on a few years ago, and it was rebranded by some private equity group called Greybull. They called the new company 'British Steel', something which harks back to the old nationalised industry but doesn't seem to be anything to do with it. They initially returned the company to profit for a couple of years.

But there's been a downturn in the business, largely it seems due to trade with the EU drying up over Brexit uncertainty and in part because of the US/China trade war that's going on. They've been placed into compulsory insolvency after rescue talks with the government broke down. The situation is now that the Government has had to take over and are looking for a buyer, but unless they do or decide to nationalise the company (unlikely right now, to be honest) then there's 5,000 jobs at risk initially, and another 20,000 in the supply chain that depend on the steel that these people make. They are also based in depressed areas, as these heavy industrial jobs often are, so the big question is where do these people go for work if they lose their jobs?

Basically, it's a disaster. Another one.

European elections tomorrow. Be interesting to see if the tactical voting materialises in some remain seats. Also interesting to see just how far the Tories will fall, and if that will be the final catalyst for May to lose power. Or maybe that's the wrong word, since she's in government but hardly governing as things stand.

Dominic Grieve has apparently said he'll resign the Tory whip if a new leader tried to force through a hard brexit. So it's looking like new leader soon, and if they are from that wing, it'll be someone who will go to the country to try and change parliament. And then all bets are off.

05-23-2019, 06:04 AM
Agree with you on British Steel, Prime - a serious mess, and one that there's most likely no good way out of.

Am I right in understanding we won't know what these election results are until Sunday, due to when votes are held in the various EU countries?

May due to have a meeting with the 1922 Committee tomorrow, supposedly. I can't see how she keeps clinging on to power much longer now, but the biggest question mark is what happens with relation to the withdrawal agreement when/if she goes - and that will depend on who comes in.

Part of me is sat here secretly hoping for Prime Minister Ken Clarke...

Prime Time
05-23-2019, 06:27 AM
Haha, Ken should have been Tory leader in 2001, when the Tory membership chose IDS for that disastrous stretch over him. Would be very interesting to replay 2001-2005 with Blair up against an impressive parliamentarian.

I think we might not actually know what is happening with the Euro Elex results until Monday morning, by the time they are all in.

Interesting fact doing the rounds, when the Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom quit the government, she became the 36th ministerial resignation under May (so since July 2016). In a comparable length of time, Gordon Brown lost half as many. Blair and Thatcher both lost less than that number in ten and twelve years respectively. I mean, it's not totally her fault because it's been an impossible hand to play, but a testament to how difficult it has been to get consensus.

Prime Time
05-24-2019, 07:35 AM
D'you know, in many ways it was actually one of her better speeches, but there's a feeling of too little, too late about it all, and she's so wounded at this point that it's actually looking like it might just be the ammunition the hardliners on her own side need to finish her off. Be surprised if she hadn't been toppled by this time next week, by the way it sounds.

There we go. May steps down, and we have our date. June 7th.

05-24-2019, 08:25 AM
Finally... The Rock has...

Oh wait, wrong catchphrase.

Finally, she has stepped down. Now for the next, and probably worse, candidate to step forward.

Prime Time
05-25-2019, 10:38 AM
So, a few notes on all the runners and riders.

Boris Johnson - 2/1 FAV

The early favourite, and likely to win with the members if he makes it to the final two. The catch for Boris is that he's not hugely popular in the parliamentary party, and would run the risk of losing a few more of the moderate MPs if he were to get the nod. As we know, the government is in no real position to lose anyone. A tricky one - instinctively socially quite liberal according to those close to him but in recent years quite admiring of Trump and met with Steve Bannon when he came to Britain. Politically very savvy but has messed up leadership bids before and given that a lot of the PCP will want to see anyone else but him get it, then I wouldn't take this as a done deal until he's made it to the final two. His main advantage is that he has fairly strong Brexit credentials and so could hold that wing of the Party together if the other candidate looked to be someone tainted by May's strategy.

Dominic Raab - 6/1

Raab at second favourite indicates the bookies are expecting the next leader to come from the harder Brexit wing of the Tory party. Raab was the Secretary at DexEU for a few months in 2018 but left because he didn't like the direction May was taking the negotiations, so he's one of several untainted in the eyes of the right wing - though he may struggle when facing the general electorate as he was seen as resigning over the deal that he was in charge of negotiating. He's been backed by several already, including the Daily Telegraph who see him as a much more serious and credible Brexiter alternative than the bumbling Hugh Grant-esque style of Johnson. There's plenty of minor things that you can pick up on in his CV but to be honest, he's much more of a blank slate than some of the other, more famous candidates.

Michael Gove - 10/1

Considered the smartest man in the Tory Party and really the idealist/philosopher of this generation, but I wonder how many people out there are going to hold the fact that he carved up Johnson's leadership challenge in 2016 against him? It certainly seemed to hurt his chances and he was unable to put up any real kind of challenge himself after knifing his Brexit partner in the back. There's probably going to be a trust issue there, and between that, his odd demeanour and his unpopularity as Education Secretary from 2010-2014 could mean that there'd be some real doubt about ever going to the electorate and asking them to make Gove PM. But if Tory MPs are looking for a Brexiter compromise and people want to stick to candidates with more recognition, then Gove's rep as the intellect of the party could see him come through.

Jeremy Hunt - 12/1

It seems laughable that Jeremy Hunt is in this position, but here we are. Ridiculously unpopular in some sections of the country for his time as Secretary of Health, but has generally kept his head down at the Foreign Office and as a holder of one of the major offices of state and someone who hasn't really made many waves, he could be the person they alight on if people start trying to figure out a compromise candidate that might be able to appeal to all areas of the party. His support for remain might count against him in some quarters, even though he's abandoned that since the referendum. On the other hand, his main selling point could be his loyalty to both Cameron and May before him, something that the party might feel they need in a fractious time.

Rory Stewart - 17/1

I'm surprised to see him so high up the list, but here he is. Probably the highest ranking explicitly soft-Brexit candidate we've had and seems to be the way a lot of the 'Customs Union' votes are trending at the moment. I don't see it personally - he's not really on many people's radar and has a slightly unusual manner which I think will mean that he'll struggle to convince people that he can run a General Election campaign. A major plus point might be his military background which could make it hard to make the 'soft Brexit is treason' argument stick to him. But who really knows at this point.

Andrea Leadsom - 17/1

Has done herself no harm in her time as the Leader of the Commons and had a few tributes from across the house when she resigned, but there's a fair few things that will count against her. The issues that counted against her when she ran in 2016 will not have gone away and there'd be even more scrutiny this time around as she is a more realistic prospect. I suppose the easy question is, she was head-to-head with May and considered a worse option, and we've just seen what the better option left us with - so where's the advantage in taking her? I could see her playing well with the members and she's got Brexit credentials to shore up support on the right - but you wonder where she's going to be able to overhaul more heavy-hitting people with similar positions.

Matt Hancock 21/1

The current health secretary often gets characterised as someone who is actually a liberal but who joined the Conservative Party because for people of that class it just would never have occurred to him to do anything else. He's seen as being very much in the same kind of mould as Jeremy Hunt, the person who could come through as a moderate consensus candidate - and if the party need to heal and people think not just about Brexit but where you go regarding a general election, he could actually be a real dark horse. I've already heard it said of his candidacy that he's a better option than Hunt in this respect.

Penny Mordaunt - 21/1

The first female defence secretary in history has her Brexit credentials completely lined up, a military background, and would play well with the Tory base. Could actually be a smart option for the Brexiter wing if they want to take somebody without too much baggage (though the same could be said about Raab). There aren't many people with hard Brexiter credentials who could also be seen as people who were unswervingly loyal to her bosses and she can tick both of those boxes. I think the biggest demerit on the record is that she said some things in the Brexit debate that were patently untrue, but paradoxically that might actually be a benefit at getting over the first hurdle. Don't rule her out just yet.

Sajid Javid and Graham Brady - 26/1

Both undeclared as yet, but both Eurosceptics who'll be seen as uniting candidates. Brady is very well respected within the party, while there's an idea out there that in this version of the Tory Party Javid is now a moderate, and he'd be a modernising figure in some big ways and might do better out in the country if an election were to be called.

Steve Baker - 29/1

Is considering running. Will attract some support early on as he's the most fundamentalist of the names on the list when it comes to Brexit, but I expect him to drop out early and throw his support behind one of the other Brexiter candidates.

Esther McVey - 67/1

The longest shot on the list and that doesn't bode well considering she's declared and plenty of others haven't. Most of the comments I see about her call her evil. She does have a media background which could potentially mean she'll play better if she were calling the shots, and there's a version of this in which she gets the job, plays quite well (much better than Corbyn) and is actually quite successful. But right now this feels like a really long shot and I feel like the field might be too crowded for her to get momentum.

Prime Time
05-26-2019, 05:47 PM
Euro Elex results in so far suggest a polarised country as we already knew, but stepping back for a second, historically fascinating to see the main two parties just getting annihilated - Conservative party might finish as low as sixth. Staggering.

Samuel 'Plan
05-27-2019, 01:47 AM
Still, larger vote share nationally for explicit Remain parties gave me a bit of a smile, even if the press narrative is again, predictably, all about that odious man instead.

Prime Time
05-27-2019, 04:17 AM
It sort of depends on how you allocate Labour votes, because as people from across the rest of the spectrum have been pointing out, it's difficult to know exactly what a vote for a Labour MEP is supposed to signify.

Refine it a bit and throw out the Labour and Tory votes and make it the starker choice between 2nd ref and hard Brexit, and there's actually a pretty clear majority: 40% to 35%, with the Tories and Labour votes basically still up for grabs on either side if that's what the choice comes down to in the end.

There's another way of thinking about this - if the 28 seats the Brexit Party have so far are made up mostly of the 23 seats that UKIP won last time, and I think without a decent look at the results that might be a pretty fair first thought, then that means they've taken five combined from Labour and the Tories. That means that 18 of the mainstream party seats haven't gone to the right wing, but have gone to the Pro-Remain parties. I haven't been able to look at the results closely enough yet but it looks like there might be a narrative out there that suggests the Tories in particular are losing more of their 2014 voters on their left flank than on their right.

The Greens passing 2m votes is another major landmark for them. And a quick note for 'Plan, this is already guaranteed to be the Lib Dems best Euro Election result in history. I think we have to recognise that far from the coalition killing them for a generation, the Lib Dems are back.

Prime Time
05-27-2019, 07:11 AM
Sorry for another double post but I got quite interested in analysing the votes in a bit more detail and working out where the votes from the main parties had gone in a bit more detail. Now there's obviously a bit of interpretation in this because votes don't necessarily 'go' in the way they would do in an FPTP election, but this assumes that UKIP votes have switched to Brexit, Labour votes have gone to Green, and that the remaining switches are from Tory/Labour to Lib Dem as appropriate. So this is my best guess. If you don't want the regional breakdown, skip to the bottom for the headline figures.

East Midlands
Leave 59% in 2016
Change since 2014:
2 from UKIP to Brexit
1 from Tories to Brexit
1 from Tories to Lib Dems

East of England
Leave 56% in 2016
Change since 2014:
3 UKIP to Brexit
2 Conservative to LD
1 Labour to Green

Remain 60% in 2016
Change since 2014:
1 UKIP to Brexit
1 Tory to Brexit
1 Labour to LD
1 Conservative to LD

North East
Leave 58% in 2016
Change since 2014:
1 Labour to Brexit
1 UKIP to Brexit

North West
Leave 54% in 2016
Change since 2014:
3 UKIP to Brexit
2 Tories to LD
1 Labour to Green

South East
52% leave in 2016
Change since 2014:
4 UKIP to Brexit
2 Tories to LD

South West
53% leave in 2016
Change since 2014:
2 UKIP to Brexit
1 Tory to Brexit
1 Tory to Lib Dem
1 Labour to Lib Dem

53% leave in 2016
Change since 2014:
1 UKIP to Brexit
1 Tory to Brexit

West Midlands
59% leave in 2016
Change since 2014:
3 UKIP to Brexit
1 Tory to LD
1 Labour to Green

Yorkshire and the Humber
58% leave in 2016
Change since 2014:
3 UKIP to Brexit
1 Labour to Green
1 Tory to LD

Brexit gains from Tories: 4
Brexit gains from Labour: 1
LD/Green gains from Lab/Tory total: 17

EDIT: Scotland result is now in.

1 UKIP to Brexit
1 Labour to SNP
1 Labour to Lib Dem

Northern Ireland takes ages because they use Single-Transferable Vote but looks like it could be a gain for the Alliance Party which roughly translates to a right-to-left gain. But perhaps they won't hold on to that one. The other two will stay Sinn Fein and DUP as NI doesn't tend to moderate very well.

05-27-2019, 11:44 AM
That's a great breakdown, Pete!

Prime Time
05-28-2019, 06:54 AM
Thanks Mizzie.

I suppose the next question is what do the numbers actually mean? Well, on the one hand I think it's fairly clear that based on the difference between 2014 and 2019, that the two main parties are losing much more of their votes to the Pro-European Parties than they are to the Hard Brexit parties. Labour aren't losing anywhere near as many to Brexit as people thought they might, with only the one in the NE going in that direction and no evidence that there's much happening elsewhere. Meanwhile, the Tories are losing twice as many MEPs to the Lib Dems as they are to Brexit.

But of course, it's not that easy, because it never could be. Using the 2014 elections as a comparison is fair enough in some respects because it's the last time the seats were contested and makes for the easiest comparison, but it was also the high water mark of UKIP under Farage. A Brexit Party supporter might be inclined to say that for them to form, exist for a few weeks, and not only equal but better that performance, is itself a huge success. A Brexiter in the Tory Party might also say that the vast majority of those voters returned to the Tories for the 2015 and 2017 UK General Elections (something that might not be true in the next one if you believe the latest Ashcroft Poll) and that these people are natural Tory voters, and that they should be doing more to win them back than playing to the centre ground. Essentially, one could argue that enough water has passed under the bridge since 2014 that a simple comparison isn't particularly productive - and I think most people on the right wing of British politics might make that case. But there's also definitely a case for looking at it the other way, which is that the Tories are doing at least as much harm to themselves by losing the free market wing of the Party to LD.

For Labour the equation seems to be simpler - that actually you just have to take those losses in the North East to prevent the far greater losses to the Greens and Lib Dems that come from their fairly muddled stance so far. There's no way to come out of this flawless, but someone on the pro-EU side could argue that had they made themselves the natural party of opposition to Brexit then maybe the majority of the LD/Green surge could have gone to them and maybe they'd have 'won' this election? A less fractured opposition beating Brexit into second place would create a very different narrative. A note of caution on this, though - we don't know how many more Labour voters might have deserted them for Brexit had they taken on a more explicitly 'remain' position. We know they are losing ground in the North East and nowhere else as it stands but there's no real way of knowing if that would be replicated elsewhere with a firmer position. That said, they're haemorrhaging votes on their left flank over the issue, so I'd argue that they have nothing to lose. The worst would be that you are damned if you and damned if you don't, while there's at least some way of winning out by coming out strongly for remain.

The million dollar question - never mind individual parties, does this say anything for the overall question of the mood of the public? The first caveat to add is that the number of votes cast is wildly different. There were 33.5m votes cast in the referendum on a 72% turnout, and only 17.1m votes cast in the European Elections. So everything that I'm about to say has to have that attached to it before we start.

Now, if we assume a No Deal vs Remain option, where Tories uniformly go with Brexit/UKIP/Far Right to Leave, and Labour uniformly go with the Rainbow coalition to remain, then you get an 8% swing from the 2016 referendum from Leave to remain - with the Leave parties now on 43.5% of the vote. It gets more complicated, of course, because some Tories would vote to remain, and some Labour voters would actively vote to Leave, but that's a simple way of looking at it. And based on that simple look, here's how it shakes out locally.

The East Midlands saw a fairly big swing. Leave Parties still hold a majority, but from 59% in 2016 they've fallen to 54%, while in the West Midlands, another Brexit heartland, there was a 7% drop so there is now a 52-48 leave majority. There was a minor swing to remain in the East of England, though not really particularly noteworthy. Despite being where Labour have done badly, in fact since 2016 (as opposed to 2014) the leave vote was actually down around 7 points in the North East.

London actually managed to see a dramatic swing to an even more solidly remain position, now at over 2/3 of the vote, and the North West might actually have flipped, to a remain majority (though this is the area where assuming Labour voters to be remainers might not be the safest bet). Even so, using our Brexit/UKIP/Tory/Far Right model, the Leave vote now stands at around 45%. The South East was the closest to the national overall result in 2016 and now has flipped to an almost inverse model, roughly at 52/48 in favour of remain parties. The South West would now be showing a marginal lead for remain, albeit one so small it could potentially be overhauled if all of their independents were standing on explicitly pro-Brexit platforms. The headline could be Yorkshire and Humber which has gone from almost 58% of the vote in 2016 being for Leave to a potential remain majority, depending on what you do with the votes cast for the surprisingly popular Yorkshire Party.

The change in Scotland would also be pretty dramatic, reflecting London in that the areas that voted remain are now even more strongly inclined to go that way - from 62% to now over 70%. Wales, which voted to leave, now has the leave parties racking up 41% of the votes. N. Ireland, unsurpisingly, still have a narrow remain majority.

So this is all complicated by two things - Labour and the Tories official 'Brexit but not hard Brexit platforms', which really keep everything up in the air, and the difference in turnout. Who didn't show up - is the Brexit vote down because a lot of people who turned out in 2016 were floating voters who could swing back either way, or might just not turn out for another referendum? Or is it down because there's a huge amount of Brexit supporters who don't recognise the legitimacy of the EU Parliament, and who don't think we should be having the elections, and who stay away as a protest? No way of knowing to be sure. And which way would the remaining Labour and Tory voters jump if pushed into a simple choice?

05-28-2019, 07:38 AM
The remarkable thing about that list of runners and riders you've post based on the odds, Prime, is that arguably three of the top four candidates have been completely and utterly dogshit in their previous political roles.

Gove was, and still is, utterly despised by people in the teaching profession.
Hunt's time as the Health Secretary was an absolute abomination.
Johnson's mayorship will go down as a series of money wasting projects, including the Boris Bus, Garden Bridge, Cable Car, and Estuary Airport.

Just highlights what a shambles politicians can be yet still get to the top.

As far as the EU elections go, I tend to put little weight to them, but it's certainly interesting to see that breakdown of where the Leave/Remain vote share has shifted.

Prime Time
05-28-2019, 07:42 AM
As far as the EU elections go, I tend to put little weight to them

Far and away the most sensible position!

And yeah, you're not wrong about any of their performances. In a different era I suspect one or more of them would have been politically dead in the water by now. Though maybe everyone looks great next to Grayling?

Prime Time
05-31-2019, 09:16 AM
Just a quick reaction to the weird poll that came out a few days ago. I don't believe for a minute we're looking at this as a viable election scenario, but let's just say that it happens for the time being.

The Lib Dems came out top in a recent poll for the first time in their history. The Brexit party came second, which pushes the two biggest parties in the country into a joint third position. So what would parliament look like if that were repeated in an upcoming general election?

The news is VERY good for the forces of remain, assuming you'd back most Labour MPs to stand with you.

Here's why. The Brexit party are actually up 140 seats. But nearly 100 of those are straight gains from the Tories, so the overall shift towards Brexit isn't actually all that strong. Almost offsetting that is that the Lib Dems would set their own record too, with more than 100 gains that would put them at around 120 in total. Obviously, they are firmly committed to remain, so any gains from Tories would shift into that column and the handful of gains from Labour would also be even firmer there.

The Conservatives would be down 200 seats, but Brexit would only pick up around 140 of those, so the basic swing in Parliament would be 60 seats towards remain. Labour would still be the biggest party but with only 200 seats, so the only ministry that would have any chance would be a Labour administration - either in formal coalition with the Liberals (unlikely) or a confidence-and-supply deal (more likely).

I imagine either a second referendum or formal revocation of article 50 would be in the terms of any confidence and supply deal.

Caroline Lucas would also hold her seat, while the SNP would add to this by adding another 20.

In short, on this poll the remain majority would be around 60.

Now, it won't happen. This poll and the new leader are just two reasons why many people who usually vote Tory who are saying they'll vote Brexit will come home when the time comes. And plenty of people saying they'll vote Liberal Democrat will change their tune if it looks like Corbyn for PM.

But just for fun, here are the high-profile names who'd be vulnerable in this scenario:

Iain Duncan Smith, Ed Miliband, Dominic Raab, Amber Rudd, David Gauke, Liz Truss, Yvette Cooper, Penny Mordaunt, Stephen Crabb, Zac Goldsmith, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Matt Hancock, Kate Hoey, Grant Shapps, Peter Bone, John Redwood.... and Boris Johnson.

Now, it won't happen.... but interesting times indeed.

05-31-2019, 12:44 PM
I'm getting stress by osmosis with all these twists and turns, haha. And y'all still aren't nearly as fucked as American politics at the moment!

For the love of Terry Funk
05-31-2019, 02:27 PM
That would be a fun election night, might push Huw Edwards over the edge

Prime Time
06-03-2019, 10:55 AM
Apparently there are already 13 declared candidates for the Tory leadership (and with it, Prime Minister) and another 7 that might declare late.

Even whittling that down to two is going to be a fucking circus. Wouldn't be surprised if they changed the rules so you had to have ten endorsers or something like that. Would get the Rory Stewart's and Esther McVey's out of the way, which I'm sure the party would appreciate.

06-03-2019, 11:46 AM
This has happened in the last several presidential elections in the US too, a billion people come out of the woodwork to run for the job. Did this always happen and we just didn't realize because these people weren't accessible in the way they are now?

Prime Time
06-04-2019, 04:32 AM
I'd have to look into the American case for a comparison, but the answer on our side of the water is 'no, it wasn't always like this'. We're in unprecedented territory, because in usual times a crowded field would be 6-7, not 13+. It's actually quite common for it to be a battle between 2-4 people, or for one candidate to be such a clear favourite that they are effectively (or actually) unopposed.

The difference is this time is that there's no good candidate. Boris is the favourite and has the backing of the biggest group of MPs but is definitely not the best option for all of his colleagues. And this is the weakest government since WWII, so in most people's lifetime - so pretty much everyone who has been involved with it is tainted, in some way.

I suspect that it's because seeing the main candidates struggling, everyone thinks that they have a chance to outflank them in a way that, say, it was unlikely someone like Brown or May was going to lose in their respective years.

Here's the thing people forget - May was the runaway winner in 2016, universally regarded as the best choice, and incredibly popular with the electorate for the first year or so of her Ministry. And we saw how this issue took her down. Whoever comes through into the job at this point is going to be someone that in 2016 was seen as not as good as her - directly in the case of a Leadsom or a Gove, or indirectly in plenty of other cases. Hard to imagine any of the options doing any better when push comes to shove.

Prime Time
06-10-2019, 08:25 AM
Double post, but a fair bit to catch up on.

Couple of Tories have dropped out of the leadership election - James Cleverly and Kit Malthouse (him of the 'compromise). Of the names mentioned on the previous page Mordaunt and Steve 'Brexit hardman' Baker decided not to run in the end.

Second, Michael Gove's campaign has hit the rocks after admitting that he took cocaine as a journalist in his younger days. I don't think it's the drug revelation itself that is harming him, so much as the fact that he wrote against liberalising the drugs laws while putting half of Colombia up his nose. A day or so later Andrea Leadsom admitted to smoking a bit of dope, something got very little traction other than a 'Tory drug off' hashtag on Twitter. Which I can't imagine is good news for her candidacy.

Rory Stewart is actually polling quite well out there, though as Tim Montgomerie of Conservative Home astutely put it, he's absolutely the favourite candidate of everyone who will never vote Tory. Makes you wonder why he's in the party really, but there we are.

Right now it looks like Boris Johnson vs Jeremy Hunt, unless Gove or Raab can make a bit of a comeback. Big slate of high profile declarations for Hunt today, which makes me think he'll end up being the stop Boris candidate. Truth is, if anyone goes to the membership against Boris, they'll lose. Stopping Boris has to happen at a parliamentary level and right now looks unlikely.

Quietly the Tories actually changed the rules for this election, declaring that you now need the backing of 8 MPs to make it onto the first ballot, and then 5% of the Parliamentary Party to proceed to the second ballot. Which I think is quite an interesting move....

In many ways the most interesting thing though was the Peterborough by-election. It was a Labour hold, despite their previous MP going to gaol for perverting the course of justice. The Brexit party were tipped to take their first seat and Nigel Farage even turned up to the count before trying to sneak away (only to caught by journalists), but the Labour vote just about held up enough. Turnout was down, as you'd expect for a by-election, and the Labour vote was down 17 points. The Tories came in third, with them down a full 25 points. The Lib Dems and Greens came in fourth and fifth, up 8.9% and 1.2% respectively.

Quite a blow for Brexit as it stalls their momentum, and shows how hard it will actually be for them to overcome existing parties and the levels of organisation that they have amongst their membership. You also think the Brexit party isn't going to get a lot of wavering voters at the last minute - if you are voting for them, you're already pretty motivated to get out to the polls and I'm not sure that's the case for some of the other parties. Labour's vote roughly holding up means things might not be so bad for them as they thought. The Tories have the faint smell of death about them at the moment - if the new Leader doesn't stop them haemorrhaging votes they are going to be fucked. Solid but unspectacular for the Lib Dems and Greens who'll be pleased to increase their vote share in a constituency that has bounced back and forth between the two main parties since World War II.

And to cap it all off, Trump was here.

06-10-2019, 12:58 PM
Ha, quite a line to end on!

Prime Time
06-14-2019, 06:57 AM
Tory leadership election, first round, saw Boris Johnson put up a big figure that's going to be hard to beat. The two women in the contest and Mark Harper were eliminated in the first round, and Matt Hancock has dropped out today.

Tuesday is the next round, and the dropouts mean there are 50 votes out there up for grabs in the next round. And of course, people can switch from one round to the next.

The interesting thing is the Hunt/Gove/Javid anti-Boris axis, because Stewart isn't likely to drop out until he's beaten (though he's got to be on their radar as a future leader after an impressive campaign). I think only one member of the trio will end up running against Boris to try and be a consensus candidate. You'd say Hunt initially as he came top, but actually did a bit worse than expected, while Javid has outperformed early expectations. Rumours are circulating though that Gove's support is cracking, and I think even if he gets through the next round he'll throw his weight behind one of the others if things don't improve.

It doesn't look like Raab is going to be able to challenge Boris on the right flank, unless there's a big change between now and Tuesday - though I would assume a lot of Raab's 27 votes would go to Boris if pushed. That said, you wonder why they aren't going with the front-runner already, and Boris is a divisive figure.

Right now it looks like Boris is the only thing standing between Boris and the membership run-off. If he gets in his own way, he could lose it, but he's got enough support out there that frankly it's almost impossible to imagine him not making the final two without a horrendous change in fortune. The question then becomes, how accurate is the polling of the membership, and is he more popular out there than he is in Westminster, which is many people's assumption.

And if he wins, the follow-up question would have to be how many of his own party would be prepared to bring him down if he lurches to the right? Stewart and Grieve have already said they would, he's known to be unpopular with the likes of Justine Greening and Nicky Morgan, and y'know Ken Clarke isn't going to stand for any old nonsense...

But the money men usually aren't wrong, and the odds on Boris Johnson being Prime Minister have fallen to 1/5 since yesterday. That's the TL;DR of the post.

06-14-2019, 10:29 AM
You're lucky at least that you have a quick process to kill off some of these unlikely candidate. I saw that 20 candidates will be in the first round of debates for the Democratic nomination, and god knows how long we'll have to deal with some of these hopeless causes.

Prime Time
06-14-2019, 10:35 AM
Yeah, we're pretty good like that. The two main parties sort themselves out pretty well. To get on the ballot to the members a Labour leader needs 12.5% of the parliamentary party, so even if everyone got exactly the same you'd be maxed out at 8 choices and no more. And the Tories are famously ruthless when it comes time to remove or select a new leader. It's something that gets some criticism from our left but you can tell there's a lot of secret envy about the clean quick way they get on with it compared with the endless wrangling that sometimes takes place on the left.

That said, this time could be different. I can tell from some talk that there's fears of a blue on blue bloodbath, both up to the next vote and with whoever ends up against Boris. It'd actually be a surprise if this all calmed down and went on like business as usual.

For the love of Terry Funk
06-18-2019, 12:15 PM
Could be done to the last two in about an hour.

Prime Time
06-20-2019, 07:25 AM
Well, not quite. But it's decision day today. We'll know by this evening who the last two are, anyway.

Oddsmakers are all lining up behind a Boris vs Hunt final two. I think they are probably right. I don't see Javid surging at this late stage, even though he's probably had the best campaign of the four of them. And I think a lot of Tories are worried about a Boris vs Gove campaign literally ripping the party in two (which, to be fair, could well happen anyway).

06-20-2019, 02:01 PM
What's the difference between the two, Pete?

06-20-2019, 03:29 PM
The end is nigh. Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt. If Donald Trump weren't in office, this would appear to be unbelievable, but we're in a post-Trump era...

Samuel 'Plan
06-20-2019, 03:51 PM
Only in two, Prime? Are we seeing the last months of the Conservative party regardless do you think? One wonders - if they go for a hard No Deal Brexit and the worst case scenario unfolds, heaven forbid, surely there'll be swathes of the populace who'll lay the blame at the door of a Boris Johnson premiership? Perhaps not these days, sadly, but I'd like to think. If they deliver a soft Brexit or no Brexit at all then you'll have Farage and the Brexit Party swooping in and levelling all kinds of horrid claims at the door of the party. It feels like any scenario ends up with the Tories looking deeply unelectable for a generation at the other end, doesn't it?

Johnson vs. Hunt, in a race to become our third Prime Minister since the referendum took place, as decided by 160, 000 members of the electorate alone, both blathering on about betrayals of democracy if Brexit doesn't happen, both potentially heading towards inflicting a No Deal Brexit on the lot of us. Britain has come to this. I'm said I am alive to see our country diminished so severely. It already feels like irreparable damage to our international reputation for the rest of my lifetime, all of it being cheered on, so tragically, by the very people who'll stand to suffer the most for it.

Prime Time
06-21-2019, 05:27 AM
What's the difference between the two, Pete?

At first glance, not a lot. They are both aristocrats, both educated at private school and then Oxford University. Boris is actually descended from George II at some level so in the event of some kind of mass royal catastrophe (like in that John Goodman movie, King Ralph) it's not inconceivable he could become King, while Jeremy Hunt is actually the richest man in the cabinet after selling his company in 2017.

But their political history is a bit different. Boris started out as a journalist and has always been a bit of a media darling, playing up to the image of a bumbling aristocrat and winning people over that way. The big divide is whether or not there's a real political genius working behind the image - a position that has gotten less popular with time, I think it's fair to say. He was a well-known but fairly junior Tory figure, often in the media but never really in the inner circle of the party - he was never in the shadow cabinet, for example. That changed when he became the Mayor of London, overcoming the then-popular Ken Livingstone and really giving the Tories their first substantial electoral win of the New Labour era. That put him back on the map, signalled a coming turn in UK politics, and I think directly led to his return to the House of Commons in 2015, his role in the Brexit campaign, and his appointment as Foreign Secretary, his one cabinet appointment.

Hunt's track record is very different - in fact, while Boris was always a bit of a star, even when he wasn't in the frontline, I don't think I heard anyone consider Hunt for this kind of role until a few months ago. But when it became clear May would fall sooner rather than later you started to hear people say that he might actually come through the middle. The truth is that prior to his role as Foreign Secretary, Hunt has reaped the rewards of being intractable. He didn't do a good job as Culture Secretary (although did get a lot of the credit for the Olympics that really should have gone to one of his predecessors, Tessa Jowell), but in all other aspects he was basically a failure. But, he got promoted, and despite mass unpopularity he stuck it out as Health Secretary - possibly the most difficult post for a Tory in our system. But because he did that job loyally, took the flak, and didn't complain or quit or rock the boat, he was rewarded with the Foreign Secretary job when Boris quit in 2018. He's probably been a more stable figure in that job than Boris, but I don't think anyone would say he's been as good as someone like, say, William Hague had been. But all Foreign Secretary's job records are mixed at best, it's probably fair to say (although I do have quite fond memories of Robin Cook).

Now, to the bit you are probably more interested in - the policy difference. The answer is it's anyone's guess. The thing is, Boris is a political chameleon, so you never really know what he's thinking. He was initially very much in the liberal Tory mould for the first half of his career, and he backed both Ken Clarke and David Cameron - the moderate options - in previous Tory leadership campaigns over Iain Duncan Smith and David Davis, two men that are actually backing him this time around. In more recent years, though, he's shifted, and has been sounding a more populist note, has gotten quite cosy with Donald Trump, has met with Steve Bannon, and all the rest of it. So the general consensus is that Boris is motivated more by ambition than political principle, and will do whatever he thinks works best for him at any given time. Whether he sticks as a populist or pivots more to the centre will probably be determined by the political weather and how the wind is blowing.

It's harder to be sure exactly about what Hunt believes, because he has made his career out of being a Government loyalist. That means it is difficult to know exactly what he'll do when he's the one with the reins of power. Instinctively, from his record I'd suggest that he seems like a fairly mainstream Conservative in line with much of what you'd expect.

So the difference between the two is that you've got a maverick figure, with a fervent base and just as many people who can't stand him, that no one really knows what he stands for but has been sounding populist notes in recent years, up against someone that is seen by many as having 'failed up', as having made little mark other than as a party/government loyalist, and is really running on the strength of he's a more solid, moderate figure than his opponent.

Only in two, Prime? Are we seeing the last months of the Conservative party regardless do you think? One wonders - if they go for a hard No Deal Brexit and the worst case scenario unfolds, heaven forbid, surely there'll be swathes of the populace who'll lay the blame at the door of a Boris Johnson premiership? Perhaps not these days, sadly, but I'd like to think. If they deliver a soft Brexit or no Brexit at all then you'll have Farage and the Brexit Party swooping in and levelling all kinds of horrid claims at the door of the party. It feels like any scenario ends up with the Tories looking deeply unelectable for a generation at the other end, doesn't it?

Johnson vs. Hunt, in a race to become our third Prime Minister since the referendum took place, as decided by 160,000 members of the electorate alone, both blathering on about betrayals of democracy if Brexit doesn't happen, both potentially heading towards inflicting a No Deal Brexit on the lot of us. Britain has come to this. I'm said I am alive to see our country diminished so severely. It already feels like irreparable damage to our international reputation for the rest of my lifetime, all of it being cheered on, so tragically, by the very people who'll stand to suffer the most for it.

The option that you don't outline is that they get *something*, declare victory and say it's what they wanted all along, and people are actually fatigued enough with the whole issue to go along with it. But yeah, I think it's more likely that whoever comes in is probably on a hiding to nothing.

By my reckoning, there'd be around 15 Tory MPs that you might think could bring down a government that was trying to pursue a no deal - maybe more, and it could be as high as 30. Five of them is enough to bring the government down, once you adjust for Sinn Fein (and assuming everyone else except the DUP were allied against them). So yeah, I actually think it's more likely if they try and go that route that the Johnson government will fall, and for the reasons outlined above I'm not sure he'll be willing to try that on for size. His ambition is paramount, and I don't think he'll want to be the first PM since Callaghan to lose a confidence vote - and the first since Stanley Baldwin in the dark days of the 20s to lose one as a Conservative, the 'presumptive party of Government'.

As for the 'soft' options... yeah, smart money is that they get mullered by the Brexit Party and you may have a split from their right flank - or alternatively the depleted party would absorb the Brexit Party and they'd be the Tories but without the centrists, as they'd probably split off the other wing in that outcome.

Interesting three months, anyway.

EDIT: That number has just been reduced by one. One of the ERG Tories, Chris Davies, has just been recalled in Brecon and Radnorshire over his expenses. Lib Dems 2nd there in 2017..... majority is 8,000, but you never know these days....

06-21-2019, 02:39 PM
Really interesting stuff Pete. Also... y'all have a shadow cabinet??

Prime Time
06-21-2019, 04:29 PM
Yeah, the idea is that one member of the opposition will 'shadow' a member of the cabinet, just in case the government changes abruptly and the incoming party need to be prepared. It's also designed so that 'her majesty's loyal opposition' can hold 'her majesty's government' to account more easily.

Prime Time
06-22-2019, 06:21 AM
If anyone thought this was going to be a quiet race, here's how the first day of the final two went:

1) Police were called to a domestic disturbance in the early hours of the morning involving the favourite to become the next PM.
2) A Tory MP is effectively sacked by his constituents, prompting a recall election.
3) Another Tory MP is suspended after grabbing a female protester by the throat.
4) The Tory whips are forced to investigate as they are sending abusive messages to each other between the two camps.

All in the space of a day.

06-24-2019, 04:05 PM
Um yikes, to the first one especially! Is that going to knock that candidate out of the race?

Prime Time
06-25-2019, 05:39 AM
You'd think so, wouldn't you? But no. Not in the current climate. A lot of right wing pundits here were able to turn the discussion into whether or not his neighbours had a political move when they called the police, despite it being several families who all reported hearing screaming. So we're into the end times, in that respect.

The way he has handled it has hurt his polling numbers with Tory members though, because he's basically refused to address it. And his polling lead has either halved or evaporated, depending on which set of polls you look at. He's also withdrawn from a leadership debate on SKY news with about a day's notice.

For a while now, his backers have said the only person who can stop Boris, is Boris. Well, turns out he might end up proving them right. Hunt has been dialling up his own rhetoric and actually looking halfway competent in his own campaign. This isn't over yet.....

06-25-2019, 01:58 PM
Yeesh, unfortunate that the political climate has progressed to that point. Looking forward (if that's the right phrase...) to hearing what happens next.

Prime Time
06-26-2019, 08:08 AM
What happened next is that he put out a picture of him with his partner (claiming that it was just taken by paps, though no one really believes that), people started suggesting it was an old picture because his hair didn't match.... and he's refused to comment on how old the photo is.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Hunt is continuing his campaign and has started to dial up a lot of rhetoric about how you have to be able to trust the next PM, and has said the EU aren't going to negotiate with anyone they don't feel they can trust. If Hunt can split off Brexit from Boris, far and away his strongest card to play at the moment, he'll win this one comfortably.

That might be easier said than done, though, as the Brexit press are clearly coming out for Johnson, and he's had a bit of a gaffe of his own according to the Daily Telegraph, calling some on that flank 'little Englanders'. It's true, but it clearly isn't going to play well.

06-26-2019, 11:16 AM
If anybody has any doubts - we are fucked.

Prime Time
06-29-2019, 11:22 AM
Interesting Brexit development. David Gauke, who had widely been expected to lose a no-confidence vote in his local party over his Brexit stance and had been targeted by Leave.EU, but he won his vote by almost double, and retains the seat.

Now, South-West Hertfordshire was actually a remain constituency, by almost 54%, but this is a vote only for Conservative Party members who you'd presume made up a disproportionate amount of the 46%, and he still survived.

So it's worth noting, I think.

07-05-2019, 02:30 PM
How's it all progressing now, Pete?

Prime Time
07-11-2019, 06:18 AM
Eh, hard to say, to be honest. The big news here has been dominated by the ambassador thing, and the onoing anti-semitism row in Labour. The leadership has gone to the backburner, and it kinda looks like Boris might just coast in at this point, without having to do a lot.

The recent votes about legislation in Northern Ireland have been quite significant though, and could represent a problem for the new PM with his DUP partners in the future. Still, it does kinda serve them right for shutting Stormont for so long.

Prime Time
07-16-2019, 07:31 AM
So it sounds like while I was away that during their debate or whatever it was both Hunt and Johnson seem to have moved the terrain more towards a no deal, even though there's no guarantee that they can get that through parliament.

07-16-2019, 01:36 PM
So is it really a difference that makes no difference at this point, at least in the short term?

Prime Time
07-17-2019, 07:35 AM
It's really quite difficult to say, because you keep hearing things about technical workarounds that could be nuclear options to get what they want. And there are Labour MPs saying now that if it's a straight choice between no deal and staying, they'd have to vote for no deal. So the arithmetic could shift, and in Johnson's case we are dealing with someone who is much more likely to use a nuclear option than May ever was. So as with all things over the past couple of years, it's a giant 'who knows' covering most of our political landscape.

Current state of the polls seems to indicate Brexit and the Lib Dems would have around 60 seats in a general election, while Labour would be the biggest party having lost only half a dozen (net). The Tories would be gutted by it and would be under 200. That said, the new leader will shake all that up immediately, so those are numbers that really couldn't mean less.

07-17-2019, 03:17 PM
Fuck Politics right now. Even May essentially said it. It’s a worrying, horrific time and Britain seems determined to make the worst of it.

07-18-2019, 11:59 AM
Glad to hear it's not just us!

Actually, not glad at all. Wish this political dumpster fire was contained to America, or better yet wasn't happening at all.

Prime Time
07-23-2019, 09:25 AM
Well, as predicted by everyone all along, Boris Johnson is the new Prime Minister. Smart money is things don't get any smoother in the near future.

King Kong Sundae
07-24-2019, 10:26 AM
Boris Johnson is the new Prime Minister.

Has he ever actually been called Britain Trump though

07-24-2019, 11:06 AM
I think it's fair to say he is the closest thing we have to Trump. He is different in many ways, and in many ways much less controversial than Trump, but he shares the same characteristic of saying preposterous things.

Prime Time
07-25-2019, 05:32 AM
But as to whether anyone has actually used the name? No, never. It's something he just made up. He's only ever called Boris or BoJo by most people.

So, the new cabinet. Sajid Javid is the new chancellor, Priti Patel fails up to become Home secretary, and Dominic Raab is the new Foreign Secretary. He's put a longtime ally in at Defenec in Ben Wallace. Gavin Williamson's exile from cabinet after leaking from the major security meeting a while back ends quickly as Boris shows his sense of irony by putting him at Education. Jacob Rees-Mogg will attend cabinet as Leader of the Commons.

On paper, it's probably the most right-wing government we've had in living memory - but we'll see how they govern in practice.

The Lib Dems have put down a confidence motion but it's breaking Labour won't back it, saying the timing is bad and if anything it'll strengthen Johnson's hand. Probably true, but even so they have very little room for manoeuvre. There are probably 20-30 people liable to bring down a Johnson government if they lurch too far that way, based on the number of people voting for Rory Stewart. Philip Hammond hasn't been shy about what he thinks of the new PM and his strategy either. And Jeremy Hunt has clearly shown his ambition - I would not bet against him biding his time and waiting to plunge the knife in the Johnsonian back.

Although it's all change - to quote the former PM, 'nothing has changed'.

Prime Time
08-03-2019, 10:27 AM
While I was away we had the Brecon and Radnorshire By-election, after Chris Davies was recalled. Funny old election, with the Tories putting him up again despite being recalled for corruption. Plaid and the Greens also stepped aside to get the remain vote unified behind the Liberal Democrats, who picked up the seat with a 14% swing.

It's really difficult to compare the by-election with the general election because there's such a difference in terms of turnout. But what you can see is that the Brexit Party split the Conservative vote and cost BoJo's party the seat. It's a funny position to be in because it's usually the left, rather than the right, who are split here. We also don't know how many Plaid/Green loyalists would refuse to turnout for the Lib Dems (coalition memories could live long for some) and just stayed at home.

The upshot is this - Johnson's working majority in Parliament is down to 1 (though Charlie Elphicke probably votes for the Tories in most cases, you'd imagine, even though he's technically an independent since having the whip withdrawn pending criminal charges). Any individual MP from the Tories or the DUP can prevent a majority on their own, and two together could bring down the government if Labour were inclined to back a no-confidence motion. It basically means that anything the new government wants to try to do is near enough impossible unless it has the wholesale support of the Conservative Party. The trouble with that is that there are a bunch of MPs - including those ousted in the previous cabinet reshuffle - who are not really inclined to be whipped into voting with the government right now.

So yeah, fun few months ahead... sure I've said that before.

For the love of Terry Funk
08-05-2019, 04:36 AM
Feels like no deal is almost a certainty at this point with the way things are heading.

Prime Time
08-09-2019, 09:07 AM
Well, it sounds like everyone is expecting an election to be called imminently. We'll see, I suppose.

Samuel 'Plan
08-13-2019, 04:11 PM
The whole situation right now is a cause of immense anxiety and stress for me. I get lost in a bit of pop culture here and there, or day to day living, but then there's always a sudden and sharp reminder of the frightening place this country now finds itself, and an even more frightening reminder of how few, if any solutions seem to be presenting themselves. The populism has already infected my family too, which is when things get really disquieting.

Prime Time
08-19-2019, 08:53 AM
Speaking of which, the Anti-vaxxers have got us. Lost our 'measles free' certification in the last few days.

08-19-2019, 04:43 PM
Fuuuuuck, that sucks.

Prime Time
08-28-2019, 06:28 AM
Well, it all seems to have hit the fan today. Widely believed the government are going to ask the Queen to prorogue Parliament. Plenty of outrage out there.

08-28-2019, 11:18 AM
Seems they've done it.

This is the most unconstitutional, anti-democratic thing I've ever seen in this country. The outrage is entirely well judged.

I swear, we're approaching riot status right now.

08-28-2019, 11:23 AM
I wouldn't be surprised if there are riots in the next week. General Strike is already trending on twitter too.

08-28-2019, 03:06 PM
Woah woah woah, fill me in fellas?

Prime Time
08-28-2019, 03:29 PM
Short version: mps were gathering to work out their opposition to Johnson. So he's asked the Queen to close parliament, until about two weeks before the Brexit deadline.

It's the nuclear option. Can't get it through parliament? Close Parliament down.

The last person to try this was probably Charles I...

Prime Time
08-29-2019, 05:52 AM
The longer version.... prorogation is the name given to the period in between parliamentary sessions. They aren't fixed, as they are in the US, but are a lot more fluid and are generally in the hands of the Prime Minister (in much the same way that they can call an election pretty much whenever they see fit, though no one is really sure how true that is anymore after the fixed term parliaments act which was then abandoned after one electoral cycle. Anyway, I digress).

So prorogration itself is the normal window between the close of one session and the state opening of a new session. So what Boris Johnson's government have done, basically, is asked for this session of parliament to be ended, and for a new Queen's speech, outlining what his ministry are going to do in the rest of their term.

In practice, though, what seems really to be the case is that the other parties were meeting to get a strategy together, so he's asked for Parliament to be closed for an unusually long time, to essentially make it that much harder for any of the other parties to do any legislative business to take control. Closing parliament has been used by other PM's to their advantage, but rarely for so long, and never at such a contentious time. Whatever you think about it, there's no underestimating it involved when I call it the nuclear option.

It's raised a lot of questions about the Monarch, who technically opens and closes parliament. There's not much she can do other than grant it - nothing, in fact, without setting off a constitutional crisis of a whole other sort. But it does mean that it's left a lot of people who were broadly ambivalent about the monarchy asking 'well, what's the point, if it's not actually going to act as a bulwark against this kind of bypassing of parliament?'

The Brits have had a bit of a love-affair with the monarch since the turn of the millennium, but I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a bit of a return to a more militant republicanism here in the coming years.

EDIT: Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives (and possibly the most popular Unionist politician north of the border) has resigned.

08-29-2019, 09:57 AM
There's a slight element of craftiness to it, as well - right bang in the middle of the period where Parliament will be shut down will be Conference season, when each party has their annual meeting/get together with members and politicians all essentially starting to put together how they approach the next year or so in policy. So the proroguing period is five weeks, but the argument that the Tory party can make is that pretty much four of those are when everyone would be on recess anyway for conference season - so the actual impact on the amount of 'sitting days' (when the MPs are actually in parliament to debate legislation) is relatively small. That's why you get people like Jacob Rees-Mogg saying 'well, it's about average for the number of sitting days' - I think it's normally about 150 days in a year, although our Parliament confuses it by having 'sessions' which can (theoretically) last forever, with our current one being on something like 330, since June 2017, largely due to the withdrawal nonsense taking up all the time - it is, but it's also about timing. Any sensible person can see that right now every day matters because it's such an important point in our country's history, so why not wait and prorogue to open a new session of Parliament after October 31st, when something ('do or die') has to be finalised about the withdrawal? The fact they're not doing that suggests that they're using it as a method to stop the opposition from organising and preventing no deal.

The issue now is - who blinks first? Corbyn and the opposition could likely call for a confidence vote in Johnson when Parliament reopens after the summer recess next Tuesday. If that fails there's then a 14 day period for someone (I think this is specifically the opposition?) to form a new Government - which is why you hear about the 'Government of National Unity'. It seems Corbyn's plan, which may align with the other opposition politicians, is to form that Government temporarily, and then ask for the EU to grant another extension to Article 50 so that we can hold a General Election.

Two problems then fall out of that. One is, if Labour win, what's Corbyn's position then. Does he still think we need to leave? Does he revoke Article 50? Do we have a second referendum situation on our hands? I don't think anybody quite knows yet where a Labour Government, or Labour-led Government, will fall on the issue. But most likely that will have to be a clear message very early on in the election cycle, so we'd find out soon enough.

The other (and for me this is more concerning) is that Boris Johnson will almost immediately start to paint this as a 'people vs the corrupt elite politicians' election, despite him having been born with silver spoons in every orifice and having a middle name of 'de Pfeffel', and that (as we've seen in America) very much favours the right wing over the left. And with that in mind you get either a likely Tory victory in the election, because they will get the 'Brexit' vote, or (and much, much worse) based on current electoral polling you get a Conservative/Brexit Party coalition, with that gurning sausage-meat-in-a-human-skin racist Nigel Farage sat alongside Boris Johnson for PMQs every week.

Personally right now, I think a General Election helps nobody - either we end up with the hardest of hard withdrawals led by two people who would seem happy enough to open the UK up to the US markets, chlorinated chickens, privatised health services, plus want to stop any form of humanitarian efforts and immigration (mizfan - imagine the US being run by not one but two Trumps...), or we get (most likely, in my opinion) a second referendum called which ends up further dividing the country, especially if the vote goes the other way and we are effectively tied at 1-1. I believe polling suggests that would be the case, for the record.

I suppose, in a very far out there speculative option - if the withdrawal agreement comes back as it is and has one final vote, complete with the backstop, and the threat of a GE looming that could go either of the above ways, each side may look at it as their last chance to have some control over the nature of the withdrawal and soften their stances a bit. I feel like that's unlikely because the objections now are so entrenched, but it's theoretically possible, I suppose - particularly if the alternatives are the two above and it's very much a stay or go kind of thing.

It's a very, very messy situation, but this is just pushing things to the forefront.

There is a theory, of course, that a no deal withdrawal has almost always been the Government plan, and that now they're executing they also have the perfect scapegoats in the EU themselves because they've been inflexible over taking out the Backstop from the agreement (at least, that's how it will be painted, with none of the reasoning around the need for it being discussed).

08-29-2019, 02:04 PM
Christ on a cracker... thanks for the updates guys, wish it was better news!

Samuel 'Plan
08-29-2019, 03:40 PM
It seems to me that Boris has put himself in a no-lose scenario.

When parliament returns, he's surely banking on the uniting opposition parties to no longer have enough time to see through their plan to legislate in order to render a no deal scenario impossible. But if they do manage it, we end up at the polls and, as Oli points out, it becomes an election of, "Look, I was going to take us out on the 31st do or die but these nasty politicians have betrayed you and ousted me so vote for me" and thereby likely wins his majority for five years of frightening hard-right neo-fascism of the sort we've seen this week.

If they don't manage it, maybe they try their nuclear option - the no confidence vote.

If they do that and win it's just another version of the same scenario above. If they do that and fail, we crash out on the 31st, Boris takes us to the polls anyway as "the man who delivered Brexit" and we end up in the same place.

Maybe I'm over-simplifying things but it seems to me that, at this point, short of a miracle, we need to bunker down for at least five years of fighting for our liberty, democracy and rights, which is a very frightening thing for me to have just typed.

This prorogation is the most harrowing turn of political events in my lifetime, quite comfortably, and it's scared me to death. I'm still weighing whether to rejoin my political party or not, but I feel like I can't just sit on the sidelines in this much longer. I feel like I need to do something.

With any luck, this will galvanise the opposition parties further and some kind of electoral pact will emerge - I would seriously contemplate a tactical vote in an early election, which is something I have done before but am never truly comfortable doing. I think there are overriding interests at this point, though, and I'm willing to put away my usual party line in favour of saving our nation from these power-grabbing tinpot dictators. Or maybe those same parties can work a legislative miracle.

Either way, it's certainly the time for all those Tories prattling on about deeply felt personal discomfort to show what they're made of. I'm not optimistic.

08-30-2019, 03:08 AM
So, I emailed my MP and he came back to me - surprisingly quickly and relatively pleasantly, I must say.

Not sure whether I should be reproducing things in full here or not, but this is the breakdown he's given:

There has been much mis-reporting following this decision by the PM. I would urge everyone to look at the facts:

1. The number of days Parliament is not sitting is only six more than was planned.

2. Parliament is back well before October 31st.

3. Despite the fact that parliament has debated leaving the EU for over 3 years, there is still time to ratify and debate a deal with the EU if one can be reached by the time of the EU Council in mid-October. This remains mine and the PM’s preferred option, rather than a No Deal Brexit.

4. If the Leader of the Opposition wants to put down a vote of no confidence in the Government he can do so next week when Parliament returns.

The bolded bit is quite interesting. For what it's worth, he's repeatedly voted for the withdrawal agreement - whether out of blind loyalty to the party or a genuine belief that it's perfectly fine I don't know.

He goes on to suggest I write to the MPs for other parties who have voted against the agreement (he notably doesn't reference the rebels within the Conservative party) to...I guess ask them why? Not sure what good that really does. Interestingly he doesn't really answer the main thrust of my email, which was saying he should be vocal against the prorogation, aside from the above facts.

He also said 'Unfortunately, Labour, Lib Dems, SNP and other opposition parties, aided by the Speaker in the Commons have used every tool at their disposal to delay, frustrate and cancel Brexit.' I don't really know where to start with that comment.

I'm tempted to write back, but to do so I need to devote time and brain power I don't have, or want to spend, on this at the moment.