Wednesday 20 February 2019

The Swirling Realignment of British Politics

The 'Independent Group' - a small splinter of plywood, or the first jolt of tectonic shift?  The Brexit Party (Co Ltd) - a single-issue vanity project, or the model for parties of the 2020's?  The 'UK Youth Climate Coalition' - an NGO ramp, or a nascent force for change?  The only thing we may be sure of is that none of these new developments will go short of cash: that's the easy bit.

Yes, as we all knew, 2019 is going to be a year for the political connoisseur.  Which politician, and/or which organisation, will be both sharp and flexible enough to make anything from these swirling pieces of jigsaw?  Can bricks be made from the straws-in-the-wind?  Let's look at the existing organisations, all of which look leaden-footed right now, but all of which have resources and incentives to attempt to capitalise on the chaos.

1.  Celtic Fringe parties (primarily SNP, DUP, Sinn Fein).  All essentially single-issue and opportunistic.  Probably don't need to change in order to survive in their current state, even if that's a rather passive objective.  SNP will need to weather the Salmond storm (and hence will tend to wind their necks in a bit more than they otherwise would); but it's not clear that Labour are in any position to roll them back out of Westminster at the next GE.  One comes across suggestions of a 'unilateral inde-referendum', which couldn't be ruled out.  Mostly, though, with the Salmond of Damocles over their heads, it'll be watch-and-wait.**

For many months I have puzzled over Sinn Fein's quiescence; and it's nearly two years since I last got a proper political briefing in a Dublin pub.  My inclination is to assume that, as an organisation with a clear goal and the ability to play a long game, they are just waiting for the chance to pluck the juicy prize when the bough bends sufficiently for them to reach up and take it.  (To this end, BTW, they must surely be willing ultimately to take up those Westminster seats that everyone assumes they'll forswear forever.)

2.  Libs.  Is it too glib to pass on without further comment?  In a world where genuine political novelty is in the air, they don't look like any sort of major beneficiary, even if someone might someday casually enquire as to the price of their rather small block-vote.  (We all know that answer: PR.)

3.  Greens.   Must rather like the look of the 'UK Youth Climate Coalition', in much the same way as a bunch of OAPs like the look of kids playing mixed-sex touch rugby in the park.  Everyone hopes to harness da yoof (particularly if they know how to set up a good website) but only Momentum shows any signs of weaponising it so far (see below).

4.  Labour.  Do any C@W readers have an insider's insight here?  My secondhand info is that the split within Labour between Corbyn-worshippers and the rest runs bitter and deep to a degree only lefties really understand.  Still, we must assume the Official Labour Party will keep it together enough to take the field at the next GE.  We must also assume that, buoyed by the (relative) success of the student-loan bribe in 2017, they will be offering free unicorns to every child; and, most specifcally, a voting age of 16 - perhaps arguing to 18-19-20's that they'll get much more of what they want if they vote for reinforcements from even younger teens next time.  (Monbiot shows here how they'll easily dress this up.)  

And, as noted before, Momentum (that's Momentum Co Ltd, actually and technically another middle-age corporate vehicle) have already gone a way down this youth road, with moderate success.  The key here is whether Disillusioned-with-Jeremy of Bedsit, England can keep the faith for another two whole years.  Maybe.  Maybe not.

Anyhow, the near term future for Labour looks to me like More Of The Same.  Making no headway in Scotland.  Worried about northern Brexit towns.  Quite deeply exhausted by internal warfare - too much so to mount any kind of genuine revival or metamorphosis.   (The summer of antisemitism really did take a toll, as far as I can tell.)  Corbyn, and particularly McDonnell, starting to look their age, whilst still kidding themselves they can play a waiting game.**  Starmer the only vestige of manifest leadership (or maybe Watson?), even if Cooper is keeping plenty of powder dry.  Which brings us to ...

5. The Wicked Tories.  I suppose we must reckon that the next few days might bring about a few desertions...  [OVERTAKEN BY EVENTS]   And it's hard to overlook the sheer number of C@W BTL comments that read "I'll never vote for those bastards ever again, ever".   And perhaps the new Farage vanity-vehicle is really attractive enough to adopt the mantle over the next two years.  (Though if that's the plan, they might have come up with a better party name.)

That said:  the Tories are UK history's great survivors.  Loyalty, inertia, lassitude; as you will.  But it's not called Conservative for nothing (and has there every been a bogeyman quite like Corbyn?)  Of course, it also speaks to More of The Same too, even more resoundingly than with Labour.  There can't be an accommodation with Farage, at least until after the next GE.  No mighty leaders-in-waiting have set up camp within the party, even if a romantic sort of Boris-camp has subsisted for years and we can all see the other petty displays of unlimited ambition in little side-booths all across Westminster.  

So - there are some jigsaw pieces to push mournfully around the table.  How many more substantive elements will complete the picture at the time of the next GE?

** Sinn Fein might have some excuse for watch-and-wait; but in the case of both the SNP and Labour, I reckon they are kidding themselves as to the effectiveness of their would-be opportunism.  They all dream of being Wellington at Salamanca; but in reality it's more like idleness and inability to make the political weather. 


andrew said...

Still, we must assume the Official Labour Party will keep it together enough to take the field at the next GE.


The smell of real power just - just within grasp will cause ranks to break at every level, apart from the hardcore left and those who were around before 2009.

That does not mean they will lose.

Nick Drew said...

interesting, Andrew, but I feel the need for more explanation - ?

Jan said...

I feel the hand of TB pulling the strings of this new group now joined by 3 so-called Tories (Soubry, Woolaston and someone). Bliar's lurking in the wings with all his pots of money and egging them on. He knows every time he opens his mouth everyone fumes with hatred so he must act(plot) behind the scenes. Probably Mandy as well. Maybe even Cameron and Osborne or is this a leap too far for them. Anyway they're all REMAINERS.

Maybe the tectonic plates are moving. At least politics is interesting again!

tolkein said...

The Labour Party is split between Corbynistas and the rest.

It's deep, bitter and personal. My Party is credibly accused of anti-semitism!

We can never vote Tory, but can't vote Labour while JC and his acolytes are anywhere near power.

I suspect there's many like me, voted Remain, but believe that stopping Brexit is fundamentally anti-democratic, and we should just get on with it.

MyOnceInABlueMoonName said...

What these splits allow is for May to drop the DUP.
Very clever stuff.

1. Brexit extension
2. Mays deal or minor variant thereof passes
3. Border Poll = UI, Scots poll = Indy Scot

All before or around May-June 2020.

Anonymous said...

I do think the right are missing an opportunity to mobilise the youth.

If you look through social media there are people (what's the current crap term people use - influencers?!?) like Milo, Paul Joseph Watson, Sargon Of Akaad who are staunch Brexit leaning/classical liberal types who have big youthful followers.

If these could be effectively mobilised in the same way as momentum, then you would have a health counter balance the likes of 'UK Youth Climate Coalition'

I'm lead to believe that many of the youth today are more right leaning than at any point in history then it's not like you need to even change their ideology, just get them out to vote when it counts.

Raedwald said...

Anon - it's that youth cohort that actually worries me. Their You Tube stars have audiences in the hundreds of thousands - but the boundaries are blurred, and often stray into including the nasty authoritarian Statists such as Yaxley and the Muslim-baiters. More Le Pen than Thatcherite, and tinged with an unpleasant intolerance. I see them as the polar opposite of the Antifa street gangs - and I'd keep well clear of both

Anonymous said...

You forgot ... (*Drumroll*) ... the Womens Equality Party!!

But they are not to be left out.

"The Independent Group will only succeed if PR is their central policy"

Charles said...

Do you think exhaustion will play a part? One by product of 40 years of EU membership is the lack of intelligent and moral people going into politics, we are very short on leaders anywhere.

I think the fallout will depend on what sort of Brexit we get and how it is perceived. I for one will never vote for a Conservative party with May or Grieve or Soubry anywhere near it. The same goes for Cameron and Osbourne.

My guess is an incompetent coalition of the centre, doing just enough to keep Jeremy out but still spending too much and damaging the economy with every mad bien pensant scheme that the green lobby can dream up. Imagine Mrs Harry Wales as chancellor of the exchequer and you will get a fair picture.

Anonymous said...

Raedwald at 1.56: puzzled by your "nasty authoritarian Statists such as Yaxley and the Muslim-baiters". I was all too aware of your perverse fondness for multiculturalism and the demographic transformation of much of urban England (doesn't your blog proclaim a love of England?) but I was unaware that Tommy Robinson (as he prefers to be called, and why not) was any sort of statist. And how does one distinguish "Muslim baiting" from a right & proper intolerance - not "unpleasant" - of, and resentment concerning, successive governments' importation of literally millions of Muslims? It's an alien religion, a totalitarian ideology that has menaced Europe in the past and continues to do so, largely through demographic change. You mention, disparagingly of course, Le Pen, whose politics are not mine altogether (far too socialist) but whose Party won a quarter of the vote in 2017's Presidential first round. The democratic preferences and popular desires of ordinary French people are not to be disparaged by you or anyone else. Neither are those of T.Robinson, rather a good egg in my view and far brighter than too many middle-class snobs give him credit for.
Such considerations might usefully have been given a few column inches by Nick Drew, indeed.

Anonymous said...

@ WE Party / "The Independent Group will only succeed if PR is their central policy"

Its fun to watch them all jumping in saying "OK everyone, what this means is, now you must do [- - whatever it is I've always wanted - - ]".

Here's another one.
"Labour must take on the splitters by finally backing a people’s vote"

Hasn't this W****r noticed that the Splitters (© M.Python 1979) are the ones who want the Peoples Vote! The more of them that leave Labour, the less likely Corbyn will be to gratify them.

Anonymous said...

Raedwald - the Antifa street gangs are not al all like TR or the EDL either. You've read too many headlines about "violence flares at EDL march" when the violence is always from the Left and has been for decades.

I guess we must continue to vote for moderate, nice people (like Soubry or Mandelson), a policy which has served the British people so well over the last 50 years. So well that real wages are lower than in 1997, few of our children can afford their own home, and the cities we built now belong to other people. Why is it that every group in society can organise "as a group" - except for the Native Brits?

In Memoriam
England 886-2086
"At Least We Weren't Racist"

andrew said...

interesting, Andrew, but I feel the need for more explanation - ?

i will try.

This is complex.
I hesitate to characterise the left as a bunch of tax and spenders but there is a general sentiment there that is $omething is wrong, people are suffering and we (the govt) should spend £s making it better is there.
It is not just suffering, lives are actually being lost - choosing to spend less money on people with drug issues does lead to more users dying and more crime.
I do not disagree with the problem description.

The thing is that there are _so_many_ of these things. After ~10 years out of power many of these people are absolutely desperate to make things better.
The trouble is that you cannot do everything all at once and so you will start seeing Jenny/Jeremy McNutjob saying how when Lab is in power they will ban gerbils as pets because gerbils do not support an open non-judgemental furry-loving community that they want us to work to.

or Galloway on Goebbels.

and so a discordant chorus will rise up as the undisciplined mass speaks up for their most favoured cause.

and the other 70% of the british public will be grateful they dont have to listen to such people very often, however as you say, the current crop of cons are so abysmal (mays efforts to force parliament to agree with her deal indicate something close to a starring role in fatal attraction)
that they may still allow Corbyn to win.

Danny Boy said...

Can't see your analysis of SF being anywhere near reality. This is the party that gave UKIP their game plan. Get elected and take the cash. Don't do anything. Generate sound bites (or large bangs as some would say)

However UKIP couldn't help but become media tarts and, in essence, UKIP in itself has been hijacked by another media tart, Robinson.

Politics has been replaced by the media grid, meaningless arguments and nit picking. They are all looking over their shoulder, not a Brexit, but at the Boundary Commissions cull of the indolent and corrupt. Regrettably the indolent and corrupt will survive - and SF.

Nick Drew said...

Andrew - thanks for elaboration: will be watching out for your predicted phenomenon. (But what's to stop them promising everything to everyone? We know that identitarian lefties fall out because each person's favoured minority eventually clashes with another's on ideological grouns - lesbians vs trans at the moment, I see - but in the world of magic money-promises, pre-GE, no one claim need be at the expense of any other)

G.Fisher - exhaustion? What I was specifically referring to in the post was the relatively 'tactical', indeed physical exhaustion that (e.g.) McDonnell betrays: he's an old man and he wants to spend summer 2018 plotting the finances of the Revolution; and at every turn he finds he has to expend valuable airtime and political capital covering for Corbyn in the antisemitism row that Just Won't Go Away. That's pretty dispiriting.

But your suggestion - of a more strategic, 'moral' exhaustion, is very interesting. That is probably something an historian would diagnose, probably after the event (e.g. the decline of the Roman Empire); although it also gets thrown around as a form of insult, either as a jibe ("this Parliament is too stale, pale & male") or as a contrary thesis ("Keynes has had his day"). I've no doubt it can be levelled at the main parties right now - in a sort of 'first draft of history' way.

but, hey - the Tories have generally confounded these allegations, over the centuries! That's partly because they don't have much ideology to become worn out: they rely on timeless human nature instead ...

Nick Drew said...

Also - politicians with a sniff of power in their nostrils can be pretty indefatigable: unlikely to be much fatigue with Gove / Johnson/ Javid / Hunt et al

That's the only saving grace of May's 2017 GE - she pushed out the next one until 2022, making that whiff all the fainter for Labour; all the more chance of losing enthusiasm. (Then again, Corbyn might have imploded sooner if she hadn't gratuitously gifted him some electoral cred ...)

Lord Blagger said...

Have a full audit. That includes pensions. Then send every tax payer an annual statement, broken down, with their share of the state debts.

Given the young are worried about 50K of student loans, will they vote socialist when they are told the socialist welfare state has run up a £450,000 debt, with interest they have to pay?