If it’s any consolation…

December 17, 2019

by Martin Odoni

Last Thursday/Friday was pretty traumatic for the British left, but it was not entirely without points of satisfaction. The entire band of ‘CUKs’ that broke away from Labour back in February were wiped out completely. This was an especially well-deserved comeuppance for Chuka Umunna, Angela Smith and Luciana Berger, albeit for different reasons, and sums up the ten-month havoc of their entire laughable enterprise.

The Liberal Democrats, after months of aggressively bad-mouthing Labour and, especially, Jeremy Corbyn, had to learn humility the hard way, with the loss-of-seat for leader Jo Swinson – her second such fall in under five years – provoking smirks from both left and right. Her ridiculous, almost fanatical, declarations that she could become Prime Minister seemed risible to begin with, and now sound like the ravings of – yes I know I have used this comparison before – a certain cartoon character from the 1980’s….

Megaswin will crush the Autobots once and for all

Megaswin, leader of the Liberal Deceptocrats.

A special mention for the eternally hideous ex-Tory-now-Brexit-Party has-been, Ann Widdecombe: It was particularly delicious, what with her bigoted anti-LGBTQ views, to see her soundly beaten in Plymouth by incumbent Luke Pollard – a Labour MP who is openly gay.

But perhaps the biggest and most deserved comeuppance of all was bestowed upon the Democratic Unionist Party. They made the same idiotic mistake the LibDems made in 2010, shaking hands with the Devil, and are now paying the diabolical price. After the 2017 Election resulted in a Hung Parliament, there was a real danger that the treacherous Tories would be unable to form a Government. In stepped the ineffable DUP, agreeing a confidence-and-supply alliance to prop up Theresa May’s feeble administration. They ended up serving as its life-support until soon after Boris Johnson took over.

The clear hope of the DUP’s leader, Arlene Foster, was to use the balance-of-power she held in the House of Commons to prevent Brexit taking a form that aligned Northern Ireland to the Irish Republic and away from Great Britain i.e. a hard border in the Irish Sea between Ireland and Britain.

I wrote early in 2018 that Foster and her party were clearly being played for dupes (appropriate given the party’s acronym). The Tories were transparently refusing to commit to any one position on a settlement for an Irish border because they knew whichever arrangement they plumped for would be met with furious opposition from one quarter or another. If Foster, Nigel Dodds or Sammy Wilson had used an iota of common sense between them, they would have dropped the deal with May before the summer that year and left the Government to collapse. But they would not do so. This was partly because, so long as there was no new General Election, a Hung Parliament with them holding the balance-of-power would continue. Partly also, it was because they felt vindictive towards Jeremy Corbyn, who had a history of negotiating with Sinn Fein (NOTE FOR RIGHT-WING MOUTH-FOAMERS: Not with the Irish Republican Army. If you are going to insist that Sinn Fein and the IRA are one-and-the-same, then I insist that the DUP and the Ulster Defence Association are one-and-the-same, and the Tories thus have a history of formal political alliances with terrorists), which the DUP resent due to their general resentment of anyone ever hearing the Republican side of the Northern Irish story. Therefore, the DUP were determined to stop Corbyn from ever getting a real chance of reaching Downing Street.

This near-sighted stubbornness hit its moral low point earlier this year when it became irretrievably clear that May could not continue as Prime Minister. She fell to the heaviest defeat ever to befall a sitting British Government, as her Bill proposing a departure deal from the European Union was resoundingly rejected by over two-thirds of MPs – including the DUP themselves. It should have been incontestable at that point that May had to go, and her Government with her. But when Corbyn tabled the inevitable Motion of No Confidence in the Government, the DUP reversed tracks within 24 hours, voting to support the Prime Minister and keep the Government standing.

The DUP’s help proved decisive; had they voted the other way, the Motion would have been passed by one vote, and in all likelihood, there would have been a new General Election called within the fortnight. Given the dismal Tory polling at that point, they would surely have been out. Instead, the Tories retained what control there was, long enough at least for May to be pressured out of office on her own, and for the Tories to get the benefit of a ‘honeymoon period’ for their new leader to win the General Election last week.

The DUP got what they deserved

The DUP kept putting their trust in the Conservative Party, when it was clear what it would lead to, out of stubborn hatred for Jeremy Corbyn. Now they are reaping what they sowed.

Now, the DUP are reaping the toxic harvest of their own lack of morals and intelligence. For Boris Johnson, with a fairly large majority, does not need the DUP’s support to stay in power, and can just ignore them. And he is doing precisely that. The deal he is trying to push through before Christmas effectively slams the very border the DUP did not want in the Irish Sea, and aligns North to South on the island of Ireland itself. And there is nothing they can do to stop it.

If only they had chosen good sense, rather than paranoia and spite, at the crucial moment when the need to side with Corbyn was so obvious. Oh well, DUP, I might have felt a twinge of pity for you in another life. As it is, I can only shrug and point out that I did warn you.

by Martin Odoni

Strange interview on The Andrew Neil Show yesterday. The Liberal Democrats’ deputy leader, and eight-years-in-a-row winner of the ‘LibDem-Who-Looks-Most-Like-He-Used-To-Be-A-Gun-Runner-For-The-Mafia’ award, Sir Ed Davey, was getting a grilling from the eponymous seeker-after-Thatcherism on what options the party would pursue in the event of another Hung Parliament next month.

Now Davey has not had a noticeably good week, what with his economically illiterate pledge the other day to run the economy at a permanent 1% surplus, a policy that requires amoral levels of cruelty, and is physically impossible to achieve (a surplus in the public sector means a deficit in the private sector, and a deficit in the private sector, if it lasts for long, will cause a recession sooner rather than later). So, even with consequently low expectations for a rigorous intellectual experience, I decided I had to hear Davey’s reply to Neil’s question. And for sure, the reply was… interesting.

“Boris Johnson says he wants to deliver Brexit… so the only way he can do that is with a People’s Vote [Second Referendum]. So we will challenge him, and work with others to say, ‘If you want to do what you said, Mr Johnson… work for a People’s Vote… We would vote, issue-by-issue, whoever is in a Minority Government, and we would vote on the Liberal Democrat Manifesto.”

I am given to wonder whether Davey realises that he has contradicted himself. He is saying that in the event of a Minority Government, his party would operate on a vote-by-vote basis, trying to enforce the LibDem Manifesto. But he also says that as part of that process, he would try to convince Boris Johnson (yeah right, good luck with that, Ed), if he remained in office, to hold a People’s Vote.

“What’s the contradiction?” I hear you ask. Well, it is rather obvious.

A People’s Vote is not actually in the LibDem Manifesto, and indeed is incompatible with the LibDem policy on Brexit, which is to revoke Article-50 summarily – no votes, no consultation with anybody, just cancel it stone dead.

Flip-flop Davey

And people say Jeremy Corbyn is indecisive on Brexit?

Whether you agree with this policy or not, it is clearly not possible to do both that and a People’s Vote, at least not a meaningful one. This means Davey has flip-flopped within the space of less than two minutes. (Or perhaps, we have had yet another policy U-Turn before the General Election has even arrived?)

And people keep accusing Jeremy Corbyn of not making his mind up on Brexit?

by Martin Odoni

Delusions on both sides

I have written a considerable amount over the last couple of years criticising Brexiteers for their disregard for reality, and rightly so. It is one of the most painful patterns of modern political discourse trying to convince a Leave-supporter, either of the right or of the left, to take the plain facts into account when analysing how Brexit is going i.e. very, very badly, perhaps to the point of unworkable.

But I have to concede, the Remain camp has its share of pie-in-the-sky dreamers too. From those who talk in flowery, detail-free soundbites about the ‘beauty’ of European unity, which bears almost no resemblance to the neoliberal reality of the European Union, to those who confuse globalisation with internationalism and therefore fail to recognise that the EU stands far more for market power than it does for battling against inequality. Remainers tend to be less deluded on average, but “less deluded than a Brexiteer” is a little like saying, “less badly-written than a Terminator sequel”.

Deluded Remainers have drifted towards the LibDems

One problem with Remainers that is particular to the last fifteen months is the way they have been drawn in considerable numbers to the Liberal Democrats. Many Remainers, especially since Labour adopted a position in support of a ‘Soft’-Brexit-if-possible at the 2018 Party Conference, began to drift away, and the LibDems found their support growing, due to their stance of wishing to cancel Brexit summarily. This was understandable, although partly based on a misunderstanding of Labour policy i.e. Labour policy was to attempt to force a General Election, and, if elected, try to get a good deal for Brexit, and failing to get one or both of them, they would support a Referendum to resolve the likely deadlock. (Contrary to media reports, Labour have actually been consistent on this, and have stuck quite firmly to the policy. It is only because the policy has different, conditional stages that people have been getting the idea that it is ‘confused’.)

Labour’s position has now completed its switchover to supporting a second Referendum, complete with a ‘Remain’ option on the ballot, making it a perfectly valid hope for Remainers. The LibDems have continued to claim that Labour are a ‘pro-Brexit’ party, which is true in a sense, but deliberately misleading as it over-simplifies the policy.

In truth, if the LibDems were really the steadfast ‘party of Remain’ they paint themselves as, they would be trying to get as close to the Labour Party as possible, instead of vilifying them. A Labour victory in the General Election next month is the only realistic path to a potential revocation of Article-50. Labour will attempt to get an improved deal and will put that deal to the people in a confirmatory referendum with remain as the alternative. That is the only path to remaining in the EU that looks a realistic prospect.

The Tories show a rabid pro-Brexit fanaticism

Compare that stance to the policy of the Tories, which is to “get Brexit done” come-what-may, with their leader looking so eager for a No-Deal form of Brexit that he imperilled the Constitution of the United Kingdom a couple of months ago to try and force it to happen.

In the face of these options, it should be glaringly obvious even to the sightless that Labour’s position is vastly closer to the LibDems’ than the Tories. So what does Jo Swinson, the LibDems’ recently-elected leader, have to say about it?

Well of course, she repeatedly and summarily rules out forming a coalition or alliance with Jeremy Corbyn, while she unfailingly lies about what Corbyn’s policy is. At the same time, she never entirely seems to rule out a coalition or alliance with the Tories. I must emphasise that Swinson frequently speaks of Johnson in coruscating terms, but the nearest she comes to saying she will not ally with him is that she “will not support him”. This strongly implies no dirty deals, but is not quite the same as ruling one out. Certainly, Swinson does not condemn Johnson, or rule out working with him, nearly as often or as unambiguously as she does Corbyn. The anti-Brexiteer shows more sympathy for the No-Deal-Brexiteer than for the man adopting the more moderate position.

Jo Two-Face

What Jo Swinson says is always contradicted by other things she says.

The Tim Walker saga

This flip-flopping posture was made even worse this week by what happened to Tim Walker. Walker is a former Telegraph ‘journalist’ (how generous am I, using a term like that for someone who worked for that pompous rag?) who used to work closely with Johnson. However, due to his opposition to Brexit, Walker chose to stand as a LibDem candidate against the Tories in Canterbury, the former Conservative stronghold that shockingly fell to Labour in 2017. Rosie Duffield’s majority was under 200.

Walker’s candidacy was a pretty weird move by the LibDems from a pro-Remain perspective. As Duffield and Walker are both Remainers, it was clear his arrival on the Canterbury hustings could only split the Remain vote and let the Tories take the seat back, advancing the prospect of No-Deal. In fairness to Walker, this week he decided to stand down and let Duffield fight one-on-one (more or less) against Tory Anna Firth.

“Ah!” cry the LibDems’ defenders. “See? The LibDems taking a principled position, putting opposition to Brexit ahead of their own narrow interests.”

In Walker’s case, that is true, and one can applaud his decision to put himself second. But the problem is that, on learning that he had stepped down, Swinson responded by announcing that the party would find another candidate to contest the seat!

This not only defeated the object of Walker’s self-sacrifice, but it also ran completely contrary to the principle of pro-Remain – the very principle Walker had stood down under, and the principle that the LibDems are promoting as their main ‘selling-point’. For the “party of Remain” to do this should be anathema to them.

LibDem history does nothing to improve confidence

Any benefit-of-the-doubt Swinson has had up until now must therefore go. It is easy, and probably safe, to conclude that Swinson is adopting the positions she does simply because it gives the LibDems something to distinguish themselves from the Tories, (from whom they have gained a number of defectors who have ugly attitudes on other issues such as gay rights, which again raises doubts about how firmly the party holds its principles) and that she is not as fussed about preventing Brexit as she wants to appear. Yes, she is pro-Remain, but she will not risk any deduction in her party’s position in the House of Commons in order to stop Brexit.

If they gain enough support, the LibDems might, just might, win enough seats to hold the balance of power again, as happened in 1974 and 2010. But both times that they had that advantage, little good was sifted from it. In 1974, Jeremy Thorpe failed to secure an alliance from Ted Heath, and after a few months of a Labour minority Government, there had to be another Election. In 2010, Nick Clegg secured a coalition with David Cameron, and then enabled Austerity, allowing a massive hike in tuition fees that Clegg was expressly committed to opposing, among other backstabs.

So Liberal/LibDem records in attempted coalition are not pretty, and the clear worry is that, should they get into such a position again under Swinson, they will simply concede Brexit as the price of getting seats in the Cabinet once more. After all, if trebled tuition fees were not an excessive price for them when most of their support came from students nine years ago, well, what would be?

LibDem witnesses

#NickCleggsWitnesses – never let them into your House (of Commons). And on a somewhat less humorous note, have you ever seen two such obviously-false, ingratiating grins?

Jo Swinson simply is not what she wants Remainers to think she is

Therefore, it is the turn of Remainers around the country to face reality, the reality being that Jo Swinson is not the ‘Wonder Woman‘ saviour figure she wants them to believe she is. Many Remainers thought the LibDems were their only hope of stopping the undoubted misery of Brexit. In truth, there was little enough chance of a party with a smaller presence in the Commons than the Scottish National Party being able to win enough extra seats to end the madness anyway. But it is now clear that the LibDems are not nearly as passionate or steadfast on the issue as they like to sound. They are already showing various signs of compromising their “Stop-Brexit-at-the-cost-of-all-else” posture, in order to carry on leeching voters from Labour.

This, Remainers, is the reality; there is no reason, especially with their track record from nine years ago, to assume that the LibDems will not concede more, should that be the price of power.

by Martin Odoni

At some point in the next couple of weeks, all the national political parties in the UK will launch their Manifestos for the 2019 General Election. “Mass publication of end-of-year fiction,” the cynics will sneer. We often find that to be the case, it is true. Not always.

But one Manifesto that is guaranteed to be a completely-non-binding fantasy – it is physically impossible for it not to be – will be the Manifesto of the Liberal Democrats. It is an absolute mathematical certainty that whatever they promise in their Manifesto will bear no causal relationship with what they do in the somewhat unlikely event that they get into Government.

This is not just a reflection of their broken promises while in coalition from 2010-2015. Their GE2010 Manifesto was arguably more progressive than Labour’s, but once in office, they enabled a very harsh, regressive Conservative program of Austerity, only modestly watering it down.

LibDems Manifesto 2010

Exhibit A in the case against the Liberal Democrats since 2010.

But more pertinent is the excuse they came up with for abandoning their Manifesto during negotiations with the Tories. They argued that a coalition requires compromise between parties who have different aims. Therefore, in the event of a Hung Parliament, the Manifesto is taken off the table. The Manifesto, they said and continue to say, only applies in the event that they win the General Election outright.

If you think about this, you realise quite quickly that, at least in the LibDems’ case, that means the Manifesto will never be worth the paper it is written on, irrespective of whether there is a Hung Parliament. For while Jo Swinson may have convinced herself otherwise, in all honesty, the LibDems are not going to win a majority in the House of Commons at any time in the foreseeable future. The days of the old Liberal Party as one of the ‘big two’ parties came to an end between the World Wars, when Labour supplanted them as the party of the left. Since then, neither the Liberals, nor the Social Democratic Party, nor their post-merger successors, have ever come particularly close to breaking back into the top two, be it on vote count or seat count (debatable exception – 1983).

If a coalition is an excuse for a smaller party to disregard its own Manifesto, then everyone else should be ready to ignore it too as soon as it is launched, as there are no plausible circumstances under which it will be implemented.

Such a Manifesto will be a waste of paper, not worth the bother of reading.

by Martin Odoni

Much has happened in British politics through the course of 2019, but much of it has been to no particular avail. Relentless back-and-forth over Brexit has led only to repeated delays. There have been changes of leadership in both the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Parties, only for the same policy logjams to keep reappearing. Substantial numbers of Tories have been turfed out of their party for rebelling, only to be allowed back in as soon as a General Election is called. And so on.

Perhaps the most comical of these ‘mighty storms’ that never seem to make landfall was the establishment of the many-named ‘Independent Group/Change UK’ new centrist party.

Oh, have you forgotten them? This mob of klutzes; –

ELIMINATE SNAKEs 7

Like Blake’s 7, only all seven of them are Vila.

They broke away from the Labour Party back in February, reinforced by a couple of anti-Brexit Tories, and subsequently fell to pieces, reduced to a complete non-factor before the summer was out. Some of them are now in the LibDems, and several more are retiring from Parliament at the upcoming General Election.

One of the ones who is now a LibDem is Angela Smith. We might remember her as the person who got ‘The Independent Group’ off to a truly rousing start on their opening day by mumbling live on national television that people-of-colour have skin of “a funny tinge”. This week, as the Election campaign has been getting under way, Smith has had a rather unpleasant shock. She has learned that if she fails to win the seat she is standing for in Altrincham, she would not be entitled to a £22,000 ‘compensation’ package normally paid out to incumbent MPs when they are voted out. The reason Smith is not eligible for the payment is that she is not the incumbent MP in Altrincham & Sale West. Instead, she was elected in the 2017 poll as the Labour candidate for Penistone & Stocksbridge, but she is unable to stand there this time around, as the Liberal Democrats already have a candidate standing there.

Smith has gone as far as to complain publicly that she is the victim of discrimination. Which particular type of ‘discrimination’ this is – racial, gender, geographical, sexual orientation or others – she has not elaborated upon. But she loudly insists she is entitled to the payment, should she lose in Altrincham, and that Parliament is discriminating against her by withholding it.

And a defeat for Smith in her new constituency target does look pretty likely, given she would have to overturn a deficit of over 22,000 (oh, that number again?) for her party in the constituency in 2017. She would also have to stave off a Labour challenge in the constituency, which was also over 16,000 ahead of the LibDems two years ago. It is not exactly looking like a stroll-in-the-park for Smith.

I can only speak for myself on this of course, but I must admit, I am not exactly moved-to-tears by Smith’s ‘plight’. She thinks she has it rough because she might not get a loss-of-job cushion of two-months’-worth at about eight-times-the-National-Minimum-Wage rate. But that is her own fault for giving up the seat to which she was elected. That she felt the need to change parties is a matter between her and the party she left, it is none of Parliament’s business, which is only concerned with providing a cushion for incumbents who have not chosen to leave but have been forced out. And some might argue that these ‘parachute payments’ are already too generous, given how many people around the country in lower-paid, less-secure jobs have no severance packages on standby at all. So no, I do not look with sympathetic eyes in Smith’s direction.

Instead, I look at some of the people who desperately need a radical Labour Government, the prospect of which, Smith and her fellow ‘Tiggers’ tried very hard to avert. I look to the homeless, the destitute, the poor, the sick, the disabled, those dependent on foodbanks, those who need social care, all of whom have been royally dumped upon for nine years by successive Tory-led Governments. The first of those Governments was propped up by the very party Smith has now joined.

I look at the victims of toxic Austerity, and I find myself thinking, “Smith, you have the sort of problems many people would dream of.”

Homeless man feels bad for Angela Smith

Truly brings tears to the eyes to learn that Angela Smith will miss out on 22 thousand pounds.

Not that she is really getting any, but Smith deserves some trouble. As I say, she has spent most of the year trying to prevent a Government that would be willing to make radical changes required to provide housing for the homeless, to repair the NHS, to restore social care, and so on. If Smith is unable to see the travesty in her own behaviour, but somehow sees a travesty in herself missing out on tens of thousands of pounds that she will not even be doing any work for, then I for one am quite content for her to carry on feeling persecuted.

Eventful start to GE2019

November 6, 2019

by Martin Odoni

Well, that was a dramatic day. One minute after the end of the 5th of November, Parliament was officially dissolved. Not in a gunpowder blast of smoke and flame, but for a General Election. And yet a fuse was lit, it seems, for an explosion of events followed.

By the end of the day, Labour’s Deputy Leader, the odious Tom Watson, had stepped down, three Labour MPs were barred from standing in the party’s name (entirely wrongly in Chris Williamson’s case*), the Liberal Democrats’ literature campaign was exposed as a catalogue of fiction, the Conservative Party were caught red-handed handling vast sums of Russian money, a Conservative Minister had to resign due to lies he allegedly told relating to a rape trial, and the LibDem leader thought it was a strategically sound idea to boast that she was willing to destroy the world.

Consistency? Jo Swinson? Nah.

Swinson reversals

Jo Swinson’s policy record is very Torified and full of u-turns.

And that was all on day one of a five-week-plus Election campaign? Wow, this is going to be an eventful month.

Remember, remember, The Sixth of November? It seems we shall.

Watson’s little gambit is what I wish to look at for the moment. I am fairly sure he suddenly announced his departure from Parliament for entirely cynical reasons. The great majority of the Labour Party membership have wanted him gone for a long time, so he might have gone any time in the last eighteen months. His decision instead to resign on the day a General Election campaign begins, and especially after the aforementioned Chris Williamson was blocked from standing as a Labour candidate in the Election by the party’s National Executive Committee (of which Watson was a member prior to this evening), stinks of attempted campaign sabotage.

However, not for the first time in the last three years of bumbling centrist ‘chicken coups‘, I think Watson has fouled up. This is partly due to him misjudging how deeply he is hated in the party, but also partly due to his timing.

The hatred in which he is held by most of the party membership means they are happy to see the back of him whenever it happens. It could have been on Election day itself, they would still celebrate. He might have imagined a large minority begging him to change his mind, allowing him to portray himself as a martyred victim, and the party as being divided in chaos. So far, there is little evidence of that.

Anti-semitism in Labour

The outgoing Deputy Leader thinks his gambit will damage Labour’s campaign, but he’s wrong.

As for the timing, today was the day that the Tories officially launched their Election campaign. By pulling this rather narcissistic stunt today, Watson has done Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign an inadvertent favour, as he has drawn attention away from the Tories’ big launch event, which had been causing few enough waves to start with; –

Tiny crowd at Tory launch event 2019

Look familiar? David Cameron pulled the same trick in 2015.

I believe the word you are looking for, Watson, is Oops.

This trick was already employed only last week, when Owen Smith (remember him? No? I needed reminding too) tried to draw attention away from the vote in the House of Commons for a General Election by resigning from Parliament as well.

And yes, there will probably be more right wing departures from the Shadow Cabinet or the Labour Party over the course of the campaign. Look out for Margaret Hodge probably resigning the whip on the day Labour launches its manifesto, and maybe Wes Streeting or Jess Phillips following suit on the eve of the Election.

The Labour Right can never grasp that their timing is always too blatant, and their theatrics too obviously over-orchestrated, to be convincing. That, they may one day realise, is precisely why Jeremy Corbyn, in all his relaxed humour and earthiness, has far more appeal than they have.

Anyway, the Sixth of November is more or less done. What we need to remember, remember now is the Twelfth of December.

Remember Remember the 12th of December

Guy Fawkes had to blow up Parliament to get rid of an unwanted Government. You have the option to vote one out. So do so.

________

* Chris has sadly, but perfectly understandably, resigned from the Labour Party this evening.

by Martin Odoni

The Parliamentary debates over whether to have a General Election have really drawn attention to the disregard for nuance in British politics. This has been driven by rather blatant ‘tactical false accusation’ (read: ‘lying’) on the part of Conservative MPs – a sadly standard strategy of politics more widely.

The Labour Party has been consistently pushing for a new General Election for over two years, as a solution to the unending gridlock of Theresa May’s Hung Parliament. That consistency finally came to an end in recent weeks with the realisation that May’s successor as Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, the ‘freshly-boiled clown’ according to John Oliver, might manipulate the process to force through a No Deal Brexit. (That is of course the real reason for the Tory decision to prorogue Parliament for a highly irregular five weeks.)

Boris Johnson - a boiled clown

John Oliver, of the popular ‘cookery show’ (honest!) Last Week Tonight, has a handy make-your-own-BoJob guide.

For this reason, Jeremy Corbyn and most of the Shadow Cabinet have suspended their calls for a Snap Election. They have been very clear, up-front, honest and explicit about why they will not support a Dissolution of the present Parliament for the next few weeks: They oppose leaving the European Union without a deal, and they do not trust Johnson – and who can possibly blame them? – not to use the Dissolution to run down the clock and make it impossible to avoid ‘crashing out’. As is well-recorded, such a crash-out would be disastrous, and so opposing it is well merited, and despite the deceitful claims of Brexiteers, it absolutely does not contravene the outcome of the 2016 Referendum.

In circumstances this exceptional – and beyond doubt they are as exceptional as they can get – a suspension of a policy that would run so completely contrary to efforts to mitigate them is entirely reasonable. Quite simply, avoiding No Deal has to be the highest priority. Unfortunately, the aforementioned disregard for nuance means that it is not being interpreted that way.

Essentially, no matter how many times that Labour spokespeople – including Jeremy Corbyn – have stated up-front that they are putting the policy on temporary hold, and their reasons why, Conservative MPs, Brexiteers, and many media figures, claim that it is an ‘extraordinary and inexplicable change-of-heart’ and that it is happening because Labour are ‘scared’ of losing an Election.

Now it is fair to say that in recent months, the opinion polls have not been encouraging for Labour, due to widespread misinterpretations of its Brexit policy and to the boost the Tories got from a new Prime Minister’s inevitable ‘honeymoon period’. However, the polls are not as bad for Labour as they were looking about three weeks ago, as the so-called ‘Boris Bounce’ has been stalled by Johnson’s own anti-constitutional recent behaviour.

Comres Poll 6-8 Sept

A ComRes poll for 6th-to-8th September 2019 suggests Labour are breathing right down the Tories’ necks again, and this was before the chaos of Monday.

Labour are talking quite openly and confidently about a new Election, and it is quite clear that once they are certain that No Deal is off the table until at least Christmas, they will resume pursuit of this Government’s demise. They have stated and re-stated this position, but during recent debates, Conservatives have repeatedly acted like they have either not heard it, or like they are too idiotic to understand it. I am not convinced that the Tories are doing themselves any favours by adopting this approach.

The ‘Labour’s-too-scared’ accusation was stated, by my count, at least six times, several times by the same MP, during the various debates on Monday before Parliament was formally suspended. It seems that the Tories have committed to using a tediously familiar political tactic sometimes known as The Big Lie. This is the habit of just stridently declaring something they know is not true over-and-over, repeating it until everybody starts taking it as a given. This is the tactic Josef Goebbels is wrongly assumed to have ‘codified’, so to speak.

To a greater or lesser extent, Tories can get away with this sort of stubborn insistence outside the House of Commons when there is no one on hand to correct them. The problem with using the tactic in a Parliamentary debate though is that, highly likely, the opponent they are speaking about is on hand to correct them. Labour MPs repeatedly answered the charge on Monday, only for Tory opponents to reiterate the same false claim. The danger to the Tories of doing so when having already been corrected, especially if they keep doing it endlessly, is that it is as likely to backfire as it is to damage Labour. The Tory MPs will look either dishonest and petulant, or worse, they will look like they are so stupid that they genuinely cannot understand the really straightforward and clear-cut explanation for holding back from a new General Election for a few weeks.

Given that the real explanation is so easy-to-understand, and indeed would be pretty easy to figure out even without any helpful nudges from Jeremy Corbyn et al, this Tory dishonesty could even be seen as rather insulting to the intelligence of the public. Regardless, it is unlikely to impress anyone who does not already support the Tories. Being transparently stupid or dishonest or insulting to the public usually pushes the electorate into voting for someone else.

There were other plainly stupid arguments I heard from Tory MPs on Monday – apologies that I am unable to remember most of the names, and I do not consider it a worthy use of time searching through eleven hours of video to look them up. (If you wish to complain about my skimping, feel free to write to your MP. Just do not expect them to send you an honest answer.)

John Redwood argued that the European Union will not re-negotiate Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement. Quite untrue. They have explicitly stated that they will not renegotiate on Britain’s present terms. But they are open to renegotiate if May’s silly, posturing ‘red lines‘ are removed, and if the UK can come up with a feasible alternative to the ‘Northern Ireland Backstop’. This has again been stated and re-stated continuously, so Redwood is either being (entirely characteristically) disingenuous, or he is just too stupid to understand the very obvious nuance.

A female Tory in a pink cardigan intervened to object that the Liberal Democrats’ desire to renegotiate the Agreement was unrealistic because it would take far more time than would be available before the current deadline of 31st October. I was actually saying, “Duuuhhhhh!” in the direction of the screen when I heard her say this. After all, who was not aware of that? Did she think the LibDems were trying to keep that a secret? It is the whole reason why the LibDems support an extension to Article 50 in the first place. It, again, has been made explicitly clear many times, and so it is quite impossible to imagine what points the Tory MP was expecting to score off of that.

I saw another male MP arguing that, because people are not allowed to pick and choose which laws they are prepared to obey and which they are not, so MPs cannot pick and choose which Referendum results they are prepared to obey. This was below asinine. For one thing, as has (yet agaaaaaaaaaaaaaainnnnnnn-grrrraaaahhhh!) been pointed out relentlessly, a Referendum is not defined in British law at all. Even if it were, that would not necessarily make the actual outcome of one binding. So this is very much a case of an apples-‘n’-oranges analogy, and any MP is in fact well within their rights to ignore the result of a Referendum. This is not to suggest it would be wise or honourable to do so, only to make clear that there is no point invoking the law to pressurise politicians where the law has no place. The implication is also dishonest once more, in that hardly anyone, at least outside the minuscule ranks of the Liberal Democrats, has been trying to ‘ignore’ the result of the Referendum. The great majority of MPs are not trying to terminate Brexit, they are simply trying to stave off a No Deal Brexit, a position that does not contravene the Referendum result. Very obvious nuance ignored again.

If you do not wish to believe that the Tories have underhanded reasons for saying this, well, credit to you for wanting to see the best in people. But if you do not see dishonesty, you must objectively see stupidity. It is one, the other, or even both.

It cannot be neither.