Brexel 1 – My term for the general election called by Mrs May in June 2017. Her sole reason for calling Brexel 1 was to strengthen her negotiating position with the other 27 EU countries – an objective which she failed by a wide margin to achieve.
Brexel 2 – My term for the forthcoming General Election which will be fought mainly on the painfully protracted pros and cons of Brexit.
Those arguing for the latter will be seeking to reverse the outcome of the in/out referendum held in June 2016.
Let me declare an interest at the outset – I remain a committed Remainer. My devotion to the Remainer cause grows stronger with every development and revelation.
Two other definitions:
Brexit – common term to denote the scheduled departure from European Institutions by the UK.
Mexit – My term for the likely departure of Mrs May from No 10 before the end of January, 2018
“Not another one” – A lament from Brenda – from Bristol – on hearing that Mrs May, bolstered by her walk in the Welsh Hills, had called for a general election on June 8th.
My dear Brenda from Bristol – I’m afraid that the events which triggered your exasperation back in June, 2017 are about to be repeated and that another general election will be called in the very near future.
“They (the Labour Party) can be the party for overturning the referendum altogether… Or they can let the government have its way. There are no other options.”
Lord Finkelstein, The Times, December 6, 2017
I am not sure that Lord Finkelstein is right in his clear short list of options for the Labour party. However I hope that the Labour Party DOES opt to reverse the June 23, 2016 referendum and that the Labour Party wins the Brexel 2 election.
A stroll down memory lane – Notes on the turbulent 2 years from the 2015 general election to the June, 2017 general election
General Election held in June 2015:- The Conservatives managed to shake off the shackles that had tied them to the Lib Dems and secure a narrow but perfectly workable overall majority over all the other parties combined. A happy day for David Cameron.
The only cloud on the horizon – soon to become a typhoon – was his rash but firm promise to hold a referendum on the UK membership of the EU.
Two immediate casualties of the Tory win were the departures of Mr Miliband (E) and Mr Clegg from their jobs as the leaders of the Labour party and of the Liberal Democrats respectively.
September, 2015 – In the election held to determine the replacement for Mr Miliband (E) – Mr Corbyn won by a large margin, securing around 60% of the votes cast, with the remaining 40% shared between Mr Burnham, Ms Cooper and Ms Kendall. Given that Mr Corbyn only made it onto the list of candidates because of a capricious decision by some senior Labour figures – who ought to have known better – to make the contest more diverse and more interesting – this was a truly astonishing outcome.
June 23, 2016 — The date of the in-out referendum – another startling result – a narrow majority in favour of leaving the EU – consternation and recriminations all round.
The main casualty here was Mr Cameron himself – he resigned immediately, thus triggering an election for a new leader of the Tory party and, rather more importantly, a new prime minister.
There followed a few weeks of entertaining farce the highlight of which was the knifing of BOJO by Michael Gove – oh joy unbounded. Mr Gove came a poor third in the first ballot thus demonstrating the shrewd judgement of the Tory electorate. There was a further confused interval in which Mrs Leadsom fell by the wayside after suggesting that maternity should be an essential qualification for a woman Prime Minister.
The thought occurred to me that, according to this novel criterion in the election process, my mother, and the mother of my 8 siblings would have been admirably qualified for a leadership role – but I digress.
September, 2016 – Meanwhile Labour MPs were far too pre-occupied with their own problems to worry about the internal and national and international problems afflicting the Tory party.
Mr Corbyn had not managed to win the hearts and minds of the Parliamentary Labour Party and accordingly enough pressure built up to force a second leadership election on the grounds that there was a widespread lack of confidence in his performance. JC was judged to be a decent enough chap but sadly it was felt that under his leadership the Labour Party was unelectable.
It was unfortunate that the MP who stood against him, Owen Smith, had recently been rejected by the electorate as the Labour candidate in Blaenau Gwent – one of the safest labour seats in Westminster.
Obviously Mr Smith had relevant painful first hand experience about who is and who is not electable.
For whatever reason or combination of reasons Mr Corbyn scored a second overwhelming majority.
November, 2016 – yet another surprising outcome from the democratic process, this time with global implications and repercussions – Mr Trump was elected President USA – as if the world did not have enough problems. Mr Trump is currently arranging for the US embassy in Israel to relocate from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – a change that has not won universal approval in the Arab world, or indeed anywhere else on the globe.
April 17, 2017 – I recall that I went walking in the Welsh hills and that my feelings were limited to jubilation when I made it to the top of Waun Rhyd.
April 18, 2017 – Mrs May was and is made of sterner stuff. After her walk in the Welsh hills at around the same time she announced that there would be a General Election on June 8. She explained her decision to renege on her previous resolve not hold an election because it was important to demonstrate to our EU partners that we were as one in our collective resolve to make our own way in the political life to come.
Given the importance of the Brexit issue throughout the campaign I referred to the election as the Brexel election – there is much fun to be had by manipulating those 4 letters – BREX.
April 18 to June 8 – A protracted election campaign which to a considerable degree centred on the extent to which the Tories would increase the slender but adequate lead – to be precise 17 – secured by Mr Cameron just 12 months previously.
My own prediction of the result was based on what the bookmakers were predicting – after all what do I know? The bookies were predicting not the outcome that I hoped for but the outcome that I dreaded – a Tory majority of around 90 seats over all other parties combined.
It is worth repeating the gist of the various forecasts and of the possible consequences of each forecast.
Those with long memories will recall that the Tory Brexel strategy was excessively focused on the alleged strengths of Mrs May and the perceived fragility of Mr Corbyn.
Firstly, if the Tory majority was actually diminished, the consensus was that (a) Mrs May would resign immediately and that (b) Jeremy Corbyn would be very secure in his position as Labour leader.
If the Tories secured a majority of, say, 18-40, then a weakened Mrs May would solider on (Corbyn again secure); 41-75, and May’s decision to go to the polls is justified, while Corbyn might cling on; 76 and above (the outcome predicted by the bookmakers with 12 hours to go before the election) would have represented a ringing endorsement for May, and a P45 for Corbyn.
June 8, 2017 – The Brexel/ Brexit General Election – a very significant day in the political history of the UK.
“What happened, what happened, I’m coming to that”
The Witnesses – WH Auden
Mrs May lost her majority and her authority was significantly eroded.
Mr Corbyn was and remains understandably jubilant.
Some – not all – Tory party knives were out for Mrs May.
Many Labour MPs who were hoping to see the back of Corbyn were both wrong footed and crestfallen by actual outcome.
A BBC documentary – “Labour – the summer that changed everything”- recently reported on the confusion within the ranks of the Parliamentary Labour Party as the likely consequences of the actual outcome sank in. Cue for a mass switch by Labour Party MPs as they grasped the implications for themselves of the outcome.
The programme makes for highly entertaining and rewarding viewing and I can recommend it – via Youtube.
I was very pleased about the outcome but rattled about my inability to sense the change in the public mood – I had gloomily albeit confidently anticipated that the Bookies would get it right.
I suspect that Paddy Power and William Hill et al will in future stick with the outcomes of rather more rational and predictable matters – the Bookmaker business model allows zero scope for losses.
Notes on the even more turbulent 6 months from June 9 to date
In the immediate aftermath of Brexel 1 – a shaky understanding was arrived at with the DUP – not a coalition – in order to enable Mrs May to stay in No 10. This shaky understanding was adequately lubricated with a large bribe from a government that had been previously stressing the need for austerity and belt tightening.
To this outsider, the proceedings at the heart of HMG since the arrival in No 10 of Mrs May in June 2016 can best be summed as the ongoing effing fiasco. In no special order the collective performance of Mrs May and her cabinet colleagues can be described as faltering, floundering, foundering, failing, flailing, frustrated, fulminating, festering, furious and fractious.
Another eff word suggested itself but the decencies must be observed.
What about Mrs May?
“We have the weakest PM in living memory
The time has come to acknowledge that Theresa May is unsuited to leadership and must be replaced urgently
Headlines above a piece by Iain Martin, The Times, December 7, 2017
Mr Martin was less than well disposed towards Mrs May and he explained his views in a thousand well chosen words.
Sadly his piece descended into bathos in his last paragraph – “ whether the job falls to Michael Gove or Amber Rudd or Boris Johnson, the key figures need to meet immediately … to agree on a replacement.”
This somewhat implausible suggestion raises the question – did Mr Martin get this fairy tale from GOBO?
So – what happens next? – Possible outcomes to the Mexit dilemma
At some early date a sufficient number of Tory MPs – a dozen or so will do the trick – may decide that they can’t take any more, and trigger a confidence vote which would be lost thus precipitating a General Election.
Or, Mrs May – no one else – decides that attack is the best form of defence and calls a General Election. Her persuasive logic here would be that Brexel 2 would be rather more about issues – to be precise about Brexit – and rather less about strong and stable leadership as was the case with Brexel 1
What outcomes do I want :- In no special order –
A coalition to be formed comprising all those whose over-riding political objective is to reverse the outcome of the June 2016 referendum.
In terms of practical politics – I hope and suspect that this coalition will consist of a Labour Party that will have undergone a dramatic conversion similar to that experienced by St Paul en route from Jerusalem to Damascus – Jericho, together with all the Lib Dems, the SNP and a significant number of Tories weary of the Brexit fiasco.
A brief digression.
“Brexit tribes are tearing our country in two- The lazy labels of “Remainer” and “Leaver” are stifling debate and spreading hateful stereotypes”
Headline above a piece by Clare Foges The Times December 4
Ms Foges castigates those responsible for creating a tetchy climate of mutual antagonism rather than rational exchanges of views.
At one point she noted that “Remainers are cast as the metropolitan elite ( I live in the suburbs of Pontypool), the ones drinking stupidly expensive coffee – (I never drink coffee) – who are to be found campaigning for transgender toilets – not a topic when I was in my prime many years ago – and – so on and so on.
My failure to fit in to any of the various alleged attributes of the Remainer tribe caused me to worry – albeit briefly – if I am in the wrong tribe.
Back to a plausible manifesto for the Remainers in the forthcoming Brexel 2
A selection along the following lines should do the trick
1.1 – The UK to stay in Europe. After the Brexit election has been won – back to Business as Usual. All other electoral issues pale into insignificance by comparison.
1.2. Nationalise the utilities. This proposal has nothing to do with the ideology of Karl Marx and everything to do with restraining the avarice of senior managers as they ruthlessly exploit their monopoly and near monopoly positions in the national economy.
1.3 – Tax rates for the rich to soar way above the modest 50% suggested by Mr McDonnell. The logic behind this proposal is to encourage those on the highest incomes to spend a little more time on the work that they are paid to do and a little less time on looting the system – Vice Chancellors – please note – we know where you live.
1.4. For senior managers in the financial sector – bring in other measures over and above increasing the top rate of tax. These other measures to end the payment of bonus elements designed by themselves and their cronies. The principal reward element to be that senior managers get to keep their jobs if it can be demonstrated that their performance is up to the required standard.
1.5. “The Winner’s Shout, the losers curse/Dance before dead England’s hearse.
William Blake -”Auguries of Innocence
It is bad enough being poor, bad enough not having a secure job, bad enough having no access to affordable housing without the exposure to the vultures looking to loot the most vulnerable in our society. There are plenty more opportunities to put some flesh on the bones of Mr Corbyn’s wish to govern for the many not the few but these will suffice for now.
Mr Corbyn – what has he been up to in the past six months.
* Wisely keeping his head down and his powder dry
* Ongoing abuse from Messrs Dacre and Murdoch – no surprise there
* Possibly relishing the discomfort of those in the party who had sought his departure.
A brief Corbyn digression
Conventional wisdom back in the summer of 2015 had it that the plausible three candidates -Burnham, Cooper and Kendall – were all thought to be capable of giving David Cameron a run for his money, a run that did not exclude arrival in No 10. How did it come about that a candidate widely perceived as a no hoper BEFORE the leadership election was elected by a huge majority over the plausible three?
I can only guess at the reason(s) for the unexpected outcome but I suspect that by far the most crucial reason in the minds of the 2015 electorate was that the election of any one of the plausible 3 would simply represent more of the same and that the electors in their collective wisdom comprehensively rejected that option.
This raises the question – how does a party deal with a situation in which a huge gap opens up between the views and aspirations of the leaders and the led.
Just as the great majority of Labour MPS had no confidence in JC, so, or so it would appear, the great majority of Labour Party members had lost confidence in their elected representatives in the House of Commons.
It would not be easy to find high calibre replacements for the vast majority of the current crop of Labour Party MPs. Equally it would not be easy to discard the current crop of around half a million seemingly truculent party members and replace them with the same number of pliable tranquil equable members.
A Situation Report as of December 2017
According to some reports
* Labour lead the Tories at the polls
* Remainers lead brexiteers in the polls, especially among the young
* Most MPs would reverse the outcome of the June 2016 if the opportunity to do so were to arise. Well I have news for them – that opportunity may well be imminent.
* The most accomplished harvester of votes in modern times is said to be preparing to re-enter the political arena to support our continued membership of the EU. MY ACE TO BE TONY BLAIR.
Stop press – The Roller Coaster effect
1. Mrs May returns triumphant from Brussels – a worthy successor to the Iron Lady
2. Whoops – we spoke too soon –
“Eleven egotists and act of sheer treachery
Headline above a Daily Mail editorial – December 14.
It seems a bit over the top to compare the eleven rebels to Mr Quisling and Lord Haw Haw but, as noted, we are living in turbulent times.
3. What about an election slogan for the remainers in the Brexel 2 contest that is just around the corner
How about – from the collected sayings of Rupert Murdoch – F*** Dacre