Ten political thoughts for August 2017

by Jonathan Todd

August is a time to take stock. Particularly so after a wild twelve months in politics. Here with ten thoughts.

1.) There will be no early general election

Tories can’t agree on much. But they are united in not wanting Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister and will do whatever they can to avoid an early general election that might bring this about.

Labour are powerful enough to subject the Tories to gruelling, parliamentary war but too weak for this to end in an early general election.

2.) Theresa May probably isn’t going anywhere fast

The Tories can’t agree on what form of Brexit should take and, as candidates reflect different Brexit flavours, a successor to Theresa May.

More chairperson than chief executive, she is condemned to try to navigate a peace between the tribes. Which may just hold if, before the election, she both delivers some form of Brexit and stands aside to enable a leadership election in which the post-Brexit Tory future will be personified.

3.) Cliff-edge Brexit is still possible

When Nick Timothy reappeared, the beard was gone. But the cant that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ wasn’t. It would be funny if it wasn’t tragic.

Lord Macpherson, until last year the top official at the Treasury , is quoted (£) as saying the “absence of realism in the government’s approach makes ‘no deal’ an evens chance.”

The magnitude of the calamity that ‘no deal’ portends cannot be understated and no responsible British politician would do anything to encourage this.

4.) But de jure Brexit, de facto Remain may now be the most likely outcome

Uncut does not know the government’s position on free movement. But the contours emerging amount to:

Free movement ends in March 2019 when the UK exits the EU but beyond that date, the government will support whatever arrangements British business tells us are necessary.

The de jure situation would change (free movement would be a prerogative of the UK government) but the de facto one wouldn’t much (our economy will still need and allow comparable numbers of immigrants to arrive from the continent).

Across the Brexit piece, something like this, perhaps, lurks behind the heightened emphasis on “transition” and the dose of realism that this represents.

5.) De jure Brexit, de facto Remain would avoid complete disaster – but is still inferior to Remain

Fudge and mimicry of existing arrangements is superior to crashing over the Brexit cliff but inferior to maximum influence over future arrangements afforded by UK membership of the EU.

The UK would be politically diminished and this would undermine our competitiveness as the rules that we mimic are ever more framed in the interests of others.

6.) Remain probably depends on another referendum – and there are lots of roads to that

There seems, alas, no realistic scenario in which a party fights and wins a general election before the Article 50 window closes on a clear platform to reverse it and stay in the EU.

Only a second referendum can now keep us in the EU. Vernon Bogdanor explains the drivers towards that.

7.) Lexit is nonsense

Many on the left reluctantly insist that the verdict of the 23 June 2016 referendum must hold. Others not only see the referendum as democratically binding but containing the seeds of a new socialism.

If anything can stop capitalism’s fat cats, Larry Elliott writes, it’s Brexit. Lexit is misguided – good luck to a post-Brexit Britain in securing trading arrangements on a floor as high on consumer, worker and environmental standards as those of the EU – but it becomes ever harder to avoid the suspicion that it represents the authentic view of the Labour leader.

8.) Ten years of stagnant economics have made politics electric

This is the headline of Tom Clark’s piece in August’s Prospect. When all that is solid continues to melt into the air, to paraphrase the persuasive economic determinism of his argument, it is hard to know where we’re headed. With the Bank of England reporting that real income growth has not been as weak in the UK since the middle of the nineteenth century, this driver of the unexpected remains.

Uncut suspects, though – pace Elliott and fellow travellers – this won’t end in socialism in one country. Notwithstanding 40 percent of the public voting for Corbyn, it remains to be seen whether the public would vote for this. And the successful deliverability of such a programme is even more questionable.

9.) There is coherence to anti-Trump America – is that true of anti-Brexit Britain?

Pod Save America is a window on an America that is clear eyed about the damage that President Trump is doing, focused on campaigning to limit this harm, and determined to build a country that lives up to the best of its ideals.

Cowed by Corbynism, discombobulated by Brexit, still coming to terms with an economic crash that happened a decade ago, we might wonder whether pro-European social democrats can match this coherence and passion.

10.) Know your truth and speak it

From Donald Trump to Jeremy Corbyn, from Nigel Farage to Emmanuel Macron, those who have prospered in our febrile times have painted in broad strokes. They have, as per the Manic Street Preachers album derived from Nye Bevan, known their truth and spoken it. It is past time that pro-European social democrats did.

Jonathan Todd is Deputy Editor of Labour Uncut  

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9 Responses to “Ten political thoughts for August 2017”

  1. steve says:

    If ‘Pod Save America’ is the best U.S. Democrats can do then they’re finished.

    Any attempt at a replication in the U.K. would achieve nothing. I do understand that Blairite ‘communication consultants’ are desperate for new career opportunities but really, if they were able to deflate their egos they would find greater fulfillment by volunteering in charity shops.

    In truth, the situation highlights the political bankruptcy of the Blairite and Democrat project. The Blairites are unable to offer an alternative to Corbyn and their impotency only serves to superchange their antagonism. Critical thought, it appears, is beyond them. So they stay in the Labour Party, vomitting their bile and soiling the nest they claim they want to save.

    Of course, it they could think in a straight line they, as other anti-Corbyners who used to write for this blog have done, would join the Tory Party.

    The reality is that only the Tories can defeat Corbyn at the next general election – if you are serious about opposing Corbyn, abandon your bitterness, face reality and do the right thing: join the Tories.

  2. John P Reid says:

    Well reading this ,is a minute of my life I ain’t get back,

  3. Anne says:

    It is with sadness that I agree with these points. The present situation could have been avoided.
    Regarding the last point – it is very concerning the language that Donald Trump is using to North Korea – as is North Korea’s development of nuclear arms.

  4. paul barker says:

    One thing that British Social Democrats can do is to join a Party that backs Social Democracy, whose Leader is a Social Democrat & which campaigns to stop or reverse Brexit. Thats not The Labour Party is it ?

  5. Tafia says:

    Anne, what do you expect the President to say to a country that is nuclear capable, run by a certifiable lunatic and has threatened US allies (Japan etc) and threatened US terrirtory (Guam).

    North Korea has entered the big boys league – and inn the big boys league they play by big boys rules. One of three things will happen with North Korea:-

    1. They launch a strike in which case they will be very quickly and summarily destroyed from one end to the other by US air power – of which there is far far more in theatre than in Iraq at it’s peak.
    2. China invades them on the ground and seizes control of the country.
    3. Kim’s Generals stage a coup ( in which case they will also invade South Korea straight away because they are delude enough to do it)

    North Korea is a serious problem and it is going to end in serious and severe bloodshed for the north, of that there is no doubt. There is literally no way of stopping that now. The population is fanatical totally brain-washed and has no knowledge of the outside world (even North Korean TV sets and radios do not pick up frequencies used outside North Korea and there is no external internet), the Generals believe absolutely that they can beat the US, Japan and the South combined – and Kim is a psychopath who has unshakeable belief in his own glory.

    At some stage in the next couple of years North Korea will be reduced to rubble from one end to the other – as a nation they are expendable bur they haven’t realiswed that.

  6. Tafia says:

    England is moving away from the centre ground: both to the right and to the Left. Corbyn taking 40% of the vote despite the relative loss of Scotland is era defining. It is only the third time since the 1960s that Labour has taken 40% of the UK national vote in a General Election (and I think the frst time they have ever done that and lost!). It is the first time without doing the same in Scotland. More voters in England went for Corbyn’s Labour than did for Blair’s Labour in 2001 or 2005.

    The politcal landscape is changing and it is changing rapidly and is not under the politicians control. I can guarentee you that if Mays government lasts until 2022 (more likely than not) May, Corbyn, Cable, Sturgeon and Wood will not be leaders of their parties and in all probablility their replacements aren’t even on the radar currently.

  7. Tafia says:

    I posted too soon:-

    And don’t forget, despite the very poor showing by UKIP, the Try/UKIP vote across the UK was well over 50% (I think this is the third general election on the trot that as happened?) – and when you look at just England, (UKIP is minimal outside England) the Tory/UKIP figure is even higher. To further compound matters, amongst what should be the Labour bedrock vote – the lower end of C1, C2, D & E, yet again the tories out-polled Labour. And Labour’s vote actually declined in areas you would assume it would increase – such as the East Midlands, the old industrial north etc.

  8. John P Reid says:

    Trevor ,the Tories got more votes in England in both October 1974 and 2005 yet labour got more votes than them altogether in the uk ,would you say due to this ,those elections weren’t valid

  9. swat says:

    ‘Never cast a clout till May is out’.
    More likely that May will be booted out long before 2019 let alone 2020.
    Either by her own Party or by the people in another GE, fed up with the incompetence of the Tories.
    There have been more gaffes by this Govt than Trump in the last six months. The Tories have shown that they are simply not fit to govern, in which case Labour should be geared up to take them on.
    Corbyn may have the vision for a New Britain, but has he the skills to bring that about? Doubtful.

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