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Waiting in the long grass… the UK electorate?  June 29, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.



Chris Jones in the IT last week argued that a year ago when the referendum result was announced he already had a column written from a Remain victory perspective. I’ve got to be honest, I was less and less convinced that it would win in the fortnight before the vote. It was just too close in the polls and I think had you asked me to put money on it I would have said it would go 55/45 to Leave. As it happens it was even more knife edge than that – something that it seems reasonable to suggest has been part of the subsequent problem and may have inflected May’s approach of utter certainty. Because it was almost a 50/50 vote and therefore discerning how to proceed was almost impossible.

That May was ultimately undone by her propensity to repeat seemingly gnomic soundbites such as ‘Brexit is Brexit’ is ironic. Perhaps more ironic is that Brexit did not life the Tories to an overall victory and that economic issues other than that played a larger part. Though, and I’m not immune to this argument, given how Brexit impacts on all else it is not hard to view the election as a lost opportunity.

But Johns I think is incorrect in some of what he says…

The capture of both the Labour Party and the Conservatives by their respective hard left and right wings risks the destruction of the political centre ground.

Here’s the irony. Last week I noted that Brendan O’Neill has an almost entirely contrary argument, arguing that Labour in the UK has become an elite party of the middle class. Isn’t that almost a definition of the contemporary centre ground. I don’t think O’Neill is correct as it happens, but I do think that ‘moderate’ opinion, centre ground opinion did indeed swing behind the BLP, on Brexit and on other issues. Indeed Johns is an old enough hand to know that what the BLP offered was a notably moderate programme in all respects (so much so that Polly Toynbee waxed lyric over the manifesto, while still getting the digs in at Corbyn).

Still I think Johns is on firmer ground in the following:

Europe is about history, much more than it is about economics. And that’s something that few inhabitants of Westminster are interested in. History is not a strong suit of the Brexiteers.

Europhile UK politicians – like ex-chancellor Ken Clarke – have always pretended that the EU is just a free trade area. Clarke is smart and knows full well that economics is almost incidental to the EU’s raison d’etre.

But nobody has ever fully explained Europe to the British people, which is one reason why so many do not like it. Whatever it is that the EU stands for has been well hidden from the UK electorate.

And arguably from lots of others. And that has for many involved in the EU project been a feature, not a glitch. Which is a real problem with said project, not least for what it tells us about at least some involved in it. And he continues:

The British did not, and do not like the implicit dishonesty. Until Europe figures all this out, the “democratic deficit” will remain a troubling faultline – and not just for the British.

There’s more than an element of truth in this and it remains a huge weakness of the EU. Indeed GW was saying just the other day, correctly to my mind, that the EU remains extremely problematic and has many many aspects that need to be reformed or jettisoned entirely. And if they can’t be? Well, then we move in to different territory.

Johns has some other interesting thoughts, not least as to why economic growth was sustained in the UK post-referendum. He argues that consumer spending remained buoyant after… but…

In fact, British consumers felt optimistic enough to run down their savings at a faster rate than pre-referendum. But this is where the baby got thrown out with the bathwater; economics is actually quite good at saying what will happen but extremely poor at saying when. Now, finally, the economy is slowing, house prices probably falling and rising inflation is eroding real incomes. The final shoe to drop is probably close and will be heard when unemployment starts to rise. That’s a vista too awful to contemplate for Tories pondering the likelihood of another election some time over the next year or two. The revenge of the electorate will be brutal during an economic slowdown.

It does seem as if economic indicators are beginning to look a lot bleaker for the UK. And all this ahead of actual exit.

How does that play into politics there? I’m almost afraid to predict that this will be to the benefit of the BLP. But it should and if the BLP can continue to on the broad course it has already charted it most likely will.


1. simonjkyte - June 29, 2017

May can’t call an election because there is too much risk of her losing completely this time. Corbyn can’t focus on Brexit so he is focusing on austerity instead. the Tory backbenchers know they have some potential power but so does the DUP. And then there is hammond, Farron, Boris….


2. EWI - June 29, 2017

To me, the EEC/EU was a broad Social/Christian Democratic project to guard against a return to war (and incidentally, fascism). It’s now been captured by the neoliberals, an invasion that kicked off via Thatcherism, which has inevitably led to its current severe problems.


GW - June 29, 2017

The early years of the EEC also had a lot to do with the manouvering between France, Adenauer’s Germany and the occupying powers around the form and relations of the German Bundesrepublik after WWII during the 50s and 60s.


3. Joe - June 29, 2017

It’s very similar to the situation in Dáil Éireann – arithmetically anyway.
Corbyn just needs to play it straight for as long as he can. The ideal scenario would be a tory meltdown and split over Brexit – entirely possible one would think. The govt falls and an election is called. You would think there could only be one winner…


GW - June 29, 2017

Yes, play it straight and let the Tories take the political Brexit damage.

But once an election is called, Labour need to make their Brexit position clear.


4. sonofstan - July 2, 2017


Corbyn’s reinvigorated party is now on 45%, six points ahead of the Tories (on 39%), which if replicated in a general election would put Corbyn in a strong position to enter Downing Street as prime minister if one was called in the near future.

On 9 April, May’s approval rating stood at an impressive +21% (where the percentage of those who disapprove of her leadership is subtracted from the number who approve) while that for Corbyn had sunk to -35%.

In an extraordinary turnaround, May’s rating is now at -20% (with 31% approving her leadership and 51% disapproving) while Corbyn’s has risen to +4% with more approving of his stewardship of Labour (42%) than disapproving (38%).

Saw a great T-shirt yesterday on someone returning from demo – Picture of a rat with the caption ‘you’re never more than 10 feet from a Tory’

Liked by 1 person

5. sonofstan - July 2, 2017

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