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Conservative? Unionist? June 24, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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So, Boris Johnson’s rise to the top, hitherto largely unimpeded has hit a small, but not yet clearly unimportant, hitch this last weekend when, near inexplicably, his private life went very public indeed. The odd thing is how much of a unforced error this is. No one went after him. Quite the opposite. And yet that has to at the very least bring the question of his suitability for leadership of the Tories into a degree of question. For if this is the sort of unforced error he makes, it’s quite a one, and when stacked up against other errors he has made in office… well, it adds to a not entirely flattering picture.

One has to suspect if he was up against someone with more heft than Hunt he might be in real trouble. As it is it raises questions he might prefer left unarticulated at this particular point in time. So, I’d still think him likely to be leader but somewhat less likely than on Friday afternoon. UK Polling Report suggests some softening of his popularity, and that’s not nothing.

As to Hunt, what can he do? Andrew Rawnsley draws attention to issues noted by An Sionnach Fionn and others in recent days, not least the following:

Mr Hunt will be wary of getting very personal, but he doesn’t have to get into his rival’s rackety private life to make the case that a Johnson premiership would be a hair-raising gamble with both the future of the Tory party and the future of Britain. Of course, Tory members probably know this already and perhaps they do not care. An eye-popping poll suggests that a majority of them will sacrifice almost anything in order to get Brexit, including the United Kingdom itself. They’d see Scotland and Northern Ireland ripped out of the UK rather than give up on Brexit. A large majority would quit the EU even if it inflicted “significant damage” on the economy and “destroyed” their party. This is the view of people who call themselves members of the Conservative and Unionist party.

This latter is so remarkable that it is perhaps only because we live in times when the remarkable is near enough the everyday that more hasn’t been made of it. It’s not even a case of destroying the village to save the village, more like they only like a couple of houses in the village and stuff the rest of the village.

Indeed if this is the Tories then political and broader unionism might be well-advised to consider their path forward, because it seems unlikely that greater sentiment for them is held by the Liberal Democrats or Labour supporters. And that isn’t to say that if I were a unionist I’d necessarily be paddling the boat towards Dublin, but rather beginning to wonder what sort of dispensation could be carved out with Dublin that would retain links east west and keep the north distinct from the rest of the island.

Of course maybe everything is going to be just fine, perhaps Johnson will surprise us all with his statesmanlike demeanour, perhaps the Tories will manage to fashion a deal that will get them off the hook they are on with regard to Brexit. Perhaps the present pressures on unionism will fade and all will be well for them. Perhaps, perhaps. I wouldn’t bet on it though.

Comments»

1. EWI - June 24, 2019

Is it extraordinary, though? ‘British’ has always been an invented identity to help hold England’s conquests to the mother country via co-opted local elites enrolled in honorary Englishness.

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2. tafkaGW - June 24, 2019

Further grist to the mill of my suspicion that Johnson / Farage tactical alliance is agreed will be deployed in an early election.

Then it becomes a question of which anti-no-deal-Brexit parties are best placed to oppose this coalition of the right (i.e. Tories and Brexit Party).

Certainly the BLP will not be well positioned with its current fudge. Nor will it be in a good position to attract Brexiteers. who are becoming increasingly polarised towards no-deal.

And the question will remain whether the BLP can regain the trust lost by year or more of its current (anti)strategy on this issue. The time to change strategy to Referendum, Remain and Reform/Revolt was quite probably autumn of last year at the latest.

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benmadigan - June 24, 2019

this potential coalition of the right (i.e. Tories and Brexit Party) also includes the DUP.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7171165/Farage-secret-meeting-Tories-exclusive-Mayfair-club-discuss-pact-Labour-out.html

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tafkaGW - June 24, 2019

Curse you Mr. Madigan for clickbaiting me to the Daily Mail!

What a train-wreck that site is. It’s like it was some kind of net-based performance art.

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Lamentreat - June 24, 2019

But how would it work? They’d have to cut some kind of spectacular deal to put Farage in parliament, right? But any electoral pact with the Tories (even assuming it could be done) would cut the Brexit party’s overall percentage, which is one of its strengths right now, that sense they are cultivating that they are an extra-parliamentary opposition.

I totally agree with WbS re. the unionists, any strategic head among them must be thinking at the back of their mind: “OK, what if things fall apart, what do we do then…”

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WorldbyStorm - June 24, 2019

Those are real obstacles you point to Lamentreat. The Brexit party begins to lose if it cosies up to the Tories – it has to.

It’s a real oddity of unionism at the moment that that sort of strategic thinking you describe isn’t evident except amongst those like Robinson.

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tafkaGW - June 25, 2019

How would it work? Either by an electoral pact, once the Tories commit to no-deal, or by a post-election coalition, or even ingestion of the Brexit Party by the Tories. Amoeba-like.

Farage gets a plum job, and Aron Banks controls the Tory Party.

They are by now accustomed to mass entryism, and it may be their only path to survival.

My impression is that Farage now scents power, and wants it rather than to continue to position himself as the ‘persecuted and ignored’ outsider. But perhaps not.

Remember Italy – British politics is beginning to look more like that.

The second only works if Labour continues to repel and/or discourage its majority pro-Remain constituency. If the BLP won that back then they have the ideal split in the opposition, combined with a large enough coalition.

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