Labour should allow the Johnsonian chaos to unfold, then have an election date of their own choosing
Dr Richard House reasons with those sceptics and wavering loyalists who are finding Labour’s Brexit strategy confusing or inconsistent. Edited extracts:
Successful politics is about being flexible and responding deftly to rapidly changing conjunctures – without sacrificing core principles.
The refusal to agree to Boris Johnson’s desire for an election avoids walking into an electoral trap and risking years of yet more ruling-class assault, it’s surely a no-brainer!”
Ideological Remainers and ideological Leavers are reminded that a rigid adherence to polarised positions, reconfiguring everything to fit those positions, risks five more years of a Johnsonian nightmare, just to cling on to a purist Lexit narrative that dictates leaving the EU immediately.
Johnson and Cummings are manoeuvring to engineer an immediate election fought on their chosen Brexit ground, rather than on nine years of policy-making calamity. Far better, as Emily Thornberry expediently advises, to “let them stay in power for a few more weeks – then people can see how bad they are”.
Far from being “a formula for inaction and indecision”, this is realpolitick and an attempt to maximise the chances of Labour winning next time.
Let’s allow the Johnsonian chaos to unfold a bit, then have an election date of our own choosing, not at an opportunistic date of theirs which might well bury our yearned-for Corbyn project for good.
Richard House draws attention to an article by Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour party, which had been shared 1600 times at 15.48 today.
Jeremy Corbyn asserts that Boris Johnson’s government wants to use no deal – which would destroy jobs and cause shortages of food and medical supplies from day one and hand our public services and protections over to US corporations – to create an offshore tax haven for the super-rich and sign a sweetheart deal with Donald Trump.
Meeting at the G7 in Biarritz
He reminds us that in 2017, Boris Johnson, when foreign secretary, proclaimed that there was no plan for no deal because they were going to get a deal, continuing: “But clearly they haven’t got a deal. And now, running scared of being held to account for his reckless plans for a Trump-deal Brexit, Johnson has decided to shut down parliament to stop them doing so”.
Adding that, ‘in the maelstrom of the coming days and weeks’, all should remember that sovereignty doesn’t rest in Downing Street, or even in parliament, Jeremy Corbyn states that the democratic way forward, when a government finds itself without a majority, is to let the people determine the country’s future and call a general election which will give them the chance to have the final say in a public vote, with credible options for both sides, including the option to Remain.
He ends by expressing his determination to ensure that Labour will bring people together by giving hope and confidence that a different future is possible and that real change can be delivered for every region of this country.
Published on 9 Aug 2019
I’m just going put it out there and say that an election is coming and Boris Johnson is eminently beatable. But only if the left are more radical. They must fiercely oppose Johnson’s values, offer a clear and coherent position on Brexit and play to Jeremy Corbyn’s key strengths as a campaigner. But what do you think? Is it all over for Labour? Or will the Tories fall apart in an election campaign?
Extracts from a blog written by africanherbsman 1967* now living in Jamaica, who spent years working in Whitehall
When Boris Johnson first became Mayor of London in 2008, I was dismayed. Imagine my disbelief now that he is the UK’s new prime minister. Undeserving.
Boris has been around UK media circles for decades. His clowning made him a popular figure around the London social bars. As a journalist Boris was never scared of throwing incendiary remarks in his articles. But his appearances on shows such as Have I Got News for You gave him the kind of street cred few Tory supporters – even today – could ever achieve. He was indeed different from his political allies. Some of the liberal media mob also found him infectious. Now today Boris is indeed the PM. Unbelievable.
As Mayor of London, Boris was really good at surrounding himself with personnel who had solid skills in planning, administration, organisation and communications. Boris’ transport adviser, Kulveer Ranger, was a perfect example of this. The weak link was always Boris. But his bumbling personality was a great decoy to some of the political scraps he got into as mayor.
As foreign secretary (2016-2018) in Theresa May’s government, Boris was a disaster of the highest order. Back then he showed little interest on the issue of BREXIT. Despite such a dreadful performance Boris’ main supporters were still lining him up to succeed May as PM.
First Cabinet as PM: the first thing that struck me about PM Boris’ cabinet appointments was who will be gone before Christmas? Or even Halloween?
Some of Boris’ cabinet appointments defy common sense.
Especially the appointment of one Priti Patel as Home Secretary. Just cannot see Patel lasting that long at HQ’s Peel building. Patel as International Development Secretary (2016-2017) ruined the reputation of her department. She was eventually fired by Theresa May over unofficial and undisclosed 12 or so meetings she held with leading Israeli government officials. Yet Boris has given Patel oversight of crime, policing, immigration and (most worryingly) national security. To me Patel is the John Bolton of the cabinet; an accident that will happen. She can’t help herself . . .
Some of the leadership of the security and police services have long had serious misgivings about Boris from his time as mayor. Just think back to the Damian Green incident in 2009 . . . .
(For thumbnail sketches of the promoted Michael Gove, Stephen Barclay, Matt Hancock, Nadine Dorries, Amber Rudd and James Cleverly see the full article)
How Boris and Cleverly handle the surge of islamophobia within the Tory party will test whether the appointment of a BAME chairman was superficial. But Cleverly is right on one thing when he states: “Jeremy Corbyn has said that only his Labour party can be trusted to unlock the talent of minority ethnic people. Yet it is the Conservative party that has appointed twice as many BAME people to the cabinet than Labour has ever done.”
Boris is bound to get a positive bump in the polls. His media friends and contacts will ensure that he sucks up all the positive publicity in the lead up to October 31st. Boris’ braggadocious belief that deal or no deal the UK is leaving the EU is based on a belief that Donald Trump will come to the rescue with a promising trade deal.
One option for Boris would be to call a snap general election for early October to see if the Tories would win more seats. They could also rely on Nigel Farage’s BREXIT Party taking seats from Labour in the north of England.
But I will not be surprised that when the 1st November comes round, the UK will still be in the EU and then those sharp political knives will be out for Boris. From all sides.
*Spent three decades in working in Whitehall mainly for Customs and Excise, Cabinet Office and Home Office. Worked for public sector bodies in the UK, EU and US. Ex-London tour guide. Loves photography, reading, arts, music, sports and farming.
In addition to the apprehension about the private American companies further invading the NHS, the imports of adulterated meat and genetically modified produce, there are the unpredictable hazards of truckling to a second Trump administration.
Reams have been written about Boris’s private life and his expensive mistakes as mayor but even more alarming is the trait of opportunism which he shares with Donald Trump.
Judge by appearances? 90% infallible?
Boris Johnson as foreign secretary with Kim Darroch on Capitol Hill
Boris Johnson refused to say whether he would keep Kim Darroch as UK ambassador to the US, following verbal attacks by Donald Trump on the British envoy after the leak of diplomatic cables in which Darroch called the Trump administration “inept”.
The FT reports that Mr Johnson, a former foreign secretary, said it was of “fantastic importance” for Britain to have a “close partnership with the US”.
Harking back to World War II many deplore the acceptance of the Lend-Lease programme for which Britain and other nations paid dearly in the form of ‘reciprocal aid’, then the coalition in the Iraq war which arguably was responsible for the destabilisation of the Middle East today. Assisting military adventures in Afghanistan is said to have cost the UK £30 billion (and around 600 lives) and both ventures are widely regarded as strategic failures.
Our role in the post-war world as that of an imperial poodle
From our extradition treaties to our nuclear deterrent to our business practices, no “ask” is too big or small for Uncle Sam as Alex Proud wrote a few years ago:
“Our drugs policy is America lite. Rather than upset the US government, we pursue a policy which has been proven not to work. When our government’s own advisers and scientists question this, they are sacked and their studies suppressed.
“We pursue regressive American-style taxation policies and wonder why we’ve got an underclass. And we applaud the American economic model, which, even when it’s working well, benefits very few ordinary Americans”. And soft power: ‘that American citizen of convenience, Rupert Murdoch’ exercises considerable political and economic power through control of our TV and press.
Proud presents the spectre of Tony Blair as a warning to all politicians who decide to follow the path of discipleship: ”His blind subservience to Bush and co all but destroyed his reputation in this country and in much of Europe. Unloved by his own people, he is now doomed to wander the earth, welcome only at Neo-Con fund-raisers and the desert palaces of gas-rich Kazakh dictators”.
The elephant in the room here is the prospect of being linked to a leader who appears to have no awareness of the various threats of climate change, though this is widely thought to be increasing the incidence of uncontrollable floods, fires and storms on his own doorstep.
Britain should now lead rather than follow – in co-operation with one of those promising presidential candidates who should replace Mr Trump.
An article by Jade Frances Azim, a Labour activist and writer opens:
“There has been a sense of crisis in the ideological confidence of Tories roaming the grandiose floor of the Hyatt Regency for Conservative Party conference. More than once, you could hear delegates muttering among themselves the word “capitalism”, and the phrase “battle of ideas . . .”.
Reports from left and right wing publications stress the poor attendance at many sessions, though fringe meetings with Priti Patel and Boris Johnson were over-subscribed.
“The crisis in the confidence of capitalism must surely be brought about by the images of youthful dynamism at Labour conference – and by the ideas that enthused its young audiences. There is surely a fear that that enthusiasm is spreading beyond Liverpool, too”.
“The spectre of Mr Corbyn haunts the halls here”
Jade thinks that Labour’s recent video around the theme of rescuing deprived towns must be inspiring a fear that Corbyn’s Labour is finally building an election-winning coalition – a fear compounded by apprehension as, “the very purpose of the Conservative Party, to defend capitalism as it is, has fallen out of favour with the outside world”. She continues:
More Tories are urging their party to listen, to understand the threat of Corbynism, which increases as moderate Conservative MPs are drowned out by the voices of Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson, drawing up plans for a Brexit that merely builds a tax haven Britain.
Read Jade’s article here: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/the-spectre-of-corbyn-haunts-conservative-conference-rnn7w3vvv
Kevin Pringle, former strategic communications director for the SNP, opens his latest Times article:
“Here are words I never thought I’d write: Jeremy Corbyn could save the country. But only if he wants to.
“Brexit is an Anglo-Saxon farce, revealing a depth of incompetence, division and utter lack of preparedness on the part of the UK government that has plumbed even my low expectations. The antics of Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and David Davis are about as funny as a Carry On film long after the franchise went stale. The issues at stake are too serious”.
Pringle continues with a summary of recent cabinet discussions and warnings from big business of the risks of relocation, withdrawal of investment and job losses.
He describes the prospect of Britain’s alignment to EU regulations in some sectors as a ludicrous mishmash that should be unacceptable to remainers and leavers alike – a ‘dud destination’, adding:
“Corbyn needs to take a long view of the country’s best interests and act accordingly. He should commit Labour to backing a fresh referendum so that people have an opportunity to exit Brexit when its final form is known. In these circumstances, the SNP would come on board alongside the Lib Dems and others. Such a bold move could attract the relatively small number of Tory MPs needed to deliver a House of Commons majority for a people’s vote.
“I’m no fan of Labour but I recognise that in times of need it has been the agent of Britain’s deliverance.
“One of the best-ever Commons speeches was by Michael Foot at the end of the no-confidence debate in March 1979, which the Labour government lost by a single vote. Foot argued that Labour had “come to the rescue of the country” on at least two occasions: “It is in the most difficult and painful moments of our history sometimes that this country of ours has turned to the Labour Party for salvation, and they’ve never turned in vain so far. We saved the country in 1940; we saved the country again in 1945.”
“He was right.
“It was Labour that forced a vote in the House of Commons in May 1940 after the debate on the military fiasco of the Norway campaign. The result precipitated the fall of Chamberlain as prime minister, and creation of the wartime coalition under Churchill’s leadership that was an essential element of victory.
“And in 1945, Clement Attlee’s Labour Party had the ideas and determination to rebuild an exhausted Britain, including creating the NHS 70 years ago.
“This is another historic moment, and once again only a decisive Labour intervention can set the country right”.