Johnson’s putsch

by Chris Bertram on August 29, 2019

I’ve refrained from blogging much about Brexit and the political situation in the UK because, to be honest, I find it all too painful. But the latest move by British PM Boris Johnson seems worthy of comment. Johnson has “prorogued” (translation: suspended) Parliament in order to make it as hard as possible for MPs to shape the Brexit process and to prevent the extremely damaging disorderly crash-out from EU that he seems determined to impose on us on the 31st October. It is worth remembering that Johnson has no mandate of his own, commands the loyalty of less than half the MPs in the Commons, and was selected by the Tory Party membership alone (a tiny group in which elderly racists are more common than they are even in the average golf-club bar). Prorogation has been saluted by the Telegraph with the headline: “The Prime Minister must give effect to the will of the people.” Thus does the Caudillo claim to incarnate the people’s will more than their Parliamentary representatives do. This is not a move that was unforeseen. It was much-discussed during that Tory leadership contest. Johnson said he did not find it attractive. Others who now sit in his Cabinet, unresigned, such as Morgan, Rudd, Hancock, even Javid and Gove, rejected it as an odious attack on democracy only weeks ago. Yet now is is both a brilliant tactical masterstroke but simultaneously “nothing to see here” business as usual.

So where do we go from here? It looks unlikely, and this is the whole point, that Parliament now has enough time both to allow Johnson to continue in office and to legislate to prevent no-deal. So the only option is a vote of no confidence with the aim of replacing Johnson with a new PM. Since only the Labour Party has significant numbers and Jeremy Corbyn is leader of the opposition, that probably means a short-term Corbyn government. The unpalatability of this to centrists means it probably won’t happen. Even if a vote of no confidence does happen, there’s the possibility that Johnson will seek to squat in office for as long as possible while the Brexit clock runs down. Maybe a last-minute deal happens with a modified Irish backstop (though I can’t see the EU shifting) or maybe a crash-out will happen complete with insulin-denying medical shortages, empty supermarket shelves and job losses.

And then there’s the general election, perhaps coming as early as the day after Brexit. You might think that a prime minister who acted to trash democratic norms and to inflict economic pain on the country would be sure to lose. But Britain has a first-past-the-post electoral system and if just 35 per cent or so unite around the flag-waving option of MBGA for long enough they can beat all the lefties and liberals divided among various opposition parties. That means five years to introduce deregulation of labour and environmental standards, culture war on the ethnic minorities and the “liberal elite”, elimination of human rights standards, and a “great” trade deal with the United States so that British people can enjoy chlorinated chicken and American rates of food poisoning. Meanwhile, wealthy buyers from the global super-rich will be able to acquire bits of Britain at knock-down prices. There will be opposition, of course, but why should those who stand in the way of the people’s will be allowed the freedom to do so?

{ 140 comments }

1

Hidari 08.29.19 at 8:12 am

I hope all the very Clever White Boys who have spent the last 5 years or so telling us that the main threat to British democracy was Jeremy Corbyn, and his ‘far left’ enablers…I hope all these Clever White Boys (mainly writing op-eds for broadsheets, and not just ‘right wing’ ones either)…..are feeling very very pleased with themselves today.

(‘gif-of-that-guy-going-my-fucking-hero-in-Reservoir-Dogs’)

The comparisons with Hitler are of course ridiculous, and I hope no one will interpret what I’m saying in anything other than a highly metaphorical sense, but there is a comparison to be made here with a previous generation of Clever White Boys who spent the early 1930s in Germany telling us that the ‘real’ threat to German democracy came from the Communists and that….therefore…reluctantly…well we all know what they inferred from that.

2

Phil 08.29.19 at 8:42 am

lefties and liberals divided among various opposition parties … means five years to introduce deregulation of labour and environmental standards, culture war on the ethnic minorities and the “liberal elite”, elimination of human rights standards, and a “great” trade deal with the United States so that British people can enjoy chlorinated chicken and American rates of food poisoning

Three years spent attacking Corbyn and bigging up the Lib Dems and Greens aren’t looking like such a good investment now. (This isn’t addressed to Chris – but it is addressed to many, many people, including the dominant clique in my Labour Party branch.)

3

Adam Roberts 08.29.19 at 9:18 am

Three years of absolutely unprecedented clusterfuckage and the Tories well ahead in the polls: should we blame Corbyn for his manifold failures leading the opposition? It seems not. It’s not that Corbyn has let us all down by failing to galvanise the electorate, it’s the electorate that has let Corbyn down by failing to see how wonderful he is.

4

Paul Hebden 08.29.19 at 10:06 am

I think mass street protest and direct action are plausible outcomes that could bring about change before a no deal. I think they are inevitable in the aftermath of no deal.

5

Tim Worstall 08.29.19 at 10:11 am

From the BBC:

“Parliament was expected to take a break or “recess” anyway from roughly 13 September – 8 October.

Official dates for recess are not actually confirmed, so it is hard to have a definitive number on how many actual sitting days will be lost. However, in theory, it will be between three and eight parliamentary days.”

6

Chris Bertram 08.29.19 at 10:26 am

@Tim Worstall ignorantly repeating a pro-Johnson propaganda talking point. A recess and a prorogation are different things with very different effects:

See, just for example

https://twitter.com/davidallengreen/status/1166968906881409025

7

HcCarey 08.29.19 at 11:10 am

We find ourselves in the same position in the US: extremist minorities imposing on the majority. In the US there are structural reasons, mostly relating to the Senate, and there are the new realities of the media environment, in which no one ever hears anything they don’t agree with already. Even a mostly united opposition can’t accomplish much; even if we vote trump out, the extremist minorities will likely still control the Senate, because it was designed that way. It’s not a good situation and it’s not likely to get better.

As far as I can tell in the UK, the problem is that lots of labor voters want Brexit? And also for reasons that are unclear to me Corbyn is widely hated? He seems to generate Hillary Clinton style hate, driven as much or mire by personal dislike than by policy disagreement. It also seems to me that Labor could seize the day by positioning itself as the remain party, but they lack the will/vision and also are terrified of handing their leave constituency to the conservatives. Meanwhile the remain constituency isn’t angry enough: anger has been ceded to the brexiteers. The remainers probably need to start breaking stuff

8

Barry 08.29.19 at 11:59 am

At this point Tim should be treated like Dipper and the other denialists.

9

derrida derider 08.29.19 at 12:12 pm

Adam Roberts is right – Corbyn deserves all the hate he’s getting. A minimally competent opposition leader would have been WAY ahead in the polls and bringing down this government by now – in fact she would probably have been PM long since.

A lot of things have gone wrong in the UK polity in recent years, to which a lot of things have contributed. One of those things is indeed a chronically unfair and unstable FPTP system, which a wiser Labour party would have supported the LDs in their attempt to change. But a new problem is that both major parties now choose their leaders by people (party activists) with views that are distinctly minority ones within the wider electorate and who are not themselves answerable to that electorate. It is always better to have parliamentary leaders elected by people who have to face the polls regularly – ie parliamentarians.

10

Dipper 08.29.19 at 12:42 pm

well … as a Leaver, I agree with more of this than I thought I would, but obviously not all.

Largely, Parliament only has itself to blame for this situation. They called a referendum, chose the question, promised to implement the result, and now seem to be arguing that because the question they asked didn’t have a specific implementation of Leaving, they are entitled to say that there is no mandate for any specific version of Leaving, and hence hey presto there isn’t actually a mandate for Leaving at all!

If they wanted to avoid No Deal, which is what happens two years after implementing A50 if you haven’t agreed a deal, then they should have agreed May’s deal, complete dog that it was, but they declined to do so. Hence, here we are begging the EU for extension after extension.

“Others who now sit in his Cabinet … rejected it as an odious attack on democracy only weeks ago.” I believe they were referring to a Dominic Raab plan to prorogue Parliament until early November, not the few days Johnson has implemented.

“So where do we go from here?” I largely agree with this paragraph, although not the blood -curdling warnings (eg we are experiencing a shortage of HRT medicine, so being in the EU is no guarantee of supply). Jeremy Corbyn wants a No-deal exit as it gives him his best chance of not only winning but being free to implement his policies. He doesn’t want to be seen to be encouraging it, hence he will try really really hard to avoid No Deal but ultimately will fail and blame everyone else.

Which leads finally to this Parliament being full of lightweight people ( see here). Many people when faced with crisis tend to have some kind of mode they go into to avoid confronting reality. This Parliament seems to be full of people who now the crisis is in full flow think the answer is more court cases, more motions, more debates, although this gets us absolutely nowhere and doesn’t address the actual issue. They are incapable of taking responsibility, which is why they like the EU – it means they themselves aren’t responsible for anything – and cannot summon the courage to stop Johnson. Most ‘non-political’ people I know are completely fed up with Parliament vacillating and just want to get on with it. And they really like Boris Johnson.

“if just 35 per cent or so unite around the flag-waving option of MBGA for long enough they can beat all the lefties and liberals divided among various opposition parties”. And if there is one person who understand this, who constantly monitors and measures it, it is Dominic Cummings who is currently running Johnson. He has a plan, he believes, with evidence, it delivers what Gove/Johnson/himself think needs to be delivered, he is implementing it, and he thinks Remainers are too weak and disorganised to stop it.

Time for Remainers to look in the mirror and ask themselves if they are ready to do what needs to be done. Are they mentally ready to Take Back Control? To borrow a football chant, “Who are you? Who are you?”

11

nastywoman 08.29.19 at 1:39 pm

As we are 100 percent sure – that in our lifetime all our British Friends ”will be back” -(in the EU) – in all these ways some grumpy old Brits don’t like – we perhaps can… ”relax” – as the British Clownshow is far less threatening than the US one?

12

nastywoman 08.29.19 at 1:47 pm

BUT other wise we agree 100 percent with the following words of a truly great British Gentleman:

”You will not fuck with my children’s future. You will not destroy the freedoms my grandfather fought two world wars to defend. Fuck off you over-promoted rubber bath toy. Britain is revolted by you and you little gang of masturbatory prefects”.

13

Tim Worstall 08.29.19 at 3:23 pm

@6 – I remain unconvinced that quoting the BBC’s briefing on the point is just a pro=Boris talking point. It is indeed true that P would be closed for most of the time covering the now prorogation for the party conference season.

I guess we could say everyone would have stayed in Westminster instead of the conferences but it seems unlikely to me.

@8 – I’m not a denier on this. Quite the opposite in fact. Vocal and open supporter of Brexit. Stood to be an MEP for Ukip – didn’t get in of course- and worked for Farage and Ukip as a press secretary over the 2008/9 euroelections.

I’m vastly biased and prejudiced on the entire subject. I also know quite a lot about it.

I’m not in denial about anything, I just happen to disagree with what I suspect is the majority view around here.

14

Z 08.29.19 at 4:06 pm

Thus does the Caudillo claim to incarnate the people’s will more than their Parliamentary representatives do

I find this too rhetorical, in the negative sense.

It seems to me that the UK is, like France or the US, facing the inadequacy of its political system with respect to the three-party evolution of the left/right divide, with about a third of the electorate identifying with the populist right (pro-Leave, whatever might happen), another third with centrist neoliberalism and the last third with socialism/ecology. Given how ill-designed a FPTP Parliamentary system is for that situation, any conceivable political outcome would probably be contrary to the political will of a majority of the population, even if some might suit you much more.

That is not an excuse for what Johnson is doing, but at least people in Britain don’t know the names Zineb Redouane or Steve Maia Caniço. Nor need to.

15

notGoodenough 08.29.19 at 4:45 pm

Well, the important thing for everyone to remember is people had to vote for Brexit, otherwise *checks notes* there was a real risk of unelected people subverting British democracy in order to force through their unpopular decisions…..

….wait, I’ll come back in again.

16

Hidari 08.29.19 at 5:06 pm

The petulant expostulations of incoherent (and impotent) fury of @3 and @8 are precisely the sort of self-aggrandising centrist bullshit I was talking about. Centrists (Guardianistas included) have aided and abetted the Tories relentlessly and without exception since Miliband and, obviously, to a much greater extent, since Corbyn, and still they refuse to accept any blame for this black farce, a farce they are at least to some extent responsible (the vast majority of the blame going to the Tories, of course).

Please remember that if wasn’t for the vipers and snakes of the TIGgers (or whatever they are calling themselves now) and the ‘Brexit-posing-as-remain’ position of the eternally pro-Tory LibDems (who, to their credit, under Swinson, barely even pretend to be anything other than the Conservative party with, so to speak, the ‘rough edges’ sanded off), we would now not be in this situation (cf the Twitter account ‘Stats for Lefties’ for detail…CF also CT’s own Dsquared Twitter account). (Also, and most importantly of all, Simon Wren-Lewis’s (available online) piece on how voting and supporting Labour is the ONLY way to prevent No Deal and anyone who says different is a liar).

These ‘more centrist than thou’ nonentities are literally people who give long pompous boring speeches ‘Johnson is a fascist! He is a Nazi! This is fascism! Farage is also a Nazi! And UKIP are worse than Hitler! We are going to end up with a Government worse than Nazi Germany! And I can conclude only one thing from this!

(pause)

Corbyn must go!’

Doubtless there were clever white boys in Germany in the early ’40s whose last declamation was ‘Of course, the real threat to German democracy comes from the Commun-‘ before the gas chamber door clanged shut behind them.

Liberals.
Will.
Never.
Learn.

17

Dipper 08.29.19 at 5:14 pm

My understanding of the UK parliamentary system is still work in progress so perhaps the many experts on here can correct me on the following:

The process is that the person who can command a majority, usually the leader of the largest party, forms a government henceforth “The Executive”. The Executive then produces a programme of legislation which they announce in a Queen’s Speech. They then control parliamentary time to bring this legislation to parliament, and parliament approves, amends, rejects, as to its preference. If the PM is unable to command a majority then a vote of no confidence is called, and if the PM loses then either someone else forms a government or there is a general election.

What doesn’t happen is that parliament itself forms the government and decides the program and drafts legislation. Or at least it didn’t until Bercow got hold of the process. So if we are talking process and precedent, then a new PM having a Queen’s speech is absolutely in line with precedent, and parliament formulating policy and scheduling time absolutely isn’t.

So what should happen now is that if parliament doesn’t like Johnson’s government and platform, then they can hold a vote of no confidence. If he loses it, then we can have an election. That is the constitutional approach, so if they don’t like Johnson’s policies, why don’t parliament do it?

18

Stephen 08.29.19 at 5:46 pm

CB: there is some sense in what you say, up to the last paragraph where it seems to me you go off the rails. Most prominently, you write of “a great trade deal with the United States so that British people can enjoy chlorinated chicken and American rates of food poisoning”. Here I must draw your attention to an article by Havelaar AH et al., 2015, in the very well-regarded international online journal PLoS Medicine (1001923, December 2015), on behalf of the World Health Organization Foodborne Disease Burden Epidemiology Reference Group.

They estimate the burden of food-borne diseases for various geographical regions, in terms of disability adjusted life years per 100,000 population. Unfortunately they do not do this for individual countries, only for geographical areas. The relevant ones are AMR A (Canada, USA, Cuba) and EUR A (the EU plus Iceland, Israel, Norway, and minus the Baltic states, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia).

For these regions, the relevant rates of food poisoning, given in Table 4, are:
Overall, AMR A 35; EUR A, 41. It looks as if American rates of food poisoning might in reality be somewhat of an improvement.

For the particular diseases associated with chlorinated vs non-chlorinated chicken
Campylobacter spp, AMR A 9 (confidence limits 5-14), EUR A 10 (8-14)
Salmonella typhii, AMR A 0.4 (0-2), EUR A 0.09 (0-0.6).

I fear you may have been misled by the recent BBC Radio 4 programme, claiming that rates were enormously higher in the US. This made the elementary error of comparing cases in the UK, certified by bacteriological laboratory reports, to estimated total number of infections, certified or not, in the US. Do I have to explain to you why that is utterly invalid?

As for chlorination in general: the BBC state (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-47440562) that “Chlorine-rinsed bagged salads are common in the UK and other countries in the EU”. And as for food poisoning in general, that is enormously more common in African, south-east Asian, and central and southern American countries, from which we happily import a good deal of food.

There is more that I could say, particularly about Johnson wanting to declare “culture war on the ethnic minorities” which I suspect may mean “not agreeing to Open Borders”, but this is quite long enough.

19

stephen 08.29.19 at 6:09 pm

There is a recent article by the constitutional expert Vernon Bogdanor (Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur, and so perhaps not rabidly anti-European) in the Guardian (not a committedly pro-Brexit, right-wing newspaper) that puts things far better than I could: I would advise people to read it.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/29/parliament-brexit-prorogue-mps-alternative-no-deal

20

John Quiggin 08.29.19 at 8:21 pm

If I didn’t know the context, I would have read the Bogdanor piece as advance justification for a military coup. The politicians have failed, what’s needed is a strong leader to set things straight without them, then hold an election to ratify it after the fact.

21

John Quiggin 08.29.19 at 8:26 pm

“A minimally competent opposition leader would have been WAY ahead in the polls “

How so? Support for Leave is still in the high 40s, AFAICT. It’s far from obvious that a vociferous Remainer would have done a better job in converting Leave voters than Corbyn’s obvious willingness to entertain a deal if something could be found to satisfy all the binding constraints (the set of such deals is empty, but we had to find that out the hard way).

22

novakant 08.29.19 at 8:31 pm

I don’t know what to say anymore, this country is well on it’s way to becoming a Hungary-style democracy in name only. Maybe things have to get worse before they get better.

(As for Corbyn, he wants Brexit, nuff said.)

23

engels 08.29.19 at 8:31 pm

At the risk of platforming a ‘clever white boy’ (#1) Richard Evans’ reaction is pretty sobering:
https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/britain-prorouging-boris-johnson-parliament-suspension-richard-evans-weimar

24

dbk 08.29.19 at 8:57 pm

It’s quite difficult for those of us not resident in the UK to understand all the subtleties of what’s playing out currently.

That said, while I sort of understand some of the antipathy towards Corbyn, I rarely see it stated in print that he’s faced with the nearly impossible task of uniting old Labour (pro-Brexit, iiuc) and Blairite Labour (pro-Remain).

How exactly is he to effect this?

I read recently that there are no small number of MPs who would prefer anything, anything, including a hard (no-deal) Brexit to having Corbyn as PM.

This, frankly, seems a rather cosmic example of cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face.

Mutatis mutandis, roughly the same scenario is being enacted in the U.S. in the Democratic Party, where we see Bernie Sanders ignored or alternately lambasted by the MSM and the Beltway Dems (think “Blairites”) ready to christen anybody, anybody but Sanders as the 2020 nominee. The “cutting off one’s nose” part of this scenario is the very real prospect of You-Know-Who being re-elected in Nov. 2020.

It looks as if the UK might get its hard Brexit after all. The 1% (who, we can assume, are shorting the GBP, comfortably parking their liquid assets off shore and obtaining wherever possible dual EU citizenship) will profit.

25

Dipper 08.29.19 at 9:10 pm

@ dbf “It’s quite difficult for those of us not resident in the UK to understand all the subtleties of what’s playing out currently.”

Frankly its pretty hard for those of us in the UK to understand the subtleties too.

“The 1% (who, we can assume, are shorting the GBP …). There’s nothing to stop you opening an account at an FX broker and going short GBP. Remember to invite us all to the celebration drinks when you celebrate your first million!

26

Dipper 08.29.19 at 9:20 pm

There’s nothing to stop you opening an account at an FX broker and going short GBP

Why don’t we do that now. On paper. Cable (GBP/USD) is 1.21850 (22:30 BST)

so, ignoring brokerage, lets sell 100M GBP, buy 121.85M USD and see how the CT Hedge Fund gets on …

27

fledermaus 08.29.19 at 9:33 pm

From the US shores I find the Brexit saga fascinating. It is amazing the extent to which LibDem and Tory never-Brexit “rebels” have gaslit themselves into believing in Jeremy Corbyn the trostkyite Lexiteer. Yet he has presented those who want to prevent a no deal Brexit with what I can tell is a very reasonable proposal for a 6 week government, an extension to be followed by elections.

Yet somehow 14 LibDem MPs who rendered their party irrelevant through 5 years of Tory-enabling have objections. These are the people demanding the the leader of a party of 240 MPs must step aside at the behest of a handful of useless Torys and their LibDem enablers who caused the situation in the first place. And it turns out their solution is to put a different Tory in charge.

28

Cian 08.29.19 at 9:34 pm

The British constitution is a mess and highly undemocratic, but what Johnson has done is technically okay as far I can see. I don’t like it, and if people want to base a constitutional reformist movement on it that would be fine. But in the short term none of that helps stop Brexit.

I honestly think the Tories have done remainers a favor. We now have a deadline and a single solution. A vote of no confidence and a limited government with Corbyn in order to get to a general election.

If various MPs want to put their careers (CHUK), bizarre political tactics (Lib Dems), or ambitions (right wing Labour people) before Remain – well at least this will be obvious to everyone and we’ll get a little less sanctimonious bullshit.

Plus the Tories have given everyone plenty of time and advance warning to prepare for a general election. Isn’t that nice of them.

29

J-D 08.29.19 at 10:20 pm

Several articles I’ve read have suggested that the prorogation is designed to hinder Parliament from forcing the government to request another extension from the EU.

But requesting another extension from the EU would not be sufficient to provide a guarantee against the possibility of the UK leaving the EU with no withdrawal agreement. For one thing, even if such a request were made, the EU might refuse it. I haven’t seen any current discussion that comes to grips with this possibility.

My best guess is that if there was a UK request for another extension to allow time for a general election to be held, the EU would probably agree; and if there was a UK request for another extension to allow time for a second referendum (of whatever kind) to be held, the EU would probably agree. (However, neither a general election nor a second referendum would be sufficient to provide a guarantee against the possibility of the UK leaving the EU with no withdrawal agreement.)

Also, if there was a UK request for another extension to allow time for the negotiation of a new withdrawal agreement based on continuing UK membership of the single market and/or the customs union, that would probably provide sufficient basis for the EU to approve the request.

But, again, none of the current discussion I’ve seen of another extension suggests anything so definite.

If the UK were to request another extension for no more definite purpose than to allow for more exploration of the options, it would be foolish not to be prepared for the EU response to be: ‘We have already held discussions in which we have explored the options for a withdrawal agreement consistent with UK requirements, and we produced one, which was rejected, not by us, but by you; so there’s nothing else to explore unless you’ve changed your requirements, and therefore we’re not going to approve another extension when you haven’t confirmed a change in those requirements.’

On the other hand, there is a straightforward course of action, not requiring consent from the EU, which would provide an absolute guarantee against the UK leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement: an Act of Parliament stipulating that if no withdrawal agreement has been approved before the day scheduled for withdrawal, then the government must revoke the notification of withdrawal.

On 27 March 2019, the Commons voted on a motion which approached a similar spirit (although, I think, still falling short of the resoluteness of what I’ve described above): ‘If, on the day before the end of the penultimate House of Commons sitting day before exit day, no Act of Parliament has been passed for the purposes of section 13(1)(d) of the Withdrawal Act, Her Majesty’s Government must immediately put a motion to the House asking it to approve ‘No Deal’ and, if the House does not give its approval, Her Majesty’s Government must ensure that the notice given to the European Council under Article 50, of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Union, is revoked in accordance with United Kingdom and European Union law.’ Only 184 MPs voted in favour. Those 184 MPs may be prepared to pay the price required to guarantee that the UK does not leave the EU without a withdrawal agreement (and you can look up the division list in Hansard and see the individual names and the party breakdown if you’re interested); the others, apparently, are not (of course, in the case of some but not all of them, it’s because they’ve got no objection to the idea of the UK leaving without a withdrawal agreement). There’s probably a majority in the Commons which would prefer to avoid leaving the EU with no withdrawal agreement, but for a lot of them the desire is not sufficiently strong. They want it, but they don’t want it enough to make it happen.

30

engels 08.29.19 at 10:21 pm

Novakant and his ilk doing a great job of outflanking Kenneth Clarke on the Right:
https://news.sky.com/story/tory-grandee-ken-clarke-id-be-prepared-to-back-jeremy-corbyn-as-caretaker-pm-11797355

31

Faustusnotes 08.29.19 at 10:22 pm

Small correction to your post Chris. It should be MEGA not MBGA. These traitors care nothing for the union and will bring back civil war in Ireland in order to get what they want. Their only interest is England and the “English”, facile conservative code for ruddy-faced white boys from the home counties.

I’m 100% behind Hidari on this one. Even at this late stage the tiggers and lib dems can’t swallow their pride and support corbyn, and all the glib white boys think it’s corbyn who should go. They’re apoplectic about Bojo undermining democracy until someone suggests the leader of the largest opposition party in parliament should follow constitutional procedure in forming a government and suddenly they’re silent.

This is why corbyn is so supposedly unpopular- relentless assault from right and left for three years. And treachery from people who really should know better.

32

Ray Vinmad 08.29.19 at 10:25 pm

To repeat what others have said–I don’t get it. Brexit is forever whereas Corbyn is temporary. He doesn’t seem all that bad to me but perhaps there is something I don’t know.

This story is very hard to follow for a variety of reasons (e.g., understanding the reasons for the ferocious hatred of Corbyn) but the obvious one is that it’s unbelievable people who oppose Brexit (and especially No Deal Brexit) wouldn’t make significant compromises to stop it. The compromise they’re being asked to make seems rather minor given the stakes.

33

Alex SL 08.29.19 at 10:41 pm

HcCarey,

One of the problems – not just in Britain but everywhere – is that the ANY leader of the main centre-left party will face a constant, relentless, character-assassinating campaign against them convincing many people that they are Stalin’s next coming.

All those who say “if we just hadn’t got Hillary Clinton/Corbyn/Shorten/etc we could have won” will just find the next candidate to be in the exact same situation, unless they learn to deal with the media environment that exists and not let a bunch of ultra-conservative newspaper editors decide who should be the party leader of the opposition to the conservatives.

I am not even annoyed at those newspapers here; they are just doing what they are paid for. What annoys me are those on the centre-left who fall for the right-wing concern-trolling every. single. time.

derrida derider,

Coming from the German system I must say I am rather puzzled why a small number of parliamentarians get to decide who leads a party of tens to hundreds of thousands of dues-paying members. That isn’t very democratic, is it? And how does it work if your party only has two seats in parliament? Do they still decide between them?

To me it seems obvious that the party leader would be elected by a council of delegates who were in turn elected by the local chapters; just like the president of a pottery club gets elected by the members of the pottery club, and not just by the few club members who happen to have a job as, say, bus drivers.

34

HcCarey 08.29.19 at 10:49 pm

Can someone explain why Corbyn is so hated? It seems to go beyond actual policy and enter into the realm of Hillary Clinton derangement syndrome. It’s a naive and honest question fro:the states. Is he hated because he’s a socialist? Or because he’s not? Is he personally forbidding and unpleasant? Is he actually an anti Semite? Everybody seems to hate the guy but I can’t get a handle on why.

35

nastywoman 08.29.19 at 10:55 pm

@23
”Richard Evans’ reaction is pretty sobering”:

”Absurd” not ”sobering” –
but still probably NOT as ”absurd” as wanting to buy Greenland in this century – or trying to ”exit” from ”what you are” in this century -(EU=UK) –
BUT to bring up ”Weimar” and Nazi Germany…?
(which seems to be one to the favourite hobbies of Anglo-Saxon writers on the Intertubes) – and then concluding -(like this Evans-dude) that the current sitwation of the UK actually has nothing to do with ”Weimar” – is without any Dowd – SuperDooperDipperAbsurd!

In other words – with his words of an ”over-promoted rubber bath toy” the famous English Philosopher Hugh Grant might be far more ”sober” than this Evans-Dude.

36

nastywoman 08.29.19 at 11:12 pm

@34
”Everybody seems to hate the guy but I can’t get a handle on why”.

Be-cause he is NOT ”a very sympathetic dude.”
Right?
And while our British -(and American) friends always pretend that they vote for certain policies or politics – they actually always elect – what they think – are ”the (more) sympathetic politicians” – like who could resist ”rubber bath toy”?

Does Corbyn look like (a cute) rubber bath toy?
No!
So we would have to exchange all these British voters with German voters in order to get some lesser ”cute” or ”sympathetic” politician erected.

37

faustusnotes 08.30.19 at 2:01 am

HcCarey and Ray Vinmad, from my perspective the hatred of Corbyn is because he represents the real left – the peacenik anti-imperialist left that the right and the media in the UK have been trying so hard to keep away from left wing politics for so long – and he is way more successful than they believe possible. Even though he isn’t in power he came close in the last election, against all expectation, and even with the constant vicious pressure against him from the media he is a bee’s dick from power. The fear on the right and the Guardian left is that if he’s given even 3 months in power – even as just a placeholder who doesn’t pass any policies – he will be able to cut through their bullshit and he will impress the small number of extra people he needs to impress to win outright at the next election.

So long as they keep him away from a position where he can shape the narrative, they hope they can drive him off. But if he gets a chance to look statesmanlike they worry he’ll actually become popular. For the Blairite left that’s the final nail in the coffin of their project, and for the modern British right it’s a disaster.

Also he’s not anti-semitic, and that entire campaign is so breathtakingly cynical that everyone involved in it should die of shame.

38

Scott P. 08.30.19 at 2:20 am

That said, while I sort of understand some of the antipathy towards Corbyn, I rarely see it stated in print that he’s faced with the nearly impossible task of uniting old Labour (pro-Brexit, iiuc) and Blairite Labour (pro-Remain).

Corbyn deserves sympathy for his situation in the same way that James Buchanan deserved sympathy for being faced with the nearly impossible task of uniting pro-secession and anti-secession Democrats.

39

Ebenezer Scrooge 08.30.19 at 2:20 am

Let’s stipulate that Corbyn is terrible. Hard Brexit is worse. End of argument.

40

Timothy Scriven 08.30.19 at 2:58 am

HeCarey- Corbyn is hated because, for better or worse (I say better, being a leftwinger myself), he is really, truly, actually left-wing in a way that no leader of a parliamentary labour party has been in any country for a long time.

Everything else is a smoke show.

41

bad Jim 08.30.19 at 5:23 am

Not that anyone wants an opinion from an American liberal, but the prospect of a hard Brexit is as enticing as a direct hit from hurricane Dorian on West Palm Beach, in that either calamity, however appalling its consequences, would drastically increase the likelihood of a Democratic victory next year.

The EU’s economy would certainly be damaged by a no-deal exit, so it seems plausible that further requests for an extension might be entertained. Even in cases of terminal illness or imminent execution a delay is generally welcome.

42

Tim Worstall 08.30.19 at 6:42 am

” The 1% (who, we can assume, are shorting the GBP,”

Well, maybe. Crispin Odey recently announced that he’d stopped shorting the £. Which, given that markets are forward looking might be wise, might not be. Perhaps the £ has already adjusted to Brexit?

43

SusanC 08.30.19 at 7:16 am

I don’t quite get why there is so much antipathy to Corbyn, though my guess is that him being to the left of the Blairite faction has something to do with it,

Ken Livingston on the other hand … seems to be basically the Labour Party’s equivalent of an Internet troll. On the question of antisemitism, the Labour part members I talked to were of the opnion it wasn’t so much that Ken is an antisemite as he’s just an asshole, and would take the opportunity of me asking about Ken to launch into telling a story of some other thing (not related to antisemitism) that Ken had done that had greatly upset them.

44

SusanC 08.30.19 at 7:26 am

@AlexSL: part of the problem is that the party membership will be mire extreme than the electorate as a whole. (More left for a left wing party, more right for a right wing one).

I’m tempted to think that open primaries might be better. (I,e. A system where everyone – not just party members – can fill in a ballot where they state which party they wish to support and then who they would prefer to lead that party)

45

Z 08.30.19 at 7:38 am

Everybody seems to hate the guy but I can’t get a handle on why.

He is old, out of touch, an anti-semite, arrogant, entitled, uneducated, sexist, marxist, in bed with radical Islam as well as with ecoterrorists. He admires Venezuela, Iran and the IRA, pines for the USSR, celebrates terrorists and disrespects the military… According to that very thread, in addition to all that, he doesn’t have enough supporters.

Also I hear that he has leftwing policy proposals that, if implemented, might reverse the trend of ever increasing inequalities and private gains sustained by public losses.

46

J-D 08.30.19 at 8:13 am

A request to the EU for an extension is one of the things that does not fall into the category ‘provides a guarantee that the UK will not leave the EU without a withdrawal agreement’, but it’s not the only thing that falls into that category.

Also in that category are a change of government (no matter who led it), a general election, and the combination of both. If there were a general election, there’s no guarantee against a victory by a Conservative Party still led by Boris Johnson, and if that were the result of a general election, then departure from the EU with no withdrawal agreement would almost certainly follow.

A general election would not even provide a guarantee that the UK would only leave without a withdrawal agreement if that option won the support of a majority of votes cast. The Conservatives could win a majority of seats with less than 40% of votes cast. They did in 2015; and Labour did the same in 2005. If the recent polls are accurate, a similar result is not just possible but more likely than not. Going beyond that, in 1983 the Conservatives won 397 out of 650 seats with 42% of votes cast; there’s nothing to make a similar result impossible.

A new government without a general election (an unlikely development) could provide a guarantee against leaving without a withdrawal agreement, but only if was prepared to legislate to that effect; but legislation to that effect could be forced through (there would be technical difficulties, but it could be done) without a change of government. It could have been done already. If there’s no majority in the Commons for that course now, there’s no reason to think there’d be one after a change of government.

It seems that there is a price to be paid in exchange for a guarantee against leaving without a withdrawal agreement, and it seems that there isn’t a majority in the Commons willing to pay that price; but it isn’t acceptance of Corbyn as PM which is the real sticking point. That just obscures the issue.

47

Bartholomew 08.30.19 at 8:20 am

The demonisation of Corbyn has affected Ireland as well. I often come across it in conversation, and when you ask people what’s wrong with him, they can’t say.

He made by far the most sensible speech I heard during the 2016 referendum campaign – essentially ‘There are good things about EU membership, there are bad things, it’s complicated, but on balance there are more good than bad, and I think we should remain.’ To my mind that’s absolutely the right attitude, and I wish that any Irish politician had made a speech like it in the six EU constitutional referenda that we have had in Ireland since 1987. But in 2016 Corbyn was relentlessly attacked for not campaigning strongly enough, for not entering into the crude and dishonest sloganeering practiced by leaders on both sides of the campaign.

@faustusnotes – you’re absolutely right, it’s MEGA, not MBGA. Did you notice that when Ruth Davidson resigned as leader of the Scottish Tories, she made the announcement in front of a banner that said in big letters ‘Scottish Conservative AND UNIONIST Party’. I know that’s the official title, but it’s rarely put in your face like that.

48

Chris Bertram 08.30.19 at 8:37 am

@engels, from Evans’s cliché ridden piece:

“So is history really repeating itself, or does the past remain a foreign country?”

In another place, a friend of mine noticed a striking parallel by another set of distinguished historians:

“The history book on the shelf / Is always repeating itself / Waterloo! / Couldn’t escape if I wanted to, etc.”

49

Hidari 08.30.19 at 8:49 am

@34 ‘Can someone explain why Corbyn is so hated? It seems to go beyond actual policy and enter into the realm of Hillary Clinton derangement syndrome. ‘

It does indeed, and the reason you can’t understand it is that you can’t believe any one, let alone any group of people, could be that petty. But they are.

Backstory (briefly): After the Cold War was over, the Centrists really believed they had ‘won’. From now on there would be none of those nasty horrible socialists and social democrats and trade unionists, with their oiky accents, and lack of table manners, to spoil the party. From now on (centrists thought) there would be a placid, nice, civilised distribution of power: occasionally there would be a nice decent centre-right party in power, followed by a nice decent centre-left party, and then back again, from now on even until the end of time.

It was the Crash of 2008 which destroyed all that, and it is now apparent that this was an event with quite as much ‘effect’ as the Crash of 1929, although it has taken longer for that to become apparent. It’s noticeable that no centrist has even begun to frame a coherent response to that results of that event: e.g. the housing problem, the problem of ‘secular stagnation’, declining (real) wages, short-term and zero hours contracts etc.

It was as a result of that that the first crack in the centrist edifice took place, when the ‘wrong’ Miliband won the Labour Party nomination, with the backing of the hated trade unions. Everyone has forgotten about it now, but Ed Miliband faced much the same problems as Corbyn. He was smeared as an anti-Semite (!!), stabbed in the back, vociferously attacked by the tabloids and most of the broadsheets, there was talk of a Labour putsch against him (like I say, this has all been brushed under the carpet now, but google it: it’s all there). Etc. etc.

Miliband therefore lost the next election (due, in no small measure, to his own party failing to line up behind him). The snakes of the LibDems having propped up David Cameron and thus facilitating this stupid EU referendum (funny how that’s been written out of the history books isn’t it?…remember Gordon Brown clearly asked the LibDems to join him in coalition and they turned him down, preferring to prop up David Cameron and his cronies…LibDem bleating about Brexit should always be viewed in the context that this whole mess is all their fucking fault)….the Remainers of course fucked up the Brexit referendum, put their faith in opinion polls (not a smart move, one might have though, especially this late in the day, but liberals will never learn, it seems), and….lost. With the results we are now living with.

Then, Corbyn. Again, put in power by yet another fuck up of the centrists (it was their idea to reduce the cost of membership of the Labour Party to £3 in an attempt to lessen the power of the trade unions), he proved unexpectedly popular. The centrists (in the form of the PLP) attempted, like Stalin said of Tito ‘to wag their little fingers and he would be gone’: they waggled their fingers for years but, mysteriously, Corbyn didn’t go. And the results of the 2017 election didn’t go as planned: despite months of relentlessly stabbing Corbyn in the back, aided and abetted by their friends in the media (and again, believing opinion polls…do we see a pattern developing here?) Corbyn massively increased his vote share, denied the Tories a working majority and…well…here we are.

In short, Corbyn Derangement Syndrome is purely and simply, arrogant stupid Centrists who believe they have a God given right to power (and all of whom secretly pray at night for the second coming of their Lord and Saviour, St Tony of Blair) who cannot accept that their time is simply past, the ’90s are over, Oasis and Blur split up, and new times need new thinking. That’s it. People think there’s more to it because they can’t believe that grown adults can be so petty, but they can, they can.

So, if Centrists can’t control the Labour Party, they are perfectly happy to destroy it (‘if mummy won’t give me another teddy, I will tear up the teddy I have….that will show mummy!’).

Likewise, although they say they are anti-Brexit, if they can’t control the process and end up the winners after the process is over, they are more than happy to give Brexit, even No Deal Brexit, de facto support, as long as it won’t lead to a Corbyn Government. And if some poor kids can’t get hold of insulin after No Deal, fuck ’em, I’ve got a column in the Telegraph/Guardian, I don’t care.

That’s it. That’s what this is all about.

50

engels 08.30.19 at 8:55 am

BUT to bring up ”Weimar” and Nazi Germany…?
(which seems to be one to the favourite hobbies of Anglo-Saxon writers on the Intertubes) – and then concluding -(like this Evans-dude) that the current sitwation of the UK actually has nothing to do with ”Weimar” – is without any Dowd – SuperDooperDipperAbsurd!

My impression was the hobby is getting enraged at the mention of Weimar, even in the context of a nuanced comparison by an eminent historian of the period, but maybe that’s just me.

Is he hated because he’s a socialist?

Basically yes but my gut feeling it’s the anti-imperialism that really drives certain sections of the commentariat nuts (and not that it really matters but given how many of the Guardian’s chief Corbyn bashers are women and indeed called him out incessantly for ‘brocialism’ prior to the anti-semitism mud fest, the inane Hilaryite ‘white boy’ line seems particularly weird in this context.)

51

engels 08.30.19 at 9:15 am

Maybe I should ask my own ‘why does everyone hate him so much’ question re Richard Evans (I’ve just been enjoying his book on C19th so it interested me). Each to his own.

Glad everyone’s so pro-Corbyn now!

52

Alex SL 08.30.19 at 10:25 am

SusanC,

I am not really clear about what you are saying. If the party is too far left or too far right for a voter, that voter can just vote for a different party; that’s how it works. It just seems logical and democratic to me that the members of a club get to decide who is the club’s president.

I don’t get to tell Greenpeace or a trade union who should be their leader either – I get a vote on that at exactly the moment I become a member. Open primaries are, in that regard, the most illegitimate way of all. If I am a member of the Green Party, but the Conservatives can come in and decide that some climate-change denialist will lead my party into the election, what would motivate me to knock on doors for their election?

Maybe there is a confusion here between the person nominated to become head of government in case of an election win (Spitzenkandidat), the party leader (Parteivorsitzender) and the leader of the party’s members in parliament (Fraktionsvorsitzender)?

53

Alison Page 08.30.19 at 10:26 am

Corbyn is slightly waspish, with widespread grass roots loyalty and a moderately left wing agenda. Miliband was conciliatory, self-deprecating and sought common ground. Brown was glum, competent and over-defensive. Blair was adept, centrist and formed alliances with the right (to his downfall).

Every Single One was ‘the wrong person to lead the opposition’. There isn’t a magic type of person who will solve this conundrum. We just have to grit our teeth, accept that whoever challenges the right from any angle will be vilified, and stop trying to appease them.

54

Faustusnotes 08.30.19 at 10:27 am

Hidari, almost every socialist I’ve ever met is from an upper class family. They don’t have oiky accents and they have good table manners. I’ve met a few working class anarchists, but never socialists.

55

Alison Page 08.30.19 at 10:32 am

More accurately I should have said they were all ‘The wrong person to lead the Labour Party’. Everyone always will be, save during some transient honeymoon period when people think they are going to be centrists and abandon any goal of redistribution from rich to poor. Anyone who is currently labelled as ‘acceptable’, such as Jess P, would either turn the party into a clone of the Lib Dems (massively unlikely in my opinion) or will in turn become a hate object.

56

Dipper 08.30.19 at 10:53 am

Some of the language is pretty borderline here: “Tory Party membership … in which elderly racists are more common”. That’s my son and daughter, early 20’s, most of son’s mates are non-white and non-European, daughter similar. I’m not sure why not thinking white Europeans should have special privileges makes them racist.

@ Bartholomew @faustusnotes – you’re absolutely right, it’s MEGA, not MBGA”. Poll after poll shows the main concern was democratic. Nothing to do with “English exceptionalism” etc.

This kind of attack is pretty familiar from studies of Islamophobia or anti-semitism. Finding some people on your opponents side who have done bad things and then saying that’s what they are all like. Defining your opponents not on their terms but on yours, and using your definition to discredit them as individuals. A constant feature of the Brexit debate is the insistence of Remainers on not discussing the issues raised by Leavers, but instead undermining their status as equal humans. These people are so bad they don’t deserve the vote/protection of the law/etc.

One of the principles Edmund Burke espoused is that no man should be judge in his own cause. Remainers have constantly undermined this principle by refusing to accept criticism from Leavers as valid comment. And if parliament now acts as a government, who holds them to account?

57

J-D 08.30.19 at 10:58 am

I hope all the very Clever White Boys who have spent the last 5 years or so telling us that the main threat to British democracy was Jeremy Corbyn, and his ‘far left’ enablers

Pics or it didn’t happen.

The comparisons with Hitler are of course ridiculous, and I hope no one will interpret what I’m saying in anything other than a highly metaphorical sense, but there is a comparison to be made here with a previous generation of Clever White Boys who spent the early 1930s in Germany telling us that the ‘real’ threat to German democracy came from the Communists and that….therefore…reluctantly…well we all know what they inferred from that.

What about the German Communists who spent the early 1930s insisting that the real threat to the working class came from the Social Democrats? Were they Clever White Boys?

58

Bartholomew 08.30.19 at 11:51 am

56 – @ Dipper @ Bartholomew @faustusnotes – you’re absolutely right, it’s MEGA, not MBGA”. Poll after poll shows the main concern was democratic. Nothing to do with “English exceptionalism”.

You misunderstand me. I was thinking more of the recent polls of members of the conservative party that showed that substantial majorities (over 60%) would be happy for the UK to break up, to lose Scotland and Northern Ireland, if that was necessary for Brexit to happen. In other words, their primary concern is to get England (and Wales, alas) out. That’s very democratic of them – it recognises the remain majorities in Scotland and NI, and probably envisages them staying in the EU.

Aa for the rest of your reply – I’m not a ‘remainer’, strictly speaking. I’m an Irish citizen (as my post I thought made clear), watching appalled and mystified as a neighbouring country, both its people and its institutions, have a serious breakdown.

59

Zamfir 08.30.19 at 12:44 pm

Alex SL:
“I am not really clear about what you are saying. If the party is too far left or too far right for a voter, that voter can just vote for a different party; that’s how it works. “
Well, that is not how it works in the UK system. First-past-the-post gives an enormous premium on unity, and it is punishing for small parties (unless they are regional)

In numbers: conservatives got 48% of seats from 43% of votes, labour got 40% of seats from 40% of votes, lib-dem got 2% of seats from 7.5% of votes (they used to get around 10% of seats from 20% of the votes), the greens got 0.16% of seats from 1.6% of votes.

So, on average: if you break away from a large party and support a small one, you do much more damage to the large one than the small one gains.

Which is why the fighting about leadership can be so vicious.

60

Faustusnotes 08.30.19 at 2:27 pm

Keep it up dipper. Just remember that no one is going to forget who was a vocal supporter of brexit when it all goes to shit. Come November you’re going to suddenly be a very quiet little boy.

61

Doug 08.30.19 at 3:06 pm

It seems to me that Parliament is sovereign, and if a majority of Parliament wants to sit in September and October, then sit it will.

The rest is just posturing.

62

Dipper 08.30.19 at 3:10 pm

@ Bartholomew “the recent polls of members of the conservative party that showed that substantial majorities (over 60%) would be happy for the UK to break up”

That poll was just rubbish. It poses two events as dependent when they aren’t. “Would you be in favour of Brexit if it meant the breakup of the UK?” No. “Well you don’t really want Brexit then! Ta Da!” The obvious answer is that it won’t lead to the breakup of the UK, but I guess that wasn’t on the question paper.

I’m looking forward to the poll “Would you be prepared to stay in the EU if it meant millions dying in civll war?” etc. etc.

63

Cian 08.30.19 at 3:55 pm

Can someone explain why Corbyn is so hated? It seems to go beyond actual policy and enter into the realm of Hillary Clinton derangement syndrome. It’s a naive and honest question fro:the states. Is he hated because he’s a socialist? Or because he’s not? Is he personally forbidding and unpleasant? Is he actually an anti Semite? Everybody seems to hate the guy but I can’t get a handle on why.

I don’t think he is hated by that many people, it’s more that most of the people who do hate him are influential journalists and the right wing of the Labour party. And because these people decide what is news, we get to hear how people hate him ALL THE TIME, when what they mean is they hate him. Plus he represents a resurgence of the left which terrifies people on the center-right.

The funny thing is that if you’ve ever met him (did years ago when he was an obscure local MP) it’s very hard to have strong opinions about him. He comes across as ordinary, pretty decent and a little dull. I wonder if some of the journalist reaction might come down to this. Political leaders are supposed to be exciting and charistmatic, and Corbyn just isn’t.

I used to be against censorship, but these days I look at the UK press and find myself wondering could it be any worse.

64

Cian 08.30.19 at 4:01 pm

Faustusnotes: Also [Corbyn’s] not anti-semitic, and that entire campaign is so breathtakingly cynical that everyone involved in it should die of shame.

This. In fact Corbyn’s actually been quite helpful to Jewish organizations over the years on a few issues.

65

notGoodenough 08.30.19 at 4:23 pm

@Dipper 62

Are you suggestioning that asking a questionare which neglects to present obvious alternatives could lead to a misleading response? If only one could think of another example in recent years….

PS I would not support staying in the EU if it meant millions dying in civil war. Hmm, that was pretty easy.

66

Hidari 08.30.19 at 5:00 pm

@57
‘Pics or it didn’t happen.’

If, as (presumably) a British citizen are going to tell me with a straight face that there hasn’t been an attempt to portray the Labour party under Corbyn as potentially tyrannical, and a threat to ‘British values’ by the right wing media (AKA ‘the media’) then nothing I can say or do will persuade you otherwise. Google ‘Corbyn Stalin’ ‘Corbyn dictator’ ‘Corbyn terrorist’ for more details.

I’m not going to derail the threat by dealing with your other point but if you are serious arguing that between 1928 and 1933 the Social Democrats were going on their hands and knees to the Communists begging them ‘please oh please join in an anti-Nazi alliance with us we’ll do anything if you join us’, and it was only because of Communist intransigence that this did not happen, you are deeply wrong, as you so frequently are.

Incidentally, @10: ‘Jeremy Corbyn wants a No-deal exit as it gives him his best chance of not only winning but being free to implement his policies.’

This is completely and totally false in every respect and has literally no empirical evidence of any sort, whatsoever, to support it and an overwhelming amount of evidence that contradicts it.

67

Donald 08.30.19 at 6:39 pm

“https://www.patheos.com/blogs/writingfromtheedge/2019/01/whether-its-brexit-or-zionism-going-it-alone-makes-little-sense/”

J-D

I am not British and live on the other side of the Atlantic, but as someone who follows the Israeli- Palestinian issue I know Corbyn and the Labour Party have been accused of being antisemites and even an existential danger to British Jews. I get the distinct impression this has been a huge story over there, whatever one thinks of it. So yeah, as bad as Brexit is, anyone who took those accusations as fact would logically have to think Corbyn was a worse threat.

68

Bartholomew 08.30.19 at 7:51 pm

@ Dipper 62: ‘That poll was just rubbish. It poses two events as dependent when they aren’t.’

But they are dependent. A messy Brexit could push Scottish independence over the line. Ditto NI.

69

SRH 08.30.19 at 8:26 pm

I was a Remainer. I had no referendum vote, being in prison at the time. I slowly moved towards the Lexit position, where I am now. Others write better than me:

“The capitalist world order is in crisis. The politicians we were told to trust with our planet and its people have engineered a situation of wage stagnation, spiralling debt, and a growing sense of powerlessness – a widening gap between the people and those who govern them. Throughout all of this, the imperative for constant growth has undermined the very ecosystem in which we exist.

The European Union is fundamentally an organ of this world order. Within its boundaries, irreconcilable conflicts between the nations who have organised the EU along the lines of their own economic and political interests have pushed the Euro towards collapse as internal crises are shifted onto their own periphery nations – often the ones hit hardest by the 2008 crash. As these internal crises weigh upon the people subject to them, the policy of Fortress Europe enforces inhumanity on the refugees on the Union’s own Mediterranean border.

Here in the UK, successive neoliberal governments have pursued this economic war on the working class in tandem with the EU: they have gutted our industries, housing and public services, and slashed rights for workers, migrants and the unemployed. These governments decided that prolonged suffering by working-class communities was a sacrifice worth making for the preservation of their system. As the government led by Margaret Thatcher speculated on the prospect of a “managed decline” for working-class communities across the country, ordinary people were left to pick up the pieces.

To the astonishment of the ruling class, the working class has demonstrated a desire for change, which is reflected both by the Corbyn movement and the vote to leave the EU in 2016. As socialists, it is our job to lead the way for a truly transformative programme, overcoming neoliberalism and working towards a radical, democratic, environmentalist and socialist agenda.”
https://leftcampaign.org/2019/08/21/example-post/

70

novakant 08.30.19 at 8:35 pm

FWIW and for the record: I don’t hate Corbyn and and agree with quite a few of the policies put forward during his leadership. I think he’s a bit of a dolt and terribly ineffective as an opposition leader, which is a shame, but hey what else is new.

But all of this is irrelevant since the UK is facing the biggest crisis in decades, i.e. Brexit. And on this Corbyn has been just terrible, both as an opposition and party leader. I won’t support anyone who voted for article 50, because it is the stupidest and most harmful political decision taken in this country since the Iraq War.

It is disheartening to see that people have fallen for the “anything but no deal” ploy.

71

Barry 08.30.19 at 8:38 pm

nastywoman 08.29.19 at 1:39 pm

” As we are 100 percent sure – that in our lifetime all our British Friends ”will be back” -(in the EU) – in all these ways some grumpy old Brits don’t like – we perhaps can… ”relax” – as the British Clownshow is far less threatening than the US one?”

I doubt it. The UK had a special deal in the EU, which privileged it, and was able to get it’s way a lot. And in the end a combination of multi-billionaire looters and right-wing f*ckheads was able to paint that as ‘oppression’. Alongside that, the supposedly superior features of the British political system (the famous ‘unwritten constitution’) turned out to either be useless, or useful only for an extreme minority to keep f*cking up things until the most extreme position got its way.

Even if the disruptions are small and transitory (and that would take a miracle), it’s now clear that inviting the UK into a system is inviting them into the tent so that they can p*ss inside the tent (see LBJ’s famous saying). Please note that the UK gov’t was told very clearly that the EFTA nations didn’t want it in their group.

72

Barry 08.30.19 at 8:41 pm

BTW, since my comment @8 was misinterpreted, I’ll clarify:

Tim Worstall’s history from the global warming debates on CT is clear, and IIRC at least one front-pager asked him to refrain from posting on that topic. I urge this policy to be extended to Brexit.

Dipper’s history on the Brexit debates on CT is also clear, and IIRC again at least one front-pager asked him to refrain from posting on that topic. I urge this policy to be extended to all posts concerning Brexit on this blog.

73

nastywoman 08.30.19 at 9:31 pm

@69
”As socialists, it is our job to lead the way for a truly transformative programme, overcoming neoliberalism and working towards a radical, democratic, environmentalist and socialist agenda.”

Sounds good – if there wouldn’t be the very irritating: ”We need to leave the EU and transform society.” – added on?

Let’s turn that into:
”We need to stay in the EU and transform society.”
-(as there will be a lot of help from EU Socialists – the UK needs desperately in order to transform)

Right?

74

Salazar 08.30.19 at 9:44 pm

The main reasons for the opposition to Corbyn: He scares the financial sector; and he has openly criticized U.S. foreign policy, as well as the post-Cold War orthodoxies related to same.

That’s why he will either never become Prime Minister; or, if he does, the prevailing forces will sabotage him in a way that will make Republican-Netanyahu treatment of Obama look like a celebrity roast.

I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that the the U.S. foreign policy community, through its official and unofficial networks, is working feverishly to ensure JC doesn’t end up at the head of even a caretaker government.

75

Barry 08.30.19 at 9:47 pm

Cian: “I honestly think the Tories have done remainers a favor. We now have a deadline and a single solution. A vote of no confidence and a limited government with Corbyn in order to get to a general election.”

A deadline and no time to do anything about it. I can live my life without such favors.

76

Zamfir 08.30.19 at 9:59 pm

@SRH, from this side of the north sea, I just can’t understand this style of British Lexitism. How does leaving the EU help you fight your ruling class? After you leave, the Thatcherite neoliberals are still there, and you might well have the worst bunch of them in Europe. They will be like Rorschach: “I’m not locked up in here with YOU. You’re locked up in here with ME”

If you can win, why not fight them first, then see how the EU reacts? The UK itself was the hard defender of neoliberalism in the EU, if that switched the EU itself would change

77

J-D 08.30.19 at 10:03 pm

Donald

You seem to be offering a contribution to a discussion which isn’t taking place. In the hypothetical discussion you’re contributing to, which never happened, Hidari wrote that Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of anti-Semitism and I expressed my dubiety. But that’s not what happened. It’s true that I expressed my dubiety about Hidari’s comment, but the content of that comment was not about accusations of anti-Semitism against Jeremy Corbyn. If Hidari had written (but this is not what Hidari wrote) ‘Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of anti-Semitism’, I would have made no challenge. I am aware that Jeremy Corbyn has been accused (repeatedly) of anti-Semitism; I am aware of this even though I am even farther away from the UK than you are (contrary to Hidari’s characteristically cocksure erroneous presumption). However, what Hidari actually wrote is not synonymous with ‘Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of anti-Semitism’.

Hidari

If, as (presumably) a British citizen

My first reaction on reading that was ‘Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha’. (For which I thank you: I can always use a few extra laughs.)

No.

Do you feel even a tiny bit discomfited to find that you have presumed incorrectly?

Google ‘Corbyn Stalin’ ‘Corbyn dictator’ ‘Corbyn terrorist’ for more details.

When I search the Web (personally I prefer DuckDuckGo to Google) using those search terms, I find a series of attacks (from various sources) on Jeremy Corbyn, some which I can tell are unfair and some which I don’t have enough information to judge. If you had written ‘Jeremy Corbyn has repeatedly been subjected to unfair attacks in the right-wing media’, I would have expressed no doubt. If you had written ‘Jeremy Corbyn has repeatedly been subjected to unfair attacks from the right-wing of the Labour Party’, I would have expressed no doubt. Both of those are things I already knew to be true (even before searching the Web with your suggested search terms). But what you wrote was more specific than that, and wasn’t supported by what I found when I conducted the searches you suggested. Now that I think about it, it’s a little odd that I haven’t seen the Daily Mail accusing Jeremy Corbyn of being a threat to democracy. It would seem a natural line for them to take, surely? but not so much, apparently.

I expect a more persistent search would eventually reveal some examples of some people accusing Jeremy Corbyn of being a threat to democracy, but it’s not the most salient feature of the attacks made on him. Among accusations against him made from the right wing of the Labour Party, most salient is that he has no idea of how to win elections and no interest in it. That’s not synonymous with accusing him of being a threat to democracy. (It is, however, a common theme in attacks on left-wingers: sometimes it’s true, sometimes it isn’t.)

I’m not going to derail the threat by dealing with your other point

My first reaction on reading that sentence was one which I suspect would be a violation of the comments policy. So I shall instead translate into the language of the Houyhnhnms and observe that you have said the thing which is not.

The failure of the SPD and the KPD to unite against the Nazis was something for which both share responsibility. Both parties made a lot of bad choices. However, the bad choices of the SPD did not include directly collaborating with the Nazis against the KPD, whereas some of the bad choices made by the KPD did include directly collaborating with the Nazis against the SPD, consistently with their stated position that the SPD were a greater threat to the German working class than the Nazis were. (In fairness to the KPD, some evidence suggests that they did not come up with this line by themselves but rather had it imposed on them by Stalin.)

Alex SL

Maybe there is a confusion here between the person nominated to become head of government in case of an election win (Spitzenkandidat), the party leader (Parteivorsitzender) and the leader of the party’s members in parliament (Fraktionsvorsitzender)?

I am familiar with these distinctions in German politics, but it seems you are unaware that there are no such distinctions in UK politics.

Faustusnotes

I hope you’re not suggesting that because you’ve never met any working-class socialists, there’s no such thing? I’m sure I could easily produce a list of historical examples, but then I’m also sure you could do the same yourself if you searched.

There are, of course, as you rightly point out, also many examples of socialists from upper-class families: I’m not disputing that, I add for clarity.

Dipper

Poll after poll shows the main concern was democratic.

At the risk of repeating myself, leaving the EU is not going to make the UK any more democratically governed than it is now.

78

ph 08.30.19 at 11:28 pm

Thanks Chris for the post and to Stephen for the link. Whatever the failures and best efforts (ahem) of all concerned, an outside observer might believe there’s been a great deal of bad-faith negotiation and public statements from all sides. The notion that Johnson is going to get anything right is laughable. Worse, his vulgar penchant for placing his own short-term gratification first virtually ensures he’ll manage to do serious damage to all sides given the freehand he now holds.

That any part of this debacle comes as a surprise to anyone is perhaps the real story.

Nobody seems to have a clue what to do other than to operate as if a vote for Brexit, doesn’t actually require parliament, the pm, the civil service, the media, and EU bureaucrats to recognize that leaving the EU is what that percentage of the voting public desired. (I’m soft remain.)

The worst is yet to come.

79

Scott P. 08.30.19 at 11:48 pm

As socialists, it is our job to lead the way for a truly transformative programme, overcoming neoliberalism and working towards a radical, democratic, environmentalist and socialist agenda.”

You really see the neoliberals as the enemy don’t you? News flash: the fascists outnumber you, if not the neoliberals. The truly transformative programme that is coming is an ethnonationalist autocratic one.

80

J-D 08.31.19 at 12:04 am

SRH

What you’ve got there–and I make the observation sadly, as a sympathiser with the stated goals, at least as far as I understand them–is the logic of underpants gnomes:

Step 1: Leave the EU
Step 2: ?????
Step 3: A democratic worker-led economy

I would like a democratic worker-led economy, but leaving the EU will bring you no closer to one.

81

Chris Bertram 08.31.19 at 8:17 am

No point in arguing with Lexiters, they are useful idiots who pave the way for the right to dominate. They should be shunned. Also, when I read them writing “I voted Remain” etc, I think there’s a strong likelihood that I’m dealing with a liar.

82

nastywoman 08.31.19 at 9:53 am

@81
”They (Lexiters) should be shunned”
Agreed – but as their argument that:

”the E.U. is some kind of ”neoliberal monster with an oligarchic structure, riddled with corruption, built on a denial of any sort of popular sovereignty, enforcing a bitter economic regime of privilege for the few and duress for the many.”

– has been so poisonous – such Lexiters always to be reminded that it is actually the EU and NOT the UK ”explicitly designed to promote progressive ends”.

As ”the founding documents of the EU read like the manifesto of a social democratic party” as for instance the Lisbon treaty aims to establish a “social market economy”, with “social progress” and “high levels of protection”, which rejects “social exclusion and discrimination” and promotes “social justice” and “equality between women and men”. That’s literally stamped into the political DNA of the EU system. It explicitly protects workers’ health and safety, working conditions, social protection, redundancy terms, access to information, collective defence arrangements and more. And, of course, it directs development fund towards regions that are economically struggling”.

Or in other words without the EU – the so called Left of the UK hardly has a chance to get – where – for example Scandinavian Democracies are already are.

83

HcCarey 08.31.19 at 10:23 am

To SRH:

The picture of the EU as the oppressive tool of elites is complicated by Ireland, which has gone from the poorest country in Europe in 1960 to a prosperous society under the EU. That is, the EU has allowed an historically subaltern people to escape subalterity.

Of course this isn’t to say the EU is a paradise or that Ireland is a paradise, but there is zero doubt that the majority of people in the ROI see EU membership as a positive thing and value the EU’s defense of their political and economic goals, especially vis vis the border. I’m not sure why this doesn’t count. An historical oppressor state–the UK–is taking action likely to injure the ROI. Their ally, both in terms of prosperity and in terms of the border–is the EU.

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Donald 08.31.19 at 12:51 pm

“However, what Hidari actually wrote is not synonymous with ‘Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of anti-Semitism’.”

Well, given my interests I might have a distorted view of what has been happening, but my impression is that accusing Corbyn of antisemitism and support for terrorism ( the second one mentioned by Hidari) is a way of saying that Corbyn and the Labour Party are a horrific danger to democracy. If you believed the accusations then this would be correct.

But I don’t follow British politics closely.

85

Bartholomew 08.31.19 at 2:17 pm

@Engels 51 Maybe I should ask my own ‘why does everyone hate him so much’ question re Richard Evans (I’ve just been enjoying his book on C19th so it interested me).

https://www.newstatesman.com/node/155988

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RichieRich 08.31.19 at 3:38 pm

And also for reasons that are unclear to me Corbyn is widely hated?

Well one reason might be his frequent consorting with blantantly antisemtic Islamists.
Alan Johnson’s An Open Letter to Jeremy Corbyn is, I think, instructive. Here’s an extract about Corbyn’s disgraceful lauding of Raed Salah.

Why did you lend your support to Raed Salah? No, he is not a ‘critic of Israel’, but a straight-up Jew hater.

You said in 2012, ‘Salah is far from a dangerous man’, even though the left-wing, anti-Netanyahu Israeli newspaper of record, Ha’aretz, reported that Salah was first charged with inciting anti-Jewish racism and violence in January 2008.

You said ‘Salah is a very honoured citizen’, even though Salah was found guilty of spreading the blood libel – the classic antisemitic slander that Jews use the blood of gentile children to make their bread. He did so during a speech on 16 February 2007 in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Wadi Joz.

I mean, just listen to Salah: ‘We have never allowed ourselves to knead [the dough for] the bread that breaks the fast in the holy month of Ramadan with children’s blood’, he said. ‘Whoever wants a more thorough explanation, let him ask what used to happen to some children in Europe, whose blood was mixed in with the dough of the holy bread.’ (The UK Appeal Court decided that ‘We do not find this comment could be taken to be anything other than a reference to the blood libel against Jews.’ It also decided that this would ‘offend and distress Israeli Jews and the wider Jewish community.’)

You said: ‘Salah represents his people extremely well’, even though after the 9/11 terrorist attacks Salah wrote this in the October 5, 2001 issue of the weekly Sawt al-Haq w’al-Huriyya (Voice of Justice and Freedom): ‘A suitable way was found to warn the 4,000 Jews who work every day at the Twin Towers to be absent from their work on September 11, 2001, and this is really what happened! Were 4,000 Jewish clerks absent [from their jobs] by chance, or was there another reason? At the same time, no such warning reached the 2,000 Muslims who worked every day in the Twin Towers, and therefore there were hundreds of Muslim victims.’

You said ‘Salah’s is a voice that must be heard’ even though he has called homosexuality a ‘great crime’ and recently [preached that ‘Jerusalem will soon become the capital of the global caliphate’ which will ‘spread justice throughout the land after it was filled with injustice by America, the Zionist enterprise, the Batiniyya, reactionism, Paganism and the Crusaders.’ i.e. everyone who does not follow his brand of Sunni Islam.

You said ‘I look forward to giving you tea on the terrace because you deserve it!’, even though the Islamic Movement [the northern branch of which Salah heads] has eulogised Osama bin Laden and Salah has incited Muslims against Jews by writing incendiary lies such as this: ‘The unique mover wanted to carry out the bombings in Washington and New York in order to provide the Israeli establishment with a way out of its entanglements.’ Who do you think he meant by ‘the unique mover’?

Why is that kind of conspiratorial antisemitism, dripping with threat and menace, worthy of tea on the terrace?

87

RichieRich 08.31.19 at 3:54 pm

A further thought on why some might not be Corbyn’s biggest fan.

In a speech in which Corbyn mentions a meeting he is hosting in Parliament, to which he has invited representatives of Hezebollah and Hamas to speak, he refers to Hamas not only as “friends” but says that Hamas is

dedicated towards…bringing about long-term peace and social justice and political justice in the whole region

But as David Paxton notes

Hamas’ form of ‘political justice’ is to execute their political opponents. Hamas’s ‘social justice’ is to murder people for being gay. Hamas’ ‘long-term peace’ includes a Charter clause calling for the destruction of Israel and the divinely ordained killing of Jews.

Much as I have some sympathy with Corbyn’s redistributionist domestic agenda, his foreign policy statements such as the one above are beyond disgraceful.

88

Stephen 08.31.19 at 6:12 pm

One more reason why I am not terribly keen on Mr Corbyn:

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/jeremy-corbyn-was-arrested-at-ira-demo-brighton-bomber-solidarity-protest-old-bailey-labour-gd3tnhmrt

“Jeremy Corbyn was arrested in 1986 taking part in a protest by IRA sympathisers to “show solidarity” with accused terrorists including the Brighton bomber, a Sunday Times investigation reveals.

Corbyn joined a picket outside the Old Bailey to oppose the “show trial” of a group including Patrick Magee, who was subsequently convicted of murdering five people at the 1984 Tory party conference.

Magee was also convicted with the other defendants of planning a massive bombing campaign in London and seaside resorts.”

Look, I’m prejudiced. I’m not particularly lucky, no personal injuries, though I know others who weren’t. But I rather clearly remember having to take my family into what I hoped might be a relatively safe space – out of the probable trajectory of material from Corbyn’s friends’ purely democratic explosive devices, but of course they sometimes placed another to get civilians trying to escape the first – and am therefore not entirely sympathetic to IRA sympathisers. Which he was, and is.

89

Stephen 08.31.19 at 6:33 pm

CB@82; “No point in arguing with Lexiters”

In your original post, you stated confidently that Brexit would increase food poisoning in the UK to US levels.

I replied by referring to a recent, detailed, international WHO publication which showed that what you wrote is nonsense.

It may be that, since that disagrees with you, you see no point in arguing with that either. In which case your credibility is somewhat degraded.

Over to you, fellow-searcher for the truth.

90

Alex SL 08.31.19 at 11:50 pm

J-D:

I know, but well, maybe there should be, because it would make considerably more sense?

To my understanding the context was a discussion about how things could be changed to make the system work better, e.g. “hey, maybe have open primaries”, not merely “IMO this is why it sucks”.

91

J-D 09.01.19 at 8:59 am

Alex SL

I understand that under the German system the positions of Spitzenkandidat, Parteivorsitzender, and Fraktionsvorsitzender are formally distinct. But isn’t it the case that when a party has to choose a Spitzenkandidat, the Parteivorsitzender is normally chosen? Yes, I know there are significant exceptions, but isn’t that the common expectation? And also, when a party has to choose a new Parteivorsitzender, isn’t the Fraktionvorsitzender often chosen? or if the outgoing Parteivorsitzender is also the Fraktionvorsitzender, isn’t it normal for the same person to be chosen to succeed to both positions? Also, when that doesn’t happen, isn’t it a common alternative to choose as Parteivorsitzender a Ministerpräsident, something for which the UK has no equivalent?

Of course the German system has differences from the UK system, I don’t need to be an expert to know that, and it may be that there is scope for using the example of the German system as a model for possible improvements to the UK system, in some respects at least. (Of course, not being an expert, for all I know it’s equally plausible to suppose that in some respects the example of the UK system might be a model for possible improvements to the German system.) I just think that in relation to the specific aspect of the system under discussion here, the practical difference is smaller than the formal difference makes it appear, and the biggest practical difference is one that can’t be translated to the UK context.

92

Alison Page 09.01.19 at 10:01 am

The road to peace and reconciliation involves dialogue. Mo Mowlem for example sat down with the IRA, and the result was positive. Former enemies sit down with people they should, perhaps still do, hate. It seems to me that right wing politicians are more happy to sit down with governments and left wing politicians to sit down with resistance groups. Good people can sincerely disagree about which movements or govts are too bad, which are bad but talkable to. I don’t think Corbyn is a wild outlier, compared to other politicians.

93

Dipper 09.01.19 at 1:27 pm

Lewis Goodall, political correspondent for Sky News, tweets: “Mr Gove says parliament voted to trigger a50 with or without a deal. Indeed they did. It’s also now clear that Parliament wishes to change its mind. It does that *all the time*. It is the government which is preventing it from so doing. No Parliament can bind another.”

This is quite an amazing thing for a political correspondent to tweet. It shows he doesn’t really understand how Parliament works.

The government is the executive. It controls parliamentary time, and brings bills to Parliament for death and approval (or not). Once approved, that’s it. If parliament decides that it has changed its mind and in retrospect shouldn’t have passed it, well that is Parliament’s problem. The government is under no obligation to bring it back.

What we have now is the substitution of an orderly system of government with a free-for-all where backbenchers can assemble to get their own way on issues against whatever the government may wish. This is just a recipe for chaos.

The reason why the government does not need to pay attention to a bill requiring an extension of our membership of the EU is that such a bill would commit the government to spending money in ongoing payments to the EU, and Parliament cannot force the government to spend money. Only the government can spend money.

There’s a complete lack of seriousness from Remainers about this. Children in the playground hoping the grown ups in the EU will save them from their follies.

94

Chris Bertram 09.01.19 at 2:50 pm

@Dipper, Parliament has never voted to trigger Article 50. It voted to give the Prime Minister the power to do so.

95

Donald 09.01.19 at 3:59 pm

“dedicated towards…bringing about long-term peace and social justice and political justice in the whole region

But as David Paxton notes

Hamas’ form of ‘political justice’ is to execute their political opponents. Hamas’s ‘social justice’ is to murder people for being gay. Hamas’ ‘long-term peace’ includes a Charter clause calling for the destruction of Israel and the divinely ordained killing of Jews.

Much as I have some sympathy with Corbyn’s redistributionist domestic agenda, his foreign policy statements such as the one above are beyond disgraceful.”

My impression from 3000 miles away is that Corbyn is dimwitted , but my standards for “ beyond disgraceful” would encompass apologetics for Israel and support for the Saudi war in Yemen. I wouldn’t make any distinction between what Corbyn said about Hamas and the almost infinite number of moral imbeciles who say Israel has a right to defend itself right after shooting some civilians. On this side of the Atlantic that includes most politicians and and a good sized chunk of NYT opinion writers. I’m not sure how things are over there, but Britain has been on the side of the Saudis in its little genocidal bombing campaign, so there have to be at least some accessories to mass murder in high places. But maybe you Brits have a high percentage of politicians and pundits who are morally consistent in their opposition to mass murderers. It’s pretty rare over here.

96

Stephen 09.01.19 at 6:55 pm

CB@94: re US food poisoning, I’m still waiting for a statement from you that either:

The international WHO team were quite wrong to disagree with you: or

Even the great Chris Bertram might be occasionally mistaken, as it seems you spectacularly were.

I don’t think much to anti-Vaxxers, or climate change deniers. If you want to deny the best modern scientific evidence, where does that leave you?

Yours in the difficult search for truth.

97

nastywoman 09.01.19 at 9:04 pm

@86+88+95
Oh! – please! –
Please no such change of subject – as the subject is ”Johnsons’s putsch” and ”Brexit” -(and not ”Israel”) –
and concerning ”Brexit” and ”Corbyn” – why hasn’t anybody mentioned here the main reason – for the lack of enthusiasm for Corbyn?
(besides that he is ”a bit of a pill”)

Let’s call it ”Corbyn’s lack of enthusiasm for the EU” – as even if you know that the guy speaks Spanish fluently – you always suspect that – sooner or later – he doesn’t want to move to Spain – and secretly might have voted for leave too…?

98

Alex SL 09.01.19 at 9:37 pm

J-D:

The point I was trying to make is not “German system better” or something, it is really just this: I don’t understand why anybody but the members of a club should elect the president of the club. Swap party for club and nothing changes; because parties are nothing but clubs whose aim is to win elections and implement policy goals. It is just utterly bizarre to me to have e.g. open primaries allow every comer, including potentially those who want to destroy my party, to decide who gets to be its top candidate.

Now for practical reasons, the faction in parliament needs a head who is elected by the party’s faction in parliament. For practical reasons, it may sometimes make sense to have that person be the same as the party leader (although not knowing the British system that well I wonder whether the Chief Whip is a better parallel to Fraktionsvorsitzender). At any rate, if so they would be faction leader because they are party leader, not the other way around, because it seems like a democratic outrage if for example the one member of parliament of the Greens in Australia would unilaterally get to decide who is the Greens party leader, with none of the dues-paying, door-knocking members getting a say.

How would you expect the party’s followers to be motivated? And as far as I can tell one of the problems in the past few years in Australia has been both large parties alienating their own supporters by suddenly swapping their leaders based merely on the decision of their MPs and senators, which many seem to have perceived as proceeding without a democratic mandate.

(What is more, I still don’t understand what happens if the party has no seats. And if you have a way of electing a party leader when not yet in parliament, then why do the same rules not apply after you have won seats?)

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Cian 09.01.19 at 10:59 pm

It is amazing how every internet thread ends up being an argument about Israel.

100

arcseconds 09.01.19 at 11:17 pm

The whole thing has been some repulsive cross between a quagmire and a train wreck from the beginning, and I find it difficult to tease apart the various dysfunctional factors. How much is due to the particular personalities involved? How much to do with unfortunate combination of circumstances, e.g. a hung parliament? And what is due to systemic factors which are always present in the UK system in particular, or representative democracies in general?

One feature throughout the whole debacle has been that the MPs on the whole prefer other things (like grandstanding, keeping their jobs, loyalty to their party or faction) than doing anything that might actually resolve the situation in a constructive or at least non-disastrous fashion.

At this point it seems really obvious that any kind of resolution apart from crashing out in a no-deal situation (not because the government actually chose to do this, but because Oct. 31 comes around and no-one’s managed to arrange anything else) is going to require compromise, bravery, risk, and perhaps sacrifice from some people, and this was fairly clear months ago, when May couldn’t get support for her agreement. Astute politicians presumably could have realised or at least suspected this much earlier.

Corbyn’s offer of a vote of no confidence, and a caretaker government resulting in a general election should have been taken up by anyone who (a) believed that a no-deal Brexit would be dire, and (b) put the country over their party or their own political career. Instead we got irrelevant nonsense like ‘but but Corbyn doesn’t command enough respect’ — I’m not a fan of Corbyn’s either, but how on earth is his respectability so bad that him being in power for a few weeks (but thoroughly constrained by his government being in minority) is a worse option than a non-deal Brexit?

Yes, you might prefer a referendum before an election, or someone other than Corbyn as the caretaker, but the thing is, not everyone is going to get their first choice, and if everyone demands their first choice or nothing, then nothing is what will happen.

(I’m in two minds about Corbyn’s ‘constructive ambiguity’ on Brexit, but if we take Labour’s commitment to Brexit at face value they probably should have cooperated with May more. Mind you, she probably should have done more to secure such cooperation.)

Another example that spring to mind: Fintan O’Toole made an interesting proposal that would allow Sinn Féin to keep to their absenteeism yet use their seats to stop a no-deal Brexit. Yes, it was radical — but someone has to be brave and do something for the common good. It was rejected out of hand — it seems Sinn Féin prefers grandstanding to stopping a no-deal Brexit (which they say will be terrible) too.

101

J-D 09.01.19 at 11:22 pm

Dipper

It’s always been within the power of the House of Commons to take control of its own agenda in defiance of the government’s wishes. It’s not something that happens often, because usually the government can dispose of sufficient votes in the Commons to prevent it from happening. However, if the House of Commons does that now, it’s not breaking any law or any of its own rules. It would be something unusual, but not something unconstitutional (to the extent that means anything under the system in your country).

The reason why the government does not need to pay attention to a bill requiring an extension of our membership of the EU is that such a bill would commit the government to spending money in ongoing payments to the EU, and Parliament cannot force the government to spend money. Only the government can spend money.

It’s physically possible for an individual to break the law, but that doesn’t make it legal; it’s physically possible for a government minister to break the law, but that doesn’t make it legal. If a law is passed which requires a government minister to act in a particular way, and the government minister intentionally omits to act in that way, then the government minister’s action is unlawful.

102

arcseconds 09.02.19 at 12:17 am

On the subject of Lexiteers (and also still on the subject of MPs preferring grandstanding to doing anything constructive), I listened to a labour MP on a podcast recently.

She’s a Lexiteer: voted for Remain, but says she supports the will of the people (and the official position of the Labour party) now in leaving the EU.

She also gushed about Corbyn — so much exciting left-wing stuff, let’s get Brexit over so we can get on with that.

When pushed by the journalists on the podcast about a no-deal Brexit, she all but said she would vote for no-deal over remain.

The reason?

“if there isn’t a deal, I will not be voting to revoke article 50. I think parliament has enough time to sort this out. If we crash out with no deal, that is not my fault. I voted for a deal twice, and to the hard-line Brexiters I’ve said they had a chance to leave the EU with a deal, and to the hard-line Remainers they’ve had a chance for an orderly exit as well, so I’m not going to take any lectures, I don’t feel hugely under pressure on that front, because, you know, I’ve stuck to what I said.”

So, there you go. So long as you get to say “I told you so”, voting for disaster is fine!

(In fact, as it seems she thinks Remain is still the better option (she didn’t say she had revised her position because she’s been convinced by a superior position), it might not be going too far to say she’s prepared to vote for what she believes to be the worse of two options — is this a weird form of doubling down, where you admit you’re in the wrong but you do it any way, or is it simply spite?)

People who will knowingly vote for the worse of two options to prove a point should not be in charge of ordering lunch, let alone running a country.

( I’m more and more tempted by the thought of getting rid of representational democracy altogether, it just seems to encourage the wrong sorts of people. )

(it was the BBC’s Brexit podcast, and the MP was Caroline Flint, around the 25″ mark) mark.)

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faustusnotes 09.02.19 at 1:52 am

RichieRich et al, Boris Johnson met bin Salman, you know, the guy who chops up journalists, beats feminists and executes non-muslims. If we are to judge our politicians by every shady person they know or endorse we have a bigger problem than just Corbyn.

Also a reminder that Johnson was a member of a club that smashes the restaurants of ordinary British people, which is famous for one of its members face-fucking a dead pig before they trashed the restaurant, which routinely paid sex workers to attend events at a time when sex work was illegal, and whose members sometimes wore nazi uniforms to fancy dress parties.

But absolutely, Corbyn is the problem here and he is definitely the one that Britain’s Jews should be worried about!

104

Chris Bertram 09.02.19 at 6:30 am

@Stephen “I’m still waiting for a statement from you”

Really? You regularly recycle Brexiter talking-points here and I have not interest (or obligation) to engage in fact-checking ping-pong with you.

105

faustusnotes 09.02.19 at 6:35 am

Stephen, a 2002 study specifically analyzing UK food poisoning rates and comparing them to the USA found initially an 11-fold higher rate of food poisoning in the USA. The author presented some plausible arguments about how you could explain the difference by considering different methods of adjusting for non-detection, poisoning pathways etc. But the point was clear that there is a lot of uncertainty about the burden of foodborne disease in the two countries.

The study you cited is a good one but it doesn’t answer your question the way you think because the US grouping you cite includes Mexico, which has a very different dietary and disease profile to the USA. It’s also impossible to extract meaning from the EURO grouping you cite because other studies have shown that even in western Europe foodborne disease burden can differ by an order of magnitude between countries.

Foodborne disease studies are worse than influenza because so much of the causes is never reported. Also the WHO study uses DALYs, which are an extremely dodgy way of calculating disease burden especially where diarrhoeal disease is concerned since the disability weights assigned to diarrhoea are ludicrously high. Also disease burden studies typically understate their uncertainty, since they don’t incorporate uncertainty in the disease weights, the ideal life table, the garbage code redistribution (not convinced the WHO team do this but still), and much of the modeling. In general though if you’re criticizing a study for not accounting for under-reporting you should remember the huge proportion of Americans who cannot get medical care compared to Europe, and guess that under-reporting is worse in the USA.

While little is known about the true difference in burden of disease between the USA and the UK, it is known that they apply different food standards, and the food standards in the US are lower. So I think Chris is reasonable to make this point even if a bunch of highly experimental studies at the regional level don’t entirely support him.

(I personally suspect the chlorinated chicken thing is not the biggest food safety issue in the USA and their fresh lettuce/vegetable issue is the real problem, but I don’t know that much about food safety and foodborne disease, so I wouldn’t bother to go out on a limb for you).

106

Collin Street 09.02.19 at 8:04 am

So apparently Dipper is an expert on UK parliamentary procedure who has never heard of the select vestries bill.

This is not credible. The process is listed in the cliffs-notes one-page flyer they give to primary-school children on “queens speach”; any research whatsoever would have encountered it.

Dipper is telling lies, and he is a liar. Can we be done with him?

107

nastywoman 09.02.19 at 8:13 am

– and about ”chlorinated chicken” AND ”hormone steaks” – there is this rumour in my family -(brought up by my very scientific oceanographer aunt) – that the only reason why this Cousin of mine -(who looks a lot like me) has far more YUUUGER boobs –
IS:

Drum roll!!

that growing up entirely in California -(and eating a lot of hormone food) – and NOT living from healthy pasta.

So take that – Stephen!
-(and are you aware that men can develop YUUUUGE boobs too?)

108

J-D 09.02.19 at 9:16 am

The point I was trying to make is not “German system better” or something,

No, I didn’t think you were. I thought you were suggesting that the experience of the German system suggested some possibilities which might be worth considering, which it certainly does.

In the UK, both the Labour Party and the Conservative Party used to have rules for the election of the Leader by the members of the parliamentary party. Both have more recently changed their rules to allow participation by the non-parliamentary membership. An argument in favour of this is that it allows a choice of leader who is more representative of the views or preferences of the party as a whole. An argument against this is that the parliamentary members are obliged, by their role, to appeal to the whole support base of the party and not just that section of it which consists of actual members, and that therefore a leader chosen by the parliamentary members will be more representative of that whole support base. More specifically, it is argued that the party members are more extreme than the party’s entire support base: Conservative Party members more conservative and Labour Party members more radical. It’s not clear that leaving the choice of party leader entirely to the Conservative MPs would have produced a leader less extreme and more democratically representative than Boris Johnson, but in general terms that’s the argument.

Beyond that, it’s argued that the Prime Minister (who is more than just a party leader) should ideally be somebody the voters have been able to pass judgement on (as leader) at a general election and that, failing that, the next-best is for the Prime Minister to be somebody who owes their position to the people the voters have passed judgement on, which means, again, the MPs.

Please note that I’m not passing judgement on the relative merits of these different arguments. If you asked me how I thought the system should work, I could describe you for the system which would be operating if I’d been asked to design it from scratch: but I’m never going to be asked to design the system from scratch, so this doesn’t fall within the realm of practical politics. If you ask me more narrowly how I think the Conservative Party should arrange its affairs, my recommendation would be a grovelling self-abasing apology combined with a repudiation of its past record, followed by dissolution: but obviously this too is something that’s not going to happen.

Now for practical reasons, the faction in parliament needs a head who is elected by the party’s faction in parliament. For practical reasons, it may sometimes make sense to have that person be the same as the party leader (although not knowing the British system that well I wonder whether the Chief Whip is a better parallel to Fraktionsvorsitzender).

I am not an expert on either the German or the UK system. For what it’s worth, my best guess is that the functions performed by the Fraktionvorsitzender in the party which provides the Bundeskanzler are, in the UK system, mostly divided between the Leader of the House and the Chief Whip, while the functions performed by the Fraktionvorsitzender in an opposition party are, in the UK system, mostly divided between the party leader, the Shadow Leader of the House, and the Chief Whip.

Cian

It is amazing how every internet thread ends up being an argument about Israel.

http://crookedtimber.org/2013/12/24/the-biggest-game-in-town/

arcseconds

Corbyn’s offer of a vote of no confidence, and a caretaker government resulting in a general election should have been taken up by anyone who (a) believed that a no-deal Brexit would be dire, and (b) put the country over their party or their own political career. Instead we got irrelevant nonsense like ‘but but Corbyn doesn’t command enough respect’ — I’m not a fan of Corbyn’s either, but how on earth is his respectability so bad that him being in power for a few weeks (but thoroughly constrained by his government being in minority) is a worse option than a non-deal Brexit?

For an MP who thinks that the overriding objective is to prevent the scenario where the UK leaves the EU without a withdrawal agreement, the option of a no-confidence motion, a caretaker government, and a general election is a poor strategic choice. There is absolutely no reason why that strategy shouldn’t result in the Conservatives winning 330, 350, or 370 seats, the return of Boris Johnson as PM, and the UK crashing out without a withdrawal agreement anyway. Indeed, to me that outcome seems more likely than not. Even if your overriding priority is to prevent departure with no withdrawal agreement, it’s reasonable to fear that the suggested strategy will give you the worst of all worlds.

109

Dipper 09.02.19 at 9:30 am

@ Collin Street “Dipper is an expert on UK parliamentary procedure who has never heard of “ etc etc

I said earlier my knowledge was work in progress. The constitution is not written down in definitive form, so people are searching through all kinds of precedents.

We are all learning. Apart from Collin Street. Who believes he is right and people who disagree with him are wrong, and nothing will shake him from that belief.

110

nastywoman 09.02.19 at 9:51 am

– or should we remind Stephen that his body is –

”a temple”? –

and even if it might not be considered ”food poisoning” by some ”international WHO team” – if such ”a temple” get’s filled up with chlorine or hormones – Stephen might reconsider? – just like any other Brexit or Lexiter – who finally might understand how helpful the EU – and the bureaucrats in Brussel were –
(until now) – in protecting even Dipper – from US hormone steaks and chlorine chicken?

As isn’t that alone a good enough reason for holding another referendum?
With the right type of questioning?

Like:
”Should our Great Britain remain a member of the European Union (EU) which protects us from chlorine chicken and hormone steaks – or should we leave – and in the future get ”chlorined” and ”hormoned” by our new overlord Von Clownstick – instead?

And y’all -(including Dipper) – guess how that referendum would end?!

111

RichieRich 09.02.19 at 9:54 am

nastywoman @97

@86+88+95
Oh! – please! –
Please no such change of subject – as the subject is ”Johnsons’s putsch” and ”Brexit” -(and not ”Israel”)

HcCarey @7 and @34 posed the question of why Corbyn is (widely) hated.

You have a bash at answering this question @36. And, for example, faustusnotes @37, Timothy Scriven @40, Hidari @49, Engels @50 and Cian @63 all give ​their ​answers to this question. Though none of these answers were on the topic of “Johnson’s putsch” or “Brexit” you didn’t object. And yet you object to the answers @86, 87, 88 and 95 for being off topic! In the context of a discussion about Corbyn, it does seems somewhat odd to object to the topic of Israel emerging, given Corbyn’s obsession with that particular country. Perhaps your real objection is that three of these four answers (@86, 87, 88) dared to be highly critical of St Jeremy?

112

nastywoman 09.02.19 at 10:08 am

AND as Dipper once wrote somewhere else:

”Secondly, the EU was formed as a response to the second world war. The Netherlands, for instance are very keen on the EU. This is because IMHO it gives the Netherlands a means of maintaining relations with their neighbour Germany. This is important because the last time the Netherlands disagreed strongly with Germany, Germany bombed their country, invaded it, murdered most of the jews and starved the inhabitants. Hence you can see for the Netherlands the attractions of sharing sovereignty on this basis. (One response the UK has had from various Europeans is ‘what the UK doesn’t understand is that for us this is not about trade, it is about peace in Europe’. How is the UK meant to respond to that? Threaten war?”

We -(the peaceful ones) always wonder – what will these Dippers do – if – or after – the UK get’s conquered by US chlorinechicken and hormone steaks? – and on top of it dealing with somebody who also thinks: My country -(my people) FIRST?

How fast will our British friends understand that a so called ”sovereignty” where another country can feed them their chlorine chicken and hormone steaks – in order to grow British Boobs to a dimension – that they all have to be reduced in size by US Plastic Surgeons – is NOT worth IT?

And they are much better off with the EU?

How long?
One or two years?

113

nastywoman 09.02.19 at 1:23 pm

@111
”Perhaps your real objection is that three of these four answers (@86, 87, 88) dared to be highly critical of St Jeremy”?

As I dared to be very critical of Mr. Corbyn’s ”enthusiasm for the EU” -(or about his personality) – it really was the fear – that this thread could end up – what Cian wrote:

”It is amazing how every internet thread ends up being an argument about Israel”.

114

Scott P. 09.02.19 at 4:50 pm

The point I was trying to make is not “German system better” or something, it is really just this: I don’t understand why anybody but the members of a club should elect the president of the club. Swap party for club and nothing changes; because parties are nothing but clubs whose aim is to win elections and implement policy goals.

That’s fine, but then the question is: who is a member? And saying “anyone who says ‘I am a member” is a member is a perfectly reasonable way to define membership. A lot of religions use that method (formally or informally). Lots of organizations do, too.

115

Hidari 09.02.19 at 8:28 pm

If anyone is paying attention to RichieRich’s and Stephen’s attempts at thread derailment: please don’t. Their claims are lies from start to finish.

Can I justify that claim? Yes. Will I? No: because the claims are not being made in good faith, and it would be absurd, therefore, to respond to baseless smears as if they were serious attempts to move the conversation forward.

@99 ‘It is amazing how every internet thread ends up being an argument about Israel.’

Yes it is, but that’s mainly because of the frequency with which Israeli nationalists turn up on threads (almost invariably nothing to do with Israel) to produce Likudnik (or Kahanist) talking points, regardless of whether or not anyone cares.

116

Collin Street 09.02.19 at 8:37 pm

Dipper is lying when he says he is learning: the way the material is presented there is no intermediate stage he could have passed through that could have given him the beliefs he is claiming he had.

117

Donald 09.03.19 at 12:19 am

“It is amazing how every internet thread ends up being an argument about Israel.”

I think it’s the other way around. At most liberal blogs people tend to run from the topic or make nervous jokes when it comes up. In fact, precisely that joke. In this case it came up because everyone has heard, rightly or wrongly, about Corbyn and Labour and how evil and antisemitic he is and obviously that is in large part about Israel. He could be fairly criticized, I gather, for his stance on Brexit (I don’t know enough to participate), but since he and the Labour Party are supposed to be antisemitic then how do you avoid talking about this? Either he is an antisemite, which should take precedence over other criticisms that have been made, or else he is falsely accused.

118

Matt_L 09.03.19 at 1:53 am

@ engels 08.30.19 at 9:15 am#51

The nineteenth century book is really good. So is his biography of Hobsbawm. Richard Evans is the preeminent historian of modern Germany writing in English today. The Prospect article is probably one of the best written historical comparisons I have seen in print in a long time. Most of what passes for historical analogies in this day and age is warmed over trivia with a heaping of ideological framing. Evans is the real deal, an academic historian who can write for a general audience.

119

arcseconds 09.03.19 at 6:09 am

@ J-D #108

A good point. I think reasonable people could disagree about how likely a Tory win is (they’ve probably lost Scotland completely, that makes things difficult for them), but it is a big risk and if reasonable people can disagree over the exact likelihood then it’s wrong of me to insist that they should have taken the offer.

A few days ago I was actually thinking it seemed a pretty likely outcome myself, and I’m not sure why I didn’t consider it when I wrote the comment. However, I was trying to capture other people’s stated reasoning, and no party seems to have made an argument along these lines. Although perhaps we shouldn’t expect MPs to explicitly countenance the victory of their enemies…

Your consideration may be part of the thinking of the Greens and Plaid Cymru, who want a referendum. The Greens position on closer inspection appears be quite reasonable: it seems that they actually are (or were, a few days ago) prepared to support Corbyn in a vote of no confidence and apparently aren’t going through out their toys if he’s PM.

Plaid Cymru, from what I read, are not quite so reasonable: they won’t (or at some point this is what they were saying, at least) support Corbyn unless he supports Remain. This is grandstanding: despite the fact they agree on an important point and could cooperate to achieve, they’re instead trying to brinkmanship Corbyn into doing everything they want (and thus implicitly are using no deal as a threat).

Whingeing about Corbyn’s personality I still maintain is… I was going to say a pointless waste of time, but it’s actually worse than that. It’s treating Corbyn’s personality or desert to be PM as more important than the future of the UK.

(I mean as an impediment for him being PM over Johnson — I’ve no issues with the complaints made about him by commenters here!)

There aren’t any safe routes to anything at the moment — any action to get anything better than a no deal Brexit is going to involve risk.

People who know a thing or two say Johnson surely would prefer an agreement, and if we take that seriously then maybe it’s better to just let him work out whatever he can, the worry being any action might just impede his ability to get a deal together, resulting in a default no-deal on the 31st.

But that’s pretty depressing for several reasons, not least of which I don’t think I believe Johnson is that committed to avoiding a no-deal Brexit. What are we supposing would stop him? Nothing he has done makes me think he cares about outcomes for people other than himself one iota, and if we’re thinking that he’ll be concerned about remaining PM, or his legacy… well, no doubt he’ll blame it all on other people, and the opposition is still in a shambles, and he seems more than prepared to play high-risk, high stakes games.

120

arcseconds 09.03.19 at 6:22 am

@faustusnotes #103

“But absolutely, Corbyn is the problem here and he is definitely the one that Britain’s Jews should be worried about!”

Is anyone actually making this argument? Or even suggesting that Johnson is a better person than Corbyn?

121

SusanC 09.03.19 at 9:16 am

P.s. Open primaries aren’t that radical idea – as I understand it, the Democrats already do that in several US states, and the current UK Labour Party system where non-members can pay a small fee to vote in the leadership election isn’t that far from it,

122

Zamfir 09.03.19 at 9:24 am

Since it was broad up again: Dipper’s description of Dutch-German relations doesn’t match my impression, though I cannot speak for all Dutch people. I think this goes wider than just the Netherlands.

In particular, when people talk about peace as a result from the EU, they do not mean invasions to settle “strong disagreements”, as Dipper suggests. After all, Germany did not invade Poland because of a “disagreement”, unless you count “don’t want to be invaded” as the disagreement.

The lesson we took from WW2, was to be weary of strong nationalism. When people want war as expression of national strength, they can find the disagreements.

In this view, a major goal of the EU is to create a common identity. It doesn’t have to be full national identity (though some people want that as well), but strong enough to dampen nationalism to the point where people don’t want to fight wars with their neighbours.

It seems clear that the UK took very lessons from WW2. For me, it’s shocking how much glorification of WW2 comes up around Brexit. How much wartime metaphors show up -patriots, traitors, and an enemy. Many Brits see wartime nationalism as something that protected them once, to be cherished in case they need it again.

123

nastywoman 09.03.19 at 11:29 am

@
”a major goal of the EU is to create a common identity”.

It is – and for everybody who tells anybody: I’m European -(even being by birth part of another identity) the utmost disappointing… thing is – that so many ”Brits” -(who are actually ”lovely people”) don’t tell you that they are ”European.”

Which makes absolutely no sense as isn’t being ”European” so much more than ”just” being ”British” or ”French” or even ”Italian”? – and so we always try to tell everybody -(who asks or doesn’t ask) –
with the strongest British accent we are able to mimic – that we are EUROPEAN – and if somebody asks: ”From London” we always answer in Italian.
-(and hand out a card of the best Italian restaurant in London)

124

nastywoman 09.03.19 at 11:40 am

– or in other words:

Why do our British friends – who – for example – live in Spain -(or in Zürich) that this ”Nationalism Thing” is… kind of ”a drag” – while so many in ”their British homeland” have such a hard time understanding the concept… of ”nationalism is a drag” – and how truly great it is to tell – for example – any ”patriotic American” –

”WE are European!!”

– as isn’t it anywhoo the case – that in reality our British friends much closer to us -(the Europeans) than to these truly ”isolated Americans” whose island is so YUUUGE that – they they think they need to know so little about US Europeans?

125

RichieRich 09.03.19 at 12:20 pm

@113

In the earlier part of this thread you seemed OK with folk discussing why Corbyn was hated even though such a discussion technically strayed from the thread’s subject. But when I joined in the the discussion, you objected to me straying.

There seems to be quite a bit of sensitivity here to threads being derailed by discussions of Israel. (Perhaps with good reason. I’ve not been a regular reader of CT over a long period.) So presumably, you weren’t objecting to straying per se, but straying in the direction of Israel.

But is seems to me that given that Israel has been a not inconsiderable focus of Corbyn’s political activity and life, and given that Israel engenders such strong feeling, it’s not unreasonable to expect that, in a discussion of why Corbyn is hated, the subject of Israel might raise its head.

That said, neither of my posts were directly about Israel but about how Corbyn cosies up to antisemitic Islamists. It’s quite possible both to be critical of Israel and object to the company Corbyn keeps.

I have to say that a couple of posts about Corbyn’s relationship with antisemitic Islamists hardly strikes me as an concerted attempt to derail the thread into a discussion about Israel. YMMV.

126

Cian 09.03.19 at 2:29 pm

P.s. Open primaries aren’t that radical idea – as I understand it, the Democrats already do that in several US states, and the current UK Labour Party system where non-members can pay a small fee to vote in the leadership election isn’t that far from it,

It’s not radical, but I fail to see any reason to do it. The Labour party is a private organization that is able to operate thanks to the fees and volunteer work of its members. They do these things because they share the collective aims/goals of the party. As such they vote on policy and leadership. Come an election its members will be knocking on doors and canvassing. They will be operating phone banks. If members of the party vote for another party they will be kicked out.

Membership means something. It comes with responsibilities and costs. I fail to see why anyone who’s not prepared to make those commitments should have any say over the leadership.

Open primaries in the US are another thing. If the US political system was reformed so that it wasn’t a two party state (enshrined in state law for god’s sake), and had parties that were real parties (they’re not – being registered democrat doesn’t mean a whole lot) then they wouldn’t be necessary. The US political system is terrible – worse even than the British one which takes some doing.

127

Hidari 09.03.19 at 5:51 pm

@120 ‘Is anyone actually making this argument? Or even suggesting that Johnson is a better person than Corbyn?’

I think you’ll find in the British media, quite a lot of people are saying precisely that.

128

Dipper 09.03.19 at 8:07 pm

@ Zamfir “The lesson we took from WW2, was to be weary of strong nationalism” is the wrong lesson. Fascism was a pan-European movement. People from lots of nations joined up. Armies from Germany, Italy, Rumania, aligned with volunteers from most Western European countries fought together.

The lesson should be to beware politicians from non-German countries dreaming of European domination on the back German industrial strength. Sound familiar?

129

HcCarey 09.03.19 at 10:38 pm

Well Johnson went down like the Hindenberg this evening. Oh the humanity! Enjoyed watching it. Rees-Mogg is like some American’s caricature of an upper class twit. If you saw him in a movie you’d criticize the movie for being unrealistic.

I doubt he’s finished though. I’ll bet those Tory rebels get strong-armed back into line.

It’s pure magical thinking to accept the idea that he will suddenly produce a deal. His goal is no-deal, which would be short of a catastrophe but massively stupid and needlessly destructive.

Election roulette!

130

J-D 09.03.19 at 10:53 pm

The UK Conservative party has already made some use of open primaries to select parliamentary candidates:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservative_Party_(UK)_parliamentary_primaries

131

ph 09.04.19 at 2:49 am

@128 The good news is that we can sure that all members are basing their actions on what they believe to be best for the British people, and not out of self-interest, bribery, or any sort of deviousness and dishonesty which taints so many other systems. I love it.

There really is something special about being British and its on full display at the moment. I’m sure all other people whose parents emigrated from Britain feel a sense of deep regret that we can’t take participate more directly in this demonstration of how to do things the British way.

The farce is far from over and will produce even greater follies.

132

faustusnotes 09.04.19 at 5:12 am

Oooh look at Dipper at 127 comparing a trading bloc freely entered into with nazism. Ain’t that nice!

133

arcseconds 09.04.19 at 6:11 am

@Cian #125

Could you elaborate on what you feel is the salient difference when it comes to open primaries, and why you feel the parties in the US are somehow not real?

I mean, I take it that the point of open primaries for presidential elections is to give the electorate more input into who gets the top job than selecting from the two candidates the two main parties have selected.

But this is all that the electorate can do in UK elections. In fact they can’t even do that directly, they have to do it by proxy and hope the party doesn’t decide to ditch their candidate and install someone completely different after the election.

I’m not sure how e.g. the Democratic party fails to be a real party, too. Is the point it’s a big tent? But so are Labour and the Conservative parties…

(BTW, I’m not necessarily a fan of open primaries, but I don’t understand your objections. They seem to me to make more sense in the US system where the president is directly elected and is largely independent of the legislature at any rate.)

134

Dipper 09.04.19 at 6:29 am

@ HcCarey Well Johnson went down like the Hindenberg this evening…. I’ll bet those Tory rebels get strong-armed back into line.”

Once the drama has settled down, we are still where we have been for about three years.

What are Parliament proposing? The get an extension, to do what? They won’t accept the Withdrawal Agreement, they won’t leave without an agreement, so what? If they have a referendum, what is the question? Remain would be on, then what? They can’t put a deal on there, it would be very odd after all that has happened to put leaving with No Deal on there, so what alternative to Remain do they put on there that they would be willing to act on?

And then there’s The Brexit Party. We are here because of their polling in the Euro elections. All those Tories MPs leaving the party are toast at the next election.

Lots of drama, but 17.4 million people remember how they voted and are looking on at how Parliament is treating their vote and the promises they made.

135

Collin Street 09.04.19 at 8:03 am

The US parties fail to be real “parties” — private organisations controlled by their membership — because as a practical matter they’re micro-managed under statute in pretty much the same way as a government department. I mean, they don’t even control their own membership records or how they decide who’ll be their candidate.

(the US governmental system has a whole bunch of nasty hidden structural problems; the structure of “party” is one of those.)

136

Dipper 09.04.19 at 8:12 am

@ faustusnotes ” comparing a trading bloc freely entered into with nazism”. If it was just a trading block freely entered into then we wouldn’t be here would we? NAFTA isn’t a precursor to Canada joining the United States.

You’re a NAZI! is a game everyone can play.

137

Tim Worstall 09.04.19 at 9:23 am

“P.s. Open primaries aren’t that radical idea – as I understand it, the Democrats already do that in several US states, and the current UK Labour Party system where non-members can pay a small fee to vote in the leadership election isn’t that far from it,”

Also, @129.

Yep, Tories tried it a bit. Ended up with Sarah Wollaston in Totnes. Might not be the best advertisement for the idea.

138

HcCarey 09.04.19 at 11:28 am

Dipper http://crookedtimber.org/2019/08/29/johnsons-putsch/#comment-759569

Yes here we are again back where “we voted to leave” is equivalent to “we voted to suspend reality: why isn’t it suspended?!

It’s incumbent on Brexiters to explain how this will work: how will the border be resolved? What will trade deals look like? How will residency be managed? May tried and failed, you could have had your Brexit a year ago. Well, try again. The people’s elected representatives have determined that “no deal” would be a bad thing. Why is THAT any less democratic than the non-binding referendum?

Give up NI, and you can have your Brexit. Oh I forgot, DUP. Damn reality.

139

J-D 09.04.19 at 11:33 am

arcseconds

I’m more and more tempted by the thought of getting rid of representational democracy altogether, it just seems to encourage the wrong sorts of people.

What’s your alternative, and what makes you think it would be any better?

Most political parties in most countries are either incorporated or unincorporated associations with members who have obtained membership by applying for it and being approved and by paying periodical membership subscriptions, and with rules which define the obligations and rights attached to membership.

In the US, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party do not have members. They are not organisations structured in that way. In no case is it a requirement of participating in party activities that you be a member of the party, because the party doesn’t have any members: none of the people participating do so as members of an organisation called ‘the Democratic Party’ or ‘the Republican Party’.

140

Dipper 09.04.19 at 12:35 pm

@nastywoman “that this ”Nationalism Thing” is… kind of ”a drag””

One of the problems with this debate is peoples use of the word nationalism to mean two things. There’s nationalism in the sense that people belonging to a particular nation are somehow superior, even to the point of thinking they should rule other nations, and then there’s nationalism as in a group of people thinking their bets interests are served by forming a nation themselves, rather than being part of another nation.

References by Zamfir above to ‘strong nationalism’ seem to be primarily around the first kind, where a nation thought it was superior and should rule other nations.

I’ve never met a single person in the UK, Leave or Remain, who thought that. In the context of Brexit it is clearly nationalism as self-rule. No different to Irish nationalism, Scottish nationalism, or any other such nationalism that people on ere think are valid nationalisms.

To be clear, no-one in the UK wants to make the laws of any other countries. There do seem to be a number of people in other countries who think they should make UK law, however.

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