The madness unparalleled, genuinely epic


James O’Brien explains the chaos in the UK. He’s incredulous at how incapable Parliament is at confronting a bad idea like Brexit. I’m similarly boggled at how the US is incapable of confronting the obvious problem that the president and leaders of congress are venal incompetents are sending us careening down a greased chute to our doom.

But at least it fills me with a feeling of deep connection with people across the Atlantic. We’re both neck deep in shitholes.

Comments

  1. ajbjasus says

    It is indeed a clusterfuck. I think Churchill said that ” No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others that have been tried from time to time.” This fiasco makes me doubt he was right. How is one supposed to make sense of :

    The referendum was called by David Cameron (pro-Europe) in an attempt to ward off UKIP and defeat the Brexiteers in the Conservative party.
    Jeremy Corbyn, who is at heart anti-European made a pretty half-hearted attempt at mobilising the “Reamain” vote amongst Labour heartland
    Boris Johnson couldn’t decide which side he was on, but at the last minute came down as Brexit, presumably (and as we are seeing) to further his political career.
    Our negotiations are being led by Theresa May, who campaigned to remain
    Labour are going to vote against any deal the Conservatives may come up with, mainly for political expedience, but also because it is too “tough”
    Some Conservatives will vote against the Chequers deal because it is too soft.
    Meanwhile Europe continues to creak and groan with internal tensions – see what id happening in Italy now !

    I could go on, but have lost the will to care anymore !

  2. Dunc says

    Some Conservatives will vote against the Chequers deal because it is too soft.

    The Chequers “deal” isn’t going to happen (because it’s completely fucking delusional), so this is unlikely to be an issue.

    Our “negotiating” strategy from day one has basically been that of the stereotypical entitled English tourist trying to order a full English breakfast and a pot of tea in a Greek taverna where they don’t have any of the ingredients and nobody speaks any English – keep repeating the same completely unrealistic demands over and over in the hope that a miracle occurs. At this point, I’m pretty sure that the over-riding concern for everybody involved is simply to have somebody else to blame when it all inevitably goes pear-shaped.

  3. KG says

    The “Democratic” Unionists are currently threatening to vote against the budget later this month if they don’t like what they’re hearing about the Brexit negotiations. This would probably mean the government could not get its budget through, although it would be close, and a few strategic absences by Labour MPs who hate Corbyn might let them squeak through. A Tory MP has said she thinks the “D”UP are bluffing, but May would be unwise to count on it.

  4. willj says

    And at the core, on both sides of the Atlantic, the whole mess was initially driven by stoked-up hatred of other cultures and non-white people. So pointless.

  5. Dunc says

    This would probably mean the government could not get its budget through, although it would be close, and a few strategic absences by Labour MPs who hate Corbyn might let them squeak through.

    Here’s a thought that’s been on my mind a lot of late… Both Labour and the Tories have major internal splits. No faction comes close to having a majority on its own. However, the two largest factions have the most in common, and they’re the Blairites and the Tory “moderates”. I could see a “national unity government” and a major political realignment happening in the not too distant future…

  6. ajbjasus says

    #4 Indeed. There has been a bizarre conflation of immigrants/free movement from Europe, immigration from the Commonwealth and influx of refugees in the minds of many, and even more bizarrely the “solution” to it all was to leave the EU.

  7. springa73 says

    I wonder if the people of the UK would vote for Brexit again now, knowing what a big mess it would become …

  8. F.O. says

    With all of Europe’s flaws, I consider myself European and can’t deal with what is happening.

    In Italy, close friends and relatives, people who I’d usually consider good and intelligent, tried to tell me something on the lines “I hope that Salvini will finally fix things….”
    People who I care about, people of whom I had esteem, expressed a position that’s both callous AND stupid.
    They are letting families drown in the Mediterranean, but that’s ok because they’re brown. They are trying to legalise firearms. Jesus fucking christ.

    I live in Sweden now, and after a decade of center-right, welfare cuts and increasing economic inequality, people are complaining that healthcare is on its knees. And guess who’s to blame? Immigrants.
    There is a Socialist party, and they have “leaving Europe” in their program.

    Sorry for the rant.
    I lost any faith in humanity.

  9. Curt Sampson says

    @ajbjasus: And let’s not forget Teresa May’s brilliant idea of calling a snap election to lose her majority in parliament.

    I wonder if the people of the UK would vote for Brexit again now, knowing what a big mess it would become …

    A number of the “leave” voters said immediately after the referendum passed that if they could go back and vote again they’d vote “remain.” It seems that they just wanted to register a protest, and didn’t think that other voters would do something as dumb as vote for something they didn’t really want. And now they, along with the rest of the U.K., will reap the reward for throwing a tantrum.

  10. ajbjasus says

    #9 Curt – oh that was on my list – just ran out of the will to keep typing !

    I’m sure you’re right about the protest vote, too – I heard that from lots of people. It was a kind of luxury for them to protest without having to deal with the consequences. May is in an impossible position, but I can’t envisage how anyone could sort this mess out.

  11. specialffrog says

    Not to mention May constantly talking about having a very specific mandate from the referendum even though it won with a minority of the electorate (turnout was low) and without a majority amongst those who voted in 2/4 countries in the union and ignoring that it was an explicitly “advisory” referendum without a clear definition of what “brexit” meant.

  12. KG says

    Dunc@5,

    Possible I suppose, but unlikely: party allegiances are deep – not necessarily for reasons of principle, but because the FPTP system works against new parties, and sitting MPs rely on networks of supporters in their local parties to get them re-elected. Last time such a realignment was tried (the SDP in the 1980s – remember them?) it cut into the vote share of Labour and gave the Tories a long and disastrous run in power, but failed to overturn the Tory-Labour duopoly in the medium term. More recently, UKIP got 12.6% of the vote in 2015 but just 1 seat.

    My own outside-chance speculation has the SNP backing whatever cobbled-together deal May and the EU come up with, in return for the right to call IndyRef 2 whenever Sturgeon decides the time is right. The SNP line would be: “The rest of the UK voted for Brexit, and we’ve no wish to stand in their way, but Scotland voted to stay in, and the Scottish people deserve their chance to decide whether they prefer to stay in the UK, or the EU – a choice they have never been offered.”

  13. EigenSprocketUK says

    @springa73 #7

    I wonder if the people of the UK would vote for Brexit again now, knowing what a big mess it would become …

    No, we wouldn’t. All the opinion trackers are showing that the electorate has shifted the other way, in no small part because the current foreseeable future is a complete dog’s breakfast that no-one wanted, is definitely not what was promised, and because everyone is much better informed. Sadly, that’s why the government is very unlikely to let mere people have a say.
    Unfortunately, we are so busy squabbling about which impossible better system we would like instead, it’s very likely that consensus will only form around the least-worst option. (The sensible option, of course, would be to put the whole thing on indefinite hold until the country can stop lying to itself and grow up. The government and the opposition are both strongly opposed to that.)
    It’s frightening to say that the only way out is for both major parties to collapse into oblivion and for the government to be reduced to chaos, during which time we will probably have become a bottom-of-the-league nation for the next 50 years.

  14. springa73 says

    The sensible option, of course, would be to put the whole thing on indefinite hold until the country can stop lying to itself and grow up. The government and the opposition are both strongly opposed to that.)

    Have any major public figures in the UK suggested this? It actually seems like the best idea, though it would of course infuriate the remaining pro-Brexit people.

    Referenda look very democratic but unlike “regular” elections they can bind policy for generations.

  15. jazzlet says

    I’ve not seen any major public figure suggest an indefinite hold, but there are several touting a six month extension before whatever is to happen happens. Of course the possibility of an extension does rather rely on the EU agreeing to it and I can see no reason why they would because of the above ‘an English Breakfast’, ‘I said An ENGLISH Breakfast ,’AN ENGLISH BREAKFAST’ negotiating technique, that’s on top of all of the crap both Conservative and Labour Governments have pulled on the rest of the EU over the years, and the desire to discourage any other country from leaving..

  16. says

    @#12, KG:

    My own outside-chance speculation has the SNP backing whatever cobbled-together deal May and the EU come up with, in return for the right to call IndyRef 2 whenever Sturgeon decides the time is right. The SNP line would be: “The rest of the UK voted for Brexit, and we’ve no wish to stand in their way, but Scotland voted to stay in, and the Scottish people deserve their chance to decide whether they prefer to stay in the UK, or the EU – a choice they have never been offered.”

    Considering that the SNP are suing to halt Brexit on the grounds that it was undertaken without the approval of Scottish Parliament and therefore violates devolution of powers, I doubt that that’s going to happen. Whether that suit will be an 11th-hour rescue of the British from their own stupidity I don’t know, but the SNP is about a thousand times better than either Labour or the Tories (and Scotland is one of the few parts of the UK which regularly ends up in the black on the budget, the other being Northern Ireland, while also doing a better job on things like public housing and education despite most of the power having been taken away from the Scottish Parliament).

    @#14, springa73

    Have any major public figures in the UK suggested this? It actually seems like the best idea, though it would of course infuriate the remaining pro-Brexit people.

    The EU has said that if the referendum was going to be binding after all, then the deadline has to be honored. The only way out of that would have been for Cameron/May to have said, early on, “no, this was merely advisory, Parliament has to take it under consideration”. But that would have required the Tories to be interested in the good of the country rather than in maintaining their grip on the government — their Leave voters would have defected to UKIP and since they’ve been showing for the last decade that even without Brexit they are totally incompetent at that whole “running a government” thing they’d be out in the wilderness. But they aren’t merely “not interested in the good of the country”, they are actively interested in harming the country. At the recent Tory conference, May quietly outlined her plan to privatize even more of the NHS and sell it to American companies (because if you’re going to screw up your country’s healthcare, why not go to the worst system in the industrialized world to run it for you?).

  17. davidc1 says

    Re Bloody Stupid johnson ,he is only on one side ,his own .I voted to remain ,and i would vote the same way if there was another Referendum.

    @16 ,maybot has just appointed a minister for suicide ,while in the real world there are now 5000 less mental health nurses than there was in 2010

  18. says

    I have dual US and UK citizenship, and I used to think that if anything went (as someone said above) “pear-shaped” in either place, well there would always be the other. Of course I didn’t foresee it being ‘pair-shaped’ too.

  19. chrislawson says

    ajbjasus@10–

    May inherited a very, very difficult situation, but the impossible situation is all her own doing. She didn’t need to run so heavily on a “Brexit at all costs” strategy. She didn’t need to call the snap election that cost her the parliamentary majority. She didn’t need to make a deal with the Belfast Lunatics (she could have gritted her teeth and led a minority government; better than gritting your teeth and trying to manage an ungovernable, sociopathic rabble). She didn’t need to keep yelling at the EU that “you need to give us everything we want while we refuse to give you anything” while pretending to British citizens that the EU was going to acquiesce to their (unachievable, utterly unreasonable) demands any day now. She didn’t need to keep lying about there being a “Canada” option on the table (not an impossible outcome in the long term, but it will take many years of work and has nothing to do with the current Brexit negotiation).

  20. kingoftown says

    The tories really have no idea just how stubborn the DUP are. The idea that they’re bluffing about voting against the budget is ridiculous, this is the party of Ian “NO SURRENDER” Paisley. They have left Northern Ireland in limbo without government for close to 2 years because they refuse to give any ground on gay marriage or rights for irish language speakers.

    The DUPs demands are incompatible with the Good Friday agreement so the only way forward I can see is for the government to collapse.

  21. Rich Woods says

    @The Vicar #17:

    What you said.

    This is the real fuckery behind it all. The Tories want to sell everything off. They’ve been doing it for four decades. This how they fund their tax cut bribes to get them back into power so that they can sell off something else. And once the initial impact of the tax cut has been dealt with, the country is left with less income, year after year, to deal with the problems left in the other sectors. But what is the solution to those problems? Privatise them!

    We have decades of data showing that this doesn’t work, yet still we (as a country) continue down the same path.

    Wonderful.

  22. John Morales says

    Wow. Excellent diatribe from James O’Brien. Impressive.

    (I’ve been quite interested in following this slow-motion train-wreck since it began)

  23. anchor says

    There’s a comment on that twitter thread that encapsulates the insanity:

    Pete’s Leeds says, “Even if this lad is right I couldn’t listen to him, he’s so wrong as a personality.”

    I had to read that a few times to gain the full impact of implications. Here is how it parses out:

    Pete’s Leeds could not listen to “this lad” – even if he’s right – BECAUSE …he’s so wrong as a personality”.

    That must be an example of what James O’Brien means by, “You can put your fingers in your ears and shout fish” – in combination with the quote he supplies from conservative MP Michael Gove, “Let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the good”. The incoherence and misdirection coupled with the gullible media (like, say, the BBC) mindset is complete.

    If Brexit actually means anything now, it is a Britain exhibiting a galloping senility. Its become the equivalent of the proverbial old war horse babbling incoherently and repetitiously recounting the glorious halcyon days ‘during the WAR’.

    Referring to Parliamentary ‘positions’, O’brien cites the reality of forty or five positions, whatever, it is a mad myriad in any case, exposing the farce that now passes for governance in Britain: “The idea that those are two recognizable coherent positions is palpably absurd”.

    As absurd as, say, a British Citizen refusing to listen to anyone “even if they are right” because they don’t like the ‘personality’ involved. Nothing says style like a deep dedication to cosmetic concerns…evidently, especially when it comes to the serious business of establishing a political stance..

    Of course the senility isn’t confined to Britain. Nationalistic/Fascist fervor thrives on disorder. It not only opportunistically exploits it, it lovingly cultivates it. It’s all too easy to bubble up a mob of gullible selfish assholes who are already primed to blame the world and anything else other than themselves for the predicament they perceive they have been so unjustly subjected to.

    We’ve allowed our culture to cultivate a profusion of incipient moral cripples Its so very easy to give them clearance and ‘justification’ to vent their resentments and hatreds on anyone they deem beneath them, those whom they perceive have denied them their rightful entitlements…those they perceive should be punished for forcing them to become such pathetically weak incontinent incessantly whining crybaby assholes.

    The culture has a direct relation to individual psychopathic behavior. It is well known that psychopaths are incapable of owning responsibility for any actions they undertake: its always someone else’s fault. They typically blame their victims for their actions. That should sound familiar in a political environment that supplies fuel to the evil idea that Jack Nicholson’s character was right..

    This is the height of Jack Nicholson declaring, “I don’t want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of ME”, as he played one of the most repulsive characters in cinematic history (although saying so isn’t saying much considering the glut of idiotically puerile cosmically engorged superheroes so delicately poofing out the fine scented powders suggesting the applicability of

    Psychopathic blame-shaming is de rigueur when it comes to the kind of insecurity that systematically eliminates a healthy self assessment measured against a conceptual model of ethical responsibility. That irresponsible and spineless culture identifies it as a weakness. Ironically those MISSING ethics – which in competent human cultures are traditions that preserve strength through accountability – is precisely what allows them to feel strong.

    They can be easily whipped up into a swarm, like individual grasshoppers become gregarious locusts. Hit all the proper emotional buttons. Never stop reminding them how HORRIBLE ‘liberal thought’ (as opposed to ‘conservative thought’) must be. FOX it up. Supply ‘alternative facts’!

    (The suggestion courtesy of an official White House COUNCELOR who has not only made a career out of strategic lying but zoomed to the very top of the political world to proclaim her exceptional aptitude for contradicting any pesky facts that relevantly frame sincere questions that might come up – especially if it comes from a FREE media, unbought by the propaganda meisters).

    Simply loudly and repetitively scream ‘FAKE NEWS!’ wherever and whenever anything reported isn’t compatible with one’s dearly desired plans. . The art of propaganda – widely orchestrated campaigns of DECEPTION, of LYING – has always been an effective political tool, but even by the standards of Nazi Germany, the shit hitting the fan now has never seen such a flowering as it has at the present time.

    Hawk up the superiority angle. Look at Melania, who claims to be “the most bullied person in the world” with her impeccably white garbed fashion decision crowned so adorably with colonial pith helmet, whilst spouting her “Be Best!” refrain. Is there really anybody left who doesn’t get that is actually a subtle hint that it’s ok to feel superior over the inferiors? Judging from even the most liberal end of the news media, who have yet to mention it, I guess so. But if anyone had harbored the delusion that she was simply a profoundly dumb person who imagines she’s some kind of beauty or fashion queen, those circumstances should precipitate a profound rethink. She’s right in line with that jerk she’s married to.

    All of this demonstrates once again Einstein was right. There really is no limit to human stupidity.

  24. richardemmanuel says

    The desert of Nevada bloomed on the back of broken dreams, paid for by the millions who lost. But a gambler can only lose if the house wins. Overall, nothing can be lost.

    In 2008 a rather larger gamble went wrong, and nothing was lost. In fact so much nothing was lost, we’re still paying for it now.

    Our betters inform us it is most wise to recapitalise them for another go. I suggest the exit is better.

  25. stinkyj says

    From https://brianbilston.com/2018/07/16/hold-my-hand-while-we-jump-off-this-cliff/

    Hold my hand while we jump off this cliff

    ‘Let’s jump off this cliff – it’ll be fun! A right laugh!’
    urged all the people (well, I mean just over half
    of those who had bothered to speak up at all).
    I peered down at the rocks; it was a long way to fall.

    I said, ‘This cliff’s more than three hundred feet high
    and my doctor tells me if I jump I will die.’
    ‘Cliff-jumping’s fine!’ they said. ‘Don’t trust doctors, trust us!
    We read all about it on the side of a bus.’

    Worried, I met up with my local MP.
    I shared my concerns. He was forced to agree:
    ‘Why the rocks below would smash you to bits!
    Where did you get this idea of jumping off cliffs?’

    ‘It was the will of some of the people,’ I said
    and his expression changed to another instead.
    ‘I think,’ he revised, ‘you’re being melodramatic.
    The problem is you. You’re undemocratic.’

    On the clifftop, we waited. In silence we stood.
    Then a voice: ‘Remind me, why is cliff-jumping good?’
    But we looked down at our shoes, baffled and stumped.
    Then, out of embarrassment, we held hands and jumped.

  26. KG says

    The Vicar@16,

    Unless you live in Scotland (as I have for the past 20 years, more than half of that under an SNP government), or are a very close student of Scottish politics, I suspect I know rather more about the SNP than you do. They would certainly prefer Brexit not to happen, but their overwhelming priority, their very reason for existence, is to gain Scottish independence – an aim I share, incidentally, and campaigned for in 2014. For them, anything and everything is secondary to this aim (including the features that lead you to judge them “a thousand times better than either Labour or the Tories”*). They would also much rather have a “soft Brexit” than a no-deal Brexit, as I’ll explain below.

    As for:

    the SNP are suing to halt Brexit on the grounds that it was undertaken without the approval of Scottish Parliament and therefore violates devolution of powers

    you’ve got it wrong with your usual sublime self-assurance. There is no such case. There are two cases you might be referring to. One is a case before the UK Supreme Court where the UK government is seeking a ruling that the “Continuity Bill” passed by the Scottish Parliament, which “withholds legislative consent” from the EU withdrawal Bill, and is intended to protect the Parliament’s powers from a Westminster “grab” of the powers to be returned from the EU on the date of Brexit, exceeds Holyrood’s legal authority. Even if the case goes against the UK government, it won’t stop Brexit, as of course the SNP is well aware. The other is a case brought by SNP MPs and MEPs, and MSPs from both the SNP and my own party, the Scottish Greens, at the European Court of Justice (the EU’s highest court) which seeks to establish whether the UK can unilaterally halt Brexit by revoking Article 50. A favourable ruling would not stop Brexit, but make it clear that the UK Parliament could do so without the agreement of any EU body.

    Now, back to the main point at issue. To hold a second independence referendum which would be recognised as binding, the SNP Scottish Government requires the consent of the UK Parliament. Its only alternatives would be to hold a referendum without this, like the Catalonian government, or to announce that if it gains a pro-independence majority at the next Scottish election (or perhaps a majority of pro-independence MPs elected in Scotland at the next UK election) that will be a mandate for independence, and it will issue a UDI. It has shown no sign of wishing to go down either of those highly risky paths. Currently, none of the other parties represented at Westminster (apart from the sole England and Wales Green Party MP) would support a second independence referendum (“Indyref 2”). The SNP needs a situation where it has either the Tories or (after another Westminster election) Labour, over a barrel – needing SNP support so much that they are willing to risk Indyref 2. May’s need to get a Brexit deal through the Commons is the only possibility in the near future. Also, as I said, the SNP would much prefer a “soft” Brexit to a no-deal Brexit. Its minimum requirement is probably the same as that of the EU – some arrangement which allows the free movement of goods and people across the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. With such an arrangement, a powerful argument againsat independence – the prospect of a “hard border” between England and an independent Scotland – becomes far less plausible, so making it a lot easier to win Indyref 2.

    I still don’t think this is a likely outcome – it would be a risky strategy – but the more I think about it (and thanks for prompting me to do so further), the more plausible it appears.

    *It’s true they have done markedly better in a number of ways, but not nearly as much as you suggest. And they have not used the full powers available to them, which, incidentally, have not been “taken away” from the Scottish Parliament – it currently has more powers than at any time since it was restored in 1999. There are some very good people in the SNP (including my MP, Tommy Sheppard), but also a lot of “tartan Tories”. They stood on an “anti-austerity” platform in recent elections, but since the last have hired one Andrew Wilson – a “tartan Tory” if ever there was one – to write a report which proposes in effect a decade of austerity and continued use of sterling after independence.

  27. KG says

    There are a lot of rumours that a deal on Brexit is close – and involves further concessions by May, leaving the UK effectively in the Customs Union for an indefinite period (May is said to be holding out for an end date, the EU negotiators to be refusing, offering instead a lot of non-legally-binding blather about a post-Brexit trade deal). Disquiet is reported in the Cabinet. If this is the shape of a deal, May will need significant non-Tory support to get it through the Commons. My hunch is that she will not want it to be agreed this month or next, but as close to the deadline of March 29th as possible, so she can say there’s no time for any other deal, or to delay Brexit, and it’s this deal or a no-deal Brexit. But that emphasises the importance of the case before the European Court of Justice I mentioned @29: if the UK Parliament can unilaterally cancel Brexit, then that’s another option, and might well follow a rejection of the deal May brings back.

  28. Dunc says

    It’s an interesting scenario, KG… But as you pointed it earlier, party loyalties and antipathies run deep, and there are few antipathies deeper than that between the SNP and the Tories. I’d say May’s far more likely to get the support she needs from Labour “moderates”. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see…

  29. KG says

    The EU has said that if the referendum was going to be binding after all, then the deadline has to be honored. – The Vicar@16

    Another thing in the Vicar’s screed that is completely wrong. The EU has said no such thing. When the UK government invoked Article 50, that set a 2-year clock ticking – that’s just the way the Lisbon Treaty, signed by all EU states in December 2007 and in force since 1st December 2009, is written. If nothing supervenes, the UK will cease to be a member of the EU 2 years after the invocation – i.e., on 29th March 2019. But the UK can request an extension; this would have to be agreed by all the other 27 states. None of the 27 have said they would refuse – although they haven’t promised they wouldn’t – and no other EU body has the power to do so. It may also be that the UK can unilaterally revoke Article 50 – that’s to be decided in the case currently before the European Court of Justice.

  30. KG says

    there are few antipathies deeper than that between the SNP and the Tories – Dunc@31

    Actually, I judge that between the SNP and Labour to be deeper! They both think they are absolutely entitled to the votes of all Scots. But the possibility you suggest is certainly a real one, depending on the exact shape of the deal, and whether cancelling the whole ludicrous enterprise – which almost all Labour “moderates”* would prefer – looks feasible when the question arises. FWIW, a Scottish Green MSP to whom I floated my speculation agreed with you that the SNP would not vote with the Tories. But I think Nicola Sturgeon really does want to be the first Prime Minister of an independent Scotland, whatever it takes – and it’s an open secret that SNP policy and strategy is decided between her and her husband Peter Murrell, who is Chief Executive of the party, with little input from anyone else.

    *There’s a small core of right-wing Labour Brexiteer MPs – Graham Stringer, John Mann, Gisela Stuart, Kate Hoey (the “DUP member for Vauxhall”) and a few others. May can count on them, plus Frank Field who left the Parliamentary Party, and Kelvin Hopkins, suspended from it over sexual harassment.

  31. Dunc says

    Actually, I judge that between the SNP and Labour to be deeper!

    Well, SLab certainly hate the SNP with the burning intensity of a thousand suns, but it’s still much easier politically for the SNP to support Labour at the national level than for them to support the Tories. Sturgeon has repeatedly gone on record to say that they’d be prepared to support a Labour minority government (in return for certain fairly obvious concessions), but that they absolutely will not support the Tories. Nobody wants to risk ending up like the LibDems, and being seen to side with the Tories would be political suicide… Remember, lots of people still haven’t forgiven the SNP for siding with the Tories back in ’78.

  32. Curt Sampson says

    @18 leebrimmicombe-wood: Your link was a brilliant read. And really, 21 pages was just enough to sketch the outline of a very serious and broad argument; anything less would have skirted too many points, I think. (As it is, it’s still an adumbration; there’s a book looming behind that essay.)

    My favourite bit:

    [Deregulation etc] is after all, consistent with the world view which underpinned much pro Brexit thinking: that the EU is an over regulated, over-welfared, illiberal basket case, from which we need to escape and from which we must diverge. (Quite how the EU has cleverly forced UK per capita productivity to be so vastly lower than France’ and Germany’s, I never quite understood..)

    Lower than France!

  33. KG says

    Dunc@35,

    Good point. But I’m not suggesting the SNP would join a coalition, or even take on a “D”UP-type “confidence and supply” role – just help May get a Brexit deal through in return for the right to call Indyref2, arguing that it’s that deal (which as I’ve said would need to be one guaranteeing a continuing open Irish border) or a no-deal straight-off-the-cliff Brexit. That would be most plausible if the deal is a last-minute one, as I suspect it will be. Once the legislation was passed (and they’d be fools not to insist on an Indyref2 Act first, which shouldn’t be difficult administratively as that which set up Indyref1 could be dusted off and re-used), they could happily leave May and the Tory government to sink or swim. If the “D”UP andor Tory ultras are sufficiently annoyed, there might be a no-confidence vote and a new election next April. But admittedly, that’s piling speculation on speculation – the only thing certain about UK politics in the next few months is that almost nothing is certain!

  34. Dunc says

    But I’m not suggesting the SNP would join a coalition, or even take on a “D”UP-type “confidence and supply” role

    Yeah, I didn’t imagine you were… But losing a vote on the final Brexit deal would very likely bring down the government, so supporting it would almost be equivalent. Then there’s the fact that the SNP are absolutely opposed to Brexit in any form, so the sort of political calculation you suggest is difficult to play… Finally, if you want to talk ruthless political calculations, then all the polling shows that a disastrous no-deal Brexit would tip the scales of public opinion in favour of Scottish independence, and so would arguably be in the SNP’s favour.

    Anyway, I strongly suspect that most of the Tories will fall into line when it comes to the crunch, and that enough Labour MPs will abstain rather vote against. Like I said earlier, the main consideration for most is how to avoid the blame.

  35. says

    @#29, KG

    They would certainly prefer Brexit not to happen, but their overwhelming priority, their very reason for existence, is to gain Scottish independence – an aim I share, incidentally, and campaigned for in 2014. For them, anything and everything is secondary to this aim (including the features that lead you to judge them “a thousand times better than either Labour or the Tories”*). They would also much rather have a “soft Brexit” than a no-deal Brexit, as I’ll explain below.

    Yes, and? How is this relevant to the question of whether they are better at governing than either Labour or the Tories, which is what I actually said. It’s irrelevant what their motivations are for being good at what they do. They aim to convince people that they are worth following by being competent, and I wish that I could think of another party in any country in the entire world which was doing the same.

    (Incidentally, I consider that the SNP’s desire for independence for Scotland is also part of “being better than the Tories or Labour” because it shows a desire to cut away from the insanity which has been the British government for the last couple of decades. If there were a party here in the US which proposed to break the country up in a way which would isolate the worst of the far right and center-right, and pursued that goal by trying as hard as possible to be competent, they would be better than the right-of-center Democratic Party and the far-right Republican Party more or less automatically. But we have no such party.)

    @#32, KG

    Another thing in the Vicar’s screed that is completely wrong. The EU has said no such thing. When the UK government invoked Article 50, that set a 2-year clock ticking – that’s just the way the Lisbon Treaty, signed by all EU states in December 2007 and in force since 1st December 2009, is written.

    Wow, gee, I must have totally imagined the way that the Leave movement, after the decision, spent months insisting that they could trigger Article 50 but have an indefinite period of negotiations, and that the EU was the force which came back and said “no, we’re doing this as written in the treaty”. (Apparently other people shared this delusion, because it’s point five in this article in the Guardian, among other things. I recall Michael Gove being particularly vocal — and wrong — on this point.)

  36. Jado says

    Venal incompetence is definitely part of it, but never forget the calculated cynicism inherent in their conclusions – “We are powerless to stop this horrible racist misogynist bigoted government which also coincidentally happens to be doing things we like and can profit handsomely from. Woe is us!!”

    Never ascribe to incompetence that which can also be attributed to plain old greed.

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