Monday, 17 June 2019

Peterborough shone a light on the dire state of Labour. The Tories’ beauty contest is the same shade of awful

Image result for peterborough imagesThe week before last, numerous MPs went to campaign for a racist sympathiser. I am sure most thought they were doing the right thing, dutifully answering the campaign call, as politicians do. Quite possibly some didn’t even know the story, or did not dare pull out at the last minute. Either way, they supported Lisa Forbes, surely one of the worst candidates we could have ever chosen for a by-election.

Thanks to the scrutiny a by-election suffers, all parties generally try hard to get the right candidate, one who will not suddenly find themselves at the centre of a media storm.

This time Labour failed dismally, presumably because those leading the party and its machine – not, you understand, the regular staffers, decent folk who have to live with the constant shame and embarrassment about their superiors – couldn’t care less about a bit of anti-Semitic dabbling.

Rather, they see it as a badge of honour: of being “sound” on Palestine, unafraid to speak truth to power (“power”, in this case, meaning simply “Jews”).

On the day, Labour showed it still had a tight machine, which the Brexit Party did not, and beat them by a whisker. But it still won on a simple principle, which seems to be a novel, new party strategy: winning by having their vote decimated a little less than the Tories.

In other words, although both main parties’ votes were slashed, the votes Labour lost to the Greens and Lib Dems outweighed that which the Tories lost to the Brexit party and UKIP.

Corbyn and his coterie are still, like Vladimir and Estragon waiting for a Godotwho never arrives, yearning for a general election. It is the only way they believe they might come out of the whole mess and retain the opportunity to blame everything on the Tories. Such an election will not come any time soon, because it is not in the Tories’ interests to allow one, certainly while Brexit is not delivered (which, of course, it may never be).

Further, it is really anyone’s guess who would win anyway, because you cannot extrapolate the result from either the Euros or Peterborough, unrepresentative polls both. And the habitual model of translating vote-shares into seats in a two-party system has suddenly been turned on its head with a five- or six-party system. Meaningful predictions are on temporary hiatus in this looking-glass world.

Meanwhile, the leading lights of the Tory party are in the process of competing with each other as to how many unicorns they can promise to the members and MPs in their stump campaigns. Those who want to deliver a Brexit deal by the impossibly short deadline of Hallowe’en are fantasists; but they can do no other, their party obsessed by a macho race to favour the Brexitier-than-thou.

Among the hopefuls, only brave Rory Stewart has had the guts to say the emperor has no clothes. Although he polled better than expected in the first round of MP voting – these are secret ballots and there are still some Tories who espouse the “love that dare not speak its name” of supporting membership of the EU, albeit privately – he obviously cannot win.

But if those looking to get a workable deal are fantasists, those who go a step further and seriously advocate a No Deal are dangerous fools. No serious country has ever opted deliberately to live by punitive, WTO trade rules; rules designed to deter countries from going it alone. It is an extraordinary failing for an adult politician not to recognise that they were never intended to be actually used in anger. They are designed to hurt.

Neither has any serious country ever purposely advocated a strategy, such as ours over the Irish border, which so risks dismembering it into its constituent parts, not to mention rekindling sectarian tensions and violence.

Thus Brexit Britain rushes hurtling towards the autumn deadline: rudderless, leaderless, hopeless. Waiting for some political lightweight, one probably called Boris Johnson, to become Prime Minister, who will be committed to the hardest and most damaging of Brexits. The Leader of the Opposition supporting them while pretending not to, his party flailing in a mire of racism.

And our one hope on the horizon? The “kindness of strangers”: an EU which might look kindly on a request from Britain’s weak and slightly deranged Blanche, coyly requesting a further delay.

What a time to be alive.


This post first published at Labour Uncut

1 comment:


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