Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Swinson backing calls for a second referendum (again)

After a brief dalliance with 'hard Revoke' it looks like the Lib Dems are changing ground on on Brexit, with leader Jo Swinson reverting to calling for a second referendum on Johnson's deal.

The party has tabled an amendment to the Queen’s speech requesting that any deal brought back from Brussels by the prime minister is put to another public vote. 
The Lib Dem leader, Jo Swinson, said: “The Liberal Democrats are the strongest party of remain and have been the leading voice in the People’s Vote campaign. 
“Boris Johnson is determined to have a general election, but the best way to resolve the Brexit chaos is to have a people’s vote and give the British people the final say about their future. 
“The best deal we have is as members of the European Union and we want to give the people the chance to choose to stop Brexit.”

This seems foolish as it overlooks obvious dangers - the risk of getting No Deal on the ballot, running off against Johnson's crappy deal, and the uncertainty of Remain being an option.

Get rid of this toxically useless government, Jo, and then sort of out a referendum on your terms from a position of relative strength.

Unless you're more interested in making noise on the sidelines, of course.

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Much love to my loyal Ukrainian readership

For some reasons, my post about the mystery message from inside the Downing Street bunker seemed to catch people's attention.  Quite a lot of hits from NZ (unsurprisingly) and the USA (a bit more puzzlingly, but hi there, USAians!!) and 76 views from the Ukraine.

I've celebrated my Ukrainian readers in the past, and it is good to see they are still there, still taking a peculiar interest in Brexit, as filtered through the twisted psyche of an expat Scot living in New Zealand.

Here's another nice Ukranian girl singing a traditional folk song:

Perhaps my Ukrainian following will join me in celebrating Scotland's 61-0 demolition of Russia in Japan.  I was slightly scared going into that match, after watching the Russians ask a few early questions of Japan.

Still in with a chance!

Another day of bonkers GNUmours (again, sorry)

First, almost a score of Labour MPs seem to have sent a letter to the EU basically begging them to accept a deal - any deal - just so Britain can get the Heck on with Brexiting instead of being trapped in limbo:

They are literally asking the EU to accept a Conservative Prime Minister's hopeless deal, rather than try to gain power and sort out a better deal for Britain. They are effectively enabling and extending an even-more-dangerous-than-usual Tory government, rather than trying to bring it down.

(The even scarier thing is they aren't even the maddest Brexiteers in Labour - you won't see Kate Hoey or John Mann's name on that list. It's far too diluted for them. They like their Brexit neat, if that isn't some sort of oxymoron.)

This is why I think a non-Corbyn GNU will struggle to get across the line. That's 19 votes that probably won't be available for an alternative candidate, whereas they probably would be available for Corbyn. Basically, they cancel out the Lib Dems. Assuming those 19 - and Hoey and Mann - refused to support a non-Corbyn GNU, and all the other Labour MPs did (a huge assumption) then then it would be at 283, still needing the pro-Remain Independents to support en masse. Possible, but difficult.

Where as Corbyn, the SNP, the Lib Dems, Plaid and the Greens can probably get there, or very nearly there, as he can expect his MPs to support him.

But wait, there's more ... According to the Financial Times, in a sort of exchange student MP deal, fifty MPs, including three cabinet ministers have threatened to walk out in Johnson makes a No Deal Brexit an election commitment:

Obvious the problem with this story is ... Tories. Until they actually walk out the door, assume they will do the opposite of what they say they will do. But it does suggest the antipathy towards Johnson's 'dead in a ditch' approach is growing.

(It also suggests the 50, particularly the cabinet ministers, are pretty dimwitted, as an fule could see from years ago (well, a few weeks back) that Johnson hadn't the slightest interest in a deal. If they actually thought they were assisting other than a Titanic style Brexit, they were clearly rather hopeless - which raises the worrying possibility that their resignations might leave the Johnson administration brighter and more dangerous, by some strange alchemy.)

So, yeah, just another day of lunacy in Brexitland.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Inside the Downing Street bunker

James Forsyth at The Spectator (I know, I know) has tapped one of his contacts inside Number Ten for an insight into the Johnson administration's thinking and strategy.

It is fascinating, unsettling and quite, quite mad.  Some key points:
  • Negotiations have stalled and the Johnson administration are keen to blame the EU: "Varadkar was keen on talking before the Benn Act when he thought that the choice would be ‘new deal or no deal’. Since the Benn Act passed he has gone very cold ..."; of course, it has nothing to do with the Johnson administration wasting everyone's time, acting in bad faith and proposing a ludicrous alternative to the vexed Irish Backstop.
  • It is all the fault of the Germans Boche and the French Frogs: "There are quite a few people in Paris and Berlin who would like to discuss our offer but Merkel and Macron won’t push Barnier unless Ireland says it wants to negotiate." This is like reading the story of Brexit as re-told by Commando Comics; which, now I think about it, is a very apt description of how the Johnson administration is approaching the whole thing.
  • The Euro-meanies and the Remoaners are conspiring to Do Britain Down, but they will be shown up in time by British pluck and cold hard steel, which has always seen of their Continental guile: "Ireland and Brussels listen to all the people who lost the referendum, they don’t listen to those who won the referendum and they don’t understand the electoral dynamics here."
  • The Johnson administration really is intent on going full steam ahead into the iceberg, because they are more scared of Nigel Farage than they are of ruining the country: "To marginalise the Brexit Party, we will have to fight the election on the basis of ‘no more delays, get Brexit done immediately’."; never mind the arguments about 17.2 million voters, this is about one man. Oddly, their plan for stopping him is to do exactly what he wants, which seems a bit silly, but they aren't interested in what is better for Britain here - it is simple psychopathic careerism. Cock up, blame everyone else and hope that people will fall for it so you don't lose your job.
  • The Johnson administration intends to Subvert the 'Benn Bill' to prevent delaying Brexit: "Our legal advice is clear that we can do all sorts of things to scupper delay which for obvious reasons we aren’t going into details about."; one wonders if this 'legal advice' springs from the same mind that told them proroguing parliament for five weeks was legal, and that they could win court cases without presenting sworn affidavits?
  • They will use bribes and threats to try to get the EU to vote against offering a further extension: "We will make clear privately and publicly that countries which oppose delay will go the front of the queue for future cooperation — cooperation on things both within and outside EU competences. Those who support delay will go to the bottom of the queue."; so,having failed to win any intellectual arguments, they will resort to bullying - "within and outside EU competences" is particularly ominous.
  • The EU offering something that has been requested by the British PM acting on the instructions of the British parliament is "hostile interference in domestic politics, and over half of the public will agree with us"; presumably they will apply the same 'logic' to any attempt to form treaties or agreements in the future. And the cynical statement that the public will agree with them reveals they are intent on plunging even further down the Faragist populist bullshit rabbit hole. All, you know, to stop Farage.
  • They actually still think this is all about them: "We will also make clear that this government will not negotiate further so any delay would be totally pointless. They think now that if there is another delay we will keep coming back with new proposals. This won’t happen." Hate to break it to you, guys and girls, but people are now hoping that it won't be "we" coming back with new proposals.
  • They will take their toys and go home: "Any delay will in effect be negotiated between you, Parliament, and the courts — we will wash our hands of it, we won’t engage in further talks, we obviously won’t given any undertakings about cooperative behaviour, everything to do with ‘duty of sincere cooperation’ will be in the toilet, we will focus on winning the election on a manifesto of immediately revoking the entire EU legal order without further talks, and then we will leave." Yes, gentle reader, they actually think the courts and parliament are somehow irrelevant obstacles in all this, not the things that give them legitimacy. Heads up! If the courts say your are doing illegal stuff, it means lack legitimacy; if parliament refuses to back you, you lack legitimacy. You will not have the authority to put anything in the toilet. And for all their eager talk of elections, there is one simple way to get one - request an extension so an election can be held without the country falling out of the EU by default. But the Fear of Farage is overwhelming, and they can not bring themselves to do that Very Obvious Thing.
  • They are deluded: "Those who pushed the Benn Act intended to sabotage a deal and they’ve probably succeeded." No, your bad faith negotiations, posturing and hopeless alternative' to the Irish Backstop killed a deal. Which you probably knew all along it would. The ferocity of the pro-No Deal language in this whole message reveals the lie in this weak attempt to pass the blame.
It is worth keeping in mind this might be what the 'strategic geniuses' WANT us to think they are planning.

But, nah.  I'm going with this actually being what they are planning - for want of a better word.

Are GNUs extinct?

Another round of tactical talks about forming a Government of National Unity have come to nothing with the Liberal Democrats still refusing countenance putting Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street:
Opposition talks on Monday made little headway over when to try and vote down Boris Johnson's government and who might succeed him as prime minister.

Labour said the Lib Dems were being "irresponsible" in refusing to back a temporary Jeremy Corbyn-led government.

But Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson said he did not have wide enough support.

The SNP called on the other two parties to "grow up" and warned that time was running out to stop the UK leaving the EU on 31 October.
The Lib Dems and the pro-Remain Independents and TIG4C (henceforth, "the Lib Dems") are being idiots over this. It is senseless. There is no logical reason not to throw their weight behind a Corbyn candidacy.

If Corbyn GENUINELY does not have the number then it could be proven in Parliament by simply having a VOC. But they know that - with their backing - he would win that (Tories + DUP = 298) and they don't want that. So they are making fantastical claims about some mythical 'number' he needs and can not achieve and insist that he 'step aside' for some equally mythical unity candidate that they can not even identify, far less demonstrate that this unicorn of a candidate has the 'numbers.'

They say they don't want Brexit, but talk is cheap. Actions speak louder. The Lib Dems are exaggerating their anti-Brexit credentials as a unique selling point but fundamentally don't seems to actually intend to live up to their rhetoric.

They've nicely put themselves into a position where they are either going to have enable No Deal Brexit, or renege on their loud talk about being unable to support Corbyn under any circumstances, or have to sit sullenly on the sidelines while Labour actually go about trying to do the thing the Lib Dems have been saying they really, really want to do.

Any of those scenarios leaves them looking like posturing clowns playing politics and not even doing that well; diminished, irrelevant, mealy-mouthed and ineffective.

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Guardian: Poll shows DISASTER for Corbyn and the End of Times

The Guardian - ever eager to forewarn of doom and disaster on the left - are leading with a new poll from Opinium, which puts the Conservatives 15% clear of Labour.
Con 38% +2
Lab 23% -1
Lib Dem 15% -5
Brexit 12% +1
Green 4% +2
This isn't good news, and it would be very bad news if it wasn't Opinium; they consistently give the Conservatives large leads; the largest, indeed.  Looking at recent polling (i.e. September to present moment), here's how the different companies compare:

Large Tory leads (6% or over in majority of included polls):
  • You Gov (leads range from 7% to 14%, 7 polls included)
  • Opinium (Leads range from 10% to 15%, 5 polls)
  • Kantar (Leads of 14%, 1 poll)
  • Ipsos Mori (Lead of 9%, 1 poll)
Small Tory Leads (5% or less in majority of included polls):
  • Panelbase (Lead of 3%, 1 poll)
  • ComRes (Leads range from TIE to 4%, 5 polls)
  • Survation (Leads range from 3% to 5%, 2 polls)
  • Deltapoll (Lead of 3%, 1 poll; BUT a poll released 31/8 gave a Conservative lead of 11%!; make of that what you will.)
(BMG are also included in Britain Elects' table but don't seem to have released a September poll.)

So, from that, what can we conclude?  Nothing.  The polls are all over the place but at least individual pollsters seem to be finding fairly consistent results.  Someone is definitely wrong, and it is just about possible everyone is.

Saturday, 5 October 2019

Clever legal fellow on Scottish challenge to Brexit

I make no claims to having much legal knowledge,  so I defer to those trained in this area.

I am very much enjoying this twitter stream from m'learned friend in Edinburgh, deciphering the legal arguments around the Scottish court challenge to Boris Johnson, based on the charmingly obscure principle of Nobile Officium.

My favourite bit this far:


I also enjoy the occasional images of Edinburgh and references to drunken escapades on the Cowgate, which remind me of my own mispent youth in that most wonderful of cities.

Swinson backing calls for a second referendum (again)

After a brief dalliance with 'hard Revoke' it looks like the Lib Dems are changing ground on on Brexit, with leader Jo Swinson rever...