Politics as usual: Blue on Red
It’s amazing, nay: strange and odd, but it’s highly significant how the election campaigns by the two Big Spenders, Tory and Labour, have already settled into the usual, common grooves of ‘politics as usual’. Arguments for Brexit or Remain have become irrelevant now that they’ve slaughtered TBP. It’s as if the establishment parties’ candidates are wearing one of these buttons people stick in their lapels: everybody can see that you like, for example, cats or dogs or flowers, so you don’t need to talk about it any longer.
People thus don’t need to ask candidates about their policies in regard to EU Directives will be: you’re either for them or you’re for them. That’s not a typo: ‘getting Brexit done’ means that we’re stuck with Johnson’s BRINO and have to accept them while voting Corbyn means we’ll be stuck in the EU anyway and have to accept their directives. As for the Libdems, they’ve now got the permission from the Electoral Commission to add ‘to stop Brexit’ on the ballots (link).
There is one other development in our political landscape which is deeply worrying. The campaigns are now geared to one person, the leader, emphasising the shift to a more presidential system. People are asked to vote for Johnson or Corbyn while their PPCs have become just parliamentary foot soldiers who will do as they’re told. The MSM are happy to promote this state of affairs as it is easier for them to have just one ‘leader’ to talk to, trying to denigrate him or promote him.
Yesterday’s BBC Breakfast ‘talk’ with Johnson (here and here) was a case in point. The BBC was dropping all pretenses of impartiality to get a ‘gotcha’ moment. Substitute ‘Corbyn’ for Johnson and ask yourselves if he’d have been given the same treatment.
The advantage of having just a blue-on-red contest also means that every other party can be disregarded. There is no Yellow, and after the turmoil of TBP’s candidates standing there’s now no need for Turquoise either. In other words, politics not only are not changing, they’ve gone back to the old, pre-EU Referendum days where we voters are just so many numbers in the calculations of the strategists in the two Big Party headquarters. They’re now plotting on how best to put us back into our boxes.
Are you feeling ‘left behind’? We’ll give you this shiny bauble of reinstating old, closed railway lines. You can’t afford to binge-watch Netflix? We’ll give everyone free broadband! Never mind that this idea has been ridiculed and indeed torn to shreds by economists (here, paywalled here). You want more ‘green’ stuff? We’ll plant 30 million trees per year (here). Or what about this: we’ll give you free child care:
“The party is considering plans to give parents of younger children 15 hours of free childcare a week in one of its biggest election giveaways at an estimated cost of £700 million. Mr Johnson said yesterday that affordable childcare was the “holy grail” and the manifesto would look at the “ages at which it should be funded”. (link, paywalled)
Funding? Let’s not talk about money, that’s so rude, and anyway Labour isn’t talking about money either, especially not when promising their free Labour Broadband, expropriating BT, SKY and Virgin in the process. One wonders if McDonnell was given advice and support by some BBC executive directors when working out this proposal …!
There is however one main policy which was driven by the EU for years and which influenced the result of the EU Referendum: “Free Movement”, or in common parlance: immigration. This issue may well turn out to be the straw breaking Labour’s back:
“Whilst Mr Corbyn has repeatedly refused to say whether Labour will pursue an open border policy with the European Union, multiple sources have told this newspaper that the proposal will be put to the meeting [of formulating their manifesto]. […] On Friday evening a shadow cabinet source claimed that accepting freedom of movement with the EU was the only way to guarantee close alignment with the single market after Brexit. They told The Telegraph: “If we maintain a close relationship with the single market then we are going to have to maintain freedom of movement. That’s a given.” (paywalled link)
Interestingly, the Tories only make non-committal noises on immigration, knowing full well that there’s nothing they can do about it as long as we’re ‘In’:
“Towards the end of the week, the topic of immigration performed its traditional role in British general elections: making everyone feel very uncomfortable. Conservative politicians sounded keen not to be seen as wishing to pull up the drawbridge to immigrants after we’ve left the EU, while Labour positively refused to say whether it believed freedom of movement was a good or a bad thing” (paywalled link).
The ongoing campaign will show if this issue will turn into a replay of the EU Referendum campaign, where accusations of racism proliferated. The seeds are already being sown, regardless of the now customary Corbyn dithering:
“[Corbyn] will back away from plans to extend free movement to non-EU countries and let foreign nationals vote in all UK elections, it has been claimed. […] Activists are now warning that not giving immigrants the right to vote would fuel ‘xenophobia, scaremongering and hate crime’, and representatives of foreign nationals living in Britain said backing down would amount to ‘pandering to the negative portrayal of immigrants’. (link)
Yes, giving immigrants the right to vote is bound to be a vote winner in Labour heartlands – for TBP! Meanwhile, political journalists are pointing to a coming Labour defeat while the Tories officially only talk about gaining 10 more seats than Ms May did (paywalled link). The former director of YouGov talks of a Labour ‘landslide defeat’ (here), declaring that this election is for the Tories to lose while Sherelle Jacobs writes in the DT:
“Historic political collapses don’t so much clang with confusion as ring with lucidity. Although they almost don’t dare to, Tory candidates can sense it on the doorstep. One standing in a Midlands market town told me: “People know they have been cheated. Lifelong Labourites are reciting ‘Let’s Get Brexit Done’, before we’ve even had a chance to bring it up.” The Opposition’s counter-strategy is slapstick Momentum. Instead of putting Brexiteers up in marginals, it is parachuting in Corbynista loyalists.” (paywalled link)
These observations about a possible Labour defeat have now made it into the MSM, thus we can assume they are based on private, secret polls. So why did the Tories make such song-and-dance over having to compete with TBP candidates? I suggest it’s because the Tories know full well the disaster that is Johnson’s WAIB and are frit of having to answer voters about that.
Silence the one opposition, to this deal, TBP, and you’ve got a free run. Get some tame opinion makers on your side, such as Charles Moore in the DT, to argue without evidence that:
“The Brexit Party, as its name suggests, wishes to achieve Brexit. If it does well in this general election, it will make Brexit less likely, which is not clever.” (paywalled link)
Or even better, get the formidable Martin Howe QC to state that Johnson will end the transition period if only he can get a parliamentary majority (here). I never thought I’d have to accuse him of using a strawman argument, saying that an extension cannot be forced on the UK ‘against our will’ by the ECJ. No, it’s not the ECJ who’d do this, it’s M Barnier …! Meanwhile though, TBP and their MEPs can be attacked for pointing out inconvenient truths.
So where do these latest election shenanigans and assumptions leave us Leavers who have been deprived of an alternative vote? I suggest they are giving more power to our unofficial campaign to ‘spoil’ our ballots while supporting Leave candidates where we can. If Labour is supposed to lose bigly, it can’t matter to the Tories if they lose votes to ‘None of the above’.
I suggest that you also contact your local returning officer and inquire if and how you can become a vote count observer so you can make sure that the ‘None’ votes are properly registered.
Above all – wherever you can, make this election into the Brexit election, even as the establishment parties are trying to dazzle us with their shiny objects on which they’ll spend our money.