Saturday, 16 June 2018

More on Lies and Lying Liars

We know the Conservative Party is a fundamentally dishonest outfit. Not because it's composed of unprincipled place-seekers and shysters, of whom it possesses more than its fair share, but because of what the party does. It is a collective of elites, an organised network of actors mobilising, working and moving in a certain direction. And that destination is always, always the preservation of a minority class interest as if it was the majority interest. When we start thinking about the awful politics and shenanigans of Tory lies, it's more than a matter of rotten apples. It's structural.

This in mind, Dominic Grieve's complaints about his treatment caused the crack a wry smile. This week's Brexit shenanigans, including unprecedented scenes of the government negotiating with its remain-inclined backbenchers on the floor of the Commons were bewildering even for seasoned Westminster watchers. The substance of the showdown that never was between the rebels that never were and Theresa May regarded the assertion of Parliamentary sovereignty over Brexit. Grieve and his merry band of liberal heroes wanted the government to be advised by Parliament if, by January next year, they had screwed things up and no deal was looking likely. Grieve and friends want the next steps to be suggested by MPs and Lords. Not unreasonably, you might suggest this is what 'taking back control' looks like. To head him off, the government more or less accepted his argument, even though it had previously maintained this would undermine Britain's negotiating position. Yes, blackmailing the EU with a no-deal Brexit and the catastrophe that would bring down on British people is part and parcel of their strategy. It's like expecting your Barniers and your Junckers to care more about UK citizens than the UK government.

With this week's session in the bag and the rebels defused, the government then announced they would let their "progress" return to the Commons in January, there would be a vote, but one noting the government's position. Nothing else. So. After agreeing to a deal with Grieve they did the dirty and reverted back to the default position. Small wonder the Tory remainers are spitting feathers. Their heavily trailed rebellion came to nought, excepting Ken Clarke and Woke Soubz, and they were made to look like fools.

For Tory watchers, May's deception is interesting, and it says something about how fraught things have got. Lying (and stupidity) go hand in hand as structural characteristics, but rarely do we see both surface so baldly. The government's bill returns to the Commons next week after another round of debates in the Lords and, yes, May will be depending on the rebels to line up behind her again. In other words, they pulled a fast one in the full knowledge that getting one reading through was purchased at the price of later failure. There are two things the government whips have got to be hoping for. One, linking defeat with the fear of a collapse of the government and the prospects of a general election might corral the rebels. Though anyone with half a political brain knows total implosion is unlikely because the Tories are determined to cling on come what may. Second, Tory rebels will be cancelled out by Labour rebels and/or a walk out from the SNP. Risky.

This is not the work of a master strategist, but the doings of panic and cluelessness. Tory short-termism is ramped up to its maximum, so have a bit of fun watching the fireworks as political capital and goodwill are burned up on a vote-by-vote basis. May has to get her ridiculous, decadent Brexit strategy through or, she fears, the bastards will come for her, and that is a recipe for greater lashings of mayhem and splits.

Will Grieve and the rest vote along with the government next week. You know, actually live up to their billing and, well, rebel? Now ego is in the mix, I'm not 100% in writing them off.

2 comments:

Mark Livingston said...

"Brexit dividend" = the porkiest of the Tory porkies. There are going to be some very angry Gammons out there a couple of years down the line when the penny finally drops.

Jim Denham said...

According to Mrs Deacon (on the Today programme this morning), May lied to her personally about sorting out the cannabis treatment her (Mrs Deacon's) son requires:

(From the Telegraph):

Describing her own family’s ordeal, Ms Deacon revealed how her family had been forced to spend £30,000 on treatment in the Netherland, after being warned that her son would suffer a heart attack or psychosis if he continued receiving the intravenous steroids prescribed to him in the UK.

She added that in March, Mrs May had promised to help but the case still has not been resolved.

"I met the Prime Minister on March 20 in Number 10. I appealed to her directly," Ms Deacon told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"She looked at me. She met my son and she told me that they would find a way in which our clinicians could be issued with a Schedule 1 licence to give my son the medicine that he had in Holland. I believed her.

"She also answered questions at PMQs and she said to MPs that our application would be allowed on compassionate basis and it would be dealt with speedily.

"That was three months ago. All that we have been put through is bureaucracy, hurdles - hurdles after hurdles after hurdles - changes in what they want, saying to us 'This isn't good enough but we can't tell you what we want because if we did it would be doing it for you'.

"The Prime Minister said to me she would help us provide this medication for my son. That is what needs to happen."