Monday 21 January 2019

The Cameroons Bite Back

It's not true that Theresa May's latest performance in the Commons was entirely pointless. As we saw at the end of last week, she was properly stuck with no pain-free exit in sight. But for once she has made a decision. We know what her game is, what she plans to do to get over her historic defeat. What that might be? Brace yourselves, hold on to your hats, take a seat because she's resolved ... to do nothing.

Having spent a period in her much-publicised "listening mode" with delegations of MPs, today with the centrist party-in-waiting of Chris Leslie, Heidi Allen, Soubz, Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, and Sarah Wollaston, May's revealed Plan B looks suspiciously like Plan A. Taking the sting out of her stupidly vindictive immigration policy, she has dumped settlement fees for EU residents here in the UK - which would curry favour with some - and has gone on to say the door for talks remained open. And then deploying her signature move of self-owning doublethink, May said she was sticking to her red lines and heading back to Brussels to seek changes to the Irish backstop.

Her game plan is political theatre, albeit of the most predictable, wooden, and time-wasting kind. The ERG, the DUP, the Brexiteers on the back benches and in the cabinet, she has decided the way to get her vote through is by pandering to them. Though even the dogs in the street know the EU aren't going to agree to any changes to the Irish backstop, despite Poland publicly breaking ranks today and suggesting this measure should be limited to five years. Clearly, May plans on scuttling back and forth between London and Brussels for utterly fruitless talks while the clock winds down, hoping the tyranny of those inexorable hands will wring out enough Brexit votes to get her deal through the Commons a second time. And by total coincidence, building on his pre-Christmas "capitulation", Jacob Rees-Mogg was in the Mail on Sunday yesterday suggesting if it came down to May's deal or no Brexit, he and his rancid comrades would sign on the dotted line.

A reckless move to be sure, as it seems impossible to contemplate that May could win the DUP and, basically, the non-payroll vote to back her before crashing out the EU. Though one should never underestimate the Tory capacity for a collapse into cretinism when the chips are down. Nevertheless, May is proceeding how she's always proceeded. This is less about getting a deal done, and more about preserving the Conservative Party. Going to the right May has reasoned that keeping the bulk of the MPs, what's left of the membership, and declining coalition of voters is her priority, and this is the best way of maintaining it. Your Dominic Grieves and your Soubz, they're not going to cause too much bother and if they should walk, which is doubtful, at least the bulk of Toryism is preserved to fight another day.

At least that was the lay of the land this afternoon. It seems since her Commons appearance that the beleaguered and abused Cameroon remnants are contriving to give the Prime Minister a cracking headache. Yvette Cooper is putting forward a bill in which Parliament takes over the Brexit process should May prove unable to get her deal approved by the end of February, chiefly by seeking a suspension of Article 50 until the end of the year. Coincidentally, it's backed by three lieutenants of the Dave ancien regime - Oliver Letwin, Nick Boles, and Nicky Morgan, who've been manoeuvring on this for quite some time. Labour are putting down further amendments committing Parliament to find the time to explore either a Norway-stylee or customs union Brexit, or an additional referendum. What makes this even more delicious is the normally-loyal Amber Rudd has piled in to "suggest" around 40 MPs on the payroll vote could go walkies unless May allows for a free vote on the Cooper amendment, which is dues to hit the Commons next week. Again, remembering there's not really such a thing as a Tory rebel (several Tory "insurgents" have ruled out voting for Labour's amendment), that Rudd felt compelled to speak out five minutes after returning to the cabinet is a warning to May that ignoring the Tory centrists is not without cost either and might leave her at the mercy of a Brexiteer rump should ministers walk off the job. The other problem for May is on present arithmetic, it could well pass. Even if Rudd's warnings come to nought, there are enough remain Tories thinking along these lines to defeat the government.

Extending Article 50 is not without its risks, but the responsibility for this situation should be laid at the doorway of Downing Street. From the point of view of the negotiations, May wasted crucial time calling a general election, appointing decadent, stupid and lazy politicians as Brexit ministers and the foreign secretary, signing a deal covering Northern Ireland and EU citizens before rhetorically reneging on them in public, hiding her Brexit plan under a bushel before an essay crisis meeting in Chequers over summer, sucking up to the Brexiteers while dumping on Tories with one foot in the business realities of bourgeois Britain, and now carrying on doing the same despite a historic humiliation at the hands of the Commons. May has attracted praise for "doing her best", but her best's overriding concern is the party interest, the preserving of the Tories. And if that means inflicting severe damage on the UK's social and economic fabric, then that's a price she's happy for us to pay.


Alan Story said...

Why don't people across the UK go to their town/city squares and hold up signs that say: " NO MORE MAYDAYS " ( a.k.a. Resign Teresa. NOW !)

Boffy said...

Her way forward is clear. Run down the clock assisted by Corbyn's dithering, and pro-Brexit stance. Come back to the Commons saying this parliament cannot go forward, and then call a General Election. Go into the GE having swung behind the ERG and throwing the RINOS under a bus. Stand on the platform of a planned No Deal Brexit, which polls show around 80% of Tory voters support.

The Tories will go into the election looking relatively united as a Pro-Brexit party. Labour will go into the election looking like a mess, a rabble whose leader is out of step with 90% of the membership, and 75% of its voters. He will either adopt an anti-Brexit stance making him look duplicitous on yet another issue, or he will maintain his current ludicrous pro-Brexit stance, which will mean he has no troops behind him, and large swathes of the rank and file will at best create an anti-Brexit movement to by-pass him, or they will sit on their hands, or at worst go over to the Greens, Liberals, SNP, Plaid, as will a large chunk of the 2017 voter base.

Labour will have shot its bolt once again, having destroyed itself on the altar of reactionary nationalism, egged on by the destructive virus of Stalinism, decades after its effective death, having set back the cause of socialism across the globe for a century.

George Carty said...

Because if May resigned as Conservative party leader, the party membership would pretty-much guarantee that her replacement would be a No Deal Brexiteer.

Speedy said...

You had me boffy until you got to "century".

Boffy said...

Better than people going into the streets to demand May resign, we should instead demand the TUC call a General Strike to stop Brexit, as the biggest threat to the economic and political interests of the working class as a whole in decades.

Unknown said...

Boffy - can you, without hyperbole, set out where you think reasonable Keynesian economics starts and reactionary, Stalinist nationalism stops?
It is hard to tell if you have a valid position or not because you overstate everything to such a degree.

Anonymous said...

Boffy is way way way way way way over exaggerating the importance of the EU to people. It is as if he thinks people flocked to the Labour party because Corbyn was a supporter of the EU. If that was the case they would have flocked when Ed Milliband became leader.

My prediction is that if Boffy gets his way and a Blairite centrist ousts Corbyn then the young members will flock the hell out of the Labour party whatever its new position on the EU.

My other prediction is if in the unlikely event of a general election with May at the helm the result will be another hung parliament, as standing on a no deal platform after carrying out emergency planning exercises in such an event will look a bit odd and may raise questions, at least from Corbyn and co if not the corporate media!

Incidentally on the topic of the corporate media before the last general election it was all May May May May May and then when she did worse than expected at the election it was suddenly her 2 advisors, her 2 advisors, her 2 advisors. Once the dust had settled it was back to May, May, May, May, May. The question is in the in the unlikely event of a general election with May at the helm who would be revealed as the puppet masters this time?

Anonymous said...

“we should instead demand the TUC call a General Strike to stop Brexit,”

As strategies go that is just about the dumbest I have heard. I think for 4 reasons, firstly everyone would ignore the call to arms and the TUC wouldn’t touch it with a bargepole, secondly if anyone did go out on strike it would split the working class and sow divisions, thirdly the Brexiteers would call a general strike if we did remain in the EU as a result of the TUC general strike and fourthly, it simply isn’t the biggest threat to the economic and political interests of the working class as a whole in decades, for s start the Chinese working class won’t even know it happened and the rest of the working classes in the EU may see greater integration as a result of Britian being out of the EU, so by your formulation the working classes of the EU would in fact be in a better place.

The UK working classes may be worse off but surely worrying too much about that is nationalism, at least by your definition of the term!

Boffy said...


From the way you write, and the idiotic arguments you put forward I can only assume that this is just another manifestation of the many persona of DFTM/BCFG/CAAC/Chris/Dave/Sentinel et al, as a means of attempting to garner a response.

I am tempted, therefore, to refrain from encouraging your insane rants by any response. However, as I have put finger to keyboard, let me just say that of course, I have never as you claim called for Corbyn to be replaced by a Blair-right. Quite the contrary. I've criticised the "Corbynites" for not pushing through mandatory reselection so as to get rid of the Blair-rights, and right-wing Labourites.

The only time I have put forward a suggestion for a replacement for Corbyn was several weeks ago when I suggested that Chris Williamson has a better record of standing up to the attacks of the Blair-rights than has Corbyn and McDonnell. Last time I looked Williamson was far from being a Blair-right.

Your charge being so obviously falsified by my call for the TUC to organise a GS, you then try to cover your unsubstantiated rant by an indecipherable argument against a GS.

Different handle, but the same inane claptrap that you come out with in all your other persona. Bye, bye.

Jim Denham said...

If Labour shifted to an anti-Brexit stance, explicitly advocating a referendum on any deal with a Remain option on the ballot, and, crucially, situated this within a platform of advocating united working-class struggle within Britain and across Europe against austerity and for social levelling-up, it could win existing Leave voters to its cause. This shift requires boldness, a commitment to principle, and, above all, a willingness to confront difficult political questions head on, rather than attempting change the subject as Corbyn and his immediate circle have been trying to do - with no noticeable success.

Anonymous said...

I don't think my argument was incoherent, I gave 4 very specific reasons why your idea of a general strike was the dumbest I have yet heard. You can't claim 4 specific reasons as being hardly indecipherable and hope to get away with it. I guess the true test will be to see if your idea is taken up by the TUC. If it is and is successful we can say I was wrong, if it never sees the light of day we can safely say it really was dumb.

You specifically called for Corbyn to go and furthermore you have called for work with the liberal centre, which effectively means the centrists take over and save us from brexit. This is your literal position that you seem to be denying. And you call me incoherent and hardly indecipherable!

Everything else you said is simply pointless to anything being argued.

Anonymous said...

"a willingness to confront difficult political questions head on"

As long as it doesn't involve that racist colonial settler state Israel, is that right Mr CIA/MI5 operative? Hard Brexit would be confronting difficult political questions, you can spin that idea any which way you want. Your idea of confronting difficult political questions is utterly vacuous.

George Carty said...

If Labour were to run on an anti-Brexit platform, wouldn't the obvious policy to mitigate hostility from non-metropolitan England be a land value tax, as this would help reduce the dominance of London in the UK economy?

Jim Denham said...

How to spot an conspiracy theorist obsessive: he (and it usually *is* "he" in my experience, works Israel and/or "Zionism" into every political debate.

Boffy said...


The easiest thing is simply to stop chasing after non-Labour voters who are not going to vote Labour simply because it adopts a reactionary policy of "respecting" Brexit. Instead, campaign aggressively and systematically to stop Brexit, explaining why Corbyn's progressive social-democratic agenda can only be achieved on an EU wide basis, and how it is that not Brexit that will deal with the problems of those potential labour voters who are influenced by the delusion of Brexit.


The only thing he's obsessive about is being a troll and trying to provoke flame wars by quite obvious lies and provocations. In the past he's posted in the persona of a BNP supporter, and so on. He has no commitment to any set of ideas, even conspiratorial ones. He is only interested in provoking a response. Best thing is to ignore him.

Boffy said...


I did post a reply to you a couple of days ago that seems to have not appeared. So, here goes again.

Firstly, you seem to misunderstand the point. It is not a question that Keynesianism and Stalinism are somehow on some kind of continuum. The point I made to you was that not all Keynesians are Stalinists, but all Stalinists are Keynesians. That is like not all animals are dogs, but all dogs are animals. There is not some continuum on which, for example, cats, become dogs.

Keynesianism is a theory for explaining economic crises on the basis of underconsumption. It proposes to deal with that via state borrowing and spending to raise aggregate demand. It does not start from any specific ideology of nationalism v internationalism. Keynes himself was a Liberal, and in his intervention at Bretton Woods, it was clear that he saw the need to utilise his theory of demand management, and of increased planning and regulation at an international level.

Stalinism, however, is an ideology based upon national socialism, of the utilisation of the nation state as a means of introducing that kind of planning and regulation. As seen in the various Roads to Socialism drawn up by the various Stalinist parties, that involved the introduction of various measures that start from that nation state, and its interests, such as the use of import and immigration controls.

It usually involves significant levels of state intervention by the capitalist state. In reality, because this intervention is conducted by the capitalist state, although it is described as an ideology of national socialism, its fundamental economic basis is the expansion not of any kind of socialism that Marx would have understood, but of the advancement of a programme of state capitalism.

Such a programme is necessarily limited, because of starting from the premise of the nation state. It encourages capital flight, and intervention by foreign powers. The damage done to the economy makes life harder for workers, who begin to rail against the state - as for example seen in Venezuela, and was also seen in the USSR, and other Stalinist states. The use of Keynesian methods within the restricted confines of the nation state, in a global world, leads to ,money printing in place of borrowing, as borrowing becomes ever more expensive.

As Trotsky says in The Revolution Betrayed this money printing by Stalinists in the USSR led to inflation, which he says is the "Syphilis of a planned economy". It leads to further resistance from the masses, and increasingly this resistance is met by increasingly authoritarian measures by the bureaucracy who see their own survival as vital.

Anonymous said...

Denham being the person who throws Stalinist into nearly every comment!

I actually don't think the CIA and MI5 pay Denham, I just think he spouts CIA and MI5 bullshit because he believes in it. But who knows, it isn't as if there has never been a precedent for such a thing.

It is a total conspiracy to claim those who attack Israel are anti Semitic, doesn't stop the likes of Denham indulging in it every chance they get!

Speedy said...

Denham/ Boffy - could you pass on the name of your CIA/MI5 contact? I could do with a bit of cash - the North Koreans have been late this month.

Boffy said...

You'd be better asking the troll. After all, in the 1980's it was believed that the wacky politics of the RCP were due to them actually being created by the secret services to act as agents provocateurs and disrupters in the left. Later the members of the RCP morphed into Spiked Online, with their virulently reactionary politics and support for Brexit backed by the Koch Brothers, and their ability to get regular slots on TV and radio to promote the facile nonsense they spout.

And, of course, don't get me started on the crazy politics of the WRP, and its various fronts and front newspapers and the financing they got from Gaddafi.

Anonymous said...

Speedy, one thing I can safely say about you is that you are one of the most deceitful, duplicitous, dishonest, fraudulent, two faced and disingenuous rogue it has been my displeasure to come across.

Speedy said...

I will rise to the bait - it's quite something to be called 'two-faced', 'deceitful' and 'fraudulent' from an individual who has changed his handle so many times that he has now given up and opts for 'Anonymous'.

I just say what I think - I've no agenda or ideology, I'm not politically 'educated', but I am interested in politics and its effect on people's lives (the 'sociology'). I learn a lot from Phil's posts (at least when he is not toeing the party line) and change my opinion on occasion, which may account for the impression of 'duplicity'. I realise it's rare to want to learn and even rarer to change one's view (look at Brexit!) but there we are. Try it, if you dare.

'Disingenuous' flatters me, but thanks, I like 'rogue'!