Wednesday 7 August 2019

Nothing Compares 2 GNU

A short while ago we were discussing the imploding thought processes of our centrist friends, and just today a great new fancy has emerged, born fully formed from their Jupiterean heads. The grand wheeze? Well, why not go one better than the 'Remain Alliance' that helped the Liberal Democrats over the line in the Brecon by-election and go for a Government of National Unity (or the funny haha acronym, GNU). No one liberal hero is pushing it. The proposal is entirely crowd sourced and has welled up from the Follow Back Pro Europe Twitter crowd like a tumescent zit.

The idea goes something like this. Following the government's hard ball brinkmanship over Brexit, the opportunities for derailing no deal are slim to negligible, depending on who you decide to ask. With a one week window between recess and the start of party conference season, opportunities for putting motions down etc. are fraught with risk. The only sure fire way of thwarting Johnson's foolhardy scheme then is to, well, throw him out of office. You see, having spotted that the Prime Minister's working majority is one a national government could come together comprised of Labour, the LibDems, sundry indies, Caroline Lucas, the SNP and Plaid Cymru, and disgruntled Tories. The back-of-a-burgundy-passport calculations stack up, so why not? Yes, Jeremy Corbyn is an obstacle but getting shot of him won't be a problem, especially as plenty of centrist Labour MPs could fill the Prime Minister's role. Johnson is then no confidenced, the coalition form a government, and they oversee a second referendum while extending/revoking Article 50 (only a proper referendum you understand, no lies nor Russians allowed this time). Once the will of the people is delivered we have a general election and live happily ever after because politics returns to normal.

Yes, more barking than Battersea Dogs' Home and as cringe as the fantasy cabinets your Rafael Behrs and Polly Townbees proffer at early evening drinks. For one, how do they affect Jeremy Corbyn's removal? The latest, low-intensity efforts can't pretend stellar success, so how does a bunch of yellow diamond Verhofstadt stans who put the clueless into, well, clueless think our man JCorbz can be eased out to pasture where Labour MPs have previously failed? Unfortunately, they don't say - though if they have any special insight I'm sure the Labour right are happy to listen.

And we have the stupid empiricism, oh yes. This putative GNU has an on-paper majority, and that is where it would stay. Why do they suppose all Labour MPs and their wayward independent progeny would go along with the scheme? We had goodness knows how many indicative votes and votes against Theresa May's Brexit deal. In the last Parliamentary session, Labour whipped against no deal no less than three times, and still there were Labour people prepared to defy party discipline. And our liberal chums might remember some more MPs recently indicating that they would vote for any Tory deal, and some concede no deal if it means Brexit happens. In short, their GNU cannot command a majority.

Then there are the wider politics. If you are a leave voter of any political persuasion, how would a backroom deal cooked up by MPs look to them? And then there are the ramifications of replacing the government without a general election. The transition from one Prime Minister to another PM from the same party is something most people can live with. There was hardly a popular clamour for a general election in 2017, and as much as we might like one to happen yesterday there isn't much of a desire out there in real land for one now either. But turfing one government out and replacing it with another of a different complexion entirely, that certainly brings up big legitimation issues - even if its remit is limited to the delivering a second referendum (which isn't in the bag by the way, remain fans). Shall we talk about the political situation after a GNU? Who do you think would benefit? Certainly not the parties to the stitch up. Johnson's strategy is already about trying to monopolise the leave vote and hoping this would be enough to win versus a divided opposition. A temporary GNU alliance would strap rocket boosters under the Tories: there is no political credit for thwarting Brexit in so brazen a manner, and it would be Labour- as the biggest party - that would pay the heaviest price.

A good job then this is but a fever dream, a spasm of delusional palpitations as fast-fading liberalism continues its downward spiral. If our centrist friends are serious about stopping no deal, then they might reflect on whether their silly beggar's posturing - being for a remain alliance the one minute, but ruling out SNP participation and having nothing to do with Labour unless Corbyn goes the next - isn't the best way of building bridges. Instead, I'd recommend putting the sauce away and considering the real option open after recess: Labour will table a no confidence motion in the government, and its up to the other parties to back it. If it passes, we're in election territory and everything is up for grabs. The question is are the LibDems and their online cheerleaders going to grasp the real opportunity, or does talking a good fight matter more?


Anonymous said...

"The back-of-a-burgundy-passport calculations stack up, so why not?"

When I've managed to stop laughing about GNU, my-back-of-envelope calculation says they'd still need about 100 Tories even if two-thirds of the Labour party split plus the 'remain alliance' to get anywhere near a majority. And that's after they've persuaded Corbyn to propose a no-confidence motion - only to want him to sod off after it's won.

Then there's the 'fantasy PM' nominations that range from the usual suspects like Starmer, Cooper, Clarke (rather than John Cooper Clarke?) right through to Lord Adonis thinking John Major could parachuted in via a by-election (which of course would targeted by the 'remain alliance' anyway). There's probably a pundit who is one column/tweet away from asking for Blair to come back.

Boffy said...

"The proposal is entirely crowd sourced and has welled up from the Follow Back Pro Europe Twitter crowd like a tumescent zit."

Actually, the idea of a Government of National Unity was being touted as much as two years ago by the Weekly Worker, except they saw it potentially being promoted by Corbyn himself. Indeed, the willingness of Corbyn to enter into the cross-class negotiations with the Tories to try to salvage May's deal in some form, did give some credence to that possibility, especially given the nature of the Popular Front strategy of the Stalinists of the Morning Star, who seem to direct his thinking.

Of course, the reality was that in the end that kind of Popular Front was not possible with May, and so the Morning Star has made the further jump to establish its own cross class alliance with the Brexit Party, in the red-Brown coalition, whilst not openly proclaiming it for fear of embarrassing their long time columnist Corbyn.

No wonder, McDonnell seems to have taken on the role of Labour Leader, and spokesman for the party.

Boffy said...

"For one, how do they affect Jeremy Corbyn's removal?"

They don't need to remove Corbyn! The Prime Minister is ultimately elected by parliament - the mistake of all those who think that the Prime Minister is like a President elected in a General Election. Parliament can elect whoever it chooses as Prime Minister provided it can be shown that they command such a majority in parliament, so if a majority of MP's say they will back for example, Caroline Lucas, or John McDonnell to that position, they are free to do so, and then the Queen simply invites that person to form a government.

Given that its envisaged that such a government would be only a nightwatchmen, whose purpose would be preferably to Revoke Article 50, or at least to prevent a crash out on October 31st, that can be accomplished fairly swiftly. It doesn't even require actual defections of Tory and Labour MP's to such the Liberals or some National Government party, it only requires they vote for this candidate as Prime Minister, and vote for revocation or an extension.

Under the Fixed Term parliaments Act, they can do that immediately following any successful no confidence vote. If it looks like Johnson intends to defy such a vote it seems to me the most likely option. As soon as Revoke or an extension is voted through, the Prime Minister would then put a vote for the dissolution of parliament, and a General Election.

Unfortunately, Labour seems wholly unprepared for such an election. I would expect that in such an election, we would, indeed, see many of the existing Blair-rights re-elected, because Corbyn has not weeded them out via mandatory reselection over the last three years. As with the Euro elections, and 2017 GE, many will just get a free pass rather than face reselection.

But, that means that after that election, Corbyn would again be held hostage by the PLP.

Boffy said...

"And then there are the ramifications of replacing the government without a general election."

A further misunderstanding of the British Constitution. General Elections do not elect governments, they elect parliaments, by the election of individual MP's in each constituency. The fact that because we have a party system, those MP's belong to given political parties, who thereby command a majority for their chosen Leaders to be Prime Minister is besides the point, and easily seen as such, when any given party loses a majority in parliament, which the Tories may do in the near future.

For example, in 1940, when Churchill repalced Chamberlain, he did so, not as Leader of the Tories,and not on the basis of majority Tory support. In fact, the Tories never trusted Churchill, because of his political record, and because of his previous defection to the Liberals. So, the Tories never made Churchill into their party Leader, a relevant point in relation to your previous question about getting rid of Corbyn as leader.

Churchill was made Prime Minister not as Tory Leader, not on the basis of the Tories having a majority in parliament to support him, but on the basis of support for him from Labour!

Boffy said...

"Certainly not the parties to the stitch up."

Why not? Unfortunately Phil. Most of your writing nowadays seems to be that of a Brexiteer, who rather like the ranting of the Morning Star is driven by anger that the Brexit project is unravelling. You approach everything from the perspective that the most important thing is to push through Brexit at all cost. Even your original false arguments that Brexit had to be implemented because of some vague sense of commitment to bourgeois democratic principles has disappeared.

If as seems pretty certain from all of the opinion surveys, and from the evidence of actual elections, there is now a clear majority opposing Brexit in the country, why do you think that those parties that organise to prevent Brexit would be punished. That is to assume that the only people who matter, the only people likely to take umbrage are Leavers.

But, the opposite is the case, and those likely to suffer from any backlash are those that insist on pushing through a reactionary Brexit agenda, in the face of a now clear majority of the population being opposed to it.

Boffy said...

"If it passes, we're in election territory and everything is up for grabs. The question is are the LibDems and their online cheerleaders going to grasp the real opportunity, or does talking a good fight matter more?"

But, that opens further questions. Firstly, Cummings of contempt of parliament fame, has already proposed that Johnson simply call any such election for after October 31st, so that it would be a pointless exercise in relation to Brexit. The truth is, though, I doubt Johnson would actually do that, ebcause he's undoubtedly praying to whichever God he thinks might help him that parliament will actually block a No Deal Brexit, which he knows would be catastrophic and spell the end of him, the Tories and anyone within a hundred miles of being associated with Brexit for the foreseeable future.

But, let's assume the he really is an idiot, and prepared to allow Brexit to happen, whilst a GE campaign was underway. Then we really would be in the catastrophe situation, and almost certainly an emergency request to be let back into the EU on whatever terms they'd give us.

Parliament is unlikely to allow that situation to arise, which is why immediately following a NCV they will instead go for new PM option.

Labour has no control over when a GE would be called, so taking that decision out of Johnson's hands is vital.

But, whenever a GE is held, the Tories undoubted strategy is to push for a core vote strategy to get a majority based on a managed no deal, and Canada FTA arrangement. They expect that a divided opposition will enable to achieve such a majority, and if the opposition remains divided they are probably right.

So, the only rational approach for Labour is to prevent a divided opposition. The principled basis for that is to come out as the most militant opponents of Brexit, and so to rally the Remain vote around at, whilst also securing the minority of Labour voters that back Leave, by promoting a radical, social-democratic agenda of opposition to austerity, and programme of regeneration and investment, preferably linked up across the EU as the only possible basis for such a programme.

But, time is running out for that, and its debatable whether Corbyn could ever now convince anyone that he is sincere in his conversion, which is no doubt why McDonnell has occupied centre stage.

Joe Ramsay said...

After the early summer, wasps have fulfilled their biological purpose, and spend the months until September/October getting intoxicated and generally making a nuisance of themselves buzzing around your pint in the beer garden.

For "wasps" read "political journalists and third tier MPs". For "buzzing around your pint" read "GNU"

One of the main problems with GNU is how on earth would these narcissists actually settle on a figurehead? It'd be like poking around the distant cousins of the king for a good (protestant) Stuart who isn't a drunk or syphilitic.

I'd give John Cooper Clarke a go over BoJo (though he says some reactionary nonsense sometimes).

JN said...

It's ironic that after all these years of dismissing the left as "loony" and the right as "swivel-eyed", the 'centrists' seem to have to completely lost their minds. Rather than adapt to a changed situation, they clutch at any passing straw that offers them the illusory hope of returning to how things were 5, 10, 20... years ago. That's their response to Scottish independence, to 'Corbynism', and to Brexit. In all 3 cases they seem to think that some cunning manouvre will allow them to regain control and just ignore the underlying issues.