Wednesday 2 October 2019

Dear Jo Swinson

Dear Jo,

Examining your recent pronouncements on what might happen after Boris Johnson is no-confidenced, you again reiterate your opposition to Jeremy Corbyn getting made an interim Prime Minister to see through an election or a second referendum. You say the LibDems can only support an alternative "compromise" candidate because the Labour leader "does not have the numbers". Your new friend Chuka Umunna has proven enthusiastic in pushing this line too.

You're probably not familiar with the work of Louis Althusser, the celebrated Marxist philosopher who made his reputation through a series of productive but controversial close readings of Marx's corpus. So what?, you might say. What's he got to do with the price of Liberal Democrat principles? In the course of his work, he borrowed the method of the symptomatic reading from Sigmund Freud. This entails a close reading of a piece of work paying attention to not just what is said, but what is unsaid. The silences of a text can, therefore, be as significant as the arguments articulated. And occasionally, more meaningful. How this applies to you and your hard remain posturing is the avoidance of any political arguments justifying your refusal to back a caretaker Corbyn premiership. Time and again, all we hear are the bland statement that it's all about the numbers.

Poppycock. Your silences are screaming like a klaxon. Because "the numbers" is the line to take, why this studied sticking to what is a technical argument? Might I suggest your positioning is motivated by Corbynphobia? That is to say you won't countenance supporting the Labour leader because an experience of office, however brief, removes the taboo of his being in government. You know, as well as anyone else, that the sky won't fall in. What we would see instead is Corbyn assume the mantle and the props for avoiding a no deal Brexit. Not the deranged extremist you want to paint him as, but as a statesman. And one the Rubicon is crossed, the chances of Labour winning the next election under his leadership go up.

You have other tactical considerations in play too. Labour's position, as you know, remains forcing a general election before we have a second referendum. That doesn't suit you, above all because of the frighteners the SNP are putting on you in your own Dunbartonshire seat. And while the LibDems do look set to gain seats, particularly in the South West, your new friends - Sarah, Chuka, Sam, Phillip, Luciana, Angela - are pretty certain to get dumped out of the Commons. And that would be a terrible shame. Indeed, one might suggest among the conditions and reassurances you gave these clowns, particularly the Labour turncoats, was there are no circumstances at all you would back a Corbyn government. Even if it meant risking and causing a no deal Brexit.

You know none of these arguments would fly in public because they expose you for the slimy, self-interested opportunist you are. Party before country is a term you occasionally like to bandy around to criticise the Tories and Labour, but in your short tenure as leader this has proven to be your raison d'etre. You even know how facile the numbers argument is. When "ex"-Tories like Guto Bebb and Ken Clarke are willing to accept a limited Corbyn government, this leaves you looking awkward. The truth of the matter is were you to say the LibDems should go where Bebb and Clarke lead, the rest of the former Tories and the flotsam and jetsam of independents are likely to "provide the numbers" too. And your entire strategy as the most remainy of remain parties unravels.

That you refuse to and at this hour are happy to play Russian roulette with the livelihoods of millions of other people shows you're unfit to organise a tea party, let alone lead a political party. Make no bones about it. Should you persist in this line, it won't be Jeremy Corbyn who gets the blame for not preventing a no deal Brexit. It will be you.

Yours sincerely,


Image Credit


Speedy said...


Anonymous said...

Surprise, surprise... the Lib Dems have a policital agenda that goes beyond opposition to Brexit.

What about Labour? Could they possibly have a political motive for insisting that no-one but Corbyn can be countenanced as caretaker PM? Maybe that it increases his chances at a subsequent General Election, as the article suggests? But no, it's only the Lib Dems who must be condemned for their unwillingness to accept the preferences of a competing party.

Come on - at least Swinson does not insist on herself as the only candidate and would accept a variety of figures includeing ones from outside her party. Labour will only accept one person. Which party is showing the greatest unwillingness to compromise for the sake of stopping a no-deal Brexit?

Unknown said...

Yes,JO Swinson needs to step up,because lib dems did so well in the EU Elections and they she took over,she thinks she is above all those voters.but she needs to be reminded that the people who voted for them only did so because of their remain stance,they would of been voters that would of propberly voted for other if she doesn't back Corbyn as an interim pm,then when it comes to a UK General Election,she and her party will go down like a lead balloon.and will rightly deserve too.

Ullrich said...

Sorry to read,
but you Brits look really self-centered.
Perhaps take a look at Italy where the former government -of the right wing Lega and the "new left" M5S (´Five Stars) - perfectly managed to agree to have a neutral professor of Law, Conte, serve as prime minister.
Now with a new coalition between the "old left" Social Democrats and the M5S party he is prime minister again.
There is nothing unbecoming or illegitimate to have a neutral person serve as prime minister.
It looks as if the mindset of many British remains hopelessly locked in binary views. Which explains this utter and infantile inability to forge coalitions and to "strike" compromises to which every partner contributes. No, there is nothing wrong with Swinson's suggestion, that a more centrist person as care-taker prime minister could draw wider support.
Its time to look across the channel for inspiration as to politics in a multipolar system.
Ullrich (from Germany)

Boffy said...

Hard facts. The Liberals have 18 MP's, the Chukas are down to a handful, the rebel Tories to 21, SNP who have said they would back Corbyn 30 odd, Plaid , Green 1. By comparison Labour 246.

So, if the numbers are not there for Corbyn as leader of the LP, with 246 MP's, there certainly not the numbers for someone from any of the other parties, if Labour votes against them. And, if Swinson and these other MP's will not back Corbyn as Leader of the LP, with 246 seats, and who constitutionally has the right to be nominated if the government falls, why on Earth WOULD Labour back someone from any of these other parties or rebel groups?

The idea that Swinson can dictate to Labour who its leader should be, such as Harman, Beckett etc. its totally ludicrous, fanciful, arrogant and simply reflects that she and the Liberals are as sectarian and self-serving as they have always been.

It is in Labour's interest to call a No Confidence vote, and Corbyn was wrong to listen to the Blair-rights, Liberals and others who advised to do so would be a trap. That argument was premised on the ridiculous idea that Johnson's priority is to push through a No Deal Brexit. It isn't.

Everyone, including the Tories knows that a No Deal Brexit will be a disaster. What kind of an idiot would pull a stunt to postpone the GE to after a No Deal Brexit that will be catastrophic, and which will thereby ensure that the government that implemented it got decimated in that subsequent election??? Certainly not someone with the nous of Johnson or Cummings.

Johnson actually needed an election prior to 31st October, so that he could continue to hold out the prospect of No Deal, to take votes from Farage. Labour and the Liberals opposed it, not because they believed he would punt the election to beyond 31st October, but because they know that on current standing they will lose big.

Labour should go with the SNP in calling the NCV, and dare the Liberals and others not to support it. They should propose Corbyn as PM and dare them not to support him. The reality now is this. If under such conditions the Liberals et al refused to back Corbyn as PM, the rabble alliance will collapse in the fortnight allowed to come up with a new government. That would mean a GE anyway.

But, under current law, that requires 5 weeks for the election campaign. That would put any new government being installed to beyond 31st October, and with parliament having been dissolved, and no new PM appointed, no one to have sent the letter requesting a delay. So, Johnson again would be able to blame the dithering of Labour, and the fractiousness of the rabble alliance for a crash out Brexit.

Boffy said...

Any agreement will be an agreement between parties. Corbyn is the Leader of the Labour party, elected by 66% of its 500,000 members. That mandate cannot be overturned by the wishes of a handful of Liberals, in determining who Labour's leader should be.

Of course, if large numbers of MP's do not agree with the position their parties take on this matter they have the option of splitting from them. Any Labour MP's wanting to put themselves up against Corbyn have the opportunity of splitting from Labour, and taking whatever Labour MP's they think might back them with them. Or they could join Chuka, and the other Tories who have gone to the Liberals.

The trouble is that, even if 200 Labour MP's, and the Tory rebels all went over to the Liberals, they still would not have a majority to stand behind a candidate for PM, and in the meantime they would have burned their boats.

The only way that would make sense is if Labour continued to pursue its reactionary pro-Brexit stance, so that along with this split, the vast majority of Labour voters went along with it to the Liberals, so that the Liberals had a conceivable chance of winning a majority in parliament. At the moment that looks unlikely, though it does look likely that either way, the Liberals could become the main opposition party pushing Labour into third place.

JGiftmacher said...

Labour's "reactionary pro-Brexit stance"? LOL it's a take, I'll give you that.