Thursday 24 October 2019

Saying No to Boris Johnson's Election

Is it really so bad that we're not having a general election? Looking on Twitter earlier after Boris Johnson's latest gambit, plenty of comrades were, how shall we say, "exercised" following the announcement Labour is instructing MPs to abstain or vote against when Johnson tries bringing it to the Commons on Monday. Part of the reasoning, according to Jeremy Corbyn, is to take no deal off the table and await to see what the EU says. Rumours abound of a 31st January extension, amid briefings that Emmanuel Macron wants a more shorter time frame and this is to be the very last time. We'll see about that. If another three months is confirmed, then perhaps Labour leadership will change its mind. But I doubt it.

Why be sanguine about the prospect? I can understand the impatience of comrades who want to go out there and give the Tories a good drubbing. After all, despite what the polls say and the incuriosity of Westminster watchers re: anything other than who's shafting who this week, the underlying background to 2017's result hasn't gone away. Indeed, during two years of disempowering and dispiriting Brexit back-and-forth living standards have hardly skyrocketed, the housing crisis is still crisis-tastic, climate change is more pressing, and more clued up, disproportionately left-leaning young people have come of age. Only a knave or a fool would completely write off Labour's chances.

All the more reason to go for one now and back Johnson's move? Well, no. There's a very good reason not to, and not because the students will have gone home by the putative general election date (some of us don't close until the 20th, by the way). As we know, the Johnson/Cummings strategy is based around appearing to be in a hurry. According to the clever-clever logic of the Downing Street quantum brain, it's win-win for Johnson. He accrues the benefit of barrelling Brexit through, and the opposition are punished if they're seen to thwart his scheme. It's not an unreasonable assumption. The Johnson problem is what if they refuse to rise to the bait? It's not just Labour, remember. On this score at least, the united line of Labour, the SNP, LibDems, Plaid, Caroline Lucas, the CHUKa rump and various indies is holding. You can now probably add the DUP to the list too.

What does Johnson do then? After promising MPs more time to scrutinise the new deal if they back his election, they can have even more time should they reject it. Another dazzling Dom oversight. His alternative is the kind of petulance that saw the extension letter go to the Commission without Johnson's signature. According to one of his most loyal courtiers, the government is going on strike. Given some of the initiatives in their Queen's speech, we should be thankful for small mercies. Still, the problem Johnson has here is after so much hustle and bustle, he's now making a spectacle of himself ostentatiously falling asleep at the wheel. Everything is paused, and nothing happens. Including, perversely, his very own Brexit bill. Consider the absurdity of British politics - the passage to Brexit is getting blocked by its biggest champion.

Why is this an issue, won't the kind coverage of the press see him through? For a week or two, maybe. But if government stops we have a news vacuum, and what might it get filled with? Scrutiny of the bill could feature prominently, and other problems and emergencies are bound to crop up that demand action and the government are seen to not care/found wanting. Also, more time allows for the disgruntled Tory voter to start making eyes at the Brexit Party again. In other words, if an election isn't held the more difficulties Johnson will have holding his coalition together. Remember, smart strategy doesn't just involve winning points and decision making that enhances your position. It's about disorganising your opponent too.

Is delay the right decision? No one knows for sure, but standing back and considering our position vs the Tories, it looks like it could be.

Image Credit


Speedy said...

Stringing it out won't do Labour any favours, but it can hardly get worse. It won't affect the country at all - many countries can get on with no government - Italy manages for months, if not years, on 'technical governments'. That's one thing politicians might want to watch out for - the government's on strike, well the sky hasn't fallen in.

However, no one will believe Labour is worried about no deal - everyone will think they just want to avoid an election. What they need to do if they are waiting until spring (when the students have gone back - classic gerrymandering!) is build the most effective tactical voting app ever. Otherwise, they are just delaying the inevitable.

Incidentally, if there is significant further delay, I'd say the threat of political violence from "lone wolfs" will become much higher. Psychologically the nation appears to be suffering a kind of collective psychosis, and this cannot but affect genuinely disturbed individuals.

Bloke in North Dorset said...

Looks to me like you’re implying students are too stupid to register for and the use a postal vote.

Unknown said...

Wise move. Let Boris Johnson soil himself and sit in it.

1729torus said...

The EU isn't going to facilitate delay because they want to get the deal passed before the support Boris built starts to evaporate.