Three cheers for Jeremy Corbyn!

The slow moving car crash that is Brexit continued last night with the government losing the vote to ratify the deal made with the EU by a unprecedented margin as predicted by everyone…… including most of Theresa May’s cabinet.

The Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, had several options in front of him at that point. He chose to call for a vote of no confidence, which, if lost by the government, will result in a General Election.

We don’t really do predictions here but we’ll make an exception in this case – there is more chance Halle Berry will turn up at my house tomorrow evening wearing sexy lingerie and holding a bottle of Krug, a box of Godiva chocolates and a Barry White playlist on her iPhone than Jeremy Corbyn winning today’s vote.

To have called for a vote that he so clearly won’t win (the rebel Conservative MPs hate Theresa May’s deal but they aren’t going to allow the Labour Party have an early chance at government either – turkeys don’t vote for Christmas) shows a depressing lack of imagination.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone with more than a passing familiarity with Corbin’s history. He used to be my MP for a while during my years in London (no, I didn’t vote for him), during which time I learned enough about him to realise he fits the “useful idiot” description perfectly. His deputy, John McDonnell, in the other hand, would be truly terrifying if he got close to the reigns of power.

Corbyn has, in effect, been wrong and proven wrong about nearly everything for nearly all his adult life. His fundamental belief is that socialism is the ideal form of political and societal organisation and that we just need to implement it correctly this time. The 200 million or more dead bodies in the 20th century are simply a statistical side note during the experiments to find the right version.

No surprise then, that a pointless gesture would be his first choice tactic. But what were his other options last night when responding to Theresa May?

Here’s a few this non-political professional can think of;

1. Commiserate Theresa May and offer to form an emergency cross-party cabinet to thrash out a counter offer to take to the EU next week.

2. Commiserate Theresa May and thank her for her efforts to negotiate in good faith with the EU but state that this has clearly been a one way street. The EU have not intended to find a mutually acceptable compromise from the start of the process and, therefore, Labour recommend the government pivot to the assumption that they are dealing with a hostile foreign power and commence planning accordingly. Labour will fully support the government in a bipartisan approach during this period of national crisis.

3. Commiserate Theresa May and ask her to return to the house within 24 hours with an outline of her revised approach to ensure an orderly exit from the EU on March 29th. The house should be offered a vote of confidence on this approach and, if lost, she will resign as Prime Minister or a general election will be called (pick one).

4. Commiserate Theresa May and then read a prepared statement which sets out, in simple language, Labour’s alternatives to the contentious elements of the bill. Offer to support the government to pass the re-submitted bill if these amendments were made.

There are probably loads more versions of these suggestions that Corbyn could have taken last night. That he took the one least likely to succeed is in character but still confusing. He suffers greatly from cognitive dissonance but this takes it to a new level.

Bill’s Opinion

What’s going on?

I can think of a few possible explanations and, frankly, I’ve not settled on which one is most probable;

1. Everything is as it appears; we have an incompetent Prime Minister, an even more incompetent Leader of the Opposition and a foreign power acting in bad faith.

2. Losing the vote was a deliberate negotiation tactic by the Prime Minister, enabling her to put the EU under pressure to improve the terms of the deal or risk the “no deal” option. The Leader of the Opposition is incompetent and the EU are acting in bad faith.

3. It’s all kayfabe. What we are witnessing is a public play between the EU and UK government to give an impression of conflict and subsequent resolution while the terms of exit have already been agreed and the strategy to achieve approval has been meticulously planned. Jeremy Corbyn is still incompetent.

4. As (3) but Jeremy Corbyn is in on the secret too.

(1) and (2) don’t concern me; we will either see a “no deal” exit (i.e. WTO terms) or a reasonable but not perfect deal.

(3) and (4) are truly scary but, to be true, using our razor, have the most unproven assumptions.

Have I missed any potential explanations?

Which do you think is most likely?

What this war needs is a futile gesture….

8 Replies to “Three cheers for Jeremy Corbyn!”

  1. “Have I missed any potential explanations?”

    Only a nastier variation on the Kayfabe idea, which is that the deal has already been done, and the deal is for us to remain within the EU and to shut up about leaving ever again.

    My personal view is that it is more likely to be your number 1. What’s interesting about this view is that, if true, it means that we are dealing with a truly staggering level of political ineptitude among our political class. All that overblown and cynical rhetoric along the lines of “They couldn’t run a whelk stall” or “I could do it better” is actually true. May and her supporters were actually stupid and lazy enough to watch a political and constitutional crisis develop, and fail to see what was obvious to the person in the street. Which means, in turn, that we are facing a huge crisis of political legitimacy. Either way, in fact – Kayfabe conspiracy, or complacent Tory cock-up – we are now looking at a serious crisis in political legitimacy.

    1. Well, if (1) is the most likely, bear in mind that to stop a no deal Brexit, a further piece of legislation must be passed. Adding speculation on to speculation is a dangerous game but how likely is it that a majority could be found to pass anything like that in the next 72 days AND have it accepted by the 27 EU states (or the same thing in the opposite order).

      Looks like a no deal to me. Or there’s an extension to Article 50 which, again, needs parliament’s approval.

      In the words of John Cleese, “it’s not the despair, I can cope with the despair…. it’s the HOPE”.

  2. Try this;
    Neither are complete incompetents. Just acting according to their own incentives and constraints.
    Corbyn’s incentive is to form the next government, according to his perception of what the Labour Party should be. Which, as you know, is pretty much the 70s Militant Tendency version, informed by his childhood and teenage reading of early Soviet revolutionary Comintern guff.
    His constraint is experience, what he knows how to do, which is procedural gaming and infighting.
    Unfortunately, neither of these are of any use right now in terms of resolving Brexit, so he calls for no confidence vote, knowing he can’t win, but the aim is show the Momentum Trots he’s against the evil Tory scum, and doing his utmost to destroy their despotic regime.
    May, on the other hand, needs to hold the Conservatives together to fend off Corbyn in this government and the next. Her experience is in ensuring the smooth running of the status quo – worked for the BoE and APACs, not exactly dynamic risk taking organisations. This isn’t particularly useful right now either, as what she’s trying to achieve is an elegant dismount for her, her successors, and the Party.
    As far as legitimacy goes, both see it in Labour vs. Conservative terms, the assumption being that government legitimacy flows from political legitimacy, winning votes in the House and in elections.
    If you really want to see when this explodes into a wider systematic crisis, the question that needs answering is: What’s the life expectancy at ninety-plus?
    Underlying this is the Cabinet Office, and a thing named Machinery of Government.

    1. Yes, but “competent at traditional politics” isn’t going cut it this time, as you point out.

      The parliamentary maths is fascinating. Am I right in thinking there are too many divisions for any of the possible solutions to achieve a majority?

      How delicious.

      1. Delicious isn’t the word; I’m not sure the word even exists in English. Probably time to nick another one from some colonials.

        I think there are too many divisions; mainly that they’ve got to overcome them, get something through the House, then through Barnier & Co, in about 70 days. Assume for a moment that they do manage to coalesce into some sort of useful groupings, but I don’t believe they’ll be able to do that along Party lines, which gives them a major problem in those 70-odd days, being the structure and protocols of the House, where it’s HM Government and HM Loyal Opposition. Where do the necessary Bill(s) come from? I think (but I’m not sure) that would have to be a Private Member’s Bill, and that the Speaker would have to do some serious thinking about the protocols governing that and his own role.

        Something of a teaching moment, that. I think, again, I’m not sure, that if some sort of Private Member’s Bill passes, then by definition HM Government has lost control of the House and is clearly not functioning. By extension, neither of the party leaders are in control. May would have to haul her sorry arse up the Mall, and somebody will have to demonstrate they can command the confidence of the House, within 14 days. If no-one can do that, it’s GE time. The organisational capabilities to run a campaign at short notice only exist within the major parties, Labour’s been woefully short of cash for donkeys, but you’re now talking about party coups along the lines of the new coalitions in the House.

        What’s curious here is; where the hell did Starmer suddenly come from? And Boris’ speech of a couple of days ago, talking about diverting taxation revenues directly to local councils. That’s “take back control” turned up to 11, surely.

        Prediction time : Boris forms a cross-party coalition initially based upon the Vote Leave players, and attracts the support (on the equivalent of a confidence and supply arrangement) of enough of those MPs in Leave constituencies (particularly Labour ones oop north – take a look at the speech). Faced with this, the ’22 committee tells May she’s toast. Bonus points if she has to appear on the steps of the Bundeskanzleramt or Strasbourg to tearfully announce her resignation. Boris, or A N Other, takes control of the Conservative and Unionist Party, but it’s Boris striding up the Mall, quite possibly with a Labour figure at his right hand.

        Bit tricky, but given the deadlines involved, this could be by Wednesday.

        1. Actually, one of the things that would be interesting would be some government resignations among really junior players that nobody has ever heard of before over the weekend, mainly Sunday evening.

          1. Could we start a crowdfund campaign to pay Sourbry to take early retirement somewhere nice and warm with poor internet and telephone connections?

        2. Well, I like your Boris scenario. It has echoes of Churchill taking over from Chamberlain.

          At the time of writing, my handy countdown app on my phone says 69 days, 8 hours. I worry if that’s just enough time for May to pull together a coalition of the remain/soft/flaccid and screw the referendum result for another generation?

          The Speccie podcast (was it you who put me on to that) suggests that a GE might be becoming more likely, but it risks permanently fracturing both major parties.

          But again, would there be a majority to revoke the no deal default in the WA bill or are a flaccid deal with the EU?

          I’m trying so hard to not get carried away with the hope that it’s WTO and telling Brussels to whistle for their 39bn.

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