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Friday 1 November 2019

The laxative benefits of political churn

Paul Goodman of Conservative Home is, on the face of it, a textbook professional politician. From student political organiser to researcher, SPAD and MP, to ex-MP and political writer, with a bit of journalism on the side, the broad brushstrokes of his career are little different to the vast homogeneous mass of professional politicians with no real experience outside politics. He stood down from parliament during the expenses scandal. Not, I hasten to add, because of it. The Telegraph's only finding at the time was that
Paul Goodman claimed modest mortgage interest payments on a second home in High Wycombe. Underclaimed by £1,384 in 2006 and was reimbursed by fees office
Paul wrote one of those pieces yesterday for ConHome that strikes one immediately as 'right facts, wrong conclusions'. He notes the number of losses from the Commons, both recent arrivals and seasoned veterans, and postulates
Meanwhile, the shift from the elected representative to the professional politician model has been good news for constituents.  The days when the local MP could ignore the latter, or visit his seat only occasionally, vanished a long time ago.  That’s the effect of consumer competition for you over the years, with the emergence of the SNP, UKIP, the Greens and the Liberal Democrats. We are moving from a model in which many MPs sat from late youth until early old age to one in which more serve for one or two terms – as the Editor of this site did.
Though I can't quite reconcile this with the quote someone has included on his Wiki page - "a House in which professional politics predominates, entrenching and empowering a taxpayer-dependent political class distinct and separate from those who elect them...for better or worse, this future Commons isn't for me". It seems he can't quite decide between the old patrician class and modern career professional politicians.

There is, of course, an alternative option. Neither.

Having read and digested the tens of thousands of comments on this blog for over ten years, the one thing I am sure of is that voters despise equally both members of the patrician political establishment and the privileged elite of professional politicians. They have both been responsible, as Paul quite rightly points out, for robbing the people of their rightful political power -
If you send much of your power outwards, to the EU; sideways, to the courts; and downwards, to the devolved institutions, then don’t be surprised if voters become resistant to backing you and funding you – especially in the wake of the Iraq War, “expenses” and the financial crash.
Paul mourns the loss of middle-ranking ministerial experience from the Commons because of recent 'churn'. I think he's wrong. Why entrench the failures, betrayals, sell-outs, mendacity and inadequacy of the past forty years? Why retain experience when clearly they have not only been getting it wrong but acting contrary to the interests of the voters, largely to their own benefit?

I have often pointed out that the only one of the six demands of the Charter of 1838 remains unmet
  1. A vote for every man twenty-one years of age, of sound mind, and not undergoing punishment for a crime.
  2. The secret ballot to protect the elector in the exercise of his vote.
  3. No property qualification for Members of Parliament in order to allow the constituencies to return the man of their choice.
  4. Payment of Members, enabling tradesmen, working men, or other persons of modest means to leave or interrupt their livelihood to attend to the interests of the nation.
  5. Equal constituencies, securing the same amount of representation for the same number of electors, instead of allowing less populous constituencies to have as much or more weight than larger ones.
  6. Annual Parliamentary elections, thus presenting the most effectual check to bribery and intimidation, since no purse could buy a constituency under a system of universal manhood suffrage in each twelve-month period.
Bribery and intimidation - today the corrupting effect of establishment power, and the brutalising consequences of social media - remain a threat. But it is a frequent clear-out of the Commons that will keep it healthy, and not the institutionalising of status, privilege and entitlement.

We are in the process of reclaiming power - the power they have given away - winning it back from the EU, from the courts and from the unelected quangos and NDPBs, from anti-democratic and unaccountable supranational rule-makers and from an elite who have captured the State. It will take time to get a Commons that reflects these aspirations, but we are making a start.

Thursday 31 October 2019

And then none of them be missed

The cull begins - the long awaited clear-out of the Commons. Like Brexit itself, it won't be an event but a process, but we have 56 who are going even before the starting gun is fired. Only Kate Hoey, I suspect, will be missed. 

It's slightly strange, but they're mostly nobodies. MPs who hold themselves in such high regard, who imagine themselves to be so special, whose inflated sense of self-worth has led them to disobey the country for three years, are for the greatest part nonentities. Their delusion is caused by the power of parliament, by their mistaken belief that it is them, individually, rather than the institution that is important. Dissolution will bring them crashing down to earth with enhanced gravity.

The election itself will continue the clear out. I will have the record button primed for the declaration from Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford - if Yvette Cooper makes it through I'll eat my hat. Though Portillo himself has grown into a pastel-coloured gay icon since his defenestration and the extent to which, in government, he was loathed has faded with time, I doubt many in 2019 will be so fortunate.

Nigel makes the front pages of both the Telegraph and the FT (for any who are not aware, the FT is the pro-Remain, pro-authoritarian organ of the globalists, and shares writers with 'Marxism Today') and the debate you had here in yesterday's comments has moved into the columns of the MSM -

Whilst the Guardian is clearly upset by our description of the Conservatives yesterday as 'the people's party led by the people's Prime Minister delivering the people's choice' - today their front page screams 'Corbyn: The Tories don't represent the people, we do'. The election on the 12th, of course, will show who really represents the people. I doubt it will be Mr Corbyn.

Wednesday 30 October 2019


Thay have all, finally, agreed to a general election.

To the dismay of his MPs and the probable fury of the Noncefinder-General Mr Watson, who hid away when the vote was taken, Corbyn has caved in to the people's demands for a general election. He had little choice. With the LibDems and the SNP ready to trigger an election, it would not have been a good look for Labour to have opposed this and lost. Shortly after Labour's humiliation in parliament, Corbyn did a little-girl skippy dance down the carpeted steps of the palace for his Instagram followers, but his glum, drawn face gave the lie to his Prozac-cheerful words. Helping elect Corbyn to the Labour leadership was the best £3 I have ever spent.

So we're off. In a day or two the short campaign will start in earnest and everyone who wants all MPs to lose their jobs will have their wish; they all cease being MPs when parliament is dissolved. Many will not return. I suspect there will be many Portillo moments on election night. It is the last we will see of Grieve, Letwin, Soubry and the other wreckers, and worth it for that alone. 

Both the Labour Party and my own party I suspect will try their hardest to pretend this is a normal election, fought on the grounds of an end to austerity and a new spend bonanza for the entire public sector funded by Wonga for Labour and a war on crime with increased police and prison spending, plus a cash boost for the NHS from the Conservatives. Voters, I think, won't be fooled. This will be the Brexit election, and each of the parties' narratives on Brexit will be critical - currently they go something like

Conservatives - Pro Brexit; the people's party led by the people's Prime Minister delivering the people's choice

LibDems - Will not accept withdrawal from the EU whatever the people say or how they vote, and however illiberal and anti-democratic this appears

Brexit - Standing for a no-deal Brexit and, er, that's it really

Labour - Anti-Brexit in London and the metropolitan areas, equivocal in Wales and the North. Official policy is to campaign for a Blair Referendum, negotiate with the EU then stick their tongues out and run away and revoke Article 50. Or something. No-one actually knows.

Of course this has utterly buggered all the pollsters' models and predictions. The telly Swingometer will have to be 3D. They won't have a clue how the most important election since the war will pan out. Anything is possible.

Of course I've avoided the matter of how TBP and the Conservatives interact; we just don't know. Personally I favour an election pact, but the Prime Minister has ruled this out. If by standing against eachother, the parties split the pro-Brexit vote and Corbyn and the Libdems win, neither Farage or Boris will ever be forgiven and it will destroy both TBP and the Conservative Party. I'm waiting for CCHQ to indicate how they intend to go.

It's a good time to re-state comment guidelines. Your comments on the issues in the posts may be as robust as you like short of defamation or illegality but link-dumping and trying to hijack posts for election prop will earn deletion - as will crude insults and slurs directed at me.

Right. That's all. Carry on.  

Monday 28 October 2019

Nemesis of the haute-remainers - John Gray

Today is yet another crunch day for Brexit. So many crunch days for Brexit have come and gone that I am not getting excited; either the Commons agrees an election and the EU deigns to allow an extension, or something else happens. 

It's always good to take the chance to step back and look at the bigger picture. The Telegraph is absolutely right today in drawing attention to an essay in New Statesman America by John Gray. As the unfortunately-acronymed NS is core leftie-thinking fodder, it will be uncomfortable reading for many of those Gray terms 'haute-remainers' - the Blairs, Adonises, Grieves and others. I commend it to you.

I have said all along that Brexit was not primarily about the EU but about a wider democratic correction in the UK that re-balances power away from an establishment elite* and back to the voters. This year the BBC, in a rare act of political prescience, featured Reith lectures by Lord Sumption covering the effects of State capture by this political elite on the relationship between law and democracy. Gray's focus is the way in which the Conservative Party has reacted and changed, as it has throughout its history, to ensure it comes through intact. The same cannot be said of parties embracing the haute-remainer cause.

Gray's essay is too crammed with succinct and tight analysis to usefully select any single paragraph to quote summation, so here then, as a sample of the essay rather than a precis, is just one -
The haute-Remainer mind is an example of what the 20th century’s subtlest and most original conservative philosopher called political rationalism. Michael Oakeshott (1901-90) used the term to describe totalitarian ideologies such as Leninism and National Socialism, but he was clear that any kind of political tradition could succumb to rationalist ideology – including conservatism. (His own version of conservatism – an ultra-liberal variety, in which the ideal role of the state was that of an umpire – itself did.) The core of rationalism in politics is an idea of politics itself. Rather than being a practice in which people negotiate the terms on which they co-exist with one another, politics means the imposition of an idea. The idea is self-evidently true; anyone who questions it is ignorant and stupid, or else wilfully malignant. Though they claim to embody reason in politics, haute-Remainers cling to a view of the EU in which facts are secondary or irrelevant. They fulminate on the dangers of Brexit without ever mentioning that Paris has been convulsed by riots while Barcelona has become the scene of mass demonstration, burning streets and police violence. No mere fact can be allowed to cloud the vision of a sacred institution.
Let's see what the day brings.  

* E.g, at random, from 8/4/2010, and in many scores of posts before and after ..

"The Downfall of the Political Class
The public have been way ahead of the moribund old parties on this; we've been sick of the loathsome political class for some time. This hasn't stopped either party from fielding blow-in dags who have no experience other than politics or political organising for seats in the next Parliament, but their time too will come."