VIEW FROM A DITCH

There are some things in life with an eternal longevity that serves as an inexplicably curious comfort; we may not devote much attention to them, but it’s still a source of satisfaction knowing they’re there. The Shipping Forecast, for example – or Ken Bruce. Then there are others that appear in annoying possession of an undeserved immortality that outlasts any relevance they once had. ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ was one of those for what felt like centuries before receiving a belated mercy killing; yet we’ve still got ‘Later with Jools Holland’. And added to that listless list could be this current Parliament, which seems set to go on and on and on until every member of the electorate over 40 is pushing up the daisies. By then, the young – all of whom are unquestionably of a Remainer persuasion, of course – will have inherited the ballot-box and it should be safe to hold a General Election again without fear the result of the 2016 Referendum will be honoured or that we will actually leave the EU.

Social media is today awash with reminders of how Boris Johnson once declared something or other and has now outrageously gone back on his word – as though reciting the PM’s catalogue of U-turns proves without doubt that he’s not a man to be trusted. In most cases, his record both in and out of politics shows, yes, he probably isn’t a man to be trusted; but when it comes to Brexit, he hasn’t really been left with any option but to reverse every public pronouncement on the subject courtesy of a Commons that clearly takes perverse delight in thwarting him seemingly just because he’s Boris. But whilst MPs of all opposition parties – not to mention many in Boris’s own – are having fun playing parliamentary parlour games, the rest of us are watching on with weary exasperation, thoroughly sick and tired of the entire repulsive circus.

Given what we have seen this year, did anyone really believe the Halloween deadline day would be adhered to? I’ve already lost track of how many deadline days we’ve bypassed in 2019, so the news that the EU has granted yet another extension against Boris’s declared wishes hardly warrants the Prime Minister being regarded as the reincarnation of Richard Nixon. Even if his own incompetence undoubtedly played a part, the fact is that yet again he was confronted by a brick wall of Remainers whose self-serving obstinacy is having the counter-productive effect of making the PM a sympathetic figure; rightly or wrongly, and whatever the true motivation of his actions, to the public it appears he’s the one person trying to implement what a majority of the electorate voted for over three years ago. In their eyes, he is not the one to blame for the latest in a long, long line of delays; we all know who is, and the guilty parties know we know – which is why they won’t give us the chance to vote them out of office.

Oh, sorry! I forgot. The Lib Dems and SNP have now colluded to dangle a carrot that may at least present the Government with the opportunity to override the support of the Labour Party that the wretched Fixed Term Parliaments Act requires. And amen to that. For all there is to admire in some of Labour’s proposals when it comes to those areas of social policy the Tories have shamefully disregarded over the past decade, it is Labour’s deluded stance on Brexit that will probably cost them dear at the nation’s polling stations. Throwing in its lot with the cosseted concerns of the metropolitan Parliamentary Labour Party is a catastrophic misjudgement of the opinions of all the lifelong Labour voters a long way from London – the disillusioned diehard that has no more in common with the champagne socialism of Starmer, Watson and Thornberry than it does with Oliver bloody Letwin.

Labour’s pitiful position in the polls after probably the most disastrous couple of years for the Conservative Party since the mid-1990s speaks volumes as to its prospects on the hustings to come – and delaying a General Election is as much a tactic of self-preservation for Labour as kicking Brexit into the endless long grass is for the Liberal Democrats. If Boris Johnson has a habit of shooting himself in the foot whenever his fortunes appear to have taken a turn for the better, Jeremy Corbyn has been equally accident-prone; the anti-Semitism issue has been swept under the carpet time and time again, yet it keeps coming back to further tarnish the Momentum bandwagon.

The remarkably close-run thing of 2017 is currently being exhumed by media Labour luvvies as an example of how the polls shouldn’t be relied upon as a pointer to the party’s performance. But Jezza was an unknown quantity to the electorate two years ago, when we were approaching a full decade since the financial crash and people were wearying of Austerity; his voice doesn’t sound quite so fresh now. Neil Kinnock’s failure in 1992 has often been put down to the fact he’d been Leader of the Opposition for too long – nine years at that time; Corbyn has held the same post for four, but it already seems so much longer.

The fanaticism of the Corbyn cult that characterised the 2017 General Election campaign has dwindled back to the hardcore now – as was inevitable with Corbyn not being crowned PM, despite his undeniably impressive, against-all-odds effort. Whipping-up the giddy enthusiasm of first-time voters by selling Jezza as a rock star was a policy destined to meet the same fate that befalls many a rock star whose zillion-selling debut album floods the charity shops when fashion moves on; the ‘difficult second album’ is not exactly eagerly-anticipated by the wider public. Indeed, for all its romanticising by the faithful, 2017 could actually be viewed in the same despondent light as the missed opportunity of 1992. Had Labour managed to win an outright majority and ousted Theresa May before her own party beat them to it, we wouldn’t have had a Hung Parliament, and therefore wouldn’t be trapped in this bloody Groundhog deadlock.

At least, for all their dominance in media circles, the People’s Vote mafia will invariably be split come Election Day, and this may well be their merciful undoing. A General Election should be fought on more than a single issue, but this one is bound to be even more Brexit-themed than the last; and that is not the fault of the electorate, but our elected representatives. The Second Referendum brigade are all-too aware that the problem when Parliament is overwhelmingly in synch with Remainer sensibilities is that voters are left with a dangerous variety of multiple choices – thus a ‘People’s Vote’ is the preferred option; that way, parties don’t come into it and they can all unite under the EU flag. With a General Election, however, the voters can only pick one pro-Remain faction, knowing another faction will suffer as a consequence – and there are so many to choose from! Leavers, on the other hand, largely only have the Tories or the Brexit Party – which is a profoundly depressing choice in itself; but such is life when you’re dead in a ditch.

© The Editor

2 thoughts on “VIEW FROM A DITCH

  1. Although nothing is predictable in this current chaos, let’s assume for a moment that a general election does indeed occur in the next month or two.

    A key issue will be the actual range of choices available to each individual voter, rather than the national total choice. It is easy to imagine that, in many seats, there will be some sort of ‘pact’, official or otherwise, between those occupying similar stances on Brexit, thus we may expect that not every seat will offer every choice, leaving the individual voters with only a compromised selection. If such arrangements are widespread, then the outcome of the election will be even more difficult to predict than otherwise: indeed, given the set of circumstances pertaining, then that mythical ‘infinite number of monkeys’ may even struggle to guess this one right.

    The best outcome would be a government with a working majority, simply to get back to some sort of active government, instead of the chaotic impotence of a minority one: predicting the likelihood of that eventuality is beyond my pay-grade.

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    1. Yes, I seem to remember last time round we both anticipated a Tory landslide – though, to be fair, most media pundits did likewise. Electoral pacts probably will come to the fore in 2019 (20?) more than for any previous General Election which, as you say, makes predictions even more problematic. But I agree – we do not need another minority government or Hung Parliament. However, what we need and what we might get are not necessarily bound to be one and the same!

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