Well, what have we learnt in the first week-and-a-half of 2020 so far? Perhaps – as is generally the trend when a New Year begins – not a lot that we didn’t know already. Years, never mind decades, take time to establish themselves as separate entities to what has preceded them, and with less than a fortnight on the clock the 2020s have naturally given us more of the same, or a newly-bottled version of the over-familiar. Yes, it was undeniably joyous seeing Ricky Gervais roasting a self-important Hollywood aristocracy demanding a pat on the back for wearing the same tux for the entire awards season (thus saving the planet in the process), but this necessary interlude was followed by hysteria over a list of BAFTA nominees that failed to include any women or ‘people of colour’; with an Identity Politics agenda being so crucial to whether or not a movie is worth watching, such an outrage needed a mention if we are to make sure the colour-blind dinner table of Martin Luther King’s dream remains out of bounds.

Meanwhile, the Duke and Duchess of Woke are fleeing excessive press coverage by making sure they receive excessive press coverage as they flounce off into the taxpayer-subsidised sunset of the Commonwealth; we received shock confirmation that both the US and Iran are run by point-scoring arseholes exercising their machismo by keeping a 40-year-old grudge match going – and woe betide those who get caught in the crossfire, such as the blameless passengers on a commercial flight; evidence suggesting some of Australia’s awful inferno may have been the result of both arsonists and counterproductive ‘green’ policies rather than climate change are being argued over as heartbreaking images of innocent animals suffering continue to flood social media newsfeeds; oh, and attempts to resurrect an opposition to government in UK politics, whilst seemingly back on track at Stormont, are floundering yet again at Westminster.

Yes, the hopefuls making their respective pitches to become Labour Party leader have kick-started their campaigns by merely proving the period of reflection following such a catastrophic electoral annihilation entails learning absolutely nothing from it whatsoever. Rebecca Long-Bailey gives Corbyn 10/10 as a leader, whilst Clive Lewis continues with the ‘all Leave voters were thick racists’ narrative as his launch-pad; both are either too stupid to recognise where their party went wrong or are simply incapable of taking the reasons on board. Emily Thornberry is risking the wrath of the dominant Momentum vote in her bid by daring to suggest Corbyn made mistakes, despite the fact she was telling us all what a great Prime Minister he’d be barely a month ago; and Jess Phillips is doing what Jess Phillips does best – i.e. reminding the world how great Jess Phillips is, though not offering any concrete evidence why, such as in the form of plausible policies.

Maybe it’s no surprise that Keir ‘slimy’ Starmer has leapt ahead as front-runner in this lacklustre contest. As ever, the Starmer chameleon has employed sneaky stealth to progress almost unnoticed, avoiding headline-grabbing statements and courting favour as a ‘safe pair of hands’ by radiating the charisma of an ironing board. I can only assume he’s been able to garner support from both within and without the Labour Party on account of him cleverly avoiding the twin toxic taints of New Labour and Corbynism and therefore giving the impression to those tired of both that he somehow represents the way forward as a bland, faceless ‘moderate’ who can win back all those lost voters. Ignorance of Starmer’s pre-Parliamentary career probably helps.

Lest we forget, Starmer’s insidious (not to say pivotal) role in pushing forward the ‘Believe The Victim’ mantra during his disastrous stint as Director of Public Prosecutions led pretty much directly to the Carl Beech fiasco; though this stage of Starmer’s career is mysteriously absent from his leadership portfolio, he created the climate that enabled Beech to pull the wool over so many eyes. Starmer’s influence helped establish this policy within the nation’s police forces, filtering to the frontline from the top on down, and whilst Carl Beech was the most high-profile example of how fatally flawed this approach is, God only knows how high the numbers behind bars whose cases have yet to be heard beyond the courtroom might be. Not to worry, though; Keir wants to be your Prime Minister.

The whole Beech affair has smoothly slid off Teflon Man Starmer in a way it hasn’t with his departed colleague Tom Watson. It stuck like the jammy residue of a tuck-shop doughnut to Bunter because he’d allowed his ego to seize upon it as a means of propelling his profile into the public consciousness; when Beech was mercifully exposed as a fraudster, Jezza’s deputy suffered the consequences thereafter; something which he had cynically weaponised ended up shooting him in the foot. Watson then had no option but to walk the plank, crushing his obvious ambitions to be Labour leader in the process; however, it is characteristic of the man that he continues to refute accusations of wrongdoing in his post-political existence, seeking forgiveness via TV confessionals ala Michael Barrymore. In denial but in the wilderness, Watson now has to sit back and watch an operator who is far more responsible for Beech and his odious ilk run away with the opening round.

Jezza remains at the helm during this odd interregnum, albeit suddenly rendered utterly powerless at the dispatch box; indeed, Corbyn’s ability to connect with Yoof due to him having the mindset of an eternal gap-year student trapped in a pensioner’s body was something that only worked to a degree in the chamber when the Tories lacked the numbers to neuter him. Now that Parliament has a Government with a majority for the first time in a long time, it would appear normal service has been resumed. The chaos that came to characterise the Commons has completely vanished since business reconvened in the wake of the General Election, and with it has vanished Corbyn’s clout. Imminent legislation being passed onto the Lords with ease is something we’d almost forgotten was possible, yet it is finally happening again.

As his party struggles to cope with resolving the detachment from the electorate that he helped accelerate, poor old Jezza has the hapless demeanour of a past-it comedian in a working-men’s club whose act is being largely ignored by patrons drinking and talking amongst themselves. ‘We are the resistance to Boris Johnson’ was his follow-up gag to ‘We won the argument’; and it’s a pity the ones who really should get the joke are the only ones not laughing. Mind you, unless we simply watch Gervais’s Golden Globes evisceration of Tinsel Town on a loop, there’s not much else to laugh about right now, anyway.

© The Editor


Emily Thornberry looks like somebody drew a face on a thumb. Okay, got the childish insult based on physical appearance out of the way first – just in case it might appear my objection to Lady Nugee was solely down to not liking the look of her. Mind you, the look of a politician does make a difference, whether we like it or not; how they carry themselves in public and come across on TV can undoubtedly have an impact on the electorate. With or without bacon sandwich, Ed Miliband just never convinced as a potential PM – and neither did Jeremy Corbyn. Nevertheless, the former was clearly desperate to move into No.10 – hell, yeah! – whereas the latter has always given the impression he was fairly ambivalent on the subject. And now a fresh crop of contenders are vying to step into shoes sorely in need of a trip to the cobblers.

The most honest post-Election obituaries to have emanated from the Labour camp have been aired by those who either lost their seats or are long past leadership ambitions. A small handful of hopefuls intending to inherit the poisoned chalice have tentatively issued gentle criticisms of the Corbyn regime, but they’re too mindful of the grip Momentum has on the party to fully let rip; they realise any overt critique of Corbynism and actually saying out loud what a catastrophic effect it had at the ballot box could curtail a leadership campaign. No, anyone hoping to become Labour leader cannot publicly declare what everyone outside of the party knows to be fact. This means, of course, that all bar one or two expected to throw their hats into the ring are already doomed to lead the party to a fifth successive General Election defeat in 2024. Labour’s problem right now is that any ‘period of reflection’ is in denial from the off and thus further detaches it from the electorate that comprehensively rejected it a couple of weeks ago.

At the time of writing, only Thornberry and Clive Lewis have officially announced their intention to run, with Keir Starmer, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy (and possibly Jess Phillips) expected to follow shortly. Thornberry embodies the London-centric mafia that have dominated the Shadow Cabinet during Jezza’s tenure – sneering, snooty Champagne Socialism of the worst order, contemptuously dismissing the traditional provincial Labour plebs in favour of chasing the middle-class, big city university graduates. But her enthusiastic embrace of the Second Referendum agenda should hopefully prevent her from being installed as the next Prime Minister-that-never-was; this arrogant misjudgement of the public mood typifies the insular narcissism of Lady Nugee and her clique, making her the last person capable of winning back hardcore Labour voters who switched to the Tories.

The loathsome Keir Starmer would be another disaster, though he has been sly and clever in a Mandelson manner to keep his seat on the Opposition frontbench throughout a period in which the wide divide between Corbynistas and the rest has dispatched so many into exile. Starmer’s chameleon-like ability to quietly blend into the Shadow Cabinet almost unnoticed is a by-product of his unnerving absence of personality as well as a blatant pointer to his leadership ambitions. As was noted in relation to Tom Watson – whose name would have been top of the contenders’ list had he not bailed out as soon as the General Election was called – the fact that Starmer can be regarded as a moderate voice of reason when he was so eager to thwart a democratic mandate delivered by such a large percentage of Labour voters speaks volumes as to the state of the party. And, lest we forget, this is a man responsible for overturning one of the foundation stones of British Law during his toxic stint at the CPS helm; for that alone, the man shouldn’t have been let anywhere near public office ever again.

Clive Lewis is perhaps the most anonymous of the names put forward – best known for being caught on camera using the word ‘bitch’ in a toe-curling, ironic ‘Gangsta’ fashion during a fringe event at the 2017 Labour Party Conference before being forced into the standard apology when it went viral. He is a close Corbyn ally and Remainer, both of which instantly alienate him from those Labour needs to win back to even stand a chance of being the largest party in a Hung Parliament – which, with such a severely depleted seat tally, is the best Labour can hope for next time round. But in a party so driven by Identity Politics, the colour of his skin may be the one thing he has going for him. If the new leader can’t be a woman, surely a black man would be the right box-ticking move?

Jezza’s anointed heir is Rebecca Long-Bailey, the double-barrelled northerner whose accent is about the only aspect that distinguishes her from the inner-M25 crowd she’s embedded in. She reminds me of an imagined Caroline Aherne character from ‘The Fast Show’ – if there’d been a ‘crap politician’ one. With Corbynism such a tainted brand in the mind of the electorate, changing the leader whilst sticking with the brand makes changing the leader a pointless exercise; and that’s precisely what will happen if Long-Bailey is elected as the chosen one of Corbyn, McDonnell, Momentum and McCluskey. Angela Rayner was initially touted as a prospective contender, being seen as ‘soft left’ and not as closely allied to the Corbyn master-plan as Long-Bailey; Rayner also has a back-story that serves as a refreshing alternative to the usual private school/Oxbridge/SPAD conveyor belt. However, it now appears she and Long-Bailey may engage in a pseudo-Blair/Brown pact, offering voters Continuity Corbyn and Corbyn-Lite in a bid to claim that record-breaking fifth-in-a-row defeat.

Lisa Nandy is mainly known through her appearances as one of a rotating group of Labour MPs sharing a sofa with Michael Portillo on ‘This Week’. Her Brexit stance, which was opposed to the People’s Vote smokescreen, may make her a more attractive prospect to Labour deserters; ditto representing one of the old industrial towns (Wigan) that the Corbyn crowd so casually disregarded; and the fact that she left the Shadow Cabinet in 2016, receiving abuse for supporting Owen Smith’s leadership challenge, makes her the only realistic candidate genuinely distanced from Corbynism. She’d also be more likely to attract Labour centrist voters than Second Referendum cheerleader and New Labour leftover Yvette Cooper. Whether or not Nandy is a strong enough personality in terms of taking on Boris Johnson at the dispatch-box is another matter, however.

Strong personality is one thing Jess Phillips certainly couldn’t be accused of lacking. In some respects, the MP for Birmingham Yardley is the nearest thing Labour has to the PM in terms of energetic bluster and putting her foot in it. A gobby long-time critic of Corbyn, Phillips often falls back on playing the ‘working-class woman’ card in the same way outside bet David Lammy constantly resorts to the race card; and she would need to up her game considerably to be regarded as a serious candidate. She’d also have to overcome the dominance of the pro-Corbyn membership to get anywhere near the leadership. If the party wasn’t so determined to carry on along the suicidal path that has made it unelectable, it might well decide to push Phillips forward as Labour’s Boris, just as the Tories pushed Cameron forward as their Blair. If that’s what it takes to get back into government, they could try it; but I suspect they won’t. Nobody in a position to alter the direction of the Labour Party appears capable of tearing up a bad script and giving this country what it so desperately needs – a strong, viable and believable opposition that can take the Tories to the cleaners.

© The Editor

PS Sincere apologies for the unintentionally altered appearance of the text. Afraid the ‘justify’ option for the preferred text allignment has inexplicably disappeared from the editing process (one of those unasked-for ‘upgrades’ that always contradict the old ‘if it ain’t broke’ maxim); unfortunately, from now on every post will look nowhere near as nice ‘n’ neat as it used to do. Nothing I can do about it, alas. The march of progress, eh?


We were kind-of warned at the time that the financial crash of 2008 would have far-reaching consequences, so perhaps it’s no great surprise that we’ve just lived through a tumultuous period played out in its corrosive shadow. The post-2008 decade has easily been the most politically traumatic ten years (and-a-bit) this country has experienced since the 1970s. Four General Elections, two referendums, a Coalition Government, minority administrations, Austerity, Brexit, the expenses’ scandal, Hackgate – all of which have, in one shape or another, served to erode the confidence of the electorate in not only our elected representatives, but the entire system itself. Even the youth recruited to the political process after being galvanised by the cult of Corbyn must have staggered into Friday morning feeling just a tad disillusioned. And at the end of it all, who could have imagined the responsibility of stability would be entrusted to Boris Johnson?

A man who began the decade as London Mayor was still best known as a clownish toff hosting ‘Have I Got News For You’, yet he sees it out as a Prime Minister who has just delivered the Conservative Party its most comprehensive victory since 1987. Yet, the fact he has the numbers means the nightmarish shambles of the last two and-a-half years can mercifully draw to a close; that’s not to say we stand on the cusp of some imaginary ‘Golden Age’ – indeed, few would dare predict such a thing when the future is in the hands of a character as erratic as Boris; but having those crucial numbers means Johnson is the first PM since Tony Blair who knows he can effectively push through whatever he wants without having to scurry around currying the support of minor parties. And after experiencing five months of the problems his two immediate predecessors faced, Boris must be relishing the luxury of a majority.

However, the PM will be conscious that receiving the support of disgruntled ex-Labour voters isn’t something he can rely upon indefinitely; he has to deliver to retain it, and hope Labour’s soul-searching spans years rather than months. We all recall the Tories going through a similar scenario in 2001 and 2005, and their eventual solution was to find their own Blair; now Boris will have to be a little more ‘liberal’ and curb some of those typically toxic Tory instincts where the less fortunate are concerned in order to hold onto the Northern seats. The aforementioned stability is the fact that the whole ‘People’s Vote’ campaign is now finally dead in the water as a result of this General Election. Getting Brexit Done is the first pressing issue in Boris Johnson’s in-tray, and though the complex intricacies of the actual process when stripped of its simplistic slogan are something that will probably stretch way beyond his tenure at No.10, the majority his party can now boast will remove the obstacles that a minority administration couldn’t overcome.

There are, of course, other pressing problems closer to home than Europe – namely, Scotland and Northern Ireland – though both are bound-up with the Brexit issue. Thursday proved to be a historic General Election in Ulster, as more Nationalist than Unionist MPs were elected for the first time ever; and, lest we forget, Northern Ireland voted Remain in 2016 along with the Scots. Nicola Sturgeon may have expressed her most visible joy when Jo Swinson lost her seat to the SNP, but the wee one must have been praying for a Tory victory, giving her precisely the springboard to press for yet another ‘once-in-a-generation’ Independence Referendum she desired. But while the SNP may have returned to the dominant position it enjoyed before the blip of 2017, the impression given south of the border that every Scot shares Sturgeon’s fanatical obsession is a bit like saying Nigel Farage speaks for every Englishman. And it is a curiously masochistic situation that a Nationalist party whose entire raison d’être is self-determination should crave continuing subjugation under a union that denies it far more independence than the one it seeks to break free from.

Despite everything else, the fallout from the Labour collapse has served to claim most of the weekend headlines. Jezza himself has apologised for the party’s performance, though is characteristically incapable of acknowledging he and his middle-class Marxist cabal completely misjudged the mood of traditional supporters they regard with thinly-veiled contempt. In many respects, however, his legend as a martyr presiding over two heroic failures will now be secure where the faithful are concerned, having ‘won the argument’. John McDonnell has been largely left to carry the can alone in public – albeit blaming it all on Brexit whilst refraining from wondering aloud why all those voters Corbynistas have spent the past three years labelling thick racist bigots didn’t vote Labour.

Former Labour Minister Caroline Flint, who lost the Don Valley seat she’d held for 22 years, was refreshingly blunt in her appraisal. One of the few prominent Labour voices to oppose the party’s Second Referendum stance, Flint didn’t mince her words on the failure of leadership, let alone certain members of the Labour frontbench, namely Thornberry and Starmer. Her belief that replacing Corbyn with any of the Champagne Socialists who formulated the party’s disastrous Europe policy would extend Labour’s wilderness years long past the next Election is something many observers would find difficult to dispute. Yes, the expected blame game is well underway for Labour, though it would be unwise to take a leaf out of the US Democrats’ book by diverting all energies into a ‘Not my Prime Minister’ protest for the next four years, rather than finding the right woman to take Boris on.

It goes without saying that the Momentum bloc are not going to simply relinquish their grip on the party overnight just because their man led Labour to its worst electoral result since before the Second World War; and the rules governing Labour leadership elections are now weighed heavily in favour of Corbyn candidates. Electing a ‘Corbyn without a beard’ candidate (as Caroline Flint put it) would not improve the party’s chances of being returned to office; but there has always been a large section of the Labour Party that prefers being in opposition, anyway – almost as though being in government was ‘selling out’ – and Jezza, along with those that now control the party, is typical of this mindset.

With his humourless, funereal drabness and pious, lacklustre demeanour, he never really looked like a man who wanted to be Prime Minister. By contrast, Boris has never hidden his ravenous ambition; like Liverpool FC kicking-off the season with eyes firmly fixed on the prize, he was determined to be crowned champion and went for it. It’s too easy to evoke Cavaliers and Roundheads, but it fits. Perhaps, after such a miserable decade, the public didn’t want their misery mirrored in their potential Prime Minister; perhaps they wanted someone to come along and gee them up with larger-than-life bluster. As a result, the public have therefore given Boris one hell of a mandate; and now is the time for the man to finally show what he’s (politically) made of. If he blows it, he’ll have confirmed everything his critics have always said about him, and the country will proceed along the downward trajectory it’s been on since 2008. We can certainly do without that, but the jury could be out for quite some time.

© The Editor


Anger when it emanates from someone we’re not used to seeing express it can be a remarkable spectacle. Accustomed to former Labour Cabinet Minister Alan Johnson playing the avuncular sidekick to Michael Portillo on ‘This Week’, it was wonderfully unexpected during ITV’s General Election coverage last night to witness Johnson erupt as he was sat next to Jon Lansman, founder of Momentum. ‘The working-classes have always been a big disappointment to Jon and his cult,’ said Johnson. ‘Corbyn was a disaster on the doorstep. Everyone knew he couldn’t lead the working-class out of a paper bag.’ Johnson kept his composure, but his fury was unmistakable. ‘I want them out of the party,’ he said. ‘I want Momentum gone. Go back to your student politics.’ Words well and truly un-minced, Johnson added – ‘The most disastrous result for the Labour Party, the worst result since 1935 – people like Jon and his pals will never admit this, but they have messed-up completely; and it’s our communities that are going to pay for that. I feel really angry about this – that we persevered with Corbyn for this experiment of back-to-the-future.’

During the darkest days of Theresa May’s premiership, it seemed Brexit was destined to destroy the Conservative Party, yet it is now clear that it has contributed more towards the destruction of the Labour Party. The result of the 2016 EU Referendum was the worst thing that could have happened to Corbyn’s Labour; the fact that so many diehard Labour areas of the country voted Leave completely contradicted the stance of Jezza and his London-based team, highlighting an uncomfortable truth Labour had turned a blind eye to even before Corbyn seized control – that the PLP and the old Labour heartlands had become completely incompatible. This was a divide that widened even further once the Labour Party fell under the control of middle-class revolutionaries, or what the Guardian (no less) has labelled ‘the sectarian left’.

Not only did the Referendum result further alienate the provincial party faithful from the Corbynistas; it exposed the ‘Champagne Socialism’ of the anti-Corbyn faction within Labour ranks as equally detached from the concerns of traditional Labour voters – none more so than the opportunistic, party-hopping Chuka Umunna, whose eviction from the political landscape was one of the undoubted highlights of the evening. Smarmy Umunna was perhaps the ultimate embodiment of the arrogance and sneering contempt for the electorate that has been displayed at Westminster over the last couple of years.

For Umunna and his allies, the result of the 2016 EU Referendum was such a seismic shock to their unchallenged righteousness and superior sense of entitlement that their only way of dealing with it was to pretend it never happened. How many times have we been told of late that the electorate – including ‘many of those who voted Leave’ – were ‘coming round to our way of thinking’? Umunna, Soubry and the rest reacted to Brexit like a tone-deaf contestant on a talent show being told he cannot hold a note; a shake of the head, a refusal to accept the facts. ‘No,’ says the man confronted by Cowell. ‘You’re wrong. I’ll have a million-selling record to my name one day – or maybe I’ll become Prime Minister.’

And on and on they went – throwing down obstacle after obstacle in the way of May and Boris after promising to honour the referendum result on re-election in 2017, recruiting the wealthy businesswoman Gina Miller to try and thwart the Brexit process in the courts, proposing a People’s Vote, crossing the floor of the House to form a Remoaner alliance and eventually announcing their aim to scrap Brexit altogether. Those who suspected not all Leave voters might have changed their minds and fallen into line with the Remainer consensus didn’t want a General Election because they had an inkling of what could happen; most of those promptly declared their decision to stand down once the Election was announced.

Those unable to see beyond their unshakable, delusional, narcissistic egos fought on, somehow imagining the proles would by now have seen the error of their ways and would reject Brexit altogether. Jo Swinson seemed to epitomise this attitude better (or worse) than anyone else, and now she has paid the price for her blinkered refusal to accept not everyone thinks overturning a mandate delivered by 17.4 million members of the electorate is fair play. At least when Nick Clegg lost his seat in 2017, he’d already quit as leader; Swinson didn’t even have that option, becoming the first sitting leader of a major party to lose her seat at a General Election since the Liberals’ Archibald Sinclair in 1945; and now her party is only three seats better off than after the wipeout of 2015. The heady days of Charles Kennedy seem a very long time ago indeed.

Swinson’s ousting is as emblematic of the gaping chasm between how Westminster Village sees the rest of the country and how that perspective works the other way round as Labour’s decimation. The result of this General Election is also a comprehensive rejection of the Woke/Identity Politics agenda propagated by both Labour and the Lib Dems. Because the majority of its promoters are encased in a London bubble and are over-represented in media circles, they cannot comprehend it means Jack Shit outside the more privileged corners of the capital. Even when venturing beyond its London comfort zone, Corbyn’s Labour focused exclusively on the big ‘metropolitan’ cities made in London’s image and utterly ignored the former industrial towns that had loyally seen the party through many a lean decade. Hiring Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan to further remind the plebs that they didn’t know what they were doing in 2016 was a suicidal move that nevertheless reiterated the regressive left’s utter inability to understand the mood of the nation as a whole.

Yes, there are many millions in the country who have suffered under a decade of Tory rule – and I’ve no doubt their suffering will be extended as a consequence of this General Election; but whose fault is that? Is the fact that the Conservative Party have just scored their biggest victory since 1987 a vote of confidence in Tory policies or a wholesale rejection of a pitiful opposition that had dozens of open goals to capitalise on yet shot the ball over the bar or hit the post on every f***ing occasion? Labour’s better-than-expected 2017 campaign was achieved on the back of promises to implement the decision of 2016; and Labour Leavers have spent the last two years watching their party wilfully prevent that decision being implemented.

The collapse of the so-called ‘Red Wall’ in the Midlands and the North wasn’t remotely surprising; seats it was once unimaginable ever turning blue, such as Sedgefield, Bolsover, Workington, Blyth Valley et al, have all fallen into Tory hands, yet they’ve been Labour in name only for a long time. If the US Democrats are responsible for Donald Trump, responsibility for the man who can now look forward to at least four more years as the tenant of No.10 lies with the Labour Party, the Lib Dems, Change UK, and all the independents who failed to win back seats they held before reneging on their promises and quitting their parties. But hey, if you sow it, you reap it.

© The Editor


Talk about false dawns. Those invigorating in-between times – those by-elections and local elections and European elections – always fool us into believing they’re the harbingers of political earthquakes rocking the foundations of the two major parties; and yet, the real threat to the red and blue corners’ century-old monopoly of power, if it comes at all, tends to come from within rather than without. The Labour and Conservative Parties are more than capable of destroying themselves without any assistance from outsiders. Give them the exclusive right to elect their respective leaders and look what happens. Having said that, however, their joint ability to overcome these internal disasters is either a tribute to their admirable capacity for survival or a damning indictment of not only the other parties snapping at their heels, but the first-past-the-post system – and possibly even the electorate itself.

Two and-a-half years ago, pre-General Election talk was of the death of two-party politics; come polling day, the nation chose to give Labour and the Tories the biggest share of the vote they’d had since 1970. This time round, pre-General Election talk was of the death of two-party politics; and now, just days away from polling day, all focus has shifted back to the usual suspects. The first half of this year was dominated by the formation of TIG and the overnight Euro success of the Brexit Party, yet as we approach its end all talk of a major break with the old politics seems as deluded as putting money on an unlikely club winning the Premier League simply because they topped the table after the opening weekend of fixtures. Regardless of unrealisable spending plans, anti-Semitism or born-to-rule arrogance, like the Old Firm poised to do battle in today’s Scottish League Cup Final, it’s the same teams playing for the trophy once more, with everyone else relegated back to making up the numbers.

Naturally, nobody was expecting anyone other than Boris or Jezza as PM from the kick-off; but perhaps the unique, if unenlightening, head-to-heads the pair have taken part in on TV have served to remind voters that when it comes to deciding who runs the country there’s only ever a choice between two – even if the two on offer are the worst two in living memory. The quick-fire format of those debates doesn’t promise much more than the enticing prospect of a heated argument to make for good television, anyway; even if the electorate had faith in either man, it’s doubtful watching such a programme would make up the mind of a floating voter. Viewers come away remembering Jezza’s wonky glasses or the laughter greeting Boris’s theories on trust in politics – whereas ‘the message’ is lost somewhere along the way, buried beneath instantly forgettable catch-phrases and vapid sound-bites.

Lest we forget, one issue continues to dominate discourse, and I suspect without it the Tories would be toast, even up against such an unpopular opposition; the Brexit factor will save their skin, for when Leavers look around and are confronted by wall-to-wall Remainers, there’s only one party that can (in theory) ‘get Brexit done’ – and that won’t be Nigel’s barmy army, something even he acknowledged when announcing his decision to pull out of several seats where his party’s presence could split the vote. On the eve of the campaign, the Leave/Remain votes appeared to be spread evenly, yet the defection of four prominent (ish) Brexit MEPs to the Tory cause last week suggests most Leave voters will probably back Boris; similarly, the Remainers now seem to be favouring Labour more than the early frontrunners for the pro-EU vote, the Lib Dems. And so, the traditional equilibrium is restored just in time for polling day.

Outside of General Elections, it’s as if the electorate are a philandering husband who repeatedly tells his Lib Dem and Brexit Party bits-on-the-side he loves them and will definitely leave his wife for them; then, as soon as a General Election is called and the reality of the gamble hits, he heads back home to the familiar certainty of the marital bed. Characteristically overconfident, premature bravado on the part of Jo Swinson having now been quietly swept under a carpet once belonging to David Steel, the Lib Dems have slipped back to recognising their realistic place in the scheme of things; as with both the SNP and DUP, they can cling to the possibility their presence might count for something in the event of a Hung Parliament; but that’s the best they can hope for.

If the smaller parties serve any purpose beyond their own interests, one could say they exist to give the big two a rejuvenating kick up the arse; any by-election drift away is swiftly addressed as the factors that tempted previously loyal voters to look elsewhere are absorbed into the Labour and Tory machines, luring the faithful back home. It happened way back in the early 60s, most dramatically at the Orpington By-Election of 1962; the appeal of Eric Lubbock and the Liberal Party to the red-brick graduates was noted by Harold Wilson when he took charge of the Labour Party a year later, wooing the Liberal voters by presenting Labour as the only modern, dynamic alternative to the Conservatives – and the only party capable of ousting them from office. And what did the Tories do when the likelihood of haemorrhaging votes to Farage on the biggest stage of all threatened to scupper their chances of victory? They allowed the ERG wing to take control and Boris purged the party of dissenting voices, thus presenting themselves as the ‘real’ Brexit Party come this Thursday.

Corbyn’s cabal have taken a similar path by forcing moderates out of the Labour Party and ensuring all new recruits are loyal to the leader’s vision, though Labour don’t have a Brexit-like issue that will attract the floaters, regardless of how much everyone professes to love the NHS. The big two are now controlled by what used to be their respective lunatic fringes – and if it wasn’t for the good fortune of all the other parties promoting the Remain cause, the Tories would be as buggered as the opposition. But what of those who voted for Tony Blair in 1997, 2001 and 2005 – or even David Cameron in 2010? Where do they go now? Even the traditional welcoming harbour for voters lost at sea – the Lib Dems – have undoubtedly been tarnished by having a crack at their own version of extremism; and they’ve left it too late to repair the damage and offer the usual bed-for-the-night to the politically homeless .

It’s hard to see any ‘good’ outcome to come here; whoever is declared winner on Friday or spends next weekend cobbling together a coalition, it’s nothing to look forward to. Whichever candidate receives my cross next to their name on Thursday, there’s no way I’ll be able to walk out of that polling station without feeling an overwhelming sense of shame and embarrassment having momentarily endorsed a party boasting more I vehemently disagree with than agree with. There’s no pride in 2019.

© The Editor


The (now) late Jonathan Miller, when appearing in the seminal satirical revue ‘Beyond the Fringe’ in the early 60s, refuted assumptions he was a Jew. ‘I’m not actually a Jew,’ he declared. ‘I’m just a bit Jew-ish.’ That the multitalented Dr Miller should pass away whilst anti-Semitism continues to hog headlines at the expense of the Labour Party is, I guess, just one of those serendipitous things; but as far as timing goes, it’s pretty good. By the time I got round to watching Andrew Neil’s grilling of Mr Corbyn on the iPlayer earlier today, I’d already been given advance previews of what to expect courtesy of Twitter. To be honest, I quickly became as bored with it as a viewing experience as Jezza appeared to be in his role of interviewee. Even after four years as Leader of the Opposition, he still doesn’t look comfortable in an environment he should be used to in 2019. Stick him on a stage before a crowd protesting about something or other and he’s in his element, of course; but that’s traditionally a treat for backbenchers unaccustomed to being noticed; he should have grown out of that by now.

I don’t think I can ever recall a party in government so ready for the taking being so let off the hook by an opposition. The eccentric charm that got Boris by for a good few years, even enabling him to be twice elected Mayor of London, evaporated as soon as Theresa May made him Foreign Secretary and exposed him as a character entirely unsuited for high office; like most, I suspect that was the then-PM’s plan. But what must Mrs May have felt when her own shortcomings were to play their part in promoting him to her job within three years? One could reasonably argue she was as wrong in that post as her successor, yet here we are – on the hustings with a Prime Minister disliked and distrusted by the majority of the electorate, and he’s comfortably ahead in the polls.

Whilst not quite approaching the level of intense, vitriolic hatred in voters that the Trump/Clinton clash of 2016 provoked, the choice of Boris or Jezza – and, let’s face it, the keys to No.10 won’t be falling into the hands of anyone else – is in its own way as dispiriting an advert for the political process as we’ve ever seen in this country. The usual scaremongering on the part of right-wing tabloids in relation to what Corbyn would do if elected is familiar enough; indeed, looking back just four short years ago (yes, hard to believe that’s all 2015 was), it seems baffling now that a moderate like Ed Miliband was being sold in some quarters as a virtual Dave Spart figure. Corbyn’s past is far more of an open goal for those who delight in such things, yet even that isn’t the main cause of the despondency his candidacy inspires.

There have been past General Elections in which an unpopular PM seemed pretty much odds-on to lose office and the contender appeared highly likely to sweep to victory. 1997 is a good (relatively recent) example; I imagine many voters voted for Blair that year because they genuinely believed in both him and his party as an instrument of long-overdue change – and that includes Middle England Tories and Essex Man. Outside of the devoted faithful, however, it’s hard to believe that anyone will feel the same in 2019 about the current Labour Party and its incumbent leader. So many who do vote Labour this time round will probably do so either out of an unshakable antipathy towards the Tories or because they view Labour as the lesser of two evils. It’s hardly a unique situation, but to vote for a party not because you believe in them, but because they’re not quite as shit as the alternative, is almost enough to prompt one into abstention.

It’s difficult to picture what more the Conservative Party could possibly do to alienate voters and have them booted out of office by Friday 13th December. The blunders of Rees-Mogg and Cleverly when the campaign had barely kicked-off, the unbecoming (as Prince Andrew would say) attitude of Dominic Raab towards the parents of the young man killed by a runaway citing diplomatic immunity, ongoing accusations of institutionalised Islamophobia, the appalling state of the NHS, the broken promises over housing, the increasing influence of the ERG, Gove appropriating Stormzy lyrics – and then Boris ‘Get Brexit Done’ Johnson himself. I mean, what more ammunition does the Labour Party require to slaughter the Tories? And yet, it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.

Don’t get me wrong – the prospect of Lady Nugee, McDonnell, Abbott and Starmer in positions of power is a frightening one indeed, let alone a dithering glove-puppet like Corbyn with the hand of Seamus Milne up his arse as Prime Minister. But such is the choice awaiting the electorate. Although we’re apparently barely a month away from a completely new decade, the 2010s hasn’t really felt like one – and we’ve been governed by the Tories for all-but five months of this so-called decade. They’ve had ample opportunity to prove things can only get better and have blown it. Their sole legacy is the issue beginning with B that we’re all thoroughly sick to the back teeth of. Nice one, Dave.

I guess, as with the already-present divisions Brexit spectacularly dragged into the spotlight, anti-Semitic sentiments in the Labour Party didn’t just appear overnight. And the leadership has had plenty of time to deal with it, so it can’t complain when the Tories and their media sponsors use it as a weapon against the opposition due to the failure or – maybe more accurately – the disinclination to expunge it once and for all. Again, not much more than four years ago, the party was led by the son of one of its formidable Jewish intellectuals; the Jewish tradition within Labour was something as intrinsic to the party as the Home Counties, blue-rinsed brigade was to the Conservatives. Yet, four years of his successor at the helm and we have the remarkable intervention of the Chief Rabbi calling him and the party out.

All of which doesn’t bode well for whatever kind of future we’ve got to look forward to in the new decade to come. At this moment in time, it’s hard to envisage anything other than a depressing continuation of where we are now, but even worse. The possibility of a Hung Parliament seemed more likely before Jo Swinson bombed on ‘Question Time’ last week, but few can see either a Tory or Labour landslide deciding this Election – and after nine ineffective years in office, the Conservative Party will be (and should be) grateful for any kind of majority the opposition is prepared to hand them.

© The Editor

PS: RIP Clive James too. They’re dropping like bloody flies today.


There’s been a distinct upsurge of activity this past week that has made even the most casual of observers aware it really is that time again – that time when honourable members suddenly cease to treat the electorate with contempt and want to be our friends. After two years of not merely reneging on promises but actively ensuring the major promise made in 2017 was discredited and discarded, there is an abrupt about-turn. For many who were happy to see out another three years tormenting and torturing a castrated administration in the insularity of the Westminster bubble without the need to attend to any actual business, a General Election was what they most dreaded; some reacted by jumping ship; those that remained onboard now have no choice but to submit to the firing squad and hope the bullets miss.

Both leaders of the main two parties have seen to it that their respective broad churches will now only contain an increasingly narrow congregation; many of the enemies within have opted out, and the approved replacements sing from a specific hymn-sheet. All Tory wannabes must be Brexiteers; all Labour wannabes must receive the official Momentum stamp as subscribers to the cult of Corbyn. Any deviation from the script will no longer be tolerated. Both Boris and Jezza have concluded that incessant questioning of their visions from the ranks of their own parties has been an inconvenient hindrance to the master-plan. Yes, the Lib Dems have benefitted from this Stalinist approach to internal criticism, but it seems the next Parliament could possibly contain a record number of independents no longer welcome in their former homes thanks to the purges. One might wonder why they don’t form a new party and…oh, I forgot; they’ve already had a go at that.

The undeniable feeling that the campaign is now well and truly underway has been accelerated by the television debates of the last seven days. The first head-to-head on ITV was unique in that it gave us something British viewers have never seen before – the Tory leader and Labour leader alone, bereft of the little siblings demanding the same level of attention. But the constrained nature of the format, cramming everything into a time slot that can’t have amounted to much more than fifty minutes if one takes the two ad breaks into account, didn’t do either man any favours.

Whenever both Boris and Jezza appeared poised to either expose their inadequacies or emphasise their Prime Ministerial credentials, the host would cut them short and move on to another question. Granted, the incumbent PM attempted to overcome this by engaging in his regular habit of continuing to speak even when asked to stop, but it meant the viewer came away from it no better informed than they were before it began. Boris seems to have adopted ‘Get Brexit Done’ as his equivalent of ‘Strong and Stable’, whereas Jezza dodged the question of where he would stand in the event of a second referendum on each occasion. There were also uncomfortable moments when both men inadvertently provoked laughter from the studio audience. The only impression most watching at home probably received was how poorly-served the electorate is when it comes to the party leaders.

A similar impression must have been made following the special edition of ‘Question Time’ on Friday, when the franchise was extended to the Lib Dems and the SNP. The latter was an obvious inclusion if we are to be reminded this is a nationwide Election and not solely restricted to England; but the presence of Nicola Sturgeon is always a tricky issue. The SNP are not a nationwide party. Sturgeon may well be queen of her own castle, yet voters south of the border cannot vote for her or anyone standing for her party. Nevertheless, as a seasoned campaigner, Sturgeon was probably the most polished performer during the QT debate; she was also probably relieved that enough years have passed since she succeeded Alex Salmond, thus sparing the party the kind of curse that the private life of Jeremy Thorpe placed upon the Liberals for years. Ultimately, however, it matters not if Sturgeon impresses viewers in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, for her message is largely irrelevant outside of Scotland – with the exception of any under-the-counter deals done in the possible event of a Hung Parliament.

Boris and Jezza had a little more breathing space in this debate than they’d enjoyed in the first; the two-hour timeslot meant each leader had thirty minutes to sell their respective parties to the public. This campaign so far has been marked by the PM attempting to come across as a serious statesman – something he spectacularly failed to do during his stint at the Foreign Office; but he’s clearly struggling to play the straight man after successfully playing the clown for so long, and were the Tories not in possession of such a comfortable lead in the polls, the thought that party members might just have elected the wrong leader could be putting them through what Labour members went through in 2015.

Jeremy Corbyn at least finally came down off the fence and declared he would be ‘neutral’ should Labour get into office and rerun a scenario we’ve spent the last three and-a-half years languishing in the miserable shadow of. We all know where his true feelings regarding Brussels lie; but his dithering over this particular issue and doomed, deluded hope that he can appeal to enough voters beyond the faithful to form a majority Government could cost him more than any ineffective TV appearances.

And talking of ineffective TV appearances, the QT debate will perhaps best be remembered for the way in which it finally exposed Jo Swinson to the British public as the clueless charlatan she is. If Nick Clegg momentarily charmed an electorate tired of Labour and mistrustful of the Tories back in 2010, this Lib Dem leader couldn’t even manage to convince in the half-hour she held the platform. Perhaps imagining her relatively recent election as the bright young replacement for an old dodderer might airbrush her part in the worst austerity excesses of the Coalition, Swinson hadn’t bargained that both host and audience hadn’t forgotten. She struggled to justify her actions when confronted by them, and equally struggled to justify the anti-democratic intention of cancelling out the votes of 17.4 million members of the electorate.

After raising their profile by moving from a People’s Vote policy to an all-out ‘Scrap Brexit’ mantra, the Lib Dems are now beginning to realise not everyone sick of the Brexit saga necessarily believes we should just act as if the last three and-a-half years never happened; many believe that concluding we went through all that for nothing isn’t that great a strategy. There has to be something at the end of it. Jo Swinson’s sixth-former-at-the-debating-society delivery and unconvincing arguments just made her look out of her depth, and quite possibly condemned the Lib Dems to collecting not many more seats than they have already.

Away from the TV debates, the manifesto fairy stories are tumbling down from the magic money trees like bird droppings from branch to bonnet. For now, the parties are Lucy inviting Charlie Brown to kick the football and promising not to move it before his foot makes contact. But we all know they will move it; and we all know we’ll end up flat on our backs. Good grief.

© The Editor


I suppose it could be viewed as a subconscious purchase, for the timing of it certainly wasn’t consciously intentional. Mind you, a 1976 drama about an aspiring Labour MP from the far left of the party is undoubtedly a fascinating near-factual snapshot of times that continue to resonate down the decades. The drama in question is called ‘Bill Brand’ and it aired on ITV at the beginning of the Long Hot Summer we all remember (if we’re old enough). It stars Leeds-born Jack Shepherd, an intense actor whose face is as familiar to those who binge on 70s TV via DVD as most of the supporting cast of what I’ve found to be pretty compulsive viewing.

The title character (played by Shepherd) is a principled, committed socialist of the old school at a time before it was regarded as such. I guess he has more than a touch of how I imagine a young Dennis Skinner might have been, but it’s also tempting to speculate this is a series that could well have been must-see TV for a certain Comrade Corbyn back in the day. Actually, this is a series in which grown men address each other as Comrade or Brother and manage to keep a straight face; it’s easy to forget this was a common courtesy within great swathes of the Labour Party when the programme was produced. It just sounds vaguely comical now.

Brand is from working-class, back-to-back Manchester stock, and I suppose represents that first generation which benefitted from the educational reforms of the Attlee administration. It’s made clear he made it to university, and is evidently a scholar of socialism committed to ‘the struggle’. His commitment to the cause isn’t paralleled in his somewhat messy private life, however; separated from his wife and two young children, Brand is shacked-up with his right-on girlfriend (played by a young Cherie Lunghi), who is rather amusingly called Alex Ferguson. His relationship with her is kept quiet during the by-election campaign that puts him in Parliament, something that serves as a reminder of how ‘living in sin’ was still frowned upon by the middle-aged and elderly members of the electorate Brand has to charm.

Once he makes it to Westminster, Brand is confronted by the disappointing realities of a Labour Government when seen from the perspective of radical lefties from the provinces. The series features a gallery of characters that are thinly-veiled portrayals of prominent Labour Ministers of the era, including Michael Foot, Barbara Castle and Roy Jenkins. There is also a memorable one-episode turn by Arthur Lowe as a Harold Wilson-like Prime Minister name of Arthur Watson. As someone who was addicted to ‘Our Friends in the North’, Peter Flannery’s landmark 1996 BBC series, I immediately realised the character played by Arthur Lowe in ‘Bill Brand’ shares it with another ageing Labour MP in Flannery’s epic, implying he too was a viewer twenty years earlier.

It’s interesting to see Nigel Hawthorne briefly appear as a pre-Sir Humphrey civil servant, for as with the authors of ‘Yes Minister’, it’s hard not to conclude that the writer of ‘Bill Brand’, Trevor Griffiths, must have had the assistance of an ‘insider’ or at least a few former insiders when researching the series. The way in which we are educated in the Westminster Dark Arts by seeing them through Bill’s wide eyes seems a pretty accurate portrayal of how a fresh honourable member would encounter the compromises and mutual back-scratching that make the whole institution function. It’s also a sobering insight into how so many newly-elected MPs who arrive in the Commons with such high hopes of changing the world are quickly battered into submission by the system.

The often-humiliating rounds of constituency politics – judging beauty contests, opening shopping centres etc. – are familiar enough to anyone who’s ever caught regional media; but the detailed dullness of parliamentary committees and so forth are represented in a manner characteristic of 70s TV drama – i.e. long, drawn-out scenes that nevertheless suggest a level of realism at odds with the quick-fire cutting of contemporary television. To begin with, Brand makes enemies of some fairly sinister and cynical whips, especially when he has yet to curb his habit of siding with ‘the workers’, such as when he publicly supports a strike at a textile factory; but as the series progresses, his rapid awareness of his own impotence fuels his disillusionment.

Considering ‘Bill Brand’ began its eleven-episode one series-run just three months after the surprise resignation of Harold Wilson, it’s amazing that one of the major storylines in the series concerns the surprise resignation of the Prime Minister and the battle between left and right to control the Party. In reality, Michael Foot lost out to Jim Callaghan and Roy Jenkins was eliminated from the contest in the early rounds; in ‘Bill Brand’, it is the Jenkins character who ultimately triumphs – though I would imagine many fancied Jenkins to succeed Wilson at the time the series was written. As I haven’t finished watching the complete series yet, I don’t know how it ends for Bill, though I have a feeling he doesn’t go on to eventually become Labour leader.

As a period piece, there are some aspects that inevitably date it. The working-men’s club network in which each major political party had its own members-only drinking dens – something that once thrived throughout working-class communities and survived well into my own childhood – is represented in the constituency scenes, mainly by mild-supping, gruff old northerners in flat caps. Although Bill is progressive by the standards of the 70s, he treats his wife fairly appallingly and his proto-PC opinions are regularly tested by the archaic values his background drilled into him. However, there are uncanny echoes in the series that have a relevance to 2019 – especially the constant emphasis on the dire economic situation and the crisis the country is in, not to mention the jaded cynicism of voters towards their elected representatives.

Bill’s ‘brand’ of socialism probably seemed hopelessly naive even when the series was made, and the fact that the wider electorate outside of idealistic Labour activists didn’t believe in it then inevitably forces today’s viewer to ponder on the aims and ambitions of the current Labour Party. It doesn’t take a great leap of the imagination to see Jeremy Corbyn as the real-life equivalent of Bill Brand 40-odd years on; I suspect Bill in Jezza’s shoes would also have stuck rigidly to principles that hadn’t altered in four decades, even if the prospect of power had forced him to keep schtum on some (membership of the EU, for example). As a fascinating barely-fictional slice of 70s political life, ‘Bill Brand’ is worth investing in for those who like that sort of thing; as a comparison between then and now, I can’t think of a better time to watch it.

© The Editor


If the trio of topics advisable to avoid in polite conversation are religion, football and politics, I haven’t got it as easy as I imagined. Most people I know are agnostic at best and atheist at worst (too secure in their convictions to convince), so faith is a bit of a conversational dead-end. Few of my acquaintances follow the beautiful game, so I tend to watch ‘Match of the Day’ alone and enact the time-honoured tradition of shouting obscenities at a referee who cannot hear me – which, in the absence of company, somehow seems even sadder. When it comes to politics, however, failing to fall in line with whichever consensus one’s peer group advocates can be tricky; and nothing galvanises opinion quite like a General Election, even if the spirit of Brenda from Bristol hovers over events like the Ghost of Christmas Past – the Christmas Past in question being 1923.

It’s probably best not to use 1923 as an optimistic example of how the festive hustings can result in a positive outcome. That December’s General Election ended in a Hung Parliament. Conservative Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin had succeeded the ill Andrew Bonar Law in the summer, and though the Tories had won the General Election held just the previous year, Baldwin sought his own mandate and sent the country to the polls prematurely. What is it about Tory PMs and snap elections? Baldwin found, like Ted Heath and Theresa May long after him, the confidence that comes from a comfortable majority can be fatal at the ballot-box.

The 1923 General Election was notable for being the last occasion in which a third party gained over 100 seats. That party was Asquith’s Liberals, who ended with a tally of 158; in second place was Ramsay MacDonald’s Labour Party, with 191; the Tories managed 258 – a long way from the 308 then needed for a majority. When Parliament resumed after the Christmas break, Baldwin intended to stay in power with anticipated Liberal support; however, the Liberals conspired with Labour to reject that January’s King’s Speech and helped put Ramsay MacDonald in No.10 as the first Labour Prime Minister. If Boris is as great a scholar of British political history as he makes out, he must surely be aware of 1923’s ominous precedent. If so, though, he will also know there was another General Election less than a year later; that time round, Baldwin regained the Tories’ lost majority and was re-elected on two further occasions.

What any of this tells us about what awaits us not much more than a month from now is open to question. But the campaign is already well underway on social media, with all kinds of doom ‘n’ gloom predictions being aired if voters opt for the ‘wrong’ party. The most excited-looking of all the party leaders right now is undoubtedly Jeremy Corbyn; despite the reservations of many of his MPs – who were enjoying toying with a weak and depleted Government (and would have been content to carry on doing so) – Jezza will relish being back in his element, preaching to the converted and punching his fist in the air. He has always been a politician of protest, and never appears entirely at ease at the dispatch-box when he’d much rather be on a stage stating what he’s against. And Corbynistas seem to be doing likewise via Facebook, Twitter and the rest – making the most of their favourite sport. When they’d spent what felt like forever calling for Cameron to quit, their muted deflation when he suddenly walked in 2016 was telling. The fun is in the protesting.

Naturally, divisions within the electorate are more prevalent now than they have perhaps been in more recent General Elections; lest we forget, last time round the two main parties enjoyed their biggest share of the vote since 1970, seemingly marking a return to the duopoly of power that Labour and the Tories traditionally enjoyed. In the last couple of years, however, divisions have transcended the old left/right-red/blue divide for obvious reasons; but this schism in the voting population is maybe a mirror on the way Westminster itself is split, for the political class was never truly divided by party, certainly not in the way Brexit has drawn up battle-lines. Any MP bemoaning the disintegration of parliamentary harmony is giving away the fact that the Commons was relatively harmonious even when daggers were supposedly drawn between government and opposition of whatever colour – and that contradicts the narrative pedalled to the electorate for as far back as anyone can remember. They’re not too keen on actual disharmony in the Palace of Westminster, but disharmony ‘out there’ is good for business.

The old ‘divide and rule’ principle works well for the political class. To concoct a hypothetical – and perhaps obvious – example, take a mixed, low-income neighbourhood; should those living there realise poverty is colour blind and their common ground could be utilised as a weapon, this realisation poses a threat to the powers-that-be. So, better to fracture potential unity and separate them – either literally or through media channels; therefore, the poor white residents can blame the ‘immigrants’ for their predicament and the other side can claim to be victims of a white privilege conspiracy to oppress them. All energies go into hating the false enemy and the upholders of the system that keeps them in their place and prevents them from rising up as one are secure.

This principle could be equally applied to any source of perceived division within society – black/white, male/female, Jewish/Muslim, Catholic/Protestant, Leave/Remain – and most of these divisions are largely illusory. The only factor that divides any of us is class; same as it ever was. If there is an Us and there is a Them, the Them are the political class, not our neighbours; they’ve got the same shit to deal with as we have; and that’s what should unite us. Yes, nothing new about this theory, I agree; but it’s always worth remembering, especially at times like these, when division puts politician’s bums on seats.

Having said that, we have to vote for somebody, and the pressure on the voter is fairly intense in 2019 – does he or she stick with traditional party loyalties or throw caution to the wind by choosing whichever party advocates their own stance on Brexit? With so many different permutations in the offing once polls close, this is not an easy decision; going either way in the polling booth could result in the least desired outcome. Boris has been using that one as a response to Farage’s threat to field candidates in every constituency – whereas Jezza appears curiously oblivious to the serious encroachment of both Brexit Party and Lib Dems into Labour territory. And another factor that cannot be ignored where the voter is concerned is the absolute paucity of inspiring leadership. It’s utterly appalling. Never before have the stakes been so high and the options so bloody pitiful. It’s going to be quite a month.

© The Editor


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