This post is fictional. The conversation recorded here is pure imagination and did not take place in real life.
MI5 Morning George. It’s time we had a chat about Jeremy Corbyn. Getting serious, I think.
MI6 Do you believe so? Poor ratings. Of course you can do a lot of damage by an ill informed national debate not that he wants to talk about security. What do you think is at risk?
MI5 Well the usual subjects of course.. Trident and our nuclear defense is the obvious issue. A Corbyn led government would cancel Trident.
MI6 If he could. He might not have a majority for that. But poor support for NATO is more real, I think. He would be so busy spending money that he would rat on the 2 percent of GDP. And then we have to think of our own services: lower budgets, of course, but a lack of parliamentary consensus could be very damaging.
MI5 What I fear most is neglect. I can’t imagine Corbyn active on the world stage protecting British interests. I fear ignorance and indifference rather than a plethora of wrong-headed decisions.
M16 You are too complacent. I think we shall have a number of poor judgements some of which could be very serious indeed. Imagine the press conference after a meeting with Putin. ‘ I have expressed my sympathy to the President for his wish to reincorporate territories into the Russian Federation. There are historic claims to the Baltic States and Ukraine that deserve serious consideration. We should all sit down together in friendship and talk about them.’
M15 That’s over larding it I think but I get what you mean. More seriously, what can we do about it?
M16 I could arrange a brain transplant. (laughter)
M15 Don’t tempt me!!
I do not wish to be parochial or small-minded. But the world, at least my world, is behaving in a most peculiar manner. Take Brexit, or don’t take it, from my point of view, very large numbers of British people admitted that they might be worse off if there was a Brexit – but they voted Leave anyway. ‘What do people like us have to lose ‘ they said. Quite a lot actually: your job, higher shop prices, a collapse in annuity values and cancelling the annual holiday to the Costa Brava or some such place. Such warnings were greeted with a shrug. ‘So what’ and ‘they could hardly get worse’. Are you real don’t these things matter any more?
And take Corbyn – I wish you would -and the Labour leadership contest. Owen Smith has made himself as close to an identikit candidate as he could (excepting devising a way to stay in the EU and renewing Trident, that I admit from my point of view are extremely important). He is well educated, presentable. well-informed, has management experience and the confidence of the Parliamentary Party .Shouldn’t we Labourites give him a majority? The reply:’I agree he is very presentable and would make a good Prime Minister.but I intend to stay with Jeremy.’ Why doesn’t he agree with me?
Look at the Corbyn closely, listen to his speech, imagine him representing Britain at an international conference (no placards allowed) or mastering a complex document at No 10?You can imagine him doing these things??? Congratulations for it is quite an achievement.
‘Don’t worry. It will never happen.’ I hear you say. Are you really content with a Conservative Government as far as the eye can see. ‘What will be, will be.’ I hear you say.’I doubt if it will make much difference.’
Wake up, wake up, wake up!
Filed under Alistair Campbell, Boris Johnson, Commons, Europe, Guardian, House of Commons, Jeremy Corbyn, John Martin, Labour leadership, Labour List, Larisa Martin, Liberal Voice, Momentum, New Stateman, Politics, Referendum, Uncategorized, Unemployment
The news has got about that Boris, Liam and David are despondent about the prospects for exciting new trade agreements made possible by Brexit. Disentanglement from Europe is far more complex than they thought and – to be frank- the whole process could take up to ten years. On their journeys around the world other governments have appeared pained and confused. ‘What is it that you Brits want?’ is their complaint and answers there are none.
I want to be helpful. Indeed we should all enter into this task of becoming a world power again in a helpful frame of mind. There is much to be done. Have our negotiators thought about the Pacific Islands? I guess not.
I have a suggestion. Don’t laugh I want you to take the suggestion seriously. I suggest that the Foreign Office has not prioritised the Pacific Islands. Did you know that their are some 25,000 islands in the Pacific with a total population of 40 million people? Impressive isn’t it. Of course since the days of the British Empire other countries have muscled in: Australia , Indonesia and the United States, in particular, and the EU and the Commonwealth have been active. We used to play a big role in the Pacific . People would joke about our gunboat diplomacy. (They can’t do that now of course. I was distressed to learn that all Britain’s modern warships are in dockyards awaiting repairs. Shameful!).
I appeal in particular to Boris. The Pacific is a wonderful area to take holidays with an abundance of fine beaches and welcoming hotels. What better than to spend several months in the Pacific Islands each year with friendly people. Exercising due diligence you could invite family and friends to join you. It could be very, very pleasant. Wonderful!
On a more serious note the Pacific Islands are getting their act together and the timing might be good. They have combined to form the Pacific Islands Forum which aims to help the islands develop their economies. We can help, Boris, and they can help us.
Why not look at this way, Boris. If you are going to fail in your mission why not enjoy yourself? Their is no point in spending fruitless time and energy in Canada, shivering in the hotel entrance while waiting for a cab when you could be on the beach of an exotic island. If you are going to fail do it on the veranda of a wonderful hotel on a Pacific island.It is a no brainer.
Filed under BBC, Boris Johnson, Cabinet, Economics, Imperialism, John Martin, Labour Home, Labour List, Labour Party, Larisa Martin, Liam Fox, Liberal Voice, Politics, Sky Sport
Corbynism has entered our political vocabulary. What does it mean? I suggest it means a social movement or cult centered on the Leader of the Labour Party with the objective of changing Labour from its role as a broad church parliamentary party to a social pressure group with parliamentary representation.
Since its foundation in 1918 to the present time Labour has been a parliamentary party supported by a membership at a grassroots level. From time to time these roles have come under pressure but the difficulties have always been resolved in favour of the Parliamentary Party.
In representative democracies, such as our own, it has always been the case from 1688 onwards that sovereignty and right to govern rested with parliament and that policy outcomes were dependent on compromises between interests.
The management of a parliamentary majority has always required great skill and experience and for the most part parliament has attracted individuals of talent with the ability not only to ague a case but to create legislation that will implement political ideals and talent.
It came as a shock to me to realise that Corbynism requires weak leadership. The role of a leader of a social movement is to listen and to articulate the needs of pressure groups. The Leader listens and opposes the establishment on all the main issues of the day as articulated by groups of people who – or so it is said – do not get listened to at the present time.
Corbyn is an ideal person to fulfill this new role. He is certainly weak. My political path has crossed with Corbyn. I was a member of the Hornsey Labour Party of which Corbyn was an organiser and we were both councillors on the Haringey Borougth Counci’ I was not impressed. I do not wish to be unkind. However, consider Jeremy’s qualifications and human characteristics. Corbyn is an intellectual failure: two A level’s with an E grade; a drop out from a university course after 1 year; and a career as an organiser at a humble level?And no management experience other than putting out the milk bottles.Of course, people were not impressed. But there is worse to come. People such as Jeremy feel bitter when they are passed over by others. They become devious, obstinate and they plot. Others object and get rid of him.
His adoring followers are not concerned about that: after all they wish to shape social life in Britain and Jeremy is willing to give voice to them.
I have news for the Corbynistas. Their desires for social change and their methods for bringing change about have many historical parallels.Movements such as these always fail. Weak leaders are swept aside by stronger and more able people. Some of them finish up as undesirable dictators that subvert the social order of free societies and turn them into authoritarian regimes. As Churchill once remarked, ‘Democracy (he meant representative democracy) is a poor form of government. It’s only virtue is that it is better than any other.’
‘The time has come’ the Corbyn said, to talk of other things,
Of protests, flags and demos,
Of Engels, Marx and other friends,
And why the birds have wings.’
The Corbyn thought of many ways
His message to convey,
Of tweets, and leaflets, mail and phones
And calls to Higher Things.
The Limpet, on his slimy rock,
Had gifts to give his friend,
A mighty shell to ward of blows.
A stickyness to stay on post.
And thus their friendship was replete,
The blast of revolution complete
The raging waters that they stirred
Was soundly rooted in the deep.
It may have escaped your attention but a miracle has happened: in a mere 48 hours 180,000 people joined the Labour Party the majority of whom want to vote for Jeremy Corbyn as Leader. To put this in perspective, and to the best of my knowledge, the total membership of the Conservative Party, quarried out over many years of campaigning, is 160,000! If Jeremy Corbyn were to take a brisk walk to the Serpentine this morning many observors would expect him to walk on water. Of course he couldn’t do it but his dream of becoming Prime Minister burns brightly for him – or so he thinks.
In public discourse most people describe their opponents as nice people and the more they recognise disagreeable character traits in others the greater the need to be polite about them . I have crossed paths with Jeremy as a member of the Hornsey Labour Party and a Haringey Borough Councillor. There were many objections to Jeremy in Haringey. He was generally regarded as a person of limited intelligence and management experience who made up for his limitations by devious behaviour. People objected and then finally acted against him.
How can Jeremy’s opponents convey their real objections to him and his supporters? They need to convey to others that they regard him as mediocre and an unsuitable person to lead a major political party in modern Britain. If this were a job application which we have all endured, he wouldn’t be interviewed: poor educational qualifications, no management experience, inability to work with others, personal deficiencies and an inabilty to work with others.
History is littered with successful politicians with Jeremy’s attributes who have ploughed their way to power. It must give Jeremy hope. The issue for the Labour Party can be paraphased. How do good people come to the aid of the party? Is it the wrong time for the talented and the good? God save us all.
We have had a period of Western imperialism running from Iraq to Syria. It has been assumed that centralised control by indiginous minorites should be replaced by those citizens, they are numerous, who wish decades of authoritarianism to be swept aside and a Western stle democracy to take its place. That democracy is best. France, Britain, and the USA assume that it is their duty to help bring this about. The result, the outcome of the Arab spring, has been disastrous and now to echo a phrase, all is quiet on the Western front and it is turmoil, vast suffering and despair in one Arab country or another.
And now we hear nothing about arming rebels and all our efforts and resources are deeployed in supporting humanitarian aid. Of course we should be helping the displaced and the hungry. But that is all we should be doing.
So what comes after. There will surely be no universal outcome but after long periods of sectarian warfare people will become tired and despairing of armed struggle. In one country after another there will be a weary peace as the will to struggle on grinds to a halt. That will be the point at which diplomatic intervention can build something more constructive for despairing people.
Can’t we admit it? At least to ourselves. The Thirty Years war must not be repeated in Arab lands. Surely we have the sense to face up to our limitations. Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel. Surely not! Surely we are not quite scoundrels yet.
We are now entering a critical phase of this electoral cycle: local elections, parliamentary elections, further local elections, the European elections and the Scottish referendum on independance The outcomes of these elections will set the agenda for the next General Election. In this cycle, the fortunes of UKiP will determine the outcome of the General Election So long as UKIP’s standing in national polls is in excess of 10 percent, and it now stands at 13 percent in some polls, the Tories cannot win a General Election and Labour will be handicapped in the drive for a majority at Westminster. It is an easy prediction to make that UKIP is likely to top the Euro polls and at some time during 2014 will be showing, in some national opinion polls, support in the 20’s before a decline as the General Election approaches.
I assume that Scottish voters stay in control of their good senses and will vote No in the Scottish referendum. If so one would expect electoral support for the SNP to decline and a recovery of the Labour vote at Westminster to take place in Scotland. If this occurs then Laboiur would be diffiult to defeat in Westminster elections.
While economic predictions are foolhardy the odds are on poor economic performance up to May 2015. The best the Tories can hope for is slow growth, stable employment and a deficit edging slowly downwards. There will be little prospect of electoral bribes. This being so it is safe to predict that the chance of a Tory majority at the next
General Election are near to zero.
What then are the prospects for the Lib Dems? I do not under-rate the resiliance of the Lib Dems. However, if in the public mind they remain linked to the Tories in Coalition a reasonable prediction is that their parliamntsary position would decline substantially with a loss of 30-40 MPs. It would follow from this that it would be
most unlikely that they could play any part in a national coalition with any other party.
In these circumstances I would expect UKIP to win some Westminster seats at the expense of the Coalition parites but not enought seats to achieve any tactical advantage.
If this analysis is broadly right we would haver had a further shake in the party system that could in some circumstance lead to paralysis. As the economic circumstasnces inherited by a new Labour Government would be difficult if not dire Britain might emerge from the experiment of Coalition in a virtually ungovernable
All this will become clearer to participants and pundits. Will those individuals at the heart of this disaster do nothing? I have never believed that they would behave as rabbits staring into car lights. The Coalitiion will break up and David Cameron could be confronted with a leadership election before May 2015.
Filed under BBC, Cameron, Coalition Government, Conservative Home, Deficit, Economics, Europe, General Election 2015, Labour Blogs, Labour Goverment, Labour Home, Labour Party, Lib Dem blogs, Liberal Voice, Local elections, Nrew Stateman, opinion polls, Parliament, Rerendum, Scotland