Cor-binned

We live in curious times. While the Tory party membership of around 180,000 is currently choosing who will be our next Prime Minister, the opposition is slowly but surely tearing itself into pieces.

This has been a tough few weeks for Jeremy Corbyn. Not only was his name not sung to the tune of Seven Nation Army once at Glastonbury this year, a YouGov poll released last week showed that just 18% of the electorate would vote Labour at a General Election. This is their weakest result in decades.

Add to this the continuing scourge of antisemitism, dangling over the party like a filled-up dog-poo bag in a bush, and it’s hardly surprising that the party’s leaders are all starting to attack one another.

Despite the media’s gaze being fixed intently at Boris Johnson’s procession to No. 10, a far more fascinating leadership race could be emerging.

And this shit is practically Shakespearian.


Laboured Movements

On Wednesday, a Panorama report into antisemitism within the Labour Party will be aired. Former Labour employees, politicians and advisors will speak candidly about alleged attempts by the party to cover up cases of antisemitic abuse carried out by hard-left figures within the party.

These left-wing, anti-Zionist zealots were, for many years, banished to the confines of the fringes of the party – now, under Corbyn’s stewardship, they are in the mainstream.

Corbyn has a team of allies around him that include Jennie Formby (currently absent from politics while she battles cancer – Between the Lines send their hopes for a speedy recovery), Karie Murphy and Seamas Milne. These three names have been centre-stage during the antisemitism controversies, and are rumoured to be behind planned lawsuits against the whistleblowers in the Panorama documentary.

But their vice-like grip on Corbyn appears to be weakening.

They have been largely blamed for Corbyn’s refusal to steer the Labour Party towards favouring a second referendum, something that all but a few Labour MPs are strongly, and vocally, in favour of. Combined with the influence of Eurosceptic Len McCluskey, the General Secretary of Unite the Union (a massive trade union and major Labour Party donor), many Labour MPs are bemoaning the fact that the unelected figures around Corbyn seem to be the ones with the real power.

Pleasing everyone is impossible in politics, but it seems as though Corbyn has been trying to play both sides for too long – something would have to give eventually, and now it finally seems as though it will.


The Death Of Corbyn

In another personal matter, Karie Murphy, the Labour Chief of Staff, has also taken a temporary break from politics following the passing of her mother last week. Her absence seems to have emboldened some of those MPs who have felt shut out by her influence.

Enter Diane Abbott, long-standing Corbyn-supporter and, at one point, lover.

Yes, really.

Abbott reportedly confronted Corbyn this week, as did John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor. Both told him to sack Murphy and Milne, the communications director, and to tack towards a Second Referendum.

And if he didn’t? Mutiny.

Abbott openly challenging her beloved Corbyn like this is akin to Piers Morgan standing in front of a mirror and telling himself not to be such a massive bellend – desperately unlikely, but largely welcomed.

But mutiny may well be on the way whatever Corbyn decides to do. With the antisemitism furore raging, and the upcoming documentary poised to douse the flames with nothing but lighter fluid, Tom Watson, the deputy leader, has done little to hide his posturing for the leadership in recent weeks.

He’s explicitly recruited MPs onside for a potential overthrow, has been a prominent campaigner for a People’s Vote for months and has directly, and publicly, clashed with Formby over the handling of the antisemitism crisis.

However, reports suggest that, for now, he will simply watch the hard-left at the top of the party destroy themselves like a pack of starving hyenas and then just stroll into the top job.

But he isn’t the only one, either – McDonnell himself has been having private meetings with MPs to create a scenario where a centre-left, appealing candidate would take the top job (Sir Keir Starmer, Angela Bailey and Rebecca Long-Bailey have all been touted), but he would remain as Chancellor to maintain his left-of-centre economic policy.

It is starting to look pretty lonely at the top for Corbyn. A principled man but a deeply-flawed politician, opinion polls suggest that most members of the public view him as a pretty feeble leader of the opposition, and it would be hard to argue against them.

In a period where a united party with a coherent strategy would have flattened the Tories by now, he has utterly failed to do his job. The relative success of the 2017 General Election has been marred by antisemitism, confused Brexit strategies and a systematic failure to hold the government to account.

On a day where Sajid David has pledged his support to Boris Johnson, further cementing the inevitable result of him becoming Prime Minister, the Labour Party should be screaming about the dangers of a Johnson government from the rafters.

Instead, they are putting out fires inside their own house. The sooner that Corbyn goes, the better.


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Weekly Wrap-Up – 28/06 – 04/07

HOLD YOUR HORSES EVERYONE, THERE IS NEWS. Imagine CHIC’s ‘Good Times’ playing while you read this next sentence.

The postal vote for the Tory leadership has now OFFICIALLY BEGUN.

Well, this week has been more of the same in the race to become Prime Minister – spending pledges that seem to be plucked out of thin air with no funds to achieve them, in-fighting within the party, and no-deal “willy-waving” (credit: Rachel Sylvester).

Oh, and for anyone who isn’t in the 160,000 or so Conservative Party membership, an overwhelming sense of dread.

So, in the week where Between the Lines has finally shaken off those post-festival blues, let’s cheer ourselves up with a quick update on where we’re up to.


Vote So Simple

We march, loudly and blindly, towards the deadline day where either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt will become the Tory party leader. The competition has become fierce, and not just a little bit vitriolic.

While Johnson remains the overwhelming favourite with the bookies, currently marked at 89% likelihood, there is no denying that the Jeremy “Underdog” Hunt is gaining some kind of momentum.

Boris has consistently dodged and swerved face-to-face interviews, and there are only two currently scheduled to take place (the 9th of July on ITV and on the 15th at an event held by The Sun). These will happen once the vast majority of the Tory members have already voted.

As such, Johnson is being viewed with slightly more mistrust than before – is he really just all style and no substance?

And if so, is that style (namely a fat golden retriever with ADHD) really enough for a Prime Minister to resolve the vast array of divisions within the UK?

Indeed, even within Johnson’s own campaign, some cracks are starting to show. The Times reported today that more centrist, One Nation Tories Boris-supporters are being laughed at behind closed doors by those on the right. ERG-supporters and more deeply right-wing Bojo-backers believe that the modernisers are going to be immediately forgotten about when Boris comes to power.

Take Matt Hancock, for instance. The current Health Secretary is about to bring a green paper to Parliament (i.e. a debate) about whether or not to extend the sugar tax to milkshakes in an attempt to try and stave off the obesity epidemic.

And it is an epidemic – this week it was announced some cancers were now more likely to be caused by obesity than smoking.

But Boris came out against “sin taxes” afterwards, saying that the poorest are hit hardest by them and that there is no data to suggest that they help tackle obesity.

While there is undoubtedly some wisdom to his words and the taxes deserve more scrutiny, he did absolutely steamroller poor little Hancock. The Boris juggernaut stops for no man, even a (supposedly) close ally.


Hunt/ing Ban

Jeremy Hunt, by contrast, today said that he believed that there should be another vote on the hunting ban.

Which makes me think that there shouldn’t be so much a hunting ban as a Hunt ban.

For being such a moron.


Widdecombe Goes William Wallace

If the earlier childishness within the newly-formed EU Parliament this week wasn’t bad enough, Ann Widdecombe waded in today to make things worse.

While the Brexit Party’s turning their backs was pretty standoffish and the Lib-Dems’ “Bollocks to Brexit” t-shirts were absolutely pathetic, Ann Widdecombe today came out and made a speech comparing the UK leaving the EU to slaves uprising against their masters.

Guy Verhofstadt, the EU’s Brexit Co-ordinator, quite succinctly remarked that Widdecombe was giving Nigel Farage “stiff competition as chief clown.” But I don’t think that goes far enough.

Just before I say this, some caveats:

  1. I believe the Brexit Party are doing an important job in representing Leave-voting constituencies in the EU;
  2. I believe that they are, on the whole, doing their jobs and standing up for what they believe in;
  3. I absolutely, categorically, do not hold anything against anyone who voted for the Brexit Party, and nor is the following about anyone but Widdecombe.

But Jesus Christ, just fuck off Ann, you racist, homophobic, rancid turd sausage in an anthrax pastry. Don’t you dare use the emancipation of those who suffered in literal slavery for centuries (millennia, even) to emphasise a point about a first-world country leaving a supranational body through a democratic process.

You don’t understand what you’re talking about, you never have, you never will, and when you’re gone you will be a mere snot stain on a page of our political discourse.

So just fuck off Ann.

You absolute spunk trumpet.

Have a good weekend everyone!


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From Anarchy To Anarchy

Hello everyone! After a brief hiatus, Between the Lines is back in action following the editorial team’s trip to Glastonbury.

…And subsequent recovery period.

Glastonbury is, by many accounts, the best festival in the world, and this writer is inclined to agree. Having been for the last 9 consecutive years (minus the fallow years), for me the festival at Worthy Farm has been, at various points:

  • A joyous celebration of music and arts;
  • A politically-charged, almost revolutionary gathering of like-minded people;
  • A place of solace and comfort;
  • A place to escape reality;
  • And a place to remind yourself of how under-rated sleeping indoors is.

This year was something of all five. Within the confines of Pilton, the phone signal is so notoriously bad that the news is almost forgotten, save for those committed to trudging to the Guardian tent to pick up their papers every morning.

As such, I have essentially sealed myself away from the Tory leadership race for a week now, and perhaps the most depressing thing is that upon my return it seems as though absolutely nothing has changed.

While Glastonbury is unashamedly left-wing, with historical alliances with Billy Bragg and the Labour Party (John McDonnell spoke on the Left-Field Stage this year), it is far more progressive and inclusive than simply being a platform for Red Book Communism. While Corbyn may have been the darling of 2017’s festival, his once-progressive views have been tarnished by the antisemitism nightmare and his stock has fallen dramatically – this year, David Attenborough was the Pyramid Stage’s real headliner.

Some consider it to be a hippy-drippy, kum ba yah, weed-smoking paradise for the oddballs and drifters who don’t want to buy into society. And while there are definitely a few of those knocking around, the vast majority of festival-goers there are normal people who just want to escape the drudgery of the world we live in.

Which is probably why everyone joined in with Stormzy’s lyric, ‘F*ck the government and f*ck Boris’ with such gusto.

But now that the tents have come down (99.3% were taken home this year, despite what The Sun and The Mail will tell you), the glorious sun has retreated behind the clouds and the ciders have worn off, we return to the Tory party leadership race.

My feelings for which can be summed up by the below, which I found next to the Wormhole bar:

IMG_0054.JPG


Jeremy Hunts Down Boris

Little has seemed to have changed in the week that we’ve been away, aside from a few policy points that have been raised here and there by the two candidates vying for the Premiership.

Hunt has seemingly tried to ease back his aversion to a no-deal Brexit, repeating that he would still go for it “with a heavy heart” should no new deal be forthcoming. While not sounding like he’s particularly enthused by it, repeating his commitment to it is important for winning over the Tory party members who are resolved to leaving on October 31st, come hell or high water.

This comes at the same time as Matt Hancock, an unexpected Boris-backer, being lambasted by some senior Tories for following Boris’ “rubbish,” both contenders being criticised for coming up with ludicrous spending policies and the Chancellor, Phillip Hammond, warning that a no-deal Brexit would cost us at least £90bn.

But, ultimately, all of this matters little in the race for become Prime Minister – very few Tory party members will have failed to have decided already, and only a scant few will change their minds. Boris will almost undoubtedly win, and the march towards a no-deal Brexit will begin.

Until Parliament almost certainly blocks it.

More analysis on the leadership race will come tomorrow. When I can face it.


New EU, I Look Just Like Buddy Holly

The first sitting of the newly-elected European Parliament happened earlier this week, and it was just as much of a train-wreck as any Eurosceptics could have hoped for.

During the EU Parliament’s national anthem, Ode To Joy, all of the newly elected Brexit party MEPs turned their backs on the youth orchestra that was playing it. They turned their backs on children.

Children.

But the good news is that the Liberal Democrats, a longstanding political institution with gravitas and a deeper understanding of the seriousness of the current political landscape, afforded the situation the respect it deserved by– Oh no wait hang on they came in wearing bright yellow t-shirts with BOLLOCKS TO BREXIT written on them.

Everyone is going insane.

In other news, we learned that on October the 31st we will have new EU head-honchos!

President of the European Commission:
Jean-Claude Juncker => Ursula von der Leyen

President of the European Council:
Donald Tusk => Charles Michel

President of the European Central Bank:
Mario Draghi => Christine Lagarde

Which means that two out of three head positions will be filled by women (a good thing). However, Ursula von der Leyen is highly pro-the European project, in favour of an EU army, and an advocate for a “United States of Europe” (a bad thing).

Increased integration into Europe was a major factor behind Brexit. Should Brexit not happen (which is a very real threat) von der Leyen’s plans could be disastrous. Additionally, it will go down exceptionally badly within those nations facing populist threats like Italy, France and Hungary.

This could eventually lead to the dissolution of the EU, which even the most ardent of Leave-voters would argue is a bad thing overall.

Take me back to Glastonbury. Let’s sink a cider in the Bimble Inn and wait ’til this all blows over.


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