LABOUR-IOUS PROCESS : The Leadership Race Candidates


Cheeky Nandy’s or KeirFC?

The final five candidates for the Labour leadership race are now confirmed. Not only that, but the window for registering as a Labour supporter is now open, too! This means that for the paltry fee of £25, you can vote for its next leader.

The window closes at 5pm on Thursday. Yes, it’s just a 48-hour window. Politics is for everyone, and all that.

Anyway. Given my recent affiliations with a certain orangey/goldy party, I’m not allowed to register. But any normal voter, unregistered to other parties, is welcome to get involved with the Labour election process!

And if you can afford to, I would heartily recommend you get involved.

We’ve got Prime Minister Burrs Jernsern for 5 years, barring a colossal cock-up. But forming a strong, competent opposition is still vitally important to democracy – holding governments to account is a cornerstone of our political system.

If Corbyn had been able to put up a front that was half as unified Noel and Liam Gallagher he may well have beaten the Tories.

Instead, his ineptitude led to a Tory landslide. A principled man, but an abysmal leader. Poka-poka, comrade.

Anyway. Should you want to be a part of the process, or are simply just interested, you’ll probably want to know who the candidates are, won’t you?

Well then. Let’s find out.


Sir Keir Starmer

In the last shadow government, Sir Keir was a prominent anti-Brexit campaigner – somewhat ironic, given his position as shadow Brexit secretary under a leader who was hardly pro-Remain.

A measured man, he is far more centre-left than Corbyn. Not quite as centrist as Blair, but there are echos of Big Tony with old Keir. His knighthood was awarded for his services to law and criminal justice – he was a prominent human rights lawyer and former Head of the Crown Prosecution Service.

He also prefers not to be called “Sir.” Understandably.

Starmer is currently the outrunner by a considerable margin in terms of support within the Labour party. He stands an excellent chance of winning, and would be a sensible choice to steady the extremely wobbly, half-sunk ship.

But he might not quite have the charisma to take down Johnson at the dispatch box in PMQs. That might not be a bad thing, however – if the Johnson government is half as chaotic as early signs suggest it might be, a calm opponent might start to look very alluring by 2024.

The most likely winner. Cool, calm, collected, he could be just what the Labour party needs.

OFFICIAL BTL RATING: 4/5


Rebecca Long-Bailey

Rebecca Long-Bailey has been something of a dark-horse, emerging out of nowhere to become the darling of the Corbynistas. A strong proponent of the hard-left policies of the last Labour leadership team, she has been dubbed “Continuity Corbyn.”

This is perhaps a touch unfair – she doesn’t have the CND, 1970s Marxist background of her predecessor, having been a solicitor before becoming an MP.

Long-Bailey’s meteoric rise has come through support of the unions and other traditional left-wing support bases, so despite her relative lack of experience, she’s definitely popular.

But is she popular enough with the Labour mainstream? She recently gave Corbyn’s leadership a slightly surprising (i.e. absolutely mental) 10/10, which is hardly going to endear her to the Labour die-hards who have seen their safe seats turn blue. She’s also not the most engaging of personalities – it’s hard to see where she could beat Bumbag Jumblesale in terms of charisma.

She’s basically the only hard-left candidate, which will stand her in reasonable stead within the party. Whether or not the entire Labour party is prepared to have one last stab at socialism, which has left them decimated, is another thing altogether.

BTL RATING: 3/5


Emily Thornberry

Emily Thornberry came to my attention through this video.

Oof.

And my love affair with Emily started from there. An unashamed critic of Corbyn’s, Thornberry was a prominent campaigner and organiser of the People’s Vote campaign. At every turn, she was more than happy to throw her leader’s Brexit policy under the bus in favour of being staunchly pro-EU.

As Shadow Foreign Secretary, no less.

She’s also bloody hilarious, and would easily sidestep a lot of Johnson’s bluster in the House of Commons. It would be something of a vaudeville act, but fun nonetheless.

She’s also another former lawyer, and married to a Sir herself – she could be Lady Nugee if she wanted to (which itself sounds like a rather endearing euphemism).

But therein lies her problem – Thornberry is unashamedly centrist, and often accused of being too posh for the Labour party. She’s not popular with the unions, the left of the party, or, seemingly, that many MPs – she had a surprisingly low number of nominations.

And so, as fun as it would be, she’s unlikely to win. She’ll almost certainly be a cabinet minister – I, for one, hope she remains Foreign Secretary. Imagine her and Donald Trump meeting.

We can only dream.

BTL RATING: 2/5 (but 5/5 for the bants)

Watch until 0:23

Jess Phillips

I cannot tell you how much I adore Jess Phillips.

Another centrist Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley, it’s hard to remember a politician who fights so hard for both her constituents and what she believes in.

She doesn’t look, sound or act like a politician, but that’s why she’s so bloody brilliant.

Take, for instance, this little story. When Jeremy Corbyn appointed his shadow cabinet in 2015, Phillips challenged Diane Abbott to explain why he hadn’t given any of the major offices to women. Abbott accused her of being sanctimonious.

Phillips told her to fuck off.

When asked what Abbott did after that suggestion, Phillips told a reporter, “She fucked off.”

Lovely stuff.

She’s an ardent Remainer, despite being in a Leave seat, and yet still has a huge majority – that’s how much her consituents believe in her. She is a passionate feminist campaigner, and a brilliant orator, too. She takes zero prisoners.

She’s passionate. She’s a true advocate for the people. She’s brilliant.

But she won’t win. She doesn’t have the support of the hard-left, and as wonderful as her passion is, it often doesn’t win her many favours across her party. Her allies are fiercely loyal to her, but I don’t think she can win.

And I don’t think she should yet, either.

If Jess can be in the shadow government for the next five years, keep fighting the good fight and channel her energies ever so slightly into becoming more statesmanlike, she could end up being one for the future.

BTL RATING: 2/5 but with bags of potential


LISA NANDY

Who?

Oh.

…Who?

I’m not going to lie, Lisa “Cheeky” Nandy has come out of nowhere for this leadership race. As MP for Wigan, she struck me as competent, capable, but not really leadership material.

And yet she’s received more nominations than Jess Phillips, and only 2 fewer than Long-Bailey.

Nandy also secured the backing of the National Union of Mineworkers, a persuasive force in the left-wing of the party. Her passion for reigniting town centres has also struck a chord with some members of the electorate, and has sparked some truly excellent memes.

I’m not sure what to say about Nandy, as being a candidate with little previous fame is not a bad thing in this election.

Keep an eye on this one. The Rando Cardrissian of Labour’s Leadership Race (one for you Cards Against Humanity Fans).

BTL RATING: ?/5


LOTO FUN

LOTO being Leader of the Opposition. Politics nerd wordplay banter.

…How am I not single?

Anyway, these are the candidates for leader of the Labour party. One of these five will be tasked with trying to hold a romping Johnson government in check.

No small task. But all of them, in their own ways, are competent, engaging and exciting.

And that, alone, makes any of them better than the mess that Corbyn leaves in his wake.

FLACCID JOHNSON: Boris’ Power Grab Defeated By Parliament

I warned you. I warned you all.

We all knew that this was going to be an important week but holy f*cking shitballs has it spiralled.

This has quickly turned into a battle between democratic sensibility and process versus cynical, legal jiggery-pokery. When British people study history in fifty years’ time, this will be in the syllabus.

We are now living through one of the most dramatic political periods in our nation’s existence.

Let me explain.


Rebel Rebel – The Diamond Dogs Bite Back

Let’s start with the facts.

Boris Johnson, our Prime Minister, lost a vote yesterday. He lost it, big time.

Johnson has recently championed the idea of proroguing Parliament in order to make Brexit happen. Through this process, he would be able to force Brexit through without Parliament approving it, especially a no-deal Brexit.

A no-deal Brexit is unilaterally condemned by leaders of business and human rights as being horrendously damaging for the UK.

Yesterday, the House of Commons rallied against Johnson by voting 328 to 301 to take control of the Parliamentary timetable. Usually, the timetable is set by the government. Now, however, Parliament will go against Johnson’s wishes to bring its own legislation forward today and pass a law making no-deal illegal.

Basically, Parliament has explicitly told Boris that, “Your no-deal strategy will hugely damage the UK, so now we will use our majority to prevent you from doing it.”

While many Brexiteer commentators will say that yesterday’s rulings are illegal or unfair, they are actually a perfect demonstration of our democratic system working well. We elect our MPs to make decisions for us, not to just mindlessly listen to the whims of their constituents.

And some MPs made those decisions, in the public interest, at great personal expense.

21 Tory MPs decided to destroy their own political careers last night rather than allow Johnson to continue on his path towards the no-deal cliff edge. They did this by voting against the Tory government.

They all had the whip removed after the vote. This means that they were all fired.

But, by sacrificing themselves, they have allowed Parliament a vote today that will force Johnson to ask the EU for an extension to Article 50 – to leave without a deal will be illegal, should the law pass.

And the law will pass – all those who voted against Johnson yesterday to allow the vote today will back an extension. Otherwise they wouldn’t have opposed Johnson in the first place.

Or they’re really thick. Anything, by this stage, is hypothetically possible.

To summarise: Johnson wants no-deal as an outcome/negotiating tactic. Opponents think that this is reckless/amoral/f*cking stupid. Opponents stopped him by having a majority in Parliament, and opponents include his own party members.

Woof.


So… Now What?

The House of Commons now has control of the Parliamentary timetable today. They will use this to bring forward legislation that makes it illegal for Boris to continue pushing a no-deal Brexit.

It will pass, although it will not pass today – it has to go through the House of Lords and gain Royal Assent before it is law. Some Brexiteer peers might try to block its passing, but they only have so much time. Eventually, it will pass.

Boris knows this, as does Parliament.

Last night, Boris, in defeat, announced that he would ask Parliament to vote for a General Election today, assuming that the bill that bans him from a no-deal Brexit passes.

So, presumably, by the end of today, a bill will pass through the Commons that says a no-deal Brexit on the 31st of October is illegal. Seeing as this is a cornerstone of the Johnson administration, Boris will admit that he needs a new mandate (or justification) from the British people to continue with his Brexit strategy.

But it’s really not as simple as that.


So… Now What… Really?

Some things to note.

1 . Boris lost his majority of one before anything even happened yesterday. Dr. Phillip Lee, Tory MP for Bracknell, defected to the Liberal Democrats during Boris’ opening speech. This means that the government no longer has a numerical majority, making running the government impossible – they cannot pass legislation without opponents supporting them.

2. This, in any sane time, would mean that the government would call an election in order to create the numbers they need (or lose). This is what Johnson is going to try to do today.

3. The 21 Tory MPs who rebelled against Johnson are very likely to stand against a Johnson-led Conservative Party at an election as independent MPs. Johnson has created more opposition for himself.

4. Most importantly, just because Johnson is calling for a General Election doesn’t mean it will happen – 2/3rds of the House of Commons have to approve the idea for it to happen.

5. Labour, especially Corbyn, are desperate for an election. However, those who are tactically astute have told them that they will lose an election before the no-deal situation is resolved. Additionally, if Boris won before the law is passed, he could reverse the decision and plough on with no-deal anyway. As such, Corbyn said yesterday that the bill against no-deal must be passed into law before he’ll support a General Election.

6. Even if Johnson calls an election tomorrow, it will be rejected until Corbyn knows that he can campaign against BoJo after no-deal is gone for good. Only then will a General Election realistically happen.


For Christ’s Sake What The Hell Does Any Of This Mean?

No-deal will likely never happen, assuming the Bill is passed today.

It certainly won’t happen on the 31st of October.

Boris has had a searing-hot spotlight put on him and he has floundered, hard. His performance in Parliament yesterday was panicky, mumbled and uncertain. The Johnson bravado has been fully eroded, and his tenure as Prime Minister might go down in the history books as the shortest (or worst) ever.

Who will benefit? Maybe the Labour Party – Corbyn had a surprisingly good day. However, his long-standing weaknesses as perceived by the public mean that he will never win an election with an outright majority.

Instead, the other parties like the Lib-Dems, the Greens, the SNP et al have all had a profoundly good day. With the Tories veering right and the Labour Party veering left, a chasm has been left in the centre. Considering these parties are already discussing ways to form an alliance at the next election, they might be the new force in politics.

Brexit is about to be delayed again, and the threat of Article 50 being revoked has, realistically, never been higher.

Finding Tory – What’s Gone Wrong With The Conservative Party?

Politics as we know it is at something of a crossroads. Brexit has thoroughly eroded confidence in the UK’s two-party system, with no clear majorities being found for either Labour or the Conservatives at the last general election. Additionally, the local elections were a total disaster for both and the European elections are looking like they will have a similar outcome.

When David Cameron first came into power, joined at the hip with Nick Clegg, the affable-yet-sometimes-laffable, hamster-faced Lib Dem leader, he brought with him a surge in centrist support for the Conservatives. After Labour’s “New Labour” domination under Blair and then Brown, Cameron transformed the Conservatives into a party that could steal votes away from this new centre-ground, and even won his second term outright.

Now, however, the Tory party is in disarray. After disastrously misjudging the public’s opinion on Europe, the result of the Brexit referendum has slowly but surely split the party in two, much like the laser out of Goldfinger if our lad Jimmy B hadn’t talked his way out of getting his “Commander Bond” zapped off. The previous centrist policies of the Cameron conservatives have given way to the hardliners of the ERG, with the leadership more concerned about the right-wing voters than those in the centre.

At the beginning of what might be a period of great change in politics, it feels apt to explore conservatism and what might come next.


What Does Conservatism Mean?

At its core, the philosophical difference between the Conservatives and Labour comes down to this:

  • The Labour Party is socialist, and by extension Utopian – this means that they proactively try to change society for the better by making it more equal.
  • The Conservative Party is pragmatic – rather than try to change society through a set of political beliefs, the Tories are meant to change themselves to reflect society as a whole.

Labour governments will usually be hands-on, with higher taxes and increased emphasis on the public sector – i.e. nationalised railways, more funds for the NHS and benefits schemes etc. Tory governments, by contrast, will take a step back and allow free-market capitalism to define the economy instead – their belief is that if they tax people less, they will spend more, and the money will naturally find its way to required goods and services rather than the government choosing it for them.

So far, so pragmatic – rather than try to change society, the Tories believe that government should be a reflection of it.


And What Of The Tories Now?

The word pragmatic goes out of the window like a cat chasing a squirrel.

Cameron’s Conservatives attracted voters because of their appeal to a huge, politically-engaged portion of society. In the UK, especially in the cities, we have a massive middle-class of relatively affluent but socially-liberal people, and a Tory party that reflected this would always attract that vote (it was Cameron who legalised same-sex marriage, after all) .

The problems within the Tories now, however, stem largely from one aspect of pragmatism that is the exact opposite to the above – the importance and maintenance of tradition.

Utopianism, by its definition (i.e. creating a utopia), suggests that there is something wrong with society that needs to be fixed. Pragmatism suggests that if society is fine, it shouldn’t be fiddled with – society should be reflected by the government but left alone. This emphasises the importance of tradition, because if society isn’t broken, it is because the institutions that govern it are working fine.

However, the institutions that govern ours are not working fine. This is about as obvious as a hippo at a guinea-pig sanctuary.

The obligation for our current government should be to recognise that some of the institutions that have got us to this point are fundamentally failing – the NHS is crumbling, the wealth gap is rapidly expanding, food bank usage is massively increased, homelessness is seemingly everywhere… All of these facts are extremely damaging for the fifth-largest economy in the world, and could even be considered embarrassing, yet our current Tory government is sat on its hands, refusing to acknowledge or change anything.


Why?! All Of Those Things Are Objectively Terrible!

Because of the concept of free-market capitalism. Despite these alarming and arguably immoral outcomes of Tory leadership, our economy is performing well. To the Tories, this suggests that nothing is particularly wrong at all, as a stronger economy means more spending and more wealth generation, but they have systematically failed to remember the most important thing about government:

The people vote you in, not the economy. 

The middle-class, Cameron-supporting moderates see homelessness on the rise, they see the Windrush scandal, they see a benefits system that demeans and belittles those in need and they think, “What the hell is going on?” These moderate, socially-liberal voters cannot stand to see government policy heading in this direction and are put off by the Tories.

However, many Tories come from a more traditionalist, right-wing viewpoint – some harbouring Thatcherite levels of belief in free-market capitalism. While I don’t believe that Theresa May is one of them, I do believe that some of those in her party who hold the real power are, such as those members of the ERG who have held the government to ransom over the last few months.

No matter how well the economy is performing, however, the failures of the Tories to look after those who need it most, the most basic fundamental requirement for decent government, will come back to haunt them after Brexit is done.

The Brexit logjam has exposed this rift within the party, defined by the single issue of the EU but applicable to Tory policy on the whole:

  • A number of moderate conservatives that understand the value of the EU in a new, globalised society, despite its flaws;
  • VS the right-wing Tories that believe that it encroaches upon the traditions of the UK that made it great and got it to be a top-five economy in the first place.

The Tories are being destroyed by their inability to follow one of their core dogmas – pragmatism. Melanie Phillips recently wrote in The Times that the Conservative Party has forgotten what conservatism truly means – adapting to the challenges of society to remain constantly electable, not a party built on dogma like the socialist left.

While the Conservatives are not trying to change society, they are fundamentally failing to listen to it. While they are growing the economy, they are shrinking the existence of millions of people within it. While they are in power, they are failing to adapt to the electorate that will keep them there.

And, as a result, they have seen their moderate votes go to the Lib Dems and Green Party at the local elections, and their hard-right votes will go to the Brexit party at the European elections.

It is hard to see what might happen after these defeats, but to acquiesce fully to the hard-right supporters under a Boris-led party would, for many moderates, sound the death knell for this grand old party.


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Why Voting Is Pointless (Well… Sort Of)

I passionately believe in the concept of democracy. At its core, democracy means that power lies with the people, not their rulers. Alternatives like authoritarianism, communism or anarchism are, at their best, not too great at protecting the civil liberties of their citizens. At their worst, they end up as pretty major historical whoopsies that everyone agrees was a “bad idea that should be avoided again, if poss.”

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“If poss.”

Democracy, however, cannot be classed as unlawful or unfair – in principle at least. Even if a psychopath is elected to power, if the vote was held in a totally free, fair and unbiased voting system by a well-educated electorate, then that is lawful: the people have spoken, despite the outcome.

However, there are two major issues with the UK’s own particular brand of democracy. One is true of almost all Western democracies, while one is very much a British issue.

Let’s start with the British one first.


First Past The Post (FPTP)

First up, some basics.

Britain is not a direct democracy as was the case in some of its earliest forms back in Ancient Greece. It is a representative democracy – the people do not make political decisions, but instead elect a representative to make those decisions for them, or MPs. These MPs are voted for in a General Election. Each MP is elected to represent a small region called a constituency, of which the UK is separated into 650 – there are 650 MPs, one for each constituency.

So far, so simple, right? The system works, the people are represented, democracy wins – hooray!

There are two major issues with the First Past the Post system.

  1. IT CREATES A DISPROPORTIONALLY LARGE AMOUNT OF WASTED VOTES

Imagine you live in the constituency of Sunderland Central, a Labour “safe-seat.”

The vast majority of people in this constituency are Labour supporters – at the last election, 55% of the votes went to Julie Elliott, Labour’s representative. This clear majority means that Elliott is elected to be the MP for this area as she gained the most amount of votes.

However, over 20,000 people voted for other parties in Sunderland Central in 2017, like the Conservatives, Green Party, UKIP etc. Their votes for these parties are wasted – the person they wanted as their MP failed to win, so their votes count for nothing.

In a nation like the UK, which historically has a very even split between Conservative and Labour voters, this means that across every constituency, around half of all votes are wasted.

So, despite taking part in the democratic process, almost half of the citizens of the UK do not have any direct influence in how the major political decisions of their country are made.

2. IT IS UNFAIR ON SMALLER PARTIES

Parties like the Green Party or the Liberal Democrats get far fewer seats than their actual national share of the vote – across the whole of the UK, the Lib Dems won 7% of the vote in 2017, which in a fair system would give them 46 seats. 

They got 12.

So half of the people don’t get a say and smaller parties are prevented from having a voice in Parliament. Sounds mental right? Surely there’s a better way of doing things?!

The alternative to FPTP is proportional representation, where every vote counts and the final 650 MPs are purely representative of how the nation voted. Sounds fairer, right?

It is, but it is also chaos.

Italy has a proportional representation system, but has had to dissolve its parliament eight times in 40 years, and Belgium had to negotiate a coalition for 541 days after its 2010 general election. For any legislation to be made in a parliament, it must command a majority of support amongst MPs – in a proportional representation system, this means that parties have to form alliances with parties that might fundamentally disagree with one another in order to actually achieve anything.

First Past The Post, for all its ills, usually creates a majority for one party, which can then use that majority to pass legislation without requiring support from other parties. It is worth noting, however, that the 2017 general election in the UK did not create a majority – hence Theresa May’s partnership with the DUP (which has gone swimmingly well).

So, First Past The Post creates an unfair system, is currently failing in the UK, but the alternative might create even more chaos.

Cool.

Let’s move on to the wider issue.


“A Well-Educated Electorate”

Whoa boy. This is going to be skating on thin ice with ice-skates made of flamethrowers.

In order for a democracy to work properly, the electorate must understand how it works, exactly who they are voting for and ensure that their representative enforces the promises they campaigned on.

The UK electorate is not thick, bigoted, biased or incapable of making good decisions. No human being who votes ever is, assuming you believe that no one chooses to vote to actively make society worse.

I believe that whatever someone’s beliefs, a voter will always vote for something that they believe to be the right course of action, whether that be Labour, Tory, UKIP, the Greens, or even the Monster Raving Looney Party. Whatever they choose, they do so because they believe that it is the right thing to do.

How they choose to vote, as opposed to why, is far more complex.

If, as I do, you take as fact that everyone is born equal, then you must also take as fact that the only reason why people vote for different parties and hold different political beliefs is because of socioeconomic factors – i.e. their wealth, their geography, the learned affiliation to parties through family or friends, etc.

However, there is one other, major factor, the influence of which I consider to be the single most damaging to an electorate:

The media.

I recently wrote an article about the media’s feedback on May’s promise to stand down and the indicative votes system that was recently employed as an attempt to break the Brexit deadlock. In it, I lamented the fact that the media was entirely focussed on the negatives of the stories and what would make the most eye-catching headlines, rather than reporting on some of the positive outcomes of the indicative votes process.

Unfortunately, this is the world we live in at the moment, not just in the UK, but across all Western nations. The media space is so hotly contested that every newspaper, blog, Twitter feed, TV channel, radio channel or Facebook comments section is one big race to get noticed.

How do you get noticed in a saturated market? By being more interesting than your competition. 

How do you be more interesting? You use hyperbole and extreme rhetoric that grabs the attention. Look at the headline of this very article – I have to use this technique to stand out, too. I hate that I do, but would you really click on an article called “1,200 words on democracy”?

I also used a picture of the family dog, because dogs = clicks (and also because Tilly is a Very Good Dog).

What is the outcome of this extreme competition? Sensationalisation of everything.

Everything is doom and gloom. From all corners we are bombarded with messages about BREXIT CHAOS, SURGING KNIFE-CRIME or LOOMING CLIMATE CHANGE CATASTROPHE. It has to be, because we are naturally inclined to read about something that carries an immediate threat than a headline along the lines of, “Brexit is a bit tougher than previously thought.”

Even worse, many media outlets that should have a responsibility to educate the electorate simply speculate, spread rumours and appeal to the worst sensibilities of some of their readers instead.

This does not create a well-informed electorate. It creates an environment where the electorate are consumers, subject to market forces and profit-and-loss margins, and are fundamentally mis-sold information on how their democracy is run.

In a maelstrom of hyperbole, how can a voter be fairly expected to know fact from fiction and make rational, educated choices on who to vote for?

It is currently being totally glossed over that Leave.EU, the group behind the Vote Leave campaign in the 2016 referendum, have just been proved to have lied, cheated, and overspent in order to get their message across. They openly lied to their supporters and their country, yet if the wider media reports on it too heavily, the backlash against the whole industry could be catastrophic. The media as we know it might even cease to exist.

Good fucking riddance, I say.


A Final, Weary Thought

It’s not pointless to vote. It’s one of the most important things you can do as a citizen of your country.

But it is only fair that you know what you’re voting for and understand the system in which you’re voting for it.

I despair when I hear people on the news say “People don’t vote for MPs, they vote for a party.” While that might be the voter’s intention, the fact is that, first and foremost, they are voting for a representative. Not a Prime Minister, not a party, but that one MP.

I appreciate that many people know this already, but everyone should know it. A society where every single voter knew this principle and was able to a well-informed decision based upon it would be achieving a true sense of representative democracy.

At the moment, however, I’m not so sure ours is.


A REQUEST

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Changing Of The Guard? – European Parliamentary Elections Explained

As we wait for MPs to get back from their holibobs, with only the depressingly common stories of antisemitism within the Labour Party and far-right headbanging from within the Conservative Party to keep us company in the meantime, it’s worth thinking about what comes next.

Yesterday, I explained why there is such a hoo-ha about the upcoming European Parliamentary elections. This was largely framed from the perspective of the structure of the European Parliament and why it represents a democratic issue, but it’s worth looking at what the results might mean, too.

Opinion polls, despite having a recent track record of being laughably wrong, have predicted losses for the Conservatives over their inability to deliver Brexit. Labour, while technically ahead, will be dismayed at how little they have taken advantage of the Tories destroying themselves from within.

UKIP, Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, Change UK, The Lib-Dems, The Greens – all of these fringe parties now have a real opportunity to make a massive impact and take votes away from the two main parties.

A vote for the European Parliament is, some would argue, of less importance than voting in a General Election. Additionally, the way that people vote for their MEPs will be different from how they vote for their MPs. The elections will, however, be a fascinating demonstration of where public opinion is on Brexit and what might happen when the inevitable General Election is called within the next couple of years.

Let’s have a look at what might happen.


The Hard Leavers

Interestingly, while support for the Tories has leaked dramatically to the two Brexit-delivering parties, the fact that there are now two parties entirely focussed on Brexit, as well as an ostensibly Leave-backing major party, means that the vote is now split between three. As such, it means that it might be harder for one to get a majority over the other.

Voters who want Brexit have these options:

  • Continuing to vote for the Conservatives out of hope that their party will get its act together;
  • Voting for UKIP, who already have the highest number of MEPs in the European Parliament and are an established anti-EU force (yes, they won the last European elections…);
  • Or voting for Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party – UKIP have lurched alarmingly right for some voters, with Gerrard Batten’s leadership welcoming figures like Tommy Robinson (real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon) and their openly-racist philosophy.

So there are three options for delivering Brexit, now that Labour have essentially said that any deal made must come with a second referendum attached. UKIP’s alarming undertones have put off many supporters, and Farage himself set up his new party because he didn’t want to be a part of the UKIP that he once proudly led.

Because of this, there could be no clear majority for any of those parties – even if the majority for votes were for Brexit-supporting groups, they would be split into three and could lose out to a unified Remain-supporting party. Indeed, the most recent polls have put the parties at:

  • Conservatives: 13%
  • UKIP: 17%
  • Brexit: 12%

So a Remain-supporting party could get a majority over this divided vote.

If there was only one Remain-supporting party, that is.


The Ardent Remainers

Perhaps the most interesting case study for this is Change UK – The Independent Group. The breakaway group of MPs from the Labour and Conservative Parties that formed in February have now been declared an official party, and as such are going to run in the European elections. They openly state their case to be the party of Remain.

They put out a message asking for candidates for the European elections to put themselves forward and received over 3,700 responses, including some high-profile names (according to Anna Soubry, one of the members).

However, their profile is not quite where they want it to be yet, and they would require a huge amount of campaigning in the run-up to the elections to be considered a real force – currently they are polling at just 4%.

Other openly Remain-favouring parties such as the Greens, the SNP, the Lib Dems and Plaid Cymru are polling at around 20% combined, with most polling at under 10% each.

So the issue here is the same as above – a split vote might mean no clear majority for one Remain-supporting party.


The Old Dogs

And what of Labour? Currently they are leading the polls at 29%, but who knows with them anymore. The constant rumblings of antisemitism are damaging the party’s reputation, as well as the fact that the majority of its MPs and members want to Remain, but Corbyn ostensibly doesn’t.

If he fails to campaign Labour MEPs as being pro-remain, he could see many Labour voters move across to one of the Remain-supporting parties. Additionally, if he fails to listen to some of his Leave-supporting members and allies, he might see that vote move across to UKIP or the Brexit Party.

Additionally with the Conservatives, while we have already mentioned that hard-Leavers would have little problem in shifting allegiance to UKIP/Brexit Party (and have seen that many already have), the Remainers within the party might jump ship too.


So What Will Actually Happen?

It is almost impossible to say for certain.

It is worth remembering that despite how badly both parties have performed recently, voting habits die hard – some lifelong party supporters cannot even fathom voting for anyone else, so both parties will continue to see a considerable number of votes from their faithful members.

It is also worth noting that the European elections have a distinctly different flavour to a General Election, and voters tend to vote more freely – there is less danger of “If you don’t vote for us, look who’ll get in instead,” in the European Parliament.

The final thing to note is that because the constituency system is different in European elections, and the votes have more of a feel of proportional representation, a divided vote isn’t as damaging as it would be in a General Election. Despite Remain and Leave both having numerous different parties representing them, the results will still be a clear indicator of where public opinion lies, but parties will just have fewer MEPs elected.

I’ll explain this further in an article tomorrow.

Either way, the European elections might be quite a rude awakening for the Old Guard of Labour and the Conservatives… Or nothing much might change at all.

Either way, this writer encourages you to ensure you are registered to vote and to take part in the elections when they happen. Every vote will matter in these elections, and could pave the way for whatever harebrained calamity comes next in the Great Brexit Debacle…


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The Idiot’s Guide To The EU

At the time of writing, it is almost inevitable that the UK is going to have to hold elections for the European Parliament. Three years after the 2016 referendum, we have so demonstrably failed to leave the EU that we are about to elect people to represent us in it.

As a member-state of the EU, Britain is legally obligated under the terms of EU law to have candidates ready, to hold a democratic process to elect them and ultimately provide politicians to be a part of the international body that the British people supposedly want to leave. If they don’t, they will be evicted from the EU because a lack of representation from a member state would make all of the EU Parliament’s rulings null and void if the leaving member (the UK) changed their mind and remained a member.

And I know what you’re thinking.

What on earth does that mean?

The mess that Brexit has created is as vast in its scale and as deep in its intensity as Donald Trump’s requirements for hair styling products.

Let’s answer two, burning questions:

  1. What actually is the EU?
  2. Why do these Parliamentary elections matter so much?

What Actually IS The EU?

At its core, the EU is a group of countries where, on their own, they would be middling-to-small economies. They got together and created a gang where they would create rules to trade with one another and make sure that all of their members were given a fair deal (oh, and also try to prevent another European war, of which there were literally hundreds). Additionally, to protect members’ interests, the EU would trade as a unified bloc (or group) to other nations like China, the US and other major manufacturing and trading partners.

The middling-to-small economies of each member state are made much, much bigger through these arrangements.

The issues with the EU have arisen because what started as an economic pact has increased in size and scope – the feeling is (for roughly 52% of the British people, at least) that the EU now actually governs over us rather than elevates us financially. For instance, it is the final arbiter of law – i.e. EU law can overturn UK law. So when the EU legislates that fishing waters in the Channel must be shared, for example, there is nothing the UK can do about it.

So that’s what it does in a nutshell. In terms of what the EU is, it’s comprised of seven decision-making bodies, the first six of which are:

  • The European Council
    • The heads-of-state for each of the 28 member states;
    • The ones that May had to ask for an extension to Article 50.
  • The Council of the European Union 
    • Confusingly named;
    • Also named “Council of Ministers”;
    • Shares law-making capabilities of European Parliament;
    • One minister per state that rotates based on topic of discussion (i.e. if discussing agriculture, each state chooses an agriculture minister to sit).
  • European Commission 
    • The executive, i.e. submits proposals for new legislation or laws to European Parliament + Council of EU;
    • One appointee per state.
  • European Court of Justice (ECJ)
    • The judiciary, i.e. the judges that uphold EU law;
    • Can settle disputes between nations and interprets laws and treaties;
    • Has final say in legal matters – more powerful than UK courts.
  • European Central Bank 
    • Central bank for the Euro;
    • Controls monetary policy.
  • Court of Auditors
    • Ensures that taxpayer funds from the EU budget have been correctly spent.

You will notice that a) good bloody grief that’s a lot of different bodies for one institution; b) it has a lot of power; and c) of all of those bodies, there is not a single election held by the citizens of the EU.

There is definitely some validity to the claims from some quarters that major political decisions that affect peoples’ lives are often made by unelected EUrocrats.

However, there is one body that is elected, and it is arguably the most important one.


The European Parliament

The second biggest democratic electorate in the world, nearly 500 million citizens from across the EU are represented by 751 members, who are elected every five years by universal suffrage (i.e. all member states hold elections). These members are just like MPs for Parliament, and stand representing a party like Labour or the Conservatives, but are called MEPs because they are Members of the European Parliament.

They get slightly fancier names, basically.

As per the UK’s Parliament, they hold votes on the legislation that is drafted for them by the European Commission and have the power to pass them into law, but it does have slightly weaker powers than the European Council of Ministers (the rotating, unelected one) in certain areas.

The UK currently has 73 members in the European Parliament, and here is where we pick up the big bad Brexit story once again, hooray for Brexit, kill me now.

Because of Brexit, the EU has already made plans for the UK to not be represented in any of its bodies. However, while the EU and British government can control Britain’s lack of representation across the unelected bodies, because the MEPs must be voted in by an election, this creates a massive problem. Why?

Because if they aren’t, the EU has broken one of its fundamental rules – the Parliament must be democratically-elected. This then means there could be legal challenges made against any law that Parliament creates because the Parliament has not been fulfilling its legal requirements.

Basically, if they done goofed and aren’t fully elected, then they cannot make new laws.

So with the UK being super awkward and not knowing if it’s going or not, it creates a problem –

  • Does the UK elect MEPs (an expensive process) and then immediately remove them the second they do leave the EU?
  • Or do they not hold elections and get kicked out of the EU so it can protect its legal structure?

As it turns out, we almost certainly will be holding elections for the European Parliament, because we don’t actually know if we’re leaving or not and we do know that we don’t want a no-deal Brexit. It would be a disaster for the Conservatives, who have promised to deliver Brexit and have so far just created one massive, sloppy, festering mess, and that is why many are opposed to holding the elections at all.

However, unless we find a way to leave by the 23rd of May (not even leave-leave, just find a majority for a way to leave), we will have to hold an election. Otherwise we will be turfed out of the EU, with no deal, on the 1st of June.

It is likely going to be a very angry affair indeed. Prepare for fireworks…


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Soft-Core Brexual Content – Indicative Votes Explained & What Is a “Norway-Style Deal?”

Indicative votes appear to be all but confirmed as the means to try and smash through the clogged U-bend of Parliament, the plunger of common sense that will finally dislodge through the claggy wad of Brexit.

The principle of these indicative votes is quite simple – different strategies will be put before MPs, who will then vote on which is their favourite. If a way forward that requires a long extension to Article 50 is found, then they will take it to the EU in the hope that they will grant us a further extension in which to enact this new strategy.

There will probably have to be a process of elimination, as an overall majority would not be reached in the first round, but slowly but surely a winning strategy might end up being formulated as the least popular strategies are removed.

While not confirmed, the options will most likely look like the following:

  • May’s Deal;
  • A deal with a customs union and/or freedom of movement, which Corbyn supports;
  • No-deal;
  • A General Election;
  • A Second Referendum;
  • Revoking Article 50 and outright cancelling Brexit;
  • “A Norway-type deal.”

Most of these are relatively self-explanatory in that they have been discussed at length before and are quite obvious in how they might affect the deadlock.

However, the final option is something of an enigma. What, on earth, is a “Norway-type deal,” “Norway+,” or “Customs Union 2.0?” Even more intriguing is that many pundits are currently saying that this is the one that MPs are most likely to vote for when the indicative votes are held this week.

This, then, this glorious, Scandinavian-monikered strategy might be our salvation, our final way through Brexit, our democratic phoenix, flying from the ashes to save British politics.

Shame it’s a load of absolute shit, though.


Why? What’s Wrong With It?

Because it absolutely fails to make anyone happy – even more so than Theresa May’s deal.

It is a “soft Brexit” – i.e. that we retain close relations with the EU by:

  1. Remaining in the customs union;
  2. Allowing freedom of movement;
  3. Giving the EU money towards the EU’s budget. 

Aside from the obvious issues with the third point, what’s wrong with the first two? We leave the EU, but we still have the benefits of membership, right?

Yes, but those two principles are exactly what the majority of people who voted to Leave gave as their main reasons for wanting to Leave in the first place.

  • Remaining in the customs union means being subject to EU tariffs and rules on trade, many of which are arguably detrimental for some UK industries like farming and fishing.
  • Retaining freedom of movement means allowing EU citizens to move to the UK with little difficulty, as they do now. Many Leave voters were swayed by the numbers of Eastern-European workers coming over to the UK and filling low-skill, low-paid jobs.

Additionally, not only are we stuck in these principles, we have elected to remove ourselves from the head-table: the EU can create whatever tariffs, laws and rules it wants and we will have to abide by them without having a say in them.

So we end up in limbo – we’re not out of the EU’s grasp, which Leavers want, but nor are we a part of its governance, which is what Remainers want.


Oh. This All Seems Pretty Stupid. Why On Earth Would MPs Vote For It?

Because actively voting against Brexit is political suicide for many of these MPs. Indeed, with some of the death threats that they receive every day, it could even be personally dangerous. Many MPs do not want to leave the EU but represent constituencies that do, so to openly vote against Brexit is a highly contentious decision for them.

As such, damage limitation might be the best way for them to get by – to demonstrate that they voted in favour of Brexit, but also ensuring that they protect their constituents from the detrimental effects of it.

However, it is probable that if this really does become the preferred choice when the indicative votes are held, the public would be made aware of how useless this choice would be:

  • The ERG and Brexiteers would be apoplectic about it and might even vote to revoke Article 50 – a soft Brexit is no Brexit at all to them, so cancelling this round and having another go in a few years might end up being their preferred strategy.
  • Remainers would cry blue murder about how pointless it is and how it pleases no-one and could gain some support in showing that Remain really is the best outcome given the choice.

There are rumours that whatever happens, there will be a final, confirmatory referendum on the preferred strategy vs. Remain. If it is a variation of Norway vs. Remain, there would probably only be one winner.

It won’t be Norway. 


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Elderly Red-Faced Gits – Just Who Are the ERG?

For what seems like a lifetime, we have read headlines time and again that ‘Theresa May tries to appease the ERG,’ or ‘The ERG announces that they will never support the backstop,’ or ‘ERG elect to drive Britain over the No-Deal cliff-edge, book champagne-party in Kensington mansion for March 30th.’

So if they have that much influence, then they must be in power, right? Who is this group of sneaky conspirators? Did we vote for them? What even is the ERG?


What is the ERG?

In 1993, Britain’s relationship with the EU deepened with the signing of a new treaty, called the Masstricht Treaty. A Conservative MP called Sir Michael Spicer created the European Research Group (the ERG) as a response to this, as he was concerned about the increased integration and the effect it would have on Britain.

To be clear, then, the ERG, at its core, is a non-governmental organisation that was founded because of concern over British integration into the EU, (which is also called ‘Euroscepticism’).

Initially, it could be described as a lobbying group, where backbench MPs (those who are not ministers for a department) could pool resources and efforts to try and change their colleagues’ opinions around European integration.


The Brexit Referendum

Over the years, the Conservative Party has been split down the middle by those who believe in further integration into the EU (Europhiles) and those who oppose it (Eurosceptics). While its impact cannot be properly calculated, given that it is an influence group rather than any kind of official organisation, it is not too radical to suggest that the ERG has been the driving force behind the Eurosceptics.

When the referendum was called by David Cameron in 2016, ten members of the ERG were major players in the Vote Leave campaign, including names such as:

  • Michael Gove (current Environment Secretary and former Education Secretary)
  • Iain Duncan Smith (former Conservative leader)
  • Liam Fox (current Trade Secretary)
  • Chris Grayling (current Transport Secretary)
  • David Davis (former Brexit Secretary)

The ERG members’ impact in the Vote Leave campaign cannot be underestimated, therefore.


Brexit Negotiations

After the 2016 Referendum result, the ERG continued to be a powerful voice in ensuring that the referendum result was respected carried out. However, it is only recently that we have seen it at its most powerful position.

Theresa May has been negotiating with Brussels over the terms of the Brexit strategy since 2016, but as the deadline of March 29th draws nearer, the urgency for her negotiations to be completed has drastically increased, and the rift within the party has become more pronounced.

Under Jacob Rees-Mogg, who became chairman in January 2018, the ERG has become far more vocal in the press. Given their Eurosceptic nature, it is not surprising that the ERG are in favour of as ‘hard’ a Brexit as can be negotiated, i.e. where we leave the EU with as little of the previous relationship as possible.

The ERG have also stated that they would favour a No-Deal Brexit over a soft Brexit. A No-Deal Brexit means we would leave the EU on March 29th with no transition period, a time until December 2020 which is set aside for us to negotiate our new trade, legal and security relationships with the EU.

Back in January, Theresa May finally negotiated a deal, but it contained the ‘backstop,’ which put temporary measures in place to keep the entire UK within the EU’s customs union if an agreement could not be reached about the Northern Ireland / Republic of Ireland border during the transition period.

Because Ireland would still be in the EU and N.I. wouldn’t, a hard border would need to be installed. This is extremely problematic because of the historical violence between the two states which was finally eased with the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

The ERG were vehemently opposed to the backstop, as they believed it to be a trap set by the EU to trick the UK into permanently being in the EU’s customs union. As such, they have opposed the deal ever since and have been a spectre over May’s shoulder as she tries to find a solution.


Why are they so powerful?

Just because the ERG disagree with the deal, that doesn’t mean that they should be able to dictate what Theresa May’s government does, right?

Actually, they sort of can. Because Theresa May lost her Parliamentary majority in the last election, she does not have the required number of MPs to pass a bill (of which her deal is one) through Parliament. She formed an alliance with the DUP to ensure she would have a majority for future votes, but never considered that her own party might vote against her.

The ERG’s membership alone, if they oppose her, is enough to take away her majority, and as such her ability to pass the deal. Given that they also hold influence over other MPs, if the ERG says that they won’t vote for it, swathes of other MPs won’t either. This is partially why May lost the first vote on her deal so badly (although the backstop is actually a concern for all corners of Parliament).

Because of the precarious nature of her power and the lack of a clear majority in the House of Commons, the ERG is able to dictate what May must do to appease them. There is a tendency for Eurosceptics to be more right-wing than moderate, which is why we have seen the Conservative Party take a more right-wing tone of late – the ERG’s influence is starting to show.


Thoughts

It seems fairly hypocritical to me that a group like the ERG, which contains self-appointed members who now control our government’s policy, is so averse to the EU, which contains self-appointed members who control our government’s policy.

There is something profoundly unlikeable about many of the ERG’s members, too, and it feels like something of an Old Boys’ club (members recently went back to Rees-Mogg’s house for a champagne reception after the deal was voted down so strongly). Rees-Mogg himself is something of a vaudeville villain, looking like a tweed-wearing pipe-cleaner who part-times as a child-snatcher on weekends.

He is also famously anti-abortion and same-sex marriage.

The ERG have every right to be concerned about the EU. The majority of Eurosceptics believe that the institution itself is not all bad, but rather that our relationship with it makes us less powerful on the international stage and we give more than we take.

However, my personal view is that we are a country with plenty of influence and power but who need the infrastructure of a bloc like the EU to thrive. While it is always a good idea to hold the EU accountable and to be double-check that we are doing the right thing, to have a group of schemers behind closed doors manipulate the policy of a government cannot be a good thing for our democracy.

So far, three MPs have resigned from the Conservative Party citing the ERG as a major factor in their decision. I imagine it’ll soon be more.

What a Massive Johnson

Boris Johnson.

boris-johnson-wave-1024x580

Inventor of the bicycle;

boris bike

Master of Wiff Waff;

bojo ping pong.png

Master of Rugby Football;

boris johnson rugby

Master of Association Football;

boris johnson football

The British sense of self-deprecating humour in flesh incarnate and undisputed King of the Olympics.

boris zip line

In her biography of Boris back in 2011, Sonia Purnell described him as “Beloved by millions and recognised by all.” The British people have something of a strange relationship with Boris. His bumbling demeanour and smiling, vivacious nature means that he appears to be a different type of politician, far removed from the over-coached, weird-Yoga pose-standing, vox-pop spouting politicians that fill our airwaves and newspapers.

ad-composite-power-pose

Just WHY.

There has always been a yearning for something different within politics, recently demonstrated to an alarming effect by Brexit, Trump, and the rise of fascism within Europe, all of which imply dissatisfaction with the status quo. Boris was a breath of fresh air – the man who didn’t care about his appearance, who spoke his mind, and who entertained us with his many rap-on-the-knuckles-worthy faux pas.

However, over the last couple of years, Boris has seen his stock fall considerably. His direct association with Brexit and being one of, if not the leading Brexiteers within the Conservative Party saw his popularity plummet. Additionally, his subsequent bid for the party leadership saw his vast political clout take a huge blow after his eleventh-hour betrayal by that bastion of justice and truth, Michael Gove. After being made a surprise appointment to the Cabinet, in the role of Foreign Secretary no less, Boris’ continuing trend of faux pas started to lose their comedic touch, becoming considerably more offensive or problematic instead – the epitome of this being his absent-minded turn of phrase resulting in the Iranian government doubling Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s sentence.

In the last few weeks Boris has been in the headlines once again. Having resigned his post in July following the Brexit-strategy meeting at Chequers, the Prime Minister’s country house, he seemed as though he was poised to become a serious rival for the leadership, given the precarious (or, if we’re being less generous, chaotic) nature of the Brexit negotiations. Over the last few days, however, his long-standing (read: suffering) wife, Marina Wheeler, announced that they would be getting a divorce and had been separated for some time. This comes after a slew of alleged matrimonial misdemeanours over the years and it appears as though an affair with a young, blonde, ex-public-school PR spin doctor has become the straw that broke the camel’s back (and honestly, who can say that they haven’t been there?). I feel like this is something of a defining moment for Boris – he will either come bounding out from the ashes like the proverbial phoenix (if it was crossed with a mal-coordinated St Bernard) or he will finally tumble into the shadows, succumbing to the murky depths of political apathy until even his hair cannot be seen through the unremitting darkness.

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“Drained of all ego, Mr Johnson deflated to such an extent he fell through the gap in a manhole.”

I would argue that the latter would be the most beneficial for the country. Let’s go through what I like to call the B.O.R.I.S. analysis and see what’s happening with old Bojo.

B: Brexit

Boris’ unabashed support for Brexit has driven a chasm between him and some of his supporters, many of whom, like my parents (and, for a long time, me), enjoyed Boris being the approachable face of conservatism within the country. He was a close ally of David Cameron’s supposedly liberal form of conservatism and, as such a recognisable character from his appearances on Have I Got News For You and other entertainment programmes, was largely popular with the British people.

Boris-Johnson-on-Have-I-Got-News-For-You-575290

Especially as he was apparently a very generous scorer.

However, his outgoing persona is somewhat at odds with his actual political beliefs. We’ll look at his voting record in general later, but solely with regards to the EU he has been one of the Conservative Party’s leading Eurosceptics:

  • He has voted against more EU integration;
  • Voted against a right to remain policy for EU nationals already living in the UK;
  • Was in favour of the referendum;
  • And he voted for stronger enforcement of immigration rules.

His stance was brought to the light by Brexit and he is now leading the charge against Theresa May’s softer-Brexit approach that was agreed at Chequers (or at least he was until his extramarital misdemeanours took the limelight somewhat). Given the divide across all corners of the political spectrum about Brexit, many of those who saw Boris as speaking for them feel massively let down by him.

O: Oration

Boris has always had a special way with words. Speaking about his own style, he came up with one of his choice quotes:

My speaking style was criticised by no less an authority than Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was a low moment, my friends, to have my rhetorical skills denounced by a monosyllabic Austrian cyborg.”

theterminator

He’d probably still do a better job as Foreign Secretary.

I have even experienced it first-hand – I attended a debate that he was in back in 2006 and when questions were opened to the floor, I asked him, “Do you think that your political success is because of your appearances on Have I Got News For You?” This was in front of around 600 people, many of them also prominent politicians, and the question sparked a murmur in the room (and suddenly made me very conscious that I needed to pee). However, he simply chuckled and then gave his answer, all the while making welcoming, non-threatening eye-contact with me and cracking jokes which were warmly received by the room before him. I am ashamed to admit that I didn’t listen a word he said – it was like being under a spell of joviality and warmth and I just found myself smiling and nodding. His ability to make people feel at ease is not to be underestimated and his sense of humour and heavily-cultivated messy style endeared him to the nation for many years.

However, a number of blunders in recent times have meant that his style actually grates far more than it entertains. Aside from the aforementioned catastrophe with the Iranian government, (where, if you weren’t aware, he absent-mindedly said that Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been teaching journalism, which is a crime in Iran), he has come under heavy fire recently for describing May’s Chequers plan as a “suicide vest,” which is about as appropriate as walking into a Centrepoint shelter and asking peoples’ opinions on where to buy a holiday home. He seems to be relying on his former largesse to carry him through these blunders, though it seems as though he has failed to realise that he is no longer bullet-proof.

R: Relationships

When he was a front-bencher for Cameron’s government, Boris held a considerable amount of political clout. Over the years, the general consensus from within Parliament seemed to be that he was a man with an enormous number of allies, constantly winning over votes and support with various members of the party. Through this strength he has been able to be a highly disruptive voice in Government, being outspoken about things he disagrees with and, until Gove’s Great Deception (it’s still funny), he had a very good chance of being elected Party Leader.

However, Gove’s et-tu-Brute moment eroded much of his clout and it appeared as though he was appointed to the Cabinet by May as something of a “friends close, enemies closer” move. While he is still extremely vocal about Brexit and other matters, his words seem to be ringing slightly hollower, despite support from the tweed-wearing, bible-bashing, still-thinks-immigrants-should-be-fetching-his-tea, Conservative twatrastrophe Jacob Rees-Mogg. He still has his allies, but the reveal of his true political inclinations has not helped him to garner support within the ranks as his popularity with the electorate decreases.

I: (Political) Inclinations

Despite being a prominent Conservative MP and Cabinet minister, Johnson managed to swerve the ire of many of the more libertarian and socialist corners of British society through his affability. However, with the swing to the right that the Conservatives have seen under May’s government, a greater spotlight has been put on those prominent Conservatives within it – Boris included.

Despite being a seemingly “friendly-face,” his wider voting record suggests that he is far from a social libertarian. Over his years in Parliament:

  • He abstained from voting on gay marriage;
  • Voted against laws to promote equality and human rights;
  • Voted against higher benefits for those unable to work and voted in favour of reducing spending on welfare in general;
  • Voted against higher taxes on banks;
  • Voted for reducing rate of corporation tax;
  • Voted against a wholly elected House of Lords and against removing hereditary peers from it;
  • Voted for a stricter asylum system and stronger enforcement of immigration rules;
  • Voted for mass surveillance of people’s communications and activities;
  • And he voted against measures to prevent climate change.

In other words, while he is consistently in favour of a strong, centralised government (which is not necessarily a bad thing), it is clear that his social views are also very right-wing, which does not sit well with swathes of the electorate. Amongst the young, in particular, the political tide seems to be largely turning towards libertarianism or socialism, demonstrated by the large gains the Labour Party made in the last general election.

S: Stupidity

Look, let’s face it – Boris is a moron. Or at least, that’s what his shambolic style would have us all believe. Part of why he was so liked by the public is that he seemed to be somewhat harmless, a friendly albino chinchilla that flitted around the edges of politics and the media but would ultimately only be a sideshow. His recent ambitions have been made very clear with his unashamed leadership challenges and it is obvious that he has aspirations to be the Prime Minister, despite once saying,

 “My chances of PM are about as good as the chances of finding Elvis on Mars, or my being reincarnated as an olive.”

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I found an image to represent this sentiment but I wish I hadn’t.

His bumbling style is now at odds with his ambition and Joe Public is starting to realise this. While he appeared to be a breath of fresh air, deep down he is starting to seem more and more like the same kind of politician as the others, ambitious and ruthless, just with sillier hair. This, above all else, is where the difference lies between Boris now and Boris a few years ago – he maintains the charade, yet more and more people are seeing through it.

Boris will always do his best to be in the headlines. His bombastic nature is simply too alluring to resist for editors and journalists trying to find stories around prominent celebrities and politicians. However, we would do well to remember that underneath his affable style lies an exceptionally driven right-wing politician – I’m not sure that he is what this country wants or needs right now.

On the other hand, he’s still better than Rees-Fucking-Mogg.

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What ho, plebs.