“Make Brexit Work” stated Keir Starmer at the Labour Party conference.
Rejoining the EU is not an option until the UK undergoes major constitutional reform so there is only one way of doing this (or at least mitigating the worst of the damage): by rejoining the single market and customs union. Why couldn’t Starmer simply say this? Presumably he had to leave it to us to work this out is because he does not want to scare off the Brexiters who used to vote Labour but who currently still believe in an “eat your cake and still have it” Brexit deal.
After all, many of them think this is still a possibility.
Maybe if Starmer and Labour started calling it a ‘Norway’ Brexit this may not frighten off Labour’s Brexity former voters.
In the meantime Labour’s lack of clarity risks losing the pro-EU, urban vote. They can’t afford to leave it much longer.
Did Keir Starmer heed Alastair Campbell’s injunction to “start mentioning the B-word” (TNE #261)? In his conference speech, Starmer mentioned Johnson and ‘Getting Brexit Done’ in most uncomplimentary terms.
James Ball draws a comparison between the Callaghan crisis of 1979 and Johnson in 2021 (UK’s descent back to the Winter of Discontent”, TNE #262). But in 1979 the Sun quoted Richard III out of context. The first two lines of the play actually read: “Now is the winter of our discontent/Made glorious summer by this sun of York.”
With silent Remainer MPs, a compliant right wing press and Starmer giving the government rabbit punches with velvet gloves, the dissembling Johnson could yet bluff his way through the present crisis to “a glorious summer”, and survive.
C A Ralls
Party poopers or pioneers?
Gina Miller’s new party, True and Fair, (Mandrake, TNE #262) shows a lack of understanding of how politics works in the UK. With vote dilution and safe seats, all that will happen is the current lot will gain more seats. Folks need to start voting for people they know, or who have made an effort to be known (social media, gatherings, talks, whatever) and not parties to try and break safe seats … It will take more than creating a party.
I think the new party is a superb idea: the Remain version of UKIP.
If enough people get behind it, then Labour will be forced to move to remain, like the Tories danced to UKIP’s tune.
If by some miracle the Labour Party discovers a purpose that meets the needs of the time and forms a progressive alliance of opposition parties that agree not to compete against each other, then I’d consider voting for True and Fair. But one thing we don’t need is a new party that will simply divide votes. That’s a trap, and I’m surprised that Ms Miller doesn’t realise that and instead puts herself above the needs of the situation.
Without PR, single issue parties are of limited use. The centre and left mainstream parties are not as chicken as the Conservatives and will not be as influenced by Miller as they were by Farage. She is better off actually getting selected to stand for an existing party and playing the long game.
We already have an anti-Brexit party in the Lib Dems. Why split the vote?
The big issue for me is that they 100% support rejoining the EU and that’s where my vote will go.
We now understand that it is the young who have suffered the most and have the greatest right to anger as a result of Brexit. I am an old, tolerated, member of a church choir that takes many of the finest music students in England.
The removal of the Erasmus programme for UK citizens has meant the heart-breaking spectacle of seeing one chorister going for several months to sing in various cathedrals across Europe while another – a few months younger – lost the right to do this, although she is a winner of a major award for school choristers.
Tory orthodoxy underlies Brexit thinking in that it is a given that the wealthy can buy their way to top-class education; music being a case in point. “That will provide all the musicians needed”. To express a contrary view is to risk being identified as a non-believer.
Mark Samuel, Ramsgate
Much as I appreciate each issue, I am irritated by the use of imperial measurements in the paper. Surely as Europhiles we should be embracing the metric system?
I look forward to seeing hectares rather than acres in the future.
It’s not fair to blame people queuing at petrol stations, nor the petrol companies for the lack of fuel, nor the press for covering the story: it’s their job to do so.
This is a problem caused by a lack of foresight from the government. They have been warned by the road haulage companies for months that this would happen. The government waited until garages closed and petrol was rationed before they took it seriously. And why would EU drivers come back to the UK for three months? Why do we still believe that this is a great place to live?
Our place in the world is not what it once was and this additional catastrophe only validates that.
Personally I haven’t queued for petrol but now I’ll have to. Will I be considered a panic buyer?
Your recent features on Germany beg the question of a closer strategic relationship between the UK and Germany. Never forget the great post-war foreign secretary Ernie Bevin was in many ways of the ‘father’ of the German Federal Republic. He got the Berlin Airlift off the ground, the Brussels Treaty together and increased defence spending and deployments of HM Forces to mean business in context of Europe’s security.
We need a latter day version of this. A reinstatement of HM Forces to Germany would stabilise Europe’s security and keep Germany close. And if one has Germany close then one has the EU pretty much close with all that means for leverage in trading relations and the integrity of the UK. Also the Americans are very keen to have a more self sufficient Europe. The UK filling the void in Europe’s security would also be good for UK influence in Washington.
Out of control
The recent announcement of delays to the introduction of border checks on goods from Europe is the second time the Brexiteers have ducked out on their creed of ‘Taking Back Control’. Can I suggest Peter Trudgill could mark the introduction of a new word into the English language? The word is ‘Brexity’ and probably means a mix of mental flightiness, which never alights for long on anything and a compulsion to keep demanding things you know you don’t want. Now the closer they come to taking control, the less they like the look of it because then they’ll cop the blame.
Journalists and politicians widely discuss electoral pacts or “what opposition parties (usually Labour) must do” to prevent perpetual Tory rule, but they never consider a full-blown ‘grand alliance’ – a temporary party with one carefully selected candidate per constituency, to fight a general election, then establish proportional representation as law.
This would reduce the risk, always present with an electoral pact, of a supporter of one party refusing, for whatever reason, to vote for another. Nor, under first-past-the-post, could a single opposition party prevail given the changes in the nature of employment and national identity in recent years.
An alliance government could set to work on all urgent issues in the national interest and enable parties to develop the arts of effective coalition. Factions could then choose to realign forming new parties.
With things as they stand and constituency boundaries being redrawn, we are heading for a right-wing, one-party state that will continue to reshape the country solely for its own benefit. Why, then, is an electoral grand alliance never discussed?
A protest pro
In his article “Are Protest Songs Dead?” (TNE #260), Simon Coates cleverly weaves together the music of The Specials while pondering the broader question posed by the title. I would refer him and all your readers to two recent thought-provoking albums by Glaswegian songwriter, Andy McMaster, late of The Motors and writer of their most famous song, Airport, a worldwide hit in the 1970s. These two albums, Agenda 21 and Rays on the Water, composed almost entirely of what used to be labelled protest songs, single handedly answer Simon’s question.
I would particularly recommend to anyone interested in this genre of music to listen to Black America (from Agenda 21) and Another Politician (from Rays on the Water). Indeed, it is Andy’s huge breadth of lyrical subject matter which prompted me to make my admittedly small contribution to his continuing music-making.
In his Everyday Philosophy column (#261) and the fabulous wrappings created by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Nigel Warburton points out in passing that “Christo is more accurately ‘Christo and Jeanne-Claude’ …”. But then, for the rest of the article, he apparently sees absolutely no need to name her again.
I can see why ‘Christo’ is snappier without the addition of ‘and Jeanne-Claude’ and isn’t that just a perfect illustration of one of the many ways in which women are (un)written out of history and disappear from view?
Two-tone & double standards
Will Self, you drive me crazy: you define the expression ‘two-tone’ bands (mixed black and white) (Multicultural Man, TNE #261), yet you rarely define many of your long words (words I don’t understand) used in your articles that I read avidly each week.
At least you reminded how lovely Ken Boothe’s Everything I Own is.
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