Friday the 13th: The Nightmare before Christmas
This afternoon the House of Lords began to debate the general election Bill that was passed in the House of Commons (HoC) yesterday. As I write these words, the debate continues. There does not however, appear to be a move or indeed any desire to stop or amend the bill so it will pass and should do so today.
On the basis that it does, the UK will have a general election on Thursday December 12, and once the final results are known the next day, means that Friday the 13th will see who the next Prime Minister is.
The date itself may not be the most welcome by some but with a little luck and a strong voter turnout (whether it is dark or not, whether it is cold or not) the result will not be another hung parliament - if it were to be then an election will have been rather pointless. The country needs – its people need – a government that has a majority in the HoC to actually govern and get its policies through the parliamentary process. But it will take a decisive number of ordinary people to go and cast their vote - whichever party they choose to give that vote to. That has to be the overriding message between now and December 12. Get out and vote.
For if you do not, you can have no complaints about what the government, or MPs generally, does and do thereafter. As I point out in my book Comments of a Common Man, bad politicians get elected by those who do not vote.
The sentiment of not voting has been expressed regarding the numbers who have stated that they will never vote Conservative again. There are also large numbers who have always voted Labour but, again, have stated that they will not do so now and much for the same reasons; they feel abandoned by both parties. Why should this be so?
Let’s look at Labour first; the party (originally founded to represent ordinary working people by the Trade Union movement) has for most of its existence been a sound and vital part of UK democracy. Many of its leading lights throughout the 1950s, 1960s and on to the late 1970s had served their country in a number of ways. Many had fought for their country in the Navy, Army or Royal Air Force. Their patriotism could not be doubted. This did not change their essential beliefs that the UK needed to change and move towards a more socialist viewpoint but this has also always held Labour back. The UK has not naturally been a socialist country. As a consequence, until 1997, Labour had never served more than one term of office and it has always been prone to infiltration by those on the far left, to the point where Communism and Marxism had been profoundly influential (for more on this, read my book – details at the end of this article). From 1997 however, Labour ran the UK for an unprecedented thirteen years and for the first time, those further left had time to get to work. What was done during those thirteen years is not for this article now but again is covered in my book.
Suffice to say that a large number of Labour MPs throughout this period and since, had never seen the consequences of war, had never seen the results of real poverty; of the rationing of food and other supplies taken for granted by the turn of the century. This also applies to the Conservatives.
And because of that lack of knowledge, the Tory party had spent an astounding amount of time indulging in navel-gazed infighting, much of it over the UK’s continued membership of what had originally been called the Common Market but had evolved into the European Union. Had the Conservatives not spent so much time battling each other it is quite possible – probable even – that Tony Blair’s Labour would not have lasted as long as it did.
The same questions over the quality of life experience aimed at Labour MPs since the 1990s can be directed not just at the Conservatives too, but also the Liberal Democrats. Fewer and fewer candidates had experienced real life, the lives of ordinary people, whether ‘working class’ or not. The rise of the career MP had become established; MPs that had never held an ordinary job; that had never had to think for themselves; that had never had to wipe the bottoms of dying parents; that had never had to leave their home in the darkness of a winter morning, spend a day at work before returning home again after the sun had set – of never seeing one’s home in daylight except in summer; MPs that had never had to fret over paying for light, heat and water - or food.
And it is this lack of life experience that has led to where we are now.
As I have repeatedly said, many times now (and as said on the Home Page Opinion), this election must see an end to the career politician - will it? Probably not but what can happen is for candidates to be more closely questioned on the doorstep. And let us not forget that it is those candidates who will be trudging the streets looking for your support and doing so every day. Voters will have to brave whatever the early winter brings us in terms of weather just once, on polling day. In the meantime, if these candidates, new or existing, have any sense at all, whether it is wet or dry, snowbound or ice-ridden, they must come and seek your permission to be your MP.
So what about these men and women that want your support, your permission, your vote? If they are indeed a new candidate, question them. Ask of their background, what they have done with their lives thus far. Ask them why you should bestow upon them a very well-paid position as your servant; for that is what they are - your servant. MPs are not and have never been our masters. We, the people, are theirs. Ask them if they accept that.
If the answer is yes, then you can vote for them, whatever party they may be from. And you will have five years to remind them of that and indeed you must – frequently. Hold them to account – even more frequently.
What if your candidate is already a sitting MP? The question this time around is undoubtedly that of Brexit. There is one fact regarding Brexit that nobody, not even the most die-hard and committed remain supporter can get away from; across the UK, a majority voted to leave. How big a majority matters not - it was still a majority that voted for the UK to leave the EU. That the country is still a member of the European Union is a savage indictment of those that have occupied the HoC. A remarkable number of those responsible will not be MPs after December 12, having decided to stand down from re-election and the country is better off without them. Are they jumping before they are pushed? Probably and these numbers may yet grow further.
If your candidate supported leaving, then vote for that candidate – he or she will be deserving of it. But what if they didn’t? Only you can decide that. Only you can decide whether or not to vote for somebody demonstrably shown to have betrayed the will of the majority. You could of course, vote for an Independent, should somebody be standing as one.
It may not necessarily be a bad thing to find that on the morning of Friday the 13th there are more new MPs not subservient to party demands than ever before – provided that they are genuinely new and not recycled old faces standing as Independents because they have been thrown out of their previous parties
Nigel Farage (Gage Skidmore)
None of this of course, takes into account the wild card. The one imponderable; Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, or TBP to give it the acronym most used recently. According to its leader, TBP wants a ‘clean break’ from the EU. It wants no ‘deal’, just for the UK to leave – ‘just leave’ as is often said on social media.
What does this actually mean? I may be – am – repeating myself again but it’s worth going over it once more. The ‘deal’ that everybody keeps banging on about is an agreement between the UK and the EU over the terms of withdrawal. It sets out the way in which life carries on while the deal that replaces it – usually referred to as a Free Trade Deal - is discussed.
It is NOT, most emphatically NOT, the deal that says how we, the UK, will relate to and with the EU for forever and a day. It is time limited and will be replaced. This is also a fact that has either been overlooked or simply ignored in the frantic hoo-hah of the debate over Brexit. And politicians – those wise careerists who have never done anything else except be politicians - are the most guilty.
When Theresa May triggered Article 50, there was much talk from senior Tories (including Boris Johnson) about what a great deal we would have with the EU. Ministers blathered on about how we would have the best ‘deal’ ever and how things would carry on as they were. Both Tory and Labour promised to honour the referendum result in the lust for a wonderful deal. Except all of them, every single one of those wise leaders in whom we placed our trust, forgot about one thing or more likely didn't know and never thought to find out - what Article 50 contained within its terms; the most significant of which is the requirement for the EU Commission to negotiate a withdrawal agreement (WA) first – before a trade deal. This is why the EU insisted that a WA be done and dusted. Nobody has ever actually said this, yet it is fact.
Before one bleats about ‘the deal’ and how flawed it was (or is) Article 50 itself is flawed for it doesn’t allow a WA and trade to be discussed alongside each other – as members of May’s government kept on saying they wanted. And it is this fact that led to Theresa May being out-thought rather well by the EU. Obviously the first duty of the EU’s negotiators, including Michel Barnier, is to the EU, not the UK. Theresa May’s drawbacks as UK leader were thus rather cruelly exposed.
But none of this gets away from the essential reality; whatever its terms, the WA is still only a WA. Nothing else, and losing sight of this so consistently is one reason why so many MPs have found themselves on the wrong side of popular opinion across the UK. It is also why so many of them must leave the HoC; put more brutally, they have shown themselves to be completely inadequate as the people’s representatives (no real life experience - how many times was it said that negotiations should have been discussed by those with that real-life experience?).
The problem with TBP’s stance of ‘no deal’ is that, thus far, nobody has been able to explain what that really means. As I’ve already said, the EU is duty-bound to protect its interests so what does 'no deal' mean?
Does it mean the immediate closure of the channel tunnel; does it mean the instant cessation of flights between EU countries and the UK; does it mean the fast ending of being able to buy Mercedes cars in the UK; does it mean the complete eradication of all and any contact with EU countries, the shutters coming down on UK Embassies across the continent; does it mean nobody from the UK can ever travel anywhere in Europe again? Does it mean the instantaneous rounding up and deportation of all EU citizens?
As it happens there are an astoundingly large number of people who seem to think just that. In fact, 'no deal' means none of these things – not a single one. Interim agreements covering most of the day-to-day activities that mean cross-border contact have already been signed; Eurostar services to Brussels will continue and flights will fly. And yes, you will still be able to buy a Merc (and get spare parts). You will even be able to export your goods and import EU goods – including medicines.
The WA merely enables life to go on pretty much as it has until that final ‘trade’ deal is done. The WA puts departure on an orderly footing. But - and this is very important - Article 50 also says that if no WA can be successfully negotiated within the two-year time limit it specifies...a withdrawing country will leave the EU without it. Unless of course, all remaining EU countries agree to extending that two-year period. And it is also why those interim agreements are signed - in case no WA is agreed.
Talk of ‘crashing out without a deal’ is thus arrant nonsense and is the fond saying (once yet again) of the career politician who has never been anywhere, never had a real job and never had any real life experience outside the Westminster bubble.
TBP however, will not gain enough seats in the HoC to form a government. Even Nigel Farage knows that, which is why he has said he does not want to be Prime Minister. There are, still, too many entrenched party loyalties for that to happen. Enough people will vote Labour, Tory and Lib-Dem to ensure that TBP does not get the seats needed to form a majority in the HoC. Nevertheless the party can be of influence, considerably so in fact.
Jo Swinson (Chris McAndrew)
Look again at facts; the Lib-Dems want to stop Brexit altogether. They have said so. This is not what a majority of people want. Jo Swinson will not become leader of the largest party in the HoC and thus PM. A vote for the Lib-Dems will be wasted (the same applies to the Greens). The SNP want Scotland to break away from the UK – they also will not form a UK government, not least because they will not field 650 candidates across every constituency. That is not their purpose, so they also will not form a UK government. There are also enough people in Scotland who do not want Scotland to leave the UK so…get out and vote for somebody else!
This leaves Labour and the Conservatives. Labour, under Jeremy Corbyn, has degenerated from a once-great party into an anti-Semitic, anti-democratic, authoritarian, elective dictatorship. History has shown time and time again that once such a movement gets into power, it will move heaven and earth to keep it (read my book…). Many true Labour supporters know this and it is another reason why so many traditional Labour voters will not vote for the party while Corbyn and his supporters are so ensconced within it. Labour’s record under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown was exemplary for the number of oppressive and freedom-removing policies it adopted (again, buy and read Comments of a Common Man) yet Blair and Brown were meek and mild moderates compared to a Jeremy Corbyn/John McDonnell/Momentum-run Labour.
Jeremy Corbyn (Chris McAndrew)
But votes for other parties, including TBP, will drain votes from the only other party left – the Conservatives under Boris Johnson. And this is why, however much one may have to hold one’s nose while doing so, people must vote Tory on December 12.
Can we trust Johnson’s Tories? He has been accused of throwing Northern Ireland (NI) under a bus. No he didn’t, no matter what the DUP say. Granted it might appear Johnson sacrificed NI to get his WA sorted, but did he? Look at it another way and look factually. NI may well have remained ‘aligned’ with EU customs arrangements but they will also be aligned with those of the UK. It puts NI in a unique position to become a bridge between the UK and EU and to take advantage of some almost outrageous advantages the rest of the UK can't. If that is, NI chooses to do so and still the province will have the ability to stop those arrangements if it again so chooses and still once more, the arrangement will be replaced by the permanent trade deal yet to be discussed.
The Conservatives remain the only party that is in a position to carry out the wishes of the majority who voted in the EU referendum. Johnson and Farage need to stop the anti-each other rhetoric and work with each other; TBP can be very effective in Leave-voting seats where the Tories stand little or no chance of winning. Equally there is nothing to be gained by TBP fielding a candidate in a leave-voting Tory seat that already has a leave-supporting Conservative MP.
Put another way, it is time for politicians to put the country first and not themselves.
Boris Johnson (Steve Nimmons)
And the ordinary person, again as I said above, no matter how much of a personal revolution it may be, must vote Conservative in December. You can also look at that another way; with a Tory government, with a majority big enough to get things done, Boris Johnson will have five years to sort out a viable working relationship between the UK and the EU that benefits both, to sort out the needs of the rest of the country, including the police, the NHS, the insane cost of having a home to live in, the obscenity of age discrimination, the Blair-inspired injustice of criminalising the innocent through a distorted prosecutions and court system (ask yourself who was the Director of Public Prosecutions under Blair then parachuted into a safe Labour seat as an MP and is now a dark horse to succeed Jeremy Corbyn) as well as a host of other things - they are needless to say, in my book – go buy it. And just as vitally, both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have five years in which to reclaim their parties from those who have taken them over.
It is not the politician who has to set the lead however. It is you. You the voter; you the ordinary person; it is you who needs to find their voice and to hold those to whom you grant their positions to account - now, over the next few weeks, for the five years that follow and the years after that.
Let Friday the 13th be the day that people, real, ordinary people, take control.
© Kevan James 2019
Comments of a Common Man is available from Amazon at £9.99