Brexit.

Tigger

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The red-blue duopoly has depended on voters being psychological hostages of the idea that the choice at general elections is a binary one. They lose that grip on the minds of the electorate when challenger parties have a credible chance of securing representation. Rob Ford, professor of politics at Manchester University, has coined a neat name for this phenomenon. He calls it the “Tinkerbell effect”. If people stop believing the old parties are invincible, they become beatable. If people start believing that challenger parties can win, that belief becomes self-fulfilling.
 

Innula Zenovka

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Does it do that now?
I know you're joking but I take the serious point behind it.

Nevertheless, if the new Tory leader, whoever it is, finds himself (as it will almost certainly be) in a situation where parliament is about to force him to ask for another extension in order to prevent him deliberately crashing us out with no deal, it makes no sense for him to wait for them to do that -- he'd be far better off politically if he takes the initiative when he sees what's coming, and asks for the extension himself in order to hold an election, in the hope of choosing a new parliament who will be prepared to support him and allow him to take a decision.

And if he doesn't, then the fact the opposition (who will require the support of only a handful of Tory rebels to make it happen) were able to force him to ask for another extension against his stated policy means that they'll be able to force a general election, too, and it's very difficult to understand why under those circumstances they wouldn't want to trigger one, even if he doesn't.

I don't know enough about the Conservative Party's rules on leadership challenges to say how it would happen, but if for some extraordinary reason Boris Johnson or whoever it is finds himself forced to ask for another extension but doesn't call a general election, and for some equally extraordinary reason the opposition parties fail then to carry a vote of no confidence in the government, then the new PM will immediately find himself with even less support from his own side than had Theresa May and the Conservatives won't waste much time in removing him themselves. There's plenty of them who want his job, after all.

So all in all I can't see any reason the new Tory Leader wouldn't call an election rather than have one forced on him or risk being prematurely deposed by his own MPs within months of taking office.
 
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Porsupah Ree

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With the obvious caveat that the Guardian does enjoy shitstirring when it comes to Labour coverage:

Jeremy Corbyn and his inner circle are considering a frontbench reshuffle that could see the shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, moved as a punishment for insisting that the party must back a second Brexit referendum, according to several senior figures in the party.

There is also growing support from some of Corbyn’s allies, including union leaders close to the leader’s office, for a new contest to be held that could see Tom Watson replaced as deputy leader, following his persistent backing for a public vote on the UK’s exit from the EU.
 
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Bartholomew Gallacher

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Sometimes it's really hard to understand Jeremy Corbyn - and I must admit here I am lost completely.

Jeremy Corbyn indents to drop social mobility as a Labour goal in case Labor is in the next government in the position to do so.

Instead he wants to implement an "social justice commission", enabling opportunity for all, not only a few select which got advantage by social mobility.


Now social mobility for me is a clearly defined thing; "social justice" is not. It looks like me that he's dropping one fundamental goal and replacing it with a smoke grenade. Aside it it seems to me that he got social mobility and the idea absolutely wrong.

Anyway, I still don't get it; replacing one honorable goal with something so vague. Or am I missing something here?
 
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Innula Zenovka

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It's been a truism of socialist thought (at least of many schools of socialist thought with which I'm familiar, anyway) that social mobility isn't much of a remedy for structural social inequality.

That is, the fact that a small number sufficiently talented individuals are assisted in escaping their deprived social and economic background is no solution when the real problem is that the economy depends on a large number of people remaining in comparative poverty and deprivation, and the real remedy is to set about building a fairer and more equal society for everyone by trying to build an economy that does not depend on the existence of an underclass that has to suffer in poverty on zero-hours contracts and relying on state benefits and food banks to supplement their inadequate earnings in order for the economy to function.

In other words, it's great that we've got both a Home Secretary (and possible Prime Minister) and a Mayor of London whose fathers came to the UK from Pakistan to drive buses, but that doesn't itself do much to improve the relative deprivation and racism faced of the great majority of people whose parents came to the UK from the Indian subcontinent in search of work during the 1960s and 1970s.

Similarly, while it's great that Nadhim Zahawi, an Iraqi Kurd who came here as a child with his parents seeking asylum from Saddam Hussein's Iraq back in 1976, was able to make millions from advertising and market research, go on to found YouGov and then become Conservative MP for Stratford upon Avon and a government minister, that doesn't change the fact that the vast majority of asylum seekers and their children have a very hard time of it here.

I dislike Jeremy Corbyn in many ways, not because I'm a Blairite or a "Red Tory" or whatever but because I think he's a poor leader who has a dangerously over-simplified misunderstanding of socialist economics that is perilously close to that of the authoritarian populists and that, while he may well honestly believe he "doesn't have an anti-semitic bone in his body" he really has to learn that, while attacking particular policies of particular Israeli politicians and parties is perfectly OK, attacking them in anti-semitic terms most certainly isn't.

However, despite that, I have to say this strikes me as one of his more sensible pronouncements.
 

OrinB

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They re-defined the term social mobility from it's usual generic definition of societal upward progression to a term designed to think that's what it means, but it's definition is actually embedded somewhere in a party policy document!

I doubt the original term definition was as honourable as it appeared. Now we get another commission to re-define the term once again; encompassing a larger range of society that have been left behind therefore requiring new social balance or justice to reach a pre-defined political goal that makes the MP's feel like they've achieved something.
 
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Innula Zenovka

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Ok - so we'll see. For me social mobility is a fundamental part of social justice; you cannot have the latter without the first one. It just doesn't work.
Sure. But I think as well as trying to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to make the most of their abilities no matter how deprived their background, we need also try to ensure no one has to endure a deprived background in the first place.

It's all very well to have a society where it's possible for the talented to rise "from rags to riches" but it's a structural failing in that society that it requires some people to be forced into rags in the first place, which is why I would far rather live in one of the Scandinavian countries, for example, than in the USA.

Social mobility is a good thing, of course, but it's only part of the story.
 

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I think the issue is that social mobility is unequally distributed and there are snakes as well as ladders.
 

Innula Zenovka

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While it's all very well that the son of a German draft-dodger and brothel-keeper could go on to become a billionaire, and that his son should go on to become POTUS, this does not, in itself, prove that the US is a particularly fair or equal society.

Or, to put it another way, the fact that people can use their innate ability to escape slums and ghettos wracked by crime and poverty doesn't in any way excuse the existence of those slums and ghettos, and the attendant crime and poverty, in the first place, and we'd do better to concentrate on eradicating those than we would on helping a fortunate few escape them.
 

Porsupah Ree

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Gyimah, who is the only candidate campaigning for a “people’s vote”, said some of his rivals realise that the country is heading for a second referendum when faced with the choice between that outcome and no deal, but they would prefer to have that imposed by parliament. “There are a number of leadership candidates who recognise this. They don’t want to propose it and they want it done to them rather than say it in the contest,” he said.
 

Kara Spengler

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For an even quicker - and funnier - introduction than TLDR, try Jay Foreman's five "Politics unboringed" videos. They were made in 2015 so no mention of Brexit.

Here's the first:
Yeah, I subscribe to him but his videos are few and far between lately.
 

Kara Spengler

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Sure. But I think as well as trying to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to make the most of their abilities no matter how deprived their background, we need also try to ensure no one has to endure a deprived background in the first place.

It's all very well to have a society where it's possible for the talented to rise "from rags to riches" but it's a structural failing in that society that it requires some people to be forced into rags in the first place, which is why I would far rather live in one of the Scandinavian countries, for example, than in the USA.

Social mobility is a good thing, of course, but it's only part of the story.
Do I even have to say what I would pick if I had to choose between living in Finland and living in the US? :)
 

Innula Zenovka

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Waiting for the next few months and wondering what the ensuing Brexit horrors will be like has reminded me of something that seems rather apposite.

As I've mentioned plenty of times, I was treated for cancer of the throat some years ago, though it's over and I'm full remission and it's not likely to come back, so no hugs please.

Anyway, it feels like preparing myself for the whole ordeal of chemo- and radio-therapy all over again, only knowing then what I know about what's really coming.

That is, I know we're in a very serious position, with outcomes ranging from the worst possible (death/WTO crash out) through very unpleasant (withdrawal agreement terms/laryngectomy) to best possible, even though things won't ever be the same again in so many ways.

In the case of the final, best, option, the best outcome is Remain, whether after a second referendum or (as I hope) unilaterally, but it's going to be similar to cancer in that the damage done by the the therapy itself -- the damage done to Britain's economy, political structure, social relationships, world standing, personal happiness, and so on in this analogy, or the therapy itself in my experience of cancer -- is pretty life-changing and irrevocable.

The analogy works reasonably well, in that the first few weeks of the process -- chemotherapy/Conservative leadership elections -- were increasingly unpleasant and caused feelings of nausea, anxiety and general malaise but were nevertheless bearable. I've had worse hangovers, though none that lasted for six weeks and without even the fun of getting drunk first.

In, however, the next phase -- radiotherapy/fights in parliament prompting analogies with 1680s and even the 1630s (I didn't say they had to be good analogies, necessarily) -- is going to be really make-or-break and hellishly painful and exhausting to get through.

The big difference, of course, is that I had full confidence in the expertise, professionalism, commitment and humanity of the team treating me for cancer, while not so much in that of those in Westminster.

And, of course, during my radiotherapy the NHS kept me well supplied with both opiates and morphine, which would be probably be a great comfort this time round, too.

In both cases the prognosis was reasonably good, though the not-so-good and the oh-bugger scenarios were both far too real and probable for comfort.

However, there's no more any of us can do about it now than there was I could do then, other than try to concentrate on getting through things day by day and concentrating on the next milestone and not worrying about the bigger picture, which is just too overwhelming to contemplate.

But I am so bloody tired of all this nonsense, I really am.

Sorry.. feeling old and grumpy and ranty.... grr
 
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Arkady Arkright

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As I said before on this thread, we're fucked - even Innula's optimism appears to be wavering... What with the court's saying it's OK for politicians to lie to the electorate (Boris' "£350 million bus"), an outbreak of totalitarianism in the tory leadership contenders (Raad and McVey's "if the MP's don't do what we want, we'll sack them all and rule by proclamation"), and the labour party split down the middle by anti-semitism and Corbyn's irrational hatred of Europe...

...Excuse me while I sit in the corner with my thumb in my mouth, wide-eyed and sobbing...
 

Bartholomew Gallacher

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Nigel Farage said about two weeks ago one thing, with which I can do agree: there are no real parties in the UK any more, only leavers and remainers.

And this is exactly the big problem right now. What the leavers did was using propaganda to deliver lies and to tell the people the lie that the EU is responsible for the problems the neoliberal political agenda of Thatcher&Cameron has brought upon the country. And of course the people bought it, because nobody really stood up and told them otherwise.

The thing is though that you cannot simply bring back the old times; even Trump is unable to do so. In a globalised economy the UK alone has simply put not enough weight to be heared at all, while in the EU that UK had a chance.
 

Caliandris

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I've come to realise that people use their hearts and not their heads when choosing a political party to support. They cling to their ideas of what the parties stand for, and ignore what they actually say and do. It seems to me much like picking a football team and then sticking with them through thick and thin. The addition of Brexit choices to the mix is what has caused utter confusion, as that is also a subject on which most people have a heart-feeling either for or against the EU. It's hardly surprising that there is an overwhelming antipathy to the EU in the UK when the papers have barely ever said anything positive about the EU - all the coverage has been persistently negative. I never saw any coverage of the financial support given to deprived areas, or the provision of superfast broadband to Cornwall etc.

I think it is the combination of EU and party that has broken up the system, but using logic and argument has little purchase when people aren't thinking with that part of their body. I don't know how you appeal to the heart in these circumstances.

The Tory leadership contest simply demonstrates we're running on close to empty with none of the candidates looking as though they can handle the Brexit chaos - and I truly believe Johnson would be an utter disaster as PM. He has no opinions that can't be changed with a five minute chat as far as I can ascertain. If other tories are supporting him, I believe that's either because they believe he will be easy to manipulate, or because of his legendary popularity with the electorate. Not because they think he'd be the best man for the job.

He's difficult to assess, because he is very changeable, and a lot of what he presents is artifice. A friend who worked with him on the London assembly said he would agree to oppose a road building scheme at one end of a street, when canvassing in the street, and then to support it at the other end. My friend's view was that he couldn't remember what he had said five minutes before or went with whatever would make him most popular at that moment, with the idea that no one would bother to follow the subject and work out that he had misrepresented what he planned to do, or he truly didn't know what he was going to do because he couldn't be bothered to know what the party line was and be consistent about it.

However, an article in the Oldie by one of his ex colleagues as a journalist, maintained that he had a photographic memory for things - that he could meet someone he was briefly introduced to at a party 20 years before and remember their name, what they were interested in and who they were. Reader, both these things cannot be true, unless he is simply someone who conveniently "forgets" what he has said five minutes ago in order to curry favour with an elector. If he is that, woe betide us if he becomes prime minister.