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May 23, 2019

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From Arse To Elbow

One of the ironies of May's tenure is that she garnered a lot of support among Tory MPs, despite being a remainer, precisely because they thought she would put the interests of the party first.

A further irony is that the Tories' best hope now may well be to elect Johnson as leader precisely because he is a lying opportunist. He is probably the only candidate who stands a chance of getting away with a reverse ferret and thus preventing a split that would put them out of power for a generation.

JohnM

Shhhhh !

Keith

a reverse ferret means ditch the whole idea of Brexit?

Guano

Theresa May did try to put the interests of the Conservative Party first. She made the speech at the Tory Party conference in late 2016, and then the Lancaster House speech, with the intention of calling a General Election. Those speeches are full of Brexity sound bites: the aim was to make all those voters who like those Brexity sound bites into Tory voters - and then she thought that she would have a big majority in parliament and would be able to get any kind of deal negotiated with the EU through parliament.

When it came to it, she didn't draw in enough Brexity voters to compensate for the voters lost through her wooden performance in the election campaign. She lost her majority, but left in the minds of too many people the erroneous idea that the UK could have frictionless trade and cooperation with the rest of Europe while opting out of the institutions that were created to facilitate frictionless trade and cooperation in Europe.

Europe and it various institutions are vehicles for collective action. The slogan "Europe Yes, EU no" makes little sense when all of Europe has agreed to trade and cooperate through a set of collective action institutions. The Tories should know this because they were The Party of Europe and played a big part in building those institutions. A lot of the Brexit discourse is based on pretending that rules and processes that the UK helped to create are an outside imposition and aren't necessary for achieving collective benefits.

Eminent emigrant

This is a bit cheeky, but the argument about older disinterested people looking out for the common good rather than personal gain could also be applied to listening to older people on Brexit :)

Ralph Musgrave

Chris trotts out the tired old leftie claim that the Tories gave us "austerity".

The first problem with that claim is that the word austerity has two quite distinct meanings: first, lack of aggregate demand, and second, inadequate public spending. Unless those who complain about "Tory austerity" specify which meaning they're on about, they might as well set out words chosen at random from a dictionary.

Second, autsterity (in the inadequate demand sense) did not come about just because of Tory politicians: a sizeable proportion of the economics profession were pro-austerity as well. See:

https://www.project-syndicate.org/blog/unrepentant-economists-by-robert-skidelsky

Third, as Bill Mitchell (Australian economics prof who himself is left of centre) has pointed out over and over, while right wing politicians are useless, left wing ones are not a whole lot better.

Dipper

@ Guano. When that collective action means collectively dumping a medium-sized European nation on the UK in a generation without any external help, then I'm out.

Guano

Dipper - what are you talking about?

George Carty

Guano,

Dipper is talking about the European Commission population projections which predicted a UK population of 80 million by 2050. He (like most Brexiters, I suspect) sees Brexit primarily as a means of curbing excessive population growth resulting from immigration.

Guano

I guessed that Dipper was talking about FoM (because he often is). I am fascinated by the way that, like most Brexiteers, he frames such issues as the UK being the victim of something that the EU does and forgets the UK's agency in all this.

FoM is part and parcel of the Single Market that the UK government was at the forefront in creating (with Thatcher in the lead). FoM is an issue because of the accession of southern and eastern European states (that Tory UK governments were very much in favour of). FoM didn't come about because it was forced on us by unaccountable European elites or because Blair/Brown opened up our borders (which is the kind of thing that Brexiteers say) - FoM is one of the pillars of the Single Market that Tory UK governments took the lead in developing and which the UK press was very much in favour of at the time. It was a form of collective action among European states to develop the institutional structure of a Europe-wide market, and like all collective action it has rules and procedures that build trust and help to achieve a collective benefit. Some of it may be irksome but it is worthwhile if all the parties gain from it overall. The time to deal with the irksome bits was in the original negotiations and not 30 years later.

I agree that Tories have a problem with collective action and this is part of the Brexit crisis. The vision of Global Britain appears to rest on the assumption that the UK will be better off if it casts off the shackles of rules and procedures and becomes "buccaneering" - in reality a more inter-connected world is going to require more rules and procedures

z

You could say the same about the leadership of the Labour party. If party members had chosen a leader with popular appeal, it might well be in government.

cjcjc

Isn't austerity supposed to be the correct response to the "climate emergency"...?

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