Hello from Blighty where we struggle on as a nation, if a disunited one full of anger and the corpses of political careers that are stacking ever higher and higher.
Yes it’s a week on from that which was Brexit and my how our fair isle has changed with hate crime up 5 times the weekly average (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun…), Scotland pushing for a second Independence Referendum on the back of Brexit and this time likely to succeed, and a continent divided on whether to punish us for disagreeing with their view on the world. However as some of you may have guessed from the banner image I put a whole 30 seconds into making those aren’t my main topics today. Instead I shall be talking about just how completely unrecognisable our two main parties, the Labour Party and Conservative Party, have become in the space of a few days. Hold on as this is going to be a long one (yes even by my annoyingly lengthy standards).
First Labour and to understand the current predicament we must go all the way back to the now distant May 2015 and the General Election. After five years of Conservative-LibDem coalition government Labour was expected to win as a minority government (i.e. a government without overall control but able to get by on unofficial backing from others) and all the polls agreed. Instead the unthinkable happened and the UK voted for a Conservative majority, if small, and saw then leader of Labour, Ed Miliband, resign and kick off a leadership contest which initially saw party mainstays Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper run along with lesser known (and more to the Right) Liz Kendall. At the eleventh hour however news emerged of a Far Left candidate suddenly joining the race. This candidate was Jeremy Corbyn, a longstanding backbench MP (i.e. someone who doesn’t hold a ministerial office) who had been in the Commons since the 80s.
Despite barely getting the needed 35+ MPs to back him to become a candidate Jeremy quickly became the clear favourite among the grassroots of the Party and others from unaffiliated or other Left-wing parties who joined Labour as a result of his running which saw him win the leadership on the 12th September with 59% of the vote in the first round. This divisive split between support from MPs and the grassroots sowed the seeds of what has happened in the last several days.
Many who watch politics in the UK were always expecting an inevitable revolt by ‘Blairite’ MPs (those who followed Centre to Centre-Right Third Way policies of Tony Blair) that would attempt to dislodge Corbyn from power, with well-known satirical magazine Private Eye stating it’d ‘all be over by Christmas’, but no one expected what happened this week or how quickly it’d happen.
In the early hours of Sunday news broke that the well-known Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn (son of the famous Left Wing politician Tony Benn), who had been put in the Shadow Cabinet (the opposition body to the governmental Cabinet of the highest offices of State) by Corbyn along with others as part of a unity drive at the start of his leadership, had been sacked for orchestrating a plot of mass resignations from Shadow Cabinet positions. Come the morning this happened anyway, with a quickly accelerating list of resignations which, as of yesterday, stands at 63 resignations from Shadow Cabinet and other ministerial positions (http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/w…). The mass of resignations got so bad that in one instance a person brought in to replace the resigning Shadow Education Secretary resigned themselves only two days later (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education…).
This whole state of affairs has completely torn apart the Labour Party with Corbyn and his followers now completely at odds with most Labour MPs, who voted in a vote of no confidence 172 to 40 against him (more than 3/4s of Labour’s 229 MPs). It is common right now to find comments about teaching ‘traitorous dogs’ a lesson or removing ‘traitors’. These aren’t racists talking about immigrants as one would expect, these are Corbyn followers threatening Labour MPs who no longer back him as leader, with the police now getting involved due to threats sent to some MPs or calls made to them (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/2…). This got further exposed yesterday where at a conference regarding Labour’s Antisemitism Inquiry (a whole other mess involving eternal problem causer Ken Livingstone who Corbyn brought back in from the political cold) a pro-Corbyn activist openly accused a Jewish MP of press collusion, seemingly harking to the conspiracy that Jews control the media (though the activist denies this) (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politi…).
This situation now stands at a crossroads with predictions around that the Party may split in two, with the majority of Labour MPs taking the Labour name and forming a new version of the party while Corbyn and co form something under the Momentum (the name of the main pro-Corbyn support group) banner. Either way it means we are left without an effective opposition party to the Conservatives, a dangerous situation.
Now our second (and thankfully shorter) topic which is the Conservatives. Now to add context to this we must first go back to Margaret Thatcher’s final days in office where, after Thatcher’s defiant opposition to the then called European Economic Community’s (now called the EU) implementation of the Euro through the Exchange Rate Mechanism caused a leadership crisis, the Conservative Party began its now famous paralysing split over the issue of Europe. This split would go on to cause major problems throughout John Major’s leadership in the 90s and during its time in opposition during the 00s. While it was mostly subdued during the Coalition (with the Conservatives more focused on controlling the LibDems) David Cameron chose to have a referendum on EU membership to not only win votes but to also hopefully put the European issue to bed in the party his way.
As we saw last week that last part went spectacularly wrong.
Now the Conservatives are locked into a leadership battle and prior to yesterday Boris Johnson, former mayor of London and well known clown, was seen as the clear frontrunner to become the new Prime Minister after his leadership of the Vote Leave campaign, along with his friend and fellow MP Michael Gove, which won the Referendum. However the first signs of what to come came on Wednesday even when quite mysteriously an email from Gove’s wife to Gove mysteriously leaked to the press and this mysteriously contained content doubting Boris’ leadership ability (http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/…).
It was all quite mysterious and totally not planned, honest.
Then yesterday morning Michael Gove in a live press conference not only stabbed his friend in the back by claiming he wasn’t fit to lead but also announced his own candidacy for leader, despite his years of previous claims he himself wasn’t fit to lead.
This led to Boris Johnson not only withdrawing his candidacy but also most likely seeing his own career beyond being an MP go down the pan from then on.
As a result this leaves only five contenders for the Conservative leadership being the following:
Michael Gove, an unlikable backstabber who fucked up the education system.
Andrea Leadsom, a Leave campaigner who previously voted in favour of EU policies (http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/24829/andre…).
Liam Fox, the former Defence Secretary who resigned after it was found he kept bringing his best mate everywhere (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politi…).
Stephen Crabb, a man who is friends with a group who thinks you can pray the gay away (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politi…).
And lastly Theresa May, the current Home Secretary and most sane of the candidates but has also been mired by controversy over screw ups, such as the long running Abu Qatada affair during the Coalition years (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul…).
All of them, if elected, face the constitutional mess that is whether Article 50 can even be triggered which is required to leave the EU and also a fresh crisis due to them not actually being voted for by the electorate to become Prime Minister.
So that’s the utter mess that has been the last week in the UK politically. Fun fun fun.
So what have you lot been doing this week or are planning to do this weekend? Anything fun or interesting or just more of the same old same old?