Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Interesting Britain!

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  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Rich Lock,

    Every single expat was barred from voting in the EU referendum

    Not this one - and not any 'British citizens (but not other British nationals), who had once lived in the United Kingdom, but had since and in the meantime lived outside of the United Kingdom, but for a period of no more than 15 years"

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_European_Union_membership_referendum,_2016#Eligibility_to_vote

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Rich Lock,

    every single one of her MPs needs to turn up, every single time in order for any legislation to pass

    You should check the numbers:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_general_election,_2017#Results

    She has 317 nominally Tory MPs. The opposition have 314 (that excludes the 7 Sinn Fein MPs who don't take their seats). She also has the DUP. So in general, she will win divisions by about 13 votes. So actually, thirteen of her MPs would need to abstain, or seven vote against, to lose her a vote.

    Which isn't to say that the opposition might be able to craft an amendment on the single market that would attract Ken Clarke and his supporters over, but it'll be hard procedurally and politically.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    It is possible that they could lose a vote of confidence in Parliament, but even that won't automatically trigger an election.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fixed-term_Parliaments_Act_2011

    Unless there was a second positive vote of confidence, in the same or a different governmental group, a vote of no confidence does trigger an election.

    You know, the UK political system is extremely well documented. There are lots of good resources out there. Whatever ones argument, it strengthens it if you don't post gratuitous factual errors.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    Where is the factual error in that sentence? "Automatically" is correct.

    The other scenarios after a vote of no confidence (a new government being formed) may be politically difficult, even implausible, but they are there.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1330 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to simon g,

    Your implication is that it wouldn't happen. In practice, after 14 days, an election would be triggered by an automatic process (no further vote needed) unless either the incumbent were to find the numbers for a second vote, or the opposition were to acquire enough support to form a government with the confidence of the house.

    (Like much of the Tories recent programme (see also EVEL), the Fixed Term Parliaments Act was constitutionally ill-conceived. I notice May intended to repeal it - whether she'll actually try remains to be seen).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • John Farrell,

    The numbers are complicated by the election of a speaker, who has only a limited casting vote, and three deputy speakers. I haven't been able to find if the deputies also are unable to vote in the commons. This could potentially remove 4 conservative votes.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 496 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to John Farrell,

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speaker_of_the_House_of_Commons_(United_Kingdom)

    Deputies have the same powers as the Speaker when presiding. Akin to the Speaker, they do not take part in partisan politics, and remain completely impartial in the House. However, they are entitled to take part in constituency politics, and to make their views known on these matters. In general elections, they stand as party politicians.

    Two of the current deputies are Labour and one Conservative, ensuring the loss of MPs to each party is balanced. (the speaker is currently a former Conservative - and not just ex-officio, I suspect).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    FPP has some considerable advantages, as long as you have a largely two party system.

    I hope this isn't actually part of your argument, since it's clearly a circular justification.

    For example, it actually allows for more radical reform once you have a mandate.

    Also without a mandate. Which is how we got neoliberalism. MMP came ten years later in NZ. Britain, a strongly neoliberal country, practically the inventor of it, brought it about using FPP, and has maintained it for 30-40 years using that system.

    Let’s face it, MMP was voted for in New Zealand as an additional constitutional check on a series of rogue parliaments

    No. It was voted for because a majority of voters in two referendums wanted it, for reasons that ranged widely. It is not a constitutional check at all. The elected parliament is still sovereign.

    not as a tool for legislative reform.

    Since it literally reformed the Legislature it's hard to make any sense of a statement like that.

    And there is much to be said in favour of the bracing democracy of being directly responsible to an electorate.

    Which is probably why we still have electorates with people directly responsible to them.

    When was the last time under MMP a senior minister lost their seat and was outside WINZ on Monday morning?

    2008? Winston Peters? Not only his seat but his entire party. Judith Tizard? It happens. Under FPP, MPs who were senior were simply given safe seats, and that practice continues anyway. That's decided by the same tiny group of political insiders who draw up the party list, and it always was, and it works much the same way in Britain.

    FPP also emphasises the need to have well developed electorate organisations, which in turn improves public involvement vis-a-vis our tiny elite cadre parties.

    That aspect is less pivotal in our system, certainly. For the SFA of people who ever get involved in party politics, I guess that might be an important factor. Public involvement of, say, the 2% of people who give a shit about turning up to sausage sizzles and going door to door spreading the word for some local persona. They can still do it, though, since we still have electorates and they still matter, forming half of our parliament.

    MMP is a great system for getting an accurate representation of the voters in parliament.

    It's a better system than FPP anyway, for that purpose.

    Once they are there, it has become a great system for the careerists and managerialists to keep the neoliberal radical centre well and truly locked in place.

    Not that FPP has posed any great problems to neoliberal radical centrists. You could hardly have picked a worse time to sing the praises of the British electoral system. Not only is there still strong hardcore austere neoliberalism in control of the country, but it's there by the grace of less than a majority of voters, and the radical reform it seems to be capable of bringing about is to convulsively shit its pants about Europe and yet not actually decisively do anything about it beyond fouling up the nest.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Russell Brown,

    There's been a petition calling on both May and Corbyn to commit to a proportional system and it's now nearing its 300,000-name target.

    But the awkward reality is that it won't happen because both May and Corbyn benefited greatly from third-party votes collapsing.

    I really liked voting under NZ's MMP system. Simple, and never made me fell like I had a wasted vote because I happened to be living in the wrong street. The complete ongong failure of any sort of adult discussion for an alternative to the constituency FPP winner-takes-all in the UK is a continuing souce of irritation.

    However, it does look like some of the patches developed to work around the flaws in the source code are starting to work - there's be some post-election chatter about the effectiveness of Labour's constiuency-targeted advertising, the nummber of users of mynearestmarginal.com, etc.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to BenWilson,

    I don't think I've ever seen a more disuniting movement. It's literally a movement to break out of a union. They are incompetently pissing away one of the few good things about being in Europe. The most frustrating part is that there is a huge number of people in Britain who aren't stupid and don't want this. But that is not how Blighty works. It's vying to out-clownshoe the USA and at the moment that is a big ask.

    Not sure about this. The neolibs in power who badly wanted Brexit, and campaigned hard for leave, adroitly managed to get the referendum result they wanted. However, they also wanted ultra-hard Brexit, and they've tripped up on that hurdle.

    The mistake they appear to have made is that those voting leave weren't all stereotypical swivel-eyed UKIP loons. As Russell has pointed out, the Conservatives went all-in on picking up the UKIP vote. But a lot of people who voted leave are just worried about jobs, schools, local ecomomic issues, and legitimate immigration concerns*, and used the referendum as a way of expressing that. Given an alternative option in this general election that addressed those concerns, they voted Labour rather than Conservative. Teresa May absolutely does not have a mandate for hard Brexit, and given the current division of seats in parliament, the amount of horse-trading required both within and without her own party to make any sort of progress....well, who knows, but it's probably going to be a lot softer than it might be.

    *immigration is a boil that still needs to lanced in UK politics - there is a tendancy of 'the left' to shout 'THAT'S RAAAAACIST' at any normal person who attempts to raise the issue, and shut down discussion. But it's a visible issue that is of genuine concern to many people, that needs to be discussed sensibly. Leaving aside the gangmasters and farm workers (slave labour, effectively), who are mostly under the everyday radar, there are huge and visible proportions of builders, plumbers, cooks, waitresses, petrol station attendents, delivery couriers, hotel receptionists, etc. When we came back to the UK in 2012 after ten years in NZ, it was surprising to the point of shock how often, in ordinary every day domestic and business situations, we would be interacting with someone with a non-British accent. I cannot remember the last time we got a home delivery, or bought petrol, or got some minor building work done, or were served in a cafe, by someone with a native British accent. Basically, many low-paid, long-hours, insecure jobs are now...well, I hesitate to use the word 'dominated', but it does seem applicable. Obviously, that's something that is going to worry people in pre-existing communities who might be struggling with employment and financial issues.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Apparently some internal polling a couple of days out indicated to the Conservatives that things were going badly wrong, but that didn't seem to change much from them.

    What surprises me the most is Scotland. Obviously not living there is a handicap, but I hadn't realised that the SNP had such feet of clay. Most of us south of the border were thinking a bad night for them would be 45-7 MPs and a good night would be they took the remaining 3 seats. Now even the Lib Dems have 4 Scottish MPs and it is likely that the next Lib Dem leader, if Farron resigns, will be a 38 year old ex minister who grew up on edges of Glasgow.

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1025 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rich Lock,

    I can see that it was a protest vote against the status quo. The problem is that it wasn't like throwing your vote at the Homebrewers Front when it results in a complete social order redefinition at the hands of the Tory Party. There is so much more at stake than immigration and yes, it's a boil that hasn't been lanced, in the UK or here. The public debate has not happened. Brexit is probably the least sane way I can imagine to have it, committing to an outcome without any detail, plan, or vision relating to the myriad issues facing the country, beyond scapegoating the relationship with all of the country's neighbors.

    It's beginning to happen here - clearly Labour's done their research and worked out the numbers are there to back a tighter immigration regime, or at least making noises about one. It's cynical in the way that Corbyn backing Brexit is cynical, he basically can't not back it now despite the support being not exactly a clear majority. Problem is, it's not divided on party lines, and it's probably a divisive issue.

    I still feel that the real issue is even now being avoided. The direct assault on neoliberalism itself, the alternate world order that doesn't allow the whole fight to be framed in the terms that made neoliberalism successful in the first place.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    We've (okay, I have) been talking a lot about numbers, but I watched a couple of The Guardian's regional vox pop video series Anywhere But Westminster shot either side of (and on) election day and I really appreciated the way they put faces to the various voters. It kind of made the way the vote split more real. Some vivid stuff from Corbyn rallies too.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    And one more: John Oliver on how royally fucked Britain is going into Brexit negotiations.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to BenWilson,

    It's cynical in the way that Corbyn backing Brexit is cynical, he basically can't not back it now despite the support being not exactly a clear majority.

    He got hammered before and straight after the referendum for not appearing to back remain strongly enough. Assuming that was fair, and not just a convenient stick that was handed to the media with which to beat him, then it isn't his cynicism that's driving his current position. One of the many problems with the referendum is that it's hard to get people to vote for (i.e. with at least a small teaspoon of enthusiasm) an institution which is essentially a bureaucratic trading block. You may as well be asked to get enthused as to which font you prefer on local council form 27b(i) - planning permission for temporary garden structures, not including sheds and other storage structures.

    It also doesn't help that (like all large institutions), the EU has a huge number of issues and valid criticisms, and clearly and demonstrably completely fucked Greece hard the year before. There are strong and valid criticisms/arguments against the European Union from 'the left'. But unfortunately, the choice was 'we're having this referendum. Take it or leave it' (would sir prefer his rotted cabbage raw, or boiled?).

    The libdems went all-in on 'no brexit' as more or less their only campaign issue, and ended up essentially spinning their wheels - marginal gains. It would have been a big wedge issue if Labour had done the same.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Corbyn was ambivalent on Europe for good, socialist reasons and has always been ambivalent on Europe. Unlike the new labour liberal middle classes who have benefited financially from the neoliberal European project he could see it’s considerable flaws, and has been a consistent critic of them.

    Corbyn was mainly hammered on his Brexit position by the snowflake liberal elite media pundits for daring not to to fall about having an extended hissy fit at losing the referendum, for daring to suspect that heaps of the traditional Labour base were not a bunch of white trash little England racists and for daring to being personally ambivalent about an EU that has turned into a vehicle for German imposed neoliberalism and bullying economic austerity on people like the poor old Greeks.

    The lib-dems went with a straight reject the referendum and remain position, and got slaughtered for their troubles.

    As it turns out, Corbyn was right and the snowflake tantrum throwers of the Guardian were (as usual) wrong. His position of actually thinking about the problem and then deciding to accept the outcome of a democratic referendum and then work hard for the softest of Brexits was enough to bring back huge numbers of ex-Labour UKIP voters and satisfy most reasonable Brits, who realise you can’t simply ignore a referendum result you don’t like. Polls indicate that most British people now accept Brexit is going to happen, and it is up to the pollies to make it work – and Corbyn has the most common sense program for that.

    I know it is hard for a lot of people to accept the reality that a certain style of politics they follow has had it, but get used to it – Corbyn’s success signals not just the end of Blairism. It also signals the final smashing of the identity politics of the reactionary PC liberal middle classes and that reactionary classes pretensions to owning the left, and a victory for those of us who have always argued the centrality of class and that socialism and the radical hope of socialism to improve the economic circumstances of the many rather than the few is what the left actually means, and what it is actually about. People have short memories. Corbyn’s victory as leader was greeted by the Labour neolib “centrists” with the most appalling weaponised indentity politics smears – he was an anti-semite, he was a racist, he was a misogynist. All were trotted out and paraded before an approving audience of the cackling, venomous chattering classes on the liberal “left”. That is how the liberal middle class “left” has asserted it’s control and buttressed it’s position as enablers of neoliberalism – it has used weaponised identity politics to cow, bully, browbeat and and control it’s opponents for over twenty years. Well, that spell has been broken.

    Russell Brown said that the exuberance of the left at Corbyn’s success was a bit difficult to understand, but it wasn’t just a two finger salute to the toffs in the Conservative party, it was a right royal fuck off to insufferable middle class liberal wankers and their suffocating, weaponised identity politics as well.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    it wasn’t just a two finger salute to the toffs in the Conservative party

    Who won the election...

    it was a right royal fuck off to insufferable middle class liberal wankers and their suffocating, weaponised identity politics as well

    ...even though millions of middle class liberals vote Labour, and making an entire rant about identity has been part of the socialist playbook from the 19th Century, and looks set to continue forever.

    It also signals the final smashing of the identity politics of the reactionary PC liberal middle classes and that reactionary classes pretensions to owning the left

    I guess it's nice to have a big dream.

    It's an electoral loss in one country in the world, with steadily declining influence. It happened at a particularly extraordinary time, Brexit is once in a lifetime. If you think that the entire Left in the whole world is shaken to the core by all of this, you're very much overrating how large Britain looms in the minds of most of the planet, and how much the British Labour Party represents the external perception of the place. It's not really a champion of left wing causes in the eyes of the world, it's the home of the monarchy, the aristocracy, the Lords, centuries of class division, unasked-for and unwanted military adventurism, brutal internal oppression, terrorism, disenfranchisment, and the heart of European banking and finance. It's not the fucking champion of anything progressive. It's systems are archaic and dysfunctional.

    Yes, it's a promising sign that Labour did better than expected. It's also a sign of how low the expectations were in the first place. The world's looking at it like a drunk having a moment of clarity, not some shining beacon of wisdom and guidance.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rich Lock,

    There are strong and valid criticisms/arguments against the European Union from ‘the left’.

    Of course. That happens within Europe. There was an opportunity with a rapidly closing window for the "Left" of an entire continent to work together with British Labour on internal reform. They'll no doubt continue with it without Britain.

    One of the many problems with the referendum is that it’s hard to get people to vote for (i.e. with at least a small teaspoon of enthusiasm) an institution which is essentially a bureaucratic trading block.

    It's a lot more than that. But I guess these things will become clear soon enough, once lost forever. There's no champion for it within the ruling classes any more, so it really doesn't matter that the referendum was close. It got played by May, a hardline austerity Tory, the new Prime Minister Elect. In order for Labour to come back from the 20% range, the main issue had to be studiously ignored by the only possible party that could have represented the alternative choice. Far less important than the immediate future of the country was solidifying support internally and talking domestic agenda. That's how dysfunctional the political system has become, that not publicly debating the most crucial issue of the time, and then shaving in with a narrow loss is being heralded as a fucking revolution.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to BenWilson,

    Far less important than the immediate future of the country was solidifying support internally and talking domestic agenda. That's how dysfunctional the political system has become, that not publicly debating the most crucial issue of the time, and then shaving in with a narrow loss is being heralded as a fucking revolution.

    Wasn't Brexit the "most crucial issue of the time" du jour simply because May and her media enablers decreed it? In light of the unprecedented voter turnout I'd have thought that a little more reflection on why what seems an arbitrary rule was ignored wouldn't hurt. For a media establishment long used to setting the terms of manufactured "debates" before calling time on them at their own convenience, losing that kind of control probably does pass for evidence that things have turned to dysfunctional custard. How dare those pesky kids.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    Corbyn was ambivalent on Europe for good, socialist reasons and has always been ambivalent on Europe. Unlike the new labour liberal middle classes who have benefited financially from the neoliberal European project he could see it’s considerable flaws, and has been a consistent critic of them.

    Corbyn was mainly hammered on his Brexit position by the snowflake liberal elite media pundits for daring not to to fall about having an extended hissy fit at losing the referendum, for daring to suspect that heaps of the traditional Labour base were not a bunch of white trash little England racists and for daring to being personally ambivalent about an EU that has turned into a vehicle for German imposed neoliberalism and bullying economic austerity on people like the poor old Greeks.

    The lib-dems went with a straight reject the referendum and remain position, and got slaughtered for their troubles.

    As it turns out, Corbyn was right and the snowflake tantrum throwers of the Guardian were (as usual) wrong. His position of actually thinking about the problem and then deciding to accept the outcome of a democratic referendum and then work hard for the softest of Brexits was enough to bring back huge numbers of ex-Labour UKIP voters and satisfy most reasonable Brits, who realise you can’t simply ignore a referendum result you don’t like. Polls indicate that most British people now accept Brexit is going to happen, and it is up to the pollies to make it work – and Corbyn has the most common sense program for that.

    OK, cool, with you so far (mostly).

    I know it is hard for a lot of people to accept the reality that a certain style of politics they follow has had it, but get used to it – Corbyn’s success signals not just the end of Blairism. It also signals the final smashing of the identity politics of the reactionary PC liberal middle classes and that reactionary classes pretensions to owning the left, and a victory for those of us who have always argued the centrality of class and that socialism and the radical hope of socialism to improve the economic circumstances of the many rather than the few is what the left actually means, and what it is actually about. People have short memories. Corbyn’s victory as leader was greeted by the Labour neolib “centrists” with the most appalling weaponised indentity politics smears – he was an anti-semite, he was a racist, he was a misogynist. All were trotted out and paraded before an approving audience of the cackling, venomous chattering classes on the liberal “left”. That is how the liberal middle class “left” has asserted it’s control and buttressed it’s position as enablers of neoliberalism – it has used weaponised identity politics to cow, bully, browbeat and and control it’s opponents for over twenty years. Well, that spell has been broken.

    Russell Brown said that the exuberance of the left at Corbyn’s success was a bit difficult to understand, but it wasn’t just a two finger salute to the toffs in the Conservative party, it was a right royal fuck off to insufferable middle class liberal wankers and their suffocating, weaponised identity politics as well.

    Just no.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    Wasn’t Brexit the “most crucial issue of the time” du jour simply because May and her media enablers decreed it?

    The election was called specifically to mandate it. And no, it's the most crucial issue of the time because it has to be negotiated now, and it affects way, way more than just trade. This isn't a manufactured issue, it's a real and pressing issue and it will have a huge effect on Britain.

    The country is sleepwalking into the most significant constitutional realignment in...Jesus I don't even know how far back to look for something of this magnitude. It's not business as usual, it's going to affect the freedom to travel and work of tens of millions of people, realign the entire economy, the military positions, the basic stability of the region, the currency, the banking system, all of the loan structure, the ability to influence Europe internally.

    It's a huge deal. It's insane in a democracy to have had so little public debate of the detail. But I think it's a society that literally does actually not have a strong idea of what it wants at all. 40% of it like Corbyn's domestic promises. 42% of it want whatever May is about. The residual 18% want all sorts of things. A small majority wanted Brexit, strongly divided on age lines. Young people really, really don't want it, and they are literally the people who are going to be most affected by it. It's a nation flailing in indecision, with a system geared to deliver a minority government power to make changes that will never in our lifetimes be undone.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to BenWilson,

    It's a huge deal. It's insane in a democracy to have had so little public debate of the detail. But I think it's a society that literally does actually not have a strong idea of what it wants at all.

    Except for the young people who "really, really don't want it"? Seriously, I agree with most of what you say, with the exception that without digging rather deeper into how things came to be in such a mess there seems little point in further scolding a justifiably cynical electorate that's heard it all before. Right now I'm finding this helpful.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    This is gold:

    Any delay in the Queen’s speech would be difficult to accommodate, given the monarch is scheduled to attend Royal Ascot from next Tuesday until the end of next week

    Obviously, a great advantage of choosing your head of state on the basis of their parent's magical status is that the process of government needs necessarily to defer to the social and sporting commitments of said magical beings.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    I dunno, sometimes when you scold people who fuck things up, it does sink in. But often the target is not them anyway, it's other people who may be considering fucking up in a similar way. 95% of my aim in debunking the exceptionalism of what just happened in Britain is because we have our own Labour Party, and our own political system, and overgeneralizing from their system to ours would be a big mistake.

    In particularly, studiously avoiding the big national issue of the day is not going to cut it. Our big issue is different, but similar. We have a serious poverty and housing problem. Immigration may be a part of the picture, but it's not the whole picture. I do think it's a debate we have to have. We don't get to hide our heads in the sand. I don't pretend to have all the answers - maybe strongly targeted increases in immigration with policy settings geared directly at housing construction are appropriate. Maybe the exact opposite works better, reducing total population flows to be equal to or even less than our ability to build houses. Maybe limiting foreign ownership puts a sinking lid on skyrocketing prices. We have to be able to have this discussion sensibly.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Yes, clearly the drying of the goatskin parchment upon which the speech is inscribed forms an important part of the people’s mandate!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

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