Many parties but only 2 sides: Remain and Leave

Theresa May has called a snap General Election for 8th June.  While many are predicting a landslide Conservative win, it does not have to be this way.  It should not be a source of dismay for the majority of the electorate that did not vote for Brexit, let alone for the appalling, fuck everything whatever the cost hard Brexit that the May government has been pursuing (or a catastrophic no-agreement Brexit that is perhaps the real plan),

Remainers, and the Remain movement more widely, should see this as a massive opportunity.  If the last year has taught us one thing, it’s that huge swings and against-prediction results are genuinely possible.  In this case, the only objective can be to ensure that the Conservative party does not get an overall majority.  A hung Parliament would give anti-Brexit parties massive leverage, and, if they can unite, potentially the balance of power.

For it to happen, we all need to be very clear that there are many parties, but only two sides in this election – Remain and Leave.  We need to campaign, whatever our party affiliations, tirelessly on this basis, and this means tactical voting.

Anyone who wants to stop a hard or no-deal Brexit should vote, and encourage others to vote, for whichever candidate, regardless of party, that is standing in their constituency and pledges to oppose Brexit. Where there is more than one such candidate, we should vote for the one with the best chance of winning.

This of course means each of us may have to swallow some electoral unpleasantness, depending on your affiliation:

1. Anti-Brexit Tories effectively don’t exist.

There are a few pro-EU Tory rebels who have continued to campaign against a hard Brexit with some gusto.  Ken Clarke, of course, has, but he is not alone.  Anna Soubry, and a few others have provided some serious internal opposition within the Conservative party, for which they have my moral support.  However, all but Ken Clarke did in the end vote for the unamended Article 50 bill.

What this tells us is that, despite very good intentions on their part, anti-Brexit Conservatives are, when it comes to voting in the House of Commons, willing to vote for Brexit in any form.  Tory Party discipline is fierce and coordinated, so this is understandable.  Nobody should be under the impression though that a vote for any Conservative candidate in any constituency will be an unconditional vote for Brexit at all costs.  It’s a great shame, but it it the truth. Voting Conservative at this election is voting for the most damaging, ill-judged, and badly negotiated, Brexit possible. Don’t do it unless you want that.

2. Forget Labour

Unless you are in a constituency that is represented by one of the 47 Labour MPs who defied the 3-line whip to vote against the unamended Article 50 Bill, the current Labour party is now very clearly a pro-Leave. The leadership may have a preference for a slightly less damaging form of Brexit, but trying to sell EEA membership, which requires implementation of 80-90% of EU law with no say in it, is a pointless exercise.  It is made still more pointless by the simple fact that Labour are not going to win a majority in this election.  If you think they will, you are beyond help.  If however you are a Labour voter or supporter who cares more about the future of the country than you care about expressing your party preference, you have to ditch them, just for this election.

Labour have said, of course, that they will hold the government to account, and ‘may’ even oppose a final deal that doesn’t meet their criteria for success. So what. They are not going to form a government on their own, and their form on this has been to table amendments, have them ignored, and then side with the government in votes.  Unfortunately, and with deep regret, the Labour party in its current form is effectively pro-Brexit in whatever form the Tories see fit.

It’s not easy to ditch a political allegiance, but this is too important to throw good votes after bad.

There is a case of course for supporting one of the 47 rebels if they are in your constituency, and it is a straight Labour/Conservative fight.  Only if the individual MP pledges to vote against Brexit when given the opportunity though.

(list of Labour rebel MPs here: http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2017/02/mps-who-voted-against-article-50 )

3. England

Aside from in the constituencies of the Labour rebels, the only real anti-Brexit parties in England are the LibDems and the Greens.

There are potentially a couple of constituencies where anti-Brexit Green candidates would have a better chance than LibDem candidates, but on the whole, pro-EU Green supporters in England need to vote LibDem.  The First—past-the-post system means that even a few hundred pro-EU votes for a green candidate could be enough to allow a Conservative win.  If they have any sense, the LibDems will not stand a candidate in Brighton, leaving Caroline Lucas as the main anti-Brexit candidate.  Even if they don’t do this though, any pro-EU Green voter in the rest of England will be wasting their anti-Brexit vote if they stick with Greens.  Please vote tactically!

4. Scotland

Forget Unionism vs. Independence. It’s pro-EU vs. Tory Brexit.

This election is about the EU and Brexit.  Yes, the SNP will, and should, call a new Independence Referendum if the UK pursues the hard Brexit that the Government has said it will pursue.  I’ve written elsewhere about why, by any measure, the only reasonable response to the Tory Brexit for Scotland is to try and save itself by becoming independent, and, full disclosure, I am now a member of the SNP. (https://thegreatbritishmoronathon.wordpress.com/2017/02/02/why-i-have-joined-the-snp/ ).

For unionists in Scotland though, pretty much the only way to avoid a new Independence Referendum is to avoid Brexit, particularly the vicious one planned by May et.al.  The Scottish Government’s White Paper ‘Scotland’s Place in Europe’ made it absolutely clear that an Independence Referendum would only be held if the UK government refused remain in the single market, or attempt to negotiate so that Scotland could.  There is no reason to think that this would not still stand were an anti-Brexit government or coalition elected in Westminster.

It is a fact that in almost all of the constituencies in Scotland, the SNP candidate will have the best chance of winning, let alone the best chance of the anti-Brexit candidates.  Anti-Brexit Unionists in Scotland, of any party, need to bite the bullet and vote SNP on anti-Brexit grounds.

This is particularly hard for LibDems of course, who have their own anti-Brexit party in Scotland, and are also largely unionists.  Splitting the anti-Brexit vote will however only risk allowing pro-Brexit candidates to have a chance.  Personally, I believe that the best route would be for the two parties to make a loose electoral pact, but I understand that the LibDems in Scotland have previously ruled this out. It is therefore down to voters to do this job for them, and ensure anti-Brexit candidates succeed whatever party they are from.

5. Wales

Wales again has 2 main anti-Brexit parties, with Plaid Cymru joining the LibDems.  In Wales, the choice between them is a question of which one is most likely to win the seat.  I’d again urge both parties to enter into an electoral pact, but if they do not, make sure your vote, and your anti-Brexit campaigning, is directed towards the candidate with the best chance of success.

6. What if there’s no chance in my constituency

In the case where there is no serious anti-Brexit contender, we should still campaign and vote for the best-chance anti-Brexit candidate.  Nothing makes an MP think harder than a slim majority, and this is a chance to cause them upset, even if the result can’t be an upset. Every anti-Brexit vote counts.

Conclusion

This is a real opportunity, but only if every anti-Brexit voter is willing to put aside party loyalties for just one election.  It’s not even enough just to vote tactically.  Campaign tactically as well.  We must swallow our pride, and campaign for whichever anti-Brexit candidate is most likely to win. This chance to avert catastrophe is a rare one.  If we really see that there are only 2 choices though – pro-and anti- Brexit – this appalling act of self-immolation can be avoided, and we can all go back to our usual affiliations.

Theresa May’s Plan for Britain Speech with Subtitles set to “Truth”

Edited to add the video with subtitles:

Theresa May today released possibly the most vapid speech by a Prime Minister in living memory. It was a poorly composed melange of vague promises, worn platitudes, and genuinely baffling committee-drafted nonsense.  The original speech is here.

Here is a transcript with subtitles in italics for those who don’t speak Mayist doublespeak:

There are times in the life of a nation when the choices we make define the character of our country.

It turns out that we hate foreigners and have a non-existent grasp of the modern world.

Times when people stand up and demand real, significant change.

People were conned into thinking that our own failings are the fault of others.

This, is one of those moments.

I appear to be stuck with this shit-fest.

As we leave the European Union, we have the chance to shape a brighter future for Britain.

Look, this is appalling, and we’ll all be worse off, but what can I do?

And I believe we have the vision and the plan to do it.

I have absolutely no idea what is going to happen next.

That is why I have set out myyyy plan for Britain.

But I’m going to pretend I have a plan for Britain (despite the name of the state being the United Kingdom)

It is a plan to make the most of the opportunities ahead.

It’s not really a plan as such, more some vague ideas and platitudes to distract you from the impending act of national self-immolation.  There will be no opportunities, at least not for you and your ilk.

A Plan to make Britain stronger, fairer, more united…

We’re Trump’s poodle in foreign policy now. We also cut benefits to bereaved children and the disabled, demonise half the population and ignore two of the countries of the UK (not Britain, it’s the UK).

…and more outward looking than ever before.

No foreigners will ever be allowed in the UK, but the jam market in New Zealand is massive!

It is a plan for a global Britain.

We have retreated into our shell like a mollusc confronted by a nasty European shark.

We will forge a new deep and special partnership with the EU.

We know we’ve done wrong. Please don’t hurt us. We’re cool. Brit-pop, the city. You love us. Please give us a deal. Please!!

…that gives control of our borders…

But no freedom of movement. That’s not a problem, right? Screw you if it is.

…while trading beyond Europe

Jam to the commonwealth, weapons to repressive regimes.

…shaping decisions across the globe

Shaping decisions about when and where the White House wants us to send or not send our Foreign Minister

Working to make the world a safer place

Working to make it easier for repressive regimes to violently suppress opposition.

It is a plan for a stronger economy

As I said, it’s not really a plan as such. 

Where everyone plays by the same rules.

We will not accept EU rules or standards, or ECJ jurisdiction.

So we will fix broken consumer markets so people keep more of their money

I realise this makes no sense. There was an internal disagreement about his part of the text, and this is the rather unsatisfactory compromise that emerged. 

And we will crack down on individuals and businesses that abuse the system.

You might not even know what you’ve done wrong, but, trust us, we are coming for you.  Yes, you.

And we will deliver a modern industrial strategy…

[Note, find way to include the words ‘industrial strategy’  here. Maybe also use the word modern. That polls well.]

That spreads prosperity across the country…

We know that you know that we don’t believe this, but you’ve fallen for it before, so you might again.

…while continuing to bring the deficit down…

More austerity. That’s what we need. More austerity. Probably won’t reduce the deficit, but, still, more austerity.

So we live within our means

Your means are going be significantly reduced for at least a decade

It is a plan for a fairer society…

We are working on dividing society into clearly delineated groups, and openly victimising the some of them.

…where success is based on merit, not privilege

In the unlikely event of anything we could possible call success happening, you, normal folk, won’t see bit of it.

So we will provide a good school place for every child.

We will use schools and their pupils to hunt down immigrant families.

Deliver more affordable homes

The deportations will help to ease pressure on housing stock.

…and put record investment into the NHS…

We will privatise the NHS

…and we will make sure we have a welfare system…

We will not have a welfare system

…that rewards work…

Wages will be the only possible source of income. If you are unemployed, or the wages are not enough, you will have to go to the new Group 4 poor houses.

…as well as tackling historic injustices like racial and gender discrimination…

(Note: put something in here about racial and gender discrimination so that our supporters have something to use when they are accused of promoting racial and gender discrimination)

…and it is a plan for a united nation…

We will not surrender our colonial possessions such as Scotland. (Sheesh, will this sentence ever end? I’m trying to imply semi-colons in the delivery, but it is still very lengthy.)

…that our children and grandchildren will be proud to call home.

Our children and grandchildren will not be permitted to travel abroad. We will make sure that all they know is this place, and teach them to fear the other.

We will strengthen and protect the precious union of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

What Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish people want is a total irrelevancy to us. England owns them, and we will make them do as they are told. The savages.

While acting for the benefit of all the cities, towns, villages and communities across the country.

We have a list of where voted leave and where voted remain. Traitorous Remain voting areas have officially ceased to exist as far as we are concerned. We are concerned only with patriotic Leave voting areas. Unless they are in the North, then they can fuck off as well.

That is my plan for Britain

I have no plan, and I absolutely refuse to refer to the state of which I am the Prime Minister by its correct name because ‘Britain’ poll’s much better among the Leave demographic.

A plan to get the right deal for Britain abroad…

The people I am real speaking to believe that ‘Abroad’ is a totally homogeneous place, full of disgusting foreigners desperate to buy our jam and guns.

And a better deal for ordinary working people at home…

You are, on average, going to earn a lot less, but, on the bright side, things will be more expensive.  If you cannot work, you will be blamed for the above.

…to make the most of the opportunities ahead…

There is literally no upside to all this.  Zero.

…and to make Britain a country that works for everyone.

MUST NOT SAY UK. MUST NOT SAY UK.

Not just a privileged few

The only people who will benefit are already vastly wealthy.  Now get back to fucking work and do as you’re told.