Julia Hartley-Brewer Is Wrong To Fear Mandatory Reselection Of MPs

Why are conservatives so concerned that the Labour Party is moving in a more socialist direction?

On last night’s Question Time, journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer – a journalist with whom this blog often agrees – held forth on the state of the Labour Party, and calls by some activists for the implementation of mandatory re-selection of MPs prior to a general election in order to make the Parliamentary Labour Party more representative of the membership.

Huffington Post reports:

Journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer said Britons would “never elect a Socialist Government” on Thursday’s edition of the programme, as Corbyn is expected to be re-elected Labour leader easily on Saturday.

She was speaking after Blairite Labour MP Liz Kendall was the target of an audience member who advocated the mandatory re-selection of MPs before they could defend their seats in a General Election, something Corbyn supporters could use to remove those critical of the Labour Party leader.

“What a depressing conversation, genuinely,” Hartley-Brewer said.

“I’m a great believer in democracy. The thing about democracy is you have a Government but you also have Her Majesty’s Opposition.

“The reality is the Labour Party needs to make a decision about whether it wants to be a serious alternative Government in waiting or a Friday night Marxist book club. It can’t be both.”

This, of course, is a common refrain from conservative types either hoping to have some fun at Labour’s expense or express genuine concern about what they see as an unbalancing of Britain’s political system.

Personally, I don’t understand why so many prominent movement Conservatives – people who would never vote Labour in a million years – are so upset that the Labour Party is once again expressing genuine socialist tendencies, and desperate for it to tack back to the centre and become an electoral threat to the Tories again. Even after the EU referendum have these people learned nothing about the dangers of a stultifying cross-party consensus in the middle of British politics which shuts out whole swathes of people who dare to hold staunchly conservative or socialist (or individualist/authoritarian) beliefs?

The Huffington Post continues:

Hartley Brewer then defended [Liz] Kendall, calling her a “very good, very sensible hard-working MP” who “talks about the real issues affecting real people”. She bemoaned the fate of Labour MPs who face either “deselection for speaking sense” or losing their seats at an election.

I can’t help but feel that Julia Hartley-Brewer is failing to consider the upside of mandatory reselection for conservatives. Finally, real small government conservatives would have a mechanism to get rid of statist, pro-European Tory-lite interlopers like the pointless Anna Soubry, and those numerous other MPs who pretended to be staunchly eurosceptic during their initial constituency selection procedures only to come running to the Remain campaign like loyal dogs the moment that David Cameron snapped his fingers. Don’t Conservative Party members deserve a parliamentary party – and a government – which more closely reflects their interests and priorities, too? And what better way to do this than through mandatory reselection?

Yet many people with whom this blog usually finds common cause seem to see this issue differently. They seem aghast at the idea that a party founded on socialist ideals should actually dare to be socialist, which is puzzling to me. Julia Hartley-Brewer will probably never vote Labour for the remainder of her lifetime – so why the concern that Labour avoid becoming a “Marxist book club”? At a time when the Conservative Party is so soul-sappingly centrist in outlook, would she really rather have a battle-ready, equally centrist Labour Party nipping at its heels?

As this blog recently commented:

It is as though it is no longer enough for the party we personally support to reflect our own views and priorities – we now expect opposing parties to reflect them too. This is a politically stultifying and increasingly ludicrous state of affairs. As a small-c conservative I believe strongly in maintaining our nuclear deterrent, a strong military, the NATO alliance, low taxes and small government. But I don’t for a moment expect the leader of the Labour Party to hold these exact positions, too. And while it would be calamitous were Jeremy Corbyn to become prime minister by some dark miracle and actually enact all of his policies, I trust in the wisdom of the British people to see through his policies and reject Corbynism at the ballot box.

And that’s the difference, I suppose, between this blog and the political and media establishment. I trust the people to look at the political parties and refuse to vote for a party campaigning on a manifesto which is so clearly damaging to our economy and national interests. The establishment do not trust the people, because they do not respect the people. They have no faith that the British people will make rational decisions when presented with a range of political alternatives – therefore they see it as their job to artificially limit our choice beforehand, taking certain options off the table by declaring them “unacceptable” and suppressing their very discussion by mainstream politicians.

Besides, who should be the judge of whether an MP is “sensible” and “hardworking”? Come general election time, surely the best people to pass judgment are those from the local constituency party, who know best whether their MP is adequately representing their values. If they are dissatisfied with their candidate, why should their views be steamrollered by a cliquish Westminster conspiracy to protect the centrist Good Old Boys (and Girls)?

If Labour’s centrist MPs really do speak such “sense”, they will surely have no difficulty in winning the support of thousands of non-aligned voters who do not subscribe to the Jeremy Corbyn agenda. If they are so wise and pragmatic, surely they could not fail to succeed by striking out on their own and forming a new centrist party?

And yet the centrists are going nowhere, because they have no compelling vision of their own to offer the electorate, and many of them would struggle to even win back their deposits if they ran as independent candidates or under the banner of a new centrist party. Therefore their only hope, in the short term, is to cling on to their seats despite often being loathed by their own local parties, in the hope that one of them will come up with an alternative policy agenda which actually commands enthusiasm and respect. And frankly, few Labour centrist MPs have done anything to deserve such an unfair helping hand.

The cold, hard truth is that the Labour Party has shifted decisively to the Left. Julia Hartley-Brewer’s attitude seems to be “to hell with the party members who actually do all of the hard work and unglamorous campaigning – they should be lumbered with a centrist leader they despise, just so that British politics can continue to be fought over a vanishingly small sliver of real estate in the centre ground”. Personally, I find that idea repellent.

In a democracy, decisions are made and influence is wielded by the people who actually bother to show up. And right now, the Corbynite Left are showing up and making their voices heard, while the various centrists (despite their prestige) are able to conjure up all the excitement of a cold bucket of sick. The left-wing have earned the right to be heard, while the centrists have demonstrably not. Hearing what the Corbynites have to say and abiding by their wishes is therefore not only the fair thing for the Labour Party to do, it is the only remotely democratic thing for the Labour Party to do.

And the proper reaction from conservatives is not to brim over with sympathy for the poor Labour centrist MPs who have so grievously lost touch with their own party base – it is to demand a similar rebirth of radicalism on the Right.

Julia Hartley-Brewer is aghast at the idea of mandatory reselection for Labour MPs, but I say bring it on. Let the Tories have their own version of Momentum too, something to put a rocket up the government’s complacent and depressingly un-ideological posterior – and then give Conservative Party members the same opportunity to shape the future of their party, hopefully by dragging it away from the smoking ruins of Cameron-era centrism.

 

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The Significance Of That Bizarre Eddie Izzard Appearance On Question Time

Eddie Izzard, Brexit Ambassador

While it was infuriating to watch at the time – I actually had to put down my iPad at times to stop myself tweeting things which I might later regret – Eddie Izzard’s tour de force of ignorance and condescension on BBC Question Time last night will have been a great boon to all Brexiteers.

Here, in one man, is embodied the distilled nature of the entire Remain campaign argument – a child’s level of understanding of the European Union’s history, what it does and how it actually works coupled with an unjustified level of arrogance and assumed intellectual and moral superiority which somehow makes them come off as smug, arrogant, condescending, pitying and self-aggrandising all at the same time.

Eddie Izzard’s strategy for the programme was clearly “Take Down Nigel Farage In A Blaze Of Glory”, and the comedian went at the UKIP leader from the outset. He would have been far better to focus his fire on the others. Nigel Farage is a man who has easily dispatched stageloads of Britain’s leading politicians in a single debate and twice bested Nick Clegg in one-on-one encounters. Coming at him with a paper thin case and the debating style of an over-excited sixth former is never going to work. It certainly didn’t last night.

The shriller Eddie Izzard became, the more he cut across Nigel Farage and make his grandstanding appeals to the audience, the more Farage looked like the adult in the room. As Izzard’s plea for more ice cream became ever more desperate, Farage leaned back in his chair with a look of bemused resignation. Considering that one of the Remain campaign’s key aims is to demonise Farage and then inextricably tie him to the Leave campaign, this was a huge unforced error.

But more than that, it showed the vacuity at the heart of the Remain campaign. Sure, there are a few honourable die hard euro federalists out there – my friend Paddy Briggs is one – but you will scarcely hear from them in this campaign. The only people with a coherent and honourable case for Britain remaining in the EU (and indeed deepening our participation) are shoved in the closet, the Remain campaign’s dirty little secret as they pretend to the rest of us that We Are All Eurosceptics Too.

The rest of the campaign is built on ignorance and fear. Yes of course large swathes of the Leave campaign are little better. But once Remain have dispatched with their meaningless pleasantries about “staying in Europe to reform it” and the importance of “cooperation” (which in europhile land can only take place between countries when facilitated by a supranational political union, for some reason), all they have left are their Armageddon stories about how Brexit would bring us all to economic ruin, or how the supposedly benign and friendly EU would behave like an abusive spouse to a departing Britain.

Pete North agrees:

We’ve heard all the europhile fluff. All the sanctimonious cliches about “not walking away from the table” and “getting in there to make it work better” and “respecting the rules of the club” and when you’re dealing with someone of great charisma it’s hard not to want to buy into that.

These are all positive and constructive sentiments reinforced with words like “cooperation” and “unity”. But sentiment is all it is. Contrivances. And if you hold only a superficial notion of what the EU is, how it works and the actual consequences of it, then that leap of faith is easier to make.

And this perhaps explains the gulf between age groups and voting intentions. Those who have wised up to the EU want out. The youthful ideologues lack the maturity and historical context to see through the veneer of shallow and meaningless rhetoric. This is what the remain camp is banking on.

And this is why I can muster a venomous contempt of Eddie Izzard. Think what you will of him and his politics but he is not a stupid man. Fatuous maybe, but not stupid. He has always been a true believer. He is a europhile to the core. And while they are capable of an extraordinary self-deception one thing europhiles do without exception is lie through their teeth. Up becomes down, black becomes white, dog becomes cat. No lie is too big and any lie will do.

Being a comedian and habitually attuned to audiences accepting a flawed premise in order to relate to the material, Izzard is able to lie with no self-awareness at all. It’s what permits him to lie as often as he does to an extent that even professional politicians would hesitate.

And this is what has characterised the European Union debate for as long as we’ve been having this debate. The attempt by europhiles to frame this as though it were a generational stand off between young progressives and old reactionaries. For one to be against the EU, in the mind of the europhile, one must naturally be a xenophobic, little Englander who could only possibly have selfish motives. This is the deceit that they wish to impress upon those new to the debate.

And this is actually what drives the blood curdling hostility between the two camps. We have a broadly europhile media class. A set of self-regarding luvvies largely culturally and financially insulated from the consequences of EU membership, believing themselves to be the living embodiment of virtue.

People wonder how the country will knit back together after this referendum. I’m not sure that it will. Pete North is certainly convinced that it will not. One thing is certain – there will be no magnanimity from the Remain side if they win.

Sure, a smiling David Cameron might come out of 10 Downing Street and make a little speech about his “renegotiation” just being the start, and how he will continue to fight for change in Europe. I can write the speech in my head already. But it will mean nothing, just as every single one of David Cameron’s convictions is built on sand. The Remain camp will take their gruesome little victory lap and crow about having defeated the forces of “xenophobia and isolationism”, and that will be that. A reconciliation reshuffle? That means nothing.

But the intellectual case for Brexit and the moral case for democracy will not have been defeated. What’s more, those of us who are custodians of these high ideals will not easily forget what has been said about us by sneering, grandstanding, virtue-signalling oiks in the Remain campaign, and their spokesperson Eddie Izzard.

Call someone wrong and they may be angry for a time. Call them morally deficient in some way (as Remainers do with their claims of boomer selfishness etc.) and it will wound a lot more. But call someone stupid and publicly mock them to their face, and you will nurture a resentment and antipathy which are almost impossible to undo. Over the course of this referendum campaign, the Remain camp have done all three.

Fortunately for Brexiteers, the glibness and shallowness of the Remain case become more exposed with every passing day. There is no new layer of complexity once one overturns their false assertion that Brexit means leaving the single market, or that all of the cooperation and partnership they seek can be accomplished just as easily outside of our current political union. The Remainers can hardly wheel out the hardcore euro federalist brigade to make their impassioned case – they would alienate far more people than they could possibly attract with their creepy, dystopian vision.

By contrast, a greater depth to the Brexit case is finally starting to emerge, as more and more influencers in the media pick up on the interim EFTA/EEA (Norway) option as an attractive first step in the Brexit process. Though it has taken an age (and may in fact still have come too late) at least the only thorough, comprehensive and safe plan for achieving Brexit is now finally starting to get a public hearing and an opportunity to allay the concerns of undecided voters.

I still feel that the odds of victory very much favour Remain, no matter what the opinion polls may say two weeks out from Referendum Day. But it is also undeniable that the broader Leave campaign has finally gained some traction – despite, rather than because of Vote Leave.

And if the Remain campaign continues to respond to these turns of events by wheeling out people like Eddie Izzard – who I think probably created a thousand new Brexiteers for every minute he had the floor on last night’s Question Time – then this might be a much more closely run thing after all.

 

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When Deciding How To Vote In The EU Referendum, Do Your Own Research – All The Information Is Out There

It is becoming fashionable among the undecideds in the EU referendum campaign to complain about the supposed lack of available facts in the debate. But they don’t want facts – they want to be spoon-fed opinions and simultaneously reassured that these answers are unbiased

There is a rather nauseating new trend among those people who have somehow not yet come to an informed opinion on whether or not Britain should vote to leave the EU, whereby they blame their inability to reach a decision on the supposed lack of available facts handed down to them from on high.

We even see this cropping up in Question Time, as the Independent reports:

With 113 days until the EU referendum – that’s more than 15 weeks away – levels of stamina among the public for the flow of information being directed at them seem to be waning.

And when the opening question of BBC’s Question Time was on how much the referedum’s outcome would depend on “which side could scare us more”, one audience member put the problem laid before the country in very clear terms.

A young man said the decision to continue or terminate the 40-year relationship all rested on wondering who could be trusted to give impartial, accurate information.

“With all this scaremongering that’s going on in the media about this, I don’t see how us as the general public can make an informed decision,” he said, prompting nods from those around him.

[..] In the light of such risks, the audience member seemed to be concerned that he was given little information with which to make a safe and long-term decision.

“It’s just all sides saying different things and you just don’t know who to believe,” he said.

Boo hoo. It’s so difficult for undecided voters today, bombarded with passionate (but often fact-free) arguments from both sides. How can they possibly be expected to vote when the government and the meejah don’t give them a clear and unambiguous signal?

The amusing thing is that the young Question Time audience member asking the question would probably have absolutely no difficulty using the internet to research a complex and technical query relating to his malfunctioning Playstation or home cinema system. He is likely adept at finding YouTube tutorials which show how to disassemble and repair household appliances, and if he has a favourite sports team, band or celebrity he can quite likely find all manner of information about them online with no difficulty at all.

But when it comes to the workings and operation of his own country and the European Union which influences so many aspects of his life, it apparently does not occur to the questioner that he can use exactly the same skills he honed researching his fantasy football team to turn up some relevant, unbiased facts about the EU. The thought simply does not compute. When it is something glitzy and fun, he is more than willing to spend five minutes consulting Google and a few hours reading through the results that his search throws up. But on “boring” matters like the governance of the EU, what the European Union might look like in the future or how Brexit might actually be accomplished, he loses focus before he can finish typing a query into the Google search bar.

Of course he is not getting unbiased information from the media. Playing the role of high-minded, neutral arbiter has not proven to be very successful for most media outlets, nearly all of which instead churn out content which plays to the gallery of their readerships. That’s life. But it does not mean that the primary information needed to reach an informed and independent opinion is unavailable. It just means forsaking Monday Night Football or the Great British Bakeoff for one night and using the internet or local library to make oneself a more informed and engaged citizen.

EU referendum blogger Pete North has by far the best response to these aggrieved undecided voters who flaunt their ignorance of the debate as though it is an injury inflicted upon them by evil external authority figures withholding “the facts”:

I watched Question Time last night. I heard that whining bovine complaint once more “I just want to be given the facts”, expecting that it’s the government’s job to spoonfeed them with information, under the assumption government can and will. Could they be any more bovine?

As it happens, the facts are available insofar as anything is ever truly a fact. On something as comprehensive as the EU there is all the information you could possibly want. And while you can say a lot of bad things about the EU, one thing we can say is that it is transparent. It publishes most of what it does, the schedules, the regulations, the meeting minutes, the agendas and the agreements. It’s all there if you can be bothered to look for it. I didn’t learn what I know by reading John f*cking Redwood.

And when it comes down to it people say they want the facts but they don’t. You can give them the facts but it’s always “tl;dr”. So they want a digest version of the facts. So you provide them with that and it tells them things they don’t want to hear – and so they stick with their ridiculous notions that either we can pull out overnight and comes the dawn of a new utopia – or on the other side the europhiles pretend the European Union IS that new utopia.

What people mostly want is to be told what to think. To have someone else make the decisions. To not let the complexity of life disturb their comforting ignorance. It’s the “I pay politicians to do the politics” attitude. THAT is how we get in these messes to begin with. Politics is too important to be delegated to these bozos and if this referendum has revealed anything it is that most of our elected representatives are intellectually subnormal and know f*ck all about nine tenths of anything.

In the end, to have a proper democracy participation requires more than just turning up to vote. It requires that you educate yourself, keep yourself informed, keep yourself up to date and find the facts for yourself – and especially that you do not rely on the media – after all our media are very much part of that political class with even less clue than the morons we elect. If you can’t be bothered to engage on that level you really do deserve everything you get from your “leaders”.

It is a lazy, naive idea that we can outsource the running of our country to elected politicians and only perk up and pay attention once every five years or so when there is a general election. As Pete North rightly says, that is how we got into this mess in the first place – people failing to hold their leaders to any kind of account, while the politicians did as they pleased.

If you want to be told what to think by the government or those in authority, don’t complain when David Cameron comes back with a one-sided, pro-EU propaganda leaflet costing the taxpayer over £9 million to produce and distribute. That’s what you get for outsourcing your decision-making processes to people with vested interests.

But at least if you do so, you are in plentiful (I won’t say good) company. Neither the official Remain or Leave campaigns are exactly brimming over with deep expertise on the workings of the European Union, in which direction the EU will travel or the logistics of achieving Brexit.

Fortunately, there are those who stopped watching television for long enough to educate themselves on this important subject. A number of them have become experts in the subject, certainly far more so than the Westminster media with its superficial grasp of the facts, all while holding down day jobs. They are the the bloggers of The Leave Alliance, and the plan they promote for leaving the European Union in a safe, orderly and non-disruptive way is called Flexcit, or the market solution.

Start with that. Or start with the European Union’s own websites – as Pete North says, much of this information is “hidden” in plain sight. Begin your search for facts in any number of places, just don’t repeat the whiny, false complaint that there is no factual information available.

 

Postscript: The irony is that facts and figures supporting either side are not the most important thing in this referendum, while economic projections are particularly unreliable to the point of being pure fiction. This blog contends that the EU referendum comes down to more qualitative factors like democracy, sovereignty, governance and constitutional reform, which simply cannot be calculated in an Excel spreadsheet.

 

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