Monday 24 September 2018

Things that don't matter

I've kind of stopped the blogging.

Fair enough, for the last six weeks my life has been dominated by my holiday, three weeks in the Province of Ragusa in Sicily, wonderful, but which required two weeks of slog to clear my desk before I went and then a further week of slog to catch up on my return.

But that is not the only reason I have kind of lost interest in "the blogging". Politics is increasingly fixated on things that don't matter.

Take, firstly, the minor stushie this week when Corbyn refused to unequivocally rule out a UK Labour Government allowing a second Independence Referendum. Let's consider, just for a moment the accepted chronology here. The SNP might (big might) request "Section 30" permission to hold a second Independence Referendum before the 2021 Scottish Parliament election. But if they do then the decision on whether to allow it will be taken by a UK Tory Government. Labour's view will be irrelevant. If (big if) the SNP win the 2021 Scottish Parliament election with a clear manifesto commitment to a second referendum then that will be a big decision for the UK Government of the time but that still won't be us for at least a year. If they don't win (or don't have a clear commitment in their manifesto), then the issue goes away. The only circumstance in which the position of the Labour Party is important is if the SNP gain a clear mandate in May 2021 and the Tory Government denies them the power. Then, potentially, in the Autumn of 2021 the position of the Labour Party on this matter might be important. It is utterly irrelevant in the Autumn of 2018.

And the same goes for a "People's vote", that is a second referendum on the UK leaving the UK. How is this objective to be achieved? A referendum requires an Act of Parliament and an Act of Parliament requires Parliamentary time. Suppose even a Macedonian Commons majority, involving most Labour MPs, a minority of europhile Tories, miscellaneous Nationalists prepared to forget about other referendums (to be honest, at this point I'm given over to the absurdity of the idea but suppose anyway), what is the process? Who introduces this proposed Act as a Bill? How does it get Parliamentary time against Government opposition?  What would be the proposition put?  Most importantly, when would this vote take place given that Brexit is just over six months away and we won't know the terms of a deal (or indeed the acceptance of giving up on any deal) any sooner than November? It is shooting at the moon. Things will be resolved in the Commons and it seems pretty obvious will hinge on whether sufficient Labour MPs conclude that whatever deal  Mrs May gets is still better than a no deal and are thus prepared to back it, no matter what the position of our front bench.

Because, there will not in any circumstance be an election. The Tories have the benefit of a five year mandate. There is no way the DUP would oppose them in a confidence vote which might lead to Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister and there is no way that the Tories would volunteer to face the electorate at a time of maximum internal disarray, not least because, even if they won, it is difficult to see how that would improve things for them. Mrs May's problem is not a rampant external opposition, it is an irreconcilable internal opposition, to be fair, on both her eurosceptic and europhile flanks. How would a General Election at which Jacob Rees-Mogg and his ilk and Anna Soubry and her ilk would each remain Tory candidates progress anything?

And there is not going to be a new Party either, at least just now.  It would be fair to say that few Party members are more disgruntled with the current leadership than me. To be in a situation where the Leader can be described as a vile anti-Semite and can't sue his accusers because he would lose is an absurd one to believe to be sustainable. But it is where we (currently) are. Nonetheless when people challenge me to leave I ask them two things. Who is leaving with me and what is our position in respect of those mainstream Labour figures who won't leave? I want Pam Duncan-Glancy, Kate Watson and numerous others to become Labour MPs. I would like Anas Sarwar, Jackie Baillie, and numerous others to be in the Scottish Government. I would like Frank McAveety to be back leading Glasgow City Council. Accuse any of them of being an anti-Semite and you'd need to have very deep pockets indeed to pay the damages involved. And that's the position of tens of thousands of Party members who were in the Party before a Corbyn leadership and will still be there when his new recruits have departed back to the political fringes, or, in some cases, back under the vile racist stones, from which they emerged. And in the end the Party will come to its senses. Even genuine Corbynites will get fed up losing; those, even well to the left of me, who entered politics to make a difference will conclude you don't do that from permanent opposition and the Unions will get fed up wasting their money. It might take ten years, last time it took seventeen, but in time it will happen. My own impression possibly as soon as the next leadership contest, which might be sooner than people think.

And finally, there is not going to be another Independence Referendum before 2021. This has got nothing to do with the current internal considerations within the SNP. It is because Westminster, where the constitutional authority undoubtedly lies,  has said no and those more sensible heads in the SNP realise that the lessons of Catalonia are that "do it yourself" options have nasty consequences with no great achievement to show at the end of it.  Now, in 2020, there will be a big decision for the SNP on what to say in their 2021 Manifesto. But by then Ruth's wean will be two and we'll be in a different world. Where we'll be discussing whether, if Labour is third, which way we should jump. I may have a view at the time. But not so much in September 2018.

And so, that's why I've not been blogging. Because, in reality, there is nothing to blog about.

Unless you want to hear how brilliant are the Baroque Churches in the Province of Ragusa.