Wednesday, 29 June 2016

There's Always The Lib Dems

"Betcha we don't leave," posts Rod Liddle on Facebook.

Every day, this or any other Prime Minister will look at the money markets and think, "Nah, best not. Not today, anyway."

So that day, no Article 50 notification will be made.

In any case, all that such a notification would do would be to alert anyone interested that an attempt was going to be made to repeal the European Communities Act.

But there is never going to be a Commons majority for any such repeal.

Most people are never going to vote on this issue at a General Election, and, from UKIP to TUSC, any party that had it in the mix would always have more reasons to vote against it than there were reasons to vote for it in the minds of the huge majority of voters.

Speaking of General Elections, the 48 per cent of people who voted Remain contain at least as many hardliners on this issue as the Leave vote does, and the Remainers, unlike the Leavers, now at least perceive themselves as having a grievance.

Step forward, the Liberal Democrats.

That party is not the home from home waiting for dissident Blairites after Jeremy Corbyn has beaten them a second time, as he undoubtedly will.

The Lib Dems vigorously opposed the Blair Government on civil liberties, on foreign policy, on some parts of environmental policy, and, from the left, on aspects of economic policy.

They have been in government more recently than Labour has been. Give that a moment to sink in.

And their extremely democratic and participatory constitution, designed as it is for perpetual Opposition, would mean that even 172 MPs were just 172 members, among however many thousands of members there were in the country as a whole.

At the last count, on Monday of this week, there were 66,905 members of the Liberal Democrats. They are adding far in excess of 172 each and every day.

Those people did not only vote to Remain, which not all of Corbyn's enemies in the Parliamentary Labour Party did. They see the EU as fundamental to their political and even civic identity, which, except as an eccentricity as common or uncommon among Conservatives, is simply not a Labour thing at all.

Although I cannot understand why, people like that see their support for the EU as inextricably bound up with their social liberalism, with their vague economic leftishness, with their environmentalism, with their localism, with their civil libertarianism, with their internationalism, with their aversion to military intervention, with their insistent political moderation, and with their sense of themselves as broad-minded, well-educated, and safely middle-class.

And there are votes in that. Quite a lot of votes. That constituency is currently very, very, very angry. There were Remain voters everywhere, and they were mostly like that. At least in aspiration, if not for themselves than for their children and their grandchildren.

For all sorts of reasons, a General Election this year would certainly result in a hung Parliament. No small part of why it would do so would be the huge increase in the number of Lib Dem MPs, which was fairly likely even before the referendum, and which would now be absolutely guaranteed.

In the absence of an overall majority for Labour, the only party to have won one within the law in the last 20 years, the Lib Dems could be back in the Cabinet by Christmas.

Even here in North West Durham, since an Election this year would be fought on the old rather than the new boundaries, it would depend very much on who was the Labour candidate in place of Pat Glass, whether it might not be better, this time round, to advocate instead, even if only this once, a vote for the Teaching Assistants' champion, Owen Temple of the Liberal Democrats.

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