Friday 27 November 2020

Spare Me Your Tiers

Whingeing, whining and moaning from places that have been put into Tier Three, while some of us have been under what has amounted to a lockdown for months on end. This is like the annual hysteria over the lightest dusting of snow for a day or two in the South.

Labour is just playing games. If anything, then it will whip to abstain, as it did over the Hostile Environment, over the benefit cap (whereas it went so far as to vote in favour of the welfare cap), over the retrospective legalisation of workfare, over the 10pm curfew, over the legalisation of torture abroad, and over the empowerment of, for example, the Food Standards Agency to authorise murder at home. On those last two, it intends to abstain again.

But watch out for the Liberal Democrats. If they voted against the Government while Labour abstained, or even if they just abstained while Labour voted with the Government, then the Redcar Strategy would have begun. In 2010, after the Labour Government and the Conservative Opposition had both said that there was nothing that they could do to save the Redcar steelworks, then the Lib Dems took the parliamentary seat with the biggest General Election swing since the War. Over a much wider area, there may very well turn out to be a market again for Neither of the Above.

Yet who are the Lib Dems? For all their claims to have been a moderating influence in the Coalition, the opposite was true. The austerity programme was abandoned, or at least greatly moderated, when the Lib Dems stopped being in government. Not a single Lib Dem MP voted against the war in Libya. Fiscal and military hawkishness are both very Whiggish and Gladstonian, even if they are difficult to reconcile with each other. I am the Independent candidate for North West Durham. What are you doing?

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