Friday 24 May 2024

Walk Your Path, Wear Your Shoes, Talk Like That?

Labour's slogan in 2024 is "It's time for change". In 2019, it was "It's time for real change". Spot the difference. The single word "Change" next to a Union Flag as good as says "Change UK", thereby announcing the fact of having become that to anyone who might remember it.

If, as the media would have it, D:Ream's Things Can Only Get Better is "the Labour Party's anthem", then let it be sung at Conference, as The Red Flag used to be, and at funerals, as The Red Flag still is. The Red Flag is like the old Clause IV. Disagree with it all you like, but it is well-written and it has something to say. Things Can Only Get Better is superior both in style and in substance to the new Clause IV, which most people assume does not exist. Many of the song lyrics of the 1990s were formally and materially out of sight of that decade's vacuous public relations drivel. Nowhere is that contrast clearer than here.

A party that is on for a landslide does not start a General Election campaign 100 candidates short. At Islington North, Labour has selected Praful Nargund, a private healthcare venture capitalist who is already a Labour councillor as a private healthcare venture capitalist. He is rich enough not to be damaged by the loss, and he is probably on for a peerage straight afterwards.

Neither Michael Gove, nor Andrea Leadsom, nor John Redwood, ran any risk of defeat. Gove has probably been offered something like Editor of The Times, while the other two, like numerous others, have concluded that they personally were never going to be in office either again or at all. Redwood was last a Minister 29 years ago, and he is now 72. This site has been predicting his retirement ever since the last General Election. Having been knighted in 2019, he would have retired in 2022 if the 2017 Parliament had run its course.

With so many retirements across the House, any and everyone is going to get in this time. Apart from Lord Frost, of course. You cannot have a newspaper column highly critical of the Government and then expect the governing party to let you be a parliamentary candidate. He is already in Parliament, anyway. Mind you, he could always join the Labour Party. No one is too right-wing for that these days. If you are the betting sort, as I am not, and if the bookie will even let you, then bet on Labour's taking fewer votes in 2024 than its 12,877,918 in 2017. A very great deal fewer, in fact. Will 12 million people vote to make Keir Starmer Prime Minister? That question answers itself.

On last night's Question Time, Bridget Phillipson not only refused to rule out an increase in undergraduate tuition fees (even if that is the least of the youth's worries), but also managed to be outflanked on the left twice by Tim Montgomerie, who called first for the renationalisation of water, and then for the execution of the International Criminal Court's arrest warrants while calling for others to be issued, including against the Saudis over Yemen. The biggest Labour rebellion of Jeremy Corbyn's Leadership was the organised mass abstention over Yemen, in which Phillipson participated. Last night, she added that nor should the Israeli Prime Minister and Defence Minister be arrested if they entered this country that the Hamas leaders would in any case never seek to visit.

And what of Reform UK? Well, what of it? It has always been a one-trick pony that had lost its one trick, and it is now a one-man band that has lost its one man. Nigel Farage has decided that a foreign country is more important, and he is convinced that he himself is an immensely significant figure there in the United States. His party will win no seats without him. But then, it would have won no seats with him, either.

Yet all Titanic jokes aside, what was Rishi Sunak doing in Northern Ireland during a General Election campaign? With whom was he trying to keep in, and why? When I tell you that there is going to be a hung Parliament, then you can take that to the bank. I spent the 2005 Parliament saying that it was psephologically impossible for the Heir to Blair's Conservative Party to win an overall majority. I predicted a hung Parliament on the day that the 2017 General Election was called, and I stuck to that, entirely alone, all the way up to the publication of the exit poll eight long weeks later. And on the day that Sunak became Prime Minister, I predicted that a General Election between him and Starmer would result in a hung Parliament.

At this General Election, I have been a declared Independent candidate for the constituency containing Lanchester since before the last one. The boundary changes have moved Lanchester into North Durham, which I will contest unless the Workers Party of Britain did so. I am of course supporting the Independents whom it is also supporting because they were already established on the ground, although the ones who were in that position four and a half years ago are mostly or entirely sitting MPs, and hardly any more than those have stood for Parliament before, as I did in 2019.

To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power. Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. There does, however, need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not. We have made a start. But I do need an answer from the Workers Party. Will it be contesting North Durham? If so, then I will stand aside. But I need to know by Sunday.