Trying to out bonehead each other.
All these questions and frankly dozens more pass through my head as the two main political parties in this country try to out bonehead each other. The most sensible time for Labour to conduct its leadership election would be during the parliamentary recess. Let everyone go on holiday for two weeks and then spend the next month debating, husting, rutting and all the rest of it to their little hearts' content. The leader will be ready for when parliament returns, giving them time to work on their first conference speech, a conference vital for the party in all sorts of ways. It needs to be about what the new leader, whoever he or she turns out to be stands for, and what the Labour party under their leadership will represent. It needs to be about how the party rebuilds itself and how it can win back the support of those it has lost in every corner of the country. It needs to be about how the party can once again learn to listen rather than just waiting for its chance to speak.
Why the hustings can't then wait till the recess don't ask me. Apparently it was necessary for the 5 contenders, who might shortly become 3 should neither Mary Creagh or Jeremy Corbyn manage to win the ludicrous 35 nominations needed from MPs to be able to stand to journey to Dublin for the GMB conference on a Tuesday in June, just to deliver mostly the same answers as they've given since the mauling the party received at the ballot box just over a month ago. The differences between Burnham, Cooper, Kendall and Creagh are almost entirely cosmetic when it comes down to it, it's just Kendall has been branded the "moderniser", and you don't want to be against modernity do you, while Burnham and Cooper are more the "continuity" candidates.
At least today all 5 agreed the manifesto wasn't too left-wing. Only Burnham and Corbyn had anything positive to say about it, mind. Not that any of the 3 who can win have as yet given the slightest indication they understand just how massive the challenges facing the party are, even if they have moved away from the more out there reasons they at first gave for why the party lost. If I have any sort of preference, it's for Kendall, and for entirely personal and spiteful reasons. Should Kendall win, I'll no longer have to feel as though I should practice what I preach, as the party will have abandoned me just as other luvvies have said when decamping. It'll also be quite something to see how those on the right of the party explain it when Labour loses just as miserably, if not more so in 5 years.
Labour's various problems with reality are nonetheless as nothing when it comes to the Tories and their inexorable delusions over Europe. Here we are, barely a month after Cameron's "sweetest victory", and he already can't so much as rely on the support of his own cabinet ministers when it comes to his ability to negotiate a "better" deal for us in the EU. There he was, imagining he could bounce those who owe him for still having their jobs into supporting a yes to stay in vote come what may, only for a mutiny to break out within minutes. No, no, no said Dave, you idiots in the press got the wrong end of the stick; I only meant ministers would be expected to support me during the negotiation process. Which is why a minister was put up on the Today programme to defend the principle of his colleagues needing to supporting the government line come the referendum, obviously.
Arguing for the exit is then to be the equivalent of an issue of conscience, a dispensation only usually extended to ministers when it comes to votes where the influence of religious faith rears its head. To your "Conservatives for Britain" and those within the cabinet who will ally with the no lobby when the time comes, to get out of the EU is a question of morals, to which to transgress against is to deny theological teaching. Brussels may as well be the antichrist, the whore of Babylon, Jezebel herself. To the more deranged, like Bill Cash, nothing less than a rewriting of history is necessary, nor will do. We fought and died in two world wars for our parliament, our democracy, not their parliament, not their democracy. We saved Europe from itself. Churchill was one of the first to come up with this mad little idea called a United States of Europe, but he never imagined Britain as being a part of it, let alone drawn into "ever closer union".
Just as with Tory objections to the European Convention on Human Rights/the Human Rights Act, so much of the argument is not with the institutions themselves as the way the statutes are interpreted. We are clearly not going to be any part of an ever closer union when we are outside of the Eurozone and have no intention of joining it, and yet we must have "explicit recognition" of our opposition and "explicit protection" of our interests. The rest of Europe meanwhile sighs and snorts at the haughtiness and self-importance on display, but will most likely agree to something that will allow Cameron to claim his renegotiation has been successful. He clearly won't get any change on free movement, but probably will get something on the payment of in-work benefits to migrants, and something he can say does mean we're exempt from the "ever closer union". Germany could of course drive a hard bargain if it wanted, asking for something in return like the removal of the veto. The veto is worthless in any case, as Cameron's previous wielding of it showed, but then so many of the complaints about the EU are imaginary that it doesn't really matter.
Essentially, what the out right this instant people care about the most, beyond the tiny few who really are convinced we've sold away our sovereignty, are things like the working time directive, which helps ensure student doctors who would otherwise work 72 hour shifts don't kill more patients than they save. I exaggerate, but only slightly. They seem to imagine we'd have all the benefits of the single market with none of the drawbacks, only we'd need to negotiate a better deal than either Norway or Switzerland, as both are subject to the same free movement of people rules as members; indeed, both are also signed up to the Schengen agreement we opted out of. That we'd be Norway without the oil and Switzerland without the banking secrecy and skiing seems of little concern, unless the point is to turn London fully into an offshore city state where the rich and famous can hide their loot and come and go as they please.
Cameron it has to be remembered gave in to these monomaniacs in the hope of fending off UKIP and buying himself some time. As it was he was saved by the collapse of the Lib Dems, not UKIP defectors returning home. All it's done is encouraged the headbangers, as it was always going to; already we've seen in the debate today the excuses being made should the vote not go their way, with the complaints about the usual period of purdah prior to elections not applying. This is despite EU residents being denied a vote, as apparently what they think of all this is irrelevant. Now sacrificed has been unity within the cabinet itself, a sign as sure as any of a government destined to be torn apart by the obsessions of the few rather than the many.
According to Philip Hammond in the Commons, "an entire generation" has been denied the chance to express their view on our relationship with Europe. Merely voting for parties that are pro-EU doesn't count. Should said entire generation come the plebiscite decide by a 55 to 45% margin we're better off in, there's no reason to think we won't be voting again come 2022, 2027, just as the Scottish referendum has made a repeat more rather than less likely. Another referendum on electoral reform though, to deal with how the votes of nearly 7.5 million people, the combined total of UKIP, Green and Lib Dem support, added up to 10 MPs, while the 1.5 million votes for the SNP added up to 56? That truly could be a generation away.