Even Cameron The Toff Gets Democratic Consent, Unlike Some Remoaners

‘A fragile state is one that has been racked by conflict, affected by corruption, one that is not really capable of delivering the basic services like health and education that its people needs. It’s often got a very divided society.’

But enough about Britain, to misquote former prime minister David Cameron in an interview with CNN earlier this week.

Presumably from his expensive shed, Cameron has been chairing a report into how the West fixes dysfunctional countries, advocating a gradualist, conservative approach that takes proper account of local conditions. It seems jolly sensible.

Being complex, boring and a tad vague, it has been overlooked by hacks in favour of Cameron’s admission he believes holding a referendum was justified. Cameron remains a remainer, but previously said the outlook for Britain leaving the bloc was not as doom-laden as previously thought – ‘a mistake, not a disaster.’

Unlike some undemocratic remoaners, he also acknowledges the basic principal of political consent.

‘I don’t regret holding a referendum; I think it was the right thing to do,’ he said. ‘I don’t think you can belong to these organisations and see their powers grow, and treaty after treaty, and power after power going from Westminster to Brussels, and never asking the people whether they are happy being governed that way.

‘There was also, I believe, a quite fundamental problem that Britain had, and Britain was seeing, with the development of the single currency, the beginning of decisions being made about us without us, and we needed to fix our position. I wanted to fix it inside the European Union; the British public chose that we would fix it from outside the European Union.’

Correct, although I suspect the conventional read that Cameron was hoping to avoid a referendum by again forming a coalition with the Liberal Democrats after the 2015 general election is true.

Frontbench British politicians have studiously avoided the lack of political accountability in Europe ever since we joined the European Economic Community – save for the 1975 referendum that approved that membership.

Even so, it is awkward for remoaners that even Cameron says that people should not be governed without consent.

Why Does Anyone Care About Renew? (Part 2)

About a month and a half ago the launch of metropolitan elitist party Renew prompted us to ask why the group had garnered such voluminous press coverage – which we then added to by discussing it on our podcast.

The news cycle swiftly flushed the party out, but a recent interview by the Blairite comedian Matt Forde on his excellent podcast has shown there are signs of life in Renew.

Chris Coghlan, founder of Renew and former counter-terrorism officer with the Foreign Office, said the party was raising £10,000 a month, mostly out of small donations, and has 20 full or part-time staff.

It will also be running candidates in Battersea, Tooting and Putney, and wants to be ready for a snap election from this summer onwards. Its candidate base has certainly grown since we last looked, and has spread geographically far beyond the initial London-heavy selection.

Coincidentally, the Observer yesterday reported that a new centrist party with £50m of backing has been in stealth mode for a year. Perhaps they should pool their efforts?

It bears raising that the base rate for new political parties forming governments is almost negligible. Labour, who formed in 1900, are the newest party to lead a government. Though the Liberal Democrats formed in 1988 and were part of the 2010 coalition government, they are direct successors to the Liberals of old.

That said, Renew have already done better than 90 percent of those parties who register with the Electoral Commission. To be continued.

Who Saved Ukip From Death By Libel?

Since February, Ukip has been heading for extinction after its leader Henry Bolton was ousted over his racist girlfriend, its interim leader Gerard Batten was forced to beg for £100,000 to prevent insolvency, and then the party was billed £175,000 in a libel case.

Countering overstatements about the party’s early demise, Kippers have come through, with branches raising £79,477 and individuals £215,411 for a total of £294,888.

It is surprising the party still has life left in it. Since the referendum on EU membership the purples have suffered scandal after scandal, seemingly unable to co-ordinate without full-time pundit and occasional politician Nigel Farage.

But more intriguing than the turnaround is the statement from Batten that the £175,000 libel costs were paid ‘by other means’ in addition to the £300,000 raised. The press release goes on:

‘With great energy and speed our new Treasurer, Sebastian Fairweather put together a plan to raise the money, which he did, and it was paid on 29th March. This money did not come from the funds raised by means of the current fundraising initiative.’

Given the party’s empty pockets and the allocation of the £300,000 elsewhere, just who saved Ukip from death by libel?

 

Podcast Ep. 104: Government Unveils Post-Brexit Armed Forces

Britain unveils post Brexit army

The 327th anti-Brexit party Renew, special counsel Robert Mueller’s Cold War-style indictments of Russian officials, and calls by old people to press-gang the young into military service are the three topics this week.

Joining us are our subconscious appetites for military misadventure.

Image based on King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, May 2015 by Captain Roger Fenton

Why does anyone care about Renew?

There’s something a bit stinky about Renew, ‘the UK’s most credible new political party’ according to press release that heralded the party’s launch earlier this week.

It’s not surprising that another new party has emerged. In the febrile atmosphere of Brexit, now is a healthy time for new parties – 50-odd were created last year and more than 20 have emerged this year before we’ve even left February.

What is odd that anybody cares.

Beyond a press conference, a functional website and a vague centrist ethos, it’s unclear what Renew has that many of the other small outfits don’t. From the outside, it is bizarre that a party led by an accountant, a start-up consultant, a comms advisor and a fintech executive with limited experience in politics has gained any traction.

From its website the party has 19 declared candidates. According to the Core interview with principal James Clarke, it is crowdfunded, and has a few larger donors. Given that it is deliberately drawing candidates who have never been in politics before – much as French president Emmanuel Macron did before he was elected – it presumably has few local roots in any of the constituencies it will fight for.

Equally, many of the arguments are remoaner boilerplate. None of the spokespeople can countenance that the EU is an unloved institution in Britain, with all attributing the leave vote to inequality, or anger at the financial crash, or anything but the idea that the British do not want to be governed from Brussels. Nor do they have a convincing argument for why the referendum should be ignored.

What gives? The only reason I can think of is that they have connections in the media that allowed them to wrangle some early coverage. And while it’s possible it could take off, there’s no reason to think it will.