Following the resignation of Brexitary David Davis, foreign secretary Boris Johnson and, er, Chris Green, the lads discuss the implications for Theresa May’s government and Brexit.
Joining us is Jazza’s campaign for more sexy world leaders.
Image based on Yodelling pugs, October 2011 by istolethetv
The travails of the centrist remoaners at Renew continued at the recent local elections, with a defecting councillor James Cousins, formerly of the Tories, losing his seat in Shaftesbury, Wandsworth. The party retains two other defectors at seats in Barnard Castle and Portsmouth that were not contested earlier this month.
Cousins tried to put a gloss on it, saying in a press release: ‘Though squeezed by the two main parties in this major battleground [Wandsworth], we showed we can take votes away from them and be competitive against the Liberal Democrats, Greens and UKIP. For example, Chris Coghlan won 10% of the vote in Balham.’
In fact in the Shaftesbury ward the Tories, Labour and Lib Dems all gained votes, with one Labour candidate only 36 votes off nicking a seat from the Tories. The only caveat was that turnout, both in relative and absolute terms, was higher. See the 2014 results here, and the 2018 results here. A similar story also emerged in the Balham ward between 2014 and 2018.
Snark aside, clocking up a few hundred votes in a few local councillors only a few months after setting up is not bad. But it is still rather bemusing that Renew continues to merit media attention, most recently a long read in the New Statesman.
Anoosh Chakelian, a staff hack at the leftish magazine, asks most of the right questions of the new party. Most compelling is why it needs to exist when its policy positions – anti-Brexit, centre right economics, centre left society – are shared by the Liberal Democrats.
‘The Lib Dems have got their own baggage which limits the way they can make an impact,’ says Renew volunteer Alan Victor. ‘If you’re new and fresh, you can start again from first principles.’
Perhaps so, but the Lib Dems did rather well at the locals, gaining 75 seats. The party also has a history of local campaigning, with at least some of the institutional memory, connections and infrastructure that goes with that.
As time goes on fewer are likely to care about the coalition years, that broken pledge on student tuition fees and former leader Tim Farron’s, er, conflicted stance on homosexuality. And if the Liberals claws back their outsider status, just what will the point of Renew be?
The response to the Windrush scandal that saw foreign-born Britons denied access to public services, our slim understanding of Commonwealth happenings, and ‘Sir’ Nick Clegg’s podcast are the three topics this week.
Joining us is Brexit, the rotting yet adhesive core of our friendship.
‘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.