UK Election Day Is Here

Due to some personal train wrecks yesterday (car vandalized, and that wasn’t the only mess), this post will be cursory, which I very much regret given the importance of this election day for the UK and potentially for Brexit.

As readers know, the election hasn’t gone according to forecasts. The Brexit Party was anticipated to pose a threat, potentially significant, to the Tories. That collapsed with surprising speed. So to have the LibDems (albeit apparently not to the same degree), in parallel with the “People’s Vote” campaign. However the LibDem’s reversal of fortune is in large measure due to voters liking Jo Swinson less and less the more they saw of her.

Or maybe not regarding the Brexit Party. Will Farage have his revenge? This scaremongering may be a “get out the vote” ploy, but as we’ll see below, Craig Murray makes a case that this election is more in play than the press would have you believe. From the Telegraph:

The Telegraph has identified nearly 50 seats where the Brexit Party appears to be blocking a potential Tory victory, piling further pressure on Nigel Farage to stand candidates down after pollsters refused to rule out a hung parliament on Thursday. The Brexit Party leader is already facing calls to put country before party after two of his prospective MPs stood down in Lincoln and Redcar – which are both on the list of viable Tory targets – to make way for the Conservatives.

It’s odd that voters and the press seem bored about this campaign. The stakes, of a certain Brexit that is also certain to be badly managed and leave most UK citizens poorer, is pitted against Labour’s shambolic-seeming two referendums which could lead to no Brexit or if the EU can stomach more negotiations, a softer Brexit.

But Brexit fatigue has resulted in it being almost a sideshow. As Chris Grey said last week:

As the election campaign enters its final days my warning at the outset that, despite this being an election defined by Brexit, there would be no substantive discussion of Brexit has come true.

Labour have failed to fill out what their ‘sensible Brexit’ would look like, especially as regards the single market. But at least they are being clear in offering voters the choice, if and when the time comes, of whether they want this Brexit or not … Meanwhile, the Conservatives have said little beyond their ‘get Brexit done’ slogan, apart from Johnson’s usual blustering non sequiturs.

Even so, within that bluster can be seen the outlines of some of the real and difficult choices which, if he is elected, Johnson would immediately face over Brexit. The most obvious and widely discussed example is the insistence that no extension will be sought to the transition period. Beyond that, a piece by Denis Staunton, the London Editor of The Irish Times, argues that statements made by Johnson in relation to a possible future US trade deal, to the abandonment of EU state aid and public procurement rules, and to post-Brexit UK-EU arbitration mechanisms could all significantly affect the options open to him if he wins the election.

In particular, Staunton argues, Johnson is setting up a scenario in which the UK is too distantly aligned with the EU to achieve decent terms of trade with them, whilst – partly because of the promises he has made about the NHS, and agriculture and food standards –being too closely aligned to the EU to achieve a meaningful, or any, trade deal with the US.

The early predictions, that the Tories would win by 90 seats, now look very much in doubt. Labour has managed to pull off a late-in-the-game surge by making the election about the NHS and the gutting of social services. From Tory hopes of decisive majority in doubt as voters head to polls in the Financial Times:

The prime minister’s Conservative party has sustained a comfortable 10-point average lead over Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour but in recent days some polls have suggested the gap is narrowing….

The FT poll tracker, which gives the Tories a 10-point lead over Labour, suggests Mr Johnson is on course for the biggest Conservative majority since John Major’s 21-seat victory in 1992.

A YouGov survey, using modelling that was successful in predicting the result of the 2017 election, said on Tuesday the Tories were on course to win 339 seats, Labour 231, the Liberal Democrats 15 and the Scottish National party 41. That would suggest a Tory majority of 28, down sharply on the 68 figure predicted two weeks earlier.

Admittedly, the lousy weather forecast for today traditionally would favor the Tories, but with the Tories expecting a boost from tactically-voting Labourites (presumably due to disappointment with Labour’s incoherence on Brexit), that cohort may also be less motivated to brave the elements.

Craig Murray, an unabashed Labour fan, has argued from early on that Boris Johnson having declared war on moderate Tories would make the national polls less reliable than usual as a guide to results, since that would tend to take votes from seats where the Tories didn’t have a strong position to being with. He still thinks the election will be close, and that the fact that the LibDems are unlikely to join a coalition with the Tories means he deems it decently possible to deny them the Government.

This is his intro to a seat-by-seat recommendation for how to vote to stymie the Tories in constituencies which he thinks will be close calls:

A few thousand tactical votes in key seats can really make a serious difference.

This is a much larger list than would normally be sensible. Generally not that many seats are in doubt in our grossly inadequate electoral system. But the Tory campaign to go after broadly northern working class Brexit votes at the expense of broadly southern liberal voters, has put many more seats in doubt. This is my personal selection of where you might make a real difference – it is my list and I have compiled it with great care and without consulting any other such advice out there. My list is informed not just by polls (and my own interpretation of those polls), but on data from the ground and so includes more Tory seats than other lists, as I believe the Tories will lose quite a few. Tomorrow night will be very exciting because so many individual results are uncertain.

Admittedly, some readers who are Labour-leaning think it would be fine for the Tories to win and own the mess they’ve created. But the costs of the Brexit they will implement on the UK and the EU are extremely high. As much as either a Tory or Labour minority government may produce more citizen-frustrating dithering, the faux decisiveness of moving towards a messy, poorly managed, destructive divorce is an illusory advantage. As bad as it is to see the UK’s leadership more and more unable to navigate a sensible course, it’s much worse to bring that level of division and incompetence to extremely high stakes negotiations.

And I wonder if our tea-leaf-readers can interpret this one:

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  1. none

    That Labour is not headed to a clear and overwhelming win seems like a massive failure on their part. How did this happen? Its like H. Clinton losing to Trump, except Corbyn is not hateful like Clinton. So what is the story?

    Also, what time do polls close? I’ve heard 1700est but that sounds pretty late.

    1. John A

      polling stations close at 10pm local time, i.e. Greenwich Mean Time.

      Corbyn has been subjected to an intensive, unrelenting hate campaign. The mainstream media, including the supposedly impartial BBC, are overwhelming Conversative supporters who put spin on everything – see ‘Russia behind the NHS negotations with the US leak last week, the outrageous anti-semitism smears.
      Blair followed the Bill Clinton route of turning Labour into ‘tory-lite’ and the Labour party is still packed with Blairite MPs, who oppose any kind of return to traditional Labour values, just as the Democrats are effectively ‘republican-lite’. These Blairite MPs are 5th columnists and support Tory policies rather than Labour.

          1. Harry

            They do. Its the party membership which has twice selected Corbyn. The PLP hates him. I only wish the party had emphasized that a vote for Labour is a vote for a coalition government. Corbyn would have had to find an accommodation with the rather hostile PLP.

            I suppose it wasnt the messge they wanted to emphasize.

      1. Nj

        Yes, every mainstream media outlet seems to hate a truly left wing candidate. But let’s not pretend Corbyn hasn’t self sabotaged himself plenty of times.
        The antisemitism problem is very much a real thing in his party right now, and Corbyn himself is as bad as anyone.
        He’s never been clear or honest about his Brexit position. Indeed, he’s shown precious little non-reactive leadership in anything other than purging his own ranks since he took over the party.
        Sadly, in just a few years his leadership has gone from being a golden opportunity to the most generous gift he could give the toxic and dysfunctional Tory party.

        1. Darius

          Trolling. When you hear Corbyn called antisemite, read anti-Blairite and anti-Bibi. The charge is 110 percent manufactured and bald-faced bad faith. The charge is harder to level at Sanders, but they’re doing it. And he’s Jewish and had close relatives killed in the Holocaust.

        2. Kurtismayfield

          Are the Anti Semitic accusations based upon actual statements of bigotry, or just statements condoning the State of Israel’s actions?

        3. Harry


          But the UK establishment has form. Wilson, Foot and Kinnock were all sabotaged by the UK security establishment.

        4. turtle

          Here’s the question I’ve had for a while regarding the Labour antisemitism trope:

          Is the Labour Party generally any more or less antisemitic than the Conservative Party and the UK’s general population?

          In other words, could whatever antisemitism there is in the Labour Party be simply ascribed to the average antisemitism present in the general population of the UK, or is there any evidence that they are antisemitic above and beyond the general population and the Conservative Party? I would find it hard to believe or understand the latter.

          I should also clarify that I define antisemitism as actual bigotry against Jewish people just for being Jewish, and NOT just criticism of Israeli state actions and policies, like for how it deals with Palestinians, etc.

        5. lyman alpha blob

          Advocating for the rights of Palestinians is not antisemitic. Neither is criticizing the atrocious Israeli government.

          Better trolls please.

          1. Alex

            Criticism by itself is not. The problem is he has been silent about many other governments who have been responsible for many more atrocities.

        6. Jack Parsons

          Heh- he has been honest about his stance on Brexit, he just hasn’t mentioned it much because it can’t be sold well.

          EU membership makes leftward revision much more difficult, so disengaging from the EU makes it much easier to institute real leftward change. Hell, France might beat the UK out of the EU at this rate.

          And of course, Irish unification is on the menu if Brexit is badly done. Catholics have been outbreeding Prots in Northern Ireland for awhile now, and the Good Friday agreements could be destabilized by Brexit.

    2. Hayek's Heelbiter

      “A massive failure” on Labour’s part???!!!!

      Early on, the MSM employed the Spaghetti Attack Strategy. They threw every single calumny they could at Corbyn, his tie, his son. The one that stuck was allegations of anti-Semitism. Subsequently, with page after page, electron after electron, the MSM hurled this meme squarely at him, until, if you tuned into any MSM, even the supposedly impartial Beeb, you would witness the tsunami of vitriol, venom and vituperation aimed at Corbyn.

      Meanwhile, Bojo, has been giving a complete free pass! If the following were true about Corbyn, the latter would have been hung, drawn and quartered in Parliament Square by now. Pick up a few days of last week’s mainstream Daily Mail, and you will see exactly what I mean. The following obscure bit of information, overlooked by most of the MSM, unknown to many, including, until recently, me, is a prime example of the asymmetric information battle being waged.

      BOJO’S BROOD – How many children does Boris Johnson have and what are their names?
      BORIS Johnson is thought to be the father of five children. Four of his kids are from his marriage to high-flying barrister Marina Wheeler and his fifth child is with a former mistress…

      Whatever your opinion of The Sun is, the facts are the facts.

      And the fact that Corbyn is still standing in this David vs. Goliath struggle is not a “failure” but a miracle.

      1. integer

        The smearing of Corbyn with claims he is an anti-Semite is just so gross.

        The Lobby P1: Young Friends of Israel

        In the first of a four-part series, Al Jazeera goes undercover inside the Israel Lobby in Britain. We expose a campaign to infiltrate and influence youth groups, including the National Union of Students, whose president faces a smear campaign coordinated by her own deputy and supported by the Israel Embassy.

        The Lobby P2: The Training Session

        In part two of The Lobby, our undercover reporter joins a delegation from the Israeli Embassy at last year’s Labour Party Conference. The programme reveals how accusations of anti-Semitism were made against key Labour Party members – and how a former official at the Israeli Embassy was upset when her background was revealed.

        The Lobby P3: An Anti-Semitic Trope

        In part three of The Lobby, our undercover reporter travels to the Labour Party Conference, revealing how accusations of anti-Semitism by group within Labour targeted Israel critics and saw some investigated.

        The Lobby P4: The Takedown

        In part four of The Lobby, the senior political officer at the Israeli Embassy in London discusses a potential plot to ‘take down’ British politicians – including a Minster of State at the Foreign office who supports Palestinian civil rights.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        Its not good enough to just blame media attacks. The mainstream media attacked Trump relentlessly, it made no difference whatever, in fact he benefited from it. Plenty of politicians from both left and right have thrived in the face of ‘respectable’ opprobrium. In Scotland, the SNP have been relentlessly attacked by the local and national media for years. Now they dominate Scottish politics.

        Its behind a paywall, but I think the most astute analysis of Labours failure has been by Fintan O’Toole a couple of weeks ago. His argument has a few elements, but the key one is that Corbyn has never really wanted power, and the public have sensed this. He is a decent and honorable man, and people respond well to this, but people want a leader – a real one. For whatever reason, Bojo comes across as a leader (and even May, in all her haplessness did too), but Corbyn never worked out that to persuade people to vote for you to be PM, you have to first persuade them that you really want to be PM. Instead, he comes across as a dilettante in political terms.

        There are of course other reasons – the most obvious one is Brexit. It has sucked all the energy out British politics, but Corbyns failure to take a firm stance – any stance – has disenchanted too many people. He wanted to be seen as a clean pair of hands, instead he looked just like any other shady politician. You simply can’t expect people to vote for you if you can’t express a simple clear stance on the most important political issue of the day.

        The simple reality is that millions of people are voting for a wretchedly incompetent, extremist, venal and corrupt political party because they see no real alternative. In Scotland, people have an alternative, and are voting overwhelmingly for it. In England and Wales, they perceive that they don’t. There is nobody to blame for that but the leadership of the main alternative parties.

        1. vlade

          I wholeheartedly agree. Inability to take a clear stance on Brexit is just mindboggling. And it’s not “what do you want” stuff – people expect leaders to have an opinion.

          On the antisemitism – I do think he’s anti-zionist, but not an anti-semite. But that is a nuanced stance that can be easily misinterpreted, especially if you seem to approve things (like the infamous mural) that seem to put an equal sign between these two, and say “Zionist can’t understand English irony, even if they lived in this country for a long time” (whatever he meant at the time).

          Again, he vaccilated on this, because some of the parties involved (which I do think put the equal sign between zionists and jews) are his close allies.

          For better or worse, sometime the choice is between personal loyalty and the cause of the country. All the sucessfull politicians knew it, and were prepared for it, one way or another (that doesn’t mean being Machiavellian about it, but it means being prepared to deal with it effectively). I can applaud his sense of personal loyalty (it is rare to find these days), but lack of ability to deal with it well tells me he’s not commited to the leadership – as PK says.

            1. vlade

              The point is that most people do not read context. They do not have time.

              The zionism/jews situation is really nuanced, and can be easily misinterpreted. Believeing that your political enemies will not use it is naive. Not having a plan to deal with it when they do is naive too IMO.

              1. AdrianD

                Quite so, but many of these comments were made well before Corbyn was shuffled forward as a long-shot leftie ticket-balancer for leadership.

                Certainly the response should have been way more robust, but he/they were fighting the media, many Labour MPs, a very conservative (small and big C) set of Establishment Jewish organisation. and, probably most significantly in hindsight, a complacent and likely corrupt set of Labour Party officials who obstructed a proper disciplinary response in the first couple of years. This group shredded hundreds of documents before they left , bu saved enough to leak to the press to give the indication that the new processes were not working.

          1. Harry

            Its true that Corbyn is not a ruthless or effective leader. Its also true that he has been sabotaged from inside and out.

            The Jewish Chronicle has been an extremely effective albeit utterly ruthless opponent. Which makes perfect sense given Stephen Pollard is its editor. I have asked them on a number of occasions to let me know which socialist candidate they could recommend as not being antisemitic, and they never offer an answer. And then there is this.


        2. makedoanmend

          I don’t disagree with you in the least PK. But.

          The anti-semistism smear was so patently absurd from the get-go that it’s hard to understand how it got legs. Right now it is almost taken as gospel. (Repeat a lie often enough…)

          No less a personage than John Bercow (late, the Speaker of the House of Commons in the UK and Jewish by religion) had put on record via a televised interview that he has known Corbyn for a long time and can aver that Corbyn is not anti-semitic. He says anti-semitism exists in England but it a broad social issue cutting across the community. (I will try and track a reference down on youtube.)

          While many a politician has had to deal with less than truthful news organisations and general mud-slinging, it’s the long-term and sustained nature and use of a patently false premise to smear Corbyn which is so troubling. This is not a new low in news reporting, imo, but rather a radical change in direction that cannot lead to any good. (We may be seeing the same dynamic being used against President Trump in the United States, which means nobody is safe. And truth becomes the ultimate casualty.)

          And you may be onto something about Labour and Corbyn being less than disappointed if they lose, or that they’re just putting on a good show about winning. From some grass-roots supporters I’ve read, their focus during the last 4-5 years has been on trying to uproot the Blairite faction. If Corbyn succeeds in doing that, they feel he has served his purpose.

          1. Harvey

            “… how it got legs”.
            It got legs because a coalition of self-interest relentlessly gave it legs. A loose and self-serving coalition of :
            1. The Tories – slowly dismantling all services to working people and siphoning the money to their offshore bank accounts.
            2. The Western Military & Intelligence Empire – getting control of “democracies” via legislation for “terrorism”. In the US. In the UK. In Australia in particular democracy is dying.
            3. The media owners – getting their money from sensational smear headlines and working hand in glove with the sources of smears (see 2. above) to keep the papers selling.

            Recently only people who have a very seedy past are being elected. Look around the world. People now elect vigilantes who kill with impunity, financial crooks, friends of pedophiles, serial womanisers. All badges worn proudly too.

            Why? I dunno, maybe they are easier to control if you have something on them? And is that the new morality of voters? We don’t care how immoral our leaders are if they give us hope of getting rich too?

        3. aleph_0

          To be fair, coming from a narrative phenomenon, attacks like this work on people like Corbyn, but they can never work on Trump.

          These attacks rely on the narrative device of, “Who is this guy, really?”

          For a guy like Corbyn who seems so straightforward and sincere, these attacks can be devastating if repeated over and over, because eventually, people decide that he really does have this dark side to him. And the people who have this realization get to feel clever, like they figured out a detective novel before the ending.

          For Trump, who has always just been a scumbag on the outside, none of these attacks will stick because there’s no revelation. People always knew he was always like this. And for some, that’s why they voted for him.

          (This is not to say that Corbyn has done a great job on Brexit policy, etc. I’m just pointing out that the attack comparison to Trump is faulty.)

          1. Harvey

            People make a mistake comparing Trump to Corbin. They have nothing in common.

            The US has a battle of the oligarchs. Trump is a minor oligarch working to Adelson and other much richer oligarchs well connected to the Israeli military industrial juggernaut. Clinton & Biden are not oligarchs but their major funders are, one of whom is Bezos. Bezos, Brin etc want to/are working for the US military intelligence juggernaut.

            The UK is a David & Goliath story. Corbin is not an oligarch. Oligarchs hate Corbin because he calls out the fraud that is impoverishing most of Britain and enriching them. Corbin is friendless amongst oligarchs and their hangers-on who include the financial sector, the military-intelligence juggernaut, and media owners. He is basically a decent person who has been comprehensively smeared and who doesnt have the money and connections to fight back.

            Alexander Boris Johnson is an extremely smart upper class Brit. He relies on his buffoonery to get what he wants. Johnson’s public history is of serial philandering, lying, dodgy financial dealings, racism, sexism. Mostly ignored. Why?

            Could it be because the UK and US oligarchs have a plan for the UK which involves post-Brexit plunder and looting of the UK? Lets see where the NHS is in 10 years time.

            No western country will elect a social democrat government from now on. The oligarchs and their net of military and intelligence operatives have put laws in place to make oligarchs and their security detail untouchable, no matter what laws they break. And they know it.
            In Australia, the land of beaches and sunshine and barbeques, people can now be disappeared. Who’d have thunk it?

            1. BlakeFelix

              Well, white people. Australians have always been pretty good at turning inconvenient brown people quietly into dogfood.

    3. David

      After three and a half years of Brexit crisis and hysteria, people just want to get it over. The perception (not entirely wrongly) is that a Tory government will do this, and make the pain go away, whereas a Labour government will mean that the agony continues for a bit longer. This is unfair, since in some ways the real agony is just starting, but it does reflect both the simplistic and mendacious statements by the Tories, and the more nuanced and complicated things that Labour have been saying.

      1. The Rev Kev

        ‘After three and a half years of Brexit’

        Had to check that one out more and found that it has been 1,267 days. Unbelievable.

        1. Joe Well

          Now it’s hard for me to imagine a UK that wasn’t Brexiting. Future historians may put the start of the “Brexit Period” sometime in the 2000s with the founding of UKIP.

          But in my bones I feel like it will never end. I am in Argentina right now, and this country has been on a long relatively gradual slide for 90 years, punctuated by dramatic rises and falls. There was no one moment you could say it became a globally irrelevant middle income country that no sane person would invest in, but that is where they are now. I think the UK is in for something similar unless climate change just upends everything.

          UK = Argentina is my take. The national pride will get ever more nauseating, and people from even worse off countries will still flock there. But more and more, no one will care what goes on there.

          1. skk

            I like the characterization “Brexit Period”, which captures the broad(ish) sweeps of history perspective. I’ve yet to come to an understanding of what that broad(ish) trend is but I guess that’s because I’m part of it, having grown up there thru high school, uni, and employment over 66-92 before scarpering to get away from the racism glass ceiling and incessant daily tiny pin-pricks of racist insensitivities.
            But over the last 28 years or so, the racism was clearly dissipating yet the decline was also inexorable. Which saddened me. Then Brexit. I’ve been and am a Eurosceptic myself. But not like this ! So does the strong support for Leave, which had a strong xenophobic component, illustrate that in the broad(ish) sweep of history, the dissipation of racism was just a dip ?
            We’ll see. I’ll be glued to BBC via IPlayer from the USA. Which ( +AllFour and ITV ) is all I ever watch. Last night I caught up with “Mrs Wilson”. Amazing actresses and production ! British drama is a gem.

    4. TiPs

      The U.K. MSM is blatantly partisan. The attacks on Corbyn and Labour have been relentless. Makes me wonder how bad things will get here in the US for Bernie?

      Btw, yesterday I googled “for the many, not the few” and the first two articles listed were negative attacks on Corbyn…

      1. Jokerstein

        I think the fact that Bernie is so active and outspoken is the reason that the sort of animus which appears to have sunk Corbyn is less likely to work. Bernie is relentless in his approach, which contrasts strongly with Ol’ Corbo.

        1. dcblogger

          I could be wrong, but I don’t think that the UK has anything like an online left alternative media as the US does. There is no UK version of NC, or The Young Turks, Majority Report, et al.

          1. Kurt Sperry

            This appears to be the case.Also, how can people respect as a leader a man who cannot even articulate a clear position on the overwhelmingly dominant political question of the day? That’s the diametric opposite of leadership.I share much of Corbyn’s political ideology but he’d have been eaten alive as PM, and probably deserve it.

  2. milesc

    If Labour had just about anyone else at the helm, they might win. They don’t, they won’t (is my guess). He’s not particularly likeable and he seems a lot like a dangerous socialist.

    Not that I want to vote for Boris, Gove, Patel and those clowns either.

    My vote will go elsewhere.

    Polls do indeed close at 10pm UK time, so 5pm EST.

      1. larry

        I think it should be noted that this article was written and originally published in 2016. I am not suggesting thereby that anything substantial has changed, but I thought the original date of the article should be made explicit. It also ought to be noted that this claim can not be made about his special advisors, such as Milne and Murphy.

    1. Darius

      Yeah. The masses are crying out for another Milliband. He was so good at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory that I’m surprised Labour isn’t leaping on that strategy.

  3. Richard B

    I think you’ll find Craig Murray is an erstwhile Liberal, and as a campaigner for Scottish Independence, much more in line with the SNP than Labour.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      That’s a very fair point. He’s a booster of Labour as Tory spoiler lt rather than it being his first choice.

      But from this remove, Nichola Sturgeon strikes me a having the makings of a much better PM than anyone on offer.

      1. larry

        On Sturgeon, I think you may be onto something.but I am not sure she will get a chance. A shame, really

        1. vlade

          If Johnson wins today, chances of that go up a lot. Give it a year or two of Johnson Tory misgovernment vs. acceptable SNP, and the too-hard-to-call independence polls will skew towards here a lot. And Johnson being the coward he is*), he will buckle under enough pressure.

          *) I suspect this for a time now, but last week’s incidents shown it pefectly. I don’t uderstand why Labour didn’t make it more of an election issue “tigers led by donkeys” would have fit perfectly.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            I do wonder about the polls though – there seems a ‘ceiling’ of 45% or so for pro-independence voters in Scotland. And it may be that Brexit uncertainty makes people even less sure about the step into the unknown of independence.

            I’ve said it here before, but I’ll repeat that I’m convinced that Scotland will be independent soon, but it won’t be because of Scottish nationalism. It will be because of English nationalism. I think an overt move to shove Scotland and all its socialists out of the UK (and Parliament) is a natural next step for Brexiters.

            1. turtle

              Would you say that the main reason that the majority of Scots voted to stay was to keep getting the benefits of a larger system, i.e. EU membership? Wasn’t one of the points trotted out against independence that EU membership would be uncertain if they left the UK? I’m not intimately familiar with that situation but it was just the impression I had.

              If that’s the case, wouldn’t the UK leaving the EU (and all the pain that that would cause) essentially remove any reason that most people had to vote against leaving?

          1. paul

            Whatever we like (though definitely not the euro or pound).
            We already have our own notes, and as far as energy, food and water goes we are practically an autarky.

  4. Clive

    All spot on as usual.

    I can only usefully contribute the following on the “general election 2109” tweet.

    Now, this is very interesting. It plays into a key — probably the most important popular sentiment about this election and Leave and Remain. It is, of course, overtly disparaging of the level of intellect and competence of the electorate. It is an oft-heard refrain in both the meeja punditry class and prominent Remain supporters. Here is well-known (in the UK) comedian Steve Coogan peddling the same kind of thinking (and sorry it’s Guido Fawkes, but that’s the best link I can find with the segment edited in YouTube

    It’s even more pronounced in the comments sections of prominent Remain outlets. The Guardian’s readership are a pretty humanistic bunch, so they tend to express the notion in a more hand-wrung “don’t these people know what harm they’re doing to themselves, I wish, oh wish, they’d think about it more and realise what they’re doing…” The FT has a fairly-pronounced we’re-rich-so-that-proves-how-clever-we-are reader cohort and they, in their comments are even more overt: “the people are stupid and they’re too stupid to be allowed to vote on things if this is the kind of mess they are going to make”.

    Well. Neither Guardian readers/commenters, nor FT readers/commenters actually mention the word “deplorables” (not that I’ve seen, anyway) and nor did the poster of the tweet. But the inference is all-too-clear. And yet, is it Remain which needs to convince Leave voters to change their minds and their votes. Suffice to say, insulting the voters is rarely, if ever, a winning strategy. Which kind-of undermines the Remain’er tendency to allocate themselves intellectual superiority, if they can’t figure that one out.

    When I discuss politics, as I am wont to do, with all and sundry, I sometimes come away with a thought that they’ve come to the wrong conclusions (should my opinion differ from theirs). But very, very rarely (if ever) do I think that people are ill-informed. People, I find, know exactly what’s going on. That certainly includes those who support Leave. For the given fact-set, you can argue about what the correct response should be. But you are on very dodgy territory, in my view, to claim that people are simply too stupid to know what’s what, in terms of the basic issues in play. Remain’ers, in my experience, are far — far — too quick to reach for this “explanation”. That tweet is a classic case in point, casting aspersions on the ability of people to decide what they think is the right thing to do because they are — by searching on “General election 2109” — clearly too dimwitted to even know what year it is.

    To go even more meta on this, the person posting the tweet — like a lot of Remain supporters — fails to realise how it is, even in the means they use to construct their argument, they who are showing themselves to be a little lacking in the smarts department. As anyone who frequently uses a browser with “auto-complete” enabled, you start typing in a search phrase and it’s not that unusual for a typo-created search to be brought up as the most likely candidate that meets your search criteria. Before you finish tying in the correctly worded search phrase, you select the typo-ridden one because you know it will be, in fact, the correct search term you want to use yourself because everyone else will have done what you’re doing, thus promoting the “incorrect” search term to become a valid one.

    It’s so obvious, it’s the sort of thing that happens in everyday life, we’re all inured into not thinking it anything worthy of remarking on, let alone trying to use it in any debate point-scoring exercise. But to the — presumably Remain-thinking tweet poster — it was a cheap shot that they simply couldn’t resist firing off. Without thinking it through properly, because there’s a subtlety in play in all that, which they were completely oblivious to. Thereby demonstrating they were not, then, quite so clever as they thought they were.

    1. vlade

      I sort of agree, but at the same time, I actually can understand the “are they stoopid or what?”. Because when you actually talk to some of the leavers, you get things like:
      “I will vote UKIP/BP, because Labour sold us down river with Blair”
      “But those two are full of ex-Tories?”
      “Good for them”
      “Do you think they will do something for you?”
      “I hope so. Since Thather kiled the country, no-one did anythign for us!”
      “But UKIP/BP is full of Thatcherites, supporting small government and anti-unions etc.]”
      “hey, no-one is these days”
      “So his policies are against your interest, so you’d not be voting for them, right?”
      “Sure I should!”

      It’s cutting off your nose to spite your face – except the problem is, it’s not your face that is the problem (because the real elites will charge you for the ambulance to stop the bleeding and put you into prison for littering-with-noses, while having fun in some tax haven).

      So IMO, yes, it’s an irrational outburst of rage, which is hard to understand – unless you take a closer look at why is there the rage in the first place, and why there’s a feeling that the outburst, no matter how irrational, is the only thing left to you.

      Similar tp how few people can truly understand self-harm.

      1. Clive

        I think the outburst of rage explanation was very valid and entirely correct. But back in June 2016.

        Now, the whole exhumation of the big repository of skeletons in the U.K. political, class, economic, identity and worldview wardrobe that is Brexit has moved on and is tackling some other things which need — if not resolving — then a thorough, conscious, examination.

        There is a class of metropolitan liberal (or they like to view themselves as liberal, anyway) good-thinkers who utterly despise those who not only don’t belong to their in-group but don’t want to belong to it. For as long as I certainly can remember, this segment of society has tried to offer the members of the underclass, the precariat and even, moving up, the echelons of the squeezed middle a deal.

        The deal was: “you let us wrap ourselves up in our ideological comfort-blanket (internationalism, globalist and progressive, as we define progressive) then, when we’re in our natural and obviously pre-ordained leadership positions, we’ll look after your interests, or at least look after them a little better than the right wing politicians will”

        For several political cycles, the underclass, the precariat and the squeezed middle said, okay, we’ll try it your way. Here’s the keys to power, we’ll barter what we need for what you want — you give us something better than the other, free-market fundamentalists lot, we’ll give you the chance to indulge your grandiose notions of how to make the world a better place.

        Of course, what happened was the underclass, the precariat and the squeezed middle got bugger all, but the liberal clever-clogs big-picture types got their pet ideologies implemented. Worse, the underclass, the precariat and the squeezed middle found that, far from being anodyne and inoffensive, the sort-a liberal types’ internationalism and globalism was, in some ways, just as harmful as anything the Old Tory supposed bad-guys ever dumped on them.

        This same deal was offered by Remain. You go along with our theories that EU membership offers The One True Path to health, wealth and happiness, we’ll show you how wonderful the outcomes of letting us try that works for you. To which the members of the underclass, the precariat and the squeezed middle, who are not just once bitten and perhaps twice shy but suffering from multiple lacerations caused by the amount of times they’ve been bitten by that particular dog, retorted “sez you! sod off, we’re never, ever, falling for that one again”.

        The hissy fit now being thrown by the liberal (or liberal-ey) good-thinkers in response to that has to be seen to be believed. They are really — really — sore. But then again, most hoodwinkers, who find their sleights-of-hand have been rumbled, are.

        1. vlade

          I’m not really sure I buy this. I still think that the rage-at-the-machine is well and alive (cf Brexit Party in EU elections), but now it includes “we voted for leave and you [elites] don’t listen to us! We were always right!” – and that’s hurting Labour, because sitting on the fence lost it both sides, and instead of trusted itermediary between leave and remain they are disliked by both. Tory message here is “see, we listen to you!”. Even if they don’t.

          Labour could have captured the middle ground, because after the referendum there were remainers who were willing to accept the result – and plenty of other remainers who would be ok with a soft Brexit. But Labour never seriously pushed this message, letting Tories grab the agenda and Labour on defensive here.

          1. fajensen

            In defence of Labour behaviour, one could argue that every time ‘the left’ has been close to power, they have instantly turned on each other and started an internal battle of Purtity & Cleansing! Much to the amusement and instant relief of ‘the right’ and the Social Democrats.

            Now Labour are just being rational in trying to avoid all the distress by ensuring the survival of the most incompetent government England has ever had since Æthelred the Unready (or the benevolent, as the vikings called him).

            Well, so far good, I bet Johnson & Team Grayling are going to be all: ‘Here, hold my beer …’ after the election, plunging to unseen levels of new stupidity (should they win :).

    2. What?No!

      Oh. I thought everyone was being clever and pointing out that it’s general election 2109 to reflect that (a) nothing will have changed since 2019 and (b) everyone’s lost interest and no one would notice.

  5. efschumacher

    Well here’s a list of Labour Leaders who were viciously demonized: Harold Wilson, Jim Callaghan, Michael Foot, Neil Kinnock, Tony Blair, George Brown, Ed Miliband, Jeremy Corbyn. Harold Wilson won twice as a Socialist and Tony Blair won three times as a pale-blue tory.

    ANYBODY who gets in the position of Labour Party Leader is going to be demonized and have shite thrown at him (or her, in the future), because that is what the Dail Mail, Express, Telegraph, Sun and recently even the BBC do. It’s not about having a flawed character as party leader. It’ about having the temerity to promote an agenda that aims to benefit the people as a whole over certain oligarchic minorities.

    I just voted for Anna Perrett, Labour, in York Outer. The sitting tory MP Julian Sturdy is in a 55% Remain constituency yet voted the last 9 years for the consistent Brexit slate. He’s a ‘gentleman’ farmer, who supports the continued Grouse Moor burning on the upland that directly affects the flooding in the Wharfe, Ouse and Don. So you can’t even approve of what he does on local grounds.

  6. PlutoniumKun

    I was in the north of England last weekend and I was amazed at how little electioneering was going on – I hardly saw a single poster. A casual visitor would never have guessed an election was going on. It seems that all the parties have focused all their attention on the few dozen seats that really matter. The problem is that the electorate is in such flux that nobody really knows for sure which seats are safe and which aren’t – there have been lots of rumours that even supposedly historically safe Labour seats may be in play as Brexiteer Labour voters are threatening a one-off vote to the Tories or BP.

    The LibDems are in freefall nationally, but this may be irrelevant as they focus all their attention on their key target seats, and they’ve traditionally been very good at maximising their potential vote where it matters, by fair or foul means. So I wouldn’t be surprised if they eat deeper into the Tory seat cull than the polls suggest.

    The BBC was floating stories that the postal vote is looking bad for Labour, but ironically, stories like this could work in Corbyns favour. The theory I’ve heard from several quarters is that a lot of wavering Labour Brexiteers and moderate Tories might think twice about casting a vote for BoJo if they are sure he are going to win, they’ll do a protest vote instead. But whether this is a real factor is anyone’s guess.

    Its worth looking at Scotland too – if the Tories are to be denied a majority its vital that the SNP eat into the handful of Tory seats north of the border. It seems though that they have run a poor campaign and this won’t happen.

    Northern Ireland is also interesting – there is a lot of anger at the DUP at how they were ‘duped’ by Bojo. The question is whether the Unionist vote will revolt against them, at least on a one-off election. It does seem highly unlikely though that any NI party will have the same power again, not least as the seat distribution there is fragmenting.

    The first exit polls will be out at 10pm GMT.

    1. larry

      Re the postal vote ‘stories’, PK, Kuenssberg has been called out by the electoral commission for revealing information about such votes that violate electoral law. The Beeb, of course, says nothing like that happened. We’re clean, gov. The Beeb have been pathetic throughout the entire election period and before. I agree that such info could work in Corby’s favor. But that may not have been Kuenssberg’s intent.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I haven’t watched BBC TV at all the past few weeks, apart from briefly on Sunday morning – I couldn’t believe that their lead was that Labours claims on Tory plans to sell off the NHS were the result of a Russian Intelligence operation. That was seriously the first story – not that the documents were in fact genuine. The second news report clarified that ‘Labour received them from a legitimate source, but the ultimate source may have been from Russia’ or some such nonsense.

        1. vlade

          BBC, since Cameron’s time at least, is well and truly captured. I believe they are too afraid that Tories would cut/privatise them, so will do anything and everything to avoid upsetting them.

          The best they can do now is a few Attenborough/Brian Cox documentaries..

          1. stan6565

            The time is ripe for scrapping of the TV license fees.

            If that came to pass, I wonder where all the tv prompt readers would get another chance of £300-400-500-600k salaries, as they currently do.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Wowsers, I didn’t realize that the SNP blew it. Any clue as to why? I thought it was well recognized that a Brexit, particularly that the hard one Johnson is intent on delivering, would be very bad for Scotland.

      1. efschumacher

        I think the fact that Ruth Davidson stepped down as Scottish Conservatives leader shortly after Johnson was gifted the leadership suggests that she wasn’t in favour of his getting 5 years to wreak ill for the UK in general and Scotland in particular. So Scottish Conservatives don’t have a coherent positive campaign either.

        1. paul

          It might suggest it, but its far from the truth.
          She has never shown any concern about whatever tory policy has turned up.
          Johnson had no time for her and she knew her number was up.
          Attention seekers generally don’t value other attention seekers.
          Besides,she had a nice PR gig lined up to go with her undemanding day job as Nicola’s punch bag and BBC scotland’s time filler.
          Pity she was embarassed out the PR number, ha ha.

      2. paul

        I do not know if they have blown it yet, and they’ve been the most active party by a long shot in my constituency.
        Their naturally fearful approach and the increasing remoteness from the yes movement is wearing away at their support.
        A rather ugly bunch of chancers seem to have inordinate sway at SNP central and they have targeted people as capable as Joanna Cherry and Joan Macalpine for deselection in their insane pursuit of gender freedom.
        Nicola Sturgeon is a good administrator but she does not seem that interested in independence and quite how she expects to escape brexit without it, I confess I do not understand.

        1. makedoanmend

          I haven’t heard the term “gender freedom” before Paul. Is is a reaction against perceived gender equality or something?

          [I posted a rather long comment on Central Scotland which vanished in the ether. Basically I said that Central Scotland was apathetic for the most part; wanted any perceived strong leader to get Brexit off the TV one way or the other; and were generally not unhappy with the current economic conditions. Did you find this?

          Also said that SNP and Labour would split the constituency again and allow the Tory into the seat with the slimmest of margins as he did last time. Also Conservative majority overall. best]

          1. paul

            It’s basically a group who are obsessed with trans rights who want to force through self id. They do not seem to be that interested in anything else and consulting and funding only like minded groups like stonewall, and stonewall women’s groups.
            There was some pushback and a movement around a women’s rights pledge and those who supported it have been targeted, most dramatically Neale Hanvey, who was thrown under the bus for alleged ‘antisemitism’ a few weeks ago. (He’d posted a link to an article with a cartoon of Soros as puppetmaster a few years ago,FFS).

            As for people not being unhappy with economic conditions, the SNP have managed pretty well, but these things get taken for granted (as they arguably should). I have no reason not to believe that anti brexit feeling is as strong as it has been since the referendum.

            There are a lot of tight marginals, 10 more or less for the SNP would not be something I would be surprised by.

            It would be nice for Jo Swinson to get the boot in one of these.

            1. makedoanmend

              Thanks Paul. It sounds like the SNP have a real problem on their hands. Would you not suggest they find another political home? I know the SNP represents a broad array of peoples and ideas but, if id people are so focused on their only issue, why don’t they start their own party? Or do they know they have to use the SNP in order to have any influence and that no other party would tolerate them?

              On the economic front, I can’t help wonder if past SNP economic policies might, ironically, hurt them right now. Many people have been spared the worst excesses of austerity. Afterall the SNP kept building affordable and council houses against the dictats of the Tory London government; ignored the bedroom tax also; kept free medical and bus passes; etc. People might be taking these economic benefits for granted. A new Tory majority might be willing to take them away.

              We shall see. best

              1. paul

                I share those forebodings with dread, and the withdrawal bill (meekly described as a power grab) will cut the Scottish Government off at its knees.

                Power devolved is power retained as Enoch Powell said.

                As for deadbeat infestation, they would have attached themselves to labour a decade ago, they have little taste for the dreary aspects of democracy.

      3. vlade

        They are still polling around 40%, and likely to get more seats than in the last election.

        Their “problem” is that they are unashamedly pro-EU, and there are some Scottish nationalists who are strongly anti-EU.

        I suspect that there’s also an element of “let’s get Tories to wreck the UK, it will help our cause” vote.

        1. vlade

          40% in Scotland to be clear. Although I suspect that if they run candidates south of the border, they might have got some MPs there.. Now that would be fun!

      4. Clive

        The cognitive dissonance didn’t help the SNP at all.

        First off, there’s the referenda overload inherent in their manifesto. We need (or Scotland needs), apparently, another referendum on EU membership because the first one didn’t count (lies in the campaign, people didn’t know what they were doing — the usual reasons, in other words). Then there’s also got to be another Independence referendum, again, because the last one didn’t count as things have changed (the U.K. voted to leave the EU so Scotland gets another go at independence).

        But even if the U.K. doesn’t leave the EU, the SNP will still want another independence referendum, even if the stated reason for wanting it disappeared. Because the SNP wants an independent Scotland, there’s always some reason why this is “unavoidable” so there’s always got to be a call for another independence referendum. But still, the SNP want another EU membership referendum anyway, even if Scotland leaves the U.K.

        Oh, and these referenda 2.0 are more valid than the referenda 1.0 (for some reason) and are final and binding. Despite the first versions of the referenda also being final and binding. Except they maybe weren’t.

        All of this was put to the voters with, apparently, a straight face.

        And this is supposed to be the clever lot in U.K. politics? Gawd ‘elp us, then.

        Adopting, as best I can given the circumstances, a more serious tone, both the SNP in Scotland (calling for an Independence referendum at least once a day) and Sinn Féin in NI calling for a Border Poll at least once a week (perhaps more often than that, I only dip into NI politics on a weekend so it is entirely possible that Sinn Féin, like the SNP also call for an independence vote as an accompaniment to their morning coffee) have discovered that the electors are somewhat fatigued by whatever the problem is, an independence vote is the solution.

        It is, as, perhaps, voters are starting to appreciate, not a valid position which can be adopted in lieu of a credible policy platform for all the other considerations in trying to work out what’s best for our political economies.

        Returning, mercifully, solely to Scotland, there’s also the aspect that, for the SNP, an independent Scotland will be an EU Member State. And a Eurozone Member, to boot. The squaring of the rather awkward geopolitical circle created in that has not been especially well crafted by the SNP. How substituting EU control over Scottish fiscal, trade, agriculture & fisheries policy for the U.K.’s control over the same creates a more “independent nation” is a mystery to a lot of the electorate there, including a fair chunk who want an independent Scotland.

        The rationale is seemingly that Brussels and the Europeans will be a lot nicer to Scotland than that nasty old lot in London and the English. Which is almost certainly true, but of little relevance in terms of the degree of sovereignty enjoyed, which is supposedly the matter bring decided.

        A hopeless muddle, then, like the rest of U.K. politics and one which would require to finest political nous to resolve. Sturgeon gets an easy ride by the mainstream U.K. broadcast media, but eventually, voters want proper answers to tricky questions, regardless of whether the mass media poses them or not.

      5. PlutoniumKun

        I’ve heard from two reliable followers of Scottish politics that they made a fundamental error in focusing on Indyref2. Essentially, this has scared many ‘moderate’ Scottish Tories, who generally hate Bojo and what he represents (and Brexit) back into their corral. Basically, Scottish Tory Remainers fear an independent Scotland more than they fear Brexit and the SNP made the strategic mistake of reminding them of this.

        In general, they seem to have been caught on the hop a little – they were overconfident that they’d wipe out all opposition, but in diverting attention away from things like public services back to further referendums on Independence, they’ve re-split the Scottish vote on the national issue, rather than Brexit or public services. Bear in mind that there is a very consistent 55% majority in Scotland against independence.

        I’ve always felt that from Day 1 the SNP should have focused on the message ‘Scotland voted to stay in Europe, as a Scottish party we will do everything we can to honour that vote’., and stuck to it. But like nearly everyone else, they’ve allowed Brexit to muddle their minds.

        1. paul

          Where do they get the idea that the SNP are focusing on indyref2?
          It doesn’t appear on the campaign leaflets and I get the impression there is an edict not to use the phrase in public.
          The only ones that do are the unionist parties.
          The main message is stop brexit this GE, which unfortunately they can’t.

          They are quite hapless strategically, they take and get no credit for their domestic policies and are cowed into avoiding the independence question.

          The past few years have shown growing support for independence and it’s now hovering around 50%. The last ref started with around 30%.

          I agree brexit has been very much an ill wind.

  7. CBBB

    Well, here comes years more of Tory government. Too bad about Corbyn but Brexit did him in along with the massive smear campaign from the UK media that was able to stick. Maybe Labour should have replaced him earlier. It’s sad, and I know he was subject to the closing of the ranks of the British Establishment and character assassination on a grand scale but at the end of the day he couldn’t stop this clown-car of a Conserative party from getting a majority.

    1. fajensen

      The too-clever idiot did himself in by whipping for the triggering of A.50.

      If he’d be a bit dumber and more of a tribalist, he could have, relying entirely on the force of ignorance, just rejected setting off A.50 as “Tory Brexit -> Therefore Evil and Bad” and then kept sniping away at the rich vein of repeated Tory failures to get anything done with Brexit. Finally coming out of the closet as a Breiteer of a Remainer as circumstances dictate.

      Now would be a good time to have been able to present as a remainer, IMO.

    2. a different chris

      >Maybe Labour should have replaced him earlier.

      But with who? Tony himself is certainly done for good, but the Blairites as a group aren’t dead yet, is the problem. Another charismatic popinjay and there you are right back in Neolib-land again.

      Slightly shorter me: “Corbyn isn’t a successful leader” is not going to get you a better version of Corbyn, just the opposite.

      1. a different chris

        PS – rereading that sounds like I’m criticizing your post, in fact it was really just a pained moan about the state of every top Western nation nowadays, including and especially my US home.

  8. makedoanmend

    As I spend my last couple of months in Scotland, I can say that it appears this elections did not light any fires under most people in Central Scotland. People seem jaded and fairly indifferent. When I ask about Brexit, most don’t express any opinion or usually just say: “let’s just get it over with.” And most people are not dissatisfied with the current economic situation. (This latter point is very important imho.)

    I really don’t see the SNP repeating its 2015 landslide results. I interpreted that result not so much as a vote for the SNP and possible future independence options but as a reaction to the horrible anti-indepdence advertising campaign run mostly from London in 2014. Even Remain voters were turned off the rhetoric employed against independence.*

    The constituency in which I currently reside has a huge non-Tory electorate but the SNP (Scottish Nationalist Party) and the UK Labour party split the vote, allowing a Tory to squeek into office on the narrowest of margins. I suspect this will happen again.

    The only “wrinkles” I came across where a few older academics from Edinburgh University who I are ardent British nationalists and expressed a desire to remain in the EU. But, then again, quite a bit of cross EU funding goes to universities throughout Europe, as do personnel and scientific research ideas.

    I met a few mild Brexiters who just think that Britain will do better on its own because they think Britain had been doing better before joining the EU. There was a mixture of sentiments expressed that Britain’s innovative spirit would be unleashed, and also that they could better alter the neo-liberal project. So they’re voting for the Tories. They think the economic pain will be short and sharp and then things will get better. Fair enough.

    There were only a couple (and just a couple) who were vervent Brixiteers. Everything was viewed through that lens. Election day would vindicate their stance. Prime Minister Johnson, strong and stalwart, would deliver the UK from the EU. Britain’s future would shine once again, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

    Prediction: Tory majority, if only because people want to move on and Prime Minister Johnson will, indeed, move events forward.

    I hope I’m wrong for working people’s economic sake – but then I really don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel for most working people across this globe right now. The Tories are just like every other neo-liberal party. Nothing more nor nothing less.

    * That is not to say that the SNP isn’t popular and the biggest vote getter in Scotland. It has been for some time now. But it’s electorate can be pretty variable at times, especially if it’s leadership can be smeared pre-vote.

  9. David

    In 24 hours I suspect this will all seem a bit beside the point, but for what it’s worth I am one of those who’s hoping for a slender to negative Tory majority. The reason is that a genuine Labour victory, with a useful majority, simply isn’t on the cards at this stage. So the choice is between a weak Labour government which will be destroyed by the contradictions of Brexit and the very limited amount of time left, or a weak Tory government which will be destroyed etc. etc. I’d strongly prefer the second possibility, which could, with luck, lead to a solid Labour majority in time. The FTPA, admittedly, is a major complication, but not an insuperable one.

    1. CBBB

      5 more years of Tory rule. In 5 years Brexit will be done, the worst will be over, the waters will be calming and then the Tories can go on to win again as everything continues to decay.

    2. vlade

      I’m afraid that Tories are teflon, so not sure that a Tory govt would really suffer that much. Even after Thatcher it took Blair a move to the center to get a Labour government.

      TBH, for radical Labour it could be better if Labour splintered, so that they would look like new, radican and unencumbered by the past party to some voters. We have seen with BP and UKIP that a new party can get up there IF it has a strong message and IF the incumbent is weak. Tories had to move and occupy BP’s populistic space to recover the voters. I’m not sure splintered Labour Blairites woud be willing to do that.

      So from that perspective, large Tory majority that would let them wreck the country and split the Labour into Blairite and radical parts could be better. But, as always be careful what you wish for.

      1. David

        Don’t disagree about the Teflon point, but I think (and hope) that the Tories will self-destruct over Europe, for two main reasons. First, there are huge differences within the party over the future relationship, and it was these, rather than the technicalities of the withdrawal agreement, which caused all the splits earlier this year. I doubt if there’s a majority in the party, or even the Cabinet, for any particular form of association with the EU, still less an understanding of how weak the UK’s position will be. Second, the bunch of idiots who would form a Johnson cabinet, not least Himself, are essentially incompetent. Whatever is required, they won’t be able to do it. Johnson is simply not Prime Ministerial material: it’s like asking someone who plays the piano in the pub to conduct a Mahler symphony.

  10. Hayek's Heelbiter

    Off topic, but it was great to meet so many members of the Commentariat at the recent NC Meet-Up at London Bridge and to now hear their voices in my head reading their remarks.

    Thanks, guys!

    1. ChrisPacific

      He might have done it himself. For all the (many and well-deserved) criticisms you can make of him, he does turn a phrase well.

  11. John D.

    From my vantage point in Toronto, it’s been very sad watching this slow-motion car crash unfolding in real time. At the bare minimum, I hope the Tories ‘only’ manage to grab a minority government, but the thought that a creature like Boris Johnson, so obviously unfit to be anywhere near a position of responsibility of any kind – let alone actual power – is so close to being elected as Prime Minister…it’s just mind-boggling. He’s a con artist, and a particularly slimy example of the type, lazy and sloppy and not overly-intelligent. And utterly self-serving. He’s not even trying to hide that. It’s as if the late, unlamented Rob Ford had run for that office in Canada…and won.

  12. Clive

    Exit poll results in, pointing to an eighty-plus Conservative majority.

    That’s probably overdoing it a little, might drop to fifty or so as a result of model artefacts in some marginals and where tactical voting skews the outcomes in others.

    No-one who seriously understands U.K. politics should be surprised.

    This was always going to be all about Brexit. Remain had three and a half years to advance better arguments than the ones they offered in the referendum. They not only failed to do so, they didn’t even see why they needed to try. The pivotal issues were not only not addressed, they were seen as symptoms of some kind of cognitive impairment. And they belittled and insulted the Leave-minded voters they needed to convince to change their minds. I expanded long form above how there was also a neo-class war waged by a contingent of the Remain elite on the Leave-voting lower ranks of society.

    If people can’t grasp the dynamics at work in Brexit and the vectors they’ve unleashed, I can’t do any more to help them.

    It’s not as if an entire nation was suddenly beguiled by an oafish nitwit like Johnson is and swooned helplessly caught in his thrall. It was simply that he offered a semi-credible Leave policy. Millions of noses were duly held.

    1. Bert Schlitz

      Belittled?? Please, nobody cares and the UK has no future. It’s a overindebted shit hole like all the other kingdoms. The move to capitalism after the black death has some long term ramifications.

      1. Clive

        I take it I can’t interest you in the Diana, Princess of Wales tea service I’m trying to offload, then?

        1. Bert Schlitz

          My grandfather was a German engineer during the war in his 20’s. Maybe I can sell you a positive Christianity picture that changes shape when moved to Hitler strangling Jesus.

    2. vlade

      The problem IMO isn’t so much about remain, as that Labour failed to understand it’s about Brexit. As I wrote above, Labour, by trying to work both sides, is pretty guilty here. If Labour was conclusively, absolutely on one side of the fence, they would either suck up LD voters, or Tory voters. I did say before that they had a choice of playing for softish Brexit, which, if they really wanted to heal the country would be the right thing to do. Instead, they choose to ignore the largest political issue since the war, and now it seems they paid the price. I despair.

      1. vlade

        McDonnell (shadow Labour chancellor):
        “He does not accept that the main problem was Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. His ratings were starting to rise, McDonnell says. He says the main problem was Brexit.”

        Duh. How about the lack of leadership on Brexit?

        1. ChrisPacific

          That comment would seem to encapsulate Labour’s problems quite nicely. Leadership is not like a la carte dining at a restaurant, where if you find the Brexit dish hard and unappetizing you can send it back to the kitchen and order something else. Leaders need to lead, even if they find themselves in a tough spot and facing a range of unappealing choices that all have drawbacks. Especially then, in fact.

      2. Bert Schlitz

        Problem with that is what was mentioned above. Letting the Torys topple under debt deflation is a far better choice. US subprime and corporate debt levels are showing signs of meltdowns in the US. You know it’s bad over there.

      3. Clive

        I do agree, it was Labour wot blew it big-time.

        If, and this is such a stupid “if” to state, because it was virtually impossible for it to have been done by Labour but… if Labour had offered a credible softish Brexit (but it couldn’t have been very much softer than May’s deal, which was still pretty firm, but it was I think the minimum hardness of Brexit that would have been digestible to voters) then they could have done better. Perhaps well enough.

        But with the Remain Blairites infesting the Parliamentary Labour Party, there was never going to be that credibility.

        Full disclosure. I voted Labour. But only a) because as a member, I’m supposed to lest I get expelled, it’s a condition of membership to support the party and rules is rules and b) in my constituency the Conservatives are a shoo-in so it didn’t matter what I did anyway. I’ll be back, of course, at the Constituency Labour Party local meetings next year, I guess I’ll have to see what, if anything, can be unpicked from the hideous mess the so-called party is in and if anything is salvageable. I fear that the Blairites will use any defeat as an excuse to try to ditch anything remotely looking like socialism, oblivious to any responsibility that it is they who have led the party to wander so far from its class roots.

        1. vlade

          Your point on Blairites making a resurgence and killing a lot of ideas in Labour (that I often like and would support) is what I was worried about in 2017, when Corbyn “won” (if you listen to Labour). That’s why I’m (and was, as you know, for a long time) so angry – Labour under Corbyn played va banque with the country and the party, and lost. Because he didn’t understand that the game played wasn’t what he thought it was.

        2. vlade

          But, let’s look on positive side. Look like LD’s Swinson’s done Clegg (lost its seat). What would be REAL fun is if Johnson lost his seat though..

        3. vlade

          And the last one. Labour could have, right at the start, start asking questions on “what Brexit do you want?”, and running citizen’s juries on it. That could have bought it a lot of goodwill. But that would have to be a strategy in 2016, when Corbyn’s strategy was instead “invoke A50 ASAP, and “get Brexit done”. Or rather “get Brexit out of the way, I don’t care about it”. Talk about ignoring the elephant in the room..

          As ChrisPacific says above, leadership isn’t dealing with the things you want to deal with, it’s dealing with the things you don’t want to deal with.

        4. FKorning

          “I voted Labour. But only a) because as a member, I’m supposed to lest I get expelled, it’s a condition of membership to support the party”

          Secret ballot is law, so that’s a funny declaration. I had high hopes for tactical voting, and I contributed some code to the project. Didn’t make a dent. Or rather, it did, but for the tories. If you look at the arithmetic, the “rust-belt” labour-leavrs for whom conservatives were anathema voted brexit party, which swung and tipped the tories well past the post.

          Another factoid, those impoverished northern working class regions prove to be more resilient to social-media communications and remain highly succeptible to the tabloid press. Print is still relevant, but only as a propaganda weapon.

          1. Clive

            I’m a party member and intend to remain so perhaps I’m a sucker for lost causes. For me, call me old fashioned, rules are there to be honoured. Even if no-one is looking.

            As for the media swaying northern working class regions, I’m guessing someone’s never been to East Yorkshire. Let’s just say that no-one, as a rule, tells us what to do or what to think.

            And if you want rust belt, pay a visit to where my mother grew up and lived until she left for college — the South Wales valleys. Believe me, if you’ve been brought up in a house with a dirt floor, no electricity until she was seven, water drawn from a single hand pump in the scullery and if you wanted food, you went out into the yard and slit a chicken’s throat then plucked it while it was still warm, perhaps twitching a little, you’re not, ah-hem, easily swayed by some smart arse in the paper. She was born in 1952, so we’re not talking some ridiculously long time ago. And decedents of her generation, like me, are definitely still around and know their truths. It was Labour — Old Labour, that is — who, like Charlie did for his Angels — took them away from all that. They haven’t abandoned Labour, the Blairites in Labour abandoned them.

            The people I know from these parts (possibly me, too) would tell you where you can stick your insinuations that the working poor are just a load of gullible ignoramuses who believe everything they see in the news. Spotting the con artist was a survival skill. So don’t presume that they can’t see right through Johnson. Unconvincing though he is, he’s possibly not, in the view of those “impoverished northern working class regions” worse than the liberal elite sipping at their £3.50 flat whites in the switched-on clued-up metropolitan areas telling them that being in the EU is always and automatically good for them and they are being given the benefit of this advice (again, despite having already made it clear what they think of it the last two times they were asked) so they can have get yet another go at voting the right way.

            1. FKorning

              So you’re confirming Brexit was the wedge that cleaved through labour. Anyone naively sticking to vote labour on traditional union values was misguided and completely missed the charging blue elephant bull.

    3. c_heale

      The majority of newspapers and the BBC have been advocates for Leave. And there remains the problem that in worsening economic conditions, caused in large part by austerity and neo-liberal capitalism, when people have to vote, they will vote for a change and they did. All the newspapers, and the BBC have spent a lot of time demonising Labour. Unfortunately Brexit being a project based on neo-liberalism, will only make life worse for the majority of people.

      1. Clive

        Blaming the media won’t work. The Guardian, the FT, the Mirror and the Evening Standard were all wholeheartedly Remain. The Express, Mail and Sun were Leave. The Times was a very soft Brexit at best. And it is incredulity-inducing that the mainstream terrestrial TV media was anything other than pro-Remain, it barely at times made any effort to disguise it. Sky was the most blatant since Comcast bought out Murdoch, the BBC was half-hearted in its neutrality. Channel 4 didn’t even try, it was out and out biased for Remain.

        And Remain had three and a half years to make a compelling set of arguments.

        Oh, and Soros was quite happy to go head-to-head with Murdoch in a bout of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Oligarchs Special Edition, bankrolling People’s Vote. An entire campaign movement. Too bad he didn’t spend his money more wisely, you’d have thought he could have opened his cheque book and tempted some of the Hate Mail’s (or the Express’s) best-worst writers, they’re probably not exactly types known for their loyalty, but no, People’s Vote could only churn out the most inept messaging I’ve seen since Hillary Clinton’s Twitter feed.

        In Parliament, the Speaker was an unapologetic Remain’er and didn’t make any effort at concealing and even less effort in hiding his helping of Remain MPs to block any Leave legislation.

        I’m really not sure what it will take to get it to sink in. I’m trying, really I am, not to be harsh. But Remain had lousy arguments, as far as convincing the public was concerned, made badly by, in some cases, people who set the cause of Remain back every time they opened their mouths.

        1. turtle

          Clive, do you have any suggestions for what may have been more compelling arguments for remainers to have made against Brexit?

          1. Clive

            Remain needed to put forward a policy response of aggressive non-cooperation with the Commission unless it moved to seriously addressing the EU’s democratic deficit and lack of transparency — and, as the Telegraph (of all people) had it today in a column, erode the notion of the EU as a bastion of the corporate state. Remain should have demanded the following were adopted immediately and advised the U.K. would not participate in the Council and would veto any new draft Directives and any new treaty discussions until:

            + That all Council meetings should be minuted

            + The CJEU should be reformed so that it only applies EU law as the law is drafted, it cannot be swayed, as is currently the case, by arguments that its judgements should serve to strengthen EU integration

            + The CJEU’s jurisdictional oversight will extend to the Council

            + The Commission would no longer be allowed to examine and approve Member State budgets and would have no ability to enforce the fiscal compact (no limits on Member State deficit spending, in other words).

            + Commissioners, including the President, should be appointed by votes in the Parliament by the MEPs and must only be drawn from the members of the European Parliament

            + The Commission shall have borrowing powers for sovereign debt issued by the ECB, subject to European Parliament and Council approval

            + All lobbyists in the Commission must be registered along with their interests and the fees paid

            + All MEPs expenses should be receipted and individually approved. Then published in full.

            Remain and Reform, other words, but with teeth and showing some backbone. The U.K. (or Remain, as a policy position) needed to tell the EU it was time to cut the crap and start behaving like a proper, grown-up supranational entity, else the U.K. would remain a Member State but the EU would wish it wasn’t.

            Sure, there’d have been howls of protest from the EU and some other Member States, threats, demonisation and talk of trying to get the U.K. thrown out for being “anti-Europe” or some such nonsense. Tough titties, say I. France and Germany can get away with throwing their weight around, so, then, can the U.K.

            After all, the U.K. has a “say”, doesn’t it? Well, let’s find out if we do or we don’t. If the U.K. genuinely did have some control over the EU then why not use it for good purposes? If the Commission responded with its usual backsliding and saying it’s all too hard and okay, we can maybe look at some stuff, but it’ll take a long while to have a proper study of it all etc. etc. etc. then fine, take all the time you want but two can play that game and the longer you take putting in place the UK’s mandated reforms, the longer the U.K. will sit on its hands blocking anything the EU might want to do of any significance.

            The above shopping list (plus maybe a few other things) is a Leave top EU gripes catalogue so taking serious no-bull steps to address it would demonstrate that Remain “gets it”; things cannot go on as they are.

            Now, I ask you: can Remain, as it has conducted itself, really in anything other than a laugh-out-loud way, try to tell me that the likes of Sir Kier Starmer or Philip Hammond would ever have had the cojones to promise anything remotely resembling that — and mean it? I, for one, think not.

            1. disillusionized

              Which council?
              citation please.
              again, which council?
              This is tantamount to getting rid of the Euro.
              No thanks – Apart from shifting power away from the memberstates – It is also not a part of the rest of the EU’s political culture, There is no requirement and in many cases little expectation that all members of a government have seats in the legislature.
              ” is a Leave top EU gripes catalogue”
              Almost all of those suggestions are firmly on the integrationist side of the argument – most leavers would hate them.

              1. Monty

                I expect he is talking about the Skegness town council. What other council could he be talking about in this context?

                  1. Clive

                    Moderation is performed by the site’s able moderators. If they think a comment is unworthy or inappropriate (and I get mod’ed now and again, everyone needs the occasional wrist slap) I’m happy to accept their judgement.

                    Not yours.

                  1. Clive


                    The Council of the European Union, referred to in the treaties and other official documents simply as the Council […]

                    You only knew to ask that question because I’d just supplied you with the necessary information to pose it. If you’d genuinely known the details of this subject originally, you’d have known too the usesge of the customary shorthand’ing of that body.

                    Don’t try to get one over on me with crack-handed parlour games. I can guarantee you that even on your smartest day, you’re not as smart as I am on my dumbest day.

    4. Lee

      And they belittled and insulted the Leave-minded voters they needed to convince to change their minds. I expanded long form above how there was also a neo-class war waged by a contingent of the Remain elite on the Leave-voting lower ranks of society.

      Sounds like our Democrat establishment attitude toward Trump voters here in the USA. Whom do you want to punch in the nose more: the crude schoolyard bully or the arrogant out of touch twit. Such are our choices these days.

      1. Bert Schlitz

        Eh, Trump voters are Republican voters. I am not impressed. Labour winning by losing. Debt deflation will destroy them tories

  13. Fïréan

    How to ” fix” an election is well within the Tory abilities ( starts with postal votes fraud). And with the extreme right and morally corrupt party of Johnson and his cronies, more right then Thatcher, I do not doubt that they would do anything to “win” this election.
    God help the British People.

    1. vlade

      Unfortunately, I doubt Tories had to do much to fix this election – and 10% majority is not trivial to fix, especially if the turnout is going to be as high as it looked from various polling places.

  14. vlade

    If the polls are right, Labour is an absolute toast, and Corbyn will be gone by the weekend. Coz he’s you know, great campaigner and a vote winner. I would despair, because he’d manage to destroy the country (opposition? what opposition?) and the party (no-one will dare to touch his ideas for a few election cycles, so it’d be back to Blairites).

    I do hope they are wrong, as we had exit polls that were wrong before (by quite a bit).

    SNP would be up 20 seats, meaning independent Scotland is here shortly with Johnson in power. No idea how NI voted.

      1. paul

        I wish it was that easy, Johnson will be under no pressure to grant a referendum.
        Cameron did (with support at 30%) and came very close to regretting it.
        So a court case will be required at least.

        Still, the tories had one, and only one policy here, no to indyref2, and that was rejected pretty firmly.

        Onwards and upwards.

      2. Redlife2017

        Yes, this has been pretty awful. I’ve been defensive of Corbyn, but this election has really made me throw hands up.

        I didn’t say much during the election as I’ve been working in a key marginal (which we got stomped in) and didn’t feel comfortable with discussing the organisational chaos I saw as well. It was bloody like nobody wanted to win.

        And we can put a stake through the heart of Momentum. They were basically an extension of Labour HQ and their strategy didn’t work. They threw tons of people at it but had no on the ground leadership.

        Basically what I have just witnessed from the inside is that organisational effectiveness is dependent on having more than generals and footsoldiers. You need people on the ground directing stuff. It was so bad that at one point I went on strike for a day not willing to help out. We could have won several marginals if they hadn’t been run so shockingly bad.

        And as another bit of context, Tony Blair had something like 30 people in the London Regional HQ. There are only like 11 now (or less). Do the math on that with how stretched they would be (people practically had mental breakdowns) in London and it was like that across the UK. Nobody in charge. Because the bottlenecks were so gigantic that nothing could get through – including information on the seats we just lost (yes, I know of at least one for sure that begged for more campaigning for weeks – I bet there were more).

        And lastly in a very Hillary Clinton twist – too many Constituencies were dependent on the Labour algorithms. Seriously.

        Put that together with the Leave vote feeling betrayed and yeah, that all equals sh*tshow.

        Where the next leader needs to start with is the bloody organisation and have clean crisp policy tagines. Corbyn needs to go ASAP.

  15. makedoanmend

    Wow, the BBC exit poll gives the Tories a large majority. Corbyn will be gone tomorrow along with any chance that the neo-liberal economic project and austerity will be reversed. The UK working poor, the handicapped, and the ill will face continuing and probably deepening hardship. Many can expect to die earlier. The food bank (soup kitchen) industry can expect continued and sustained growth. The wealthy can expect to get wealthier.

    The SNP (Scottish Nationalist Party) also seems to have done rather well, but I think it’s best to wait for hard numbers to be published before they count their chickens. If their numbers increase significantly, it might indicate that the SNP might be set to confront a Brexit Tory government over Brexit – might being the key word.

    However, electing an increased number of SNP London based MPs doesn’t necessarily mean that the majority of Scottish people reject Brexit. For many people, specific issues about Brexit are not that important. When speaking to locals about Brexit, they felt the most important issue was simply a resolution to the never-ending story and apparent chaos. They wanted an end to the threatrics in the UK parliament.

    Very few people express an interest in the mechanics or technical ramifications of Brexit in the locality in which I reside in Scotland. Any Post Hoc analysis and assigned cause and effect has become largely irrelevant. The election was not a simple leave versus remain referendum. Rather many voters wanted clarity and a specific direction – any direction. They voted for it.

    Prime Minister Johnson easily made them many, many promises. It waits to be seen whether he can deliver on his promises. However, if he can move the technical negotiations that will now occur with regard to Brexit off the front pages of the media, he will gain some breathing space.

    It will also be interesting to see if the people have gambled away their NHS to advance a desire for some near term stability.

    Whatever the long term ramifications, the people have decisively made their democratic voices heard. And that is to be respected.

  16. timbers

    I know a lot of UK posters here. I’ve very sorry for the initial indications of election results in large part because you may soon know what it’s like to have American healthcare, and I may no longer be able to point to your nation as an example of how we can make healthcare better here in the States.

  17. rtah100

    So far a lot of the results in Labour strongholds are showing minimal swing to Tories and large swings to Brexit.

    If Corbyn had backed Leave, he could have fought the election on the issues he cares about (public services and equity), where Tories have no credibility….

    I suspect the exit poll may prove unusually wrong, conflating swings from Labour to Brexit party in leave seats with swings from Labour to Tory in Tory seats. Tories will pile up votes I safe seats which cannot bear Corbyn but only claim Labour seats where voters cannot countenance Tories and vote for Brexit party. Labour could hang on to its wall if its leave voters in marginal seats are canny and hold their noses and vote for Corbyn.

  18. curious euro

    The fat lady has sung. Boris gave an acceptance speech and projections are for 357 tory seats.

    Now the Brits made their bed, will see how they like to lie in it in 12 months.

  19. anon in so cal

    Journalist Michael Tracey has tweeted about some of the disappointing results, such as “The legendary Dennis Skinner voted out. MP for Bolsover since 1970, campaigned for Leave, always stridently anti-war, personification of old-school Labour. My personal favorite MP. Tragic”

    “Don Valley constituency, Labour since 1922, votes Conservative. Brexit result: 69% Leave
    Great Grimsby constituency, Labour since 1945, votes Conservative. Brexit result: 72% Leave
    Remain hardliners have doomed the party, possibly for generations”

    1. Bert Schlitz

      Hehehe, then comes debt deflation. Be careful you may get it, he careful you may regret it…….

  20. The Rev Kev

    Yesterday the UK stood at the edge of a great precipice. Today the UK has taken a gigantic step forward.
    They have literally given Boris Johnson a blank cheque to do his worst. And he is just the man to cash that cheque.

    1. Titus

      Nice bit of framing drama wise, but I don’t think so. All Boris cares about is power to keep it he will do as he is advised, by those that got him elected. He has promises to fulfill and Cummings understands MMT, I know because we have talked about several times.

  21. vlade

    I’d like to congratulate Clive, as I believe he called this result (50ish majority for Tories) back when the election was called.

    1. Clive

      I think I said forty, but I got the general outline right.

      I was convinced that Leave would win the referendum (and Trump would win, too) but doubted my instincts too much and kept my mouth shut. But this time I thought I’d stick my neck out. My only skill is in living here (which is luck, not sure if it’s good or bad) keeping my eyes and ears open (which is simple observation) and trying to be completely dispassionate about the issues (which is the hard bit, your own opinions all-too-easily drag you into being opinionated rather than analytical).

      1. Redlife2017

        Yes, well done. My comment above notes the organisational chaos that adds to the swing you could see.

        It was lovely to meet you at the meet up – we should commiserate some time when you are in London.

  22. skippy

    The thing that I find hilarious is the U.K. just bent over more than it did to facilitate the North Atlantic treaty and only to save the City and some VoM.

    Now their going to have to take what ever scraps that trump offers to keep the upper crust in finery and immigrants will take a hike and then no pom will fill the void, because the one thing investors hate more than anything is paying the people that do the work a living wage.

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