Thursday, 20 December 2018

Maybe Corbyn's right

No, not about whether he did or did not say that the Prime Minister is a stupid woman – I think that he probably didn’t.  Nor about whether she actually is stupid or not (delusional seems a better description to me).  It’s rather about whether now is or is not the time to move a vote of no confidence in the government.  Moving a meaningless vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister herself, which is unlikely to even get discussed let alone passed, and which even if it were both discussed and passed would have no impact on anything is something of a copout, of course – but is it really any more meaningless than moving a motion of no confidence which would certainly be defeated?
I can understand why the other opposition parties are so angry; it can’t be easy to sit there and observe on a daily basis the lies, duplicity, obstinacy and sheer incompetence of the governing party.  The desire to do ‘something’ must be overwhelming.  And the temptation to hope that at least one of the 117 Tory MPs who have clearly indicated their lack of confidence in their leader in a secret ballot might be willing to do the same in a public vote must be a strong one.  But, in all seriousness, would the demanded vote of confidence, with all its associated huffing, puffing and expressions of outrage, really do much more than add to the sense that the so-called (albeit badly misnamed) ‘mother of parliaments’ has chosen the lead-up to the pantomime season to degenerate into utter and impotent farce?
The one lesson that I draw from the events of recent months in respect of our ‘democracy’ is about how little power parliament actually has.  They can’t even discuss Corbyn’s cop-out motion unless the government allows them to, and they can’t vote on anything connected with Brexit unless the government first puts down a motion, and the government seem to have an awful lot of control over what they can vote on even then.  Given that, for many, Brexit was about ‘democracy’ and ‘taking back control’, there’s a certain irony in the way that it has succeeded in highlighting the flaws in the UK’s system of democracy and underlining how little control parliament has over anything. 
I’m not convinced that creating a situation where all those Tory MPs who voted to say that have no confidence whatsoever in the PM would be lining up to say that they’re backing her to the hilt is a particularly constructive way of using the time and energy of MPs.  Nor am I convinced that the consequences of success, however improbable that would be, in such a vote have been thought through.  Even if it resulted in a General Election, and even if the Labour Party were to win, swapping a blue unicorn believer for a bearded pink one doesn’t look to me like a huge gain.  Corbyn is probably right that a no confidence vote is unwinnable at present, but he’s accidentally right for another reason as well – it wouldn’t change anything.  The only thing that seems likely to bring about a change in direction would be for the Labour Party to swing behind a second referendum, and he's still resisting that.

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