Friday, 2 August 2019

No victory for Remain

For those of us opposed to Brexit, replacing a pro-Brexit MP in Brecon and Radnor with an anti-Brexit one is good news of sorts, although the fact that the new MP is a member of an anti-independence and pro-nuclear weapons party means that it’s not exactly unalloyed good news from my perspective.  The impact of the electoral pact, under which Plaid and the Green Party stood aside for the Lib Dems is unclear and will remain so unless and until someone does some research on those who actually voted comparing their vote this time with their vote at the previous election.  We simply don’t know whether former Green/Plaid voters went out and cast their votes for the Lib Dems in accordance with the wishes of the leaders of those parties, voted for someone else in protest, or simply stayed at home.  I suspect that there was a mixture of all three; standing down will only have made a difference if significantly more of them voted Lib Dem than took either of the other courses of action open to them.
Of the votes cast, 43.5% went to the only unequivocal anti-Brexit candidate, whilst the three pro-Brexit parties scooped up 50.4% between them.  Even if we count Labour as anti-Brexit (a highly dubious assumption at present), the result was still 50.4: 48.8.  On a reduced turnout, it could be that Brexit supporters felt more motivated to vote, of course, and there is always a danger in drawing too many conclusions from a single by-election; but the one clear conclusion that I draw is the negative one – this result does not provide any evidence of a significant change in opinion towards Brexit since the referendum in 2016.  Had the Brexit Party not stood – or had the election been conducted under a proportional system – the pro-Brexit Tory would probably have won, despite his criminal conviction and the strong support for the recall ballot.  Anti-Brexit and anti-Johnson celebrations are more than a little premature.
The Tories and the Farageists will surely draw the obvious conclusion as well – that fighting elections against each other will potentially reduce the number of pro-Brexit MPs in the House of Commons, especially if the Remain side can cluster their support around a single candidate (something which should be much easier for them in England than in Wales or Scotland).  For the Remain side, the biggest single obstacle to reversing the referendum result continues to be the chaotic and incoherent position of the Labour Party.  The good news for Johnson (and the bad news for those of us opposed to Brexit) is that there is still no sign of the Labour Party digging itself out of the hole into which it has placed itself.


Anonymous said...

But what about all those people who were mislead into voting LEAVE at the time of the original referendum?

Surely these people weren't duped again into voting for one or other of the two main BREXIT supporting parties?

The lies just keep on getting bigger and bigger. We should demand the truth is told!

John Dixon said...

I'd put it rather differently. Certainly, many of those who voted 'leave' in 2016 did so on the basis of a series of beliefs, such as:

that it would be painless;
that we could enjoy all the same benefits without any of the obligations;
that we had lost control and could get it back.

I don't think that people have "been duped again"; I think it's more the case that nothing that has happened since has caused them to change those beliefs, and, of course, the people who spun those lies in 2016 are still spinning them now.

I'm not sure that the lies are getting bigger and bigger as you suggest, simply repeated over and over to a receptive audience.

Spirit of BME said...

An excellent analysis of the politics of the real world – as I would expect.
I have no idea what Plaid members voted, but spoke with one before the election and it was a 50/50 between not voting or Brexit.
The pact between the parties that withdrew ,could be just a massive virtue-signalling of the decade and questions are surfacing in Plaid heartland with the expectation of a pay back, if there was not a worked out agreement (I doubt it), then Little Adam Whataa-Price could be in for a very difficult and damaging ride.
One thing we must be grateful for, is that the Brexit voters are not calling for a rerun, as the majority was not big enough.