The Outrage!

Falling Star Brexit
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It would appear that my ‘admiration’ for Labour’s cunningly devised Brexit stance was slightly misplaced in its attribution of credit. According to Ruth Davidson today in the Telegraph, the plan was nothing to do with any Labour MPs at all, but the brainchild of a coalition of leaders from the five biggest Labour supporting Unions (Unite, Unison, the GMB, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) and USDAW, the Union of Shop Distributive and Allied Workers).

These brave minds, who clearly know a lot more than the Labour Party itself on how it should run it’s own affairs (amazing where £6.5 million of union members’ money will get you), apparently closed themselves in a room on Monday, formulated the plan and ordered Jeremy Corbyn off to the shadow cabinet for rubber stamping on Tuesday.

As Ruth Davidson points out, this complete negation of democracy appears to have at least initially gone unreported, or at least kept quiet long enough that no-one cared enough when it did break. And, yet, had this been the Tories, all hell would have broken loose.

I completely fail to understand just how something so opaque and, while corrupt is possibly too strong a word, it can’t be that far from the mark, can happen. I can only think that Labour MPs are so against any idea of free speech or liberty, and/or so in fear of the leadership, that they accept this fait accompli against all they, in their various factions, have fought for over the past few years.

If I were more left-wing in my outlook, I’d say it was outrageous, but I’m not so I merely shrug and move on.

Fudge no more?

Yorkshire Fudge Cream Toffee
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And so the glorious fudging of Labour’s stance on Brexit appears to be coming to an end with Jeremy Corbyn’s letter to Labour Party members saying that, in essence they will oppose any deal that the Conservatives generate, but if they win an election, they will ‘renegotiate’ a new deal. Quite what they think they can renegotiate that Boris the next Conservative leader can’t that actually looks like properly leaving, I don’t know.

Mr Corbyn goes on to say that ‘whoever becomes the new Prime Minister should have the confidence to put their deal, or No Deal, back to the people in a public vote. In those circumstances, I want to make it clear that Labour would campaign for Remain against either No Deal or a Tory deal’.

He tries to placate leavers saying that ‘a customs union [and] a strong single market… is a sensible alternative’. Last time I looked, that was just being part of the EU, without any of the benefits of being a member, and I think most people know that. Presumably, they are banking on people to reject it in a second referendum, which by that point will be so ridiculously one sided as to not even be worth worrying about, the options being, 1) Remain and 2) Remain in a really daft way.

What’s more interesting is that the Labour leadership do, finally, seem to be bowing to pressure to go all-out remain (albeit in a clever way); the threat of the Lib Dems just becoming too much for them. While they fudge it (there had to be a bit!) by saying that they haven’t decided on their stance for any possible election, the wording is strong enough that it would be fairly hard to renege on this stance if there is, as is becoming more and more likely, a fairly sharpish snap election once Boris the new PM is in number 10.

I suspect Boris Johnson’s more hard-line stance will also be another factor in this, as well as the diminishing opportunities for Grieve and co. to try to stop a no-deal Brexit with today’s amendment not being selected again.

Too late to change?

Time For A Change New Ways Letters
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Interesting to see Tom Watson argue today for Labour to come out in full as the anti-Brexit party. My suspicions are that is is driven more by a fear of the ‘resurgent’ Lib Dems and recently quiet, but still potent Brexit party, rather than really trying to shore up the inconsistent stance Labour has taken on Brexit (although that does deal with that too). The combined Lib Dem/Brexit Party threat must be perceived as more potent than the fact that they might stand to lose a lot of voters of a leave variety.

On this weekend’s Coffee House Shots Podcast (and in the Spectator), Katy Balls was musing about a potential early general election, possibly in the autumn. Given that short time scale, it would make sense that Labour want to shore up their stance in the anti-Brexit direction to regain those they think they’ve lost in recent weeks to the parties that have a definite stance.

To me, Jeremy Corbyn’s somewhat indistinct stance on Brexit makes perfect sense. Brexit is not a strict political decision, you can vote left or right and leave or remain, depending on what is important to you. It looks like someone has got wind of something in the offing and decided that something has to be done sooner rather than later about the voters they had obviously lost to both the Lib Dems and Brexit Party, although to me it seems a little late for them to join to the ‘Bollocks to Brexit’ movement.

If there is an autumn election, the feelings that drove people to move away from Labour (and the Conservatives for that matter) to one of the smaller, but definite stance, parties will still be fresh in people’s memories and I rather think that they may well be tempted to keep voting that way, no matter Tom Watson wants.

Four days

Fear Shadow Disorder Scare Threat
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I’ve been thinking more about the four-day working week I mentioned yesterday, and the more I think about it, the more I think it’s potentially irresponsible to even suggest the notion.

We live in a fast-moving age where there is a lot of stress, and stress is not good for us humans. Not only does it affect the way we form memories, shutting down our hippocampus and forcing memories to be stored as implicit memories, it can have a devastating impact on our brain in general.

It’s one of the reasons I think Universal Basic Income is a good idea, (and is one of the few things I agree with Jeremy Corbyn on) as stress over money is at the core of a lot of domestic abuse, homelessness and suicide. Getting people out of poverty or stress caused by financial issues should, in my view, be one of the key drivers of and government. I firmly believe that any ways we can reduce financial stress and alleviate poverty have to be explored fully (although how to fund it is always problematic, and would have to rely on a bit of a leap of faith that the money will be re-invested back into the economy).

I can’t imagine for one moment that many companies would allow people to drop to a four day week without the accompanying drop in salary, or putting in the extra hours to maintain their salary. I suspect also that lower paid jobs may be open to abuse and forced to reduce their hours (if it were to come to that), while the higher earners would either choose to remain on their full day rate over five days, or find ways to circumvent the system to keep their full pay over four days.

I can only imagine that, should it happen, stress levels of those earning under £30k a year would increase massively, and make things like saving for a house even harder. This would have a knock on effect on the bank of Mum and Dad, and make family relationships more strained.

So, for a would-be Government to propose effectively cutting people’s salaries at a time when the cost of living seems to be going through the roof is somewhat reckless. It might play well in an election, but I have a feeling it won’t play well in reality.

Funnily enough, I haven’t even mentioned the one reason I was going write about – the good old extended order! There’s probably a lot of reasons we settled a five day working week; it’s a system that’s proved itself the winner over time.