The peoples histrionics

Yet again we’re told that democracy is under threat, our conditional niceties are being ignored and we’re days away from the death of democracy and people being rounded up into gas chambers (seriously people are actually saying this). The cause this time is Mr Johnson asking the Queen to prorogue Parliament so that she can give a speech explaining what he wants to do now he’s in charge. This is in fact entirely normal, constitutional and legal. “Ah but!”, they cry, “he’s done it to suit his agenda not ours”. To which quite frankly the only response one can give is “Well, d’uh!”. “Even worse”, they go on to bemoan, “he’s suspending parliament for weeks stopping proper scrutiny”. Part of this at least is true, Parliament is being suspended for weeks, but most of those weeks were agreed to back in July. You know just before all of our politicians left for the six weeks of holiday they voted themselves. Every year about now Parliament gets suspended so all of the political parties can have their conferences, so they can tell themselves what great things they’ll accomplish. Now the dates for the conference jollies hadn’t actually been voted on , just agreed in principle so Mr Johnson was possibly being a bit presumptuous. On the other hand all the conference venues are booked, and not a soul was talking about missing them let alone cancelling them – so not really that presumptuous. None the less, this tiny bit of presumption we’re told is an affront to democracy and will surely herald in a new third Reich (which I think would make it the fourth Reich, unless I’ve forgotten one in which case it would be the fifth Reich).

As far as I can understand it people are outraged that as we approach a well known deadline, the Government has done the same thing it’s done every year but with a couple of extra days tacked on to have a speech as convention dictates. They’ve been debating Brexit for three years now and have achieved nothing, quite what they were suddenly going to achieve in those 4 weeks is unclear. If those weeks were so important, then maybe they should also have taken a shorter summer recess – maybe just 2 weeks rather than 6. They could even have cancelled their conferences and said before they went on holiday “Brexit is far too terribly important at the moment, we’ll have no conference break see you all back here in two weeks”. Rather than you know agreeing in principle that they’d all take 4 weeks off after they were back from the 6 weeks of holiday to swan about being important in front of the party faithful. They of course did no such thing, nor as far as I can tell have any of them rushed back from their holibobs to storm Westminster demanding that they resume sitting immediately. All of which rather makes me suspect that perhaps their outrage may be just a little be contrived.

This latest manufactured calamity does of course allow the usual suspects to trot out all of the tired old lines about how there’s no mandate for “no deal”, how they’ll vote to block it (they can’t) and how the referendum wasn’t binding anyway. So lets go through the sequence of events once more for those at the back that can’t seem to grasp what actually happened.

  • In the beginning Mr Cameron went to the EU and said give me some reforms to pacify my unruly electorate or I’ll call a referendum
  • The EU said not a chance mate and you wouldn’t dare
  • Mr Cameron said “Oops made a big fuss about it going to have to call a referendum”
  • Parliament sat down for many days and debated if they wanted to call a referendum or not and what it would say. Eventually they decided they had to and agreed upon a question which no one really objected to.
  • Two official campaigns were then set up, neither of which had any power to implement anything they said and both of which told terrible lies and cheated and said “This is a one off chance, we’re going to really do what you vote for no matter what” – both sides were expecting the result to be remain. The Government even published a leaflet saying – if you vote to leave it’ll be really bad and we advise that you don’t do that but if you do then we’re going to do it just see if we don’t.
  • To the surprise of all concerned the horrible unwashed masses ignored all the dire warnings and voted to leave. By a small but respectable majority and as no one had ever said the majority had to be of a certain size people rather thought that that was the question answered.
  • All sorts of people, from left and right and all over the place then said “Right best trigger that article 50 thingy right away” (This was stupid)
  • Once more Parliament sat and debated for many hours as to whether or not they should trigger article 50, as if they did they’d only have two year to sort out a deal or out on ear with no deal we’d go. Knowing that once they triggered article 50 it was two years or out with no deal our wise Parliamentarians who always carefully scrutinise everything agreed that they should in fact trigger article 50 right away.
  • Mr Cameron decided to run away and all the other Conservative MPs looked at their shoes and said “Not it”, except for Mrs May ( thus giving an early indication of her lack of judgement).
  • Parliament then started debating Brexit and talkign about red lines and what was and wasn’t acceptable and between them managed to decide that nothing at all was acceptable – every possible option was just too ghastly for one reason or another.
  • Mrs May then had a funny turn whilst hill walking (probably lack of oxygen), and decide the best thing to do was to have an election (thus further demonstrating her good judgement).
  • Almost all of the parties then put out manifestos saying “We’re the best choice to implement Brexit, vote for us and we’ll honour your vote so much better than the other lot”
  • Thus a load of MPs were elected on the promise of honouring the referendum vote, which was just as well as they’d triggered article 50 and time was running out for them to agree a deal or we’d leave with no deal – just as article 50 said.
  • At this point many MPs revealed they’d had their fingers crossed and had no intention of delivering on the referendum and would rather like to repeal the whole thing – except they knew that would be unpopular so never out right said it.
  • In due course Mrs May came back from the EU with a deal, not a very good deal but a deal none the less. She said to Parliament “Here’s a deal, best vote for it or we’re out on our ear with no deal”. Parliament decided they didn’t like it and said “try again”
  • Some time around here Parliament had a lot of debates and “indicative votes” were they all decide that they couldn’t agree on anything and would in fact vote against any possible solution to the Brexit question.
  • Mrs May came back with her deal again and said “As we can’t agree on anything, how about agreeing on this deal as the alternative is we leave with no deal” – once more our glorious leaders voted against the only available deal (and it was still a terrible deal).
  • As we couldn’t decided on anything Mrs May asked the EU for a bit more time and they said “OK, but after that if you don’t agree the deal out you go with no deal – just as the treaty says”
  • So Mrs May came back to Parliament once again and said “Seriously this is the only deal, it’s this or out we go with no deal” and once more our wise and principled leaders said “nope don’t like it, get a better deal”.
  • Around this point Mr Bercow said – this is getting silly don’t bother bringing that deal back to us ever again. Which as that was the only deal the EU were offering presented a bit of a problem – but still there was much rejoicing in Parliament over this learned decision.
  • All through this process Mr Corbyn and others were swanning around saying they’d do much better or that we should just give up on Brexit altogether. Though no one ever said how they’d do better or what to do about the large number of people who’d be a bit miffed if the politicians turned round and said “nope, all too horrible ignoring your votes despite everything we said”
  • At this point with only a few months left, the Tory party decided they should probably put Mrs May out of her misery and get a new leader.
  • Enter Mr Johnson – as new party leader her became PM. Which at this point is becoming increasingly common, and is entirely constitutional as we vote for MPs and the PM is who ever happens to lead the largest party. (For those that still have a problem understanding this : we do not vote for our PM and never have )
  • Mr Johnson at this point said – “Right chaps, as we’ve voted down the deal repeatedly and can’t agree on anything best start preparing for that ‘No deal’ thingy mentioend in article 50 which we all voted for 3 years ago.
  • At this belated point the MPs suddenly realised that their votes had consequences and even worse they had consequences that might affect them. So they started getting very upset but still couldn’t agree on what they wanted or on what deal they would accept.
  • The only obvious thing for them to do now was agree on when they should have their conference break and toddle off for a well deserved 6 week vacation. After all they weren’t going to suddenly agree on anything and maybe if they went away for a bit things would suddenly fix themselves and the “no deal” part of “agree a deal in 2 years or leave with out a deal” would magically go away.
  • And that brings us to where we are today – as they can’t agree anything all that’s left is “No deal”. You can’t vote against “no deal” as “no deal” is what you’re left with when you vote against everything else. Of course they have to look outraged and claim all manner of things otherwise they might not look important and people might say “Didn’t you know about the “no deal” thing years ago, ‘cos you went on about it often enough” and then they’d have to quickly point out the window and shout “Squirrel!” (or in this case “Coup!”) and hope people would change the subject – and that dear reader would just never do.

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2 Responses to The peoples histrionics

  1. Sue Nairn says:

    Bravo! A concise summing up.

  2. NielsR says:

    Just so. You could expand the Cameron bit a little, highlight the fundamental disjoint between direct democracy (the referendum) and representative democracy (which as you say everybody’s suddenly an expert on/hysterical for), and the time wasted establishing the *theoretical* primacy of the latter, without any idea how to reconcile with the referendum in practice.

    Pity the Scottish IndyRef or AV Referendum both returned no-change – we’d have gone through the same pain on something rather less consequential, and had a better idea whether/how to use handle such an outcome.

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