Friday, September 09, 2016

Will there be room on the Right for "UKIP Mark 2" ?

Corbyn has taken over the Labour Party as defined by its (substantially new) member base. Momentum has been part of the Deus ex machina  which has allowed this to happen. But "his" Members of Parliament do not support him (a few excepted) and nor do any but a minority of previous Labour voters. There is no credible scenario which could ever see Corbyn in 10 Downing Street. 

Meanwhile in the Conservative Party the Right has won. The EU Referendum and Brexit were never ends in themselves but means to the end of getting rid of Cameron/Osborne and launching a right wing "neo-liberal" agenda. The original plan was for Boris Johnson to be the Prime Minister. Read the Conservative Home website or The Spectator over the past few years if you doubt this. When Johnson stumbled the wholly unsuited Andrea  Leadsom was briefly drafted in. Johnson or Leadsom would have been puppets of the Right who would have called all the tunes. But Leadsom was clearly inadequate and so, in the end, the Right had to accept Theresa May. She is not "one of us" (in Thatcher's phrase) but she is not really one of anybody. No ideologue of Left or Right she. A pragmatist through and through.

The coming months will show whether the Right can tighten their grip on May. The Grammar School irrelevance is a sign they are succeeding. This is pure UKIP. A nostalgia for a past which pre-dates Thatcher. But it's Brexit which is the key. May has already tried to show that she is not for turning on the issue. (Her own support for "Remain" was lukewarm and self-interested - she clearly expected Cameron to win). However it is already clear that Brexit would be disastrous for Britain. The complexity and costs of withdrawal are mind-blowing and the distraction to normal governance extraordinary. The Right knows this and doesn't care. Their plans for Britain demand that the regulations and checks and balances provided by EU membership be removed. May will have either (1) Have to go along with this or (2) Fight to find a solution for Britain which keeps the status quo, whilst honouring the referendum result. Not easy!

If May, the ultimate pragmatist, does (1) then UKIP is dead in the water. She will have stolen all their clothes and the only room to the Conservatives' Right will be for some posturing. Arron Banks may seek to do this but he won't get anywhere. However if May chooses (2) then the cry will be "betrayal" and Banks/Farage (and Gove, Carswell, Hannan and Co.) will 
counter attack. It won't be pretty! 


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