David Garcia on Sun, 18 Aug 2019 00:54:29 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> It goes beyond the Meat Loaf Problem

My friend Racheal Baker just posted the question on FB: "why is a no deal Brexit is less detrimental than a temporary Corbyn-led gov. What exactly is it that centrists are scared of? It’s not the fear of the democratic socialism of Labour’s policy positions (akin to Scandinavia or Spain). It appears to be the figure of Corbyn himself…"

For thoes living outside of the UK this question springs from the fact that Corbyn has recently offered to call a vote of no-confidence and put himself forward for a short term Prime Minister for the sole purpose of requesting a further extension to article 50 from the EU followed by a Genera Election. In this offer Labour has committed to campaign for new referendum with Remain on the ballot. 

Rachel not unreasonably is curious why all these MPs who claim that their overiding duty is to prevent no deal should not take this opportunity when all of the other pariamentary devices being planned are so much more convoluted and uncertain? 

There is as Rachel suggested a strong personal animosity at play. Aggravated by an unrelentingly hostile press. The dilema has in some quarters been dubbed the Meat Loaf problem “Ill do anything to avoid no deal. But I won’t do that”!

But beyond personalities and ideologies is another important factor is constitutional. The UK first-past the post.. zero sum.. winner takes all party political system means that our politicians have very little experience of (and a mental block) with regard to any bi-partizan cooperation. 

All the other parties know that once Corbyn is through the door of number 10 he will have been legitimised and all the efforts to de-legitimise him as a credible potential PM will go up in smoke. Certainly any of the (so called) Conservative rebels who went down that road would be forever tainted. 

But anyone serious from any of the parties should take the proposal seriously. It should be seen as a portal to pulling the plug on the current madness rather than an ultimate destination. Sadly I can't see it working. He will need 20 Tories to come over to him and he won't get even get 5. But as the leader of the second biggest party he is still a powerful force and must be reckoned with. Even though he is not trusted by Remainers who see him as a closet leaver his record on whipping Labour to avoid no deal should reassure sceptics. He may have been ambivalent on Brexit per se, but voting record shows he is very serious about avoiding no-deal. 

In my opinion he has every constitutional right as leader of the opposition to put in the first bid. And in my view it was both reasonable and a politically shrewd offer. Moreover the having submitted himself to the electorate in the last General Election and greatly increased the membership of the Labour membership his personal democratic mandate is greater than Johnson's. BUT he knows now that he will not be able to command the numbers in Parliament. So he will very shortly have to answer the most important question of his political life: what is your plan B for avoiding the disaster of a crash out of the EU? t

When it is established that he cannot get the numbers himself will he be prepared to whip Labour to back someone else (posibly a less divisive Labour figure) who can win the confidence of enough MPs to work across the political tribes? There is a great deal at stake for all us poor Brits. 

David Garcia
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