Ten new Constituencies now under offer

Ten Constituencies now under offer: prime seats for the discerning would-be statesman.  Aberconwy, Rushcliffe, Huntingdon, Putney, Beaconsfield, East Surrey, Bracknell, West Dorset, Eddisbury and Meriden. All have become available just this week, due to an unfortunate outbreak of Brexit Derangement Syndrome.

These add to our existing range, still available in South Cambridgeshire, Broxtowe and Totnes.

This is an exceptional range of parliamentary opportunities for ambitious customers.  The current holders remain in occupation until the next election but then the way is open for any actual Conservative willing to take the seat on.

This portfolio covers much sought-after locations mainly in the Midlands and eastern Berkshire but with opportunities as far afield as the Devon Riviera, rural Surrey and Dorset:  just the sort of places to take your family, apart from Putney. All enquiries to the local Conservative Associations .

And then there were seven

First round down and as expected Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt top the poll, with Gove following. Rory Stewart scraped through to much relief: he is the fence to be sat on, so he has to stay in the race.

The Plantagenet nature of the race I have analysed before. Little has changed, but now three have been eliminated.

The Byzantine rules laid down are that in the first round all those who won less than 17 votes from their colleagues are eliminated and the rest go through to the next round unless they withdraw in the interim. The results of the first round vote are:

  • Boris Johnson: 114
  • Jeremy Hunt: 43
  • Michael Gove: 37
  • Dominic Raab: 27
  • Sajid Javid: 23
  • Matthew Hancock: 20
  • Rory Stewart: 19

Eliminated candidates:

  • Andrea Leadsom: 11
  • Mark Harper: 10
  • Esther McVey: 9

Now the manoeuvring begins to woo the losers’ supporters, and here it becomes tangled. Is Boris too far ahead to be excluded from the final two? If not, it would still take a mighty effort to keep him out, and Dominic Raab, who can see the writing on the wall for his own bid, and newly freed Esther McVey are unlikely to let that happen.

Supporters of the winner expect the rewards of their loyalty in the patronage to be dispensed from the new Number One in Number 10. That means demotion for those who were too cool. Rory Stewart is still there as the hopeless candidate it is safe to support to sit on the fence, but at the next round he will be out and then there is nowhere left to hide.

If the case is hopeless, the is always malice as a refuge, saying with Somerset “I owe him little duty, and less love”. However all those thrown down who are tempted that way, take a look across the chamber at the bearded Marxist waiting to fill the government benches and every public office in the land with his people and hold your peace.

The Alliance revolution, possibly

A minor party came out of nowhere, overturned the dominant parties and swept through the election-which-should-not-have-happened.  Not the Brexit Party (though they did that too):  the Alliance Party.

In the politics of Great Britain is little with which to compare the Alliance Party.  They may be closer to the Liberal Democrats than anyone else, simply because they oppose everyone in a ‘radical centre’.  They are practically unknown to the media in ‘East Britain’ but in Ulster they have been about, making little waves, since 1970, and now they have broken into the European Parliament (if briefly, we hope).

The essence of Ulster’s politics is communal:  Protestant / Roman Catholic, and ne’er the twain shall meet in the ballot box.  The idea was originally nationalist / unionist, but as most Roman Catholics, according to the polls, support the union these days, it is harder to place.  The Alliance Party has always stood between the two camps, calling out to both sides, and polling in single figures.  However that understanding seems to be breaking down.  The European Parliamentary election came, and up pops the Alliance Party leader, Naomi Long, as a new-minted MEP.  It has broken the understanding:  until now, there have always been two unionist MEPs and one nationalist.  Now there is one of each, and Naomi.

Alliance came second in the poll (for any given definition of “second” in the peculiar preference system that operates), pushing Sinn Féin into third.  They did well a couple of weeks before too, in the local elections.  What this means has begun to worry those who rely on the easy certainties of communal politics.

Does the Alliance Party now represent a “new normal”?

Unionist exists essentially to protect the unity of the United Kingdom, and must remain dominant as long as there is a nationalist threat to it.  However, if that were to evaporate, then at present the Alliance Party are the only ones running normal politics, and this has to be to their advantage now.  The province is still socially divided but more accepting of the peaceful cohabitation of both cultures as part of one culture – that is very visible on the ground nowadays.  If as it seems the majority in both communities is for the union, then Roman Catholics continuing to vote for Sinn Féin while opposing their fundamental plank is bizarre, but as they may be repelled from voting for an explicitly Protestant party, perhaps the Alliance party represents a new way.  Yes, most of Alliance’s elected politicians are Protestant – Naomi Long is a Presbyterian, if with unusually liberal ideas – but they are not Protestantism triumphant, and they have both communities in their ranks of members and councillors.

This is not though normal politics as the secular side of the kingdom understands it as it is only one party with one set of ideas in the market:  Alliance are still one narrow vision of politics just like their sister party, the Liberal Democrats, and liberals in a traditionally conservative province should struggle.

Voters are faced with decisions breaking the predictable mould of Ulster politics:  does the Alliance Party represent a “new normal”, and if so, how can the other parties provide a response to protect their visions of society?  Even Slugger can provide no answer yet.

It suggests an intriguing possibility, as there is one other “normal” political party campaigning quietly in Ulster: the Conservatives.  They are small locally, but they might, potentially, offer another bolthole for those who no longer want to feed the communal bifurcation of politics.

This is getting ahead of ourselves.  The immediate breakthrough by the Alliance party in the locals and the Euros does not mean that they will achieve the same again at Westminster, whenever the general election happens.  The European election was only a playtime election after all, and a way for Protestant Remainers (a minority, but a substantial one) to make a point, but it hints at changing attitudes.

Murmuring the Judges – 1

Whatever our constitutional woes, we do have not American judges, and thanks be for that.  We have non-political, neutral judges, and that is an abomination to the upcoming radical establishment.

I enjoy the satires of our judges, sitting bewigged and asleep over long, dusty cases in long, dusty courts, but mainly because I know how far it is from the reality in the courtroom and from the bewigged man and women themselves, whom I have frequently met on social occasions (lest you consider that I often find myself up before them in court, which I do not – I’ve never been caught).

Britain has the best judges in the world, so the judges tell me, and it seems a miracle that we do when there are no detailed systems in place to regulate every aspect of their appointment and discipline, but study suggests that they are best just because there are no such systems.  The British constitution works because it is largely unwritten and works by understandings sufficiently flexible to deal with exigencies, and our appointment of judges works by understandings sufficient to their needs.  What is more, it minimises the infiltration of the system by activists.

The faults in America may first be blamed on the circumstances of the creation of the United States in that it was founded by lawyers, and in the full flush of confidence in the Enlightenment.  The system written by lawyers naturally gave primacy to the law as arbiter of all things, even of the very process of making law and the extent to which to may be made.  We have a more nuanced understanding, under the rule of law, but not the rule of lawyers.

Largely the judiciary in all three of the United Kingdom’s jurisdictions has escaped the political fray by not being political:  unlike the United States, British judges do not have power to strike down primary legislation they personally dislike.  Secondary legislation and wild administrative decisions are open for challenge, and there is no shortage of crowd-funded activists who set out do challenge decisions in the courts, but so far the courts have been robust:  it is not their role to make decisions entrusted to the political sphere.  They get close some times, and they can overstep the mark – which may be the subject of a second article.  For now though the line is held to keep judges non-political, without which they cannot hold the respect which necessary for the equal rule of law to prevail.

If all is as well as it could be, naturally the judges are under attack.  Neutrality is a crime in the eyes of the determined radical, the social justice warrior.  They demand control for their opinions of all the commanding heights of the state, and the judges must conform. In the light of that mandate that threats to judicial independence have come and will come and become more strident as each new step is won. The demand for diversity is not isolated and benevolent, but the first necessary step.  It is not to only threat to the stability of the current system:  these I will look at in a Part 2 article.

Green light, red faces, and Amber

At last, the contest begins.  The supporters have been gathering for weeks, some holding back to see whether to support a winner or a genuine choice.  It has been hard to keep up with those joining or pretending to join and withdraw but the list on this site has been updated, and campaign site links added.

As I predicted here (“Supporters come out, but no Kingmaker”), MPs have been dividing according to their expectations of promotion or demotion – some for Boris, to be seen to back a probable winner, some mainly on the Remain side for Hunt as the strong challenger, effectively the level-headed not-Boris candidate, and some for Gove as ‘Not-Boris but still Leave’ perhaps, but an MP backing Gove still leaves the door open for office if Boris Johnson does win, Michael Gove being a longstanding friend of his.  Others have backed Rory Stewart (who is genuinely popular in some quarters) as a way of hedging their bets.

There may be many more who would in an anonymous contest vote for Andrea Leadsom, but until she is seen as a winner and a bearer of patronage, she cannot attract those choices. On the other hand, she need not – she will be recognised as competent and valuable to whomever wins at the end of the day.

We can expect drop-outs, and soon, and only later will we learn whether they will suffer from their presumption at the hands of the new leader and his team. The immediate problem with a candidate’s dropping out then then he or she, will have to pick a patron. There is no avoiding the humiliation of the position, but it may be disguised by the oleaginous support then given to another, so best to choose the likely winner.

ConservativeHome has at last come out for Boris, as long expected.

Amber Rudd is in the papers for backing Jeremy Hunt, the latest Remain-leaner to do so, and the papers sound surprised, as if she had previously backed Boris, which she did not.

Jeremy Hunt then is doing well as the main ‘Not-Boris’ candidate, but is hampered by his past habits, namely voting Remain, and by having Remain supporters following him.  Michael Gove, who under normal circumstances would be ahead, now looks foolish, his campaign stuttering, trailing clouds of white dust behind it.  Raab remains unknown, for now, amongst ordinary voters, and there seems little danger to those who say they will support him, unless he attacks Boris Johnson too fiercely which might expose them to the flak should the latter win.

All this is to the advantage of Rory Stewart’s backers – he might not get anywhere near winning, but he has not been causing ructions and so he is or now a safe fence to sit on. The real contest however is not now – it is when the field is reduced to choose the final two.  Then the terminally worried must get off the fence and stand to choose a patron or be punished by the new regime for choosing unwisely. 1e0