Believe in the bin

It was a rubbish analogy, had Rory stopped to think about it.  It has been taken up in other forms by commentators assuring us that Boris Johnson simply cannot deliver on a promise to leave the EU by 31 October 2019, and with the same assured nodding we have been familiar with over the last three years, and which stays knowing and assured every time the nodders are shown to be completely wrong.

The Channel 4 debate was a week ago but it seems like an age way. You may remember how the audience chuckled when Rory Stewart animatedly told us that when his wife wants him to put three bin bags in the outside bin, and they will not fit, it is not enough to “Believe in the Bin”, which somehow related to leaving the European Union.

Chuckle a moment then think about the position:  there is a man known for his resourcefulness faced with an overladen bin, and his sole solution is to jam yet another bag into the same inadequate receptacle; then unable to do so, he declares there is no solution, so the bin will not be filled. Others on the panel appeared to agree: they wanted a delay in the bin collection until they have worked out how to shrink the rubbish, or to agree to take some of the rubbish back in possibly.  That limited thinking will get us nowhere.  The bin lorry is coming. Think around it.

Firstly, do not become obsessed with the dark mouth of that one bin and the one solution.  The aim is not to fill one bin in one conventional way, but to get the rubbish out of the house as quickly as possible before it begins to stink.  The one bin going into the standard collection is the easy, conventional solution, but not to only one.

Try shifting some of the rubbish already in there, and use that half-plank left behind the shed from when you were making shelves to jam it down: not so much that the rubbish will not slide out when tipped into the dustcart, but enough to make space.  Then fit another bag round it.  Try taking some things out for the recycling bin instead – you might have missed them before.  Is there still not enough room? Well, so far you have not left the narrow confines of the mouth of that conventional bin.

(You should have put the bins out before they started getting so full.)

Do the bin men accept loose bags outside the normal bin? Will they empty a second bin?   They might take a second bin if you pay them cash-in-hand, but that is your household savings and you must resist.  If you are still staring at the bin, you are still being unimaginative.

Take bags out of the bin, and leave space for when you actually need it.  Then put those bags in the back of the car and drive them round to the municipal dump.  If it is closed, Google around and find one that is open.

If desperate, you can even have a bonfire.

The point is, you need to get the priority right, and not mistake the usual solution for the actual intention.  Do not believe in the bin if the bin is inadequate but get the job done that you are called to do, and that job is not filling a bin.

You may be accused by your neighbours of opposing the bin collection, of wanting a no-collection solution, but that misses the point: the collection is not the aim.  You do want a collection; it is just that this collection does not do the job, does not rid your house of the rubbish.

Mrs May’s failing was tunnel-vision: she concentrated on the bin collection, getting her Withdrawal Agreement undefiled through the House of Commons, to the exclusion of all else.  She missed the point, and therefore missed the solution.

There were other options: she could have walked away, she could have put in place a series of unilateral arrangements assuming no-deal and left the EU to reciprocate, with negotiation on permanence to follow Exit Day; she could have asked the Commons to pass the Brady compromise and dared the EU to refuse it; she could have put the Withdrawal Agreement to the House and invited them to enact all but the backstop, or to put that to Stormont.  She could in the final throw have signed a deal on the day after Exit Day, which would therefore not have been a ‘withdrawal agreement’ as Article 50 understands it and would not have required approval from the House of Commons. All this would have worked.

All this was open to her, and all this remains open to our current crop of would-be leaders.  They just have to take their heads out of the bin and look around.

See also


Winner is coming

It’s been a long time getting here. Now the wider party, those who turn out year by year to knock on doors and smile in the face of the foulest weather and foulest tempers, those whose hands are black with hastily printed leaflets, the foot-soldiers , the payers of subscriptions, now they get to vote on who will lead the Conservative fightback which they without reward will make real on the doorstep.

It is a question we ask maybe of our priorities and policies, but there is barely a difference between the two there, but also of character and intent, and on this other comments have been made today:

The Conservative party fell almost overnight from 40% in the polls to less than 10%, and all from one failure to deliver a promise. There are many more promises coming.

This site has tried to keep the candidate profiles up to date, but each character has undergone metamorphosis in the course of his own campaign. What a weird campaign it has been though, where all ten candidates were in complete agreement on most things, but Brexit has been the divider.

Two stand: Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt. (Both have written books, very contrasting subjects, which may give an idea of character.) Both are fine men who would do well, but there are crucial differences.

One of Mrs May’s better decisions was to lift Jeremy Hunt out of a low, ignominious department into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Here he has shown himself to be a statesman: reliable, trustworthy, solid – exactly what we do not need now.

Imagination, originality, unconventionality, courage: that is what it needs. Mostly though it needs someone who will win.

Books by the candidates

Boris Johnson:

Jeremy Hunt:

Also worth a look are the books by a candidate eliminated earlier: Rory Stewart:

How would I answer last night’s leadership questions?

If I were answering, which I never will, the questions put to the leadership candidates on the Beeb last night, I might be as blandly complaisant as we heard, or perhaps, because I am seeking no favours and need take no responsibility for my actions, I might say what I think, to some extent.

Q: If you become PM, you will have no mandate from the public. When will you do the right thing and call an election?

I do not intend to hand over to a Marxist nutcase when there is no constitutional need. If I said it was shocking for Gordon Brown not to call an election, that is something you are meant to say when in opposition and I would have been shocked if Comrade Corbyn had not said the same this time.

Cal it hypocrisy if you will, but the Greek ὑπόκρισις just means ‘play-acting’, and that is parliamentary politics in a nutshell.

Q: Would you commit to getting net carbon emissions down to zero by 2025?

Define ‘net zero’.  If it is a real reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, that is an achievement, but if it is an accounting exercise achieved by buying papal indulgences in the form of ‘carbon credits’ then it is useless, in fact worse than useless as the emissions are not actually falling.

I want to get carbon dioxide emissions down rapidly because it is a waste of resources as much as anything, but unless there is consumer choice and freedom to innovate, it is not happening.

In the meantime do not trip over your own rhetoric:  you may call this an urgent issue for today and call upon science, but that science tells us that even if all the nations stop venting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, it will still take two hundred years to make any difference to the greenhouse effect and the temperatures would keep rising, so if we are at a crucial point, we have already lost.

Q: I’m the imam of a mosque. I see the impact of Islamophobia. Do you accept words have consequences?

A single phrase may be lost in the wind, and a poor joke is no more damaging than that and you can ignore it.  However a constant flow of conspiracy theories and anti-facts, like the hatred-laden anti-Semitic conspiracy theories I have seen from Momentum and even certain imams, will normalise the ideas behind them.

Silence has consequences too: greater harmful consequences come from a lack of words. If we cease to speak as we find, for fear of offence or retribution, then the speaker loses, the hearer loses and all of society clams up and becomes moribund.  Furthermore, the silence does not stop the ideas behind the words – bringing them into the open is the best way to provide context, dialogue and a development of ideas.

You should not be easily offended by words. You should be aghast by lack of words and I would rather see an increase in public rudeness than a decrease in exchange of ideas.

Q: [To Hunt] And you have endorsed President Trump retweeting comments from Katie Hopkins.

No one is an enemy and no one is all to the bad.  You must not turn your disgust at a series of crass comments into a personal hatred.  Trump and Hopkins often say stupid things or things just to provoke, but that does not mean you must disagree with everything they say – if Katie Hopkins says she enjoys listening to jazz, it is safe to agree with her and that is no endorsement of her provocateuse remarks.

Q: I have fostered more than 100 children. What would you do to reverse cuts that have affected children?

What cuts?  Be specific about the money you want to take from my pocket as a taxpayer. There has actually been an increase in funds in many areas, but those who allocate them might have made poor choices.  I would rather support fosterers like you to access facilities than pay wasteful local bureaucracies, so I can look at the system but however high I get, the decisions are made by groundlings. If we raise taxes to pave the streets of social services with gold, they will waste it, as you know, and we will have driven more families into poverty.

Q: I used to vote Tory, but now vote for the Brexit party. What is your plan to lift the tax burden on the working classes?

We must cut taxes for all, and not just the poorest.  A shop assistant or a shelf-stacker or a machinist or a B&B owner, or a hairdresser or any one of numerous jobs rely on one thing: customers.  If we do not cut taxes across the board, including the taxes of richer people, customers stop spending and those jobs shrink and there is no profit from which to pay wages.

Q: How would you solve the Irish border issue?

We will not impose a hard border.  Everyone will be free to come and go across it.  If the EU want to build a border, we cannot stop them, but it would be foolish to do so, and we will not reciprocate.  I want a free trade agreement with the EU in any case, which does away with customs duties and checks, and to recognise EU standards, as they should recognise ours.

If the governing powers of the European Union refuses free trade, we will be forced to look at tracking electronically cargoes from outside Ireland, but if we do not have that infrastructure in place in time, that is the Treasury’s loss but will not hinder the open border. 

There is no closure of the border unless the EU close it on their captive side.

Q: My husband is in the property business. Under no deal, he could lose his job. Why are you even contemplating no deal?

I do not want ‘no deal’ but how would that affect a property business anyway?  Conservatives are not going to stop foreign investors, whether there is a deal or not.  We don’t stop non-EU investors now so why should we stop EU citizens alone in the world?  It would be worse to have a bad deal than no deal or to be stuck in the declining economy of Continental Europe when the world is much bigger.

Q: Would you definitely leave before the end of 2019?

Yes, and on or before Reformation Day, 31 October with no further delays at all. Next?

Q: As a lifelong Tory voter, I voted for the Brexit party at the European elections. Can you guarantee that you will get your Brexit plan through the Commons by 31 October?

If the deal does not go through, we go out without a deal.  I cannot guarantee that the Commons collectively will act in the national interest – Corbyn’s clique in Labour are set against the national interest in all things anyway – but we are out on or before that date with or without a deal.

It is not enough to “believe in the bin” as someone put it, but that approach shows a lack of imagination:  you do not delay putting the rubbish out because it does not fit all in one:  you use your loaf and take it to the council dump.  It goes.

However, Brexit Day is not the end date for discussions.  If there is no withdrawal agreement by that date, then we withdraw, and there will be a post-withdrawal agreement, which does not need Parliament’s approval.  Perhaps if the blockers in the Commons see that, they will be more prepared to have positive engagement: so far they have been content just to throw things to make vain political capital while damaging the nation’s interest. I would welcome positive engagement, but if it is not to be, the Commons will be bypassed, legally, in order to ensure that there is a deal.


I think that is enough to ensure that I could never get anywhere in national politics.

Five try to squeeze through one door

How did that happen – just one knocked out?  We were due to be down to three at this point.

All this has shown the quality of men and women the Conservatives in Parliament have to offer.  It is bizarre to see those who are friends and colleagues fighting it out in a balletic way so as not to land unforgivable blows on one who may be the winner they have to beg for a job.

Now we are facing a larger debate at the BBC (where, as Fay has pointed out, conservatives are rarely seen).

It may mean we have to hear the bin-bag joke again (look; you take the extra bags to the dump – you don’t give up or beg Brussels for more time to dispose of the things. Never mind, it was a great speech on hedgehogs.) My question is where ministers now have a safe fence to sit on, now that there are hedgehogs on the previous perch, which is to say Rory Stewart going turbo and laying into Boris, exposing his supporters to the reflected ignominy.

I’ll listen to what happens on Auntie tonight, and wait for the members to to vote for Boris.

See also


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.