Sarah Wollaston joins Plaid Cymru

Report by Fay Kinuise:

Of her new perch, Sarah Wollaston said:

“After very careful thought, I have come to the conclusion that by joining Plaid Cymru I can best serve the interests of my constituency, Totnes, or ‘Pen-y-Tot’ as it should be called and I understand that I am the party’s first ever MP in Dyfnaint.

I bring a greet deal of experience, as I have seen many political parties in the last few years: I was on both sides in the referendum campaign, I campaigned for Leave then voted Remain, then voted to Leave in Parliament; I have in the course of a few months been in the Conservative Party, then The Independent Group, then Change UK, campaigning for the status quo. I then sat as an independent, and then joined the Liberal Democrats, until they failed to reselect me for Totnes.

I will now campaign for Welsh medium teaching in all Devonian schools, and to avoid a damaging border with Europe, by building one against England. I can assure my new colleagues in Plaid Cymru that I will be steadfast for the party for the whole of the week, or until a prettier party comes along.

Whatever I have said in the past, I am still the Vicar of Bray, sir the MP for Totnes. Britain deserves better.”

Brecon and Radical Rethink

What just happened?

It must make some logic, in the twisted, bizarre form of logic that Parliamentary politics has taken over the last few years. So we have:

  • A clear majority of the voters of Brecon and Radnorshire voting for pro-Brexit candidates, but splitting the vote to let in a rabid Remainiac;
  • The Brexit Party’s intervention making it more likely that Parliament will cancel Brexit;
  • MPs and candidates speaking most forcefully against a no-deal are preventing a deal, making it more likely that no deal will be reached;
  • (And this after we have seen MPs telling the press that they have always voted against no-deal when their voting records show they have always voted against a deal);

Then we have:

  • The LibDems, who or many years condemned UKIP as a one-issue party turning on the Conservatives as a one-issue party, when they themselves have become just that;
  • Conservative MPs of a Remainer bent hoping to avoid a small economic bump from Brexit by risking putting into Downing Street a mad Marxist team who would make the Great Depression look like a picnic;
  • Opposition MPs growing excited at the chance of toppling the Conservative government even in the knowledge that an election would most likely produce a thumping Conservative majority.

To some it may make sense, but to the average voter it tells a story of out-of-touch politicians producing exactly the frustration which caused the Brexit vote to be so emotional.

Questions for Boris Johnson

Some of the questions we are asking ourselves of the most enigmatic Prime Minster in living memory, and my answers at least:

  • Can Boris Johnson achieve in 99 days what Theresa May and her whole team failed to manage in 3 years?

Yes.

  • Can Dominic Cummings drain the swamp?

Actually, we do not know yet what Dominic Cummings has been called in to do.  Is he a spin doctor-in-chief?  An election campaign strategist? A negotiator with the Brussels Blob?  He is a one who succeeds, but at what task?

David Cameron allegedly called Cummings a “professional psychopath” – good: we need psychopaths more than touchy-feely milksops, and a professional one is all the better.

Taming the establishment has been tried before and failed. The Long March through the Institutions is well entrenched.  David Cameron called Steve Hilton to push “positive populism” to reform the established powers, but he left frustrated. 

If it were done when ’tis done then ’tis well it were done quickly; ministers will go native in their new departments within weeks, and begin to defend them from outside attack. The who were called in as outsiders to reform the system will become insiders. That may include the Prime Minister, though his imaginative, playful turn of mind is a force to be reckoned with by even the most stolid establishmentarian.

  • Is there to be an early general election?

Who can tell?  It would be reckless in the extreme to call an election when the party’s poll ratings are still scraping around the 25% mark and in each constituency contest the conservative vote will be split between the Conservatives and the Brexit Party. Watch Brecon and Radnorshire.

The buzz in the media is talk of a general election, but the media love novelty and excitement: Brenda from Bristol may have other ideas. The idea is growing that if the House of Commons blocks Brexit somehow or mars the form of it then Parliament would be dissolved and election called to secure a Conservative majority on the back of a “Boris bounce”, but that is not realistic until Brexit is secure, not least because until Britain has actually left the European Union the Brexit Party will still be queering the pitch, letting the Liberals and Labour in every time.

After Brexit we are into Christmas. Maybe in the Spring we will see new shoots, but by then the landscape may be very different.

Books

By Boris Johnson:

Our plan for the new Prime Minister

Everyone else is doing it, so why not here?

Every column inch in the dead-tree press will be filled for weeks with columnists’ own plans to save Britain / the World, and Boris Johnson knows this well, as a columnist.  To each, the only plan for success is their own and any failure to follow it is a scandalously wasted opportunity that will seem like a betrayal. The success of Team Boris came swiftly and the backlash will be quicker. 

In the meantime, it is my duty to see what plans can come from my febrile imaginings and those of my colleagues, which are, naturally, the only solution, the slightest failing in which is a criminal waste / betrayal / surrender to the Blob.

  • Leave the EU on or before Reformation Day, 31 October, with or without a deal;
  • If Brussels will not replace or amend the Withdrawal Agreement (see earlier post on that; “Fixing the Withdrawal Agreement“, then offer a unilateral post-withdrawal deal for continuing tariff-free trade.
  • Reduce taxes for all, especially the squeezed Middle Classes, or ‘customers’ as we are known in business.
  • Register the Establishment;
  • A reforming unionist agenda:
    • Do not buy nor publish maps which only show England and Wales, or only England.
    • Run through all the Acts, rules and guidance which bar Scots and Ulstermen by carelessness of wording I have a very long list by my elbow)
    • Close the Ulster Bypass, and use the government’s economies of scale to provide services equally in Ulster as such economies provide in Great Britain (another list by my elbow)
    • Root through the national curriculum to remove regional bias
  • A radical free speech initiative, inside and outside government, and inside government:
    • Sack all diversity officers and cancel all equality and diversity training;
    • Discipline or dismiss public servants who try to get colleagues sacked for transgressing codes of PC speech and behaviour;
  • Order the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government to stop taking orders from Shelter, and remove any civil servants who act as conduits for that charity’s political ideas.  Instead, support private landlords: they are the ones who provide homes and they will not if they are punished.
  • Abolish inheritance tax.
  • Delete the word “county” from local government terminology: those flags in the Square today are what counties are really about – community not bureaucracy
  • Drive back the Long March:
    • Stop advertising government jobs in the Guardian;
    • Stop handing cash to ex-Labour politicians under the guise of research grants
    • Other things that need doing you know perfectly well, but such deeds can only be named in the dark.
  • And while you are about it: Land a man on the Moon and return him safely to the Earth.

Well that’s for the first week. Going into August there is more to be done.

Books s

Boris, the chosen one

He has reached the top of the greasy pole at last. Roy Hattesley (I think) once called Benjamin Disraeli the only first-class stand-up comedian ever to become Prime Minister; well here we have another.  A journalist, author, historian and comedian, whose candidature was once considered a joke but who is acknowledged to be the most intelligent of all the candidates, and now the new Prime Minister.

He is an unpredictable character, and things said for show might not echo in action even for the most principled politician, though for most of them that is a good thing, the wild promises they make. For Boris Johnson, a showman to all appearances, we just cannot tell.

There is a fulsome tribute to Boris Johnson today in Quillette, by Toby Young, who has known him since Oxford: “Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Man“, including a first hand account of an address by Boris to the Oxford Union which has gone down in legend.

Some things we can be pretty sure of:

  1. He will surprise his opponents;
  2. He will disappoint and frustrate his supporters;
  3. A great many MPs will be drawn from the backbenches to fill the shoes of those who cannot hack it;
  4. The coming men will themselves surprise their enemies and disappoint and frustrate their supporters;
  5. Someone will start a cry of ‘betrayal’.

When there is a change at the top, political commentators will project all their own hopes and fears on the new man and declare in all solemnity that there is only one way to go on X, Y or Z, and claim to understand exactly what is in the mind of the new PM, which is surprisingly exactly what is in the commentator’s own mind, and they will be shocked, and convinced of an establishment plot, when it does not turn out so..

Some of the displaced establishment will make grand speeches and may go off to found thinktanks or learned commissions, hoping to drink taxpayers’ money and that of generous donors for a few years yet, and these bodies may make a positive difference until captured by left-wing applicants.

Overall, and I may be the first to take an honest line on this, asked what we will see from a Boris Johnson ministry, I will say – I do not know, nor does anyone, least of all the man himself.

Books

By Boris Johnson: