The authoritarianism inherent in Brexiter populism nears the surface

It is now hard not to take the view that the ruthless pursuit of the goal of Brexit is now No. 10’s order of the day, “by all means necessary” in the words of the alleged brief given to the effective Chief of Staff Dominic Cummings by PM Johnson and the Vote Leave team now controlling the executive. That ruthlessness has an urgent domestic priority, to break the Parliamentary resistance to Brexit as formulated by No.10. If that means a No Deal Brexit, so be it. In terms of the relationship with the EU, this will not resolve the problems of a breakdown in the trading relationship with Britain’s by-far biggest market. In domestic terms it comes at a massive price in both an economic recession, a failure in Parliamentary democracy and a possible shift towards authoritarianism. It is not … Read more

The EU referendum and opinion polls: “It’s the economy, stupid”

To add to the uncertainty, it seems that 30% of people haven’t yet made up their mind which way to vote in the forthcoming EU referendum. Given that polling has shown that the result is on a knife-edge, it still leaves both sides with everything to play for. It is worth bearing in mind that research has shown that 80% of referendums tend to favour the status quo. People tend to vote against change. The two UK-wide referendums that we have had, in 1975 on whether to stay in the EU (sic), or in 2011 on the Alternative Vote attempt on electoral reform, both vote against change. In Scotland the status quo prevailed over the SNP campaign for independence by a 10% margin. Northern Ireland voted against union with the South in 1973. Similar patterns have been observed in other … Read more

The strange death of the post-war British political order

When major change happens it can be hard to see what’s really happening. All is flux and uncertainty. In the British 2015 general election fundamental change is happening before our eyes and yet we can’t see what it is. We persist in thinking in terms of the old model of the political order when it has already gone and things have shifted beyond what we can conceive. It will take time for the new dispensation to make itself clear. What has happened is that the traditional post-war model of the nationwide two-party system elected by the “First Past the Post” (FPTP) electoral system in a unicameral, centralised state has finally hit the buffers and no longer works. Yet politicians and to an extent voters still think in those traditional terms when actually a fundamental re-alignment of the political order is … Read more

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