Dice throwing for beginners

Posted by Thersites on  UTC 2019-11-04 17:32

The chances of the Brexit Party obtaining one seat are poor – those chances are vanishingly small for more than five seats. The United Kingdom's first-past-the-post system and the long-established tribalism of the voters will continue to work their magic in this election as in all previous elections. On a personal level, their candidates are simply fifty flavours of Marmite for tribal voters.

Beyond first-past-the-post tribalism, the Brexit Party's chances are not improved by the fact that it has no manifesto that deserves the name. Its candidates come from a patchwork background of policy positions that make a traditional manifesto impossible: the only things they can agree on is the need for an almost immediate 'purist' Brexit and the implementation of some dramatically radical constitutional reforms.

As far as the constitutional purging is concerned, large and unified majorities will be needed in both the Commons and the Lords to put these measures in effect. Expecting a handful of MPs to push through constitutional reform is delusional.

As far as Brexit is concerned, there were perhaps a dozen MPs in the previous parliament who held out to the bitter end for a purist, no-deal Brexit (whether such a precipitate exit is a good or a bad thing is not the argument at the moment). Most of the other Brexit-minded MPs came eventually to accept the May/Johnson dog's breakfast. Substantial numbers of MPs wanted nothing to do with Brexit.

There is no reason to think that the coming general election will shuffle the pack in any substantially different way. It is difficult to see how a handful of Brexit Party MPs can push through a purist no-deal Brexit from within such a parliament, where their only allies will be the handful of purists who achieved nothing in the last parliament.

Despite the intellectual absurdity of its existence, the Brexit Party may pick up a small percentage of votes across the nation. As we noted, it will be a surprise if they are elected even in just one constituency. Their presence in any particular constituency will only serve to lower the hurdle for the eventual victor and turn a number of safeish seats into unpredictable marginals.

In order to justify its appearance on the ballot, the Brexit party has to convince people that the May/Johnson Brexit that is on offer is not really Brexit. That nuanced task causes even political insiders to scratch their heads. We can state with conviction that there has never been a general election that has been won by nuance. The Brexit Party's nuance will count for nothing against the tribal identity felt by the voters of the other parties.

The suggestion from the Brexit Party that at some point after the May/Johnson exit, the UK will slither back into the arms of the EU cannot simply be dismissed. It may not be a big bang reintegration, but bit by bit ground will be ceded. Every country needs its alliances in these globalised times. But then again, hypotheses have never won an election.

So, like everyone else, we shall have to wait and see. The tea leaves are suggesting that there will be a solid Labour majority, but if the majority is not so solid then the LibDems, who will probably do well, will come to the rescue. The Scottish National Party will also do well in the election and get another crack at a referendum for Scottish independence. Northern Ireland, despite its DUP MPs will vanish. If the tactical carrot is sweet enough, one might even imagine the Sinn Fein MPs taking the seats allotted to them.

After ten years of incompetence the tired and tiresome Tories will be sent to the naughty step to have a think about things. They were the idiots that out of short-term interest introduced fixed-term parliaments to the British political system. Their combined opponents will flourish and their return, if it ever happens, will not be easy: Britain will be a very different place politically in five or ten years' time.

We are politically agnostic on this website: a pox on all their houses, in other words. The Tory trajectory over the last decade – Cameron, May, Johnson, each more repelllent than the last – demands some particular nemesis, though. May it be nasty, brutal and long.