Thursday, 4 February 2016

Certainly uncertain about uncertainty

Norman Tebbit seems to think the next Tory leader will be a eurosceptic. It's a point worth discussing. Assuming we stay in the EU I don't see Cameron enjoying a comfortable lead at the next election. I will be staying at home unless it looks like a Ukip vote will get rid of my local Europhile Tory MP.

Cameron certainly won't enjoy much popularity in the party. After all, he was hated by Conservatives when he took over the leadership, and I think that's what caused me to abstain in the 2010 election. Cameron certainly cannot go into an election prideful of his record of having sold out to Brussels.

Thinking about it, it is only Labour's general unelectability that will save the Conservatives from a seriously bloody nose. But Cameron may calculate that a new leader is the only way to prevent that and step down.

I don't see Osborne taking over. The man is virtually made of plastic and is even more charmless than Cameron. It will probably have to be a "eurosceptic". But we have had eurosceptic Tory leaders before. IDS, Howard, Hague. None could win an election and when it comes to the crunch we can't trust Tories to stand by their beliefs.

It would take a manifesto pledge to leave the EU without a referendum for me to ever vote Tory again. That's not going to happen, so I think we can safely say I'm just never going to vote Conservative again. With broader left wing dissatisfaction at the Tories setting in by then, Mr Corbyn may enjoy a boost, or it may be that the SNP hold the balance of power. Who knows?

Of course, this is all idle speculation (waffle you might even say) and my guess is as good as yours. The future is uncertain. By accident of numbers we either get a Corbyn government, or a lame duck Tory government with an even weaker majority.

Meanwhile, I see public sentiment being more hostile to politicians than we have known it for some time. I don't see the media getting an easy ride of it either. And this to me really underscores the reason why we should leave. Westminster uncertainty means massive uncertainty for the British public.

As far as big business and the banks are concerned, a Remain vote means business as usual. So when business says Brexit would cause uncertainty, they mean they want certainty for them, but uncertainty for us. We end up trapped in this political funk with neither side able to advance any growth enhancing ideas and none having the necessary clout for economic or social reform.

I can only see that political paralysis causing ever more discontent north of the border and that, more than anything, could trigger a second Scottish referendum. The SNP would have just enough leverage to ram it through. In the event of a Corbyn government we would see a massive increase in borrowing, bigger business taxes and more welfare spending, putting us back where we were during the worst of the Blair years. Worse in fact. How do small businesses feel about that?

Put simply, as a fairly astute guy who follows politics, I can't say with any certainty what will happen. I just have a feeling it's going to be messy and bitter and if Ukip doesn't see a resurgence, something else will fill the void. If you think voting to remain solves anything, you're absolutely bonkers.

Nether Labour not the Conservative party will be in a healthy state and we may see a disintegration of the present party system. While I certainly won't shed any tears, it really does place a question mark over the future of British politics. Ironically, it will only be the EU managerialism holding the basics together.

On the other hand, we could vote to leave and then we would have some very serious choices to make, some very real deliberation to do and some politics of substance to get our teeth into. That would see the parties competing in a marketplace of ideas as to where to take the country with its new found independence. It would be a time where minds would have to come into sharp focus in a spirit of cooperation so as to avoid careless miscalculations. A Wesminster getting serious about the substance of government.

We would soon find that those idle hacks passing themselves off as pundits would rapidly be dispensed with as real expertise comes back in demand. We might actually get a grown up media, and who we vote for might actually matter. We might even see a properly conservative government and that might even trigger a vibrant left that mobilised instead of whinge all the time. It has so many possibilities. That would be real democracy. But that's the kind of uncertainty the banks and corporates don't like.

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