Wednesday, 8 November 2017

The Tories are firing blanks at Labour

I don't know if it was always like this but Twitter has certainly amplified the dynamic. We live in an age where politicians are under constant fire. The main mode of politics now is to throw enough shit around until some of it sticks.

It's even done on a collective level. The debate this week about the government release its Brexit impact assessments has nothing to do with any actual desire to see them, rather it is to further expose a government on flimsy ground. And though we might lament the methods, this is just how modern politics gets done.

What's interesting is how material only becomes live ammunition when somebody somewhere inside the bubble decides it has legs. It can sit there in full view of everyone like a bad pierogi on the plate until somebody notices. If the media ever decides to go at Steve Baker then the man is very seriously in some deep shit. He's just not a target for the moment.

Because of this dynamic Corbyn's grubby history does not seem to have hindered his survival either. At some point, when the powers that be want to get rid of him it will probably rise to the top - but it won't be anything at all new or especially secret.

The media has become highly effective at weaponising the past. It's all about timing and who needs to get got for the most urgent political purpose. In that respect, if the media has the right sense of priorities, this is how it can serve democracy. Too bad it doesn't.

That leaves those of us more interested in policy than politics operating in a different world wondering if and when politics will ever get its act together. At some point some adults have to step in and pay attention to the details.

We are starting to see signs of that with Stephen Kinnock, Keir Starmer and Heidi Alexander getting to grips with the EEA option. This week I notice Starmer has been consulting Ulf Sverdrup which is a very positive sign.

That is indeed a problem for the Tories. As foul as I find Corbyn and the Momentum tribe, if that emerging competence is increasingly noticed by the public then nothing the Torybots can throw in the air about Jezza will have any effect whatsoever - much though it should - were these normal times. 

As with all politics power tends to find its way into the hands of those who know what they want and know how to get it. Right now either Starmer or Kinnock look like they could, in time, topple the hard left and bring politics back to the centre. More's the pity we don't have the time to avert a Brexit calamity. By the time they do make their case we will teetering on the cliff edge.

In this the Tories should take note. The Brexit ultras especially. If you want to achieve anything you need a plan and you need to carry the confidence of the public. If you can do that then even your worst sins are forgiven. This is what we said from the outset - and if in the end the weakness of this government (and the mendacity of the Brexit ultras) is what does kill Brexit in the final hour, they will only have themselves to blame.

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