This is a post that I have been intending to write for some time, but as with so many things, life intervened and distracted me! But 2019 so far has been a significant year, both for UK politics (which is desperate just now), and for my own political situation (which, oddly, is more positive, as I will explain).
Before talking about the awfulness of current UK politics, a word about my situation. As I’ve discussed before, I was a Labour member and voter for years, but finally left the party in 2013. I had two years in the political wilderness, although I voted Labour in the 2015 election. Finally, Corbyn’s election as leader gave me the motivation I needed to become politically active again, and I joined the LibDems in 2015. I got involved with my local party, and helped set up the Social Democrat Group to encourage dialogue with Social Democrats in other parties (principally Labour). I attended the two party conferences in 2016, but then had doubts about whether the LibDems were the right political home for me, with (seemingly) not much interest in the Social Democrat agenda at the time. I left in 2017, and rejoined Labour for a few months, only to quickly realise that Labour was definitely not the place for me either! So for about a year, from April 2018 I was back in the political wilderness, as I needed to think things through. Finally, a few months ago, I decided that the LibDems came closest to my political position, particularly with the Brexit situation (and I have to thank my political colleague George Kendall for saying at one point that one very rarely is a fan of everything a party does, and there was enough in the LibDems policies, particularly on Europe, for me to feel at home). So I rejoined, and was welcomed back both by my local party and the Social Democrat Group, for which I am very grateful. I even attended the party conference in Bournemouth last week, helped out on the Social Democrat Group stand, and voted in support of the motion to revoke article 50 if we form a government (unlikely though that is). The Social Democrat Group has also achieved some more relevance with the recent defections from Labour and the Conservatives, and we hope we can help the party to encourage more.
And so, to current politics. To summarise, Boris Johnson as PM has prorogued (suspended) parliament until the Queen’s Speech in early October. The deadline to achieve a deal with the EU is 31 October, but just before the proroguing took effect, opposition MPs united to pass a law to require that the government would have to ask for an extension to our membership if no deal is reached by 31 October. They also voted down the government’s call for a General Election, twice. Now we are in a waiting game, and it remains to be seen whether the government can reach a deal in the available time, and if not, whether they will obey the new law and ask for an extension (Boris Johnson has hinted that they might try to circumvent the law). The problem is that if no deal is reached, and no extension sought, there is the danger of leaving the EU with no deal, which would be an unmitigated disaster. Then there is a question of a General Election. If the government seeks, and is granted, an extension to our EU membership, the opposition parties will no doubt remove their opposition to having a General Election, and one might be held before the end of the year. Then I’ll be campaigning for the LibDems as best as I can, and there is a real opportunity that they will win seats from both Labour and Conservative, although probably not in enough numbers to form a government. But they may have enough to make a difference, and perhaps to enable a second referendum to take place, which would hopefully finish the Brexit nightmare once and for all.
So, with the new semester a week away, with all that involves, we are in very challenging political times. It remains to see what happens, and I will certainly write more posts as things develop.