2 Aug 2016

Here There Be Politics

Hello readers!

I have, alas, not written a great deal on the Magical Realm as of late. This is, once more, down to the fact that I am in the countryside. Remote Romanian countryside, that is to say. I have had Internet only sporadically—the town hall has Internet, but it’s a fair walk through nearly 40 degree heat.

The infernal heat has also kept me grounded here for an unexpectedly long while. My grandma, you see, does not fancy going back to civilisation; she believes the heat will be even more intolerable in the brick-and-mortar confines of our apartment.

Thus I have not been able to write to you. However, I have taken this opportunity to write about British politics. I will address two topics herewith: the Labour Leadership, and a few more words about the Brexit. In particular, I will answer the following two questions. Is Owen Smith a better candidate than Corbyn? And what of May’s negotiations?

JC Versus Smith

Through the following weeks, Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith will engage in hustings. Thursday this week is when the first debate is scheduled. They will then, hopefully, clarify their economic and political positions—I’m talking mainly Smith here—and engage in some healthy debate. They may even argue over a question that I’ve posed to them: you can thank the party’s crowdfunded questions for that.

But before all that, what is my preliminary position? What do I think of Owen Smith? Is he a man to lead party and people—or is he a false flag, a Miliband 2.0?

Well, I can say with a fair degree of confidence that is he probably not a second coming of Ed Miliband. At the very least, his style is very different: where Miliband was timid and shy, almost to the point of unsociableness, Smith is clear, articulate and well-spoken. He does resemble Nye Bevan—a charismatic Welshman with a penchance for socialism. (I am certain Smith will be quite flattered by the comparison; Nye Bevan is his hero.)

As for the concrete details of his policy, there’s not much we can say about that now. The only policy he’s so far advocated is a £200B public investment scheme. Ordinarily this wouldn’t classify him as a socialist in particular, but in the current austerity-dominated political climate—well, it’s more radical than what Miliband proposed, in any case.

I would however be surprised if he doesn’t advocate other socialist policies: nationalisation, increased tax on high incomes and capital gains, clamping down on tax evasion, and the defence of the welfare state. These are all quite mainstream positions—and perfectly reasonable for a leader of the Labour party to support.

I do expect him to go against some of Corbyn’s more extreme, unpopular, or simply irrelevant policies. He’ll keep Trident (he’s said as much), he’ll keep us in NATO, he’ll keep the monarchy, and he won’t compare the Israeli state to Hitler.

That alone will be enough to avoid a good part of the bad press Corbyn’s received. This is not say he won’t get any bad press: Murdoch and Dacre will surely find something with which to smear him. However, at least he’ll avoid the mudslinging from the likes of the Guardian, the Observer, New Statesman, and possibly the Times.

And finally, Smith should be able to do a much better job on the PMQs. This time, Labour will be ready for Cruella Theresa May.

So my message here is pretty clear: I think Smith is a better candidate than Corbyn. This is not to say that Smith will necessarily become the Prime Minister. The battle Labour will have to fight will not be easy—the Brexit electoral landscape, as I’ve said previously, is a difficult one.

This is especially true since Smith—like any serious modern day Labour politician—is a Europhile. I am confident he can take on Farron for the Remain voters; but what of the Leavers? He will have to convince at least some of them to vote Labour in order to win the next General Election.

But for all this, I’m actually pretty confident in Owen Smith. He seems both competent and personable—a plausible contender for PM-in-waiting. And honestly, considering the leadership contenders past—Burnham, Cooper, Kendall—I am confident in saying that he’s probably Labour’s best bet.

May and Brexit

I have to say that May’s Brexit strategy does amuse me, even if it is entirely predictable. Firstly, the appointed BoJo as Foreign Secretary, and Liam the Fox as International Trade Secretary. As an act of internal politics, it is shrewd: she can keep her party united, and the Brexiteer’s (all but inevitable) failure she can blame on them.

But as an act of national and international politics, it is not a good move. Boris has already been called a liar by the French foreign minister; he is not popular across the Channel. And the Fox is both arrogant and delusional: a poor negotiator of the nation’s future.

Then there’s May herself. She, as Home Secretary, was very keen on deportation—she lost multiple court battles over it; and has already stated that she wants net migration in the tens of thousands. The leaders of Europe have made it quite clear that there will be no access to the single market without freedom of movement. So what does May do? On the one hand, she’s not stupid—she knows it is in Britain’s interest to keep its access to the single market. On the other hand, she hates immigration and has strong political pressure to reduce it.

Honestly, I don’t think the future will be pretty.

Parting Words

Well; these are my political musings for the time being. I hope they have been reasonably interesting. And rest assured, also, that I am continuing work on my work-in-progress novel, the Ark. I am halfway through revising part two; I am soon to have completed most of the revision work! Once I’ve done that, I will likely make some more changes following the advice of my beta-readers.

And after that, it’s full steam ahead to write the third and final part—Hope. Then it will be time to look for agents, and go through the slow, difficult but hopefully rewarding process of being published. Wish me luck!

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