A new centrist party?

With little political news over the Summer the media have entertained themselves with talk of new political parties. I have awaited the first poll to ask how people would vote if there was such a party with some trepidation. thus far it hasn’t turned up. Depending on how it is worded a poll question could either suggest triumph or disaster for such a venture. Either case should be ignored – polls asking about how people would vote in hypothetical situations aren’t particularly useful.

Back before the election YouGov asked a couple of questions asking how people would vote if the Labour party split into a centrist party and a Corbynite Labour party. That found Labour voters splitting fairly evenly between the two parties, with little impact elsewhere (a result that under FPTP would likely have delivered a Tory landslide). Of course that was a new party explicitly framed as a split within Labour. It it had been presented as a split from the Tory party, I expect it would have taken most support from them. A new party might actually seek to present itself as being made up of the centrists within both Labour and the Conservatives (though more important is how it would be seen by the public – how a party describes itself is not necessarily the same as how the public sees it), in which case it would have ambitions to take support from a wider pool.

As an explicit anti-Brexit party the first place to look for what support an anti-Brexit might receive is the EU referendum vote. 48% of people who voted in 2016 wanted to Remain. In more recent polls that group splits pretty evenly between Remainers who still think Brexit is a bad idea but that it should go ahead now the people have spoken, and Remainers who think that Brexit should be resisted and overturned. Some have suggested that this means the pool an anti-Brexit party is fishing in is only about 25%. I’d be less sure – at the moment we’re in a political situation where the political class has largely accepted the principle of Brexit and is arguing about the form it will take. Were that to be shaken up, were there a significant political force arguing for changing our minds, perhaps more of those who voted Remain would see it as something to be fought rather than accepted. Who knows?

A more negative consideration is what one thinks a new anti-Brexit party could offer that the Liberal Democrats aren’t already offering. Normally when there is speculation about new political parties it’s because there is a chunk of the electorate who support a political viewpoint that no party is representing – UKIP wanted to leave the EU when no other party did, the Greens offered an emphasis on the environment and anti-austerity that the other parties weren’t. We don’t have to ask hypothetical polling questions about how people would vote if there was a centrist, liberal, pro-European party standing…we already have a perfectly serviceable party of that description and they got 8% of the vote at the general election.

Ah, you might say, but this new party wouldn’t have the baggage of coalition that the Lib Dems have. Or it would have a better known and more substantial leader than Tim Farron. That may or may not be true, depending on who ended up being involved -serious political figures like Tony Blair or George Osborne would bring their own baggage. On the other hand, a new party wouldn’t have the local government or organisational base that the Liberal Democrats do.

The real difference between a new anti-Brexit party and the Liberal Democrats would be the political context and narrative. It is this that makes it impossible to predict from polling how any such party would do. If a party was set up by a couple of whohe’s it would likely sink without trace – if one looks through the register of political parties at the Electoral Commission you’ll find several new parties set up as pro-EU vehicles, and that none have had any impact. In contrast were twenty Conservative MPs and twenty Labour MPs to defect and form a new party, it would create a huge media buzz, there would be a lot of fuss and attention (needless to say, it would also deprive the government of a majority) and that would give it the potential to get a fair amount of support.

In judging these sort of hypothetical questions, I always look back to the polls we used to see in the final months of the Blair government, asking people how they would vote if Gordon Brown was leader. They would invariably show that Labour would perform less well under Gordon Brown. In the fullness of time Brown did take over, and Labour shot into a double digit lead as all the newspapers treated Brown like the second coming. The problem with those pre-Brown polls was that people couldn’t predict that wave of excitement and positive media coverage, couldn’t predict how they would react to it. Given the right people and media coverage, a new party could succeed to some degree (certainly the currently arithmetic in the Commons would make it comparatively easy for a party with Conservative defectors within it to make an impact). Whether it could be successful enough to actually retain or win seats and have a long term future is an entirely different matter – FPTP does not forgive smaller parties without concentrated support, the anti-Conservative vote is already split and the most pro-remain areas tend to be held by Labour.

In short, it could work in terms of upsetting the current narrative if not necessarily in electoral terms… or it could fall flat, but treat any polling questions asking how you would vote if X party existed with a huge pinch of salt. Without the context of the people involved and the political narrative around it, they simply aren’t good predictors.


699 Responses to “A new centrist party?”

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  1. TrigGuy: “Nice idea, but I think the problem is that most of us agree that a third party has absolutely no chance*. Hence not much to discuss.”

    Yup, I did a post on this the other day and there was zero response. However, FWIW and to show I’m not entirely a one-trick pony, here’s the essence of my point:

    Agreed a new 3rd party is a non-starter. The only possibility is that a truly awful Brexit c*ck-up precipitates one of those occasional convulsions which leads to, say, half the Tory MPs and half the Labour MPs jumping ship to the LDs.

    There’s a ‘safety in numbers’ aspect to this, as we saw with the US CEOs in Trump’s committees. The first one or two resigners looked brave and exposed: once it became a mass exodus, lots more decided it was a good idea.

  2. CAMBRIDGERACHEL
    Allan

    Do people try to bite you?
    ——–

    You bet :-)

  3. Aww Bruce Forsyth has passed away…

  4. And on another topic, there were interesting figures on June visitor numbers.

    “The number of visitors to the UK rose to 3.5 million in June, up 7% from the same month last year.

    While in the UK, the visitors spent £2.2bn, a rise of 2%, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

    Meanwhile, UK residents took a June record of 7.2 million trips abroad, up 4%.

    However, with the fall in the value of sterling putting them at a disadvantage, the amount they spent leapt by 15% to £4.6bn.”

    So that seems to be one sector where devaluation isn’t (yet?) working its magic. If the ONS figures are correct, spending here by visitors increased by £43m, while spending by Brits overseas went up by £600m. Incredible.

  5. Should Brucie go to Heaven (if it exists and he is deemed worthy enough?) perhaps St Peter will greet him with ‘nice to see you to see you nice’.

    Towards the end he was a bit clichéd but for those of my age his hosting of the Generation Game, the first irreverent MC on UK TV AFAIK, will be remembered fondly.

  6. S THOMAS

    For once we agree on something. Perhaps May’s absence improves her image.

    You might have given the link, though.

    See YouGov’s Corbyn still more popular than May but his ratings fall.

  7. @Paul Croft.

    I’d love to hear you play some Bach on UKPR – maybe our host can arrange it. It might soothe some troubled souls, although it might infuriate some of the Brexiteers. :-)

  8. Thanks Valerie.

    I will be posting something on FB at some time so my chums [like wot you are] will get to hear it.

    On leader’s ratings, I did say at the height of Corby mania that I had my doubts in him ever becoming PM. [Given that Leicester won the Premier League that was not a prediction simply what I wrote at the time – a doubt.]

    Anyway, I still feel the same but, given that we may have THREE [or more] new leaders by the time of the next election, predictions are for mugs in my opinion.

    I have a sense that the advantage is slightly with the Tories [some control over timing] but EU negotiations are really a bit of a leap in the dark.

    re Bruce, only people who go back to all the shows, the Palladium etc, can understand what an enormous backdrop to life he was. Something like that can never be repeated, as two and three channel TV and huge audiences are a thing of the past. Plus, of course, there is really no such thing as “show business”, of the type that produced Bruce Forsyth and others of that era, anymore.

    I did my first summer season as a singer-guitarist in ’67, and the compere/impresario/pianist/comedian was called Bernard Bedford and he was the first person with multiple show business skills that I ever worked with.

    Somehow, even for a sort of semi-hippy like myself at the time it seemed to cross boundaries – often, and certainly with Bruce – because of the relaxed, confident warmth demonstrated.

  9. I see Bannon’s gone.

    We seem to have lost all our betting commentators here, but if any are lurking, I wonder what odds you can get on Trump outlasting May, and vv.

    Or perhaps we’ll have synchronised send-offs, with them walking hand-in-hand into the sunset…

  10. Somerjohn

    I take Trump to outlast May. To remove Trump requires evidence and impeachment, to remove May the political will is needed.

    I find the “pact” between Fox and Hammond puzzling. It has an echo of the first position paper where the transition (to what destination?) position is simultaneously in and out of the Single Market. These positions are not reconcilable and since the EU has driven internal warfare in the Cons for ages it seems possible/likely/probable that Mrs May will soon be a casualty (pushed or jumps?)

  11. Sam: “I find the “pact” between Fox and Hammond puzzling.”

    I think the hopeful successors are jostling for position in that ‘phony war’ situation where they have to pretend all is normal and they are just getting on with their jobs. But none can afford to offend potential allies of their future boss, so they patch over their differences in a show of unity.

    Sadly, in terms of succession politics, I think acceptance of hard brexit is the logical strategy. For Hammond, he can play the reluctant accepter of the will of the people; Fox wants that anyway; and Davis and Johnson will go whichever way the wind blows.

    In terms of what’s best for the country and its constituent polities… well. that comes a poor second, doesn’t it?

  12. Re Trump, my feeling is that he will resign rather than be impeached or risk losing an election.

    He can bugger off in a huff and forever claim that he was undermined by “them” for the rest of his life. His followers will believe him so he will always be the valiant hero who had to give up against overwhelming odds.

    Possibly.

    Anyway, so long as he buggers off that’s fine by me.

    I order my strings from the US and, as always, got a nice personal message back asking “Anything else I can do for you today Paul?”

    I wrote back saying “New president?” and got the reply “Sounds like a good idea”.

    So that’s one person who’s in the against column. Of course, you can always trust people in the Arts to do the right thing………

  13. Talking about Germany and Germans, how many English footballers can you imagine giving this interview in Germany, in fluent German and with such intelligence and wisdom?

    https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/aug/18/per-mertesacker-arsenal#comment-103850949

  14. I think the Brexiteers, mostly, have just realised the EU is bargaining from principle not self interest, and will continue to do so. Fox and his chums will always believe that the economic and political benefits of Brexit are more than the downside.

    First it was hard Brexit. Then it looked like it was the EEA. There was something next but I have forgotten what it was. Now it is the in and out Brexit or the Schrodinger’s cat Brexit.

    They need a deal, they need a transition. Both might just about be achievable before March 2019 if they start tomorrow. They won’t. The fight has to be fought. Mrs May may not be the first casualty but she will be one if only because she is the most powerful figure.

  15. @” the EU is bargaining from principle not self interest, ”

    Yep-the principle that leaving has to be an absolute nightmare-pour encourager les autres.

    -and the principle that the bast*rds are going to cough up big time or we’ll be really short of the readies.

  16. rachel

    Utterly heartless and not the sort of society most of expected to be living in.

    To say that mental health is the poor relation of physical health is putting it very mildly. Sadly we discover that for some people the problems and the suffering are all too real, all too late.

  17. Colin: “Yep-the principle that leaving has to be an absolute nightmare-pour encourager les autres”

    Aka Brexit means Brexit.

    Do you really believe that when the UK flounces off the remaining 27 are duty bound to featherbed our exit? They don’t have to do anything for leaving “to be an absolute nightmare”. That’s just what leaving naturally entails. Though you’ll have difficulty persuading TOH (who’ll also be disappointed in your negativism).

  18. Re Trump.
    From what I can gather without studying it very closely getting rid of The Donald might be a Frying Pan/Fire situation. I get the impression Pence may be more coherent but is a great deal more coherently right wing.
    I am reminded of Nixon’s attributed remark about Spiro Agnew: “No assassin in his right mind would kill me. They know if they did that they would wind up with Agnew!”

  19. “Yep-the principle that leaving has to be an absolute nightmare-pour encourager les autres.”

    Yes, I too found that interesting. If just leaving a la Brexit means Brexit is such a nightmare, then clearly the UK must be expecting the EU to help us as we leave. A bit odd.

  20. @Somerjohn – “So that seems to be one sector where devaluation isn’t (yet?) working its magic. If the ONS figures are correct, spending here by visitors increased by £43m, while spending by Brits overseas went up by £600m. Incredible.”

    Not so much an example of devaluation not working it’s magic, but more a case of why devaluation isn’t quite such a straightforward benefit that Brexiteers have us believe.

    It does seem to be working it’s magic, in the sense that it is driving more tourists to visit the UK. This brings the UK tourist industry a healthy bonus. However, for UK tourists heading in the other direction, the devaluation means more sterling is converted and spent overseas, so overall there is a net loss to the UK economy, on these figures at least. This is something that Brexiteers who promoted tourism as one of the big winners of devaluation forgot to account for – there are flows in both directions.

    The story is similar in industry, where devaluation gains in export volumes are partially offset by price rises caused by raw materials and component imports. There is also the very major factor of profit taking. As happens after every modern era UK devaluation, UK producers tend to go for short term gain rather than long term benefit, and increase prices rather than go all out for higher market share. That’s why UK manufactured goods that have benefited from a c 14% devaluation have upped their prices by an average 10%.

  21. @ Guymonde

    The American part of my extended family is certainly of the opinion that Pence would be worse, for the reasons you give.

  22. SmileyBen

    I happily accept the “pedant” label, because accuracy of language in political matters is helpful (unless you are a sub-editor of a tabloid),

    You confuse “nationality” and “citizenship”. In a multi-national state like the UK, that actually is important.

    Most of us here are “British citizens” because that is the legal term that the UK Government has decided to grant us..

    Our “nationality” is something different. It doesn’t have legal status, but matters to many.

    In addition to Scots, Welsh, Irish, English, Cornish (and whatever others folk adopt) there are the British and the UK-ish.

    Of course, some just like to use their own appellation to cover everyone in the state – sloppy and frequently arrogant.

    In terms of legal jurisdiction “Scotland” is actually the largest part of the UK, if you include the Continental Shelf. Quite why land mass is normally only considered is something of a mystery – especially as geologic factors indicate the sinking of SE England. :- )

    Of course, for those whose geographical knowledge is limited to the London based weather output, their maps do show the southern parts of England as being proportionately much larger than they actually are, and that may influence perceptions.

    Tony Benn was famous for having a map of the UK “upside down” on his office wall, to remind him that perceptions were often false.

    Perhaps he would have been better to have used a projection from north of Shetland, instead of the BBC’s projection from somewhere above France.

  23. @Alec

    “As happens after every modern era UK devaluation, UK producers tend to go for short term gain rather than long term benefit, and increase prices rather than go all out for higher market share.”

    Perhaps because our very short-term financial institutions demand it. A quoted company which fails to maximise short term returns will likely not survive to see the long term because a predator (quite likely from overseas) will espy a fast buck to be made and no appetite for protection from the government or investing institutions (cf Germany). An unquoted company will struggle to raise debt finance as everybody sees a better and much more secure return in residential property.

    I am a pretty committed remainiac but I could just perceive an outside chance that Brexit might take the edge off this particular dysfunction. However, I suspect it would take 30 years and I won’t be here to see it.

  24. Oldnat:
    As I’ve said, I’m sympathetic. Explaining in detail my mistake which I anyway understand is just annoying. I agree already.

  25. WB (1:53)
    “I have generally stopped posting because the posts of TOH, S Thomas and Pete B amongst others (I apologise to them for this) have me spitting in anger and my eyes spinning with incredulity ……I thought the discussion on weather statistics was lively and informative. Can’t we find something similar to debate?”

    It was actually me that introduced that topic, through boredom with the interminable Brexit debate on here. I did say that I’d try to think of something else.

    How about this – Elon Musk and Richard Branson have recently discovered an idea I had years ago, that there should be a sort of national stipend paid to everyone regardless of whether they work or not. This is because it is likely that automation and AI advances will eliminate many low-skilled jobs. Driverless vehicles is an obvious example. I’d be quite surprised if there were many lorry, taxi or bus drivers in 10 years’ time, unless we get a government that protects obsolete industries.

  26. Re “German dominance in the EU”

    Would those concerned with that be equally concerned if it was “UK dominance within the EU” – or are they just UKNats?

    Re Trump

    Removing him doesn’t require Impeachment. The 25th amendment to the US Constitution provides an alternative method.

    If the VP and a majority of Cabinet members (or of a panel decreed by Congress) deems the President to be incapable of carrying out the office, then the VP becomes President.

    Essentially, that would be a decision of the GOP to dump Trump and install Pence.

    I suspect Pence would be worse for the USA (and my family there) than the objectionable but incompetent Trump. Less dangerous for the world perhaps?

  27. SmileyBen

    Thanks – I’m just catching up on a very long thread!

  28. Oldnat.
    No problem. You’re right: bring careful over UK / GB is important. I’ll try to be more careful. But I do suggest more carrot than stick would help your cause.

  29. Pete B

    “Elon Musk and Richard Branson have recently discovered an idea I had years ago, that there should be a sort of national stipend paid to everyone regardless of whether they work or not.”

    The idea of the Citizen’s Basic Income has been around for some time in many countries.

    There have been some trials, and more are ongoing.

    http://citizensincome.org/

    It’s one of those interesting ideas that can appeal (for a variety of different reasons!) to supporters of very different political perspectives.

    I’ve long been attracted by the concept, but would delay advocating it here until we see the results of the more extensive trials of it elsewhere.

  30. SmileyBen

    What carrot would you suggest? I don’t mean to use a stick, just to raise awareness of the problem.

    Perhaps my sensitivity is enhanced by the (much reduced) number of idiots on my side of the indy debate who still talk of “th English” as the problem, when they really mean the “UK Establishment”.

    I’m much more frustrated by them!

  31. @Bigfatron “However there was bemusement about our politicians’ ability to agree and even enthuse about something in Brussels and then complain loudly about it to the tabloid press when they got back to the UK, a problem that became orders of magnitude worse from 2010.”

    This is a consequence of our politicians not being straight with the populace on the end goal of the European Union (the key is in the name). They have said one thing around the Cabinet table and in the corridors of Brussels and quite another when knocking on voters doors, writing articles in papers or making speeches in public.

    And it’s been going on since Macmillan! The June 1961 Cabinet papers specifically talk about keeping the true purpose of the European project under wraps as there would be no popular consent for it.

    @WB ” If not I may leave and return only when this ghastly brexit process is at an end and something else can be discussed. I, FWIW, would suggest a return to the topic of the thread: I do not believe the conditions currently exist for the creation of a centre party, however I wonder if Chapman is raising the idea as a sort of shell into which the hermit crab of disaffected politicians will crawl if conditions change?”

    The problem with this statement is Chapman’s centrist “Democrats” party idea is precisely because of Brexit. He wants it to get going so it can reverse Brexit. How can we even discuss the idea without reference to it’s raison d’etre?

  32. CL1945 and TOH
    Be very careful of too sudden an exposure to autumn. Useful literary references to the need for caution in seeking the open air as the seasons change are Bertie Wooster’s shock after a late night out with the Drones at being met with a “slab of mellow fruitfulness”- much loved by my Japanese wife who earliernoting the sudden chill of morning, referred to the waka of the 10-year old Saneyuki Akiyama,, later famous in Japanese naval history for devising the strategy of the Japanese fleet which defeated the Russians in the Russo-Japanese war: “Autumn, penis shrinking as you pee out of the northern window” Closer to home, Jorrocks,called on b y his companions in the room of the inn where they have spent the night after a day of hunting and hard drinking to look out the window and report on the state of the weather, puts his head into a cupboard by mistake and reports “Hellish dark and smells of cheese.”

  33. WB
    [email protected] Sea Change’s “The problem with this statement is Chapman’s centrist “Democrats” party idea is precisely because of Brexit. He wants it to get going so it can reverse Brexit. How can we even discuss the idea without reference to it’s raison d’etre?”
    Moreover a reversal of Brexit, quite apart from being strongly present in the minds of all rational men and women not deluded by the gross pervertion and manipulation of the referendum , provides a structure- perhaps an essential structure – within which to address most of the issues discussed in this a previous threads.
    This begins with migration, its rational magement in relation to known needs in the economy and the investments and policies needed to accomodate it in stable social development. This would include the devolution of management and resources to cities and regional governments, immediately perceived as necessary in the practical German reponse to their much higher absorption of migrants in industry in putting in place the social infrastructure and services essential to an economic and demographic development which would permit the avoidance of cultural conflict and social ghettoisation,of the kind which we are obliged to witness in the UK – to which Milleband’s array of proposals for the integration of ethnic minorities and the Migrant Fund are directed.
    It is certainly to avoid the absurdity of regarding these necessary investments as party political and as being avoidable by “limiting migration” to unachievable levels, that the concept of a new centrist party is directed. It is present already in the agenda if not the manifestos of all but the little Englander brigade in which the present government, driven by the concept of having to implement the unachievable aims of the flawed referendum as other than advisory, is caught up.

  34. @Sea Change

    I agree that leading pro-EU politicians have tended to downplay the long-term goal of the political groups leading the EU-core nations. Equally, anti-EU politicians have deliberately downplayed the willingness of the EU-core to allow the UK and other members to participate in the four freedoms without adopting the Euro and ever closer union. Both groups have – mostly – been deliberately and fundamentally misleading.

    But the issue that I am raising is UK politicians, particularly since 2010, agreeing – often enthusiastically – to proposals in Brussels, only to complain that they are being forced into them when back in the UK.

    Another example is claiming that the EU will not allow us to do things that it absolutely does, but we either can’t be bothered to (e.g. ejecting non-working EU migrants, claiming back NHS fees for medical procedures for EU citizens) or wouldn’t want to even if we weren’t in the EU (stopping documentation of origin for livestock).

    We used to be the second most important voice in the EU, from the mid/late eighties all the way through until 2010. No-one took that from us, it is a position that we – well, the Tory leadership – have chosen to throw away.

    For the Tories to complain about our lack of influence over the EU when they chose to surrender the substantial influence we did have is a bit crass, frankly.

  35. Sam

    I think the Brexiteers, mostly, have just realised the EU is bargaining from principle not self interest, and will continue to do so.

    I think that is totally wrong, we need a poll of Brexiteers to use your phrase. I think the EU is acting purely in the self interest of the EU. Why wouldn’t it?

    As to your comments on Brexit strategy, you seem unclear. Personally don’t think it has changed a jot since May’s speech and the White Paper. I think it is quite clear based on the principles outlined in both.

    Valerie

    “I’d love to hear you play some Bach on UKPR – maybe our host can arrange it. It might soothe some troubled souls, although it might infuriate some of the Brexiteers. :-)”

    It may some, I wouldn’t know, in the same way it might upset some Remainers. You have obviously missed my dialogue with Paul about the Bach Partita which he has been working on. It’s a lovely piece of music and for me the Oistrakh version for violin and the Segovia version for guitar fit the bill.

    John Pilgrim

    It would appear I share with your wife a love of Keats’s Ode to Autumn. Great poem, just rolls off the tongue when read aloud. You bring a smile to my face this morning. :-)

  36. Kitsune

    “@ Guymonde

    The American part of my extended family is certainly of the opinion that Pence would be worse, for the reasons you give.”

    Yes, and all my American friends, who loathe Trump, say the same.

  37. “Frank Field warned students receiving their A-level results against pursuing “any old degree” and said vocational training could lead to better jobs.
    He called for a rethink of careers advice given to 16 and 17-year-olds to avoid students being “sold a pup”.
    The government said universities “deliver extraordinary returns” for students.
    Mr Field, a free-thinking former minister, who graduated from Hull university with a degree in economics, is chairman of the influential Commons Work and Pensions Committee.”

    Some very good advice from Frank Field a Labour politician I have always had a lot of time for.

  38. SOMERJOHN

    @”Do you really believe that when the UK flounces off the remaining 27 are duty bound to featherbed our exit?”

    Your use of the words “flounces off” & “featherbedding” epitomises a view of membership of the EU & of the nature of the organisation which my remarks were aimed at.

    They, and their like minded supporters like yourself have no sense of free will being involved in membership of the EU-and therefore the idea of co-operation with this organisation, without membership of it is something which , I believe they really struggle with. Everything is defined by Process & Procedure. A bit like the Catholic Church-the Order of Things is what matters-it keeps them all captive .

  39. COLIN: @” the EU is bargaining from principle not self interest, ”

    Yep-the principle that leaving has to be an absolute nightmare-pour encourager les autres.

    -and the principle that the bast*rds are going to cough up big time or we’ll be really short of the readies.

    Well, AFAICS, the nightmare is that having voted to leave the club, we lose the benefits of being members of the club. The message ‘Brexit means Brexit’ is most appositely directed at those who voted for it.

    Now, don’t pull a face when you have to eat your porridge. If you voted for porridge it is patriotic to at least pretend that you enjoy it. Take ToH as a role model, he is plainly genuinely looking forward to his porridge.

  40. Locally a shop does not charge for The Sun newspaper, as the distributor has a deal with the chain to distribute papers they could not otherwise sell.

    When you do obtain a free copy, you wish you had not bothered. Yes there is some nice coverage of the legend Bruce Forsyth and the sports coverage is good. But the news coverage is so shockingly sad, that one might start to think that humanity is in the process of destroying itself, as there is very little that is positive.

    With ISIS being gradually removed from Iraq and Syria, there does appear to be an increase in attacks across Europe. There was always suspicion that ISIS and other Islamic terrorist groups had used the migration of refugees to move sleeper cells into Europe. If this has happened,then we could be in for many years of attacks like Barcelona, Paris, London etc.

    I can see border controls being reintroduced across mainland Europe and there being more visable security in cities. Governments are going to have to spend much more on Police, security services and armed forces.

    Then there is all the Trump nonsense going on, when the world could do with a strong US President, who could work with leaders of other countries. I can’t see Trump lasting, as he running out of friends. Would not surprise me, if a number of Republican Politicians became independents and refused to support anything they disagreed with.

  41. Colin: ” Everything is defined by Process & Procedure.”

    But of course. It has to be a rule- and law-based organisation. How else can you make an association of 28 disparate nations work? The alternative to process and procedure is making it up as you go along, or control by the strongest nations, imposed by some form of coercion.

    It is precisely because it is defined by mutually-agreed process and procedure that it is not the German-dominated monolith of some brexiteers’ imagination. And something not to be loathed, but welcomed as a beacon of enlightenment and rationalism in a world where the alternative – epitomised by Trump’s bullying insistence on rewriting NAFTA rules to America’s advantage – generally holds sway.

  42. There was a football match at Wembley in 1973 .Britain Ireland and Denmark who were joining the common market against the six members Belgium France Luxembourg Netherlands Germany Italy .This was to celebrate a fanfare to Europe.What celebration will there be when Britain leaves the EU ?

  43. @RHuckle

    With ISIS being gradually removed from Iraq and Syria, there does appear to be an increase in attacks across Europe. There was always suspicion that ISIS and other Islamic terrorist groups had used the migration of refugees to move sleeper cells into Europe. If this has happened,then we could be in for many years of attacks like Barcelona, Paris, London etc.

    It is clear ISIS are are in decline within their ‘Caliphate’.

    I actually think that these attacks in Europe by isolated groups and individuals are probably not remotely directed by ISIS, but they are just claiming they are to increase the perception their importance and capability.

    Of course whether directed by ISIS or, it matters not to the victims. However, if ISIS are not directing the attacks specifically, it means when the caliphate is destroyed (which it will be eventually), the attacks in Europe will just carry on regardless.

  44. Stronger border controls and the increased use of security services were mentioned on Any Questions last night, but given how many attackers are home grown and use methods undetectable in advance, I’m not sure how effective this would be.

    I’ve not heard anything that comes close to sounding like it can make a significant difference.

  45. CMJ

    What’s effective is fighting terrorism at it’s source. That means a total economic blockade of Saudi Arabia.

  46. CMJ

    What’s effective is fighting terrorism at it’s source. That means a total economic blockade of Saudi Arabia.

  47. CMJ: “Stronger border controls and the increased use of security services were mentioned on Any Questions last night, but given how many attackers are home grown and use methods undetectable in advance, I’m not sure how effective this would be.”

    Yes. The terrorism problem has some features in common with the grooming/exploitation problem discussed upthread. No one (afaik) has suggested that the Bradford etc problem could be mitigated by border controls: the offenders are home grown.

    Clearly, there are disaffected people within the UK and other European countries who do not feel bound by societal norms. That is to put it as neutrally as I can.

    The question then arises: is the most effective way of tackling their aberrant behaviour through security, intelligence etc or through measures that attempt to address the causes of their disaffection?

    I guess the answer has to be a combination of both. There are limits to what security etc can do against people who are citizens, born in the country concerned, with no criminal or radicalisation history, who hire a van and drive it into a crowd. Or prey on local girls who they perceive as worthless.

    One has to say that the police action in the small seaside town of Cambrils was pretty quick and effective: the UK equivalent would be the police in Margate, or Newquay, managing to shoot dead 5 terrorists intent on further slaughter before they could do further damage (though the incompetence of the terrorists in turning their car over – not to mention blowing up their bomb factory – clearly helped).

  48. MONOCHROME OCTOBER

    @”Now, don’t pull a face when you have to eat your porridge. If you voted for porridge it is patriotic to at least pretend that you enjoy it. Take ToH as a role model, he is plainly genuinely looking forward to his porridge.”

    I’m not “pulling a face”.-Try a little harder to appreciate that interest in Brexit & its outcome is not restricted to people who are committed & unchangeable Remainers or Leavers. The world is a little more subtle than that.

    I didn’t vote in the Referendum as it happens-which means I don’t fit into one of your two boxes.

  49. SOMERJOHN

    @” And something not to be loathed, but welcomed as a beacon of enlightenment and rationalism in a world where the alternative – epitomised by Trump’s bullying insistence on rewriting NAFTA rules to America’s advantage – generally holds sway.”

    Oh dear-this sort of stuff is so tedious.

    I don’t loath it-I am critical of it.
    I welcome all co-operation with European allies on any matters of mutual interest.
    European Culture was a “!beacon of enlightenment” well before the EU was ever thought of.
    “Rationalism” ???-we would need to examine what you mean by that word in this context before I buy that one.

    The “alternative” will increasingly be Trump like if political parties treat the voters as ballot box fodder & ignore the difficult issues which they raise.

    Europe understands how populists & demagogues gain power. They answer cries of frustration & feelings of impotence.

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