Three things not happening on this election day

12th December 2019

“The hustings are over, the bunting is down, the mad hysteria is at an end. After the chaos of a general election, we can return to normal.”

(Blackadder, third season, episode one)

Many people will be commenting on what is happening today so this post offers commentary on three things which are not happening.

The first thing that is not happening is that we are not considering the currently suppressed report into Russian interference in the politics of the United Kingdom.

One would think that publishing such a report would be a prerequisite of a government seeking to go to the country.

But no.

The second thing that is not happening is that parliament is not scrutinising either the withdrawal agreement implementation bill or the withdrawal agreement which the bill implements.

Neither document has yet had any detailed scrutiny, even though the United Kingdom is set to leave the European Union by automatic operation of law on 31st January 2020, which is just over a month away.

Given that the bill was supported at its second reading by a majority of MPs you would think that the time before 31st January would have been spent ensuring that the 580-page plus withdrawal agreement – that deals with a range of complex and consequential provisions – was properly scrutinised.

But again, no.

The third thing that is not happening is that we are not about to enter the final year of the five-year parliament elected in 2015.

The 2015 general election gave the Conservatives a comfortable majority, which they then converted into four years of political chaos and successive general elections.

The irony is that the Conservatives are promoting themselves today as a solution to the current political disarray, when it was the Conservatives getting their first majority since 1992 which is the direct cause of what is now going on around us.

One would think a sufficient number of voters would realise this and desert the party whose misuse of a majority led to this mess.

But, yet again, no.


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21 thoughts on “Three things not happening on this election day”

  1. It is election day. It should be a day of hope and trust in our democratic process but I just feel utterly depressed. We seem to be witnessing a scarily accelerated demise of a country that not too long ago was flawed but on the whole a very decent place to call home.

    1. Mr Connell
      In the absence of what would undoubtedly be a superior response from DAG I would say the answer is ‘yes’ unless the appropriate authority in the UK either revokes article 50 or asks for an extension and the request is granted.

      As to who is the appropriate authority that will presumably be the prime minister whoever he or she may be, and who may or may not need a parliamentary mandate to revoke or extend.

      Would suggest not investing your life’s savings in a bet on the UK staying in the EU.

    2. Unless someone with authority to do so requests a further extension (and the EU grant it), or that person revokes the Article 50 notification, then yes, we leave by automatic operation of law, to quote DAG himself, on January 31st.

  2. Thanks, Mr Green, for this hard-hitting commentary.

    Folks, I would like from my vantage point in Estonia to comment briefly just on the first of our host’s three (devastating) points.

    Russia is a problem. Please, folks, do not underestimate the scope and size of this problem.

    If, as I believe happened a few years ago, they position a couple of solicitous hookers (one of each gender) in the Toronto street right outside HackLab, less to generate компромат than to remind me personally, even as a person of no importance, that “Toomas, we have by no means forgotten you,” then they are capable of much.

    The report to which Mr Green refers is going to have to come out eventually. We may hope that Mr Green eventually helps us digest it, through the kind of detailed online analysis in which he specializes.

    (signed) Toomas Karmo, in Nõo Rural Municipality, Estonia

    PS: I have in the past enjoyed waving in a rather kindly way to my putative SVR or FSB case officer or officers. I may as well remind them herewith, as they read Mr Green’s (devastating) remark on the hitherto-suppressed report, that my rather light-hearted writeup is still available at

    PPS: Small “anekdoot” regarding exile-Estonian tourist going back home for a few days under the 1944-1991 occupation. This guy (it was not me) felt he had a tail. The weather was hot in Tallinn. Mindful of his tail, he bought not one ice cream but two. The extra ice cream he held out with his arm behind his back, and someone indeed took it. – We just have to get on with each other in a friendly way, somehow, albeit without compromising our principles.

    PPPS: Here is a further small “anekdoot”. This anekdoot relates to the Russian Civil War (in the immediate wake of the putsch by political operative V.I.Ulyanov, who for image reasons had adopted the nom-de-guerre V.I.Lenin). My Gran found herself not in Estonia at all but in Ukraine. Her village was for a while in the hands of the Whites, which I suppose was okay. Then, however, the military situation shifted, bringing the Reds in. The Reds cooked soup for themselves in the village square. They sent fighters round to the villagers, requisitioning what they needed for feeding themselves. A Red fighter consequently came to Gran’s door, I presume banging hard: “[BANG BANG BANG.] Woman. We are cooking soup for the troops. We need spoons. Get us some spoons.” My Gran, who at that point had to be in her late twenties, responded, “Spoons? You ask for spoons? The only spoons we have in the house are silver coffee spoons, and we are not handing those out to Bolsheviks.” The soldier said, “Ma’am, I am very sorry,” and he went on to the next house. – When you think about it, you realize that people, including FSB-SVR types such as that fighter, are capable of behaving correctly. We all have to learn to live together, without compromising on our convictions.

  3. A fourth thing that is not happening today, Mr Green, is that voters, in significant and sufficient numbers, are not reading your blog, nor any of its commendable predecessor blogs.

  4. Thank you, excellent.

    I’d add another charge: the Tories’ deliberate neglect of the justice system (starting in 2010), by starving it of means; and later (2016 and 2019) first tolerating, and then encouraging, attacks on the judiciary.

    That was the embrace of populism.

  5. Another thing that is not happening is those voters that turned 18 in the over 2 and a half years since the 2017 vote will not have to wait until 2022 to cast their 1st GE vote.

    In fact, had May not lead her party into a needless minority, this election would have been taking place in 2025 (and the 2017 election would have occured in 2020). The turnout from these younger folk, could potentially have a significant impact on the outcome.

    And, for those with election fatigue, be grateful we are not having a third general election in one year, as is currently happening in Israel.

  6. I am afraid that the Tories I have met seem a bit dim. They can’t see or don’t want to see that the NHS is being sold off.

  7. This is sadly all too true, “Get Brexit Done” seeems to short circuit peoples’ brains. It will take years to “get done” unless we revoke.

  8. All so miserably true but one might as well hope nevertheless and fight on for intelligent discussion and behaviour, guided by DAG of course!

  9. Twelve hot takes for Christmas, following yesterday’s grim but predictable results.

    1) People prefer simple comforting lies to complex hard truths.

    2) People prefer the illusion of certainty over the certainty of uncertainty.

    3) Remain supporters (in the main) were not as committed to remaining as Leave supporters were to leaving. The six million who marched didn’t swing behind the one English Remain party.

    4) Our screwy first past the post system is once again in evidence (a convincing majority of MPs for the Tories, on 44% of the vote). Most notable in Scotland where the SNP racked up 48 seats on the back of just 1.5m votes (31,250 votes per MP). The LibDems with three times as many votes got just 11 MPs (318,000 votes per MP).

    5) Yes we will leave on 31 Jan 2020 (perhaps even before if that is permitted) but that won’t be the end of Brexit. We also might start to see some cracks appearing in the Tory camp IF the Withdrawal Agreement Bill gets anything other than scant scrutiny.

    6) The real – perhaps protracted battle – over the shape of our future relationship with the EU – is yet to be fought. Once again it will be fought within the Tory party. The more Brexit takes shape, the less people will like what they see or agree on what they actually want. Expect more cracks in the Tory camp as Northern MPs representing industrial regions feel the heat from constituents.

    7) The battle for our future relationship WON’T be with the EU. The EU is ready, prepared and reasonably united. There will be some rocky internal debates between members but they will be ironed out by the time the policy gets fed through to the negotiating teams. Don’t expect Johnson to lie down in front of the EU bulldozers.

    8) Whatever form of future Brexit takes, you can be sure that everyone who now claims they want it will denounce whatever version it takes (Norway ++ or Canada –) as the wrong type.

    9) The Tories will win the 2024 election – (if yesterday was a repeat of 1987, 2024 will be a repeat of 1992 – whether Johnson goes the way of Thatcher is another matter).

    10) The rump of the LibDems will ensure their continued irrelevance by campaigning for Return.

    11) The rump of the Labour party will tear itself apart. One half will tack further left (in the mistaken belief that they weren’t socialist enough for the UK electorate). The other half will try to work out whether to join the LibDems or find a new Tony Blair.

    12) If the SNP push for another independence vote, they will lose (the arguments against Brexit also apply to Scoxit). Scots will also appreciate that they have far more representation and influence in Westminster than they will ever have in the EU. Expect Johnson to offer the Scottish Parliament more autonomy and other goodies.

    Enough now (on twitter sabbatical until 6 Jan). Thank you David for all your posts. Best wishes for a peaceful Christmas and a hopeful New Year.


  10. Hi, Can you please verify whether there are any legal norms which apply to an individual being appointed to high Public Office (ie Prime Minister) while their conduct in public office are the subject of ongoing investigation (by a) the IOPC re criminality and suspended inquiries by b) the London Assembly Oversight Committee and c) London fire brigade general counsel Kathryn Robinson appointed by London Mayor Sadiq Khan)?

  11. One other thought. The Withdrawal Agreement Bill is yet to pass parliament. The Tories will try to railroad it through – but it might not be so easy. Not least because the ERG might see an opportunity to force a hard Brexit.

    No non-Tory MP should vote for the bill – under any circumstances. All opposition MPs should make it clear that this is a Tory Brexit. That if the Tories want, they must vote for it. And that the Tories will be solely responsible for all the consequences that flow from the bad Brexit that will follow.

    In particular, they should focus relentlessly on the Irish Sea border – what this will mean for intra-UK trade – particularly for the UK’s food manufacturing industry (the largest manufacturing sector). This will be neuralgic to many of the ERG fraternity – as well as the DUP. It drives a train through the idea of unionism.

    Johnson probably can count on loyalty at this stage – but the opposition could just, if they work hard, drive a wedge between him and his ERG ultras. It’s a long shot but the opposition should not give up just because of last week’s appalling defeat.

    Remember – we leave on 31 Jan by automatic operation of the law. If the ERG want to leave with the ‘pure’ no deal they keep calling for, they have only to vote down Johnson’s deal. Many of the new Tory MPs got in by appealing to ardent Leave supporters, many of whom want to leave with no deal.

    I know it won’t happen – but it’s fun to speculate on the bloodbath in Tory ranks if it did.

  12. Doesn’t this just show the power of voting! All those constitutional debates, supreme court decisions, bills rammed through with the Speaker’s co-operation, worries of civil unrest, all gone in a day. Harmony restored.

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