17 October 2019
Diary of a Corbynista
by Don Urquhart
I was lucky enough to attend the UK premiere of Gavin Hood’s film Official Secrets, the true story of Iraq war whistleblower Kathy Gun. The first scene has Keira Knightley as Kathy watching Tony Blair on TV expounding his Weapons of Mass Destruction argument.
Tony Blair: What we know, is that Saddam has this material.
Kathy Gun: You don’t know that. I mean, he just keeps repeating the lie. Just because you’re the Prime Minister, it doesn’t mean you get to make up your own facts.
She proclaims him a liar and as we discover she has the facts to prove it. It’s a tense thriller – I will say no more about the plot, except to paraphrase producer Ged Doherty’s comment in the Q&A. He was asked what has changed since the Kathy Gun case and expressed the view that back then politicians were afraid of being caught out in a lie, whereas these days they just don’t care.
What struck me straight away after the Varadkar/Johnson meeting was that both were talking about obtaining an agreement by October 31st. I think this is a first as previously the deadline had been October 18th. There’s a lot of activity but is there really progress in coming up with a legal text that the 27 will agree to and the House of Commons support as well? All by October 19th!
On Newsnight, Mail journalist Harry Cole remarked that for once there was silence, no information coming out of No. 10 or Brussels. Could it be that they are actually negotiating? I guess there is a chance that Johnson has come up with an approach that the EU will agree, and also that he can get through the Commons. Harry Cole also said that he thought the legal text for this latest proposal has already been written. Whatever is in it, Johnson must know he is struggling to get it through the House on the 19th. My fear is that he will repeal the Benn Act if the supporters of his new proposal are naive enough. Once that is done it’s downhill to no deal.
The Daily Mirror reports on the ever larger class sizes in state schools. It highlights Broadclyst School in Exeter which has a classroom adapted for 67 pupils.
The Mirror quotes Alan Smithers, professor of education at Buckingham University:
Funding cuts and teacher shortages are pushing schools to ever larger class sizes.
Those who say that the quality of education can be maintained in such huge classes are mistaken. In some circumstances this can be made to work, but for young children personal attention is vital and they can get lost in large classes.
Private schools are so attractive to parents because of their class sizes, which are about 12 or 13 children to a teacher.
On the Today programme the Leader of the House of Commons helped us understand the Brexit situation:
The 31st is a real proper deadline. The Prime Minister is absolutely clear that we will leave by 31st October. I think that’s what the whole nation now wants us to do. They want this issue finished; they want it settled and therefore there is great urgency and the EU and the UK will have to move very quickly to make that work.
In the week, City AM published a dissenting opinion:
So far this year, only one poll came out in support of Leave, compared to 74 for Remain.
In Peaky Blinders, Luca Changretta, the mafia boss over from New York to conclude a vendetta with the Shelbys by wiping them out, takes a similar approach to Rees-Mogg:
Let’s get this business finished. Then we can all go home. Then we can eat some decent food.
I will not reveal how it ends for Luca but our sleepy toff would do well to check it out.
The Trump playbook says you shout loud what people want to hear, lambast critics of any kind as liars and traitors, use threats and bribes to remove obstacles. Cummings and Johnson are working this routine assiduously.
At some point before the weekend we will hear that the deal has been done and is perfect for the UK, totally reinforces the Good Friday Agreement, protects the Union, permits seamless trading relationships, is a platform for launching us into greatness, wealth, equality, wonderful domestic agenda, you name it.
Critics from all sides will be denounced, be they academics, journalists, MPs, lawyers or mass marchers. And the Billionaire Press, the broadcast media, BBC, ITV, LBC and Sky will be joining in the assault if they know what is good for them.
The little matter of the Surrender Act will come in for sneering derision.
Despite all this I am hoping that there are enough MPs with the backbone to point out that the House of Commons is not the Bullingdon Club and, while the Senior Common Room might characterise undergraduate lawbreaking as high spirits, the Supreme Court takes a dim view of a Prime Minister in contempt of parliament and the law.
As is my wont I settled to last Thursday’s international in Bulgaria, pint in hand and was horrified to hear the English fans chanting and whistling during the home team’s national anthem. Amid the virtue signalling by the great and good over the racism exhibited by home fans you might just catch reports that the English FA is also being investigated for the behaviour of our own supporters.
Also being played down in MSM Brexit reporting are suggestions that Johnson and Arlene Foster are busy working out the size of the DUP payoff for swallowing Johnson’s latest attempt at a deal.