Why is Theresa May being richly rewarded for doing exactly what Jeremy Corbyn is accused of - not putting her back into the Remain campaign?
In one sense it's perfectly logical, because pro-Europeanism is the centre of gravity in the Labour party and Euroscepticism is the centre of gravity in the Tory party, so you'd expect behaviour that is punished in one party to be rewarded in the other. But that doesn't get the media off the hook. I watched Robert Peston's interview with May on his Sunday show, and as far as I can remember he didn't even raise the issue of her total invisibility during the referendum campaign, or challenge her on whether she is partly responsible for Britain leaving the European Union and her party getting into this mess in the first place.
Why was there such a ludicrously unbalanced panel on last night's BBC Scotland debate?
This is just a guess, but I think I've worked it out. The starting-point was probably that the referendum campaign is now over and that we're back to normal party politics, so an invitation was issued to the three largest parties - SNP, Tory and Labour. But then they realised that it would be a bit silly to have an all-Remain panel, so they also invited the head of the Leave campaign's Scottish branch to provide some balance. That sounds fine until you remember that the head of the Leave campaign's Scottish branch is Tom "Bomber Admin" Harris, who was a Labour MP until just over a year ago. Once you do remember that, really it should dawn on you that the whole panel-making process has gone horribly wrong, and that you just can't go ahead with a debate dominated by discussion on the EU referendum and independence if the panel is composed of 3 anti-independence politicians and 1 pro-independence politician, and 3 Remainers and 1 Leaver. It's also hard to see how Scotland's third largest party could possibly be entitled to half of the entire panel.
In spite of everything, though, it's just as well that Adam "IT'S THE LAW!!!!!" Tomkins was there, because the comic relief came entirely from that trusty direction. He reassured us that all of the Tory leadership candidates apart from the one who is expected to win
have promised that EU citizens can stay in this country. What a relief! And he spent much of the programme disagreeing violently with just about everything Michael Gove has ever said (he dismissed Gove's promises about devolving powers over immigration, for instance) before confirming that, naturally, he'd be backing Gove as leader because (wait for it) he wanted a "liberal" in the job. Well, why not? Tomkins is Scotland's leading self-styled "expert", and Gove is the man who doesn't listen to experts, A match made in heaven.
On a more serious note, I think we got a good indication from Tomkins of what the Scottish Tory strategy is going to be over the coming months. He started the programme by claiming to broadly agree with Fiona Hyslop's stance on exploring every option to keep Scotland in Europe, before waffling at length about a number of vague options that would not actually involve Scotland staying in the European Union
, and that would probably fall well short of even the Norway or Swiss models. Clearly we're going to see an attempt to conflate any sort of loose Britain-EU trade deal with the concept of "keeping Scotland in Europe". We mustn't let them get away with that kind of disingenuous language.
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I spoke to my Hungarian friend again, and she made the point that it's not really that much help to be told that Britain is still in the European Union and that the rights of EU citizens haven't been affected for now
, because any employer trying to fill a vacancy is bound to take the longer-term uncertainty into account when making their choice. Interestingly, she doesn't blame Theresa May for stoking that uncertainty, because she reckons that it's not possible for any promises to be made until a comprehensive deal is thrashed out with the EU. I'm not sure that's true, actually - if Britain is going to control its own immigration policy, it should be perfectly possible to give a categorical assurance to EU citizens right now.
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What do Nigel Farage and Bob Monkhouse have in common? They're both famous for using the line "they're not laughing now", and for the fact that people were laughing when they said it.
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Today is a red letter day - it's the first time in twenty-one years (since the freak show of Major v Redwood) that there's been an internal party ballot to choose the Prime Minister. It's also only the third Tory leadership contest to be held in the reality TV era, so I trust we'll be hearing the following tonight -
"Tory Madhouse, this is the chairman of the 1922 Committee, please do not swear. Michael! Theresa! Liam! Andrea! And Stephen! MPs have been voting all day, and I can now reveal that the first candidate to leave the Tory Madhouse is..."