As we steel ourselves for the wretched purgatorial misery of (at least) the next six weeks, we’ve been sitting up late trying to think of a positive aspect of the coming election campaign, and the best we’ve come up with is this: if it’s awful for most human beings in the country, just imagine how terrible it is for Nigel Farage
Because as has been increasingly obvious from the Brexit Party leader’s comments this month, Farage knows only too well the truth that the rest of the country is going to realise quite soon, if it hasn’t already: he’s now the only thing that might stop the UK leaving the European Union.
The Tories’ average opinion poll lead at the moment is around 12 points, which would normally be enough to secure a crushing victory under Britain’s antiquated electoral system, especially as Labour and the Lib Dems hate each other too much to form any sort of meaningful tactical Remain alliance.
Jeremy Corbyn wants Brexit to happen so that he can pick up the pieces – he just doesn’t want to be responsible for it,
hence the extraordinary reluctance with which the official Opposition had to be bounced into having an election. It knows there isn’t a hope in hell of anyone with Corbyn’s personal ratings ever being elected Prime Minister with a majority unless there’s been some sort of apocalypse first.
(Corbyn himself is so hopelessly deluded we suspect he still thinks he can get through this campaign talking about austerity and stuff, rather than Brexit.)
Labour’s official policy is a shambles of months more negotiating and voting, somehow leading to a magically “good” Brexit. The Lib Dems, meanwhile, keep flapping around between a People’s Vote and instant revocation of Article 50, but also have no chance of winning the election so it doesn’t really matter what they want – the only significance of their position is that it’s so far from Labour’s it’s almost impossible for voters to vote tactically, because it won’t be at all clear what they’re voting tactically for.
The SNP, on the other hand, are such a hot mess they abstained on their own vote last night, and having voted to block a 12 December election on Monday they crowed that it was their intervention that had, um, brought about a 12 December election on Tuesday. Even though they left it to the MPs of other parties to actually do it.
But they have the advantage of the clearest position of any party in the next six weeks (faint praise indeed). For supporters of independence, it’s an absolute no-brainer to vote SNP in this election
. No other vote can bring a Yes vote closer in an FPTP election, and even for the many voters alienated by aspects of the party’s domestic agenda there’s no real downside to electing SNP MPs at Westminster, where they can do very little harm in terms of giving rapists access to vulnerable women and whatnot.
The Brexit Party, however, are in the trickiest position of all
, and they know it. It’s all but a given that the Tories are going to lose seats to the Lib Dems and SNP, and it’s not easy to see where they’ll pick up many from elsewhere to compensate.
If those losses are exacerbated by Farage’s team splitting the Brexit vote in Tory/Lib Dem marginals, there’s a (slim) chance that a coalition between two or all three of the other parties might be able to form a viable government that would stop Brexit altogether, either directly or via (God have mercy on us all) another referendum.
From a Brexit point of view, there are two obvious solutions. One is a pact where TBP only stands in northern Leave seats that might shy away from voting Tory but would be willing to go for someone else to get Brexit done, and that the Tories give them a clear run, while the Brexit Party leaves the Tories to fight the Con/LD marginals. Farage has repeatedly suggested this idea but been unequivocably rebuffed.
The other option is that TBP simply stands aside. Johnson still has the confidence of Brexiters, who overwhelmingly feel that he’s doing everything possible to deliver Brexit but being frustrated by Parliament. He’s achieved the unlikely feat of getting the EU to sort-of renegotiate the deal, albeit only by caving in on nearly everything and going back to the deal the EU wanted in the first place.
In the absence of a pact,the Brexit Party can now only harm the prospects of Brexit. Farage is staring at the possibility of having won a referendum on his life’s ambition, only to then see defeat snatched from the jaws of victory by his own ego. You’d need a heart of stone not to laugh, frankly, except that his failure would also be ours
) - [OUTCOME: NO INDYREF.]
.... For most of us, they might as well have the election tomorrow and get it over with. The only person with a difficult dilemma to wrestle with over the coming weeks is Mr Farage. And for that, and so many other reasons, we don’t envy him.