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Caroline Lucas’ plan to stop no deal Brexit is great – for the Greens, at least

The central problem with a government of national unity is that most of the people whod have to be i..

The central problem with a government of national unity is that most of the people whod have to be involved dont want one.

The Liberal Democrats dont want to support a government with Jeremy Corbyn at its head because they believe that it would imperil their chances of winning seats off the Conservatives at the next election, and that Jeremy Corbyn is unfit to be Prime Minister. The Labour leadership dont want to support a government without Jeremy Corbyn at its head because they fear that it would damage them politically, and create a precedent that could be used against Corbyn if Labour are the largest party, or enter government after the next election without a majority. Labour MPs dont want to support a government without Jeremy Corbyn at its head because they fear it will lead to them being deselected, or end their hopes of leading the Labour party permanently after Corbyn has gone.

These groups are in any case divided over what their preferred way of stopping no deal would actually be, and it is not clear that there are enough Conservative MPs to vote for any unity government to make the question anything other than academic.

That does not change simply by suggesting an all-female-reboot for the idea, as Caroline Lucas, the Greens sole MP, has done. But its a clever way to keep the Green party in the headlines by emphasising some of its different credentials. Although the party is not constitutionally obliged to have joint co-leaders, it has had a run of them for close to four years, and its candidate for the London mayoralty, many of its most highly-rated MEPs, its sole member of the House of Lords (and, Im told, its second member of the House of Lords, nominated by Theresa May in her resignation honours but not yet officially cleared by the new regime) are all women.

The idea reflects an underrated element of Lucas political skillset: keeping her party in the headlines through eyecatching measures – a tax on meat was one, and this was another – that reiterate the partys key messages.

That fact would be a source of considerable solace to me if I worked in Downing Street, and a subject of great worry if I worked in Jeremy Corbyns office. The nightmare scenario for Boris Johnson is that while the headline voting intention shows an opposition divided between Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens, tactical voting means that he loses seats to the Liberal Democrats in England and Wales, fails to make a breakthrough against Labour, and in addition is whomped in Scotland by the SNP.

That is less likely to happen if the Green party remains in the news and continues to be seen as viable entity, not just in safe seats where the outcome is up for grabs, but in marginal constituencies.

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The Scottish Labour Party is in crisis, and the Westminster mothership isn’t helping

What the hell is happening to the Scottish Labour Party? Its crisis – this abject and sustained coll..

What the hell is happening to the Scottish Labour Party? Its crisis – this abject and sustained collapse into near-obsolescence – is real and deep and profound and not obviously fixable. The party at Holyrood is in the hands of third-raters, a sort of soupy Corbynite claque lacking even the nous and brains of a John McDonnell or a Seumas Milne. It is treated with contempt by the mothership at Westminster, and is undergoing a talent drain of significant proportions. The future looks bleak indeed.

The ongoing scrap over the partys position on a second independence referendum has only further exposed the lack of authority of its Scottish leaders. First, shadow chancellor McDonnell used an appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe to cause some shock and not a little outrage when he said the “English parliament” would not stand in the way of another indyref if Holyrood demanded one: “We would not block something like that. We would let the Scottish people decide. That's democracy. There are other views within the party but that's our view.”

The angry response from within the Scottish party, which has lost a sizeable chunk of its traditional vote to the SNP over the past decade, was not faked. Caught in a squeeze between the pro-separation Nationalists and the stridently pro-Union Conservatives, confusion over Labours position on the most controversial and hotly-debated issue in Scottish politics is seismically unhelpful. Having its position dictated by London is not a good look, either.

Richard Leonard, the Scottish leader, may have sought to correct McDonnell by restating his opposition to a second vote, but he quickly had the rug pulled from under him by Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn publicly backed McDonnells position and said that while he was “not in favour” of Scottish independence, “it's not up to parliament to block it”.

The calculation among Corbyn et al is as transparent as it is cynical. Whatever Labours route to power, it is likely to need the votes of the SNP to get there. Nicola Sturgeon has made positive noises about backing a Corbyn premiership, but her price is likely to be another independence referendum. The Labour leadership are clearly happy to sell their Scottish colleagues down the river if it gets them into No 10. The further suspicion is that they anyway hold no great attachment to the integrity of the UK, regarding its make-up as an imperial hangover. A united Ireland and an independent Scotland would mean an end to all that.

For some of us this merely confirms their gross unfitness for office, and while one can understand the SNPs position it would be hard to forgive Sturgeon, who has led a relatively moderate, centrist regime in Edinburgh, if she put the hard left into power at Westminster.

But ultimately this is Labours mess, and Labours doing. A former Blair-era cabinet minister had his head in his hands recently when discussing the state of the Scottish party. “I just dont know how we come back from this,” he said. Leonard has been a catastrophically poor choice of leader, nervy, pink-faced, lacking charisma, with no pitch to mainstream Scotland, unable to land a punch on either of the formidable women leading his main rivals. Even then, its not clear who could replace him and make much of a difference. Talent has scarpered from both the candidates list and even the parliamentary party – Kezia Dugdale, Leonards well-liked predecessor, who is still only 37, has quit Holyrood to run the John Smith Centre for Public Service at Glasgow University. If youre a bright, young thing looking to carve out a career for yourself in Scottish politics youd be advised to give Labour a miss.

As the next Holyrood election draws near, Labours only hope for a decent result in 2021 seems to rest on the possibility of the two main parties blowing themselves up. Early next year, Sturgeon must endure the trial of her mentor Alex Salmond, who faces charges of sexual misconduct, including attempted rape. Holyrood is reverberating to rumours that the First Minister will end up collateral damage in the case. “She may well be gone by March”, one senior SNP MSP told me. Meanwhile, Ruth Davidsons Conservatives have lost much of their momentum due to Brexit and the arrival of Boris Johnson in Downing Street, neRead More – Source

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Italy’s Salvini agrees to let 27 minors off migrant ship

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Hong Kong’s divide: Protests for democracy, rally for China

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