A few reflections on the Supreme Court judgment

The effort to sideline Parliament and the judiciary and return huge tranches of unchallenged power to the Executive (interrupted thank heavens by yesterday’s court decision) might look a jolly wheeze when (from the point of view of those pushing this move) we have the ‘right’ kind of government and every prospect of it winning the next election given the disarray of the opposition. But one should always be wary of getting one’s way. Presuming we have left the EU on October 31, one scenario that seems likely to me is that the Conservatives will win an election later this year or early next year by taking a number of Labour marginals in the midlands and north while abandoning its toeholds in Scotland, London and perhaps (to an extent) the south west. But then things become more interesting. The current deliberate policy of alienating the centrist former Conservative voters by excising the one nation wing of the party will not be easy to reverse.

So when Brexit begins to fade in the public mind as an issue of ‘stay or go’ things will be more challenging. The general debate will move on to other policy areas while Brexit will morph into a judgment on David Davies’s promise that “There will be no downside to Brexit, only a considerable upside”. If, in this scenario, the Conservatives fail to win back their votes lost to the LibDems and (in London and maybe Scotland) Labour – which they will (heaven forbid if a single person should be found to have been unable to access vital medicine because of some hold-up at the ports, say) – then they will become reliant on holding those former Labour seats it won this year. In other words, they will have to abandon fiscal responsibility and govern like socialists. But as we know this does not work (and will alienate other elements of the right of the Party) – both in the sense of producing a sustainable economy but also because many Labour voters who may have held their nose and voted Conservative in a Brexit election would not ever do so again. (In 2017 we saw the former Labour vote which had shifted to UKIP in 2015 largely return to Labour, not the Conservatives).

And Labour have one huge electoral card to play. If they stop having Jeremy Corbyn as Leader and instead have any other person in Britain (except perhaps John McDonnell, George Galloway or Rolf Harris) their electoral prospects when the Brexit confusion is over will be transformed overnight. And it could well be a very left-wing Labour government that was elected in that scenario as Labour’s actual policies are every bit as populist (and unworkable of course) as Mr Johnson’s.

At this point the campaign to neuter the role of Parliament and the Courts, pitting both against ‘the people’, starts to look very silly. An incoming leftwing government would find it much easier in such circumstances say to appropriate private property (for example from public schools or privatised industries) with little or no compensation. Bennite/Corbynite Euroscepticism has always been fuelled by an anger that the EU would not allow a Labour government to ride roughshod over people’s rights.

The icing on the cake for the far Left of course would be if we pulled out of the European Court of Human Rights. We may get annoyed at particular decisions of the judiciary or indeed Parliament but we would be very foolish to forget why we – yes, we the people – spent centuries creating the current system.

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