Time For Another Labour Coup

Nine months ago today I confidently predicted that Jeremy Corbyn would resign.

I made this prediction because it seemed like the only realistic option. I noted that he would be leading without the confidence of his Parliamentary colleagues, that he wouldn’t be able to fully staff a front-bench, and that his leadership would become bogged down in local internal Labour politics at the branch level.

I said the Government would be able to dismiss anything he said in the House of Commons and that he would become a national joke.

I wrote:

In Corbyn, people will see a small, stubborn man unwilling to accept the reality of his situation; a ‘leader’ without followers, organising rallies about how great he is while his party withers. People might like Corbyn. They might even blame the PLP for a week or two. But after a while, all the public will remember is that the Labour Leader is the person who failed but didn’t take responsibility and didn’t resign.

PMQs will become a weekly torture. Mock the Week will make the Corbyn zombie leadership a constant joke. He’ll enter British cultural slang. ‘Corbyn’ will forever mean a leader without followers, a delusional refusal to accept reality, destroying one of the UK’s great political parties in a tragic murder-suicide. It will enter the political lexicon alongside Lansbury, Eden and Duncan Smith as examples of failed leadership.

And all of the above will carry on for FOUR YEARS. Four years of a Shadow Cabinet of 40. Four years of deselections, reselections, protests and rallies and threats. Four years of the Tories being able to laugh in the faces of the Official Opposition in Parliament and of the country laughing and despairing of Jeremy Corbyn in newspaper columns, TV comedy and even down the pub. Four years in which to kill off the Labour Party.

If Jeremy Corbyn stays on — whether he wins another leadership election or whether he avoids a challenge — this is the picture.

Reading back, I was correct in every respect except one. Jeremy Corbyn did not resign. He stayed. He is staying. And Labour is dying with him.

The conventional wisdom for a long time was that Labour had a hard vote-share floor of about 26% — people who’d vote Labour if it was led by Idi Amin or a tub of lard. Barring a party split, Labour would be wounded but limp on.

That wisdom is shifting. Labour is regularly polling 25% or lower in some polls now, while the Conservative Party picks up UKIP voters giving them a comfortable 15%+ lead.

And there’s every reason to think these polls are flattering Labour. Historically, polls have tended to overstate Labour’s vote-share. A YouGov poll today shows that more people voted for Labour in 2015 think Theresa May is a more suitable PM than Jeremy Corbyn than vice versa. More than half of current Labour supporters won’t say they prefer Corbyn to May, with many unsure.

When it comes to polling day, some of these people won’t be able to bring themselves to vote for Corbyn’s Labour party. 20% is no longer a ridiculous vote-share for Labour. Meanwhile, the Tories are closing on 45%.

The Invisible Opposition

Labour has disappeared from the public discourse altogether. After Corbyn’s expected second leadership victory, Labour MPs decided to stop publicly opposing him, but his naturally-terrible political instincts, his abysmal office staff (led by Seumas Milne and Karie Murphy) and his poor delivery have left the party leaderless and invisible.

Today was a prime example. Theresa May sent the formal letter starting the process of the UK leaving the European Union. Clearly, no other political news today will get any coverage. It’s wall-to-wall Brexit. But Corbyn chose to use all six of his questions at PMQs to ask about funding cuts, guaranteeing that nobody would notice them at all. His later response to May’s Brexit statement was shouty and ranty about stopping Britain being a tax haven or something, but there was no forensic questioning, no intellectual depth, no clever gotchas, just a lot of angry waffle.

This is especially frustrating because the Government is like a diamond: hard, shiny and impressive-looking, but deeply fragile and with an artificially-inflated value. It has a small working majority with rebels from both the moderate Cameroonie tendency and the Eurosceptic ultras. It is internally split between the True Believers (Davis, Fox) and the pragmatists (Hammond). Its agenda, ‘Mayism’ I suppose, is basically Brownism/Milibandism repackaged in a nativist blue box.

Already, the Government has been forced into retreats on big issues like National Insurance increases for the self-employed because it can’t guarantee a majority in the Commons for them.

A hard-hitting opposition could shatter this Government into pieces. But there is no such opposition. There’s no opposition at all.

Corbynism is eating itself

In the meantime, Corbynism is eating itself. Hard Left MPs like Clive Lewis are considered traitors for not sharing Corbyn’s position on Brexit. Owen Jones is branded a crypto-Blairite for pointing out Labour’s awful polling position and suggesting alternatives. Momentum has split into two warring camps each claiming to be the authentic organisation. Staff keep resigning from the The Leader’s office amid reports of bullying. And everyone is talking about the McDonnell Amendment.

The McDonnell Amendment is a rule-change proposal that would let an MP run for Labour Leader with the support of only 5% of Labour MPs’ nominations. The Hard Left needs this rule if they want another Hard Left candidate to replace Corbyn when he does, eventually, step down. Even many of Corbyn’s public backers say he’s only hanging about until he can ensure his successor is from the Hard Left. He’ll go once the McDonnell amendment passes and Rebecca Long-Bailey or whoever can be crowned.

The McDonnell Amendment needs to get though Labour Conference. This is overall unlikely to happen. Between reps from the moderate Unions and Momentum’s relative weakness at the CLP level, the Hard Left don’t have the numbers.

So forget the McDonnell Amendment. And no McDonnell amendment seems likely to mean Corbyn stays — trapped by Milne and McDonnell and the handful of nutcases who cannot and will not give up control of the Labour Party after 100 years of Labour leaders that they consider dangerously right-wing.

And so Labour sinks, slowly and quietly. It lost a by-election to the incumbent Government, something that just shouldn’t happen to the main opposition. People laugh at the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn ever being Prime Minister. Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition is a joke.

Opposition Matters Now

Opposition should matter now because, unusually in politics, irrevocable decisions are being made. The Government is going into Brexit negotiations seeking to leave not just the EU but also the European Economic Area and the European Customs Union. Many supporters of leaving the EU argued at the time against leaving the EEA, and almost nobody even mentioned the Customs Union.

New treaties will need to be negotiated, with the EU and other countries. Huge amounts of EU law will need to be either replicated in statute or changed wholesale.

The only serious pressure on Theresa May comes from the Tory Right and the Brexit-mad papers. If the UK had had a functioning opposition for the last year, it’s possible that she would have felt pressured (or able) to take a more moderate path.

What’s to be done?

Nine months ago, Labour MPs voted en masse that they had no confidence in Corbyn’s leadership of the Parliamentary Labour Party. Most of the Shadow Cabinet resigned. Jeremy Corbyn did not resign.

The MPs forced a new leadership election and united behind a single candidate from the Soft Left. I argued that this challenge was a mistake, but I understand why the PLP felt they had to offer an alternative. However, all the challenge did was renew Corbyn’s mandate, scare off more moderate members from the party, energise the Corbynite wing and bolster the ‘traitor’ narrative.

The MPs decided to keep quiet, stop criticising Corbyn and even serve in his Shadow Cabinet again. But this didn’t stop the ever-shriller cries of betrayal from Corbynites who insist that Labour is being sabotaged by #chickencoup #blairite #redtory #traitors.

Then, a few weeks ago, following Jeremy Corbyn’s tacit support of a second Scottish independence referendum, some MPs broke ranks and began criticising the leader again. But not very many and not very loudly.

Thinking too small

Labour MPs are thinking too small. They had a moment of bravery nine months ago, a moment where they understood the existential threat to the party. But then they got distracted by an unwinnable leadership challenge and decided that silence and acquiescence were a strategy. They aren’t.

So something must be done. Waiting until Jeremy Corbyn resigns after a 2020 election defeat is not good enough.

First, there’s no guarantee he will resign. Without the McDonnell Amendment, he may feel that he should stay on even then to keep Labour in the hands of the Hard Left.

Secondly, the party will be drubbed in that 2020 election and lots of the current MPs will lose their seats.

Finally and most urgently, the UK needs Opposition and it needs it now, not after the next election. There is no time to wait and no time to lose.

If Labour MPs are brave, unified and creative there are things they can do. They can elect their own leader of the PLP and seek to have him or her designated the Leader of the Opposition. Oh, and elect a Shadow Cabinet for good measure. Will the Labour party NEC really expel, say, 150 of its own MPs if they did this?

Or they could go on strike, picket Corbyn’s office, withdraw all cooperation. Force him to cross a picket line to get into his suite in Norman Shaw.

Or follow the example of Cato and finish every speech in the house with ‘and may I just add that Jeremy Corbyn should resign for the good of the Party and the county”.

And there’s always the nuclear option: resign the whip, form a new Parliamentary faction or full-blown political party and just start opposing.

The damage may be done

Yes, many of these options will result in MPs being de-selected by angry Momentum-controlled CLPs. Some of them will damage the Labour Party.

Tough. The party may already be lost. If Corbyn was taken ill tomorrow and a moderate became leader because no Hard Left candidate got on the ballot, the Revolutionary Guard of Momentum would wreak a long and painful revenge: de-selections, constant smears and a betrayal narrative that could poison the party forever.

The old Labour Party is dead. Whatever happens next, even the best-case scenario will be nasty and messy. Accept that, and maybe the risks become worth taking.

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Four More Years? Why Jeremy Corbyn will resign

Labour MPs began their move against Jeremy Corbyn partly because they were worried about a snap General Election in October or November, called by new Prime Minister Boris Johnson to strengthen his mandate, taking advantage of the weak Labour party to increase his small majority. The other consideration is that the short time until the election would make it impossible for Momentum to deselect Labour MPs and select far-Left replacements.

First Hilary Benn was fired by Jeremy Corbyn in the middle of the night after expressing his concern with Corbyn’s leadership. Then a significant chunk of the Shadow Cabinet resigned while the Parliamentary Labour Party prepared a vote of no confidence in Corbyn’s leadership of the PLP. Shadow ministers kept resigning, all explaining that they didn’t feel Mr Corbyn could win a general election and calling on him to go. Labour in the Lords announced it would no longer follow the Labour whip, essentially declaring independence. Yesterday, 172 of Labour’s 230ish MPs voted that they have no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn as leader. Only 40 voted to support him, a mere 17% of the Parliamentary Labour Party. And now members of half-complete new Shadow Cabinet, appointed on Monday, have also begun to resign.

No Confidence

Any leader with any decency, honour or common sense would, now, resign. Mr Corbyn cannot fill a shadow front bench. He cannot lead Labour in Parliament.

And this means Jeremy Corbyn cannot become Prime Minister, because the UK is a Parliamentary democracy, and the Prime Minister becomes Prime Minister by commanding the confidence of the House of Commons. If there was a general election in October and Labour somehow won 400 seats, Jeremy Corbyn would only have the confidence of some 200 of them. He wouldn’t be able to govern. He wouldn’t be able to fill a Cabinet either. Ultimately, in those circumstances, another Labour MP would be forced to form a Government.

But this is all if there’s an October 2016 election. Only 48 hours ago, everyone thought that this was more likely than not. Since then, though, both Boris Johnson and Stephen Crabb, two of the leading candidates to be the next Conservative leader and PM, have both said they wouldn’t seek an early election, meaning that the Parliament could be allowed to run on to May 2020.

Jeremy Corbyn has not resigned. Jeremy Corbyn still says that he’s not planning to resign. He insists that he will only be ousted by a leadership challenger defeating him in a contested election which he expects to win.

I’m not sure that he’ll find a campaign so easy as the first time. It’ll likely be a head-to-head against one candidate, either Tom Watson or Angela Eagle, with the whole soft left, Blairites, Brownites and Spellarite old right united behind them. But the election will come down to competing membership drives between the Corbynites and everyone else, and ultimately I think that Corbyn has the edge.

So let’s play it out. If Jeremy Corbyn faces down his leadership critics and either avoids or wins a leadership challenge, what happens next?

Jeremy Corbyn still won’t have the confidence of his colleagues

Winning another leadership election, or holding on without one, magically mean that the 170+ members of the Parliamentary Labour Party will have confidence in him or his leadership. That bridge is burnt. Mr Corbyn faces four years leading a party with only 40 allies to send on to TV shows to defend him,

Jeremy Corbyn’s front bench will be hugely overworked

The normal size of the Opposition Front Bench is something like 75 MPs, shadowing Secretaries of State, Ministers and Parliamentary Under-Secretaries and Parliamentary Private Secretaries. They need to be in the House of Commons for ministerial Question Times, debates and statements by their opposites. They need to propose amendments to legislation. They need to lead for the opposition at Westminster Hall debates.

Outside of Parliament, they have to represent their policy areas at conferences, think-tank events and Party commissions. They have to appear on the news when their policy area is in the national eye.

Jeremy Corbyn only has 40 MPs — including himself — who voted to express confidence in his leadership. It’s become clear that he will not be able to appoint a full front bench team, and will force shadow ministers to double-up on jobs. His office is briefing that he might reduce the size of the Shadow Cabinet.

But these 40 brave souls will be chronically overworked, and struggle to fulfil their parliamentary and political duties. The Official Opposition will spend four years operating at half-strength at best, without being able to rely on planted questions among friendly backbenchers.

He’ll be too busy trying to oust his own MPs

Corbyn’s team have been busily briefing that there will be ‘consequences’ for the MPs that don’t back him. He is widely expected to reform the party rules to give the membership control over party policy (rather than the current system of a Policy Forum and annual Conference) and make it easier for activists to deselect centrist MPs.

Mandatory re-selection or easier deselection drive extremism in politics, as we’ve seen in the USA, where the primary system benefits extreme candidates versus moderates. It forces MPs to focus on appeasing their most extreme local elements rather than representing their broad constituency. It makes local politics much nastier. And it’s the holy grail of the Labour Hard Left, who want to purge out the current Parliamentary Party and replace the MPs with more ideologically-suitable candidates (which means the sort of people who sold me newspapers at university).

So 80% of Labour MPs will be fighting selection battles against their party leadership. If they lose, then the Labour Party will run someone else in that seat. Until then, many of these MPs will face Momentum protests outside their offices and harassment on social media. Some might decide to stand as independents. Some of them will win as independents, and others will split the vote and Labour will lose. Some of the new candidates, lacking the incumbency advantage of a sitting, locally-popular MP, will lose Labour seats it would otherwise have won.

All of this will also need attention from the leadership. Momentum can’t do it all. Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell will have to travel to the constituencies to promote their challengers. It’s another major distraction to the business of opposition.

The Government can ignore him

Every Prime Ministers’ Questions, Corbyn will stand up and challenge Boris or Theresa or whoever it is, but every week all the PM will have to say is

“the Right Honourable Member can’t even command the confidence 20% of his own Members. He needs to do the honourable thing for his party and his country and resign”

And that’s that. The same will apply to his Shadow Cabinet, to his policy initiatives, to anything. Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Parliamentary Labour Party is over, and he will be easily brushed aside in the national debate.

He’ll be a national joke

Worse, though, is that Jeremy Corbyn will morph from the honest, honourable kind man of the public imagination into a national joke.

I never bought into the myth of honourable Corbyn, seeing how he twisted and lied and obfuscated during the leadership campaign, and how he’s intimidated and threatened his Labour colleagues in the last year. But any trace of that image will disappear.

It’s hard to emphasise how important resignation is to the British genius. It’s part of what it means to be British. When you lose, you resign. When you win, but not by enough, you resign. When you’ve lost the confidence of your boss, your colleagues or your employees, you resign. Britain, for all of the criticism of a culture of blaming others, has a culture of taking responsibility and leaving with dignity. David Cameron resigned. Margaret Thatcher resigned after winning a majority of her MPs’ support but not a big enough majority. Tony Blair agreed to step down after a letter from just 17 MPs. That’s the British way.

In Corbyn, people will see a small, stubborn man unwilling to accept the reality of his situation; a ‘leader’ without followers, organising rallies about how great he is while his party withers. People might like Corbyn. They might even blame the PLP for a week or two. But after a while, all the public will remember is that the Labour Leader is the person who failed but didn’t take responsibility and didn’t resign.

PMQs will become a weekly torture. Mock the Week will make the Corbyn zombie leadership a constant joke. He’ll enter British cultural slang. ‘Corbyn’ will forever mean a leader without followers, a delusional refusal to accept reality, destroying one of the UK’s great political parties in a tragic murder-suicide. It will enter the political lexicon alongside Lansbury, Eden and Duncan Smith as examples of failed leadership.

This will last for FOUR YEARS

And all of the above will carry on for four years. Four years of a Shadow Cabinet of 40. Four years of deselections, reselections, protests and rallies and threats. Four years of the Tories being able to laugh in the faces of the Official Opposition in Parliament and of the country laughing and despairing of Jeremy Corbyn in newspaper columns, TV comedy and even down the pub. Four years in which to kill off the Labour Party.

If Jeremy Corbyn stays on — whether he wins another leadership election or whether he avoids a challenge — this is the picture.

Even Jeremy Corbyn is human, despite what his more-ardent fans might insist. Nobody would be able to withstand this. The psychological strain of becoming a national joke while destroying the political party to which you’ve given your life would be unbearable.

Right now, in the heat of the EU aftermath with the resignations still fresh, maybe he’s digging in with his closest advisers. Perhaps the Chilcott report will buy him a few weeks. Maybe he could even make it through the summer recess. But the idea of Jeremy Corbyn remaining the leader of the Labour party is now ludicrous.

Ironically, the only thing that could save him now is a leadership challenge. An identifiable enemy, a new campaign, a new target and dynamic could buy Corbyn some time. But even if he won the campaign and got his famous ‘mandate’, he’d be right back where he started because none of the dynamics above would have changed.

And so now we wait. Hours, days or weeks, but Jeremy Corbyn will resign because his other options are much worse.

Thanks to Jay Stoll who pointed out that some MPs had started to worry about what happens if there’s no 2016 election. Originally published on Medium

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New coalition, new negotiations

So Avigdor Liberman is Israel’s new Defence Minister, right..? Well, not yet. Negotiations are ongoing for the now-5-seat Israel Beiteinu to join the coalition, with Liberman getting Defence and some sort of vote on the use of death penalty in military courts which might or might not actually happen.

But one big ‘red line’ remains. Liberman wants substantial increases in pensions for Russian olim, costing something like a billion shekels. This is in many ways a good policy to lift people out of poverty, but it faces two problems. One is that it’s hard to justify applying it only to Russian olim and not, say, Ethiopian or Argentinian or French olim — which means it might end up being expanded by the Supreme Court and costing even more.

The other problem is that the budget is controlled, in the first instance, by Moshe Kahlon of the Kulanu party, who said he supports widening the coalition but not at any price. He opposes the plan, and claims it is discriminatory. According to one report, Kahlon said Netanyahu would have to fire him to get his billion shekels.

Then there’s Bayit Yehudi. The party voted unanimously at today’s faction meeting that it would only vote for the wider coalition if the recommendations of the report into the 2014 Defensive Edge war were accepted in full. The report, due out tomorrow, has been substantially leaked and is expected to be highly critical of Netanyahu, Yaalon and the way decisions were taken. Bennett in particular is demanding that the Security Cabinet is given fuller intelligence briefings. Likud MKs have reacted angrily to Bennett’s conditions.

The report is due out tomorrow and I’ve already seen speculation that the reason Netanyahu was so willing to oust Yaalon is because it will insulate him from some of the criticism. Other cynics have suggested that the new coalition deal will be signed minutes before/after the report is released.

And then, hovering in the background of all of this, is the French peace initiative, which will formally start with a multilateral conference in early June with various Foreign Ministers. John Kerry is now expected to attend, but Israelis and Palestinians are not invited.

And despite everything, Netanyahu is still saying that he wants Labour/the Zionist Union to join the coalition, and that he’s not appointing a Foreign Minister for this reason. This seems doubly unlikely, now that ZU Leader Isaac Herzog has refused to conduct any more negotiations, and because Herzog might find himself forced out of the party leadership for holding coalition talks in the first place.

More likely, he’s holding the role (and several others like the Economy Ministry) because appointing anyone would necessitate a whole Government reshuffle, and he’s not willing to go through all that again. The question for the next couple of days is how long Netanyahu will keep his newest job – as acting Defence Minister.

Meanwhile, two Knesset members resigned in the last week: Moshe Yaalon and UTJ’s Meir Porush, who remains a deputy-Minister but left the Knesset to allow a Degel HaTorah member to take his place as part of some sort of deal inside the smaller parties that make up UTJ. Two more are considering leaving – Miki Zohar and Ayoub Kara, both current Likud members. The current Knesset has been seated for a little over a year, but it’s had a remarkably high number of resignations.

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Israel: What if there’s no coalition by tomorrow’s deadline?

The state of play

Yesterday, Yisrael Beiteinu rejected the offer of joining the next Israeli Government. Likud immediately signed a coalition agreement with Shas, leaving them with 53 coalition members and only one open negotiation – with Naftali Bennett and Jewish Home.

A couple of weeks ago, Bennett announced that handing over the Religious Affairs Ministry to Shas would mean the end of negotiations with Jewish Home. Well, that’s happened. Shas has the Ministry, and even got a control of the appointment of judges to the Rabbinic courts via the Justice Ministry.

Jewish Home was offered the Education Ministry and Diaspora Ministry for Bennett, the Culture and Sport Ministry for Ayelet Shaked, Agriculture and the settlement affairs division for Uri Ariel and (I think) a deputy defence minister. Then Liberman’s resignation shook things up. Suddenly there’s an extra senior role – Foreign Minister – up for grabs. Jewish Home was already unhappy with the coalition offer, but is now also insulted that the Foreign Minister role, originally denied to Naftali Bennett partly because Benjamin Netanyahu needed to keep Liberman on-board, is not being offered to Jewish Home.

Last night Likud gave Jewish Home’s negotiators an ultimatum – take our offer or leave it. After midnight, the Jewish Home faction meeting instructed Naftali Bennett to take over negotiating personally, also implying that they were calling Likud’s bluff. Jewish Home is now demanding that Bennett becomes either Foreign or Defence Minister or that Shaked is made Justice Minister.

Since then, apparently, Naftali Bennett is unreachable and has turned off his phone. Now, with 28 hours left until the expiry of the deadline to form a government, a major disagreement has still not been resolved and time is running out.


Most likely, someone will compromise and a deal will be done. I suspect that Likud is in a stronger position than Jewish Home, but we’ll see. But what if there isn’t a deal by Midnight on Thursday?

The law is simple, clear – and widely misunderstood.

By midnight on Thursday (ie Wednesday night), Netanyahu will have to do one of three things:

  1. Call President Reuven Rivlin and tell him that he has failed to form a Government that can win the confidence of the Knesset. If this happens, the President would ask someone else — almost certainly Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog — to try and form a coalition. This would almost certainly fail because the numbers aren’t there. There are provisions for a third MK to have a try, but if that doesn’t work then there are automatic new elections 90 days or so after the end of the road. New elections would mean new primaries, especially for Likud and Labour/Zionist Union. Both parties might face leadership challenges. Things could get very interesting and very messy, or nothing much could change.
  2. Do nothing. If Netanyahu doesn’t call Rivlin at all it’s considered that he failed to form a government and things proceed exactly as at point 1.
  3. Tell the President that he has formed government.

If Mr Netanyahu tells Rubi Rivlin that he has formed a government, then a new timer starts – 7 days. The Speaker of the Knesset (Likud MK Yuli Edelstein) must schedule a vote on the new government within 7 days of the announcement. However, Netanyahu doesn’t have to announce the full make-up of the Government to Rivlin, and Rivlin doesn’t have to check that it’s true, meaning that negotiations could continue for another week.

Those negotiations could be aimed at bringing either Jewish Home into a 61-seat coalition or the Zionist Union into a National Unity Government. But they could also theoretically be aimed at seeking support for the 53-member coalition as it stands today.

It works like this: The new government is presented to the Knesset. This is the actual government, the list of ministers and deputy-ministers, not the coalition: a government of twenty-something MKs. That list must be passed by a simple majority of the Knesset. It doesn’t need 61 votes. It just needs more MKs to vote for it than vote against it.

Could Netanyahu win support for a minority government? It’s possible. Jewish Home might be able to stay out of the coalition but I’m not sure they can directly vote to bring down Bibi and give Herzog a chance without damaging themselves in a second election. The same logic applies to Yisrael Beiteinu.

That would leave things exactly balanced: 14 MKs abstaining, 53 MKs voting for the government and 53 (from the ZU, Meretz, Yesh Atid and the Joint List) who would probably vote against.

If Likud can convince one extra MK to abstain then he has a Government. It’d be a dysfunctional, weak government that wouldn’t last very long until it needed more parties to join and support it. But so’s the 61-seat coalition deal with Jewish Home.

In those circumstances, the Zionist Union or (more likely) Yesh Atid might decide to allow Netanyahu to form a weak minority government in the hope of bringing him down later. Or they might just vote the government down, sending us back to Step 1 above.

Most likely, of course, is the 61-seat deal with Bennett sooner or later. It should all become clear by tomorrow night. Or in a week. Or so.

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Top 20 crazy and funny-named parties in the 2015 General Election

Conservatives. Labour. Liberal Democrats. Scotish National Party. UKIP.


Luckily, there are loads of parties standing candidates in the UK’s 2015 General Election. Here’s the 20 most interesting, funny and crazy-sounding parties, taken from this rather longer list of all ‘micro parties’. Read on:


1. (An) Independence From Europe

This breakaway party from UKIP founded by former MEP Mike Nattrass is best-known for having a silly and confusing name, stealing an old UKIP ad in 2014, and for confusing some UKIP voters into voting for it by mistake.


2. Above and Beyond – Demanding a New Vision for Politics – Trying To Fix A Broken System



The Above and Beyond Party has the longest full name of any of the parties, a logo, a website and is contesting 5 seats. It has only one policy – that there should be a “none of the above” option on General Election ballot papers and that this would fix politics, somehow.


3. Al-Zebabist Nation of OOOG

The party with the strangest name, the Al-Zebabist Nation of OOOG claims to be a “registered political party and growing religious movement” with a “divine mission to free the Afro-Thanetian Zaliphate from the grips of Broadstafarian and English hegemony” and urges “Renounce Your White Skin”. Russia Today profiles the party:

‘Led by Prophet Zebadiah Abu Obadiah, real name Robert Bealer, the Al-Zebab party is campaigning for the separation of Thanet from England, the banning of “hetro-marriage,” the legalization of heroin and the consumption dog meat.

One of their most controversial policies calls for the complete eradication of Broadstairs, a small coastal town in Thanet, which Al-Zebab says is rife with “racist and fascist ideology.”

The party also campaign for tax breaks for bearded families. Children and women will have to wear fake beards, Zebadiah said.’

In case it isn’t clear, the whole thing is a joke designed to troll UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who is the candidate in South Thanet.


4. Beer, Baccy and Scratchings

Originally the Beer, Baccy and Crumpet party, the Beer, Baccy and Scratchings party was forced to change its name because the Electoral Commission decided that the word ‘crumpet’ was obscene and demeaning to women. Its leader Ray Hall is contesting Eastleigh.


5. Children of the Atom

A one-man party which wants to replace all money with a new type of ‘debt-free’ currency and radically reduce the population. The party website claims “We are rewriting our manifesto because people just didn’t get it”


6. Eccentric Party of GB

Lord Toby Jug and some other guy

A Raving-Loony-style party running against Boris Johnson in Uxbridge. The candidate, Lord Toby Jug, is campaigning to get no votes at all, after betting against himself at 50/1.


7. Hoi Polloi

Another one-man party, Geoff Moseley is a photographer who’s contesting Hornsey and Wood Green for the second time. I just liked the party name – Hoi Palloi literally means “the people”.


8. Justice for Men and Boys (and the women who love them)

A Mens-Rights anti-feminist party, Justice for Men and Boys thinks that women are the problem. Policies include massively restricting abortion, banning circumcision and enforcing child-support payments when the father has signed a written agreement to support the child. But at least they have a funny and somewhat creepy name.


9. Magna Carta Conservation Party Great Britian




I’d hoped that the Magna Carta Conservation Party was devoted to ensuring that our few full copies of Magna Carta were properly cared for, stored in temperature-controlled rooms behind glass and perhaps restored if they got damaged. Unfortunately it seems to be one woman who’s very upset about something to do with planning permission in Woking.


10. Manston Airport Independent Party

I’ve only included this because I originally misread the name as the Manston Airport Independence Party, which would have been much more interesting.


11. Population Party UK

Another one-man party that wants to reduce the world’s population. Their party website includes a quote from the Queen (“There can be no long term stability when the rate of population growth exceeds the rate of job creation”) which seems to be fictitious.


12. Removing The Politicians

Also known as “Rebooting Democracy”, this party was established about a month ago by former Green candidate Keith Garrett. It aims to replace elected politicians with “a system in which we will use citizens’ panels and assemblies instead of politicians, selected in a similar manner to juries, that will use evidence based policy making to work towards the country’s short, medium and long term goals. These goals will be set by referendum mechanisms so we directly get to choose where we want our country to go“. He’s standing in Cambridge.


13. something new (nothing borrowed. nothing old. something new.)

One of the more confusing long names, Something New is another one of the ’21st Century politics’ parties. They have alliances with the Whigs (yes, there’s a Whig party), the Pirate Party and Removing the Politicians/Reboot Democracy.


14. Stop emotional child abuse, Vote Elmo

A gimmicky campaign in David Cameron’s Witney constituency, the ‘party’ is run by Bobby Smith who’s campaigning for more access to his children. His policies include twinning Witney with Houston, Texas, so that they could put up signs with “Witney Houston” on them.


15. The Birthday Party

Dave Dobbs from his previous campaign for Mayor of Bristol


A vehicle for David Field aka Dave Dobbs, a South-West England campaigner who wants to encourage more engagement in politics and whose main policy is to hope for a miracle.


16. The Roman Party.AVE

Founded by French bus-driver Pascual Jean-louis, the Roman Party contests elections in the Reading area. With no website or published manifesto, I have to figure out its policies from the leader’s Twitter account:


17. U Party

The U Party inspired me to write this list, after I saw it was standing a candidate in Hampstead and Kilburn. Rather uninterestingly, it seems to be a vehicle for pension lawyer Robin Ellison and wants to reform pensions.


18. The Ubunbu Party – Apolitical


The Ubuntu party was founded in South Africa last year and now seems to have branches all over the world. The UK branch promises to abolish the Bank of England and aims to awaken global consciousness to create a world without money. The party also has a conspiracist flavour; the party ran in South Africa with a Holocaust Denier highly-placed on the party list, and the UK party posts things like this:

if you had a relative in the 1st or 2nd world war its time you knew these wars were to make the banksters money, rothschilds buildersberg in a nut shell. so keep in mind there in control now. this cabal doesn’t care that our loved ones are dead down to their greed.

Posted by Ubuntu Party UK on Saturday, April 25, 2015


19. Vapers In Power

This isn’t the stoner party I expected. Vapers in Power is a single-issue party campaigning against restrictions on e-cigarettes, in particular the EU Tobacco Products Directive.


20. World Peace Through Song




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