Coup, What Coup?

By Colin Talbot

The UK has not suffered a coup. No tanks on the streets. No martial music from the radio stations. No seizing of the presses. No curfews. No coup.

Because that is not how democracy is dethroned these days. At least, not in well-established democratic systems, or even in some less long-lived ones. No. The process of establishing authoritarian rule is far more subtle, prolonged and insidious.

The global rise of authoritarian populist and nationalist leaders is a well-established fact. Bolsanaro, Duerte, Modi, Erdogan, Orban, Putin and of course Donald Trump all, to varying degrees, have or are trying to, establish authoritarian rule.

What is notable in all these cases though is that they rarely involve the classic coup, the military-led overthrow – the coup in Chile, 1973, with Allende being bombed in the Presidential Palace and tanks on the streets?

Some have proceeded much further than others, but the neo-authoritarian play-book is now clear to see. Not every creeping dethroning of democracy occurs in the same way, at the same pace or in the same order. But most of the elements of the process are common and it’s notable how they – the nationalist authoritarians – seem to be learning from one another across national boundaries. Continue reading

Brexit and Parliament: what if…..?

I have been getting lots of calls, messages and emails asking me “what if….”

So here are a few answers.

What if the Government tables a motion for a General Election under the terms of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act?

This requires a two-thirds majority of all MPs – whether present and voting or not. That’s 434 MPs. They have already tried it once and failed. It’s unlikely to succeed when they try again on Monday. After that Parliament is going to be Prorogued so it will be impossible before it resumes in Oct. Continue reading

Boris Johnson and the Amoral Warrior(s)

A name that doesn’t come up in the Brexit debate is Miyamoto Musashi, a 16th and 17th century Japanese samurai. But he is probably present, none-the-less.

Why? Because Boris Johnson’s main advisor, Dominic Cummings, apparently prefers military strategists to political thinkers. And in the world of military strategy Musashi is up there with Sun Tzu, Clausewitz, Liddell-Hart, Giap, and other great military thinkers from history. And anyone familiar with Musashi can certainly see his ideas expressed in Cummings behaviour. Continue reading

Parliament: a handy guide to the State of Play

As we head towards dramatic events in Westminster in a few weeks, I thought it might be worth providing a handy guide to the state of play in the House of Commons.

So here is the state of the Parties as at 23.00 on Weds 14 August 2019.

Note: today Sarah Wollaston (Totnes) joined the Lib Dems, boosting them to 14 and reducing the “Independent” group to 15.

Source: https://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/current-state-of-the-parties/ (amended today)

Continue reading

Can Jeremy Corbyn Become PM without a General Election?

By Colin Talbot

Everyone expects a Vote of No Confidence (VONC) in the Boris Johnson when Parliament resumes in the autumn. Exactly when remains an issue of some doubt, and whether or not it would pass is anyone’s guess.

That has not stopped rampant speculation and heated debate about what happens if and when the VONC passes.

Prominent in this kerfuffle has been the idea put forward by Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters – especially John McDonnell – that Corbyn could simply take over. He has famously said he would “send Jeremy to Palace in a taxi and tell the Queen that we are taking over.” How credible is this? Continue reading