17.01.2019

*|MC:SUBJECT|*
Your guide to making sense of this whole mess.
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Apologies. For everything.


Alas, illness has hit SP HQ. More time has been spent on the sofa this week watching terrible box sets than at the desk watching terrible debates on BBC Parliament. Pretty pleased to have made it to Friday, to be honest.

Which means - apology number one in this email - I'm sorry but this is another truncated email. The sweet whispers of the horizontal are blowing on the breeze.

It has occurred to me that this I am not alone in any of this. Politics itself appears to be lounging on the couch staring into nothingness. MPs themselves are trudging through the motions. The Queen's Speech debates this week have seen ministers and shadow ministers promoting their own ideas and telling everyone how awful the other ideas on offer are. They lacked the passion they normally have. The drive. The anger. They were generally half-hearted.

The debates were also entirely ignored by the media. Several times this week, the BBC news app had zero stories about politics on its extensive front page. Not one. Even the EU Withdrawal Bill has been largely ignored, in both the Commons and the Lords. 

Why is this? There are several reasons, I think. Firstly, Johnson's whopping majority means that votes are pretty dull. He promised we'd leave the EU by 31st January, to start the transition period, and that's what's going to happen. Why cover the details that confirm it's going to happen? 

If you offer a child a bowl of cereal and they agree, you don't tell them that you're getting the bowl out, putting in those Cheerios, adding milk, getting a spoon. You just give them the cereal. (Although, in my experience, they then howl that it's the wrong spoon, the wrong bowl and they wanted toast anyway. Maybe this isn't such a terrible analogy after all.) 

Labour are also treading water. Jeremy Corbyn is still leader, but the party is waiting for someone else to take over. Presumably Keir Starmer, but there is a long way to go. A new leader can fire up the party again and start to build a new Opposition. Corbyn, meanwhile, is quoting the manifesto he just lost the election on in PMQs. That's not someone looking forward to brave new horizons. 

Fatigue has set in. We've had nothing but politics since the 2015 General Election campaign. That's over now. The Conservatives and the Brexiteers have won. Both will plod on doing their things, allowing the general public to look elsewhere. Rediscover hobbies. The Boston Tiddlywinks Club has never been so well attended.

Not everyone feels the fatigue. Some are still very angry after the election. Moderating comments on social media is pretty tough right now. Only those that still really care are there and there is a lot of anger.

Yesterday, while trying to rest on the sofa, I was dealing with someone who was saying that anyone who votes Conservative actively dislikes the poor and the vulnerable. It's so easy for Labour supporters right now to feel that outrage. They feel they lost the election, not because they lost the argument, but because of media smears against their leader. Big business was against them and you can't compete with that.  They also have the advantage that, by disowning the Blair / Brown government, they have no record to defend. They can just attack. 

So what are we left with? A government being intentionally dull and plodding through. An opposition without direction. A media focusing on crime stories. A public who are either unengaged or extremely angry and putting people off engaging. 

Politics is a bit rubbish in January 2020. It's not my fault, but I'm still sorry

(And one final apology. I said this will be brief, and then it wasn't. I hope the ramblings of my mind haven't made you too angry.)

Next week in Parliament


As you'd expect (because - January 2020) it's quite quiet.

House of Lords:

Monday / Tuesday: Debating (and rubber stamping) the EU Withdrawal Bill

Wednesday: Possible discussion of changes that Lords have made, Commons have removed and are back in the Lords. They won't make any changes, though, so this won't happen.

Thursday: Nothing much

House of Commons:

Monday: QS debate - Economy and jobs

Tuesday: Direct Payments to Farmers Bill (which aims to replace the EU's Common Agricultural Policy - that gives direct payments -  with more targetted ways of supporting farmers). That's not expected to take much time, so there will also be a debate on the Grenfell Tower Inquiry's Phase 1 Report.

Wednesday: Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill (which allows broadband people to get into blocks of flats to improve the internet) is up today. There is also time for MPs to debate Brexit changes made by the Lords. But they won't make any, so that'll be freed up for coffee breaks. 

Thursday: A debate on Holocaust Memorial Day.

Friday: MPs will be in their constituencies
 
Sounds good, I'll help out
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