If #Article50/#3LineWhip have you stumped, these 2 perspectives may help

Jeremy Corbyn is playing his Brexit hand cleverly, although you’d never guess it by listening to media pundits and, as the old story goes, ‘you wouldn’t want to start from here’.

But if you’re not familiar with parliamentary processes and terminology, all the talk of ‘three line whips’, ‘stages’ etc can easily be confusing and you might not see what Corbyn’s doing and why he’s playing it cleverly.

So these two perspectives on the situation, which this writer picked up in various places, may be helpful. Where the author is known, s/he is credited – if the other is yours and you can show provenance I’ll be delighted to credit you.

‘Horns of a dilemma’ – but it’s the Tories who are on it


Terminology, process and the politics of the thing

Then there’s this excellent piece by Tommy Cockerham:

So if you’ve been following this in the press you may be confused by what’s going on with Labour’s ‘three line whip’ on the Article 50 vote. This is because the media are banking on the fact that you don’t understand standard parliamentary process.

A bill is voted on several times at various stages of it’s development before a final vote in parliament. You can vote for a bill at every stage and vote against it on the final vote. Ultimately its this last final vote that decides whether a bill becomes law, not the votes at the earlier stages. Votes at previous stages only have consequence on amendments and changes to it as it progresses, so these initial votes only really matter to the contents of the bill and not the final decision as to it becoming law or not…

…In the context of the fact that 52% of the country voted to leave the EU, it would appear massively undemocratic for labour to vote themselves out of the process at this stage. If Labour try to kill this bill now, it not only sends a message to the 52%, but it allows the Daily Mail to write some interesting headlines about Corbyn being an unprincipled establishment stooge or something. So I think its prudent to allow the bill to progress to its final vote offering amendments and shaping it.

If the Tories vote Labour’s amendments down, the things that protect the NHS and workers rights etc, it’s easier to explain to working class leavers (who I believe have been duped by Boris, Gove and Farage) what leaving the EU under the tories actually means.

At the final stage, it will be in black and white what a Tory brexit means. If it’s turns out to be the incredibly ropy deal I think it will be, you can vote against it at the final stage, with JUSTIFICATION to leavers, that the Tory’s are using Brexit to hurt their rights and their NHS.

Strategically it makes sense to vote this through so the that there is enough rope for the Tories to hang themselves with. They are desperate not to publicly reveal the method and means of Brexit for a reason. To an extent this forces a few key points of the deal and could play a part in the Tories undoing.

So it makes you wonder about the motives of those in the shadow cabinet (who you have to assume DO understand parliamentary process) who are resigning over this. I could talk further about what I think happens next, but that would give the game away…

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  1. Jeremy is being seen to accept the democratic will of the people. The right wing and remainers in the PLP have blown their cover. The article has to be triggered. Then the debates can begin in earnest, I have noticed Kier Starmer is stepping up to the plate at last. The right wingers are promising a stop to Brexit which is not possible. Perhaps Jeremy can get tough when they ignore the whip. He will then have justification in the publics eye to withdraw the whip from them.

  2. First piece was posted by a Michael Jackson on the swindon supporters of jeremy corbyn fb page. I then posted it to wsjc page.

  3. I’m not getting how this justifies a three line whip though: why not have faith in the competence of his MP’s?
    All this whip has done is to whip up dissent and bad feeling…
    Though I suppose I do generally argue that folk should do what they are good at…

    1. Hi Jayson, I think he has no other option at this moment in time. He has to be seen to accept the democratic will of the majority who voted. But this is only stage one. Once the Article is triggered then we can get down to the serious business of negotiating the terms of brexit. Don’t forget the other parties involved could also have a serious impact on the brexit final vote. Sadly the right wing of the NEC and PLP should have kept this in mind and fought the tories instead of Jeremy. Their chickens are coming home to roost but the party is paying the price.

  4. Labour should add an amendment committing to an NHS budget increase of £350m a week if the government uses Article 50.

    Actually it would be cleverer to submit two amendments, one for an extra £350m a week, and one for say for extra £100m a week, just to see the Conservatives vote against both of them.

  5. This is the same tactic as Harriet Harman tried to employ in the vote on welfare cuts. Few understood it then & still condemn those who abstained.

  6. Assuming some degree of political intelligence, one could guess that at least some if not all resignations in pro-Remain Labour seats might be pre agreed with Corbyn behind closed doors to reinforce his strategy. Triggering art.50 would generate some significant political capital costs in those seats (with voters switching to Lib Deb next time): Labour has a split seat base and a clever political strategy has to take it into account. If the article is right and Corbyn is playing a chess game, it is better be, then, a multi step and multi layered game.

  7. Steela Creasy is questioning the accuracy of the first post: “Labour members and supporters -This is an ‘alternative fact’ being circulated around internet on the article 50 vote. It’s completely untrue that however an MP votes it affects at second reading whether they can then amend legislation at any point in legislative process and the lack of source for this should be a big giveaway something else other than informing debate motivates this statement. There are good arguments on all sides of this debate – but let’s discuss this in the context of opinion and actual fact, not subterfuge and lies.” From her Facebook post

  8. 52% of the country did NOT vote to leave the EU and it was NOT the so-called “will of the people”. It was the will of 52% of the electorate (an electorate from which many UK citizens likely to vote Remain were pruned) and less than 30% of the people. Those seeking to sanctify it in that way are being fundamentally dishonest. That will not help those making otherwise reasonable arguments in favour of Corbyn’s tactical plan in an attempt to convince those of us who voted for JC like myself, or who could be persuaded to do so in future.

    Where JC is playing a very dangerous game is the way he appears to be unconcerned with the deeply unconstitutional nature of the process and the equally problematical nature of the Leave campaign – a campaign which attracted unprecedented criticism from an independent HMGOV agency. Senior figures are now unashamedly admitting they lied (Hannan in his recent FT interview for example) and it is absurd to didmiss the possibility that these tactics were crucial, in a process where the population of Sheffield could have swung the result and affected the future of 64 million people and potentially generations of their descendants.

    Yet this fact – and the way it has led to many Labour supporters feeling swindled out of cherished rights – appears to be of no concern to the leadership. It might be understandable if they decided to avoid questions around the constitutional legitimacy and honesty of the process for the time being on the level of political tactics, but they are actively playing on their enemies’ field by repeating shibboleths like “respect the referendum result” and “the will of the people”.

    We are sleepwalking into a situation where referendums – which are only advisory in the UK and have few if any codified safeguards around their use unlike other systems where they are part of a written constitution (ancient Greece had People’s courts that could overturn ballots won by demgoguery or lies) – are going to be available to the executive in order to enable them to bypass parliament and appeal directly to the citizenry, even over intensely complex, far-reaching issues that involve the potential removal of fundamental rights.

    We are already seeing far-right populism resurgent after decades in the shadows – and true to form the old tactic of “the Big Lie” has risen with them. Yet we potentially play into their hands by presenting them with the nuclear threat of the unregulated referendum able to bypass Parliament and appeal to a population potentially inflamed by said far-right populists and their reactionary media mogul masters. Does nobody realise what a Pandora’s box they are opening and how the Left are the most vulnerable targets if things go wrong?

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