‘Govt of national unity’ is a coup by another name

As SKWAWKBOX predicted last summer, ‘centrist’ Labour MPs see ‘government of national unity’ as last lifeline – but Tory counterparts and media allies are desperate enough to start pushing it and it would disenfranchise UK voters

Last year, the SKWAWKBOX warned that desperate centrists were looking at a so-called ‘government of national unity’ (GoNU) as their last chance saloon for preventing a Corbyn-led Labour government – and saving their careers.

The very next day, Tom Watson appeared on Sky News to say that it was his job to prevent the fall of the Tory government.

Last week, Watson again said that he would consider serving in such a ‘national unity’ government – after reports that he had been approached by ‘pro-EU conservatives’ about exactly that possibility.

And now, Tory MPs are joining openly in talk of a unity government, as George Freeman did this morning:

Yet only two weeks ago, Freeman was frank in telling the BBC that the momentum toward a general election – and a Labour victory – was unstoppable:

In those two weeks – when Tom Watson was reported to be talking to ‘pro-EU’ Tories, although he has denied doing so – Freeman has changed from an acceptance of democracy to a call for ‘cross-party veterans’ to club together.

To form another unelected government.

Since then, mainstream media have raised the subject at every possibility – but not merely to report it as something being discussed by a small group of disgruntled MPs fearful of deselection – but to put it forward as being natural. Reasonable.



The hope among supporters of this desperate move must be of exploiting the Fixed Term Parliaments Act (FTPA) by means of a successful vote of no confidence. The FTPA mandates that such a successful vote triggers the start of a 14-day period – at the end of which a new government must win a confidence vote, or else a new general election must take place.

‘National unity government’ backers will be hoping that if a no-confidence vote is successful, they can band together enough support from ‘centrists’ of all parties – the very definition of ‘all politicians are the same’ – to carry a confidence vote and form a government.

A power-grab

But it would one that nobody elected – and formed by a group of MPs, most of whom would never have been elected as individual constituency MPs if voters had known how they would behave.

Labour voters vote with the intention of seeing a Labour government. Tory voters for a Tory one. They do not vote with the intention of seeing an ‘cuckoo’ alliance of MPs loyal to the values or policies of neither – and the votes they received behind blue or red rosettes are certainly not a mandate for depriving the electorate of a say in the wake of appalling Tory incompetence and chaos.

The handful of LibDem MPs, Plaid or the SNP, or the single Green MP might just claim they were elected precisely to have such an enabling or spoiling effect on those elected to represent other parties – but their numbers are so small that even if all of them backed it, it would not legitimise the power-grab.

Coup 3.0 – against more than Labour

Such a move would represent a coup. Driven as it is by centrists’ fear of a Corbyn government, it can legitimately be regarded as the next in the series of attempted coups by defunct right-wing Labour MPs.

Those MPs and their supporters have already desperately tried – and desperately failed – to remove Jeremy Corbyn from the Labour leadership, either directly, by smears, or by bringing about a Labour electoral disaster.

But it is not just a Labour coup. Instead, it is being attempted on an even wider scale – an attempt to disenfranchise millions of voters across the political spectrum, conducted by a political faction only in place because they stood under the camouflage of red or blue rosettes.

A dismal history

The UK last had a national unity government in the 1930s, in response to the Great Depression. Its significance then and now was captured in a series of tweets by journalist Ronan Burtenshaw, of which two are shown below:

SKWAWKBOX comment: wheat and chaff

The unfolding of this ‘coup 3.0’ will sift the wheat from the chaff – and all lovers of democracy in this country need to hope and work for its failure. The success or failure of the attempt hangs on whether enough MPs will be prepared to be known to future generations as those who turned on the party that got them elected – and against the voters who elected them, millions of whom are suffering under the Tories.

Or whether sufficient numbers care enough for principle, party, members, voters and the suffering millions to reject attempts to woo them to participate in such a theft from voters and from the party members whose efforts carried them into office.

And at least in part, those decisions by individual MPs will depend on what they hear from members and voters. Some are certainly already lost causes – but waverers need to hear from you what you think of such a coup.

Whichever party you voted for in 2017 or will vote for in the next general election, possibly within months.

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  1. Why is Tom Watson allowed to get away with this? Why isn’t Labour acting now. How much does it take for Labour to do something about these Labour MPs, so-called, who say publicly that they see their job as keeping Tories in power? A Labour member is suspended for “liking” a post from Green Party and here we have Watson saying he wants to keep Tories in place and what happens? Big Fat ZILCH!!! Disgusting.

    1. Well – there’s a fair amount of crap flying around about Brexit – hardly surprising since it was a crap Tory idea.

      But that article you cite is s pretty big lump, given that the current estimate of opinion puts a desire to stay well in the lead.

      Obviously, the only way out is a new referendum. Anything else is, indeed a democratic deficit.

      1. Attempting to overturn the largest democratic ballot in this country’s history acts a recruiting sergeant for the far right.

        You are a fascist enabler. A fellow traveller of the far right. Your refusal to accept democratic ballots has consequences which you are too foolish to understand.

        You are also an ill informed individual. The Labour Leader has stated today that Labour respects the result and will implement Brexit.

      2. Internal Affairs 01/04/2019 at 12:27 am

        Maybe you’d be better off joining the participants of this survey, you appear to have far more in common with the overwhelming majority of them than you do with the vast majority of Labour Party members and voters.

      3. Internal Affairs. It’s the people themselves who will overturn it when given the chance. THAT is not in any way undemocratic.

      4. Actually, Internal affairs, before you come to those assumptions about RH or anybody else who is against Brexshit; we are not Nazi-enablers as you put it. That function belongs to the ultra left and the far right. If you compare the statements they come out with you might find that they are almost congruent views, ie are shockingly alike.
        Labour should really think again about enacting Tory brexit, as this will most likely backfire with voters. It would be more prudent to keep the focus on the policies and how they can be implemented.
        I do not accept that referendum result either, because it was reached by violation of elections rules (finances), and the perpetrators have been fined. Had the referendum been a decision making one, then because of these violations, it would have been declared nil and void. Sadly as it was merely a huge opinion poll which actually does not require action to be taken, it cannot be declared nil and void. So we are living with a situation whereby laws get violated and the result is expected to stand. Somehow that is a somewhat perverse situation and not at all democratic. Or do you find if acceptable that ends justify all means?
        We are allowed to change our mind, as many have done as more of realistic consequences to leaving became more evident, as well as the total incompetence of the present government. Or are only MPs allowed to change their mind? And are you prepared to take a very real risk that many more people get poorer, more cuts in services, living conditions etc?

      5. Is it just me or do other people find these remainers who refuse to accept leave as an answer a bit rapey?

        It is like a woman going on a date and deciding that they don’t want to sleep with someone but the remainers keep going on and on to try to get their way after the decision to not have sex has been made.

        RH and SteveH and JackT are very creepy individuals. They only turned up recently and frankly they make my skin crawl with their rapey comments.

      6. Internal Affairs 01/04/2019 at 1:28 am

        frankly they make my skin crawl with their rapey comments.

        I think you’ve probably succeeded in making every normal thinking persons flesh crawl with your comment

        What a sad little individual you are.

        You are belittling the very serious and emotionally devastating crime of rape in a feeble attempt score some cheap and politically incoherent point

        You really ought to be ashamed of yourself

      7. You are the person not taking no for an answer, that is how rape happens.

        You use the tactics of the rapist. Trying to wear people down, never accepting the decision, going on and on and on when you have been told no, just so you can be satisfied, just so you can have your way.

        You should think deeply upon your character defect. It is exactly the same character defect that leads to women being raped.

        You are a thoroughly disgusting individual. I will not be addressing any further comments to you and if you keep trolling my comments I will request that you be blocked from commenting on this site.

      8. Internal Affairs 01/04/2019 at 2:24 am

        You really do need to brush up on your self awareness skills.

        As for the rest of drivel you’ve just posted it is beneath contempt. I will continue to comment on your inane posts as and when I see fit, if you don’t like it then that’s your problem not mine. As for the threats, you are more than welcome to report me anytime you like, why don’t you start by complaining to Steve about this exchange the email address is complaints@skwawkbox.com

        You really should take some advice and stop digging.

      9. Absolutely brilliant. Internal Affairs has nailed you all…

        Kudos IF *clap-clap*

      10. @Internal Affairs. It’s not just you IA. They know we can’t pull out. They are all posting here for increasingly desperate, personal reasons. Sabine for example, is German, the others will have jobs conditional on EU membership or holiday homes or similar things they wish to protect.

      11. @Sabine. This is for you…..”But the truth is that everyone is entitled to change their minds, and using the skills I’ve developed running Another Angry Voice to promote orthodox neoliberal views means all the effort I’ve put into this blog won’t have gone to waste.”

        The above defines you but you will stubbornly refuse to understand it. You don’t “change your mind” about politics.

      12. “Is it just me or do other people find these remainers who refuse to accept leave as an answer a bit rapey?”

        I’m not saying that there aren’t *any* other weirdly unstable individuals around in the universe at large.

        But, in answer to your question – yes, it is just you. Do get a grip on your rage-fuelled ‘internal affairs’ fantasy machine.

      13. … and I just noticed this corker from lundiel :

        “You don’t “change your mind” about politics.”

        Firstly, there’s a massively idiotic here confusion between ‘politics’ and ‘policy’.

        Secondly, it’s a statement that doesn’t stand up to examination in simple factual terms. If you don’t have the capacity to change your mind, the position you occupy is ‘dead’.

        … and in reduction to absurdity terms, does this mean the Labour Party should be adhering to ‘new’ Labour policies, since things don’t change?

        I try not to confuse my opposition to Brexit with the competence of people who hold the view. But f. me – if this is in any way representative of the average Brexit visionary’s thought, we are in desperate straits!

      14. You know full well what I mean RH. You don’t suddenly start supporting neoliberalism and the likes of Junker, Macron and Tusk if you are a Socialist. The idea that Socialism and European neoliberalism can coexist is ludicrous and a sell out by the liberal left middle class still trying to co-opt the Labour party for their own selfish reasons.

      15. Surely the vast majority of Labour Party members are Democratic Socialists.

      16. Lundiel – confusing the concept of the EU and neoliberalism is the same as confusing the UK and neoliberalism.

        By your logic, we should leave the UK because its established policies have become indefatigably neoliberal over the past 40 years (actually more so than many EU countries).

        I guess I’m also wary of banging on too much about notions such as ‘socialism’, ‘communism’, fascism’, ‘nationalization’ and ‘capitalism’ which have increasingly become catch words (often with a 19th C.theoretical pedigree) rather than defined concepts – easier to say what they are not rather than what they are.There needs to be a more meaningful – or meaningful use of – vocabulary related to real policy aims and real people and society.

      17. No RH, there is no confusion. The difference being, we can change our government and alter policy…..the EU is stuck with eternal neoliberalism for all signatories and eternal austerity for the southern states. The only winner is Germany……and that won’t last but by then most EU countries will have huge debts and no assets, just like Greece.

      18. I fully agree with you about definitions. I would never define left leaning proponents of the EU as Socialist but there you go. Somehow the concept of liberalism has become intertwined with free market economics and ‘humanitarian intervention’, neither of which have much in common with social democracy. I think there needs to be a redefining of ideology in the early 21st Century. But don’t make the mistake of consigning Socialism to history or dissing it as 19C irrelevance. It and nationalism are the only bastions against globalism which is why the left and right are in agreement over the EU.

    2. Internal Affairs. It’s now quite obvious that because your arguments have been roundly defeated you are wandering off into realms of the absurd making juvenile comments. You are obviously some sort of fanatic in need of counselling.

  2. Anyone with a thinking cap on could see this coming; I’ve been warning of it ever since Corbyn saw off the chicken coup. Watson apparently back-pedalled on it on TV this morning but you never know why Watson says anything. We need to be confident that the membership of the biggest political party in europe will manage see off this latest stratagem, which is little more than a last ditch bid by the proponents of neoliberalism and austerity to cling to power. Here, NIck Wright brilliantly outlines three lines of attack the ruling class are deploying in an attempt to halt the Corbyn project: he may well have added a fourth: “seemingly sensible arguments in favour of a national unity government in pursuit of “common sense,” “the national interest” and other vague, ostensibly well-meaning, bullshit. https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/corbyn-already-facing-very-british-coup

  3. This is a Tory fuck-up from start to finish, they are desperate for the chance to muddy the waters and share the blame. No ifs, no buts they should be made to own it.

  4. Whenever the Tories start talking as though things are “not political” or have “cross party ” support, or call for a “Government of National Unity” you can guarantee they have made a massive foul up of things and are looking for any vehicle to offload or dump the blame elsewhere.

  5. Watson on Marr today, when asked about a National Unity government was very quick to state he wants a labour government and not a national unity government. Maybe his slap on the wrists by NEC is working to keep him on track but I wouldn’t trust him – the man us as ske and knows when to keep his mouth shut.

  6. I’m not sure that devoting this attention to Watson is productive.

    A ‘Government of National Unity’ is the last thing the country wants – i.e. a subservience to the Tory agenda.

    What is needed is less of this consensual tendency – a more effective and determined opposition to the Tories’ Brexit idea.

    1. Agreed re the National Unity trap , disagree re the “attention” to watson , IMO the membership protests helps the NEC feel the mood as can be seen with the bollocking he had from them recently.
      Yes he’s a grandstanding twat but not saying anything he could be emboldened to try even more stupidity .

  7. Since nobody else seems up to the task of winkling the Fifth Column out it seems that they will have to do it themselves.
    Anyone who believes that if Labour wins a General Election with a PLP in which there are enough right wingers to hobble the passage of a proper series of socialist measures the government will not be sabotaged, hasn’t been paying attention.
    The lesson of 1931 is clear. The lesson of the 1981 SDP treachery is clear too. And the history of the Blair government is crystal clear.
    The Labour Party has little time left to it to act: either the Constituencies will clear out the corruption or the corruption will grow until once again it displaces the rank and file membership and the interests of millions of working class people desperate for a state that will act with them, in the interests of many who make up the country, instead of against them.
    In the meantime Labour has to be very clear in its commitment to freedom of expression before the walls close in and it becomes a criminal offence to point out that the ruling class has stolen its wealth from the people and the people overseas that imperialism continues to oppress, marginalise and attack. Like the people of Venezuela. And Palestine.

      1. American public is just as guilty as it’s government. They are uneducated, and uncaring of anyone outside their circle of interest. The US and their lawfare (illegal sanctions) are well out of hand now. Without international law, the world will get a lot worse.

        Am not impressed with the Labour party supporting the removal of fairly elected (arguably the most democratic, tamper proof system (using British voting machines)) Maduro, and the theft of their money by the bank of England.

        Thornberry should hang her head in shame!

      2. The Constituent Assembly is the most Democratic option, short of having a referendum about everything, you can have. The forces of managed democracy hate it because it stops a tiny unelected elite from raping the country.

    1. Yes I agree Bevin and at the risk of repeating myself from previous debates we need full on mandatory re-selection as the norm not the exception , how now to get it it the question ?

      1. rob 01/04/2019 at 9:22 am · · Reply →

        how now to get it it the question ?

        There is only one way, under the current setup, that this can be achieved.Persuade UNITE and UNISON to stop using their block-votes to block it.

  8. The Labour Party MUST reinstate Chris Williamson urgently. We need him with us, we may have to fight an election shortly.

  9. “But the truth is that everyone is entitled to change their minds, and using the skills I’ve developed running Another Angry Voice to promote orthodox neoliberal views means all the effort I’ve put into this blog won’t have gone to waste.”

    When you, SteveH and your cohorts, post “anyone is entitled to change their minds” concerning the referendum and the political choice they made, you should hang your collective heads in shame and recall the salient words of AAV above.

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