Beren wrote:I wonder if they really wanted to prevent the bill from passing or they prorogued parliament only because Cummings wanted a five-week campaign season without it. I don't see how another three-month extension makes such a big fuss that Johnson couldn't explain it to his fans that he simply had to obey the law and then call for a snap general election again.
Well, that's the big question. What was the intent behind last week's fandango? I see two scenarios.
1) A big, bold, and brash decision to prorogue Parliament was made in order to scatter the opposition in confusion, reveal their internal divisions and produce an election before the October deadline. If this was the plan, then it was a complete and utter car crash: the opposition united to legally forbid no deal, the Tory lords failed to stop them, the moderate Tories chose rebellion and exile rather than voting with the government, and no election was produced, leaving Boris in a limbo state between an election he can't call and a law he doesn't want to obey. This does seem like typical Johnson: a massive full-frontal assault with no real plan involved beyond triumphing through sheer bloodymindedness. That's why the Tories elected him, after all: he's supposedly a fizzing mess of untamed energy. It also seems to suit Cummings, not the subtlest of political operators by any stretch of the imagination (I heard he harangued Jeremy Corbyn in the HoC lobby while drunk). And there was the timing: prorogation was announced a day after the opposition had basically decided to put aside their differences to stop no deal. Seems quite spur of the moment.
2) Everything last week went as planned. Prorogation (especially without an election) gets them five weeks of supervision-free campaigning, with Johnson exploiting the benefits of his position to the fullest (speaking in front of a backdrop of police officers, etc.). Johnson and Cummings wanted Parliament to prohibit no-deal so they can run an unrepentantly populist election campaign of People vs. Parliament. They wanted the Tory moderates to break with the party so they can achieve an ideologically pure party fully united behind whatever form of Brexit is ultimately served up. They hoped Corbyn wouldn't back an election so they can paint him as weak. If that was the case, then move over Machiavelli, there are some new kids in town. Again, there are some reasons to think this: Boris has been on the election war path since the Tory leadership campaign. And one of the reasons Cummings is feared by Labour is because he has realised a fundamental fact: the British people will be very, very happy to vote for a candidate who offers hard conservative social values combined with heavy social spending in areas like health, policing, community services, etc. (of course, Johnson will promise that spending to win the election, but given his own Thatcherite views and a cabinet full of neoliberal disaster capitalists, I am sure in practice his new government would continue austerity policies, especially since any kind of Brexit will lead to a contraction in the economy, giving them the perfect excuse for austerity and privatisation). Given this, a populist election campaign would be precisely what the dynamic duo want.
I don't know. Scenario (1) makes you worry because it reveals that Johnson is far more incompetent than I could have believed, by orders of magnitude. Scenario (2) paints Johnson as some kind of pragmatic political genius on the level of Benjamin Disraeli, which nothing in his previous career suggests.