Today Julia Hartley-Brewer has an article on Capx urging non-aligned voters who care about their country to join Labour as a supporter in order to back “Anyone But Corbyn” – the so-called ABC campaign.
To be honest I’d always thought Hartley-Brewer was a signed-up Tory. She frequently writes for the Telegraph, used to broadcast on LBC, and Capx is one of the trendiest new right-wing blogger hang-outs going, often populated by other strongly Conservative commentators such as Iain Martin and Daniel Hannan. To be fair to her, she claims in the article never to have been a member of a political party, so let’s give her the benefit of the doubt.
The problem with her article is that it fails on its own terms. Her argument is that a government should be scared of the alternative; that without a functioning opposition, we risk losing democracy itself. She claims to object to “power with no end in sight”.
If that’s the case, why doesn’t she try pointing out that the “majority” government we have was elected on just 36.9% of the vote? If the seats in the Commons reflected anything like the reality of how ballots were cast, we would not be in a position where the choice of opposition leader would determine the result of the next general election (as she seems to believe) – because we wouldn’t have a system where the winner takes all.
The temptation is to think that Hartley-Brewer, far from cherishing democracy and wanting to protect and extend it, is more interested in shutting down legitimate debate by preventing the rise of a genuinely left-wing Labour leader. If that’s the case, very well, but don’t use the figleaf of a commitment to democracy to cover it up – say so.