UK government have lost the Grieve amendment (308:297).

This means that should Theresa May lose the vote for her Brexit deal (almost certain), then the govt must come back with a Plan B within 3 days.

[Gets figurative popcorn]

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Happy 68th Birthday,
Michel Barnier.

Chief Negotiator for the United Kingdom Exiting the European Union

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Grieve is dark haired, so you must be referring to Barnier.

What is silver fox in French?

@fitheach Google says: renard argenté. Barnier and Davis were sometimes called ‘the two silver foxes’.

I didn't know that; noted for future reference.

I did remember the DD campaign, specifically that photo. Do you think it lost him the female vote? It seemed completely crass, to me.

@fitheach Not sure. I seem to remember him being close to winning over David Cameron for a while.

@fitheach making no deal a little bit less likely? Good stuff.

Glad the Remain rebels are a bit more effective than the Hard Brexiteers.

I hope so.

Read a few reports stating that Westminster was like a rammie today. Brexiteers having a real go at Bercow for allowing the motion.

For those that enjoy the political theatre we will have some bumper performances coming up. If only the possible consequences weren't so dire.

@fitheach @cbowdon I watched some of it. Bercow was getting a pasting at times and, though he didn't seem as quick on his feet as some of them, I could understand why some people were saying he was thoroughly enjoying himself, putting himself in the centre of a historical contretemps about the role of parliament. Ultimately somebody had to make a decision and I think this one very easy to justify in the circumstances. Popcorn indeed.

I didn't see the proceedings today. I get the feeling Bercow quite likes being at the centre of things. With all the recent, and future, shenanigans Bercow will never be out of the spotlight.

I still don't like how so many things at Westminster are by convention. We should have a written constitution and comprehensive standing orders. Westminster often claims to be the mother of parliaments. If so they have had time enough to write everything down.


@fitheach @cbowdon It is open to manipulation and at the mercy of a strong executive. Political scientists used to be beguiled by the idea that there is an ebb and flow, a strong PM takes the place of a weak one and vice versa, that there are essentially checks and balances based upon convention. Maybe. Once. But really no. Larry Siedentop in Democracy in Europe (2000) has it that these conventions have fallen by the wayside. I agree. Reform is desperately needed..

@fitheach @cbowdon more so if they roll back to an imagined status quo ante after Brexit outside of the EU that has shored the institutions up in their decline.

To paraphrase: a convention isn't worth the paper it isn't written on.


@fitheach @krozruch I’ve just been catching up on this. Looking at the headlines today it seems the tabloids are trying to put Bercow back in his box (rather than focusing on the will of Parliament to avoid no-deal, naturally)

I find it endlessly fascinating divining the motivations of newspapers, and other media outlets, when they construct their stories. They all have an agenda. I don't think reporting the truth ever came into it.

Note: I use the word stories in a pejorative sense.


@fitheach @krozruch Totally. I’d welcome the newspaper’s demise if it wasn’t for the bit where they’re replaced by even more biased and less accountable sources.

Actually (sorry to be a bit doom-and-gloomy) it’s hard to see how democracy can continue. It’s been distorted by the media for some time, but if the trend continues public opinion will become mostly worthless.

Just checked some of the front pages. I see what you mean. Interesting that the Express & Mail are using almost identical headlines.

Popinjay? I should think Gladstone was still Prime Minister the last time that was used on a front page.


@fitheach @cbowdon "Preening popinjay". Peak Daily Mail. I agree with the doom-and-gloom, sadly enough, and no, truth doesn't much come into it. Each paper has its own constituency and its own agenda in this. In a society who are highly media-literate (and where the agendas are as consistent as in the UK), that need not be so much of a problem. Overlaid onto Facebook-as-primary news source and opinion-former for a high % of the population and media ownership in the UK after the 1980s, however..!

@fitheach @cbowdon Arguably, there were also some strong journalistic conventions operating with a number of broadsheets (and, more intermittently, with maybe one of the tabloids and some local papers) until c. 1980s. As little help as we may agree conventions to have been, this did mean at least something. The collapse of elite conventions, the use and abuse of less-informed demographics, and the rise of the technocrat, the neoliberal idealogue, and the populist, has led us to where we are.

@fitheach @cbowdon Constitutional crisis is right. With then NI, "protestors" chanting football-style slogans and wearing yellow jackets to intimidate elected representatives, and a poisonous atmosphere where the media and politicians both have stoked mass grievances to leverage their political positions even after we have seen an MP murdered on the streets (remember "Enemies of the People"?), Britain is now experiencing a greater institutional crisis since any time since at least Gladstone.

One of my favourite quotes:

"Advertisements contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper."

Thomas Jefferson (1819)
3rd US President

Demonstrates to me that the media have had a problem with the truth for a long time.

There is a convoluted & cyclical relationship between newspapers and their readership. Do the papers influence the readers or do they just provide the content their readers demand? I believe it is both.


@fitheach @cbowdon Yeah, I think periods of both with reasonable reciprocity or occasional readjustments when newspapers were mass circulation affairs. After that, the balance of newspaper income shifted towards advertisements even in the best cases, which is where we absolutely lost even (even?*) such newspapers as The Guardian to the demands of their advertisers on and off-line.
* some would say it was lost after it moved out of Manchester.

Has there ever been a time when newspapers could survive without advertising revenue? I'd be very surprised if that were the case. Advertisers is just one of the pressures applied to the content of newspapers. Proprietors and editors are two other important pressures.

However, balanced against those pressures is the need to hold or increase readership figures, as otherwise they fail in some of their other objectives. It is a balancing act. Truth is way down the list.


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