2007 - 2021

Brexit – a Westminster Noalition

Independence has nothing to do with policy and everything to do with where it is decided. Similarly cooperation has nothing to do with policy and everything to do with how it is agreed and implemented. The following proposal for resolving the current Brexit Parliamentary crisis is for a collaborative interim Brexit minority Parliament dominated by no faction or Party -a Noalition.

Glasgow Council Noalition
Leaving to one side Australian experience, which gave rise to the Noalition expression there is a current example in Glasgow of a UK Noalition operating successfully. After the May 2017 election Glasgow Council was comprised as follows: SNP 39, Scottish Labour 31,Scottish Conservative 8 and Scottish Greens 7, so SNP needed support from other parties to form an administration. The Greens rightly calculated an SNP/Green coalition to be Lose/Lose: if successful SNP gets the credit, and if it fails the Greens get the blame.

So, although the Greens came to an informal confidence & supply agreement, when SNP attempted to take dominant control of Glasgow Council’s committees, the Greens voted with the other parties to defeat SNP and obliged them to share power in Committees, above all on the Executive Committee, which has 23 cross-party members, divided proportionately 11 SNP, 8 Labour, 2 Conservative, 2 Green leaving SNP in a non-dominant minority.

Westminster Brexit Noalition
A Westminster Noalition would see Cabinet seats distributed proportionally to Parliamentary seats, Johnson as Conservative Prime Minister (a no confidence vote would be in respect of his government not him) and Corbyn as Labour Deputy Prime Minister. Each would have a veto right over Cabinet policy decisions but neither would have the power to legislate unilaterally.

Ministers would be chosen with a view to capacity and experience of their subject portfolio, and would operate transparently, supervised by greatly empowered Select Committees.

A Labour Chancellor would head a neutered Treasury, with no power to impose failed Statist and Neoliberal market policies and with a commission to mobilise UK resources bottom up by devolving fiscal and even monetary power regionally and locally.

The Westminster Noalition would operate a transitional administration until 5th May 2022 or earlier if there is a two thirds vote. Uncontroversial sections of the May Brexit would be implemented immediately and more controversial issues such as the backstop, immigration and trade agreements would be the subject of detailed policy development and discussions with the EU.

Upon expiry or earlier dissolution of the Brexit Noalition, the ensuing election would clearly double as a de facto referendum.

Getting There From Here
Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament appears tailor made to force the formation of a bipartisan administration. If a vote of confidence is held on (say) next Friday 6th September and lost by the Government, there would then be a 14 day period for an MP to form a new administration capable of gaining the confidence of the House, and since Parliament will be prorogued (arguably ‘stopping the clock’) this period would extend to the reopening of Parliament on 14th October still leaving time for necessary enabling legislation for Brexit nominally to commence on 31st October.

Radical Independence
21st Century problems cannot be resolved by 20th and 19th C solutions. Our Parliament is long overdue a constitutional spring clean such as that in 1912 when land-owners gave up dominant control via the neutering of the House of Lords in exchange for stopping the hated Land Value Tax.

New and radical mutualist policies are now becoming available for housing, energy, care, health, food etc independence which are devolved to and controlled at the level at which these services are delivered. Local red/green coalitions are being formed, such as in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Key to this is creation of a new wave of mutual/collaborative institutions and instruments for the necessary credit to be created bottom up, such as by local Treasury branches overseeing local banking services.

West Lothian Questions have West Lothian Answers.

Comments (6)

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  1. alasdair galloway says:

    Interesting and well intentioned, but, listening to Radio 4 at the end of last week, I heard an Oxbridge History Prof, an expert on Charles 1 and 2nd and intervening Commonwealth, and she made the point that what went wrong between Charles 1 and Parliament was that eventually there were no compromises available that were acceptable to both. It is something like this that concerns me about your proposition, and in particular that “Each – Johnson as PM and Corbyn as his deputy – would have a veto right over Cabinet policy decisions but neither would have the power to legislate unilaterally”. Do you think there are enough points of agreement between the two of them – not to mention the agendas that stand behind each of them – to get anything much at all done? I’m not so sure, and am concerned we are getting into Charles 1/ Parliament territory, and look how that ended up.

    1. Chris Cook says:

      Thanks for your response. The point is that that Brexit never was a party issue and there can be no meaningful policy initatives unless and until the Brexit issue has been been concluded once and for all. Such a transitional Noalition could, and I think would, finalise and implement a Brexit which is at least workable. If the negative effects of the transition are bad eneough, then remainers will be able to work up a sufficient head of steam to reverse it by electing a pro-Remain government .

      I think that there are an increasing number of issues where there is convergence on policy. For instance I recall attending a workshop in Fife on the subject of a Universal Basic Income, and representatives of all the parties spoke in favour; I think there is probably also a consensus on a ‘Green New Deal’, with differences being on the optimal funding route; May’s “Dementia Tax’ and Corbyn’s “Garden Tax”, both aimed to tap unearned property windfalls to fund care for an ageing population – there is in fact a long list, and I think Left and Right will wither on the vine as a convergence takes place to bottom up ‘mutualism’ or cooperative individualism if you like.

      Rational Man is moving from zero sum to a new calculus: “Would you rather have 100% of nothing or a smaller % of something?”

      1. Alasdair Galloway says:

        thanks for the considered reply Chris. I think you sum up my doubts when you write “Rational Man is moving from zero sum to a new calculus: “Would you rather have 100% of nothing or a smaller % of something?” Personally I probably would, Corbyn just might (if he can get it by those behind him), but do you really think Johnson would. Steve Richards made the point on Dateline London (BBC News Channel) at the weekend that one of the differences between the Remain and Leave sides is that the latter are utterly unsentimental about getting what they want – a referendum, May’s deal killed, Bo Jo for PM – all done. What about a “no deal brexit”?

  2. Dougie Blackwood says:

    Sounds very much like pie in the sky. Neither Corbyn nor Boris have either the will or the brains to allow something like is to work.

    1. Chris Cook says:

      Maybe so. But then neither of them is in control of their party

  3. SleepingDog says:

    The dangers of humans having a majority in governments could be addressed by giving a majority of ‘seats’ in the lower house to the Planet. These seats could be taken up on as required for specific decisions, filled by appropriate stewards and scientists or artificial intelligences. Legislation, policies and executive decisions that affect the Planet would need to be beneficial in order to pass. In the upper house, a majority of seats could be filled by biological class senators, each representing a suitable segment of the living population of the Planet. These interests may sometimes conflict, but I guess a consensus should usually be possible.

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