Building A Wall?

With apologies to Pink Floyd:

“We don’t need no new election,

We don’t need no thought control;

No deeper schism in our country,

Leader, leave us plebs alone!”

I really don’t think of myself as a particularly political person, far less a political blogger, but for the second time this month I feel I just have to vent my thoughts on what is going on. A few days ago, our Prime Minister, Theresa May, called a snap general election. This was despite her saying publicly on five occasions that she would not go for an election any sooner than 2020, as required by law. May became Prime Minister after the debacle of our referendum last summer, and was anointed by her party without an election, as the other candidates engaged in collective self-destruction. She faced pressure at the time to hold a general election, to ratify her credentials to lead the country, but withstood this. Since then, she has ditched her tepid support for the Remain camp and is leading a party which is moving relentlessly further to the right, and somehow seems to have redefined a narrow majority in the referendum into a mandate for what is known as a ‘hard Brexit.’ In other words, her aim is to break as many ties as possible with the European Union, seemingly on the basis of dogma rather than any practical or economic common sense. After all, why just have a simple car crash when you could drive the car at great speed off the highest cliff?

I’ve written recently, in The Ongoing Nightmare, about my concerns for the UK’s post-Brexit future, and won’t repeat myself here. Let’s just say that I don’t believe that the ‘information’ on which voters based their decision was anywhere near sufficiently detailed for a hard Brexit definition to be interpreted as what people voted for. Indeed, there has been some reporting of disquiet, along the lines of ‘that’s not what I voted for,’ but this has been fairly muted, largely because the media in this country – particularly the press – is of a right wing persuasion. I use the term ‘right wing,’ but I could actually have used words like insular, jingoistic, xenophobic or fascist. All apply, as evidenced by the Daily Mail’s front page headline:

I wonder if they realised that the original use of that phrase was by Lenin, in the context of opposition to the Russian Revolution. There is a certain irony in there, as that approach in 1917 led to widespread state control. I hope that history doesn’t repeat itself, albeit at the other end of the political spectrum. For non-British readers, that paper is the worst exponent of fascist ‘reporting’ – after all, it did declare support for Hitler during the 1930s, so it is keeping up its own tradition.

So why has the PM decided to go for an election now? Wouldn’t it have been fairer, if she was seeking some kind of ratification of her approach to Brexit, to have done this before Article 50 was enacted? Yes, of course it would, but although that is what she implied in her announcement of the election, I’m sceptical. Politicians tell lies, it’s how they seem to fulfil their role, and I think that was another. The real reason for the election now is a combination of opportunism and expediency. For expediency, there are growing signs that if she had waited until 2020 we could be suffering the economic fallout from a poor result from the negotiations to leave the EU, and her small parliamentary majority would be at risk from that. As for opportunism – the main opposition party is in a state of electoral disarray, and I suspect May believes she could win a landslide on the strength of this. The Labour Party has saddled itself with a leader who enjoys only minority support amongst his own parliamentary colleagues, and although he welcomed the chance to put his policies to the vote this cartoon from The Times rather sums that up:

© Times Newspapers

Corbyn has already ruled out a second referendum, and by doing so he appears to me to have given up the opportunity to offer a significant difference, and a home for disgruntled voters from the referendum. In the unlikely event of a Labour win, Brexit would still happen, and he might not be able to achieve a better deal than May could. The Conservatives will also expect to pick up votes from UKIP, who will be likely to lose much of their protest vote value. Our system means that you can get a landslide with around 42% of the vote if you do well in the right constituencies and they are polling better than that at present. Whilst there is still a lot of opposition to Brexit I think that is unlikely to translate into Parliamentary seats – I just don’t see how it could. I’d love to be proved wrong though, and there are already suggestions about tactical voting to achieve this. As I live in a constituency that had a 54% Conservative vote at the 2015 election, with UKIP in second place, I think it unlikely that would work here but there are better targets, so I can but hope.

Assuming that the Government does achieve a significant increase in its majority – a landslide is usually taken to mean an overall majority greater than 100, and this seems possible – what kind of country will we be? Parallels have been drawn between our referendum and the US election. One of Trump’s promises was, in effect, to become a much more insular country, becoming more self-sufficient and threatening tariffs on overseas goods. May has been cosying up to that abomination of a human being, and it is to be hoped that she isn’t thinking along the same lines. We will lose current access to EU markets and will have to rely on World Trade Organisation rules, as a small nation with a pressing need to negotiate trade deals with countries who would have no particular incentive to change their current arrangements and trade with us. This isn’t a strong position, despite the optimistic guff spouted by the three government ministers in charge of the process, and today’s news that the US will prioritise trade deals with the EU over the UK confirms our weakness. Trump is also infamous for his promise to build a wall to keep out the ‘bad hombres’ he believes are intent on rape and pillage. We have a natural boundary – the ocean – so being insular is, by definition, much easier for us. I hope that isn’t the plan, as we aren’t big enough as a country to survive, even without the likely loss of contributions from multinational companies who will probably scale back their commitments to Britain when the tariffs kick in. I just hope this election isn’t, all in all, just another brick in our own wall, as we would lose out – we would be isolating ourselves, not insulating.

In her speech announcing the election May said ‘our country is coming together.’ If she really believes that, then she must be living in La La Land! The 48% who voted against Brexit don’t feel that, and I’m pretty sure that many of the 52% who did are having second thoughts about the effect of their vote and the path the country is now following. In two years we will be outside the EU, in what I believe will be a significantly worse state than while we have been a member, and that is not a recipe for creating a united country – and there is the Scottish independence question to consider too. Joni Mitchell put it best: ‘you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.’

A further concern is that the electorate will suffer some kind of fatigue – this will, after all, be our third major election in successive years. This view was put well by ‘Brenda from Bristol’ when told by a BBC reporter that another election was coming:

I’m not sure that this should be a reason not to vote, but I can understand her frustration. Historically, low election turnouts have worked in favour of the Conservatives so I’m hoping the electorate aren’t all like Brenda, sweet though she may be. Perhaps Theresa May factored that into her decision as well? She showed herself to be a canny political opportunist in the way she became party leader last year, so I wouldn’t rule that out.

As you can tell, I’m not feeling optimistic about this country’s future. I’d love to be proved wrong, but somehow I doubt it. Try googling ‘Teresa May,’ i.e. without the ‘h.’ I know which one I’d prefer was screwing the country!

25 thoughts on “Building A Wall?

  1. Clive, a very articulate and well written post about your PM. I don’t pretend to understand what has brought our countries to choose such leaders but we must continue to demand that the voices of dissension and reason be allowed to be heard. Thanks for posting this at the Salon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your kind words, Bernadette. My small voice is one of many dissenters, and you’re right that we need to keep it up. Thanks for inviting me to the Salon, it’s been a great experience for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent and informative, Clive. Thank you so much. As you might probably suspect from my reply to Jodie’s comment earlier, I can’t stand the man I primarily refer to as Agent Orange, power intoxicated and behaving like a frat boy who hasn’t yet learned how to handle himself in public. And don’t get me started on what I think about his appointees!!!!

    Sounds like May has decided to embrace AO’s “alternative facts” herself. Is she tweeting?

    With the rapidity with which both our countries are moving in the wrong direction, the usage of even the English language is likely to fade in favor of Chinese – if we survive what’s undoubtedly coming, that is.

    God help us all!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Many thanks, Madelyn. I can’t stand the Orange One either, I always want to punch the tv screen when he talks down to people with that annoying habit of making a circle with his thumb and index finger! You’d think that in 70 years he’d have at least learned some manners, but I guess that’s what privilege does to you.

      May has many things I dislike but at least she’s sufficiently grown up not to tweet petulantly when she sits on the toilet in the morning. Our problem is that we don’t have a really credible alternative to her and her party, so she will win a large majority almost by default. I’d so love to be proved wrong!

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

    • What concerns me is that it seems to be boiling down to two things: be nasty, tell lies. Neither of those is what I think public service should be about. Thanks for the Twitter share, much appreciated 😊

      Liked by 2 people

    • I agree that it is unbelievably frustrating, Jodie, but if we don’t follow politics, how in the world are we to cast an informed vote? In our country (USA), I believe lack of political understanding/information led to our most recent election debacle, which leaves me, at least, mirroring Clive’s conclusion to this excellent article:
      “I’m not feeling optimistic about this country’s future. I’d love to be proved wrong, but somehow I doubt it.”
      (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
      ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
      “It takes a village to educate a world!”

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I feel your pain having endured the nastiest and most political election in the history of the United States last year. I almost didn’t vote but in the end I did go to the poll and cast my ballot. I’d like to wash my hands of the whole lot of them but in the end I hope that the people will endure taking action to make the changes necessary to keep things in balance.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I watched your election with interest, as it seemed in many ways to parallel the referendum campaign we had last year. I’ve written previously here about how abhorrent I find Trump. Sadly, it seems that we have politicians here who are using him as a role model. And his support for Le Pen in the French election tells you all you need to know about him!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I call her Maggie May and with reason. The parallels with 1983 are grim and frightening. ON the other hand here, I have passed a sleepless night as I trust in the French to go to their own polls and still fear the reaper in the guise of Disgusting le Pen …. wish me luck as you wave me goodbye!

    Liked by 3 people

    • She started as Thatcher-lite and is rapidly becoming the real thing. And Thatcher was the most divisive PM in my lifetime so that doesn’t bode well. Marmite doesn’t even run her close! I assume you don’t get to vote in France but hope they allow you the privilege here. Le Pen now has the Orange One’s public support. Says it all really. The Times ran an analysis of the possible second round combinations yesterday and concluded that she would lose around 60-40 on most of them. Let’s hope they’re right!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Agreed on every point. I don’t vote here but will certainly be exercising my right in Britain. Unfortunately I am in a strong Tory constituency but I aim to be strategic and encourage others to be the same. And most of all we MUST galvanize the young this time xx

        Liked by 2 people

      • I’m also in a strong Tory constituency so I don’t expect much attention from the opposition here. UKIP were second in 2015 but I don’t think they’ll do that again – expecting an even bigger Tory win. You’re right about the young – hopefully they will have learned the lesson from last year.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Really difficult time for Britons. May looking for a mandate for further havoc. Corbyn shows you where integrity for integrity sake gets you. If he compromises he’s another Blair; if he doesnt he is a nowhere man merely quibbling. Between the rock and the hard place. And britain the losers. Excellent piece Clive

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks Enda. I think the underlying issue is that we aren’t naturally a socialist country when it comes to elections. Blair won by disguising the party, Corbyn and his principles just aren’t sufficiently attractive to win him enough votes. He is also a career backbencher elevated to a role for which he is manifestly unsuited. My fear is that May is leading us down a Trump-lite route but we are too small a country to survive on our own. Her expected landslide will enable her to claim a mandate for taking the country to the right, there have been enough signs already of how uncaring this government is.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. Is May a Thatcher, of a different stripe? Possibly even more dangerous to ordinary people? So much of what you are telling us applies to what is happening in the USA (so close in proximity to us, here in Canada!). The caveman cartoon is priceless, by the way!

    Liked by 3 people

    • It’s beginning to look that way, though she’s lacking Thatcher’s natural charm, tact and sensitivity 😂

      There are similarities with the US, but May is a much better politician than Drumpf. Both are self-seeking opportunists though.

      That cartoon is an old one, it just seemed to fit as the end of the piece 😊

      Liked by 2 people

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