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The UK Election – rambling down the side roads

May 10, 2017

As always, there’s coverage aplenty on The Great British Drone-Off – also known as our current general election campaign. I’m not planning to write too often on the subject, but I will share a few random thoughts that have occurred to me during the first couple of weeks of the campaign. My emphasis is on stuff that I haven’t come across elsewhere.

I’ve met people who argue that because David Cameron was unable to meet his objectives in negotiations with the EU prior to the referendum, the EU is intransigent and incapable of reform, which is why we must leave. They are wrong. Reforming an institution as large and complex as the EU takes years, not the three months Cameron gave himself to get a special deal for Britain. He was always going to fail, and should have known that from the outset. He should also have known that time is a critical factor in any negotiation. The party that has a known deadline is always at a disadvantage when the other side doesn’t. Cameron had three months. The EU had forever.

There are those who admire Jeremy Corbyn because he is a man of principle. I’ve no doubt they’re right. But being a man of principle doesn’t make a person an effective leader, let alone a successful politician. You can promise the earth, but unless the voters believe you can make promises come true, you have no chance. So the big question about Corbyn is not whether he has the right policies. It’s whether he’s nasty and ruthless enough to succeed as a political leader.

Where does Jeremy Corbyn’s accent come from? Born in Wiltshire, educated in Shropshire, speaks Estuary. A deliberate makeover, or have his years in Islington slowly rubbed off on him? In which case, surely he would sound more like Tony Blair.

Speaking of accents, there are some who claim that Nick Clegg has more gravitas in his little finger than Tim Farron. Might that be because Farron speaks with a northern accent, whereas Clegg, educated at one of the UK’s most prestigious private schools, speaks in the honeyed tones of the establishment? History suggests that if you’re not posh (Jo Grimond, Jeremy Thorpe and Paddy Ashdown), Scottish (David Steel and Charles Kennedy) or both (Menzies Campbell), you’re a bit of an outlier as far as potential Liberal voters are concerned. Prove me wrong Tim!

Pundits claim that the Conservatives, on the evidence of the council elections, have gobbled up the UKIP voters. Maybe, but who did those people vote for before UKIP existed? Labour? I doubt it – at least not many. More likely they’re returning Tories who will be reabsorbed into the reactionary wing of the party. The big question is whether the new MPs – of which there may be more than a hundred – will turn out to be as reactionary as the returning voters. In which case, we should be prepared for the most right-wing government in recent history. If the mainstream media wants to do us a real service, it should do some research on these candidates, so that we have some idea about what kind of government we’re electing.

The presidential style of the Tory campaign creates a hostage to fortune. We are being encouraged to vote for Theresa May, not the Conservative Party. The trouble is that if May goes at a time not of her choosing, then the government will be seen as illegitimate, with the result that we’ll have to have yet another bloody election.

The bad news is that Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May will not take part in a head-to-head debate. The good news is that the seven leaders of Britain’s main political parties will debate, with stand-ins for May and Corbyn. A good chance for a potential successor to Corbyn to strut their stuff, and an excellent chance for one of May’s mediocrities to bore us to death. Unless, of course, she chooses Boris Johnson….

More when I have it.

From → Politics, UK

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