Is it a cliche to say that the events of the past few days have been, are and continue to be considerable? Yes, it would. But there are only so many times I want to shout out ffs and whaaaaat! Could we settle down, please, a bit? Just a bit? Sadly, though, I don’t think there is going to be a settling down.
The Conservatives unlike Labour, (and I’ll come to them in a moment, because they’re not escaping my wrath, no way) are a ruthless bunch. There’s not much democracy in their party when it comes to choosing a leader. (Yes, there are processes, but they’re mighty quick processes. When the time came for them it was a matter of hours). And for those of you over the pond who may have been surprised at the speed of Cameron’s dismissal, this has happened because we don’t have a Presidential system (we have the Queen instead. And don’t think she’s escaping my pen, I’ll get on to her at some point in another post) and hence our leaders can be dispatched in an instant without any election whatsoever.
What was it, it was only Tuesday when we had Leadsom (who?) and May as the last two candidates left standing for leader of the Conservatives and the country’s Prime Minister. Two women – wow, oh wait a minute. Well, anyway, Leadsom justified that questioning puzzlement we all felt when we heard she was on the list, as not only was she going to be a right-wing puppet manipulated by the extreme Brexiteers, not only did she feel uneasy about ‘gay marriage (what!) she turned out to be so exceedingly inexperienced in the game of politics that when it turned out she had spoken of May’s unsuitability as PM because she, May, hadn’t had any children, and the media turned on her (Leadsom, keep up) she took umbrage, was disgusted (by the media) and resigned from the list (well, if you can’t take the heat, really, what do you think politics is all about?), leaving us with May as the leader which was confirmed a few hours later (see above about the processes, and it’s still Tuesday, I think).
So on Wednesday what with saying goodbye to Dave (the superficial knave who will go down in history, but not in the way he hoped) and with May confirmed (by the Tory party) and crowned (she has to kiss the hand of the Queen) as maybe not the Khalesi but certainly Cersei, Queen of Westeros… no, sorry, must wake myself up, as leader of the Tory party and Prime Minister, we then watched a right royal farce of the naming of names of her inner circle, the Cabinet.
And the biggest shout of ffs was to hear that Boris, that oaf of oafs, was to be Foreign Secretary. I mean, what? What? But. I think I get it. Mind you I nearly didn’t, because I had been rather taken by May’s first speech as PM (the traditional few words spoken outside No 10 straight after the Palace hand thing). Poor Ed Miliband must be crying into his hanky as I never heard such a Socialist speech coming from a Tory mouth. It could have been his speech (in a parallel universe, of course). Anyway, that’s interesting, I said to myself. And then Boris. But. She’s a clever one, that May. She’s put the 3 most mouthy Brexiteers into top Brexit jobs. We have Boris as Foreign Secretary, Liam Fox as International Trade Secretary and David Davis as Secretary for exiting the EU. And if the exit goes tits up (apologies for my language but really it’s the circs) she can turn to these boys and say, ‘well, you said…. and you wanted…. and you thought….. and you didn’t deliver?’ (All said with an uplilt to her somewhat schoolmarmy voice).
So apart from having the knowledge that the world thinks he’s a complete ass (and I’d spell that differently but I really must calm my language down) rather more apparent than if he was hiding away on the back bench Boris will have to deliver – watch this space for his treatment from May as a very, very naughty boy.
Is this politics or is this farce? I was having a conversation with a friend who has some experience of dealing with our betters in Westminster, and she was saying there always has been a lot of manoeuvring and grandstanding, that goes with the territory, but alongside that there was always a sense of people doing their public duty, plus, there was always a sense of gravitas about the work being done there. And it’s that gravitas that has gone. The curtain has been pulled aside and we see the wizard(s) for what they are. Well, Cersie/May had her day on Thursday (completing her Cabinet) let’s see if she delivers.
And Labour? Oh my, what can I say, as it’s not farce. No, not at all. Instead this is a Tragedy with a capital T being enacted. Look. I whooped with joy when Corbyn was elected. I was truly over the moon that the pale wannabee, same-as-before, with no-vision-other-than-austerity candidates were defeated. Because we so needed a proper Labour visionary who would lead us back to Socialism, or, at the very least, something different to what the be-suited party apparatchiks wanted, which was a Tory-lite Labour. And he was that, he was different, he was a visionary. He also had something that appealed to many outside the Westminster bubble, which if looked at one way is wonderful, because Labour has never had so many people signing up to become members. But, is he the ‘one’? (And I know, I know, I watch too many films).
You see, the Referendum has ripped up all the scripts. Amongst many things that May has said, did you note that austerity is no longer going to be followed as a policy? Really, a total change of policy without an election? Well, great if austerity is finished with. But actually please don’t have an election, because will there be anyone to vote for against the Tories, will there be an opposition as we know it?
Yes, will Labour be in one piece after Monday? That’s Monday 18th July when an election will be held challenging Corbyn for leadership with Corbyn on the ballot (that was a tricky one, he nearly didn’t get on it) plus Angela Eagle and Owen Smith (who?). Because, setting aside the massive leaching away of the traditional Labour vote, remember Clause 4 and Blair renouncing it? Clause 4 was the absolute epi-centre of Labour thinking. The full text is:
“to secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service.”
We’re talking nationalisation here, and Corbyn probably would, if he could, re-instate this Clause. And this is the Clause that Blair revoked in 1995 to ‘modernise’ the Labour Party so that it could appeal to middle England. Actually that worked, and no I’m not a Blairite. But there are MPs in the Labour Party, and many more people outside Westminster, who went along with this only so far as it worked to give them power. But they never really forgave Blair for that major rift from Socialism that was caused by that revocation of Clause 4. And that is what the pro-Corbyn MPs (all 40 of them) are on about when they call out the other 172 Labour MPs as Blairites. These 40 MPs truly want a more socialist Labour, as do the many outside Westminster who have joined up recently (over 500,000).
Well, great, but step back a bit, please. Can you see yourselves. The in-fighting; the anger; the acrimony; the name-calling; the meetings in Westminster (it’s the NEC, I’m talking about) tinkering with the rules; the NEC making last-minute decisions forbidding meetings and suspending constituencies; the bitterness of those opposed by the NEC in the local constituencies. The Labour Party has turned inward and is eating itself just at the time when it should facing forward and uniting against the Tories.
What an unholy mess you’re in Labour. And could I just say this, if May, a Tory, can say at a drop of a hat, austerity is finished with and I want to help the poor (and yes, I know, she’s just saying this and has to deliver) where does this leave you? And yes, the media has been against Corbyn from the start – I agree, I read the Guardian and I know it. But is Jeremy, the one? Rake the scales off your eyes, people, please, because, perhaps he’s not. Is it worth destroying a Party for this person?
That’s all for now. I will continue this with, I absolutely predict, more events, but also how we as remainers deal with these events not only in the next few weeks, but over time as we leave Europe.
Penny Kocher 15th July 2016