Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Theresa May Is UK PM - Now What?

Theresa May cartoon - don't spy on us
The cartoon on the left is my abiding image of our new PM Theresa May; an authoritarian intent on violating our privacy for our own good. She wants rid of the Human Rights Act, and either will or won't invoke Article 50, the one that begins the process of getting us out of the EU. Okay, now what?

Where are the Brexit leaders?

Has anyone noticed that all the leading lights on the Brexit side have either scuttled away or been run over by the Remain bus? Boris is gone, backstabber Michael Gove followed, now Andrea Leadsom has thrown in the towel, citing "abuse" as the reason for dropping out. Cometh the hour, cometh May. God help us all. So, what about Brexit?

May says she's committed

With Britain in the grip of buyer's regret and the lies of the Brexit side having been exposed, nobody is in a rush to implement Article 50. I don't know how UKIP dare to put their heads above the parapet after all the lies they've told but apparently they're suspicious of May, they think she will kill Brexit by the death of a thousand cuts. Well given what her party have been doing to the NHS ever since they took power (Labour needn't be too smug, they've got blood on their hands too), it's certainly not inconceivable.

Mission impossible: quit or be quitted

May is in a frying pan or fire situation; if she pulls the plug on the EU without getting a replacement trade agreement in place, we'll lose out on vital trade — years of kow-towing to the EU has ensured that we're not self-sufficient — not that we ever have been. During the Second World War we were growing veg in our back and front gardens, in public parks — this is where allotments come from.  Yet we were still dependent on supplies brought in by the US merchant navy to make up for what we couldn't grow ourselves. So we're screwed if we pull out straight away. However, May is stuffed if she doesn't make some move towards opening the Brexit door, if only to place her hand on the handle. The Tories have been riddled with xenophobic dread of EU expansionism and the ever-closer union we signed up to in 1979; the Brexit faction will not forgive their Glorious Leader if she fails to bring them safely into the Promised Land. Prime Minister may be the most powerful job in the UK but it currently comes with the sword of Damocles dangling over your head on a very thin horsehair.

The media is all over May

Am I the only one to notice that the mass media is all over May like a rash? I've just seen the BBC fall over themselves to crown her the new "queen of hearts." Hey, it might work if she can pull off the doe-eyed Diana expression. Don't knock it till she's tried it. Apparently she's aiming for the kind of centre-ground communitarian policies that would have me promoting her as a national heroine if I wasn't so ticked off with her about the IP Bill.

Mrs. May, if you're reading this, I promise you that if you drop the IP Bill, end mass surveillance, make realistic IPR laws with shorter copyright terms, end speculative invoicing, stop secret treaties, secret courts, and generally sneaking around behind the public's back, and be more reasonable about immigration, I will not only vote Tory in the next election I'll be knocking on doors asking other people to vote Tory, too. Go on, see if I don't. I mean it: lose the Fascism, win my vote.

May's promises...

May makes some outrageous promises; she has never ever behaved in the kind of communitarian conservative way she's talking about at the moment. See for yourself what she's promising:

  • "serious social reform"
  • new laws to block fat cat pay and bonuses  
  • stand up for ordinary workers
  • give consumers and staff seats on company boards to crack down on 'corporate irresponsibility'
  • build a Britain 'that works for everyone – not just the privileged few'
  • 'bring people back together – rich and poor, north and south ... young and old, male and female, black and white'
  • the Conservative Party will put itself – completely, absolutely, unequivocally – at the service of working people.
  • rebuild public trust in politics
  • strong, proven leadership
  • reunite the country as well as the Tory party 
  • trigger Article 50 around the end of this year
  • control immigration

...can she keep them?

She was a banker, why would she curb fat cat pay? Oh wait, she wants to promote consumers and workers to the boards of directors. Ah, it's all becoming clear now. She's trying to win over the lower income workers by promising them a better tomorrow if they vote for her today, kind of thing. She needs it — she's already being called out for the remarks she passed when Gordon Brown became PM — she had demanded an election so that the PM would be democratically elected. Now it's her turn to face the public. There's also the matter of proving what she says about the Tories putting themselves at the service of working people; what is she going to do about low wages and zero-hour contracts? What about housing and high rents? I'd also be interested to learn how she's going to unite the country without getting rid of the Precioussss, I mean austerity; that's the fault line. Finally, if a week is a long time in politics, five months is a lifetime. A lot can change between now and then. Remember, everyone on the Brexit side has been kicked to the kerb.

A different kind of conservatism

Theresa May's call for responsible capitalism is pulling on my heartstrings; I'm all over that, as they say on the other side of the Pond. Many of her promises echo things I've written here in On t'Internet about building from the community outwards and creating a fairer, more free social and political environment. She's wrong about this being a different kind of conservatism, though; it's what conservatism actually means. It's supposed to be about promoting traditional values, respect for authority, and maintaining social, civic, and national institutions. The Tory party had forgotten this and was merrily parceling them up and selling them off cheaply to their friends. Could May reverse the trend? You never know. I want it to be true.

A different kind of socialism?

Meanwhile, former shadow cabinet minister Angela Eagle has challenged Jeremy Corbyn for the leadership of Labour. Per the FT she's on the soft left, i.e. somewhere near the decidedly wet neoliberal-ish Ed Milliband. It's not really a different kind of Socialism it's just not as Thatcherite as Blair. Here's the fun part; while the media speculates on everything Jeremy Corbyn does, Eagle barely registers on their radar. I've already pointed out that she couldn't fill a phone box, much less a hall, and it seems I'm right; she couldn't hold the attention of reporters while pitching for the leadership. It bodes ill for the future of her efforts — if that's the best she can do, Corbyn needn't lose any sleep. Imagine if she won, though; there would be two women leading the field in politics, one of whom would be openly gay. First lesbian PM? Hey, it's the 21st Century. Eagle's failure to make a splash earlier today is not about her orientation, it's her lack of charisma — without it she's just making noise in a crowded room. We do need a different kind of socialism, though. They need to stop hating and blathering on about class and start thinking of how they can build a better tomorrow. This needs to happen before Mother Theresa of Maidenhead convinces low-skilled workers she is better at meeting their needs than Labour is.


While I'm deeply skeptical of Theresa May's intentions towards the country she is making the right noises. I'd love to see her implement the Middle-Out policies she seems to have espoused but whether she will or not remains to be seen. Comments like:

'Because we don’t just believe in markets, but in communities. We don’t just believe in individualism, but in society. We don’t hate the state, we value the role that only the state can play.'


'We believe everybody - not just the privileged few - has a right to take ownership of what matters in their lives.'

sound an awful lot like the Twofold Principle:

The individual must be free to act and the will of the people must be respected.

I like that. It really does fill me with hope that things can get better. Perhaps they will, but only if May actually believes in what she's saying here and isn't the colossal hypocrite I suspect her to be. I want to believe you, Mrs. May. Give me a reason to.

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