7th October 2018
Sending out an SOS – Theresa May dances to the wrong tune
The embarrassing spectacle of UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, sashaying onto the platform for her closing speech to Tory conference last week, to the strains of the Abba hit Dancing Queen, has induced laughter in living rooms cross the country. As embarrassing images for the Tories go, in a disastrous conference week, it is rivalled only by the sight of great leadership pretender, Boris Johnson, running through a field of wheat, an apparent homage to the only naughty thing his leader can remember doing as a schoolgirl.
That Johnson is a buffoon is well established but, in a party composed largely of buffoons, it is not impossible for the biggest amongst them to rise to the top. Having said that, Johnson’s fringe speech, albeit to a packed house, was characteristically high on bombast and low on practical actions.
More telling still is the lack of any actual challenge for the leadership of the Tories, either from Johnson or the eighteenth century tendency led by Jacob Rees Mogg. All of which suggests that the hardline Brexit faction in the Tory party continue to be happy to let May get on with the dirty work of negotiation with the EU while they snipe from the sidelines.
May’s response to her internal detractors this weekend is to pay an homage of her own, to the success and the policies of Labour under Jeremy Corbyn. May is careful to be clear that she does not agree with a word Corbyn says stating,
“Millions of people who have supported Labour all their lives are appalled by what has happened to a once great party under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.”
It would be interesting to know in which period of its history May acknowledges that Labour was, in her opinion, ‘great’ however….
The Comment & Analysis piece by May appears in The Observer (7/10/18) under the title Labour voters should look again at my Tory Party, here for the many and purports to be a pitch for the so called centre ground in order to tempt voters away from Labour.
May resorts to the time honoured tactic of raising spurious fears in order to knock them down and set up her own alternatives. She is forced to acknowledge that “…some markets are still not working in the interests of ordinary people”, an understatement if ever there was one, given the ten years of austerity which have followed the banking collapse and the bailing out of the banks by “ordinary people.”
May claims to want “…to help people with the cost of living” adding disingenuously that “too many people have not had a decent pay rise.” Perhaps her own party’s desire to drive down wages, reduce trade union influence and encourage a low pay zero hour contract economy might be a factor in this respect? May seems to be oblivious to the irony.
May does concede that the past ten years have “meant sacrifices for the British people”, although she fails to point out that the sacrifices have not affected those with tax dodge arrangements and offshore accounts.
However, without defining quite where we are going or how we may get there, other than “when we have secured a good Brexit deal for Britain”, the Prime Minister is insistent that “…the British people need to know that the end is in sight.” If only she were referring to the timescale left for her own government but May has never been blessed with self awareness, otherwise choosing SOS rather than Dancing Queen from the Abba back catalogue would have been more a more apt conference opener.
May further promises to “…build an economy that works for every community”, presumably as an apology for the destruction wrought upon communities across the country, by the devastation of public services to pay off the bankers’ gambling debts. She does not say that of course, she says,
“In the past economic change has left some communities behind. This time it will be different.”
That May believes that anyone can truly be convinced by this, given the record of her party and government, is remarkable. She does however conclude with a recognition that unless she attempts to tackle the toxic image of the Tories her fate at the next general election with be sealed. In a direct reference to the Labour promise to be the party of the many, not the few, May concludes,
“The British people are not bound by ideology and there has never been a time when party labels have counted for less. This presents an opportunity Conservatives must seize – to be the party not for the few, not even for the many, but for everyone in our country who works hard and plays by the rules.”
That should have tax dodgers quaking in their boots but they will be doing no such thing. They know that their offshore accounts are safe under the Tories, that corporation tax will stay at tax haven levels and that with enough cash in Tory Party coffers a knighthood or lordship could be a possibility.
May’s article follows revelations earlier in the week that the Tories have been in secret talks with some Labour MPs over voting for a Brexit deal, under certain conditions, rather than risk a government defeat, which could lead to a General Election and a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn. That Labour has such a fifth column should come as no surprise but those who choose to sleep with the enemy should be prepared for the consequences.
Labour, under Jeremy Corbyn for the past three years, have been quite clear that their appeal is to the people, that they will govern for the many, not the few. May’s advisers have clearly recognised that, in spite of the establishment and media campaign against Corbyn, his approach and polices remain popular. They are trying you steal enough of the rhetoric to encroach on this territory. As ever with the Tories, it is nothing but a confidence trick. They must not be allowed to succeed.