Monday, 12 June 2017
From Stalin to Mrs Bean
The cant and hypocrisy of Labour has been startling these last few days, or at least it would be were we not wearily accustomed to it. The rats who departed the sinking ship are now swimming back towards it, tweeting Chauncey their congratulations and acting as supplicants as they beg forgiveness and his indulgence as he hands out shadow cabinet roles. It will be interesting to see how he negotiates this process given what we know of his administrative incompetence.
Labour did well, it would be churlish to deny this. But it is arrant nonsense to say that theirs was a good campaign. Elements of it were good. Chauncey is good on the stump and was willing and indeed keen to go out and do what he does best: shout platitudes at people that make little sense in the round, but which go down well with people who pay little attention to politics and policy. Stupid people in other words.
This was the stupid election. Labour ran a Trump style campaign. It was long on promises and incoherent rants, long on lies and hypocrisy. It was short on detail and on basic competence. Chauncey was great at megaphone politics, notably awful when anyone tried to pin him down about what it all meant, what it would all cost. And when they asked him about the stupid and plain vile things he has said in the past he simply adopted the Trump approach and lied through his teeth. He even managed to spin 180 degrees and claim never to have opposed a shoot to kill policy, and the one time ardent critic of the police claimed to want thousands more of them on the streets to protect us against terrorists. These are different terrorists to the ones he used to support presumably, or indeed the ones whom, a couple of weeks previously, he had said were only doing what they do because of our foreign policy. This was not the straightforward honest politics they claim. It was straightforward dishonesty in a soft spoken voice to make it sound more plausible.
All of which explains why Labour have come into this weekend claiming, absurdly, to have won this election. They didn't. They ended up with the same number of seats as Gordon Brown in 2010. Theirs was a very good performance, but it was not enough to actually, you know, win. They lost in terms of seats won and in the popular vote. They came a close second, but they still came second. For all that they seem to have galvanised a large part of the electorate to vote for them despite their inconsistencies, lies and incoherence, they also galvanised a greater portion of the electorate to vote against them. The Tory vote remained remarkably consistent throughout the campaign at the low to mid 40s. Theresa May remains in Downing Street, not so much thanks to her campaign but despite it and because half of the country were violently opposed to Labour under Chauncey in power. Britain looks as divided as America right now. The two main parties are back.
But both parties are led by people who are liabilities. For those of us who have not become aware of Chauncey during the last couple of years, who have known of him and dismissed him as a nonentity, his rise has been startling. But it is a rise born of the fact that most people have no idea who he is. Particularly the young who think that they invented or first though of everything from sex to popular music and even, it seems now, socialism. It reminds me of when Paul McCartney teamed up with Rihanna and Kanye West and Kanye fans extolled the virtues of their idol for giving this old dude Paul a big break.
All of which should set Tory minds a little more at ease this weekend despite opinion polls (should anyone take them seriously now anyway?) and the inevitable anger, frustration and criticism that has poured out since Thursday. The Conservative Party managed to win the election, without a majority, for the 3rd time in succession despite mounting another awful, lacklustre, brainless and plain inept campaign. They ran a presidential campaign around a woman who has no charisma, no noticeable sense of humour and is a bad media performer. Her stock responses were irritating even to those of us who supported her. Her decision not to take part in debates cost her hugely. Her manifesto was a disaster. Her U turn on that manifesto was even worse. There was no vision, no ideas, no prospectus for a more hopeful future. Labour promised ridiculous promises they could never have afforded or enacted. It was pork barrel politics of the most egregious and shameless kind. But it persuaded some people. It succeeded in this because the Tories refused to engage, refused to hit back. It succeeded because Tories are afraid to be Tories, to laud their successes and to warn of consequences of yet another Labour spending spree at odds with the economic reality that we still haven't finished clearing up after the last one.
Imagine then if the Tories were led by someone who is not Mrs Bean, who is willing to go toe to toe with the liars of Labour. Imagine if it was led by someone with oodles of charisma, someone with a sense of humour, someone the public likes, someone who can get away with gaffes and missteps galore. I think you know who I mean. What other politician is known instantly by his first name without any other information?
It is generally agreed that Theresa May's position is untenable. She has to perform the duties of prime minister for now but the process of replacing her must begin now. It would be better for all if the Conservative Party could simply recognise their position now and face the inevitable. Party infighting kept Boris from the leadership last year. It was a terrible mistake. Now keeping him from it again would easily lead to the disaster of a hard left Labour government on to whose bandwagon even the so called moderates are now piling. They can smell the heady whiff of power and so they are leaving all principle behind.
It falls to the Conservative Party to save the country from this disaster. There is only one man for the job. Whatever your reservations about him, whatever your personal animus towards him, think of the country. We could easily have another election within months or even weeks if things go wrong. If Chauncey called on his friends in Sinn Fein to take up their seats in parliament as they always steadfastly refuse to do he might even sneak into power for a while or at least force another election. Thus the Conservative Party urgently needs a new leader in place. There is no time to waste.