Tuesday, June 13, 2017

After the Earthquake

When the Exit poll arrived I was, for a moment, utterly elated. 

The Conservatives had finally done enough to alienate even their most die-hard supporters. Fox hunting, grammar schools, dementia tax and above all the Kamikaze Brexit -not to mention all the other festering, broiling drivel of their brain dead manifesto and vacuous campaign- had finally brought the Tories to defeat. Yet, and yet, Theresa May, in all her tin-eared, out-of-touch, arrogance remains the Prime Minister. Despite Boris Johnson's transparent moves- as George Osborne noted, Johnson has a permanent leadership campaign- in fact Mrs. May, despite electoral embarrassment bordering on humiliation, remains Prime Minister and will probably survive for far longer than the chimpanzee cage of the British press currently thinks.

The fact is that after the biggest scare of their lives the Conservatives are in the same mind set as Dr. Johnson: "When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully". If they do not focus now, then a second election would lead not merely to defeat, but to utter rout. by Sunday, Labour were already 5 points above the Tories in the polls and a second election can only have one winner.

Many of us were outraged by Theresa May. 

Her "Citizen of Nowhere" speech was the most disgraceful, provincial, no-nothing speech I have ever heard a British Prime Minister make. It was close to a rejection of the values of the enlightenment as any UK leader has made in 200 years and once made, the rest of the May disaster was sown: the rejection of any compromise over the EU and the only deal being no deal.

Of course any thinking person must gain a certain grim delight from the failure of the feral, ultra-right British press pouring buckets of manure over the Labour leader- and being roundly and totally ignored. The satisfaction that the hate goblins of the Mail, Express, Telegraph and Murdoch have lost their power to lead public opinion is the greatest joy of this election. Yet Paul "vermin" Dacre retains his privileges, rather than being tarred-and-feathered, as you might think common justice might command.     

Yet the choice of Mrs May or Mr. Corbyn is a choice of being shot or being hanged.

Corbyn's vision of the future is in fact the vision of a better yesterday coated in a a sickly syrup of special pleading and willful ignorance. His cowardice in failing to challenge the kamikaze Brexit of Theresa May is as laughable as it is contemptible. His vision of nationalized, subsidized Britain is as provincial and out of date as Theresa May's fox hunts and grammar schools. Some people with only 2 "E"s a A level go on to educate themselves- Mr. Corbyn never has. Although he began life as a trade union organizer for the tailors trade union, in fact he never qualified as a tailor, only as an agitator.  His policy prescriptions are as intellectually empty and as uncosted as those of the Tories. He may seem to have the tweed and chalk dust qualities of your rather ineffectual geography teacher, but the reality is that he is much less qualified.

So the choice was provincial arrogance or provincial ignorance.

What then for the Liberal Democrats?

Surely in the face of the simultaneous intellectual implosion of the right and left in British politics there should have been a revival of the kind of muscular liberalism that speaks for internationalism, globalism, openness and economic literacy?

Well, not this time. In fact the percentage of the vote fell even from the nadir of 2015. Our sole comfort was that we fought the election better, so that in our key seats we made a few gains. yet the loss of Nick Clegg was bitter indeed. Of the 9 seats we held last Wednesday, we lost five of them. Ok it was close, and for 2 votes here, 45 there, we could have not merely gained but doubled from 9 to 18 or so. More to the point with Ed Davey and Jo Swinson back, the Liberal Democrat benches have some big hitters returning to the House of Commons.

However for the time being the battle is not coming our way. However that gives us some opportunity to plan and build, and I hope we do. I will be trying to make the case of a more modern, innovative ideology to put forward to the party and to the country.

The time is surely coming when a party that can put forward a positive vision of the future will overcome the backwards looking intellectual failure of both left or right. 

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