The General Election in Britain is over. After less than a year in the job of Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party; with a working majority of 12 in the House of Commons (the first Tory majority secured since 1992) and stratospheric opinion polls recording Conservative leads of between 20-22%, the Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party the Rt. Hon. Mrs. Theresa May MP and her Downing Street/campaign team managed to some how squander one of the biggest leads in modern British opinion polling and go from a working majority in their own right to no majority with a split Parliament and the Labour Party under the remarkable leadership of Jeremy Corbyn resurgent, breathing down their neck. How could this have happened?
This was a General Election the Prime Minister did not need to call. One was not legally scheduled until 2020. Mrs. May repeatedly said over and over again after taking the keys of Downing Street last July that there would be no snap election. That the country – already in a deep mess and badly divided and exposed after the ghastly EU Referendum – needed a period of stability and to get on with delivering the near split decision of the British electorate to cut off their nose in order to spite their face by quitting the European Union.
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (Source: Wikipedia)
Yet despite her pathetic attempts to compare herself to the true Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher, Mrs. May has displayed a tendency to continue to flip-flop, doing U-turn after U-turn and going back repeatedly on her word and on stated positions. She also displayed a remarkable lack of ease with the British people and lack of spine in refusing to take part in debates with her opponent Mr. Corbyn. Mrs. May called this pointless, needless General Election ostensibly because she said she wanted “strong and stable” Government heading into the Brexit negotiations when in reality her party and Government’s position was fine in the House of Commons and no matter what the size a British Government’s majority in the House of Commons is, it is Brussels who hold all the cards in the impending divorce talks.
No, the real reason Mrs. May called this dreadful election was because she and her toxic advisors, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, were punch drunk on here today gone tomorrow opinion polls; power crazed, arrogant and hubristic and decided to put short term party political power grabs ahead of the national and international interest. So strange for a Leader whose mantra was that politics was “not a game” and that she liked nothing more than to just “get on with the job“. Yet, they did not seem to understand the forces they were grappling with and the political law that once you call an election you simply cannot control what happens and the outcome, no matter how much of a control-freak one may be in Downing Street. As the excellent former Director of Communications for Mrs. May, the lovely Katie Perrior, who quit the day she called the election put it:
“I have written before about a whiff of arrogance emanating from No 10. It turns out the public couldn’t just detect a whiff, the place bloody well stank”.
So have other like minded people such as myself who been writing exactly the same thing for months now.
It has backfired on Mrs. May, her party and her advisors in spectacular fashion and has not only damaged Mrs. May’s credibility and that of her clique of immature, conflict driven apparatchik advisors, but it has once again as with the monstrous EU Referendum, damaged the country, badly divided it and left it in a mess just as it is embarking a year on after the ridiculous EU Referendum with the biggest constitutional, economic, political enterprise since Britain went into what was then called the EEC or perhaps even since the onset of World War II. Mrs. May and her advisors managed to do something quite astonishing in modern British politics: turn a Commons majority secured less than two years ago in their own right into no majority. They managed to destroy a massive lead in the opinion polls to the point were in terms of the national share of the vote the Labour Party are only 2% behind and have improved massively their share of the vote under Jeremy Corbyn at 40% unlike the 35% under Tony Blair in 2005, 29% under Gordon Brown and 35% under Ed Miliband.
The whole message, theme and overarching rationale of the May/Timothy/Hill 2017 General Election was to deliver “strong and stable” Government. Yet they have in fact delivered the opposite. Now the Conservatives are a minority Government – the largest single party – but with no working majority of their own and reliant on the truly nightmarish, ghastly, sinister crackpots of the fascist, antediluvian, stone age DUP who are some of the most uneducated, un-intellectual, crude, primitive, provincial bigots in the UK if not Europe. The DUP are well and truly modern day peasants and it is they that the British Conservative Government of Theresa May and her Tory Party will now be reliant on.
Former Chancellor George Osborne (Source: International Business Times)
As the brilliant former Chancellor George Osborne put it Mrs. May is a: “dead woman walking“. It is now only a question of not if but when her party chuck her out. What a laughing stock she is and what a laughing stock she has made the UK in the eyes of the EU and the World, which it had already become after the horrendous EU Referendum and its pathetic result. So much for strong and stable leadership. So much for that massive 100-seat majority she thought she was going to grab. A split Parliament with no one party in over all control during what was already a shambles of self-induced Brexit madness! What a mess. What chaos. Brexit Britain in further chaos. Theresa May will be gone by the autumn. The Tory Party are the most ruthless political party in Britain if not Europe. They will now turn in on themselves and once the Summer Parliamentary Recess kicks in the anti-May rebels will move against her.
You see the problem is the issue of loyalty and how you treat people. Loyalty is a two way street. From the moment she entered Downing Street Theresa May started wielding an axe and treating people with such contempt and such nastiness. This is why none of her Ministers or Backbenchers will show any loyalty to her and she will not be able to count on her Cabinet colleagues. Because she showed no loyalty to them and treated them so poorly. Very English. Yet when you treat people so badly, sooner or later, they will turn on you and administer a dose of the same medicine which had been administered to them. As Nick Clegg put it:
“When you live by the sword, you die by the sword”.
So where Britain now for? A split Parliament with a strengthened Jeremy Corbyn Labour Party which picked up seats for the very first time in rock solid, true blue places like Canterbury and Kensington and a badly weakened and diminished Tory Party in office but not in power beholden to the wack jobs of the DUP. It has been nearly a year since the result of the EU Referendum and yet the British Government is no further on in sorting out its negotiating position. A soft Brexit? A Nick Timothy Hard Brexit? To stay in the Single Market or not to stay? What on earth is it to be? How ironic for all the anti-European, anti-Brussels propaganda of the Leavers that the EU is so slow, inefficient and incoherent it is now the Brits who are rightly seen as the inefficient, confused and incoherent.
The clock is ticking thanks to Mrs. May and her advisors. She has triggered Article 50 and there is no going back. We all know thanks to the EU when the negotiations will end. Yet no one because of the procrastinate, arrogance and obfuscation of the British Government know when the talks will start. They where due to start on June 19th but we shall see. A lot of us in Britain have been extremely angry and concerned at the direction the country has been headed in. Hopefully this election result will put paid to any notions of a Hard Brexit and any “cheap talk” of “no deal is better than a bad deal“. Perhaps thanks to some of us, this whole Brexit madness may even be stopped firmly in its tracks. Or not.
What is clear is that the Conservative Party and the British Government need a new leader. Someone with real life experience outside of the Westminster village who have their finger on the national pulse and is intellectually and politically confident enough to think on their feet and does not need to completely rely on two dead weight toxic know nothings such as Timothy and Hill. A Leader who understands foreign policy and international relations and is not in the pocket of MI5. As Phillip Stevens writing in the Financial Times put it recently: “In Whitehall code Mrs. May is more 5 than 6“. This means she is guided by, if not controlled, by people who know little about and do not understand the world and life beyond Britain or even the Home Counties and are not the most highly educated and cosmopolitan of individuals.
We must have a British Prime Minister who is more MI6/Foreign Office and is advised by MI6/Foreign Office. A Prime Minister who will smooth relations with the European Union and negotiate the best possible deal in good faith and amicably with Britain’s European friends and partners, her brothers and sisters . A Prime Minister who will reinvigorate the “Golden Age” in relations between the UK and the amazing China, the second largest economy in the world, a fabulous country who are so keen to partner with Britain and work closely with Britain based on mutual respect, mutual trust and mutual cooperation. George Osborne understood this with his strategically brilliant geopolitical policy of becoming China’s “best friend in the West” and moving closer to China which would lead to greater inward investment into Britain at a time the UK so desperately needs critical foreign investment and enhanced trading relationships.
If Britain is to leave the EU Single Market and Customs Union then a new geo-strategic economic framework could be the full participation and engagement with the wonderful President Xi Jinping‘s visionary project of the New Silk Road: the Belt and Road Forum. This is a fantastic project and Britain could reap great benefits from it. And the Chinese really want Britain to be a strong and full partner on this project. As the splendid Chinese Ambassador to London recently wrote in the Telegraph:
“for more than 2,000 years, the Silk Road has borne witness to exchange and friendship between the East and West. With its tales of trade and travel down the ages, the route has traditions that have become a source of inspiration for those who seek new opportunities for common development. Now, China is looking to work with Britain in a new partnership, on a new Silk Road for today: the Belt and Road Initiative”.
This project of President Xi Jingping (one of the greatest leaders on the planet today) aims to harness the potential of countries on the old Silk route – countries in Central Asia, West Asia, the Middle East, and Europe – to develop economic and trading partnerships through greater infrastructure and cultural links. Some of the fruits of this approach can already be seen with the first freight train from China’s eastern town of Yiwu arriving in London in January, extending the Belt and Road (B&R) to the far western end of Europe. This was something Mrs. May heavily influenced by her xenophobic, Sinophobic toxic advisor Nick Timothy simply did not understand or was too MI5 prejudiced to see the bigger global strategic picture and the enormous benefits it could bring to Britain. The toxic Timothy went out of his way with some help from his friends in the Home Office/MI5 to do everything possible to undermine, if not destroy, George Osborne’s excellent work on strengthening UK-China relations and taking them to a new level in the “Golden Age”.
After writing the most ridiculous and appalling Manifesto for the Conservatives 2017 General Election which helped ruin their chances it should be remembered that it was Nick Timothy, a Home Affairs advisor, who wrote the biggest load of rubbish I have ever read regarding China and the Golden Age in relations between the UK and the PRC. It was also Nick Timothy who nearly scuppered the Hinkley Point C deal. Well, at least now he is gone. But it remains to be seen if a new Conservative leader and Prime Minister will pick up where George Osborne left off regarding the critically important strategic relationship for Britain with the Chinese. Perhaps Mr. Osborne should reconsider his departure from front line politics and return in a by-election? I’m sure that could be arranged.
Matthew Jamison is a Senior Parliamentary Researcher at the House of Commons. He holds two degrees from Cambridge University.
Featured image: Strategic Culture Foundation