Monday, January 16, 2017

Has Philip Hammond given away the Tory Brexit strategy?

Philip Hammond's bizarre comments about Brexit to the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag have been interpreted by many as threats against the EU, but in my view they're actually a bit of a give-away about what the long-anticipated Tory "Brexit strategy" is eventually going to be.

For over six months after the EU referendum result came in Theresa May and the Tories have kept their Brexit strategy carefully hidden behind a wall of meaningless platitudes like "Brexit means Brexit" and "red, white and blue Brexit", but Hammond's comments give a very strong indication of what the actual Tory play is going to be.

The six months of strategic vacuum from the Tories has left people with little choice but to speculate about what kind of negotiating strategy the Tories are going to adopt. Will they press the economic self-destruct button by aiming for "hard Brexit"? Or will they enrage the significant Tory bigot demographic with a "soft Brexit" agreement to keep Freedom of Movement in return for access to the Single Market?

The problem with this hard vs soft debate is the fundamental assumption that the Tories have actually been working on a negotiating strategy with the EU, rather than devising a propaganda narrative to convince the British public to accept a savagely right-wing interpretation of Brexit.

Take this quote from Philip Hammond:
"If we have no access to the European market, if we are closed off, if Britain were to leave the European Union without an agreement on market access, then we could suffer from economic damage at least in the short-term ... “In this case, we could be forced to change our economic model and we will have to change our model to regain competitiveness."
Essentially what he is saying is that if the EU doesn't cave in to the Tories impossible demands to retain access to the Single Market whilst scrapping the right to free movement, then the Tories are going to set about trashing the remaining vestiges of the European social democratic model in the UK (universal healthcare, free education, the social security system, legal aid, workers' rights ...) in order to turn the UK into the world's biggest tax haven.

It's bitterly cynical, but the propaganda narrative the Tories seem to be trying to set is a pretty smart one. The hard-right fringe of the Tory party have always hated the socialist NHS , workers' rights and the idea of providing a social safety net to alleviate poverty and suffering. They want a ruthless right-wing dystopia where the rich are freed from all social and economic constraints whilst the poor and vulnerable are left to fend for themselves or die. They know that they can't push this savagely right-wing agenda as a choice, so they're going to try to dress it up as an unfortunate necessity that has been forced on us by the nasty foreigners.

It looks like the Tories have no honest intention of negotiating with the EU whatever. What they'll do is table an impossible proposition, then attempt to frame the debate so that the EU are the bad guys for dismissing the impossible proposition, rather than the Tories being the bad guys for tabling what they knew to be an impossible proposition with the intention of destroying the negotiations before they even got started.

The likely propaganda narrative will be that the evil EU is going to cruelly "close off" Britain, leaving the brave and defiant Tory party to take "the only possible action" of reducing corporation tax to pretty much zero and wrecking what's left of our public services.

"We don't want to do this" they'll protest as they gleefully trash the post-war legacy "but the evil EU made us do it". And disappointingly millions of people will buy into the story that the UK has to take a massive lurch into fanatical right-wing territory, not because that's what the Tories always actually wanted, but because the nasty, awful, horrible, evil EU made them do it.

The beauty of this propaganda strategy is that it feeds into the self-pitying victim complex mentality that Nigel Farage and the Ukippers have fostered as a national characteristic, and which worked such a treat in convincing people that things like the EU and immigration are to blame for the appalling consequences of four decades of hard-right Thatcherite economic dogma.

If millions of people were gullible enough to buy into the austerity con (that the burden of the economic crisis should fall on poor and ordinary people rather than the super-wealthy bankers who actually caused it with their utterly reckless deregulated gambling), then it seems pretty damned likely that there will be plenty enough idiots to buy into the ridiculous self-pitying idea that Britain has to turn into a fanatically right-wing Tory dystopia of a tax haven economy because the nasty EU made us do it.

The Tories and the right-wing press will frame the whole thing as a story of plucky down-trodden Brits doing what's necessary to stand up to the nasty European bullies, and millions of people will actually celebrate the ruination of what's left of their public services, the annihilation of their workers' rights, the removal of their individual liberties, and the massive reductions in corporation tax and regulation.

They'll actually celebrate it like some kind of magnificent victory for plucky little Britain rather than a deliberate hard-right assault on their wages, public services and standards of living obscured behind a thin veil of self-pity and xenophobia!

It looks an awful lot like the strategy the Tories have been working on isn't one of how to form a post-Brexit co-operation with the rest of the EU, but actually a plan to convince a significant enough portion of the British public that there's no alternative to their wet dream of turning the UK into a savagely right-wing tax haven in order that they don't end up losing their grip on political power in the process of enacting such an atrocious scheme.

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The blank contract con

In order to figure out if you're gullible enough to fall for the blank contract con you first need to imagine that you're dealing with a person with a very shady reputation. A used car salesman, a tabloid journalist or a politician. 

Next imagine that this shady character asks you to put your signature on a blank contract, promising you that they will fill in the terms of the contract later, offering all kinds of spectacular possibilities for the wonderful and beneficial things that they'll fill in on your behalf.

Of course almost everyone would agree that it would take a spectacularly gullible person to put their trust in such a character and stick their signature on an unwritten contract. However the evidence shows that reality is clearly a lot more challenging than this simple thought experiment about dealing with con-men.

In June 2016 17.4 million British people fell for an elaborate version of the blank contract con. During the referendum debate a load of incredibly dodgy and blatantly untrustworthy political chancers (Boris JohnsonMichael GoveNigel FarageIain Duncan SmithNeil "cash for questions" HamiltonGisela StuartJohn RedwoodArron Banksthe disgraced Liam Fox ...) promised all kinds of spectacularly unrealistic inducements to get the British electorate to sign the blank contract of Brexit.

Whatever your political perspective these con-artists had a promise for you: Signing the blank contract meant they could provide £350 million a week to the NHS, send away all the nasty foreigners, save the British steel industry, get rid of tax on domestic fuel bills, combat tax-dodging corporations, put an end to neoliberalism, make fantastical quickfire free trade agreements with the United States and other countries, stay in the single market, quit the single market, put bendy bananas back on the supermarket shelves ...). If the Brexit charlatans thought that there were naive and gullible people out there who could be convinced by it, then they said it, no matter how unrealistic, and no matter how badly it contradicted the other promises being hawked by other Brexit charlatans.

Unlike the Scottish independence referendum there was no white paper, there was no effort to spell out precisely what a leave vote would entail, there was no timetable for withdrawal. The contract was blank and these political snake oil merchants were willing to tell us literally anything to get us to sign it.

"Trust us", they pleaded. "Trust us and we'll give you exactly what you want", and shockingly, 17.4 million people actually trusted the hard right fringe of the Tory party and their UKIP Trojan Horse chums to deliver Brexit!

Within a day of the Brexit vote the con became obvious to anyone paying the remotest attention. The first thing the Brexit charlatans walked away from was the "£350 million a week" for the NHS pledge that was printed on the side of their bus. The rest soon followed.

We've now suffered well over six months of  mind-numbing "Brexit means Brexit" platitudes and secrecy over what the Tories are actually going to write into the pre-signed Brexit contract, and the omens are looking pretty bad. There's obviously no £350 million a week for the NHS, but there are plenty of increasingly fanatical hard-right fantasies that nobody even remotely sane would ever have voted for.

The Tory Chancellor Philip Hammond has threatened to turn the UK into the world's biggest tax haven and scrap the remaining vestiges of the European style social democracy. People signed the blank contract of Brexit for all manner of reasons, but only the tiny barkingly right-wing fringe signed it so that they could see a bonfire of stuff like universal healthcare, free education, the social security system and legal aid in order that Britain could be turned into a vast tax haven economy dedicated to stealing the wealth of other countries instead of producing our own.

Other Tories are salivating at the prospect of scrapping our human rights and replacing them with a set of Tory allowances. Labour rights, the right to privacy, the right to free speech and free assembly, the right to family life, freedom from slavery ... They see the blank Brexit contract as the perfect opportunity to get rid of these pesky impediments to the expansion of their own wealth and power.

The huge problem for the rest of us is that the blank Brexit contract is already signed now, with a bunch of ravingly right-wing Tories free to fill in the details to suit themselves and their dodgy financial backers.

If anyone tries to resist this dangerous Tory lunge to the hard-right then they will simply say that the contract is already signed. If anyone objects to the hard-right lunacy they Tories are going to fill in the pre-signed Brexit contract with, then the Brexit charlatans and the right-wing press will label them "traitors" and shriek about how vital it is that the "democratic mandate" is respected.

The fact that so many British people fell for the Brexit blank contract con means that the Tories now have a terrifying so-called democratic mandate to enact all of their most bonkers hard-right fantasies, and those of us who did our best to warn others that this would happen are left to contemplate the awful consequences.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

The right-wing hypocrisy over "Fake News"

Whatever your view on the Buzzfeed decision to publish the unverified Watersports-gate Trump dossier, it's pretty difficult to argue that it was "fake news". Buzfeed didn't make up the dossier or its contents. They didn't make up the fact that the US secret services were made aware of its existence before the Presidential election, but chose to sit on it. They didn't make up the fact that both Barack Obama and Donald Trump were briefed about the dossier after the Presidential election. They simply made the decision to publish a leaked document without making sure that the allegations it contained were verifiable first.

The sight of Donald Trump scrawling an ALL CAPS Twitter rant about the leaked dossier being "FAKE NEWS" was one of the most blatant displays of hypocrisy we've yet seen from him.

This is a guy who fuelled conspiracy theories for years over Barack Obama's birth certificate! This is a guy who spread the fake news that the father of his Republican leadership rival Ted Craz was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy! This is a guy who openly lied about having seen Muslims in New Jersey celebrating the September 11th attacks (the only 9/11 celebrations that were ever actually verified were a bunch of deliriously happy Israelis). This is the guy who claimed that climate change is a conspiracy invented by the Chinese!

Donald Trump isn't the only one to have a hysterically hypocritical hissy-fit over the Watersports-gate dossier. Rupert Murdoch's UK propaganda sheet The S*n printed a bizarre editorial slamming Buzzfeed for supposedly "making a mockery of journalism" becuase of their decision to publish the documents, which is quite some allegation from a newspaper with such a history of printing extraordinary front page lies. Consider their disgusting efforts to pin the blame for the Hillsborough disaster onto the victims, their brazen misrepresentation of an opinion poll result in order to spread front page anti-Muslim hatred or their use of an undisclosed source to falsely claim that the Queen backed Brexit.

Not only does the S*n's "making a mockery of journalism" allegation contrast with their own appalling track record of making a mockery of journalism, it was printed on the very same day that the S*n published a fake news story about a supermarket attack in Ourense, Spain.

The sensationalist S*n story claimed that the person who was arrested was a Muslim who was carrying a bag of explosives and shouted "Allahu Akbar" before opening fire in the supermarket.

Both the Spanish police and the Mercadona supermarket chain confirmed that the man was not a Muslim and that he had no terrorist connections. In fact the police stated that he was a Spanish national who had "decreased mental faculties".

Whether you think Buzzfeed's decision to publish the unverified Watersports-gate dossier was justifiable or not, it's clearly nowhere near as unjustifiable and irresponsible as completely making up the details of an apparent mental breakdown in order to make it look like a terrorist attack by an Islamist extremist.

The hysterical reaction to the Buzzfeed Watersports-gate story from right-wingers is yet another demonstration of what a staggeringly hypocritical bunch of special snowflakes they are. They're willing to make up and dish out fake news whenever it suits their interests (which is incredibly often), but as soon as others resort to similar tactics (like publishing unverified content) they start shrieking and crying victim!

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

How would the press react if Jeremy Corbyn behaved anything like Theresa May?

The extreme levels of mainstream media bias against Jeremy Corbyn has been academically proven. Even if you're the kind of person who has "had enough of experts", consider these things.
Given that the mainstream media continually blamed Jeremy Corbyn for Brexit (123 media appearances), how is it possible to explain that Theresa May actually gets repeatedly praised for her lazy self-serving non-campaign during the EU referendum (just 29 media appearances despite holding one of the most important offices of state)?
If Jeremy Corbyn had openly bragged about his willingness to incinerate 100,000 innocent men, women and children in a nuclear fireball like Theresa May did in July 2016, would the mainstream press have painted him as a "strong leader", or would they have used it as evidence that he's some kind of genocidal left-wing tyrant?
If Jeremy Corbyn had actually quoted a bigoted and misogynistic Twitter troll in parliament like Theresa May did in September 2016, would the mainstream press have given him a total free-pass on it like they gave Theresa May?
If, like Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn had a proven track record of attacking the rights and liberties of the British people, undermining the justice system, introducing discriminatory laws and fantasising about scrapping our human rights and replacing them with a set of "allowances" drawn up by him and his mates, would the media continually portray him as a "safe pair of hands" or would they use such an appalling track record as evidence that he's an authoritarian tyrant?
If Jeremy Corbyn decided to sign off on a ludicrous rip-off deal to bribe communist China into building our energy infrastructure for us like Theresa May did, would the mainstream media have just let it pass, or would they have shrieked themselves into hysteria about his extreme-left tendencies?
The obvious answer to all of these questions is that the media would not have given Corbyn the same kind of ridiculously easy ride that they keep giving Theresa May.

The mainstream press prefer Theresa may because she's keen on tax cuts for corporations and the super-rich, which suits the billionaire sociopaths who own most of the newspapers that set the political agenda. They hate Corbyn because he's a genuine anti-establishment outsider who would shake up the political system by giving more power to ordinary people (meaning less for self-entitled politicians, billionaire press barons and lazy mainstream media hacks).

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Jeremy Hunt's solution to the NHS crisis: Scrap the 4 hour A&E pledge!

More than 2 million people waited more than four hours to be seen at Accident and Emergency departments in 2015/2016 and the number of people waiting more than twelve hours has more than doubled since 2013/14 to 185,017.

After spending the weekend in hiding after the appalling deaths at the Worcestershire Royal A&E Jeremy Hunt told parliament that he wants to condemn millions of patients to indefinite A&E waits by scrapping the 4 hour A&E target for all but the most "urgent" of emergency cases.

One of the main problems with this attempt to row back on one of the most important guarantees of NHS patient care is how the term "urgent" is defined. Anyone with the remotest understanding of the health service will know that the true urgency of cases can't be determined by a quick glance by a receptionist. The whole point of having a 4 hour commitment is so the seriousness of people's injuries/illnesses can be assessed by a qualified doctor in a timely manner.

Jeremy Hunt's solution to the appalling deterioration of the NHS under his watch isn't to abandon the plan to inflict £22 billion in ideologically driven cuts to NHS services. Nor is it to demand that the social care budget is properly funded in order to reduce the problem of NHS hospitals and beds being clogged up with elderly patients with nowhere else to go. His "solution" is to scrap the patient care statistics because they are making him look bad!

Aside from scrapping the waiting time targets Hunt actually tried to blame the NHS crisis on patients turning up at A&E units unnecessarily, which displays a staggering degree of hypocrisy given that in November 2014 he openly admitted that he took his own kids to an A&E department for non-emergency reasons instead of waiting for a GP appointment. To damn other people as "selfish" and "irresponsible" for clogging up A&E departments when he himself did exactly that just a few years ago required an extraordinary amount of brass neck.

This isn't the first time that Jeremy hunt and the Tories have scrapped official targets and statistics behind a smokescreen of blame-deflecting political propaganda. In 2013 there was an alarming 23,400 spike in the official death rate, with most of the additional deaths amongst the over-80s. Instead of launching an official investigation into this significant leap in the death rate Jeremy Hunt and the Tories just decided to scrap the official death rate statistics!

Another example that springs to mind is the Tory attitude to child poverty. In 2015 the Tories decided to scrap the government target to reduce child poverty just before they introduced another round of severe cuts to the Tax Credits that help keep children in working families out of poverty. In 2016 Theresa may went one step further with her decision to scrap the entire child poverty unit!

Just imagine the disgusting self-serving mentality amongst senior Tories that allows them to think that the best way to deal with missed targets and damning data is simply to scrap the targets and abandon the collection of official statistics.

There's no other profession in the UK where such cynical and self-serving attitudes to problematic data would be tolerated. Anyone who has worked in a real job knows that either measures are taken to actually rectify the situation, or resignations/sackings are on the cards. You can't just get away by deleting the problematic data and hoping the problem goes away.

Yet somehow the Tories get away with simply scrapping the targets they're failing to meet and abandoning the collection of data that exposes their failings than turning the rhetoric of blame onto anyone but themselves.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.


Saturday, January 7, 2017

Facebook just banned God for 30 days!

Facebook has banned "God" from posting on their site for 30 days because a bunch of right-wing snowflakes got so upset about one of his posts that they mass reported it, resulting in the ban.

The post that earned the satirical "God" page their 30 day ban was an appeal for Americans to stop spending so much money on their vast military and fund education and health care instead (see image). Before the post was deleted it picked up over 100,000 likes and 15,000 shares.

It's becoming increasingly clear that Facebook is incapable of differentiating between political content and abuse. In fact, they're so bad at it that they keep getting things completely backwards. The extreme-right hate group Britain First continues to be allowed to incite hatred against Muslims, immigrants, left-wing people and social liberals with impunity (despite the fact their leaders are a bunch of scam artists and criminals with total contempt for the British legal system). Meanwhile a satirical "God" page that has never incited hatred against anyone gets hit with a huge ban for posting a political opinion.

One of the big ironies of course is that the right-winger snowflakes who mass reported the "God" post because they're offended at such an obviously satirical political message are highly likely to be the same kind of people who rant on and on and on about how they're being censored by a dictatorial liberal elite, simply because people in the modern world tend to call them out on their racism, misogyny, homophobia and bigotry.

As far as this kind of person is concerned, any attempt to criticise what they said is unacceptable censorship (the censorship fallacy), but their efforts to get posts removed and people banned from Facebook are perfectly fine!

The ban notification "God" gets from Facebook
when he tries to post content.
The Facebook reporting system lends itself to mob rule. If enough people mass report a post then the algorithms kick in, the post gets taken down, and the person who posted it ends up getting hit with a ban from posting anything else. This means that right-wing authoritarians can orchestrate mass-reporting efforts in order to get left-liberal content removed from Facebook and bans handed out to pages they don't like.

Censorious right-wing flash mobs have succeeded in getting several of my posts removed from Facebook, including one that pointed out that the Queen Mother was a Nazi sympathiser in the 1930s, which meant I was banned from commenting, even just to explain to followers of my page what was going on.

Facebook desperately needs to improve its reporting system to prevent censorious mobs from having the ability get content deleted and people banned simply for posting political content they object to. it's unacceptable that Facebook continue sitting on their hands while right-wing mobs game their reporting algorithms to censor political content.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.


Isn't it about time for Tory voters to admit their culpability?

The NHS is in such serious chaos in England and Wales that the Red Cross have described it as a "humanitarian crisis". It's absolutely clear that the Tories are to blame for creating this appalling situation where hospitals are so overcrowded that people are actually dying. 

The crisis in the NHS has been caused by two vast waves of Tory cuts. £20 billion between 2010 and 2015 and another £22 billion in the current parliament. Additionally the health service is straining under the consequences of privatisation with rip-off PFI hospitals draining cash out of the system and David Cameron's top-down disorganisation wreaking havoc too. The enormous strain on services has also been exacerbated by the Tory defunding of social care, meaning that elderly people are turning up at hospitals because they've got nowhere else to go.

Despite the growing demand for NHS services that comes of having an ageing population and a social care system that is in ruins, the Tories have actually set in motion a vast programme of cuts that will see A&E wards closed all over the country and thousands more hospital beds scrapped.

The UK already spends far less per head of population on health provision than comparable developed economies like Germany, France, Australia and the Netherlands. We've got far fewer doctors, and way fewer hospital beds per head of population too, but the Tories are intent on making things even worse with their savage programme of cuts.

The Tories are deliberately wrecking the NHS and we told you Tory voters that that's exactly what they would do..

We told you that the Tories hate the very concept of socialised medicine with a burning ideological passion and can't be trusted with the NHS.

We told you that they'd use their deliberate defund, disorganise and demoralise tactics to inflict as much damage as possible whilst giving away the profitable bits to their private health mates.

We told you that the current health secretary Jeremy Hunt actually co-authored a book calling for the NHS to be scrapped.

We told you, but you wouldn't listen.

We told you, but you accused us of scaremongering.

We told you, but you said that the NHS had survived five years under Cameron's watch, so it would obviously survive indefinitely.

It's about time that you Tory voters admitted to yourselves, and to the rest of us, that you were wrong to entrust the NHS to the Tories for another five years of ideological devastation.

It's about time you admit that it's because of people like you that the NHS is in the state that it is, and that it's getting worse. Either that, or admit that you think the ruination of the NHS is "a price worth paying" for whatever benefit it is that you think you're getting from having Tories in charge of the nation.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.


Friday, January 6, 2017

Theresa Maybe

The Economist is hardly what anyone would call a left-wing magazine. In fact the distinct lack of critical analysis during George Orborne's six ruinous years of ideological austerity, makes it fair to say that the Economist is the kind of magazine that sits comfortably on the coffee tables of plenty of blue-to-the-core Tories. This is a magazine that knows their market, and isn't prone to harming their bottom line by giving their centre-right audience cognitive dissonance headaches by ripping the guts out of the Tory party.

The Economist isn't prone to overt criticism of the Tory party, so their Theresa Maybe front page and the scathing editorial to accompany it has become quite the political sensation.

The Brexit shambles

The main thrust of the Economist editorial's criticism is that Theresa May is dithering over Brexit. The accusation is well founded. She's working to a self-imposed deadline of March 2017 to get her Brexit strategy sorted out but there simply doesn't seem to be any progress beyond feeble platitudinous sound bites like "Brexit means Brexit" and the even more pitiful "red, white and blue Brexit".

Nobody is asking Theresa May and the three Brexiteers to give away their entire negotiating strategy, but what everyone wants to see is the basic outline of a negotiating stance.

It's been almost six months since she bagged herself the top job, and her self-imposed Article 50 deadline is getting closer by the day, yet one of the top civil servants just resigned with a letter slamming the government for their lack of negotiating objectives.

How is it possible that the British people, and British businesses still don't even know the basics? We're two thirds of the way to her self-imposed deadline and nobody even knows if she's going to try to keep the UK in the single market or commit a massive act of economic self-harm by dragging us out of the biggest trading block on the planet on the back of a non-binding advisory referendum that didn't even mention the single market in the question.

What on earth have Theresa May and the Brexiteers been doing for six months? And how on earth can they justify keeping British industry in the dark for so long?

You don't have to be left-wing or right-wing to accept the fact that economic uncertainty is bad for the economy.

The situation seems to be that Theresa May believes that months of economic uncertainty are good for her political self-interest. She knows that whichever way she plays her cards she's going to take a pasting. Either she seeks to retain access to the single market which would provoke howls of outrage from the hard Brexiters (who are a fundamentally important Tory demographic) or she commits a massive act of economic self-harm by giving the hard Brexiters what they want, which would likely go down extremely badly with British businesses, especially the financial sector (which is by far the biggest source of Tory party donations).

Theresa May's solution to this Brexit conundrum is cowardice. She's clearly trying to hold off the storms of criticism for as long as possible by keeping the entire economy in a state of harmful uncertainty. As far as she's concerned the economic damage she's causing is a small price to pay in order to do what's best for her own political career, which she imagines to be a strategy of talking in platitudes and holding off the criticism for as long as possible.

The author is clearly a Tory sympathiser

The Theresa Maybe editorial is a good read because it's written by a clear Tory sympathiser who has obviously lost patience with Theresa May's Brexit shambles. They've lost patience so badly that they've finally stopped biting their tongue and come out and said it.

The article is peppered with clues that the author has Tory inclinations. The most bizarre of these numerous pro-Tory tells is the assertion that May had "a reputation for dogged competence at the Home Office".
  • Theresa May insisted on swimming against the global tide towards rational drugs policy to force through an ideologically driven prohibitionist law that was derided by experts as "unenforceable".
If a woeful track record like this is capable of earning her a reputation for dogged ministerial competence, then I'd be fascinated to see what horrors would need to be committed in order for staff at the Economist to actually call someone out as incompetent.

Another pro-Tory tell is the way the article praises Theresa May for the way she "skillfully survived the Brexit referendum despite backing the wrong side". Theresa May clearly prioritised her own personal self-interest by keeping a low profile during the debate. It's obvious that she saw hanging on to one of the high offices of state and keeping as quiet as possible as a much better career move than picking a side and putting her best effort into supporting it.

Theresa May made just 29 media appearances during the EU referendum debate while Jeremy Corbyn made 123. Despite this massive gulf in effort between the pair, the mainstream media have set the narrative Jeremy Corbyn is to blame for Brexit, meanwhile Theresa May continues to actually get praised as "skillful" for her brazenly self-serving non-campaign!

The whole Theresa Maybe editorial is sprinkled with pro-Tory tells, but as infuriating as some of them are, these displays of pro-Tory bias actually give the piece a good deal of legitimacy. The author clearly isn't an obvious "leftie" like me, it's someone with strong Tory inclinations who has finally lost patience with Theresa May's abject dithering.

Control freakery

The Theresa Maybe article makes an interesting comparison. After raising the usual and predictable comparisons with Margaret Thatcher, the author then goes on to make a much more apt comparison with Gordon Brown.
"He, too, was thin-skinned. Like her, he moved into Downing Street without an election, in 2007. He also started with a fearsome reputation and big promises. And when it became clear he had little idea what to do with the job he had so coveted, he flopped."
It's undeniable that Theresa May displays two of the same glaring character weaknesses as Gordon Brown. She's a control freak who seems to think that the government has some kind of moral obligation to interfere in the lives of citizens as much as possible, and she's incredibly thin-skinned. When Jeremy Corbyn gets the better of her PMQs (which, despite his obvious limitations, he manages to do more often than not) May often completely loses her self-control and ends up scowling ferociously and giving furiously shrill replies.

Whether she ends up losing her grip on power at her first General Election like Gordon Brown did is another matter entirely. Admittedly it doesn't seem very likely now, but three years is a long time in politics.

What is "Mayism"?

The editorial points out that Theresa May was thrust into power just three weeks after David Cameron resigned in shame at the failure of his Brexit gamble. She got there via a farcical Tory leadership election in which Tory party members ended up being denied the opportunity to even vote, meaning that "Mayism" (whatever it is) has never faced any kind of electoral test at all.

The article then points out that May's political philosophy is hopelessly muddled, identifying her contradictory pronouncements on wanting Britain to be the most radical free-trade economy on the planet, whilst simultaneously going on about developing a British "industrial strategy". Unless May's industrial strategy consists of nothing more than "just leave it to the markets" then it's unlikely to be the kind of free-trade fanaticism she's hawking to the hard-right demographic.

This is the conclusion to the article:

"The need for every policy to be agonised over in Downing Street, the secrecy over Brexit and the silence on the government’s broader plans for Britain all point to the same problem: Theresa Maybe does not really know what she wants."
Does it really matter?

The inescapable conclusion is that Theresa May is a ditherer who doesn't really know what she wants.

She's clearly a self-serving career politician of the kind who seems to have been bought up on a diet of Ayn Rand's barmy hard-right pseudo-philosophy that pure self-interest is a virtue. She's got where she is by ruthlessly prioritising her own self interest, but now she's finally got her hands on the power she craved, she doesn't have any new ideas whatever. All she's got in her handbag is the authoritarian control freakery that saw her develop the most invasive state snooping laws in the developed world and indisputably the best Thatcher impersonation of all the female Tory MPs.

Disappointingly Thersa May's combination of incompetence, dithering, authoritarian control-freakery and an admittedly strong Thatcher impersonation are sufficient to satisfy millions of people. Her personal approval ratings are consistently better than any UK party leader aside from Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland, and the Tories are somehow soaring high in the polls.

It doesn't seem to matter how woefully inept the performances of Theresa May and her three Brexiteers continue to be. It doesn't seem to matter that her actions are clearly guided by ruthless self-interest rather than any great political conviction. It doesn't seem to matter that her rhetoric is profoundly dishonest or that her parliamentary answers are desperately evasive and clearly pre-written by a team of highly paid Tory wonks. She's got well over three years until the next election, and enough of the public adore her that she seems politically untouchable, no matter how much incompetent dithering she continues to do.

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