Tag Archives: Remain Voters

Theresa May has been exposed as a political fraud once and for all

At last, Theresa May has been exposed as the ineffective, political fraud that she is. Quite a shame it is, though, that in order for the public to realise it, the country must sit and suffer through a minority government doomed to failure whether it is supported by the DUP or not. I doubt it will make it through the Brexit negotiations, or perhaps even to 2018.

One of the major reasons why I couldn’t bring myself to vote in this election was Mrs May herself. Aside from her woeful track record as Home Secretary, in which she clamped down on valuable freedoms, ravaged police budgets and botched spectacularly her efforts to get immigration under control, this election has exposed clearly her inability to lead.

Her advisers, Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy, have rightly taken some of the criticism, but the buck will fall with the Prime Minister. And so it should. This Tory campaign was one of the worst in history. So bad, in fact, that it let an IRA-sympathising Marxist come close to Number 10. Let that sink in for just a moment.

There are many reasons why May’s campaign backfired so dramatically. One factor was a Lynton Crosby decision to make it all about their leader. It was Team Theresa, in which every vote for her strengthened her bargaining power in negotiations with the European Union.

Campaign strategy was personalised in this way in order to frame political debate in terms of the ‘strong and stable’ (ha) May and her opponent, the hapless, scruffy Jeremy Corbyn, knee-deep in attacks from his own parliamentary party and likely to require some sort of coalition in order to get into government.

It was a strategy that pitted the strong against the weak, the stable against the chaotic, and it made sense when coupled with early, convincing polling leads of up to 21 points. But there soon developed a problem. Mrs May is a very wooden and uninspiring performer, especially when put under pressure by opponents and journalists.

There were countless times during the campaign in which she blatantly avoided simple questions, and thanks largely to horrid gaffes from senior Labour figures like Diane Abbott, she was allowed to get away with them more or less unscathed. Perhaps this was the real reason she didn’t take part in either leader’s debate, forgettable and nauseatingly stage-managed as they are.

The Prime Minister knew that she would not perform at all credibly. But, regardless of the motive not to show up, there was revealed a fetid hypocrisy. Any strong and stable leader would appear at political contests of this kind to defend his or her party interests. May’s back peddling revealed fatal flaws in the Tory campaign message. It was here that things really started to unravel.

Compounding upon her oratory weaknesses was her profound lack of direction. Mrs May, ironically compared with Margaret Thatcher as her Prime Ministerial tenure began, got herself caught up in sticky, unnecessary U-turns both before and during the election.

We were told that there would be no snap General Election. We were then told that the National Insurance contributions of self-employed workers would not be raised. Then there was the debacle with social care, which was soon climbed down from for fear of alienating that vital pensioner vote.

I am sure the government is in far too weak a position to even consider pursuing it now anyway. By the time the policy is revisited, it is quite possible that Mrs May will be sitting on her couch in Maidenhead, relieved of her duties and wondering why she ever bothered to call an impromptu election in the first place.

Then came the manifesto; one of the most vacuous in modern history. In many ways it was similar to Ed Miliband’s in how lacklustre and minimal it was. It didn’t feel conservative, it felt rushed and lacking in adequate preparation. This may have been because Tory party advisers were expecting a comfortable majority whatever was written.

The Labour Party manifesto, on the other hand, was very impressive. And I am not saying that I agreed with its policy proposals. I have, for instance, spoken out against plans to scrap tuition fees and maintain that zero hours contracts have uses for a range of different people.

Labour’s manifesto was substantially more radical and included policies which retain popular support across much of the country, including amongst Tory voters. A good example of this would be renationalisation of the railways, which a recent YouGov poll (May 17th) revealed majority cross-party support for.

The latter years of the neoliberal period have been defined predominantly by financial collapse. The crash in 2008 sparked a new wave of deep mistrust of markets, but no party prior to Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour had managed to tap into that sentiment.

In this regard, I think the decision (accidental or otherwise) to leak a portion of the Labour manifesto in advance of the other parties was a wise one. Much like with Vote Leave’s use of the £350m figure during last year’s referendum, wide condemnation of Mr Corbyn’s Left-wing policies in the media backfired.

Finally, where May’s Tories spent time fire fighting with its core vote over plans to reform social care funding, the Labour Party managed to arouse younger voters and incentivise one of the surprise turnouts in recent electoral history. The great generational voting divide has opened up once more.

This blog post has been abnormally complimentary about Labour, and this is because I think they deserve great credit. I do, though, put their tally of 262 seats down mainly to Theresa May’s useless leadership and the influence of the Remain vote, seen most glaringly in pockets of London that remained blue for decades.

Labour’s radicalism was daring and paid off, but Kensington certainly didn’t become turn red in one dramatic election over plans to renationalise the National Grid. Moves towards a softer Brexit were undoubtedly made in these areas. Battersea, too, was a surprise gain for Corbyn and his team.

Despite picking up 43 percent of the vote share, Theresa May looks weaker than any Prime Minister in recent memory. There is no way she can stay in the long-term. Minority governments are rare precisely because they are a recipe for instability.

Even the Tories’ new partners, the Democratic Unionists, have differences of their own to iron out. Perhaps people will now start to realise what social conservatism really looks like.

And what really displeased me was how unreflective her speech was of the nation’s verdict on Friday morning. She had to save face, of course, but her podium address outside Number 10 Downing Street reeked of ignorance and arrogance. It is no wonder many of her Conservative colleagues now despise her.

 


Britain is leaving the EU, and she’s taking Gibraltar with her

During last year’s referendum, Remain voters were unfairly labelled as unpatriotic. I preferred not to charge those on the other side with this accusation, as I believe that patriotism can be expressed in various forms.

But I am dismayed by festering support amongst Remainers for Spain in its quest to power share over Gibraltar. This is a fundamentally un-British stance.

It is perfectly reasonable to oppose Brexit, and indeed to dread the magnitude of negotiations ahead, but to side with a potential opponent over territory belonging to the United Kingdom must be avoided.

Part of the problem here is that I don’t think the future of Gibraltar was as prominent an issue as it perhaps should have been during our country’s EU debate. Why it wasn’t remains clear: it simply doesn’t affect that many people, but it does raise wider questions about the impact of a breaking of political union on geo-political disputes.

Remain voters may point to a Spanish claim of sovereignty over Gibraltar – or at least calls for joint control – as evidence that Brexit was a mistake, but in actual fact, this is a poor excuse. Spain’s use of Gibraltar as a bargaining chip in Britain’s exit talks was to be expected, but ultimately is nothing more than political opportunism.

Spanish protests of this kind are nothing new. In 2002, residents of Gibraltar (who I remind readers are culturally and officially British) overwhelmingly rejected joint-control. I wonder if, should they intensify, NATO will step in and try to broker a deal between Spain and Britain, who have been officially allies since 1834 and cooperate extensively in military endeavours.

The EU may have said that decisions affecting Gibraltar must be run past the Spanish government, but the people of the rock have themselves made it clear that they seek to live under British rule, and subsequently, the UK government has the right and responsibility to protect them at all costs.

Britain’s continued claim of sovereignty over the territory of Gibraltar has absolutely no bearing on whether or not she is a member of the European Union. Spain surrendered the territory in 1713 under Article X of the Treaty of Utrecht; a ceding of land that Remainers will be happy to note was legally binding.

For the record, I don’t think there will be an outbreak of war and I hope that there isn’t, but one cannot rule it out. These are, after all, extraordinary political times to live in. We saw in Ukraine only a few years ago what can happen when the European Union meddles in complex disputes between competing or historically intertwined European nations.

Of course, war is not ideal, but there is no better reason to go to war with a country than if that country decides to threaten the territorial sovereignty of another. If Argentina sent battleships to the Falkland Islands, I would expect a swift and aggressive military response.

I believe that Theresa May is willing to orchestrate a similar sort of response to that of Thatcher’s in 1982. She seems to me to have the necessary grit to stand up for British interests abroad, even if her government insists on extending its current policy of shredding our armed forces (and particularly our navy) into embarrassment.

In the event of military conflict, or in presupposition of it, serious manoeuvring of our naval fleet may have to take place. We don’t have the impressive arsenal that we once had. I don’t think a British response would be quick or orderly, and our nuclear weapons certainly won’t deter the Spaniards from making moves.

But make no mistake: Britain is leaving the European Union. And she’s taking Gibraltar with her.


Brexit: the experts proved wrong…again

Well, the experts were wrong once again. I can only hope that for their sake, they knew they’d be wrong about immigration levels after the Brexit vote. They can’t have been so fatally wrong accidentally, especially given their embarrassingly naive economic forecasts last spring. There are plenty of examples of false predictions to comb through, but I have decided only to link a few.

Here is a news story that appeared in the Remain-backing Daily Mirror, just two days after the referendum: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/brexit-cause-immigration-surge-500000-8283329 and also reported by the Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3660749/Ex-immigration-minister-warns-500-000-European-migrants-head-Britain-door-slams-Britain-s-vote-Brexit.html in which Phil Woolas (former immigration minister from 2008-10) foresaw a surge of EU migrants rushing to Britain in the many months between Brexit vote and actual withdrawal.

The Independent reported on a Home Affairs Committee prediction that there would be a significant ‘last-minute dash’ before Britain completed its European Union departure: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-news-immigration-surge-latest-migrants-eu-deportation-british-expats-europe-warning-mps-a7157541.html, in which Labour MP Keith Vaz suggested that the prospect of a ‘surge’ in immigration will rise unless the government provided some clarity over the issue of ensuring the legal right of EU citizens to remain within the UK.

This prophecy was argued consistently by ‘Britain Stronger In Europe’ campaign figures. Even David Dimbleby, who may as well have been a senior fellow, mentioned the prospect of a post-vote migratory rush from the EU to Britain. It proved to be yet another example of baseless hysteria, designed to make the ‘alt-right’ think twice about using the issue of immigration as a foundation for voting Leave. I don’t think the argument was particularly effective, as Leave voters – almost by definition – had in their minds a long-term view of the country. By contrast, I think most who voted to remain in the European Union were thinking rationally about any potential, immediate economic harm.

It proved not to be the case, as today’s immigration figures show. In the year ending September 2016, net migration to the UK was 273,000 – the first time in two years that the figure has been lower than 300,000. Gross immigration in that time period has been estimated at 596,000; of which 268,000 EU citizens, 71,000 returning British citizens and 257,000 non-EU citizens. There has been no noticeable rush of EU citizens coming to the United Kingdom before Brexit is finalised.

One possible reason for these surprisingly (or perhaps unsurprisingly, if like me you are cynical and mistrust establishment forecasting) low migration figures, it has been argued, is the number of British people angry at the referendum result going to live on the continent in order to retain their status as an EU citizen. ONS statistics between the year ending June 2016 and the year ending September 2016 show a mere 8,000 rise in the number of people emigrating (and this is not specific to the European Union, thus it includes Britons going to live in the United States, India and Australia), from 315,000 to 323,000.

Note also that since passenger surveys are used to measure migration levels, these figures – despite being the best we have – should be taken with a pinch of salt. It is possible that seasonal fluctuation in the number of students arriving in and leaving Britain may have had an impact on today’s figures, but I doubt that it would have been significant. Net migration to the UK, after all, decreased by 62,000 between each of the last two quarterly reports.

I was always somewhat sceptical of the idea that there would be a substantial rush of immigration from the rest of the European Union in the period between vote and exit. I thought that, firstly, uncertainty over the rights of EU migrants – particularly those who are seeking employment – would dissuade many from making the journey, and secondly that any rise in anti-migrant sentiment and lingering frustration from certain pockets of the country (these areas tend to be poorer), especially when combined with cynical media coverage designed to blow any social division entirely out proportion, would either cause migrants already living here to leave, or to discourage those thinking about coming here from doing so.

The experts, ever candid about their wisdom and never responsible or properly questioned when their forecasts are inaccurate, have for the time being been proved wrong. There are no telling signs that a surge of migrants (they demonised those of us on the Right for using words like ‘surge’ and ‘wave’ – but were happy to use them when appealing to voters as the referendum came closer) will arrive in Britain either before or after negotiations are fully under way.

Who’d have thought it?