Irony was ladled upon mendacity last night, as the Brexit Coronation of Theresa May turned into a chaos of coalition. It could, in turn, lead to the State funeral of Brexit. As a democrat, I’m delighted. As a Leaver, I’m bitterly disappointed.
You will be unsurprised to learn that the Slogometer has been consigned to the bin. My gut told me that the turnout increase was being hyped, and a 3% uplift in that factor (under our bonkers election system) is enough to wipe out seats – as Edward Atastroke found in 1970, much to Harold Wilson’s dismay. In the most disappointing result of the night, however, Corbyn’s campaign to get the vote out was not quite enough to rid Westminster of the truly unpleasant Amber Rudd.
All that said, I am absolutely delighted overall with the result, because it gives nobody any power to do anything whatsoever. Once again we have a proper Opposition in England, another Independence referendum in Scotland is now off the table, and the most profoundly greedy, deaf-to-all-pleas Conservative Party of my lifetime finds itself in a pickle wrapped in a conundrum housed in Pandora’s box. Equally reassuring for me is that while Jesus Coalbin has indeed done a miraculous job, he’s still going to wind up with around 52-55 seats less than the
Ides of May Stabbing fest sorry, Tory Party.
You may think me ironic in those observations, but you would be wrong. If they’re prepared to listen to them, the Fakelection offered very serious lessons for the British political class. Only the preparedness to listen is in doubt….but you never know.
First among equals is that the mainstream British voter wants neither heartless Thatcherism, nor Corbynite socialism, nor separatism. The extremes of neoliberals, Momentum activists and Scottish Nationalists lack the support to carry the day alone.
Second and closely connected to this, the clear feedback from last night is that the traditional ‘Party line-up’ is so out of kilter with the problems and challenges of a changing century, it is no longer fit for purpose. It needs new blood, it needs electoral and constitutional reform, and above all it needs fresh philosophy rather than creaking ideology.
The only soundbite that will survive this exercise in misplaced hubris is ‘coalition of chaos’ – because however things pan out, that’s what we’re going to get. Theresa May put personal ambition before the safeguarding of Britain, and she must now pay the price of her actions.
Third, what the Establishment in all its colours airily dismisses as populism is in reality a Wind of Change. We have seen it in Greece, Hungary, the US, France, and now Britain. Brussels may be rubbing its hands with glee this morning, but that’s because the likes of Schulz, Dijjeslebleom, Verhofstadt and Juncker understand less about British politics and society than my doormat.
All would do well to observe the fervour with which one electorate after another has rejected formulaic, tentative secrecy and control in favour of Hope for the Unheard. I parodied Corbyn the Messiah not because I think he has delusions of grandeur, but because the Labour spin was (to me at least) vomit-inducing: ideology too easily degrades into idolatry.
Now the track record of populist delivery is not great: Orban has stood firm in Hungary, but Tsipras, Trump and Macron either have already (or will) produce bitter disappointment. My view on Corbyn is that, if he ever does get into Number Ten he will prove to be inept, his team will be lightweight, and he lacks the experience to cope with the perfidy of Brussels, stock markets and currency dealers that will be ranged against him.
But none of this is to the point. There is a man in the White House who is effectively an Independent. There is a President in France who doesn’t even have a Party in the Assembly yet – and who won a contest in which neither Establishment Party made it through to the second round. Corbyn himself is a People’s champion inside a majority Labour Party that long ago lost the plot: and his stump-appeal put control-freak Theresa May in a very poor light indeed.
She too has tried to keep her own riven Party ranks quiet and rule through her own clique. That is going to have to change. And this represents a very real and present danger to the most successful populist of our generation, Nigel Farage.
While last night’s result has stopped all power-hungry juggernauts in their tracks, the only genuine loser in the pack was real Brexit: that is to say, one that unequivocally includes vigorous selling to new markets, and total control of our borders.
This irony is beyond bitter. UKIP sat out the Fakelection in the hope that the vast majority of their support would hand the election to the Tories. In fact, it has handed the advantage to Remainers everywhere. I said to UKIP insiders from the off that I could not get my head around their strategy. I still can’t: it was always evident that, over time, Farage’s creation (for that’s what it is) had stolen more and more votes from Labour. Those converts were desperate for change – why on Earth would they leak back to a jubilant Tory Party practically on the verge of reintroducing crucifixion for benefit cheats?
The Kippers are going to find it an uphill job to get those Labour supporters back…especially if Corbyn remains quietly pro Brexit. And if they want to steal share from the Conservatives again, they will have to dump Paul Nuttall pronto. The bloke is far too much of a gutter oik to ever have broad appeal in Middle England.
I haven’t spoken to influential UKIP staffers in over a week, so I can only guessticulate. (That’s a cross between speculate and gesticulate). This is it:
But for the time being, enter Pavane of nasties, loonies, fluffies and gargoyles spinning, claiming, faking, leaking and drivelling…..
Footnote: I will grant the LibDems this: even with a Jack in the Box as leader, they have come out of this squeeze remarkably well. As we have seen before, they may be niche, but the niche is quietly very loyal indeed.