No Minister

Posts Tagged ‘Theresa May

The Precious Midpoint

It’s a truism of politics that you win the centre to gain and hold political power.

But there’s a difference between acting on that and worshipping it as a religious principle that requires politicians to do nothing but sniff the winds and bend accordingly to what they detect.

Politicians and political parties that do that are doomed to accomplish nothing in power beyond managing the status quo until they tire and are voted out in favour of the next new, shiny thing. And if enough time goes by and the status quo breaks down, such a party will simply be left on the side of the road.

Strangely this seems to be the fate of the old socialist parties of France and Germany, which are facing extinction as major players, and the British Labour Party seems to be intent on joining them, as noted in this article, The Road to Hartlepool Pier:

But worst of all is that this transmogrified middle-class party views its old working-class constituency not simply with incomprehension but with contempt. “Yep”, Liddle quotes a “Starmer superfan” as tweeting about the result, “as expected the working class love a bit of nationalism and racism. Well done Hartlepool, you turkeys. I’ve never been and I never will”.

“The Labour Party we knew is gone,” Liddle concludes, “gone for good. Those votes are not coming back”. Stirring stuff and written from the depths of a Social Democrat’s soul.

But the article points out that this is nothing new for British Labour or British Socialism, as implied with the title of the article, cribbing from one of Orwell’s famous books:

“The truth is,” Orwell concludes, “that to many people calling themselves Socialists, revolution does not mean a movement of the masses with which they hope to associate themselves; it means a set of reforms which ‘we’, the clever ones, are going to impose upon ‘them’, the Lower Orders.”

That was written in 1937.

Here in New Zealand I have to wonder if the same thing is true of the National Party? Certainly Chris Trotter notes the problems that Centre-Left parties are having overseas but is cocksure that the same won’t happen to NZ Labour, with his “Four Houses” analogy:

Far from losing touch with its brown working-class base, New Zealand Labour’s liberal, university-educated middle class: the house members of Working With My Brain and Taking Care of Others; are doing everything they can to empower Maori and Pasefika New Zealanders. They are doing this by strengthening their unions; by increasing their benefits; by more appropriately tailoring health and educational services to their needs; and, most significantly, by reconfiguring New Zealand’s constitutional structures to ensure their voices are heard and their cultural needs recognised.

Ironically, this leaves New Zealand’s National Party where British Labour now appears to be standing: with insufficient allies to win a nationwide election. Of New Zealand’s four houses, only Taking Care of Business (especially rural business) is overwhelmingly loyal to National. Increasingly, the house members of Working With My Brain, once more-or-less evenly split between National and Labour, are clustering around like-minded “progressives”.

And here also:

The only real questions, after Thursday’s Budget, is how long will it take National to realise how profoundly the political game has been – and is being – transformed by Covid and Climate Change? Will it be two, three, or four terms? And, how many leaders will the party have to elect, and discard, before it finally masters the new language of electoral victory?

While that’s amusing and something to think about, it must be said that poor old Chris has a long, repeated habit of swinging from orgasmic joy at Labour electoral victories followed by dark mood swings as they flail around and fail to recreate the wonders of Micky Savage’s First Labour Government. That second article might as well have been titled the same as the famous cover of Newsweek in 2008, heralding the arrival of Saint Obama and following the spending spree of the Bush Administration as they effectively nationalised a stack of financial firms.

Things turned out differently of course.

However, the reason for my post’s title was the thought that National may actually be thinking the same as Chris, and it’s been foremost with ex-Cabinet Minister Wayne Mapp, commenting on a number of blogs, including Trotter’s. Here on No Minister he has of course regularly lambasted me as being to the Right of 90% of New Zealanders and I have acknowledged as much.

But over on Kiwiblog this comment from Wayne in a DPF post on electric cars, made it clear that it’s not just me he’s concerned about:

Fourteen out of twenty four comments criticising DPF, either directly or indirectly, for choosing an EV. It does show how far Kiwiblog commenters are from the midpoint of NZ voters.

Given that the vast majority of those comments were not knee-jerk reactions but accurate observations about the cost, range, life-span and capabilities of EV’s, and given that many of those people are or have been National voters, I thought that was a foolish and reactionary comment itself.

But it does show the thinking that’s evolving here, at least with one ex-National MP, and it’s thinking that fits perfectly with Trotter’s about what’s wrong with National and where they have to go to regain power – which is basically to just cede all these fundamental arguments to the Left, roll over and awaken when the electorate eventually tires of Jacindamania.

Given that Labour and its policies were floating around the low twenty percent mark in mid-2017 before the Hail Mary pass to Jacinda yielded a massive increase in Labour’s vote share, even as the policies remained the same, I think that simply following them in those basic policies, if not in detail, is stupid beyond belief.

Having talked to countless Jacinda worshippers and having always asked them the key question, “Would you vote for Labour policies if Jacinda vanished today?”, I’ve not been surprised to find them answering that they’re not actually aware of Labour policies and a hesitant answer that they might still vote for them. In other words, at rock bottom, the popularity of Labour is still in the pre-Jacinda range of early 2017.

As the threat of Chinese Sinus AIDS retreats and the costs of being a NoRightTurn extremist on AGW mount up, especially for that “brown working-class base”, I don’t think even the magic pixie dust of Jacinda will be enough.

Instead of aping the strategic goals of Labour and sneering at their own voters, what National should be thinking about is what the votes for Brexit and Trump in 2016 and for the British Conservatives in 2020 meant, and what the changing politics of things like the recent Hartlepool election meant – rather than imagining that the forces driving them can be wiped away by defeating Trump-like politicians.

National is not going to be rewarded by simply saying that it will do the same as Labour but with better management. In the face of failing public systems, especially education, that’s no longer good enough. The 2020 election told National that when voters are presented with such a choice they’ll just vote Labour.

And the lesson is not to be like the New Zealand equivalent of Mitt Romney, Theresa May or David Cameron – all squishes who either failed to get elected or if they were, failed to grasp the actual electoral environment they claimed their “moderate” noses could sniff out.

That approach just won’t cut it anymore with Centre-Right parties. Real, practical solutions based around giving incentives to individuals – in education, healthcare and other areas – are what is required. Certainly not something that “‘we’, the clever ones, are going to impose upon ‘them’, the Lower Orders“, from the hearts of wealthy suburbs sporting myriad electric cars.

The midpoint is there to be moved, not just accommodated with as others move it.

Just as important is that all this needs to be backed by a willingness to fight with the likes of Tova and John Campbell when they use their usual emotional bullshit arguments in opposition. That’s yet another lesson that Trump has taught at least the next generation of GOP politicians. I see Nikki Halley is already being talked up, but the future actually lies with the likes of Ron DeSantis, Tim Scott, Tom Cotton, Mike Pompeo, and Kristi Noem.

Who National’s future lies with I have no idea.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 6, 2021 at 10:23 am

BREXIT: Time to cut the cord on May and the EU – Part I

Enough. It’s time for Britain to pull the plug on withdrawal agreements, honour the 2016 referendum result, and get the hell out of the EU with no deal.

But first the plug is going to have to be pulled on the Conservative PM, Theresa May. She is surely the worst Conservative British PM since Stanley Baldwin, and likely to exceed Tony Blair as the worst overall of the modern era if she manages to stick around much longer.

Setting aside conspiracy theories that as a secret Remainer she’s simply throwing sand in the Brexit gears in the hope of wearing them down and staying in the EU, she should be given the boot for sheer incompetence across the board. Given my prior low opinion of her, because of her approaches to civil liberties when she was Home Secretary, none of her uselessness comes as a surprise.

It’s not uncommon for political leaders, even bright ones, to become obsessive about a policy that everybody else can see is a loser: Thatcher and the poll tax, Bush and Iraq, LBJ and Vietnam, Merkel and mass refugees,  Key and the NZ flag, Adern and Kiwibuild.

And now we have May and her godforsaken Withdrawal Agreement, where obsession is the only explanation now that it’s failed in Parliament three times, losing by huge margins. Even the third vote could only be held when the Speaker allowed minor modifications to it, allowing it to be a “different” bill. I doubt he’s going to accommodate a fourth vote. May’s latest wheeze is a new term called a “customs arrangement”, which is such pitiful spin that she didn’t even try and explain it herself but sent out spinners who might still be believed.

Rational option analysis won’t work anymore. She’s gone in the head.

It could be argued that it does not matter. Nobody – not the PM, not Cabinet, not the Tories, not Labour, not even the whole of Parliament – seem to be in charge. Parliament tried taking control and ended up voting down eight ideas, without even the pressure of them being real law; indicative votes only.

But that’s simply a symptom of her shit leadership. 

The departure date was supposed to have been March 29. Then April 12. Now it’s October 31st: Halloween – how appropriate. The Remainers assume that the passage of time will do the job for them, but it appears the opposite is happening. And all this extra time will gain May nothing, except the additional humiliation of the new Brexit Party killing the Conservatives in the EU elections on May 23-26. Another blind-side hit, rather like that of 2016. Farage is back.

And this was before the Conservatives got pasted in Local Council elections. That was expected because although we’re talking about pothole maintenance and the local Tory folk have nothing to do with the nation’s parliament, the anger and hatred against May and company was going to have an effect.

Did it ever: more than 1300 Tory Councillors booted. The worst such result since 1995! The ballot paper shown here being a classic example of the mood. There were many with worse language, but “traitors” was a common word.

The European Parliament elections will likely be worse. This whole episode is a repeat of her decision to call a general election in 2017. Strategic stupidity.

May has to be removed, otherwise the next few months will look like the last few. Pulling the plug on her will not be easy, as she’s already survived a vote of confidence and cannot be challenged again until December of this year. However, in the world of the unwritten constitution all is malleable and there are already discussions happening about the Conservative’s “1922 Committee” changing its old rules to allow an earlier challenge. Or she may just be bluntly told to quit or face having no Cabinet.

Once she’s gone the new Conservative PM must execute a No-Deal Brexit. A year ago it could have been argued that it would cause damage, with companies and government departments scrambling to cope with instant changes. But the fact is that a lot of work has been done to obviate those problems and in any case, much of the fear-mongering by Remainers has proved to be wrong, but those are arguments for another piece.

Written by Tom Hunter

May 5, 2019 at 7:56 am

Posted in New Zealand

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WTF is happening with Brexit this week

Produced by the helpful British Institute of Government. Political Science PhD’s are being minted as this happens.

My take on it is that the 80% of the British Parliament never really wanted to leave the EU – and yes, I am ignoring their votes in Parliament to do so, which appear to have been simply the actions of wind socks. While doing that they’ve successfully fought a delaying action of adding complexities that has brought Britain to the brink of Brexiters shrugging their shoulders and giving up. The old defense-in-depth strategy may pull off a win.

Just to cap off this suspicion, Theresa May announced the other day that she wants to work with Jeremy Corbyn in getting her “deal” through so Britain can supposedly leave. Her deal being one where Britain remains tethered to the EU’s rules and regulations but with no control or influence compared to even the pitiful amount it has now. This announcement came after seven hours of a Cabinet meeting, which means she could not get agreement from her own Ministers.

Jeremy Corbyn FFS! The closest thing to a Marxist Prime Minister that Britain has ever seen, and who means it, if his near Stalinist advisors are anything to go by. A man who has spent a lifetime making excuses for every group that ever wanted to stick it to the West (USSR, Russia, Iran), or Britain in particular (IRA). A man with strange ideas about Jews. A man who spent most of his Labour career voting against his own party, but who now demands loyalty from his Labour MP’s, and in many cases is not getting it. A man who has been quite rightly attacked by May and the Conservatives as someone who cannot be trusted with the security of Britain.

It’s nice that her little speech suggested that she’s always thought that Britain could adjust to a No Deal departure. But in other speeches, mainly to the House, she’s also suggested that a second referendum could be on the cards, after months of saying she would abide by the 2016 referendum result. All politicians learn the art of speaking with a forked tongue to negotiate a path that pulls together different groups. Corbyn himself is a long-time Euro skeptic who downplayed the idea of Remain during the most recent General Election, to the fury of many Labour MP’s. In fact he made sure that Labour’s official election platform was that the Brexit vote would be honoured, as did the Conservatives in their platform. Given the majority support for Brexit in Labour seats that’s hardly a surprise.

But May’s just not very good at the forked tongue stuff, which has to not be obvious in order to work.

Readers of my recent article on The Irish Problem, might also be interested in the following recent survey of British attitudes towards “Union” in the specific case of Northern Ireland.

March 29 has come and gone. April 12 now looks shaky. There is talk of an extension to May 22nd – or perhaps even longer. The EU may declare it’s had a gutsful and refuse any further extensions, even if May feels she’s got the backing to ask for them. Or the EU could continue to play the game of softly-softly-catchee-monkey to keep Britain in the EU, assuming it’s willing to live with a dysfunctional nation. To that end, looking at other dysfunctional members of the EU – Italy and Greece as stand-out examples – perhaps the EU is happy to do so. More default power to Brussels.
What’s actually happening to Britain is best summed up by this poster:

And judging from the feedback on the Guido Fawkes blog, May has made great progress down at least one pathway.

Burning the British Conservative Party to the ground.

Sounds like things are not going well for May on her domestic outreach programme, according to Scottish National Party leader, Nicola Sturgeon:

This is similar to when I met PM on Wednesday. She wanted to know where we could compromise, but refused to indicate any compromise she might make. It is a bizarre approach from someone who made great play of wanting to find consensus – and has just wasted yet more time.

Or on the foreign outreach programme, according to the French Foreign Minister:

“It’s time that this situation ended,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a G7 meeting in Dinard, northern France. “We can’t live constantly with Brexit. At some point, there needs to be a departure. The British authorities and the British parliament need to understand that the European Union is not going to be able to constantly exhaust itself with the ups and downs of domestic British politics.” 

Last minute dirty deals are possible of course, but by Wednesday, April 10, May has to have an exit plan that has solid backing at home that she can present to the emergency meeting of EU Leaders as an argument for extending the time a bit further. There’s nothing like that in sight.

So a No-Deal Exit on April 12 OR pulling the Article 50 notification? Given the failure of all the compromise options, it’s hard to see anything beyond those two extremes.

Written by Tom Hunter

April 5, 2019 at 8:17 pm

May Day In March

British PM Theresa May has had a win.  It looks as though the Juncker blinked.

With the U.K. due to leave the bloc on March 29, pressure was rising on Mrs. May to modify the deal roundly rejected by lawmakers in January. She flew on Monday evening to Strasbourg, France, to work out changes in the deal with EU officials. These aimed to reassure British lawmakers that the U.K. will have the power to break away from EU’s economic orbit if a trade deal isn’t quickly agreed after Brexit. 

Poor old Legbut will be beside himself.

Written by adolffinkensen

March 12, 2019 at 2:44 am

Posted in New Zealand

Tagged with ,

Face Meet Egg

For days now, all one has been able to read about British politics has been endless opinion pieces on the impending demise of PM May as a result of a Tory party spill motion.

Image result for theresa may

The pundits were wrong.  She won the vote and by a not small margin.  Not only that, but Tory party rules prevent any challenge for twelve months, by which time some critical Brexit deadlines will have passed.

So, she is strengthened but not out of the woods.

Written by adolffinkensen

December 12, 2018 at 11:33 pm

Posted in New Zealand

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