Thursday, 6 October 2016

Nice Words Even As She Slips The Knife In

Theresa May has made what is arguably her first major speech since becoming our un-elected Prime Minister. The rhetoric was professional even impressive, small on detail and hows, but that's often the case in political speeches. Make a rousing speech, especially to your own acolytes, then who needs detail? Rhetorical question.

Lets look at it then. Mrs May appears to be positioning herself as representing the angry and those who feel disenfranchised and not listened to. I could tell her a thing or two about not being listened to! Clearly she's trying to reach out to the fifty two percent who voted for so called Brexit. Many of those people clearly are angry, particularly about immigration and feel they're suffering. I could relocate them to many places on this earth where they'd suffer a great deal more than in Britain, but that's another matter.

It seems to me that Mrs May feels she knows why people voted for Brexit and is telling them she can fix it. Mrs Thatcher thought she understood everything too. An older, lady acquaintance of mine told me the other day that she voted for Brexit because Mr Obama told her not to and she didn't like a foreigner sticking his oar in. Simple as that. People vote for multifarious reasons. Obama's intervention may have been counter productive, but that doesn't mean he was wrong.

The country is divided, fifty two to forty eight at the last count, excluding don't knows and those with a moral case for a vote but no actual vote. Divide and rule is an age old concept, but in a modern democracy its value may be overrated. A healthy majority of support might be more beneficial. Alienate the forty eight percenters and it's not a huge electoral majority, take the age profile into account and as the fifty two percenters die off it doesn't look like a safe long term policy either.

May appears to be pitching to both the UKIP voters AND Labour voters, right and left, at one and the same time. She also claims her party now occupies the centre ground. Nonsense, the Tories have lurched to the right chasing the UKIP vote whilst using rhetoric about workers and making capitalism fairer to try and appeal to Labour voters. Although I doubt they'll be very successful with the latter.

Mrs May is correct that the country is angry, but we're not unified in our anger, we're not all angry about the same things. We've had thirty years or more of media lies about the EU, I mean straight bananas, give me a break. Thirty years of lies has its effect though and that makes me angry.

Some people don't like rubbing shoulders with Poles; there was a time when black people were felt to be the problem, then Asians, now many descendants of black and Asian people are on the anti immigration bandwagon too. They didn't like it when it was them and the less thoughtful and less reasonable ethnic white Brits seem to have become even more racist since the referendum, and THEY don't distinguish, so being Asian or black and anti immigration could be seen as an error of judgement.

I wonder how many of these people who claim to be suffering in this awful country actually want to pick tomatoes. We'll see when Amber Rudd makes tomato growers try to get British workers first before they can look abroad. That'll be fun.

Many Brexit voters, we're told, don't or haven't voted in regular elections, will they do so now? Mrs May might be preaching to a fickle audience, one without party affiliations, or any deep abiding interest.

The media and some politicians are talking about remain voters as being a metropolitan elite. Some may be, but an elite, by its very nature is a small group, NOT forty eight percent of the population. Hillary Clinton has recognised the importance of the middle classes and made a direct appeal to them. I wonder if Mrs May shares the same insight. On current performance the answer is probably not.

We, the middle classes are the motor of this economy. The official Remain Campaign overestimated the importance of the old adage 'it's the economy stupid' and undervalued the undercurrent of fears about foreigners and sovereignty and they lost, but when the cuts really bite the economy will suddenly become important again. I've said it before and I'll go on saying it, the economy pays for everything we hold dear.

It's a tragedy that the Leave Campaign told so many lies, like the one about Turkey which has no medium term prospect of joining the EU even if the Turkish people wanted it, which they don't and which clown Boris with his family there knows all too well.

We had the best of both worlds, EU membership with our precious UK pound preserved. Soon the pound will be worth less than either a US dollar, or a euro if the fall isn't stemmed, unheard of, how proud we'll all be then. My older lady acquaintance who voted leave purely because of Mr Obama asked me if I thought Britain would ever be great again.

Hankering after the past is no way to move forwards, the world turns, we must deal with it.

Mrs May says she wants to create a prosperous nation and a fairer nation, noble goals, I look forward to seeing the plan. It needs a plan and it needs to take account of the forty eight percent who voted remain as well as the nearly dead. Personally I'm not part of some mysterious elite. I'm middle income, middle class, middle England and many of those around me who voted remain fit that description, middle class and the engine in the boat.

Mrs May looks set fair to make us the disenfranchised and the angry. She might set out to appeal to the unemployed (they won't win an election) and those who are currently angry about we know not what, but she might find them about as stable as UKIP, who had a new leader for less than three weeks and just tried to murder another contender!

At one and the same time Mrs May is claiming the middle ground in words, even as she plunges the dagger into the middle class. How she deals with airport expansion will be interesting, her government has just overturned a county council decision against fracking. She knows her government will have to do many things to keep this boat afloat economically, even if it means pumping gas into the bilges.

Getting large companies to pay their tax is all to the good, going after people like Cur Philip Green, sorry forgot how to spell Sir for a moment there, is all good and right, but a mere detail in the big picture. Mrs May will be happy to have distanced herself from Cameron, the author of this madness and to have stamped her vision on us. Personally I'm not too happy about getting stamped on. Lets hope she's less stupid than she is determined. Doesn't look too hopeful from where I'm sitting.

Malcolm Snook Author, photographer and campaigner.

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