Are the Tories throwing the election to escape responsibility for Brexit? No, but…


As I’ve argued all along would be the case, an orderly Brexit is turning out to be impossible. The early stages of negotiations have been like trying to make an omelette using shit instead of eggs. It was never going to be anything like a ‘clean divorce’ – that metaphor is just as unhelpful and misleading as Thatcher’s comparison of a national economy to that of a household. Instead the UK wants to unilaterally break a contract with 27 partners and define some sort of mutually beneficial relationship afterwards in the face of a politically justifiable desire from other partners to eliminate any possible benefit.

It may not be clear from reading the domestic press, but the UK Govt is currently undergoing galaxy-wide humiliation at its lack of preparedness, its self-delusion and its misplaced arrogance. Foreign news outlets tend to report what people like Juncker have actually said, not some self-serving distortion of it. The Tories and their pet bulldog newspapers can snarl emptily about sabotage and bluff and bluster about being ganged up on but the fact that May et al do not know what they are doing is now public knowledge from Torino to Timbuktu. There are probably peasants in the North Korean countryside having a good laugh at May’s plight over their breakfast of grass and bits of their house as they try to find light relief from thoughts of impending nuclear annihilation, not to mention spladgequards from planet Beetlewoox 4 scratching whatever they have for heads and wondering why this particular species of human known as The British insists on behaving in such a hostile manner towards its nearest neighbours.

At the same time, Corbyn’s Labour Party is rising slightly in the polls (not that much – it’s rather like someone you were sure was dead moving an eyelid slightly). Would Corbyn be better placed if this somewhow was to become known as the Lazurus election? That would place him in the not-exactly-to-be-coveted position of having to negotiate in the national interest for something which is against the national interest. After all, even the most ardent Brexiteers did this primarily for their own ideological jollification. Instead, the likeliest scenario is that following a probably slightly less emphatic Tory victory than we had feared, the UK will call off talks and resort to extreme hostilities as the economy collapses and the country quite possibly prepares North Korea-style for a war which may or may not ever arrive. If the whole thing wasn’t so depressing I would bet good money on some form of conscription being introduced before Article 50 expires. That’s the sort of thing merchants of chaos like Farage wanted all along and Cameron was prepared to risk for the sake of short-term political expediency.

The Tories are, of course, not about to throw the election. They want to achieve their long-standing ambition of crushing the godawful upstart Plebs Party for good*. The polls may well be misleading – Michael Ashcroft certainly made sure they were in 2015. But they must be having very serious qualms about the trap that they’re backing themselves into. The Tories have been able to get away with austerity by blaming everything that’s wrong in society on the previous Labour Government. No opposition means fewer scapegoats at a time when they need them like never before. This is not a good time to turn the country into a one-party state.

* It may be due to missing the irony in this sentence that some idiot on the Labour Party forum (possibly a troll) said that this article ‘reads like Tory Party propaganda’. This may mark an all-time high in terms how inane political debate on social media can go, I’ll keep you posted.

The Tories are ‘strong and stable’. What are Labour?

Theresa May gave a speech a few days ago in which she used the slogan ‘Strong and Stable’ twelve times in ten minutes. As a result she is being royally ridiculed on social media, with countless memes being diffused exponentially as I write.

A further outcome of the Tories’ faultless message discipline and the responses to it is that on 8th June millions of people will go and vote on the basis of strength and stability (DECLARATION: I fucking hate The Tories and will be voting Labour in June). Satirising the message will just serve to reinforce and spread it. That’s what happened in the last two general elections and in the referendum last summer. At different points each leading representative of the Leave campaign was torn to pieces on Facebook and Twitter for ‘overusing‘ the expression ‘take back control’. The result of the referendum showed that all that repitition was actually the slogan being implemented successfully – the Leave campaign even consulted Paul McKenna to help them drill the message into people’s heads. It’s not a rational process. ‘Strong and stable’ will have been chosen from a list of potential slogans after a rigorous process of testing it on groups of potential Tory voters.

The science of this is well-known but doesn’t always find acceptance on the left and doesn’t seem to have had much of an impact on the people at the top of the Labour Party. On doing some research I found out that Labour’s slogan for #GE2017 is ‘For the many, not the few’. Although I’ve been following the election the phrase didn’t spring into my head immediately as the Conservatives’ slogan will and tellingly there haven’t as yet been a furore about opposition politicians overusing it. I don’t get the impression it’s been tested – it sounds more like a phrase that our avuncular leader plucked out of thin air. On my Facebook page yesterday I saw a post on the Labour forum about John McDonnell’s 20 Pledges to Workers. Okay, twenty is a round number but it’s also a large one. As Owen Jones has repeatedly pointed out, only people who are actively interested in politics take an interest in what lies behind slogans, ie the details of policy. Each of those individual items may strike a chord with working people but in order to be effective they need to be framed into clear pithy messages whose memorability has been exhaustively put to the test. 

Nevertheless, the central slogans have been chosen and Labour leader, supporters and representatives need to put them into operation by repeating them as often as humanly possible. In the meantime we need to stop doing the Tories’ work for them by effectively advertising, whether in jest or not, what May’s Conservative Party stands for.