Wednesday 24 July 2019

The Worst Prime Minister?

Was Theresa May the worst Prime Minister this country has ever seen? She's up against stiff competition, from both her immediate predecessor and the utter void following her. Whatever verdict history decrees, her record in government is almost singularly awful. Even if you sit and meditate on the last three years, surely the most earnest Tory would have difficulty picking out a May achievement that isn't spin and hot air.

A fair few words have been expended on May on this place, so I won't try your patience by saying much more. Except to reiterate two things about her legacy, both of which are inseparable. On Brexit, May bears a large share of the responsibility for normalising the idea of a no deal Brexit with her idiot mantra of no deal is better than a bad deal. This line, more than anything Nigel Farage has said, strengthened and emboldened the hard right of the Tory party. You know, the people tied to the most backward and reckless sections of capital. She offered them succour as she lived from one crisis of the parliamentary party to the next, up to the point where she couldn't hide her deal any more and enraged them with the Irish backstop nonsense. In reality, if May had read the runes correctly she might have interpreted her position as one of strength. As explained here many times, because everyone around May was jockeying for position they all balanced out, giving her a some leeway. She could have told the ERG to hop it from the off, but failed miserably to do so.

This is because Brexit was subordinate to Tory party management. As factions proliferated and the party grew consumed by row after bad headline after record-breaking defeats, her sole concern was keeping the show on the road. Like Dave and, inevitably, like Johnson, May instinctively knows that ultimately, her party is the only one who can be trusted with the interests of her class. The LibDems are too weak and aren't about to make a comeback, regardless of what YouGov says, and Labour is always at risk of getting swamped by the hoi polloi and articulating their interests against capital. Therefore the preservation of the Tories is and will always be the number one concern of its leading figures, even if the increasingly unhinged base are a touch more sanguine. Therefore the twists and turns of May's Brexit strategy, and studied refusal to budge despite losing the vote three times were driven by keeping the Tories together. And it is why Johnson too has made a song and dance about leaving the EU on Hallowe'en regardless. If he gives away this hostage to fortune, it's curtains for Johnson and perhaps the party itself.

May will be best remembered for her Brexit incompetence, but we cannot let her off her other obsession: immigration. No matter how weak she was, this was the one issue she refused to budge on. Indeed, her pitiful withdrawal deal happily trades away unimpeded access to EU markets - the UK's biggest trading partner, in case you had forgot - just so she could impose a points-based system for EU nationals. Why was the author of the racist vans that drove around parts of London, and of the Windrush scandal completely consumed by this question? Was it because May herself was racist? That really is irrelevant: what did May gain, or hope to gain, by being seen to be tough on immigration? And the answer is, just like Brexit, the continued health of the Tory party. Her preoccupation with this matter didn't begin with Brexit, but having imbibed the common sense of the right wing press over decades, and the antipathy they stirred up and was reflected in poll after poll, May believed the route to Tory hegemony meant owning it. She knew the Brexit vote was largely driven by concerns about immigration, and that this had cost the Tories dear in the past as UKIP grew and, eventually, disposed of her predecessor. A revolt on the right could be permanently foreclosed, and another 10 to 15 years in government would be there for the taking.

And there you have it. The premiership of Theresa May. Someone who, at every turn, put her party before the country because, as far as she was concerned, the minority interest of her class is the national interest. If it meant permanently weakening the UK economy, that's a price worth paying for untrammelled bourgeois rule. If people are stripped of their jobs, their healthcare, and bungled on to the next plane to the Caribbean, then their suffering is absolutely fine as long as the Conservative Party continues. Yes, May was and is an appalling human being. But until her party is driven from office and put into a place where it can never form a government, we will see the likes of her again, and again, and again.


Shai Masot said...

"If it meant permanently weakening the UK economy, that's a price worth paying for untrammelled bourgeois rule. If people are stripped of their jobs, their healthcare, and bungled on to the next plane to the Caribbean, then their suffering is absolutely fine as long as the Conservative Party continues."

Fine by Smeeth, Streeting and "Barnacle" Tom Watson too. Let's deselect the rascals!

Speedy said...

In all seriousness, seeing Johnson and his new cabinet today filled me with despair, but not with the Tories, who do as the Tories do, but at this terrible moment, we have Jeremy Corbyn and his ineffectual/ idiot clique leading Labour. ANYONE ELSE would be a shoe-in in the forthcoming election, but instead, in the name of "purity" or some such bullshit, we are going to get these smug right-wing bastards again and again and again, enabled by smirking "leftists" doing the Tories work for them, helping grind the lives and aspirations of ordinary people into dust, and feeling right pleased with themselves in the process. It is precisely because I grew up during Thatcher that I became and have always been Labour but now I see the whole feckless "longest suicide note in history" debacle repeating itself, like Boris, not in tragedy but grotesque farce - swivel-eyed private school ideologues Corbyn and Milne backed up by power-hungry, deluded nincompoops. What a disgrace, what a betrayal. Enough. It is time blame was apportioned where it was deserved - not with the Tories, who will always be a force for bad, but with those who allow them to flourish in the cause of their self-serving vanity.

Dipper said...

1. Every promotion requires the person to step up. She didn't - she stayed the control freak departmental minister and hence failed.

2. As a leaver, I'd say we had to go through the farce of her renegotiation to show there wasn't a BRINO option that was acceptable and so was a necessary step before we got the Bojo government which is a true leaver government. Parliament could have voted for her deal, of course ...

3. For all those who go on about how Brexit will do economic harm, I give you the carbon neutral by 2050 bill, or whatever it is called, which its own proponents believe will produce a 1-2% drop in GDP and job losses. Funny how that never gets called by journalists. Almost as if they cannot link between different issues.

Gulliver Foyle said...

"1. Every promotion requires the person to step up. She didn't - she stayed the control freak departmental minister and hence failed"

This is probably true, but had she "stepped up" and confronted the zealots in her own party instead of pandering to them we'd quite possibly be out by now, albeit in a way that almost certainly would not meet with the agreement of the purist minority, which leads us to this: -

"2. As a leaver, I'd say we had to go through the farce of her renegotiation to show there wasn't a BRINO option that was acceptable"

Please define what you mean by BRINO? and how do we know what is and isn't "acceptable" in the light of the binary choice offered?

".......which is a true leaver government"

Ah yes, this statement signifies what YOU mean by BRINO, but my second question still stands, acceptable to whom, given the binary choice available?

"3. For all those who go on about how Brexit will do economic harm, I give you the carbon neutral by 2050 bill"

So, you believe a global environmental crisis and the steps proposed to mitigate it are in some way equivalent to this self-imposed shit show? Maybe instead think of it this way, we kind of need to reduce our carbon emissions and this may or may not adversely impact on GDP, but we absolutely do not need to compound this by committing an act of political self-harm, because a mendacious charlatan wants to be PM for a while.

bbk said...


If you're as "filled with despair" by seeing Prime Minister Johnson as you claim, your constant moaning about what you imagine to be true is hard to understand.

Since you don't know a non-Corbyn Labour party would be crushing the cons in the polls, you literally can not "know" that, the only real purpose of saying it is to convince others.

But that can only harm Labour's chances by affirming headlines and pundits who claim Labour is in "disarray" or Corbyn is "weak" because he can't stop people moaning about him in public.

The truly vain, self righteous party in this whole situation seems to be you. And your fellow babies who appear determined to destroy the toy you were asked to share. As if you've decided if you can't have it no one should.

That attitude was at least understandable a couple of years ago. Since you'd prefer a tory government to a Corbyn Labour government it makes sense to do whatever you can to harm Corbyn politically within the party and with the public. No matter the impact on Labour's electoral chances.

But now with the UK facing what you claim would be a disaster of almost unmatched proportions since at least WW2, that you're still doing it is really showing what you truly value.

What we "know" is the UK is on course to leave the EU at the end of October. We "know" parliament has rejected May's deal and the EU says Johnson isn't getting a "better" deal. We "know" Johnson will try to leave with no deal. We also "know" it's a FPTP electoral system and in the modern era only two parties, Labour and Conservative, have been able to form a government. We "know" Labour will not allow a no deal brexit and they'll implement a 2nd referendum (regardless of the political merits either electorally or as a tool to prevent entirely brexit at all) before allowing the UK to leave the EU under any circumstances.

Knowing that, you continue to make stuff up about Corbyn (that's what we call saying you know things you can't actually "know") which is either purposefully designed or made with careless disregard to harm his chances and the chances of the party he leads.

Do you really want to maximize the chances of preventing brexit? Because it really seems like you don't care about brexit either way as long as Corbyn is removed from his post or is at least prevented from becoming PM.

Nothing else really explains your actions and the actions of people who have been making similar assertions at every opportunity. Labour triggering a GE before October 31st, then forming a majority as a result of that election, is the most viable way to prevent a no deal brexit. And it is the most realistic way of possibly preventing brexit entirely (spare me loony stories about Swinson leading the LibDems into No. 10. It's more realistic one night all the tory leavers will be visited by the ghost of brexit future who'll change their minds). So doing things to harm Labour can only serve to increase the chances of a no deal brexit.

What's even more galling and hypocritical, even though arguably we live in a post hypocrisy world, is the same people attacking Corbyn at the risk of allowing a no deal brexit aren't willing to do the obviously pragmatic thing of shutting up, holding their nose, and voting Labour in the case of a GE in order to prevent what they claim would be a living nightmare. Yet they spent the better part of a decade condescendingly telling anyone an inch to their left to do exactly that because otherwise the blood spilled by a tory government would be on the naysayer's hands.

Does the "it's better to get some of what you want than none of it" principle no longer apply? Or was it always bs, only meant to shame idiots on the left and never really meant to actually be a principle of pragmatic electoral politics?

It's all become too much.

Dipper said...

@ Gulliver Foyle

If I was a Remainer, I'd agree with you, but as I'm a Leaver, I don't.

Blissex said...

«surely the most earnest Tory would have difficulty picking out a May achievement that isn't spin and hot air.»

As usual the key and overriding fact of english politics and Economy is forgotten: booming housing cost inflation. Despite weakness in London, the usual average £30,000-£40,000 of government procured upward redistribution has been gifted to tory voters and sponsors for every one of her three years. Plus the continuation of policies that ensure falling wages and pensions for the servant classes, and meaner Ts&Cs and more insecure jobs for workers, while the financial sector are enriching tory voters and sponsors.

While everybody is fully distracted by Westminster-bubble "politics" and identitarian confrontations like that over brexit. Fortunately J Corbyn in his first PMQ with B Johnson mentioned those tory successes, and rightly so.

DFTM said...

May is a cleary awful human being but just checking my death counter, I think Blair is slightly ahead, Oh hang on, it is only brown skinned people being incinerated, and that 1 million brown skinned people are equal to half a white person, so maybe May killed a white person and that is why she is the worst prime minister ever! What next, was Helmut Kohl the worst German leader ever? Anyway good to know Blair's crimes are already forgotten! Talk about the Yvette Cooper loving left!

I have been saying that about speedy, a far right fake, for years, and for years Boffy has said nothing and often taken speedy's side. Talk about being late to the party!

Actually isn't that Boffy's argument, that a Blairite pro remainer, such as for example Chuka, would do better in the polls than Corbyn.

In fact hasn't Boffy been undermining Corbyn and attempting the establishment game of dividing Corbyn and the membership?

Speedy said...

Dftm. Boffy did not comment about me. In fact you have so many pseudonyms I thought bbk was you - certainly his cognitive incontinence seemed reminiscent which is why I didn't bother to respond. If you can find a coherent argument do let me know, although I am probably asking the wrong person.

Boffy said...

I reckon that Speedy is also just another one of those pseudonyms, as the troll's numerous persona talk to themselves in his head, as also a means of provoking others, when his crap is being rightly ignored.

Speedy said...

Well I reckon Boffy is Phil's traditionalist Labour alter ego languishing in a vortex of existential enui between Corbynite impossiblists and longstanding loyalists wondering what it was all for.

Boffy said...

And that response confirms my suspicion, and justifies my policy of ignoring comments by Speedy along with those of all the other pseudonyms.