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May’s only defence… Brexit June 2, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

I’m no fan at all of Anne Perkins, she’s yet another person at the Guardian who loftily scoffed Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the BLP. Well, she’s not quite changed her tune, because note her line of ‘in spite of rather than because’:

The extent of the disaster was explicit during last night’s BBC debate. The jibes at the expense of the absent leader by Caroline Lucas and Tim Farron were greeted with cheers and laughter, not – as Boris Johnson is claiming – because of a lefty conspiracy by the BBC, but because Theresa May’s headline achievement this past month has been to create a stage on which Jeremy Corbyn can woo the sympathies of almost everyone who wants politics to be different.

And yet in this column she has a point.

This was supposed to be a coronation. On 19 June, when Brexit negotiations are due to begin, May was supposed to ride to Brussels like Wellington after Waterloo, leaving the Brexit naysayers strewn over the fields of Hougoumont farm. May’s strategic competence would have delivered a once-in-a-generation parliamentary victory. Labour would be left mortally wounded. And May would be playing for the bonus of a mandate to change the nature of Conservatism.


To have the slightest chance of justifying her original election claim – that this was nothing to do with having a sustained 20-point lead in the polls, but instead was a vote to establish her democratic authority before she went into the smoke-filled rooms of the Brexit negotiations – she needed to be clear about what she would be asking for. She needed plans for big questions like the rights of EU citizens in the UK, what controlled migration actually means for the gaps in the UK labour force, and a coherent description of the future of food and farming. She needed to trust her cabinet colleagues to go out and argue for them. Show, don’t tell.

Check this out…

She and her team assumed that a presidential contest fought on the single issue of Jeremy Corbyn’s competence would deliver her a three-figure majority. Instead, Labour’s campaign, as well as Corbyn himself, has been conspicuously competent from the start.

But come on now. Corbyn has never shone at questions in the Parliament, but in other areas he’s been fantastic as a campaigner. It’s no surprise, in a way he’s a policy wonk, albeit one of a markedly more leftward tilt than most.

Why the surprise that he’s ‘competent’?

I agree with her that the hill the BLP has to climb to victory is probably too steep. But what can May do?

Over the next six days, Theresa May will try to rebuild support behind the empress of Brexit model. She hopes to consolidate the alliance with Ukip that she won with her dramatic post-referendum conversion. Maybe this move was always on the campaign grid. But now it’s all she has left.

That’s it. That’s what she’s got.

Perkins writes:

…the Tory share of the vote is holding up. The gap is narrowing because Labour’s has grown dramatically. A lot of Labour support comes from young voters, who are historically less likely to actually do what they say. There are far more 65+ voters (who turn out, and vote Tory) than 18-24s. And while Corbyn’s approval ratings are much, much better than they were, they are still -11 and May’s are still +9. It’s not impossible. But nor, really and truly, is it likely.

This too is true. I’m not one who demands the Guardian, or indeed any left or mildly centrist journalist or paper has to fall in behind a Labour leader – any leader. Yet consider how Corbyn was treated from the off as if he were a political pariah, a neophyte, a joke. If those approval ratings aren’t great there’s plenty of reasons for that. Some of that are down to Corbyn, and a meditative approach to politics that can seem a mite too detached, a mite too idealistic. But no small portion of it is down to a campaign from people who could – at the very least – granted him the benefit of the doubt from the get go rather than acting as if he was, as he put it himself, the other night, someone who had a ‘dictator’s’ hold on the BLP – something so absurd given the actual balance of forces at work and different strands within the BLP that it was risible.

From the off I’ve argued that Corbyn’s leadership has been conspicuous by its moderacy. This isn’t red revolution, it is instead a calm and measured effort to reintroduce a language not heard in British politics overtly since, perhaps the late 1970s. I’ve also made the point time and again that compared with, say, Jim Callaghan’s premiership this Labour Party is offering a programme quite some way to its right. I don’t criticise Corbyn for that, the environment is different, attempting to push left is more difficult. It will take time.

Elsewhere in the Guardian one can read Zoe Williams:

Yet Corbyn, less likeable and a lot less crowd-pleasing [than Lucas I think – wbs], got all his points across: do you want the NHS to have more money or less? Education, more money or less? Employees, more rights or less? Students, in lifetime debt or not? He kept it pretty simple and he left his naysayers – I include myself – saying, for God’s sake, whatever you think of him, what has he said that any of us would disagree with?

Exactly. What reasonably left of centre person could seriously have a problem with Corbyn as such? Yet we have been treated to a monstering of him by people who really should know better. Perhaps that – in some perverse fashion – inoculated him just for this moment. But that is no comfort. And it raises a further question…

What’s that lack of benefit of the doubt granted by Perkins et al worth in percentage terms do you think? 3%, 5%, more, less? And where are we today?

There’s one more point. Corbyn was near unassailable given his mandate by the first leadership election. He could only be toppled by a split of some sort, something no one was willing to seriously countenance. Perkins writes the following:

Even if May does win a safe majority, this is no personal victory. She has exposed the weaknesses of her style of politics to the country. Her efforts to appear on the side of the worker are a charade when accompanied by continued austerity, failing hospitals and cash-starved schools. Her MPs may be relieved to be safe, but no one has gained from this nasty, mean, vituperative campaign. She has earned little loyalty, let alone love.

But given that Corbyn was leader, then from the point he became leader there was only one game in town in regard to pushing back against that continued austerity, those failing hospitals and cash-starved schools. And that was the BLP led by him. That was the only choice. And it is telling that it is only now that those like Perkins appear to acknowledge as much.

For those of us who have been deeply anxious about the effects of Brexit the fact that Corbyn and the BLP are fighting back so strongly is beyond words. I’m the last person to pretend a loss is a victory. But there are different sorts of losses. The one that scared the daylights out of many of us was one where the LP base collapsed due to Brexit. At this point that has not happened.


1. simonjkyte - June 2, 2017

Corbyn was mediocre
but he did show


2. Roger Cole - June 2, 2017

The right wing press hate every Labour Leader, that their job. What happened this this is the war loving Blairite media including the Guardian and the BBC joined in on that hatred. Despite this there is an outside possibility of a hung Parliament and a minority Corbyn led govenment. This should at the very least annoy the Irish Labour Party that mad a point of ensuring that Howlin interviewed the war monger Blair during the campaign and the incoming Taoiseach, who is on record of advocating that more US planes should and in Shannon Airport to take part in the perpetual wars of the US/EU/NATO axis.


3. GW - June 2, 2017

I’ve said if before – now’s the time to go for the jugular with May (and her ‘team”s) ability to deliver any kind of Brexit deal, and the likely consequences when she doesn’t.

Then her only defence collapses like the threadbare backdrop painting of a defensive wall that it is.


4. Dermot O Connor - June 2, 2017

Yet another poll, second last IPSOS MORI before the vote, and Labour is at 40%.

If the Guardian and BBC would stop acting like the Crosby show, who knows what the numbers might be by now.


CON 45%(-4)
LAB 40%(+6)
LDEM 7%(nc)


Dermot O Connor - June 2, 2017

And from the comments:


QUOTE: It’s a big poll for Labour that, a big poll it is. If you take away likelihood to vote then Labour is actually ahead of the Tories by 43% to 40%. It’s actually a dead heat as far as this poll is concerned.


5. benmadigan - June 2, 2017

are we all quite, quite sure Ms May and the Tories didn’t decide to throw this general election?https://eurofree3.wordpress.com/2017/05/21/corbyn-for-pm-its-a-great-british-thing/

More evidence in support of the hypothesis that the conservatives want to pass the poisoned brexit chalice leftwards: A disastrous manifesto and a series of U-turns (strong and stable, anyone?), not turning up at the leader’s debate on TV,
now Ms May has refused all radio interviews.

If she can’t deal with questions from a local reporter/DJ how is she going to negotiate brexit with top-level EU negotiators and lawyers?



6. Mick 2 - June 3, 2017

It’s astonishing how badly the Tories (ya, sorry, Theresa May and her team) continue to fare, almost by the hour. Just back from the pub and caught the “highlights” from her Question Time performance. Gloriously cringeworthy stuff. She’s being exposed for the utter sham she is, and very publicly. Corbyn even waltzing through answers to hostile questions about his Irish republican sympathies at this stage (prolly because he’s been asked about them so many times he has well-prepared answers to them at this stage). I’d incline towards cautious pessimism, but this remarkably weird campaign is the stuff to inspire militant optimism. Not sure it’s the pints, but a Labour win seems… probable.


Dermot O Connor - June 3, 2017


QUOTE: The problem, however, is with the large numbers of undecideds out there. Here we have someone hyped by the media as the supreme politician, as a grown up versus the seat-of-the-pants juvenilia of Dave and Osborne. Coming across well matters. Relatable matters. Warmth matters. And she just can’t do it. Asked about the public sector pay freeze for nurses, there was little sense of sympathy. Confronted by a woman with mental health difficulties and was dragged through a work capability assessment, there was no compassion in her response – just a technocrat’s answer. As a rule, electorates are okay with people who don’t connect as long as they understand ordinary people’s problems, and unfortunately for May she tanks this every time.

Jeremy Corbyn on the other hand had a much better time of it – for the most part. He was more relaxed, more assured in his answers, more interested in listening to what people had to say. On every indicator, he as the anti-May. He showed command of his brief and was able to talk in detail about policy areas, which, considering May is the incumbent and offered vagueness and generality, is a key difference between the two and reflects terribly on the PM. This was especially the case on Brexit – May wouldn’t be drawn on no deal, while Jeremy talked about the need to protect jobs and building a more equal society. Brexit means Brexit for May, for Corbyn Brexit means the fight for more and better jobs, and a more pleasant, safer, fairer Britain. A key difference.

Who won? As a Labour supporter I’m obviously going to say Corbyn. But where it counted – on character, on giving a vision, on policy detail he was much better, clearer, and more serious than the Prime Minister. Nukes presented him a problem but his attitude is already baked into nearly everyone’s choice, though that won’t stop the press from using it to mobilise the Tory vote and try and snatch back some of the volatile ex-kippers that are slipping toward Labour. But even if he gave a totally flat performance, he still would have won. Theresa May strikes as an unsympathetic figure, and she needed something special tonight to try and put her crisis-ridden campaign back on course. She wasn’t able to do that. Labour goes into the final weekend of campaigning with the wind in its sails. All the Tories have is scaremongering. It worked in 2015, will it work now? Or can Labour confound all the sage expectations – including my own – and deliver the biggest, most surprising, and sweetest victory in our party’s history?


7. dublinstreams - June 5, 2017

who do tories and racists vote for if not the tories and racists?, will the swing voters stay home?


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