Reflections on recent events, plus the occasional fact
free rant unfiltered by rational argument.
Theresa May's cold calculation that she could vanquish Labour, whilst attaining a mandate for Brexit has failed. In a massive turnout ... 70% of the voters … the public has decided to send a mixed message. There is no outright winner, nobody got the majority of 326 seats needed to rule outright.
Diminished and weakened. That's the position of the United Kingdom. From my point of view in Hong Kong, the UK had a certain intellectual gravitas. That gave it considerable weight on the international stage. The Brexit vote caused many around the world to question that status. This election has prompted more questions. Are the Brits being rational? What are the motives here? Who deliberately damages their own economy?
German TV is reporting that May is a 'lame duck. Her strong and stable stance has evaporated overnight. If she survives as PM, she will limp into Brexit negotiations with Europe. A wobbly, wrong-footed emissary of doubtful stature. She has lost her acclaimed ‘hard Brexit’.
That’s assuming she survives the next week. As her future looks in serious doubt. She placed herself front and centre during the campaign. Other party members were kept in the wings as Theresa strutted about in her fancy shoes. Yet, without a question, she ran a dreadful campaign. Her refusal to appear in debates, her high-handed manner and the rote messages failed to connect. She reversed direction on key policies. Her robotic style was lousy at connecting with the voters. Many realised her seesawing did not bode well for Brexit negotiations.
The atrocious terrorist attacks in Manchester and London handed her an open goal. These events should have given her a boost. The strong leader. Making strong statements. Unfortunately, her recent history caught up and the advantage disappeared. As Home Secretary, she’d slashed police budgets. When the cops warned her of the dangers, she attacked them as ‘scaremongers’. Retired cop after retired cop lined up to remind the public of May’s actions.
By all reckoning, May assumed she had an open road to a big majority. How she formed that view can be attributed to her insular style of management. She is cut off from alternative voices. As a result, she is now in the fight of her life to keep the PM position, with the sharks circling. And her timing couldn't be worse. In 10 days, she is supposed to start negotiation on Brexit. The Europeans must be laughing at her.
May’s survival now depends on the Democratic Unionist Party. The DUP is a group of ultra-conservative nationalist politicians from Northern Ireland. Whilst the DUP is pragmatic about its agenda, it will no doubt extract a heavy price from May for any support. That does not bode well for the complexities of Northern Ireland’s situation. Watch this space.
Looking to the Labour Party, we all owe Jeremy Corbyn an apology. He has won Labour more seats than any leader since Clement Attlee in 1945. That is a remarkable achievement. He did this against the background of a hostile press. Plus, a history that should have counted against him with a good part of the British public. His open attitude towards terrorist groups; a willingness to compromise with them could have lost him votes. The young voters buoyed his numbers, having stayed away during the Brexit vote last year. Plus, maybe, we are witnessing a generational change as young voters assert themselves. Either way, he can claim a win.
Other smaller parties have lost ground. United Kingdom Independence Party is destroyed. Unless it can rally itself it’s no longer a force in British politics. Meanwhile, over the border in Scotland, the Scottish Nationalist Party are licking their wounds. They dropped 19 seats. That takes the independence vote off the agenda for Nichola Sturgeon.
In a defiant speech after visiting the Queen, Theresa May declared she will form a government. Its a coalition with the DUP. Her arrogance was still evident. She failed to acknowledge her mistake, nor take any blame for this shambles. Meanwhile, senior Tory figures have remained silent. It’s well to remember that the Tories have a track record of ruthlessness when it comes to removing leaders. Even the mighty Mrs Thatcher was outflanked by the grey men. All things considered, Theresa May’s days are numbered.
Walter De Havilland is one of the last of the colonial coppers. He served 35 years in the Hong Kong Police.