A lesson from history
I never imagined myself as a political animal, but early on in my life I followed the herd and believed that Labour offered much hope and opportunity if not the promise of Utopian world where we would fly around like the Jetsons. The Tory party were the Empire from the Star Wars universe and dear old Iron Maiden Maggie was Senator Palpatine and Tebbit her very own Darth Vader.
Anyone remember Michael Foot? An unassuming long haired leftie that today would have benefited from Twitter/Facebook support as opposed to fighting an uphill battle against the Tory press barons. I recall one Tory election poster depicting a British soldier surrendering in the wake of a parachuting invading foreign army. That got the electorate thinking and much to my disappointment Maggie returned to power and slashed about the place with her heavily mandated light sabre. Obi Wan Foot was relegated to the back benches or was it the House of Lords?
So many other Labour contenders came and went- a few that I forget- Neil Kinnock being a bit of fresh air but succumbed to his stumbling and bumbling on the beachhead of electoral oblivion as a wave of Tory support made him swallow both salt water and sand. Lucky his other half was there with him.
New Labour on the block
The Conservatives became a tad complacent and forgot to wear sunglasses and daub themselves in factor 15 when golden boy Blair flashed his gnashers to dazzle the electorate. Cue New Labour and Tories in disarray and the mantra that ‘Things can only get better’.
Blair had a Brit Pop block party at Number 10 on getting his landslide but he dragged a bit of mud with him too not forgetting First Lady Cherie. Thank god for dry cleaning and Vanish stain removers. Labour were down with the kids and Liam and Noel of Oasis trashed the place. Prescott nearly punched out Chumbawumba and that was the end of that.
The tide was turning for Labour as they lurched to the right shedding their exclusive reliance on the hard left Unions that caused so much discontent in the 70’s. Back then everything was nationalised and let’s face it governments aren’t that efficient when it comes to running what today are regarded as viable businesses. I guess Maggie the Merciless recognised that such entities needed to be divested from state control to maybe perhaps undermine the clout of the dreaded Unions.
I vaguely recall the miner’s strike and Scargill with his bull horn rallying his troops at the coal face against a prime minister that would never throw her battle bus in reverse. I was never interested in all that trouble up mill and call me selfish but I lived down South in my bubble hoping for a Labour government that would open up new employment opportunities. Looking back now I can understand the anger and angst that spewed from such communities. Again as you grow you learn a bit more.
However Blair’s premiership and his eventual downfall as a consequence of again inevitable complacency and the disastrous intervention in Iraq post 9/11 was all she wrote. But during his tenure and three landslides the effect was that I began to take note of the movers and shakers vying for the keys for No 10.
How ironic it was when Blair bowed out with little fanfare, standing there with a clearly put out First Lady Cherie on some train station without the security entourage and sycophantic underlings. Come on even Prescott had one remaining Jag to fall back on.
Gordo’s Choice – Call Me Dave!
Then who’d have thunk it that Pepperami Gordon Brown inadvertently left his mike on and used the word bigot and so handed a partial victory to the Tories, well propped up by the Lib-Dems – Nick the Clegg needed a place to hang out or he would have been handed an ASBO.
Cameron “Call me Dave” thought he’d emulate ol’ Blairy by hugging a hoodie or two only to be ridiculed by the local gangsta press. Like New Labour trying to be down with the kids, Cameron’s Big Society was given short sharp shrift.
Cameron was riding high on the success of Avatar…oh wait wrong one…start again Cameron was riding high by being the shrewd and smooth operator at WestMonster. His PMQ’s every Wednesday really did give Milliband and co a bit of a headache then kind of intimidated the new kidult/pensioner on the block – Corbyn – more about this old dark nag later.
But rolling back time a little – never did I expect the Tories to get back into office and snag a majority of all things. Rather swiftly the Lib-Dems were homeless as they lost on the musical chairs of securing seats. Beleaguered and derided Cleggy fell on his sword because of the tuition fee debacle. Astonishingly even the great doyen Vince Cable was shunted out, wow who’d have thunk such an outcome?
Tories in majority? Funny as I got older (and crankier – Meldrew style) I shifted from being a leftie labour ideologue more towards the centre right and that’s the message I heard (maybe selectively as I do have ear wax problems) from Call Me Dave- enough for me to put another X at the ballot box in 2015. Hell I was quite taken by Boris the Hun and voted for him to be mayor just for a bit of light relief.
Maverick Cameron called himself out when his six gun was out of ammo in the face off with Pancho Villa the bandit Referendum. It might have been Good, but it got quite Bad and the outcome was distinctly Ugly if some of the scaremongering were to be believed. Wars and dodgy dossiers aside, the big news was under Cameron’s watch we were leaving the EU.
So Camereon like the Littlest Hobo licked his wounds, whimpered and scooted off into the sunset never to be heard of again. To be honest I really do miss the great orator, we could do with a bit of Call Me Dave TLC right about now. So Brexit divisions shaped the nation, divided and angry and calls for Scotland to have an indyref2. What a mess. The Scots really want their freedom, or just one person north of the border does.
Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! Going Down…..!!!
So fast forward and we have Theresa May at the helm of the good ship HMS Brexit. Good Lord I had such high hopes as my veins flow with true blue blood without a tinge of red anymore. Yes I am a Tory swine. May said Brexit is Brexit and we bought into it, great we’re leaving the EU and we’ve got a more sympathetic PM just like that dear old Cast Iron Moggie many years ago. She never U-turned, but this new Lady kind of does and sort of lacks the wolverine claws to gain back lost momentum or get in the polls if YouGov are to be believed. I just wonder how Andrea Leadsome would have played the power gambit if she had been appointed leader of the blue bloods? Would she have called an election to shore up the mandate? Probably but maybe she would not have been so aloof as our very own esteemed May…ahem.
As I’m related to the Cheshire Cat I wanted Boris all the way, but Gove put the knife in and the pint sized blonde yeti had his buffoonery to blame from preventing him ascending to being Emperor. He was kind of left hanging without a safety rope waving a Union Jack as I recollect.
May threw an unexpected yet hardly surprising curve ball following a country walk with the other half. Probably safer than being on a beach given Kinnock’s experiences. Inhaling deeply and thinking of all those foxes to be deprived of a blot hole to escape into she decided it was time to inflict yet more misery on the Great British public. Poll ratings had nothing to do with it of course!
Now when she called the election she rode high in the polls, a crest of the wave, her board would never wipeout because to her Charlie Corbyn Don’t Surf and she could smell victory on the morning of the 9th of June. Meanwhile Jezzer, Catweasel or Steptoe as some call him as I’m led to believe was being pushed out on an MDF board hastily hewn from an offcut snatched from a local B&Q. He was then unceremoniously pushed out into the unforgiving currents by Messrs Car Crash Abbott , Smug Thornberry and despite rolling his eyes Keir Starmer who rolled up his Saville Row trousers and got stuck in. “YOU CAN DO IT JEZZER!!!!” As the trio watched their best hope be lashed by the shark finned Tory press and near throttling by the odd kraken political commentator- and that includes his biggest cheerleader the Guardian newspaper.
I fancied the trio of Labour pseudo-stalwarts betting how long the intrepid Corbyn would stay afloat courtesy of his inflatable bingo wings. But funny how stuff works out as the tide was turning from May- she had the personality of a brick and sank pulling her fancy board (and poll advantage) down to new depths of Tory Central Office despair.
Whereas Corbyn made friends with the once hostile sharks and the odd kraken to relish the thundering currents and reach Narnia and its calmer waters. He is a seasoned campaigner and is personable and quite happy to make impromptu debate appearances unlike Timid May Joining Nessie during that absent Question Time Leaders debate.
Everyone loves an underdog, it’s a British thing and although this was not clash of the titans the election fight represented a departure from the usual samey – samey politics. Jezzer upped the ante with a manifesto leak (yeah right leak my a$$) that heralded Christmas being brought forward with many giveaways that apparently are costed. Re-nationalisation of water companies and railways, free tuition fees and more money for social and infrastructure plans-all very laudable but many of the ‘grey’ vote will remember the winter of discontent so many years ago which might put the kybosh on Santa Corbyn riding his slay into the Number 10.
The Money Tree & Zimmer frame backlash
But how do you fund such extravagant labour spending? The seeds of the so called sound-byte ‘Money Tree’ hasn’t been planted yet and the worry that I have is that working families will have to shore up the roots of this mythical lignified edifice through punitive taxation measures. It certainly will be a case of the Many and Not the Few or it could be the Many for the relative Many. Noble to increase corporate taxation but this could have a trickle-down effect of reducing investment and prompt a business class corporate flight. Not to mention all that borrowing you have to pay for before it gets taken away!
I am scaremongering some would say but fiscally I just feel the funding chasm will be huge along with the eventual debt. Election pledges sound great on paper but harsh reality checks only happen when you’re faced with day to day governance. May herself isn’t looking very strong and stable and her Brexit mantra is in danger of falling on deaf ears. Furthermore austerity and cuts seem to be fuelling a lot of support for a resurgent Corbyn. May’s campaign has been dismal and a tad arrogant if not altogether gloomy. Not to mention that her aloof personality contrasts and shows up badly against every one’s favourite uncle as Corbyn has morphed into.
It’s always easier for the challenger to promise the earth just to get in the votes and hope spin and sound bites will pump up the volume in their favour once in power.
But for an incumbent you never try to alienate your core voters that represent your bulwark of support with dithering u-turns on the burgeoning social care crisis and threatening to takeaway winter fuel payments. All May has done is resurrect the long extinct dragons now breathing fire and snapping at her singed heels. Everyone expected the Tories to have a slam dunk cake walk back into No 10 but a lack lustre and floundering campaign and terrorism could never have been forecasted.
The events of Manchester and recently London Bridge has shifted the discourse. Now both would be contenders are saying they are the safe bet when it comes to protecting the justifiably rattled British populace. There’s talk that police cuts were presided over by May, with many forgetting that it was with the blessing of Cameron and Clegg at the time. Not making excuses as I’m hardly qualified, but the revelations are pretty damning when it comes to electioneering and scoring points. I’m not sure how the heinous acts of barbarism will change people’s minds but for some Corbyn is viewed as more of a pacifist with no finger on the red button or any desire to shoot and so would you be better with the devil you know?
The home stretch- neck and neck or photo finish??
Uncle Corbyn the underdog versus May the Terrible who will be sitting pretty at number 10 come this Friday? If polls were to be believed Corbynistas are hoping to pull off the biggest upset in British political history thanks to the excruciatingly convoluted YouGov poll published last week which suggests hung parliament. This week YouGov says that the Tories will shed yet more seats and may not even squeak in at all come Friday.
Polls have been wrong, I for one will offer a bit of layman’s perspective as to what the outcome might be without offering to consume headgear should I be proven otherwise. Can you imagine YouGov being vindicated on the 9th? Wow they’d be so successful that they would have to outsource to India- Just make sure you have a back-up power supply.
Fact remains that May’s gang has over 100 seats in excess of Labour and the latter would have to claw back plenty of safe blue seats including the recently snatched Copeland seat. It’s a tall order, Corbyn rallies might be wild affairs attracting many with his adoring legions of cyber warriors shouting from the roof tops – something which Tim Farron probably envies no doubt. But to many core labour types the geezer is toxic, especially from some staunch brexiteers regarding him as a quiet remoaner. The North and Midlands might punish him but cosmopolitan and diverse cities are leaning towards Labour. London and outer boroughs surprises me as they have been enchanted by Pied Piper Jezzer.
May surprisingly scores higher as being more of a trusted Prime Minister and her Brexit line of No Deal seems to resonate with a lot of voters – especially ‘shy’ tory voters who unlike me kind of don’t tell anyone about their party allegiances and would quietly put in a cross for the blues when no ones looking. Then there is the issue of turnout, if it’s low then Tories get a possible comfortable majority although if it’s high with all the twenty somethings then Labour may make inroads. My gut says it won’t happen.
The other issue is about fiscal responsibility, labour have been dogged with that note suggesting no money in the treasury coffers following their last tenure as incumbents. Furthermore gaffes by Abbott, MacDonnell and Corby are also seized upon. Not to mention the whole IRA and other questionable associations which has come back to haunt Jezzer.
May as safe pair of hands – but she has fumbled the ball and watched her popularity slip in landslide proportions. Then the recent horrid attacks can’t be ignored. Will she clinch it? Probably because the older Grey Vote like their gardens and the alleged tripling of Council Tax bills or ‘Garden Tax’ will make for more than a few green fingered blue anarchists rush to the ballot box and vote for Cruella.
With my football field sized back garden means I’ll have to give up ambitions of getting the newer GT86 from Toyota or worse still the new Airfix model kit I’ve had my eye on for the last few months.
Corbyn’s approach will likely return the country to an anachronist bygone era, if only he tempered his tax grab and giveaways then perhaps his political momentum would have steam rollered shaky May. Even if it does end up as YouGove predicts- a well hung parliament then would it be a case of the tail wagging the dog? The SNP entering in coalition with Labour to see off Tory rule will mean that the Scottish pocket rocket North of the border will be able to paint her face blue and face off Corbyn Longshanks and most likely get her way- that scares the shy and very unassuming tory voter a lot more. Although will Sturgeon do as well as she did in 2015? Could be some SNP scalps in the offing.
But undeniably Corbyn has struck a chord of sorts, his tune is being hummed by many young folk not unlike myself when I was their age. But there is a shift of sorts, a desire for populist change and the more radical it is the more it attracts the disenfranchised. Corbyn will probably follow in the same footsteps that Jean-Luc Melenchon who managed to garner a sense of gravitas during the recent French election that saw in Merkel’s wonder boy Macron.
The scary part is that any candidate can come along without having experience of actual governance and translate their extreme political beliefs into policies that hurt many more than the few. It would be a honeymoon and one long Glastonbury celebration, but that would only last for a short until the knee cap cracking heavies came to collect. This applies to those on the right as well as the left incidentally.
For me as I grow older gracefully my political leanings probably follow an expected pattern as my swingometer has gone from soft left to the bluey end of the spectrum dial. Funny how one changes…roll on Friday and a sleepless night for me and many others.
If Corbyn snatches power then maybe me getting a job as a BBC political commentator is not beyond the realms of impossibility. Unbiased of course…:-) Stranger things have happened…..or could happen…