Its Summer and I’m busy going to places and events, well it is that time of year and if you don’t do it now, when will you ? It is also traditionally a time of year when politics gets rather boring and the Press start the “Silly Season” for fake or dubious news stories. This year is little different and that in itself is quite interesting.
We have just had a “failed” election that has seen little meaningful change, a bad run of tragedies involving terrorists and a terrible high rise fire that has probably claimed 80 lives on top of which we have started Brexit negotiations. Overall you would expect this year to be very different indeed and yet…it really isn’t which is odd.
A Lack of Motivation
As I survey the scene as it were, I find myself totally lacking in any motivation when it comes to blogging about UK politics and in part that is because despite all the synthetic heat generated by the Media over this or that, there are a number of things that seem rather obvious to me about the current position we are in but it might take some time for the penny to drop.
If we start with Theresa May then her position as PM may well be far more secure than seems obvious at first glance because the “Rise of Corbyn” during that election plus the loss of the small majority she had will probably mean that she will have little serious problems with backbenchers not too keen in facing another election anytime soon. Besides which with the Brexit negotiations finally underway against a tight deadline, who would want her job right now ? She is probably fairly safe until Spring 2019 and a lot can happen between now and then. On the face of it, that is when a leadership election could be launched to replace her but would it if she had had a “Good Brexit”? It is often forgotten that without the Falklands and how she handled it, it is unlikely that Margaret Thatcher would have got a second term and even remained leader of the Conservatives.
As for Corbyn, he may well have already reached and passed his high water mark, I can’t see him being too successful at maintaining a “Mr Angry, I will be PM in 6 months” stance if the Tories keep their ranks closed and progress is being made on Brexit and the economy. For all the Trump style populism that surrounds him outside of Parliament, the real battle lies on the floor of the Commons. Indeed, the amendment on EU negotiating requirements laid down by him against the Queen’s Speech last night led to a Labour revolt of some 49 MPs so as a notable former rebel against the Labour whip, he may be in for a lot of grief in days to come. Amusingly, the Guardian glossed over this Labour rebellion and instead focused on a ‘possible’ Tory rebellion headed off by concessions on abortion for Northern Irish citizens under the NHS on the mainland.
Up until now under German tutelage, the EU has been taking a hard line over Brexit because it would seem that the EU is a ship or prison that others may well want to leave so “Britain must be punished” but it is a foolish stance because the UK leaving means a loss of ten billion Euros pa to the Brussels budget. This is bad enough but it would be made considerably worse for individual EU countries and the EU as a whole if UK/EU trade was damaged too. This would hurt the UK most certainly but it would also severely damage the EU too so common sense must prevail within the EU and they need to be pragmatic and realise that a deal tailored to the UK and despite “sacred principles” is in their best interests too.
In fact to put it crudely, the EU’s objectives should be to keep trade going as is, whilst finding acceptable mechanisms whereby the UK continues to participate in and fund projects of mutual interest that might soften the blow to the EU of the loss of UK budget contributions.
The trouble is that it will take a little time for all these things to become accepted which is probably as well because with regard to Brexit, I have always had one major complaint about David Cameron and the EU Referendum, he called it way too early. Cameron’s big personal mistake was that statement made during the 2015 General Election when he said that he wouldn’t fight the next one. At the time the polls predicted another hung Parliament and he certainly didn’t expect to have a majority, getting one seems to have changed some things for him, he became a man in a hurry to secure his “Legacy” and therefore rushed the whole EU renegotiation process which was a big mistake on his part and one he never would have made if personally committed to being the PM for the foreseeable future.
There is a funny parallel to moving house here and many of us have experienced it over the years, you get the idea to look around at other properties but can’t find anything that suits you better than what you have so, you stop looking. Even so and generally within a year, you will have moved house anyway but why ? The answer is that although you didn’t find anything first time, the very fact that you were even looking meant that you were dissatisfied and wanted to move on.
Cameron saying that he wouldn’t fight the next election was a clear signal that he had lost his appetite for the job and then having won a majority, he was in a hurry to mould things to suit his own timetable and you can’t do that in politics, it is just not in your gift and History decides what legacy you left, if any. He wanted to tidy up his time as PM and rushed the “renegotiations” which weren’t helped by the smug incompetence of the EU that assumed the result to be a foregone conclusion for “Remain”. He then accepted an obvious nonsense deal that turned millions of voters who previously couldn’t give a fart about the EU into hardened “Leavers”. Trying to foist this pile of steaming horse dung on the public was a big mistake, calling it when he did was an even bigger error because he failed to factor in the possibility of a “Leave” result until the very last moments of the campaign.
Why this matters is that absolutely nothing was going to get done until after the German elections this September. Whilst it is unlikely that Merkel will get turfed out of office and even if she were, her replacement would be little different, what does matter is that whoever is German Chancellor knows that they have time in post ahead of them and can therefore make rational decisions untainted by the domestic politics prior to an election.
What needs to be fully appreciated is that the UK, unlike Germany is a “good European citizen” in terms of being a dynamo for jobs and sales opportunities for fellow Europeans because it is investing in its infrastructure whereas Germany is just stuffing its money under its mattress and not helping its fellow European economies. This is a coin that really must drop by the year end right across the EU. I don’t dislike the Germans but they do seem to lack imagination and an understanding that sometimes a “nuanced response” is what is required not some childish clinging to a “rule book” of some kind. True this can be taken too far by the French with the “Gallic Shrug of the Shoulders” which is why Germany and France need each other to balance things out within the EU.
As I have written many times previously, the Euro crisis which is the main thing that will shatter the EU, could have been better dealt with if people accepted that Europe is inevitably “multispeed” and that the Single Currency was a mistake. If some 8 years ago Germany had left the eurozone and set up a new D Mark zone that others who could live strictly by “German Rules” could join allowing the Euro and the Southern Med countries to find their own level of economic stability, Europe would be a happier and economically a more robust place today.
All Too Obvious
Although I have at times written with passion on many political topics and I genuinely find it inexplicable to understand why Corbyn could be seen as the answer to anything by anyone with a functioning intellect, as a function of my age no doubt, I often wonder whether any of it matters. Whatever happens the World will still turn and to be frank, I often suspect that everything turns out exactly as it was ever meant to be and regardless of all the fretting about it all by you and I.
I have little time for conspiracy theories simply because human affairs all too often seem so shambolic and for all the fuss, world leaders all too often seen like the Wizard of Oz, someone hiding behind a curtain and no better informed than the people they are supposed to be leading.
Today I visited Wells Cathedral, the current building was constructed between roughly 1200 and 1500, Cathedral building was never a ‘quick build’. It is a splendid series of buildings, grounds and history ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wells_Cathedral ) and walking around it made me ponder just how long it has stood and what in its long history, it has both witnessed and lived through. It also reminded me that whatever our current “travails” might be over Brexit and everything else going on in the world, as a Nation we have lived through worse times and yet in the end have prospered, I am sure that we will do so again.