Tories, troubles and trolleys
Here’s how it looks from my corner of the sofa:
In 2015, the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, called a referendum for the people of the UK to vote whether to remain in the EU or to leave it. This was an election promise he’d made to appease the Eurosceptic element of his own party (plus, I reckon, he was hoping that a sizeable Remain majority would force those same Eurosceptics to finally shut the fuck up).
It was a referendum that should never have been called. The UK is a representative democracy, not a plebiscite. These are difficult issues and that is precisely why we have MPs – to work through them on our behalf and try to do the best thing. We are not supposed to have these things dumped summarily on our heads.
However, dumped they were so we had to make the best of it. I am a natural Remainer but the EU is not perfect and there are probably some very strong and reasonable arguments in favour of leaving it. But we were given none of those arguments.
Instead, the Leave campaign bombarded us with jingoistic claptrap of the most lurid (and dishonest) sort, in the face of which, Remain’s only response appeared to be muttering protective incantations under its breath. Which didn’t work.
The first unthinkable happened and we voted to Leave. In a display of jaw-dropping irresponsibility, the party who had started all this admitted it had no plan for Leave, other than David Cameron resigning. This he did with all due speed, unleashing a bloody bunfight for his succession.
From the strewn debris and piled-up corpses of this bunfight, Theresa May eventually emerged as Tory leader and unelected Prime Minister. She presented herself as the still centre of a chaotic world and promised to get us safely through Brexit with no more upheaval until the next General Election in 2020.
Then, eight weeks ago, in a u-turn of breath-taking cynicism, May (and the vested interests, policy wonks and spin doctors who undoubtedly control..sorry, advise her) decided to cash in on the Tories’ huge and seemingly unassailable lead in the polls by calling a totally unnecessary snap General Election. The assumption appeared to be that they could use their strong position and the Labour Party’s disarray to deliver the sort of terminal body blow to the opposition that would keep the Tories in power for years to come and might even kill off the Labour Party altogether.
But thanks to an utterly shambolic election campaign by the Tories, a joyously galvanising one from Corbyn et al and a British electorate that knows when it’s being used and doesn’t like it one little bit, the second unthinkable has happened. Far from a landslide victory, the Tories – for the moment – have just about managed to scrape together a Government from a very well-hung parliament. For the moment.
All this in 25 months since the 2015 General Election. All this before we’ve even mentioned ideology or policies or manifestos or personalities. On the evidence of their performance of the last two years, the Tories couldn’t safely steer a wheely-shopper around Lidl, let alone an entire nation out of Europe.
No-one is too big to fail.