Monday, 8 May 2017

The general election

So we have upon us a new general election. Most progressives and moderates like myself just wait for it with dread. It was announced two months in advance and caught everyone by surprise.

You could argue that it was long overdue. Theresa May has zealously pursued a Hard Brexit with no mandate from the electorate. And still, however life-defining it might be, it just seems boring. There is no substance in anything the parties are saying. It's almost like May knows she doesn't have to try, so she just parrots empty phrases about 'stable and strong government.' Corbyn has never said anything of any substance, beyond extremely vague statements about 'a better society.' Our parliamentary system is devised to enable a strong opposition to hold the government to account. With no opposition - Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party are a shambles - we just have a one party state. This is a farcical election, as everyone already knows the outcome in advance. Yet, paradoxically, it should be the most important post-war election since Brexit is a defining moment.

This is the most horrendous and authoritarian government I have ever had to endure in my life time. There is the 'snooper's charter,' which infringes on your data protections rights. May and the right of the Tory party want to impose their will on others. They want to control immigration at all costs, even when this will obviously have detrimental effects on the economy. May wants to tear apart all the progressive values that Britain has held for years - diversity, toleration, openness...

It is also annoying how Theresa May appropriates policies from Ed Miliband - and no-one bats an eye-lid about it. When Miliband proposes a cap on energy prices, talks about stronger state intervention in the economy, he is chastised for it. When Miliband wants to ease austerity and scrap a surplus target, he is berated for it. When May does it, she is a sensible woman.

But the current climate,we are told, is rife with 'populism'. Populism can be defined as a distrust of the elites and a desire to overturn them. No mainstream party in their right mind should pander to these sentiments. May panders to xenophobic sentiments. Instead of being congenial with Europe, May panders to popular paranoia by lashing out against the EU and its lifeless bureaucrats.

Which is why in normal times, this government would really get a beating. In normal times, this would not be tolerated. Why on earth does Corbyn not bring up Brexit? If the opposition were properly organised and called the government out on all this, they would trash them.

But now is the time that the Labour left finally took control of the party. They have waited 120 years for this moment. This country is a constitutional parliamentary monarchy. The Labour party was founded to form part of parliamentary democracy. When outside interests and pressure groups have tried to hijack it - most notoriously in the 1980s - it has breached the constitution of the country and the party. But Corbyn doesn't care - his little tribe finally has power. To be fair, there is nothing particularly 'hard left' about his proposals. However, there is nothing at all imaginative about them. Renationalising the railways, pumping money into the economy - this is old stale Keynesian stuff. Labour are in desperate need of a strong leader with imaginative ideas.

Why have we done this? This is the legacy bequeathed to us by David Cameron, who vowed to unite the country and modernise his party. He achieved the opposite - the country is the most divided it has ever been and his party atavistically pines for the halcyon days of the 1950s.

This is a nightmare scenario. The EU has many faults. By imposing harsh austerity, in its own way it has helped to foment these xenophobic and populist sentiments. However, the ideals of the EU have been met, as this is the longest period of peace in the history of Europe. That really trumps all other arguments. Whenever the UK has distanced itself from Europe, it has put that in jeopardy.

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