Cartoon: Steve Bell, The Guardian
Since this election was suddenly announced, a lot of people have asked me what we plan to do this time around, to follow on from the Common Decency campaign we conducted at the last election. This is my answer.
It’s been a while since I got on my Soapbox in earnest and talked politics. But now is the time to get serious, because I believe our country and the very roots of democracy are under threat because of Theresa May and this poisonous and opportunistic election.
In a nutshell, what I’m going to say to you is that, by any means open to us, we must direct our efforts towards getting rid of Mrs May in this election. The very best result for the Country would be that she gets thrown out of office. And it COULD happen. But even if that’s not achieved, the next best thing will be to pack the House of Commons with a cross-party mix of thoroughly decent MPs who will be able to limit Theresa May’s powers in the coming months, and thwart her attempt to become a virtual dictator. If this seems a little alarmist, I’m now going to tell you why I’m convinced that this is the case.
Going back a couple of years, we saw David Cameron calling a referendum on Brexit. The voters were given virtually NO information on what would happen if we departed, because none was available. The case for Brexit was laughably flimsy – based on fatuous catch phrases like “making Britain Great again” (how strikingly similar to Trump’s inane cant). The country should have thrown it straight out of the window. But David Cameron, irresistibly pulled on by giddy ambition, vanity and a lust for power, gambled on being able to scare us all with ridiculous exaggerations. He gambled on the gullibility of the public, and his belief in his own carefully manicured charisma. And it all backfired. Unexpectedly, and catastrophically for him, he lost.
So Britain, voting for all the wrong reasons, made the stupidest decision in my lifetime – to smash all the relationships with Europe that had been so carefully forged for so many years, and leave Europe, without even a shred of a road map.
Cameron, correctly reading the tea-leaves which told him that staying on would only get him into more and more difficulties, vacated 10 Downing Street. Cameron’s removal from office was basically the only good thing to emerge from that fateful mess of a decision – Brexit. In the scrabbling around which then took place within the Conservative party to fill the gap of PM, deals were hastily done, while all the fierce proponents of Brexit quietly ran away. And who should find herself hot in the running – but Theresa May. Widely regarded as a steady hand at the time, she had actually voted to REMAIN – and had indulged in some pretty grubby scaremongering herself ( did she really say that “leaving Europe would be the worst disaster since World War II ?? – did we forget so soon ?!!)
What happened next slipped by us all, and was hardly commented upon, because, I think, we all wanted to think the best of this new person arriving in Downing Street, with the opportunity of starting things afresh.
But we all should have realised that, at this point, the decent thing for Theresa May to have done would have been to stick to her principles, and tell the country she couldn’t lead us in a direction which she didn’t believe in. Instead, presumably drawn by the same irresistible pull – the heady prospect of power – she accepted the job. Suddenly she was telling us she would go all the way in ‘fulfilling the wishes of the country’. The warning bells were ringing at that point. But none of us heard them. Theresa May was cut from the same cloth as Tony Blair and to David Cameron – her lust for power was soon to be unleashed, and there would be no turning back. Who was it that said that “all power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”?
Jumping to a couple of weeks ago, Theresa May suddenly, out of the blue, announced a new general election. She told us that the reason for calling it was to ‘strengthen her negotiating position in Europe’. The phrase “Strong and Stable leadership” was created by her publicity writers, but of course her leadership in Europe has been anything but strong and stable … she has become a laughing stock after displaying her arrogance and ignorance in conference with Mr Junckers.
But let us look at her declared reasons for calling this election. It doesn’t take much brain to realise that the result of it can make absolutely no difference to her powers of negotiation. The decision was plainly made because TM was advised that she was 20 points ahead in the polls, and an election could give her a massively increased majority in the House of Commons. It would mean she could push through anything she wanted … with no appreciable opposition. She would become, virtually, a dictator. So now the picture becomes clearer … not only is she mad for power, but she is dishonest in her declaration of intentions. This is not a nice woman, or a decent woman, or a woman who should be trusted with the power she seeks.
Theresa May is in fact in the middle of one of the most cynical bits of maneuvering in British Parliamentary history … at the expense of the country’s best interests. Right now, we have no Prime Minister. We have no Parliament … Theresa May has effectively immobilised Britain at one of the most crucial moments we have ever experienced … the potentially disastrous exit from Europe. This is gross irresponsibility, a monstrously selfish and dishonest act, and Theresa May should be called to task for it, by being ejected from the race to be the next PM.
But many of us were still, amazingly, willing to give this woman the benefit of the doubt.
But three days ago everything changed. In the midst of her campaigning, we saw Theresa May assert she was in favour of Fox Hunting and would bring in a bill in Parliament to repeal the Hunting Act. Suddenly the blinkers are off. Fox Hunting ? ! In the middle of planning our whole future as a nation, she declares she wants to bring back blood sports. It’s so shocking most people would not have believed it until they heard it from her lips. The vast majority of the British public is horrified and disgusted by all forms of blood sports. At a stroke, Theresa May has marked herself as morally unfit to be the next prime minister. For the sake of Democracy, decency, and for the protection of the poor, the sick, and the voiceless, Theresa May is unacceptable as our leader.