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Conservatives are making Leave look like the bonkers option

Gary Barker - Credit: Archant

None of us want this great nation to be laughed at … But that is what is happening

Let’s be clear: The Conservative and Unionist Party lost the 2017 snap General Election.

You’d have to be a corpse – and a certified one – not to win for the Conservatives in the constituency where I live. And this election? The Labour Party came within 3,000 votes. Think that’s a lot? Imagine the City of London voting Labour. Well, they almost did.

They certainly did in True Blue Kensington, seat of Kensington Palace, the Daily Mail, and homes averaging £1.4 million. William, Kate, and Harry have a Labour MP. Paul Dacre – whose paper is the Daily Mail – and George Osborne, who edits the London local the Evening Standard have their headquarters now in a Labour constituency. A Corbynite Labour constituency. For these two newspaper honchos, that’s called losing.

Oh, one more thing: Brexit – so-called Hard Brexit – has maybe lost, too. Forget all of the spinners; the gaslighters; zealots; and Brexit head-bangers roaming the print and airwaves trying to say something different. Yes, I know the Conservatives have won the most seats; the most votes; the highest share of the vote since Thatcher.

But this election was called because Theresa May and ‘My Team’ were meant to increase her majority in Parliament; then ride into Europe; put a big Anglo Saxon gun down on the table; and say to the mincing Eurobabble of Brussels: ‘We’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse.’

Now: This. Will. Not. Happen.

Theresa May not only lost her majority, she has to eat humble pie and cut a deal with some partners in order to command the Commons. Who’s willing? Step forward the DUP. The arrangement is called ‘confidence and supply’: the Tories hand out the ‘supply’ – ie cash – and the DUP provide the ‘confidence’ – votes.

The election wasn’t supposed to end this way. But the Tory La La Land we’re inhabiting now doesn’t seem to want to face the following facts:

– That aligning with the DUP endangers the UK government’s ‘honest broker’ status in any talks involving the Northern Ireland peace process.

– That Brussels warned straight away that NI was on the table. No Northern Ireland. No Deal.

– That many in Ireland (even the Taoiseach) have as much as said that a hard border was not on; and that the Republic was not interested in its citizens having to have their passports checked in the middle of the Irish Sea.

The upshot of all this: Conservatives are starting to make Leave look like the bonkers option. Now none of us – Remain or Leave – want this great nation to be laughed at. But they’re laughing in Europe. Right now.

Guy Verhofstadt, MEP and lead Brexit negotiator for the EU27 (plus top Tory troll) has said in relation to the aftermath of our election: ‘I thought surrealism was a Belgian invention.’ He’s Belgian.

The Hubris Brothers – David Cameron and his mate, George Osborne – set out from the beginning to reinforce a ‘Them and Us’ style. They loved both Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher and sought to emulate what they thought their idols had done. Their only problem: Blair and Thatcher were politicians – as in polites, ‘the citizens’. They actually interacted with people.

Osborne and Cameron did lots of stuff within their various inner circles – guided by the analytics of Sir Lynton Crosby of Australia (the Lizard Of Oz). They seldom strayed outside their bubble. Kind of a Tory Beavis and Butthead.

Theresa May knew this. She said to Osborne (according to him himself) when she fired him: ‘Go back and learn something about the party’. Because They Didn’t Know.

Both Cameron and Osborne were for Remain. And if you weren’t, to them, well, you were stupid. Osborne even hinted at a punishment Budget if the nation dared to disobey them.

He must have thought: ‘That’ll bring the plebs in line!!’

Above all, he and Cameron, along with the rest of us, were hostages to the continuing Tory proxy war over Europe. This is led by the people John Major once called ‘the bastards’ – MPs and others who he still rails against.

Cameron and Osborne – his campaign honcho – put an in/out referendum promise into the 2015 manifesto. They didn’t bother to take on board the fact that a one-vote majority could change the destiny of the entire nation.

They just wanted to win. And there was another thing: Cameron and Osborne’s aim: destroy the left and its main agent, the Labour Party. Obliterate it. Finish the work that their Guiding Spirit ‘the Blessed Margaret’ set out to do. But Cameron, in particular (ex PR guy, after all) was going to do it 21st century style.

For example: he refused to debate the Leader of the Opposition; did not refer to Ed Miliband by his name, but as ‘the other guy’ or ‘him’. He turned PMQs into cheap music-hall complete with a boom! boom! finish to the last question Miliband was allowed.

This was all part of relegating his opponent to non-human status. Maybe that’s what they do on the playing fields of 
Eton; or nights carousing with the Bullingdon.

The earnest Miliband couldn’t best him. On election night 2015, Cameron was filmed in a meeting with Tory activists, grinning and blushing and gushing that he couldn’t believe that it had happened. They’d won…even had a small overall majority!

And thus Nemesis began to flap her wings. Because the EU referendum now had to go forward. Next Act: step forward that Box Office Blond: Boris Johnson, a man who could make Niccolo Machiavelli gasp in shock.

Boris, anyone’s idea of a natural Europhile (even his own sister thought so) set out with the highly effective, simple slogans harvested by Vote Leave from their FB campaign. He alluded, also, to the fact that the NHS would profit from all of the cash repatriated from the evil, dastardly Brussels. And that somehow, jobs will return.

The referendum happened; Remain lost and Cameron resigned, like a good soldier. This was followed by a ludicrous leadership contest with the possibility that not only Boris Johnson, but Michael Gove or Andrea Leadsom might emerge as Prime Minister. This chaos matched (without the glitz) what was going on in the Labour Party.

Labour, the official opposition – paid to do this task by us, the taxpayers, with what’s called Short money – looked, for a time, like some kind of student union madness.

Actually, it looked like it was being led by a guy straight out of the Student Union. Of 40 years ago. Jeremy Corbyn had an allotment, a cat named El Gato, an overgrown garden, a house in Islington (that hated Borough), was awful at PMQs, got upset at journalists, did rallies with young people who everyone knows don’t vote, and said what was on his mind. A 100% loser, in other words.

How could we be sure of that? And by the way, why did Theresa May think that she’d win big; maybe even get a landslide? Because the polls and the pundits said 

I started a tweet about three weeks ago: ‘Forget the pollspunditspaperspredictions. Take two 18-34 year olds to #RegisterToVote and #gamechange.#GE2017’.

The polls, the papers, and the pundits – those of us paid to talk on air – said that Labour would be wiped out; the kingdom was to get ready for a bloodbath the day after the election. I’ve heard that the PM took pundit opinion into account.

Nate Silver, the big time American pollster – who incidentally called the US election wrong like everyone else – calls British pollsters the worst on earth. I don’t know about that, but if true, one reason might be because, like the rest of British society, they tend to herd.

John Curtice, head of the British Polling Council which creates the Exit Poll used by all the networks, warned Theresa May after she called the snap election that her move was dangerous. He knew that something was afoot.

He said that the UK was becoming more like America – that there were rock-solid heartlands. Plus there seemed to be an incredible upsurge in youth voter registration – never a great sign for the Conservatives, whose demographic tends to be older.

But May listened to those of us who read the papers on air, and have radio shows. She messed up. Because most of us pundits did. My polling sample are London taxi drivers. They’re always right. I asked a bunch of them how they were voting. They said to a man (they’re all guys): ‘The wife and kids are voting Labour. I’ll either do the same or abstain.’

Neither the Tories nor UKIP were in the frame. Now there is a real possibility, talked of even in right wing / Hard Brexit / Eurosceptic circles that Brexit may not even happen. At least not the way they want it to. Even Nigel Farage has said that Brexit is in trouble, and that he might have to return to politics to save it. Who knows?

Who was to know that the coalition of chaos, that the Conservatives warned us about, would be led by THEM? Who was to know that it would be Corbyn who would get the standing ovation from his party as he walked into the House Of Commons on its first day after the election?

And who knows if it will be Corbyn, not in love with the EU himself, who might be the one who turns this all around? Who knows?

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