In an attempt to extricate herself from that distant galaxy where her plans for Brexit were formulated, Theresa May is revelling in the label ‘bloody difficult woman’. Jean Claude Juncker is finding out how difficult I can be, gloated Theresa as she grimaced over a poke of chips. Poor Theresa, struggling to comprehend the complexities of the Brexit process, and struggling to comprehend the important difference between difficult and delusional. Theresa wants bloody difficult to define her like iron lady defined Thatcher. Bloody difficult, the Mrs Mack of politics as soap opera.
The line from Downing Street is that the reports in the press of a Prime Ministerial dinner with the President of the European Commission which made Abigail’s Party seem like an audience with the Pope are nothing more than Brussels gossip mongering. At this point it’s worthwhile to point out that just because your neighbour is a terrible gossip, who will waylay you in the close to regale you of all the details of how the neighbour along the road had a drunken party that the polis were called out to, it doesn’t mean that she’s a liar. The thing about gossip is that it’s often hurtful, and it’s most often hurtful when it’s true. Just as difficult is not a synonym for delusional, gossip is not a synonym for lie.
The Brussels gossip line was faithfully reported by the BBC. So let’s move on. Nothing to see here then. Instead we should all gossip about Diane Abbott getting mixed up with some figures in a radio interview. For our national broadcaster it’s far more important to have a giggle at the temporary mix up of a woman who isn’t going to get the job of Home Secretary and who had a wee brain fart when asked about the figures for a sensible policy to increase police numbers, than it is to dwell on the fact that the woman who heads the government of the UK and who it seems will continue to lead it after this election doesn’t have a clue about the fundamentals of her job and is about to lead the entire country off a Brexit precipice.
But that Diane eh. Couldn’t remember a number as she rushed into an interview. That makes her unfit for high office so it does. Theresa May’s inability to grasp the complexities and ramifications of Brexit, and leaving the President of the EU Commission gobsmacked, well that’s just her being strong and stable and being a bloody difficult woman.
In her speech after Parliament was officially dissolved on Wednesday, our chip-challenged Prime Minister stood outside Downing Street and channelled Raycip Erdogan. Brussels is trying to interfere in Britain’s election, she said. They’re telling lies about me. I’m not delusional at all. Oh no. Britain really is going to come out of the other side of Brexit into a magic fairy land of unicorns that lay golden eggs. How dare those foreigners express an opinion about me. Everything should be a secret except what I choose to tell you. That’s the strong and stable government that I stand for. They’re making threats against me by telling the British public that I live in another galaxy. How dare they. The only person in these Brexit negotiations who should be making threats is me. It’s an insult to Britain’s decision to leave the EU to say this government is in another galaxy. We’re really in a fruit and nut case.
So here we are in 2017, with a UK government and opposition neither of which are fit for purpose. Those broad shoulders of Britain that Scotland was told it relies on turn out not to bear any functioning brain. Labour is divided, tribal, more concerned with its internal struggles. But the incompetence of Labour is as nothing compared to the looming disaster represented by Theresa May’s Conservatives.
Theresa May is secretive, controlling and authoritarian and that’s deeply concerning in a country like the UK which lacks a written constitution and clear and well defined limits to the powers of the Prime Minister. This election was only called in the first place because Theresa May wants to wipe out what’s left of parliamentary opposition. We have a Prime Minister who genuinely believes that having parliamentary opposition and scrutiny is a bad thing, a Prime Minister who is not merely clueless about Brexit, she’s clueless about the nature of democracy too. She’s running this general election as a presidential campaign. She’s positioning herself as the new Thatcher. British democracy is at serious risk with Theresa May. She wants all power for herself. She won’t say what she’s going to do with it.
Now Theresa has gone off the deep end and has openly accused the EU of threatening Britain and attempting to interfere in the General Election. When the British government encouraged every foreign leader and his dog to intervene in the Scottish referendum that was just fine and dandy. But when a foreign leader’s comments which are unhelpful to Theresa are leaked, she reacts like an autocrat. This is genuinely the kind of language we expect to hear from authoritarian leaders like Erdogan or Putin. It signals the end to the phoney Brexit war. Negotiations with the EU are going to be conducted in a nakedly hostile atmosphere. Whether it’s the arrogant ignorance typical of the British Conservatives, or whether it’s a deliberate Machiavellian strategy, Theresa May is creating the conditions where Britain could easily fall out of the EU without any deal at all. The worst of all possible Brexits, the nightmare scenario. And if that does come to pass she’ll blame the Germans, she’ll blame foreigners, and she will probably blame the Scots as well for undermining her at home.
In her speech she once again mentioned the “separatists” who want to divide the country. But the UK is being divided by Theresa and her Conservatives, a party that doesn’t understand the difference between difficult and delusion, or between democracy and majoritarianism. Theresa May’s idea of unity is for everyone who disagrees with her to shut up, and she called this General Election in order to give her a crushing parliamentary majority that will allow her to force everyone who doesn’t agree with her to shut up. But all she’s going to achieve is uniting the EU against her, and solidifying its opposition against her.
She is likely to achieve her majority. She’s even likely to make gains in Scotland as the Unionist cause coalesces around the Tories. But in the longer term Theresa May and all she represents signals the end of the Union and the final destruction of the post WW2 settlement. She’s destroying the liberal, public service oriented, outward looking Britain that Scotland was promised it could be a leading partner in. She offers us nothing, but demands our obedience and then cries separatist when we say no.
In the Financial Times on Wednesday it was reported that the exit cost to the UK of Brexit could reach €100 billion. Scotland’s share of that works out at approximately £1500 for every single person in the country. That’s what it’s going to cost each and every one of us to go down a path this country doesn’t want to go down. It’s a cost that will be added to Westminster’s Scottish deficit and used to tell us that we’re too poor.
For Scotland, we stand at the crossroads of two futures. Independence and making our own relationship with Europe and the rest of the world, or Theresa’s authoritarian Brexit Britain that lives in its soap opera delusions of Empire. That’s not a bloody difficult choice.
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