The best of both worlds

savingourselves
Theresa May has gone. Sort of. At least she has removed the sofa that was barricading the door to Number 10 and arranged a date for the removal van. The she strode out of that door to the inevitable podium, and without a hint of irony or self-awareness spoke about the need for compromise in finding a solution to Brexit. If she’d done that when she became Tory leader then perhaps she wouldn’t have needed to make that speech at the podium.

The speech was a masterclass in lack of self-awareness. She quoted Nicholas Winton, who organised the Kinder Transport that saved 669 mostly Jewish refugee children from the Nazis just before WW2, saying that he had taught her that life depends upon compromise. Clearly she had heard his words but hadn’t understood them, she had learned of his deeds but refused to put them into practice herself, instead preferring to institute a hostile environment for migrants and to place restrictions on the passage of unaccompanied minors from the refugee camps near Calais. Nicholas Winton forged documents in order to bring those child refugees to the UK. If Theresa May had been Home Secretary at the time, she’d have put him in jail. Even as she announced the end to her time in office, her rank opportunism and hypocrisy was breath-taking.

There’s been a concerted campaign in the press to make us feel sorry for Theresa. We should be sorry for her because she regarded immigrants as an easy target that she could demonise and threaten in order to advance her career. We should be sorry for her because she was a racist Home Secretary who screwed up the lives of the Windrush generation and sent out vans bearing a message that the 1970s National Front would have approved of. We should be sorry for her because she presided over the destruction of the social security safety net and oversaw a mushrooming of foodbanks. We should be sorry for her because at every turn, at every opportunity, she prioritised the interests of her own party over the interests of the rest of us. We should be sorry for her because she was brought down by her own intransigence, inflexibility, and inability to come out of the cave where she drew red lines in the dark. Sorry, not sorry.

But most of all, we are told to feel compassion for Theresa May because at the very end of her resignation speech her voice cracked and there were tears in her eyes. Tears for herself. Tears for her own career. Tears for how she will be remembered for what she herself has done. Sorry, but no. The compassion should be reserved for all those whose lives have been blighted by the worst British Prime Minister since the one before, the worst before the one to follow. We’re going to need a lot of compassion, it’s too precious to waste on a self-serving careerist who is the victim of her own arrogant intransigence. We’re all citizens of nowhere in the eyes of Theresa, and we have no sympathy to waste on her.

Theresa is going, her failures have left us in an uncertain and fearful place where we laugh at dairy products being thrown over the demons of our nightmares because the alternative is to weep silently or rage in the darkness. If the best weapon that we have against fascism is a milkshake then we’ve already lost. The UK feels more dangerous, more precarious, than at any time since WW2. The forces of right wing populism are on the rise, facilitated by the failures of that same British political system which told Scotland it was the only guarantee of moderation and stability.

The gurning grinning face of Nigel Farage is never off our screens and when we look at him we see the image of the Conservative party that will follow this Prime Minister. We hear the cries of betrayal, of treason, of traitors, of enemies of the people, of national humiliation. We see the scapegoating of minorities, the migrants, the poor, the disadvantaged, and we know that this never ends well. It ends with a Nicholas Winton and desperate attempts to save a handful of children from the oppressive madness of organised cruelty.

Whoever succeeds Theresa May will be another opportunist who seeks to ride the anger of that Farage has so successfully stoked up, and who will seek to reshape the Conservative party as the party of the Brexit extremists. We’ll soon be getting to the point where it will be easier to list those Tory MPs who aren’t standing for the leadership than those who are. Even no-marks like the Brexcrementalist Steve ‘Bulldoze Parliament into the River’ Baker have said that he is running for leader because he has heard calls for him to get in the race. He must have abysmal hearing. I heard it as “get in the sea”.

Boris Johnson has many critics and opponents amongst Conservative MPs, but he’s the runaway favourite amongst the party membership who will make the final decision. That membership won’t look kindly upon MPs who conspire to block Boris from the final two who will be put to the membership. We’re now facing the very real possiblity of a Prime Minister Boris Johnson and a no deal Brexit, the absolute worst possible scenario.

In 2014 Better Together promised Scotland the best of both worlds if it voted against independence. We’d have stronger, better, safer devolution, combined with the stability and international reputation of the UK. Instead we’re getting a devolution settlement that’s being undermined, a British government which has taken it upon itself to rip up the Scottish Claim of Right, a chaotic and sclerotic political system whose greatest strengths have turned into its biggest weakness, and now we have the frightening prospect of the economic disaster of a no deal Brexit combined with a Prime Minister who openly panders to the worst aspects of right wing English nationalism and who is despised and reviled by European leaders, an international laughing stock. Best of both worlds has turned out to be the threat of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister with a gurning Nigel Farage looking over his shoulder.

And yet we’re asked to show sympathy for a hypocrite who only ever managed to show some emotion for the loss of her own power. Theresa May will go into retirement as a rich woman, she will continue to enjoy a life of privilege. The rest of us face uncertainty, fear, and the prospect of a precarious and meagre existence. If this is the best of both worlds then we must live in a universe of despair.

There has never been a stronger argument for Scottish independence. Independence is no longer something that’s merely desirable, no longer something we need in order to make this country a better place. Scotland needs independence in order to save itself. We need to make that decision, soon. Otherwise our future is as a neglected and discontent northern province of a rampant right wing English nationalist state.

Apologies to everyone who went to the Yes Glasgow and West event in Glasgow today (Saturday 25 May) expecting to see me talk along with Craig Dalzell and Paul Fletcher. Unfortunately I’ve done my back in and couldn’t make it.


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30 comments on “The best of both worlds

  1. Iain Patterson says:

    Dear Paul,

    Spot on in your comments about Nicholas Winton.
    He was a real principled hero (and a socialist).
    What cheek on Teresa’s part!

  2. Dr David Mitchell Greenwell says:

    A very accurate summary of Theresa May and her premiership, one which has been steeped in blatant hypocrisy from the outset. Certainly the worst of the bad bunch of prime ministers we have had since Thatcher who was probably the very worst. Thatcher was more competent at being bad while May was incompetent at being anything.

  3. Welsh Sion says:

    “To compromise” (verb)

    1 to accept that you will reduce your demands or change your opinion in order to reach an agreement with someone

    e.g. Party unity is threatened when members will not compromise.

    2 to allow your principles to be less strong or your standards or morals to be lower

    e.g. Don’t compromise your beliefs/principles for the sake of being accepted.

    3 to risk having a harmful effect on something

    e.g. We would never compromise the safety of our passengers.

    Source: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/compromise

    May would have us believe that she means definition 1. I suggest that her meanings are closer to 2 and 3. (Even assuming she ever had it in her to ‘change her opinion in order to reach an agreement with someone’. Which she didn’t).

    No tears. No sympathy. No flowers.

  4. Thatcher and May – they only ever cried for themselves. Never for the communities they devestated or the individual lives they have ruined. Even as we watched a young man in tears in the food bank one of the volunteers excused May by saying she had a hard job wished on her. I honestly don’t know what to do about someone like that.

  5. […] Wee Ginger Dug The best of both worlds Theresa May has gone. Sort of. At least she has removed the sofa that was barricading […]

  6. Bob Lamont says:

    Indeed all good points, May’s personal angst is but media spin turning a blind eye to the succession of victims left in her wake over the last decade..
    I would not be so sure of Boris’s popularity among Party members any more than in Parliament, despite what the media say. I view polls with considerable suspicion these days, they frequently seem intent to influence opinion rather than reflect it.
    A channel 4 piece recently on Party members was not exactly glowing, some favouring none of them at all, the rightward lurch has clearly been worrying even them..
    The extremists Tories in Westminster are the real problem, no matter who is PM they will continue to pull the strings, and the Mk2 version (Brexit) will only give them added impetus after the EU results..
    Independence is the only way out of this, and will fast become urgent…

  7. Terry callachan says:

    Well said

  8. Macart says:

    No. No sympathy for Theresa May and for all the reasons stated above the line. (Well said Paul)

    I’d hope that by this point people are beginning to see just what that no vote meant in 2014. What it was they turned their back on and gave into the care of that circus of venal clowns on the Thames.

    Just sayin’ like. But mibbies some folk would like to revisit that choice about now?

    Worth a thought.

  9. John McLeod says:

    There is a lot of hard work to be done to build a society that provides a decent life for our children and grandchildren. To do that, we need to work together, from a position of respect for those who are different, and respect for the health of the planet that sustains us. The parties of the right represent selfishness and entitlement. They want to go in entirely the wrong direction. Never forget this. It does not matter who they choose as leader. They need to lie in order to conceal the true cruelty, destructiveness and greed that is the essence of their political philosophy. Johnson and Farage are plausible liars who are exploiting the anger of huge numbers of people who can see that there is something wrong with the way things are going, and see the solution as putting the clock back to an era when things seemed to make more sense.

  10. John McLeod says:

    We need to find a way to work together to deal with the climate and pollution emergency. This is what Labour has failed to grasp. They have some great principles and policies that look good in an election manifesto. But they have been unable to co-operate with others (Greens, SNP) who have similar values. They are locked into the old politics where one party could gain a majority and be in control for a few years. That old politics has not served the UK well. Blair and Brown squandered the chance to take advantage of the fact that, in 1997, the vast majority of the country shared their principles and values. Instead, they found common purpose in the mainstream right-wing media and the USA. In the First Scottish Independence Referendum, they resolutely refused to take the opportunity that was open to them, to contribute to making a new Scotland. At the moment their failure of courage in relation to Brexit has left them in a complete mess. But that will pass. When they sort themselves out, the key thing to look out for is not the policies in the manifesto. Its whether they have a different attitude towards working with others.

    • David Greenwell says:

      I think that the failure of Labour to work with the SNP and Greens has been one of their many weaknesses, the biggest one being their participation in better together.

  11. John McLeod says:

    One final comment. A major change in the political landscaper over my lifetime is that it has become clear that politicians no longer know best. I remember reading and listening to Labour politicians of the Wilson era and thinking that they were operating on a different level, in terms of understanding the issues and having a vision for the future. But things are different now. We live in a complex global society, characterised by a historically unique pace of change, in which no-one knows best. Intelligence, knowledge, insight and vision are distributed through society. What we need now is politicians who can listen, energise and support people to offer their skills and experience, promote dialogue, and facilitate shared decision-making. We need politicians who have the courage to create and maintain democratic spaces (not just in parliament) where these kinds of processes can take place.

  12. Electric blue says:

    As usual you have summed up in eloquent language exactly what I think. Thank you.

  13. deelsdugs says:

    Excellently put Paul. No sympathy here for the cracked actor. Never has been. She’s an embarrassment of a woman, a self-obsessed sanctimonious plook that spewed the pus out time and time again. Maggie’s tyranny was almost complacent in comparison. She should be deeply ashamed of herself, but she has no shame, she has no feelings, nothing, except abusive wealthy power…and she’s not away yet…there might be another scheme hidden in her smirk…

  14. Douglas Deans says:

    Thank you, this is scary stuff Paul.

    The problem with recognising the rise of Fascism is that the term is banded about so lightly over many years that there is the ‘crying wolf’ problem.

    Sometimes there is no WOLF, sometimes there is a whole PACK.

    I’ve been refreshing my knowledge about the rise of Fascism in 1930s, a couple of long articles have made me feel very very uneasy:

    NY Times 2008
    (https://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/03/opinion/03iht-edkershaw.1.9700744.html)

    and

    Guardian 2015
    (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/16/hitlers-world-may-not-be-so-far-away)

    Although the NY Times article was trying to be more optimistic, it made my blood run cold because in 2008 it listed all the improbable things that had to happen for us to be at risk; many of these unlikely things are falling into place:

    ‘Mercifully, what happened in Germany in 1933, and its aftermath, will remain a uniquely terrible episode in history. What took place then reminds us even so of the illusory assumption that democracy will always be a favored choice of a population torn apart by war, facing enormous privations and burning with resentment at national humiliation through perceived foreign interference.’

    Really?

    Wars (constant, illegal wars of aggression)
    Privations (deliberate enormous privation for those not privileged, Brexit effects still to come)
    Humiliation (the world is laughing at the U.K., the ‘elite’ are laughing at you)
    Foreign Interference

    The second article raises the possibility that even concerns for the impending climate effects could be twisted into a ‘lifeboat’ mentality treating those who ‘don’t belong’ as less than human and expendable.

    We view Hitler through the prism of anti NAZI propaganda as an evil buffoon.
    Certainly evil but maybe he was actually particularly adept at manipulating the worst of human nature.

    We have no shortage of apparent buffoons. I just hope that none actually have the skills to light this particular destructive bonfire.

    Farage is very very dangerous, he might become PM if there is an election. If he isn’t PM then I agree that he will certainly be the power behind whoever does. Maybe Farage has the skills and funding to do this, if he doesn’t there’s a queue in line behind him ready to have a go at lighting this bonfire.

    • Millsy says:

      Never mind Farage being the ”power behind” – it’s the shadowy figures who are pulling Farage’s strings that we really need to fear !

      • Bob Lamont says:

        Not just Farage (and indeed his rich chums), the rise of populism across Europe amid similar fake news is no coincidence. The UK version on Brexit has been running for the last decade in Mail/Sun/Express headlines, that so many swallowed it and are impervious to addressing fact is the true power of propaganda, Leave4eu are building on firm foundations.
        Europe’s Arab Spring perhaps?

  15. Macart says:

    Y’know it’s quite the irony really.

    Watching the news feeds this morning and perusing the pithy pitches of the prospective candidates in the aftermath of May’s exit. Quite the….ummm… sight.

    Scotland’s parliament has been compared to a parish council,(‘pretendy’ to some). Our country described (by the hard of thinking) as a region and our politics derided generally by those and such as those (can’t really call them the ‘great and the good’ for obvious reasons).

    So, yeah… The contenders, the political gyrations of their dishonourable opposition and the state of Westminster politics. (whistles nonchalantly)

    • Brewdog ‘interviewed’ Douglas Ross the Linesman this morning.
      The only decision that this wee freeloader has mad since getting on the Blue Tory Gravy Train two years ago was to flag some hapless wee forward off side.
      Nicola Sturgeon wisnae elected as FM and the EssEnnPee are really bad…What a small minded wee aside.
      The SANP are doing everything possible to ensure that the UK does not fall out of Europe on No Deal terms, as it would be disastrous for Scotland, as well as the UK.
      But I don’t expect this wee Blue Tory numbnut to get that.

      This idiot tried to peddle the notion that a new PM, elected by 120,000 Blue Rinse Tories, would go back to Brussels and threaten them with a No Deal, and a ‘New Commission’ would crumble and replace the Backstop with a fanciful Brady Amendment electronic whizz bang at the Irish Border which doesn’t exist, and which has been rejected by the EU27.
      Brewer couldn’t even be bothered laughing in this empty headed Blue Tory Placemat’s face.

      An hour eqarlier, Spreadsheet Phil said it how it is on Marr.
      No Deal would be a catastrophe for the UK, including Scotland, yet this wee Linesman spouts zombie nonsense on Brewdog.
      Who the fuck voted for this part timer up in Moray?
      He clearly is completely out of his depth.
      Johnson will be crowned, but, Stephen Barclay or Ol’ Phil H may come up the inside straight in the final furlong and beat the Bo Selecta at the post.

      There is no democracy now.

      • Check out the typos.
        I am host with the most with Canadian ‘insurgents’ at the moment. Later.

      • Macart says:

        I’d say there’s only one route of travel for the chair of PM and politics UK at this point. And it’s not one which draws gasps of admiration from the political world in general. Laughing stock. Pariah. You pays your money kinda thing.

        Remember when Trump addressed the UN and the assembly laughed at him? That. Only whilst the world laughs or shakes its head wonderingly at the idiocy that is politics on these islands, I guarantee you that the people living here won’t be laughing.

        As for democracy? ‘Democracy is what they say it is’ (to misquote a famous movie). Except it’s not and this isn’t a movie. When you use democracy against itself and attempt to justify your wins based on fibbery with either evasion, yet more fibbery, or the tired old trope of ‘that’s politics’?

        You’re storing up a bad day coming.

  16. MacMina MacAllan says:

    Excellent summary and analysis of May’s belated demise, Paul.
    I don’t feel the least twinge of sympathy for all the reasons given.

    But what can we expect as the next PM? It looks like it will be some extreme right candidate that will be determined to outBrexit Farage.
    The amazingly rapid and successful rise of the rebranded Farage is of some concern. The Brexit ‘party’ is a worrying development. It is registered as a company, The Brexit Party Ltd, with Companies House. It has two directors namely Nigel Farage and his rich entrepreneurial friend Richard Tice. (Tice who founded Leave Means Leave and co-founded Leave.EU.) There is also a registered company secretary and the company has five shares of £1 each. It is not known how many of these shares are held by Farage but it is obvious he is running the party/company. I believe that legally the ‘party’ has no members and those who paid over their £25 to join are only recognised as ‘supporters’.

    But perhaps the dark cloud has a silver lining. Farage is a staunch English Nationalist with his pint in hand photo opportunities and his obsession that all England’s problems are caused by foreigners. Perhaps the rise of English nationalism with its arrogant sense of superiority will play into our hands. What will happen when the genetically selected inherited rich public school Oxbridge elite take over the extreme right? They will want to withdraw from the world and keep out others who may contaminate their superior culture and dilute their pure English bloodstock (royalty exempt of course). There could be a move to keep Jocks out. No more Scottish MPs in the ‘English’ parliament at Westminster? Then a customs border? Inde by the back door?

  17. Macart says:

    Last night went pretty much as expected then. Though both Labour and the Conservatives (who were sending messages to Nicola Sturgeon apparently) didn’t get the reply they were hoping for.

    The EU electoral map today in Scotland… looks just as it did in 2016. Spooky, but true.

    HERE

    Politics elsewhere on these islands may be doing a swirly roond the lavvy, but that lifeboat is still there for those who might want to use it. 😎

    • Welsh Sion says:

      I wouldn’t want you to join the Scotland v EnglandandWales brigade, Macart, and I acknowledge, sadly that the Farago ‘Party’ came top of the poll in seats and votes in my home country. (But not in all councils – mine recorded 50%+ vote for Plaid Cymru, for example). Plus, the confusion continues in that a majority voted for Pro-Remain Parties, despite the Farago Party’s ‘triumph.’

      Whatevers. An amazing 22.4% (up 7.1%) of the vote this time and defeating Labour in a national poll for the first time ever, a healthy number of 2nd places, an increasing number of AUOB rallies planned, Adam has it right that things are looking good west of the Dyke. Farago’s ‘Party’ are a single-issue group who can not deliver Brexit (of any sort which will keep their red meat eaters happy). Roll on the next National Assembly (soon to be Parliament) elections – with the possibility of 16 year olds being granted the vote, too.

      Tros Gymru / For Scotland.

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