NB – This essay is an entirely personal view. It does not constitute an endorsement or condemnation by the Libertarian Alliance of any candidate in the present General Election. SIG
Theresa May: The Mummy Dissolves?
by Sean Gabb
7th June 2017
Now it is a generation since his more orthodox followers were pointing nuclear missiles at us, it is safe to admit that Karl Marx was rather a good writer. His journalism, in particular, is always worth a read. Here he is, on the fate of the Chinese Empire as it emerged from the first Opium War:
Complete isolation was the prime condition of the preservation of Old China. That isolation having come to a violent end by the medium of England, dissolution must follow as surely as that of any mummy carefully preserved in a hermetically sealed coffin, whenever it is brought into contact with the open air.
I think of these words as often as I look at the pictures of Theresa May. Because Jeremy Corbyn is hated by virtually the whole of the political and media class, she was cried up, through her first ten months in office, as some kind of political giant. She was urged into calling the present election, because everyone important thought it would be a disaster for Mr Corbyn. She obviously believed what she was told, and spent the first week of the campaign smirking at the prospect of a three-figure majority. Then, even the combined BBC and media oligarchs were unable to prevent us from taking a good look at the woman, and concluding that she was probably unfit to run a jumble sale.
I doubt she will lose. Bad as she is, she is our best chance of leaving the European Union, and that will surely be enough to get the Conservatives another majority. The prospect of a Labour-Scottish Nationalist coalition may also bring out the votes in England. But, unless the opinion polls are more unreliable than usual, she will emerge from this election personally humiliated.
This being said, I will not pass to making predictions. I have none to make. Nor will I presume to ask people to vote other than as they have already decided. I will instead say what I want to happen once tomorrow’s votes have been counted.
I want the Conservatives to go to bed on Friday morning with a majority of twenty – most of these few extra seats gained on balance in Scotland and from the Liberal Democrats. Twenty will be enough to get us out of the European Union. After all, the Labour Party is just as committed to withdrawal, and no one can call a small majority insufficient mandate for taking us out. Keep the woman in Downing Street for the simple purpose of making a deal with the Europeans. Otherwise, keep laughing at her, and waiting for the moment when we can find a better class of politician than her and the ludicrous non-entities she has appointed to her Cabinet.
Her evident lack of political skills aside, what has soured my view of her is her response to the terrorist attacks of the past few weeks. The plain way to prevent a re-enactment of the London Bridge Massacre is to change the law, so that persons over the age of thirty-five, and of good character, and after an appropriate course of training, should be allowed to carry firearms for their own defence and for the defence of the wider public. The Police cannot be expected to be on hand every time someone puts his foot on an accelerator pedal, or pulls out a carving knife. An armed and vigilant public would have stopped the Massacre in as long as it takes to release the safety catch on a hand gun. That would also tend to deter most suicide bombings and shootings. One of the reasons why these attacks are so rare in countries like America and Israel is that the people have guns, and know how to use them. One of the reasons they happen here is that we are as disarmed and generally powerless as chickens in a coop.
The Theresa May approach, however, is to call for the Internet to be censored. The morning after the London Bridge Massacre, she said:
We cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed – yet that is precisely what the internet, and the big companies that provide internet-based services provide…. We need to work with allied democratic governments to reach international agreements to regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremist and terrorism planning.
I do not believe that any amount of censorship will stop videos from being posted and messages from being exchanged. The world is a big place, and there are too many other governments with more commitment to free speech – or to the relevant objects – for what we are told is the purpose of new censorship laws. I believe the real purpose of the laws will be to harass the nationalist right in this country, and to enable a new attempt to ban pornography. I will not deny that the Prime Minister is troubled when people blow themselves up close by us, or set about us with lesser weapons of destruction. What really keeps her sweating in bed, though, is the thought that millions of people are masturbating in front of their computers. That has been one of the continuing obsessions of her time in politics.
So we are in the unfortunate position of needing a Conservative Government – but we cannot afford a Conservative Government with anything amounting to a blank cheque. I repeat my wish for a majority of twenty.
Another reason for wanting a small majority is that I have been forced to change my mind on Mr Corbyn. For the avoidance of doubt, I have not forgotten his collaboration with Sinn Fein/IRA. But that was then. This is now. We need someone on the opposition benches who will keep demanding judicial oversight of the security services, and some regard for due process of law where normal policing is concerned. We cannot afford some Blairite clone, pledging cross-party support for a bigger police state than we now have.
Another reason for wanting a respectable Labour performance is that it would be a big two-finger salute to the establishment media. We have been told the most awful things about Mr Corbyn – not all of them true, and not all of them relevant. It was funny when his legions of Trotskyites elected and then re-elected him to the Labour leadership. It would be funnier still if millions of ordinary people ignored the flood of denunciation, and gave him reason for staying on as leader of his party. Again, for the avoidance of doubt, I would not wish him to be the Prime Minister. That would not at all be funny. But a respectable performance tomorrow would be useful to tell the political and media class how little it is trusted or obeyed.
I will vote Conservative tomorrow. I am even a member of the Conservative Party, and I have agreed to go knocking up in the evening. But I would not have anyone think I was doing more than to choose the lesser of evils.
If I have persuaded anyone to vote other than as already decided, this was not my intention. My sole intention has been to explain the limited support I am giving to a woman I profoundly despise.
I’m afraid I don’t share your optimism about the Conservative Party or the idea that a change in personnel will make any significant difference. What is needed is for the two main parties to fall. Ideally this should happen to both at the same time, but I can’t see that coming to pass. The next best thing, then, is one or the other to fall, followed by the other, and the best prospect for that at the moment is for Labour to die on its feet first, as they have betrayed their base. However, Corbyn, as I have believed all along, has been underestimated and it now looks like he will put Labour in a salvageable position, maybe with around 175 seats. Down, certainly, but not out.
That is a profoundly depressing prospect. And if what you want were to happen, a Tory majority of only 20 – with the implication that Labour has performed healthily – to my mind that would be a disaster because it would represent an affirmation by the electorate of the two dominant political parties in England. I also can’t join in with your optimism that Corbyn would guard civil liberties and what not.
I enjoyed the reference to Marx. Yes, he was a very good journalistic writer, less good as a philosophical writer, which unfortunately has hindered proper understanding of his ideas: a case in point being that you think the Soviet Union represented orthodox Marxism.
My copy of his collected New York dispatches (Penguin Classics edition) is one of the most well-thumbed books I own, to the extent that the copy I now have is my third or fourth, the others having fallen to bits – with the result that I have also lost forever my pencilled scribblings in them. He makes some incisive comments on the U.S. Civil War especially: I think the pieces on America are my favourites.
But I wonder if you have read his piece on the 1852 general election in Britain, in which we find the following rather interesting – and I think, highly-pertinent – observation:
[quote]”Up to 1846 the Tories passed as the guardians of the traditions of Old England. They were suspected of admiring in the British Constitution the eighth wonder of the world; to be laudatores temporis acti, enthusiasts for the throne, the High Church, the privileges of the British subject. The fatal year, 1846, with its repeal of the Corn Laws, and the shout of distress which this repeal forced from the Tories, proved that they were enthusiasts for nothing but the rent of land, and at the same time disclosed the secret of their attachment to the political and religious institutions of Old England.”[unquote]
I am in the middle of some interesting corresponding with my local (Tory) MP about ‘political’ matters, and I think I might slip that in next time I write to him.
For the avoidance of doubt: I intend tomorrow (today?) to continue my thirty years of loyalty to Nobody. Nobody is worth voting for; so I’ll vote for him.
But I do broadly agree with Sean on what would be the least bad result, in the short term. The Tories still just in power, but never more than a couple of by-elections away from disaster. And May personally discredited.
That said, I cannot agree that there is such a thing as “a better class of politician.” There may be a (very) few half decent individuals in politics – Steve Baker perhaps, maybe David Davis, perhaps even Graham Stringer or Kate Hoey on the “other side.” But politicians, as a class, are bad guys and gals.
Oh, and Sean’s reference to “knocking up” is hilarious.
Tom Rogers, also, seems to be thinking along the right lines; but his view is longer sighted than Sean’s. The main parties have failed, yes. And to allow them to re-flourish is a negative. But that’s because they’re part of a failed system. It’s the system that has to be replaced, and the demise of the parties and their policies will follow.
I must admit that the “knocking up” double entendre didn’t click when I read it.
In a few hours, I will be spoiling my ballot paper. I do this mainly because, having had experience as an election agent myself (many years ago), I know that all spoilt ballots have to be shown to candidates by the Returning Officer. Something to bear in mind.
I too will spoil my ballot paper today. I had intended to vote UKIP, but there is no candidate in my constituency. I agree that the present system has failed, and needs to be replaced. Getting rid of the House of Lords, secret ballots in the House of Commons and binding referendums on important issues would be a start.
If the Conservatives lose, I can’t say they didn’t deserve it. This is a complete charade of an election. It was totally unnecessary and I am baffled by anyone who believes otherwise.
What could the “saboteurs” actually do? They could whinge on Newsnight, they could moan on Question Time, they could attack the Prime Minister in the Commons. But what could they do to thwart Brexit, a process irrevocably commenced by the triggering of Article 50 according to the Miller court case, which was almost certainly wrongly decided if we are now to accept that a hypothetical Tim Farron government could cancel the whole thing?
They are in Opposition, not in Government, however small its majority. They will not be at the negotiating table. They would have been forced to accept the deal negotiated, or reject it and leave the EU with no deal (a prospect they characterise as national suicide).
This is not a Brexit election. And not simply because Labour have managed to get wages, social care, tuition fees, and poverty high on the agenda; it wasn’t in the first place about Theresa May seeking a “mandate” to “affirm” a decision she had already taken, which nobody in Parliament had the authority to then erase.
I have been pondering this for a while and can only conclude, as a semi-regular reader of the blogs of Dr Richard North and his son, Pete, who were reporting on murmurs of a Ukraine-style associate membership of the EU by Whitehall just before the snap election was called, that May now believes that a deal + ‘full’ Brexit cannot be negotiated by 2019, and hoped to neutralise her hardline euroskeptic backbenchers in order to aim for a softer deal.
This will take longer than the two-year period, but without an early election, she would have been running dangerously close to the planned 2020 election, at which point she could have been punished in the ballot box for backsliding. By pushing the next General Election back to 2022, this gives her some wiggle room to get some kind of ‘soft’ Brexit, absorb the anger, and restore some calm before the next time we go to the polls.
If this suspicion of mine is indeed accurate, it is bewildering that the Government could be so incompetent as to take seven months to come up with a ‘hard’ Brexit strategy, only to subsequently realise it is impossible, and then lump for a bespoke relationship with the EU when the EEA/Efta option the Norths and Christopher Booker of The Daily Telegraph have always advocated (see Flexcit) is ready to pick off the shelf (despite its many imperfections) without having the guts to be honest about it, I reserve a caustic contempt for them.
If I am wrong and the Government presses ahead with a ‘clean’ Brexit, I resent them for wasting millions of pounds, airtime, and non-stop news coverage for an exercise in the paragon of pointlessness.
I have never been more uninspired, disengaged, and even depressed by an election, with the candidates for the top job so ineffably undesirable and useless. The only highlights for me are the (slim) likelihood that Nick Clegg will lose Sheffield Hallam and a little more distant possibility that Tim Farron will lose Westmorland and Lonsdale. I would like to see the ‘liberal fightback’ crushed. The Lib Dems’ plan to unseat the Labour Brexiter Kate Hoey from Vauxhall (78% Remain) appears to be dying an ignominious death, with the party behind even the Conservatives in the constituency polls.
The only action I can take in good conscience today is to spoil my ballot.
Corbyn must not be elected.
May is scum and 40-50 seats would be enough to secure Brexit and still humiliate the bitch.
To paraphrase a line from 1999’s “The Mummy” film : “Brexit is only the beginning”.
The Dindustan Express must be halted and –as Sean says –full firearms rights restored to the British people.
I doubt May is worried about Internet wanking. More like her globalist friends and masters have told her to agitate for Internet control and censorship and–as Head Girl and Milk Monitor–she is happy to comply.
I fail to see how five years of Corbyn would, in the long term, be worse than five years of May. Neither of them is remotely libertarian, so deciding between the two must, at best, be on which of the two is closest to libertarian ideals (however faintly), or on other, perhaps pragmatic grounds. We must break out of this self-perpetuating, vicious trap of thinking of “the future” as extending no further than the next electoral cycle.
My main desire is for the Conservative Party to become actually conservative again, or collapse in order to make way for a new patriotic force. I was in agreement with Peter Hitchens’s wish, around the time of Corbyn’s re-election, that Labour’s internecine strife were instead being suffered by the blue-rosette party.
Continuing to vote Conservative will do the very opposite of such an aim, therefore I cannot countenance it. I might have been able to under the extremely exceptional, unrepeatable circumstance of a ‘Brexit election’, but that is not what this is, so I have spoilt my ballot with a four-letter Anglo-Saxon expletive not aired on TV before the watershed.
Of course, May is not a socialist, or at least not as much as one as Corbyn, which is to her credit; Jezza, on the other hand, is admirably non-interventionist in foreign affairs, the wider importance of which libertarians have always understood very well.
I would also be prepared to endure five years of the red flag if it were enough to jolt the Conservatives to the Right in response. The one welcome aspect of this sham election is the collapse of moderate and small parties as the main two mould their very different identities as far as Brexit goes. How this pans out hereafter will be interesting to see. I would like to know how May would reorient her party if Corbyn resigns and is replaced by a Blairite, who would probably be to the Right of her 2017 manifesto.
I know one of the Officers of the Libertarian Alliance, a non-voter, would rather Corbyn be Prime Minister because he is more honest. May is a charisma-free zone utterly devoid of any political philosophy, posing as whatever is convenient to win votes, which is something the careerist Conservatives are very good at. Craig Murray has also written that he would be surprised if any senior diplomat would trust May more than Corbyn in the Brexit negotiations, which is quite something.
I only wish to could be there, as the Returning Officer shows my spoilt ballot to the candidates this evening:
“YOU ARE ALL TRAITORS.”
I voted for UKIP. I want Brexit to complete swiftly. I want government to be as small as possible. I want any immigrants who arrived here since 1947 and their descendents to leave the UK unless they are here at the express request of a native Briton, for example for marriage. I want all respectable people to be able to own guns, for abortion to be criminalised save for health reasons, for marriage to be only between men and women, for speed limits to be advisory, for governments never to spend more money than they raise, for tax to be low, for the TV licence fee to be abolished and the BBC sold off – the proceeds going to former licence holders, and for all race relations and equality and diversity laws to be repealed. I want UK armed forces to withdraw from foreign engagements and instead to defend British people, moving towards being a militia. I want most leading politicians to be put on trial for high treason. UKIP is the nearest match on these policies, but a long, long, way off!
I despise Corbyn and Labour, Farron and the Liberal Democrats, and Lucas and the Green Party (which is actually red). I despise May and the Conservative Party almost as much. In 2015 locally the Conservatives gained c.23,000 votes, UKIP c.14,000, Labour c.6,000 and the LibDems and Greens trivial numbers, so my UKIP vote poses no danger of a fanatical Leftist party gaining power here.