It’s difficult if not impossible when you have reached my age to see how much a mess of Brexit the Government are making without thinking how the bloody hell have we ended up being Governed by such uncharismatic and incompetent people.
I’ve lived – and am concentrating on not being dead for some time yet – through fourteen Prime Ministers though it should be explained that from Clement Attlee in 1949 until Harold Wilson I was unable to vote.
But just look at who was the United Kingdoms first minister during that period, Clement Attlee – who was unquestionably the most radical and reforming PM ever – Winston Churchill – voted the greatest Briton – Anthony Eden, Harold McMillan and Alec Douglas-Home.
Whether you liked or agreed with them they at the very least were political leaders not only of intelligence but also with a “one nation” approach working for the nation based on a sense of duty.
As Prime Minister they didn’t keep appearing in the media worrying about how they were getting on or about what the electorate thought because as far as they and in reality the electorate were concerned a decision in a General Election had been taken and everyone just expected them to deliver.
Representative democracy in action?
My first vote in a General Election coincided with the election for the first time of Harold Wilson followed by Edward Heath, Wilson again, James Callaghan, Margaret Thatcher,John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Theresa May.
And yes I did vote in all of them and didn’t always see the result I would have liked.
So how did we end up in the present mess?
It seems to me that the decline started with the latter years of the Margaret Thatcher ‘reign’ – I use the word ‘reign’ intentionally because she clearly felt that she could ignore not only those around her but also the public mood causing her to miss the signs of what eventually saw her deposed by her own party.
Perhaps if she been more approachable she would have seen the signs and left earlier rather than in the ignominious way she did.
However one accusation that couldn’t be levelled at Margaret Thatcher and later on Tony Blair is that they lacked presence – or what is called – charisma
I met both – Margaret Thatcher when she visited HMS Manchester in 1987 and Tony Blair in 1998. One I was impressed by the other was too smarmy by half.
Some loved them some disliked them but at least they were elected by the people in a General Election which was and is definitely preferable to the way that John Major, Gordon Brown and Theresa May first became Prime Minister – elected solely by their friends in the House of Commons.
Of course John Major went on to win a General Election – against the odds – Gordon Brown lost his General Election – as forecast, and Theresa May – well she remains Prime Minister despite losing her majority in the Commons.
As history tells us Tony Blair unlike Margaret Thatcher had the where-for-all to listen to what was happening within the Labour Party and recognising that his time was rapidly running out went before he was pushed.
It was unthinkable that either Margaret Thatcher or Tony Blair would have even thought for one moment of going to the country to give them a fresh mandate to silence the critics within there own parties.
The thing about all Prime Ministers is that it only takes one decision to move from being in control to being seen as a liability.
The huge increase in oil prices and its impact on the economy did for Heath and Callaghan in 70’s, Thatchers undoing was her absolute commitment to introducing what is known as the ‘Poll Tax’ and who can forget Black Wednesday?
Blair went because of his “we are with you whatever” commitment to the USA desire to invade Iraq and Brown was felled by the world wide financial crash – for which even the main accuser that it was his fault is now admitting that it wasn’t.
To late but that’s politics for you
Or at least that is the politics that Thatcher and her successors have adopted – politics of deceit and cover up driven by personal ambition and greed which has left us with self serving politicians who lack both charisma or gravitas.
Put another way we are led by those who think nothing of lying to get what they want
Which of course brings us to David Cameron who came to lead the Conservative Party based mainly on being a poor mans Tony Blair – but without being as street wise – and then became Prime Minister of a Coalition Government.
Media friendly but politically light.
He clearly thought he was better and cleverer than he really was because once he gained a majority his way of dealing with opponents within his own Conservative party was to promise them a referendum on the UK membership of the European Union.
In a way it was understandable because had he won he would have at the very least silenced them for a period.
Perhaps that is why he decided that the question put in the referendum was a straight Yes or No and would be decided by a simple majority, or perhaps he was simply being incompetent and/or over confident
Whatever the reason he clearly thought he was going to win easily – after all most people in the UK know as little about the European Union as it now turns out most of the politicians know.
Of course the problem with the lack of knowledge was that politicians could and did say whatever they wanted – mostly unchallenged – which we now know was a combination of downright fabrications and lies.
What Cameron didn’t take into account was that for decades Prime Minister after Prime Minister told the people of the U.K. that the benefits of being in the EU was not worth the cost – added to which was the quite incredible rise in nationalistic racist rhetoric from those politicians who supported Leave.
After years of denegrating the European Union why did he think that by saying membership is great it would convince people that it was?
Which of course was seriously exploited by the racist xenophobes who led the Leave Campaign.
Fast forward to the EU referendum result and Cameron having lost immediately did a runner which left a vacancy at the top.
A vacancy that Theresa May took full advantage of as a result of what is known as the law of unintended consequences
Inexplicably she was the totally unprepared for a General Election – an election that she called – and an election she called out of arrogance, incompetence or perhaps both.
Her argument was that she wanted an increased majority to demonstrate to the EU negotiators that she and her team had the country behind them and that she and only she could provide the “Strong and Stable” Leadership the country need at this time of uncertainty.
Well after weeks of general election campaigning she got certainty that.
We have an uncertain Government in coalition with the DUP and a certainty that her hold on being Prime Minister is uncertain.
And who will be the next PM?
Will they whoever it may be decide that what we need is another General Election which is just what a fed up to the back teeth electorate needs and no doubt will look forward to…
Meanwhile Brexit and whatever direction that is heading is careering out of control.
How increasingly ironic the Brexiteers slogan “Take back control” sounds today.
It would be easier to control the flow of excrement from someone suffering chronic dysentery, and good grief did we hear a great amount of verbal excrement during the referendum campaign – it’s fair to say from both sides of the argument
Anyway the country has enough problems to be going on with – facing appalling inequality, increased racism, the NHS in crisis, increased homelessness, increased poverty and a reliance on food banks, terrorism, increasing crime – etc, etc
An economy in decline with rising inflation and the bottom falling out of the pound – back to dysentery I suppose.
Added to which we have lying politicians on all side of the House of Commons though it has to be said more on one side than the other and worse still we have an inept Prime Minister and Cabinet added to the mix.
Is there any wonder the European Union Countries and the rest of the world are looking on in amazement as we lurch from one crisis to another proving time and time again that the United Kingdom is not so much being governed more a case of…
Well what can we call it?
What we do know is that the current Brexit negotiations amount to nothing more than an Exercise in Futility.
No wonder people are disillusioned and furious.
How could they not be?
Why would they not be?
We need an election system that makes every vote count and prevents a future outcome in which the winner is the one who takes it all even if they don’t win a majority and one that ensures they govern for everyone.
Perhaps we need a commission to look at it and if so could it also look at scrapping the House of Lords.
But once any such commission reports what would our politicians do with it?
Put it to the people?
Perhaps in a General Election or maybe just maybe what we need is a simple majority referendum to decide?
Oh for – Friday – sakes