Has a British politician ever been more exposed than Theresa May?
It’s been a while since I felt this hopeful about British politics.
Yesterday’s result was excellent, and although re-delivering a Conservative government, has punched the wind right out of their sails and sets Labour up to truly contest for power whenever the next vote comes. This is Labour’s 1992 moment.
Don’t you have anything to say about the general election? I’m sure my adoring readers are all asking themselves. Well, honestly I don’t have much. Soon after it was called, I laid down some of the reasons I absolutely despair at the prospect of five years of Prime Minister May, but since then events have moved too quickly for me to ever get ahead of them and feel like I have something incisive to post.
I made earnest starts on quite a few posts. The Undemocratic Election, The Theresa May Party and 2016/17 – Zombie Parties all sit in my drafts folder, glass half full, but Theresa’s absolute train wreck of a campaign has called into question the basic premises of all three; that she’ll win a thumping majority without clear competency, policies or vision, that disassociating herself from the Conservative brand and having MPs run as “Theresa May’s candidate” was a wise electoral strategy, or that Labour under Corbyn is in terminal decline, and taking the political opportunities of the left with it.
Add to that not one but two devastating terrorist incidents, and what remains to be said about this election? What remains to be felt?
Last Wednesday May 3rd, Theresa May stood on the steps of Downing Street and made a speech in reaction to an article printed over the previous weekend in German national newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). The first minutes of the speech are notable for May’s gross overreaction, xenophobic rhetoric and myriad inaccuracies. I write this just, ‘for the record’.
There is a theory that women are only able to assume positions of power if they’re hyper masculine. Where a man, providing he had charisma, the right connections and experience etc… to climb to a leadership role could project some degree of empathy, self-deference or other socially ‘feminine’ traits, a woman must be ‘more masculine than the men’, to compensate for her (assumed) innate feminine weakness and lack of authority.
John Bercow, champion of the commons! Citing opposition to racism and sexism, support for equality before the law and an independent judiciary he announced that he would not invite Trump to address Parliament if the proposed state visit does indeed take place.
Predictably, headlines began to pour in slamming the short speech as outrageous, an attempt to silence the president, a breach of speaker impartiality, unjustifiable and hypocritical.
I studied politics at university from 2010 to 2013. It was a period of global economic recession and non-recovery. It was a time in which Obama reigned in the worst excesses of Bush and Blair’s War on Terror but at a fundamental level failed to end (an unsympathetic commentator would say actively continued) the very same clandestine, extrajudicial foreign policy methods. Neoliberal austerity punished the people for the disastrous consequences of under-regulated, free-as-a-bird capitalism.
The dominant ideology of politicians, policymakers and their institutions – domestic and international – was liberalism. The cutting edge of international relations (and all interesting political philosophy) was all critical theory and post-structuralism. Pushing back against the narrative of the ’90s that the West had won. Highlighting the institutional violence and injustice in the assumptions and policies of universalist liberalism.