Friday, 2 June 2017
According To Plan?
Even the Conservatives' twice-failed "tens of thousands" target on immigration was abandoned yesterday, although hardly anyone noticed. Well, why would anyone notice that?
By not giving interviews in the final week of a General Election campaign, Theresa May makes it clear that she does not expect to be Prime Minister for very much longer, regardless of the result next Thursday.
It is obvious who is being lined up to succeed her, again without so much as a Leadership Election, since the Conservative Party no longer has them.
The Margaret Thatcher Tribute Act is automatically assumed to be the only credible candidate, and that is that.
If everything goes according to plan this year, then, simply as a matter of fact, the Conservative Party is never again going to be led by a man.
That it is led by a woman, whereas Labour never has been and probably never will be, is now one of that party's principal attack lines.
Well, it has to have something, I suppose.
During the weeks that it has banged on about Jeremy Corbyn and the IRA, its own poll lead over Corbyn's party has been cut by seven eighths, from 24 points to three.
For a generation, the British Establishment has told everyone to forget that there ever was a war in Northern Ireland, and it has consciously refused to tell those coming up that any such war had ever been fought.
As much as anything else, that is embarrassment. The British Establishment went home with its tail between its legs, and it ended up having to give Martin McGuinness what amounted to a state funeral.
His party is permanently in government in Northern Ireland, the government of which could not proceed without that party. No other party has that status.
(By the way, as we await the outcome of what would, not very long ago, have been the jaw-dropping Fine Gael Leadership Election, consider that if you really want to live in the Old Ireland, then it still exists, within the United Kingdom.)
But now, it turns out that almost everyone has indeed forgotten about the war in Northern Ireland, if they ever knew.
The only exceptions are serving and former members of the Armed Forces, within which a certain folklore about it continues to be passed down.
Hardly anyone in this country has ever been in what little Armed Forces there still are, and most of those would never vote Labour in a million years, no matter who was the Leader.
As a result, the military subculture is important within the Conservative Party. But that is not mainstream culture.
Any more than most people in Britain have ever heard of Hamas or Hezbollah, neither of which has ever attacked the United Kingdom, and at least one of which is currently in the front line against those who just have.
All of this is as hard for the Blairite Right to take as it is for the Conservatives.
It, too, assumes that the Likud hard line is the norm in Britain, when it simly is not.
It has invested more than anyone in the success of Tony Blair in Northern Ireland, with McGuinness even attending Jonathan Powell's wedding, and with the great god, Bill Clinton, speaking at McGuinness's funeral.
And it has a weird, beta male crush on the Armed Forces, a crush that again has no relationship to this country's cultral mainstream.
There is no reciprocation, whether in votes or in anything else. But that cannot be attributed to New Labour's failure to pay them properly, or to equip them adequately, or to care for them once they had come back.
After all, they carry on voting for another party whose record on those matters is at least as weak, and that is saying quite something.