29 June 2017
Post-Election Diary of a Corbynista
by Don Urquhart
At just after 10 pm the exit poll summary said “HUNG PARLIAMENT”, and so it was to remain until this morning when we are just waiting for Kensington and Chelsea. Piers Morgan was right to point out that the Tories had more of the popular vote and won more seats than Labour but Theresa May’s credibility (what is left of it) died at the announcement of the exit poll result. The drama continues as Theresa May visits the Queen to tell Her Majesty that she has things wrapped up nicely with the DUP.
Theresa May is toast. I think it was Matthew Parris on Newsnight who suggested she announce her intention to step down later in the year. He is clutching at straws. If it were done it were best done quickly, to misquote Macbeth. The only way to resolve the chaos is for her to resign, for the Tories to elect a new leader and for that new leader to sell him or herself across the political spectrum.
Peston asked the Irish Foreign Minister whether the British government could act as guarantors of the peace process while in hock to the DUP. If any room ever housed an elephant….
The Magic Money Tree will raise its head with demands from all sides to know how much the DUP is being paid to prop the Tories up. It is noteworthy that Damian Green has been appointed as Deputy Prime Minister in all but name. This will enable Theresa to hide from PMQ’s and also to resign soon leaving safe pair of hands Damian as interim PM while Boris and the rest scrap for the top job before calling another election.
The wall of sound from the Tories tells us everything is on course; Theresa May is being cheered to the echo, the DUP deal is quite normal. IDS was on this morning saying the concessions are not really concessions, they are what was going to happen anyway. The end of austerity? He, IDS, had resigned over Osborne’s direction of travel. It’s all very feeble, and still no word from Major or Blair on how they feel about the Good Friday agreement being torpedoed. Michel Barnier requests some action from a negotiating team that is accountable and reliable. He should not hold his breath!
Major spoke up. He is clearly worried about the effect of the Tory/DUP deal on the peace process. We are still looking for a sitting Tory MP with a spine. The problem we all have is that there is no natural successor to Theresa May. All of the big beasts are either too tarnished or too old. Are they really saying that they have recognised that austerity has run its course? They will clearly say and do anything to stay in power.
Seeing her do a Mexican wave with her new bestie Macron was quite nauseating.
Philip Hammond makes the annual Mansion House speech tonight. It’s the event at which Gordon Brown famously promised light touch regulation just before the crash. Judging by the trailers, the Chancellor will distance himself from hard Brexit suggesting a more flexible approach in the negotiations. Is this a grab for the leadership? If so it is ill advised. The cabinet table is a knot of vipers.
Grenfell Tower dominates the news. Theresa May visited but did not meet residents. Corbyn is filmed clearly empathising and listening. Theresa May seems doomed whatever she does. No deal has been announced with the DUP but the Queens Speech is scheduled for June 21st.
On This Week on Thursday night Michael Portillo characterised Grenfell Tower demonstrators as the usual suspects. This was echoed by Kenneth Clarke on Any Questions last night. It is looking like Tottenham a couple of years ago and the poll tax riots of the late 1980s. The poor people are not being listened to and have clear evidence that lives were put in danger by the fat cats of Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council. They do not trust Theresa May and those around her to pursue the perpetrators.
Theresa May had some of the Grenfell Tower residents to tea at Number 10. As a result very little has changed. There will be a public inquiry so the long grass beckons. The head honcho of Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council claims to be distraught, although on TV the other day he looked like just another shifty politician with sloping shoulders.
The Brexit negotiations begin today. IDS went on TV to caution backbenchers to stop plotting against Theresa May, thereby confirming that Tory backbenchers are plotting against Theresa May. Phil Hammond was all over the TV reporting that the election campaign had been mishandled. He would have eviscerated Labour’s financial proposals. Last night’s dramatisation of the 2016 Tory leadership contest depicted the whole process as bloody and sordid. Gove came out of it particularly badly.
I don’t understand the reports of the first day of negotiations. Laura Kuenssberg has it that David Davis conceded that the divorce settlement would happen before discussions of a trade deal could proceed. David Davis repeated the formula that nothing is settled until everything is settled. Perhaps the key is in the body language of the two men. Barnier seems very sure of his position and calm. Davis seems shifty and uncertain.
Theresa May has trailed the Queen’s Speech with a statement that the government would show humility and resolve. It is infinitely depressing to be led by a lame duck. You just know that her backbenchers will unseat her at the first opportunity. Effectively there is no government just a passive jelly.
I have to believe that Theresa May’s premiership is in its death throes, despite the schmoozy photo she achieved with Merkel yesterday. “German Chancellor pats British PM on the back”. Shades of 1938.
Theresa May went to Brussels to confer with EU leaders. It was strange that she would make an offer regarding the rights of EU citizens in the UK. After all there is a negotiating team. Why not let them get on with the job? So it looks like grandstanding and the EU leaders, Tusk and Merkel treated it as such. They were polite but probably bemused. Whatever Kuenssberg says this was a dismal contribution to the negotiation process. Meanwhile we wait with baited breath for some progress on the Grenfell public inquiry.
Fifty Labour MP’s have written to The Guardian supporting the proposal that the UK should remain in the European Union. Hopefully this is not meant as an attempt to hijack the debate within the PLP.
It is inflammatory language to say that the Grenfell Tower victims were “murdered”. Then who is the murderer? I don’t think John McDonnell means to say that anyone has set out to kill the people in the tower. I think what he means is that decisions were taken for cost cutting reasons in the face of warnings from experts that people were being put at risk.
The parties in Northern Ireland have until Thursday 29th to conclude a Stormont Agreement. I am sure this is already done and dusted or the Tory/DUP deal would be dead in the water. Reports vary on the size of the bribe. It is somewhere between £1 and £2 billion. I am reckoning that on average each family is subsidising the shabby deal to the tune of £50 to £100. Missed that in the manifesto.
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