09 May 2019
Behead Both Parties?
What will it change?
By John Watson
“It’s been nicked from The Lord of the Rings,” I said.
“What?” she asked.
“The idea that if you get rid of the top villain all his armies will collapse too. Night King or Dark Lord, there may not be an actual ring involved but the point is just the same”.
“No, it’s just the standard method of dealing with wights and things,” came the reply with the slightly patronising assurance of the younger generation. “How else could the good people win, when each time one of their men is killed he ends up in the wight’s army? No chance against odds like that, even if you are equipped with a nice piece of valerian steel. If the author wanted men to prevail, the death of the Night King had to seal the matter.”
We were of course discussing last week’s episode of Game of Thrones and the slaying of the Night King, and by implication his cohorts, by Arya Stark. His end meant an end to all his wights. Very neat, very tidy.
In real life things are rather different. Take out the leader and rather than resolving everything you can find you have unleashed horrors that his or her, albeit malign, presence held in check. Get rid of the Shah, you are left with the Mullahs. Get rid of Saddam, unleash ISIS. Get rid of Gaddafi – it looked such an easy solution at the time but the civil war which resulted is in full flow and has increased the flow of refugees across the Med. The murder of Caesar led to the bloodshed of Philippi and Actium.
So is that the truth of it? Is Belloc’s axiom “always keep a hold of nurse for fear of meeting something worse” as applicable in politics as it was in the Edwardian schoolroom? Sometimes, perhaps, but not always and that is why it is difficult to predict the fallout which would follow the political demise of Mrs May and Mr Corbyn.
Like Beowulf and Grendel, the leaders of the two parties are engaged in a life and death struggle as they wrestle each other through the political morass of Brexit. Struggling for the upper hand, both are prisoners of their own positions. Mrs May cannot agree to a permanent customs union because her own deal with the EU makes it clear that that is unnecessary and she believes that the negotiation of our own trade agreements is central to Brexit. Mr Corbyn is now locked into a position where he has to insist on a permanent customs union because he took that line to discomfort Mrs May and is now stuck with it. Neither supports the second referendum which is surely the only way of reaching a decision.
So knock off their heads and what will happen? Let’s take Mrs May first. Suppose she simply resigned or walked out. Where would we be? With a Conservative leadership election of course, but who would win it? Raab, Hunt, Gove, Johnson are all out there staking their claims but the real question is not so much “who?” as “what would a new leader do?” He or she (I suppose it could be Liz Truss) will still be faced with the same dilemma and a party set against long-term membership of the customs union. Not much changes there then except a little fratricide which may feed a public addiction once Game of Thrones ends later this month. Not much useful change anyway.
Then what if the body is Jeremy’s, struck down from behind with an enormous pumpkin while working on his allotment? That could have a beneficial effect in that, the curtain having been rent, the public would see the people behind him more clearly. A pleasant sight? Almost certainly not. We have all seen the leading Tories on our screens as they seek to govern but it might be salutary to see some of those who lurk behind Corbyn’s skirts forced into the sunlight. Still, it is unlikely to make a difference to the Brexit problem as Labour are too far down the “anything the government offers we will reject, tee hee” line. That may cost them dear if we end up with a customs union and the electorate realises why they supported it. Still, even treason doesn’t involve the headsman these days.
So it remains locked unless the political landscape changes and the pundits will be looking carefully at the results of the EU elections to try and draw some conclusions. Things are complicated here as the form of proportional representation used is not very intuitive and that may lead to losers claiming distortion. Nevertheless, it could prove a launching pad if Chuka and his friends of Change UK decided to use it to build a political presence. This is your chance, ladies and gentlemen. You may never have another.