In April, when Theresa May came out of the door of No. 10 to announce to the news media assembled in Downing Street that she was calling a snap general election, there was a general feeling of surprise and I am sure that I was not the only one with a feeling of discouragement. Surprise because she had vowed to complete the exit from the European Union and complete the full fixed five year term of the Parliament. Discouraged because she was behaving like every other opportunistic politician taking advantage of a perceived advantage in the opinion polls and the disarray of the opposition parties. Of course it needed an enhanced majority of the Commons to approve the move and it could easily have been blocked, but only thirteen MPs voted against bringing the Parliament to an end. That is what you get in a Parliamentary Democracy. In a Peoples Direct Democracy no political party would be able to gain a self-serving advantage by choosing the time of an election and the duration of the election campaign.
TM has sought to portray herself as a statesman above mere party considerations. None of the reasons she has offered to justify her decision has stood up to scrutiny. Last year we raised the question of honesty and integrity and stated it was too early to judge her and only time will tell. Well now we know. She cannot be trusted.
Her action was without doubt extremely irresponsible. After invoking Article 50 she claims that UKs exit from the EU is irreversible and it will happen. So the election is not about that, but is about strengthening her negotiating position with the European Commission. Except that every President of the various EU institutions insist ways can be found to reverse the process if the UK changes it mind. Her action was all about strengthening her position within the Conservative Parliamentary Party, but in the process she has put Brexit at risk. My first thought was of Zac Goldsmith who resigned his Richmond Park seat to honour a campaign pledge in the event that a third runway was approved for Heathrow Airport. The LibDems made the by-election about opposing Brexit. The voters decided their priority was staying in the EU. We now have Zombie LibDem politicians stalking the streets, canvassing for votes as they attempt to regain their lost seats.
Why should we worry? Corbyn’s Labour and the other progressive parties are framing the debate about austerity and the public services within the context of how the country is being governed. That is fair and it seems to be addressing peoples concerns. They are the issues that should have been the focus of the 2020 general election following independence from the EU. They are also collectively proposing a raft of dangerous social policies such as, decriminalising abortion and extending it to Northern Ireland, no-fault divorce, legalising cannabis, and other policies that further undermine the family and marriage. Well TM has not countered that progressive agenda even though she has emphasised her desire to work for the common good. She has continued with the slogans from annual conference – A Country that works for everyone – A Party that works for everyone – An Economy that works for everyone – as echoed in their Manifesto “Forward together : Our Plan for a stronger Britain and a prosperous future”. Right on, the message is about strong and stable leadership. The trouble is that the “Our” is about “My”. The Manifesto is bland and vague with her vision for Britain’s future. There is continual reference to “Theresa May’s Conservatives”. It reads like her keynote address to conference and mostly contains existing policies from the 2015 Manifesto, while ditching the Cameron/Osborne straightjacket promises. And a lot of it is built on claims that are just not true.
It all sounds familiar. To quote:- “Government can and should be a force for good. We do not believe in untrammelled free markets. We reject the cult of selfish individualism. We abhor social division, injustice, unfairness and inequality. We see rigid dogma and ideology not just as needless but dangerous. True Conservatism means a commitment to country and community; a belief not just in society but in the good government can do; a respect for the local and national institutions that bind us together; an insight that change is inevitable and change can be good, but that change should be shaped , through strong leadership and clear principles, for the common good. A significant influence for good around the world.”
By way of repost I repeat our reaction from last year. In the CDP Constitution, in our core aims and values at clause C1 e) we say, ‘We will promote an organic Christian society and economy which is to everyone’s benefit.’ We could be miffed that she is encroaching on our territory. But in the same way that we dismissed David Cameron’s Big Society as not matching up to Christian Society, and his initiative fell short of the mark, we can also be dismissive of any proposals from May’s Government that do not match up to an organic economy. An organic economy is sustainable in the long-term and benefits our children and grandchildren. It is not forced growth, with special projects and temporary stimulus measures, that result in boom and bust. It is steady natural growth arising from the growth in population, and is founded on the growth and wellbeing of the traditional family. Such organic growth defies the vagaries of the markets.
We are also committed to ‘Promoting and Serving the Common Good’ based on ‘Enduring and Traditional Truths and Values’ and encouraging a ‘Culture of Life, Moderation and Modesty’ defined by Catholic Social Teaching. On the international stage we are pledged to make the UK a ‘force for good’. In respect to the latter the UK is in the sorry state of pushing a population control agenda at the UN and imposing an ultra GAY agenda on countries that do not share the UKs liberal democratic western values, as a condition of receiving development aid. So when Theresa talks about the State being “a power for good” and Government using its “powers for the public good” we have to be sceptical. She may be sincere, but the proof of the pudding lies in the eating, that is the end result and it will require a major change in foreign policy. Already, Boris Johnson has sanctioned the resumption of flying the GAY flag and conducting same sex marriages in British embassies located in countries where it is not legal.
Again to the matter of ‘honesty and integrity’. TM may be dismantling and distancing herself from Dave and his policies, but she was part of Dave’s Cabinet for six years. She also supported the Remain campaign, albeit she was lukewarm. Now her total support for the Brexit Project is doubted, even though she claims to be a true Democrat responding to the wishes of the people. It is also charged that she was opportunistic with the resignation of Dave as PM and was ruthless in the election to succeed him. These may be desirable qualities in a national leader and a requisite for an Iron Lady, but she often appears without a handbag causing some to question her ability to live up to the persona that is being created for her. We should also remember that TM was an enthusiastic supporter for the Same Sex Marriage legislation.
It should be remembered that a Prime Minister is only as good as their Chancellor of the Exchequer allows them. The success or not of TMs occupation of No. 10 relies on the ability of her neighbour at No. 11 to deliver on her promises. Philip Hammond did not have such a good conference last year, with his keynote speech being described as boring. Personally, boring is a trait that I find desirable in someone handling the public purse. He gives me the impression of being an old-fashioned strict bank manager, but to live up to that image he needs to cut up the Treasury credit-card. He has said that he is going to borrow to fund essential public-works and has suspended the aim of eliminating the budget deficit. This does not bode well with the elimination of the budget deficit pushed back again to 2025. This is definitely not the Christian Democratic way to prosperity.
If TM does endorse her Chancellor’s approach, it is at odds with her disapproval of Mark Carney at the Bank of England. She blames the BofE for much of the suffering being endured by ‘everyone’, via artificial low interest rates that result in devaluation of the currency, and as a result of Quantitative Easing the debasing of Sterling. Her steer that Mark must change resulted in a swift defence of BofE independence, and No. 10 clarifying that there was no intention to challenge that independence. That was a defeat for TM, that is not being trumpeted. Mark and Philip are a team, or perhaps partners, who need to manage the household budget. It is rather like the spendthrift wife outspending her husbands income [or vice versa] and a fact that QE cannot be controlled by incurring more debt. It is also a fact that no country has ever devalued their way to prosperity. So in that respect TM is right and they do need to get their act together.
In the 2015 general election Ed Milliband was forever referring to the ‘common good’ and the Green Party titled their manifesto as ‘For the Common Good’. At the time I accused them all of being cynical and insincere because to be genuine they must acknowledge that the concept of the ‘Common Good’ is derived from Catholic Social Teaching. It is fundamental of that teaching that the dignity of each person from conception to natural death must be upheld, and none of them believed in that fundamental and God given human right. I would therefore in the same way question TMs commitment to the public good and an economy that works for everyone, if she supports abortion and euthanasia to any degree.
I am very critical of TM and her Manifesto. But, the alternatives are far far worse. This is really an election where ‘None of the above’ should be on the ballot paper. Of course you can spoil your ballot paper or vote for the Monster Raving Loony Party. I have not detected that Theresa has a campaign anthem. Perhaps the theme music from the Great Escape would be appropriate. Or, Nancy Sinatra’s These boots were made for walking – a strong message to the European Commission.