The Darling Bud’s surname starts with the same letter as Mrs Thatcher’s Christian name, and vice versa. By the sound of her, this is as closely as Theresa will ever resemble Maggie.
A new government must be given the benefit of the doubt, and I’m not going to offer macabre predictions for Mrs May’s tenure. However, contrary to Bertrand Russell’s view, the past is the most reliable predictor of the future – and the immediate past even more so.
Mrs May’s record as Home Secretary doesn’t fill one with confidence that she’s anything other than an unprincipled apparatchik in the Blair-Cameron vein: (http://www.tfa.net/judge-theresa-may-on-her-record/). However, that article omits Mrs May’s belief that “many Britons benefit a great deal” from Sharia law.
Many Britons may also benefit from devil worship, but one would think that a Home Secretary should be concerned with the general good of society, rather than obscure practices at odds with that good. One hopes Mrs May was talking only about some aspects of Sharia law, rather than its entirety. Support for the stoning of adulterers, for example, might erode her popularity.
But my today’s subject is a past even more immediate than that, namely the speech Mrs May delivered yesterday. It’s not immediately obvious that, had Jeremy Corbyn suddenly ascended to 10 Downing Street, his speech would have been any different.
Mrs May pledged to deliver “serious social reform”, which would fill every conservative heart with horror even if no clarification were on offer. This promise dovetails neatly with Mrs May’s previous brainwave at whose crest she repudiated George Osborne by declaring that Britain needs “not austerity but prosperity”.
She clearly thinks the two concepts are mutually exclusive, whereas in fact the latter is impossible without the former. Mrs May seems to hint at reverting to promiscuous public spending, which has been the cause of every economic disaster over the last century.
What George meant by austerity was merely slightly less profligacy, but even that trumps what Mrs May appears to have in mind. Abandoning austerity would have not only dire economic consequences but also profound social ones, even without the “serious social reform” Mrs May is promising.
In broad strokes, she seems to think that the answer to our economic woes lies in squeezing the fat cats until they disgorge their ill-gotten gains. If I were Jeremy, I’d sue Theresa for stealing his thunder.
The thought of restricting executive pay and bonuses may be appealing, but any reasonable person must realise that the only way for the state to achieve this outcome would be to increase its power to a catastrophic level.
The same goes for Mrs May’s idea of forcing companies to put consumers and staff on the boards. She calls it standing up for the working man, which is sheer demagoguery. Mrs May ought to study the experience of France, where such measures are among the nooses suffocating the economy.
The demagoguery was liberally etched with the usual waffle, along the lines of “We believe everybody – not just the privileged few – has a right to take ownership of what matters in their lives.”
Apart from the fact that, being a singular antecedent, ‘everybody’ requires a singular personal pronoun this side of the PC assault on language, her statement comes straight from the Corbyn (or Marx) catechism. For all the state’s efforts over the last few decades, the British are still among the world’s freest and wealthiest people.
This would have been impossible if only “the privileged few” had “a right to take ownership…” – which has been proven in every place where socialist flimflam was put into practice. Mrs May’s oration makes one wonder what she has to do with conservatism, but then she did say that “This is a different kind of Conservatism, I know. It marks a break with the past.” New Conservatism is indistinguishable from New Labour.
Then of course there’s Brexit, which Mrs May reassuringly promises “means Brexit”. That’s like saying liberty means liberty: to some it means licence, to others anarchy, to still others (French and other revolutionaries come to mind) the state putting its foot down.
As a Cameronian apparatchik, Mrs May is viscerally attached to the EU, which she proved by campaigning for Remain. Hence it’s possible that to her Brexit doesn’t mean the country recovering her full sovereignty.
It may mean, for example, leaving the EU de jure but complying with all its laws de facto, thereby suffering all the evils without having even a 1/28th of the voice. It may also mean a gradual sabotage of the referendum results.
One possible scenario: when the reforms Mrs May promises deliver a major recession, as they certainly will if they’re as serious as she claims, this could be blamed on Brexit. Brexit does mean Brexit, Mrs May might then say, but are you my fellow Britons sure you don’t want to change your mind? Let’s vote again, shall we?
All this may prove unfounded, and I do pray it will be so proved. TM may yet become like MT or even better. Time will tell, but the early signs aren’t encouraging.