The Disappearing Prime Minister 887


I was delighted by Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement today, both the content and the manner of her making it.

I am unsure why she put the window for the referendum as far back as autumn 2018 to spring 2019. Autumn 2018 is fine but spring 2019 is late – Nicola Sturgeon spoke of Scotland needing to declare its choice for independence before the UK actually leaves the EU or very shortly thereafter. But very shortly thereafter is too late. In diplomatic terms, a miss is a good as a mile here and in diplomatic terms at the EU, negotiating to get back in will be much harder than negotiating to remain a part of the EU.

My suspicion is Sturgeon is giving May a ladder to climb down on agreeing the referendum by making it potentially post-Brexit. I see no need to have been so accommodating to May. I am frankly puzzled.

But my major observation is that Nicola’s performance was excellent, the decision sound. Yet what struck me most was the lengthy question and answer suggestion. The mainstream media lackeys laughingly called journalists were not really putting questions. They were emitting deep-seated cries of unionist belief, wild anti-Independence assertions, with the lightest disguise as questions. It is a fair warning of what we have coming.

Even Gordon Brown had a honeymoon period. The temporary popularity of a new Prime Minister evaporates as a morning mist searched out by strong sunlight. The budget tax increases, combined with fierce pre-planned benefit cuts, are evaporating May’s popularity before our eyes. The reality of Brexit debacle will shortly hit very hard, and people will start to notice she is not actually very good.

I have been listening out to determine the extent to which May’s Thatcher voice is a deliberate impersonation, and in consequence have been most forcefully struck by how little we hear her voice. Those packaging her, together with a compliant media, seek to present her as much as possible through silent images. She is repeatedly on television entering places and greeting people, but remarkably seldom is her voice heard. She does not give nearly as many media interviews as David Cameron, because she is not good at them.

Prime Minister’s Question Time has almost vanished from our screens. When David Cameron was causing animal guffaws of genuine delight from Tory MPs roused by his facile debating skills, no week went past in which the BBC News did not show a substantial clip of Prime Minister’s Questions, edited for maximum effect in making Cameron look dominant and Corbyn look out of his depth. I do not believe any reader in the UK can honestly say such an image is not seared on to their mind. But now Prime Minister’s Questions almost never make the news bulletins for more than a very few seconds, because May is hopeless at them and is arguably bested by Corbyn fairly regularly. She has no ability for repartee, no timing and wins mechanical guffaws purely by reading out pre-prepared attacks on Labour and SNP that do not pretend to relate to the questions asked.

How do the broadcast media respond? Prime Minister’s Questions are suddenly no longer newsworthy. Unless you happen to be free to watch live – which rules out almost the entire working population – you would very seldom see May flounder. Indeed, the entire plan for retaining her popularity appears to be based on the public hearing her as little as possible. Personally, I have no doubt her recent Glasgow speech attacking not just Scottish independence but the very notion of devolution, was extremely helpful to the Independence cause. I can understand why the establishment try to avoid us actually hearing her.

Jeremy Corbyn should not now be abandoned. I was saddened to see Owen Jones stab him in the back. Jones appears sadly set on the trajectory typically caused by the salary of a Guardian columnist. He will now increasingly retreat into identity politics rather than the cause of universal social justice. I give it eight years before he spends his entire time attacking the left as having “lost their way”.

I could not disagree more strongly with Jeremy on Scottish Independence or on his approach to Brexit. Nobody would claim quick repartee or even set piece oratory were his strongest suits. He interviews fairly well but is of course handicapped by the extraordinary stream of scepticism and deliberate misrepresentation with which journalists approach him. But the honesty and integrity of his beliefs are why he was elected, and those remain at the core of his leadership. For the English and Welsh voter to be given a real choice, rather than just Blue or Red Tories, has horrified the entire neo-con establishment.

It is most improbable that Corbyn will be able to deliver a Labour Westminster victory in 2020, but it is not impossible. The alt-right spasm gripping England and Wales will diminish by then and Brexit enthusiasm will meet the cold real world. I can assure you the Tories are already considering how to avoid having Leaders’ Debates on television for the next general election. For Corbyn to be able to put a radical message directly to the public, and May’s deficiencies in debate to be so directly exposed, is something they will not want at all. May should be seen and not heard, is their motto.

The European Union has put a fault line through the Tory and Labour parties. The chips have fallen in a way that leaves both parties with leaderships that were more sympathetic to Brexit than they revealed during the campaign, and certainly have no interest in trying to stop it. The 48% who voted Remain are therefore practically unrepresented in England and Wales. As I suspect that 48% will increase – and there is a curious lack of opinion polls – this will become an increasingly acute problem as the body politic recovers from shock.

The Lib Dems would be the obvious beneficiaries, but they will not so soon recover from popular revulsion at the alacrity with which they abandoned all pretence at restraining the Tories, in return for ministerial limousines. They also have the least able and least charismatic leader in that party’s long history. Indeed, possibly in any party’s history, anywhere. The never appealing Brezhnev was more charismatic than Tim Farron even when he was being wheeled out to parades propped up and effectively dead.

The Labour Party is in the abject position that its pro-Europeans are very largely the totally discredited Blairites. That the delusional Blair sees the EU issue as his chance of a political comeback, is only evidence of what a terrible state the pro-EU camp is in. There are plenty of pro-EU Tories but they too are more concerned with personal careers, except the Clarkes and Heseltines whose course is already run.

It is difficult to believe this situation is sustainable. On the biggest issue of the day, which will have a huge impact on future living standards, 48% of the population, the best educated and most politically active 48% of the population, have no effective representation. Only in Scotland have we a coherent pro-EU political force, but circumstances are such this cannot help England.

The democracy of the UK has become severely dysfunctional. I firmly believe that a crisis is coming, and that Scottish Independence will be a trigger for the resolution of that crisis. Not only will it remove Scotland from the subjugation that has sapped its energies for centuries, it will give a profound and much needed jolt to the political kaleidoscope in England and Wales and lead to new and more relevant political alignments. It may also finally break the obsession with being a world power that so damaged British people for so long.

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887 thoughts on “The Disappearing Prime Minister

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  • Doug Scorgie

    Sharp Ears
    March 16, 2017 at 18:14

    “Follow up on the Tory election expenses fraud from Sky News. More factual than the state broadcaster’s version.”

    Harp Ears, from the web page you cite:

    “If any police forces decide there is a case to answer, they will pass a file to the Crown Prosecution Service and the case will go to court.”

    Where it says “…the case will go to court…” That is not necessarily true as it will be up to the Director of Public Prosecutions to decide whether any case goes to court.

    Sadly, the DPP (Alison Saunders) was appointed by the Attorney General (Tory MP Jeremy Wright) who in turn was appointed by the Prime Minister.

    It will be interesting to follow the cases though.

  • Sharp Ears

    We recently read that Lord Howell’s son-in-law, George Gideon Oliver Osborne, Con MP Tatton, was being employed by Blackrock as an advisor!

    George Osborne defends his £320,000 in speeches fees

    Now in addition to vast sums being paid to him for speeches, a la Blair, he is being employed by Lebedev to ‘edit’ the Evening Standard rag.

    George Osborne to become editor of London Evening Standard

    YCNMIU. Pity the Tatton constituents with their disappearing MP.

  • Doug Scorgie

    michael norton
    March 17, 2017 at 11:20

    “SCOTTISH PEOPLE lead push to end Ms. Nicola Sturgeon’s independence bid as EVERY CONSTITUENCY signs petition”

    You paraphrase the Daily Express Michael and exaggerate.
    The headline is:
    “SEETHING Scots from every constituency have signed a petition demanding another independence referendum launched by Nicola Sturgeon “should not be allowed to happen”, figures have found.”

    So that means that SOME voters from every constituency have signed the petition.

    You quoted the figure 172,000. That’s 3.9% of the eligible voters.

    It is all unionist propaganda.

      • Republicofscotland

        It’s organised by the British government, I’m surprised it isnt higher, I wonder how many fake emails and names have been stuffed in, probably over 50% at least.

    • Node

      “SCOTTISH PEOPLE lead push to end Ms. Nicola Sturgeon’s independence bid as EVERY CONSTITUENCY signs petition”

      So that means that SOME voters from every constituency have signed the petition.

      The Express could equally honestly have used the headline ““SCOTTISH PEOPLE lead push to support Ms. Nicola Sturgeon’s independence bid as EVERY CONSTITUENCY welcomes new referendum”

  • Republicofscotland

    So the House of Commons is said to erupted in huge cheers and bravo’s when word came through that HRH Lizzie, gave Article 50, Brexit, the royal assent.

    Is it any wonder Scotland wants to break away from these imperial Rule Britannia isolationists.

    Meanwhile worst chancellor in living memory is to become a editor of the London Evening Standard newspaper, there goes the credibility of the LES.

    • fred

      “Is it any wonder Scotland wants to break away from these imperial Rule Britannia isolationists”

      No they don’t. We had a referendum.

      • Republicofscotland

        Yes they do, and May is running scared that’s why she’s trying to block this one.

        The Scottish parliament will vote next week, and it will pass and we will hold our indyref.

        It’s the will of the people.

        • fred

          The people decided in 2014.

          We voted to remain part of the UK.

          You don’t speak for the people.

          • Republicofscotland

            A majority of MSP’s (who speak for the people) will vote to hold a second indyref.

            The people want it and they have it.

            Your bleating and whinging won’t stop the will of the people.

          • michael norton

            there is none so blind as those who will not see.

            Yes, I am meaning the S. N. P.

          • fred

            Waste every ones time and money on a meaningless referendum.

            We had a legal referendum already.

          • Republicofscotland

            No its not it’s very important.

            That’s why the people of Scotland MUST have their referendum, and they will.

          • michael norton

            RoS the people in Scotland had their referendum.
            The S. N. P. were routed.

    • Republicofscotland

      The ex-chancellor I speak of is so insignificant I forgot to include his name above.

      George Osborne.

  • Doug Scorgie

    March 16, 2017 at 20:15

    “In my opinion they should be helping poor children who need help not rich who don’t need tax payers money.”

    Well said Fred, now why don’t you join Corbyn’s Socialist Labour Party?

  • lysias

    L.A. Times: Trump budget would make big cuts in the State Department and EPA [but not for aid to Israel]:

    Mark Toner, a State Department spokesman, said U.S. aid to Israel, which totaled about $3.1 billion this year, would not be touched under the Trump plan. Israel gets more U.S. aid than any other nation.

    Aid to every other country will come under review, he said.

    Egypt gets about $1.5 billion and has been one of the largest recipients of U.S. aid in an arrangement that has helped maintain peace between Egypt and Israel since the Carter presidency.

    Well, what about that? Some cows are more sacred than others.

  • Doug Scorgie

    March 16, 2017 at 20:34

    “The Scottish government has the money, it’s their choice if they spend it on the children of rich Spaniards or poor Scots.”

    Who are these “rich Spaniards” you keep harping on about Fred?

    To get free University tuition in Scotland you have to be a resident of Scotland for at least 3 years before the course starts. Everyone else has to pay.

    In any case University policy in Scotland reflects the internationalist view of education throughout the EU; not a narrow Scottish; haggis munching, kilt wearing, viewpoint you imply.

    Anyway I’m glad you have concern for the poor scots.

    • Republicofscotland

      Fred always makes it personal the Spaniard will be some guy whose moved in next door to him, and has a nicer car that’s partially blocking Freds driveway.

      He went through the same carry on last time over ambulances. God only knows what his next gripe will be. ?

      • fred

        This is another example of Nationalist intimidation. I try to have a sensible discussion on Scottish tuition fees with Doug and a Nationalist thug launches a personal attack.

        That is how the Nationalists work, anyone who tries to tell the truth is intimidated.

    • fred

      European rules say you have to give University tuition to EU citizens from other countries at the same rate you charge your own citizens. There is no requirement for EU citizens to have been resident in Scotland to qualify.

      Someone from England is not eligible for free tuition and would have to be resident in Scotland for three years before they would qualify.

  • lysias

    It was reported that the Trump White House had apologized to the Brits for Spicer’s statement yesterday.
    They’re now saying they did not apologize, only said they would not repeat the statement about GCHQ.

    And it looks like Trump himself, in his news conference with Merkel, has essentially just repeated the charge. Trump Responds To Obama Wiretap Question: “At Least Merkel And I Have Something In Common”:

    Following today’s latest developments over Trump’s allegations that the UK’s GCHQ may or may not have helped Obama to wiretap the Trump Tower, an allegation which the infuriated British Spy Agency called “utterly ridiculous” and prompted it to demand an apology from the White House, a German reporter asked Trump for his current opinion on whether Obama had indeed wiretapped Trump. The president’s response: he gestured to Angela Merkel and said “on wiretapping by this past administration, at least we have something in common.”

  • Sharp Ears

    With Gideon sitting there on the back benches, a question about his job is asked by the Labour front bench.. Ben Gummer (son of John Gummer) and Minister of State at the Cabinet Office replies. Gideon applied to the appropriate committee on 13th March (oh yeah) for their approval and their decision is awaited.

      • Why be ordinary

        I note that you refuse to recognise the fact that George Osborne has made it clear that he prefers to be called by the name he chose himself. In other contexts you are keen to insist that you yourself should be addressed by the name that you choose to use. Criticise him as much as you like but if you desire politeness it would be kind to observe it other contexts too.

        • Sharp Ears

          Poor Gideon. LOL.

          ‘We tuck into the bewildering spread of starters. Osborne’s long fingers hover like the talons of a bird of prey over the various options before swooping on some olive oil-infused bruschetta. Talk inevitably turns to the good old days and how he embarked on a political career after he was turned down for a job at the Economist by the **FT’s Gideon Rachman. “We even had the same name,” says the man born as Gideon Osborne.**

          We first met in the mid-1990s when Osborne was the junior Conservative staffer put in charge of “killing the Liberal Democrats”. Osborne has joked that he achieved his objective some 25 years later, after the Lib Dems joined the Tories in coalition and ended up being smothered in the cold embrace of the “austerity chancellor”.’

          Dinner with the FT: George Osborne
          George Parker
          September 23 2016

  • German Girl

    I hope that Sturgeon doesn’t trust May.
    Because whatever May promises before Brexit (independence referendum), she might not keep these promises after Brexit. After Brexit it would be the case that Scotland as a part of GB would no longer be in the EU. And that might lead to new arguments. As you wrote: politics are fluid. And May might claim after Brexit that Scottish independence is no longer a viable option.
    Don’t trust Westminster.

  • Alan McMahon

    This crisis you predict Craig is, right enough, one that will not only release a post-independence Scotland from the dead hand of a political and societal culture incapable of finding any kind of new direction to ease its post-colonial post-industrial problems. Its effect may indeed be just as invigorating on an England finally able to break free of those same ligatures, and perhaps even start thinking the hitherto unthinkable. Who knows, it might write itself a constitution, elect its parliament by means of a proper democratic voting system, implement an elected second chamber. Or rediscover the extraordinary value to its people of universal public health care, or the wonderful liberty of not having to pretend to be an independent nuclear power. Or put in place an independent public broadcasting corporation worth the name, or even an industrial policy to offer all of its citizens properly rewarded work. The thanks may be a while coming, but I have the sense that come it will.

    • michael norton

      France has the sixth largest economy in the world.
      They were one of the co-inventors of the Industrial Revolution, just like Scotland.
      They both aspire to be Socialist Utopias.
      France is in a State of Emergency, the current president is the least popular – ever.
      The Socialist dream is turning into a nightmare.
      Three and a half million people in France are on the dole, millions more are underemployed.

      Yet, now Scotland wants to break away from The United Kingdom to kiss the boot of the E.U.

  • michael norton

    Sturgeon signs independence vote request

    Ministry of Truth

    Scotland’s first minister has signed a letter formally asking for powers to hold a second Scottish independence referendum.

    The Scottish Parliament voted by 69 to 59 on Tuesday in favour of seeking permission for another referendum

    Nicola Sturgeon argues Scotland should have the choice on what path to follow in the wake of the Brexit vote.

  • michael norton

    This piece is quite strangely entitled
    The Disappearing Prime Minister.

    I would say Theresa May seems very visible.

  • Paul

    I usually find myself in agreement with Craig. But how could anyone think Corbyn is more able or a better speaker than Farron? Try Farron’s conference speech. Then compare Corbyn’s ‘pro-EU’ speeches during the referendum, where he seemed to be reading from notes he’d scribbled down on the way to the event.

    I’ve already ditched the Labour Party and joined the Lib Dems. I know many others who have done the same.

  • Paul

    A direct question for Craig. What can someone who is not Scottish and who is resident in England do in support of Scottish independence? I’ve already donated at What else can I do?

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