Wednesday, 10 January 2018
UK's Conservatives emulate Ko-Ko
In Gilbert and Sullivan's opera The Mikado, Ko-Ko, the rather timid Lord High Executioner, explains the fact that he hasn't actually executed anyone as follows:
It's like this: When your Majesty says, 'Let a thing be done,' it's as good as done - practically it is done - because your Majesty's will is the law. Your Majesty says, 'Kill a gentleman' and a gentleman is told off to be killed. Consequently that gentleman is as good as dead - practically he is dead - and if he is dead, why not say so?
Our government is following the same technique and, sadly, getting away with it.
The latest example is the much trailed cabinet reshuffle in which Mrs May would re-assert her authority, strengthen the government and bring in vital new blood.
Informed opinion regards the whole exercise as somewhere between a fiasco and a shambles, with the new chair of the Conservative Party after all not being the new chair of the Conservative party, the major Brexiteers (Boris Johnson, David Davis and Liam Fox) remaining in post along with Philip Hammond and Amber Rudd, holders of two of the four "major offices of state,) the consummate failure, Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, remaining in place and has his powers extended, and probably the most reasonable cabinet minister (for a Tory) comprehensive-school educated Justine Greening, gay Secretary for Education, who is unenthusiastic about grammar schools, kicked out.
Yet one spokesperson after another comes on the airwaves to say, as though butter wouldn't melt in their mouths, that the whole thing is a great success, the government is refreshed by oodles of new talent and much better reflects demography of the UK.
Ongoing over Christmas has been the crisis in the NHS (see previous post for more details) with ambulances queuing for hours at Accident and Emergency departments, patients without beds told they can have chairs and those with often painful conditions waiting for elective surgery told they can wait another month. The minister in charge (see above), loudly predicted to be sacked, has his powers extended to include housing, and again spokesperson after spokesperson assures us that more money is being spent on the NHS than ever before, and anyway there isn't really a crisis becasue the government planned for it.
Then last month, after an emergency flight to Brussels, Mrs May was hailed in heroic terms for concluding the first stage of the Brexit negotiations and enabling the discussions to proceed to the next phase. The agreement was actually reached by the government caving in on each of its "red lines." We are to remain "aligned" to the rules of the single market; we have agreed that the "divorce bill" should escalate from zero (Boris Johnson "they can whistle") to €20bn to €40bn,; and the jurisdiction of the ECJ over the UK is to continue at least for the time-being. (For more details see this post.)
Amazingly , is spite of these crass failings, and many others (I am fed up of hearing, against all the evidence, that Free Schools and Academies are driving up educational standards) the official opposition remain only neck and neck with the government in the opinion polls and we Liberal Democrats bounce along the bottom with a pathetic 7%.
The sycophantic press has a lot to answer for, but more-so, the Labour Party, which is offering no real opposition. Rather, and shamefully, they are actively supporting the destructive Brexit programme, and are too cowardly to propose, for example, an increase in personal taxation to enable the NHS to be adequately funded. Cravenly they are following what they imagine to be public opinion rather than attempting to lead it
Given the Liberal Democrats sad, and I hope temporary, lack of credibility, and the failure of the Greens, full of vitality and good ideas, to take off, we desperately need the Labour Party to grasp the opportunity and put put some real fight.
Like Arthur Greenwood in his time, Jeremy Corbyn needs to get off the fence and "Speak for England." (well, the UK actually.)