Editorial – Theresa May’s Train Wreck

Now this may sound a little silly*, but if you think like Malcolm Turnbull and act like Malcolm Turnbull, then there’s a very good chance that you’ll end up like Malcolm Turnbull – and have a bad time.

Of all the strategic blunders made by Theresa May, her decision to hire Turnbull’s failed election campaign adviser to help run her campaign (with fellow ‘guru’ Sir Lynton Crosby) was arguably the most significant.

You know, the same adviser who said this during Turnbull’s 2016 campaign:

The qualitative evidence is they don’t matter,’’ Mr Textor said. “The sum of a more centrist approach outweighs any alleged marginal loss of so-called base voters.’’

Yes, that one.

Textor strikes again

For reasons not readily apparent, May agreed to implement the Textor-Turnbull election campaign system – a curious system under which the decision making prowess of a teenage girl running away from Jason Vorhees is employed on as many major campaign decisions as possible.

In its latest hit out, the Textor-Turnbull system included the following strokes of genius, coming straight out of the manual:

  • Give everyone plenty of time to see that implementing Brexit won’t be a walk in the park. Allow further time for doubts about the process to fester. Then, just before you can make any tangible progress, call a snap election THREE YEARS before your term expires based on… (wait for it) implementing Brexit! When the other side is more than happy to let you do this to the tune of a 522-13 parliamentary vote – despite the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 – then you’ll know that you’re definitely on a winner.
  • Foist an inexplicably long election campaign on everyone (seven weeks). This way, you’ll have more time to make mistakes and annoy as many voters as possible.
  • Refuse to debate against one of the most hopeless debating opponents ever and let everyone else do so in your absence. Then, watch that opponent nail you on the point – which huge numbers of casual and swing voters will easily understand and relate to.
  • Follow up your refusal to debate by dribbling complete nonsense (see below). It’s important to demonstrate that you are out of touch and completely unaware that:
    • people love seeing a good fight on many levels and expect their leaders to fight for them;
    • people get seriously annoyed when deprived of a good fight and will always blame the person running from the fight; and
    • the head to head battle of ideas between leaders is one of the most important things in an election campaign and will be the only time countless casual and swing voters will ever pay attention to what you’re saying. Ever. (Think about that).

During the interview, a “Jeremy Corbyn from Islington” asked if Theresa May would appear in a live debate with him. She responded saying, “I don’t think people get much out of seeing politicians having a go at each other; I think people want to hear directly.” **

  • Keep refusing to be interviewed. Patiently wait until the full amount of political damage has been done. Then, and only then, change your mind.
  • Talk about, dither and terrify the elderly on social justice causes – because they don’t matter and there’s not enough of them to impact an election result:

May’s greatest mis-step was over social care. May wanted to introduce a system whereby care for the elderly would be paid for by the government selling their house after their death. Although the policy allowed for £100,000 ($128,500) to be kept for the person’s family, there was no cap on how much could be taken. If a house was worth £1m, for example, nine-tenths of that value could conceivably end up in the hands of the state rather than relatives.

The tragedy of Mrs May’s social care proposal was that it was the right policy based on the right premise: that those who can afford to pay for their care should do so. It was a bold argument to bring to a political campaign: it could have been defended. Yet it emerges that no one in the cabinet had any warning about this policy, so no one was prepared for it. Mrs May has learned the hard way that a party leader needs to work with front-bench colleagues, rather than a couple of trusted advisers. Her failure to widen her circle (or triangle) of trust is her biggest single weakness. The ‘dementia tax’ debacle was the direct result.

Senior Conservatives said that she had made “fundamental strategic errors” and said that her closest aides should be “banished” from Downing Street.

They complained that the campaign had been centred around a “cult of personality” and “central control”, adding: “It has completely blown up in our face”.

Now where have we seen all this attempted before?

One can only assume that under the Textor-Turnbull system, it’s also mandatory to keep doing the exact same thing over and over again until you get a different result.

Keep going guys, I’m sure you’ve got Einstein covered.

Corbyn – a very dangerous man

All the more staggering is how May could have allowed such a shameless anarchist like Jeremy Corbyn to come so close.

Former man of the left, Nick Cohen, illustrated very early on the danger posed by Corbyn – and the eerie ease with which he became Labour’s leader:

‘Jeremy Corbyn did not become Labour leader because his friends in the Socialist Workers party organised a Leninist coup. Nor did the £3 click-activist day-trippers hand him victory. He won with the hearty and freely given support of ‘decent’ Labour members‘.

As for Corbyn himself:

  • He’s got some friends in high places – like Iran:

And yes, thank you, I know all about the feebleness of Corbyn’s opponents. But the fact remains that the Labour party has just endorsed an apologist for Putin’s imperial aggression; a man who did not just appear on the propaganda channel of Russia, which invades its neighbours and persecutes gays, but also of Iran, whose hangmen actually execute gays. Labour’s new leader sees a moral equivalence between 9/11 and the assassination of bin Laden, and associates with every variety of women-hating, queer-bashing, Jew-baiting jihadi, holocaust denier and 9/11 truther. His supporters know it, but they don’t care’.

  • He doesn’t appear to be a big fan of women:

‘A few on the British left are beginning to realise what they have done. Feminists were the first to stir from their slumber. They were outraged this week when Corbyn gave all his top jobs to men. I have every sympathy. But really, what did they expect from a man who never challenged the oppression of women in Iran when he was a guest on the state propaganda channel? You cannot promote equality at home while defending subjugation abroad and it was naive to imagine that Corbyn would try’.

  • He’s definitely no patriot:

‘George Orwell wrote of the ‘English intellectual [who] would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during “God Save the King” than of stealing from a poor box’. That came to mind on Tuesday when Corbyn declined to sing ‘God Save the Queen’ at the Battle of Britain remembrance service’.

‘Mr Corbyn has made no secret of his desire to abolish the monarchy’.

  • Oh, and he likes Hamas and Hezbollah:

Lastly, isn’t it funny how voters seem to have this uncanny knack for weeding out leaders like these and giving neither a mandate to govern in their own right?


(*) Sneaky pun intended.

(**) PS: the following opinion of the Independent’s Sarah Arnold – regarding May’s refusal to debate – is pure comedy gold (trigger warning: bad grammar alert):

The Prime Minister is leagues ahead of Corbyn in the opinion polls; levels unseen since Margaret Thatcher’s day. Why would she risk this potentially landslide win to have a few digs at her rival live on TV when she could slip up and cut the percentage?

Theresa May is coasting to a memorable victory on 8 June – taking the time out of a hectic pre-election schedule to debate Jeremy Corbyn live will not benefit her, or any of us.

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3 thoughts on “Editorial – Theresa May’s Train Wreck”

  1. Thanks Zyc – I don’t mind listening to Greg on Bolt’s show and reading some of his columns – but when he gets it wrong, he gets it horribly wrong! Trump is another great example.

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  2. And then this:

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/columnists/greg-sheridan/uk-election-2017-theresa-may-dumbly-gives-corbyn-a-chance/news-story/e012399157350ad83d0dcffa0cff1c51

    UK election 2017: Theresa May dumbly gives Corbyn a chance

    Greg Sheridan12:00AM June 10, 2017
    Yikes! The worst election campaign in the worst strategic decision — to call an election years before schedule — has robbed British Prime Minister Theresa May of her parliamentary majority and shot Jeremy Corbyn, the most left-wing Labour leader in British history, to within an ace of becoming prime minister.

    Surely May is finished now as a long-term leader and the forthcoming Brexit negotiations are thrown into chaos and uncertainty, as is the whole project of government in Britain.

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  3. Speaking of clueless

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/columnists/greg-sheridan/the-hour-has-called-forth-theresa-may-a-woman-with-a-roar/news-story/5b95b9a190f76ec17c79f27aa3a7eebc

    The hour has called forth Theresa May, a woman with a roar

    Greg Sheridan
    12:00AM April 20, 2017

    Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May delivers a speech to Conservative Party members. Picture: AFP
    Theresa May is the lioness of Britain, in temperament and daring a worthy successor to Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill, though of course she is still at the beginning of her journey as Prime Minister.

    The poll she has called is Britain’s Brexit election. There is still a disgruntled, bad-tempered desire by over-entitled elites in London to frustrate the results of the referendum on Brexit and turn back the will of the people, to reverse the Brexit decision.

    If May wins a solid majority on June 8 that delusion will be dashed forever. Every victorious Tory will have campaigned on a pro-Brexit platform and they will all owe their position to May. At the previous election the Tories won a notional majority of 12 but, given that Northern Irish Republicans refuse to take their seats in parliament, an effective majority of 17, in truth a bit more with the inevitable support of the Ulster Unionists.

    If May wins a majority of 50 her authority within the Conservative Party will be immense. Anything more than that and she will enter the ranks of the Conservative gods and goddesses. A majority approaching 90 probably consigns the wretched Labour Party — manifestly unfit to govern under the eccentric leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, who makes Richard Di Natale look like an advertisement for the political mainstream — to two further terms in opposition.

    This sequence would be unique in modern politics — a Conservative-led coalition government that just got in, succeeded by a Conservative Party government with a narrow majority in its own right, followed by a Conservative government with a big majority. And all this when incumbent governments, whether left or right, are meant to be victims of cynical electorates and popular disdain with conventional politics.

    Of course, May has not won the election yet. Her Conservatives lead Labour by a staggering 20 per cent in the opinion polls. Her leadership rating is a positive of more than 30 while Corbyn’s leadership has a rating of -40. Almost no one, even in the parliamentary Labour Party, wants Corbyn as prime minister. His Guy Fawkes beard is the only endearing thing about him. He has spent a political lifetime supporting communist dictators and terrorists. His election as Labour leader is a tribute to the insanity of choosing a national party leader through a popular ballot by anybody who pays £3 for the privilege of voting.

    Still, if there’s one thing that recent experience has taught us it is that opinion polls are treacherous and democratic elections are deeply unpredictable. But May deserves to win this election and Britain will be in a hopeless position if her clear, coherent vision of a clean Brexit is compromised.

    She can change British politics for a generation and she can perhaps change Britain forever. Certainly her fortunes will have an immense impact on Western politics generally.

    The whole Brexit process is a tribute to the genius of British politics. Nobody thought the EU was working well but the major parties, for one reason or another, were committed to it. The EU bureaucrats and notional leaders, in their spectacular foolishness, their isolation from the experience of ordinary citizens, their resolute unwillingness to compromise or display the mildest modicum of common sense, contributed to a growing frustration within the British public.

    The mainstream parties wouldn’t tackle the issue so a fringe group, the United Kingdom Independence Party, campaigned relentlessly on it, forcing the major parties to respond. In the process, by the way, UKIP completely banished the nasty, genuine racists of the British National Front. UKIP forced the EU issue into the middle of electoral politics. If the EU had granted the former prime minister, David Cameron, the fig leaf of even the most modest reforms he might have dodged a referendum.

    But eventually Cameron felt compelled to give the British a referendum choice on the EU. Foolishly, he conscripted all manner of foreign heads of government — from Barack Obama to our own beloved Tony Abbott — to lecture the British on why they should stay in the EU. But people don’t like being bossed around all the time. They revolted.

    And in a further tribute to Britain’s political system, the hour called forth the woman. May is a much more appealing figure than Cameron. She is a solidly middle-class woman, daughter of the vicarage, neither cool nor slick, nor glamorous, nor pre-packaged, but manifestly tough and determined and sensible. Cameron was too slick, too much the toff. His government seemed like a throwback to the 19th or even the 18th century, a gaggle of self-regarding Etonian cronies giving modestly conservative voice to the conventional wisdoms of the day.

    May had been a notoriously tough-minded home secretary and she saw off would-be Conservative challengers so that there was not even a leadership vote. Then she said, hard and clear, Brexit would be enacted because that’s what the British people had decided. She gave the matter some thought, took a couple of months to clarify her government’s thinking about the issue, then made all the right decisions.

    She would pursue a clean Brexit, Britain out of the common market and out of the customs union. She would do her best to negotiate a friendly and fair free-trade agreement with the EU but would be happy to revert to trading with Europe under World Trade Organisation rules, as do the US and Australia. If she got a bad deal she would make no deal and Britain would just walk away from the EU.

    As with so much of May, there was just a hint of menace in her approach. Friends if possible, watch out if not. She ruthlessly reorganised her cabinet, sacking long-term ministers she didn’t think would carry the Brexit message with conviction.

    The reason I say this is all a telling example of the genius of the British political system is because mainstream British politics has, uniquely in Europe, been able to deal with the crippling infirmities of the EU. The British didn’t have to elect a Marine Le Pen or a Don­ald Trump to produce the change they wanted.

    Elections are more fun for the politically inclined than a day at the races. This splendid British contest will take twists and turns aplenty.

    Britain may yet be on the cusp of a new greatness.

    Like

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