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Saturday, 6 May 2017

Put not your Trust in Politicians

The Conservatives did not succeed as well as they had hoped in this week's local elections. This is a great thing for democracy.

Jeremy Corbyn again showed his utter unfitness to lead a local pensioners' rambling club round the local park. His besetting problem is that he has absolutely no gift for saying the right thing at the time, convincingly. No doubt he has the principles that he professes: they were framed in a long-ago world and - though they are still ideals - the rise of cynicism made them irrelevant in the Thatcher era. He has the support of nostalgists, idealist socialists and radical disrupters, who have joined the Labour party by their hundreds of thousands in order to keep him in post and unelectable.

As Nigel Farage has said, UKIP's purpose is fulfilled: but only if Mrs May is able to conduct a successful set of negotiations with the European Union on Britain's future relations with the corrupt continental in-crowd. If Mrs May fails to get a deal, UKIP imagines itself as the resurgent enforcer of the popular will; a really scary thought!

As I expected, my gobby fellow-Lancastrian has led the Lib-Dems nowhere. Before 2010 his party could offer themselves with apparent transparency as a genuinely fresh and clean alternative to the two larger parties. But for five years from 2010 they were co-producers of Osborne's noxious austerity programme, and thus they threw away any chance of being regarded as honest or independent for a couple of decades. Their lack of sympathy with the old as care budgets and bus routes were cut, their inability to protect the NHS, their acquiescence in a crazy system for funding schools and their complacency in office quickly became nauseous. Farron avoided personal involvement in the squalid coalition, so he remained personally popular in his party and his constituency; but the party could not escape the nasty smell that hangs over them from the Clegg era.

By being specifically Welsh, and having a locally well-known leader, the Welsh Labour party avoided a wipeout in the local elections. It will be fascinating to see how Wales votes when it cannot ignore the fact that Corbyn 'leads' Labour on a UK basis.

The Scots Nats hit their ceiling in the Referendum on Independence two years ago. The continuing inevitable decline of Scottish Labour helped them a little in the local elections, but the great result in Scotland was that the Conservatives - under a charismatic and effective leader, Helen Davidson - emerged very clearly as the rational unionists. Areas with no recent record of Tory voting elected Conservative councillors. The result of Scotland's General election will be fascinating: and is likely to put a block on any campaign for a new independence referendum.

Which brings us to the English Conservatives. Mrs May's choice of tactics is on a par with her dress sense: unconvincing. She and David Davies have been scarily imprecise on the sort of Brexit that they are hoping to achieve, While the Prime Minister talks about delivering 'strong and stable' government, the nations needs - and wants - intelligent government with a clear [and well-publicised] set of guidelines for the coming negotiations. They should have a line-of-country figure that they think it fair to pay for the 'divorce', as individuals do in entering their personal divorce cases: and the nation should know it, then we can assess whether it is sensible or not to flex that sum as the talks proceed. It is obvious that we need a deal in which our financial services can have parity with their inferior competitors on the continent. This requires us to accept free movement of people: so be it; but the Barnier demand that they be given unlimited licence to bring in their relatives to draw British benefits indefinitely is obviously absurd. It is not evidence of strength to present the country with a black box and say 'trust me!'. Mrs May should not be able to get away with that. There is a month for the nation to teach her that lesson.

Finally, we have evidence of the utter lack of realism in the rookeries of Brussels. The chairman of the Commission declares that he has detected a decline in the importance of English throughout the continent. Does he really think that Chinese, Indians and Americans are going to learn French to do business in Europe? An intelligent, well-motivated British negotiating team should make mincemeat of his cohorts: but there is no evidence of Mrs May building such a team. Perhaps she hasn't even thought of it? She certainly has not told us.

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