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Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Theresa May: Competence and Comprehension

It is increasingly a matter of speculation, as to how competent a person the Prime Minister is. Despite the great achievements of people like Professor Ron Johnston, the general perception of geographers among the intellectual hierarchy is pretty low. Mrs May read geography at Oxford, which may rank higher than media studies at Mid-Montgomeryshire but it is not regarded as a particularly powerful component of the university overall. She has had a steady political career, indicating that she is content to take orders and vote at the call of her party whips; most of the time. When in the safe-hands role of party chairman she voiced the popular view that the post-Thatcher Tories were regarded as the 'nasty party' she spoke no less that the truth: and the import of her message to the party was that 'we have to invest more in improving our image', rather than telling the Buffton-Tufftons to change their personalities. Her mention of the'nasty party' was frequently cited over the ensuing years, almost as her defining achievement; it certainly got her name nationally known, which ultimately helped to get her the leadership.

In six years as Home Secretary she 'failed' to get net annual immigration reduced below 100,000: by a margin of several hundred per cent. Now, as Prime Minister, she declares herself determined to try again, harder. The reduction of immigration is at the heart of her determination not to retain the EU obligation of free movement of people in the European Economic Area: it virtually sets the tone and terms of how she sees 'Brexit'.

She appears to be incapable of understanding that she had to 'fail'. If intending immigrants had simply been turned away from the ports and airports of a fortress Britain, the economy would have been undermined catastrophically. Market gardening would have collapsed, at least until the firms in the industry moved their capital to countries where they could find labour. Many of the rising 'knowledge industries' would likewise have emigrated. The City of London would have imploded as a global financial centre. British users would have had to pay foreign firms inflated prices for the goods and services that had ceased to be made or grown in Britain; with a disastrous detriment to standards of living.

Meanwhile many thousands of non-EU immigrants would still have got into the UK under threat of  appeals to the human rights industry on the ground that 'family reunion' is a human right: so there would have been more non-English-speakers appealing to the benefits system and using the NHS in the face of a collapse of the state's revenues. The 'racial' dimension to the anti-immigrant mood would not have been exorcised; though fewer ethnic  groups would be scapegoated.

Mrs May still seems to want all those bad things to happen. She is deaf to appeals from industry and commerce. Unless she can clarify quickly that she has not meant these things, her government must fall quickly.

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