I’m disappointed but not surprised to wake up this morning to find Theresa May is still leading the Conservative Party, having seen off a vote of no confidence by a 2:1 ratio. In my opinion Theresa May is an appalling prime minister even if you disregard Brexit: she’s a nannying, authoritarian, dimwit with no vision, no principles, and no charisma who sees the British population as little more than a nuisance. Add to that her handling of the Brexit negotiations – which appear to be a mixture of devious cunning where Britain’s interests were concerned, and incompetence and capitulation in front of Barnier et al. – resulting in a deal which nobody is happy with, and she is likely to go down as the worst PM anyone can recall. That nobody among the ruling classes can mount a challenge to her, either within the party or from the opposition benches, almost beggars belief.
But like I said, I’m not surprised. The yawning chasm that’s opened up between the ruling classes and the majority population has been evident for some time, and that 200 Tory MPs have given their blessing to Theresa May and her Brexit deal merely confirms the people’s parliamentary representatives have no intention of representing anyone’s interests but their own. In some ways, last night’s vote is a good thing in that it may ram home this point to those who for some reason thought differently. How anyone still believed it having watched Blair and Cameron rule Britain for a combined 16 years is anyone’s guess, but here we are. In short, May winning the vote demonstrates how utterly bereft of talent and competence Britain’s ruling classes have become, and it’s interesting to look at why.
Those 16 years I mentioned earlier explains a lot about where we are now. Both Blair and Cameron epitomised prime ministers for whom the big decisions over governance were solved by a combination of a collapsed Soviet Union, unprecedented wealth due to globalisation, and a handing over of major policies to the EU. Neither man had to tackle a single, difficult domestic issue: even the NI peace process was mostly wrapped up by the time Blair took office, allowing him to claim credit for it. From 1997 onwards, Britain was rich, peaceful, and faced no serious threats – except, in hindsight, from its own government. This allowed people like Blair and Cameron, who lacked any principles save for a desire to be in power, to tinker and meddle and make changes on the fly, many of which had devastating consequences down the line. Where previous prime ministers had to deal with the Soviet-backed communism, independence of the colonies, general strikes, deindustrialisation, and the oil embargo Blair and Cameron busied themselves banning foxhunting, creating thousands of new petty crimes, foisting political correctness on critical institutions, and micromanaging people’s lives. And while they did this, the majority of the population didn’t weep with despair and head abroad like I did – they stood and cheered, and said “Ooh, what a nice man!” Until Blair joined in with the wrecking of Iraq, anyway.
The irony is many of those people who voted for Blair and Cameron are now bitterly disappointed at the current situation, both leavers and remainers who think May’s deal is abhorrent, albeit for opposite reasons. Well, what did they expect? The British population allowed the ruling classes to be captured by a bunch of wet, unprincipled, and not especially bright charlatans, and were happy to let them rule provided they were doing all right regardless of the long-term costs. Whenever somebody with even a whiff of intelligence, backbone, or principles showed up on the political scene, the middle classes would clutch their pearls and launch into a frenzy of virtue-signaling (nowadays they just start shrieking about Nazis). And now, finally, the British ruling classes have been given a genuinely difficult, statesman’s task and they are simply not up to it: May has proven hopeless, and her closest rivals can’t even inspire enough colleagues to get rid of her. What does that tell you about the substance of Johnson and Rees-Mogg?
It’s time the British public got serious. Over the next few months the ruling classes will be found wanting once more, unable to make difficult decisions: May’s deal probably won’t pass a parliamentary vote, and a general election will be called where people are given a choice of another loser Tory or Jeremy Corbyn. This will being about a disaster no matter who wins, and this might – might – bring to the fore a different sort of politician, one we haven’t seen for a long time in Britain. How the population reacts will be crucial, and there will be howls of anguish from the metropolitan elites and a subsection of the middle classes who would prefer politicians stick to banning sugary drinks and shutting down hate speech on Twitter than actually governing. These voices will need to be shouted down with full force if Britain is going to change. But I’m not even sure it wants to.
In short, the public are going to have to start making difficult decisions. The trouble is, like Blair and Cameron, they’ve never had to. Can they learn? Time will tell, but if they can’t they might as well stay in the EU and let someone else rule over them. It’s going to be a testing twelve months.