This week, we saw a Theresa May U-turn that will genuinely make or break the United Kingdom. With several issues at stake that it seems no one truly understands, it is important to apply logic and evidence to proceedings. This piece will aim to separate the fact from the fiction before the country shoots itself not just in the foot, but all the way up the body, straight to the heart.
(All of this is important and the sources are included. I don’t do fake news. For ease, I have split the content into three distinct sections. It’s a bit lengthy but if you read this, you genuinely shouldn’t have to read much else.)
PART I: THERESA MAY LIE TO YOU
Despite Theresa May’s previous assertions, a general election is to be held in seven weeks, on June 8th 2017. Seven crucial weeks of the remaining hundred and one til Brexit occurs on March 29th 2019. Some say that this was her plan all along, but these people are too generous when judging May’s intellect. If this was true, she could have invoked Article 50 later. No, this sudden change of heart is May finally realising that in the long-term, she is doomed.
May speaks of those ‘frustrating’ the Brexit process, and her wish to end the division in Parliament so that she has no obstacles. Considering the fact that both Houses voted to allow the government’s Brexit plan with zero checks, this is a straightforward lie. And if May is genuinely worried about the nine Lib Dems in Parliament ‘grinding the government to a standstill’, then frankly she must be the weakest leader in British history. When Theresa May talks about wanting ‘unity’ in Westminster, the word she is actually looking for is ‘dominance’. She wants zero opposition.
Anyone who is happy at the prospect of other political parties being buried clearly doesn’t understand democracy, or simple competition. Competition keeps us on our toes and pushes us to be better, instead of lazy, inefficient and self-serving. The desire for zero accountability is one of the few things Theresa May has been honest about, and the acceptance of this by so many so that she can ‘get on with Brexit’ is astounding. This is the encouragement of poor governance and autocracy.
There are those who believe this election will take the strongest government into Brexit negotiations, somehow forgetting that a post-election Tory government would be identical to this one. There may be more backbenchers and a couple more years on the clock but the negotiating power of Britain doesn’t change. Nor does the reality that there will be no trade deal with the EU or any other country by 2019, and the UK is almost certainly going to lose a large amount of its trade.
At this point, the government has already confessed that not only will the NHS never see that promised £350 million, but immigration is likely to remain high even after Brexit. With that, the main two reasons for voting Leave have been undermined already. With continued failures on the Brexit front and constant backtracking from the government, it is mind-boggling that the public have not yet turned on Theresa May. In time however, they will, and May knows this.
A word on Brexit: it is objectively a negative move. The referendum result should be respected but that doesn’t mean all sense is abandoned and all facts are ignored. Firstly, the UK does not actually pay the ‘membership fee’ of 18-19 billion (£350 million a week). In 2016, the UK received an instant rebate of £4 million, plus funding of £4.5 million, resulting in a total of £8.6 billion (£165 million a week), less than half the touted figure. And what do we get for this? The ability for businesses to operate across borders with expanded reach, collective security and anti-terrorism efforts, visa and permit-free movement, and HUGE economic gain. About 44% of UK exports in goods and services went to EU countries in 2016 – £240 billion out of £550 billion total exports. Similarly, 2015 exports were £230 billion, and imports were £290 billion (tariff-free). These exports are worth about 13% of the UK’s economy. These benefits will all soon be lost or drastically reduced and the UK will also have to tackle the EU’s proposed 60 billion euro ‘divorce bill’.
The effects of Brexit are being felt. However, we seem to respond more to the little things over economics and logic. Amazingly, it seems people only began to realise what was happening on seeing the 25% price hike on Apple’s App Store. It is only going to get worse. Price increases are being observed and wages rises are not. Inflation is set to exceed 3% and GDP growth is projected to be extremely slow (0.5% at best, zero at worst). The lives of everyday voters are going to get harder but it may take a while for this to sink in. I hope this realisation comes early so that they may be spared the painful sight of even larger gaps in Toblerones.
We stand to lose an enormous amount if there is no deal ready by 2019. This seems impossible and negotiations are not going well. We will revert to WTO rules and be forced to determine our tariffs and quotas with every country. Big changes require thorough negotiations and a lot of time. Time is something the UK does not have. And none of this changes if the Tories win. The opposition is what will change. A loss will almost certainly spell the end of Jeremy Corbyn, and may well result in a heavy Tory majority. And this is the ONLY reason that Theresa May has called a snap election. She has finally realised that this is the only time she could actually win. After May makes a mess of Brexit in 2019, she will have no time to salvage anything before a 2020 election. Even someone as divisive as Corbyn would beat her. Anyone with a brain would have realised this months ago but it seems to have only just dawned on our intellectually-challenged leader. So we have a snap election. And while smart, it is the most pathetic, selfish, and unpatriotic act that she could have pursued.
Silencing those who disagree with you is not democracy. Ignoring economic experts and refusing to disclose so-called ‘clear plans’ is not good governance. Rejecting a Scottish independence referendum because it is “not the right time” then announcing a general election is not good faith. Everything Theresa May says is either contradictory or repetitive as she desperately tries to convince you that she has it all together. To that end, she will repeat the phrases ‘best possible deal’ and ‘strong, stable leadership’ til her vocal cords burn.
European leaders have flat out rejected the notion of parallel talks, or allowing a cherry-picked deal that would make a mockery of the Union. Attempting to bully a Union of 27 nations never seemed like a particularly fruitful effort. May was alone in that corner, trying to put on a brave face and desperately bluff. She fooled no one with her empty bravado, except certain portions of the British electorate. Her claim that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ is absolutely ludicrous, and screams extreme delusion and self-importance. Not having a deal doesn’t mean we get out of paying the EU for leaving, they could just retaliate and further limit our trade. The lack of a deal just means we get absolutely nothing from them, which in May’s eyes, is somehow better than not getting everything. The EU were under no pressure to be nice to May. Her response was that of a petulant child throwing a tantrum, not of a leader.
What makes a leader? The ability to make rational decisions, not be swayed by anything except logic and morality, and display genuine courage. Surprisingly, this leads us to Jeremy Corbyn.
PART II: SOCIAL CORBYNISM
Corbyn is a man who has been arrested for campaigning against apartheid, supported LGBT rights before they were widely acknowledged, and consistently shown astute and level-headed judgement in terms of military involvement, opposing the ultimately failed interventions in Iraq, Libya and Syria. He has shown courage in fighting for his beliefs, no matter how divisive or unpopular they might make him. He has shown integrity and principle and that he actually stands for something, which is far more than can be said for Theresa May.
Corbyn has also taken a stand against the unfair and undemocratic press, determind to break up the monopolies of mainstream media. (three companies control over 71% of national newspaper circulation and 80% of audience share in broadcast media goes to Rupert Murdoch or the BBC). So it’s unsurprising to see opposition to him in the form of extreme character assassination. Corbyn has been inaccurately labelled a terrorist sympathiser, anti-Semite, and ‘unelectable’ economic illiterate. Yesterday, he was even likened to Donald Trump. And all of these accusations can be easily debunked with a bit of research (as they have been here). Corbyn has made powerful enemies in the likes of Murdoch, Phillip Green, and Mike Ashley. These people fear Corbyn’s dedication to change the status quo. He actually stands for something.
Well…apart from when he sits for something. On train floors. To be fair, public transport in the UK is appalling and while I disagree with lying (if that’s what it was), I can forgive using subterfuge to make that point. Corbyn got worse than he deserved, again through an aggressive media eager to embarrass him. Worse lies have been told. Expenses have been claimed, pigs have been inappropriately touched. This incident was a relatively minor one but Corbyn has always been an easy target.
Other criticism centres on his lack of presence compared to classic statesmen, and his ‘socialist’ nature. When exactly did having compassion for your fellow human beings become a weakness? Corbyn’s branch of ‘socialism’ does not mean the ‘communist’ regimes of the world. Those states do not properly follow Marx’s ideas and are actually ‘state capitalist’ societies. Corbyn is pushing to make the welfare state and public sector more dependable, which crafts a society in which everyone can contribute and collectively progress. This means free universal education, a reliable NHS, and not bombing other countries needlessly. This is precisely the opposite of the U.S., as they shell out on overseas military campaigns while ignoring the healthcare and educational needs of their people. It doesn’t seem to be a particularly great system. Corbyn’s form of socialism done right is an absolute positive and anyone demonising him for that admits that they have selfishness and indecency driving them.
Corbyn is also criticised for his appearance. Yes, Corbyn looks somewhat unremarkable and nondescript and yes, his tie is sometimes askew but if that is what your vote hinges on then you are beyond help.
PART III: BREXIT IS BETTER WITH THEREXIT
Brexitists can find comfort in the Tory all-or-nothing policy, and the staunch Remainers have an option in the Lib Dems. Labour are attempting to appeal to both sides with a Brexit that can still be successful with reasonable cooperation with the EU. In doing so, Labour actually have the most pragmatic, pro-Britain approach. So Labour SHOULD appeal to most voters. However, many who have accepted the need to oppose the Tories are unable to look past their negative views of Corbyn, which is one of the most sickening things of all. The politicians who would “not countenance ever voting to make Corbyn Prime Minister” are frankly unfit to be working as public servants. In that comment, John Woodcock underlined his complete inability to see the bigger picture.
This election is not about Corbyn. It is about deciding what kind of nation we are. The will of the people should be respected. But we must ensure that Brexit will not mean economic devastation. We also need a government that has meaningful policies for all. So we need a government that is willing to compromise, accept its mistakes, and forge meaningful partnerships. This is a rare moment where there is a very obvious wrong path in front of us. The Tories have already shown that they are more concerned with consolidation of power and political game-playing. This is not a game.
Here are a few reasons not to vote Tory:
- The national debt is currently at an incredible £1.7 trillion (85.4% of GDP). Plans to return to surplus by 2020 were abandoned by George Osbourne in 2016.
- Jeremy Hunt claimed that in 2016/17, the NHS will receive the sixth biggest funding increase in its history. This is a lie. Accounting for factors such as inflation, it is actually the 28th. (Fun fact: For 2010-11, the first year of the Tory-led coalition, NHS spending decreased for the first time since 1997 and only the third time ever)
- Virgin Care was recently awarded a £700m contract to run some NHS services. Such outsourcing may lead to privatisation.
- There is no ‘Brexit plan’. It is a lie. We are at the mercy of the EU. The government can do nothing but try its best in the negotiations. There is no more to it.
- The ‘backup plan’ is to entice businesses by transforming the UK into a tax-haven.
- Theresa May is routinely bullied by world leaders and was no-one’s choice for Prime Minister. She is wrong to consider herself as the ‘strong and stable leadership’ that the country needs. Count the number of times she has used that phrase this week.
- This election is an attempt to consolidate power. Do not enable them.
Here are some reasons to vote Labour:
- They didn’t want a referendum on the EU purely for political points which is now leading to a Brexit that is akin to economic suicide.
- They want to respect the public mandate with Brexit but not cripple the country by not having any deals in place to cover the losses.
- They don’t want to cut funding to healthcare or education.
- They want to raise the minimum wage to £10 per hour to deal with rising prices and hopefully provide decent standards of living.
- They disapprove of sucking up to racist, misogynistic egomaniacs for trade deals.
Even if you think Corbyn is utterly incompetent, what makes you think Theresa May is not? Between two incompetent people, wouldn’t you rather have the one who at least tries hard and has a conscience? Theresa May has shown she does not give a damn about you. Put your trust in literally anyone else.
I voted Conservative in the last election. I did not think very hard about that and I regret it. I put far more thought into every subsequent decision. I did some reading and voted Remain in the referendum. I read some more and now I think it is obvious how to proceed with Brexit, and crucially, what kind of government should proceed with it. Educating yourself is unbelievably important. You cannot rely on the media. There is rhetoric, slander, and misinformation everywhere. We elected this party and made a mistake. We voted Leave based on lies. We must learn from our mistakes.
With the crippling of our international relations, trade, NHS, education and public sector services to look forward to, as well as the potential breakup of the UK, one thing is clear: If you have a conscience, or a brain, you must tactically vote against the Tories in this election. Ideally, we would vote for a man of integrity. But this isn’t the time for idealism, this is a state of emergency. On that note, I understand the people voting for the Lib Dems, and may do so myself if necessary. We must vote together and show Theresa May what true unity and pursuit of national interest looks like. If we play this right, June could be the end of May, rather than the end of the UK.