Monday, 3 October 2016

The Devil's tunes. And his great singers in the Tory Party

The devil, they say, has the best tunes. In the Tory Party, he’s lined up some fine singers.

I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll be saying it again: there’s been a change of gear between David Cameron and Theresa May. Cameron wasn’t much good at what he did, but he was above all one of the laziest of politicians. He preferred to make up policy on the hoof, wandering unbriefed into meetings with other leaders, as he did when he decided to veto the use of EU premises for discussions about the Euro. It was only afterwards that he discovered that he didn't have the authority. But reacting's so much easier than thinking things through. 

Because it was far too difficult to deal with the divisions over Europe within his own party, he took the easy route of calling for a referendum on the issue.

And, because they found it too difficult to put together a good argument in favour of the EU, he and his pal and Chancellor George Osborne simply resorted to scare tactics – “vote Brexit and we’ll need a harsh emergency budget to save the economy from collapse” – which just got up everyone’s noses.

They lost. I’d claim that Britain itself lost. And Cameron and Osborne lost their jobs.

May: skilled singer of even the most devilish tunes
May’s not like that.

She knows what needs to be said. So in recent days she’s been stealing some of clothes, just enough to attract some wavering voters without actually committing to anything like compassionate behaviour. She has, for instance, softened the attack on the poor and sick that the previous regime had been running for six years, by not demanding that people with long-term illnesses and no hope of improvement submit to regular check-ups. Compared to what was happening before, it sounds like a humane measure, though it means not a penny more going into benefits.

She keeps piling it on. She talks about working in the interests of everyone. She even got her Chancellor of the Exchequer, successor to Osborne, to slacken austerity: the government will borrow money to stimulate some building work. Only £2bn, pretty insignificant when government is already borrowing £1.3bn a week, but it sounds good. Without costing much.

So much for what the Tories say. But May’s just as good at not saying things. For instance, she’s kept very quiet about her exact position on what kind of Brexit she favours. She has a legitimate argument for being so coy: she’s going into negotiations with the EU and sees no reason to reveal her hand in advance.

But doesn’t it feel tremendously convenient that her reticence means she can keep quiet on an issue which continues to torment her party? Let the dust settle, she seems to be thinking. “When tempers have cooled, and when I have something to say about the negotiations,” I suspect she tells herself, “I’ll get off the fence. When doing so does me, and the Tory Party, least damage.”

Oh, I wish we too could learn to behave with such supreme self-control. But then the angels don’t have the best tunes. Or the most skilful singers.


Anonymous said...

Devils with ambition and a positive vision, angels without wings or vision who only have negative thoughts. There was a time when the angels did have wigs and ambition but these days angels don't like to talk about their pass, all past sucess is shameful to them.

David Beeson said...

Amen to that. If you'll excuse my blasphemy