This time last week we, as a nation, were all going to the voting booths to tick a box. We all came away from that, feeling confident that everything was going to be OK.We went about our day completely unaware of the complete shit storm that was about to kick off.
I’ve already detailed the beginning of this madness. The days that followed, the complete and utter madness of it all. However, I do want to discuss a few things that have happened since then.
Yep. David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn. Now, I’ll hold my hand up and say that I have never, ever, been a fan of the Labour leader, as he currently is. And it was with a certain degree of enjoyment that I heard the Prime Minister tell him bluntly that while Corbyn’s continued ‘leadership’ is in the interests of Cameron and his party, he needs to go.
Now I say ‘leadership’ – I am wondering if that word still applies. Yes, has the job still (at least at the time of writing he did), but can a man truly called a leader if nobody is following? From what I have heard, Corbyn says it is not in the interests of the opposition to the government, nor the country, to become headless when the elected government are is such chaos. While that is a fair point, isn’t it equally not in the interests of the country and his party for Labour to continue to be on the brink of civil war?
There are some of the Corbyn faithful that are saying there has been a plot for months to take him down, that it is a minority of Labour MPs that have done this to the party. To be clear, this minority seem to have grown rapidly. Since Sunday, 20 members of the Shadow Cabinet have either been sacked (1 member) or resigned (19 members), compared to the 10 who stayed. Additionally, Corbyn lost heavily by 172-40 (including his own vote in the 40) a vote of no confidence in his leadership. In other words, two thirds of those he works with closely, and 81% of those who he shares a party with do not trust him to continue. Indeed, it is rather remarkable that the man is still in office at all!!!
At the time of writing, there are no clear indicators as at who could replace him. Indeed, most of the focus is on the Tory Leadership, following David Cameron’s decision to announce his departure. There is now a clear line up of those who seek to replace him, and unlike the Labour leadership hopeful, the winner will not need to win a general election to be Prime Minister.
From left to right, Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb, Former cabinet minister Liam Fox, Justice Secretary Michael Gove, Energy minister Andrea Leadsom and Home Secretary Theresa May.
Interestingly, and I suspect, crucially Boris Johnson is not in the running. He has declared himself out of the race today. I’ll come to this later.
It would seem like a good moment to discuss the manner in which this will be fought, the records of each member. To be fair, I’ll discuss them in order that they appeared on the image earlier. So…
Stephen Crabb. Welsh raised, and unusual for a Tory in some ways, Crabb is something of an unexpected contender to me. Raised in a household that could be fairly described as struggling financially at times, following his mother leaving his father (I understand domestic abuse to be the reason), Crabb has a very different background to the former Eaton schoolboys occupying most of the Conservative benches. It is fair to say that this background may endear him to voters, who could see him as someone who understands both the rich and poor, and could perhaps strike a balance. At 43, his previous positions include Secretary of State for Wales, and Secretary of his current office Work and Pensions. Perhaps a good fit, until you consider his religious beliefs and the effect they have had on his voting previously. Having voted against Gay Marriage, and having ties to organisations that seek to ‘cure’ being Gay (might as well cure a need for oxygen, in the words of Lady Gaga they are born this way), this is perhaps not an ideal person to lead a country that needs to stop intolerance and racism rising, especially in light of the recent tragedy in Orlando. In recent days there have been a massive surge in racist and frankly disgusting behavior towards non-white citizens of the UK, even to those who are not and have never been immigrants. For this reason alone, sorry Stephen but this is not your time.
Next, Dr. Liam Fox. The former Defense Minister, who stood against Cameron in the last leadership vote in 2005, has announced his intention to stand, which has surprised a few. Over the years there have been some scandals surrounding this particular individual, particularly the Expenses Scandal – where he became the member of the shadow cabinet with the highest expenses repayment – and the end to his time as Defense Minister. This came as a result of evidence coming out that he allowed a close friend, the best man at his wedding it seems, to take part in major department meetings and trips WITHOUT SECURITY CLEARANCE and without declaring it officially. It does not take a genius to spot why this might be a national security risk. I’ve put the first two stories to appear on these subjects when I do a google search below.
It will come as little surprise that for this reason, I would hope his campaign will be short, poorly run and never be repeated.
Which brings us nicely to Michael Gove. His supporters describe him as an “intellectual”, one of the great thinkers of the party. Which sounds great, we are facing a complicated situation and having a smart, experienced leader in charge sounds like a great idea. Some might actually call it a novelty. I happen to agree, having someone who fits this description would be ideal. But not Michael Gove. In fact, my reaction to him was more like this:
“OH DEAR GOD NO!!! NO!!! WHAT THE ACTUAL HELL?!!”
A strong reaction perhaps, but given that this guy ran the education department, and successfully upset the majority in it. I work in this sector. I understand fully why he upset them, he angered me too. But that is not the reason I do not believe he should be PM. I am fully aware that he was given the instruction to overhaul what was seen, for good reason, as an education system that was not performing highly. I am smart enough to realise that when a change is made, especially on the scales he was trying, it is probably going to upset someone. But here is the thing. To run a department/government, you need the support and cooperation of those within the department/government. When Gove saw the reaction of the teachers, which included votes of no confidence from the Association of Lecturers and Teachers (ALT), the National Union of Teachers and the National Association of Head Teachers and strikes from 10,000 schools, he tried to force through his policies anyway.
You need to be strong to be Prime Minister. But you also need to be able to get people onside, to get them to see your way of thinking. You can only lead properly if you can get people to follow you, just ask Corbyn! Indeed, in the past Gove has admitted he is not right to be Prime Minister. Several times in fact.
“No, I’m constitutionally incapable of it. There’s a special extra quality you need that is indefinable, and I know I don’t have it. There’s an equanimity, an impermeability and a courage that you need. There are some things in life you know it’s better not to try.” March 2012
“I don’t have what it takes… I have seen David close up on a variety of occasions: he just has an equanimity and a stamina, a sense of calm, good judgment… The pressure of the job is phenomenal and it takes a toll on you and your family and I don’t think I could do that.” March 2014
That does not leave much wriggle room. So why is he now standing? Most had expected him to throw his weight behind Boris, now they are suggesting quite the opposite. I’ll come back to this.
Now I come to Energy minister Andrea Leadsom. A leading voice in the Leave the EU campaign, Leadsom seems a good choice in some ways. She has experience with the finances of Government, having been Economic Secretary to the Treasury, and working with agencies around the world through both this and her current position.
Sound a good start. She even looks like that friendly neighbour you used have, or your favourite aunt. Now there has been suggestion of some tax evasion stuff in the past while working for the treasury, but I do not know enough on the matter to make a judgment. It also is not really relevant. What is relevant is the issues on Brexit she as become so well known and regarded for campaigning on. I’m going to look at two quotes taken from the EU referendum debate on the BBC, shown on 21st of June 2016.
“We have voted against Europe 70 times, and those 70 times we have been outvoted”
A strong statement, but lets be clear. The actual importance of these laws will vary, and some will have little or no impact on the UK. However, here are the stats from Official EU voting records, which show that the British government has voted ‘No’ to laws passed at EU level on 56 occasions, abstained 70 times, and voted ‘Yes’ 2,466 times since 1999, according to UK in a Changing Europe Fellows Sara Hagemann and Simon Hix. The Leave campaign also counted some others, which take the total to 72 ‘no’ votes. That is still not much difference, only about 2% of laws get forced on us against our will. And that is not counting the number of times a law has been altered with British suggestions. So to say we have been outvoted 70 times is perhaps true, but not even close to an accurate representation of the big picture.
“The truth is that 60% of our rules and regulations come from the European Union”.
Figures quoted on the number of laws that actually come from the EU vary from around 10% to 70%, and there is a simple reason for this. It depends on what you mean by EU laws that are in effect in Britain. In 2010, the House of Commons library published a comprehensive analysis of the variety of ways this percentage can be calculated. There are difficulties with all measurements, but it concluded “it is possible to justify any measure between 15% and 50% or thereabouts”.
So why the confusion? If you take the total number of laws that are in effect in Britain, yes that figure will probably reach 70%. However, if you take away the laws that are irrelevant, such as on matters like pesticides used to grow fruit that cannot grow in UK climates, or Danish ships catching specific breeds of fish. Then there is a similar confusion over laws and regulations – such as including a specific type of customs code to match in with the common market.
Then of course there is issue that, when an EU law is made that clashes with a UK one, the EU takes priority because the UK GOVERNMENT MADE LEGISLATION DICTATING IT SHOULD BE SO. Our own government can choose the opposite, or open a debate on any of them.
The point here regarding Leadsom is that she has regularly over simplified issues or made grand statements that, on closer inspection, prove to be at best questionable if not outright lies. She does this to mislead the general public into doing what she wants. This is just being a politician I’m told, but frankly I don’t want a leader who has regularly lied to me (take note Nicola Sturgeon). I don’t want a watered down version of the truth, or a tainted version, every time something major comes up. There is a reason a lot of todays youth feel disengaged with politics in the UK – it is things like this that have done it. It is condescending – I might not have a degree in law or economics but I’m perfectly capable of making a judgment if given the facts.
Which brings us to the final candidate. Theresa May, Home Secretary for 6 years and, if I am honest, my preferred candidate. This is for these reasons.
1 – She has been Home Secretary for half a dozen years, a position of incredible importance, with authority over national security, security services like MI5, immigration and citizenship. 6 years, and no large casualty lists from terror attacks on UK soil. No major embarrassments with the Military Intelligence departments all over the headlines. And given the issues in the middle east, and the uncertanty over Northern Ireland (unlikely we’ll see a return to the troubles but the Good Friday agreement is going to have to be looked at following BREXIT), someone with this kind of background would be useful.
2 – it is a rare thing in this day and age for someone high profile to not be all over the internet and news. Take Boris for example, photographed in ridiculous situations for publicity. She is not flashy, but she gets things done. She rarely appears on TV, but if she does it is usually straight to the point. There is a calm confidence about her, and a feeling she will not get bullied. She even stated as much when she was announcing her candidacy for the role. There is something very British about that. Additionally, despite being high profile, she has not been slaughtered or ridiculed on a regular basis.
3- I’ve already ruled out the other 4 candidates.
This is not to say that she has a perfect record. Earlier this year she faced investigation over the deporting of thousands of students, on the grounds that they had cheated to gain entry to the universities they attended. The investigation was focused on what appeared weak evidence of cheating. In 2011 she was accused of weakening of border controls that let terrorists in – something she clarified as a pilot project and that those running it had gone beyond what she had authorized. A lack of experience here perhaps?
She was also attacked by some in the media, such as Allison Pearson of the Daily Telegraph, over her suggestions that the UK security could be weaker post-Brexit. Personally, I felt at the time the person best placed to make such judgement and speeches was the Home Secretary, but like everything here that’s just my opinion. OK, so I couldn’t really see the EU not working with us on security issues, but I also knew that the issues of immigration in the EU are not as simple as made out, and that Cameron was making changes to the laws regarding borders. And to be frank, it is her job to warn people that these things might be more complicated post Brexit. Things like the European Arrest Warrent etc don’t help us if we are not in the EU.
As a man with allegiances to Liverpool, both the city and football club, I also do not forget that it is under Theresa May’s leadership of the Police forces that the atrocities of Hillsborough finally got cleared up. The powerful speech she made will not be quickly forgotten by anyone who watched. I know she did not trigger the new investigation, but it was under her guidance that the longest legal battle in British history was resolved. Scrapping an old investigation, an investigation that had been set in stone and, regarding the police she was in charge of, cleared them of responsibility for the deaths that day, that took a lot of nerve on her part.
It is this kind of nerve that we need now.
So who will win? I’ve made clear my preference, but the bookies favorites are Theresa May and Michael Gove.
Now, by his own admission, Gove is not someone who is suited to the job. While intelligent, he lacks that something… and is also disliked by many. I, and others, have alluded to the triggering of Article 50 and subsequently leaving the EU as political suicide. It will take a brave man or woman, a leader who knows that one action alone could end their career. So someone who believes they can guide us through it, or someone who does not intend to survive the results. This is my theory, perhaps insane but at worst would make for an excellent House of Cards plot.
Hypothetical situation – Gove runs, takes out most the opposition and wins due to backing from the popular Boris. Gove is PM. Gove triggers Article 50, all hell breaks loose. Gove struggles against it, tries everything, but is buckling. Up steps Boris Johnson, who steps in and fixes things up. Now seen as the hero who put us back together, Boris inevitably becomes PM in future.
Does this sound a bit nuts – yes even to me. But it is politics, and after this week would it surprise anyone?