observations and opinion
Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn are the best thing that ever happened to each other
It is a curious thing when your worst enemy becomes your best friend. You rightly view them with deep suspicion, only to discover that without them, you would be lost.
So it is today, at the highest parapet in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Island, where mortal enemies, locked in combat to the death, have somehow managed to save each other.
The enemies of course, are Conservative Party leader (and Prime Minister) Theresa May and Labour Party opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn. Rarely have two politicians seemed more unlike each other in experience, instinct, style or ideas: May the stern, prow-of-the-ship captain squinting into the darkening horizon; Corbyn the dry, suspicious mutineer ready to toss the officers overboard and steer for paradise.
Yet despite their personal differences and opposing course directions, after the UK election, Corbyn and May find that they have saved each other. That they are, ironically, made for each other.
Jeremy Corbyn has been – and remains – the most dubious, untrustworthy and hazardous leader Labour has ever known. Vaulted to the top by disgruntled leftists, Corbyn’s past and ideas are more extreme than his predecessors and of course, more extreme than most of his fellow citizens. He and his militant tendency crowd would re-nationalize swaths of infrastructure and economic activity in a classic 1950s “means of production belong to the people” orgasm of error. He is also a shady character, with scurvy friendships among Hamas-types. In his short tenure as leader, Corbyn has faced serious caucus revolts and survived on the strength of his party membership popularity. Few in the Labour caucus want to follow him, work for him or even vote for him.
In short, Jeremy Corbyn is the best thing that has ever happened to the British Conservative Party. That of course is why Theresa May called the June 8, 2017 election – because Corbyn is so repugnant to so many people, the Tories could not help but gain by it. And as it turned out, May was exactly right about that. Corbyn was, indeed, the Tories’ best asset in the campaign just concluded.
You know what the Tories’ weakest asset turned out to be, of course: Theresa May.
Ms. May has demonstrated to the British people, and the world, a weird lack of character. A “Remain” leader, she readily dumped her professed beliefs to sew up the party leadership in the new Brexit world. Having promised not to call an expensive, needless, gratuitous and self-serving election, she promptly did so – again, because she saw the promise of personal gain – a forecast huge Tory majority, as voters fled the scary socialism of Corbyn. And most grotesquely, as terrorists attacked the citizenry, Ms. May promised to attack human rights legislation allegedly enabling the bad guys. Read: Muslims.
Ms. May has an amazing capacity to broadcast contempt and disrespect for the intelligence and soul of other human beings. That may be a fair barometer of the Conservative Party these days, but it turned out to be an inaccurate read of the British people.
In the absence of a viable national third party option in the LibDems, British voters confronted two highly unpleasant options on June 8th. So it was that a sizeable portion of the past Tory vote – people who are moderate, well-educated, urban, tolerant and successful – found themselves disgusted with May and unwilling to cast a ballot for her. Some went to the LibDems, but it is equally clear that many (for example, Kensington constituency) decided they had to vote for the only potentially electable alternative – Labour. That they could so safely, of course, was the general consensus that Corbyn was himself unlikely to attract sufficient support to actually make it into government.
Thus, we see how Theresa May has saved Jeremy Corbyn: by calling an election when his internal opposition was dispirited and not yet capable of tossing him out, May ensured Labour was stuck with Corbyn. Yet by being so repulsive herself, May literally drove millions of Brits to return to Labour (whose vote jumped from 30 to 40 percent of the electorate).
At the same time, Corbyn’s extreme unattractiveness served May well. There can be little doubt that Theresa May, having demonstrated that she is both a terrible person and pretty terrible politician, would have lost far more votes if the broad mass of the middle felt they could really trust Corbyn. How many Brits, holding their noses, cast a ballot for the Conservatives because of the Labour leader? Millions. The Corbyn factor, married to a big influx of former UKIP votes, is why the Tories have over 300 seats and not 180.
In the end, we see the most peculiar of results: the Conservatives and Labour both gained the highest percentage of the vote they’ve had in decades, and neither got a majority. The worst Tory leader ever ran the worst campaign and lost only a handful of seats, while the least electable Labour leader ever won more votes than most Labour PMs but still fell 60 seats short of majority.
Consistent with the delusional incompetence of the wide Labour membership, that party’s supporters interpret June 8th as a victorious vindication of their Dear Leader. The election results, while very jolly for Jeremy, may in fact be a worse disaster for Labour than a wipe out would have been. Instead of shopping for the very necessary new leader, Labour has to rally around the sloth-eyed silver spoon socialist. They remain a party waiting to lose. The truth is that Jeremy Corbyn is the reason Labour does not have a majority today and won’t, in the near future.
Unless the Tories stick with May, of course. Only May can save Corbyn, and vice versa.
Over in Toryland, the silence is deafening: no one much is willing to say anything good about Theresa May. Even the most doubtful contenders are writing the words “Prime Minister” in front of their names. There may be sufficient intelligence among the Conservatives to jettison May, but there are three big obstacles to a change of leadership: (1) the Brexit talks are to start in a few weeks and (2) Theresa May probably isn’t smart or decent enough to go and (3) so long as Corbyn heads Labour, the Tories can survive (maybe win) with someone as awful as May.
How can such a Gordian knot of self-serving politics and incompetence be cut? One of the two parties must dump its leader, presenting the British public with a dramatically different, better and more trustworthy standard bearer. Only then will the other party realize that it cannot survive with their current leader, and that they too, owe the British people a better choice.
It seems highly unlikely – nigh on impossible – that Labour will make a change. If they couldn’t muster the guts or brains to do it when behind 20 points in the polls with no election in sight, they certainly won’t figure it out after declaring “victory” with 260-odd seats. Thus does the fate of British politics, and Britain itself, sit on the sloping shoulders of the Conservative Party caucus. Again.
Thoughts and prayers for Britain, indeed.