Supping With The Devil Haters

Anthony McIntyre with his thoughts on the Theresa May election debacle.

"It is permitted in time of grave danger to walk with the devil until you have crossed the bridge," – Bulgarian Proverb ...

But only the devil, not his haters.

For her grave electoral miscalculation, British prime minister Theresa May has in the past 36 hours been drawing down ridicule faster than the speed of sound. The strident MSM criticism of May has nothing to do with the wrongfulness of harsh Tory policy per se. Toryism holds that the way to attack poverty is by creating more of it. May is the target of sound and fury because of bad predictions, not bad policy. 

Such is the brouhaha that May, if she were the sort of person who felt apologetic, might offer contrition by appearing at the House of Commons despatch box wearing a dunce’s hat. Rarely, if ever has a British Prime Minister turned up on the winner's podium wearing the attire of the mourner.

Excluding for now the Law of Lazarus, her long-term future as Tory leader and British Prime Minister is in serious doubt. She is being lambasted as a fool for having made what turned out to be an undeliverable strategic evaluation, followed by a series of calamitous tactical errors. Strategically, she called a general election aimed at an all round shoring up of the Tory hegemony. Sensible enough. Tactically the measures employed to secure the desired strategic outcome were hopelessly inept.

Despite the ex post facto volume of discourse about her risky venture, not too many in the MSM were saying such at the time. Then, she was hardly wrong to go for the election. She was streets ahead in the opinion polls. It seemed a master stroke that would achieve multiple objectives in one decisive move: more than decimate Labour; colonise the Ukip constituency; substantially increase the Tory majority to the point where a five-year term was virtually guaranteed; and enhance her negotiating hand in the Brexit talks. 

When she sprang her announcement of a June general election there was little to indicate that it would end as it did. She was odds on favourite to secure a substantial and comprehensive victory. Had May held off and possibly in the wake of Brexit negotiations felt compelled to go to the country only to sustain an even worse defeat than Thursday's, she would be facing the accusation that she should have gone in June 2017; and that by not doing so she failed to see the optimum strategic moment in which to entrench a five year term, one party government not dependent on the type of support Israeli leaders find themselves depending on – the rabid religious right.

With the Labour Party in seeming disarray May’s move made sense. The prospect of inflicting on Corbyn's Labour Party what Thatcher had done to the hapless Michael Foot's Labour in 1983 was alluring. May would not have it said of her, in that memorable Abba Eban phrase, that she never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity. 

She could not have foreseen that her strategy of collapsing the Ukip vote would have resulted in the bulk of that party’s voters transferring to Labour: surely such people move to the right not the left. Most crucially, she was not to know-and few seemed to tell her regardless of what they now say - that cometh the hour cometh the Corbyn. The Blairites who favour a Tory Party called Labour had been such an impediment across the path of Corbyn, that the Tories must have felt “job done” before it had even started. With so many career politicians in the Labour parliamentary party enthusiastically cheered on by the Guardian, Corbyn seemed reduced to making the sound arguments without ever winning them. 

Then "events, dear boy, events" made their intervention. May handed Corbyn the law of unintended consequences and he transformed his fortunes with event after event. From a cameo role he emerged to become the star of the show, closing the gap in the opinion polls and working wonders for Labour's image.

The politics of campaign performance rather than the politics of pre-election promises and policies did it for Corbyn. Until he took to the hustings reaching an audience with a message not filtered by the Guardian few seemed to be listening. Then the great constituency of Slumberland awakened and a cavalry of young people rode over the hill.

It was a monumental achievement for the beleaguered and maligned Labour leader. So much so that the person who in real time lost the election, is very much regarded as being the winner in a contest where the formal winner gets to wear a dull and cracked crown.  

How long the DUP infused concoction being put together by May holds its taste is anybody’s guess. She has in her haze and daze looked for any port in a storm and saw one spouting a bigger union Jack than she will have seen anywhere on “the mainland” and ordered full speed ahead to have her engine room refuelled with Renewable Heat Incentive, courtesy of the pirates she is now parleying with. 

Down the line if she manages to survive long enough and calm her seas she might try feeling out the currently ideologically hostile Liberal Democrats. Their opposition to Brexit will make any marriage a slow affair. But the Lib Dems have shown an aptitude for betraying everything to get their jaxies on ministerial seats. The greatest dissolvent of ideological principle yet developed is "Ministeritis" and there is no short supply of it in the Lib Dems who may, like the Irish Labour Party, feign that they would be irresponsible not to curb the excesses of a right wing government: for the good of the nation  and all that guff. Having been there before, they know the drill.

Improbable, even imponderable. Still, it would provide more stability and longevity than her alliance with the devil haters.


  1. My office yesterday:
    American Colleague : "Don, Who are the DUP?"
    Me : "You remember Ian Paisley, the 'never,never,never" preacher who hated gays and catholics? He founded it"
    Colleague : "Oh"

    The papers make a great read today, now its 'unimaginable' that Britian will leave the single market after the vote. I called this before hand on here, I said this vote can only throw up more examples like Richmond (which was presented as an anti-Brexit vote). And now the election is being sold as another vote on Brexit (why didnt the LibDems or SNP do better then?). This is a real short sighted farce, they dont even pretend that votes are worth anything now.

  2. Call it you did indeed DaithD.

    I still think you got it wrong but you certainly called it.

  3. Fair enough AM, here is another date to keep in mind (and I dont know how widely known this is) every bank in the UK (even foreign owned) has a meeting with the BOE on July 14th. They need to present 3 plans to them for different scenarios for a Brexit outcome. Because the implementation of such plans needs to begin before the 2 year timeframe (because to change country to France for example will take 6-12 month in clearing their regulators), they are all going to implement the only scenario they can plan for, that is leaving the UK, and they wont be waiting for the end of the talks.Watch for changes in tone in the papers in weeks after that when the Govt realise they need to act sooner, before the end of negotations with the EU.

  4. DaithiD,

    and you still think they will reverse the referendum result? By what mechanism do you think?

  5. AM, they will not implement a Brexit as envisioned before voting, the Govt. leaflets that cost millions to print said "what you vote, we will implement".I cant predict the mechanism by which they will do it.But,I saw Caroline Lucas (Green MP) stating in her victory speech she expects another vote on the Brexit terms in parliament before its finalised. Two years ago I thought they would raise the spectre of Russia to frighten people (this card was perhaps held back for US election instead).

  6. DaithiD,

    is there a Brex-sans-it?

    Half in half out?

    They are not beyond cobbling something together but I have the feeling that Europe wants to make an example of them.

  7. AM, the fastest growing political movements across Europe are hostile to the EU, so I agree its not in their interests to have a flourishing UK post exit. Saying that 40% tarrifs on staples like beef which is imported from Ireland means alot of companies will not want such a punishing separation as it will hurt the EU too (if leaving comes to pass). I think by soft Brexit they mean remaining in the single market which means free movement of capital , but also free movement of people, which was a primary issue for 'Leavers'. I dont think the last election will suffice in them reversing Brexit, but its a neccessary first step in that process. The end scenario I imagine will have 'people' praising the MP's for showing leadership in remaining in the EU. We will cheer them on for doing it.

  8. The real issue is that we keep having "unforeseen" circumstances happen - very few saw Brexit succeeding and even fewer saw May being reliant on the DUP to hang-on to power - which of course means there are no plans or blueprints for dealing with such unforeseen circumstances and so everything is being made up as it goes along.

    Whether Brexit happens hard, soft or not at all - I personally don't think the EU will ever be the same again - the former eastern bloc countries are finding their voices and starting to question a lot of the dogma being forced upon them by the France/Germany/Brussels bureaucrat class and Brexit (regardless of which side you are on) has at least prompted the start of a well overdue debate about where the EU is going and where it should go.

    On a side note - perhaps given what has happened in the US and now with Brexit & the latest UK elections - polling should be banned forever as it really is finger in the wind stuff - (unless of course it comes to the 6 counties where you don't need any polling data to predict the outcome) and maybe polling is part of the reason why alternative scenarios to the "conventional wisdom" are not explored and planned for in advance.

  9. @jgr 33n who wrote " May being reliant on the DUP to hang-on to power"

    Enjoy a light-hearted look at the DUP-ing of the British Conservative Party!!

  10. Cometh the hour cometh the Corbyn, a great piece AM it's up on Organized Rage tomorrow. there is a jewel in every paragraph.

  11. Organized Rage,

    thanks for reproducing

  12. Enjoyed that AM. I see that Drumcree is back on the agenda as one of the demands by the Orange Order through their DUP colleagues to be put on the table for May to OK this year.
    I think Corbyn will form a minority government before the weeks out....Labour seem to be very confident of doing so. Heath held on for a few days after his similar disastrous election bluff call and then Labour formed a minority government.
    What is interesting is that this last few days have laid bare to the English people what exactly we have to put up with. If Labour doesn’t form a government then I look forward to the DUP being heavily exposed by the English media and they will go after them......Deputy Dodds and the bigots (Arlene isn’t at Westminster so she will be relatively safe) will come under their scrutiny and they will not be able to swipe it aside with threats of libel as they do here.....wait until you see the political talk shows....Jesus are they in for a nasty ride!

  13. Thought this was an interesting article on the media's changing attitude to Corbyn:

  14. Niall,

    it is within the DUP's grasp to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

    They can play it long and shrewdly or they can demand that May wear a sash and scream Kick The Pope.

    Dodds is shrewd. And they don't have Wille McCrea there to sing hymns. They might push an open door by seeking the dropping of prosecutions against state forces. That would play well in both parties and if the DUP manages to move along on those type of issues, the thing might last longer than anticipated.

    The problem for the Tories is that no matter how good it might look in the future in terms of the public mood they will not have the confidence to go to the country again after what happened last time.

    By elections might decide a lot. But rather than vote against the government people might vote Tory to allow them to escape the DUP.

    As it stands today, the fool's money has to be on the new arrangement lasting the full term.

  15. Queen's speech has been wrtten...OFF. Absolte headless chicken in No.10

  16. I never knew The Queens speech is written on a goat skin parchment ! It sounds occult to me, like honouring Baphomet in a coded way.

  17. Daithi D,
    Apparently the goat skin can last for 500 years and that's why they use it!

    Yes Dodds as well as Donaldson, who was pushing the exemption of prosecutions against British military personnel, are shrewd players but first and foremost they are Orangemen and the Orange Order has publicly stated that they expect Drumcree to be resolved in their favour as part of the deal.
    Just like May the DUP have to appease their base. It's not all roses in the Downing Street garden as there are Tories who can’t stand the DUP and realise that reliance on and association with them to remain in power could be seriously detrimental to the party in the long run. Lie down with the dog come up with the flea’s syndrome. This makes the Tory's look empty, in complete disarray and pathetically desperate plus Mays position is precarious to say the least. Trying to ride this out is silly and a lot of Tories realise this.
    Being in opposition is a detestable position to be in - powerless as any politician will tell you - but being held to account by another party while in government is something completely different. The LibDems didn’t pose the same problem to Cameron but in this case no-one likes the tail to wag the dog. I just don’t see it lasting.
    The aspect of this relationship is that when it does go pear-shaped and it will, what will that do to the Unionist Tory relationship? Although having said that they were sworn enemies after The Anglo-Irish Agreement but seem to patch things up in the interim!
    I just think there is too much at risk in the long run to overwrite the short-term gains.

    But we’ll see. Let us sit back and enjoy the ride!

  18. Niall, but the virgin blood for ink ruins the longevity explenation?

  19. DaithiD
    No way, it adds to it...they've been doing this virgin blood thing for centuries so it must work!!!!!!