Take Back Control

Last night I went to bed exhausted. Exhausted by the zombie Tory Party and its infinite capacity for slapstick. A party that turned a Commons lobby into a fight night, with the Deputy Prime Minister allegedly threatening to rip one reluctant MP “a new arsehole”. A PM sprinting through the corridors after the Chief Whip so fast that she lost her security detail. It’s too much for poor, punch drunk voters like me.

So today it started all over again. The celebrity lettuce on the front of The Daily Star, the traditional daily visit to the Prime Minister by the Chairman of the 1922 Committee, the ritual humiliation of the head of the executive by a sacking in the rain outside No 10. No wonder Larry legged it for the day.

The country can’t keep going through this endless torture by Tories, and their boundless capacity for ever more bizarre outrages. From Chillaxed Dave’s careless calling of a referendum for which no plans were made in advance, through Theresa May’s desperate, doomed bid to save the party she loved even at the expense of the country, to Johnson’s manic clown with a chainsaw act, to Truss, the charmless, clueless ideologue who laughed as she sacked people, this party must now be over. No more.

Yet as I write these thoughts another ‘election’ is being planned, the details made up on the hoof (that always goes well), and in a week we’ll have a new PM chosen by the same people who chose Truss a few weeks ago, only this time via a eminently hackable online vote. And who will stand? One of the failures, the disgraced Johnson, the only PM to be fined for breaking a law he had made whilst in office, thinks he’s the front-runner. It’s a joke.

An international joke. The markets aren’t laughing, but the media is. German TV News has been enjoying the fruity language of the Mother of Parliaments, while the New York Times has followed with interest the fate of The Star’s salad. Even the blameless bean curd has been in the spotlight thanks to yesterday’s Home Secretary who dreams of putting tofu on a flight to Rwanda. She’s standing for PM, by the way. Again.

It’s about 100 years since the Liberal Party ceased to be a party of government in a U.K. in which a distorting electoral system makes the Conservative Party the almost inevitable governing party. Whatever decline, perceived or real, that Britain has suffered in that time is down to the party that nearly always occupies No 10.

The things that used to make the party, to coin a phrase, ‘strong and stable’ have long gone. From party of business to party of ‘fuck business’ (Boris Johnson’s words), from the party of the aspirant, to party of the old and the resentful. Only the press, itself no longer the power it was, can be relied on to bang the drum for this party.

It’s not even a real political party in any meaningful sense. Riven by factions that span the gamut of the right from near anarchist libertarianism to nativist authoritarianism, it’s hard to discern any coherence of thought or belief in the modern party.

But the greatest recent damage it has done is to Britain as a democracy. Far from ‘conserving’ our democratic institutions, it’s taken an axe to them. The Brexit referendum, technically ‘advisory’, was turned by sleight of hand into the ultimate democratic mandate, higher than parliamentary, or representative democracy. The plebiscite is binary, with a winning and a losing side, and that’s it, game over. Whilst representative democracy has checks and balances, government and opposition, both legitimate. Mandates are finite and have to be renewed. Majority choices are balanced by minority rights. The Tories have nudged our political culture towards a plebiscitary model, which is how the party has ended up way to the right on the international political spectrum of democratic parties.

Above all, contemporary Toryism is chaotic, incapable of coherent government. Power is its drug, a near corrupt craving for trappings, baubles, and, yes, riches. There’s little sense that many of them have any innate instinct for true public service. Those that do were mostly expelled by Johnson.

And so we cannot, surely, go through another Tory leadership lottery without a general election? it would be outrageous. A further degradation of our political system. We must demand that they bend to the legitimate public desire for a meaningful say over who governs us, and how.

We’re all exhausted. But sorry, Brenda from Bristol, we need “another one”. A General Election. Before Christmas.

One thought on “Take Back Control

  1. Thanks Yasmin for yet another penetrating think piece. One problem in holding this lot to proper account is that the chaos since 2016 has been so extreme that it is virtually impossible to unpick the narrative of events, leaving people bewildered and inarticulate. The Supreme Court would strugle to make sense of it if it were a case of breach of contract – which it might very well be! The Tories have stolen political power on a false promise. A second hand car dealer would be ashamed at the sheer brass neck of them.
    Keep on writing!

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