TIO: I invite my readers to join me, in the realm of aa brief hypothetical. Imagine that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party had won 2017, British General Elections.
Such a reality was well within grasp, and perhaps a great probability. A few hundred votes here and there, and now they are all living under a Labour government. The specifics of the alternate universe do not really matter— just keep imagining that Jeremy Corbyn, is the British Prime Minister.
In sync with recent developments, just in the last few months, Corbyn’s cabinet has been crushed by dozens of resignations. Followed by a UN report, that has condemned the UK’s growing poverty and described the government as being ‘in a state of denial’ about the crisis. And, that his cabinet is the first in the history of the nation, to be found in contempt of British Parliament.
And then, on top of all that, two days ago, his proposed Brexit deal had suffered the most cockeyed, the most humiliating, Parliamentary defeat in nearly a century.
If all this had happened to a Jeremy Corbyn government, what would have been the national reaction? Perhaps, more effectually, what would the reaction of the press would have been like?
How many newspapers do you think, would run front-page editorials calling for his resignation? I have a feeling that all of them would have done so. They would strike different tones, and they would support different replacements, but every paper would be repeating that old David Cameron line: ‘For Heaven’s sake man, go!’
In this hypothetical world…would Jeremy Corbyn still be Prime Minister?
No. He would not.
Let us now step outside of our imagination. Then, of course – Jeremy Corbyn isn’t Prime Minister, Theresa May is. Still. Somehow! Did it matter?
And, of course, each of the above things that happened to her and her government in the last six months.
Since the 2017 election, Theresa May has fielded thirty-two resignations – roughly one every 2 weeks, over 20 of them in the last six months. Her Home Secretary resigned in disgrace over her lying to the Parliament…only to be re-appointed to the cabinet, in a different position, just six months later.
In November 2018 Professor Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, had released a report on poverty in the UK.
The statistics, however, continue to provide very unpleasant reading:
Fourteen million people, that is a fifth of the population, live on the borderline of poverty. Four million of these are more than 50% below the poverty line, and nearly 1.5 million are unable to afford basic essentials. The widely respected Institute for Fiscal Studies has predicted a 7% rise in child poverty between 2015 and 2022, and various sources have predicted child poverty rates of, an all-time high of 40%.
More conspicuous, perhaps, are the parts that are directly critical of the government, and say that:
The British Government has remained determinedly in a state of denial. Even while devolved authorities in Scotland and Northern Ireland are frantically trying to devise ways to ‘alleviates ’, or in other words counteract, at least the worst features of the Government’s benefits policy, Ministers have insisted that all is well and running according to plan.
The costs of austerity program have fallen disproportionately upon the poor, women, racial and ethnic minorities, children, single parents, and people with disabilities. The changes to taxes and benefits since 2010 had been highly regressive, and the policies have taken the highest toll on those least able to bear this.
The government says everyone’s hard work has paid off, but according to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, while the bottom 20% of earners will have lost on average 10% of their income by 2021/22 as a result of these changes, top earners have actually come out ahead.
Imagine if a UN Survey Report had written these words about a Labour government: Would they have been so blurred? Would you be reading about them here? Or would they be splashed across the front pages of the Times, Telegraph, Mail and Sun?
On December 4th Theresa May’s government was found to be in contempt of parliament over its refusal to publish Brexit legal advice. To hammer home the impact of this: it is the first time, ever, that a sitting government has been found in contempt of the British Parliament.
Just imagine that a Corbyn government had been the first ever, to be found in contempt of parliament. How long would you expect his career as Prime Minister to last? How many editorials calling for his head would there be?
And so we come to the Brexit deal vote of January 15 of this year. A defeat margin of over 230 votes. The heaviest defeat of a government bill since the 1920s. The government bill was not just ‘not passed’. It was shredded into pieces, set on fire and buried in a pile of manure on the unconsecrated ground.
Theresa May’s ‘best possible deal’ is dead. Gone. Over. But Theresa May has soldiered on!
Each of these failures is enough to bring down a government. Governments of the past have crashed and burned over far less. The famous incident, often-cited, during the last few days, is that of Neville Chamberlain resigning as PM after winning a vote, because the 80 vote margin of victory was far less than his majority.
Theresa May’s government does have a strong argument for being the worst in the history of our democracy. So why was it allowed to continue?
The Conservatives are hamstrung by the situation. They cannot replace May, because a new unelected PM justifies Labour’s calls for a general election. They have nailed their colors to mast on the Mary Rose (the carrack-type War ship of Tudor King Henry VIII).
They have chosen their hill to die on, and it’s a pileup of Theresa May’s failed deals, broken promises and resignation letters, strewn with the bodies of rejected benefit claimants. Their position, though contemptible, is understandable. They have but no choice.
The media, however, are far worse. Even gruesome. They are more than complicit in this. And, they are a vital component. A driving force. Their selective reporting hides the embarrassing incompetence of the cabinet. Where are the editorials calling for May’s resignation? Where the notionally ‘left wing’ or ‘progressive’ journalists demanding an immediate general election?
They are nowhere to be seen. The media hold their fire whilst Theresa May stands out in the open with a solid red target on her chest. Perhaps, a sitting duck. A very small barrel full of very large fish. She begs to be put out of her misery, but the media had let her limp along.
Corbyn is right to refer the Conservative ‘zombie government’. It is dead. A construct. Propped up and posed by an establishment terrified of the only alternative. They have turned our politics into a farce. A cross between House of Cards and Weekend at Bernie’s. A crude embarrassment!
So I ask again: Why is Theresa May still the Prime Minister?
The answer is very simple: Because she has to be….because the only alternative is Jeremy Corbyn, and the establishment has shown they will do anything and everything in their power to stop that from happening again!
Copy Edited By Adam Rizvi