Summary: The last few days have been extraordinary in that we have had speeches by both British party leaders which were remarkable in their general level of irrelevance and incompetence. Can the UK not actually do somewhat better? Are there no better leaders around who could actually move us forward?
Last year was a bit of a car crash politically, worldwide. Who knows what’s going to happen to Comrade Trump. Leaving the rest of the world to one side, in the UK things seem to be just as bad with leaders of the two main parties vying for the “most hopeless leader” accolade. First we have Theresa May who gave an inspirational speech on the steps of number 10 shortly after her accession as Prime Minister. Six months later, six months in which she did virtually nothing to move the country in the directions of those brilliantly articulated aspirations (a good grammar school education plus Oxbridge at least guarantees a degree of grammatical coherence). At the Conservative party conference in October another articulate speech that was about as extreme in its right-wing nastiness as anything a Tory leader has produced in a generation (see: https://leftfootforward.org/2016/10/theresa-mays-speech-marks-the-rise-of-a-nightmarish-new-conservative-politics/). Fortunately nothing has come out of that either. And then more again in her January speech about mental health, full of compelling aspiration yet free from almost any money. Again articulate and engaging but utterly without any substance in that it can deliver nothing without new resources. If you, as someone interested enough to read this far, cannot remember very much about what she said (and I’m sure you’ll be struggling) then that is a bad sign. The extent to which she is devoid of ideas of ideas and certainly unable to deliver anything is detailed here: http://outsidethebubble.net/2017/01/09/the-naked-empress-theresa/
And now we have Jeremy Corbyn managing to “relaunch” his position as leader of the Labour Party. Yesterday was an extraordinary combination of muddles. He started by emphasising the way that immigrants have dragged down wages for the poor, a fact that is simply not true (have a look at: https://www.ft.com/content/0deacb52-178b-11e6-9d98-00386a18e39d). There are extensive studies that show that wage reductions in high migration and very low migration areas are essentially the same. Minimum wage regulations largely guarantee that but Corbyn used that non-fact to justify a reduction in the level of immigration while at the same time saying that he thought the current level of immigration was probably about right. He appears to be quite relaxed about the possibility of Brexit while wanting to keep British access to the single market. Does he really think there is a case for leaving the EU while keeping access to the single market and current level of immigration? What does he actually mean by this? Does he actually think about what he is going to say before he says it?
And then he has the idea of putting a cap on the maximum salary an organisation might pay without any idea how it might work or any appreciation that any half decent accountant can make sure that the CEO gets all sorts of non-salary handouts if that is what the board wish. This idea is then roundly rubbished by many of the experts and advisers that the Labour Party already have. There is indeed a case for looking carefully at how inequality is handled but this cackhanded approach to policy-making is simply appalling. Corbyn apparently has vast loyal support among the party members but a time must come when even the most sycophantic accept that the whole party has wandered up a cul-de-sac in a general state of giggling optimism. Something has to be done or the Labour Party will soon turn to dust. Not so much a relaunch as pulling the plug out of the bottom of the boat.
May and Corbyn are supposed to be the leaders of two biggest British political parties, parties which have an impressive history. The UK is still a great nation apparently. Is it not possible to find leaders who can come up with policies and strategies to implement those policies? Leaders can then explain to the nation what they are so the poor bewildered voter has some chance of understanding them? Leaders who make you think the might actually be a way forward?