Saturday, 10 June 2017

Reasons To Be Cheerful

Movie: Brexit, The Movie  starring Meryl Streep.

  Main theme. Titles roll as... A ministerial car with its train of motorcycle outriders sweeps in triumph along the route from Buckingham Palace, passing hordes of cheering crowds waving Union Jacks and throwing flowers into its path.  The car turns into Downing Street where the door opens and we see Theresa May emerge with her husband Philip, waving and greeting the adoring throng. She steps to the microphone, a hush falls over the crowd, and she calmly announces that following her landmark election victory, giving her an unprecedented 200 seat majority, she'd be off to Brussels to negotiate the Hardest of Brexits her adoring public have voted for. To a cacophony of cheers and clicking cameras she graciously disappears into Number 10.

Cut to: Suburban living room, day. A glum faced Jeremy Corbyn, now former Labour leader, watches the live broadcast on his television and wipes away a tear. Where did it all go wrong? 

Cut to: Drawing room of Bute House, Edinburgh. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon drains her glass of Glenlivet and glares balefully at the reinvigorated Prime Minister preening on her television screen. On the wall behind her, the Election Night constituency map bristles with a forest of little blue flags. On the floor below, the trampled remains of the little yellow SNP flags they have replaced. With her party and cause so comprehensively trounced her position is no longer tenable. How did it all go wrong? She takes up her pen and scratches her signature on her resignation letter.


OK, that didn't happen. But that was the script the Tories had written and aren't you glad the electorate didn't fall into line? We have a lot to be glad about this weekend.

When I watched Theresa May announce the snap election back in April I felt sick to my stomach. It's taken me until now to work out exactly why I had that emotional reaction. The results in Scotland have been distressing, but when we consider the circumstances they were better than the unionist parties planned.

From the outset the SNP were on the back foot. With the mandate for a second indyref on the table there would be no avoiding the issue in this election campaign. Unionist parties talked of little else, highlighting it relentlessly in their flyers. 'Send a strong message to Nicola Sturgeon - NO SECOND REFERENDUM'. So, like it or not, this would be a de facto referendum, but with the disadvantage that Brexit negotiations have not even begun yet and nobody knows what Brexit will look like, or even if it will ever happen.

Yet despite that the SNP still won the election. The message the unionists so badly wanted us to send to Nicola Sturgeon turned out to be 'We DO want a second referendum'.

Not that the loss of 21 seats doesn't sting a bit, or even a lot. I'm not going to theorise about which groups voted for who and why, there's plenty of that elsewhere. What I will say is the expectation that the SNP could come close to repeating its phenomenal 2015 win was completely unrealistic. 

In 2015 we saw a 'perfect storm' for the SNP. The indyref was only a few months past, feelings on the issue still ran high. Expectations about the now discredited 'Vow' and subsequent Smith Commission gave the SNP a unique selling point of 'holding Westminster's feet to the fire' in delivering new powers. We'd seen the departure of Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont, damagingly complaining about the UK party treating Slab as a 'branch office'. Bitterness about Labour's role in Better Together, their uncharismatic new leader Jim Murphy, all contributed to the collapse of its vote. In stark contrast to the incumbents the new SNP candidates seemed young and energetic, a breath of fresh air. And the attractive new SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon wiped the floor with her rivals in televised debates.

This time round the odds were not so favourably stacked. Once bitten, twice shy, the unionist parties pulled out all stops to make damn sure they regained some ground, with not a little help from a sympathetic media and underhand tactical voting. Issues were helpfully muddied as the SNP was constantly attacked on irrelevant Holyrood policy rather than UK wide issues.  

Yet, despite the weight of all that, they still returned a very respectable 35 MPs. And given the hung parliament those 35 will likely wield more influence than the 56 in the previous parliament. Brexit still looms and May will find it harder to get parliamentary approval for whatever deal she brokers. Deals will be offered, concessions will be demanded. That's not a bad place for the SNP to be.

So, a day on from the election result I'm finding reasons to be cheerful that May was denied her landslide. And if the SNP lost theirs, well maybe that was a price worth paying.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Mystic Sandra's Election Forecast

So the Election Day countdown begins. Are you getting excited yet? Or even mildly curious about the eventual outcome of this very peculiar election campaign where no two polls seem to agree about anything?

Well you should be. Because this is likely to be a defining moment in British history. In years to come, college lecturers yet unborn will  scribble "8 June 2017" onto whiteboards before their comatose classes and circle the date so emphatically their magic markers will squeak in protest.

"This day," they will say, "was the Beginning of the End."

Or not. Who knows? Certainly not the polls.

You'd have thought with such a disastrous campaign Treeza Mayhem would have blown her chances of being returned with the landslide majority she clearly anticipated. Not many prospective PMs have U-turned on their manifesto promises before the actual election. Mind you, not many prospective PMs had the dumbfuckery to put such suicidal policies as the Dementia Tax in the bloody manifesto to start with. It really is a corker. After half a century of telling the electorate they weren't worth a tuppenny damn unless they owned their own home, after assiduously encouraging them to scrape and starve to pay off a fucking mortgage just to live up to that ideal, after assuring them it was all worth it because they'd have something to pass on to their loved ones when they were gone. After all that up they pop without a word of warning and whip the old Homestead out from under their devoted core voters to pay their social care bill. And even more astonishing was May's clueless reaction to the predictable horror with which this proposal was met. Such a monumental level of political ineptitude has caused some to suspect she's deliberately hobbling her own chances to get out of the poison chalice of Brexit negotiations.

So, you'd have thought she'd be toast by this time. But tory voters are nothing if not resilient. Most of them would gladly pay the dementia tax and sell their own offspring into slavery to keep Corbyn out of Downing Street. So with the polls giving us no clue we can only turn to the ancient art of scrying, which is what I did.

First up is the traditional crystal ball. I'm getting ...someone with blonde hair. Boris for PM? No, high heels as well. So who does that leave? Anna Soubry? Esther McVile is standing too, I'm told. Or maybe that mop haired prat whatsisname...Michael Fabricant.  Shit, I'm not very good at this. Maybe because my crystal ball is less a crystal ball and more the side of a chrome kettle. 

Never mind, there's always the tarot cards. First card up is the Devil.  Hmm. Could be anyone. Although he does look a bit like Treeza doing one of her girning faces. According to my Dummies Guide that means greed and attachment to worldly wealth. Definitely a tory then. Next card is the nine of swords...the nightmare card. Chances of a tory increasing. Bloody hell, I don't think I want to look at another one.

Ah, well. If all else fails try the tea leaves. I've got two lumps, one big and one small. Could be UK leaving the EU? Or Scotland leaving the UK? Or maybe I should just stick to tea bags in future.

So, as you can see fortune telling is no easier to interpret than the polls. But in the spirit of blagging something to finish this blog, here is..

Mystic Sandra's Prediction for the 2017 General Election 
A tory win, but with a majority reduced to one. Before tory central office have popped the first bottle of champers Mayhem will be unceremoniously dumped and replaced by someone much more charismatic like Boorish or Hammond or the Downing Street cat. Such will be the bitter in-fighting in the leadership contest we could even end up with someone outrageous like Baroness Mone or Roof Davidson, neither of whom are MPs but by this point nobody would care. After six months of clusterfuck u-turns and a No Deal Brexit disaster the country will be plunged into eye watering recession. The social care crisis and Dementia Tax issue will be solved overnight as greedy relatives bump off granny and make her into soup as they can no longer afford to buy Campbell's cockaleekie which by now costs £1000 per can. Brexiteers will be lynched and hung from street corner lamp posts and the furious masses will rise up and storm the gates of Downing Street demanding yet another election which will see Comrade Corbyn sweep to a landslide victory before he is assassinated by infuriated Blairites and replaced by an iPad.