Monday, 15 May 2017

Why I won't be voting for Mrs May

The nickname "Submarine May", coined by David Cameron, is one well earned. While it is refreshing to have a PM who only seeks media attention when she has something substantive to say, it turns out that isn't very often. Her premiership is marked by a total lack of leadership. Nearly a year on from the referendum and we still have little to go on beyond Brexit means Brexit mantras.

For sure we have had her twelve point Brexit manifesto, but no actual substance as to how these things will be achieved and no acknowledgement of the consequences. Along the way we get certain clues as to how her government thinks, which isn't at all encouraging. David Davis occasionally alludes to the inevitable compromises we will have to make but from his body language we can see that this is a man unencumbered by detail and there is a lofty and dismissive air to him typical to the Tory breed.

The impression I get is that this government still thinks there is a "walk away" option and the very threat of it has Eurocrats cowering in terror. There is a misplaced confidence that WTO rules alone are a workable plan B and this is stopping them treating Brexit with the necessary seriousness. One also gets the impression that they are treating this as a showdown rather than an adult negotiation over the future of the country. This will lead to crossed swords over issues which are hardly important and it will threaten the process unnecessarily. Reckless and negligent.

In this we should remind ourselves that the Tory party is operating in a bubble of unreality. They have pruned all the pragmatists and experienced figures from the civil service and have surrounded themselves with yes men. It is widely believed that the proposed repeal bill resolves issues around conformity and that the process is fairly straightforward. Wrong. It is by far the most substantial legal undertaking of the last century.

On top of this we are still being told that they expect to be able to settle the matter within two years. This tells us one of two things. Either they sill have a woefully inadequate understanding of the issues - which is worrying, or they are simply lying. For all our sakes I hope it is the latter, but if it is the latter then at some point this government is going to drop a bombshell.

There are obvious trade-offs between "taking back control" and maintaining present levels of trade. A compromise has to be made. In this we are left in no doubt that this government intends to end freedom of movement. That means in order to secure a trade agreement as close to how it stands now, there will have to be a sacrifice. A number of sectors will likely be thrown to the wolves to make this happen. I fully expect the fishing industry will ultimately be betrayed. At some point in the near future the wall or Tory conceit will come crashing down.

Then as we look at the politics of this, we do not know which way Mrs May will jump. There is a suggestion that this election will give May the hand she needs to de-fang her Brexit extremists but this is more a political hunch and is not evidenced by anything substantive. May has thus far shown herself to be easily led and badly advised. Then there is the Tory party itself. Tory moderates have meekly retreated from the field and all the while the Brexit back benchers occupy an entirely different dimension, let alone galaxy.

Worse still, this government more than any other in living memory has shown itself impervious to new information. There is an impenetrable ideological firewall surrounding the government and it is keenly policed by the Brexit stormtroopers. Thus we are entering the process with an arrogant, aloof and foolish administration. Such political and technical naivety would be bad at the best of times. Right now it is inexcusable. The slow bleed of EU trade has already started.

For these reasons I am unable to lend my vote to the Tories. I cannot give them my consent. Since it will be a cold day in hell before I vote Labour and there is no value in voting for Lib Dems, my only real decision is to how I spoil my ballot paper. Should I add a "none of the above" box or simply draw a picture of a fish with a machine gun. Something to keep the vote counters amused.

We can pretend that there are other considerations but in reality, Brexit is the only thing about this election that matters. The promise of strong and stable leadership is a hollow one. What we need is pragmatic and intelligent. This we will not get from our political class. The only merit in having this election is the opportunity to say "not in my name".

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