… We will probably know the result of the British General Election 2017. We here in ISME aren’t holding our breath on the result, because frankly, the return of Mrs May or the election of Mr Corbyn to 10 Downing Street won’t help us much in Ireland. The UK election has been about almost anything bar the single most important thing to happen to the UK since World War II: Its decision to part ways with Europe.
Mrs. May’s U-turn
As we grapple with the evil deeds done in Manchester, London and Tehran, it is easy to be frightened into the notion that terrorism is more widespread now than it ever was. It isn’t. It’s just more public. Life goes on. So does politics. And before the horrors of the Manchester bombing, the big news story was that British Prime Minister, Theresa May, had done a complete U-turn on a 4-day old manifesto promise. The Tories’ ‘Dementia Tax’ survived a mere 96 hours of knocking on doors, and a sudden drop in poll popularity, before it was dropped. Totally.
And then came the taunting journalists. They claimed the May mask had slipped. She was making up policy on the hoof. Mrs May had made a lot of the fact that she wasn’t a woman to be messed with. She was ‘strong and stable.’ She was the EU’s Brexit foe who was going to fight them ‘tooth and nail to get either ‘a good deal or no deal’. And yet, she was forced into a humiliating policy climb-down.
Jeremy to the Rescue
On moments such as this are elections decided in other countries. Not in the UK. The BBC’s Newsnight narrative was that her much vaunted stability in government wasn’t actually very stable. They showed a clip of Labour’s Lord Prescott, a man who makes some of our clown politicians appear sensible, repeating the same ‘unstable’ mantra. Amusing? No. Especially when his party leader had to consult an iPad live on BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour to try to find the cost of a major Labour policy initiative on child care.
‘Brexit means Brexit’
Can you imagine any Taoiseach getting away with such a meaningless, crass and trite slogan in an Irish election? Not a chance. Any one of the opposition parties (other than Solidarity, which wants Ireland to leave the EU) would eat him for lunch. Yet Corbyn’s policy on Brexit is ‘Brexit means Brexit, just not as much Brexit as the Tories.’ Despite a 48% ‘Remain’ vote in the referendum, Brexit, and the ultimate form it will take, simply isn’t an election issue.
Meanwhile, back at the Ranch
The EU has said it. Irish economists have said it. ISME has said it. We are entering probably the most unstable international environment since the 1930’s. The UK is no longer a reliable ally for Ireland. Her politicians are no longer respected, at home or abroad. They are figures of fun. We must leave nothing to chance. A fiscally conservative budget is the very least we should get. Any ‘fiscal space’ should be spent on infrastructure for the country. Not on ‘snout-in-the-trough’ trade unionists in the public service. Protect the many, not the few. Think of our future, not the next General Election. Now is the time to be categoric about it. With no U-turns. Over to you Leo.