“Life’s a piece of shit, when you look at it” sang Eric Idle at the end of Monty Python’s Life of Brian. I must admit that many of my blog posts have been pretty downbeat in tone, particularly since the June 23rd result. So, let’s try a thought experiment and go in for some positive thinking.
Let’s start by looking at a few items of good news from recent days.
- Donald Trump made a complete arse of himself in the first TV debate with Hillary Clinton.
- Jeremy Corbyn did a pretty good job in his keynote speech at the Labour Party Conference. It was a much more assured performance than last year and a step towards being seen as a more credible future prime minister.
- The Labour Party now has well over 500,000 members, making it the largest political party in Europe (outside Russia).
- The only concrete policy announcement from Theresa May, on grammar schools, is a real stinker.
- George Osborne’s policy of austerity and “hit the poorest hardest” seems to have been dropped by his successor.
Let’s develop some positive thinking flowing from these news items.
Two more opportunities, in TV debates, remain to show Trump’s narcissistic lack of self-control and of fitness to be elected. So, the spine-chilling threat to the world of a President Trump seems to have receded somewhat. With the prospect of World War Three now a little less likely in the near term, we can perhaps begin to think a little about the future.
A Labour Agenda?
Points 2 and 5 above may point the way to changing the terms of the debate on the economy. Political opinion in much of the western world is questioning the assumptions of free market fundamentalism. It seems likely that we will hear much less from Philip Hammond on austerity than his predecessor. This implies even the Tories may now believe it’s a vote loser. They still have a way to go to catch up with expert opinion, such as that of the International Monetary Fund. But it is an agenda that both Jeremy Corbyn and John Hammond have been consistently stating for the past year. The new, younger Labour Party members may begin to convince people in face-to-face conversations in pubs and other meeting places. An optimistic reading would be that Labour would begin to look credible to offer a wider, positive appeal for the future, with the Tories associated with a failed economic dogma of the past.
Theresa May’s Judgement
It seems many were tempted to think of Theresa May as a “safe pair of hands” to steer Britain through the choppy waters of EU exit negotiations. (Even I said she was the least bad option in the circumstances.) With her grammar schools announcement, she immediately encountered strong opposition from all education experts and practically the whole of the teaching profession. It is only a matter of time before she adds more opponents. These are the parents of the 80% of schoolchildren who would be disadvantaged – and possibly psychologically damaged – by being branded second class citizens at an arbitrary age.
We have had the appointment of two loose cannons and a disgraced former defence minister as the triumvirate leading the UK’s EU negotiations. It is surely only a matter of time before one of these super-egos seriously screws up. This will reflect poorly on May’s judgement in their appointment. Not such a safe pair of hands, after all.
The Bright Side
The cynical may see this all as hopelessly wishful thinking: my title for this piece was, instead, “positive thinking”. That Eric Idle song mentioned at the start is, after all, entitled Always Look on the Bright Side of Life! (Supply your own whistling here, please…)