First, the good news. The primary tumour has been destroyed. The bad news is that the cancer has spread: metastasised. The prognosis is terminal. The primary tumour is UKIP. The metastasis is the Tory Party under Theresa May. The patient is decency, respect and fair play for the 99% of British who are not super-rich, including me.

cancer cell
Cancer cell

The results from last week’s local elections (covering about a third of the country) show that UKIP has been swept out of local government and, for all practical purposes, finished as a political force for evil. Good riddance. But the Tories have gained votes widely by adopting policies, tactics and attitudes from their defeated, bigoted opponents.

Prior Symptoms

The Tories, of course, have been showing symptoms of the disease for ages. The irrational, instinctive hatred for the EU has been around at least since Thatcher’s day. The woman herself approached negotiations with the other EU members in a totally adversarial, “UK versus the rest” kind of way. This culminated in the notorious “No! No! No!” speech in the Commons, shortly before she was deposed by her own Party for being totally mad. (I am certain of the truth of that last remark. Less than a year later, I was at a business lunch where Thatcher was the guest speaker. Sitting less than five metres from her, it was abundantly clear from her whole demeanour and, above all, those scary, stary eyes, that she was totally unhinged.)

As PM, David Cameron often echoed Thatcher’s approach: “battling for Britain” being a phrase that comes to mind. On immigration more generally, he set himself a hostage to fortune by his silly immigration targets. Implicit in these targets was that immigration, per se, was a problem. And of course, the immigration figures were totally outside his control in the context of free movement of people between EU countries. Theresa May as Home Secretary sent the notorious “not welcome here – we’ll catch you!” vans around streets with high numbers of immigrants.

And by now, as I said in Obsession, by choosing control of immigration above all other considerations, May has opted for the most damaging form of exit, economically and socially, from the EU. The metastasis is confirmed.

Disease Progression

And so, what’s in store for the next few years? Let’s look first at May’s statement: “No deal is better than a bad deal”. This vacuous statement is devoid of meaning, depending tautologically on how you interpret the word “bad”. The sentence, while not an oxymoron in itself, it certainly appeals to actual morons! This ridiculous threat, which amounts to “Do what I want, or I’ll shoot myself”, is a well-worn theatrical device.  An excellent example comes near the end of Mel Brooks’ film Blazing Saddles. The sheriff (who the townsfolk discover “is a ni…”) threatens to shoot himself if “the next man makes a move”.

But, as the EU negotiations get under way, another comedy classic provides a good analogy. Outnumbered 27 (or 28) to one, Britain is like the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Staunchly defending his territory against all comers, he starts a sword fight with King Arthur. First he has an arm chopped off by his opponent’s sword, then the other. Kicking and shouting insults, he then loses both legs. We finally see him, his torso balanced upright, threatening to Arthur: “I’ll bite your legs off!” A perfect metaphor for our approach to the EU negotiations!

As the delusional nature of the UK’s negotiating stance hits the reality of the EU27’s clearly stated position, things will inevitably turn nasty. The government and its cheerleaders will start to thrash around and lash out in all directions, blaming everyone but themselves. Don’t mention it, but we started the war. We told our neighbours, those with whom we have the most in common, to fuck off when we (narrowly) voted leave. So why do we expect any favours?

At this stage, the cancer will spread more widely beyond the Tory Party into wider civic life.


Whether the UK succeeds in negotiating a deal or not, our position will be worse off than as a member of the EU; that much is guaranteed. (Ask any of the hated “experts”.) In the nastiness to come, there’s a real risk that common decency, respect, compassion and all those aspects that make life worth living will be driven out by the cancer of intolerance and nationalism.

The patient will be dead.

So, folks, there you have it. Cancer and comedy in one blog post. Two for the price of one. Keep the people entertained as the iceberg strikes the Titanic. Cheer up, it may never happen! (But don’t bet on it.)


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