Welcome to Theresa May's new politics of austerity- all 5 minutes of it
So it is the annual Intergalactic Forces of Pure Evil dinner/dance. The secretary booked an Earthling called Theresa May and promised that her speech would be good value. Things had been tough for the various Forces of Evil in the galaxy in recent years and they really needed some quality coaching. Darth Vader, Ming the Merciless and Hector Barbossa were at the foremost table downing shots together with the White Witch. Sauron was engaging in a drunken argument with Skeletor and Jabba the Hutt about how he could beat both of them in an arm wrestle. The Orcs were getting drunk at the back as they do every year.
May started her after dinner speech provocatively, 'Where is your Rupert Murdoch?'
Sauron shifted uncomfortably in his seat and Darth Vader and Skeletor looked at the floor all embarrassed.
'Well? Who's going to answer me?', May continued.
'We...er......don't really have one....', the Predator mumbled, hearing his words tail off in shame.
'You call yourself Intergalactic Forces of Evil and you don't even have a press baron to destroy your enemies?', May shook her head in dismay.
'And what's with spending all of your time telling all and sundry about how you’re going to crush everyone, take over the galaxy and release hellfire on your enemies? Why on earth do you say such things?'
A storm trooper threw up at the back and the Orcs laughed at him.
Skeletor piped up indignantly, 'But I do want to crush He-man. I want to crush him in an eternal damnation like the bemuscled worm he is.'
'He's such a drama queen', Predator smiled to Vader.
May shook her head, 'Some people are talking about me back on Earth as being a one-nation prime minister who will cease the ravages of austerity. Do you know why?'
They shook their heads and mumbled.
'It's because I told them I was. Simple. I said I wanted to lead a “one nation” government representing not just the “privileged few” and that I'd fight against the “the burning injustice” of poverty and deprivation, of racism, sexism and for the “ordinary working-class family.” I told them I was going to usher in a new politics. And they believed me because the papers reported it. There's a reason why you lot have hobbits and Jedis and wizards after you. You need to start with some solemn promises of battling injustice and get yourselves a news empire.'
Jabba whispered to no one in particular, 'She's good'.
'And for crying out loud if you want to carry out atrocities please sort your names out. We have normal names like Theresa May and George Osborne, not Ming the Merciless and Skeletor. It gives the game away a little bit.'
A cheer went up at the back by the now blind drunk Orcs. Osborne is their hero.
Skeletor looked affronted, 'But it does what it says on the tin, like Ronseal'.'
'But it shouldn't!', May shouted back. For six years I was part of a government whose austerity policies, according to the United Nations breached international human rights obligations. Last month the UN said our Austerity measures are having a disproportionate adverse impact on the most marginalised and disadvantaged citizens. Research this week shows that the NHS trusts across the country are now forced to ask people to work for nothing due to the cash crisis hitting our hospitals. WHICH WE MADE HAPPEN. But still people are asking whether I'm going to turn the country away from austerity. Folks, if I can leave you with one thing, tell the creatures in the Galaxy that you are a one-nation Force of Evil intent on battling social injustice. The Jedis and Hobbits won't even stir.'
As May received a hearty round of applause, Sauron got on the radio, 'Tell Saruman the White he's starting a newspaper'.
Welcome to the weird world of post-Brexit politics. The Tories bounced back, united by the continuation of their 400 year project to seduce people into voting against their own interests. The survival instinct of the Tory party should never be underestimated and sure enough they've bobbed back up to the surface after dusting down the one-nation, compassionate conservatism, fight-for-the-great-unwashed schtick. They've managed to shed the Bugsy Malone, sixth form economics of the Bullingdon boys and given their backbenchers enough Brexit meat to stop them gnawing at their cages for a while.
For the 49% they sent Gove and Johnson to the gallows and installed one of their special breed of anti-EU remainers as leader to stop the caged ones looking up from their meat. They are the winners by default and they can and are saying anything they like. Don't be surprised if Theresa May claims the Tories as the party that will cure cancer within one parliament. She knows her claims will be drowned out by the sound of heckling MPs across the other side of the House of Commons turning on their own leader as he dolefully dismisses her claim.
For the opposition we have a Labour Party where the leader doesn't represent his MPs, the MPs don't represent the party and the party doesn't apparently appear to represent the UK voters. They have positively embraced the chance to use the Brexit farce to devour themselves. Corbyn's studied indifference to Brexit-mania was probably a reflection of his knowing that both options were for a vote for (slightly) different shades of neo-liberal austerity- a shame then that he neglected to mention it. Corbyn's Brexit campaign was a failure but not because he didn't campaign hard enough for Remain. Rather it was because he didn't campaign hard enough against the entire premise. Not that the rabid ex-Pfizer lobbyists sitting alongside him would have noticed anyway.
The real question for the left is not why so many people voted for Brexit but, after five years of crushing human rights abusing austerity, mass NHS privatisation and systematic defunding, forced academisation of schools, legal aid cuts, rabid income inequality, welfare suicides, downright violent housing policies and European countries brought to their knees by tiny cabals of global banking sociopaths, why so many on the left thought voting remain was so important. The left are looking for answers without really knowing the right questions to ask. Once the pleasure of consuming themselves has worn off, the Labour Party might want to consider a broad anti-austerity, cross-party coalition that strategically organises against the democratic limitations of the First Past the Post system.
When the 2015 general election saw nearly 4 million people come out to vote for a protest party that got 1 seat out of 650, you hold a national referendum at your peril. In 2015 people voted against a political establishment that sanctions a wildly fragmented, unequal and unfair country. First past the post protected the Westminster bubble. In 2016 people did the same and the bubble burst. For a bit anyway.
And now, a few weeks on from Brexit, we have a leader of a party condemned by the United Nations for austerity human rights abuses publicly positioning herself as a fighter against burning injustice. That speech was the start and the end of Theresa May's new politics.
Jabba was right about May being good. But she is only good because we let her be good.
NHA's 'Friday Surgery' is a satirical blog written by Dr Carl Walker who is a member of the party's executive committee.