Unelectable Terrorist Sympathizer: The Rapid Fall of Theresa May in the General Election 2017

Much to the irritation of Isobel Oakshott and other Daily Mail commenters (who are generously referred to by some as “journalists”), the Conservatives only ‘won’ the general election in the most basic and rudimentary two-dimensional sense.

Many of my left leaning friends are disappointed that Theresa May will be leading the Conservative party into government once again, but I must disagree with them. I am completely elated by the result of this election; Theresa May is finished, and every second she clings to power by the skin of her teeth only helps the conservatives to haemorrhage support.

What can I say? Two-dimensional strength will get you a two-dimensional victory. Until recently, Theresa May was polling extremely high amongst the general public [1] …until she had to face the one thing she apparently can’t deal with: scrutiny.

mayweakwobbly

It seemed to me that, for a very long time, she was able to hide how terribly feeble she was. There had always been an unsavoury authoritarian undertone to her way of doing politics, which is regarded by many international spectators as a little unsettling [2], but the calling the general election to take advantage of an apparent poll lead was seen as a particularly thuggish and authoritarian move; forcing other leaders to take part or be branded a coward and denouncing any opposition to her position as mere political agitation. The satire website NewsThump declared it was a “Snap Annihilation of the Labour Party” [3], and it was difficult for most people to view it many other ways at the time. A consolidation of power.

In particular, Theresa May wanted to take advantage of Brexit populism, by taking a hard right stance on the issue, and hoping that the vote would flow to her. For months she has been declaring that she has a mandate for this form of Brexit (despite no such mandate existing), and showed a remarkably poor understanding of democracy.

What she invoked was majoritarianism- which is often confused with being the definition of democracy, but is actually only a single (and rather basic) interpretation [4]. The majoritarian move to ignore the concerns and wishes of the 48% entirely, not only shows a poor understanding of democracy for a Prime Minister, but also puts the very unity of the United Kingdom at risk, in the hopes of claiming Brexit populism for her own gain.

It is fair to say, I think, that her poor understanding backfired.

Despite her feeble understanding, she is also overly brazen and extremely lacking in subtlety. The declarations of “strength and stability” simply had no weight to them within a few weeks of her campaign launch. On Europe, in particular, she has taken the stance of a hardline Brexiteer and tried to bulldoze a hard Brexit through the country, against the advice of the overwhelming majority of expert opinion [5] [6] [14].

And she wonders why she was met with resistance?

But more than that, her understanding of negotiating is so incredibly poor. As a student who is required to study international politics, I was stunned by how blatantly she must be ignoring the expert advice around her. Beginning Brexit negotiations by threatening to walk away with nothing [7] is a shallow understanding of these negotiation at absolute best. The EU are not stupid- they know that we need a trade deal, and they will know that it is ridiculous to suggest that we walk away without one, but Theresa May still feels the need to threaten Europe with a bluff that will be viewed as ignorant and impolite.

In many ways, I have to wonder if she began to believe her own monotonous rhetoric? Did she honestly think that she was half as strong and stable as the papers were declaring she was? I think there is a good chance she got swept up in her own propaganda.

The reality is that May was robotic and shallow at every single turn [8]. I had been uncertain on my views on her in the past- I thought I was perhaps being overly critical- but now I can say with certainty that she always was a terrible leader with a media screen to protect her. Conservative friends of mine called for her resignation and thought she would resign on the night, but predictably, she was her old authoritarian self. To my delight, she clung onto power like a cement block clinging to the leg of the conservative party.

This election was also dubbed “The Brexit Election” and Theresa May declared that the objective was to “put forward our plans for Brexit and our alternative programmes for government and then let the people decide” [9].
It appears that the people decided; they chose to reject Theresa May’s hard Brexit, and her mandate for pursuing it has effectively been destroyed. However, if you believe this will stop her pursuing a hard Brexit, I would gently suggest that you don’t understand Theresa May’s nature.

Many far right Brexiteers will declare that Brexit was only mentioned in passing, and this cannot be taken as a rejection of a far right hard Brexit, but humour me:- can you imagine what Brexiteers would be saying if Theresa May had won a larger majority?
They would claim it as an utterly indisputable mandate.
Why should the same standards not apply?
The shaky basis upon which May declared she had a mandate just sunk like a rock in the ocean of reality.

But perhaps best of all, the world underestimated Jeremy Corbyn once again. Less than two months ago, even his allies were declaring that the party was ‘doomed’ under Corbyn, and that his leadership would spell the end of the party itself [10] [11] [12] [13]. And I have no intention of letting his critics forget this.

The criticism of Jeremy Corbyn went much too far, and was propped up by the considerable efforts which the media have (now undeniably) gone to in order to project this image of Corbyn as “unelectable” [15], which is of course nonsense: no politician is inherently ‘unelectable’ due to their position. If it were so, we would be hearing how ‘unelectable’ Nigel Farage was due to his extreme right wing views, but we simply do not.

Politics is about persuasion, not adjusting your morals to suit the public mood, even if your views are considered radical, which, despite the constant “comrade Corbyn” rhetoric [16] is not true of Corbyn; his policies are both popular here in the UK [17] and considered mainstream elsewhere in the world [18].

Corbyn

However, it is now even better that all of the “Corbyn is a terrorist sympathizer” rhetoric has fallen flat on its face. I have always attempted to ridicule this logic- negotiating with a group does not imply sympathy. No one has yet declared Neville Chamberlain to be a Nazi sympathizer for negotiating with Hitler in 1938. It is a ridiculous leap in logic to use- a leap in logic which has come back to eat its now hypocritical proponents since 8th June.

Unlike others, I do not actually believe that the DUP are terrorist sympathizers, but I do recognise that by the standards set by Corbyn’s critics in condemning him as a “terrorist sympathizer”, they are terrorist sympathizers. It is simply undeniable. The right wing have laid a logical pitfall trap and fallen right inside it in the course of their election campaign.

You see, just as much of Sinn Fein had been imprisoned prior to August 1994 for their involvement with the IRA [19], so the DUP was heavily involved with groups such as the Ulster Resistance during the 1980s, and has led to the DUP being regarded as extreme even by other unionist groups such as the UUP [20].

In particular, it’s longstanding ‘official’ rejection of, but continued association with, the paramilitary Ulster defence association (UDA) has landed it in difficulty, particularly given that the UDA was known for randomly targeting catholic civilians in campaigns of brutal murder in “retaliation” for IRA killings [21] which those civilians had no part in. The UDA’s Tommy Herron had also declared war on the British Army (despite supposedly being on the same side in the conflict) a number of times [24] during the troubles.

Just last month, DUP leader Arlene Foster met with UDA leader Jackie McDonald, despite the murder of Colin Horner in front of his 3 year old son just days before, which has been attributed to the activities of the UDA [22]. The DUP are opposed to gay marriage, family, planning, and the peace agreement in Northern Ireland; when it was proposed, the DUP refused to participate and declared they would not “negotiate with terrorists” [23] (despite the fact that there were sectarian paramilitary groups such as the UVF and UDA on their side too).

Forming a government with the DUP may well put the Good Friday Agreement at risk, and I suspect that Theresa May knows this, but she will do it anyway. She will cling on to power.

Make no mistake; the DUP are extremists, and by the same standards that Jeremy Corbyn is a “terrorist sympathizer”, they would also be considered terrorist associates.
Theresa May was so desperate for a mandate that she has gone into coalition with those people.
Many conservatives will have to do logical acrobatics in order to justify this to themselves, and my generation should take heart- because of us, and the allies we have from all age groups who I am immensely proud of, Theresa May is struggling to cling onto power, and has been caught in a snare of her own making.
An unelectable terrorist sympathizer.

[1] www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2017/06/daily-chart-3
[2] http://edition.cnn.com/2017/04/19/opinions/theresa-may-authoritarian-maltby-opinion/index.html
[3] http://newsthump.com/2017/04/18/theresa-may-announces-snap-annihilation-of-the-labour-party/
[4] www.bu.edu/law/journals-archives/bulr/documents/macedo.pdf
[5] http://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/brexit01.pdf
[6] http://www.open-britain.co.uk/the_brexit_cliff_edge_by_ian_dunt
[7] http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/brexit/2017/06/08/unpicking-the-no-deal-is-better-than-a-bad-deal-mantra-what-would-a-bad-deal-look-like/
[8] www.economist.com/blogs/bagehot/2017/06/road-disaster
[9] www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-39630009
[10]  http://labour-uncut.co.uk/2017/04/20/corbyn-has-doomed-labour-time-to-vote-tactically-for-the-strongest-opposition-to-brexit/
[11] www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4121088/Corbyn-doomed-electoral-failure-doesn-t-watch-Mrs-Brown-s-Boys-says-Labour-MP-Stella-Creasy.html
[12] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/david-miliband-savages-jeremy-corbyn-and-his-own-brother-too-a7321531.html
[13] https://inews.co.uk/essentials/news/politics/nicola-sturgeon-launches-withering-attack-unelectable-jeremy-corbyn/
[14] https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/exiting-the-european-union-committee/news-parliament-2015/brexit-white-paper-report-published-16-17/
[15] www.lse.ac.uk/media@lse/research/pdf/JeremyCorbyn/Corbyn-Report-FINAL.pdf
[16] www.express.co.uk/news/politics/593968/Corbyn-admits-Karl-Marx-my-communist-hero/
[17] www.indpendent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/jeremy-corbyn-policy-blitz-poll-supported-by-majority-of-british-public-a7685016.html
[18] www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/7-radical-policies-draft-labour-10401191
[19] McKearney, T. The Provsional IRA: From Insurrection to Parliament (Pluto Press 2011), p.175, p.187
[20] Cox, M. Guelke, A. & Stephen, F. A Farewell to Arms? Beyond the Good Friday Agreement (Manchester University Press 2006), p.78
[21] Fay, MT. Morrissey, M. & Smyth, M. Northern Ireland’s Troubles: The Human Costs (Pluto Press 1999), p.60
[22] www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/general-election-2017/DUP-chief-arlene-foster-met-UDA-boss-days-after-loyalist-murder-in-bangor-35776873.html
[23] Fay, MT. Morrissey, M. & Smyth, M. Northern Ireland’s Troubles: The Human Costs (Pluto Press 1999), pp.64-65
[24] Dillon, M. Lehane, D. Political Murder in Northern Ireland (Penguin Books 1973), p.265

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