Thursday, May 23, 2019

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 23.5.19

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable. 
                  Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain
The UK 
  • EU elections today: Whatever happens, the results will be over-interpreted. The turnout will be far lower than at the referendum or a general election. And the party that will win most votes will almost certainly not exist in its present form at a general election. The current Brexit Party has no members and its policy will be what Nigel Farage — the key to its financing and organisation — says it is.
The UK/Brexit
  • Richard North today: The thing is that nothing can be considered as "off the table". Over the last 3 years, so much has happened that none of us predicted that we can hardly argue that we will be able to predict what is coming. The new norm has to be the unexpected. 
  • In the face of her incredible stubbornness, the question in my mind is: Is Mrs May really a ballsy strategic genius who's been planning all along to get the UK to the situation she most wanted - the withdrawal of the application to quit the EU? 
  • On this issue of this stubbornness, see the great article below.
The EU
  • Not a huge surprise that President Macron backs M. Barnier to be the new president of the EU Commission and that they both want to bring the Brexit saga to an abrupt halt in October, one way or another.
Final Camino Notes
  • Here's Geoff Jones' fotos for the last stretch we did together.
  • And here and here are his blog posts for his last 2 stages. The final one was a tad miserable. But not because I wasn't with him . . .
  • Here is where to go for all Geoff's fotos of the entire 7 day walk.

What on earth has possessed the PM to cling on for so long? Janet Daley

Every conversation I have had with political friends in recent months (and I do mean every single conversation) has been reduced to amateur psychoanalysis of Theresa May. Why? How? What strange configuration of personal experience/temperamental peculiarity/psychological aberration could possibly account for this bizarre capacity for obtuseness/deceitfulness/purblind insensitivity, blah-blah-blah?

You know all this. I expect you’ve been engaged in the same sort of speculation yourself. Is she incorrigibly arrogant, or maniacally committed to the righteousness of her own mission, or just absurdly unable to understand the arguments against her?

Well compellingly fascinating as all this may be, it is nearly over, whatever Mrs May might think. Very soon, no more time will need to be wasted on her deeply puzzling personality.

The Cabinet and the 1922 Committee between them will at last do what needs to be done. We may never know why Mrs May failed to realise how outrageous her behaviour was – even when she was betraying her Cabinet colleagues for that last extraordinary time by producing a Withdrawal Agreement Bill that was drastically different from what they believed they had agreed. What matters now is that the party – in the form of its most senior members – must disassociate itself and somehow begin the process of reconstructing its credibility.

There is a tragic dimension to this, not just for Mrs May herself (most of us are too furious to care much about that now) but for the party and the country. Had she done the rational thing and resigned after the second failed attempt to pass her Withdrawal Agreement, the whole story might have been quite different. To have brought the Agreement back for a second try would not, after all, have seemed unreasonable. (But to bring it back for a third and – good grief – a fourth time looks insane.)

And had she accompanied that exit with a gracious, dignified speech – “I have tried my best to deliver what the country wanted, etc etc” – then the rehabilitation of her reputation might have begun immediately. If by any chance the party had dissolved into fratricide and irreconcilable division after her voluntary departure (which is quite clearly what she expects will happen in her wake), then by now, indeed, she might have been seen as a lost leader of some distinction.

But no. She clings to the job which she inexplicably claims to love – although we still really don’t understand why. Is it pure cynical egotism? Or an unquestioning belief that she is the only grown-up in the room? Whoops sorry, I’m doing psychoanalysis again. She is unknowable and probably will be to historical observers as well.

All that matters is what happens next. Above all, when she does go, the Conservative Party must not prove her prediction right by blowing itself apart irreconcilably. This time it must take its responsibilities to the country so seriously that no one will be in doubt about the integrity of our politics. Because this is very grave now. It goes way beyond our relationship with the EU. Whoever walks into Downing Street next is going to have to make the speech of a lifetime and follow it up with a quality of leadership that will be remembered for generations.

1 comment:

Geoff said...

Many thanks, Colin for all the planning and allowing me to join you on this Camino, very pleasurable and an excellent walk. Hopefully, we can meet again in the, not too distant future :-)