THANK GOD IT’S FRIDAY
WATCHING THE British general election unfold – or, more accurately, deflate – over the last few weeks has been like watching England play Test cricket in the 70s (or West Indies, now). Everything, no matter how contrived or unlikely, that was required to turn the highest form of sport into the lowest form of farce was, somehow, brought into being, just when it was needed.
Beginning with the beginning.
Inexplicably, the Liberal Democrats and – astoundingly, Labour, doubly hobbled by a serious charge of antisemitism and the most unpopular leader of any political party in British history – handed Boris Johnson, for free, the general election that he desperately wanted but could not have got on his own; and in his firetrucking honeymoon period as substitute prime minister, to boot!
Parliament had been limping along for three and a half years under the burden of the impossible-to-deliver Brexit and could have dragged itself at least until a summer election, with the Tories’ punitive policies displaying their inadequacies every day, making Johnson’s position worse and everyone else’s better.
Instead, miserable, divided Britain went to the polls yesterday on a short wet winter’s day in a cold snap predicted to send snow and icy rain pelting down all over the Increasingly-More-Dis-United Kingdom.
Again, people thinking with their brains – as distinct from those “thinking” with their supposed hearts (really their hatreds and resentments) – found it harder to tactically vote Lib Dem (because Jo Swinson, their leader, gratuitously shot the party in the head, rather than the foot, by declaring they would revoke Article 50, when they could have offered a far more democratic-looking second referendum).
Nor could someone hating Tory austerity that created record child poverty, food banks and homelessness easily vote Labour, a party actively being investigated by the Equality and Human Rights Commission for well-documented antisemitism.
On top of all that spaghetti is the huge meatball of Jeremy Corbyn, who is personally anti-EU, but leads a party that most agree is at least 75 per cent Remain. An Evening Standard poll in September showed Corbyn to be the least popular politician in 45 years, with only 16 per cent satisfied and 76 per cent unhappy with his leadership.
If Corbyn resigned the leadership – and the part of me that still believes in Santa Claus hoped for that dramatic announcement up to yesterday morning – Labour would have won.
But the hollowness of my pipe dream rang out loud and tinny at the Labour conference in September, when then deputy leader Tom Watson narrowly avoided having his post abolished entirely. When Watson resigned in despair last month, the only wonder was that he lasted as long as he did.
Former Labour PM Tony Blair said Corbyn should not be elected prime minister and former Tory PM John Major said Johnson should not be given a majority.
What was a poor voter to do yesterday in Not-so-Great Britain?
The deeper a prospective voter thought, the more likely he or she was to be stymied; the shallower the understanding of the voter, the clearer the choice became.
You could sum it up in three ludicrous words.
Even if Boris “Ten Lies Before Breakfast” Johnson won a majority, it still wouldn’t count as a plus, because, the price was the reduction of the one-nation Conservative and Unionist Party to an imitation Brexit Party.
And that was the worst thing about the election: that no one challenged the emptiest of all the empty Brexit slogans. Even the original lie, “take back control,” eternal vacuity in three words, or the oxymoronically meaningless, “Brexit means Brexit,” had more substance. Brexit will not be “done” for years to come.
And that is the most depressing thing about the whole mind-numbing, soul-destroying gratuitous exercise: that the Brexit Leave voters that likely handed Johnson the keys to No 10 Downing Street for the next five years will never see the “sunlit uplands” he promised. Their only reason for voting was null and void. Turkeys voting for Christmas at least will only get stuffed; Leave voters are going to get firetrucked.
And this is the most depressing thing for me, personally: that British voters are so stupid, or determinedly keep themselves so ill-informed, that, to achieve what they think is Brexit, they appointed as their champion a man who twice voted against it!
And, even with a huge Tory majority, Brexit would have only just begun.
British voters didn’t get Brexit done yesterday.
They got done by Brexit.
BC Pires is a Lib Dem or Labour (hold the Corbyn) or Plaid Cymru or Green or SNP or Screaming Lord Sutch – ANYTHING but Bozo the Evil Clown supporter