Ahhh, isn’t that picture amazing? No seriously, rarely do we get such classic “Think of It” moments in British politics, but when we do it’s pretty darn hilarious (or depressing, or both). There was that time when Nigel Farage appeared to be sporting a Hitler mustache due to a brilliant camera angle and an unfortunate microphone placement, that time when Jeremy Corbyn invited reporters to a shadow cabinet meeting before quickly changing his mind, or that time Jeremy Corbyn was caught lying that his train was overcrowded, or that other time when Jeremy Corbyn… Anyway, moving on.
So, The Conservative Party Conference is now going on in Birmingham, seemingly in accordance with their tradition of hosting these events in places where the Conservative Party isn’t awfully popular (it was Manchester last year). Obviously, they want to emphasize the claim that their party cares about everyone in the UK, and it certainly wouldn’t be as exciting if they chose to instead hold the bloody thing in Basingstoke. Then again, they’re almost daring all the SWP and Stop The War idiots to show up and fire volleys of eggs to the endless chants of “TORY SCUM”, just to remind everyone that Jeremy Corbyn’s promise of a “Gentler, Kinder Politics” is all alive and well.
At least we now know when article 50 will be triggered. That is, by the end of March 2017, which frankly sounds like a terrible idea. Just to be clear, that’s not because I’m a filthy remainer who hates Britain or anything, but because that specific timing would ensure that Brexit plays a key role in the French presidential election. As most of the public over there don’t really want Britain to walk away with an all too pleasant deal, May’s decision will make sure that the candidates are falling over themselves to call for Britain’s punishment in stifling the almighty Europroject.
That thought certainly presents a bit of a dilemma, because it is now technically in the UKs strategic interests for the Eurosceptic far-right to do well in next years French and German elections. Now, on the one hand, the Liberal inside me is currently screaming that a far- right resurgence in Europe is a really really really bad idea, but then again, we might get slightly better trade deals out of it so who the hell knows…
Europe is for course the giant elephant in the conference hall this year, and Theresa May certainly didn’t waste much time getting to it in her speech. She first attacked those questioning the referendum’s legitimacy (fair enough), then proceeded to claim that The Conservatives have a plan, before repeating her now widely mocked remark that “Brexit means Brexit”. Really Theresa? I always thought that “Brexit” actually means “chicken sandwich”. I guess it’s a way for May to reassure her Eurosceptics voters that she won’t be tempted by a “soft-Brexit”, practically confirming that the process will see Britain’s exit from the single market in return for tougher immigration controls.
Then followed a speech from Boris Johnson, currently the leading contender in Britain’s own Donald Trump impersonation contest. Johnson began by mocking a Russian UN delegation (fair enough), then moved on to mocking some in the Labour Party for mourning the Soviet Union (Also fair enough), before going on a lecture about global conflict and standing up for democracy, which is where I must protest. That’s not because I hate democracy by the way, but because I have a slight suspicion that Boris wasn’t talking about Turkey or Saudi Arabia, the latter of which is currently using a bunch of weapons we sold to them to bomb hospitals in Yemen (something Boris had no problem accusing Russia and Assad of doing in Syria).
By all means, stand up for freedom and democracy all you want, just please refrain from doing so at the same time as defending handing arms to regimes that literally execute people for witchcraft. To be fair, I have no doubt that was Corbyn to become PM he’d probably try to sell all our nuclear weapons to his buddies in Iran, but we all know that’s a rather unlikely possibility. “A Bitter Future” seems to be rather unavoidable.