Theresa Mays projected poll victory will be pyrrhic: the country has no clue where it is heading
Can we now applaud this the parliamentary elections as the strangest British tournament in living remember? We have a prime minister who affected to go into the campaign full of vim and vigour, but now seems to recoil from the absolute essentials of what electioneering necessitates. If your beings shut journalists from a big regional website into a small chamber for suspicion they might video something as banal as a visit to a manufacturer of diving material as Theresa Mays campaign apparently did in Cornwall this week you are surely in a very odd place.
The atmosphere is rendered stranger still by the sense of a completely foregone conclusion. Not in the feeling of, say, 2001, when Tony Blairs softened second victory showed a quiescent country sleepwalking through a long economic boom. Rather, theres a profound friction between an uneasy, fractioned national humor and a prime minister and party apparently flying back to power. Britain does not, contrary to what May claimed at the outset, seem like it is coming together.
Yet this weeks local election results underline the future prospects of an imminent triumph, and pollsters claim that she is the most popular defendant commander since the late 1970 s. The reality? There is a seem she frequently throws, midway between thrust politeness and cold anxiety, that speaks of something rather different: a classically pyrrhic succes, in different countries that has no collective evidence where it is heading.
Last week I followed much the same road as May spanned a few weeks later, driving from the western tip-off of Cornwall to Bristol from Brexitland to a redoubt of Remainia. Along the mode, I matched the curious staunch admirer of the council of ministers, and a few people who said that Jeremy Corbyn had a vision worth believing in, if simply his detractors and resists would leave him alone. But for the most fraction I encountered three kinds of voter: undone, betrayed and chagrined. All were connected by a sense of national bemusement.
At the nutrient bank in the Cornish municipality of Camborne whose services are expanding rapidly a steady stream of people had come to get the standard disaster parcel , not for the complex rationales claimed by May last weekend, but as they are skint and in danger of get starving. One thirtysomething gentleman told me he was employed at a neighbourhood plastics make on a flexible-hours contract that are typically left him unable to buy sufficient food to feed their own families. He was a case study in what Corbyn says is wrong with modern Britain. But despite having voted Labour all his adult life, this man said he was so unconvinced by the partys brand-new chairman that he now considered himself undecided.
In periods of his flickering interest in politics, he was a scarcity. Everyone else I spoke to there reckoned the election was a distant irrelevance. Their quagmire scarcely entered on such elections, and the election did not intrude on them. Here, with distinct echoes of politics in the US, were the exceedingly beings legislators are prone to kick about: people so wearied by their day-to-day lives that the idea the interference emanating from the TV might volunteer any convincing change seemed faintly laughable.
Elsewhere in the town, I assembled people committed with politics inasmuch as they mounted great store by Brexit, but who were pretty much unable to explain why they had supported the leave area last year; where they felt the process of leaving the EU was now departing; or what this latest election was all about. That isnt to say that millions of remain followers me included did not vote the route they did out of a mix of tribal affinity and excitement. But there is a difference: our area was basically about connection, whereas theirs now threatens extraordinary disruption, and possible national calamity.
Yes, there are plenty of voters who backed leave out of justifiable feeling and exasperation. But, as confirmed by radio phone-ins and TV exchange pictures, there are also many people who spurt wrinkles that have long since curdled into cliche, blithely saying they were sick of being bossed around by Brussels while being unable to give a single precedent. And at that point, the absurdity of it all turns critical. When I was out with the Lib Dems on a handsome new-build development in Yeovil, one man answered the door and told the canvassers that he had listened there was no reason why Britain should not be out of the EU already, with or without what he continued calling clause 52.
An hour up the A37, in Bristol, the polarities were overruled. The neighbourhood pressure group Bristol for Europe whose mission, however kamikaze-like it might seem, is to balk various kinds of Brexit, hard or soft had set up a street stall outside a Waitrose in Tory-held Bristol North West. Every five minutes or so, person would be examined admiringly at their flags and placards and take a badge, or agree to be put on their mailing list.
For the most part the issue is people with deep liberal-left instincts , now seemingly without a political home. Strive was talked about with a kind of mournful discouragement. Mention of the Lib Dems was met with evasive shrugs, as if you might just about bring yourself to back them, knowing it was little more than a fruitless dissent election. In their own style, these adrift remainers seemed almost as lost as the person or persons at the food bank.
Whats this all about? Politics is crying out for a realignment that proves no signaling of materialising. Sooner or afterward, perhaps, Brexit will reveal itself as being disastrous, and the country might be shaken to its feels. But more than anything, we are living through a case study in the often terrible the effects of referendums that thrust parties to shaking behind simple-minded answers to complicated questions.
And we are now having to put up with the result: a politics that preserves trying to resolve the irresolvable consequences of what has happened, like a child trying to mend a separated toy on Boxing Day. Meanwhile, the crisis of political legitimacy that so spectacularly exploded last-place June goes on, but calmly. Turnout in this the parliamentary elections, I would imagine, will be not much higher than 60%, and the idea that anything has been resolved will have vaporized by the afternoon of 9 June.
In that sense, perhaps, we have a chairman who dress the moment, nervously pinballing from one stop to the next, with apparently no suggestion of where she is going or why and no more able to explain what is happening than anyone. Truly, a Britannia for our times.
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