A braying and hypersensitive radical left is in many respects far better than their wily New Labour predecessors. After all, it was the likes of Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson who secretly administered the snake oil that sold Britain across the Channel.
By Alexandra Phillips l March 7, 2017
LONDON-Coasting through the non-disaster of economic growth and sensible foreign diplomacy under the prudent eye of Mrs May, it would seem that vainglorious politicians in the UK have little to do other than enjoy the sound of their own voices.
Parliament convened to debate the proposed State Visit of President Donald Trump after a petition was signed by over 1,000,000 citizens, meaning the issue can be put in front of Parliament (I stress here the word ‘can’ as various other Government e-Petitions that surmounted the minimum signatories cap have been rejected by the powers that be, such as impeaching Tony Blair and making Monday part of the weekend, two things I increasingly find myself sympathetic towards). I do not recall such a hullabaloo when other State visits took place, from the Saudi Royal Family to China’s Premier, all with evidently far more dodgy records than could have possibly have been achieved by the newly elected President of Britain’s greatest ally.
To hear the woe in their voices as they whipped themselves up into a stupor over the very normal practice of standard foreign diplomacy was verging on comical. The opening line came from Labour’s Paul Flynn, who described Trump as behaving “like a petulant small child”, ignoring the flagrant strops of his left wing colleagues over matters rightfully exclusive to a foreign nation’s self-determination. Former Deputy Speaker, Conservative Nigel Evans warned objectors in the house to ‘get over it’. You could have been mistaken for thinking you were watching a teen drama.
The split in politics has become almost absolute. While those on the left unite around Trumpophobia and Remoaning, the right are adopting a sleeves-up-back-to-work approach and doing a sterling job of running the country. It is no wonder that the Conservatives are extending their polling dominance with each passing day. The alternative is a national temper tantrum verging on mental breakdown.
Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence made a visit to Brussels where he had to reassure the bleeding hearts in the EU that America didn’t hate them, despite Trump’s publically voiced position on Brexit, chiefly that he thought Britain was sensible to get out, no doubt sympathising that a strong nation that wishes to self-govern should be allowed to escape from the tyranny of supranational control.
Nothing could starkly represent that contrast between the UK and her continental cousins more than the President of the European Council Donald Tusk opining that the EU was counting on unequivocal US support and that the meeting with Pence was ‘truly needed’ after what he described as “too many new and sometimes surprising opinions” that had been voiced in past months “for us to pretend that everything is as it used to be”. Sob. If ever you wanted justification that the UK was more assertive and assured than its affirmation-seeking peers to sit comfortably under their jurisdiction by consensus, this statement pretty much summed it up.
Meanwhile, the Brexit Bill passed to the second chamber for scrutiny as various Lords, Baronesses and has-beens, largely former Cabinet Secretaries and Party Officials put out to pasture, geared up for a fleeting moment under the glare of Parliament TV cameras once again. Those queuing up to challenge the Government over the activation of Article 50 in March saw the debate extended to a second day to account for the queue of crusties especially talcum powdered for the occasion. Among the dignitaries lining up for political reincarnation included former Labour Leader and Europhile Neil Kinnock, whose wife also served in the European Commission and who both pocket exorbitant pensions which, like other Commission settlements, include a clause that states that criticism of the EU would result in the annulment the generous severance package. In fact, the total recompense for servitude to Brussels totals £10.2 million in the combined pension pots of former MEPs and EU Commissioners now in the UK’s upper house.
As I mentioned in a previous article, rabble rousing Lords are rather hamstrung in taking on the Commons due to the ongoing debate over their own democratic legitimacy. A recent survey by think tank Change Britain showed that public attitude towards peers flexing muscle on the subject of Brexit was far from sympathetic, with 43% of those questioned saying they would back abolition of the Lords if the path to Article 50 was obstructed.
Cheerleading from the front was one Peter Mandelson, a familiar face of 90s political Britain, whose own checkered past saw him characterized as The Prince of Darkness after being appointed by the aforementioned Kinnock as chief spin doctor. Mandelson, who was largely active during the Blair years, resigned from cabinet twice, first for taking a loan from a millionaire being investigated by Parliament to purchase a pad in well-healed Notting Hill. Learning little from his previous peccadillo, Mandelson then tried to fix a passport for a billionaire Indian businessman involved in the ‘Bofors Scandal’ Sweden-India arms deals involving illegal kickbacks. After having to quit cabinet for a second time, he found salvation in Brussels as European Commissioner for Trade.
In order to keep the peers in check, in a totally unprecedented move Theresa May attended the debate, perched on the steps below the Monarch’s throne, a kitten heeled leg outstretched towards the largely octogenarian throng. The steps beneath the throne represent the only part of the upper chamber where a ‘commoner’ is allowed to enter, and served as a sassy reminder about the duty of the Nobility to uphold the will of the common man. It was another smart, understated move by the Prime Minister and a symbol of democracy itself entering the unelected chamber to fight for the people’s decision to leave another, antidemocratic political caucus. A Prime Minister attending a debate in the Lords on Government legislation is totally unheard of. The last time a UK leader was even present during a Lords sitting was for tributes following the passing of one Margaret Thatcher. Just saying.
Mrs May’s political adeptness, poise and integrity couldn’t have been better highlighted than by the contrasting re-emergence of Tony Blair, who has slid out from the shadows to urge Brits to renounce Brexit, claiming they were clueless as to what they had voted for. This, coming from the man who clandestinely calculated the unfettered immigration to the UK, changing the speed of social change from tens of thousands of new arrivals per year, a level maintained from the mid sixties to the mid nineties, to hundreds of thousands of workers streaming in annually, leaving an indelible mark on the British populous that indubitably hugely contributed to ill feeling over the European Union. The fact that Blair is now wading back in to the political mainstream is to most people deluded, and even to those on the left of politics, an intervention that is proving to be far from helpful.
But perhaps that is the point. The louder the caterwauling of the minority, the more resolute and quietly committed we, who find ourselves on the side of reason, become. Rather than being hoodwinked by political subterfuge and democratic deception via silent signatures surrendering sovereignty behind the scenes, shrouded in spin, our narcissistic opponents can’t help but give away their untenable position. A braying and hypersensitive radical left is in many respects far better than their wily New Labour predecessors. After all, it was the likes of Blair and Mandelson who secretly administered the snake oil that sold Britain across the Channel.
Alexandra Phillips is former Head of Media for the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), the political party in Britain that successfully campaigned to leave the EU and was aide to its charismatic leader Nigel Farage. She left UKIP after the referendum victory and joined the Conservative Party in order to ensure other big political ambitions are met in the U.K. She is a political advisor and communications consultant. Ms. Phillips is also a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis, of the conservative-online-journalism center at the Washington-based Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research.