By Russell Bruce
With polls showing the Tories have a 21% lead in the UK, May decides the time is right to go to the country in a speech peppered with the type of vocabulary we have come to expect from a PM that communicates in sound bites.
It is worth examining some of those words and what they mean.
No turning back You are going to get the hardest of Brexits that will hit the poorest in society most and increase the number who are no longer just about managing.
The Right Plan What plan? There is no detail, just sound bites and uber platitudes.
UK free to chart control of own money. UK government has control of sterling. If she means the government can freely decide spending priorities then the announcement from The Office of National Statists (ONS) that general government gross debt was £1.731.4 billion at the end of December is not good news.
ONS said: “General government gross debt was £1,731.4 billion at the end of December 2016, equivalent to 89.3% of gross domestic product (GDP); an increase of £65.4 billion on December 2015.
“The latest government debt figure exceeds the reference value of 60% of GDP set out in the Protocol on the Excessive Deficit Procedure; general government gross debt first exceeded the 60% Maastricht reference value at the end of 2009 when it was 64.5% of GDP or £979.8 billion.”
What this means is that total national debt has increased under the Tories by 76.71%. So much for Tories having a special aptitude for economic management. The stock market fell on the announcement.
The reaction on the stock market sent prices down heavily with 90% of FTSE 100 companies falling with the threat to overseas earnings.
Then we had the emphasis on Westminster is divided. Nothing about the country being divided or the nations of the UK being divided on the policies being pursued by a hard right Tory government determined to end up with a hard to swallow Brexit.
The bit about difficulty from Labour, LibDems and special mention of the SNP and reference to the ‘unelected House of Lords’ tells us much about May that we already knew. Opposition parties are supposed to oppose, that is the purpose of opposition even if Labour can’t quite get their head round this at the moment. Tories’ use of the unelected House of Lords to sneak things into legislation is legendary.
A good example is the legislation vastly increasing the amount political parties can spend centrally on elections that Cameron pushed through the Lords when Labour was not looking. Even that did not prevent constituency overspending as the announcement that up to 30 Tory MP’s and their election agents might face prosecution for not accounting for HQ bus parties and their hefty hotel bills indicates. No doubt this also influenced May’s sudden change of heart after resolutely and constantly insisting she would not go to the electorate before 2020.
A prime example of not listening was May’s reference to negotiating with the Prime Ministers, Presidents and Chancellors of EU countries. The EU 27 members have agreed their position and the people on the other side of the table are negotiators appointed to pursue their interests. Brits of course like to divide and rule, but 27 other countries have closed ranks to ensure the Brits will not weaken their united resolve.
Mrs May might have sounded resolute but her speech was an attack on democracy and the right of political parties, people and the nations of the UK to choose to differ from the wanton pigheadedness of a government that would prefer to bypass parliament. The Empress is seeking a divine right to rule. We have been warned.
A version of this article first appeared on Newsnet.scot on 19th April 2017