I suppose a turd can only be polished so many times before it’s worn down into nothing, even if the turd that Theresa May has been polishing for what feels like a lifetime wasn’t exactly a prize-winning stool to begin with. You have to hand it to the Prime Minister, though; she keeps polishing away with her duster and can of Mr Sheen, determined the whole country will see its reflection in it sooner or later; trouble is, that turd has only ever shown her reflection, which is apt for a woman who is undoubtedly the shittest holder of her office in living memory. Well, if you can’t be blunt now, eh?

On Tuesday, just 48 hours away from another anticipated annihilation at the polling station, the chronically deluded Mrs May unveiled her revised strategy for finally getting her useless EU withdrawal deal through Parliament; and she’s surpassed herself yet again, alienating everybody she desperately tried to woo with another series of opportunistic promises that will never be delivered and everyone can see through. At times, her behaviour reminds me of a doomed gambler owing a fortune to a mobster that the debt collector knows cannot be paid, offering everything but the kitchen sink in the absence of cash. ‘Take the HD TV set – I’ve only had it six months and it cost a fortune; take my car – it’s worth five grand, easily; take my watch, my mother’s engagement ring, the shirt off my back…’ BANG!

Ironically, Theresa May has at last achieved something that has seemed impossible for the past couple of years: she’s actually united the Commons. Unfortunately for her, she’s united it in opposition. Labour, the SNP, the DUP, the Lib Dems, the Greens, and the majority of her own party – all united against what must surely be the final despairing throw of the dice for this embarrassingly hapless and hopeless Prime Minister. Brexiteers and Remainers alike have turned their noses up at the latest add-ons to the same old deal, the deal that has been rejected so many times that it’s hard to remember which occasions promised which bribes. On one of them, she said she’d quit if it got through; on another, she said the magic money tree in the Downing Street garden would sprout a few notes for deprived communities Oop North if it got through; now, she’s even stooped so low as offer a vote on a second referendum if it gets through, one more U-turn for the book. And nobody is buying it.

After six futile weeks of beer & sandwiches chinwags with Labour that resulted in bugger all, May has publicly announced Corbyn-flavoured compromises I suspect she tried out behind closed doors – workers’ rights, environmental protection, customs union, and (of course) second referendum – yet the response from the Opposition is the same. John McDonnell had a valid point when he compared entering into an agreement with this Government to signing a contract with a company poised to go into administration. Their word is no bond at all because they are on the verge of collapse, and any agreement would be null and void before the ink had even dried. Everyone bar our lame duck leader can see it. She has changed nobody’s mind with this week’s model; by the evening following yesterday’s announcement, not one MP who was opposed to the deal last time round had declared their conversion to the PM’s way of thinking and promised to vote differently.

All of this was pretty inevitable, however. The disastrous gamble of the 2017 General Election was evidence enough that Mrs May was out of her depth on a scale unseen since old Turnip Taylor’s memorably woeful stint as England manager in the early 90s. The Tories did not like that, but when they had their opportunity to oust May last December, they bottled it; the absence of an outstanding candidate to replace her and perennial fear of Jezza grabbing the keys to No.10 persuaded the party to retain a leader too obstinate and perhaps too stupid to realise its decision was not motivated by any faith in her ability to get the job done. Most of this could have been prevented, but the Conservative Party is now paying the price for its failure to show May the door.

The Ghost of Referendums Past in the shape of Mr Milkshake himself has returned to haunt the Tories and send them plummeting to the bottom of virtually every poll published over the last month or so; May had already alienated the party’s blue-rinsed backbone with certain polices outlined in the 2017 manifesto, but diehard Tory voters are now abandoning their traditional voting preferences handed down like family heirlooms and are flocking in their droves to a party that wouldn’t need to exist had Mrs May and her unruly underlings honoured the Referendum result as they told us they would two years ago. Should Theresa May’s pitiful premiership ever lay claim to a ‘legacy’ once it’s put out of its misery, chances are that legacy will be the Brexit Party.

Right now, there appear to be just two parties unashamedly honest in their intentions – Farage’s lot and Old Mother Cable’s wet blankets. The Lib Dem’s ‘Stop Brexit’ posts dotted around suburban grass verges – or indeed their attempt at wooing the proles, ‘Bollocks to Brexit’ – is a rare example of plain-speaking in a political culture wracked with doublethink rhetoric. At least the Lib Dems aren’t masking their Remoaner agenda in unconvincing pretensions to a ‘Brexit for all’ fantasy; that’s been half the problem with May, not to mention Corbyn’s crowd, which is why both are being deserted by once-loyal constituencies that voted Leave in 2016. This is a mess entirely of the political class’s making, and the fact so many members of it still don’t understand – either by demanding a second referendum or simply pretending nobody can discern the fact they’re Remainers in Leave clothing – not only shows they have learnt nothing but that they are utterly incapable of learning anything.

The political class and their ideological allies, the media class, can see the writing on the wall, but they don’t want to read it; so, they resort to clutching at any straw they can magic-up. Indulging in daily smears against their opponents or ordering an investigation into the Brexit Party’s funding that has found no evidence of wrongdoing any different from the far-from saintly way most political parties are funded – none of these tired tactics are working for anyone other than Farage. Every dairy-based beverage aimed in his direction only serves to guarantee another dozen votes for his party come tomorrow; the political and media classes are pouring petrol on the bonfire and can’t figure out why their actions aren’t putting out the flames.

Presiding over the longest unbroken parliament since the English Civil War, Theresa May and her rump rabble will one day give us a cracking six-part Sunday night serial, for the Watergate factor of government-in-meltdown makes for a far more engrossing drama than one about an administration winning landslides. There’s never been a shortage of dramatisations of Thatcher’s fall from power, for example; but who would want to watch one based around the 1987 General Election? At this moment in time, however, we aren’t watching the meltdown of May from the distance of decades and wondering if they picked the right cast to play her motley crew; it’s happening for real right in front of us – and the only definite outcome of this drama is that Theresa is toast.

© The Editor


It may not be a long hot summer ahead of us – give or take the odd ‘phew, what a scorcher’ day – but it promises to be one in which our nation’s elected representatives plan and plot their enticing battle strategies for the autumn. As Westminster covers its furniture for a couple of months, MPs return to their constituencies and prepare not so much for government as for the next stage of the war. Being an observer and writer on events of this nature, I find these are invigorating times to be doing so. In the last three years, we’ve had two referendums (one regional, one national) and two General Elections; and none appear to have resolved any of the issues that prompted them in the first place. We seem to be in a permanent, if fascinating, state of flux.

I was talking to a friend the other day on how cinema and television mirror the political uncertainties of the day in their output; current offerings from ‘A Handmaid’s Tale’ to ‘The Walking Dead’ and even the revived ‘Planet of the Apes’ series seem to me to reflect the mistrust and diminishing faith in the institutions that govern western society, a factor that has gathered pace post-9/11 and in the wake of the 2008 financial crash. Interestingly, the last time this trend was so prominent was back in the 70s – with everything from ‘Survivors’ and ‘The Changes’ on the small screen to ‘Network’, ‘The Omega Man’, ‘Logan’s Run’ and ‘A Clockwork Orange’ on the big screen, dystopian portrayals of the near-future that characterised the contemporary concerns of the era that produced them.

Go back to the 50s – supposedly a far more stable era – yet we have the likes of ‘Invasion of the Body-Snatchers’ acting as a metaphor for McCarthyism, ‘Quatermass’ satirising the pre-war establishment’s flirtations with fascism as the British ruling class is infiltrated by aliens, and the post-Hiroshima fear of what the Atom Bomb left in its wake manifested as mutant creatures in ‘Tarantula’ or the Godzilla movies. After a rare bout of international optimism in the 90s – following celebrated events such as the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, the release of Nelson Mandela and the end of apartheid that followed it – the shift in mood that for those on the left has been exacerbated by Brexit or the election of Trump has resulted in a return to the apocalyptic narrative in fiction.

How this relates to the current state of play in Blighty is easier to describe in escapist terms via the fresh upsurge in fantasy trash such as ‘Love Island’ or the ongoing and increasingly desperate talent show franchise acting as television ostriches with heads firmly buried in the sand. When the TV news is so relentless in its assault on the lingering shreds of naive belief that things can only get better, however, it’s no wonder the populace turns to the modern-day equivalent of the dance marathons of the Great Depression for superficial consolation or even the comforting embrace of Regency England in the likes of ‘Poldark’.

In a way, it’s no great surprise that this has happened when the public look to their leaders for guidance and see people at the top who appear to have such a slender grip on power that it could slip away at any given moment. When one considers we have a minority Government led by a Prime Minister so in denial of her own shortcomings and eager to enter into deals with anyone that can provide her administration with the illusion of strength and stability, whether Trump, the DUP or Saudi Arabia, it doesn’t inspire much in the way of confidence. Theresa May now takes time out from what must have been a personally devastating couple of months for her to calculate how she can survive until the end of the Brexit negotiations two years hence. She’ll dust herself down for the party conference season in September, but she knows the knives are out within her own Cabinet and she’s very much living on borrowed time. Who would envy her?

A year ago, it was Jeremy Corbyn who was facing assaults from his own side, yet Jezza has emerged from the wreckage of the General Election with his position undoubtedly strengthened and his Labour opponents weakened. His remarkable winning over of the general public from such a lowly starting point has both shown the irrelevance of Fleet Street in dictating opinion and how people respond positively to the relative novelty of a politician who seems to have genuine beliefs that aren’t necessarily dependent on the shifting sands of the consensus. His response to recent terrorist events and Grenfell have captured the public mood far more effectively than May’s awkward and stilted reaction, something that won’t do him any harm come the next visit to the polling station, whenever that may be.

The euphoric mood of the Corbyn wing of the Labour Party right now couldn’t contrast greater with the shambolic infighting of the Tories, and it certainly feels that electioneering for them didn’t end on June 8. Few would argue that should the realistic possibility of another General Election at any time over the next few months come to pass, Labour appear more likely to win it than the Conservatives; and the Conservatives are all-too aware of this, which is why they’re putting the inevitable leadership contest on hold for the time being. It doesn’t say much for their prospects that the attitude they’ve adopted seems to be ‘any Prime Minister is better than no Prime Minister’.

The reduced ambition of the Lib Dems, despite moderately increasing their Parliamentary head-count after the wipe-out of 2015, has been reflected in the unopposed election of Vince Cable as leader; this backwards step is reminiscent of when the Tories had Michael Howard in the hot-seat after William Hague’s retirement in 2001, almost an admission of irrelevance. Pursuing an anti-Brexit policy that includes a desire for another EU Referendum might win them a few fans amongst diehard Remainers, but the wider electorate have already accepted Brexit and just want it to be over and done with as quickly as possible.

So, the recess is with us and the respective parties are taking a break from daily duties in the Commons; but as Mrs May heads off for a hike in the Welsh mountains and Mr Corbyn retreats to his allotment, I doubt either will view the summer as a holiday. Both have challenges ahead of them that negate putting their feet up, and the business of either running the country or preparing to run it won’t pause just because there are sandcastles waiting to be built.

© The Editor


The ungracious and shameful manner in which Charles Kennedy’s alcoholism was handled by his party – the same party, lest we forget, for which he had grabbed the largest number of seats since its previous incarnation eighty years previously – was a sober lesson in Westminster morals at their most ruthless. Stabbed in the back by colleagues with unrealisable ambitions to better what Kennedy had achieved, he was replaced by Sir Menzies (AKA ‘Ming the Merciless’) Campbell, whose leadership was such a roaring success it lasted barely a year. And then came Clegg. Alas, poor Nick, we knew him well. Gordon Brown agreed with him, and so did David Cameron.

It was only when the Con-Dem Coalition was ripped apart by cynically effective Tory electioneering in 2015 that the shackles the Lib Dems placed on the most damaging Conservative policies became apparent; not that the electorate recognised this, taking out their frustrations with austerity politics on the junior partners and decimating their numbers, forcing Nick Clegg to fall on his leadership sword as a consequence. A party reduced to single figures had little in the way of choice when it came to a successor and in stepped Tim Farron. Yes, Tim Farron; remember him?

Tim Farron was the fish finger party leader whose General Election campaign barely a month ago was dogged by persistent questions over his faith and its official position on gay sex (presumably not a missionary one). When he quit a couple of weeks ago, Farron cited his God-bothering as one of the main reasons for resigning; he apparently regarded it as an impossibility to lead his party and ‘live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible’s teaching’. Why run in the first place then, vicar?

Yes, some of the grillings he received on account of his religious beliefs were unfair; as I said at the time, would he have been similarly pursued on this one question had he been a Muslim MP rather than a Christian one? But Farron had presented the media with such an open goal that it merely highlighted his evident unsuitability for leading a political party; in recent years, his efforts at leadership have only been matched by some of the clowns in the UKIP hot-seat.

Why on earth Farron chose to compete in the last General Election campaign when he’d obviously decided to quit at the soonest available moment says everything about the diminished aspirations of the Lib Dems. That his resignation was announced on a day when the country was still coming to terms with the Grenfell Tower disaster underlines the unfortunate and inopportune timing where his party is concerned of late. Not to worry, though; the Lib Dems have their very own Jezza! Yes, Old Mother Cable is back, and it looks as if the man who sold the Royal Mail down the river during his stint as Coalition Business Secretary is poised to step into the breach as saviour!

The 74-year-old Westminster veteran was missing in action for two years, but returned to Parliament three weeks ago and now stands to lead his party out of the wilderness. Even with an improved showing at this year’s General Election, the Lib Dems still have a paucity of talent to draw upon when it comes to leadership, and another Lib Dem who has returned to Parliament after two years’ absence, Ed Davey, has ruled himself out of standing by citing the tried and trusted ‘I want to spend more time with my family’ excuse; why become an MP again if that’s such a prominent concern? Other potential contenders – Norman Lamb and Jo Swinson (another returnee) – have also pulled out, which leaves Cable with a virtually unchallenged path to the crown of thorns that is being Lib Dem leader.

Sir Vince has already stated his intention to push for a second EU Referendum, which may win him a few votes with Remainers in permanent denial, though I suspect the rest of the country will see it as precisely what it is – a desperate clutch at desperate straws by a desperate party. It’s not as though the Lib Dems have anything else to clutch at now, yet their approach to the Brexit conundrum didn’t exactly set the electorate alight during the General Election, anyway; they only won 12 seats, after all. And the fact they’re poised to place their future in the hands of a man who someone once compared to Mr Barrowclough from ‘Porridge’ just about sums up their utter irrelevance to the changed political landscape of 2017.


The news that six people – three of them former coppers – will be charged with offences relating to the Hillsborough tragedy of 1989 flies in the face of the usual routine where ex-police officers have bent the rules to cover their own backs. Early retirement is the standard reward as the offenders are pensioned off and stick to their stories. Yes, it may be a belated announcement that the Crown Prosecution Service have charged six involved on the day, but it’s about bloody time. One of the six is Sir Norman Bettison, a Chief Inspector with the South Yorkshire Police in 1989, and a man who competed with Kelvin McKenzie to propagate the most despicable myths re the behaviour of the fans that day. He is being charged with four offences of misconduct in public office.

Another senior officer at the time, David Duckenfield, is a former Chief Superintendent who was match commander on the fatal day in question; he was the man who gave the order for the exit gate to be opened and therefore allowed the rush of Liverpool fans into the central pens of the terraces behind the goals that provoked the crush that resulted in 95 deaths; he is being charged with manslaughter by gross negligence.

As happened at Orgreave during the Miners’ Strike five years earlier, South Yorkshire Police looked after their own at the expense of those who suffered as a consequence of their actions at Hillsborough; it is only due to the remarkable resilience and tenacity of the bereaved families that today’s announcement by the CPS has come to pass. Showing the same dogged determination as those who hunted down Nazi War Criminals in the 50s and 60s, their tireless efforts not only led to the Operation Resolve investigation, but they may now finally see someone held accountable in a court of law. This is long overdue, and we can only hope justice will eventually be done. If elderly ‘sex offenders’ can be pursued by the police for offences committed half-a-century ago, why can’t elderly policemen be pursued likewise?

© The Editor