I must admit, all the hype and hyperbole this last week has left me jaded. Much more so by the constant barrage of bandwagon calls for TM the PM to resign. When I was young, we used to play a particularly ruthless game of ‘All Get Gang onto ___, naming the unfortunate one who had been selected that week to be ostracised in our junior school. We grew out of that, and saw it as superficial nonsense, or so I had thought.
We heard that Mrs May tethered herself to only three advisors within her chosen cabinet to make good on the election. She became a parody of the ‘strong and stable’ slogan. She was sold out! Now her so-called junior friends are gone, and good riddance! If we are to understand politics, we must first understand our roots in the playground. ‘All get gang onto May’ prevailed here, too. Everyone in Government slithered into cars to avoid the backlash to a failed attempt to gain an outright majority. The majority which was supposed to silence the critics once and for all. The critics balked in light of the result. Head down, smile gone, the Prime Minister remains for now.
Isn’t it better to let the majority May keep her knickers on, and favour the Brexit plan we all had forced upon us when Cameron last misjudged the public? My take on the political baby-house is rather slapstick, but I would imagine everyone has been whipped up by a vicious press who only want their pound of flesh. The election is over, the shit hit the fan, now let us, using another May slogan “get on with it”! After all, that is what we Brits do for a living – the other people might wish to ‘mer-mer-mer-mer-mer’ for a while, too, but to what avail? I hate bullies, and I hate weasels like George Osborne, who is no longer a member of Parliament, but who suddenly peed all over the ‘slur May’ bandwagon all too quickly. He’s so sharp, he wants to be careful of cutting himself. A smugness like that bears a hard thousand-foot drop, I fear! It does no-one any good, is damaging to the Country, and puts our PM in a damnable situation going into the Brexit talks. We have all learned a lesson, all of us. But it is the whole of the British people, as indeed the whole world, who will take the consequences of a minority of tongue-pullers who only think they were clever. The way forward is to stop bickering, and start building bridges. We are going to need them to cross the divide into no-man’s land.
We have a history, sadly, of knifing in the back, and having to pick up the pieces of a broken system. Some of you will remember these people:
- Sir Anthony Eden, Conservative, 1955 – 1957
- When Sir Winston Churchill retired due to ill health, Eden took over as prime minister. Many years before, Churchill had anointed Eden as his successor, but later acknowledged he had made ‘a great mistake’. His opinion was born out as the new PM blundered into the Suez Crisis. Following Egypt’s decision to nationalise the Suez canal, Britain (the principal shareholder), France and Israel invaded in October 1956 to near-universal condemnation and the threat of nuclear strikes by the Soviet Union. Within a week, Britain was forced into an embarrassing climb-down. Humiliated and in ill-health, Eden left the country for a holiday at the Jamaican home of James Bond author, Ian Fleming. He returned in mid-December to the sarcastic newspaper headline: ‘Prime Minister Visits Britain’. He resigned on 9 January 1957.
- Ramsay MacDonald, Labour, 1924
- In 1924, MacDonald briefly became the first Labour prime minister, ending two centuries of Conservative – Liberal domination of British politics. It was the first party to gain power with the express purpose of representing the voice of the ‘working class’. An MP since 1906, MacDonald was respected as a thinker, but criticised by many within his own party as insufficiently radical (despite appointing the first female cabinet minister, Margaret Bondfield, in 1929). His opposition to World War One had made him deeply unpopular and he continually suffered a torrid time at the hands of the press. The publication by two newspapers of the ‘Zinoviev letter’ did much to damage his chances in the run up to the 1924 election. The letter (which he had seen but decided to keep secret) purported to be from Soviet intelligence and urged British communists to commit acts of sedition. He lost by a wide margin. The letter is now widely accepted to be a fraud.
- Stanley Baldwin, Conservative, 1923
- During his very brief first term as prime minister, Stanley Baldwin bumped into an old school friend on a train. Asked what he was doing these days, Baldwin replied: ‘I am the prime minister.’ Having come to power following Andrew Bonar Law’s resignation, he called an election in the hope of gaining his own mandate (election by popular vote), but lost.
That last one rings an old school bell, does it not? My father was a staunch Labour man, believing, and relying on, its historical values to uphold the rights of the working man. He railed against overt showmanship and what he called ‘bolshy’ politics. He would shout at the black and white screen in the corner of his living room until he went purple if the press so much as tried to bully his favoured candidate. My mother would pass him a cup of tea. The show as they say, must go on! But let us leave the playground behind, shall we? Bourbon Cream anyone?