I realise that all sides cry ‘foul’ when it comes to politics – and to sport, which politics these days is coming more and more to resemble. So it’s easy to discount it as simply sour grapes. ‘You lost. Get over it’. That seems to be the response of the authoritarian Right these days, which is claiming that any criticism at all of a decision once made is illegitimate and – in the case of the Brexit vote – even treasonable.
This kind of hysteria may derive from the Brexiteers’ realisation, or at least suspicion, that their very narrow victory in last year’s referendum may have owed something to ‘dirty tricks’, including suborning the popular press, false promises, lies, and – recently unearthed – the use of subtle internet weapons to skew opinion. In which case there would be an argument for a re-run, on a more level playing field (the sporting analogy again), rather than relying on such a flawed measure of the popular will at one narrow and fraught period of time. The result might well turn out the same. But even if so, it would have more political and moral legitimacy, and so be easier for the losers to ‘get over’. I’m always happy to accept the result if West Ham lose fairly (as often happens); but I can be gripped with resentment for months if it’s because Chelsea have cheated. I’ll feel the same after this coming General Election, where the cheating, on the Conservative side, is widespread and blatant. I’ve never before encountered more ‘diving’ in the penalty area.
It’s not all cheating, of course. The Tories have also been very clever, in playing to the bias of their media. Hiding Theresa away was a brilliant ploy; if she’s shut up in the lav any time there are ‘ordinary voters’ around, she’s not going to stumble into being challenged by unexpectedly sharp questions from housewives or pensioners, or be surprised eating a burger clumsily. We know very little about Theresa, apart from what she revealed in (a) that cosy TV chat with her tax-avoiding but quite charming hubby, (b) her frankly authoritarian tenure of the Home Office, and (c) a couple of crazy antediluvian policies she has blurted out – hunting, grammar schools. Which makes the Tories’ choice of her as their vote-winner – all their propaganda is for her, not for her party – curious, you might think, but actually quite a cunning ploy. Let her be defined by her dull, anonymous, robotic but ‘strong and stable’ image, while at the same time concentrating minutely on Jeremy’s failings – some real, many others invented – in order to sink him. It will probably work.
I imagine that TM’s new appeal to ‘working class’ voters by stealing even more of JC’s clothes – workers’ rights restored, and the like – might help too. These Tories really are clever. Not intelligent, but ‘clever’; a quality the British are supposed to despise – what other country has a term like ‘too clever by half’ in its language? – but which will probably get Theresa home. What happens when she’s allowed out of the toilet is anyone’s guess. But that’s the whole point. We’re not supposed to know.
PS (later today). TM has at last been persuaded out of the lav to meet some ordinary folk. It’s not going well for her. But will it get on the telly? Or Corbyn’s HUGE crowds? Let’s see.