Friday, 9 June 2017

Konservative karma

There's a story that Niels Bohr kept a horseshoe above his door, apparently for luck. A surprised visitor asked him whether he, as a world-renowned physicist, actually believed in such superstition and Bohr supposedly replied "Of course not … but I am told it works even if you don't believe in it." Likewise, I don't believe in karma but, after the 2017 general election, I've decided that it, too, works whether you believe in it or not.

Let's start with the bad intent:
  • For petty party political advantage, the Tories put the whole nation at risk by creating an  entirely avoidable crisis (the EU referendum).
  • Then they did it again (prematurely triggering Article 50 without having any strategy beyond making empty threats from a position of obvious weakness).
  • Then they did it again (triggering an election in the middle of a set of high-stakes, time-limited negotiations, which were already squeezed into an unrealistically short timetable).
And what happened as a direct result?
  • The universe duly rewarded them with a well-deserved kicking, precisely calibrated to hurt like hell, without actually kicking them out of office and leaving some other poor sods to clear up the mess they created.

Now all the opposition has to do is wait by the river for the body of their enemy to float by.

The only possible way Labour could screw this up and not profit from the Tories' self-inflicted death by Brexit is by engaging in another bout of in-fighting which takes the headlines off the Conservative car crash. And, while this is entirely possible, even some of the "topple Corbyn at all costs" brigade seem to have acknowledged that Labour did far better than expected by maintaining party discipline and may even have realised that now isn't the time for plotting and coup attempts.

As for the Conservatives, they could possibly recover a bit of ground by making a sensible choice of leader. Ruth Davidson, who's done so well in Scotland, would be an obvious choice.** She comes across as down to earth, intelligent, feisty and even warm, a freakishly rare combination in the modern Conservative Party and she's the sort of leader opposition parties should fear.

But, for now, they're stuck with the same cold, brittle, robotic control freak they went into the election with and, with any luck, the Tories, instead of doing the sensible thing, will simply replace her with some other catastrophic weirdo.

Whether, in the ensuing chaos, it's possible to destroy Brexit and save the nation is another question, but it feels as though the Overton Window may have shifted enough to move the conversation on from the idiotic "No deal is better than a bad deal" mindset to the slightly more sensible "No Brexit is better than a bad Brexit."*

*A "bad Brexit" being any Brexit which leaves the UK worse off than it would have been if it had continued with its existing EU membership (i.e. almost any conceivable Brexit, so, in short, "No Brexit is better than Brexit"). Whether Article 50 is reversible, or some "Brexit in name only" deal could be fudged, remains to be seen.

** Update - No she wouldn't, at least while she's a Member of the Scottish Parliament. They'd need to get her into Westminster first, which isn't straightforward,  even if she was up for it.  I should have engaged brain before making that suggestion.  Still, I can console myself in my embarrassment with the thought that the unavailability of Ruth Davidson means that  their leadership crisis is even worse.