By MICHAEL BLACKBURN.
WE SEEM TO BE suffering a surfeit of elections these days. No sooner is one out of the way (Scottish referendum, 2014), than there’s a proper election (UK general election, 2015) and another referendum (EU referendum 2016), followed by a lengthy US election (2016), followed by UK local elections (2017) and a French general election (2017), while another UK general election rides into view. Oh, and there was a general election in Canada in 2015, but nobody paid that any attention.
For us in Brexit Britain, though, we only care about ourselves and perhaps a bit about the US. The election of Monsieur Macron in France was greeted by the media with relief and satisfaction and by the populace with curmudgeonly apathy. All that most people know about Macron is that he looks like he’s a bit too young to be in charge of one of Europe’s biggest nations and that he married his teacher. No doubt he’ll huff and puff Gallically over the Brexit negotiations while doing exactly what his boss, Mrs Merkel, tells him to. The “open”, “stronger” Europe racket is still in business, so the one thing the French can do is stock up on candles and prepare themselves for the next round of Muslim terror attacks.
Macron’s political future is uncertain — he has yet to form a government, for a start — unlike Theresa May’s. The last round of local government elections has given her and the Conservatives the signal they need to go into the general election with confidence, and from that should come a sense of solidity in the country’s position (“strong and stable”, as the mantra goes) with regard to the EU. I just hope those involved in the negotiations understand clearly that they will be dealing with a gang of top-class shysters, liars and con merchants who will stoop very low indeed to make things difficult. Leaking gossip from a dinner is just a tiny foretaste of what is likely to come. Yanis Varoufakis, Greece’s former finance minister, has warned what to expect:
Mr Varoufakis said his meetings about Greece’s future had been filled with frustration and that his hopes for reaching a compromise were ruined because the EU “loathes democracy”.
Theresa May has dealt pretty robustly with the dinner spat and looks presentable as a PM simply by not being any of the other party leaders. At least she talks as if she cares about the country, which is more than can be said for the other leaders. The outlook for her career and for the Tories will be dire if they don’t deliver, however. Unfortunately for the rest of us there is no viable opposition to replace them if that happened.
LibDem leader Farron bumbles about with a permanently pained and earnest expression on his face, no doubt desperately hoping that no one asks him again about his views on homosexuality. Until the media speared him with the “do you believe homosexuality is a sin?” question I didn’t even know he was a Christian. Much as I dislike his politics I can’t help but feel for him as he squirmed for a few days before capitulating with the equivalent of a recantation. Expressing a belief in the saintliness of all gay activity is now a requirement of public life; any other stance is heresy for which you will be metaphorically burned at the stake. Which is a bit ironic given that most of the media are atheistic left wing liberal types who don’t believe in God or the concept of sin in the first place. Perhaps Farron should have quoted the “render unto Caesar” injunction, but then most of them wouldn’t even get that.
So Farron is a forlorn captain, hamstrung by a lack of charisma and a commitment to a European project that the British electorate has rejected. The biggest laughing stock is Labour, who suffered in the local elections and are on track, it seems ineluctably and inevitably, for a sizable defeat in the general election. It is times like this that leadership really does play a vital part in political success. Neither Farron nor Corbyn have an ounce of leadership nous in them. Corbyn couldn’t organise his way into a paper bag, let alone out of it again. His lieutenants, a raggle-taggle band of blundering time servers and pathetic backroom Marxists, turn up on primetime media parading their monumental incompetence without a glimmer of shame or self-awareness. Corby’s spavined leadership will take them to electoral defeat, and the likelihood is that Labour won’t have the means or the guts to remove him. There’s comedic value in that, at least.
Still, once we’ve got this election out of the way, we can hope for a few years of peace before the next one. Fingers crossed.
Currente Calamo columnist, poet, writer and lecturer Michael Blackburn lives in Lincolnshire . From 2005–2008 he was the Royal Literary Fund fellow at the University of Lincoln where he now teaches English Literature and Creative Writing. His poetry has appeared in numerous publications and anthologies over the years, including Being Alive (Bloodaxe) and Something Happens, Sometimes Here (Five Leaves Press). His most recent collection is Spyglass Over The Lagoon. A selection of his Fortnightly Currente Calamo columns, Sucks To Your Revolution: Annoying The Politically Correct (US), is available as a Kindle ebook.