Uhuru-Spirit News


June 09, 2017 | Uhuruspirit

Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May

Theresa May’s gamble to boost her mandate for the country’s Brexit negotiations with the European Unon (EU) turned into a disaster for her and the ruling Conservative Party after Thursday’s election ended in a hung parliament.

May was appointed as Prime Minister following David Cameron’s resignation after the shocking 2016 Brexit vote that was widely perceived as a referendum on his leadership.

May had in April called for an early election to be held on the 8th of June to give “strength and stability” to a Britain staring down two years of tough Brexit negotiations.

At the time, opinion polls showed her winning with an increased majority.

As she thought she was going to win easily and comfortably, she ran a very weak campaign that found a willing ally in the biased British media that throughout the campaign maligned Jeremy Corbyn, the then underrated Labour Party leader.

The result of the election has shown that the people of Britain have refused to grant her request.

Her party lost its majority in the House of Commons with no party gaining the 326 seats required to gain an absolute majority in the 650-seat parliament.

May's bruised Conservatives had 318 - well down from the 330 seats they had before May's roll of the electoral dice.

The opposition Labour Party won 262 seats – a massive increase from the 229 seats it was holding before the snap election.

In a blow to its hopes for another referendum on whether Scotland should leave the United Kingdom, the pro-independence Scottish National Party lost about 20 of its 54 seats. Its casualties included Alex Salmond, one of the party's highest-profile lawmakers.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said the idea of a new independence referendum "is dead."

But the big story is that Theresa May and her Conservative party are now paying the price for underrating Jeremy Corbyn and what he represents.

Interestingly, it was not the first time that Corbyn would punish politicians for underestimating him.

Mr Corbyn became Labour leader in 2015, after his party lost the previous general election to the Conservatives.

He was a wildcard entry to the Labour leadership battle, widely predicted to lose and loathed by many of his own MPs because of his socialist leaning and a reputation as an anti-war activist.

But enthusiastic grassroots support and a successful campaign of signing up new members saw the veteran MP for Islington North in London emerge victorious.

The Tories were ecstatic when they saw the opposition party engulfed in an internecine war. Not only were they in power but Labour were now divided and had a lame duck leader.

The Brexit vote came as a massive weapon for the anti-Corbyn faction of the party. The group represents the pro-establishment wing of the party who found Corbyn too far left and too radical. It includes Labour MPs, former party leaders, including people like the war-criminal, former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

They argued that the Brexit vote had exposed Corbyn’s unelectability, calling on him to follow the Cameron example and resign.

But Corbyn refused to resign and eventually forced the party to another leadership election which he won by a larger margin to remain the Labour leader.

As it happened, Theresa May did not see Jeremy Corbyn as a serious contender in April when she chose to rely on baseless assumptions and unscientific opinion polls that showed her winning an insurmountable majority.

Instead of running a positive campaign, May and her supporters chose to play dirty, continuously harping on the false narrative of Corbyn’s unelectability.

Corbyn was ridiculed as being “scruffy”, too “hard left” for voters, a “terrorist apologist” and even “Mr Unelectable”.

But Corbyn kept his cool and focused his eyes on the prize with a more positive, result-driven campaign that enchanted broad sections of the British society.

Initially blind-sided by May's snap election call, Labour surged in the final weeks of the campaign. It drew strong support from young people, who appeared to have turned out to vote in bigger-than-expected numbers.

Among the things Corbyn promise to accomplish if elected, included to:

— Opt for a “soft Brexit” by retaining access to the EU’s single market

— Immediately guarantee the future of EU nationals in Britain

— Drop what it calls “bogus” immigration caps and introduce new visas

— Nationalise Britain's railways, energy companies and the Royal Mail

— Scrap university tuition fees

— Ban work contracts that don’t guarantee a minimum number of hours

— Raise the minimum wage to “at least £10 ($17) per hour by 2020”

— National Health Service will receive more than £30 billion ($51bn) in extra funding

These could be paid for, by:

— A new 45p rate of income tax for people earning £80,000 ($135,000)

— A 50p tax rate for those on more than £123,000 ($208,000)

— Taxing firms that pay “very high” salaries to execs

— Raising company taxes.

In contrast, the Tories’ campaign launch was a disaster. A policy to force many older people — core Conservative voters — to pay more for their healthcare, dubbed the “dementia tax”, had to be humiliatingly amended. Promises to re-examine the ban on fox hunting had many urban voters scratching their heads.

May had campaigned on the promise of a "strong and stable" leadership in the Brexit process, but domestic policy dominated in the later stages of the campaign, especially after the Manchester Arena and London Bridge attacks on May 22 and June 3 respectively.

Following the London attack, she was publicly criticized by Corbyn for cutting police funding in her previous role as home secretary under David Cameron.

And her steely, virtuous demeanour was a double-edged sword when it came to public opinion - while she has consistently polled as competent and strong, others see her as harsh and dull.

Mr Corbyn seemed far more assured and Labour’s policies of more money for health, raising the minimum wage and nationalisation of public assets seemed to resonate.

In the age of austerity, Labour’s mantra of “For the many, not the few” chimed with many Brits.

Writing in the Huffington Post, foreign policy expert and visiting fellow at Oxford University, Dr Kadira Pethiyagoda, said Mr Corbyn’s was “radically popular with ordinary people”.

“Corbyn had the ideal profile for our current historical moment, including the traits that made [US Democrat Presidential candidate Bernie] Sanders popular: An outsider at a time when people are beyond tired of establishment insiders; pilloried by the elite and undermined by his party’s establishment, yet carried by people-power.

“Packing out town squares with supporters, swelling party membership to 500,000 plus; scruffy and unpolished at a time when slick, talking-points-driven robots are well past their use-by date; integrity and consistent morals for over 30 years in an era where trust in politics is at its lowest.”

Many people said the UK election was Ms May’s to lose. With a disastrous campaign the Conservatives’ campaign lived up to this low expectation.

European leaders grappled with the question: what next? French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the election shock didn't necessarily mean that Britons have changed their minds about leaving but also predicted that "the tone" of negotiations may be affected.

"These are discussions that will be long and that will be complex. So let's not kid ourselves," he said on Europe 1 radio.

EU budget commissioner Guenther Oettinger said the EU is prepared to stick to the timetable that calls for negotiations to start in mid-June, but also said: "Without a government, there's no negotiation."

Theresa May Clings on to Power

In a buoyant mood, Corbyn piled on pressure for May to resign, saying Friday morning that people have had enough of austerity politics and cuts in public spending. He ruled out the potential for deals or pacts with other progressive parties in Parliament.

"The arguments the Conservative Party put forward in this election have lost, and we need to change."

Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson was among those who called on Theresa May to resign after the election.

"Theresa May's authority has been undermined by this election, she is a damaged prime minister whose reputation may never recover," he said.

In May's camp, recriminations were immediate and stinging.

"This is a very bad moment for the Conservative Party, and we need to take stock," Conservative lawmaker Anna Soubry said. "Our leader needs to take stock as well."

But Theresa May has made it very clear that she won’t resign. She is already building a minority government with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), a party that won 10 seats.

“What the country needs more than ever is certainty,” May said outside Number 10 Downing Street, adding that as the party that won the most votes, it was up to the Conservatives to form a new government, with the help of their “friends and allies in the Democratic Unionist Party in particular.”

The Tory leader, addressing the nation after returning from Buckingham Palace where she sought permission from Queen Elizabeth to form a minority government, said the Tories and the DUP had enjoyed a “strong relationship over many years” and would be able to work together in the interests of the country.

It will be interesting to see whether she can win the support of her party going forward.

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