Theresa May Likes it Hard

By Patrick Brogan

The first I heard of Teresa May was back when I Googled (not an endorsement) stripper in Smack My Bitch Up, the brilliant video by The Prodigy. When I heard she was in the running for Prime Minister I thought this is a politician I can really get behind (pun intended). Imagine my dismay when I realised Theresa May was not Teresa May. This is exactly the type of thing a misogynist would write. A caveman. Somebody that the media would have you believe voted leave in the EU Referendum. I ain’t one, despite the rumours. I believe the patriarchal system should be challenged and Theresa May is not the person to do this.

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Britain looking for the exit door. All pics, including Featured Image, 
available from Pixabay unless stated

Britain; Your Empire is Gone

Think about England’s national anthem and its two most patriotic songs. God Save the Queen compounds the right to rule of those whose only talent is being born into a certain family. Rule Britannia justifies Britain’s right to dominate others and Jerusalem establishes an imaginary link to the Holy Land and thus, a divine right to rule. Analyse these lines;

The nations, not so blest as thee,
Must, in their turns, to tyrants fall;
While thou shalt flourish great and free,
The dread and envy of them all.
“Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:
“Britons never will be slaves.”

While most anthems and nationalistic songs promote a sense of us being better than them, Britain’s exudes a sense of all-out, global dominance that is hard to find elsewhere. Also, the irony that a nation that has for centuries clung on to a redundant royal family sneers at other nations falling prey to tyrants. Poppycock, as they would say.

This sense of confidence has been eroded over the centuries, but that element of entitlement has remained in certain quarters of the British psyche. Britain is not alone in that regard, most colonial European powers still have this will to dominate, if not militarily then through economics and diplomacy.

Britain has for so long been tied up in the fate of its royal family and empire that when the former loses relevancy and the latter ceases to exist the entire nation suffers an identity crisis. This has been the case for a long time now.

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Many have been looking to hit the Article 50 button

Thatcherism

Like a really bad echo, the effects of the only other female Prime Minister are still being felt. She was like Gordon Gekko on protein shakes. Margaret Thatcher promoted a huge disparity between the rich and poor, let the fat-cats in the City run riot by destroying regulation, did her best to suppress the arts and any dissent, got involved in a pointless war in another hemisphere and increased tensions between Britain and its neighbouring island. Why? In short, because she was a woman. As the first female Prime Minister, it was important she showed she was not weak or effeminate, so she overcompensated for this by pushing more macho and aggressive policies than Britain had seen in a while.

The Hair Blair Bunch

The Blair years promised so much, didn’t they? Especially if you were young. Even Noel Gallagher was on board. Noel Gallagher! Then he and his policies dragged Britain through a brutal financial meltdown. The future for many British people hasn’t looked so bleak since the Iron Lady was in charge. Although the Labour Party was described as a left-wing party, it was anything but. Blair and Brown followed much the same formula as the Thatcher Government did before, leaving the greedy bankers to their own will, cosying up to the media barons, etc. Then there were the wars.

Afghanistan and Iraq

The British military has long had a fascination with Afghanistan. They sort of conquered it, but they didn’t at the same time. Everytime time they have gone there, they achieved a relatively brief victory on the battlefields before being drawn into a gruelling and bloody guerilla war that has questioned their resolve. The conflict after 9/11 was no different. What has always perplexed me after the 9/11 attacks is Saudi Arabia’s role. Of the 19 hijackers, 15 were Saudi and, as we are finding out, many were funded by the Saudi government. Surely, this is more ‘worthy’ of an invasion rather than the country that housed the supposed mastermind.

The Iraq War. One the biggest stains on Britain’s long and bloody history. The British were more complicit in this than any other because without their intelligence community producing the false dossier on weapons of mass destruction it would not have happened. Britain was all too ready to comply with America’s wishes. The lap-dog. A fall from grace for a nation that “will never be slaves” and rules the waves. Funny how many are worried about Britain’s “swarm” of refugees coming in from Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan when they, more than most, created the dreadful conditions these people are fleeing from.

The EU Referendum

David Cameron. Is he a bit of a shit? Probably. Is that reason enough to leave the EU? Not really. When you ask people why Britain voted to leave the EU they usually give you one factor. Fear of immigration, a Cameron protest vote, a rejection of Brussels control and so on and so on. The reality is it is a mixture of these things and more. It also must be pointed out that as May refers to millions that voted to leave –17.4 –, millions –16.1 — voted to stay. Britain is a deeply divided nation. Anyone who has watched Jeremy Kyle knows this. Why this is so, is also complicated. Although we have touched on some of the unique elements of British society, we also must factor in international trends like globalisation, technology and the changing definition of gender to name just a few. This is what Theresa May has inherited.

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A screenshot from the Sky News YouTube channel

The Speech

So did Brexit mean Brexit and are we going to have a “hard” Brexit? Well, ultimately we will have to wait, but May’s speech was full of intent and would no doubt would have reassured many citizens. She claimed that her compatriots were “voting for a brighter future” and to “embrace the world”, but not Europe, clearly. At times it was a bit washy, but she did go into some more detail. In terms of trade, the UK will now look to the colonies as trading partners. Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, India and Singapore are looking to enter free trade agreements. Leaving the EU will also open the way for trade deals with other huge developed or developing economies like China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, Brazil and Mexico. So, there are definitely positive spin-offs from leaving the EU, but the fact remains that of the UK’s top ten trading partners, seven are still within the union.

She also said that EU law will be converted into British law and that Britain would be the same the day before and after she leaves the institution, a seamless transition. Another key point is that it will go before both Houses of Parliament. The economy is always to the fore and May doffed her cap to the Euroskeptics by saying that the Customs Union prevents Britain from doing its own trade agreements. Again, on the face of it, this is a good thing.

Negatives

Now, the negatives. Oh, goody. When the PM says that she is aiming for “a strong, confident and united” country mere words are not going to cut it because if the referendum has shown us anything it is the UK is a very divided country. Laughably, a woman with a background in banking asked for a “genuine social and economic reform”. A Tory-led UK outside of European influence is about as far as you can get from that. Jeremy Corbyn is much more likely to bring in these reforms.

The claim that Britain is a “racially tolerant society” is surely disputed by the families of the Aborigines’ Stolen Generation, the native Canadian children taken away from their parents to breed “the native” out of them, the 10 million Bengalis that died during the great famine in the 18th century. I could go on. The thousands upon thousands of black and white people forced into concentration camps in South Africa during the Boer Wars — many of whom died– and this separation of races resulted in a distrust that led to the apartheid system, the Iraqis on numerous occasions, the Irish on numerous occasions. Really, there is too many to go on. The hundreds of thousands of Kenyans, raped, tortured and murdered during the Mau-Mau uprising in the last century, the millions of Indians that died under British rule during many famines, the biological warfare against the Native Americans.

I don’t want to flog a dead horse here and I’m trying not to indulge in a bit of Brit-bashing, but — and this is not a slur on the British public — the fact remains; wherever British Imperial interests went blood soon followed and there aren’t too many exceptions to this rule. Why I bring this up is because Britain has never accepted this and contrary to this most are proud of the Empire. It is very difficult for a nation like Britain to move forward without acknowledging its past and Theresa May saying Britain has always been a racially tolerant society does not help.

The “National Interest” was mentioned, too. I wonder what type of odds you would have got on that. Interestingly enough she mentioned this in relation to the media reporting on Britain’s exit strategy. Surely, the British people are well within their rights to demand to know what way their country is heading. Who is this Theresa May?

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Credit to DonkeyHotey/WikiCommons

Who is Theresa May?

If you listen to our podcast,  you would know we have varying opinions on the Prime Minister of the UK. I am particularly critical. However, I believe, on the whole, her speech was good and she has covered a lot of bases in how she handled the British people’s request to leave the union. She is respecting the democratic process by putting it to the two houses of the parliament to vote. She also points out that Britain will have more wriggle room trading with nations outside of the EU, but in a very non-offensive and practical way.

That said, there are reasons to worry about the future of Blighty. Firstly, her links to the banks. She is a former banker and her husband, Philip, was a fund manager at the time of the financial crash. She has an Oxbridge background, like the previous incumbent David Cameron, he who was much maligned for being out of touch. Then, and this is significant as she is supposedly promoting democratic values, a single vote was not cast in her name to land the most important political office in the land. Surely she should have called an election. This would have given whoever won a clear mandate and a clear strategy on how to negotiate with Brussels.

Initially, I thought she was right to take her time over what way to proceed with the political maelstrom that she inherited. But, a number of people have been critical of how she disappears during a crisis. A Labour MP, Yvette Cooper, said she hides when things go wrong. All communications cease, she leaves a vacuum where nobody even knows whether she still exists or not. As Cooper correctly pointed out; that may be acceptable at the Home Office but as Prime Minister that shit won’t fly.

Other areas of concern are The Investigatory Powers Act (the snooper’s charter) and the plan to replace the Human Rights Act with a Bill of Rights. So surveillance will increase and human right’s will decrease. There is a smell of TTIP off it alright. Amongst the caveats there is one little ray of hope. She stopped Gary McKinnon from being deported to the US. Who knows? He may have suffered a similar fate to Chelsea Manning.

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May back in 2007, opening a church. Credit to Andrew Burdett/WikiCommons

The Outcome

There were big political repercussions after the Leave campaign won. What we did see was that many British people, after decades of neglect, are unhappy with the status quo. If this is the case, you can’t be happy that in the fallout a Vicar’s daughter, married to a banker and with a banking background, that was educated in Oxford is now Prime Minister, and only by default. Is it not the establishment people were trying to change? I can’t think of a more perfect embodiment of the establishment than Theresa May and now she is the top-dog. She also seems very distant, like the Queen. Maybe that’s the next gig she’s angling for.

The decision to leave is a knee jerk reaction to an EU that is seen as failing. The current structures within the EU do work, we know this. We have 60 years of evidence to fall back on. The problem is the control of the banks, which has led to most European economies being bleed dry. Is Theresa of the Banks the woman to correct this? Hardly. She has handled the uncertainty well, but conservatism is not what the British public want and it definitely hasn’t served them well up to this point. The best possible outcome would have been that the British bargain with the EU. If the EU reforms, Britain would stay. However, it looks like Britains island mentality was won out. It served the royalty and nobility of the nation in the past, but the world has moved on. Will Britain move with it?

 

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