“It’s a shame all the people who know how to run the country are busy cutting hair and driving taxis’. I often think about that quotation as I pen my latest blog post, especially when writing about politics or current affairs. It doesn’t stop me offering my view, even if its lacks originality or has the feel or a bar stool expert – or as American’s say (another great expression) being a “Monday morning quarterback”.
It is the current vogue in politics to compare the current mess the Tory party and government is in with the dark days of the 1992 John Major government. The comparison works to a point; divisions on Europe, a wobbly economy and sleaze and sexual misconduct threatening the standing and reputation of politics. It also is worth noting that whilst John Major inherited an 11 year old government, Mrs May isn’t far behind, now seven and a half years into this latest period of Tory-led governments. But, the comparison is limited and misjudged.
There is one very big difference. The threat offered by the Labour Party and by extension the relatively strong position of the Tories (their support has not collapsed, probably due to Brexit and the death of UKIP) – an ICM poll today had Labour and the Tories neck and neck at 41% – is a shadow today of what it was in the build up to the 1997 election. Is is far to say that although Jeremy Corbyn has defied many of his critics, he appears unwilling or unable to seize on the government’s current problems. To use a previously-used metaphor in politics; when the ball breaks from the scum, you have to pick it up and run. He seems reluctant. Evidenced by his current low profile and low visibility. I am left wondering – not for the first time – does he really want this? To paraphrase again and look back on that 1992-1997 period, Mr Corbyn, you are no John Smith or Tony Blair.
As Mr Blair himself said at the weekend, Labour should be 20 points or more clear at this point given the calamitous few months for the government and the hopeless leadership and public relations and communications skills of Mrs May. They are not. The Tories – for all their problems and they have plenty – are still in the race for the next election. They are very much alive and kicking. If I was in the Labour Party I would be worried. They are not driving home their advantage.
Jeremy Corbyn led today at PMQs on crime and Home Office-related suff. Mistake. That is the one turf Theresa May is confident and comfortable on and it helped her get into her stride and have a relatively good outing. No mention today by Mr Corbyn of losing two cabinet ministers despite this being the first chance since their departures. Mistake. He needs to grasp the opportunity that has been handed to him on a plate – but as I have written before he has the unenviable distinction of being less suited to being prime minister than the current occupant of No 10. If things continue as they are, I now think that if the Tories can somehow muster up a decent leader to replace Mrs May, all is still to play for, thanks to Mr Corbyn’s limitations.
You’ll never guess who I had in my cab last week…….
Photo taken from BBC news website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-41990903