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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Tory blames voters for Government's failings

The whole point of  a democracy is that Government and its policy direction is determined by the voters. It is a risky business going to the country before you need to, riskier still if you try to fight an election on a single issue.

History is littered with failures of judgement in this regard, whether it is Asquith losing his majority over the course of 1910 on the issue of whether the House of Lords could veto the 'People's budget', or Ted Heath in 1974 on 'who governs Britain?' It turned out that it wasn't him. Asquith's gamble turned out better for the country in the long-run than Ted Heath's.

Most people consider Theresa May's ham-fisted attempt to turn a modest majority into a thumping one earlier this year to be a personal failure for which she needs to shoulder complete responsibility.

She went to the country demanding that they help her overcome the sensible wing of her party, who want to defend Britain's best interest in Brexit negotiations. The country, which is divided roughly 50-50 on this matter, returned a House of Commons that reflected their own indecision. As a result May was left up a dead-end European creek without a paddle.

But no, according to one Tory grandee, it was all our fault. In the Independent William Hague is quoted as blaming the British public for making "a mistake" at the general election, by failing to return a Conservative majority and weakening the country’s hands in the Brexit negotiations with the EU.

Lord Hague is a historian of course, so he will understand the purport of what he is alleging. Perhaps he needs to step back and put the events of the last decade into context.

David Cameron won the Tory leadership on the back of a Eurosceptic manifesto. He was then foiled by the Liberal Democrats from throwing the UK off a cliff edge through implementing his promised referendum. Once he got his hands on the levers of power without that restraining force in 2015, Cameron went ahead and delivered a referendum, which had more to do with keeping his party together than serving the country's best interests.

Once lost, he resigned and passed the baton to Theresa May, who clearly did not have a clue how to proceed. Nor did any of her colleagues. However, on the basis of pure opportunism she decided to take advantage of good poll data and go to the country in the hope of her securing a freer hand in negotiations. Alas that back-fired on her too.

If William Hague is looking for anybody to blame he should look no further than his own party's leadership. Unfortunately, it is the country that is going to suffer the most for their ineptitude.
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