THERESA MAY’S plan to engineer an absolute Tory majority on key parliamentary committees amounts to a shameless attempt to subvert the general election verdict.
May complains about being viewed as “robotic,” suggesting that she was “frustrated” during the election because of being prevented from going on the knocker and meeting ordinary voters.
Unhappiness over the election campaign you’re served up by advisers, which proves a disaster, does not authorise you, even as Prime Minister, to pretend that you won an overall majority rather than simply leading the largest party in Parliament.
She ought to honour the electorate’s decision, accept the lion’s share of Commons committee seats that the Tories’ leading position merits and seek to win agreement with MPs from other parties on the issues.
“Robotic” is perhaps the kindest thing to be said of a politician who accepts campaign team advice to confine herself to repetition of trite phrases, avoid contact with members of the public, address televised “public” meetings with audiences consisting only of banner-waving Tories and duck face-to-face political debates with the opposition.
Party leaders are not bound to accept advice or analysis from their party bureaucracy. Fortunately for Labour, Jeremy Corbyn didn’t.
The New Labour party machine in Westminster, which had organised consistently to prevent a socialist being elected and then re-elected, chose to believe its own research, backed up by the polling companies that have specialised in making wrong forecasts, that Corbyn was set to lead Labour to electoral oblivion.
It chose to circle the wagons, concentrate funds, full-timers and footsoldiers on defending existing MPs, especially true believers, in seats deemed winnable, abandoning the option of taking the action to the Tories and attempting to win a Labour government.
Contrast Corbyn’s response to the Labour bureaucracy’s defeatism with May’s supine acceptance of the Tory machine’s advice to her to do nothing, say nothing and wait for Labour to collapse.
Corbyn actually believed in the transformative party manifesto put together by his closest advisers and was prepared to tell as many people as possible about it in dozens of mass rallies.
The much-maligned Momentum organisation of Labour members supportive of Corbyn identified a list of winnable marginals to which it directed activists and reaped an abundant harvest of seats that the official party framework had effectively washed its hands of.
Corbyn’s determination to fight on the basis of his political convictions and to lead the anti-Tory battle, whatever Labour apparatchiks living in a two-decades-long past might say, won public backing and reversed Labour’s tendency to lose seats at every general election since 2001.
Labour’s progress has continued, with opinion polls showing the party five points ahead of the Tories and winning council by-elections.
May knows that the tide has turned against her party and that only a gerrymandered majority on crucial Commons committees can delay her government’s inevitable sticky end.
Re-emerging inner-party Tory differences over the EU are as sharp and irreconcilable as ever, with one wing demanding no surrender to Brussels and the other urging disciplinary action against the intransigents.
The only thing on which the opposing wings are united is recognition that the Prime Minister is living on borrowed time.
Corbyn’s main concern is to keep the parliamentary party united until the next general election provides a Labour majority more in tune with his political approach and to deliver a post-EU Britain dedicated to jobs and growth.