Politics

It should surprise nobody that our airwaves are abuzz with analyses of this week's local election results. With over 1,300 Conservative councillors suddenly separated from their expense accounts, it's inevitable that more than a couple of columnists have noticed that the Tories have returned their worst local election results since the rout of John Major in 1995. We all know what happened a couple of years later when New Labour swept all before them.

While this is a useful yardstick to measure the scale of the catastrophe, the simple arithmetic glosses over a deeper and more fundamental connection those two electoral nightmares. This is a case where superficial differences hide a deeper and more fundamental thread of continuity.

That thread is, of course, the European Union and Britain's perennially uneasy place inside it.

It's worth noting that Margaret Thatcher survived the miners' strike, the Falklands gamble and even the Poll Tax fiasco, but it was her steadfast opposition to the Maastricht Treaty and the creation of the European Union that finally galvanised her own party to wield the knife. Pundits can wax lyrical about Michael Heseltine's principled stance on the Westland issue, but it's no coincidence that he's now uttering his ermine-collared judgements on the horrors of Brexit from the safety of the upper chamber. That a senior frontbencher would knowingly weaken his own party in order to remove a major obstacle to European integration should tell you much about the true loyalties of the Tory grandees.

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Whisper it, but there's an alarming degree of similarity between the leaders of our two biggest political parties right now.

It's a matter of some conjecture as to whether this situation is pure happenstance, or the inevitable result of party machine politics backed by big donors and special interests. I've written extensively on how the dual pressures of Brexit specifically and rising populism generally have forced many special interests to finally show us their true colours. In some ways the results have been entirely predictable, although probably a lot worse than many of us would've liked to guess. Perhaps one of the biggest scandals emerging from this whole situation is the startling similarity between the two party leaders, who claim to be implacable enemies.

Jeremy Corbyn's distaste for the modern capitalist West is well documented, so there's no reason to regurgitate the rap sheet in this column. Suffice to say that whenever there's a conflict of interests, his gut instincts always align with those who wish to do his native country harm. Support for a controversial cause like Irish republicanism could be excused as principled if it were a one-off, but when it's part of a decades-old pattern of behaviour, we must conclude that some overarching world view is informing Corbyn's thinking. In short, the leader of Her Majesty's Opposition believes that 21st-century Britain is somehow an enemy of freedom and a threat to the rest of the world.

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All in all, Britain's economy has confounded the professional doom-sayers since the 2016 referendum. Unemployment is down and business confidence is steady, no doubt buoyed up by the boom in the hyperbole sector as the commentariat's hysteria factories run hot night and day. Never before have we seen such an avalanche of gloom and apocalyptic prognostication pouring forth from blogs, online pundits and the mainstream media's digitised platforms.

Of course we all know that blood-curdling clickbait is part and parcel of life in cyberspace, and as such we shouldn't take it too seriously.

However, this time I think they could be right. We could be witnessing the end of the Conservative Party if things don't change, radically and fast.

Theresa May's pathological drive to shackle this nation to the bloated, unpopular and dysfunctional European Union at any cost has driven her to the point of political insanity. Quite literally. Rather than listen to the membership, the voters, the Parliamentary party or even her own Cabinet and respect the referendum result, she has instead embarked on a course deliberately designed to ensure the UK can never escape the legal dominance of the European Union.

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With Theresa May's disastrous Brexit deal set for a second historic drubbing in the House of Commons, the commentariat have been thrown into a frenzy of shrieking speculation. Tales of no deal, no Brexit, no divorce bill and no fresh fruit have reached a fever pitch as our political prognosticators share their sage insight as to what will happen next.

With all this noise and fog surrounding tomorrow, a large slice of the political class and their media buddies have completely forgotten yesterday's lesson. They seem to have lost sight of exactly how this huge snowball of unanticipated yet wholly predictable events ever got rolling in the first place. They ignore history at their peril.

It was none other than David Cameron who pushed the rock down the mountain back in January 2013, and what's more he did it all for party political reasons. Prior to Cameron's fateful decision to call the Brexit referendum, dissatisfaction with the European project had been growing for years, gnawing steadily at the Tory heartlands and eventually manifesting as an existential threat from Nigel Farage's UKIP.

Just like a toothache, Cameron knew the Europe issue would only get worse if he ignored it; so he took the bold decision to shoot the UKIP fox once and for all before it could raid any more Tory chicken coops. In doing so he set off a political tsunami which has swept us into these uncharted constitutional waters.

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