Unfortunately, things won’t get better after the party conferences, writes Bernard Ingham.
So, where do we go from here? Let us take stock.
Three of our parties – the Nationalists, SNP, Sinn Fein and Plaid Cymru – want to dismantle the United Kingdom. I include Plaid Cymru because Welsh independence would become irresistible to them if Scotland and the Irish got it.
The Liberal Democrats are reduced to a worsening joke by former leader, Nick Clegg, so besotted with Europe that he now recommends that Lib Dems join Labour or the Tories to try to kill Brexit.
Labour is a sick joke – and a dangerous one, too – because it wishes to convert England to a centralised Marxist state within the EU, held together by intimidation. I say England because there won’t be anything else left of the old UK if they get their hands on power. They are helpless when it comes to playing to the gallery.
Yet with all this threatening Britain, all we have is a Conservative government as divided as Labour, with the distinction that the Tories shout about their differences while Labour moderates are cowed into virtual silence by the hard Left mob.
If we are not careful, we shall soon be asking ourselves where we put our democracy. The answer would be that it died of wilful sabotage, neglect and idiocy.
I recognise that all this sounds traumatic, but I cannot remember a time since the Second World War – and I was politically alive when it ended – when British politics were at such a low ebb. I am not forgetting the Bevanite rebellion, Suez, devaluation in the mid 1970s, the Winter of Discontent or the scandalous tenure of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
What our present crop of Tory politicians generally lack in stature they compensate for with stupidity.
That word encapsulates the behaviour latterly of the Tory Party in Westminster. They are sustained, somewhat dodgily in office by the Northern Irish Democratic Unionists. But they are in office with immense responsibilities.
They are in the middle of negotiating our historical exit from the EU. Their broad approach to government still has majority support and would have more if only they extolled their achievements in consistently cleaning up the economy after Labour.
They also have a Prime Minister who only needs a Willie Whitelaw-like deputy to stop the mischief and clear out the undergrowth, a propagandist – perhaps Boris Johnson under tight control – to extol their virtues with oomph and a party chairman to organise and galvanise the grassroots into fighting shape.
You may reasonably say that this shows Theresa May’s limitations. Of course it does. All Prime Ministers have their limitations. Margaret Thatcher was not really of this coarse world after her strict Methodist upbringing, she had a limited sense of humour and was as tactless as any woman I have ever met – and that is saying something coming from Yorkshire.
Moreover, she was never expected to last, let alone halt Britain’s decline, for virtually three years until she demonstrated her leadership in the Falklands campaign. In fact, she was actively conspired against by the patrician Wets in Parliament to try to change her monetarist policy and John Major complained about conspiring “bastards” in his ranks in the 1990s.
Just because Mrs May has had something of a charisma bypass – not unlike John Major – and coughs a lot does not mean she is no good. She isn’t perfect, but who is? All Prime
Ministers have to be supported and their weaknesses offset. But instead of supporting her, the Government and her MPs behave like a nest of vipers
The question is how to draw their venom since the prospect of a Jeremy Corbyn government does not seem to deter them, nor the thought that if the PM can reach an eminently saleable
Brexit agreement she could be an election asset in five years’ time.
Some argue for a reshuffle to get rid of the “deadbeats”. But the sacked might make things worse. Instead, I recommend ridicule. I have found it very effective in politics. At present the Tories are simply ridiculous.
In short, everything depends on whether the ridiculous can be brought to their senses and recognise that there is glory to be won under Mrs May. Sticking my neck out, I believe her guts will carry her to the next election – and victory.