Saturday 12 February 2022

Major is talking to an audience which no longer exists


Ex-PM John Major’s speech this week seems to have gone down particularly badly in the party he used to lead. As a pro-EU figure, he’s been roundly trashed by the Brexitmaniacs who currently run both the party and the UK. It’s a pity, because there was a lot in the speech which was apparently nothing to do with Brexit. I say ‘apparently’ because there is actually a connection: the mindset which led to Brexit is the same one which led to many of the other things which he criticised. One passage in his speech struck me as a particularly powerful one, and certainly struck a chord with me. He asked:

“Can it really be a crime to be frightened; homeless; desperate; destitute; fleeing from persecution, or war, or famine, or hardship; and to cross half the world on foot and dangerous waters in an unsafe boat, in the hope of finding a better life?”

It’s a good question, and one to which the current cabinet, unfortunately, have already given a resounding ‘yes’ in response by promulgating a law to criminalise exactly that. By way of contrast to Major, we also had the hapless Culture Secretary this week telling us that the only thing that might make her lose faith in the current PM would be “if he went out and kicked a dog”. It’s only a ‘probably’ even then, mind. She’s fine with criminalising refugees, making the poor even poorer, law-breaking by government ministers, and repeated blatant lies, just as long as no dog is harmed in the process. It would be hard to find a better illustration of the gulf in values between Major and Johnson than the contrast between those two statements.

The problem for Major is that he doesn’t seem to understand that the people he thinks he’s trying to appeal to – the decent, honest members of the Conservative Party – no longer exist. They’ve either been driven out, or else gone over to the dark side in the belief that their own interests are better served by doing so. He’s wasting his breath.

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