After British Prime Minster Theresa May called a snap election on April 18, many journalists have been at pains to suck up to her and paint what is, in fact, a move born of desperation as some kind of astute political gambit.
This, despite the fact that this kind of sucking up to politicians has been, in the main, the reason why newspapers and magazines have gradually lost readership over the last two decades to other more rough-edged publications that speak the unvarnished truth.
The next British election is due in 2020. By then, Britain would have completed negotiations to leave the European Union, a decision the people voted for in a referendum in 2016. Even if things are not completely sewn up, the general points of the deal would be clear by then.
And given that the UK is bound to get the rough edge of the stick — what Australians call a shit sandwich — it is highly unlikely that May will be able to win any election after that.
Indeed, she would be lucky to retain her own seat.
After the talks begin on Britain’s exit, slowly the extent of what it has lost by leaving the EU will become apparent. Both France and Germany, the two major powers in the EU, are extremely annoyed about Brexit and seem determined to give the UK the worst deal they can.
As the conditions laid down by the remaining EU countries become clearer with the progress of negotiations, it will become more and more difficult for May to continue to put on a brave face and say that Britain will get a good deal from the EU.
She has called an election now to guarantee her survival. That is the plain and unvarnished truth.
But journalists are still willing to talk rubbish and write it too.
On the day that May acted, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Europe correspondent Lisa Millar claimed that winning an election would give May a “stronger hand” to negotiate the terms for the UK’s exit from the EU.
This is bunkum of a very high order; May holds a hand with no cards at all and winning the poll on June 8 will only ensure that she is in power for the next five years. It gives her no additional leverage with the rest of the EU.
She thought she could steal a march on the EU by traipsing across the Atlantic and cosying up to the new orange-haired occupant of the White House, but has found that Donald Trump is not overly sentimental about the so-called “special relationship” now that Britain is not part of a much bigger trading bloc.
The newspaper headline below says it much better:
"Special relationship", eh? pic.twitter.com/OvVSSQyIEP
— Jakub Krupa (@JakubKrupa) 21 April 2017
Then we had the delusional Greg Sheridan, the foreign editor of The Australian, who wrote: “Despite May being ahead in the polls, this is the mother of all gambles.” (High-grade rubbish; if she cannot win a poll now, she might as well commit hara-kiri.)
He went on: “She has a stable if narrow parliamentary majority, and three years of the government’s term to run. She has gambled it all.” (Gambled? Sheridan appears to be hallucinating.)
And on: “But as pro-Tory newspaper The Sun put it in three declarative decks of heading the next day: ‘PMâ€™s snap poll will kill off Labour; Sheâ€™ll smash rebel Tories too; Bid for clear Brexit mandate’.â€ (When you have to quote from The Sun to back up an argument, that means you have no smoke in your stack.)
There are loads of Anglophiles who still think Britain, — sorry, Great Britain — is still a colonial power when all it is now is the US’s poodle. But then we all need our little delusions to live, don’t we?
When will people like Sheridan ever learn?