Why Theresa May will fail (hopefully)

Say what you will about Theresa May’s policies and ideas for shaping post-Brexit Britain, but there’s no denying the irritation that she sparks in her political opponents for her perpetual smugness. Smugness that has hardly been earned after a laughably uncontested ascension to the top of the rotten pile of empty vessels and dilapidated backward ideas that now constitute the self-described ‘Conservative Party.’

Conservative is certainly a kind way to describe Theresa May’s emerging managerial style. A blunt and more honest description might be ‘pedantic’ or ‘slow to act’. Her deliberation is ultimately what will be her eventual downfall, as was Gordon Brown’s. Under the coalition years, she was allowed the opportunity to be more deliberate and think through her decisions; the need to (sort-of) acquire consent from Liberal Democrats allowed the Home Office breathing room. Since the general election, the EU Referendum has also allowed her some space, the media focused on the toing and froing of the appalling campaigning from both sides, (not at all rectified by a clueless media).

Now, however, May has nowhere to hide. I predict that over the coming months, the varying political pressures in this country, both the socially progressive and the moneyed interests, will begin to tire of her insistence of delaying making any decisions, Hinkley-Point will be the first of many delays. There is more at stake in the post-Brexit world than her career is worth. May is not suitably brave or selfless enough to sacrifice her carefully accrued political brownie points in order to make the best deal possible for the UK. She has surrounded herself with large personalities in her cabinet who will undoubtedly clash as the months go by, as the crushing grind of running a government beginning to crack the fragile fabric of the Conservative Party. A government with a slim majority of just 12 MPs, many of whom hold contrary views on what a post-Brexit society should look like.

The Foreign Office should be handled with the utmost care in the aftermath of Britain’s most drastic upset in decades. The Japanese are among the first countries to bark at Britain’s lack of diligence. Relations with Europe are battered and bruised. The USA is dumbfounded by Britain’s vote to leave, rightly or wrongly. May’s smugness was exuded with Britain’s boasting for its useless and pointless medal wins at the Rio Olympics. And in this delicate, “proceed with caution’ climate, May has chosen to appoint Boris Johnson, a man so vehemently vile and self-deluded that one can’t help but think he would be better off consigned to the history books after his appalling work as London Mayor in which inequality has reached an all time high.

Jeremy Corbyn meanwhile has been infuriatingly occupied by Labour MPs, who having got into bed with powerful factions of the Establishment in the New Labour years, are now throwing their toys out their relegated position of the neighbouring pram, now that the Tories have crawled into their place with a thankful wink for keeping their place warm. Jeremy Corbyn could quite fairly be accused of the same pedantic tendencies as May; after all the, the decaying and archaic folded together sheets of paper that we refer to as the ‘press’ say he’s useless, and so it comes to be.

However, Corbyn has something on his side; the distinct possibility of an economic shockwave, and the fact that May is the current Prime Minister with slow deliberation.  The cause of the shockwave will be anyone’s guess: will it be the inevitable burst of the London property bubble which will cause the banks to tighten their pursestrings and drag down the rest of the country? Or unforeseen consequences of the Brexit vote as Britain encounters a period of economic adjustment ? Or will it be the collapse of capitalism as we know it, after all the banking crisis of 2008 revealed many of the inherent and enduring problems with the current world order.

In the 1980s every country in the world envied Japan’s economic strategy; they enjoyed the largest output of GDP in the world, second only to their benefactors, the USA. However 1989 saw its downturn as Japan’s economy collapsed due to large amounts of uninvested capital, and as a consequence Japan suffered a ‘lost decade’ and no country in the world envied them in the 1990s. Is it not beyond the realms of possibility that corporations and their tendency these days to store their money in insanely large quantities in offshore accounts could have a similar impact. Societies that rely on cash flow are starved when the assets dry up and cash is stockpiled and remains unspent. 

The Conservative party having dragged the country to the right, are nervous that should any of these dinstinct possibils occur in the next few years, they could potentially face a hung parliment at the next general election, at which point a Labour and SNP coalition could be formed, which would very quickly outshine the Conservative’s recent efforts at governance as these parties each have the required political will to modernise Britain.

 

What makes Liverpool’s Caledonia Special?

Why independent pubs are better than chains.

Tuesday afternoon. The Caledonia, Liverpool.

The Caledonia is one of the true places in Liverpool. True, in the sense that the commercialised sheen that plagues so many pubs is happily absent here. The tables slightly sticky, the barmaid- ostensibly free from the scrutinising gaze of a manger, gazes passively at her phone, the musicians, whose warming guitars, flutes, and violins emanate from the corner of the room.

The couple, who sit with their newborn three week old son, haggard and pale from disrupted sleep patterns, speak cordially to the curious drunks about their baby, its weight more story than flesh.  One of them shouts to no one in particular, “Babies are alright, just don’t go up to 3, pain in the arse.” The couple smile contritely and exchange a knowing look.

The Caledonia is largely the same since its recent decoration, but there are noticeable improvements. Gone are the beer matts that took up one of the walls and the dilapidated decoration, in is the smell of fresh paint and new pieces of artwork for sale: a wholly unoriginal drawing of Marlon Brando as the Godfather on sale for £100, is juxtaposed by an impressive Sydney Pollack imitation and a flattering black and white sketch of Ray Charles.

The musicians appear to be just playing for their own pleasure; according to the pub’s faux hap- dashed monthly schedule, there is no band playing tonight. They launch into a rip-roaring rendition of “Sunny Afternoon” by The Kinks and the pub’s drinkers revel in the song’s tale, told from the point of view of a tax-dodging, wife-abusing scoundrel, something which the owners of many of the aforementioned ‘chain pubs’ would possibly know something about (paying their chosen rate of tax or tormenting their wives, most are presumably guilty of at least one at the top of the corporate world).

When one goes to a Yates or a Weatherspoon’s on a Tuesday afternoon, a far bleaker picture can be seen. The bar staff always seem overworked, very serious and the pubs posses an industrial off-putting atmosphere that I can’t quite put my finger on. You can see the steam escape from dishwashers in backrooms, staff dedicated to collecting glasses and wiping down rows and rows of identical tables, leaving behind an unpleasing smell of cheap sterile disinfectant, smoking areas that seem a reluctant afterthought that entail the company of an overweight bouncer who looks appropriately depressed, holding the door open for you to dispel the monotony of his job of largely just standing there. All of these factors, alongside the once neatly laminated and now battered corporate food and drink menus, serve to put one in a position of unease because of the lack of authenticity, character and as cliche as its sounds, the absence of heart.

In the Caledonia, and the pubs of its ilk, one can expect to be drawn into a conversation, see the regulars ramble boorishly at patient barmaids and overhear conversations that indicate the patrons have more interesting lives and tales to tell of than their fellow drinkers down at the chain pubs. Not that chain pubs do not have their use: one sometimes finds that they need to ‘catch up’ quickly and cheaply with their chosen company for the evening’s expected drunkenness and debauchery, or that you find yourself stranded in town by the long walk home and require cheap frozen food to be reheated by the chain’s self-proclaimed ‘chef’. But aside from this, chain pubs should be ignored at all costs by the drinking public. A chain is not ‘the local’ because the decisions that drive its choice of drinks, events and decor, are made not in the backroom of the pub itself but rather in an office, probably a glass monolithic one, in which the every owned pub across the country adheres to roughly the same standards. The decisions are made based on the numbers, averages and projections rather than the far braver and pluckier independent pub owner’s intuition.