Personal attacks and the ‘real’ world

Image courtesy of mariusz kluzniak and Flickr Creative Commons

Margaret Thatcher


I never thought I’d start a blog with that heading but it was Margaret Thatcher who insisted that personal attacks on political opponents merely demonstrated a lack of anything worthwhile to say, a lack of policies. Her current successor appears to have forgotten this but the shift in poll ratings may indicate that people at large have cottoned on. As the gap between Labour and Tories continues to shrink, the abuse grows in volume, and in desperation. And the reliable attack dogs of the Tory press have needed no encouragement to join the party. Just look at this week


That was the week that was


On Tuesday we had banner headlines in the Mail and Telegraph about Jeremy Corbyn’s plans to introduce uncontrolled immigration. Not a policy he, or the Labour party, have espoused. The papers concerned have either not read the manifesto or are choosing to ignore it.


On Wednesday, we had the leaders debate, with an unconvincing Amber Rudd standing in for the PM who appears frightened of actual debate. Amber Rudd’s main contribution to the debate seemed to be a pledge to continue to prioritise arms sale over human rights so it could be argued she was a good representative for this government. The other leaders, by and large, did a decent job (leaving aside Paul Nuttall who traded on the choleric single track which would appeal to existing supporters and no one else). Farron talked sense, Corbyn looked and sounded like a listening leader, and Caroline Lucas showed why she is held in such high regard. Both Leanne Woods and Angus Robertson made sensible points. The audience were engaged, responsive, intelligent. Cue Thursday morning when Boris Johnson and the Mail agreed that this was the most left wing audience ever and the BBC were biased.


Leave aside the difficulty in establishing a left wing bias in an organisation that apparently can’t get enough of UKIP and seems to be unable to report much of what Farron or Corbyn say. The audiences for these events are selected and vetted for a fair spread of views as Johnson must know. The real problem was that this was an audience who did not like their intelligence to be insulted and the current Conservative line does just that. A few proper policies and a little less parroting of meaningless mantras would have helped. I don’t think Amber Rudd can be blamed for this and I’m sure there are plenty of embarrassed Conservative candidates. The fault lies with May. She’s the leader, the one we’re supposed to focus on, and she is failing the test.


Politics and the real world


Thursday evening saw the long awaited announcement from Donald Trump that he was pulling the US out of the Paris agreement on Climate Change. Years of painstaking negotiation and discussion, leading to an agreement which went some way towards rescuing the planet from disaster are sacrificed because Trump distrusts any deal in which he was not personally involved. A disaster, but then the US is a disaster right now from a political perspective, with the Democrats powerless and the Republicans frightened of breaking rank.


It’s a different story in the ‘real world’ though. Michael Bloomberg shows there is hope by undertaking to make good the funding lost to climate change by this about turn and pointing out that American industry is irreversibly on the road to reaching the emission goals. ‘Americans will honor and fulfil the Paris Agreement by leading from the bottom up – and there is’nt anything Washington can do to stop us.’


Beacons of hope


So maybe we have some beacons of hope. In the US, practical limits on the presidential ability to wreck our world. And in the UK, signs that, after next week, we may have a more sensibly balanced parliament than we feared.

Tony Earnshaw

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