Category: political struggle
Catalan Independence Is Not Worth Dying For
| November 1, 2017 | 9:01 pm | Analysis, political struggle, Spain | No comments
People celebrate after the Catalan regional parliament declares the independence from Spain in Barcelona, Spain, October 27, 2017.

Catalan Independence Is Not Worth Dying For

© REUTERS/ Juan Medina

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John Wight

Catalan independence is not worth dying for. The region is not suffering oppression nor is it colonized. The Catalan independence movement is being driven by nothing more than cultural nationalism and economic self-interest. It is the self-determination of fools.

Yet, regardless, with the Catalan regional parliament in Barcelona declaring UDI (unilateral independence from Spain), and with the Spanish government in Madrid imposing direct rule on the region, the stage is set for a violent clampdown by a Spanish state that has already demonstrated its willingness to mete out violence during the course of this crisis. The outcome, unless sanity prevails, may well be bloody and brutal.

A woman reacts while the Catalan regional parliament votes for independence of Catalonia from Spain in Barcelona
© REUTERS/ Yves Herman
A woman reacts while the Catalan regional parliament votes for independence of Catalonia from Spain in Barcelona

The possibility of such a scenario when it comes to the cause of Catalan independence is especially mind-boggling, because arrive in Barcelona and you are confronted not by a downtrodden city where a heavy atmosphere of oppression lingers — such as Belfast in the 1960s and 1970s, for example, or the occupied territories of Palestine today — but by one of the most modern and affluent cities in Europe, located in one of the richest regions of Europe.

Barcelona is a truly international city, one that is alive with tourists. The shops, cafes, restaurants and cantinas are bustling. Culturally, it boasts an abundance of riches, while its infrastructure and transport network — bus, rail and underground — is first rate. Yet here we are, witnessing a crisis that appears more compatible with the Barcelona of 1936 than 2017..

Protesters hold fake handcuffs as they take part a rally outside the Catalan parliament in Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Oct. 27, 2017.
© AP Photo/ Santi Palacios
Protesters hold fake handcuffs as they take part a rally outside the Catalan parliament in Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Oct. 27, 2017.

I say “appears” because it would be a mistake to depict the current crisis as a re-run of the Spanish Civil War, despite the efforts of some to draw such a connection. The Catalan independence movement, as mentioned, is being driven not by anti-fascism or anti-colonialism, but by cultural nationalism and economic self-interest, during which both have been elevated to the status of political principle.

Spain today is a liberal democracy with a democratic constitution voted on and supported by the vast majority of Spaniards, including Catalans, when established in 1978. This being said, the alacrity with which Madrid deployed massed ranks of Guardia Civil riot police against unarmed civilians in Barcelona and elsewhere in the region on October 1, in an attempt to disrupt a referendum it deemed illegal, suggests that the germ of authoritarianism planted within the country’s political culture by its fascist dictator, Franco, is yet to be completely eradicated 42 years after his death.

In fact with every action he has taken during the present crisis, Spain’s Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, has only bolstered support for Catalan independence rather than minimize it. If politics is an art it is one he has failed to master to any meaningful extent. Because regardless of its provisions, the moment that a constitution is used as justification for unleashing violence against unarmed civilians as a first rather than last resort in any given crisis it loses legitimacy, as does the government acting in its name.

Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy leaves his seat during a debate at the upper house Senate in Madrid, Spain, October 27, 2017
© REUTERS/ Susana Vera
Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy leaves his seat during a debate at the upper house Senate in Madrid, Spain, October 27, 2017

On the other side of the crisis, meanwhile, Carles Puigdemont and his separatist supporters have embarked on a kamikaze reach for independence regardless of the balance of forces arrayed against them. With the EU, Washington, indeed the entire international community, failing to register anything other than fulsome support for Spanish unity up to this point, one can only hope they have a plan B up their sleeves when it comes to facing down the wrath of a Spanish government that has, as said, proved it is prepared to batter, bludgeon and brutalize civilians who dare challenge or defy its writ. If not — if Puigdemont and his supporters do not have a plan B, given that plan A of appealing to Brussels for intercession and mediation has failed — they have merely exposed their supporters and people to more violence.

In politics, as in war, knowing when to retreat is as important as knowing when to advance. Indeed the former is often more difficult and requiring of more courage than the latter, due to the challenge it brings of managing the unrealistic expectations and demands of some within your own ranks; those for whom any backward step is tantamount to betrayal. With this in mind, it is clear that Puigdemont, faced with the choice of acting sensibly in the face of the aforementioned balance of forces militating against UDI, or succumbing to the pressure exerted against his leadership from within his own movement, opted to succumb.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont sings the Catalan anthem inside the parliament after a vote on independence in Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Oct. 27, 2017.
© AP Photo/ Manu Fernandez
Catalan President Carles Puigdemont sings the Catalan anthem inside the parliament after a vote on independence in Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Oct. 27, 2017.

It is a decision that may well mark his political epitaph.

What also cannot be gainsaid is that Catalan opponents of independence have had their democratic rights subverted by their separatist counterparts’ declaration of UDI. Having boycotted the October 1 referendum in protest over its legality, they now find themselves confronted with the prospect of being ripped out of Spain against their will. How can such a state of affairs possibly be acceptable to those who believe in democracy?

The wider point is that neither side in this crisis is without blame when it comes to bringing it to the point of no return. It proves that stability, cohesion and unity can never be taken for granted — even within supposed Western bastions of democracy, such as Spain — and that the principle of self-determination can either be a shield risen in response to oppression, or a sword wielded in service to opportunism and self interest.

It bears repeating — the underlying cause of the crisis that has engulfed Spain is the same one that has fueled support for Scottish independence in recent years; the same one that drove Brexit and which is behind the emergence and traction of anti-EU parties across Europe. It is an economic model, neoliberalism, whose sustainability was shattered irrevocably by the global financial crash and ensuing recession, starting in 2008.

Yet instead of burying the corpse of neoliberalism, as they should have by now, political elites have for purely ideological reasons extended themselves in trying to breathe life back into it with the imposition of austerity programs that have sown even more misery and dislocation in the lives of millions of their own citizens.

Thus they are the authors of their own demise.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

Check out John’s Sputnik radio show, Hard Facts.

Ardern’s Win: ‘The Opportunity to Build a Fairer, Better New Zealand’
| October 22, 2017 | 7:53 pm | New Zealand, political struggle | No comments
Jacinda Ardern

Ardern’s Win: ‘The Opportunity to Build a Fairer, Better New Zealand’

© AP Photo/ Nick Perry

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Newly-elected Labor party leader Jacinda Ardern will become New Zealand’s youngest female Prime Minister in over 150 years, taking over for current Prime Minister Bill English, the National Party leader.

Ardern’s rise to power has set off a kind of ‘Jacindamania’ among her party’s followers, as she affirmed a commitment to establishing an economy that serves all New Zealanders, protecting the country’s environment and cleaning up its waterways.

She has been compared to politicians like Barack Obama and Justin Trudeau because of her persona, popularity and charisma. In addition, her pledge to eradicate child poverty, make tertiary education free and decriminalize abortion have been described as breathing life into New Zealand politics.

“This is an exciting day. We aspire to be a government for all New Zealanders and one that will seize the opportunity to build a fairer, better New Zealand,” Ardern said, after the country’s electorate cast their votes.

“We will work hard to ensure New Zealand is once again a world leader, a country we can all be proud of. We said we could do this, we will do this,” she added.

Winston Peters, a New Zealand politician and leader of the populist New Zealand First political party, expressed his support of Ardern, 37, on Thursday, stating that “It’s time for capitalism to regain its human face,” according to the New York Times.

“For too many New Zealanders capitalism has not been their friend but their foe,” Peters said, cited by The Guardian.

“We had a choice for a modified status quo or for change… that’s why in the end we chose a coalition government with NZ first and the Labor party.”

English called Ardern to congratulate her party on winning the vote, but also to remind her that, with 44.4 percent of the vote and 56 seats in parliament, the National Party would still provide strong competition in New Zealand politics.

Following the September election, the National Party was left with 56 seats and the Labor party with 46, both less than the 61 seats required to establish a majority government in the 120-seat parliament.

Democrats Appoint Anti-Minimum-Wage Advocate to Finance Committee
| October 20, 2017 | 8:36 pm | Analysis, Hillary Clinton, political struggle | No comments

On delivering the absolute minimum

Various sources have reported that Tom Perez, the Chair of the Democratic National Committee, has appointed Atlanta native Dan Halpern to the finance committee of the party.

Specifically, he will be part of a squad of deputy national finance chairs. As the Atlanta Business Chronicle reports:

Halpern chaired Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s mayoral campaign in 2009 and served as a trustee for then-President-elect Barack Obama’s 2008 inaugural committee. Halpern also is immediate past chairman of the Atlanta Housing Authority Board of Directors and a past chairman of the Georgia Restaurant Association.

In a party that says it’s trying to be progressive, Halpern is a strange direction. As the head of Jackmont Hospitality and the GRA, Halpern has reliably opposed the minimum wage. His record thus far suggests a hostility towards the kind of worker-friendly policies that the Bernie-era Dems are supposedly pursuing. It suggests Perez, and Perez’s backers and friends, have not gotten the memo about economic justice.

In Halpern’s home state of Georgia, according to Politifact “Senate Bill 314 called for raising Georgia’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, but it didn’t get so much as a hearing.”

Why? Halpern’s people—the Georgia Restaurant Association—claimed that there would be a potential loss of 21,000 jobs, ignoring the increased possibility for consumer spending, for new jobs, for giving hungry people a hand up. Everything must benefit the boardroom, you see, or it’s not worth doing. As Politifact helpfully reminds us, “Georgia’s minimum wage is technically $5.15 an hour (Georgia Code 34-4-3) and has been since 2001. But the vast majority of Georgia employers (some say more than 99 percent) must comply with the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which means they have to pay their employees the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.” If given god-like sway over the business, Halpern and his GRA would probably prefer to keep this amount even lower.

Hardly surprising. When a guy is described by the Atlanta Journal Constitution as a “Georgia Democratic moneyman,” it’s safe bet he couldn’t give two hoots in hell for a single mother making minimum wage at McDonald’s.

If you’ve got a sec and a yearning for self-inflicted pain, browse over to Jackmont’s site. Take a gander at the page they keep up for Halpern. His bio is full of the weirdly specific praise beloved in the executive suite. Dan’s favorite food is Paella. And like me, his alias is “Coach Dad.” Well, that’s not my nickname, but Halpern apparently means it seriously. He drinks bourbon, small batch.

“He’s not just the guy who signs the checks and seals the deals. CEO and Co-founder Daniel Halpern is the head, hands, and heart behind Jackmont Hospitality.

Can you imagine what it must be like to sit next to this guy on a transatlantic flight, yammering about his incredible resume? I bet if the plane lost all engine power and the whole blessed lot of passengers went spiralling down to watery death, Halpern would keep delivering a monologue in the third person.

… Not surprisingly, Daniel isn’t new to foodservice management. Not to drop names, but before Jackmont Hospitality, he worked for Holiday Inn Worldwide. He also has a degree from the School of Hotel Administration from a little place called Cornell University.

“A little place.” Christ. Hey Dan, ever worked a busy lunch shift? I sure as hell have.

And apparently, Daniel’s reputation precedes him, which is why Johnson and Wales University bestowed upon him an honorary degree in Business Administration in Foodservice Management. Ever the over-achiever, Daniel also earned the Foodservice Management Professional (FMP) designation … Like most foodservice celebrities, Daniel has published widely and lectured around the world on industry-related topics. … Daniel, Renaissance man that he is, has advised many of the top political leaders of his time …

This is like reading the dating personals at the back of an Ivy League magazine. Renaissance man … over-achiever … reputation precedes him …. Best of all, foodservice celebrity. I can’t get over that. That’s how I plan to refer to myself in the future, whenever restaurants kick me out for demanding more of them spicy lobster rolls.

This is Perez’s idea of a swell guy to raise money for the new, Post-Hillary Democratic party. Coach Dad, who desperately needs your approval, and occasionally your money.

Tom. Dan. The Clinton era is over. The time when you could get away with playing both sides of the field is done. No more claiming to be for marginalized people, and then cheating them of a decent life. No more.

The Chronicle again:

“This team has a proven track record and decades of combined experience raising the resources to elect Democrats up and down the ballot,” DNC Chairman Tom Perez said. “They played a key role in sending President Obama to the Oval Office, and they’ll help ensure that we continue to elect Democrats in 2017, 2018 and beyond.”

The contested DNC leadership election was in February. The Bernie wing wanted the leadership position bad. The Corporate Dems kept saying that the Chair position didn’t matter. Why, the centrists asked, are you Berniecrats contesting it at all? It was a suspicious denial.

Especially since the Corporate Democrats ended up going after the chairmanship just as hard as the Bernie wing did. Now we see the results of such an election: the Halperns of the party are still free to play the field. Is this the future of the Democratic Party that Tom Perez had in mind? I’m honestly surprised Perez’s man doesn’t support a mandatory minimum—since that’s all Perez and his centrists are willing to give.

Communists in talks with ‘patriotic forces’ to propose single candidate for 2018 presidential race

Communists in talks with ‘patriotic forces’ to propose single candidate for 2018 presidential race

Communists in talks with ‘patriotic forces’ to propose single candidate for 2018 presidential race
A senior figure in Russia’s largest opposition party – the Communists – has taken part in a conference of ‘national-patriotic forces’ seeking to find new allies and possibly agree on a single presidential candidate for next year’s election.

The conference was attended by representatives from a broad group of parties and movements that share a leftist-nationalist agenda. The Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) was represented by Deputy Chair of its Central Committee Yuri Afonin.

We are interested in forming a broad, patriotic coalition around the KPRF. We are working with a variety of ideologies,” he told the daily newspaper, Kommersant.

There were some of our ‘antipodes’ at this conference, such as monarchists, but we build our relations on the basis of a common economic program.”

Regardless of the outcome of talks, the KPRF will be selecting a presidential candidate at its party convention in late December, Afonin told reporters.

Last February, representatives of the leftist-nationalist coalition Council of the Popular Patriotic Forces asked KPRF leader Gennadiy Zyuganov to run for the presidency in 2018, and to take personal responsibility if his performance in the race was poor.

Zyuganov rejected the proposal, asking his colleagues “not to predetermine” who the party would select to contest the election.

On this occasion, some of the Communists’ allies bluntly rejected the idea of Zyuganov running on behalf of their parties and movements. Head of the Novorossiya movement Igor Strelkov told Kommersant that he and his comrades would refuse to support the Communists if they nominated Zyuganov as a candidate.

In March, Izvestia quoted unnamed sources in the Russian presidential administration when it reported that Zyuganov did not want to run in 2018 because he would prefer to be remembered as a relatively successful politician, rather than finishing second again, as he did in 2012.

Zyuganov has not commented on the report, but the Secretary of the Communist Party’s Central Committee, Sergey Obukhov, called the rumors “a form of external pressure on the party.”

Few major figures have announced their intention to run for the presidency in 2018 to date. The most prominent of those who have are Liberal-Democratic Party leader, Vladimir Zhirinovsky; Yabloko Party founder, Grigory Yavlinsky; and anti-corruption blogger-turned opposition politician, Aleksey Navalny.

Under Russian law, Navalny technically cannot run because he is currently serving a five-year sentence that will not expire before the next election, but the activist has vowed to contest this rule in the Constitutional Court.

Earlier this week, Russian journalist and celebrity, Kseniya Sobchak, announced that she planned to contest the presidential election but said that her purpose would not be to win, but to replace the ‘none of the above’ line on ballots, which she personally favors.

Absurd Russian Ads Hype as US Corporations Buy Democracy
| October 10, 2017 | 8:40 pm | political struggle, Russia | No comments
People are silhouetted as they pose with laptops in front of a screen projected with a Google logo, in this picture illustration taken in Zenica October 29, 2014.

Absurd Russian Ads Hype as US Corporations Buy Democracy

© REUTERS/ Dado Ruvic

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Finian Cunningham
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Google is the latest US internet company to claim it found “Russia-linked” advertisements on its network – allegedly posted to influence the US presidential election last year.

Twitter and Facebook have already made similar claims and all three are now facing more scrutiny in the coming weeks before Congressional committees.

What is truly astounding about this hysteria over alleged Russian interference in US democracy is that American citizens are being distracted from what is, by far, the much more alarming issue of how their government and Congress is bought by US Big Business.

Bloomberg reported this week that: “Google identifies Russian election interference network”. It said the internet giant found political ads worth $4,700 which it believes are “tied to the Russian government”. These ads, it is claimed, carried political articles which were meant to influence which way American citizens would vote in the presidential contest between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump last November.Google has reportedly said that another $53,000 worth of ads are “under review” for suspicion of being “linked” to the Russian government. This follows claims made by Facebook that it had earlier identified $100,000 spent on ads by Russian sources, while Twitter said it had located $274,000 worth of such ads.

The Russian government has repeatedly rejected accusations that it tried to meddle in the US election. Moscow rightly highlights the dearth of any evidence and total lack of due legal process. The American allegations have also whipped up a toxic climate to curb the legitimate media activities of Russian news channels.

It is understood that Russia’s state-owned news channel RT promoted some of its content through social media like Facebook and Twitter. But as RT editor Margarita Simonyan pointed out such promotion is entirely normal for all news media companies. She estimated that US-based outlets probably spent much more than RT promoting their content through the Russian section of Twitter.

Several issues about this “Russian meddling” trope are patently dodgy, yet are bizarrely overlooked.The first is that, as with other claims of Russian interference in the US election, no evidence is ever presented. Facebook, Twitter and Google are making vague claims of “accounts believed to be tied to the Russian government”. And the US news media simply repeat these nebulous claims without further question.

A second anomaly is that Congressional committees that have been investigating allegations of Russian interference have also not presented any evidence – after nearly nine months of intensive probing.

Senators Richard Burr and Mark Warner, who are heading up a select intelligence committee, made a “big presentation” last week in Washington on their findings. The “findings” turned out to be an embarrassing anti-climax. The Congressmen admitted they found no evidence of “Russia collusion” in the election and baldly asserted that Moscow’s “influence campaign continues” which they will continue to investigate – no doubt at a huge cost to American taxpayers.

So, Russia is being accused of interfering in the presidential elections on the basis of the allegation alone, and yet American politicians are also contradicting themselves by saying that the alleged interference did not alter the vote outcome.

But here is the biggest absurdity. The sums of money claimed to have been used by Russia to destabilize US democracy are ridiculously minuscule.

For argument sake, let’s go along with the claims that somehow “Russian agents” took out ads on social media to influence the US election. Between Facebook, Twitter, and Google the expenditure amounts to about $300,000.That figure is a pittance compared with the avalanche of money that US corporations doled out to bankroll the election campaigns of the two candidates.

According to Bloomberg, Hillary Clinton’s election bid was leveraged with $1.2 billion from “Super-PACs” (Political Action Campaigns). Trump received less corporate money, raising a total of $647 million – or about half of what Clinton’s coffers received.

Now put those figures into perspective. The alleged Russian influence ads costing around $300,000 represent some 0.01 percent of what US corporations actually spent ($1.8 billion total) in promoting either Clinton or Trump for the White House. In other words, the much speculated – and highly dubious – financial outlay that Russian sources allocated to allegedly upset the American democratic process is negligible compared with the actual money spent by major American companies to determine the 2016 election outcome.

While American media and politicians are endeavoring to get citizens all worked up about “Kremlin meddling” the glaring fact is that their democratic process is subject to enormous US corporate influence. And not just the 2016 election. Every presidential cycle.

Note too that this is only taking into consideration the corporate lobbying in the presidential contest. Every year, it is calculated that US companies spend about $3 billion lobbying federal government and Congress.

That is, every year, year after year, Big Business in America spends 10,000-fold on influencing lawmakers and government policy compared with the alleged ad campaign that Russia supposedly engaged in.Another source of major influence on American politicians are the lobby groups funded separately by the Israeli and Saudi government interests. Each year, these foreign states spend an estimated $5-7 million on lobbying members of the US Congress and the federal government. This is real money with real impact on US democracy as opposed to alleged Russian interference.

Getting back to “lobbying” by US companies – some might call it bribery – among the biggest donors are the military manufacturing firms. According to American publication, The Hill, included in the top 50 corporate lobbies plying Congress with campaign funds are Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrup Grumman.

Another major lobby – although not in the top 50 – is the National Rifle Association (NRA) which promotes gun ownership for private citizens by donating to Congress members.

Three recent events show how corporate money effectively buys American government policy.

President Trump is pushing for an overhaul of tax policy which will result in the biggest ever tax benefit to corporate America.

Secondly, with regard to the US military budget, the Congress is due to pass a record increase amounting to $700 billion annually. This largesse to Pentagon-connected manufacturers like Lockheed Martin and Boeing is no doubt fueled by Trump using reckless bellicose rhetoric towards North Korea, threatening war instead of a diplomatic solution.Thirdly, in the aftermath of the latest mass shooting in Las Vegas – the worst ever in modern US history – in which 58 people were mowed down by a 64-year-old male shooter armed with an arsenal of assault rifles in his hotel room, both the White House and Congress are adamant that “now is not the time to talk about gun control laws”. Congressional Republicans, in particular, are big recipients of NRA funding. Trump’s election campaign also reportedly received $30 million from the NRA.

In the gargantuan scale of corporate funding and influence on US democracy, it is patently absurd for US media and politicians to chase after Russia for alleged meddling.

There again, maybe not so absurd, if such a travesty serves to distract American citizens from the much more pressing issue of how their democracy is bought and sold by elite American interests.

Why I support the Sanders Institute
| October 6, 2017 | 9:22 am | Bernie Sanders, political struggle | No comments


The present state of our country and of our world beckons to all of us. As we confront climate change, multiple refugee crises, the threat of global conflict, and a disturbing normalization of fascism, our collective future mandates that we unite around calls for justice with a sense of urgency – justice for women, justice for LGBTQ communities, justice for immigrants, justice for racial and ethnic minorities, justice for religious minorities, justice for the economically disenfranchised, justice for our environment. We are called to defend the self-evident truths upon which democracy is built – equality, freedom, and the ability to pursue personal fulfilment – from forces rooted in falsehood, manipulation, and demagoguery. To do so, we must inform ourselves thoroughly and organize effectively. It is in this spirit that I support the Sanders Institute in actively engaging citizens and media in the pursuit of progressive solutions to economic, environmental, racial, and social justice issues.

The Sanders Institute’s focus on individuals and media speaks directly to the terrain of the digital age. Its emphasis on progressive solutions speaks to our collective need to defend our highest ideals by effecting positive change. While mendacity can be a shortcut to power, that power is ultimately unsustainable. We must speak powerful truths to power; truths rooted in our diversity and interconnectedness. In recognizing the ways in which we all have something to contribute and the ways in which we all depend on one another, we harness the value of our differences to establish powerful coalitions; coalitions that can effectively counter the rigidity and isolation of illiberalism. As a Fellow of the Sanders Institute, I offer my experience in supporting social justice movements around the world on issues like environmental justice, labor, economic inequality, and racism, and I hope to inspire a new generation of socially engaged citizens in fighting for justice and equality for all.

Danny Glover, Sanders Institute Founding Fellow, 2017

Was Theresa May’s Speech Her Political Epitaph?
| October 5, 2017 | 8:04 pm | Analysis, political struggle, UK | No comments

A member of the audience hands a P45 form (termination of employment tax form) to Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May as she addresses the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, October 4, 2017.

Was Theresa May’s Speech Her Political Epitaph?

© REUTERS/ Phil Noble

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Neil Clark

Before this week’s Conservative Party conference in Manchester it looked likely that Prime Minister Theresa May would stay in her job until at least 2019. But after a calamitous speech to the party faithful, in which just about everything that could go wrong, did, May’s days at Number Ten now appear to be numbered.

May’s big message was ‘The British Dream’ but sadly for her, her address turned into a ruddy nightmare.

Her delivery was nervous. Struggling with a cold all week, she had coughing fits and her voice was weak and croaky throughout. She had to  stop several times to drink water and at one point was given a lozenge. She got her words mixed up- at one point saying that Labour was preparing for a ‘a run on the ground’ instead of ‘a ‘run on the pound- conjuring up images of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell in jogging pants.

It didn’t help that a comedy prankster interrupted her speech to hand her a P45 (the traditional form given to employees leaving their jobs) which he said he’d been asked to do by Boris Johnson. If that wasn’t embarrassing enough, unbeknown to May, letters began to fall off from the backdrop- so that in the end the message behind her read ‘Building a country that works or everyon’.

May’s speech  was- literally- a case of ‘F off’- and ‘dropping ‘E’. Piers Morgan called it ‘the biggest speech fiasco in political history’- and  he probably wasn’t exaggerating.

How relieved May must have been to get off the podium at the end.  You didn’t have to be a supporter to feel sorry for her. Anyone who engages in regular public speaking will dread days like this. To her credit, May did battle on and finish her address. Conservative Minister Penny Morduant had a point when she tweeted
Quite unintentionally the PM is demonstrating that she’s got the balls, stamina, SOH & warmth for the task ahead. Speech not needed!

But politics is a dirty old game and the Tories have historically been ruthless in getting rid of leaders who they believe are past their sell-by date. Margaret Thatcher won three elections in a row but was still ditched when it looked like she might lose the fourth. Iain Duncan Smith didn’t even get the chance of fighting one general election- he was given his P45 just a few weeks after his excruciating ‘The Quiet Man is here to stay and he’s turning up the volume’ speech at the party  conference in 2003.

What’s been holding the Tories back from moving against May up to now is the fact that a new leader would be expected to go to the country — within a reasonable timeframe — to get a democratic mandate.

And with Labour showing a consistent lead in the polls that would be fraught with danger.

Even so, after Manchester, May looks to be fatally wounded. Like predators stalking a wounded beast, her ambitious rivals will now be moving in for the kill. They’re probably ready to take the risk that they could be Prime Minister for just a few months — and hope that in an election campaign — and with the majority of the mainstream media behind them,  they’d be able to get the better of Jeremy Corbyn.Boris Johnson’s odds of becoming the next PM have shortened from 9-2 to 4-1. David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, is second favourite at 13-2, while Philip Hammond, Amber Rudd and Jacob Rees-Mogg are all 8-1. Ruth Davidson (at 14-1) has support from some influential people. And don’t rule out Priti Patel, currently a 20-1 shot.

How things have changed from April! Back then Theresa May’s position looked absolutely secure- and it was Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn who looked threatened. But now May is 1-12 to be the first leader to resign, while Jezza, whose position has never been stronger, is 6-1. It’s because of Corbyn’s advance that May has had to shift ‘left’ and adopt some Labour policies. She pledged to an energy bills price cap today- a policy that was derided as being ‘Marxist’ and ‘hard-left’ when ‘Red Ed’ Miliband put it forward in 2013. And —breaking from Thatcherism still further- she also announced plans for a ‘rebirth’ of council house building.

In the end though, unfortunately for Mrs May, it probably won’t be the policies announced in her speech for which it will be remembered.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

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