British Conservative governments from Major to May

This satiric music video from Britain is called Sacked Patels – “Priti Vacant”.

It is a parody of Pretty Vacant by the Sex Pistols.

It is about Priti Patel, the Secretary of State for International Development in the British Conservative Theresa May government. She is in trouble for talking with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and other Israeli government people about using British International Development money for subsidizing a hospital for injured Syrian jihadists in the Golan area. And she is in trouble as neither Prime Minister May nor Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson knew about these talks, and Ms Patel lied about them.

Priti Patel forced to resign over unofficial meetings with Israelis. Theresa May loses second cabinet minister in a week: here.

The video says about itself:

8 November 2017

The rip-roaring farewell single from Priti Patel‘s Sex Pistols tribute band.


There’s no point in asking the Foreign Office
‘Cause Boris Johnson’s probably out on the piss
If anyone asks, yes they did have a hunch
That Netanyahu and I went out to lunch

Oh I’m so Priti, I’m so Priti
I’m vacant
I’m so Priti, I’m so Priti
On vacation

Don’t ask about the meetings ‘cause I wasn’t there
Okay, there were a couple, but just that – I swear
Alright, I confess, there were a dozen or so
I said we’d send them money
Don’t tell the FCO

Oh I’m so Priti, I’m so Priti
I’m vacant
I met with Bibi, met with Bibi
On vacation

By Kevin Ovenden in Britain:

Why should we be governed like this?

Wednesday 8th November 2017

May’s government is just as corrupt as Major’s, but now there is a real chance that today’s anger could be channelled into radical change, writes KEVIN OVENDEN

THE comparisons between Theresa May’s decaying administration and John Major’s between 1992 and 1997 are now ubiquitous.

Many commentators are also pointing out that May is in a worse position, not least because of the state of the economy. The allegations of sexist abuse today also go right to the heart of the cabinet.

Less remarked upon is the cultural shift that took place 25 years ago, underlying the chaotic political dramas of the Tories, and its parallels today.

Following Black Wednesday and the pit closure crisis in the autumn of 1992 — and then Major’s ill-starred “Back to Basics” relaunch the following year — it was not just that the Tories looked bitterly divided over Europe, incompetent and nasty.

Those features came to stick in the public mind because the entire government and party looked anachronistic, out of touch with modern life — especially and paradoxically, the urban market-driven life that Thatcherism had done so much to promote.

Although there was considerable media prurience about the succession of “sleaze scandals,” the political damage was that they spoke of hypocrisy and abuse of power to a public opinion that was actually becoming less prurient.

There was a marked decline in deference to the traditional institutions of society and state. Again, that was a perverse outcome of the Thatcher-dominated 1980s.

The Major government looked not only out of ideas, but also out of time. The comparison then was with the end of the 13 years of Tory rule, with its imperial decline and Profumo scandal, which came crashing down in Harold Wilson’s victory of 1964.

It was into this atmosphere, and with Labour already well ahead in the polls, that Tony Blair and the “modernisers” made their move in 1994.

It was highly contradictory. On the one hand, it set out to eviscerate socialist content from the Labour Party and make it the natural party of cosmopolitan capitalism.

On the other, there was some genuine enthusiasm that “New Labour” really would mark a national renewal, not just a change of government, but a modern (in a good way) transformation of Britain heading to a new millennium.

In Blair’s hands the gestures towards a progressive cultural shift were trite. Constitutional change brought devolution, but was very limited. New Labour’s first term did not touch the House of Lords and buttressed the monarchy at a moment when it might have been that Elizabeth Windsor would be the last of a wretched line.

The big increase in the number of female (mainly Labour) MPs in 1997 was somewhat negated by a New Labour press operation content to have them referred to as “Blair Babes.”

A few more out gay MPs, but not until David Cameron’s coalition was there equal marriage.

An “ethical foreign policy” which felt the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet’s collar, only to let him go — and then there was Afghanistan, Iraq and the War on Terror.

There was the very special relationship with George W Bush’s White House, which Gordon Brown belatedly tells us withheld from the British government intelligence in late 2002 confirming that Saddam Hussein did not have a weapons of mass destruction programme.

Tory Home Office minister Ann Widdecombe, notorious for the handcuffing of female asylum-seekers in Labour, was out. But in came an asylum and immigration policy that was more draconian.

Even before the reality became apparent, Blair’s “landslide” in 1997 came off the back of the lowest turnout at a general election since 1918.

The great fruit of the modernisation turned out to be the acceleration of the neoliberal revolution begun under Thatcher, and with it the extension of celebrity culture with its deference to newer concentrations of wealth and power.

Blair and his entourage led the way in being besotted by people who were filthy rich. None more so than Lord Mandelson, he of one dodgy mortgage and a couple of Hinduja passports fame.

What’s striking about the current crisis is that it is the new as well as the old deference that is losing its aura.

The #metoo storm began in glitzy, Democrat-supporting Hollywood. It has now reached a supposedly more modern British Parliament and is likely to barrel further into the corridors of wealth and privilege.

The reason this chimes with so many people is not some British “curtain-twitching” attitude to sex in high places or, as Charles Moore and the knuckle-dragging wing of the Tories maintain, that “feminism has gone too far.”

It resonates because, as the #metoo initiative has underscored, sexual abuse, harassment and assault of women remains endemic — from social situations, through public transport and space, to the workplace.

The TUC and Everyday Sexism Project found last year that two in three women at work — half of all women in Britain — had experienced sexual harassment in the workplace.

People are more relaxed than ever before about consensual relationships between adults. This is not about sex. It is about power and the abuse of it.

One reason the crisis is greater than a generation ago is that it hits institutions that are simultaneously anachronistic and straddle the obscene wealth of the modern neoliberal elite that was meant to have brought a cultural revolution. So we have sexist abuse from both ancien regime and nouveaux riches.

Yes — it was a neat parliamentary manoeuvre by Keir Starmer and the Labour front bench to force the release of the Brexit papers last week. But why in the 21st century should that have to be done by “praying a humble address to Her Majesty?”

Bigger reasons are the widening class divisions. They have deepened in the austerity years that have also exposed the continuing oppression of women, despite endless flannel about women’s advancement from parliamentary committees through to lifestyle columns and features over the last 20 years.

For all these reasons none on the left should feel a pressure to downplay these growing scandals, or squeeze them into some narrow party-political tribalism. Yes, the Tories must not be allowed to deflect attention. But no — what is at stake here is much greater than political games.

And for the same reason, the cause of gay and sexual liberation is not served by mounting partial defences of Kevin Spacey.

What are in the dock are wealth, power and the abusive distortions that come with them.

We should say so. Because the other big difference between now and 25 years ago is that politically there is a much greater prospect of channelling this popular recoil from corrupt and backward institutions into a process of truly radical social change.

Why should we be governed like this? Why is so much public life about us feeling obliged to look up to one rich celebrity (which is what too many politicians think they are) after another?

Labour’s Dawn Butler on Sunday, trying to get a word in edgeways interviewed by an Andrew Marr epitomising the BBC’s own problem with Tory elitist bias and male treatment of women, was right to place this issue beyond squalid point-scoring.

A change in government in Britain is urgent. But what is at stake is much more how we are ruled.

“Every cook can govern” was one of the emancipating cries from the Russian Revolution of a century ago. So, today, can every postal worker, the survivors of Grenfell Tower and those who are fighting for bread, while getting tired of circuses.

As in the 1960s and 1990s, there is again a great clash between reactionary privilege and wealth, and emancipatory progress, whose most reliable index remains the position of women.

We can do better this time — and must.

23 thoughts on “British Conservative governments from Major to May

  1. Thursday 9th November 2017

    PRESSURE was mounting on Theresa May as the Star went to press last night after allegations that Downing Street ordered a cover-up over Priti Patel’s meetings with Israeli officials.

    Ms Patel was widely expected to be sacked after she was summoned back from Uganda where she had been on an official government-sanctioned trip with International Trade Secretary Liam Fox.

    The scandal escalated after the Jewish Chronicle claimed that Ms May knew about details of Ms Patel’s secret meetings and asked her to cover them up.

    Chronicle political editor Marcus Dysch said the “sensational” allegations called the PM’s future into doubt.

    The newspaper stood by its story yesterday, saying No 10 knew more about Ms Patel’s “freelancing” than it had admitted.

    Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Ms Patel had visited the Golan Heights during her undisclosed visits to senior Israeli officials, which she failed to mention in her statement to the Commons on Monday.

    The visit is a serious breach of diplomatic protocol. The British government — along with the rest of the international community — does not recognise Israeli control of the Golan Heights, which Tel Aviv stole from Syria in a 1967 land grab during the six-day war.

    Ms Patel was rebuked by Downing Street on Tuesday after she suggested channelling humanitarian aid money to the Israeli army without consulting Ms May.

    However explosive new accusations were made against Ms Patel as Jewish Chronicle sources revealed that she had two unsanctioned meetings in September.

    She was photographed on the Commons terrace with Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on September 7 and on September 18 she met the Foreign Ministry’s top civil servant Yuval Rotem while in New York.

    Mr Erdan described Ms Patel as “a woman of great courage,” saying they were “taking concrete action to advance UK-Israel development co-operation and counter attempts to delegitimise Israel in international institutions.”

    A scandal erupted earlier this year when undercover investigations conducted by Al-Jazeera alleged that there was a major operation — funded by the Israeli government — to influence British politics and take down MPs who oppose the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

    Shadow international development secretary Kate Osamor called for Ms Patel to be sacked and demanded an investigation into the scandal.

    She told BBC News that the PM was being “undermined and is taking far too long to respond to this inappropriate, unacceptable behaviour.”

    Ms Osamor branded Ms May weak, adding: “The sooner she gets rid of Priti Patel” the better standing she will have.,-it-tolls-for-Priti#.WgP8mDuDMdU


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  3. Thursday 9th November 2017

    posted by Morning Star in Editorial

    EVEN as Theresa May finally sees no real alternative but to sack Priti Patel, she still oozes weakness because everyone knows this isn’t her favoured option.

    She has been reeling since her ill-judged bid to win a landslide parliamentary majority blew up in her face, leaving Jeremy Corbyn looking the winner.

    Her billion-pound bung to the Democratic Unionist Party hasn’t made her administration any steadier in the face of instability following allegations of inappropriate behaviour and worse against ministers and MPs.

    May’s conclusion that she cannot afford to lose a single minister has been exploited by Patel, who decided that prime ministerial paralysis gave her the opportunity to make foreign aid policy up without recourse to Foreign Office civil servants or anyone else.

    Her 12 meetings with politicians and aid officials in Israel during a family holiday didn’t arise out of the blue.

    They were organised by Conservative Friends of Israel honorary president Stuart Polak who sat in on talks despite having no security clearance.

    Asked about her failure to consult Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson over these discussions, Patel lied, claiming that he knew.

    She also lied about their number and character so that the first the PM knew about her minister’s meeting with Israel’s corruption-mired Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was last Friday.

    By then even the dogs in the street understood that for Patel to remain in a job after such a catalogue of misdeeds meant that all discipline had broken down in May’s government.

    There was more to come. Patel hadn’t disclosed taking a guided visit to the Golan Heights — Syrian territory occupied by Israel since 1967 and “annexed” illegally by Tel Aviv in a declaration unrecognised by Britain and the international community.

    Patel was so impressed by an Israeli field hospital treating Syrian “refugees,” we are told, that, on her return to Britain, she told civil servants to prepare to switch aid from occupied Palestine to the Israeli military.

    The government quashed this provocative move because of the area’s status, but more serious is the nature of the supposed “refugees.”

    Back in 2015 Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon admitted previously denied claims that the field hospital was treating jihadists, including al-Qaida affiliates, wounded in battles with Syrian government forces, patching them up and returning them to the fray.

    At the same time, Israeli warplanes continue to bomb Syrian troops fighting to drive the jihadist enemy from its land.

    This means that the Israel Defence Forces are collaborating with terrorist groups to destabilise Syria and a British minister, flying solo, looks for ways to back them, politically and financially, driving a coach and horses through the government’s professed commitment to a two-state solution.

    Patel has indicated her intention to delegitimise the Palestine Solidarity Campaign boycott, divestment, sanctions movement, threatening those she says question Israel’s right to exist.

    She must have anticipated that May would eventually have to do something and has set herself up as a potential candidate for the hard right of the Tory Party when the PM calls it a day.

    With Michael Fallon departed, Patel getting her coat, Johnson hanging by a thread and her deputy Damian Green under pressure, that might not be too far away.

    Until then, the Tories will be at each other’s throats, offering a real opportunity for Jeremy Corbyn to set aside parliamentary knockabout and go for the jugular, setting in train a nationwide campaign to demand an end to Tory government squalor.,-Patel#.WgQxpjuDMdU


  4. Friday, 10 November 2017

    Mordaunt replaces Patel, Johnson next for sack!

    THE BREXIT-supporting minister for disabled people, Penny Mordaunt, yesterday was promoted to International Development Secretary by PM May replacing Israeli backed Priti Patel, after she resigned from the Cabinet over secret talks with Israeli leaders.

    As a female MP who is a Royal Navy reservist, Mordaunt had been touted as a possible replacement for Michael Fallon after he resigned as defence secretary last week. Her appointment came after ‘Leave’ MPs warned that if Patel’s successor was a ‘Remainer’ the party could split and the government fall.

    Patel’s allies have meanwhile warned that she is in a position to do ‘hard damage’ to the Prime Minister after she was forced to resign over her secret meetings with Israeli politicians. Also under extreme pressure is Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Yesterday he refused to answer accusations that his remarks to MPs had worsened the harsh conditions of a British woman jailed in Iran on charges of espionage.

    The campaign to free Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe said it has been shocked by comments on Iranian state TV which said that Johnson’s remark to the UK parliament’s foreign affairs committee that Zaghari-Ratcliffe was ‘simply teaching people journalism’ confirmed that the decision to jail her was correct.

    There are now many demands that Johnson must also be sacked and replaced. Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s local MP, Labour’s Tulip Siddiq, added to the criticism of Johnson. The Hampstead and Kilburn MP posted on Twitter: ‘His errors aren’t funny –for my constituent this is life and death. Please @theresa_may – act now to help #FreeNazanin.’

    Labour MP Stella Creasy added: ‘This is sickening. Boris’ behaviour being tolerated creates not just diplomatic nightmares, but a life and death moment for Nazanin Ratcliffe. A stronger PM would have forced him to apologise. A decent man would do so without asking.’


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  7. Wednesday 22nd November 2017

    KEITH FLETT looks back to the general election of 1992 when Major defeated Kinnock

    TONY BLAIR, not for the first time, has opined that Labour should be further ahead in the polls from the Tories than they are.

    His drift is clear enough. Despite the fact that Jeremy Corbyn won 40 per cent of the vote in a general election as recently as June, he is not the person to lead Labour to an election victory in the way that Blair did.

    Here he is doing two things. First he is avoiding actual consideration of why the Tories also regularly score around 40 per cent in polls given the political debacle Theresa May is presiding over.

    Second he is deliberately delving in the twilight zone of the 1990s, a period that is not yet quite history.

    He is reckoning on people remembering or knowing about his landslide victory of 1997 but having little or no knowledge of the context of the years between 1992 — when Neil Kinnock lost to John Major — and 1997.

    Let’s remind ourselves of the June 2017 general election result.

    Despite predictions that Corbyn was leading Labour to electoral disaster, Labour won 12,878,640 votes. Its 40 per cent share of the vote was 9.6 per cent up since the 2015 general election and one of the best Labour performances since 1945.

    The follow-up to this has become the “Peak Corbyn” idea. Namely that Corbyn has done well but in order to beat the Tories a new leader is needed.

    This leaves the real question of how the zombie-like Tory administration can poll roughly the same figures as Labour or certainly why Labour doesn’t have a 10 point-plus lead.

    Here there are two answers. One current and one relating to the history of the 1992-97 period.

    The current issue is that the vote of Ukip has collapsed. It got 12.6 per cent in 2015 and 1.8 per cent in June.

    A good deal of that (but not all of it) has gone back to the Tories.

    Second the Lib Dem vote remains very low around 6-7 per cent.

    Given the virulence of Lib Dem attacks on Corbyn, it’s safe to say they understand that some of their vote has also gone back to the Tories.

    But to fully understand the Tories’ 40 per cent poll rating we need to look back to 1992.

    By 1992 Thatcher had been forced to resign over the poll tax debacle and was replaced by Major. He, unexpectedly and quite narrowly, beat Labour, led by Kinnock, in a general election on April 9 1992.

    For the few months afterwards the Tories led Labour on average by five points in the opinion polls.

    Then came Wednesday September 16 1992, “Black Wednesday.”

    On that day, the Tory government withdrew the pound from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism.

    In order to protect the pound, Chancellor Norman Lamont raised interest rates from 10 per cent to 12 per cent in the morning, and then up to 15 per cent in the afternoon.

    The following day interest rates returned to 10 per cent, but the damage was done in terms of electoral standing.

    Voters with mortgages, perhaps more inclined to vote Tory, had seen the spectre of the cost rising by 50 per cent in a day.

    If it had happened once, clearly it could happen again.

    By November 1992, polls were showing ratings of around 30 per cent for the Tories and 50 per cent for Labour.

    They changed little until the eventual election in 1997. Labour’s lead was nothing to do with Blair, who wasn’t Labour leader in 1992, but with an event so potentially cataclysmic in its impact that it stuck in voters’ minds.

    The May government hasn’t yet managed a similar episode, hence its ratings are holding up.

    However the potential for it to do something similar to Black Wednesday is massive.,-Corbynphobia-and-not-quite-history#.WhWocnmDMdU


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