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.



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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.



  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.



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