Blog » 2016 » October
October 8th, 2016 | no comments | Posted in Uncategorized
“The powerful who abuse their position” is what Theresa May said when asked what made her angry by Nick Robinson on Tuesday morning.
That one sentence sums up why she is the right person to be Prime Minister at this time. It captures what people feel has been going wrong for years and what has led to this big divide between the people and power exposed by Brexit. And if Theresa May remains committed to addressing unfairness and goes after anyone who abuses their position of power she stands a good chance of bridging that divide.
But as we know, this massive gap between people and power is not exclusive to the UK. It’s a western world problem and it’s what is behind the rise of the extremist parties in Europe and the support for the non-politician US presidential candidate, Donald Trump.
That is, until last night’s release of the tape of what Donald Trump said about women. But as much as what he said about women is horrific, it’s that he bragged he could abuse his power to do things to women that would not be possible if he didn’t have that power that’s so abhorrent.
Donald Trump: “And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything”
If he’s a serious candidate (and I think he is) Donald Trump needs to be more specific than he has been so far in his broadcast apology, to show that he understands why ordinary people are angry having heard and seen that tape. If he doesn’t do that, surely he will damage the support he already has as well as kill the prospect of gaining more.
And if Hillary Clinton is smart, she’ll not use this opportunity to try to bring Donald Trump down because of what he said about women on that tape (because I don’t think she would succeed and it could even make things worse for her, especially if he does what I’ve just described). Instead, Hillary should use this opportunity to rise above Trump and deal with her own weaknesses.
The American electorate is not overly enthusiastic about Hillary because they think she and Bill Clinton abused their position of power in the past. Right now she has the perfect opportunity to show very directly that she understands that, and to tell the American people what she is going to change about her own behaviour to prevent what worries some American people will happen again if they are returned to the White House.
The events of the last 24 hours could be the un-doing of Donald Trump regardless of anything more he or Hillary does in the final few weeks of the campaign.
But whoever wins the White House will have to deal with the causes that led to this most extraordinary of presidential elections. And that will require the next President to show they understand why it happened.
I wonder what the 44th President will answer if asked: “what makes you angry?”
October 5th, 2016 | no comments | Posted in Uncategorized
I watched the Prime Minister’s speech whilst I was in Canary Wharf earlier today. In that part of the world there is certainly some unease and anxiety following Brexit. And Robert de Niro’s “you talking to me?” came to mind as I looked around me when the Prime Minister referred to “the privileged few” again.
If anyone had asked me I would have said, “yes – she means you”. And, as a baroness who had lunch in Boisdales today, she means me too.
But c’mon. What have we got to complain about, really? So it feels a bit blunt and when has anyone ever been in favour of serving just the privileged few? But to convince all the people who are “not the privileged few” that things really are going to change she’s got to reflect back that she understands. And they feel like no-one has taken much notice of how unfair things have been for too long.
The reason why in my previous blogpost I emphasised the risks for critics of Brexit is that – what that result exposed goes beyond Party Politics. Our society is seriously divided and we have got to do something about it. I think Theresa May’s plan as outlined this week is the right one and I support it.
Now, as far as debating what created this social divide, Labour and the Libdems can criticise the Tories, the Tories can criticise Labour, or we can have a never-ending argument between Leavers and Remainers about whose “facts” were worse than the other. But if that’s all that happens, the people who have every right to feel left behind and have been angry for a long time will stop voting for any mainstream party. This division has been created over decades and we are all to blame.
The person I had lunch with today is a CEO of a successful business he created himself and is a decent, good person who has worked hard all his life to get where he is. As we talked I wondered whether he might feel a bit hurt and worried to be lumped in with ‘elites’ as if they are all bad for being successful. I hope not, because we need good people like him to keep on doing what they do.
He mentioned that the recent G20 Summit ‘family photo’, where Theresa May was shunted to the back row and the side, was a telling illustration of how the UK is now marginalised and the impact of that on the economy.
I understand that. But I don’t think they’ll keep her back-and-side forever.
My point to him was that, the key word in the Prime Minister’s speech today and over the last few weeks has been “everyone”. Yes she is emphasising that those who have been marginalised for too long are going to get the change they wanted. And yes that might have to be at some cost to others who have had more than their fair share in recent times.
But if she is able to achieve what she has described today, and tip the scales so they are more balanced (without going too far the other way so people stop trying to be successful), the UK will soon be front-and-centre again. Because all those political leaders in the G20 face the same challenges as we do here in the UK. If we all help the Prime Minister succeed, they’ll want a “bit of what she’s having” and the UK will return to its rightful place.
Theresa May has a mountain in front of her and she is determined to climb it. There may be some miss-steps along the way, it won’t be easy, and she should face challenge and scrutiny. But like it or not, that challenge and scrutiny has got to be constructive and in the interests of addressing the social divide if it is not to be counter-productive.
What all good, decent people need to do – whether they are rich, highly educated, middle-income, just managing, or poor – is respect the contribution everyone is going to have to make to help her get there.
October 3rd, 2016 | no comments | Posted in Uncategorized
In a couple of tweets earlier tonight I tried to make a point about Brexit and how critics of the process to leave the EU could be perceived by the public. But it’s not always easy to be clear when you’re working with 140 characters. So for the sake of clarity, my point is this:
The whole process of the referendum has changed the order of decision-making and that’s the kind of change – a transfer of power from politicians to the people – that those who voted out were trying to achieve, and even more people now rather like.
Yes, on 23rd June people voted to leave without knowing precisely what they were getting. But they were clear in their instruction. And, quite properly, they placed responsibility on the politicians to interpret and implement that instruction.
Now at the moment we know little more than #brexitmeansbrexit. Businesses in particular are anxious to know more. But I get the feeling the people are content with just the certainty of exit and will remain contented whilst Theresa May keeps taking an orderly and nicely paced step-by-step approach. It is true that the Prime Minister and the Government face a massive challenge of getting Brexit right and the risk is they will fail to meet the people’s expectations.
But right now – and until and unless Theresa May fails to succeed, and I think she might well pull it off – the bigger risk sits with the critics. And that’s because the decision to come out was not Theresa May’s, it was the people’s. It’s true that responsibility for how it is done and what is achieved sits with the Government and they will and should be held to account for that. But any comment or criticism that seems to undermine the Government’s enthusiasm for getting this right on behalf of the people will be counter-productive. This tweet from Ed Miliband is just the kind of thing that will grate: it’s mealy-mouthed about what’s likely to be achieved and therefore sounds like he’s criticising the people who voted for out for being stupid.
52% of people voted for #Brexit, but even more people would have voted for a “transfer of power to the people” if that had been on the ballot paper. Yet, in reality and for the moment at least, that’s what it feels like they’ve got and it feels good. So what politicians have to understand is that far more than 52% of people won’t like hearing politicians who can’t get used to the idea of having to take instructions instead of telling us what they want. By all means scrutinise and challenge the Government, but don’t challenge the decision that has been taken to leave and do get behind making it a success.