More on Teresa May’s Conference Speech
The Prime Minister’s closing speech to the Tory Conference was most encouraging insofar as it affirmed her commitment to “One Nation Conservatism” and to “Christian Democracy”. But her speech should not be analysed in purely political terms. Paul Mason wrote on the Conservative Home blog describing the speech as “The Prime Minister’s Class Act”.
While the wording of the headline is questionable, Mr Mason rightly identifies the Prime Minister’s motivation as coming from her upbringing:
“Why, then, does Theresa May stand a chance of making the claim stand? After all, she is solidly middle class herself. Perhaps it has something to do with being a Vicar’s daughter. The clergy are by and large middle class, but are the only occupational group in that class to live among poorer people in large numbers. The Anglo-Catholic tradition in which the Prime Minister was raised had a preferential option for the poor long before the phrase was invented.”
Absolutely right. See this booklet published by the Unite Trade Union “The Great Dock Strike of 1889” which sets out in excruciating detail the terrible consequences of unbridled “laissez faire” capitalism and the impetus it gave to the Trade Union movement. The clergy of dockland parishes (both Anglican and Catholic) were very conscious of the iniquitous treatment of their parishioners.
But go to pages 37-38 of the Unite booklet and read about the part played by the then Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, in the settlement of the dock strike in 1889. Cardinal Manning was an Anglican clergyman in the 1880’s and was not received into the Roman Catholic Church until 1851. His experiences in 1889 led to the promulgation of the Leo XIII encyclical “Rerum novarum” and to the development of Christian Democracy.
Christian Democracy is very much a European political ethos: see the long list of European Christian Democrats at the foot of the Wikipedia page. Unsurprisingly, what is now the European Union was largely built by politicians who were Christian Democrats and Christian Democratic MEPs are to this day the majority in the European Parliament and that ethos makes equal treatment of EU citizens throughout the territory of the Union a fundamental EU doctrine.
This report in the Times “Merkel leads European backlash over May’s Brexit demands” was therefore to be expected. It is worth reading the reader comments on this article – in particular this by Martin Bell:-
“Apart from the minor fact that Sterling has lost more than 20% of its value since the referendum result and food, motor fuel and household energy prices will rise to reflect it and any further decline, Brexit is going absolutely nowhere right now. May doesn’t command a majority for it in the House of Commons, she doesn’t even have one amongst her own MPs, and Parliament won’t approve an Article 50 Notice being served on the EU. The Government’s attempt to use the Royal Prerogative to bypass Parliament is being blocked in the High Court and will probably slowly crawl its way up to the Supreme Court. Until the case is decided Brexit is in limbo but ‘Brexit’ price rises will be continually hurting voters pockets and quite soon. Opinion poll surveys in coming months of public attitudes to Brexit should be quite interesting given that the referendum result was marginal. The public are hopelessly divided over Brexit, and fickle. ‘Come with me! – to petrol at £1.50 a litre. No chance. By Christmas Brexit will be a chaotic Tory turkey that isn’t worth the pain. Have they forgotten ‘it’s the economy, stupid’.”
It is worth making one point about the reference in the comment above to the pending judicial review proceedings.
The Judicial Review proceedings are due to be heard in the Divisional Court very shortly. The Court has made arrangements for a possible “leapfrog” appeal to the Supreme Court thus bypassing the Court of Appeal. Therefore, the case is not going to “crawl slowly” but will probably be entirely disposed of by the end of the year.
Discrimination against EU Nationals
The new Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, also spoke at the Conference. The full text of her speech has been published by the Spectator: “Full text: Amber Rudd’s conference speech“.
To make matters worse, the Times also published this: “Firms must list foreign workers“.
The use of the word “list” in the headline is perhaps very unfortunate. The immediate gur reaction in Europe might well be to think that the next step will be that of requiring EU nationals to wear some kind of distinctive badge (a yellow star perhaps).
This Guardian article covers the reaction from business: “Amber Rudd faces backlash from businesses over foreign workers“. The FT has a similar story: “World leaders dismayed at UK plans to curb foreign workers – Amber Rudd’s ‘nudge’ to employers portrayed as expression of xenophobia“.
See also this in the Mirror: “Shameless Tory Amber Rudd slammed by her own BROTHER for ‘appalling’ attack on foreign workers“. This article not only picked up on the Amber Rudd boob but also on a classic Boris Johnson own goal:-
“Ministers sparked further outcry today as it emerged the Foreign Office have banned non-British experts from advising it on Brexit . In an extraordinary move, Boris Johnson’s department emailed the London School of Economics(LSE) to say that foreign nationals should not contribute to a series of advice papers the LSE was preparing for the government. One of the nine experts affected, Sara Hagemann, an assistant professor in the university’s European Institute and one of Britain’s top experts on EU negotiations.She wrote on Twitter: “UK govt previously sought work & advice from best experts. Just told I & many colleagues no longer qualify as not UK citizens.” The decision sparked shock and revulsion among academics and politicians alike. Senior lawyers questioned if it was even legal under Britain’s equality laws.”
This recalls what the Independent had to say at the beginning of the month: “Brexit is being handled by ‘three blind mice’ who are staggeringly naive, says former Tory minister“.
In fact, the full text of what Nick Herbert had to say was set out in more detail in this Guardian article:”Hard Brexit ideologues threaten the UK’s economic future“.
It may well be the case that at some stage very soon, someone will have to start cutting off some tails.