It would be an understatement to say that Tory Brexiteers are less than pleased with John Major this morning. The former PM gave a speech to the Creative Industries Federation yesterday in which he gave Brexit a good talking down and called for a second referendum on the matter. It was a pretty in your face speech from Major, and I can understand why it upset a lot of Leavers. However, their reactions have been revealing, mostly about the poor state of the current Right.
Nadine Dorries, Conservative MP for Mid Bedfordshire, tweeted out a short clip from 1990 of Margaret Thatcher talking down European federalism in a PMQs session. Dorries wrote of the clip, “Body language of traitor Major sat next to her is revealing.”
We have come to a position where Tory MPs are mimicking Labour’s worst habit: slagging off former leaders, slandering them even. Major isn’t wrong, according to Nadine Dorries – he’s a traitor, apparently. In other words, someone who is knowingly betraying his country.
Dislike of former leaders at least makes some sense within a Labour setting. If the whole idea of a party is that it is on a grand mission to save humanity, as is the case with Labour, it is unlikely any leader given the reigns of power can stand up to such a test. But the Tories are supposed to be about level headed decision making. A steady hand on the till. All that appears to have gone out the window, for the time being at least.
Reading the Dorries tweet, I had an idea. A novel one. Instead of calling John Major names, why don’t the Brexiteers rebut his speech, point by point? If Major is talking rubbish, then it should be relatively easy. This is what the Right used to be good at: hard, incisive political discourse. And when I say “used to”, by that I mean “previous to the middle of 2016”. Now, it is reduced to vicious name calling of its own.
Guys, here’s the situation. Labour have a leader who is a proper Marxist, and because you guys are seen to be screwing up very badly indeed, the IOD of all people are giving him some kudos. Now is not the time to be childishly calling your former leaders “traitors”. Now is the time to get your shit together, pardon my bluntness. Or it will be your fault we end up with Corbyn in Number 10.