Potiphar12's Blog
An Octogenarian in the modern world


The UK press today is full of the contest to become leader of the Tory party and (presumably) the next Prime Minister. The winner will have to decide when to trigger Article 50. (With the extreme possibility of a second referendum and reversing the OUT verdict.)

Before that action the PM will need a clear perception of what the UK will accept in the nature of compromise and what is a genuine red line. It needs  backing within parliament strong enough to let the PM to feel confident, and to look confident to the EU. Has any of the candidates got the ability to develop a plan, and get serious backing for it, and stick with it in the face of EU opposition. The qualities needed are Imagination and social skill and fighting spirit. How do I feel about the five candidates?

Stephen Crabb has not yet got the status and profile needed and is probably only in it to signal his long-term ambition. The same could be said for Andrea Leadsom, but she can draw on the Thatcher factor and so increase her chances. Liam Fox won’t get it because he tried once before and failed. The label will hang round his neck. So that leaves Gove and May. Gove is a serious thinker and can come up with the right answer to problems. The trouble is that being right when other people are wrong never makes you friends. I can’t see him evoking a sympathetic response from other EU leaders.

Theresa May voted REMAIN and it is argued that it disqualifies her from leading the OUT negotiations. But her vote may not be a disadvantage. She can pose as a true democrat who is willing to listen to public opinion: and democracy is what the crisis is all about. She is also more likely than Gove to promote goodwill towards us. So I have to back the favourite, which is annoying because it never makes you much money.

It was immigration that tipped the balance of the vote. But it did so because it was a good spoon for stirring the pot of general dissatisfaction. Historically, public uprisings have not always brought about the exact change that protesters wanted. What happens is that those in power find  a way of reducing the dissatisfaction in some tangential manner. The issue that sparked the trouble then seems less important. People at least feel that they have been listened to, and have won something that will make them better off. In the negotiations each party should ask “What can WE easily give that will make things better for THEM?” The precise issue that caused trouble will then seem less important and compromise may be possible.

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