Theresa May may be in a stronger position than it appears: Daily Bullshit, July 11, 2016 (updated)

Updated for more on Theresa May.


Brexit

I doubt Theresa May’s prospects are quite so bleak as Zack Beauchamp believes.[1] First, while the economy is important, even assuming that economists’ dire predictions are correct, it isn’t everything. However ephemeral and despite May’s second wave feminism, the coalition May seems to stitch together within conservatism appeals to traditionalist conservatives as well as the authoritarian populists who supported Brexit and the neoconservatives who vociferously opposed it and who have been running things at least since Margaret Thatcher. In the U.S., traditionalists are pretty weak politically but immensely influential in ideology. To whatever extent this is also true in the U.K., it offers May a substantial political base, probably more substantial than the one David Cameron could ever have called upon.

[T]he most intriguing political comparison is arguably not with Thatcher, but with Gordon Brown, the last political figure dominant enough to become prime minister basically by acclamation. Two serious-minded children of religious ministers, steeped in moral purpose, both possessed of an iron need to control. May is a famously reluctant delegator, needing to know exactly what her juniors are doing and to chew over every detail of decisions – a micromanagement style she cannot hope to apply to an entire government – and like Brown, she demands unswerving loyalty. (Although unlike him, she generally won’t say behind your back what she wouldn’t say to your face).[2]

Second, while Beauchamp focuses on the dilemma May faces, he neglects to consider the corresponding dilemma that European Union leaders face as well.[3] I’m betting that E.U. leaders need a deal as well and diplomats have hundreds of years of experience in painting lipstick onto a pig. They’ll come up with something; it may be fraudulent as hell, but it will allow both sides to claim they have achieved their goals.

Will it be enough? For all this, Beauchamp might still be right. First, the U.K.’s experience with migration may be different from that of the U.S. Where in the U.S., we hear a lot about unauthorized migrants, who often work low-level jobs and undermine worker leverage,[4] we hear more about refugees in the U.K. who may come with different skillsets. “[T]he data shows that immigrants haven’t stressed the UK economy and in fact have contributed to its growth,” explains Beauchamp,[5] and while economists routinely (and probably wrongly) dismiss the impacts of migration on less-educated workers in the U.S.[6] that situation may well be different in the U.K. And all the lipstick in the world on that pig might yet fail to persuade voters.

Zack Beauchamp, “David Cameron is so happy about quitting as prime minister he literally burst into song,” Vox, July 11, 2016, http://www.vox.com/2016/7/11/12149448/david-cameron-prime-minister-singing

Zack Beauchamp, “Theresa May, the UK’s new prime minister, explained,” Vox, July 11, 2016, http://www.vox.com/2016/7/11/12148264/theresa-may-prime-minister-uk

Ian Birrell, “May has thwarted the Tory right. But the Brexit nightmare will haunt her,” Guardian, July 11, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jul/11/theresa-may-brexit-nightmare-haunt-new-prime-minister-death-by-europe

Gaby Hinsliff, “Theresa May: unpredictable, moralistic, and heading to No 10,” Guardian, July 11, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jul/11/theresa-may-the-vicars-daughter-poised-to-pull-the-tories-and-the-country-from-the-abyss


Hillary Clinton

Fig. 1. Candorville, by Darrin Bell, July 11, 2016, via GoComics, fair use.
I believe Darrin Bell (figure 1) errs in implying an analogy between the elections of Barack Obama and the possible election of Hillary Clinton. Obama faced nothing like the challenges that Clinton does and has never been distrusted (except among conservatives who distrust any Democrat) to the extent that she is. If she nonetheless prevails, it will likely be because Donald Trump has proven an even worse candidate than I ever imagined.

Katie Bo Williams, “Pressure grows on Clinton aides to lose security clearances,” Hill, July 11, 2016, http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/287070-pressure-grows-on-clinton-aides-to-lose-security-clearances


  1. [1]Zack Beauchamp, “David Cameron is so happy about quitting as prime minister he literally burst into song,” Vox, July 11, 2016, http://www.vox.com/2016/7/11/12149448/david-cameron-prime-minister-singing; Zack Beauchamp, “Theresa May, the UK’s new prime minister, explained,” Vox, July 11, 2016, http://www.vox.com/2016/7/11/12148264/theresa-may-prime-minister-uk
  2. [2]Gaby Hinsliff, “Theresa May: unpredictable, moralistic, and heading to No 10,” Guardian, July 11, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jul/11/theresa-may-the-vicars-daughter-poised-to-pull-the-tories-and-the-country-from-the-abyss
  3. [3]Zack Beauchamp, “Theresa May, the UK’s new prime minister, explained,” Vox, July 11, 2016, http://www.vox.com/2016/7/11/12148264/theresa-may-prime-minister-uk
  4. [4]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  5. [5]Zack Beauchamp, “Theresa May, the UK’s new prime minister, explained,” Vox, July 11, 2016, http://www.vox.com/2016/7/11/12148264/theresa-may-prime-minister-uk
  6. [6]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).

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