Friday, 27 January 2017

Theresa May's begging bowl speech


Theresa May's decision to go scuttling off to America with her begging bowl to become the first world leader to grovel at the feet of President Trump is a national disgrace for Britain (although it had right wingers like Nigel Farage and Michael Gove creaming their pants in delight).

It was pretty clear that May was going to go begging ever since her utterly woeful Brexit speech admitted that she's pinning our national hopes on some kind of free trade deal with Donald Trump, but the fact that Mexico decided to stand up to Trump's bullying while she was there are just goes to show what an utterly desperate position we're in.

Anyhow. The right-wing press lavished praise on Theresa May's grovelling speech to the Republican retreat in Philadelphia, but there are very many things to object to. Here are a few:

The US Constitution

Theresa May started out by praising the US Constitution, which is ironic because it's the source of American citizens' rights, and she absolutely loves scrapping British citizens' rights. It's also a bit odd because Donald Trump has demonstrated time and again that he doesn't give a damn about the US Constitution.

The United Nations

Theresa May knows that Donald Trump has bitterly criticised the United Nations on many occasions, which is why she deliberately talked it down by claiming that it is in need of reform. But the reform it actually needs is the opposite of what she's hinting at. If the UN is ever to work effectively in needs to prevent the five permanent members of the Security Council (China, France, Russia, UK, USA) from repeatedly using their veto to serve their own narrow political interests, something that Trump would never agree to.

NATO

Theresa May also decided to feed into Trump's isolationist rhetoric by talking down NATO. It doesn't matter whether you see NATO as a good thing or not. What is important is the way that Theresa May, who until recently would never have dreamed of talking down NATO, is now prepared to bend her message in order to appease Donald Trump. May repeatedly talked down the European contribution to NATO as if to lay the propaganda groundwork for pointing the finger of blame at the Baltic states should Trump decide to unilaterally withdraw the United States from NATO.

Winston Churchill

Theresa May knows that Donald Trump (and an awful lot of other Americans) are fond of Winston Churchill, but the repeated references to a man that she is deliberately destroying the legacy of were utterly egregious. Especially distasteful was her decision to quote Churchill's views on rights and freedoms; "We must never cease to proclaim in fearless tones the great principles of freedom and the rights of man". To say this when she's been attacking British freedoms like nobody's business (the right to a fair trial, the right to privacy, the right to free speech) and is utterly determined to destroy Churchill's finest legacy by withdrawing the UK from the European Convention on Human Rights is horrifyingly brass-necked.

The "new era of American renewal"

Theresa May actually referred to the current situation in the US as "the new era of American renewal". She also talked of how Trump had "swept all before you" and his "great victory". Such an overt display of sycophancy towards a narcissistic bully should be a source of shame to British people.

Women's Rights

Often what isn't said is much more telling than what is said. Theresa May didn't make one single reference to women's rights in her speech. She could have mentioned the right not to be molested at work, or the fact that in Britain we respect women's reproductive rights.

She chose not to mention women's rights for one clear and undeniable reason. She considers begging for a Trump trade deal to be of much more importance than the protection of women's rights.


Trident

Theresa May was very keen to talk up the fact that she secured a parliamentary blank cheque for Trident renewal last year. The reason is obvious. Britain's nuclear deterrent was privatised in the 1990s and is now operated by a consortium that is 66% owned by US companies. Theresa May's blank cheque for Trident means these companies will be raking in tens of billions of pounds of UK taxpayers' money. In effect Theresa May was reminding Trump that we're one of the most profitable sources of income for American arms companies.

Daesh/Isis

Theresa May actually had the gall to claim that Britain and the US are leading the fight against Daesh/Isis. We all know that in 2013 David Cameron wanted to create a power vacuum in Syria by attacking the Assad regime in order to hand the keys to Damascus to ISIS. We also know that the Americans are fully aware of Saudi Arabia's involvement in backing ISIS, yet both Britain and the US are selling weapons to the Saudis. If we're such leaders in the fight against ISIS, how come we're allowing Saudi Arabia to fund them, arm them and supply them with thousands of terrorist fighters with complete impunity?

The "quiet resolve" of Brexit

Theresa May claimed that the vote for Brexit was made in "quiet resolve" rather than in the febrile atmosphere of three utterly toxic campaigns, all led by right-wing politicians. The fearmongering of the official Remain campaign was matched by the outright lies of the official Leave campaign and the undisguised xenophobia of the repellent Leave.EU mob. The decision to quit the EU was anything but an act of "quiet resolve", it was the result of an ugly and vicious debate with few redeeming features, it was preceded by the murder of a serving politician, and followed up with a massive increase in violent and abusive attacks on foreigners and ethnic minorities. What on earth is Theresa May playing at trying to redefine such an ugly and divisive campaign as some kind of tranquil moment of decision making?

Regime change is over?

The part of the speech that most of the mainstream press picked up on was Theresa May's assertion that "the days of Britain and America intervening in sovereign countries in an attempt to remake the world in our own image are over". This was reported as if it meant that Britain and the US would no longer be toppling the governments of other countries for ideological reasons, but the following sentence makes it clear that the preceding one was essentially meaningless. When she said "but nor can we afford to stand idly by when the threat is real and when it is in our own interests to intervene" she was essentially saying that another Iraq is likely to happen, because didn't Blair and Bush expend enormous effort to talk up the threat of Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction? What May was actually saying is that she doesn't want Britain and the US to get caught out lying about their motivations for war again.

Iraq

Theresa May's contradictory stance on regime change looks an awful lot like it was written a long time before Donald Trump's declaration that the United States should just steal Iraq's oil, and his dismissal of anyone who raises concerns about the legality of just stealing Iraq's oil as "fools".

It seems that Donald Trump has no intention of getting caught out fabricating reasons to invade other countries, because he's just going to admit the truth from the beginning. "We're invading your country to steal your natural resources". How he thinks that kind of attitude will reduce international terrorism is anyone's guess, but we can be sure that Theresa May will back him up like the disgustingly snide kid who hides behind the school bully and goads him on as he steals dinner money from the weak and vulnerable


Warmongering rhetoric

There is one very obvious conclusion to draw from Theresa May's assertion that "there is nothing inevitable about conflict between Russia and the West". The conclusion is that she thinks war with Russia is a possibility.

The anti-Iranian rhetoric in her speech was even worse. Theresa May knows perfectly well that Saudi Arabia is the biggest source of terrorism and instability in the middle east, but she demonstrated her determination to goad Trump into attacking Iran with an anti-Iranian spiel because she knows that Iran is one of Trump's personal bugbears.

And finally to the point ...

After drivelling on for ages Theresa May finally got to the point; begging for a Trump-Tory trade deal. She is absolutely determined to paint such a trade deal as a great thing for ordinary working people, but it's such obvious propaganda bullshit that only the most delusional could ever fall for it.

The American government promised working people that the NAFTA free trade deal would be good for jobs, but in the end it resulted in the mass destruction of hundreds of thousands of US jobs. Theresa May is trying to sell working people the exact same pup again.

TTIP 2.0

Before the EU referendum Brexiters were absolutely determined fearmonger about the TTIP free trade deal between the Barack Obama's centre-right administration and the politically diverse EU. TTIP is dead in the water now, not least because the most vocal TTIP cheerleaders of all (the Tory party) have ensured Britain's exit from the EU. Anyone who imagines that Theresa May won't end up agreeing a very much more sinister corporate power grab with the Trump administration must be astoundingly naive.

Subservience

Theresa May's pathetic pleading that this new Trump-Tory trade deal should "work for both sides and serve both our national interests" contrasts very sharply indeed with Donald Trump's protectionist inaugural speech full of "America First" rhetoric and promises to rig all trade deals and foreign policy objectives in favour of America.

Theresa May knows just as well as anyone else that Britain is always going to be the junior partner in any dealing with the United States, but especially now that we've put ourselves in such a position of geopolitical weakness.

Trump knows that we need him more than he needs us, so he'll use the negotiations to demand tribute. Opening up the UK market to heavily subsidised US agricultural produce including GM foods and chlorine washed chicken is almost certain to be one demand. The carving open of the NHS to be picked apart by US health corporations will almost certainly be another.

Cowardice

Just like women's rights, Theresa May didn't bother to mention food standards or universal health care in her long rambling speech, because she knows that any defence of things like that would be like a red rag to a bull, and any admission that she's willing to offer them up as "Trump tribute" would cause her all kinds of trouble back in the UK, so just like with Brexit, she decided to say nothing and fill the air with platitudes and Trump eulogies, rather than state an actual position.


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