So tonight was the Battle For Number 10, where Jeremy Paxman interviewed Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn. I haven’t yet watched it because I’ve been out with family for a birthday dinner. I have, however, seen the results on Twitter on the way home – and my goodness, people are overwhelmingly in support of Theresa May (unless they were already die-hard Corbyn fans, that is). In fact, between me starting that first sentence and my typing this sentence, over 60 new messages came in on Twitter talking about this. It’s great to see so many people are engaged with politics in the middle of the night. Will they actually go out and vote? That’s a discussion for another day.
Let’s take a look at some of the highlights from Twitter:
Both May & Corbyn exceeded expectations but May won because she was clear & honest & Corbyn's past caught up with him #BattleForNumber10
— David Maddox (@DavidPBMaddox) May 29, 2017
In summary: PM was quite prepared to defend her record. Corbyn spent most of his time trying to deny his. #BattleForNumber10
— David Jones (@voteDavidJones) May 29, 2017
This is a theme that keeps coming up time and time again (unless you’re a die-hard Corbynist, in which case there’s nothing but silence on this). Corbyn has a long history in politics and he’s done a hell of a lot of monumentally stupid things. Things like inviting the IRA to Parliament in the aftermath of their bombing the Conservative Party Conference. Things like inviting a variety of terrorists to Parliament, in fact.
The Internet doesn’t forgive and it doesn’t forget. Corbyn is going to have to learn that.
Can't believe Labour are attacking Tories for prioritising poor pensioners over richer pensioners. Shocking hypocrisy. #BattleForNumber10
— James Cleverly (@JamesCleverly) May 29, 2017
TM v clear why we cannot continue to duck long term challenge of social care funding, and how our proprosals are fairer #BattleForNumber10
— Jeremy Hunt (@Jeremy_Hunt) May 29, 2017
May is right. Why should someone with a £1m income get money for their fuel bill paid for by someone working? #BattleForNumber10
— Thomas Smith (@SmudgeThomas) May 29, 2017
Speaking of which, we have to cover the elephant in the room: the controversial social care policy that has been the subject of much heated debate (and a hell of a lot of outright abuse on the Internet). I’m not in favour of the way the policy was handled in the Conservative manifesto, but I understand the need to take another look at the “triple lock” on pensions; the current funding for social care; and so forth. We have an ageing population whose pensions aren’t paid out from a pot they’ve paid into all their working lives (it’s a nice little lie that’s kept a lot of Governments going over the decades). The actual way pensions are paid isn’t from the “pot” you’ve been paying into, they are paid from the taxes of the people still working.
You paid for your grandparents’ pensions, and they for theirs. That’s all well and good when populations are either a steady ratio between young and old, or when the numbers of young people are increasing but sadly that’s not been the case for the last two generations. Generation X was smaller than the Baby Boomers (which is only to be expected) and Generation Y (aka “Millennials”) are even fewer in number. So either social care funding needs another look or we have to find the money from elsewhere. It’s not impossible to make these figures work, but the method chosen and the way that method was put to the people leaves something to be desired.
Labour, however, don’t seem to get that. I’m not surprised by that – this is the party that left a memo saying “There’s no money left” after all – but I am surprised by just how aggressively stupid their attacks have been. They’ve always been the party of “rich is bad”. They’ve always been the party that, as Mrs Thatcher so expertly put it, is happy that “the poor get poorer so long as the rich are less rich”. But now they are against means testing? They want the rich to get benefits they don’t need, rather than make sure the poor get the support they need? Did I end up in Opposite World here?
The veteran who asked about social care just told @tamcohen if the election was tomorrow, he'd vote for Theresa May. #BattleForNumber10
— Mark Wallace (@wallaceme) May 29, 2017
Clearly I’m not the only one that spotted how badly Corbyn fared when pushed on his stupid policy. There’s hope for the world yet.
Anyway, let’s finish this off with a discussion about the major issue that dominates British politics and will continue to do so for years to come: Brexit. Now I campaigned for Vote Leave. I will make no apologies for that. I will say one thing, however: if Remain had somehow won, I would not have whined about it. I campaigned for Leave because I feel it was the right way to go when the EU refused to change course and refused to even contemplate the possibility that their way might not be the best way. If it’s change or die and you refuse to change, there’s only one alternative.
A lot of people who voted Remain are in the same boat as me: they cast their vote but they are willing to accept the democratic will of the people and they are backing Brexit. That’s why if there were a second referendum (and I hope there will not be because that ship has sailed) it’s very likely Leave would win by an increased margin. People see this as a done deal; save for a much smaller group of Remoaners than those in said group would like you to believe. They are far, far from the 48% they claim to be.
So let’s take a look at how the Brexit portion of tonight went.
Did Jeremy Corbyn just said "it doesn't mean we are leaving the European Union". Only @Conservatives can deliver Brexit! #BattleForNumber10
— Jonathan Gullis (@JEGullis) May 29, 2017
Well that just sums him up, doesn’t it?
ANY businessperson will tell you: No deal is better than a bad deal. Why is that even a controversial statement? Have the media gone mad?
— Banti, Khyberman (@Khyberman) May 29, 2017
This is the statement that sums up tonight’s Brexit discussions. If the other side know you will accept a deal no matter what, they have no reason to negotiate; they will simply put up what they want from you because they know you will take it. Brexit negotiations under Corbyn would be a waste of time, especially since it’s now crystal clear that he isn’t even behind leaving the EU anyway.
So what was the end result of tonight’s debates? The truth is, nobody can say for sure. The die-hards on either side are going to say their favoured politician won no matter what. Right now (at almost 1am), Twitter is flooded with pro-Corbyn people, all tweeting essentially the same message that they’ve learned off by heart. Earlier on, the discussion was far more against Corbyn and far more likely to actually discuss views on the answers the Prime Minister and Corbyn were giving. The reason for that is pretty clear (most of the Tories have gone to bed because it’s 1am but the Labour people haven’t yet) but it’s skewing the results nevertheless.
There’s probably another article in why that’s happening. Maybe we can look into it another day.