Zen and the art of Conservative political messaging

Source: Wee Ginger Dug Zen and the art of Conservative political messaging

Theresa May has come and spoken to the people of Scotland! But don’t get too excited. Actually it’s kind of superfluous telling people not to get too excited by Theresa May because there are wallpaper pastes which are more attractive a prospect than a Prime Ministerial speech. And wallpaper paste actually serves a useful purpose for people other than the wallpaper paste, which is a whole lot more than you can say for anything that issues from the repetitive and robotic gob of Theresa May. There are electronic lift floor announcements which have more flexibility and spontaneity. And more humanity and compassion too. An elevator voice announcement wouldn’t ever have come up with the rape clause or home office vans telling people to grass up their neighbours for deportation.

Anyway. Theresa May did come and speak, although it’s pushing it somewhat to say that she came and spoke to the people of Scotland. She came and spoke in a hut in a forest near Banchory and was kept well away from any of the great unwashed Scottish public who might have asked her something that wasn’t covered by one of her stock phrase responses. Which begs the question, if a Prime Minister speaks in a forest and there’s no one there to hear her, has she really said anything at all? That’s a zen-like question which is infinitely more philosophical and deep than anything you’ll ever get from Theresa. Although to be fair that wouldn’t be hard.

The Tories do inadvertently provide the answers to any number of philosophical questions however. Such as – what is the sound of one hand clapping? It’s the sound of Theresa May slapping you on the face when you dare to ask what’s happening to your human rights after she’s removed the Human Rights Act and replaced it with her so-called British Bill of Rights. Does free will exist? Now is not the time. Or, if the only thing I know is that I know nothing, then I must have been listening to Theresa May telling an interviewer what Brexit means. Or, if I go back in time and kill my own grandfather, does that mean that I wouldn’t have to see a staged and entirely artificial Conservative party political broadcast masquerading as a news event? It’s zen and the art of Tory party political messaging. It’s a bit like ruining yourself financially by spending all your money on getting stoned, only without any of the pleasure.

The hut was in an area without mobile phone or internet coverage. The Tories picked it because it serves as a metaphor for the kind of country that they want to turn Britain into. Isolated, lost in the woods, and with the same kind of infrastructure that you’d expect in the 1960s. Somewhere deep in those woods there’s a lost soul, condemned to wander alone in the cold and the wind for all eternity. On wild winter nights you can hear their hopeless wails and screams. That’s what happened to a member of the public who had turned up in the hope that Theresa May would answer one of their questions.

The event had been booked in Crathes Community Hall by the local Tory party who told the hall management that they were hosting a children’s party. That’s probably the most honest thing that the Conservatives have ever said. After all, the hall was full of balloons and they had a main act who has a propensity for wearing a clown suit, and who told fairy stories in simple and repetitive language to reassure little children who haven’t thought through the logical implications of what they’re being taught.

Our TV news is full of these events. Politician goes off to party event, repeats the same soundbites that they’ve been saying on previous newsoid occasions in front of a handpicked audience of local party faithful who are all bunched up behind the politician in an attempt to make it look like there’s a huge crowd, and then it’s plastered all over the telly like something significant actually happened. The press know it’s a farce. The political party knows it’s a farce. And the public knows it’s a farce too. What really happened was that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom came to Scotland and then hid in a shed deep in the woods of rural Aberdeenshire where her aides could make sure she was kept far away from anyone who might criticise her. It says a lot about her unpopularity that she had to hide in a hut in a forest in the middle of nowhere. Even Gordie Broon’s manufactured press events managed to happen in places which are actually inhabited, even if they weren’t inhabited by Gordie’s supporters. In Tory Scotland, bears don’t shit in the woods, Theresa May bullshits in the woods.

But the press goes along with the charade because if they don’t then their reporters won’t get access to the politician on those increasingly rare occasions when there’s a chance for proper questions to be put. Although when those questions are put the politican doesn’t answer them anyway, instead repeating the same nostrums that they want to get into the press that day. Theresa May’s sole political talent is the ability to never knowingly give a straight answer to a direct question. This is the farcical make believe that is hollowing out democracy. This is why people are losing faith in politics and losing faith in the media that reports on it.

On the same day that Theresa gave a demonstration of practical philosophy in a hut in a forest near Banchory, the EU told her that EU citizens resident in the UK need guarantees on their status, and there will be no trade talks with the UK until they get them. Theresa May said that she called this general election in order to strengthen her hand in negotiations with the EU, but the truth is that she’ll get the Brexit deal that the EU deign to give her, and that’s going to be a deal that will leave the UK worse off than it was as an EU member. That’s simple realpolitik.

Zen teaches that reality is an illusion. We don’t need zen to see the truth of that message. Theresa May’s politics are an entire lesson in illusion, but one day soon the reality of EU negotiations is going to bring Theresa’s illusions crashing down to Earth, and no amount of hiding in a hut in a forest in Aberdeenshire will ensure that she can dodge the Brexit bullet that’s heading straight for the heart of her government.

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