You know, I almost feel sorry for followers of the Labour Party. When they elected Jeremy Corbyn as their leader, I wondered if perhaps he would be a breath of fresh air in what was rapidly descending into a disorganised rabble. Instead he has left them even more disorganised than they were before. In fact, this past week has been a particularly bad one for them.
They greeted the election of Boris Johnson with a predictable wail of manufactured outrage and the usual slogans of class envy. Corbyn himself immediately bleated about the need for ‘a prime minister on the side of the many, not the few.’
What hypocritical tommytwaddle! In the narrow mindset of the Left, Johnson is the perfect target for this kind of propaganda because of his privileged upbringing and colourful record. Corbyn also complains that he was elected only by the Tory membership, not by the public so we need another general election. But although it seems vaguely unfair, it is ridiculous to pretend there is some kind of injustice in Johnson’s elevation to Downing Street. Britain has a parliamentary, not a presidential, system of governance. Party Leaders become prime ministers and there is no getting away from that.
In fact, since the creation of democracy however many centuries ago, the majority of British prime ministers have come to power without any general election. If Corbyn really believed in the strength of his case, he could put down an immediate motion of no confidence in the new Government.
The fact that he hasn’t already done so exposes the weakness of his leadership. He is not a man ready for office, leading a united party.On the contrary, he is an embarrassing mediocrity, whose authority has collapsed and whose activists are at war with each other. With him in charge, it is Labour rather than the reinvigorated Tories who are terrified of going to the ballot box.
As it plummets in the polls, down to just 18 per cent in one recent survey, the party is now paying the price for having elected someone so unfit to rule and so divorced from the political mainstream. But for too long, his spectacular inadequacies were counterbalanced by the puerile mayhem that prevailed in the Conservative Government.
Yes he performed well in the election of 2017 but that wasn’t due to Corbyn’s own appeal but because Theresa Maybe totally botched her campaign, epitomised by her refusal to participate in televised debates.
The atmosphere has changed dramatically with new Tory leadership. Corbyn will now come under tremendous pressure, fuelled by Johnson’s charismatic, mocking style. My own opinion is that he will shrivel in the spotlight of intense scrutiny.
Profound disillusion is now spreading through his party’s ranks. One survey published last week revealed that confidence in his leadership has dropped by 24 points since March 2018, with more than 40 per cent of members saying he has done a bad job. Despair has also gripped Labour at Westminster, reflected in a string of defections by moderate MPs.
Only last week, highly respected frontbencher Gloria de Piero announced her resignation and said she would not be standing at the next general election because of the lack of tolerance in her party.
In the same vein, more than sixty Labour peers signed a newspaper advertisement that denounced Corbyn for creating ‘a toxic climate’ within his ranks.
Baroness Hayter, Labour’s deputy leader in the Lords, accused Corbyn and his cronies of exhibiting a bunker mentality reminiscent of ‘the last days of Hitler,’ a remark for which she was promptly sacked.
Much of the current anger within the party has focused on the reluctance of the leadership to deal vigorously with the anti-Semitism within Labour that makes a mockery of the party’s rhetoric about fighting racism, but there has been just as much fury over the leadership’s equivocal stance on Brexit, where Corbyn has sat on the fence so long he has alienated both Remainers and Brexiteers.
It seems highly likely now that Labour will be crushed in a pincer movement, with Johnson on one side, leading the charge for Brexit, and the Liberal Democrats on the other, acting as the voice of the pro-EU brigade.
Under Corbyn Labour is heading nowhere except the wilderness. In contrast to the new Prime Minister, who exudes energy and optimism, the Labour leader comes across as frail, inadequate and under the control of hardline radicals.
What Labour needs is not a general election but the removal of Jeremy Corbyn.
Back in my Africa, the president of Tanzania has caused consternation in conservation circles by inaugurating the construction of a huge dam in the middle of the beautiful Selous national park.
Various eminent conservation groups have opposed the Stiegler’s Gorge project as it will flood areas containing one of the most significant concentrations of elephant and black rhino left in the world.
President Magufuli called the project ‘the start of economic liberation,’ saying the reserve, which is also a haven for cheetahs and giraffes has been considered a potential energy source for decades. Only one in ten households in Tanzania has access to the national grid and electricity prices are high.
“Beginning today, this will indicate that Tanzania is an independent country… and not a poor country,” Magufuli burbled to the media. “It’s time to benefit from our national resources.“
The scheme is expected to take three years to finish and will mean chopping down more than two and a half million trees to flood an area covering about twelve hundred square kilometres, including the habitats of the reserve’s remaining black rhinos.
I am by no means a ‘bunny hugger’ but this is disastrous news, both for wildlife and the people of Tanzania themselves. The dam will threaten the livelihoods of tens of thousands of folk living downstream, who depend on the river for agriculture and fisheries.
Last month the InternationaL Union for the Conservation of Nature called for an immediate halt to logging and other preparations, warning of irreversible damage if it went ahead.
“It would cut the heart out of the Selous reserve, with catastrophic impacts on the site’s wildlife and habitats,” said Peter Shadie, of the IUCN’s World Heritage Programme.
After the inauguration, the Worldwide Fund for Nature said the game reserve was of extraordinary importance and urged Tanzania’s government to consider ‘less harmful energy alternatives.’
But earlier this month, Magufuli downplayed fears for the environment, saying that by providing energy, the dam would deter locals from felling trees for fuel. How? Tanzanian villagers can’t afford electric appliances to take the place of firewood I’m afraid.
“I want to reassure everyone this project in fact aims to promote the environment,” Magufuli whittered to the media. “Also, it’s just a small part of the reserve – just 3 per cent of the total area.”
But a hugely important area for wildlife Mr President.
The Elephant Protection Initiative, whoever they might be said the fact that a leading wildlife country was ‘prepared to contemplate drowning their natural crown jewels in pursuit of megawatts must serve as a serious wake-up call to everyone in conservation.’
‘Destroying habitat may present the illusion of short-term economic gain, but in the long run is counterproductive, not just for wildlife, but also people and economies.”
Fancy verbiage but what they mean is that yet more of Africa’s shrinking habitat for wildlife is being destroyed and although the animals will suffer most in the short term, tourists will no longer visit Africa if there is no wildlife left for them to see and photograph.
Most African countries, including Tanzania rely heavily on tourism to keep them afloat.
I have not been able to find out who is paying for this project but would bet a pound to a pinch of the proverbial that it is the Chinese. They are intent on taking over Africa and think nothing of doling out monetary favours to politicians and political groups, but they always want their pound of flesh in return.
After Africa it will be the rest of the world, but nobody seems prepared to face up to this.
I often complain about British aid money being sent to Africa but the latest news from Malawi backs up my complaints.
Britain gives that impoverished country £65 million a year in aid, yet the current president’s wife with her entourage of aides came to Britain last week on a private visit that set Malawi – and indirectly Britain – back at least eighty thousand pounds – and that is a conservative estimate.
Gertrude Mutharika came here to witness her son’s ruddy graduation ceremony damnit! She and her entourage of at least seven aides have been staying at the Dorchester hotel, where rooms cost from £700 to £900 a night, with a price of up to £5,500 for suites. I don’t suppose they travelled economy class either!
Reports of the trip have understandably caused outrage in Malawi, where ordinary people survive on an average income of little more than £1 a day. Angry protesters have taken to the streets demanding that Mrs Mutharika return the money spent on the jaunt, and also to allege fraud in the country’s elections in May, which resulted in Peter Mutharika retaining power.
Mrs Mutharika flew in to see her son Tadikira Mafubza – the president’s stepson – receive his degree from the University of Greenwich last Thursday. The Malawian authorities admit the trip was government-funded and that Mrs Mutharika’s party included seven aides. She also hired a UK-based security team to accompany her. That won’t have been cheap!
To make matters worse, she was accompanied by Judith Chimulirenji, the wife of Malawi’s vice-president, who travelled with her own entourage, the cost also picked up by the Malawian government.
One member of the entourage told reporters that the week-long trip was ‘the best time of my life’ because ‘everything is paid for.’
So will Britain either demand that the Malawian president pay for the trip himself or threaten to withdraw aid in the future?
I won’t be holding my breath!