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.

Audio version of this blog post, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wgd-29th-april-2017

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/320208552″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

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0 thoughts on “Zen and the art of Conservative political messaging

  1. What is their game, sneaking around the Scottish countryside? Really, no internet, no phone, nothing. How very past century. How quaint, remote, even, that Scotland is, after 300 years of this glorious union.

    Thing is, what the freaking hell was she doing, aside sticking 2 fingers up at the people of Scotland. See Ruthie tank commander, oh she looked delighted to have her master there, in the woods, in the bunker, in Scotland.

    Taking her orders, get ready ms Davidson for more training in how to be shouty, and how to ridicule your own country, and somehow convincing many it’s all for the best.

    Do they know yet what the actual result of the GE will be? Anyone could be forgiven for thinking so. Delusion, and collusion, all in it together. Ruthie will be in HoLs very soon, it’s all she is after, it’s so blantantly obvious. Hell mend her.

  2. Pingback: Zen and the art of Conservative political messaging | speymouth

  3. No toilets in Crathie community hut either. Maybe she borrowed the key for the bogs in Balmoral from Lizzie? Blue turds sailing doon the Dee quickly perish in the cauld North Sea.

    Sorry, have a bout of McGonagolitis this morning.

  4. Apposite indeed Paul . The man who wrote Zen and the art of M/C died this week.

    I have a hideous confession to make ,many ,many years ago I voted Tory . I ceased the nasty habit after Mrs Thatcher and will never, ever , even if you were to pull out my fingernails and waterboard me ,will I put an X against the Tory Party .

    • I’ve got an even more hideous confession. Not only did I vote Tory once, I voted for Fluffy Mundell. Mea culpa!!

      • I’m sure we all forgive you Annie, now that you’ve seen the light.

        Between this insulting behaviour of T May and the new YouGov poll question, (basically, would you object to a dictatorship?) I think she’s had a few hints from Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

  5. Oh the irony! Theresa May is so strong and stable she can’t even face the people of Royal Deeside. Think about that for a moment. ROYAL DEESIDE! The Tories are “resurgent” in Scotland? Aye ok.

  6. At least they’ve learned a lesson from the empty hall at their conference. Crathes Community Hall was the perfect venue to make it appear that the hall was packed!

  7. May’s other talent which became apparent in her spell at the home office was finding other folk to blame for her mistakes. So when Brexit goes titsup it will be the beastly furriners fault for holding all the aces in the negotiations and when Scotland goes independent the crash in the English economy will be the beastly Jocks fault for stealing all that English oil off the coast of Scotland.

  8. Must’ve been a long drive back from Crathie – only to suffer a write-off on Andrew Marr.

    “There are complex reasons why people use food banks, Andrew…”

    Aye – hunger, poverty, desperation…

    • Crathie and Crathes are different places. One’s near Balmoral Castle and the other’s east of Banchory.

      • Crathes is the family estate of the Burnett of Leys, the family of Alexander James Amherst Burnett of Leys, MSP for West Aberdeenshire, which owns the surrounding estate, if not the village hall in question. See the Burnett family website. The hall booking chart has been changed from ‘children’s party’ in name of Burnett to ‘busy’ 10-5 and the ‘more details’ option has been removed. Seems like this was a private meeting.

  9. “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men (and women), to do nothing” Edmund Burke.
    Since I believe May, and her party, now fit that description, are we going to allow that to happen?
    Time will tell.

  10. It’s not true that there’s no mobile coverage at Crathes. Look at the various mobile operators’ coverage maps and you’ll see for yourself. Or try Google’s street view; look at the junction of the A93 and the A957, just a couple of hundred yards east of Crathes Hall, and look around 360°. What’s that on the north side of the A93, behind the telephone exchange (yes, they have land lines in Crathes too)? Why, it’s a mobile phone mast!

    I drive past Crathes Hall fairly often and I can assure you O2 has 4G coverage there.

    • Perhaps their coverage is like that of EE, which claims to have 4G coverage in the Isle of Lewis. Strangely enough, of the many people with no mobile phone coverage in Lewis, I am one of the lucky ones with my 1G coverage (only texts, nothing else).

    • There were reports on Twitter from journalists at the event that there was no internet or mobile phone coverage inside the hall. Might have been coverage outdoors.

      • You don’t think a mobile phone mast 200m away could get a signal to penetrate the walls of the hall? Was every journo on the same network?

        I’m afraid I’m very sceptical of the reports. Just like when someone posted a satellite image of the hall’s location with a pin dropped in the middle of some trees when there’s a rather obvious rectangular structure (the actual hall) a couple of centimetres to the left of the pin. Yet, for some bizarre reason, everyone now seems to think the hall has somehow been invisibly squeezed in among the trees.

  11. This is the most sinister, inept and comic general election campaign I’ve ever witnessed from the Tories. All ably abetted by the MSM.

    May is terrified of actually having to defend and explain her policies to the great unwashed. She cannot answer a question or put a logical sentence together. The thought of her being elected in June as our Prime Minister is unthinkable but the MSM are complicit in ensuring her ineptitude is not brought to the attention of the public.

    It will all end in tears once the adults in the EU show the UK that May is deluded and that the consequences of Brexit are much more painful than the majority realizes.

    Scotland can avoid all of this by voting for independence.

    • The EU are ready, prepared and have a plan.
      May and the nasty party are not, never have been and never will be.
      I never fail to be astounded at the lack of awareness of many of the population at large.

      Quote: “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.”

      This says it all and could apply to any of the four unionist Tory party’s.
      How gullible can people be?

  12. There is mobile phone coverage. I stay not far from there, and have been to the Crathes Hall on a few occasions – I even got 4G. Perhaps the press have a rubbish network? Or perhaps the heir to Crathes Estate, Alexander Burnett did something technical and blocked their access?

  13. The hall was booked for a ‘children’s party’. With clowns like Boris and Liam on the payroll
    , the Tories are perhaps hoping to consolidate their appeal to the morally immature by rebranding themselves as the Children’s Party.

  14. Zen went right out the window when Mayhem was well and truly rattled by Andrew marr on his program this morning , her answer to his question was it acceptable for nurses to have to use food banks , robots answer there are many complex reasons for people visiting a food bank eh ?.
    OH NO THERE ISN’T the clue is in the f/kn word “FOOD” yah EVIL B/trd , just like her wee Scottie attack dog Ruthie’s attempt to justify the rape clause , their veil is slipping the true face and intentions of this party have been exposed , if you thought it is bad now you aint seen nothing yet . thats right Labour voters help the nasty party finish their work unhindered .truly sickening .

  15. Two massively embarrassing gaffes from Ms May and both captured on camera. Firstly Ruth the mooth’s toe curlingly embarrassing gush fest with Ms May and secondly May’s horrific statements over food bank usage on Marr this morning.


    ‘Complex reasons’…. Uh huh! So hunger, poverty and deprivation don’t spring instantly to mind in the very softest of interviews.

    I see.

    Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, apparently has no idea why people visit food banks.

    Think about that.

  16. just watched the twitter clip of mayhem and her wee Scottie dug , the parting remark from Ruthie was lets take your message round the doors , ha ha priceless .
    Yer in a f/kn Forrest yah dope , its amazing what a bit of deception and downright lying can hope to achieve when you think the audience are all completely stupid and brain dead .
    are you getting this loud and clear jocks your all idiots if you vote for us Tories .

    • The torys really should keep there overlord off the twitter we the unwashed masses know how to use it better than she does

    • They were not in a forest! There are some threes there… and some houses. That doesn’t make it a forest.

      Have you ever been in a forest? How many community halls have you stumbled across while in a forest?

  17. May is worse than Thatcher. That is a measure that ordinary Scots will understand. The SNP needs to get that message out together with the message that there will be no excuse that “I didn’t know” if they vote Tory and things get worse.

  18. That’s true, Arthur. May IS worse than Thatcher. She is so much more dishonest…….and farce is great fun in the theatre but embarrassing in politics.

  19. Lovely to see in The National today a ‘blow’ for the Yoons instead of Nicola! They say that support for Indy is now standing, for the first time, at 51% .

  20. This was posted by gerry over on WoS, so apologies for the length of read.

    gerry says:
    1 May, 2017 at 6:10 am
    Sorry for the length of this, apologies if you have already been made aware
    “This is From Jeremy Cliffe the Berlin Bureau Chief at The Economist (http://www.economist.com/blogs/kaffeeklatsch) – Citing [FAZ](faz.net) – http://www.faz.net/aktuell/wirtschaft/brexit/eu-kommission-skeptisch-vor-brexit-verhandlungen-14993673.html
    In full:
    1) May had said she wanted to talk not just Brexit but also world problems, but in practice, it fell to Juncker to propose one to discuss.
    2) May has made clear to the Commission that she fully expects to be re-elected as PM.
    3) It is thought [in the Commission] that May wants to frustrate the daily business of the EU27, to improve her own negotiating position.
    4) May seemed pissed off at Davis for regaling her dinner guests of his ECJ case against her data retention measures – three times.
    5) EU side was astonished at May’s suggestion that EU/UK expats issue could be sorted at EU Council meeting at the end of June.
    6) Juncker objected to this timetable as way too optimistic given complexities, eg on rights to health care.
    7) Juncker pulled two piles of paper from his bag: Croatia’s EU entry deal, Canada’s free trade deal. His point: Brexit will be v v complex.
    8) May wanted to work through the Brexit talks in monthly, 4-day blocks; all confidential until the end of the process.
    9) Commission said impossible to reconcile this with need to square off member states & European Parliament, so documents must be published.
    10) EU side felt May was seeing whole thing through rose-tinted glasses. “Let us make Brexit a success,” she told them.
    11) Juncker countered that Britain will now be a third state, not even (like Turkey) in the customs union: “Brexit cannot be a success”.
    12) May seemed surprised by this and seemed to the EU side not to have been fully briefed.
    13) She cited her own JHA opt-out negotiations as home sec as a model: a mutually useful agreement meaning lots on paper, little in reality.
    14) May’s reference to the JHA (justice and home affairs) opt-outs set off alarm signals for the EU side. This was what they had feared.
    15) ie as home sec May opted out of EU measures (playing to UK audience) then opted back in, and wrongly thinks she can do same with Brexit
    16) “The more I hear, the more sceptical I become,” said Juncker (this was only half way through the dinner)
    17) May then insisted to Juncker et al that UK owes EU no money because there is nothing to that effect in the treaties.
    18) Her guests then informed her that the EU is not a golf club
    19) Davis then objected that EU could not force a post-Brexit, post-ECJ UK to pay the bill. OK, said Juncker, then no trade deal.
    20) …leaving EU27 with UK’s unpaid bills will involve national parliaments in process (a point that Berlin had made repeatedly before).
    21) “I leave Downing St ten times as sceptical as I was before,” Juncker told May as he left
    22) Next morning at c7am Juncker called Merkel on her mobile, said May living in another galaxy & totally deluding herself
    23) Merkel quickly reworked her speech to Bundestag to include her now-famous “some in Britain still have illusions” comment
    24) FAZ concludes: May in election mode & playing to crowd, but what use is a big majority won by nurturing delusions of Brexit hardliners?
    25) Juncker’s team now think it more likely than not that Brexit talks will collapse & hope Brits wake up to harsh realities in time.
    26) What to make of it all? Obviously, this leak is a highly tactical move by Commission. But contents deeply worrying for UK nonetheless.
    27) The report points to major communications/briefing problems. Important messages from Berlin & Brussels seem not to be getting through.
    28) Presumably, as a result, May seems to be labouring under some really rather fundamental misconceptions about Brexit & the EU27.
    29) Also clear that (as some of us have been warning for a while…) No 10 should expect every detail of the Brexit talks to leak.
    30/30) Sorry for the long thread. And a reminder: full credit for all the above reporting on the May/Juncker dinner goes to the FAZ.”


    At this point I’m convinced the Uks negotiation strategy is in fact led by the Carry On team.

    • I read it too, Sam.

      As I have observed before, we need only sit back and watch the Whitehall Farce that is Brexit unfold.
      I am positive that the Great English Public have no idea what is about to hit them.
      This summer holiday season should be fun.
      Japanese, S Korean, French, and Indian car makers will wind down in England and move on to the Continent, costing tens of thousands of jobs, The City Finance Houses are already ordering the removal trucks.
      Scotland, still in the EU, will see mass migration from the South, and Global companies will look North to relocate here, still in Europe, with an excellent workforce,English speaking (sort of), First World country and all that entails.
      As they say, what goes ’round comes ’round.
      May is having a lousy time of it this week. Corbyn’s beginning to look good: Shave off the beard, ditch the War On Want Charity Tweed jackets, a touch of Grecian 2000, and he could just shave it.
      A May/Corbyn Coalition?

  21. The EU took just 25 minutes to agree unanimously their guide lines for Brexit.
    They included some interesting additions. The UK becomes after it leaves a “third” country on a par with all those countries outside the EU. Yet, worse, s’s it will have to start from scratch to negotiate a new relationship with no cherry picking and its deal will not be better Than it would have been as a member!
    Concerning Cyprus, the UK bases which will be alien in an EU country need to be regulated! And of course the Gibralter question, like the Schleswig Holstein issue in the 19th Century, constantly mocked by the UK, is interesting. The future deal, assuming the UK accepts one, will mot apply to Gibralter – a disputed territory – unless the UK and Spain can come to a separate agreement!
    So, hard Brexit is on the way.
    In fact, after June, watch this space, will the Westminster government just announce “we are out”?
    After all, if May cannot show leadership qualities, gas run run from tv debates, how will she manage to debate and negotiate with the 27?
    Send a gun boat up the Rhine, the Seine or the Scheldt?
    All we need at this juncture is for there to be a change over in the House of Windsor and brittaniaism will be loud and clear. Remember, the present incumbent is the daughter of the last Emperor of India!
    Perhaps the bunting is moth eaten.
    The Tories used to call May “subterranean” as she never really opened up. MayBot, as one sketch writer at the Guardian has termed her, is now just a programmed one liner!
    The long drawn out contest with her “absent” might just be her electoral downturn.

    • How embarrassing was that for the.
      They seem to block out ‘awkward’ quite well.
      Wasn’t it nice of the PM to say “OK we won’t call on you” in response to the “No thank you”.
      It’s not like she had any choice, was it?
      I suspect the other houses were not empty, just ‘not in’.

  22. Priceless footage of May demonstrating how to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in just 6 weeks.
    A bit of whimsy in never amiss on this lovely Bank Holiday Monday.
    Speaking of:-

    Dateline 1st May 2020.
    Breaking News:
    Reports are just coming in that Morag MacPerson , 42, Principal First Violin with the newly formed North British Orchestra has been reported as missing from their Paris hotel, their base on the first leg of the orchestra’s inaugral European tour.
    The orchestra are scheduled to visit Berlin, Copenhagen, Madrid, Milan, to perform Ode to New Great Britain, the new symphony composed by Sir Paul McMurray to mark that historic day when New Great Britain took back control of its manifest destiny. The concert in Gibraltar has been struck from the itinerary following Spain’s air and sea blockade earlier this week. It is reported that the Foreign Office has protested in the strongest possible terms. Foreign Minister Boris Johnson is considering sending a gun boat.
    The tour’s organiser, Lord Fotheringay of Dithering-on-Why , a keen amateur violinist himself, revealed that there were concerns about Ms MacPerson’s mental state prior to the trip, following her arrest in Edinburgh and impending prosecution over allegations that she was flying the illegal Saltire flag in her garden.
    Her trial had been deferred until the North British Orchestra returns from its post Brexit tour.
    The controversial virtuoso faces a 3 year mandatory jail sentence, if as expected, she is found guilty.
    A neighbour, who did not wish to be named, revealed that this was not the first time Homeland North Britain Security forces have been called to Ms MacPerson’s plush West End flat following an incident.
    “She was always playing seditious music, full blast, with all the windows open, even in winter.
    The outlawed Corries, bagpipe music, the Proclaimers, Kenneth McKellar…it was relentless. And she had a stream of visitors, shadowy characters, skulking in under cover of darkness. Many of them had red hair, and my partner swore that he caught a glimpse of a tartan skirt hidden under a long trench coat worn by a wild eyed girl with a curly mop of copper coloured hair.
    It’s a running joke in the neighbourhood, where we refer to this little clique as, ‘the Red Headed League.’
    This latest development doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. God knows what was happening in her flat. They could be a secret cell of insurgents, who refuse to accept that the North British voters voted No, and that the Nationalist Parties were outlawed under the Great Repeal Act 2019.
    She has been warned more than once by the Residents’ Committee about her anti -social behaviour.
    Twice she hung a full wash out on a Sunday. She caused an ugly scene at our local newsagents when they refused to order in a regular supply of banned publications, you know the stuff, written in French or German, sold under the counter at the Barras, vile anti New Great Britain literature; word has it that she speaks French and German, and Italian. It was probably some subversive French Magazine, or German newspapers, most likely. I heard that she caused quite an ugly scene, insulting the proprietor, calling him an effing fascist.
    The woman has no class. Good riddance, I say.”
    Reports in foreign newspapers hostile to New Great Britain, that the mentally disturbed musician has sought political asylum in France have been vehemently denied by Kevin MacKernan, Managing Director of Britain First, the Government’s new privatised Communications Unit.
    “It is a matter of great concern that Ms MacPerson is being held against her will by a government hostile to New Great Britain. The New British Embassy has protested in the strongest possible terms to the Left Wing junta which ousted Mlle Le Pens’ moderate centrist Government in December’s coup d’etat.
    It is no secret that French subversives, our former allies, seem determined to sour relations with our nation at every turn following our triumphant No Deal exit from the EU last year.”
    Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the So Called Scottish Government in exile, was defiant when our reporter caught up with her at the gates of her plush £3 million villa in the millionaires’ paradise of Biarritz.
    “Due to cut backs by the May/Corbyn Coalition government, the rumblings among the members of North British Orchestra have come to a head. Funds for rosin and Brasso for the brass section have been slashed by 40%.They are one timpani beat short of disaster. It’s that serious.
    I have no doubt that having to share a triple bunk bedroom with two of her fellow musicians in a glorified B&B in the Paris Suburbs has taken its toll.
    I have invited Ms Mac Person to visit me in Biarritz, to discuss re- forming The Scottish National Orchestra in Exile.”

    In Other News:
    North Britain’s newly appointed Governor General Baroness Ruth Davidson of Morningside will attend the unveiling of the new ‘Welcome to North Britain’ sign on the M6 north carriageway at New Gretna.
    The ceremony heralds the completion of Project Road Signs, the North Britain wide replacement of all road signs as one of the Coalition Government’s ‘government for all, not the few’ initiatives.
    Baroness Davidson will say: ‘Today is an historic day in the fight to take back control. No more will Britons travel North on business or for a huntin’ and fishin’ break only to be bamboozled by unintelligible signs written in a dead language.
    I am pleased to announce that the work has been completed in record time, using a workforce drawn from the pool of Gaelic speaking jobseekers languishing on the unemployment register for too long.”
    I know, I fear I am beginning to lose it.

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