PETER BRUCE: Be careful what you wish for in the topsy-turvy world of politics
Only in politics can you swallow a nail and shit a corkscrew.
In Britain they had local elections this past week. The Conservatives lost more than 1,300 seats, their worst performance in almost a quarter of a century. Labour, the opposition, did very badly too. And the kneejerk instinct of both parties and the newspapers that support them was to draw a conclusion that was the exact opposite of the truth.
“Got the message? Deliver Brexit!” screamed the Daily Express on Friday. “So now will they listen?” screamed the Daily Mail, joining its rival in trying to blame the defeats on Prime Minister Theresa May’s failure thus far to deliver the Brexit that Britain narrowly voted for nearly three years ago.
Jeremy Corbyn, arguably Labour’s least successful leader since Michael Foot, said the result was clearly a sign that the country wanted Labour and the Tories to strike a deal on Brexit. But here’s the thing. The seats the Conservatives and Labour lost were won almost entirely by parties that want to keep Britain in the EU. What do you do as an ordinary citizen when politicians lie and distort? It happens here, too. In an open letter to The Economist magazine, screaming at it for daring to endorse a vote for President Cyril Ramaphosa, as I have done (at some cost), DA chief whip John Steenhuisen writes, I swear: “A weak mandate for the ANC coupled with a strong showing for the liberal DA will strengthen the push for reform by making the ANC more responsive to the country’s interests. And it will prevent the ANC and the socialist, populist EFF from together achieving the constitutional majority required to change the constitution to enable expropriation without compensation.” I know a...