Saturday, May 21, 2022 | Last Update : 11:30 AM IST

  Opinion   Oped  15 Dec 2018  Theresa could end up like Alexander

Theresa could end up like Alexander

In his words: "I am just a professional writer, which means I don't do blogs and try and get money for whatever I write."
Published : Dec 15, 2018, 6:47 am IST
Updated : Dec 15, 2018, 6:47 am IST

Cameron miscalculated, not by a long shot but by the narrow margin which pushed the Leavers to victory.

British Prime Minister Theresa May  (Photo: AFP)
 British Prime Minister Theresa May (Photo: AFP)

“He lets you climb the slippery slope
Lets you hang on to threads of hope
Lets you rely on the knotted rope
By which your future hangs.

He lets you suffer a thousand fears
He wades and rows through all your tears
You wasted all those precious years
still you feel the pangs…..”
From Hunji The German by Bachchoo


If George Orwell had not turned the Russian Revolution’s aftermath into the allegory of an Animal Farm, generations of readers would know nothing about it. William Golding in exploring the theme of the development of human nature pitted against the environment, conceived the allegory as the adventures of children having to survive on a desert island.

Big themes are characterised through narratives of smaller ones. Does it work the other way round? Can a relatively trivial, contemporary instance be the reflection of larger historical stories?

The question occurs, gentle reader, because I am reading a book about the adventures and marauding conquests of the Macedonian, Alexander the Damned (characterised in the book, by most history as Alexander “the great”, — We await “Adolf the Munificent”).


Even as I turn this lying biography’s pages the ludicrous saga of today’s British politics unfolds, with Prime Minister Theresa May being subject by her own parliamentary party to a vote of no-confidence which she “wins” by a vote of 200 to 117. It’s something of a Pyrrhic victory as having more than a third of your own legislators expressing no confidence in your leadership can’t be very comfortable.

It’s the third time in two years that some idiot Tory has made a very large political blunder. The first was David Cameron calling a referendum on Britain staying within or leaving the European Union. He and his then chancellor George Osborne were very much in favour of remaining in the EU and they campaigned hard to ensure their side won. Cameron calculated that when they did, they would silence the sceptics in his party and close down the debate on staying or leaving the EU as well as sending into political oblivion the newly-resurgent party to the right of the Tories whose single platform was leaving Europe.


Cameron miscalculated, not by a long shot but by the narrow margin which pushed the Leavers to victory.

The second blunder was his successor as PM, Theresa May, calling a general election which turned her adequate, if not very comfortable, majority in the House of Commons into a minority. She called the election because the polls and very many opinion-makers predicted a spectacularly increased majority for her and the relegation of the much-derided Labour alternative of Jeremy Corbyn, whom Tories characterise as a Stalinist, into political oblivion. Her campaign promised strength and stability. The electorate didn’t buy it and she was forced into making a deal with the Northern Ireland Democratic Unionist Party, a right-wing outfit of Protestant bigotry, who have 10 votes at Westminster.


The third blunderers were the opponents of Theresa May in her own party, led by Jacob Rees-Mogg. They launched their bid to replace her as leader. They campaigned and ended up with 117 supporters as opposed to her 200, some of whom may have held their noses as they voted to keep her in situ. Her victory means that no further challenge from within the Tory Party can be launched for another year.

She has now promised to deliver a Brexit by the target date of March 29, 2019 and then resign. If there is a victorious no-confidence vote by the whole of Parliament before then, she will have to go and that won’t be a vote to just displace her, but one to displace the present government leading to a general election and a coalition led by Corbyn’s Labour.


The treatise on Alexander tells me that after his conquest and vandalisation of Persia, his armies raided and looted their way through Afghanistan and fought the Zoroastrian King Porus, a satrap of the Persian empire in what is now Northwestern Punjab. This book doesn’t say quite that. It says “Porus” is a Greek perversion of the word purush, meaning “man” in Sanskrit, making this king a Hindu. Now Porus is a perfectly good Zoroastrian name and it’s true that the Persian Empire stretched up to the tributaries of the Indus. And why would a king anywhere call himself “man”?

Alexander then turns back from the Indus because 117 of his top officers say they miss their wives and families and want to get back to Macedonia. But of course, Alexander has 200 other senior officers who perhaps want to proceed across the Indus but are told by Alexander and the scouts who report to him that the armies of Dhana Nanda, the Indian emperor across the Beas and the Indus, are formidable and will probably make Greek Moussaka of the Macedonians and their mercenaries.


Having encountered this daunting probability, Alexander, who had set out with the avowed ambition to conquer the known world — which his contemporaries believed, ended in India, turned back. He now had to lead the 200 generals who supported him and the 117 who didn’t as though they were the premier officers of a united army. He knew that the division between these factions would manifest itself in every way open to divisive tactics on the way back.

So it is with Theresa May. Even now she faces calls for her voluntary resignation. The hard-Brexiteers who voted for her removal will reject any Brexit deal she puts before Parliament, and many of those who voted for her, fearing the enemy on the opposite shores — I mean parliamentary benches — will vote down the withdrawal deal she has made with the EU, who have clearly asserted that there is no other deal available.


On leaving the banks of the Beas, Alexander’s armies split making their own way home.

Allegories, dear Theresa, are usually formulated with a moral in mind.

Tags: theresa may, david cameron