Politicians can be shameless in their appropriation of others’ achievements, especially when their own record is particularly weak. So it was no surprise to see the Tories, after a shambolic reshuffle by Theresa May which exposed recent talk of her renewed strength as another invention of her pals in the press and commentariat, claiming credit for something that has been enacted in spite of them, and certainly not by them alone.
The party’s Twitter feed told, over an image proclaiming “We’ve banned credit card charges … Saving you money when you shop online or in-store”, that “Hidden charges for paying with a debit or credit card will be banned from today - helping millions of people to avoid rip-off fees when spending their hard-earned money”.
Theresa May went further, using the same image and claiming “From today we're banning hidden charges for paying with your credit or debit card - a move that will help millions of people avoid rip-off fees when spending their hard-earned money”. There is no wriggle room here: this claims sole credit for this move for the Tories.
But it did not take long for the claim to unravel. Citing an article in Irish News, one Tweeter responded to the PM “Theresa, how did you manage to do it in Ireland too? I'm impressed!” It’s a difficult ask to get the very same move enacted in a country over which our Government has no jurisdiction. And it wasn’t just Ireland.
One economic consultant in London noted Theresa May’s claim and responded “So is the rest of the European Union”. D’you know, this sounds rather like one of those EU directive thingies - agreed by all member states and then approved by their individual sovereign Parliaments. Perhaps a look at the European Commission Twitter feed was in order.
And sure enough, there it was: “As of today, new EU rules on payment services apply … They will prohibit additional charges for payments with credit or debit cards, both in shops or online … introduce strict security requirements for e-payments … enhance consumers' rights”. There was even a link to yesterday’s press release. From Brussels.
The adverse response to the sham claims by Theresa May and her party was swift and, worse for the Tories, knowledgeable, one particularly indignant responder putting them straight: “How can she have bare-faced cheek to claim this as a Tory policy? This is EU directive PSD2. Shameful”. The Tories seem to have missed something here.
When they and their press pals openly slag off the rest of the EU, they can hardly complain when all those fluent English speakers across the Channel form a less than totally positive view about the UK and the intentions of its politicians.
Moreover, they can’t complain when an increasing number of voters refuse to believe the propaganda they are being fed by the Tories and their press pals, instead looking to the EC for the real story. You propagandise and lie, you get found out.
And claiming credit for the work of a body you’ve told the voters isn’t worth the membership fee is totally beyond the pale. Pants on fire, Prime Minister.