Only the news that Bette Midler won the Best Actress in a Revival Tony the other night has somewhat leavened the fall-out from Mrs May’s ill-fated general election. True, it is well to remember that Mrs May won even though the cost was dancing with the devil to achieve a majority. But if I were the Tories I would still be in a Code Red that Mr Corbyn’s Labour party inspired a record turn-out in student cities.
There is absolutely no getting around the fact that when the election was announced it was predicted that Mrs May would win a majority that outshone even Margaret Thatcher in her pomp. Within days, the self-sabotage began. Every policy seemed to be grim and aimed at sticking in the collective craw of Conservative heartland voters.
The Dementia Tax debacle was entirely avoidable when you consider all but the super rich in England are justifiably fearing cost of care in old age. The repeal of the fox hunting ban was quite simply perverse considering so few people were calling for it. All carrot and no stick is not only a brutal manifesto, it is a stupid one.
To add insult to injury, Mrs May’s repeating ‘Strong and Stable’ like an old lady at a bus stop became increasingly comedic when the government was forced to U-turn on the Dementia Tax and the leader effectively went into hiding from the media. ‘The Lady’s Not for Turning-Up’ was like shooting fish in a barrel for the Labour party.
TV debates are admittedly like Beyond Thunderdome without a firm hand and Misha Hussein’s was as weak as a kitten. But for the chief gladiator not to enter the ring smacked of weakness and fear. Mrs May allowed Jeremy Corbyn to do his benign Papa Smurf act unchallenged.
Where were the Tories on social media? Twitter is left-wing in its bias (not as much as the BBC I’ll grant you) but it is a necessary tool for the Conservatives to speak to generations of voters in their own language not in the dry, dusty dictates that came from Mrs May’s press office.
We have X-Factor and the like to thank for elections becoming personal popularity contests. Mr Corbyn’s team knew that and gave him the green light to promise the abolition of tuition fees and rebates for those already crippled with debt. Well, if I were still a student he’d have got my vote too.
It was pernicious to saddle students with tens of thousands of pounds worth of debt like an albatross around their necks. But as we all know, Mr Corbyn and Diane Abbott’s mathematics are as dodgy as Tony Blair’s man tan. Still, Mr Corbyn was allowed to promise castles in the air unchallenged by the Tory party and that came dangerously close to Mrs May losing an election.
To concentrate so myopically on Brexit was also a mistake. I think we’ve all ascertained that ‘Brexit means Brexit’ but did want some flesh on the bone from Mrs May rather than her repeating herself like a Dalek saying ‘Exterminate! Exterminate!’ The Labour party had given the Conservatives its support for Brexit. One would have left Brexit as an inevitability rather than continue to shadow box with an issue already decided.
It really doesn’t look good that The Queen’s Speech is going to be delayed while Mrs May tears-up her manifesto and starts again with a few notes and queries from her Irish friends. I’d imagine Her Majesty isn’t best pleased though I am sure it will be a relief to wear a nice Rachel Trevor-Morgan hat this time rather than the Imperial State Crown.
Going on Tory party history, I think we all expected Mrs May to have fallen by now in a night of the long knives. Mrs Thatcher was one of the most revered leaders in the 20th century and her party still knifed her in the back when she was politically wounded. You’d have thought there would be no clemency granted to Mrs May.
I am sure former chancellor George Osborne is not alone in thinking Mrs May is a ‘Dead Woman Walking’ or a ‘Zombie Prime Minister’. I am equally sure that though Boris Johnson denies a leadership bid now that he will have a go and fight the next general election whenever that might be.
Mrs May showed an awful lot of promise in the first year of her premiership vowing to stand-up for hard working Brits, punish the vampire squids in the financial services industry and crack-down on big businesses avoiding tax. I thought that was a solid foundation after the venal Tony Blair years, the grim Gordon Brown era and David Cameron’s Eton cabal.
I think perhaps she underestimated personality politics and listened to a small kitchen table cabinet of Iagos who were playing at politics rather than really thinking about the welfare of the British people. I think we all want to hear a lot less from the Palace of Westminster and just trust the people we’ve voted in to get on the job on our behalf.
Can’t say I know enough insider gossip from the Tory party to know what Mrs May’s fate will be. The general election wound was deep and I would question how much further the lady can progress before collapse. We all know politics is brutal but I do think perhaps it is time for a party who listens to the people and governs on our behalf not from self-interest or desire for legacy.