GeneralTheresa May: Less Thatcher, More Major

Theresa May: Less Thatcher, More Major


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Theresa May’s resignation speech was teary-eyed and emotional. She showed the country and the world she really loved this country and swept aside media attempts to paint her as this apathetic robot. The trouble is, it’s a case of too little too late.

From her tenure as Home Secretary to her time as Prime Minister, she’s proven time and time again she is ideologically thin. She has never truly taken charge of a situation as a conviction politician like Margaret Thatcher would have done. Great leaders need to be able to hold two diametrically opposed ideas in their head. Even with Brexit she couldn’t handle the process. Imagine an NHS scandal on top of the negotiations and leadership challenges, she would have faltered sooner. May is and will always be a rule taker, capable of doing a simple, clear job; rather than a leader offering critical insight into political affairs. She artfully managed expectations and in doing so survived long enough to make it to the top.

Theresa May served as Home Secretary from 2010 until 2016 before becoming UK’s Prime Minister

The passion that showed at the end contradicted much of her career. She had followed instruction of advisers like Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill that led her to near political suicide decisions in triggering A50 immediately without an adequate roadmap and then the snap-election that cost her the Conservative majority in government. Had she interpreted Thatcher’s Iron Lady more accurately, she would have found that it meant sticking by your convictions and seeing them through. It’s simply too hard to keep ploughing on with something you don’t believe in; you’re bound to burn out at some stage or other. And here we are, without her having any support rallied and not having garnered any real sympathy either.

May’s problem was being handed an impossible task that no one wants. She bet on the assumption that, while she would be criticised, no one had a suitable alternative vision and so risk taking the impossible task off her hands.

Had she been able to carry the UK through this Brexit quagmire without destroying the fabric of a modern multicultural Britain, she would have been a hero for generations.

Sadly, she has achieved little to date. Brexit sideliners in her party are resilient as ever, while her three proposals have been rejected repeatedly without coming close to consensus. Ultimately because of the Irish backstop.

In order to hang onto power in the wake of the “snap election”, she had to make bedfellows with the right-wing DUP in Northern Ireland.

Her leadership has been mired by decision constipation from a dithering control freak. Besides the botched general election, May triggered the two-year time frame (Article 50) before she and her cabinet had settled on their roadmap and negotiation demands in the split from the EU. After all, her political spin-doctors told her “Brexit means Brexit”. What a cracker that was.

Despite the Cabinet agreeing the Chequers Agreement, it unravelled in days. Were Corbyn a more suitable Leader of the Opposition or had there been a more suitable replacement in her Cabinet who wouldn’t do a worse hash of the process; either would have succeeded her by now. Having said this, one can have no doubt, she has been resilient until the bitter end.

Brexit is, and remains, a shambles of poor planning, terrible appointments and crass negotiations. David Cameron wins the booby prize for ineptitude hands down, but Theresa May has compounded the issue and made matters worse.

May as Home Secretary

Her poor judgment was exemplified by her calling a leaving date too soon. This shouldn’t have been too surprising coming from her poor track record as Home Secretary. Misjudgements which the UK still languishes from.

Beside the incompetency in creating a culture where British citizens were deported from here “by mistake” that should have resulted in an inquiry finding prosecutions for officials, her obstinacy led her to trigger A50 without any plan on what to do.

She has continued to promote and reward failure. Brexit has been framed in the most detrimental way possible without any rational reason, besides preserving the Conservative Party against the Corbyn alternative. This means to say she has put party before country. There is no doubt that she loves this country, but ever since following the terrible guidance from her advisers Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, on top of stickability issues in her tenure as Home Secretary; it became patently clear she was not singing to her own tune.

In the meantime, Local Authorities continued to run precipitously low on funding because of continued cutbacks. The Criminal Justice system is a train wreck with one system for those who can pay and another for the rest. Probation Services have been hacked to pieces and privatised in a bidding war that did not account for minimum standards for rehabilitation. Prison services are failing due to underfunding. Police forces are stretched thin and unable to follow up on all but the most severe offences, and worse still, the gangs and serial offenders know this. The education system foists catchment area dilemmas on parents, with the poorest getting the worst deal out of the state education system. May’s solution was selective state funded Grammar Schools for those who wanted selective entrance without paying private school fees. This came at the expense of families unable to afford homes within these catchments, leaving their children in amongst the other lower-achieving all-access schools, perpetuating academic inequality. We have a housing crisis where millennials can’t get onto the property ladder without significant help from the older generations, courtesy of strict planning laws and lack of affordable, quality housing stock. The “free at the point of consumption” health services are paraded around, but more health services are cherry-picked by private enterprises, leaving the government and taxpayer picking up the tab for the less profitable and thereby more costly condition treatments. Rail companies are owned by private companies and operating on a Victorian state-owned rail network. The nuclear power stations approved are expensive for a country with such renewable potential and fully owned by French and Chinese state companies.

Years of Brexit negotiations and idling has left the country in a completely different state to the highly successful 2014-15 under Cameron and Osborne.

While as PM, Theresa May, has allowed David Davis and Boris Johnson opportunities to prove they could viably solve the crisis. They both failed abysmally and forced a general acceptance that a “hard” Brexit is unacceptable. Only a sensible, measured compromise can work.

As things stand, the deal will not be in the UK’s favour. It likely never would have been. However, it may well be better than the Boris & Co’s overly optimistic outlooks. It doesn’t now appear history will look favourably upon May.

She was never a long-term solution, as we should not forget. It was only a matter of time before she did go, it’s just a shame on her part she could not see through any working consensus to carry forwards for her successors. Her credibility may have carried her through had it not been tarnished by the Irish backstop, and the progressive resignations leading to an impending back-bench cabinet revolt over unsatisfactory compromise and delays. But that was the fault of her Conservative party supporters that voted her to the leadership. Had they had more of an appreciation for her track record, rather than get distracted by the bitter squabbling of the Brexiteers; they would have known she wasn’t cut out for the job.

Richard Bolton
Richard Bolton
Richard Bolton was born in the UK and is a Manchester University PPE graduate. He is a financial planner. Areas of intrigue include global political affairs, culture and nascent technologies. In his spare time, Richard is a keen sportsman and investor.

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