If Conservative parliamentarians don’t get rid of Theresa May now, we’ll all be stuck with her for at least another 12 months, and they will be punished most at the next election.
Conservative Party parliamentarians are voting on their confidence in Theresa May’s leadership. What took them so long? Why did they select her in the first place?
Whatever happens, voting on her leadership is an admission of their collective failure – these are the same people who selected her as their leader nearly two-and-a-half years. The rest of the Party, the rest of the electorate, did not get a say.
What on earth were they thinking to select her in the first place? When David Cameron resigned in June 2016, he fairly argued that he could no longer lead, having failed to persuade the electorate to vote Remain. He added that his successor should be committed to the result – to Leave the EU.
Yet the Party selected a Remainer and a close ally of Cameron – somebody who joined Cameron in aping New Labour and bashing the Conservative Party’s Thatcherite legacy. In an address to an earlier Party conference, she invented the self-sabotage that “people”call the Conservatives the “nasty party.”
Theresa May was not even a star for other reasons. Yes, she was a veteran Parliamentarian, whom Cameron appointed as Home Secretary – one of the three or four most senior positions in the government. However, she had achieved nothing of merit in any of her positions.
She was already known as a survivor, but a disreputable survivor – as somebody who survives by avoiding decisions, jumping on the consensus after the fact, chasing fashionable agendas, not sticking her neck out, sitting on the fence, procrastinating, avoiding public comment – except with repetitive prepared scripts, putting self interest before national interest, and lying and misrepresenting
As an example, consider that as Home Secretary she knowingly dishonestly claimed that people of colour were more likely to be stopped and searched by police, by which she justified ending stop-and-search powers. In fact, her own department’s data showed that whites were more likely to be stopped given ethnic propensities to be on the streets in crime-ridden districts. Crime rose through her time as Home Secretary, and into her time as Prime Minister, until her government quietly renewed stop-and-search this year.
Her mismanagement of Brexit was obvious within months of taking over as premier,when she had no idea what to do, except to keep reassuring the media that she was making sure Britain was ready before she even lodged Britain’s intent to withdraw from the EU under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. She did not lodge until March 2017.
Then more months went by without a policy. I called for May to go in December 2017, when she signed away at least £40 billion to the EU, then lied about what she had achieved. (She claimed that she was taking back Britain’s sovereignty, ending EU jurisdiction, and ending payments to the EU, even though the agreement she signed proved the opposite. Notice that her script has not changed.)
The Conservative Party’s parliamentary representatives allowed May to proceed. They enabled her. Through 2018, she responded with more secrecy, less democracy, more stupidity – through her blatantly deceptive fait accompli at Chequers in July to her revelation of her draft agreement this December.
Meanwhile,she has let the government’s other duties drift. Crime has risen exponentially,infrastructure is collapsing, the NHS keeps absorbing more money while patient safety and practitioner accountability continue to move in the wrong direction,non-EU immigration has risen, the housing shortage gets worse, productivity remains embarrassing, welfare reform has fallen flat. Her policies are late to arrive and vague – and usually derive from her own perception of whatever the liberal consensus wants.
Her government’s loss of control of other issues would seem less blameworthy if her government had got a grip of Brexit, but the government has admitted it is not ready for the end of the two years’ notice period in March 2019. Yet she is claiming that unreadiness is one of the reasons we should back her plan as the only alternative to chaos.
She did not listen to the opposition, she did not adjust. She claimed no alternative to her plan, right up to the night before Parliament was due to vote (Tuesday this week), when – after declared opposition against her plan had grown from a strong majority to a vast majority – she cancelled the vote. Then she flew off to renegotiate with the EU the same plan that she had claimed could not be renegotiated. Yet even in renegotiating, her normal spinelessness was obvious in her declared intent to see “reassurances” rather than changes – she has achieved nothing abroad but personal sympathy.
Her response today to the news that she faces a vote of no confidence from her own party is typically arrogant. She asks us to take note of her long career in politics, but performance should matter more than seniority. She asks us to put“national interest” before the instability of unseating her, but she is putting self interest first. Like Tony Blair, she declares her “passionate belief” as a substitute for all evidence and reason.
May has survived in competition with a set of useless party leaders, in an embarrassingly poor political class. If Conservative parliamentarians don’t get rid of her through a party vote of no confidence, the opposition will get rid of her through a vote of no confidence in the Commons, then the opposition will get more credit, guaranteeing the collapse of the Party at the next general election.