Mrs May will be in office but not in power

Those of us who didn't see this coming need to show some humility

June 09, 2017 10:03

Before anything else, those of us who didn’t see this coming, and thought Jeremy Corbyn’s hard left views made him – and Labour – politically toxic need to eat some humble pie and show some humility.

I tweeted last night that I didn’t understand how my fellow countrymen and women could vote in such huge numbers for the likes of Corbyn, McDonnell and Abbott: and I don’t.

But clearly there are a number of factors that do help explain what happened, even if on the fundamental point, I make no excuses for getting it so wrong. No matter how much one tries to rationalise it – and I’ve been up all night doing just that – I am, I must admit, simply horrified that so many people voted for them.

As, I should say, are some of my Labour friends, who feel completely at sea now. They know now they can’t win inside Labour – Corbyn has every right to stay and his allies are now in firm and, surely, permanent charge of Labour -  but they can’t leave either, since Labour won 40 per cent of the vote. Corbyn’s relative success means there is now no space for a new progressive party.

That said, this remains a deeply confusing election. The Tories actually gained two million more votes than in 2015 – a pretty big achievement after 7 years in government.

“So what?” one might ask – because there is no escaping that this is a catastrophe for Mrs May and the Tories.

And, frankly, she deserves it. It’s not just with the benefit of hindsight that one observes that this was a truly abysmal Tory campaign. Yesterday I wrote here:

"The Tory campaign was, to be blunt, rubbish…there was no clear theme, and a real sense of purposelessness from the Tories. Mrs May clearly thought that not being Jeremy Corbyn was enough...I would stake my mortgage that she will not lead the Tories into another election."

Now she might not even lead the Tories into the weekend. 

Mrs May gambled the country's future on boosting her own position - and voters told her what they thought of that.

The question posed in 1974 by Heath was: Who governs Britain? Although Mrs May asked a different question, voters gave her exactly the same answer that they gave to Heath: Not you.

In truth, she was a very average Home Secretary with a poor track record on tackling Islamist radicalisation - supposedly her strong point.

I have to admit that I did think voters might appreciate her sober – robotic, one might say – personality, but clearly that was wrong and voters had other ideas.

What we know now is that she offers precisely nothing as a leader, either to the Tories or the country. It seems as though she will be hanging on as leader, but be clear why: because the timing of the Brexit talks means senior Tories don’t think it wise to plunge the party into another leadership election – for the moment. They do want stability (no, that’s not meant as a joke).

Make no mistake though: as Norman Lamont said of John Major, Mrs May will be in office not in power.


June 09, 2017 10:03

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