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The trouble with Theresa May

There’s a problem Theresa May has, which may be fatal (politically fatal, that is.) The problem is this.

She comes across as a Thatcherite to people who don’t like Thatcher. So they will never vote for her, even though she’s much closer to them politically than they realise.

But she doesn’t come across as a Thatcherite to people who do like Thatcher. She comes across as a pathetic Euro-elite wet. So they’re reluctant to support her. A lot of them voted for her grudgingly in the last election, but only because the Conservatives were supporting Brexit. They’re even less keen on her now.

Hector Drummond

29 comments to The trouble with Theresa May

  • I think they actually voted for her not so much because the Tories (kinda sorta) supported Brexit, but rather because the alternative is the utterly monstrous Jeremy Corbyn. But I do agree with the broad observation about the almost as ghastly Theresa May’s problem.

  • Eric

    Drummond’s impression gels with mine. This is a sign of a politician whose political positions are strategic instead of an expression of principle.

  • Paul Marks

    Good post – I had not thought of this, but I think it is true.

    Looking back on canvassing and so on (I do that a lot – and have since 1979) I can remember people who say that Mrs May is like Mrs Thatcher – but such people are indeed haters of Mrs Thatcher.

    No one who SUPPORTS Mrs Thatcher thinks that Mrs May has similar principles or character to Mrs Thatcher.

    So Mrs May “falls between two stools” – to people who are not “on the right” she seems “right wing” and to people who are “on the right” Mrs May most certainly does NOT appear to be a free market person, or in favour of British independence, and-so-on.

    I wish I had thought of this – not Hector Drummond thought of it. Indeed I think I will steal it from him and pretend that it was me who thought of it.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    “But Paul, aren’t you against theft?!”

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    I just realised- it’s Marksism at work!

  • Regional

    Australia like Britain has two appalling choices for Prime Minister.

  • bobby b

    Very common.

    Bush came across as a hard-core conservative to people who hate hard-core conservatives. But to people who are fond of hard-core conservatives, Bush proved to be conservative-lite.

    Obama came across as a hard-core leftist to people who hate hard-core leftists. But to people who are fond of hard-core leftists, Obama proved to be a centrist. A venal, racist centrist, but a centrist.

    Trump comes across as a hard-core conservative to people who hate hard-core conservatives. But to people who are fond . . . .

    Lather, rinse, repeat.

  • Laird

    I don’t think anyone thought of Trump as a “hard-core conservative”, but as a populist. Conservative enough in things that mattered, and otherwise an anti-politician. And especially not Hillary!

  • bobby b

    Laird, I was speaking of progressive types for whom everyone to the right of Hilary is a hard-core conservative. I guess my point was, everyone likes to think of everyone on the other side of the center as a flaming radical. Heck, they campaigned against Romney and McCain as far-rightists.

  • Mr Ed

    Mrs May “falls between two stools”

    Yes, and still manages, in the medical sense, to be one.

  • James

    But she keeps soldiering on. I think she may emerge as a solid reassuring figure and that may be seen as her strength. She has a difficult job in the circumstances and I think she may yet be admired if never loved nor seen as charismatic.

  • Admired for what? She is a Blue Blairite who shouldn’t even be in the party let alone running it & if Labour ran *anyone* who wasn’t on the far left, they’d win with a landslide. May’s *only* virtue is not being Corbyn

  • Mr Ecks

    James–PdeH’s policy on insults etc prevents me from truly expressing what I think of your comment and the general level of intelligence of someone capable of making such a comment.

    Your viewpoint suggests either a terminal level of naivete or that you are in fact one of Corbin’s gang trolling to keep the useless cow in place as she is his best hope of winning.

    If the fuck-useless BluLabour party fail to oust a vile, stupid cow whose suite of policies make the cones hotline look like wisdom if not genius then we may all live to bitterly regret their weakness and moral cowardice. She should have been out on her fat arse on June the ninth last year. Not, it seems, thinking she will lead BluLabour into their next and very likely final election fiasco.

  • >I think they actually voted for her not so much because the Tories (kinda sorta) supported Brexit, but rather because the alternative is the utterly monstrous Jeremy Corbyn.

    They defintely voted for her for that reason as well. I wanted to keep the post snappy, so I just chose one reason.

  • Michael Jennings

    May comes across as an authoritarian, big state, protectionist conservative to me, honestly. A not very bright one. Thatcher took the Conservative party in a vaguely (but not very) free market direction for a little while, but the party has now moved back more to what it was before.

  • Michael Jennings

    Australia like Britain has two appalling choices for Prime Minister.

    Neither is remotely as bad as the two choices facing the UK, in my opinion. Like most Australian politicians, there are not very ideological and are just sort of blah, on the whole, whereas Britain has an incompetent authoritarian conservative with barely the competence to blow her nose up against someone who wants to turn the country into Venezuela.

    I think they actually voted for her not so much because the Tories (kinda sorta) supported Brexit, but rather because the alternative is the utterly monstrous Jeremy Corbyn.

    I hope you are right, because if you are then they might do the same thing at the next election and we might avoid the Venezuela option. I’m not as confident as you are, alas.

  • May is a sort of anti-Boris.

    By deliberately exempting the NHS from root-and-branch reform – just as Margaret Thatcher did – the Brexitters got the extra votes to push them over the top for what should have been a turn towards sanity in the Tory party and the UK. There’s no use crying over spilt milk (and after all, Brexit was won, Corbyn is not PM) but there may be some use in learning from it. I’d welcome root-and-branch NHS reform but I’m glad of what Margaret Thatcher achieved while deliberately refraining from it – and meanwhile, as the estate agents say, it has much scope for improvements of a more moderate kind. That the trust for moderate reform be earned by fulfilling the Brexit promise, and the trust for root and branch reform be earned by first showing moderate improvements, is regrettable but may be necessary,

    In marked contrast, some in the Tory establishment, having recovered the nerve they briefly lost after June 24th 2016, are saying that Brexit was “nothing like a normal election campaign”, that it would be folly to imitate its (er, winning) strategy, that George Osborne’s absence is to be regretted, not the man himself, etc. May is all “we are funding the NHS” without linking it to any unPC issue. There are no votes in wearing a sign saying “I’m giving the NHS money – because the Corbyn and the beeb threatened me.”

    With Corbyn in charge of Labour, the Tories should have nothing to fear but themselves; alas, they do.

  • Stonyground

    Fear of Corbyn as PM was the one and only reason that I voted Conservative this time around.

    Something my 20yo daughter pointed out to me was the effect of the derision that was justifiably poured on millenials who were totally devastated over Brexit but hadn’t actually bothered to vote. It meant that when the election came up they made damn sure to register and vote this time, quite a lot of them even voted twice.

  • @Niall Kilmartin, WRT January 23, 2018 at 1:47 pm: During and prior to the Thatcher period, UK government health spending varied around the 4%/5% of GDP mark. Since 2010, it has been above 7% of GDP (a 50% increase), ramping up steeply from 2000 to 2010. See https://www.ukpublicspending.co.uk/spending_chart_1970_2020UKp_17c1li111mcn_10t

    I think this is a material difference, necessarily impacting on political opinion on government spending on health.

    Best regards

  • Jacob

    Wrong headline: “The trouble with Theresa May”
    The trouble is with Great Britain, once a proud and strong kingdom.
    If these are the two “leaders” (or candidates) is has been able to produce, it is in deep trouble and decay.
    Maybe it’s time to revoke Brexit and submit to the wise and steady leadership of Mutti Merkel.

  • Regional

    Jacob,
    Tacit Sarcasm?
    As for voting early and often. In Australia Labor fanatics read the Funeral columns and go and vote for them. One amusing story that a returning officer at a polling booth that a voter was in good health for someone who’s funeral he had just attended.

  • Pat

    The trouble with May is that she is a terribly nice woman desperate to be liked. If she has any beliefs they are less important to her than being liked. That makes her easy to manipulate.

  • Stonyground (January 23, 2018 at 3:16 pm), I recall thinking (and saying) at the time that it was unwise to mock youngsters quite so much about venting after they did not vote. But someone was bound to. One can only hope that, having noticed one absurd contradiction in their behaviour, they will someday notice others.

  • Anon

    Michael Jennings,

    “May comes across as an authoritarian, big state, protectionist conservative to me, honestly. A not very bright one. Thatcher took the Conservative party in a vaguely (but not very) free market direction for a little while, but the party has now moved back more to what it was before.”

    Agreed. There was more ‘privatisation’ of the NHS under Blair than there has been under Cameron or May. He was as likely to defend commerce and markets than the Conservatives are.

    And there are win-wins. Cutting funding to fake charities and public health doesn’t just mean money into people’s pockets and less nannying. It also destroys union and Labour supporting strongholds. That’s less money for Corbyn to fight with.

  • Eric

    Admired for what? She is a Blue Blairite who shouldn’t even be in the party let alone running it & if Labour ran *anyone* who wasn’t on the far left, they’d win with a landslide. May’s *only* virtue is not being Corbyn

    That’s a critical virtue, though.

  • Derek Buxton

    Eric, I agree up to a point, unfortunately she is not a conservative! I cannot think of one conservative principle that she has uttered. The way she approached the Brexit negotiations was so ridiculous that I doubt that we will ever get out.

  • bloke in spain

    A scant half a dozen sentences does nothing to delineate the trouble with Theresa May. A complete book would barely suffice.

  • JadedLibertarian

    For some reason I keep picturing nuns singing “How do you solve a problem like Theresa?”.

    However if the PM had been in the Sound of Music I suspect the Von Trapp family would have fared rather badly. Her incompetence would have ensured that at least a few of the children would have been lost to easily preventable accidents, or possibly chronic substance abuse. Eventually the whole family would have been sent to a concentration camp because Theresa had neither the guts to fight the Nazis nor the wisdom to run away. Instead she’d have tried to “do a deal”, and failed.

    You’d have to call it the Sound of Capitulation.

  • Paul Marks

    Michael Jennings nails it – I may also steal what he says and pass it off as my own work (Nicholas please note).

    James – even Conservative journalists (and there are some in this country – in some of the newspapers) call Mrs May, the “Maybot”, is the name they use for her (not “Prime Minister” or “Mrs May”).

    They call her the “Maybot” because of her practice of endlessly repeating things even when they have been shown not to be true.

    “One plus one is three”. No one plus one is two – look if I have one apple and I get another apple I have two apples, not three apples.

    “One plus one is three”, “One plus one is three”, “One plus one is three”, “One plus one is three”…… the Maybot.

    In Davos Switzerland the Prime Minister will be pushing the internet censorship agenda yet again – as she has done so many times since she was Home Secretary. Again it will be presented as an anti terrorism move – even though it has been shown (over and over and over again) that the internet censorship agenda has got nothing to do with countering terrorism. For example, Islam is what Muhammed taught and did – which is available in the Koran, the Hadiths and the biography of Muhammed. Mohammed, not some “misinterpretation” on the internet, is the problem. And the censorship agenda is actually more likely to hit the opponents of Islam than the supporters of Islam.

    I suspect that the general “Maybot” problem (endlessly repeating things – even after they have been repeatedly refuted) is NOT dishonesty (not at all) – I think the problem is more serious than that. And, sadly, I have no solution to the problem.

    It is a general British establishment problem – from frontal infantry attacks (in line) on the Western Front in the First World War, to the idea that one can make peace with Sinn Fein in Ulster – they (the British establishment) just cling to utter nonsense.

    Try and get a British establishment figure to admit, for example, that the reason Sinn Fein exists is to destroy the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. They (the British establishment) will not admit this obvious fact – i.e. that “talks with Sinn Fein” are utterly insane idea.

    The British establishment continue to think that some Irish dancing and some green paint (actually the historic colour of Ireland is BLUE you ignorant…..) will lead to “peace”.

    They do not understand Ulster, they do not understand Islam, they do not understand the European Union (they insist on continuing “talks” with it – as if it was not a power with HOSTILE intent) they do not understand anything – other than their pig like cunning it keeping themselves comfortable. I am not fond of the establishment.

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