SUCCESSFUL politicians require policies that command public backing and gain popular traction through a credible campaign, but they also need a large slice of luck and Theresa May’s has run out.
No-one could have foreseen that the Tories’ expensive private security firm would fail so abysmally, allowing prankster Simon Brodkin to approach her at the podium with a P45 “from Boris Johnson.”
Nor that her nervousness over a make-or-break speech to Tory conference after her disastrous snap general election decision would spark a succession of coughing fits that put her capacity to complete it in doubt.
The Prime Minister confected a “British Dream” concept — doubtless inspired by its mythical US original — but her speech was more a nightmare.
May’s standing brief was to apologise for calling the election and running a car-crash campaign before drawing a line under all that and rallying the troops by demolishing Labour’s pretensions and offering a vision designed to enthuse Tory grassroots.
Instead she opted, in the “That’s what I’m in this for” segment of her speech, to relate a self-delusional history of Paul Nuttallian proportions, claiming credit for others’ achievements.
She expressed pride in “knowing that I made a difference, that I helped those who couldn’t be heard,” citing the Hillsborough 96, the child sex abuse scandals, racist stop-and-search policies, Grenfell Tower and disproportionate levels of mental illness among black and minority ethnic populations.
When did the Prime Minister, either as Home Secretary or previously as an opposition MP, throw herself into any of these campaigns?
While she avoided meeting the Grenfell survivors, Jeremy Corbyn visited without security personnel, spoke to them, comforted them and, most importantly, listened to them.
After campaigns and court decisions have left her government little alternative but to respond belatedly, it is obscene for May to portray enforced reaction as representing the fruits of her political groundwork.
She again passed off George Osborne’s “national living wage” as a Tory initiative to give “a pay rise to the lowest earners” when it borrowed from the 1997 Labour government’s minimum wage legislation and is inferior to the level advocated by the Living Wage Foundation.
May had the gall to smear Corbyn with “anti-semitism, misogyny and hatred” and urged the British and EU negotiating teams to reach agreement quickly on confirming the right of EU citizens to remain in Britain with full rights.
Yet she rejects Corbyn’s stance, voiced immediately post-referendum, to declare a unilateral commitment in the expectation that this would be reciprocated.
May’s supposedly “big ideas” to remake the political landscape turned out to be the reheated price cap on energy prices and £2 billion for a “new generation of council houses.”
When Ed Miliband proposed an energy price cap, he was pilloried for his “Marxist” approach. We won’t know the extent of the May government’s Marxism until its draft Bill is published next week.
But we can translate into concrete terms the extent of its commitment to ending the scourge of homelessness and the financial suffering endured by low and medium-earners at the hands of the grasping private rented sector.
At £2bn it’s just double the bung handed to the DUP for its parliamentary votes and merely one-fifth the sum set aside for Help to Buy to assist property speculators by propping up inflated house prices.
May’s promises are empty, her government is directionless and it’s time they all got their P45s.