• A new prime minister – but does what she says match what she does?

    11th July 2016 | News | Claire
  • The announcement of May’s premiership on Monday came hours after the sensational resignation of Andrea Leadsom, following her unwise remarks to a Times journalist on motherhood. 

    Labour’s Angela Eagle, whose own leadership bid press conference also took place on Monday was somewhat eclipsed by the conservative party’s fast paced events.

    Yes we are still in the bizarre post Brexit world of political drama, where there seems to be a new major news story at least twice a day.

    While the right has now appeared to get its act together after what looked like a total schism just two weeks ago, the leftwing opposition consists of a range of small parties – and a labour party that may actually split in two.

    Although I remain deeply worried about the outcome of Brexit, I am finding its political fallout completely fascinating.

    Theresa May’s speech on Monday morning sounded to me a bit like George Osborne’s most recent budget, which included all the sorts of soundbites that no one could argue with, yet the financial detail was hugely different and was especially damaging to people on low incomes.  The budget was in my view.  A lie.

    I am wondering whether this will also be the long-term legacy of Theresa May’s Monday speech.  Within an hour or so of the announcement that she would become the next prime minister, journalists had analysed her voting record over recent years and compared it with her new labour style speech.

    Sadly, the speech didn’t stand up to comparison. On just about every aspect there was a gulf.  May had previously voted the opposite way during House of Commons debates.

    While two leadership contests have been absorbing political journalists, there is a radical sub plot afoot. Talks of a “progressive alliance ” – that is a coming together of sorts between the SNP, green party, plaid cymru and the liberal democrats, which would mean they consult each other before putting up election candidates in each constituency, to ensure that the non right vote isn’t simply fractured among them.

    So far the labour party has not signed up to such an alliance but the idea nevertheless is revolutionary and has the potential to yield very different election results in the future.

    Talk of a general election has continued to bubble away, despite Mrs May seeming to dismiss it. Direct quotes of her criticising Gordon Brown for not holding a general election after Tony Blair handed him the reins in 2008, have been circulating on Twitter. 

    It does seem to me that not only has Theresa May been selected as leader without a full leadership contest, but will lead the country at one of the most volatile times in modern history – and when almost half of the country voted to remain in the EU.

    There may well be opportunities for us post Brexit – and the PR teams are extremely good at writing inspirational speeches for politicians that will engender warm fuzzy feelings in people.

    But for us to properly trust in politicians they are going to have to do more than recite superficial-fluffy-motherhood-and-apple-type-rhetoric that appeals to everyone, but is essentially meaningless. 

    Party leaders and politicians of all persuasions will need to work hard at earning the respect of a sceptical electorate.  Turning away from acting in the narrow interests of their party, with the depressingly familiar aim of scoring cheap shots from the opposition, would be a start.  Politicians need to act truly in the country’s best interests – especially now.

    It really shouldn’t be too much to ask for our political representatives to be straightforward, trustworthy and to fully represent those who elected them.

    And for their actions and speeches to resemble each other.