May, lacking in self-awareness, pitched her election campaign to a country that no longer existsby Jay Elwes / June 9, 2017 / Leave a comment
The failure of her political project is total. The style was wrong, the substance was wrong, her personality was wrong. Everything about her was narrow, not least her political circle, which contained just two other people, both of them advisors, both of them chosen for their dog-like loyalty. Here was a Prime Minister who shunned others and tried to make a virtue of it, telling crowds that she didn’t drink in Westminster’s bars and didn’t engage in political gossip, as if it were a sign of her deep seriousness. In fact, it signalled a more off-putting truth: that she had no political friends. And what could be more unappealing than that?
These failings made her weak from the start. The policies came, and went. In the end, despite attempts to project efficiency and a tough, Tory pragmatism, she conveyed only weakness.
But her real failure went deeper than her awkward speaking style, her refusal to participate in televised debates, the gruffness of her Westminster team, her inability to work with other people, or even her unseemly rush across the Atlantic to hold hands with perhaps the only western politician more disastrous than she. No; the PM’s real failure was that she didn’t understand the country that she wanted to lead. The Britain she thought was there, wasn’t. It hasn’t been for many decades.
And it was Europe that showed this most clearly. Throughout the campaign, May urged people to vote for her, so that she might “fulfil the promise of Brexit,” a phrase that reached for biblical grandeur, but which sounded slightly deranged. A vote for her, she said, would “strengthen my hand,” in the Brexit negotiations. She disparaged the “Brussels bureaucrats,” whom she portrayed as the baying opposition, a Euro-mob intent on fighting to bring down Britain’s bold attempt to free itself from the deadening clutches of continental bureaucracy. Her language became increasingly confrontational, so that by the end of it she was offering to take Britain into something close to a diplomatic war with the EU, where, she hinted, even Britain’s intelligence and security apparatus might be used as a bargaining chip to win concessions from Brussels on immigration and trade. (Her apparent threat to withdraw security cooperation…