As Harold Wilson famously said “a week is a long time in politics”. It is only Thursday and it already feels like we’ve had a month’s worth of political movement, manoeuvrings and machinations since the week got underway. Today, we got further evidence of how tone deaf and remote Theresa May is as she made a cabinet appointment following the sudden resignation last night of Sir Michael Fallon that has caused uproar, discontent and anger in equal measure. It is clear that she really struggles when she has to relate to others; she appears to find it difficult, perhaps impossible, to read the room; to read the mood of her colleagues. Today she bombed, again.
The appointment of Gavin Williamson underlined how weak is her current position – unable to conduct a wider reshuffle – something she appeared to want to do over the summer – and unable to promote some of the rising stars on the backbenchers, in junior ministerial ranks or in leading roles on select committees. This may be a blessing for those sat in this cabinet waiting room; after all, a tacit endorsement from Theresa May may not be that welcome or indeed helpful. It is reminiscent of the joke made throughout the 1980’s and early 1990’s about the Jimmy Carter endorsement – something that no Democrat wanted to receive. How times have changed as President Carter is rightly viewed as a diplomatic giant – a true international statesman. Mrs May is viewed as a liability.
Her choice of her loyal Chief Whip and former leadership campaign manager showed an embarrassment of ambition and an inward-looking focus that exposes Mrs May as someone who biggest target now is to cling on, surrounded by as many allies as possible. Friendly faces around her political deathbed. This political week will undoubtably have more ups and downs in it; many MPs, especially ministers, will be rushing to the newsagent for the Sunday papers hoping for the best but fearing the worse. Those at risk will know who they are. I believe we will see further resignations and the Cabinet Secretary will complete his probe of two ministers – one the most important after the Prime Minister – shortly. It is hard to believe that the list of names – I have seen the full list and know from first hand experience that many of these stories have been around for years – will not get longer and more people will not come forward to pressure some more from office. Michael Fallon has set a precedent.
When writing this blog, I try to mix up the topics I cover and provide some insight into my life and my work and attempts to balance both. But this week it has been hard to write about anything but the mess in Westminster and the mess the Prime Minister is making of it. This morning she appeared on TV and Aoife said “Daddy, there’s your women, Theresa May”. I gently pointed out that she isn’t my woman and judging by the misjudgements and missteps today the day when she is no longer on TV is getting nearer and nearer. The appointment of Gavin Williamson today has speeded up her own departure. What a shambles. What a total shambles. What a week in politics and it’s only Thursday.
Photo taken from BBC News website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-41844320