When someone dies the best that can often be said of them was that they went in the night, quietly, painlessly; just closed their eyes and went to sleep. No dramas. No gut wrenching deathbed scene with family and friends sobbing and wailing. No Sean Connery style ‘Untouchables’ agonising death throes, Puccini for company. If we have a wish for our death, it is to go quietly and peacefully in our sleep.
Sadly, the political death of Theresa May is a more public, unedifying, humiliating and painful spectacle. No quiet slipping away for her; this instead is death by a thousand cuts; much of it self-induced, all of it unnecessary and with every cut comes a deeper and more sustained blow to her reputation and legacy. This week’s calamitous stewardship of the nation – her risible ‘leadership’ of this drifting, rudderless government – has brought her political death forward significantly and possibly with it the bringing down of her government and her party.
To self indulgently mix my metaphors, this week she has suffered several hammer blows to her already glass jaw; taken on too much water; and been hit for six after six. In simple terms, she has had a truly catastrophic week. She is clinging to power by her fingernails. Let’s not kid ourselves, she was already starring in her own zombie movie after the failed election earlier this year. She was already political toast. Her end was inevitable if not neigh. But she had three things in her favour.
Tory MPs didn’t want another election; general or leadership. There was no obvious replacement. And it was felt that despite her hopeless campaigning performance, she was sufficiently competent at governing to mind the shop and keep the ship of state on course, at least until the mess of Brexit was navigated and a deal was done. That has all changed. Put simply, she is no longer trusted with the caretaker job she was occupying. She has lost her reason for continuing as prime minister.
Her weakness and appalling judgment in appointing Gavin Williamson; not sacking Priti Patel or Boris Johnson; her inconsistent handling of alleged wrongdoing by Tory MPs, including her deputy; her inability to grip the Pestminster scandal; and her unwillingness to get out in front of this in political or communication terms (where is she?!) has left her exposed as someone completely unsuited to lead and completely out of her depth. One example to prove the point. Allowing Priti Patel to continue in her job was a pathetic decision – allowing her to go on an overseas trip, then publicly recalling her, allowing the media to cover it all day, including her plane landing and car arriving at Heathrow is criminal. A communications and public relations crime. She has allowed today’s event to descend into farce and made her government and her leadership a laughing stock. It would be funny, it wasn’t so tragic. It has been hard to watch, unless you are Jeremy Corbyn. In political terms, he’s had his best week ever by sitting back and watching Theresa May put one wrong foot in front of another.
What happens next will be fascinating. Will she realise the above and go quietly? Will she have one last go at a relaunch, using the spectre of Brexit, to ask for more time to see through to the end of the negotiations? Or will she try for a dramatic, go big or go home strategy in which she conducts a radical reshuffle, clears out the deadwood (of which there is a lot) and try a ‘Stars in their eyes‘rebirth as, tonight Matthew, I will be Theresa Mark II?
We will not have the wait long to find out. The undertakers have already been called. The tape measure is in hand. The church is booked. The hymns are chosen. But is there another twist in the story or are we reaching the end of this ugly snuff movie? I would put a week’s wages on the latter.
Photo taken from BBC News website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-41894534