Alex Holland comments on how Theresa May’s election campaign alienated voters and ruined her chances of leading a ‘strong and stable’ government.
Theresa May’s election gamble didn’t exactly pay off. She’s now at real risk of being consigned to the political wilderness. It’s there that she’ll encounter Hillary Clinton, who ran a similarly awful campaign last year. It was as if May had chosen to replicate Clinton’s approach without ever checking to see if it worked. Both candidates spent their campaigns displaying eerie and synthetic qualities that alienated those voters intent on being led by a human.
But May’s robotic qualities are just too conspicuous, at times making her sound like a social media spam bot. Her response to a BBC Radio Derby interviewer wouldn’t even pass the Turing test:
Radio interviewer: Do you know what a mugwump is?
Theresa May: What I recognise is that what we need in this country is strong and stable leadership.
Corbyn and allies were characterised as weak on national security and big on terrorist sympathy.
Such an exchange could prompt Russian agents to forego the electronic voting booths and hack Theresa May directly. But robot or not, these staggeringly awkward moments are damaging for a PM purporting to be a strong (and stable) Brexit negotiator.
Clearly without the charismatic front that makes most politicians, May instead focused on the opposition. Corbyn and allies were characterised as weak on national security and big on terrorist sympathy. The attack might have hit harder had May not been soliciting billion pound arms sales to Saudi Arabia, but selling bombs to despots is presumably part of her ‘strong and stable’ warlady persona.
It reads like a Clintonesque gaffe. Hillary Clinton profited big from making speeches to nefarious Wall Street firms, enabling her opposition to label her a creature of the establishment. Theresa May sold bombs to a terror state, enabling her ‘terrorist sympathising’ opponents to label her a hypocrite. Neither Clinton nor May, despite undeniable experience, avoided such obvious missteps. It’s telling of their arrogance and incompetence.
More arrogance can be found in May’s reaction to three terror attacks in as many months. The worry, aired over and over, was police cuts. Theresa May ostensibly refused to acknowledge the issue, instead promising to “rip up human rights laws” – an authoritarian line destined for a future BuzzFeed article entitled “Who Said It: Theresa May or Emperor Palpatine?” Even the least discerning member of the public might wonder what relevance a law has when there are too few police to enforce it. May did not answer.
Clinton spent months offering non-apologies for her private email server and the classified information it held. Her dubious explanations exacerbated views about her untrustworthiness and a proper apology arrived too late for any significant recovery. May’s apology, or any convincing explanation for police cuts, is still missing.
It’s time she stopped blaming others and resigned.
Where May responded correctly to one of her campaign’s big issues, she did not even admit to doing so. There was a U-turn on the deeply unpopular Dementia Tax, but May denied it had occurred (with all the persuasion of a drunkard contesting a DUI stop). Voters don’t like politicians who lie, especially those who can’t even be bothered to do so convincingly.
The Dementia Tax also betrayed the real intentions of May’s government, the one that will be hunting the last remnants of humanity in a ruinous future dystopia, as cruel. It undermined the ongoing PR campaign to depict the ‘nasty party’ as finished and the new Conservatives as decent Middle England folk.
So it shouldn’t be surprising that an establishment drone like May, whose lies and hypocrisy are too obvious even for the electorate, suffered such a bruising campaign. In her current state it’s doubtful she’ll survive another. Likely the only reason she hasn’t already been ousted is because Tory political operators are dreading the possibility that her best replacement is Boris Johnson, a totally unserious scarecrow man who will never meet a person he won’t offend.
But whoever May’s replacement might be, she is the one who destroyed the mandate her government once had with a single breathtakingly bad campaign. It’s time she stopped blaming others (in typical Clinton style) and resigned.
Comment pieces are the view of the author and in no way reflect the views of Forge Press.
Image credit: Surrey County Council News.