Pride goes before a fall, and crap manifestos go before a democratic drubbing. Honestly, how did the Brexit election get hijacked by a dementia tax? Why mention the restoration of fox hunting? What was all that ‘Team May’ and ‘Theresa’s local candidates’ about? How could the most important issue facing the United Kingdom in a generation become such a peripheral issue during the campaign? Why churn out anodyne slogans when the people wanted an injection of hope and an infusion of understanding? What is stable about a manifesto policy U-turn during a campaign? What is strong about the constant denials that anything had changed at all? How can the Conservative Party expect the whole country to move forward together when millions of people still smell a whiff of nastiness?
Even if the manifesto wasn’t nasty, people still thought it was, or felt it was, or somehow sensed it was. And Theresa May never seemed to possess the natural warmth and emotional intelligence to charm the crowds and change minds. She might exude a homely dependability on ‘The One Show’, but there was a feeling she lacked authenticity, and it isn’t so easy to fool many of the people anymore, and certainly not all the time. They now seem to prefer politicians who can’t add up, befriend terrorists, advocate the defeat of the state and worship Karl Marx.
Why was this manifesto written by a clique? How come senior ministers weren’t aware of its contents? Where was the compassion? Where was any support for the family? What about the ‘Just About Managing’ who were promised half a teaspoon of jam deferred until a tomorrow that never seems to come? What about society, charity, humanity and generosity? Where was the optimism, expectation and encouragement? A dose of kindness? A bit of cheer? A glimpse of the promised land?
When an election campaign is invaded by terrorist bombs and machetes, you don’t harp on about the imperative to cut police numbers because of austerity. When you’re asked about cuts to the number of armed officers, you don’t duck and dive and leave all the plain-speaking to your political opponents, however disingenuous they might be. How… How have erstwhile supporters of the IRA triumphed over the party of law and order, national security and the armed services? Is our collective national memory really so short that the man who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with those who murdered Lord Mountbatten and tried to wipe out Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet came within a whisker of the keys to No.10?
With no majority in the House of Commons, the ‘Great Repeal Bill’ fades away and grammar schools whither. With no majority, it’s hard to see how Brexit will now mean Brexit (that is, out of the single market and customs union; free of the European Court of Justice; the end of free movement; out of the CAP and the CFP; and the restoration of parliamentary supremacy). You don’t boast about being a ‘bloody difficult woman’ if those bloody difficulties lead to greater division and more instability. With Brexit in jeopardy and the clamour for ‘soft Brexit’ growing, it is difficult at this stage to see where the necessary leadership will come from.
Theresa May’s gamble has backfired; she has failed. If she manages to survive without an internal leadership challenge, she may face a vote of no confidence in Parliament, which would precipitate another general election. That might just put Jeremy Corbyn into No.10.
Would someone please call the nation to prayer?