Theresa May has announced her departure – with a few tears. The worst prime minister since the Second World War? Possibly. The worst prime minister in British history? Possibly. Thousands are queuing to cast their stones and heap hot coals. The vultures are circling, waiting to feed on the corpse. There was so much promise, and so much possibility. She tried her hardest; she did her duty; she fulfilled her vocation. But ultimately decency and fortitude are insufficient when a nation is in crisis and in desperate need of political acumen, vision and leadership gravitas.
Theresa May was…
Well, doubtless the chat thread beneath will fill the gaps of derision and overflow with ‘good riddance’. But let’s not forget that fortitude and decency are worthy characteristics to manifest to a generation which can scarcely endure an X-Factor ejection, and where honesty, modesty, civility and truth are captive to the first-person singular. Theresa May was imbued with a sense of altruistic service and devotion to the country she loved. Disagree with her politics and judgment, by all means, but please don’t cavil with her moral mission, which she pursued with dedication, self-sacrifice and immense dignity, as Christian leaders ought.
In her departing speech she paid tribute to one of her constituents:
For many years the great humanitarian Sir Nicholas Winton – who saved the lives of hundreds of children by arranging their evacuation from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia through the Kindertransport – was my constituent in Maidenhead. At another time of political controversy, a few years before his death, he took me to one side at a local event and gave me a piece of advice. He said, ‘Never forget that compromise is not a dirty word. Life depends on compromise.’ He was right.
Of course, there are contexts and circumstances, settings and arguments where compromise is indeed a dirty word, even when life depends upon it. Perhaps she made compromise into a creed: perhaps the interminable pursuit of Brexit consensus paralysed her passion for…
Politics is a thankless, barren, filthy game – especially at the top. It is also a profoundly lonely pursuit, for even when politicians are doing their best to heal the sick and house the homeless, the bile pours forth and the bitterness is ineluctable. All political careers seem to end in failure, and the one that is now ending is not likely to mythologised by the passage of time. Her personal sense of failure is palpable.
‘To every thing there is a season.. a time to keep silence, and a time to speak..‘
Might we just thank Theresa May today for her service, compassion, dignity and fortitude? Might we just take a moment to weep with someone who weeps, and instead of sneering or rejoicing, perhaps weigh our own petty lives against someone who – for good or ill – fought against considerable adversity and rose above personal tragedy to become the second female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom?