Where it all went wrong for Theresa May

Where it all went wrong for Theresa May

VOTESBYWOMEN_V35The PM never really showed up for her campaign, says Emma Bartley. Let’s not make the same mistake as her

“Who the actual f&%* are we supposed to vote for?” was the title of the first post on this blog, the day after the election was announced. When the results came in this morning, the question was more: “Who the actual f^&% is in power?”

Perhaps there’s a line to be drawn between the two. For centrists like me – nervous of hard Brexits and hardcore Socialists – it was hard to back either of the two biggest parties. Theresa May might argue that she tried to talk to the centre… but unfortunately she forgot to show up for her own campaign.

Lots of people are talking about how Jeremy Corbyn has confounded his critics by coming in a strong second place to the Conservatives. There’s some truth in this, in that he’s energised and excited many Labour voters, and brought more young people to the polls. I like him more than I did at the start of the campaign, because he’s stood up for unpopular ideas like immigration, and his snarling, angry side seems to have gone.

Really, though, this was May’s election to lose, and everybody knows it. The great irony is that she and her team seemed to feel that by playing a defensive game, she could hold on to her huge 15-point lead from the start of the campaign. And so she’s spent the past five weeks at stage-managed events, avoiding hostile interviews and – perhaps fatally – dodging the TV debates.

Perhaps she thought that the support of the rightwing press would guarantee her victory, but in practice it turned out to be an own goal. Attacks on Corbyn allowed him to claim (like Trump before him) that he was the victim of a hostile media. Meanwhile, their overblown praise left her struggling to meet expectations – “At last, a PM who’s not afraid to be honest with you!” breathed the Mail, just a day or two before May backed away from the dementia tax in an attack of nerves.

The British don’t like being told what to do, and we don’t like being taken for granted. Just 12 months after they accused the “liberal elite” of doing both these things, Theresa May and the Tories have fallen victim to the same rebellious sentiment that is dragging us out of the EU.

Today, I expected to be winding this blog up. I started it in part to overcome my own shyness in talking about political issues, because I’d realised that in failing to challenge the surest, angriest people, I’d allowed my country to be taken over by beliefs and assumptions that I found abhorrent. I didn’t expect to rebalance the national conversation by adding more female voices, but I had to try.

What’s next for Britain? What the f^&% is going on with us? Honestly, I’m not sure anybody knows. But given that Theresa May has finally shown up to form a government, the rest of us had better stay engaged with what’s going on. Because it we’ve learnt anything from the past year of massive political upheaval, it’s that if you don’t speak up for what you believe in, you’ll be crushed.

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One thought on “Where it all went wrong for Theresa May

  1. Like you I really struggled to make a decision on who to vote for this time. I’ve always been a floating voter hovering somewhere around the ‘centre’. The choice of political parties for people who are not really left-wing but not really right-wing either was severely lacking in this election (I do live in an area though which is dominated by one party so some parties don’t bother to field candidates). I completely agree with your view on Corbyn – he mellowed throughout the campaign and became more likeable (clearly enjoying being out and about campaigning) whereas May become more evasive and seemed uncomfortable. The problem I had was that whilst I liked some of the policies of both parties, both parties also had policies I wasn’t so enamoured with. I was absolutely determined to vote – I see having the freedom to vote as a privilege and one which women fought hard for. So on Thursday I voted for a peripheral local party with a candidate from my local area, purely because they were passionate about fighting for their local area and were more ‘centre’ in their political views.

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