In the twenty years since I joined the Conservative Party (and I am only thirty-six now, so imagine how insufferable that was), I have only expressed outright disapprobation with the direction of the party once – when Iain Duncan Smith was leader, after his ‘never underestimate the resolve of a quiet man’ speech, I despaired for the party I had joined. We were no closer to power than under Hague, and Hague had been a damn sight more electable than the man who one can have imagined Googling ‘what would a leader do?’. I digress.
Today, as the Conservative Party splits up on its way home to constituencies and prepares for the return to Westminster in a short while, I must admit that I am wavering in my support for the leadership.
Amber Rudd’s speech was light on things to cheer for, and heavy on things for the left to categorise as ‘nasty’. She’s already rolling back on some of the most serious bum notes, but it’s fairly clear that nobody with any common sense had an opportunity to listen to it in full and determine what the biog picture message from it was. That’s a pity, because ceding law and order as our area of competence is a silly rookie error.
Philip Hammond scared the markets with the roller-coaster analogy. I don’t believe Philip Hammond has ever been on a roller-coaster, so I don’t know who wrote the speech.
My concern now is that Theresa May has sought to utterly change the direction of the party – from a liberal, non-state-interventionist party to a state-knows-best party. Ronald Reagan had it right when he said the most dangerous nine words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help’. The state is the thumb pressing down the enterprise of the people – this interventionism is bad and dangerous.
I was a remainer for the express purpose of keeping David Cameron on as PM – but that ship has sailed, and we have the leader we have.
I want Theresa May to be brilliant – and I believe she can and will be, once she stops the inevitable new-leader process of throwing red meat to party animals. On some basic level, the party is now out of control and is testing the boundaries of the mandate given to it by the people in the General Election.
I therefore believe the argument for a new General Election is becoming insurmountable – and it should happen before Brexit, to give a solid, clear mandate to the government on the way it proposes to take the nation forward.