When Theresa May won the leadership election for the Conservative Party, she promised to bring ‘strong and stable’ leadership to the country. She promised to fight for the ‘just about managing’ families of Britain. She promised a great deal, and for the first few months it worked.
Compared to the stumbling Jeremy Corbyn, May came across as calm, confident and experienced. She had served for six years as Home Secretary and she had done her best to contribute to Britain’s recovery after the economic recession of 2008. Additionally, though she might not have been the most eager for Brexit, she soon threw herself into ensuring that Britain got the best deal possible from Europe. She ensured that her cabinet was filled with those who supported Brexit, as well as those who wanted to chart a middle-ground.
Theresa May appeared to be working in the interests of the British people, and her twenty-point lead over Jeremy Corbyn in April 2017 seemed to reflect the view of the British people that she was indeed doing a good job. She then called a general election, and many predicted a landslide for the Conservatives in the face of a hopeless Labour party, riven by internal division, a non-existent Liberal Democrat party, and the decimation of UKIP.
What has since transpired has been something few would have expected in April.
Theresa May prides herself on being forthright, having come from a humble background and supposedly espousing ‘traditional British values.’ She prides herself on her morals and being willing to fight for what she believes is right for Britain. Her catch phrase is meant to reflect that. Yet many came to believe that is a lie, and that her underlying problems would be her undoing.
But what exactly were these problems?
Firstly, in light of the recent attacks in London and Manchester, cuts to the police service have become an ever more pressing issue. Before the general election, there were murmurs that the cuts being implemented by the Conservative government to the police force were alarming and would have severe consequences, but they were just murmurs, nothing more. It is only after attacks in London and Manchester, and the revelations that those responsible for the attacks were known to the police, but that the police could do nothing about them, made the police cuts a serious issue.
In fact a quick look at the figures as stated by the government shows that from March 2010 to March, 2016, police numbers fell from 143,734 to 124,066 and during the same time period the number of armed officers fell from 6,653 to 5,639. As Home Secretary, Theresa May defended such cuts stating that the system needed reform, and that reducing the number of policemen would save costs. Jeremy Corbyn had vigorously criticised Theresa May for these cuts stating that ‘You cannot protect the public on the cheap. The police and security services must get the resources they need not 20,000 police cuts’.
However, as is seemingly common with Theresa May, she had deflected this criticism, not with solid argument, but with what increasingly appeared to be desperation. In a speech on Monday she said: “The commissioner of the Metropolitan Police has said that the Met is well-resourced, and they are, and that they have very powerful counterterrorism capabilities, and they do. We have protected counterterrorism policing budgets.”
Theresa May’s record was not just shady on policing. On immigration, May promised to live up to a Conservative pledge in the 2010 and 2015 election campaigns to reduce immigration down to 100,000. In 2014, had increased from 244,000 to 330,000 an increase rather than a decrease.
Theresa May appeared confident at first. She talked about her record, which isn’t that impressive, and she could deride Jeremy Corbyn. But, when one looks at it, her record is somewhat shocking – promises were consistently made and broken. Her approach to handling criticism smacked of a autocrat, and she lacked the ability to handle pressurising situations. Theresa May is a woman of many faces, many of them unpleasant.