Some questions ….
In the first place, why did she call an election in the first place? She had a working majority. Yes, it could have been bigger, but it was manageable. She could not have been responding to screeching public demand for a mandate because the public had been whispering, to anyone who bothered to listen, that it did not want an election, now or at any time soon. She had, in fact, told them that there would not be an election any time soon.
Second, what fools among her advisers convinced her that it would be a good idea to kick off an election campaign by withdrawing benefits? It may or may not be sound economic policy to abolish school lunches, means-test the heating allowance and strip the elderly of their home equity, but not while asking those affected for their votes. Those affected, needless to say, were by and large her core supporters.
Third, which bright spark in her tactical advice team persuaded her that she should not, need not debate the leader of the opposition face-to-face, and having done so send a substitute instead of simply not showing up? Not showing up would at least have conveyed the idea that she was being prime ministerial, rising above the fray. Sending a stand-in suggested something else. It was seen, true or not, as a sign that she was afraid.
Fourth, who told her, after the London Bridge attack, to take to the podium and say “enough is enough” without giving her any semblance of a plan of action to back it up? This was not a shout, it was an echo. If the slogan made for a headline-catching sound-bite, what followed, or did not follow, was a blank news column. We had all had enough. What we wanted to know was what she was going to do about it. Nothing, seemed to be the message.
Fifth, when was the decision made, and by whom, to sell the leader, not the party and stick to a single theme, Brexit? Labour campaigned the old-fashioned way: as Labour. Corbyn was its most visible asset but he spoke of the party rather than of himself, and hardly mentioned Brexit. Most voters have no idea where he stands on the issue. The Conservatives campaigned as if the party, and issues other than Brexit, might be electoral liabilities that could be overcome by only peddling the image of the leader, ‘strong and stable’, ready to scatter those interfering Eurocrats like so much chaff in the wind. Guess which leader now looks strong and stable, and which weak and wobbly?
Sixth … but is there any point in listing any more?
The Tories managed to convert a lead in the opinion polls, whether you care to believe them or not, of twenty-something to a dead heat, in a matter of weeks. (The polls got this election exactly right, by the way, so shut up at the back.) Theresa May has gone from Wonder Woman to Lame Duck – and we all know what happens to lame ducks.
She will form a government, but it will be assured of a majority only with the help of a party of Irish Protestants of unsavoury repute and unknown aims other than seeing off the Papists. My guess is that she will be gone within a year or so, no more than two. Boris Johnson, the Mississippi riverboat gambler of British politics will see to that – unless he self-destructs in the attempt, always in prospect.
Meanwhile, Britain will soon stumble rather than stride into the Brussels negotiating chamber, pretending to ignore the stifled chuckles from across the table.
There is, in this kitchen of muddle and confusion, just one crumb of comfort to be seen. The Scottish Nationalists were brought down to the peaty earth with a bump by the same party which, south of the border, was itself being similarly humiliated. Funny old game this politics.
The Scottish Tories are led by a feisty, gay, giggling bundle of energy with little political experience called Ruth Davidson. Her English colleagues would do well to lure this wayward child into the cabinet room, perhaps to the seat now precariously occupied by Mother Theresa.
More anon ….