5 October 2017

Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

May's Tory Conference Speech Her Next to Last as PM

It's early autumn in Britain, which means it's party conference time. This week, the Tories met in Manchester, and yesterday's speech by Prime Minister Theresa May was a nightmare. The PM developed a nasty cough she couldn't shake, a letter or two fell off the slogan behind her, and a prankster handed her an unemployment form. Her party rallied behind her for playing through such a rough patch, but one wonders whether they will continue to do so. The only reason she has the job is that no one else wants it right now.

The right-leaning Times stated hers was the "most shambolic conference speech in memory." The paper claimed she was on "final warning" and that a number of MPs believe that she is "one crisis from the exit."

The Telegraph, which sits to the right of the Times was also not in a mood to celebrate. While agreeing that she had a "triple dose of bad luck," the paper called the speech "disastrous." According to the Tory-friendly paper, her time at Number 10 is "hanging in the balance." One of the paper's reporters tweeted, "Luckless May centre stage in tragic farce."

Back in the political center, the digital Independent stated the speech "laid to waste hopes it would rejuvenate her embattled leadership." It was "chaos". Their sketch writer, Tom Peck, wrote, "It was when the set started falling apart that the prime minister realised everything was going to be all right. 'I'll just glance down at myself now, see that I'm fully naked, then all my teeth will fall out and I'll wake up and start getting ready for that speech that I've got to give to save my career'." Moving to the left, the Guardian said "Coughing and spluttering -- May's British dream turns into a nightmare." The "most personal speech of her tenure" backfired and m"ishaps raise fresh concerns among party critics."

Down market, the Sun reported quite rightly, "Theresa May suffered a Tory conference nightmare yesterday when her speech was hit by a string of disasters. The PM's keynote address was meant to set out her vision for the nation. But it turned into a shambles ...."

The trouble for the Tories and for Britain is that the PM is clearly snake-bit, and there is nothing she can do at this point to salvage her job. If there were a Conservative majority, the knives would already have been out. If Brexit were not looming just a year and a half away, the same would be true. But she leads a minority government engaged in undoing the wisest foreign policy decision Britain made since 1939. None of her likely rivals wants to preside over that.

The time table is clear. Brexit will happen at the end of March 2019. For all of the ratifications needed, negotiations will have to be completed around November 2018, just over a year from now. So she will still be at Number 10 until November next year, and possibly through March 2019. However, as the economic folly of Brexit begins to bite ever harder, as the country loses out, demand for new leadership will become overwhelming. It is easy to see an election fought just before Brexit on the terms of any deal.

The outcome of that election is easy to predict to a degree. Theresa May won't win it. Her brand is doomed. The Conservatives don't have to lose that election, but to win, they will need a new leader. Someone (Boris Johnson most likely) will make the move when the negotiations are over. The only question that remains is whether the backbenchers think they can win under a new leader. If they think they are going to lose no matter what, they will prefer to lose with Ms. May in charge -- so she can take the blame.

She has a year to practice her farewell speech.

© Copyright 2017 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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