After the summer recess, British Politics is back in action, and the beginning has been damming for The Conservatives. Firstly Theresa May decided that her 59th U-turn since she said she was not going to call an election was going to be on the so called ‘Red Tory’ idea of putting workers on company boards. This policy was actually one of the only good things to come out of the objectively terrible Conservative manifesto. The Tories also are in bother over Brexit, with Brussels officials believing that David Davis Brexit team are so disorganised that is must be a “cunning plan” to confuse everyone, like they expect a Game of Thrones style plot twist or something. This has been something even as fanatically Pro-Brexit as the Daily Express has found hard not to mock Davis for. To add to this, with the completely logical and overdue statement that Labour intends to stays in the single market on Sunday, The Conservatives are now arguably more anti-business than a party which up until the General Election was being mocked for being too left-wing. This made the announcement that Theresa May, who has really been seen since the 8th of June as a Prime Minister in name only, intends to stay in office post 2022.
As seemingly ridiculous as this currently seems, notwithstanding the fact that we currently wake up each morning genuinely surprised the world hasn’t fallen to nuclear war, lets assess her chances of surviving as Prime Minister that long.
To start with the inner state of the Conservative Party, this length of Premiership looks unlikely to say the least. Most Conservative MPs from the understanding of most political commentators see Theresa May staying on as leader as the Conservative Party going into the next General Election as detrimental for their own parties causes. I wrote back in May that this Conservative government would tear itself apart over May’s stubbornness to leave and Brexit within its first 18 months, and although no clear challenge from the left or the right of the party has yet formed its definitely bubbling beneath the surface. Within her own party membership, May is the 2nd least popular member of cabinet. There seems already to be desperation from some of the right of the Conservative Party to somehow revitalise the ideas of Conservatism from a grassroots level, with one MP from my own county of Norfolk getting so seemingly jealous of Jeremy Corbyn’s speech at Glastonbury – that he wants to set up a Tory Glastonbury, where you imagine 200 Tories embarrassingly chanting “ohhh David Davis” while the only acts playing will be cover bands. This MP also has said the invites will be limited to the hundreds – probably to because they realised anything quadruple figures would not have sold out. Along the same lines of Labour envy, earlier this week the Conservative HQ themselves attempted to launch a grassroots campaign called “Activate”, which is predictably a very lazy version to copy Momentum while missing the point of what a “grassroot” campaign is. Things have got so desperate in The Conservative Party that many are turning to Jacob Rees-Mogg, who, even in the age where Trump is President and where ‘Galway Girl’ is considered an acceptable song to play full stop, is a man I can’t take seriously.
This retreat to the heartland of conservatism – in essence, the resistance to change, can be explained by the actions of May’s government lowering the amount of areas the Conservatives are seen in a good light compared to the other parties. Since the Thatcher days – and particularly under Cameron, the Conservative Party, seeing at the time that traditional conservatism no longer translated into power, made themselves into comfortably the most pro-business party. In this current state of affairs, they are everything but. Now that Labour have backed staying in the Single Market, even with the rises in corporate tax and the like, Labour are now in the long term more beneficial to most UK businesses and jobs than the Conservatives. Since the days of Disraeli, Conservatives of the day have realised that to stay in power, and to follow out their aims of managing and slowing change, that they have to react and to combat change as it evolves. Disraeli for example, realised that there was no point fighting changes to enfranchisement, and instead put enfranchisement into his agenda, who saw keeping the masses on side as vital to his parties survival. More recently, Cameron’s shift on Green policy and LBGT rights can be seen as other examples of Conservatives adapting to the circumstances of the day. What this has successfully done for generations is give the Conservatives enough reasonable credentials to build upon the 15% or so of the population who believed deeply in conservatism (as well as people who don’t pay enough attention) to help win elections. As stated earlier on, the May governments actions would upset both big business and workers, which would suggest that even if May was to limp on until 2022, she would most likely lose that election.
So far then, we have Theresa’s own party who look like they won’t let her stay on until 2022, and the loss of the coalition of voting blocks from the Conservatives looks like even if she did make It to 2022, she wouldn’t win the election. However, early data may hold out a bit of help to Theresa. Firstly, since going 7 points behind Labour in the opinion poll in the week following the General Election, the Conservatives have recovered itself to be at 42 points on almost every pollster. Ok pollsters aren’t currently seen as reliable, but curiously the Conservative voting intention has stayed as the highest proportion since 2015, and in that whole time the government has been rather dysfunctional.
Without risking friendships again – one reason why things are still close is probably down to blunders by the official opposition. Since the jubilation of the election, Labour have gone through an inner debate on the single market which led to 3 damaging cabinet sackings, a further registration over the mishandling of the Rotherham sexual exploitation scandal, ridiculous policy ideas such as “women only trains” and infighting within the Labour movement is still ripe.
So would this be enough for Theresa May to stay in power past 2022. I would suggest not. The reason for this is Brexit. May and her teams strategy in Brexit continues the way it is than Brexit happens the impact Britain will be catastrophic. This I believe would finish Theresa’s Premiership off by 2019. If Theresa was to adopt a “Soft-Brexit” approach before the negotiations are over, she will also be gone as she will be attacked by the right of her party and brexiteers who would see it as a betrayal, while opponents would label it as another U-turn and she will be seen as too weak to carry on.