Theresa May was the last person to leave the party. Kept saying she was off, edging towards the door, then having just one more glass of wine. We wanted to tidy up, go to bed, but couldn’t get rid of her. Finally, she’s called her cab and is off.
Despite everything, it’s hard not to admire her, in the way you admire a boxer lasting through two more rounds despite having his eye hanging out of the socket and all his teeth on the floor. He still lost, but wow he put up a fight!
Like many people, I found it hard not to feel sorry for her at a human level. I guess for me it was partly her very sweet looking husband. I wouldn’t be happy if everyone was bitching about my wife, trying to screw her over, and mocking her in public. So maybe I felt more sorry for him. They’re a nice couple. I like to imagine them enjoying their hill walking holidays. And from that perspective, I felt sorry for her.
But a year ago when I wrote about feeling sorry for Theresa May, I said that she never had my vote, but now she also didn’t have my sympathy. That was after remembering how sinister she had been as Home Secretary, and the Windrush scandal. Her own attempt to control the narrative as she now sinks into ignominy as an historical character was the list of achievements she gave in her resignation speech. ‘No really, look at the good things I did!’ she asked us. It was such a privilege to be Prime Minister. Maybe for her it was, but sadly for her party and for the country it was not.
I often think that the only thing worse than wanting to be prime minister and not becoming prime minister, is to spend your life wanting it and then to become the worst prime minister in modern times. She was clearly hanging in there desperately trying to secure a legacy, but in the end failed even to do the one thing she had promised to do: deliver Brexit. Previously, the accolade of most useless PM was resting on the shoulders of David Cameron, who will be remembered for cack-handedly causing Brexit and fucking up our country. But he will no doubt be celebrating today that his reputation as premier may now be obscured by the sheer magnitude of Theresa May’s failures.
She listed her successes to us, carefully skirting the herd of angry elephants in the room. A few things we hadn’t really noticed were now a bit better, but along the way she has overseen the return of our country to the dark days of the 1970s — socially divided, the sick man of Europe, irrelevant globally, industry collapsing, and generally falling apart.
She stumbled into the job because her colleagues were too busy wrestling in the playground like children. She then went on to make history, repeatedly, but always for being the worst: the biggest parliamentary defeats, the most resignations.
Let’s not forget though that Theresa May was at heart a populist. She pandered to the made up ‘will of the people,’ she undermined the role of the Judiciary, she belittled and affronted Parliament. She failed to seek consensus, within her party, across parliament, or in Europe. She was a dictator with no power, issuing decrees, stating her immovable positions, and then just crumbling when anyone pushed up against them. Her political style was to make the kind of statements that an actual leader, with any power, might get away with, but which a weak leader who had lost her majority in parliament could never uphold. She ended up just looking like a fool.
The UK is a worse place because of Theresa May. Under her leadership our political system is in disarray, society is divided. Racism and anti-Semitism, violent crime, and social division are part of our everyday lives in a way they have not been for years.
Homelessness is again a massive and visible problem. How is it possible that a city with the wealth of London has so many people sleeping on pavements and benches? Too many British people now live in poverty. Children go to school hungry, and teachers have to use their own money to buy pencils for them to write with. The air in our major cities is so polluted it is killing people. Globally, the country has become insignificant compared to 10 or 20 years ago.
And while she has failed as a national leader, she has equally failed as a political leader. Her party is disintegrating, overrun by egomaniacs of the worst kind. She will be remembered for allowing Chris Grayling to be in government, despite a catalogue of incompetence that would have got him fired from the most basic normal job. He alone cost the tax-payer nearly £1bn in pointless waste and loss. She will be remembered for letting Boris Johnson humiliate the country as its foreign secretary.
She will be remembered for empowering Nigel Farage, letting a right-wing populist win an electoral mandate despite not having a political party, any policies, or any members. History books will hold a microscope over her failure to investigate adequately the foreign interference and illegality of the referendum that went on to define and destroy her premiership. She has allowed the country to be torn apart by billionaires and enemy governments because she did not have the confidence to shine a light on their activities because it would undermine her tattered mandate as leader.
Theresa May stood outside Downing Street and told us what a great privilege it had been for her to serve our country. But all she did was serve her own ambition. She has ruined the United Kingdom. She did not do it alone, I admit. Her party have behaved unforgivably; a ragtag mess of egos and fools. They could not have done it if they had not been empowered by Jeremy Corbyn’s absence of opposition and accountability, his own political naivety and incompetence giving the Conservatives a free reign to wreak their havoc.
Her punishment for all this will be having to live out her years trying to avoid the history books describing the fiasco of her time in office. Her only hope now is that Boris Johnson becomes prime minister and delivers the coup de grace to our national dignity and social cohesion. If she is lucky, the next Tory prime minister will start a civil war or cause a massive recession, so she can join David Cameron in having her own inadequacies obscured by someone even worse.