No policies, no direction, no hope: Theresa May’s speech showed the Tory Party is in its death agonies

How times change: No security, no stability in 2018 – and the only opportunity for Theresa May’s political group is to die.

Things have come to a pretty pass when the most useful part of Theresa May’s speech was the silly attempt at a dance at the start.

Still, I suppose we should consider what she said and what it meant.

Don’t get your hopes up.


After the usual flannel you get at the start of speeches, Mrs May gave us a lot more flannel about the centenary of World War One and the patriotic sacrifice of those who laid down their lives for their fellows.

It was a bit much, coming from her.

Because Theresa May knows very little about patriotism – as Arthur Snell laid out in a series of tweets:

Compassionate politics

She said: “No party has a monopoly on good ideas. That getting things done requires working together – within parties and beyond them.

“When our politics becomes polarised, and compromise becomes a dirty word, that becomes harder.

“We have in our hands the power to set a standard of decency that will be an example for others to follow.

“Let’s say it loud and clear: Conservatives will always stand up for a politics that unites us rather than divides us.”

That was a bit much, too:

Labour and Jeremy Corbyn:

She went to town on Her Majesty’s Loyal Party of Opposition and its leader, with claims that every Labour Government left unemployment higher than they found it, ran out of other people’s money to spend, left the economy in a mess. False claims – for example, Labour has spent far less of other people’s money than the Conservatives, and Labour has paid back more of it than the Conservatives ever did.

She lied that the heirs of the old Labour Party were sitting on the back benches while something called the “Jeremy Corbyn Party” was in charge. Mr Corbyn’s politics is classic Labour; the charlatans are the so-called “moderates” who Mrs May would far prefer to face because their beliefs are far too similar to hers.

And she repeated a few of the lies that have been circulating recently, such as that in which “a leading Labour MP says his party is ‘institutionally racist'”.

Sajid Javid:

The following tweet is self-explanatory:

The National Health Service

Apparently Conservatives have looked after the NHS for most of its life. That is probably why it is currently being run into the ground and privatised by stealth.


Mrs May said: “A decade after the financial crash, people need to know that the austerity it led to is over and that their hard work has paid off.”

This is a lie. Her own Chancellor, Philip Hammond, announced he was sticking with austerity in his own speech to the same Conservative Party Conference at which Mrs May spoke those words.


Mrs May tried to tell us that her government will help ordinary people with the cost of living. This at a time when there is more in-work poverty than anybody living can remember, when child poverty is at a record high, when wage increases have been artificially depressed to make more money for the rich and when savings are at an all-time low.

She chose this moment to say: “The difference it makes to have a little bit of money left to put away at the end of each month isn’t measured in pounds and pence,” and to claim the Tory Party exists for these people, and instituted measures like the National Living Wage (a misnomer as it doesn’t cover the cost of living, and not a Tory innovation as it is based on Labour’s minimum wage), the extension of free childcare (which is failing) and the freezing of fuel duty to help them. It is more accurate to say she believes these people exist for the benefit of the Tory Party.

Our best days are ahead of us

Finally, Mrs May pleaded with her audience to join with her in another whopper: “I passionately believe that our best days lie ahead of us and that our future is full of promise.”

Last word

What are we to make of all this, other than that Mrs May did not come out with any solid policies at all in more than an hour of oratory. She mentioned a plan to improve cancer diagnosis that had been trailed already, and that she was lifting the cap on local government borrowing in order to allow councils to build more houses – but local authorities are already going into debt and it seems more likely that they will need the money for other purposes.

I thought the whole speech was just one lie after another, embedded in a series of meaningless platitudes.

And I notice that another person who was deeply unimpressed appeared to be former Chancellor Kenneth Clarke*, who didn’t even bother to hang around and listen:

He had the right idea. Theresa May’s speech showed the Tory government is leaderless and in crisis. But this time, with an aging membership and voter base, it has nothing left to do but die.

*Alas, it seems likely this was a parody account.

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  1. Growing Flame October 4, 2018 at 9:24 am - Reply

    I agree with much of this article and to the responses. But, though I fear being seen as a killjoy, I am worried that the Right, in Britain and internationally, are slowly discovering a new , toxic combination of policies.

    These policies include, of course, racist blaming of immigrants and foreigners for problems at home. Examples include Trumps open hostility to South American and Muslim migrants to the US, the Brexit-supporting Tory Right in the UK, and the rise of Salvini and the far Right in Italy, railing against the refugees arriving by boat. So far so normal for conservative Parties.

    But then they add a kind of “patriotic” welfare element to sweeten the pill for the “right people,OUR people”.

    In Italy, Salvini was elected on a programme that included a guaranteed wage for all citizens and significant increases for pensioners, far exceeding the amounts that traditional Social Democratic Parties would dare to promise.
    In the US, Trump promises a renewal of their failing infrastructure as well as a huge, impossible-to-build-or- afford , wall along the southern border. He promises a return to more coal-mining and heavy industry.With better-paid jobs.

    In Britain, slowly catching up, the Tories now promise significant tax-cuts , even for the modestly waged, and call it a Brexit dividend. They are trying to shake off the image of being the hard Party of sacrifice and cuts. Lots of nice things all round, in fact.

    We shouldn’t forget that it was John Redwood, the former Thatcherite minister, who first suggested that increasing the National Debt was not such a problem, really. And it’s Boris Johnson who happily keeps coming up with expensive but spectacular schemes like a London Garden Bridge, or an island airport in the Thames or a Channel Bridge (to be honest, I like that one).

    Yet they all still cut taxes on the very rich while failing to explain where the money for all this will come from. The very thing they accuse Labour of doing. BUT they could get away with it because, after all, who will call a halt to these policies? Who will tell the voters that the National Debt is rising? The British or US media? I don’t think so!

    So, how do we combat a Tory combination of anti-immigrant blaming and lots of tax cuts and other goodies for even low-waged workers?

    NB Don’ t assume I am whingeing from the sidelines. After typing this, I will be off out leafletting door-to-door with Labour’s economic proposals.

  2. nmac064 October 5, 2018 at 10:15 am - Reply

    Its taking far too long to die off.

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