The whirlwind of events that transpired on Thursday morning will undoubtedly leave an indelible mark on British politics. Boris Johnson, a man who many considered to be heir apparent to the premiership, made the remarkable announcement that he would not run for Prime Minister in the wake of Michael Gove’s announcement that he would, branding Johnson simply as being “not the right person”. The result? Pandemonium.
Yet out of the chaos it appears that a front runner has emerged seemingly intact and unblemished – Theresa May. A figure who kept quiet throughout the EU referendum campaign, she now holds the distinction of being the only candidate backed by both Leave and Remain cabinet members, a sign that her appeal and support is broad among the party, holding her in good stead. Her speech announcing her candidacy presented her as a moderniser, a progressive of sorts willing to propel her party with a more radical agenda.
We need a bold, new, positive vision for the future of our country – a vision of a country that works not for a privileged few but for every one of us.
I wouldn’t have minded this platitude if I felt that she had actually meant it. History however, seems to suggest otherwise.
As Home secretary, May proposed the Draft Communications Data Bill, pejoratively known as the ‘Snoopers Charter’ for its motion to monitor browsing activity of citizens with more ease. Criticisms by the founders of Wikipedia and the World Wide Web, have, among other things, censured the bill for gaining too much access to data which means too little, placing it at risk. As previously written about on the site, increasing the haystack (accessible data) makes it harder to find the needle (useful data).
May has also been forthright about her grievances with mass migration, remarking that its consequences mean ‘making a cohesive society impossible’. While I take no issue with this sentiment in itself, the measures she has previously taken have been dismal in tackling this. Her decision to establish ‘Go home’ billboard vans was not only roundly condemned across the political spectrum and in poor taste, but it appears to have been staggeringly ineffectual. Apparently its success was limited to the voluntary repatriation of a single person.
Furthermore, May set the minimum salary for Non-EU workers who have already lived in the UK for five years to £35,000. Deporting charity workers, doctors and students for failing to meet this threshold is not only deeply unfair but also seemingly at odds with her aim of a cohesive society. Surely unhinging hard working people from a place they call home does little to achieve this?
Regardless of this all, I am sure many outside and inside of Westminster will resign themselves to thinking that May is the best candidate out of an ostensibly inexperienced and/or downright awful set of candidates. But be in no doubt: Theresa May has done nothing markedly ‘positive’ and anything ‘bold she has undertaken has been so for all wrong reasons. So why believe she will deliver a ‘new’ and ‘positive’ vision now?