Cameron’s resignation spells trouble for May

by David Ward

It’s fair to say May hasn’t been tested so far.

With Labour trapped in a spiral of decline part demographic, part self inflicted, her real threat comes from her own benches.

She has an unenviable in-tray. Brexit, a large deficit with an economy stuck in first gear, growing unease with establishment parties, and growing pressure to make a real difference on housebuilding.

Readers of Uncut may well feel some of these are of the Conservative party’s own making. Nevertheless, her challenge is to deal with them while keeping a wafer thin majority intact.

Of course, as Echo and the Bunnymen advised us, nothing ever lasts forever. And you can usually tell what will bring a Prime Minister down before it happens. From David Cameron’s fondness for a gamble to Thatcher’s unshakeable belief in her own ideas.

Cameron’s resignation yesterday is a neat example of one of May’s looming problems. Her hasty clearout of the Cameroons and their ideas. Having made enemies amongst the left of her party, May must curry favour with the right, whose darlings include Liam Fox and David Davis.

Yet this only opens up arguments with former ‘modernisers’.

While Cameron insists the timing of his exit is “entirely coincidental”, the Times reports May’s U –turn on grammar schools prompted his decision.

He intends to focus his time on schools and international aid. Two areas in which the new government is signalling a desire to change course. His memoirs will be published next year.

Yet he is perhaps the least of her problems. While Cameron can dust off his writing pad, and Gove can ensure his Times columns are as supportive as possible, others will not. Nicky Morgan and Stephen Crabb are still young, while Osborne wanted to remain in the cabinet.

Small wonder on the weekend before the grammar schools announcement it was Morgan who briefed newspapers Mays plans were “weird”.

The PM’s second major problem is her policy agenda is riven with contradictions.

Her grammar schools plans conflict with her aims for a “One nation” government focussed on the many rather than ‘a privileged few’.

She will struggle to build the number of houses she wants while continuing to adopt Osborne’s fiscal framework.

And her claims to deliver a Brexit that “works for everyone” are a hostage to fortune in a situation which basically amounts to picking losers.

It is because of this that we see stories beginning to emerge of Downing Street attempting to micro manage all government actions and announcements.

Much like Gordon Brown, at the beginning this was interpreted as strength from the centre. But before long it will be seen as weakness.

The small team at Downing Street cannot feasibly keep a grip on everything without creating long delays in the work departments are doing. Things will start to drift.

Once difficult policy decisions begin to bite, backbench rebellions begin, or press coverage begins to become negative, the temptation will be to develop a bunker mentality.

Those not fully trusted become frozen out. Ministers prevented from making what they see as routine announcements. Strength quickly becomes paranoia.

And all the while a group of young, talented, former cabinet ministers sits waiting on the backbenches for their moment.

David Ward is a Labour campaigner in south London

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9 Responses to “Cameron’s resignation spells trouble for May”

  1. Mark Livingston says:

    Labour is not “trapped in a spiral of decline”. We’ve come through the New Labour wilderness years and we’ve finally got our party back! Let’s all work together for a truly socialist UK.

    Hug a Blairite!

  2. Mike says:

    May will succeed since the Conservative party is much more united. This is a biased article by an active Labour supporter.
    Grammar schools are a popular policy and they support a meritocratic society, just as the assisted places scheme did.

  3. Mike Stallard says:

    Good thinking! The Labour Party is pretty well doomed now,I think.
    So who will stand up to the government?
    You hardly mentioned Europe. But that is stoking up huge fires within this country: people want to leave, but how do they do it?
    To be honest, I am not at all sure that harping on about the poor, the vulnerable and more and more “fairness” is going to cut the mustard in the new situation. I am not sure if people don;t want a bit of freedom to develop which they (we0 realise will allow for some poppies to grow taller than others.
    Also a lot of us are sick of the inefficiency of government bodies – education – the law and (dare I say it?) the NHS. Too many fat cats who couldn’t care less about their charges – but who will defend their salaries ruthlessly.

  4. David Walker says:

    This article is little more than a wish-list and Labour needs to face some uncomfortable truths.

    The economy is in relatively good shape and people who don’t live in Labour/SNP seats feel that the country is moving in the right direction under the Tories. Plenty who do live in those seats feel the same way.

    You may not feel that the return of grammar schools best serves the poor, but it is a very popular initiative as several recent polls have shown.

    Brexit is also popular. That’s why people voted for it. They are not regretting their decision to do so and being told that they are, by middle-class progressive types, only entrenches this feeling. By and large, people just want us to get on with it.

    Labour is still trying to tell the voters what they should be upset about, rather than just asking them and coming up with policies that will appeal to them.

    This has been the problem for years. Talk of the downtrodden 99%, food banks, human rights for asylum seekers, the relentless promotion of diversity, the hounding of anybody involved in high-finance and unswerving demands for more spending in every area of government just continues to make the party unpopular amongst the voters it needs to get onside.

    Outside of North Korea, you will do well to find a leader more secure than May right now.

  5. Dan says:

    “Let’s all work together for a truly socialist UK.”

    yeah, let me know how that one works out for you.

  6. Grammar schools will be popular, until families realise that it, in effect, will turn their child’s school into a secondary modern.

  7. madasafish says:

    Mrs May strikes me as Gordon Brown without the charisma:-)

    Time will tell.

  8. NickT says:

    “We’ve come through the New Labour wilderness years”

    Yes, the wilderness years of winning elections and getting something done for the British people. What a terrible wilderness that was!

  9. john P Reid says:

    MArk Livingston, wilderness years, you mean when we increased our vote form 8.4million in 1983 when you lost us our worse ever defeat ever ,to the point we were in power for 13 years, and the Tories haven’t got more than 36.8% of the vote since

    as for YOUR party, when the Bennites infiltrated the party in the 70’s Now you know how the Gaitskellites felt, then you’ve reinfiltrate now

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