Andy Bollen: A week is a long time in politics - how many will Theresa May last?

Comedy writer and author Andy Bollen says a week is a long time in politics, and each one that goes by is like a ticking clock for Theresa May

168 HOURS is a long time in politics. That’s a week, incidentally, but it seems more fragile and precious as a career option when you equate it to minutes of the day.

From the outset you would think Theresa May’s advisers and spin doctors were doing everything possible to leave her looking vulnerable, exposed and hopelessly out of touch. Her team can only do so much, they are advisers not miracle workers.

What, then, for May? I’d be checking there were no firearms left in her office. How would they spin that May was secretly rushed to hospital after shooting herself in the foot?

The PM’s inner sanctum has a pushed narrative, a consensus that she is someone tough. The Conservative and Unionist Party was mistaking toughness with a lack of warmth. 

In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments, only consequences. This is what happens when you are selected party leader unchallenged and paraded into power, handed the top job, gift-wrapped. 

In truth she was never PM material. It’s widely know that her six years at the Home Office were shrouded in her almost neurotic sense of mistrust and secrecy and, more telling in the light of recent events, a great internal radar for going missing when things turned pear shaped, delegating and passing the buck.

The PM’s inner sanctum has a pushed narrative, a consensus that she is someone tough. The Conservative and Unionist Party was mistaking toughness with a lack of warmth. 

The Tory faithful were expecting the next Maggie. Instead of the Iron Lady they got Una Stubbs as Aunt Sally banqueting on jelly made of Tramadol. Strong and stable, no – weak and watery. Thatcher had many faults, but she would stand her ground and have a coherent, forceful argument on whatever stance she took. 

She would never balk from a TV debate either, and even learned how to soften her voice for TV.

The Tory faithful were expecting the next Maggie. Instead of the Iron Lady they got Una Stubbs as Aunt Sally banqueting on jelly made of Tramadol.

The fates have conspired and it reads like a tragedy. Unlike Homer’s Odyssey or, more appropriately, the comedy of Aristophanes, the trials and tribulations and inciting incidents are of her own making. She didn’t have to do this. 

May thought it would impress the party, keep it sweet and galvanise the gang if she flexed some muscle before Brexit negotiations. She acted like the big hard guy who shouts square go in the pub only to run out scared when a puny wee kickboxer turns out to be a Scottish Bruce Lee.

The British, and especially the Scottish, hate being taken for granted and getting told what to do. Belligerence is our default position. That’s why so many trains do emergency stops and so many paint jobs have grubby fingerprints.

"Do you think so? Don’t tell me not to pull that chain or not to touch that wet paint."

The snap election has meant she has had to make promises to a willing, if grubby, and questionable DUP, which no matter how hard it tries to legitimise its political authenticity, can’t help itself. The real Arlene Foster and Ian Paisley Jnr whose photo shoot at Westminster was full of smiles, selfies and sunshine, are there for all to see. 

Visit our donate page to help us fund two new reporters

They looked more like lottery winners, their supply and confidence arrangement bringing untold bags of cash. It had them doing the craic about "the future being bright, the future’s orange". Out loud, just some banter.

But what about the 'cash for ash' scandal in Northern Ireland which could cost taxpayers £450m? This deal to secure power means May would be giving them money to burn, literally. The Renewable Heat Incentive was set up under Foster’s watch when she was in charge at Northern Ireland’s department of enterprise, trade and investment in 2012. 

It was designed, ironically, to allow businesses to become more green, and to move away from fossil fuels toward renewable heating systems. Going green meant that subsidies were greater than the cost of the fuel. A huge inquiry into the affair threw up a few headline anomalies. For every £1 spent on renewable, businesses were subsidised by £1.60. 

One farmer allegedly liked going green so much that he secured £1m of subsidies from the public purse by heating an empty shed. I'm not sure if you want to be promising billions for roads and schools - I wouldn’t trust Foster with the kitty money at May’s going away do.

While May has been poor as PM, she can rest assured she is far from the worst or most calamitous. In 1770, Lord North came into power. May only lost a huge majority, North lost America. Great Britain’s colonies. When he came into power, Great Britain owned most of North America, and when he left, it didn’t.

Was there anything gained from calling a snap election? Yes. May would’ve been able to steal the little black pencil from the booth – it will come in handy to do her eyebrows and when she starts going to the bingo.

Then there was the Duke of Wellington. The duke was amazing on the battlefield but was a lunatic in office. He refused to move into Downing Street, saying it wasn’t big enough. When opponents disagreed he challenged them to a duel. 

That could explain why he enjoys wearing a police cone at a jaunty angle on his head in Glasgow. The lad’s bampottery was stuff of legend.

Then, let’s not forget Gordon Brown - he was super bright and incredibly intelligent, and spent a lifetime angling for the top job only to become PM as the dregs of New Labour swirled around the bottom of the glass, Oasis and Blur were mates and Blair had moved onto property dealing. 

Brown also had to contend with a global economic meltdown. He was ineffective when he got there and just like May, terrible with people. Remember his greatest skillset? He loved going around insulting his voters when he was still live on radio.

Was there anything gained from calling a snap election? Yes. May would’ve been able to steal the little black pencil from the booth – it will come in handy to do her eyebrows and when she starts going to the bingo. Her number’s up.

It’s not the DUP the Tories need, it’s a parachute or a canoe with a paddle to navigate through the proverbial creek full of excrement. 168 hours is a long time in politics; that’s a week incidentally...

Picture courtesy of Tiocfaidh ár lá 1916

Look at how important CommonSpace has become, and how vital it is for the future #SupportAReporter

Comments

Peter Dow's picture

Peter Dow

Fri, 06/30/2017 - 23:51

Who cares how long May lasts. That's irrelevant.

What matters is how long A TORY GOVERNMENT of whatever Tory Prime Minister lasts and what can the opposition do to bring down EVERY Tory Government in this hung parliament?

Under the Westminster rules of the game what the opposition parties can do is to offer the DUP a much better deal than what the Tories are offering them.

Offer the DUP an additional £2 billion a year (4 times what they are getting from the Tories) and to fund the building of a bridge between Northern Ireland and Scotland.

CommonSpace journalism is completely free from the influence of advertisers and is only possible with your continued support. Please contribute a monthly amount towards our costs. Build the Scotland you want to live in - support our new media.