The Wicked Witch and the Nasty Party
Once upon a time, many years ago, the good people of Chingford (a safe Conservative seat) elected one Ian Duncan Smith (“IDS”) to be their Member of Parliament on the retirement of Norman Tebbit. IDS was an obnoxious Eurosceptic who had become a constant thorn in the side of the 1992 – 1997 John Major Government. In 2001 he became Leader of the Opposition and he held that post until 2003 when he was replaced by the even more obnoxious Michael Howard.
Teresa May (aka “The Wicked Witch of Westminster”) entered Parliament in 1997 and served in the shadow cabinets of Messrs Hague, Duncan Smith and Michael Howard and between 2002 and 2003 she was Conservative Party Chairman.
As this Guardian article reminds us: “‘Nasty party’ warning to Tories” it was at the 2002 Conservative Party Conference that the Wicked Witch announced to the conference hall:-
“You know what some people call us: the nasty party“
After the 2010 General Election, the Wicked Witch served as Home Secretary from 2010-2016 and became Prime Minister on 11th July 2016 after the resignation of David Cameron.
Why the Wicked Witch is Anti-Immigrant
This October 2014 Guardian piece by Richard Seymour is worth a read: “Why is there so much hostility to immigrants in the UK ?”
He makes the valid point that many British are anti-immigrant because they (wrongly) think that immigrants deprive them of their rights. Politicians, particularly Conservatives and, of late UKIP, played to that sentiment but this is nothing new. It has been a Conservative practice for many years. See this Guardian Article: Britain’s most racist election: the story of Smethwick, 50 years on
See also this October 2015 Economist article: “Theresa May’s baseless blast against immigration – A flagging leadership contender makes a pitch to the Tory party’s right“.
Likewise in 2016 the Guardian had this reminder of how awful the Wicked Witch was as Home Secretary: “What does Theresa May’s record as home secretary tell us? – While the new prime minister made a stirring call for equality in her first speech, her years at the Home Office hint at someone cavalier about civil liberties and quick to evade responsibility when it suited her” which makes these points in particular:-
- Her six years at the Home Office were marked by an instinctive secrecy, a talent for “going missing” or delegating when things went wrong, and a too careless approach to civil liberties.
- Her capacity to make herself scarce at key moments of political danger peaked during the referendum campaign. Her minimal public contribution not only failed to defend her record on immigration but instead focused on her personal pledge to withdraw from the European convention on human rights to demonstrate that she was a wafer-thin remainer.
- May has made denouncing the Human Rights Act and demanding Britain’s withdrawal from the European convention on human rights a major theme of her Tory party conference speeches while she was home secretary.
- During her only press questioning after her only leadership campaign speech she appeared to drop this hardline stance but was in fact careful only to say that “no parliamentary majority exists for it”. That means she is likely to go into the next election pledged to Britain’s withdrawal from the European convention on human rights – which would leave Britain as the only European country in the same position as the pariah state of Belarus.
In March 2017 the New Statesman’s Stephen Bush had this: “One good thing about Brexit: the end of “honest conversations” about immigration – Even Theresa May won’t promise lower immigration now“.
- Regular readers will know that I am not optimistic about the Brexit process, but one unalloyed good is that time is running out for May and the rest of the “we need an honest conversation about immigration” brigade.
- Most ministers now have to lobby for greater migration to keep their budgets in control, instead of nodding to anti-immigrant sentiment in the Conservative grassroots.
- If you reduce immigration to the “tens of thousands”, as May notionally wants to do, now that Britain is leaving the European Union, you can do that but the bad news is that large numbers of people – let’s face it, large numbers of women in the main – will have to give up full time work to care for their elderly relatives.
Poor Stephen! He underestimates just how nasty the Wicked Witch can be when it comes to immigration issues.
The Independent had this in February 2017: “Brexit could prompt human rights crisis, lawyers warn – Open letter says Prime Minister must not be allowed to use leaving the EU as an excuse to also exit the European Convention on Human Rights“. This should be required reading for every Conservative.
On 20th April 2017 the Independent had this: “Theresa May’s ‘poisonous propaganda’ about immigrants fuels violent hate crime, says Tim Farron – The Lib Dem leader accuses the Prime Minister of ‘feeding the lie’ that immigrants are a drain on the country“.
On 6th June 2017 the
Torygraph Telegraph had this: “Theresa May: I’ll tear up human rights laws so we can deport terrorists” together with a video of her speech.
More soberly the Financial Times (£) had this by David Allen Green: “Theresa May and the politics of denouncing human rights law“
On 17th June 2017 the
Torygraph Telegraph had this comment by James Kirkup: “Theresa May’s immigration speech is dangerous and factually wrong – The Home Secretary is fanning the flames of prejudice in a cynical attempt to become Conservative leader“.
After David Cameron’s resignation, the Conservative Parliamentary Party started its process for electing a new leader. The present “Father of the House” Kenneth Clarke was caught on camera discussing possible candidates with a colleague, Sir Malcolm Rifkind – see this Guardian article: “Ken Clarke caught on camera ridiculing Conservative leadership candidates – Clarke says Theresa May is ‘bloody difficult’ and claims Michael Gove would ‘go to war with at least three countries at once’“.
To describe the Wicked Witch as merely “bloody difficult” was. of course, the sort of understatement one might expect from a gentleman. The nightmare for Conservatives is that after two years with the Wicked Witch as Prime Minister, our economy will be wrecked, our human rights emasculated and the Conservative Party rendered unelectable for a generation.
Some Conservatives are Worried
Just four days ago, Tim Montgomerie, the creator of the influential Conservative Home blog, and a former comment editor at The Times wrote this for the London Evening Standard “Tim Montgomerie on Brexit talks: We need a new PM before we get too far in – The Tories need a new team, not just a new leader, to stop the onward march of Jeremy Corbyn“.
Over on the Conservative Home site Paul Goodman has been running a series of posts with something similar: “42 per cent and no majority 3) May should send for winners, having not won herself – and call in the Vote Leave team“.
Conservatives are right to be concerned. The Evening Standard has this: “Jeremy Corbyn overtakes Theresa May for first time in poll as Labour leader becomes favourite for Prime Minister”
The YouGov report is here: “Majority favour pushing on with Brexit – but many are tempted by a softer path – More than a third of Brits think the result of the election makes a good Brexit deal less likely”