|>>|| No. 85232
As to the Conservative Party, I am beginning to change my view of the big problem. I’ve always said it was the referendum result; and joked that although Theresa May obviously isn’t any good, the Archangel Gabriel could not have salvaged much improvement on the awful deal she’s hawking to her scared and exhausted Tory troops.
But as the months have ground on I’ve been at first shocked but finally persuaded that not Brexit alone, but also she personally, is the problem.
Time and again I’ve protested that she may not be the answer but she didn’t create this mess: she’s just an unimaginative, unremarkable, perhaps wooden but dogged politician, overly cautious and rather shy. Time and again my informants — MPs, former MPs, civil servants, special advisers — tell me, eyes flashing, that I’ve got it wrong and the public have it wrong, and she’s so much worse than that. She’s not normal. She’s extraordinary. Extraordinarily uncommunicative; extraordinarily rude in the way she blanks people, ideas and arguments. To my surprise there is no difference between the pictures of her that Remainers and Brexiteers paint.
Theresa May, they tell me (in a couple of cases actually shouting) is the Death Star of modern British politics. She’s the theory of anti-matter, made flesh. She’s a political black hole because nothing, not even light, can escape. Ideas, beliefs, suggestions, objections, inquiries, proposals, projects, loyalties, affections, trust, whole careers, real men and women, are sucked into the awful void that is Downing Street — and nothing ever comes out: no answers, only a blank so blank that it screams. Reputations (they lament) are staked on her, and lost. Warnings are delivered to her, and ignored. Plans are run by her, unacknowledged. Messages are sent to her, unanswered. She has become the unperson of Downing Street: the living embodiment of the closed door.
And I am, finally, persuaded. Persuaded that Theresa May has not simply failed to unite two wings of my party, but that her premiership has driven them apart, into anger and despair; helped to turn a disagreement into a schism. Before healing becomes possible (one told me) she, and all who wait upon her and have surrounded her, must be hounded out of the party’s cockpit, and every trace of the era of her leadership expunged. Another, careless of the proprieties, told me the political massacre should be on a Rwandan scale. For the first time I understood the passion, if not the logic, behind the self-defeating challenge to her leadership the Brexiteers mounted last December.
I do not exaggerate the violence of the imagery into which her Tory critics fly at the very mention of her name. And perhaps because I’ve been so reluctant to believe this picture, you will now believe my report.