She didn’t quote St Francis of Assisi, but in every other way Theresa May sounded – as she set the scene for her premiership – like Margaret Thatcher. It wasn’t the obvious comparison – of the second woman Prime Minister with the first one. It was more the typical twaddle of “one nation” Tories who tell the working classes to tighten their belts for the good of us all.
In her first speech as Prime Minister, May said she would stand against the “privileged few”. As Home Secretary for the last six years, she has been a key member of two Governments – both of which bent over backwards to keep the “privileged few” in the style to which they have become accustomed. Just weeks ago, as the last session of Parliament closed, May put her hand up for bringing Council rents up to the level of private rents for virtually every tenant family in work. Today, she indicated her sympathy for those who struggle to buy their own homes – that, presumably, after they have cleared the student loans taken out to meet the fees which Theresa May helped to increase. She also helped cut welfare benefits and bring in the bedroom tax – and decrease taxes for business.
Her second focus was to fight injustice. Is that “injustice” acts like sending accountants in to Tower Hamlets to look for financial misconduct by Britain’s first Bangladeshi Mayor and then, when they couldn’t find any, send in Commissioners anyway – all at the expense of Tower Hamlets taxpayers? In the last weeks of the last session of Parliament, May was supporting a new Trade Union Act – which made it all the harder for trade unions to defend their members against attacks from the “privileged few” employers: is she going to right that injustice now she has the top job? Don’t hold your breath. Is she going to come up with a robust defend of immigration to help calm down the post-Brexit rising tide of racist and Islamophobic attacks? Hell, no.
We have no idea what kind of future May and her Government are trying to shape. Will they opt for replacement trade deals with the EU (if they can get them)? Or will they go out looking for new countries to trade with (if they can find any that China hasn’t already sewn up? What are we going to trade, anyway? We manufacture very little now, but the financial services sector on which the Tories have pushed us to rely hasn’t recovered from 2008, has been hard hit by the “Brexit” vote and much of it is likely to move to Frankfurt and Paris (oops).
Yes, the old Etonians are no longer running the country – but that doesn’t mean the end of the Tories and Tory ways of doing things. Theresa May specifically said, “when it comes to new taxes, we’ll prioritise not the wealthy, but you”. You have been warned!