So the latest glib soundbite from Theresa May is to tell anyone not yet asleep that “Enough is Enough”. There is, it seems, no respite from variations on the “Brexit means Brexit” theme, and rather more than the 24 favoured by Niccolò Paganini and Sergei Rachmaninov. Soloists and orchestras would not have beaten a path to the door of whichever composer invented such tedious fayre.
Theresa May gets a less than rapturous reception
And there is a problem with “Enough is Enough”. It’s not even remotely original, and nor is its previous political incarnation particularly good news for the PM. Worse, that previous incarnation was used against her. Yet worse, it was used by the Police as a response to her continued cuts in their numbers. The BBC’s James Landale reported on the less than favourable reception Theresa May received at the 2012 Police Federation conference.
Here’s what she had to say: “I've told the federation conference as it is - which is that as a government we do have to deal with the deficit, and that means that policing has to take its share of the cuts … It is necessary for us to look at this, for the good of policing for the future, and looking at how we can ensure police officers are able to do the job they and the public want them to do”. So the usual empty platitudes, then.
This was not well received. The Beeb’s Danny Shaw told “that the home secretary had apparently been reluctant to be photographed or filmed directly in front of a sign on stage saying ’20% cuts are criminal’”. It got worse: “Some officers held up placards reading ‘enough is enough’ as Mrs May came on stage and she was heckled during the question and answer session that followed”. Zelo Street has the photo to prove it.
And the Guardian report looked even worse for the then Home Secretary: “May's 25-minute set-piece speech to the 1,200 strong Police Federation conference in Bournemouth ended in complete silence … But she had to sit stony-faced through huge cheers and applause when one officer told her she was ‘a disgrace’ and was no longer trusted by the police, and she was heckled when she promised not to privatise the police. ‘You already are,’ shouted one officer”. Sounds like a less than fun day out.
It wasn’t exactly fun for the cops, either: “The home secretary insisted that the police funding cuts were ‘affordable and manageable’ and directly answered accusations that policing had been singled out to take the pain. ‘Let's stop pretending the police are being picked on,’ she told them. ‘Every part of the public sector is having to take its share of the pain’”. Three years later, she was accusing them of “crying wolf”.
And using that phrase may have sounded good when Ms May was being briefed and coached, but the eventual result will be to alienate the Police yet more. What a contrast with Margaret Thatcher, for whom keeping the cops on-side was key. No expense was spared in keeping them sweet. But now … well, “Enough is Enough”.
Another brilliant wheeze from the Tory top team. And another damp squib.