So the 2018 Tory Party conference drew to a close, hastened into the dustbin of oblivion by the leader’s speech. Theresa May knew her position was desperate, despite the incontrovertible fact that all those angling to take her job are infinitely less able than she is. So it was that desperate measures were taken. The level of desperation, alas, meant not checking the gimmicks against the reality of the outside world.
Thus our Prime Minister - one has to keep this phrase in mind, if only to see the depths to which the Tories have sunk - arrived on stage to the strains of the 42-year-old Abba hit Dancing Queen. Her attempts at dancing gave a new meaning to the phrase “cringe inducing”. The hall seemed to enjoy this ritual self-humiliation. Few outside did.
Nor did anyone stop and think that making inroads into the under-45 vote might not be usefully served by seeing the Tory leader making a clown of herself to the backing of the kind of song that those younger voters often associate with older relatives causing similar embarrassment as they try to show that they are still “with it”.
Any hopes that the momentary optimism inside the conference venue might escape into the outside world were dashed by the reaction. “Theresa May’s Speech was like watching a Car Crash in slow motion … I wanted to look away … I tried to look away … But I had to see just how bad it would get … It got worse … It was CATASTROPHIC … I will NEVER forgive Theresa May for ruining #DancingQueen for me FOREVER” was typical.
So was “The main things I got from Theresa May's speech - ABBA's Dancing Queen ruined for all eternity - Corbyn is a bad man - A year long Brexit festival - Corbyn is a v bad man - National debt is falling [?] - No, seriously, Corbyn is the epitome of evil”. She did name check Jezza rather a lot for someone she wasn’t really scared of.
What about the pundits? Ally Fogg brought unwelcome news. “We'll probably get loads of guff about May coming across as strong & on the front foot, but notice there was not one single hint at an attack on those who are actually standing behind her holding the knives. No jokes about Boris, DD or JRM, no challenge to the party right”. George Eaton of the Staggers damned her with very faint praise: “This is a far better speech than last year’s (a low bar) but the problem for May has always been the gap between rhetoric and reality”.
And Desperate Dan Hodges condemned the PM with another of his mystic and usually wrong predictions. “Two main strategic impacts of May’s speech. Leadership challenge before conclusion of Brexit now virtually impossible. And drive to the centre now makes Labour split inevitable”. A leadership challenge was demanded only this morning, Dan.
Bringing the cold wind of reality to proceedings, Harry Leslie Smith, who has seen a few leaders come and go, concluded “As a Prime Minster, #TheresaMay is a wounded beast that will soon fall prey to the jackals in her Conservative party”. Quite.
Theresa May is still the pointless leader of a pointless party, on a pointless mission along the road to nowhere. All is as before. Nothing has changed.
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