Theresa May is now (or at least shortly to become) the latest Prime Minister to join the ever lengthening modern PM’s who appear to have been driven by a desire to know ‘How am I doing’ rather than concentrating on the job itself
Let me explain.
It all started with the late but two Prime Ministers – which is actually wrong because he isn’t dead yet – so the former Prime Minister Tony Blair who has whatever he might claim now has never apologised for taking the UK into the Iraq War.
What he has however apologised for are for the mistakes everybody around him made that led him to take the UK into the Iraq War, conveniently forgetting that it was he and his advisors such as Alastair Campbell who ‘sexed up’ the dossier to justify the decision.
No mention whatsoever of his promise to George Bush that “he was with him whatever”.
The reason I bring this up is because Tony Blair, for all of the bile and renting of garments that for many has become the vogue within the Labour Party over how they never really supported let alone liked him, he was either well-loved or really hated but somehow managed to remain genially above it all and Teflon coated against criticism.
How David Cameron would have loved to have had such a persona rather than that of spoiled child, (which by the way he was) Hanoi Hannah, ‘I’ll get you back for this’ attitude he continues to display to this day even though he resigned because of his own misjudgement and incompetence.
The reality in UK politics is that winning three General Elections in a row with a majority takes some doing and it may well be some time, if ever, before it is repeated but what set Tony Blair apart was the fact that he had such self-confidence you never got the impression that he ever asked anyone,
‘”How am I doing?”
Over the past six or seven years I have watched Prime Ministers questions where both David Cameron and Theresa May have pointedly refused to answer questions about the impact on families of their policies.
What has been fascinating is watching both of them keep looking around at their own members with a look that asked just that,
“How am I doing?”
Well judging from the fact that they both moved from a mood of defiance to anger to frustrated annoyance at being challenged as if they as Prime Minister had a right not to be, they weren’t doing very well and as we now know as it was going on there were those who were getting their ducks in a row to be the successor.
The problem in displaying a “How am I doing” attitude is that they were constantly asking for affirmation that they were doing well and in fact expected (at least by their own members) to be told as befits their upbringing and expectations of life that they were doing brilliantly.
Lord Acton (it would be a bloody Lord) made what has become one of the most quoted political statements when he said,
“Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’”
This is of course denied emphatically by political leaders whether local or nationally in the democratic system no matter what the evidence to the contrary and it seems to me they revel in the slightly varied version put forward by the late President of the USA one Lyndon B Johnson that
“Power corrupts and absolute power is absolutely delightful’”
Well we seem to forget that the Conservative Government of Theresa May squandered a majority of only 12 and it seems that away from the Bullingdon Elite not everyone within the Conservative party is happy with what is happening,
“Just because they call it a party doesn’t mean everyone is having a good time” and by all accounts the Conservative Members of Parliament who see their seats being at risk because of the Government policies are certainly not having a good time.
Perhaps just perhaps therefore David Cameron and Theresa May were justified in asking “How am I doing” if only to gauge the level of opposition and rebellion forming amongst their own members?
In contrast of course it appears that Jeremy Corbyn seemed to do rather well, in fact very well if you listen to the political commentators and judge the reaction of the Conservative MPs whose invariable response to being shown up is to revert to childhood wailing.
Now let’s face it (and to put it bluntly) no one especially those in the Parliamentary Labour Party expected Jeremy Corbyn to win and when he did they didn’t expect him to last very long and during his brief stay as Leader of the Labour Party very few, if any thought he would be capable of taking on the Conservative machine.
Well it has turned out that he has proved to be anything but a temporary aberration and is growing rapidly into the role which has clearly disconcerted the last two Prime Ministers (not to say Tony Blair and his supporters) and caused even greater consternation amongst Conservative MP’s who feel their seats are under threat if it continues.
It also has to be said that his success against all of the odds is also causing a level of concern amongst the entitled Labour Party Westminster elite as well.
What has come as a surprise is the fact that he doesn’t seem to worry about asking how he is doing and is relying on what he believes is right.
Whether you agree or disagree it certainly makes a refreshing change from the bland “all from the same mould Oxbridge” stereotypical MP’s we have grown accustomed to over the past 30 years.
It is always dangerous especially in politics to judge a leader by their first action or even actions with every statement being deconstructed, reconstructed and misrepresented by their enemies in the opposition and within their own party as we have seen since Jeremy Corbyn became the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition.
And yes if he was to ask, not those ensconced within the Westminster Bubble but people across the Country,
“How am I doing so far?”
I’d hazard a guess they might probably say,
“With two Conservative Prime Ministers gone, pretty well and keep going because you might not surprise yourself but you will a lot of other people”.
In the meanwhile the. Conservatives are looking for yet another leader which reminds me of the old fashioned cry you used to hear at railway stations,
“Mind the doors as you exit”