The opening days of Theresa May’s general election campaign have been dire. First she has refused to take part in televised leadership debates. Then two of her core team resigned within days of each other. And now, there is a surge in bets that Jeremy Corbyn will be the UK’s next prime minister. We tracked down 40 embarrassing seconds of Theresa May taken in 2012, which really sum up the mood of her campaign right now.
Theresa May and the snap election
Theresa May has called the election after a second poll during the Easter period showed the Conservatives with historic leads over Labour. The Prime Minster’s team clearly feels this is the optimum time to secure her mandate, prior to major battles ahead.
However, a recent rash of policies from Labour signals the first real battle for Britain in a long while. The prospectuses of the parties could not be more different.
Under Theresa May’s current economic plan, the poorest people in Britain will see their incomes shrink by more than 10% by 2021. The wealthiest, meanwhile, will see theirs grow by 5%. Labour’s plan would put a reverse gear on that expanding wealth gap.
In contrast, the Labour Party has found a way to give 5.6 million working UK citizens a much-needed pay rise, by raising the minimum wage to £10 an hour. In doing so, it could save the taxpayer £40bn in welfare paid to working people whose wages leave them in poverty.
Under Conservative austerity, nearly three quarters of teachers have reported students coming to school hungry. In parts of the country, teachers are even having to clothe and feed pupils whose parents are too poor to do so.
In answer to this, Labour plans to place a tax on private school fees to pay for universal free school meals for students at state schools. This would not only mean that children were guaranteed to be taught on a full stomach, but would also end the stigma associated with means testing the benefit.
These are just two amid a rash of common sense policies that target the growing wealth gap. And they have struck a chord with the public.
But it’s not just on policy that May could face a tough battle.
A Tory Brexit
Electing Theresa May as Prime Minister means rubber-stamping a hard, Tory Brexit from the European Union.
The Brexit of greater democracy and protection from radical neoliberal austerity is never going to happen under this current government. The Brexit of Theresa May is about quite the opposite. The Prime Minister is more interested in dismantling hard-won rights. And cutting the taxes paid by wealthy individuals and corporations.
In order to protect Britain from the losses associated with leaving the single market, the May government has confirmed it would turn Britain into a tax haven – cutting corporation taxes radically to attract business. May has also campaigned to withdraw Britain from the European Convention on Human Rights, and has steadfastly refused to guarantee working people’s rights after Brexit. The rights that May is casually abandoning are the rights that ensure us all a minimum wage, maximum hours, and safe workplaces. They are the rights that all but ended sweatshop/workhouse conditions in the UK. Yet these rights may well end up on the chopping block as May courts corporations to stay in the country.
The breakup of the union
Theresa May has performed poorly on diplomacy. Her reluctance to meet and work collegiately with fellow political leaders in the UK is now threatening to turn Brexit into the break-up of the United Kingdom.
The Prime Minister forgot to tell Scotland about her decision to trigger Article 50. We would expect that the commencement of the two-year countdown to leaving the EU would have been discussed in detail. But the Scottish First Minister and her colleagues in Holyrood found out as they watched BBC News.
May also placed an ill-advised column in The Times, calling Scotland out for holding a referendum. Given May’s performance on Brexit, it was widely derided as one of the most tone-deaf communications from a Prime Minister in some time.
Theresa May today in the Times. This passage is so contradictory I keep having to reread because brain… cannot… pic.twitter.com/lFkqO6XWhN
— Fiona Mackenzie (@fionamacmac) March 17, 2017
The battle for Britain
In the forthcoming election, voters will have a chance to reflect on recent humiliations. The sight of May curtsying like a choir girl for President Trump. The hypocrisy of May selling arms to the head-chopping dictators in Saudi Arabia, while refusing to allow child Syrian refugees to claim sanctuary in Britain. And they will have to ask themselves a question: what kind of country do we want to live in?
May has made clear promises about what Britain will look like given five more years of her government. It will be a less equal, less compassionate, less progressive country than we have been for some time. And voters can bring that all to an end with the tick of a pencil.
– Register to vote in the 8 June general election.
– Discuss the key policy issues with family members, colleagues and neighbours. And organise! Join (and participate in the activities of) a union, an activist group, and/or a political party.
– Read more from The Canary on the 2017 general election.
– Read and support news outlets who hold power to account. Here are some we recommend. Please add more that you like in the comments:
The Canary, Media Diversified, Novara Media, Corporate Watch, Common Space, Media Lens, Bella Caledonia,Vox Political, Evolve Politics, Real Media, Reel News, STRIKE! magazine, The Bristol Cable, The Meteor, Salford Star, The Ferret.
Featured image via screengrab