Theresa May now holds a record that no prime minister ever wants to hold. During her first year as Prime Minister, her approval rating has dropped more than any other serving premier since polling began in the 1970s. But an interview with Radio 5 live also shows why this shouldn’t come as a surprise; as it reveals how desperately out of touch May is with the rest of the country.
Worst. Prime Minister. Ever.
According to a poll by Ipsos-MORI, May’s popularity has fallen during her year in office more than any other serving prime minister since polls began:
Putting TMay's first year as PM into context – biggest ratings drop since Ipsos-MORI started polling in 1970s https://t.co/kEEkYLECEq
— Mike Smithson (@MSmithsonPB) July 13, 2017
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Given May’s disastrous decision to call an election and her subsequently appalling campaign, this is perhaps not surprising. She went into the election with the belief she could get away with anything, including stripping the Conservatives’ core pensioner vote of vital benefits.
And this was coupled with an election campaign that was spent in hiding. She alienated the local press by locking journalists in a room and refusing to speak to them; she refused to engage in televised debates; and she generally avoided real people wherever possible.
On top of this, Labour under Jeremy Corbyn offered a real change for people fed up with austerity, real-terms pay cuts, and the privatisation of our services.
But it gets worse
If this wasn’t bad enough, an interview with Radio 5 live exemplified exactly why May got it so wrong. She explained that she knew her campaign wasn’t “going perfectly”. But she then went on to say:
The messages I was getting from people I was speaking to… were that we were going to get a better result than we did.
Given May appeared to spend the campaign avoiding talking to anyone opposed to her, this is perhaps unsurprising. But a following statement about lessons she learnt from the campaign shows just how out of touch she is with ordinary people:
A couple of the issues that I think clearly came through to me during the election campaign was the concern that young people have about housing. A lot of young people thinking would they ever… get on the housing ladder.
Even those with a passing interest in politics know the UK is suffering from a housing crisis. From house prices out of the reach of most earners to spiralling rents and increased homelessness, it’s a huge issue. For a politician not to realise this, let alone the supposed Prime Minister, shows a total lack of connection with anything that’s going on in the country.
An alternative explanation
It is possible that May and her government are that out of touch with the rest of the population. But there is another possible explanation. They knew, but didn’t care. The Conservatives didn’t believe young people would vote in the numbers they did. And they thought they could get away with blithely ignoring their needs.
Now, they are backpeddling, and desperately talking about young people. Because they know that, when they call the next general election, young people’s votes will count.
Neither option looks good for May. Either she is so out of touch she has no idea what’s going on in the country she is supposed to govern. Or she does, but thought she get away with it. No wonder she’s the most unpopular prime minister since the 1970s.
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