As Theresa May spluttered and coughed her way through her conference speech, it seemed nothing could make it more of a car crash. She was interrupted early on by comedian Simon Brodkin trying to present her with a P45. But then it got even worse. Towards the end of the speech, even the sign behind her gave up. And the party’s claim that it is “Building a country that works for everyone” was left literally in pieces:
Who's got some gaffer tape? Watch the letter F… pic.twitter.com/gmG0FNPgaP
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— Dominic Casciani (@BBCDomC) October 4, 2017
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Later, the letter ‘E’ also fell off.
May’s speech was disrupted by a man attempting to give her a P45:
— Sky News (@SkyNews) October 4, 2017
And although the party faithful cheered as he was removed from the conference, the action reflected what many of them must be thinking: how long can she possibly continue in the job?
May’s speech was also notable for how little she said. She thanked emergency services for their response to recent terrorist attacks. But for many, these words will seem hollow when she is still denying them an inflation-based pay rise:
Unbelievable May just thanked NHS staff and emergency services.Thank them with pay not empty praise you can't spend or eat off thank you s
— Brian Hand (@stookiebri) October 4, 2017
And given this was May’s first conference since her disastrous election, members might have expected a rallying call; a reunifying of the party. But instead, they got a lame speech that was described by the BBC‘s political editor, Laura Kuennssberg, as “awkward” and an “ordeal”.
But the letters falling off the sign signified everything. It signified an unstable government, propped up by a dodgy coalition of chaos. And it signified a party desperate to capture Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity without having a single idea how to do it.
And May’s croaky, cracked voice also summed it all up. Obviously having to struggle through a major speech with a bad cold is not something anyone wants to do. It was unfortunate. But it was not, as Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt claimed, “bravery”.
Everything about May’s speech denoted a weak and wobbly leader in charge of a shaky party; a party whose ideology is under threat from a generation of people who have been failed by neoliberalism and capitalism in general. People want real change. And the fact that the Conservatives are so scared of this change is the only reason May is still in power.
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