The Conservatives – or rather the Theresa May’s Team Party – published her Manifesto today.
Manifesto’s may seem a bit anachronistic in the age of rolling media but they do still matter, not least because they can be used to beat the House of Lords over the head- “it’s in the Manifesto” – if they get uppity (the ‘Salisbury Convention‘). As I pointed out in a previous post, this might be the only serious impediment to May’s Government after June 8th.
I know hardly anyone actually reads the things, but they do still matter also as they are the prospectus on which we, at least nominally, elect our Governments. Their central messages do percolate through the population.
So why does this Conservative – sorry, Theresa May – Manifesto feel more like a Proclamation from a Government elect rather than a set of Election promises?
Theresa May came to be PM almost by accident, or cunning design, but certainly not after an open contest in which we got to know what she really stands for.
She was a very quiet Remainder during the EU Referendum who became a very noisy Brexiteer on June 24th 2016. She’s never explained why she was wrong before June 23rd or why she’s right now. She never had a serious contest for the Tory crown because all her Brexiteer opponents self-destructed in one way or another (Johnson, Gove, Leadsom, etc) and the remaining Tory Remainers deflated like popper balloons.
So since her ascendancy we have had little real idea what she stands for. And now she’s heading towards a General Election that has more of an air of a coronation than a democratic exercise in political debate. No-one takes Corbyn’s Labour as serious contenders for power, not even themselves in private. The question is how big Theresa’s Mandate will be?
So when – a scant 22 days before the Election she gets around to telling us what she will do with power it feels more like a Proclamation than a Manifesto – this is what will happen.
For nearly a year there’s been little serious debate in the Conservative Party and its ‘family’ except about what sort of Brexit we’ll get and when. No great policy debates, reports, Think Tankery wonking – nada. Nothing Zilch.
And then suddenly – Hey Presto – here’s what I am going to do with power. Proclamation – that’s what it sounds like and that’s what it is.