Shelagh Fogarty is Leading Britain's Conversation.
17 November 2016, 10:52
Overnight leaks that Theresa May is dropping Cameron’s curbs on the Lords suggests our new Prime Minister is infirm of purpose, and possibly a bit naïve.
One thing is certain; Margaret Thatcher she ain’t.
Apparently she thinks not introducing legislation to stop the Lords interfering with statutory instruments etc will allow her government a new, more constructive relationship with opposition peers.
Ironically this news comes the same day that, according to the Guardian, Lib Dem peers, some of them formidable legislators like Ming Campbell and Alex Carlile, have announced that if the Supreme Court rules a parliamentary bill is needed before Article 50 can be invoked, they will force through amendments.
The reality, therefore, is that this initiative by Mrs. May is naïve, with two chances of success, slim and none. And Slim’s left town.
The only way Mrs May is going to curb the Lords is to have a general election, and get a mandate for Brexit, and for other policy initiatives she regards as important, but for which she has no manifesto cover, like grammar schools.
So, why does she hesitate to call an election, with Labour in the doldrums, and Tim Farron, who looks like a superannuated ladies hairdresser, simply not cutting it with the voters?
I suspect it’s because she fundamentally lacks tenacity and resolve, and probably courage. And Mrs May, a Thatcher-like figure in the dreams of newspapers like the Daily Mail, may actually be more like Gladstone’s son, who went into politics trying to wear his father’s mantle, but lacking his father’s many talents. He was once described as “a pygmy, posturing before the footlights in the robes of a giant”.
When you look at Mrs May’s six years fumbling around at the Home Office, you soon realise she never was much of a woman for decisive action. But, if ever there was a time for decisive leadership, surely it is now, with Brexit in danger of being borne away on a tide of prosecco.
Steering Brexit through requires determination as well as decisiveness, and also, surely, a willingness to take calculated risks.
Like calling an election, to keep the public on side, and to retain the political initiative, which is drifting away from a government that looks increasingly becalmed.
This is sad because when you consider the present sorry state of British politics, with every established party in some kind of disarray, Mrs May is Britain’s last, best hope. I hope she can prove she really is Mrs Thatcher’s Mini-me, but I am not holding my breath.
As things stand, leaks about not taking on the Lords, on top of further procrastination about Heathrow etc, merely serves to show the essential truth of Douglas Hurd’s gloomy prognosis about British politics: "The issues get bigger, and the politicians get smaller”.