Opinion: UK PM Theresa May is no Margaret Thatcher


When judgement comes to be made on the calibre of British prime ministers of the modern era, Theresa May will be regarded as little better than a third-rate version of Margaret Thatcher.

But without the charm. Or, for that matter, the savage wit.

Theresa May will be regarded as little better than a third-rate version of Margaret Thatcher, argues 1 NEWS columnist John Armstrong.

Theresa May will be regarded as little better than a third-rate version of Margaret Thatcher, argues 1 NEWS columnist John Armstrong.

Source: Associated Press, Getty Images

Or, for that matter, the sheer guts and fortitude of the one-time Dowager of Downing Street.

The Finchley Firebrand fought tooth and claw in order to do what she thought was right even when she was manifestly wrong.

The pledge by the UK Prime Minister comes amid more evidence that one of the London Bridge attackers slipped through the intelligence net.
Source: 1 NEWS

In stark contrast, when it came to the issue which has bedevilled the Conservative Party for decades - Britain's role in Europe - May studiously sat on the fence while her senior colleagues picked one another off in what was internecine warfare which had been long delayed.

Source: 1 NEWS

As the smoke of battle cleared, May became leader almost by default.

It is an appalling irony that last year's Brexit referendum was turned into a blunt instrument for exacting retribution on those guilty of such self-serving behaviour.

Yet the two politicians who were most deserving of punishment - May and the chronically principle-deficient Boris Johnson - were the ones who benefited the most from the Westminster meltdown.

Unlike Thatcher, May is a prime minister not just for turning. Her U-turn on the so-called "dementia tax" shows she is for revolving at high rotation if that is necessary to save her political neck.

May's chicanery is about to have an early date with Judgement Day, however.

Thatcher maintained her iron grip on power for 11 long years. Britain's second female prime minister has yet to complete 12 short months in the job.

The general election happening in the United Kingdom overnight looks very much like marking the beginning of the end of her brief tenure in the highest office in the land.

The opinion polls have been all over the polo paddock. But they have been in agreement on one thing.

When May called the snap election some seven weeks ago, the Tories enjoyed a commanding 20-point lead over the Labour Party.

That gap has since narrowed considerably.

There is little doubt that May will win the election. But nothing short of a sweeping victory will save her. And possibly not even then.

One question will continue to nag away at her party.

If May could not wallop Jeremy Corbyn - arguably the most despised, most divisive and most mocked leader in Labour history - can her party afford to allow her to lead it into an election ever again?

What might well save her in the short-term is the need for someone to guide the country through the crisis stoked by the inroads ISIS has made both in spirit and person into the Muslim enclaves of Britain's biggest cities.

The tolerance and stoicism that prevailed in the aftermath of the Manchester suicide bombing is fast dissipating in the wake of last weekend's atrocities committed on London Bridge and its environs.

The public's patience is close to snapping. A backlash beckons. Britain's Muslim community is being asked some hard questions.

Its leaders would be wise to start coming up with some meaningful answers.

Regardless, this is not a good time to create a vacuum at the heart of Britain's government.

Anything short of an absolute rout of Corbyn will start the clock ticking on May's demise, however.

Securing such a thumping great majority to wield in forthcoming negotiations on Britain's exit from the European Union was the rationale for calling a snap election.

Few questions were asked about the political wisdom of going to the country early, however.

There was instead a collective amnesia among the politicians and pundits of the dangers.

Just ask Malcolm Turnbull. Australia's premier called an early election last year and nearly found himself chucked out of power in the process.

Calling an election on one particular issue can quickly turn into a plebiscite on something completely different.

To make things even worse, May's campaign has been a shocker and a shambles. She is viewed as aloof and out of touch.

May's expedience is epitomised by her long-time endorsement of fox hunting - a highly controversial issue in Britain.

Until the polling booths close and the votes are counted, May will have some inkling of being on the other side of that debate.

She will be a fox on the run - and not few people within her own party will deem that fate to be rather fitting.

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