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Dear Theresa

by Katy Preen 4 years ago in politics

There's only one way out, and it's not in a blaze of glory.

Time's up, Mrs. May.

I know that you’re having a tough time. Your job is probably the most difficult and thankless in the whole country, and yet it is also coveted by those you should be able to rely on. I say that it is the most difficult not lightly; because jobs of comparable complexity and status have largely gone overseas. And so you are left to sort out this mess, and what a damned fine mess it is.

You didn’t ask for any of this — maybe you thought that you could make a success of David Cameron’s failure — and it now looks like success is impossible from your position. I know that you tried to give the people what they wanted. You set your beliefs to one side to bring the country together, but it backfired horribly. Now you are left with a fractured Conservative Party, a divided and unfair society, and a set of policies that even you don’t agree with. Although you are technically in charge, all of this has overtaken you, and you don’t seem to be able to stop it.

I’m sure that you do want the best for us. I know that tough decisions have to be made, and that anyone who makes those decisions can become unpopular with those affected adversely and their champions. The problem is that you don’t seem to be making any good decisions at all, and that’s not helping your popularity — we need you to do something. When you were Home Secretary, you cast an imposing figure, with many seeing you as cold and calculating. But you were respected and decisive, and you made some important and meaningful changes to our laws and culture during that time. Many disagree with the changes you pushed through (and I am one of them), but you were able to do it because you gave the impression of somebody that was in charge, who knew what they were doing. Now… it’s as though you’re relying on things just ticking over.

Within the Home Office, you faced little challenge to your ideas and policies. The Conservatives held a stronger position in the Commons, and the party was united (probably David Cameron’s greatest success was to stop all the infighting). It was a simpler time, a time that came to an end with Cameron’s last effort to quash the final vestiges of Euroscepticism among the Tories.

Well, he fucked that one up, didn’t he? And here you are. Here we all are. We live under one of the most divided and ineffective governments in living memory. Calling that general election was a bold move, for sure, but a terribly foolhardy one. After that cock-up, it's easier to understand your fear of making difficult decisions. Your approval rating is low, although it's not quite reached the nadirs of Thatcher's last days in office, or John Major's at the height of the ERM crisis. I bet that thought hangs over your head every single day. Because there’s only one reason that we’ve not had a coup yet — no one in their right mind would want your job with the state of the country as it is. Except for Jeremy Corbyn — but he’s probably the least of your worries right now.

You know that they’re there in waiting, anticipating the right moment to declare No Confidence in you. But when will it happen? Maybe it will be in the midst of a severe crisis — it would be a ballsy move, but a strong character with enough support and a can-do attitude could pull it off. Or maybe it will occur when things start to improve, so that they come to power riding the wave that you floundered toward.

You lost an important vote in the Commons today. I bet you must be smarting from that. But it wasn’t a close call, like Commons votes so often are. There wasn’t a single vote in your favour. Not one. Sure, Universal Credit is a policy you’ve publicly had little involvement with, but this looks bad. Really bad. Even members of your own party couldn’t vote the way you needed them to with so many abstentions. Just like Brexit, your government steamrollered through an unpopular bill, and you paid the price for it. And yet — you're going against the vote anyway! Alright, it's one of those bold decisions I recommended you try sometimes, but obstinance is not the same thing as fortitude. You can’t keep doing this, Theresa. Being a “bloody difficult woman” worked well for you in the Home Office where all your colleagues were on your side. But you’re leading a minority government, and cooperation is the only way to get anything done. Which comes back to an earlier point: you aren’t actually achieving anything.

So what are you going to do now? Your job is probably quite safe for a good few months, but only because no one else wants it. You could turn things around, but you’re going to have to do things differently. First off, you need to lead as well as manage. Make some sensible decisions and get shit done. You may have an idea of how you want the country to operate, but as they say, if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride. And the UK is currently looking like a very dead horse. Our economy’s in freefall, underemployment is high, and there’s genuine suffering happening that you can prevent. I know you believe in pulling oneself up by the bootstraps, but it doesn’t work if one can’t afford the boots in the first place. Whatever it is that you do, be it bolstering one or two industries to create jobs, or going easy on those with benefits, just do something. People can see right through the disastrous welfare policies you’ve brought in and sticking to a failing ideology will just hasten your demise.

And Brexit, that ever-growing elephant in a shrinking room. It’s a problem. If you backtrack, you’ll be painted as the coward that overturned “the will of the people.” If you go ahead with it, you’ll be remembered as the Prime Minister that wiped 70 years of history and trillions of pounds from the UK’s legacy. I know that you’re trapped. But there is hope. Probably the best thing for you is to make peace with the electorate, and as many of your fellow politicians as you can. For the next few months, go easy on the public, make clever decisions to keep other MPs on side. You’re going to have to concede some ground, but you sold out on Remain, so it shouldn’t be too painful. This way, you can string out your tenure as long as possible, and it should give enough time for Brexit to fall flat on its face without any intervention. So many obstacles to our departure from the EU have arisen already, and no one wants a hard Brexit apart from the Dad’s Army wannabes that are still left in UKIP.

So tread carefully, and go quietly and slowly before you shuffle out of Number 10. At least that way we will remember you for doing something good.

Respectfully yours,



Katy Preen

Research scientist, author & artist based in Manchester, UK. Strident feminist, SJW, proudly working-class.

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