Believe it or not, it was just seven weeks ago when a steely Theresa May emerged from the steps of Number 10 to deliver an unexpected statement calling for an early general election that took even some of the most in the know political commentators by surprise. That election, and Theresa May’s gamble has now taken place; and good God did it not pay off. In effect, now all results have been declared, the now discredited Prime Minister has exchanged 12 of her own Conservative MPs for 10 charming DUP ones and thrown away her majority in the House of Commons. Although there are other factors such as a higher youth turnout and Brexit that clearly influenced the outcome of this election, it was the campaign that was her ultimate downfall, highlighted by the resignations of May’s top aides, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill.
Though the reasons for May calling the early election are clear, her self-centred campaign, or “referendum on herself” as the ever outspoken Anna Soubry put it, was clearly a disastrous move. Theresa May lacks both the charisma and confidence, as shown from her refusal to participate in the leaders’ debates and pre-planned press conferences to be the face of such an Americanised or presidential campaign. On the other hand, Corbyn had a successful campaign that gathered momentum on the back of Theresa May’s repeated and frequent mistakes. It is also worth noting that Corbyn’s campaign, in the terms of large rallies has also shifted to an American style, which could indicate the direction of future campaigns, of which may not be all that far away, given Theresa May’s untenable position.
As well as May’s Brexit stance, it was unpopular campaign policy announcements such as fox hunting and the dubbed ‘Dementia Tax’, a clear attack on the Conservative’s core support that cost May her majority. As Nigel Evans so eloquently commented, “we [Conservatives] didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot, we shot ourselves in the head” – a statement which is not all that far off. These issues, coupled with robotic repetitions of the infamous ‘Strong and Stable’ slogan, as well as a disastrous manifesto highlighted by author Ben Gummer losing his seat, had a clear impact on the night. On the whole, what it boils down to is Theresa May’s arrogance in thinking that the landslide majority predicted by the pollsters was in the bag. She took both her core support and floating voters for granted and tried to sneak such policies into her manifesto to follow on the back of the projected landslide. In the end, May was the architect of her own downfall by centring the campaign on herself and making far too many executive decisions in her tight-knit group of Timothy and Hill and she is therefore directly accountable for the outcome.
Although claiming to be a bloody-difficult woman, it is hard to see how Theresa May can see out the full term, especially when daggers are already being drawn from the likes of Evans, Soubry and others. It therefore may be that Britain soon heads back to the polls yet again, and the Prime Minister suddenly has much more spare time on her hands to run through fields of wheat.