We have now had confirmation that this week will see the coronation of Theresa May as Conservative Prime Minister.
In a remarkable turn of events Andrea Leadsom has pulled out of the Tory leadership contest but amidst the drama we should not lose sight of the bigger picture. Theresa May has so far focused on appealing to the Conservative Party.
This is a remarkable turn of events but amidst the drama we should not lose sight of the bigger picture. Theresa May has so far focused on appealing to the Conservative Party. But the test is not whether she can win over her Party members but whether she can command the support of the British people. She needs to demonstrate she can deliver for the country as a whole and for ordinary working people who have paid the price of six years’ of a Tory Government.
The signs are not good.
People want a Government that can deliver for them and their families. But that will be difficult for Theresa May given her record of failure and poor choices. She cannot escape the fact she has been at the heart of this failing Tory Government for the last six years – a government that has failed working people. She backed David Cameron and George Osborne’s austerity agenda and supported Tory policies which have put our vital public services, including the NHS, at risk.
At her leadership launch today she called for a “vision of the country that works not for a privileged few but for every one of us”. This is a shameless pitch from someone who has been part of a Government that has cut taxes for millionaires, while putting up VAT and making ordinary people pay more.
And for someone who has been a cabinet minister for the last six years to complain that there “isn’t much job security out there”, as Theresa May did today, is shocking. The reality is the Tory Government, which is part of, has presided over an explosion of zero hours contracts – up 15 per cent in the last year alone – while attacking working people’s rights through their unfair Trade Union Act.
And let’s also remember that Theresa May’s own record as Home Secretary has been one of failure. Despite being in the role for six years she has completely failed to deliver on the Conservatives’ key manifesto pledge to bring immigration down to the “tens of thousands”. Under her watch police forces have seen their funding cut by £2.3 billion in real terms, with the loss of 18,000 police officers and 5,000 community support officers. This is despite a promise to maintain front line services. And she’s no stranger to chaos and mismanagement – she was forced to apologise after she oversaw a huge backlog at passport offices, with thousands of holiday makers facing huge delays in receiving passports.
The Tories may try to sell Theresa May as the ‘continuity candidate’. But this is nothing to be proud of. The truth is she offers more of the same failed approach that we’ve had from the Tories for the last six years. Working people deserve better – only a Labour Government will stand up for them and their families.
Jonathan Ashworth is shadow Minister without Portfolio