I read several reports over the weekend suggesting that Theresa May might possibly be a future Leader of the Conservative Party. She is ambitious I am sure, and would no doubt relish the opportunity, but really?
So let’s take a look at this fundamentally flawed idea shall we?
In 2002 she was appointed Chairman of the Conservative party, having only been an MP for a mere 5 years, what could possibly go wrong? During her speech at the 2002 Conservative Party Conference while making a point about why her party must change, May controversially stated that the Conservatives were currently perceived as the “Nasty Party“. Not much has changed since 2002 then, obviously. After a mere year she was sacked by Michael Howard as part of a Reshuffle.
In November 2003 she was made Shadow Secretary of State for Transport but that only seems to have lasted 6 months before being moved sideways to the new position of Shadow Secretary of State for the Family.
in 2005 she additionally took on responsibility for Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, but that only seems to have lasted about 6 months too.
After David Camoron’s appointment as Leader of the Conservative Party in 2005 he appointed her as Shadow Leader of the House of Commons.
In January 2009 May was made Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. Flexible working arrangements and affordable childcare were her big ‘things’ back in those days. That worked well too, didn’t it?
On 12 May 2010, May was appointed Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality, you don’t get to hear much about that part of her portfolio do you? She was initially criticised by some members of the LGBT/gay rights movement,as she had voted against lowering the age of consent (in 1998) and against greater adoption rights for homosexuals (in 2002), voting in favour of civil partnerships. She later stated, during an appearance on the BBC’s Question Time, that she had “changed her mind” on gay adoption. Well, that’s OK then.
In her current role as Home Secretary she has become no stranger to controversy;
- She came under sharp criticism for allowing extradition of Richard O’Dwyer, a student who founded TVShack streaming site. In a YouGov survey over 70% of individuals disagreed with Richard O’Dwyer’s extradition.
- May was also criticised for her handling of the extradition of Syed Talha Ahsan. The Ahsan extradition case raised controversy due to comparison with the treatment of Gary McKinnon, whose extradition – which was expected to be 10 days after Ahsan’s – was stalled after a medical diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome and associative risks, similar to a diagnosis given to Ahsan. This has led to accusations of a racist double standard by the Home Secretary.
- Under her leadership the Home Office refused to release a mentally ill Nigerian man Isa Muazu on hunger strike living in an asylum centre. In order to strengthen the hard-line position of the Home Office it opted to issue an ‘end of life’ plan to the individual.
- Her attempts to extradite Abu Hamza were just plain laughable. “I’m sorry Your Honour I got he date wrong in my diary” Pathetic and Incompetent are the two words that spring to mind quickest.
- In June 2012, May was found to be in contempt of court by Judge, Barry Cotter, QC, accused of ‘totally unacceptable and regrettable behaviour‘ having said to have shown complete disregard to a legal agreement to free an Algerian from a UK immigration detention centre.
- Her stewardship of the UK Border Agency has done nothing to instil confidence in the public. After declaring that in an unscheduled Commons statement that UKBA was “a troubled organisation … its performance was not good enough”. She identified four main problems: its size, its lack of transparency, its IT systems and its policy and legal framework.” she brought it under the direct control of the Home Office, that has worked well. She managed to reform them TWICE in just over a year and wonders why they’re not working properly.
- There is currently a highly public argument between the Home Office and Department for Education ministers about the responsibility for alleged extremism in Birmingham schools. David Camoron’ intervened to resolve the row, requiring May to sack her special advisor Fiona Cunningham, and Secretary for Education Michael Gove to apologise to Home Office Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism head Charles Farr for briefings critical of him appearing on the front page of the The Times. It is alleged that Theresa May’s actions amounted to a breach of the Ministerial Code of Conduct. Does this constitute Misconduct in Public Office? I doubt it, but it would be fun, she’s already got one conviction for Contempt of Court after all, let’s add another.
- Finally the Home Office has to be the WORST Government Department for their handling Freedom of Information Act requests, not just mine, all of them.. In this blog here I explained how the Home Office disposed of many of the requests made to it under FOI. Briefly, nearly a quarter were Refused, and only about one third were replied to fully. This leads me to believe that the Home Office has a culture (along with the Met and others) of NOT supplying the information that has been requested but investing too much time in finding a way to avoid answering the questions. As I said, this doesn’t just apply to me, but a huge percentage of the requests made by folk to the Home Office. I’m a long way from being the only one peeved by it.
I won’t go over her recent appearance at Conference again, it’s recent and you don’t need me to remind you, I will just say that her delivery spoke far louder than the content. It might have been received more sympathetically had she adopted a more respectful and balanced approach.
So she MAY be our next Leader of the Conservative Party, with all that entails. Should she be? In my opinion a resounding NO. She has consistently, repeatedly shown a total lack of respect for the Police, the Courts and many others. She should fit in admirably.
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