May Day: The wrong moves of Theresa May’s campaign

by Alexander O. Onukwue

“The cold, hard fact is that if I lose just six seats, I will lose this election, and Jeremy Corbyn will be sitting down to negotiate with the Presidents, Prime Ministers and Chancellors of Europe”.

That was British Prime Minister, Theresa May, writing in the Daily Mail on May 19, 2017, about the need to retain majority control of the Parliament going into the General Elections. By the morning of June 09, it happens she has not managed to do so.

In sporting language, Theresa May’s decision to call the just concluded snap elections three years early is now being called an own-goal. The English Premier League, usually the most-watched soap opera in the UK, sees lots of own-goals. For Three Lions legend and TV pundit, Gary Lineker, Mrs May’s latest score is the unarguable own-goal of the season.

The reactions gathering at the moment, from the academia, opposition and from among her party, the Conservatives, have been that she ran a bad campaign. Her posture and response to key sensitive issues on Brexit, Immigration, and the recent spate of terrorist attacks have left her vulnerable to suspicions of incapability.

The accidents of David Cameron’s resignation after Brexit and a relatively easy campaign saw her emerge as Prime Minister in 2016, saddled with the task of negotiating the UK’s conditions for leaving the European Union. She had been against Brexit personally, but assumed the responsibility of enforcing the will of the majority of the nation. It has not been an easy job playing the balancing act of representing Conservatives and the UK Independence Party, in dictating the terms of “a special relationship” with the EU, reducing immigration to sustainable levels, and at the same time striving on issues of the single Market with Labour, the Scots and Liberal Democrats.

She was widely appraised positively for her response to the rash of terror attacks that have beset Manchester and London recently, but some have pointed accusing fingers to her budget cuts on Police while serving as Home Secretary for six years as a contributor.

Then, there was the “dementia tax” – a derogatory name that has been in use for at least a decade in the UK, but used in the 2017 Elections to derogate the adult social care proposals in the Conservatives’ Manifesto. This was particularly problematic given that the majority of affected persons where the advanced populations of Conservative voters.

To some, May’s campaign was arrogant. For others, she was a good policy politician but not a good campaign politician. One thing is clear from Thursday’s polls: the inability to retain the magic 326 tells her all she needs to know about the popularity of her sentiments and the level of trust she has from Britons in her plans.

Having moved into 10 Downing Street just under a year ago, her job is already up for grabs.

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