If ever a plan has backfired, the calling of an early general election by Theresa May is it. The aim was to increase the government’s majority, however, with the results so far showing the opposite, the government losing their majority, having a hung parliament and needing to form an alliance possibly with the DUP this can only be seen as a disastrous result.
So what went wrong?
With Mrs May so far ahead in the polls at the beginning of the election campaign something definitely went wrong over the last few weeks. She seems to have been ill advised and poorly prepared when it came to the Tory manifesto, early on we heard that Mrs May was in favour of putting the Fox hunting ban up for another vote. How on earth did that manage to be one of the initial damning headlines, with so many other important issues to be considered?
Announcing that the winter fuel allowance would cease for some of the elderly could have been a popular policy, particularly with those that think that the conservatives only look after the rich. However by not announcing where the cut off would strike it allowed the opposition and the media to scaremonger who would be affected. So instead of this being a positive move it was soon used against the Conservatives. If the manifesto had stated that the fuel allowance would be cut for higher rate tax payers or something like that it would have been a vote winning policy.
The Social Care policy was a nail in the coffin, who in the government thought that having a plan that would safeguard only up to £100,000 of assets was a good idea? The better off in society, who after all are generally the ones that have to self-fund their Care, were horrified that a Conservative government would suggest such a thing. The less well-off and those already in the system or working in the Care system saw it as ignoring the real issues. Appearing to U turn a week later by announcing that there would be a fee paying threshold only made the Tories look weak.
Theresa May was selling the idea of a vote for her was one for a strong, stable leader, exactly what is needed in the BREXIT negotiations. This message was important but whilst Jeremy Corbyn and Labour were talking about home issues, NHS, Schools and Policing, saying many of things that the general public, particularly the younger voters, wanted to hear from a potential government. Theresa May just kept saying that a strong and stable government was needed, though her actions in regard to the Tory manifesto made her seem less stable and easy to manipulate. Yes the dreadful terror attacks may have taken their eyes off the ball but it highlighted the security needs of the country. Instead of the Tories being able to use this positively, Jeremy Corbyn was allowed to blame Theresa May personally for cutting the numbers of police whilst she was home secretary, like she alone made that decision. Again the Tory party appeared to be defending Theresa instead of detailing how the savings in police on the beat had been used for the benefit of counter terrorism.
Sadly the Conservative party has no one but themselves to blame as a whole, not Theresa May, I believe that she is the best person to be negotiating our exit from the European Union. However, what Theresa May needs to take from this campaign and result is to widen her scope of advisers, use her full cabinet as a policy sounding board. Don’t hide away, part of the role of PM is to talk to the people but also to debate with other members of parliament to show her strengths.
I want to see Theresa May show the character she did when she took over as PM. We need a strong minded woman in charge, yet one that listens to those around her and then delivers on well thought out, costed policies.