Now that she has said she is going, people have started to say nice things about Theresa May.
Here, doing an absolutely heroic job in the Daily Mail, is my friend Sarah Vine:
Mrs May is, of course, the daughter of a vicar — and there is something of the scriptures about her decision to make the ultimate sacrifice. It speaks of a deep sense of conviction, of a solid moral compass not often glimpsed in public life.
I certainly can’t remember a time when a political leader displayed such courage and selfless sense of duty. Not despite being a woman, but — I suspect — because of it.
And here is probably the best political commentator in the business, the Sun’s Trevor Kavanagh:
Even her staunchest critics will give her credit for her diligent sense of duty, endurance in adversity, her triumph over daunting ill-health and her stubborn determination to deliver what she saw as the will of the people.
There will be lots more in this vein in the run-up to Theresa May’s forced retirement, whenever that may be, sooner rather than later I hope. No one will mean it. It’s just a convention, traditionally observed across the mainstream media, that when a senior political figure retires no one can find a bad word to say about them.
But it’s OK. If you don’t want to read anything nice about Theresa May, consider this your safe space.
I was never a fan. You’ll remember that when Theresa May came to power I instantly wrote a piece headlined Better a Cocker Spaniel as Prime Minister than Theresa May. [I’m like Cassandra — blessed with the ability to predict the future accurately, cursed never to be taken seriously.]
Since then, though, my opinion of the useless, stubborn, devious, and, yes, nebulous old bint has plummeted considerably.
The only debate about Theresa May’s premiership is not whether she was bad. But whether she was actually the worst Prime Minister ever. Or merely one of the worst.
She will go down in infamy for three main reasons.
First, throwing away her Commons majority by holding a General Election on a manifesto so dismal, unconvincing, and resolutely unConservative that some people just thought “sod it” and voted for Jeremy Corbyn instead.
Second, destroying Brexit (because she’s a Remainer and never got the point of it).
Third — an inevitable consequence of the second — splitting the Conservative Party more dangerously than at any time since the repeal of the Corn Laws, and thus, potentially ushering in the most left-wing government in British history.
These are crimes against the British people which can never be forgiven — nor should they be.
Theresa May has been an absolute disaster. And her failure has been a direct consequence of her character.
She’s not very bright (sorry Geographers, but it’s a thicko’s subject); she’s also uncommunicative, bone-headedly stubborn, with an unpleasant authoritarian streak and little ideological grasp of what it means to be a conservative.
God knows why she ever imagined she’d make a decent Conservative prime minister. But she obviously fancied that she did because according to Trevor Kavanagh, who surely must know:
This is the job she fought for with astonishing tenacity all her adult life.
Well, I don’t know about you, but there are quite a few jobs I would personally have liked to have tried in my life: guitarist with Led Zeppelin; body double for John “King Dong” Holmes; President of the USA; superstar DJ; SAS troop commander; hedge fund billionaire.
But what held me back was my realisation that, for various reasons, I wasn’t remotely suited to succeeding at any of them.
Theresa May appears never to have submitted herself to such a reality check.
She’s a bit like the passenger of a stricken jet airliner who offers to take over the controls after the pilot and co-pilot have been taken ill. But who forgets to mention that she doesn’t actually know how to fly.
No, Theresa. It really isn’t an impressive achievement to get to the position of Prime Minister if you are completely unsuited to the job. It’s not a sign of bravery, or determination, regardless of whether or not you’re suffering from a debilitating medical condition (diabetes). Rather it’s a sign that you are so selfish and dim and thoughtless that you put your frivolous political ambitions before the interests of the people you are supposed to serve; and because — inevitably given your character flaws — you destroyed your party, killed Brexit, and plunged Britain into turmoil in a way that almost no other Prime Minister could have done because almost no other Prime Minister could have been as utterly useless.
That’s why people hate you. And rightly so. Good riddance Theresa, if you ever decide to go. Which, knowing you, may yet be a very long time hence.