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Here there are differences between the two of them. Margaret Thatcher in 1975 was the unfinished article, but she had four years of opposition to acquire the art of leadership. During this period she also read some Hayek and was effectively tutored in politics and economics by such advisers and supporters as Keith Joseph, Alfred Sherman and T. E. Utley. She developed a political philosophy, though the term “Thatcherism” was not widely used until the 1980s.

Theresa May, by contrast, has been thrown in at the deep end. Politically speaking, she is a work in progress. From May 2010 until July 2016, she was an extremely hands-on and preoccupied Home Secretary. She fought skirmishes with the police, strove unsuccessfully to bring down immigration, deported the “hate preacher” Abu Qatada, refused to extradite the autistic hacker Gary McKinnon to the United States, introduced a Bill against modern slavery, grappled with the inefficiencies of the Border Agency and the Passport Office, and maintained a beady eye on security. This tough and often obdurate lady didn’t have the luxury to fashion a political philosophy, even if she had been minded to do so. It is true that in 2013 she delivered a speech in which for the first time she alluded to the need to help communities which had been left behind. According to Prince, the Cameroons were less than overjoyed by what they regarded as an unwarranted excursion outside her brief, calculated to advertise her leadership credentials. I’ve been told by a member of her current staff that Number Ten subsequently discouraged such interventions.

Like Thatcher, Theresa May established a reputation as an efficient despatcher of business with whom other ministers tangled at their peril. (Prince tells us that she had repeated clashes with George Osborne over her attempts to curb immigration, and after a wealthy Chinese businessman was strip-searched at Heathrow she was on the receiving end of a diatribe from the Chancellor in Cabinet. She never forgave him and, on becoming Prime Minister, sacked him with apparent relish.) But unlike Thatcher in 1979, she is still some way from being able to append an “ism” to her name. Apart from Brexit, where she has made her position admirably clear (“no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain”) we are mostly in the dark, as indeed she herself may be, as to what kind of country she would like this to be.

Yet she has been making up for lost time. On becoming Prime Minister last July she delivered a truly remarkable speech outside Number Ten that could probably not have been made by any previous Tory leader. In invoking black people treated harshly by the criminal justice system, white working-class boys overlooked at school, and those born poor who “will die on average nine years earlier than others”, she sounded much more like a Labour leader than a Conservative one. These themes were taken up again at the Conservative Party Conference last October when she declared that “the government I lead will be driven not by the interests of the rich and powerful but by the interests of ordinary, working-class families”. She has spoken in a similar vein on other occasions, and will unquestionably do so again.

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amcdonald
April 19th, 2017
1:04 PM
It`s good news Theresa May isn`t doing tv debates. The other party leaders are professionally jealous of her and can only rattle their bins noisily. George Osbourne is actually leading the retreat of the anti-Mayists. The majority of voters will give Theresa May her mandate.

amcdonald
April 18th, 2017
5:04 PM
After her announcement for June 8 Theresa May has my vote. 17.4 million Brexiteers may well have already decided to vote for her.

amcdonald
April 3rd, 2017
10:04 PM
George `Tampon Tax` Osborne claims the tax will raise £15 million to fund women`s organisations. £250,000 is going to the anti-abortion propaganda organisation Life. It`s deeply shameful and a disgrace. Osborne could pay the £15 million himself. Who in the Tory Party thinks it`s a great idea to tax the periods of girls and women ? Perhaps Theresa May could answer Suzanne Moore at the Guardian. Osborne is now also editor of a London junk mail freebie. It was his cocaine addicted banker friends in the City that caused the crash/robbery. He shares in their delusions of adequacy. The Brexit liberation needs no Osbornes in the Tory Party.

Arnie Ward
April 3rd, 2017
11:04 AM
In the opening paragraph Glover could have replaced the phrase "before going down from university" with a single word understood everywhere, "graduating". Such a quaint and anachronistic turn of phrase.

amcdonald
March 30th, 2017
4:03 PM
Theresa May is indeed mistress of all she surveys. Thanks to 17.4 million Brexiteers she`s now Prime Minister. The Remnants will never forgive us for destroying their illusion that they are the progressives and rebels. They are historical junk merchants. It doesn`t matter if Theresa May voted Remain. She`s now sincerely enacting the will of the people as Prime Minister. She should replace student nurse loans with grants. She should initiate a council house building project. She should fund Womens Refuges. Materialist solutions. At present which political party is even capable of delivering a pizza ? The glorious, chaotic dawn and magnificent Brexit victory was a civil war without muskets. No one at the BBC will say so. The artist Anish Kapoor is heartbroken in his Remainia. But it`s him and his set who are the small minds, small hearts (the Art Newspaper). The Ponces (as Julie Burchill has it). It`s entirely up to Theresa May and her team to prove the Tory Party can be other than `the Nasty Party`. She`s up for it and will probably get my vote in a General Election.

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