The country’s political leadership ranges from ineptitude to invisibility.
Theresa May’s government lunges from crisis to crisis. One has to have some sympathy for her: every time it looks as though she is getting on the front foot – reclaiming an opinion poll lead over Labour, making progress in the EU withdrawal talks, displaying international leadership on Syria, boasting of rising employment and wages – almost like clockwork a setback appears just a couple of days later, almost all of her own making.
Dealing with this White House is difficult for any government and a military attack is surely the toughest decision any leader has to ever contemplate. The tragic fire at Grenfell Tower could have happened at any time. These are challenges any Prime Minister could be faced with but time after time we’ve seen that Mrs May and those around her do not know how to get a grip on a situation.
The botched social care policy launch last year was an early sign of things to come, with a confused party scrambling to contain the meltdown. The handling of Grenfell presented a government that doesn’t know how to show it cares. The confidence-and-supply arrangement with the DUP undid in one fell swoop the ten years of work David Cameron spent modernising the Conservative brand.
There was finally a moment this week when it looked as though the government had got a grip on the Windrush fiasco. Theresa May apologised to the Caribbean heads of government face-to-face and Amber Rudd acknowledged what many already knew: The Home Office needs to change its focus from policy back to the individual. Of course it wasn’t long before this progress was lost. Mrs May’s quip at PMQs that the decision to destroy the Windrush landing cards was taken by Labour in 2009 quickly unravelled when it became clear the final sign-off came when she was Home Secretary.
No matter how bad things become for them, the Conservatives can at least take comfort by looking across the Dispatch Box.
Jeremy Corbyn has completely misread the public’s mood on Russia’s attacks whether in Salisbury, Syria or online. He has shown he is more inclined to believe Russia’s sarcastic retorts than HM Armed Forces and Security Services for no reason other than that he has spent his life as an establishment contrarian.
His lack of leadership in tackling bullying and harassment of his female MPs should shame him and his shadow cabinet. His abject failure in understanding that he is making Labour’s antisemitism crisis worse shows his lifelong errors of judgement continue.
The Labour party must at least be grateful that they get some airtime. The Liberal Democrats have spent their lives waiting to take the space in the centre-ground of British politics. Today’s young haven’t been this repulsed by the Conservatives or felt so uncomfortable in Labour for decades. Perfect conditions for a Lib Dem resurrection! Under any other leader it probably would have been. A nasal-voiced, 74-year-old Vince Cable, tarred by serving in the ConDem coalition, has unquestionably failed to inspire a Lib Dem renaissance.
This leaves the uncomfortable question: Does a country get the political leaders it deserves? If so, someone needs to have a word with Britain. The good news for any budding politicians is that right now the bar is so low anybody with some mettle could make it to the top of their party. And good luck to them – they’re needed.