Theresa May: Unfit for Prime Minister

I expected more.

Theresa May’s campaign “re-launch” was billed as the only way to regain control of a (clearly failing) Conservative campaign.

After failing to run an efective campaign on her previous two re-launches, Conservative HQ was hoping for third time lucky.

They failed.

After a speech on Brexit aimed at striking a positive tone, Theresa May reverted to type in her closing remarks; again, choosing to emphasise “it’s either me or Jeremy Corbyn.”

Having spent most of her speech outlining a “12 point plan” for Brexit negotiations, she conveniently left-out any details, and later implied Jeremy Corbyn “has no plan for Brexit.” (One hour later, Jeremy Corbyn unveiled his Brexit plan, with detailed policy points around job protection, workers rights, investment, wages and immigration).

In a post-speech Q&A session, May refused to answer questions directly, leaving reporters such as Channel 4’s Michael Crick and Sky News’ Beth Rigby questioning their relevance.

But for the promise of “a brighter future,” Theresa May still couldn’t bring herself to defend her proposals.

Scheduled to appear on the BBC’s “Woman’s Hour” this morning, Theresa May has refused to attend, sending Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening, instead.

Having refused to appear on the BBC’s televised debate earlier this week, Theresa May has now refused to appear on the same programme Jeremy Corbyn attended last week.

Maybe she didn’t fancy getting grilled in the way Jeremy did, for forgetting a figure from his 188 page, fully-costed manifesto. Or perhaps she simply doesn’t think Woman’s Hour listeners are important enough.

Whatever the reason for this Conservative no-show, one thing’s clear: the only leader worth having is one who is willing to be held accountable by the public, and willing to be examined and challenged on their policies.

Theresa May has failed this test on a number of occasions during her campaign and, as Yvette Cooper pointed-out last summer, Theresa May “hides when things go wrong,” helping her “survive as Home Secretary.” But, importantly, “if you are Prime Minister – the buck has to stop.”

I don’t want a Prime Minister who refuses to be held accountable. I don’t want a leader who avoids scrutiny at any cost. I don’t want someone who takes the public for granted; who would rather lose a general election than face the public.

Theresa May could send me to Disney World for a month and I still wouldn’t vote for her.

She is – fundamentally – unaccountable. And when you’re unaccountable – when you avoid scrutiny – when you are – clearly – scared of the public: You’re dangerous.

And I don’t want a dangerous Prime Minister leading Brexit negotiations. I want a Prime Minister who has the guts, decency and sense of responsibilty to negotiate a fair Brexit deal which protects our jobs, living standards and public services; a Prime Minister who will always be answerable to the public, who enjoys public interaction; who defends the journalists who interrogate them when they make a mistake.

I want Jeremy Corbyn to be my Prime Minister so that I know – no matter what happens – he has my best interests at heart: and he is not afraid to be held accountable by the millions of people who elected him.

So, vote Labour on June 8th. Not just because they have the policies to improve our lives – but because, even if you don’t agree with everything Jeremy Corbyn says – you can be sure he’s willing to discuss them, be challenged on them, and be answerable to you, the public. He will never shy away from scrutiny. Corbyn’s campaign – and indeed his 30 years in Parliament – have proven that.

This election is – increasingly – about who is willing to take responsibility for their actions – and who is willing to be held accountable by the voters.

So, on June 8th; vote for accounability, vote for responsibility and – above all – vote for change.

“The First Rule of Leadership is to Show-Up.”

Theresa May doesn’t think we’re worth it. She doesn’t want to talk to us. She doesn’t believe in public accountability.

She’d much rather hide in Downing Street, making the most of her final week: because that’s the way the polls are heading.

After projecting a Hung Parliament and with Labour just four points behind the Conservatives just 30 hours ago, YouGov released a second poll yesterday putting Labour on 39%, just three points behind the Conservatives.

If Labour continues to climb the polls at this rate, Labour is on-course for a majority.

No “Coalition of Chaos,” no “deals with the SNP,” but an outright majority. A stable government. A fair Brexit. For all.

Given Labour’s rise in the polls, last night’s debate was an opportunity; not so much for Labour, but for Theresa May to show she isn’t afraid of her own shadow and respects the political process of a modern democracy. Like it or not, TV debates are part-and-parcel of the political process, allowing voters to hold politicians to account in a direct, largely unfiltered, space.

The fact the leader of the Conservative Party was too afraid to show-up led to some bruising attacks from the six other Party leaders. But Caroline Lucas (Green Party) stole the show: “I think the first rule of leadership is to show-up.”

This was by far the most popular line of the night both in the studio audience as well as, it seems, via social media.

Indeed, if there was a clear winner of last night’s debate, it was Caroline Lucas. Her sincerity, passion and empathy will have won a lot of hearts – including my own – but whether this is enough to make a significant challenge in the polls is another issue.

Whether people decide to vote Green after this is not too important: the key point is viewers recognised the significance of Theresa May not being there. And they didn’t like it.

Coverage of last night’s debate in today’s news programmes has been focused on the Prime Minister’s refusal to take part and exchanges between Jeremy Corbyn and Amber Rudd (in Theresa May’s place).

Unless people watched the whole of last night’s debate, the snippets they see throughout the next couple of days will be of Jeremy Corbyn versus “Not-Theresa-May.” It shouldn’t matter too much that Jeremy didn’t have a great night. What matters is that he didn’t have a bad one, and it is Theresa May who looks untrustworthy, haemorrhaging credibility.

Corbyns’ team spent the rest of the night re-strategising the final week of the campaign (given recent poll changes), and I expect we’ll see a greater focus on Conservative-held marginals over the next week.

Having called Theresa May’s bluff (an important ability in the Brexit negotiations), Jeremy Corbyn is looking increasingly “strong and stable,” while the Conservative leader is looking increasingly, as Angus Robertson put it, “weak and wobbly.”

The Prime Minister is widely recognised as a liability in a number of areas. It is only a mater of time until people recognise this applies to Brexit as well.

Getting out-manouvered by Labour, her own Party – even her own self – is far from an ideal start to the Brexit negotiations.

The next TV event is on Friday at 8:30pm, BBC One, with Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn answering questions from a studio audience in York, hosted by David Dimbleby.

Much like the Sky News/Channel 4 Q&A earlier this week, Jeremy Corbyn should emerge victorious, which in-turn should narrow the polls further and maybe – just maybe – put Labour into the lead with less than a week to go.

We have a lot of work ahead of us. So let’s not let-up, let’s work hard and let’s make sure it is Jeremy Corbyn – not Theresa May – heading into Downing Street next week.

(For more on campaigning and what we can do, see my article here).