Charles Moore Charles Moore

The Spectator’s notes | 20 April 2017

Also in The Spectator’s Notes: Mrs May’s iron discipline; women in politics; the princes’ grief; robots

The fact that nothing leaked about Mrs May’s snap election tells you much of what you need to know about her. It shows how iron is her discipline and how close her inner circle (so close, in fact, that it is a triangle rather than a circle). It suggests that she takes neither her cabinet nor her party into her confidence. It shows that if she wins the general election, her control of her administration will be much tighter than that of Margaret Thatcher (which was surprisingly loose) and even than that of David Cameron (which was surprisingly tight). Finally, it shows that if she loses, or gets a result no better than the present parliamentary arithmetic, she will find herself friendless.

Mrs May’s decision is not very welcome, and I had thought she would think it too risky, but it makes sense — obviously because of Jeremy Corbyn and, a bit less obviously, because of public attitudes to her. She has brilliantly convinced people that she is a straightforward, unpolitical person who doesn’t descend to political games. This is untrue. She is, however, a person without childish vanity, celebrity hunger or media obsession. She benefits from a big cultural change, which descends from Mrs Thatcher, via all sorts of others — Angela Merkel, Ruth Davidson, Nicola Sturgeon. Women are now seen as stronger, more real and less silly than men. This is an old folk wisdom, but it only recently became the orthodoxy in politics. It is hard to beat.

I suppose opposition parties feel they must say that Mrs May is trying to get a majority for ‘hard’ Brexit. The opposite is the truth, however. One of the problems she has with her existing small majority is that it gives leverage to out-and-out Brexiteers (or, as some prefer to call them, the head-bangers).

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