Well it was nothing if not “brutal”, though I expect that will be spun to “pragmatic”. The conservative party abandoned any further flirtations with democracy, closed ranks and appointed Teresa May as leader and – from tomorrow- Prime Minister.
May will be and not May may be our Prime Minister beyond the end of this parliamentary term. For the moment, she will govern with a wafer thin majority but with absolute power, her majesty’s opposition having absented itself from felicity a while.
I don’t sense any enthusiasm for May not any popular demand for a further election, just a wish to return to business as usual and a wish not to have to concentrate on our politicians and their scheming.
I sense that what little authority Parliament had as the seat of political leadership has diminished over the past two months. Caught in the savage glare of social media, May was the only politician who had sufficient credibility left to merit the soubriquet “Prime”.
May’s first speech was encouraging. She has chosen to focus on corporate governance and has announced measures she wishes to introduce to curb the power of management and return companies to those who own and work for them. She has re-introduced stakeholder economics, a concept last heard of in the early Blair years.
While we watch a conservative Government eat at Labour’s table, the Labour party is eating itself. We will learn today if the leader of the opposition is allowed to stand for re-selection or will be banned by his own parliamentary party from representing the views of the rank and file membership. Corbyn is currently turning his attention on finding ways to imprison a former Labour minister, for his part in taking the country to war against Iraq.
It is ironic that as the sun sets on Tony Blair, his policies are championed by someone who will – till she has established herself – be seen as Thatcher II.
Now we will have the new cabinet, the blood is curdling. The key departments for pensions , DWP and Treasury and (to a lesser degree) Business and Skills are headed by participants in the BREXIT debacle.
It is possible we will see Duncan Smith back in the cabinet, it is possible that Hammond will replace Osborne it is possible that Crabbe and his team will remain in place. May is not Ledsbury, she knows her way around, knows who she can trust and who she can’t. We will have strong controls.
The gravity with which Theresa May is conducting her duties will make for a much happier City, there is already a sense of stability, apparent previously, only at the Bank of England.
If the return to stakeholder economics is more than just the curtain raiser, I will be encouraged. The state of corporate governance in this country is tawdry and the same can be said of financial governance in the City. There remains a hooligan culture in financial services which I see at work (and since I live in the City) out of hours.
The seriousness with which May has applied herself to the promotion of good behaviour may be her defining theme.
How we conduct ourselves , both in leaving the EU and re-engaging with our European and global partners on new terms, will be critical to our future economic prosperity. I ended up conceding that May was the only person standing who I could picture alongside Angela Merckel and Hilary Clinton. I am not simply referring to gender.
Let May be
Good behaviour, strong controls and a move away from the testosterone of male dominated politics, all this would be welcomed by the country.
As Stephen Kelly has been writing (on this blog), we need the hysteria to stop and business to return to “usual”.
Thankfully, we have not had to wait till the Tory Party Conference for a new Prime Minister. The Brexit fiasco was created to heal the Tory party but has done nothing of the kind. It has done great damage to Britain, British politics and the Conservative Party.
Ironically it has probably done even more damage to Europe and the Labour party.
We must now lick our wounds, count our dead and wounded and get back to normal. Let May be.