Like a broken record, Theresa May has been repeating that Britain under her leadership would be ‘strong and stable’ in comparison to the ‘coalition of chaos’ that would ensue under a Labour government. The rest of her party and the right-wing media have also been bleating this message – ‘two legs good, four legs bad’, anyone?
Here are five ways in which Theresa May is herding us towards a weak, unstable Britain.
Since the Tory government came to power, Britain has suffered instability and uncertainty. Former prime minister David Cameron plunged Britain into chaos with his decision to call an EU referendum, which was not done in the interests of stability, but in order to resolve internal conflicts within the Tory party.
Our divorce from Europe means a sluggish economy, a falling pound and a loss of potentially 100,000 jobs, not to mention the precarious position of EU citizens in Britain and British citizens abroad. To describe this as ‘strong and stable’ leadership is disingenuous and ignores the uncertainty faced by many.
Despite that strength of Herculean proportions, May has been hiding from voters; at one point she spoke at a campaign event that was publicly listed as a children’s birthday party, and which local residents were unable to attend. Time after time she chooses to speak only to Conservative supporters, denying entrance to anyone not already invited, and she refuses to participate in head-to-head television debates.
As one Guardian commenter notes, ‘May looks as if she would rather be anywhere but around real people.’ Her scurrying from the cameras is at odds with her position as a ‘strong and stable’ leader and preaching to the converted is not a strong approach to winning over the public.
Under a Tory government the vulnerable have suffered the most under austerity. Disability benefits have been cut and many have had their adapted vehicles taken away from them. Is it ‘strong and stable’ to impoverish the vulnerable and take away their independence?
Bereaved families are not exempt from the Tories’ ‘strong and stable’ approach to politics, with families already being left poorer after cuts to the Widowed Bereavement Allowance, on top of the now-infamous ‘dementia tax’ proposals in the Tory manifesto.
Austerity targets the most vulnerable in society, a type of scapegoating that shifts the blame onto those who are unable to defend themselves. Is this the behaviour of a strong and stable government, one that is, as Jeremy Corbyn notes, weak against the strong and strong against the weak?
Alas, a strong and stable Tory government has been unable to keep the Kingdom united and since Brexit there has only been chaos. Theresa May is disintegrating the United Kingdom; there is appetite for another Scottish referendum, adios Gibraltar as Spain is keen to gain the territory, and there is talk of Irish reunification. Even the Falklands are at peril. Whatever your views on which of these might be a good idea, it hardly represents stability.
May’s support of nuclear weapons is lauded as a ‘strong and stable’ approach to the world’s problems, yet a peaceful approach that seeks to resolve conflict through negotiation and not nuclear weapons, would secure more stability for this country. Aggression does not equal strength – there is nothing strong or stable about pandering to President Donald Trump and attacking innocent civilians, embroiling the UK in yet another conflict. Have we learnt nothing from the ‘strong and stable’ leadership of Tony Blair?
Meanwhile, the NHS, one of the most stable pillars of British society, is slowly being dismantled under a Tory government. A Conservative government is strong and stable for the rich, with generous tax cuts and the slashing of corporation tax, but disastrous for the NHS and welfare.
We have to see through the empty rhetoric of the Conservative party and the right-wing media that colludes with them. May and the Conservatives are presenting themselves as the only sensible choice in June, attempting to sway the vote in their favour, on the strength of alliterative soundbites, not on sound policies.