LibLInk: Alistair Carmichael: Theresa May’s liberal rhetoric a surprise

Alistair Carmichael has written an article for today’s Scotsman in which he matches up Theresa May’s words on entering Downing Street to her actions in government. Certainly we can all remember Margaret Thatcher’s warm words about bringing peace and harmony when she entered No 10, and we know how that turned out.

For many people there were three main reasons for being pleased to see Theresa May enter No 10 Downing Street last week. Firstly she was not Boris Johnson; secondly she was not Michael Gove and thirdly she was not Andrea Leadsom. As a father, I felt it could have been worse. Mrs May, a vicar’s daughter we are told, delivered a little homily for the benefit of the world’s media outside her new residence. The rhetoric was good. I know from five years in coalition government that getting some Conservatives even to acknowledge the inequalities of modern life can be difficult. Here we had a Conservative prime minister not just acknowledging them but promising to tackle them.

But her record so far doesn’t quite reflect this:

Time will tell whether or not Mrs May will lead a government where the actions will match the early rhetoric. I hope that she does. The problems of inequality are deep-rooted and complex. They produce a Britain ill at ease with itself, where people feel they have so little to lose that they are prepared to vote for Brexit, an act of political self-harm, just to get our political classes to pay them some attention.

The Prime Minister’s record in government thus far is as mixed as is the picture she has already presented of her premiership. As Home Secretary she was an “early adopter” of the cause of equal marriage when my colleague Lynne Featherstone started to promote the policy inside government. Likewise her work on tackling modern slavery and violence against women has been positive and a credit to her.

On the other side of the equation, however, there is a different story. Her time at the Home Office has been marked by the onward march of authoritarian and intrusive government and an ugly rhetoric on immigration. This is the woman who sent a fleet of vans out to some of the most ethnically mixed parts of the country with posters on the side warning anyone who is in our country illegally that they were going to be found and deported. It was dog whistle politics of the worst kind.

He also cites the example of the Snoopers’ Charter, vetoed by Nick Clegg but brought back as soon as the Lib Dems had been evicted from the building.

You can read the whole article here.

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One Comment

  • Richard Underhill 20th Jul '16 - 11:15am

    “Theresa May was not exactly an intuitive coalitionist”.
    The Chairman of the Cabinet subcommittee on Home Affairs was the Deputy Prime Minister, who had also been Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary.
    Watch out for sparks as the former MEP returns to the front bench today. The UK is giving up its right to the rotating Presidency next year.

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