Tim on May’s speech: Tories are reckless, divisive and uncaring

In response to the Prime Minister’s conference speech in Birmingham, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said:

Regardless of the rhetoric, the Conservatives have moved to the right. The Prime Minister’s words about a pitch to the centre-ground are utterly divorced from her party’s actions over the last few days. The Conservatives are reckless, divisive and uncaring. They are the fence-building, snooping-on-your-emails, foreign-worker-listing party and that is something that most people will be revulsed by.

Her opening speech prompted the pound to hit a 31-year low. Our NHS needs a new deal to secure its future and yet we heard nothing, and the Chancellor shelved George Osborne’s confused and damaging spending plans but has left us nothing but a blank sheet of paper.

I was surprised though that the Prime Minister did not take the time to thank the one person who helped create her agenda, not David Cameron but Nigel Farage.

That’s why the Liberal Democrats are needed more than ever. We are the real voice of opposition to the Conservative Brexit Government and the only party fighting to keep Britain open, tolerant and united.

* Newshound in training. I'm sweet and full of mischief, just like my stories.

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  • If ever there was a case of, “Say one thing, but do another”, this was it….

  • paul barker 5th Oct '16 - 7:14pm

    Her memorable phrase about The Liberal Elite (thats us) “people who belong everywhere, belong nowhere” reminded me of Hitlers idea of “Rootless Comopolitans.” May is not a conservative, she is an Authoritarian Populist in the Trump/Putin mould. May is a thousand times worse than Thatcher.

  • When it comes to decency, I can’t fault Tim Farron, but to be frank, he has no idea of the revolution which is taking shape in plain view.

    As a Red Ukipper, I have never voted Tory, but fairly soon I’ll be ready for a new home. Ukip in its present configuration, will hold together for at least 2 more years, simply because we have to be vigilant that T. May means what she says, on Brexit. Many think [wrongly], that Ukip is finished, but we are clear that Brexit must complete, as per the legitimate referendum result, or all political hell will break loose. T. May is very aware of this,.. even if you are not.?
    Ukip is also very aware that it must evolve or die. Ukip caught the zeitgeist of ‘the forgotten’,.. the ones that Blairites, ‘Oranges’, and a panoply of other Third Way Centrists,.. boorishly ignored for 25 years,.. and T. May clearly gets that also. May’s speech today could well have been made at a Ukip conference. And I guess that was the point. She knows that Labour, Lib Dems, and SNP, are not the threat,.. not her target audience.
    Her speech today was impressive, and I say that as someone who utterly despises the usual Tory line. If she is true to her word, and for now, I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, she will landslide in 2020. Indeed, I’ll go further,.. Whoever takes ‘the forgotten’ under their wing,.. will landslide in 2020.

    ‘The forgotten’ have at last found a voice, and they refuse to be ignored by the cosy mainstream, any longer. Their political conduit, might be a ‘new Ukip Peoples Party derivative’, or maybe something else that doesn’t even yet exist.? Who knows the future.? I have a great affection for true liberals, but I frankly despise the supercilious pontificating of Liberal Democrats. Make of that what you will.

  • I seriously doubt that this speech is more than empty rhetoric, but if it turns out to be true then it’s better than Osborne and Cameron for a few more years.

  • I thought her speech was good, but it was funny to see the Tory boy element of the audience all looking a bit muted ….

    J Dunn – in what possible way does Nigel Garage represent the newly self aware ‘forgotten’ – are they all well educated stockbrokers?

  • Jayne Mansfield 5th Oct '16 - 9:14pm

    @ JDunn,
    Well you got one thing right – Tim Farron’s decency.

  • Barry Snelson 5th Oct '16 - 9:16pm

    Sadly in the same way that Trump can fill huge auditoria with cheering crowds, few of whom, I suspect, are also billionaire property tycoons.

  • Peter Bancroft 5th Oct '16 - 9:18pm

    Given the natural Lib Dem constituency who will have been repulsed by Theresa May’s decision to try to make a new inward looking UK which is characterised by hostility to immigration and an interventionist govt, was it sensible that his first line was “The Conservatives moved to the right”? Surely whether or not Theresa May is more “right wing” than Cameron is somewhat academic. What matters is that this new direction is appalling.

  • Eddie Sammon 5th Oct '16 - 9:54pm

    Theresa May’s big weakness seems to be who she promotes: Amber Rudd, Boris Johnson, Liam Fox. We could also be cheeky and accuse her of Ed Miliband economics, but I still don’t think she’ll go that far. The Tories will likely support small businesses a lot (brexit excluded).

    I wasn’t as outraged as some over Amber Rudd’s comments because the aim is to ensure British workers aren’t getting undercut, but they should still be attacked for making foreigners feel like 2nd class citizens when they least need it.

  • Andrew Whitchurch 5th Oct '16 - 11:23pm

    Amber Rudd might as well have just read chapter 2 of Mein Kampf whilst Theresa May’s speech will go down in my house as the ‘sod off’ speech. She basically told me and people like me that we don’t belong anywhere, as though they have some kind of monopoly on community (which is a bit rich coming from a Tory).

    As for J Dunn’s views, I think I’d rather let loose the political hell of annoyed kippers than leave the EU. Once the un-British rioters are banged up then they can’t vote.

  • Katharine Pindar 5th Oct '16 - 11:40pm

    Pigs will fly before the Tory Party becomes ‘ the party of the workers’. Popular as Teresa May’s speech is now and will appear, Tim is absolutely right to separate words from actions and condemn Tory activities and intentions. May was Home Secretary for six years in a government which ignored the declining living standards of ordinary people, caused misery through Osborne’s benighted (albeit unsuccessful) pursuit of deficit reduction at the expense of people haplessly dependent on benefits, and heedlessly attempted further to enrich the already rich despite the vehement protests of the Lib Dem ministers. Our job now as Lib Dem activists is not to go on endlessly debating how best to adhere to Europe – something determined for the present by Tim and confirmed by Conference – but to show up the falsity of Tory promises. This is just a new version of ‘ We are all in it together’, which even Iain Duncan Smith finally jibbed at. The ‘new’ centre ground here defined might have been learnt from our own principles and vision, but spoken by a Tory it rings as false as a hammer on silver. We have a new fairy story to show up here, and we need to shout its falsity before the Witney by-election and henceforward.

  • Philip Rolle 6th Oct '16 - 12:28am

    How should libertarians vote now? Deserted by Lib Dems, sacrificed by May on the altar of populism and the least said the better about the rest.

  • Stevan Rose 6th Oct '16 - 12:49am

    I don’t think May is turning to the right. The opposite, she is gunning for the centre ground to consolidate Conservative gains from this party and maybe peel off some on the Labour right. And she’s coming across very personable. We should be very wary.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 6th Oct '16 - 2:54am

    I agree with those who say , as Tim does, in effect, fantasy and reality are not the same ,and the correct stance is to expose the hot air as being just that , look at air , there is n’t much to see!
    But , a few words to consider carefully. The quote of the three word description, above in the comments by Tim, as criticism, notice “”reckless, divisive, uncaring”, is found too in that of our Home Affairs frontbencher too. Are we going to have sound bites or strong policies? We must not be kneejerk. Tim can be nuanced too. If we are , and we all know we r’e that , to show just how we are the party of unity and the mainstream, we must not sound like the party of the kneejerk bleeding hearts!

    Read Stevan Rose and see a man fed up with aspects of us , lately , and a strong and sensible believer in the mainstream, and , understand the appeal too, of May, let us not let her and some of her co horts, grab our territory , let us show ownership , freehold , not , leasehold !

  • Stevan Rose.
    I don’t think she going for the current centre ground. I think she is aiming for a sort of community driven governmental Conservatism that rolls back on Laissez Faire. Some of her ideas seem to be based Germany’s post war industrial strategy. Interestingly, I read an interview with Redwood where he is critical of the bedroom tax and cuts to disability benefits. Maybe the aggressive economic Right of the Conservative Party was actually represented by Osborne and Cameron and what May represents is a kind of post “economic liberal” attempt at building a sense of Nationhood. That’s if it’s not just hot air, which is what I suspect it really is.
    The problem with talk of the middle ground is that it is redefined according to the polarities on either side. Leaving the EU has effectively destroyed the old middle ground as defined in the era from Thatcher to Blair’s third way, with Cameron as the failed also ran. The problem for the “Left” is it was redefined by a kind of soft neoliberalism which emphasised idealistic, almost utopian. internationalism and identity politics above making things nicer for the voters of Britain. There’s a palpable sense of loss and lack of direction. Interestingly, the mainstream progressive narrative of the “left behinds” seems to have been borrowed from the evangelical Christianity associated the Rapture, where the godly ascend to heaven and the lumpen masses are “Left Behind”. confused, rejected and tormented.

  • The purpose of the Conservative Party is to monopolise power and to maintain and maximise financial and other benefits for the privileged. They have to reach out to a much broader constituency than this in order to win elections but they developed the techniques for doing this in the late nineteenth century as the electoral franchise expanded. John Dunne’s “forgotten” date from the Thatcher led destruction of Britain’s manufacturing base and the Tory nostrum that wealth will “trickle down”, an idea freighted with contempt for the working class voters who, with false consciousness, vote for Conservative governments.

  • Katharine Pindar 6th Oct '16 - 8:57am

    Lorenzo, absolutely we should not let May ‘ grab our territory’, but I think Tim is entitled to be forceful in defending it. Now we should perhaps invite Owen Smith to join a Progressive Alliance with us, since on the Today Programme earlier he also called for actions not words, and claimed the Centre Left ground which we of course have thoroughly fertilised and planted already!

  • A Conservative conference “All Change” speech, from a new leader….Now where did I hear that before? Ah, yes, David Cameron…
    Labour finish their conference with “The Red Flag”. Conservatives should use “Three Wheels on my Wagon” as each promise disappears…

  • Bill le Breton 6th Oct '16 - 9:15am

    Agree, @tonyhill
    I thought yesterday it was a speech that Disraeli might have written had he been leader of the Tories today.

    It is the combination of ‘nationalism’ with ‘Keynesian’ that is so toxic.

    Mentally, I quickly drew a graph with Immigration/openness on the y axis access and degree of neoliberalism on the x access.

    We cd we on a great place on that chart – with little of no competition for political space. To me we could position ourselves on a Vince Cable spot. Note that is dif from Clegg and I fear to say that it is different to where Tim has us at present (because of European policy).

  • Roger Billins 6th Oct '16 - 10:20am

    What was significant was the way in which Tory ministers on Radio and Television ignored questions about increasing public sector pay and reversing tax cuts for the rich-because the reality will be very different from the rhetoric.

  • Nigel Jones 6th Oct '16 - 11:19am

    @Bill le Breton. I like your reference to Vince; he has written two sensible pieces on LDV calling on us to listen to people who want some control over immigration while seeking to get maximum economic benefits. He also spoke a few years ago about the politics of identity, which we Lib-Dems are inclined to ignore and unless we address that clearly, we shall not grow to the extent needed to gain national power.
    As to Amber Rudd and Theresa May, they are appealing to views which, we must admit, are supported by large numbers of people and are based on gut feeling not evidence. In that regard, many refuse to believe the evidence, especially when it includes lots of statistics.
    Thus, they both ignore the lack of evidence that immigration is the cause of our own people not having jobs or that it is all about low skilled jobs; they ignore the evidence that grammar schools would do more harm than good for our children.
    Is our task to convince younger people on the following themes ?
    One, that we can have a strong national identity while simultaneously cooperating with other nations for the good of the whole world. Last night on Newsnight, Melanie Philips argued strongly that we either concentrate on a nationalist approach or put efforts into international institutions, saying we cannot do both; many people would agree with her.
    Second, that within our own nation we believe in unity with diversity, where people live as a far as possible side by side with their differences and where cultural change happens naturally and gradually rather than expecting people to conform even to our Lib-Dem ideals. Diversity includes differences in intelligence and talents as well as ethnicity, culture and faith. That is why it is wrong to have segregation in our education system.

  • Are our Tories starting to sound and act like the now thankfully defeated Harper Canadian Tories?

  • Stevan Rose 6th Oct '16 - 1:17pm

    “understand the appeal too, of May,”

    As members of an anti-Tory party it is to easy to dismiss May and everything she says and does as part of a right wing plot and not understand why others can see it. The overwhelming majority of voters, 98%, are not members of anti-Tory parties. Mrs May, in interviews, speeches, and in Parliament does not come across as nasty, uncaring or reckless. Rather she is displaying a reasonable, competent, professional appearance, with none of the Hyacinth Bucket snobbery of our previous female PM, with whom she will be compared. She’s the state educated vicar’s daughter. I find myself almost falling for it until I recall her Home Office tenure and the fact that you don’t become PM without a truly ruthless streak, willing to give orders that will result in the loss of lives. But most people will not snap back to reality. I don’t think she is anywhere near as bad as Thatcher because she doesn’t have the impenetrable self-belief in herself as a modern Messiah. She won’t be hated with a vengeance like Thatcher. But she is most certainly far more dangerous because most people know someone like, their GP, their solicitor, their head if HR at work – she’s “familiar”. I think she’s making a terrible tactical mistake with hard Brexit as that is only acceptable to a minority. Soft Brexit would have given her a majority support. Nevertheless, she will be tough to beat and we’d be better off targeting her entourage who will be unable to contain their natural urges.

  • David Garlick 6th Oct '16 - 5:49pm

    I watched as the succession of poor speeches unfolded and concluded that if that is the best the Tory’s have to offer the country is in deep trouble. This as always was no ‘conference’ and as the lectures unfolded in such a tedious fashion it is little wonder that the Party faithful dropped off for 40 winks and missed the messages.
    T May is locked in the past in her approach and yet manages to conjure up a vision for the future which is designed to allow all the ‘problems/difficulties/turbulence/bumpy roads to be someone else’s fault. Some of the problems identified as needing action were spot on, the solutions on offer unachievable or in some cases just frightening.

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