Theresa May’s failure to emerge into the spotlight under anything but the most stage-managed of circumstances is starting to draw attention. As well it should, given the storming start to his campaign made by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. There’s something almost Pythonesque about Mrs May and her party’s failure to engage in anything even remotely resembling a ‘free speech’ environment:
Theresa May’s campaign launch in Bolton was intensely stage-managed, even down to the angles permitted to TV cameras – but even that couldn’t prevent it being dire, dry and uninspiring. As the WirralinitTogether blog observed, she even had to bus in Tory councillors from miles away just to fill the space behind her:
And even they looked bored to death.
May is depending on the media helping her divert attention from the fact that she only appears in artificial, controlled settings – but some have already started to break ranks. May visited a GSK factory where she addressed a group of employees who couldn’t even muster any enthusiasm even at a free break from work:
The pained expressions – and some of them are her entourage! In case those faces weren’t eloquent testimony enough, Channel 4 journalist attempted to ask some of the employees what they thought about May’s visit and speech. He pointedly observed how they responded:
"We're not allowed to answer your questions," say workers at factory being visited by Theresa May pic.twitter.com/pZWV68bo0N
— Michael Crick (@MichaelLCrick) April 21, 2017
This puts beyond question not only that Theresa May’s planning team had been in touch with the plant’s management before the visit – as you’d expect – but that they had agreed strict instructions to be given to employees that they were not allowed to comment in any way.
If Theresa May had confidence in her ability to perform, to appear credible, she wouldn’t feel the need to behave in this way.
Of course, Mrs May’s supporters will echo her response to Jeremy Corbyn’s challenge during PMQs (Prime Minister’s Questions) last week on why she was afraid to debate him on live TV.
May attempted to sidestep this by lying – a double-lie, in fact:
I would point out to the Right Honourable Gentleman that I have been answering his questions and debating these matters every Wednesday that Parliament has been sitting since I became Prime Minister.
As the SKWAWKBOX observed just after the end of PMQs:
But she hasn’t. There’s a reason it’s called ‘Prime Minister’s Questions’ and not ‘Prime Minister’s Answers’ – and Theresa May exemplifies it even more than her predecessor and did so again today. Corbyn made mincemeat of May on the crucial issues of poverty, the NHS, education, broken promises, the Tories borrowing more since 2010 than every Labour government in history and more.
In spite of the media’s attempts to cast it differently, and even in the artificial and rules-bound environment that allows a Prime Minister to be evasive without being called to account properly, Corbyn routinely trounces May every week, forcing her to resort to smears and jibes almost instantly – and today he was statesmanlike, incisive, confident and coherent.
Here’s a short video clip that typifies the gulf in class and statesmanship:
If you missed #PMQs you won't have seen Jeremy Corbyn destroy Theresa May, again. pic.twitter.com/9sQDaNv3wN
— Rachael Swindon (@Rachael_Swindon) April 19, 2017
Many media outlets are still, of course, either dutifully ignoring May’s cowardice or even spinning it for her. You can’t stop pigs rooting in the the muck, it seems.
But whatever they tell you, this is the reality:
Chicken May keeps running away – because anything else will hurt her.
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