The BBC’s The One Show is meant to make you cringe. It’s the show’s ‘unique selling point’. It’s doubtful that whichever Tory staffer or adviser arranged Theresa May’s appearance with her husband on tonight’s broadcast meant that to be increased by their participation.
If they had kept it to 5 minutes, they might just have got away with it. Unfortunately, by putting them on view for pretty much the whole half hour, however, someone at CCHQ made an enormous mistake.
For those first five minutes, May just about pulled off presenting herself as more human than her usual political persona – but after that it was downhill fast.
Even the first five minutes were not unproblematic for the Tory leader, though. A huge part of Jeremy Corbyn’s appeal is his authenticity – put him on the sofa even in so twee a setting and he would be the same as he is in his political campaigning. He’s the same all the way through – and he’s not acting, he just is.
May also made the mistake of laughing normally at some inane comment from the hosts – but that only showed how fake and embarrassing was her attempt to ‘laugh off’ the points that Corbyn scored off her weekly in PMQs:
The fact that Theresa May was – to a limited extent – different from what we usually see simply suggests inauthenticity. So if the point of tonight’s appearance was to make her appear more human and engaging, it failed. It made her appear less real – and even less trustworthy than she already was.
As the show progressed, the utter remoteness of May’s life experience and worldview couldn’t help but appear. Some examples:
- when asked to discuss fashion, her anecdote was that a woman in a lift once told her that May’s designer shoes had got her into politics – she didn’t name the woman, which is probably just as well, as it’s hard to imagine a more facile motivation
- much was made of May’s childhood in a vicarage, but Philip let slip that she met ‘everyone in the village’, showing that May’s father was no inner-city vicar and that she enjoyed a cossetted upbringing indeed
- when asked why she had entered politics, May confessed that she’d wanted to be an MP since she was a child. What kind of child wants to be an MP?!
The studio was specially set up for May’s appearance, presumably to hide angry protestors the show must have been expecting. As a Twitter user pointed out, the studio windows normally allow a view to the street outside:
But for May’s visit, they had been blocked off:
Similarly, almost every question was the equivalent of underarm ‘dolly pat’ bowling to a child – but even in this ‘climate-controlled’ setting, May’s brittle snappiness showed as soon as a question was even slightly probing.
Ironically, the moment at which the attempt to humanise May disappeared well and truly down the toilet was when the producers were trying to lay it on thickest – with a series of photographs and video footage of the young Mays. The pair met at Oxford University and a black-and-white image of the two of them set an unsettling tone:
Anyone can take a bad picture, but the expression and the cast of the features drip privilege and a sense of entitlement – and there’s an almost sinister undertone that foreshadows the vicar’s daughter who’d be ‘intensely relaxed’ about making changes (as Home Secretary) designed to intrude on the privacy of UK citizens, about routinely lying to Parliament about NHS spending, about overseeing cuts and law-changes that deprive millions of citizens of vital rights and essential support.
Mr May’s presence was clearly intended to soften May’s presence, but the show’s producers showed him as a typical young Tory at a Thatcher-led Conservative Party conference in the 80s:
And when May was asked about his fashion sense, he answered ‘Well, I like ties and jackets’.
Philip May is now an investment banker married to a Tory prime minister. This is anything but a ‘normal’ couple and their experience and interests are light-years distant from that of the people that their party damages every time it’s in government.
The final nail in the coffin of the attempted humanisation of Theresa May was that she couldn’t help falling into the nonsensical soundbites she’s been widely mocked for parroting to absurdity.
‘Strong and stable’ made an appearance twice. The ‘me myself and I’ theme of May’s campaign surfaced again. But the lowest point came when she claimed,
I think it’s important that I’m open with [people] and tell it as it is.
The last vapours of pretence that this was Theresa May ‘keeping it real’ evaporated with that statement.
Here’s Theresa May ‘telling it as it is’ in response to Andrew Marr’s questioning earlier this year whether she knew about failed Trident tests during the parliamentary debate on the renewal of the nuclear missile system:
And here she is answering Marr on why nurses – whose pay has been capped since the Tories entered Downing Street – are having to use Foodbanks:
May’s claim, with a straight face, that she is known for telling it like it is put beyond any doubt the fact that this was nothing more than a performance, with all the artificiality that word suggests.
The attempt by May’s campaign handlers to humanise her and show her as a real live human being rather than a classic, self-obsessed, Establishment politician ‘crashed and burned’ so badly that it incinerated itself into ashes.
The mainstream media are now trying to spin this car crash as a success. Share this so the public see it for what it was.
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