Oh, Mrs May, I know you have developed the politicians’ habit of saying something with feigned conviction in the apparent belief that saying it will make it so, but I’m not too keen on a leader who lives in fantasy land.
The country is divided. The referendum demonstrated that half the people think one thing and half the people another. Nothing has happened since to change that.
The referendum also uncovered an underground reservoir of bile and hatred that has since inundated the landscape of political discourse and not yet receded. It showed that none of us has the resources to debate the differences between us and to forge solutions around which we can unite.
This General Election campaign seems like to make that worse not better. Even in announcing the decision to call an election, Mrs May demonstrated that. Instead of acknowledging that members of parliament, Commons and Lords alike, have a constitutional job to challenge the activity of the government to improve the quality of legislation and decision making, she cited the actions of the other political parties and of the lawful upper chamber as examples of their failing to come together and, thereby, of their doing the wrong thing. Who’s playing the game of politics now, Prime Minister?
Shame on you, Mrs May. You set the scene for the Daily Mail’s use of the word “saboteurs” on their front page on Wednesday. I applaud that, when asked on BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme about the tone of that, you said you “absolutely” did not agree with it and are quoted as saying: “Absolutely not, politics and democracy are about, of course, people having different opinions, different views.” But we, the people of the United Kingdom, need you to do more than protest after the event. We need you to lead. We need you to demonstrate that you truly believe what you say.
We need you, and everyone else in public life, to stand against the flood and to debate the substance of what people are saying rather than attacking their right to say it.