By: Jimmy Allen, Student Voices writer
As Theresa May accepted the Queen’s invitation to form a government on Wednesday 13th July, the Conservative Party stretched their lead over Labour to “2-0” as Cameron humorously put it in his last ever PMQs.
In fact, I would argue that the score should be perhaps weighted even further in the Conservatives’ favour. Ever since its creation, Labour has portrayed itself as the progressive party representing the working classes fighting for their interests in a political world dictated by the elites. However, as Theresa May enters No. 10 as the second female prime minister the UK has ever had, the Conservatives can certainly lay justifiable claim as being the Progressive Party when it comes to gender and background.
Margaret Thatcher, the daughter of a green grocer made history when she won the 1979 general election becoming the first female prime minister in the UK’s history. Needless to say whatever view one holds of her, she and her administration undoubtedly made her mark on history.
To this day, despite Labour possessing a number of prominent female MPs none have been able to achieve ultimate leadership of the party. In recent years, Harriet Harman has been flying the flag admirably performing as the ‘Acting Leader’ of the party whilst Labour searched for a successor to Ed Miliband.
Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall both ran unsuccessful campaigns for the leadership in 2015. However, the eventual winner’s subsequent dire performance has presented the opportunity for Angela Eagle to chance her luck this month by launching a challenge against him.
Ed Miliband claimed that he wanted to be the first Jewish prime minister; he had obviously forgotten about Benjamin Disraeli. Born into a Jewish family, Disraeli’s parents had him christened believing he would stand a better chance in life. Disraeli chose to embrace his Jewish roots and often remarked on his Jewishness in the Commons. He would go on to become prime minister twice in the 19th century, whilst coining my favourite political quote as he reached ‘the top of the greasy pole’.
Lady Astor stood for the ‘Coalition Conservatives’ when she became the first female MP to take her seat in 1919. Labour didn’t elect their first female MPs until 4 years later.
But don’t get me wrong, Labour has made significant strides. It is just that we have yet to see their cream rise right to the top yet. The Guardian wrote last year that the 2015 general election witnessed women make up 29% of the intake; the Labour party itself consisted of 43% women. Cameron’s infamous ‘A-Lists’ helped the Conservatives adopt more female candidates in elections in the years running up to it.
It is clear that much work is still required with the number of non-white MPs sitting in Parliament. In 1987, only 0.6% of the MPs were non-white; this figure has steadily risen to 6.6% today.
Theresa May’s cabinet certainly causes intrigue and encouragement (Boris Johnson aside). The Telegraph states that 70% of her team is state educated; in particular Justine Greening becomes the first Education Secretary to attend a comprehensive school. May has appointed 8 female MPs to Cabinet posts, the most ever for a Conservative government and equals the record set under Blair. Sajid Javid and Priti Patel also make up the non-white MPs in her team.
The Labour party has made more regular strides into the realm of progressive politics, but it is ultimately the Conservatives that have made longer strides that have counted for more with greater lasting impact.
The Progressive Conservative Party Reviewed by Student Voices on 11:39 Rating: