Don't be fooled by Theresa May's "Strong and Stable Leadership" claim | Joseph Cockcroft

Theresa May has been campaigning around Britain under the slogan, ‘Strong and stable leadership in the national interest’, yet looking at her track record, ‘strong’ is not the term I’d use. Whilst she did vote in favour of same sex marriage, she voted against same sex adoption and against reducing the age of consent for homosexual acts from 18 to 16. As Home Secretary, she personally oversaw the implementation of vans with, ‘Are you an illegal immigrant?’ emblazoned on the side, which were being driven around estates with large ethnic minority demographics. Worst of all, she voted in favour of repealing the Human Rights Act: one of the founding principles of our democracy. This includes the right to a fair trial, freedom of expression and, most importantly, the prevention of slavery and torture.

Her main rival, Jeremy Corbyn, has often been viewed as a poor leader – there have been times when I myself have been alienated by him, for example when he conducted Labour’s EU referendum campaign, which was unbearable to say the least. Yet he redeems himself slightly when you look at his voting record: he voted for all gay rights bills, against repealing the Human Rights Bill and for keeping a strict smoking ban, all of which are topics that have become integral to mainstream politics. Corbyn entered this general election on the back foot, with a foreign billionaire-run predominantly right-wing media that highlighted the Labour infighting, his MPs having to stomach their differences and begin the fight for their seats. Yet for the first week of election campaigning, his agenda has been dominating the media, having entered the general election with his policies firmly on the table, his supporters appearing out of the woodwork in a united fashion that hasn’t appeared since he became Labour leader. He’s gradually creeping up in the polls (emphasis on creeping), with his policies gaining traction as he campaigns on a power-to-the-people, anti-austerity platform, similar to how the Vote Leave campaign was conducted.

Let’s look at how Theresa May has conducted her first week campaigning across Britain. During her most recent speech at Netherton Conservative Club, she promised to be the party of ‘lower taxes’, conveniently leaving out the fact that the Conservatives had overseen the Bedroom Tax and the Value Added Tax (VAT) increase to 20%, both of which hit the poorest in society the hardest. This comes at the same time as large tax breaks being given to multinational corporations, the people that rake in millions, if not billions, in profit. Not exactly the party that claimed to have built “A country that works for everyone”.

The taxes are necessary to help Britain out of its austerity programme: seven years of austerity have crippled infrastructure – cuts of 20% in real terms have made Britain’s roads, according to the World Economic forum, of similar quality to the roads of Puerto Rico or Namibia. The NHS has had to make £22bn of cuts and all but one NHS trust in the whole UK is in major debt. In addition, over 17,500 secondary school pupils are being taught in classes of 36+ pupils, with all schools feeling the pinch as more cuts are to come.  University tuition fees in England and Wales are the most expensive in Europe and has the highest levels of student debt in the world, surpassing that of America’s, itself having a reputation for phenomenal degree costs.  What have these costs achieved? The national debt has increased by £555 billion since 2010 under the Conservatives, not decreased as promised. In the last 70 years, the Conservatives have (on average) borrowed £35.5 billion a year, compared to Labour’s £26.8 billion a year. Theresa May needs to realise that austerity is a failed economic principle because it assumes that public demand for a public service just disappears, but in reality the demand continually increases. This leads to public services having to borrow money to maintain the high level care.

Labour's proposed £500 billion investment plan may seem ambitious, but it’s only to set the public services so many of us use every day straight. Making sure that public assets are properly funded and not sold off to private firms for profit is good for everyone because less money needs to be borrowed in order to make up for a shortfall in public expenditure by the government. The Conservatives have consistently failed to meet their own targets, despite having to redefine child poverty and employment in order to manipulate their statistics, which in itself is a pretty good example of how atrocious the Conservatives act in government. Theresa May wishes to be responsible for an austerity plan that doesn’t work, a free market economy that only benefits the richest few whilst over 150,000 people are living off of food banks in Victorian-style poverty. She wants to hold a general election on the grounds that Parliament was opposing her on Brexit, even though two-thirds of Parliament voted for triggering article 50.

For these reasons, it’s my view that only a Labour government, as a majority or in coalition with the Lib Dems, the Greens or both, can hope to truly stand up for working class people. Why? Because Labour is built on people, with thousands of volunteers donating to help make the world a better place, as opposed to a select few Conservative donors who contribute millions a year. It’s important that you stand up against the Conservatives by voting for Labour, or the Lib Dems or the Greens if they’re more likely to win in a swing seat: the Conservatives need to be sent a clear message that austerity doesn't work and that they don't represent the people, they never have and they never will.
Don't be fooled by Theresa May's "Strong and Stable Leadership" claim | Joseph Cockcroft Don't be fooled by Theresa May's "Strong and Stable Leadership" claim | Joseph Cockcroft Reviewed by Student Voices on 22:10 Rating: 5


  1. I would like to take issue with many points in this article;

    Firstly, you highlight the Prime Minister's voting record on gay rights. Yes, it is far from perfect - but on her appointment as Minister for Women and Equalities in the Coalition Government, she stated that she had changed her mind on these issues. I am gay myself - I not only forgive her. but am glad she has changed her mind. A key quality of leadership is knowing when you've made a mistake, and owning up to it (instead of remaining attached to a non-pragmatic, hard-left ideology - *Jeremy Corbyn*).

    Secondly, you speak of the immigration implementation vans. Whilst perhaps there could’ve been a more ethical means by which illegal immigrants could’ve been deterred, are you by implication supporting illegal immigration instead? Should she as Home Secretary have taken no action to defend the citizens of this country? It was her job.

    Thirdly, you speak of how she voted in favour of repealing the Human Rights Act. However, you are wholly misguided in stating that she voted against “the right to a fair trial, freedom of expression and, most importantly, the prevention of slavery and torture”. The Conservatives are not against these human rights, they merely seek to introduce a new Bill of Rights (which you have conveniently missed out), with the same rights and protections as the current act, however, it will merely make it easier to deport terrorists (as currently, the HRA grants them far too many rights to remain within the UK). In addition to this, Theresa May was the Home Secretary who introduced the Modern Slavery Act (the first legislation of its kind in Europe), with tougher penalties to put slave masters behind bars where they belong, with life sentences for the worst offenders. One of her first actions as Prime Minister was to announce further measures aimed at combating slavery, with £33 million pounds of the aid budget being assigned to creating a 5-year International Modern Slavery Fund focused on high-risk countries.

    Like many Corbynistas (and Donald Trump supporters I might add), you’re fast to blame the “predominantly right-wing media” for his woes. Has it ever occurred to you that the media’s job is to report the actual facts of the day? It is down to individuals to decide whether or not to believe it. There is no establishment conspiracy here, the media is simply highlighting his incompetence and inability to lead.

    I am also glad you have put an emphasis on his “creeping” up in the polls, as the latest ComRes/Sunday Mirror poll taken between the 19-20th of April but the Conservatives 25% ahead of Labour. Whilst we must be sceptical of polls, and nothing must be taken for granted, I do question your premise that his ideas are having any impact on the electorate?

    You point out that the Conservatives introduced the spare room subsidy (not “Bedroom Tax”), and increases on VAT, however, you conveniently leave out measures introduced to compensate for this. Notably the increase of the personal tax allowance (raised from around £6,000 to £11,000), which has helped take some of the poorest people in our society out of income tax all together. In addition to this, the national living wage (which will reach over £9 an hour by 2020) also helps increase the living standards of those just about managing.

    You criticise the national debt, yet the Conservatives had no choice but to continue borrowing? Unless you want them to make even more cuts to spending, which you have yourself just slated? It doesn’t add up.

    Lastly, I feel that your last point is deeply patronising. You seem to personify all Conservative voters as rich, despite the fact that at the last election over 11 million people voted for them? Your sweeping generalisations will do nothing more than to alienate voters, and at the end of the day, demonstrate how Labour’s narrow vision and intolerance will loose them this election.

    1. Thanks for your comments.
      Firstly, on the issue of gay rights and equality, I didn't know that she'd changed her mind but, like you said, I'm glad. However, her voting record remains chequered and other examples include voting against measures that prevent climate change as well as against making it illegal to discrimate against someone on the basis of caste.
      On the point of immigration implementation vans, I don't condone illegal immigration, I was making the point of putting vans with "Are you an illegal immigrant?" emblazoned on them was deeply offensive to many people.
      On the point regarding the Human Rights Act, I apologise if I inferred that Theresa May was in favour of slavery but I fail to see a legitimate point for repealing it: it does the job perfectly fine on its own. On the subject of the terrorists being deported, the Human Rights Act doesn't affect the chances of a terrorist being deported, but how they are treated whilst in custody. Regarding modern slavery, there have been cases of people in the UK working for sub-contractors of cheap high-street brands such as Primark who are paid well below minimum wage and having to work over 60 hours to make ends meet. This makes them, in effect, slaves. And this isn't a one-off either, this is happening in several major cities such as Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle.
      On the subject of "predominantly right-wind media", over 65% of the UK media is owned by just three individuals: Rupert Murdoch, Lord Rothermere and Simon Fox, all of whom have made large contributions to the Conservative Party. Granted, their papers have criticised the Prime Minister, but they're often more interested in highlighting infighting within the Labour Party. Personally, I believe that those three individuals have way too much power and influence over people's opinions and that legislation should be introduced to limit the amount of the media empire any one individual can have.
      Whilst what you say is true about the personal tax allowance increase, ESA was cut by £30 a week, not to mention the 51000 specially converted vehicles for disabled people that were subsidised by the government that are also being cut. One the subject of national minimum wage, it is based on a target to reach 60% of median earnings by 2020, not what employees need to live. The real living wage is in fact much higher, not to mention this doesn't affect people aged 18-25.
      The Conservatives had to continue to borrow money because their public services were in debt due to government cuts, which no one forced them to make. In 2010, the UK was officially out of a recession so the need for austerity wasn't so valid. The Conservative party put forward austerity as a form of economic stimulus and when they got elected, they made the cuts. In 2013, George Osborne choose not to relax austerity policies even though UK growth was high because to do so would be to admit that austerity was in fact bad for growth and wages in real term
      It's true that all Conservative voters aren't rich, but only 29% of people who voted Conservative earned below £20,000, compared to 51% of people who voted Conservative who earned over £70,000. It's also worth pointing out that of all those who voted Conservative, 47% owed their home outright, a commodity which is very expensive and at a time when home ownership is at its lowest point since the 1980s. Compare this to 45% of Labour voters on social housing. Or look at members: the Conservatives have only 150,000 members, down 80,000 since 2005. Compare this to Labour's 517,000 members. The 100 top Tory donors are all CEOs, executives or multi-millionaires - whereas Labour crowdfunds projects. Within 24 hours of the general election being called, the Labour Party received £292000 in donations from over 100000 people.

  2. Totally agree!!!!! :)))))
    Excellent comment!!!!!


Share your views here! But read our Comment Policy first, found on the about page.

Powered by Blogger.