This was make or break for Theresa May – a keynote Conference speech where the Prime Minister would finally regain authority over her fractured party. A chance to project her own inspiring vision of Britain to rival Jeremy Corbyn’s hugely popular Labour manifesto.
This was her big chance to show both the country and her party that, despite losing the Tories’ majority during a dreadful General Election campaign, she still had the desire and determination to fight on – despite the naysayers, pessimists, and potential back-stabbers.
However, things really couldn’t have gone much worse for the Prime Minister during her keynote conference speech.
The first half of her speech was tedium personified – uninspiring and monotonous rhetoric which mirrored her vacuous and policy-free yawn-fest in Florence last week. However, things certainly livened up in the second half – but for reasons that everybody in the party will want to quickly forget.
Theresa May’s speech was interrupted in deeply humiliating fashion as notorious prankster Simon Brodkin – better known as Lee Nelson – somehow managed to evade all Conservative vetting procedures to hand the embattled Prime Minister her P45. It was a literal career-ending document which, to add insult to personal injury for May, Brodkin said was from Foreign Secretary, and ill-famed would-be back-stabber, Boris Johnson.
Brodkin was then somehow allowed time to engage in a lengthy chat with Foreign Secretary Johnson in the front row, before finally being escorted from the building to howling cries of ‘Out! Out! Out!’ from the assembled Tory faithful. But, as Theresa May attempted to regain her composure after the unexpected and highly damaging interlude, it became obvious that things had only just started to fall apart for the Prime Minister.
As soon as she began speaking again, her voice stuttered. Then it dropped in volume and she began to cough – a coughing fit which would interject the speech for the next half an hour, bringing looks of anguish and pity from the gathered audience of Tory members and Ministers.
Looks of excruciating pity in the Conference Hall.
— Owen Jones🌹 (@OwenJones84) October 4, 2017
The audience did their best to spur May on as she strained to speak, giving her a generous standing ovation that allowed the Prime Minister to take several sips of water and accept another cough sweet from a handily paced stage hand.
The May speech becoming hard to watch. Excruciating.
— Andrew Neil (@afneil) October 4, 2017
However, some Cabinet Ministers were more willing than others to stand for May, with a deeply embarrassing video of Home Secretary Amber Rudd ordering a reluctant Boris Johnson to stand for the Prime Minister during her coughing fit has since emerged.
Amber Rudd telling Boris Johnson to stand for May pic.twitter.com/VGYeb5CroR
— Mollie Goodfellow (@hansmollman) October 4, 2017
And after several more minutes of excruciation, yet another thing went completely wrong – something that, in years to come, will surely become deeply symbolic of this entire, disastrous, May premiership.
Yes, the Conservative slogan – “Building a country that works for everyone” – situated on the stage directly behind May, and in full view of everyone watching on TV – literally, much like her entire keynote speech, started falling apart.
Firstly the ‘F’ fell off:
An F off for the Tories, there. pic.twitter.com/JATrqs9Zl1
— Owen Jones🌹 (@OwenJones84) October 4, 2017
Then the ‘E’ on the end of ‘Everyone’ decided to take an early bath:
And by the end of her speech, this was all that remained of the worryingly shoddy Tory-built slogan:
The Conservatives can't even build a stage that works for everyone. pic.twitter.com/OPHAAkdlX3
— Evolve Politics (@evolvepolitics) October 4, 2017
So, not only did did Theresa May fail to say anything whatsoever to appeal to those who are currently being drawn in by Jeremy Corbyn’s vision of hope, the Prime Minister’s horrendously dull rhetoric gave assorted journalists and news writers absolutely no material to distract attention away from the numerous deeply embarrassing car-crash incidents that littered May’s entire keynote speech.
There was a brief mention of extra house building, but nothing that would placate the millions of people currently lumbered with exorbitant rents and those living hand to mouth on precarious zero-hours contracts or in hugely insecure work.
There was absolutely nothing in May’s speech to appeal to students forced to pay excruciating tuition fees of almost £10,000, and no respite for graduates forced to repay tens of thousands of pounds of debt lumbered on their shoulders by the increasingly deluded Conservative Party.
There was nothing about tax evasion that costs the country’s coffers billions every year, and there certainly wasn’t anything about cutting deeply immoral Tory ties to Saudi Arabia’s brutal dictatorship who are currently being investigated by the UN for alleged war crimes in Yemen.
There was nothing. No hope. No vision. No inspiration. It wasn’t even an attempt at appeasment.
Theresa May’s speech truly will be a defining moment in our current political climate. It was the moment that exposed just how few real ideas the Tories have to try and make things better for the ordinary, disillusioned, impoverished people of this country.
The Conservatives have no ideas because our current reality is the one imagined by Margaret Thatcher in 1975. Our current system literally is the Tories’ end-goal, and they don’t think any improvements are necessary.
Because, in the Tories’ ideology, this current system is working for the people that truly ‘deserve it’ – the high achievers and the high earners. And, in their warped imaginations, the people who are in poverty, debt, or desperation, are there because they deserve it too – because it is their fault for not working hard enough. This truly is what the Tory party believes with their deeply divisive rhetoric of ‘aspiration’ – an ideology which we are now, finally, beginning to see the final death throes of.
May’s speech to Tory Conference will surely go down in history as the worst keynote speech by any British Prime Minister ever. But, after the howling laughter has died down, and after the inevitable Tory infighting engulfs the party and finally consigns Mrs May to the scrap heap of history, the overriding feeling from today’s uproarious farce is that this truly was the moment the Tories themselves – through sheer arrogance and pig-headed complacency – completely destroyed any hope of resurrecting public trust in Thatcher’s neo-liberal dream.
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