Hunt the next leader? – therein lies electoral death and destruction of the Conservative Party?
Well, well, well, last October a post was published here “It is said that Prime Minister Theresa May is planning a Cabinet reshuffle – will that save her skin? that outlined the problems our embattled PM Theresa May faced that had stopped in its tracks her planned Cabinet major reshuffle to fully demonstrate her authority, show power, and destroy any disloyalty or criticism of her leadership. So, the names in the frame to be changed just carried on as before, didn’t they?
The media were widely briefed to peddle the news that this week that May WOULD make big changes in a shake-up of her Cabinet, not only to make it fresh-looking in time for the Local Elections in June, but to show she had regained credible control and was a Prime Minister fully in charge, following her success in getting the EU to move-forward to Trade talks last month.
Now, the last point came somewhat as a surprise to those of us who are ‘BREXIT negotiations’ watchers, because the reason the EU talks have moved forward is simply down to the fact that May completely caved-in to ALL the EU’s outrageous demands (when they had made zero concessions), and utterly capitulated on her commitment to the British people that “NO DEAL IS BETTER THAN A BAD DEAL”. That showed us all that PM May is anything BUT in control of ANY BLOODY THING, let alone this Country’s destiny, surely?
Sure enough, on Monday there was the toing and froing at Number 10 Downing Street associated with Cabinet reshuffles. However, instead of the expected dazzling spectacular display of political fireworks as orchestrated by a strong PM, we watched in amazement at a pyrotechnics malfunction fiasco led by a loser of a PM that delivered a damp squib– no major change to the Cabinet.
As usual and disgracefully as normal, the government leaked change plans in advance, and this time those included sidelining ‘snake-in-the-grass’ Europhile Chancellor Philip Hammond (who continues to try to sabotage BREXIT) by elevating him to deputy-PM [for god’s sake!], giving the ‘in ongoing crisis’ NHS a break by moving-out Jeremy Hunt, and pretending to give education a revamp by moving-on Justine Greening. Plus, to get rid of her past challenger as Leader (and one who had branded her approach to BREXIT as ‘disastrous’), Andrea Leadsom. Also amongst the intended victims was lackluster Business Secretary Greg Clark. Those proposals however simply demonstrated just how weak May is, as it amplified her inescapable inability to ditch her perceived dross.
This game of musical chairs was set to be played with typical bad timing by the PM, as it coincided with the worst NHS winter crisis in years and the appearance of further damning evidence that the health service is falling apart at the seams – the ambulance service in freefall with dying people unattended, ambulances simply queuing for hours outside hospitals’ A&E departments, an unprecedented number of A&E Units put on the highest level of alert, hospitals in lockdown and corridors blocked by the sick on trolleys, 55,000 operations cancelled this month creating the biggest backlog in NHS history, (in addition to the 25,000 that have to be disgracefully cancelled each year anyway due to lack of beds), and all routine hospital appointments put-off until next month.
[One has to question the mental capacity of the decision makers who shut down A&Es (1 in 6 face closure or downgrade in next 4 years), amalgamate hospitals & facilities, close wards (to increase “efficiency”), shut beds (down from 144,455 to 130,417 in past 7 years – when 30 years ago there were 300,000!), refuse to train enough doctors & nurses, or promote a throw-away culture (like metal crutches, walking frames, and sticks – and all else such as washing bowls)].
We don’t know anything about May’s hour-long chat with Hunt about allowing him to continue in Government with a new job, but what we can certainly see the outturn – Hunt told her in no uncertain terms to “get-stuffed”, he wasn’t going anywhere and he was staying in charge of the NHS. Consequently, the whole May reshuffle plan collapsed like a houseof cards, didn’t it?
The power of patronage is a precious one and for a Prime Minister to publicly demonstrate that she is utterly incapable of enacting that is an astounding demonstration of weakness, isn’t it?
Before these events, Putney MP Greening, Education Secretary, honourably made it clear that she was not going quietly, when she had seen incompetent or massively disloyal people, not only allowed to stay in Cabinet, but given even bigger expanded briefs [like Hunt just has]. So, on the day, she quite rightly ‘quit’ and acceded to her PM’s authority in such matters as who served as what, didn’t she? [a “damaging loss” to government perhaps?].
Not so, Hunt, eh? HE decided and NOT May that he would stay in post and that Cabinet changes could wait until HE emerged as the NEW PRIME MINISTER [fat chance, eh?] when May is given her marching orders. [Don’t be fooled by those suggesting that Hunt simply showed his dedication to the job of Health Secretary, will you?].
May simply caved-in to previous Remainer Hunt’s demands, didn’t she? Now, that MIGHT have been understandable if Hunt was a powerful beast at the heart of Government, one with a big power base in the House of commons with major friends and allies there, a favoured son of party backers, or even a popular politician with mass appeal in the Country, but that certainly does NOT apply to Hunt, does it?
The NHS is without doubt a massive Tory weak spot, which after 5 years of Hunt, now has the most hated Health Secretary in charge ever, and that is combined with the igneous fact that he is also the most disliked frontline politician of ANY party – beating into a cocked-hat the likes of his predecessor Andrew Lansley (who steered the Government’s controversial NHS reforms through Parliament), or David Cameron, George Osborne, Philip Hammond, and Jeremy Corbyn, at their worst.
The glaring truth is that the NHS is ‘no longer able to meet the standards in its constitution’, as the chief executive of NHS Services has just warned, and despite the fact that such a crash & burn disaster has to be put down to Hunt, Prime Minister Theresa May in an unprecedented public display of a lack of authority, has unbelievably ignored his abject failure as Health Secretary.
[Reshuffles simply DON’T establish Prime Ministerial authority and Theresa May has now just prove that, and shot herself in the ‘other’ foot – matching her blunderbuss injury of calling a snap General Election last June]