By Simon Basketter
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Tories have a new leader in Theresa May – but their party’s still divided

This article is over 5 years, 6 months old
Issue 2512
Theresa May showing her progressive side after an immigration raid in 2014
Theresa May showing her progressive side after an immigration raid in 2014 (Pic: Number 10/Flickr)

The chaos in the Tory party keeps on giving. David Cameron was set to leave Downing Street as Socialist Worker went to press.

Theresa May was announced as Tory leader on Monday after Andrea Leadsom dropped out of the contest.

Before the Tory leadership election descended to a coronation one Tory MP said, “Brexit killed Cameron. Gove has killed Boris and shot himself in the head at the same time.

“The class of 2001 has gone to the scaffold. It feels like a revolution, not a referendum.”

Quite a lot of Tories and some of their newspapers are getting excited. They think that, by being a woman, the new Tory leader will be Margaret Thatcher risen from the dead.

Andrea Leadsom had been competing for the part of Thatcher II. Her campaign manager Iain Duncan Smith complained of “black ops” to stop her.

So they took to the streets with a surreal comedy march on the House of Commons.

But on Monday she pulled out saying the last thing the Tories needed in these difficult times was people voting on things.

In her somewhat brief campaign May presented herself as not quite the rabid right winger she clearly is. She has suggested cracking down on “crony capitalism”.

She promised, “We will put ourselves at the service of ordinary, working people and we will strive to make Britain a country that works for everyone”.


And she announced plans to put a couple of workers on company boards—an idea she nicked from former Labour leader Ed Miliband.

May worked for the Bank of England before becoming a financial consultant.

That gave her the insight to say, “It is apparent to anybody who is in touch with the real world that people do not feel our economy works for everyone” because it was “ordinary members of the public” who “made real sacrifices after the financial crash in 2008”.

While part of a government that has brought in ruinous cuts and austerity on workers, May has consistently voted to increase poverty.

She voted against curbing payday lenders, and against banking reforms.

May recently complained, “Taxes for the lowest paid went down, but other taxes, like VAT went up. Fixed items of spending—like energy bills—have rocketed.”

May has consistently voted to raise VAT since 2010 and voted against acting on energy bills in 2013.

The Tories will now pretend to be united for a while. But the splits, crisis and chaos are just under the surface.

This makes them as fragile as they are vile.

She may, or she may not

May claims “housing matters so much” and apparently supports the need to build more houses. But she voted against building 100,000 affordable homes in 2013.

She demanded, “Doing something radical and the full disclosure of bonus targets and the publication of ‘pay multiple’ data—that is, the ratio between the CEO’s pay and the average company worker’s pay.”

But on 12 October 2011, May voted against more jobs for young people funded by a tax on bank bonuses. May said she would, “crack down on individual and corporate tax avoidance and evasion”.

In April 2016 she voted against proposals intended to reduce tax avoidance and evasion.

But May is consistent in her racism. She has overseen harsh legislation and brutal deportations.

She now says that the right of EU nationals to stay in Britain can’t be guaranteed. And she has promised to curb migration to the “tens of thousands”.

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