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The woke-washing of Theresa May

How the hated former PM became a tribune of the establishment.

Tim Black

Tim Black
Columnist

Topics Politics UK

So Theresa May is to step down as an MP at the next General Election, after 27 years in Westminster. The former UK prime minister and home secretary told the Maidenhead Advertiser on Friday that she wants to leave frontline politics in order to start getting things done – or, as she put it, to be able to ‘focus on causes close to my heart’. Which is quite the indictment of her time in politics.

Not that her achievements or lack thereof seem to matter much to our national media. No, they’ve been issuing kindly tributes to an admired ‘public servant’, a ‘loyal constituency MP’, a ‘decent person’ who supposedly leaves with her reputation ‘intact’.

While hardly gushing, these notices are still pretty remarkable. After all, they come from the same liberal-elite organs that once trashed May on a near-daily basis for much of her time as prime minister.

Almost from the moment she replaced David Cameron as Tory leader and PM in July 2016, declaring ‘Brexit means Brexit’, she was in the firing line of the Remainstream media. It didn’t matter that she herself had campaigned for Remain. She was now leading a government nominally committed to enacting the will of the electorate – a will to which our cultural and political elites were thoroughly opposed.

May’s cause was not helped by the fact she was a truly atrocious prime minister. She famously didn’t even come close to getting Brexit done. Her withdrawal deal would have kept Britain in the EU’s single market in all but name, binding us to follow Brussels’ rules. This estranged the Leave-voting majority just as much as it did the Remoaner elites.

To top it off, she had all the political charisma of an answer-phone message – something that became painfully apparent during the disastrous General Election of 2017 when the ‘Maybot’, as she was then dubbed, lost the Tories their working majority.

Her political past as home secretary also came back to haunt her during her time as prime minister. In 2018, it emerged that Caribbean migrants who had been living in Britain since the 1940s and 50s had, from 2012 onwards, been deprived of employment and NHS care. In some cases, they had even been deported, despite being given leave to remain in the 1970s. And it was all because of the government’s ‘hostile environment’ rules, introduced when May was home secretary. This stipulated that all migrants must have official documentation – something these men and women did not have or legally need when they first arrived here. The Windrush Scandal, as it has since become known, rightly outraged the nation.

Little wonder that when May finally announced her resignation as PM in May 2019, it was greeted with cheers, especially among the right-thinking classes. ‘Good riddance’ ran the headline on the Guardian letters page.

How times change. Since then, our elites – on both the centrist and woke wings – have warmed to May. Embraced her, even. Not because of any serious re-evaluation of her terrible time in office. Nor because of anything positive she has done since. No, they’ve warmed to her because she’s parrotted their pieties and voiced their prejudices.

Since returning to the backbenches, she has indulged in their favourite anti-populist pastime of Boris Johnson-bashing. She led MPs’ criticism of his Covid rule-breaking in January 2022. She accused him of ‘shattering’ people’s trust in politicians in her pompously titled 2023 book, The Abuse of Power.

Meanwhile, she has also doubled down on her commitment to so-called trans rights and gender self-ID – having promised to ‘streamline and de-medicalise’ the ‘process for changing gender’ as PM in 2017. Indeed, so keen has she been to ingratiate herself with the right-on, she proudly declared that ‘I am woke’ on Times Radio last year.

And it’s worked. By espousing every elite platitude going, such as ‘men can become women’ or ‘Boris Johnson has destroyed politics’, she has rehabilitated herself in the eyes of the very establishment who shunned her as PM. And just like that, all is forgiven. What’s the wrongful deportation of black Britons between friends, eh?

We’ve seen other public figures undergo a similar woke-washing process, cleansing their sins by attacking Brexit, Boris Johnson and other manifestations of populism. Iraq War-mongering New Labour spin-doctor Alastair Campbell turned himself into a hero of centrist dads everywhere by relentlessly attacking Brexit. And the architect of austerity, George Osborne, transformed himself into a darling of posh Remainers by denouncing the EU referendum result. And so to this pantheon of rehabilitated political disasters, we can now add Theresa May.

The woke were right the first time when they bid her good riddance.

Tim Black is a spiked columnist.

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Politics UK

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