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Theresa May Saved Her Tears For Herself

The Guardian

 

She cried the wrong tears during her resignation speech, many people immediately said. Theresa May has been an dreadful prime minister, deeply unsympathetic and utterly tone deaf. Missing any chance to actually compromise. Anyone who has met her will tell you that she doesn’t really do human.

 

When she took up the poisoned chalice of delivering Brexit, we assumed it was a duty thing, a Christian thing, a God thing, wondering how she got up every morning, walking into meeting after meeting where everyone in the room hated her, and thought that she was not up to the job. This has been called that dreadful catch-all word “resilience”. Actually, it seemed to me more delusional.

 

May’s limited emotional range – contempt for Labour and a poor imitation of Thatcherite resoluteness – amounted really to a kind of absence. Was she ever there, this woman clearing up a mess, stooped with a burden of her own choosing? Was she fully present?

 

Thatcher cried, too, after being toppled, but at least she believed things. May has never seemed to have an ideology beyond cruelty to immigrants. Her Home Office was inhumane. The pain it inflicted is still being felt. May’s disconnect was between what she said she wanted to achieve and how she behaved. She did not compromise, or ever exhibit one iota of emotional intelligence. The job was beyond her.

 

But it is also beyond the petty narcissists who surround her. May was right to say that the Brexit vote was a vote for profound change. And it is also self-evident that such a change cannot come from the Tory party. The language of healing comes too late. This is the woman who orchestrated a “hostile environment” for immigrants but whose own party became a hostile environment for her. Now, although a dead duck prime minister, she still has to endure a state banquet with Donald Trump when he and his entire family entourage arrive in Britain next month; this invitation was yet another idiotic thing May agreed to.

 

So, yes, maybe she was crying venal tears: for herself alone, for the collapse of her own fantasy. I don’t know. I understand that there is little forgiveness in public life and that to show any sympathy for this wretched woman somehow signifies a lack of commitment to radical causes.

But I did feel something when she lost it in public, because she has lost to the right, to all those who care not for vulnerability, the hard men, with their daft militaristic talk.

 

I care not for the self-regard of her vicious colleagues now talking of her dignity. Her collapse has been a long time coming but it is real. This is not about a woman blubbing. It’s much bigger than that. She is broken, because we are broken. Whether you feel her pain or not, the pain for all of us is about to get worse.