British Conservatives see themselves as on-deck captains steering the country through rough seas. They have expertise, they know the route and they are in command.
And yet, the comedy of errors which unfolded in Manchester yesterday speaks volumes. The Chancellor of the Exchequer handing the Prime Minister cough sweets on stage; a prankster issuing that same Prime Minister a P45; and the letters of the Party slogan falling from the wall one by one. CPC17 will go down in history – for all of the wrong reasons.
As their opponents adopt the politics of hate and the policies of the past, the governing party is proving time after time that it lacks the leadership this country requires. And this is no laughing matter. The themes which the PM addressed in her speech (housing, student debt, Brexit) are all issues which require leadership. Yet Theresa May is plagued by misfortune and is leaking authority left, right and centre. She lacks the support of Cabinet, the cooperation of Parliament and the respect of the EU. And there is also no single candidate, in either party, who is equipped to replace her.
We have a leadership drought at a time when we urgently need it. Not “charisma”, not someone who will “get the job done”. Britain needs a heavy dose of clean-shaven optimism that will cut through the dread and the doubt. Britain needs someone authentic, someone who is comfortable in their own skin and who has the courage of their convictions. Britain needs someone with a vision.
Nowhere in the field of British politics is such an animal to be found right now. The stench of ambition emanates from the corridors of power; acrimony reigns and old ideas have no time for new recruits. Meanwhile, our “friends” in Europe laugh at us, and our American allies feel increasingly laden with the sick man of the West.
Max Weber once said that ‘Only he who in the face of all this can say ‘In spite of all!’ has the calling for politics.’ Whoever you are, Britain needs you to find your calling. Otherwise, this ship will sail rudderless into the storm ahead.