Tom Richmond: There is no alternative… May’s job is safe for now

Theresa May - who will succeed the Prime Minister?
Theresa May - who will succeed the Prime Minister?
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THE latest survey of Tory activists made encouraging reading this week for Theresa May as her walking holiday in
 the Alps comes to an end – no clear successor has emerged who could do a better job.

Provided she didn’t decide to call another election, the calamitous mistake she made in April while hiking in Snowdonia, ‘none of the above’ has increased its lead by four points in the race to succeed Mrs May as Conservative leader and Prime Minister.

Pointing to a lack of confidence in senior Cabinet figures, its rating now stands at 34 per cent while the best of the rest is Haltemprice and Howden MP David Davis. Twenty per cent of respondents favour the Brexit Secretary to lead the country while Boris Johnson – remember him? – is a remote third on nine per cent.

What does this mean?

First, Mrs May needs to start asserting some authority before a potentially troublesome and turbulent party conference that will be critical to her longer-term survival chances.

She, and her Ministers, need to get on with the job and start pulling in the same direction, whether it be on Brexit or the other great policy scourges. There have been too many mixed messages and she should begin by recommitting the Government to the Northern Powerhouse after the policy was ditched by her former aides.

Second, the survey by ConservativeHome – the most respected and credible of political websites on the centre-right – suggests that none of the potential candidates have broad appeal. If they can’t win over Tory activists, 
they’ll have even less of a chance in 
those key marginals that fell to Labour 
in June.

This matters. Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn exceeded expectations because he appealed to younger votes and his party utilised social media to surprising effect, even if some of its policies, like the abolition of tuition fees, represented fantasy economics.

Third, the next Tory leader needs
 to be the person who has the broadest support in the country, and not just their party. It could be that Tories skip a generation. However it should be the person who not only comes up with
the most inspiring and credible policy vision, but also proves their mettle as a team player.

IT is both humbling, and sobering, to think that the NHS would already have ground to halt if it wasn’t for the army 
of carers, paid and unpaid, looking after the elderly and loved ones.

Yet who is caring for the carers whose number equates to a tenth of the population? A survey this month by Leeds-based NHS Digital reveals that not only are a significant proportion of these unsung heroes suffering financial hardship as a result of the sacrifices they’re making, but many are desperately lonely.

This cry for help needs to be heard. For some, it’s a soul-destroying existence. Not only do they feel duty-bound to spend every waking hour with those in their care, but they’re also being entrusted with people suffering from acute forms 
of dementia which limit, still further, 
the opportunity to talk about the physical, mental and emotional 
burden that they are facing with 
such stoicism.

It is said civilised societies 
are judged by their treatment of the 
most vulnerable. It’s time, therefore, for this test to be applied to the caring profession.

BEFORE it is too late – and too costly – to stop HS2, has anyone considered whether it would be more prudent to increase capacity on existing North-South routes?

At one stage, I was told that high-speed rail was required because there was no scope to increase the number of trains trundling in and out of London King’s Cross each day.

Yet, judging by the scale of the engineering work taking place at Waterloo Station, an equally confined terminus, anything appears to be possible in this day and age.

I, for one, remain of the view that the national priority is a high-speed link from Hull to Liverpool – and a service from Newcastle to Bristol via York, Leeds, Sheffield, Derby and Birmingham.

AN apology to the residents of Horsforth. My car was one of the vehicles polluting your environment the other night.

This was entirely caused by Leeds Council being unable to programme the traffic lights at the Outer Ring Road roundabout so sufficient vehicles could pass at any one time.

It’s about time the authority, whose transport policy remains permanently stuck in reverse gear, realised that its obsession with traffic lights, and road humps, can cause more harm than good to the environment. Switch them off, rip them up, empower motorists to be responsible – and quadruple the penalties for those whose recklessness endangers others.

Simple.

AN acquaintance points out Harold Macmillan’s diary entry in June 14, 1951, when he noted of Winston Churchill: “He (WSC) has used these days to give a demonstration of energy and vitality.

“He has voted in every division, made a series of brilliant little speeches, shown all his qualities of humour and sarcasm; and crowned all by a remarkable breakfast at 7.30am of eggs, bacon, sausages and coffee, followed by a large whisky and soda and a huge cigar.

“This latter feat commanded general admiration.”

I don’t think he’d get away with it in today’s politics, do you?

tom.richmond@ypn.co.uk