As I put fingers to keyboard Mrs May continues to sit tight at number 10. The 48 letters required for a vote of no confidence have not as yet materialised – and as time marches on, it doesn’t feel like they will.
A week is a long time in politics, Harold Wilson once said, and last week must have been one of the longest in our PM’s career. But despite the circumstances she came out fighting – placing PR at the heart of her approach. Well played (although I’ll leave the cricket analogies there). She is a lot stronger for it, in my humble opinion.
Europe has been the dividing line of the Tory party for decades, and Brexit was never going to be anything different.
A referendum that has divided families as well as parties, it was always going to ignite debate, opinion, and an insatiable media appetite – the very essence of true democracy itself, some might argue.
A ‘Remainer’, it should be recalled, May was the one who stood up to the plate when her predecessors were running to the hills. Just not cricket (sorry…). Whilst not necessarily a first choice, nor indeed a natural leader, nevertheless the women has shown commitment and resilience in abundance it has to be said.
‘Leadership’ she stated in a press conference following last week’s pivotal cabinet meeting, ‘requires one to make the right decisions – and not necessarily the easy ones’. Never a truer word said. Hear. Hear. The iron fist now in full swing.
I tuned into LBC for her interview with Nick Ferrari the following morning, digressing from my usual Today programme fix.
Years back I had sat next to Nick at the Pride of Britain awards during my time at Tesco. A bright, sharp, well-travelled – yet above all fun dinner partner – I was sure he was going to put May through her paces. And although expecting to find myself with my head in my hands during the interview (metaphorically- I was driving at the time), I was, in fact, surprised.
She was good. Not great! But solid. Reiterating her points and key messages, and firmly sticking to her guns. And further interviews and subsequent write ups have possibly been the best during her time as PM. A new respect has perhaps been found among the Fleet Street crew. Well done her – and indeed the PR.
Back patting aside, it’s also important to give a nod to that little bit of luck which played directly into her hands, for once, thanks to an ill-advised press call from Rees Mogg which is now well documented as having gone in her favour. No one likes a traitor Jacob! Particularly the caustic British media.
And whilst many might have simply considered it a poor show, as a PR with quite some experience under my belt, I couldn’t help but feel there was minimal, if any, PR guidance involved on this occasion. Still, copious amounts of fodder for Private Eye and Have I Got News For You.
(Speaking of which, have you heard that Spitting Image might well be returning? I had lunch with the genius behind it, John Lloyd, once – yes him of Black Adder and QI too. Annika Rice tipped up to attend what was a rather surreal afternoon in the heat of midsummer where much white wine was consumed… but that’s a conversation for another blog. I digress….).
As for the timing of this news agenda highlight, it also so happens that November was the time of year back in 1990 when Thatcher took the decision to speak to her Cabinet about leadership. The Night of the Long Knives as it has since been referred to, and a night she never recovered from. The crux here was that her gung-ho strength ultimately became her weakness: she did not appreciate when to let go.
So take heed Mrs May. A well-managed PR machine will certainly serve you well – and dollops of resilience and confidence are a prerequisite to any key position – but keep in mind that leadership is only a case of being first among equals.
A reminder for us all in the privileged position of management.