Why does the Conservative party keep appointing such terrible leaders to become prime minister? There are actually some clear, structural reasons why this keeps happening, and the party could prevent it.
I have written plenty of times over these last years about how the British prime minister just couldn’t get worse. It’s been one of my least accurate predictions.
I quite liked David Cameron. He seemed like a nice enough guy. Looking at him, you could easily believe he was the prime minister of a relatively serious country. He made some big mistakes, but very much in the style of an otherwise credible political leader.
He oversaw ‘austerity’ which caused misery for many and laid the seeds for productivity in the UK to fall progressively ever since, crushing economic growth. By not investing in infrastructure, or in people, he made the country less productive and damaged the economy. His other obvious mistake was to call a referendum on remaining in the EU. This was not a major concern for most people but had been dividing his own political party for years, and he thought that offering a referendum would put a stop to this infighting and get his party under control. How wrong that was.
Then we had Theresa May. She was a weak leader who threw away a large parliamentary majority and pushed what could have been a mild Brexit into the extremist version that has since caused so much damage to the country, socially and economically. She also takes responsibility for the ‘hostile environment’ immigration policy that led both to the awful injustice of the Windrush Scandal, and to the country becoming more xenophobic when it most needed foreign workers. This had the double impact of damaging both society and the economy. She was clearly the worst prime minister in decades and deserved to be removed from office.
Her replacement, Boris Johnson, surprised everyone by being even worse than his own supporters had expected. Nobody had high expectations of Johnson, who already had form as an arrogant and lazy liar. Johnson easily stole the worst prime minister trophy from May. Whilst both Cameron and May made a few big mistakes, Johnson did so much wrong it is hard to list, let alone remember. He is the first prime minister to have…