Leader: The post-liberal PM

Theresa May's post-Thatcherite approach to politics is baffling those on both the left and right

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The left does not understand Theresa May, or wish to show much inclination to do so (with the exception of this magazine, which, like Marxism Today before it, believes in trying to analyse and explain why the right is in the ascendant in these new times). For too many on the left, the Tories are “wicked” and wish to punish the poor. That is not how most of the electorate sees it or approaches politics, as the result of the general election on 8 June will prove. The libertarian right and the metropolitan Cameroon right are also baffled, even irritated, by the Prime Minister. The former objects to her talk of an “industrial strategy” and proposed cap on energy bills; the latter does not like her embrace of a hard or “clean” Brexit. No liberal globaliser or free-market ideologue, Mrs May believes in social cohesion and a strong state as well as reducing immigration. Her language is communitarian and softly nationalist. Her government is not neoliberal: more accurately, it is post-Thatcherite. From the beginning, Mrs May has been clear that she would wish to regulate as well as intervene in markets that are perceived to be rigged or broken. Ed Miliband would approve. You could say that she is Britain’s first post-liberal prime minister.

This article first appeared in the 11 May 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Why the Tories keep winning