Support 110 years of independent journalism.

Theresa May’s new stance on terror has irritated other Conservatives

The Prime Minister was the biggest opponent of Michael Gove when he warned that Islamist extremism was being tolerated.

By Stephen Bush

For the third time this year and for the second time in the course of this campaign, jihadist terror has disrupted the election campaign.

I must admit, I’m deeply uneasy that the national campaigns were paused yesterday. I don’t intend to make a habit of agreeing with Paul Nuttall, but the Ukip leader had a point when he said that these attacks are intended to disrupt our way of life and that election campaigns, even those including Paul Nuttall, are an essential part of our way of life.

The good news (sort of) is that while the other parties notionally agreed a pause, neither side found themselves able to keep to it. Jeremy Corbyn ended his statement pausing the Labour campaign by calling for “reflection” on the cuts to police numbers. Theresa May went one better, delivering a speech that went far beyond the brief of a non-partisan leader offering facts and reassurance to a worried country and was, pretty clearly, a stump speech for Conservative proposals on terror. Labour then jumped back into the fray with a speech from Corbyn blaming the Conservatives for their cuts to the security services and singling out Theresa May’s suppression of a report into foreign funding for extremism entirely.

It feels like an unedifying and acrimonious way to get to where we should be: both party leaders offering their analyses of what we should do about the threat of extremism.

The bigger problem is this: do either of them believe a word that they’re saying? The Labour leader now says he backs shoot-to-kill and is opposed to cuts to the police and security services, when not so long ago he was telling crowds that those were the only cuts he didn’t oppose and backtracking on tears of scepticism about an overmighty police force.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

As for Theresa May, well, she’s matching Corbyn conversion-for-conversion. “Enough is enough” is her message, once again sounding more like a box-fresh opposition leader than the sitting Prime Minister and Home Secretary of six years’ standing. Her suggestion that jihadism has been quietly tolerated in public life has particularly irritated other veterans of the Cameron government, not least because she was the biggest opponent of Michael Gove when he made exactly this argument. One of their number, David Cameron’s former guru Steve Hilton, has broken his silence on Twitter, saying “I am so sick of Theresa May blaming others for terror when the system she presided over has obviously failed so lamentably”.

It’s true that both May and Corbyn are triangulating on terror. But while Corbyn is triangulating towards his party, May risks a fight with hers.

Content from our partners
What you need to know about private markets
Work isn't working: how to boost the nation's health and happiness
The dementia crisis: a call for action