Theresa May just bludgeoned her way through a conference nightmare. First, a heckler interrupted her, giving her a P45. Then she started to cough, and eventually it got so bad that the hall gave her a sympathetic ovation while Philip Hammond handed her a cough sweet. Finally, bits of the sign behind her started to fall off. Whatever you think of May, this was extremely bad luck – and understandably has crowded out discussion of the (small scale) policy announcements she made on housing and energy.
Now, as a loyal Conservative minister, there are two ways to respond to this. First is what you might call the “silver lining” approach, exemplified by Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson:
If ever the PM needed a metaphor for service and duty and resolution through adversity, that battling performance was it! Huge respect.
— Ruth Davidson (@RuthDavidsonMSP) October 4, 2017
Good-humoured, sensible, acknowledging the horrorshow but trying to find the positive. But there is another way. A way that makes you sound so totally disconnected from reality that it’s hard to tell if you’re being crushingly sincere or, in fact, taking the piss:
BREAKING Michael Gove, the Environment secretary, tells me: “I witnessed a great speech from a Prime Minister at top of her game.”
— Christopher Hope (@christopherhope) October 4, 2017
No, come on, Michael. Really. Lay it on sliiiiightly less thick and you’d get away with it.
Theresa May is the ultimate public servant – showing her poise, persistence and dignity once again, which is why we respect her.
— Robert Jenrick MP (@RobertJenrick) October 4, 2017
Borderline, but ultimately acceptable.
Incredibly powerful, passionate speech by PM. Bright, optimistic, addressing major social challenges, esp. housing. Renewing British Dream
— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) October 4, 2017
Sajid Javid, I had expected better of you.
— MimsDaviesMP (@mimsdavies) October 4, 2017
A. New. Challenger. Enters! Thank you, Mims, MP for Eastleigh.
Tory source: “It was a good speech and she [the PM] was happy with the way it went”
— John Stevens (@johnestevens) October 4, 2017
Wow, that is a Low Bar to clear.
Still, good to know someone is asking the right questions.
Tory MP confirms that Theresa May was NOT singing kareoke last night.
— Ellie Price (@EllieJPrice) October 4, 2017