Well, in view of the news that we will definitely have a new prime minister on Wednesday, rather earlier than expected, let's draw attention to the recent web article that was quickly 'pulled' by the Daily Telegraph as being rather too close to the knuckle. Happily, once stuff appears on the internet, it's extremely difficult to remove it. This from the WayBack machine:-Theresa May is a great self-promoter, but a terrible Home Secretary
In the run-up to the 2015 election, one of the handicaps David Cameron had to finesse was the fact that net migration to the UK was three times as high as he had promised it would be. Remarkably, none of the opprobrium this failure provoked brought forth the name of Theresa May, the cabinet minister actually entrusted with bringing migration down. Then, as now, it was as if the icy Home Secretary had a dark magic that warded off all critical scrutiny.
The fact that her lead role in this fiasco went unnoticed and unmentioned likely reflects Mrs May’s brilliant, all-consuming efforts to burnish her image with a view to become prime minister.
After all, Mrs May’s tenure as Home Secretary has been little better than disastrous – a succession of derelictions that has left Britain’s borders and coastline at least as insecure as they were in 2010, and which mean that British governments still rely on guesswork to estimate how many people enter and leave the country.
People find this hard to credit because she exudes determination and strength. Compared to many of her bland, flabby cabinet colleagues, she has real gravitas. And few who follow British politics would deny that she is a deadly political infighter. Indeed Theresa May is to Westminster what Cersei Lannister is to Westeros in Game of Thrones: no one who challenges her survives undamaged, while the welfare of the realm is of secondary concern.
Take the demoralised, underfunded UK Border Force. As the public discovered after a people-smugglers’ vessel ran aground in May, it has has only three cutters protecting 7,700 miles of coastline. Italy by contrast has 600 boats patrolling its 4722 miles.
Considering the impression Mrs May gives of being serious about security, it’s all the more astonishing that she has also allowed the UK’s small airfields to go unpatrolled - despite the vastly increased terrorist threat of the last few years, the onset of the migration crisis, and the emergence of smuggling networks that traffic people, drugs and arms.
Then there is the failure to establish exit checks at all the country’s airports and ports. These were supposed to be in place by March 2015.
Unfortunately the Border Force isn’t the only organisation under Mrs May’s control that is manifestly unfit for purpose. Recent years have seen a cavalcade of Home Office decisions about visas and deportations that suggest a department with a bizarre sense of the national interest.
The most infamous was the refusal of visas to Afghan interpreters who served with the British forces in Afghanistan - as Lord Guthrie said, a national shame.
Mrs May has kept so quiet about this and other scandals - such as the collapse of the eBorders IT system, at cost of almost a billion pounds - that you might imagine someone else was in charge the Home Office.
[It’s not just a matter of the odd error. Yvette Cooper pointed out in 2013 that despite Coalition rhetoric, the number of people refused entry to the UK had dropped by 50 per cent, the backlog of finding failed asylum seekers had gone up and the number of illegal immigrants deported had gone down.]
The reputation for effectiveness that Mrs May nevertheless enjoys derives from a single, endlessly cited event: the occasion in 2014 when she delivered some harsh truths to a conference of the Police Federation.
Unfortunately this was an isolated incident that, given the lack of any subsequent (or previous) effort at police reform, seems to have been intended mainly for public consumption.
In general Mrs May has avoided taking on the most serious institutional problems that afflict British policing. These include a disturbing willingness by some forces to let public relations concerns determine policing priorities, widespread overreliance on CCTV, the widespread propensity to massage crime numbers, the extreme risk aversion manifested during the London riots, and the preference for diverting police resources to patrol social media rather than the country’s streets.
There is also little evidence that Mrs May has paid much attention to the failure of several forces to protect vulnerable girls from the ethnically-motivated sexual predation seen in Rotherham and elsewhere. Nor, despite her supposed feminism, has Mrs May’s done much to ensure that girls from certain ethnic groups are protected from forced marriage and genital mutilation. But again, Mrs May has managed to evade criticism for this.
When considering her suitability for party leadership, it’s also worth remembering Mrs May’s notorious “lack of collegiality”.
David Laws’ memoirs paint a vivid picture of a secretive, rigid, controlling, even vengeful minister, so unpleasant to colleagues that a dread of meetings with her was something that cabinet members from both parties could bond over.
Unsurprisingly, Mrs May’s overwhelming concern with taking credit and deflecting blame made for a difficult working relationship with her department, just as her propensity for briefing the press against cabinet colleagues made her its most disliked member in two successive governments.
It is possible that Mrs May’s intimidating ruthlessness could make her the right person to negotiate with EU leaders. However, there’s little in her record to suggest she possesses either strong negotiation skills or the ability to win allies among other leaders, unlike Michael Gove, of whom David Laws wrote “it was possible to disagree with him but impossible to dislike him,”
It’s surely about time – and not too late – for conservatives to look behind Mrs May’s carefully-wrought image and consider if she really is the right person to lead the party and the country.
There’s a vast gulf between being effective in office, and being effective at promoting yourself; it’s not one that Theresa May has yet crossed.
Of course the Tories have 'form' for cleansing the historical record. This from the Channel 4 News website November 2013:-
"Absolutely crucial to our vision for the new Britain is data transparency. We are passionate about the genuinely transformative powers of free data…The era of closed shop government is over."
Call for transparency
While the government has increased the amount of raw data available, the speech itself is no longer available on the Conservative.com website. The Google cache of the page is also now a dead link and the Internet Archive fails to retrieve the page declaring "Page cannot be crawled or displayed due to robots.txt".
The only remaining source online for these speeches is the UK Web Archive and they will not show up in simple web searches, users will have to trawl through years of speeches to locate specific statements.
'The next big scandal'
In February 2010 David Cameron declared lobbying to be the next big scandal waiting to happen; "We can't go on like this. I believe it’s time we shone the light of transparency on lobbying in our country and forced our politics to come clean about who is buying power and influence."
While he pledged to establish "the most transparent government eve" the list of guests invited to Chequers has not been published since July 2011, leading to Labour to query whether Tory donors have been entertained. Three Tory figures have been caught up in press lobbying exposés since 2010, including then Defence Secretary Liam Fox, Tim Collins MP and Conservative Party co-treasurer Peter Cruddas.
NHS cuts pledge
Lost in the online purge is the January 2010 pledge by David Cameron to cut the deficit and not the NHS. "We are the only party committed to protecting NHS spending. It's there in black and white behind me. I'll cut the deficit, not the NHS."
Last December the Tories conceded that NHS spending was cut in real terms for their first year in power 2010/11, when budgets are adjusted for inflation there is a drop of £800m in funding. In the same speech Mr Cameron went on to declare; "Andrew Lansley and his team are going to give the NHS back to who it belongs - the people. To the doctors, nurses and professionals who work in it. To the patients who get their care from it. To the families who depend on it."
But under the coalition the Health and Social Care Act 2012 was introduced transferring £60 to £80 billlion of health care funds to "clinical commissioning groups". This raised fears of NHS privatisation with the British Medical Journal warning that "privatisation is an inevitable consequence of many of the policies contained in the Health and Social Care Bill".
Since April 2013 nearly 200 contracts worth £2.5billion have been offered to private contractors and this summer the NHS began the biggest outsourcing of services in its history, inviting bids for a contract worth almost £1bn to provide health services including end of life care.
In the same speech Mr Cameron went on to state: "The second policy we are announcing today deals with an area that desperately needs attention - NHS maternity services.
"It doesn't matter that billions of women have given birth over the ages, for parents having a baby – especially your first baby – can be one of life’s most daunting experiences. And all of us want the same thing. As many mums as possible giving birth in a relaxed, non-emergency, maternity-led setting with all the facilities for intensive help there for those who need them."
However, over the last year spending on maternity care dropped last year from £2.62bn to £2.58bn, with the amount of funding going to five of the NHS’s 10 English regions falling by 15 per cent for the year 2012 – 13. In London funding dropped by 6 per cent despite birth rates continuing to rise. In the NHS south central region midwives are now handling an average 40 births a year, far more than the recommended target of just 28.
Warning against attacks on personal freedom from a "surveillance state" in June 2009 Mr Cameron pledged; "The next Conservative government will revoke the unjustified and unreasonable powers that let people enter your home without your permission. "If we want to stop the state controlling us, we must confront this surveillance state," he added.
However, this year as part of their reports into leaked NSA files on spying the Guardian laid bare the UK's Tempora programme, which taps into transatlantic cables carrying masses of communications data. The Guardian reported that GCHQ had the biggest internet surveillance operation of the “five eyes” group. A classified decryption programme called Edgehill was used to eavesdrop on encrypted internet traffic.
Bill of rights
Another election promise now lost online was the "British Bill of Rights", which would be established to strengthen democratic accountability and liberties. "It should guide the judiciary and the Government in applying human rights law when the lack of responsibility of some individuals threatens the rights of others…And it should protect the fundamental rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights in clearer and more precise terms," Mr Cameron declared.
However, last year a commission set up to resolve the issue failed to reach an agreement with two of the nine members saying there was nothing wrong with the current regime. Dr Michael Pinto-Duschinsky quit the commission claiming it was a waste of time.
Labour and Lib Dems
In contrast a Liberal Democrats pledge to scrap university tuition fees remains on their website despite the coalition later raising tuition fees to up to £9000 per year. The archive on the Labour party's website only goes as far as when Ed Miliband took over as leader, although no efforts to block archiving of their speeches appears to have been made.
In a statement the Conservatives claimed the changes "allow people to quickly and easily access the most important information we provide".
PS Theresa May says she's not that keen on having a general election any time soon, but I wonder how all those police investigations into Tory election expenses fraud are going?