The nation is at the crossroads and the citizens of the United Kingdom are deeply divided. On Saturday well over a million people gathered around the centre of London to say enough is enough. We can take no more ! The people voted democratically in the last referendum for a clear cut exit from the EU , surely that is what democracy actually does mean. However, Theresa May is very much filled with her endless stoicism, and an enigmatic personality as one who is motivated to see some form of a deal being done to everyone’s satisfaction. A shy person, a strategist and a decision maker but not in the same category as Margaret Thatcher. She is to be admired at this very crucial time in British politics for her incredible tenacity and skills as a negotiator with the headstrong often inebriate controlling alpha males in Brussels, bearing in mind she has to endure thousands of miles travelling regularly and cope with the immense stress and pressures from not only her own MP’s and defectors, but in all of the self perceived threats to her personae, her overriding concern and motive is her “call to duty”. As was reported in the press last week, “Westminster politicians and pundits are often rightly criticised for focusing too much on personalities and not on policies. Sometimes, though, a government’s activities really are driven by personalities – or by the lack thereof. It’s safe to say that few people really know Theresa May. She’s so shy that she gives little away.” The privatised self we know in political psychology does have its advantages, one who is not only coy but whose powers of observation are as astute as ever.
British politics ought never to have been fuelled with the range of personality assassinations and daily threats we have seen over the past few weeks in the House of Commons. As an Ulster protestant who grew up alongside the DUP’s foundations in Northern Ireland, with the late Rev Dr Ian Paisley, I would never have thought I would seen the day when the powerful social influencers and decision makers among the DUP could have in addition to Theresa defectors, added fuel to the political fire and brimstone. The Ulster Unionists to which my family of origin belonged was a party to be proud off, one of moderation and integration, one which had few if any members of Pareto’s” power elite”, as they were constituted mainly from hard working low income ulster protestants who were and still are proud of the Union with the UK and also of our British heritage and democracy. I find it difficult to fathom the backstabbing and persistent threats to the Prime Ministers personal and group identity, in particular form her own seemingly trusted MP’s who now are about to potentially resign in huge numbers if she does not tender her resignation.
As Rosa Prince has clearly delineated in her biography The Enigmatic Prime Minister, in Mrs May’s role as Home Secretary, she often feuded with David Cameron Osborne, Gove and Kenneth Clarke. who described her as “ a bloody difficult woman” in politics. During the 2016 leadership campaign. Add to this her strained and frosty relationship with Nick Clegg , Vince Cable, and Chris Huhne. When she took office as Prime Minister, she made it clear that she was “no pushover”, and this dominant personality traits is still her anchor characteristic in her enigmatic personality. Theresa May Like Arlene Foster is an Alpha female, driven by her Christian faith in values and respect for her people in the UK the truth of her social gospel a core dimension of anglo catholicism and high churchmanship ingrained into her personality by her upbringing in the vicarage. Whilst we can admire her deeply held christian values, these drive her social motivational state to do what’s right for the British people of all faiths creeds and cultures. Many political editors and biographers have noted the fact that men found her difficult to deal with, in the parliamentary circles and what most failed to understand that aggression outburst were not the most appropriate ways to get what they wanted form the PM, they were lacking in persuasion. In her past on the matters of gay adoption she is reported to have changed her mind stating that it was far better to have loving parents than sexuality. When in the Home Office her colleagues noted her robustness stoic attitudes and saw her as overbearing. And overly prescriptive to her officials and ministers. As Home Secretary she was fully aware of the seriousness of her position in UK politics , her personal and political identity was then pretty robust and seemingly impermeable. Many of her closest colleagues were reported as saying that Theresa May knew what she wanted and the means of getting to that point where democracy is upheld. Her underlying motives were clearly well developed and influence her current attitudes to Brexit negotiations. I sense an autocratic handle on things in her leadership traits and characteristics.
In her precipitous and fragile state this week she stands tough on Brexit determined to see her deal through, at the same time demonstrating her tough emotional resilience not wishing ever to lose face with the British public. I often wonder if she really does understand the intricacies of Northern Ireland politics? She ,like Bercow, is under threat from her allies and Tory supporters, add to the major stress factor, Nigel Dodds’ the DUP’s chief negotiator who reported in the Daily Mail March 23rd, 2019 that she does not have their support for backing her latest plan. The threat to her political identity gathers momentum as if she tries to push through her plan for new options, she will find her leadership in tatters with resignation the respectable option. Dodd’s accused the PM of an “inexcusable failure” to secure changes from Brussels. And further he accused her of being “ far too willing to capitulate”. The Ulster based DUP do not suffer fools gladly nor will they tolerate any decision that puts the constitutional state of Northern Ireland at risk in the long term.
Politics ought to be about democracy and in this case the British people have shown their desire and willingness in the referendum for our nation to take back control by leaving the European Union. We cannot keep changing our minds whether to remain or leave. Decisions have to be made to preserve our cultural identity . Many questions remain. If we left with a no deal, would British citizens lose their dual identity? Many Ulster protestants have an ethno- political identity as living in Northern Ireland, ubiquitously referred to by the Irish citizens in Northern Ireland as “ Northern Irish “ and who hold Irish passports. They will commonly refer to “The Island of Ireland” or “The North” of Ireland, a sensitive issue for Ulster Protestants, inferring that Ireland is a island North South East and West. Which alludes to Ulster as belonging to Ireland rather than its legal and constitutional status as part of the United Kingdom. The DUP were until now the anchor in Theresa May’s leadership and negotiating skills that calmed the storm with Brussels, and steered her out of muddy polluted and poisonous political waters. The anchor no longer holds, and her alliance with the Ulster DUP party is under severe threat too.
Gurnek Bains in his book Cultural DNA , when interviewed about Mrs Mays inauguration at Downing street as to whether it meant stability here was his reply: “Not at all. Initially she appeared to bring a muc needed Middle-England sense of competence and values to the PM role – a sharp contrast to the free-wheeling, risk taking and somewhat casual style projected by her upper class predecessor. She also showed a strong and sure touch in selecting her cabinet, getting to grips with what the Brexit vote meant, in setting out a One Nation agenda and even in taking control of decisions such as Hinkley Point.
When a leader first assumes office, people are inclined to project all kinds of fantasies on to them. This is particularly so in a crisis – when the natural desire for a heroic figure to save the day leads to a suspension of balanced judgement.
To some extent, Theresa May is still enjoying the glow of this yearning, but the signs of where and how she might struggle are building and they suggest some deep cause for concern”. He further argues and I can also agree with him on this point that psychologically these steps and her history suggest that Theresa May is a “sensing” individual whose political success has been underpinned by a capacity to read the mood and adjust to it. Sensing individuals are pragmatic, grounded, detail oriented and visually aware. Her modus operandi, as well as dress sense, mirrors these traits. She played her cards well in preparing for and fighting the leadership election, as well as in reading the mood of the country following the Brexit vote.
We can now see perhaps as she is about to lose her grip on Brexit, by comparison to Margaret Thatcher, If I were to compare Theresa May the past few months of Brexit negotiations the comparison is strikingly profound. Theresa May is often compared to Margaret Thatcher, but the latter surrounded herself with thinkers and operated with clear philosophical underpinnings. May is reportedly very suspicious of blue-sky theorists and has banished them from her close circle. She is Thatcher in form but less so in substance. This spells trouble in the PM role, given the pressing need for all offices of State to march to a coherent drumbeat as well as clear sense of Britain’s future place in the world. As her plans hit the wall of external reality, expect the lack of deep philosophical clarity to lead to a sea of troubles.