Damaged, battered, bruised. Theresa May must go if the Tories are to rescue any shred of the stability she promised and failed to produce.
Her greedy decision to go to the country over the tantalising possibility of destroying Labour and the ensuing electoral disaster it has brought her, further erodes the threadbare myth the Conservatives are the sensible, steadying hand of British politics.
Businesses in Canary Wharf and the City Of London have woken up to more months of uncertainty at a time when it’s getting increasingly hard to remember what the status quo once looked like.
Wither comfort and solace?
This is the wrecking ball of direct democracy with a 50% threshold, smashing through the safeguards of our moderate, parliamentary system.
May’s premiership too has been a damaging blizzard of U-turns, policies announced and then abandoned. Little wonder she believed magic mirror polls that had her as the fairest of them all.
Instead the election makes her look every inch the fledgling problem gambler – an addiction perhaps inherited from her predecessor; hand quivering as she feeds coins of credibility into the fixed odds betting terminal of our public life. Just one more go.
There was no need to call an election. It was unnecessary. She repeatedly said so. But she lacked the strength to resist. What a rush it would have been to get a landslide. All that anticipation. Thatcher reborn.
David Cameron must have felt a similar pull when, giddy from victory in the Scottish independence referendum, he saw a chance to crush division over Europe in his own party; boosting his personal position and neutering the randy force of Ukip, rampantly seducing his voters and MPs.
The second click of the referendum revolver’s trigger in his thrilling game of Russian roulette with the public was enough to end him.
But the bullet penetrated deeper, exiting his spent public body and burying itself in the remaining members of the front bench.
Instead of ending division the lack of clarity on what was voted for has simply left a mess and a bitterness that May chose to invite into the ballot box at this critical time.
The Tories are now the risk takers, pursuing their own interests despite the dangers.
It turns out the will of the people, when you only look after 52%, is toxic stuff.
And Ukip supporters went their separate ways. With both red and blue promising variants on leave, there’s clearly confusion on what kind of divorce is desired. Irreconcilable differences.
Perhaps, had May been strong and stable over Grammar schools, National Insurance, social care for the elderly and the election itself, she might have had a chance.
But somehow she managed to fall victim to an ambush at her own ambush. A Labour campaign that mobilised the young, offered hope and positivity in the face of austerity and threats of chaos.
It came across as solid, costed, credible and optimistic.
Her bleating argument on Question Time that she ought to be the one in charge as there would only be 11 days until negotiations after the election, looked a feeble pitch to fear from a party with a manifesto light on detail.
The audience should have pressed her on why on Earth she was risking her already stable position so close to Brexit ground zero with a poll she’d said wasn’t needed.
She recklessly gambled and lost. All she has delivered is confusion and minority government.
That’s the worst of all possible worlds for making any sort of approach on the continent.
Will the DUP now be the kingmakers of European policy? Will we simply delay the negotiations while we sort ourselves out?
Having lost the support of those voters convinced by Labour, May will also have shocked and frustrated Conservative supporters who backed her for order and decorum.
With another general election to sort out the mess likely, how many would get behind a second Theresa-led campaign? How many of her own MPs, noses bloodied, would back her?
Confusion and instability is bad for business; the property market will stay at a standstill, deals that can be postponed will be. Inertia rules.
While Labour hasn’t won, only one leader is looking strong and stable right now, nipping at the broken kitten heels of a hobbled figurehead.
The key question for Conservatives is whether Brexit for May must mean exit or if they’ll let the cult of the “difficult woman” continue to hammer their credibility.
Without her departure, rehabilitation in time for the next poll will be a very tough process.
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