LESSONS FROM THE VICTORIANS
The Somerset Guardian, 29th May 2019
Two hundred years after the birth of Queen Victoria and a period when the United Kingdom was the most successful country in the world, there is much that can still be learned from their achievements.
It is fair to say that Theresa May has many Victorian virtues. She is steadfast, patriotic and dutiful but these attributes have not helped her in office. Yet it could have been so different.
Although Mrs. May appeared to change her mind after the referendum to accept the result and offer clear promises to ensure that Brexit happened, unfortunately she could never bring herself to say that she supported the outcome. This was a weakness in negotiations as the European Union could tell that her aim was to ameliorate the consequences of leaving rather than embracing the opportunity.
In the end, Mrs. May seems to have copied her Victorian predecessor, Gladstone. Her virtues were his virtues. He worked incredibly hard all his life, he was deeply principled and a strong Anglican but the other side of the coin is remarkably similar. Neither was able to carry their parties with them partly because of their approach to politics. Mrs. May could never explain clearly what she wanted to do and then deliver it. This made it hard for her supporters to enthuse about her policies or for the nation to know where it was being led. However, when she leaves office with great dignity following the forthcoming leadership contest it is worth remembering that, like Gladstone, she has demonstrated many imposing qualities during her time as Prime Minister.