I think it is time for a confession. I did not vote on Thursday and I ought to explain why. I moved to Nell Bridge House in Adderbury in February 1984 and got involved in Conservative Party activities almost immediately. Tony Baldry had been elected MP for Banbury in the previous year and served for 32 years. He became a good friend as well as my MP. In 2015, I served on the selection committee to find his successor. We went through several iterations and finally sent four women to the full constituency meeting for final selection. I thought two of them were eminently qualified to succeed Tony but Victoria Prentis was not one of them. However, at the final constituency selection meeting, Victoria Prentis won the local vote. At the selection meeting, I saw a good few people I had never seen before and have not seen since and she was elected as the local candidate. Her father was Tim Boswell, MP for the neighbouring Daventry Constituency. He was a lovely man and a good constituency MP. His daughter is no Tony Baldry and I do not think she is right for the Banbury Constituency so have withdrawn from active involvement in the constituency. This was my first problem on Thursday and I did not feel willing to place a cross against her name. I was secure in the knowledge that my absence would make not a scrap of difference to her result. If I had, I might have held my nose and placed my cross but it was not necessary.
Tussling with my conscience and my loyalty to the Party I have supported for most of my adult life, I thought I might justify voting locally as support for Theresa May, Leader of the Party and Prime Minister charged with getting us speedily out of the European Union. However, as the campaign progressed and particularly as the manifesto was launched I began to feel we had lost the Conservative principles of Margaret Thatcher. The social care policy was brave but badly timed and poorly explained. There was worse. Threats of higher taxes. A higher minimum wage. Retention of much of the restrictive employment laws we have gained from Europe and much else that did not sound like Thatcherite conservatism. Then came her TV coverage during the campaign and the comparison with Corbyn. Corbyn’s policies were appalling and would bankrupt GB but he spoke to them with a style and enthusiasm that TM simply could not match. No wonder he won over young voters with no experience of the real world and welcoming unaffordable promises about tuition fees, NHS funding and school funding.
So there we are. I gave the polling station a miss on Thursday and am saddened but not altogether surprised at the outcome of the General Election. I am afraid we got what we deserved and our failure is down to TM and her small team of advisers. That she remains in Number Ten is a function of the impossibility of replacing her with the start of Brexit looming and a lack of obvious talent that the Party would accept. So, she remains as a caretaker and let’s hope she makes a good fist of getting us swiftly and cleanly out of the EU. I do not doubt her competence; I see her as a technocrat but she is no communicator and she is certainly no Margaret Thatcher as Victoria Prentis is no Tony Baldry.