What the com­men­ta­tors said

The Week - - The Main Stories and How They Were Covered News -

“Did any Tory who watched May’s protester-in­ter­rupted, cough-plagued, stut­ter­ing, cringein­duc­ing ad­dress feel she ex­uded au­thor­ity” asked Hugh Muir in The Guardian. To judge from the “pained ex­pres­sions” in the hall, they did not. This was May’s chance to press a re­set but­ton on her premier­ship. But it wasn’t to be. “Bring me a gen­eral who is lucky,” said Napoleon. She isn’t that. There is “panic in the air” in Tory cir­cles, due to the rel­a­tive suc­cess of last week’s Labour con­fer­ence, said Dan Hodges in The Mail on Sun­day. These peo­ple need to get a grip. True, if an elec­tion were held next week, the Tories would lose. But there isn’t go­ing to be one un­til 2022, un­less they want one. There’s plenty of time to turn things around.

Par­ties can re­ju­ve­nate them­selves while in power, said Is­abel Hard­man in The Spec­ta­tor. The Tories man­aged it un­der Mar­garet Thatcher, af­ter her eco­nomic ideas trig­gered an early back­lash, and again un­der John Ma­jor, who won the 1992 elec­tion af­ter the “catas­trophic rows” over the poll tax that ended Thatcher’s premier­ship. But it’s a hard trick to pull off, and not one that the cur­rent gov­ern­ment looks likely to achieve on the ev­i­dence of this week’s muted con­fer­ence. “The Tories are start­ing to re­sem­ble Labour at the end of its last spell in power” – bereft of en­ergy and new ideas. It’s not so much the “Nasty Party” as the “Knack­ered Party”.

Might the ebul­lient John­son come to the res­cue? Un­likely, said Juliet Sa­muel in The Daily Tele­graph. While his re­cent Brexit pro­nounce­ments have “won him a bounce in pop­u­lar­ity among grass-roots Tory ac­tivists” – one re­cent poll showed him back in front of ri­vals as the favoured can­di­date to re­place May – they have also bred some “se­ri­ous ill will” among his col­leagues. John­son has alien­ated too many peo­ple to win the lead­er­ship now, agreed John Ren­toul in The In­de­pen­dent. A bet­ter can­di­date would be Ruth David­son, the charis­matic, straight-talk­ing leader of the Scot­tish Tories. “If the party is se­ri­ous about power – and you have to won­der about the truth of that old saw – it should get her into the House of Com­mons the mo­ment the 2021 Scot­tish par­lia­ment elec­tions are over.”

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