I am motivated here by Philip Norton's lecture on 18th March at the Speaker's House, shown on BBC Parliament. The lecture is about the feasibility of a William Whitelaw premiership. Norton took a leaf out of Weberian sociological method and produced ideal types of politicians that make it to Prime Minister. He also uses them in a 2015 e-textbook called The British Polity.
So let us use them here:
Innovators seek power to implement a future goal of their own vision and drag their party behind them (as with wartime Churchill, Thatcher).
Reformers seek power to implement a particular programme drawn by the party (as with Neville Chamberlain, Clement Atlee).
Egoists seek power for its own sake and seek to preserve it with them at all costs (as with Anthony Eden, Harold Wilson).
Balancers either seek power to achieve a balance within the party and society or do this having been conscripted into the role (as with power-seeking Harold Macmillan, or conscripted Alec Douglas-Home).
As ideal types, Prime Ministers can in all reality straddle more than one. Clearly Theresa May is a Balancer, and sought power to be this. Her belief system was little more than loyalty to the Party; we can see this in her immigration decisions at the Home Office, and fairly disastrous they were. But she may also be an Egoist, perhaps surprisingly, in the way she seems to regard her own position in office as vital and is hard to shift.
She shares characteristics with Edward Heath in not being pally and not engaging in small talk. Edward Heath, says Norton, was not an ideologue, as sometimes considered in his Selsdon Man days, but was a technocrat. And Theresa May is also a technocrat. Heath did have a hinterland, but May is more like Thatcher in not having a hinterland. When politics is your life, you are very difficult to remove from office, and this is the case with May. Her promises to go are always conditional and she wants to control the timing, as well as pretty much everything else. Like Thatcher, the act of removal will prove bloody, this at a time of national weakness. I have written often now that the remainers in the Cabinet have to remove her first to get the others to resign, and fill the void, otherwise it could all swing the other way, and the exit group will stay as the remainers go - and then they will strike without mercy.
Theresa May is an Egoist in as much as she believes in her own resources, and, unable to persuade, gets support by bashing people over the head and creating panic from the ticking clock. It is a very bad way to get support - the difference between wind and rain and sunshine in getting someone to remove their coat. Bad feeling results in bad reactions, bad policy.
One might play this game with Tony Blair. This can be left to another time.
In the aforementioned lecture, Philip Norton refers to the fact that he also use this Weberian method in 1990 to survey and produce types of Tory MP. These were, then, the Neo-Liberals (market forces), the Tory Right (morality, law and order), the Populist (left wing socially and right wing on law and order - today they would have become pro-gay and lesbian), the Thatcherite (market forces plus law and order), the Tory Faithful (party over ideology), the Damp (some government intervention) and the Wets (government intervention as needed).
What we know is that May is not Thatcherite or neo-Liberal (these can be placed together now). The last vestiges of these within Cameron and Osborne were gone. She is slightly populist, as today, but has never been pro-LGBT herself. She panders to the Tory Right, on Europe, but clearly her Downing Street speech on becoming Prime Minister shows that she was not one, and also she has shown some intended Damp but not very Wet. She is, of course, Tory Faithful.
This has proved her undoing, because being Tory Faithful is to be split on Europe; the Tory Right might also be regarded today as nationalist, and the Damp and Wet are pro-European. (Thatcher saw the European Union as a back door to socialism, whereas the Single Market was hardly that.) Being Tory Faithful, when the party is in at least two places on the key issue of the day, is rather self-defeating.
Apparently Ian Duncan Smith is considering throwing his hat into the Tory leadership ring. He might have been the worst Tory leader in modern times, but Cameron and May must be ranked as being the worst Prime Ministers. I'd rather forget Cameron than subject him to these ideal types. He was a Blair-clone who gambled the Party for the country and ran away when he lost the gamble and plunged us all into the mess we are now in under his incompetent successor.
So she is a Balancer of the Tory Faithful, predominantly. And it is not what was needed. She needed to be a Reformer as well as Balancer, and Damp. One has to think that, beyond loyalty to the cradle of her political party that defines her life, Theresa May believed in little else. She might have drawn on the Liberal Nationalism of Joseph Chamberlain, but there is little evidence of that; most evidence is that she was devoid of political philosophy. Her Downing Street speech showed some populism and dampness, but they were not implemented. She constantly referred to the Party, and it is on its broken back that she has fallen.