By the time everyone is reading this, Theresa May will be the unelected Tory Prime Minister of Britain. For those of you that don’t know, despite Theresa May campaigning to remain, during the EU referendum debate, she represents the hard right faction of Conservativism. Under David Cameron, Theresa May has been Home Secretary, giving her the power to introduce legislation which infringes on people’s privacy rights, and discriminates against migrants. Not only does Theresa may believe in things such as privatisation of our public services and mass deregulation of industry, but she absolutely hates the concept of human rights with a burning passion. Instead, she wants to replace the human rights bill with a set of Tory allowances, a position she has held throughout her political career. Upon winning the Tory leadership race, In a speech that came across as the most rehearsed and insincere public address ever, May conveniently decided to try and frame her leadership as a progressive one that will stand up for working people. Perhaps the biggest irony of all of this, is May’s abject refusal to call a snap general election, despite writing an article in 2007 furiously condemning Gordon Brown for not holding an election, after he succeeded Tony Blair. None of this to any of the other people in the Tory leadership race were any better, but simply that the years ahead look pretty grim. This blog post will look at Theresa Mays track record, and what we can expect from her leadership.
Contempt for Immigration
Theresa May has a particularly nasty track record of introducing immigration legislation which discriminates against British families as well as immigrants. In 2012, May introduced new rules to prevent low income British families, from bringing their foreign spouses to the UK. This means that, if a British citizen earns below the income threshold set by the Tory’s of £18,600, they are prevented from bringing their non EU partner to Britain. This means they have to face the agonising choice of breaking up their family, or being forced to live in exile from the UK. The fact that the same income requirement applies across the entire country, means that the rule discriminates strongly in favour of those from high income regions such as London and the south east, and against people from low income regions such as the North East of England. When this was first implemented, the news outlets were rife with xenophobic rhetoric about ‘getting tough on immigration’. Despite this, even if this was a valid point to make, many of the people whom this rule discriminates against, are already integrated into British culture by virtue of the fact that they are the spouse of other British citizens! How anyone who is not a complete and utter racist bigot could take this policy seriously is absolutely absurd.
Speaking of ridiculously absurd immigration Policies, earlier this year Theresa May introduced a plan to deport workers from the UK for the ‘crime’ of earning less than £35,000 pound, per year. Firstly, the average wage in the UK is about £21,000 per year. It seems strange that people who earn thousands of pounds above the average UK worker should be facing deportation, for supposedly being a drain on the economy. Mays justification for this is that she wants to reduce Two Tier migration to the UK, from outside the EU. However, if you actually look at the relevant information regarding migration, you will see that Tier Two migrants have to have a job offer from an employer, who has shown that the position cannot be filled by a local worker. Additionally, despite paying income tax, they are not allowed access to benefits and they have to pay an NHS surcharge in case they need medical treatment. In addition to this, the Australian department for Foreign Affairs and Trade, conducted a study showing that the plan would harm Australian investment in the UK and ‘might undermine the UK-Australia bond’. Most importantly, the majority of teachers and nurses don’t even earn over £35,000 a year. When introducing the policy public backlash, forced May to make exceptions for these groups. However, I have no doubt that May’s leadership will no doubt see some more draconian measures introduced on immigration and freedom of movement.
Contempt for Civil Liberties
As I mentioned earlier, our new Prime Minister has got little to no respect for basic human rights. Indeed, In 2014 Theresa May rushed through emergency legislation to make the mass trawling of private data of millions of innocent people by the security services, completely legal. The Edward Snowden leaks a year previously, showed the alarming extent that security services were already able to violate our right to privacy, as well as their collusion with foreign powers and their disregard for democracy. As such, it would not have been surprising, had Theresa May decided to rush through legislation right there and then, to bring the security services back under control. However, she did not do that. Instead she waited several months since the snowden leaks became public and since the EU declared the mass retention of data to be unlawful, to suddenly launch their emergency powers bill, to protect the security services. Many other MP’s must also shoulder the blame for this particular piece of legislation, as it was passed by an overwhelming majority of 438 votes to 51. I wonder how many of them will be prepared to endorse Mays authoritarian policies, now she is Prime Minister.
During the Conservatives First term in office, Theresa May also oversaw the introduction of secret courts. This means that, defendants can be excluded from hearings where their fates are decided, without knowing what the case against them is. They will not be allowed in the courtroom, they will not be able to challenge the case, and their lawyer will not even be able to represent them. Upon going through parliament, the House of Lords made several amendments to the bill, which were simply unpicked by Theresa May, so she could ram the legislation through in its original illiberal format. The reason for this should appear obvious, the government clearly want to avoid outrageous cases of corruption such as the Mark Kennedy case (the policemen that infiltrated an environmental movement, and formed sexual relationships with several women), being heard in court. The whole reason for this legislation, was to prevent the public finding out about cases that involve people in authority. Credit also has to go to the so called liberal democrats, who helped May and her Tory friends push through this revolting piece of legislation.
What can we expect From May as Prime Minister?
In addition to the ones just mentioned, Theresa May has got a number of other right wing authoritarian plots up her sleeve. One of them involves scrapping civil liberties such as the right to free speech, freedom of assembly, the presumption of innocence and the right to privacy. As you might expect, this plan has been dressed up as a strategy to ‘tackle Islamic extremism’. Exactly how introducing legislation which targets ordinary people who have not broken any laws, helps to target extremism, remains to be seen. Despite this, anyone who thinks that this law will only be used to combat extremism, is either gullible or just in plain denial, about how horribly authoritarian the Tory’s can be.
As mentioned in the introduction, Theresa May also wants to scrap the human rights act, replacing it with a series of allowances, set by the Tory party. This is absolutely ridiculous considering the fact that the whole point of the European Convention on Human Rights, when it was set out after World War Two, was that every country should have a minimum set of human rights standards which it should not be allowed to fall below, in order to prevent a disaster like Nazi Germany from ever happening again. The idea was championed by Winston Churchill and Clement Atlee, which given the fact that Theresa May constantly rambles on about patriotism, makes her look like a huge hypocrite. If Theresa may does end up pushing this vile bit of legislation through, then we will be joining the severely authoritarian post – communist dictatorship of Belarus, as the only non-signatories on the entire continent.
Lastly, it needs to be pointed out that, given the fact that Theresa May campaigned to remain during the EU referendum debate, she will probably want us to stay in the single market, despite not actually being a formal member of the EU. This will put Theresa May in an awkward position. On the one hand, being a member of the single market requires freedom of movement and the right of the EU to impose fees on us. This is despite the fact that May has shown herself time and time again, not to care about the rights of immigrants. Does she really think that the EU are going to sit back, while the Prime Minister that wants us to pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights, tries to carve out a deal that gives us access to the single market at the same time as allowing us to have an aggressive immigration policy?
Overall, our new Prime Minister is not only authoritarian but extremely dangerous. It is bad enough that David Cameron allowed May the job as home secretary, without her going to prime Minister. I would like to end this article as I end most of my other articles, with a call for collective resistance towards whatever May’s government can throw at us.