Cristina Odone

Journalist, novelist and broadcaster

Theresa May is hated by dinosaurs on the Left and Right. Good for her

May 13, 2010 @ 9:59 am

It is not only from the Left that Theresa May is being attacked Photo: Reuters

It is not only from the Left that Theresa May is being attacked Photo: Reuters

They hate her on the Left, they hate her on the Right: who would have thought Theresa May would prove such an incendiary figure? But this, we keep being told, is a new politics, and there are many surprises in store.

So here is May, only the second woman to be appointed Home Secretary, and the only woman to have a big post in the Con-Lib Dem coalition. She earned her plum job by turning in an unflagging, pitch-perfect performance during the campaign, in television studios and on the stump. She is unflappable, and knows how to navigate her way in White City as well as in Westminster.

What is it about this middle aged, perfectly sensible Tory woman that has unleashed such fury?

On the Left, all hell broke loose at her appointment yesterday. Labour supporters had been bitching about the macho coalition, hissing at the new Government’s failure to include more women. May landing one of the biggest jobs of all has wrong-footed them comically, and they’ve fallen flat on their smug faces.

They know they look foolish, but the Labour losers can’t figure a way out of their predicament: how can they cheer her appointment when the new Home Secretary is NOT sound on abortion, and voted against the repeal of Section 28 (scoring, I‘m sure she’s gutted to learn, a low 14 per cent on Stonewall’s ballot box chart, which measures MPs’ stand on gay equality issues.) Labourites, you see, can only handle someone who is right on across the board; those who believe in civil partnerships (as May does) but also in tightening the rules on abortion (ditto) are not “one of us”.

It is also rather galling, for those who have spent years being the cheerleaders for Harriet Harman, Jacqui Smith, Margaret Hodge, Estelle Morris etc, that Theresa May comes with a record blemished only by an unfortunate taste in heels. Unlike Labour’s trophy women.

Harriet Harman, while Minister for Equality, happily parachuted her husband into a Labour safe seat, steamrolling over women candidates. Margaret Hodge, the Barking Herod, notoriously failed, as head of Islington Council, to deal with a paedophile ring abusing children in the council's care. Jacqui Smith botched the job of Home Secretary and had a husband who watched porn at taxpayers’ expense. And Estelle Morris was a quitter.

But wait. It is not only from the Left that May is being attacked. Yesterday Gerald Warner was banging on about "wimmin" and comparing May to a Soviet commisar. Yawn.

We're talking about more than misogyny here. Warner, like Labour, has fastened on to Theresa May as symbol of this new coalition. If Cameron and Clegg are in a civil partnership, Warner and Labour are the BB owners who turned away the gay couple. Bigoted? Maybe. Short-sighted? Certainly. And mean.

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