Tearful Theresa takes me right back to 1990 when the column I wrote on my old newspaper was in its infancy and Margaret Thatcher was in her political dotage.
Mrs Hacksaw was the name she got in that column, while years later her successor was rechristened Mrs Maybe.
The ejection of Margaret Thatcher was a bigger deal than the slow political suicide of Theresa May. The ignoble doing-in of Thatcher was the last act of a long tragedy, whereas Mrs Maybe’s lachrymose farewell was the final rancid puff of air leaving a prime minister who had never been fully inflated in the first place.
Thatcher left after Michael Heseltine launched a failed leadership bid, and there’s a political irony there as Lord Heseltine, as he now is, eloquently speaks out against Brexit and said he was voting LibDem in the euro elections. And Brexit did for May in the end, as it may well do for all of us, it seems.
Writing about Mrs Hacksaw was how I cut my teeth as a bit-part commentator on this and that. Lord, I hated that woman, and didn’t I let my readers know, almost certainly to a fault, looking back, but Thatcher did raise the bile. But she was a good Tory leader, if you like that sort of thing, which I didn’t and still don’t, unsurprisingly.
This morning’s front pages are covered in Theresa May’s tears. Sorry, but I don’t feel sorry for her at all. Those who sympathise (“Tears for the love of her country” – the Daily Express; “A crying shame” – the Daily Mail) see May as noble but failed.
Mrs Maybe grabbed the Tory crown with a ridiculous speech about fairness, then carried on in the same wilfully autocratic manner that characterised her years at the Home Office. She will only be remembered for Brexit. But she should also be remembered for the disgrace of Windrush and her blind obsession with her hostile environment policy over immigration.
For a woman often shown dutifully bumbling into church of a Sunday, she has an unchristian heart when it comes to immigration.
Anyway, she’s gone or going, a hopeless politician to the last, quite wrong for the job – but who on earth is right for that job? If May was introverted and cautious, and unable to win friends in politics, her possible successor Boris Johnson is the polar-opposite – or the sort of polar bear opposite, a scheming nasty piece of working pretending to be a big white-haired, stammering fool.
But I have felt sorry for Theresa May sometimes. Mostly just every time Iain Duncan Smith opened his mouth to splurge out something nasty about her. That man was the most appalling Tory leader. I know, they are all appalling, it’s in the job description, but he was the pits. This culminated in him saying the other day that it was time to ask Philip May if he could talk some sense into his wife. She’s the prime minister, not a great one, but still the prime minister – and there was a man suggesting that it was time to talk to the husband.
The dirty dozen or so jostling for May’s job make for a depressing sight, none more so than Johnson. But perhaps there is a cautionary tale here in the unlikely shape of Gordon Brown, who grabbed the job from Tony Blair and never won an election. Brown thought of holding a snap election in 2008 to give himself electoral legitimacy, but he bottled out. He was haunted by that failure to move for years, and probably still is.
As for Brexit, could Boris Johnson sort it out? Ah, well, um, you see, jolly japing hell and all that…