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Opinion: I feel sorry for Theresa May - do you?

PUBLISHED: 12:15 21 November 2018 | UPDATED: 12:59 21 November 2018

Prime minister Theresa May takes a sip of water as she holds a press conference at 10 Downing Street, London, to discuss her Brexit plans.
Photo: PA / Matt Dunham

Prime minister Theresa May takes a sip of water as she holds a press conference at 10 Downing Street, London, to discuss her Brexit plans. Photo: PA / Matt Dunham

PA Wire/PA Images

James Marston says he has sympathy for the Prime Minister. Do you agree?

It’s my job to be a little bit cynical. Over the years, when journalism is at its best, in order to speak truth unto power, in order to uncover injustice or corruption, it is axiomatic that the journalist has to assume the worst in people.

It might seem to you that I have a rather too high ideal of the British press but over the years assuming the worst has been a useful starting point. It serves my trade well, it enables us to ask questions that people might not like to answer, a sense of cynicism enables us to probe the parts within all of us that none of us want to admit to.

However, as I travel around Norfolk and Suffolk on what I call the W.I. circuit talking about me, myself, and I, groups sometimes assume that, because of my trade, I have a deeper insight into the world. This might be true, though I’m not sure it is, I think journalists simply observe in a slightly more detached way. It is true, however, that we have easier access to people that others do not. It is one of the privileges of working in the media.

I have observed, over the years, that at the local and national level, our politicians are not as we often think. In fact, many of them have a deeper sense of public service than – judging by the media in general and the approach we take - you might think.

Often I have noted that the cynicism for which the British media is often maligned is unwarranted, there are politicians and those in authority over us that do it for the greater good, in the name of service – they are not, despite what we might think – always only in it for themselves.

This is why today I am saying that I feel sorry for and admire Theresa May.

I think others think the same. I suspect there is more sympathy for her outside the bubble of the media and political world than those in it might think. I don’t think people want a general election or another divisive referendum, I think she’s doing her best. I also think she has an impossible job trying to do something that the nation has asked for but the political leadership has not.

There is a dissonance in our country at the moment between the people and its government, and overcoming that is an almost impossible task.

Never in the history of our great nation, perhaps since the civil war, have there been so many tensions under strain. Scottish independence, Irish nationalism, remainer against leaver, a growing and shocking division between rich and poor – Britain is stretched to breaking point and into the mix we are pitched against Europe in a way unseen since the Second World War.

Mrs May has to negotiate her way through this while all the time having her negotiating position undermined by division and political divide.

To get a deal at all under such conditions is remarkable.

Who knows what Britain actually wants – we can’t agree amongst ourselves –there is no clear understanding of where we want our future to be.

Of course, history tells us that in the end a path usually clears.

In the meantime we are faced with political instability – to a lesser or greater degree - which no one wants and no one needs. I for one don’t want to see another vote on the subject, I would like
the best deal we can get to be struck.

Mrs May is our Prime Minister, entrusted with the poisoned chalice of Brexit.

I don’t think she’s in it for herself, that’s not the impression
I get anyway. In fact I rather
think she’s doing her duty.

We will see what happens next, in the meantime she battles on because, I have no doubt, no one else wants the job.

Do you feel sorry for Mrs May? Write to James at james.marston@archant.co.uk

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