The manner of a Prime Ministerial exit outside of the electoral process usually attracts a wave of sympathy from those who have previously hurled the most ferocious brickbats. Think a tearful Mrs T getting into her car. Think Gordon Brown with the wife and weans in tow walking along Downing Street. And today, an emotional farewell address from the woman so often accused of having the emotional intelligence of the average robot. Maybot as Mother Courage was a whole new look. Maybot resplendent in pink and what looked like freshly tinted hair.
The speech itself made a bold attempt to list her domestic achievements and ambitions outwith the disastrous Brexit bourach, listing areas like equality and domestic abuse where she said she had been able to make a difference. Well up to a point Lady Copper. When she said the UK ought to offer a level playing field to everyone regardless of colour or origin there was a certain amount of selective amnesia in play. Amnesia about a long stay in the Home Office which even today is accused of casually deporting the wrong people for the wrong reasons thanks to a chaotic "system" of record keeping.
Amnesia about pledging that same department would run a hostile environment for illegal migration, inculcating, a culture of suspicion and hostility which the Brexit vote then exacerbated. And, having quoted the Kinder Transport humanitarian Nicholas Winton, forgetting that far from sheltering children of a contemporary conflict with similar compassion to his, her government set its face against letting children from war zones come here to safety even where they had relatives already settled. That hard line, reprised in Calais, showed that Theresa hardly shared the saintly qualities attributed to her namesake.
Friend and foe alike reported that the problem dealing with Mrs May wasn't that she didn't listen so much as she didn't hear. She let people set out their stall and then proceeded along her pre-determined way. She certainly didn't listen to Scottish ministers who pointed out that following the democratic will of the people meant very different things north of Carlisle. And she conducted her various sojourns into EU negotiations without allowing any meaningful consultation with or intervention from the other members of the so called "precious union."
On the credit side nobody was prepared to gainsay her credentials as a hard working, dutiful public servant fully committed to putting in the hours. Nobody could argue with her ability to absorb all manner of personal abuse and criticism from within her own ranks and still stand unrepentant at the dispatch box.The problem is that working hard to dig yourself further into the ditch creates rather more problems than it solves.
Mrs May however lacked some qualities which serve successful leaders well; an ability to be self aware and acknowledge weaknesses as well as strengths, a modicum of personal charisma in both social and professional settings, and a sense of humour which can both deflect antagonism and skewer opponents. She would have made a redoubtable president of the Womens Rural Institutes, belting out Jerusalem with undisguised passion. But she proved better at getting into a jam, than making some.
And so to a messy succession at a time when every sinew ought to be bent to sorting out Brexit. Instead Westminster is off on its hols (again) and the Tory party's sights are firmly fixed on its own navel. So on to yet another Prime Minister who takes office without troubling to seek a personal mandate from the electorate. The chance for an independent Scottish nation state in Europe can't come soon enough.