Left-wing lawyers, the working class and Labour: Theresa May's keynote Tory speech digested


Theresa May has made her first keynote speech as Prime Minister at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham.

The Tory leader made a passionate appeal to align her party with the interests of the working classes, stating that Labour had "given up the right to call themselves the party of the NHS, the party of the workers, the party of public servants" by adopting the politics of division.

Theresa May graphic

Responding to the pressure in recent weeks calling on May to deliver more than her oft-repeated promise that "Brexit means Brexit", the Prime Minister steered clear of the line altogether.

That's not to say she didn't employ other pithy soundbites to help solidify her vision for a prosperous Britain that works for all, and "not just the privileged few".

Theresa May graphic

The Tory leader used the phrases "change has got to come", "everyone plays by the same rules" and "working class" seven times apiece, and reinforced her belief in "the good that government can do" on five separate occasions.

It may have been her passionate rebranding of Labour as the new "nasty party" that got the biggest laugh from the party conference itself, but the internet was more engaged with May's message for human rights lawyers, and Britain's role in the world after it leaves the EU.

Referring to what she called an "industry of vexatious claims" against troops in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars over accusations of mistreatment, May said: "We will never again - in any future conflict - let those activist, left-wing human rights lawyers harangue and harass the bravest of the brave - the men and women of Britain's armed forces."

The Prime Minister also invoked a call on big businesses to do more for their workers, and pay their fair share of tax, stating: "Today, too many people in positions of power behave as though they have more in common with international elites than with the people down the road, the people they employ, the people they pass in the street.

"But if you believe you're a citizen of the world, you're a citizen of nowhere. You don't understand what the very word 'citizenship' means."

It wasn't long, however, before some drew out the original classical reference...

...and questioned what it could mean for those who feel it is their identity.

May also vowed to protect the NHS, pledging to put an end to Labour's "sanctimonious pretence of moral superiority" by continuing the commitment made at the last general election to invest £10 billion in the service to ensure the success of its five-year plan for improvement.

The leader's insistence that her party would push on with difficult decisions and commit to major infrastructure projects such as the High Speed 2 rail link and a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point were met with approval from the room, as was her renewed commitment to lifting the ban on new grammar schools.

But it was the Prime Minister's passionate call for the government to champion the middle ground that she most fervently portrayed to her party, sending a signal to Labour that it is quickly alienating itself from the British electorate.