Twitter was awash with “TM4PM” frenzy over the weekend after Theresa May delivered a speech to the ConservativeHome 2015 Victory conference that carried the undertones of a leadership bid.
The home secretary used the gathering of Conservative activists to sketch out her vision of Conservatism, just in case David Cameron’s one doesn’t wash with voters in 2015. She went far beyond her remit as she floated the idea of profit-making schools and a comprehensive industrial strategy.
Tim Montgomerie, ConHome’s founder and editor who has just been appointed the Times’s comment editor, was quick to calm the hype. He pointed out that May had agreed to speak at the event last November, quashing any talk of a post-Eastleigh leadership push. He also said May was loyal to Cameron and that her loyalty was one of her best qualities.
But as everyone pored over her big picture vision, one policy wonk remarked wryly that it was the bit left out that suggested a tilt at Cameron. As May trotted through her Vince Cable-like idea for an industrial strategy, she hit upon promoting special clusters of industry.
Government should identify geographical clusters of industry – like biotech in Cambridge, he semiconductor industry in the south west of England or the Formula One corridor in Oxford, Warwick and Birmingham – so we can help develop these clusters further, put British businesses at the forefront of industrial innovation, and create thousands of new jobs.
Sensible enough, but why did May fail to mention Cameron’s Tech City in Shoreditch as she trotted around innovation England?
Apparently, it is widely known throughout government that No 10 expects Tech City to be promoted at all opportunities, and yet May declined to give her boss’s pet project a mention.
My source says:
She went out of her way not to mention Tech City. Was it an intentional omission or just proof she is not in the spin machine to know about that sort of stuff?
Montgomerie’s take that May remains loyal to Cameron may well be right, but it helps if you namecheck your leader’s favourite initiative when giving that “this-is-not-a-leadership-speech” speech.