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Rosa Prince provides no instances of Mrs May using this sort of language before 2013, and I doubt that there were any. (Her infamous and surely ill-advised 2002 speech in which she told Tories they were regarded as the “nasty party” did not contain any special pleading on behalf of the poor.) For the most part, she has sailed under the colours of “One Nation Toryism”, seldom sticking out her neck in promoting radical policies, though she did champion the cause of more female MPs. Her recent siding with what the Left would describe as the “victims” of society has propelled her into virgin territory.

Some commentators have ascribed these most unThatcher-like sentiments to her childhood as the daughter of an Anglo-Catholic vicar in two different Oxfordshire villages. In a recent column in The Times, Michael Gove (for whom Mrs May formed a dislike during the Coalition years, according to Prince) floated the notion that she is “our first Catholic prime minister”. Although Gove meant “Anglo-Catholic”, he placed her in the tradition of continental Roman Catholic “social teaching”, with its “emphasis on the cultivation of virtue rather than the exercise of liberty or the accumulation of prosperity”. In fact, there is no need to peer over the Channel for illumination since Anglo-Catholics — such as Mrs May’s father, the Reverend Hubert Brasier — are for the most part inspired by the adherents of the 19th-century Oxford Movement, with their newly-built inner-city churches.

Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May were both grounded in religious practice and observance. While the young Margaret Roberts attended Methodist chapel several times on a Sunday, and sometimes preached as a young woman, the young Theresa Brasier observed her father visiting the sick and ministering to his flock, which in Church Enstone and Wheatley in those days would have constituted most of the village, and included many poor people. To oversimplify, Thatcher’s Methodism led her to place more reliance on individual salvation, whereas Mrs May’s brand of High Anglicanism encouraged her to regard religion as a more socially based enterprise.

I happen to have grown up in a rectory in a similar sort of parish, only a hundred miles away at around the same time, and my clergyman father’s churchmanship was similar to Mr Brasier’s, so perhaps I can understand some of the influences that may have affected the young Theresa. If she appears aloof and ungregarious (though friends attest to her personal warmth) it may be because in the small community in which she grew up she was inevitably set apart as the daughter of the vicar, who in those days in the countryside was a respected but necessarily distant authority figure. With such an association it would have been difficult for the daughter in the rectory to fraternise on entirely easy terms. If she had had siblings, Theresa May might have been able to make up for this social impediment, but she was an only child.

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July 22nd, 2017
11:07 AM
I`ve changed my mind about Theresa May. I voted for Brexit and the Labour Party.

April 19th, 2017
1:04 PM
It`s good news Theresa May isn`t doing tv debates. The other party leaders are professionally jealous of her and can only rattle their bins noisily. George Osbourne is actually leading the retreat of the anti-Mayists. The majority of voters will give Theresa May her mandate.

April 18th, 2017
5:04 PM
After her announcement for June 8 Theresa May has my vote. 17.4 million Brexiteers may well have already decided to vote for her.

April 3rd, 2017
10:04 PM
George `Tampon Tax` Osborne claims the tax will raise £15 million to fund women`s organisations. £250,000 is going to the anti-abortion propaganda organisation Life. It`s deeply shameful and a disgrace. Osborne could pay the £15 million himself. Who in the Tory Party thinks it`s a great idea to tax the periods of girls and women ? Perhaps Theresa May could answer Suzanne Moore at the Guardian. Osborne is now also editor of a London junk mail freebie. It was his cocaine addicted banker friends in the City that caused the crash/robbery. He shares in their delusions of adequacy. The Brexit liberation needs no Osbornes in the Tory Party.

Arnie Ward
April 3rd, 2017
11:04 AM
In the opening paragraph Glover could have replaced the phrase "before going down from university" with a single word understood everywhere, "graduating". Such a quaint and anachronistic turn of phrase.

March 30th, 2017
4:03 PM
Theresa May is indeed mistress of all she surveys. Thanks to 17.4 million Brexiteers she`s now Prime Minister. The Remnants will never forgive us for destroying their illusion that they are the progressives and rebels. They are historical junk merchants. It doesn`t matter if Theresa May voted Remain. She`s now sincerely enacting the will of the people as Prime Minister. She should replace student nurse loans with grants. She should initiate a council house building project. She should fund Womens Refuges. Materialist solutions. At present which political party is even capable of delivering a pizza ? The glorious, chaotic dawn and magnificent Brexit victory was a civil war without muskets. No one at the BBC will say so. The artist Anish Kapoor is heartbroken in his Remainia. But it`s him and his set who are the small minds, small hearts (the Art Newspaper). The Ponces (as Julie Burchill has it). It`s entirely up to Theresa May and her team to prove the Tory Party can be other than `the Nasty Party`. She`s up for it and will probably get my vote in a General Election.

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