This era – the Theresa May period of the long British sickness – will probably be remembered as one long 15-month (so far, but let's be realistic here) failure of the imagination. Our days of dross and repetition, that little parcel of time when an entire national apparatus was reduced to eating second-hand mud. The political class saw the howling potential for a new constitutional settlement after the Brexit vote, and said nothing new; it watched the political order upturned with the orogenic rise of Jeremy Corbyn, and it's still trying to pretend that nothing has really changed.
All of this must have something to do with Theresa May. This is a person whose best-known rhetorical technique consists of saying that something is simply itself – Brexit means Brexit, Boris is Boris, it is what it is. Everything has become stale, as soon as it arrives.
It was almost possible to think, after last week's Labour conference, that this might finally be over. Not yet: stupidity won't go without a fight. See, for instance, Theresa May's speech to the Conservative Party conference. So much went wrong – the practical joker who handed May a P45 form, the letter "F" spontaneously resigning from her slogan, her own intermittent transformation into a kind of dying alien newt-creature, the whole general spectacle of somatic and political dissolution – that what she actually said has been almost entirely ignored.
There was nothing original in Theresa May's speech because there's nothing original in Theresa May. Over the course of her disastrous hour behind the podium she ripped off everything in sight: her allies, her opponents, the sad death-song of the universe, the jagged dogmas of free-market capitalism. And then there were the half-truths, lies by elision and things she just shouldn't have said. You would have thought it might be impossible to document all of this in exhaustive detail, but we've had a go.
Here's the speech, our comments are in bold. We took out some passages to stop this being unbearably long.
"A little over 40 years ago, in a small village in Oxfordshire, I signed up to be a member of the Conservative Party.
I did it because it was the party that had the ideas to build a better Britain. It understood the hard work and discipline necessary to see them through.
And it had at its heart a simple promise that spoke to me, my values and my aspirations: that each new generation in our country should be able to build a better future. That each generation should live the British Dream.
First off, she stole the phrase "British Dream" from us. It's already a worn-out hand-me-down, borrowed from the giddily naïve Americans, who think that dangling a brick of gold in front of the faces of desperate migrant workers constitutes an immense spiritual achievement. But at least they (sporadically) believe in it. Britain, in general, has not been particularly fond of dreaming, which is frankly just perverse Viennese muck. When we do dream, it's usually of cavalry charges and burning villages, a deadly tide of pink seeping over the globe, like the bacterial slime that coagulates over the tiles of your shitty poorly-ventilated bathroom.
The phrase "the British Dream" sounds immediately sarcastic: we have no good reason to exist, we just happen to be here, and we're continuing to live now more out of stubbornness than anything else. Which is why The British Dream is the title of VICE UK's own politics podcast. And now that Theresa May is spitting our own hollow mirthless joke back at us, seeping with mock sincerity, in a kind of hideous double sarcasm, and you expect us to believe that this is just a coincidence? SK
She waffles on about the British Dream some more, apologises for the election and tells a story about her grandmother…
…To renew that dream is my purpose in politics. My reason for being. The thing that drives me on.
And it has never wavered through good times and hard times. My belief that this Conservative government can renew it has always remained strong.
For whenever we are tested as a nation, this party steps up to the plate. Seven years ago, our challenge was to repair the damage of Labour's great recession – and we did it. The deficit is down. Spending is under control. And our economy is growing again.
Albeit incredibly sluggishly. SC
But we didn't limit ourselves to that ambition. We have achieved so much more.
She then lists some tick-box achievements that when strung together almost convincingly mask the overall horrifying picture. SC
An income tax cut for over 30 million people.
Four million taken out of paying it at all.
Employment up to a record high.
Unemployment down to a historic low.
Income inequality at its lowest for thirty years.
More women in work than ever before.
Over 11,000 more doctors in our NHS.
Over 11,000 more nurses on our hospital wards.
Free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds doubled.
1.8 million more children in good or outstanding schools.
3 million more apprenticeships.
Crime down by more than a third.
More young people from disadvantaged backgrounds going to university than at any time in the history of our country.
Britain leading the world in tackling climate change, eradicating global poverty, and countering terrorism wherever it rears its head.
Same sex marriage on the statute book, so that two people who love each other can get married, no matter what their gender…
And a National Living Wage - giving a pay rise to the lowest earners – introduced not by the Labour Party, but by us, the Conservative Party.
This "National Living Wage" is a poverty wage. It was pretty dark of the government to appropriate the label "Living Wage" for a slightly higher but still very low poverty wage. Labour wants to raise it to £10 per hour in 2020. SC
So let us never allow the Left to pretend they have a monopoly on compassion. This is the good a Conservative Government can do – and we should never let anyone forget it.
But it's easy when you've been in government for a while to fall into the trap of defending your record, and standing for the status quo.
Yes, we're proud of the progress we have made, but the world doesn't stand still.
Change, as Disraeli taught us, is constant and inevitable. And we must bend it to our will. That means staking out an agenda for Britain – and uniting behind it too. And the agenda that I laid out on day one as prime minister still holds. It burns inside me just the same.
Because at its core, it's about sweeping away injustice – the barriers that mean for some the British Dream is increasingly out of reach.
About saying what matters is not where you are from or who your parents are. The colour of your skin. Whether you're a man or a woman, rich or poor. From the inner city or an affluent suburb.
I could have dropped this in at numerous points, but this is all incredibly rich from someone who, as Home Secretary, was obsessed with making Britain a "hostile environment" for migrants. If you think about the migration roots of the American Dream, it makes this rhetoric all the more screwed up. SC
How far you go in life should depend on you and your hard work.
In May, a study showed that a record 60 percent of British people living in poverty live in a household where someone is in work. SC
That is why I have always taken on vested interests when they are working against the interests of the people. Called out those who abuse their positions of power and given a voice to those who have been ignored or silenced for too long.
And when people ask me why I put myself through it – the long hours, the pressure, the criticism and insults that inevitably go with the job – I tell them this: I do it to root out injustice and to give everyone in our country a voice.
That's why when I reflect on my time in politics, the things that make me proud are not the positions I have held, the world leaders I have met, the great global gatherings to which I have been, but knowing that I made a difference. That I helped those who couldn't be heard.
Wow is anyone actually buying this LMAO? SC
Like the families of the 96 men, women and children who tragically lost their lives at Hillsborough. For years they saw people in authority closing ranks and acting against them, but now they are on the way to seeing justice served.
That's what I'm in this for.
Everyone kicked off about this on Twitter, saying the Hillsborough families won justice for themselves and May should claim it. However, Hillborough families have in fact praised Theresa May's record as Home Secretary, saying there is "no comparison" between her and Thatcher. SC
Like the victims and survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, ignored for years by people in positions of power, now on the long road to the truth.
That's what I'm in this for.
The Child Sexual Abuse inquiry is a total farce. It's on its fourth chairperson and there have been threats of a boycott from survivors. SC
May repeats "that is what I'm in this for" as if some Nietzschean operation could turn a repeated banality into something profound. Theresa May plagiarises herself plagiarising herself, an endless recursive loop spiralling backwards into the nothingness beyond and inwards into the nothingness inside. She's hollow inside. And it's not just me saying this. Give it a few weeks and she'll be telling you the exact same thing. SK
Like Alexander Paul, a young man who came to this conference three years ago to tell his story. The story of a young black boy growing up in modern Britain who without causing any trouble – without doing anything wrong – found himself being stopped and searched by people in authority time and time and time again.
Alexander spoke so eloquently about his experience and how he came to mistrust those in positions of power as a result. So inspired by his example, we took action. We shook up the system, and the number of black people being stopped and searched has fallen by over two thirds. I am sad to have to tell you that last year, Alexander – who inspired us all with his passion – was diagnosed with brain cancer. And in June of this year he tragically passed away. He was just 21. Let us today remember the courage he showed in coming to our conference to speak out against injustice, take pride that we gave him a platform – and inspired by his example, redouble our efforts to give a voice to the voiceless at every opportunity.
That's what I'm in this for.
And that same commitment is the reason why one of my first acts as Prime Minister was to establish the ground-breaking racial disparity audit - investigating how a person's race affects their treatment by public services, so that we can take action and respond.
This is all fair enough, but she has nothing to say about the recent high profile deaths of black people in police custody, or the long overdue Home Office report into those deaths SC
We already know, for example, that members of Black and Minority Ethnic communities have a higher risk of illnesses such as high blood pressure that may lead to the need for an organ transplant.
But our ability to help people who need transplants is limited by the number of organ donors that come forward. That is why last year 500 people died because a suitable organ was not available. And there are 6,500 on the transplant list today. So to address this challenge that affects all communities in our country, we will change that system. Shifting the balance of presumption in favour of organ donation. Working on behalf of the most vulnerable.
That's what I'm in this for.
Just last week at the Labour conference, Corbyn announced that Labour would introduce an opt-out system for organ donation. Yesterday, Theresa May said the exact same thing. For decades, Labour tried to borrow the anti-migration and petty chauvinist language of the right, hoping to inject some populist energy into a moribund Blairism in a way that wouldn't involve offering the population anything that might actually be useful. It didn't work. All it did was turn politics into a glooping puddle of undifferentiated toxic slime, and look where that got us. Is Theresa May trying to steal the notion of radical positive change from Corbyn? Maybe. But maybe what she's doing is more sinister. Copy their policies, churn out knock-offs of their rhetoric, blanket the world in sameness. Dilute any hope with shoddy imitations. Leave us floundering, washed up on the only grim certainty left. They're all the same. Organ transplants. Affordable housing. They're all just the fucking same. SK
It's why after seeing the unimaginable tragedy unfold at Grenfell Tower, I was determined that we should get to the truth.
Because Grenfell should never have happened – and should never be allowed to happen again.
So we must learn the lessons: understanding not just what went wrong but why the voice of the people of Grenfell had been ignored over so many years. That's what the public inquiry will do. And where any individual or organisation is found to have acted negligently, justice must be done.
The only thing she should be doing here is apologising for her farcically slow response to the disaster – visiting the site without meeting residents and taking nine days to admit that things weren't handled properly. SC
That's what I'm in this for.
And because in this – as in other disasters before it – bereaved and grieving families do not get the support they need, we will introduce an independent public advocate for major disasters.
An advocate to act on behalf of bereaved families to support them at public inquests and inquiries. The strong independent voice that victims need.
That's what I'm in this for.
"Shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. That's what I'm in this for." SC
She then talks about tackling mental health, which we've heard before, ending with a rousing…
That's what we must all be in this for.
Then we're onto making the case for the glories of capitalism via some red-baiting of Jeremy Corbyn, which we can basically take as read…
...By contrast, when I look around the cabinet table, I have confidence that we have a team full of talent, drive and compassion. A team that is determined that this party – this great Conservative Party – will tackle the challenges of the future together.
A team that is determined we will always do our duty by our country.
And one of those cabinet members will be doing their duty to the country any day now by finally plunging that knife in. SC
Then we're into Brexit, with the usual blather about strong partnerships and so on which will apparently make us...
… a country in which the British people are firmly in control.
A Lords committee recently warned that EU Withdrawal Bill contains "multiple uncertainties and ambiguities" and would permit Ministers to exercise "a tapestry of delegated powers that are breath-taking in terms of both their scope and potency". SC
I believe it is profoundly in all our interests for the negotiations to succeed. But I know that are some are worried whether we are prepared in the event that they do not. It is our responsibility as a government to prepare for every eventuality. And let me reassure everyone in this hall – that is exactly what we are doing.
So a deep and special partnership is our ambition and our offer. And I look forward to that offer receiving a positive response.
Good luck. SC
And let me say one more thing – because it cannot be said often enough.
If you are a citizen of the EU who has made their life in this country, I know you will feel unsettled and nervous. But let me be clear that we value the contribution you make to the life of our country. You are welcome here. And I urge the negotiating teams to reach agreement on this quickly because we want you to stay.
This should reassure EU citizens in the UK. But what about British citizens in Europe? SC
Whatever the outcome of our negotiations, Britain's long-term future is bright. The British Dream is still within reach.
For as we look to that future, we do so with the fundamentals of our country strong.
Ten years after Northern Rock, our economy is back on track. The deficit is back to pre-crisis levels, we are firmly on course to get our national debt falling and business investment is growing.
"Firmly on course to get our national debt falling" is an admission that after years of austerity, while the deficit has fallen, the national debt hasn't yet. SC
The work to get there hasn't been easy. It's meant big decisions and huge sacrifices. I know the public sector has had to carry a heavy burden. The private sector has played its part too.
That's one way of talking about an economic policy of austerity described by one economist as "repeatedly hitting yourself in the face" and which has involved the privatisation of state assets and the transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich. SC
But with government, businesses and the public sector working together, we have bounced back - creating record numbers of jobs, and getting more people into work than ever before.
A lot of those are precarious jobs that leave people in poverty. SC
So while we will never hesitate to act where businesses aren't operating as they should, let this party celebrate the wealth creators, the risk takers, the innovators and entrepreneurs – the businesses large and small – who generate jobs and prosperity for our country, and make British business the envy of the world.
Because we understand that it is the wealth creators whose taxes fuel our public services. It is their success that funds the things we want to do.
Except the ones that dodge tax – something that doesn't get a mention in this speech at all. SC
And the difference between us and Labour is that we understand that to deliver the things we want, private enterprise is crucial. That you can't get something for nothing. Prosperity is key.
And when politicians offer the earth but have no means of delivering their promises, disillusionment with politics only grows.
So over the years ahead this government will adopt a balanced approach to the economy – dealing with our debts, keeping taxes low, but investing in our priorities too.
Things like our vital public services, our schools, our police, housing, and our great national achievement, our NHS.
Let us not forget that it is this party that has invested in the National Health Service and upheld its founding principles through more years in government than any other.
The most recent tenure has involved unprecedented doctors' strikes, a finding crisis and hospitals facing closure. Remember in the winter when the British Red Cross declared that the NHS was facing a "humanitarian crisis"? SC
For we understand that the NHS doesn't just bring us into this world, make us well if we fall ill, and nurse and care for our families through their final hours. It doesn't just bear witness to moments of joy and to times of intense sorrow.
It is the very essence of solidarity in our United Kingdom.
Is the overt mention of the United Kingdom here a veiled reference to "health tourism" – the bullshit scare story where the government blames the funding crisis on Polish grannies coming over here for hip operations? SC
An institution we value. A symbol of our commitment to each other, between young and old, those who have and those who do not, the healthy and the sick.
Like most people in this hall, it has been there for me when I have needed it. I have early childhood memories of visiting my family GP. More recently, it was the NHS that diagnosed my type 1 diabetes and taught me how to manage it so I could get on with my life.
We were told this would be a "personal speech" and here is a clunking reference to her personal health with barely any humanising detail or point. You've been to the doctor. Great. SC
And in recent months, I have seen it at its most brilliant – in the world-class response shown by the doctors, nurses and paramedics when terrorists struck London and Manchester.
Interestingly no mention of the police, who used these crises to have a massive go at Theresa for spending cuts. SC
To them all – and indeed to the public servants everywhere who so often go unsung – let me say this: for your service, your hard work and for your dedication – thank you.
So I rely on the NHS. I believe in the NHS.
And because we believe in ensuring that a world class NHS will be there for generations to come, we will increase funding per head for every year of this parliament, we will oversee the biggest expansion in training for doctors and nurses, and we will always support the service to deliver safe, high quality care for all – free at the point of use.
It's all very well expanding doctors' training until half of them leave the NHS or leave the country. SC
That's what our balanced approach to the economy will help us to do.
Then there's a bit about attracting trade from across the world and the glory of free schools, which awkwardly segues into…
Remaining firmly committed to renewing our independent nuclear deterrent, to help uphold the security of the world. And leading the world in cracking down on modern slavery – because if you are buying and selling another human being, you are undermining all that is right. The very basis of our humanity.
And we must bring this outrage to an end.
Really weird to pivot from nuclear weapons to modern day slavery in the same paragraph. And as VICE revealed, her modern day slavery claims are bullshit. SC
And under this government, we will continue to meet the international aid target, spending 0.7% of our GNI on international development.
That's not just because it's good for Britain, but because it is the right thing to do.
"The right thing to do" was a favourite standby of David Cameron's – a clever little phrase, crafted by his small army of former advertising executives in paisley shirts, because it encapsulates the whole of his ideological project. We're not guided by dogmas, it says, but by the eternal laws of economics and our own firm moral compasses. There is no right or left any more, just good or bad, and I am good. It doesn't work any more. None of us can pretend to know what is right. None of us have seen the light of the Good for a very long time. SK
Today, UK Aid is being used to bring food to starving children in conflict zones like Syria and Iraq. UK Aid is being used to bring water to drought stricken parts of Africa. UK Aid is helping to educate women and girls in parts of Asia where that most basic of human rights has been denied to them for so long.
Yes, charity may begin at home, but our compassion is not limited to those who carry the same passport. We should be proud that under a Conservative Government, this country is one of the few that is meeting its duty to some of the poorest people in our world.
And as Prime Minister, I will ensure that's something Britain always continues to do.
Incredible statement given the way the UK has dragged its feet and taken a tiny number of Syrian refugees. SC
But let me also be clear: it is absurd that international organisations say we can't use the money to help all those that have been hit by the recent Hurricanes in the British Overseas Territories.
Many people on those islands have been left with nothing. And if we must change the rules on international aid in order to recognise the particular needs of these communities when disaster strikes, then that's what we will do.
This then is the Britain we choose.
Not a Britain that retreats behind its borders, but a global Britain that stands tall in the world.
This is a wild piece of rhetoric considering the erection of borders in every aspect of life has been Theresa May's passion project. Doctors, teachers, landlords and homelessness charities have been turned into border guards. SC
A beacon of hope and an example to others. A modern, compassionate Britain that we can all be proud to call home.
And we must renew the British Dream at home through a determined programme of economic and social reform…
...This dream is out of reach because Home Ownership has been in decline, she says. Then…
So I will dedicate my premiership to fixing this problem – to restoring hope. To renewing the British Dream for a new generation of people.
And that means fixing our broken housing market.
For 30 or 40 years we simply haven't built enough homes. As a result, prices have risen so much that the average home now costs almost eight times average earnings. And that's been a disaster for young people in particular.
We have begun to put this right. The number of new homes being delivered each year has increased significantly since 2010.
Whereas the number of affordable homes being delivered decreased 97 percent in that time**. SC**
Our Housing White Paper set out plans to increase it further, ensuring councils release more land for housing, and giving them new powers to ensure that developers actually build homes once they're given planning permission to do so.
There's nothing here about how things get built, with greedy developers kicking people out of their homes and building swanky new flats – something Jeremy Corbyn at least touched on in his conference speech. SC
And because it will take time for greater housebuilding to translate into more affordable house prices, we have introduced schemes like Help to Buy to support people who are struggling right now.
But the election result showed us that this is not nearly enough. We've listened and we've learned.
So this week, the Chancellor announced that we will help over 130,000 more families with the deposit they need to buy their own home by investing a further £10 billion in Help to Buy.
Help to Buy subsidises a small number of middle class aspirants while further inflating the housing market, making everything more expensive. For someone "dedicating her premiership" to this problem, she's doing an awful lot of damage. SC
We have announced measures to give the increasing number of families who rent from a private landlord more security – and effective redress if their landlord is not maintaining their property. And today, I can announce that we will invest an additional £2 billion in affordable housing – taking the Government's total affordable housing budget to almost £9 billion.
This is a drop in the ocean that will build 5,000 new homes each year. SC
We will encourage councils as well as housing associations to bid for this money and provide certainty over future rent levels. And in those parts of the country where the need is greatest, allow homes to be built for social rent, well below market level.
Getting government back into the business of building houses.
A new generation of council houses to help fix our broken housing market.
So whether you're trying to buy your own home, renting privately and looking for more security, or have been waiting for years on a council list, help is on the way.
It won't be quick or easy, but as Prime Minister I am going to make it my mission to solve this problem. I will take personal charge of the government's response, and make the British Dream a reality by reigniting home ownership in Britain once again.
The problem is a housing crisis – homelessness, unaffordable rent, crappy houses – not just that people can't own homes. The emphasis on home ownership is because once you've got a mortgage to worry about you're more likely to vote Tory. SC
And let me say one more thing. I want to send the clearest possible message to our housebuilders. We, the government, will make sure the land is available. We'll make sure our young people have the skills you need. In return, you must do your duty to Britain and build the homes our country needs.
And to renew the British Dream for a new generation of young people we must also take action on student debt.
As Conservatives, we know education can be the key to unlocking the future. That's why for more than a century, it has been Conservative Education Secretaries who have driven the reforms that have widened access and raised standards. And it's why we want everyone to have the opportunity to benefit from studying more after they leave school. Because it's good for them and good for the country too.
But today, young people take on a huge amount of debt to do so.
And if we're honest, some don't know what they get from it in return
We have listened and we have learned.
"Young people voted Labour". SC
So we will undertake a major review of university funding and student financing.
We will scrap the increase in fees that was due next year, and freeze the maximum rate while the review takes place.
Saving everyone £360. While the review takes place. So looks like they'll increase again after that. SC
And we will increase the amount graduates can earn before they start repaying their fees to £25,000 – putting money back into the pockets of graduates with high levels of debt.
For while we are in favour of free markets, we will always take action to fix them when they're broken. We will always take on monopolies and vested interests when they are holding people back.
And one of the greatest examples in Britain today is the broken energy market.
Because the energy market punishes loyalty with higher prices. And the most loyal customers are often those with lower incomes: the elderly, people with lower qualifications and people who rent their homes. Those who for whatever reason, are unable to find the time to shop around. That's why next week, this Government will publish a Draft Bill to put a price cap on energy bills. Meeting our manifesto promise. And bringing an end to rip-off energy prices once and for all.
This is another rip off, this time from Ed Miliband, who was slated for his "Marxist plot" when he promised the same thing. SC
Then she says some platitudes about the importance of being a "united country", before laying into Labour about racism…
...There is a problem when one of our two great political parties is so riven with the stain of anti-semitism that even one of its own council leaders questions if they will be welcome in his city again.
Let me be clear: racism, intolerance and hatred has no place in British politics or British society. This party will never permit it. We will always stamp it out.
"Except when we run a dog-whistle racist campaign for our London mayoral candidate." SC
Britain can do better than this. For this country is – and has always been – the home of tolerance, a bastion of freedom and a beacon of democracy.
Shout out to the Snoopers' Charter, and Home Secretary Amber Rudd's increasingly onerous state surveillance SC
And this city of Manchester knows it better than anyone. Because four months ago, this city came under attack from those who hate our country and despise our values.
There were some more fine words about tolerance and liberty and then…
...Let us be in no doubt: the responsibility for such an outrage lies with no one other than those who planned it, and those who saw it through.
And this party, which knows the terrible toll of terrorism all too well, will never seek to justify or excuse such acts of terror. We will stand strong in the face of terrorism and ensure our values always prevail.
Middle East Eye has revealed how security services allowed rebel fighters to travel to Libya "no questions asked" to fight against Gaddafi in 2011, even though some had been subject to counter-terrorism control orders. Manchester bomber Salman Abedi is understood to have spent time in Libya in 2011. Prime Minster Theresa May was Home Secretary at the time. It's also been reported that two people who knew Abedi at college called the anti-terrorism hotline in 2012 to voice concerns about him – at a time Theresa May was Home Secretary – but it was never followed up. SC
Then there were some fine words about the country standing together etc etc, followed by the traditional praising of the fine city of * looks at hand * Manchester. And on it went, shuddering to the end, sounding more and more like a tractor engine clunking its way to extinction. In what was supposed to be a crescendo, but was barely a whisper, she said...
And it is when tested the most that we reach deep within ourselves and find that our capacity to rise to the challenge before us may well be limitless.
Again, this is a rip off. In series four, episode one of the bafflingly popular American trundlefest political drama The West Wing, a show mostly popular among the kind of people whose political and libidinal fantasies can be summed up in the phrase "bipartisan infrastructure bill", the fictional President Bartlet delivers what Wikipedia describes as a "powerful uplifting speech" in the aftermath of a terrorist attack. "Every time we think we have measured our capacity to meet a challenge," he says, "we look up and we're reminded that that capacity may well be limitless." Theresa May's speechwriters, apparently dismayed at having to deal with a leader who isn't even capable of up-lifting the corners of her mouth, seem to have been reduced to scavenging through fiction. And in the process, the unreal is brought into a reality that's immediately fake. SK
That is the story of our party. That is the story of our country.
And that is the resolve and determination we need as we turn to face the future today.
So let us go forward together.
Confident in our values. Clear in our vision. Sure in our purpose.
With a rich, ambitious agenda to follow. A bold, exciting mission to pursue.
Let us fulfil our duty to the British people.
Let us fulfil our duty to our country.
Let us fulfil our duty to Britain.
Let us renew the British Dream.