11 Jul 2016

Has Theresa May been a good Home Secretary?

As the longest serving Home Secretary since Rab Butler, Theresa May has delivered four public inquiries, hard-edged, sweeping police reform, a drop in stop and search, and strident efforts to crack down on modern social ills of slavery and female genital mutilation.


She has overseen the aftermath of the worst riots in England for three decades, yet only a single terrorist attack, the  killing of Lee Rigby, while Europe suffered mayhem.

When she arrived at the Home Office, I remember one very senior police chief warned, as far as policing went, “the country was heading for a car crash. She believed the police are there to lick the Government’s boots”.

To be fair, there have been no visible signs of a pile-up while she drove through unprecedented cuts to police budgets and measures to get the Police Federation and its members to clean up their act.

One insider describes her as a formidable negotiator with great attention to detail – someone who, perhaps surprisingly, “cares more about the little people than the big ones”.

But on one issue, she’s has struggled to impress. Immigration. However she has tried,  the promise of bringing net migration down to tens of thousands never materialised. It might be that the pledge “to cap immigration” was always too ambitious.

But it won’t go away…and may define how “nasty” her Government is prepared to get to meet that particular public expectation.

Follow @simonisrael on Twitter