The Prime Minister has had a tough 2017. A squandered majority, PR disasters and a delicate Brexit process which has seen her attacked from all sides. The received wisdom has it she won?t lead the Conservatives into the next General Election.
But other Prime Ministers and political leaders would have already been broken by far less. To carry on as May has done demonstrates a steely determination; an invaluable trait for the woman overseeing our exit from the EU.
So we shouldn?t be writing her off just yet; she could lead the Conservative Party to a majority at the next election.
At the last meeting of the Conservative Parliamentary backbench 1922 Committee held just before the Christmas break, the PM was in good form ? relaxed, humorous, and quick witted amongst friends. She was far from the “Maybot” with which she has been identified.
And after a torrid summer and autumn, the background music is changing.
Brexit negotiations are progressing, and the so-called “Corbyn surge” in the polls has stalled.
Polling shows that the electorate are beginning to see that although she has her faults, May’s calm professionalism is infinitely more preferable to the politics of Jeremy Corbyn.
In a recent YouGov poll conducted just before the breakthrough in the Brexit negotiations, confidence in May was nine points ahead of Corbyn, a turnaround from the summer where Corbyn narrowly found himself ahead for the first time.
Furthermore, the same poll showed that the Prime Minister has twice as much support as Corbyn with regards to negotiating Brexit.
The national polls show the Conservatives and Labour neck and neck despite all the difficulties encountered by the Government. At this point during the coalition government, Miliband’s polling was out of sight with double-digit leads.
This summer, while May doggedly oversaw the government’s response to Grenfell and the unprecedented terrorist threat, Corbyn failed to capitalise on his unexpectedly small defeat at the election.
Although it is true that she can sometimes come across as wooden during the big set-piece speeches, that won?t get in the way of doing her job.
There’s more to being Prime Minister than what the public sees on television. In fact, many of the most important matters of state take place behind the scenes, away from the glare of the cameras.
For this, May is well-suited to the job. Her stewardship of the Home Office was competent, and she was able to thrive in a role that has ended the political careers of many promising politicians in previous governments.
She has been written off several times this year since the election. At various points, the commentariat have declared her a “dead woman walking”. Each time, however, she has survived. In that, she does have something in common with Jeremy Corbyn: a sense of duty regardless of the short term difficulties.
The election campaign was indeed a disaster, and for that May must bear a huge chunk of responsibility. However, we also mustn’t forget what initially made her so popular in the first place: her stoic, unassuming approach to governing, which has been a breath of fresh air after decades of flashy spin.
And although she is cautious, May has not been slow to tackle the issues she cares about and put forward a plan for the country.
This vision of a prosperous, outward-looking nation which strives to tackle injustices wherever they manifest in our society, is exactly why the Party has lined up behind the PM, despite her shortcomings as a campaigner last year.
The challenges May, and by extension the country, face in 2018 will no doubt be just as difficult as 2017.
The housing crisis will grow as more and more people struggle to get on the housing ladder. The government have already taken steps to tackle this, but the issue won’t be resolved in a year.
How she will respond to the “wild card” events, the unknown factors that we cannot possibly foresee, will be a test of her resolve.
The electorate has factored in that May doesn?t do touchy-feely, as we saw after the Grenfell fire.
She does, however, do action to resolve a crisis.
And of course, the Brexit process is constantly ongoing, with fanatics on both sides of the divide trying to undermine the government as it seeks to get the best deal for Britain with the very latest contribution being made by Tony Blair.
May took everything that was thrown at her in 2017 and still she carried on – there’s no reason why she can’t do the same in 2018 and the 2020s by which time we will have left the EU and the ink dry on a trade deal.