Theresa May: An Undemocratic Leadership?

I don’t know where I was when David Cameron stepped down as prime minister, simply because it came as no surprise after his brexit campaign and reaction.

Theresa May has an interesting past, but one that won’t particularly differ from many other tory politicians: Somewhat privileged and made to be in power. (Although this is a conversation for another day.)

Before Politics

On October 1st 1956, in Eastbourne, May was born to Zaidee Mary & Hubert Braiser and she was their only child. May was educated primarily in state schools, after a very short experience in an independent catholic school. At the age of 13, she won a place at a Grammar school. She went on to read geography at The University of Oxford.

Her first career was in the Bank of England, and later as a financial consultant for the ‘Association for Payment Clearing Services’ 1

Getting into Parliament

From 1986 to 1994 she served as a councillor for Durnsford ward. She stood, unsuccessfully, for the safe labour seat of North West Durham in 1992. She stood in the 1994 Barking by-election, coming third with a mere 1,976 votes. (10.4%) A new seat, Maidenhead, was created ahead of the 1997 general election, where she won with double the votes than that of the second place. (24,344 votes, 49.8%)

Before Leadership

She became a member of the opposition cabinet straight away, as ‘Shadow Spokesman for Schools, Disabled People and Women.’ In 1999 she was appointed ‘Shadow Education and Employment Secretary.’ Iain Duncan Smith kept her in the cabinet after the 2001 election, as he moved her to the Transport portfolio. She became the first female chairman of the tories in 2002, and between 2004 and 2010 she went through a multitude of different shadow cabinet roles.

May 12th 2010, 6 days after the general election she was appointed Home Secretary2. During her six years in the role she had a heavy focus on surveillance, with particular prevalence on the highly controversial ‘Snooper’s Charter3.’ She also had focus on interior terrorism, including the banning of Zakir Naik 4, and the Cumbria Shootings 5.

How did she get into power?

This is where a majority of her controversy starts. After the Brexit vote in June 2016, David Cameron didn’t feel he could lead the country in the right direction especially after his long campaign about staying in the EU. As the way it goes, the Conservative party needed to choose a new leader, and they would then most likely become the next prime minister. (If the queen chooses them, and she basically has to.) The leaders race went a little like this6:

She began her campaign almost as soon as Cameron resigned, with her catchphrase becoming ‘Brexit means Brexit’. Conservative MPs voted in a ballot to determine the 2 candidates who would be put forward to Conservative party members who would make the final decision. Fox was eliminated in round 1, with Crabb withdrawing later in the day. Gove lost in the second round and Leadsom withdrew before the party member’s vote, leaving only candidate. She became party leader July 11th, and then prime minister on July 13th.

This is why people question wether she undemocratically runs the country. Many people will vote in a general election because of the party leader, and since that has changed, should the ruling party really get to choose the next leader? The only people who chose her were members of the Conservative party at the time. Many called for a general election, especially after the such a prominent part of British history: the Brexit vote7. But this is allowed to happen because that’s quite literally what is supposed to happen, which draws back to wether it really is a basic flaw in the way the British constitution works, but again: a debate for another time.


A majority of information came from the below wikipedia articles, and some minor details from news articles.

  1. ↩︎
  2. ↩︎
  3. ↩︎
  4. ↩︎
  5. ↩︎
  6.,_2016 ↩︎
  7. For more information about the history of referendums, see here: COMING SOON ↩︎