Cllr Joe Cooney: Difficult times call for "a difficult woman"

The old saying a week is a long time in politics has never resounded so much as it has done some the United Kingdom’s momentous decision on the 23rd June. A vote that would see the resignation of the most successful Conservative Prime Minister in a generation. If there is such a thing as a 'Cameron-ite' then I would be one for my journey into the Conservative party and becoming an elected councillor is not a usual one.

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Along with my parents, and older brother and sister I came to United Kingdom from Ireland in the early 80’s, the reason my family came was simple, for work. In the 1980’s the Celtic Tiger was well and truly asleep and work was difficult to find. 

My family moved to Colne, in East Lancashire a former mill town with all its unique and quaint ways it has been my home for the last 30+ years. 

My parents found work, my brother and sister were enrolled in local schools and we quickly made a family life in a council house in Colne. As time progressed and I grew older we had the chance to purchase our home thanks to Margaret Thatcher’s Right to Buy, this provided us with a secure home and it was something we could be rightly proud of. 

Neither of my parents were particularly political as I was growing up, so my view of the Conservative government was seen through the eyes of a negative media. When 1997 arrived and Tony Blair won a landslide I remember feeling hope and a new opportunity for our country to throw off the shackles of controversy and infighting and bring a new style of government to the Country… how wrong could one be! 

By the time 2005 came along and David Cameron became party leader I once again felt the hope I did briefly in 1997 but this time it was much more believable. He talked about the things that appealed to me: a strong economy, better education, a chance for everyone regardless of your background. It motivated me and many like me to actively get involved in the party, and to bring general election success back to the party. 

For the last 6 years we have seen the economy recover, education improve, more people in work than ever before, pension increase, a small but more efficient public sector. These are all things that Cameron can be proud of but we now look to the future and continue the work already underway. 

If this was a normal Leadership election it would be enough to continue the work already underway, but we aren’t in normal times. The country is a state of flux, the Labour Party are imploding and the Country is looking for leadership. That’s why we need someone who has a track record of getting on with the job, who isn’t overly interested in media or being seen rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous but someone who has a laser focus on the job in hand and will not stop until its completed. 

Soon after the Prime Minister announced he would step down, I decided to back Theresa May. She has many qualities that appeal to me, calm, unassuming but a steel and a determination often lacking from modern politicians. 

I voted to Leave the European Union, but despite being on the opposite side to Theresa in the debate she is the right woman for the job. We are committed to Brexit now, and our new leader is committed to carrying out the wishes of the people.

We know how bitter the EU can be, so they’re likely to cold shoulder anyone who was heavily involved in the Leave campaign. Theresa won’t be seen as one of these people, so it’s far more likely that her and Merkel will end up having private chats, which aren’t laced with bitterness. 

Theresa is able to unify the party after the Leave vote. People know she was fairly close to the middle in terms of the referendum, and she won’t ostracise those on the opposite side of the debate. 

When Ken Clarke called her a ‘bloody difficult woman’, I was delighted as that is what this country needs now more than ever. Someone who will can negotiate with the European Junta and get the deal that’s best for Britain and who will be prepared to take the hard decisions without worrying how it will effect that popularity poll.

We need leadership, we need direction, we need a difficult woman, and I'm glad we have Theresa.


Joe Cooney was first elected as a Conservative Councillor in 2011 and served as Pendle Borough Council Leader from 2012 to 2015. He is currently Group Leader of Pendle Conservatives on Pendle Borough Council, and Vice President of the ECR Group on the European Committee of the Regions.

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