There was something Churchillian about Prime Minister Theresa May’s appearance in Halifax to launch the Conservative Party manifesto.
It wasn’t the oratory; she isn’t Winston and didn’t try to be him.
But the slogan behind her – “Forward Together” – had echoes of Churchill’s call to arms when he entered Parliament on May 13, 1940.
Back then the new PM said: “We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering.” He ended with: “I say: ‘Come then, let us go forward together with our united strength.’”
To an audience of party activists, supporters and political commentators from all shades of the national Press, Theresa May outlined her call to arms. Almost 80 years may have passed since those faraway dark days of 1940 but she’s in a battle and plans to win it.
The battle is called Brexit and in words remarkably redolent of Churchill she described her document as “a manifesto to see us through Brexit and beyond.”
She added: “There will be many obstacles in our way. There will be some who wish us to fall short. Others who wish to hold us back. Many who will us to fail.
“But with discipline and focus, effort and hard work, and above all a unity of purpose stretching across this precious union of nations from North to South and East to West, I believe we can – and must – go forward together.”
Conservatives from Calderdale and beyond – including key Cabinet colleagues Boris Johnson, Philip Hammond, Michael Fallon, Amber Rudd and David Davis – lapped it up.
Meanwhile, outside, protesters from Unite draped a 30ft banner over a wall above May’s battlebus declaring “End Zero Hours” as an excitable man on a loudhailer exhorted the Prime Minister to meet real people and discuss local issues, such as the threat to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.
“Let’s hear your answers!” he bellowed.
Sequestered inside the 19th century walls of a former textile mill on the gargantuan Dean Clough site, reporters and TV crews squashed together as famous broadcasters threw questions at the Prime Minister.
Was she a Thatcherite? What was her political philosophy? Is she, as some commentators suggested, a “red Tory”? What is “Mayism”?
The answers came quickly, glibly, smoothly. The devil was in the detail. And the detail was to be found in an 84-page manifesto booklet entitled Forward, Together.