Good communicators make their audience identify with them. They want people to put themselves in their shoes, accept that they have thought long and hard about decisions and understand why they taking the actions they do? It’s called empathy.
By that measure Theresa May is doing everything right. We feel the discomfort of being in those famous kitten heels. We have been taken through every blow of the Brexit negotiations. We have seen her attacked from inside and outside her party, by people she knew were critics and by those she thought were friends.
So why don’t we empathise with her?
The answer is one word. Pity.
The vast majority of people – Labour or Tory, Remainer or Brexiteer – would agree that Mrs May has done the best of a bad job. Indeed, we’re quite amazed she has actually secured a deal, and find it hard to imagine that any other British politician could have achieved what she’s has.
Yet we don’t love her for it.
And were in not for the terrible showing by Jeremy Corbyn, who has managed to make Palestine rather than Brexit or austerity the defining issue of his leadership, she’d be the equivalent of Fernando Alonso’s McLaren in the race to be the next Prime Minister.
When asked if Mrs May is doing a good job people tend to suck their teeth and ruminate how she found herself in such a pickle in the first place. They talk about disloyalty and bad advice. Some view every compromise as betrayal not realising that compromise is at the core of diplomacy.
Most people agree that wouldn’t take her job for all the money that Boris Johnson claimed we could redirect to the NHS. We feel sorry for Mrs May, and that is not a good look for a Prime Minister.
Pity obscures empathy and undermines leadership.