My dear Theresa May, I thought of writing to you because I thought I should congratulate you on your party emerging as the largest party at your general election – although you didn’t win even a simple majority and in fact lost more than a dozen seats. You kept your own job – at least [...]

5th Column

For better or worse


My dear Theresa May,
I thought of writing to you because I thought I should congratulate you on your party emerging as the largest party at your general election – although you didn’t win even a simple majority and in fact lost more than a dozen seats. You kept your own job – at least for now, so congratulations on that too!

Theresa, we were shocked when you called for a poll with three more years left in your term. The opinion polls said you would get a landslide majority and you wanted that, so you called the election – and now look at what has happened. Even though you are still PM, some say your days are numbered.

If you had only asked us, Theresa, we would have told you that calling early elections when you have a few more years left is a risky business. We had someone here who did the same, thinking like you did, that he would romp home with a landslide – he lost the top job and is now just a backbencher.

Because you do not have an overall majority in Parliament, I am told you will be compelled to form a coalition government with the help of other parties. I am not sure how you plan to do it over there, Theresa, but we have experience in that too, so I thought I could offer you some advice about that.

The key to your success will be in keeping everyone in the government happy. You can usually do that by appointing them as ministers. Because you can’t appoint everyone a minister we have devised a way to get around that: give them titles such as deputy minister, state minister and senior minister!

Now, having more than one party in government can get tricky because very soon, the two parties start arguing about everything – about building a port, about the taxes you want to impose or something as simple as a medical school. That is when you come up with your next trick – a reshuffle.
At first, you drop a hint about a Cabinet reshuffle. You will then find that everyone is very nice to you because they want to keep their jobs. Then you do nothing for several months, while speculation builds up. Then, when you actually do the reshuffle, all you do is move A to B’s job and B to A’s job!

With a coalition government, I must warn you that you should have no lofty aspirations such as ending corruption, changing constitutions and ushering economic development. You will just carry on from one crisis to another – and if you are still in your job at the end of five years, you have done well.

By the way, Theresa, although you campaigned for ‘Brexit’ and leaving the European Union, I also heard that one of the major problems you will have to deal with is terrorism. Terror is now at your doorstep with a bomb exploding in London, Manchester or somewhere else almost every week.

During your election campaign, I heard you saying in response to those recent terrorist attacks that you will be tough on terrorism and that if human rights laws stand in the way of doing that, you will be changing those laws. Surely, Theresa, that is not the best way to go about this business.

Firstly, you should not call these people ‘terrorists’ because they are ‘rebels’. Then, you should repeal any laws that prevent terrorism, so that they cannot be detained on suspicion for a period of time. You should also repeatedly try to deal with them through negotiations and ask other countries to do so too.

Why, you could even ask your Channel 4 chaps to make a documentary about them and promote their cause, highlighting how your troops detained suspected ‘rebels’ and abused their human rights. If necessary, we could even send our Foreign Minister to tell you to stop the war on these ‘rebels’!

I hope you don’t think my suggestions are preposterous. I was only taking a leaf out of your own government’s book, remembering what happened to us less than ten years ago. That was when there was peace in your country but we were at war and bombs were exploding almost daily in Colombo.

What I have suggested now is the advice we got then from your country. Remember how Britain sent its Foreign Secretary Miliband and his French counterpart to tell us to stop the war, when we were about to win it – and Mahinda maama had the courage to tell them to mind their own business?

Had we taken your advice, we would still be at war. Thousands would still be dying. Instead, we are now a peaceful country while bombs are exploding in yours. Don’t get me wrong, what happened to you recently is horrible, but it goes to show that what goes around, comes around, doesn’t it, Theresa?

Anyway, Theresa, we wish you luck because you will need a lot of it. Much is being made of the fact that you are your country’s second woman to become PM. As you would know, we gave the world its first woman PM and we’ve already had our second as well, so we are one up on you on that score too!

Yours truly,
Punchi Putha
PS: Remember the time when we were waging a war on terror and touring cricket teams would cancel visits here at the drop of a hat, because of the threat of terrorism. So, isn’t it strange that an international cricket tournament is being played in your country when bombs are exploding left, right and centre – and no one is even talking of pulling out of the tournament for security reasons? Ah, the hypocrisy never ends in the British Empire, does it?

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