An attack on modern day slavery. Standing up to the hugely inappropriately named 'honour' violence. Talking tough on FGM. Perhaps the defining speech of #CPC16, Home Secretary Amber Rudd presentation started off so well. Then it plunged as steeply as a vertical drop at the theme park.
If she was attempting to 'out-Ukip-Ukip,' she blundered spectacularly. How on earth threatening to make businesses reveal how many foreign workers they employ; forbidding them from hiring foreign workers; and targeting overseas students with tougher visa rules, can be synonymous with Theresa May's claim to hold the centre ground in British politics is beyond me.
Perhaps being a 'Remainer' Rudd just doesn't get it. The Remain camp never could understand the Brexit argument for opening Britain up to the world, as opposed to keeping our country stifled within the confines of an EU that only took care of its own interests. The fact EU protectionism is driving farmers in Africa deeper and deeper into poverty by preventing the kind of free trade agreements that would help developing nations lift themselves out of hardship and civil war, were arguments lost on those desperate to keep us in the EU.
If felt as if Amber Rudd was attempting to overcompensate for 'not getting Brexit' by pushing a message of petty nationalism and anti-immigrant sentiment that spun way, way to the right of anything proposed by Ukip. More likely though, it is what her boss wanted.
For all Theresa May's reassuring comments about overcoming injustice and unfairness, let's not forget it was she who launched the 'immigrants go home' vans, nor that she is still refusing to give any reassurances to the three million EU citizens already living in Britain that they will be allowed to stay here.
Her current preference seems to be for using them as 'bargaining chips,' in case the EU cuts up rough, whereas Ukip's position throughout has always been that they can stay. We've always adopted a position of opposing the EU's bad behaviour, not mirroring it, and these are people who came here in good faith and whom we should continue to accept in good faith. They are people with lives and homes and families.
Anyone who has the right to live and work in Britain must be treated equally. In voting for Brexit, I didn't vote for anyone who wasn't born here to be harassed and made to feel like a pariah in their workplaces, forced to sign some discriminatory document stating their nationality. I didn't vote for students who want to study at our best universities to benefit from the academia and culture to have to jump through additional hoops, especially not when all of them will be paying their full way when we leave the EU. And while I fully support the government's efforts to get anyone who can work, into work, I certainly didn't vote Brexit to force British workers into jobs they may be entirely unsuited to.
The most compelling reason for small businesses owners in particular to vote to leave the EU was to free themselves from excessive interference and burdensome regulation. Most will be dismayed that the government is now proposing bringing in new legislation to make life difficult, and wholly unnecessary legislation at that. Before we joined the EU, if a UK company wanted to employ a worker from France or Germany, they could. Businesses were allocated a certain number of work permits and they could use all, none or some of them.
This new idea should never have survived breakfast. Yes, British businesses should be freed from current restraints that prevent them choosing to employ British workers, suppliers or service providers, because of EU equality and procurement legislation, but forcing them to do so is an entirely different matter.
"With the Tories veering to the right, it is also critically important that Ukip's new leader can occupy the compassionate, common sense, centre ground"
Some commentators are stating that the polices Amber Rudd announced show the Tory party has gone 'full Ukip.' I say no, these polices are way, way more extreme than anything Ukip has suggested. They are deeply worrying.
One soundbite I believe will stick from Diane James' short and ill-fated time as Ukip leader is that our party needs to be the 'opposition in waiting.' She was right: never before has it been so essential that Ukip gets its act together and finds a stable, competent, sensible leader to take the fight to both the Tories and Labour, and hold them each to account.
With the Tories veering to the right, it is also critically important that Ukip's new leader can occupy the compassionate, common sense, centre ground. If Ukip can't step up to the plate and deliver on that, voters will have a radical choice only between May's aristocratic right and the Trotskyist left under Corbyn. Voters will be ill served by such a Hobson's choice, one as unpalatable as the current dilemma US citizens are facing in choosing between the extremes of Clinton and Trump.
Ukip can offer voters the libertarian, free-thinking, common sense, and also small-state, internationalist agenda that the country is crying out for, all of which Theresa May has rejected in her speech this afternoon. All we need now is to find the right leader to deliver the winning formula.