Being Prime Minister is about so much more than decision making and policy delivery. These things may, of course, be central to the job but effective leadership requires something extra – the inspiration of confidence.
A PM who has lost the faith of colleagues and voters will find it very hard to carry on.
With this truth in mind, we wonder how long Theresa May can cling to office.
The Prime Minister had already scuppered her reputation for competence by calling a snap general election with the express purpose of boosting the size of her parliamentary party and then campaigning so poorly that the Tories lost their majority before the tragic events at Grenfell Tower but, since then, doubts over her fitness to hold the highest office have only grown stronger.
The very least the survivors of the tower block fire deserved was for the Prime Minister to meet them, look them in the eyes, and promise that what they had experienced would have consequences, both in terms of ensuring that similar tragedies are prevented in future and in seeing that anyone found to have failed to ensure the safety of residents during refurbishment of the block is held accountable.
Instead, while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and London Mayor Sadiq Khan met survivors and angry residents, the Prime Minister’s visit to Grenfell Tower on Thursday was tightly controlled to minimise the risk that she might meet members of the public.
This was a catastrophic misjudgment of the public mood. What happened at Grenfell Tower has not only shaken those directly affected. This is a national tragedy which, inevitably, raises concerns about the safety of tower blocks across the UK.
The nation needed to see and hear May among those people laying flowers near the site of the tragedy, promising that she and her government would do right by them.
May’s failure to provide real, compelling leadership in the aftermath of the disaster has already had consequences. Angry protestors have gathered at council offices in Kensington and outside Downing Street; a national tragedy has led to a troubling and volatile situation.
The Prime Minister must bear some responsibility for the growing tension. Instead of demonstrating any understanding of the anger felt by those who experienced the horrors of the Grenfell Tower blaze, May give the firm impression of being aloof and emotionally detached.
The Tory Party may have no appetite for another general election but that should not prevent senior figures from being willing to remove the current Prime Minister from office. The country demands leadership during times of crises. May has simply failed to provide it.
The country will not stand for a Prime Minister in hiding. If the Conservative Party does not recognise this truth soon, there may be grave electoral consequences.