Predicting Conservative leadership elections is neither an art nor a science. At best it’s guesswork based on who has a grudge, who wants a job and who wants to be on the winning side. Mostly all three. But let’s have a think for a moment what the winning side should be. The obsession of the candidates and their perfidious backers is whom the one hundred and sixty thousand party members will vote for. Important, but not the acid test. The side you really want to win over is the electorate. That’s what it’s all about. So let’s get sensible about this.
I would be delighted if Rishi Sunak became prime minister. Honest, decent and competent. But he was in the Cabinet backing Boris Johnson. And Starmer will have a field day. Egged on by Nadine Dorries, Mogg and the other peculiars who would have been shown the door by Thatcher. Today Sunak is riding high. Yet not as high as he would like to be.
Liz Truss, a staunch Remainer in 2016, is re-writing history. She was a ‘reluctant Remainer’. Really? What does she believe in apart from herself? Why did she betray her oath of office as Lord Chancellor to protect the judiciary from attacks by the press calling them the Enemies of the People. She now tells us, like the rest of this cowardly cabinet, that she objected to Sunak’s spending and taxation plans. She really is a piece of work.
And then there is Suella Braverman who besmirches the great office of Attorney General by being overtly partisan. A disgrace.
And now it appears that the bunting is out and the brass bands are playing as HMS Mordaunt was launched. But will she steam to victory. A clean start appears to be her brand. Really? Did she resign? No. Did she support our ghastly prime minister in all his perfidy and lies? Of course she did. At another time I could happily support her. But not now. There has to be a clean break from Boris. Anyone who is tainted will be destroyed at the despatch box and in the media. And by the electorate.
The Conservative party faithful should calculate in the same way they did when they voted for Boris Johnson. Vote for the candidate who has the best chance of winning.
So who are our clean skins. Tom Tugendhat is a good and decent man. A soldier. A leader. Someone you can trust. A great office of state perhaps. But not Prime minster. Yet.
Now, not for the first time, many of you will conclude that I have lost my marbles. I am on the left of the party. I am a Remainer. But I give my one hundred percent support to Kemi Badenoch. She is feisty, competent and (deep breath) has a vision. She can (& does) say things that nobody else can. She has the gift of saying the bloody obvious and believe me this is a minefield in politics. If you get the chance take a peek at her speech to the University of ideas on freedom of speech. First class. She only has junior ministerial experience. But who cares? Blair and Cameron had none. And she is being backed by Gove who can provide the intellectual heft. So the choice is simple. Vote for someone who is not tainted by Johnson. Vote for someone who who is honest and competent. And vote for someone who entered the leadership race to say something rather than be somebody. This may not be her time. But it should be.