I have never quite understood the attraction of Penny Mordaunt to party members & MPs. Well, in the last few days it has taken a knock. The omnipresent Lord Frost put his hobnail in, as did Lord Moylan, perhaps not always the sanest of our legislators. That was all about competence and drive. Important qualities in a Prime Minister and almost totally absent in the Johnson Cabinet. Then the Royal Navy fired a torpedo amidships. That she wasn’t even commissioned, timed out on her exams and that she has never seen service. They were so embarrassed that they felt that they had to make her an honorary captain. All this hype of military service is beginning to unravel. It just isn’t true.
But worse was yet to come. The clip shown on Sunday Morning of Mordaunt’s categorical denial that the government didn’t have a veto over Turkey’s accession to the EU also wasn’t true. But rather than say that she got it wrong she lied again. That we didn’t have a veto because David Cameron wouldn’t use it. Work that out.
Then there is the rather larger problem with her most recent run in with the truth, whether she favoured allowing the watering down the legal process for transitioning. The record speaks for itself. That was the government policy and she was the minister. It was reversed by Kemi Badenoch.
Let us not forget who is Mordaunt’s campaign manager. Andrea Leadsom. Just a moment. Didn’t she put a few porkies in her CV? How easy it is to forget these indiscretions. But the whole point of these elections is to bury all the cover ups and lies of the Johnson era. I suspect that unless there is some swift footwork and I don’t mean blaming all of this on smears, HMS Mordaunt is heading full steam for the iceberg. I imagine that some of her supporters are making a run for the lifeboats.
And how can we forget Liz Truss? I really wish I could. She is so wooden that she should be weather protected. In my last piece I reminded you of her rather crude about turns. Today a reminder of her seriously alarming dressing up box. Thatcher pictured on a tank. Truss pictured on a tank. Thatcher pictured with a calf. Truss pictured with a calf. Thatcher pictured on a motorbike. Truss pictured on motorbike. Thatcher pictured wearing a Russian hat. Truss pictured wearing a Russian hat. But the most hilarious costume change of all was on the first debate when she copied the outfit that Thatcher wore on her 1979 election broadcast. Liz, old fruit, I knew Margaret Thatcher and you ain’t no Margaret Thatcher.
Her ‘appeal’ appears to be continuity Boris. Oh, and let’s have a look at her supporters. Mogg and Dorries, which rather sounds like a 1950’s music hall act with an undertaker and the mortician’s assistant. We really have got to see the back of these people.
For the Conservatives to survive there has to be a fresh start and a clean break with the past. Dear old Tom Tugendhat, who would make a great Foreign Secretary or Secretary of State for Defence will be the next one to go. He’s had a good innings. Good luck to him.
I am a great fan of the West Wing. One line sticks in my mind is how two unknowns Bartlett and Santos were plucked from obscurity. ‘Is he the real deal?’ I know Kemi Badenoch and she is the real deal. And Conservative grass roots are beginning to come to the same conclusion. The latest Conservative Home poll released this morning puts her in the lead, eleven points above Truss. She is now the one to beat. It means that the gloves will be off. There will be smears. There will be black ops. In fact they have started already. The first is that she is merely a decoy to lead Sunak to victory. That was banged firmly on the head by her campaign manger Lee Rowley. She is not, as many first thought, just putting down a marker for a cabinet job. She really is in it to win it. And a word about Rowley. To be honest I’d never heard of him before. I first saw him perform on television on Sophie Ridge this morning. Impressive, personable and believable. He should be the public face of the campaign. He has a great future.
This is Kemi’s chance to put clear blue water between herself and the others. On the next debate she should throw caution to the wind and speak truth to power. Her pitch should be unifying the party and a break with the past. If a One Nation Conservative like me can enthusiastically beat the Badenoch drum there is a clear message. The divisions of the past can be healed. Take heed backbenchers. You could make history. But have you the courage?