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Sunday, 26 May 2019

Runners and riders for the Downing Street Cup

This is not quite a parochial post as the Leader chosen by the 160,000 members of the Conservative Party will also be the Prime Minister - so everyone has an interest in these hustings. Here are my initial opinions

Mediocity is one of the French bourgouis virtues (Assiduité, Economie, Mediocrité, Conjugalité, Tenacité, Optomisme, Dynamisme, Modernité*) but it's never been an English one. Yet this field of runners has more mediocre, almost unrecognisable, candidates than any other I can remember. And a good deal of utterly unrealistic self-love from those who have absolutely no chance.

Boris Johnson - Best election-winner but a man with flaws. He frightens the EU and is the biggest obstacle to the Brexit Party's ambitions. Can he be trusted to deliver? That's the question

Dominic Raab - Bland and clean with good Brexit credentials but does he have leadership charisma - the sort that comforts Remainers and wins Conservative voters back to the fold?

Michael Gove - Pretty well loathed by the public for being a didactic arse and by Tory Brexiteers for betraying Boris, his loyalty to May will not have helped him. No electoral charisma, a cold technocrat. Might make a decent Chancellor so long as he is sackable.

Andrea Leadsom - Decent all-rounder with a spine who was not afraid to stand up to the sanctimonious dwarf. Sufficient distance from May to be credible. But however unfair, illogical and plain wrong it may be, I have a feeling in my water that being a woman may disadvantage her this time around and next time she may be just a liitle too long in the tooth.

Jeremy Hunt - Another bland and clean minister of indeterminate age indeterminate accomplishments and indeterminate ability. I can't recall a single interesting thing about him.

Penny Mordaunt -  I like Penny. A lot. Her maiden speech still stands out for warmth, real humour, intelligence and a finely judged use of opportunity without seeming forward. She has myriad sterling qualities. However, the one she lacks - through no fault of her own - is ministerial / cabinet experience. Our next Leader (but one).

Rory Stewart - The Party's fantasist - both with a record of making stuff up and the delusion that he is electable. Said to be an original thinker. He has a weird face.

Sajid Javid - Clean and bland and calculating. He's nursed his career with an eye to the top spot and puts his credentials on public display in a noticeable way. But what does he believe in, apart from himself?

Amber Rudd -  Just No. Her delusion that she can partner with Boris is pure unrealistic fantasy, just like her support of May's treasonous deal

David Lidington - David would win prizes for mediocrity. If Blandness were an Olympic event, he'd take gold.

Matthew Hancock - Who?

James Cleverly - Another of the Dulwich School hopefuls. A real crawler. No real ability.

Steve Baker - A competent man with real beliefs. Also a trained engineer and ex-RAF officer. Ideologically sound. Superb ministerial material - but does he connect with voters?

Esther McVey - Again, a strong and capable personality with her feet on the ground. Much respect. Again, good cabinet material but does she have a natural sense of humour? Humour is important to me. Not essential, but I find those that have it are better people.

*All English Men Chew Toffee On Dreary Mondays has fixed these tedious virtues in my head for forty years. 

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Raed,
With your permission, I reproduce here a letter I sent to my MP last week...

Dear ***

I have so enjoyed our correspondence, and given how right I have proved to be over the last few months, I thought I might tempt you further with another short analysis.

It seems to me that 'Conservative' MPs are still deluded about the precarious nature of their position.

In both local and Euro elections, the electorate has given a withering verdict on Mrs May, her lamentable Government and the failure to deliver Brexit.

Any attempt by the Conservative establishment to foist another Remainer on the country will result in the death of the Tory Party.

There is a once-in-a-Century shake up happening in politics, and the old parties that tried to straddle the Remain/Leave divide are being punished. Brutally.

Labour, with its own straddle, is losing votes to the Lib Dems, who, whatever their failings, do have a national infrastructure, and are very well set to pick up the Remainer vote, in contrast to the Chuk vanity project.

The Conservatives, meanwhile, are haemorrhaging support, a little (Remainers) to the Lib Dems and Greens, and a vast amount (Leavers) to the Brexit Party.

I am aware that there is a good deal of complacency in CCHQ and Westminster that the only election that matters is a General Election, and that with a new leader, Tory voters will swing back behind traditional loyalties.

There is a very real risk that this does not happen. With a Remainer (Rudd, Stewart) it is certain that it will not. With a Remainer turned WA supporter (Hunt, Javid) it is almost certain that it will not. With an avowed Leaver turned May supporter (Gove, Mordaunt) it is highly likely that it will not. Even with an avowed Leaver who did not support the WA (Johnson, Raab) there is a huge mountain to climb for a Party that has seemingly gone out of its way to alienate its members and the wider electorate.

In addition, it would be a mistake to draw a direct line between the fruitcakes and misfits from UKIP with Mr Farage's new outfit. He has clearly learnt a lot of lessons from his past experience, and in particular from regular exposure to Donald Trump and his successful campaigning abilities.

There is an existential threat to the Conservative Party, and it will only be countered by a recognition by Conservative MPs that they have badly misjudged the mood of the nation. And by implementing a leadership and policies that recognise the new realities.

Voters vote, not businesses, not the CBI, nor the Bank of England, or the Treasury.

And unless the soon-to-be completed, and fervently desired departure of Mrs May is followed by a substantial shift in the Party's position, it will face an electoral thrashing as savage as the Conservatives saw in Canada in 1993.

You should have voted to sack May in December. That you didn’t has made the position much worse now. It is imperative that the leadership election in June throws up a choice for the Party membership that is serious about delivering a real Brexit, not a Brussels-cooked trap like the WA.

Yours in good spirits


James Higham said...

Baker is the best of that bunch, Boris he most popular. Andrea Jenkyns?

Edward Spalton said...

In days of innocency after the referendum I rather favoured Leadsom because of her prior Eurosceptic record, compared with May.
What finished that viewpoint was not her silly remarks about having children ( unlike May) but her commitment to invoke Article 50
as soon as she was elected. Cameron had insisted on “ no Plan B” preparations by civil servants, so this was an utterly reckless
commitment, taken in total ignorance. It is about par for British ministers and MPs to have no knowledge of how the EU actually works. So I immediately marked her down as a political airhead.

With regard to Cameron’s decision on “no Plan B”, I have since come to the conclusion that it was in part designed to keep
ministers in ignorance of the true depth of our subjection to the EU, as well as by arrogant contempt for the voters. The resignation of Sir
Ivan Rogers before May’s Lancaster House speech demonstrated that knowledge of the extent of EU entanglement was unwelcome
to politicians who wanted to believe that we could “ have our cake and eat it” and that the EU was bound to come running eventually
“Because they sell more to us than we do to them”. David Davis said as late as December 2017 that he didn’t have to know very much
or do very much because of this. All he had to do was keep calm.

Something like the present train wreck was inevitable from Lancaster House onwards and watching its approach has been my least
favourite experience in forty years of opposition to the European project.

right-writes said...

Steve Baker is the honest one that is bent on making Brexit happen.

Unlike Boris, he did not support Mrs' May's bollocks.

However, if you want the party to take on Nigel... You need Boris.

DeeDee99 said...

Oh come on Raedwald. Jeremy Hunt is well known for something ...... not remembering if his wife is Chinese .... or is it Japanense? ...... or hold on .........err!

The CONs have got one chance; BoJo, or obliteration. And BoJo may well mess up. He's not as good a performer as he likes to think. He mumbles, bumbles, speaks too slowly and - in a debate with Nigel - I think Nigel would beat him.

Jack the dog said...

Truly a field of candidates remarkable mainly for their extreme mediocrity.

It has to be Boris really, but I do have my doubts.

None of the others are better.

Cheerful Edward said...

Raedwald, as you well know, last time that this happened, the 160,000 you claim did not get to choose from all contenders.

The shortlist was decided for them, wasn't it?

decnine said...

Gove's track record suggests he is better suited to greasing the pole than to reaching the top of it.

DiscoveredJoys said...

"Mediocity is one of the French bourgouis virtues..." Indeed. You could make an argument that our political (FPTP) and legal systems, arising from common law, are adversarial in nature and have punished mediocrity. The Continental systems, based on Napoleonic/Roman law, are much more about forming consensus, where mediocrity is seen as a virtue.

Philosophically Brexit has been about whether we continue with our adversarial traditions or fall in with the EU consensual traditions. In my opinion adversarial traditions have the advantage in the wider world stage, although they can be wasteful. Consensus traditions cost less... but return only modest benefits, modest growth, and pay less attention to the little people.

May's problem was that she was determined to create a consensual Brexit through her own adversarial actions - a position with built in contradiction. The next Prime Minister has to lead people, not jolly all people along.

RAC said...

JRM isn't on your list, does he not wish to be a runner. I'd rate him brighter than Boris any day.

DiscoveredJoys said...

@RAC

Currently JRM is the 'first' supporter of Bojo on the 'runners and riders' list on order-order.com .

Elby the Beserk said...

Priti Patel?

Dave_G said...


I reckon we'll end up with Boris and also rue the day we do too.

He's as much a Globalist shill as May and will dance on his puppeteers strings to our detriment. The fact that 'we' decided Boris was the answer will also mean we 'agree' to whatever he proposes as a solution to Brexit and only the most gullible amongst us will believe we will get anything like what we voted for in terms of Leaving - we'll get a Boris-version of Brexit that does what May wanted but is couched in different (bumbling) terminology.

The Tories are missing a trick - if they can't find a trans-ethnic-green solution they may simply decide a lesbian mother in the name of Ruth Davidson is the answer.



right-writes said...

@Dave_G: Indeed, I had not considered nuch further than Brexit with my not altogether ringing endorsement.

As you say, he is a globalist shill, as we discovered when he became mayor and all of a sudden went "green"... apparently, he had seen the evidence and it was compelling...

... More likely he was sat down in a room somewhere and "educated" in the same way that most US presidents are after their inauguration...

... apart from Trump of course.

Nick Drew said...

Penny Mordaunt?

"Trans women are women" P.Mordaunt, 2018

0/100

Anonymous said...

My humble opinion; I think the principles come first. The charisma, presentational skills can be taught as i believe happened with Thatcher.

Span Ows said...

@Elby the Beserk, 10:06

The only one who named a Top 5 name on my list: Priti Patel. Recently stitched up by the same civil servants that are betraying brexit. with her comes a clean out.

OK, maybe not right into PM BUT definitely a star lieutenant.

Steve Baker with Mark Francois and Priti patel. Plus Marcus Fysh, Owen Patterson and John Redwood: dream team

Anonymous said...

Picking up on various pieces here- I don't believe charisma can be taught - you have it or you don't, that's it. Try to define charisma - it's like will-o-the-wisp, difficult to grasp. Certainly it cannot be taught otherwise we could all have it.

The Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson is an avid Remainer no matter her other qualities, that rules her out.

Boris is feared both by the EU and by Labour which are two good reasons to vote for him and he has the charisma to win elections, all is irrelevant if you can't win. He is a true Brexiteer and worked in the EU for many years. I believe we have to hold our nerve and vote for him. Raab I like too but not sure he has the charisma to win back voters. His time will come. Baker is very good but not experienced enough. Hunt is far too smooth and bland, groomed like IBM man and was a Remainer. Javid voted Remain with one eye on his career.

Talking about consensus, in no other elections do we pander to the losers, even if they lost by only one vote, and particularly for Brexit there can be no consensus - we are either cleanly OUT without any entanglements, or we REMAIN in. Like being pregnant, you either are or you aren't. That's it.

Cheerful Edward said...

"Steve Baker with Mark Francois and Priti patel. Plus Marcus Fysh, Owen Patterson and John Redwood: dream team"

Thanks, Span. I really needed a roar-out-loud-with-laughter moment this morning :-D

Span Ows said...

I am genuinely pleased about that Ed: laughing is good for you and despite your log-in name you seem a real sour-puss as far as Brexit etc is concerned.

I will vote Brexit party if I can but I can understand why my CON dream-team would be a nightmare for you. ;-)

Smoking Scot said...

It is very difficult to take an introverted personality type and suddenly instil charisma.

Had that been easy then Gordon Brown would have been first in the queue.

However passion, belief, enthusiasm and straight get up and go are equally endearing qualities. They command respect - and that's where many of those mentioned fail.

Yes I have avoided honesty because by the nature of the beast a certain amount of fibbing, or not filling the blanks are part of the charade we're forced to endure.

Yet more than anything is a real belief in your country.

Mr. Putin is not interested in charisma, nor that po faced chap who runs China. Maggie had naff all charisma, though she knew how to play the crowds (of supporters). Ditto Donald, though you either respect, admire or envy him. Or you loathe him.

On the other hand, Mr. Regan did have that elusive charisma and his love of nation was palpable. Very few people genuinely despised him, or at least kept quiet about it.

Borderer said...

I think this recent observation about Johnson sums it up:

"That a serial plagiarist, a known liar, thief, bully and thug – with a record of incompetence in office – can be presented as a serious candidate for the highest political office in the land has to rank as one of the lowest points in British political history."

Anonymous said...

"a trans-ethnic-green solution"

The Mekon ?

Dave_G said...


I, for one, welcome our new Mekon Overlords.

You can almost guarantee that any new leader will have as much in common with the electorate as some alien impostor anyway.