Sunday 5 March 2017

Meet the Next Tory Leader

Let's leave behind the argy-bargy and specumalations surrounding Jeremy Corbyn and his leadership, and turn our attention to the Conservatives and who will succeed Theresa May. It's not exciting anyone at the moment because the issue is beyond settled. May convincingly took the farce of the Tory party leadership contest and now rides high in the polls. And yet, as everyone obsesses about Labour's difficulties we have a tendency to forget that May possesses a sliver of a majority, and adding Copeland to her tally does nothing to change that. Brexit is a destruction derby's worth of car crashes waiting to happen, little of which is going to reflect positively on her. The backbenchers might start getting restless, especially if sense is imbibed and a hard Brexit avoided. And there are those pesky events - the economy, NHS, schools, disability cuts - threatening to throw a spanner in the works. Oh, and lest we forget, the Tory electoral fraud story is menacing the outer edges of the problems piling into the PM's in tray.

Okay, assume May is going and the Tory benches are jostling and jockeying. Who will it be? The big beasts are set to pile in. Bottler Boris will be itching for another try. Disgraced serving minister Liam Fox and David Davis are sure to have a punt. Anna Soubry and the unlamented George Osborne are odds on to pitch in, and don't be surprised if the likes of "Handbags" Fallon, the dread Leadsom and Jake Rees-Mogg chuck in too. Yet I don't think any of these will win.

Long-time readers know I have a soft spot for Ruth Davidson. And seriously, who doesn't. From the distance of 200 miles and mediated by telly and Twitter, she comes across as smart, warm, funny, genuine. You could almost forget that as the leader of the Scottish Tories she stands implacably opposed to the interests of our movement. Now, the Tories are doing well but their historic problems haven't gone away. Secular decline in membership and vote share is temporarily offset by the exigencies of the moment, but in the long-term demographic change still favours Labour, hence the boundary review. To solve their problem, the Tories need to intersect with the rising generation: their bank of "mature voters" is paying negative interest, after all.

Someone like Ruth Davidson is what they need, someone not too obviously tainted with Tory baggage like cruel politics and comic batshittery. Someone who appears to take the one-nationism seriously, cares about working class people and their aspirations, comes across well and hails from a relatively normal background. And someone with a bit of drive too.

Unfortunately, the Tories have such a woman who isn't safely penned away at Holyrood. Apart from Johnson, who was a national political figure already, she's the stand out from the party's 2015 intake. I'm making a long range forecast now. She's charismatic, media friendly, has a few maverick tendencies but, from the standpoint of copy, for the right reasons. Ambitious, she put in for the Cambs and Peterboro' mayoralty and didn't get it, but that speaks of someone chafing at the relative powerlessness of the backbenches. That local role had real decision-making teeth to it, which no doubt proved quite tempting. So, if she has an opportunity to go for the top job, she will. And mark my words, she'll probably get it. Dear reader, I give you our movement's future nemesis: Heidi Allen MP.


John Robinson said...

Interesting to see how this pans out, Phil

Anonymous said...

I genuinely don't think she has enough of a "base" in the party to be a viable option in the immediate future tbh (though equally, she is young enough to play a longer game if she has any ambitions to lead)

One does wonder if she will be offered anything as long as May is PM?