What’s the story mourning Tories?
If it looks like a lame duck, quacks like a lame duck, and walks like a lame duck, it’s a lame duck. Theresa May is right now a lame duck. In a vague attempt to cling onto power she’s gone into a coalition with some other ducks — including ducks who oppose drakes’ fertility rights, and want other ducks ethnically cleansed, particularly if those ducks believe the bread pensioners throw to them is the literal not metaphysical embodiment of Christ. This lame duck is now leading a Rump Parliament into Brexit, needing to produce a bill that will appeal to both wings of a divided party. I do not imagine she will remain squatting in Number 10 for too long.
The Tories know they have to rid themselves of this lame duck, lest it drag the entire team to the bottom of the pond. But what they don’t have is an agreed upon candidate for the next leader.
One name that is being considered it the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd. Rudd was one of the few Tories to prove themselves well during the campaign. She took part in the leaders’ debates after Theresa May’s cowardly ducking out — when it later transpired she has lost her father just days before it made her performance even more impressive, and May’s refusal to participate even more cowardly. The big thing that is holding Rudd back is her narrow majority within her own constituency. With a bellyful of wine I watched her eke out a 300 vote win over the Labour challenger in Hastings. (1% of the majority owned by the Shadow Home Secretary, all the more amusing following the Tory’s unpleasant campaign against Diane.) Should she lead the party in a general election with that wafer-thin margin of error she might find that a host of Momentum activists will be knocking on doors, sensing the ultimate prize: to unseat a Prime Minister.
She’s also pretty posh. When Richard Curtis wanted a host of well-heeled men and women to amble around the background of Four Weddings, he appointed Rudd his “Aristocracy Co-ordinator” — visible on the credits if you look hard enough! — due to her connections with the well-connected. The Tory’s policy of looking to win over key seats in ‘the Labour heartlands’ rests on having a leader who can connect with Brexit voters who have been ‘left behind by globalisation’. I can’t imagine someone tasked with making a film that already starred Hugh Grant even posher could do that particularly well.
Philip Hammond is another possibility. After being purposefully and brazenly humiliated by May during the campaign he has been able to reassert his authority following a disastrous election result for the Prime Minister. He’s even used his newfound power to tour TV studios talking about his own preferred plans for leaving the EU is if they were party policy: proving that the only response to someone undermining you is to mine lower. But if May suffered for being insufficiently charismatic then “Spreadsheet Phil” might not be the man to solve that particular quandry. Hammond’s a grey suit, a man with all the personality of a Betamax recording of John Major, he’s as inspiring as the suggestion of drizzle. I’ve been through his entire wikipedia page and the most interesting thing about him is he went to the same school as two members of The Only Way Is Essex’s cast.
Him and Rudd both suffer from the problem of being Remainers. May was a Reamainer, but she was sufficiently weak that the Brexity wing of her party was aware that they could control her. While the Tories promoted her as The Virgin Queen, seeing off the Armada, in reality they knew she was a Spanish conversa, sweating under the scrutiny of The Inquisition. The Euroscpetics won’t make the mistake of allowing someone who isn’t one of their own to lead the party again.
So, onto the Leavers. David Davis would be better suited to the Tories assault on the North. He’s a no-nonsense working-class Tory who could actually articulate what blue-collar conservatism really means, as well developing policies to directly appeal to areas where “Tory” is a dirty word. He wouldn’t make the mistake everyone has made in the face of Jeremy Corbyn; too many people pick fluff out of their navels waiting for the bearded socialist to slip on a bananan skin; as a friend of the Labour leader’s Davis would respect him enough to run a solid campaign that treated him as a political heavyweight.
Yet Davis has repeatedly shown a lack of political maturity or thinking. His vanity by-election over the Counter-Terrorism Bill was an act of grandstanding that made him look more nag than stud. During the 2005 Conservative leadership election he lined up with two Page 3 models — with “IT’S DD FOR ME” emblazoned across their chests — and still managed to be the biggest boob in the picture.
The main problem for David (68, York) is having entered a leadership election race and lost, and then bottled entering the subsequent one, he is beginning to look a little like yesterday’s man.
So, who’s left? Who’s the giant pachyderm, trumpeting, stamping its feet, but thus far going unmentioned? Boris.
No politician is more recognisable from their first name alone, or from the exact colour of straw that their hair grows in, than Boris. Ever since he achieved the impossible, and won the Mayoralty of — an even then fairly solidly Labour — London from Ken (another one name politico), Boris’ rise has been marked. He was The King Across The Water during David Cameron’s time in Parliament, always more loved by the Tory Party faithful than the partner they were making do with. Yes, he’s posh, but in a self-aware way, that has always endeared him to ordinary people in a way that the much more aristocratic Cameron’s attempts to pass himself off as middle-class ever did. People who don’t like the Conservative politicians, people who don’t like politicians full stop, always regarded Boris with some warmth.
That, however, has hugely changed. While the Mayor of London Boris was a fine mascot for the capital, but you don’t put Gunnersaurus in charge of the transfer kitty. Boris has also changed immeasurably since then. While he cast himself as a liberal, Europhile, pro-immigration Conservative during his period as London mayor, during the Brexit campaign he got into bed with Nigel Farage and took part in the nastiest political campaign since Smethwick. This shouldn’t have surprised anyone who has taken interest in Boris’ career, a career that started with glib jokes about “picaninnies” and Africans with “watermelon smiles”. That public school bigotry was successfully hidden while he begged for votes from a multicultural electorate, but it was just below the surface. Similarly, Boris’ thuggish behaviour during the recent election, which included the ill-advised decision to square up to former coal-miner Ian Lavery, was par for the course for a man who conspired to have a journalist beaten up. All politicians have skeletons in their closet; Boris is the only one to hang his suits up in a catacombs.
So, who’s left? No-one. The Conservative front bench is a succession of mediocrities and the repulsive. The Tories desperately need a new leader, but their most likeable senior figure is stuck in the Scottish Parliament. In contrast the Labour front bench includes people like Angela Rayner and Barry Gardiner, and one the backbenches Clive Lewis or Louise Haigh would be more than capable of carrying the torch. As shitty as the present looks for the Tories things can only get worse. As disapointing as the present looks for Labour things… well, you know the song.