Tory Leadership: Riders & Runners

We now know the runners and riders for the Tory leadership, and surprisingly this list shall not include Boris Johnson. 

“It’s easier to forgive an enemy than a friend”-William Blake

The story of this entirely morose debacle surely begins with a conversation on loyalty. The EUref was the catalyst for this leadership battle, because it divided friends and colleagues on a critical issue of national importance. In many respects the EU has been the 21st Century ‘Corn Laws’; as damaging and divisive for modern Toryism.

So if thinking on the runners and riders for the Tory leadership let’s first acknowledge the bitterness, the colliding senses of betrayal that forms the sad mood music to this drama.

William Blake wrote that it’s far easier to forgive enemies than friends when they cross you. Probably because the feeling of betrayal is absent if an enemy shoots your gander. Boris had his leadership ambitions consumed and destroyed largely because of loyalty. Gove faces a tough task convincing the party that he isn’t the ‘cuckoo in the nest’ vis-a-vis Boris, Brexit & replacing Cameron. Theresa May seeking to justify her disingenuous ‘silent support’ for ‘remain’. All of it a patchwork of betrayal, questions on loyalty and forgiveness.

  1. Michael Gove

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“Yet each man kills the thing he loves…The coward does it with a kiss
The brave man with a sword” -Oscar Wilde

Mr Gove’s road to the leadership battle has lead him across the corpses of David Cameron & George Osborne – both Gove’s close friends in real life & in politics. But for Gove principle and conviction comes before loyalty to friends (and Gove; ironically; is loyal as hell to friends). If anyone is the radical, the reformer likely to overhaul the establishment it’s Gove. Teresa May might be a female, but that is where her comparison to Thatcher ends. Gove seems to me to be the Mrs Thatcher candidate here. And I don’t mean that in terms of his policies and proposals; more in terms of his psychology. Thatcher, like Gove advocated radical changes to vested interests. Thatcher, like Gove, advocated tearing up the established order (both nationally & Tory). Gove like Thatcher has a set of values that guide his moral principles and won’t take ‘no’ for an answer in pursuit of them.

Of course Gove is now the #Brexit Tory candidate for leadership, but what makes him more interesting is this: he’s the modernisers moderniser. Gove combines Thatcherite free-market beliefs with a radically liberal and open social outlook. Thus Gove has big appeal to the socially liberal Tory. He’s got a strong platform going forward. And unlike Boris, he isn’t detested by pro-EU remain Tories like myself.

Say what you like about Gove but there is no arguing with his intellect and bravery. And despite the euroscepticism, Gove does hold strong appeal to a socially liberal moderniser like myself.

2. Theresa May

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“In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt

Theresa May has emerged as the ‘unifying candidate’; the one potential leader capable of being acceptable to both Brexit & Remain  Tories. This didn’t happen by accident. She planned it this way. Officially backed ‘remain’, but barely campaigned. Supported Britain withdrawing from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). She carefully executed a position leaving her with minimal damage, untainted by the toxicity of the EUref.

May is no fool.

Further, Theresa is another moderniser, she coined the phrase “nasty party”. Yet, unlike Gove she isn’t a radical reformer. She represents a much more Burkean idea of reform. It should happen slowly, bringing a coalition of people nationally aboard. And May is no socially liberal mind – she’s more authoritarian than libertarian. Her time as Home Secretary proves that.

Could I support her? Perhaps. She isn’t a Brexiteer Tory, she didn’t wield a knife against David Cameron (I’m a Cameroon). She was on ‘my side’ of the EUref, at least in theory. But she is a ‘prison works’ kind of Tory.

3. Andrea Leadsom

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“Nothing is more frightening than a fear you cannot name.”
― Cornelia Funke, Inkheart

Leadsom is unknown, with little governmental experience. The EUref launched her into a national prominence. What are her values? Where is she regarding modernisation? Is she socially liberal or a socially conservative type? Who knows. And to my mind there is nothing more frightening than the unknown. Leadsom could be someone I share a lot of views with, or she could be the opposite wing of the party from me.

Given that she campaigned so strongly for Brexit, and is a fierce eurosceptic doesn’t augur well.

4. Stephen Crabb

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Not in a million years would I ever support this guy. Not my favourite person. I’ll never be supporting this one. Opposed equal marriage, and was linked with gay-to-straight conversation therapy. His links to the dangerously homophobic group CARE disgusts me. I’m gay, I don’t need ‘cured’. Such thinking is deeply harmful. Now he publicly renounced these views, but sorry, I can’t endorse a man with that kind of ‘section 28’ history.

People change, but my rights as a gay male isn’t negotiable.

5. Liam Fox

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He’s the voice of the rightwing of the party, basically the exact opposite wing than me. I’ll never support him, but he is an honest man of convictions. I respect him, but cannot ever support his bid for leadership.

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