The Tory leadership election both fascinates and repulses me in more or less equal measure. On the face of it, I don’t think they look a very talented bunch and in my view, they don’t look like a particularly pleasant bunch either. But one of them will win, and that person will be our Prime Minister, so it’s hardly a TV game show.
I almost fall into the category of ‘A non-Conservative who wants Rory Stewart to win’ – apparently there are lots of them about. But Stewart was a very poor environment minister (he signed off the Hen Harrier Inaction Plan after all) and I didn’t admire his ad hominem attacks on George Monbiot at the rewilding debate last July – they showed him in a bad light. And even his cv looks a bit thinner than it sounds once you read this fascinating and long profile of him in the New Yorker from way back in 2010.
But it’s not going to be Rory is it? Might it be Jeremy Hunt? It might. Or Andrea Leadsom? It might. Or Michael Gove? It looks less and less likely? Or Boris? Yes, it will probably be Boris.
We non-Conservatives rather hope it will be Boris and then feel guilty about it. Boris will be a bad Prime Minister and a bad leader of the Conservative Party. If Boris is PM we are much more likely to have a general election, I guess, and then we are much more likely not to care so much about who is the Conservative’s leader.
If I were a Conservative, and I most certainly am not, then I would probably vote for Michael Gove as the bright, tricky guy with real experience of government and low, sometimes very low, cunning. I can’t say that I feel wholly good about this but he is the one candidate who is policy-hardened and appears to be living in a recognisable version of the real world. Who would be your pick of the candidates, and why?
But Michael Gove looks unlikely to win and the Conservative Party is going to make a big mistake by electing Boris as their leader and our Prime Minister. That’s now an electorate of 140,000 (about the number of new members that the RSPB recruits each year to stand still at 1+ million members).
Where will that leave the environment? Well, if we mean Defra it almost certainly means a new Secretary of State as Gove will get some sort of promotion to mollify him. If we mean how will Boris treat the environment then heaven only knows. His sire, the wonderful pro-Remain Stanley Johnson is an environmentalist and a wildlife enthusiast, so maybe some of it, at the moment well-hidden, will have rubbed off on Boris. But the promise (although Boris isn’t good at keeping promises remember) is for a no-deal Brexit by 31 October if we can’t get a deal, and that will be a disaster under a right-wing Boris government. We’ll see environmental protection slashed if we crash out of the EU – mark my words.
Current odds from Betfair:
Boris Johnson 1/2
Jeremy Hunt 8/1
Andrea Leadsom 8.4/1
Michael Gove 25/1
Rory Stewart 29/1
Everyone else 33/1 or more.