It’s very difficult to know what to think

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.

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12 Replies to “It’s very difficult to know what to think”

  1. Written before the first vote Mark. Leadsom, outsider at 8.4/1, gone! Back in 2016 I met the remain bus on tour carrying, among others, Stanley Johnson and Caroline Lucas. Stanley seemed greatly dismayed that his offspring had opted for Brexit. I was sad to see him at Boris's launch last night with a broad grin on his face. Family and Party before country.

  2. Loved fishing out and reading that New Yorker article on Rory Stewart, thank you for the tip. I found he came accross as a cleverer and slightly younger at heart JRM...
    Judging by the voting records of the Number 10 candidates, there is not much between them.

  3. Dont think I have a proper comment. Its all too ghastly,and there isn't even cricket to distract me as its raining in both Nottingham and Chelmsford..........

  4. Now I'm over celebrating that my "esteemed" MP came last in this round of the beauty contest I'd probably veer towards Gove above Boris if it came down to these two, as it might. What a Hobson's Choice that one is though. But we might get a General Election if it's Boris. Hard to second guess anything and I'm finding much more interesting watching the recently fledged blue and great tits feasting on the feeders & the young pigeon and magpie trying to butt in. That all seems more real somehow.....or - sudden thought - maybe that's some kind of metaphor for the Westminster Beauty Pageant??

  5. OMG! A general Election? Corbyn or Johnson! Or even Farage!! AAARRRGGGHHH!
    When's the next flight to Canada?
    Not a very erudite contribution - but I don't feel erudite.
    Just seriously depressed at the mess we (i.e. GB-plc) have created.

  6. What an awful lot they are. The Tory Party is an arrogant lot, thinking that they are the true party of government of this country. The real true is, is that they are slowly but surely reducing this country to a fourth or fifth rate world country and their concern about meaningful wildlife protection is zero or even negative. Whatever person is elected as Tory leader I fear this disaster that is currently in progress will continue unabated until a change of government takes place.

  7. For what it is worth, if history tells us anything, the favourite rarely wins the Tory party leadership. But then, Brexit has turned politics on its head.

    My hunch is that it will come down to Boris, Gove and Rory Stewart in the last three. It would not surprise me if Rory won, based on history. I think (and I am surprising myself in writing this), the environment would be better served by Gove, but may be this is based on the candidates! I think it is more probable Boris will win.

  8. I would have to vote for Gove as he has been one of the best SoS for Environment in recent history.

  9. Trying to look on the bright side, if Boris does win he might alienate enough moderate Conservative voters that he loses the next election (whenever that might be). I'm not at all sure about Gove and the claims that he has been a good SoS for the environment. Compared with his predecessors a plank of wood would look good. Yes he has said some good things, but what have his actions amounted to?

    1. No, that is how the left works. You alienate people they vote accordingly. That is not how the right works, they are far too tribal. For the rightists there is literally no scenario where a candidate is so distasteful that they vote outside the tribe. They'll complain and infight, but when crunch time comes they'll hold their nose and fall in line.

      You could have the worst and most repulsive rightist candidate possible, and the veritable second coming of Jesus (deputied by Francis of Assisi) and the right would react with the same horror of a non-tribe member as always, and still vote for their candidate. That is just how their minds work. In fact the more it is demonstrated how wrong and repulsive they are, the more deeply the right falls in love because they have this pathological need to defend the tribe.


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