The appointment of Britain’s next prime minister is on the horizon, and both Sunak and Truss are exchanging a war of words over how best to approach the economic crisis. Anyone remotely caught up in the political whirlwind will know that it is up to the members to determine their fate.
Some would say they have the power to cherry pick the next leader, others would challenge the accuracy of the phrase ‘cherry pick’, with most candidates, including socially conservative Suella Braverman and liberal-minded Tom Tugendhat, being removed from the competition before the members even get a say.
Rather than paid-up members owning the freedom to select from a pool of candidates that reflect their preferred school of thought and strand of conservatism, they are coerced into voting for one of two establishment politicians – both of which playing a pivotal role in the previous Johnson regime.
Does that not damage their credibility?
Whilst some see this as undemocratic and illegitimate, it should be emphasised that this is the usual process for any Conservative leadership contest. Though the flaws of the process were exposed in 2016 when Theresa May claimed victory in the contest after her opponent, Andrea Leadsom, infamously withdrew at the last minute.
This highlighted the contempt the party has for its members having the final say.
It epitomises the establishment class and how they would rather, as they perceive it, a ‘safe’ pair of hands take the reins of power to persevere with the conventional economic and cultural wisdom.
An ambitiously minded radical, like Margaret Thatcher, is resisted and disdained by the powers that be, which is why the members are not the ones narrowing down the candidates. Even the iron lady was ousted by the ‘wets’ of her party for endorsing unpopular Eurosceptic policies.
If the members had more jurisdiction in the leadership process, according to Conservative Home, Kemi Badenoch would almost certainly appear in the final two.
In a nutshell, the Tory members will not be cherry picking the next leader.
However, what is clear to most is that Rishi Sunak is the favourite amongst the Westminster bubble, media set and metropolitan liberal elite.
Perhaps this is why the Telegraph and many other media outlets are branding the new leadership voting system as a “distortion of democracy”.
Unlike the conventional rules of a democracy where you vote once, members will have the opportunity to cast two votes (with only the latter counting). The absurd new voting system, described by Tory grandee Ian Duncan Smith as being ‘fraught with difficulties’, also allows members to vote controversially via post and electronically.
Furthermore, party members who are not UK citizens are allowed to vote.
This is completely incomprehensible. Why are non-UK citizens allowed to elect the next prime minister whilst simultaneously being barred from doing so in a general election scenario?
What is the motive behind implementing this rule? Well, whatever it is, it undoubtedly increases the likelihood of electoral fraud.
For instance, how would they be able to determine which vote was most recently cast ballots if they are anonymous? And who is responsible for deciding this?
The Telegraph reported that it could damage Truss’ chances of becoming the next PM, having come out on top so far in the polls.
The only realistic explanation for this unforeseen, last-minute modification is that there is real fear that the supposed radical, Elizabeth Truss, will seek to enact a Thatcherite agenda and overturn the economic consensus of 21st century politics.
Whether she is a radical or not is ambiguous. Her rhetoric implies she is, but how can we believe what she says – not only because she had previously been a Europhile in the Liberal Democrats.
She and Rishi are both guilty of bait-and-switch, a tactic adopted by all recent ex-Conservative leaders.
Time and time again, members, wearing their rose-tinted glasses, are fooled into endorsing an allegedly ‘conservative’ candidate. For example, Cameron’s promise to cut immigration to the tens of thousands and implement a new British Bill of Rights were discarded at a moment’s notice, doing the very opposite as first promised.
Johnson also falsely ran out a ‘Get Brexit Done’ programme but has yet to complete it – with Northern Ireland still being a servitude to the European project. These catchy soundbites are the oldest trick in politics – used to bait the voters, then make a sudden switch at the last hurdle.
‘Northern Powerhouse’, a now-forgotten buzzword once used by ex-Chancellor George Osborne, was quickly thrown into the dustbin of history after it was found that there wasn’t really much investment in the North happening.
You can bet your bottom dollar that the more recent cliche, ‘levelling up’, will also be flushed down the gutter in a matter of time.
The bait and switch is stronger than ever before – with Rishi Sunak, having taken a relatively politically correct line throughout his campaign, now making an unexpected swerve towards cultural politics and pledging to amend the Equality Act 2010, calling it a ‘trojan horse of woke nonsense’.
Now using strong language to pontificate his frustration with wokery, Rishi claims to oppose the ‘left wing agitators’ that want to ‘bulldoze our history, our traditions and our fundamental values’.
With Truss also making a striking switch to cultural politics, she pledged support for the ‘protection of single sex spaces’.
Whilst these are all good socially conservative policies which will appease the Tory grassroots, it is clear both are throwing red meat in a desperate attempt to woo the core Conservative members over.
Whoever becomes the next prime minister, one thing is certain. Tory members are destined for a sell-out.