Into the revolving door

11th July 2022

The rogue’s gallery line up for the keys to No.10

It should come as no surprise that the leadership of the Conservative Party is a revolving door. Since the knives were sharpened for the hapless William Hague, in 2001, the Tories have had a further five leaders since the turn of the millennium.  Whoever succeeds Boris Johnson as Tory leader will be the seventh this century.   Not so much no win, no fee with the Tories as no win, no job. 

Not that any of the former leaders have had to sign on for Job Seekers Allowance or Universal Credit.  A cushy number in the House of Lords is the worst that happens, or a lightly taxing round of after dinner speeches to feather the retirement nest egg if they are lucky.  Johnson’s particular Tory form of backslapping bonhomie and camaraderie will probably see him earn a fortune with the latter.

The current rogue’s gallery, lining up for the keys to No.10 as it currently stands, does raise one or two questions.  Like, who is Rehman Chishti?  Is Jeremy Hunt seriously running again?  Would Liz Truss just be the continuation of Boris Johnson by other means?  Will any of them improve the lives of working class people?  That one is rhetorical, and finally, where is Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace?

The last question is intriguing as Wallace has all of the key credentials to be a Tory leader.  An anti working class, jingoist, militarist and ex-soldier, popular with the Tory rank and file, you would expect him to at least be in the running.  That he is not could suggest a lack of ambition.  It could equally suggest that Wallace is playing a political long game.  Whoever takes over now will not only have to clear up the mess created by Johnson, and the previous ten yars of austerity, but turn the Tories into an election winning prospect in the space of two years.

Given the wooden nature of the opposition they are facing with Kier Starmer’s leadership of Labour, that is not impossible, but it is still a challenge.  Johnson’s successor may get the keys to No.10 for a mere two years, hardly time to change the wallpaper, before they are out on their ear.  Not a great look for the political CV, and Tories are not known for hanging on to election losers, so the party leadership would soon be up for grabs again.

It may simply be that Wallace does not have the ambition, it may be that there are skeletons in his closet that he does not want a leadership context to expose.  It may also be calculated that a Labour government under Kier Starmer would simply keep the seat warm for an incoming Tory leader, while not breaking anything as far as the ruling class were concerned. 

Quite a lot of Tories could live with the breathing space Starmer would bring while they reorganise.  It may not be Johnson’s successor who is key for the Tories longer term, but their successor, as the leadership door revolves once more.

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