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What Next for Both Tories and Labour?

Kevan James

July 15, 2022.

There is currently a lot of hand-wringing, soul-searching, shroud-waving and general angst among MP’s in the House of Commons. Not least of course, with the onset of yet another Tory leadership contest.

Regardless of the ins and outs of it, whether his supporters (of which there are still many) like it or not, the Boris Johnson era is over. Or rather, it will be by September 6, when following the announcement of the new Conservative leader, Johnson will tender his resignation to the Queen.

What comes after that is of course, speculation because we don’t know yet who the new party leader - and thus Prime Minister - will be. Whoever it is will have a tough job convincing the electorate that when the next general election comes along, it is only the Tories that have the answers. Or will it be as tough as anticipated?

There is little doubt that Labour, in their present form, are not fit to form a government, Speculation again but there are reports that Sir Kier Starmer will attempt to form a coalition government with the SNP and possibly the Liberal Democrats. Such a coalition would undoubtedly be the ruination of the United Kingdom as the price paid to the SNP will lead to Scotland leaving the union. Not to mention the economic consequences or the potential for more permanent removal of the freedoms of the people of the UK.

There are of course, two immediate options; the first is for the Tories to get their act together and the second is for Labour to do the same, so that any coalition is not needed. The Liberal-Democrats are unlikely to have anywhere near enough MPs elected to form a government and no amount of stunts by their leader with a sledgehammer and blue plastic bricks is going to change that. So we can reasonably discount the Lib-Dems.

What do the Tories need to do? Elect a leader obviously but none of the candidates seem to have the appeal across the wider public to really catch the imagination the way Boris Johnson did.

Rishi Sunak was widely applauded in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic but in more recent times that halo has slipped somewhat. He now appears to be rather lacking in trust. Penny Mordaunt likewise as further revelations over her past begin to emerge. Liz Truss still appears rather wooden and seems to be trying to become Margaret Thatcher Mk II, a feature which is not going to go down too well across the UK.

What of Tom Tugendhat? He had little in the way of public profile but that obviously is changing. Is he inspirational? No, not really.

That leaves Kemi Badenoch. She is without doubt the one that Labour will fear most because she is everything they are not. Labour have still not managed to elect a woman, never mind one of colour as their leader and whatever else one can say about the Tories, their front bench has resembled the population much more than the opposition.

Badenoch has proved herself at the despatch box already (so has Penny Mordaunt) but there is a difference between more routine appearances and that required at PMQs every Wednesday. And there is a huge gulf between relatively junior government jobs and leading the country. She does however (at least at the moment) appear to have the kind of attitude and policy thoughts that would appeal to voters, something that none of the other pretenders to the Tory throne do.

Whoever gets this gig will have to have a plan in place to deal with the fallout if the Tories lose the next general election. That includes the question of remaining as leader. That said, the possibility of yet another leadership election is not going to excite many if the successful applicant in 2022 decides to step down in 2024 as a result of losing power.

What of Labour? Sir Kier Starmer has still not shown himself to be a real leader. He still does not appear to command respect the way previous Labour leaders have and should the Tories emerge triumphant at the next election, will have to consider his position. Who could succeed him?

An obvious contender would be Angela Rayner. Whatever her faults (and let’s face it, none of us are perfect) she is at least real. She has led a life that is more in tune with those of significant numbers of ordinary people. She has described herself as a “Gobby Northern Lass” and there is nothing wrong with that. But being gobby is not going to go down well with other world leaders so if she does aspire to lead Labour, will have to change at least some of her ways.

Who else? There is nobody that springs to mind and that is Labour’s biggest problem. The party simply does not have any MP that one can see as party leader and Prime Minister. The Conservatives at least do have potential there, even if only one (Badenoch) is currently standing.

The essential problem is that neither of the two established parties have enough people with connections to those they purport to serve. The House of Commons has become the opposite of its name; it is not representative or common. And it needs more occupants like Kemi Badenoch and Angela Rayner.

Until it is, with far, far fewer career MPs, who have done nothing in their adult lives except be MPs, people will continue to find politicians untrustworthy and unworthy.

© Kevan James, 2022.

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