Where Can the Tories go From Here? | Joseph Cockcroft

To make it clear from the start, I’m not a Tory in the slightest. At this current point in time, Theresa May’s days in government are numbered: in the not-so distant future, a Tory leadership contest will occur and the main candidates will take the Tory party in one of two directions: Libertarianism or Liberal Conservatism.

Jacob Rees-Mogg - an MP with cult-like fame - has already got #Moggmentum and 20,000 people backing him to become the next PM. A rebellious backbench Etonian MP who was only elected in 2010, he has little experience in government, having already called for the Tories to join UKIP. That said, a lack of experience never stopped Donald Trump and look where he is now. He’ll take the Tory party further to the right to become much more libertarian, a repeat of Thatcher’s government in the 80s. Jacob Rees-Mogg combines old-school politics with modern populist beliefs in a postmodern Thatcherite doctrine. Needless to say, if Thatcher’s beliefs were put in practice, mass civil unrest would occur on a scale not seen since the 2011 London Riots as public services were privatised and the state shrank. Corporations would be free of regulations and wealthy individuals could buy shares in private health and security companies or contracts for construction projects, like how Russian oligarchs bought dirt-cheap shares in a variety of industries after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, all in the name of free-market capitalism. That said, Jacob Rees-Mogg has not expressed any wish at the moment to challenge Theresa May, but you never know whether he might should he sense an opportunity.

But Boris Johnson has always expressed an interest in becoming Prime Minister. His previous attempt to run for Prime Minister was thwarted by Michael Gove in 2016, but this Brexiteer’s weird charisma in addition to his long experience in government would be popular amongst Conservative MPs and Conservative members. He served as London Mayor from 2008-2016, MP for Henley from 2001-2008, MP for Uxbridge since 2015 and as Foreign Secretary since 2016. His long history of vile and insulting comments will be brought up in an election, but like the “terrorist sympathiser” accusation didn’t make a dent in Corbyn’s support, I seriously doubt whether Boris Johnson’s comments will make a dent in his support. His time in government has been turbulent to say the least and should he become Prime Minister he would be an international disgrace in charge of the world's fifth largest economy.

At the other end of the scale are those who believe the Tory party is too scary in its more right-wing form and want to take the Tory party back to the centre in a post-Cameron parody of its own. Liberal Conservatism is the strand of conservatism championed by Ruth Davidson, the charismatic, energetic leader of the Scottish Conservative Party who was the only one to make some significant gains for the Conservative Party in the 2017 General Election. To picture liberal conservatism, just look back 5 years and you’ll get a decent idea of what liberal conservatism looks like in government: a reduction in state services (health, security etc.), allowing individuals to amass wealth without government interference, but new laws concerning tax fraud and security being brought in to maintain the rule of law.

Ruth Davidson would be a great candidate for the more liberal Tory MPs to rally to, who are currently being drowned out in the media by libertarian Tory Brexiteers. However, I get the impression that Ruth Davidson is not looking to be a contender as she feels she is in a very good position at the moment: An important figure within the party without getting dragged into internal party struggles that are becoming more visible due to the disorderly way that the government is acting. The trouble is, would an MP from the more liberal conservative echalons of the Tory party put themselves forward to stem the libertarian tide? Damian Green would be a somewhat likely candidate, but his fiercely pro-EU stance won’t help and he himself has expressed no interest in becoming leader. Philip Hammond and Amber Rudd both fall into the ‘Westminister bubble’ category, with Philip Hammond not at all popular with the large Tory-Brexiteer section of the Party and Amber Rudd is holding onto her Hastings & Rye seat by just a handful of votes. Even if you overlook that, neither of them have fanbase like Jacob Rees-Mogg nor the charisma of Boris Johnson.

I would expect a more liberal-minded Tory MP to step forward and put his/her name into the ring to be a rallying point for the liberal conservatives. Sarah Wollaston or Anna Soubry would be my choice: Sarah Wollaston is a qualified GP and is appalled by the state the NHS is in, having been an MP since 2010, whilst Anna Soubry has a strong voting record on equal rights and gay marriage, having also been an MP since 2010. It’s also worth pointing out that Sarah Wollaston was also quite rebellious, defying the chief whip on intervention in Syria and NHS cutbacks. Anna Soubry was fiercely pro-EU, a decision that may come back to haunt her, but she is also a very good orator, sticking to the facts and speaking her mind clearly and concisely.

In light of all that I’ve said, I conclude that the initial contestants will probably include Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and one or two backbench liberal Tory MPs. Perhaps Philip Hammond or Amber Rudd may run to be leader, though I would doubt given all the odds stacked against them. The future of the Tory party is very uncertain, and the direction it takes – further to the right or back towards the centre – will be crucial in determining its odds at winning the next election.
Where Can the Tories go From Here? | Joseph Cockcroft Where Can the Tories go From Here? | Joseph Cockcroft Reviewed by Student Voices on 17:06 Rating: 5

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