Why have the Tories shot themselves in the foot?

By Cllr Ben Clinton

Sunak vs Truss. That’s the choice that Tory members must make: an army of 200,000 steering our country’s direction into more chaos. All arguments point to one thing. These candidates are more of a gift than a threat to Labour’s electoral chances, so why has the party of pragmatism willingly embraced candidates that are already on the back foot?

The removal of Mordaunt from the contest was the last act of a saga that allowed two former Johnson cabinet members to waltz into the final round. She had been considered relatively untouched by Boris’ autocratic antics, but weeks of hostile briefing from other MPs and a collapse of centrist votes in favour of members of the parliamentary far right sealed the inevitable.

The Conservatives are no longer the rigid followers of pragmatic governance they once were. Taking notes from the US Republicans, they have become obsessed with ideologies of the past, shrouding themselves firmly in competing schools of cultural and economic rightism.

Cameronism, Johnsonism, whatever you choose to call it – it is clear that Tory MPs have attempted to cling to these factional reminders, rather than embracing themselves for the careerists they truly are. Arguably, they’ve decided to reject the ‘safe’ leadership choices for the first time in their history.

It is these factors that must display the collapse of Tory chances of winning a majority at the next GE. Closeness to Johnson is no longer an asset in the eyes of the electorate, and neither is the worship of Cameronite austerity. People want change and many will accept it, no matter how moderate or asinine it is.

That is why Mordaunt, alongside fellow ‘prim and proper’ candidate Tugendhat, represented a considerable threat to Starmer’s Labour project. Both distanced themselves from Johnson, while presenting a handily formal demeanour, a factor that Starmer has often tried to play into.

When the public has a choice between arguably ‘moderate’ leaders, they will choose the status quo. After all, it is supposedly tried and tested, while playing into the narrative of politicians being ‘all the same’. Starmer no longer has to try and fight this difficult battle.

But why would the Tories allow themselves to select such an unpopular and corrupt set of candidates? That is a question that the people of this nation will probably lament for a number of years.

Arguably, the intense factional infighting that is still plaguing Labour has now been paralleled in the Tories. Rumours of smear campaigns, vote switching and wars of words between the centre-right, right wing and far right factions are now front page news. This factionalism has failed to present anything but a clear-run leadership contest, with heavily divided votes totals coming to light.

But the two main goals of Truss and Sunak are clear. They want ideological continuity, with Sunak endorsing Cameronite austerity and Truss continuing Johnson’s legacy of far right chaos. Thus, whoever wins, we will be faced with either a collapse of our public services or constant attacks on British democracy. Many argue both will occur.

Yet, these two crony candidates have had their true intentions laid bare. It’s hard to disagree that these aims are monetary.

Sunak has been on a number of trips to America with the goal of sacrificing our health service to private enterprise, while he’s happily defended his wife’s exploitation of non-dom status. For a man who fumbled his claim of having ‘working class’ friends, it’s clear where his interests lie – in preserving the wealth of the ruling elite.

That’s not to say that Truss is in any way better. She’s flirted with scrapping net zero and environmental protections, clearly siding with fossil fuel companies in a month where Britain hit 40 degrees and wildfires spread. Meanwhile, her tenure as Foreign Secretary has seen her forge links with the barbaric Saudi Regime as part of a constant pursuit of wealth over the protection of human rights.

This summer will certainly be another step on the path of Tory destruction that this country has had to endure for over a decade now. Whoever wins, their antipathy towards working people will stay strong.

Even when faced with a barrage of infighting, corruption and the cost of living crisis, Truss and Sunak’s priorities lie in strengthening the position of corporate and political elites. Unfortunately, change in the UK is in no way likely to come in the next few years, not least without a change of our governing party.

Ben Clinton is a Peasmarsh Parish Councillor and the Bexhill and Battle CLP Youth Officer. More information on his work can be found on his Twitter account: https://twitter.com/bencclinton

Image: Rishi Sunak. Source: https://api20170418155059.azure-api.net/photo/IoyxMWET.jpeg?crop=MCU_3:4&quality=80&download=true. Author: Chris McAndrew, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_McAndrew, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

Subscribe to the blog for email notifications of new posts