What is going on in the Conservative Party (originally called the Unionist Party) these days? Is there a covert leadership challenge running underground? Is there any attempt these days to unseat the incumbent of nearly ten years and current Prime Minister Cameron, as was being flagged-up & floated around a few years or so ago?
NO, it has all gone away hasn’t it? The worried Tory MPs facing life as an ex-Paliamentarian, having to survive without their lucrative expenses, and get a real job, have gone to ground to await their fate in eight months time. The ruminants of the Conservative Party members & activists are resigned to being led into defeat by Cameron against a discredited Labour Party & its Leader Ed Miliband. The previously loyal Tories’ & voters of donkey’s years, are sprinting into the arms of UKIP and their Leader, man of the pub Nigel Farage, don’t you think?
Even a year ago Cameron still had to shrug-off speculation about leadership challengers, brought on by pressure over his policies on things like European Union membership, scrapping child allowances for high earners, and introduction of gay marriage. Many, particularly some backbenchers wanted him out before next year’s General Election. Senior Cabinet members like Theresa May, Michael Grove, Jeremy Hunt, and of course George Osborne as well as Mayor Boris Johnson, were names in the frame to succeed him. The plotting of a coup to dump Cameron, by up to perhaps some fifty of the disgruntled came to naught though (not very gutsy conspirators were they?). A single ‘unknown’, but nevertheless ambitious MP, was one Adam Afriyie whose head was seen raised above the parapet, as a (not very secretive) potential ‘stalking horse’ leadership candidate!
Since he first tried it out on the Scottish Independence referendum, Cameron is now publically selling himself as some kind of conviction politician and a passionate heart-wrenching carer, which doesn’t wash with many people because it is suspected that he actually doesn’t give a damn. Whatever happens in next May’s general Election, not many pundits believe he will be PM in 2020, do they? No he is happy to get out, he’s been PM, done that, got the tee-shirt, needs to get back to relaxing more? The news on the wire is that, win the Election with a majority and he might carry on for a couple of years until the EU referendum (if it actually materialises) – then he would go, win or lose! Fail to win the Election and the Tory knives will finally be out and he will go pretty sharply. So who’s most likely to succeed David Cameron as Conservative leader then?
The betters are putting their money on (American born) Boris Johnson (BoJo). A charismatic cuddly teddy-bear, larger than life buffoon, loved by the public clown (because he doesn’t understand how a politician is supposed to behave?), an experienced & able journalist and accomplished orator (an Oxford University Union President at that). A man of considerable intellect in fact, but utter unreliable both in personal relationships and in truth telling. Unbelievably inexperienced in national politics (served as a Shadow Minister for eight months but apparently got the push for lying to the then Tory Leader, and only another eight months after being thrown a political lifeline by old chum Cameron!), & a poorly performing Mayor of London to boot. Consistently insisted he would definitely not stand for Parliament in 2015, but all and sundry knew that was just another falsehood, didn’t they? Denies he is interested in being Leader, but don’t put any money on him not standing will you? Chances of him being disciplined or focused enough to be Leader (or more so Prime Minister)? ZERO?
The other fancied contender, another front runner no less, is George Osborne, the high profile Chancellor, who was thought to have blown his Leadership chances a year ago, but the economic recovery since then has thrown his star high again. In terms of charisma Osborne and Johnson are at the opposite ends of the scale. Osborne not only has the ear of the PM, but he has great influence over other Ministers (controls their budgets doesn’t he?), AND he is in charge of the Conservatives election campaign & strategy as well. [Cameron repeatedly praises Johnson publically but we all know don’t we that in reality his view is “anyone but Boris”?].
Osborne has been raising his community image for some time now (so see-off Johnson?), but his performance at this week’s Party Conference took the biscuit surely? He announced that after the Election the next Conservative administration would tighten the austerity screw even tighter, and further impoverish some ten million ordinary British citizens. Most in the know have understood that the economy was NOT fixed and that further pain was ahead – whoever won the Election. It is unprecedented though that a serving politician would trumpet such news with such gusto & pride. So why did he do it, you might ask? Two simple reasons. To show himself as the kingpin, the strongman enforcer, the ‘say it as it is’ hero. To ensure that votes are lost, and his Leadership march will be resolved by Cameron standing down after the Election, and taking the can for the defeat no less.
Best to at least mention Theresa May, unluckily given the black spot job of the Home Office, but has had a miraculous survival record (as good as James Bond without a doubt), admired, loved & respected widely. Oh yes she will stand of course and come last of the three – scuppered by Margaret Thatcher, as the Tories won’t be ready for another female Leader for some decades yet, will they?
The basic point is that the Conservatives ‘know’ that the game is up – ‘it is the economy stupid’, as the saying goes. They know they are doomed and many are keen to distance themselves from Cameron’s elitist court. The Tories will run with the idea of financial prudence next May. But they will hit the buffers won’t they? Plan A promised to balance the annual budget (the so called DEFICIT – income & expenditure equal)- by THIS year. The plan FAILED miserably. In addition the total DEBT (the Counties overdraft if you like) has DOUBLED in the five years of the Administration. They have even abandoned any semblance of financial accountability by announcing tax cuts in tandem with further swinging austerity measures – described by the Financial Times as “a fiscal position that is neither sober nor realistic”. [Headline – ‘David Cameron trades votes for economic credibility’].
[Do some Conservatives think they are still in with a chance at the general election? Certainly.
So do national lottery players THINK THEY ARE GOING TO WIN THE JACKPOT – at thirteen million to one chance !]