At long last we’ve finally got a date in the diary straight from the horse’s mouth. Theresa May is set to step down as Conservative party leader on June 7th and the leadership race has already begun with a few candidates already announced and most definitely more are to follow. The amount of potential candidates testing the waters at the moment is getting to look like we could have a field similar to the size of the 2016 US Republican Presidential race which I personally think is great. I think it’s wrong to just have coronations because only one or two have stood and left out more perspectives in the debate.
Unfortunately, under current rules for leadership elections the members rarely get much of an input anyway. We’re only permitted to choose between typically two establishment candidates. I’ve always been of the opinions all candidates should go straight to the membership as it’s us who have to deliver this leader’s leaflets and message on the doorstep. Until recently there was talk of narrowing it down to four options instead of two – I guess once again the party establishment want to do their vetting to make sure there aren’t any mavericks or, God forbid, actual Conservatives to choose from.
For too long the Conservatives have been the party of micro-management with no real philosophy and taking issues as they come rather than providing a decent right-wing vision for the country. We’re not going to be able to take on Corbyn in the next General Election with the tainted record of Theresa May’s Government and the Brexit fudge. Say what you will about Corbyn, but he has a base and it’s a base that’s fired up and inspired to deliver their message – as terrible a message as it is. What can we tell the electorate? “We’ve banned straws and porn please vote for us”? I’m sure that will go down a treat, that’s obviously what’s on everyone’s mind in the polling station.
What we need is a leader with principles and consistency. That should be the litmus test for who we choose and it’s certainly going to be mine. It’s no longer about who was on which side of the referendum campaign, it’s about who stuck by what they said in the campaign in the three disappointing years since. The next leader needs to immediately demand a free trade agreement with the EU and they must only ask once; no more extensions, no more capitulation, and certainly no more “meaningful votes” on May’s withdrawal agreement. They must demand the EU come to our table for once and gear us up for a Brexit on WTO terms if these conditions aren’t met. This is just a few reasons to immediately rule out the likes of Sajid, Hunt, Hancock, and Stewart whom the phrase “nothing has changed” would apply to very much.
Delivering a clean Brexit is the only way to regain the trust of those who have made the Brexit Party their new home. Even out of the Brexiteer candidates announced I’d say it’s going to be an uphill battle if they at any point caved on the meaningful votes, particularly the third one which was the final straw for many former Conservatives. Although the likes of Boris, Dominic Raab and Esther McVey have decent records almost everywhere else on the Brexit issue it doesn’t change the fact they’re going to have to explain to party members and the general public why they caved and it’s an issue that is going to hang over the head for a while which may not convince those lost voters to the Brexit Party. As for the other Brexiteer candidates like Leadsom, Gove, Mordaunt, Cleverly and Kit Malthouse who were on the Leave campaign and quite impressive in 2016, a lot has happened since then and we’ve seen what happens to principles when they climb into a new ministerial car and title. They’ve all got a lot more explaining to do to those Brexit party voters who have told me that the only hope the party has are folk like Steve Baker and Priti Patel.
But beyond Brexit we’re going to need to re-vitalise a true blue, right-wing agenda to turn heads and inspire people to turn out to oppose Corbyn Socialism. Votes must be earned, and we can’t just expect people to vote for us purely because Corbyn’s a distasteful character. That just about managed in 2017 but it’s not going to work anymore.
We need a leader who is prepared to shrink Government and I’m not talking about a few cuts here and there. I’m talking about abolishing blackhole departments that most of the taxpayers deem as a waste of their own money such as the departments of Culture, Media and Sport where the taxpayer is forced to subsidise state run media in the form of the BBC, or the Department of Equalities so the state can decide victimhood and the Department of International Development plus a few others. The greatest Libertarian mind of recent generations, Ron Paul, describes foreign aid as the process of “taking money from poor people in rich countries to give it to rich people in poor countries”. Ask any UK voter and they’d much rather fund our nurses and police officers than African Warlords.
Speaking of Warlords, it’s time we had a leader who is a breath of fresh air from the Neocon foreign policy that’s plagued our party for too long. Labour may have lead this nation into the stupidest war of the century on a lie with Iraq, but let’s not forget most Conservatives walked into that lobby with them when they never had to. Only a couple of Tory MPs opposed that war and one of them was John Baron who since then has also opposed Cameron and May’s efforts to wage war in Syria and Libya; the latter which is now a destabilised Jihadi breeding ground and open slave market. We’ve been in Afghanistan for almost two decades, the next leader should be the one to stand up to the military industrial complex and say that enough is enough and our troops and money need to come home like Donald Trump has begun after such policies helped win him the 2016 election. Steve Baker says he opposes war as a policy, although voting to intervene in Libya he was still critical of it, and I think out of all leadership contenders he would be the one to properly think through the lunacy of regime change in future; especially compared to Hawks like Rory Stewart and Jeremy Hunt.
We need a leader who respects free speech and free press not someone who is more interested in cracking down on internet trolls while young boys and girls are being stabbed in the streets due to the knife crime epidemic. Unlike Home Secretaries Amber Rudd and Sajid Javid I think Steve Baker, who would be the only person in the race and one of few MPs with a STEM background, would do a much better job at communicating with the Silicon Valley monopolies about internet censorship of conservative and right-wing leaning voices on their platforms. I think he’d handle it in a responsible way, unlike Amber Rudd, who was planning on suspending E2EE to spy on people’s messages despite not knowing how any of it works.
We need a leader who recognises the failed Keynesian system that has been in place since the end of the war is no longer fit for purpose and that the scale of money printing and quantitative easing is devaluing our currency and forcing people to make economies with the money in their pockets as prices go up. Once again, Steve Baker has an extensive record on this issue in parliament and has been talking about it ever since his maiden speech where he raised this issue. He’s an advocate of Austrian economics and is the founder of the Libertarian leaning, free market Cobden Centre.
I think the next election will be fought on Education. I’d like to see the Dept of Education scrapped. I believe it would suffice as a small ministerial role in the Dept of Communities and Local Gov, as one shoe does not fit all with regards to education and I believe parents, Teachers, School Governors and Local councillors know what’s best for the education of children in their communities better than a Whitehall civil servant who cannot blanketly decide what’s best for every child. This is why I’d like to see education devolved to make it a more people orientated system to provide the best results, and I’d be prepared to say more money into schools would be a good idea for the Conservatives to address provided that money is found from somewhere like foreign aid and not magically created or taxed if it means it’s going to be appropriated to the needs of each community.
These are the new radical ideas the Conservatives should be getting behind, truly right-wing and visionary rather than managerialist and bureaucratic like we have had to endure for the last few years. I think folk announced so far like Dominic Raab and Esther McVey who are fresher faces can bring that and many other qualities to the table of leadership. I even think Boris and Leadsom have some okay records that might appeal to some voters. But the one who ticks most boxes, if not all, for me is Steve Baker with Priti Patel up there as well. They would make excellent faces for the Conservative party in the next election young, vibrant and visionary with the principles and consistency to go with it and defensible records.
One other thing I am impressed with by the wide field of candidates declared so far is even if I disagree profusely with a few of them, it does show no matter what that there is potential for a vibrant Conservative party in the future if we fix what our philosophy is because the average age of every candidate. So far it comes to 49 when you crunch the numbers; there have never been this many young candidates or even this many candidates altogether before and there’s more to follow (hopefully Baker) but it means we’re more likely to have a fresh young face in the job, to show we’re a modern party fit for the future. Meanwhile on the opposition benches, Corbyn has just celebrated his 70th.