Like the other thousands of Conservative Members across the country I have received my ballot paper for the final 2 candidates in the Conservative Party leadership race. We will vote on who we want as the leader of our party and as we are currently in government, that leader will become the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
Now I must be honest, when the initial candidates were announced I was backing Dominic Raab, but unfortunately, he was eliminated in round 2. Since then I have been following the leadership race closely, watching as many debates as I can to get a real feel for who I wish to vote for. We are now left with 2 candidates to choose from, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt.
Many members have cast their vote already and have sent it off, but I am yet to put my X against a name. This is probably the 2nd most important vote I will have placed since I have been able to vote, 2nd to the EU referendum. The future of our party, and possibly the country is at stake if I get this wrong. I have to vote based on the following:
- Is this person right for me?
- Will this person deliver Brexit?
- Will this person resonate with the voters?
- Will this person win us the next General Election?
If this person isn’t Yes for all of these then we hand the keys over to Jeremy Corbyn which is frankly a terrifying thought. If we lose the next general election, a Far-Left Marxist will become our next Prime Minister. This is a huge reason why I campaign so hard and is why I am not rushing my vote.
So far Boris Johnson, has been Boris Johnson. A larger than life character who electrifies a room and seems to speak “off the cuff” with an almost celebrity status. His family are also well known so he is very much the “American style” celebrity politician. He is generally from what I can see not very well liked by the media and navigates around the media circus that surrounds him with resilience.
He has a strong track record during his time as London Mayor for example he cut the murder rate by 50%, Between the beginning of April 2008 and the end of March 2016 there were 101,525 affordable homes completed in London, more than his Labour predecessor. We also cannot forget the amazing London Olympics 2012 which truly did bring the country together.
His vision as PM is very much a true Conservative Vision, tough on crime by increasing police numbers and lower taxation. He doesn’t believe in too much government interference, its simply not Conservative to have a nanny state.
On Brexit he is claiming he will deliver Brexit deal or no deal. As a Brexiteer that is music to my ears. The problem is can he actually deliver it? He could Prorogue Parliament, whereby he can temporarily suspend Parliament in order to push through Brexit but this is an incredibly dangerous decision which will make many of us feel uncomfortable but may be a necessary evil.
How will he resonate with the voters and will he win a General election? Again his record in London may give us a good indication of this, he won twice even when the Tories were 17 points behind in the polls. He is well known, perhaps because of his celebrity style and is adaptable. Many people like a politician they can imagine being down the pub with. People also like that he does make the odd gaffe, he shows he’s human and not robotic like Theresa May has been criticised for. However, some are concerned by the media circus that follows him, even if its not necessarily his fault and on the door I do hear him being compared to Trump which does concern me slightly. I trust he will do a fine job but will the electorate based on the Boris Persona? I don’t believe he is as popular with women either, which will be mainly thanks to the media and so I am a little bit hesitant on whether to put my X against his name.
Now onto Jeremy Hunt. Personally I am quite a fan of Hunt. Admittedly at the beginning I didn’t really take much notice of him as I genuinely believed the final 2 would be Raab and Boris. But since he made the final 2 he seems to be like the Tortoise from the tortoise and the hare. I saw him at the Conservative Progress Conference and was extremely impressed by how he spoke, how he responded to questions and that he has admitted his mistakes at times. I am personally drawn to him far more than Boris. I like his calm demeanour and the way he speaks. He’s a little bit quirky as am I. He’s an entrepreneur and through his business has become a wealth creator, very Conservative and as someone who is currently self-employed I believe he would understand the needs of a family like mine. He’s also a steady Eddy, he doesn’t have the ‘celebrity’ status and I see this as more traditional. Having a big bold and brash character may not mean you are getting the job done and can be a marmite character. Sometimes we want Jam, which is just a good allrounder. With politics the way it is with a cult of Corbyn and Farage’s Brexit party do we join them or do we remind the British Public what a true politician should look like, or at least used to look like?
Brexit wise is where I’m most hesitant. He has Remainer credentials just like May and many are concerned he is May II. I would like to think no one would be blind enough to repeat the mistakes of May and as a result destroy our party. He must know he has to deliver Brexit. He hasn’t committed to 31st October, and realistically he’s probably correct to do so. Once Parliament returns after the summer recess which finishes on 3rd September, he will have 8 weeks to deliver a Brexit that May couldn’t deliver in 3 years. So perhaps he won’t deliver at all? Or perhaps out of the 2 candidates he’s the realist knowing it simply can’t be done in a short space of time and is being truthful with us. As seductive the idea of Proroguing parliament is, will Hunt’s approach be the only realistic way? Is Brexit simply undeliverable? As a Brexiteer it does truly pain me to write such thoughts. Brexit has always been unknown so how much weight do I put on Brexit for my decision on who to vote for?
His time as Health Secretary should read as a success story, he secured the biggest funding increase in the history of the NHS, doubling that of Labour’s. Added a considerable amount of jobs to the fifth largest employer in the world and brought many hospital standards up to a good and outstanding level. He is also the longest serving Health Secretary. Unfortunately, he wont be remembered for this but for the way he handled Junior Doctors, something he has admitted he could have handled far better. I believe the NHS is that poisoned chalice. People have such an imbedded idea that the Conservatives want to privatise the NHS that if there is the slight mention of reform everyone goes into hysteria about it, despite the fact it was the Labour party who first began the process of partial privatisation of the NHS.
His vision for the future is like Boris a strong one, he too wants to reduce taxation such as cutting corporation tax to 12.5%, his focus does also seem to be on public services, which is very much needed especially around adult social care. I heard him speak about this issues and his passion and compassion really does shine through. On the door he seems far more popular with women, he isn’t too controversial and has the background we need for entering negotiations. I believe he could resonate with the voters, especially women, and he is far less divisive that Boris. He wont be popular with hardline Brexiteers, but perhaps that may be a good thing in unifying the country as a whole…or perhaps by this softer Brexit approach will he indeed me May mark II?
So as you can see this isn’t an easy decision to make, I will take my time and make my decision after I have seen my local hustings if I get a place, but rest assured what ever I decide will be through more than just one or two issues that impact me personally.