Last week was pretty awesome for me. No one would be surprised to know I am passionate about politics and I have really found this past year incredibly fascinating from a geeky point of view. This week especially I feel like I have had a bit of a geeky overload.
On Tuesday BBC 5live travelled to Ipswich to speak to some Conservative members about the leadership race and our thoughts on the candidates. I was one of those members! I have spoken on the radio a number of times in the past year but it’s only ever been over the phone. This was a brand new experience for me and boy was I nervous. I told myself several times to not say something stupid, but I am who I am so it was inevitable I would embarrass myself somehow. 8 of us discussed the candidates over the course of a few hours. The morning show was hosted my Nicky Campbell who made us feel incredibly relaxed between our air time. Andrea Leadsom was due to speak to us to present a pro Boris case. Off air I shared that I once stood behind her at Conference and she smells incredible. I also spoke about the way she walks describing her movement as like gliding from heaven. Next thing you know we’re back on air and Nicky used that as an opportunity to share with Andrea and the listeners my comments about her. So much for not saying anything stupid!
Somehow 5live asked me back on twice more last week to speak about the leadership debate and then the BBC interview with Andrew Neil. It was a great experience for me and the feedback I received despite my stalker sounding comments were positive. I haven’t had media training, so I have learnt some lessons as with any experience, but was also pretty proud of myself for actually participating in this.
I have said throughout the week that I will remain open minded about each candidate, thought I was leaning more towards voting for Jeremy Hunt. I committed to voting after the hustings on Saturday to give both candidates a proper opportunity to present their case in the flesh so to speak. But to my surprise I was given an additional opportunity to see one of the Candidates locally. I received a last minute invite to see Boris Johnson in Claydon, just 15 minutes from my home address and I put my name down instantly. Boris has always peaked my curiosity. I have heard many speak about how much he lights up a room and how his personality draws people in and I wanted to see this for myself. My 6 year old son wrote a letter for each candidate for me to give to them too which I brought along with me.
It was a nice intimate setting of a small collection of members. He spoke, answered questions and then spoke to members individually. The crowd were generally mesmerised by him and he certainly raised people’s spirits giving them hope and pride in their country. I’m extremely glad I was able to get there and see for myself the buzz around him. I also had an opportunity to hand over my son’s letter to him in person, so my job helping the boy with his first campaign is done for now.
Immediately after I drove down to the hustings in Colchester as my last chance to see both candidates before I voted. I was one of the first to arrive. We were put in a holding area where many of us spoke about the candidates, sharing thoughts and how we were thinking of voting. Many of us hadn’t voted as yet, which I found interesting. I met James Cartlidge MP for South Suffolk who asked me about how my local campaign went and we spoke briefly about the hustings. I noticed he was wearing a “Has to be Hunt” sticker. James is one of those people in politics who comes across incredibly kind, intelligent, relateable and I trust his judgement. I once went canvassing with him and I brought my children along. He was fantastic with them and spoke away to my son. For a moment I forgot he was an MP. His backing of Hunt gave me a sense of reassurance that it’s not an outlandish idea to back him, something some in the Boris camp seem to suggest.
I managed to get a seat on the front row, despite David Lammy’s suggestion there were no women, there were and we weren’t segregated either! Jeremy Hunt spoke first, I expected him to say he was an Entrepreneur and I didn’t realise I said it out load. He then looked at me and said “she’s heard me before, I am indeed an entrepreneur”. We laughed and he gave me a smile. His Q & A was well considered and at times emotional. His approach is honesty even if the answer isn’t going to win people over. A stance I take myself and the biggest thing I admire about him. His session may not have had as much comedy but it showed me that he is a natural leader. I listened to his words carefully and he spoke from both his brain and his heart knowing we have a tough few years ahead of us but we will make it work. I trust him when he says this and I trust he is a safe pair of hands.
Then it was the turn of Boris, his speech the same as what I had just heard in Claydon but with a new crowd this time lapping it all up. His Q&A was full of humour and at points I really truly belly laughed. There is no doubt Boris is good for the soul and again after making us laugh he made us proud of our achievements and confident of our future. He fired us up and if he was a football manager we would have gone onto the pitch and won the game. That is his biggest strength is giving people self belief and hope. As he left he people rose to their seats cheering him.
I then sat for a moment, just a small moment and thought to myself, Boris is incredibly popular with the Conservatives and I felt good after seeing him talk. But our country is trying to go through a process we have never gone through before. We must deliver Brexit and it cant be delivered on hope and optimism alone. We need a plan and we need to look beyond Brexit. Boris made me feel good but I’m not sure I’ve been given any clarity on questions asked. I thought about Jeremy Hunt and what he offers. He is no Hugh Jackman’s version of P.T. Barnum but this isn’t the Circus and to go along with the greatest showman theme, will voters still carry on voting for us “when the glitter fades and the walls won’t hold”? Is it best to not put on a show at all and have a leader who is about the detail, who answers questions and prepares us for a difficult time if that’s whats to come?
I’ve flip flopped a bit over recent weeks, especially since Raab was eliminated, which shows that both candidates are good choices. But I have to put timing into the mix.Politics is a fragile thing at the moment and there’s so much uncertainty. Right now I’ve decided we need a leader that will just get their head down and get the job done. So after an incredible week and getting to see the candidates live and close enough to see their eyes, I’ve decided to go with my gut and vote for Jeremy Hunt.