The Conservative Party is split by Brexit – to the extent that Soubry and Wollaston may jump soon. The Government is an odd mix of Remainers and Brexiteers and so hardly the meritocracy of days of yore. Perhaps that can be excused in the run up to Brexit – which dominates everything political these days – but afterwards the Government should take care to be less about alliances and more about talent.
There are plenty of Conservative MPs who’d make good Prime Ministers. There’s Boris Johnson, Andrea Leadsom, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Jeremy Hunt, Dominic Raab to name a few. And there are plenty of jostlers who’d not make a bad job of it either – Michael Gove, Tom Tugenhat, Sajid Javid, and even Johnny Mercer. As our source within Westminster pointed out, there are dozens of Conservative MPs in Westminster who became MPs to become Prime Minister.
The Labour Party is similarly split along Brexit lines but – a far worse predicament – it’s split along ideological lines too (literally, after yesterday’s breakaway news). While Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet would be admired by Michael Foot or Vladimir Derer, the bulk of the party’s backbenchers – and the odd frontbench misfit like Sir Keir Starmer – are Blairite New Labour / centre leftists.
In theory if an opposition hangs around long enough it will get into power. In Labour’s case that looks like being a very long wait.
The huge problem for the Corbynites is that none of them look or sound like future Prime Ministers. Take the Shadow Education Secretary, Angela Rayner – the rising star of Corbyn’s Labour – who exchanged the following on social media on Saturday:
What kind of a signal does that nonsense send out to voters, let alone students? Is Angela Rayner really to be talked of in the same bracket as former Shadow Secretaries of State for Education Hattersley, Blunkett or Gove? Norman St John-Stevas must be spinning in his grave.
Who else do the Corbynites have in the squad who the Momentum mafia are grooming for PM?
In the words of the late Paul Daniels, “not a lot”.
There’s a scouser called Dan Carden – known as Red Len McCluskey’s bag carrier – who scrubs up nicely. He’s just been made Shadow Secretary of State for International Development in his early thirties and sits close to Corbyn and Corbyn’s minder Dawn Butler at PMQ’s. Something that might not endear him to his Liverpool constituents – Carden drops his scouse accent when speaking in the House but reinforces it when speaking to Liverpool journalists. One wonders – as obviously has Carden – if snobby British voters are ready for that accent in a future PM?
Oddschecker Next Labour Leader 18.02. 2019.
Aside from Carden there’s Rebecca Long-Bailey. But she looks like the Wizard of Oz and her car crash interviews are piling up. Is she actually a Corbynite? Emily Thornberry and Tom Sandwell Watson are on the betting shop lists but the chunky Portilloesque files held on them must surely rule them out – they’ll more likely end up with a tap on the shoulder from the security services. Clive Suicide-Mocker Lewis doesn’t have a hope in hell and gives off the air of a gropy professor from some lowbrow redbrick. Lisa Nandy is an independent spirit and presentable but – despite being on the party’s left – she resigned from Corbyn’s shadow cabinet in 2016 and helped to run a rival leadership campaign, which Momentum trolls have never forgotten, so she’s hardly likely to unite a warring party.
John McDonnell is the stand-out danger man but surely Britain won’t let Hayes and Harlington’s Pol Pot anywhere near the levers of power, will we?
It’s fair to say that both main political parties in Britain are in a bit of pickle over Brexit. But it’s Labour that faces the actual split (so far) and suffers most from a dearth of leadership talent, especially if it stays on its hard left course.