I have watched the debates of the candidates for the next leader of the Conservative Party, and hence for the position of Prime Minister. I am not a Conservative Party member so will not get a vote but for such an important job it is worth stating how I might decide who I would prefer.
I do not think it is worth deciding on the basis of their stated policies. They all believe in tax cuts, but some sooner than later. None of them talked about how they would cut Government expenditure to maintain a balanced budget and allow room for tax cuts. They all believe in the net zero carbon emissions policy although within what is affordable and achievable.
But policies advocated by politicians tend to change after they get elected and get faced with the realities of advice from civil servants, the Bank of England and opinion polls.
There is a simple way to decide who to support. Who would you wish to work for if offered a job as a cabinet member in their administration? Who is a leader you could follow and have some trust in? Who appears confident and decisive, requirements for any natural leader? Who has the charisma to win over colleagues in your party to your adopted policies and in due course the general public so you can win the next general election?
On that basis I think there are only two candidates who pass those hurdles – Rishi Sunak and Tom Tugendhat. But Penny Mordaunt and Liz Truss seem less confident while Kemi Badenoch is an unknown quantity to many voters. Unfortunately ladies who wish to get elected need to be forceful and exude confidence like Margaret Thatcher always did but the three now standing do not. They are not obviously born leaders who could unite a divided Conservative Party which always has a tendency to fragment.
Boris Johnson had the required profile which is why he was successful at winning elections, but fell down on other personal qualities and clearly won’t be invited to join the next administration as he is now a political liability.
As between Rishi and Tom, the former has more ministerial experience and should have a stronger financial background so I would tend to go for the former. Wealthy people tend to be a political liability in the UK where the politics of envy is so pervasive but I think Rishi has the personal charisma to overcome such prejudices and he certainly delivers good speeches.
How Conservative Party Members and MPs view these issues will soon be revealed but I hope they follow the same chain of thought.
Roger Lawson (Twitter: https://twitter.com/RogerWLawson )
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