Friday, 1 July 2016


No doubt a lot of people – both in the UK and beyond – are confused by the fast-changing pace of British politics in the wake of the Brexit vote and the resignation of David Cameron, and are scratching their heads at the tumult of twists, turns, and talking points that has reduced the commentariat to a virtual troupe of babbling baboons. Order has to be restored, as well as understanding, so to move things in that direction, here is a lucid and concise precis of the process to choose Britain's next PM.

There are now five official candidates. Two of them are Bremainers – i.e. politicians who sided with staying in the EU – and three of them are Brexiteers – i.e. the opposite.


1. THERESA MAY (née Brasier)
Aged 60, English, middle-class background
May has experience at top ministerial level, having served as Home Secretary since 2010. In the past she has talked about the "benefits" of sharia law in a clear Cuckservative attempt to reach out to the rising Muslim demographic. On immigration she signals hard to the Conservative base but remains highly suspect. She followed the party line of insincere passive aggressive resistance to the migrant crisis in order to keep UKIP in check and retain voters, but probably has no strong opinions either way and is motivated by self interest.

Aged 43, Half Welsh, half Scottish, welfare class background
Crabb has some ministerial experience but not at important departments. He is a Christian and has been accused of "homophobia" for his passive aggressive resistance to gay marriage, but like a true politician has now backtracked and "embraced" it. His position on immigration is not clear, but likely to be similar to that of May or Cameron.


Aged 48. Scottish (English presenting), lower middle-class background (adopted)
Gove is considered to be the most cerebral of the candidates and has good ministerial experience, but not at the highest level – i.e. Home Secretary, Chancellor, or Foreign Minister. Along with Farage and Boris Johnson, he was one of the top three leaders of the Brexit campaign, and was expected to support Johnson until yesterday. A former journalist for The Times, he has close ties to his old employer Rupert Murdoch, whose media empire suspiciously came out in support of Brexit. Gove is seen as close to the grass roots of the Conservative Party and is considered to be more reliable on the all-important issue of immigration. As Education minister in 2014, he also fell out with the pro-Muslim Theresa May over the issue of Islamic schools. Loves Wagner.

2. ANDREA LEADSOM (née Salmon)
Aged 53, English (possibly Jewish), middle-class background
Leadsom has limited ministerial experience but performed well on TV during the Brexit campaign. She has close links to the financial sector and the City of London, as do they to her – her brother-in-law donated £800,000 to the Conservative Party recently. Her views on immigration have so far shadowed that of the Euro-skeptic wing of the Conservative Party, but how sincerely remains to be seen.

Aged 55, Scottish (Catholic), working-class background
Fox has limited ministerial experience, leaving office in 2011, following a minor scandal, but has plenty of experience as a shadow minister while the Conservatives were out of office from 1997 to 2010. He is regarded as the most Neo-Con and pro-Israel of all the candidates. Although married, he is widely thought to be gay. Like Gove, he is close to the grass roots of the party and takes reasonably strong positions on immigration.


To understand what's really going on, however, you need to understand how the leadership election process works. There are two parts. The first part only involves MPs, and reduces the candidates to a final two, after which the decision is put to party members.

Boris: hopping mad after Gove turned against him.
This system is open to various forms of manipulation and abuse, with candidates jockeying for position by using their apparent popularity or chance of success to offer benefits to other MPs in exchange for additional support, while attempting to build the kind of momentum that can also sway the party membership if needed. With the right amount of wheeling and dealing the final vote by the party membership can be avoided or turned into a formality.

Theresa May, as a member of the Cameronian clique that has ruled with as little reference to the views and interests of the party members as possible, will attempt to kill the election in the first stage, while also signalling hard to the membership, in case it goes to the second stage. If she can get enough support she will also start funneling votes to a "fake opponent" – someone she can easily beat in the second round. This is the significance of Crabb.

Gove or Fox, by contrast. will try to keep the contest "live" until the second stage, when the membership can vote, as this slants things more in their favour. Their big concern is to deflate the momentum that has risen behind May as the "popular woman candidate" and political reincarnation  of Margaret Thatcher. This presumably explains the appearance of Leadsom in the contest.

My prediction is that the election will go to the second stage, with Gove and May contesting it, resulting in a narrow victory for Gove, despite his rather nerdy, Spock-like persona.


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