Skip to main content

Editorial Tory tournament: honesty is the best policy

YOU can see why two Tory MPs spoilt their ballot papers. The choices were unedifying.

In pole position, the faithless one: Johnson abandons his earlier positions as often as his betrays his intimates.

Next, the backstabbing ideological contortionist, Gove started political life as a striking NUJ member, tried to reshape education as a market opportunity and now presents as an avid environmentalist.

Close behind, the blood-stained axeman. Hunt’s stewardship of the NHS combined death by a thousand cuts with the liberal application of leeches in the form of private contractors.

Sajid Javid was quickly eliminated. Lest Morning Star readers feel a smidgeon of sympathy for this aspirational son of a bus driver reflect on the fact that in entering politics Javid made real sacrifices in giving up his job at Deutsche Bank with its £3 million annual salary.

The loser to be eliminated in the parliamentary round before the top two tour the declining bands of Tory pensioners will be chosen in a bout of typically cynical tactical voting by Boris Johnson’s supporters.

It is hard to see how an impartial observer could make a judgement as to which might make the best premier.

The contest is so suffused with crass opportunism and stinking hypocrisy that the judgement can only be reasonably made on the basis of who has the best tailor.

The interesting feature of the contest so far is not which of the candidates was most likely to gain the privilege of touring the shires with Boris Johnson but precisely how would the subterranean but substantial Remain tendency in the parliamentary Tory Party assert itself.

In the end it briefly coalesced around the person of Rory Stewart whose distinctive contribution was to point out to the cloth ears of the Tory membership in the country and the more attentive among his parliamentary colleagues that Boris Johnson is no more likely to secure a Brexit deal that satisfied the contending forces than was Theresa May.

If, as expected, Johnson becomes prime minister the scene is set for his unprincipled opportunism and famously flexible politics to be played out on a bigger stage. It is worth remembering that Johnson has reinvented himself almost as often as he has faked up his lucrative journalism or seamlessly revised his political views.

It may be reasonable to assume that, given the opportunity and having intoxicated the Tory faithful with his bourgeois Brexit brew, he will turn his attention to satisfying the more powerful constituency upon which, ultimately, the real power brokers in the Tory Party always defer.

The Tory Party desperately wants to sort Brexit in advance of an election. And finding a formula which can reasonably be presented as the best deal possible in the circumstances will be a prize that could see Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson bend his principles back to one of his earlier positions.

Labour’s leadership is constituted on an altogether more wholesome basis, elected precisely because it is distinguished by a transparent honesty and fidelity to principle.

These great strengths were evident at the special national executive committee meeting this week to discuss the party’s Brexit strategy. Reflecting the truth that Labour’s renaissance was grounded in Corbyn’s early commitment to respect the referendum result, a carefully crafted briefing was discussed which warned that an opportunist switch to an anti-Brexit stance is not guaranteed to recover enough defecting Remain voters or in enough numbers to “offset Leave voters in many of the key marginals.”

This approach has the virtue that it combines political principle with electoral realism.

Gove was eliminated in the parliamentary round leaving the top two to tour the declining bands of Tory pensioners. He was chosen in a bout of typically cynical tactical voting by Boris Johnson’s supporters.

Between Hunt and Johnson it’s hard to see how an impartial observer could make a judgement as to which might make the best premier.


We're a reader-owned co-operative, which means you can become part of the paper too by buying shares in the People’s Press Printing Society.

Become a supporter

Fighting fund

You've Raised:£ 6,920
We need:£ 11,080
15 Days remaining
Donate today