A Brief Word on the Conservative Leadership Election


NB. The Libertarian Alliance as an educational charity takes no view of party politics. The following reflects the opinions of the author alone.

A Brief Word on the Conservative Leadership Election
By Keir Martland
(30th June 2016)

All of the candidates stink. All of them backed intervention in Syria in Autumn 2013 and December 2015. All of them backed the Libyan Regime Change in 2011. None of them has a strong track-record in defending civil liberties.

When the nominations closed at noon today, I was terribly dispirited. I had long hoped that civil libertarian and right-wing patriot David Davis would stand. When it became apparent that he would not, I had hoped that the rebel anti-interventionist John Baron would secure a nomination. He was unsuccessful. So who on earth does that leave?

First things first, I do not believe that it would be right for a ‘Remain’ camp politician to succeed David Cameron as Prime Minister. The people have spoken, for what it may be worth. Therefore, I cannot bring myself to support either Theresa May or Stephen Crabb. However, let me devote just a few words to these two candidates.

I do fear at the moment that Theresa May could emerge as the “neutral” unity candidate given her relative silence during the Referendum campaign. Given her experience, many may turn to her as the caretaker Prime Minister Britain needs in order to guarantee “stability” and – worse still – “security.” To her credit, she has made her assurances on the European Union very firm: Britain will leave if she is Prime Minister. This is, I suppose, very fair. Yet Theresa May has asked us to consider her record. On the basis of the highest ever net migration to Britain, draconian anti-drug laws, and fascistic Surveillance State legislation, I do not see how any libertarian or traditional conservative could support May.

Little can be said of Stephen Crabb. Where did he come from? His meteoric rise can only be compared to that of John Major in 1990. Therefore he must surely be regarded as the Cameron puppet candidate, owing his every advance to Cameron, and with a platform of so-called One Nation Conservatism not entirely dissimilar to Cameron’s own empty, vacuous “Big Society” message. If you want continuity, support Crabb. But I thought that’s what we voted against on the 23rd June? Oh yes, David Cameron would be a very good back-seat driver.

Now I turn to the Leave supporters in the leadership race.

Liam Fox is an unapologetic neoconservative. He is a staunch supporter of the United States and its foreign policy. At the same time, however, he is not a supporter of Open Borders, he is strongly anti-EU, and something of a cultural conservative. If he became Prime Minister in September, he would take us out of the EU pronto. Yet, he is a divisive figure with a pretty damning scandal relating to an “adviser” from 2011 which just won’t go away. No, it can’t be Fox.

Michael Gove is perhaps a slightly softer-neocon than Fox, and yet his Education Reforms were unmistakably Blairite in their essentials. Indeed, Gove is – or maybe “was” – a close personal friend of David Cameron, and is rumoured to want George Osborne to stay on as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Gove’s initial support for Boris Johnson (until his brilliantly ruthless betrayal at the last minute) may indicate that he will simply adopt the BoJo platform. This platform is not particularly inspiring. It is essentially continuity, i.e. we stay in the Single Market, there is no major change in the Government’s macroeconomic policy, and even more immigration is encouraged through an amnesty for all illegals. Therefore, perhaps we can expect something like “associate membership” from Gove along the lines of the EEA. It is too soon to tell just how far Gove will deviate from Johnson’s platform. Some encouraging noises were made during an interview on the BBC earlier today, but I do not see how we can trust Gove any more than Johnson. Both were journalists. Both are opportunists. Both are typical Political Class politicians.

I hear that Austrian School libertarian MP Steve Baker has endorsed Andrea Leadsom for the leadership of the Conservative Party. I am not sure if this is true, but I am inclined to offer my own halfhearted backing anyway. What can be said in her favour? She seems to have some understanding of banking and finance, perhaps obtained during her decades in business or from conversations with Baker himself. She appeals to my conservative side on other issues such as immigration and her non-support for “Gay Marriage.” She also doesn’t appear to have any dirt on her, and cannot be regarded as in any sense a “divisive” figure. Of course she is far from perfect and she does seem to believe in at least some of the Climate Change scam. But above all, her own Euroscepticism does not appear to be tied to a rabid neoconservatism or to come with strings attached. In other words, Leadsom is the Brexit candidate.

Fox and Gove should pull out as soon as possible, for they are both divisive and unlikely to win. The two of them should stand behind Mrs Leadsom unless they want the Brexit vote to be split three ways before the vote goes to the membership. For the avoidance of any doubt, however, this is no more than a halfhearted endorsement; Andrea Leadsom is only the best of a truly awful bunch.

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17 comments

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  • I want Leadsom. She’s the best on offer at this crucial point in our political history.

  • A reasonable analysis. Personally, I was bitterly disappointed that Jacob Rees-Mogg did not stand for the leadership, as he can articulate traditionalist views rather persuasively, and his eccentricity of style would have kept him in the media spotlight.

    For the moment, I have to expect that by October we will have Theresa May as Prime Minister, who will deploy tough rhetoric on topics like immigration and the national interest while doing nothing substantial to match that rhetoric. It is likely that Michael Gove will give her a good run for her money, though, as he one of the bolder candidates and is cunning and cynical enough to portray himself as an anti-establishment, British version of Donald Trump if he senses that the political wind is blowing that way. The media outrage this would generate would of course play into his hands since he only needs to win over the Conservative membership. Nevertheless, I think memories of his unpopularity among workers in the education sector would lead many to choose May as the safest option, especially since the Daily Mail has now thrown its support behind her.

  • What a dismal line-up on offer from the Conservatives.

    I can’t see Andrea Leadsom winning: she has no Cabinet experience and would struggle to unite the parliamentary Conservative Party. She could sneak in I suppose, but I would think it more likely she is standing to secure a place for herself in the Cabinet or some other prominent role. I would like to support her on the basis that she is not a non-entity like the rest, she is not tainted by the Cameron ministry and she did come out strongly with Brexit. She also does actually appear to believe in things, but there is one problem – she is a woman. I am averse to placing women in positions of power and authority unless they are truly exceptional (i.e. on the intellectual level of a Thatcher with nationalistic views). Mrs Leadsom is nothing special. She has a few views that chime with reactionaries, and she has nodded in our general direction once or twice, but for me, none of this is enough to override the basic disadvantage that she is female and therefore can be expected to conform to the liberal hegemony about borders and immigration.

    This also automatically rules out Mrs. May as far as I am concerned, but she would be ruled out anyway. I have followed her career since (roughly) the late 90s or early Noughties, and I recall that she was an enthusiast for ‘modernisation’ of the Tory Party. I doubt she really believes in this, or really anything. She is just a conformist who will do anything for her personal advancement. She also happens to be quite competent, which I think works against her – if we have to suffer somebody like this, then I would prefer that they are rather less competent than Mrs. May.

    Gove and Fox seem boring, business-as-usual candidates with neo-con leanings that should now be considered passé. I doubt Fox has the support base to win anyway. Gove is another Tory Blairite.

    Who else? There’s a fellow who calls himself Stephen Crabb, who might well win. He is an empty vessel in the neo-Blairite mould who appears to have joined the wrong party. I imagine this will count in his favour. His only achievement in life seems to be that he was brought-up in a council house by a single muuutherrrrr. In today’s Britain, I suppose that counts as a qualification. If he wins the leadership and becomes Prime Minister, perhaps we will see another ‘trip back to Brixton’-style video in time for the next election, this time showing Mr Crabb re-visiting some of his old haunts in Wales or wherever it is he comes from. “It’s still there….It’s still there.” What else to say about him? He sports a beard. That’s all I can think of.

    I think the realistic candidates here are May and Gove, with Crabb as an outsider possibility. May or Gove would be a good result for the rest of us because I think the Tories will be committing political suicide with either, and that opens the way for UKIP or another fourth party. What the Conservatives needed was somebody like David Davis (I mean the MP, though the contributor here would also make a good leader, if he is available), who has the necessary stature and could unite them. I’m glad they didn’t have the good sense to select him, and I hope Crabb falls at the earliest available hurdle. We need these traitor parties to fall, even if that means a little more suffering.

  • I agree-David Davis was the one. Second choice John Baron. off the five-Liam Fox best of bad lot, then Andrea Leadsom.

    • I don’t know much about John Baron, but have just looked him up. What a shame he dropped out!

      However I doubt he would have lasted long as Tory leader. From the little I have read about him so far (mostly Wikipedia and linked sources), it looks to me like he is a Tory equivalent of Jeremy Corbyn – decent, principled sort of man, popular with the grassroots, but would be forever vulnerable to elitist plotting.

      • I must admit I am not into the more gossipy/personality side of politics, so my knowledge of these people is limited.

  • From what I can pick up from watching Youtube videos etc, Leadsom believes that free trades and capitalism can improve the lot of the poor, which is basically my stance on (economic) Libertarianism. How Libertarian she is in other ways is unclear. Steve Baker MP has given her his support. I think that she may be a good PM. I suspect that if she can get as far as the postal ballot of Party members, she might win it. That means she has to be in the top two.

    The bookies currently have her second favourite.

    This is worth watching. She loses it at corpulent labourite Charles Clark-

    • That is the best and most passionate I have seen Leadsom. I am inclined to agree with the original post: Leadsom is the best of a bad bunch.

      I am delighted that Boris isn’t even in the race, although I have limited tolerance for Gove too.

      • Funny seeing that prick try and denigrate Farage as a freedom fighter. He’s more of one than any Labour apparatchik will ever be, or indeed, more so than the bloody lot of them!

        • The Left have the terrible problem now that there is a popular revolution, and they are not its leaders but its target.

  • Mrs. Leadsom on immigration [this from her Twitter account]:

    [quote]”We must now develop a points based system for those who want to come to UK – fair to all the talents across the world; but also to our own!”[unquote]

    NO! We have no obligation to be “fair to all the talents across the world”. We are under no obligation to accept anybody. When will these people get this simple point through their thick heads?

    Why can’t she just say something like: “Britain needs to be open to the world, but we cannot have free movement or open borders, nor do we need gimmicks such as a points system. Britain already uses a points system anyway – which was brought in under Labour – and it plainly hasn’t worked. The truth is that Britain can thrive with the people and resources we already have, and we should have the confidence to say so. We will have a borders and immigration policy, and we will accept some immigrants, but we will adopt a restrictive approach to immigration, as this serves the interests of Britain and the British people, always the primary consideration.”

    Why is it such a difficult thing for supposedly intelligent people to speak in these terms and simply put the interests of their own people first? She is obviously still in the thrall of liberal dogma on the issue and would be as dangerous as the other contenders.

    But I suppose you can’t expect much more from a Conservative.

    • You can’t expect more from anyone in public life due to the whole threat of being denounced as Waycist. It’s like saying you don’t believe in this Jesus nonsense in the 16th Century.

  • So, here’s my latest theory on the machinations in the Tory Party.

    Leadsom is the “Real Leave” candidate. But they needed somebody to take Johnson down at the start. Only Gove had the heft to do that, drawing fire for the “back stabbing” onto himself and keeping Leadsom free of blame. Since Gove has no desire to be PM, and is not the right material, he was the natural choice to suicide bomb Johnson.

    Iain Duncan Cough has come out in the Leadsom camp which I think supports my hypothesis. They’re gambling on engineering things so that it’s May vs. Leadsom in the final two, on whom the membership (far more EUsceptic than the Parliamentary Party) get to vote.

    Likewise, I suspect that Crabb is intended by the other side to be next to May in the final two, blocking a Real Leave candidate from the membership vote.

  • A good analysis.

    Leadsom looks like the least toxic of the bunch, though far from ideal. What a shame Davis didn’t have another go – though he can’t have had much chance of success in this hollowed out Blairite party.

    May is certainly bad news for the country if she gets the job. One could go through her policy failures one by one, but it would take up far too much time.

    Suffice it to say that she stands for Keynesian-corporatist economics, neo-con wars and a crushing, granite-brained authoritarianism at home. Personally I have always felt that she would look much more at home in a politburo rather than a cabinet.

    The only silver lining if she wins is that it will probably speed up the breakdown of the Tories so that, perhaps, something better might replace them.

    How about a conservative party that really stands for conservative ideas?

    • I wouldn’t be surprised to see Davis at the Home Office in a Leadsom government.

  • A couple of articles about May here that might be of interest:

    http://order-order.com/2016/07/02/read-full-article-pulled-telegraph-pressure-may-campaign/

    http://www.tfa.net/judge-theresa-may-on-her-record/

    How very typical of the Telegraph these days that they pulled it.

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