LBC Views: Tory MPs must give the party faithful a proper choice

12 July 2022, 11:19

Tory MPs must give the party faithful a proper choice in the leadership race
Tory MPs must give the party faithful a proper choice in the leadership race. Picture: LBC

By Stephen Rigley

Perhaps it was inevitable that the Tory leadership contest would not be a cordial, civilised affair.

Almost as soon as a candidate has put themselves forward, they have been greeted with a volley of personal attacks and vicious smears.

For any wannabe Prime Minister and their team, these 'blue on blue wars' are an unedifying spectacle. The challenges for Britain's next Prime Minister are great and the responsibilities are huge.

Yet exactly what does each candidate actually stand for? What is their vision for a post covid Britain out of the EU?

Hopefully, it will become clear over the forthcoming weeks and months but as it stands the only concrete pledge we have seen from the various candidates is a promise to cut taxes.

This is potentially great news for all of us, but are these proposals credible? Are they properly costed?

It seems bizarre but it is a fact that the future Prime Minister will be decided by around 200,000 members of the Conservative party.

At least they are experienced in making such a choice: the departing leader was voted in by party members in 2019 and sat in Downing Street for months before asking the rest of the public whether they were happy for him to be there.

Mr Johnson was the third Tory leader to be crowned by members since they were given a say in the matter back in the 2000s – it was previously up to party MPs alone.

And just who are this electorate with the future of the country in their hands.

Very little is known about the Tory party membership. Research indicates more than half are aged over 60, and they tend to be male residents of southern England.

They are overwhelmingly white – at 97% – although ethnic minorities remain heavily underrepresented across all UK political parties.

But what is clear is each one of these grassroots members has their own beliefs and values.

Before it gets that far we need to see class from the Tory MPs and one thing is clear, they must give their party faithful a proper choice.

They must abandon the lurid fights among themselves and properly challenge the candidates on their goals and vision for the future of the country.

There are vast challenges that Britain is facing and a new Prime Minister will have a bulging in-tray with the cost of living crisis, the war in Ukraine and Scottish independence all demanding attention.

The responsibility for the party membership is huge and they need a clear vision set out for Britain's future.

And for them to have a chance, the MPs need to make sure that the best candidates go forward with the clearest vision for the country's future.

Hopefully, that won't be too much to ask.