Ever since the disastrous (at least for the Tories) 2017 GE, many have been looking at the future of the leadership. We don’t know how long Theresa May will last- whether it’ll be sixth months or a proper five year term, but she will not exactly be a Robert Mugabe. She will one day step down, or forced to, if you look at the current situation.
Whilst May retains some popularity within the party, many aren’t happy. Nobody particularly loved the 2017 manifesto, with many pointing out the ‘diet socialism’ of energy caps and its admiration of big government, the latter of which May seems to be pushing. Whilst enjoying popular ratings initially, May made the mistake of calling a general election, which became her downfall. As a result of the lost majority, her mishmash of an ideology and her perceived betrayal of Brexiteers (see the recent speech); she is not longer heralded by the party membership. Honestly, May shouldn’t shoulder all of the blame, but we should have trounced the thoroughly incompetent Jeremy Corbyn at the polls. Instead, they entered an unpopular alliance with the DUP.
Many are disenchanted, especially the young members. Many perceive the Conservatives as being full of elderly white men who are retired, middle-class and own their own property. Yes, there are many of them, and honestly, having campaigned with several, they are wonderful contributors. Yet, there is a youth movement, a movement that is not to be ignored. A large number attended the October conference, and provided vibrant commentary on social media in a way that its older members could not. Each youth is different- there are the Cameronites- those towards the centre, the Davidson fans who are being converted to the cause, and many Thatcherites who long for the days of the Iron Lady. The youth, including myself, are already looking to the future.
I’m not ready to lead the youth army to battle against the forces of May, but many- young and old- are looking to the future. Quite honestly, Corbyn has a decent chance of winning the next election, and that is a terrifying thought. Many worry about the future of the Party, especially with CCHQ being completely incompetent and not knowing how to work with the young (we’re the foot soldiers).
Names are bounded around for future- Rudd (no thanks), Hammond (God no) and BoJo (maybe not). Some of the older members would be fantastic- David Davis, for example, is an excellent Parliamentarian and has all the makings of a fine leader, but it doesn’t look like May wants to step down anytime soon (unless she is pushed), and Davis probably won’t want to leave his job before Brexit hits. By that time, he will be classed as being in the past. That is not to say that the old are not incredible leaders- Ronald Reagan was a month of 70 when he was sworn in, but many want change. Whether or not they embrace the new compassionate conservatism, or long for the days of Thatcher, leadership needs to be new and exciting.
Thank God for the new generation.
Quite honestly, there are a few 2010 and later intake that give me a lot of hope. They represent the best of the party- excitement, intelligence and a fierce love for both party and country. The Trudy Harrisons of the world are in it for the greater good; they want to help the people they represent, and are not in it for the greater good. That may seem very optimistic, considering how most people see politicians, but I do believe that the newer intake are better. This is cross party too- my home MP, Melanie Onn is an example. I completely disagree with her on nearly everything- she’s a Remainer in one of the deepest Eurosceptic seats in the UK-but she really does care about our home. The future of the Conservative Party is in the hands of people who genuinely want to make things better, and whether you agree with their brand of conservatism, that passion is something we should whole-heartedly encourage. When May leaves, as older members retire or scale down in their roles, these will be the people that will be stepping up to the plate. In 20 years, they will be standing on the big stages at party conference, not relegated to the fringe events. Of course, the fringe events are popular, with stars such as Jacob Rees-Mogg packing out halls, but the big numbers go to Cabinet members such as Amber Rudd and Michael Fallon. In 20 years, the 2010 intake will be seen as the status quo.
There are three names that come to mind when it comes to the future:
James Cleverly- Before recently, Cleverly was known was the guy with the hilarious Twitter (he has top tweet game, guys) who apparently loved nothing more than a gossip and a drink at the Westminster pubs. A 2015 intake, and MP for the aptly-named Braintree, Cleverly has become a serious contender. In a recent interview, he boldly admitted that yes, he would one day like to be Prime Minister. Of course, most MPs probably would, but admitting it at this fractious time would be seen as betraying current PM May. Firstly, he’s ex-military. Veterans are amazing people, and the military teaches a variety of skills, from patience to respect. Having discipline is an important ministerial skill. He worked outside of politics before he became an MP, which is hugely important in that it allowed him to live outside of the Westminster bubble.
Whilst some may joke about his Twitter being a little jokey, that actually gives him a boost. The Conservatives need work on their social media. Theresa May (or her team) barely tweet. This is better than the random, if thoroughly entertaining, Twitter of one Mr. Donald J Trump, but she isn’t doing a great job of reaching out. Cleverly’s interactions with both regular users and journalists show he knows how to advertise his brand. In person, Cleverly is also believed to be hugely personable. At conference, a friend of mine recently met him, and received excited compliments about his jacket- Cleverly was immediately warm and engaging to a person he had only just met, which would be great for meeting constituents. May is probably a nice lady, but she does have a problem with connecting with voters, something Cleverly would not have a problem with.
I wouldn’t say no to him as the next leader- I’d probably endorse him myself.
Priti Patel- From the moment Priti Patel arrived in Westminster in 2010, the newly-elected MP for Witham, Essex; it seemed she was definitely tapped for bigger and better things. She had been placed on the A-List of candidates, which already meant she was one to watch. After increasing her majority by 4,000 in 2015, she was appointed to Cabinet by David Cameron, becoming a voice on the right of the party. A deep Eurosceptic, she joined a handful of fellow Ministers by rebelling against Cameron’s hope for collective responsibility, becoming an integral member of Vote Leave. In 2016, she received a further promotion, becoming Secretary of State for International Development. It may seem like an odd choice for a woman who openly called for the department, along with aid, to be scrapped, but May had put many Brexiters in the international positions.
Patel is a strong Thatcherite, putting her at odds with the new brands of Toryism put forward by Cameron and May. She supports the death penalty amongst other contentious issues. She left the party briefly to join the Referendum Party, a single-issue party who wanted- you guessed it- a referendum on the EU. Patel has wasted no time in getting things done, and is hugely admirable in that she wants to reform the aid budget properly. Aid isn’t going to get scrapped- it’s used as a bargaining chip in international negotiations and it isn’t going anywhere- but Patel wants it used properly, with aid going to smaller charities, and not leaders of countries who will spend it on palaces and not people. She’s tough as nails, a sharp speaker and doesn’t take anyone’s rubbish. Patel may not be as charismatic as Cleverly, but one cannot deny her ambition and work ethic. In short, if you want a female role model in the party, she definitely isn’t a bad one. No one will ever live up to Margaret Thatcher, but she at least has that ideology.
Maybe after Cleverly?
Kemi Badenoch- It seems that Essex is a recurring theme, because 2017 newbie Kemi Badenoch represents the rural Saffron Walden. It wasn’t a surprise she won, because Saffron Walden has been Conservative for years, represented for forty years by Alan Haselhurt. Badenoch made huge waves with her excellent maiden speech, in which she discussed Brexit (she voted for it) and praised Thatcher, Winston Churchill and Airey Neave. She’s only been in for four months, but she is already causing a ripple effect.
It’d be too early to say she’s PM material- she’s only a 2017 intake, but Badenoch shows what hard work does. Born in England to Nigerian parents, she moved around as a child due to her parents’ jobs, returning age 16. Her degree in Computer Systems Engineering is definitely unique in Parliament, so it doesn’t seem like she followed the PPE route of people like David Cameron. Before politics, she worked as an IT specialist, financier and journalists-a well rounded woman. She joined the party later than others, aged 25, working in the London Assembly before her election in 2017. Badenoch is an excellent example of people we should aspire to- a proud Brit who doesn’t forget her foreign routes, who worked hard and decided not to be a career politician. She became a Conservative due to her upbrining in Nigeria, and came from a culture where hard-work is valued.
Badenoch herself goes against stereotypes. In Parliament, a Labour member assumed that she was Labour, as did one of the Labour whips. It didn’t bother Badenoch, but she knows that not many would expect her to be a Conservative as a black woman. If her hard-working ethic and strong past is any indication, she is tipped to be more than just a backbencher in her Parliamentary career- if she wants it.
She is one to keep an eye on.
In short, we have a lot to look forward to. It’s not just the MPs- the passionate young Conservative, the teenagers who tweet and the aspiring leaders of tomorrow are all a huge part of a future. If David Cameron was the future, once, then they are the future soon.