The Penny Mordaunt delusion

If it’s come to this, the Tory Party really is toast.

Tom Slater

Tom Slater

Topics Politics UK

Penny Mordaunt? If there’s even a whiff of truth to Westminster gossip that the embattled Tory Party is considering staging yet another leadership coup and installing the member for Portsmouth North in No10 Downing Street, then they really have lost it.

The weekend’s papers were awash with claims that Mordaunt – among the party’s most pre-eminent politically correct nonentities – was being lined up to succeed Rishi Sunak, following another woeful week for our unelected prime minister. Apparently, even right-wing Tory MPs have been talking her up, as they try to tempt MPs on the wet wing of the party into deposing Sunak.

For their part, allies of Mordaunt – who has made no secret of her leadership ambitions – claim this is being put about by her enemies, rather than her friends. They say this is all backbench ‘black ops’, aimed at toppling Sunak so as to clear the way for a new right-wing Tory leader. Meanwhile, voters are looking at the state of the nation, the world and their personal finances and wondering if these gossipy weirdos are living on the same planet.

Perhaps those Tory right-wingers are genuine. Yes, a Penny premiership would be absurd. Her primary qualification for the top job in British politics is that she once successfully carried a sword on television. She’s one of a growing crop of Tory MPs who believe in nothing other than gender ideology; another ‘sensible’ who thinks and says mental things like men can become women.

But now that the Tories, currently sitting at 20 per cent in the polls, are staring down the barrel of a humiliating defeat, you can hardly blame them for wondering if Mordaunt would be electorally any worse. Sunak was pitched, essentially, as a boring technocrat but the one the country needed to get back on track. Given the still-dire state of the economy, he’s certainly proved the first bit right.

How have the Conservatives gone from historic victory to potential annihilation in the space of one electoral cycle? Covid, lockdown, war in Europe and the economic clusterfuck that followed would have finished off most governments. But the Tories have also gone out of their way to infuriate the fragile new voting base they carved out in 2019. The working classes plumped for a more populist, democratic politics and they’ve ended up with yet another Blairite photocopy, following the implosion of Boris Johnson and the tragicomic turn of Liz Truss, who thought reheated Thatcherism was what the Red Wall was secretly yearning for.

It’s become abundantly clear that the Tories cannot win the next election with Sunak as leader. He has somehow made Labour’s Keir Starmer, a politician so dull he makes John Major look like Vladimir Lenin, our presumptive next prime minister. But right now it’s not obvious the Conservatives could win with any leader. The Tories could soon find out that no party – even the supposed natural party of government – has a God-given right to exist.

Tom Slater is editor of spiked. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Slater_

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Topics Politics UK


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