If Theresa May resigns, who will replace her? Or will the Tories call an election in the hope they can beat Corbyn? At the moment, it is Labour that looks the strongest party, based on their set of competent politicians who, potentially, could replace Corbyn if they need to.
(Flickr / Arno Mikkor (EU2017EE))
Not that Corbyn would step down of course, given his popularity, but if he did, there are some very good politicians, currently supporting him, who could take over. Keir Starmer is one of the best potential candidates for Labour leader, if anything did happen to Corbyn, and Sadiq Khan is another. Andy Burnham would also make a very competent leader. However, if you look at the Tories, their entire situation is dire. If May stepped down, the obvious choices for succession would be either Boris Johnson or Jacob Rees-Mogg. It would be a total disaster for the country, on top of the Brexit mess the UK is already in, if either of those became Prime Minister. So who else? There really isn’t anybody suited to the job at the moment.
Keir Starmer has the experience of being the former Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) behind him. He leans towards being a quieter sort of politician, but he can prime his guns and deliver a forceful broadside when he wants to. He is also extremely popular. That means if the Labour leadership became available and Starmer was willing to take the role, he could probably walk right in. Furthermore, if anyone could make a good job of somehow ironing out the rough edges of the Brexit disaster, it would be Starmer.
(Flickr / Allan Migdall)
Sadiq Khan, according to research by YouGov for London’s Queen Mary University, would greatly improve Labour’s chances of beating the Conservatives in an election. He is a very trustworthy politician and is currently performing an excellent political role already as Mayor of London.
Two other good leadership candidates for Labour would be Andy Burnham and Chuka Umunna, but of course, all this is academic anyway as Labour is riding a rising tide under Jeremy Corbyn, and there is no visible sign of any desire in the party for him to step down. However, the general and very visible point is simply this: Labour is in a very strong position, while the Tories have jumped into a disaster zone.
The Tories are in a right mess, which is very visible for all to see. There is an internal party ‘Civil War’ going on over Brexit and the question of the, currently weak, leadership. It’s not a question of whether May will go soon, but when exactly. There are some predictions flying around that she could be gone by Christmas. Thanks to Cameron, Brexit lifted the lid off Britain’s previously repressed, and very nasty, racist streak, as well as being characterised by a whole set of Leaver lies. This means that the Tories are seen by many as having lurched quite significantly to the right.
Under a Tory government, the UK will continue to be a divided country as it moves towards a break with the EU. Labour, on the other hand, could at least, potentially, make it far more bearable… perhaps. What makes it worse for the Tories is that, with the possible exception of Ruth Davidson, they have a whole set of quirky, odd and downright loathsome characters in their team who, if anything, will make things worse, not better.
Boris Johnson is the Tory Party clown. A total buffoon who basically makes a hobby of going around insulting people. His latest gaffe, reciting verses from Kipling’s Mandalay while on a trip to a temple in Myanmar, was only saved from being a total disaster by the swift intervention of British Ambassador Andrew Patrick. Previous to that however, he has compared Hillary Clinton to a “sadistic nurse in a mental hospital,” made a remark about clearing all the dead bodies from the Libyan city of Sirte in order to make it the new Dubai, described bureaucrats in Brussels as essentially having the same political aim as Adolf Hitler, aired his view that it would be good for Africa if the “old colonial powers scrambled once again in her direction,” written a poem about Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan having sexual relations with a goat… and so on.
(Flickr / British Embassy Tokyo)
Then there is the Brexit disaster. When President Obama urged Britain to remain in the European Union, Boris accused him of spouting anti-British sentiment due to his Kenyan ancestry, remarks that were widely condemned as racist. Boris is an arrant elitist, and has also been accused of cronyism, dishonesty, laziness and using racist language. He may have a shambolic and comical appearance and persona, but behind all that, there is some real nastiness. In 2008, Labour politician Hazel Blears described him as a “nasty right-wing elitist, with odious views and criminal friends,” while in 2012, the Guardian journalist Polly Toynbee called him a “jester, toff, self-absorbed sociopath and serial liar.” Is he fit to be Prime Minister? Definitely not.
Jacob Rees-Mogg looks like he’s stepped straight out of a Sherlock Holmes novel and behaves like it too. He is another of those awful Etonians and is a man who rightly belongs in a time period somewhere between 1814 and 1914. Thankfully, he has ruled himself out of any leadership contest, and that is just as well because he’s a veritable nuisance just being a politician. If you want to gauge the quality of the man just remember the time during the 1997 election when he was chosen to represent the Tories in working-class Fife. Laughably, he went canvassing with his nanny, driving around in a Bentley. Unsurprising that he only managed to win 9 percent of the votes in that constituency. He filibustered the Sustainable Livestock Bill in 2010-12 by reciting poetry and in 2011 said that London council officials who have the power to issue on-the-spot fines should be made to wear bowler hats. He is opposed to same-sex marriage and has some pretty abhorrent views on abortion, being opposed to it even in cases of rape. The fact that the despicable Nigel Farage believes he is the right person for the next Tory leader should tell you everything you wish to know.
Phillip Hammond is a much more measured, reserved and calm persona. He has a quiet discipline about him, but leadership material? Probably not. If anything, he is actually too quiet. A good Prime Minister needs a bit of fire and passion, and Hammond certainly hasn’t got that. Ironically, these were qualities that were initially observed as lacking from Jeremy Corbyn when he first took over the Labour leadership, but fortunately Corbyn has woken up quite a bit since then, and it shows.
David Davis might have been a good candidate, but he announced recently that he plans to retire in 2019, thus clearing the way, presumably, for Boris Johnson.
Finally, Ruth Davidson. Ah, now we’re talking... Davidson is currently the leader of the Scottish Conservative Party, so she is already in a leadership role, and facing SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, she has certainly got a tough job on her hands, though she has undoubtedly demonstrated she is perfectly capable of performing it. She’s tough (ex-Army) while also being compassionate, well about as compassionate as a Tory can be that is. She has a reasonably healthy and ethical attitude to immigrants, having told the 2016 Tory Party Conference that immigrants should be made to feel welcome and she has warned about the Tories lurching too far to the right. Would she make a good Conservative leader or even a good Prime Minister? Very probably. She’s certainly much better than anyone else the Tories could put forward at this moment in time, and she could present a very definite challenge to Corbyn.
(Flickr / Gareth Milner)
These are questions the Tories are going to have to consider very carefully, as Theresa May is on her last legs. She’s a walking disaster area, and so probably the most compassionate thing for the Tories to do would be to let her go. Unfortunately for them, but fortunately for the rest of us, that probably means Corbyn as the next Prime Minister. And another great thing about that is that he’s got some strong people behind him too.
The Tories are struggling, badly. And they know it.🔷