Tuesday 19 July 2022

Debates were a failure


There are only 358 people with a vote at this stage of the Tory leadership contest; what anyone else thinks of the candidates is utterly irrelevant. And the Tory tradition for honesty, integrity and consistency being as it is, it was always obvious that the promises and policies gushing forth from the mouths of the contenders seeking those 358 votes would not be the same as those which will gush forth from the final two when the membership gets to vote, and that those in turn will not be the same as those which gush forth from the mouth of the winner when he or she attempts to win a general election. Three different electorates require three different platforms; the only objective is to win, not to implement any particular programme after doing so.

With that in mind, the strange thing is not that two of the candidates pulled out of the final televised debate, but that any of them agreed to participate in televised debates in the first place. It should have been obvious to them that such debates would demonstrate only three things: how much they hate each other; how far they’re prepared to go to take each other down; and how different what they say to their party is from what they will say to the electorate in due course. Televised public debates to reach and persuade an electorate of 358 individuals is a remarkably blunt weapon; to their ‘credit’ they’ve collectively succeeded in blunting it even further.

Perhaps they believed that taking part would give them some sort of head start for the next two stages; perhaps they believed that they were reaching members and voters who would put pressure on their constituency MPs to support one candidate rather than another. The only thing certain is that none of them believed that openness and transparency was going to be a brilliant idea – they have, after all, got an awful lot not to be open or transparent about.

I suppose we should be grateful that the one who wanted to invade Siberia has been knocked out. Invading Russia would certainly have been one way of bringing a quick end to the war in Ukraine, even if there would have been few of us left to notice. The thing is, though, that it’s far from clear that such madness had much to do with his elimination; he had, after all, been perceived as one of the saner ones. And that’s the real problem with those televised debates: they might have damaged the Tory Party, but they haven’t really displayed how mad some of the thinking of mainstream Tories has become.

1 comment:

Gav said...

" ... but they haven’t really displayed how mad some of the thinking of mainstream Tories has become". We may be about to find out. Ms Truss now the bookies' favourite, according to politicalbetting.