Do the Tories have a future without Boris at the helm?
We need someone to challenge the status quo, someone with conviction and gusto, someone with faults and an all-too authentic human side. We need someone who has the capacity to deviate from diplomatic norms when putting his country first requires it. We need Boris Johnson.
Friday, the 7th June 2019. Remember that date; for that will be the date which not just sees the back of one of the single worst Prime Ministerial efforts this country has ever produced, but it is also going to be one of two things: a damning obituary to a Conservative and Unionist party we once knew and loved, or the ushering in of a new era of centre right, socially conservative, ideologically potent conservatism. What will be the deciding factor in that equation? One word: Boris.
The Tory party leadership race isn’t really so much a race, as a direct conflict of ideology, pitting those content with the neo liberal dogma of ideological concession that is the modern status quo (and has been for the better part of two decades) against those who see the necessity in British politics for a party to fill the vacuum of conservative ideology left by centrist appeasement.
This really is D-day for the Tories, and the leadership race here is being fought on two fronts. The first of these is the Brexit front, sadly dominated by the dogmatic and weak tory MPs, whom ardently oppose Brexit and have found a renewed sense of vigour in fighting it since the abject failure of Theresa May to deliver it.
The second is a more classical battle of ideology, with one faction of the Tory party trying to cling onto the damp sanctuary of support that was the political centre ground and another trying to seize this opportunity to shift to the right and pursue an agenda of actual conservatism, to provide an actual home for those thinkers on the right who have been starved of an ideological abode since the ascension of John Major.
These two conflicts are ones which need an all or nothing approach. They forgo Queensbury regulations and need someone willing to give it all and lose it all. They don’t need a glory opportunist, like Gove or Raab, and they certainly don’t need another wet blanket like Amber Rudd or Rory Stewart. And if they’re going to go for a marmite candidate, please don’t let it be the scourge of the ever-toxic issue that is the NHS, Jeremy Hunt. We need to end the politics of ideological compromise which unify everyone in nothing but their apathy. It is a weak model to follow, and a flavour the electorate is increasingly losing the taste for.
What we need is a candidate to show strength, to be a statesman and to have the stones to take us through Brexit. We need someone who will honour democracy and restore the faith of his party members, conservative thinkers and leave voters in the integrity of our seemingly dissident political class. We need someone to challenge the status quo, someone with conviction and gusto, someone with faults and an all-too authentic human side. We need someone who has the capacity to deviate from diplomatic norms when putting his country first requires it. We need Boris Johnson.
It is absolutely true that Boris is indeed a marmite candidate; people love him or hate him, but generally, where they hate him, they love to hate him. Boris has a certain charm about him which commands the intrigue of supporters and critics alike. Sure, his ascension to tory leader will probably see some high profile resignations, but I put it to you that any representative of the Conservative party who sees fit to resign with Johnson at the helm was never a representative of the Conservative party to begin with, they were a conviction lacking opportunist, the product of Neo liberal arrogance which unfortunately dominates our parliament to this day.
Boris would be the catalyst – for better or for worse – for breaking that axiomatic tradition. Boris, like no other, has the capacity to unify the party to a much more potent and ideologically dense level than any Tory leader since Thatcher. For better or for worse here is the key; if it works, it works. if not, the party isn’t fit for purpose anyway. We have arrived at a juncture which – if one were to assume the role of conspiracist for just a second – could at face value seem like one of Boris’s own construction.
We have arrived at a crossroads whereby its Boris or party dissolution. It must be; the Conservative party – the oldest party in British politics – was founded on Burkean principles of social conservatism, individualism, family and traditionalism, free markets and equality of opportunity, minimal state and patriotism. Under the likes of Cameron and May, we have seen indirect taxes raised repeatedly, the NHS held hostage by the doctrinaire public ownership camp, the welfare state being so badly managed and so terribly dealt with that only a government could have possibly been the perpetrators.
Yes, yes, I know we have seen income tax go down, business rates tweaked and some minor rhetoric pertaining to helping small businesses and their situations, but at what cost? Really, the only socially conservative or even conservative principle visible at all in the record of the modern Tory party has been a reduction of income tax. Every other political decision and ideological doctrine observed by them has been the aggregate observation of essentially all other ingredients to the modern, post neo liberal political broth that makes up our modern political typography, and it is an ideological doctrine that needs to be dissolved.
The only man to do that is Boris Johnson. The only man that could, would and should do that is Boris Johnson. No other candidate has 39% of membership support (with second place polling just 13% in the same YouGov poll). No other candidate has such a documented and tenacious love for conservatism as an ideology, and I firmly believe that no single other candidate has the willingness to risk everything for the party, Brexit and for conservatism.
This will probably all become very evident in the one hurdle that could stop him dead in his tracks: the MP’s candidate selection process. I fear that the centrists and the remainers in the party will have the power and the will to sabotage his hopes as early as they can, meaning he never gets to the membership and his hopes are again, probably fatally, dashed.
For now though, he is the bookies favourite, he is the membership favourite and he is by a wide margin my favourite. For the good of Britain, for the good of the ideology of conservatism and for the good of British politics, bring on Boris!