Conservative Leadership Election

Leadership Election

Conservative MPs, and then party members, now have the responsibility and privilege to select a new Conservative Leader who will become the next Prime Minister. Here is what I believe we should look for.

Question Mark

Part of being a single nation is that considerations of this kind ought to be made purely in the national interest, rather than on any particular local interest and, as such, this post will depart from the usual rule that articles on this blog have a local focus, either on Ash and New Ash Green, or on the Sevenoaks District.

What ought we to be looking for in a new leader?

Here is my check list of essential (and desirable) characteristics.

  1. Policy instinct domestically must consistently lean towards liberty and must be prepared to risk unpopularity to defend freedom. Ideally, someone who can articulate how liberty helps everyone, how it helps the least well off, or how a lack of liberty is harmful to both rich and poor.

  2. Needs to be someone whose Foreign Policy instincts are solid (but not viciously bellicose), principled, fairly consistent, and basically moral – this is particularly important because the UK, as a medium sized sovereign nation, now seeks to build a foreign policy based around ongoing voluntary cooperation with others, rather than, for example, through sovereignty pooling within larger international organisations, or via detailed treaty commitments).

  3. Economic instincts (of primary importance is to be able to avoid siren calls for quick fixes and schemes which would make inflation or national indebtedness worse – while it is desirable that a prime minister maintain a policy environment in which we see the flourishing of modest initiatives to assist with the cost of living, especially if such initiatives are not primarily spending items, a good prime minister will be honest that additional Government activity can do more harm than good and so cannot be the solution to all woes. Ideally will be able to articulate how opponents’ short-termist ideas could increase our long term difficulties).

  4. Needs to be someone who adheres to the value of every person, and for creation as a whole, but also needs to be someone who is comfortable being criticised as not caring about about others in these terms – because such criticism is simply a fact of life for politicians who adhere, in particular, to principles 1 and 3 above.

  5. Must have British political instincts. For example must be a supporter of the Jury system, the presumption of innocence, routinely unarmed policing, and heavily reduced mass surveillance.

  6. Needs to be someone of high personal integrity (because of the current political weather, it might be useful if the new leader's personal life is fairly mundane). Ideally will have already demonstrated some courage – the courage itself is, of course, essential.  Ideally, someone who has shown more commitment to right political cause, than to personal advancement.

A Government which adheres to these six values will also tend to make useful contributions to questions like how to fix the NHS backlog, or courts system, how to restore British economic fortunes and that of the freer countries more broadly, how to meet our environmental responsibilities as a medium sized nation, without destroying liberty at home and abroad, how to fix British Policing etc. - i.e. Get the values right, and answering the high profile questions will become much easier.