The adage, “Favourites never win” was true enough three days ago in the five-horse Tory race to choose the next leader, and thus the next prime minister. Boris Johnson — with Michael Gove as his running mate only — was streets ahead of the second-favourite, Theresa May, with the other three candidate far behind.
Now that Johnson has dropped out and Gove dropped in, we have a new favourite, Theresa May with Andrea Leadsom second-favourite, leaving three far behind — though some say Gove is also a co-second-favourite this morning.
There was a time yesterday when, it is said, Leadsom was slightly ahead of May but today, since all the candidates appeared for quizzing in front of the dreaded 1922 Committee, a remnant of old Toryism, Leadsom didn’t acquit herself as well as expected and Gove apparently rose into second place.
Well . . . we’ll know later on today when Tory MPs actually vote in their own private ballot and one of the five will be excluded. Whether we hear the actual numbers or not we’ll still have some idea whether Gove or Leadsom is in second place behind May.
After a second ballot in a couple of days’ time, three candidates will then go forward to a third ballot this day next week. They’ll then be two remaining candidates who will then be voted on by 160,000 Tory Party members in the country.
I have no partisan interest in the matter except to say that it is a far superior process to the selection method of the Labour Party when choosing a leader. This is supposedly more democratic, being thrown open sooner to the total membership.
This lends itself to ‘entryism’ of the sort that almost destroyed the Labour Party 30 years ago — Militant Tendency. In the advanced countries this is pretty well the equivalent of Isis in the Middle East. Something milder already happened in the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader and there is some evidence that it is happening again if he resigns and puts the Labour Party up for a repeat leadership election.
What all this suggests is that while politicians — of left and right — are becoming too comfortable in their respective centres of power, there is frustration and powerful anarchic tendencies bubbling up in the populations of America and all advanced European countries. Political systems need to be radically reformed as we enter a post-industrial era. Either that or we reconcile ourselves to the possibility of advanced countries dividing into two permanent segments — the adequately educated elite and the less so of the remainder.
[P.S. 7.30pm. The results of the count are:
Theresa May — 165
Andrea Leadsom — 66
Michael Gove — 48
Stephen Crabb — 34
Liam Fox — 16
Liam Fox (a committed EU Leaver) will now be knocked off the list, and Stephen Crabb may decide to withdraw voluntarily ready for the next ballot in two days’ time.]