Tory leadership race reveals just how foul the Conservatives really are – Tommy Sheppard MP
It’s a bit like watching a dysfunctional family on the other side of the street fight amongst themselves.
They’re all as bad as each other. There’s no way you can intervene, except to try to get the whole lot evicted because of the harm they are doing to the neighbourhood. And so, the Tory leadership election trundles on, oozing with bad intentions.
The most remarkable thing is that Johnson is still Prime Minister. Lying to parliament. Breaking the law. Protecting his mates. Disowned by his party. But still, he occupies Number Ten. And they let him.
Rather than do the right thing and remove this man from office, the parliamentary Conservative Party shamefully enables his delusions. He still believes he is the victim here.
In truth, they have been saved by the summer holidays. Parliament takes a break next Thursday and returns on September 5. They are hoping Johnson can do no further harm in the time he has left and that, by the time we’re back, someone else will be in charge. Boris will be consigned to the backbenches.
The early stages of the Tory leadership race are over and those whose only intention was to set a marker for the future excluded. But the process so far tells us a lot about the nature of the Conservatives in Britain today.
Most alarming is the race to the right with candidates vying to see who can be the most illiberal and regressive. Not one of them will review deporting refugees to Rwanda, an ugly policy which is a stain on Britain’s humanitarian credentials. Not a single voice is heard in dissent from these wannabe Tory leaders. It’s foul.
In part, this is because they all have an eye to the final ballot of 160,000 Tory members. These are a group of people quite unlike the population they live amongst. They are older, whiter, better-off and, for the most part, more reactionary.
You might think the best leader would be the one who will tell this privileged elite like it is. But not a bit of it. Contestants are pandering to every prejudice. I am convinced that, were equal marriage not now the settled position of the body politic, that would also be firmly in their sights.
To make matters worse, social prejudices are combined with economic illiteracy resulting in drivel about tax cuts and smaller states. Some on the hard-right are quite serious about this, others just parroting what they think their Tory base wants to hear.
If these ideas gain traction, they spell more trouble for those already at the sharp end. Suella Braverman, knocked out yesterday, said Universal Credit should be taken off part-time workers to make them work more hours.
Let’s just unpick that. The people she had in mind were mothers with children (single people don’t get UC), working for wages so low they qualify for state support. That was her target.
The Tory small state means fewer health workers, teachers, police officers. Weakened protection for you and your environment. A squeeze on wages while prices soar and the rich pay less tax.
We do not need to put up with this anymore. Now is the time to choose a different course. Now is the time for independence.
Tommy Sheppard is SNP MP for Edinburgh East