Could Sajid still sieze the crown?
Our new commentator, Naomi Ferguson argues that we shouldn't rule out outlier candidate Sajid Javid as the eventual winner of the race for the Tory leadership.
For several months MPs within the conservative party have been oiling the wheels for a leadership contest. The battle plans have been prepped. The artillery is being organised. And as of Friday the battle ground has now been laid out by Mrs May. Next step is to finalise the contenders.
Last Friday, Theresa May formally announced her departure as leader of the Conservative party and British Prime Minister. Actions which knocked over the first domino of many towards a new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland. As of last night there are 18 candidates competing for the leadership position, indicating an enormous talent pool of candidates. From political heavy-weights like Boris Johnson to more unsuspecting candidates like Rory Stewart, the leadership contest is effectively open to any Member of Parliament within the Conservative Party. With the most hotly discussed candidates being Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab, Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove, what about the others? Specifically what about the other remaining holders of The Great Offices of State?
The Great Offices of State in the United Kingdom are the four most senior and prestigious posts in the British government: Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Foreign Secretary and Home Secretary. Currently the holders are Theresa May, Phillip Hammond, Jeremy Hunt and Sajid Javid. British Chancellor Phillip Hammond is unlikely to be a contender. Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, is currently in the top four favourites to run in the leadership race and has already thrown his hat in the ring. Finally, leaving Home Secretary Sajid Javid, at 16/1 according to Ladbrokes to replace Mrs May, to be discussed. He has not yet formally announced, but seems in the last few months and weeks to have been setting out his candidacy through media interviews and speeches.
The Lancashire born Conservative Member of Parliament for Bromsgrove since 2010 held four Secretary of State positions before becoming Home Secretary and consistently polls well within the party membership. Javid has an incredible story that personifies the Conservative ideal, as a former banker, at Deutsche Bank, and champion of free markets. As the son of a Pakistani immigrant who worked hard, became a millionaire and rose throughout the ranks to the top of British politics, Sajid Javid’s story is one of aspiration rather than privilege. Could his next step be becoming the UK’s first Asian Prime Minister?
Politically during the referendum Javid supported the remain camp but has since moved across to leave to maintain his respectable position that politicians should respect the result of the 2016 vote on the UK’s involvement in the European Union. His tough policies during his time in the Home Office including his opposition to the return of Shamima Begum have boosted his position among some colleagues.
Javid makes the case that the Conservative party stands for opportunity and social mobility, using his own personal journey as an example. His policies in previous ministerial positions demonstrate this, during his tenure as business secretary Javid focused heavily on apprenticeships.
However the handling of the migrant crisis during his tenure as Home Secretary may hinder his leadership bid. But ultimately to convince the party he is a viable candidate Mr Javid will have to demonstrate a more inspirational speaking approach and increase public appearances to achieve a position on the ballot paper.
Going forward all leadership contestants must put forward their arguments in an attempt to get their names on the ballot paper, going through the motions of Parliamentary selection which will eventually leave two contestants to then go forward to a vote among the party membership.
While the Conservative party will attempt to whittle down the plethora of leadership candidates by the end of the month. In the coming weeks we can expect to see a great deal of rebranding from the party elite and a lot of attention seeking media coverage. However as politics has demonstrated in recent years polling is no longer an accurate prediction of the course of events in the political sphere. The EU referendum result, as well as Donald Trump’s victory in 2016, seem to have rendered polling obsolete. Since both major world events, a question on many people’s lips has been ‘Can we still trust polls?’. Thus throughout the leadership contest we must take any polling with a pinch of salt, as only time will tell who will cross the finish line first.
Naomi Ferguson has her BA (Hons) in Religion, Politics and Society from Kings' College London and has worked in several areas of politics.
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