The knives are out for the great Tory egg-and-spoon race
There’s nothing like naked ambition to reveal the inner-child in a person. Dangle anyone’s deepest desire in front of them and you’ll see the raw fundamentals that drive their personality: the stuff that therapists are there for.
None of us looks at our best when we are grasping for something, and we are normal human beings, so when the emotional cripples who people parliament compete for the mother lode of validation they believe to exist in 10 Downing St, it can resemble the dog end of a sixth birthday party that’s featured too many E numbers.
We rarely see the little darlings unsupervised. Ministers are usually dressed for school by their departmental civil servants who have reminded them to be polite before dropping them off in the morning.
During a leadership election, grown-ups are banished and there is nobody to check the contestants’ homework before they hand it in.
As any teacher will confirm, you only really see what they are like on a school trip.
So, what do we have on our hands?
Ready4Rishi has been Head Boy his entire life. At conception, one imagines his father’s most responsible sperm approaching the egg with a fully costed plan for Sunak Minor’s education‒ to include a budgetary allowance for on-point leisurewear.
What an absolute ballache he must have been for Boris Johnson, urging caution three times before breakfast and refusing to join in with the bullying.
His problem is that he looks so destined to be PM that it’s irresistible to spoil it for him. If I were a Tory backbencher, I’d introduce him to smoking.
Something’s going on around Penny Mordaunt that we haven’t been let in on.
On face value she’s a Tory backbencher’s dream: youngish, well-spoken with a military background, and reputedly possessed of a barrack room sense of humour, you’d think she ticked every possible box.
Someone with Establishment poke, however, clearly disagrees and this morning’s Mail on Sunday devotes six articles to trashing her whilst Lord Frost, the éminence puce of Brexit, has been rushing around TV studios to insist she’s a wrong ‘un.
Ms. Mordaunt, it seems, has untold history.
Kemi Badenoch, meanwhile, is strictly about the future.
With no chance of winning this time, she’s free to burnish her reputation without immediate consequence.
Tellingly, she was the candidate willing to stick the boot directly into Mordaunt during the first televised debate by invoking the trans issue, with its vast, deranged hinterland of woke phobia.
Earlier in the day on LBC she had dismissed criticism from comedian Dane Baptiste by announcing, ‘”I don’t need people whose only experience of being black is being an ethnic minority in the UK to tell me what that means.”
With Michael Gove in her corner, it’s fair to assume we’ll be hearing a great deal from Kemi Badenoch over the coming years.
Tom Tugendhat, it turns out, used to be a Super Army Soldier. Did you know that? Because he was an actual soldier in a proper war and he’s pretty disgusted at what he’s found since lowering himself into the fetid swamp of politics.
If horned-rimmed rectitude is your thing, then Tom has a pleasing 1930s vibe about him but he’s a bit John Major for a party still gnawing on the red meat of Brexit and will be left to chunter away about decency until he jacks it in and starts writing books on military history.
Which leaves Liz Truss.
Putting the sensational weirdness of Liz into words has been taxing writers for a while. She’s an authentic jolt to the senses when she goes full League of Gentleman.
Blinking furiously, her thoughts seem to collide behind her eyes on the way to finding expression in a series of disconnected statements and unsettling facial expressions.
Dressing up as Margaret Thatcher is something most of us do at one time or another but exactly replicating a specific 1979 outfit for a TV debate is a step beyond harmless fun.
One of these characters will soon have won life on the terms they set out as children.
Events will conspire to suggest that, just as they suspected, they are special and marked out for greatness.
Our role in all this is to ensure they hate every moment of it.
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