Tory Leadership race
Tory Leadership race

Letter published in the Herald, Friday 31 May.

What are we to make of our local MP’s bid to become leader of his party and the country? There is much to consider!

Rory Stewart unfailingly backed the uncompromising negotiation antics of the most dreadful Prime minister in modern times and now wishes to be taken seriously as a candidate to be our next Prime minister. 

Could a person with such very limited ministerial experience, and who puts some distance between himself and the insurgent far right ‘headbangers’ (Kenneth Clarke’s adjective), be a uniting force in the country and the saviour of a fatally wounded Tory Party?

Lest we forget, Rory stood firmly behind a PM who in 2017 called an election having promised not to do so, went into the election 20 points ahead of Labour and came out with a hung Parliament, failed to get her botched Brexit agreed by Parliament on three occasions and achieved the biggest Government defeat in parliamentary history.

Her legacy is a failed Brexit, a surge in violent crime, unrelenting austerity, the mismanagement of Grenfell and Windrush and epic failures in the local and EU elections.

The Grenfell fire will endure as a reminder of a social order built by neoliberal Toryism which prioritises profit before people and deregulation over safety. It was Mrs May’s own ‘hostile environment’ policy that led to the Windrush scandal in which British citizens were denied medical care, kicked out of their homes and even deported from their own country.

Brexit has re-defined the Conservative Party. It is once again adopting the full range of ‘Nasty Party’ characteristics whilst recklessly undoing half-hearted efforts to give it a modernising make-over. Any resistance to the European Research Group (ERG), which operates openly as a party within a party with its own leader, whip and policies, has been a dismal failure. Equally scary, Conservative associations, infiltrated by UKIP defectors, have shifted to the hard right which means that only Tory leadership candidates who would further polarise a divided nation, can survive.

The EU election results surely told us that the Tory leadership contest will favour the candidate who takes the hardest line on Brexit.

So, could Rory be the Tory to take charge? Well, even if he thinks he’s ‘hard’ enough, is he worthy? He is the MP for an area that continues to endure cuts in education spending, intolerable pressures on our health services, a crisis in social care, a rising number of children living in poverty, an increase in the number of poorly paid jobs with zero-hours contracts, a crumbling road and transport infrastructure and the destructive forces of austerity.

If you have been hoodwinked into believing that Rory is the mild-mannered nice guy of his party, I invite you to take a look at his voting record in parliament at https://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/24964/rory_stewart/penrith_and_the_border/votes.

You might be shocked to find that he has voted against laws to promote equality and human rights, for a reduction in spending on welfare benefits, against increasing the tax rate applied to incomes over £150,000, for increasing the rate of VAT, for reducing capital gains tax, for ending financial support for some 16-19 year olds in training and further education and against measures to prevent climate change.

He could be on target to match Theresa May’s abundant failures.

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