The Leadsom candidacy is a reminder that those seeking high office must expect the highest levels of scrutiny

The Leadsom candidacy is a reminder that those seeking high office must expect the highest levels of scrutiny


And you need very good media advisors who you take notice of

In the end I was rather disappointed that Andrea Leadsom pulled out because I could have seen her performing much better than expected.

Her views on social issues might not be mainstream but could well have appealed to large parts of the older middle class men who make up much of the party membership base. She’s also personable and quite a good communicator.

Importantly Leadsom was the one Brexiter left standing after the second round of MP voting and this itself had the potential to make her very competitive with a membership that on June 23rd had split 65-35 to LEAVE. In the 2001 the vastly more experienced Ken Clarke lost badly to IDS in the membership round because of his views on the EU.

A self selecting survey of members at CONHome carried out eight days ago had had Leadsom beating May by 1% when the choice of the initial five was put.

So by the time we got to the second MP round results last Thursday evening Leadsom was in a strong position after dealing successfully with the much better known Brexiter Michael Gove.

    She had a fighting chance of becoming the next prime minister and it was inevitable that every aspect of her life was going to be subject to the most intense media scrutiny before the membership ballots went out.

The starting point for examination was what she had said about herself in her CV. When aspects of this started to unravel this simply encouraged further examination and research. To state that she had had a particular job title that was not correct was very damaging.

Then came the motherhood story in the Times and Leadsom’s initial reaction to it casting doubt on its veracity in Tweets. This all fell apart when an audio recording had her saying the words that the Times had splashed. What this highlighted was that she didn’t have a skilled media manager who would be calling the shots and seeking to put out fires.

I thought her pull out yesterday lunchtime was highly dignified and will hold her in good stead in the future.

No doubt the affair sent out messages to others who high ambitions to be extra careful with their published biogs and what they have in their Who’s Who entries. Inflation of their roles could have a devastating impact later in their careers.

Mike Smithson

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