Picture: ConHome next Tory leader polling from December 2015
Following the recent ConHome polling Mike noted that Boris Johnson had once again become the favourite to be Theresa May’s successor but I’m going to explain why I’m continuing on laying Boris as next Tory leader/PM.
1) Polls are not immutable.
Look at the picture atop this thread, back in December 2015 George Osborne had led the ConHome poll for a fifth successive month, polls are not static, they can rapidly change. It isn’t hard to see the next Tory leadership contest being held in vastly different circumstances to today.
With Liam Fox saying no deal is now odds on, anyone who is associated with Leave and said no deal was Project Fear will see their ratings fall if we get no deal.
It will be the equivalent of Gordon Brown saying he had abolished boom and bust then overseeing a rather deep recession. We all know what that did to Gordon Brown’s polling and ratings.
2) Not everyone expected to stand actually does stand.
Looking at that ConHome poll from December 2015, of the top eight candidates only three of them actually stood in the next leadership contest. The first choice of 62% of ConHome voters didn’t stand six months later. The person who actually finished second wasn’t even on the list. Boris Johnson has form for not standing in Tory leadership contests he was expected to win.
3) Polls aren’t that good for Boris when you focus on them.
The last few years have not been polling industry’s finest, and there’s a lot of scepticism around voting intentions, particularly amongst the political classes.
The YouGov poll that showed a half percent Lab to Con swing if Boris replaced Mrs May was presented by many Boris Johnson fans as a sign that only their man can win the Tories the next election.
A half percent swing is pathetic given Boris Johnson’s supposed electoral appeal and even if that poll was accurate it would likely result in a Labour led government. With other contenders doing badly the party will look to the next generation of MPs.
A YouGov poll conducted at roughly the same time gave an indication that the appeal of Boris is ephemeral. 43% of Tory voters thought Boris was an asset to the government, and the government would have been better if he had stayed, whereas 39% disagreed.
In these hyper partisan times a net 4% rating on this question from your own side is very bad for someone who hopes to lead his party.
4) Tory MPs control the first part of the leadership contest (This probably the most important factor).
This isn’t something that isn’t discussed often enough, whatever members might like, they may not get because MPs get to control who the final two are.
Tory members might pressure their MPs to vote for a certain candidate, in a secret ballot a Tory MP can back whomever they wish despite their public pronouncements.
Tory MPs have been described as the most sophisticated and duplicitous electorate in the world, Boris may find out that Ted Heath’s reported maxim that the Tory party is composed solely of “shits, bloody shits, and fucking shits” is accurate.
Additionally one thing Tory MPs have learned from the Labour party is that they will not be voting anyone purely to widen the debate, Tory MPs don’t want their own Corbyn, Corbyn after all lost last year’s general election. They won’t risk the possibility of the court jester becoming monarch.
5) The voting system will likely hinder Boris Johnson.
With the quasi-AV voting system the Tory party uses to elect their leader it is very possible for a candidate to win (or eliminate someone before they reach the final two) by being the stop X candidate.
John Major won in part because he wasn’t Michael Heseltine, William Hague and Iain Duncan Smith won because they weren’t Kenneth Clarke. You could argue Mrs May won because she wasn’t Andrea Leadsom, nor Michael Gove, nor Boris.
There’s history for winning the Tory leadership because of who you aren’t rather than who you are.
It is very easy to see someone positioning themselves as the stop Boris candidate succeeding.
6) The next Tory leadership contest is going to be brutal, especially for Boris.
With what is at stake for the party and country it will strongly fought leadership contest with no one willingly giving ground and using all the tricks to win
A Westminster acquaintance of mine described Boris Johnson as a ‘Fortnum and Mason Jeremy Corbyn.’ Their logic was given how the Tories are focussed heavily on Jeremy Corbyn associations with various holocaust deniers and anti-Semites, Tories opposed to Boris would focus on Boris Johnson hanging around with Steve Bannon and the fact that Boris has used words like ‘piccaninnies’.
His tenure as Foreign Secretary will not help him win the leadership, just look at the stunts he pulled on the day he resigned. A British citizen had been murdered, most likely by Russia, a COBRA meeting had been called and Boris Johnson skipped the meeting.
My Westminster acquaintance said the actions of Boris could only be described in the language that I use when describing Mark Reckless and that’s even before we discuss Boris launching a pretty naked leadership bid the day a failed terrorrist attack in London last September.
Nobody who says Boris Johnson’s tenure as Foreign Secretary confirmed his suitability to be Prime Minister would be expected to pass a breathalyser test.
If Boris is expecting bouquets he’s going to be in for a shock.
Like the many mistresses of bonking Boris I’m going to keep on laying him, it was profitable last time and I expect it will be again, there’s plenty of evidence to show why Boris wont be Theresa May’s successor.