The Conservative view: There’s no doubt, Liz Kendall is the candidate that Tories fear

by Matthew Plummer

Life since our epic victory on May 8th has been a bit like recovering from Christmas lunch – having gorged myself on Christmas pudding, goose (of course) and canvassing I’ve been struggling to find the enthusiasm for things like charades, EVEL and reform of the Human Rights Act. But I was jolted out of the obligatory post-election / Queen’s Speech snooze when my local MP Sadiq Khan livened things up by nominating Jeremy Corbyn for your leadership contest.

Corbyn’s opposition to PFI and the Iraq War always struck me as principled and decent, but politically he makes Ed Miliband look like pure box-office. So when the midday deadline for nominations passed tribalism duly kicked in: I downloaded my ‘Corbyn for Leader’ twibbon (apparently that’s how you lefties do things) and began to tweet excitedly about Brother Jeremy. Although being really honest I can’t say I had any intention of parting with the £3 needed to become a registered supporter of the Labour Party – #JezWeCan and your open primary didn’t seem like my business.

And your leadership options aren’t exactly inspiring. Andy Burnham was in charge of the nation’s purse strings when the public finances started to run out of control and – uncomfortably for him – he failed to act decisively over the Mid-Staffs abuse scandal when he was Secretary of State for Health. His schtick is scaremongering about Tory privatisation of the NHS. Good luck with that: we are pro-market because we believe that is the way to drive up care standards, which is perhaps why Burnham himself oversaw the privatisation of Hinchinbrooke Hospital.

Yvette, on the other hand, is just too…. bleugh. She’s been at the frontline of British politics for so long I suspect she’s running because there’s a weight of incumbency as a competent shadow frontbencher, with the Balls / Cooper leadership dilemma conveniently resolved courtesy of Lynton Crosby. There’s an unthinking, machine politics about Yvette’s leadership bid that just seems so dull. Having spent months pounding the streets and towerblocks of Battersea and Tooting I’m pretty confident neither she nor Andy will be PM come 2020.

So Liz Kendall strikes me as the only candidate who can steer Labour back in the direction of sanity. Yet the rank and file of the Labour movement seems hell-bent on monstering a woman who believes we need to invest in our defences at a time when ISIL and Putin are turning up the heat, and who acknowledges that the last Labour government left a welfare system that was unsustainable – views (may I diplomatically add) that were endorsed by the electorate a couple of months ago. Tony Blair is your only leader to have won two full terms in office, yet Liz is made to wear the term Blairite like a badge of shame.

To us Tories this flirtation with the political wilderness is utter madness. If you want to feel radical and unelectable book Owen Jones for a fundraiser – or join the Greens. Liz (currently tanking at 11/1 with the bookies) is the one we think will give us the biggest run for our money. She is a decent woman and has been honest about the importance of the markets in improving our public services. Kendall will bring a voice to opposition that Britain needs, and my decision to cough up three quid and vote was driven by a desire for healthy debate across the political divide at a time when a worrying number of your movement seem more comfortable ranting about the bedroom tax and wishing Charlotte Church was running for leader.

Liz probably won’t win, but your AV ballot means I get to express a second preference, which will go to Jeremy Corbyn. Choosing anyone other than Kendall means the Labour party really does need euthanising – and we Tories are a compassionate lot these days.

Far better to rip off the plaster with one quick movement than spend years peeling it inch by inch. And don’t blame me – just have a good look at Sadiq, who wanted your lunatic element to have a voice (no voice for Tristram Hunt’s aspirational John Lewis set, mind). With judgement like that it’s safe to say I won’t be giving him my vote for the London Mayoralty.

Of course there is another option: the Tories are a broad church. We ‘invented’ modern state education in the way you ‘invented’ the NHS, not all of us eat babies for breakfast, and we don’t talk about Europe – much. And as a bonus, there’s almost certainly a literature delivery round waiting for you at your local Conservative Association!

Matthew Plummer is a commercial photographer and long-standing member of the Conservative party

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9 Responses to “The Conservative view: There’s no doubt, Liz Kendall is the candidate that Tories fear”

  1. David Walker says:

    Matthew, would it not worry you if Corbyn made it a manifesto pledge to end university fees, write off any student loans that were owed and replace the student loan with a grant? Don’t you think a lot of people would vote for that, out of self-interest, even if many of Corbyn’s other policies petrified them?

    How about if he promised a cheque for 500 pounds going out to everyone aged under the age of 30, within 28 days of taking office, justified by the fact that the young have been hit hardest of all over the last decade. Do you think that might get the young out to vote?

    Corbyn could offer all of this and much more. I personally doubt he would, as I don’t think he is extreme as everybody else does. He could though and if he is serious about winning he probably should.

    All Kendall offers is light-touch Tory policies, implemented without any real conviction. Tories have little to fear from her. The worst case scenario is a few English marginal seats return to Labour and the UK gets a hung-parliament with a Tory-led coalition.

    Are you sure that the electorate is too responsible to vote for a Corbyn-led Labour Party, even if there are sweeties for them on offer?

    Labour has no chance, unless it persuades young English people to get out and vote. When I was young, I was often sent to the shop to buy something for a fat adult who couldn’t be bothered to go themselves. However, they were smart enough to realise that I didn’t want to go either and had to be bribed.

    ‘Fetch me X from the shop and you can have a Walnut Whip’. That worked for me. There was no way that I was going, if I was offered 5 Walnut Whips to be given to me this time next month.

    Labour needs to offer something that young people will feel the benefit of, almost immediately after casting their vote. If anybody is likely to do this, it’s Jeremy Corbyn.

  2. Metro Elite says:

    Couldn’t agree more.
    Kendall seems sensible and is talking about a Britain that exists not some kind of 70s retro heavy industry economy.
    I am a non tribal voter and on hearing some of her views I was inspired to join as a supporter.
    She is not grandstanding and recognises there is finite resources which can be allocated and not some kind of bottomless pit of money.
    I applaud the author recognising the need for a strong opposition.
    Alas she looks as if there are very few sensible voices in the Labour Party.
    Corbyn on the ballot and picking up steam is an emotional decision of the PLP and a neurosis of the pragmatists that lament their lost purity.

  3. Philip Hall says:

    Good article by Matt. I like to think of myself as grown-up Labour and will be voting for Kendall as first choice. Not only is she thoroughly decent and electable, she also has some excellent ideas on early education and devolution of power – actually a kind of New (less-statist) Left that the Labour Party (even its left wing) could learn a lot from.

    Those Tories signing up to vote for Corbyn should be ashamed of themselves for deliberately sabotaging democracy, the health of which requires an energetic opposition.

    As to Labour MPs nominating Corbyn, that’s fine if they genuinely back him. I profoundly disagree, but certainly would never question their democratic right to do so. However, those Labour MPs who have no intention of voting for Corbyn but nominated him anyway are [as the Marxists would say] ‘objectively’ no different from Tories4Corbyn. They must be ruing their decision now….

  4. Forlornehope says:

    When Simon Walters asked her about her weight she showed just why she is not an effective politician. Instead of having a hissy-fit, she should have taken the opportunity to make important points about the impact of pressures about body-image on young women and girls, about the obesity crisis and the need for sensible measures on diet and exercise if the effect on the NHS is not to be a disaster. And, by the way, Walter had asked Osborne about his weight and he made sensible points about having seen his doctor about the need to lose some and how he had gone on Michael Mosley’s “Fast Diet” to good effect, thereby providing a bit of useful leadership by example. So, no, Liz is not yet ready to lead a major political party and is certainly not ready to be a potential PM – she doesn’t have the skills.

  5. Timmy says:

    I went to a Tory open primary in 2009 and voted twice for the least plausible candidate. Likewise I have no problem with Tories voting for Corbyn, because they are acting within the rules. Those who nominated him however, I think are complete fools.

  6. Madasafish says:

    Philip Hall said ” Those Tories signing up to vote for Corbyn should be ashamed of themselves for deliberately sabotaging democracy, the health of which requires an energetic opposition.”

    Well I do agree we need an effective opposition.. But how effective can it be when the people setting the rules for the contest should have forseen that that? After all, they said anyone could vote if they paid £3…

    If you cannot see your opponents might use that as an opportunity to screw you – and you have LOTS of time when in Opposition to think – what are you going to be like in Government when you often have extreme time pressures?

    So my view is : blame the stupidity of those who drew up the rules.. Conservatives voting for Corbyn are following them.. That is not ” sabotaging democracy”..

  7. Tafia says:

    The tories couldn’t give a toss about Liz Kendall. She will be ritually & publicly humiliated in the leadership election and disappear to irrelevance from whence she came.

    To be frank, I doubt any of the 4 bother the tories that much. The best one is unelectable and the other three are cheap rubbish.

  8. Tafia says:

    Those Tories signing up to vote for Corbyn should be ashamed of themselves for deliberately sabotaging democracy,

    On the contrary, they are taking full and active part and exercising their right to vote. Labour must have been drinking meths when they decided to allow non-members/non-affiliates to vote..

    If you design a voting system that can be manipulated then it will be manipulated and you wo.uld have to be suffering some sort of mental illness to think otherwise. You only have to look at the shambles of postal voting and the south asian communities

  9. john P Reid says:

    Tafia, if Kendall won they’d be worried,I can recall my relief that Cameron won,insted of Davis, as he was compaetent and wouldn’t have split the right vote that at the time as going Ukip,

    yet cameron managed to pull the centre cote to win in 2015,which i can’t have seen davis doing

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