Posts Tagged ‘leadership plots’

Adam Afriyie. Who?

28/01/2013, 02:57:56 PM

by Kevin Meagher

What does Tory backbencher Adam Afriyie think we should be doing to boost the economy, reform public services and deal with Iran’s nuclear ambitions?

Until I read yesterday’s newspapers, the thought to ask had never crossed my mind, but judging by yesterday’s Sunday Times it’s clear the MP for Windsor is the coming man; the saviour of a post-defeat Conservative party. A future prime minister. “Black MP is hot tip to be next Tory leader” ran the headline. I searched in vain in the subsequent story, (as bemused Tory MPs may have), for any indication of what Mr. Afriyie thinks, well, about anything.

Nevertheless, the paper reports “a secret operation is underway” to propel him to the party leadership. More than 100 Tory MPs have been approached to this end. A “friend” of Mr Afriyie explains that his cadre of backers are “very concerned” about the long-term direction of the party and believe that Afriyie is the best man to succeed David Cameron. “He has a fantastic back story and is very impressive.”

I admit to knowing the name and knew a bit of his biography, but to be honest I had quite forgotten Afriyie was there. He’s pretty low profile, but that’s not really an excuse as he’s been in parliament since 2005. Brutally, I assumed he had missed his mark and like Archie Norman and other business people who realise too late that the rough and tumble of Westminster is not their bag, led a quiet life before, inevitably, shuffling off back to business.

How wrong I was. What I did learn is that Afriyie is very rich and has a gang of eight fellow MPs pursuing his cause among Tory backbenchers in the expectation (hope?) that David Cameron will blow it in 2015.

I wrote last week that Cameron gives some of his troops the belief that he is weak and vacillating because he understands the compromises that are needed to make a coalition work. But within his own party he should be assured of more loyalty than he is clearly getting. A Thatcher, Blair or even a Brown would not be so sanguine about a well-heeled upstart flesh-pressing the backbenchers to build his on powerbase on the assumption of defeat for the party.

Where was the counter-briefing to knock holes in the Afriyie veneer once it became clear the Sundays were running with this story? Did Downing street do nothing to prick the bubble of arrant pomposity surrounding him with a pair of clod-hopping size 12s?


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