Kemi, Rishi & Tom Campaign Launch Reports mdi-fullscreen

Kemi gave a solid speech, which started out with her saying it’s time for politicians to tell the truth that “People can’t ‘have their cake and eat it too’” and that there were no free lunches. She set out an agenda of free markets and realism. She emphasised her engineering background and her problem solving systems thinking approach to government. She did not promise easy tax cuts – instead claiming the state would have to be slimmed down to achieve them later. On the big question mark of experience, her line was “Some might say it is ‘no time for novices’, I say it is no time for a steady decline, it is time for change.” Kemi took three questions from the press, and her team will be pleased she didn’t fall into any traps.

Michael Gove was enthusiastically applauding Kemi from the back of the room. Such is Gove’s reputation for Machiavellian behaviour the rumour doing the rounds is that he is going to back RIshi and his job on Kemi’s team is to help split the right’s vote between Liz Truss and Kemi Badenoch, bringing about a Penny versus Rishi vote for the membership that Rishi wins. Don’t blame Guido for reporting the rumour…

Rishi’s campaign launch was short, sweet and, as usual, directed and produced as tightly as possible. His introduction speech by new star backer Dominic Raab was undeniably a coup for the frontrunner candidate being painted as some sort of remainer centrist by his rivals. Grant Shapps sitting in the front row was also well-timed, although shortly into Rishi’s speech one of Shapps’s eight MP backers, Mark Pritchard, decided against following his boss to the Rishi tent, instead declaring for Liz Truss.

The speech itself was brief; Sunak started after Tom Tugendhat and had concluded questions before Tom’s speech had wrapped up. Sunak’s speech briefly touched on defence and the environment – Guido believes he’s the first candidate to do so – and, as expected, said tax cuts are a question of ‘when, not if’.

There were two interesting moments: Sunak’s eulogy for Boris, which has only succeeded in making his opponents even more sceptical about his sincerity, and his point blank denial of any communication with, or involvement in the campaign by, Dominic Cummings.

Unfortunately for Rishi, such are the egos in the Lobby the main takeaway by hacks seems to be his unwillingness to take questions, nor allowing Sky to turn the event in the ‘Beth Rigby Show. Her two questions – which lasted almost as long as Raab’s introductory speech – ended up being booed (or groaned at) by the crowd…

Meanwhile over in Millbank, a po-faced Tom Tugendhat delivered a solemn sermon on the economy, energy, and Brexit. The echo in the room was so strong it sounded like he was launching his campaign from a cathedral.  Following a brief intro from his big backer Anne Marie Trevelyan, Tugendhat began by lamenting the Tories’ “retreat into division” and the urgent need for “a clean start” – a phrase which appeared seven times in the speech…

Even so, Tom was far more policy focused than Rishi: explicit promises on cutting fuel duty by 10p a litre, reversing the National Insurance rise, cutting EU red tape to free up £100 billion, investing in nuclear energy, creating “Institutes of Technology across every major town and city of the UK“, and reintroducing 4 hour mandatory A&E and referrals targets for the NHS. Most of this was wrapped up in his “10 year plan for growth”. Like many sermons Guido thought it went on a bit too long. Military metaphors peppered the speech – “tax cuts cannot be the only round in the magazine” – in case anyone forgot he’s an army man.

Like Rishi, Tugendhat didn’t stick around to answer many questions; just two from broadcasters… and that’s it. The BBC asked if he was really angling for a top Cabinet job from the eventual winner – Foreign Secretary, maybe? – to which Tom shot down with:

“I did not enter this race for any other purpose than to champion the values that I stand on and to lead the country that I love. That is why I am here. This is not a compromise position, this is not a negotiating strategy.”

At ease, solider…

mdi-tag-outline Campaign Report Tory Leadership 2022
mdi-account-multiple-outline Kemi Badenoch Rishi Sunak Tom Tugendhat
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