Esther McVey is positioning herself as the most ‘authentic’ Brexit candidate in the Tory leadership race, she’s gone even further than Dominic Raab in actively advocating a no deal Brexit as her preferred option. She’s also set out robust positions on spending aid cash on police and schools and scrapping HS2 in favour of investing in the North and the regions. Combined with her blue collar Tory credentials as a Barnado’s girl from Liverpool, could a different “blonde bombshell” wrongfoot the frontrunners?
Team McVey is a blue collar affair and a youthful one too. James Roberts, a former CTF operative and now Political Director at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, is doing strategy while Tory candidate Clark Vasey, who runs corporate affairs for Fujitsu, is working on policy. Brexiteer spinner Ed Barker is doing her comms, although McVey will be hoping his previous career as a saxophonist for George Michael doesn’t lead to any careless whispers on the campaign trail. Dan O’Neill, former aide to Richard Tice and Michael Fallon, is in charge of the digital side of the campaign. He’s also a saxophonist, will they be tempted to start a band?
McVey is also receiving informal advice from former senior journalist turned PR guru Ian Monk, as well as former Tory MP David Nuttall and of course her famous First Fiancé Philip Davies. Former Tory Vice Chair for youth Ben Bradley is leading her Parliamentary operation. She’s got five MPs publicly backing her at the moment including Remainer Gary Streeter – despite her Brexit position. Can her blue collar agenda reach out further beyond her Brexiteer base?
Social media support: MakeWay4McVey has a great name but only 284 followers and questionable proofreading skills, McVey herself has 34.3k followers on Twitter, she’s new to Instagram but has already got 164 followers in under 24 hours. No sign of a Facebook page…
Mainstream media support: The Telegraph has run a number of supportive op-eds although no major endorsements as of yet.
ConservativeHome members survey: 3.1% (7th)
YouGov public recognition: not yet included
William Hill odds: 50/1 (14th)
The TaxPayers’ Alliance is joining the think tank revival and ramping up its presence in Westminster with two new hires this afternoon. Lynton Crosby protege James Roberts will join as Political Director from CTF. His job will be to make sure the TPA’s campaigning on the ground is reaching the corridors of power. He’s already in with plenty of MPs.
Also coming on board is Phil Basey as Editorial Director. Basey was responsible for whipping the UKIP 2015 manifesto into shape – he will be overseeing the research team. The TPA has been doing well recently, with Chloe Westley emerging as a rising star on Question Time and James Price touring the studios fighting for taxpayers. At a time when the statist Tories in Number 10 are backing new taxes, the TPA’s voice is more needed than ever…