Who’s Backing Who: Wednesday Morning State of Play

Good morning. Six of the eight remaining Tory leadership candidates face an uphill battle throughout the day, as they attempt to reach the 30-MP threshold required in the first knockout round of the contest at 6pm. Rishi now has 48 backers, meaning he can basically sit back and relax for at least the next two rounds, though that hasn’t stopped him adding Steve Barclay to his list of supporters this morning. Penny Mordaunt also has the 30 required. The other six, not so much…

All eyes are on Jeremy Hunt and Suella Braverman as the ones most likely not make it, though one of Hunt’s backers told Guido last night they believe they have the requisite support. They also described rumours that Gavin Williamson is instructing Rishi backers to temporarily support other candidates like Hunt and Kemi, so Rishi doesn’t have to face Liz in the final two, as utter rubbish, though members of other campaign teams believe it is absolutely happening. With Sajid, Shapps and Priti now out of the race, there are 30 newly floating MPs up for grabs…

News overnight includes a policy-light interview with Rishi in The Telegraph, who’s trying to get the press back onside after yesterday’s scenes at his campaign launch. He says he’ll run the economy like Thatcher if he wins. Tom Tugendhat committed to spending 3% of GDP on defence last night.  Penny has used a Times op-ed to commit to supporting families as PM. Stay tuned for her campaign launch at 10.30 this morning…

On Guido’s spreadsheet, you will now see two tabs – one for everything that happened up until yesterday at 6 pm, including Sajid, Shapps, Priti and Chishti (again, why?); and another for today. Unfortunately we’re now up to the stages of having to fill in ‘undeclared backers’, as we know, for example, Suella Braverman has 20 backers, however just 13 have publicly declared. You’ll also note the threshold line has been lowered by one – from now on candidates can also vote for themselves…

See the spreadsheet in full here

mdi-timer 13 July 2022 @ 07:45 13 Jul 2022 @ 07:45 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Kemi, Rishi & Tom Campaign Launch Reports

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…

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3 Candidates Already Pass 20 Nominations Threshold

20 nominations seems a fair threshold, with 150 or so undeclared MPs still to be revealed, Guido suspects we’ll have half-a-dozen or so candidates pass the threshold.

The public backers in full can be found here:

mdi-timer 11 July 2022 @ 20:07 11 Jul 2022 @ 20:07 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
WATCH: Badenoch Slams Online Safety Bill, Promises to Champion Free Speech

Kemi Badenoch is hitting the ground running in the leadership contest. She’s just wrapped up her first big speech since announcing her campaign, appearing in front of overheating hacks, MPs and politicos at Riverside Advisory’s “Parliamentary Event in Support of Freedom of Expression”An event which she was already scheduled to appear at even before she decided to make a run for the top job: “now that I’m not a Minister, my speech has changed slightly…”

Inevitably Badenoch was keen to flesh out her free speech bona fides:

Free speech is no longer something we can take for granted as a commonly shared value… and this shift in attitudes has [led]there have been many incidents in universities of events disrupted […] because their views are too controversial… The second bit you often hear is that the debate on free speech is a conspiracy whipped up to spark a culture war, or it’s a cover for bigoted middle-aged white men to spout politically incorrect nonsense. Well I’m not middle aged, I’m not white, and I’m not a man…”

With that, someone in the audience quipped “are you sure?”, to which a grinning Badenoch fired back “I’m sure. I’m a woman. I know what a woman is.” Unanimous cheers for that one…

For the avoidance of doubt, Badenoch also made it clear she won’t support the Online Safety Bill, at least in its current form:

“It is wrong and dangerous to limit free speech… the Online Safety Bill is going to have some serious implications for free speech. I have supported the government in every single bill since becoming an MP. I’m not going to be supporting it this week in its present form.”

Not quite a promise to scrap it entirely… yet. Still, a strong opening pitch. Badenoch is the candidate Labour would most struggle to fight against…

mdi-timer 11 July 2022 @ 14:30 11 Jul 2022 @ 14:30 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Truss is Latest Candidate with Campaign Video Headaches

Candidates’ attempts at slick, internet campaign videos during this campaign are not going well. On Friday, Rishi’s video was deemed so slick and high quality that there was no way it had been put together in the two days since his resignation. There were also allegations he’d used footage of a US Southampton roadsign instead of a British one, an awkward blunder given his green card revelations a few months ago. To be fair to him he’s now had over 8 million views on the video – twice that of a Love Island episode…

Then Penny Mordaunt came out with her production attempt, which as well as resembling a Day Today sketch suffered from the oversight of including footage of convicted murderer Oscar Pistorius and had to be re-edited after an anti-Tory Paralympian noticed footage of himself had been included, asking for it to be removed.

Sajid says he hasn’t had time to make a video, so is re-using his 2019 content. It’s a good video, though speaks to how slow he’s been getting off the blocks during this campaign. Tom Tugendhat has a video out this morning, which would be considered tonally too depressing for a funeral eulogy, and Shapps has a 19-second video out promising Tory MPs he can win them their seats.

Then Truss came out with a very good video, second only to Rishi’s in quality, however is now being dogged by accusations they’ve used FCDO footage – shot by a civil servant, Robert Midgley, on taxpayer-funded cameras – for party political purposes. Now her team’s spinning that Jeremy Hunt did the same in 2019 without any blob briefings against him. A fair point, though these videos seem to be causing more trouble than they’re worth…

UPDATE: Hunt’s camp pushes back on team Truss’s spinning, telling Guido that Hunt’s 2019 footage was all bought and paid for…

mdi-timer 11 July 2022 @ 12:30 11 Jul 2022 @ 12:30 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Campaign Logos Show Who Had Time to Prepare Campaign

Guido’s had a quick look around the leadership campaigns social media for logos and campaign graphics. Judge for yourself the graphic design efforts above. Kemi doesn’t appear to have anyone on her team who has access to Photoshop – yet. Shapps, Penny and Nadhim have grabbed the flag in their logos. Liz and Jeremy too, with better design values. Suella and Saj’s logos are looking austere…

Tom Tugendhat has a whole advertising campaign running on ConservativeHome this morning. Other websites are available….

mdi-timer 11 July 2022 @ 10:59 11 Jul 2022 @ 10:59 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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