Life after Johnson: Who will lead the Tories into the 2024 Election? – Liberal Article
The next general election is three years away. Like most, people are speculating that Johnson will not continue to the election. Whether or not you think he has done well, COVID-19 has taken its toll on him. With a cabinet shuffle expected this summer, delayed from last year, what strategy and who should lead the Conservatives to success in 2024?
Firstly, you would be a fool to say Starmer does not have a chance of winning in 2024. Labour has an awfully long way to go before they are back to full strength, but that could come in 2024. Starmer continually gets under Johnson’s skin, dominating him in Parliament. Although there are evident growing pains that will leave scars, as Corbynits are purged from the party, I can see them being in a strong position in 2024.
So, whoever does take over, has to learn from Starmer. There must be no purge of Brexiteers. Although most reading this will disagree with this, the Tories cannot carry the same scars as Labour and also alienate their Brexit support base. Certainly, evolve from them, but do not purge them from the party.
With the Brexiteer base secure, as it will be for the next 10 to 20 years, a new face needs to come to the front of the Conservatives. Unstained by the shambles of the COVID-19 response, centre enough to challenge Starmer for the middle class, but be aware of the Brexit base.
Scenario One – Rishi Sunak, Johnson leaves immediately post-pandemic
I could leave it there for Rishi. No list would be complete without him and everyone would agree he is a firm choice for the Conservative party. If Boris steps down immediately post-pandemic, Sunak is possibly the only candidate. Rishi has a 74.6% satisfaction rate in December in the Conservative party, a time when was perhaps his most unpopular.
He is cool, calmed, collected and charismatic. Charisma is perhaps is his weakest trait, but after Boris, perhaps this is a good thing? A return to professional yet fiery debate which would be easily seen between him and Starmer would be a refreshing sight in the commons.
Rishi has one problem, and that is time. Post-COVID -19, austerity will be coming back with a vengeance. His policies to hand out money in furlough schemes and eat out to help out were extremely popular… within reason. However, when he has to unavoidably start paying back loans, his policies could see him drop very fast off the pedal stool.
Scenario Two – Alex Chalk, Johnson leaves just before 2024
My admiration for Alex Chalk is no secret. It is not the first time nor the last time I will back Mr Chalk to run for leadership in the near future. A very centre candidate who still manages to find favour with Brexiteer voters. Some of you may never have heard of Alex Chalk, so I will give you a short summary of him.
He is MP for Cheltenham, one of the closest seats in the UK. The Liberal Democrats have tried desperately to take the seat, and as close as it may get, mainly due to the extremely high anti-Brexit sentiment in the area, Alex Chalk has always won. This is down to him being fantastically calm and the personal persona that he presents; it is well and truly internalized and appreciated by his voters. A large amount of Cheltenham votes blue because of him. His friendly and personal Rory Stewart style of approach to social media again builds to this.
He has also done an impressive job of not being dragged down by the COVID-19 shambles. Boasting the highest amount of vaccines given to Gloucestershire residences.
In 2020, his talents were recognised by Johnson and he was invited into the cabinet as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Ministry of Justice and Assistant Government Whip. In his short time, he introduced a new led a new ‘Domestic Abuse Bill’, modernising Domestic abuse law in the UK. It notably banned the ‘rough sex’ excuse and the bill was supported by Labour.
His one notable flaw is he needs time. He may not be ready yet, but I expect he will be brought into a more senior role at the next reshuffle. If he is given three years to show his talent in the cabinet, he will almost certainly give Rishi a run for his money.
Scenario Three – Liz Truss, the safe bet
I think that Rishi or Alex are firm choices. However, I feel Liz Truss deserves an honourable mention. She is one of the few ‘old regime’ that made it into Boris’ cabinet. A remainder who has embraced that Brexit has happened and is here to stay. Not only that, she is the most popular minister for Conservative voters at the moment.
A former Liberal Democrat at University, she has shed her centrist roots a little, moving towards the right. However, she proves a nice balance between the centre and the right in the Conservative party. Although I believe she is not the strongest candidate, it will not be us choosing her, it is the Conservative party, and at the moment she is their most popular minister.
Written by Senior Liberal Writer, Max Anderson
Point of Information
My Pick is Our Prime Minister – A Conservative Response
Initially, I would very much like to echo Max’s initial point for ‘Labour 2024’ chances: they have a very, very strong opportunity.
The pandemic has already been highly politicised and will certainly continue to be; in terms of making an incumbent look bad, COVID has been a gift for any opposition. The only saving grace will be that it has happened right at the start of Johnson’s tenure. As we have all learned recently, it’s impossible to project one year into the future, never mind three.
Let’s turn to the leader.
A glowing review from my Liberal colleague, and with good reason. An incredibly competent professional, the positive impact he has made on the COVID response is hard to understate.
But I must agree with the final point Max made. I cannot possibly see how, at present, Rishi could be leader in 2024. We have forked out eye-wateringly large sums over the past year (for very good reason) and this must be repaid. This means cuts, and this means the tory party being known as ‘the nasty party’ again. The face of this? Chancellor Sunak.
I’ll be honest, I do not know much about Alex Chalk. I’m not sure how many others outside of Cheltenham do, either.
Perhaps, this may be the start of a trajectory that takes him to #10, but I cannot see that trajectory putting him there in 2024.
Of the three, Truss might just be the best option.
Painted as “waging war on woke”, I think she may prove to be a very popular candidate with the general public. Furthermore, coming from a left-wing background, she may be able to take some of those erring between red & blue, under her umbrella.
Not only that but she also highly capable. Her work as International Trade Secretary has not gone unnoticed.
Although I have very little time for the majority of the ’woke’ agenda, I think her stance maybe her undoing (right now). She may be very popular with the public, but she may be a risk too far for the levers within Whitehall. I’m not sure they have the stomach.
I am afraid that I am going to be boring: my pick is the Prime Minister.
The PR machine of the state will start to purr with the (hopefully) good news of the British vaccination effort, that is some months ahead of most others. The news cycles of 2021 will still be dominated by COVID, but I think these cycles are ones that Johnson & Co. may relish.
If the PM can compound this with some post-Brexit economic success — and, perhaps, put off the fiscal recoup until after the 2024 election — the ship may just steady to an even keel.
Even keel or not, my money is on Labour.
Written by Cheif Conservative Writer, Alexander Dennis
2024 is a World Away – A Labour Response
This article makes some strong points. I agree that Starmer certainly has a chance in 2024, but his record so far makes a Labour majority seem unlikely. And part of this is down to his inability to unite the party. Instead, Starmer has taken a divide and conquer approach. The ‘purging’ of Corbynites has already resulted in a funding crisis for Starmer’s labour.
Despite the launch of ‘charm offensive to win back wealthy donors’, private individuals contributed only around £200,000 since April 2020. This is small in comparison to Corbyn’s first 244 days in charge, where the Labour Party received £5.1 million from trade unions alone. If this trend continues, Labour finances could be in serious trouble by 2024, a direct result of the alienation of trade unions and Labour’s core membership under Starmer. Notably, Unite has not donated to Labour since Starmer became leader. Thus, Starmer must either attempt to win back some of Labour’s core or instead do better at wooing big business.
In my opinion, 2024 is too far away to make any guesses about Johnson’s successor. However, I agree that Sunak’s future is troubled. Despite Eat Out To Help Out’s success at the time, many will now perceive the policy as short-sighted, given the enormity of the second wave. Equally, some of Sunak’s proposed tax hikes have already faced bitter criticism.
Written by Guest Labour Writer, Brian Byrne