The Conservative Leadership Contest

While the rest of us have been distracted by the Labour leadership mess, it’s easy to forget that the eventual winner won’t be running against David Cameron. Cameron has already committed to standing down before the next election. This week the Conservative power struggle started.


Everything kicked off as Boris Johnson’s supporters claimed that ‘allies’ of George Osborne and Theresa May have been trying to ‘humiliate’ Johnson and prematurely end all chances of him being Prime Minister. Those involved have supposedly been acting with the support of David Cameron.


Already Conservatives believe that cabinet members are briefing against each other (although New Labour started doing that 5 years sooner). There seems to be little evidence that any briefing against Johnson so far has caused any real damage, and Osborne’s veiled taunts in the budget speech (regarding Heathrow) went largely unnoticed.


The most substantial development impacts the field far more. Renegotiating Britain’s relationship with Europe technically falls within the Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, but George Osborne’s managed to get himself ‘special responsibility’ for the renegotiations.


This does Osborne a lot of good, as (assuming renegotiations are successful) he’ll be able to take the credit. More importantly, it does Hammond a lot of harm. Not only will he now take second fiddle to Osborne in the biggest potential PR coup in this parliament, he’s seemingly being marginalised by his cabinet colleagues. It seems Hammond’s took the first major blow.


Unlike the Labour leadership, we don’t know when this will be decided. Prepare yourself for more Machiavellian obscurity, vague analysis, and wild speculation. Unlike New Labour, not only do we know when Cameron will go, we don’t yet have a clue who’ll follow him.