It beggars belief that Penny Mordaunt, the Queen of Woke, is odds-on favourite to win the Conservative leadership contest and become the next prime minister. The country needs her like a shot in the head. Apart from an impressively bouffant hairdo in the best Thatcherite tradition, a photogenic smile, and the obligatory reference to unfunded tax cuts, the qualities and achievements that would qualify her for the top job seem thin on the ground.
Two of her ex-bosses have damned her as incompetent, as simply not up to the job – including Lord Frost, for whom she deputised in last year’s Brexit negotiations. Now she is in trouble over her views on transgenderism, having declared, when women and equalities minister, that she was ‘in complete solidarity with the trans community’.
Mordaunt has responded by saying she is ‘going to stay focused on the things that matter to the public’. Now, where have we heard that line before? Far more worrying are the views she expressed in her book Greater: Britain After the Storm. Her agenda, apparently (I am grateful to Sam Ashworth-Hayes of the Spectator for having read the book), is that Britain needs ‘modernising’.
We should, argues Mordaunt (prepare to hold your nose), be proud of ‘the NHS, the countryside, diversity, pubs, the armed forces and the BBC’. Our problem is that our current leaders come from ‘a heterosexual, white, Christian, Western-orientated world’ where ‘there was no mansplaining. No white privilege. No colonial historiography.’
Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation explained ‘how superior Oxford-educated British middle-aged white men were’. Britain still lacks ‘an offence of stirring up hatred on the grounds of transgender identity’. And she slams much-loved classic comedy shows, like Hi-di-Hi!, Dad’s Army and It Ain’t Half Hot Mum. The latter is described as ‘a full-house bingo card of … casual racism, homophobia, white privilege, colonialism, transphobia, bullying, misogyny and sexual harassment’ (odd as I do not recall there being any women in the show).
Mordaunt, it seems, is a liberal democrat on steroids, who happens to favour tax cuts. That she commands such popularity among her fellow Conservative MPs speaks volumes about the modern Conservative Party.
However, there is still hope. The star of Friday’s televised Conservative Leadership Debate was the rank outsider, Kemi Badenoch. Unlike her rivals, she came across as straight-talking, genuinely conservative (that is, socially conservative), and refreshingly unrehearsed. Asked if Boris Johnson told the truth, she cheekily replied ‘sometimes’, and the audience laughed.
After hearing the other candidates declare that their loyalty had been to the prime minister, she declared that she would choose her cabinet, not on grounds of loyalty, but talent. Badenoch is well-known for her anti-woke credentials, for believing people should be judged as individuals, not by their colour or race. She is also the only candidate to draw the link between family values (she has a husband and 3 children), housing, and immigration – issues that none of the others dare touch. She wrote in her recent Telegraph pitch, ‘Building confidence in the Government’s ability to control immigration is an important foundation for ensuring a cohesive society’.
In interviews, she comes across as articulate, highly intelligent, and engaging, one of those rare politicians who has no need to resort to stock platitudes but can answer any question head on. Her intellectual hero is the great Thomas Sowell. I notice she has the support of Michael Gove, Charles Moore, Rod Liddle and Trevor Kavanagh of The Sun, who writes that ‘she is Labour’s worst nightmare’.
These are people who know the score. Something is definitely afoot. Let the battle commence!