The Conservative party is seeking a new face to lead us down the wrong path, says Guardian columnist Marina Hyde
Theres a photo from Pompeii thats been doing the internet rounds a while, showing the plaster cast of a naked man. He appears to have died masturbating, even as he must have known the Vesuvian ash-cloud was approaching. Did he? Science says its a bit more complicated than that but science isnt important right now, because in every psychological aspect, that guy is the Conservative party. No matter what holy terror was raining down upon our land, no matter what the peril, the Conservative party would always decide to crack out a leadership contest.
And so, inevitably, to the situation in which we find ourselves at this moment of national crisis, with Theresa May having agreed to depart. The mad bastards of the Tory party are at it again, in a competition you should think of as Mastershit: The Professionals. I collect the full range of Franklin Mint commemorative crockery for every Tory leadership battle. So if you need a vignette to remind you how the last one unfolded, there was one day when Andrea Leadsom went so fully Handmaids Tale on May in an interview for the Times that the paper was only able to give a side column to fellow contender Stephen Crabb being a sex case.
Without further ado, then, lets take a look at the few potential runners and riders. These are in no particular order, but were starting with Liam Fox on the basis that hes been a candidate in every Conservative leadership contest since 1872. Liam Fox is the bowl of carrot sticks on the table at your childs birthday party. Why bother to even put it out, given that you know no one likes it, wants it, or ever eats it? Unclear; but you do it every time. Afterwards, you sigh: Oh well, its something to go with that chicken, I suppose, or make it foreign secretary.
Next: treacherys Michael Gove. Michael is one of those politicians who we keep being told are indicating their prime ministerial readiness by going for a run. The same was being said of Jeremy Corbyn this week, whos apparently in training for power with 15km runs. Whats that got to do with the price of rice? Mo Farah might as well prepare for races by taking a coherent Brexit position.
Elsewhere in the field, its incredible that LET MY PEOPLE GO was not even Boris Johnsons maddest Telegraph column this week. Heres a more recent one: This was the Friday when Charles Moores retainers were meant to be weaving through the moonlit lanes of Sussex, half blind with scrumpy, singing Brexit shanties at the tops of their voices and beating the hedgerows with staves. If Westminster was Gotham, Johnson would be in Arkham Asylum.
Moving on, Amber Rudd might as well run for leadership of the Jedi High Council, so lets proceed to Dominic Raab the man with the slightly frightened child in his eyes. As I type this, Dominic is now voting for the deal he resigned to oppose, having negotiated that deal in the first place. He spent most of the week reckoning we should go back to the EU over the backstop, I mean Dominic? DOMINIC? Its now not so much that that ship has sailed, more that it has sailed, hit an iceberg, sunk, and formed the basis for a myriad books and dramas, culminating in the biggest-grossing movie of all time. WHICH BIT OF THIS JOURNEY DID YOU MISS? You were Brexit secretary. You were literally on deck with Michel Barnier while the band was playing.
Next up: the Saj. I havent suited up, so I cant dive fully into the matter of the 120,000 or so Conservative members who form the electorate for this competition, whom social attitude surveys reveal to be vastly out of kilter with the members of all other political parties and the electorate as a whole. Suffice to say Sajid Javid might feel he has to be twice as artless about Asian paedophiles, and twice as morally weak over the fate of Isis Vicky Pollard just to get them to consider him. His conference speech barely half-filled the hall. Members wont have liked the 1,700-a-night luxury safari holiday he was summoned back from at Christmas, but the unconscionable death of an infant British citizen in a refugee camp will doubtless be viewed as a plus.
On a sunnier note, weve already covered Andrea Leadsoms lavish qualifications for the job, but Brexits Oxo mum has recently snazzed up her act with a series of Sandy-from-Grease leather jackets. Andrea used to love John Travolta, until she heard some things.
Onwards, then, to Jeremy Hunt. Every Tory member will have read Moneyball like six times, so theyll know the folly of picking someone simply on the basis they look like a prime minister, much in the way that you go wrong if you pick baseball players who simply look like ballplayers. Deeper analysis of Jeremys on-base percentage shows that he is loathed only by people who have had any contact, at all, at any level, with the health service of which he was in charge for six years.
Given his former permanent secretary at Dexeu judged that David Davis could hardly be bothered to go to Brussels, I can hardly be bothered to assess his chances. In any case, I defer to the late great Simon Hoggart, who characterised Daviss decades-ago stint in the territorial SAS as strangling the Queens enemies with piano-wire, but only at weekends.
What about Matt Hancock? Look, Matt Hancock strikes me as the sort of nice-enough chap whod wander into the middle of some Westeros power-play and go: Guys, Im sure theres a more positive way we could sort this out. If anyone finds a way to identify dragon-incinerated remains, please could they contact the Department of Health.
Ditto Gavin Williamson, described in the Mail this week as possessing matinee-idol good looks. Which matinee? The teenage star of Dude, Wheres My Frigate?, Gavin was spat out by the Hollywood dream factory and forced to make his way as a fireplace salesman. Since becoming defence secretary, he has attempted to start beef with Russia (twice), China, Spain, and his mate Dan in a game of Call of Duty: Black Ops. Definitely vote for him if you like guys who describe other guys as bloody good news.
Whos next? I feel like I always want to know less about Liz Truss, whose Instagram account indicates a belief she is some kind of Tory influencer. As for David Lidington, I have had three children but I have never found out what exactly a cervix is. It just sounded like something gross I wouldnt want to know about. Same with a David Lidington. Sorry, but no. Indeed, now I have found out about David Lidingtons views on my reproductive organs, the decision feels doubly vindicated.
Alas, thats all weve got room for. But there are more so many more, and there always will be. As the de facto show motto goes: When you play the Game of Thrones, you win, then you get fucked by Europe. Set your sights on adventure, and prepare for season 80.
Marina Hyde is a Guardian columnist
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