It was a turgid affair, last night’s face off between five of the remaining six candidates for Tory leader (Boris being empty lecturned), with a chippy Krishnan Guru-Murray corralling the thing. I would not have watched the whole programme were I not the massive geek that I am; however, I cannot remember a similar programme being so devoid of actual entertainment value on any level.
I’ll take a diversion here to explain why liberals and even some lefties like Rory Stewart. It’s very, very simple: he’s the only one of the candidates at any point in the contest to not be crap, under-experienced, lying through their teeth or insane (I’ll make a partial exception here for Gove, but even he isn’t being upfront about Brexit). It isn’t that people who aren’t Tories love Rory Stewart so much as they recognise he’s the only one who looks and sounds in any way like a prime minister. Even if you disagree with some or even a lot of his ideas, at least he has some.
I thought Hunt and Javid were awful and don’t understand why any political pundits can’t see that. Javid managed to get off a few nice soundbites, but overall he was stiff and boring, doing nothing to ameliorate the perception that he is too much like a corporate boss to be a political leader. Hunt looked like he had already thrown in the towel – he was that half-arsed. Raab appeared confident on Brexit since he was the only one besides Stewart not trying to obscure what he actually has in mind – in Raab’s case a Daenerys Targaryen Brexit, just burning it all down and seeing what’s still left amongst the smouldering ruins. His spats with Stewart were the only genuinely interesting to a non-geek moments in all of the debate – Raab vs Stewart is the crux of the Brexit conversation on the Leave side. Essentially it’s either you go with the deal on the table or you jump into no deal oblivion. Any other option (other than just , you know, saying it was a bad idea and staying) is a fantasy.
Yet after they moved on from Brexit, Raab had nothing of substance to say. He is recycling old Tory manifesto ideas as if they are the makings of a revolution – and not sounding like even he really believes in them much.