Tom Tugendhat is giving a speech today about foreign policy. For those of you who do not know, Tugendhat is a Tory MP, elected at the 2015 general election. He is also chair of the Foreign Affairs select committee. It is a strange time for select committees in that they are staffed with a greater proportion of talent than would usually be the case, all because both the PM and the leader of the opposition have their own reasons for not recruiting the best talent to their front benches.
In the bits trailed to the press, Tugendhat will criticise the way the FCO has been treated during May’s premiership, with remarks that implicitly critique the way Brexit has been handled. It’s all cleverly worded (at least, the bits given to the press already are), but there is no way around the implication that Tugendhat thinks the government has dealt with a great deal of things over the past couple of years in a manner which has been a bit lacking. I expect to see several of these types of speeches over the next six months. The reason for this being, May has notably failed to promote any of the real up and comers within the parliamentary Conservative Party to ministerial positions. Thus, you will get a lot of “pissing outside the tent in” as the saying goes.
This was not only avoidable on May’s part, promoting more rising stars to ministerial positions would have been doubly good for the Conservative Party as a whole by blooding more possible future leaders. There are several reasons offered for why May has avoided doing this. One is that she is just totally clueless on this front, and none of this even occurred to her at any point. While tempting, I doubt this is the case. Much more likely is that she is scared of being usurped by one of these upstarts. This suggests May really is suffering under the delusion that she can face another general election, but I’m more and more inclined to believe she is indeed entertaining this fantasy anyhow.
If that is the case, what she hasn’t figured out is that while these MPs may be in far less of a position to become the next prime minister given her desire to avoid promoting them into government, what it does allow them is freedom to roam. They can say what they like knowing May will almost certainly never give them a ministerial role, and instead they can get their ducks in a row for the inevitable day when the entire Conservative Party attempts to pin every problem they face on May’s poor leadership. Ah, I can see the problem now: May hasn’t factored in this day coming, of course.
In the meantime, enjoy many a speech from Tory MPs about how and why the government is getting things wrong and how to turn it all around. You have to get your kicks in politics somehow these days.