No Contest of Ideas

Talal Hangari and Tom Zundel

July 23, 2022

The race is on. Boris Johnson didn’t even have time to resign before the first Cabinet minister had declared their candidacy for the leadership of the Conservative Party. Although the race has now been reduced to two, with Rishi Sunak, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Liz Truss, Foreign Secretary, facing a ballot of Conservative Party members, the number of declared candidates with MPs backing them has been as high as ten.

On the right of the party, Suella Braverman, Nadhim Zahawi, Kemi Badenoch, and Truss fought it out to claim the title of ultra-reactionary whilst the Tory ‘left’, featuring Jeremy Hunt, Tom Tugendhat, Sajid Javid, and Grant Shapps has been just as densely occupied. ‘Moderates’ within the party have mostly been split between Sunak and Penny Mordaunt, the third-placed candidate who has seen considerable support amongst parliamentary colleagues and the wider membership. The commitments made by those standing have highlighted the influence of old-style Thatcherism and an utter unwillingness to tackle this century’s challenges in the Conservative Party.

Tax has already featured extensively. Collectively, pledges to reduce tax reached £330 billion, with plans to cut corporation tax to 15 percent, supported by both Hunt and Javid, costing £34 billion a year in lost revenue. Meanwhile, spending has only featured in one area: defense. Here, multiple candidates have promised to uplift expenditure, led by Hunt and Tugendhat, whose proposals of 3 percent of GDP would, over five years, cost £86 billion. Prioritizing massive corporate giveaways when the UK, even at 25 percent, would have the lowest corporate tax rate in the G7, illustrates the misguided priorities of Conservatives, with none promising money for public services or welfare, even whilst families suffer the largest cost-of-living crunch in 70 years and a record 6.5 million waiting for NHS care.

Instead, Braverman has pledged to cut welfare, claiming “too much” is spent despite over a decade of benefits cuts that have left the unemployed receiving just 18