Farewell then, Dominic Cummings’s class of 2019
Scott Benton is the latest Vote Leave MP to depart the Conservatives
Scott Benton has become the latest 2019 intake Tory MP to embarrass himself. Caught in a lobbying scandal, the MP for Blackpool South has lost the whip and now sits as an independent — alongside fellow 2019 winner Rob Roberts, who was booted out of the parliamentary party after a series of scandals.
The MPs who took the seats of Labour MPs in the last election were meant to be the new vanguard of the Tory Party. While many of those selected in safe seats were straight out of central casting, the Conservatives cast their net wider for their new targets. Many had burnished their credentials in Vote Leave and overlapped with Dominic Cummings’s apparent plan to seize the Tory Party as host for his reforms.
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These selections served an immediate electoral purpose. They needed to be committed to Brexit and were often deeply embedded in local communities. Many weren’t obvious Tories, so they appealed to first-time Conservative voters in Labour heartlands — indeed, Lee Anderson had been a Labour councillor before 2019. They were to be new faces of the Tory Party in new areas, bringing in new successes.
Four years on, neither they nor the seats they won seem to have much a future with the party. Benton, Roberts and others have caused their own downfall, with Wakefield MP Imran Ahmad Khan falling the furthest, jailed for historic sexual offences. Others have simply chosen to wind down their political careers in the face of likely defeat. Dehenna Davison, the breakout star who won Bishop Auckland, and Nicola Richards, the Tories’ youngest MP, have both announced they won’t be running next time.
The attempt to create a new source of power in the party has petered out. One of the few Leave-leaning protégés of 2019 who will still be around in the next parliament is Christian Wakeford, the MP for Bury South, who defected to Labour last year and has been readopted to fight the seat again from the other side. There are some exceptions — Miriam Cates and Claire Coutinho come to mind — but Cummings’s grand plan to seed new disciples has failed overall.
Getting MPs from your faction into parliament is perhaps the best way to influence British politics. Their role in selecting leaders and controlling what legislation is viable gives them an outsized role — but it depends on their ability to stay there without embarrassing themselves or losing their seat. The Corbyn project tried a similar approach and hit the same buffers, with MPs who were never properly vetted ending up in jail, expelled from the party, or removed by the electorate.
The last election was pitched as a reinvention of the Conservative Party. But the party in 2025 will show few traces of the project of 2019. Its future will in large part hinge on who is left in the Commons after the next election. They will shortlist the next leader and the agenda will be dependent on their confidence, yet almost none will be the upstarts of 2019.
A mixture of personal disgrace and political misfortune means that few will remember the fresh faces of the Red Wall and last time’s gains. The small, but effective, minority has almost disappeared.
“with MPs who were never properly vetted ending up in jail, expelled from the party,”
Can anybody on the inside tell me what this ‘vetting’ looks like, and how it would have caught Benton before selection?
I think caution is advised with the overall drift here, because it could be read as saying ‘not a member of the political class’, ‘didn’t go to university’ etc..
I would like to see the widest possible range of voices in politics, even if the progressive elite turns their nose up at people like Lee Anderson. Some of them will screw up, but many of those who survive in politics are hardly free from ‘sin’. Lying, cheating and abuse of power seem to go with the territory.
This is yet another key ‘crunch’ issue that needs to be debated – exactly what do we expect our elected representatives to bring to the table, e.g. background, qualifications, skills, overall suitabilty for the demands of the job…..how should their salaries be funded?
Quite so. We get the MPs we deserve. How many voters consider the candidates’ personal qualities, integrity, work history, academic achievement, suitability for ministerial office etc, rather than just putting an X next to a party label?
No wonder there is so little talent from which to select Ministers of the Crown.
Surely the real reason why the new Conservative MPs have failed and (in several cases) fallen by the wayside is that Boris Johnson failed entirely – and perhaps very deliberately – to ‘read the room’, see the clear message voters had sent the House of Commons in 2019, and governed very much as if he was David Cameron or Theresa May; a stooge of many wrong vested interests, only wanting power for self-aggrandisement and with no populist vision for his country.
The behaviour that John Oxley here describes always follows in the wake of a total failure of necessary leadership.
Elected representatives sink their differences, come together and work dynamically when they have a leader who is clear-sighted, tough, forthright and addressing the real issues of the day.
Doesn’t this all rather suggest though that the realignment, if indeed there was one, from the 2016 referendum was rather built on sand?
Or, more pertinently, if there was a realignment then those who drove it were not able to sustain it?
Long history of MPs on all sides, aware their Party will not win and their political prospects dimmed, seek remuneration opportunities and a last leverage of elected representative status. The ‘sting’ operations are more recent but the behaviour isn’t.
The Tory ‘Red Wall’ was always in danger of subsidence. Too many clashing contradictions in Right Wing/Tory thinking. Tories usually been quite good at maintaining a broad coalition but dishonesty about the trade-offs, accelerated by the fallacies of Brexit, always likely to catch up with a Party in power. The need to ‘deliver’ means you can only re-cycle contradictory slogans and fear driven messages for so long. Public gets worn out by it.
the more ” leounge settee toylitte” Mastubatory MPs that go the better: i’m so bored of having life dictated by hybrid IT line manager/ servant offspring crosses.
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