by Will Lloyd
Tuesday, 12
July 2022
Dispatch
17:30

The truth about Kemi Badenoch

The candidate wants politicians to come clean with the public
by Will Lloyd
Too good to be true?

Old Queen Street, Westminster

“It’s time to tell the truth”, said Kemi Badenoch, as she launched her leadership bid this morning.

Can you handle the truth though? Britain is as stagnant as it was in the Seventies. Productivity is a joke. Trying to get a passport or a doctor’s appointment invites entry into a netherworld of forms, queues, and bafflement. Want a driving test? Bribe somebody. GDP stubbornly refuses to rise. There are rising barriers to trade, inflation, war, an ageing population, and an absurd planning system. The truth hurts.

The MP for Saffron Walden knows all of this. It’s why she is standing in front of us. She says the truth will set us free, rather than making us all scream, then apply for Australian visas.

Westminster is still being suffocated by a tropical heatwave. Nobody has slept for days. Everybody smells thickly of caffeine and body odour. Kemi’s crowd is noticeably younger than any other candidates I have seen. They arrive in tiny lifts, without ties. Maybe they are the future. There are discussions about how sweaty Sajid Javid was yesterday — a form of cut through, I suppose. And a rumour: which candidates’ donors are flooding the betting market to make them look more popular than they actually are?

Anyway: Badenoch. She is inexperienced, the risk candidate. Her major backer is Michael Gove, who was accused last night by Steve Baker of secretly remaining in Rishi Sunak’s camp. As Badenoch speaks, Dominic Raab comes out for Sunak. He is the inevitability candidate.

She sets out her plan. There is too much regulation and too much tax. Badenoch calls Net Zero “unilateral economic disarmament”. In her analysis, economic decline is mirrored by cultural malaise. Pressure groups and activists and Quangos clog up the culture, just as bureaucracy slows the economy. We know she is serious about culture because the gender neutral toilets here have been turned, with masking tape, into “men” and “ladies”. 

Badenoch will “discard the priorities of Twitter” and vows that the state will perform its basic functions again. She promises a “sophisticated” means test for pensioners’ winter fuel allowance, which makes the young Tories in the room nod and smile. She does not have any jokes, but their absence is explained when she says she is an engineer. She does not lean too heavily on her life story, but mentions that she worked in McDonald’s as a teenager. Michael Gove does that loose hand clap thing he does.

But the assertiveness that has given her a formidable reputation in the Commons is missing. She speaks softly, and rather quickly. It feels like the room is willing her to be something she is not quite ready for.

Badenoch’s pitch is not that distinct from the other candidates. All are promising a smaller, more efficient state. Most of them are where the Telegraph is on the culture wars. Her promise is her character — only she has the gift of facing unpleasant facts, like a sea captain in a Conrad novel, she is “facing it, always facing it”. There is an obvious contrast here with the late Prime Minister, and the wilder promises of other Tories in the race.

Whether it makes electoral sense to tell the truth to the British, who have a long history of picking cavalier charlatans over grim truth tellers as leaders, is not something Badenoch is likely to find out. At least not at the next election.

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Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
4 months ago

The “late” Prime Minister? Has Boris shuffled off the mortal coil while we weren’t looking?
I like Kemi (I feel being on written first name terms with PMs is the done thing now), even though she’s inexperienced. What better moment to go for a straight-down-the-line truth-teller than right after the roller-coaster of the biggest charlatan of them all?
Plus, Kemi as PM would have the delightful side effect of making the Guardian spontaneously self-combust. All this wittering on about diversity and inclusion and it’s the Tories which will have brought forth 3 female PMs, including the first non-white PM. And a leaver too. Watching them and Labour trying to get their heads around that will be a thing of glory.

Last edited 4 months ago by Katharine Eyre
Mike Bell
Mike Bell
4 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Kemi as PM would have the delightful side effect of making the Guardian spontaneously self-combust. “
One of the top lines this week! Brilliant.

Steve Elliott
Steve Elliott
4 months ago

At least she studied a STEM subject and not Philosophy, Politics and Economics like all the other career dipsticks.

David Lawrence
David Lawrence
4 months ago

At least not at the next election”.
Tory leadership elections reveal who is on the way up, who is on the way down – and who was never going to go anywhere in the first place.
Badenoch will not win this time – I doubt if she would even bother to take a bet on herself, she is too intelligent. But in less than a couple of days she has succeeded in showing that she will be a force to be reckoned with in the future.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
4 months ago
Reply to  David Lawrence

As long as she doesn’t accept the post of Home Secretary. Which is surely going to be offered to her.

Mike Bell
Mike Bell
4 months ago

I first came across Kemi a couple of years ago and sat there with my mouth open. Here was a politician who wasn’t bull-sh***ing! She spoke clearly and confidently about real things.
As an immigrant, she knows why Britain is a great place. She sees the dangers of Woke. Her insights are similar to those by Konstantin Kisin (Triggernometry).
Those of us who have lived here a long time have never noticed the essential reasons why so many people want to come and live here. They don’t know it’s one of the best places in the world.
The engineering background helps – she wasn’t indoctrinated with post-modernist ideology by her lecturers. Being black and a women helps because, as Katherine Eyre writes here: “Kemi as PM would have the delightful side effect of making the Guardian spontaneously self-combust. “
Go Kemi!

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
4 months ago

She’s been an MP for just 5 years, and she’s never served in the cabinet, despite being fast tracked throughout her career. Its like making Margaret Thatcher leader and PM in 1963. Surely we’ve had enough of people willing candidates to be what they wish they were, rather than recognising them for what they actually are.

Tom Romero
Tom Romero
4 months ago

She is so obviously the best choice, with no disadvantages, that there is absolutely no chance the Parliamentary Tories will choose her.
Unfortunately for those hoping this race will establish her on the map in a good position to be a future party leader, that position will likeliest open up after the next Tory loss. And that loss of the majority will likely never be undone. The next Lib-Lab government will institute proportional representation without a referendum. And from then on the UK, whose “natural governing party” has long been the Tories, will have a truly permanent one–the Lib Dems, their revenge finally complete after a century of barely moving the needle. The real next Tory PM will then be the one who can lure them away from Labour. The most unpopulist, establishmentarian result that could possibly occur, but those will be the rules and they will never be undone.

Keith Hubbard
Keith Hubbard
4 months ago
Reply to  Tom Romero

Don’t forget the ScotsNats who almost certainly be the third largest party. The next election will be FPtP giving them twice as many seats as they would have under P.R.
To their great credit they are firm believers in P.R. even though they would lose by it.
Miss Badenoch does seem rather good. Love ’em or Loath them the Tories do seem to have put up an interesting bunch. people with proper jobs & a life rather than just career politicians.

Last edited 4 months ago by Keith Hubbard
Richard Craven
Richard Craven
4 months ago

“Trying to get a passport or a doctor’s appointment invites entry into a netherworld of forms, queues, and bafflement.”
I agree about the difficulty of Dr’s appointments, but the renewal of my passport a few months ago was fast and efficient, the more so considering I actually had to phone the Passport Office once or twice in order to resolve minor complications.

Simon Collis
Simon Collis
4 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

The Passport Office website currently says up to ten weeks

Philippe W
Philippe W
4 months ago
Reply to  Simon Collis

In fairness, every single business in the UK says it may take up to ten weeks to get back to you. Covid mate

Waterloo Wailer
Waterloo Wailer
4 months ago
Reply to  Simon Collis

My online renewal was done in 10 actual days.

Matt M
Matt M
4 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

I’ve twice had doctors out to visit elderly in-laws in their home last week. Took one short phone call to arrange. I got a (blue) passport during lockdown in four weeks.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
4 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Applied online to renew my driving licence at 4pm on the Monday. New licence arrived in the post at 10am on the Saturday, despite Thu & Fri being Jubilee bank holidays.
Perhaps I was just lucky.

Mark Walton
Mark Walton
4 months ago

All very nice, never heard of her. Love the fact she’s an engineer! Hardly going to have the impact on the world stage that the PM has! Might make a good minister of energy, anyone with remotely any Science can see how ineptly we have managed that this last 50 years. I hope we have a woman PM history may repeat and we get someone with real Conservative values. Socialism will not work and clearly Rishi loves spending everyone else’s money! I suspect he has blown it, having mentioned Thatcher’s domestic economics. Just wait until he fluffs the price of a loaf lol. A plastic Chancellor and a real gamble on the world statesmanship qualities required during such trying times. Everyone knows bullshit beats brains, Kemi’s too bright for Politics.

Richard Abbot
Richard Abbot
4 months ago

Right person, wrong time.
Things are not nearly bad enough for people to take her seriously. If she stays the course she will be perfectly placed to pick up the pieces in a few years time, after the collapse.

Maureen Finucane
Maureen Finucane
4 months ago

Her ideas are not new. They date from the 20th century when we had Reaganomics. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to get Cummings on board again.

Allan F
Allan F
4 months ago

Oh dear. Badenoch is just easy hot air. Py55 and wynd.

0 0
0 0
4 months ago

Kemi is my MP. Her only redeeming quality is her understanding of what a woman is and why this is so important for safeguarding. Otherwise, she has done almost zilch for our constituency and is in the embarrassing position of being a Tory MP in a “safe” seat where the Tories spectacularly lost control of both the local and town councils to an independent resident’s party with the biggest swing in the country. Will her seat be safe next time, even if she is PM?

Will Will
Will Will
4 months ago
Reply to  0 0

If you don’t want her, she would be an improvement on my last two “Tory” MPs.

Rick Frazier
Rick Frazier
4 months ago
Reply to  0 0

Oh the joy of having politicians in place who do nothing. If only we could be so lucky here in the U.S.

Stephen Follows
Stephen Follows
4 months ago
Reply to  0 0

She’s not there to do things for you in particular. No MP is.