By Alex Story.
Boris is still the Conservative Party Membership’s favourite to lead the Party and remain as Prime Minister – and by a long shot.
As Sky News reported in the small hours of August 14th, an Opinium poll found that “most Conservative Party members still prefer Boris Johnson over either of the two candidates vying to take over as prime minister”.
According to the survey, Boris is around three times more popular than either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak.
The numbers suggest Boris would win 63% of the membership vote against Liz Truss. She would garner a mere 22% of support. Against Rishi Sunak, he would win 68% to 19%. On this showing, Boris is 357% more popular than his former Chancellor.
In short, in an open contest, Boris would win by a landslide.
Should Conservative Central Office ignore the signals, they would force their own party to go into battle with one of two leaders who are around three times less popular with their own membership thAn the incumbent
Interestingly, the level of support he enjoys within the Conservative Party membership has not waivered.
Indeed, in July 2019, he beat Jeremy Hunt for the leadership by a margin of two to one, with two thirds of the membership voting for him.
The Opinium survey can be debated and questioned as all surveys should. However, every survey, straw poll or petition tells us the same story. Boris remains popular.
The current electorate, that is to say the Conservative Party membership, keeps reminding everyone that Boris is their man. The Bring Back Boris campaign launched a petition three weeks ago on www.conservativepost.co.uk, a conservative members’ News platform.
The petition demands that Boris be “added to the ballot as an option for the members to vote upon in the forthcoming [Leadership] election.”
From a standing start in late July, it has now collected around 20,000 signatures. The campaign recently sent over 11,000 of these to Conservative Party Central Office in London. This is meaningful.
Schedule 9 of the Conservative Party’s constitution states that any proposal to change the rules “may be initiated by … a petition, delivered to the Chairman of the Board, signed by not less that 10 000 party members”.
On a technical level, the Bring Back Boris team cleansed the data to make sure only members of the Conservative Party were counted. The data, in other words, is rock solid. On this front, there is no wiggle room.
On a more political one, no Conservative leader in living memory would have received such a spontaneous and high level of popular support from its membership. As members have been saying: “we have a Bentley in the garage. We are now being told by second-hand car salesmen to get excited by a choice between a Skoda and a FIAT”.
Every day, the number of signatories grows. On this topic, the momentum is clearly on Boris’ side. It is understandable. Usually, politicians are at best tolerated. At worst, they have the uncanny ability of putting people off their dinner.
Boris, on the other hand, is not only recognisable, but one of very few politicians, whom it is difficult to dislike. The “Boris Hatred” phenomena is mostly artificial. When it isn’t, it comes from circles, close and far, who never forgave him for siding with the 2016 insurrection. They couldn’t believe that he would betray the tribe. As a result, they interpreted his decision to side with Leave through the lens of deep cynicism. After all, it is the only lens they have left through which to understand the world.
To many people beyond the politically invested and the anti-Brexit extremists, Boris is still liked. He brings hope and good cheer.
The local election of May 2022 was a case in point. The result should have been devastating to the Labour Party leadership. Keir Starmer, unrecognisable in a police line-up, managed to lose more votes in the North than the Conservative Party in the South.
It showed beyond doubt that the entire Partygate saga was a fabricated character assassination effort by strong vested interests, abated by a media that long ago stopped caring about objective reporting.
To those who invested early in Boris’ defenestration, the local election results were a slap in the face. They could not take the risk of allowing Bojo’s Mojo to be tested against a faceless Labour leader in a general election. They had to find any reason to get rid of him.
The Chris Pincher story, forgotten by most, provided a justification fig leaf to remove an elected and popular leader.
It is not for a small clique to decide for millions who should be in charge of the political destiny of the country
Too many have forgotten that in a democracy, it is for the electorate to judge the elected leader. It is not for a small clique to decide for millions who should be in charge of the political destiny of the country. The reasons are twofold.
Firstly, the Great British electorate will never fully know what motivates small groups of ambitious MPs to demand their leaders to resign. We can guess but never be certain.
Secondly, and much more importantly, if a manufactured and focused media campaign, backed by deeply seated vested interests, can remove an elected leader on a whim with no references to the electorate, no leader in future will be able to force through reforms that challenge the country’s power centres.
These are: corporates, bureaucrats, non-for-profits, media outlets, universities and many more.
The electorate as a whole must remain the sole and final arbiter of competence in democratically elected leaders. If the Boris defenestration is allowed to carry on, Democracy in Britain will be a sham.
In future, any leader, of any party, foolish enough to work towards challenging the current orthodoxy, be it on immigration, energy, food, gender politics, the EU and much more, will find himself at the receiving end of a permanent media-led attack on his character to force a swift resignation. He would then be replaced by a more pliable character, in office only to serve the interests of the powerful.
Conservative Party Central Office therefore has a choice. It can either side with Justice or short-term political expediency.
On the side of Justice, we have the Conservative Party constitution, the membership and the numbers.
Boris won big. He is still popular with the broad membership of the conservative party (and beyond). He has the numbers required by the Conservative Party’s own constitution to be added to the hustings. More democracy is always better than less.
Should Conservative Central Office ignore the signals, they would force their own party to go into battle with one of two leaders who are around three times less popular with their own membership than the incumbent.
In short, they would force their own organisation to go into battle with one hand tied behind their backs after having shot themselves in the foot.
People, outside the hallowed circles to which few of us belong, want Boris to remain in place.
Certainly, they want to be the ones to decide whether he stays in his job or not.
Conservative Party Central Office must allow the country to decide. They can do that by allowing Boris Back on the Ballot to Bring Britain Back from The Brink.
Members, please sign the Conservative Post’s Boris Ballot petition here.
This article was first published in the Express on 15th August 2022.
Photos by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street
Photos licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License.