The Conservative Party are keeping us great unwashed well away from the decision to pick our next Prime Minister.
“This is a job interview, and most job interviews are not conducted in public” said one of the organisers of Tuesday night’s Conservative leadership hustings, in what may win Misleading Understatement of the Year.
Inside a Commons committee room, Tory MPs gathered to grill the next potential Prime Minister of the UK. Reporters were locked outside, left to piece together snippets from within. It is a level of secrecy that would put any public authority to shame.
But no – this is the Conservative party. None of our business. It’s only the PM they’re picking. Like any private company, they’re keeping us Great Unwashed well and truly out.
Except when convenient. As the BBC’s Chris Mason reported: “It just so happened that while the former Foreign Secretary [Boris Johnson] was speaking, someone inside the room kept their foot in the door and so we reporters had a far better chance of hearing what he was saying than we did with the others.”
In true Westminster fashion, a foot in the door, and spin doctors hard at work, meant we’ve therefore heard much more about Johnson’s pitch than what Sajid Javid, Rory Stewart, Andrea Leadsom and Jeremy Hunt said.
Hidden from public view, the candidates “all ruled out…a new general election or second referendum,” the NS’ Patrick Maguire reported.
Further Tory candidates are to take part in – from what I can gather, private – hustings again this evening. Candidates for the most important job in the UK are being whittled down to two in the closed off corridors of Parliament, before the 20-odd thousand Tory members who are ‘swing voters’ decide who will be our PM.
Meanwhile the short timetable – “significantly shorter than any of the three leadership elections Labour have held since re-entering opposition in 2010” according to commentator Stephen Bush – only benefits Boris Johnson, who now has less time to cock up and throw away his significant lead.
‘British democracy’ is a nice phrase. But what does it really mean when voters are locked out?
Josiah Mortimer is Editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter.
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