There’s “nothing especially unusual” about a political party picking a new prime minister, says Philip Cowley in UnHerd. Of the 15 (soon to be 16) PMs since the Second World War, just two were voted both in and out at general elections. But this is only the second time that party members, not just MPs, have directly chosen the country’s leader. There’s a lot of opposition to this system, especially since the mental image most people have of the Conservative grassroots gives the impression that the prime minister is being selected by “an unaccountable, elderly, right-wing cabal”. (Of course, if Labour were in power it would be “an unaccountable, elderly, left-wing cabal”.)
But the idea that MPs are “wise and moderate”, and party members “nutjobs” obsessed with ideological purity, is for the birds. Conservative MPs are to the right of their grassroots on economics, and party members are closer to Conservative voters on social matters than their MPs. Another popular myth is that this leadership contest has been “dirty” and will damage the Tory brand. What a load of rubbish. A recent poll found that just 21% of voters thought the Conservatives were “fit to govern”, their worst score since 2011. “A bit of robust debate about how to improve things won’t exactly make things worse.”
💷📈 The political differences between Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss are overstated, says Fraser Nelson in The Daily Telegraph. Both are liberal Oxford PPE graduates who want a smaller state; they just have different ideas about how to get there. The contest is really about character. Sunak’s critics see him as a “dry management consultant” who can’t listen to advice; Truss’s paint her as “a pull-string doll, all quotes and no policy”. Ultimately, Tory members need to decide who has the “dexterity, drive and confidence” to pull the economy out of a slump and defeat Keir Starmer.