With Boris Johnson as the early runaway leader in both the opinion polls and the first round of the Tories’ stage-by-stage voting system, attention has recently turned to the inevitable next phase in which the rest of the field brave enough begin vying to stay in the race by braying about their supposed unique selling points whilst also collectively attacking Johnson both for having come top in the first round vote and for ‘being kept under wraps’ by his handlers, presumably in case by appearing in public he damage his own brand … er … by being Boris.
Hence yesterday’s appearances by Jeremy Hunt and Rory Stewart on the BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show – respectively resembling most a startled fawn (Hunt) and just weird (Stewart) – followed later by their appearance on the Channel Four “Tory leadership live debate” together with fellow candidates Michael Gove, Dominic Raab and Sajid Javid and an empty lectern [representing Boris], an event chaired by Krishnan Guru-Murthy.
I caught this only fleetingly because, in order to avoid the half-time pundit analysis of a Women’s World Cup match being covered by BBC2, I had begun channel-hopping in search of a rewarding five-minute diversion. In the end I watched ten minutes of it so Rusters may need to discount my comments to a degree for being ill-informed.
In order convey an impression of what it was like, my best effort would be a nervy school sixth form moot transported into a television studio – awkward, awkward, awkward. It was a spectacle that did none of them any good, in fact at times quite the reverse.
(This, of course, may be another reason why the Johnson strategists made a clever decision in keeping him out of it, and also why – had they been given a free rein – those on the rest of the candidates’ teams would probably also have advised against it, but in the circumstances couldn’t).
Anyway, here are three reviews of said debate worth a glance:
Tom Peck, writing on the website of – THE INDEPENDENT
John Crace on the website of – THE GUARDIAN
Daniel Martin and Milly Vincent on the website of the – DAILY MAIL