A browner shade of pale: the lack of diversity of thought should concern us all

When they tell you who they are, believe them.

For the vast majority who are not Tories, this is not an impressive line-up of candidates.

The transformation of the artist previously known as the Conservative Party to something resembling UKIP is ‘near complete’. Issues such as “women with penises” or “withdrawal from the European Union”, which were never in the 2019 Conservative manifesto, and therefore never agreed with the Electorate, are suddenly being campaigned on.

Even the promotional videos give a flavour of what this motley crew is like. For example, in his socially mobile video, Rishi Sunak doesn’t mention the foot up given by Winchester College, Oxford or Goldman Sachs. And Penny Mordaunt’s video was so problematic that it had to be edited and re-distributed due to several significant complaints.

It’s said that this Tory leadership contest ultimately has two major functions: firstly, to select somebody with the ‘beliefs and values’ of a Conservative, and, secondly, somebody who can lead a Party as the majority party in government. The mission creep of beliefs and values into something quite Trumpian is striking, and significant as it could with time emerge into a cabinet of a Tory government in due course. Take, for example, the approach taken to ‘critical race theory’. The word ‘critical’ is supposed to reflect a balanced critique of issues in race relations, deliberately avoiding blame. The incorrect criticism of ‘critical race theory’ has to impute sinister agendas of those who wish to hold a transparent debate on race, ethnicity, power and society. It has become co-opted by the far right so as to say that it deliberately frames non-Caucasian individuals as ‘victims of oppression’, and the mood music of random herrings such as Jolyom Maugham’s tweet certainly doesn’t help. Diversity is best done when you’re not talking about it – there have been 3 non-White-skin-colour Chancellors of the Exchequer, implying that it is not just the left who care about equality, diversity and justice. Maybe.

Critical race theory started out life as an cogent debate, drawing on a number of intellectual strands, on – well, race. It does not deserve to be ‘cancelled’ by the far right, “banned”, or evade “freedom of speech”. The word ‘freedom’ has been bastardised in a completely unorthodox Orwellian way, and it is clear in certain cases ‘freedom is not setting us free’.

Diversity, whisper it gently, is not measured by the PANTONE chart of ‘brown’ of Tory leadership candidates. The lack of diversity in policy, and lack of stakeholder involvement, is fundamentally more of a concern.

One of the candidates is advocating withdrawal from the European Convention of Human Rights, a panel to which we still send a Judge to, an instrument which protects us from the Tory government, and which we helped to found through arch wokist Winston Churchill. This has not been voted upon as it never appeared in the 2019 Tory manifesto. The mantra we know ‘will of the people’ is utter bollocks we know that because of the constitutional set up of the UK, including the legislature, executive and judiciary. But there is no ‘will of the people’ involved in withdrawal from the European Convention of Human Rights. There should be a general election to endorse this, though it is far from obvious whether Keir Starmer is fit enough to win given that his USP is ‘being not Boris Johnson’ – and BJ has now gone.

They really don’t want to talk about Brexit. Even Liz Truss cites Brexit as one of Johnson’s achievements. But Brexit is not “done” – the oven ready Northern Ireland protocol is even the subject of litigation between the UK and EU. The trade deficit is a mess. It’s not ‘done’. That was, shock horror, yet another Boris Johnson’s mega whoppers.

The lack of diversity means all topics endorse flights to Rwanda, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds per asylum seeker (as well as a considerable moral outrage). There is also widespread agreement on various forms of cutting taxes – including corporation tax, including from day one. None of these are costed. There is even a hint that this will be paid for out of printing money, in other words, quantitative easing, which ABBA dance supremo Theresa May once referred to as ‘there is no magic money tree’. A measure of inflation is already predicted to be 15% later this month, so printing money would be a bit of a disaster. We know that that low taxes are not being funded out of the success of the Tory economy, as we are now predicted to be the worst performing economy in the G20 (predicted by OECD). There is no specification of where the spending cuts are going to fall, but this merits some answer as we already know that the performance of public services is already dangerously band to chronic underfunding. We know that the UK has a productivity problem, we know that tax burden is still one of the lowest in Europe, BUT that cutting corporation taxes does not clearly lead to better productivity or increased investment. More’s the point, public spending is necessary to maintain national income. More’s the point, killing off a large market on our doorstep, the single market, is a big contributor to the death of the UK economy.

There is no diversity of thought. We have not heard a peep about environmental issues, although some people have broken ranks on the Trumpian/UKIP proposal of scrapping ‘net zero’. It is as if COP 26 never happened. There is maintained attack on equality, diversity, inclusion, no acknowledgement of environmental issues – and no regard to record waiting lists in the NHS, or a social care system on its knees. All the leadership candidates are complicit in the disastrous government of Boris Johnson, and, although the court jester has been sacked, the brown-noising suitors are still dangerously lurking.

In an ideal world, the Conservative Party should be finished. But it has a remarkable habit of re-inventing itself to secure its no 1 aim: to be in office. And the poor performance of the Labour Party must concern anyone who believes in democratic challenge.