Analysis: Tory leadership race is too long for serious politics

Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak are going into yet another week of the Tory leadership race in a contest too long to take seriously.

Nominations started on July 12, but we don’t get a winner until September 5, which is an awfully long time to live under a zombie Government.

This is not about the quality of candidates, though each have their strengths and failings, but instead a problem of always needing to say something.

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In the race so far, the Foreign Secretary has made a nice 69 pledges, compared to the former Chancellor's 75.


Both are averaging more than 2.5 announcements a day, which does not exactly scream well developed and fully costed policy.

Figures from the The Sunday Times estimates almost half of the pledges are ambiguous, which is a surprise given how long both candidates have been planning to run.

Making these announcements is part of campaigning, trying to look ready for Government and offering up policies to win votes.

It’s also a constant battle for coverage, with every day another chance to seize the initiative, with so many pages always going to be written about each campaign.

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss cannot stop making pledges.Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss cannot stop making pledges.
Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss cannot stop making pledges.
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But the constant need to promise something is bad for democracy, bad for debate, and perhaps even disingenuous.

Consider the public sector plans of Ms Truss, which would have seen nurses, doctors and teachers outside London take a pay cut.

The frontrunner made the announcement, got called out on it, then simply pretended/lied about being misinterpreted.

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This was not a costed plan, nor a good one, and it was rushed out in a desperate bid to show savings can be made.

Elsewhere Mr Sunak’s plans are less likely to happen, but are now escalating in silliness to try and win over Tory voters.

His latest is to crackdown on degrees that don’t increase “earning potential”, as if education for education sake is a bad thing.

I’m not sure how beneficial my English Degree has been to my income, but the idea of studying as purely for monetary gain is absurd.

It is a culture war policy from a campaign that is already over.

His race may be run, but the extended nature of the competition means we keep having announcements, instead of engaging with actual substance.



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