After the Central Line manifesto revelations, the news that the far right were backing her campaign for the Tory leadership, the disaster that was her Times interview, and the support of the wibbling Louise Mensch, Andrea Leadsom needed some more genuine and thoughtful advice. Sadly, all that was forthcoming was the questionable wisdom and dubious guidance dispensed by the loathsome Toby Young.
More less than totally grown up politics from Tobes
Tobes has decided to advise Ms Leadsom whether she wants him to or not, and from the quality of his offerings today, she should probably choose the latter option. But he’s determined to have his say, however feeble the influence, while pretending that he would like to back Theresa May. Which I suspect he wouldn’t.
Still, nothing like pretending otherwise, eh? Tobes even dedicates an entire post at Spectator Coffee House to the conceit: “I’ll back Theresa, but only if she can convince me she’s serious about Brexit”. But we know he’s already had his views solicited by the Leadsom camp, because it was on that Central Line manifesto.
And Tobes then effectively admits it when he tells “Buried below the mother stuff in @thetimes interview with @andrealeadsom, she rules out creating more grammar schools”. How did he know to look for that, except for knowing it would be there? “Grammar schools and talk to Toby Young”, remember? That would be him.
But now came the serious advice. “Some advice for @andrealeadsom if she wants to stay in this race … 1. Give fewer interviews and prepare for them more carefully”. Yeah, right. How does he know that the Times interview wasn’t just one of only a few, and that the level of preparation Ms Leadsom demonstrated was as good as she could manage?
The advice doesn’t improve as the points are reeled off, either: “2. Develop a clear, detailed Brexit strategy and talk about that in interviews and very little else”. What if interviewers want to talk about something else? Does Tobes expect Ms Leadsom to tell her inquisitors to shove off unless they want to talk about Brexit?
Still, there’s always education, isn’t there? “3. Avoid raking up old issues, e.g. grammar schools and fox hunting. Makes you seem like a polarising figure, which plays to TM’s strengths”. So he did advise the Leadsom campaign. And those two issues are already out there. Perhaps Ms Leadsom should just refuse to talk about them. Again.
Then an actual useful piece of advice: “4. Keep your distance from UKIP – and particularly @NigelFarage”. The problem is that Ms Leadsom has not distanced herself from Mr Thirsty and his fellow Kippers - and nor has she disowned the BNP, Britain First, and pro-am motormouth Katie Hopkins. Tobes will have to shout a little louder.
And she won’t be listening if he comes out with idiocy like “5. Try and present yourself as moderate and reasonable, not Corbyn in a skirt.” That assumes an extremism in Labour’s leader which is not there. But it arguably is with Tories like Ms Leadsom.
A final thought? “6. Stop pitching to the Tory Taliban. They’ll vote for you anyway. Tack to the centre”. Very good Tobes, Theresa May has already parked her tank on that lawn. Don’t give up the day job. Ms Leadsom won’t want someone making things even worse.