Justin Tomlinson: Why I am backing Kemi Badenoch
For many in Westminster, the events of the past week feel like they could not be more significant.
The dramatic twists and turns are the culmination of a dramatic narrative that has been bubbling away for some time. They are fixated to the rolling news channels and their Twitter feeds, petrified of missing an update as parliament and government all but grind to a halt.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, it is business as usual. Millions of ordinary people get up to go to work, not worried about who resigned from what or who has declared for who, but rather about how they can stretch their pay packet further still to cover rising bills, about when they might finally get that pay rise, or whether they’ll be vilified at work or by friends and family for saying the wrong thing.
Kemi Badenoch wears her conservatism proudly, and truly believes that the answers to the issues we are facing today are conservative ones
In my many years as a conservative campaigner, including as deputy chair of the Conservative Party where I led campaigning efforts nationwide, I believe I have built up a solid understanding of the voters in this nation. I don’t claim to be inside the mind of every voter but if I know anything, it is that they do not care about the latest SW1 drama – they just care about the lives of themselves and their families and loved ones improving.
There is, however, one thing that Westminster-watchers have right: the gravity of the choice we face. As Conservative colleagues go to the ballot boxes this week, we are selecting the person we want to cut through to ordinary voters, to be straight about them with the problems we are facing and honest about the solutions they will require. It is clear to me that that person is Kemi Badenoch.
When I was deputy chair, I worked with colleagues on a daily basis campaigning to communicate our mission to voters up and down the country, far beyond this place. Having a clear vision and plan to put it in place that you can communicate to constituents is central to what all of us do. We do not have a god-given right to take our seats in the House of Commons, we earn that enormous privilege by winning the trust of our fellow citizens. Without a clear narrative and the ability to show how the conservative view of the world, that everyone should have equal opportunity, that hard work pays and effort matters, that you can be and do whatever is best for you without the state interfering, we do not stand a chance of returning a Conservative majority at the next election.
Kemi Badenoch is the leader that can communicate this mission, without spin or half-truths, to voters on the doorstep. With Kemi at the helm, we will be able to give a straight and honest answer when we are asked how we intend to reduce the cost of living. This may not be one that is necessarily the easiest to hear or creates the best headlines, but it will be the truth, and we will be treating voters with the respect that they deserve.
By being direct with voters about the problems, Kemi knows that we will then have their trust when we say we have the solutions. Kemi Badenoch wears her conservatism proudly, and truly believes that the answers to the issues we are facing today are conservative ones. As leader, she will implement the clear conservative vision for the Party and for the country, that will appeal to the common-sense British public, and set a course out of the struggles we are faced with.
A clear conservative vision and straight-talking honesty with voters makes for a winning combination. With this, we can create more Conservative colleagues than even now. This is why Kemi Badenoch commands my support for leader of the Conservative Party and our next Prime Minister.
Justin Tomlinson is the Conservative MP for North Swindon
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