Tory leadership: Conservatives need to sort out this bizarre contest mess

Tory leadership: Conservatives need to sort out this bizarre contest mess

If a client came to my business to make a senior hire and we responded with a list of 13 people, that client wouldn’t be ours for long. No one has got the time to read 13 CVs or conduct 13 interviews. No wonder the public is failing to engage with the process – and that Tory grandee Ken Clarke branded it “a shambles”. The Conservative Party Board tweaked its own rules to insist on minimum levels of support. James Cleverly and Kit Malthouse then dropped out, taking the 13 declared candidates to 11.

Then Sam Gyimah dropped out, leaving us will a total of ten standing for today's first ballot of MPs.

Any of the candidates who fail to secure at least 17 votes will be eliminated from the contest. 

Then further ballots will be held next week, with the two most popular MPs moving to a run-off of Tory party members.

Now the remaining candidates need to impress three different selection panels. 

They need to win over fellow Tory MPs: the backing of at least eight colleagues to make it past the first round and 16 to get past round two. 

Finally, they need to gain the backing of Conservative Party members. 

What should the Board have done to make the process work better? 

Firstly, it should have whittled down the candidates to a shortlist of five candidates. 

Last fortnight’s free-for-all makes it look like anyone can have a go.

At least three should have a proven track record in leadership – such as a good Cabinet position or winning a meaningful election. 

The other two could be long shots, such as Rory Stewart, whose social media has grabbed attention, or Esther McVey, who gained experience as Work and Pensions Secretary. 

With credentials established, the focus should turn to mindset. The candidate must have the three Gs – Global, Good and Grit. 

By Global, they should see the bigger picture. 

Did Dominic Raab’s stint as Brexit Secretary show that widescreen vision? 

They must be Good, with a moral compass. 

When Andrea Leadsom weaponised Theresa May’s lack of children, did it reveal a fundamental character deficiency? 

And they must have Grit. 

Even critics conceded that Mrs May had resilience. 

The new PM will need that in spades. 

Does bus driver’s son Sajid Javid display grit, or was he a talented graduate who excelled in banking before switching to politics? 

These should be the questions  – and with three months to sort Brexit, the winner has to provide the best answers. 

• James Reed is chairman of REED and the author of The 7 Second CV: How to Land the Interview, Why You?: 101 Interview Question You’ll Never Fear Again and Put Your Mindset To Work.

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