15 JULY 2022 | OPINION
Kemi Badenoch’s limited government, low tax leadership pitch, as well as her overt opposition to identity politics, may prove incredibly popular – particularly amongst the party’s younger demographic. Her promise of both old and new is refreshing for a Conservative Party in an identity crisis.
With a number of Tory heavyweights favoured by the bookies in the race to replace Boris Johnson, the former Equalities Minister could prove an unlikely – though welcome – underdog. She might in fact offer the “clean start” that was promised by Tom Tugendhat’s leadership campaign.
Despite going up against senior party figures like former Chancellor Rishi Sunak or Attorney General Suella Braverman, Badenoch stands a fair chance at winning the top job. Indeed, Mr Sunak’s statement that this is not the right time to cut taxes is hardly likely to appease the right wing of the Tory Party – so will it be Kemi versus Rishi in the final?
After only the first round of voting in the leadership contest on Wednesday, Badenoch has beaten recently promoted Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi and former Health and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who came second to Boris Johnson in the 2019 leadership election. Alongside Penny Mordaunt, who could also prove to be a winner, the two female MPs are favourites with Young Conservative members. In Kemi’s case in particular, it’s obvious why.
At the height of the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement in the summer of 2020, Badenoch, then serving as Equalities Minister, stood opposed to demands for Critical Race Theory to be added to the school curriculum. This backwards Marxist dogma is a political theory that preaches a race-orientated, two-class society, whereby the white majority oppress, and ethnic minorities are oppressed. It is little more than a fear-mongering, far-left fantasy – though this didn’t stop civil servants apparently pandering to them, as we reported at the time. But as a black Minister and a member of the Conservative Party, she will be loathed by those who have attempted to push this narrative to the front of politics (which includes those on the Labour Party benches).
Certainly, in being a non-conformist to this regressive race narrative, which ironically pressures ethnic minority people into accepting it as fact rather than fiction, she is to be feared by her opponents for being the outspoken critic that she is. ‘How dare a black, right-wing woman in a position of power defy our division-seeking narrative?’, Badenoch’s detractors might argue (as they did of Priti Patel being a conservative Asian woman).
What is central to the PM-hopeful’s campaign is the promise to combat identity politics – and this resonates with the right of the party. When taking into account younger supporters especially, Badenoch’s record of opposition to the mob of race-obsessed progressives will bode well with those who feel the party hasn’t gone far enough to denounce the culture war instigators.
As a politician of Nigerian origin who doesn’t subscribe to the teachings of Critical Race Theory or the identity idiocy, which is a fruitless ideology propagated on the belief that one’s political views must be dictated by the colour of one’s skin, sex or gender identity, or sexuality, it is clear why Badenoch poses a threat to leftist progressivism – the driving force behind these regressive ideas. As if to prove that point:
In fact, it appears the 42-year-old is the only candidate in the leadership race to openly oppose identity politics so far. This stands her in good stead ideologically, and puts her at an advantage over her rivals – not just with Conservative MPs, but also with party members. Under Boris Johnson, the Tories did little to combat the ideas leading the progressive movement that now has a chokehold over Sir Keir Starmer on the parliamentary benches opposite. But while some might mock the Labour leader and his colleagues over his unwillingness to engage in the debate around ‘what a woman is’, can much be said for how the Government has attempted to fight gender ideology or identity politics?
Assuredly, Badenoch’s stance on the matter will be popular with Young Conservative supporters because practically nobody else at the top of the party has engaged with these political issues. Only when probed insistently did Boris Johnson admit that he thought biological men should not compete in women’s sports; no other senior party figure has indulged these discussions seriously.
What makes Kemi Badenoch’s pitch so appealing is her promise of the old and new. She vows a return to core conservative values of low tax and responsible spending. Concurrently, she recognises the need to address the issues so feebly neglected by British politicians.
It is remarkably refreshing to hear a Conservative politician and prospective Prime Minister take a stance on these issues. It may also propel her into power.