George Currie explains why he hopes that Conservative MPs #PutRoryThrough to the final two of the leadership context.
When was the last time a politician made you feel giddy? Was it Boris, Cameron, Clarke – even Thatcher perhaps? I’m not sure any politician had ever inspired such a feeling in me before today. Perhaps it was the late morning Sunday coffee or the glorious, post-diluvian sunshine this week so longed for. Or maybe, just maybe, Rory Stewart struck a chord with me in a way no politician has ever managed to.
Kensal Rise is an unusual haunt for senior Tory politicians – or even junior ones for that matter. As the home of a dominant local Labour Party and a rather belligerent Momentum movement, most consciously avoid it. Who could blame them? It’s a brave Conservative who runs up his colours here. But as I was waiting at the bus stop – headphones in – on my way to the gym, Rory’s ruffled hair appeared in the corner of my eye. I must admit, I had to look twice.
Genial, jovial, even joyous, he was busy chatting away to the small band of people arrayed around him – the conversation punctuated only by the obligatory selfies that have become a feature of his campaign. I admired his conviviality from afar for a minute. Impressive. I meandered in his direction, ready to find the gap in the conversation and enter the debate. His diplomatic training kicked in and, immediately, the circle opened to me with a firm handshake.
Front and centre, I now had to say something coherent. Whatever the jumble of words that tumbled out of my mouth, what struck me was Rory’s sincerity. There was no looking over my shoulder to find the next potential voter to glad hand. He looked straight at me and, somewhat surprisingly, listened to what I had to say. He actually listened. I gave him my full and frank view of the challenges faced by the country and the Conservative Party. Still he listened.
Many of the things on my mind corresponded well to those on his. It’s not rocket science. Social care funding, living standards, and the environment all matter far more to the average punter on the street than the ultimate intangible of intangibles: Brexit. He nodded sagely and responded to my somewhat disordered thoughts with the clarity of a man who has thought deeply about these issues. And he has.
After all, what is a good long walk for if not to think clearly and without hinderance.