Tory leadership contest: Six things to watch out for in The Battle for Number 10 on Sky News
Written by Hitmix News on 5 August 2022
In one month and two days, a new prime minister will hold an audience with the Queen at Buckingham Palace, before walking through the black door of Downing Street and beginning work on one of the trickiest legacies of modern times.
Both of the candidates still in contention for this role will audition for the job on a Sky News special programme – the Battle for Number 10 – at 8pm tonight with Kay Burley.
In the two weeks since Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss entered the final leg of this contest, much of the debate has – frustratingly – been dominated by the issues they choose to emphasise, with the news agenda focusing on the differences between them as they hone the tactics they need to win this contest.
Politics Hub: Sunak and Truss prepare for Sky News battle
With ballots being sent out over the next seven days, Mr Sunak and Ms Truss will try and set out their contributions tonight to attract the specific electorate of 160,000 or so Tory members they have to win over to get to Number 10.
They will be represented by a live audience of undecided Tory members, who will be in the room at Sky HQ.
But tonight is also about Sky News viewers at home and the country as a whole, watching a contest over which they have no say to find out more about who will take the reins in a matter of weeks.
How much is it possible to see through and around the campaigning tactics? To discern how both individuals would govern if actually installed in Downing Street?
Here are six things to watch in tonight’s Sky News Battle for Number 10:
1 – Britain faces unprecedented turbulence in many people’s lifetimes at home and abroad. How do the candidates promise to safeguard domestic economic security for the nation as far as possible – the number one priority for the next PM?
Do they promise revolution or is it reassurance? Are there risks which might outweigh rewards of further massive change? How much pain do they tell the country to expect? How big are the gambles both candidates are willing to take, and are they upfront about them? Or do they think broad promises of change are enough in a campaign?
2 – Russia and China are driving turbulence abroad. Both candidates have positioned themselves as foreign policy hawks, both attempting to outflank one another with ever tougher language over the withdrawal of co-operation, introducing restrictions and increasing defence spending.
Where does this end? And what are the consequences? And does the UK still have the military and economic might to adopt such tough positions without consequence?
Image: Liz Truss will need to show if she can say no to her backers
3 – For Liz Truss, the question is whether she’s prepared to ever deliver a tough message to her own side. So far she has been playing to the Conservative membership gallery – pledges to shrink the state, confront the unions, better mine the benefits of Brexit – which have catapulted her to frontrunner in this race.
But can she say no? Is she prepared at times to disappoint the coalition of donors, Brexit enthusiasts and hawks who are clamouring for her to enter Number 10?
Can she ever concede she was wrong, or when backed into a corner does she avoid candour?
4 – For Rishi Sunak, can he fill the room and show he has what it takes? As the newer entrant of the two to the political scene, has he acquired the full range of political talents to enthuse, excite, reassure and persuade? Or does he struggle with the party and might he struggle at election time with the country?
The speed of his ascent to the political top table means he has not undergone the stress testing others – including Ms Truss – have had to endure.
Is pointing to selective favourable polling enough to convince the party and country of his capabilities?
Image: Rishi Sunak needs to convince his party he has what it takes
5 – Can the debate tell us how deep the divisions are in the Tory party? And are they so ingrained now, after 12 years of Tories in Number 10, could the fissure in the party actually hinder the next prime minister from effectively governing?
Boris Johnson discovered an 80-strong majority is not bomb proof. Could the scarring from a highly personal contest between two people who want to drive the same political party in potentially very different directions really heal within 24 months before a general election?
6 – Modern politics is less a contest of ideas, more a battle of language. Who tells the better story for the party and the country? Who captures people’s attention – like Mr Johnson did better than anyone.
Who has an arresting style that will attract TV coverage? Who do voters trust? Which does the viewer at home like?
This the foundation of every political contest.
Tonight’s Sky News special programme, The Battle for Number 10, at 8pm with Kay Burley, will shed led on this and all these questions.