Having been asked by the I Newspaper to conduct a survey of YCN members, our data
reveals that divisions over who should lead the Party are increasingly clear. From our straw
poll of 172 YCs, there is no one candidate who can claim to be the early favourite.
Penny Mordaunt leads the poll, with 16.2% of respondents favouring her, whilst dark horse
entrant Steve Baker is in second, with 15.6%. Liz Truss, who has long been tipped to run,
was third, with 15%, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace came fourth with 9.8%, and Tom
Tugendhat came fifth alongside Rishi Sunak with 7.5%, although the survey opened before
he had formally launched his candidacy.

Before drawing too many conclusions from our survey, there are some obvious limitations
to the data. This was a poll of YCN members, not all Young Conservatives, and should not be
construed as a representative of all members of the Party below the age of twenty-five. The
data also comes from before the vast majority of potential MPs have launched their
campaigns, so we know very little about the platforms they will stand on. As campaigning
gets underway, with Boris Johnson’s time as Prime Minister withering away, these numbers
are bound to change.

However, the relative popularity and prominence of candidates such as Mordaunt and
Tugendhat suggests that a realignment of the Conservative Party could be approaching.
Mordaunt especially would represent a significant shift socially by the Party; she represents
the liberal Tory wing on LGBT issues, which would be a far cry from the stance taken under
the Johnson premiership. Under the outgoing Prime Minister, the culture wars have
certainly been stoked, no matter your view on the subject, as seen in debates over policies
like conversion therapy and trans participation in sport. Perhaps it should not be surprising
that Kemi Badenoch, Minister of State for Equalities between 2021 and 2022 under Johnson,
is being pushed to run by sections of the right of the Party.

One goal that all candidates must have in mind is unity within the Conservative Party.
Johnson still has his supporters, both within Parliament and our voter-base, whilst others
are desperate to move on from his legacy of scandals. Therefore, any hope of a unity
candidate might be too optimistic. Someone like Tugendhat would, quite probably, appeal
to Cameronite Tories, whilst perhaps angering Johnson loyalists. In contrast, anyone running
on a continuation platform would struggle to win over those who wanted Boris gone. Those
who served in the previous Cabinet may struggle to distance themselves from the previous
regime sufficiently to be viewed as enough of a change to change the Party’s fortunes.

Whatever happens, the Party must unite around a new leader once they have been elected.
All of us at YCN will work tirelessly for a successful Conservative government, from now until
the next General Election, where we will be on the doors to ensure that Prime Minister Keir
Starmer never becomes reality. But first, a new leader. Who will it be?