As this glorified JCR election of a Tory leadership contest heaves its way into a second month, the nation will be treated to the unedifying public spectacle of two Oxford alumni flirting with the Conservative Party membership. It’s all a bit Love Island, for retired bigots. However, if you swallow your cynicism for a moment, there is one element of the contest we can all enjoy. You would expect the ‘natural party of government’ to have mastered the art of the announcement video, but the results so far have ranged from lacklustre to simply alarming. All of them are a delight in their own way, so as a tribute to the contestants who didn’t make the final two (Esther McVey – miss you already babe), here is a brief rundown of their bizarre contributions:
Fairness is what I've been fighting for all my working life. Watch my new video setting out how I will campaign for a fairer Britain. pic.twitter.com/uhFEi9dqwS
— Dominic Raab (@DominicRaab) May 28, 2019
It takes only two seconds for Raab to make us uncomfortable here. What exactly is he looking at out of shot as the video begins? The former cabinet minister holds a black belt in karate, and when he turns to the camera to mutter ‘fairness’, it feels like he is telling the audience his reason for snatching out a rival’s eye, à la Kill Bill Volume II. It hardly improves from here. After blathering some more nonsense about ‘fairness’, the camera rather jarringly cuts from Raab in a picturesque park to a Blade Runner-style cityscape. This is RaabWorld, a future of skyscrapers which are all exactly the same height: in the name of fairness. There are some men in high-vis jackets laying bricks for no reason, but you feel as if their presence is only to demonstrate how useless their manual skills will be in RaabWorld. Chilling.
“I’m standing to be the next leader of the @Conservatives & Prime Minister of our great country. We need to restore trust, bring unity and create new opportunities across the UK. First and foremost, we must deliver Brexit” – @sajidjavid
— TeamSaj (@TeamSaj) May 27, 2019
The production value on this snoozefest lacks the punch of Raab’s icy dystopia. The Home Secretary opts for an indoor setting, but it is the delivery rather than the location which lets him down here. Javid even seems bored saying his own name. The most exciting moment in the one-minute video comes when the camera allows us a brief side view of Javid in profile, presumably to reassure the audience that we are not watching a cardboard cut-out. The occasional movement of his hands further confirms that Javid has height, width and depth, although it’s concerning #TeamSaj felt it necessary to emphasise this. Clearly struggling to stay awake, Javid reads off the teleprompter: “My pledge to the British people is to be a leader who is always straight…” – hun! – “…in fighting for their interests”. The brief pause between these two clauses is the only point where things threaten to get interesting. Javid has all the likeability of a backstreet dentist, and this crime against cinematography will do him no favours.
— Rory Stewart (@RoryStewartUK) May 28, 2019
Despite looking like the midway point of a Dr Jekyll-Mr Hyde transformation, Stewart’s mp4 strategy was arguably the most successful out of the ‘also-rans’. The MP for Penrith opted for walking around city centres looking for people to talk to, and weirdly it wasn’t as tragic as it should have been. Holding his iPhone slightly too close to his face, Stewart filmed himself saying things like: “DODGY CAMERA WORK CONTINUES – NOW IN LEWISHAM MARKET”. The fishmongers behind him in this particular example humour him with a smile, treating him as you would an elderly relative. “I FEEL PEOPLE BUZZING WITH IDEAS READY TO BE UNLEASHED”, he says in another video. Rory was clearly waiting a long time to “unleash” himself on the public, but ultimately ended up drifting from one depressing high-street to the next, looking baffled that people weren’t as thrilled to talk about customs as he was.
I will be putting my name forward to be Prime Minister.
— Michael Gove (@michaelgove) May 26, 2019
It was inevitable that this untrustworthy sock puppet would throw his hat in the ring, but it’s the laziness of his effort which didn’t sit well with me. Raab, Javid and Stewart’s videos are a collection of beautiful catastrophes, enchanting in their sheer weirdness. Gove’s offering, however, was a thirty-second clip of him trotting down the steps of his lavish London house to extenda meaningless platitude about ‘bringing the country together’. In this respect Gove has already succeeded. Few things bring the country together so successfully in these polarised times as a dislike of Michael Gove. My suspicion that Gove sleeps in a coffin and reads Machiavelli to his children at night is one I have based on overwhelming evidence, such as his face and voice. Although he sadly didn’t make the final cut, you know he’ll be back in six months after PM Johnson resigns in disgrace.
.@EstherMcVey1: Remainers have ripped up the rulebook in order to deny the democratic vote of the people. So I, too, would use every tool as leader to ensure that democratic vote is fulfilled. #RestoringTrust
— #WithEsther (@imwithesther) June 12, 2019
Although her campaign lasted about five minutes, McVey managed to get brutally roasted by Lorraine Kelly and side with the homophobic protestors in Birmingham in that time:so fair play to her for well and truly carpe-ing the diem. The most interesting aspect of this speech was that McVey delivered it alongside a framed photograph of Margaret Thatcher. The portrait is obviously McVey’s own, presumably the same one she kept on her desk as a child, Thatcher’s beady eyes watching out for the homosexuals hiding underneath the bed. This video is taken from the #WithEsther Twitter account, which boasts a mighty 374 followers at the time of writing. The most recent tweet references a Daily Telegraph column which ominously warns that the Tories will ‘rue the day’ they overlooked Esther. If you listen carefully, you can just about hear the sound of Lorraine Kelly cackling.∎
Words by Jack Womack. Illustration by Emily Reed.