Rishi Sunak won over the audience, but Liz Truss seems to have control over conservative members in the country.
Any clues as to why both are true can be found in Thursday night’s 90-minute battle for number 10 on Sky News with Kay Burley, who tested the breadth, depth and agility of the two would-be prime ministers in 6 of September.
On a unique TV grid, the flaws and skills of both candidates paraded before a live studio audience.
Repeatedly put on the defensive by Burley, favorite Liz Truss showed how she learned to borrow Boris Johnson’s handbook when asked about inconsistencies.
Based on that performance, expect Prime Minister Truss to refuse to apologise, rarely offer to explain and affirm every criticism as a sign of her strength.
She offered no justification for suggesting that the media was to blame for her decision to abandon public sector pay cuts, or any explanation for the green belt construction plans.
Trust, for Liz Truss, means fulfilling political promises – despite being part of a cabinet that dropped large parts of the 2019 manifesto – but she has suggested avoiding appointing an ethics consultant, another Johnson legacy she is happy to acquire.
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But for those who pay less attention than the studio audience, a lot of these are details that will be ignored.
Its purpose is to provide vision and optimism, to suggest restless determination and a fearless commitment to change.
Even at this late stage in the leadership race, the checkbook is still out, promising everything it can to help with the cost of living and hinting at reforming doctors’ pensions – another change with a price tag potentially in the billions.
Why not vote for the kind of encouragement and optimism that won the Conservatives in the 2019 general election?
Rishi Sunak, on the other hand, was looking to steer the Conservative Party away from its addiction to Boris Johnsonbut you may think it’s too early.
Pragmatic, sensible and detailed, his campaign assumed that members of the Conservatives and the country would be looking for something other than the man the lawmakers just dragged from Number 10.
His speech focused on seriousness, hard work and moderation, warning about inflation and the dangers of spiraling debt – themes that gave the Conservatives a general election mandate in 2015.
But fads fade and from public questioning it became clear that his record is his legacy, being asked if he was conspiring against Johnson and if he is responsible for some of the problems. the Bank of England is warning about.
The very experience he sought to capitalize on now becomes a millstone as opponents – partly unfairly – classify him as a traitor to Johnson (as he pointed out, he was one of 60 ministers to resign to force this dispute) failed to grow by accepting economic orthodoxy.
At the end of the 90 minutes, Liz Truss had a vision, but there was a reluctance to give all the answers.
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Rishi Sunak he was on every issue, but he wasn’t promising a bold new vision for a party uneasy about polls and the economy.
More clearly than ever before, Sky News’ special show showed that this race is Mr. Sensitive versus the disruptor.
Team Sunak was delighted with what they saw, but with time running out, will the members resist the thrill of the journey into the unknown that Liz Truss promises to take them?