I have to say that my first reaction to the discovery that Penny Mordaunt is not after all going to be on the ballot for Conservative party leader was profound disappointment.
Perhaps I should not have worried about it – I’m not a member of the party, so I have no vote: it is a little surprising since I have no say in who should be the next prime minister.
It feels like the election of a US president – someone who will affect my life, where I have no way of influencing the result.
Nor am I saying this because her campaign manager was George Freeman, the founder of half of the august thinktank I am now writing for.
As a charity, we are not allowed to take sides in any party political election, so I was unable to say this before now. I can do so now. For a number of reasons, I felt that she could have connected across the various factions, and not just the divisions in her own party either.
Perhaps I was influenced in this by her looks – I have only met her once – but I felt she had a depth of wisdom and interesting ideas. Her problem may have been that she has been something of an outsider.
We have to remember how quickly the establishment united against another outsider during the 2010 general election, when it seemed for a moment that Nick Clegg could win power on his own account.
Within a day or so, the agents of establishment power – the employees of the Telegraph and Mail – had fanned out across the nation, gathering dirt and tittle-tattle. I know, for example, that everyone who was at university with him was interviewed (my step-brother, for example, didn’t even know him but was just happened to be in the same college at the same time).
Something similar seems to have happened with Penny Mordaunt once it was clear that an outsider who thinks for herself stood a chance of taking power.
Stlll, I comfort myself that I will not have any uncomfortable challenges to my current political affiliation.
Also, whether the Tory party chooses Sunak or Truss – both versions of establishment opinion about the economy (though Liz Truss’s economics revealed on the Today programme this morning shows signs of wear and tear) – is really neither here nor there.