With Andrea Leadsom taking on Theresa May in the Conservative leadership contest many will draw parallels to the Thatcher era and the “Dries” versus the “Wets”.
David Cameron sought to push the party in a generally more ‘centrist’ and progressive direction since 2005 and Theresa May is in that mould.
These One Nation Conservatives are distinguished by being the least hostile to Europe and immigration but the Traditionalist Tories—the largest, most working class were big supporters of Thatcher, some of these people have not voted since or have gone on to vote for UKIP. This really does bode well with Leadsom when it comes to how electable she can be.
However the real issue is that many of these people are not in the Party anymore. A problem which could cost Leadsom dearly.
The revival of the old conflicts between ‘wets’ and ‘dries’ of the 1980s is encapsulated by the supporters of each.
Ken Clarke a “Wet” under Thatcher has supported Theresa May and John Redwood, a “dry” from the Thatcher era has support Leadsom.
The establishment have made their intentions clear, that May is their Woman and SkyNews have not been so subtle in making it show. If the membership overwhelmingly decides that Leadsom is their lady, unlike the Parliamentary Party, then questions will need to be asked as to how such divisions can occur between the grassroots and its Parliamentarians.
What is clear is that Conservative members have a fantastic chance to change their Party. More of the same under May or a changing of the guard under Leadsom.