May needs to find the chink in Leadsom's patriotic armour - the kids

So, now the Westminster combat is done, Generals Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom move to a new battlefield - the heartlands of the Tory membership.

Leadership race: Either Theresa May or Andrea Leadsom will be the next Prime Minister
Leadership race: Either Theresa May or Andrea Leadsom will be the next Prime Minister
This is where Leadsom possesses the high ground, freshly won by the ranks of committed Brexiteers having staked their claim to sovereignty or death. 

Well, not death, but for these traditionalists May offers the fear of their vote being watered down and/or delayed. 

May needs to be careful, because she will only lose if she allows Leadsom to paint herself as the patriotic choice and May as too close to the liberal elite who want to Remain.

Her battle plan should be to combine a full-frontal assault with a stealth attack from the flank that redefines what patriotism is. 

Her main efforts must be spent on going hand-to-hand with Leadsom on Brexit – stressing ‘Brexit means Brexit’ and reusing the killer line about Jean-Claude Juncker finding out she is "a bloody difficult woman". 

For the outflanking, May needs to address and deploy the young adults who are children of her key voters, who will either be talking to their parents at home on school or university holidays or meeting up with them at some point between now and September. 

It doesn’t matter whether they are Tories or not. 

Many of them will be in Generation Rent – the people at the sharp end of the housing crisis that has been stretching its tentacles deep into the country from London these past few years. 

What has this got to do with Leadsom? 

She happens to be one of Generation Rent’s enemies – the portfolio buy-to-let landlord. Perhaps fatally for her, she owns more than one buy-to-let property.

May needs to be careful on definition here. Many Tory voters have one buy-to-let as a retirement nest-egg and will feel that is fair. 

But Leadsom owns three houses in Oxford (one of the most expensive places to live in the UK) and Surrey, through a company called Bandal, with a hint of (legal but intriguing) offshore finance involved. May needs to be clear that she is attacking Leadsom for over-egging – or gorging on – the pudding.
One's ok Andrea, but three?

How does this square with Margaret Thatcher's pursuit of a "property-owning democracy"? 

Generation Rent is aware that both house prices and rents have ballooned in part because buy-to-let landlords have cornered the bit of the market that overlaps with first-time buyers, and they approve of George Osborne’s recent crackdown.

And their parents are all too aware of increasing demands on the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ as a result of runaway house price inflation. 

This is also a very campaignable issue that has already been playing out in local papers and will be well-known to constituency members – especially those in marginals.

May needs to use those kids to press home the following question to their parents.

Is Andrea Leadsom on the side of people who want their children to be able to afford their own house to raise their grandchildren in, or is she on the side of greed and "I’m alright Jack"?

There is enough in her track record to suggest the latter and that is Leadsom’s Achilles heel.

Daniel Farey-Jones is a freelance journalist and former news editor of PRWeek

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in