Jesse Norman is not the most well-known MP, even in Westminster, so when the posh glossy Spectator magazine – the closest thing to an in-house journal for the Tories – tips him to be the next leader of the party it comes as a surprise to most people.
Bruce Anderson, the author of the magazine article, has good form as a tipster. Back in 2003 he tipped a little-known up-and-coming chap just newly elected in 2001. His name was David Cameron. Bruce, despite outward appearances, is no fool.
Cameron says he wants to stay in No10 until at least 2020. He, of course, has the little problem of an election in 2015 between now and then. The favourite to become the next Tory Party leader with Paddy Power at 4/1 is Boris Johnson. If you don’t fancy BoJo’s chances, or his price, Jesse Norman is a good bet at 25/1.
The reason his star is so bright at the moment is because he successfully led a popular backbench rebellion against House of Lords reform in the face of thumbscrews and heavy gangster-enforcer type threats from the Government Whip’s Office.
It led to a blazing face-to-face row with David Cameron himself in parliament. Witnessed by many it has only led to Jesse Norman’s stock rising among his fellow Tory MPs – who choose the candidates to be next leader of their party. Jesse is seen as steady under fire, able to rally the troops, sensible and with “bottom” – that indefinable air of gravitas.
He is, like Cameron and Boris, an Old Etonian. This doesn’t seem to disqualify him in any way, nor does his former career as – boo, hiss – an investment banker at Barclays.
Cameron is punishing Jesse for leading that rebellion by denying him the promotion his talent deserves. Even by the standards of the unusually high calibre 2010 intake of new MPs Norman stands head and shoulders above them as one of the brightest.
Being on the backbenches means, as with Boris, if this Conservative-led government is seen to have failed and is a one-term government he will not share in any of the guilt or blame – a definite advantage. Did I mention he is literally head and shoulders above all the rest of the MPs at a towering 6 ft 5 inches?
Currently at 25/1 having come in from 50/1 there is still value in his price, Jesse should be at much shorter odds than the likes of Adam Afriyie and Rory Stewart.
I spoke to the man himself before writing this and Jesse Norman said he had no idea what his odds were.
When I told him, he said, “bloody hell; still dirt cheap”. He was joking. I think.
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