Coming soon: our reactionary First Minister?

The stereotypes are emerging already. Allegedly, Theresa May is a nasty right-winger: the only reason she is likely to look less reactionary in this election, is because she is up against an even nastier, more reactionary right-winger in the form of Andrea Leadsom.

But is that true? Do the facts bear that out?

In seeking out an answer, PublicWhip proved to be my friend. This site is an absolute gift to political geeks and anyone wanting to know how their MP’s are representing them. Not only does it list how MP’s voted on pretty much every significant division since 1997: it also interprets those votes (because votes on amendments can get very technical for anyone not intimately versed in parliamentary procedure).

Even more interesting: it aggregates individual votes into model policies, and then works out, on the basis of those votes, how much in agreement with that policy your MP happens to be. So, on the policy of “Homosexuality – Equal Rights”, it turns out that David Cameron is 78% in favour – and that score is built up of several dozen votes he took part in between 1999 and 2014.

(By contrast – and just to show the system is working – Ian Paisley Jr scores 23% on that same policy).

Comparisons are not entirely precise (and see end of article for one important caveat): Andrea Leadsom has only been in parliament since 2010, whereas David Cameron and Theresa May have been there for longer: so there is more data on the latter than the former. Still, what follows may be of interest.

It may also scare the socks off some of you…so do not read this after dark or on your own. Here goes.


The obvious first question. And a little surprise. No: not the fact that so few polices over the last decade appear to relate directly to women. More the result for Theresa May.

Policy Cameron May Leadsom
Abortion, Embryology and Euthanasia- Against 39% 79% n/a
Termination of pregnancy – against 50% 94% n/a

Yep: no data on Leadsom – these votes took place before she took her seat – but an interesting first result, that May’s voting record suggests she is deeply anti-Choice.


Next up, LGBT.

Policy Cameron May Leadsom
Homosexuality – Equal rights 78% 59% 50%
Same Sex Marriage – for 81% 100% 50%
Transexuality – Against legal recognition 50% 50% n/a

Again, Leadsom arrived too late to vote on Trans issues, but here is the  beginnings of a pattern, which is that she is significantly less positive on Gay Rights than Cameron or May: and while May voted for Same Sex Marriage rather more strongly than Cameron, she is less in favour of Equal Rights in general.

LGBT Voting (source: PublicWhip)

LGBT Voting (source: PublicWhip)

Sovereignty and Devolution

Not hard to see here why Leadsom  is so closely associated with Brexit.

Policy Cameron May Leadsom
Further Devolution to Scotland 47% 27% 5%
Further devolution to Wales 50% 45% 20%
European Union – For 41% 43% 66%
English Votes on English Laws etc. 50% 100% 100%
Referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU – For 63% 72% 84%

She is very clearly the very model of a little Englander: English votes on English laws, please, and let’s have a referendum on the EU – but no more devolution to Scotland or Wales. In both of these she is significantly more nationalistic than Cameron or May – although May joined her in voting the full English Laws ticket.

One minor embarassment: Leadsom’s voting record actually appears to make her more pro-EU than Cameron and May.

Sovereignty Voting (source: PublicWhip)

Sovereignty Voting (source: PublicWhip)

When it comes to localism, tis Cameron who leads the way, May in the middle, and Leadsom who would like local councils to have fewer powers, less funding – but keep the business rate.

Policy Cameron May Leadsom
Referendums for Directly Elected City Mayors 96% 96% 63%
More powers for local councils 50% 44% 34%
Reduce central funding for local government 60% 80% 100%
Retention of Business Rates by Local Government 62% 75% 88%

On the other hand, look out House of Lords if Leadsom is ever elected PM.  She definitely wants you out!

Policy Cameron May Leadsom
Fully Elected House of Lords 69% 64% 98%
Remove Hereditary Peers from the House of Lords 50% 45% 98%

And one minor footnote: neither Leadsom nor May are great fans of proportional representation.

Policy Cameron May Leadsom
Proportional Representation Voting System – For  54% 27% 32%


Here, results are mixed: it is not so much a question of whether an individual is for high or low tax, as what they want to tax.

Policy Cameron May Leadsom
Increase Air Passenger Duty 50% 67% 100%
Increase the income tax – tax free allowance 58% 79% 96%
Increase VAT 57% 79% 92%
Inheritance Tax 17% 8% 17%
Mansion Tax 38% 13% 0%
Additional Rate of Income Tax – Increase 41% 27% 0%
Measures to reduce tax avoidance.  50% 50% 67%
Higher taxes on alcoholic drinks 56% 80% 91%

Note: those really are 0% on increasing the Additional rate of tax and mansion tax.  Leadsom does not think one should penalise the wealth creators (cough!) – although she is more than happy to tax alcohol and air travel more highly. One bright spot for the masses: she DID vote for a higher basic personal allowance.

Again, that continuum: whatever you think of Cameron overall, he is the most moderate of this trio…then May…then Leadsom.

Personal Tax Voting (source: PublicWhip)

Personal Tax Voting (source: PublicWhip)

As for taxing business….

Policy Cameron May Leadsom
Reduce the rate of Corporation Tax 59% 83% 91%
Tax Incentives for Companies Investing in Assets 48% 41% 56%
Bankers’ Bonus Tax 46% 39% 9%
Higher taxes on banks 40% 55% 60%

…Leadsom wants lower Corporation Tax, is slightly more favourable to Tax Incentives for asset investment, and is definitely against a Bankers’ Bonus Tax.  Remind me, again, where she claims, on her cv, to have spent much of her working life.

A slight blip: she is slightly more in favour of higher taxes overall on banks.

Business Tax Voting (source: PublicWhip)

Business Tax Voting (source: PublicWhip)


When it comes to social policy, best not to be young in a Leadsom Britain.

Policy Cameron May Leadsom
Jobs Guarantee for Long Term Young Unemployed 44% 33% 0%
End support for some 16-18 yr olds in education 50% 50% 100%
University Tuition Fees – For 42% 40% 100%
Voting age – Reduce to 16 50% 10% 13%

As far as Leadsom is concerned, you should pay for your education: you don’t get to vote; and there is no jobs guarantee for long-term young unemployed.

Youth Voting (source: PublicWhip)

Youth Voting (source: PublicWhip)

Again, that closeness of May to Cameron. Perhaps in part because she was cabinet colleague: maybe, maybe because at heart she is a real softy.

Nah…just kidding!

Do not expect state education in a May or a Leadsom led Britain: both are equal fans of academies.

Policy Cameron May Leadsom
Academy Schools – for 50% 88% 88%
Business and community control of schools: For 50% 76% 100%
Schools – Greater Autonomy 64% 90% 96%

While we’re on the topic of state support, don’t expect much to be left of the NHS, either.

Policy Cameron May Leadsom
Foundation hospitals – In favour 10% 20% n/a
GP Commissioning in the NHS 57% 79% 100%
Limit NHS Foundation Trust Private Patient Income 43% 21% 0%

Again, May and Leadsom doing a double act, with Leadsom just marginally more reactionary. That last policy, in case it’s not obvious, is about whether the MP in question thought the ability of NHS Foundation Trusts to make money from private patients ought be restricted. Leadsom does not.  May doesn’t much, either.

Do not be unemployed.

Policy Cameron May Leadsom
Welfare benefits ought rise in line with prices 30% 0% 0%
Reduce Spending on Welfare Benefits 69% 85% 88%
More Generous Benefits for Ill and Disabled 36% 23% 18%

Once more, a disturbing May/Leadsom double act, here committed to reducing the commitment to Benefits.

Do not take on a low-paid dead-end job (best stick to banking, or maybe cabinet ministering).

Policy Cameron May Leadsom
Minumum Wage 56% 44% 22%
Prevent abuse of zero hours contracts 50% 25% 0%

Here, Leadsom is just that bit more reactionary than May – although again, both are far less committed to the low waged than Cameron. (And again, that’s not an absence of data for Leadsom: she really is not at all interested in preventing abuse of zero hours contracts).

Work Voting (source: PublicWhip)

Work Voting (source: PublicWhip)

And above all, do not need public housing.

Policy Cameron May Leadsom
Excess Bedroom Benefit Penalty for Social Tenants 67% 76% 92%
Extend Right to Buy to Housing Associations 50% 81% 100%
Make High Earners Pay Market Rent for Council Home 50% 60% 100%
Phase out of Tenancies for Life  50% 60% 100%

Again, the gold standard is set by Leadsom, who is straight down the line wanting to penalise social tenants with extra rooms, extend the right to buy, bring in market rents and phase out tenancies for life. May is closer here to Cameron: though once more, the idea that he was somehow a model of social progress is both bizarre and, in years to come, one we might even come to believe in.

Energy – and Climate

No matter who gets elected, May or Leadsom, if they have their way, the chances are that we are going to be warmer.

Policy Cameron May Leadsom
Nuclear power – For 50% 57% 100%
Energy Prices – More Affordable 50% 29% 6%
Incentivise Low Carbon Electricity Generation 40% 50% 40%
Lower taxes on petrol & diesel for motor vehicles 50% 67% 63%
Regulation of Shale Gas Extraction 63% 25% 50%
Stop climate change 43% 38% 26%

This is something of a mixed bag. Again that gradient, from Cameron to May to Leadsom, with the latter being very much pro-nuclear, and pro cheaper petrol, lukewarm on low carbon generation and very much not bothered by climate change.

Energy Voting (source: PublicWhip)

Energy Voting (source: PublicWhip)

An odd aside….or maybe part and parcel of Leadsom being a fan of the motor car….is the fact that – breaking rank with Cameron AND May here – she sticks out a mile as not a fan of HS2. Perhaps expect an abrupt cancellation there under a Leadsom premiership.

Policy Cameron May Leadsom
Crossrail – In favour 50% 8%
HS2 – In Favour 58% 83% 33%
Public Ownership of Railways 50% 25% 25%
Rail Fares – Lower 50% 36% 0%

And, in line with her ardent free marketry, she is not a fan of restricting the ability of Rail companies to charge high fares or to take them back into public ownership – a view shared with May.

Human Rights

Of course, given such strong libertarian types vying for pole position, they MUST be fans of Human Rights.  Mustn’t they?

Policy Cameron May Leadsom
Human Rights and Equality 52% 36% 16%
Mass Retention of Communications Data 50% 73% 94%
No detention without charge or trial 35% 35% 0%
Terrorism laws – For 15% 18% 100%
Trade Union Regulation 52% 76% 100%
Restrict Scope of Legal Aid 52% 63% 90%

Well, no. Again that Cameron-May-Leadsom gradient, more starkly visible in the accompanying graphic, with arch-pinko Cameron ever so slightly vacillating on issues such as Trade Union regulation and detention without charge, and Leadsom playing the full-on authoritarian card.

Yes to Terrorism Laws, yes to regulating Trade Unions, yes to restricting legal aid and – truly scary her views on detention without trial – would a Leadsom premiership also see the scrapping of habeas corpus along with HS2?

Human Rights Voting (source: PublicWhip)

Human Rights Voting (source: PublicWhip)

As for immigrants and asylum seekers, it goes without saying. Moy OR Leadsom will be bad news for both.

Policy Cameron May Leadsom
Tougher on illegal immigration 72% 100% 100%
Asylum System – More strict 62% 76% 100%

Mixed bag

Last and quite possibly least is a mixed bag of odds and ends that don’t quite fit elsewhere.

Let’s start with substances and how we enjoy ourselves.

Policy Cameron May Leadsom
Recreational drugs – Against legalization 50% 84% n/a
Smoking ban – In favour 41% 31% 88%
Gambling – Against permissiveness 67% 60% 24%

May is happy to let us cough ourselves to death over conventional cigarettes – but not to legalise recreational drugs.

Intriguingly, on gambling, Leadsom is slightly more libertarian than either Cameron or May who in this one instance comes across as the most puritan.

For the military, May and Leadsom are happy to rely on nukes – but have rather much less respect for the soldiers who will have to fire them.

Policy Cameron May Leadsom
Stronger Military Covenant 53% 6% 17%
Trident replacement – In favour 75% 92% 100%

Last up, do not be a fox or a badger under the new premier. Well, under any Tory premier.

Policy Cameron May Leadsom
Ban fox hunting 0% 13% n/a
Cull Badgers 75% 75% 75%

We do not know how Leadsom would have voted on fox hunting – but given her enthusiasm for culling badgers, shared equally by Cameron and May, it is quite possible that she, too is a hunt fan.


And there you have it. As near as damnit evidence that between them, Leadsom and May make Cameron look like a dangerous liberal – and between the two candidates, absent the odd quirky vote on this or that issue, Leadsom is way to the right of May.

Be afraid, my readers.

Be very afraid.


One Important Caveat

I take no responsibility for the way in which the policies have been put together or the scores attributed to each politician in this piece.  The data is complex and PublicWhip have done sterling work to create aggregations and scores.

If you disagree with either, please take it up with them – not me. Meanwhile, if you wish to dig a bit below the surface, every policy is hyperlinked above so you can take a look at what is under the bonnet.

And if you are nerd enough, PublicWhip even allows you the facility to create your own policy aggregations against which to measure individual politicians. Have fun!

About janefae

On my way from here to there
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2 Responses to Coming soon: our reactionary First Minister?

  1. Leadsom on TV last night categorically in favour of repealing fox hunting ban.


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