Comment Editor Samuel Pennifold on Johnny Mercer – an unlikely source of hope for moderate conservatives as he calls out the lies and failures of the far-right Conservative party leadership.

Johnny Mercer is a little known MP for Plymouth Moor View. But, he has recently emerged as a flickering light of hope for moderate conservatives who believe in fiscal economic conservatism, the importance of the rights of individuals, small government and those who are fed up with the culture war the current conservative leadership is all too happy to stoke in the pursuit of votes. 

Mercer served as the junior cabinet minister for Defence People and Veterans, a sort of lesser-known British twin of the American Department of Veterans Affairs until he was removed for his opposition to the original scope of the proposed Overseas Operations Bill which would not provide legal amnesty to those who had served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. A controversial stance that has been both praised and criticised. Despite his high position, Mercer has had his career as an MP mostly go unnoticed by the wider public unless you care about veterans issues deeply. 

As a former officer in the British Army Mercer was elected to Parliament by promising to improve the lives of veterans and overall access to mental and physical support for those in need. As a self-emitted political novice who only voted for the first time in an election in 2014 when he voted for himself, Mercer joined the Conservative party as he is against a large welfare state believing it leads to people becoming lazy and demotivated. Mercer believes in market-led solutions for creating business, prosperity and jobs as the best way to create social mobility and improve peoples lives. An opinion that is widely contested but also widely held. 

Mercer seems to be a normal kind of guy, an average MP with a history of average scandals and average voting that has never amounted to too much attention. 

Unless you are a tory whip. Mercer does have one particular character that sets him apart and is the reason I am writing this article – he has a backbone. 

Mercer originally supported Johnson’s premiership as a way to bring together the party and country to secure a Brexit deal despite his original opposition to the UK leaving the EU. Though he has later openly criticised Johnson for creating a toxic and hostile working environment. 

Mercer has never been afraid to say what he does and does not support.

As the far-right has taken hold of the Conservative party like some kind of dark blue snake ready to squeeze moderate conservatives out of the party MPs have quivered and shaken,  stepped in line with Johnson and his cronies and not dared speak out. Mercer bucks this trend.

Where Boris Johnson, Priti Patel and more offer empty platitudes and gestures in support of the nation’s football team in their impressive Euros run and in defence of the team’s Black players, especially Rashford, Sancho and Saka who unfortunately missed penalties in the final and faced racist abuse, despite previously criticising the same players and team,  Mercer has spoken out against his colleges in the conservative party and their hypocrisy. 

Tweeting in response to Black England and Aston Villa football player Tyrone Mings criticism of Priti Patel’s hollow support of English players “The painful truth is that this guy is completely right. Very uncomfortable with the position we Conservatives are needlessly forcing ourselves into. Do I fight it or stay silent? Modern Conservatism was always so much more to me. We must not lose our way.” 

in a flurry of tweets over the last few days, Mercer also voiced his support of England taking the knee to protest racism and criticised conservatives who bemoaned the move. 

In an age where so many exist in echo chambers and are unwilling to step out from the crowd, Mercer has voiced his opinion in a party that he has stood for multiple times now. Mercer represents a Conservative party that genuinely believes in legitimate conservative values as a way to improve peoples lives, unlike the current party that exists only as a means to sow division within society, enrich the lives of those related to the party and secure votes at any cost – especially decency and respect.

As Mercer calls for more MPs within the party that share his beliefs but are too scared to publicly voice to come forward I hope they can be inspired and this can be a moment to be looked back on as maybe the start of when decency won out vs the lies of the far-right in the Conservative party. Hopefully, they are brave enough to come forward.

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