• MySTV

Analysis: When the journey to Number 10 reached Perth

Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson vied for the attention of Tory members in Scotland on Friday.

The two men vying to be the UK's next Prime Minister will go face-to-face for the first time in the Conservative leadership race tomorrow at 8pm on STV.

Many of the votes have already been cast, with ballot papers going out over the weekend, but we have yet to see just Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson square up to each other in a head-to-head debate. It's the kind of debate that lets us see what they are like under pressure and really tests each other's arguments.

On Friday night they were in Perth for the party's only Scottish leadership hustings. They wouldn't go face-to-face with each other, but they kind of went face-to-face with me.

I had never met either candidate before, and it was the first time I had interviewed them. Interviewing politicians in front of a live audience is very different from a TV studio or on some visit set up by government or party press officers. You get an instant reaction, which can be tricky for the politician and the interviewer.

One of these men will be the next Prime Minister.
One of these men will be the next Prime Minister. Leon Neal/Getty

At Perth Concert Hall there were 500 Conservative Party members gathered to see their next leader, the country's next Prime Minister and maybe even get the chance to ask him a question.

Many had already made up their minds, wearing 'Jeremy Hunt' stickers or 'Back Boris' badges.

Hunt had already spoken to a group of supporters across the road at the Royal George hotel. Borders MP John Lamont was manning a stall in the foyer with other serious looking supporters.

Aberdeen MP Ross Thomson was organising rowdier support for Johnson, gathering for group photos and cheering loudly when their man appeared to join them.

But then it was in to the hustings. Hunt was up first. He delivered his opening speech without notes (and without jacket, striding the stage a bit like David Cameron used to do), then took ten minutes of questions from me before facing the membership's questions. The key point I took from it all was that he would not devolve the powers for another independence under any circumstances. That got him loud cheers in the hall.

It was a fairly straightforward political interview, in that sometimes he went on a bit and sometimes I interrupted him and tried to hold him to account. He addressed the members questions on Brexit and business among other things very soberly and seriously, and they were very appreciative.

https://stv.tv/news/politics/1439062-boris-johnson-not-bothered-about-operation-a-se/ | default

Johnson was next up. Delivering his opening speech from the lectern, I caught about half of it, the rest sounding a bit mumbly. Interviewing him is different, though. It is a bit like facing a steamroller head on.

The only way to get any questions in at all is to interrupt his stream of semi-consciousness. It's also a bit like herding cats, with more cats joining the herd all the time while others shoot out from every side. He goes off at tangents and sometimes seems like he is all over the place, which means the only way to try and hold him to account or get him to address the question is to interrupt him.

At one point he asked me if I had interrupted the last guy as much and someone in the audience shouted 'Yes'. Under questioning he promised to put the union ahead of Brexit and uphold the Barnett funding formula. He also said he didn't mind being called an a*se by his party colleagues who formulated 'Operation A*se' to stop him becoming PM last time round.

https://stv.tv/news/politics/1439027-theresa-may-next-pm-must-act-wisely-to-preserve-uk/ | default

He didn't seem to keen on the question, but it was nothing compared to what was to come from the members. Flora asked if you had to be a "loyal husband and father" to be a good Prime Minister - he refused to answer and eventually said that he would have to live with people making up their own minds on that.

There were heckles from the audience and calls to move on, which I didn't. I hadn't raised the issue of character, they had. Lochie Spearman, whose father and grandfather had been Tory MPs, went on to call him a fibber.

None of this seemed to have much impact on the audience, the electorate in this contest. They liked Hunt, they loved Johnson. They seemed blown away by his celebrity, they enjoyed the entertainment, and, crucially, they think he can win. Not just the leadership election, that seems to be a foregone conclusion, they think he can win a General Election. They think he can beat Jeremy Corbyn and Nigel Farage and that's what they are voting for.

Tomorrow's debate still matters. It will be the first chance to see their next Prime Minister under the TV spotlight facing questions on his plans; but it probably matters more to non-Conservative party members than to those with a say in this election.

Download: The STV News app is Scotland's favourite and is available for iPhone from the App store and for Android from Google Play. Download it today and continue to enjoy STV News wherever you are.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
Forgot password?
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This must be at least 6 characters long.
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long.
You must be over 16 to join STV.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
We need this to check that you live in an STV region.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid postcode
Would you like us to email you about our great shows and services from time to time?
We'll only send emails we think you'll like (see example) based on information you have supplied and shows you have watched on STV Player. For details on emails and advertising, see our STV & You page.
Would you like to receive emails from the Scottish Children's Lottery about draws, instant games and competitions?
We support the Scottish Children's Lottery (SCL), which is managed by our colleagues at STV ELM Ltd. You can find out more about the SCL on its website, including its Privacy Policy.

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, and understand our Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.


We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.


Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.


Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.



Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.