The race to become the next Conservative party leader / our unelected post-Brexit overlord is getting serious. Following the first round of voting on Tuesday, Liam Fox has been eliminated from the race and Stephen Crabb has dropped out and declared his support for Theresa May, who received 165 votes from Tory MPs, racing ahead of Andrea Leadsom, who got 66, and Michael Gove, who got 48. On Thursday, the party's 330 MPs will vote in one more round, before two final challengers, their faces covered in the blood of ritually sacrificed foxes, duke it out for the support of grassroots members.
Until David Cameron started hugging hoodies and cuddling huskies, Tory party leaders never really bothered trying to trade in compassion or kindness. To re-appropriate Sideshow Bob, the dark, secret appeal of a Tory leader was that they could be relied on to lower taxes, brutalise criminals and rule us like a king. Looking back on six years of austerity and a EU referendum brought about for nakedly political reasons, it's hard to say that Cameron's "compassionate Conservatism" was anything other than a vomit-inducing piece of PR.
Either way, Cameron's fucked now and the Tories are after a new leader. Which one of the three remaining candidates mongers fear the best? Mirror, mirror, on the wall: who is the scariest Tory of them all?
Yep, I didn't know who she was either until about a week ago, but the energy minister and former Barclays executive has been declared "trustworthy" by new supporter Boris Johnson, so she's probably someone you don't want to ever trust with anything. She hates wind farms, loves fracking and wasn't sure if climate change was real until she became energy minister, so if we want someone to represent for Team Environmental Apocalypse, she's our woman.
A Stepford wife for the neo-liberal age, one Conservative minister told The Times Leadsom wants to bring back 1950s social values and turn Britain into "Singapore on stilts". She has a portrait of Margaret Thatcher on her wall and has this particular piece of advice for anyone feeling a bit down: "When in doubt, cook a Sunday roast, get the family around you and you'll feel fine afterwards".
In keeping with this Truman Show-meets-1984 vibe, Leadsom goes on and on about children. Could that be because Theresa May, her main rival, has no children? Don't be silly.
Leadsom is also a serious Christian. Her positions on gay rights and abortion are not clear, but apparently God told her to get into politics – and Wednesday's publication of the Chilcot report should be a good reminder of what happens when you have a prime minister who thinks he or she has a direct line to God. Finally, she has the support of Ukip moneyman Arron Banks and Thatcher's advertising guru Tim Bell, whose firm Bell Pottinger who have been happy to count authoritarian regimes among their clients.
The wet-mouthed Gollum of the Tory party has shown in the last fortnight just how scary he can be to his closest allies, sliding an imperial cutlass into the back of blithering buffoon Boris Johnson's back and then stepping in front of camera to tell the nation that, regrettably, he was the only man for the job and that now was the time for Britain to just roll over and dutifully let him fuck it.
A genuinely radical right-wing ideologue, Gove – whose wife Sarah Vine has become a Lady Macbeth for the 21st century, telling her husband to be his "stubborn best" – has boasted of "driving change, often in teeth of opposition". Perhaps, there, he's talking about the fact that, as education secretary, he was universally hated by teachers, who resented his attempt to turn education in this country into a brutal marketplace in which teachers competed over who could be the most nationalistic and who could teach the least foreign books.
Even though he has never lived or even travelled in an Islamic country, Gove wrote a book called Celsius 7/7 about the roots of Islamic terrorism in which he showed no signs of having met or talked to any Muslims, according to the author William Dalrymple, who called it a, "confused epic of simplistic incomprehension".
Caught on camera bitching out most of the leadership candidates, jazz-loving Tory ledge Ken Clarke talked about how "wild" and extremist Gove is, saying that even right-winger Liam Fox was scared of him. "I think with Michael as prime minister we'd go to war with at least three countries at once", said Clarke. Gove has been said to have an "emotional need to gossip". If Clarke is right, it sounds like he'll break open Downing Street's finest malt whisky and give in to an emotional need to invade Russia.
In the last couple of days, footage of a 24-year old Gove from a Channel 4 TV show he used to co-present has emerged. He looks like a precocious, psychotic child who's found his father's suit, talking about a rise in crime, a "flood of theft and violence", "society's descent into criminality", "wicked criminals" and the return of capital punishment for "nonces". He's the one guy in the room who seems to really buy into the faux-edgy, right-wing vibe of the show and of course the truly scary thing about seeing young Michael in action is the fact that we now know he collaborated with David Baddiel.
It's hard / very easy to believe that a home secretary who will not guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in Britain, has spoken of wanting to make Britain a "hostile environment" for migrants and is known as "Darth Vader" among the civil servants that work for her is now the front-runner to be the prime minister and also the least scary person on this list.
Throughout her time in government, May has talked – in terms either quite draconian or very draconian – about reducing net immigration to Britain. In 2005, her party's election campaign slogan, "Are you thinking what we're thinking"? – which prompted the response, "That we drown this bag of puppies"? – was one she enthusiastically campaigned on. But compared to 1950s Leadsom and Gollum Gove, she is, unbelievably, horrifyingly, probably the best hope we have of not being roasted over a spit in hell.
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