When the New Sanctaria Party was founded almost four years ago, no one expected someone other than Andrew Silk to be leading the party into the next general election. Young and experienced, he was briefly Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary among other cabinet portfolios, Silk spent considerable political capital instigating a not insignificant split in the Sanctarian Conservative Party, and the Christian Union Party, to set up his party. His fall from grace was spectacularly grim, and in his place as NSP leader now stands Paul Jacobs.
Jacobs, from Novum Aeternum, has been an MP since 2013. Originally elected for the SC, Jacobs was always a key ally for fellow NA MP Silk. He was one of the first MPs to jump when the NSP was founded, and was rewarded for his long loyalty by being made NSP Spokesperson on Homeland Security, as well as the party’s whip. It was his first frontbench position having spent his career as an SCP MP on the backbencher, something he was apparently “bitter” about according to MPs still in the SCP who knew him well at the time. He had lobbied then-Prime Minister Mark Kindle for a junior ministerial, or assistant secretary, job in the September 2015 reshuffle but found his, and other hard right members of the party, fortunes had changed; Andrew Silk, former Deputy PM under Joshua Turner, had been demoted from Home Affairs Secretary to Education Secretary in this reshuffle too.
That bitterness remains in how he operates as leader. Though the NSP would be considered more natural allies to the SCP, at least fiscally anyway, Jacobs often turns his political vitriol on Cruz and the other Conservatives in policy debates and Leaders’ Questions. He believes the SCP has gone too “left” on social issues, and that believing abortion, same-sex marriage, or being pro-immigration disqualifies one from being a “conservative” politician. Married, with five children, Jacobs is not particularly religious, but he has decried statements by some MPs in the governing Democratic Left Party, as well as some in the SCP, who have said the Church of Sanctaria should no longer be the nation’s official religion. He believes in the traditional family unit, and has said he is “delighted” that his wife is a full-time mother and homemaker, saying that if she had a job it would be a “unnecessary distraction”.
Now in their first foray into a general election, the NSP surprised many by fielding a candidate in every single canton across the nation. Jacobs, having never served in any kind of leadership capacity prior to his current one, now aims to be Sanctaria’s newest Chancellor, and has said he believes the NSP will eventually overtake the SCP as the nation’s leading conservative party – “the people of Sanctaria don’t want progressive politics. They don’t want a mommy government. They want a government who will leave them alone, stay out of their business, and allow them to live their lives as free as they want. We will give them that”, he said at the recent party congress.
It is true to say, however, that the NSP’s light has dimmed somewhat since Silk stepped down as leader and MP. The manner of his leaving certainly tarnished the NSP brand, so closely linked to him as its founder, and despite his best efforts, Jacobs is not on the same level of Silk in terms of clear and effective communication, and party management. Well liked in the party, can be of no doubt, but Jacobs’ style and manner has not endeared him to the general public, outside of more conservative areas in Novum Aeternum, or Terra Monticolarum. Claims he is a bigot, a misogynist, or a relic of a bygone era are common at other party’s rallies, and even in voxpops or in columns. Jacobs doesn’t help himself by refusing to dismiss these claims saying he is a “plain spoken man, from a plain speaking part of Sanctaria. I won’t bother you so long as you don’t bother me”.
The NSP have not been performing well in the polls. It’s suggested that they will fall from 3rd biggest party to 4th, but because of constituency boundaries and state makeups, it’s likely their actual vote share as a percentage will increase; Jacobs may be “plain speaking”, but he isn’t unintelligent, and he knows he’s unlikely to become Chancellor – a vote share increase, though, will bolster his confidence as party leader, and that’s what he’s aiming for.
JOEY SESSIONS, Political Editor