It looks as though there will be a very crowded field of runners & riders in the 2005 Conservative Leadership Stakes. Quite why some of them are bothering can only be known to them. By my reckoning we could be looking at...
David Davis - Liam Fox - Malcolm Rifkind - Tim Yeo - Alan Duncan - Michael Ancram - John Redwood - Ken Clarke - William Hague - David Cameron - Theresa May - David Willetts - John Bercow - Andrew Lansley - George Osborne
I gather the so-called Modernisers are meeting tonight to decide on their preferred candidate. I suspect that in the absence of strong candidate they will throw their weight behind Malcolm Rifkind. That should do for him, then.
I think Michael Howard has made a major mistake by announcing he will step down in this way. We're now going to have several months of leadership stories when what we should be doing is concentrating our fire on a very unstable Labour government. It is clear that the rule changes will take several months to agree, so this could go on way past the Party conference in October. Madness.
It won't surprise you to know that I shall be backing David Davis. His vision of modern Conservativism is one I believe will not only be attractive within the Party but outside too. He's the only one of the candidates who I believe can reach out beyond the Party and attract Labour & LibDem voters.