Monday, May 09, 2005

Runners & Riders

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.


Anonymous said...

A very wise move. DD is known to help his friends out. However, he is the most credible of the candidates. The so called modernisers, seem to want to turn us into a Lib/Lab mixture. The problem is not our policies on the whole (though some need changing) but our image.

Druss said...

Shame we are losing Howard. Still thats the way it go's. The Labour party said that we may wake up with Michael Howard, alas we woke up with John "pink gin" Prescott & Blair.

Anonymous said...

Davis, as Conservative Leader, would be the first, in a long time, to actually look like a potential Prime Minister.

I know that might sound rather shallow, but I think appearances and charisma really do count more than anything else, in today's political climate. Luckily, it seems he also has the substance to back it up.

To put it bluntly, Hague was funny but misguided and IDS had a name like a Pret a Manger sandwich.

For all that Howard is deeply affected ("peepole"), he has done a marvelous job in restoring morale and bringing the party back into contention - he really is to be congratulated.

But now is the crucial moment, and, as you so rightly say, why so many are bothering to hint at their standing is absurd. It's basically Fox vs Davis. And I reckon Davis is the man.

As I say, the modern electorate goes on gut instinct and, if you were to stand Fox and Davis side by side, it wouldn't take the brains of the Archbishop to spot the man with Number 10 written all over him.

I just worry that Fox will refuse to accept the inevitable and cause a stink the party could do without.


PS. I am only 'anonymous' because I haven't a 'Blooger' account, whatever one of those is... my name is actually Trevor Cape.

Guido Fawkes Esq. said...

DD will wipe the floor with Fox.

But is DD the man for the moment? I'd like to see a fuller debate and a wider candidate trawl...

Anonymous said...

I suppose the only problem with fuller debate and candidate trawling is that it takes time, is done in the glare of the media spotlight, and tends to bring out the worst in all concerned.

Howard was ushered in without a fuss - and for once the party didn't look like a bunch of in-fighting idiots.

Who is there, really, other than David Davis, who could legitimately take over? If there were a strong contender - any contender - then debate and trawling would make sense, but what's the point in all the runners up thrashing it out for no reason other than petty point scoring?

It seems the only other person of potential leadership calibre on 'the list' is George Osborne, but he is half a generation too early, as things stand. One for the future, no doubt, just not quite yet.

But whatever happens, the decision surely needs to be as clean, quick and positive as possible. The party cannot afford to go back to a slanging match, not lose the initiative by wasting many months on revising the mechanics of electing a new leader, if it's not even needed.


Theo Spark said...

I hate to say it but I don't think any of the'candidates' have what it takes. To rush in another leader right now could prove fatal for the party. Michael Howard's actions are disgraceful.

Barbara said...

I am sorry, but to the ordinary man/woman in the street, David Davis will be a complete turn off.

I am a LibDem and so probably not worth listening to as far as you are concerned, but I really do have a feel for these things. But go ahead and have David Davis, you will do our party a real favour.

Best wishes.

Barbara - Horning

malcolm said...

I too am very sorry Michael Howard is resigning.I had hoped that he would stay until there had been some very detailed analysis into yet another heavy defeat.
As regards the potential leaders my main hope is that they conduct themselves with dignity and always remember that the interests of the Conservative party are more important than personal ambition.
Whoever it is will, I think have to lead the Conservative party through considerable change.We have to be able to appeal to the average apolitical fairminded person who must be given reasons to vote Conservative.
In this we totally failed during this campaign.

Iain Dale said...

Taking the comments in order...

Anonymous - it is both the policies AND the image. We need to have a wider appeal and less of the dogma, as well as improving our appeal.

Druss - Quite!

Anonymous Trevor - I agree with virtually all of what you say, although I personally think Rifkind will be a more viable opponent to DD than Fox. Especially if he has the support of the so-called Modernisers - although why they would think MR is a moderniser is quite beyond me.

Guido - Agree, and he is.

Anonymous - The last thing we need is a prolonged period of navel (naval?!) gazing. We need to be looking out, not in.

Thoesparks - You're entitled to your opinion.

Barbara - LibDems are certainly worth listening to as we want them back. I don't happen to agree with you and I think you misjudge DD's appeal, but we'll see. Nice to see you on the blog, Barbara - regards to Norman!

Malcolm - Well said.

DM Andy said...

Surely anyone who wants to be Tory leader at the moment needs psychiatric care.

Iain Dale said...

Andy, I think I had better not comment!

Bishop Hill said...


I know what you're saying, but of course it depends on your view of the economy. If it turns bad, as some say it will, then Labour could be put on the back foot. How much more tax are the punters willing to pay?

Robb said...

In your reply to Barbara lies the failure of "modern/old fashioned/generally confused" Conservatism. You do not yet grasp that the current level of Lib Dem support [up to 25% nationally] are now deep rooted liberal Democrats embracing with ghusto the philosophical ideals of the party. When in Norfolk you fought such a negative anti Lib Dem campaign by sneering at Lib Dems at every opportunity you were sneering at these people. They resented it because, in Norman Lamb and the Lib Dem dominated District Council, they were seeing Liberal Democracy in action and had embraced it. When you sneered at Liberal Democrats it was as though you were sneering at at their family and beliefs. That is partly why you suffered such a humiliating defeat. That is also why, unless there is a change in the psyche of the Conservative thinking it will fade into oblivion. Changing policies is easy, changing how people think and act requires a good dose of cognative behavioural analysis and sadly for much of the Conservative Party their arrogance and supposition of natural righteousness blinds them to the truth.

Iain Dale said...

Not sure how you interpret my reply to Barbara in that way. Re-read it! LibDem support is 22%, not 25%. Wishful thinking on your part. Norman Lamb's victory owed much more to Norman Lamb than any embracing of the Liberal Democrats. Most people in North Norfolk certainly do not embrace the LibDem run Council! I do not believe I 'sneered' at anyone. And Robb, I suggest you look at the supreme arrogrance displayed in your own email before you start criticising me for it!

Anonymous said...

Haven't the Lib Dems won all three district council by-elections since assuming control? And the county elections in North Norfolk on the same day as the General Election?

I think Robb's broad point was that Tories use the language of wanting Lib Dem (and New Labour) voters to "come back" as they were errant children. You need to appreciate that the challenge is not to get natural Conservatives back in line but to win over people who now see themselves as solid Lib Dems and Labour supporters - some may have voted Tory in 1992 but that is ancient history.

Anonymous said...

Robb may also be right (for once) that your campaign made a serious mistake. It often sounded as if you were shouting "YOU CAN'T VOTE FOR THEM YOU MORONS! THEY ARE LIBERAL SCUM!" which is quite a good way to make people vote Lib Dem just to spite you.

Your other key campaign line - to paraphrase "WHAT HAS NORMAN LAMB EVER DONE FOR US?" - was also catastrophic. It reminded me of Monty Python's "What have the Romans ever done for us?" and invited a similar response.

I know people have sent commiserations over the past week - not unreasonably because nobody can say you did not put body and soul into it. But you also need to appreciate that Lamb got the biggest swing to him of any sitting MP in Britain (I think) which means, basically, that your result was the worst result for any challenger anywhere in the country, which is sobering to say the least.

Robb said...

How dare you - what do you mean "for once"??????
You probably still have a future politically Iain but should always remember people judge you by what you do - not by what you say you do? That was a major problem for you against probably the best constituency MP around - I didn't envy you!

Anonymous said...

Who on earth is this Robb chap? There really is no need to get your knickers in a twist, dear boy... save it for Points of View!

If you have a point to make - and a good one - surely you can make it without all the snottiness?!

Trevor Cape

PS I really must get one of these Blogger things - I don't want to look like some anonymous person sniping from the shadows.

Iain Dale said...

Robb is a Liberal Democrat District Councillor in North Norfolk.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said... Betsy.

Merseymike said...

Iain, I'm a Labour voter.

And I desperately want the Tories to select Davis. Another right wing leader to appeal to the core vote.

Go for someone socially liberal, like David Cameron. or John Bercow - oh, hold on, he's going to join the Labour party, isn't he (I wish he would!)