This extended post is based on interviews with senior MPs and advisers to each of the main leadership camps.
Few of the friends that contemplated David Cameron’s leadership bid
expected anything other than a Davis victory. Their hearts wanted
‘Dave’ to win but their heads told them that 2005 was really about
positioning for another battle, four or five years’ time. There were
times when some friends almost threw in the towel. Cheerleaders at The
Times lost heart in the middle of September and used a leader column to
suggest that it might soon be wise to team up with a bigger beast.
Simultaneously some of Cameron’s closest lieutenants were complaining
about their candidate’s unwillingness to take risks.
David Cameron’s leadership hopes were transformed just days later. Two
compelling performances – first at his campaign launch and then the now
famous Blackpool speech – transformed his public standing. He was no
longer the little boat at the mercy of powerful currents and the swell
of larger craft; he was the supertanker candidate on course for
victory. But Mr Cameron was far from being the sole architect of his
victory. Michael Howard and David Davis also played very considerable
HOW DAVIS-ITES PLANNED TO NO-CONFIDENCE MICHAEL HOWARD
A few days before May 5th’s General Election Michael Howard learnt that
supporters of David Davis were beginning to collect the signatures that
would trigger a parliamentary vote of no-confidence. If he hadn’t
resigned by the weekend after polling day, the Sunday newspapers would
be full of talk of an impending challenge to his leadership.
In third place are the newspapers. This wasn't a good contest for them. The Telegraph followed opinion in the Tory party. It didn't lead it. It only endorsed Mr Cameron after it was clear he had already won. The Mail tried to get Ken Clarke elected and failed. It also failed to ignite the drugs row. The Sun was peripheral. The right-wing press never got their act together in this election contest and are unlikely to be as feared/ respected/ as influential ever again.
In second place I'm going to award the internet. I think this site and other bloggers have often been ahead of the newspapers but, much more importantly, have been the pollsters and YouGov, the internet pollster, in particular. I'll publish the full results of ConservativeDemocracy.com's survey soon (you can still take part by the way) but the lead reason for people voting for Mr Cameron was that they thought he was popular with the public. The Davis team were reportedly devastated by the YouGov poll of the weekend after conference which showed such a big swing to Mr Cameron.
In first place I'm awarding Nick Robinson, BBC's Political Editor, and Tom Bradby, his successor at ITN. Bradby, in particular, led the reporting of DD's conference speech. It bombed and it bombed badly he told the public (anh interpretation that still infuriates the Davis-ites). These two talking heads - and the production/editorial teams behind them - had big influences on this contest and will continue to be very big players in politics for the next few years (at least until the blogosphere really hits its potential heights).
PS Iain Dale, Chief of Staff to DD, has posted that camp's own awards results here.
Runner-up is Liam Fox for his heartfelt emphasis on human rights. Conservatives need ideas to inspire a new generation to become Conservatives. This is such an idea and is discussed in the PS to this post.
The winner of the Big Idea Award is David Willetts. After his allegedly wobbly support for DD in recent weeks it is too easy to forget the thoughtful contributions he made to the debate in the early months of the leadership race. His big idea was that smaller government could more sustainably be achieved by reducing the demand for government - rather than the supply. I wrote this about DW's idea in a July article for The Times:
“Up until now the formulaic Conservative response [to the bloated size of government] has been to identify ever more detailed ways of reducing the supply of government services — Michael Howard’s carefully costed James review being the latest failed attempt to persuade voters that there are painless ways of slimming government bureaucracies.
The breakthrough insight… is to approach the problem from the opposite side of the equation. The problem of fat government can be cracked… by first thinking of ways of reducing the demand for government. Reduce demand and the supply problem takes care of itself. The public will never vote for cuts in state services until they are convinced that those services are no longer needed. Voters may be unhappy at the performance of the welfare state but they will support its continuation until there are fewer needy people or until vulnerable people can call upon superior sources of care.
Social breakdown is a leading cause of higher government spending. A Conservative programme to reverse this breakdown is urgently needed, therefore, to address the crime-ridden estates, weak extended families and substance abuse that have all created chronic forms of dependency.
Social reform is not only the right way to reduce the long-term size of government, it is also the road to social justice.”
IDS gets his third of the award for being ahead of his time. During his curtailed leadership he said that the party must become the champion of the vulnerable. It was a theme that few understood at first and which his successor largely abandoned. But all of this contest's participants spoke at his Centre for Social Justice (in which I must declare an involvement) and David Cameron's big theme is 'modern compassionate conservatism'.
William Hague only had to be mentioned at a hustings meeting to raise a cheer. Likely to be back to frontbench politics as Shadow Foreign Secretary the party will have a devout Eurosceptic and supporter of the war on terror in charge of Tory international policy. Let's hope - with the shadow development spokesman - he'll also be committed to tackling issues of global injustice and take forward Liam Fox's human rights agenda...
Michael Howard shares the award because he oversaw a lengthy leadership process which has given the party new heart. There wasn't a rush to elect a leader as many Tory MPs had demanded. What has resulted is a very creative process at the end of which pollsters have found that the public thinks that we are more united than Labour. That hasn't been true for a very long time. I'm in a generous mood today and so am going to overlook the fact that this lengthy process is at least as much by accident as design. Michael Howard engineered the length of process by trying to take the vote away from members. He failed in that attempt but we'll forgive him given the new spirit of party unity.
This is a pretty lean awards category. David Cameron, in particular, largely eschewed detailed policy ideas - preferring grand themes. When it came to policy he chose the reverse gear - on tuition fees and the patients passport, for example. David Davis had a few ideas but they hardly captured the public imagination.
Leaving the EPP was clearly the most controversial policy idea and I'll give it third place. I'm not entirely sure if it qualifies as a policy, however. You can see how hard this category is.
Joint second place will go to George Osborne and his belief in flatter taxation. He has set up a committee that will report in due course... Mr Osborne can share second place with David Davis' growth rule - an approach that would have cut taxes by £38bn over the course of a parliament.
First place must go to David Cameron's phonics policy - already accepted by the besieged Ruth Kelly. Fast work, Mr Cameron. This really is government by proxy and will help tens of thousands of children to read.
I promised 'on the hour, every hour' and this post is a bit late... I blame a verrrrry loooooong Christmas cards queue in the post office. But moving on...
Joint third place is awarded to James Hellyer. Not popular with everyone but I love James' tenacity and he and I were on the same side at the start of the race in supporting Fox. I'm also awarding Watlington for his excellent Social Affairs Unit postings.
Second place goes to Guido Fawkes. Always irreverend Guido was very rude about your Editor once (Taliban Timmy!) but his idea of naming DD as Basher deserves applause.
But top spot goes to DD4Leader blogger Wat Tyler. Wat's man may not have won the race but he provided us with endless amusement and insight. Thank you Wat. We will miss you... or will you return in another form?
This is the one awards category where the Davis-ites sweep the board.
In third place is Mr Davis himself with his wristband generation speech. Some visitors to this site were a bit sniffy about the idea but Davis (and IDS who originally provided the idea) know that people don't vote out of crude interest alone; they vote for a party that is 'good for them and for their neighbour'. The party must pass what David Davis called the Decency Test. DC certainly passes it but DD put it very well.
In second place is Paul Goodman MP's recent Platform blog. Mr Goodman suggested that the Tories - led by Mr Cameron - might rejoin the establishment. Mr Cameron certainly seems to be inching much closer to the establishment's views on issues like the environment, taxation and civil liberties. Some of us don't welcome that and will be vigilant against it.
"If I became leader of this party I wouldn’t spend half of this parliament setting up commissions. I already know what I believe. I believe today what I believed six months ago. I believed six months ago what I believed five years ago. I know that Britain’s economy needs lower and simpler taxes and the first budget of the next Conservative government must begin to deliver them... And I know that free trade, good governance and property rights are the key to progress in the third world. I will spend all of this parliament explaining those beliefs to the British people. Some of them may not look popular now but time and the facts are on our side. This parliament is still young. I have the determination to spend the whole of this parliament selling an authentic, socially-just conservatism to the British people. In the last two parliaments our policies became as timid as the limited time we gave ourselves to sell them. There will be serious policy development under my leadership but I’m not willing to spend three years in a policy vacuum – and spent one year filling it. Our main policy priorities need to be communicated and explained now. The role of free trade in making poverty history will be a top priority."
On the Patients Passport and tax Mr Cameron has sometimes appeared reluctant to sell difficult ideas to the British public. I hope Mr Cameron's leadership won't be characterised by Major-like caution. We'll soon see.
When you are dealing with the world's least trustworthy electorate - the Conservative Parliamentary Party - there are many candidates for this award but I've restricted myself to three awards (and four individuals).
In joint third place are MPs John Maples and Anne Main. Mr Maples actually wrote an endorsement of DD for this site and was responsible for planning Mr Davis' Blackpool programme... but he failed to vote for the Shadow Home Secretary. New MP Anne Main also defected from Camp Davis. She announced her defection on Radio 4 and without even telling Mr Davis.
In second place is John Bercow. At the end of September Mr Bercow said that "Eton, hunting, shooting and lunch at Whites" made David Cameron the wrong man for the job. Mr Bercow was then supporting Ken Clarke. Guess who he supported soon afterwards?
But the overall winner is Alan Duncan. Today's Sun reminds us of his shameless opportunism. Remember that attack on Mr Cameron as having overreached himself?
Mr Duncan's advice to Mr Cameron was "go away and leave it to the big boys". At that time Mr Duncan was privately backing Mr Davis. After DC's Blackpool speech Mr Duncan obviously decided that Mr Cameron had grown up and threw his weight behind the new frontrunner.
Throughout the rest of today - on the hour, every hour until I run out of award ideas! - ConservativeHome will be presenting its Awards Of the Contest (notice the glittering golden writing).
The first Award is for The Biggest Moment/ Event.
In third place is the Cornerstone Dinner at which David Davis underperformed and Liam Fox excelled. From then on Dr Fox began actively courting the right-wing MPs who could have otherwise underpinned DD's candidacy.
In second place is the Question Time debate. Although David Davis won the debate (according to readers of this blog who reflect the overall bias to Cameron) it was not enough to halt David Cameron's already established and 'big' momentum.
He had that 'big mo' because of his performance in Blackpool. DC's speech to the Blackpool Party Conference is ConservativeHome.com's Event of the Leadership Race. Leo McKinstry - writing for today's Express - says Mr Cameron possesses "astonishing eloquence":
"Some critics have dismissed his fluency as a showy irrelevance but, given that politics is all about communication, it is a vital asset and one that his inarticulate rival David Davis did not possess".
Yesterday's newspapers buzzed with reshuffle speculation but today's Guardian and Telegraph suggest that the stories were completely unauthorised. A "furious" David Cameron is said to be particularly concerned at suggestions that David Davis was to be demoted from his Shadow Home Secretary post - in favour of Liam Fox. Both newspapers report Cameron aides blaming Fox supporters for the briefings. An aide to Mr Cameron told The Telegraph: "There is absolutely no desire to humiliate or demote David Davis. He has made clear that he wants a shadow cabinet of all the talents."
It will be essential for Mr Cameron to quickly strengthen his press team in order for similar speculation to be better controlled in future.
The MoS is the only Tory newspaper not to have endorsed David Cameron but they come close to doing so today in a leading article (not online) entitled "At last, a Tory who is capable of turning the tide".
The leader states:
"After eight years of circling hopelessly in the wilderness, the Conservative Party seems at last to have found a direction which may take it back to power... We do not really know very much about Mr Cameron except that he is new. Many of his ideas seem vaguely Leftish... But to many his detailed plans matter a great deal less than the fact that he is not Mr Blair, and his party is not New Labour."
The MoS believes that we could be close to one of those rare turning points in British politics "when the government is weary, and when a fresh generation is growing ready to take over." It pinpoints 1964's election of Harold Wilson - replacing "the dreary staleness of the Tory cabinet". The 1979 Thatcher victory. And, of course, the dawn of New Labour in 1997.
Turn over the page, however, and MoS columnist Peter Hitchens sees David Cameron as more of a continuity man - rather than a turning point.
Hitchens, author of The Abolition of Britain, argues that from 1970 to 1974 and from 1979 to 1997 the Tory governments only made "a few misleading noises" about reversing the socially revolutionary Labour policies of the 1960s. "Marriage was not defended," he says, "grammar schools were not reopened, the anti-family welfare state was not slowed and crime was not fought. The EU's tentacles were allowed to wriggle into every corner of our lives".
Hitchens has called Tony Blair Princess Tony ever since the PM's allegedly cloying tribute to the late Princess Diana. Princess Tory is his new name for David Cameron. Cameron and the Tory elite "would rather be loved by The Guardian than by the oppressed, ignored people who foolishly trust them":
"So Mr Cameron, slashing away any last signs of conservatism, will turn his party into a middle-class, Southern versiuon of New Labour... The task of creating a real Opposition is put off once again, perhaps until it is too late."
There is all sorts of gossipy speculation about David Cameron's first shadow cabinet including a suggestion in The Sunday Telegraph that Alan Duncan will be given a big job:
"The diminutive and dapper MP for Rutland and Melton has had a chequered front bench career, edging closer to one of the popular portfolios. Mr Duncan, 48, is currently shadow transport secretary. The wait for a post that will allow him to shine could be near an end, however, as Mr Cameron is said to have the highest regard for his relaxed, televisual style and appeal to younger voters. He was the first Tory MP openly to declare himself gay."
The consensus points to Osborne staying as Shadow Chancellor, Hague returning as Shadow Foreign Secretary and Fox moving to Home affairs.
Davis is expected to be demoted to Defence - a position he may refuse. Replacing Davis with Fox will be controversial but one Cameroonie tells The Telegraph:
"Davis's reputation has fallen dramatically. There is no question in our minds that the leader of the Right is now Liam Fox."
The Davis-ites might be mollified with jobs for Davis allies. Damian Green and Andrew Mitchell may be kept sweet with top jobs, for example. The highly-regarded Nick Herbert, and close friend of Mr Davis, may also be given a junior role.
Oliver Letwin will oversee a comprehensive policy review and may also retain the environment portfolio. This will be a controversial appointment as Mr Letwin's support for Kyoto environmentalism and his cautious approach to tax policies are strongly opposed by let-the-economy-grow conservatives. Only yesterday sixty business leaders warned that Labour's tax rises threatened long-term decline for the UK economy.
Theresa May, Caroline Spelman and Boris Johnson are all expected to get big promotions.
Francis Maude is expected to stay as Chairman and will pursue a radical approach to candidate selection. This may include a gold list of candidates for the most important target seats.
The Right will be watching to see if their leading lights are included around the top table. If there are shadow cabinet positions for the likes of John Hayes and John Redwood the Right will be happy. Many on the Right remember how John Major sidelined right-wing MPs after he was re-elected Tory leader in 1995 after defeating Mr Redwood in a confidence vote.
The Observer reports that Mr Cameron will begin his leadership with a speech heavy on themes, light on detail. He will stress optimism, public services, climate change, social justice, social enterprise and work-life balance.
Interviewed for today's FT
George Osborne attempts to lower expectations of (a) the scale of David
Cameron's victory over David Davis and (b) the nature of any honeymoon.
Osborne predicts that the victory over Mr Davis will "be closer than
people think" and not a "walkover" (today's two surveys of opinion amongst Tory members suggest a
two-to-one victory). He says that anyone who expects that there will
be a "complete turnaround in the political environment which has
existed in this country for ten years... is going to be disappointed."
"I think this is going to be a long hard slog," he predicts.
Osborne's long, hard slog will begin on Monday when he responds to the
Chancellor's pre-Budget report. Mr Osborne's message will be 'Blame it
on Brown' - 'it' being "poor productivity, investment, skills and
transport infrastructure". David Cameron may be promising less 'Punch
& Judy' politics but there is a lot of punch in Osborne's
assessment of Gordon Brown:
“It’s very difficult to have any kind of relationship with him as the
shadow . . . Perhaps the prime minister’s people put it best when they
said he had psychological flaws. In my dealings with him he’s just
pretty unpleasant and brutal. That character may have suited him in the
job he holds at the moment but it will not be what people want in a
Writing for The Times after last year's Republican Convention George Osborne noted how Bush used surrogates to attack his principal opponents. Mr Cameron may be unleashing Mr Osborne as his surrogate against Mr Brown whilst remaining above the fray himself.
Cameron and Osborne - who is now strongly expected to stay shadow chancellor
- are often compared to Blair and Brown. Mr Osborne believes that they
represent tomorrow's fresh start in a similar way to that represented
by New Labour in 1997:
"Gordon Brown looks like a figure from the past, and
we're going to look like figures from the future... We're of a new
generation... We learnt our trade in opposition, we were never
government ministers, we don't yearn for the old days."
Mr Brown appears aware of this threat and in today's Independent Andrew Grice suggests (payment required for access) that he will "reinvent himself". Grice says that Tories will be presented as a leap in the dark whilst he will be the candidate of "continuity and change" - offering "a re-energised leadership and experience, moving beyong Blairism by building on its successes." ConservativeHome expects Mr Brown to attempt to fashion and then lead a domestic equivalent of the Make Poverty History campaign.
An article in Saturday's Guardian
by the always interesting Martin Kettle warns against a strategy that
presents Brown as a "block to progress": "Brown's vulnerability is in
the way he works. Attack him as a control freak whose plans don't work."
A YouGov/ Telegraph survey of 661 current members of the Conservative Party suggests that David Cameron will be the next Conservative leader and that he will win an overwhelming majority. YouGov predicts that Mr Cameron will win 67% of the vote, against Mr Davis' 33%.
That result echoes that of this site's new Conservative Members' Panel. New members are still being recruited to this panel but the 'who would you most like to be the next leader of the Conservative Party?' question produced overwhelming support for David Cameron. Before the panel was promoted to non-visitors to this site, 848 Tory members had joined it. 552 said that they were voting for David Cameron and 249 for David Davis. Excluding the don't knows this gives David Cameron 69% of the vote and 31% for David Davis.
ConservativeHome's panel is much younger than the Conservative membership as a whole and can only be taken as indicative at this stage.
If the two surveys are more or less accurate Mr Cameron is set to secure a huge victory over his opponent. If Mr Davis secures only 30% of the vote Mr Cameron's advisers will be encouraging the new leader to demote him to a position like Defence (many visitors to this site predicted as much in their Fantasy Shadow Cabinets). Mr Cameron faces 'congestion' in his shadow cabinet decisions with George Osborne, Liam Fox, William Hague and Mr Davis all leading candidates for the top three portfolios of Chancellor, Foreign affairs and Home affairs.
If Mr Davis performs surprisingly well - 40% and more - he will be impossible to move.
I spoke to one Davis supporter yesterday and asked what would happen if Mr Davis was given the Defence portfolio. He predicted that it wouldn't be accepted. "Offence more likely," he joked. I think he was joking...
You can expect the profiles of David Cameron to come thick and fast now. Last night's Channel Four News was quick off the mark with a brief profile and you can watch that by clicking here.
Today's Indy offers an eight page pullout profile by Malcolm Macalister Hall and, unusually, for features in that newspaper it's all online.
The most interesting section of the interview/ profile, which is stuffed full of insights into DC's personality, comes in a section when the former TV PR man rejects the idea that the Conservative Party has an obvious Clause IV or can be rebranded with a simple name change:
"Some people have suggested adding a word, but I don't think it's actually the answer. I mean, look at Tesco - that used to be the cheap crappy supermarket, and over time it's transformed itself, and it didn't change its name."
David Cameron proposes a three stage process of change:
(1) "It's about making sure the party reflects the country; which is about the representation of women, and appealing to young people, and getting back into the cities." (2) "It's expanding the policy portfolio to encompass things like climate change." (3) "And the third thing is all the key principles, and trying to explain what they mean today: that 'low taxes' doesn't mean tax cuts for the rich - it means keeping taxes down to have a competitive economy and jobs for all."
This ConservativeHome leadership site will close down some time next week and I'm thinking about what might replace it. The site will still exist in archived form as a comprehensive guide to the leadership race for historians etc but it won't be updated anymore.
I'm thinking of a new blog focusing on 'everything Tory' - the party leadership, local council by-election results and developments in the Welsh party, for example - OR a blog that focuses on the new leader (ie David Cameron) - his appointments, his first 100 days, every big speech and interview etc.
What would you prefer? Please express your preferences in the poll and use the comments option to make specific points.
In Wednesday's Times Daniel Finkelstein called for a more positive and hopeful Conservative Party. I couldn't agree more with his premise. I've long admired the Republican Party and the way it has kept faith with Ronald Reagan's morning in America optimism.
British conservatism has not matched that positivity. It has inherited Mrs T's handbagging approach to politics. Daniel Finkelstein, who worked with William Hague from 1997 to 2001, wrote this:
"Without fully realising the choice it was making, the Tory party began to paint the skies black, became the pessimistic party. This country is being strangled by regulation and taxation, criminals are taking over our streets, family life is collapsing, immigration control is a joke, alcoholism and drug abuse is rife, the constitution is crumbling and we are being subsumed in a European super-state. Oh yes, and no one decent can go out after 8 o’clock. Eight years later it seems clear that this choice was the wrong one. And Mr Cameron’s intervention in the Sky debate suggests that he realises it too."
The intervention in last Thursday's Sky debate was recorded by Clive Davis - but more of that in a moment. DF thinks the Tory Party needs to be more hopeful about modern Britain:
"A Blue Skies party might say this — that this country is already prosperous but untold opportunities lie ahead for all if we build a flexible low-tax economy; that one of the greatest advances in social policy of the last 30 years is that we now know that crime can be beaten with the right policies and that in other countries this is happening; that immigration can be an immensely positive thing and that assimilated communities have been enormously successful and will continue to be so provided we get the system under control; that many cities outside London are booming and that there is now so much to do after 8 o’clock. I could go on, but you get the idea."
James Hellyer - a blogger for DD - authors the final (2,000 word) Hustings Report. I formally thank all of the volunteer reporters who have, by their sterling work, contributed to ConservativeHome's campaign for a more transparent and democratic Conservative Party.
The final hustings meeting took place in the less than salubrious environment of Exeter’s Livestock market. I’m not sure who selected an outdoor covered area for a night time meeting in late December, where a large contingent of elderly people were expected to attend, but they won’t be winning any prizes from Age Concern. The cold was widely noted, with even David Cameron joking that he’d lost feeling in his toes by the end of the evening!
This little bit of local colour aside, the rest of the hustings would have been eerily familiar to anyone who had read even one of the previous reports filed on this site. As at the earlier meetings, there seem to have been rather more David Davis supporters handing out leaflets than there were supporters doing likewise for the Cameron campaign – although this may be attributable to the cold finishing off the t-shirt clad Cameroons.
Everything else also seemed present and correct: David Cameron joking that the two Davids has spent so much time together they were thinking of entering a civil partnership; David Davis joking that after all this exposure together “Hello” magazine wanted a joint interview; Cameron boasting that he’d “really had Paxman”; and William Aitken sporting a “Modern Conservatives” t-shirt.
The sense of déjà vu didn’t dissipate as the night wore one. Davis’s speech was the best platform performance I’d seen him give, while Cameron seemed typically fluent. However, every substantive point of both man’s speech has already been amply covered. In summary, Davis made a plea for substance over image, conviction based politics and fighting the government and thus help speed its end. David Cameron offered the familiar platitudes about change, optimism and hope, as well as the need to reflect the country we want to govern. The key difference between the two was Cameron’s belief that we should support government bills we agree with, and Davis’s belief that we should not back bad bills, and that we should instead hasten Blair’s end.
I hope all readers have now taken part in ConservativeHome's first regular survey of opinion amongst Tory members and supporters. The survey will probably pose new questions every month or so. Please consider forwarding information about the poll to other Tories you know so that we can maximise the sample size.
I'm currently drafting questions for the second survey that will go live in the next few days. I want to use this second set of questions to explore why people voted for David Davis or David Cameron and what they expect from the incoming leader.
As a believer in the wisdom of crowds I would be interested in your thoughts on what should be asked...
"Data was an artificial lifeform designed to resemble a human, with a positronic brain. He was roughly the counterpart of Spock from the original series in that he had a rational, analytical mind and found humans hard to understand, yet was drawn to the concept of humanity. (He also found Vulcan perspectives regarding logic and stoicism rather limiting.) This desire, combined with his honesty and apparent innocence about the reality around him, charmed viewers and made him one of the most popular characters of the series."
Mr Cameron has already been compared to Frodo and that comparison caused J R R Tolkien to nominate other leading Tories for Lord Of The Rings parts.
My guess is that there are a lot of Trekkies amongst this blog's readership. Any suggestions for which Tories are akin to other Star Trek characters.
The excellent Yorkshire Post newspaper has provided extensive and fair coverage of the leadership election. It recently gave both contenders space on the comment pages to make their pitches and last week gave Freddie Forsyth the opportunity to put the case for DD and against DC.
The Post has supported the Conservative Party in the past but has struggled to find much enthusiasm in recent years. It sat on the fence in 2001 and merely urged its readers to vote for a smaller Labour majority at this year's General Election.
Although David Davis represents a Yorkshire seat the newspaper has rejected the local Heineken candidate and plumped for Mr Cameron in today's leader column:
"Mr Davis has fought a pugnacious campaign. He has carefully delineated policies which are dear to his heart and, indeed, dear to many of the Tory members on whose decision his future rests. Tough on crime, naturally Eurosceptic and with an instinctive belief in the moral virtues of low taxes, the Haltemprice and Howden MP has strained every sinew in his attempt to show how his policy agenda can take his party forward. But he has failed. All the soundings suggest that, even in his native Yorkshire, where he should expect to be much further ahead than he is, his message has not hit home. Although it might be thought that the former front-runner has far more in common with grassroots Conservatism than does Mr Cameron, it seems that this particular electorate has other ideas.
There can be no clearer indication that those who form the backbone of the party are now ready to embrace the outside world. Three times now the Conservatives have picked leaders whose strength was their appeal to the party's core vote and three times those leaders have failed. If the Tories are to broaden their appeal sufficiently to stand a chance of gaining power, the man best equipped for that task is Mr Cameron. Ever since he stole a march on Mr Davis with a party-conference speech that was both eloquent and thoughtful, the Shadow Education Secretary has consistently stayed ahead of his rival. He has been helped, of course, by a natural charisma, which is unfortunately necessary for a successful party leader in this mass-media age and which Mr Davis does not possess.
But there is more to Mr Cameron than image. He believes that the Conservatives can become a truly national party again not by abandoning their core beliefs, but by making them relevant to the modern world. In the task of cajoling non-Conservatives to embrace the party, rather than merely exciting existing party members, Mr Cameron appears to have the intellectual and persuasive skills that will be necessary. This is not to say that this inexperienced politician does not have much to prove, notably in the detailed formulation of policy. Choosing Mr Cameron as leader is not without risks. But risk is what the Conservative Party has to embrace if it is to prove its relevance to a 21st-century electorate."
Cllr John Jenkins, Deputy Chairman of Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire Conservative Association, authors this report from the Welsh Hustings. Later today, James Hellyer will submit the final report - for the Exeter meeting.
The Celtic Manor Hotel in Newport played host to the penultimate hustings of the seemingly never-ending Conservative leadership contest. Both candidates were quick to deploy the racing metaphor of 'entering the final straight' and, predictably, trotted out the tried and tested lines that both candidates were seeing more of each other then their respective wives, cue David Cameron's civic partnership joke, met with groans rather than laughs, suggesting the assembled masses of the Welsh Conservative Party had heard it before somewhere.
To say that the two Davids came to Wales to 'slug it out' would be rather disingenuous as at times the event seemed to be more of a love-in than a battle to the bitter end, all-or-nothing, death-or-glory which the soothsayers in the media predicted such a contest would be. I lost count the number of times the two Davids said they agreed with each other and the amount of times they both - although Cameron said it most - that there was more that unites the two candidates than divides them.
The text below has been submitted exclusively to ConservativeHome by Iain Duncan Smith:
"This leadership race has been good for the Conservative Party. It has been conducted with civility and humour. That is to the enormous credit of both of the final two contenders. The Conservative Party has been in the national eye and the public have liked what it has seen. The party looks fresher than it has done for a long time. It certainly appears more united than an increasingly fractious and discredited Labour Government.
The other great achievements of the last six months have been that the Conservative Party looks more democratic and that it has renewed its one nation tradition.
The battle for internal party democracy that defined much of the early months of this contest was won by the democrats. It was essential that we won. A party that champions localism in the public services and democracy across the world could not deny its own members a say in its most important internal decision. The involvement of party members has certainly enriched the contest. The leadership wasn’t decided behind the closed doors of MPs’ offices. The leadership candidates had to appeal to party members in every part of the country – to Conservatives in seats held by the party and in regions where we have no representation. The enfranchisement of rank-and-file members made Blackpool the most exciting conference for many years. Imagine how it would have been if we had kept it amongst MPs?
The Conservative Party’s commitment to democracy must not stop here, however. Still bigger strides are necessary if we are to become a truly open party. Theresa May, as my Party Chairman, began a process of open primary selection for parliamentary seats. We need more of that openness to the views of the people we need to win elections.
The other great advance of this leadership election has been the renewal of the party’s one nation tradition. All of the major candidates have spoken at my Centre for Social Justice and have seasoned their platforms with commitments to Britain’s most vulnerable people. Liam Fox championed the mentally ill and women who have been victims of domestic violence. Ken Clarke described the impact of public service failure on the poorest families. David Davis outlined an international justice agenda that would appeal to the wristband generation. David Cameron launched the CSJ’s Alliance of poverty-fighting organisations and has promised support for a new era of social entrepreneurship.
Labour has failed to tackle our nation’s deepest forms of poverty. Its indifference to the stability produced by marriage and its confused drugs policies have undermined structure in communities. Gordon Brown’s stealth taxes and benefits maze have undermined incentives to work. There has rarely been a greater need for one nation Conservatism.
Throughout this process I have listened carefully to each of the candidates and consulted many of the voluntary groups that are part of the CSJ’S Alliance. They have genuinely been encouraged by the emphasis that all of the candidates have placed on social justice. They have enjoyed meeting them and they have felt that they have been listened to.
The whole party has made big promises to society’s poorest people. Those poorest people have turned away from politics because they have been repeatedly failed by here today, gone tomorrow politicians and their promises. Keeping our party’s promises to hard-pressed neighbourhoods is not just about social justice. It’s also about restoring integrity to political life.
I have now cast my ballot after having given every candidate access to the CSJ and its network of poverty-fighters for visits and speeches. That process of full and fair access ended last week. I have voted for David Cameron. It wasn’t an easy decision as I’ve been impressed by David Davis’ candidacy. His policies on patient choice and tuition fees are, for example, close to my own. However, I chose David Cameron after being struck by the growing belief amongst the voluntary groups working in the hardest pressed communities that he is best placed to deliver for them.
After six months of renewed unity and purpose my greatest hope is that the party won’t return to old, destructive ways once this contest is over. The parliamentary party almost needs a year zero. The election of David Cameron offers the party a great chance of a fresh start. He has promised to lead a team of all talents and I hope that that will include a substantial role for David Davis.
Whoever wins, this is the moment that the parliamentary party must to a man and woman determine to give that leader their unstinting support. Of course debate and argument are legitimate as we shape our future direction but this has to be done in the context of support for the leader. There must be no more noises off and personal briefings that have poisoned our party for too long."
According to your Fantasy Cabinet predictions William Hague should be Shadow Chancellor. Today's Guardian suggests that Mr Hague will return as Shadow Foreign Secretary, however. Mr Hague is reported as saying that existing commitments - including a forthcoming book on William Wilberforce - would mean that he would not have the time for the demanding finance portfolio.
If Mr Hague becomes Shadow Foreign Secretary he will be responsible for timetabling the promised exit from the EPP but such an appointment would deprive Liam Fox of his current - and favoured - post. The obvious place for Dr Fox to go is Shadow Home Affairs but that would mean moving David Davis. The Cameron Camp are waiting to see the scale of their victory before deciding what to do with Mr Davis. If they only win by 60-40 they may have to keep Mr Davis in his current job and, perhaps, give him the deputy leadership if the race ends up even tighter than that. If their margin of victory is bigger than 60-40 they will offer a diminished Mr Davis a lesser portfolio - like defence. Mr Davis may refuse this position and cause Mr Cameron the first major headache of his leadership.
George Osborne, DC's campaign manager, is apparently only prepared to give up the Shadow Chancellorship for Mr Hague. The differences between Mr Cameron and Mr Davis on tax would, in any case, make it difficult for this post to end up in Mr Davis' lap.
If Mr Osborne remains Shadow Chancellor there is an increased possibility that Francis Maude will stay in charge of CCHQ. Today's Telegraph reports a speech in which Mr Maude (a regular contributor to this site's Platform blog) calls on Tories to form a broad alliance with Blairite Labour MPs and Orange Book LibDems in favour of public service reform. Mr Maude echoes Mr Cameron's more consensual approach to opposition.
"Mr Cameron's front-runner status was underlined by a £200,000 bet on him being named leader next Tuesday, said by bookmaker William Hill to be the largest political wager ever taken. At odds of just 25-1 on, the mystery punter, who placed the bet at a Windsor shop, stands to win just £8,000 if he is proved right. William Hill cut the odds on a Cameron victory even further, to 66-1 on, after taking the bet, compared with 14-1 against for former front-runner Mr Davis to win."
Who could be the mystery bidder? Someone from Windsor Castle? We know HM Queen likes a flutter! Or maybe Windsor's millionaire MP Adam Afriye?
Mr Cameron's 66-1 on status comes after The Telegraph revealed that 65.4% of members had now voted.
David Cameron has, this afternoon, announced that some of the country's
leading youth organisations have agreed to come together to help
develop his national school leaver programme.
Mr Cameron's programme would involve school leavers in a few months of community
service. It would enable young people to mix with people from
different backgrounds "and to learn about the realities of life in
different communities". The meeting of youth organisations - including The Prince's Trust, Duke of Edinburgh Awards and Fairbridge - will help Mr Cameron define the nature of a programme that will inevitably be compared with National Service:
Should it be compulsory, or would that diminish its appeal?
If it’s not compulsory, how do we make it universal?
How can we create enough good quality opportunities?
Can we find ways to increase youth volunteering in our public services?
Mr Cameron will say:
"Those voices who are warning us about the dangers of ghettoisation in our country and a disintegrating sense of national cohesion are absolutely right. We need to bring people together and bring Britain together. I think that the best way of bringing people together is to enable them to do things together. To build something together that is of lasting value. I am always struck when asking anyone of my father's generation who did national service by the fact that they tend to reply in a similar way. It was something we all did together - irrespective of who we were, where we lived, where we came from, or what god we worshipped. Today, university is our closest equivalent, with each campus becoming a melting pot mixing together all the elements of our country. But can that ever be enough? Isn't there more we can do to enable young people to come together and give service to their country?"
Mr Cameron clearly sees this programme as emblematic of his big idea of 'shared responsibility':
"This idea, and this approach, goes to the heart of my political philosophy. There’s not a single challenge that’s not best tackled by asking what can we all do about it – government, individuals, families, businesses, voluntary organisations. And that’s the right approach to politics – not waiting around for the government to do things, but bringing people together to make things happen."
Few other Conservative politicians could propose such a programme without being accused of being old-fashioned. But in today's Independent Bruce Anderson thinks that is one of the virtues of David Cameron:
"Mr Cameron can bring the futilities of the modernisation debate to a rapid end, because as soon as he is elected, the party will appear to have modernised. As he is modernity personified, he can devote himself to stressing those traditional Tory values and principles which still resonate with the electorate."
Few cries are more likely to resonate with traditional Tories than 'bring back National Service!'
David Cameron has spoken to the CBI today. His speechwriters have largely re-used his recent speech to the CPS. These are the main themes of the speech:
"It’s essential to reduce taxes on employment and wealth creation in order to enhance our economy’s competitiveness. But I don’t think it’s sensible today to write a Conservative budget for 2009 or 2010, with specific pledges on tax reduction… we don’t whether the economy will be growing or shrinking… we don’t know whether the debt burden will be high or very high… and so increased borrowing to fund tax cuts could put upward pressure on interest rates." PENSIONS
"I’m just about old enough to remember our ‘Double Whammy’ election poster. On pensions, Labour have done it again. First, a craven surrender to the public sector unions on the retirement age. And now, an attempt to sabotage Adair Turner’s pension policy commission. This is no way to run an economy. Your Director-General has accused the Government of "mortgaging Britain’s future for £750 billion" – his estimate of the cost of Alan Johnson’s decision to allow existing public sector workers to retire at 60. I share his – and your – frustration. We need strong political leadership for the long-term. I would respond to the Turner Report on the basis of a number of clear principles. Our policy must be: affordable… reduce means testing and promote a savings culture… be equitable between the public and private sectors… and encourage competition and private provision."
CULTURAL HOSTILITY TO CAPITALISM
"We need to campaign for capitalism. To promote profit. To fight for free trade. To remind, indeed to educate our citizens about the facts of economic life. The message is simple – you cannot win the battle against red tape unless you win the intellectual and cultural battle for open markets."
"There is now an exciting opportunity for a new alliance for EU reform, driven by new leadership on the centre-right. The first priority must be the return of powers over employment and social regulation. This would be the strategic imperative of my European policy."
"The CBI itself has estimated that the costs to employers of transport congestion are around £20 billion a year. Britain now needs a concerted programme of road building, accompanied by the introduction of advanced traffic management methods, including new solutions for road charging based on usage and the time of day. This, along with better market incentives for low or zero-carbon fuel sources, will enable us to meet the need for an efficient transport network while tackling the even more important challenge of climate change."
"We’re not doing enough to nurture the skills and talent of our people. So much potential is being wasted by this Government. A devastating lack of rigour in primary and secondary education. An examination system in which universities and employers have less and less confidence. A complete absence, after eight years in office, of any kind of coherent strategy for vocational education. And universities that are held back by centralised bureaucracy, telling them how much they can spend, what they should teach - and now, even who they should admit."