GOOD WEEK, BAD WEEK (EDITION TWO)
In last week’s first ’good week, bad week’ I awarded the week to Dr Liam Fox. Some read this as a personal endorsement of him. Not necessarily so. I was simply suggesting that I thought he’d had the best week. And as for the ratings (eg +3 or –1) they merely suggest direction. They don’t mean that I think the person with the week’s biggest plus rating is heading the field overall. After a few of these postings, however, I will produce some kind of composite rating as a judgment on the whole campaign. So, without further clarifications… what of this week?
Wat Tyler at David Davis for Leader will be pleased that I am going to give David Davis a +4 rating. Half of this is due to positive stuff by him and half due to the failures of the other candidates. Getting the endorsement of the left-leaning Damian Green (and, in particular, Damian’s one nation-rooted reasons for that endorsement) certainly boosted DD’s claim to be a leader that can unite the whole party. DD’s other positive achievement was his strong opposition to Labour’s Incitement to Religious Hatred legislation (see arguments against this authoritarian legislation here and here). But the other half of the explanation for this week’s strong DD showing is the failure of another candidate to lead the opposition to him. The chasing pack is still impossibly wide.
David Cameron (no change on the week) still looks most likely to lead the Stop-Davis-Coalition. The week started well for him with endorsements from Boris Johnson, George Osborne and Oliver Letwin but he has failed to pick up momentum within the wider parliamentary party.
The contest’s third David - David Willetts (+1) - has done okay this week. London’s Evening Standard reports that he may have twenty parliamentary backers. This may be a little exaggerated but DW has now assembled an inner team run by another of parliament's nicest people - Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary, David Lidington MP. DW also won the backing of the FT’s Philip Stephens. On Tuesday, Mr Stephens said that DW was the only contender who was asking the right questions and providing answers. Mr Willetts’ candour, he went on, would appeal to the AB social groups that were most appalled by Michael Howard’s campaign (“as ineffectual as it was unpleasant”). Stephens concluded: “Mr Willetts should stand for the leadership. The rest of us should judge the maturity or otherwise of the Conservatives on how well he fares.” Most still think that DW is really running for the position he has long coveted – Shadow Chancellor. He won’t have helped that ambition with his piece in yesterday’s Times. It was sceptical about tax cuts for the poor and the frontrunning, tax-cutting DD is unlikely to appoint a Treasury spokesman with such views.
Liam Fox (+1) flew across the Atlantic to speak to the Heritage Foundation and gave a workmanlike speech on the economic and undemocratic weaknesses of Old Europe. He said all of the right things but nothing new.
Ken Clarke (-1) had a bad week. Although Ann Widdecombe offered her considerable support, Ken lost the backing of one-time allies Damian Green and Ian Taylor.
Malcolm Rifkind also gets a –1. He has been invisible.
In the week that IDS held his social justice awards ceremony, Theresa May also gets a special award - Hero(ine) Of The Week. On Wednesday she stood up for party democracy. She has very few MPs behind her possible leadership bid but she has demonstrated principle in a parliamentary party that has shamefully voted to restrict internal democracy.
If readers will forgive me I’m also going to award this blog a +1. In yesterday’s Telegraph Ben Rooney wrote: “Political blogging here has yet to assume the influence it has in America, but standing tallest on the Tory benches is conservativehome.blogs.com/toryleadership.” Thank you, Ben, and thanks to all the people who regularly post comments. More at least once a day…