This is the first in a series of 'guest endorsements'. Next John Maples MP will advocate David Davis. Future endorsements will then include Michael Gove for David Cameron, Stephen O'Brien for Liam Fox and David Lidington for David Willetts. Today Crispin Blunt MP makes the case for Sir Malcolm Rifkind.
"In four years time a new Prime Minister will take his case to the country. Gordon Brown will be presenting his argument for a fourth term of Labour government. It is likely that he will have been Prime Minister for less than a year. Beyond the problems that dogged the Conservatives in 2001 and 2005, the mathematics of constituencies, our brand image and a lingering distrust, we will not be able to pin our hopes on an unpopular Prime Minister and a recent war. For the Conservatives to beat Labour and preventing further damaging intrusion into the lives of ordinary people they will need a leader who looks like a Prime Minister in waiting leading a government in waiting. This man is Malcolm Rifkind.
Malcolm Rifkind is the most articulate advocate of One Nation Conservatism, which combined with unequalled political judgement and personal qualities of charm, decency and humour can provide us with a leader of a cabinet of ‘all the talents.’ No one’s personal or intellectual dignity will be affronted by serving under Malcolm Rifkind, neither will they worry about the quality of his judgement. Not only can he be trusted as a future Prime Minister but he can compete with and defeat Gordon Brown at the despatch box.
The One Nation Group was formed when he was born in 1946. The term might have been coined with Malcolm Rifkind in mind. He is a genuine One Nation Conservative. He knows that the party must appeal across ethnic, social and other minority divides, which it has failed to do for the last eight years. One Nation means the whole of Britain geographically as well as metaphorically – Malcolm can revive the party beyond the limits of the South East and the countryside.
Rifkind’s One Nation liberalism would provide a stark contrast to Gordon Brown’s micromanaged nanny state. His pragmatic belief that people and communities should be trusted to order their affairs will be the convincing alternative to New Labour statism. The Conservatives under Malcolm Rifkind will not be obsessed with ideological fervour, nor will they be inward-looking. Malcolm’s optimism for our country and his deeply held One Nation principles will enable the party to have credibility as a party that is for people, not against them, for the whole nation not a just a part of it.
His experience speaks for itself. Elected in his twenties, in the cabinet in his thirties, and Foreign Secretary in his forties, becoming party leader in his fifties is not a step into the unknown for him or the party. As a minister and Secretary of State the command of his brief was universally respected and appreciated by his departments and his colleagues in the House of Commons. His courtesy disguises his steely determination to advance his cause. The beneficiaries have included the freedom movement in Poland in the 1980s, the defence budget in the 1990s and the ending of the party’s civil war over Europe before the 1997 General Election. This quality, combined with a profound patriotism, will make him an excellent defender of Britain’s interests in Europe and around the world.
To secure party advantage the party must appear and indeed act in what is in the country’s best interest if we engage in a game of celebrity political Big Brother to choose our next leader we will seem self-interested. If, however, in the uncertain world of the early 21st century the Conservative party presents a statesman as its candidate for Prime Minister we will have demonstrated our credibility as the next government. We will also be able to create the electoral coalition that can defeat the nanny state and expel New Labour and Gordon Brown from office in four years’ time."