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 roles.
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.