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If, God forbid, David Cameron falls under a bus William Hague would certainly be the next Tory leader


In an interesting piece in the Independent on Sunday John Rentoul speculates at the unhappy prospect of David Cameron falling under a bus (driven by Gordon Brown?) and the question of a Conservative successor.  He is downbeat at what this would mean for the Conservative Party. I share his view that the Conservative Party would be weaker without David Cameron but I don't share his pessimism about who would succeed him.

William Hague does not want to be Tory leader again.  At least I don't think he does.  1997 to 2001 wasn't the happiest time of his life and in the period when he was off the frontbench he discovered greater joys than electioneering including book writing, marriage, learning to play the piano and making money.  A lot of money.  I wouldn't be at all surprised if he left politics in four or five years to write more books, as an ex-Foreign Secretary.  But if an emergency vacancy arose I think the party would unite behind him as the obvious choice for Tory leader.  He's consistently top of the monthly grassroots poll of Tory members, respected by his colleagues and increasingly commands affection from voters.  He's also understanding of what it means to be party leader.  He's up to the job.  I also believe that he's fully signed up to the balanced and broader conservatism of David Cameron.  He is not the William Hague of 2005; focused on Europe as the only issue which the party then had.  He's not the William Hague of 2003 who supported the Iraq war with gusto.  MkII Hague is softer and less dogmatic.  More of a managerialist.

I remain of the view that George Osborne is the second most powerful member of the Conservative Party - controlling tactical and strategic decisions with David Cameron - but he's not ready to be leader.  If David Cameron left the leadership for any reason and any time soon, William Hague would be his successor.

Tim Montgomerie


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